Archive for August, 2010

Recommending Ra Ra Riot, !!! (Chk Chk Chk), Fitz & Tantrums

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

New Ra Ra Riot album will establish them as big-leaguers

Ra Ra RiotThe Orchard…After a promising debut in 2008, this band seemed in danger of getting lost in the “short attention-span shuffle”, but they’ve emerged with a stellar sophomore outing.   It has a clean sound with pretty melodies and crisp vocals.  Classically influenced strings permeate throughout.  If you sense a Vampire Weekend influence, it’s at least somwhat due to VW’s Rostam having collaborated with RRR, and he produced the track “Do You Remember”.  I also recommend “Boy”, “The Orchard”, and “Too Dramatic”.

!!!StrangeWeather, Isn’t It?…These Brooklyn peeps traveled to Berlin to record their fourth album.  Their mid-tempo funky vibe remains, and the focus is on consistent grooves and texture.  It isn’t too melodic, but the overall feel really works.  More accessible tracks include my favorite “AM/FM” as well as “Heart of Hearts”.

Fitz & the TantrumsFitz & the Tantrums…This LA band has been playing locally and gaining tastemaker approval over the past few months.  Fitz blends a punk feel with blue-eyed retro soul.  While the album leans closer to pop than to rock, this dude can sing and I’m really liking the backing tracks.  The entire album is compelling.  On “Dear Mr. President”, they have some coaching for Obama.  My faves are “Breakin’ the Chains of Love”, “MoneyGrabber”, and “Don’t Gotta Work It Out”.

Recent late night TV faves since June 1

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Not as many highlights as usual since TV is in summer reruns, but check these out.

Letterman: Interpol, Dead Weather

Fallon: Spoon

Kimmel: 3OH!3

John Stewart: Arcade Fire

Live: Empire Of the Sun, Joy Formidable, Answering Machine, Midnight Juggernauts

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Empire Of the Sun just might be hitting arenas in a few years

If you only know Empire Of the Sun for their studio work, you may be stunned by the band’s ambitious live show.  More than a gig, it’s a full-on production with lighting, costumes, uniquely choreographed dancers that are hard to explain in a short space, and of course music which is played to a T.  When they have more material to draw from, the band can become arena-level.  They have almost a Muse-like intensity and the visuals are brilliant.  Word is spreading, and Empire had to play 4 shows this week at the Henry Fonda. The crowd loved it and the pre-show anticipation in the club was the highest I’ve seen an awhile.  

UK buzzband The Joy Formidable rocked Silver Lake’s Bootleg Theatre. The raw guitar-oriented 3-piece is fronted by Ritzy Bryan, who handles the guitar along with her lead vocals.  She’s got the goods and the band delivers live.  They’ve got cool songs in “Whirring” and “Poppinjay” and could use a couple more to help seal the deal.  Speaking of deals, they are signed in both the UK and US.  This is a rare Brit band that is becoming established in both countries at about the same time.

Manchester group The Answering Machine played at The Echo here in L.A.  Their “Oh Christina” got some attention a few years ago.  These guys are talented, fun, and play well.  Their new stuff has enough potential where I’d like to hear the new songs again when they become available.  The band is in that melodic, guitar-oriented, very British-sounding niche which is a tough sell right now.  As the pendulum hopefully swings back in that direction, these guys can be contenders.

I’ve been keen to see Melbourne’s Midnight Juggernauts since their Dystopia album came out in 2007.  They played a stripped-down set at The Echo. Like many indie-electro bands, they’ve moved in a softer, more-progressive direction.  Their newer stuff is cool but I’m afraid I prefer the immediacy of their earlier upbeat, house stylings.


Sunday, August 8th, 2010
Fitz & the Tantrums have L.A. peeps abuzz

Of bands I’ve recently interviewed The Constellations gained many Lollapolooza fans while Matt & Kim stirred up the Lolla throng as always.  The Drums were a highlight the prior weekend at Australia’s Splendour in the Grass. The three band interviews are here. I understand Rafeal Saadiq made quite an impression at the festival and of course Gogol Bordello always is a knock out..Speaking of great live bands, Titus Andronicus showed on Jimmy Fallon why people love ’em live.  See it here...Some larger mainstream alternative stations are considering The Drums’ “Let’s Go Surfing”.  Such a radio-perfect tune.  Someone needs to give it a shot!…L.A. tastemakers are buzzing about blue-eyed soul band Fitz and the Tantrums. They’re known to be great live and their album drops later this month.  I find all of it a compelling listen, although it’s closer to pop than to rock…I’m pleased to have been Music Supervisor for the roadtrip mockumentary “Go West Happy Cow”Scott Perry of the New Music Tipsheet sends an astute weekly email on music business marketing strategies.  It’s an interesting read for anyone wanting to learn more about the music world.  Sign up hereUSA Today actually put Iron Maiden in the category of bands doing “boomer revival tours”.  Guess the paper is unaware the band completed their most successful U.S. tour to date and are in the process of headlining various European festivals.  I review their LA show on my June 21 post.  The average age of a Maiden crowd is less than the age of the band’s first album”Killers”…MTV’s first aired clip long ago was “Video Killed the Radio Star”.  The Limousines have a new song “Internet Killed the Video Star”.  Check out my fave current tracks on the front page of the Go Deep site.  You can click on any one or even better, just let ’em play!

Fave 2010 U.S. releases through July

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Hot Chip

The Constellations


With Arcade Fire igniting the second half blitz, 2010 is shaping up to be a great year for music.  Here are albums released in the US during the first half of the year that stick out in my mind.  Artists are alphabetical.  The center and right-hand covers are from bands I wasn’t following before this year.  Quite a variety here.

Codeine Velvet ClubCodeine Velvet Club…This was the post-Fratellis side project for band leader John.  He added a jazz-singing female to share lead vocals.  The Fratellis type melodic hooks are there, but with a softer sound.  John will record future projects under his own name.  My lead tracks are “Hollywood”, “Little Sister”, and “Vanity Kills”.

The ConstellationsSouthern Gothic…They have a unique sound and blur genre lines between rock, blues, rap, pop, etc. Every track has its own feel. They’re very musical and are one of the better live bands out there. The album is written about after-hours Atlanta and as Hotlanta is their home town, it’s a subject they know lots about. The single “Felecia” has been getting strong airplay nationally. Also check out “Setback” and their superior cover of Tom Waits’ “Step Right Up”.  Waits is a big influence on singer/songwriter Elijah Jones.

DevoSomething For Everybody…Possibly their best album overall. They retained their analogue synth sound but added a 2010 production sheen to make them sound very “fresh”. There’s a need for more uptempo indie music, and this fits beautifully. They’ll make many new fans, and the album is a must for old fans. I like it all and mostly recommend “Fresh”, “Don’t Shoot”, “What We Do”, and “Please Baby Please”.

GorillazPlastic Beach…More hip-hop than I’d prefer, but musically stellar.  Fave tracks are “To Binge”, “On Melancholy Hill” and “Plastic Beach”.

Hot ChipOne Life Stand…I really like this one pretty much beginning to end.  They became slightly mellower and more progressive this time around.  The album remains in top iPod rotation a half year later.  “One Life Stand”, “Take It In”, “Keep Quiet”.

LCD SoundsystemThis is Happening…Every track has a different vibe and they all work. James Murphy is saying this will be their last album, as they want to go out on top. Hope it ain’t so but if it is, they will have exited in style. In addition to their “Drunk Girls” single, recommended tracks are “I Can Change”, “All I Want”, and “Pow Pow”.

The Soft PackThe Soft Pack…The garage sound hasn’t penetrated well as of late, but these guys blasted through the barriers with lots of undeniable tracks, especially “C’mon”, “Mexico”, and “Pull Out”.

Stone Temple PilotsStone Temple Pilots…I wasn’t their biggest fan back in the 90’s and it surprises me they’d be under consideration for my year-end list.  This is my fave album of theirs, as their focus is relentless and the songs consistent.  Recommended tracks besides their hit “Between the Lines” single are “Cinamon”, and “Huckleberry Crumble”.

Vampire WeekendContra…These dudes have entered the mainstream and that’s good news to me.  Their original fans might not want to share them, but I feel the mainstream needs an upgrade.  “Cousins”, “California English”, “Holiday”.

YeasayerOdd Blood…What a difference between their first and second albums!  A good friend attended raves in the 90’s, and he said this was the first album in ages that gave him that same feeling.  “ONE”, “Rome”, “Mondegreen”.