Sunday, August 31, 2008

Joy Division - She's Lost Control

Ian Curtis, far left
lots more excellent Joy Division pix by same photog here

Just saw the Joy Division movie, Control, the first feature film by Dutch photographer (U2, Bowie, REM, Kurt Cobain, David Byrne) and video director (Echo and the Bunnymen, Depeche Mode, U2, Nick Cave, Mercury Rev, At the Drive-In, Travis, Coldplay--the list is LONG) Anton Corbijn, who also shot Joy Division back in the day (1976-1980).

JD frontman Ian Curtis makes a fascinating subject and the movie's quite well done in gritty black and white to match the bleak Manchester backdrop. The four actors playing the band actually perform the songs and they sound almost exactly like the real versions.

We really do like to destroy our most sensitive artists, don't we. Curtis, an epileptic who suffered from grand mal seizures off and onstage, was only 23 when he hanged himself the night before the band was to leave on their first American tour. Joy Division and its successor, New Order, continue to be immensely influential 30 years later (see Interpol. Editors).

Below, the song that gave the film its title. It's about a girl having an epileptic seizure.

MP3 Joy Division - She's Lost Control
(from 1979's Unknown Pleasures)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Blitzen Trapper - Furr

My son Tim's now talking about moving to Portland, Oregon when he graduates from the University of Vermont next year. So with that in mind, here's the melodic title track from the upcoming fourth album by Portland's Blitzen Trapper, their first on Sub Pop.

MP3 Blitzen Trapper - Furr (from 2008's Furr)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Radiohead does Neil Young at the Hollywood Bowl

And it's so pretty. Thanks Gorilla vs. Bear. Thanks ThomandJonny.

MP3 Neil Young - Tell me Why (original version from 1970's After the Gold Rush; this is live in Chicago, 1976)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How great is John Doe?

Very great. Just back from seeing him with only fifty other people at a house concert in Freehold hosted by the extraordinarily gracious Mark and Elaine Costanzo at their lovely home near Bruce Springsteen's high school. The show itself took place in Mark's photography studio (a converted detached garage), and afterward everyone ate, drank and mingled most sociably in their backyard.

What a contrast from All Points West two weeks ago! I wasn't frisked, I didn't have to open my bag, I wasn't carded (yes, I'm carded EVERYWHERE even though I was born in the 50s, because this country is insane). Instead of waiting in long lines to buy $10 burgers and $7 beers, people brought their own food and drink and SHARED, can you imagine? John enjoyed what appeared to be his first Yuengling, which someone in the audience gave him. At least, he looked at it quizzically and tried to pronounce it (not easy).

the studio during a previous concert (excellent photo taken by this guy)

There was a rudimentary setlist but mostly folks just shouted titles out and he played them. Lots of beautiful stuff from his solo albums, including Twin Brother, She's Not, 7 Holes, Mama Don't, The Golden State, Unforgiven, Highway 5, and even I Dreamed of St. Augustine from the I'm Not There soundtrack. He also did Burning House of Love, an old X song he often plays with the Knitters and solo.

Below another song he did tonight, a lovely ode to wanting more time with your children before they're gone (John has three teenage daughters with his second wife).

Tonight some guy's backyard, tomorrow Lincoln Center. The music business.

Sidebar: If I could have been anyone in the world, I probably would have been Exene Cervenka. I can't think of anyone cooler. Besides being a great poet, songwriter and artist and an absolutely unique performer, she's got no looks at all and yet she married two of the foxiest men on the planet--Doe and Viggo Mortenson, with whom she has a 20-year-old son. Recently she was married for the third time to Jason Edge, her guitarist in the Original Sinners. Good 2002 interview with the two of them by Stanford U's KZSU here.

MP3 John Doe - A Little More Time (from 2007's A Year in the Wilderness)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ra Ra Riot - Can You Tell

Finally a great band from Syracuse, it's about time! Debut LP came out Tuesday and it is mighty fine. Girls on cello and violin are not used for embellishment but take the place of rhythm guitars. Band has already survived the death of its drummer (and principal songwriter). Go 'Cuse!

MP3 Ra Ra Riot - Can You Tell (from 2008's The Rhumb Line)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sigur Rós - Inní mér syngur vitleysingur

I was hoping some of this video would eventually surface. This is from the free outdoor concert Björk and Sigur Rós did in Reykjavik in June, the one that was webcast by National Geographic and attended by ten percent of Iceland's population. One of the best tracks off Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust and a perfect example of SR's "build it up/tear it down" song structure. Band is all costumed out (the Amiina girls look like goddesses) and it's a beautiful day in Iceland, albeit only about 50 degrees! (Note: audio is not live, it's the album cut.)

MP3 Sigur Rós - Inní mér syngur vitleysingur (from 2008's Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Paul Westerberg - Who You Gonna Marry?

This is easily the best 49 cents you can spend on music this year. Replacements frontman Westerberg's (b. 1959) awesome songwriting skills are front and center on this stream-of-consciousness recording released as one 43- (not 49) minute MP3 sold briefly by Amazon for 49 cents. Apparently it's been taken down now for some legal reason which is a crying shame.

The record just bursts with great songs, some of which you hear for only a few seconds; others are played on top of each other in the manner of interfering radio stations. Almost all are instantly catchy and memorable. The one about his father's death is heartbreaking (there are no song titles given). This record will blow you away.

However you can find this, HIGHLY recommended. Definitely gonna be in my 2008 Top Ten.

MP3 Paul Westerberg - Who You Gonna Marry (from 2008's 49:00 of Your Life)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Carl Newman and Will Sheff - Lost Coastlines

Speaking of the New Pornographers, wow, this is really great. Carl "stands in" for the rest of Okkervil River as he and Will Sheff do the beautiful Lost Coastlines from the upcoming OR record, The Stand-Ins, a companion to last year's excellent The Stage Names. Sheff, the best rocker ever from New Hampshire, is one of those guys who's always got the next few records already written. Newman sings like a blind man with his eyes closed. They sound fantastic harmonizing together at the end.

MP3 Okkervil River - Plus Ones (from 2007's The Stage Names)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

New Pornographers - The Bleeding Heart Show

I also got to see the New Pornographers for the first time at APW, though I'm not sure it really "counted" as neither Neko nor Dan Bejar were present. Still Uncle Carl Newman and his hard-working niece Kathryn Calder (in her early 20s and up there onstage with a bunch of folks pushing 40) put on a nice show, opening with the divorce ditty My Rights vs Yours which segued into Use It. Myriad Harbor would have been appropriate considering the setting but without Dan, not possible. My girlfriend Pam had not been familiar with them but ended up liking them a lot.

Below, the Pornos' best song ever. Here Carl explain how its singalong coda came to be the theme song of the sketchy online University of Phoenix.
We're just trying to get by in this world. When you play music for so long and don't make any money, and people start offering you money for things that involve no effort on your part, you start going, "I'll do that."
At APW they also did a cool cover of ELO's Don't Bring Me Down (Pam and I were going crazy trying to remember whose song it was); you can see it here.

MP3 The New Pornographers - The Bleeding Heart Show
(from 2005's Twin Cinema)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Kings of Leon - On Call

I saw Kings of Leon for the first time just before Radiohead on day two of All Points West. Their propulsive and retro (interesting, because they were exposed to very little rock music growing up on the itinerant Pentecostal circuit) Southern sound drew a respectable daylight crowd (though many were just staking out a position for the headliners).

Now I know why Jenny Eliscu is so into them--they are indeed sexy rock-and-roll beasts in their long hair and very tight jeans. Thom Yorke, in thanking the band for opening for them (he pronounced Leon like it's French), dedicated Airbag to the homeschooled Followill brothers-and-cousin from Tennessee and cracked "If we were that good looking we'd be famous."

Radiohead guitarist (and excellent dancer) Ed O'Brien is also a known KoL fan. He played My Party on his portion of the Thumbs Down webcast last fall, and was quoted in the NME saying:
I don't get jealous when I see other bands, but when I see them I think, 'Man, I'd love to be in that band'. They're young...they remind me of... the Bunnymen or something like that. They're growing, they're evolving...They're amazing players, the drummer, he's amazing. They're all great but he's really special.
Nice to have fans like that!

Watch them play new song Sex on Fire for the first time ever at All Points West, Jersey City, NJ, 8/9/200

MP3 Kings of Leon - On Call (from 2007's Because of the Times)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Radiohead - Reckoner and No Surprises live at All Points West

This is great because it's the opening number so you can hear the tension in the crowd before they come on.

Night two was even better. I can hardly believe I'm saying that as we got How to Disappear, Climbing up the Walls, Lucky and Street Spirit the first night, but the second night we got Fake Plastic Trees, The Bends, Exit Music and No Surprises. I'm so glad I saw both shows (full setlists for both nights here).

The funny list of things you couldn't bring into the festival:

NO Instruments
NO Knives / Weapons Etc.
NO Chains / Chain Wallets
NO Blankets
NO Outside Food & Bev
NO Camelpacks
NO Tents
NO Fireworks
NO Flags
NO Refunds Or Exchanges
NO Chairs
NO Video Cameras
NO Audio Recording Devices
NO Bota Bags
NO Professional Cameras
NO Stuffed Animals (???)
NO Pets
NO Drugs & Drug Paraphernalia (people must have had all the weed in their shoes, because it was very 420-friendly inside)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Radiohead - Paranoid Android live at All Points West

Well what can you say. I mean, they just KILL. Great setlist, and I imagine we'll get Karma Police and Fake Plastic Trees tonight. Main set ended with How to Disappear Completely, my fav Radiohead song of all time. Excellent versions of Jigsaw and Bodysnatchers (I was actually afraid for Jonny, he didn't seem to be wearing his customary brace on his right arm and he was BRUTALIZING his guitar). Here's Paranoid Android which gives you a good taste of the well-deserved hysteria.

We're off in 45 minutes to do it again!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Radiohead - Fake Plastic Trees live in Montreal

They're HERE!!! We leave for Jersey City in ONE HOUR!!! Here they are doing a golden oldie (1995) in Montreal two nights ago. SO EXCITED!!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sigur Rós Live at MOMA

I told myself I wasn't going to cry but in fact I didn't make it past the first few notes of Svefn-g-englar (the opening song) without tearing up. What IS IT about this band? Absolutely phenomenal. Cool poster for the event, too. They basically did a "greatest hits" set (with the exception of Vaka), sharing the makeshift stage with Auguste Rodin's Honoré de Balzac. Amazing. (Video contains some cool backstage footage but not all the songs played).

se lest
ny batteri
vid spilum endalaust
med blodnasir
vidrar vel til loftarasa
inni mer syngur vitleysingur
olsen olsen
iceland's national anthem (it was Iceland's independence day)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ratatat - Shiller

This Brooklyn-based duo makes moody instrumentals you can dance to. When Drowned in Sound asked why they didn't give their third album a more creative name, they responded "Would you prefer something like Viva La Vida? In Rainbows? Personally, I think we nailed it. ."

MP3 Ratatat - Shiller (from 2008's LP3)