Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rivers Cuomo Interview on Sound Opinions

Driving around on Sunday afternoon I was punching the presets on my radio when I came across an interview with Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, one of my all time favorite bands. It was on 90.7 wfuv out of Fordam University, which I have selected for my love of public radio but find the offerings heavy on 'folky crap' with Celtic music over the weekend. (Yes, it does have an 'Alternative Side' show from 10 to 12 pm weeknights but after a few listens I found I only cared for half of the tunes on the playlist. Plus, I had already heard of those bands so there was no learning curve which was a disappointment.) Anyway, the interview was part of Sound Opinions, a music show I'd heard of out of Chicago Public Radio but didn't know it played around here -- apparently every Sunday from 5 to 6 pm on wfuv -- I was thrilled.

Rivers sounded so relaxed and open to interrogation. Here's a guy who flew off into a ditch in the tour bus during a trip on icy roads back in December and is known for being a recluse for years at a time in the past, even to his band. But he openly spoke of the disappointment of the second album Pinkerton then how he knew how it had became a cult favorite, a great story. He also described the thought process behind "Beverly Hills" which like most Weezer songs was written from a Rivers Cuomo viewpoint, this time about being a rock star unnoticed in a town of stars. And he answered critics about lyrics that sound adolescent: he personally travels back into that period without wanting to return there. I was so mesmerized I sat in the driveway until one of the streamlined Weezer songs played, then ran inside to find it online at wfuv.org (easier than playing the actual radio in my house!)

You can listen to the full interview at the link below listed under show #221 -- http://www.soundopinions.org/

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Field Music Album Preview on KCRW

I'm just loving these opportunities to listen to a new release via the Album Preview program at my fav radio station, kcrw. The latest is Measure by Field Music, a band formed in 2004 by a pair of British brothers, David and Peter Brewis. After two well-received CDs, the pair decided to indulge themselves in solo projects before working on this latest offering. Measure is an ambitious line up of twenty tracks under the guise of art rock but it meanders through music reminiscent of XTC or even 70s bands like Steely Dan without the funk. The title song "Measure" caught my attention months ago with plenty of airplay on kcrw's "Morning Becomes Eclectic." This is a real stand out tune (ready made for my next playlist) but the rest definitely makes for an interesting listen. Check it out until March 15th at the link below:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

FEEL THE LOVE -- Fitz & The Tantrums

Today I heard a song by Fitz & The Tantrums on kcrw.com which made me think maybe they might be coming to the Northeast so I checked out their website. How disappointed I was to see they were just in the area earlier this month! One night was at Joe's Pub, a great place to see any band: nice, small and dangerously dark venue downtown NYC where I just enjoyed Harry Shearer's Holiday Sing-a-long in December. The band played there the same night as the previous post (when I caught Ra Ra Riot at BAM) but the night before they were up at the Mohegan Sun Casino -- I would have happily zoomed there and elbowed out some gamblers to take in the show.

This band just makes me want to boogie big time. Their songs are at once instantly recognizable and yet a newly created hipness exudes. Yes, I'm a sucker for any guy in a narrow cut black suit and Fitz has that blue eyed soul sound of Daryl Hall, who I have many fond memories of dancing/singing along to in college. The rest of the musicians in the group have a great retro look while playing classic arrangements. They recently opened for Maroon 5 and I can only imagine how they must have totally rocked the venues with an energy that the more popular, well established band must have appreciated. The crowd certainly must have, that's for sure.

I found out about them like many others, during a live session on kcrw's Morning Becomes Eclectic back in November. It made me instantly want to book the band and throw a huge party, inviting all my friends to dance the night away. Take a listen to things on their website.

You can also hear their songs on their website, which also has a few great videos. A live version of "Breaking the Chanins of Love," shot in black and white for a nostalgic effect, gives you idea how great it would be to see them play. There's also a cute one for "Winds of Change" that has the band playing in Fitz's living room (full of vintage decor of course) while he deals with various females and at one point holding up signs for his vocals, "OOH"! I love how the homepage looks like an old record -- check it out here.

So since I missed the tour dates in the area (just for now, hoping for another swing through soon) I went to itunes and bought the EP Songs for a Break Up, Vol. 1 which is a collection of five songs. I cranked it and danced around my kitchen solo without any one else around. It only makes me want more,especially a dance partner. Can't wait for the full release.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ra Ra Riot @ Sounds Like Brooklyn Festival

Ra Ra Riot appeared last Friday as part of the Sounds Like Brooklyn Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's grand Howard Gilman Opera House with a burst of energy I just didn't know they had in them. Their 2008 CD The Rhumb Line was one of my top ten of that year but the measured approach in the studio didn't hint at the yes, riotous performance they gave live on stage. It wasn't until I went online the next day to check the details about the tragic death of their first drummer that I came across references to their high voltage gigs. I suppose I could have assumed it with the connection to their name!

They took the stage in a burst of action with the violinist Rebecca Zeller and cellist Alexandra Lawn (rockin a lightweight electric version) flanking the guys on guitars, Mathieu Santos and Milo Bonacci, plus front man/lead vocalist Wes Miles in a line across the edge. The new drummer Gabriel Duquette played solidly on his podium behind them and happily interacted with the others when they came to visit. A grand piano sat at the side for Wes to jump over and play along with various other small keyboards on a stand towards the front when he wasn't singing sweetly into the mic at center stage. The band enjoyed picking up various hand percussion to supplement the sound, then returning to their designated instrument as they plowed through their set list -- which included a few new tunes sprinkled within. Another set of six musicians known as Ymusic joined the band to fill out the sound as needed.

I hear the band now lives in Brooklyn and thus qualified to be invited to the festival, but they announced right off how they were from Syracuse, having met at the University there (a proud moment for my husband beside me to have such fine fellow musicians from his alma mater). Though we were in seats way up in the balcony, the theater's splendid acoustics filled every inch with a reverberating sound and Ra Ra Riot's excellent musicianship. Having been to BAM over the years since it became the hot venue in NYC with the Next Wave festival, it was fun to see the place overrun with younger hipsters -- a smart marketing move to be sure.

I've been trying to remember how I even learned about the band, maybe it was from a compilation CD created by my son and left in my car? I do remember hearing them on kcrw.com's Morning Becomes Eclectic so I went into the archive and found the live session with a nice interview. They even do an excellent version of "Hounds of Love" by Kate Bush. (A band favorite, another Kate Bush song "Suspended in Gaffa" is on The Rhumb Line and was also offered up at BAM.) Recorded in a confined space without a live audience obviously makes things much more subdued than the BAM performance, but it's still looser than anything found on their CD. Check it out at the link below:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl Musical Hype -- Biggest TV Show EVER with 106.5 million viewers!

Even the chat before yoga class on Super Bowl Sunday focused on the game. My husband introduced me to a friend he met in the men's class during the week and talk veered towards the half time show featuring The Who. During a recent interview someone had asked Roger Daltrey who he was rooting for and graciously picked the Saints with all the hardship recently faced by New Orleans, etc. When asked the same question, Pete Townshend said he'd have to pick the Colts then -- nice to know some things never change, isn't it?

After the chuckling my husband's yogi pal told me how he went to see The Who three years ago and it was one of the best concerts he's ever seen."Really!" I exclaimed, realizing I was probably overreacting to the news by the look on his face. He went on to espouse about how they played this and that, but my mind was on to wondering why I should be so biased. Even those two blood brothers have reneged on the words of their song "hope I die before I get old" but I've held this prejudice for a long, long time.

It's not that I think these classic rock bands shouldn't be out there making music decades later. I'm just not one to jump at going to see them in concert. I remember way back during my college days in the 80s hearing about someone who had tickets to the Rolling Stones and thinking why bother? But then I know friends who have recently taken their kids to see them and it was a wonderful outing for everyone involved. Yes, I'm usually all about new music but I'm still happy when I stumble upon a band that has a back catalogue to explore (Spoon and The Doves comes to mind).

As for the half time show, it's always been a highlight of Super Bowl Sunday whether I liked the musical act or not. But for that matter I love the hoopla surrounding sports, the pregame especially. The Who took the stage with an amazing light show and seem to rock it through a medley of hits (from 1969's Tommy to 1971's Who's Next up to 1978's Who Are You) though I'm not sure if the stamina would last through a whole evening's performance -- something they've clearly said is not in the plans. Most of the camera time went to Ringo's son Zak Starkey, an unofficial member of the band since 1994. A younger "mocker" in his mid 40s as opposed to The Who's leaders in their mid 60s, he looked adorably English in a Union Jack inspired shirt and seems as sweet as his Dad, certainly as talented. However, the rest of the back up musicians were left in the dark on the side. If only they could have done something with Pete Townsend's shirt becoming untucked... another wardrobe malfunction in my book. No one needed to see that!