Posts Tagged ‘Pop’

New Video from Yeasayer: They’ve Done Weirder

August 17, 2010

It seems that in the several months since the release of Odd Blood [read the review here], Yeasayer have taken a half-step toward reality. That is not to say that the band's marketing and imaging isn't still very strange, but compare this video to that for "Ambling Amp" and you, as the viewer, will feel as though you are experiencing something from the realm of Earth rather than, I don't know, Middle Earth?

Regardless, it's a terrific song and certainly an entertaining video.

Official video for Yeasayer’s “Madder Red”

Official video for Yeasayer’s “Ambling Alp”


Live Review: The Morning Benders (MHoW) 4/24/10

May 3, 2010

I still don’t know the name of the openers’ opening act, but let’s just say that their “lead” woman came off as something closer to terminal cancer patient who had been granted her wish to perform at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Rubbish. This dirty hipster, as lazy as he may be, does not have enough time to waste discussing such a band. Painful. Fortunately, the two bands whose names were written on my ticket, Holiday Shores and The Morning Benders, were terrific.

After taking a stroll down Kent to try and wash the bitter taste of the opening act’s set out of my brain, I reentered after Holiday Shores had begun their set. The room was beginning to fill up, and a much-needed adrenaline boost was delivered to the audience by an (unexpectedly) excellent band. I couldn’t help but say out loud: “this is the kind of music you want to hear at a show,” even though I was at the show alone. I got a weird look from an unattractive girl. This is when sunglasses at night come in handy.

Holiday Shores
Holiday Shores

Following Holiday Shores, I grabbed a beer , okay, a couple beers, drained the lizard and heading back into the room. Doesn’t it suck when you leave for ten minutes only to find that the only place to stand is right next to the stinkin’ sound guy? Either way, anyone who has read this dirty hipster’s review of The Morning Benders’ album will know that I was highly anticipating this show. I did not leave disappointed.

The Morning Benders
The Morning Benders

The Morning Benders lived up to their title as the headliner and put on a truly remarkable show. They were charming, engaging and, perhaps most importantly, tight as all hell. They executed every note to utter perfection. Julian, the lead guitarist, manned his instrument with a noteworthy adeptness, striking notes with both a machine-like precision and a genuine passion. But the show really rotated around Christopher Chu. Chu is a singer’s singer, ya dig? He delivers his lines with a contagious youthful sincerity. And, despite the fact that he resembles the sort of fresh-faced dweeb I’d push down the stairs in middle school/a prostitute in Apocalypse Now, he bears a commanding and professional presence on-stage. Heartfelt, melancholic songs of love, upbeat dance songs, brilliant musicianship and an undeniable band chemistry made for a truly outstanding performance. This dirty hipster highly, highly recommends seeing this band from Berkeley as soon as the opportunity presents itself. There are, allegedly, still tickets remaining for their July 28 show at Summerstage with the Black Keys. Skip Union Pool for a night and put that PBR money towards a ticket to see The Morning Benders. -DFH

Album Review: MGMT’s “Congratulations”

April 20, 2010

Now this album is a very pleasant surprise. A pleasant surprise, indeed! I thought Oracular Spectacular was okay. Songs like “Electric Feel” and “Time to Pretend” (my personal album favorite) certainly made MGMT not only a recognizable brand, but offered a defined and recognizable sound. But, despite a few indelible singles, something was always really fucking irritating about the band and the album. I don’t know about you, reader, but this dirty fucking hipster always found something terribly inorganic about OS. So, as a result, I never bought the record, never attended an MGMT show (which I had heard were awful, anyway) and never gave a thought to keeping up with their goings on. Fortunately for the band, they might have achieved the ultimate conversion: this stubborn, music-righteous dirty hipster just might be a fan now. Boy, I hope Titus Andronicus is reading this right now.

<i>Congratulations</i> from MGMT

'Congratulations' from MGMT

Congratulations starts out with a song, “It’s Working,” that had me hitting ‘pause’ and calling my friend to rave about how impressed I was; and to ask if what I was listening to was really MGMT. It certainly wasn’t the MGMT I remember hearing buzz by in every third car going down Metropolitan in the fall of 2007. It is rather off that a band who had built up so much support with their debut release decided to completely, and I mean completely, redefine their sound. And it is rather astounding that they were able to do so with such deft facility. It’s a whole new sound MGMT have cultivated, and it’s far superior to the old sound.

Stereogum cited a slew of influences that were apparent in the record, from David Bowie to The Beatles, The Kinks to Pink Floyd (and, to be honest, none of these comparisons are all that off-base, especially The Kinks comparison). Positing the band in such rarified air one would thing that Stereogum were sold hook, line and sinker on Congratulations, but, for some reason, they maintain that the jury is still out on the album’s merits. Well, this dirty hipster knows good music when he hears it and he’s not afraid to jump the fence and take a stand. This is a great, great album.

MGMT’s “Flash Delirium”

I suppose I’ve been getting a series of good recommendations because it’s been a while since I didn’t rave about a release. (She & Him didn’t release anything, I just happened to find and immediately hate them.) I’m going to leave lengthy description and summary aside on this one – as I suppose I seem to do anyway. Go into this one fresh. This is a different band. It’s corny, but I have to say, Congratulations deserves one gigantic cheer of “congratulations!” It’s musical, it’s brave and creative, and catchy as all hell. Certainly a lot of serious borrowing here, but that’s for another post. (And, it’s also not necessarily a bad thing. Zeppelin ! was, after all, more or less a series of borrowed blues progressions and lyrics.)

There will be another article on this album soon. There is something iconically Hipster about it and I’m looking forward to getting a little theoretical and writing a proper essay. Stay tuned, reader. In the meantime, either get on MGMT’s website to stream the album, or hop on iTunes and pay for a copy. -DFH

Concert Review: Old Wives, Hank & Cupcakes, New Madrid at Cake Shop

January 24, 2010

I got invited to Cake Shop for a concert hosted by a company called CitizenMusic Presents last night. Initially there were four bands on the bill: Hank and Cupcakes, Action Painters, New Madrid and Old Wives. According to Facebook messages Action Painters pulled out the show several days beforehand – maybe they broke up, again? Would love to find out the story there, that band is (was?!) really good. Either way, anyone who reads this blog knows I have a deep affection for Hank and Cupcakes. (In fact, they were the first review ever posted on here.) I had never heard of Old Wives and was pretty unfamiliar with New Madrid, but their MySpaces sounded good, so I was pretty excited for the show.

As is rather typical, there was some early show at Cake Shop, some metal crap with a slew of black-clad creeps slithering out around 9 o’clock, when the Old Wives were supposed to begin. The CitizenMusic Presents show didn’t start until well after 10. Ordinarily I’d be pretty pissed off about that, but I was in an unconventionally good mood and just started drinking alone. There were some good-looking chicks there and everyone was having a good time, so a late start wasn’t so bad.

By the time the first band took the stage the room was packed from the front of the stage to the back door.

Old Wives
Photo courtesy of Deneka Peniston

Old Wives, a five-piece rock band from somewhere in New Jersey, began the show with a straight ahead, no bullshit blues jam. It was a nice way to start a set as it not only set the tone for the rest of their tunes, but it put their excellent musicianship on full display. As the band prepared to start their second song, lead singer Jason Gleason asked the crowd, “do you like to boogie?” The five Jersey kids then kicked into a seriously groovy tune reminiscent of Bad Company. Bella Gleason (keyboards) accompanied the driving, danceable number with organ tones that ricocheted between a Zombies-like church sound and some whacked-out, spacey Devo-esque noodling. The eight song set was superb, really superb. I hope this Jersey quintet won’t be strangers to New York, as they are just type of Rock n Roll this City’s yearning for. The musicianship is absolutely first class, the singer, Gleason, has the ability to scream it like Paul Rogers or belt it like Bono – he’s truly a top-rate talent. The rhythm section is perfectly in synch and the songs, especially “Rip Van Winkle” a track apparently about “the desert” according to Gleason, are great. Looking forward to writing more reviews of these guys.

The room was pulsating with an unusual energy in anticipation of the second band, among my very favorite acts, Hank and Cupcakes.

Hank and Cupcakes
Photo courtesy of Denika Peniston

Since I have previously written a rather extensive review of Hank and Cupcakes show (scroll down) I’m going to keep this one brief. If you haven’t seen them, see them. This salacious, riveting duo will have you saying “White Stripes who?!” after the first several notes. The ever-charming Cupcakes was the queen of the ball on this night. Whether exchanging on-stage banter with the crowd or dancing swinging her hips and hair (behind the stage, in the pit, on chairs) during Old Wives’ and New Madrid’s set, Cupcakes proved yet again to be a uniquely engaging personality. Hank, her partner in crime, is an absolute master. With a pedal board that must require its own Ryder truck to move from point A to point B, he created his singularly symphonic melodies from outer space that provided a perfectly tripped-out platform for Cupcakes to hammer away dance beats on her kit. The band will be at Pianos on February 5, this dirty hipster will be there and he’d think you all idiots if you’re not there as well.

I was extremely intrigued to see New Madrid. I’ve heard things here and there about them, but had never seen them live nor really dug into their self-titled EP, which was released last year. The four tracks and live videos on their MySpace had me very interested to see what they’d be live. And, while the songs off the EP are catchy and interesting, and the live videos (as home-made as they appear and sound) are pretty cool, this live show is off the fucking chains.

New Madrid
Photo courtesy of Crystal E

To start with, New Madrid shut off all the lights on stage and stood prepping their fingers, finishing their beers and checking the levels on their amps as Mozart blasted through the PA. The lights shoot on just as the band come in on a brutally fast, chugging punk song I learned from their MySpace is called “Radio Tranquila.” From the outset, frontman/drummer/lead singer, Axel, was in total command of stage and crowd. It was no surprise to see him and Cupcakes chatting it up after the show, because the two are awfully similar. Not only do they both stand and play drums while singing, but they are both supremely enigmatic. Guitarist, Erik Barragan, added massive distortion to his guitar, which, in conjunction with bassist, Anthony Formichella’s flittering bass lines, provided both grit and elegance to the set.

New Madrid deliver a set full of highlights. When they decide to get loud, they get fucking loud. Axel is not only an irresistibly engaging performer, but he is a phenomenal singer. Not to mention a very good, original-sounding drummer. Truly a great talent. And the songs are really great. There were a group of very tall, hip-looking girls no more than 6″ from the stage with their hands in the hair from start to finish; a little punk dude headbanging at the stage’s edge with his shirt off; an old, bald man contorting his body in an almost disconcerting fashion; people making out left and right; an agglomeration of flashbulbs fit for a Paris Hilton appearance.

The crowd stayed, drank and cheered from start to finish. The energy was palpable, and the performances by the bands were really, really great. This dirty hipster has two new bands on his “must see” list: Old Wives and New Madrid. If last night’s concert at Cake Shop were any indication, it appears that good times and good… okay, great bands are alive and well in New York. -DFH

Album Review: Black Taxi’s “Things of That Nature”

January 5, 2010

Being afraid of cliché, this dirty hipster hesitates to call Black Taxi New York’s best kept secret, but, shit, they just might be. Though, from the recent press and the kinds of shows they’ve been headlining, it’s difficult to define them as a secret. Each time this band takes to stage they project something more professional than what can often be expected from a New York Indie band. (Anyone who’s seen Titus Andronicus will know what I mean when I infer that so many Indie bands look and play like amateurs.) There is a level of poise and confidence that is rare, but they are derived from the fact that these fellas are terrific musicians and they write killer songs. The band had previously released two EPs, “Black Taxi EP” (2007) and “Untitled” (2008) that offered small windows into their range within the Indie/Pop/Rock format. “Pretty Mama,” the third track on their first release is the sort of song that makes one a fan of a band based on one track. Luckily, the band’s latest release, “Things of That Nature,” an ambitious 13-track EP, opens the doors to a mansion of creativity and pop brilliance.

Black Taxi's Ezra Huleatt at MEANY Fest
Photo courtesy of Denika Peniston

Now, since this dirty hipster has always found album reviews that articulate the reviewer’s most minute, second-to-second thoughts track by track to be unbearably boring and unhelpful, I’ll keep this (and all reviews to follow) brief and accessible. First off, the album is great. Really, really great. Another common reviewing practice that this dirty hipster abhors is the use of comparison. That is, saying that a band like Dr. Dog reminds one of The Beatles is not interesting; nor does it seem necessary or effective. Who doesn’t sound like The Beatles? Shit, Black Taxi sounds like The Beatles. There are also elements of the dancier tracks from The Talking Heads; pop elements from The Bravery and, and, and… see what I mean? What Black Taxi’s “Things of That Nature” is all about is strong, driving beats from the rhythm section (bass – Krisana Soponpong :: drums – Jason Holmes) that you can dance to if you’re a chick or head bang to if you’re a dude. The guitar work (Bill Mayo) is absolutely superb. Superb! I say. He has excellent taste and timing. He knows when he needs to be the rhythm guitarist, he knows when he needs to shred and he knows how and when to create a lead melody. He also has a gorgeous voice (esp. “It’s a Ball” & “Can’t Bring Myself to Care”).

Now, every great rock band needs a frontman. One that, while the other members may have presence out the ass, you in the audience can’t help but fixate on this one dominant figure. Black Taxi has their Mick Jagger in the form of Ezra Huleatt. In concert he is the emcee. He’s the shirtless dude with the American flag bandana and glitter paint on his face. On the album he is provides the band’s grit, the intrigue. Huleatt displays his diverse musical ability as he can be heard either belting out earnest vocal lines, laying down a trumpet solo or pumping out melodies on the Fender Rhodes. Not to mention various percussive instruments sprinkled throughout the album.

Courtesy of Artisanal Television

Black Taxi’s “Things of That Nature” is an album for which you should really shell out the $9.99 on iTunes. I did. And I’ve certainly already gotten my $10-worth of enjoyment out of it. One thing this dirty hipster would like to stress is how good these guys are live. Theatrical, endlessly entertaining and pitch-fucking-perfect with their instruments. Get out there and see them January 28 at Bowery Ballroom, it’s one of the best shows you’ll see, well, maybe ever. Certainly would be nice to catch them at a joint like Bowery before you have to pay $50 to see them at The Garden. I’ll be there, for sure. -DFH