Tag Archives: Ben Folds

A Healthy Dose of Indie Music… Concerts

Anthony Kiedis of RHCP

For me, spring time means concert time. But for a college student like myself, there’s a very intricate matrix that determines what shows I’m going to see. Most of the time, it boils down to money (if you’re curious the other factors include, but are not limited to, proximity of the concert venue to a Chipotle, likelihood of me badgering the drummer into giving me a drumstick, and how many friends I can convince to come with me).  I’d love to spend $75 dollars to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Radiohead whenever they’re in town, but as much as I love playing “count the tattoos on Anthony Kiedis’ shirtless torso”, it gets a little pricey.

Fortunately, small-time indie bands are much more in my price range. Today hopefully I’ll get you excited about some upcoming concerts through their music videos.

First up: a band that opted for a name on the more unique side, the Freelance Whales. The band is just shy of 2 years old, but already rising quickly with a sold out show at the Bowery Ball room tomorrow night. Here’s their video for their hit, “Generator ^ Second Floor”:

What’s not to like? When have you ever seen a band of Cinco de Mayo skeleton mariachi this cheerful? While “Generator ^ First Floor” is about the beginning of life, and the Second floor, as you may have guessed is its end. As the beautiful chorus implores:

Don’t fix my smile, Life is long enough
We will put this flesh into the ground again.

And the bells and joyful voices in the song and the light-hearted nature help to support this serene view of Death. If you’re bummed about missing them tomorrow, no fear! They’ll be back in town at Webster Hall on May 5th, opening up for the Shout Out Louds.

Next up: Hot Chip, a band from London that will be coming to Terminal 5 on April 22nd and 23rd. Check them out. Here is their video for “And I Was a Boy From School”:

Hot Chip has been hot “ship” lately – touring recently with the XX, and getting scheduled to play at both Coachella out in California and Lollapolooza in Chicago. Overall they’re a pretty low-key lounge-y band, with electronic-laced beats and lyrics that have a tendency to be repeated a lot. Trying to figure out what the game is in this video keeps you entertained however, even if the end result is a little tacky. They’ll also be coming to NYC’s Summerstage this August in Central Park – so you can get those tickets now.

Ok that last one turned out to be a little metaphysical, too. Here’s two bands offering some more upbeat music.

First is the Irish folk-rock duo Guggenheim Grotto. They’ve released two albums now, and have a knack for creating truly artful music. The video for “Her Beautiful Ideas” off of 2009’s Happy the Man, has some whimsically great stop-motion animation. What are her beautiful ideas?

Well, the Guggenheim gentlemen have one idea: Let’s get naked and get under the sheets. Out of context it sounds a little strange sure, but this song is bright and sunny and full of love. Catch the Grotto at The Bowery Electric on June 2nd.

But here’s a song that just about music. The Peak’s been digging this track recently, “Song Away” by Hockey:

The first time I watched this song I didn’t really connect with it – due to some things that the video tried to tell me were true: like white kids from Portland playing craps, or that they found lots of fancy recording equipment in the LA river. But the next few spins (and that hawk!) really got me. Benjamin Gruber, hipster extraordinaire and lead singer of the band has got a voice that sounds unique and classic at the same time. The video blooms with color about two minutes through with vivid blues and oranges, and the $200 dollars of fireworks don’t hurt either. All in all, a fun song that celebrates all aspects of life.

Unfortunately, they’re not coming to NY soon, but they played Bonaroo last year, so there’s a chance that they might show up at All Points West.

If not, hopefully at least one of these artists has whet your appetite for some wholesome indie music. Please comment if you’re going to a hip show soon!

Happy Listening,

~Josh

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Concerts this week:

Ben Folds continues his tour with two more shows tonight and tomorrow at
:: Town Hall!

Blast from the past: Third Eye Blind will be playing at the Wellmont Theatre in
:: Montclair, NJ on Tuesday as well.

And guitar legend Joe Bonamassa will be playing two shows this week, first on
:: the 15th at Town Hall, and then again on the 17th at the Paramount Center for
:: the Arts in Peekskill. Check it out!

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PEAK KEYWORD: FIREWORKS

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Everyone Was Wearing Fingerless Gloves

I can turn off street lamps with my mind. It’s true. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven down a dimly lit street only to have the lights flicker off. But it’s totally subconscious – so if you asked me to do it on command I wouldn’t be able to.

I was telling this fact to a friend and she (obviously) didn’t believe me. She said “Well, you remember better the times when the lights turn off as you drive under them as opposed to when they continue shining. You’re not so special. In any case, I can transform into a dolphin, so there.” OK, I added that last bit, but if what she said is true, then I feel like this memory phenomenon is happening to me again.

The boyishly handsome son of a supermodel, Julian Casablancas

Specifically, I’m seeing Julian Casablancas’ name everywhere. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mr. Casablancas, he is the lead singer of The Strokes – a band that’s been around since 1998. Formed in New York, Casablancas along with school pals Nikolai Fraiture, Fabrizio Moretti, Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr. (who Casablancas met in Switzerland), took the NYC garage scene by storm with the release of their first LP Is This It in 2001.

Here’s a clip of them playing what might be their top hit, “Last Nite”, live – a song so ubiquitous that you might know it without realizing who sings it:

Since the release of that album, The Strokes have release two more albums, Room on Fire and First Impressions of Earth and Is This It has gone on to be named the top album of the decade by NME across the pond.

Here’s a beautifully simple video for another one of their top songs, “Reptilia” off of Room on Fire:

There’s something in his eyes and his voice that is so earnest. He’s certainly not playing to be the adonis-type rock god in this video.

And check out this video for “You Only Live Once” off of First Impressions of Earth, notable for its great concept, raw energy, a sweet jacket worn by Casablancas and the destruction of all the band members’ instruments:

In 2007 the band went on an indefinite hiatus, and Julian went on the advance, releasing his first solo album, Phrazes for the Young, which had a more of an electronic edge than any of The Strokes’ previous works.

But things are looking up for Strokes fans, as the band has been writing and arranging the songs for a new album, tempering ideas from the 70’s with “music from the future“. The album is due to be released this September. In the meantime, they are signed up to headline Lollapalooza in Chicago this summer. On top of that great news Mr. Casablancas recently followed in the footsteps of Norah Jones, T Pain and Justin Timberlake to team up with Saturday Night Live’s Andy Samberg and the rest of The Lonely Island gang. Together they put out this hilarious short about the mystic properties of boomboxes (watch out for some PG-13 content):

You’ve got to love those lyrics:

A boombox can change the world
But you gotta know your limits with a boombox.
And this was a cautionary tale;
A boombox is not a toy!

And as he smashes that vase between his fingerless-gloved hands, you can envision a world where “the music washed away all [of our] hate” and Julian Casablancas rises to the top of the charts once again. Don’t tell me that it’s just a trick of the mind, dolphin girl.

Happy listening!

~Josh

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Concerts this week:

Catch Ben Folds this Friday at the Wellmont Theater in Montclaire, NJ. Show begins at 8 PM.

Also, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists will be coming to the Fillmore NY at Irving Plaza the same night at 9 PM.

Finally, don’t miss out on a treat: Blue October headlining at Webster Hall this Saturday at 7 PM.

Happy hunting!

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PEAK KEYWORD:  FINGERLESS

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Raising Awareness Through Music

Bands and musicians supporting Haiti in crisis

To make sure you didn’t miss out on it, this past Thursday I let you know of a few ways that caring souls in the music community were pitching in to help raise awareness and garner donations for the victims of the recent 7.0 earthquake that occurred just outside of Port Au Prince, the capital of Haiti.

Bands and artists are finding unique ways to urge people to chip in to the relief effort. Music for Relief, a non-profit organization founded by the members of Linkin Park that has raised $3 million dollars since its founding, is currently offering a compilation album for free on its website, urging you to donate after the download. The album features unreleased music by artists such as Peter Gabriel, Alanis Morisette, Linkin Park, The Dave Matthews Band and more. You can check out the full track listing and get more information about Music for Relief on their website by clicking here.

Download “Typical Situation (Live)” by The Dave Matthews Band off of Download to Donate for Haiti – courtesy of Music for Relief

Paste Magazine's Songs for haiti

Paste magazine has set up songsforhaiti.org, where hundreds of artists have donated tracks in an effort to entice more people to donate. The funds raised will be split three ways between Doctors Without BordersRed Cross, and Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund. Artists in the download archive include quite a handful of Peak regulars: Andrew Bird, Ben Folds, Bob Mould, Cowboy Junkies, Indigo Girls, Marc Broussard, Of Montreal, She & Him, The Avett Brothers, Dan Dyer, The Decemberists,  The Jayhawks, The String Cheese Incident, Umphrey’s McGee and many many more.

Paste is aware that this may not be the best way to raise support. In their words:

We don’t think people should donate to the relief efforts in Haiti just to get a reward. But this gives Paste and artists a way to help, using the thing we’re most passionate about—music.

And seeing as they’ve already raised over $100,000 through Songs for Haiti, it has proven to be a smart idea.

Régine Chassange

In the realm of raising awareness, one artist has gone above and beyond normal measures in telling her personal story. Régine Chassange, of The Arcade Fire, wrote a heart-breaking piece for the Guardian the Sunday before last documenting her shock and disbelief as she saw and felt the events of the earthquake unfolded. Régine is one of the founding members of the Montreal band, where she sings vocals and mans the accordion (and the drums and xylophone and piano from time to time). Although she is a citizen in both Canada and the U.S., her family emigrated from Haiti before she was born, and therefore news of the earthquake affected her in ways that those who don’t have relatives there will not be able to understand.

She writes,

I ran downstairs and turned on the television. It was true. Tears came rushing right to my eyes and I let out a cry, as if I had just heard that everybody I love had died. The reality, unfortunately, is much worse. Although everything around me is peaceful, I have been in an internal state of emergency for days. My house is quiet, but I forget to eat (food is tasteless). I forget to sleep. I’m on the phone, on email, non-stop. I’m nearly not moving, but my pulse is still fast. I forget who I talked to and who I told what. I leave the house without my bag, my keys. I cannot rest.

Partners in Health

In her article, she beckons her readers to donate to Partners in Health, saying that PIH is the best relief organization “in terms of thorough medical care, follow-up and combining of parallel necessary services (education, sanitation, training, water, agriculture)”. You can read the full article here.

But for every shining instance of goodwill, there are plenty who pass up opportunities to pitch in. If none of the above relief efforts moved you, here is a list of ways to help support those in need, including a breakdown how each organization uses its resources.

Thank you for doing your part to help those who, at this point in time, can’t help themselves. To quote Régine again we, as humans, are “[i]mpossibly weak, but standing”. And as we look to the horizon in this dark night and broaden our awareness of those in need, we can see the sun begin to spill outward and upward. My thoughts are with Haiti.

~Josh

[PS: If there is a relief organization or effort that you would like to bring to this blog’s attention, please feel free to talk about it in a comment below – thanks!]

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PEAK KEYWORD: HAITI

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