This past Monday night, I went to see personal favorites Two Gallants (official, myspace) at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. They put on what was probably one of the best shows I’ve ever seen – including a segue from “Steady Rollin'” into “Two Days Short Tomorrow” (my favorite song from What The Toll Tells and my favorite song from The Throes), and the audience chanting “FUCK PITCHFORK” as a response to “Long Summer Day,” which was the focus of a somewhat controversial (and in my opinion, bullshit) review of 2Gs latest release. However, that’s all I’m going to say about their performance, because I’ve gotten a bit of harassment of my blatant pimping and perhaps “bias” towards the group since I kindofsortof know them (in that way that a journalist “knows” a band they interview and occasionally talk to at shows).However, there was another band at the Bowery show who put on a performance with the same energy and vigor that 2Gs did – the openers (surprisingly), Cold War Kids (official, myspace).
Let’s face it – opening bands are usually pretty horrible. Before the concert on Monday night, I couldn’t remember the last time I saw an opening band I actually enjoyed (excluding concerts that I went to specifically for the opening band). Not only were Cold War Kids energetic, the music they play is catchy, but in a somewhat spastic indie rock kind of way, not so much a pop way. Overall, their music is just so damn interesting – from the arrangements, to the instrumentation, to the lyrics. I dare you to listen to “Hostpital Beds” (download) or “We Used To Vacation” (download) without wondering about the lyrics, or finding the melodies/harmonies stuck in your brain. Both of these songs are from the Up In Rags EP, which I very highly recommend — I haven’t heard their other EPs, but I’m now very tempted to. I also recommend checking out their website, which has all kinds of amazing photography and art (as well as a couple of MP3s).
Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of rap/hip-hop from the late ’90s and early ’00s, because that is when I went through my rap/hip-hop “phase,” as motivated by the listening trends of my new public middle school, and getting ready to graduate from college makes one a bit nostalgic. Though there weren’t really any particular artists that I clung to (aside from the Beastie Boys), one thing that never died was my love for a good rap/hip-hop song. Once again, I’m a bit picky – there’s nothing I hate more than monotone rappers and boring beats. I need flashy beats and voices with inflection (as well as awesome rhyming skills). Enter the new Ghostface album (website), which has been getting rave reviews. The lyrics to songs like “Be Easy (Feat. Trife)” (download) and “Big Girl” (download) are ridiculous, but in a hilarious kind of way, and the beats are sure to make you move your hips like crazy.
You know how lots of people are flipping their shit over Arctic Monkeys? I feel like a lot of those people should also be flipping their shit over Wolfmother (official, myspace). It’s not that their self-titled release is anything ground-breaking. It’s just that it’s really fucking good, and they do that whole throw-back, revival thing a lot better, in my opinion. Perhaps because songs like “Woman” (download) and “Vagabond” (download) are so reminiscent of Zeppelin (yet not in a “blatantly ripping them off” kind of way) that my ears can’t help but swoon. I do admit that the album can get a little tiring if you listen to it all the way through and aren’t in the right mood for it, but almost all of the tracks are still worth hearing.
The Duke Spirit
You know how I just wrote that people who are freaking out over Arctic Monkeys should listen to Wolfmother? Those people should also listen to the Duke Spirit (official, myspace). Again, it’s not that they’re doing anything particularly relevatory, but songs like “Darling You’re Mean” (download) and “Lovetones” (download) show good originality in their songcraft. I’m sure that sentence sounds perhaps like some kind of pretentious pitchfork writer bullshit, but that’s really all I can say to explain at this exact moment, because it’s 2 a.m.
Oh, the indie rock singer-songwriter. I’m sure you have your own thoughts and stereotypes that come to mind in terms of what they might sound like, what lyrics they might use. Jon Auer (website), normally a part of the Posies, does a more than adequate job of blowing those stereotypes out of the water with his solo album Songs From The Year Of Our Demise. As promised by the title, the songs are rife with bitterness, like in “You Used To Drive Me Around” (download) and “Four Letter Word” (download). Still, there’s something in the quality of the music that doesn’t seem tired or worn out like so many singer-songwriters tend to – also, a certain amount of grace and beauty sucks the listener in pretty easily.
Within the past year, I’ve heard the name Okkervil River mentioned through almost every hipster’s lips. I also heard the name Shearwater mentioned for consideration of large coverage in the magazine I write for. What I hadn’t heard are the following two things: a) the actual music, b) Shearwater is a side-project for one of the members of OR. On Palo Santo, it’s the slow moving, sleep inducing songs that reign free, but I don’t allow that shit to be played when I’ve got a posse in my crib [edit: I wrote this at 2am, falling asleep on the keyboard but eager to finish it – and I don’t know why I wrote that sentence, but it’s so hilarious that I’m going to leave it in]. If I want long, pretty, sprawling tracks, I’ll listen to tracks like “Seventy-Four, Seventy-Five” (download) and “Red Sea, Black Sea” (download), which at least hold my attention instead of making me want to jump in bed and close my eyes.
For those of you who are keeping track, I found an outfit for the RS 1,000th issue party. That’s right – I’m going.