A very happy birthday to
PopWreckoning‘s very own
I think that the drunk guy behind me at the Delta Spirit show at The Middle East encapsulated their performance better than I ever really could when he chuckled loudly and said, “holy shit! I love live music!” That’s what Delta Spirit provided – really awesome live music.
You could tell that the band knew that everyone at the urban but haunting bar/club might not have been there because of their love for the relatively unknown-on-the-East-Coast (they hail from San Diego) band. They definitely put all of their effort into winning over this crowd, as you could kind of tell they do at all shows, and they were successful.
Each song seemed more musically interesting and creative than the last. To compare them to a modern band, you could look at The Black Keys. They both have the kind of soul you don’t expect from a bunch of white boy indie kids. But I wouldn’t really call The Delta Spirit a bunch of white boy indie kids to begin with. They’re a little bit less gimmicky, not to knock The Black Keys, but it’s just the truth. The comparison to Cold War Kids, who they’ve toured with in the past, might actually be a little more appropriate. Both bands are strikingly surprising and original.
The voice of lead singer Matt Vasquez came through surprisingly and upliftingly clear throughout the show. His voice is a really soulful entity and it’s pretty cool to be right there with it.
At one point they started playing a sort of tambourine/trash can combination instrument and that really got the crowd going. It was really unique without being annoying or over the top. What I think I liked most about the performance is that it was very unselfconscious show. They knew that people weren’t breaking down doors to see them and instead of going overboard they just put on the best rock’n'roll show they could, and they really pulled it off.
I really hope that we see more of this band to come because, as trite as it might sound, they really have it and I think that they could do great things for the current state of music. They have an album coming out in August and I hope we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot from them in the years to come.
Photo: Matt Wignall
Let me preface by saying that the Rooney show was the most oddly entertaining experience I’ve had in a while. It was the first time in my life that I felt too old to be somewhere, and I’m only 20. I entered the Middle East, usually packed full of fashionable hipsters, only to be greeted by gaggles of preteen and teenage girls whose hearts I could almost hear fluttering.
That’s not to say that any of this was a bad thing. One, I was taller than a lot of people there and that’s a rarity and two, the audience had SO much energy throughout the show. I forgot what being really into a band in high school meant: the unconditional love and admiration these kids had for Rooney was astounding and really enjoyable in a kind of strange way to be around.
Rooney themselves really delivered what the audience was looking for. They swaggered on stage looking as cool as ever and the screeches of girls and hoots of guys surrounded them as they began to play. Everyone started to make hearts with their hands and hold them in the air periodically, which I guess is really popular to do at shows now because it never stopped.
Seeing Rooney play was really fun, though. There was a lot of singing along, dancing and awkward teenage couples, and everything involved blended so well with Rooney‘s performance. They clearly know what their fans like, and know their place with their audience. There’s something really awesome about sining along to “I”m a Terrible Person,” which they played towards the middle of their set and people really went crazy for “I’m Shakin,’” which was more fun than I’d expected and I couldn’t help but really get into it.
The only major complaint that I had about the show is that I thought the band’s banter was kind of boring. I can remember them talking, but not what they said even though I was kind of annoyed by whatever it. But that’s just evidence of how easy kids are to please. The member of Rooney could have talked about what they’d had for dinner the night before and still everyone in the audience would have laughed and screamed out of joy just because they were saying anything at all.
At one point they covered The Band‘s “The Weight,” which is an iffy choice for Rooney I think, as it’s quite the song to be tackling. However, it was very effortful and you could tell the band really cared about pulling it off and the cover was an overall pleasant one. I’m not complaining at least. And the numerous parents dotted around the venue clandestinely avoiding their children as not to embarrass them or cramp their style seemed to really appreciate it, too.
Rooney has opened up for bands like The Strokes, Ben Lee and OK Go, but you can really tell that they’re most at home when they’re headlining and they’re in front of their young but very dedicated fans. It’s definitely a really good time when they play, so if you’re prepared to deal with the all ages show crowd then Rooney is definitely an excellent choice. I can’t lie, the show melted my cold pretentious indie heart, if only for a couple hours.
The Morning Benders have just put out their album Talking Through Tin Cans and are just wrapping up a gig supporting The Kooks on tour. They’ve also opened for bands like Yo La Tengo and they’re definitely a name you should keep in mind over the next year or so. I had the pleasure of seeing these guys perform in Boston recently and I couldn’t be more pleased with the show they put on.
Their music is fun, and both the vocals and instrumentals translate really well to live performances. And the audience at Paradise that night was definitely ready for a performance. The temperatures had reached ninety and over and everyone just wanted to cool off with some sweet music and tall cans of PBR. And while The Morning Benders weren’t what everyone was waiting for, no one was unhappy with what they got.
At one point they warn the audience that the song they’re about to sing is a “darker tune” but that we still had “to have fun with it.” And I really loved that; it totally melted my cold, snobby heart. I think that all bands should be saying stuff about their music and their shows. Their music is good enough to be taken seriously but there’s so much fun beyond that seriousness and they did such a great job of making sure that came through during their show.
Later, two band members doubled up on one mic together and it was just really pleasant to watch. Throughout the whole show they encouraged the audience to dance and sing along and it was like they were as in to performing for us as we were in to watching them perform and I feel like that kind of atmosphere has gotten pretty rare. When lead singer Chris Chu‘s mic cut out he told the audience if they didn’t dance more it would happen again. Everyone responded pretty heartily. In short, they’re the kind of opening act that makes you actually want to head over to the merch table and buy their album.
They performed their songs well and they seemed to get into their music in this really genuine and endearing way. Lots of well-placed foot stomping, head shaking and body jerking took place. It was really fun to see a band moving for once and gett everyone really pumped up. Their music is great and they definitely belong in the ranks of fellow-up and comers Vampire Weekend and yes, they do deserve the comparisons to The Shins that they’ve been getting in the past month since Tin Cans was released.
Honestly – I could compare these guys to a lot more people: The Rosebuds;, Ben Kweller; etc. But I don’t want it to seem like these guys don’t have a sound of their own and aren’t going to take that sound in all kinds of different awesome directions. I’m really hoping to see these guys headline their own tour this year and hit up the big festivals next summer (they’re already on the lineup of a couple). If you have a chance, see them live but definitely pick up their album before you’re left wondering who these Morning Benders that everyone is sure to be talking about are and why you’re not in on the fun.
Jun 27 – Puma FREE In-Store/San Francisco, Ca.
Jul 05 – Blue Lamp/Sacramento, Ca. *
Jul 08 – Berbati’s Pan/Portland, Or.*
Jul 09 – Neumo’s/Seattle, Washington *
Jul 12 – Avalon/Los Angeles (w/ Supergrass)
Jul 20 – GOOD Magazine Block Party @ 111 Minna/San Francisco
Sep 13 – Monolith @ Red Rocks/Morrison, Co.
Sep 21 – Treasure Island Music Festival/San Francisco Bay, Ca.
* w/ We Are Scientists and Cut Off Your Hands
Finally it’s happened – Wolf Parade has released another full length album. Their sophomore effort, At Mount Zoomer, is a beacon of hope and goodness wrapped in some beautiful artwork that, come December, will be topping many a “Best of 2008″ list. The songs are beautiful and Spencer Krug‘s voice is just as poetic and electrifying as ever. There’s nothing disappointing about this album, which is so amazing coming from a band that formed so quickly and debuted so wonderfully.
Yes, there are some songs that are better than others but the thing that’s so great about Wolf Parade is that they seem to be very good at putting together an entire album that works with itself and is so impressive as one piece of work. “Bang Your Drums” opens eerily and then draws you in with really smart lyrics and strong but sensitive instrumentals. It’s definitely one of the songs that shines most on the album. “California Dreamers” reminds you why you love Wolf Parade so much. It starts out a bit weak, I’ll admit, but the way it continues and the way it’s crafted is near perfection.
The songs are slightly more subdued than on their first album but those songs were pretty epic for the most part so that’s not saying a whole lot. The album still really blew me away. With Mount Zoomer, the guys of Wolf Parade have managed to let us know that they are not going anywhere and that they are going to continue putting out some of the most unique and best-sounding music on the scene. People will continue to be voraciously hungry for their albums as they continue to produce music and Wolf Parade has really become one of those bands that you can’t wait to come out with new stuff, and that’s such an awesome thing about them.
Wolf Parade also proves to us with this album that they really have created their own style and that it involves no gimmick at all, only incredible talent. This album, in addition to Apologies to the Queen Mary, will be a solid addition to any collection of music and you’ll never stop coming back to it. In only two albums, Wolf Parade has managed to create an intense desire for more from their fans, and that’s such an undeniably amazing feat and one of the main reasons that I love Wolf Parade. So definitely go pick up the new album and see them live if you can because they must be fantastic on stage. But you can still pick up so much electricity and feeling from their recorded music that you won’t feel like your missing you if you don’t see them.
Available June 17, 2008 on SubPop Records.
01. Soldier’s Grin
02. Call It a Ritual (download)
03. Language City
04. Bang Your Drum
05. California Dreamer
06. The Grey Estates
07. Fine Young Cannibals
08. An Animal in Your Care
09. Kissing the Beehive
Father Bloopy‘s album Ginger, Baby is a gem if I’ve every heard one. It’s a fairly eclectic mix of tracks and it’s really impressive to see a band switch it up like that. They have a more classic sound, with influences like The Kinks (another personal favorite of mine) very present in their music.
Father Bloopy has much more to offer than just an indie band with obvious influences. They believe in what they do and they’re having fun, which comes through really clearly on this album. Roger Houdaille, the group’s lead singer and main songwriter, has a really great kind of stripped down and unintrusive voice that is perfectly suited for the songs on this album. The band backs him up perfectly and everything just comes together so well.
The songs are short but never vapid, and some sweet guitar solos pop up every once in awhile. Check out “Hot Down,” which is probably my favorite track on the whole album, for evidence of this. “You’re all right baby / You’re all right baby / You’re all right” comes out in the best way possible from Houdaille. “Pepper Tan” is a great song to play in the car, especially for those silences that inevitably pop up on road trips with friends. Title track “Ginger, Baby” is so smart and catchy and fun that it’ll pull you right into the rest of the album with complete ease.
The album has a couple mediocre moments but other than that Father Bloopy and Ginger, Baby are great finds. They remind me of Cold War Kids, but that might just be because they were the last really great newcomer music find I ran into. They’re definitely not as dramatic as Cold War Kids but I think they’re just as talented and they definitely share some musical elements.
Father Bloopy are following a tradition of bands that just really love to make music that’s fun to listen to but still has a little depth to them. It’s the kind of music that you get really excited to put on mixes for your friends, like you’re letting them in on a little bit of your musical world. Their music will be something you feel close to and keep coming back to.
* Written by Jimmy
Christine Fellows‘ subtle voice lends itself to the kind of song you perk your ears up to at the café while you’re sipping your too-expensive drink and working on that dissertation about the magical realism of children’s books of the nineties. So, take that statement as you’d like. I personally really enjoyed her latest effort, Nevertheless, and I’m glad to have it in my collection. She has the Mountain Goats‘ seal of approval – she’s toured with them and lead singer John Darnielle has said that she “is writing better songs than anybody else.” So she seems pretty set as is.
It’s refreshing to hear an artist who hasn’t left her love of more traditional sound behind. The songs are, for the most part, melancholy but never hollowly depressing. The first track, “Let Us Have Done With The Umbrella Of Our Contagion,” has way too long and pretentious a title for me, but it’s pure instrumentals and it’s a fantastic introduction to the album. Many of the songs that follow it have similar sounding instrumentals but have vocals to break them up. The music is kind of Tim Burton-y and even a little Tori Amos-y, if I’m hearing it correctly, which isn’t to say that those are two things I hold in the utmost highest regard, nor would an indie musician, but Fellows makes it work for her.
Nevertheless is a really nice album to listen to. A lot of the songs remind me why I got so into music in the first place, at least as into it as someone who can’t sing or play can. “Poor Robin” is campy and complex in the greatest ways possible. “Cruel Jim,” is unforgiving but pretty damn beautiful and I have to appreciate that. The title song and last track of the album is such a complete gem that it’s blinding. “They’re just letting in a little light / They’re just letting in a little air / I don’t care” are some of the best lyrics I feel like I’ve heard in awhile.
So she might not be as quirky-cute as Regina Spektor or as innocent Hollywood as Jenny Lewis, but she is an equal talent and sings with just as much vigor and honesty as those two or any other artist. There was not one moment when these intricately woven and cleverly executed songs let me down or lost any of their depth. And while I haven’t seen her live, these songs are begging to be played to an audience of music-hungry fans and that is something that I really truly appreciate. Definitely pick up Nevertheless, available now, and have some fun with it; it’s really easy to get into, I promise.
Ladytron‘s latest album, Velocifero is the most inspiring stuff I’ve heard since Arcade Fire‘s Funeral. This is a truly spectacular album that I’m suggesting for purchase immediately. The album drops today so you’re just in time to get in on what’s going to be a summer smash.
The first single off the album, “Ghost,” is one hundred percent Ladytron genius. The song is crafted expertly, with an attention-grabbing opening riff that is eventually interrupted by in-your-face instrumentals and strong but still catchy vocals. I’ve been playing that one over and over. From beginning to break down the song is a hit.
I remember in high school I used to go to this goth club in Pittsburgh located under Club Laga, the most popular club venue in town. When Ladytron first came out they would play industrial remixes of “Seventeen,” so this band has kind of stuck with me as a relic of that era. And while this album lacks some of the cheekiness of their previous work, songs like “Runaway” are bona fide club bangers and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear them in the alternative dance clubs and trendier bars all through the summer.
“Burning Up” will carry you effortlessly into a world where neon t-shirts and white blazers are considered really cool and everything is more fun than you’d ever experienced. “Kletva” is so easily listenable it’s eerie. “Predict the Day,” opens up with and includes a sweet whistle; I have to admit, I’m a total sucker for the whistle. The song would knock the ubiquitous PB&J “Young Folks” out of the water if it had the chance to. “Predict the Day” features some of the most intense and immersing beats on Velicifero. It’s definitely got some darkness too it as well which I think only adds to the already edgy Ladytron sound.
In short this album is not something you should hear about from your friends. It’s the kind of thing you need to pick out for yourself and get into it in in whatever way you see appropriate. And I’m incredibly glad that this is me, and will be for many others, a fantastic summer-kick off album. Catch it in store today!
I was immediately wrapped up in the elegant and open first track, “Bixby Canyon Bridge.” That’s a great thing about Death Cab: the openness of their songs. There are, however, many spots on the album, most notably “I Will Possess Your Heart,” which I really just don’t like. It feels, just as on Plans, like they are taking themselves too seriously. It was songs with simple and romantic messages like “I Will Follow You into the Dark” that propelled Death Cab into the hearts of so many self-obsessed teenagers (read: all teenagers), and they shouldn’t forget that.
Otherwise, this is really a pleasant album to have around. And as someone who fell in love with them during my own self-obsessed teenagerdom, it’s nice to see that they don’t make me feel like a dick for still listening to them. Death Cab won’t make you feel guilty for listening to music from which teenagers pull lyrics for their MySpace pages.
I recommend listening to “Talking Bird,” which may be my favorite song on Narrow Stairs. It is ideal for contemplating anything and everything with some friends and some beer around sunset. Listen to any of these songs while you’re alone (I recommend during the commute to work or while you clean your room) and you’ll feel a little more whole than you did before.
The best thing about the album is they’ve kept the invitingly introspective feel of their previous work alive and well. However, I can’t say that I don’t long for the days of really well put-together but less produced songs that could be found on The Photo Album or We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes. But the boys of DCFC have chosen the direction they’d like to go in, and that’s heavy sounds to match their yearning, heartfelt lyrics, although some more upbeat melodies for the chronic head-bopper can be found in “Long Division” and “No Sunlight.”
There’s a comfort in Death Cab for Cutie’s work that I haven’t found in many other bands and it’s something in which I place a lot of value. This album certainly has its downs as well as its ups, but it’s worth picking up at your local independent record store (support them, folks!), as I personally have done with all of my Death Cab albums. Narrow Stairs will be great to pick up and listen to, after having nearly forgotten about it , every few months. It’s definitely a satisfying listen that you’ll want to have around.
Mates of State’s sixth album, Re-Arrange Us, which hit stores May 20th, is not what I would describe as a disappointment, but certainly not what I’d call a masterpiece either. Kori Gardner, one half of the married couple that forms the band, decided to give up her signature 70s Electrone organ for a piano and the change is definitely notable. Some of it isn’t the greatest sound, but there’s no shortage of pros regarding that decision either.
Some of the instrumentals seem absolutely flat; check out the tune “My Only Offer” and you’ll see. Some of the songs just lack the certain tanginess, and even that trademark sugariness, of their previous songs. They have subdued themselves in this album in a way they never have before and occasionally it sounds like they’re not sure about how they think it’s going, which just further disorients the big fans of their previous albums, especially the exquisite Bring it Back.
They are still solid and will be enjoyable to any sweet summer backdrop that you happen to find yourself in. Some of the lyrical content leaves a little bit to be desired (see: “You are Free”) but they do go well with the music they’re put to, and aren’t ever really terrible. If you stay away from “Jigsaw” you won’t be missing out on a whole lot though, I must say.
Don’t get me wrong, Re-Arrange Us is not bad, and there are some real gems on it. For instance, “Blue and Gold Print” will break through those summer backdrop songs that Mates of State have relegated them to. The lyrics are intricate and sensitive and the instrumentals behind it compliment the song almost perfectly. It’s definitely a song to savor.
“Help Help” will get you moving if you are a person with arms and legs, no matter how cool you’re trying to be. Title track “Re-Arrange Us” is, if just a tiny bit weak, an undoubtable anthem that you’ll be singing in your head all day. Jason Hammel, the band’s other half, still pulls me in with his melodic “everything-is-okay-now-I’m-here” voice. And, as always, they never once become pretentious or drown us with ignorable cuteness.
They’re still a refreshing mix in the increasingly carbon-copied indie music scene. They are still those originators of delicious sounds they proved themselves to be years ago when they were still learning. The best thing about this album is the newer, more grown-up direction, though a bit hesitant at points, is definitely a direction that they chose and went ahead with. The best thing about Mates of State as a whole is their ability to include you in the songs they’re singing without being overly blunt or inarticulate. And that presence is still felt all over this album.
Re-Arrange Us is worth the buy, they still put their all into performing and are awesome to see live, but just listen to it a little warily at first, you’ll accept it and love it before you even realize.