Monday, August 30, 2010
I have always been a big fan of lists that contain the top songs from an era. I may not always agree with the lists that Pitchfork posts but they always get a good discussion started. Their latest staff list, Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s, is of particular interest to me. I have been on a huge 90s kick and consider myself somewhat of an aficionado when it comes to a diverse knowledge of music from the period.
I have made my own best of the best list comprised of my favorite tracks from Pitchfork’s. This way you can weave through the obscure electronic crap and get right to the real gems. The 90s had a lot of blood-pumping, anthemic music and that’s definitely what stands out the most for me out of all the songs they have listed so far.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
It's hump day and if you also live in Boston, you know it's a particularly miserable one. The sky has been a dark, ominous mess and rivers of rain have spilled from it for the past three days straight. It's the kind of weather that definitely affects your mood. Here are some videos that have kept my spirits up and hopefully will help you get over the hump as well.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Today, Sufjan Stevens came out of nowhere to release an incredible 60 minute EP called All Delighted People. I don't want to ramble on about it too much but it is sure to elicit responses of "wow". The title track is a song of epic proportions that contains a refrain of "all delighted people raise your hands". I'm certainly raising mine. Note: this is well worth the $5 if you are willing to shell it out to show your support for this extraordinary artist. Listen below:
Music can serve as the soundtrack to any moment. I needed a playlist for those moments when you look the world in the face, say "fuck it", and do your own thing. I had one of these moments when I recently climbed Mount Washington in New Hampshire on a whim. Probably not the smartest decision for my physical well-being but still one of the more rewarded endeavors I took on this summer. The whole time I couldn't help but think that I needed some music to accompany the 4+ mile hike into the sky and, sadly, I didn't have any. Still, it was tranquil to just listen to the sounds of the nature so maybe it is better that I compiled this after the fact.
I recently watched a movie based solely on the description called Mr. Nobody and it turned out to be one of the best films I have seen in some time. Not many people know of it yet but it is bound to gain recognition as a cult classic in the years to come. Featuring a standout performance from Jared Leto and some talented young actors, the story is a mind-bending glance at life that blends sci-fi, fantasy, drama, and romance to come up with something completely original. My hat goes off to Jaco Van Dormael for the intelligent script and breathtaking direction. The strikingly beautiful scene below helped me realize what an incredible performance is given on Otis Redding's "For Your Precious Love". From the passion in his voice to the warm guitar solo, I don't know how anyone could listen to this without getting chills. Paired with the gorgeous cinematography, it is one for the ages.
The House of Blues is the Coldplay of the venue world. That is to say, the ones you love to hate. But sometimes, quietly, when no one is around, you admire what they have done. I hate venues that have seats and I can appreciate that House of Blues Boston gets the bigger acts who would otherwise play Agganis Arena or the Orpheum Theatre and allows them to performance in a space where the audience can dance and thrash about. This was abused to the full extent when I caught Rusko and Crystal Castles there on August 17, 2010.
In my Mid-Year Report, I mentioned that Maps & Atlases had one of the most impressive full-length debuts to come out in 2010. I also mentioned that the lists featured were going to dramatically change. With the performances I witnessed by Russian Circles, Cave In, and Boris, I knew that my list of best shows had already changed. However, an unexpected entry has emerged into the top 5 shows I’ve seen this year. This one is brought about by the compelling performance I witnessed by Maps & Atlases at The Middle East upstairs on August 11, 2010.
On Sunday, August 8, 2010, I went to Church to pay homage to the gods of rock n’ rock and hops n’ barley. My friends at Exploding in Sound put on a showcase featuring some of my favorite up-and-coming bands and it was not to be missed. Grass is Green, RIBS, Solar Powered Sun Destroyer, and The Dirty Dishes came together to celebrate Sunday in the most blasphemous of ways: by playing the devil’s music. Seeing that it was my birthday, the only praying I did was to make it to the end of the show.
If you are a fan of progressive metal of any kind, I hope you were at the show on August 7, 2010 at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA. The lineup consisting of Russian Circles, Cave In, and Boris covered much of the metal landscape. Russian Circles impressed with their mathy post-rock onslaught; Cave In mesmerized everyone with their mix of space rock and technical metal; and Boris brought their distinctive noise rock and sludge from Japan.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Hey guys, remember The Rapture? Did you know they were still together? No, well, me neither. Apparently the band everyone was going apeshit over in the early 2000s and then subsequently forgot about is still together. Echoes was a staple of my listening back when it was released and established the band as one of the elite dance-punk bands when the genre was just beginning to boom. I actually loved their much less lauded second album, Pieces of the People We Love, where they began their decent off the face of the earth. It was a no-brainer that I was going to attend their free performance at Royale on August 4, 2010. The concert was sponsored by Amstel Light but I wasn't expecting the unlimited free Amstel Light that I was greeted with at the venue. The beer snob in me wanted to scoff at the fact that it was Amstel Light but I'd be a real asshole if I complained about free beer so I kept it to myself (until now). Surely, I thought the free beer was a recipe for disaster but it simply ended up being a really fun and interesting night.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
My good friends over at Exploding in Sound are back with another entry in their consistently solid compilation series. This time around there is double the pleasure. Open Hand, who I have been waiting to hear new music from for just about forever, kick things off with “Herrons”, a delicious slab of stoner rock. The glorious "A Far Cry" from We Were Promised Jetpacks, which is a song I've ranted and raved about before, finds is way onto the compilation as well.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I'm a month late on this mid-year report but I'm still interested in getting a discussion going. There's been some great releases out in the media world in 2010. I wanted to list all of my favorites of this year so I can take a look back and compare at the end of 2010. After all, I am a big fan of lists. I'll try to keep the rambling commentary to a minimum so without further ado, I bring you my favorite releases of 2010 so far:
Monday, August 2, 2010
This coming weekend is projected to be another gorgeous one. The hot weather in Boston has been a staunch reminder that summer is still in full swing. It's about time that I put a summertime mix out there that anyone can listen to while doing all sorts of summertime activities or perhaps just lounging around. I have a couple of my all time favorites in this one (Manic Street Preachers, Jane's Addiction, The Flaming Lips, Thursday, American Football) and some new ones released this year which I thought are great examples of rising bands who have written excellent summer anthems.
Like any good mixtape, it flows effortlessly from track to track and even seems to have a running narrative from the desire to enjoy the Summertime to lamenting in its passing. I didn't include a Beach Boys song because that just seemed too easy. Although without one this does lean towards something that could be called 'A Hipster Summer'. Also not on the list are Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime" or The Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City". These are also obvious picks and wouldn't fit in with the flow of the mixtape. They are still incredible songs so go listen to them now! After you're done with that, give the mixtape below a spin...
I’ve written many times on this blog about my admiration for both Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner’s projects. It should go without saying that I am a huge fan of Wolf Parade. They have written three amazing albums and one of my favorite songs of all time in “I’ll Believe in Anything”. Their debut Apologies to the Queen Mary, produced by Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, is one of the most highly lauded albums of the past decade. I was initially disappointed with their second album, At Mount Zoomer; however, when I was going over my dream set list, I realized that I had chosen more than half of that album. With “Fine Young Cannibals” from the aforementioned album being the song I said I wanted to hear the most.
In 2010, Wolf Parade has returned with their third and perhaps best album, Expo 86. This is a record that is sure to be on my, as well as several others’, best-of-the-year lists. I can’t stress enough the power and maturity displayed within the album’s robust 55+ minutes. Having followed this band for so long, it’s amazing that I haven’t seen them live yet but I could not be more excited since they are touring off such a great record. On July 12, 2010, I finally had the chance to see one of my favorite bands and in the next few paragraphs I will explain why you should make sure to see them if you have the opportunity.
I first got to know about MiniBoone when I reviewed their debut EP Big Changes for DecoyMusic.com. They quickly became one of my favorite bands that I discovered this year and I’ve been spinning tracks like “Summer Jam” and “Rosalina Must Dance Alone” endlessly. The first time they came to town earlier this year, I was sick and, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t make it out to see them. I made sure that I dragged myself to the show on Sunday, July 11, 2010 despite an exceptionally raucous weekend. Let’s just say if you ever think about taking a last minute trip to New York City and the thought crosses your mind that “this is probably a bad idea”, go with that instinct.
I’m all about discovering new local bands. Boston has a vibrant music scene as full as any other city in the country with bands about to blow up. Catching shows for up-and-coming bands is a great way to discover the music that's steadily gaining buzz plus it’s also a cheap way to have a great night out. On July 1, 2010, I seized the opportunity to see two of Boston’s most promising newcomers: Doomstar! and Girlfriends. The show was to celebrate the release of Girlfriends’ Gov't Seizure 7" single and to sendoff the group since they are about to embark on a big US tour.
The Pill at Great Scott is consistently awarded Best Dance Night by the Boston Phoenix. I hadn’t checked it out but when I heard that The Depreciation Guild was stopping by to play a set on June 25, 2010, I figured it was as good a time as ever. Their latest release, Spirit Youth, has been in heavy rotation for me and features one of my favorite songs to come out this year, "My Chariot". Its chiptunes-meets-shoegaze style is something very refreshing in 2010. However, a red flag should have come up when I found out a shoegaze band was playing a dance night.
For the longest time, I kept saying that I would never join Twitter. Well here I am 500+ tweets later and I'm totally addicted. So what finally got me to crack and create an account? Free stuff of course! I noticed that my friends kept winning free food, tickets, etc. I decided that I need to get in on this racket and lo and behold, I immediately started reaping the benefits. I've received free cds and tickets but nothing as sweet as winning a chance to see HEALTH on June 19, 2010 at Great Scott. A big thanks goes out to the great people at CitySearch Boston where I won the tickets for answering the question, "Why do you dance?" My answer? "I dance because its an uncontrollable and compulsive cathartic release."
Frog Eyes are one of those bands I've always wanted to see live but I never got around to it. I've praised Carey Mercer's manic delivery endlessly and their guitar tones are among the best in indie rock today. Their latest release, Paul's Tomb, shows that they are only gaining strength with age. The record spins with a consistent intensity that begins with a 9-minute sonic wave of guitars and refreshingly dynamic songwriting. On June 18, 2010, I took my chance to see if this translated to the stage when I caught them with up-and-comers Beach Fossils at the Middle East.