Over the past 15 years, I probably contemplate the potentiality of a Talking Heads reunion about every 4 months or so. And I’m not saying I have one of those What If/Wouldn’t That Be Cool moments, I’m saying I literally imagine myself at such an event and try to visualize what exactly is happening. I’m in one of those 4 month moments right now, spurred on by watching disastrous footage of recent Rolling Stones gigs, contemplating the cycle of events that could lead to a Ween show in 2013, and by reading a recent quote from Robert Plant where he actually hints about wanting to do a 2014 Led Zeppelin tour. So here’s my really shitty vision of being at a T-Heads reunion show: I’m in Madison Square Garden and I’ve somehow landed tickets at face value even though face is like $135… half the crowd is over 50, and 2 songs in I realize that 25% of the crowd knows nothing except for “Burning Down the House” and “Once in a Lifetime.” The band is essentially just running through the motions, and David Byrne has a look on his face like he just traded his soul for a ham sandwich. The guy sitting behind me then taps me on the shoulder and asks me both to sit down and if I can stop smoking that joint. I’m bummed – I feel hollow – I think back to when I wrote a blog about imagining this moment and realize I should have accepted fate as it was… Am I right? Can’t we all see that situation? So here’s my really awesome vision:
I’m in NYC’s Roseland Ballroom. The Heads have announced a 23 night run there dubbed All or Nothing. Tickets were hard, but I managed to land some $70 ones at face for 2 consecutive nights in the middle of the run. The stage set-up is minimal – very little lighting – and the full lineup is there. Alex Weir and Adrian Belew are both on guitar – Belew in amazing form after his stint in the Nine Inch Nails reunion. Tina Weymouth is thumping the bass with all the pent-up passion she’s been waiting to unleash for the past 30 years. It feels like it’s not even the same woman I’ve seen play with Tom Tom Club. It’s hot in there. It’s smoky. It’s sweaty. Each show of the run has followed a fairly similar setlist, but there have been divine moments that make each night stand out. This is a Tuesday, and currently the band is 8 minutes deep into “The Great Curve.” I am getting down harder than I ever have in my life, but still not as hard as the 70 year old woman sweating bullets to my left. To my right, a 21 year old EDM kid stands still staring at the stage with his mouth on the floor and a slight tear coming down his face. During “Houses in Motion” I glance to my left and notice James Murphy dancing anonymously amongst a circle of friends. At several times during the gig I check my pulse to make sure I’m still on planet Earth… And am I right on this one too? Couldn’t we all see this?
Sigh… dreams and fantasies can really mess with your head sometimes, but that’s what makes our weird human brains so amazing. God bless you David Byrne, and God bless whatever decision you ever make to reconstruct my reality. A few months back a friend of mine turned me onto the Bonus Tracks that were released on a Remain in Light reissue. I had never heard them. They crushed me. I cried when I first heard this jam called “Right Start” – it’s kind of like a mash-up of “Lifetime” and “Electric Guitar.” I imagine it as the soundtrack that the great creator had playing in his head when he was manufacturing the universe, and I kind of imagine the after-life as a world where this thing is just playing on loop for eternity. Dig in…
I first heard of St. Vincent a few years ago when she was opening for Death Cab For Cutie. At the time, the pairing seemed ideal as Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) was embracing a fairly mellow vibe, all be it strikingly off-kilter. I totally flaked on the girl until last Fall’s Strange Mercy dropped though , and now it’s become one of my go-to albums of 2012. The girl is sexy, writes amazingly modern and freshly progressive rock and roll, has a killer voice, great legs, and she fucking shreds a fuzzed out guitar in one of those “Holy Sweet Fuck” kind of ways. Here’s a live taping of “Cruel” from a couple months back – my favorite track on the album as well as the most technically impressive. Dig it -
So when word began to circulate that David “T-Head” Byrne was working on a new album with her, my initial reaction was rather skeptical. I envisioned Byrne turning up her freak flag a little and letting her rock creds droop to the side – I mean the guy’s always looking for somebody new to just be a complete weirdo with. Luckily, rather than the dusted remains of an art-house chop-shop, their album Love This Giant seems to be leaning in the direction of completely bad-ass poppish rock. The album’s not due to be released for another 2 months, but they have released the first track “Who.” Supposedly in the same vein throughout the album, the track centers along a brass-driven pop-funk train. I was reminded of Byrne’s 1997 solo release Feelings, which has remained his funkiest work since the Talking Heads disbanded – that is up until now. “Who” is like watching a NOLA marching band go by in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Tangents of obsure pop melodies grab the hands of deep-trench soul-crank – easily some of the weirdest shit that you want to dance your ass off too. Get into it below. And download it free HERE.
Portland, Oregon – shitty 80′s long-sleeves – funky Beck falsettos… So I’m not sure when all 3 of these things began to coexist as the hip new trend, but I have realized that I’ve begun to harness a preparatory disdain for the formula. And the thing is I really like shitty clothes from the 80′s and music that sounds like mid-90′s Beck – I really do. Perhaps that’s why I’m overly critical – I just want the best. Anyway, I’m not sure what level of sarcastic angst I was carrying the first time I heard Unknown Mortal Orchestra, but I do know I was a jackass that day. Luckily, since I’m 8 months late to the game, their self-titled debut is my new jam of the summer.
Basically you take 3 cats who have an obvious love for the Flaming Lips and modernized back-beats, throw them into the technicolor explosion of London circa 1966, light up a monster spliff, and wham – you are now pulsing in the heart of UMO. This album has also made me realize that making shit sound intentionally low-fi will never go out of style. 50 years from now, when we’re just shooting lasers into our heads to hear tunes, there’s still gonna be new kids on the scene who will figure out how to connect a busted 4-track to their cerebellum.
It’s about an hour’s drive to the beach from Portland, and these guys have made the perfect album to listen to on that drive with the windows down. It’s the kind of album that makes you want to eat mushrooms, swim in the ocean, then lie on the beach and listen to it all over again. Dig it.
It always seems weird when artists make songs as parts of projects for large companies, but there seems to be a different edge whenever sneakers are involved. I guess people can just really get behind shit they put on their feet – regardless of what sweat-shops they may arise from. James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem made the brilliant album, 45:33 for Nike in 2007. There was that uber-dreamy ad/song that Karen O and Spike Jonze did for Adidas in 2006. And now Converse joins the cool-kids team by presenting this new 3 artists/1 song collaboration. James Murphy returns to a new sneaker squad here – providing vocals on this new Gorillaz track that also has Outkast’s Andre 3000 throwing in a verse or two. It’s a ridiculously impressive lineup actually – people are always waiting on the next Gorillaz track, people have been waiting years for the next Outkast album, and everybody’s clambering to get their hands on whatever Murphy is going to do post-LCD. Released today, “Do Ya Thing” is great but holds very litter surprises. There’s a weird off-kilter hip-funk that permeates all three of these artists and their collaboration feels incredibly natural – so natural in fact, that if you didn’t know who it was you’d probably describe it as a “Gorillaz-type song with a dude singing like James Murphy and a guy rapping like Andre 3000.” I mean, I guess that’s what you want right? It’s not like anybody expected the track to be an instrumental 3-piece on vibraphones or anything – I just wanted a little bit more. The highlight is definitely the outro, where the hilariously poignant line is repeated ad nauseam; “Can we get an Outkast album now?” Seriously though – maybe have Murphy or Damon Albarn produce it – shit would be hot! There is a video for this tune coming out next week as well as an extended 12 minute cut, so maybe the surprises are yet to come. And of course it is fantastic that Murphy’s alter ego in the Gorillaz universe seems to be a karate bamboon – I’m not sure why, but it makes complete sense. Check out a youtube of the song below or download it free HERE. And here’s that sweet Adidas ad if you forgot how fucking awesome it is.
UPDATE: 2.29.12 The official video has been released, and while it is epically cool, it’s still missing everything that makes the extended track so hot. But yeah, dig it – computer animation for raging party folk.
A couple weekends ago, the glorious Brooklyn Bowl played host to the two-night rock party thrown by the NYC Freaks known as Freaks Ball 12. The highly OVERRATED Portugal, The Man headlined on Friday, but Saturday was an expanded jam-night of sweat-staggering proportions. Featuring The Duo, Warren Haynes, and members of Soulive to name a handful – much of the evening consisted of instrumental versions of Beatles tunes. The post-words I heard about the show highlighted the epic 14 man take on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” but I’ve been digging this sweet gem below from early on in the evening.
At this opening portion of the night, the band was a four-piece consisting of Joe Russo on drums, Hagar Ben-Ari of the Dap-Kings on bass, Eric Deutsch on drums, and the oft-forgotten guitar shredder of the indie-jam scene, Scott Metzger on guitar. Now if you switched out Deutsch for Marco Benevento, I’d call this band a true force to be reckoned with. Eric is insanely talented, but Marco has that twist for the obscure that gives the needed flair to vocal-less rockers. Regardless, this line-up dwells in a slanky-as-all-hell pocket that they’ll be reprising at the Bowl tomorrow night (2/9). If you’re in the BK, I’d highly recommend it. But take a minute and scope one of the sliest cuts of “Day Tripper” anybody’s ever laid down – it must be really early in the evening because that crowd looks lame as spoiled-Peking.
So I went to go see the ever-eccentric Twin Sister at the Doug Fir last night here in PDX – they were good, not great. They’ve definitely tightened up their back end since I’ve last seen them, and their front-girl has definitely gotten a screw or two looser. Either way, they were seriously over-shadowed by their opening act tour-partners from Brooklyn, Ava Luna. Fronted by the most unlikely front-man of the year, Carlos Hernandez – he looks like either an introverted guitar-tech or an extra for Revenge of the Nerds Part VII. But there in lies his magic – because when that kid hits the stage, it becomes serious business in the Postpunk Neofunk reality we’d all like to exist in.
Intricately layered harmonies from his female cohorts skip across the top of complex bass lines that are in complete lock with booming studder-fills from the drums. Think Beck Midnight Vultures era with the intelligence of The Dirty Projectors thrown on top. Hernandez occasionally plays a ripping rock-edged guitar, but most of the melodies come from synths and casios scattered throughout the accompanying musicians. This seeming chaotic formation is unbelievably tight though – half-times and drop-beats come at the most unexpected yet well-received moments. Perusing their on-line visibility, it seems like these guys are in serious need of a big P.R. boost, but perhaps this first national tour of theirs will turn more ears than my own. I recommend jumping on board ASAP.