A Concert Update

I hope everyone is doing well and settling into the winter season as the first month of 2017 draws to a close. With the end of January I find myself determined to hold my resolutions for the new year, and also with quite an exciting update for my summer concert schedule.

You may’ve heard already that U2 is planning on touring “The Joshua Tree” album in its entirety worldwide this summer, and I am thrilled to say that I will be going to one of the shows for my second time seeing them live. U2 was one of my first favourite bands back when I was really getting into music and developing my own taste. I distinctly remember being assigned to read a biography of my choice as part of my reading class in 7th grade and choosing to read about Bono because of how much I admired his lyricism on early U2 releases (a very distinct memory of mine being the first time I learned the meaning behind the song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and couldn’t focus on my lessons in school the next day because I kept playing the song over and over in my head). My first time seeing them-in 2011, on the U2 360 tour-is to this day on of the best nights of my life.

It may seem sacrilegious to say “The Joshua Tree” isn’t my favourite U2 album (I’m weird-I actually love their 90’s sound. Of course I think “Achtung Baby” is a masterpiece, and I actually really love “Zooropa” too. And “Boy” holds a special place in my heart), but I still can’t wait to hear songs like “In God’s Country” and “Trip Through Your Wires” live.

While I may not be nearly as much of a fanatic of a fan as I was when I was 13, I’m still thrilled to see the band that kickstarted my alt-rock fascination when I was a kid. I’ve definitely grown and matured since that 2011 show. Seeing again at a more mature and “adult” age a band that played such a crucial role in my adolescence will be a surreal experience, especially since I’m seeing them at the exact same venue with the exact same people. I eagerly await sharing about it on here and posting pictures.

Second in my summer concert lineup, and the night immediately after U2, I will be seeing Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds with two huge Nick Cave fans (my dad and his best friend). This show I’m excited about for several reasons. First, it’s the complete opposite of U2’s venue-Nick Cave will be playing in an indoor concert hall where I saw Morrissey a few years back, a much more intimate venue than the outdoor arena where U2 will be. I think this works perfectly for the moody, rumbling, melancholy approach Nick Cave takes to indie rock.

Second, Nick Cave has always been one of those artists that is an indie rock flagship I was told I would “appreciate when I was older,” and I think I’m finally old enough to do some deeper exploration into his influential and established history. I’ve been meaning to listen to more of his back catalogue because I think his lyrical style and musicianship is something I would appreciate. I’ve heard Cave doesn’t shy away from exploring dark themes and emotions in his music, which as a writer, is something I’ve loved in bands from The Smiths (one of my all-time favourite bands) to Joy Division to Arcade Fire to Car Seat Headrest and The Orwells. Hopefully the show will be a great introduction.

And, as I’ve said in a previous post, early next month I will be seeing Lucy Dacus and Hamilton Leithauser live in a smaller venue, which I’m very excited for. I’m especially anticipating Dacus’s set because I missed her at Lolla, I love her debut so much and seeing women and people around my age in indie rock makes me happy. I’ll be sharing pictures and reflections on that, too.

What shows will you be seeing this year? Any you are particularly excited for? Will you be seeing any of these artists on their summer tours?

As always, thank you for reading, and God bless you and yours.

-A.L.D.

The Fitness Playlist Part 2

Last year/semester I did a post about my fitness playlist I listen to while working out at school. In honor of the Spring 2017 semester starting, here is another playlist I’ve been jamming to and adding to while working out at home over my Winter Break.

  1. My Type/Saint Motel
  2. The House That Heaven Built/Japandroids
  3. WOW/Beck
  4. Radio/Sylvan Esso
  5. Life Itself/Glass Animals
  6. Sick Beat/Kero Kero Bonito
  7. Don’t Save Me/HAIM
  8. Bury It/CHVRCHES
  9. Girls Like You/The Naked and Famous
  10. Beast Monster Thing (Love isn’t Love Enough)/Car Seat Headrest
  11. Wolves (You’ve Got Me)/DREAMERS
  12. The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie/Red Hot Chili Peppers
  13. Express Yourself/N.W.A.
  14. Frontier Psychiatrist/The Avalanches
  15. Black Francis/The Orwells
  16. Never Be Mine/Angel Olsen
  17. To Know You/Wild Nothing
  18. Boys Life/Small Black
  19. Face Down in the Gutter of Your Love/Dent May
  20. Get Innocuous!/LCD Soundsystem

For a playlist containing these songs and more, follow me on Spotify and check out my playlist titled “time4coolstuff.” My username is aldavies-us.

For those who are headed back to school like myself, best of luck in your semester and I hope you are successful in all your involvements.

As always, thank you for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.

If I Could go to Coachella…

The announcement of the Coachella lineup is always a sad day for someone like me living in Ohio and confined to the final weeks of classes without room for a vacation just yet.

However, I always do enjoy making hypothetical lists of the artists I would enjoy seeing there, and fortunately for those who are able to attend, the setlist is stacked with talent. Here’s my top ten must-see artists if I could go to Coachella.

10.) Glass Animals

Glass Animals were at Lollapalooza 2015 and I refused to go see their show, writing it off as “not my cup of tea” because I didn’t like the song “Gooey.” Since then I have thankfully gotten over myself. The percussion and energy level in each track on their new record was enough to change my mind.

9.) Whitney

I enjoyed Smith Westerns, so I’m pleased Whitney sprang from their breakup. The upper range of singer Julien Ehrlich’s voice works to his advantage for both songs that make you want to skip with glee (“Wherever We Go”) and dismally reminisce about the one that got away (“No Woman”). I like the balance of acoustic and electric instrumentation as well as the occasional horn performance.

8.) Real Estate

Real Estate is the kind of band you want to soundtrack your November evening drives as you ponder the direction your life has taken over the year. I love how their songs layer repeating riffs on top of each other to make melodic, peaceful, soothing jams.

7.) Father John Misty

Don’t let the stage presence intimidate you-this guy knows how to make music that explores the bizarreness of the human condition in the driest, most verbose and most touching way possible. Watching him sardonically answer fan questions on stage was one of the highlights of Lolla 2015 for me.

6.) Radiohead

I think I want to see Radiohead again based on how talented they are as equally as I want to see them again based on how influential they’ve been to the field of independent rock over the years. (And “High and Dry” is one of my favourite songs of all time).

5.) The Avalanches

This group’s 2016 record “Wildflower” completely floored me in the best way. I’ve never listened much to sample-based music, but the amount of creativity and production skill that goes into creating an Avalanches track, and for that matter a whole record, makes me quite curious as to how a live show would translate.

4.) Mac DeMarco

I have to give a shout-out to my boy Mac! I’ve mentioned my love of his jangly, free spirited, carefree approach to music so many times on this blog. How friendly he is in interviews is enough to peak my interest in his live shows. The fact his music is so easygoing and listenable makes it all the better.

3.) Guided by Voices

This is another one of those bands that is so huge and so influential in creating and changing the shape of the independent landscape that seeing them live would be enough for a music fan. The storytelling and lyrical style of Robert Pollard and the DIY, lo-fi production and performance styles in the GBV catalogue would be a beautiful sight to behold.

2.) New Order

NO is one of my all-time favourite bands and a large portion of that love comes from how creative their music is. The way they use synthesizers and drum machines in building, crescendoing, dancey tracks that often last over the six minute mark has stayed fresh for over 30 years. While I wasn’t the hugest fan of 2015’s “Music Complete” and I love the bass playing of Peter Hook, I’d still love to see these guys live. Also, I just really love Bernard Sumner’s singing voice.

Before we hit number one, I want to give two Honorable Mentions. First, to the singer/songwriter known as Mitski, whose skills as not only a singer and guitarist but also as a lyricist make her a force to be reckoned with in the indie world right now. And second, to Lorde, who’s created some excellent pop songs with her lower range and minimal instrumentation.

1.) Car Seat Headrest

I gotta give it to the Car Seat boys. 2016’s “Teens of Denial” is one of those rare albums where I honestly feel like there’s not a single dull moment. The entire time I listen, every time I listen, I feel completely tuned in and connected to Will Toledo’s stories of self-discovery, navigating postgraduate life and growing up. The instrumentation is lively, sorrowful, passionate, angry and above all else, catchy. The lyrics are relatable, the riffs are loud and sometimes, a song brings on a momentary existential crisis. This is some quality music coming from a group of guys who are in their early 20’s. Hopefully, they’re going to be creating masterpieces like this for the rest of their lives.

What are your thoughts on the 2017 Coachella lineup? Are you going? Who are you most excited to see?

Safe travels to all those attending and have a wonderful time. Thanks for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.

 

 

Kero Kero Bonito is Wonderfully Weird

Every now and again, I enjoy taking a break from reading literature for class about the tragedy of the human condition to listen to some catchy, fun, sunshiny synth pop.

I’ve been a fan of Anthony Fantano ( a.k.a.The Needle Drop) on YouTube for a while now, and when I saw his review for Kero Kero Bonito’s new record “Bonito Generation,” it called to mind a song of theirs I’d heard a few years ago called “Sick Beat.”

I remember being drawn to the song’s use of synthesized beats, video game noises as instruments and the frontwoman’s Japanese lyrics that she sang and rapped in a delightful British accent. Partially by how catchy it was, and partially by how bizarre it was yet managed to work as a coherent song, I wanted to learn more about this pop group.

Thankfully, “Bonito Generation” is indeed on Spotify and I spent an evening recently listening and was positively charmed by the carefree attitude and upbeat melodies of the just over a half hour record.

This record is, in a word, adorable. Just how simple, yet how creative, the lyricism is instantly makes me smile. Kero Kero Bonito follows in the songwriting vein of taking mundane occurrences in life and making them into something exciting and enjoyable to sing about, like hitting the snooze button in the morning or feeling lost while walking around a huge city.

It also has some more emotional moments, my personal favourite being the song “Hey Parents.” In it, frontwoman Sarah Midori Perry sings about going over to visit her parents after graduation, finding her place in her family’s extensive tree and trying to  make her parents proud by  finding “something to do/Something I want to, so they can relax.”

The song has surprising depth to it, as Sarah ponders what she’ll do in life to make an impact in her family history, but keeps a sense of humour with lines about her parents like “I sure don’t know if making me was part of the plan/But that’s what happened, and I’m cool with that.”

I also admire the group’s ability to incorporate sounds to their music without it sounding immature. The use of yawns and dialogue on “Waking Up,” the first song on the record, instantly give the listener a sense that this band knows how to make authentic, genuine and creative music without taking themselves too seriously.

Even the album artwork fits the record perfectly. Sarah in a colorful rendition of a graduation gown and mortarboard, holding a diploma tied in a lacy pink ribbon, reflects the balance of fun and seriousness incorporated throughout the record. It especially reminds me of one of the record’s more serious (yet still quite amusing, especially to a student like me) tracks, “Graduation.”

In it, Sarah sings about being fed up with the dreariness of grades and taking classes she doesn’t enjoy, yet still being scared to leave school and make a name for herself in the world. On the chorus she sings,”Today’s my graduation, I’ve done my dissertation/Even got a hat I can throw/Today’s my graduation, so long to education/Didn’t learn a thing anyway.” During the first verse, she sarcastically remarks, “These are the best days of our lives/That’s what the grown ups told us, right?”

All in all, this is a wonderful record that combines the production talent of Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled with Sarah’s witty lyricism. I look forward to what this trio tackles next, and hope that one day I’ll be able to see one of their live shows.

What did you think of “Bonito Generation”?

Thanks for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.

 

Music Gifts and a Concert Update

Hello, happiest of holidays and a very happy New Year, my friends. I hope everyone has had a blessed season in whatever way it may be you celebrate and you’re adjusting well into the new spin of 2017.

I received a few music-centered Christmas gifts this year that I wanted to feature on this blog. The first (and my personal favourite) is a poster of the map of alternative rock history, arranged in the style of a transistor radio blueprint.

(I wasn’t able to get a good picture of mine because it’s framed and kept reflecting me and my camera, so here’s the online link from Wired).

The print will make a lovely addition to the house where I currently live at school. I love maps for decoration, and a blueprint documenting the influences of bands on another is even better. One of the things I’m most interested about in music history is the progression of different music movements (specifically the 80’s college rock and 90’s Britpop/alternative/indie trends), so I’ve already enjoyed quite a bit of time studying which bands branch from others.

I also received from my lovely aunt and uncle a 2017 Beatles calendar. This is the 7th year they’ve given me one, as the tradition started during my 8th grade obsession with the music of John, Paul, George and Ringo (that, I might add, still continues to this day).

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The lines of the weeks look like sheet music, which I find exceptionally adorable.

Additionally, my mom got me a piece of wall art for my house at school as well. It’s in the shape of a guitar pick, and the design looks like a shelf of vinyl records. I especially enjoy it because around the center is a copy of The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour,” the first record by them that I ever owned.

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Finally, I have a concert update: I’ve gotten tickets to a Lucy Dacus and Hamilton Leithauser show in February. As I’ve previously blogged, Lucy Dacus is Matador Records’ latest resident singer/songwriter and I am totally into her work. Her record “No Burden” definitely made my year-end list of the best releases, and since I missed my chance to see her at Lollapalooza, I eagerly await seeing her open for Hamilton Leithauser.

As far as Leithauser, I quite enjoy the singles he’s dropped with Rostem from Vampire Weekend (“A 1000 Times,” which I’ve mentioned on here before, and “In A Blackout”) which surprises me since I’m not much of a Vampire Weekend fan.

This show shall show if I end up enjoying the rest of their work, and since it’ll be in a more intimate concert venue, I look forward to the chance to fully appreciate both Rostem and Leithauser’s ability.

I also eagerly await blogging about the concert and how it goes. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get as close as possible to the stage.

What were some of your favourite musical Christmas/holiday gifts you received this year?

As always, thanks so much for reading, and I hope you have a very happy and blessed New Year. God bless.

-A.L.D.