Friday, October 29, 2010

Chris Bell: I Am The Cosmos

If you like Big Star, and we most certainly do around these parts, then you probably know that Alex Chilton's counterpart in the band was one Chris Bell. The two were co-frontmen in the eventually doomed 1970's quartet, but not before they made some of the most formidable power pop that the world has ever known. After the band's demise, Chilton went on to a long solo career, and eventually reunited Big Star. Bell however, wasn't quite so lucky, and (sadly) died in a car crash at the much-to-young age of 27.

Before the unfortunate event, however, he managed to get one solo record down on tape, and it's a doozy. Hidden in the vaults for years, I Am The Cosmos was eventually released by Ryko in 1992, the record is a piece of pop mastery. It is all the parts of Big Star that Chilton was not, and illustrates perfectly why the two were such a solid songwriting team. Moreover, Chilton makes a guest appearance on the tune "You And Your Sister", and it's Big Star magic all over again.

Perhaps you've already heard the record, in which case you know exactly what we're talking about. But if you haven't heard it, and you heart some Big Star, then today's your lucky day. Chris Bell's I Am The Cosmos is a complete dose of the classic Big Star sound, recorded in the heart of the 70's . Check it out for yourself, and we think you'll agree that it's very, very, good.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pixies Give Away 2004 Coachella Recording

Believe it or not, there was a time when the Pixies had been broken up for years, and talk of a reunion was whispered in hushed tones. All that ended when the band reunited in 2004, and proceeded to take over the world with the "Pixies Sell Out" tour. Since then, the band has been out and about, touring Debaser in full, releasing a new track here and there, and generally keeping themselves well accounted for.

Well, along those lines, the band has decided to rejuvenate their website, and bring their brand new on-line identity to the world. What's more, they're apparently so excited about the appearance that they've decided to give things away for free! What, you ask? Well, specifically, and audio recording of their 2004 show at Coachella in Indio, CA. While the band did indeed play a few warm up gigs, for many this was the first show of the reunion.

The night holds a special place in our hearts here at HAD, since it was our first ever Coachella, and was truly a blast. The band is generously giving it away, but their generosity only lasts a week, and all they want in exchange is your email address. Head over to this promo site to grab the full show now. Win!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chocolate Genius Coming To The Bell House

We first heard Chocolate Genius when we were living in Seattle back in the summer of 1999. He was a guest on David Byrne's program Sessions From West 54th, and he blew us away with his distinctive vocals on the heart wrenching "My Mom"(below). Since then, Marc Anthony Thompson has taken the Chocolate Genius moniker through a number of iterations, landing on the current Chocolate Genius Inc.

That's the name that Thompson has applied to his collective, and their subsequent work over the past few years. Regardless of what he calls it, we can assure you that Thompson is a singular talent, and well worth your time. Lucky you, then, that he'll be playing at The Bell House on November 2nd. Make sure you're there.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Badly Drawn Boy Playing Two Nights At Le Poisson Rouge

We'll grant you, it's been a while since we've been pulled in by Badly Drawn Boy's tunes, but when we caught wind of the man playing two nights at Le Poisson Rouge, we took notice. Turns out there's a new album that dropped two weeks back that's actually quite good. Entitled It's What I'm Thinking Pt. 1 - Photographing Snowflakes, the disc is getting some notice for reuniting Damon Gough with longtime collaborator Andy Votel. The lead track, "Too Many Miracles" (below), is a definite return to Gough's early writing, and features a grainy orchestra supplemented by some nice castanets.

New releases aside, there's no denying that Gough is an awesome songwriter, and seeing him the fantastically small room at LPR will definitely be a treat. Granted, if you're planning seeing Tweedy at the Bowery, you'll have to work your schedule: the BDB shows are on 12/3 and 12/4. There's nothing wrong with having a weekend full of awesome songwriting, and it might just be a fantastic way to start off your winter!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Jeff Tweedy Plots Mini Solo Tour, Bowery Ballroom 12/4

Jeff Tweedy with Wilco at Lupo's, from the HAD Archive

You know we love us some Wilco, so it makes sense that we were totally stoked to learn that Jeff Tweedy will be hitting the road in December. As has become somewhat customary, Tweedy is taking a little time up from recording with the band and getting in a little alone time on the road.

The tour consists of a mere three dates, and if you're New York City, Tarrytown, NY or Charlottesville, VA, then you're in luck! As you might guess, we'll be hitting up the New York show, which takes place at Bowery Ballroom on December 4th. A presale for the event goes on next Wednesday - check out all the details here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Treasure Island Festival Day 2 - Pictures, Review

Day 2 at Treasure Island got off to a tenuous start: the morning was quite rainy, and the festival grounds were unquestionably dampened in the early hours of the day. However, after a few (quite aggressive) downpours, the weather took the rest of the day off, and things cleared up just in time for us to start checking out some killer tunes on the "rock" day of the fest.


We've been really digging on Superchunk's latest disc Majesty Shredding, so we were stoked to make sure we caught their set at the festival. The band definitely did not disappoint, and have clearly been putting in the time to rehearse for this tour. Their set was ridiculously tight, and brought the rock and roll out to play right when the dreary day needed it most.

The set was a nice mix of old and new material, and it seemed like pretty much everyone taking in the show was well satisfied. With less frequent records and touring, Superchunk is somewhat in danger of being relegated to a nostalgia act, so it was nice to see them realize the full potential of their new material, and deliver a killer set that left little doubt as to their solidity as a band.

The Sea And Cake

After Superchunk's set, we headed over to catch The Sea And Cake, a constant favorite around these parts. The band, who haven't had a new record in a while, delivered a set that focused heavily on their last two, Car Alarm and Everybody.

The band was just coming off of a lengthy tour with Broken Social Scene, and did seem a tad road-weary, but nonetheless managed a killer set. They're always on top of making their tunes live up to the album versions, and the intricacy and exacting nature of their playing is always a treat.

At the end of the day, The Sea And Cake are one of our faves both on record and in a live environment. Getting to see them play a set at a show that already had so many awesome bands on the bill was like icing on the cake.

She & Him

She & Him made their way on stage to the shrill screams of a countless number of women, and from there, well...we don't exactly know what to say. Does Zooey Deschanel have a decent voice? Sure. Decent in the sense that if you went to karaoke with her, you'd probably have a good time. Decent in the sense that she should be taking up Matt Ward's time and talent? Not exactly.

Look, we know they probably love each other to death. We know that she's a movie star, and that sells records. We know that they probably both appreciate each other's talents so much. But that's not really the point. The point, is that Matt Ward is a killer musician in his own right, and when we hear She & Him it just seems so middle of the road. At the end of the day, at least for us, that's just not good enough.

Broken Social Scene

Luckily, our skepticism was soon to be overridden by the awesomeness that is Broken Social Scene. As mentioned above, the band was on the final date of a lengthy tour with The Sea And Cake. Frontman Kevin Drew was quick to admit they were dragging a bit, and the crowd was quick to respond with a solid dose of enthusiasm.

Despite being tired, the band certainly didn't let it get the best of their set, and they pulled out all the stops in delivering the rock and roll to the masses. As is custom, the band traded up on vocals and instruments, including a vast array of horns to even out the material. The set started off with a positively epic rendition of "Meet Me In The Basement", and took off from there.

In terms of the "pillars" of BSS, Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, and Andrew Whiteman were all in attendance. The female vocals were filled out by now-regular member Lisa Lobsinger, who did a killer job on "Shoreline" and "Anthems For A 17 Year Old Girl", to name a couple. For a festival show, this one really did the trick, and the band's enthusiasm combined with a killer setlist (below) left us more than satisfied.

Broken Social Scene Treasure Island Setlist
Meet Me In The Basement
Fire-eyed Boy
Texaco Bitches
Forced To Love
World Sick
Anthems For A 17 Year Old Girl
Almost Crimes
All To All
Ibi Dreams Of Pavement

The National

As always, The National delivered an impecable set, both visually and sonically. These guys have simply got their act down, and they deliver every time. The set was timed perfectly as darkness fell on the festival, and the band emerged amidst smokey lights to offer up their own brand of melancholic soul.

That being said, The National are so well put together that it's starting to feel a little contrived. The act is always dead on, and it's always so heavy, that one starts to wonder if it's genuine. Don't get us wrong: these guys make killer records, and have an amazingly well composed live show. We just worry that if they don't switch it up a little, they might be in danger of becoming a one trick pony.

Rogue Wave

SF locals Rogue Wave closed out the night at the second stage with a set of their own unique folky-rock mix. It's a testament to the band that their material is both artistically solid and easily accessible, and the crowd that assembled clearly enjoyed taking it all in.

The set was a truly enjoyable display of the band's musical talents, and they headed right through a set of great songs such that the set passed rapidly. Ted Nesseth of The Heavenly States joined the band on stage, which was a treat as well. The band closed out the set, and the crowd promptly began the migration for the final set of the night.

Belle & Sebastian

When we heard about Belle & Sebastian headlining the festival, we were a little skeptical. Don't get us wrong: we love the band, and they positively kill in a live environment. It's just that we really couldn't figure if Stuart Murdoch and Co. would be able to deliver a set that was engaging and "big" enough to own the main stage.

Well, Murdoch was clearly dead set on proving any misgivings anyone had completely wrong, and took to the stage bursting with energy and enthusiasm. In trippy glasses and a scarf, he and the band proceeded to deliver a set that ran the gamut of their lengthy career, and had something for everyone.

While the quieter songs were a little more difficult to latch onto in the live environment, overall the band's set was well on top of things, and made sure it owned the night. One of the nice things about B&S is that their records are so restrained, and then their live show is so raucous. It reminds you that "twee" or not, these are clearly rock musicians who want to play their hearts out.

They did exactly that, and the set was a great close to a fantastic weekend.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Broken Social Scene and The Sea & Cake Join Forces For Split 7"

Well, count us in as excited. It was cool enough that The Sea & Cake's John McEntire produced Broken Social Scene's latest, Forgiveness Rock Record, and then the two bands subsequently toured together. This week the pair outdid themselves again, and announced a split 7" that's set to drop next Tuesday. The single contains an unreleased track from each band: "Curse Your Fail" from BSS, and "Skies" from The Sea & Cake. While you could wait and snag it at your local record shop, if you just can't wait it's available at Gallery AC right now!

Phoenix - "1901 (Alan Wilkis Remix)"

Phoenix at Central Park in 2009, from the HAD Archive

When Phoenix released tracks from their record in multi-track format, the number of remixes was so staggering that the band actually ended up releasing a separate album of other artists' interpretation of their work.

Even that didn't manage to grab all of the great tracks out there, and here's a little proof for you. This remix of "1901" is the work of Brooklyn-based producer Alan Wilkis, and has been hanging out in our files for the better part of a year. We figured this evening's Phoenix show at Madison Square Garden was the perfect time to bring it to your attention.

The remix captures the poppiness of the original, but then takes it in another direction that subtly suggests the rock-pop genius of Van Halen's "Jump". In other words, it does exactly what a remix should: takes a great song, and gives it a completely new perspective. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Treasure Island Festival Day 1 - Pictures, Review

Treasure Island is an ideal place for a music festival to take place, and the Treasure Island Festival's promoters make sure to make the most of it. We've been going to the fest since its inaugural year, and are always pleasantly surprised by what an awesomely streamlined operation it is. To get that many people onto an island, have a fantastically well organized music lineup, and then get them home again, well: it boggles the mind.

Saturday was an exceptional day for outdoor music, and as is tradition, it was the festival's more "dance" day, focusing heavily on DJ's and electronica. While that's unquestionably a little less "our bag", we still found a lot to enjoy, and found ourselves dancing away the afternoon and evening, awash in sun (and a little wind) throughout.

Four Tet

Four Tet is a DJ, and there's simply no other way to put it. Manning the decks in a hoody, Kieran Hebden put forth a set that was driven almost entirely from the decks, with the stage performance being limited to tweaks on mixers and laptops.

That being said, as the set continued, Hebden got noticeably invested in the set, and even started to crack a smile or two. The crowd was right with him, and loving every minute of it, as the bass lines thumped out a mid-afternoon dance anthem.

By the end of the set, everyone was on their feet, so much so that a few folks (including Green Man) made their way up above the crowd, inspiring enthusiasm from both Hebden and the crowd around them.

Kruder & Dorfmeister

Kruder & Dorfmeister are something of a nostalgia act for many, but that certainly didn't seem to inform their set on the main stage in any way, shape, or form. The duo delivered a set that was crackling with energy, and soundly supported by an amazing stage set and an energetic pair of vocalists.

The two did seem to be hiding behing the decks a little bit, but it really didn't phase us much - their set is one of the coolest we've seen in a long time, and did a really nice job at supporting their music in an energetic and exuberant way. Let's be honest: watching DJ's DJ isn't that exciting anyway, so why not give them a killer backdrop?

Whether or not their music has days-gone-by resonance for you, these guys know how to rock a crowd. Their presence at the fest was well conceived, and they did a fantastic job warming up the crowd as the sun began to fade into the evening sets.

LCD Soundsystem

We'll be frank with you: On Saturday, almost all of our attention was focused on LCD Soundsystem. We love the band, had heard positively glowing reports of their LA show the night before, and were completely ready for their set. And yet, we still weren't really prepared.

In short, James Murphy has somehow managed to take a project that is completely based around samples and beats, and turn it into one of the sickest rock bands you'll ever have the pleasure of seeing. On tour, LCD is a six person behemoth, and they realize the true potential of the record's tracks and beyond.

We don't want to make you too jealous, but let's put it this way: if you've only heard the records, you haven't truly heard this band. Their instrumentation is immaculate, their delivery is totally on point, and the songs break out of their mold in the most beautiful way. Our personal fave was a killer rendition of "All My Friends", but the set was so standout that it's peers were almost equal.

Never mind that Murphy has killer stage presence (in an all white suit, no less) - the band manages to take his strengths and build them even higher. The result is a set that explores new nooks and crannies at every turn, and leaves you wanting more, more, more. Needless to say, we danced the night away and then drifted out to the parking lot, in a quest to get some rest before day two arrived with the sun.

Many more pictures at the HAD Archive