December 29, 2009

“same jeans, same ole converse…”

converse - h

One nice thing about being known as a fan of the music is that friends give me mix CDs for Christmas. One that came from LA recently had this track on it and I loved it wholeheartedly from first listen. As is my modus operandi, I have listened to it on repeat a good two dozen times since Saturday night.

Cudderisback (featuring Vampire Weekend) – Kid CuDi

Kid CuDi is originally from Cleveland (not too far from where I took that pic above of my shoes) and has a thing for indie rock (MGMT and Ratatat are featured on his new album Man On The Moon). I like it.

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.

February 21, 2008

Black Dominoes remix of Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, and a Vampire Weekend prize pack

One listen to this catchy-as-all-get-out song is usually all it takes to have me whistling it for a large part of the day. I’m getting really good at it; someone should make the Heather Browne Whistle Remix.

Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (Black Dominoes remix)- Vampire Weekend

The guy who remixed this writes: “Black Dominoes is my new nome de remix and I gig out in the Southeast as Kellen John Kid Danger. I’ve shared bills with people like the Black Kids, DJ Klever, the Selmanaires, Flosstradamus, Treasure Fingers, Deerhunter, HR and Dr. Know from Bad Brains, the Black Lips, Snowden etc. I’m based in Atlanta but I actually just did a great gig this weekend at the 40 Watt Club in Athens.

I thickened up the original Vampire Weekend track with some Chico Sonido percussion and some beats jacked with the help of Blaqstarr and Diplo. The female MC is Rye Rye from Baltimore–I think her ‘response’ to the original Vampire Weekend verses add another dimension to the track.”

I love it.

In related news, Beggars Group/XL Recordings is giving away a prize package for this buzz album of 2008 that includes some cool Vampire Weekend schwag — a copy of the Mansard Roof 7″ single, an autographed poster, a scarf or hat, and best of all a pair of tickets to a local show. Most folks I know who have caught these guys live are instant converts.

December 31, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Ah, the last day of 2007. We have about four different options for this evening and no one can decide anything. Both my brother and sister are still in town, which adds to the fun myriad of possibilities. Right now I think the frontrunners are either going to Heidi’s to drink hot German wine (she just got back from a trip to the Paterland), doing something in Denver with my little brother, or perhaps just the usual NYE tradition of sitting on my porch with that bottle of vodka and a shotgun.

Also, in related holiday news, my sister is the best present buyer ever — look what finally arrived:Courtesy of Uncommon Goods. Now I just have to figure out what to put in a bowl with a hole in the center (it was, after all, a real record in its past life).

My last five offerings of 2007!

My Own Worst Enemy
George Stanford

With a crisp piano melody that sticks in your head like a Billy Joel or Ben Folds tune, this song just feels like cold January and fresh starts. A couple of trusted ears recommended that I check out this artist from Philadelphia (George Stanford is formerly of the band Townhall). This first track I listened to is rumored to have a dual-meaning about either a girl or his love/hate relationship with his music and songwriting. Either way, it’s charming and heartfelt and I’ve found myself humming it all day. Stanford has an EP currently out on Smash Records.

Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
Vampire Weekend

I’ve mentioned before that I worked in a rad international education job for five years, and during that time I got to help dozens of students study abroad in African countries. Two students that I remember took the time to share some African music when they came back, feeding a primal love that runs hot in my veins for the ebullient, earthy percussion common to much of their music. So it’s a bit inexplicable that I’ve resisted listening to hot blog-buzz band Vampire Weekend, which has an oft-cited African undercurrent reminiscent of both Graceland-era Paul Simon (an album I unabashedly love) and mid-80s Peter Gabriel. I finally took a spin, and of course, I find their album absolutely delightful.

[Sean’s in the same late-arriving boat as me, but as usual, he’s a heck of a lot more eloquent]

Electric Bird

With swankily gorgeous vocals that boast a hint of ’40s glamour mixed with Fiona Apple’s dramatic range, Sia is an Australian artist that I have heard a a few scattered places and always enjoyed. This track is from her forthcoming January release, Some People Have Real Problems. I have no idea what is going on with the U.S. album cover so I just close my eyes and listen to the sultry brassiness of this tune instead of pondering the magic marker on the face. It could be the hot trend of 2008.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

Old pal rbally blog is sneakily back after taking too many months on hiatus, and this elates me. Jenning’s fifth or sixth post since returning is a screaming live show from former Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus, with his new band The Jicks (causing me to wonder what a jick is). Rbally also points me to this new mp3 from the Matador website, a first listen off of Malkmus’ forthcoming album Real Emotional Trash, due in March. Still all crunch and fuzz but with elegant melodies and flourishes throughout, and laced with Malkmus’ literate lyrics and endearing warble.

Number One
Miss Fairchild

Finally, if you have no idea what to play tonight for your New Year’s festivites, and don’t have time to make up a mix (like moi), then the fine trio of gents from New England funk/soul band Miss Fairchild still have that 2-part mixtape up for free download on their website. Their mix blends together a wide range of old-school and modern songs (funk, hip hop, soul) with a few get-up-shake-it tracks of their own making, like this dancetastic groove from the Ooh La La Sha Sha EP. Their MySpace says they sound “like Sly Stone remixed by Beck” — it is thoroughly fresh and modern, but also a lot like something Prince would put on a mix for you. It’s a free party in 2 clicks, just waiting to happen. And a bonus for those who snag it: In January when you hit the gym with all the other resolvers, you’ll have the best soundtrack on Treadmill Row.

Oh, and this image ran in the paper today in their retrospective article on 2007. It’s still my favorite picture of the year, and when I am old, I will think back on the pure joy of The Rockies’ amazing 2007 run, and smile.

Subscribe to this tasty feed.
I tweet things. It's amazing.

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.

View all Interviews → View all Shows I've Seen →