Friday, December 24, 2010

Your Alt Christmas

It's that time of year. The time of year where no matter where you go, the FUCKING EXACT SAME Christmas songs are playing on a constant loop out of the really bad loud speakers that hang over you. You can't escape and eventually they start playing in your mind like tribal drums, and you half wish you saw your head open just to let the evil tunes leave your mind. Fear not, for although it may seem incredibly unlikely, many wonderful indie bands have managed to create memorable tunes that match the holiday times. And while I don't actually celebrate the holiday, I can appreciate the sentiment and songs all the same.

First in crafting wonderful holiday tunes is my beloved Los Campesinos! This is a band in my mind that can do absolutely no wrong, and this tune proves me right. "Kindle a Flame In Heart" is a the perfect example of what a Christmas pop tune should be, with a winter vibe, nostalgia lyrics of days past, and a stellar showcase of the band's new vocalist Kim. I would kill for this to become an actual holiday staple. As an added bonus, the band also craft a second holiday tune, "The Holly and Ivy" for those who subscribed to their incredibly awesome new zine Heat Rash, that included digital hymn sheets and art by Rob (Sparky Deathcap) Campesino! Now that's fan service.

Kindle A Flame In Her Heart by Los Campesinos!

My newest love, Parenthetical Girl, are no strangers to Christmas time songs as they have been releasing a steady stream of original and cover tunes in the forms of singles for years now. Recently, they decided to bring all the lose ends together and have released a digital compilation of all their Christmas tunes through their bandcamp. It is a nice balancing act, bringing attention to both the joy and pains of the season. Also, on a small side note, band member Zac Pennington has put together two Christmas mixes from his apparently extensive Christmas music collection over at the Parenthetical Girl's website.

Christmas time is also another chance to bring up my personal heroes Nosferatu D2 and their anti Christmas tune "It's Christmas Time (for God's Sake)". Well, it's less anti Christmas and more a realization of the pain the holiday tends to create for some people. It's heartbreaking, emotional, and point blank why I love this band. No wonder they decided to end their album on this note.

(mp3) Nosferatu D2-It's Christmas Time (For God's Sake)

I'm starting to release I have tendency to draw more closely to the depressing Christmas songs that seem to be crafted. Though I don't think the new Crystal Stilts Christmas song "Practically Immaculate" is actually suppose to be a sad Christmas song. Chances are it's just do front man Brad Hargett's monotonic voice that adds to the tone of the song. On the upside, cool Christmas style organ!

(mp3) Crystal Stilts-Practically Immaculate

And finally, a bit of an oldie from Oklahoma's favorite nut jobs, The Flaming Lips. Before the band decided to bless the holiday season with the LSD and drug induced surrealist film Christmas on Mars, the band actually crafted one of their best and underrated psych pop tunes "Christmas at the Zoo". The song of course being about what else...the band freeing all the animals at the zoo! OK, yes it is a bit silly, but would you rather hear this, or "Grandma Was Run Over by a Reindeer" for the one millionth time? I thought so.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fun Fun Fun Fest '10: Day 3 (Part 2)


For music festivals like this, there is a small fenced off area where all the press people get to go and take pictures of the bands, and inside said pit are people the festivals that are there to make sure no one charges at the stage or the press people linger too long and block the view for everyone else. And said security, while thankfully this time not from an official company and in turn much nicer and not complete dicks, tend to grow very bored due to being forced to listen a bunch of bands they don't like and deal wither said band's fans as well. Well during my time at Fun Fun Fun Fest there were two bands that not only brought a smile to the security's face, but got them excited as well; the almighty Descendents and the criminally unattended Polvo. And when Polvo can make the jaded security people excited, you know they are putting on a good show, reunion band or not. Not to mention they were the only non-headliner band to get to play an encore. 'Nuff said.


OK, I'm going with Deerhunter as the band that put out the best performance I saw at this year's Fest. Was it the smoke machine that for once actually helped create the atmosphere the band was aiming for? Was it the lights the band put on stage that matched the same lights every other person doing drugs at this show was seeing in their head? Was it the fact that band was so incredibly tight, that every ounce of acclaim heaped on them (and in turn the backlash to that, and the backlash to the backlash) became justified about three songs in? Was it knowing how incredibly fucking cool "Helicopter" is as a set closer? All I know is everything I said about Atlas Sound last year was nothing compared to this set.

(First two pictures taken by Jacob Biggie)

The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady's set was a bit of a mixed bag. On one end, they only wound up only playing 40 minutes, and for big bands like this that seemed for what ever strange reason like a rip off. But to be completely fair to the band, for those 40 minutes they were on stage, they were on fire. For a bunch of almost forty year olds, they played with more vigour than people half their age. "Stuck Between Stations" and "Hurricane J" have so much more to them when their being sung together with a couple thousand other people with the same joy and beer in hand. And while probably not the best set of the night, I'll take seeing the best bar band in the United States anytime I can.


I'm so glad Devo had to cancel. Sorry, but that was what everyone was thinking as they saw the Descendents live. Well probably, if they had a chance to think. See, seeing the Descendents live was, how to put it, a bit bat shit insane. The crowd at the Orange Stage was probably the biggest it had been at the whole festival, it at least seemed like half of the attendance was at this stage. Add to the fact that the fact a good 25 percent of the crowd lost all sense of being a hipster and started moshing more violently than most of the sets at the Black Stage. Oh and the ground was pure dust by this time and the in between cheers also were in between hacks and coughs. Was it work it. YES! For as much shit as punk bands get for reuniting and being old, the Descendents were so good that Sunday night I could not think of a better band to end the three massive days of music and madness. Sing it with me: "ALL!"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fun Fun Fun Fest '10: Day 3 (Part 1)

Magic Kids

My, how the kids have grown. Hard to believe this was the same band I saw just 7 months ago. Magic Kids have grown by leaps and bounds and have become a tightly wound pop group if I've ever seen it. Their nostalgia and Beach Boys infused pop songs were truly brought in full form when they performed on that sunny Sunday morning. How could I have wanted my day to start then singing along to "Hey Boy", with the other 50 people that were standing idly by watching with vague disinterest. For those who loved the band though, it was pure joy.


Future reference point; never be front row at the next Deacon show. Any thing Deacon is trying to convey musically gets lost in amp circuitry and winds up being lost in a big static and annoying mess. I think Deacon had the same problem that Panda Bear has seemed to have in the live setting i.e. just standing there and doing nothing. The whole set had highs and lows, and there without a doubt some bright spots, but as a whole it kind of felt like Deacon was recreating music loops live, just strumming and moaning out the songs.


It was a bit weird catching the Cults set. How was band that had only put out one official single, just signed to a major label, and barely toured manage to put on a good show? Well they did, and it's a simple as that. The five piece that took the stage was a fully formed band that performed a blissed out set of the supremely wonderful indie-pop that took the Internet by storm just a few months ago. And while the set was plagued with glockenspiel based problems during the set, Cults still manged to performe a spot on set for a band so young. Now if only the put out some more music.

Best Coast

And now we are back just where we started. It is slowing on dawning on me how much of the last day of FFF Fest's last day was built on pop bands. Look no further then the current reigning queen of indie-pop Bethany Cosentino and her band Best Coast taking the stage this year. Talking about this band gets harder and harder, due to the various adjectives I have used up already to describe the. This time though, I can say Best Coast set was made up of them reconstructing their songs as closely note for note as they do on record, and for once this was good thing. No feedback, no scared voices, no problems arose that ruined the set in any shape. It was just 45 minutes of indie-pop live, played by three people who do it perfectly, with cigarette and pot smoke filling the air after every song.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Campfires-Chasing Planets

How in the world did I miss this one? Despite constant blog browsing, I still somehow managed to miss a brand new Campfires track being released onto the world! Well allow me to correct the situation. What is delivered with "Chasing Planets" is a new layered to the mind of band leader Jeff Walls. Probably the longest track the band has ever delivered, it signifies the band momentarily taking a step back from the heavy post-psychedelia influenced pop tracks he was previously serving up, but instead just diving in and giving the world a nice little fuzz ball of a song. It is rumored to be off his upcoming debut album next year, and needless to say, another reason why 2011 will be another incredible year for music.

(mp3) Campfires-Chasing Planets (via The Road Goes Ever On)


Campfires' Website

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Total Control Go Crazy, Boomgates Just Rock The World

OK, so depending on how you look at it, it is getting harder and harder to keep track of all the very stellar bands that seem to be pouring out of Australia these days. This mostly isn't helped by the fact everyone appears to be playing in each others band at the same time either, but I digress. Well, Total Control can now be added to the list of outstanding Aussie bands. Featuring members of post-punk nutters UV Race and punk-garage maestros Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control is decidedly different direction from either band. Based around a desire to to make more synth heavy project. Their first single was a complete wonder in it's misdirection, coming off as a even more manic Lost Sounds. Everything shoved into four super short songs that like the world's best fuck up. Obviously, the band decided to refine their sound to what they wanted it to be, the result being the new 2 song "Paranoid Video" 7 inch. A listen to the title track gives you the new style shift to something much slower, with a love of Eno and Devo is really pronounced while still containing the same dark edge that made their debut 7" so appealing.

Boomgates are another side of Australian punk/garage scene, this time featuring members of Golden Staph andThe Twerps, along with having the wonderful Brendon of Eddy Current Suppression Ring singing/yelping the tunes. Boomgates' have a solid ECSR quality to their sound without a doubt, no doubt due to Brendon's contributions to the band. However, Boomgates is a band that obviously is more based on friends getting together, jamming, and having fun then the serious quality that inhabits most of ECSR's songs. Boomgates' single is completely exceptional and something to seriously put next to your ever expanding Australian record collection. One listen to "Bright Idea" is all that is needed to understand why this band is so great.


Both 7 inches are being brought to the US thanks to the folks over at Smart Guy Records. Recommend purchase of these wax disc is quickly, because both Total Control records have sold out in the past, and the newest one was just repressed on colored vinyl.


Boomgates on Myspace
Buy both 7" here, from Smart Guy Records

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fun Fun Fun Fest '10: Day 2 (Part 2)

The Gories

Truth be told, I think The Gories' set was probably the I was most excited about for the entire Fun Fun Fun Fest. I have a serious soft spot for garage, and who more so then anyone else managed to craft some of the best garage records around then The Gories? It was truth from the moment the band set foot on the stage and the band launched into their anthem "Hey Hey, We're The Gories". For the misinformed it looked as if this band had been doing this for years, never losing a step and playing so in time and so well it was like watching a well oiled machine. Yes, all the band members have been performing in other bands for years, but this was something to be seen. The way Mick Collins and Dan Kroha played off of each other, you wounder why they ever broke up in the first place. They were alive in their performance, more so then any other band. Long live The Gories!

Cap'n Jazz

This year's FFF Fest will probably be looked back on the "reunion one". Sleep, The Gories, The Descendants, all wound up playing on these various stages. However, I can say the one reunion set the most people were excited for was Cap'n Jazz. Never mind the legion of crappy bands and scenes that were produced due to everyone trying to copy their sound and in turn bastardized it. Cap'n Jazz were everything honest and showcased on their album. I know everything has been made of front man Tim Kinsella's performance, but it was something to be seen. Kids half his age don't performance as well as he did. Screaming and conveying every single piece of emotion from "Little League" to stand out "Oh Messy Life", diving into the crowd, playing a heart breaking french horn to add to atmosphere, and packing so much into everything they he did it was incredible. Summed up by the man who screamed he had been waiting 15 years for this show, it was everything reunion set should be.

Dirty Projectors

Dirty Projectors are infinitely better live then on record. There, I said it. I was never able to get into Bitte Orca last year, no matter how hard I tried or how much of a Talking Heads fan I am. But are seeing them live, I am easily prepared to buy every single one of their album and give them a spin. That's because instantly everything artistic the band tries to convey on record came alive on their show. The disjointed and wild guitar riffs; the quirky singing styles of every band member; the completely left-of-center song arrangements all came together in this show. Not to mention the vocal back flips the sirens that pretended to be female singers were pulling off was slightly mind blowing. Not to mention hearing "Knotty Pine" performed live by the band was nothing but completely sublime.

Bad Religion

Due to the massive crowds that surrounded the orange stage to try to capture a glimpse of MGMT's set, I decided to for go the obvious and see Bad Religion. Things did not get off to a good start as the band wound up taking something close to 30 minutes to do a sound check for a punk band. Thankfully, when all that was done the band stormed on stage and performed a hard, heavy, and furious one hour set. While every band member unfortunately looked their age, they sure as hell didn't show it. Playing at a break neck pace that never did let up, the band blasted through the their repertoire, while concentration on their newish material, did not hesitate to dive deep into their catalog. The crowd was just happy the band was playing at all, screaming, singing a long, and just going insane to the entire set. When "Infected" came barreling out, everyone who was crowd surfing or moshing was singing a long to the song, just like it was 1982.