The Killers :: "Neon Tiger" and "Spaceman" [Video]

The Killers' lead singer Brandon Flowers insists they never left. And to be fair, Sam's Town was far better than anyone gave it credit for. It wasn't Hot Fuss and it wasn't the best album of the last 20 years but, you could argue that "When You Were Young" was the best song of late '06-early '07. Well, the band is back. Two nights ago at the Highline Ballroom the band played a (SURPRISE!) show for fans announced their myspace or ilike or facebook or something. They ran through a set of old favorites and some new material. "Spaceman" and "Neon Tiger" don't look headed for the radio but they're solid and most importantly, they're new. And don't forget the poor fan who tracked down the secret show, got there early enough to be in the front row, and then spent the evening behind the lens of a camera. Killers: 1. Youtube kids: 0.


"Neon Tiger"


Late To The Party :: Mates of State :: Re-Arrange Us

This doesn't quite fit the title of "late to the party" because Mates of State have been a favorite since sometime in 2004 (which actually was two albums late to the party but no one is keeping score). For the purposes of this project, we'll file them under "just getting around to it now." Or "just in case YOU missed it." Elitist, I know. Mates of State are out promoting (something like) their fourth LP, re-arrange us. It's not just good. It might be the album of the year.

Saying things like this always freaks people out when you've still got four months to go, a Coldplay record from back in June, and Lil Wayne's album just crushing kids. It's hard to get anyone to buy into Mates of State with just two people, mostly known for their cloying attitude (ugh! they're sooooo married) and one-dimensional sound (drums, keys .... not a lot else). But don't forget the Tegan and Sara record really snuck up on people last year.

Same idea, a concept band that unconceptualized itself, grew sonically, and ended up transcending their formerly overwrought selves . Tegan and Sara got sick of being written off as a lesbian pop band. So they wrote The Con and crushed everyone. Re-arrange us is almost that same record. Mates Of State aren't just married and their arrangements aren't just organ and drums. The album is sneaky good and actually, forget that, this album is good good. This is the record of the year. So far.

Listen :: Mates of State - My Only Offer

On The List :: Friendly Fires @ Mercury Lounge [7.28.08]

If you look down at the stage, you can see the Friendly Fires set-list. God, it's very nicely typed and it has eight-songs on it. Look at that font! The subtle curvature, the palatable contrast. Is that squid ink on a white 8 and 1/2 by 11? Or is it bone? It might even have the date of the show on it. The whole thing is a little overwhelming. Their tour manager might as well be Pat Bateman. But the three-out-of-four boys in collared shirts know something we don't. They're about to rip this set-list into a million little pieces.

Absurd statements: 1) Friendly Fires have a 70 percent chance of becoming the Britpop LCD Soundsystem. 2) Friendly Fires could be one of the biggest (little) bands of 2009.

Almost immediately the lead-singer starts bending at the waist and losing his mind. It's a little before 10 o'clock on the east coast and Friendly Fires are determined to not act like an opening band. Every bit of their affect is that of a headliner. In the next 30-minutes, people are going to totally forget that Modey Lemon is even playing later. And just like that, Friendly Fires are on. The lead-singer encouraging the sound guy (or maybe just everyone) to turn up the volume. It would be about 3am in London and the crowd starts to act like it.

Two truths and a lie: 1) Friendly Fires enjoy the use of the cowbell. 2) Friendly Fires are absolutely burning this place to the ground. 3) Friendly Fires have five members.

They play a tight set rife with energy. And it's not manufactured energy either. This is the kind of enthusiasm that doesn't come from preparation or polish. It comes from somewhere else, somewhere far more earnest and far more true. The contagion spreading out from the stage and into the rapidly more animated audience is something that aspires to be nothing besides itself. It is something opposite of fake. What is happening inside the Mercury Lounge is, on at least one level, valid.

The take-away: 1) This band will be back in America. 2) By the time they are it won't be in a room this small. 3) This isn't a Myspace band. Don't spin a couple tracks through your computer speakers and think: "it's sort of post-punky and a little dance-rocky. I guess it's okay." If you think this you will be woefully underestimating this band. If you think this, you will be wrong. If you don't go see this, you won't see it. That is a tautology and maybe less useful than it could be. Sometimes you just want something to be true.

Water has spilled all over the front of the stage. Mixed with the spasmodic movements of Friendly Fires' lead-singer, the pristine set-list at his feet is torn to shreds. This is the end of their last song and nothing could be less important. You could make the argument that they had to destroy this pretty little piece of paper to get to where they are tonight. That would not be true and no one likes a liar.


The Wombats :: Let's Dance To Joy Division (Video)

We've been on The Wombats for a few years now. Frankly, we're not sure if we would have made it through living in New York without their seminal, if obvious, "Moving To New York." We were at their second show in the United States. MGMT opened and The Wombats killed them. But the 'Bats record hasn't amazed and part of the reason is the massive, frenetic sound they pursued. We rarely think less is more but when you strip The Wombats down and let their songs breathe through, they're almost a better band. They did one of Vinny Moon's Take Away Shows and "Let's Dance To Joy Division" sounds like the ironic mediation it was meant to be. Let the love tear us apart.

by lablogotheque


Ra Ra Riot :: "Dying Is Fine"

This is a hard conversation to have. Ra Ra Riot is a band that I've had an unhealthy thing for since I saw them two winters ago at an ill-conceived industry showcase. Their first proper LP is coming out on August 19 and lead-single "Dying Is Fine" is about to appear at the end of this post. To say I wanted a lot for this record is saying too little. I wanted a lot a lot for this album.

Ra Ra Riot toured with the now super-famous Tokyo Police Club for a big chunk of last year and pretty routinely blew them off the stage. There was even a night in Boston last summer where Ra Ra Riot was sandwiched between Vampire Weekend (OHMYGOD!!) and TPC. Tokyo Police Club had the ink barely dry on their deal with Saddle Creek and Vampire Weekend were about to get with with XL Records. Ra Ra Riot was a few months away from getting in bed with Barsuk. One night defined indie music in 2007 and it was August 12. And the Ra Ra Riot kids stole the show. I mean, just ripped it off like a 2am gas station robbery. No plan, no grand design - just unfiltered larceny.

The point is, Ra Ra Riot was the best live club band in 2006 and 2007. And it wasn't even close. We even tried to forget that they had a few EPs that did little to capture the evocative live experience. So when they signed to Barsuk, the conventional wisdom was: recording budget + quality producer - pressure to get signed = An outstanding album. (Footnote: It worked with TPC. Saddle Creek brought you "Tessellate" and don't get it twisted. TPC never could have done that on their own. Never. Sometimes, you need someone to pick you up to that next level. Everyone needs help.) And thus, the Ra Ra Riot full-length discussion became riddled with expectation. And the album is okay. "Dying Is Fine" sounds a little bigger, mostly the recording mix on the drums and the sort of hanging sheen that says someone knew their way around ProTools. I mean, are we finally using reverb on the vocals? It's a damn miracle.

This is a fantastic live band with really, truly nice kids who make sort of exciting music. The recording just never seems to live up to the show. So go see them live. They'll be blowing some would-be-up-and-comer off the stage with hurricane force. And I promise not too get too hung up on the rest of the details.

Listen :: Ra Ra Riot - Dying Is Fine


Parts & Labor :: "Nowheres Nigh"

Indie bands have been courting arena rock in a flirtation we haven't seen since 5th grade. "So ... I mean, do you want to ... like ... I don't know ... .... date? Like go out? Forget it ... I shouldn't have said anything. " Too often people are afraid to ask for exactly what they want and too often little bands are afraid to admit just how big they might want to be. But sometimes, sometimes people don't wait and they don't mumble. Sometimes bands aren't afraid of making the biggest song they can. Sometimes you should just look Julia Briggs in the eyes and say, "I have a huge crush on you and we should be together forever. Or least until the end of science class." 

Parts & Labor have made, "Nowheres Nigh" and it's the biggest song they have in them. The guitars chase a simple keyboard progression and it all collides in a buzzy, churning chorus made for fist pumps and zero gravity. Despite an awkward key change in the last half, this is as big an indie rock sound as you'll hear this year. The band's new album, Receivers is due October 21 but we're happy to bring the first single right. now.

Listen :: Parts & Labor - Nowheres Nigh


On The List :: Long Winters, Say Hi, and Thailand @ Spaceland [7.19.08]

Greetings from sunny San Francisco and only a few days removed from LA. This past Saturday we had the pleasure of catching The Long Winters, Say Hi (formerly Say Hi To Your Mom) and Thailand at Spaceland in LA. That's a lot of proper nouns. It was a night of reconnection. Kids from work, kids from high school, kids from college, all running into us at some kind of coincidental speed. The relationships were the context but the music was the story. Each band managing to up the ante from the one before it.

Thailand is an up-and-comer from LA. They don't have a drummer and use processed beats out of a drum machine. Usually, this is a nightmare. Thailand survives but late in their set could have used a slightly less repetitive aesthetic. Two songs of iPod beats is fine. Eight songs in, we're a little worn out. They've got some good songs and could use a little more stage presence. In fact, this is a band that might be tailor-made for some sweet ad licensing or television and movie placement.  Keep your eyes open.

Say Hi took the stage next and began to rip through their brand of guitar/keyboard rock. This is a band that personifies synth-rock and halfway through their set, they rip through "Sweet Sweet Heartkiller." It's the kind of song that buzzes it's way into your brain. It is perfectly unforgettable. Their lead-singer is bouncing around and doesn't look a thing like you'd think. He looks much more like Dave Attell than I'm prepared to discuss. They close with "Northwestern Girls" and it lifts us up and takes us somewhere else. But that's an over-think. The band works and that's all there is to it. 

Last and after a speedy set-change, The Long Winters took over Spaceland. Halfway through the set, lead-singer, John Roderick looks into the stage lights and gets all meta. He says, "for all of you bloggers here to cover the show, I'm going to give you your first line. 'The Long Winters are one of the best indie-rock bands in America' ... If we've learned one thing in this business, it's that you just have to feed it to them." He smiles. He's kidding. For all his insightfulness and careful consideration of himself as an artist, The Long Winters are a band that cares about you. 

Next, Roderick plays a song that some idiot kid requested. It's the kid's 21st birthday. The kid looks pumped. Roderick asks if anyone has a guitar pick. A kid who knows the words in the front row has one. He hands it to the stage and at the end of the set, Roderick returns it. It is a small gesture, to be sure but one that isn't (and cannot be) forgotten. The band plays "the hits" running through "Stupid," "The Commander Thinks Aloud," "Blue Diamonds," "Cinnamon," to name a few, and closes with "Pushover." It's simple. This is a great band. Maybe even one of the best, John. 



On The List :: Motel Motel @ Mercury Lounge (7.16.08)

Album release shows are always a little fun. The band always has their crowd in the house and they've been pulling and promoting the show for weeks. You imagine that an email with the following subject heading was probably sent out to a list of friends, acquaintances, and fans: "If there is one night to come out and support us, this is it." They've put a ton of work into their album and, frankly, if they have any label or industry connections they've tried to twist their arms into the show. In a year of big events, this might be the biggest.

So Motel Motel shook hands, thanked people, did a long equipment set-up/sound-check and then took the stage with "Coffee." It's undeniably their best song to date. It keeps lead-singer Eric Engel in check while letting his gut-wrenching voice and lyrics carry the emotional weight. This is a delicate balance. While Engel is yelping, "I don't need your help/I can feel helpless on my own," I am leaning over and mentioning that this might be the best lyric written in last 18 months in New York. I am not kidding. The crowd is Motel Motel's crowd and they are loving it. I enjoy "Coffee." It's everything that's good about this band.

From there, it's hard not to feel like we're looking at Ryan Adams doing a set of Pixies covers. Motel Motel set up an alt-country aesthetic and then thrash through the middle of their arrangements before finding something solvent in the end. This is a band with problems, to be sure, but they'd rather keep it out of the last chapter. Other bands can leave without solutions, thinking the problems are productive. Motel Motel is built for catharsis and resolution doesn't have to be reductionist.

The most important moment of the night happens away from the microphones. Engel and the rest of the band begin screaming disjointed lyrics in off-beat a cappella. It goes on a little too long and you think it might ruin the song or even the night. But the band comes thrashing back at the last possible moment. If people secretly want to see car accidents and plane crashes, this is opposite impulse. We've watched the plane plunge toward earth and now we're cheering as it pulls up, only barely clearing the tree line. It's a little bit of an up-and-down affair but hope is always a little more attractive than accidental destruction. And I can feel helpless on my own.

Listen :: Motel Motel - Harlem


Acid House Kings :: "This Heart Is A Stone"

The streets are warm to the touch and the mosquitoes are taxiing for landing on your forearm like Goose's F-14 in Top Gun. It's certainly the middle of summer and The Acid House Kings are always a dose of sonic sunshine. "This Heart Is A Stone" is so sweet sounding you might miss the lyrics which are so sad it's almost unbelievable. They reflect hope in the face of almost unspeakable failure. Some of the lyrics would be crushing if they weren't so funny. Acid House Kings never claimed to be serious. After all, it's jangly pop music not Third World Debt. It's not complicated. Somethings you can just enjoy.

Listen :: Acid House Kings - This Heart Is A Stone


Son Ambulance :: "Juliet's Son" and "Horizons"

Son Ambulance has been unfairly compared to Ben Folds. And when I say "unfairly," I mean, "if I were Ben Folds, I would be calling my lawyers and seeing how lucrative suing music journalists can be." But, like all inferior things that get compared to something more established, the comparison is unfair on both sides. Son Ambulance can't hold a candle to Ben Folds. But it's not because Son Ambulance is bad. He's just not Ben Folds. Do they both play piano? Sure. But Shaq and Shawn Bradley both played center. It doesn't mean they had anything in common.

The two best tracks off his new (and poorly titled) album, Someone Else's Deja Vu, tap a number of influences. "Juliet's Son" bears resemblance to Elliot Smith and frankly, it's hard to see how this isn't a retroactive part of the Good Will Hunting soundtrack. "Horizons" is a subtle and dark affair. Instrumentally and arrangement-wise, it reminds you of Bruce Springsteen's artistic infighting during the 1990s. It's brooding and a little poppy. It's very close to "Streets of Philadelphia." It's a song that wrestles with itself before settling back into a hushed little moment. But don't let the comparisons kill you.

Listen ::
Son Ambulance - Juliet's Son
Son Ambulance - Horizons


Friday Wrap :: Action Painters, Plastic Operator, Sparrow House, Broken West

It's been a long week and I appreciate you sticking it out. We've been a little short on new music around here (really, Bloc Party, Al Hammond and Airborne Toxic Event are good but you knew that.). So, we'll roll with a bunch of new stuff for Friday afternoon; a little news, some songs, and a few polite requests.

You remember Action Painters, right? We posted their song, "Supermarket" about a month ago and it straight up destroyed everyone. It was bouncy and will certainly anchor their new record due out in the fall. The band hasn't been sleeping. They're up for The Deli Magazine's Band of the Month. You can go here and vote for them. Last I checked, they were in an absolute dog-fight with Age Of Rockets. Let's make a difference and throw weight at this. Really, go vote. Right. Now. Also, they're playing the Bowery with another one of our favorite bands, Tigercity, on July 19th. If you're in New York, you really can't miss that. Look out for updates or just spin "Supermarket" again and remember why this matters.

Listen :: Action Painters - Supermarket

In other news, we've been spinning the shit out of this band Plastic Operator. They sound a little like Her Space Holiday but they've got harder edges than that. It's electro-pop with a few more organic elements thrown in and I guess you could say it's similar to The Postal Service or Mixtapes and Cellmates (the band that played about half a CMJ show). It's good and it'll storm it's way into your iPod without asking questions.

Listen ::
Plastic Operator - Home0207
Plastic Operator - Why Don't You
Plastic Operator - Peppermint

Sparrowhouse, the side project of Voxtrot jack-of-all trades Jared Van Fleet, has some new material out. It's predictably quiet and predictably weird. I was laying bed yesterday feeling sorry for myself and I played this strange, looping, bird-chirping, floor-squeeking entry, "emptycage." I couldn't tell if it was awesome or awful. It's both peaceful and foreboding. It's a rather simple, breathy organ progression but there's something haunting about it. Van Fleet and I are facebook friends and it doesn't get any weirder than that.

Listen :: Sparrowhouse - emptycage and off the last EP :: Sparrowhouse - When I Am Gone

Finally, we're going to send you over to The Indie Music Filter for a new song by The Broken West. I sent the mp3 to a friend yesterday and she said, "it's a little regular. I got nothing from it but a well constructed pop song." At some point this became negative. And on some levels, I agree, there isn't much complicated happening here. But, if well-constructed pop songs have gone out of style, we should all turn in our headphones and quit. I will admit, the opening 30-seconds are the best. It kind of levels off after that.

Listen :: The Broken West - Perfect Games (courtesy of The Indie Music Filter, a great blog besides this one)


On The List :: Albert Hammond Jr @ The Hiro Ballroom [7.9.08]

Albert Hammond Jr.'s parents are out of town. He steps to the stage a little before 11pm with the panache of a guy getting away with something: overly bold with an undercurrent of "I hope no one finds out about this." He has four people with him. If you're scoring at home, that's three guitars, one bass, and a drummer who looks like he could give solid minutes at small forward on a recreational basketball team. Hammond is unimpressive. I hope no one tells Mom and Dad.

Hammond is promoting a new album, his second since his parent group, The Strokes, last put together a studio effort. The songs sound exactly like Strokes songs (I suppose this is not surprising) but it seems little questionable why he is making music independent of the band. Most solo records are overly ambitious efforts from lead-singers who believe they outclass and out-pace their band mates. This is arrogant. The other kind of solo album or side-project comes when someone in the band wants to make music in a different genre. This is liberating. Hammond is simply writing Strokes songs on his own. Frankly, it's hard to believe he's not just trying on Julian Casablancas' blazer while Dad is out of town. This is dishonest.

From the upper balcony VIP section (thanks SPIN Magazine!) it's easy to get a look at the crowd. They seem excited to see Hammond and most of them waited 90-minutes for him to take the stage. Once he begins to play and The Strokes comparisons are more obvious, everything seems a little more dirty. Hammond isn't particularly compelling as a frontman. With a strong sense that he's ripping off his parent band, it's hard to get behind anything he's doing. Beyond the first two rows of the crowd, people are barely paying attention.

Part of the problem is psychological. Most people didn't really come to see Albert Hammond - they came to see one-fifth of The Strokes. But what they were seeing was even less than that. They were seeing a rhythm-guitarist cheat on his band for the second-time in two years. It doesn't matter that the records aren't half-bad. It's easy to see why none of The Strokes are here and why none of them came to his Mercury Lounge show last week. I wouldn't want to see my sound ripped-off and dragged around either.

So we return to the RCA records table (which, it bears noting, no one is sitting at) and work on our third bottle of vodka. Someone noted earlier that this is the brand of vodka Keith Richards was drinking when he fell out of the palm tree two years ago. But that was a real guitarist and a real rockstar. This evening is fueled by something different. As Hammond finishes his set, you half-expect Casablancas and Fabrizio to walk out, grab the mics and say, "thanks for warming our crowd up. We'll take it from here." Or more dramatically, for Casablancas to slap Hammond across the face and set everything back right. You can only get away with so much and when Dad gets home, there's hell to pay for what you've done.

Listen :: Albert Hammond Jr. - In Transit

photos courtesy of ndavis2008


The Airborne Toxic Event :: In the back of a van

We've got exciting news from The Airborne Toxic Event. Not only does their first LP come out on August 5, they're also recording 10 acoustic versions of songs off the album in the 10 weeks leading up to the release. We're up to week five and arguably the strongest acoustic translation(as well as one of their best recorded tracks), "Does This Mean You're Moving On?" They recorded this version the back of a van speeding down Sunset Blvd. Lead-singer, Mikel Jollett introduced the song when they blew the doors off Pianos back in June with, "This next one is a dance song. But if you listen to the lyrics, it's really quite sad." True words from the man in the middle.

"Does This Mean You're Moving On" (Acoustic)


New Bloc Party :: "Mercury"

It's not supporting a new album but Bloc Party are back with another single release, "Mercury." In the spirit of their last single, "Flux," people are going to find this entirely unsettling. It's not quite the club banger that "Flux" briefly turned into but it dips in the same unregulated, electronic meat locker. Frontman Kele Okereke wrote "The Prayer" and just kept on going. Nothing is off-limits. What does this mean for their next record? Are we watching artistic growth or the kitchen sink being thrown into ProTools? Take a listen:

It's fated and battle cry all at once. When a planet goes in retrograde motion it is thought to astrologically predict certain events. The video, an obvious political allegory, seems to indicate the Western political system (read: ours, George Bush2, etc.) is completely and totally fucked. Is our president a lobster-clawed, Frankenstein creation? Bloc Party thinks so. It's hard to argue. As unsettling string-flourishes lifted right out of The Matrix burn in the background, Kele says, "you can be part of the war/from Silverlake to Williamsburg." He's calling the hip-set to conflict. And he's not done. The last meaningful lyrics are "this could be the start of something truly real/but all I could say was 'hey, hey, hey.'" It's a possible reference to "She's Hearing Voices," a song off the first Bloc Party record where Kele famously squeeks, "hey, hey, hey." It's damning and it's self-aware and by the fifth listen, "my Mercury's in retrograde" will be firmly in your head. It's just fate.

Forest Fire :: "Fortune Teller"

The song "Fortune Teller" is pure mixtape fodder. I don't love the rest of the record. I will, of course, encourage you to see for yourself. But, for me, Forest Fire's record is just ok. In fact, Motel Motel does a slightly more heartbreaking, alt-country version of the same sound. So you can download the album. Do it in a few minutes. It's free. You might like it.

But for now, this song is pure mixtape fodder. And it's great. You're burning a CD. You've got a playlist going. What can you stuff in the middle that will both excite and perplex people? You need a good track 11. You want something unrecognizable, so as to enhance your reputation as a selector of tunes, but it has to be solid, so as to enhance your reputation as a selector of tunes. It should thump a little bit and get itself noticed but not do too much. After all, you don't know very much about, nor do you all that much like, this band. You want this song to stick out by blending in. You want it to be perfectly noticed and also a little forgettable. The LAST thing you need is a conversation where someone asks "who is that?" and all you can come up with is "...it's Forest Fire." And then people are asking questions and you're stumped. You look like a moron. They continue: "Why did you put it on the mix if you don't know anything about them? Do you even like the album?" (See above). You had hoped this would go better.

The song is called "Fortune Teller." And it's perfect for your next mixtape. Just make sure people don't ask too many questions.

Listen :: Forest Fire - Fortune Teller


Happy 4th of July and Add Water Jamz from DJ Natty Heavy

It's America's 232nd Birthday people and you've got to figure your business out. It's a holiday we celebrate by eating things cooked over fire and shooting small arms fire into the sky. It's actually more like Afghanistan than we'd like to admit. So, like last year, I hope it's a good one and we'll be back Monday. You deserve this, America. Because, deep down, we fucking love this place that we've come to know. Happy 232.

I promised to never post blog-hop. This is not that. This is from our BOY. DJ (dee-jay!) Natty (natty!) Heavy (heavy!). (F-F-F-FOG-FOGHORN!). He produces the #1 morning radio show in South Carolina and he spins jams on the weekends while the best and brightest come out and pound the streets of Charleston. If you're in the area, you'll see him out and you can buy him a drink. Otherwise, for those of you not in the South, DJ Natty Heavy has cut us a mixtape for the Northerners who'd like to spend almost 40-minutes in the dirty. He even cuts the Ting Tings in there for you glam-rock, hipster shitheads. It's called Ya'll Can't Dance Vol.2 and it's up for free download on Nattyheavy.com. We're linking it up so you can download, put it in the iPod, add water and have straight cash on your speakers for the 4th of July. Check it up or check it out.

Listen :: DJ Nattyheavy - Ya'll Can't Dance Vol.2 (39:59)

Fleet Foxes :: "White Winter Hymnal" (in which we meditate the over-commodification of indie rock)

Has Sub Pop been secretly releasing the same record for the last five years? That's unfair. But at times Fleet Foxes sound like a Shins cover-band playing songs off Pet Sounds. Throw some Oh Brother Where Art Thou? in there while we're in a name-checking frenzy.

Fleet Foxes are, of course, more than just a cobbling of influences. They've been featured in the heaviest music publications and on the up-and-coming gangsta of the yuppie music scene ... NPR! (Holy shit! It's All Songs Considered! ) My Dad even looked over at me when "White Winter Hymnal" spun through the radio speakers two weeks ago. He didn't say anything and he didn't need to. It's inoffensive and delicate in all the right places. It's good new music for people that don't really have time to go find good new music. It's underrated and over-publicized. It's major label indie. Everything has officially lost its collective mind. Read that one more time.

Which is why, like Natalie Imbruglia, I'm torn. Is this song more than just okay? There's a 12% that this is really good. If it was self-released and not getting the Sub Pop treatment, would anyone be talking about it? How do we reconcile this stuff? How long does the jury stay out on this? Or have we gone all OJ Simpson 1994 (your second 90s pop culture check of the paragraph) and the jury is back - they've just made the wrong call. It's a little record and it's getting pushed big. At what point will "indie" be short for "industry" not "independent?" The world is upside down. This was the dream the revolution built. And I might be okay with that.

Listen :: Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal


Fujiya & Miyagi :: "Knickerbocker" (stream)

Every morning two years ago, I would ride the B82 bus down Flatlands Ave at the end of the L train. I was in the middle of nowhere and it was crowded and full of extremely loud or angry high school students. I was wearing a tie. I looked, at the very least, like a d-bag. I would fill my iPod shuffle with new music and turn it up until I couldn't hear anything but the first Tokyo Police Club EP (holyshitthisthingisamazing) or whatever else I thought could drown out everything else that was happening around me. Your earbuds need to be jacked to not hear "fuck you, white boy" twice-a-day.

Enter Fujiya & Miyagi and their hypnotic first single, "Ankle Injuries." It didn't hurt that I was tweaking my own old ankle sprain on a bi-weekly basis. It also didn't hurt that the thumping bass line and the driving repetition was one of the few songs that never left my "oh god, how much longer can i work this job?" playlist. It kept things moving. It showed up. It was there when I needed it.

The band is back with a new record, Lightbulbs and it seems like it's going to be more of the same: Electronic soundscapes mixed with repetitive, yet compelling lyrics and that same thumping bass that seemed like it exploded out of an LCD Soundsystem record. First single, "Knickerbocker" has a non-sequiter chorus that can't help but get lodged in your brain stem. In fact, "Vanilla, strawberry, Knickerbocker glory" might be the most memorable nonsense of the year.

And if you need more inspiration, maybe let some angry teenagers throw shit at you. You are wearing a tie. You turn. You stare. You are, finally, not afraid.

Listen :: Fujiya & Miyagi - Ankle Injuries (courtesy of Ryan's Smashing Life)

Listen :: Fujiya & Miyagi - Knickerbocker (stream)

Knickerbocker - Fujiya & Miyagi


On The List :: Ben Gibbard @ The Hiro Ballroom [6.30.08]

"Silver Lining" (Rilo Kiley)

We're going up late with this because, well, this event was an open bar and then we ended up closing a bar back in Brooklyn. So, great work all around. When I left the Hiro Ballroom, just one of the three bars that were serving drinks had rung up a tab of over 3,500 dollars. I think when Rhapsody invited a rag-tag bunch of bloggers, music writers, and industry heavy-hitters , they didn't think we had such a drinking problem. The event was a press briefing to announce "Music without limits." Basically, Rhapsody is going DRM-free in partnership with MTV, iLike, and Verizon. It's complicated as hell but Rhapsody is going to make a serious run at the iTunes music store in terms of being a distributor of mp3s. Two years from now we'll either look back on this announcement as the time when a company finally knocked Apple on its ass or we'll see it as another failed attempt to rip digital revenue away from iTunes. It was over three years in the making and a lot of interesting (read: powerful) people are throwing their weight behind this. In other news, EMI is laying off a thousand workers. Yeah, the music industry is fit as a fucking fiddle.

More importantly, Ben Gibbard played the second-half of the event. He was mutton-chopped and completely engaging. At one point he expressed, "Wow, this is totally not how I thought this was gonna be. In a good way. (laughter, clapping) I mean, you guys are like, listening to me ... and that's really great!" He ran through a set of Death Cab material ("405," "Photobooth," "Title and Registration") and Gibbard originals like "Carolina" off the Home V split he did with Andrew Kenny of American Analog Set. He also covered Stars "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead" and did a spot-on, gut-check version of Rilo Kiley's "Silver Lining" - a song he introduced as "by my friend Jenny." He even ran through some Postal Service material, playing "Brand New Colony" and crushing everyone in sight.

"Brand New Colony" (Postal Service)

We've got some video from last night and ... a raging hangover. Thanks to Rhapsody and every other piece of corporate machinery that led to last night. It's hard to hate The Man when The Man buys all your drinks and let's you stand five feet from one of the better songwriters of the last 10 years. Oh and he closed with "I'll Follow You Into The Dark." So, there was that too.

"I Will Follow You Into The Dark"