30 November 2008

Best "!" Songs of the Year!

Ok, so allow me a little bit of shameless self-promotion here. I've got an itty-bitty article in the this month's Paste magazine (it's on page 37 in the December/January issue with She & Him on the cover for those you keeping score). Anyways I basically noticed that an awful lot of songs this year featured exclamation points! So I wrote about them! And here they!

“You! Me! Dancing!” – Los Campesinos!

With its coy boy-girl vocals and meandering instrumental intro, this twee tune by Britain’s cheekiest youngsters possesses all the awkward charm of a middle school dance, but with a lot more glockenspiel.
Why the !: The dancing continues for nearly seven minutes!

“Lost!” – Coldplay
It’s an anthem with pounding percussion, droning organs and relentless riffs—the sound of four blokes striving to be the biggest band in the world.
Why the !: Brian Eno’s immaculate production!

“Be Mine!” - Robyn
The Swedish pop tart blows an electro-pop kiss-off that’s both sassy and sad.
Why the !: You’ll never be Robyn’s lover. Really, you never will!

“Souled Out!!!” – Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band

Omaha’s favorite son yelps pun-laden social commentary.
Why the !: Bye bye to the Bright Eyes moniker!

“Dig, Lazurus, Dig!!!” – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

A twisted 21st-century reinterpretation of the biblical story of Lazurus, sung with a snarl and a swagger.
Why the !: He's still the ultimate bad-ass!

28 November 2008

If you feel like dancing, dance with me.

So every year on my birthday I go to the local cd store and buy a cd. Not just any cd, one I've never heard of before. I buy because the cover is cool, the songs have quirky names, or based on a highly scientific round of eeni meeni minie mo. Some years I end up with a less than steller choice. (I got Panic! At The Disco's debut a week before that god awful wedding song hit the radio) but some years I hit musical gold. This was such a year.

It was the cover that got me. It was pretty and simple, a nice soothing blue cover. There was also an 'and' inbetween the band and album name, and little touches like that always tickle me. So, I put back the cd I had been considering and bought Bishop Allen's 'The Broken String.'

Light and pretty songs. Crisp and fresh like a summer's morning. The lyrics are deeper than the music would sugest, which is great because I can't work with lack-lustre lyrics. And while the songs share a similar sound, they are each distinctive in there own way which stops the album from becoming boring. Plus, trumpets and bells and castanets.

It's really just a delight to listen to, not too light and not too dark.

The Moniter
And you think I'd understand
That a rock-n-roll band
Doesn't mean a blessed thing

Click, Click, Click, Click.
I wasn't someone they'd invite
Because I didn't know the groom

Or know the bride

But when I stood next to her brother

For the photograph

He was laughing

27 November 2008

I love a parade!

Currently liveTwittering the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for VK:


If you haven't followed us yet, check it out now!

The Magnetic Fields - Parades Go By.m4a

EDIT: Now that the parade is over and there's no danger of ruining "spoilers" for anyone, here's our Tweets, in reverse chronological order (newest to oldest):

  • Kermit has had, sadly, one of the best voices we've heard today.
  • @mirandate no bari sax for Jess... this is from June's experience. 
  • Marching with a bari sax? From experience I can tell you: not easy.
  • @Sarakenobi I'm sure it'll be up on YouTube before the end of the day.
  • Gotta admit: Charice has an incredible set of pipes.
  • RICKROLL!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Skinny Al Roker is creepy.
  • a marching band played gary numan's "cars" my life is complete!
  • Disco-soul-funk remix of "The Age of Aquarius"... thumbs down.
  • Clique Girlz = Hanson???
  • I think I have this song on my Sesame Disco! tape from 1979: http://tinyurl.com/67n2qr!
  • There is nothing man has ever dreamed of more than scaling the mighty rhinocerous! (but srsly, WTF?)
  • Conch shell is the new cowbell.
  • hey june you crack your alter-twitter-ego up -can u also post them on vk too??
  • "Fantasia on Georgia Tech Themes" could possibly be the least inspiring music title ever
  • James Taylor has seen better days.
  • I love the Rockettes so much. They should team up with Bono to make world peace happen sooner. Or something.
  • I was hoping for the Simpsons version of this song. Still, some childhood illusions are being ruined right now.
  • Harry Connick, Jr.: stick to music, not jokes plz.
  • @doctoracula Did you notice that their poodle skirts actually had reindeer on them? Awesome. (I swear I'm not 60 years old) 
  • One of the greatest musicals of all time to be sure, but South Pacific isn't the same without Robert Guilet. 
  • Finally, a holiday musical for those of us who miss Lawerence Welk! 
  • When it comes to recent musicals about NY neighborhoods, In The Heights < Avenue Q
  • liveblogging the Macy's Thanksgiving parade: did Girl Talk do this opener for the cheerleaders?

And in case you've ever doubted the power of the internet, yes, the Macy's parade got RickRolled! Observe:


Happy Thanksgiving!

24 November 2008

List lovers and haters delight!

As we mentioned in a previous post, it's list time again! We'd like to alert you to our fave aggregator of year-end music lists at Largehearted Boy. It's updated on a daily basis and is by far the most complete compilation of annual argument starters.

If you find yourself fuming while combing through the list of lists, just keep these immortal words of Of Montreal to heart:

There is Nothing Wrong With Hating Rock Critics - of Montrealmp3

As for us, well we'll wait till (gasp) December before posting our best-of picks. Stay tuned.

21 November 2008

Brooklyn Vegan asks "When did the Best Album of 2008 actually come out?"

So it's that time of year again - the time when self-appointed critics everywhere start compiling those best-of-year lists. While lists exist pretty much for the sole purpose of debate, usually its the contents of the list that are debated, not the year of their release. Because, um aren't the best albums of 2008 supposed to come out in, uhh 2008?

Not so. Brooklyn Vegan makes this excellent point:

"According to the aggregated critics at MetaCritic, this is what was best this year...

1 London Zoo by The Bug
2 Fed by Plush
3 For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver
4 Dear Science, by TV On The Radio
5 Exit by Shugo Tokumaru
6 Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes
7 Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
8 Robyn by Robyn
9 Hercules And Love Affair by Hercules And Love Affair
10 What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective by Steinski

Does when an album actually came out matter?. Bon Iver's album actually came out in 2007, but was reissued in 2008. Shugo's album came out in 2007 in Japan. Plush's album actually came out in 2002 in Japan (I still haven't heard it). Robyn's album came out in Sweden in 2005. Steinski came out in 2008, but as the title suggests, is actually a compilation of tracks that were released between 1983-2006."

(Read the full article here)

Ahhh, I'm so confused. So I ask you dear reader, as we here at VK rack our brains trying to rank the oh-so-many quality records that came out this year, how do we sort through this sort of hullabaloo? And more specifically, even though we first heard Bon Iver in 2007, can we please include him, since the "For Emma Forever Ago" wasn't WIDELY released until this year? Pleeeease?

Oh and while you're at it, re-visit our Best of 2007 list>

Flume - Bon Iver

20 November 2008

Nothing to feel guilty about.

True Story: I actually spilled coffee all over my couch upon hearing the news of Guilt By Association Vol. 2. And then once I cleaned up the mess, I actually listened to it and smiled a lot. You will too.

In case you're unfamiliar with the concept, GbA is basically a collection of indie-fied covers of your favorite pop songs. Really there is not a drop of irony, just a lot of talented artists trying their hand at the songs you'd least expect, but in a fun celebratory way, not a mocking, condescending way.

Besides, who wouldn't want to hear Kaki King taking on Justin Timberlake! Or hear Jukebox the Ghost get their Ace of Base on! Also Matt Pond PA actually make My Chemical Romance sound poignant. And best of all, you can stream the ENTIRE album. Give it a guilt-free listen:

And download a track too:

Tainted Love - My Brightest Diamond

18 November 2008

Plastic Snow!

Ok so it's not even Thanksgiving yet, however that doesn't mean we can't crank up the Christmas tunes already. On that note, we'd like to highlight a brand-spanking-new album of holiday songs curated by our friends at Confessions of a Would-Be Hipster. Basically they gathered sixteen of their favorite LA bands(ah, so that's why the snow is plastic!) including Earlimart, Great Northern and Princeton and had them record seasonal standards and originals alike. And best of all, proceeds from the album go toward Midnight Mission which has been helping the homeless since 1914!

So what are you waiting for? Go download it here now, only ten bucks for great music and an even greater cause.

Here's a sneak peak:

Icicles - Let's Go Sailing

16 November 2008

Girl Talk @ Terminal 5, NYC, November 15, 2008

I almost got trampled last night. Anyone who's ever been to a Girl Talk show knows how intense the crowd can be. As soon as Greg Gillis opens his laptop, hundreds of people bum-rush the stage and leap over barriers just to get a taste of the party that ensues. Security guards anticipated the onslaught of rabid dancers, positioning themselves along r At one point I was almost kicked to the floor and my shows went flying. BUT I scurried back up and hustled past security and found myself lost in a sea of neon spandex and glowsticks. As I starred out into the crowd of 3,000, I couldn't help but think, the view is always nicer from the top.

Any time there is flying toilet paper, dudes dressed up as teddy bears, confetti and oh yeah an hour and a half set of killer non-stop mash-ups you are pretty much guaranteed the best dance party ever. That's basically what we got.

Here's the Thing - Girl Talk

14 November 2008

Warsaw Philharmonic @ Penn State's Eisenhower Hall, November 13, 2008

Because sometimes the indie kids like to listen to music that pre-dates record players, I'd like to hand the blog over to my friend Deb for a special guest post on a classical music performance she saw. She knows far more about the genre then I, so take it away, Deb!

So Classical Music is the ugly step-sister on this blog, but sometimes a group – like any other form of music – just gives me such a high that I have to share. So thank you to my Dear Friend Jess for giving me this time and space to share with you one of the best orchestral groups I’ve seen in a long time, and I’ve seen quite a few of them at this point. The Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra is currently on a U.S. tour and happened to stop in State College, PA where I am currently…stuck…as a graduate student. My friend and I, both exhausted from having spent the entire day at a conference joked with each other that we’d fall asleep on each other as we walked in. Little did we know…

We walked in about twenty minutes early – hey, assigned seats mean we don’t need to arrive over an hour early to get a spot on a rail – and we see, and hear, that they are tuning the piano. We turned to each other and said “why are they tuning the piano twenty minutes before the concert?!” Tuning pianos usually takes hours. They manage to finish the upper range by the time the concert was scheduled to begin. Out walks the string section (looking very European…they’re from Poland!) followed by director/conductor Antoni Wit. Wit has no baton in his hand and simply stands on a platform – no music stand in sight. He conducts all four movements of the Seranade for String Orchestra Op. 2 by a Polish composer I’d never heard of – Karlowicz – with his eyes closed turning towards whatever instrument he wants emphasized, using his bare hands to command strength or pianissimo. At times, I could barely tell where the beat was in his conducting. The orchestra and Wit seemed to just know where they wanted to go and didn’t need a steady beat to keep them together. Every bow on every instrument moved in perfect synchrony. I had an orchestra teacher tell us that this was the mark of any great orchestra, where the bows move as if one arm was controlling them all. I had never seen it done so perfectly as it had been done here. I was in complete awe, to the point where the usual annoyance of idiots clapping between movements didn’t bug me as much as usual…not that I didn’t roll my eyes at my friend.

Then, out came Valentina Lisitsa, the solo pianist for the Listz Piano Concerto Number 1. Wit used a score and baton for this one – you could see how annoyed he was to have to do so, though – and Lisitsa pounded away on the keys. Her hands like I said – no wonder the piano was out of tune! I can’t even give her justice here so just know she was pretty amazing.

They play through their final symphonic piece – Brahms Symphony Number 2 – and luckily this time people knew not to clap. My friend and I, tired but amazed at this point were ready to go. Clap clap clap. Standing Ovation (I don’t even think I’ve been to a show where there hasn’t been a standing ovation anymore). Wit walks back … and… what, an orchestra is playing an ENCORE??? If you’re not a classical music person, this is a rarity – perhaps soloists, but a whole freaking orchestra playing an Encore? Okay. So they play something. Clap clap clap, time to go. Wit walks out AGAIN. WHAT, ANOTHER ENCORE??? They play a polka of some sort. I bend down and get my purse while clap clap clap goes on again. AND AGAIN WIT WALKS OUT. ENCORE NUMBER THREE!!! Wit turns to the audience and in his heavy Polish accent says “This is dedicated to your new President Barack Obama.” He turns and proceeds to conduct his all Polish orchestra in playing Stars and Stripes Forever, complete with the Polish flutists soloing. My friend said to me afterwards “can you imagine the flutists playing that in rehearsal and memorizing that, its so American!” We cracked up, we smiled. Something has really changed in the world if a European Orchestra is playing Stars and Stripes forever. They were finally done.

I went home, smiling, quite amused and awed by what I saw.

More info: http://www.filharmonia.pl/start.en.html

13 November 2008

They live up to their name...

Isn't it great when you stumble on a happy little album without any expectations or preconceptions of what its gonna sound like? Somehow I managed to get my hands on Little Joy's self-titled debut without having any idea that the band contains the drummer from the Strokes (the yummily named Fabrizio Moretti) and this awesome Brazilian dude (Rodrigo Amarante of Los Hermanos) and some other girl with another awesome name (Binki Shapiro). And so these three notables come together make one of the most effortlessly listenable records I've heard in a while. And its probably the most relevant album put out by a Stroke since 2001.

Nearly every song makes me want to sip girly drinks with mini-umbrellas in a hammock, swaying by the beach. It's nothing earth-shattering or life-altering - just breezy, acoustic melodies, almost like She & Him, but with a twist of tropicalia. But it's all just so pleasant - and sometimes that's all you need.

Brand New Start - Little Joy
How to Hang a Warhol - Little Joy

11 November 2008

The Mountain Goats @ Webster Hall, NY 11/09/08

Adjectives like "amazing" and "incredible" get thrown around so often, they're practically rendered meaningless. However, Sunday's Mountain Goat concert was truly that -an epic night of incredible amazing-ness. It more then lived up to its billing as "the last happy night of your life". Because for most of us, or at least for June and I, it was.

In addition to the usual crowd pleasers we got treated to not one, not two, but THREE songs off 1997's Full Force Galesburg. One of them, "New Britain" had been played live only once before many moons ago. Other highlights included multiple collaborations with guitar goddess, Kaki King all in support of their collectively performed Black Pear Tree EP. They noisily jammed away on "Supergenesis" and quietly cooed the EP's somber title track. They make quite the pair.

Additionally as we acknowledged in the previous post there was a cover of Morrissey's "Suedehead". John Darnielle pulled off his best impression of the Moz with a series of diva-licious poses and flamboyant hand gestures, as the full band raged on behind him. On the strength of that cover alone I would almost be ok if tMG forsaked their original material in sole favor of becoming a Morrissey tribute band. Almost.

Oh and speaking of covers, they also played their now legendary cover of Ace of Base's "The Sign" Like the rest of the night, it was filled with pure unironic glee. Indeed they opened up our eyes.

Black Pear Tree - The Mountain Goats & Kaki King (live)

And best of all you can download the entire show here courtesy of NYCtaper

[Total Time 1:50:55]
01 [introduction]
02 Have to Explode
03 Heretic Pride
04 The House That Dripped Blood
05 Moon Over Goldsboro
06 Slow West Vultures
07 New Zion
08 [banter]
09 New Britain
10 It’s All Here In Brownsville
11 Minnesota
12 [banter]
13 Black Pear Tree
14 Bring Our Curses Home
15 Mosquito Repellent
16 Suedehead (Morrissey)
17 Supergenesis
18 San Bernadino
19 Sept 15 1983
20 Game Shows Touch Our Lives
21 This Year
22 [encore break]
23 Houseguest
24 Going To Georgia
25 No Children
26 [second encore break]
27 Palmcoder Yajna
28 The Sign (Ace of Base)
29 The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton

All photos courtesy our good tMG buddy, Thom. Thanks Thom!

10 November 2008

Mountain Goats (P)review

June and I are still recovering from the awesomeness of the Mountain Goats concerts we just saw (two nights in a row, baby!). Until we are capable of properly reviewing them, we'll leave you with this preview.

Two words: Morrissey Cover!

Suedehead - the Mountain Goats (Morrissey cover)

06 November 2008

The Decemberists @ Terminal 5, NYC 11/5/08

Is it funny to say that the most patriotic I've ever felt was at a concert? Because The Decemberists' show yesterday, better known as President Elect Obama: Day 1, was one of the most joyous, collective celebrations of hopefulness I've had the priveledge of experiencing. Chanting a call-and-response refrain of "Yes We Can" and "Yes We Did" along with 3,000 others during the particularly timely "16 Military Wives" seemed a euphorically aptway to commemorate such an historic occasion. "America says its so!" Indeed! Later on Obama himself (ok, a cardboard cut-out, not like the actual president-to-be) made an appearance and even crowd-surfaced. He's super-cool like that.

The best prop of the night, however, had to be a peacock feather someone in the front row handed to Colin Meloy. I mean, who doesn't bring a peacock feather to a rock show?? It's like totally the new hipster accessory of choice. Meloy being the master improv showman that he is used it to violently strum his guitar in full rock-god style. Because all the best rock-gods sing about Victorian era chimney sweeps.

Set highlights included:
New single: Valerie Plame mp3
Fleetwood Mac covers?! Dreams mp3
and the yet to be released, but beautifully melancholic: Raincoat Song mp3

(All photos taken by me or good friend Deb)

04 November 2008

Drunk on Election Night!

Allow us to be the 72nd website to remind you to VOTE! And for all you non-Americans, thanks for putting up with the entire internet's insanity over one wacky and hopefully historic election.

ANYWAYS regardless of who you're rooting for (cough*OBAMA*cough), enjoy this song titled after what you probably be tonight...

Drunk on Election Night - Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males

03 November 2008

Rock and Roll Means Well

So last weekend, after taking the kidlets trick-or-treating and stashing them at the Oma's house, the Resident Photographer and I headed north to Tallahassee to see two of our favorite bands perform together at The Moon. He's more of a Drive-By Truckers type, while I'm a Hold Steady girl through-and-through. Neither of us was disappointed. (Okay, I was a *little* disappointed, see comments.)

The DBT's played first, but both bands played full sets. They appear to be alternating the rotation depending on where they're playing. THS opened in the DBT's native Georgia, but I daresay they'll "headline" both of the upcoming dates in Minneapolis. I'd hate to spoil the highlights for those of you who are going to see future dates and want to be surprised, as I did, so see the comments for encore details. Or! if you don't mind the spoilers, you could enjoy this video, not from our night, not taken by me:

We also stimulated the local economy by buying a ridiculous amount of CDs at Vinyl Fever, an independent music store that is neither dead nor dying, which you should really check out if you ever find yourself Tallahassee (or Tampa) way. It's not my favorite music store in Florida - that honor goes to Park Avenue CDs in Orlando - but it's close.

P.S. If the message of this post was not clear, it is the following: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GO SEE THIS SHOW. YOU WILL BE HAPPY YOU DID.

02 November 2008

Love Is All you need

Can we talk about how adorable Love Is All is? I mean I know adorable bands are probably Sweden's biggest export. It's as if the country doubles as a factory that churns out adorable bands as if by assembly line production. But I swear I had forgotten just how great this band is until I saw them open for Of Montreal a few months back.

Josephine Olausson's baby doll whimper of a voice is the perfect compliment to her bandmates' angular riffage -it's a sucker punch of sugar and spice, kind of like a twee version of Deerhoof with just a tinge of brass. I've been spinning their 2006 debut "Nine Times That Same Song" all week and giddily anticipating their follow-up album "A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night" which is due out November 11.

Busy Doing Nothing - Love Is All
Turn the TV Off - Love Is All