A friend of mine recently described Best Coast’s new album, “Crazy for You” as sounding like “Mazzy Star if Hope Sandoval was from Southern California.” I love the analogy, as any chance my teenage love for Hope can be rekindled I jump at it….but I’d save it for another Californa duo, Tamaryn’s “The Waaves”. Thanks to our difference of opinion I’ve just set you up to compare and contrast dueling Cali duos for the rest of their recorded careers.
Best Coast – “Crazy For You”
It is easy to fall for Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino. For those of you not familiar with Bethany, she was the glowing vocalist on the “All Summer” track put out by Converse.(I love that song). She seems like the perfect girl, outside of her love for her cat…and cats as a whole in general. Seriously check out her blog, the album cover, her lyrics where she wishes her cat could talk…it’s a bit much. OK, beyond her future as a lonely cat lady she seems pretty cool. She’s goofy, has an obsessive love for all things Seinfeld, and writes some hooky pop gems. Inspired by their sunny home state of California (Hence the moniker “Best Coast”) all of the songs on “Crazy For You” are washed in a surfer glow vibes with tinges of old school 50’s girl groups singing about her boyfriend, summertime, the beach…and weed. Like I said it’s a love letter to California. They love their weed here. Weed and Avocados. I’ll never understand it. I can’t figure out avocados but I can figure out Best Coast. They married simple hooks and melodies with simpler lyrics. Sometimes you just want to relax when you listen to music. Bethany’s voice takes each minimalist track and raises them to greater heights of carefree bliss.
Highlights: “Crazy For You,” “Boyfriend,” “When I’m With You,” “Our Deal,” “Happy”
Tamaryn – “The Wavves”
Sexy slow burning shoegaze set to the hushed vocals from the real heir to the Hope Sandoval throne. Reverb, Fuzz, and ethereal vocals are only part of the equation as you listen to their lead single, Sandstone…There’s a lot going on in each song. They would seem to be the anti-Best Coast. Not that there’s anything wrong with that
Highlights: “Sandstone,” “Cascades,” “Choir of Winter”
What do past TRAffIK featured artists The Radio Dept, Miike Snow alll have in common? They, along with Robyn, The Shout Out Louds, Lykke Li, The Tallest Man on Earth, and El Perro Del Mar are all Swedes. Should we start breaking ground for a new wing of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame over there? I suppose I’m jumping the gun a tad but you have to admit their music scene has grown by leaps and bounds. Before 2000, when The Hives broke into the states with “Hate to Say I Told You So“, the Swedes were best known for….well let me just provide this chart.
Not exactly a murderer’s row of artists. What is most impressive is that Europe was able to sell 20 million albums off of one (kick ass) song. That has to be some kind of one hit wonder record.
Now that you have Sweden’s most prolific artists fresh in your mind it is much easier to appreciate the Swedish music landscape for what it is now. Artists like The Hives, Peter Bjorn and John, The Knife, and The Sounds laid ground work for the Swedish invasion that we are currently reveling in. “Swedish Invasion” sounds too played. Let’s call it “The Stockholm Syndrome”. Soon to be added to my favorites from Sweden list, which currently consists of Miike Snow and the Radio Dept, is ceo. I find the stylistic choice of leaving the letters in ceo all lowercase off putting and the fact that his website is a black hole of info* is a bit annoying…but the album makes up for all of that. For a short form (28 mins) album it manages to hit a few different sounds. It is a combination of M83 styled instrumentals (“All Around”) Miike Snow-esque sleek romps of synthy pop driven jams (“Come With Me”) and Sigur Ros lush soaring strings and emotion (“Den Blomstertid Nu Kommer”). I just threw out M83, Miike Snow, and Sigur Ros?! WOW.
I don’t think I need to say more. Do I?
Highlights: “Come With Me,” “Illuminata,” “No Mercy”
Black hole of info* – As far as info goes, this is what is available on his website:
“CEO arises in 1981 and 1891. in 3064 and tomorrow. after ibrahimovic and before nectanebo II. before the dark ages and after spring break. before time was, ceo is.ceo arises in miami, hell, holzschlag, the andes, sparta, chianti and wall street. in the antennae galaxies, kungsm ssan, flushing meadows and the mariana trench. before space was, ceo is.you may call me sophia, yukio, fanta, eric, kiki and krishna. and wii and whitney.ceo is the photosynthesis and an aria, it is silence and virginity lost in a gang bang.ceo is a bird in space and ceo is the space in a bird.ceo is saliva, patr n, november rain and panic. it is a relief, a citrine and it is broken dreams.ceo is the harlot, the prince the snake and the shaman. in a spyker c8 laviolette. and on a mirage.ceo is raspberries and chlamydia, it is the shadow and it is a clapping game.ceo is auroras and charlotte casiraghi. it is laser beams and a home by the ocean.ceo is a lost love and rihanna’s voice. it is hibernation,the spectacle, and every breath you take. ceo is platinum and it is valium, it is a quasar and it is a lie. ceo is a breech forest and a slamdunk. ceo is the ashanti and ceo is seinfeld. it is eucalyptus, neon and a smile. ceo is a war zone and a sanctuary. it is dukkha, dilla and the body of light. ceo is cashmere, sweat, zooxanthellae and a stiletto. it is implosion technology and it is the match point. ceo is you and you are me and i am ceo. in eternity.”
Your Friday just got that much better. Arcade Fire’s new album has leaked!
With their previous two albums Win Butler and Co. set the bar pretty damn high for their third album, “The Suburbs”. “Funeral” and “Neon Bible” were truly amazing albums that will always hold a special place in my iPod’s heart. “Funeral” was an absolute musical epiphany for me, and I used to melt off hangovers at Santa Monica beach set to the sound of “Neon Bible’s” church organs. I found no irony in the fact that the track that housed those ominous organs was titled “Intervention.” I’ve been talking up “The Suburbs” all summer. It is that one tent pole blockbuster that all the other drops have been leading up to. Knowing that I’ve already had an unhealthy amount of anticipation and set unfair expectations on this album–I tried to dial it down a bit…but The BBC just exasperated the situation this week with their pre-release quote. Speaking about “The Suburbs” the BBC said
“…It is their most thrillingly engrossing chapter yet; a complex, captivating work that, several cycles down the line, retains the magic and mystery of that first tentative encounter. You could call it their ‘OK Computer’. But it’s arguably better than that.”
Wow. Better than “OK Computer.” No pressure there. It’s stupid to even compare it to that. I’m not against comparisons by any means. I tend to compare stuff all of the time, but Radiohead’s “OK Computer” is far more different in tone and style than this (from what I can tell as I give it it’s first full listen). I’m up to track five and I’m already loving it. The frantic energy of the strings on “Empty Room” caught me off guard in the best way possible, especially after the “Free Fallin’ ” slow groove of the Petty-esque “Modern Man.” It’s certainly too early to tell if it will match or top “OK Computer”…but it sounds like classic Arcade Fire so far.
Highlights: “In the Month of May,” “Modern Man,” “Empty Room,” “Half Light I”
Read More from the BBC review here
Note: Arcade Fire will be live streaming their concert on 08/05 @ MSG with “very special guests.” My guesses: David Bowie..and Mark Messier. Check out the trailer here.
Don’t be fooled by the smell of barbecue in the air, the popping lids of iced cold beer, and all the smiling people in trunks and bikinis riding bicycles. The source of their pleasure is a scorching gaseous star emitting cancerous UV rays that want to kill them. If anything, stage a revolt this summer: Stay indoors. Defy the sun by opening all the windows and finding a good book to read.
Sure, in this age of the e-reader, a whole library can be taken with you wherever you go, including to all those sunny outdoor places, but have you ever tried to get sand out of a Kindle? Me neither, but it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. Plus, there are crowds to contend with. You’re better off in the comfort of your own home. Why throw rent away? The truth is, with the right reading material it won’t matter. Let books take you where you want to go. And why not start at the top with Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Sure it’s over six hundred pages of dense reading, but relax, you’ve got all summer! If you don’t read it now when will you ever? Plus, it’s an adventure story. Takes place on the high seas. Perfect for the season. And quit whining about difficult reading, you’re an adult now, time to put the Harry Potter down.
Okay, maybe you’ve just got something against whales (hmm…I’m telling you, you may want to check this book out!). Maybe, you get seasick easily, or I don’t know, something else, like it’s not quite the tale you’re looking for. (more…)
It was off to Make Music Pasadena on a recent Saturday afternoon. After having spent my vacation (a future column) using public transportation, I decided to head on out to Pasadena on a metro bus. It wasn’t a mistake, per say, but it took an hour to get to Pasadena from Glendale. If I was a skilled marathon runner, I would have gotten there in less than half the time. If I had driven, I would have gotten there in less than half the time. Sometimes, public transportation just isn’t worth it in Los Angeles County, I say. You may disagree with that, but let’s just leave it at that, a friendly disagreement.
But that is beside the point, because I did arrive at Make Music Pasadena in time to catch Warpaint on the Main Stage. I’ll describe their sound as finding yourself in a sonic heaven that sends you into a wonderful trance. As is often the case unfortunately (I am learning) at these music festivals, Warpaint had some equipment problems. The guitarist was having to fiddle with knobs throughout the set and eventually said, “Oh no, our bass is cutting out.” The band had a core group of fans. One of the sound guys on the stage seemed to be getting his flirt on with one of the guitarists. And after just a couple chords into their last song, I could hear screams from the crowd. I must say that the band members really know how to use their hair.
Comment: “Let’s hear your best call of the wild.”
After Warpaint, I walked across to Kendall Alley (a smaller outdoor venue) to catch Eliza Rickman. I was first introduced to Eliza Rickman sometime last year when she was playing with Aaron Beaumont over at Hotel Café. Her instrument of choice? A toy piano — though she also had a small drum set behind her. She used her right heel to kick the bass drum. Before starting her set, she handed out toy musical instruments to a trio of individuals in the audience. At the start of her fourth song, she said, “People with the toys, this is your time to shine. This song gets me tips at Farmers Markets from kids, because they love it.”
After saying hi to a couple friends that I noticed in Kendall Alley, I went back to the main stage to catch The Antlers. The main stage audience section was packed so I headed to the sidewalks on the opposite end of the street. At this point in the day, the sun was shining directly into the eyes of the band and so the lead singer eventually said, “I’m going to put on some sunglasses, because I can’t see you.”
For Matt and Kim, the next band on the main stage, I moved back into the audience section. I started out perhaps twenty rows from the stage. Matt and Kim came running on stage, throwing a couple t-shirts into the audience, and with that I surged forward ten feet. After their second song, I couldn’t help but notice that; first, they both had huge smiles (they smiled during their whole set); second, they jumped atop of their stools constantly. Their fun and energizing attitude carried over into the audience. Folks were crowd surfing throughout and there were at least three audience surges toward the stage. By the end of their set, I was four rows out and couldn’t help but wonder how I got there. As for those outside the audience section, they had also found their way into the street, but the security guards came over and asked that everyone move back to the sidewalk. The security guards behind the barricades also were dealing with crowd surfers who were deposited in the photography-only section.
Comment: Matt, “We made a video of this song in Time Square where we got naked. During Coachella, a guy jumped onto the stage and got naked, showing his penis to everyone. He’s now a registered sex offender in the state of California.” Someone from the audience, “It was worth it.”
We’re a little more than half way through 2010 and it’s safe to say it has been a pretty incredible year for album releases so far. As you know, I love making lists so I decided to put out a quick top ten list of my favorite albums so far. If you haven’t made sweet ear love to these albums DO IT NOW!
10.) Janelle Monae – “The ArchAndroid”
An amazing ambitious debut of genre jumping tracks
9.) Delorean - “Subiza”
They shimmer and dance on your soul like a pool’s magical healing waters on a hungover summer day. Dive in and let the warm glow fix what ails you
8.) Tame Impala – “Innerspeaker”
The Lennon-esque vocals are married to trippy psychedelic guitars and drums that definitely time warp the listener back to an era when people dropped acid like it was their job
7.) Titus Andronicus – “The Monitor”
The Civil War spun as an analogy for suburban doom and gloom by a bunch of disenfranchised post punk rockers from New Jersey
6.) Jonsi – “Go”
Jonsi’s ethereal voice will brighten any sky and push the clouds out of your mind and leave you in a warm happy place. This album is like Zoloft for your ears.
5.) The Radio Dept – “Clinging To A Scheme”
Delicate textures and melodies wash over the tracks in a waves of emotion that are enhanced by the lost love crooning vocals
4.) Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Before Today”
They shift gears from new pop leanings (“Round and Round”) to low fi chill-waves (“L’estat”), 80’s sweet cheese (“Can’t Hear My Eyes”) to drugged out fuzz attacks (“Butt-House Blondies”). …and I’m a sucker for all of it.
3.) Gorillaz – “Plastic Beach”
I love this album. I love it because of what it is. I love it because of what it isn’t. I’ll be honest though, I didn’t love it right away. In a way that’s the beauty of it The different soundscapes, the variety of guests, and the “newness” of it all combine to create a sound that welcomes you to revisit the world over and over again.
2.) Phantogram – “Eyelid Movies”
Two unassuming Up-State New Yorkers throwing down sexy vocals and psychedelic melodies on top of hop hop beats. A pretty simple formula…but there’s so many more layers to their sound. Fifteen seconds into the lead track and I knew I’d be a huge fan.
1.) LCD Soundsystem – “This Is Happening”
As the lead track “Dance Yourself Clean” started up with its slight downer vibes I wondered where the LCD party was. I was sure I was destined to sing “LCD I Love You, but you’re bringing me down”. Then at the 3:08 mark the drums kicked in, shaking off the bad mojo with them, and I haven’t looked back since. If “This is All Happening” is truly his last album it is one epic swan song. This album is is full of amazing tracks. I’m only on my second spin of it but I feel confident in saying this might very well might be your soundtrack to the summer. I want to say so much more but my mind is swimming in the beats and layers. This album has altered my ability to think straight.
LCD, it’s a helluva drug.