Listen :: Eagulls - "Council Flat Blues" [mediafire]
Listen :: Twin Sister - "All Around And Away We Go"
Fast-forward to the winter of 2009-10 (Frightened Rabbit will suggest this is The Winter of Mixed Drinks, a name for which the jury is still out), and Marina's debut record leaks on the US market like a hurricane leaks into a major metropolitan area. People are destroyed, concerned parties look for shelter. And it is into this mess that another voice steps. Rumors begin to circulate about a remix of "Robot" so good it will get its own single release. We are used to the hyperbole and yet, this is different. The rhetoric is that of earnestly surprised, stunned insiders. Clock Opera reflects over his twitter about the profound excitement surrounding this recording. This is not particularly surprising. But like a bad teen murder movie about a cursed cassette tape, anyone who hears this thing is immediately killed by it. We wait.
Minutes before heading to the airport in late March, a copy of the remix hits my hard drive. It is a complete recasting of the original with a chopped, stunning chorus made of found parts. Never pick up. Anything. You don't ring ring run. The nonsense speaks. Guess what? Still not a robot. Prepare to be human, remixed.
Listen :: Marina and the Diamonds - "I Am Not A Robot" [Clock Opera Remix]
Listen :: Treasure - "Canada"
Listen :: Thrushes - "Trees"
Listen :: Three Blind Wolves - "Three Blind Wolves" [mediafire]
Listen :: Mary Onettes - "The Night Before The Funeral
Listen :: Mary Onettes - "Puzzles"
Listen :: Mary Onettes - "Lost"
Odd Bones, Yeasayer's sophomore effort, plays as a lovely, layered, lushly orchestrated album. It's the product of countless hours spent working mixing boards until they emitted smoke. It is, inevitably, irreproducible live.
Yeasayer is also tired. The quintet played a show at Coachella the previous day and look drained from the sun. Chris Keating says he and his mates are genuinely happy to play the Fillmore, and we believe him, but their energy remains lost in the desert.
The set, front-loaded with mellow songs, starts slowly. The crowd wonders why they sound better on the album. There are moments when the momentum builds, but then it disappears. We grow restless.
Then "2080." Off of 2007 effort All Hour Cymbals, it's a simpler song, translating seamlessly from album to stage. It also happens to feature a perfect band/audience bonding moment: "Yeah, yeah. We can all grab at the chance to be handsome farmers!/Yeah you can have 21 sons and be blood when they marry my daughters." And we're off.
Keating, refreshed, asks "Are we ready to get serious?" before launching into "O.N.E."
"Because I like it when you lose control," he sings while the Fillmore's springboard floor turns into a trampoline under the stress of 1,000 dancing feet. "Ambling Alp" closes the set and Yeasayer disappears stage left.
They return for the encore. Keating grabs a digital camera a girl in the front row set on the stage. He improvs, "Leave the camera on the stage and it gets taken," while taking pictures of his band and the audience. "What do you think this is, your bookshelf?" he asks with a laugh before returning the Canon. He's having fun. So are we.
Don't give up on me, and I won't give up on you, k?
Listen :: Yeasayer - "Ambling Alp"
Listen :: Yeasayer - "O.N.E."
Beach House - The Arrangementbysubpop
Listen :: The National - "I'm Afraid Of Everyone"
This review runs in radio edit shine on Bowery's House List blog.
Florence Welch strutted to the stage dressed in a flowing white camisole, evoking something like a deconstructed swan, equally beautiful and breaking. Her knobby knees attached to skinny legs attached to high heels, which click-clacked to the microphone in front of a sold-out Terminal 5 packed with people who had come to see this tiny girl with the enormous pipes. Her performance would prove more workmanlike than mercurial, battling a worn-out voice through songs designed for her normally fighter-plane vocals. But like all the greats, Welch would not quietly bow to the wear of the road. Instead, we saw a different woman, profoundly animated, willing to work with us and through the night.
For clarity’s sake, saying Welch was “battling a worn-out voice” is roughly analogous to saying you stayed in the shittiest five-star hotel in Monte Carlo. She has push-you-back-in-your-seat, dunk-from-the-foul-line, big-enough-to-sink-this-city ability. Early in the night on “Kiss with a Fist,” the singer colored the domestic-violence metaphors by testing the top of her range in the song’s final third. Moving through album-stunners “Coffins” and “Between Two Lungs,” she eased off the throttle, while pointing and gesturing at the first few rows of people. It only became clear how much of a vocal struggle Welch was engaged in when she altered the melody on “Drumming Song.” Not coincidentally, the song’s centerpiece was a stunning breakdown where Welch, heels off now, skipped through the middle of the stage while barking an improvised second movement. The greats are great, even when they’re not.
Before “Cosmic Love,” Welch mentioned that she had some family in the audience. Of course this lead to a final denouement where the crowd insisted on being dubbed family, too. She raised her glass to us, and a thousand people raised their digital cameras in return. After closing with a carbonated “Dog Days Are Over,” Welch returned for an encore of “You’ve Got the Love” and “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up).” In one of the last lyrics of the night, she wailed into the dark: “This is a gift/ It comes with a price.” A song about animal sacrifice could have been no more appropriate for the tiny woman who stayed long after her band left to bow, wave and thank the people who came to see her.
James Murphy comes to the stage last with a little yin-and-yang advice. "There's good news and there's bad news," he says, staring into the stage lights. The crowd claps furiously, curiously. "The good news is we're here." Music Hall is reaching a fever pitch. "The bad news is I'm wasted," Murphy finishes his home-coming haiku. It's all true; they are here and the leader of LCD Soundsystem is comically, fantasically drunk. He finally adds, "This isn't really a show ... This is just ... us, playing for our friends."
The first half of the set features "Us V Them" and newest radio-single, "Drunk Girls," but the story is more Murphy's between-song narration. He tells us that this is the longest time the band has ever had between shows. He struggles through the passive voice in much the same way as the writer of the previous sentence. He also tells us this two, three, four, and five times. The crowd cuts him a break; he's drinking whiskey and champagne, he tells us, from a water bottle brought by a part-time guitarist, part-time sideline supporter at stage right. Did he mention that this is the longest break between shows in LCD Soundsystem history? Yes. "This isn't a show," he repeats, "this is us learning to be a band again." James Murphy is drunk.
Of course, it would be easy to focus on his drunkness and ignore the night's most important moments. "All My Friends" was typically propulsive, with a back-lit Murphy standing on a stage monitor and screaming, with the crowd, "WHERE ARE YOUR FRIENDS TONIGHT?" You simply haven't lived until you've seen this live. The band departs after playing some material from their first sets of single releases, "Losing My Edge" and "Yeah."
Murphy tells us they don't do encores when the band returns. He says, "Encores are for other places, not where we live. Encores are for places where people think we're something we're not." They play "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House," "Someone Great," and classsic, vaguely eponymous closer, "New York, I Love You." Murphy will play with the words a little, leaving out the most important one; "New York, I love you, oh don't change a thing."
Listen :: Hooray For Earth - "Surrounded By Your Friends"
Listen :: Twin Sister - "Lady Daydream"
Tweaking like a late Modest Mouse record, or at times like a more acoustic, folksy Silversun Pickups, GROUP deliver a propulsive, stomping, instantly catchy anthem with "Colours." The song has two distinct movements, with an E-string bridge in the middle, the second-half relying on the lyric, "We call it ... life." Zucconi, over-layed with a delicate female vocal, wails into the sky before reinsisting, "yeah, we call it ... LIFE!" It's one of those, "this is everything" moments where you, quite reasonably, feel like your heart might pop. GROUP pleads they're just like us but they suggest something different - a place in the sky where elevation is just part of the process. It really ain't that bad. We call it life.
Listen :: GROUP - "Colours" [mediafire]
Bands are these parental curators and the records are their display case children. Meaning, for The Lodger, a band out of Leeds, their third record, Flashbacks, will be undeniably different than the previous two. Historically, The Lodger has been a purveyor of shiny, major-key pop. Some of that remains but the guitars are less concerned with clarity and perfection, finding their sound layered and, at times, buzzing. Lead track, "The Back Of My Mind" calls on the same territory as Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (In fairness, the band refers readers to Orange Juice and The Jam as their main influences). It is a very minor risk, but a risk that comes with time, a little more freedom and a feeling that, well, the other two turned out fine; we can take some chances here. Brilliant.
Listen :: The Lodger - "The Back Of My Mind"