Sunday, August 22, 2010

Early Fall 2010 New Music Playlist

Wasn't sure whether to call this next playlist late summer or early fall 2010. I know it's not technically autumn but the acorns are dropping and the sun isn't shining as strong as it was a few weeks ago. No surprise to see songs here by Arcade Fire, Fitz & The Tantrums and Rufus Wainwright after my recent posts but hope you'll enjoy the selections, plus of course the craft of compilation! Link to listen here

1. Where I'm Going - Cut Copy
This single is actually found as a free mp3 song of the day from but I heard it through 107.1 The Peak's new music show NEXT. Sure I'm a sucker for a good sing-a-long and any kind of vocal shout outs as this electropop band from Australia happily provides. At first listen, this definitely rated as my "NEXT new favorite song" and gets the opening spot to kick off my latest playlist.

2. Fall Hard - Shout Out Louds
Another single off the CD Work from the Swedish band known for its catchy indie pop tunes over the past decade. The infectious chorus provides another sing-a-long opportunity (in perfect English no less!)

3. Fader - The Temper Trap
Here's another band from down under, though leaning more towards the alt rock label. This single off their CD Conditions released last year but still gaining airplay in the U.S. Just can't go wrong with some happy 'woos' in the chorus and a simple boom-chuck, boom-boom-chuck drum beat I think I could even play.

4. Evening/Morning - Bombay Bicycle Club
5. Open House (Bonus Track) - Bombay Bicycle Club
6. Lamplight - Bombay Bicycle Club
This UK band released a full length CD last month called, I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose. It included some new and not so new songs, so I found three faves for my playlist without restrictions or hesitation regarding that matter. Their sound is fresh and free from over thinking things, which I suppose is really easy to do when you're so young!

7. Slow Motion - Panda Bear
The musician behind Panda Bear is Noah Lennox of Baltimore, also a founding member of Animal Collective. In this single, his signature echoing vocals cascade over a musical landscape all his own.

8. Boy - Ra Ra Riot
Ra Ra Riot's next CD The Orchard comes out August 24th right after I'm posting this playlist but the Syracuse group released this gem of a song on an EP of the same name over the summer. "Boy" embodies the band's sound, chock full of energy and enthusiasm.

9. The Suburbs - Arcade Fire
10. Modern Man - Arcade Fire
11. Rococo - Arcade Fire
12. Empty Room - Arcade Fire
Yes, four songs is a lot from one band for a playlist. (Hasn't happened since last winter when I had four tracks off of Spoon's Transference and I had the web police after me for posting them on the Grooveshark widget!) But it really wasn't easy even choosing only these tunes off the epic album that is sure to be on many lists for 'best of 2010' picks. The sound is a bit more polished, less free form than before yet no less rambunctious or offering soul searing melodies when need be. Arcade Fire is based in Montreal but this collection of songs takes us back to the Butler brothers childhood outside of Houston, Texas with vivid memories of suburban life.

13. Pickin' Up The Pieces - Fitz and The Tantrums
14. L.O.V. - Fitz and The Tantrums
Here's another official full length CD, Pickin' Up The Pieces, from this L.A. band making news for their hip retro sound. It's blue eyed soul meets a pumped up edgy indie vibe and you can preview the album on kcrw until September 14th. Their live show kicks up the energy even further and I totally recommend catching a gig in your area if possible as they hit the road in support of the album (tour dates here!)

15. Zebulon - Rufus Wainwright
This is the coda for the newest CD by Wainwright, All Days Are Nights: Songs for LuLu. It's a emotional ride as he delves into the sadness of his past year with the passing of his mother, folk singer Kate McGarrigle. Last month I witnessed his emotional tenor vocals and accomplished piano playing in concert as written up on a recent blog post -- Rufus Wainwright is a true artist for our trying times.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gorillaz Live Session on KCRW

Oh how I love pulling up Morning Becomes Eclectic on and seeing there's a fave band for the scheduled session that day! Such was the case when The Gorillaz performed August 18th and it was nice to experience the fresh sounds of live performance. Layers of certain songs were more prominent, the sound of an engine for example, so it all felt new again. It was also nice to hear Damon Albarn be more forthcoming during the interview compared to the "Colbert Show" where he was clearly not in on the ruse that Stephen Colbert is acting out a persona, or maybe Albarn was just hungover.

Here's the link in the KCRW archives to experience it yourself!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rufus Wainwright at The Ridgefield Playhouse August 6th & Live Session on KCRW

To see Rufus Wainwright has been on my concert bucket list for some time. So when a stop on his latest tour included a small venue in near my home in Connecticut that would complement his intimate songs, I jumped on the ticket bandwagon. The current tour of his original soul-searing work was exactly the concert experience I was looking for. Born into folk legend lineage, with his father Loudon Wainwright III and his mother Kate McGarrigle used to sing with her sister Anna as The McGarrigle sisters, Wainwright has dabbled in rock, opera, dance, film and theater. But it is his breathy, emotional tenor communicating volumes with a lyric that makes him so unique in the crowded market of musicians.

Wainwright entered the dark stage in silence, following the path of a spotlight wearing a long, black, elegant gown with a train that stretched across the stage. The audience was instructed that for the first set, we were refrain from applause until he had exited the stage. (The second set however, we could “applaud to our hearts content.”) Wainwright burst into the first track off his new CD, All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu, which was a great reminder of what an accomplished pianist he is with his hands flying across the keyboard. He continued through the entire work, only stopping for the occasional sip of water from a goblet. The visuals by Douglas Gordon on a screen covering the back wall revolved around a monstrous green eye with lashes that looked more like dangerous porcupine spines and scaled skin of a reptile. Wainwright has said that Lulu refers to the Louise Brooks character from the movie Pandora Box yet the theme also covers his relationship with his mother -- the song cycle of the CD providing the opportunity to work through his emotional turmoil of the past year with his mother’s death in January. After the last song, Zebulon, Wainwright lifted his long fingers from the keys and stood up slowly. He then turn to leave, retracing the path of his entrance with the measured steps of a modern dancer until the crowd could show their appreciation.

The second set allowed life to go on as Wainwright returned in style wearing a coral patterned suit with a matching shirt and white shoes. He smiled and returned to the piano, chatting about the drive to the suburbs and playing selections from his repertoire which included “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk,” and “The Art Teacher.” His sister Martha returned for a few songs after opening up for him, even bringing out her baby boy (his first time on stage! I can only imagine the fun that child will have with Uncle Rufus.)
Wainwright mused how he’s at loss to explain a country that would have people from Snookie to Hillary, “varied?” He continued, “Not unique. Eclectic?” He then offered “Going to a Town” as a highlight for the encore, a beautifully stripped down version from the one on Release the Stars. The final song was “The Walking Song” by his mother, a lovely tribute after explaining how wonderful it’d been to witness the outpouring of love after her death from sarcoma cancer in January. Plus one dollar from every ticket went to research for the disease so he graciously thanked everyone for that.
PERSONAL PLAYLIST: Rufus Wainwright came into my life when he accompanied David Byrne on an aria back in 2004, a few years after his second CD Poses came out. I love his cover of “Across the Universe” on that CD and another favorite is the single “Hallelujah” (2009) a cover of a Leonard Cohen song. Just listening to his “Going to a Town” from his 2007 CD, Release the Stars makes my heart swell. His sexy take on “Bewitched,” the Rogers & Hart song from the musical Pal Joey, played during the credits of The History Boys – a perfect collaboration. I’ve also listed the first and last tracks of the new CD, perfect bookends to his newest work. Of course there's tracks available at his myspace as well. Enjoy!

  1. Au Fond de Temple Saint, David Byrne’s Grown Backwards
  2. Across the Universe, Poses
  3. Going to a Town, Release the Stars
  4. Hallelujah, Single (Leonard Cohen cover)
  5. Bewitched, The History Boys Soundtrack (Rogers & Hart song from Pal Joey, played during closing credits)
  6. Who Are You New York? All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu
  7. Zebulon, All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu
*** UPDATE Rufus Wainwright has since appeared on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic which you can listen to at this link. Nice to listen in on the interview -- more than just banter during the concert, etc.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Look & Listen to Arcade Fire's new CD

NPR’s Exclusive First Listen has opened up the gates for a preview of the highly anticipated third release from Canada's indie sensation Arcade Fire, released August 3rd. Between that and the opportunity to see the band play live at Madison Square Garden in NYC on Thursday night, August 5th on their Youtube channel, fans had an opportunity to weigh in on the new offering for themselves. Clips from the concert are posted there now -- it was a great concert full of energy on stage and in the crowd. It would have been nice to seen Spoon as well but a treat to have a front row seat for the Arcade Fire set in front of my computer along with 4 million other fans (if only I didn't have to hit refresh a few times!)

The Suburbs opens with the title track meandering along with images of kids running through yards. It’s a glimpse into frontman Win Butler’s childhood near Houston, Texas, as appropriately enough the band is his vision – with his brother Will and wife Reginé Chassagne beside him to round out a solid group of seven, plus additional musicians as needed. Things pick up by the second track, “Ready to Start” which along with “Empty Room” could be the instant classic “Keep the Car Running” was for their last CD, Neon Bible. The other tracks present a cohesive whole with Win Butler’s disctinctive voice riding the instrumental wave behind him, never overpowering and always in synch with the rest of the band. Some surprises included the hard rollicking sound of “Month of May” and the brazen synths of “The Sprawl II.” Mellower moments were presented during the stripped down “Wasted Hours” and the lovely symphonic end piece, “The Suburbs (continued).”
If I could pick any time and place to see Arcade Fire it would have been during their early days when they played the Judson Memorial Church in NYC's Greenwich Village, that shrine to early modern dance. The vast space of Madison Square Garden holds little appeal to me but sitting in front of a computer screen, I’ll gladly submitted to the vision of director Terry Gilliam. It’s online community at its best. The band hit the stage with the single off the new CD "Modern Man" and kicked it into high gear from there. I learned that while Win Butler may be the frontman of the band, giving a shout out to those of us online with a "Hi Internet," his brother Will Butler is the showman -- dancing wildly with a tambourine festooned with streamers, running circles around the stage and all sorts of energetic antics. Their new song "Rococo" provided a soaring redemptive moment with its staccato vocals urging a singalong with the audience. During the encore, "The Sprawl II" was restarted because of a drum machine, or so Win Butler said, but I'm thinking Reginé Chassagne really shouldn't be taking solos... I can only imagine the many takes it took in the studio to get it sounding on key which it certainly didn't live. (As one without a great ear for pitch, I know if I hear it it can't be right!)

There was an online poll to see what people would guess to be the last encore of the show, "Wake Up," "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" or "Keep the Car Running." All were offered up as highlights in the show but the first one was chosen for the finale. Not sure if that was the winner of the poll but it made for a winning moment to close the concert.