That's about it for this week kids: Happy Halloween!
Friday, October 31, 2008
So, Wilco debuted a new song on the Colbert Report last night. Sounds like much more of a "rocker" than the stuff on Sky Blue Sky. The performance is a good one, and it's nice to hear the band in more of an ass-kicking mode. That being said, is anyone else hearing a distinct "Werewolves Of London" vibe on the main riff? What's more - the "Colbert" segment of the lyrics - is this a joke? We'll be curious to see if this turns out to be a "real" tune or more of a one-off. Thanks to Stranger Dance for the tip.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Normally being compared to Bob Dylan is not a good thing. It's kind of like being compared to The Beatles: the implied greatness of the artist somehow indicates that trying to emulate them is futile. That being said, we have to admit that sometimes you can be compared to the greats and have it be a good thing: Such is the case with Pirate Radio. The band released their new record Welcome Home at the beginning at the month, and the first thing we thought when we heard it was "Oh Mercy".
That's certainly a vocal nod, but the more we listened to the disc, the more that we realized there's a whole lot more going on than just a solid vocal tribute. The band has an understated traditional rock vibe that manages to keep you listening and paying attention even when the overall tone of the piece seems familiar. Put differently, they deliver a record of actual high quality rock songs, rather than an imitation of those that already exist. That being said, the record's vibe is definitely traditional. It would be hard to argue that there are many difficult musical boundries being broken. Rather, it's a solid effort in songwriting and instrumentation rooted firmly in the traditions of Dylan, Young, and Springsteen.
We have yet to see the band live, and unfortunately our schedule keeps sidelining us whenever they're playing. However, for you lucky folks, the band will be at Amnesia this evening. If you're feeling in the mood for some quality tunes, it's worth checking out.
You may remember a few weeks back that we were fawning over last.fm's new video interface. Well, thanks to our friends over at Stranger Dance, we now know that as of today MTV has shown them up. As in: destroyed them. MTV Music is the network's attempt to get "back to their roots" and offer viewers a real window into the selection of videos in the MTV Library. Suffice it to say it's a big library. Really it needs to be seen to be believed. Check it out for yourself.
Not So Silent Night 2008 Features Killers, Death Cab, Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand: Presale Thursday At 10AM
Live 105's perennial Not So Silent Night has made an upgrade this year: The show has left its traditional digs at the Bill Graham Civic Center and moved to the monumental Oracle Arena. Essentially, this means that the city's biggest and most over populated show has become even bigger and more overpopulated, and also has left the city. Indeed.
This year's show will feature The Killers, Death Cab For Cutie, Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, and Jack's Mannequin (We'll be honest: we've never heard of Jack's Mannequin. Is that bad?). A pretty epic lineup: we like to call it the "Hot Indie Bands Of '04 Who Have Gone To Major Labels" lineup. Okay, seriously though, enough snark: If you do in fact want to go, there's a presale this morning (Thursday) at 10. The password is "oakland". Indeed.
Okay, we know you're probably starting to think we're overly obsessed with Ryan Adams or something, but come on! The man has a fantastic new record out, and he's on a media blitz! Plus, what can we say: we're suckers for a good looking skinny dude in an Iron Maiden shirt and tight jeans. All things being equal, just take our advice on this one and go check out this vid (web exclusive) of the Cards playing "Cobwebs" on Letterman today.
Video: Ryan Adams And The Cardinals - Cobwebs (On David Lettterman)
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
This week Stereogum's Gumdrop newsletter is focused in on San Francisco locals Vetiver, and has a free track from the band. Vetiver is following up their covers album Thing Of The Past with an additional covers EP entitled More Of The Past. The free track is a cover of A.R. Kane's "Miles Apart". Do yourself a favor and head over to the Gumdrop to check it out.
Well kids, everyone can play, but sadly not everyone can win. In the case of tomorrow evening's Black Keys show there could only be two winners. Congratulations to Cristy Sanada and Joel Hawkins! Both of you won a pair of tickets to tomorrow nights show, as well as admission to the pre-show meet and greet! Keep an eye out for a confirmation email, and as for the rest of you, well: there are still ways to get tickets, right?
San Francisco electronica mavens Maus Haus will be releasing their latest record, Lark Marvels, at The Rickshaw Stop tonight. We haven't seen the band live, but if their tunes on myspace are any indication, it'll be a treat to catch them out and about. What's more, they'll be selling the release exclusively on vinyl this evening - a band after our own hearts! The show is all ages, so all you college folk really have no excuse: check it out!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Okay, we have to admit that we're a bit skeptical as to whether being the only ones listed in the "featured videos" section really constitutes a full YouTube "takeover". Yet that's how Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett are billing their latest album promotion for Monkey Journey To The West. All things being equal, we suppose we'll let it slide.
Since we last mentioned the record, it's been getting quite a warm reception with the press, and for good reason. Despite all his pop-rock sensibilites, Albarn seems to have quite the knack for mashing himself up with a variety of musical influences. We loved Mali Music, and Monkey is continuing the pattern. In addition to the record, the stage show of the album just opened at the O2 Dome in London. Alas, for those of you who are stuck stateside, you'll have to make do with the latest video promoting the record, above.
Well folks, welcome to April. Put differently: we were asleep at the wheel. While we were busy lamenting one Scottish band's absence from our continent, we missed a record from another that is positively fantastic. Lucky for you, we managed to take notice in time for you to catch them live.
Frightened Rabbit released The Midnight Organ Fight in mid-April (get it now?). To be frank, hearing it now, we can't help but feel that we had a chunk of our soul missing for the past six months. The record is loaded with vocal and instrumental urgency that makes you want to jump up and scream and clap your hands and wrap your arms around anyone you can find. We know, it sounds crazy and extreme, but it's real.
The band has managed to construct arrangements that at first listen seem driving, simple, and clean. It's only on further listen that one realizes that the parts are remarkably intricate and ornate. It's the melding of their respective nuances that allows them to come across as a single unified force, despite their complexity.
On top of it all Scott Hutchison's vocals deliver the band's heart on a sleeve. His lyrics are those of a lover who has been dismissed, but recovered. There is sadness is braced with a strong wit, and a realization that the feeling of loss is not necessarily a feeling of desire. In short, Hutchison's voice is remarkably self aware: it is at once loathing of itself, those around him, and no one at all.
We suppose it goes without saying, but in case you're a bit slow on the uptake: we love this record. We picked it up on a whim, and couldn't be happier that we did so. It is a masterpiece of lyric, music, and soul. To some of you we're probably coming across as cheese balls, but if we weren't willing to get this excited about a record, would you really want to trust us about anything? We didn't think so.
So here's the real treat: the band's doing two shows at Bottom Of The Hill this weekend, on Saturday and Sunday night. Unfortunately, the HAD crew has a NYC based obligation, so we're going to have to make do with the band's new live release (released just last week). But you, dear reader, can go and check it out, and love it, and kiss it, and hug it. Because this music is very, very, good.
mp3: Frightened Rabbit - The Modern Leper (You Send It, Click Through)
Monday, October 27, 2008
Despite the fact that we get a little grumpy about their lack of US appearances, we here at HAD are still pretty damned happy whenever there's a new release from The Twilight Sad. The combination of scottish brogue, anthemic songwriting, guitar fuzz, and bleeding heart sadness gets us every time. This time around, the band is releasing an EP that consists of a combination of new material, live tracks, and covers (yes, we get it). To those familiar with the band, the covers should come as no surprise: Smiths, Joy Division, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Call it "covers with a dose of misery", if you will. Here's the full track listing:
01 - Walking for Two Hours (live)
02 - That Summer, At Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy (live)
03 - Untitled #28
04 - Cold Days From the Birdhouse (live)
05 - And She Would Darken the Memory (live)
06 - Twenty Four Hours (Joy Division)
07 - The Weather Is Bad
08 - Half a Person (The Smiths)
09 - Untitled #27
10 - Modern Romance (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
11 - I Was Hoping the Winter Was Over
Unfortunately, the band still doesn't have any scheduled dates in the US, but we'll keep hoping. In the meantime, those live tracks are about as close as you'll get. Or, if you want to get reduced value for your dollar, you could always take a trip to Europe and see them on the road opening for Mogwai. It could be cool, kids.
Twilight Sad Tour Dates
10-27 Luxembourg, Luxembourg - Rockhal (with Mogwai)
10-28 Paris, France - Casino de Paris (with Mogwai)
10-29 Cologne, Germany - Live Music Hall (with Mogwai)
10-30 Amsterdam, Netherlands - Melkweg (with Mogwai)
11-02 Copenhagen, Denmark - Vega (with Mogwai)
11-03 Lund, Sweden - Mejeriet (with Mogwai)
11-04 Stockholm, Sweden - Cirkus (with Mogwai)
11-06 Berlin, Germany - Huxleys (with Mogwai)
11-08 Hamburg, Germany - Grosse Freiheit (with Mogwai)
11-10 Frankfurt, Germany - Mousonturm (with Mogwai)
11-11 Dresden, Germany - Alter Schlachthof (with Mogwai)
11-12 Munich, Germany - Backstage-Werk (with Mogwai)
11-13 Vienna, Austria - Wuk (with Mogwai)
11-15 Prague, Czech Republic - Archa Theatre (with Mogwai)
11-17 Fribourg, Switzerland - Fri-Son (with Mogwai)
11-18 Zurich, Switzerland - Rote Fabrik (with Mogwai)
12-23 Glasgow, Scotland - King Tut's Wah Wah Hut
12-24 Glasgow, Scotland - The Swan
If you weren't already aware of it, Ryan Adams' much anticipated (and much loved around here) latest record Cardinology drops this week. As such, the band is ramping up to their Fall tour activities to promote the album. For us in the Bay Area, this means waiting until December for the gig with Oasis. So, in the meantime, the band has sent along some freebies for your record-release-week enjoyment: a video for "Crossed Out Name" (above), and a live version of "Cobwebs" in both mp3 and flac format (below). Well done guys, well done.
The Cardinals Fall Tour Dates:
October 31st - NYC - Apollo Theater
November 8 - Dublin, Ireland - Ambassador Theatre
November 10 - Manchester Academy
November 11 - Newcastle Academy
November 13 - Leeds Academy
November 14 - Edinburgh, Scotland - Picture House
November 16 - Cambridge - Corn Exchange
November 17 - Birmingham Academy
November 19 - Brighton Dome
November 20 - Brixton Academy
November 22 - Southampton Guildhall
December 3 - Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
December 4 - Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
December 6 - The Pearl, Las Vegas
December 8 - Broomfield Events Center, Denver, CO
December 10 - Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
December 12 - Allstate Arena, Chicago, IL
December 13 - Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI
December 15 - John Labatt Center, London, ON
December 17 - Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
December 19 - Susquenhanna, Camden, NJ
December 20 - GMU Patriot Center, Washington DC
mp3: The Cardinals - Cobwebs (live)
flac: The Cardinals - Cobwebs (live)
It seems to us that most listeners fall into one of two categories with Pavement: Those who love the band, and those who don't. There seems to be very little of folks "kind of" liking Pavement - those who are turned off by the band are pretty alienated, and those who have been turned on are devout. The thing is, we here at HAD are pretty sure that everyone would be in the first category, given the right exposure. To be frank, we used to be in the "don't get it" category, and then one day (unfortunately, after the band broke up) it just sort of clicked for us. The band has a pretty diverse body of work, and figuring out where to start can be tough. In fact, we'd be willing to guess that the breadth of their work has a lot to do with their apparent inaccesiblity to some. So, if you find yourself wondering how you might sink your teeth into some Pavement, HAD is here to help! (We've even included some choice cuts for the new listener...)
Westing By Musket And Sextant
While technically not an original album, this record is critical Pavement listening: it's a compilation of the singles and EPs that the band released prior to Slanted and Enchanted. This is some of the band's most experimental material, and frankly maybe not the best starting point. That being said, it's a great taste of why the band was hailed for breaking down sonic barriers from the very beginning. Choice cuts: "Box Elder", "She Believes"
Slanted and Enchanted
This is the band's first full length studio album, and according to Stephen Malkmus, the point at which the band "sold out". Presumably this was because the band signed to a label and stopped self releasing vinyl. That being said, this is definitely still some of Pavement's edgier material: the clashing guitars and noise experimentalism of Westing are still going strong, and Gary Young was still on drums. Again, if you have trouble with the noise rock, maybe not the best place to start, but immensely rewarding once you wrap your head around it. Choice cuts: "Summer Babe", "Trigger Cut", "Zurich Is Stained", "Here"
Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
This is where Pavement really solidified as a band and delivered an album that pulled in legions of fans. Steve West was now on drums, and the lineup was the foundation for what would drive the band for the next five years. This disc is the automatic "go to" disc for many Pavement fans, and with good reason. It's fantastic front to back, has a perfect blend of the band's experimentalism and more accessible songwriting, and even features the semi-hit "Cut Your Hair". Choice cuts: "Cut Your Hair", "Gold Soundz", "Range Life", "Newark Wilder", "Silence Kid"
Apparently this record is the fave of many hard core Pavement fans. To our ears it's always sounded somewhat disjointed: it doesn't really have a "feel" as an album, and hangs together in a manner that's closer to a compilation than a record. That being said, it has some great cuts, and definitely illustrates the transition in the band's sound to become a more song-oriented band, with less of an emphasis on dischord and distortion. Choice cuts: "Rattled By The Rush", "Grounded", "Flux = Rad"
Brighten the Corners
For us, this is the record that defines the second half of Pavement's career. Malkmus' songwriting and lyricism had matured, and the band had finessed their sound to be experimental while avoiding being harsh on the ears. The disc is a masterpiece, and each song is a reward unto itself. What's more, it's probably the band's most accessible record, and offers the listener some of the most choice moments Malkmus' wit. Choice cuts: "Stereo", "Transport Is Arranged", "Blue Hawaii", "We Are Underused", "Starlings Of The Slipstream"
We've made no secret of our love of this record, despite it not necessarily being at the top of every fan's list. The record is a fantastic combination of production values, songwriting, and experimentalism that blend together as the most cohesive record the band ever made. That being said, many feel that it's more a Malkmus album than a Pavement album, and lacks some of the band's character. We beg to differ: check this one out. Choice cuts: "And Carrot Rope...", "The Hexx", "You Are A Light",
So there you have it - Pavement's albums distilled for you in an easy-to-read beginners package. We realize it's not an end all be all on the topic, but hopefully we provided enough of a jumping off point that some of you will give it a whirl. If you need any more incentive, well, all these records are available on eMusic, so you can even sign up and hear them for free. Try it: You won't be sorry.
Friday, October 24, 2008
So, next Thursday The Black Keys will be playing a sold out show (along with Dr. Dog) at The Fillmore. The show is the final date in the "Converse Century Concert Series", which has had dates with various bands across the country. The idea (apparently) is to get people into sweet shows for only $10 a ticket. Not a bad idea. But wait: we'll take it a step further.
See, the folks at Converse were nice enough to give us two pairs of tickets to give away to this show, and they included bracelets for the pre-show meet and greet with the band beforehand. So, yes, you could win and get to go for $0 - plus you get to meet the band. Killer, right?
All you need to do is send the answer to the following question to email@example.com by midnight on Tuesday at midnight, which is when we're going to shut the doors. We'll announce the winners on Wednesday.
One entry per person, please. Here goes:
At what Bay Area music festival and on which stage and date did the Black Keys play this year?
- Conor Oberst And The Mystic Valley Band @ The Warfield
- The Mountain Goats @ The Fillmore
- Laurie Anderson @ Zellerbach Hall In Berkeley (we had no idea!)
- Laurie Anderson @ Zellerbach Hall In Berkeley (!!!)
- Bridge School Benefit Day 1 @ Shoreline
- The Kooks @ The Warfield
After we hit you with a deluge of EELS news the other day, you may have noticed that a commenter mentioned the PBS Nova episode on Mark Oliver Everett and his father, who was a scientist of some renown. The episode, entitled Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives, is a focus on E's quest to find and better understand his father via his scientific theories.
We haven't seen the episode yet, but apparently the soundtrack is all new EELS material. What's even better, you don't have to sit around and record an audio feed off the television, because you can download the soundtrack from itunes! If you want to watch the actual program, this week only you can watch it on-line. If that's not working for you, you can order the DVD from PBS, or watch the encore presentation this Saturday at 10 PM on KQED's "Life" HD Channel - that's channel 54.3 over-the-air, kids. We don't do cable.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Well, I guess we'll have to eat crow in terms of our recommendation of the Deluxe Buy Early Get Now version of Brighten The Corners: Due to "delays at the vinyl record plant" (um, perhaps due to $205 vinyl box sets?), the deluxe version has been delayed for release until December 9th. Of course, you still get your stream, and b-sides, and download codes. Nonetheless, it would have been nice to get that nice warm physical media all the sooner.
In an effort to keep your sad eyes smiling, we at HAD dug up the latest Stephen Malkmus vid (Pitchfork.tv via Stereogum), which is basically a tribute to Portland being indie-rock central. that, and the wonderful world of construction paper cut outs. It's not going to blow your mind or anything, but at least it'll distract you from that absent Pavement vinyl...
Well, earlier today we got notice that our Cardinology vinyl had shipped, and figured we'd be listening to the record in just a day or two. The internet being what it is, turns out we had to wait about two hours: the band started streaming the full album via iLike this afternoon. There's no need to login or anything, and well, we likey.
This disc sounds significantly more consistent than Easy Tiger, and there's a degree less sweetness in the production values, which is definitely a good thing. "Magick" lives up to it's live version in terms of delivering a solid dose of rock, and even the most chill tunes manage to have a bit of an edge to them. "Crossed Out Name" picks up where the B-Side "Twice As Bad As Love" left off, and "Stop" holds strong to Adams' sometimes-tradition of wrapping up with a killer piano ballad. "Fix It" had us a bit concerned that we'd be complacent on this record, but we're really enjoying this. It's good, people. Very good.
Stream: Ryan Adams And The Cardinals - Cardinology
We here at HAD tend to love all things EELS: There's something about the combination of Mark Oliver Everett's cantankerous attitude combined with sweet, sweet melody that gets us every time. That being what it is, we were pretty psyched to see a deluge of EELS activity, which until recently had been confined to January's greatest hits release.
First up, the band is releasing a vinyl box set of the 2005 release Blinking Lights And Other Revelations. The lengthy release requires 3 slabs of 180g vinyl, and they're throwing in a bonus live disc from a 2005 Manchester show. If you're counting, that's 4 vinyl platters. Now here's the rub: the release costs $205. Yes, you heard that correctly. Call us cynical, but paying over $200 for 4 slabs of vinyl (typical price...$50?) one of which is a live release for a tour that already has a live CD? Is the validation that there's a hardcover book along for the ride? Would that be a $155 book? Oh no, wait, we see: it's limited to 2500 copies, and autographed. Right. We love vinyl, and special packaging, and all the rest, but really??? Pardon us for being a tad skeptical.
Thankfully, for those without infinite record buying budgets, the band also has some more affordable retail offerings. For one, there's a free giveaway of four of the Manchester tracks. For another, Everett has released a memoir of his childhood entitled Things The Grandchildren Should Know. There's even an audio version read by the Chet! Last but not least, the EELS store has an exclusive CD/DVD of a 2006 London show. All of this is so lovely and consumable, you'll find yourself forgetting about that $205 box set in no time.
While you're at it, enjoy the Jon Brion remix of "Climbing To The Moon" below - we just discovered it, and well: awesome.
According to a recent interview with the BBC, The Strokes will be back in the studio come February with the goal of "getting back to being a band again". While that's good news in the wake of band-stability doubts (ours included), it probably means we're looking at close to a year before we see anything from The Strokes as a unit.
In the meantime you can satiate your Stroktastic desire with the latest output from bassist Nikolai Fraiture: Nickel Eye. The new project kicked off with a bang at CMJ last week, and from what we've heard the tracks are sounding pretty damned sweet. The album drops January 27th, but you can check out tracks at the band's my space page. The first track (single?) "Brandy Of The Damned" is below - would it be remiss if we said it has some definite Paul Simenon "Guns Of Brixton" feel to it? Bassist's of the world unite!
Tapes 'n Tapes have scheduled themselves a Winter tour, and their choice for a stopoff in San Francisco is the Great American Music Hall. We missed the band's show at The Fillmore in May, but by all accounts their live show (despite being relatively short) lives up to the blogospheric hype. What's more, their second record has been holding up quite well over the last year, and we find ourselves coming back to it quite a bit. Should be a good one...
Tickets are on sale now.
In case you find yourself elsewhere, here's the full schedule for the Winter tour:
01-15 Omaha, NE - The Waiting Room
01-17 Boulder, CO - Fox Theater
01-19 Boise, ID - Neurolux
01-20 Seattle, WA - Neumos
01-21 Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
01-23 San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall
01-24 Los Angeles, CA - El Rey Theater
01-25 San Diego, CA - Casbah
01-29 Austin, TX - The Parish
01-30 Dallas, TX - Club Dada
02-02 Lawrence, KS - Jackpot Music Hall
02-03 Columbia, MO - Mojo's
02-04 Ames, IA - Maintenance Shop
02-06 Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
02-20 Notre Dame, IN - Legends
02-21 Columbus, OH - The Basement
02-24 Boston, MA - Paradise
02-25 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
02-26 Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg
02-27 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
02-28 Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel
03-03 Atlanta, GA - The Earl
03-04 Birmingham, AL - Bottletree
03-05 Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge
03-07 Chicago, IL - Metro
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Remember how we told you that The Heavenly States had done a killer rework of Fergie's "Glamorous" for the SF Weekly Music Awards? Well, here it is, in all its glory: "Glamorous (as Religulous)". Eat your heart out, Bill Maher!
While we haven't been so hot on them as of late, we figured there might be a few readers who had plans to check The Killers at The Warfield tonight. Well, from the looks of things, you're going to have to wait a bit longer: the band has cancelled the show due to illness. According to the band's website, the show has been postponed until December 12th, when all original tickets will be honored. Sorry kids.
No Pussyfooting is one of those records that isn't exactly an easy listen. For one, the only two tracks on it, "The Heavenly Music Corporation" and "Swastika Girls", each clock in at around twenty minutes. For another, it's one of the seminal pieces of ambient electronica, and as such may not exactly appeal to those who are looking for melody and structured composition in their music.
Still, when given proper attention, the record opens up to reveal a world of textures and melody that aren't apparent at first listen. Fripp's pioneering "Frippertronics" make their notable debut here, and the usage is fantastic. The lead melodies surge and sway enough to make the listener think that there are a slew of synthesizers shaping the music. Meanwhile, Eno's background textures serve as a foundation that Fripp continually builds upon over time.
For a record that at first glance has no melodies, repeated listens turn it into a remarkably melodic affair. As one familiarizes themselves with the swells of Fripp's guitar, the expectation for their appearance becomes second nature. Seemingly random synth lines turn into mini-symphonic masterpieces, and long deep drones lose the quality of seeming endless. Instead, the drones' termination becomes expected and sensible exactly where it is. It is music that demands attention and time, and once given as much, rewards the listener with an unparalleled sonic landscape. Suffice it to say, we're big fans of the record.
For us here at HAD, the truly exciting news is that No Pussyfighting (along with the second Fripp/Eno disc Evening Star) has been remastered for release as a two disc set. The second disc contains half speed and reversed versions of the original album tracks, all overseen by Fripp himself. For a record that is inherently ambient and abstract, these "redux" versions (apparently inspired by an accidental reversal of one of the tracks by the BBC) allow for a listener already familiar with the originals to take on the very same material in a wholly new and challenging way. And, for those who maybe haven't heard the originals, well - the sky's the limit.
The Eno/Fripp reissues go on sale today.
Well, regardless of venue renovations and branding, the more compelling part to us here is that the venue will be hosting Scissors For Lefty on Saturday, November 1st. The band's releasing their new EP this Saturday in New York, so we're guessing this will be something of a homecoming party for the same release. We haven't heard the EP, but we were liking the new tunes when we saw SFL at the Rickshaw in September. Checkit.
Well, who knew? Apparently Butch Walker is an avid reader of HAD - enough so that he made mention of yesterday's post at his show last night. We suppose he's right that we haven't really heard his other records, but the "hipster CORRECTION: doofus" (our bad) thing? You've got us all wrong Butch: hipsters won't even talk to us! But we digress...
Last night's show was a solo affair for Butch Walker. Walker played a mix of piano, guitar, and what appeared to be a Fender Rhodes. The Independent was setup in seated "cocktail table" mode, and the atmosphere was definitely what one would refer to as intimate. The crowd was clearly littered with Butch Walker devotees, and many of the tunes had a singalong going before they had even started. Walker played a fair amount of material off of his new record, along with some older favorites. Despite our (admitted) unfamiliarity, some of these tunes really grabbed us: in particular "Mixtape" is a track that's definitely worth your time.
Walker's live show was rock solid, and the strongest aspects of his record were paralleled in a live setting. His songwriting sensibility is dead on, and his vocals are some of the truest we've heard in a long while. There aren't many rock singers out there today who really have a huge vocal range, and use it in as versatile a way as Walker did last night.
The biggest disappointments to us was the absence of a full band. Not that Walker didn't hold his own over the course of the night, but many of the songs' strongest riffs were often absent from the tunes. It didn't make them any less worthwhile, but we did find ourselves humming many of the lead guitar lines when Walker hit the instrumental breaks. We're hoping that next time he's in town Walker shows up with a full band - we'd love to hear these tunes with all their riffage in tact.
More photos over at the HAD Archive
Monday, October 20, 2008
Tickets are on-sale now.
We wouldn't typically go for this type of thing: Butch Walker, producer of Avril Lavigne, Pink, and Lindsay Lohan, has decided to release solo album after losing his home in the LA fires. It seems laden with cliche, overly self indulgent, and just plain outside of our typical realm of interest. But here's the rub: Butch Walker's actually quite interesting. For one, he owns therecordbusinessisfucked.com. What's more, despite all of his major-label cache, he's releasing his record independently, and attempting to work outside the system. It was enough to get us interested.
The record itself is a pure dose of LA power-pop. Think Gold-era Ryan Adams, or Sheryl Crow on her better days. Walker pulls all of his producer tricks out of the bag and delivers an album that manages to successfully jump between ballads, rockers, and almost-country ditties. On top of the slick production, Walker has some real songwriting chops: his melodies are solid and memorable, and many of the guitar licks rival the best we've heard. At times it almost borders on "Drops Of Jupiter" levels of saccharine sweet, but manages to steer of any truly disastrous turns for the worse.
Walker balances the mainstream vibe of his record by keeping his best traits close to the surface of the record. His voice is probably his biggest asset: it manages to have character and age, while at the same time still having the chops to pull off brave forays into falsetto. His lyrics are fiercely confessional: they seem to give a (at times painfully) honest view of what's it's like to be a rock musician in your late 30's in the LA scene. The two combined manage to temper the record's high level of accessiblity with a solid dose of personality and vitality.
Walker will be at The Independent tonight, and we're curious to see how the songs hold up in a live setting. If there's anyone that can finesse an album to sound good, it's an experienced producer. To keep those songs standing up in the live setting is another thing altogether.
Stream: Butch Walker @ Myspace
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Kings Of Leon just keep getting bigger. Bigger sound, bigger venues, bigger crowds - everything about the band is pushing in the direction of the realization that they are coming into their own as a force in the world of rock and roll. There are some that seem to begrudge them this, but last night's show at The Warfield said otherwise. A sold out crowd (tonight's sold out too) was right with the band for every moment of the show. They knew every word, and some of the loudest cheers came for the very newest material.
Just last year, the band released Because Of The Times, and gave fans a taste of the new Kings Of Leon. For a band that six years ago was referred to as the "Southern Strokes" the record was a clear statement of a departure from the clean garage rock that had originally gotten them recognition. This year's Only By The Night took the band's direction a step further, and firmly defined a new identity that is serving the band extremely well.
The band's new perspective was evident last night's show in both the setlist and their sound. The set drew heavily on the last three albums, with only one track from the band's first. What's more, many of the tracks off the band's second record have adopted the newer, harder edge of their recent efforts. That sound dominated the night, with driving crunchy bass lines driving many of the songs, and the emphasis clearly being on rock. We mentioned last year that the band truly delivers in a live setting, and this certainly continues to hold true. Their technical proficiency and ability to create intricate sounds in unflappable.
That being said, the band is not without its bits of kitschy showmanship. They've developed clear cut stylistic personas, and all of them strut with a confident rock and roll swagger. When he revealed to the crowd that he was feeling a tad under the weather, Caleb Followill did a shot of whiskey and concluded "At home they taught us when you feel bad, you get drunk!" Silly? Perhaps. Appropriate? Totally.
Kings Of Leon play again tonight at The Warfield. The show is sold out.
Taper Jean Girl
King Of The Rodeo
Sex On Fire
Somebody Like You
Slow Night, So Long
More photos at the HAD Archive
Friday, October 17, 2008
Last night at Ruby Skye we had the pleasure of attending the 2008 SF Weekly Music Awards. Amidst the free food, wandering crowd, and sporadic MCing of the various awards, The Heavenly States and Lyrics Born both managed to deliver solid sets of tunes and add some local musical flavor to the event.
The Heavenly States played a set that drew primarily on their latest record, Delayer. The last time we saw these guys live we hadn't really heard the record. This time around, it was great to hear the tunes with a bit of context and familiarity.
The set was absent of any of the record's slower material, and instead kept rock on the brain. "Lost In The Light" delivered on its single-material catchiness, and "Morning Exercise" was loaded with heart-on-the-sleeve passion.
Perhaps the most surprising moment of the band's set was a completely earnest cover of Fergie's "Glamorous". To our ears, the band's version completely blew the original out of the water, and in doing so managed to rob it of any irony, intended or otherwise. Our only gripe: lead singer Ted Nesseth mentioned the cover was "available" - where Ted, where????
We don't go to a ton of hip hop shows, but from what we saw last night Lyrics Born is doing them right. He really drew the crowd in, and had everyone dancing. What's more, he was backed by an awesome live band, with a minimal amount of sample-driven content. Our recommendation: don't miss him next time he's out and about.
That's all for your SF Weekly Music Awards until next year, you can check out the winners at All Shook Down...
Many more photos available at the HAD Archive
This just in: the oft-previewed, now complete, soon to be on DVD, Flaming Lips epic Christmas On Mars, will be shown in full-theatre glory at The Roxie starting on Halloween! So, if you find yourself stymied by San Francisco's continual efforts to quiet down Halloween fun, now you have yourself a nice little plan-B. If you have other plans on Halloween, well, the film will be showing through November 5th. Either way, it's win-win!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Hey kids - just a helpful reminder: The SF Weekly music awards show is tonight at Ruby Skye. The awards will feature, among others, local hip-hop maestro Lyrics Born and Oakland band The Heavenly States. We were turned onto the States when they opened for Spoon, and now we can't get enough of their new record - highly recommended.
Tickets are ten bucks, and on-sale now.
Last night was a good night for music at The Bottom Of The Hill. Plants and Animals, along with Portland's Nurses and fellow Canadians Born Ruffians, played to a crowd that was highly appreciative of what each band had to offer.
Nurses opened the night with an extremely respectable set of psych-pop that centered around layered vocals, guitars and synth lines. There was definitely a hint of Animal Collective influence in the mix, but largely the band defined their sound and made it their own
Plants and Animals were up next, and for our money, this was the set of the night. The trio played a shorter set than when they were at The Rickshaw Stop, but it was equally full of energy and dynamics.
As a trio, this band does a masterful job at recreating the many layers of sound on their records. Much of this is due to the face that all three band members are technically masterful on their instruments: Nicolas Basque easily holds down 2-3 instruments over the course of a song, Matthew Woodley provides all sorts of percussive accents, and Warren Spicer's vocals and guitar simply slam home the band's energy.
The really amazing thing about Plants and Animals is that they leverage all of this well-honed technicality to create a show that seems completely reckless. The band's ability to keep a handle on things is so solid that the bursts at the seams, and yet never loses its place. In particular, the version of "Faerie Dance" last night was off the charts.
Born Ruffians certainly had the crowd rearing to go before their set, and once things got going the devout just got more excited. While the band was spot-on technically, and certainly roped in the crowd with an enthusiastic performance, it just wasn't our cup of tea.
The melodies were a bit simplistic, and the off-kilter beats seemed like they had been recycled from elsewhere. We're also pretty vocal-centric around here, and Luke Lalonde's vocals were a tad on the reedy side for our taste. Case in point: he covered a Dylan song ("The Man In Me") and actually managed to sound more reedy than Dylan. That's reedy, folks. Don't get us wrong: the band delivered a solid live set, and if you are digging their tunes, don't hesitate to see them live. They certainly deliver.
As we mentioned above, Plants and Animals were far and away the highlight for us last night. The other bands made good on their performances, but Plants and Animals are so evidently a band that is on the cusp of blowing up, that it was difficult to watch them leave the stage. We're psyched to have them back in San Francisco so soon after their last show, but we're hoping next time it will be as a headliner.