Monday, December 18, 2006

Scissor Sisters + Germans = Hilarity

This doesn't really need much introduction, I'd just point out that the Wetten Dass host might be the funniest man with a curly mullet ever to walk the earth.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Clap

Two bad titles in a row!

Short post to notify ya'll that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has revealed that their new album will be available January 30th. It's called Some Loud Thunder and will only be available via download from their website.

A few songs from the album are currently streaming on their website or myspace. Thus far there's:

- Love Song No 7 - an experimental-ish piano ballad.
- Underwater You And Me - a song that's got a scratchier but more refined sound than their material on their first album, really likable.
- Satan Said Dance - a treatful track that they've been playing at shows for quite some time. Nothing like hearing hundreds of people chant Satan multiple times in a smokey concert space. Holla!

Check them out on the CYHSY website here or on myspace.

Do you like it hard or soft?

I just read this title and realized I'll probably get pegged as some weirdo but anyhoo, it's relevant because I just read "The Dive From Clausen's Pier" by Ann Packer and in it is a passage that made me think a bit about music. To set it up for everyone, two characters are in the Museum of Modern Art - one is a young, naive newcomer to New York City, not quite schooled in the ways of the world, the other an older, more knowledgeable but not necessarily wiser city-dweller of many years. The older turns to the younger and embarks upon what he deems as his lecture on hard and soft art:

All art, whether painting, poetry, music, dance, or anything else, can be divided into two groups, hard and soft, and as pleasing as the soft is, the hard is always superior - it might as well be a rule of nature... Matisse and Picasso are just two of the most obvious examples. Think about Renoir: totally soft. Monet, Sisley - you could eat them with a spoon. Whereas Vermeer, who puts them to shame, has that incredible rigor. It's the same with music, with sculpture - I happen to love Beethoven, but he's romantic, he's soft, and for excruciating perfection you just can't beat Bach, because he's got that hard edge.

I kind of surprised myself by how much I liked this passage, and especially when it pertains to music. I would never dare to argue that soft music like Franz Ferdinand, Justin Timberlake, or Bloc Party are anything but thoroughly enjoyable - I consistently come back to certain soft favorites in my music tastes. But I would venture to say of the hard choices, the Thom Yorkes, The Arcade Fires, the Animal Collectives, the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the Les Savy Favs of the world - finding the great moments in songs from those artists is an amazingly rewarding experience. And unlike the quote from Clausen's Pier, I don't think it's the hard edge that makes them better, but perhaps the beautiful parts within the soft edge that make listening to them that much more gratifying and personal.

That was me waxing poetic. Enjoy...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Turning Japanese

Came across a new band not too long ago that has quickly become heavy in my November 2006 rotation: Tokyo Police Club. The band is quartet from Ontario, Canada and would fit somewhere on the spectrum between The Strokes and Les Savy Fav, but dancier (if that's a word).

The foursome are adept at using chirping guitar riffs, clapping hands and hilariously emo lyrics to create a wildly fun set of tracks that run you up and down the excitement scale. My favorite three tracks would definitely be "Citizens of Tomorrow", a tragic story of futuristic children being blown apart by robots but sung so sweetly that it's hard not to love, "Nature of the Experiment" where a heavy bass line floats the post-punk overtones, and "Shoulders and Arms" a perfect mish mash of the four artists at just the right decibel.

Their next shows are in the midwest (doing a show in Chicago this week) but fingers crossed they'll swing back East Coast soon.

Their debut album is called A Lesson in Crime and Pitchfork gave it a 7.9.

Check them out at their website here or on myspace here.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Getting Funded By the Man

There was an interesting article this weekend in the NY Times Arts section about how indie bands from countries other than the U.S. are often funded by their governments. The premise is that the government provides cash to these bands to record and tour in the U.S. in an effort to market the country as a destination.

The main countries referenced were Denmark (The Figurines), Finland (Bloodpit), Sweden (The Hives), and New Zealand (Die! Die! Die!).

I personally was struck by how frequent these teeny tiny little acts across the world were avoiding becoming total starving artists because the goverment was fueling their creativity and passion through pure cash subsidies. The obvious question is: does it make your art different if you're working for the man? Remarkably though that did not come through as the major issue for any of the bands mentioned (minus The Hives, who seemed minorly irked by it). It's somewhat encouraging - if these countries can fund the arts - and mind you arts that don't exactly scream yay government! - is it possible for the U.S. to do the same? Music is one of our major imports, but why do only the bubble-gum popsters and none of the folks who are pushing the envelope get the notoriety?

Just a thought...

You can read the article from the Times here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

High Speed Mixing

So it's possible that since I've been so focused on Britpop and the like-punkness of many bands out there the past couple of years that I've missed a pretty big revisiting of mixing, DJing and turntables on the indie scene. Or perhaps it's been there all along and I just never noticed. Regardless thought I'd pass along to you guys a few different DJs and electronic artists that I've been listening to lately.

Cut Chemist
Cut Chemist is the stage name of Lucas MacFadden, a Hip Hop artist and DJ who's been on the scene for the past decade and worked with major names like Jurassic 5 and Unity Committee. As of Jurassic's last album MacFadden had parted with them (not sure on what terms) but he's since gone on to thoroughly explore his mixing abilities and release a full length album, "The Audience is Listening." Since it's release in July, the self titled single off the album has gone on to be featured in the most recent Apple nano ad (and if you've seen it, you know how catchy the song is).

Because Cut Chemist's roots are in Hip Hop his mixing is of course very beat heavy, with low toned lyrics and strong bass lines. He's got some strong LA routes and it looks to me like he's willing to dip into a lot of the music scene out there, remixing gloom rock's She Wants Revenge songs into his own (and in my opinion making them better).

Cut Chemist will be at Webster Hall in NY this Friday and is moving onto Philly and DC over the weekend. Find out more about him at his website or myspace page.

The Pinker Tones
So I must admit that my brother-in-law brought these guys to my attention a while ago but it wasn't until I saw them pop up on indiefeed and at CMJ Music Marathon that I took a second look. A mixing duo from Barcelona, The Pinker Tones are what you might find if you threw together Gorillaz and The Bee Gees - hilarious upbeat and easy to bop along to. Just like Cut Chemist clearly has influences in Hip Hop The Pinker Tones clearly grew up listening to pop music that spanned the 70s, 80s and especially the 90s, when C&C music factory was played so much it probably made my ears bleed. But from what I've heard these guys take the best of the aforementioned groups and turn it into viable dance songs, and apparently they've made it to #1 on the Spanish dance charts.

If you are looking for anything from dance themes to upbeat background music to something to go spinning to, these are your guys. Find them at their website or on myspace.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What it means to be a good live band

I've been soaking up some new music lately, as well as burning the candle at both ends, so today's post is just a quick reminder about what makes a really fantastic live band.

Monday night The Rapture came through New York, and I can guarantee you that not a single person in the 1,400 capacity venue Webster Hall without having danced extensively that evening.

The Rapture's phenonmenal "dance-punk" compositions are a treat to listen to recorded - but when live they just knock you right out of your seat.

Entering with "Heaven" taking the crowd into dance oblivion with "Get Myself In To It" and then climaxing with "House of Jealous Lovers" this show was probably one of my favorite all year long. The entire venue shook with excitement that resonated right off the band.

Over the past year I've found that there can be a whole host of reasons why bands don't convey themselves well live. They can be inexperienced (The Subject), be tour weary (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) or just become aloof from their material or fans (French Kicks). And so when rarely you're treated to a band that 1) is fresh on tour, 2) has honed their skills from 7 years of touring, 3) f*cking LOVES their material and their fans and 4) plays for people to DANCE it creates a phenomenally exciting experience.

That's what it was to see The Rapture on Monday night, and made only better by The Presets who warmed up the crowd with some fantastic and really original DJing.

I couldn't find a great video of The Rapture live, so below is one from YouTube of House Of Jealous lovers. Check it out and then imagine a packed house jumping up and down wildly to it - pretty cool.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Dance Sister Dance

So you all know how much I love the Scissor Sisters for their musical prowess and fantastic stage moves, but little did I know that they were interactive web geniuses as well.

If you go to you can insert pictures of you, your friends, or your idols and watch them dance to the Sisters' latest single "I don't feel like dancin".

For your viewing pleasure I've created one with the most popular person on the planet, David Hasselhoff.

Click here to see it.

**FYI, this video only has one Hoff in it, but you can create them with two different people, or two of the same person. Go crazy!**