December 18, 2008

Dan Le Sac makes a free mixtape for you

In the holly jolly spirit of giving (note to self: start Christmas shopping), the first half of Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip has posted a third installment of his popular, hip-shaking mixtapes over on his blog. You might also call them remixtapes. Check these samples:

Joy Division – Leaders of Men (dan le sac RFL 2002 mix)
Elastica – Connection (dan le sac not connected mix)

I especially like what he did to the Joy Division, and really darling — it’s been too long since you’ve gutturally “OOOOOOh”d along with Elastica. See the full tracklist and get the download link here.

[pic from Monolith 2008]

September 21, 2008

Monolith :: Sunday rocks us on so many levels

On the second day of its second year, Monolith solidified its place as a festival to be reckoned with. Also, Jesus took the stage in a glowing cloud of blue light — oh wait, no that’s Band of Horses. Close to divine.

Although the attendance this year was a ways from capacity, Monolith is still one of the better festivals I’ve been to recently, with its diverse lineup of acts –from hip hop to acoustic indie, cock rock to electronica– and gorgeous Colorado scenery. Maybe it’s just our mountain air but everyone seemed to be in a good mood. Each time slot had at least one band I wanted to see, usually three or sometimes four. I could live the festival through another few rounds (with permission from my liver, of course) in order to see all the acts I missed. Kudos all around this year on a solid festival well done.

If Monolith returns in ’09, I still hold onto the hope that they can bribe somebody from the Dept of Parks and Wildlife or whatever, and find a way to incorporate camping on some of the rolling land stretching out around Red Rocks (what a gorgeous location, right?) to make it more of a destination festival, like Coachella. Staying six miles down the highway at the Sheraton West was nice but not quite the same.

So Sunday — armed with Chipotle and some parking lot libations — we rolled in for day two of the festival. After braving the unseasonably nasty elements the night before, we were pleased to see gorgeous skies again that this time stayed all day. The remnants of summer were the perfect backdrop to the sunny music of Pomegranates, the first whole set I caught on Sunday.

Pomegranates sound at once epic and approachable — music that demands you take notice but in such a chiming, iridescent way. Over sugary flourishes, their multilayered percussion built and anticipated then crashed down in avalanches of catharsis. I loved their set. WOXY sponsored their stage, and also loves them; check a full live Lounge Act set here.

Appreciations – Pomegranates

I heard the hard-driving scowl and Southern rock of American Bang reverberating through a wall and tentatively opened the door to see who was playing. I was summarily knocked flat; theirs was one of those sets you happen upon and everyone walks out saying, “Who WAS that?!” Kings of Leon comparisons are easy (before KOL got all clean cut and pretty) with their Nashville roots, classic rock swagger, screams and skinny jeans. It’s stuff to play loud from your 1970 Chevelle while you drive to get tickets for the Aerosmith show, and it was great.

The Stones – American Bang

Tokyo Police Club played at the mid-afternoon mark, and the kids from Saddle Creek seemed competent on the large stage and unrestrained in their delight. I always think I hear a smile in Dave Monks’ voice on this song, and you can see it in the pictures below.

Tessellate – Tokyo Police Club

For the final song of the Avett Brothers‘ sundrenched set on Sunday aftenoon, bassist Bob Crawford laid aside the gorgeous baroque curves of his golden standup bass and picked up an electric guitar. As the band raged and thrashed their sweaty bodies through that final song, a sort of transliteration hit me. The electric guitar personified the same sentiment of outright rock that their whole set had spoken, but in the language of things like banjos.

Moreso than the first time I saw them a few weeks ago, this set was gutting to me. I kept finding myself riveted by a wry twist of lyric in a song that was new to me, or marvelling at how their voices blended, cooperated, and fought in the way that only brothers can. Their set caught the attention of the casual listeners and the unfamiliar — even the gruff security guard down in the photo pit. I noticed him listening intently, and then forsaking his post to turn around and gape as they launched into “Die, Die, Die.” He pressed me for all the details I knew about them and actually took notes. I think a lot of folks walked away with a desire to seek out more.

The Avetts have recently spent a few weeks in the studio with producer Rick Rubin for a new album due out in the Spring. They played one of those new songs, a sweet and simple tune called “Standing With You.” When I heard it last week I was struck by the lyric, “So many nights go by like a flash, from a camera without any film” — so much so that I typed it into my phone as a memo. Maybe I took a shine to it because I have a horrible memory. But I was pleased to find this video [via] and I ripped the tune for now (so I won’t forget):

Standing With You (live at Monolith) – The Avett Brothers

With my head spinning from the Avetts, I climbed the 472 stairs to see the talent show spectacle of
Tilly And The Wall. Their set was infectiously amazing fun because they have a tap-dancer as percussionist, don’t ya know. I never learned tap dance, but if I had, this is precisely the band I would want to be in.

Bessa – Tilly And The Wall

I only caught the tail end of the set from sexy London garage punk duo The Kills, but as I wedged myself into the area between the edge of the stage, some scaffolding, and various amps to try and get a few good pics while I enjoyed their sounds, Jamie Hince spotted me and directed a little bit of his rock god energy my way. Blending equal parts Bowie and PJ Harvey with that clear White Stripes energy, I was impressed.

Ura Fever – The Kills

Band of Horses was seriously meant to play a venue like Red Rocks. Along with recent groups like My Morning Jacket who have sent their majestic songs cascading through the oxygenless air to rain down upon the happy masses, Ben Bridwell’s haunting high tenor sounded flawless, the band powerful in that setting.

The Funeral (live on KEXP) – Band of Horses

Airborne Toxic Event has been busy in the week since Monolith, defending their art to the soulcrushers at Pitchfork, but at the show I saw they were single-mindedly focused on bringing their songs to life. They played on one of the smallest stages Monolith had to offer and packed it in — imagine the swells of this immense and cinematic song bouncing off the wall of red rock in that underground cubbyhole. Is it just me, or is this a great song? “You just have to see her; you know that she’ll break you in two.”

Sometime Around Midnight – Airborne Toxic Event

After Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip impressed the heck out of me at Coachella, I told everyone who was undecided in the late afternoon that their set was the one to see. With their intelligent and literate songcraft mixed with can’t-sit-still beats, I wasn’t disappointed this time either. Theirs was the single most crowded show I saw on the WOXY stage. There were two entrances into the hallway pitstop where the stage was wedged, and both doors had a line 20-30 people deep trying to get in to hear them. Deservedly so.

Thou Shalt Always Kill – Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip
(the original version, which I like better than the cut that made the album)

Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS) was in their element headlining the second stage in the gusty September wind while the tightly-packed crowd danced under the stars. They sounded fantastic and fun, although I must say that Lovefoxx kind of confused me with that fluffy thing that maybe she borrowed from Bjork. By that point in the night it is good to know that Matt Picasso and I were on the same page; he wrote about the “poofiness that defied gravity” and admitted “while I should’ve probably been focused on how great they sounded, I kept thinking ‘wow, that Christmas tree thing is amazing.’” I’m so right there with you buddy. But the best thing was that watching her dance in it made me want to dance too. Which I suppose is the point.

Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex (Switch feat Mapei Mix) – Cansei De Ser Sexy

Finally, after a full day of marvelous music, French electronica duo Justice took the stage with what can only be described as massively imposing stage presence. As Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay peeked over the top of a gigantic stack of amps and blinking machines, behind their trademark glowing cross, the crowd prepared to dance. They unleashed a visceral, hedonistic crush of danceable sound (despite a few sound problems that broke up the set early on). It was a rather epic ending to an epic weekend.

DVNO – Justice

All the rest of the pics from Sunday: Part One, Part Two

Saturday’s review
Friday’s Opening Night Party

April 29, 2008

Coachella, let’s go again (Day One)

Ah, Coachella, you winsome siren.

That festival is going to beckon to me annually after the amazing experience I’ve had over this past weekend. Even with a lineup that some declared “not as strong” compared to past years, I had such a full schedule and was extremely pleased with almost every show I went to. In fact, as I scroll through the schedule now that it’s over, I feel actual pain at the shows I meant to go to and completely missed. It all felt like a well-organized little technicolor city with oases of coolness and mist and fun around every corner, worlds apart from the everyday world. The variety of music represented was truly terrific and non-stop. And I am now in love with the Coachella tacos, two for $4! It just doesn’t get much better.

The first really awesome set of the festival for me on Friday was the Black Kids. They were fun and having fun, they sounded terrific — like the Cure filtered through a little bit of a danceathon soundtrack – plus they can really play. I felt an immense sense of kinship to see all these other kids counting off “1! 2! 3! 4!!” in unison for a band that’s gained 90% of their buzz through blogs:

THE BLACK KIDS: “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You” (live at Coachella 2008)

Yeah, like that.

After the Black Kids I heard the jarring strains of Slightly Stoopid covering old Nirvana wafting across the open field to me (no!!) and then headed to the press tent for this pleasant surprise:

Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip then turned in an electrifying, stimulating, clever, fresh set over in the Gobi Tent to another packed audience. I can’t get enough of the way Pip rolls around his words into these sentences that you think aren’t gonna flow back together, and then he pulls it off with panache and wit. The beats shook that tent to its stakes. Can’t wait to see them again at Monolith:

A clamorous and multi-instrumental set from Architecture in Helsinki (not from Helsinki mind you but Australia) also popped up that afternoon. AIH were the first folks of the fest to be sporting the very popular yet really awful ’80s fluorescent fashion alongside the kind of brightly colored sunglasses you know I had in the eighth grade.

Vampire Weekend! Hugely anticipated set that delivered what I had come to see. Crest of hipness or over it, these guys know how to write an infectiously catchy yet distinctively African-infused pop song. More seriously questionable ’80s fashion, this of the preppy variety (those shorts?!), and one of my personal favorite pics I managed to snap:

And then as the golden sun began to slide behind the palm trees, and that perfect light hovered over the lawn and wrapped itself around the stage, The National took their places for a set that I was almost intimidated to see. I’d been looking forward to seeing them live for so many months here, and with so much ferocity that I almost couldn’t abide. No screaming or fainting on my part, but I’d be lying if I said my heart wasn’t a bit fluttery. Their music is so richly, deeply gorgeous with lyrics that drip poetry and a flawless way of phrasing things I’ve always thought but never said. The National carved something out of me and put something back in is the best way I can put it. Their set ended too soon for me, but it seemed like magic in the desert when that sun hit the mirrorball above their heads and splayed the crowd with dancing light.

Unfortunately the steep price extracted to see the National was missing about half of the Raconteurs and all my pictures were crap. What I saw was scorching as expected and led to a conversation about Jack White’s exceptionally impressive guitar skills and how Brendan Benson is always better than we remember to give him credit for.

Then another pinnacle on a day filled with greatness – The Verve! Seeing the re-formed Verve was treat enough but did anyone really expect them to sound this tight? After Richard Ashcroft famously declared, “There’s more chance of getting all four Beatles on stage together than a Verve reunion,” there they were.

From the opening notes of “This Is Music” followed by “Space and Time” and then my much-beloved “Sonnet” — it really did all sound like a sonnet, my love. Their set was one treat after another, with the newish song “Sit and Wonder” which had been played on the UK shows, and a brand new song that veered off into rave-worthy dance territory called “Love is Noise.” It was the epic seven-minute closer:

Love Is Noise (new song, live in San Francisco 4-23-08) – The Verve

But before Love is Noise was unleashed on us, the true culmination of their set came for me with that Stones-string-sampling wonder that is “Bittersweet Symphony.” This was a moment that will live on in shiver-inducing concert history for me — check that break, that crashing like a wave, all the fists pumping together across the crest:

THE VERVE: Bittersweet Symphony (live at Coachella)

Now, Jack Johnson is so affable and warm and relaxing that I’ll admit to falling out of the game for his set. After the Verve I just felt drained and exuberant and didn’t give ole Jack my undivided. But Mason Jennings joined him for a new song “I Love You and Buddha Too,” as did Matt Costa for “Let It Be Sung,” a tune off the eclectic Brokedown Melody soundtrack.

The effects of running on Heineken and funnel cake for a weekend are catching up with me in force tonight and I am going to tuck it in for the evening with the sun setting on Day One. We got two more days to cover, kids. What a fantastic, halcyon Friday.

January 28, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

Well for pete’s sake. GO SEE U2 3D.

That was the absolute coolest thing since, well, since Captain E.O. (sorry MJ). I had a huge silly smile plastered across my face for at least the whole first song, barely able to breathe but not realizing I was holding my breath.

From superclose Bono yelling the opening count-off of Vertigo (in that creative Spanish), you feel like you’re inches from the real live sweating tiny mofo. You can see the limber flex and vibration of Adam Clayton’s bass strings as he plucks them, you can count the freckles on the Edge’s arms while he nails a killer solo. You hover over the stage like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, looking over Larry Mullen Jr’s shoulders while he beats out his robot-hybrid beats from an impossible vantage point. I almost felt like I would knock over the mike stand sometimes, or get hit in the face with Edge’s guitar (I wouldn’t mind). The gliding shots over the enthusiastic Latin-American crowds were also like something out of a flying dream. It was mindblowing in the childlike wonder it instilled in a whole audience at once.

You also get to wear extremely fashionable glasses that are worth at least five minutes of pre-show entertainment.

I know it must be expensive to everyone but U2 to make a movie like this, but with technology that lets Bono kneel on the side of the stage, draw in the air with his fingertip, and create a hovering light-trail image floating inches from your face, well heck . . . I wish every band I loved would do this so I could get closer than close for only $9.

Music this week!

Don’t Ever Do That Again
Golden Shoulders

There’s a snaking, crunchy opening riff that sucks you into this smart song from CA Gold-Rush-country band Golden Shoulders. Originally released in 2005, the Friendship Is Deep album is seeing the light of re-issue; when it first came out, British tastemaker Mojo magazine wrote that they were “grungy slackers catching up on ‘Rubber Soul’ pop.” The drawl in the delivery hearkens that for me, but I also hear a good echo of Fuel-favorite Cake (whose former drummer Todd Roper is featured on this album), and also that riff from that Weezer-side-project tune “American Girls.” It’s a pleasing mishmash of influences that sounds addictively fresh and ready for adventures.

The Hands

There’s something slightly off and unnerving in the melody and rhythm here from the Pacific Northwest band The Hands – just a half-second syncopated, or too fast. Either way, it feels like about seven cups of coffee in the morning (thank god I’m back on the stuff after my successful vegan detox week) — all jittery and yowling, but anchored by a more classic rockin’ feel with those Jaggeresque vocals. An exciting combination, I want to keep replaying the opening notes to figure out what’s going on there in those first thirty seconds. The self-titled album is out February 19th on Selector Sound, and wisely features, well, a hand on the front.

Dancing For No One
Hello Stranger

For a song released in 2006, this has a borderline guilty-pleasure tinge of sounding like something I would have liked in the ’80s, but better. Hello Stranger is a band from Los Angeles [previous post] fronted by tall red-boot-wearing Juliette Commagere and featuring Ry Cooder’s son Joachim. They sounds a little like Blondie, a little punk, and a lot like something that you want to sing along with. Indie film fans might recognize this song from the excellent and quirky Lars and The Real Girl. Hello Stranger has toured with Kings of Leon, Rooney, and looks like they’re opening some Foo Fighters shows in the coming weeks. Their 2006 self-titled album is out on Aeronaut Records, and they are currently back in the studio working on new material.

Be Not So Fearful (Bill Fay)
Jeff Tweedy

I remember hearing this song memorably used in the Wilco I Am Trying To Break Your Heart documentary and then having to seek out a live version of it for my collection. This is a cover of a folk song by British musician Bill Fay, and feels so perfect in its simplicity. It’s almost a benediction, this telling of “Be not so fearful, be not so pale / Someone watches you, you won’t leave the rails.” It’s heartening and lovely, one of my favorite acoustic Tweedy covers, something I’ve been listening to a lot lately.

Love Ya
Paloma Faith

I read about Londoner Paloma Faith on this blog while I was looking up SF show information, they mentioned she had “a Billie Holliday voice and a Betty Page look.” Retro is so hot right now — I can always dig more of this Amy Winehouse vibe, with less of the self-destruction. While on Paloma’s MySpace page I was also excited to see that she had a cameo in that other fantastic Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip video, “The Beat That My Heart Skipped.” Since I always like watching this dude rhyme, enunciate, and gesticulate (like he will be doing at Coachella!) watch Paloma shake her thing here:

[UK download]

BONUS MONDAY TIMEWASTER: Try the addictive Traveler IQ Challenge. I am on a mission to beat my somewhat shameful Level 6 (and my friend, who clearly must have cheated and got Level 12).

November 30, 2007

Dan le Sac hits Colorado; will bring Scroobius Pip

Somehow Colorado made the top list of only 4 U.S. cities that Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip are hitting in December (full dates below). I find this unclassifiable duo from London to be nothing short of intriguing, and I will eagerly go to their show if only for a much-needed change of pace — “Thou shalt not make repetitive, generic music” indeed.

Even though it’s been seven months since I first posted their video for “Thou Shalt Always Kill” (dubbed by NME as their Track of the Year despite the fact that the song slams their fine publication), I’m not even close to sick of watching it yet:

The other day I was putting the Nestle Coffeemate creamer (my weakness, my vice, my morning requirement) back in the fridge and I swear I near-audibly heard the voice of the Scroobius Pip dude like a celestial conscience saying, “Thou shalt not buy Nestle products.” Thing is, I know he’s right, I believe I read that their stance against Nestle stems from unethical formula-promotion campaigns that harm breastfeeding and public health/infant mortality in developing countries for the sake of profit, so we are on the same page with that travesty. But I still like my Toffee Nut creamer. And I have a feeling that that, in a nutshell, is why this civilization is going to hell.

Thou Shalt Always Kill – Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip

Nov 30 – EKKO, Holland
Dec 1 – Clash, Holland
Dec 2 – Rotown, Holland
Dec 5 – Bumper, Liverpool
Dec 6 – The Aftershow @ Sankeys Soap, Manchester
Dec 13 – Supreme Trading, New York, NY
Dec 14 – Mercury Lounge, New York, NY
Dec 15 – Fox Theatre, Boulder, CO
Dec 16 – The Belly Up Aspen, Aspen, CO
Dec 17 – Spaceland, Los Angeles, CA
Dec 18 – Dim Mak Tuesdays @ Cinespace, Los Angeles, CA
Dec 21 – Filter Magazine Xmas Show @ Camden Barfly, London
Jan 19 – Out to Lunch mini-festival @ The Black Box, Belfast
Jan 26 – XFM Spiced @ Glasgow Box, Glasgow
Feb 8 – Marignan, Brussels

September 10, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

I was so happy to finally seize summer by the . . . horns (I started a metaphor I can’t finish) this weekend and go camping out in the Colorado wild. Well, as wild as you can get being twenty minutes from downtown Denver, but still — camping is something I’ve been meaning to do the last few summers and it just never seemed to happen until now. There were actual tents and campfires involved, and I couldn’t be happier. And really who knew that s’mores and beer went so well together?

So much awesomeness in less than 24 hours (ah yes, the short, wimpy kind of camping): I inadvertently melted the soles of my black flipflops by resting my feet on the firepit all night, got to see a gorgeously unobstructed sunset, and I’m not even kidding our tent got loosely surrounded by a yipping pack of passing coyotes around 3am — a bit eerie, but rad.

We didn’t try to bring any tunes camping, but if we had we would have first and foremost listened to Creedence (my favorite camping music) and secondly perhaps to some of these fine selections for the week:

Earl Greyhound

This was another must-see recommendation to me from several different folks who caught blistering Brooklyn trio Earl Greyhound at the XPoNential Music Fest in Philly this past summer. Their influences range from the immediate swagger of Led Zeppelin (you can certainly hear the “Black Dog” echoes here) to The Beatles (on gentler songs like “Good”) and all kinds of Seventies jams in between. Guitarist Matt Whyte yowls and howls, sharing vocal duties with foxy lady bassist Kamara Thomas, while Ricc Sheridan kills it on the drums. They are coming to Monolith this weekend at Red Rocks — sign me up for a good seat Saturday night. Their album Soft Targets is available now.

The Girl (Beck remix)
Dr. Dog

Speaking of Philly, Dr. Dog is currently one of the absolute finest exports of the city of brotherly love. Their MySpace says they are “interested in three-part harmonies, the out-of-doors, soya rotis, baking bread and diminished chords.” Sounds good to me, as does their 2007 album We All Belong. This is a remix from the upcoming single of “The Girl” — Some Velvet Blog loves Dr. Dog and has the original tune here, if you are interested in hearing what it sounded like before Tiny Beck got his wildly creative hands on it. The Girl 7″ will be released in limited quantities in October and will be free at independent record stores when you buy Easy Beat or We All Belong. The flip side will feature their ace remix of “Heart it Races” by Architecture in Helsinki (go listen on their MySpace). Dr. Dog are currently on tour with and without Wilco.

Riot Radio
Dead 60s

I first posted this machine-gun dancehall punk delight waaaay back when I had 12 readers, after seeing The Dead 60s open for Social Distortion at the Gothic Theatre in November 2005. They put on a great, energetic show and I can definitely hear that someone has been listening to a lot of The Clash and The Specials, which aren’t bad influences to have. This bright-eyed foursome from Liverpool is back with some new stuff this week (check it out on their MySpace), and they just announced that they’ll be supporting Ash (is this the end of the world?) on their upcoming Fall tour.

You Don’t Wanna Leave
Mike Mangione

This warm and rootsy song from Chicago+Milwaukee singer/songwriter Mike Mangione could be the perfect tune for the impending autumn weather. Its honey richness sticks in your head, and made me smile from the moment I first heard the opening melody. The acoustic playfulness reminds me a bit of Van Morrison, and is recommended for fans of the literate alt-county of Rocky Votolato, or even the catchy pop hooks of Rob Thomas, believe it or not. Tenebrae is the Latin word for darkness, and it’s also the title of his newest release, which can be streamed in full over on his website.

The Beat That My Heart Skipped
Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip
This is the song I am most giddy about today, because it’s so much fun. I’ve written about this Essex, England duo with the odd name before – remember that fantastic video for “Thou Shalt Always Kill”? Yeah, I watched that about a dozen times in one day; I find the contrast of the literate words, the hip-propelling beats, surreal video art direction, and the appearance that the guy could possibly be a traditional old-school Hasidic Jewish man (he’s not, he’s just rockin the beard as far as I know) to be irresistibly interesting. This new song starts out like something Ben Harper would conjure up, and sounds even better while watching the video:

[UK download]

April 12, 2007

Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip? Disregard that perplexing band name, watch this fantastic video

I found this to be immensely entertaining this morning over on Bruce’s site. I’m glad I clicked “play” on the video (which, at first, I thought was a video of Fidel Castro rapping, but sounds like The Streets with some even-more-clever lyrics). Read the full lyrics and download the mp3 on Some Velvet Blog.


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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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