Thursday, September 30, 2010

Phoenix Gives Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix Commentary

Phoenix at Rumsey Playfield, Summer 2009, from the HAD Archive

If you're a regular reader of HAD, you know that we're (almost unhealthily) obsessed with Phoenix, and their almost-eponoymous record of last year, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Interestingly, the band is showing no sign of slowing down support for the record, with an upcoming show at Madison Square Garden, and tons of online goodies.

The most recent of those goodies was last week's release of the record's multitrack tapes, and now this week we see one more. The band has posted a series of videos related to the making of the record, with commentary on each song; how it was composed, what it's intent was, and how it came to be. We've posted the first one ("Lisztomania") below, and you can check out the rest by heading to the band's You Tube page. Tres bon!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dismemberment Plan Reunite

Okay, we're a little late to the party on this one: apparently the memo came trhough about a week ago. That being said, just in case you missed it (like we did), here's the down low: Dismemberment Plan will be appearing at Webster Hall on January 30th of next year.

This isn't entirely unheard of, as the band have reunited for one-offs in the past. Apparently this one is another one (or rather, five) off, and is to celebrate the forthcoming reissue of Emergency & I. What remains to be seen is whether it would indicate a greater end to Travis Morrison's self imposed musical hiatus.

As huge fans of Travis and the band, we couldn't be happier to see this occurring, even if the haters think it's way too much of a nostalgia (or ego!) trip for the band. The fact of the matter is that these are some great tunes that people are psyched to hear, so why not enjoy it while you can? See you out there!

Dismemberment Plan Emergency & I Reunion Tour
Fri, January 21st Washington, D.C @ Black Cat
Sat, January 22nd Washington, D.C. @ 9:30 Club
Thu, January 27th Philadelphia, PA @ The Starlight Ballroom
Fri, January 28th Boston, MA @ Paradise
Sat, January 29th New York, NY @ Webster Hall

EELS Played Terminal 5 - Pictures, Video, Review, Setlist

EELS always deliver a solid show, but what's in store can unquestionably vary. From a curmudgeon-y E (cane included) touring with a string section, to an all out rock band, the EELS almost defy definition in a live setting. On Saturday night at Terminal 5, we stopped in to check up on E, and unquestionably got a dose of the latter.

E arrived on stage subtly enough, delivering a number of tunes solo, and then with "The Chet" backing him up on pedal steel. Dressed in a white jump suit, a bandana, and a serious beard (think Souljacker-era), and armed with his Danelectro guitar, the first three songs (including "Daisies Of The Galaxy") were quiet, sweet, and understated.

From their, all bets were off, as a full band joined E and The Chet on stage, and they busted into a lengthy and rocking set. They were definitely tightly rehearsed, possibly even to the point of making their onstage antics seem a bit contrived or stilted. Nonetheless, any over-preparation couldn't really stifle the awesomeness of a huge setlist that included killer covers of "Summer In The City", "Summertime", and "Twist And Shout" (which, oddly, had "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues" sung on top of it).

The set had moments where it would calm down a bit (a quick stopover for "In My Dreams" and "The Look You Give That Guy"), but for the most part, E was dead set on airing out his rock songs, and we loved him for it. It's been a long time since we've heard the likes of "Souljacker Pt. 1" and "Jungle Telegraph", and they were nicely accented by the band's newer rockers like "Fresh Blood", "Tremendous Dynamite", and "My Baby Loves Me".

At the end of the day, it comes down to the simple fact that we love E, but that doesn't change the fact that one of the things we love about him is his dynamism. It's been way, way, too long since we've seen him put on a rock show this stupendous, and let us tell you: it was well worth the wait.

More pictures in the HAD Archive

Monday, September 27, 2010

Caribou Played Webster Hall: Pictures, Review, Video

In all the times that we've seen Caribou over the past few years, they've yet to disappoint. Last week at Webster Hall was no exception. The Canadian band are without question one of the most tightly integrated units in rock and roll, and seeing their material in a live setting is almost like getting to hear a completely new and invigorated version of the album tracks.

The room at Webster Hall was unquestionably the largest we've ever seen them in, and it's clear that the band's popularity is rapidly expanding. Tracks from Swim were met with massive approval, and also seemed far more prone to the band's more extended jams. In particular, "Sun" and "Odessa" both garnered some serious crowd reaction.

Interestingly, some of the tracks from Andorra were conspicuously disregarded (at least with regard to applause levels), despite being in the best shape that we've ever heard them in. There was an astoundingly massive version of "Melody Day", and a take on "After Hours" that completely blew our minds. Swim may be bringing the crowds, but we're glad the band hasn't forgotten their roots.

As has become the norm with Caribou, the show also included an epic light show reminiscent of the finest 60's psychedelica. Projections were combined with strategically timed strobes to offer up an environment that was intricately tied to the music. Lulls would be accented with drifting colors, followed by explosive bursts of onstage light at the most percussive moments.

Putting a Caribou show into words is almost moot, because the experience is a far more visceral than it is intellectual. The band manages to take intricate melodies and rhythms and combine them in such a way that the listener is left not only completely in love with the show, but also wishing you could bottle the experience and take it home.

More photos in the HAD Archive

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Menomena and Suckers Played Great American Music Hall - Pictures, Review

We had been digging Brooklyn band Suckers for a while now (in fact, their recent LP Wild Smile is new favorite), so we were stoked to catch them along with headliner Menomena, last Wednesday night. The second of two shows at the Great American Music Hall, both bands certainly delivered, with each one complementing the other.

We walked in just as Suckers began their set, with lead singer Quinn Walker commanding the attention of the audience right from the start. A wild man possessed (in a good way), Walker performed with abandon; falsetto notes were hit and he played all over the stage.

Singer/guitarist Austin Fisher held down the fort with his stoic manner and voice reminiscent of David Byrne. Meanwhile Pan (single moniker only) jumped from synth to mic to the trumpet and back again.

Drummer/percussionist Brian Aiken played with intense fervency, and showed the audience on more than one occasion that he could drum, play the keyboard, and sing - all at the same time. The vocal harmonies were exhilarating, and by the end of the Suckers set, the audience was singling along.

Portland's Menomena is no stranger in putting on a good show, as after nearly ten years on the scene, the band certainly knows how to carefully construct their songwriting- the crowd that packed the hall clearly knew this.

Brian Knopf, Justin Harris, and Danny Seim, all talented multi-instrumentalists (including glockenspiel and saxaphone) and vocalists, managed to both lead and be back up on each track, resulting in a beautiful display of collaboration.

The band covered most of the tracks on Mines, and captivated the crowd. Overall, we were lucky enough to attend - it was a killer show! The bands are currently making their way east, and if you've still got a chance to check them out, we recommend you do the same.

Words By Neha Gandhy
Pictures by Ujjwal Sarin

More pictures at the HAD Archive

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The 22-20s Played Bowery Ballroom - Pictures, Review

You may recall that a while back we caught up with The 22-20s at San Francisco's Rickshaw stop. Well, the show was such a treat that we couldn't resist seeing them again. When we got word that the band would be stopping over in New York, we made sure to be there, so that we could catch a killer set from this reunited British quartet.

Much like in San Francisco, the band was in top form, and delivered a nearly bulletproof set of blues-influenced British rock. One of the things that continues to fascinate us about The 22-20s is how they manage to come across as completely influence by so many notable bands from the past, yet not feel derivative in any way.

Unquestionably, a huge part of what allows for this is the band's amazingly tight live show. Whether it be the locked in rhythm, intertwined melody and rhythms of the two guitars, or the occasional slide guitar solo, the fact is that the band can deliver a live show that highlights their talents and their sounds immediately, even to the most novice of ears.

In short, The 22-20's have got "it": a subtle stage presence that is all at once confident, charismatic, and completely genuine. More importantly, they underscore this presence with undeniable musicianship. Unfortunately, the band are done with their jaunt in the US for the time being. Whenever they do decide to return next, we highly recommend you take the plunge and check them out.

More pictures at the HAD Archive

David Byrne Delivers Audio Book and Wall Street 2 Soundtrack

David Byrne's apparently been keeping busy over the summer, and this week finds the fruits of his labor delivered for all to see. You may remember we gave mention to Byrne's Bicycle Diaries a while back. Well now Byrne has outdone himself by delivering an audio book version of the volume, which he's narrated himself.

Not only does the audio book contain music to help with the transitions, but it also has Byrne finding his own unique voice in a confessional and inviting tone. Given the nature of the book: diary, confessional, and commentary, the presence of the author (particularly one as clever as this) is a welcome and inviting enhancement to the book's already awesome content.

In addition to this lovely bit of audio-literature, Byrne has also delivered the soundtrack to Oliver Stone's latest venture, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. We have yet to hear the tunes for ourselves, but they've become available in wide release today. Given Byrne's solid history of scoring film, and the fact that he was intimately involved with the use of the music in context ("Stone was super accommodating - inviting me numerous times to view rough assemblies to be sure I was OK with how the music was being used"), we're more than a little excited to hear what he came up with.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Phoenix Drop Complete Multi-Track Recordings For Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Phoenix @ Outside Lands 2010, from the HAD Archive, Photo by Rick Audet

If you're a remixer, or better yet anyone who fetishizes the deconstruction and creation of rock music, we've got some great news for you. Those lovely gentlemen in Phoenix, who always tend to do things their own way, have decided to release the complete multi-track tapes from their record Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.

What does this mean for you? Well, for one, it means that you can download the tracks and remix them (for better or worse) to your heart's content. But, (and more importantly to us) it also means that you can navigate through these recordings and see just how the band managed to construct so much pop goodness, piece by piece.

Granted, it's an activity that will only appeal to the most audio and process obsessed of fans. That being said, if you're here reading this blog, and you take us even remotely seriously, then we can only guess that you fit into that category, and find this just as delightful as we do!

Oddly, we could only find mention of the download in the email we got from the band's mailing list, but because we're so kind, we'll hit you with the links here. Feel the love.

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix Multitrack Downloads

John Vanderslice Drops Free EP

John Vanderslice has always had something of a reputation as being one of the more solid individuals in the indie rock scene. So, when it came over the wire that his new EP Green Grow The Rushes was being given away for free, we can't say we were exactly shocked that he would indulge in such awesomeness.

The record finds the versatile Vanderslice in one of his more experimental modes, and the tracks all have a certain minimalist air that places Vanderslice's multi-tracked vocals atop percussion and subtle instrumentation. Given that the tracks were recorded with a variety of collaborators, it's interesting that they manage to achieve a certain level of sonic unity.

That being said, there is also versatility in the tempos and delivery, and the record is by no means overly staid. While it's bookended by the more meditative "Thule Fog" and "Penthouse Window", the tracks in between offer a solid landscape: "I'll Never Live Up To You" finds Vanderslice dipping his toe in some 8-bit synths, "Pony Express" finds a more organic singer-songwriter vibe, and "Streetlights" is notable as the record's most rock and roll moment.

The fifth track, "Lay Down" (below), was especially notable for us here at HAD, in that it was engineered and produced by Spoon's Jim Eno. Eno manages to harbor Vanderslice's melodic and melancholy side, while at the same time balancing it with a straight ahead drum track and some crunchy atmospheric guitars. Occasionally, JV's darker vibe can get us down, but this track manages to keep things flowing musically and capture the essence of emotion at the same time. Win.

As we mentioned, you can enjoy all this awesomeness for free (mp3 or uncompressed!) by heading to Vanderslice's web site. Alternatively, if you share our fetish (and JV's) for all things analog, then you can bide your time with the digital copies, and pick up the vinyl pressing that's due early next year. Either way - enjoy!

Pavement Played Agganis Arena: Video, Review

Sure, we know Pavement is coming to New York for four nights in Central Park this week, but we just got a little impatient. As such, we decided to head up the coast and check out the band's set in Boston at Agganis Arena. The set was undeniably solid, and had everything an old school Pavement fan could want. That being said, we found ourselves questioning whether the reunion was the best thing for all involved.

The show was unquestionably geared towards fans of the band's older material. The setlist drew primarily upon earlier material, with heavy emphasis put on the first three records. While it was exciting, no, thrilling, to hear some of these songs live (our heart raced at the first notes of "Grounded"), it was also a bit of a let down to hear Brighten The Corners be so seriously underrepresented.

In some ways, it seemed that the fans weren't the only ones on a nostalgia trip. While Malkmus was his usual dynamic, incredible, amazing self, the enthusiasm on stage from Spiral Stairs and Bob Nastanovich seemed at times over the top, and often detracted from the music itself. Spiral Stairs seemed to be in a hallucinatory state where the show was all about him, basking under an oddly placed spotlight, even when Malkmus was taking the lead on a tune. More often that not, Nastanovich was jumping around stage like a freed monkey, trampling Malkmus' vocals with incomprehensible shouts. Sure, we know they're friends, but is this really considered a good thing for the band?

Which isn't to say that the show didn't have it's highlights: hearing any of these songs live is a treat we thought we'd never get to indulge in, so every moment is something of a win. Moreover, the band was definitely tight. We had heard rumors from back in the day of Pavement failing to deliver about 50% of the time when it came to live shows. Whether it's that we got lucky, or that they're simply well rehearsed, the fact is that they hammered through the set like well versed pros.

The other piece of the puzzle that was unquestionably awesome was the onstage dynamic between Stephen Malkmus and Mark Ibold. The idea of a Pavement reunion was (apparently) hatched when these two were chatting at a music festival, and Ibold is notable as the only member of the band that's had real musical accomplishment (as a member of Sonic Youth) since leaving Pavement.

On stage, the two of them clearly were enjoying being in the groove together, and we have to admit that they were the one facet of the show that actually seemed to be creating a genuine moment. At times, When Kannberg and Nastanovich would leave the stage, Ibold and Malkmus (along with drummer Steve West) would combine to make the best fucking Pavement three piece you've ever heard. We have to admit that if it were up to us, these three guys would have taken over for the bulk of the show.

So, did we love seeing Pavement live? For sure. Did we love it as much as we thought we would? Not really. The combination of huge venues, a bizarre stage dynamic, and a bit of a "revue" vibe, left us feeling like we watching less of a genuine concert, and much more of an ephemera piece. Which, when it comes down to it, is exactly what it is. Malkmus has held fast that this isn't a permanent reunion, and when you think about that, there's only one conclusion to come to: Overly contrived or not, you know you want to see yourself some Pavement, so enjoy it while you can.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Spoon At Music Hall Of Williamsburg: The Videos

We know, we already posted about Spoon's show at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg. But you see, here's the thing: we got these killer videos of the band playing their set, and we figured it deserved a post of its own. Not only did we manage to snag both of the covers that were performed, but we also captured just a touch of the energy that was in the room. Check the vids below. We think you'll enjoy.

Spoon Played Music Hall Of Williamsburg: Pictures, Review, Setlist

Sure, we know what you're thinking. We here at HAD are a bunch of crazies that just can't get enough of Spoon. Well, you're half right: we can't get enough of Spoon, but we're sure as hell not crazy, and last night proved it. After catching Spoon in New Jersey on Sunday, and at Cake Shop yesterday afternoon, we made our way to the Music Hall Of Williamsburg and saw the best show we've seen from the band in a very long time.

Opener Sean Bones delivered a solid set of reggae-tinged rock that did a great job at warming up the crowd. Bones' music manages to ape reggae without becoming cheesy or derivative, and the result is something that could easily garner comparison to certain late-era Clash tunes. A lot of this could be attributed to Bones' crunchy, solid guitar playing that is largely the backbone of his sound. We dig, you hear?

Spoon took to the stage soon thereafter, and immediately delved into a killer version of "Car Radio". We're guessing this choice may have taken inspiration from the Cake Shop request earlier in the day, and we loved every second of it. On top of that, it was just the ticket to get the crowd stoked and on board for a night of awesome rock and roll.

From there, the band dove into a set that leaned heavily on their three most recent records, Transference, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, and Gimme Fiction. There were only a handful of exceptions, including "Someone Something", "Everything Hits At Once", and "Stay Don't Go". Still, we're definitely not complaining: the band has become so tight over the last year, that their delivery of the new material puts it in a different category from the recorded versions. Almost all of the songs have a new edge that makes them a joy to see live.

The set also contained two notable covers: Wolf Parade's "The Modern World", and Jay Reatard's "No Time". As usual, Spoon did a bang-up job in the covers department, and brought a lot of new life to these songs. "The Modern World" was slightly more rocked out than the original, and had a darker chunkier feel. "No Time" benefitted considerably from Daniel's vocals, and the performance really emphasized just what a killer chord/melody genius Jay Reatard was.

It's hard to convey, but the electricity in the room was incredible. The crowd was joyous and excited, the band was on point and having a great time, and the set (including two encores) was about as good as they come. In short, it was a fantastic evening of rock and roll from a band that is truly schooled in delivering some of the best guitar goodness on stage today.

We had heard rumors (we didn't attend) that the band's shows at Madison Square Garden were a little drier than some would have liked, and we were wondering if maybe the guys were a little tired from the road. If last night is any indication, those rumors were started by some cracked out fool. Rest assured: Spoon is kicking ass, taking names, and loving it all at the same time.

Car Radio
Nobody Gets Me But You
The Mystery Zone
You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb
Trouble Comes Running
The Ghost of You Lingers
Written In Reverse
Someone Something
Modern World (Wolf Parade cover)
The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine
Don't You Evah
Finer Feelings
Everything Hits at Once
Don't Make Me A Target
I Summon You
No Time (Jay Reatard cover)
Got Nuffin
Black Like Me
Who Makes Your Money
Stay Don't Go
My Mathematical Mind
I Turn My Camera On
The Underdog

Many more photos in the HAD Archive

Spoon Played Cakeshop - Review, Setlist

While we weren't able to grab more than a few cellphone snaps (it was a video shoot - no pro shots allowed), we were lucky enough to catch up with Spoon at Cake Shop yesterday afternoon. We had to wait for quite a while, but our perseverance paid off when we found ourselves in the front row of a killer nine song set.

Getting together the motivation to deliver killer rock and roll at one in the afternoon has to be a bit of a challenge, but the band were clearly up to it. By the second song, they had the whole room on their side, and despite some (minor) technical hiccups, the vibe was good.

The set was a mix of new and old material, and it all blended well. We got to hear our some of our faves from Transference as well as a blazing version of "Don't Make Me A Target", and an old school shout out to the awesomeness of "Car Radio", at fan request. All in all, our only complaint is that we could have done with about an hour more of music. Luckily, we were patient enough for the evening show, which was right around the corner.

Spoon Setlist - Cake Shop 09/13/2010
Nobody Gets Me But You
The Two Sides Of Monsieur Valentin
Someone Something
Who Makes Your Money
Don't You Evah
Mystery Zone
Don't Make Me A Target
Nobody Gets Me But You (Second Take)
Car Radio

Monday, September 13, 2010

Spoon Played Union County Music Fest - Pictures, Review

Those of us willing to brave the menacing clouds (and a trip to Jersey!) last night were treated to a stellar set from one of our very favorite bands. Spoon headlined the little-known Union County Music Fest and proved they just might be the coolest cats to ever step foot in the sprawling suburbia known to some as The Armpit of the Nation. Only an hour outside of New York City, we found the former golf course Oak Ridge Park a perfect place for a festival and it was obvious that the band did as well.

The small two day fest featured a curious mix of bands (Train? Soul Asylum??) and Spoon was preceded by the 60s British pop-rockers The Zombies (Maybe hippies aren’t all dead after all.) Still, Spoon ruled the night and the kids up front who stood outside for hours on this cloudy and cold September day let them know it. Running through a conspicuously Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga-heavy set that started with “Don’t Make Me a Target”, the guys were loose, and Britt Daniel connected with the crowd even more than usual.

Clearly a summer of heavy touring behind Transference has allowed the band finesse those newer songs. “Nobody Gets Me But You” and “Trouble Comes Running” have evolved into killer live tracks and sounded better than ever. A few older tunes included a beautiful version of “Me and the Bean” and the always rockin’ “Jonathan Fiske.” Britt also branded a hollow-bodied electric and taped a lyric sheet to his mic to cover “No Time” and pay tribute to their friend and former tourmate Jay Reatard, who died tragically in January.

The encore included on an extended version of “Small Stakes.” In the end, it never rained beyond a mist and everyone went home happy – especially those of us lucky enough to see Spoon again tonight - see you there!

Words and Photos By Chris Goldberg
Many more pictures in the HAD Archive

Jason Falkner Launches West Coast Mini-Tour

This news has us extremely, extremely excited. If you read HAD devoutly, then you at least know that we have more than a bit of a soft spot for power pop musician extraordinaire, Jason Falkner. It's been a big year for the (sometimes absent) man: Falkner's I'm Ok, You're Ok has just seen domestic release, while his fantastic latest record All Quiet On The Noise Floor is still sort of floating around in the ether of the internet (okay, and Japan) waiting for it's day in the sun.

Nonetheless, Falkner always seems to be on a bit of a prolific kick, whether it be live or in the studio, and this fall is no exception. After a show at Spaceland in Los Angeles last month, Falkner has lined up a set of rare west coast appearances to (presumably) give fans a much needed taste of his newer material.

Falkner will be stopping in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco at the beginning of next week. While there's no word yet as to whether it will be a solo or a full band affair, we can more than promise you that it'll be worth your while. If you're doubting us, check the awesome HD vid (above) from June in Austin, or the killer new track "Evangeline" from All Quiet On The Noise Floor (shh!). Either way, be there!

Jason Falkner West Coast Mini Tour 2010
Seattle - The Triple Door - Sept. 20
Portland - Doug Fir Lounge - Sept. 21
San Francisco - Slim's - Sept. 23

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spoon Chooses Monday To Take On New York City

Spoon at the House of Blues Boston, from the HAD Archive

Sure, we already told you about tonight's sold out Spoon show at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg, but if you thought that was all you had coming your way, you're sorely mistaken.

First up, the band promptly updates their September "bonus track" at the beginning of the month, and it's a good one. A demo for the Transference track "Goodnight Laura", the track is an entirely different take on the song, driven by guitar, and featuring much more forward drums and vocals. In many ways, it's like the inverse of Gimme Fiction's "Sister Jack", which began as a piano demo, and then made its way to guitar world.

On top of the fantastic bonus track, you also get another chance to see the band today. In addition to the Music Hall show, the band will be dropping in at Cake Shop to play a tiny show for fans, with tickets sold at the door. No word on whether it'll be a full set, but according to the band's web site, doors are at 12:45 and the show is at 1.

Happy Spoon Monday kids!