Monday, June 21, 2010

Getting Funky

I went to Rock the Garden on Saturday with Amber and her brother. The line up wasn't that exciting (Retribution Gospel Choir, OK Go, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, MGMT) until I heard Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings on the radio a couple of weeks before the show. I like RGC, but an outdoor festival playing to thousands doesn't do their music justice.

Words will not do Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings justice, either. To say that they are a throwback to James Brown-esque soul cheapens them, because they are authentic, straight out of 1968. I can't recommend them enough; if you get a chance to see them, plan on a spiritual experience. I haven't listened to any of their albums yet, but was encouraged that all four are available on vinyl.

Retribution Gospel Choir is worth checking out too. Fronted by Alan Sparhawk of Low fame, they are the heavy, doomsday preachers that you'd expect to be the project Sparhawk fronted in college, rather than after 18 years of grandfathering the slowcore movement (is that a fair summation of Low?). His strong, yet broken voice brings all the harrowing themes you've come to know and love from Low. Oddly, it fits in well with the dive bomb riffs and hypnotic sludge of RGC. It would have been nice if they played later in the day to cleanse the palate of all the high gloss and tightness the other bands brought to the stage.

Note: Picture of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings courtesy of Jason Albus (if he ever finds out that I used it).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This Sound is Broken

Broken Social Scene performed "Texico Bitches" last night on Jimmy Fallon. The new record is solid and, for their part, so was the performance. However, the opportunity was hampered by a shoddy mixing job by the sound engineer. Obviously, reproducing the sounds from a record is never easy, but I wonder if the sound guy even bothered to listen to the record, or, if he had, if he bothered to listen to what the final mix sounded like. It reminds me of listening to an album meant to be listened to in stereo with only one speaker. What is a full, rich sounding song in principle, came off sounding thin and, honestly, rather amateurish as if every sound was attempted to be recreated through an old Casio keyboard.

On the plus side, singer Kevin Drew's vocals are pushed forward both on this record and on Late Night. It was ballsy to have the vocals pushed so far back in the mix on their self-titled release, but Drew's voice is very capable, and it's a relief to know that the decision was a conscious one and designed to mask an inability to sing.

Still no word on where fans can purchase their official BSS tutu...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Duck and Cover

Dear Miss Lucia,
Iron and Wine, Mates of State, Nada Surf, The Bird and the Bee, and The Flaming Lips are just a few band that have recently released, or plan on releasing entire albums of cover songs. It is disheartening to see some of indie rock's heavy hitters reduced to cover bands. I have always looked to "indie" music as a beacon of creativity compared to more mainstream music and, perhaps foolishly, held higher standards for their output. While cover songs are wonderful in the arena of live music for their spontaneity and homage to influences, releasing an entire albums worth of over material is nothing but a two-bit vanity project designed to do nothing more than make some quick money without putting in the time to actually write the songs. Not only does this erode the integrity of the recording artist, as well as the original song writers, but selling an album of cover songs grossly panders to a gimmicky capitalism that completely negates idea of "independent" music.

Even if we are to believe that the intent of the recording artist is to, as suggested by the Mates of State website, expose their fans to music that they, the recording artists, like, there is no reason why these artists can't just compile a mix "tape" of the original recordings and post them on their websites.

The question also arises as to how a band is supposed to tour in support of such albums and how, apart from perhaps a larger budget for laser lights, are they going to be any different that the cover band that just played at my cousin's wedding?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

eskimo hunter

I finally gave Eskimo Hunter a listen. It's a shame I didn't do it earlier, but to be honest I was turned off by the name. I don't know which came first, the sound or Jason71, but Eskimo Hunter does sound a whole bunch like Pacifico era Lassie Foundation in all the right ways; dreamy, jangley shoegaze pop. Sure, the songs could use a little more dynamic, but that would defeat the spaciousness of the songs.

The ladies will like them too because Jason71 has played bass with Ryan Gosling's band Dead Man's Bones. What lady doesn't love "The Notebook"?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

She Does That Thing.

If there's no music, we can't dance.
And we can't meet girls unless we dance.