Archive for December, 2009

21 December

Your Flowers Are Withering

Passion PitChristmas has come early for yours truly, as I have just recieved tickets to one of the most anticipated homecoming shows, that Boston has seen in some time… Yes, I am talking about Passion Pit. If I had to publish a year-end list and reflected on the music that best shaped my year, Passion Pit would be right near the top.

Electronic music is once again on every-one’s minds as we have moved away from the techno-era of 12 minute never-ending beats and moved back into song craftsmanship and pop-sensibilities. This is what wonder-kid Michael Angelakos has created, with an interesting story of an original mixed-tape made for his sweetie on Valentine’s Day, that quickly ushered in a major-label deal, Michael proved with his full-length release, Manners,  that his talent was no fluke. What he does best, is craft original happy pop songs and synths that will leave you humming the melodies for days. The songs are the perfect blend of bittersweet lyrics coupled with music that evokes hope and happiness.

If you happen to be in Boston on 01/06/2010, please join me and catch the show at the House of Blues on Landsdowne Street. They will not be back in the States for some time as they head to Austrailia, Japan, and Europe. If you can’t make it, at least check out the new album!

Moth’s Wings - Passion Pit

19 December

The Uprising

10/25/2009 - Oslo Norway

10/25/2009 - Oslo Norway

In 2007, I witnessed what may become the most revolutionary live show in music take the stage at Austin City Limits. The White Stripes had cancelled a week before, bringing much disappointment to many, as they were looking forward to Jack and Meg doing their schtick before a crowd of 70,000. The act that was to play before them (and now moved into their time-slot) was a band called MUSE. They had garnered a cult-like following in Europe where their live show was rumored to be something of an onslaught of the senses. They had already headlined the Glastonbury and Reading Rock Festivals and had been awarded ‘Best Live Band’ by multiple magazines and Reader’s Polls. I remember thinking to myself, “How had I missed hearing any music by this band?!?” 

When MUSE hit the stage, the impact of the sheer volume, lights, and energy hit me like a sledgehammer to the chest. I remember turning to my friend Brian who had accompanied me, and asking him if someone had spiked my drink? This was the only other plausible explanation for what had just happened to me. However, upon looking around, it appeared that everyone was in a transfixed hypnotic state, mouths open, eyes wide, in total awe of what they were seeing. As someone who has witnessed some amazing shows and probably logs more concert time per year than industry folk, I believe that MUSE might be the best live show I have ever seen. I do not say this lightly. 

Needless to say MUSE has just released new US tour dates including 03/06/2010 at the yet again, newly re-named ‘TD Garden’ in Boston. You can be sure I will be front row center for this band. I have it on good source that they will be headlining the Coachella Festival this April,  but this is yet unconfirmed by promoters or the band. 

So if looking for a good Christmas present, to give others (or yourself!!!) check the concert dates here: http://muse.mu/tour-dates/ 

You will not be dissapointed! 

Check out the song Hysteria from MUSE’s Absolution album. 

Hysteria - MUSE 

… and here is the accompanying live video:

3 December

Decide What to Be, and Go Be It.

Austin City Limits Festival 10/02/2009

Austin City Limits Festival 10/02/2009

The best show I saw at the 2009 Austin City Limits Festival, was an early Friday afternoon show by the Avett Brothers, a band from North Carolina that has been building quite a buzz for the past few years. They were also the very first band we saw of the festival. Now, it’s almost anti-climactic when at ACL fest to see the best band right out of the gate, as this is a festival with 130 bands and included the likes of Pearl Jam, Ben Harper, The Dave Mathews Band and countless other talents. I would compare the experience to marrying the first girl/guy you kissed or buying the first house listing you see. However, their infectious boot stomping and sing alongs brought many a smile under the hot Austin sun and it even inspired two people who were with me to buy their new album before the festival had even concluded. Trying to classify their music is a formulation of bluegrass, punk, pop, country, all tossed in a dirty canvas bag with a big ol’ flask of honky-tonk. Their music most recently caught the attention of producer-extraordinaire, Rick Rubin who signed on for their latest release, I and Love and You, (which is probably in the top three albums for me of 2009).

The song included below is the third track off the new album and has been on constant repeat for me for the past month.  I can’t classify exactly why I like it except for good musicianship, infectious melody, beautiful harmonies, and honest lyrics that are filled with hope.  Enjoy.

From September 8 to October 8 2009, in conglomeration with the upcoming release of the album, I and Love and You, the Avett Brothers released 13 short videos describing their music and fans. The videos show clips from past concerts, fan interviews and talks from the Avetts themselves. Click here to see the release for Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise.

Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise - The Avett Brothers

There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light
In the fine print they tell me what’s wrong and what’s right
And it comes in black and it comes in white
And I’m frightened by those that don’t see it

When nothing is owed or deserved or expected
And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected
If you’re loved by someone, you’ll never reject it
Decide what to be, and go be it

There was a dream and one day I could see it
Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it
And there was a kid with a head full of doubt
So I’ll scream til I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out

There’s a darkness upon you that’s flooded in light
And in the fine print they tell you what’s wrong and what’s right
And it flies by day and it flies by night
And I’m frightened by those that don’t see it

There was a dream and one day I could see it
Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it
And there was a kid with a head full of doubt
So I’ll scream til I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out

There was a dream and one day I could see it
Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it
And there was a kid with a head full of doubt
So I’ll scream til I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out

There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light
In the fine print they tell me what’s wrong and what’s right
There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light
And I’m frightened by those that don’t see it

2 December

Needle In The Hay

As I opened my recent issue of Paste Magazine, there was an interesting list of the the Best 25 Films of the Past Decade, with The Royal Tenenbaums coming in at #10. I was pleasantly surprised last night, when after the President’s address, this very film was being shown on one of the many movie channels that are included with my cable package.

In one of the most  disturbing scenes of the movie, the character Richie (Luke Wilson), attempts suicide with a razor-blade while the song “Needle In The Hay” by Elliott Smith is played. I discovered the album this track appears on shortly before Smith did the soundtrack for Good Will Hunting and has always been one of my favorites. The beautifully sung, but yet desperate lyrics of someone in the throes of drug dependency, made for a poignant contrast and also made the song a fan favorite.  Unfortunately, fact can often follow fiction, and Elliott Smith, after a long battle with drug addiction and depression committed suicide in 2003.

This post may seem like a downer, especially on the 2nd day of December, with us all flying straight for the sun of the Holiday Season… but it left me with a reminder that Christmas is the most likely time of year for depression. 2009 has been especially tough on many. The idyllic storybook family pictures we witness on television are usually anything but the norm, and for anyone who has experienced loss, it is often a time of reflection. So if you are finding yourself anything but joyous, remember that you are not alone… and please go easy on yourself and others. No one is a Needle in the Hay.

and if all of that is a little bit heavy, at least check out the great song!!

Needle In The Hay -  Elliott Smith

Your hand on his arm
Haystack charm around your neck
Strung out and thin
Calling some friend, trying to cash some check
He’s acting dumb
That’s what you’ve come to expect
Needle in the hay
Needle in the hay
Needle in the hay
Needle in the hay
He’s wearing your clothes
Head down to toes, a reaction to you
You say you know what he did
But you idiot kid, you don’t have a clue
Sometimes they just get caught in the eye, you’re pulling him through
Needle in the hay
Needle in the hay
Needle in the hay
Needle in the hay
Now on the bus
Nearly touching this dirty retreat
Falling out 6th and Powell, a dead sweat in my teeth
Gonna walk walk walk
Four more blocks, plus the one in my brain
Down downstairs to the man, he’s gonna make it all okay
I can’t be myself
I can’t be myself
And I don’t want to talk
I’m taking the cure
So I can be quiet whenever I want
So leave me alone
You ought to be proud that I’m getting good marks
Needle in the hay
Needle in the hay
Needle in the hay
Needle in the hay

Also… on a hypocritical and lighter note, check out the video below from Sad Kermit, if you have not yet checked out this website, it is truly demented….