Avi Buffalo :: "Remember The Last Time"

Avi Buffalo are one of the LA bands we didn't see back in July. They came highly recommended, got themselves a Sub Pop deal and a bunch of ink but our schedules didn't match up. Consider our embarassment.

With their Sub Pop debut due at the end of April, "Remember The Last Time" drops as a five-part ode to the lost love, with emotionally-lorn sound-scapes and an eventually thrashing conclusion. In its nearly eight-minutes, "Remember The Last Time" breaks and builds with these breathing keyboards and guitars to warm your ears with attacking stereo. As the lyrics indicate in the bridge, "I've never written a love song," the implication is either that this is the first of many "love songs," or that it should certainly not be misconstrued as such. The arrangement breaks into a million guitars and fractures like a good childhood memory you have every reason to believe is biased.

Listen :: Avi Buffalo - "Remember The Last Time"


LCD Soundsystem :: "Drunk Girls"

The level of intensity around the new LCD Soundsystem record is such that a girl I know working the album told me, rather flatly, "I could play it for you but I'd have to break the CD in front of you after." It wasn't entirely clear why this would be necessary but I got the point; we will take nearly theatrical measures to protect this record. But in a coordinated and approved "leak" (when publicists call "leaks" a "surprise" in their email announcing the "leak," you can be deservedly suspicious of the source), James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem are officially back with first single, "Drunk Girls."

"Drunk Girls" will storm its way onto Alternative Rock radio and onto the late-night playlists of millions of self-described cool kids. It is instantly memorable and catchy, a hybrid of the lyrical reference games of "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House," and the thudding, sonic down-strokes of "North American Scum." Murphy is at is his finest, saying almost nothing while still unleashing Confucian gems like, "Drunk girls know that love is an astronaut/It comes back but it's never the same." In the chorus, Murphy affirms that, "I believe in waking up together" before clarifying, "I believing in waking up with no promises." The arrangement storms and fumes around him, exhaling and puffing like an over-confident and terrifyingly breakable teenager.

For James Murphy, a guy who sounded like a rock star before he was one, this is the moment where those two impulses intersect. He recorded the album in a Los Angeles mansion. The last record, Sounds of Silver was about the crisis of post-adolescence, spending 45 days in the middle of France, and where the hell were your friends? The unsettling is over. As Murphy postulates, "Just cause you're hungry/doesn't mean that you're lean," super-stardom is at hand. Hungry and fit, LCD Soundsystem is playing your house, your house.


The National :: "Bloodbuzz Ohio"

The first time I saw The National was 2006 at a show about which my colleague Noah would later write, (I'm paraphrasing) "It was hard to tell if your phone was vibrating in your pocket or if the sound was shaking your body." This was vastly prior to the meditative and NPR-approved record Boxer. In 2005 the band was hungry and touring on Alligator, entirely as pissed off as indie rock would let itself be. Fast-forward to 2008; audiences were paying 30-bucks a ticket to see "Start A War" and the band was sort of swimming through their catalogue, almost sedated, until they closed with "Mr. November." For those of us who knew a different band, a band with more soul or maybe more pain, this version seemed tame.

Back with "Bloodbuzz Ohio" off High Violet, the band is literally discussing a return of sorts. In this case, a magically-real (via "a swarm of bees?") return to the land of Ohio where they wrote their earliest records, where they wrote parts of Alligator. "Bloodbuzz Ohio" falls somewhere between "Brainy" and "Mistaken For Strangers," two songs that are recognizably off the album that not 50 words ago I accused of being tame and predictable. But, perhaps this goes further or takes the dark jag that the band so vehemently discussed. "Bloodbuzz" is the sonic undeniability of a band with a limited range, but what they do, they do undeniably well. Suffice it to say, until we see the tour, the nation should set their phone on permanent vibrate for you.

Listen :: The National - "Bloodbuzz Ohio"


Teenage Fanclub :: "Baby Lee"

Perhaps the only band that can make a light, sing-song melody sound a little bit like a sinking ship, Teenage Fanclub are back with a new record, Shadows, and a new single, "Baby Lee." Sounding a touch more rural than their most recent gritty slow-burn, Man-Made, the band does their best rendition of very-nearly Jayhawks progression. The vocals have an edge of hush and the lyrics rely on candor and simple couplet. It is, however, the foundational reliance on acoustic guitar that changes the fundamentals of the sound, turning it away from the buzzing, hushing alt-rock of the band's previous albums. If you like Princeton, the chord progression is very nearly "Sadie and Andy," which was as bright a slice of pop as 2009 had to offer. Teenage Fanclub doesn't have it in their DNA to go soft, but this is certainly a sunnier version of the emotional anchor they drop through the bottom of their boat everytime the release a record. One supposes this is the song to hum as you sink to the bottom.

Listen :: Teenage Fanclub - "Baby Lee"
Listen :: Teenage Fanclub - "It's All In My Mind"
Listen :: Princeton - "Sadie and Andy"

Fang Island :: "Daisy" [Video]

This generation of kids is challenged with getting earnesty back. They're not disaffected in the way that grunge rock tapped in the early 1990s. If anything, the great crime of the current post-adolescent isn't anger; it's hyper-literacy. And with this well-versedness came criticism and with this criticism, disappointment. Fang Island are hell-bent to get away from this methodology. "Daisy" is a phenomenal eruption into the blue, all that critical energy driven into extroversion, a tribal call to arms. This is music for a generation of kids who grew up having Maurice Sendak read to them before bed, who grew into trouble, hype-dealers, critics, day-job cats and late-night dogs, and inexplicable imaginators, even in their darkest moments. This is for you, everyone.

Listen :: Fang Island - "Daisy"


[Elevator] Blair :: "Heart" and "Hello Halo"

Every year SXSW yields a few bands who walk away with some real momentum. Of course, this over simplifies a process that includes many outstanding bands, label executives punishing their expense accounts and a ton of glad-handing and back-slapping. Ultimately, for all the business discussions and networking, we are left with the few bands who get to use this Brokedown Palace-business model to their advantage. Last year, we suggested that Local Natives would come storming out of SXSW. This year, meet Blair.

Blair is one of those trans-continental stories, new to Brooklyn, from New Orleans, spent some time in LA. Her music is cute without being cloying, managing to deal in enough heartbreak to evoke a more modern and less slutty Liz Phair, or a substantially grungier Leslie Feist. "Heart" turns into a massive, whirring pathos, after a beginning of shabby 90s guitars and bright keyboards. The haunting pre-chorus, repeating, "it's different, I mean it, wake up, it's different," will stay with you well past the song's slated running time of just under four-minutes. The more straight-forward "Hello Halo" is a little slice of uptempo, lo-fi, showcasing Blair's vocals and a hook that unapologetically indicates, "Got a radio in my head." You absolutely have to believe her. Our radios are in our chests, and we're in love with this. Let's check back in December, but this is her year now.

Listen :: Blair - "Heart"
Listen :: Blair - "Hello Halo"


Freelance Whales :: "Generator 1st Floor" [Aislyn Remix]

Maybe I like Freelance Whales a little because, otherwise, they would be too easy to hate. Maybe their derivative vulnerability makes them seem somehow worthy of defending; or it could be their fun and empirically great debut LP, Weathervanes. It could also be that their influences are too easy to peg, almost obvious and earnest in their plagiarism, making their artistic choices seem, somehow, honest. We live in strange cultural times.

In regard to Freelance Whales, consider the generation of college kids who matriculated between 2003-2006, finding the first Arcade Fire album and the Postal Service record in the same 12-18 month span. It just crushed them in as stunning and seismic way as The Strokes first LP crushed college kids in 2001-2003. But this new paradigm was different, something other than lionizing downtown disaffection (Julian, yes, you did that). These were emotional hymns with epic structure. It was emotive rock music for kids who saw the world from their own private Idahos. It was a snow globe for kids who already lived inside one.

This is not to say that Freelance Whales are doing the disingenuine work of bad artists. They're doing the exact work we might expect. Just like this remix of "Generator 1st Floor" by one of the Passion Pit kids. Just because it's expected doesn't make it wrong.

Listen :: Freelance Whales - "Generator 1st Floor" [Aislyn Remix]

Twin Sister :: "All Around and Away We Go"

You would be hard pressed to find a better title for the first song leaking off your first proper full-length album than "All Around and Away We Go." Like a whispering disco-joint, Twin Sister issue a vague statement of purpose, with rippling guitars and shimmering sonics. A saucy bass-line rules whole portions of the arrangement in between echoing, carefree vocals. It sounds like Studio 54 sunk to the bottom of a swimming pool, glam and disco floating past each other with bemused, magic-realist expressions on their faces. They wave to each other, genres supplanted and sunk in the hands of 21st century kids who had the gall to play games with them in the backyard. Like most of Twin Sister's previous material, it is catchy but just as you grasp hold, it sinks to bottom like a bunch of breath-holding children.

Listen :: Twin Sister - "All Around and Away We Go"


On The List :: Marina and the Diamonds @ Le Poisson Rouge [3.15.10]

Marina Diamandis is pretty in a way that makes your stomach hurt. Taking the stage at Le Poisson Rouge, dressed in black and stupifyingly beautiful, Marina and the Diamonds embarked on her second show in the United States. She later confided, with her high cheekbones bursting in ebullience, that she wanted to come to the U.S. (maybe even, specifically New York) to perform for 10 years. The audience clapped, half-magnanimous, half-willing to do whatever this brilliant, talented girl tells us.

Marina opened with the crotch-grabbing assault on traditional femininity, "Girls." She was hectoring in her tone but warm in her affect, smiling through, "girls they never hear from me/'cause I fall asleep when they speak." Immediately, she moved into b-side, "Seventeen." Though she was connected and connecting, the night didn't turn until Marina delved into "I Am Not A Robot," a song about feeling feelings, even when the result is certain agony. In a telling moment in the first chorus the crowd shouted the lyrics and Marina broke in a grin that said something like, "It's fun to travel 4,500 miles and have people know your songs."

Of course, the sound and the arrangements couldn't be nearly as rich as stunning debut record, The Family Jewels. Occasionally the keys and synths were tinny and Marina frequently sung against her pre-recording backing vocals. This, of course, stole from her most charming quality, an ocean liner of a voice with control and range to burn. In her most revealing moment of the evening, Marina sat alone at the keys for "Numb," a song ostensibly about the necessary loneliness of success. As her voice reached from its lowest to its highest register she intoned, "I will wonder why I got dark only to shine." It was heart-breaking and, either through performance skill or the relative freshness of the wound, she seemed genuinely moved by her own music.

After running through demo-favorite of 2008, "Obsessions," Marina moved towards newer material, "Oh No" and soon-to-be radio hit single "Hollywood." Like the video that accompanies the single, there was a moment in "Hollywood," right before the first chorus where you felt her getting famous. She was bigger than the room, meant for television and awkward interviews with stiff comedians at 11.35pm. The Family Jewels is lyrically about her drive for fame, dominance, excellence, the nearly Nietzschean ubermench. Well, in the sold-out basements of the West Village, she was here and it was all happening.

Listen :: Marina and the Diamonds - "I Am Not A Robot" [Starsmith's 24 Carat Remix]
Listen :: Marina and the Diamonds - "Hollywood" [Fenech Soler Remix"

On The List :: Hockey @ Bowery Ballroom [3.15.10]

This review runs in radio edit shine at Bowery's Houselist Blog

Hockey's lead singer Benjamin Grubin has this habit of touching his face. At times, this manifests as an index finger pressed to the femple, accompanied by a cocked eyebrow that indicates revelation at hand. In other moments, it is an open palm into which he buries his face and hairline. Nearly always he explodes away from these gestures, whipping his lithe frame in circles. On this night at a sold out Bowery, Grubin was in exactly this moment between the revelations communicated to his temple and the shroud of his palm over his face, both inspired and insecure, a spinning, exploding vessel of influences and new creations.

Of course, the Grubin acknowledges the unique space Hockey inhabits between the bands they are admittedly borrowing from and the new music they forged in this crucible of pastiche. On "Song Away," a song that transported the audience to a Tom Petty summer on the FM dial, Grubin sang, "I stole my personality from an anonymous source/and I'm getting paid for it to/I don't feel bad about that." This is just seconds after confiding "I want to write a truthful song over an 80s groove." The song was both, completely lifted and completely elevating. The sell-out crowd moved like it was the middle of June and perhaps Grubin's admitted influence-plagiarism made this all more carefree and honest. Earlier on the soaring "Learn to Lose," he admitted "Last time I lost control of my confidence it took me five years to get it back." The forthrightness was winning and unquestionably original.

In between playing two new songs, darker creations suggesting a deep second album, the band crushed debut record favorites "3am Spanish" and "Curse This City." After a deserved encore, the band closed with the appropriate "Too Fake" and Grubin was back to the topic of originality. This time coming to front of the stage, he screamed the chorus, "Look out! I'm just too fake for the world!" It was both terms of surrender and declaration of war, exhaustion in the age of footnotes and inspiration in a time of collage.


Arms :: "Heat and Hot Water"

Arms are deservedly known for their quiet melodies and dignified, downcast pop. "Heat and Hot Water" is an exercise in layers, hiding parts of itself in the arrangement, expanding and contracting like the crystalline backing vocals that provide the gloss on an intentionally pebbled exterior. The track finds its true footing halfway through, at the 1.33 mark when the lyrics describe the following recipe for drowning: "While you're waiting outside on your sister's roof/for the light to stream out of the garden/I'll be lying face down in an empty pool/while the rain falls hard on the bottom." The structure is bare but building; the terrible dialectic lies between you, yes you, standing on the roof waiting for the sun to break through while I, yes I, lie face down waiting to drown in the rising water. From here the texture is richer, full drums, a clap-track and a plinking peel-off to simulate the coming flood. Of course, it won't change which one of you is standing on the roof and which is face down in the pool.

Listen :: Arms - "Heat and Hot Water" [zshare]


On The List :: Free Energy @ Mercury Lounge [3.11.10]

It is both lazy and not useful to distill a band down to just one moment in one of their songs. But, despite this, it is hard to avoid finding some real capital "T" Truth in the second-half of Free Energy's eponymous statement song, "Free Energy." Perhaps they meant it as the "about us" section of their metaphorical website; maybe this song wasn't named after the band but the other way around. In the middle of their set, at a packed Mercury Lounge, Free Energy would bear this out and see how much they could pack into one part of one song, into that one lazy, reductionist moment.

This is the sort of noesis that does not emerge immediately, as if it isn't fun to figure it all out in the first song. Opening with "Hope Child," a song that is slotted second-to-last on their debut album, the band proved that their catalogue, even for a first record, runs deep. Finding their legs near the middle of the set, singer Paul Sprangers ran through the no-nothing anthem, "All I Know," and the explosive b-side, "Something In Common," in rapid succession. If you need proof that the recently released Stuck On Nothing is outstanding, look no further than the excising of the excellent "Something In Common" from the final track list. Sprangers has noted in interviews, "it just didn't fit."

Again, however, despite all this fervor, we were waiting for definitiveness. With little regard for human safety (oh the humanity?), Sprangers and the band launched into "Free Energy," or That One Moment. The second-half, coming out of the bridge provided it, the lyrics suggesting, "If you wanna get high kid, just open your eyes." The band then charged back through the chorus the audience already heard twice and this time, not surprisingly, it was different. The temperature of the room went up, quietly, two or three degrees. With a casual directness, Sprangers lead the band into should-be radio hit, "Bang Pop." We might have come looking for That Moment but in the process we found a few, noesis recasted not as sudden understanding but, rather a pleasantly surprising architecture of incidental greatnesses. Now, you understand.


[Video] The National - "Terrible Love"

Our first look at The National's forthcoming LP High Violet came last night on Fallon's show. The song, "Terrible Love" is somewhere between the piano-driven "Fake Empire" and the finger-picked "All The Wine." "Terrible Love" has a second-movement, with horns and ratatat drums and most importantly, finds the band back to the darkness that colored Alligator. Somewhere, Matty Berninger is drinking white zinfandel and thinking about what rhymes with "soho riots," but in the last half of "Terrible Love," he's back closer to the sound that gave suggestions to "Abel" and promised no letdown from his personal avatar, "Mr. November."

Interview :: Free Energy [3.11.10]

Free Energy have their debut record, Stuck On Nothing, out this week and play two shows in New York on Thursday and Friday. We exchanged some emails about my friend from college, working with James Murphy and riding on the wings of dolphins.

32ft: My friend brought you guys to Kenyon College back when you were touring as Hockey Night. He says you crashed on his couch. I mentioned Free Energy the other day and he insisted I say hello and that, well, he still thinks you rock.

Free Energy:
I totally remember Phil!! He told me about Spank Rock. Totally awesome guy. Tell him hi! And Thanks!

Down to business, Free Energy has a flair for the classic rock influences. What are your Top Five Desert Island Albums?

Right now I've been listening to these tapes in the van:

Born in the U.S.A. - Springsteen
World Clique - Dee Lite
Kick - INXS
Graceland - Paul Simon
Men With Broken Hearts - Mississippi Records Tape Series

Describe the experience of working with James Murphy. He gave an interview where he described falling more and more in love with your record as the process unfolded. Fair assessment?

Amazing, life changing experience. I think we all fell in love with the record as it went on. We didn't know each other and didn't know how it would turn out at the beginning, so it was really exciting as it went on and kept sounding better and better.

Your band is stranded on a sinking ocean liner and there are only enough life-preservers to save two of you. Who lives and why?

I take BOTH life preservers, and try to somehow harness them to a couple dolphins who will pull me quickly to shore.

New York crowds are notorious for their lack of enthusiasm but, truthfully, it's happening everywhere. You guys are a fun band: Are crowds getting worse or are bands getting less fun?

The truth is, New York crowds are awesome. We get good New York crowds. People come to our shows ready to have a good time. I love playing New York.

In my social circle, your lyric, "We are young and still alive/now the time is on our side" has gained something of a cult following. Is this the anthem for a new youth movement? Should we be burning down the Bastille?

Might as well.

Best potential for an old-school rock feud or, put another way, what band do you love hating?

I love to hate on: Clapton, Steppenwolf, George Thorogood, maybe The Guess Who, the song "Mony Mony."

What is the one thing people should absolutely remember about your band?

We love music completely.

Listen :: Free Energy - "Free Energy"


We Are Scientists :: "Rules"

We Are Scientists return with a pure hybrid of their last two records. With the punk and garage influence of their debut sublimated in the context of the bass-heavy and (was it really?) Duran Duran influence of their second album, We Are Scientists appear as exactly the alchemists they've always supposed themselves to be on record number three. On "Don't Stop," the band finds a flicking arrangment that metacizes into a stomping and immediately familiar chorus. It isn't "After Hours" and it isn't "The Scene Is Dead" but it is the first glimpse at the band's third record where rules, aparently, are not a problem.

Listen :: We Are Scientists - "Rules" [zshare]


Magic Man :: "Monster"

This is about hiding and waiting. Magic Man, a sparkling and fuzzy synth outfit from Boston, generate "Monster," a song that exists somewhere between the tribal pop of Tanlines and the electro instrumentation of The Postal Service. A slow burn and a propulsive drive, it would be easy to reduce ourselves to an attention span that bores easily and doesn't have time for the popping down-beat appearing at 1.20. The chorus hides out like a committed Sardines player, attracting followers and size until only one seeker can't find the group location. Huddled behind a couch, or in the back of a closet in a forgotten bedroom, until 2.24 when the discovery unleashes relief, peels of laughter and an instruction: "Find your monsters/don't tell your friends." It twists the focus inward. For a song that resists being found, but is also completely after us, the directive is to dig down, to find something hiding and collecting dust in the quiet of our subconscious. The method is the madness; if the chorus is deep with in, we are going to have to fight to find the beauty in the breakdown.

Listen :: Magic Man - "Monster" [zshare]

You can get the whole Magic Man record for free at their bandcamp. It's outstanding.


On The List :: Small Black @ Mercury Lounge [3.7.10]

This review runs, in radio edit shine on Bowery's Houselist.

In an appropriate coda to the fading electro craze of the last five years, newly dubbed "glo-fi" bands stepped into a void that perhaps didn't exist. Small Black is exactly one of those bands, not quite original but more likely a sharp, revisionist critic. After all, the lo-fi synth movement managed to fire this electro-impulse through muddy, underwater effects and fuzz, finding rough choruses and beauty in something intentionally broken. If Justice was a metaphorical Saturday night, Small Black is slow-drive, contrarian Sunday morning.

With multi-colored lights echoing around the front of the stage, Small Black appeared four-across, opening with "Weird Machines." Not the least bit ironic, even given the collection of technology on stage, the song is endemic of what makes the band such an intriguing prospect; it is both anthemic and intentionally drowned in cold medicine reverb. In what is now typical response, the crowd moved their feet and nodded their heads with vicious and responsive purpose. Running through the bass-heavy, "Lady In The Wires" and some unreleased material before closing with the anti-hit hit, "Despicable Dogs" and the closer, "Bad Lover," Small Black defined something both steeped in criticism and concerned with contemporaneity.

As the lyrics to "Despicable Dogs" - "do it without me/do it when I'm gone" - sailed out through flashing light and moving humanity, there attached no extra significance as the second to last song of the night. In ways, the pathos was the narrative movement from bands obsessed with the dance floor to bands making similar music in their bedrooms. This is the soundtrack to a Breakfast Club generation that never received a detention, a soundtrack for the kids who actually enjoyed staying home. If Small Black isn't crushing your Saturday night, and this was a Sunday, they are the blinking, blurry eyes of a Sunday morning, criticism and coffee in the kitchen.

Listen :: Small Black - "Despicable Dogs"


Wolf Gang :: "Back to Back"

Wolf Gang was unquestionably our favorite discovery of 2009. He began the year by blowing our doors off with "Night Flying" and "Lions In Their Cages" before brightening our Los Angeles summer retreat with "Pieces of You" and living up to his major label potential with the year closing, "King And All Of His Men."

Willing to chase his sound to darker corners, Wolf Gang has returned with the demo for "Back to Back." The same shabby guitars and soaring harmonies color the chorus, with ethereal, down-tempo verses. Perhaps the lyrics say it best, "When everyone is thinking that I must be depressed/the point that they're missing is/I don't want nobody else." With a backing that almost recalls the xx during the second verse, Wolf Gang holds on for the slow drive before the ascending chord-progression of the chorus takes us to the soft center of the pop universe. Wolf Gang's mastery continues; if you don't find him, he will certainly find you. Stream and download the demo below.

Wolfgang - Back To Back by Atlantic Records UK


Interview :: Oberhofer [3.3.10]

One of our favorite new New York acts is the poverbial young gun, originally from Tacoma, Washington; Bradley Oberhofer. Playing under simply his last name, Oberhofer, we shot some emails back and forth about monikers, sonics and how his band didn't end up being called Quick Tit.

32feet: Last five songs played on your iTunes? Only lie if
they're super awful or incriminating.

Bradley Oberhofer:

1. “Stillness of the Mind”- Abel Korzeniowski
2. “Flytrap”- Ace Tone Fuzz Master
3. “Black Rice”- Women
4. “You Have My Eyes Now”- Clues
5. “Cold Wind”- Arcade Fire

Describe the thought process behind naming a band after your last name. If this trend had taken off in the early 1990s, we all we could have loved and then boycotted, simply, Matthews' "Ants Marching." Subquestion: Was it tempting to ironically name yourself The Bradley Oberhofer Band? (I recognize you address this in dramatic succinctness on your myspace.)

I could really just never come up with anything else I felt enthusiastic about. There were a lot of things I considered, but I didn't find anything else as interesting. “Teeth” was taken, and I was contemplating a few others. Someone nearly convinced me to change the name to “Quick Tit”. Part of me regrets not taking their advice. I would never call it my band mostly because the live show is way better than the recordings thanks to the other people in the band. (Mike, Andrew, Pete). I kind of just like the meter of my last name.

I called your songs post-apocalyptic, orchestral pop. How far off is that?

I mean, as of now it's not as orchestral as I can afford, but it's definitely post-apocalyptic. I think I aspire more toward “apocalyptic”, than “post-apocalyptic”.

If Oberhofer was stranded on a sinking ship and help wasn't going to arrive in time, who gets the only life preserver you find?

Well Andrew's beard is pretty buoyant, and Mike can swim like a fish. So, Pete gets the life preserver, plus he's the cutest.

What is the biggest secret plan for the band in 2010 that you can tell us right now?
Well I mean, if it were secret, I wouldn’t tell you. Let’s leave this part mysterious.

Ok, fair. What is one thing people should absolutely remember about Oberhofer that they don't know or consistantly get wrong?

That I wouldn’t be able to achieve much at all without the band I play with (Andrew, Mike and Pete), but I also really want people to pay more attention to the musical talent that exists in Tacoma, WA. It’s there. Sorry, that’s two things.

Listen :: Oberhofer - "I Could Go"


On The List :: Shout Out Louds @ MHOW [3.1.10]

This review and some fantastic images run on Bowery Presents' House List.

It seemed like the stakes were unnaturally high. The Shout Out Louds were back from the brink of dissolution, back in the city they hadn't seen in nearly three years with an audience maybe worse for wea. But, lead singer Adam Olenius has always been a dealer in pain. Only now on a sold-out Monday night, Olenius seemed aware of himself as fractured, aware of his crowd as broken and in need of pathos. Dressed in black and sporting the type of beard that says, if we are to believe The Royal Tenenbaums, "I just tanked a tennis tournament and the woman I love doesn't love me back," Olenius emerged in the flesh, entirely prepared to live or die with us.

The material off the band's latest effort, Work is darker in nature, driven at the soul of what almost killed this group in 2008. Olenius strolled out to album opener, "1999" and as locked in the past as the song's titled suggested, lost somewhere before things went black. But slowly he and his band mates found their stride, sounding explosive and pitch-perfect on "Tonight I Have To Leave It." Minutes later, the band hammered through latest single, "Fall Hard," an ode to mutualism in the face of fatality. Olenius was hardly prepared to give in, directing the band through a fuzzy, shabby-in-places rendition of "The Comeback."

The Shout Out Louds left with "Show Me Something New" and second-album b-side, "Hard Rain," prompting Olenius to say, "This is for our Mercury Lounge days." As much as the band was tied to their past, they were locked in Olenius dark and very present return. For their latest record, written in a tiny apartment, alone in Australia, it rang with appropriate measure. The lights went down, Olenius held his hands up and the audience was left with nothing but buzz and echo in the darkness.

Listen :: Shout Out Louds - "Walls"


1, 2, 3 :: "Confetti"

Only few bands officially entered the, "um, ok, how should I say that?" echelon. The last great one was !!!, a band that inspired such debate that had they not revealed the pronunciation of "Chk Chk Chk," it might have begun to unravel the sanity of their true fans. Now, from Pittsburgh, we have a new entry, 1, 2, 3. Is it "One two three?" Is it, as their myspace indicates, "One comma two comma three?" Seems too literal. Is it simply unpronounceable, like an indie rock Prince or something? Is it just a rhythmic count-off? Is their name how they start every show?

"Confetti" is a big stomping tune, like a 15-story monster trudging through a major metropolitan area. But, in this version, at the end Godzilla links arms with the Japanese people and sways and sings along to this song. Everyone would somehow forget the city was in ruins and the military would stop firing their useless weapons at the sky. In short, bygones would be bygones. Regardless of how you would ever tell someone else about this band (or about the magic realism in this paragraph), they sound like a dose of early Starlight Mints, a slice of Sgt. Pepper behind likeable melody and enough bombast to wink, just a little, at the pop genre.

Listen :: 1, 2, 3 - "Confetti"