Wednesday, May 28, 2014

i see paris/ i see france/ i see you makin' the face again.

I have a harder time finding kindred spirits in the indie rock of today versus more post punk and britpop influences. So I refuse to let my writer's block keep me from posting about one of my favorite current bands!  Tokyo Police Club is a group that I've been waiting to hear live since my ears first stumbled upon "Breakneck Speed" and "Wait Up (Boots of Danger)" [from Champ (2010)] in a friends car back in the day. Nostalgia is one of the biggest factors in what music really resonates with me and Tokyo Police Club's lyrics tend to strike that factor. Thinking back to that moment in the car, I probably had a different initial reaction than my current feelings to the lyrics "I remember when our voices used to sound the exact same/ Now we just translate.", but I was definitely drawn to the songs immediately.

Going into the show on May 13th at Black Cat, I tried not to let my hopes get too high. So many album reviews were saying that the newest album Forcefield (2014) pales in comparison to "their best album" Champ. In my eyes, this is a wrong way of looking at a band, but I can be guilty of it too.  I try to go in with a clean slate and welcome an evolution in sound, so I had been listening to Forcefield to prepare myself. A show is never as fun for me if I don't know most of the songs and I grew quite fond of "Argentina", "Hot Tonight", and "Miserable". The riffs,  rebellion to inhibitions and pretension, and still-solid lyrics were aesthetically pleasing to me. The live show turned out to be energetic and diverse. They played a good mix of their music from over the years and was authentic with just the right twist. Dave Monks has the perfect onstage balance of nervous energy, humor, and even the balls to come out and sing "Tesselate" acoustically with no microphone. This would be a band I would love to tour with or work with in any capacity.

"we share bottles we share gum/ when you smile you smile with all your teeth at once/ and when you smile with all your teeth/ yeah i'm done."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

the walkmen go out.

The Walkmen's performance on Saturday night was their last DC show before a self proclaimed "extreme hiatus". I was excited to finally see them, yet sad that it would be under those circumstances. We did not know going in that the new Dock 5 at Union Market venue was outside. The cold had us questioning who would book an outdoor venue in DC the day before December (with only one bar!!). Luckily, The Walkman delivered with their performance.

The group was able to captivate a freezing audience with their hits. My favorite of which was the closer "In The New Year". In hindsight, I wish I hadn't left before the encore.


in the new year

Thursday, August 8, 2013

picture me and then you'll start watching/ watching forever...

July 28th's New Order show at Merriweather Post Pavilion was easily one of the most captivating performances I have ever seen. At times I was in tears at the aesthetic produced by the combination of sound and visuals. New Order's unique blend of post-punk, dance, and alternative electro came to life on stage, egged on by an eagerly awaiting crowd. Even after all this time, the songs still sound perfect. "Age of Consent", "Bizarre Love Triangle", and "Blue Monday" really brought the memories flowing back. The finale of "Temptation" was my personal favorite, and really got the people going.

The three songs used for the encore continued to break with the rumor that Bernard Sumner doesn't like to play Joy Division. The encore ended up being a tribute of sorts to Ian Curtis. As time goes on, it is most apparent that Sumner and Curtis both played integral roles in the Joy Division post-punk sound and writing process. Sumner was able to carry out an unparalleled style of music after Curtis' tragic suicide. While former bassist Peter Hook is not pleased that his band mates are going forward as New Order, his solo work does not quite conform to the same standards.

All in all, this show had everything it takes to be epic. Nostalgia, great music, stage presence, visual appeal, and positivity. I hope for the opportunity to see New Order perform again.


Friday, May 31, 2013

rip imperial china.

I was fortunate enough to catch the tail end of Imperial China's final show Wednesday night at the Black Cat. Rushing over after work afforded me to hear the concluding three songs and it was totally worth it. Their individual blend of electronic samples, guitars, and resounding percussion created a pleasant post-punk product. This is unique because they were able to sound much bigger than a three piece. This show was no different, as everyone was hyped on stage and playing with exaggeration.

Many old-school DC heads were in attendance for this last hurrah. Folks returned from Pennsylvania and California in order to catch the band's last moments. It was great to see them go out in style and with a positive attitude. Having known the split was coming, they were able to plan a blowout last set that concluded in throwing the drum kit through the wall and selling leftover merch for "whatever you want to pay".

for more on their background/ the last six years:
washington post
washington city paper

Friday, March 22, 2013

new york got me.

Earlier this week I headed up to NYC to meet up with friends and have a pseudo-vacation. This trip reinforced my plan to branch out of DC. The increasingly underwhelming art and culture scene in Washington suffers from an overbearing focus on politics, the transient nature of the area, and lack of venues to create/debate cultural dialogues. Three days in New York revitalized me from my stupor and gave me faith that I can stop my laziness with a little inspiration. I was always the person who said I like NYC as a place to visit, but could never picture myself living there. The fast pace, which was a deterrent in the past, proves to be more of a motivator.  At this point, it seems like leaving DC is possibly the best option to make some strides in my aspirations.

On a less serious side, here are a few things to check out in NYC on any random Sunday:
*Start with spectacularly delicious margaritas and Mexican at Barrio Chino.
*Meander to free shows in the lobby at the Ace Hotel- picture ambient electronic sounds (Ghenghis Hans & Color War were there the night I went), kitschy decor, a bar, and the bustle of a busy hotel environment.
*Try to get into "Not Your Standard Bingo" at the Standard Grill- huge punch bowl, bingo, karaoke, dancing on tables, shots, shame, general tomfoolery and camaraderie. 
*Finish off the night with a trip to the swanky and sexy Le Bain on the rooftop of the Standard.

PS. My new favorite song- "No Angels".

Monday, March 4, 2013

i'm not asking for a storm.

I am about a year late on this record and album, but it is too good not to write about. First Aid Kit are Swedish sisters (Joanna and Klara) with a knack for American folk music. "Emmylou" is a single off of The Lion's Roar (2012). I highly recommend the whole album.

The concept and artistry in this song is something that I rarely find. Rich harmonies and steel guitar relay the haunting story of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris' partnership along with the great love and influence June Carter and Johnny Cash had for one another. Nostalgia comes flowing from the video, which was filmed in Joshua Tree where Parsons requested his ashes be scattered when he died young at age 26. The sisters somehow just "get" it.

they make patti smith cry
the lion's roar live

Friday, February 15, 2013

sound city.

Dave Grohl has directed a documentary about the legendary Sound City Studios. Formerly in Van Nuys, California, Sound City produced more than 100 gold and platinum albums from 1960 until closing in 2011. Artists included Neil Young, Buckingham Nicks, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Pat Benetar, Rick Springfield, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash, and more. Grohl intertwines first person accounts from the artists and employees with historical footage and a soundtrack of songs recorded at the studio.

What really resonates in this film is the technological shift from analog to digital and its influence on the studio, artist, and recorded music in general. The Neve 8028 console was innovative in 1973 at the time it was purchased by Sound City for $75,000. It played a large role in fostering the unique production and drums present in recordings. Problems arose when analog techniques could not stand up to Pro Tools and its earlier incarnations. Computers came into the picture, tape turned to compact disc, and studios were expected to do a complete overhaul to keep up. Sound City kept afloat as long as they could after the change, but in the end they simply didn't have the funds or business to stay open. Grohl ended up purchasing the console and producing a reunion album bringing together Sound City artists.

The debate on digital v. analog is complex. There are obvious innovations made possible by digital recording techniques. It is easier to fix mistakes or chop up parts of a track and put them back together. From hip-hop sampling to auto tune these new possibilities leave me with mixed feelings. A part of me prefers analog methods because it forces the artist to be good at their craft. As a singer, I think it's important to actually be capable of performing the music that is being put out under the artist's image. Otherwise, I'm supportive of new additions allowing music to progress in different directions. Digital technology has progressed to a point that home recording is a reality for the masses. I truly do appreciate that I have professional-level production at my fingertips for a nominal fee.