August 2010


Cut Copy released a song about a month ago from their new, as yet to be titled, album to be released early next year.  I was a pretty big fan of their last album, “Ghost Colours”, with its collection of keyboard and synth-driven electro-pop anthems which just begged to be danced to.

The new single, “Where I’m Going”, starts off fairly innocuously for the first 15 seconds or so, and then the rhythm breaks into something completely unexpected.  It’s a more organic sound, much different from anything on “Ghost Colours”, and is somewhat reminiscent of an upbeat version of Doves – very British sounding.  That’s not to say that it completely turns its back on electronica – there is a great interlude about 2/3rds of the way through which uses some heavy reverb with some 60’s era carnival-like riffs to great effect.  But ultimately, if the rest of this album is like this, you’ll be more likely to see  fans fervently fist-pumping than ecstatically dancing.  Which frankly, isn’t a bad thing – ultimately the new single’s sound is a bit unexpected, but the quality and liveliness of the track should be no surprise.

[mp3] Cut Copy – Where I’m Going (click-through to website)

One thing the consulting industry is often criticized for (and sometimes rightly so, I can say as a former consultant) is the tendency to apply a “one size fits all” solution to clients.  Which leads me to wonder – are Yeasayer and MGMT using music video consultants?  I mean, within a week of each other, each releases a music video chronicling the last hours of a weird, creepy, animal/monster hybrid as its main focus.

It’s as if there is some music video consultant out there saying,  “You know what’s hot right now?  Disgusting fleshy quasi-animals dying.  Trust me on this one – I’ll make you a star.”  If my theory holds, LCD Soundsystem and Ra Ra Riot both release music videos within the next month featuring the unholy love child of an emu and Krang from Teenage Mutant  Ninja Turtles.  Wait for it…

Arcade Fire recently released a video for Suburbs’ single “Ready to Start” featuring live black and white footage of the band.  For those who haven’t been to an Arcade Fire show, the vid is a pretty good capture of what goes on and what the band feels like live – for those who have been, expect a flood of memories from your last show.  You’ve got the intense crowd participation, an impossibly high number of musicians playing a wide variety of instruments, some “Wake Up”-esque drum beating, and even some implied guitar smashing from Win.

While the video may not generate heaps of buzz for originality (like the super weird new Yeasayer video for “Madder Red“), it remains a faithful representation of the band and manages to come off as distinctly Arcade Fire.

Within a week, your intrepid musical explorer will cease to be “just someone from Toronto who wants to share artists and music” and will become “just someone in Boston who wants to share artists and music”.  Now admittedly, this cross-border move is a pretty big deal for me, so to coincide with the move and keep me in a positive “moving mood”, I’ve compiled an appropriate mini moving mix.  Enjoy.

[mp3] The New Pornographers – Moves

[mp3] Not An Airplane – As He Moved Away

[mp3] Suckers – It Gets Your Body Movin’

[mp3] John Denver – Leaving on a Jet Plane

And a bonus (perhaps most appropriate)…

Radical Face is Ben Cooper, a Floridian who released his debut album entitled “Ghost” in 2007.  While the album’s original release escaped my attention, I’ve since been put on to one of the tracks off of that album entitled “Welcome Home”.  It’s a really beautiful and soothing arrangement, and actually reminds me a lot of one of my favourite songs, The Shins‘ “New Slang”.  This song feels like the end of a long journey, as the title would suggest.  The rhymtic clapping and stomping percussion brings to mind the sound of a train passing over railroad ties, and the chorus is just a jubilant homecoming celebration.  Fantastic song.

[mp3] Radical Face – Welcome Home

As some of you may have noticed, it’s been a while since there has been a post here at Mister Managers’ Marvelous Music Mblog.  The reason for this is that I have been otherwise occupied attending the wonderful Lollapalooza festival this past weekend.  Overall, the festival was amazingly well run, took place at an amazing venue (Grant Park in downtown Chicago), and had great weather throughout.  Over the course of three days, I managed to catch 15 acts, with the following highlights:

Chromeo

I found myself at Chromeo’s Friday evening set partially because of convenience (I had just seen Hot Chip at an adjacent stage), and partially due to a friend’s recommendation.  Beyond seeing half of an opening set of theirs about 3 years ago, I didn’t know any of their material, but found myself dancing, whooping, and hollering along with the rest of the crowd for their entire set.  The self-proclaimed “only successful Arab/Jewish collaboration since the beginning of time” sure know how to please an audience and give everyone a fun time.  I think the recipe is something like 2 parts infectious beats, 1 part audience participation, a dash of absurdly synthy auto-tuned vocals, and for dessert, an unbelievably fun cover of Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing” (“I Want My Chro-me-ooo”).  Needless to say, I’m just one of the new fans that Chromeo inevitably has after Friday’s great set.

[mp3] Chromeo – Fancy Footwork

Metric

Emily Haines and company had a huge crowd present for their Saturday evening set, and used it to their full advantage, with both the audience and the band feeding off of each other’s energy.  The crowd was a bit of a mix of newer fans and the Canadian faithful, but the band managed to play to both groups in turn, with exhilarating performances of “Help I’m Alive” early on in the set and “Gold Guns Girls” later on for newer fans, and some special treats for long-time fans like “Dead Disco” and an intimate acoustic version of “Combat Baby” to close off the set.  The latter was particularly enthralling and intimate.  Well, as intimate as you can get when playing to a crowd of 40,000…

[mp3] Metric – Dead Disco

Green Day

Chalk up another surprise Lollapalooza highlight.  I originally wasn’t even planning on going to this show due to conflicts with Cut Copy and Phoenix in the Saturday headlining spot, but my inner adolescent from 10-15 years ago won out and boy, am I glad that it did.  Green Day’s marathon 150 minute set was just pure rock-n-roll – it was blissfully obvious that when it comes to riling up audiences, Green Day has learned a thing or two in the last 16 years.  From an over/under count of ~200 on saying the word “Chicago”, to bringing fans up on stage for stage diving and Longview singing, to gratuitous pyrotechnics, to classic rock medleys, to the double-encore, it was all there.  The combination of an extra long set and relatively short songs allowed Billy Joe and friends to power through an amazing 30 songs, leaving no favourite left unplayed.  At the end of the night, it was clear to all who attended that this was no “mail-it-in” performance that so often occurs when older legacy bands headline a big festival show.  Despite having nothing to prove, Green Day decided to go out and prove something anyways.

Picture of fan stage-diving:

Image from You Ain’t No Picasso

Arcade Fire

Prior to their Lollapalooza show, I had already seen Arcade Fire on three separate occasions, so suffice it to say, I already had sky-high expectations that this would be my festival highlight.  Staking out a good spot in front of the stage required standing around from 4PM onwards without any bathroom or food breaks and missing the sets of Frightened Rabbit and The National, but in the end it was all worth it.  The crowd, and in particular the fans who staked out spots near the stage, were fantastic, and the material from the just-released album “The Suburbs” sounded great live.  Of particular note was the thundering “Rococo” and the dark, danceable, disco-esque “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” which featured a powerful vocal performance from Regine.  Other highlights were 50,000 hands waving in the air during “Crown of Love”, and Win’s spoken intro hoping that the crowd had saved some energy before shouting out the count into the “Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)”/”Rebellion (Lies)” one-two punch.  Speaking of Win, despite having a seemingly distant and aloof persona, he appeared to be genuinely touched at one point in the show when he spoke of how intimidating it is to go out in front of a massive crowd with brand new material, but also how amazing it was to have a crowd sing along to every song, new and old.  All in all, it was truly a memorable night, and a fitting coming out party for the new album.

[mp3] Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

And some early footage of the show…

April Smith is a Brooklyn songwriter with a sassy streak.  Her clever, witty, and cute lyrics team up with catchy instrumentals to create a memorable and addictive combination.  “Movie Loves A Screen” is like being transported to a playful, bouncy, Hawaiian Luau, except one where someone has managed to sneak in a brass section and where everyone has unanimously decide to do away with the traditional hip-swinging Luau dance and is instead swing-dancing.  So join in on the fun by stepping outside, throwing in some headphones, and strut-dancing your way down the sidewalk.

[mp3] April Smith and The Great Picture Show – Movie Loves A Screen