28 January 2011

Stuck In My Head : Young the Giant, "My Body"

I'm pretty out of the loop. (That's the understatement of the year, and it's only January.)

For instance : I know next to nothing about this band Young the Giant, other than that they've recently released a record, and that their song "My Body" keeps getting stuck in my head.



And that that's not a proper video. I know that. Here's a more proper video.



And I now know that making "quesadillas" in the microwave is not the best idea I've ever had. My lunch is a gooey, chewy mess.

16 November 2010

Hello, world. It's been a while. Here's what I've been listening to.

The title says it all. I always want to get back to writing on a regular basis, but I just haven't been in-tune enough with what has been going on, music-wise, for the past eleven months for me to write something, or anything, decent. This is probably a bad time to get back into things; every music outlet on the Interwebs is going to be flooded with top 10 lists for the next two months, and this time, it's not just top 10 of the year but top 10 of the decade. Ugh.

Well, in the meantime, here's a small smattering of what I've been listening to lately. None of it is new, but it's all good.



I came across this when somebody posted a comment along the lines of "here's some real talent and body paint" in response to this. (Why is Kim Kardashian even noteworthy, and why is she naked?) Weird, huh? Anyway, "I Am Not A Robot" and "Mowgli's Road" have been getting stuck in my head over the past few weeks.



Speaking of getting stuck in your head, how catchy is that one? I swear I heard this, in its entirety, in a dream last night. Is that normal? Um, they also have videos with the lyrics in Spanish and German.



And now for something completely different. This is the fifth of six videos made for their latest effort, Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky, which came out in January and I meant to write about and don't think I actually did. I'm not sure how much I like this new batch of videos. This is animated toast, which is either really awesome or really...weird. The animation is certainly pretty, but it reminds me of this, for some reason. They've also done a video with dogs, which I guess goes well with this lot.



Yeah, seriously. Fucking earworm.



Why didn't anyone introduce me to the Posies like, five years ago? I took it upon myself to watch the entirety of Daria and finished up, I dunno', a few months ago. The original version of this song played over the original TV broadcast of Is It Fall Yet?, and luckily that was the version that I came across. It's all I've wanted to listen to since then.

26 January 2010

Some Business for you.

As your local former Ser Biz intern, it is my duty to inform you that disbanded as of I-don't-remember-when SBR band Man In Gray are back with a one-show reunion at Union Hall on 20 Feb. :



Man in Gray
With not-on-Ser-Biz-but-much-beloved-by-them-nonetheless El Jezel and Coyote Eyes (who, if you'll remember, I saw at Northside back in June)
8 pm
8 dollars
21+


There's some other Business going on (upcoming shows and records) that I haven't quite caught up on, so you'll have to wait for that. In the meantime, feel free to download SBR's annual free compilation of last year's releases and hits, The Year In Business : 2009.



Tracklisting :

1) SAADI - "Bad City (Serious Business Remix)"
2) The Two Man Gentlemen Band - "Me, I Get High on Reefer" (live)
3) The Paparazzi - "The Rococo Tape"
4) The Octagon - "Suicide Kings"
5) Higgins - "What Don't You Want?"
6) Jack and the Pulpits - "Francypants"
7) Rocketship Park - "Spinning Globes"
8) Benji Cossa - "Annie Delia"
9) The Unsacred Hearts - "Fake Kisses"
10) The Two Man Gentlemen Band - "Drip Dryin'(Reprise!)"

You can download the whole thing in a .zip here.

In case you missed out, The Year in Business : 2008 is here and 2007 over here.

19 January 2010

So it's a new year.

I'm sort of ashamed. I've REALLY fallen out of the habit of posting, haven't I? Which means I've fallen out of the habit of listening to new stuff, which means I have nothing to write about anyway, which makes it one big, vicious cycle. I've also been in Paris for four months now and I haven't yet gone to a concert. Not a single one. Not even at La Flèche d'or. This is batshit.

My goals for this year :

1) Keep y'all entertained and work up to posting an average of once per day. (I said "work up to." That's not going to happen this month.)

2) Stop being late to everything.

3) Figure out a way to get into the Pony Pony Run Run (21 January), B.B. Brunes (10 February), and Vampire Weekend (25 February) shows in Paris.


And in other news, Vampire Weekend has released a new record, OK Go has, too (and I actually have my tickets to go see them on the 26th), and I'll actually, ya' know, start listening to stuff and responding to your emails. Promise!


But seriously y'all, somebody get me into those shows and I will love you forever. Please?

20 November 2009

IT'S BAAAACK : La Fleche d'Or to reopen on 23 November. Hooray!

In the interest of full disclosure, I only went to la Flèche d'Or once to see Pony Pony Run Run before they were big enough to fill up une salle like La Cigale, but I didn't even stay for their set because my right ear was freaking out and I didn't know what wrong with it back then. (Which, ya' know, now I'm okay.)

And then I got news sometime back in May that it was shutting down due to "noise complaints." I thought it was gone for good (although this site posits that it was merely closed for soundproofing work) and was incredibly upset as I'd intended to spend every night I possibly could seeing shows there. La Flèche wasn't perfect - for starters, the drinks were terribly overpriced, but I suppose that was to make up for the fact that there was always 100% free entry. Plus they brought together obscure, up-and-coming, and fading bands from France, Belgium, the UK, the US, and more together for shows pretty much every night. I didn't go very often (if at all), but I did find some really great artists (like the aforementioned PPRR and Georgie James, for example) through their line-up.

Well, according to A Nous Paris, la Flèche is set to reopen on the 23rd, having been taken over by Alias and Asterios productions :







I'm not so keen on this whole "plus de sobriété" thing, but I guess if you're reopening a rock club that's been shut down for noise, it's necessary. The other big change : entry is now payante instead of free, which is a bummer. But 8 euros for a show is pretty reasonable and you get a drink along with that, so I guess it works out. Will that prevent me from going as often as I would have were it free? Yes. Do I still intend on making trips out there? Sure. Besides, Alias Productions sponsors a whole bunch of artists that I like, so I'm sure there will be shows I'll want to see.

Evan Dando from the Lemonheads is heading opening night, along with Chris Brokaw, Anoraak, and The Two. For the rest of the upcoming line up, go here.

11 November 2009

Stuck in my Head : My First Earthquake vs. MJ, "Billie Jean's Frenemies"

Way back in July (holy goodness, it's been that long...?), I was sent this video for My First Earthquake's first single of their debut record, Downstairs, called "Cool in the Cool Way." Given that it was released in mid-June, you may or may not have seen already.



It's subtitled "Invasion of the Hipster Bodysnatchers," and while I'm not usually keen on the whole "Those damn hipster kids! What's wrong with them?!" fist-shaking commentary, largely because a lot of those who make such commentary are eye-rolling hipsters themselves, this video seems to avoid falling in that pitfall because 1) it's self-deprecating, not eye-rolling, 2) it hints at the idea that "maybe we're hipsters, too," what with Rebecca's eyes flashing green at the end, and 3) it's damn catchy. I am not averse to damn catchy pop music.

Oh, plus their video for "Sweet Frowns" takes a stab at that favourite hipster girl obsession, Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette :



Wow, that's two videos. Maybe I should have called this a "Nothing's On Telly" instead of a "Stuck in my Head." Back on topic :

So, back when Michael Jackson died at the end of June (link for journalistic integrity and in case you've been living under a rock for the past five months), I feel like a whole load of people did covers and "tributes" and remixes and all sorts of things in his honour, justifiably so. Let's Sexy Fighting mashed up My First Earthquake's "In The Forest With Frenemies" with MJ's "Billie Jean" to get "Billie Jean's Frenemies." I think I had this song on repeat for the entirety of July and August. It's an odd combination ("Frenemies" is about, um, animals fighting and forest fires), but with "Billie Jean" taking a back seat lyrically and lending its slinky beats, it actually works pretty well without feeling ridiculously forced or particularly inappropriate.

Let's Sexy Fighting - "Billie Jean's Frenemies" (My First Earthquake vs. Michael Jackson) [link]

If you're not dancing by now, um. I don't know what to tell you.

My First Earthquake - "Cool in the Cool Way" [link]

03 November 2009

Northside Festival, Day Three : The Best Bishop Allen Set I've Seen. Also, Darlings, Motel Motel, April Smith.

So it's a shame I didn't write this about four months ago, because I simply don't remember much anymore. And also because nobody really cares about Northside anymore, do they? Ah, well, that's what I get for being lazy.

In fact, I wouldn't bother to write about day three if I hadn't seen a fantastic set by Bishop Allen that night. The fact that Bishop Allen was going to play Northside was the original reason for my interest in the festival. It was also the one show I wanted to go to terribly, and the one show I risked not being able to attend - because I'm silly and didn't ask off, I was scheduled to work that night. Heh, oops. After some careful cajoling (ie, asking one of my managers, "Can I please have off work on Saturday, pleeeease??"), things worked out and I was free. (I don't work there anymore, so I really don't care who knows about this, either.)

Right, so. First stop was Spike Hill, yet again, to check out The L Magazine's "NYC Bands You Need to Hear" showcase. I got there late, so the first band I caught was Darlings, not to be confused with the punk outfit The Darlings, although there's a bit of a punk spirit alive in an otherwise pop band. Maybe it's a bit more of a "screamy garage" spirit than a "punk" spirit. Anyway, after their set they announced they were opening that night for...Bishop Allen. Oh. Well, that answered my question of "Who's opening for Bishop Allen...?", but also made me think, "Man, I could have checked out another band instead and still not missed this one..."

Don't quit remember what I did after that. I definitely remember wandering over to Public Assembly, where I caught the tail end of Motel Motel's set. Um, I remember having liked them. I guess Paper Mag said they were "better than Cold War Kids," which is actually the best comparison I can think of right now.

Anyway. Back to Studio B, which I got to way too early and therefore had to sit around for a while, reading and drinking free beer. Oh, noes.






Darlings


First up were Darlings, who hadn't changed in the few hours since I'd seen them last. Ta da!


















Bishop Allen


Oh, and of course, Bishop Allen. I'm not exagerrating when I say this was the best performance I've seen them give yet. Maybe that's not super-high praise, as it was only the fourth time I've seen them live. It's probably a lot more impressive when I say something like, "Oh, that was the BEST I've seen OK Go play," because I've seen them a million and three times so if I say "this was the BEST," it really means something. But I digress.

It had a lot do with the fact that it was a hometown show. The last time I'd seen them had been a hometown show, too, but that had a much more relaxed, "We're just playing to our friends and family" feel. Here, Justin pointed out that "we live around the corner from here...a lot of songs were written about places nearby..." That's what spurred them on.

And it wasn't that the band played with unusual enthousiasm, energy, or technical skill. It was the build in the songs and the set that was spot-on. Listen to classic Bishop Allen tracks like "Flight 180" and "The Monitor." There's an emotional build that enhances, or perhaps even creates, the power of those songs. You don't just go from "Once a great ironworks stood at the end of my street..." to "And we're singing la da da da da da da, but what then?" without moving upwards in feeling. The song just wouldn't work without it. And that's what they did so well : balancing and creating the build of emotion within their songs and within the set as a whole. The setlist didn't feature heavily from their recently-released Grrr..., either. I didn't expect that it would, as their set in April was a good mix of new, old, and older stuff, but less than half the setlist was dedicated to their latest record, leaving room for songs like "The Same Fire" (one of my favourite love songs ever), "Like Castanets," "Click" and, of course, "The Monitor" and "Flight 180."

It's hard, after so much time, to really describe what made this such a wonderful performance. Saying, "The build, the build! The build was incredible!" doesn't really point to something concrete that someone who wasn't there might understand. Let's put it this way - you all know that certain Bishop Allen songs ellicit a, um, certain emotional response from me. When I saw them at the Music Hall of Williamsburg last November, I cried through nearly half the set. This time, I figured I was over that, but that didn't stop me from being caught in the gut and tearing up a whole bunch. Lame? Maybe. But when the wave of emotion and power sweeps up and over like that, it's hard not to be caught in the swell.* A performance doesn't need to be particularly enthousiastic, cloying, balls-to-the-wall, contrived, or in-your-face to be remarkable. It just requires the right songs played the right way.

And some local inspiration. That's what we got that night. If you weren't there, that's what you missed.


Later that night, I caught the end of April Smith and the Great Picture Show's set at...well, I don't remember where it was honestly. But she was fantastic and cheeky with an incredible voice. I wish I could do her justice here, but that's for another post.



*(Wow, now that's a lame sentence...sorry for the tired analogy, guys.)

26 October 2009

Hello, world. I'm in France.

They won't stop playing this song.




Last time I was here, it was "Smile." Gah.

Ta da. Now that I'm more or less settled, expect some updates. How y'all doing out there?

04 August 2009

I'm not dead! I just want brains.

Hey everyone,

So, without total conscious decision, I somehow decided to take the month of July "off." There's a lot I still want to write about - I mean, there's ALWAYS a lot of stuff I still want to write about - but somehow, things got really bogged down between work and vacation and all that I just didn't feel like sitting down and sussing out what needed to be said and what didn't.

I should be back this month, even if updating will be spotty for the next two - I'm about to move back to Paris in about a month and a half, so life will be hectic 'til I'm settled in there. But I absolutely, positively promise to write. Okay? Okay.

Two updates you can expect soon :

- Northside, Day Three and The Best Set I've Seen by Bishop Allen (mainly done in bullet-form, except the part about Bishop Allen because that'd be criminal)
- My First Earthquake, a video by them, and their MJ tribute / mash-up (Go do your homework and look them up now, okay? Okay!)

Also maybe soon : the new Nightmare of You record, Finding Fiction, and maybe some other stuff.

Love y'all lots,
Katy x

01 July 2009

Northside Festival, Day Two : EarFarm at Spike Hill, PTST at Public Assembly (pow wow!, Shilpa Ray, Palomar, and more)

Day two of Northside featured some show-hopping – well, a little bit of show-hopping. My main focus that evening was EarFarm's showcase at Spike Hill, although I had my eye on a few other shows, too. Unfortunately, my notes on this night are rather meager, so you're going to have to enjoy all the pretty pictures instead.

Before the festival started, members of Coyote Eyes contacted me and sent along some songs, which is a generally lovely thing to do, and so I looked forward to seeing them live. Alas, we got to Spike Hill in time to hear the last three of their set (that commute is a bitch), although I liked what I heard, and Jonathan was enthused – after the all-girl, all alt-folk show the night before, he was happy to hear something rock-oriented.












pow wow! All photos by Jonathan Costa.


pow wow!, who played a whole mess of shows during the festival thereby making themselves the unofficial Northside Fest poster band, were up next, and I really enjoyed their set. After the night before (it had started to wear on me, too), pow wow!'s sunshiney pop sensibilities layered over dancey rock was wholly welcome. I don't have much to say beyond that, but I wish that I'd caught one of their gazillion other shows so that I could.

















The Secret Life of Sofia mellowed things out a bit. A lot. The music felt sparser and yet...it didn't. That doesn't tell you much about them, but I definitely liked the last song of their set, "Gone."

After saying "hi" to Matt of EarFarm (hi, Matt!), we headed over to Public Assembly for Pop Tarts Suck Toasted's showcase in hopes of catching Palomar. We were early enough to catch Murder Mystery, and my notes literally read : "<3 Pretty much. Hard to say much beyond that." So I won't.























Anyway, I only have one song from Palomar (their cover of Brian Eno's "I'll Come Running"), which I adore, but I've also enjoyed everything else from them that I've heard online and not bothered to download onto my iPod. It was pretty much based on this one song that I decided to go to this show, and I was actually pretty excited.

I'm not sure it was worth it, though. Vocally, frontwoman Rachel Warren sounded rougher than she does on record – I'm not sure if she had some sort of cold or if her voice differs that much between real life and record. Also, I was put off by the fact that seemed a little...short. Not height-wise. Short to the point of almost being abrasive. It was off-putting. I only found myself enjoying about every other song as well. I hate giving bad reviews (what if it was just a bad night? What if I just didn't know enough of their songs to fully enjoy the set? Is it necessary to know a band's catalogue to enjoy them live, though?), I think, in the end, Palomar is a band I enjoy thoroughly more in mp3 form than onstage. Or maybe I just need to see them again, I don't know.

We wandered back to Spike Hill to catch some of closers Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers' set before heading some. Wow! I love a woman who screams like that, who puts that sort of raw energy into her performance, and it carried over to the rest of the band. I heard later that this band played one of several "impromptu" street shows throughout the festival, and I'm kind of bummed I didn't catch that, or get to stay for more of their set. Jonathan, however, was wearing sandals and sulky that everyone was stepping on his toes and besides, we were tired. So homeward we went.

Coyote Eyes - "Kahlen"
pow wow! - "23 19"
The Secret Life of Sofia - "Moon on the Sea's Gate"
Murder Mystery - "Love Astronaut"
Palomar - "I'll Come Running" (Brian Eno cover)
Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers - "Coward Cracked The Dawn [radio edit]"

Also, can I say that Spike Hill, despite its somewhat inconvenient set-up, is my new favourite venue? Any place that bothers to put out a pitcher of water and cups for its patrons get the thumbs-up. Really, it's the little, tiny things that count.