Saturday, April 26, 2008

Animal Collective @ Electric Factory (Philly) - Wed Apr 23, 2008


Animal Collective has seven studio albums and one live album. That comprises quite a lot of songs. However, out of thirteen (or fifteen, depending on how you count them) songs they played to a very young crowd in their only (indoors) east coast show of their 2008, only five of them have seen the light on a CD or vinyl. The other eight are some of the songs they are rightfully creating right now for some to be part of another future masterpiece.

This show had a "special show" sign all over the place. Seriously, it was ridiculous. First, as a Collective, these Animals surprised us all by playing an edited version of the beautiful Pandar Bear's Comfy in Nautica as their second song into the set. Second, they showed all the kids in the audience why Leaf House is remembered (and will be) by many older ones as one of the best songs ever. Third, these geniuses smoothly mixed a reinterpretation of Essplode in the middle of Fireworks, giving a lot of sense to both song titles, and Fourth, and my personal favorite during the night, they finally played Grass again!

I am not a single kind of guy but after downloading one day Leaf House and Grass some three years ago I had to go out to the store to buy a couple of, nowadays, my favorite records of this decade, Sung Tongs and Feels. I've got to hear Leaf House live several times now, but it was a quite a treat to finally hear Grass as the last song in their encore. Avey was turning 29 years old that same night and instead of getting a gift from us I think he gave us one. Thanks.

Strawberry Jam came out last year, topped my two favorite AC albums, but after the last three times I have had the pleasure of seeing this band live, it is clear that the Jam is now part of an old past. All those four moments I mentioned above happened in between eight new songs, eight excellent new songs from which some will make it to thenew album, which I hope comes out sooner than expected. I can confidently say that at least on my books, and I am usually not too wrong about predictions, that album is gonna be their best one yet.

I recognized six of those eight songs and they have found their way to the internet, as a video or an MP3. Man, they are so fresh and genuine to me that whoever is still reading this really needs to spend some more time listening to them, the future: Bearhug (or Walk Around), House (or Material Things), Song For Ariel (via Funeral Pudding), Daily Routine (Via Funeral Pudding), Brother Sport and Grace.

Animal Collective is not only writing the present but making scratches of the future too. Go out and see them, go out and see one of (my) the best bands of this decade. [photos of the show]


Were you at the show? How did you like it?

Animal Collective Links: Stream Water Curses EP, Stream Strawberry Jam, Stream/Download this show (10/01/07), Stream Animal Collective in Concert (Washington D.C.), Stream Feels, MySpace, Domino Records, YouTube, Pitchfork interviews the Collective.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Destroyer @ Music Hall of Williamsburg - Tue Apr 22, 2008

Leopard Of Honor

I usually have a couple of beers when I attend a show, but last night, before Dan Bejar stepped onto the stage with his couple of usual beers, I decided I was having Johnny Walker Red Label on the rocks instead. I knew I was going to need it during Destroyer's show to celebrate Dan Bejar's grandiosity.

I missed out on Bejar for quite a long time. Bejar has from eight to ten albums now, depending on how you count them, and I only got to know the latest two only a couple of months ago. They have hit me hard. Trouble In Dreams and Destroyer's Rubies have given me some of the most exciting -musical related- moments this year, and a new favorite artist to follow.

The beginning of the show surprised me. With no talking whatsoever Dan hit the guitar notes of Blue Flower / Blue Fame, the song that made me feel I was in for quite a listening adventure when I heard Trouble for the first time. I love that song on record, but somehow it didn't feel like the best song to start the show, probably because live didn't rightfully sound as melancholic as it is meant to be. A more appropiate first song was next, Rubies. Rubies is perfect and was welcome by everybody singing its lyrics almost in unison. Originally, on record, this song lasts a bit more than 9 minutes long, but Destroyer played it all in like 6 or 7. No, they didn't skip not even one note... they just played it super fast, like there wasn't anytime to waste. It was good.

So far I was pretty much neutral with the new reinterpretations, but it was Leopard of Honor what got me into the game. If you don't love this song yet, I understand, but I would say you need to see Bejar and his band perform it... see Dan's faces doing an effortless delivery of his eccentric voice by yourself, follow the new drummer's beat, turn to the guy in the keyboards every time he comes in, and watch how Destroyer's other guitarist steals the show. It was an honor to be there.

Check out the set list:
Blue Flower/Blue Flame
Leopard Of Honor
The State
Crystal Country
Libby's First Sunrise
Dark Leaves Form A Thread
New Ways Of Living
Trembling Peacock
My Favourite Year
Foam Hands
Hey, Snow White
Modern Painters
Self-Portrait With Thing (Tonight Is Not Your Night)
Besides the seven songs Destroyer played from Trouble and the only one they played from Rubies, the band played one song (New Ways of Living) from an album called Your Blues and five (Crystal Country, Hey, Snow White, Trembling Peacock, Modern Painters and Self-Portrait With Thing (Tonight Is Not Your Night)) from another one called This Night. Particularly, those five songs were really really good, so guess what Destroyer album I'm getting next.

All my favorite songs on Trouble were played last night except Shooting Rockets. Libby's First Sunrise, Dark Leaves Form A Thread, My Favourite Year and Foam Hands are simply the best rock/pop songs I have heard this year and thanks to Destroyer's band they sounded huge with all their drums, guitars and sudden twists that make them so good.

I would have loved to hear more stuff from Rubies tho. I guess he wanted to make a statement by playing only one. Dan definitely looks like someone who doesn't really give a shot for getting famous and probably likes to get on the contrary side of whatever related to him becomes too popular. Destroyer's Rubies was broadly accepted and approved, even considered his master piece (and still is? I am not so sure), and it seems now he wants to turn the page. I hope he gets back to love that album as much as everybody did and does it these days (include me right here), because we newbies deserve some second chances to live it live too. In any case, Destroyer, thanks for the night and see you next time, if there's any. [photos of the show]


Were you at the show? How did you like it?

Destroyer Links: Stream Trouble In Dreams, Stream Destroyer's Rubies, Fluxblog was there too, at Merge Records, MySpace, Wikipedia, Destroyer's Wiki

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tapes 'N Tapes @ Music Hall of Williamsburg - Sat Apr 20, 2008

I like Tapes 'N Tapes debut album The Loon and I haven't listened carefully the new Walk It Off, but according to what I heard last night, I might experience some boring 40 minutes if I do so. Last night I had the first contender for the most disappointing show of the year. If it hadn't been because they played songs from their debut album and a couple of songs of the new one that I like, I would have fall sleep right there while standing. I don't even want to say anything else. Here are couple of bad pics too:


Were you at the show? How did you like it?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hot Chip @ Music Hall of Williamsburg / Terminal 5 - Tue Apr 08 / Sat Apr 12, 2008

A week with Hot Chip

There aren't that many bands I see live every time they come to NYC, me being busy or not. Hot Chip is one of those few bands, and with the way they are killing it these days, it seems they are gonna become much more than that... they might be my more consistently good live band ever.

I gotta say right away, that overall, the show at Terminal 5 was better than the one at Music Hall of Williamsburg. The latter was announced after the former one was sold out, and as you can imagine it sold out in minutes. After getting my T5 ticket, I bought my MHoW ticket too. MHoW was going to let me see Hot Chip up-close one more time before it is too late, even though the audience was going to be comprised of NYC area people who follow current music, bloggers or not, who are in general, pretty tough to be convinced by a band to shake it off. At T5, I imagined, I was going to be completely surrounded by truly Hot Chip fans, who were going to bring it down with the band no matter what. Of course I had to be at both shows.

In any case, Hot Chip killed it at both shows with, unfortunately, the exact same set list. Eleven songs before the encore, and four to close their spectacle, kept everybody ondulating their bodies, if not going crazy for the most danceable tracks.

Hot Chip's live shows keep having the same structure as always, but just different sets of songs. This time, the party and the dancing found their peak with Shake a Fist, Hold On, Bendable Poseable, Touch Too Much, Out at the Pictures, One Pure Thought, Ready for the Floor, Don't Dance, and a trio of old songs for which it is nearly impossible to stand still, Boy From School, Over & Over, and No Fit State. The humor, although a bit rare in their recent shows, it was present too with the fantastic Wrestlers, a song that live sounds huge with Alexis and Joe sort of rapping at each other back and forth. And last, love, lots of love... this time with the classic Crapt Kraft Dinner (I wish there were more time for some tracks like that off Coming On Strong and The Warning) and the new beautiful ballads Made in the Dark, that titles their newest and fabulous new album, and In the Privacy of Our Love.

Props to the new lights the band is using, to the new moves Owen and Alexis are making, to how confident Al is at the vocals now and at the guitar after touring with LCD Soundsystem dangerously way too much, to the new set up on stage with Felix playing the "drums" (drum machines actually) in the back, and to Joe's hilarious sort of rapping.

Damn, I think I am never going to get over this band. They make interesting music that I enjoy listening and singing along to in my house, in my car, in my parties, in the bars I go to, and live. Seriously, what else could I ask for? [photos of ths show at MHoW][photos of the show at T5][photos of the DJ Set at R Bar]


Were you at the show? How did you like it?

Hot Chip Links: Stream Made in the Dark, Stream DJ-Kicks, Stream The Warning, Stream Coming on Strong, Official Website, YouTube, MySpace, Wikipedia

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Jens Lekman @ Webster Hall - Sat Apr 05, 2008

Pocketful of Money

Last time I saw Jens, he played twice the city and got together with fans at a rooftop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to play some tunes with just his acoustic guitar in a very cold night of Fall 2007. He promised he was coming back for Spring, when the weather was warmer and he didn't need a pair of gloves to play. He kept his promise.

Jens Lekman got on stage with four girls and a DJ this time. One on violin, one on cello, a very cute drummer, the ever smiling bassist and the guy in charge of sampling live all those catchy songs I don't know and Jens uses in his own songs. The sampling at this show was particularly great because Jens was extending them every time the DJ used them, with his full band and his voice. I felt the man was making a tribute to them, and being cool at it.

Lekman asked the audience not to record the show and post it online for all the world. He wanted it to be special, he wanted to be special only for us, the ones who were there with him, and not for the rest of the world the next day. The band started saying no word and play two or three songs straight through. No time to waste. This was their last stop in this tour and even though they must have been exhausted, that feeling of closing out a great couple of months of playing all over the US for their fans, must have had some soon-to-be-missed king of feeling attached to it too. They looked like they really wanted to play... like if it was the last time. Temporarily, I guess, it was.

I lost the piece of paper where I wrote the names of the songs he played. As always he got stories for us to introduce some of them. An old one now, about his lesbian friend Nina, that nobody minds hearing it again and again, one about his old hair dresser, a new one about a fan wanting to hear the song that has a "tutu" in it (it turned out to be Black Cat) and a very new one for a very new song called New Directions... too many (new)s there! He said he wrote that song, as some others, after looking at a google map for hours trying to find his way out of the most boring place he has ever lived, Kortedala. So is that a real place? I though it was imaginary. Anyway, I hear You Can Call Me Al in it (Jens actually plays it sometimes, but without the chorus), it has a Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo vibe, one of my favorite songs by him, and yes, it rules.

Since I got Night Falls Over Kortedala, that very boring place now I would like to visit one day if the music reflects anything about it, I went back in Jens catalog and consider myself a big fan of all his stuff. He has definitely got way better after his When I Wanted to Be Your Dog, and really got it working for him since Oh You're So Silent Jens. He played only one song from his first album and many many others from his last two. Unfortunately, he didn't play Kanske Ar Jag Kar I Dig, a song I am currently digging way too much these days. Here is what I remember he played, in no particular order:
I am Leaving You Because I don't Love You
A Postcard to Nina
You Are the Light
It Was A Strange Time In My Life
Sipping on the Sweet Nectar
The Opposite of Hallelujah
Black Cab
Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo
New Directions (new!)
A Sweet Summer's Night On Hammer Hill
Maple Leaves
Pocketful of Money
A Little Lost (Original by Arthur Russell)
Your Arms Around Me
Into Eternity
Jens doesn't play with his band all the time. When he is not dancing with all of them on stage like butterflies, he plays stripped down versions of his mellow and not so mellow songs by himself. Standouts Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo and A Sweet Summer's Night On Hammer Hill are good examples of that... they get very good treatments without the extra sounds but his guitar and voice (and some "pom popom popom popom popom popom popom" from the audience), showing you Lekman at his best.

Lekman did two or three encores, or better said he tried to leave the stage two or three times but everybody kept asking him to come back and delight us even more. I doubt he does it for all his shows, but I already mentioned this one was the last one of this tour... it had to be celebrated (there was actually an after-show in Brooklyn where he sang a couple more songs), and we all joined him at it. Among some others, he played my favorite song by him, Pocketful of Money, and a beautiful cover of Arthur Russell's A Little Lost, and I got goose bumps. Jens, I am not a fan of me getting goose bumps, because surely you will make me have them again, but see you next time... for sure. [photos of the show]


Were you at the show? How did you like it?

Jens Lekman Links: At NPR, Stream Night Falls Over Kortedala, Official Website, Wikipedia, MySpace, at Secretly Canadian

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Beach House @ Bowery Ballroom - Wed Apr 02, 2008


If you know Beach House music, then you don't go to see them live expecting them to put on a mind blowing show. You should go expecting them to take your hand and make you travel with their dreamy sound, because that's what they really deliver and do not dissapoint at it.

After a painful waiting of almost an hour after the all right opening act Papercuts, once Beach House stepped into the stage, we understood why the delay. Victoria and Alex were wearing costumes for the occasion:

Ok, not quite costumes, but some elegant clothes for hanging out at the Beach House they set up on stage, with sea and swan included. They even have new lights that will help you to get into their contagious mood of lazyness and slow motion. I liked the whole thing, simple and effective.

Victoria and Alex are a productive couple of friends making beautiful music right now. Since they were left alone one day in a rehearsal with more of their friends, somewhere in Baltimore, they isolated and have been working out their characteristic sound to perfection. You can feel in the air how well they understand and complement each other now these days, even tho they barely talk. Victoria would shake her head with her hair on her face playing the piano and keyboards, while Alex would slowly and carefully extract sounds out of his guitar... no more interaction or spectacle was indeed needed. At least for me.

I have been spinning Devotion, Beach House's latest, for the last two months now and it still is one my top 5 albums of this young 2008. They seem to be having a good time with this record too because, as expected, the set list was heavy on the Devotion side, giving us only 4 out of 13 from their self titled debut album.

This time they played standing up and had a strange to their usual environment. Jason Robert Quever, singer and mastermind behind Papercuts, played drums for some of the Beach House songs during the night, and it obviously helped a lot to their performance. He must be a pretty good friend of the band, someone Beach House trusts on, because it seems Victoria and Alex don't really want to let just anyone to add that organic sound they are missing in their live shows, the organic sound the drum machines cannot achieve, but real drums can. I guess it comes along with the right person. Well, that difference was palpable when Jason played with the band, but unfortunately for them Jason won't be there for long. You know it is working... get a drummer. [photos of the show]


Were you at the show? How did you like it?

Beach House Links: Stream DevotionOfficial Website, MySpace, on, YouTube, Wiki

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Caribou @ Bowery Ballroom - Fri Mar 28, 2008

Brad Weber

I heard yesterday that Brad Weber, the drummer of Caribou's live shows, fell from a ladder and fractured his wrist. I have no idea how Dan Snaith, aka Caribou, is gonna replace him, because to me he is the best drummer I have ever seen live, displacing LCD Soundsystem's Pat Mahoney from his throne, and together with multi-instrumentalist Dan Snaith, the heart of Caribou's show. Seriously, you can't take your eyes off from Brad while he hits those drums like if it was the last time he is going to, and man, he enjoys it so much that makes you wish you were able to do it too.

Before the show started I was already thinking all the good things I was going to write about Dan Snaith's live show, since this is the second time I see him and no record on this blog was around, but then Brad took the protagonism of the show as he started playing... let's skip then the usual admiration for my fellow Math Ph.D. musician. Besides, I think most of you already know and/or have read how genius and capable of giving life to his very computarized music Dan Snaith is.

The show started right away with one of my very favorite tracks on Andorra, Sundialing. Andorra is Caribou's latest album and the one that introduced me to Dan's music, but I don't think it is his finest to date. The Milk of Human Kindness is for me his truly masterpiece, so far, and off from such a great album Caribou continued their show with Brahminy Kite, without stopping. If you happen to have The Milk with you right now, please play that song and tell me whether you know someone on earth who can reproduce those drums live. Well, Brad Weber and Dan Snaith, together, they can and they will make you feel you owe them more than the $25 you paid to be in the same room with them.

The show continued with an ok version of Melody Day, which live doesn't sound as powerful to me as it does on record, and a gift to old-school fans from the era of Manitoba, Skunks, off the album Up In Flames. They played a couple more songs of that album, Bijoux and Crayon, after the standout Yeti from The Milk, and over all did a great job taking as back and forth all along Snaith's discography. They also played After Hours and She is the One from Andorra, and for my pleasure, A Final Warning, Bees, Hello Hammerheads and Barnowl from The Milk (yes!).

Barnowl was particularly amazing. The bassist and second guitarist kicked really hard giving us lots of distortion and feedback while the awesome double drummers were taking care of the beat like no others. Dan and Brad would hit their drum sets pretty much in a complementary way... when one was hitting the other one was about to do it too. It was perfect.

My only complain would be that since the drums were up in front of the stage, as they should be for this band, the bass was making vibrate the hell out of it and the noise coming from that vibration sometimes would arruine Dan's vocals, especially during Melody Day. So ok, not everything was perfect... but almost.

I wish Caribou had played some chill tracks from Up in Flames and from Start Braking My Heart, like Dundas, Ontario and Children Well Play Together, or some hip-hop influenced tracks from The Milk, but they did not, and they probably won't. Their show's strength is precisely what they do most of the time and it will be right there in front of you... it will be two unbelievable drummers showing you how to get it done. [photos of the show]


Were you at the show? How did you like it?

Caribou Links: Stream Andorra, Official Website, MySpace, Wiki, YouTube, at Merge Records.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Holy Fuck / A Place to Bury Strangers @ Music Hall of Williamsburg - Sat Mar 22, 2008

Holy Fuck were Buried

I hate going to shows when I am sick, but you know, I had the tickets, I was taking out friends who were visiting the city, and this was the first time I was going to see Holy Fuck sort of headlining a show. I had to go. I told my friends that by the end of the night to decide what band was better live we could have just tossed a coin. It turned out that wasn't necessary either, A Place to Bury Strangers must have felt really home because they blew Holy Fuck away.

I am a fan of Holy Fuck for a longer time than of A Place to Bury Strangers, but after this show I am afraid I will be enjoying more the latter. I saw Holy Fuck for the first time opening for !!! and they almost steal the show. Since then, I saw them opening (and stealing shows) for so many bands in the city that I wondered whether they were really from Canada or not. It was about time they would headline their own show here, but they made a mistake... they played Brooklyn and their openers were one of the most loved local bands there.

A Place to Bury Strangers were brought to my attention by Pitchfork, got the album, thought it was cool, saw them once live and still thought they were cool, but the night of March 22 they were not only cool to me but a great live band. I mean, they stole Holy Fuck's show! Their self-titled debut album and their gorgeous noise and feedback doesn't sound anymore to me like an imitation of Jesus & Mary Chain or Joy Division, but like a balanced amalgamation.

Holy Fuck's encore was special. They invited A Place to Bury Strangers on stage to play their lovely Lovely Allen (that Radiohead likes btw) with all their guitars and black boxes. It ruled... Holy Fuck needs some of that.

I am running out of time and I didn't really talk about the show itself, sorry. One last thing... I never wanted to say Holy Fuck is not worth your $15 anymore in case you got that impression. No. Holy Fuck is still a powerful band live, but their albums haven't been aging too well for me and I might have seen them live way too often. And as someone who is digging new music all the time, I guess I just needed some fresh air. [photos of the show]


Were you at the show? How did you like it?

A Place to Bury Strangers Links: Official Website, MySpace, YouTube, at Daytrotter,
Holy Fuck Links: Stream Holy Fuck (LP), Official Website, MySpace, Wiki