Sunday, January 6, 2013

Top 10 Albums of 2012

2012 was a great year for music. In a not-so-particular order, here are my top 10 favorite albums of the past year.

1. Beach House - Bloom
2. Grimes - Visions
3. Sharon Van Etten - Tramp
3. Yeasayer - Fragrant World
4. Tennis - Young & Old
5. Alt J - An Awesome Wave
6. Django Django - Django Django
7. Poliça - Give You The Ghost
8. Patrick Watson - Adventures In Your Own Backyard
9. Chairlift - Something
10. The XX - Coexist

Here are some top 10 lists that are worth perusing:

KEXP DJ Top 10 List of 2012
KCRW DJ Top 10 List of 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

Who Needs Coachella When You Have FYF

I am just blown away at how awesome the 2012 FYF Festival was this year. 2 days, 4 stages, under $100, tolerable heat, more bands I wanted to see, AND I got to go home in between. I mean, really, why go to the desert?

Let's just get it out there that I didn't arrive until 3 pm both days. The night prior to the festival's commencement, I saw Niki and the Dove at the Echo. The openers for that show (Devin) also opened up FYF and I was not impressed (NATD on the other hand were stellar).

I walked in as Two Gallants were finishing their Black Keys-ish brand of rock. I don't know them well but I liked their sound. The first act I really cared about was Chairlift. Even though I saw them in March at the Troubadour, I was eager to see them here. Their album "Something" is one of my favorites this year. Like the Troubadour show, they opened with Sidewalk Safari. Sadly, they seemed to be off from the start. As cute as the new keyboardist was in her barely-covering-panties t-shirt/dress, I don't think she had the songs quite down yet. Or the heat had gotten to her. Midway through the set, the computer broke down leaving the band without their pre-record. This left the keyboardist to pick up the slack - which she didn't seem able to. After several sloppy songs (I won't even upload "Take It Out On Me" to YouTube out of respect for the band), Caroline Polachek seemed visibly frustrated and disappointed. The other half of the duo, Patrick Wimberly, appeared to try to make lemonade out of...well, a broken macbook pro, by carrying on with the show but the mistakes coming from the keyboard made it impossible for Caroline to sing. She restarted "I Belong In Your Arms" but ultimately walked off stage at the end - leaving us without "Amanamenesia". It was unfortunate. I will see them again though. I just hope they have their act together for tomorrow's show at the Greek.

Chairlift - Frigid Spring

No matter how many times I see Warpaint, I continued to be mesmerized by their blend of psychadelic jams and gorgeousness. A group of barely-post-pubescent guys behind me were scoffing at the pretty girls with guitars on stage as having all those instruments "just for show". It only took one song for their jaws to drop and proceed to comment throughout the set "I'm having my mind blown right now" / "I want to marry all of them". IMHO, they stole the show on the main stage Day 1.

Also awesome on day 1, Purity Ring. I loved their light cocoon stage. M83 opened with a song I don't care for so...I left. I know, I know "HOW COULD YOU MISS REFUSED?????" - I already got my fix of hardcore bands reuniting this year with the At The Drive-In show in Austin. I didn't need to see a band like that at a festival. Sue me.

Purity Ring - Lofticries

The second day for me was all about Yeasayer. Their new album, Fragrant World, is perfect (as I've said in previous posts). The day began though with David Cross's comedy set. Despite being overpowered by the band playing one stage over, he was, well, David Cross. Who doesn't love David Cross and his colon cleansing jokes? I don't know if I needed to Cursive again having already said goodbye on their farewell tour in 2007. After they played, one of the coolest acts I saw hit the stage - Lightning Bolt. I was thoroughly unprepared for what was to come from this two-piece from Providence. The drummer/singer had a Frankenstein kit that neither needed nor had a hi-hat. His mic was attached to a homemade mask he wore. I wish I had known them better. And that I had worn shoes.

Lightning Bolt

After seeing a few more bands (Liars and Desperacido), it was time for Yeasayer. They opened with a reggae/dub version of Henrietta that served to set the tone for the remainder of their set. I'll let the videos speak for the rest.

Yeasayer - Henrietta

Yeasayer - Wait For The Summer

Yeasayer - Reagan's Skeleton

Beirut also delivered a knock-out set but the energy was a little less coming after Yeasayer. Still, that was one heck of a lineup.

Beirut - Nantes

There were a few other bands I couldn't see due to scheduling (i.e. Sleigh Bells - I heard someone lost a thumb in the barricade when the crowd surged) but hats off to FYF for truly making the best weekend of the summer (as they continued to remind us on the screens).

Friday, August 31, 2012

FYF. All about Yeasayer

Well, my calculations turned out to be correct. I figured with FYF on a hot Labor Day weekend, people would be ditching their tickets on Craigslist as the date neared to anyone willing to buy. I scored a pass fro a girl looking to get out of town for $60. Sorry FYF promoters. I would have totally paid full price if I didn't have that gut feeling that I could score a deal

Ok, if you read my earlier post regarding Yeasayer's single, Henrietta, in which I predicted Fragrant World would be my favorite album of the year, I may have been spot on. It. Is. Amazing. I CANNOT wait to see them Sunday. The opening and closing tracks are just beautiful. Pick up the colored vinyl now while you still can. I saw some at Origami on Wednesday.Speaking of...that's pretty awesome they're moving their whole shop to FYF for the festival.

Here's my agenda so far. If there's a gap, I'm wandering.

Saturday: Chairlift-->Warpaint-->Tanlines-->Purity Ring-->M83-->Refused

Sunday: David Cross-->Tiger & Woods-->Lightning Bolt-->Yeasayer-->Beirut-->The Faint

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Drive Tour Broke Down At the Echoplex 8/5/2012 - A Review

With a line stretching to the "lake" one would think the Drive Tour (featuring Electric Youth, Anoraak, and College) would be something special. It was not. It was mediocre electronic knob turning played to a backdrop of something I maaaaay actually be keen to use a a screen saver. France's Anoraak were good - but still, try sounded like a C-grade version of Phoenix. The saddest thing is there was a great show upstairs featuring Captured Tracks artist DIIV. I'm actually writing this while having some barley wine at El Prado across the street while I wait for that sold out show to end so I can buy some merch.

Regarding Drive...Next time I'll take the train...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Perfect eXXecution by The XX in Los Angeles 7/23/2012

I'm not going to write too much about this one. I will say it's shows like these that make me love this city. Openers Haim (who were recently seen stealing the show from underneath Geographer at The Echo) mesmerized the audience with their wild hair, perfect harmonies (they're all sisters), and primal drum finale. Seriously, check these girls (and guy) out. I can guarantee they will be playing every festival next year.

The XX came on around 10:20 and played an hour set with one encore. The entranced the crowd with a roughly equal number of the songs we know and the songs we can't wait for when their new album "Coexist" drops in September. Good luck getting in to the Palladium or Hollywood Forever when they return in a few months.


New Song


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Beach House Shack Up at The El Rey

The Buildup
Before the summer concert season started, I told my friend Nicole that there really was only one band I wanted to see that I had never seen live before - Beach House. In my opinion, Bloom is so far the runaway contender for best album of the year and Teen Dream still gets regular rotation. So, when they announced the show at the El Rey, I was ready to buy tickets at 10 am Friday morning like my email from Goldenvoice said. That time came. Tickets "went on sale", and from what I've gathered, everyone who tried to get them was left scratching their heads. It turns out, to obviate the need for scalpers, Beach House had sent out a tweet and a link to their own ticket page that sold out the show before us regular schmucks had a chance.

*Side note* I was following @BeaccchHoussse at the time but hadn't checked my Twitter for a few days.

So, utterly depressed and upset, I proceeded to add Beach House to twitter alerts in the event there was any more news. I was overjoyed when they said not to buy from scalpers, that there would be more shows in LA. But I was bummed when those shows were scheduled 3 months away. I needed my fix!

So, fast forward 1 month of me checking CraigsList every day, offering to trade an XX ticket (for which I had a lot of offers), and ultimately throwing all my eggs in the KCRW ticket giveaway basket. I didn't win. I had friends calling as well with my member number (whom I would have taken). No one got through. The Los Angeles phone system was most likely brought close to failure thanks to the number of people trying to win those. My only hope was to find a poor soul at the door whose scalping deal had fizzled out who had recently broken up with their girlfriend/boyfriend to the benefit of moi.

Getting In
I got to The El Rey around 5:30 (after having stopped by an hour earlier on the way home from work just to survey the scene - no one there yet). There were rumors from an uninformed El Rey employee that there may be a few tickets at the box office. Those hopes were shattered. The number of people looking for tickets swelled. The number of people selling remained at zero. I continued to check Craiglist and emailed everyone who posted that they had an extra - albeit for an extravagant price. One seller said he had 2 for $80 which was a steal. So, of course, I wasn't surprised when he wrote back that they were sold.

I befriended a fellow ticket-seeker from Japan named Inako. There was another guy named Michael looking for a pair for he and his absent girlfriend but who didn't realize that a two-ticket, will call only show meant he would not be able to find a pair at the same time. When the sole scalper on the block came to Micheal saying he found one, Michael said to come back when he had two. Then Michale turned to Inako and I and said "Those ones are mine". The scalper came back a few minutes later saying he sold the single to some other guy for $60. Stupid, stupid Michael.

As the line was let in still no tickets surfaced, the situation was looking bleak. Inako and I had been there since the beginning though and weren't ready to give up. 9 o'clock rolled around and the openers, Wild Nothings, began to play. Then, a miracle happened. The Craiglist emailer who previously said his tickets were sold wrote me a new message asking if I still needed one and that he was already inside. I left Inako to run over to the smoking area in the hopes that this person would come dashing out and we'd do a Titanic-eque ticket exchange over the velvet rope and barricade. It didn't happen. He was sending confusing messages about having a transfer take place and I was responding with an imperiled "can't you just come out and transfer me the ticket?!?". Since he thought I initially needed two, but now only needed one, he assumed I had a friend on the inside who would pay him so that the whole transaction would be out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

Then, I remembered Inako. I ran back to where we were standing and saw the ticketmaster logo in her hand. She got a ticket! We hugged then I asked, "How much?". "$65!" she said. Which was better than the $75 Michael ended up paying just before. Then I said, "Ok, ok. There is a guy on the inside with one for me. Can you help." To which our never-give-up-hope bond came through and she said "of course!".

Two minutes later, Inako came running out to the smoking area to follow through on the aforementioned Titanic-esque ticket delivery. And that was it. Like Charlie Bucket's golden ticket, I was in!

The Review
Wild Nothings had a half dozen or so songs left. Honestly, I couldn't care less. My heart was beating so fast in anticipation. I owed Inako a huge debt of gratitude especially since my ticket was $25 less than hers. She was so gracious though and wouldn't accept any evening out of the costs. I found a spot on the left side, she found a better spot on the right in one of the El Rey's alcoves. So that's where we watched Alex Scally and Victoria Legrande, aka Beach House, take the stage promptly at 10:15.

The crowed was going wild so it makes sense that "Wild", Bloom's 2nd track, is what they opened with. Alex played his guitar sitting down, Victoria was center and rather shadowed, and Mr. Drummer Man on stage right. The backdrop looked like something out of an industrial chase scene with the giant slow moving fans, spotlight flooding through them and all.

Other People

Victoria's voice was spot on to how she sounds on the album - but not in an impersonal "i should have stayed home way" - in a "she is really fucking good" way. Throughout the hour and a half long show (unheard of for an indie band!), the band played nearly every song off Bloom, about half the tracks from Teen Dream, and a a handful of songs off thier first two albums. The lighting got more and more intricate as the show went on and Victoria really seemed to be enjoying herself. Alex stayed seated for approximately half the songs but it didn't do anything to demure the vibe of the show. In fact I felt it was very apropos for him to play seated on the songs that he did. There is something very introspective about playing a guitar while seated that you lose when you bring the rock star out to play standing.


They closed their main set with the 1st song off Bloom, "Myth". The encore began with "Turtle Island", then "10 Mile Stereo" and finally "Irene".

In closing, the journey was well worth the destination. I look forward to seeing them in September.

Set List
Walk in the Park
Other People
Equal Mind
The Hours
Silver Soul
New Year
Take Care
Turtle Island
10 Mile Stereo

10 Mile Stereo

Monday, May 21, 2012

Yeasayer Release Preview of my soon to be favorite album of 2012

For those in the know (aka signed up to the email list), Yeasayer just released the the single to their upcoming sure-to-be-masterpiece album #3 entitled Henrietta.

Download it here: Henrietta