Archive for January, 2010
Vampire Weekend is one of those groups that has managed to jump from relative obscurity to national success seemingly overnight. Their debut, self-titled, record had appealed to the preppier side of the indie-music scene while utilizing African rhythms in a way that caused many to draw comparisons to Paul Simon’s classic album Graceland. When their sophomore effort Contra debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts a few weeks ago, more than a few heads began to turn.
As someone who thoroughly enjoyed their debut, I was a little dubious of the hype surrounding the new record. The tracks “Horchata” and “Cousins” surfaced several months in advance of the official release and I was worried that the group had sacrificed their warm, poppy sound for an over-produced record.
Upon repeated listening, Contra begins to grow on the listener. Rather than rejecting the slight change in sound-direction that Vampire Weekend has taken, I have begun to embrace it and actually find the new release quite enjoyable.
“California English” stands out as a song that showcases the group’s new sound while hearkening back to their roots. Upbeat drumming and bright guitars back singer Ezra Koenig’s vocals (which may or may not have some tinges of auto-tune).
There are other gems on the record, including the danceable “Run” and the frantic “Cousins.” As a whole, Contra is an entertaining listen, although some of the later songs all run together, this caused me to zone out a bit while listening.
When compared to the other records that are currently on the top of the Billboard charts, Contra is a refreshing chart-topper. Vampire Weekend has managed to create a record that has broad appeal while still falling largely under the “indie” subgenre. While it might not suite the most elitist music snobs, it certainly has the rest of us singing along.
Watch the video for “Cousins” here
For those who are interested, Long-Island based Brand New will be in Denver on Saturday, January 30. This show was rescheduled after the group missed the Denver date of their fall tour a few months ago. Tickets are still available via this website. We will be there, photographing and reviewing the show. Also playing that night: Manchester Orchestra and Dusty Rhodes.
When EAoD called it quits I decided to convince Kenton Larson to come along and photograph the show along with me. A few months later and he’s finally uploaded what his camera captured for all to enjoy. Also, if you still haven’t done so, download The Lucky One EP.
See the full set here.
Vaux was one of those bands that had the makings of a break-out success. Their recorded albums and EPs were polished and punchy. Their live set was an experience. With lights flashing and 3-guitarists, they always managed to bring down the house. For those who want to re-live those days, there’s something new from the Vaux camp. Just yesterday Greg Daniels began posting old bootlegs on the Vaux MySpace blog. This does beg the question: “When will we hear their final, unreleased EP?” a few tracks have surfaced in the time since their break-up, but still no full EP. In the meantime we’ve got these recordings.
Edit: Here are a couple more. I’ll keep posting the links as they put them up
Wednesdays are also kinda boring, but this video is not! If you haven’t heard the new Hello Kavita record, then you must! It’s one of the best albums of 2009 (I’d personally say that it beats any French indie-pop out there). Here are my random thoughts about the beautiful work that is Hello Kavita’s newest music video for “The Last Time.”
- Corey Teruya must have one of the most wrinkle-fee shirts in the entire state.
- Jimmy Stofer has one of the cleanest torque wrenches (or is it a large ratchet? I can’t quite tell) in the entire state.
- Everyone else in the band doesn’t have the cleanest wrench or the most wrinkle-free shirt, but they all take their sweet time being reflective and deep… it’s moving.
Tuesdays are boring… however this video is not!
Last Saturday was quite the night for local music. While John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light were celebrating their CD release and Swayback played the Hi-Dive with Houses, Rob Drabkin had a (birthday) party of his own. The Soiled Dove Underground was comfortably full when we arrived, just in time to hear Ryanhood.
Ryanhood was truly a delightful experience, especially for an opening act. The 2-man group combined melody and harmony with acoustic guitars and mandolin in a way that took full advantage of the venue’s excellent sound system. My only wish is to see these guys again some day with a full band. Levi Ware and his band also played a set that was good despite some technical difficulties.
The last person to play before Rob’s headlining set was a young girl from Nederland (whose name escapes me right now). She played with more skill than anyone of her age (or size) I have ever seen, and her original lyrics weren’t too shabby either. For her last song Rob Drabkin came out to play a duet, it was heartwarming, to say the least.
For the grand finale of the night Rob Drabkin and his band played a nearly 2-hour set consisting of most of Rob’s original music and a few covers (Paul Simon’s “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” was one of my favorites). Rob’s dad even made an appearance, adding saxophone solos and backup to complement the musicianship displayed by all of the players on stage. Everyone here at SLS would like to wish Rob a happy birthday.
Here’s your chance to spend that holiday-gift money that’s been burning a hole in your pocket for the last few weeks: the 10th Annual Underground Music Showcase! Even though the festival is not until late July, tickets went on sale today and there are some things that you need to know. First off, buy early because the price steadily increases until the first day of the festival. Right now a 4-day wristband will only put you back $20. New to this year’s festival is a VIP badge (only $50 right now), which will let you cut lines and party it up at special VIP-only events.
It’s officially 2010! That means that we can all take a few moments to judge the art and culture that 2009 wrought. Most people come up with lists based on personal feelings, record fidelity, or any number or other random factors. Here at Something Like Sound I’ve decided to take a slightly more objective and analytical approach. Rather than compiling my own list of “the best albums of 2009″ I decided to perform a statistical survey on what other people thought.
A few notes about the statistical methods employed here:
- The sample size was 35 lists, gathering mostly from local sources (such as Westword, Reverb, etc.). 35 is an important number in statistics because it is the lower threshold for large-sample stats. In all statistics more samples = better results. If I had time to do every list out there my certainty would go way up (but there’s simply not time for it).
- Ranking vs. Points: Most other surveys of this type use a linear scale where a rank of 1 correlates to a point value of 10, rank 2 with 9 points and so forth. This is fine and dandy, but does not give terribly distinct results. Therefore, I used a point/rank scale based on an exponential curve. The steep, immediate drop-off of this curve provided results that were slightly more interesting. (See the graph of Rank Vs. Points below, with information on the resulting coefficient of correlation).
- Most lists focused on “college rock” or “indie” records (read Westword’s description of the ambiguous genre here). So results are slanted toward such records. Sorry, there aren’t any heavy metal or country records on there.
- To find more “best of 2009″ lists go to Largehearted Boy, they’ve got an excellent and comprehensive collection of lists from around the world.
Without further ado, THE LIST!
- Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
- Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion
- Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
- Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz
- Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
- The Avett Brothers – I And Love And You
- The xx – xx
- The Flaming Lips – Embryonic
- Girls – Album
… and now some graphs!
To download an Excel file containing all raw data and graphs, click here.
While most of us were taking a break for the last few weeks Zach Tipton (aka I Am The Dot) has produced yet another EP! (that’s now 3 EPs and a handful of singles released within the last year). The latest, titled Winter, is a collaborative work with Nevada-based instrumental artist Boneless. Each track combines sonic sound-scapes with Tipton’s reverb-drenched vocals in such a way that remind the listener of wintertime, a flowing, cold, time of the year.
As with most I Am The Dot releases, this one is available for free download via this website. So check it out, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Also mark your calendars for February 19th, when I Am The Dot will make its live debut at the Hi-Dive (also playing that night are Young Coyotes, American Tomahawk, and The Pirate Signal).