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January 26, 2009

Andrew Bird - MHOW 01.26.09

Absolutely stunning. Andrew Bird is a true virtuoso. Not only is he a phenomenal violinist, in both the classical and experimental senses, he's also made whistling into an art form. Seriously, I feel like he could win some prestigious whistling competitions, if they exist.

Even before the show tonight, I had a little music-crush on Andrew Bird. I've unavoidably picked up some bio facts on him since his name is everywhere. We're both from Illinois, an awesome state in the Midwest (No Blago puns, please). We both started training in the Suzuki method when we were four, respectively, and both on stringed instruments (Piano for me). But, that's where the similarities end. Andrew Bird is a remarkable composer and musician, and I never made it that far on classical piano. Andrew is so talented that it's almost unfair. It's unfair that one man can play something in such a way that I'm left completely defenseless against my own emotions. But, I guess that's what we call music-love. As always, I am a sucker for beautiful string arrangements.

I didn’t really know what to expect from Andrew Bird’s live act, but M. assured me that it would be amazing. While I wasn’t sure how it would all come together, I knew there would be whistling and strings, both signatures of Andrew Bird. What I wasn’t prepared for was the insanely beautiful moments that Bird created with only his violin and loop pedals. They were the seconds that reaffirmed my belief that music has the power to change one’s outlook on life. During the instrumental break in “Masterswarm,” one of my favorite songs off Noble Beast, I couldn’t help but smile. Combining impressionist music elements with equally impressionistic lyrics, Andrew Bird has concocted songs that appeal to the geekiest of music geeks, the kind that have Maurice Ravel and C.T. Griffes along with Radiohead in their music collection. I wish he would do a small secret show where he performs without his backing band.

After an incredible night of music, I returned home to see that Beirut played a last-minute show at Coco66. I'm feeling some serious heartbreak right now, so someone please tell me that the show was as bad as comments on brooklynvegan are recounting.

At least there will be snacks. All kinds of snacks.

Andrew Bird performs on Letterman tonight. He will be performing a sold-out show at Carnegie Hall tomorrow.

Noble Beast/Useless Creatures is currently available for purchase. Amazon suggests that you buy it with the new Animal Collective and Antony & the Johnsons.

The thing in the background is a spinning double horn.

Masterswarm - Andrew Bird | Alternative Link

Andrew Bird


January 22, 2009

Animal Collective - Bowery Ballroom 01.21.09

During the middle of one night in December, I woke up to the buzzing noise of my phone. My friend H. texted me to tell me that Animal Collective secretly announced a show at Bowery Ballroom and tickets had gone on sale that night. One catch: a password was required to purchase tickets. So, at 2 AM, I scoured the Internet in a fruitless search for the password that would grant me access to what may be one of Animal Collective’s last small-scale shows, coinciding with the release of their highly-anticipated new album. By the next morning, the situation had not changed. With no sight of the password anywhere, I joined the many people who were agonizing over how the hell we were going to get tickets. But, it was only a matter of time before the code was leaked, and I was on track to see the guys who hurt my ears at All Points West.

It was cold as hell last night, but a huge line of ticketless fans was not deterred from finding a way to the intimate show. I don’t know how many tickets were available at the door, but the venue was pretty packed by 9 PM. Drawlings, Avey Tare’s sister, promptly started her opening set, and I stopped paying attention a few minutes in. It would have sucked for anyone opening for AC last night. But, everything serves a purpose, and Drawlings’ role was to kill time.

After what felt like the longest day of anticipation, AC opened their set with “Almost Frightened.” While I was disappointed that AC didn’t open with “In the Flowers” like they had at Grand Ballroom, it was immediately apparent that the show would be unlike the set at All Points West, where the sound was so off-balance and loud that I couldn’t really make out anything. The sound at Bowery Ballroom was perfect, albeit I like to crank up the volume when I'm listening to Animal Collective. For the most part, the set list was very similar to the one for the previous night’s show at Grand Ballroom. As expected, “Leaf House” was an awesome live experience. The track becomes completely different with Avey Tare and Panda Bear emulating the effects and loops with their voices in real-time. Also, once again, AC performed the new song “Blue Sky,” which they debuted in London last night. Already, I can’t stop listening to this new song. Sometimes, I think it’s really unfair that Animal Collective can create music that’s so awesome that I can’t get it out of my head. Unfair to my attention span, which never had a fighting chance. You can grab the mp3 of a live version at nyctaper or gorillavsbear.

My favorite performance of the night was "Brother Sport", although David would adamantly disagree with me (See the comments section below). I like the live version significantly more than the studio one, which is already terrifyingly addicting. The building up of layers was more noticeable in person, and it made the pinnacle of the song (and its resolution) that much more satisfying. Also, I've actually missed Avey's yelping, and I'd take it over the perfectly looped yelp in the recording. There were some moments of the set that were weaker than others. I wasn’t the biggest fan of “Guys Eyes,” although I think the song really showcased Panda Bear’s talents as a vocalist. The extended “Fireworks” was too long for me, but it gave Animal Collective the opportunity to look like a rock band with Avey Tare on the guitar and Panda Bear on drums. AC closed their set with “Comfy in Nautica,” a track off Panda Bear’s solo album, Person Pitch. When the song came to an end, I was not ready to leave. Although they played for about an hour and a half, Animal Collective could have gone on for another five hours and I wouldn’t have minded in the slightest bit. In fact, some of the tracks could have been extended by another twenty minutes, and I probably wouldn’t have even noticed.

Saw Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear/Department of Eagles. Also saw members of Chairlift. Who did you spot at the show?

Beginning in March, Animal Collective will embark on a world tour. They return to New York on May 13 at Terminal 5. Tickets go on sale this Friday. If you can stand the venue, grab your tickets quickly. With all the hype surrounding Merriweather Post Pavillion, which is currently available for purchase, I expect the show to sell out within the same day.

Geologist is such a badass. He is the coolest alum in my eyes.

Setlist (via brooklynvegan)
Also Frightened
My Girls
Blue Sky (new song)
Leaf House
Summertime Clothes
Guys Eyes
Lion in a Coma
Winter's Love
Comfy in Nautica

Leaf House - Animal Collective | Alternative Link

Comfy in Nautica - Panda Bear | Alternative Link

Animal Collective


January 20, 2009

Here We Go Magic, Department of Eagles - Bowery Ballroom 01.19.09

Here We Go Magic

Department of Eagles

It's really astounding that the two bands that I saw tonight have performed only a handful of live shows together with their respective members. When Department of Eagles, a favorite of mine since I saw them at their album release show, announced another New York show, I decided to go without a second thought. Then, about two weeks ago, I found out that one of my newest obsessions, Here We Go Magic, was opening for DOE. Needless to say, I freaked out a little at my desk at work when I learned of this news.

Although Luke Temple is a regular performer and even played a solo set at Le Poisson Rouge last Friday, this Bowery Ballroom show was only the third show that Here We Go Magic had ever played together. Even if that were the case, I couldn't tell by the polish of their set. I'd been wondering how Here We Go Magic's sound would translate onto the stage, especially since there are some electronic-ish instrumental tracks on the forthcoming debut album. Basically, Here We Go Magic skipped the instrumental tracks and played songs that were more like "Fangela" and "Tunnelvision" (Listen to the songs here). I thought they would do some strange experimental stuff onstage, but they were more like a band that plays real instruments. And, they sounded absolutely amazing. With the support of a full band, the live Here We Go Magic sounded much warmer and richer. Now, when I listen to the recorded album, I feel like I'm missing quite a bit of depth. If you have a chance, GO SEE THIS BAND. And, if you're curious, they do have more songs that are not on their upcoming self-titled, and they performed them at the Bowery.

After Here We Go Magic, Department of Eagles took the stage for what was something like their fifth show ever. Daniel Rossen kicked off the set on the banjo with "Balmy Night," a song that makes me want to buy the instrument and learn to play. As Fred and the rest of the band joined Daniel, I noticed that Chris Taylor was once again missing. Someone named Matt or Max (I think) filled in on the bass. Does anyone know what his name was? I almost want to assume that he must be involved in a Grizzly Bear-related project since the last bassist, Nat Baldwin, was once a member of the Dirty Projectors. Anyway, DOE played two new songs, one of which was only two weeks old. Each piece involved the looping of Daniel's voice, and it was an experience to hear and watch him build his own harmonies. But, my favorite moment of the night was when Daniel and Fred performed a beautiful guitar-only version of "Sailing by Night" (Listen here). I have a particular weak spot for that song, and I can't help but swoon every time I hear it performed live. No JoJo's "Too Little, Too Late" or "Deep Blue Sea," which is now a Grizzly Bear song, but I was still happy to have seen this talented band again.

And, yes, Ed Droste was in the audience.

Here We Go Magic

Department of Eagles

1997 (Daytrotter Session) - Department of Eagles | Alternative Link

Department of Eagles

Ahab - Here We Go Magic | Alternative Link


January 17, 2009

Still Working on the Layout!

Sorry that things look very messy right now. I should have everything up and running by Monday. Please bear with me :). If you have any suggestions for what should go in that bottom bar, leave a comment!


School of Seven Bells, Free Blood - Le Poisson Rouge 01.16.09

School of Seven Bells
Can you tell that I finally got a new camera with a functioning LCD screen?

Finally, I got to see School of Seven Bells. After missing them open for M83, I thought I wouldn't have another upcoming opportunity to see them. Thankfully, H. asked me to go see Free Blood at Le Poisson Rouge, and School of Seven Bells was also making an appearance.

While I don't like many female vocalists, the twin singers of School of Seven Bells sound ever so haunting together. For their shoegaze-type genre of music, the light and sweet voices are a perfect complement to the dreamy instrumentals. I only wish that their vocals were turned up a bit more so that they wouldn't have been drowned out at any point. Their set at Le Poisson Rouge was uninterrupted by banter, which I preferred because any space in between the songs would have distracted from the mood that the band was creating. Normally, I am not a big fan of smoke machines, but the smoke was very appropriate for School of Seven Bells. But, at one point, there was so much smoke that I couldn't make out any of the band members. I have no idea how they were able to keep playing without being able to see.

After School of Seven Bells, Free Blood took the stage and put on a relatively tame show. The first time that I had seen Free Blood was when they opened for Hot Chip last April. John Pugh (formerly of !!!) and Madeline Davy are quirky duo, and they are not afraid to get down - literally. They will sing and dance for your entertainment, and you can't help but crack a smile at their clever lyrics. If you like !!! (chk chk chk), then this is for you.

School of Seven Bells' Alpinisms and Free Blood's The Singles are both currently available.

School of Seven Bells

Free Blood

Half Asleep - School of Seven Bells

School of Seven Bells

Grumpy - Free Blood

Free Blood


January 14, 2009

Layout Update!

I'm going to be playing around with the layout for the next few days. Things may look a little funny, but please be patient!


NewVillager - "Rich Doors"

via twosyllable records

Judging by my latest obsessions of Animal Collective and Here We Go Magic, it seems that the joy of repetition really is in me. And, NewVillager's "Rich Doors," the newest song that I've been playing for the past few days, also follows this pattern. At first, the stomping beats and claps of the intro made me think that I was listening Queen's "We Will Rock You," so I was in for a pleasant surprise when the song transformed into something completely different. It is pretty rare for me to like a song nearly instantaneously, but I was completely hooked after listening to the first thirty seconds. "Rich Doors" has an immediate pop accessibility, and it's intriguing enough to hold my attention. Although there is a lot of repetition, there are a lot of elements at work in the song. With subtlety, NewVillager introduces new layers of sound, weaving them in and out as the track progresses. I can almost picture the guys working on this song on a laptop in a vegan cafe, as they describe on their blog.

Based out of California and Brooklyn, NewVillager is Ben Bromley and Ross Simonini. According to twosyllable records, they are two friends who brought together their multi-instrumental talents. Apparently, they're also awesome at production because I really dig how "Rich Doors" comes together. For now, NewVillager only has one scheduled upcoming show in San Francisco, but I'm hoping they'll make an appearance in Brooklyn soon.

Pre-order NewVillager's Rich Doors 7" here. It will be released on January 27. Listen to "Genghis On" here, and follow them on their blog. I can't wait to hear more from this band and see how their live act works.

Thanks to My Old Kentucky Blog for introducing me to this song. Props to you if you "get" the first line of this post.

Rich Doors - NewVillage


January 11, 2009

Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele - "College Town Boy"

via Left Hip Magazine

Like Merriweather Post Pavillion, Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele's upcoming album was one that started listening to on Christmas Day. The ukulele is my instrument of the moment, so without doubt I'm won over by Dent May's charming tunes. It's almost hard to believe that this beachy, 50s-inspired album came from Mississippi, a state that rarely passes my mind. But, I can't get enough of Dent May's crooning voice, and I've been finding myself singing random lines from "College Town Boy" and "Meet Me in the Garden."

Every time I hear "College Town Boy," I can't help but laugh a little. I think everyone knows someone like the guy that Dent May sings about in "College Town Boy." You know, he's that guy who graduated and didn't really know what else to do but hang around as the glory days of college quickly fade away. When I first listened to this song over the holidays, I immediately thought of one person, and over 90% of this song fits his exact description. J. and T., this was the song that I mentioned last week.

"Meet me at 1020 for Happy Hour," he said. Okay, he hasn't said that but I wouldn't put it past him.

The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele will be released on February 3. In the meantime, check out the A Brush With Velvet EP for some great acoustic versions. Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele will be supporting for A.C. Newman, and you can catch them on March 15 at Bowery Ballroom.

College Town Boy - Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele

Meet Me in the Garden - Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele

Check out the EP acoustic version of "Meet Me in the Garden" here (via Ukulele Hunt).

Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele


January 6, 2009

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion

via Animal Collective

I feel compelled to begin this post with the following disclaimer: I am not a die-hard Animal Collective fan. By no means am I an expert since I have not listened to every AC song ever created in all of its existing forms. Under normal circumstances, I would not spend Christmas Day on Ateaseweb (David, I blame you for introducing me), scouring the boards for a decent quality leak of Merriweather Post Pavillion. I'm sharing this unnecessary information to implore you to listen to this album, even if you've never been an Animal Collective fan. I've been jokingly calling it cocaine for your ears, but somehow that convinced some of my friends to check it out.

It's true. I saw Animal Collective at All Points West last summer, and it made me want to die. The sound balance was nonexistent, and all I could hear was painful noise. But, unknowingly, my love affair with MPP had begun that day after hearing "House" (now "My Girls") and "Brothersport." I'm not really a fan of Strawberry Jam, and I still can't get myself to listen to that album. But, these other songs at APW were actually enjoyable. By the time that the studio version of "My Girls" leaked, Merriweather Post Pavillion had become my most anticipated album of 2009.

My awful travels home were quickly forgotten with the Christmas surprise of MPP, which I've been constantly playing for nearly two weeks now. I think Fluxblog's post pretty much sums up my feelings on Strawberry Jam and my reaction to this new album. Merriweather Post Pavillion is not perfect (what album is?), but it's one of the strongest overall records I've heard in awhile. It may disappoint some of you that there's nothing on this album that sounds like "Peacebone" and "Fireworks," but that is one of the reasons why I actually enjoy this album. Animal Collective really strove to find a middle ground in all the elements that essentially make up their signature sound so that the components would be allowed work together to create a pleasant sound. MPP is poppy without making you gag by being too sweet; it's chaotic without sounding excessively noisy. Most of the tracks (especially the Panda Bear ones) are very repetitive, but I do not find myself losing interest in this album. Okay, I admit that some of the mushy lyrics make me gag a little, but that may just be me. Can't blame the guys for falling in love with their wives and families.

The catchiest tune and my favorite track (until I played it out) is "My Girls," which is the ultimate sing-along song for indie kids who like to sing in rounds. When you listen to the synth intro to "Bluish," you may get confused and think you are listening to MGMT. But, like my friend David said, "Bluish" is what would be created if MGMT actually had talent. To be honest, I wish I hadn't heard "My Girls" or "Brothersport" without the context of the album in its entirety. I only have myself to blame for that, so I guess Animal Collective was right in not wanting pieces of MPP being leaked. Damn, I can only imagine losing my mind as "In the Flowers" transitions into "My Girls" or as the album closes with "Brothersport." So, although I've posted my latest favorites below, please do not play them out without listening to the entire album from start to finish. Merriweather Post Pavillion is available today on vinyl. Wait until January 20 for the full release.

I was serious about listening to the album in its entirety. Please purchase Merriweather Post Pavillion and listen from start to finish. That's how it was meant to be enjoyed, and enjoy it you will. Beware, this is some addicting stuff. MPP is a summer album that you'll be listening to all year round.

Tracks taken down per Web Sheriff's request...I'm also on MOG.

Animal Collective


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