Friday, December 31, 2010

11 songs to ring in 2011

Happy New Year's (Eve)!  This past year has been jam-packed (mostly with work), but I just came back from an exceedingly fun week at home where I had my first Christmas, saw lots of friends, ate my favorite foods, and turned yet another year older.  I came back yesterday to the remaining horrors of Sunday's blizzard, with snowbanks almost as tall as I am blocking in half the cars in my neighborhood.

My parting gift to the year that was 2010 is a little mix - songs to end the year, and a few to bring us into 2011.  I'm ringing in the new year with a large group, seeing more friends, and then perhaps I'll just hibernate this winter...or at least until this snow calms down.

Friday, December 24, 2010

You were bright, like a new day

Last week, on a whim, I bought myself a ticket to see Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr play at Bowery Ballroom (they were opening for Bear Hands).  I showed up just in time to see (the) Tony Castles and there was practically no one in there.  I casually found myself right up front, in perfect position for the awesomeness that is the DEJrJr set design.  They play off the ridiculousness of their name perfectly.  It is all so kitschy and delightfully trashy to look at.  I mean, they have wooden letters with light bulbs spelling out JR JR bookending the stage.  It all stands in great contrast to the sincerity of their sweet lyrics about love and girls (and not car racing). 

"Skeletons" (from their upcoming LP) was a) great, and b) a fun group performance

Oh look, it's me at the bottom right of this photo.  Thanks, BrooklynVegan!

I'm off to the airport now to spend a week back in Chicago.  Yes!  So excited to see my friends and parents and get out of the city for a bit.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Do Ask, Do Tell: My Top 10 of '10

Choosing my ten favorite albums this year has seemed particularly daunting.  Maybe it's because I already knew there would a struggle when a few months into the year my calendar was already overflowing with reminders about album release dates from old favorites.  The inevitability of new bands being noteworthy made things almost too overwhelming to think about.

That being said, here are my favorites.  The albums that have gotten me through this year, the albums that have maintained my sanity.  The albums I wish had come out sooner so I could have that much more time with them.  The albums I desperately want all of my friends to love, too, even if that's unrealistic because when it comes down to it, favorites are pretty freaking personal. 

#10: Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History (US Release: April 13, 2010)
Choosing which album just made it onto this list has been more difficult than I would have imagined.  New vs old?  I felt bad leaving off so many albums from bands that I've loved for so many years.  But, when I look back on 2010, I'm going to remember falling for Two Door Cinema Club, and won't necessarily remember that this is the year that Spoon released Transference or The Hold Steady came out with Heaven is Whenever (deepest apologies to Britt Daniel and Craig Finn, both of whom I hold in the highest regard).  From the moment I heard "I Can Talk" though, I was totally hooked.  Two Door Cinema Club is insanely catchy and I am beyond excited to see them play with Tokyo Police Club in 2011.
You should listen to: "I Can Talk" and "Undercover Martyn Flexin' It" (Passion Pit Remix)"

#9: Frightened Rabbit - Winter of Mixed Drinks (US Release: March 9, 2010)
The Midnight Organ Fight is a tough album to beat, or even to match.  However, I will say that in this particular installment, Frightened Rabbit has brought back their Scottish brogue to another set of songs that have permeated every aspect of my life this year.
You should listen to: "Nothing Like You" and "Living in Colour"
#8: Tokyo Police Club - Champ (US Release: June 8, 2010)
A good portion of this list is very serious music.  Kind of depressingly serious at times.  Full of heartbreaking beautiful moments.  Tokyo Police Club has its quiet, serious moments, but for the most part this album is full of pep and fun which is a refreshing injection into my personal rotation.  It is the perfect kind of catchy.
You Should Listen to: "Favourite Colour" and "Bambi"

#7: Mumford and Sons - Sigh No More (US Release: Feb 16, 2010)
I am and always will be a sucker for a song with a solid climb and build.  And the lilt to his vocals doesn't hurt either.  The slight warble in "White Blank Page" paralyzes me.  But tell me now where was my fault, in loving you with my whole heart? I'm particularly in love with the balance of their soft moments with their full power crescendo.  There's a raw desperation in the emotional energy that backs every song, and it gets me every time.
You should listen to: "White Blank Page" and "Winter Winds"

#6: Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid
This album is an opus.  An odyssey, but she is so much cooler than Odysseus (sorry, Homer).  Her particular brand of aesthetic cool completely matches the suave and soulful nature of her insanely danceable songs.  Every song from the first half of the album was on repeat all summer, and fall, and probably winter, too.  Also, the video for "Cold War" kills me.
You Should listen to: "Cold War" and "Come Alive (War of the Roses)"

#5: The Morning Benders - Big Echo (US Release: Jun 28, 2010--that's my half birthday!)
It should not be at all surprising that this album made my top 5, much less the top 10.  It completely embodies summer for me, both on an auditory level and on a personal temporal level.  Their on-stage charisma is one part endearingly awkward and one part hopelessly engaging.  All I can think when I watch them is how I wish I were their friend and I could go back in time and be in their Yours Truly session of "Excuses."  And how I need to refrain from acting like a 15-year-old girl when I see them off stage.
You should listen to: "Cold War" (bizarre coincidence) and "Excuses"

#4: Cee Lo Green - The Lady Killer (US Release: Nov 9, 2010)
I love "Fuck You" - it is a beyond solid song (though awful in its radio-friendly incarnation).  But to reduce The Lady Killer to this viral gem would be a horrible disservice.  Cee Lo's true mastery comes in modernizing soul for today's pop music world.  Yes, it's all terribly catchy, and the themes of love and heartbreak aren't exactly groundbreaking.  "Old Fashioned" could easily be from another era entirely and sounds like an old classic already (slow dance, anyone?)  But what does seem fresh and new that the listener actually feels like he means what he's saying.  There is actual, dare I say, soul building the foundation to this album.  Because, as the man says, "true love doesn't go out of style."
You should listen to: "Bright Lights Bigger City" and "It's Ok" (alright, and "Fuck You")

#3: LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening (US Release: May 18, 2010)
James Murphy, I Love You (and you're never bringing me down).  When "Drunk Girls" and that non-LCD-made video came out, I hated it.  I was nervously disappointed.  Now months later, as I listen to the lyrics of "Drunk Girls," it's kind of a masterpiece.  It's funny and witty and catchy in a way that you can't quite understand completely.  How could I ever doubt LCD Soundsystem??  I've had a different favorite song for every month that this album came out.  It's almost too easy to get lost in "All I Want" or flip flop between relating to either of the anthemic cries of "I Can Change" (I can change vs Never change). I do solemnly swear to never doubt the talent and awesomeness of one Mr. James Murphy ever again.
You should listen to: "I Can Change" and "Home"

#2: Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
The fight between #1 and #2 on this list has been a debate that I've been having with myself ever since The Suburbs came out.  As far as I'm concerned at this point, Win Butler & co. can do no wrong.  In fact, they are getting better as time goes on, which is a rare feat for bands these days, and especially rarer when you have what many consider to be an absurdly large orch-pop band.  The magic of Arcade Fire for me has always been their larger than life stage presence, which actually has nothing to do with the sheer volume of people on stage and more to do with their insane energy and quirky intensity.  I will maintain that I had a 100+ degree day-induced religious experience at Lollapalooza when I saw them in 2005.  But that has nothing to do with this album.  What is strikingly different about The Suburbs, on a completely personal level, is that I fell in love with this album the moment I heard it.  I didn't need to see it performed live, because it had a life and soul of its own right from the start.  As a fellow former-suburban-youth, I felt an instant relate-ability to the narrative of the album.  And while a band can really only ever have one "Wake Up", Sprawl II is pretty amazing in its own right.
You should listen to: "Half Light II (No Celebration)" and "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)"

#1: The National - High Violet
Matt Berninger does not sound like the happiest musician in the world.  But he really should be, because this year has been killer for The National.  I was fortunate enough to see their show at BAM, captured on film by DA Pennebaker.  Every moment of every song that comes out of them is simultaneously beautiful and crushing.  Maybe their lyrics make you feel like someone is speaking to you in riddles.  Maybe you don't enjoy the guest vocals of the likes of Sufjan Stevens and Richard Reed Perry.  Well, maybe you're just not a person, ok?  Even if The National is never going to win an award for the most cheerful band, they're still winning my #1 because when push came to shove this year, this was the album I wanted to be listening to.  As I walked through the streets and squeezed into the subway like a sardine, the magic of High Violet transported me away from the hum drum and reminded me that I was a thinking, feeling person.  When it was put up on the NY Times as a preview, I didn't close my browser for over a week.  I listened to it non-stop, and have only really stopped listening to it in order to feel like I've given other albums a fair shake this year.
You should listen to: "Conversation 16" and "Bloodbuzz Ohio" (I almost refused to choose favorites for this album because it just feels wrong.  You should, in fact, listen to the whole thing)

And in case you're asking what albums were narrowly squeezed out of this list, I will say to you: the list is so long.  But I'd like to profess that I do have a love of:
* The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever
* Belle and Sebastian - Write About Love
* The Black Keys - Brothers
* The Walkmen - Lisbon  
and, Sleigh Bells, Spoon, and the wonders that are She & Him (Zooey!) and Jenny and Johnny (Jenny Lewis!).  I'm also incredibly excited for the Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr LP to come out next year because their EP has won over my heart.  And ok fine, the Kanye West album is growing on me as the weeks go on (and I may have had "Lost in the World" stuck in my head all day today).  Maybe if it had come out earlier in the year, this list would be different.  But, it would never be #1.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Festival of Gifts, Night 8 (the last one!)

Here we are at the end of Chanukah! Just in time, I found this card today which I wish that I had found earlier because I definitely would have sent them out.  Not only is it super adorable, but it's a "gift that gives back" (I'm not really a fan of that phrase, actually, but I can't think of a way to say it better...).

This card are more are available at Goods 4 Good which is both humanitarian and sustainable in its conception, which I think is pretty awesome.

I hope you've all had a wonderful Chanukah, or at least a good week if the miracle of light/oil isn't really your thing.  I'm agonizing over working on my year-end lists and prepping a bunch of playlists, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Festival of Gifts, Night 7

In roughly 10 days, some friends and I are throwing a little holiday party which we are quite excited for.  In anticipation of this event, I've been trolling the internet to find some inspiration for those things that will turn it from average to awesome.
I think I've hit the nail on the head:

I can even make them look a little more like santas or elves I think!

Or, maybe we should just hang this up next to some mistletoe to really set the mood:

 calendar via Fred Flare

Monday, December 6, 2010

Festival of Gifts, Night 6

I was having a pretty Scrooge-y sort of day, and then PMA posted the new Noah and the Whale song "L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N."  It's bright and sunny and is bringing me out of my winter doldrums. Also, I may have already bought tickets to see them in March 2011.  Scarily, just over 3 months from now.

Noah And The Whale - L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N by ListenBeforeYouBuy

Speaking of songs that unnecessarily spell out words, this video is still amazing 3 years later:

Hope you're having a cheerful Monday!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Festival of Gifts, Night 5

After spending most of the weekend on the go, today was a nice change of pace.  I slept in, worked on some gift-related projects, and spent the afternoon in the kitchen.  I came in from the cold and listened to a Sam Cooke Pandora station and made beef stew over egg fettucine:

Interesting fact: this Pandora station has played a rather disproportionate number of songs from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. 

I decided to not attempt to top my own Chanukah sweater from a few years ago, and instead I made my very own cheesy polar bear sweater at the party last night.  Everyone's were really great, but I'm waiting for them to post them online.  Until then, here's my little camera phone snap (btw, I was incredibly warm because I put this on over another sweater I was already wearing):
It's hard to tell, but the gold ball at the top is a "disco ball" and it has little rhinestone rays coming out of it.  He's a disco polar bear...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Festival of Gifts, Night 4

Happy 4th Night of Chanukah!  Half way through!

I've been running around all day doing touristy things around NY with some friends who had an out-of-town guest staying with them.  In the process I went by the Columbus Circle Holiday Market and discovered that they have a pretty spectacular set of food stands (not that I ate anything - we had just come from Sarabeth's).  There is a Pies & Thighs booth across from a Fatty Crab booth (also, that splash page on their website is one of my favorite things ever).

I hope that your Chanukah includes a card or gift as wonderful as the one I received today:

Note: this is how you do polar bear merchandise right :-)

Now, I'm off to a holiday sweater decorating party!  Yay!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Festival of Gifts: Night 3

Night #3 of Chanukah is upon us, and I'd like to actually talk about (shocker!) gifts.

For once in a blue moon, Chanukah is actually sort of far enough from my birthday that I could conceivably receive a separate Chanukah present from my birthday present (but I'm not holding my breath).  Something that is certain to not change this year, though, is my love of polar bears.  It seems my favorite (though highly aggressive) (and really really endangered) animal has become pretty trendy lately.  I don't know how I feel about this.  On the one hand, I want all of these things.  On the other hand, it fills me with that defensive "but I've always liked ____" feeling that always comes up when your favorite ___ goes mainstream.

Case in point: Urban Outfitters currently sells two polar bear sweaters:

There's also some killer polar bear wallpaper in (of course) a young girl's bedroom:

But really, as any real polar bear enthusiast would tell you, the best way to love a polar bear (aside from raising one from infancy and being able to hug it), is to shoot some of your holiday fund over towards rescuing them from those depressing commercials where a polar bear is standing on a melting icecap.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Festival of Gifts, Night 2

Here we are, Chanukah night #2.  The first night of Chanukah ended up being not-so-great, as I found myself battling a minor round of food poisoning at around 2am.  But, I went to work and I'm feeling pretty good now.  Positivity for Chanukah!!

I feel like I'm just playing catchup on the last couple of months as I severely fell off the blog-wagon.  To touch briefly on two of the albums that dropped recently:

All Day, Girl Talk
aka, the 3rd installment in the easiest party mix ever.  I strongly feel that this album gets better as it goes on.  I'm not terribly attached to some of the earlier samples, which has a lot to do with it.  Also, I feel like "Wake Up" could have been used in a greater way.  Does it sound like I'm speaking gibberish because you haven't downloaded the album for free yet?  Well, why don't you go do that?  And, then you can also nerd-out and read the list of samples afterwards to test yourself.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West
I would like to take a brief moment of Chicago pride here, prior to talking about Kanye himself, and instead talk about how I *love* Top Chef All Stars w/ Anthony Bourdain joining the judges panel, and the Chicago season winning the quickfire??  And then how Mike Isabella got all snarky about them just making "sausage and mustard" but he made pasta.  
Ok, I'm done with that now.  Onto this epically insane Kanye album, post-TaylorSwift/Beyonce moment, and into the era when he like, makes movies and stuff*.  I do really like the album, though I've listened to it maybe 4 times now and I still feel like I don't really know any songs aside from Power and Runaway.  Maybe it will take some time to sink in, but so far I feel like it has much more of an impact as a whole album rather than carving it down into individual tracks.

*Speaking of bands making movies, Arcade Fire collaborated with Spike Jonze to make a really amazing music video.  At first seems really old school Spike Jonze with the kids riding around, but it becomes really powerful.  If you haven't watched it, you really should.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Festival of Gifts, Night 1

 the wine bottle menorah is back for year 2!

Chanukah is about a miracle of light, and of oil.  But this year it is beginning (now!) freakishly close to Thanksgiving, which turned out to be a celebration of...butter.  So much butter.  I'm amazed that none of us keeled over.  I'm avoiding potatoes for a few more days, too, post-Thanksgiving because I cooked mashed potatoes & sweet potato casserole and then took those leftovers home.  I'm a little over starched.

For the next 8 nights of Chanukah, I will have a gift for you all!  And by "gift" I mean post.  Sorry.  Unless you want to send me your home address and I'll send you a leftover pumpkin pie in a cupcake from Thanksgiving because I can't eat anymore of them.

The post I've been meaning to write for the last couple months is the following.  And, I think it means more now that some CMJ hype has died down and I've had more time to settle into this band.

Everyone talks about what a stupid name they have (it's sort of true), but I also like the silliness of it all.  I am, of course, talking about Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr.  "Vocal Chords" has been one of my #1 songs this fall.  If you're unfamiliar with it, you can grab it courtesy of Stereogum

If you're dissatisfied with this, here's what the cupcakes looked like:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sugar Assault Me Now

Happy Halloween everyone!  Here's a little mix to cover all your all Halloween-y occasions. 

Last night I went to a Halloween party dressed as Sailor Mars.  I was accompanied by a "Katy Perry on Sesame Street" and "Amber from Teen Mom."  It was a pretty strange mix and as we discovered, none of us were super recognizable.  As for today, I bought some candy after brunch (such a shame you can't trick-or-treat when you're in your 20's).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

receive all they deserve

This is my declaration of love for CMJ, my oft-desired, less-attended NY music festival of my dreams.  Every year I inch closer and closer to being the kind of hardcore CMJ attendee I want to be, but am always thwarted by things like having a job and friends and then oversleeping because of hanging out with said friends and missing the free Saturday showcase I wanted to go to. SIGH.

In any case, my big CMJ night was last Tuesday, when I had tickets to the showcase at Irving Plaza headlined by Jenny and Johnny.  But I'll get to them in a minute, because there were four bands that led off the evening, and I feel that they're all worth a mention at the very least.  So here we go.

La Sera
A sweet-sounding all-girl band, whose lead singer Katy (of the Vivian Girls) channels the hair of Jenny Lewis and the adorable factor of Zooey Deschanel.  Their sound leans more towards a dreamy/fuzzed out/reverb-filled pop act.  Their album doesn't come out until 2011, but their single Never Come Around has been floating around the internet pretty well.

Happy Birthday
A four-person band, this time with an aesthetic that remind me of some of the people I knew in high school.  Let's say if they were on Freaks & Geeks, they'd be out back chillin' with Daniel and Nick and Kim.  Their sound is considerably happier (poppier?) than I would have guessed (I know, I know, don't judge a book by its cover, blahblahblah).  Regardless, they're signed by Sub Pop which is solid and awesome, and I'd say they live up to that particular notoriety.

Times New Viking
I would like to pause here to mention talk about how I like some bands purely based on their name, whether or not I listen to their music.  I'm actually hesitant to ever listen to Casiotone for the Painfully Alone because what if I don't like it?  Then my favorite rhyming and yet emo-sounding band name will have been a let down.  But back to Times New Viking, whose allusion to a boring font is made way more awesome by inclusion of those Nordic warriors who just (unfortunately) happen to also have been by high school's mascots.  Speaking of the Midwest, these folks hail from Ohio and give that state more credibility than, well, anything else I can think of.  They're not exactly new (I mean, they're signed to Matador, which is a "real" label much like Sub Pop...), but their energy was intense and frenetic, and their pace from song to song was handled like the bus was going to blow up if it stopped for even a second.  Their drummer deserves a major round of applause.

Wild Nothing
There are always those bands that have so much freaking hype and play a million CMJ showcases and I always wonder to myself if they deserve it.  Wild Nothing was totally on that list this year (along with the likes of DOM and Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr), which meant that I was somewhat skeptical leading into their set.  As it turns out, they sing songs that sound sincere and gentle, in an 80's John Hughes sort of way.  They will steal your heart, both musically and well, aesthetically.  Funny story, though: they opened for Freelance Whales and the Morning Benders this summer at Governor's Island.  "Weren't you at that show?"  Why yes, yes I was.  But: we were in line/eating food for their whole set.  Oops?  Better late than never.

Jenny and Johnny
Ok, a million years later, here we go: the main act!   I've already discussed my love of Jenny Lewis, but any of the criticisms I had for Scissor Runner the song have since been dispelled by the rest of their album I'm Having Fun Now which is choc-full of sweet-yet-sultry Jenny Lewis vocals which mix quite nicely with her boyfriend's.  I still hear "Losing My Religion" whenever I listen to the beginning of "Animal."  On stage, she's a petite little thing that you'd never suspect would proclaim a fondness for the strip clubs of NY because "everyone needs a little smut" - but it's that LA-tinged grittiness that I love about this former Troop Beverly Hills-star-turned-frontwoman.  Their set was solid, and included an acoustic number sans their backing bandmates, but no encore.

And now I will share some crappy pictures and momentarily whine about how I need a better camera!
 Katy of La Sera (see what I mean?)
Happy Birthday
Times New Viking
Wild Nothing

Johnathan Rice
Jenny Lewis
sharing is caring
the whole band!
I have more CMJ-related commentary, but that will have to be saved for another day, clearly.  This has been a head-first leap back into how time consuming blogging can be.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

polar bear bear

So while I'm in the midst of writing up my post-CMJ thoughts, and pre-Halloween thoughts (and don't even get me started on the other things I've wanted to share), I just had to lead off the week with this gem:

The non-remixed version is on their Myspace page: I Wish I Was A Polar Bear by Ted & Francis

Ted & Francis are from Australia (win) and re-mixed my favorite Two Door Cinema Club song (win), and have this awesome song about my favorite animal that will probably cause the end of my life one day when I try to hug one.

I do like the song, but some part of me knows that if almost anyone made a song about wanting to be a polar bear and then made a youtube video of a polar bear walking around in the snow, I'd be bound to fall in love.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

nature should take its sweet time

Surprise!  I lost my voice at a housewarming party on Saturday, and here we are Thursday night and I still sound ridiculous.  In the meantime I've honed my non-verbal communication skills and consumed a gross amount of mint tea.  I've also had some time to think about how my blog has taken a slow death lately, but I want to get things going again!  I barely even know where to start...

While I've tried to lay low and save my voice, yesterday a curveball of the best sort came my way.  The odds have prevailed and yesterday afternoon I found out that I won a pair of tickets to see The Thermals play at Irving Plaza!  After a frantic series of texts to find someone that was free, Gabe and I were off to rock out (in silence, for me).  Even though the timing was somewhat ironic (laryngitis + rock concert?, the crowd had an amazing energy and it was a total blast.  A perfect little nugget to lead into CMJ next week (I only have plans to see two official shows, but we'll see what happens).

I've never been a hardcore Thermals fan - they're definitely one of those bands I always like whenever I hear them, and I have random attachments to certain songs, but do I sit around and listen to them?  Not really.  But that may change now!

Here are some awful phone pics that don't particularly represent my levels of fun:
some creepy Furbies hanging out on stage

The opener was supposed to be Cymbals Eat Guitars, who were replaced last-minute by Twin Shadow, who were definitely channeling some New Order up there.  There was a pretty heated comments section on the BrooklynVegan post about the switch.  A little crazier than the average BV snark-fest.

Monday, August 30, 2010

video wars

Last week was all about the Cee-Lo video for me.  But this week...this week it's quickly losing ground to the video that Arcade Fire has put out for "We Used to Wait" - it's engaging (literally, interactive), a cool new concept, and perfectly nostalgic just like the album itself.  If you haven't tried it out yet, go here:

I also found it really interesting to see what other towns/states have the same street address as my old house, as it tries to auto-fill the form.  The answer is: not that many!  And, most are in Illinois or Texas - how odd.

I recommend partaking in the writing/drawing section: definitely draw something, even if it's just some squiggly lines.  You'll be glad you did later.

Aw, heck, I still love the Cee-Lo video.  So f-ing (ba-dum ching?) catchy.  And, the movie mashups are great, too:

Cee-Lo's Shawshank Redemption from Dallas Observer on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

they heard me singing and they told me to stop

Sorry for my lack of blogging lately, but I'm back just in time to tell you in depth about how freaking amazing Arcade Fire, Spoon and Owen Pallett were at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.  Like, confetti-falling-from-the-sky amazing (which, it did).  Like, so amazing that David Byrne and Annie Clark (St. Vincent) were there to witness its amazingness, too.  Like, "Wake Up" still giving me chills when I see it performed live, even 5 years later.

The crowds were fairly sparse during Owen Pallett's set, but he was really great and a solid choice to open the show.  Spoon opened with Britt Daniel solo surrounded by a loop of white christmas lights.  Their whole set was pretty light on songs from Transference, but heavy on the enjoyment factor.  They had horns support, including a cameo by Owen Biddle of The Roots.

Arcade Fire brought the house down with each and every song.  The encore was incredible, including confetti during Tunnels, a drum machine failure-induced restart of Sprawl II, and closing a fantastic two-night-stand at MSG with Wake Up.  Regine was a sparkly disco ball, Will Butler was a manic whirl of plaid, and Richard Reed Parry was his usual amazing self but this time decked out in an embellished white jumpsuit.  I'm not sure I could have asked for anything else (oh, except that on Wednesday night they played Half Light II, and replaced it with Empty room on Thursday.  boo hoo.)

Stalker photo: the man in green is David Byrne, and you can see St. Vincent with her arms crossed...

Arcade Fire's set list!!!!

Will Butler on his crazy trek around the stage w/ his drum

confetti raining down

* The whole show was broadcast simultaneously on youtube.  Here is their clip of Sprawl II (the re-start only).  

Seeing Arcade Fire live, is always what makes me connect with their albums - I'm glad I was able to see them so close to the album's release.  I was already really enjoying The Suburbs, but I have a much greater love for "Sprawl II" after the show.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

books on tape

It's been a while since I've had a real themed playlist on here.  Going along with my book post from a few weeks back, here's a little literary playlist for your (music) library:

The whole playlist was conceived one morning while I listened to NPR and Ra Ra Riot's lead singer Wes Miles talked about how their song Each Year was inspired by "To Kill a Mockingbird" (and then the whole conversation got a little depressing, because the song was also written by their former drummer John Pike who died a few years back / he was the first drummer I saw them perform with / we started listening to RRR in part because my friend's brother is friends with the band...).  But then everything snowballed when within the past few weeks I have also seen the Pains of Being Pure at Heart perform, put "Let's Write a Book" on my summer playlist, and just today made "Fables" my new ringback tone.

Monday, July 19, 2010

young adult friction

Originally I was supposed to go home this past weekend to go to Pitchfork, but plans fell through, and in its place I went out to Coney Island on Saturday for the Siren Festival.  It was hot and humid out, and we tuckered ourselves out by playing games and going on rides (and you know, being outside in the crippling heat) for a few hours before the first bands we wanted to see.  Thus, we only made it through The Pains of Being Pure at Heart before escaping to find food (and air conditioning).  After fighting our way through the crowds and making it out to the street, we were defeated and wound up leaving Coney Island altogether, missing Ted Leo's and Matt & Kim's sets.  It was the best choice because one of Clare, Ana or I was definitely about to pass out from heat exhaustion.

Notes on the day:
* Spookarama is just lame, not campy or funny - just lame.  Do not waste your money.
* Bumper cars are as fun at 24 as they were when we were younger.
* the Cyclone is super bumpy and knocks you around, but is also a lot of fun.
* The Pains of Being Pure at Heart were just as fun and peppy as I expected them to be - and I really liked Peggy's look.  Also, we hate whoever managed to hit all 3 of us in the back of the head with the same frisbee.  And the double-decker guys who threw another frisbee and then really wanted it back.  I'm sorry - WHY would you throw it through the crowd if you wanted to take it home?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Your input requested!

*EDIT: I'm pretty sure the poll is messed up so I'm removing it :'(  If you have (or already had and tried to share your) opinions, post them in the comments.  And see the cheat sheet for the songs.

Hey guys, that time of summer has come up when I have to choose a new ringback tone on my phone (aka that song you hear when you call me).  For those of you that call a lot, this is kind of a big deal to get to have some input.  I always spend far too much time thinking about this, so I'm throwing it out to a vote this year.  Past songs have included: The Raconteurs - "Steady As She Goes", The Smiths "This Charming Man", and this past year it has been Phoenix - "Lasso".  The choices are limited by what Verizon actual offers as ringback tones (which is an annoyingly limited list).

Voting is open until 12:01am Eastern on the 21st, which is the day I will have to choose a new song!  Thanks in advance :-)

what song should I pick?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

cheat sheet

...and in case you need a refresher course on what all of my song options in the poll are, here they are:

a) "Ask"
If there's something you'd like to try, ask me I won't say "no" - how could I?

b) "Don't Stop Me Now"
If you wanna have a good time, just give me a call!

c) "Fables"
*the clip you'd hear is the beginning of the song with the guitars

d) "We Can Get Together"
Heaven is whenever we can get together, sit down on your floor and listen to your records

Vote! Please! Otherwise I may just go ahead and choose something awful because, hey - it's not like I ever call myself ;)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

when I came down the sun poured into me

aka, my super belated post on the Tokyo Police Club & Passion Pit show at Prospect Park

By some miracle I made it to Park Slope in time to catch the end of the Suckers' opening set, and find Tiffany in the crowd before things got too crazy.  We played a few rounds of spot the American Apparel/horrificially dressed concert-goer, which topped off during Passion Pit when we were mauled by some rather tall & tan foreign guys who can only be described as looking like a Hollister ad.  Despite some of the teen drama in the midst (shout out to the pouty 15-year-old girl with her boyfriend next to me! angst!), the bands were great.  It was my first time seeing Tokyo Police Club, and their set was a lot of fun and included some of my favorite songs of theirs, including Favourite Colour off of Champ, and the "oldies" Tessellate and Your English is Good.

I'm amazed by how Passion Pit has toured for so long supporting the same album, considering I saw them last summer opening for Phoenix (though, to their credit, this was a headlining tour).  The crowd ate it up with a spoon and went nuts to (put things lightly) when they busted out Little Secrets.

Basically, summer in NY is the greatest and I have a very deep love for outdoor shows.  I'm excited that the formerlyMcCarrenPool shows are back for another round this summer.  This weekend I will be nursing my depression over not going back to Chicago for Pitchfork, by going down to Coney for Siren Fest.  Not quite the same, but hey - it's free!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Weekend Update

Holy cow it's hot out there!  It's been blazing hot for days, including the holiday weekend.  But...that didn't stop it from being fantastically fun and awesome.  There were out-of-town guests which led us to spending a good chunk of the weekend at Rob's uncle's (unoccupied) townhouse apartment.  We had playdates in his cousin's basement playroom (she's 10, and we're just that cool that we had the best time playing with her toys), lounged around their backyard cabana (yes, you read that right), and were endlessly amused by her enormous collection of robotic/animatronic stuffed animals.  I slept in her bed because it was so freaking comfortable.  The moral of this story is that I think I want to be his cousin?

The weekend was otherwise spent out and in large groups (hello, freshmen year), avoiding creepsters*, getting full and sunburnt in the park (picnic on the 4th!) or by the pool (party on the 5th!).  I feel like I have an overwhelming number of anecdotes that made this weekend fantastic, so I'll stop myself here and just say that I hope next year's 4th is equally awesome.

* hey 40-year-old straight men, please don't come to gay bars to find girls with their guards down and then physically push my friends aside to try to dance with me and then lash out at them when try to save me. okthanks.

July 4th picnic in DUMBO, complete with a mason jar full of whiskey mint julep

Love the park, and Tiffany's patriotic ensemble

what happens when you surround Eric with dolls in his sleep and then don't move them before the housekeeper tidies up everyone's rooms: they just love his bunk so much.

this picture sums up our fireworks experience, and Robert's life

I will concede that if the fireworks aren't going to be visible 3 blocks from my apt (why oh why have they moved from the East River???), then I'm glad Luiz lives in a building with such a sweet roof view.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

round it up

A few songs from some old favorites making the rounds lately:
(aka, my google reader starred items so far this week)

Of Montreal - "Coquet Coquette"
via Pretty Much Amazing
** enjoyable and catchy, though still lacking some of the real quirky weirdness that made me love them originally.  I do like it more than Skeletal Lamping though.

Frightened Rabbit covers The Lemonheads "Confetti"

via Stereogum (via AV Club)

Chromeo - "Don't Turn the Lights On"
via Pasta Primavera
** consistently smooth and ultra cool dance music - just the right amount of funk.  It feels so right for a summer night.

The Thermals - "I Don't Believe You"
via We All Want Someone to Shout For
** oh, just another reason I have a crush on Portland, and another fun/awesome/catchy song for this summer

Tokyo Police Club - "Wait Up (Boots of Danger) (DOM Remix)"
via Brooklyn Vegan
** I was at  the Suckers/TPC/Passion Pit concert in Prospect Park last night, and it was so great (more on that to come).  This is a solid remix, but the band was solidly on.  Good stuff.  Still though, it's hard to beat the original which is just so fun.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Your Biggest Fan

Saturday night was the last time that Voxtrot will ever grace the stage as a unified band.  I'm really glad that I went to the show - they were spot on, and you could feel that everyone in the audience was having a collective moment.  They were one of the first buzz-bands I ever latched onto in my early blog-reading days, and I saw them on a hot summer day in '06 (the first summer I ever lived in NY!)  Their set included some of their best EP staples, and some songs off of their actual album.  There were dedications to individual friends and family members, fans who were with them from the start, and anyone who has ever loved Voxtrot.  I'm sad that they're breaking up, but glad to have been there for their final moments - and to have snagged such a close-up spot.

Their opening bands were alright, but clearly not even the point of being at the show.  We missed The Black, and enjoyed YellowFever (also from Austin, and featuring the female voice of any Voxtrot song with a girl in it).  Ravens and Chimes was another story, as none of us could get over the fact that for some unknown reason they sing with English accents and were clearly American.  We definitely made some enemies in our vicinity with our side comments...but really?

Here are some photos I shot, and a few of the videos I managed to take before my camera died mid-encore:

Yellow Fever