The stage is hidden by a white scrim on all four sides – the audience is restless. We’ve been waiting for almost an hour, expecting opening acts which never materialized.
Finally the lights go out – except for the ones onstage. The curtain becomes a screen, dizzying abstract shapes floating around as the music starts. Sigur Rós’ frontman, Jónsi Birgisson, begins with Yfirborð, immediately crashing his bow down on the guitar in his signature style. The curtain is still up, but now things are taking a distinctly different turn – the shapes are still barely intelligible, but there is the unmistakable feeling that we are witnessing art as they move, synchronized with the music. Circles and close-ups of iron filings and things moving in liquid mingle with definite human movement in a bizarre and beautiful dance.
Matt King doesn’t have time for his emotions. He’s in the middle of a real estate deal that could result in signing over to developers of a large plot of virgin Hawaiin land entrusted to King’s family by their ancestors. Even when taking care of a schoolyard quarrel between his daughter and a classmate, he is reminded that everyone is anticipating his decision. On top of that, he’s clumsily caring for his two daughters and trying to figure out the logistics of his wife’s impending death. The responsibility of being the public face of both a well-known ancestral lineage on large, public scale as well as on a personal level with friends and family takes precedence over his own feelings. (more…)
I have been a fan of nearly everything that Stephin Merritt has put together since the Magnetic Fields’ “69 Love Songs” came out in 1999. I’ve also grown to really like (if not more) their earlier, lo fi stuff on “Holiday”, “Get Lost”, and “The Charm of the Highway Strip”. His gloomy work with his Gothic Archies moniker, as well as the guest singers with the 6ths, have also been very enjoyable to me. Of all the music artists I have enjoyed, I think Merritt’s discography gives me the most satisfaction for any mood.
I think my fandom is mainly because Merritt’s songwriting has the ability to sound cheerful and poppy but has an underlying emotion that may not be as apparent. There are certainly sad-sounding sad songs and happy-sounding happy songs, but the ones that have a story that goes beyond the tones of the synthesizers, cellos, and ukeleles really draw me in. Even as a scraps on the floor, anything off of “Obscurities” was probably going to win me over.
Mary Timony (photo by Catherine Maldonado)
Janet Weiss, Carrie Brownstein, Mary Timony, and Rebecca Cole, collectively called Wild Flag, returned to Boston after their summer show at The Brighton Music Hall, for a concert at The Paradise.My favorite line from their self-titled, debut album as a group is in the song “Something Came Over Me.” The phrase “let the good times toll” which, despite the double meaning, connotes “ring out.” Mary Timony couldn’t help letting a “let the good times roll” squeak out at least once. The lyrics, many of which are directly related to sound and listening to music, truly come alive in concert. The joy and enthusiasm of the performance demonstrates just how much desire all the members of Wild Flag have to continue making music. Having spent time in well respected bands like Sleater Kinney, Helium and The Minders, they’re proving that their time’s not up yet. (more…)
Cage the Elephant apparently got some albums from Cake and the Pixies for their birthday. This gaggle of Kentucky boys are back with their sophomore album, titled “Thank You Happy Birthday”, and seem to have ditched the simple rootsyness that permeated their first album in favor of a modern punk sound, keeping to the garage but turning up the volume to make fans pogo instead of sway. It’s a change that makes an attempt to evolve their music and give it a new bite, but as much as it succeeds in providing their audience with something new to chew on, it also fails to deliver the same consistency and brain-trappingly catchy numbers that their eponymous album delivered in spades. (more…)
The Decemberists’ newest album, “The King is Dead,” opens with the words, “Here we come to a changing of the season” aptly introducing a new sound for the Portland based folk-rock band. Having toyed with orchestral and operatic rock, produced albums with grand over arching themes, and gained notoriety for songs lasting upwards of 10 minutes, the Decemberists have turned their attention to the simplicity of American folk. With shorter, simpler songs, new instrumentation, and clear influences of blue grass and country, the album is a large departure from the Decemberists’ earlier work especially their last project, Hazards of Love, a dark, operatic and extremely complex concept album. (more…)
Girl Talk came out with All Day on Monday, November 15, and the Internet shut down. All of Girl Talks albums are offered online for a free download, but his website is still struggling to keep up with the high demand; as of this morning, there were still difficulties in downloading the newest album, but procuring a copy is worth the wait and the online frustration.
(Courtesy of Illegal Art)
House of Blues. Thursday, November 4, 2010. It had rained for forty days and forty nights’ Or at least it seemed that way until Matt & Kim came to town. Each of the three concerts I’ve been to in the past month has been prefaced by a day-long onslaught of rain. Seriously. While it’s been terrible trekking out to Boston in the cold, Matt & Kim made every inconvenience worth it.
Any new band in the music scene can testify that sophomore albums can be tricky. Add a death of a band member and you’ve got yourself a bit of a conundrum. The Syracuse-based indie rock band, Ra Ra Riot, can attest to these difficulties. After their successful first year in the business, the band’s drummer, John Pike, was found dead in Buzzards Bay, off the southeast coast of Massachusetts. While the rest of the band went on to release their debut album, “The Rhumb Line,” to considerable acclaim, it’s understood that the group went through some big changes before they released their second album, “The Orchard,” in late August.
I always find it a little nerve-racking to go to a concert and see nothing but two laptops and a drum set onstage. For some reason, I find it hard to believe that those are the only tools necessary to entertain an audience, least of all a sold-out crowd at Boston’s House of Blues. Pretty Lights, however, are masters of this art form and more than kept their fans happy at their show on November 5.
(Photo: Carolyne.b via Wikimedia Commons)