And then, there was this. The last of my Lone Bellow Carnegie Hall coverage from earlier in the month, and a video I’d been stewing over in my mind to make. Despite problems with this damn camera and worrying over any other things that could have gone wrong, this is 28 minutes of purely ridiculous magic on my part. One of the best entirely improvised videos of my review channel career, and I say without hesitation one of my best videos of all time. Just pure fun to record all the way through.
Posts tagged review
Here’s a video I shot today previewing some of my thoughts and opinions on the new Arcade Fire single “Reflektor”, the album of the same name, and just some general things going forward. Mucho excited for this one everybody!
I’ve been thinking more and more lately about my writing skills, and the reviews I’ve managed to put out over the last couple of years both here on my blog(in limited quantities) and in the videos many of you have seen over on Youtube. I haven’t been doing as much of this lately, mostly because I’ve been attempting to re-evaluate where this is going and what I want to do with this ability going forward.
As I’m sure you could guess, writing has long been a passion of mine in several varied forms. Since I first had that initial self-discovery back in the days of doing high school papers and half-hearted “creativity” projects, I’ve done everything from the aforementioned to sports writing to poetry to even a short story here and there. I always come back to music though, because if anything it’s as equal a passion to me as the art of writing is, and I’ve been seeking to a find a place within it that might accommodate my deep-seeded love of the art form.
I mean when it comes to playing music itself I don’t think my potential will ever exceed anything beyond hobbyist, but with this ability to paint in words…. I’m rarely the first to admit having a knack or talent for very much, but in these last two years I’ve discovered a consistent knack every time I go to tap into this well. However the buildup doing this online has proven to be a grind, and while the reward is in the creation it has me evaluating where to go next.
Realistically, I’d love to turn this into some sort of occupation. Again the fun is about enjoying what you do, and I’d love to be good enough to say I do this for a living without having to call it work, but direction is difficult. I’d love to submit pieces or ideas to places if that would be some kind of option, and if nothing else I’m certainly not ruling out continuing to go to school in the journalism genre to keep honing my skills. I guess the point of this piece is that I want to write and create things with meaning behind them, that don’t feel so much like they’re just getting tossed into the void.
And perhaps that’s the wrong perspective to take when even the smallest things have meaning if they’ve come from a creative place, but I’d just really like those efforts to matter. Obviously that takes just as much striving, but I’d like to think I’m slowly putting together something worth that ultimate goal and reward. Suggestions are always welcome, and just…. hopefully a continuation in a positive direction with something I value VERY very highly.
Concert Review: The Black Keys(w/The Joy Formidable @ The Outer Harbor Concert Series 7/8/13, Buffalo NY)
So the concert tour of concerts continues to roll on here in 2013, and at #10 on our list for the year we have what most would consider a blockbuster with The Black Keys. Now in my prior concert post on the band Dawes, I discussed what was a fairly large, 4th of July-buoyed show. THIS however, is easily one of the most massive events I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending in all the major venues I’ve gone to in the last two years here upstate. In terms of other fellow outdoor music spots, Bon Iver at the Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown last year was fairly spacious(as was Wilco at the Highland Bowl in Rochester), but Buffalo’s Outer Harbor Series easily takes the cake.
As Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach said at one point, “It’s like a mini-Lollapalooza out there!”. And while I’ve never managed to get an accurate scale assessment of the size of such major music fests while watching via internet live streams, the atmosphere and hordes of attendees easily felt completely similar. In fact I was initially taken aback by it’s size given my confusing the Outer Harbor Series with another Buffalo music spot called Canalside, but once you’re there…. there’s no mistaking the difference of what you’re in the midst of.
But other than discussing crowd sizes, the armies of beer tents(this has been a theme lately), and the significance of giant fields devoted to the mass pursuit of music, obviously this night was all about the bands! Somehow luck was again on my side at a general admission event as I found myself in the front row, though one does begin to question their “good” fortune when that discovery is followed by what can only be described as a slowly torturous hour and a half long wait for anything to start. Not exactly sure what the logic of that was since nothing seemed to occur in that lengthy period of time, but as the crowds swelled along with impatience, opening band The Joy Formidable finally took to the stage.
Now I’ve had a few days to listen to some of their music since this show, and I must say it’s only left me more confused about the opening set this three piece group from Wales England performed. To their benefit, Formidable has a swaggering cannonball sense of energy and a no-nonsense jammed out attitude to their music, but the live mix was HORRENDOUS. At first I thought my close proximity to the massive speakers was the culprit for this, but when The Black Keys came out later it may as well have been night and day by comparison. Between the amped up rock bass and amped up drummer(who could have passed for an Andrew WK clone), the bass notes themselves were both pummeling and quite literally painful. I like a lot of noise in my live shows to a certain degree, but it doesn’t take even a trained ear to realize when there’s overkill or something is just wrong. Vocals were drowned out, harmonies were pulverized, and any nuance was converted into a purely ridiculous level of migraine-inducing noise. Clearly The Joy Formidable don’t strive for any sort of library hush, but the setup has to be in proper step if the music is going to have any chance of hitting it’s intended mark. Really a low moment of the evening unfortunately.
But then it was time for The Black Keys, and while I don’t think it was everything it could have possibly been, those boys from Akron Ohio still know how to bring one hell of a live performance to the stage. Personally I’m probably still biased over not agreeing with their evolution from grimy basement tape-style, face-melting bluesmen to a more current Danger Mouse-influenced finesse, but that’s often the nature of the beast I suppose. Either way, Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney still have that knack for bluesy ear-catchers on their latest release(2011’s very consistent El Camino),with songs like mega-single “Lonely Boy”, “Gold On The Ceiling” and “Run Right Back” paving their way into more and more listener’s eagerly awaiting hearts. Given that, it was no surprise to see a hearty dosage of Camino make it’s way into Monday’s live set, along with a generous helping of songs from prior albums Magic Potion, Brothers, Rubber Factory, Thickfreakness, and Attack & Release.
The duo were supplemented by touring musicians Gus Seyffert on bass and John Wood on organ and various instruments, but when you get right down to it it’s the magic between Auerbach and Carney alone that makes this band function at it’s gritty, pulse-pounding peak. The two flow through gentle currents as efficiently as spiking time signatures, and there’s more of an evidently palpable electricity compared to the limitations of some of their already infectious studio cuts. In some ways it feels like there’s more to be explored in their sound that just isn’t quite being hit(especially in a set that was a tad light on length), but all in all between musicality, showmanship, and a ridiculous lighting display, this band still knows how to pull it off in style.
And really, other than a few minor complaints and the sound issues with The Joy Formidable, venue number ten at Buffalo’s Outer Harbor Series was a rousingly successful good time! Ordinarily crowd gatherings of that size tend to make me uncomfortable and claustrophobic, but the fun definitely surpassed any anxious feelings. Definitely recommend!
Review: Dawes(4th of July @ Party In The Park, Rochester NY)
Ah, the 4th of July. That magical time as Americans when we celebrate feasting upon a well-grilled variety of meats, watching rockets explode into a rainbow’s burst of color and noise, and seeing how many tearfully majestic bald eagles we can superimpose on patriotic red white and blue striped backgrounds. Oh and that freedom from colonial oppression thing, but I digress.
Anyway, one wouldn’t typically think there’d be many interesting ways to spend the afternoon on a holiday that usually involves cookouts and the patriotic spirit, but given that I am a master of luck that is both blundering and blind, I decided to take a shot in the dark. Enter Dawes at Rochester NY’s own Party In The Park last week, which is a limited summer series that runs every Thursday from the beginning of June to August. While I wouldn’t essentially refer to it as a “party”(though maybe that’s what most events incorporating beer swilling and salt potatoes are these days), it is a fairly spacious collection of vendors and ways to stay hydrated/entertained in the midst of an ultra-humid, upper 80’s weather day smack dab in the beginning of July. Throw a fairly large stage into the mix and the promise of a good band with a guarantee of a front row bird’s eye view, and you’ve got me in about five seconds.
Plus as it happens on this magical holiday, I was treated to two bonuses. One, the promise of those flashy bang-y colorful exploding things(some call them fireworks), and the surprise of three bands playing nearly one on top of the other. Minus the claustrophobia of that statement. First up was Violet Mary, who are a local five-piece blues rock band that really showed off a ton of talent in their altogether shortened opening set. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about events in this area has been the opportunity to take in some of the local music scene I haven’t really been quite as exposed to, and if anything this group is not only one of the best local acts I’ve seen, but also likely one of the best openers I’ve taken in along the way.
In addition to their lead guitarist having a very distinct resemblance to Clerks director Kevin Smith, the group switched up vocals between said guitarist, the bass player and their female keyboardist, and could take their sound from a hard pulse-pounding smash to a low-end varied hush. Throw in more than a pinch of deliciously sweet harmony, and you have a set that ended up staying with me long after the evening was done, which isn’t usually the case for most opening musicians I see once the opener states their case.
Second up was Doug Paisley, who was an unlikely Canadian country boy who looked like a cross between denim folk hero and a dusty Midwestern version of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. Credit to Paisley for his storyteller brand of songs and far north sentimentality for the stylings of the further south in the likes of Hank Williams(whom he covered at one point during his set), plus his apparent repeated enthusiasm to be playing where he was at. However the energy felt difficult to maintain after Violet Mary’s opening salvo(especially for a guy alone with his guitar), so the “room” and it’s overall demeanor felt slowly sapped as it grew closer and closer to time for Dawes to at last hit the stage.
But debates about energy and waiting aside, when Dawes finally emerged(after what seemed to be a meticulously timed and tuned wait), there was not an ounce of disappointment to be found in their headlining. To be quite honest I hadn’t been all that well-versed in the LA band’s discography before this point(more or less going on what I’d heard through name and certain songs alone), but I came away with an impression that I know is going to remain with me in all my music-listening ahead. They’ve certainly gone through a transition since the days of Simon Dawes with former bandmate Blake Mills, but it’s a strong one that really allows their Laurel Canyon sensibilities to shine right through like that trademark West Coast sunlight.
From gorgeous three part harmonies buoyed by the brotherly talents of lead guitarist Taylor Goldsmith and drummer Griffin Goldsmith to influences seeming to range from Neil Young to The Eagles, the four piece tunesmiths moved smoothly and often with savage riffing through songs off their first three albums North Hills, Nothing Is Wrong, and 2013 newcomer Stories Don’t End. The group showed off that trademark skill for melodic hooks and ear-catching choruses that has made them so definable in the first place, and coupled that with an inescapable energetic force that gives their songs new life outside of the confining nature of the studio cuts. It was a rare moment not to see one Goldsmith jumping and jamming around in the spasm of some fresh guitar pattern while the other laid down a sparse or humming groove with the sticks, and of all the definable parts of Dawes it’s the interplay between the brothers that seems to stick out the most.
Credit must certainly be given where it is due to bassist Wylie Gelber and keyboardist Tay Strathairn, but most of the buzz seems to originate from within what the siblings bring musically. On one side of the coin Taylor’s guitar work, striking vocal and abundant lyrical strength guides the band’s songs in an extremely articulate direction apart from most of the rest, while Griffin’s complementary backing vocals and skill behind the kit sets him well beyond a simple drummer merely keeping time in the background. In fact I think one of the most interesting moments was when the latter broke into a lead vocal on a cover of Bob Seger’s “Who Needs Tonight”, which was just another fun part of the nucleus that is Dawes in a nutshell.
Add a fireworks display to cap off the evening, and you have a 4th of July spent in one of the finest ways I think I’ve ever chosen to make an effort to go out in it. This was actually kind of a funny and exemplary way of showing off just where my interests and tastes have gone over the last few years, and hopefully when the next one rolls around I can do much the same thing. Party In The Park, I will be visiting you again no doubt!
Archive Review: Bob Mould Band “Live At ATP 2008”
So in thinking back on all the Youtube music reviews in the wings and not currently prepared(of which there are quite a few), I’ve needless to say been slightly on the side of overwhelmed about the whole process. That’s not really a state of mind I like having about a form of art that I find to be so relaxing and inspiring, so instead of resulting to pressure to stay on the cusp of what’s current, I’ve decided to let my brain for music decide where to take me next. That can often be a very random path, but I find that’s when I’m the most comfortable and at home having passionately involved musical conversations.
Enter Bob Mould. Initially I’d been trying to work my way into a couple of John Grant solo albums, but after finding that immersing into his brand of genre-hopping was more difficult than I expected for my current state of mind, I instead switched over to what I still dub one of my greatest musical discoveries of 2012. The 52-year old grizzled, still snarling rock veteran remains a busy man these days, even with highly prominent stints in the famed 80’s punk outfit Husker Du and the lightly sweetened punchy edge of 90’s group Sugar dangling behind in the rearview mirror. Mould has done superb turns as a solo artist, beginning with the post-Husker album Workbook in 1989 up to 2012’s surging return-to-wrecker Silver Age, and has also managed to dabble in EDM, production work, and more muted material that has eloquently showcased his knack for melody and songwriting with a lockjaw-bitten intensity.
Enter Live At ATP 2008. While it’s by no means the next Live At Leeds or Live At The Fillmore East, it’s a tight 12-song thunder and lightning buzz of a set that perfectly encapsulates Mould’s knack for meshing 11-volume Stratocaster mashing with a nasally growl that’s equal parts balled fisted pining as it is the scorned kid still letting it rip since Zen Arcade. And while he’s had the pleasure of exceptional backing bands such as Grant Hart and Greg Norton with Husker Du and David Barbe and Malcolm Travis with Sugar, it’s with Verbow’s Jason Narducy and Superchunk’s Jon Wurster(including Rich Morel on keys for this release) that Mould arguably seems to find his greatest musical center. Running through particular favorites like “The Act We Act” from Copper Blue, "Celebrated Summer" from New Day Rising, "Circles" from Body Of Song, and “See A Little Light” from Workbook, Live At ATP 2008 samples from Mould’s flair for melodic resonance and watches it build into the spurned banshee spittle of “Chartered Trips”, and the pounding punk anthem finale of “New Day Rising”.
There’s not a lot of frills or pretense to be sure, but this release kicks like a mule and is as straightforward as any proper live album really should be. It’s not terribly exploratory(especially for an artist with so much long-running backstory in his musical catalogue), and if anything that’s the only major downfall to this relative snapshot of a record. Given how much Mould seems to naturally flow alongside Narducy and Wurster, it would only seem natural to see the now-trio put out a proper full length concert release as they tour for Silver Age. However while that does for now seem to be mere wishful thinking, Live At ATP 2008 shows that while there may more snow on Mould’s roof these days(or none at all given his consistently shiny bald head), it hasn’t slowed his ability as a superb live performer or musician. While some might argue against the merit of his solo releases in recent years, the appearance of songs like “Circles” and “Paralyzed” from Body Of Song for instance fit in just as strongly and with just as much vinegar-ed tenacity as any notable turns from classics out of the Sugar or Husker Du stable.
So sit down and take a listen. If you wonder where bands like the Foo Fighters or Green Day or No Age or even Ryan Adams derive some inspiration, look no further than where Bob Mould is coming from, and where he’s continuing to go to this day. It’s a little dated now, but Live At ATP 2008 is a pretty sweet-sounding, face melting way to get your journey started.
In the last video of my latest burst of thoughts on tape, I decided to spontaneously review the self-titled album from The Lone Bellow that came out earlier in the year. It’s past due, but this album is just so notable and so particularly special for a debut that, well I feel that a review is necessary to put up!
So here’s a little video I did last week on Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival, the all request set they did, and just some talk on one of my favorite bands out there these days. It’s a bit dated now, but I had fun doing it!
And, in getting back to basics here on my Youtube page, I did a couple of quickly paced vinyl finds involving Chris Whitley, Tom Waits, and Iggy Pop! Simple enough, but pretty nice new content if I do say so myself.
Well whaddya know, I’m finally back with my first serious Youtube video in a few weeks! And it doesn’t get more serious than this in my musical world, as I crack open the leak of The National’s “Trouble Will Find Me”, avoid copyright infringement, and look forward to what’s already one of my favorite releases of 2013. Excitement is an understatement of a word!