Passion Pit will never play a venue this small ever again
Aaaaand, I'm back on the Passion Pit wagon. If you follow Look at me, I made a blog or I force you to listen to me talk about music, you may have noticed that I don't mention Passion Pit anymore. I started listening to them last July and audaciously declared them as "the next big thing" after seeing them at the first show of their Pianos residency. I went on to see them two more times last fall, including at the BrooklynVegan CMJ showcase and a packed, sold-out show at Glasslands Gallery. And, sometime after that, I started to lose interest. Their names and faces seemed to be everywhere, destined to meet a Vampire Weekend-like fate of irritating stardom, all without having released a proper debut album.
When this much hype surrounds a band that I like, I try to be cautiously optimistic about their forthcoming album. After hearing "The Reeling," the first single off Manners, I honestly wasn't that impressed. Sure, it's catchy and children's choirs seem to be the fad of the year (i.e. Grizzly Bear, Peter Bjorn & John), but it seemed almost overproduced and dragging in length towards the end. I still listened to it a lot, but it didn't have the viral charm of the Chunk of Change EP. Hearing "Little Secrets" over the weekend chased away my reservations about the new album, and now I can't wait to hear more of Manners. I can't really explain it, but the intro to "Little Secrets" is the most addicting 24 seconds I have heard in a very long time. Who knew that some simple synth lines with cowbell could be so dangerous? Just a rough estimate, but I believe I've listened to this one song for about four hours since Saturday. Before I'm even over "Little Secrets," Passion Pit released a new song yesterday that will also see heavy rotation on my playlists. Opening with strums that are reminiscent of the Beatles' "Across the Universe," "Moth's Wings" sounds unlike any other Passion Pit song thus far, especially with Angelakos refraining from reaching his upper vocal register. "Moth's Wings" is still very much a pop song, but it hints at songwriting skills beyond fun dance hits like "Sleepyhead."
So much for managing expectations. I'm counting down to the release of Manners on May 19. Does anyone have extra tickets to any of the Bowery shows? Shouldn't have snoozed.
Little Secrets - Passion Pit
Moth's Wings - Passion Pit
April 28, 2009
April 21, 2009
via Robot Dance Music
While I was catching up on my Google Reader today, I came across an amazing track by Neon Indian via GorillavsBear. Neon Indian is a duo who is currently hiding their identities from the public. All we know is that they're making music long-distance, with the guy in Austin and girl in Brooklyn. GvB commenters are speculating that the guy is from VEGA, but who is the girl? No idea, but I can't stop listening to "Deadbeat Summer." The psychedelic, Ariel Pink/Gary War-esque intro gives way to a soft drum machine line that reminds me of Cut Copy, circa their Bright Like Neon Light days. Seemingly sprinkled on top, the male vocals perfectly complement and balance the instrumentals instead of monopolizing the listener's attention. Add a little synth line on top, and I am sold. Every note and progression seem to be so intriguingly organic, and I've found myself listening to this song on repeat. Can't wait to hear more. For now, you can listen to some other tracks here.
Deadbeat Summer - Neon Indian
Seriously, it's over - Neon Indian
People always chuckle at the name of my blog, but few actually know that both the lengthy URL and name are based on an Art Brut song called “Formed a Band.” When I first saw Art Brut at the Village Voice’s Siren Music Festival in the summer of ’06, I had to admit that I was confused. Eddie Argos more or less spoke his hilarious lines, albeit with lots of fervor and energy. Art Brut may not be a band for everyone, but I’m glad that there is another round of catchy guitar hooks and unforgettably entertaining lyrics with the latest album, Art Brut vs. Satan.
As Art Brut takes us through our more busted moments in life, I can’t help but think that Eddie Argos is once again telling a story that we all know too well. In “Alcoholics Unanimous,” Eddie wakes up with a hangover and preemptively apologizes to his friends, via the same group text, for whatever he may have done the previous night. Sound familiar? Moving on, he wisely remarks that while life may be hard, certain "Peter Pan syndrome" things will always be great, like DC comics and chocolate milkshakes. But, “Passenger,” a song about public transportation, must have been written with me in mind. Confession: I don’t have my driver’s license nor can I really drive. But, as Eddie says, "I love public transportation. Train or bus, they're both amazing." Okay, maybe not so much once I start paying $103 for a monthly MTA pass. Maybe I should invest in a folding bicycle.
Art Brut vs. Satan is currently available for purchase. Art Brut has a 5-night residency at Mercury Lounge this June, and I will be attending on Thursday night. My dream is that Eddie Argos has seen this blog and speak-sings, “Made a blog, I made a blog! Look at me, I made a blog!” I like to dream big.
DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake - Art Brut
Formed a Band - Art Brut
You either like Vampire Weekend or deplore them. Not just dislike them, but absolutely despise them. And, I can see how people can be turned off by what the band supposedly represents: money and privilege. The VW backlash is pretty complicated, but one thing is clear to me. VW has some very enjoyable pop songs, and you’re probably lying if you say that you don’t like “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” at all.
A year after VW’s debut album release show, I voluntarily trekked my way up to Morningside Heights for Columbia’s annual Bacchanal spring concert. Some of my favorite college memories (or lack thereof) are associated with the event, and my Avenue Q blues may have convinced me to take the 1 train up to 116th Street. Whatever the real reason may be, I found myself on Low Plaza on the first beautiful day of this spring. The steps of the library were already packed at 1:45 pm, over an hour before Vampire Weekend was scheduled to hit the stage. But before we knew it, the young alumns hit the stage, swigging water out of flask-like bottles.
VW opened with “White Sky,” and went on to play every song from their debut album. They’ve had a lot of time and practice to perfect the old tunes, and they’ve gotten really good at playing them. Their Paul Simon-inspired songs were most appropriate for dancing in the afternoon sun, and the band members surprisingly looked like they were having fun, even Rostam. All the guys seemed very gracious to play their alma mater again, and Ezra even gave a shout-out to Chromeo, who remixed “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance.” While I think that VW is a fun outdoor listen, they seriously need some new songs. I’ve grown tired of listening to Ezra’s singing about a robot’s escape from Cape Cod to New Jersey and spilled kefir on keffiyehs. Ezra claimed that they’re currently working on a second album, but they weren’t ready to perform anything new. No pressure, Vampire Weekend. None at all.
In the past year or so, the VW hype has exploded to such ridiculous heights that it actually blows my mind. I couldn’t avoid them in magazines, on TV, or on the Internet, but the last place I expected to see or hear anything VW-related was during The Wrestler. But, there they were, staring me in the face. A poster for Vampire Weekend’s debut album was hanging in the living room of character Randy’s daughter. Yes, I was annoyed and sick of seeing them everywhere, but I can’t say that I hate their music. And for those of you who hate them without having heard any of their songs, you should probably try to form opinions of your own. While I have no qualms with people who objectively dislike VW’s music, it’s another thing to drink the communal haterade for the sake of riding the mainstream wave.
This leads me to two questions: Are we capable of liking music objectively? That is, can human beings evaluate bands purely based on the music and nothing else? SHOULD we judge music objectively? With the Vampire Weekend phenomenon, it seems like the answer to the former is that most of us do not blindly listen to music, especially when the band’s image is absolutely unavoidable. In the case of VW, I am simultaneously proud of VW’s success and embarrassed by their pretentiousness. They may represent a certain demographic at CU, but their world is one that my small-town Midwestern roots still do not understand, even after four years at that institution. Yet, I like their music. It's not life-changing, but it's more than listenable. Maybe I’m a VW fan because I started listening to them when they were on the cusp of MTV famedom. Whether or not I should judge them or anyone other band by their personalities and circumstances, I don’t know the answer to that one. But, let's try to focus on the music and not what they're wearing. And, yes, I do realize that I like a band that’s been on the Disney Channel.
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa - Vampire Weekend
via Music for Moodies' flickr photostream
I did say that I would stop seeing Of Montreal indoors after the Roseland Ballroom show last fall. But, when I saw that they were putting a series of smaller shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg, I couldn't resist but to give them another go. I'm glad I did, because this show was closer to the first time I'd seen them (Pitchfork '07), which I still consider to be one of the most entertaining performances I've ever experienced.
Fourth time's the charm, and Of Montreal definitely got it right this time. The smaller venue made a huge difference, and it was comfortably filled to capacity. Another plus for an aging concertgoer like me, the crowd was significantly less aggressive but still danced around as one should at an Of Montreal show. This time, the show didn't feel like a bad high school production. With toned down theatrics that were more than sufficient and psychedelic visuals on three screens, Of Montreal had found a way to bombard the audience's senses without overloading them. Since the last show, Skeletal Lamping had grown on me a bit, but it will still never measure up to the tremendous Hissing Fauna. Although I will always find "Gallery Piece" to be annoying beyond belief, I did like the new song that they played on Friday night. "Like a Tourist" already makes me excited for the next crazy thing that Kevin Barnes will whip up with the next album. You can listen to the song via nyctaper here.
This guy brought his own mask. I dig that.
via Music for Moodies' flickr photostream
Ever since I saw Janelle Monae open for Jamie Lidell's Summerstage show, I've been mesmerized by her futuristic music and persona. She's got crazy dance moves, and she painted a canvas while singing a song. Random, but sort of awesome. At first, the hipsters around us were a little confused by Janelle. But, it wasn't long before everyone was dancing along. The Of Montreal crowd tends to be very open-minded when it comes to insane stage antics, so this was the perfect audience for Janelle. Years in the making, Janelle joined Of Montreal onstage during the encore for a cover of David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream."
Of Montreal continues on their U.S. tour. Catch Janelle this summer at Bonnaroo.
Requiem for O.M.M.2 - Of Montreal
First Time High (Reconstructionist Remix of "An Eluardian Instance") - Of Montreal (Jon Brion Remix)
Violet Stars Happy Hunting! - Janelle Monae
April 20, 2009
via Jonny Leather
Kurt Vile of The War on Drugs has been getting a lot of attention from me ever since I started listening to "Freeway" off Constant Hitmaker. While I listen to Constant Hitmaker during the day, Vile's latest LP has been the last thing that I put on before going to bed. I almost didn't end up with a copy of God is Saying This To You... due to a mishap at Insound where they accepted more pre-orders than there were physical records. Tsk, someone needs to brush up on supply chain management. Luckily, I cancelled my order and picked up a copy at Other Music before it sold out. Currently, my favorite listen off the LP is "Song for John in D." With its pensive, yet soothing picking melodies and dabbles of electric instruments, it's a song that could haunt dreams. And, considering that it's one of the last things that I listen to at night, it's quite possible that it's already lurking around in mine. Enjoy.
Song for John in D - Kurt Vile
Freeway - Kurt Vile
April 14, 2009
Etienne totally pulls off the white Wayfarers
Escapism is the continuing theme here at Look at me, I made a blog, as I daydream of a different life, preferably one that includes a tropical vacation and an apartment with built-in closets. Another week has gone by, along with multiple failed attempts to find a new place to call home. As bummed as I may sound, I realized that I was making things worse by not making the time to see some bands. Maybe live music is an addiction for me, but it's one that I don't think I'll ever want to shake. So, for the sake of my well-being, I braved the LES on a Saturday night (aka Douchebag Central) to catch the beach-inspired Real Estate at Pianos with my friend Music for Moodies.
Highly recommended by Chocolate Bobka and featured by Stereogum and My Old Kentucky Blog, Real Estate has been on my list to check out. Hailing from the great New Jersey, Real Estate is a fairly new project of Martin Courtney, Alex Bleeker, Etienne Duguay (Predator Vision), and Matt Mondanile (Ducktails). According to them, they've only been playing together for about a year now, but they could have easily fooled me into thinking that they'd been a band for ages. Either I'd forgotten the potential of live performance, or the members of Real Estate are just really excellent musicians. They played a flawless set and completely blew me away. They breathed warmth and life into their lo-fi recordings, the same songs that didn't necessarily stick so much at first. Honestly, this is a band that is meant to be enjoyed live. While I felt myself getting lost in Real Estate's soothing vocals and infectious guitar riffs, I could almost smell the ocean and feel the cool salt-scented breeze. Like the line in "Beach Comber," vacation's all I want, but the sounds of Real Estate will do for now. Trust me, their transportive music makes up for their unGoogleable band name.
Real Estate plays Cake Shop this Friday and The Shank on Saturday. Be sure to grab their 7" which also comes with an endearingly homemade CD-R. You can order it here or pick it up at one of their shows. Can't wait for the full-length.
Beach Comber - Real Estate | Alternative Link
Old Folks - Real Estate | Alternative Link
April 4, 2009
via The Poverty Jet Set
Things have been a little quiet here at Look at me, I made a blog but for a good (non-musical) reason. My life has been consumed by a search for a new place to live. Time that I would normally commit to listening to music, seeing bands, or blogging about ear candy is now being devoted to obsessively refreshing Craigslist, stalking building owners, and hopping on the train to see amazing units that are only available for viewing during the week from 9-5 PM (WTF??). And, this may come as a shock to you, but I have yet to purchase an appropriate MP3 player. After my iPod broke down two years ago, I've been using this cute but near useless iPod shuffle, endearingly labeled, "come on feel the illinoise."
Yes, it's been stressful, but the little things, like this song, are getting me through it. I've been listening to a lot of Kurt Vile lately, and I read somewhere that he also plays in a Philadelphia-based band called The War on Drugs. A quick iTunes search later, I found myself listening to "Taking the Farm." It's amazing to me that this song had just been sitting in my library, and it's clear that I need something to help me discover the music I already have. But the tune couldn't have resurfaced at a better time, a perfect song for a spring or summer day. From the psychedelic effects to the clever, catchy lyrics, "Taking the Farm" is a song that invokes dreams of warm weather, carefree days of lying out in the sun. This reminds me of a couple sentences in the Fleet Foxes LP liner notes that read, "Music activates a certain mental freedom in a way that nothing else can, and that is so empowering. You can call it escapism if you like, but I see it as connecting to a deeper human feeling than found in the day-to-day world." So screw reality, turn on this song, and dream away as you please. I will be dreaming of listening to The War on Drugs in my new, yet to be found apartment.
Taking the Farm - The War on Drugs | Alternative Link