Thursday, April 26, 2012

Video: Plants And Animals - "The End Of That" Live At Mercury Lounge

Last week when we stopped in at Mercury Lounge to catch a blazing set from Plants and Animals, we also managed to get a video of the title track from their latest full length, The End Of That. We think you'll agree that it's a killer clip - check it out above!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Plants And Animals Played Mercury Lounge - Pictures, Review

Last night we stopped in at Mercury Lounge for Plants And Animals' second show in a two night New York run. Packed into the tiny room, the show was exactly what we had hoped for: a raucous celebration of rock and roll energy combined with a solid dose of musical wizardry and prowess. The band, who continue to reach new heights each time we see them, delivered a killer set for an appreciative crowd, and left us unquestionably hungry for more.

Since the last time we saw them the band have clearly been coming into their own with their new four piece lineup.  Whereas the show in Brooklyn last December showed a group feeling out the boundaries of having a full time bassist, last night was a full fledged exploration of the territories that such a foundation affords. Most of the time there were two guitars blazing in intertwined leads, and even when one went acoustic, the other still was a tour de force of pedal-driven sonic exploration. On top of all this, there was also the welcome addition of a Fender Rhodes, which lent texture to a number of tunes, including a reworked version of "Game Shows" that simply slayed.

One of the most interesting things about Plants and Animals' always-expanding live show is the way that it builds on all of their previous experience. When things change, it's not some abrupt shift. Rather, it's another iteration on a previously explored successful formula, now enhanced with new and meaningful nuance to explore some new facet of sound.  Last night's show unquestionably dipped its toe in the lake of "true" rock and roll.

Without question, the group has always been a rock band, but last night saw them take this vibe to new heights. The vocals were more aggressive and less choral, the arrangements were more foot stomping and the guitars more fuzzy, overall the band just clearly had the urge to rock. All of this was underpinned by the pieces that make Plants and Animals one of the best live bands today: The group have a rapport that is simply unbreakable, and makes for moments of practiced serendipity that never cease to delight.

For us, the highlight of the evening came with the performance of "Lola Who?". The track, which is culled from the band's Avec/With EP, is one of our all-time favorites. It's a sprawling epic that navigates its way through enough sounds that you feel like you've been on a trip for a week after listening. The band seldom plays the tune, and to hear it live, with the advent of their new lineup was, in short, mind blowingly awesome.

We'll be the first to say it: you'd be a fool not to catch up with Plants And Animals on this tour. If we had to guess by the packed house last night, this may be the tour where they begin to graduate to larger venues, and the opportunity to see them "up close and personal" gradually disappears. Whatever the case, the incentive to be at these shows is undeniable, because doing so means catching a band that is close to, if not at, their creative peak.

More photos at the HAD Archive

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Plants And Animals Play Mercury Lounge Tonight

If you're anything like us here at HAD, then not only do you love Plants and Animals, but you've been seriously digging on their new record The End Of That. Not only is it some of the best songwriting the band's ever done, but it takes them in a whole new direction that is more centered on classic rock and roll, dueling guitars, and lyrical witticism. It is a record that is imminently replayable, but also ideally suited to the live environ.

Given that, as New Yorkers we couldn't be more excited that the band is playing a show tonight at Mercury Lounge. Not only do we get to see one of our favorite live bands (seriously, they fucking KILL it live), but we get to do so in a super intimate venue. It's the late show, so doors aren't untuil 9, and tickets are still available.  We'll see you out there, and in the meantime, enjoy the two official videos from the band's latest record, both of which are well worth your time.  Check them out below!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

White Hills Played Mercury Lounge - Pictures, Review

Under the icy glow of blue LED's, White Hills took to the stage at Mercury Lounge and delivered about as much noise as can be created by three people. The band's sonic assault heavily embraced the sound of their records, but did so with even more of a nod to their predecessors in the world of 1970's guitar rock. From the squealing sounds of a pedal-heavy Les Paul, to a generous application of eye makeup and glitter, White Hills clearly had come to rock.

The band's live sound, while faithful, is not identical to that of their records. The three-piece format meant replacing the record's synths with a flurry of guitar pedal work that covered the gamut of tone twisting wizardry. While it didn't quite catch the droney goodness that an organ provide, it did manage to create a wall of sound that was more than immersive enough for a live room.

Which isn't to say that the drone wasn't still firmly in place: the bass lines in particular held true to their staunchly repetitive strains from the band's recordings. While the guitar bled on with feedback-laden squelches, the bass line plodded steadily until it came to dominate many of the night's most poignant moments. At times it became so dominant that it almost seemed to become its own entity operating outside, but in sequence with, the band.

That sequence was firmly held in place by drum lines that were the definition of percussive expressionism. Not satisfied to simply provide a backbeat, the drums were instead an always-present force, playing as an equal member of the trio. At times, as the bass and guitar worked together to create an impenetrable wave of sound, and the drums would take on an almost melodic quality as they weaved in and out.

We have to admit: we were expecting White Hills to be a bit more of a Yo La Tengo-style drone fest in the live environ. Instead, they took those tendencies and turned them on their head, choosing to minimize their record's more subtle moments and instead embrace the music's most boisterous inclinations. While the result was perhaps slightly less artistically diverse, it was also a welcome dose of straight-ahead rock and roll which, let's be honest, these days can be pretty hard to find.

More pictures at the HAD Archive.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lotus Plaza - Spooky Action At A Distance

Given Bradford Cox's prolific output, and penchant for high drama, you wouldn't be blamed for assuming that he was the driving force behind the innovative sounds of Deerhunter, the band which he fronts when he's not performing as Atlas Sound. The fact of the matter, however, is that the band has another, equally important, component in guitarist Lockett Pundt. His outside work, entitled Lotus Plaza, is a window into the other half of Deerhunter's creative output. One listen makes you realize the degree to which the shared band is a creative effort, and how much Pundt has to offer. His latest record with Lotus Plaza is nothing short of a complete win.

As soon as the needle drops in the groove on Spooky Action At Distance, the textures and composition all point to Pundt's contributions to Deerhunter. The sparkling, interleaved guitars, the driving drum beats, and the oddly dry-yet-reverbed sound of the vocals. It is a sonic signature that is tough to imitate, and yet is oddly and deeply tied to Bradford Cox's own solo work.  It's almost as though the artists are travelling a shared path, but Pundt's is the edgier counterpart to Cox's more mellow sibling. While Cox's work can sometimes drift into ethereal bliss, Lotus Plaza stays more grounded in the world of traditional songwriting, with occasional doses of feedback and noise.

And, for what it's worth, that buys the record a lot more repeat listens.  Lotus Plaza has an accessibility and re-listenability that is shared with Deerhunter, and it's largely created by Pundt's fantastic songwriting.  The beats and melodies combine to create a body of work that is fun but complex, and more rewarding with each go round. It is a record that drives you to listen harder, and in turn be rewarded, in a way that only truly great rock records do.

Suffice it to say, we highly recommend you add Spooky Action At A Distance to your listening queue, if you haven't already. We're sure the result will be your presence in your local music hall, as Lotus Plaza starts their tour this week. See you out there!

mp3: Lotus Plaza - Strangers

Lotus Plaza Spring 2012 Tour Dates
4/13/2012 - Chicago IL lincoln hall
4/14/2012 - Ann arbor MI yellow barn
4/15/2012 - Toronto ON the garrison
4/16/2012 - Montreal QC casa del popolo
4/17/2012 - Ithaca NY the haunt
4/18/2012 - Albany NY valentine's
4/19/2012 - Brooklyn NY glasslands
4/20/2012 - Philadelphia PA johnny brenda's
4/21/2012 - Raleigh NC king's
4/22/2012 - Knoxville TN the pilot light
4/24/2012 - Atlanta GA the ear
4/25/2012 - Birmingham AL the bottletree
4/27/2012 - Austin TX psych fest
4/28/2012 - Dallas TX club dada
4/29/2012 - Memphis TN hi-tone cafe

Monday, April 2, 2012

Liars - "No. 1 Against The Rush"

We've got crazy levels of affection for Liars around these parts, so when studio videos started surfacing of the band working on their latest WIXIW, we were totally stoked. But nothing, to be honest, could have prepared us for just how awesome the product of those studio sessions would be. "No. 1 Against The Rush" is an awesome dose of synthy goodness wrapped around the band's signature ethereal songwriting style. The beat may be the most dance-influenced thing we've ever heard from the band, but the track manages to balance the poppy vibe just perfectly with eerie textures that save it from becoming repetitive in the least. We're sure you'll agree that it deserves multiple repeat listens on this sunny Monday morning. While an mp3 has yet to surface, you can stream the new awesomeness via the link below.

Stream: Liars - No. 1 Against The Rush