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September 28, 2009

Makeout Videotape - Mercury Lounge 09.27.09

Can't get enough of glorious lo-fi garage pop? Sick of all the fuzz? Regardless of what camp you're in, I strongly urge you to listen to Makeout Videotape right now. During my search for awesome new bands to cover for Standing Room/Standing Around, I saw that Makeout Videotape had been touring with Japandroids, my favorite act from Pitchfork Music Festival '09. One play of "I Guess The Lord Is In New York" on their MySpace was all it took for me to be hooked. It should be a crime to write songs that are this catchy. I've definitely caught myself singing some Makeout Videotape while walking around, and no one should be subjected to my singing.

Like Japandroids, Makeout Videotape is a two-piece hailing from Vancouver, and they're apparently signed onto the same Canadian label. According to BeatRoute Magazine, singer and guitarist Mac DeMarco recently finished high school, and I would assume that it's the same case for drummer Alex Calder. But, don't expect Makeout Videotape to sound like a typical high school garage band. If anything, Makeout Videotape only show their age through their genuinely easy-going nature, which I find to be a captivating characteristic for any band.

Most (if not all) of Makeout Videotape's infectious songs clock in under three minutes, so they got through quite a bit of material during their set, including a "cover" of Nirvana's "Come As You Are." Mac confessed that he didn't know all the words to the song, and sure enough he had to scat sing most of it. But, the crowd loved it anyway because he did a killer impression of Kurt Cobain. They promised to actually learn that one for the next time they're in NYC. Someone book this band so that they're back soon!

For now, Makeout Videotape has Heat Wave! EPs for sale on CD-R, and Mac was really nice to hook me up with one. I'm sharing some of those tracks with you, so enjoy! Live tracks from this show coming soon on Standing Room/Standing Around. Also, look out for Makeout Videotape's forthcoming 7". You'll have to go to a Makeout Videotape show yourself to find out why Japandroids called them the most eligible bachelors currently in New York City.

I Guess The Lord Is In New York - Makeout Videotape

Heat Wave - Makeout Videotape

Slush Puppy Love - Makeout Videotape


September 11, 2009

Kings of Convenience - Bowery Ballroom 09.10.09

My love of Kings of Convenience goes back to the beginning of the college, just a couple months after the release of their second album, Riot on an Empty Street. As many of you can understand, freshman year is a very tumultuous period of time, and I spent most of my first NYC winter wallowing in self-pity. Accompanying me in these sessions was Kings of Convenience, soothing me with their minimalist acoustic instruments and making me feel even lonelier with their lyrics. Yes, I was one of those E-word kids.

When Kings of Convenience announced a single U.S. show at Bowery Ballroom, there wasn't a question of whether I would go. After five long years, KOC were about to return with Declaration of Dependence, an album that's been heroically kept under wraps for the most part. Last night at Bowery Ballroom, they unveiled live performances of many of these new songs for the first time to a very respectful crowd. Seriously, the audience admiration was comparable to what I felt at shows like Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes. I appreciate the slight predictability of KOC's music, and it seems like Declaration of Dependence is a melodically sunnier continuation of where the duo left off with Riot on an Empty Street. "Mrs. Cold" is the first single off Declaration of Dependence, and it's a classic KOC song in every way. The almost cynical lyrics of unrequited love and soft guitar-picked chords and notes are undoubtedly irresistible. Kings of Convenience proved that they haven't forgotten their formula for hooking and reeling in the listener.

The night was full of surprises, starting with the fact that Kings of Convenience are not boring to watch, even with just the two of them! Their stage banter was so natural and the crowd ate it up. I could feel everyone loosening up as Erlend and Eirik poked fun at themselves, their new songs, why it's taken so long for them to put together a new album, an audience member's terrible Norwegian, and male models. Erlend even shared a little known fact that "Little Kids" was written while he was walking around the Lower East Side. I think that makes him an honorary New Yorker.

The biggest surprise came at the very end when Kings of Convenience returned to the stage for their encore. Out of nowhere Leslie Feist appeared on the balcony and started belting her part to an unplugged version of "The Build Up." I was standing right below the balcony so I couldn't make out Feist's face, but her voice was unmistakeable. If you know me personally, you're probably wondering why I'm freaking out over this guest appearance when I don't even like Leslie's solo stuff. Well, it's true that I've never quite warmed up to most of Feist's solo material, but I love her presence in BSS and on the two KOC songs from their last album. Before I could even get over the shock of seeing a denim-clad Feist on the balcony, she was onstage for "Know How," a stunning song from the last album. The contained energy and excitement of the crowd during this song was unbelievable. I could see and hear people mouthing or singing along with KOC and Leslie, and I felt like I was a part of something special. I know it sounds corny, but it was an incredible moment that I will never forget.

Power of live music, folks. It brings tears of joy to my eyes. Go see Kings of Convenience. Declaration of Dependence will be released in October.


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