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Where’ve ya been?

February 8, 2011 Leave a comment

I know, I know. You haven’t heard from me in a while.  Sorry, I’ve just been really busty lately (heh heh heh).  Busy and IN ANOTHER COUNTRY. For those who were unaware, Charlie (a friend) and I (me) spent a semester soaking in the fine Scottish culture IN SCOTLAND.  We attended such enriching events as: rugby watching, haggis devouring, whisky tasting, indian food devouring, getting plastered, deciding that indian food was a bad idea, toilet devouring, and not posting to this blog.  I did that last one A LOT.

When Charlie and I weren’t reaping the benefits of a cultured colon, we were out exploring Europe.  “But Andy, that doesn’t seem very fair, that you get to enjoy europe and we don’t get to!!” Jesus Christ, man… don’t sneak up on me like that… do you reali…(breathes heavy) you just scared me alright?  Jeez.

Yes, I agree.  It’s not fair.  It’s so not fair that I’m not ok with not doing anything about it.  Lucky for vous (culture=you’rewelcome), we FILMED THUH WHOLE THANG.  Yep, it’s true.  You can watch all of our daring adventures here.  I dare you (heh heh heh again)

Now a lot goes into scripting filming and editing a travel show. Namely scripting, filming, editing and getting into petty fights that eventually end in tears when it’s not even fair cuz it’s not like you ever payed attention to any of MY needs.  Jesus, Karen!  What was I saying? Oh yeah, all of those things.  PLUS we had to find musicians who would let us use their music on the show for freeee (which is rearry hard).  The following are some of the bands that were awesome enough to let us use they’s music. Fuck Karen.

Art Decade

Arms and Sleepers


Craig D’Andrea

The Grownup Noise

Clatter Clatter

The American Dollar


From the bottom of my broken little heart, I want to thank all of these musicians for their willing contributions to what turned out to be a bloody waste of time (Just kiddin’… this is america. A “fuckin” waste of time)

More blagh posts to come.

Categories: Uncategorized

Andy Went to a Concert 3: Maps and Atlases

August 19, 2010 Leave a comment

“I had the extreme displeasure to see Maps and Atlases play a rock show last week at the Middle East.  Upstairs.  All they did was play really fast and sing really good and wear flannel and be awesome and I hated all of it.  I have a pirannah shoved up my ass and one of these shoved up the other thing.”

Did you like that?  That was my impression of an asshole.  I have been working on it for a while because one day I dream of writing for pitchfork.  –Oh… you thought that was real?  You agreed?  You have gonorrhea (TMI, by the way)?

Here’s the real review: A (the fuck) +

I had the extreme pleasure to see Maps and Atlases play a rock show last week at the Middle East.  Upstairs. They played really fast and sang really well (notice I’m correcting asshole grammar) and wore flannel and were awesome and I loved every second of it.  I have a pirannah shoved up my ass and one of these shoved up the other thing (this, sadly, is still true).

Lead singer Dave Davison or, as I like to call him, “Nearsighted Bigfoot” was all smiles, flannel shirts and frenzied tapped-out solos last week, as he and the rest of the 4-man Chicago outfit played their way through their new album “Perch Patchwork” in Cambridge.  Controlled chaos is really the only way to describe their music.  They take complex drum beats, arpeggio picked solos and slapped out bass parts and somehow make it accessible to the normal ear.  Let me put it this way: they’re trying to make a peanut butter, prosciutto and horseradish sandwich sound appealing.  Each of those things on their own is complex and delicious, but you’d be hard pressed to sell that at a restaurant when you combine them all together.  Magically, however, they’ve actually succeeded in making that Shit-Sandwich the best thing on the Middle East menu. (ZING, Middle East).

About half way through the show I was faced with a particularly biting question.  Is it ok to change my pants in public?  (I was enjoying the show so much I LITERALLY soiled myself). (ok, so I was using the awesomeness of the show as an excuse for soiling myself… sue me.)  (What’s that?  You’re suing me?) (*soils self*)

Admittedly that paragraph was a bit of a digression.  The point is the show was freakin’ sweet!!  The music was fantastically complex and challenging in all of the right ways.  The band was super nice as well.  In fact after the show they said something like “Andy, nice shirt bro!” (…. ok so they didn’t say that).  They did however do something I’ve never seen before, which is offer to play their encore outside, in the cool summer night.

That’s right, they took their instruments and 100 riled up fans out in front of the convenience store next to the club and played a three song acoustic set.  The really amazing thing was, though, that all of these drunk, mindlessly-hollering hipster hooligans showed the utmost restraint during the encore.  The band was playing outside, on the streets, without a permit (yeah you need a permit, Mass really blows sometimes).  But seeing this, and being aware that causing too much of a scene would get their new favorite band arrested (ok not really) they showed support by golf clapping and hushedly singing along to Davison’s already quiet “outdoor voice”.

At one point, a cop stopped by to see what all the hubbub was about (there was a crowd of 100+ people huddled in front of a convenience store) and seeing that this was the most tame rock concert ever, HE WENT ON HIS WAY.  No warnings, no arrests.  Saw the love, and let it be.  This qualifies as an AWESOME show in my opinion.

Categories: Uncategorized

Andy Went to a Concert 2: Kaki King

Howdy you’all!  I come to you today with a much belated review of Kaki King’s April 17th Middle East show.  Yes I know it’s May now, I BE SORRY!

Let me paint you a scenario……. ok done.  Now let me TELL you a scenario.  It’s a cold, rainy night in Cambridge.  The air whips past your face like air whipping past your face (couldn’t think of a good analogy).  Streetlights illuminate and puddles accumulate (woah, that almost rhymed).  There is a soft thumping from the rock club in front of you, drowned out only by the line of 4.2 million people waiting to get in to it (perhaps sliiight exaggeration).  You are wearing a hooded sweatshirt AND a suit jacket because you’re so INDIE!

Anyways, a bunch more crap happens. they don’t accept my confirmation number for the tickets I ordered. have to beg my way into the club. cried a lot… blah blah blah.  Let’s get to the actual show.

Kaki’s new album Junior came out in early April and this show was part of a touring effort to promote the sale of this record.  “Ok, gotcha!  So she pretty much played new songs the whole time, huh?”  See, that what I thought! (We have so much in common… you wouldn’t happen to be free for dinner Saturday?)  Contrary to common conception, she played a really good mix of old and new songs, pitting new rock anthems like “Death Head” against classic acoustics like “Goby“.  The real difference in the show came in the energy.

Kaki King April 17 2010

It's rainbow because fuck you that's why!

This was a rock show.  As someone who has seen Kaki twice before, her typical show consists of a more laid back atmosphere.  Her shows are usually very banter-driven (seriously, if she weren’t a musician, I’d recommend stand up… great personality).  This show, however, was much more music-centric.  The songs were the focus of this show, and who could blame her?  This crowd wasn’t the type to sit quietly and listen to stories or jokes.

Come to think of it, this crowd wasn’t the type to sit quietly and listen to ANYTHING!!  At one point it got so loud one mutha’ucking genius decided it would be prudent to yell “SHUT UP” at the very tippiest toppiest of her lungs….. Bit of advice: remember all those movies where, if it’s too noisy, yelling something really loud shuts everyone up?  Those movies BLOW!  That doesn’t work!  It only makes everyone louder!  If the person who did that is reading this: I hate you! (but no, seriously call me… we’ll do dinner… ohgodplease*)

Now, with all this commotion, one might assume that the performer might get a bit flustered.  Not the case. Kaki King is an entertainer, pure and simple.  She fed off the energy of the crowd. In fact, during her encore (a performance of crowd-pleaser “gay sons of lesbian mothers“) she put the music on a loop pedal and jumped off stage and into the crowd.  It was there that she proceeded to dance… and dance…. and dance.  T’was awesome to say the least.  If I’d had a dollar for every time Kaki jumped off of something during that show, I’d be a rich man…(and a genius for finding a way to make money off of that).  All in all, kick-ass show!  Mucho approved-o!  A-plus-o! and other things that end in o.

April is AWESOME

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Hello my friends, how are you all doing?  No, no that’s good… keep talking, I’m really interested. No really, what were you saying?  Uh huh… yeah… you don’t say. Ok that’s enough from you. MY TURN.

Now, lets get one thing straight: I’m a fan of music.  So when I hear large quantities of really good music, I get really excited.  How excited, you ask? Very excited (and I thought we’d agreed you were not to speak).  This month several artists are releasing new albums for your listening pleasure.  Here are a few of them.

Kaki King: “Junior”

Kaki’s back!  And, well, to be honest, rock-ier than ever.  Her new album “Junior”, was just released here in the states last week and I’ve already given it a few listens.  For those of you who have heard Kaki’s earlier work and have thought “well, I’m too much of a metal head to appreciate good acoustic music.  Gosh, I’m such a narrow minded mouth-breather”.  Fear not, Kaki has heard your cry.  “Junior” takes typical Kaki King finger-style guitar work, amplifies it and runs it through a distortion pedal.  Don’t believe me?  Watch this (fun starts at about 30 seconds):

Pretty bad ass right?  Check out “The Betrayer” as well if you liked that one. Now for those of you who have heard Kaki King before and thought “well gee, all that noisy guitar was awful.  Gosh I’m such a narrow minded mouth-breather”.  Fear not, try “Spit it Back in my Mouth” or choose for yourself by PREVIEWING the WHOLE ALBUM:

John Butler Trio: “April Uprising”

John Butler has typically been known for his fancy-dancy blue-grass/country inspired guitar work.  A lot of that is still present here on this album.  This album is certainly catering to a wider audience, though.  The songs are much more hook driven, and typically feature less bottle neck slides than his earlier work.  Still pretty boss, though.  This one’s my favorite:

Jonsi: “Go”

Jonsi, full name Jon Þór Birgisson, was the lead singer of long standing Icelandic favorite Sigur Ros.  Sigur Ros announced last year that they would be taking an “indefinite hiatus” to allow for band members to focus on their families and solo projects.  “Go” is one of these solo projects.  It is an interesting album.  The entire thing is wrapped in this etherial mist of pretty sounding things… that’s literally the best I can describe it.  Much of it is sung in Jonsi’s trademark falsetto.  Jonsi isn’t for everyone… he’s a bit of an odd character, but I garuntee after a few listens you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.  Did I say odd character?  Here’s the music video for “Go Do”, wherein he is dressed in what I can only describe as Rainbow-meets-Indian Cheif-meets-Mummified Pirate garb… and yes,  it’s awesome:

Antoine Dufour: “Convergences”

“Convergences” is set to come out April 27th and serves as a follow up to his incredible “Existence” album.  This is a particularly exciting album for me, becuase… well… I love the guy. But also, there is a notable shift in inspiration, from traditional folk guitarists to more mainstream acts.  There will be covers of Imogen Heaps ever popular “Hide and Seek” and Coldplay’s “Life in Technicolor” as well as a song inspired by Coldplay’s other work called “Cold Day”, seen here:

Hannah Georgas: “This is Good”

I bet you haven’t heard of Hannah Georgas.  That’s ok, I hadn’t either.  I stumbled across her music on CBCs Radio One site, and I must say… I had to change my pants.  She’s a solo singer-songwriter from Vancouver, and she’s very good.  She’s all the things I love about the soloist genre, with just the right mixture of vocal chops and well thought out music.  Think Regina Spektor, only canadian…  So, as you can imagine, I already had an uncomfortable tightening of my jeans to worry about, but when I heard the album was co-produced by Mother Mother’s Ryan Guldemond… well that was about all I could handle! Pass me a towel.  Now, it’s nigh on impossible to find any information about this album, but it is rumored that it will be released April 27th.  Please check out her myspace and watch this:

Foxy Shazam: “Foxy Shazam”

“Andy, what are you some sort of sissy?  Listenin’ to yo’ gurly ass music? *insert mouth-breathing noise*”  Ok, first of all, what did I say about you talking?  Second of all…you want rock?  Fine, see if I care.  Foxy Shazam is ROCK.  They’re a progressive band from cincinatti and dammit are they fun to listen to.  Think a modern day AC-DC with more basketball references.  Their self titled album just came out this month, and is actually streaming from their myspace.  I think all you need to know about these guys you can learn from watching the music video for their song “Oh Lord”, ENJOOOY:

Categories: Uncategorized

Andy Went to a Concert!

March 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Boston is no stranger to great music.  In fact at this very moment, there is probably some great band performing an old favorite to a group of  beer guzzling post grads.  There are unquestionably tables set up in the backs of small stage venues, where long haired hipsters offer a myriad of delightful musical gear.  In fact, I know that local favorites “The Dropkick Murphys” are playing a show at the House of Blues.  But I didn’t go to any of these events, and I feel pretty good about that.

But Andy, why??  Well that’s a good question, but perhaps let me explain first before you open your god-forsaken trap next time.  I DID go to a concert tonight, and while I’m sure the good ‘ole DMs (that’s a thing right?) put on a hell of a show, but tonight, I didn’t care to see their fast paced, mosh inducing antics.  No, tonight, I went to see Olof Arnalds, an Icelandic folk artist… (entirely free show btw, you really oughtta keep your eyes open for those)

Who? you may be asking.  Did I stutter? Olof Arnalds. Never heard of her?  Well I guess I see where you’re coming from.  She hasn’t really hit the states as hard as her Icelandic comrades Sigur Ros or Bjork.  She is probably better know for her involvement with Mum. Her style of playing is soft, melodic… at times quirky, but always entrancing.  Her quiet guitar arpeggios set the backdrop for her ghostly, wavering soprano.  For the most part she sings in icelandic, which is an interesting and welcome change of pace from most of the music I listen to.  I beleive a friend of mine described it best when he called it “summertime laying in the grass-type music”.

The music was great, but I find you can learn much more about the musicianship of an artist by listening to what they do in between their songs.  It is here that you are often able to see how comfortable a musician feels up on stage, facing the relentless gaze of 50 or so strangers.  This is no easy feat and we could see that there were times Olof was visibly flustered while trying to read the setlist (which had been placed on stage upside down), or when switching instruments.  However, these nervous ticks quickly subsided and what we ended up seeing was one of the more confident, and sincere performances I’ve seen in a while.  She truly got to know the audience, and I feel we got to know her.  She had several songs where she asked the audience to participate by singing a harmony over her vocals.

At one point during the show, some mouth-breather outside decided it would be a good idea to lay on their car horn for a good five to ten minutes, causing Arnalds to stop playing midsong.  Olof handled this by making a joke about how it reminded her of the monotonality of Icelandic punk music, and eventually retuning her guitar to be in tune with the car horn outside.  Her banter was breif but funny, and at times thought provoking.  My favorite quip of hers came when she was describing this instrument, which is made from the shell of an armadillo.  “So, you know… pretty brutal.” she sighed “But I can’t think of any better afterlife, than to be made into a beautiful instrument.”  I am, of course, paraphrasing, but it was such an interesting line, I had to include it.  All in all it was an experience worth a thousand times what I paid for it (which, lucky for my college budget, is still free.)  Moments like this one: going into the show not knowing what I’d find, and walking out with a smile on my face, make life worth living.  I definitely recommend seeing her the next time she rolls around. Whether she be on her own, or with Mum she definitely deserves your attention.

Check out her myspace here: Olof Arnalds.  Try “I Nyju husi” and “Klara”

Categories: Uncategorized

And Thus Ends a Decade (Part 2 of 2)

December 16, 2009 2 comments

For those of you who read part one of this blog post thanks so much. For those who haven’t you can catch that here.

I’m not going to lie to you guys, this post is tough for me. I got cocky with my last post “Ooooh look at me… I’m soo important, there are only ten good albums blah blah blah”. Would somebody shut that douche up?  What, does he think he’s better than us? (Take notice how I have cunningly and craftily removed myself from the blame… ha-HA). Well as it turns out, there are lots of really great albums that came out over the last ten years, and now that it’s crunch time (and I already used up 5 of the 10) I’m finding the decisions tougher and tougher to make. Who am I to decide what albums are better than others? And besides, what is an album anyways… y’know, like in the grand scheme things… album is, like, just a label man… (Note to self, no drugs before blogging).

Anyways, what I’m trying to say is; these decisions were tough, but I just kept going with the criteria that I suggested in part 1 (that I should be able to listen to the album cover to cover without the urge to skip any songs).  There are some albums that didn’t make this list that I absolutely love, and some of my top 10 favorite bands didn’t make this list, but I have to knuckle down and be a man. Here are the last 5.

Mother Mother – O My Heart (2008)

If there was one band I was absolutely sure had to make this list, it is the canadian quintet Mother Mother. Originating in Vancouver, they have released two albums and have done several multinational tours. The band started when lead singer Ryan Guldemonde wanted to round out the sound of his music in a full band setting. He recruited his sister Molly, and before long Mother Mother was born. Now they have released 2 full length albums to high critical praise and are already working on a third. Their 2008 effort, O My Heart is without a doubt a weird album. It fuses elements of folk, jazz, rockabilly and even rap into the alternative rock genre. The focus with most of the songs is certainly the melodies. Don’t get me wrong, the lyrics are fun, but often heavily repeated (see Hay Loft). This album is odd, quirky and downright strange… but it’s also one of the most endearing I’ve heard. You can’t stay mad listening to “Ghosting“, “O My Heart” or “Body“.

Antoine Dufour – Existence (2008)

I first heard about canadian born folk guitarist Antoine Dufour almost by accident. I was watching a popular video on youtube called “Drifting” by one of his contemporaries (Andy McKee) and Antoine’s “Spiritual Groove” came up in the related videos section… the rest is history. This choice was not an easy one, for if you actually take a day to watch all of the videos on the Candyrat Records channel, you’d realize that there are literally 5-6 very talented and overly qualified artists all doing amazing things with the guitar. I decided upon Dufour’s Existence because there are so many beautiful and complex songs on that record. There is the musically entrancing “Catching the Light” and also the technically demanding “Song for Stephen” wherein he changes the tuning of his guitar mid-song. He is the winner of the 2006 Canadian Guitar Festival’s Fingerstyle Guitar Championship, and the winner of my attention. BRAVO (brav-ohs… also a new breakfast cereal.)

The Weakerthans – Reunion Tour (2007)

This Winnipeg based quartet is certainly not new to the music scene.  The Weakerthans have been making records since 1997.  This project was formed by John K. Samson, who used to play for the popular punk band Propaghandi.  This new project, however, was a departure from the heavy fast political punk of his old band.  The Weakerthans takes a step in a more mellow direction, which isn’t to say they can’t still rock out.  The fun blues and folk inspired punk riffs, however, are not even close to what makes this band worth a listen; that award goes to the lyrics.  The lyrics are introspective and insightful, like nothing I’d ever heard before.  Several of their songs are written from the perspective of Samson’s cat Virtute, and are often commentaries on the state of his owner.  The depth of meaning in Samson’s lyrics coupled with his nasal yet earnest and unimposing vocals makes this music to think about (and who doesn’t like using the old noodle?  Also, in addition to that noodle thing, who doesn’t like using their brain?).  Reunion Tour is their ten year anniversary album, and their fourth studio effort.

With lyrics like “My popcorn squeaks with the question, wonders why I’m not at home” and “Why can’t I draw right up to what I want to say?  Why can’t I ever stop where I want to stay?” it may be tough to tell he’s actually talking about the sport of Curling, but that’s exactly what “Tournament of Hearts” is about.  My other favorites include “Night Windows” and “Civil Twilight“.

Modest Mouse – We Were Dead  Before the Ship Even Sank (2007)

Modest Mouse is yet another band that has been around seemingly since the beginning of time.  Starting in 1993, they remained, for the most part, a second tier indie band throughout the remainder of the 20th century.  They really came into the public forum, however, with their 2004 hit “Float On“, which was so popular as to become overplayed and subsequently (and ironically) unpopular.  With the corresponding album Good News for People Who Like Bad News people began to recognize them as a serious indie contender.  With that kind of hype, however, there is almost always a tendency for the follow up record to be a large disappointment.  This is usually due to either the band being unable to handle the pressure, or because the record label sees an opportunity to make a quick profit and over-produces the album.  Modest Mouse’s follow up, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, did not fall victim to either of these pitfalls.  Aside from a suspiciously MIDI-enhanced sounding Dashboard (which even still is a really good song) the band sticks to it’s guns, keeping overdriven guitar and lead singer Isaac Brock’s gritty voice the focus.  The album showcases several great songs such as “Spitting Venom” and “Missed the Boat” as well as “Little Motel“.

Maritime – We, the Vehicles (2006)

Maritime, like The Weakerthans, formed after a prominent underground indie band broke up… actually two prominent indie bands to be precise.  In 2003 Maritime was formed by Promise Ring singer and guitarist Davey Von Bohlen and included the bassist from The Dismemberment Plan, as well as Promise Ring drummer Dan Didier.  Von Bohlen decided to take this project in a different direction from either of the bands from which it spawned.  This band was much more acoustically oriented and tended to lean away from the borderline emo lyrics from their early 21st century counterparts.  Maritime’s second album We the Vehicles is an orgy of power chords, fast strumming and melodic vocals.  I suppose in the grand scheme of things, they’re really not terribly important… they don’t stand out too much… they’re just like any other indie band from the last ten years.  So why pick this album?  Quite simply put, I’ve listened to loads and loads of these types of album: catchy, but nothing to write home about.  Of all of those albums, however, none have made me want to write home quite as much as this one.  Check out “Tearing Up the Oxygen“, “Parade of Punk Rock T-Shirts” “We Don’t Think, We Know” and “No One Will Remember You Tonight

So… there ya have it…  There were soo many eligible albums to choose from.  When it came time to pick these last five, I found myself with a short-list of 14 albums that I consider to be great.  Unfortunately only 5 could make the list.  I’d list the runners up but I feel as though that would diminish the sense of mystery.  Maybe your favorite album just barely didn’t make it, ooooohhhh the mystery oooooohh.  Anyways thanks so much for giving enough of a shit about what I think to read this far into my post.  I hope at least I’ve helped you discover a few new artists you’ll like, if not validated your feelings towards a particular band.  Again, if you didn’t catch part 1, you can do so here.

P.S. Sorry, but have to give these guys some credit.  They did make my short-list, but overall I decided they just didn’t have quite the volume of songs I was looking for on their album.  This, however, does not diminish from their overall musical prowess.  Boston’s own Art Decade and their album Royalty (2009) definitely deserve an honorable mention.  They’re just a blast to listen to and really fun to talk to, as I discovered when I interviewed them on my show a few months ago.

Check them out on myspace.

(Also check out Audiophilia‘s Top 10)

Categories: Roundups, Uncategorized Tags: , ,

And Thus Ends a Decade… (pt. 1 of 2)

December 10, 2009 7 comments

Well it’s that time of century again… when the last few seconds of 2009 expire in just a few short weeks, it will be a new decade.  Seeing as it has been a popular topic for bloggers, music enthusiasts and, oh yeah, just about every radio station in the continental US… I thought it might be nice to reflect upon the last 10 years.

The 2000s were  responsible for introducing us to bands like The Jonas Brothers and Kanye West.  It was a time when phrases like “superman dat ho” and “sugar we’re going down swinging” were made to thrive.  I guess I can’t say it was all bad though… at least we managed to put out 2 Twilight movies, am I right?

Now I know you’re all thinking: Andy, there must be something you liked about the last 10 years?  You are correct.  Amidst all the Kelly Clarkson and Bronson Arroyo (better known for his being a red sox pitcher NOT A MUSICIAN DAMMIT), the music industry did manage to put out several albums that I consider to be worthy of the highest praise.  I’m the kind of guy who can barely pay attention to anything long enough to even tie his own shoes, so any album that I can listen to cover to cover and not get bored with any of the songs is really a keeper (to be said in the most wisconsonist of ways).  Here are a few that have been able to do just that (in no particular order… at least listen to the links if you’re not gonna read it haha):

Death Cab for Cutie – Plans (2005)

Death Cab’s album, Plans, came out in 2005 and was a huge success.  Death Cab was formed by lead singer and guitarist Ben Gibbard (also of All-Time Quarterback and the ever popular Postal Service).  This was the first record that they released on the Altlantic Records label.  They had experienced some indie success for their previous album Transatlanticism, which showcased the single “Sound of Settling”.  Yet as good a single as that was, they really hit their stride with their 2005 follow up Plans. On this album they boasted heavy hitting chart toppers with their singles “Soul Meets Body” and “Crooked Teeth“, both of which received extensive airplay.  However this is not what makes this album worth a listen.  If it only had two good songs, I would simply recommend you go out and download them and be done with it.  This album is however a masterpiece of songwriting.  Each song is an ebbing and flowing tribute to the beauty and simplicity of analogue sound.  You know a song is good when even the bass line is holding your attention; no song does this better than “Summer Skin“.  However, my favorite song on the entire album has to be “Brothers on a Hotel Bed“.  Death Cab later went on to make the personally dissapointing “Narrow Stairs”, and most recently a single called “Meet Me on the Equinox” which so far as I can tell, was written explicitly for Twilight’s sequel “New Moon”.  Come on guys.

Director – We Thrive on big Cities (2006)

What do Director, Bell x1 and U2 all have in common?  If you said they’re all bands, you’re right… and retarded.  The actual answer I was looking for was they’re all Irish.  In 2006 the young quartet from Malahide, Ireland released their first album We Thrive on Big Cities, which found a strong foothold across the Emerald Isle.  They were praised for singles such as “Reconnect” and “Big Cities“.  They then proceeded to win several accolades for the album, including a 2007 “Meteor Best New Band” award.  I like them personally because they have a style reminiscent of other art rockers, such as The Strokes, yet at the same time have a level of songwriting I’ve seen nowhere else.

Telefon Tel Aviv –Fahrenheit Fair Enough (2001)

During my freshman year at Northeastern, my friend Charlie introduced me to New Orleans duo Telefon Tel Aviv.  They are a part of a movement within electronic music known as IDM (Intelligent Dance Music), which tries to express complex beat structures and off-kilter sampling through the digital medium.  Their 2001 album Fahrenheit Fair Enough is certainly an interesting take on the electronic genre.  In the background they contrast the smoothest of synth melodies with the most random cacophony of any and every sampled sound, which serves as the beat.  The resulting mish-mosh is prickly,  frenetic, almost epileptic and yet oddly soothing .  This music is well suited to studying, and I’ve even found I study better while listening to it.  Also try driving and listening… whoaaah.  If you haven’t already, check out “Fahrenheit Fair Enough” and “John Thomas on the Inside Is Nothing but Foam“.  But wait, also try TTV.

The Slip – Eisenhower (2006)

The Slip have been around a while and have been kicking ass for almost as long.  They originally started off playing avant-garde rock in 1996 after dropping out of Berklee College of Music.  10 years later they released Eisenhower, which was, by far, their poppiest foray into the music business to date.  Their song “Even Rats” even made it into the first Guitar Hero game.  However, this album was certainly not about the fame.  Every song on this album is its own little world, with it’s own stories and its own ambiance.  One song might be a slow ballad showcasing the vocal talents of singer/guitarist Brad Barr, the next might be a heavily percussive funk inspired mostly instrumental piece.  This range is seen quite clearly between “Suffocation Keep” and “Airplane/Primitive“.  The one thing that makes this album so easy to listen to, is that it never, for even one second, gets boring… and yet it does so without resorting to heavy on/off, loud/quiet shifts.  My hat is off to the Boston based trio.

Kaki King – Dreaming of Revenge (2008)

Kaki Kings 4th studio album continues in the tradion of her previous efforts; amazing acoustic guitar.  This album however sees much more of her vocals than her previous albums, a huge step for the New York singer/songwriter.  She had been hailed as one of the best female guitarists of our time.  Over her short career she has managed to work with such bands as Tegan and Sara, Northern State, and oh yeah… THE FOO FIGHTERS.  The lead singer of whom is quoted as saying “There are some guitar players that are good and there are some guitar players that are really fucking good. And then there’s Kaki King.”  She has also helped score such films as “August Rush” and “Into the Wild”.  But enough about her… the album “Dreaming of Revenge” was released in 2008 and showcases Kings talents as a guitarist, a vocalist and a songwriter.  She shows off her ability to play guitar on “Bone Chaos in the Castle“, her singing prowess in “Life Being What It Is” (song starts at 43 secs) and her ability to write a crowd pleaser with “Pull Me out Alive“.

I hope you’ve taken the time to read all of this, and if you have… THANKS GOMES.

Click here for Part 2