Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dan Deacon @ the Troubadour

Dan Deacon is one of the most frustrating musicians out right now. This isn't because he is not talented, on the contrary I think he has both the ability and potential to release a great album. But he decides to produce music that is so unnecessarily cluttered that it becomes unlistenable. He manages to cram so many instruments and sounds into each beat that if he tried to place another *zip* or *ding* into the song your stereo would blow up.

So why did I got to his show? The first is because the show was advertised as "Dan Deacon + 13 Piece Ensemble." I thought it would be cool to see how this many musicians would pull off all of the layered sounds from the album. The second is because of how many people have claimed he is "amazing" live. Unbelievable! He sets up his equipment in the crowd and gets everyone riled up! But as the show went on I realized these are the two fundamental reasons why I don't like Dan Deacon.

So I made the weekday trek to the Troubadour to see if it was worth the hype. This is what I got:

I'm not going to shit on Dan because he's old and fat and bald. Only the second he can control. But there's another problem here. Dan is approaching his 30s and he appeals to young teens that shop at Urban Outfitters. I think this says a lot. Back to the show for a second.

After Futures Islands played their excellent opening set, Dan and co proceeded to set up their equipment and sound check. Dan was pretty aggressive when setting up, demanding things from his band mates, and they didn't seem too pleased. They didn't appreciate being told what to do, but of course were polite and abided.

Now on to his 13 piece ensemble. There was a wind instrumentalist, who played flute and saxophone, but you could not hear him at all. Then there were the 3 drummers, while talented, at least 1 was unnecessary (many times they were playing the same beat over each other). There were 2 bass players, I have no idea why. And the 3 xylophone/glockenspiel players were so mixed with each other that you could barely make out the melodies.

Let's take an abridged version of this band, down to 5, and I doubt anyone would have noticed the difference. In fact I would argue that the music would have sounded better. The same way that I would argue that the music on his albums would sound better if there was less going on.

Dan set up his stage in the middle of the crowd as usual. Throughout the show he did his typical gimmicks to get the crowd into the show, including pushing people to dance and cracking jokes here and there. So he got the teenage crowd pretty riled up, and they began to "pogo," a term coined in the 70s describing when young teens jump up and down incessantly like a pogo stick.

This pogoing got pretty aggressive to the point where I would almost call it a youthful hipster indie mash pit. Imagine that for a second. The pushing then got so intense that Dan had to say something in between songs. "Stop pushing, this is my life's work up here and if you keep pushing you're going to destroy it. I'll stop the show. This isn't a Pearl Jam or Rancid concert." I thought that that was really funny at the time, but the next day I thought about it more and realized how ridiculous this statement is.

If Dan is going to write music that inherently gets you pumped up, and then verbally encourage you to dance and go crazy during the show, then he can't complain that people are going to wreck his equipment because he sets it up in the middle of the crowd. There's a reason there is a stage, and he needs to make a decision. Either play softer shit or set your stuff up where you are supposed to.

Moreover, he said this in a joking fashion, but I sensed some seriousness to it. He seems fed up, this gimmick is getting old. He is getting old. He's been touring for weeks and doing this for years and he's had enough.

Want to know what I think? Dan Deacon needs to come down to earth and use his musical ability, which as I said I think is exceptional, to release a listenable album. And he needs to play his instruements where is is supposed to--on the stage. He can't keep this up forever. You can see through this shit, live or not, and all these kids will someday too when they begin to listen to things that they actually like rather than what others tell them is "cool."

My friend from work Josh Frankfort, who is a big fan of Bromst, asked me the next day what I thought of the show. I said, "I would have had a good time if I was 16 and I was drunk." Emphasis needed on the 'and.'

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Future Islands @ the Troubadour

I went to see Dan Deacon last night at the Troubadour and was blown away by the opening band, Future Islands. I'll start my first round of posts about last night with this group of musicians.

Future Islands are a synth pop band based out of Baltimore that I had previously not heard about before going to the show. Three guys, a drum machine / synth / keyboardist, a bass player, and the lead singer. When they stepped on the stage my friend Sabrina and I had no idea what to expect. For a second we thought it was going to be lame.

But this lead singer immediately tore the place apart. His powerful voice and body gestures, call them spazzes or what not, got everyone moving, and he was hands down intoxicating. He was completely into the music, singing and dancing and throwing the mic, fully animated.

Many times his voice reminded of Tom Waits, or other blues singers, projecting from the bottom of the throat, pushing all the air out of the body through the verse, then having to catch a breath. I don't think I've seen someone sweat so much during a show.

So I picked up their newest single and their one album and have been addicted to it for the past day. While I am not as big of a fan of the outright upbeat pop songs, even though his voice still projects perfectly, the album as a whole is worthwhile. There are two songs which are stunningly powerful:

Heart Grows Old - Future Island

Little Dreamer - Future Island

Here is a video of a song from the show, which unfortunately I can't find on their MySpace or on the albums I bought. Even though it was not their best of the night, it still gives a good idea for how excellent performers these guys are.

I'll talk about Mr Deacon another time.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Happy Record Store Day!

I hope you made it out to your favorite record store today as they probably had events and new music and great deals. Here are some of my purchases:

Radiohead - My Iron Lung EP

So we all know Capitol has been raping and pillaging their material, but it's ok with me if they are re-releasing great EPs like this one, on vinyl. A great example of how many great songs came out of their recording sessions. The 3 extras didn't make the Bends. While I can understand this, considering every song on the album is incredible, just imagine if any other band released these B-sides. I guess it's not fair to compare anyone else's music to Radiohead tho...

All of their EPs were released for record store day so if you have the chance to pick some of these up I highly recommend!

Lozenge Of Love - Radiohead

Talking Heads - st

1977, one of the great years in music, one of the highlights of that year. And let's face it the Talking Heads brought the 80s (and much of the 90s and 00s), David Byrne and co lead the way. It all started here. Simply a classic, I'm very glad they re-released this album on vinyl for this holiday.

Psycho Killer (Remastered Album Version ) - Talking Heads

Jay Reatard / Sonic Youth 7" - Hang them All / No Garage

Limited edition 7" from Matador, I got the last one. Jay Reatard is the best punk band out right now. Sonic Youth. Can't post a song because it's brand new and I can't import it from plastic.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tunes of the moment

So let's add 3 to my list.


I'm late on this one, I know. I picked up their most recent lp and it somehow was exactly the record I was looking for. Stark funk/rock/electro/punk, the elements of each song build on one another, very layered and easy to rock out to. Sharp. I'm glad they're from LA, going to have to catch them after this European tour.

Triceratops (CFCF remix final version) - HEALTH

Two Door Cinema Club

Guilty pleasure, super catchy.

Quiet Village - Silent Movie

This is one of those albums that got passed up in 2008 but music snobs will find it and will remember it. Another collection of subtle samples, dreamy beats, and gorgeous melodies. Can be suited for a day at work or while you read a book or to a vivid scene in a movie, or whatever you fancy. Excellent album altogether, flows from beginning to end.

lp / cd is out of print (licensing reasons?) so get it quickly if you can.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

no Wavves @ the Echo

Missed the show last night because of illness.

All reviews said it was excellent, my friend that went said it was fantastic. I'm really bummed. Going to have to see them next time around.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

the Pixies

I was introduced to the Pixies by too many people. At the time I started my journey into music the Pixies had pretty much laid the groundwork for everyone. Every band I loved mentioned the Pixies as an influence. Every music lover I knew mentioned the Pixies as one of their favorite bands. So was it difficult?

As an amateur, music like this hurts the ear. It's not polished, it's not fine. It's raw. And, most importantly, it's different. I didn't love it at first but somehow I knew it was brilliant and after that third listen it hit me. The stark guitar lines, pounding drums, yelping Francis, charming Deal, in one gorgeous form of artistic rock.

the Pixies took my journey to finding good music in a whole new direction. They were the first that allowed me to accept and furthermore seek out more unpolished bands. I'm sure every music lover has that one band that made them love more raw types of rock and roll. the Velvet Underground? late Rolling Stones? the Clash? the Sex Pistols? the Replacements? I don't know... Mine started here.

Like all great bands, they defined much of the sound of their time. They didn't sound like anything before them and brewed a wave of music after them. That is fucking epic. Do you know how hard that is to do? Neither do I.

It was only fitting that my High School life culminated with Coachella back in 2004, where the Pixies reunited and played to a crowd of 50,000 people screaming and cheering and loving every minute of it. Could they have filled a show that large back before they broke up? Probably not, but that's the beauty of art and influence.

That was one of the best nights of my life.

Hey - Pixies

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Leonard Cohen @ Nokia Theater

"The last time I was here was 15 years ago. I was 60 years old, young and full of dreams."

I was extremely surprised by this statement. He's 75. He should be, I don't know, doing what 75 year old people do. But he's touring the US, and then the world, and doing it as you would almost expect from one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time.

Leonard Cohen managed to captivate a crowd of 7,100 people for over 3 hours. He did not look tired, he did not look old. He just sang his songs, played his guitar, cracked jokes in dry humor, and hopped on and off the stage with stride. He had energy and charisma, and put on a spectacular show.

My father, who accompanied me to the show, always said that he is the one singer from that time period that has not lost his voice. I was skeptical of this statement, because of his age, and was proven wrong. Although he projects his voice as he did with most of his 80s work, many years have passed and he still sounds flawless.

The band was excellent as well, a full ensemble of accomplished musicians, all in their middle ages and to say the least professionals. You could tell they each had been playing their respective instruments for at least 30 years. Impeccable support and great solo work, my highlights include the classical guitar player and the musician playing multiple wind instruments.

Unfortunately we were told not to record shortly after we started. Hopefully this gives you a good idea of how solid Leonard's 75 year old voice sounds:

Shows like this give me hope.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ratatat @ the Palladium

I spent the Sat night at the Palladium, what a crappy venue. Terrible design, way too spread out and flat. I felt like I was at a High School dance.

The funny thing is the staff searches you down to MAKE SURE you don't have cameras/recorders, so I stepped to the side and put my camera in my shoe, and got it in without a problem.

Anyways, Ratatat put on a great show as always, here are highlights:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Avalanches - Since I Left You

This is a modern classic, every listen unveils new details, rhythms, melodies, samples, and other subtle surprises. One of those albums that only comes around every 10 years. Or ever.

I've revisited this recently and have introduced it to 2 people in the past week, one a fan of electronic and one a fan of hip hop. They both loved it, both said it is brilliant. I obviously agree.

I can't post one song, so here's the whole album.

Pitchfork broke my heart

Just kidding. But seriously:

I'm glad he enjoyed FIYA at least. I guess I will have to judge for myself when the lp comes in the mail in 2 weeks.