Refused – New Noise (Rehearsal, Umeå 2012-02-29)

 Oh yes. Refused is back.

Back in the days when I used to go to the library and rent albums in order to build my music collection, Refused were one of my gem punk discoveries (up there with Scatter the Ashes.) And when I saw that they were on the poster for this year’s Coachella, I flipped.

I am unbelievably excited for this comeback show.

Sleigh Bells @ Terminal 5

When you see a crowd jumping like at 1:50 of this video, you know something’s going right.

I saw Black Bananas and Sleigh Bells play last night to a sold out Terminal 5, and it was a hell of a show. This is the third time I’ve seen Sleigh Bells (1st: Gobi Tent at Coachella, 2nd: Mojave Tent at Coachella), and every time they seem to hone their craft even further. With music as fast-paced and aggressive as this, the show has to be super tight, not too long, and have perfectly placed mid-tempo songs. Without a doubt, Sleigh Bells are 100% aware of what their image is, what their ‘sound’ is, and how that sound should translate in a live setting. Flawless execution.

Santigold @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

It’s been eight months since I’ve written about a show! While don’t have much of a clue as to how that’s happened considering that I’ve been to tons of shows in the meantime, seeing Santigold with a little bit of Spank Rock (I got there a bit late) last night has made me jump back into this.

So yes, last night I went to see one of Santigold’s sold out shows at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. It’s been four years since I saw her back in 2007 at Steve Aoki’s Neighborhood Fest in Expo Park. Back then, her amazing debut album hadn’t come out yet, but she was building on the success of the early Creator/L.E.S. Artists EP (I had no idea what the L.E.S. was until I lived there three years later.) Not to get too nostalgic or anything (that was the first show I went to as a freshman at USC), but I only spent $40 to go to a show with Spank Rock, Santigold, Crystal Castles, Chromeo, Kid Sister, DJ AM, and The Faint! I think Spank Rock, Chromeo, and The Faint were the only artists with legit LPs out, and I remember thinking that Crystal Castles with Alice chugging a handle of vodka on stage were pretty out-there.

Back to last night’s show. It was exactly what I wanted it to be: fun. Obviously, you go to different shows with different intentions and expectations. I don’t always expect to have fun at the shows I go to. For example, I saw Girls and Real Estate on Saturday, and while it was a great show (Girls reeeaallly got their stuff together with their live show for the new album), I wouldn’t describe it as fun.

Santigold started off with “Go”, and Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs came out to do her spot on the song! From there, the setlist continued with a majority of the songs off the first album and probably about four new songs that’ll be on her upcoming sophomore effort. Stuff like “Creator”, “L.E.S. Artists”, “Lights Out”, and “Say Aha” went off perfectly. The new material all sounded great. I remember thinking that while the beats were fast, her delivery was more laid back – like she was riding the beat more than on her first album. But that’s just a first judgement of songs heard live. We also got some of the tracks that aren’t Santigold originals like Major Lazer’s “Hold the Line” and “B.O.O.T.A.Y.” was the finale of the whole show with Spank Rock coming back out to perform it alongside her.

Aside from the awesome music, Santi has really put together a fully-fledged show for her upcoming tour. Along with two costume changes, she had two backup singers / dancers who had choreographed moves for every moment of every song. She also had a three piece band consisting of a drummer and two multi-instrumentalists backing her rather than just a DJ. And in my opinion, the difference that this makes is hard to overstate.

Like I said, it was a fun show. The crowd was dancing throughout, and it seemed like everyone knew her first album really well. Shows are so much better when the crowd knows the material. The artist loves that the crowd loves them, and the crowd loves that the artist is having a great time. That’s exactly what happened last night.

Best of 2011 Lists

It’s December! You know what that means? ‘BEST OF 2011’ LISTS!!! If you’re worried that you might have missed something great this year, check out any of these lists.

PS: I’ll alphabetize these once the new year hits. I’m adding to the bottom of the list as I find new stuff.

Why don’t I like Coldplay? An investigation.

Another fantastic piece from Sasha Frere-Jones: pop-music critic for the New Yorker. As Coldplay has a new album coming out called Mylo Xyloto, this piece is a perfectly unscientific look into why Coldplay just shouldn’t be.

5. U2. -346

Seven out of ten times, Coldplay sound almost exactly like U2—the U2 that exists now, not the wiry, feral U2 of 1980 (which would be a decent idea). U2 have not broken up. This is inefficient. Coldplay should consider copying Big Star or The Monkees.

(via The New Yorker)

Update: Pitchfork has interviewed Chris Martin. I repeat: Pitchfork has interviewed Chris Martin. This reminds me of when Pitchfork interviewed U2 after giving “No Line on the Horizon” a 4.2. Both come off as massively successful musicians giving interviews like they genuinely wish that this blog – that consistently pans their current output – loved them like it loves Arcade Fire or M83.

Everything all at once

This post has been a long time coming, so here goes.

I’ve been somewhat music-deprived here in India. Wi-fi is nearly impossible to come by, so the flow of new music reaching my ears has slowed significantly.

Zomby’s new album Dedication is a monster. I’ve gone through his first two albums numerous times, but this one outdoes both the 90s hardcore tribute Where Were You in ’92 and the weird videogame sounding dubstep of One Step Ahead of the Other. It sounds like the spectrum of Zomby’s sounds instead of a hyper-focused collection surrounding one or two ideas.

Bjork’s single “Crystalline” is making me really anxious that I don’t have better access to a fast internet connection because I can’t see all of the multimedia that accompanies the new album. As people have said, the song’s sound is reminiscent of Homogenic, but the left turn into nutso d’n’b has me excited for more new material.

So about a week into the trip, we all started to get pretty paranoid of all the ways that we could get sick or injured around here. It doesn’t take much to recognize that getting sick is part of the experience. Mosquitoes carry malaria, it’s a crap-shoot whether or not your bed will have bedbugs (yeah, “sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” – a whole lot of good that’ll do us), many of the patients have scabies, the water is like poison to a westerner’s system, yesterday it flooded -you don’t even want to know what’s in the streets, etc.  And then it hit.

I could tell something was up during work, but there was no way I wasn’t going to see the last Harry Potter on release day. Correction – there was no was I wasn’t going to see 3/4 of the last Harry Hotter on release day. Just at the end of Snape’s story, my body decided that it had had enough, and I made my way to the bathroom. Fast-forward through that scene (and almost passing out twice), I grabbed M&A after the movie ended, and they saw me back to health through the night. I was such a good patient that I gave my doctor my illness as payment! Ashley was sick through the night, so Saturday turned into recovery day, and Marissa avoided our bug altogether. Fun stuff.

It’s been raining a lot lately. That means flooding. Sudder Street was a sorry sight yesterday as the rain took over, but it was pretty cool to finally see what everyone talks about when they speak of the crazy monsoons in India. Not that this was was particularly nuts, but hey, the road flooded, that counts for something, right?

Now we only have a week left before we board another train back to New Delhi and go our separate ways. The volunteers who showed up around the same time as us (early July) are starting to leave, so it seems like goodbye dinners are an everyday occurrence. Aside from the work we do during the day, hanging out with all of the volunteers here have been some of the best times in Kolkata.

PS: don’t know how I almost skipped this one: a new M83 single. “Midnight City” is a power track. After seeing him/them perform with the L.A. Phil, M83 can do no wrong.

Son Lux – We Are Rising & the making of the cover art

Album art for Son Lux's We Are Rising

There has been a lot of high-profile/0n-my-radar music released in the past few weeks, and for some reason only a small portion of it is living up to my expectations. One album that surpassed what I expected is Son Lux‘s sophomore album We Are Rising. I’ve mentioned Son Lux before, but I really think that this new offering deserves further note.

For an album made start to finish in 28 days, We Are Rising shines in so many different ways. I love the orchestral arrangements Son Lux (aka Ryan Lott) has put together. It’s obvious from the beginning that he’s a classically trained musician fully capable of composing very complex pieces, and he doesn’t shy away from his abilities. “Let Go” – a short track near the end of the relatively quick 38-minute run time – is one of my favorites not because of any pop sensibilities Lott shows off, but because of the fact that multiple tempos overlap through different instruments and phase in and out of each other until the end when tracks are stripped away until a simple beat is left.

Other standouts include the bombastic “All The Right Things” and the Portishead-reminiscent “Leave The Bones.” But We Are Rising really should be listened to in its entirety. I’ve gone through it many times since its release last month and don’t plan on letting it slip out of rotation any time soon. Lott’s deep constructions will give me new facets to discover for quite some time.

Portishead – Machine Gun

So I just turned today into a depressive Portishead day. This song is by far the most abrasive track from their most recent album Third. It was the album’s first single, and it heralded the return of one of my favorite bands back in ’08. “Machine Gun” kills me every time.

Portishead – Machine Gun

Girls That Look Like Skrillex

this girl definitely looks like Skrillex

I deplore Skrillex and the music he makes. I cringe when people say things like, “I love dubstep! Have you heard of Skrillex?” Sure, you could make the argument that (like Deadmau5) he’s bringing people to electronic music that otherwise would have kept listening to Kings of Leon and Jack Johnson. Right. Because those are the kind of people I want at a Chemical Brothers or Aphex Twin show.

Tumblr is a wonderful thing. It gives us gems like this.

(via the infamous Coachella Forum)