• Setlist: David Byrne - 9/18/08 - Ferguson Center for the Arts

    19. Sep. 2008, 2:26

    1. Strange Overtones
    2. I Zimbra
    3. One Fine Day
    4. Help Me Somebody
    5. Houses in Motion
    6. My Big Nurse
    7. Fall Through the Cracks
    8. Heaven
    9. Home
    10. The River
    11. Crosseyed and Painless
    12. Life is Long
    13. Once in a Lifetime
    14. Life During Wartime
    15. Feel My Stuff

    E1a: Take Me To the River
    E1b: The Great Curve

    E2: Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

    QUICK REVIEW: David Byrne and his backup band were amazing, and the degree to which depended on the source material. There were three dancers that acted like robots, jumped over David, and more. Everyone on stage wore white.

    David ByrneBrian Eno & David ByrneEverything That Happens Will Happen TodayBrian EnoTalking Heads
  • Review - The Stand Ins

    6. Aug. 2008, 22:43

    [NOTE: THIS IS BASED ON A PROMOTIONAL COPY THAT I FOUND IN THE USED SECTION AT A RECORD STORE.]

    On Saturday, I walked into Plan 9 in Richmond with some friends after scarfing some rice bowl thing at Sticky Rice and I was immediately greeted with a $3 copy of XTC's Drums And Wires on vinyl.

    I wonder if I scared anybody.

    After about fifteen minutes of everyone rummaging through the stock and finding something, I was growing frustrated because I couldn't decide on anything. And for kicks, I dove my hand into the "O" section of the used rock CDs. And lo, there was an Okkervil River album! But... hold the phone...! It's... The Stand Ins? That... doesn't come out for another month... holy shit. Holy Shit. HEY GUY STANDING NEXT TO ME, HOLY SHIT.

    I wonder if I scared anybody.

    Well... turns out that all that holy shitting was worth it. The Stand Ins is Okkervil's best album. All of the sudden, they have energy that only shone through on about two tracks per album. Their quiet songs are still quite moving and beautiful, but "Singer Songwriter." Jesus.

    And what the fuck. "Pop Lie," the only pop song that Will Sheff will ever write, is fucking fantastic, even as he blasts pop musicians as liars and those that sing along with them are liars, too.

    For some reason, I actually understand the lyrics, unlike 2007's The Stage Names, which also serves as the prequel to The Stand Ins' sequel. That album also feels extraordinarily formulaic, as if the music didn't matter at all, as long as Sheff is spouting too-poetic-to-really-understand-unless-you-are-Okkervil-River lyrics. The Stand Ins finds Sheff writing as stand ins, rather than the headliners and road-weary bands. In other words, the lay-men of the music world.

    It's bizarre enough that Okkervil River is playing as a stand-in, because they have never sounded this energetic. The band has returned to sounding organic, like on Down the River of Golden Dreams, but they work together much more powerfully than anything before. They even seem to be having more fun, especially when they aren't constrained by Sheff's theatrics (Black Sheep Boy, The Stage Names).

    Sheff hasn't lost his thrill for the music theatre, however, and that's just fine. What he seems to have done is finally find the happy medium between art and fun. Tight and loose. Serious and raucous.

    As my more musically-inclined friend points out, Sheff's B-string is off on "Singer Songwriter." But how would he, his band, the recording staff, and others not catch that if it weren't intentional? Given the theme of the song - songwriters that, alas, cannot pull from their boring, wealthy, tasteful lives and won't make a difference (perhaps autobiographical?) - and lines like "And this thing you once did might have dazzled the kids, but the kids, once grown up, are going to walk away." signal that this badly tuned string is a a clever device. Oh, the song sounds nice (it's fantastic), but something is wrong, making it ultimately flawed.

    Both the Stage Names and the Stand Ins are flawed, but it's for purely artistic reasons. But those flaws make for better music on the whole on the latter. Both albums feature a song written about Shannon Wilsey (better know as the porn star Savannah), and both are rather sexual musically and lyrically (obviously, considering the subject). However, "Savannah Smiles" (from Stage Names), is from her parents' point of view and "Starry Stairs" is from a fan's. It may merely be personal preference, but I prefer the sexy guitar and horns of "Starry Stairs" over the cute mobile chirps.

    And really, that's really what it may come down, to - personal preference. But maybe, for once, it's the stand-ins that should be in the spotlight.

    Five stars out of five.
  • Spoon, Live at the Norva

    13. Apr. 2008, 5:46

    Sat 12 Apr – Spoon, The Walkmen, White Rabbits



    The trip to the Norva itself was exciting. As we passed the Hampton Coliseum, we here a loud "POP!" as if a tire exploded or something. As we emerged from the tunnel, the seagulls sprayed us. As we got into the mall, my friend told me about the time she tackled a guy in a Hello Kitty costume.

    What was most depressing is that photography was banned, so I wasn't able to take anything. There were camera phones and iPhones around the crowd, but real ones were barred. Who knows why. Who knows why the event was sponsored by Rockstar Energy Drinks™ and Camel™. Honestly, there were logos all over the entire venue and a tall blonde greeted me with a nice "hello" as I walked in to their odd setup.

    The show itself, however, was awesome. The crowd was not, save for "devil horns girl" on the second floor and my friend who got a bit crazy. White Rabbits were pretty good, but from what I had heard, they sounded watered down from the album version. The Walkmen had an amazing vocalist and some very hypnotic songs, but a few of them fell a bit flat. They played a brand new song for us, but I can't remember the name at the moment (Something with an F? Fleet? Foxes? Not that, that's a band.).

    Once Spoon took the stage, things got a lot better. The sound was much cleaner than the other two and the funk came through on the Ga Ga tracks. Underdog was played with an electric guitar, but that was the only major difference. The problem for me, by the time the encore rolled around, was that a lot of their pre-Ga Ga began to sound the same. Not that I'm complaining.

    My friend also managed to meet the lead singer by telling the security guard that she "saw a friend that she wanted to meet." Lucky. He signed her ticket and everything, but she kind of froze up about asking hard questions or getting a picture with him. I grabbed a setlist, though.

    Overall, it was a great night. The crowd was a bit stale, but everybody had a good time, especially the girls on the second floor.

    [I apologize. I wrote this in about five minutes as soon as I got back so that I could get it all out.]
  • Challengers - Review and Discussion Times!

    21. Aug. 2007, 4:06

    So Pitchfork stamps the album with a 6.0 and kicks dirt on top of my $30 preorder (plus poster!), and other The New Pornographers fans seem unapologetic in agreement. I don't get these people. Challengers is the only album of the band's that I can listen to all the way through. Heck, Electric Version's songs all sounded exactly the same until about five more listens. Now it's only about four of the songs that bear any repeating for me.

    Don't get me wrong - I love the energetic stuff. I've played Twin Cinema, The Laws Have Changed, and others at least 50 times, but the rest of the album is filled with what seems to be either filler or just... boring songs, like Three or Four.

    Challengers just seems to have slowed down the band just so that they can really dig in with more poignant hooks than an engulfing rush of ecstasy. Look at the title track. Challengers is calm, quiet, and absolutely beautiful. Sure, Dan sounds goofy on The Spirit Of Giving, but it's one of their best songs, ever.

    Now to Pitchfork:

    The Pornographers have dallied with this sound-- "The Bones of an Idol," for instance-- but only as contrast betwixt the power-pop sugar-highs. Now those up-beat moments are themselves the contrast, rather than the focus, and Challengers sags because of it.

    In layman's terms, "because it's not their energetic pop music, it's bad." Oh boo hoo, their music is different. Look at XTC or Talking Heads or The Beatles. Their music changed radically over their careers and yet More Songs About Buildings and Food gets high marks along with Remain in Light. Fans find the goodness in both albums. Just because you love The Beatles' pop songs about love and girlfriends and love and love doesn't mean that epics like I Am the Walrus are far too different, and thus, bad. So what if you don't like it? It doesn't make it bad music.

    Challengers isn't perfect, but it's damn good. Four-and-a-half stars.
  • TMBG Rock the House.

    9. Mai. 2007, 8:09

    Tue 8 May – They Might Be Giants, Nighttime Gallagher

    "Welcome to New York City."

    THE SHOW TONIGHT WAS SO AWESOME. Well, not until TMBG took the stage. I had gotten a ride by my friend Joe's friends to Starr Hill and we met up with more of his friends there. When we got in, we walked over to the merch table to see some t-shirts, CDs, and random merch that was really of no interest to me (nothing I hadn't seen before, really).

    We clambered near the stage; it's a small room and I was only a few feet away from the band. Some dude was on the stage, whom I thought was performing a sound check or something. Time passed and the guy remained. The show was supposed to start at 9, and it was 9:30. The bearded guy on the stage picks up the mic and tells us that he likes the sound. I realize that this guy is not a sound guy at all: he's the opening act. Nighttime Gallagher was pretty much a bad DJ. He played two records over each other for an interesting song, but mostly, it just sounded like the music the venue plays before the show starts. The only highlights were when he played TMBG's "Kiss Me, Son of God" and when another record played with ducks quacking along.

    Soon, TMBG took the stage and kicked things off with "Starr Hill Music Hall," their song about the venue from their "Venue Songs" project. Flans said that we'd be trapped by forcing us to listen to songs we've never heard before. The band would also rescind us with a few older songs, but, it was also rescind that and imprison us within the venue with its new, unfamiliar songs. The first of these trappings were "I'm Impressed" and "Take Out the Trash," both of which make me extremely excited for "The Else." They also played "Stone Pony" (a venue song) and then another new song, "The Cap'm," another one of John Linnell's silly but morbidly depressing songs.

    Linnell then took out his accordion that was his "Main Squeeze" and played "Turn Around" and "Meet James Ensor." A lovely "Birdhouse" led into the new song "The Shadow Government" (the political overtons of which I haven't yet figured out, but it's predictably by Flans). The band then made a "Phone Call to the Graveyard" and ended up calling Sally Hemings, who was voiced by the keyboard's synth trumpet. The band then played through several goodies and newies (Dan Miller's acoustic intro to "Istanbul," "We Live in a Dump") until they left the stage with "The Mesopotamians."

    The entire hall shook with applause and TMBG took the stage again with a wonderful "Don't Let's Start," followed by an introduction of the band. Dan Miller then started scat singing into "Spy." Flans: "His bones are made of jive."The improvised bit of "Spy" saw Linnell directing the band and then the audience into whooping on time. "Why Does the Sun Shine?" came next, and Flans changed the lyrics:

    Scientists have found that the sun is a huge atom-smashing machine.
    The heat and light of the sun come from the "nuke-ular" reactions of
    a failed presidency, a failed domestic policy, and a failed foreign policy.


    And the band left the stage and soon came back for a second (and planned) encore. Flans led the audience into swaying and singing along to "Drink!" ("drink drink"). Dan Miller took over the keyboard and TMBG performed the only "Here Come the ABCs" song of the night, "Alphabet of Nations." After that, Flans spoke to the audience, and one member held a twenty dollar bill up in the air to him, I guess to hold his hand or to get a song played or something. He took the bill and said, "it's a twenty dollar bill. Uh, thank you." He stuffed it into his pocket and then told the confused guy "welcome to New York City." The band then finished with the extremely well-received "Dr. Worm." I snagged a setlist, grabbed a bottle of water, and walked out of my first TMBG show, which was simply amazing. I'm extremely excited for "The Else." It'll be out on iTunes on May 15th. Pics on the event page.
  • One of those music things.

    2. Mai. 2007, 22:48

    Name your top 10 most played bands on Last.fm:

    1. The Beatles
    2. XTC
    3. Talking Heads
    4. They Might Be Giants
    5. John Lennon
    6. Franz Ferdinand
    7. Pink Floyd
    8. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
    9. Cornelius
    10. Modest Mouse

    Now answer the questions according to the numbers:

    What was the first song you ever heard by 6?
    Take Me Out.

    What is your favorite album of 2?
    Black Sea.

    What is your favorite lyric that 5 has sung?
    Pretty much all of Imagine.

    How many times have you seen 4 live?
    I will for the first time at the May 8th show!

    What is your favorite song by 7?
    Probably Sheep or Echoes.

    What is a good memory you have involving the music of 10?
    I got my friend Kelly into good music with these guys.

    Is there a song of 3 that makes you sad?
    Sax and Violins or This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) are just so beautiful.

    What is your favorite lyric that 2 has sung?
    This is your life and you do what you want to do,
    This is your life and you spend it all.
    This is your life and you do what you want to do,
    Just don't hurt nobody,
    'Less of course they ask you,
    In the Garden of Earthly Delights


    It's like Andy knew my philosophy on life... and I had just been born.

    What is your favorite song by 9?
    Pegging a single song for Cornelius is hard, but I'll go with Music.

    How did you get into 3?
    I kept hearing about their influence on my high school fave They Might Be Giants, so I checked them out. I loved their music, suffice to say.

    What was the first song you heard by 1?
    Oh, so many memories... maybe I Want to Hold Your Hand, Blackbird, I really have no idea.

    What is your favorite song by 4?
    Mm, probably Youth Culture Killed My Dog.

    How many times have you seen 9 live?
    I'm going to see TMBG instead of seeing Cornelius. The thing is that TMBG is in Virginia and Cornelius is in Baltimore. Just a tad further...

    What is a good memory you have involving 2?
    Basically, realizing how ingenious these guys were and still are when I play a song.

    Is there a song of 8 that makes you sad?
    Nah, CYHSY isn't that sort of music.

    What is your favorite album of 5?
    Plastic Ono Band, bar none.

    What is your favorite song of 1?
    Making me choose? Probably I Am the Walrus.

    What is your favorite song of 10?
    Lives.

    How many times have you seen 8 live?
    None.

    What is your favorite album of 1?
    Oh... Revolver.

    What is a great memory you have considering 9?
    Just feeling fun, free, and having the summer breeze in the air. Yeah, I'm like that.

    What was the first song you heard by 8?
    I think Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away was first on the band's site under the free MP3s...

    What is your favorite cover by 2?
    Cover song? They didn't do too many, and I haven't heard their version of All Along the Watchtower. If it's an album cover, then... Go 2 and maybe Black Sea.
  • Listen to concerts for free!

    28. Mär. 2007, 20:15

    http://concerts.wolfgangsvault.com

    This guy's recorded a ton of classic rock concerts... he's got a Talking Heads show from May 31, 1977 (before 77 even came out!), a 1970 Pink Floyd show, a ton of Grateful Dead ones, and more. It's wild. To sign up, all you need is an email, a password, and your name, nothing more, and it's free.
  • CONTROVERSIAL OPINION!

    7. Mär. 2007, 6:18

    Neon Bible - Released March 6, 2007

    I'm going to disagree with most everyone by saying that Neon Bible is much better than Funeral. Yes. Looking back, Funeral feels empty, almost missing something. Neon Bible reaches out with a suffocating sound that wraps you into its descent into adulthood. Win Butler sounds much more confident on this album as he storms through most of the tracks. Régine Chassagne is becomes less strained (I could never enjoy In the Backseat that much) and more melodic.

    Black Mirror kicks the album off with chaotic, apocalyptic strings, even as Win lamely sings "mirror mirror on the wall..." Keep the Car Running is bound to be the next single, and maybe (Antichrist Television Blues), which brings forth Bruce Springsteen into the picture. It's one of the better tracks, evoking the same dance-ability that Rebellion (Lies) had on the first disc. Contributions by Owen Pallet of Final Fantasy fame really bring the sound to a grander scale.

    The weaknesses? Few. Neon Bible will probably be cited here, but I really enjoy it. It's a bit short, both on time and lyrics, but it's highly enjoyable. The only time is droops is when the music slows down, but it's a graceful slow, and really shouldn't be knocked.

    Overall, I love the new album, and I've listened to it 4 times today already. It's a trip, and for $9.99 at Best Buy (or $11.99 for the deluxe edition with flipbooks), it's not going to ruin you financially (unless you're a poor college study with no job). I just wish that I could see these guys in DC in May... damn college exams.
  • Pandora + Last.fm

    2. Dez. 2006, 2:10

  • Oh yeah, birthday!

    18. Jul. 2006, 4:01

    #18! And the first song of the day? Birthday.

    I could get some irony with It's Not My Birthday, too. ;)