Chvrches

Chvrches is one of my favorite bands.  Bits of “The Mother We Share” have been my ringtone for quite a while and it always makes me happy.  They are smart, young, energetic, and love to play to a big audience.  Lauren Mayberry has an infectious voice and a great stage presence.  (My picture above.)

I started really enjoying their music before I saw them live and was at first taken aback by their setup.  It’s all electronic.  It didn’t take long for me to be a full-on convert.  I see now that electronic instruments can make sounds you just can’t get any other way and it takes nothing away from the feelings.

On the video version of Recover I’ve included in the YouTube playlist there is a moment when Lauren sings, “you know you don’t need me”  when the lights fade and you can pick up on the strong emotions of heartbreak in the lyrics.  I don’t know – I just can’t get enough of this band.  I hope you love them too.

On this playlist:

The Mother We Share – Their go-to encore

Bury It – Just a great song – check out the version where they pair up with Hayley Williams if you get a chance

Recover – The live video I mentioned above

Never Ending Circles – Dance it out

Dead Air – A great feeling tune they wrote for the Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack

YouTube playlist: Chvrches

Spotify playlist: Chvrches

 

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Bang Bang Bang!

(Updated with photos from live concert in New York Nov 7, 2017 and added 15 minute playlists.)

Some ten years ago or so if someone asked you to name an Indie Rock band, the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs would have been one of the first names mentioned.  I haven’t posted them yet though because they haven’t had an album in four years.  Today something happened to change my mind.  They announced they would be headlining a music festival in Austin Texas in November and added, “Watch for more news coming soon.”  (Update the festival got cancelled but they played two shows – one in L.A. and one in N.Y. last night.) This is exciting news.  New album in the works?  I don’t know, – stay tuned.

This is one of the first bands that really hooked me on Indie music. “Shake it like a ladder to the sun” is the opening line of the first song in the playlist below and they certainly did shake up the music scene.  Karen O is a frenetic and exciting frontwoman and their live shows are said to be intense and ecstatic fun.  (Update:  Just saw them live – see pictures – and yes – she was high energy and fantastic on stage.)  Their music is tough to describe so I’m going to steal a phrase from Wikipedia where it is described as a “edgy post-punk, dancefloor-friendly racket.”  I like it.

Here’s hoping Karen O and great guitar of Nick Zinner and drumming of Brian Chase come back full force.

One more picture from list night:

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YouTube playlist: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Spotify playlist: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Hinds – Rock and Roll the Way it is Supposed to Be

Some bands are for listening to.  Some, like this quartet of Spanish women, are for nothing but fun.  Expect a lot of guitars, shouting, crowd surfing, probably a bit too much drink, and potentially a mosh pit.  These girls may have only learned how to play and sing a couple years ago, but no matter.  They have managed to create a unique sound, that is just pure rock and roll fun.  I went to see them twice in their first tour because I couldn’t quite believe how much fun it was.  What else can I say.  Don’t expect polished artistry. Expect slightly off sounds, that make surprisingly good harmonies.  I guess they are somewhere between the GoGos and The Clash (a bit more of The Clash).  I think there is a new album in the works.  Rock on!

In this playlist:

Chili Town, Bamboo, Warts, San Diego, Easy

YouTube playlist: Hinds

Spotify playlist: Hinds

Tame Impala – Beautiful, Popular, Psychedelic

I guess I’ve seen this band live more than any other and if they come back, I’ll be seeing them again.  They are tight live and their music holds up time after time.  Driving bass lines, changing rhythms, soaring melodies,… these guys have it all and are are able to make it happen live.

This is a band of incredible musicians held together by the vision of Kevin Parker, the band’s lead.  In the videos I’ve included in this playlist you’ll see 60’s style psychedelic animation; the ultimate student-teacher sex fantasy gone psychedelic; and songs with beats that will put the hook into you.  They have so many great songs it was hard to keep it to just 15 minutes.

(I always include a Spotify playlist, but if you don’t watch the videos you are missing out.  They put a lot into their video work and it is so worth it.)

In this playlist:

Feels Like We Only Go Backwards – In the video: Trippy colorful, wild animation

Mind Mischief – In the video: Student lusts after and wins psychedelic sex fantasy with teacher.

Endors Toi – In the video: Maybe they should replace all that silly carnival music with Tame Impala.

Elephant – One of their biggest hits – the video is a live version

YouTube playlist: Tame Impala

Spotify playlist: Tame Impala

 

Indie Halloween – 15 Minutes That Kills

Can a 15 minute playlist scare you to death?  Well if I’m going to make a Halloween playlist it had better be more than ghosts and goblins.  No candy here folks.  Warning, some of these videos contain graphic images and lyrics that may tax your brain.

(As always, there is a Spotify playlist, but in this case I recommend the videos if you want the full effect.)

Here is the list:

alt-J – In Cold Blood  – Mouse eats fast food left over from murder scene.

The Kills – Doing It To Death – What are we doing here anyway?

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll – Dancing can be deadly

Grimes – SCREAM – Enough said

YouTube playlist: Indie Halloween

Spotify playlist: Indie Halloween

Vampire Weekend – A Generation Ahead

Their music is catchy and artistic.  They’re super talented, smart, and professional. They’re huge and can fill a stadium.  But none of that is what Vampire Weekend is about. They’ve connected with a generation you might not quickly understand.  It is a generation that grew up on the internet and that has had terrorism and economic failure thrust upon them from a young age.  Millennials have been called hipsters, snowflakes, or just plain lazy, but none of that is true.  Like generations of kids before them they look at the adult world and try to figure out how to make it their own.  Vampire weekend hears their call and calls back – “Our days were long, our nights no longer / Count the seconds, watching the hours / Though we live on the US dollar / You and me, we got our own sense of time.”

They make for easy listening, but if that’s all you pick up from Vampire Weekend you’re missing something.  These guys can pull on your heart strings and make you wonder about how to be a whole person in the new age.  I may not fit the demographic, but I can hear it.

On this playlist:

Diane Young – Not Dying Young

Unbelievers – Dealing with Religion in modern world

Holiday – An older song – Just for fun

Don’t Lie – Young hearts need pressure to pound, so hold me close my baby

Cousins – Vampire Weekend having a lot of fun in the video version

YouTube playlist: Vampire Weekend

Spotify playlist: Vampire Weekend

Animal Collective – Electronics, Vocals, and Beyond

Coming up with a simple explanation of Animal Collective is hard.  Here is a quote from Wikipedia:

“The band’s music is characterized by studio experimentation, vocal harmonies, and an exploration of various genres which include freak folk, noise rock, ambient drone, and psychedelia.”

Ok, so you are prepared for something unusual. In the photo above, which I took recently, you can see what they looked like live.  Three shadowy figures behind mysterious instruments and electronics, a drummer, and a stage looking like something from a primitive cave drawing come to life.  Everything was in constant motion on stage with animation over everything.

Awesome.

No guitars.  One thing to recognize is after decades of the use of synthesizers, sequencers and other electronic instruments people have come to realize that there is music you can make electronically that you just can’t make any other way.  These instruments are not cheap substitutes for “real instruments.”  They are the new way to make music.  Bands of all kinds have incorporated electronics into their setups. Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is taking over the hip hop and house music world.  If you are going to come to appreciate new music, you need to get passed any prejudice you may have against electronics.

Animal collective make full use – with three musicians operating massive amounts of equipment.  What they’ve created is truly an amazing mix of sound built from their voices mixed with a spectacular range of musical sounds produced from a large number of CPUs operating on stage.

Their music is complex, and maybe the smell of 420 in the room helped people experience the full effect.  Don’t try to figure it out.  Let the music take you.

In this playlist:

My Girls – Probably their most popular song, this is a good place to start.  It’s light, it’s dark, it’s complicated.

Summertime Clothes – Another popular one, but note that the YouTube live version is a particularly awesome performance of this song – check it.

FloriDada – Another one where the video is definitely worth checking out.  It goes full-on psychedelic.  Enjoy.

YouTube playlist : Animal Collective

Spotify playlist: Animal Collective