This Year's posts

Archive for November, 2006

New Music, Lately

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

Some notes about recent musical experiences. I’ve been building up a bunch of draft posts, this is me dumping them all out at once.

Mew

I saw Mew open for Bloc Party (along with Broken Social Scene and Two Gallants) and really enjoyed them. Then, in early October, I got an email offering some free tickets to see them again at Popscene. I couldn’t pass it up.

Their music is ethereal, romantic and passionate. Their records are mixed so that the songs all flow together. This effect works surprising well both on the album and on stage. It works so well, that my favorite song from the two appearances turn out to be two different songs. Apparently they always play them together.

They’re a Danish group that’s been around for awhile (10 years, I think), but have had a recent surge in popularity.

Juana Molina

Juana Molina, is an Argentinean singer-songwriter who blends folk acoustic guitar sounds with technology to create beautiful, rich sounds.

I recently saw her perform at the Great American Music Hall. She performs alone, but you wouldn’t know it unless you saw her. She uses guitar loop pedals, keyboards and synths to create layers of music, all on the fly. She harmonizes with her own voice and guitar playing. The effect is amazing.

This artificial restraint (not touring with a band) creates interesting music. If she toured with a band, they could start straight into a song with no build up. On her own, however, she’s forced to create songs that build on themselves and evolve in subtle ways. Seeing the live performance gave me a huge respect for her as an artist.

The Hold Steady

I’ve been a fan of The Hold Steady, a Brooklyn-by-way-of-Minneapolis band, who’re often described as a “bar band for people who don’t like bar bands”. I like bar bands, especially these guys.

Until a few weeks ago, I’d never seen them play live. Their live show had so much energy and enthusiasm that I think it may be the best show I’ve seen this year (and I’ve seen a lot of shows).

Until last week, I hadn’t heard their latest album. There’s been plenty of hype in the blahgosphere about this already, but I really think it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. You may not like it, but I love it. Their new material manages to combine fat riffs, interesting storying telling and catchy tunes. The result is addictive, as I’m sure my last.fm profile will soon demonstrate.

Stars of Track and Field

I saw Stars of Track and Field open for The Twilight Singers (also at GAMH). I’ve been listening to them quite a bit since then. They combine some minimal electronic, driving guitars and catchy lyrics. I like it. Ali didn’t like their neckware. You’ll have to ask her about that– unlike some people, I don’t let a band’s choice in neckware influence whether I like their music.