Thursday, May 31, 2007

Being a complete musical fiend, I'd heard of Bat For Lashes' a few times but had never really listened to her. It wasn't until the feature in the most recent Nylon magazine that I decided to grab a copy of her album and give it a listen. I haven't turned it off since. Natasha Kahn, in addition to being absolutely gorgeous, has managed to compose mystical, beautiful songs with haunting vocals and extremely lovely arrangements throughout the album. The disk, entitled Fur & Gold, has been desribed as music "straight out of Grimm's Fairy Tales", which is not only accurate, but also gives you some idea as to the magic and mystery behind these songs.

Natasha & Co. will be hitting the states this coming summer, with a show @ NYC's The Knitting Factory on 25 July. I got my ticket last night, and it's probably what I'm looking forward to most this summer.

Bat For Lashes' Myspace

Bat For Lashes - Sarah
Bat For Lashes - Prescilla

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I just can't help myself-- Tegan and Sara are irresistible.

Granted, they've gotten to their above pictured glam from this:

which is what they looked like when I first heard them back in 1999, with their extremely acoustic, adolescent folk LP, Under Feet Like Ours. I found them immediately addicting-- I liked their voices, and since I was 16, I really appreciated that they "played their own instruments", which is something of incredible value when you're a teenager with an inflated ego insofar as musical taste/distaste is concerned.

The first time I saw T&S was back in 2001 as part of the free concert series down at South Street Seaport here in NYC-- there were no more than 75 people there and about 10 of them were random drunk tourists who had come too early for the nearby production of Pirates of Penzance. Sad, but true. The girls were young and not yet comfortable with being on stage, but they put on a good show and afterwards I talked with Tegan for a little while (admittedly, I had a little bit of a girl-crush on her at the time...and kinda still do), and Sara didn't seem much interested in talking to anyone.

Fast forward to 2004-- another T&S show, another venue. This time, the Bowery Ballroom-- a spot known for hosting some of the foremost indie artists in the current scene. They had openers. They had electric guitars and longer, painfully hipster haircuts. And most of all, they had $15 tickets. And they were damn good.

The reason I felt compelled to write this post is because I've just gotten my hands on a copy of T&S's new album, The Con, due out on 24 July 2007 in North America. I've listened to it about four times all the way through now, and my iTunes is on repeat-- it's just that good. There's something more mature about this album, though it retains all the characteristics that have made T&S keep my attention thus far-- layered vocals, clever (though occasionally non-sensical on the surface) lyrics, and addictive rhythms.

I don't want to say too much more about it, but here's a cut from the new album-- one of my favourites (though really the whole album is just ridiculously good):

Tegan and Sara - Are You Ten Years Ago

Friday, May 18, 2007

Laura Veirs @ Gramercy Theatre, 16 May 2007

Despite the rain, the crowd queued at the Gramercy Theatre on E. 23rd Street on Wednesday night to see Laura Veirs was long, if not slightly wet. After two openers-- Seattle shoegaze-esque band Lake (think Camera Obscura, but less polished) and one man funhouse Charles Bissell of The Wrens-- Laura took the stage around 10pm with her backing band, The Saltbreakers, which includes the opener of her past tour Karl Blau, along with drummer (and producers of all of Veirs' five recordings) Tucker Martine and pianist Steve Moore.

The room was full-- the standing room floor as well as the stadium style seats in the back-- and Veirs charmed everyone with her easy presence and very obvious comfort on stage. She played the entire Saltbreakers album (minus one track) as well as a few oldies but goodies from Year of Meteors. The show was full of friendly banter, some audience participation on "To The Country" in which the audience sang the lines "The heavenly stars, heavenly stars, heavenly stars" at Laura's urging, and on one of the encores (and one of my favourite tracks from Year of Meteors, "Rialto" where the crowd kept the tempo of the song by following a clapping pattern that Laura showed everyone.

Seeing her live is always an experience, and one that I can't wait to repeat.

The setlist is as follows:

Pink Light
Wandering Kind
Parisian Dream
Cast A Hook
Shadow Blues
Ocean Night Song
Drink Deep
To The Country
Black Eyed
Black Butterfly
Don't Lose Yourself

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Okay, I admit it: it took me a really, really long time to "get" CocoRosie. I really got into the title track from 2005's Noah's Ark-- it was catchy in a non-sensical, silly way and overtly likeable. The rest of the album I kind of, well...didn't really care about.

To the untuned ear, CocoRosie are, at best, an art-rock/dream-pop duo who go out of their way to be weird and misunderstood. They're Bjork without the immediate greatness and command of presence. All of that is, of course, very untrue. CocoRosie (comprised of sisters Sierra and Bianca Casady) compose layered, ethereal songs that speak of other times and places. The muffled, mousy vocals, the trip-hop and operatic musical elements, the manipulated instruments, the clever lyrics-- these things make CocoRosie a truly rare act, full of hope and magic and vast discovery. And they are damn good.

What changed my mind, you ask? Well, a short answer would be the song "Werewolf" from their recently released disk, The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn. The track starts with a man's poetic voice-over and drifts effortlessly into the hazy, dense track full of alliteration and beautiful references to witches, horses, and heartbreak in a way that is poignant and frankly, quite lovely. After digesting the whole album, I can't turn it off. I take back all the stuff I said before-- ears that aren't open can't really hear properly, now can they?

Les Filles Casady were arrested on 8 May, apparently due to band members not having necessary paperwork and everyone trying to cross the border illegally. The rest of the US tour is cancelled, except, apparently, for a free show at the WTC/Wintergarden here in NYC on 19 May. Which I will be at, gladly.

CocoRosie - Promise
CocoRosie - Werewolf

Monday, May 07, 2007

Good old Bob Evans. You might know him as the singer/guitarist from pop rock outfit Jebediah, under his real name (which is Kevin Mitchell, for the curious). Or you may not have heard of him at all, which, if you live in America, is probably the case. In 2006, Bob (or Kevin, if we wanna get technical) released Suburban Songbook, a collection of acoustic pop numbers that were the kind of songs that made you want to have a crush or call an old ex-boyfriend or girlfriend just to say hi. The songs have a warmth (and okay, a cheesy quality, too...but in a good way) and depth that are really charming, and are a perfect thing to listen to on lazy , rainy days. People who aren't a fan of warm, fuzzy feelings will most likely NOT like Bob, but then, ah, fuck 'em!

Anyhow, KevinBob (as he'll henceforth be called, at least in this blog) breezed into town late last week long enough to see Bjork at Radio City Music Hall, as well as play a small gig downtown at Arlene's Grocery. While only a few people came out to the gig, it was well worth the $8 cover at the door, and I'm not just saying that because I was full of gin, either. He played a no-frills, straightforward set covering most of the tracks from Suburban Songbook and even had a little bit of charming banter inbetween. His sweet lyrics and well-composed songs are enough to make him a great listen, not to mention the fact that he's a really nice guy. I definitely look forward to hearing the future work that gets put out under the Bob Evans moniker.

Bob Evans - Don't You Think It's Time
Bob Evans - Nowhere Without You

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Arctic Monkeys don't need even one more blog entry dedicated to them or their slightly annoying/extremely addicting (depending on which way you look at it) music. Whatever People Say I am, That's What I'm Not garnered so much press it's insane, and quickly became the fastest selling UK album of all time. Here in the States it didn't do too shabbily either-- it sold 34,000 copies in the first week of release.

Much has been said of the Monkeys since the release of Whatever People Say I am..., and the general rule is you either think they're complete shit or total gods. I fall somewhere inbetween, especially since the release of their new album, Favourite Worst Nightmare on 29 April. It's completely addicting and really, sort of undeniably, good. It's a bit darker than the first album, with some slower songs and more intense bass lines, but the same tight instrumentation is still present. Not to mention, of course, the lyrics, which provide an everyman's view into regular, boring, working class life and somehow make it interesting.

As I said, the last thing they need is another blog entry, so let's just skip to the tunes. The following are my favourite tracks from the new album.

Arctic Monkeys - Do Me A Favour
Arctic Monkeys - This House Is A Circus