January 26, 2010

Phoenix and The Soft Pack at the Showbox SODO

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Phoenix ::: Photo by Chona Kasinger for Sound on the Sound

Highly anticipated buzz band of 2k10, The Soft Pack (formerly known as The Muslims), opened things up last Friday night with a bang. Though I do find the pairing of Phoenix and The Soft Pack slightly mismatched, the San Diego locals held their own nevertheless. The song “Pull Out” in particular caught my attention as lead singer Matt Lamkin deadpans verse over a sound that can only be described as the intersection of Joy Division and The Sex Pistols. Lead guitarist Matt Mcloughlin manhandles the neck of his guitar as if he were attempting first-degree murder, resulting in an abrasive and indelible dimension that so many bands this day lack. Having previously seen the Muslims at CMJ two years prior, I can attest to this band’s development over the years and am eager to see the direction they travel in after touring with France’s hottest import rock band.

Headliner Phoenix’s insatiably brief set at the Wamu Theatre last December ended all too soon. I was shocked to see the twitter announcement that Phoenix would be returning to Seattle in the next month, only a couple days after Deck the Hall Ball, but less surprised when I found out that tickets had sold out at the drop of a pin.

Phoenix kicked things off with crowd favorite “Lizstomania” before rocketing the audience into a fervent frenzy with an array of their highly danceable tracks. “I don’t know why we waited so long to come to Seattle,” explained a visibly humbled Thomas Mars about midway through the set. “It won’t happen again” he apologized.

“Who’s the boy you like the most? Is he teasing you with underage? Could he be waving from a tropical sunset?” Mars muses contemplatively in one of my favorite tracks off the explosive endeavor Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, “Rome.” The romantic melancholy of the song is cutting, as Mars further presses “The future’s trying to wait, I’ve never loved you and if I loved you, I wouldn’t say that I’m sorry”.

As I predicted, Phoenix saved the best for last, closing things up with an epic rendition of that song everyone loves to drive their black Cadillac to- “1901.”

People are crazy for Phoenix- this fact became stringently clear to me as the throng of girls in the front row honed their best high school foreign language abilities and professed their love for the band in broken and cacophonous French. It appeared to me as if the second coming of the French Fury had truly succeeded- Seattle rest in the palm of Phoenix’s hand Saturday night and by the ecstatic grins of passer-bys on the way out of the venue, the city wouldn’t have had it any other way. Very much like the mythical firebird from which the four piece takes its name, this Versailles band’s live show is truly legendary.


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The Soft Pack ::: Photo by Chona Kasinger for Sound on the Sound

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The Soft Pack ::: Photo by Chona Kasinger for Sound on the Sound

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Phoenix ::: Photo by Chona Kasinger for Sound on the Sound

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Phoenix ::: Photo by Chona Kasinger for Sound on the Sound

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Phoenix ::: Photo by Chona Kasinger for Sound on the Sound

December 28, 2009

Josh’s Favorite Songs of 2009

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“Eet” by Regina Spektor

Here is my list of thirty songs that dominated my iTunes, the songs that moved me to learn them on guitar, and the songs I will identify with 2009 forever. In no particular order. Though I suppose the top five could be my top five.

“Walkabout” by Atlas Sound + guest Noah Lennox from Logos (Kranky/4AD) Listen: Get mp3 via FADER

“Technicolor” by Nurses from Apple’s Acre (Dead Oceans) Listen: Download mp3 courtesy of Dead Oceans

“Lisztomania” by Phoenix from Wolfgang Amadaeus Phoenix (Glassnote) Listen: Stream at Myspace

“World News” by the Local Natives from Gorilla Manor (Rough Trade/Frenchkiss) Listen: Download a live version via a Daytrotter Session

“Come Monday Morning” by Widower from Widower (self-released) Listen: Stream at Myspace

“At the Cut” by the Cave Singers from Welcome Joy (Matador) Listen: Download mp3 courtesy of Matador Records

“Comets” by Fanfarlo from Fanfarlo (Canvasback Music) Listen: Stream at Fanfarlo.com

“Alamagordo” by the Ironclads from The Space Between the Maps (self-released) Listen: Download MP3 courtesy of the Ironclads

“Young Heart Sparks Fire” by Japandroids from Post-Nothing (Polyvinyl Records) Listen: Download MP3 courtesy of Polyvinyl Records

“Eet” by Regina Spektor from Far (Sire Records) Listen: Watch the Video above, Stream at Myspace

“Walk Away” by The Maldives from Listen to the Thunder (Mt. Fuji Records) Listen: Stream a Video from a KEXP In-Studio

“Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” by Mayer Hawthorne from A Strange Arrangement (Stones Throw Records) Listen: Stream the Video at Vimeo

“Ready, Able” by Grizzly Bear from Vecktamist (Warp Records) Listen: Stream the Video at Youtube

“For Now” by People Eating People from People Eating People (The Control Group) Listen: Stream at Myspace

“Lust for Life” by Girls from Lust for Life (True Panther Sounds/Matador Records) Listen: Download MP3 courtesy of True Panther Sounds/Matador Records | Watch the Video Below

 

“Lust for Life” by Girls (Safe Version)

“Lazerbeams” by Fresh Espresso from Glamour (Out for Stardom) Listen: Stream the Video at Youtube

“The Town” by Macklemore from The Unplanned Mixtape (self-released) Listen: Stream the Video at Youtube

“Otherside” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis from VS. (Sound Records) Listen: Download VS. EP courtesy of Ryan Lewis Productions

“You Only Believe Me When I’m Lying” by Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers from Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers (self-released) Listen: Download MP3 via KEXP Song of the Day

“Stillness is the Move” by the Dirty Projectors from Bitte Orca (Domino Records) Listen: Stream Track via Domino Records

“Magic Mtn” by Arthur & Yu from Don’t Piss into the Fire Sub Pop Singles Club Record Store Day Release and Hardly Art Label Sampler (Sub Pop/Hardly Art) Listen: Download Track at Amazon via Hardly Art

“Let Me Fall” by the Final Spins from THIS IS THEN/THAT WAS NOW (self-released) Listen: Download MP3 via KEXP Song of the Day

“Ed Jackson” by See Me River from The Great Unwashed EP (Aviation Records) Listen: Download MP3 via KEXP Song of the Day

“Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh” by Say Hi from Oohs and Aahs (Barsuk Records) Listen: Download MP3 courtesy of Barsuk Records

“Please Baby Please” by David Bazan from Curse Your Branches (Barsuk Records) Listen: Stream a solo version at youtube

“The Perfect Space” by the Avett Brothers from I and Love and You (Columbia) Listen: Stream via theavettbrothers.com

“What Took So Long” by the Moondoggies (unreleased) Listen: Download a live session version via Luxury Wafers

“Summer of Hate” by Crocodiles from Summer of Hate (Fat Possum Records) Listen: Download MP3 courtesy of Fat Possum Records

“Isabella” by Lands & Peoples from Lands & Peoples EP (self-released) Listen: Stream via Bandcamp

“Norway” by Beach House from Teen Dream (Sub Pop) Listen: Download MP3 courtesy of Sub Pop

December 23, 2009

Josh’s Favorite Sessions of 2009

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Damien Jurado – sheets from Chelsea on Vimeo.

2009 saw a huge increase in sites collaborating with bands to do all kinds of video and audio sessions. I suspect we’ll be delving into that shortly as well. These were the ones that in my mind floated above the rest this year.

 

Video: Damien Jurado – unknown session by vimeo user Chelsea (4 songs) – see above

Audio: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – KEXP Audioasis Session with live strings and horns (4 songs & Interview)

Video: J Tillman (full band) – Rockfeedback session (25 minute set & interview)

Video: Nurses – Left | Right Hand In Rhythm session (3 songs) – see below

 

NURSES IN RHYTHM from Left | Right Hand on Vimeo.

 

Audio: Local Natives – Daytrotter Session (4 songs)

Video & Audio: The Moondoggies – Luxury Wafers Session (six songs)

Audio: Pearly Gate Music (full band) – KEXP In-Studio Session (four songs)

Video: Phoenix (acoustic) – La Blogotheque Take Away Show (three songs) – see below

 

Phoenix – 1901 – A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

December 22, 2009

Best of Guest List: Scott Roots’ Favorites for 2009

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Scott with his band Skeletons with Flesh on Them ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth

[Editors Note: Scott Roots writes and sings advanced pop songs with his band Skeletons with Flesh on Them. As a fellow lover and devourer of music of all kinds, we value how he's always got a new (and often local) band to talk about. As someone who has actively listened to a wide array of what 2009 had to offer, recorded and live, he came immediately to mind when considering guest end-of-year list contributors. Scott's band is playing the Three Imaginary Girls holiday show at Chop Suey, this Wednesday December 23rd with a bunch of other bands. -josh]

 

My 5 Favorite Albums of 2009

The DoDos – Time to Die (www.dodosmusic.net) The DoDos pit galloping drums against restrained vocals and deft finger-picking for a foreboding yet colorful effect.

Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (www.wearephoenix.com) Phoenix, quite simply, makes me want to party.

The Foghorns – Diamond as Big as the Motel Six (www.thefoghorns.com) Haunting, lonely folk songs that touch on the kind of sadness you mistakenly thought was yours alone.

Atlas Sound – Logos (www.atlassound.com) Weird and warmly and understated.

Elba – Don’t Be Discouraged Little Sparrow (myspace.com/elba) Oscillating between placid and paranoid, a unique and genuine sound.

 

My 5 Favorite Seattle Shows of 2009

Sunny Day Real Estate at the Paramount (www.sunnydayrealestate.net) I built this show up a lot. It was even better than I hoped.

Loom at Holy Mountain A smoke-bomb scare wasn’t enough to stop Loom’s melodic hardcore lightshow.

Champagne Champagne at the Mansion (www.champagnechampagne.net) Thomas, Pearl and Mark swigging champagne inside an absolutely gorgeous mansion on Capitol Hill.

The DoDos at the Mural Amphitheatre (www.dodosmusic.net) The subtlety of their music a perfect contrast to the wide open summer evening.

Love is All at Neumos (loveisallright.blogspot.com) Dissonant, catchy, and cute as all get out.

December 17, 2009

Deck the Hall Ball -OR- My So-Called Concert

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Emily Haines of Metric ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth

It takes balls to come on stage to the Carmina Burana. I mean really?! Who can do that in a legit manner without a heavy dose of irony? Maybe the WWF’s Undertaker can pull it off. But Jared Leto and his band 30 Seconds to Mars? Not so much. Making everyone wait as if they are Queen or the Stones or something, the lights dim and the opera’s famous refrain drones on and on until it finally reaches it’s climax and Leto prances out and accentuates the peak moments with his guitar. Four minutes of buildup for that? The first two minutes of ‘song’ were then peppered with “How You Doin’ Seattle!” and “I want everybody to Jump, just like this!” Dude, entertain me. Don’t tell me to jump. You need to earn that enthusiasm from me. At that point I had to walk out. I twittered “30 Seconds to … Beer garden.” Where I had a horrible 8.25 draft beer. I should have twittered “30 Seconds too long.” The night wasn’t all bad though.

Rachel Flotard’s Visqueen sounded at their best with massive speakers at their disposal. I remember seeing them hella loud on the Sasquatch main stage one year back and thinking “This band is badass!” It’s been a while, but with Flotard’s overflowing excitement, I regained that feeling. Lakewood, in the house?!?! Vampire Weekend, strangely in the second opening spot, sounded about as one would expect, and with an impressive number of radio recognizable hits they had no trouble filling the the pitifully short set with crowd pleasers like “A-Punk” and “Walcott.” The new song “Cousins” was the least pleasing of the set. It was rough. “Mansnard Roof” though, that is a damn good song. Other than Phoenix only getting 25 minutes too, the absence of “Horchata” was really the big disappointment of the night. I kid, I kid.

Phoenix launched their set with “Lisztomainia,” in my estimation, one of this year’s most gushworthy songs. Given the massive hype surrounding them I’ve been remiss in picking up their record Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, and three songs in I was feeling stupid and stubborn on that count. Closing with mega-single “1901,” front man Thomas Mars took the opportunity to crowdsurf all the way to the back of the floor. Aside from the antics, and my love for “Lisztomainia,” “1901″ was the song of the night. Write a song like that Jared Leto, and you’ll never have to ask people to bounce again. They’ll just freak out all on their own.

Metric, whom we may have had a few hard words about in the less than ideal conditions of a blustery and wet Bumbershoot this year, sounded like a positively different band. With the benefit of a closed space and a top notch sound system, one can really appreciate the nuances of distortion and the waves of feedback they are trying to portray, something completely lost without walls or when at the mercy of a festival sound setup. This is another band meant to be backed by massive stacks. Emily Haines is a magnetic stage presence, an eye catching mix of alluring front woman and furious rock n’ roller. She’s always in movement, always living the songs, and that kind of performance is just as important as what the lyrics and music communicate. Considering the kind of example she sets, I’m beginning to understand why so many are taken with Metric.

Being at a Muse concert brings me back to the early aughts. College. It’s been a while. For a band who normally play’s arenas, this long sold out show in a much smaller room was a special affair for the obvious mass of Muse fans in the room. (They’ll be back to their normal environs at Key Arena with Silversun Pickups April 2nd.) The unwritten rule of uncool about not wearing a shirt at the same show you are bought it at was apparently suspended, much to Muse’s glee, who had a walking t-shirt model at every turn. Around the back of the thickly congested floor, moms with candy cane earrings corralled their young-in’s who couldn’t drive, the bunch of them often short enough that they were relegated to attempting to see from the back, ending up having to rely on the big screens to see anything at all.

For a three-man band (plus a sometimes keyboardist), Muse sound positively gargantuan. The trademark custom guitars with wave modification modules built into the body are just one of the many things that mark this band as larger than your average bear. Matthew Bellamy doesn’t need to say a damn word to the entice the crowd into movement, he entertains us with his bona-fide licks and pinpoint control of his feedback.  He’ll then take a gothic turn at the piano. Had they chosen one of the most recognizable and dramatic arias as their entry music, I would have at least conceded that maybe they’d earned the right to do that. If anything though, their show proved Muse doesn’t need dramatic entry music. Or entry music of any kind. Muse is a band that needs no introduction at all.

Metric ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth

Metric ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth

Flickr: Metric at the 107.7 Deck the Hall Ball 2009

December 14, 2009

Phoenix’ “Lisztomania” Take Away Show

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Phoenix – Lizstomania / One time too many – A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

With the release of the Phoenix edition of La Blogoteque’s Take Away Show, I was reminded just how much Iove the song “Lisztomania.” Their roam around the Eiffel Tower among throngs of tourists is attended by among others a bride and groom.

Then I saw this video today over at GvB in their ‘songs of 2009′ list, a video that brought an instant smile to my face:



I’ve got to agree. This is most definitely one of my favorite songs of the year.

Phoenix is on the bill for Deck the Hall Ball at WAMU Theater Tuesday December 15th, along with Muse, Metric, Vampire Weekend and Visqueen. Oh. And yes ladies, Jared Leto’s 30 Seconds To Mars. Since it is sold out, tickets are only winnable by listening to 107.7 FM.