Friday, October 30, 2009

Spoon's Next Full Length, Transference Drops In January

Spoon at The Fillmore, from the HAD Archive

Well, we waited patiently for almost two years, got tided over by an EP, and now here's the real deal:  Spoon's next full length, Transference, is set to drop on January 26th of the new year.  Given HAD's penchant for being shamelessly addicted to Spoon, you won't be surprised to learn that we're shit-out-of-our-minds-psyched to hear this news.  Anything from Spoon is a treat in our book, but if this record builds on the awesomeness of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, well, then it's set to be nothing short of a masterpiece.  Interestingly, the record closes out with "Got Nuffin" - we're curious to see if it'll be the same recording as on the EP.  Regardless: Can. Not. Wait.

Spoon - Transference, Track Listing
01 - Before Destruction
02 - Is Love Forever?
03 - The Mystery Zone
04 - Who Makes Your Money
05 - Written In Reverse
06 - I Saw The Light
07 - Trouble Comes Running
08 - Goodnight Laura
09 - Out Go The Lights
10 - Got Nuffin
11 - Nobody Gets Me But You

mp3: Spoon - Written In Reverse (Live At The Fillmore)

Phoenix's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix: Deluxe Edition Unboxing

We'll start with this: if you're not prepared for some nerd out fan-boy time, then go now, because that's what this is all about. Specifically, Phoenix's deluxe box set for their record Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Consider yourself warned.

We received the box set (from Europe, par avion) a while back, and we've been meaning to get these pics out to you, dear readers, for a while. In short, the box set fulfills our Phoenix fetish to the max, by offering up a box set that feels distinctively handmade, and gives real insight to the making of this fantastic record.

The set comes in a "pizza box" that was apparently silkscreened by hand by Laurent Brancowitz, which makes sense given that the guitarist designed the record's art in full. It's immediately obvious not only that the materials were hand silkscreened, but also that the sets were assembled by hand.

The set contains the CD of the record, along with an exclusive documentary entitled "Musicvision". We have yet to view the DVD, but keep your eyes peeled for a review. Interestingly, we also decided to rip the CD when we received it, and discovered a vastly different mix from the one we had been listening to. We have no idea where the set of mp3's we have came from, but there are a number of slight differences. More noticeably, "Girlfriend" is a completely different rendition (see below), and "Lasso" is quite a bit faster. Hmmm.

Next up are a number of art pieces that Brancowitz put together for the package. The first is a staple-bound 'zine that is made up of photos taken during the Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix sessions. The 'zine is a neat little assembly, and manages to give a nice abstract vibe, while not feeling too contrived.

The 'zine is backed up by three really nice prints of Brancowitz's photos. The prints are high quality 8x10's, and again: the handmade vibe is immediately apparent. The prints were made in small batches, and the back is even imprinted on the back with the name of Brancowitz's file names. Suffice it to say, these weren't printed at a record plant.

Finally, there's the vinyl: the set comes with two slabs of vinyl: one of the record itself, and another of demos for the album entitled "The Wolfgang Diaries". The record is in a hand silkscreened sleeve, and comes with a nice high-gauge plastic dust jacket. Given our penchant for vinyl goodness, we were extremely pleased.

However, we're even more excited about The Wolfgang Diaries. The vinyl is printed to look much like old school bootleg pressings, and contains a vast number of tracks. We haven't given it a spin yet (turntable's in the shop), but you can bet that hearing these tracks has us more than a little excited.

So, that's about it: is it worth it? To us, absolutely. The handmade feel, loads of exclusive material, and overall "perfect" container for Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is exactly what we've been looking for. The fact of the matter is that this is a record that has ruled our life for the better part of this calendar year, and having it be worshipped in this manner is by no means overkill.

mp3: Phoenix - Girlfriend (Early Mix)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Julian Casablancas Played The Tonight Show, And It Was Good - Video

As a lead in to his month-long residency in Los Angeles, Julian Casablancas delivered "11th Dimension" on Conan last night, and in a word: awesome. To any of the doubters out there, this performance should do a great deal to solidify that The Strokes' frontman's solo efforts will not be a disappointment.

The performance starts off a little dry feeling, but once it kicks into high gear and Jules gets comfortable, it's nothing but fucking awesome. Combine that with the fact that the singer looks outstanding and is backed by a band called "The Sick Six", and well, you've got our vote.

mp3: Julian Casablancas - 11th Dimension

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Postmarks Played The Canal Room - Pictures, Review, Setlist

Last Thursday we made our way to the Canal Room to check out The Postmarks' CMJ showcase, and we'll tell you this: if you weren't there, you missed out. Put simply, the band delivered a set that transcended their (already fabulous) records, and completely solidified them as a relevant and exciting live act.

If you're already a fan of the band (as we are here at HAD), then you may be sitting there telling yourself "well, yes, of course, they're a great band". But then, in a way, you'd be wrong. Because if you've only heard The Postmarks records, then there's simply a huge part of the band's talent and sound that you have yet to be exposed to.

Before checking out the show, we have to admit that we were flummoxed as to how they would take their carefully crafted 60's throwback sound and deliver it in a simple rock club. The fact of the matter is that the band's sound on record depends heavily on orchestration, intricate arrangements, and delicate sonics. Not exactly the ideal situation for trying to deliver night to night on the road.

So how does one solve such a conundrum? Apparently by taking the sound on the record and completley turning it on it's head. In short, the band took their trademark sound and completely overhauled it. Drenched in feedback-y goodness, the band employed the live rock setting assuredly to their advantage, as they took the bombast of wall of sound production and put it through an unrepentant shoegaze filter.

The result was exceptional: the character and identity of the songs was maintained, but infused with an unquestionable vitality unique to live environment. What's more, the band unquestionably demonstrated their aptitude, as they blasted through a set that was comprised of bulletproof instrumental technique. In short (if you haven't figured it already), we loved the set. It was emblazoned with energy, and left us not only loving the show, but with an even greater appreciation of the band's recorded output as well. Moreover, it brought us to the conclusion that we can say to you without reserve, this: go see The Postmarks live, as soon as you can.

More photos at the HAD Archive

Frightened Rabbit Drops New Seven Inch, Video

Considering that Frightened Rabbit's Midnight Organ Fight was our favorite record of last year, it's common sense that we're more than a little amped up to hear some new output from the band. Well, our waiting has paid off: the band is on track to release a seven inch on November 16th that will contain two new songs: "Swim Until You Can't See Land" and "Fun Stuff". The material is apparently not from the band's much-anticipated third full length, but is instead a preview of what the band has been up to.

"Swim Until You Can't See Land" is a mellow tune in the vein of "Good Arms vs. Bad Arms", but with a more fleshed out string section. The tune is definitely solid, but also firmly on the more tender, straightforward side of Frightened Rabbit.You can download below, as well as check out the video above.

The B-Side, "Fun Stuff", is an even more stripped down number, consisting of an incredibly roomy sound, an acoustic guitar and a small string section. You can stream it over at FatCat's website.

Suffice it to say, that between these two tracks, it's turning out to be a pretty mellow fall for Frightened Rabbit. While we're definitely not disappointed (the songs are solid, and certainly hold their own), we're definitely hoping that the new record won't be ballads across the board. One of the things that makes Frightened Rabbit so interesting is their incredible ability to fluctuate across sonic dynamics, and to lose that would be a shame.

mp3: Frightened Rabbit - Swim Until You Can't See Land

Land Of Talk Delivers New Videos On Eve Of Fall Tour

We'd already mentioned that Land Of Talk had managed to line up a bi-coastal tour and a new EP for the fall. Well now it looks as though they're getting even more gears going by dropping videos for a pair of tracks off of last year's Some Are Lakes. In the past two weeks videos have popped up on YouTube for both "Troubled" and "It's Okay", and both are pretty damn slick.

"Troubled" (above) is a nice film-y walk through the woods, following lead singer Liz Powell as she walks through the woods lighting sparklers. It matches the tune quite well with its quiet simplicity.

"It's Okay" (also above) is quite the opposite, as it delivers an uber-fantasty animation of wolves and horses and skull faced riders. Frankly, we're at a loss as to its connection to the tune, but as an art piece it's positively stellar.

Given the rainy weather, we're thinking that should tide you over here in New York. Meanwhile, the band is kicking off their tour tonight in San Diego, where it is most certainly not raining. Next week the band will be heading north, and hitting San Francisco on Monday night at Cafe Du Nord. They'll be making it to New York on November 21st, when they'll be playing Mercury Lounge. We can't wait.

mp3: Land Of Talk - Troubled

Land Of Talk Fall 2009 Dates
Oct 27 Casbah San Diego, California
Oct 29 Spaceland Los Angeles, California
Oct 30 The Cellar Door Visalia, California
Nov 2 Cafe Du Nord San Francisco, California
Nov 4 Doug Fir Lounge Portland, Oregon
Nov 5 High Dive Seattle, Washington
Nov 6 Nightlight Lounge Bellingham, Washington
Nov 7 Biltmore Cabaret Vancouver, British Columbia
Nov 12 Segal Centre - CBC Radio 2 Routes Montreal Montreal, Quebec
Nov 21 Mercury Lounge New York, New York

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Julian Casablancas Continues New Album Lead Up: Release Details, New Song

The lead up to Julian Casablancas' first solo record, Phrazes For The Young, continues its onslaught this week, with some announcements regarding the release, and more of the new material gradually leaking it's way onto the internets.

First, the release has been pushed forward to November 3rd, which means you'll have to wait a bit longer. However, if you can manage to stifle your anxiety, then you'll also be able to purchase the ever-popular "luxury" edition of the record (pic above), which is going to include:

* A 48-page classically bound storybook containing original and exclusive artwork, full album lyrics, B-Side lyrics, "Phrazes," and photographs – Each book will be personally signed by Julian Casablancas.
* A DVD containing filmed solo acoustic performances by Julian, an interview, the album trailer and the “11th Dimension” music video.

* 2 CDs: CD 1 will contain the full-length album and CD 2 will contain five song demos from the album and three B-Sides (demos only available in the Luxury Edition).
* A 180 gram vinyl LP of the album.

* A double-sided (24” x 36”) poster.

* A Cult Records pin.
* The Luxury Edition is housed in a beautiful custom designed antique-style box.

For $90, we gotta say that's not exactly a bad deal. The vinyl and CD alone would probably run you $30-40, so the addition of the DVD and other goodies is a nice bonus. What can we say? It's probably a tad overpriced, but we're big enough fan boys that we're probably gonna snag one.

Now, onto the good stuff: A bunch of snippets from the record leaked last week, and have since been taken down. However, still available is the track "River Of Brakelights", which Casablancas has begun streaming on his web site. You can snag a download below, and suffice it to say: we likey. What's more, Jules is scheduled to be on the tonight show next Tuesday, and then the record drops the following week. Frankly, the more we hear of it, the more we like it. Can you tell we're getting very excited? Well, we are: this shit is gonna rule our (and your) world.

mp3: Julian Casablancas - River of Brakelights

Treasure Island Festival, Day 2 - Photos, Review

After the awesomeness of day one, we were more than a little excited to get back out to Treasure Island and enjoy the festival's "rock" flavored day. The fact that the TI is somewhat broken up by genre does mean that the crowds differ bit. Not enough that you could point to one factor, but definitely enough that there was a notable change in the air between the two. Sunday's crowd was definitely ready for some solid rock, and the festival definitely did not disappoint.

We started out our day checking in with local faves Vetiver. Given that we love their latest record, and highly enjoyed their show at GAMH earlier this year, we weren't exactly surprised to see the band put on a fantastic performance. That being said, it was pretty clear that the band had transcended some folks' expectations: the crowd was totally rapt, and so were we. If this band didn't already have a solid "keep an eye on them" label, they certainly do now.

From there we stopped in on probably the most hyped band this side of the globe, and caught a set from Grizzly Bear. All hype aside, these guys definitely do deliver live, so it's hard to be snarky about it. The set's dynamic was interesting, as it seemed to start incredibly high energy, and gradually mellow out. An unusual direction for a rock show to go in, but for Grizzly Bear, it seemed to work.

The Walkmen were up next, and what can we say? These guys are clearly in their prime right now. We were wowed by their shows in New York this summer, and the energy is still there. The band delivered a blazing set that was definitely riding the wave of last year's much lauded You & Me. It's really nice to see the band back on the ball after what seemed like a year or two of semi-aimlessness between records. We can't wait for the next one.

As darkness fell on Treasure Island, we made our way to Yo La Tengo's set. Suffice it to say: the band was definitely in mellow mode. For a trio who have the potential to be the loudest thing you've ever heard, it's always interesting when they pull it way back and dedicate the set to songcraft and technique. This set was exactly that, with the band clearly invested in what they were doing, and offering a fantastic night of tunage.

Then it was time for the big show. The Flaming Lips took to the stage, and proceeded to deliver their (now well known) brand of showmanship. The plastic ball was there. The lights were there. The confetti was there. And, so was the girl having the seizure in the front row. Yes, it's sad, but strobe effects were not made for everyone. Even so, the band powered through and delivered an awesome set that spanned many old favorites, and touched heavily on their latest, Embryonic. Our assessment of the Lips continues to be what is has, and always will, be: go see the show. Just go. There's really no other way to get it.

And with that, we wrapped our 2009 weekend at the Treasure Island Festival. It was as awesome as we had hoped, and continues to build on its own momentum. It's also nice to see that both Treasure Island and Outside Lands have carved out their own niche and are happily coexisting. Let San Francisco's festival-laden goodness continue!

Photos by Brian Fong
Many more photos at the HAD Archive

Treasure Island Festival, Day 1 - Photos, Review

Last weekend HAD stopped in at what is fast becoming one of our favorite San Francisco music traditions: the Treasure Island Music Festival. The festival is a compact outpost of musical goodness in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, and somehow it manages to have the feel of a huge festival and a small club at the same time. Needless to say, this is quite the accomplishment, and we were more than a little excited to get on with the 2009 lineup.

As is typical to the festival, the lineups had been split into a more "dance" day on Saturday, and a more "rock" day on Sunday. As such, we went first to catch a killer set from Passion Pit. After the energy and awesomeness of their set in September, we weren't exactly surprised to see them deliver in top form once again. That being said, it was nice to see the band solidify their live sound in our minds, and moreover get the crowd dancing with enthusiasm.

We quickly followed up with a visit to Dan Deacon's set. Deacon has fast built up a reputation for a high energy, crowd participatory set, and Saturday was no exception. Between a few well timed "dance contests", Deacon had the entire crowd dancing in short order.

From Deacon's set we moved on to catch The Streets. We've been huge fans of the band since their first record, and it always shocks us that they manage to be even better live. It's not that we don't think they have talent, it's just that the records are already great, so surpassing them is actually quite an achievement. On Saturday, they definitely had the crowd on their side, with the only notable exception being unable to convince the ladies to remove their tops. Nice try, boys.

From there we hit up the set that was probably the most crowd-anticipated of the day: Girl Talk. The band's infectious, mash-up jams are simply too much to pass up, and the crowd more than demonstrated their enthusiasm. In line with the band's sound, the stage setup consisted mainly of a DJ desk. Still, the simplicity was enough to inspire an on (and off) stage dance party that was completely over the top.

We closed out the night by hitting up MGMT's set - complete with fireworks, the band hammered through a set that covered the breadth of their debut record. While the set was definitely far more energetic and inspired than when we saw them opening for Macca, we have to say that the band still played it pretty close to vest. It's not that anything was missing from the set, more that it was just a very direct interpretation of the band's sound. That being said, we totally love that record to the max, so we were grinning like fools.

Closing out the night, Treasure Island continued to win our respect and admiration. Put simply, it's a totally killer festival that does everything right.

Stay tuned for day 2!

All photos by Brian Fong
Many more pictures at the HAD Archive

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

David Bowie (and Tin Machine) - "Debaser"

It's no secret that that Doolittle is considered by many to be The Pixies masterpiece, and with good reason: the record is a killer front-to-back listen. However, perhaps less well known is that in the early 90's (with his band Tin Machine, pictured above) David Bowie covered Doolittle's opening track "Debaser" with some regularity.

While it doesn't quite have the perfection of The Pixies version, we have to admit we dig Bowie's take quite a bit. The band (who already had a pretty solid bluesy vibe going) take on the song as a sped up heavy rock version of its former self. It's not the original, but if you're a bit of a Bowie fetishist (as we most certainly are), then it's worth your time.

The version here is a fantastic sounding board feed from the band's 12-17-1991 show at San Francisco's own Warfield. Enjoy!

mp3: David Bowie (And Tin Machine) - Debaser (Pixies cover, live @ The Warfield San Francisco)

Port O'Brien Played Union Hall - Pictures, Review

It's no secret that we've been digging on Port O'Brien's latest, Threadbare, so we were pretty amped up for their show this weekend at Union Hall. Suffice it to say, we were not disappointed. The band, sporting a brand new SF-heavyweights lineup, delivered a show that was packed with energy, delved skillfully into the new material, and most importantly left the audience begging for more. In short: totally killer.

The show, as is often the case with the band, started out on the mellow side. The band (as we mentioned) has a new lineup, but you wouldn't have known it: they were totally tight and on the mark, even in spite of a smallish amount of space on stage. The band's new lineup is nothing if not experienced: Tyson Vogel of Two Gallants has taken over percussive duties, and Gram Lebron of Rogue Wave has taken over a multi-instrumentalist role. Combine that with the band's existing lineup, and you have yourself a damn solid live act.

The really nice thing about the show was that the new material integrated extremely well with the old material: there was no vibe of "old song-new song" in the set. Rather, the set had a natural momentum of its own that built over the course of the hour or so that the band played. It also wasn't hurting things that they were playing to a crowd that was clearly packed with fans of the breadth of the band's material.

One of our favorite moments was "Calm Me Down", from the new record. The tune had a gradual buildup that was simply stunning. Apparently the band hasn't played it that much live. Well, HAD pro tip: they should! It's a brilliant tune on record, and even better live.

The band wrapped the show with their classic "I Woke Up Today" group participatory act, and we have to say it really worked. The last time we saw them it had been feeling a little tired, but on Friday it had a vitality and newness that felt completely exciting and fresh. To our ears, that vibe was indicative of a larger renaissance for Port O'Brien. With their new record and new lineup, this is a band that went through the wringer and came out on the other side the better for it. If you haven't seen them live (or even if it's just been a while), now is clearly the time to do so. Take our word for it.

More photos at the HAD Archive. Port O'Brien is on tour now.

mp3: Port O'Brien - Calm Me Down