Classics: The Go-Betweens - 16 Lovers Lane

I'd like to be able to claim that I've been a fan of The Go-Betweens since I was a kid, but I only discovered them about five years ago. The songwriting duo of Robert Forster and Grant McLennan resulted in a total of nine studio albums, half of which are near perfect pop albums. The band released what is now their final album (with the sad death of McLennan in 2006), Oceans Apart, in 2005. Even with taking the entire decade of the 90's off, that career length is a testament to the bands greatness. My personal favorite album of The Go-Betweens, and what I consider a "New Classic" is the 1988 masterpiece 16 Lovers Lane.

Despite being released in the late 80's, 16 Lovers Lane doesn't sound as dated as a lot of music from that time frame. These songs could have been released in the past few years and they wouldn't sound old or out of place with other indie stuff. In trying to go through and pick a few songs to mention from the album, I came to the problem of not being able to single out just a few tracks. That's the mark of a truly great album, I can't pick a favorite song(s) because the entire record is that great. Since I couldn't post every song from the album, I did have to pick a few tracks. It was a pretty easy choice because I love any chance I have to post cheesy 80's music videos.

The first video is for 'Streets Of Your Town', which isn't necessarily cheesy, but it's definitely 80's:

Here's the video for another track of 16 Lovers Lane, 'Was There Anything I Could Do?', which is both extremely 80's and cheesy...but still a great song:



Video: Free Energy - 'Bang Pop'

Philadelphia four piece Free Energy could be one of those indie bands that makes it really big. They've got a non-offensive, catchy pop sensibility that's in short supply in indie rock. The band they get the most comparisons to is Thin Lizzy, which has gotta be from the similar guitar tone, but TL never put out anything this sugary. Full of upbeat & fun rock tunes with hooks for days, Free Energy's debut full-length, Stuck On Nothing, is definitely worth checking out. It's a perfect summer album too so now is a good time to grab it.

Here's the video for their single, 'Bang Pop':



Concert Announcement: Boris/Russian Circles

After seeing Mastodon and Baroness last weekend, I've been itching for another metal show soon. It may not be as soon as I'd like, but Japanese metal trip Boris will be making their way through town again stopping again at The Granada in Lawrence on Sunday, August 15th. They'll be joined by opening act Russian Circles, who are also definitely worth seeing.

Here's Boris playing the song 'Pink' at the Pitchfork Music Festival in 2008:



Video: Gayngs - 'Cry'

Gayngs are a soft-rock super-group with Bon Iver, Megafaun and members of The Rosebuds, P.O.S. and more. I just got the band's debut, Relayted, but if it's anything like this first single I'm definitely going to enjoy it.

Gayngs - 'Cry':


New Music: LCD Soundsystem This Is Happening

There isn't going to be anything I can say about LCD Soundsystem or their new (and possibly last!) album, This Is Happening that hasn't already been written elsewhere. James Murphy and co. played it pretty safe on their third proper album. Following the pretty brilliant Sound of Silver must be no easy task though and as many have pointed out. The perils of making amazing albums....

This Is Happening should make plenty of fans of previous albums happy though. As my friend said recently that if he'd heard this album before Sound Of Silver, he'd probably like this more. There really isn't anything different, new or challenging here, and that's perfectly okay because Murphy is a fantastic songwriter and he shines here again.

There is nothing as great as 'All My Friends' on this album ('All I Want' is close) but almost every song is enjoyable. 'Pow Pow' is one of the funnest songs of the year and if I ever live out my dream of becoming a DJ, it will be one of my go-to dance floor jams. The Talking Heads-esque final track on the album, 'Home', is another tune that's quickly become a favorite of the year. This will find it's way to the top of many year end lists, but time will tell if it's got the staying power I think it might lack.

LCD Soundsystem - 'All I Want':



Misconception= Missed Opportunities

As is probably the case with most music folk out there, I have been taking a listen to The National's New album, High Violet, which Matt wrote about earlier in the blog. I've enjoyed it, and have been taking in their discography as well to absorb and compare their music chronology. It's too early for me to say that Violet is one of the best of the year( in my mind), but I really have enjoyed it and am willing to bet a large number of publications will have it in their best-of- the-year, and with a surprising amount of promotion I would be shocked if this album didn't end up being their best selling to date.

What's been frustrating for me regarding The National is the realization that while I've heard of them for at least three years, I never listened to them because of what I thought was their style of music: I was under the immediate and mistaken impression that they were one of the neo-punk/screamo (I'll have to add that to my labeling list, along with "post-screamo" and "post new screamcore") metal groups from the early 2000s- bands like (at least by my definition) Fall Out Boy, Brand New, New Found Glory, The Starting Line, My Chemical Romance, etc.

This was a type of scene that I was not into, so any band in that genre I generally tuned out. My assumption is that because a few of these bands started off with a "N" I assumed- WITHOUT EVER LISTENING TO THEM- that The National were in this movement, so despite any article that clearly stated the kind of music they played, I would skip over it. I don't feel that I necessarily missed out on something that may have redefined myself or my musical tastes, but by doing the very thing musical purists hate- discounting someone based on assumption without ever giving them a chance- I missed out on perhaps building a musical relationship with a solid group. Now I have to play catch-up, and often it's hard to ever get that connection when you're late to the show (not always, but sometimes the moment can pass). I'm also guilty of this in relation to major pop acts, but after hearing Kate Nash's new album, I vow to be more open to the more obviously well-known artists as well: Sometimes there's a reason an artist is known by everyone.

What also irritates me is that this is something I've done in the past, and fear it may eventually lead me to miss out on the next big band in my life, like what happened to me in the fall of 1992. It was sophomore year, and I was riding on the bus next to Alex Smith, who would always share earbuds with me and we would listen to music on the way to school (we had been listening to REM's Green and Van Morrison's Moondance) and he slips in Smashing Pumpkin's Gish. I liked it, but since it was too new and hard and dangerous, I didn't purchase it myself. Then, five years later as I'm studying in the library listening to Siamese Dream, I realize that I screwed myself out of five years of awesomeness and feeling really cool about myself.

And damned if I don't keep heading down that same road again.

What artists have you missed out on due to your assumptions?



Favorite Songs of the 2000's:
Wilco - 'Poor Places' (2002)

If you know me and we talk music, I've probably expressed my love for Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. When I do end up doing a best of the decade album list, it's going to be hard not to put it at number one. The band's 2002 album has a very mythical status to it now, especially with the timing of a handful of events, including the band being dropped from their label. That event was famously documented in the film I Am Trying To Break Your Heart (a film about Wilco) which is a pretty great music doc if you haven't seen it. It was fairly difficult figuring which of three of four songs off YHF would make it on this list, but it ended up being 'Poor Places'.

Most of the great things about YHF can be found in 'Poor Places'. Jeff Tweedy's lyrics are always interesting and 'Poor Places' is no different. The brilliant thing about the album is the way a beautiful melody can be flushed out into something way more interesting by adding layers upon layers of instruments and texture. The end of 'Poor Places' is one of the best examples of that on the album. I'm posting two videos with this....the first is the album version of 'Poor Places'. The second is a clip from the Wilco documentary mentioned above with some behind the scenes recording stuff for the song. The recording of 'Poor Places' begins about 1:30 into the second video.

The album version of 'Poor Places':

Footage of the recording of 'Poor Places' (begins about 1:30 into the video):



New Music: The National - High Violet

The National have now basically proven themselves to be indie rock heavyweights. The bands new album, High Violet (out today), is now their third album in a row that is near perfect. It's too early to say if this is my favorite album of the year so far, but it's certainly dominated my headphones for the past weeks.

One of the most notable things about The National is not only Matt Berninger's deep vocals but also his lyrics. Berninger is one of my favorite lyricists in music today and this album won't sway that opinion any. Really the only thing different about this new album is there seems to be a lot less guitar, and it definitely isn't a bad thing when you look at the final product.

At first listen I thought the album was top loaded with great songs with first three tracks, 'Terrible Love', 'Sorrow' and 'Anyone's Ghost', until I realized there isn't really a misstep of a track on the whole album. A contender for best song, 'Bloodbuzz Ohio' is a track that would fit nicely on their previous masterpiece, Boxer. Like Boxer, my favorite tracks on High Violet are at the end of the album. 'England' and 'Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks' close out this album in brilliant fashion, with the latter being another pick for best track on the record.

The National aren't touring anywhere near KC so far on this tour...someone can correct me but I don't think they've ever played this area, which sucks since they're from the midwest (Ohio). Here's the band playing the new album's opener, 'Terrible Love', for Pitchfork (it takes a minute into the video before the band plays, but it's worth it):



Videos: Local Natives

Although I mentioned Local Natives here last year, I've failed to mention how much their album has stuck with me since I first heard it. Their debut album, Gorilla Manor, started off as an early favorite of 2010 and has still been in regular rotation since January. The Los Angeles band has a new video for the single 'World News':

The band also stopped by the Craig Ferguson show to do what is one of my favorite tunes off the album, 'Airplanes':

The band will be in Columbia on May 19th but don't look like they'll be in KC or Lawrence anytime soon (unless they decide to play some more midwest dates around the Pitchfork festival in July).



New Music: The New Pornographers - Together

I'm not going to lie, I feel like all I've been writing a lot about Canadians recently. Don't get me wrong, some of my favorite bands are Canadians...those folks know what I like when it comes to indie rock. The New Pornographers have become another venerable force in indie rock. They are now about to release their fifth album, Together (out today), and haven't seem to have lost a step. If you are a fan of power-pop, indie rock or just music in general, you'll find something to like in The New Pornographers. Whether it's the fact that Carl Newman seems to churn out amazing pop songs, the oddness of Dan Bejar or the just Neko Case, there are plenty of reasons to love this band.

The last NP album, Challengers, was their first misstep as an album. There was something missing from that album that was found on almost ever song on the first three records. That magic seems to be back as Together appears to be another album full of great songs. Some of the highlights are the album opener 'Moves' and the chugging rock tune 'Your Hands (Together)'. Dan Bejar always contributes at least one brilliant tune and this time his best one is the shimmering 'Silver Jenny Dollar' which has a hook that will get jammed in your brain. In fact, Bejar has the highlight of the second half of the album as well with 'Daughter Of Sorrow' which has a melody and backing vocals that sound plucked off 70's AM radio.

Don't forget that The New Pornographers will be in Lawrence at Liberty Hall on Monday, July 26th with openers The Dodos and Imaad Wasif.



Concert Announcements: Liars

This is another exciting concert announcement as NY's Liars will be at The Bottleneck on Friday July 23rd. They'll be touring behind their fifth album, Sisterworld, which I posted about last month. I haven't gotten around to checking them out yet, but Fol Chen are opening and I've been seeing their name pop up quite a bit recently. The full concert calendar is HERE.