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August 31, 2009

Holiday Shores - Cameo Gallery 08.29.09


via twosyllable records

This may come as a shock to you, but I really dislike summers. The sun, heat, humidity, high SPF sunscreen that I must reapply every 10 minutes to avoid sunburn - What is there to like? Even though I hate the season, I cannot get enough of music that captures the scent of the salt-licked water, the gentle warm breeze, and the lusciously soft sand. I am in love with the idea of summer, and Tallahassee-based Holiday Shores indulge me every single time.

While I was introduced to Holiday Shores by Chocolate Bobka months ago, I didn't give the band a serious listen until this past month, probably due to a certain obsession with the music of this man. Ever since I got a copy of Holiday Shores' Columbus'd The Whim weeks ago, it's been my album of choice to play while working or cooking. The irresistible sounds (that remind me of The Sea and Cake in a brief moment that I can't seem to locate right now) put me at ease, whether I'm de-shell/veining shrimp for this dish, or working on a project in the soul-killing PowerPoint. It's no surprise that Holiday Shores is signed onto the awesome twosyllable records, also home to Bell and past Made a Blog obsession NewVillager.

The lack of live music in my life was getting me down (yes, I actually get sad), so I figured that a trip to Chocolate Bobka presents at Cameo Gallery would be good for my heart. I suspected that Holiday Shores would be a great live show, and they didn't disappoint. They sounded great at Cameo, and I don't remember the last time I had that much fun at a show. Their songs are infectious to begin with, and Holiday Shores give their live show a huge kick by really giving it their all onstage. The band was killing it, and I'm glad that I was able to make it to the last show on their mini-tour. Requests of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" were yelled out, and Holiday Shores went right into their rendition. M. insists that all good bands cover Fleetwood Mac, and that's definitely true in this case. When Holiday Shores closed with "Edge of Our Lives," I wasn't ready to leave or stop dancing around. I hope I don't have to wait until next summer to see Holiday Shores again.

Does anyone have pictures from the show? Cameo Gallery has such low lighting that I didn't even attempt with my point-and-shoot.

Standing Room recorded the set, and I should be putting up a song on the blog sometime soon. Listen to the cover of "Dreams" into "Errand of Tongue" now on Standing Around. If you missed Holiday Shores on their recent mini-tour, be sure to watch out for their live studio session, recorded last Friday, on BreakThru Radio. Check this Twitter (which I manage) or bookmark the BTR Blog.

Edge of Our Lives - Holiday Shores

Phones Don't Feud - Holiday Shores

Buy Columbus'd The Whim here or here.

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August 17, 2009

Dungen - The Bell House 08.14.09



It's unbelievable to me that until a month ago, I hadn't listened to any Dungen beyond "Satt Att Se" from their last album, 4. Sure, Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes had the album cover of Ta Det Lugnt up as his profile picture when he was still on Twitter. But, I guess I missed all his tweets about the awesomeness that is Dungen. Thankfully, through cosmic intervention, Dungen's 4 found its way into my possession, and I decided to grab tickets to their show at The Bell House.

Mind-numbing lineups like Fleet Foxes/Dungen or the one for the Kemado/Mexican Summer Festival (though I could do without metal band Saviours) were unfortunately not in the cards for NYC, but the Dungen show at The Bell House had a power combination of its own with Brooklyn favorites Woods and Ducktails. Set times were pushed back, most likely so that Animal Collective attendees could walk a few avenues over after the show and enjoy Dungen at a discounted ticket price. Props to those who did that. I think I'm getting too old to do double features like that anymore, especially with the summer heat.

By the time Dungen hit the stage, the venue seemed comfortably packed, at least from where I was standing. Dungen treated the audience to over an hour and a half of incredible music. Maybe it's because I can't understand their Swedish lyrics, but I found myself paying more attention to the musical components and how they fit together like a puzzle to create shape and texture. In fact, Dungen's music is like a perfect banh mi sandwich. Both are made of essential ingredients, ones that are pretty good on their own. Every element is crucial to the equation. Like there are no filler parts in a banh mi sandwich, every note of a Dungen song, regardless of instrument, is deliberate and necessary. I have yet to find a perfect banh mi sandwich, one with such a construction that allows for each bite to have the ultimate balance of all parts as pictured here (Banh mi eaters, you should know what I'm talking about). But, I'm convinced that Dungen would be the auditory equivalent. Even without a violinist, Dungen played "Satt Att Se" so beautifully that I could hardly believe that I was witnessing it. The way the vocals fit in with the instrumentals, veering from minor to major keys and back to minor, it almost seemed like a musical pun. And, nothing excites me more than brilliant song compositions.

Although the guitarist was near collapse, Dungen came out for an encore. The entire band was very gracious to their audience, and frontman Gustav gave an extended shoutout to the folks at Kemado Records, Dungen's U.S. label who also produces a beautiful vinyl press of 4. Unfortunately, they didn't have any of those at the merch table.

Dungen is currently on tour in North America. Click here for dates. Be sure to pick up the tour-only limited edition 12" of the 15-minute version of "Samtidigt."


Ducktails


Jeremy of Woods


Dungen

Det Tar Tid - Dungen

Satt Att Se - Dungen


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August 6, 2009

Foreign Born - The Bell House 08.03.09



Post-All Points West Friday, I felt like all my energy and enthusiasm for live music were drained out of me. I don't know how you 3-day ticket holders did it. I missed a whole bunch of awesome weekend happenings like No Deachunter and M Ward, and I almost bailed on going to see Foreign Born at The Bell House. Thankfully, Hippies Are Dead reminded me of how much they enjoyed seeing Foreign Born at The Independent, so I got my act together and started walking to the venue.

This show was the last one of the nearly month-long North American tour of Foreign Born and The Veils. Spirits were high, and the band was downing shots at the beginning of their set. Although the audience at the Bell House was sparse after The Veils, Foreign Born seemed to enjoy themselves so much that I couldn't help but smile. I guess APW didn't squash the love of live music out of me. In an earlier post, I shared the highly repeatable "Early Warnings." Truth be told, Person to Person is full of little lines that find a way to bury themselves into your memory. The catchiness of the album became more obvious to me during the Foreign Born set, with each song having an addicting guitar riff. Some of you would disagree with me, but I really believe that the upper-range guitar lines are the isolating factor for why Foreign Born leaves an impression on listeners while sounding pleasant to the ears. Now, if we could only get them to abandon their seizure-inducing stage lights, maybe I would be able to pay more attention to what's happening onstage.

Also posted below is a saccharine summer song called "Surprise Hotel" by Fool's Gold. Fool's Gold includes two members of Foreign Born, as well as former members of We Are Scientists, The Fall, and Glasser. Micachu & The Shapes recently remixed the song, also below.


Early Warnings - Foreign Born

Surprise Hotel - Fool's Gold

Surprise Hotel (Micachu & The Shapes Remix) - Fool's Gold (via RCRD LBL)

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August 4, 2009

All Points West 2009 - Day 1


via Apostrophe Media

After last year's experience at All Points West, I was fairly certain that I would never go back. Aside from the headlining Radiohead, I had a long list of gripes with All Points West. As luck would have it, I found myself with a pass for Friday and an opportunity to see Jay-Z, who replaced Beastie Boys as the day's headliner. I made the decision to go, one I'm not sure I would have made in retrospect.


The clouds reveal what is to come

Learning from the NJ Transit debacle last year, I opted to shell out for a one-day roundtrip ferry ticket. Was it worth the hefty price tag? For one day, yes. I wouldn't pay for 3-day ferry transportation, but I would definitely recommend it for one day or even a return one-way ticket. I arrived around noon, and departed about 5-10 min later. Getting back to Manhattan from Liberty State Park wasn't too bad either. The ferry really should be a complimentary service or significantly subsidized to ~$5.


What is this? Burning Man?

The doors opened well past the designated time of noon, and I spent some time wandering around the grounds once I got in. There were more concession stands and beer gardens this year, which was good news since I would inevitably be forced to buy something to eat. To my shock, I couldn't find any of the water fountains to fill up my APW-approved Nalgene bottle. After walking around in circles with my worthless APW map, I gave up and shelled out $2 for a bottle of water. Did anyone locate the fountains??



I caught the very end of The Knux, a hip-hop duo originally from New Orleans. Next up was Seasick Steve, a one-man blues act who played a variety of different stringed instruments, including a cigar box guitar. An unbelievable guitarist, Seasick Steve sings about his real life experiences in such a rarely blunt and genuine way. For me, the most memorable song was about his abusive stepfather and how Steve had run away from home instead of shooting his assailant.




It's no secret that Fleet Foxes is much loved by Made a Blog, and this performance was unforgettable like all the rest. As the boys set up onstage, the winds started to pick up, a sign that severe weather was on its way. Like they always do, they opened with "Sun Giant" into "Sun It Rises." And, every single time without fail, they send shivers down my back. Rain started to fall during the Fleet Foxes' set, but there was something fitting about bobbing along to "Ragged Wood" in a little precipitation. Unfortunately, my tolerance for the rain did not last long. Fleet Foxes played a new song, one I didn't recognize, but it basically had all the elements that we've come to expect from Fleet Foxes like the mandolin, beautiful harmonies, and a memorable melody. I think they may have sung "wooden hand" a few times, so I'm going to assume that it's the name of the song. Correction: They were actually singing "What in hand" and the name of the song is "Bedouin Dress." Thanks, L.!

Setlist
Sun Giant/Sun It Rises
Drops in the River
English House
New Song (Possibly called "Wooden Hand?") Bedouin Dress
White Winter Hymnal
Ragged Wood
Your Protector
Mykonos
Blue Ridge Mountains



via Apostrophe Media

The National is another consistently good band that always delivers what the audience wants. They kicked off with "Start a War," one of my favorite songs and a most appropriate opener. Unfortunately, the rain became unbearable during their set. The park was getting muddy, the wind was cold, and I almost left to go home. I stuck around for half of The National's set before I sought shelter in an ATM tent.


via Apostrophe Media

I emerged from the ATM tent as Vampire Weekend hit the main stage. They started with "White Sky," a song that Ezra referred to as being "a new one." I didn't realize that a song could still be new if the band had been playing it since January 2008. However, Vampire Weekend did play a real new song in the middle of their set. I don't really remember much about it other than that it was also characteristically VW-style fun. All in all, it was like every other Vampire Weekend show I've seen. Ezra has become a more comfortable frontman over the years, albeit he has some difficulty stringing words together to form coherent sentences. Seeing as he studied English and that we share the same alma mater, I find this to be a bit embarrassing.




via Apostrophe Media

By the time the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hit the stage, the rain had subsided. People rejoiced by slipping, sliding, and dancing in the mud. I'm not the biggest fan of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but Karen O is an amazing lead singer and she knows how to command a large audience. The large inflatable eyeballs that they sent flying into the crowd reminded me of the theatrics of the Flaming Lips show at Pitchfork. I wish I hadn't seen the band on this particular day and setting, because all I could think about at this point was seeing Jay-Z so that I could go home and sit down.


via Apostrophe Media

When it was announced that Jay-Z would be replacing the Beastie Boys at APW, I almost regretted not planning to go. Well, the stars aligned and I ended up with a ticket. As much as I hated being wet and muddy and standing up for nearly 7 hours straight, Jay-Z made me forget about all these things. When his 10-minute counter went down to zero, Jay-Z emerged onstage and immediately went into a cover of Beastie Boys' "No Sleep Till Brooklyn." And then, he performed everything I wanted to hear, including some new tunes. "D.O.A." "Beware (ft. Punjabi MC)." "My President is Black (Remix)." "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)." The crowd yelled out most of the first verse of "Can I Get A..." Jay-Z seemed like a music festival pro, playing some new songs and doing medleys of his many hits, even "Numb/Encore (with Linkin Park)." Incredible.




My misery at All Points West was mostly attributed to the terrible weather and mud, but I still wouldn't choose to go to this festival on my own dime. It's absurdly expensive, and I was pretty pissed that I couldn't find the water fountain that was supposed to be closest to the main stage. Getting there and back is painful (PATH + NJ Transit), especially the return trip to NY. The ferry is awesome, but expensive. That said, if Daft Punk were to headline APW, I would be there in a second.


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