Music Monday: Minor Alps – I Don’t Know What To Do with My Hands

Posted in Music on November 18th, 2013 by Nick

MinorAlps_coverMinor Alps, a collaboration by singer-songwriter Juliana Hatfield and Matthew Caws (lead singer of Nada Surf), released its full-length debut album a few weeks back and shot to the top of my Most Played list on Spotify. (I don’t actually have a Most Played list on Spotify. Does that exist? If it did, this song would fo’ sho’ be kickin’ it at the top.)

“I Don’t Know What To Do with My Hands” is the first single from the duo and it’s got everything that you’d come to expect from a Caws or Nafa Surf tune – a catchy hook, sincere lyrics and introspection, and some amazing harmonization. Instead of having Nada bassist Daniel Lorca by his side, he’s joined by Hatfield, whose vocals add a completely new layer to Caws’ shtick.

But that’s not to say that this is Caws’ show alone – all the tracks on Get There are co-written by both Caws and Hatfield. When one songwriter brought a track to the table, the other helped collaborate on arrangements and harmonies. Between the two of them, they played every instrument on the album with the exception of drums and programming.

The album is pretty awesomesauce, so if this bite is appetizing, check out Get There available now on Barsuk Records.

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TLW’s Top 10 Albums of 2012

Posted in Music on January 2nd, 2013 by Nick

Happy New Year, gentle readers!

I don’t care what the fogies or hipsters say: 2012 was a great year for music. Music never dies and if you put the time and effort in, there is greatness to be had and discovered. Although this list has quite a few returning favorites, there are also some breakout hits, new artists, and other nuggets of excellence in my Top 10 this year. As I usually disclaim, my Top 10 and subsequent Honorable Mentions are chosen with all of the following criteria in mind: personal faves (cuz this is my blog and fuck you), critical reception, public opinion, and overall badassery. I love all genres equally, so I like to have a list that is representative and eclectic, while still abiding by my ignorant, yet justified creed that Country music is just something that dumb people have imagined in their tiny little brains.

Awkward transition. Enough already, right? Here we go:

10: Walk the Moon – Walk the Moon

Walk_the_Moon_AlbumBased in Cincinnati, Ohio, this four-some Pop Rock outfit is definitely an up-and-comer. Their melodies are infectious, sometimes sugary, but never wavering in attitude. It’s dance-rock at its finest – a definite party starter. The band also gets bonus points for pulling out tunes like Bowie’s “Lets Dance” and Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal” live. Their shows are visual representations of everything the album showcases: vibrant riffs, larger-than-life sing-along choruses, and energy to the max. They may be young, but with a successful follow-up, they could very well become the next Killers. I wouldn’t count them out for a second.
Hear Here: Anna Sun, Jenny, I Can Lift A Car

9. Screaming Females – Ugly

Screaming_Female's_Ugly_album_coverScreaming Females leading lady Marissa Paternoster means business. She’s the band’s only screaming female, in fact, screeching and shredding her band through angsty punk and hard rock cuts album after album. Paternoster even made SPIN’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time – no surprise to anyone who’s seen the band’s live show. Ugly is their fifth official effort and is all the proof one needs to recognize these guys as a cohesive rock powerhouse. Though earlier albums are rawer and messier, Ugly shows growth without losing edge. Take a bite, bang your head, scream along.
Hear Here: It All Means Nothing, Doom 84, Extinction

8. The Killers – Battle Born

The_Killers_-_Battle_BornBattle Born is the album The Killers have been waiting to make their entire career. Having started with Hot Fuss, a youthful romp through New Wave and Pop, the band then traversed through Springsteen-esque rock, steel drums, saxophones and more, eventually landing to the Battle Born era of huge Arena Rock songs, bolstered by Flowers’ booming vocals. It’s a slow burn, but those that put in the effort are rewarded with an album that just feels huge, undoubtedly able to fill the large scale arenas and venues that The Killers always wished they would play. In a world where Kings and Keys grow up and gain traction while losing….something…The Killers have grown and matured without ever sacrificing artistic integrity. This album may not land on many top lists from this year, but it should.
Hear Here: Flesh and Bone, Runaways, Battle Born

7. Emeli Sandé – Our Version of Events

Emeli-Sande-Our-Version-Of-EventsEmili Sandé is somewhat of an Ellie Goulding-type story. America will catch up later, rather than sooner and that’s a shame. Sandé has played in both the Opening and Closing ceremonies at the London Olympics. She’s written songs for Rihanna, Leona Lewis, Cheryl Cole, Tinie Tempah, and more. The Scottish singer’s album peaked at number one in the UK shortly after its February release. After all this and countless television appearances, she’s still yet to make a huge “Lights”-like explosion across the pond. Regardless, Our Version of Events is one of the best R&B albums in recent years. Her voice is powerful, packed with the emotion of her own music and lyrics (the singer states that she never wanted to be an artist who performed other people’s music). Though a “new” artist, she sounds wise beyond her 25 years.
Hear Here: Heaven, My Kind of Love, Breaking the Law

6. Tame Impala – Lonerism

Tame_Impala_Lonerism_CoverEvery couple of years an album is released that sounds like it was found hidden in a time capsule buried in the 60’s, yearning for the present day to come to its senses and discover it. Welcome to Lonerism, an album that sounds so intimately connected with the zeitgeist of the past after canoodling with the sounds of The Beatles, The Who, and Pink Floyd, and more. Hell, it even sounds like Floyd members played on this record. Its influences ooze throughout every song, with the support of modern song structures and arrangements, psychedelic keys and synths, and undulating tempos. It zigs and zags throughout its 52-minute trip, dipping into the past and the present, simultaneously. It’s a divine, near-perfect listen. If you missed this one in 2012, you missed out.
Hear Here: Apocalypse Dreams, Endors Toi, Feels Like We Only Go Backwards

5. Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory

Cloud_Nothings_Attack_on_Memory_album_coverCloud Nothings are a great tale of Indie Rock awesomeness. Originally starting as a solo project in the basement of singer Dylan Baldi’s parents house, Baldi recorded in GarageBand and posted on MySpace under several different fake band names. Cloud Nothings was one of them. A couple years, three band members, and one record deal later, Cloud Nothings released Attack on Memory, the third official release, on Carpark Records. It’s everything you’d want from a true indie band: An authentic garage feel, dark and desperate lyrics and themes, and relentless energy as the album unapologetically stomps through a meager 34-minute run. You’ll play it once and immediately spin it again. Though youthful, short and sweet, the album is just as calculated, precise and determined. Look no further than “Wasted Days” – a track about not living up to your own potential and expectations. When Baldi screams “I thought I would be more than this” at the end of the nine-minute rager, you’ll get the chills.
Hear Here: Wasted Days, No Future/No Past, Separation

4. Jack White – Blunderbuss

Jack_White-BlunderbussHasn’t everyone drank the Jack White Kool-Aid by now? Make no mistake, White is a sensational song-writer, musician, and rock star. In fact, he’s one of the few true rock stars we have left. With Blunderbuss, White finally settles into his solo groove with a polished collection of tracks that he wrote, recorded, and produced entirely by himself. He’s one of the few Jack-of-all-trades the industry has left and Blunderbuss goes to show exactly what White is still capable of: White Stripes-esque rockers like “Sixteen Saltines,” slower introspective tracks like “Love Interruption,” and the ever-so-slight twang of the title track. The best part about Blunderbuss? The confirmation that if he can’t scratch an itch with The Dead Weather or The Raconteurs, he’ll set out on his own. There’s seemingly no stopping him and no limit to what the man can do. And only good can come from a restless spirit like White.
Hear Here: Sixteen Saltines, Trash Tongue Talker, Weep Themselves to Sleep

3. Garbage – Not Your Kind of People

garbageFree from the oppressive rule of a major label, Garbage is currently making some of the best music of their career. Impressive, though it’s not like they weren’t around the block before (Butch Vig, anyone?). Releasing this album under their own StunVolume, Not Your Kind of People feels like Garbage circa the 90’s: the production is slick (as always), the drums are mean, and Shirley Manson’s lyrics are dark, foreboding, and real, forging a bond with its audience. And those guitars on “Blood for Poppies”? What’s not to love? A lot of bands calm down by the fifth or sixth album, unplugging their guitars for quieter fare. Garbage are not those kind of people. They’re not afraid to make a balls-out, heavy and electrified track like “Battle in Me,” and I fucking love them for it. These four are a group of seasoned, under-appreciated professionals and Not Your Kind of People deserved way more fanfare, way more critical praise, and way more time in the spotlight than it was given this year. I won’t make that mistake here.
Hear HereAutomatic Systematic Habit, Battle in Me, Beloved Freak

2. Santigold – Master of My Make-Believe

220px-Santigold_-_Master_of_My_Make-BelieveIf Santigold (née Santi White, Santogold) releases an album, you put it on your top albums list. Plain and simple. No other artist is doing what she’s doing on the music scene right now, nor doing it with such grandiose artistry. Master of My Make-Believe picks up right where her debut left off, with beautiful arrangements and funky beats (thanks in part to a slew of producers including Switch, Diplo, Nick Zinner, Greg Kurstin, and more). She’s quite possibly the most eclectic artist of late as well, masterfully blending rock, pop, hip-hop, funk, and more into her own genreless concoction. Whether listening to the fierce, bouncy single “Go!” (featuring Karen O), the airy, lulling “Disparate Youth” or the bass-bumping “Look at These Hoes,” there is no mistake that you’re listening to a Santigold record, no matter how diverse the sound or message. It’s the glory of being caught off-guard; of strapping in and letting her take you for a ride from beginning to end. It’s always a breath of fresh air.
Hear Here: Disparate Youth, Go!, The Keepers

1. Fiona Apple –The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

Fiona-Apple-The-Idler-Wheel-album-cover-300x3001When Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel released back in June, I had a pretty good idea that the album would land in my Top 3 this year. As the months went by, I couldn’t shake or match that excitement. I praised it left and right in conversation, at live shows and here on the blog. What Apple accomplished tops anything else she’s ever done: it’s musically complex and puzzling, it’s terrifyingly honest, it’s dark. It’s everything we’ve ever come to love about Fiona Apple and her music, magnified. The album’s arrangements zig when you think they will zag. On first listen, the melodies are hard to grasp, yet they wash over you, leaving listeners with nothing to do but accept them and cling to them. Apple shows maturity here, both in her songwriting and her demeanor. She accepts her life as is without trying to make excuses. She’s come a long way from her “Criminal” days, and The Idler Wheel is Exhibit A, B, and C. Though it feels somewhat unsettling to listen to at times, it’s a sigh of relief that artists are still making music this interesting and this real.
Hear Here: Left Alone, Jonathan, Daredevil

Honorable Mentions: If I wasn’t such a lazy blogger, I’d expand this list to a Top 20. Here are some honorable mentions that I loved this year, but fell slightly short of the Top 10:

Mika – The Origin of Love
Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal
Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Bruno Mars – Unorthodox Jukebox
Nada Surf – The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy
Muse – The Second Law
Chairlift – Something
Green Day – Uno!

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Nada Surf Streams Live Show from Bowery Ballroom

Posted in Live Shows, Music on January 24th, 2012 by Nick

Nada Surf kicked off their tour tonight in New York City, the same day their new album, The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, hit stores. The band played with a second guitarist, Doug Gillard, and plowed through tracks from almost every album of their 20-year career.

The setlist was:

1) Clear Eye Clouded Mind*
2) Waiting for Something*
3) Happy Kid
4) Whose Authority
5) Weightless
6) Teenage Dreams*
7) What is Your Secret?
8 ) Jules and Jim*
9) Enjoy the Silence (Depeche Mode cover)
10) The Future*
11) 80 Windows
12) When I Was Young*
13) High Speed Soul
14) The Moon is Calling*
15) See These Bones
Encore
16) Blonde on Blonde
17) The Way You Wear Your Head
18) Always Love
19) Looking Through*

*indicates a new song

Despite a few feed issues during the first two songs, the rest of the show streamed almost perfectly. Killer idea too – I’d love to see more bands pick up this tactic. Streaming the first show can be a great marketing tool to sell tickets to later dates on the tour.

The band seemed stoked to be back out there playing live…especially in their hometown. I can’t wait for the April 7th show at Webster Hall when I’ll be there in person!

A review of the new album is shortly on the horizon, gentle readers. But tis late. Til then, I leave you with a quote from the new single:

When I was young, I didn’t know if I was better off asleep or up
Now I’ve grown up, I wonder what was that world I was dreaming of…

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Nada Surf, Webster Hall, NYC, 12-7-08

Posted in Live Shows on December 8th, 2008 by Nick

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In trying to sum up Sunday’s Nada Surf show at Webster Hall, these colorful adjectives come to mind: Epic. Dynamic. Mega. Insane.  Others come to mind as well, but they wouldn’t even paint a bright enough picture to describe how amazing the band was, how tight they sounded, and how professional the show was.

A Nada Surf show should be experienced by all. Yup, I said it.

It’s also worth noting how ridiculously awesome Webster Hall is. No matter where you’re standing in that joint, you have a golden view of the stage.

The “home show” set ran an hour and 45 minutes ( ! ) and included songs from each and every album of the band’s history, with “Lucky” tracks showing up most.  You could read it in the band’s faces: They were pumped to be back in New York. And they were ready to play.

Set list was as follows:

1. Hi-Speed Soul
2. Happy Kid
3. Treehouse
4. Whose Authority?
5. Weightless
6. I Like What You Say
7. Killian’s Red
8. What Is Your Secret?
9. Inside of Love
10. Beautiful Beat
11. The Fox
12. 80 Windows
13. Ice on the Wing
14. Concrete Bed
15. See These Bones
16. Your Legs Grow
17. Imaginary Friends

[Encore]

18. Blizzard of ’77
19. Do It Again
20. Blonde on Blonde
21. Always Love
22. Blankest Year

Recorded a few tracks. Wish I had gotten “Always Love” or “Blankest Year” but I was having too much fun to keep the camera steady (which I couldn’t even do during “Blizzard” because you can hear me at the end of the video complaining about my own shakiness…oops!)

Weightless

Blizzard of ’77

Inside of Love

I love Nada Surf. Every time I see them, they prove just how amazing they are and that they are 100% worthy of my devotion, time, and money. Will hopefully check them out on each and every tour from here on out.

I bought the raddest shirt, too! It being in the backseat of my car prevents a picture post – Stay tuned! Update later…

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Who's got Motley Crue tix?

Posted in Live Shows on December 4th, 2008 by Nick

I’VE GOT MOTLEY CRUE TIX !

I’ll be seeing them March 13th, at Mohegan Sun Casino, in Uncasville, CT. I saw the Carnival of Sins tour in Hartford, as well, and decades later The Crue can still pull it off.

Needless to say: I’m pumped.

MSI tomorrow in Providence.

Nada Surf in NYC on Sunday.

I will be sure to holler back with pics, vids, and way-awesome commentary and reviews!

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Rad upcoming tours

Posted in Live Shows on September 11th, 2008 by Nick

First off, Grace Potter is hitting Toad’s Place in New Haven on Sept. 26th. Apparently, this show was just announced and serves as the off-day in between Boston and NY shows (why don’t MORE BANDS COME TO CT?). For more information on how to buy tix for the CT show, check out the Toad’s site.

Other Grace Potter and the Nocturnals dates:

September 2008
7 – Jacksonville, OR – Britt Pavilion
8 – Puyallup, WA – Puyallup Fair
12 – Unity, ME – Unity Centre for the Performing Arts
13 – Fredericton, New Brunswick – Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival
20 – Mansfield, MA – Comcast Center/Farm Aid
25 – Boston, MA – Wilbur Theatre
26- New Haven, CT – Toad’s Place
27 – Troy, NY – Revolution Hall
28 – Montreal, Quebec – Petit Campus

October 2008
9 – Northampton, MA – Pearl Street Ballroom
10 – Philadelphia, PA – Fillmore at the TLA
11 – Towson, MD – Recher Theatre
12 – Millvale, PA – Mr. Small’s Theatre
17 – Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
18 – Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
19 – Nashville, TN – Exit / In
22 – Birmingham, AL – Workplay Theatre
24 – New Orleans, LA – Voodoo Music Experience
29 – Austin, TX – The Parish
31 – Dallas, TX – House of Blues

November 2008
8 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre
11 – Tucson, AZ – Club Congress
12 – Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up Tavern

January 2008
4-9 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Jam Cruise

Next up: The Fratellis are finally coming to CONNECTICUT! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO! The venue: Webster Theater, in Hartford. You can catch them across the nation throughout the fall though!

Dates are as follows:

Mon 01 Sep 2008
House of Blues, Cleveland, OH.

Tue 02 Sep 2008
Mr Smalls Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA.

Thu 04 Sep 2008
Theater of Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA.

Fri 05 Sep 2008
Roseland Ballroom, New York, NY.

Sat 06 Sep 2008
Virgin Festival, Toronto Islands Park. Toronto, ON.

Mon 08 Sep 2008
St Andrews Hall, Detroit, MI.

Tue 09 Sep 2008
Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH.

Wed 10 Sep 2008
House of Blues, Chicago, IL.

Thu 11 Sep 2008
First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN.

Sat 13 Sep 2008
Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison, CO.

Tue 16 Sep 2008
The Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA.

Wed 17 Sep 2008
Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, CA.

Thu 18 Sep 2008
House of Blues, San Diego, CA.

Wed 24 Sep 2008
Exit in, Nashville, TN.

Thu 25 Sep 2008
Parish Room, House of Blues, New Orleans, LA.

Fri 26 Sep 2008
Warehouse Live, Houston, TX.

Sat 27 Sep 2008
ACL Festival, Zilker Park, Austin, TX.

Sun 28 Sep 2008
House of Blues, Dallas, TX.

Tues 30 Sep 2008
The Loft at Center Stage, Atlanta, GA.

Wed 01 Oct 2008
Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC.

Thu 02 Oct 2008
9.30 Club, Washington, DC.

Fri 03 Oct 2008
Orpheum Theatre, Boston, MA.

Sat 04 Oct 2008
Webster Theater, Hartford, CT.

Lastly in this installment of rad upcoming tours: NADA. FUCKING. SURF! I’ve been way into the band ever since catching their live show in San Diego last March and I’m stoked they’re coming back to NYC. I plan on hitting the Oct. 7th show at the Webster, but they’re also hitting Bowery Ballroom the night before.

Dates:

09 Nov 2008

NEW YORK, NY
[ Living Room ]


Matthiew & Ira acoustic, 1pm


19 Nov 2008

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
[ Hard Rock Cafe Live ]


21 Nov 2008

DENTON, TX
[ Hailey's ]

with Delta Spirit, The Jealous Girlfriends


22 Nov 2008

AUSTIN, TX
[ Emo's ]

with Delta Sprit, The Jealous Girlfriends


24 Nov 2008

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK
[ Bricktown Ballroom ]

with Delta Spirit, The Jealous Girlfriends


25 Nov 2008

LITTLE ROCK, AR
[ Juanitas ]

with Delta Spirit, The Jealous Girlfriends


28 Nov 2008

MINNEAPOLIS, MN
[ Fine Line Music Cafe ]

with Delta Spirit, Jealous Girlfriends


29 Nov 2008

CHICAGO, IL
[ Metro ]

with Delta Spirit, The Jealous Girlfriends


02 Dec 2008

BOSTON, MA
[ Paradise ]

with Delta Spirit, The Jealous Girlfriends


04 Dec 2008

PHILADELPHIA, PA
[ Trocadero ]

with Jealous Girlfriends


05 Dec 2008

WASHINGTON, DC
[ 9:30 Club ]

with Jealous Girlfriends


06 Dec 2008

NEW YORK, NY
[ Bowery Ballroom ]

with Delta Sprit


07 Dec 2008

NEW YORK, NY
[ Webster Hall ]

with Delta Spirit


08 Dec 2008

HOBOKEN, NJ
[ Maxwell's ]

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