I have three things to say...
1. On Vampire Weekend's 1/30/08 Bowery Ballroom Show...
To be honest, I didn't have high expectations for Vampire Weekend's Bowery Ballroom show. I've seen a lot of youtube videos of their live performances, and I wasn't very impressed. So, after last night's show, I'm eating my words. Yes, it is true. Vampire Weekend is good. While most of their music is very mellow and replayable, as Nitsuh Abebe of Pitchfork says, they put on a high-energy show. I had the most fun watching Chris Tomson, the drummer, who enjoys bobbing his head to the beat so much that you can't help but follow suit. Most importantly, Vampire Weekend's music is fun. I don't care what you haters say (and I will get to that later). How can you listen to "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" and not want to move to the music? You can't. If you claim that you can, then either you do not enjoy listening to music or you are lying.
Gotta love Ezra's boat shoes + socks combination.
New song, "White Sky." Because every record release show needs a new song that is NOT on the album. From the 1/29 Bowery Ballroom Show.
2. On VW Backlash...
When a band's rise to fame is very fast, it is inevitable that there will be backlash from all sorts of people. But, I think the comments I've been reading on brooklynvegan are out of control. For one, I can't believe people are going out of their way to share their hatred for a band. I don't even bother posting about bands that I find to be unimpressive. Secondly, these attacks on VW are absurd, ranging from criticisms on their look to their musical influences. I'm sure that if Vampire Weekend dressed in typical hipster garb, these people would have less of a problem with them. Because VW chooses to stick with preppy shirts and sweaters, these people are fired up. Also, why do some people get so pissed when a band from humble beginnings hits the big time? Suddenly, they need to explain why VW is completely overrated and unoriginal. I guess in their books, no band is allowed to be remotely influenced by other musical artists. Or have success.
Let's not forget that VW is still a very young and humble band. Around the time doors opened, I saw a fabulously dressed, older woman sitting by herself. I was thinking, "Is that woman in the right place? Is she lost??" Then, I saw Chris Baio (bassist) come up to her and give her a huge hug. I'm thinking she may be his grandmother? Either way, it's endearing that VW's families are coming to their shows. I also talked to Chris Tomson afterwards to congratulate him on a great show and on their successes thus far. He was incredibly gracious and, although he was incredibly busy, he gave me a few minutes of his time. I can't help but be happy for these guys.
This NYTimes piece may make them out to be pretentious Ivy League pricks, but I don't think that is the case. These guys are Columbia alums and the one thing I know about Columbia kids... they are dorky and awkward. As a CU engineer, I definitely know that.
So, Vampire Weekend's name may be all over GQ, Vogue, and MTV (Oh, how I loathe MTV), but my opinion of VW has not changed much since my earlier post. Are they overrated now? Possibly, but I like their music all the same. And, no, I don't think they're like every other indie band. If they were a typical indie band, I wouldn't care for them...I don't think anyone would care for them. Their sound is unique enough for me to be hooked.
3. On Ezra Koenig's Sweater...
Now, for a lighter subject. Last night, that sweater almost started a catfight between a guy and a girl. This guy somehow managed to obtain the sweater and planned on wearing it after throwing it into a washing machine. This girl, claiming to be with management, walks up to him and yanks it out of his hands. Seeing as she went to the back of the coat check line immediately afterwards, I think it's safe to say that she was not with management. The guy was pretty pissed and debated getting the sweater back.
Check out Vampire Weekend's self-titled debut album!
A-Punk - Vampire Weekend
M79 - Vampire Weekend
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa - Vampire Weekend
January 31, 2008
January 27, 2008
I normally don't like bubbly music, but I've been finding myself humming along with Jack Peñate. While Peñate's rockabilly songs reach my pop music limitation, his upbeat music is rather infectious. After seeing him play Mercury Lounge last week for the US release of his album Matinee, I think it's easy to see that his personality perfectly matches his music. He said it himself: "I'm like a 12-year-old." Well, he definitely has the excitability of a young boy, even at the age of 23. I've never seen anyone jump around so much while playing the guitar! I have to admit, his jumping was a little dangerous. I was in the front and Peñate almost hit me with his guitar, NO JOKE. But for a solo act (backed by a drummer and a bassist), Peñate does his best to entertain with a little bit of craziness.
Signed onto XL Recordings (Thom Yorke, MIA, Vampire Weekend), Peñate is already well-known in the UK indie scene. Wikipedia has informed me that Peñate has been topping the indie charts overseas. Unsurprisingly, the show was filled with music execs, bloggers, and many devoted British fans. Apparently, his shows in the UK are quite pricey, nothing compared to the $10 that I paid to see him. After the show, he spent a lot of time talking to everyone who approached him.
The accent is pretty charming, but will Jack Peñate be the next hot UK import?
Got My Favourite - Jack Peñate
Have I Been A Fool? - Jack Peñate
Learning Lines - Jack Peñate
January 21, 2008
***EDIT*** As of February 20, 2008, Die Romantik is no more. I truly feel heartbroken.
When I went to the Apes & Androids show at Mercury Lounge this past Saturday, I had no idea I would discover Die Romantik (literally pronounced "Die Romantic"), my new favorite discovery. During a time when experimental bands such as Battles and Animal Collective are reappearing on many "Top Albums of 2007" lists, I think that we under-appreciate music that is simply meant to be beautiful. Before Die Romantik's performance, I don't remember the last time I felt so involuntarily moved by music. Whenever I stumble upon a band like DR, I am reminded that music really can serve as a powerful art form. I was lucky enough to meet the band afterwards and personally tell them how much I enjoyed their set.
A three-piece band, Die Romantik is Eric (Columbia alum, Philosophy major!), Dominic, and Olivier. The three met in France while attending high school. Eric came to New York for school, and the other two eventually followed suit. They currently reside in Brooklyn (I feel like I find myself saying this a lot). Narcissist's Waltz, their debut album, was released last year and can be purchased on iTunes, Insound, and on their website. Songwriting credits are split evenly, and I also believe that each member's vocals are featured equally, which is pretty rare. I'm kicking myself for not picking this album up at the show.
The charm of DR's music is that it is pleasing to hear and still unlike anything else that I'm listening to. While I had read on Oh My Rockness that Die Romantik's sound is similar to that of Beirut, Eric pointed out that they actually don't have any indie rock influences. DR is primarily influenced by classical music and French artists such as Jacques Brel and Serge Gainsbourg (whose daughter is Charlotte Gainsbourg). This actually surprised me because I had no idea who these French artists were and what characterizes their music. Still, I think Die Romantik appeals to anyone who appreciates captivating music.
As the comment to my previous post points out, Die Romantik's sound and performance strikingly contrasts that of Apes & Androids. Although DR may not have A&A's theatrical presence, complete with costumes, they are not any less exciting to experience. Yes, the majority of Die Romantik's music is mid-tempo and the band members aren't jumping around all over the place. The stage was lightly decorated with a simple "dr" light and each member was illuminated with three very cool incandescent lamps (captured in the photos above). But, I feel that the seemingly sparse visuals are not an accident. Die Romantik's stage presence allows for the audience to truly indulge themselves in the music they are experiencing, free of any distractions.
On top of their incredible talents, Die Romantik is unbelievably humble. After one of the songs, my best friend enthusiastically said aloud, "That was really good." Yes, she may have said it a little too loudly for the comment to remain private, and there was some giggling from the crowd. My friend may have looked a little embarrassed until Dominic sweetly answered, "Thank you."
This band is amazing. Do yourself a favor and check out their myspace for more. Perhaps Pitchfork would not have given music a 6.8 if Die Romantik had been reviewed.
Narcissist's Waltz - Die Romantik
La Belle Musique de Chambre - Die Romantik
January 20, 2008
I don't think that you know what girls from the Midwest are all about... - from "Golden Prize"
I'm not going to lie. I'm sorta obsessed with this band. Last night, New York saw the release of Blood Moon, Apes & Androids' long-awaited debut album. A&A are a 5-piece band that is led by David Tobias and Brian Jacobs (CU alum, Neuroscience major!), the duo that was formerly Call Florence Pow. By far, A&A are one of the most unique bands that I've come across in awhile. Glam rock is back, better than ever.
The true beauty of A&A is that while they definitely have glam rock influences, I don't find their music to be predictable. The first A&A song I had heard was "Golden Prize." Immediately, I was reminded of Queen and I assumed the rest of their music would follow suit with the same operatic, dramatic, very complex feel. So, I was completely taken back when I heard "Nights of the Week," one of my favorite tracks off of Blood Moon. While the sound is distinctively A&A, it's still a little hard to believe that this mid-tempo song belongs to the same band. This band is definitely not a one-trick pony.
If you have the opportunity to see A&A, don't hesitate on your decision to go. There is a reason why every review of their shows insists that they are not to be missed. A&A is definitely one of the best live shows that I've ever seen. They pack the punch of Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes X 5, for each member of the band. Before last night's record release show, I looked around on youtube for videos of their performances. By chance, I came across the video below. For a show at the Knitting Factory, A&A collab'd with NYURI, NYU's Korean drum troupe, for their performance of "Hot Kathy." I was watching the video when I realized that I recognized one of the drummers. On this small island of Manhattan, he is a bar manager at PDT. Apparently, a co-bartender (who is also former college suitemate) was the drummer for Call Florence Pow and was a part of a Korean drum troupe. So, the collaboration was not as random as I had believed it to be.
Check out A&A's myspace. There are some great songs on there that I will not be able to post. You can purchase their album on iTunes or here.
I think it's safe to say that last night's performances were epic. The opening acts, Die Romantik and Sigmund Droid were both impressive and not to be missed. I will be blogging about them in the next couple days so come back to check them out.
We Don't Understand You - Apes & Androids
Radio - Apes & Androids
Nights of the Week - Apes & Androids
Riverside - Apes & Androids
Golden Prize - Apes & Androids
January 12, 2008
I have to confess. Radiohead and The Most Serene Republic are all I have been listening to lately. But, in the last few days, MGMT has been sneaking onto my daily playlist. From Brooklyn (surprise, surprise), MGMT is two guys, backed up by a few more people to make up a 5-piece band. I saw them open for Of Montreal back in October. They were the first opening act and, to be honest, I didn't really pay attention. It may have been that there were more underagers there than I could handle, but I just decided to chill out until Of Montreal came onstage. In retrospect, what a shame.
Randomly, I came across "Time to Pretend" last month on my iTunes. And then I came across their crazy interactive video for "Electric Feel," which is a great song. How can you not move your body to this song? I have yet to download the video game, but I'll probably do that after I finish this post
Recently, they performed on David Letterman and, man, the performance is not very exciting. Somehow, I can't blame them. I feel like a lot of bands come off as all serious and unfun on TV. Then again, when I see bands go all out on TV, I think they're tools. Lose, lose. That's exactly what I thought about the Arctic Monkeys when I saw them perform on SNL back in 2006. Don't get me wrong, I listen to the Arctic Monkeys and i have both of their albums.
MGMT is co-headlining a tour with Yeasayer, and they will be playing the Bowery Ballroom on 2/13 and the Music Hall of Williamsburg on 2/14. What a great Valentine's Day present that would be.
Time to Pretend - MGMT
Electric Feel - MGMT
January 8, 2008
Sorry, it's been awhile since my last post. Since the TMSR show, I went completely MIA due to finals and winter break. Now for some much needed updating...
Because I'm really really smart, I flew back to New York on December 31. The snow in Chicago delayed me for over two hours. The entire time I was waiting, I was worried that I would not get back in time to see Yeasayer that night. Yeasayer was performing at a myopenbar.com party in Williamsburg. So, I trekked my way to Shangri-la, which does not really look like a venue. The entrance is unmarked, and the door is actually at the back of the building. I think the place used to be an industrial factory of some sort. Although I was a bit worried by the venue, Yeasayer did indeed show up and I was not disappointed. The two guitarists have long hair and look like hippies. The lead singer was dressed like a prep in his corduroy blazer. I was skeptical, but the lead singer was amazing. He was dancing, stumbling around all over the stage. Was the "dancing" planned? No idea, but it was fun to watch. Coincidentally, Yeasayer is the perfect band for a New Year's Eve party. From the song "2080," the band sings, "It's a new year, I'm glad to be here, It's a fresh spring so let's sing."
I blogged about Yeasayer back in November. Since I first found about them, I've been dying to go to a show. There was a show in December at Mercury Lounge, but it sold out before I could buy tickets. So, yes, I was the girl in the front who went crazy over the music.
...Or maybe it was the free beer and vodka. I'm pretty sure I spilled beer all over my camera when I took the pictures above.
Enjoy the songs. Check out the old post for more. "Wait for the Summer" is perfect for an unseasonably warm day like today in New York. Also, you can check out their Daytrotter session here. Pitchfork also recently interviewed Anand Wilder, who wrote "Forgiveness."
Yeasayer has another two New York shows in February, and they will be supported by MGMT!
Wait for the Summer - Yeasayer
Forgiveness - Yeasayer
Sunrise - Yeasayer