Rave’s Raves: November, 2009

RAVE’S FAVES (artists on the air since Rave’s Raves #36)

Airborne Toxic Event, Florence & the Machine, White Rabbits, Julian Casablancas, Morningwood, The Cribs, The Big Pink, Built to Spill, Sea Wolf, The Rifles, Philadelphia Grand Jury.

The Airborne Toxic Event has lots of deeper tracks, some of which are just now hitting the airwaves.  Florence doesn’t have typical hits, but she’s got a great sound.  Nice seeing White Rabbits pick up some mainstream airplay, and “Dominos” by The Big Pink (UK) has a shot at breaking mainstream.  Julian goes in many directions on his album, and cool, keyboard-based single “11th Dimension” sounds like The Strokes beyond his vocals.  Morningwood has a stellar single.  You probably know that guitar player Johnny Marr is now a Cribs band member and it’s great having a new release from them.  The UK’s Rifles has a great guitar-driven sound.  The “Philly Jays” (P.G.J.) have a tune called “Going to the Casino” that has blown the band up in Australia and has also gotten the biggest reaction of the last few months on my own Go Deep show.  I typically don’t play import tunes that aren’t yet available in the US.


RAVE’S FAVES (artists being played on the air)

Muse, Cage the Elephant, Jet, Phoenix, Owl City, Hockey, Wilco, Nosiettes, La Roux, Friendly Fires, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Matt & Kim, Yacht, Care Bears on Fire, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Metric, God Help the Girl, Soulsavers, Mew, Hollywood Undead.

The new Muse full-length might not have quite the fresh ideas of their last two, it’s another work of art that will sound amazing in the arenas and on the radio. Cage the Elephant, Phoenix, Metric and Yeah Yeah Yeahs all have albums deep enough where they’ll hang around for the rest of the year.  Jet also made a good record with a bunch of good tracks, and I hope people give them a chance.  I’m high on Portland’s Hockey, and their album finally drops in early October.  Noisettes and La Roux continue to cool pattern of UK females recording retro-sounding hits.  Love the new Friendly Fires tune “Kiss Of Life”.  Care Bears on Fire are aged 13 and 14, with their lovable punkish track “Everybody Else”.  Nice seeing them booked on LettermanGod Help the Girl is from the Belle & Sebastian camp.  Soulsavers’ roots include Screaming Trees and Butthole SurfersJetpacks are interesting Scottish rockers.  I never thought I’d hit on a Mew track but their new single “Introducing Palace Players” works for me.  Yacht have a dance feel and are from North Carolina.  Hollywood Undead have a novelty ditty that is getting spins and requests at KROQ here in LA.



The UK’s Fanfarlo hit me as a pleasant cross between Beirut and Arcade Fire. They look like 6 unassuming, freshly-scrubbed, dorm students who are talented musicians that decided to hang out. Their music is pleasant and engaging with some strong songs. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros were 12 strong at their sold-out El Rey gig. The show was a bit uneven, but it was their first tour and the great moments were very hot. Their tune “Home” especially got the fans jumping. Singer Alex admonished people in the back who were talking, telling them to “relax”. This tone took away from a show that is all about positive vibes. I was able to catch two shows while in my college town of Madison, Wisconsin. These 2 gigs could not have been more opposite of each other. St. Vincent was at the High Noon Saloon. She’s petite and sings her folky songs in a very sweet way. The arrangements were compelling and I wish that the tunes had a few more hooks. Next night, The Gossip tore it up at the Majestic Theatre. In the words of DJ Paul V., singer Beth Ditto sounds like an incredible gospel singer sweating in church on Sunday. Beth’s voice was trashed due to “having had so much fun the night before” but she still sounded amazing and her band rocks. The female-dominated crowd never stopped moving nor did Beth, who was dressed as usual in a very tight, very fashionable skirt. They did an incredible cover of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It”. The band didn’t play their major track, “Standing in the Way of Control”! Noah and the Whale were at LA’s Roxy. They’re a nice band, but failed to read the room and went very low-key, omitting some of their more up-tempo songs, including their big UK hit “Five Year’s Time”! What’s up with some of these bands? It’s not like these guys are U2. Sorry, but for them not to play their hits is inexcusable. Ezra Furman and The Harpoons came through LA and played at Spaceland. This talented dude played new songs along with some of his old faves. I’m bullish on his long-term prospects. The Bricks also played a powerful and tight set at this show. Islands were at the Troubadour. This talented Montreal group does some very interesting things. While I don’t think they’ve completely jelled yet, I look forward to seeing what they continue to come up with. Florence and the Machine have done great in England and had a winning show at The Troubadour. Florence has a good voice, a cool look, and very interesting tunes. The crowd was very warm to her. She’s been drunk in many cities but said she’d never been drunk in LA. I bet she celebrated after this one. Check out her Letterman appearance (see below).


I saw Noisettes and La Roux two nights apart and there were parallels.  Both are coming off of UK #1’s, and both have potential star singers in Shingai Shoniwa and Elly Jackson respectively.  Noisettes love playing the raucous blues-rock from their debut CD, and the intense “Don’t Give Up” was their show highlight at Spaceland.  While their hit “Never Forget You” was another high point, the band don’t seem as comfortable playing the other mid-tempo, melodic tunes from their most recent album.  La Roux packed the Troubadour and played a set that was very precise if not intense.  I’m confident both live shows will get better and better.  It was back to a full Spaceland for Band of Skulls.  They play unassuming blues-rock and lots of people love them live.  My, how the Ting Tings have come along in just over a year.  They have major production values now, and they aced their show at Club Nokia.  The middle band were Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head, who are a hoot.  They destroy in smaller clubs but didn’t quite have the same impact here.  I’m sure that will come especially if their next album has the goods.  Los Campesinos were a Coachella highlight for me, but poor sound marred their El Rey show.  They’ve got a nice cult and it will be interesting to see what happens with them on their next CD.  When Matt & Kim booked the El Rey a couple of months ago, it seemed very aggressive for them but the duo sold out the venue and blew people away.  They are so positive, and rarely do you see so many full smiles in a rock crowd.  The CD is doing well and their songs are all over TV.  Several major labels were hanging around backstage after the show, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see their “Grand” album rereleased on one of these majors.


Links are directly to the show performances whenever I was able to find them. If no link, try Hulu.

(September 1 through November 1)

Letterman: Noisettes, Mika, Florence & the Machine.
Conan: Wolfmother might have qualified, but it seems the show has removed all posted links and I didn’t get to see it.
Carson Daly: Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys

(July 1 through September 1)

Letterman: Cage the Elephant, Paul McCartney, Care Bears on Fire
Conan: Regina Spektor, Kings of Leon, Franz Fedinand
Kimmel: La Roux, Dead Weather, Friendly Fires
Fallon: Dead Weather, Passion Pit, Arctic Monkeys, Julian Plenti

Ferguson: Glasvegas


#36.1 (November)

Had Michael Jackson lived and brought his show to LA, I probably would not have made the effort to go. Having seen the film, I realize I would have missed an all-time extravaganza. Interesting how he was on-top of everything related to the show. We rarely got to see him interact with people off-camera in the past. The people around him were extremely deferential to him, but he also was pretty much treated with kid gloves. Michael was a true unifier, and the world certainly could use more of that…If the year is ’09, it feels like it should be March or April now, given how quickly it’s flown by. My year-end Raves will enter your inbox next month. My year-end album and track faves will be included as always. What are you listening to now and what have been your faves so far? I hope the rest of the year treats you well, and I’ll be back during the holidays. Until then…

#36 (September)

Lesser known rapper Speech Debelle just won the UK’s coveted Mercury Prize, beating out such personal faves as Friendly Fires, Glasvegas, and La Roux.  It seems that the favored artists probably split the vote, allowing Speech to slip through.  Elbow benefited tremendously from winning a year ago…With numerous musicians passing away prematurely, I checked on whether this is a new trend.  Some older friends feel that in past decades, a greater number of musicians were dying before their time…That’s a wrap for Rave’s Raves 36.  I love hearing from people and respond to everyone, so let me know what you’re listening to.  I’ll be back with a full update in late October or early November.  Until then…


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