Tag Archives: The xx

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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10 Categories, 10 Albums – 100% Awesome: The 2009 Record of Records

As the holiday season is coming to a close, the last throes of Christmas music are making their way over the airwaves. I heard a whimsical song yesterday called “Merry Christmas Baby, Please Don’t Die” (a joint effort by Crocodile and the Dum Dum Girls) and it put me in a great mood, something good tunes often do. So as you’re ringing in the year, I hope some of these records, and the tunes on them, jangle something in your aorta and make you excited about great world class rock. So here are ten whimsical categories, in no real order, and ten great albums that fit ’em. Ok, enough said. Let’s get started.

10. Peak Pick: Chris Herrmann’s Fav

Album: Wilco (The Album)
Band: Wilco
Why: Ok, so I haven’t talked to Chris on this one, but as the Peak’s Program director, he deserves a spotlight. He’s said to me that he wants to be remembered as the guy who brought Wilco to the Peak. And Jeff Tweedy & Co. are making it easier and easier for him to do that. They’ve come a long way since some of their rawer albums, broadening their sound and reaching a huge audience. This album’s a great step up from their last Sky, Blue Sky – and definitely one to check out from this year.
Starter Tracks: “You Never Know”, “One Wing” and “Wilco (The Song)”

9. Best Sound


Album: The Satanic Satanist
Band: Portugal. The Man
Why: The first track on the album, “People Say”, has got everything you could want from a solid rock song – a great hook, tight guitar, organ, and it only gets better from there. “Work All Day” sinks into a subterranean world of soul. And later on, “Do You” almost outshines the rest of the album with it’s burning intensity. The drum and guitar tracks and the vocals and well, pretty much everything sounds great on this album.
Starter Tracks: “Work All Day”, “Do You” and “The Sun”

8. Greatest Expectations

Album: Them Crooked Vultures
Band: Them Crooked Vultures
Why: With great names comes great responsibility. And few names hold star power like John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl, and Josh Homme do. That being said almost everyone who was waiting for the release of this record held almost impossibly high hopes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great record, but people were going to be disappointed if it fell anywhere short of Led Zeppelin II or Nevermind. But a sick record nonetheless, that finds a great rock ‘n’ roll groove and holds it’s own from start to finish.
Starter Tracks: Three great songs in a row: “Elephants”, “Scumbag Blues” and “Bandoliers”

7. Funnest

Album: I Think We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat
Band: The Brighton Port Authority (The BPA)
Why: Yes. You, me and everyone knows that “funnest” is not a word (and OK, “You, everyone and I”). But there’s not a better way to describe this Fatboy Slim project. With each song on the album featuring a different artist, this record is fun times from start to finish. Sure some of the songs may not be “good” (see psych pop singer Connan Mockasin’s track “Jumps the Fence” – mostly because he sings the same seven words for a whole minute) but all are poppy and catchy and most importantly fun to listen to.
Starter Tracks: “He’s Frank” (feat. Iggy Pop), “Toe Jam” (feat. David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal) and “Seattle” (feat. Emmy the Great)

6. Smallest Size, Biggest Punch

Album: Our Living Funeral
Band: Zombie Season
Why: The resurgence of Lo-Fi + An inventive take on the Arcade Fire’s sound + zombies = the essence of awesomeness. Zombie Season is a small, nearly unheard of band (compare Zombie Season’s 14,400 views on MySpace to Coldplay’s 34 million, Aimee Mann’s 1.4 Million or even Black Taxi’s 120,000). ZS was created only last year by Ali Jafaar out of the University of Minnesota. But don’t mess with them just because they’re small. They’ve got a powerfully dark sound, and a solid two records out. Our Living Funeral is a great follow-up to their 2008 EP, “Life is Tragic”. So they’re definitely worth a listen.

Starter Tracks: “Evil Heart” off of Our Living Funeral and “Slow Out” and “Heart Attack” off of “Life is Tragic”

5. Most Over-the-Top

Album: The Resistance
Band: Muse
Why: For most people who’ve heard this album, this one is pretty self explanatory. For those who haven’t, I think their over-the-topness can be best portrayed by a walkthrough of their song, “I Belong to You (+ Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix)”. So, 0:00 to 0:13 – poppy piano and sensuous crooning from Matt Bellamy. 0:14 – cue the full chorus and bell tree. 0:22 – a full showtunes-y glissando on the piano leads into the first verse. 2:08 – the song fades into an aria from the French opera, Samson and Delilah, sung in full voice by Bellamy 3:13 – the drums come back in and an orchestra joins the chorus as Bellamy’s voice spirals upwards. 4:35 – the glissando marks the return to the main song with a bouncy bass clarinet solo. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. The first time I heard that part I laughed out loud. Only Muse could pull it off, and only Muse deserves this category.

Starter Tracks: “I Belong to You (+ Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix)”, “Uprising” and “Exogenisis: Symphony, Pts. 1-3”

4. Indiest

Album: THREE WAY TIE: Veckatimest, Merriweather Post Pavillion, and xx
Bands: Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, and The xx respectively
Why: This year, Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective have dominated indie charts and minds. Stereogum ran an article back in January pre-empting Merriweather Post Pavillion as the best album of 2009, and Veckatimest has been hot on the trail ever since its May release. But the sleeper here is the London-based group, The xx, a band so cool that they don’t need to move in their music videos. Their first record, xx, placed above both other bands on Rolling Stone’s 25 Best Albums of 2009, reaching the 8th spot. Take a listen, and you’ll be drawn in by the quiet intensity held in every pause in their lyrics.
Starter Tracks: Grizzly Bear’s “Two Weeks”, Animal Collective’s “My Girls”, and The xx’s “Crystalised”

3. Most Innovative

Album: Agressively Humble
Band: Chll Pll
Why: “I’ve never experienced a man like you.” “That’s because I’m not a man I’m a [blowing noise that sounds like a rainbow]”. This is how Chll Pll (formed by Zac Nelson of Hexlove and Zach Hill of Wavves), starts off their debut album, Aggressively Humble. But there’s not a lot of humility to be found here. The album is subtitled “Ten Rips by Chll Pll”, which is certainly more accurate. The Zac(h)s tear their way through distortion, polyrhythms, and plenty of electronic effects. It’s out there for sure, but that’s no reason to not embrace a band that’s too cool even for vowels.
Starter Tracks: “Dick Moves”, “She Owns”, “Pass Out”

2. NY’s Best Backyard Album

Album: Things of That Nature
Band: Black Taxi
Why: ’nuff said.
Starter Tracks: “Up Here For Thinking, Down There For Dancing”, “Pretty Mama” and “Shoeshine”

1. Most Likely to Be Compared to a Meteor: 2009’s Record of Records

Album: Wolfgang Amadeus
Band: Phoenix
Why: A few reasons. First: just months after Wolfgang Amadeus was released, a remixes album was put out. Second: artists who contributed this remix album include Animal Collective, Chairlift, and Passion Pit. Third: It is Time Magazine’s 5th best album of the year, Rolling Stone’s 3rd, and it generally placed between 10 and 1 on other charts, usually on the 1 side of the spectrum. Now, I’m not a huge phoenix fan (disclosure: on their track, “1901” I thought the hook  was “balling” instead of “falling” but it makes much more sense now) but I can appreciate catchy music when I hear it. And they’re the first French band to click over here in a long time. So when I watch ticket prices for their sold-out shows rising steadily, I can tell you that next year is only going to be better and bigger for this band.

Starter Tracks: “1901”, “Lisztomania” and “Love Like a Sunset Pts. 1 & 2”

So that just about wraps up this decade. As always, check back here for news about bands, records and of course, the station bringing you World Class Rock, 107.1 The Peak. Have a safe and happy new year.

Best,

~Josh

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PEAK KEYWORD: 2010

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