Saturday, April 28, 2007

Coachella 2007 - Empire Polo Field 2/27/07

Another year, another Coachella fest. This year was special though - the typical handful of the best young indie bands performed, but one very legendary band put their differences aside and reformed to the surprise of everyone. Here are some pics from Day 1. Besides these bands, I also saw Arctic Monkeys and Bjork, but the pictures are nothing special. I've gone ahead and posted a nice little video of each one instead, which trust me, does more justice than the pics ever could. Every band I saw was fantastic though.

Tokyo Police Club, Mojave Tent 3:30 pm

Since I had to wait in the will call line for nearly 2 1/2 hours, I missed a couple bands that I had hoped to see. I got in just as Tokyo Police Club was taking the stage though. They drew a large enthusiastic crowd and delivered admirably. Their songs are all pretty short, so it seemed like they played nearly everything off their 2 EPs. These guys are something special, and I'm sure it won't be long before they are taking over the air waves.

Of Montreal, Outdoor Theatre 4:55 pm

It is worth a double-take to realize how odd it is that it has taken 8 albums for Of Montreal to really break out. I have a soft spot in my heart for their early E6 affiliated years, but this new glam-rock phase fits Kevin Barnes pretty well. Their set consisted almost entirely of songs from their great new album Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, and even though Barnes' constant wardrobe changes did kill the momentum occasionally (or maybe it was just the heat), this was probably the most blatantly enjoyable set of the day.

Arctic Monkeys, Coachella Stage 6:25 pm

The Jesus & Mary Chain, Coachella Stage 7:40 pm

And here's the main reason I made the trek out to Coachella this year - a reunited JAMC, the progenitors of the shoegaze movement. This was their 2nd show on their reunion tour, their first performances together in over 9 years. Jim and William Reid are obviously the focal points of the band, but they were complemented nicely by ex-Lush bassist Phil King, second guitarist Mark Crozer, and the pummeling thuds of ex-Ride drummer Loz Colbert (who incidentally provided what I feel is the best percussion I've ever heard on record for 1990's Nowhere). It seemed like they hadn't missed a beat, manuevering though classics like "Some Candy Talking" and "Head On". What suprised me was that they only played a few songs from what is far and away their best album, Psychocandy. Of course, one of those songs was "Just Like Honey", and the rumors proved to be true - Scarlett Johannson joined the band on stage to sing backup vocals on the indie-rock classic. It was a great moment. They even played a NEW (!) song. The apocalypse can't be far behind.

Jarvis, Outdoor Theatre 9:40 pm

A trip to America for ex-Pulp frontman/Brit-Pop icon Jarvis Cocker doesn't happen very often anymore, so I considered this a treat. He didn't really delve into the Pulp catalog, instead playing selections from his newly released LP Jarvis. His between song banter was probably more entertaining than the music, which was typically great. The guy could seriously be a comedian, if he wasn't already one of the best pure showman rock has ever seen. Getting hundreds of people to sing along to "Running the World" was especially funny.

Sonic Youth, Outdoor Theatre 9:55 pm

All the other bands should be ashamed of themselves for letting a band, who's members are all pushing 50 years of age, put on the best show of the evening. Of course, this is the ageless Sonic Youth (or THE Sonic Youth as Thurston introduced them), probably the most consistently groundbreaking band of the last quarter century. This is the second time I've seen them in about 6 months, and they were again joined by ex-Pavement bassist Mark Ibold, and they played pretty much all the same highlights from 2006's Rather Ripped ("Incinerate", "James Runs Free", "Reena", "Pink Steam", "What a Waste" "Do you Believe in Rapture?"), but mixed it up with the old songs. This time we got such classics as "Candle", "Mote", and "100%". And the dude yelling for "Shaking Hell" all night got his wish - after an aborted finale and the crowd chants for "1 MORE SONG!", they got the permission to come back out and obliged with a ferocious version of their early 80s classic.I am still trying to wrap my head around that fact that I saw the Jesus & Mary Chain, Jarvis Cocker and Sonic Youth back-to-back-back.

Bjork, Coachella Stage 10:45 pm

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Joanna Newsom & the Ys Street Band EP

I hate stop-gap releases. The whole idea of cashing in on the success of a breakthrough record really bugs me. Of course, we all know by now that Ys was one of the best records of 2006 (technically the sixth best according to my little list), so it came as no surprise to see Joanna Newsom releasing a 3 song EP containing 1 new song and 2 re-recorded old ones. What did surprise me is how good the 2 older songs came out in their new versions. Newsom turns The Milk-Eyed Mender standout "Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie" into a beautiful male-female duet that reminded me how much I love not only that song, but that record. The other old song is "Cosmia", the show-stopping finale of Ys. What is interesting is that Newsom and her touring band have taken what is by far the shortest song on Ys (6 1/2 minutes) and stretched it out to over 13 minutes. The added instrumentation is taking Newsom into wonderfully uncharted territory that I am hoping she continues to explore. And it should go without saying that the new song "Colleen" is fantastic, a sprightly little number with Newsom doing vocal acrobatics over plucked banjo, accordion and her intricate harp line. The whole thing will only run you 4 bucks on iTunes anyway, so what's the harm? And how can you resist anything with a title as cheeky as the Ys Street Band?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Live - Deerhunter and Jena Malone & Her Bloodstains @ The Echo, Los Angeles 4/14/07

On the surface, you wouldn't think that Bradford Cox and Jena Malone (yes, that Jena Malone) would have that much in common; but both front art-rock bands, wear wigs, and come on stage sporting lovely sun dresses. But Cox is a much more ominous figure, and as the front man for Deerhunter (who straddle a thin line between noise rock, ambient and psych-pop), casts an imposing shadow that is compelling and completely appropriate for the mayhem of their shows. They've already released what will end up one of the years defining albums with Cryptograms, and they melted faces will an explosive show-opening rendition of "Lake Somerset", in which Cox abandoned all lyrics and shouted, looped and screamed a confessional for the late, great Germs founder Darby Crash. They ran through a good deal of the Cryptograms highlights, as well as a song from their fantastic new Fluorescent Grey EP. This was the most intense show I've seen in quite some time.

Jena Malone and Her Bloodstains bring the weirdness as well, with Jena moving from Chan Marshall-like croons to Janis Joplin yelps to deep, growling chants. She was clearly having a great time performing, barely able to contain her smile at any given point. As far as I know, there is no album yet, but you can listen to some songs here - trust me, it's well worth it. Chi-town powerhouse The Ponys headlined the show, but because of circumstances out of my control, I couldn't stay. What I can tell you is that their newest album (in which they've gone form the world's best Television and Voidoids impersonators to the world's best early 90s SY impersonators) is now their 3rd solid album in a row. Do yourself and favor and pay attention.


Jena Malone and Her Bloodstains

DVD Review - Danielson: A Family Movie

Daniel Smith's revolving troupe of family & friends that make up the Danielson Famile are finally brought into the spotlight in this unique music documentary. The film covers the entire Famile, from their initial inception as a thesis project for Daniel all the way until the release of last year's jaw dropping Ships LP. The film features interviews and footage with indie rock icons such as Alan Sparhawk, Daniel Johnston and (believe it or not) Steve Albini. If you are into orchestral folk superstar Sufjan Stevens you will probably enjoy this as well, as Stevens was an early fixture in the Danielson Famile and the film follows a subplot about his surprising rise to fame. This is a quality documentary no matter how you look at it, but as a deconstruction on the place of Christian music in the indie rock community, it is nearly essential.

The DVD has a whole slew of extras, including a ton more interviews with Daniel, family, friends and fans. There is even more live footage, music vidoes, ATP footage, some deleted scenes and audio commentary by director JL Aronson & Vito Aiuto.This is well worth the $15 price tag.

Movie (***) - DVD (***1/2)

Watch the trailer

Thursday, April 12, 2007

My Humps Redux

This has been floating around the interweb for a couple weeks now, so I thought everyone had seen it. But I keep talking to people about it and they don't know what I am referring to. So here it is. It's amazing when you think about it, but this actually makes me like this horrible excuse for a song.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Live - Dean & Britta @ The Getty Musuem 4/6/07

Dean Wareham is on a very short list of my absolute idols (somewhere around Thurston Moore, Ian Mackaye, Steve Albini and eYe), so it was quite the treat to see his new project take the stage at the Getty. As the frontman for Galaxie 500 and Luna, he carved himself a niche as one of the progenitors of the dream pop movement. But Luna broke up a couple years back and from the ashes has risen Dean & Britta, a collaboration between Wareham and his wife and former Luna bassist Britta Phillips. It was a very professional evening, with probably 80% of the Getty regulars not aware that they were in the presence of a legend. A few of us did though, and whenever they broke in to a Luna classic there was a small round of applause. Not surprisingly they played "Moon Palace", Wareham's personal favorite Luna song, as well as ending their encore with a beautiful rendition of "Bewitched". No G500 songs though, which broke my heart. And unfortunately no photography was allowed in the concert hall, so these pics you see are from their show in Atlanta, GA a couple weeks back. I also have included a video of Dean & Britta performing the Trogg's classic "Our Love Will Still Be There", which they also played the night I went. So even though none of these pics or videos are originals, it'll give you an good idea of how the night unfolded.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

DVD Review - Twin Peaks: The Second Season

Today is the day we have been awaiting for nearly 8 years - the ridiculously anticipated release of the second and final season of David Lynch and Mark Frost's amazing Twin Peaks series. I really thought it would never happen, but here it is in all it's glory. 22 episodes. 6 discs. Tons of interviews (not Lynch though....boooo!) and Log Lady intros! Only one piece of the Twin Peaks puzzle remains, the legendary long lost pilot - 2 hours of television many consider to be Lynch's apex.

Show (****) - DVD (***1/2)

Read my full review