Archive for June, 2009

Fanfarlo: “I’m a Pilot”

June 30, 2009

fanfarloFollowing in the footsteps of other geek rockers like The Decemberists, this London-based baroque pop band’s name is a nod to Baudelaire’s 1847 novella La Fanfarlo. For a troupe that’s touting obscure literary references, however, their lyrics remain decidedly accessible to non-library lovers. One walks a fine line between erudite and pretentious, but they’ve managed to pass the sobriety test.

Often referred to as a British Arcade Fire, Fanfarlo is selling their debut album Reservoir (produced by Peter Katis, who has worked with The National and Interpol) for only $1 until this Saturday, July 4th here.  After that, you can celebrate your musical independence by paying full price through your distributor of choice. Or by downloading it illegally through your preferred pirate. Check out the waxing/waning nature of one of the tracks below:

Fanfarlo – I’m a Pilot

Who: Fanfarlo

What: Reservoir

When: 2009

Where: London, England

Why: “If I stay in this room, they’ll remember me for my youth.”

How: Raffle Bat

reservoir

Papercuts: “Future Primitive”

June 26, 2009

papercuts2Though the common flesh wound to which the moniker of frontman Jason Quever’s musical portal pays tribute is pesky and painful, the songs on the new album, You Can Have What You Want, are anything but. Full of sun and shadows, Papercuts’ fourth album paints an ethereal portrait of floating fields, hazy dreamscapes, and blissful semi-consciousness. As an atmospheric mist seems to permeate the tracks, it comes as no surprise that Quever has called the fog-laden city of San Francisco home for the past ten years.

Featuring reverb-heavy vintage organs and voice, you begin to visualize a world as seen through a plastic camera: a little out of focus, sort of soft around the edges, utilizing a slightly surreal palette. The sailing is so smooth, in fact, you start wishing for a storm to shake things up a bit. His best work here happens when he takes the tempo from slow to slightly less slow, like in “A Dictator’s Lament” and “Future Primitive.”  See him tonight at The Independent, 8 pm. Undecided? Listen to this:

Papercuts – Future Primitive

Who: Papercuts

What: You Can Have What You Want

When: 4.14.2009

Where: San Francisco, California

Why: “The ones you left behind are still with you, my dear.”

How: Gnomonsong

youcanhavewhatyouwant

of Montreal: “An Eluardian Instance”

June 25, 2009

ofmontrealRadiohead revolutionized the way that music is sold when they released In Rainbows as a pay-what-you-want-for-it digital download in the fall of 2007—months before the album was released in traditional CD form. In response to this popular and easy-to-digest but depersonalized purchasing model, of Montreal sought to shift the music packaging paradigm away from the electronic and into the tangible by offering the album artwork as a collection in seven separate formats when it was released in October of last year. I’m not sure what this statement says for their performances, but you can see for yourself a month from now (on July 24) at Oakland’s Fox Theater—and trick yourself out in all types of attire. Like this lantern. And if you haven’t heard this yet, open your ears for a taste of glittering techno-pop:

of Montreal – An Eluardian Instance 

Who: of Montreal

What: Skeletal Lamping

When: 10.21.2008

Where: Athens, Georgia

Why: “Don’t you pimp out my heart.”

How: Polyvinyl

skeletallamping

Starfucker: “Medicine”

June 23, 2009

starfuckerI used to say that the one genre I couldn’t stand was electronica. After listening to Portland’s electropop phenomenon Starfucker (along with Massachusetts’ Passion Pit, of course), I now rescind that statement. This is intelligent foot-tapping music, electronica with an indie edge. Clear the dance floor, Bottom of the Hill. Twinkletoes is in town and ready to boogie tonight. Hopefully to this infectious, talking-track-speckled tune:

Starfucker – Medicine

Who: Starfucker

What: Jupiter

When: 5.5.2009

Where: Portland, Oregon

Why: “Take your medicine.”

How: Badman

jupiter

Elvis @ Amoeba

June 22, 2009

elviscostello“Elvis has left the building.” These words could have been uttered at our favorite independent record store in the Haight today, but they wouldn’t have been referring to a Presley impersonator. They would have been talking about Señor Costello, another Elvis legend of a different—and more modern—time. I should have left my own office building to see him perform in my hood, especially since I could have tried to coax a “Happy Birthday” out of him on this, the special day I came into the world. Promoting his new Nashville-tinged album, Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, here’s a track from one of Britain’s most prolific singer-songwriters of all time:

Elvis Costello – Sulphur to Sugarcane

Who: Elvis Costello

What: Secret, Profane & Sugarcane

When: 6.2.2009

Where: London, England

Why: “It’s not very far from sulfur to sugarcane.”

How: Hear Music

secretprofanesugarcane

The Moondoggies: “Bogachiel Rain Blues”

June 18, 2009

themoondoggiesGod only knows from what inspiration they derived their name, but I would listen to this band anywhere. On the moon. On earth. On Saturn, my favorite planet from my grade school Solar System days. In some other galaxy that we haven’t even discovered yet. Check out this track:

The Moondoggies – Bogachiel Rain Blues

For you lucky folks that will be here in the city on July 2, The Moondoggies will be playing The Rickshaw Stop.  You won’t find me in attendance because I will be off backpacking in a very cool but very undisclosed location. Don’t ask me where—I can’t tell you for fear you’ll add to the already too-big 4th of July outdoor-adventure-seeking crowds. But I’ll be listening to The Moondoggies on the road.

Who: The Moondoggies

What: Don’t Be a Stranger

When: 8.19.2008

Where: Seattle, Washington

Why: “Moonlight in your eyes.”

How: Hardly Art

don'tbeastranger

Crystal Antlers: “Andrew”

June 16, 2009

crystal_antlersWoe is me who learned of psych-punk band Crystal Antlers too late (but thanks to the latest Urban Outfitters free playlist) and therefore missed their show at The Rickshaw Stop last Thursday with Constantines and I Was a King. Released in April, the album is not brand-spanking new, per se—but it’s worth checking out either way. Mostly because of this track:

Crystal Antlers – Andrew

Who: Crystal Antlers

What: Tentacles

When: 4.7.09

Where: Long Beach, California

Why: “Don’t let me die all alone.”

How: Touch and Go

tentacles

The Virgins @ Great American Music Hall. 5.20.09.

June 12, 2009

thevirginsThere is a reason they are called The Virgins. The obvious one. That they are, indeed, virgins. This should come as no surprise based on the fact that they appear to have barely obtained driver’s licenses, and therefore must resort to bribing older brothers or strangers to buy them porn, beer, and scratch tickets. I know the faux-precocious group sings of coke and promiscuity, claiming to be entrenched in the NYC clubbing scene—but based on that performance, I’m not buying it.

For one, no one was there. Sadly undersold at the Great American, knowing that they provided the soundtrack for an entire episode of Gossip Girl unfortunately didn’t lend them the self-assurance they needed to feign even a semblance of stage presence. It did, however, explain the mostly high school demographic. I think that if they were actually having sex, they might not look so awkward, and therefore would draw a bigger crowd. People don’t like insecurity. That’s not why they go to shows. They like confidence! Courage! Poise! Bearing witness to leader singer Donald Cumming was almost like watching Brian Krakow get up on stage and try his hand at singing pop-rock, right down to his stilted, arm-isolating dance moves. (Although I’ll admit they did grow on me after a while, if only because they proved he was alive. Without an instrument, I suppose he had to do something to occupy his idle hands.)

Second, they were pretending to be British. If they were getting laid, they wouldn’t feel they had to charm the chicks into bed by affecting a phony accent. Although Cumming’s gnarled teeth would indicate a telltale UK aversion to braces, they are from New York, for God’s sake. There are other ways to acknowledge the influences of British bands like The Kinks, The Kooks, and The Clash that don’t involve talking like Hugh Grant.

Third, Cumming chose to channel the Grim Reaper. Sexually active men (or boys, in this case) don’t wear long coats with hoods on stage. Period. The only thing missing was the scythe, which I probably would have commandeered and used on myself if it had been present.

As Celina (brave soul) and I drowned in a sea of breathless preteen hipster-bimbos clad in miniskirts entirely inappropriate for the freezing evening, we agreed that these boys would not have been the ones to fuel our fantasies during our youth. Gavin Rossdale served as a much better sex symbol, thank you very much. Sexiness aside, Cumming simply lacked the magnetism that front men generally possess. Not everyone is a born performer, and I don’t want to hate, so hey, perhaps with some practice—they have been touring nonstop—he’ll come up with a little song and dance that won’t put the non-enamored sector of his audience to sleep.

I wasn’t expecting to be bowled over by their virtuosity, but I was hoping to dance to what I had considered—and still do consider, oddly enough—an infectious record. Is there a cure for their concert cold? I don’t know. The Virgins could try looking like they want to be there rather than being too cool for their own concert…without actually being cool. Bottom line: the kids can write a hit song, but a catchy hook does not a successful band make. Would I buy the album, even after seeing this teenage train wreck? Yes. And as uncharismatic as they were, I’d be lying through my straight teeth if I said I wasn’t just a wee bit excited to hear “Rich Girls” live. But next time around I’ll hold a dance party in my apartment rather than spending money on a show that could be better spent on porn. Or beer. Or scratch tickets.

Hombre Lobo Out Today

June 2, 2009

hombreloboAnother reason to love Eels (like you needed one): Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs of Desire, the new album released today, translates from the Spanish to “wolf man” or “werewolf,” which I imagine is a title inspired by E’s impressive facial hair. Or something to do with Twilight. But enough about me and my affinity for men with beards. It’s been over 4 long years since the band released Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, and the record is sure to satisfy your insatiable craving for fresh blood…I mean, uh, E’s deliciously gritty vocals. Which are almost as delicious as his constant state of beardedness. I could write 100 songs of desire about Mark Oliver Everett, let me tell you. Check out the new tracks here.  E