Sunday, June 24, 2012

Oh oh oh!

Japandroids--Celebration Rock
I fucking hated their first record. (Still do. Well, mostly. I might be warming up to its grubby noise-rock.)  But this album has been on loop in my car for an entire goddamned month now.  Yeah!  Bits of it embody a weird douche-bro-ness that I can't quite put my finger on (it kinda channels a louder, better Kings-of-Leon-meets-the-Hold-Steady I suppose, and lord knows I can't stand either of those bastards).  There are only so many lines about drinking and smoking and partying that I can take, I guess.  But this album makes me want to throw my fist up--it's loud and dense and just a little bit bittersweet, and the boys' guitar-n-drum wall of sound is just so goddamned fearless and ecstatic.  Play it loud.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Frothing at the Mouth

     I have waited years for this.  Sweden's Afraid of Stairs is finally--FINALLY--going to be releasing an album.  Labrador dropped them a long time ago when nothing came to fruition, but holy hell "Not Today" still makes me hair stand on end.  It's fuzzy pop like indie darlings make now and again, but drenched in reverb and a ridiculously catchy lead-in.  Don't disappoint me, boys.  I couldn't stand it.

    And on a totally unrelated tangent because I just cannot keep myself from screaming aloud, The Afghan Whigs are touring again.  I just may have to take a trip to Cincinnati, because seriously, Pitchfork Music Festival's after party is not happening to me.

Oh Greg Dulli.  You are still magnetic.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Was There...

Tinley Park, IL

       Last night was a long time coming for me; I have had the worst luck when it came to seeing Radiohead. I was always either finding out they played somewhere nearby a few days prior, or just couldn't manage to get tickets when I did know they were coming. My luck finally changed a few weeks ago when one of our loyal customers called in to see if anyone would be interested in buying his Radiohead tickets. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, he would be unable to attend and just wanted to get his money back. I told him that I would love to take them off his hands, and thus, my long wait was finally over. 

     Let me tell you, dear friends, it was worth the wait. From the moment the lights dimmed and they launched into "Bloom" until the last ringing notes of "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" evaporated into the cloudy Chicago evening, the sold-out crowd was on their feet cheering the band on. They took us on a roller-coaster ride, weaving their way through old favorites like "Karma Police" and "Kid A", and coaxing us through new songs like "Lotus Flower" and "Bodysnatchers". We were even treated to the live debut of a brand-new song called "Full Stop", after which Thom Yorke informed us that it would get better with age (not that it needed to be any better). The band played with a restrained abandon that could only be mastered by a band that has been breaking all the rules for nearly two decades. "The Daily Mail" was haunting and beautiful, which seemed to be lost on the drunken frat-guys in front of me hoping for "Creep", while "15 Step" was energetic and playful. The high point of the evening came at the end of the first encore with "Everything In Its Right Place". Yorke teased us with "The One I Love" by REM for the introduction seguing into "Everything..." so well that you'd have almost thought that it was there all-along. The second encore opened with Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke playing an amazing rendition of "Give Up The Ghost". Yorke's looped vocals and acoustic guitar were perfectly complimented by Greenwood's Starcaster. The rest of the band joined them (including newly added "road" drummer Clive Deamer) for another new song called "Identikit". If the new songs are any indication of what we can expect from the next Radiohead album, then color me quite excited. 

(Source: Pitchfork)

    The visual aspect of the show was also quite breathtaking. Due to the band's environmental concerns they had elected to use an LED backdrop as opposed to the huge spotlighting rigs that bands usually take on the road. In no way did this take anything away from the show. Each song had it's own visual display which was tailor-made to enhance the mood of the song. It made for a stunning display which made the lack of a regular light show unnoticeable.    

   All-told, the band ripped through 24 tracks and made sure that everyone walked away with every cent worth of their ticket price. I had a blast and will definitely be attending another show when they come back around again.

Set List:
There There
15 Step
Kid A
Morning Mr. Magpie
The Gloaming
The Amazing Sounds Of Orgy
Karma Police
Lotus Flower
Little By Little

Full Stop
Everything In It's Right Place

Give Up The Ghost
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Class Actress @ Radio Radio: 6/4/2012

            You don’t know me.  I have been around for a while, but I haven’t written anything for this blog.  You may ask, “But, J4CK 0F H34RT5, why?”  The answer to that is that I am a horrible procrastinator.  There, we know each other a little better now.  I originally intended to write a review of when Tennis played Radio Radio several months ago, but never got around to it.  To that I say, “Go see Tennis--they are awesome.”  To make up for my shortcomings, I will provide you with my review of Class Actress’s set at Radio Radio on the 4th.  And, here’s how it went:
            Opening for Class Actress was a band called Penguin Prison, which I was completely unfamiliar with before that night.  They’re a fun, synth-pop group. It’s pretty poppy, dancey stuff.  Of course, this is not really everybody’s thing, but I doubt it’s the type of thing that would provoke a crowd of drunken clubbers with no musical taste whatsoever to exclaim, “Oh my God!  I LOVE THIS SONG!”  I was glad to see that their lead singer functioned as a second percussionist on certain songs--they had a floor tom and wood block set up at the front of the stage, which he would occasionally attack, quite enthusiastically.  It might be my past as a drummer, but I always enjoy bands that incorporate more than one drummer.  It just adds a nice fullness to the groups sound.  They were also very entertaining to watch, as each member of the group genuinely looked like they were having fun.  I’m not sure if the singer’s childish grin left his face at all the whole set.  He and the bassist moved around the stage to groove with their band-mates, providing some fun banter through-out their set.  Overall, they put on a good live performance and were a fine energetic opener for the evening.

In case you were curious:

            As for Class Actress, missing one third of their whole did not stop them from putting on a really good show.  If you’re unfamiliar with them, I would strongly recommend them to you if you’re at all a fan of synth-based music with driving beats and fuzzy melodies filled with bleeps and bloops.  As their set began, I didn’t realize that vocalist Elizabeth Harper was in the crowd, shrouded in a large black trench coat with her face hidden by her hair; she looked like a strangely attractive serial killer.  She took the stage and, from start to finish, she and her keyboardist (unfortunately I’m not sure if it was Mark Richardson or Scott Rosenthal) put on a killer reproduction of their studio sound in a live setting.  This is not to say that they sounded as if someone had just thrown in their LP and cranked it up.  They were able to maintain a faithfulness to how they sound on Rapprocher, but did not sacrifice the uniqueness and energy that any good live show should have.  And the last song freak-out?  I'll get to that.  
         When I’m at a show, I like to see a group acknowledge their fans and at least provide us with a little interaction here and there.  It’s like getting your own personal piece of that particular group; like a behind the scenes look that nobody that wasn’t at that show can ever get.  But, on Monday, we mostly just got a hello at the beginning and a heads up before the last song.  This isn’t completely their fault, to be honest.  When starting, they encouraged the crowd to come closer to the stage and get into things a little more--and I'm quoting Elizabeth here: "You can come closer. Don't be afraid."  Some did, but the majority of the audience was more standoffish.  Elizabeth made bedroom-eyes at the crowd through-out the set, but hardly said a word.  I hope that they can find ways to energize more apathetic crowds in the future.  That said, they more than made up for it in a big way, though.  
        For the last song, the keyboardist switched to guitar and unleashed an electricity-filled stream of crazy-awesome raucous sound.  Paired with Elizabeth’s vocals, the two of them brought down the house with the biggest crescendo I’ve ever heard.  It was pretty freaking amazing.  I’ve been to entire shows that did not match up with that one short moment.  In the end, I'd have to whole-hardheartedly recommend that you spend the money to see Class Actress live if you ever get the chance, because it was well worth it.  Even if all you catch is the breakdown.