Friday, July 28, 2006

Don't you stop.

The Minders – It’s A Bright, Guilty World review
release date: 7.18.2006
3.8 / 5

The Minders released their debut album Hooray For Tuesday in 1998. Since then, everything they do is measured by how it lives up to that collection of songs; it’s such a perfect pop album that any band would have difficulty matching it.
Certain tracks throughout their career have threatened to knock “Hooray For Tuesday” off of its pedestal. Older songs like “Build” and “Black Balloon” are The Minders at their most simple and pure and more recent songs like the striking “Young and With It” still resonate years later. The Minders have never had a problem writing a great pop song; they just never seem to be able to release a whole album’s worth of them. Not to say that their albums are bad necessarily, they just generally lose focus about halfway through.
Their latest release, It’s a Bright, Guilty World, finds Martyn Leaper (The Minders’ premiere singer songwriter) at his most proficient and deliberate since HFT. It includes classic, pop songs such as “Don’t You Stop” and “Jenny” that are so catchy and delightful that you feel as if they’ve been playing in your head forever. Alongside these pop gems are other more introspective, thorough tracks like “In The Middle of Your Love” and “Remember, Remember”. With the inclusion of such songs it’s evident that Leaper is becoming a more sophisticated songwriter.
Musically, lyrically, and intellectually The Minders are finally gaining the momentum and drive fans have been yearning for since the great and wonderful Hooray For Tuesday.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Oh, you're so silent Jens.

Jens Lekman
Southgate House Newport, KY

“We are going to play exactly 12 songs tonight,” Jens Lekman said to the crowd as he and his 6-piece, all-girl band took the stage at the Southgate House on Tuesday night. This introduction to Lekman was the first hint at securing him as the most self-assured, soft-spoken shy guy I’ve ever seen.
The stage setup was endearing, with Lekman front and center and his band surrounding him; it was as if he was floating in a soup bowl of fashionable ladies. Lekman is a great storyteller in and out of song. After playing “Black Cab”, he regaled an interaction he once had with a fan concerning his experiences with the song, and just stopped right in the middle of “Do You Remember the Riots?” to tell us its history. We were also treated to an a cappella version of “Tram #7 To Heaven”, sang by Lekman as he replaced the broken A string on his guitar. While this may sound as if it would feel somewhat forced, it was actually the complete opposite. In fact, it even left me wondering if all of Lekman’s clever remarks, as well as that broken string, weren’t all painstakingly planned.
With various EPs and the full-length When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog, Lekman has a plethora of beloved songs to choose from. The setlist wandered throughout his discography including older tracks dating back to the 2003 Maple Leaves EP to a couple brand new songs, one of which was entitled “A Postcard To Nina” and told the story of Jens masquerading as his friend Nina’s boyfriend as she hid from her parents the fact that she was a lesbian.
About six songs in, a young, fair-haired fan approached the singer and prompted him to urge the crowd closer to the stage, in front of the oppressive chairs and tables. Everyone quickly obliged, as if we had been simply waiting for Lekman’s permission to do so. He now immediately says, “We’ve almost played all of our dance songs,” then thought for a moment, “You can probably dance to this,” and began “Pocketful of Money”. Indeed, we danced. Next, Lekman informed us he had brought our Christmas presents, while his keyboard player emptied 2 garbage bags of balloons into the crowd as the band launched into the triumphant “You Are the Light (by which I travel into this and that)”. It was a joyous occasion as the audience and band alike batted rainbow-colored balloons around the room throughout the course of the song.

Well, we actually managed to squeeze a 13th song from Lekman that night. Though, being the gentleman that he is, he didn’t leave the stage without making sure we understood that he would sing no more songs onstage but if we wanted to hear anything else to just ask and he would sing it for us. Lekman satiated us for the last time with an acoustic rendition of the clever, honest “Maple Leaves”. The crowd was enthralled and suddenly the rest of the band appeared out of nowhere on the 2nd floor balconies, on either side of Lekman with horns and shakers and guided us through to the conclusion of the song and the evening. It was simply magical.
I left that show loving Jens Lekman more than I ever knew I did.

Jens Lekman - "You Are the Light (by which I travel into this and that)"

Monday, July 24, 2006

Electrified. Evolve.

Dressy Bessy
The Dame in Lexington, KY

Dressy Bessy are one of the many Elephant 6 spin-off bands; they formed in 1996 and since then having been playing their pixy stix brand, straight up power pop across the land.
Dressy Bessy are a wonderful live band; their magic truly lies not in their music but onstage. Between the band’s striking vintage duds and lead singer Tammy Ealom’s dancing it’s a visual sensation. Honestly, it doesn’t even matter that the band is playing some of the most tightly wound pop songs you’ve ever heard, Ealom wins you over just by a wink of the eye or a leg-kick. Even if you aren’t a fan of their pop music, Dressy Bessy has so much charm that it spills over onto the floor. It’s impossible to resist Tammy Ealom’s leg kicks and the ever-present smile on John Hill’s face. Just try.

The set was varied and would have pleased any fan, songs ranged from old favorites such as “I Saw Cinnamon” and “Just Once More” to newer hits from their 2005 album Electrified like “Second Place” and the title track. Each and every song was played with as much fervor and intensity as the one before it. The band conveyed such energy that it permeated the whole club and had more than half the crowd dancing along with them; it was impressive.
Charmingly, the band seemed to be having as much fun as everyone else because once they finally stopped, they answered the crowd’s pleas for an encore before even leaving the stage. Dressy Bessy like to keep everyone happy and they’re quite good at it.
One of the best things about DB is their commitment to touring. I can rest assured that after loving them tonight, I won’t have to wait too long before I can love them some more.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Six Organs of Admittance review

Six Organs of Admittance / Eyes and Arms of Smoke
The Dame in Lexington, KY

It’s not easy for me to describe the Lexington, KY band Eyes and Arms of Smoke. Onstage they are two guys, and one girl, Robert Beatty, Trevor Tremaine and his wife Sarah, looking almost huddled together on the left hand side of the stage. Though, considering how sparse their music is it seems natural for them to want to stand together. I can’t imagine Sarah all the way on one side of the stage with just a mic and a cabasa in her hand waiting for her cues. She would seem too lonely. The band’s music is one part noise, one part art project, and one part drone. Parts of songs sound like actual songs and then others like sound effects of a horror film. Eyes and Arms of Smoke aren’t necessarily much to watch. There isn’t a lot of movement onstage aside from a few hops from Trevor here and there but, truthfully, they convey their music in such a way that you’re less concerned with watching as you are with listening anyway.
I was unsure of what to expect from a live show from Six Organs of Admittance. This is a band with several albums varying in degrees of experimentation. What I was afraid of was that I was going to have to sit through an entire set in which the band played one 45 minute song that may or may not even contain lyrics. Luckily, this was not the case. When the band took the stage they immediately began playing, they were (purposefully) playing out of time and seemingly making up this introductory jam on the spot, relying on physical cues to indicate changes in the song. The band appeared almost oblivious to the crowd before them, interacting with one another throughout their set and only addressing the audience once to simply thank them and the opening bands. However, this did nothing to hinder the experience of seeing them live and perhaps even added an air of mystery to the three stoic men onstage.
SOofA’s frontman, Ben Chasny, has a charisma about him that I wasn’t anticipating. Seeing this person from whom this voice emanates is compelling enough, but he is also very captivating to watch. He is very physical onstage, thrashing about during upbeat, loud songs, and sometimes trying to manipulate his bass player’s sound by going up to him and pushing on his fretboard with his shoulder. Every sound the band is making is mirrored in some way by Chasny’s movements.
Ben Chasny ended the set by himself, playing the only encore song alone. It was a slow song that showcased Chasny’s beautifully solid and dark vocals. An unexpected but great way to end a colorful set. With Six Organs of Admittance sometimes there is chaos but when you strip all of that away you are always left with the beauty.

Eyes And Arms Of Smoke - "Black Hoists of Dawn"
Six Organs of Admittance - "All You've Left" music video

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Syd Barrett


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Thee American Revolution song review

Thee American Revolution – “She’s Coming Down”

On July 4th Mr. William Shears, the mastermind behind the band Thee American Revolution, sent the Elephant 6 weblog, Optical Atlas, his band’s new track, “She’s Coming Down”. According to Shears, this is the very first American Revolution recording. Knowing that, it’s easy to see that the vision of Thee American Revolution is clear; this song makes it evident that TAR want their audience to perceive them in a specific way. They're telling us what to think and feel about their music; it's all done for us. This is heavy, rough, sweaty, psychadelic rock music and you're gonna like it that way!
Proof of this comes in the first few seconds as the song intentionally dates itself with the initial guitar strum, heavy and deliberate, very like “Wild Thing” by The Troggs. Schneider’s vocals are marred and much more drawn out than most of his fans are used to (not too unlike Reg Presley’s). It’s refreshing (if anything about this music is) to hear his vocals utilized in such a novel way.
The remainder of the song is comprised of extended lead guitar, sounding as if it’s being played through a busted amplifier, droning swirls of psychadelia, the ever-present deadened tambourine, and is concluded by a piano/organ played by Shears himself.
If Andy Warhol were still in The Factory today overseeing those seedy, over-intoxicated parties, he would want Thee American Revolution to be playing every one of them.

Follow link to Optical Atlas post and mp3.

Monday, July 03, 2006

mostly the Desdemona Festival

Upon my return to the blog world I found the template to the old Everything Is blog to be extremely annoying and it was totally stressing me out. So I had to get rid of it. I don't really care for any of the Blogger templates so here we have: White. I'm totally into white these days anyway; it's so mod. How can you go wrong really? It's white! Anyways, I'll probably personalize the look of the new template but for now, this is pretty okay with me. Anything beats the cheesy one I had before.

So, I attended portions of all three days of the Desdemona Festival in Cincinnati weekend before last. I started writing my review of the festival for Harmonium but couldn't force myself to finish it. I couldn't make myself bullshit anymore. The festival itself was lovely, Sawyer Point is a beautiful park and perfect for an event of that nature, the people in attendance were all totally happy to be there, nice and great crowds, the people putting it on were all so gracious and all of that. But the only thing that was almost entirely unimpressive was the music. And frankly, that shocked the shit out of me. I mean, it wasn't like there were a bunch of local bands playing all day and then a big headliner each night, not at all. At least 3/4 of the bands that played the DesFest were big name indie acts and/or blogger favorites. For me the weekend began with the Apples In Stereo Friday evening and then ended with The Walkmen closing the festival on Sunday night and, overall, those were the two bands that performed the best all weekend. Most of the others (specifically The Stills, Radio 4, We Are Scientists, Enon, Annie) just lacked content and personality. Even the Walkmen were somewhat awkward in the outside pavilion. Though I have to point out that We Are Scientists are great performers; they had the personality and charisma to charm the crowd of indie rockers that Sunday cracking jokes and acting like heathens. After their first song there were a bunch of people walking up from another stage whose set ran long and the bass player told them, "Don't even fucking bother," which was totally funny. Unfortunately, their music sucks ass. The lyrics to their single "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt" are the worst I've heard since I stopped listening to popular r&b in middle school. "My body is your body / I won't tell anybody / If you wanna use my body / Go for it, yeah." What the hell is that? And that's the gd chorus so you have to hear it like 50 times and let me tell you, it embarrassed me each time. I would bury my vocals under the instrumentation of my lyrics were that shitty.
Let me clarify though, that I don't think this was the fault of the organizers of the DesFest; these bands are popular. I blame uneducated music fans for liking this crap.
But that's a-whole-nother tangent I don't feel like getting into at the moment. Sigh.
Here is my unfinished review and some amateur pictures I took:

Desdemona Festival
Sawyer Point in Cincinnati, OH
6.23-5, 2006

Despite what preconceived notions people may have, Cincinnati is a perfect place to host a music festival like Desdemona. It's a good central location for bands to travel to, it'’s beautiful (as long as you'’re in the right spot), and very user-friendly. I attended all three days of Desdemona and not once did I have trouble parking nor did I ever have to walk further than a block to get to Sawyer Point Park, where the concert was being held.
Sawyer Point is right on the Ohio River and is a mile long. ItÂ's strikingly beautiful how there are vast, green fields sandwiched between bridges signifying your entry to Kentucky: "“Where education pays!Â"
There were 3 stages with shows staggered between them, starting every hour on the hour, from 4-10pm each night. 29 bands total, and only one band, locals The Sundresses, cancelled. From what I have heard there were next to no problems with the crowds (no fights, etc) and only one case of the dreaded technical difficulties during Rogue Wave's set on Sunday.
I arrived in Cincinnati on Friday night in time to catch The Apples Is Stereo, the VHS or Beta dj set, and Ghostface. The Apples In Stereo played, perhaps, the most enjoyable set of the entire weekend for me. They sounded immaculate; there was something about the sunlight and the air that day that complimented the Apples sugary sweet pop songs perfectly. I may never want to see them play a show indoors ever again. Another thing that made the Apples sound so good was the fact that they didn'’t try to get too loud. Sometimes you don'’t need to turn it up to 11 and luckily The Apples get that. Their set was a mixture of older favorites ("The Rainbow"”, "“Go"”, "“Strawberryfire"”, "“Ruby"”, etc) as well as new songs from their upcoming album, New Magnetic Wonder, such as "Skyway"”, "“You Gotta Play Tough, My Love"” and "“Open Eyes"”.
After the Apples In Stereo were finished there was a dj set by Craig Pfunder and Mark Palgy of VHS or Beta. These guys have been djing for years now, mostly in their hometown of Louisville, KY, and they seriously know their stuff. There is a secret to getting a bunch of indie rock kids to dance and these guys are certainly in on it.
The Friday night headliner was definitely the most unusual act of the Festival, former Wu-Tang member, Ghostface. I'm the first to admit, I'm not a hip-hop or rap fan. The only reason I knew that Ghostface was even in the Wu-Tang Clan was because he and his two hype guys were trying to get the crowd to chant about them. "“We say '‘WU!'’ You say 'TANG!'’ "WU!"” "“Err...Tang?"” However, my favorite hype generator was the question, "Where all my weed smokers at?" It may have taken a couple songs but the crowd definitely got into Ghostface and were all holding up their lighters and cell phones in response. It was certainly a fun and interesting way to end the first evening of the festival.
Saturday was blessed with weather as beautiful as the day before and I arrived at the park as the New York band Cousin was performing on Stage 3. I don'’t think I had ever seen the trio in the daylight before and it brought a much different feel to their set. It certainly wasn'’t as at home in the sunlit park as The Apples In Stereo's set the day before, but that's probably an extremely unfair comparison. Lead singer, Raze Regal, always performs in a suit and I imagined that he must have been sweating his ass off as he screamed into the mic during the band's single, "The Girl I Knew". Cousin is always energetic and always fun. They didn't let the heat stifle their set and bassist Peter Klein was extra festive in all white and wearing a crown of dandelions.


Apples In Stereo





We Are Scientists

Chris Cain of We Are Scientists - "Don't even fucking bother..."

Fiery Furnaces

Radio 4

The Walkmen

Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen