Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Live!: Bowerbirds with Des Ark and Death Vessel at the Bowery Ballroom

Roughly two hours after the concert began, Phil Moore, Beth Tacular, and Yan Westerlund aka Bowerbirds take to the stage at the Bowery Ballroom.
Their appearance silences the previous rowdy crowd of excited concertgoers and those who had plied themselves with alcohol to ease the wait. The trio is joined by backup instrumentalists Mark Paulson (their old multi-instrumentalist before Westerlund) and first time tour band mate Rachel Rollins.
After each member takes one of the several instruments strategically scattered around the stage, audience cheers launch the band into their first song “Dark Horse” whose reference to New York rouses an even more excited audience response.
After previous acts Aimee Argote of Des Ark and Death Vessel’s slower, calmer, and more somber sets; the Bowerbirds toe-tapping full band arrangements were a welcome change. Various instruments including homemade marimba, bass drum, violin, and electric guitar compliment the band’s standard accordion, guitar, and drum kit.
The band delivered multi-textured, driving renditions of such favorites as “Northern Lights”, “Teeth”, and “Beneath Your Tree”; not often heard songs such as “La Denigracion” and “Matchstick Maker” (bonus tracks off their 2007 debut Hymns for a Dark Horse); and introducing two new songs the band had premiered only days before (“Brave World” and another unnamed song).
Between songs, members zigzagged across the stage, switching instruments and readying themselves for each song which they played with remarkably practiced precision. Feedback problems during the very first song from the accordion and later from the electric bass’ pickup were the only blemishes on the bands magical transportation from the crowded city venue.
The band offered up light stage banter revealing the winners of a beard contest they held before playing the last few songs of their set. Aside from the cheering that both preceded and followed it, the band’s last song “House of Diamonds” was met with appreciative silence by the crowd followed by unwavering applause that ushered the band’s reemergence for a two song encore (“Hooves” and “My Oldest Memory”).

If you haven’t seen Bowerbirds live in concert, I strongly suggest you do. Their performance was awe-inspiring, uplifting, fun, engaging, and almost terrifying for its ability to make you forget where you were. Whereas I initially had doubts about how the band’s intimate sound would do in a larger venue, their rustic upbeat folk songs erased all thought of the crowded venue and filled the hall to the brim with nature-inspired sound.
The band’s playing was surprisingly precise especially considering how many instruments each member played per concert (with the exception of guitarist/vocalist Phil Moore, the rest of the band averaged about 3 each).
Their support consisted of talented and capable songwriters with emotion-evoking skills and great onstage presences. Aimee Argote’s onstage banter an obvious concert highlights as she explained the reason her songs were so short, described her job as a songwriter and concert opener, and countered a concertgoer’s request for her to take off her pants with a hilarious “How much money do you have?”.
Death Vessel was Argote’s opposite. His songs were soft and often twice as long, requiring patience and focus to really get them. Whereas Argote’s playing included volume-play and was firmly rooted on Earth, Death Vessel’s voice with its soul-rousing tenor soared ever upwards.
Discovering Bowerbirds about a year ago, I had been eagerly anticipating the moment I could see them in concert; studying their songs and lyrics with an almost obsessive fervor. Their uniqueness which drew me to them is the same reason I thoroughly enjoyed their concert. Instead of shambling onstage playing the same arrangements, the addition of the new uncommon instruments assured they would maintain the audience’s attention as well as displaying the band’s versatility. Seeing Bowerbirds live transformed my fanboy obsession into full blown respect and cemented their place as a definite contender as one of my favorite bands.

Watch: Daft Punk - "Derezzed"

So earlier in the year it was revealed that French techno-pop duo Daft Punk were working on the soundtrack for Disney's Tron Legacy. The latest trailer for the movie featuring one of their songs was just released and surprisingly the trailer is also the music video for the new track called "Derezzed".
The track is pretty short, clocking in at a little over a minute and a half, which while not out of place for a trailer, kind of is for a music video, and a track from Daft Punk. The track itself fits in pretty well with the futuristic movie while also sounding like what they'd make on their own.
The music video/trailer is pretty much what'd you expect, including dazzling visuals of what fans can expect from the new technological innovations that enabled the movie while also featuring the duo themselves, momentarily.

Knowing that the duo plans on releasing the soundtrack commercially, I can't really argue about song length because there's a possibility that it could be longer. And really that's the only thing that I really find wrong with the trailer/music video/track. But like all trailers do, the video got me super pumped for Tron Legacy. So for that, kudos.

Watch the video:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Eardrums Pop release second digital single

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Eardrums Pop latest free digital single is from Finnish band Paperfangs. The band creates sparkly dream-pop not unlike first digital single artist Tiny Fireflies, except Paperfangs involves noticeable use of electronics and is much more upbeat. The second single features the two original songs "The Fastest Planes" and "The Vastest Plains" followed by a cover of US duo Kiss Kiss Fantastic's "Violet. They're certainly a talented bunch as they even made their own cover art. Learn more about the artists, the project, and download the single here.

Listen to the Paperfangs' digital single:
Paperfangs - ePop006 - digital single by EardrumsPop

Monday, October 18, 2010

Now Streaming: NPR unveils 24 hour music channel.

So NPR continues to be awesome by introducing the All Songs 24/7 Music Channel. I've only been listening for about an hour by I've already experience quite an eclectic blend of music. My first foray into the station was "Common People" by William Shatner followed by "Section 1" by The Polyphonic Spree. Where else can you hear that sort of mash up? Nowhere, really. Since then there has been songs from artists such as Beirut, Santigold, Salif Keita, and Gang of Four. I was introduced to some artists I haven't heard of before but were linked to other I did know about by good music and good timing. Listen to NPR's 24 hour music station here.

Ingrid Michaelson releases "Parachute" video

After writing the song, deeming it too poppy, and it finding its way to British pop star Cheryl Cole, Ingrid Michaelson has reclaimed the track. Released as a single last month, today the video premiered at EW.com. The video directed by Adria Petty (who also directed Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams" and Duffy's "Mercy" videos) features Michaelson as a jet-pack wearing Indiana Jones-like adventurer and is markedly different than Cole's high fashion, choreographed endeavor. The track is still a bit poppy and yet somehow works for Michaelson, who trades in her trademark glasses for styled hair and make-up, in a way that's still enjoyable and sincere as her other productions. You can see the recently premiered video here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Freelance Whales release new track "Enzymes"

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Queens indie pop quintet Freelance Whales recently released new track "Enzymes" for Green Label Sound. The track features heavier drums than anything Weathervanes listeners would have been exposed to and has these overlapping intertwining vocals while still using their typical build-up formula. Each instrument is clear and fits together to create this rather dark sounding contemplative gem. Give "Enzymes" a listen here.

Eardrums Pop releases first digital single!

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Norway based blog Eardrums Music's net label Eardrums Pop kicked off the week by releasing their first ever digital single. The single is the first in a series of free monthly digital releases the net label will be releasing. The single from Tiny Fireflies consists of two original "Holding Pattern" and "Snow", and a cover of the Claudine Longet version of Skeeter Davis' "End of the World" as well as cover art by UK illustator Minkee. You can get more info on the project, the single, and the artists' at Eardrums Pop here.

Listen to the digital single:
Tiny Fireflies - ePop005 - digital single by EardrumsPop

Saturday, October 9, 2010

My Little Pony release "Hard to Be Good"

Norwegian folk pop quintet My Little Pony (whom I first discovered on an Eardrums Music blog compilation) recently released their first single from their upcoming album, Making Marks, earlier this week. The single, "Hard to Be Good", comes with covers of Nomber 5's "Harry Hamlin" and The Jackson Five's "I Want You Back", its bright and sunny and is sure to remind listeners of warm sunny days when things get colder (and the album is released in the winter). The video for the single, is bright, colorful, and even a little nonsensical with marching bands, rollerblading costumed girls , a sea of balloon, and an old man scientist that brings it all together. Enjoy the video for "Hard to Be Good":

My Little Pony - Hard To Be Good from simen&synne on Vimeo.

Punch Brothers - Antifogmatic

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My discovery of Punch Brothers was one of those happy little accidents that occurred when browsing through Rolling Stone to see if anything interesting was mentioned. It was in fact: There was an article mentioning Punch Brothers and their habit to perform covers from all sorts of bands like The Carter Family, Radiohead, The Strokes, even some Mozart and Bach. Well that peaked my interest as to how a so-called bluegrass band would do all these covers. A few minutes later I was sampling their CD and really liked what I heard. Punch Brothers' Antifogmatic might be one of the most epic albums I've listened to in quite some time, if not my whole life. Why's this? Well sure they have this bluegrass instrumental assortment of mandolin, guitar, double bass, banjo, and fiddle but it's how they use them that really captivates you. Each instrument has its place in adding to the overall feel of the song: whether its the chops and glissando of the fiddle in "You Are". "Don't Need No" features fiddle player Gabe Witcher on lead vocals and describes the structure in the first verse: "Don't need no chorus, cash, or candy now". Instead, the chorus-less song is mostly instrumental featuring flashy virtuosic displays from each band member within its 4 minute time frame. You'd never guess the song is merely about having a friend who happens to be a bartender because the song is just too interesting for something so mundane. "Rye Whiskey" with its group shout vocals, lyrics about the strong influence of alcohol, and swaggering sounds like your typical bluegrass fare and yet something about it is different.

The album is jam-packed with all these great musical moments and gives the impression that it's more about conveying the feeling of the song than adhering to any strict style which why it sometimes diverts from hoe-down party bluegrass ("Me and Us" being the prime example). The album does a wonderful job of providing an eclectic blend of songs whether its the good-times party type ("Don't Need No"), ballads ("Alex" "Missy"), adventurous epics ("Woman and the Bell"), and everything in between. Its an album for everyone, even if bluegrass isn't particularly your thing. Give Punch Brothers an listen in this live video of album opener "You Are":