Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Big Week

In honor of Brian Jarcho. Brian. Jarcho

Get to know this cat

Saturday, June 19, 2010

American Slang

Review from the Washington Post. Couldn't put it better myself. Brilliant title track. Great album.

Gaslight Anthem, "American Slang"

By Patrick Foster

Though many have tried, Gaslight Anthem might be the first millennial band to truly crack the Dad Rock market. "American Slang," the Jersey quartet's third salvo, grinds their Petty, Springsteen, Strummer and Westerberg-isms to a wickedly fine edge, while leader Brian Fallon heaps on enough grandiose blue-collar poetry to fill a hundred skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets. The 10-track album radiates a sweaty, radio-ready rock vibrancy that could easily sweep across demographic boundaries.

Gaslight Anthem began as an earnest, Warped Tour-style punk troupe, but gained widespread notice with 2008's "The '59 Sound," which pundits lauded for its tactile emotionalism and brawny singalong moments. "American Slang" continues that approach, but trims the bluster, steaming by in 34 minutes.

Keyed by the title track - a sharp reworking of "Damn the Torpedoes"-era Petty - Fallon's husky lead vocals are beefed up with fist-pump harmonies and punkish backbeats. "Stay Lucky," "Boxer" and the tightly wound "Orphans" all pump like well-lubed pistons, aided by production that strikes an adroit balance between gritty and sensitive. Fallon does sensitive pretty good, though, as "The Queen of Lower Chelsea" and the we-ain't-as-young-as-we-used- to-be ballad "We Did It When We Were Young" prove. (The hint of Tom Waits wistfulness that appears in the latter bodes well for the Anthem's long-term prospects.)

The album's linchpin, though, is "The Diamond Church Street Choir," a slick ditty with just enough finger-snapping Motown swing to have Fallon's supporters rhapsodizing over his artistic growth. That point's debatable; that "American Slang" will considerably raise the Gaslight Anthem's profile is not.

Recommended tracks: "American Slang," "Orphans," "The Diamond Church Street Choir"

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bonnaroo In Ten Words

Kidding. But here’s my take on the whole shebang. You already know we camped and got dirty.

Manchester Orchestra. Forget my natural bias towards what is arguably my favorite band at the moment. These guys owned up to every last bit of hype they’ve built up over the past year +. Period. No click, super tight, in the pocket, faster jams than on record, dual drumming. No gimmicks, just honest, straightforward rock infused with more Wilco-esque breakdowns than I saw coming. And they played Wolves, which they’ve apparently cut out of recent sets.
Temper Trap. Generally hit or miss but when they were on, they were ON. They broke out of the gates with a nasty up tempo jam in 5/4 time, at which point I decided I’d stay for the hour and a half set. I’m not convinced their frontman’s vocal styling complements their sound 100% of the time, though I was usually too distracted by their bassist’s mean fret runs and captivating stage presence to care.
Wale. Who said he’s putting DC hip hop back on the map? Garbage. Couldn’t have been more disappointed. He went on far past his time, was presumptuous and defensive about the crowd not being into hip hop, talked too much, all of the above. Blame it on the goose, blame it on whatever, I’d have been more content watching his backing band sound check.
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue. Caught my attention, I stopped and watched the whole set. Couldn’t stop. Prototypical horn-driven, NOLA roots raditude for the feel-good spirit in all of us. You wanna dance? Let’s dance.
Gaslight Anthem. I can get down with Brian Fallon and company any day of the week. One of the more genuine, stripped down, rock-soul revival acts whose massive buzz I gladly support. They looked like they were enjoying themselves and Fallon possesses the rare intangible quality of your everyday man who’s comfortable displaying his flaws. That IS his star power. Opened with American Slang. Look what you started, I seem to be coming out of my skin…
The Gossip – unbelievable. Groovy, high-energy, commanding, flawless. That’s a woman. That’s a FRONTwoman. Contender for best live show, bar none.
Kings of Leon – if someone had told me I’d ever see the men behind Aha Shake Heartbreak play to 80,000 people when I first heard that record, I’d have stuffed cotton balls in their mouth. Then I’d go listen to the record again….and again….and again. I still separate my raw musical sensibilities from my pop inclinations, but what I saw gives me hope that even the former can cut its teeth for the masses while preserving credibility. Minus a majority of the crowd being unfamiliar with, ahem, a familiar Pixies cover, this set was a huge highlight. For their size, they still maintain a believable sense of authenticity and substance. Charmer was on the set list, so we’re cool.
Daryl Hall and Chromeo. Fun. Heavily favored towards Hall & Oates classics early on. Probably because they were afraid the fan on Daryl’s hair would die out before he got done with those beauties. Liked the big number of musicians on stage – 8? 10? Either way, contributed to the full sense of ‘party’. I hope to sing Bonafied Lovin with that many people again.
Flaming Lips – I missed the memo that alcohol-only consumers wouldn’t enjoy this. Sign me out.
LCD Soundsystem – they’ve cornered their sound. Nobody does it better. Total groovin rager. Upbeat, bass heavy, complete crowd participation, enough glowsticks to rival the Vegas lights. This is a band at the top of their heap, not a loner or two behind tracks. Sometimes thought this is what the Talking Heads might have been had a market for the sound been as prominent in their prime. And had David Byrne picked up a synth before guitar. Stop making sense.
B.O.B – cool, but bring the band out first. Five intro songs on tracks?? Lost some interest when I didn’t want to. Surprised by number of people catching your set. Wait, you do that song Aeroplanes, yeah? Word.
Jay-Z. Biggest regret was only catching the last 40 minutes of his two hour set. Don’t ask. That said, he’s Jay-Z. And he owned shit.
Weezer. Most complete, balanced, and arguably one of the most entertaining sets I saw. Kudos to Rivers for being one of the most awkwardly engaging and energetic frontman I’ve ever seen. Perhaps it was the World Cup. Or his birthday the next day. Homeboy’s 40. Anyone who involves Josh Freeze in their music gets might vote and having him behind the skins for all but two songs was one of the better surprises of the whole experience. Pat was on guitar, freeing up Mr. Cuomo to exercise his full frontman potential. Hey Brian, want to play something off Pinkerton? Why bother, it’s gonna hurt me.
Against Me! Still one of the best live bands around, but nowadays, I’ll stay a little further back from the madness. I’ve seen them play to 200, and now, 8,000. Very cool seeing about half of those bring the pain like we’re still on the Axl Rose touring cycle. A welcome and fresh new vibe with five stage members, new album, and a new drummer in tow. You know we’ve entered a new stage when they’re not closing on Danger, but a couple thousand die hards telling you they’re Molotov cocktails and you’re a Dom Perignon can’t be a bad thing.
Dropkick Murphys. You love Boston and you get rowdy. Love it, but unless I’m catching one of your Beantown St. Patty’s gigs, I’m assuming I’m seeing the same shenanigans every time. Caught Sunshine Highway and dipped.
Phoenix. Floored by their live show. Imagine 30,000 or 40,000 people dancing and bopping through dusk to these guys. Came out with Lizstomania. Closed with 1901. Old and new scattered in between. Light show on point. Talented, tasteful musicians. Drummer is wack and I eat it up. Filled a two hour set to the brim. They don’t need to be in your face to kill it.
DMB. Yes, it was my first time seeing Dave. Yes, he was ridiculous. Need I state the obvious in that they’re all nasty on their instruments? How about the fact that Carter’s feet are enormous? Probably a little more interesting. They have their jams and more impressively, all the madness in between them, down to a calculated science. That’s what it is – madness. It’s silly how on time they are. Silly. Suppose that’s what twenty years will do to you. Play on.

Monday, June 7, 2010

England is Good, Brazil is Good, Italy is Good...

I was sent this this morning as an explanation for a friend's temporary interest in the World Cup. Priceless.

From StuffWhitePeopleLike.com:

#133 The World Cup

Every four years the planet comes together to celebrate the World Cup and since white people make up a portion the world, they are not immune to the excitement.

However, before you start planning out long watching sessions with white people you should be aware of exactly why white people get so excited about the World Cup. Though you may be waiting on baited breath for your favorite sport on a global scale, white people like the World Cup because it allows them to pretend they are European for a few weeks, and more importantly, it allows them to get drunk at odd hours.

Virtually every white person you speak to about the World Cup is incapable of remembering any actual event that took place during a game but can, with near total recall, remember how they got very drunk on Sangria during a Spain-Paraguay match at five in the morning.

From reading the above paragraph, the sharper ones among you have likely noticed that clever white people also adore the World Cup because it allows them to pair countries with their respective alcoholic drink.

“England is playing Argentina? Dude we gotta get some Newcastle then like, I don’t know, like some wine I guess?”

This plan will be consummated with a high five, a trip to Trader Joes, and the purchase of a soccer jersey that will be worn, on average, twice a decade.

It’s also worth noting the amazing interest shown by white women in the World Cup. While they generally find most professional sporting events to be boring, the atmosphere at a World Cup match is much more amenable. Mostly because they don’t have to drink light beer and there is a good chance that they might meet a European man, or, at least someone who might be planning a trip there. This is far superior to a hockey game where, at best, they might meet a Canadian. It goes without saying that for white women, the World Cup can’t come soon enough.

Of course, hosting a themed party around one of the games is a sure fire way to increase your popularity with white people, but at the end of the day it does not increase your bottom line. No, during the World Cup, the most profit to be made will come from betting on the games with white people. Not only will they have plenty of disposable income, they will follow the following betting patterns:

* England is good
* Brazil is good
* Italy is good
* Teams from Africa are cute underdogs and thus always worth a bet.

When it comes to talking about the event, it goes without saying that you should probably avoid trying to talk to white people about any of the actual players in the World Cup aside from the biggest stars. Most white people cobble their soccer knowledge together from UK celebrity gossip and a few games of FIFA on the Wii.

But if you do find yourself talking to a white person who actually knows a lot about soccer you are probably talking to a European, or worse, a white guy who tries too hard.

The latter is especially dangerous, as they have likely been waiting for years to meet someone to converse with about “football” and with soccer’s year round schedule, they will never leave you alone.