I got a fevah…

31 07 2007

and more cowbell is definitely not the right prescription.

so I just finished some delicious hummus and I’m starting to feel better, but I didn’t make it to the Tokyo Police Club show last night like I thought I would, so don’t expect a write-up about it.. I’m really pretty bummed about it to tell the truth, because I like art-rock and Ra Ra Riots is really quite good and Tokyo Police Club is amazinggg as well.
C’est la vie!

In other news, the countdown has begun: only 10 days left in Houston! Unbelievable, really.





Bishop Allen with Page France at The Proletariat (June 26, 2007)

29 07 2007

First off, sorry for the late post and sorry for the lack of good photos… my cameras (both!) are on the fritz.

Let me say that as this was my first time to go to The Proletariat, I was impressed. It’s a really cool, intimate venue, and the bartender doesn’t get all pissy when you ask for water (I’m looking at you, bartender at Numbers… asshole. If you want me to pay for water, then ask for money. Simple as that.)
Plus they’ve got pool tables. What more can you ask for?

While my concert experience started on Thursday night, for my dear friend Laura and her boyfriend Jim, it started the night before when they mistakenly showed up, played pool for a couple hours, and were told they were gonna have to pay, “like, 5 bucks” before they realized there was no show that night.

So come the 26th, the real date of the concert, I met up with Laura, Jim, Scott, and Scott’s friend Cory in the Washington Mutual parking lot across the street from the Proletariat.

It was an early show – starting around 7:00 – and so we waited for the first act, The Teeth, to finish before Page France took the stage.

Michael Nau of Page France

I had never listened to, or even heard of Page France before the show (I was going for Bishop Allen) and they absolutely blew me away.
Vocalist and guitarist Michael Nau leads the group, which is now comprised of backup vocalist Whitney McGraw, Clinton Jones, and Jason Reeder, as well as a few others who help flesh out the group’s sound in the studio. Their sound was described to me as “squeaky clean pop,” which I guess is somewhat true, but their lyrics reveal more depth than that. To me, their sound seems be reminiscent of both Death Cab and The Decemberists – it all depends on the album and the song.

The majority of their set was pulled from their 2005 album Hello, Dear Wind.
Highlights included the songs “Elephant,” “Hat and Rabbit,” and they closed with “Chariot,” at the request of Laura and Jim.

“You know you want to!” Jim yelled, to which Nau responded, “No.. I really don’t. But we’ll play it anyway.”
That, in a nutshell is what is great about a band like Page France.. they are in it to see their fans happy.

Which, in a way, leads me to Bishop Allen.

Whitney McGraw of Page France


Justin Rice and Christian Rudder are Bishop Allen, a twosome out of Brooklyn whose second full-length but first studio album, The Broken String, came out on July 24 on Dead Oceans Records. On this album, and the supporting tour, they are joined by Cully Symington and Darbie Nowatka.

Bishop Allen has been a pretty upbeat band – their 2003 self-released album Charm School was pretty happy, and the majority of the 12 EP’s they released (one per month of 2006) were happy. The Broken String, while definitely not downer-rock by any means, sounds more mature and introspective than Charm School.

Justin Rice of Bishop Allen

Just about all the songs they played, if not all the songs, were from their latest album – an album that includes what I believe to be one of the better songs ever written about the Battle of Hampton Roads (or the Battle of the Monitor and Merrimack). “The Monitor” is the album opener, a soulful and emotional song that sets the tone for the rest of the album.

Other highlights include “The Chinatown Bus,” the ultimately triumphant “Flight 180,” and the simple but beautiful “Butterfly Nets,” on which Darbie Nowatka steps out from behind the keys and takes the mic. “Corazon,” a love song about a jilted piano, with a sound that, like the subject, is a departure from the norm. “Rain,” a song that Symington dedicated to the Gulf Coast weather system, seems fitting for us Houstonians right now, with the lyrics, “if it’s ever gonna get any better, it’s gotta get worse for a day.”

Bishop Allen kept the crowd captivated (except for Cory, who is unfortunately a rap-only kind of guy) and ended the night at 10 so that some DJ could come on. A long line of fans looking for merch greeted Rudder after the show.

I bought their new CD and was kind of stunned by the less than welcome response from Rudder and Rice when I asked them to sign it. Perhaps I have been spoiled by a pretty long run of extremely nice artists, but come on guys.. I’m a fan who waited until everyone cleared out for you to make a couple squiggly motions with a pen. Give me a break.

However, I won’t let Bishop Allen’s dismissive attitude keep me from singing their praises – the new CD is really good, with plenty of jangly guitar and tambourine to go around.

Buy Page France’s older CD Hello, Dear Wind here, or buy their new album here.
Buy Bishop Allen’s The Broken String here.





Don’t You Just Love the Sun?

23 07 2007

Don’t you just love the sun?
Doesn’t it make you feel good all over?

Go outside, Houston – there’s no rain today!

And listen to Pedro the Lion’s “Indian Summer.” (via SendSpace)





Mixtape

21 07 2007

“Rainbow Sherbet”is up here.

Tracklist:

1. Dan the Automator – “Anchor Man”
2. The Rapture – “The Devil”
3. Beck – “Black Tambourine”
4. Menomena – “Nebali”
5. Rufus Wainwright – “Instant Pleasure”
6. Menomena – “Evil Bee”
7. Bat for Lashes – “What’s a Girl to Do?”
8. DJ STV SLV – “La Femme d’Monsieur Jones” (Air vs. Mike Jones mash)
9. Lupe Fiasco – “Kick Push”
10. Feist – “1 2 3 4”
11. The Hold Steady – “Chips Ahoy!”
12. P.O.S. – “Music for Shoplifting”
13. Devendra Banhart – “Little Yellow Spider”
14. Malajube – “Pate Filo”
15. Sound Team – “No More Birthdays”
16. Brian Wilson – “Roll Plymouth Rock”
17. Akron/Family – “Running, Returning”
18. SOR COMP – “Don Mattingly”
19. MGMT – “Time to Pretend”
20. Justice – “The Party”

*edit: if anyone knows of something better/faster than Sendspace to send files through (for free, preferably) please let me know.





Sacco, Blitzen Trapper, and David Vandervelde at Walter’s (July 18, 2007)

20 07 2007

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From left: Michael Van Pelt, Brian Koch, Eric Earley, Drew Laughery, and Marty Marquis of Blitzen Trapper

 

After nodding to the crowd of frowning, crew-cut sporting lesbians that appears to congregate more frequently in the parking lot of Community Gospel Church than within it’s gay-friendly doors, I walked the short but sketchy route to Walter’s to see one of my recent personal faves: Blitzen Trapper.
Tickets were $8 at the door, and the smile I received at the ticket counter when I presented my hands to be x-ed out was the first sign of the night’s terrifying reality: at 18, I was the youngest concert-goer there. Sweet.

Normally this would have sucked just enough for me to leave, but I instead opted to wait around, sip my water, and watch as the crowd collectively lowered their risk of Parkinson’s.

 

Sacco opened the show at 9:30 (the requisite 30 minutes later than the time posted at the door) to the amount of fan-fare one would expect as a random opener on a Wednesday night.
Actually, the only person who seemed really into Sacco from the beginning was a cowboy boots wearing cougar. Lead singer Marshall stuck in there though, aware that no one knew who they were and that the crowd of about forty had really come to see Blitzen Trapper and David Vandervelde.

Sacco played an all-acoustic set which, though consistently pretty good, picked up slightly after the aforementioned cougar-in-boots bought the guys a couple of Walter’s $2 Hump Day Drink Specials. “No clear liquor” was the band’s only request.
They kept their set short and sweet, and, sadly, left the venue before Blitzen Trapper had finished.

After a quick swap of guitars and amps, Blitzen Trapper took the stage.

For the uninitiated, Blitzen Trapper is a band out of Portland whose energy, attitude, and incredible niceness (like that their fellow Portland, Oregonians The Thermals and Menomena) make for a great show. I am beginning to believe that all artists should come from Portland.
Vocalist and guitarist Eric Earley, whose voice is reminiscent of The Shins’ James Mercer, leads the band and the rest of the group is comprised of Erik Menteer (guitar, keyboard), Michael VanPelt (bass), Brian Koch (drums), Drew Laughery (keyboard), and Marty Marquis (vocals, keys, maracas).

The sextet filled Walter’s 15’x25’ stage easily, though the tight quarters did nothing to lessen the spastic dancing of Marquis – who, unless he did laundry on the way down from Dallas yesterday, and has a very tight wear-wash-wear cycle, has worn the same yellow Coor’s “Glass of ‘76” shirt twice in a row – a fact I dismissed once I caught a glimpse of his maroon Chums. What a man.

BT played a solid set, covering the majority of their new album Wild Mountain Nation, as well as crowd-pleaser “Texaco” and a few others off of their 2003 self-titled debut.
Jumping styles between energetic stomps like “Wild Mountain Nation” and more soulful, borderline surf-rock, Blitzen Trapper kept the crowd on their toes. Towards the middle of the set, the guys brought it down to about 30 bpm on a track that Laughery wrote, channeling the Flaming Lips in the best way possible.

One David Vandervelde fan who I talked to at the bar early on in the night even came up to me, rubbing my back a little too much and, grinning, said, “You’re right! Who are these guys? They are good…”

I inched slowly away from that creeper as the band led into “Appletrees” and “Reno” to end the set.

After their show, the band manned the merch table, which featured thrift-store threads silk-screened by hand by Erik Menteer. The band seemed excited, if not a little bit overwhelmed, by the love they got from the fans who surrounded them for autographs.

“I love Houston,” Earley said as we talked, smiling warmly as he rolled a cigarette – the end of a good night.

 

p7190270.jpg

 

Buy Blitzen Trapper’s Wild Mountain Nation here.

Get a free mp3 of “Wild Mountain Nation” off of the album Wild Mountain Nation by clicking here.
Get a free mp3 of “Texaco” off of the album Blitzen Trapper by clicking here.





St. Vincent and Scout Niblett at Walter’s (July 8, 2007)

10 07 2007

Dallas native Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent)

 

“It wasn’t so much the vocals as the polyphonic wailing…”
– William, on why he left the St. Vincent show early

A mere two days before St. Vincent’s absolutely incredible album Marry Me dropped, and I was shocked by the turn-out to see Scout Niblett and St. Vincent at Walter’s on Sunday night – in more ways than one.

While Scout Niblett has not made much of a splash here in the states, her music is supposedly doing a little better back in her native England. Emma Louise Niblett, who performs under the name “Scout,” is a singer-songwriter who plays either the drums or the guitar. Not to knock Niblett, but a little enthusiasm goes a long way on stage. Her sound is hard to peg – like Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick crossed with Cat Power on a lot of downers.
The only song that anyone seemed to like was “Dinosaur Egg,” and most were confused by “Pom-Poms” during which she stopped playing guitar completely, shuffled to the back of the stage, appeared to pop a handful of pills, and sat down to play drums. All in all, it was a pretty forgettable performance and I am glad I didn’t spend my money on her CD.

Niblett’s set lasted a long 45 minutes, but she cleared out quickly as the excitement grew before St. Vincent took the stage.

The past few years have been pretty good for St. Vincent. At 24, Annie Clark (as she is known off-stage) has toured with the likes of Sufjan Stevens and the Polyphonic Spree, playing guitar for both, and has opened for The Arcade Fire, John Vanderslice, and Xiu Xiu, among others. Now, starting off on her first tour as a headliner, St. Vincent is finally earning the praise that she so deserves.

I was a bit disappointed to see that she only sang and played guitar and bass during her live show – I say “only” because her credits on Marry Me are listed as “vocals, guitar, bass, piano, organ, moog [a type of synth whose name rhymes with “vogue”], synthesizer, clavietta, xylophone, vibraphone, dulcimer, drum programmer, triangle, [and] percussion.” Simply put, Annie Clark rocks.
So why oh why then was there such a small crowd? Granted, it was a Sunday night, but I really expected her to draw an audience much larger than the one of roughly sixty or so that was in attendance. The fact that no less than one fifth of the crowd was made up of members of either Episcopal High School’s class of ’06 or class of ’07 (woo!) was extremely amusing and just goes to show – you wanna be one of the cool kids? Listen to St. Vincent… now take a hit of this… come on, man, everybody’s doing it.

The fact that this is St. Vincent’s first time as a headliner would certainly be surprising to anyone who was at her Houston show… she had incredible stage presence and took time to talk with the crowd between songs, although she did have to be reminded to thank Scout Niblett for opening… a little bit unprofessional, but I definitely don’t blame her. The only thing she seemed actually nervous about was her album artwork:
“My CD is on sale over there,” she said during a break, “it’s the one with my face on it, so you can’t miss it. If you buy it, then, after the show, I’ll actually personally deface it for you… throw on some prison tattoos, or maybe like an eye-patch. ‘Cus that’s just the kind of artist I am…”

“I thought we’d do something right now,” she said at one point between songs, “I’m not sure if you know, but the Flaming Lips always do all these amazing things in concert, so I wanted to do something like that and hand out cough syrup to you at the door. So, go see that man back there, get yourself some, and then we’ll take things down to about 20 BPM and just let you ride that wave…” The SuperUnison rep at the ticket counter appeared flustered as the crowd turned to see if her offer was legit, and nervously laughed it off when she continued, “… No, not really.”

Joined on-stage by violinist Daniel Hart, drummer Brian Teasley, and a bassist/guitarist/clavietta player whose name I didn’t catch (was it Mark?), St. Vincent played through Marry Me in its entirety (the album is only 45 minutes long) – ending the show with a live version of “Paris Is Burning” that was nothing short of amazing.

Also included in the set was a song that has not yet been released, titled “Bang, Bang.”

“We’ve played a lot of love songs up here tonight,” she said to hoots from the crowd, “but it’s time we changed things up. This is a song about murder.”
Played without any back up, “Bang, Bang” was a hit with the crowd, and I would not be surprised if it is released later in the year as a single/B-side. In fact, I would be thrilled.

After the show, Annie Clark was more than happy to sign CDs, and was especially excited to see that people were buying Marry Me on vinyl.

And while I settled for an autograph, Clark was true to her word and gave my friend Susie’s CD cover an eye-patch. Because she’s just that kind of artist.

 

 

 

Read what The New York Times has to say about Marry Me here.

Buy St. Vincent’s Marry Me here.