Monday, December 31, 2007

ZOOM IN: a close look at ten 2007 albums

...that changed the way I think.

While I listened to a lot of music this year, I've decided to select ten albums that I feel I really got into and grew attached to. I listened to these albums probably more than is healthy this year, and so I have decided to make a post with a blurb about each, and a sample song for your listening pleasure.

Please enjoy.

1. Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover
I absolutely adored this album. The moment I heard it from the leaked version my brother slipped to me, I was in love. The energy, the sheer punch it posseses, is really original and different. Each song is erupting with creativity, and each song is extremely different from the next. Not only that, the songs flow into each other beautifully and perfectly without a bit of effort. Pitchfork didn't put this on the best albums of 2007 list, and I think this was a huge mistake on their part.
This track is one of the gems of the album in my opinion. Shifting between a delicate melody and booming explosions of percussion instruments is a beautiful story. I can't get enough.

2. Beirut - The Flying Club Cup
The first time I heard this, I thought it stank. I was shocked and taken aback by Condon's sudden change from gypsy ethnic to french bistro. I didn't give the album a second chance. Luckily though, shuffle brought me to the tracks "Nantes" and "Guyamas Sonora", and I had to give it another listen. While the middle of the album lags a little and the strong songs are definitley at the beginning and end, overall it's beautiful, and sounds just as elegant as Condon's previous work. It's delicate yet complicated; beautiful but filled with remorse and edges. Lovely work, Mr. Condon. Sorry I doubted you.
Track download: Nantes
I suppose this is the popular choice as "single" from the album, but I really can't help it. It is beautiful, haunting, and has definitley seized me.

3. The National - Boxer
When I saw the Paste had voted this the best album of the year, I was so happy. Ecstatic that The National's second full length had been recognized, and also that other people could appreciate it's genius. I have been hooked on The National for three months now, and this album is by far their best work yet. Some songs have a melancholic, forlorn feeling, while others burst with a thrashing of different feelings and sentiments. Also, the lead singer Matt Berninger couldn't have a more original sounding voice. I have never heard it before in todays music, and this just makes their sound all the more recognizable and fun to listen to. The fact that they can do so much with one album astounds me.
Track download: Squalor Victoria
Although it is the shortest track on the album, this song captured me from the moment it began. It's beautiful, intriguing, and yet so simple. It only uses a piano, vocals, drums, and some strings. Gorgeous work.

4. of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
I have more than 15 plays on each song on this album. Not only is it catchy as fuck (pardon my french), the lyrics are witty, the blend of instruments and electronics is (as always) perfectly melded into one golden sound. of Montreal keep proving to me that they can outperform and outdo themselves. I adore this album in all it's pop electro indie goodness. Just can't get enough, and keep on dancing along...
I chose this track because I feel it's the one we hear the least about from the album. It's a fabulous song, suave and cool but also screechy and insane. How can you do that in one song? Also, it's a perfect example of how of Montreal utilizes their electronic sound to it's full extent.

5. Caribou - Andorra
Caribou's newest release is one of his best in my opinion. Each song is haunting and has a sort eerie charm to it. I picture driving down a highway with the rain beating on the windshield; or running through a forest with beams of light coming through the trees; or sitting in the window of an old castle get the picture. "Andorra" evokes whatever is most mysterious and exploration-worthy to you. It takes you there, I swear.
Track download: Sundialing
As I said before about the but seriously, this song is that scene. It's that moment. It's beautiful and it's structure melody leave nothing to be desired.

6. The White Stripes - Icky Thump
Thank you, Jack and Meg. Thank you for redeeming yourselves after the horror that was "Get Behind Me Satan". I was scared for The White Stripes, but then I heard "Icky Thump" and sighed in relief. A lot of this album sounds like good ol' thumping, banging White Stripes. A lot of is new ventures. A lot of picks it up where the band had previously left off. The amazing part of the album is the ability they have to bring all these different points in their music life together and make them a really great album. Cheers, to both of you. Please tour again.
Track download: Little Cream Soda
This song jumped off the album for me at first listen. It's hard, it's rough, it's in your face and I love it. It reminds me of the Stripes as they were way back when. Awesome stuff.

7. Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog
It's hard to put this album into words. Even now I struggle to type something in to fill the space. This album is subdued and quiet, and yet there's a loud quality to it that comes across in the complexity of the music and sounds you hear. The compositions of the songs are perfect; they are full and like breaths of fresh air. Each one is new and different as you go from song to song on the album. A beautiful album, structured with finesse and delicacy and yet filled with raw emotion.
Track download: House By The Sea
This is my favorite song on the album. The beginning catches you immediately and the melody follows you throughout the song and stays in your head even when it's long over. I also love the eclectic range of instruments used.

8. Bat For Lashes - Fur & Gold
Okay, I'll admit it: I discovered Bat For Lashes in Teen Vogue. But that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the genius of their little band any less. "Fur & Gold" is beautiful and haunting. It's absolutely gorgeous, in fact. It's magical and mythical: each song tells a story like a fairy tale and the overall theme of the album is like a story book. It's extremely eerie at parts but that only adds to the perfect mystery. This is also an album that, when you listen to it all the way through, in order, sounds absolutely gripping; like one long song you never want to let go of.
Track download: Horse And I
This song opens the album, and although it wasn't the first song I heard, it is now the one that catches my attention the most. It is incredible and powerful in a quiet way. The beginning notes are especially amazing. Gorgeous. Really. I can't use any other word.

9. The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
While many fans felt a deep dissapointment in The Arcade Fire's newest release, I was thoroughly pleased, and I'm not afraid to say it. I loved their outward turn from inside suffering to worldly suffering. While the lyrics still leave something to be desired (what else is new? deal with it) the music is even more grand and overcoming. I think their blend of instruments and intricate melodies are something to be marveled at, and on this album, I think The Arcade Fire have discovered to what limits they can achieve their own unique sound.
A great track that tells an interesting story by means of a plethora of different instruments and sounds. Need I say more?

10. Battles - Mirrored
Some may call this math rock, but I like to call it calculated chaos. It's amazing how Battles can make everything sound so sharp and precise and on the dot, and yet also create a sound that evokes total and complete madness. I love this album and it's original unique sound. I think Battles has really gotten onto something here; they are different, and people love that. This album demonstrated just how much they are capable of producing. Wonderfully crafted, original sounding, fun to stomp around to...what more do you want?
Track download: Leyendecker
Sounding almost like a hip hop track you may hear on the radio, Battles creates a catchy beat and interesting melody to which you can easily nod your head, tap your foot...oh just get into it already man.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A sound-off: the best albums of '07

You’re probably wondering why you should even bother to read yet another “Best of 2007” list, and why an adolescent, urban girl’s list at that. Well, I really have no good concrete reason or life altering fact that will make you want to read this any more than you do now at this moment, but I can vouch for myself. I believe that it’s important to search for more opinions than the ones that are handed to us by the media and general pop culture scene. Obviously, being on, you have already taken the initiative to search for an alternative music source than the big companies of bloggers or mp3 downloading corporations. So you’re a step in the right direction. And now you’re reading my list…so you’re even closer.

Alright, yes. You came here for the list, right? Not for my rants about capitalism and the rising influence of media on news and the population of the United States. So I’ll give you the list. Read on, enjoy. Sorry there is no little blurb for each album, but time is precious, my fingers are aching, and quite frankly, the music all speaks for itself.

Next post, look for a zoom in on the ten albums I know the best of 2007, with a free download from each and a closer review. I wish I had time to do that right now for all of these, but alas, the post could be very long and I'm out the door to do some CD shopping.

[These are in no particular order. Thank you]

1) Sunset Rubdown - “Random Spirit Lover”
2) Animal Collective - “Strawberry Jam”
3) Radiohead - “In Rainbows”
4) Beirut - “The Flying Club Cup”
5) M.I.A. - “Kala”
6) Deerhunter - “Cryptograms”
7) Panda Bear - “Person Pitch”
8) Kanye West - “Graduation”
9) The National - “Boxer”
10) Modest Mouse - “We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank”
11) of Montreal - “Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?”
12) Spoon - “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga”
13) Okkervil River - “The Stage Names”
14) The Arcade Fire - “Neon Bible”
15) Battles - “Mirrored”
16) LCD Soundsystem - “Sound of Silver”
17) Kevin Drew - “Spirit If…”
18) Menomena - “Friend and Foe”
19) The Klaxons - “Myths of the Near Future”
20) Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - “Some Loud Thunder”
21) The Besnard Lakes - “The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse”
22) The White Stripes - “Icky Thump”
23) Feist - “The Reminder”
24) Caribou - “Andorra”
25) Band of Horses - “Cease to Begin”
26) Jens Lekman - “Night Falls Over Kortedala”
27) Les Savy Fav – “Let’s Stay Friends”
28) Blonde Redhead – “23”
28) Elliott Smith – “New Moon”
29) Bat For Lashes – “Fur and Gold”
30) Justice – “Cross"
31) Iron & Wine – “Shepherd’s Dog”
32) Grizzly Bear – “Friend EP”
33) Black Lips – “Good Bad Not Evil”
34) Dan Deacon – “Spiderman of the Rings”
35) Liars – “Liars”
36) Jay-Z – “American Gangster”

Disclaimer: Obviously, because I am writing this list, these selections are my personal opinion. They are what I listen to and what I think. If I left out your favorite bands new album or didn’t include enough (insert obscure genre here), I am deeply sorry and hope I can make it up to you. Don’t know how, but, we’ll work something out.

Also, I did the obscure number of 36 albums because I am tired of the typical 50. Break from normality people! (Yeah you want the real reason, but you’re not going to get it. Thanks for reading!)

Note: This post was also posted on my account. Yes, I am aware it's there. Thanks!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

So I listened to some music this year...

In no particular order, and I have yet to listen to a lot of stuff. There's no way anyone could effectively take into account every single thing released this year, so therefore this isn't a top ten list, but a collection of reactions to some of the music released this year that I came into contact with.

Explosions in the Sky – All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
I love the band name. And all the album artwork. And every single crescendo, slow paced, fast paced, melodic piece of music. I mean, the third song is thirteen and a half minutes long. If they can hold your attention through that, you know you’ve got something good. And they do it all with instruments. There are no words, which is helpful, as they’d only distract from the musical notes.

Stars – In Our Bedroom After the War
Alright, this took some listens, especially since I heard from various sources that it wasn’t a very good album. But I’ve come to like some of it. It’s not the best of Stars, not even close to the quality of “Set Yourself on Fire” in my opinion, yet still a solid effort.

The Shins – Wincing the Night Away
Releasing an album in January will land you on two end of the year music lists. Well, the more exposure the better I suppose. The Shins deserve it though. There are some amazing songs on this album, like “Spilt Needles” and album closer “A Comet Appears.” They’ve climbed into mainstream success over the past few years, cemented by the release of this cd.

Sunset Rubdown – Random Spirit Lover
This is the best album of the year, by far. In August it leaked and I jumped all over it. I sung its praises to everyone, just to make sure the genius wasn’t all in my head. If you listen to the lyrics, you pick up clues that point towards the album describing a play. The whole album is filled with delightful intricate plots, sometimes completely implausible by real world standards, but it’s a twisted alternate reality. With recurring characters. How cool is that? Only one song stands out as a little too weird, “Colt Stands Up and Grows Horns.” It just doesn’t sound good, but the rest is pure sound goodness.

The Most Serene Republic – Population
The Most Serene Republic is one of three bands on this list signed to Canadian record label Arts and Crafts, home also to Broken Social Scene. This band opened up for Los Campesinos! They kind of sound like Anathallo because of all the different instruments. They dressed all in black and delivered their music with an insane amount of energy. Trumpets, whistling, and violin in full swing. At times the music can sound similar, but this album holds some great songs like “President of Future End,” “The Men That Live Upstairs,” and aptly titled “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Los Campesinos! – Sticking Fingers Into Sockets
Quickly becoming my favorite little indie band ever. Short, dancey songs, with music-conscious titles like “We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives,” and lyrics like “it’s sad that you think that we’re all just scenesters, and even if we were it’s not the scene you’re thinking of.” I love their English accents too.

The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
I was kind of disappointed in this album. Funeral was so full of raw emotional power. And then the Arcade Fire decided to get all preachy and channeled that energy into a neat little “message” about how everything is so commercialized and materialistic and run by religion. Yes. I get it. America sucks. Now, let’s get back to the philosophical raw energy that Funeral had.

The Go! Team – Proof of Youth
Not much to say about this cd. It’s the second release from The Go! Team, no immense change of direction for them, they’re still going with the cheerleading chants and pop-esque sound with hard to hear lyrics.

Flight of the Conchords – The Distant Future“The humans are dead. Binary solo! Zerozeroonezeroonezerooneeee.” I saw an ad for this on the Stephen Colbert website and thought hey, I’ll watch a free episode. And then they broke into song. It was hysterical. The TV show aside, FOTC released six of their songs on an EP. If they ever come to SF, I will go. The “fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo of New Zealand” is too funny to miss. I’m looking forward to the full album release in April next year.

Dan Deacon – Spiderman of the Rings
It’s so random! There’s a lot to do with animals from what I can gather. My favorite song is “Wham City”, all eleven minutes and forty five seconds of it, although there’s a small break in the middle, so it’s almost two songs. I’m not really sure how the music is made, but it definitely involves a laptop and lots of those little sound board knobs.

Battles – Mirrored
Battles makes me dizzy like my sister’s ADHD listening therapy CDs do. Which probably means it’s a little too math-rock-y for me. Nevertheless, they get points for being so different from the rest of the music I listen to, and everyone seems to love them right now, so go, take a listen, and hopefully you won’t get as queasy as I did.

Architecture in Helsinki – Places Like This
AiH have gotten progressively louder with each album. The songs on this one don’t really have a direction. Most are a hit-or-miss kind of deal. Hold Music is a tragedy of a song, and not worthy of the semi-mosh pit that erupted at their show. Same goes for “Same Old Innocence.” But the middle songs are okay.

Still Flyin’ – Za Cloud EJ EP
They’re from San Francisco, actually. I love the reggae feel of their songs. They have nearly twenty members, even one whose only job is to dance around on stage. He occasionally bangs on a few instruments. This EP contains five songs which all seem to be about Yosemite or magical golden birds. Either way, the upbeat sound doesn’t get old.

Why? – The Hollows EP
Why? can be pretty haunting, with their mix of lo-fi indie, folk hip hop, and rich lyrics. It’s some strange combinations, but they make it work beautifully. The EPs are ladden with musical material not found on the LP releases. The Hollows precedes a full length album out in March of next year. I’ve only heard the songs a few times because they released it as a twelve inch and my house lacks a working record player, but they took a turn on this EP, which includes renditions of “Yo Yo Bye Bye” by Xiu Xiu and Yo La Tengo as well as remixes of past and future songs.

Juno Soundtrack
This was a late minute addition. I just saw the movie last week, and left thinking it would be one of the best movie soundtracks ever made. The music fit so perfectly with the tone of the movie, kind of lighthearted but laced with biting, dry humor. Singer Kimya Dawson of The Moldy Peaches provides most of the songs. Thank you so much to some kind person who collected all the songs (even the version of “Anyone Else But You” sung by Michael Cera and Ellen Page) and put them in a torrent that you can find at
But forget the music for a moment, the movie was amazing in itself. It had the best opening credits sequence I have ever seen. I actually wanted to sit and watch the progression of Ellen Page walking down the street in drawn form, gallon of Sunny D in hand, over the song “All I Want Is You” by Barry Louis Polisar. Plus, Michael Cera runs around in little yellow shorts. It’s cute.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Not So Silent Night 2007: unholy night.

Lets dumb this down a bit. Lets bring this down a first grade level, and mask it in the form of a question your teacher might ask while pointing to a brightly colored groups of objects in the book you are using:
Which one of these do not belong?
Modest Mouse, Jimmy Eat World, Angels & Airwaves, Spoon, and Paramore.

My friends, there are two correct answers, and I'm sure a good amount of you who feel the same way I do (and you do) know what I am talking about.

In my opinion, the lineup for Not So Silent Night has been getting progressively worse each year. And I have only attended three years of this concert. Each time I went, it was fun to be there in the atmosphere and hear all these bands together. They mixed well, and the crowd was a good medley of different types of people. But I began to notice that there was always one major let down every year. Who can forget The White Stripe's bomb performance? Or the, er, shall we call them "sound issues" for Modest Mouse? I began to believe that this was what happened at NSSN: every year something bad just had to happen.

But this year, I never expected it to occur before I could even buy a ticket.

Upon hearing this lineup from my friend, I was infuriated. I was even angrier when they announced the order the bands would be playing in. I mean, lets be real people. They put Spoon second. Second. That gives them, what? A forty-five minute set? Hello Live 105. That is Britt Daniel. You are giving Britt Daniel a forty-five minute set. Spoon co-headlined Treasure Island Music Festival with Modest Mouse. And now you're throwing them into second place.

On top of this, they have managed to enclose Isaac Brock and Tom Delonge into the same backstage area. Enter Tom Delonge: whiney voice, cute face, pop-punk ruler of the universe of the former maniac fan band blink 182, who sported lyrics as "'I said I was the cops, and your husband's in jail. This state looks down on sodomy!' And that's about the time that bitch hung up on me." Since these frantic post-post-post teen days have passed, Tom has sacrificed himself to his new project, Angels & Airwaves, growing bangs over his eyes and dying his hair black.

Now enter Isaac Brock: Modest Mouse front man, grew up all over the North West, and lived in a shack for a good part of his adolescence. He has been accused for DUI, drug abuse, and has served jail time. Songs like "Shit Luck" demonstrate his immediate need for a bit of stirring up in his world, and not the prank phone call kind, with the opening being him yelling "This plane is definitely crashing!".

Now place these two in a glass box together and what is going to happen? Conduct the experiement yourself. Or attend NSSN this Friday night and watch.

To make matters worse, this so-called evening of celebration of independent music and the holidays is none of the above. Okay, so I made up the holidays part. But there is obviously some sort of correlation, what with it being December and the name of the freakin' gig. But the independent, anti-mainstream music? This sentiment has dissapeared.

I lost hope in Live 105 a long time ago, but I thought maybe this once a year outreach to the music community might still be their chance to demonstrate their real desires. Alas, no. Once again, I ask you to study the lineup. Modest Mouse have strong connections to the independent music scene, as they worked their way up through it, and Brock used to be at Sub-Pop (he signed Wolf Parade). Spoon have always been considered to be an American indie band. But Jimmy Eat World have been signed to a major label since day one. As have Angels & Airwaves, since Tom coming over from probably one of the most commerically successful bands of the past ten years aided that. Paramore, although more unknown than the previous two aforementioned, still have strong ties with MTV (their videos are constantly played) and VH1. You name the "music" channel, they are there.

Look, NSSN: I don't wanna totally bring you down. Because I think this show is a great idea! The three years I went, I had a great time. I'm not going to pretend I didn't. I loved it, Meg's drunken escapades and all! Because I loved it, I care about it's future. And by caring I am giving my opinion. That is all.

This Friday night, expect to see me in a cafe with some friends, having our first non-NSSN ever. It hurts, Live 105. It really does.

For your listening pleasure:
Modest Mouse - Shit Luck
Modest Mouse - Gravity Rides Everything

Spoon - The Infinite Pet
Spoon - Back To The Life

Angels & Airwaves - The Adventure

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone @ BOTH

I discovered Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (henceforth referred to as Casiotone in this entry, just for brevity's sake) fairly recently. It was one of the bands that I found by clicking through a lot of "similar artists" and neighbors on, until I finally ended up on Casiotone's page. I downloaded some songs, and immediately was taken by the simplicity and airy feeling his songs gave off. They are enchanting little pop/electronic ditties that create a small kingdom of their own.

The brains behind Casiotone, Owen Ashworth, started to make music on a small casio keyboard back in 1997. His first two albums, "Answering Machine Music" and "Pocket Symphonies for Lonely Subway Cars," were made using nothing but small, battery-operated keyboards and Ashworth's own voice (along with occasional accompaniment by guest musicians). These early albums are now available on one CD, appropriately titled "The First Two Albums by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone." After this, he has released numerous EPs and albums, all to the happiness of those who follow his steady beats and lyrical style.

Owen is coming to Bottom of the Hill this coming Wednesday. Definitley head down and check it out.
He will be playing with
Papercuts and DJ Matt Bonar

Wednesday, December 5th
9:00 PM (doors a t 8:30 PM)

And now, for your listening pleasure:
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Young Shields
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - When You Were Mine

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Los Campesinos! at the Great American Music Hall

Los Campesinos! will be performing tonight at the Great American Music Hall. This is their first show in San Francisco, and their first set of three tour dates in the United States. The seven-piece band hails from Cardiff, England and only picked up instruments to form the band in early 2006.
Los Campesinos! (meaning "the peasants" in Spanish) sounds like a fresh mix of indie pop vocals and instrumentals. Don't write them off as just another pretentious twee band, even if members have taken Campesino! as their surname pseudonyms. No, this band's got wit and indie cred. The opening lyrics to "You! Me! Dancing!" (an abundant use of exclamation points is only fitting for them) go, "it's sad that you think that we're all just scenesters, even if we were it's not the scene you're thinking of." Many of their songs provide commentary on the music scene of the UK. "...And We Exhale and Roll Our Eyes In Unison" talks about the misogyny of music journalists when writing about female musicians.
My favorite lyric comes from the song "We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives": It's your party, but I'll die if I want to.
They have released an EP, Sticking Fingers Into Sockets, via record label Arts and Crafts, and plan to release a full length album in February 2008.

Here is their song You! Me! Dancing!:
Los Campesinos! - You! Me! Dancing!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Music & Videos From the Dump at Herbst Theatre

The first performance of "Junkestra" at the SF dump

Last Friday, the 16th of November, I attended a presentation at Herbst Theatre made by the Norcal Waste Systems. Surprising, no? A dump putting together a lovely little evening in the artistic district of San Francisco...the evening was one of amazingly wonderful paradoxes and interesting perspectives, artworks, and music.

Unknown to many people, the San Francisco dump has an artists in residence program that supports artists who wish to come to the dump and create art using whatever material they may find there. Fridays performance was an evening to showcase some of this art that has been created through the program. The theme of the evening: recycle, reuse, and do not waste!

The first half of the night, movies by different visual artists were shown. The films were relatively short and very interesting, at times funny, sometimes more there to show us something, to convey a fact, than anything else. Works were shown by Reddy Lieb, Banker White, Robin Lasser, Don Ross, Nomi Talisman, and Philip Bonner. All of these artists went through the artists in residence program at the dump, and all their films conveyed some aspect about the waste site. Each one touched on something different, which worked out nicely and effectively.

After intermission, the second half was devoted to a very interesting piece of music. Composer Nathaniel Stookey (funny story: his mother, Martha, taught me theater for two years of high school) decided to apply to be an artist in residence using music. He went to the dump, found a bunch of items, and contrsucted musical instruments. He then composed a 15 minute piece (in three movements) on these instruments made out of trash that he called "Junkestra". It was first performed at the SF Dump in May this year, and this one at Herbst Theatre Friday night was only the second performance. It is a piece performed by members of the San Francisco Youth Orchestra and conducted by Benjamin Schwartz.

The piece is, and I do not take this word lightly, brilliant. It sounds amazing and is fun to listen to and, most importantly, to observe. I was in awe at how many sounds he made with what he had. I was shocked when Nat Stookey told the audience that he had not cut or modified any piece of trash he picked up. He made these sounds with how he found the items originally.

The piece was an enormous success and the audience demanded it be played again, to which one witty audience member yelled "Recycle!"
An amazing piece that everyone should hear.

Which is lucky! You can listen to the piece at the main page for Nat Stookey's residence:


SF Dump site:
Artist in Residence program:
Photos of the Junkestra:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

of Montreal at The Great American Music Hall

Wednesday night, of Montreal wrapped up a successful three nights here in San Francisco. I heard nothing but good things about the other two nights, but I only went Wednesday; therefore I can only speak for what I saw. Although judging from what I saw, I can't see of Montreal could ever doing a bad job at entertaining an adoring crowd.

The two opening bands were fun, jumpy...a good warm up. They definitley got the crowd hyped up very nicely. MGMT have stolen a part of my heart. They're fun, talented, danceable...what more do you need these days? The second opening band, Grand Buffet, proved to have great showmanship. A two person group, they not only performed very well but also had the crowd laughing left and right. I sincerely hope they got their uppers.

The wait for of Montreal was hot, sweaty, sticky, and filled with anticipation, but when they did get onstage around 10:15, no one complained about it being a little on the late side.

The show was an incredible experience. While two members were elevated high up on pedastols that flashed different colored lights, the remaining three members stayed down on the stage and intimate with the audience. As always, flamboyant outfits, makeup and stage show were the norms. The whole crowd was erupted into one big dance party of sweaty goodness.

of Montreal played a good mixture of "older" songs, like "I Was Never Young", "So Begins Our Alabee", and "Rapture Rapes the Muses". There was also a very good amount off of their new (fabulous) album, like "She's a Rejector" and "Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider". (Thank you for playng She's a Rejector. Thank you)

They covered three Prince songs, opening with "I Would Die For You" and "Baby I'm A Star" and closing with "Purple Rain" right before coming back on to play three encores of their music: "Wraith Pinned to the Mist And Other Games", "The Party's Crashing Us" and "The Repudiated Mortals".

An amazing show and experience.
No one is lying or trying to sound experienced when they tell you "You have to see of Montreal before you die!" (several people told me this before I had seen them at Coachella). They really really mean it. So go people, go!

MGMT- The Youth
Grand Buffet - Dark Autumn
of Montreal - I Was Never Young
of Montreal - She's A Rejector


Friday, November 2, 2007

The Decemberists cancel rest of tour

Yep, you heard right. You read it on Pitchfork. You saw it on your lastfm events. Or maybe you got that depressing email notification. In any case, it's true. The Decemberists have decided to sit out the rest of their tour after only two dates into it.

A message for their fans from them:
"One of our band members has been ill for a while but we thought all would be well in time for these tour dates. After a couple shows, though, it has become clear that the illness is much worse than we had initially realized. We need to return home so our friend can mend.

It saddens us to disappoint our fans. We hope everybody understands it is only because of an extreme situation that we had to cancel a tour we've all been excited about doing since the idea was originally hatched.

Our deepest apologies but at this time no plans are being made to reschedule the dates. Ticket holders should seek refunds at poin of purchase."

No plans? Oh you're killing me.
Still, at this point, I'm hoping this sickness isn't serious and the member can make a full and satisfying recovery. Our thoughts go out to you, my friend.

So yes, Bay Area: the four scheduled dates at the Fillmore have been cancelled:

-Friday, 11/23/07 Long of it
-Saturday, 11/24/07 Short of it
-Sunday, 11/25/07 Long of it
-Monday, 11/26/07 Short of it

I planned on going Sunday. Argh.

Refunds anyone? Those tickets were not cheap.
Venue number to inquire for refunds: 415-346-6000
Venue location:
1805 Geary St, San Francisco Ca. 94115.

Here's hoping for a full recovery, perhaps another tour, and smooth refunds.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Jeff Wall exhibit at SFMOMA

I had the pleasure of going to the donor preview of this exhibit on Wednesday night, and wow was I blown away. It's an incredible exhibit, well put together and wonderfully shown. Jeff Wall's work is different, and it's clear through his images what his intention and goal is.

I think the most interesting thing about these photos is how they are shown. They are huge: taking up practically entire walls. Also, they are shown by being mounted and lit from the back, like ads at bus stops or in the subway. Wall justifies these two choices of exhibition with two reasons. For the first, he believes in the preservation of traditional art, and so he exhibits his photos in large format as if they were enormous canvases; traditional art style. For the backlit, bus stop ad style, he is exploring the use of cinematography.

Jeff Wall also carefully poses his photos. While we seem to be catching glimpses of spontaneous moments, look carefully: everything is so sharp and clear and clean you can see the slight cinema aspect to it.

One thing I noticed through his photos is that, while his pictures depict enormous scenes, the title is usually a very small part of the photo. Example: one photo is called "Story Teller" and after a long examination, you see the story teller. She is in the bottom left hand corner, very small. I like his inclusion of everything and yet focus on one thing.

Go see this show. It's fabulous, interesting, and extremely nice to look at.

Runs till january 27th 2008
More info click here

I would have to say my personal favorite photos were:

-"The Flooded Grave": Life and death. Life growing in death. Go see it (google it if you are unable).

-"A ventriloquist at a birthday party in October 1947": So. Very. Creepy. And yet...we can't look away.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Aliens in America cast comes to the Bay Area

Okay I don't know if anyone else is as obsessed with this show as I am (so far I know, count 'em, two people who watch it), but I'm throwing it out there anyway. It is certainly, out of the new shows the CW slammed in our face this fall, one of the funniest and one that's doing very well in viewers and reviews. If you aren't watching it, maybe you should check it out.

In any case, whether you're a huge fan, an advocate for the cause of actual funny shows, or if you're just hungry for some fame, I am here to spread word about the CW Cup Youth tournament. This Sunday October 27th in Morgan Hill, the CW is going to be hosting a large festival, complete with games, contests, etc. While I strongly dislike this kind of fair meets too many sponsors event, light shines in this one: Dan Byrd and Adhir Kaylan, the actors who play the two main characters of Justin and Raja, will be there signing autographs.

This TV show is still pretty small and unknown. I remember the cast of Veroncia Mars came to the Bay Area before that show became popular and I missed meeting them. Big mistake.

If you can endure the cheesey festival atmosphere, go for it. Should be very cool to meet these two guys.

When: Sunday, October 27th
Where: Morgan Hill
More info:
Watch "Aliens in America" online:

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Jenkins Johnson Gallery's current show

Cheap Trick, By Lynn Godsmith

The Jenkins Johnson gallery, famous for their exquisite collections and exhibits, have only two locations worldwide: New York and San Francisco. How very lucky for us. Past shows this year here in San Francisco have featured Don Williams, Ben Aronson, and Nancy Switzer. It's been a very good year to say the least, and yet this current exhibit seems to be the cream of the crop.

Jenkins Johnson is featuring the photography of Lynn Goldsmith, particularly two series: "Icons of Rock" and "Imagination". I can't say I know much about her "Imagination" series, but the "Icons of Rock" is one you must see. The series is a collection of potraits and portraitures of legendary "rock" musicians like Patti Smith, Sting, Frank Zappa, Courtney Love...and of course, Mr. Dylan. The list goes on.

Even if the whole classic rock scene isn't for you, you should go for the pure artistic quality of the photos. They are beautiful artworks, interesting and wonderfully composed. Example? My favorite of hers is the one above, featuring Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick. I do not listen to Cheap Trick at all, and yet I can say I adore that photo.

Go for the historical significance. Go for the art. Go for the love of music. If anything, just go because it's here now and we are lucky.

Show runs till October 30th.
Exhibit Page
Gallery Site
Location: 464 Sutter St.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Go! Team at Amoeba

This Thursday October 18, 2007 at Amoeba Records in San Francisco, Brighton six-piece The Go! Team will perform for free. Intimate setting, free, and available to everyone? This almost makes up for the fact that their show this Friday at the Mezzanine is 21 and over. The Go! Team blends cheerleading-like chants with equally cheery samples, creating some of the most colorful music you'll ever hear. Really, the only thing I can compare it to is the mixing of paints on an artist's palette. Throw in some feverish dancing, and you've got yourself the raw sounds of The Go! Team. The vocals are somewhat inaudible, leaving the upbeat tempo of the music to take charge and lead you through some truly danceable melodies.

This band recently released their second full-length CD, Proof of Youth, on the Memphis Industries record label in the US and UK. It's a little different from their debut, Thunder Lightning Strike, which was originally recorded in the founding band member's kitchen, but the underlying musical concepts still hold true - lots of live band recordings and samples, and even special guests like Chuck D.
Here are a couple songs, to get you up on your feet and jumping around:

Monday, October 15, 2007

Man Man heads this way

Wow. Another good show provided by Slim's. It's going to be a good next week.

Man Man are well known for their elaborate live shows, doing things like not pausing between songs or wearing all white. I've also heard talk of them putting on war paint and dancing around. Definitley a band to see live by the sounds of it.

The Wikipedia entry for Man Man says they are " Viking-vaudeville punk-wop rock-and-soul collective". The fact that I cannot even begin to comprehend this genre is perfect, because really, Man Man have created a genre on their own, using multiple instruments in many different ways. They create sounds you never knew could be made.

This show is still relatively unknown, so definitley catch it. After opening for Modest Mouse on their tour, Man Man is getting bigger. The show is Thursday, October 25th.

Show @ 8 (doors at 7:30)
Tickets: $13/15
For more info, click on the title

And here, have a sample. It's my favorite song by them:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Caribou is coming to Slim's

You probably remember Dan Snaith's (who has a, get this, Ph. D in mathematics from the Imperial College London) old stage name Manitoba. The last time this name was used was 2004, when, upon being threatened under lawsuit, he changed it to the now present day Caribou. Caribou's music is often described as "eletronic" or "electronic with some other percussion intrsuments thrown in." I, however, find it much more intricate and eccentric than that.
Caribou released a new album just this past August entitled "Andorra". I came into this album a little late, but I'm very glad I did. The first listen I gave it, I was hooked. Blending equal balances of electronica and percussion with eerie melodies and catchy beats, Caribou keeps you listening in a sort of wonder.

And yes! Snaith will be performing under his Caribou stage name Saturday, October 27th at Slim's. This show is going to be a good one. Snaith performs with a live band, assuming the role of percussionist, and engages the use of video projections, images, and other, shall we say, fascinating technological methods. In a space like Slim's I can see this going very well. The show is popular, but tickets are still available, so snatch one up.
Show @ 9 (doors 8)
For more info, click on the title

And to sample some Caribou (it sounds like I'm offering you some meat dish):
Caribou - Melody Day
Caribou - Irene

(both these songs are from their new album "Andorra")

Sunday, October 7, 2007

SFOpera's premiere of "Appomattox", the new Philip Glass opera

Okay, I don't attend opera regularly. In fact, the last opera I saw before this was "Dr. Atomic", the Peter Sellars opera that also premiered here about a year and a half ago. Funny, because both these operas deal with relatively modern happenings. Of course, the case of the atomic bomb was much more recent than the Civil War (the subject in "Appomattox"), but when they are placed next to classic operatic themes, I think we can call them modern.

But yes, it had been quite a long time since I attended the opera. I happened upon opening night tickets that did not set me back one penny and jumped on the chance (normally they sell for around $625. I find that insane).

"Appomattox" is, as stated, the new opera by Philip Glass, a three-time Academy Award-nominated American composer. He often associated with Kurt Weill and Leonard Burnstein as one of the great composers who has brought music and art to the general public. This particular opera treats the subject of the surrender of Lee and the signing of the treaty to mark the end of the Civil War. The treaty was signed in a courthouse in Appomattox. Hence, the title of the opera.

While "Appomattox" has very realistic ambitions and sets out to perform something very intriguing and interesting, it comes out slightly awkward. At curtain rise, we are presented with a large metal wall that holds just one small opening, where General Grant's wife is standing in era attire. The set is very impressionable from the get-go: the wall rises so high up that we can't see where it ends, and this huge metal slate shines and glints in front of us.

The first act took a fair amount of time to get started. I felt it trudging along quite steadily, like a pace that all the actors felt was comfortable for them...I also felt it when both my brothers fell asleep on either side of me. I remained awake, if only at this point because I was so very intrigued by how the signing was to be turned into an operatic performance and because I wanted the images of Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln singing opera to be in my mind forever.

The music was quite haunting. I would describe Philip Glass' music to be minimalistic, and that is exactly what gave it it's haunting qualities. While everything happening onstage was a bit slow in the beginning, the underbelly of eerie tunes added to the whole thing. I could almost feel myself in the situation of wanting the war to end so badly, but having it continue on regardless. The music was like the ticking of a clock, just wanting it all to be over. The melodies stuck in my mind.

The opera picked up when both Grant and Lee came into the picture. Both were played, in my opinion, very well. Their acting was strong and I felt like I could be watching real war generals conversing with their captains about plans and strategies, only they were singing all the plans very loudly. The scenes showing civilians in the midst of the war were particularly good as well. As the south leaves their cities behind, burning them to leave nothing for the north, lights flashed and bombs went off. Hanging from the ceiling were sculptures of realistic, dead (and life size) horses, strung up by rope, and dangling threatingly (at the sight of them, my mother leaned over and whispered "My friend made those! Don't they look great?" momentarily pulling me out of the opera.) I thought this scene was the most stunning visually, not only because of the dead horses hanging all over the place, but also because the sight of all of these people lined up and watching bombs go off in awe and shock was a strong one.

The first act ended on Lee finally deciding to sign a treaty that Grant will draw up.

The second act starts very strong. The exchange in Appomattox between Grant and Lee is very well done, even managing to throw in some humor. I liked the way they potrayed their conversation, talking about the treaty and the terms of surrender in that courthouse.

Unfortuanetly, the signing, which was what I thought to be the main focus of the play, became muddled and lost in a series of attempts to draw the Civil Rights movement into the play. As they were signing the treaty, they would sometimes freeze, and the audience would become witness to scenes from either the near future or far future, all scenes of Civil Rights movements and events.

While I can understand the importance of the Civil Rights movement in the US (believe me, there have been about twenty papers on it), I just have to say: slow down! Slow. Down. Yes, the civil war had a lasting impact on the US, but save all the events from post Civil War to 1950 for another opera! You'll have plenty of material, Mr. Glass. Because this opera was entitled "Appomattox", most were expecting something about, oh, the signing at Appomattox. Yes, it was present, but it was lost beneath all this intense Civil Rights/black empowerment imagery. The Civil Rights movement also felt diminished through this. Trying to show the progression through a half hour of play was not substantial, and it ended up coming out messy and random.

As the opera ended, they hoisted up the dead horses again, something I do not believe they should have done. The opera ends with many women all singing together, the horses awkwardly being raised (getting caught on thing on the way up) and as their voices are just fading, there is an abrupt blackout. I found this end to be a weak one for such an ambitious and intense opera. I was dubious as I began to applaud, wondering if we had been tricked. I didn't think it could end like that, but it did.

I suppose the thing that most drew me in and brought me to enjoy it despite it's flaws would be the set. I adored the set (and I think I might be the only one). Everything was metallic and modern looking, very angular with lots of lines and straight bars used. The backdrop at one point was a bright orange, taking us in entirely. The lighting was used very well, casting enormous shadows of the actors onto the back of the stage. This made for an impressionable view from the audience. The dead horses were, at least the first time around, visually stupefying and shocking. I often enjoy the set above anything else in plays; having spent so much time backstage, I appreciate these aspects very much (but not necessarily more than the play itself). For "Appomattox" the set definitley did a lot.

From the slow start, to the build up at the end of the first act and start of the second, then the slow decline back down into a messy muddle of information, I felt this opera could be described as: awkward. A sort of tumbling around history, set to beautiful eerie music and incredible, booming voices.
I would say the highlight of the play for me would either be those hanging dead horses, or Abe Lincoln belting out in his long coat and enormouse top hat. That's one to remember.