Tag Archives: Coldplay

2014 Year In Review

Hey, we haven’t updated this blog in over a year!  It was a busy year.  A good year.  Especially for the ears.

Without further ado, here’s my year in review.  Let’s see if the other ILTSOI dudes can step up too…

Nothing can stop us now.

FAVORITE 14 OF ’14

1. Tove Lo Queen of the Clouds

An absolutely perfect album from start to finish.  Catchy, melodic Swedish pop at its finest.

2. Sam Smith In The Lonely Hour

The lush soundtrack to heartbreak and unrequited love, with a voice so smooth you want to wrap yourself up on the sofa and pass out with a smile on your face (and tears drying on your cheeks).

3. Tori AmosUnrepentant Geraldines

Return to form (groan) for my favorite singer of all time.

4. Taylor Swift1989

Can’t deny the pop perfection.  The love might wane with time, but there’s no denying this beast of an album.

5. Alt-J This Is All Yours

You thought their debut was funky and mind-blowing?  Add a million more layers and a tighter control on the soundcraft.  A lush journey into funky town.

6. InterpolEl Pintor

The second “return to form” (repeated groan) on this list.  Tight, melodic, groovy.  Everything that self-titled shitfest was not.

7. Run The JewelsRTJ2

Very rarely do I hear a song and exclaim, “Fuuuuuuuuuck!!!”  This is an entire album of that.  The lyrics wow, the melodies are delicious, and everything is just hard as fuck.  And Zach de la Rocha.

8. RoyksoppThe Inevitable End

A perfect way for them to go out: darkness, groove and a continued roster of perfectly curated guest singers.

9. Lana Del ReyUltraviolence

Not as good as her debut, but the throwback lushness saves this from sophomore slump status.  A time machine.

10. War On DrugsLost In The Dream

This is #1 on most of the year end lists, and with good reason.  It’s a propulsive, immediate and absolutely dreamy journey through soundscapes.  Dylan, Springsteen, Arcade Fire.  It’s all here.

11. Kaiser ChiefsEducation, Education, Education, War

One of my favorite bands.  They’ve only disappointed me once in 4 albums.  They won’t win any awards, but consistently releasing start-to-finish pogo-pop-rock perfect albums contribute to their long-lasting place in my heart.

12. Coldplay Ghost Stories

Their worst, hands down. But it’s not that bad.  I’ve grown to enjoy this more than when they released it in the summer.  Because it’s NOT a summer album.  It’s cold, sad, lonely, introspective.  Casual fans will love the Parachutesness of it all.  I appreciate that it’s a peek into Chris Martin’s ruined heart.  Take this break, come back with another life-affirming opus.  *hugz*

13. Pharrell WilliamsG I R L

Skateboard P is actually pretty underrated: he’s been producing amazing bangers for over a decade, and yet he’s just blown up in these past 2 years (thank you Daft Punk and The Voice).  This is just another release of Pharrell gems.  Get the throwback party started.

14. Crosses – †††

Deftones will never release anything “classic” now that Chi Cheng passed away (just like — less morbidly — Interpol will never release anything of top caliber without Carlos D), but this Chino side project comes close.  It’s sexy, groovy, relatively calm.  Chino’s voice can still send shivers down a spine like no other.

Albums I listened to to-death that weren’t released this year: Bastille, Clutch, Katy Perry, Avicii, Avatar, Fitz and the Tantrums

Albums that kinda let me down: U2, Beck, Black Keys

 

FAVORITE SONGS OF 2014

As always, this is based purely on play count on my iTunes.  I may have listened to them in other places (see: ipod, burned CD) but this is a fair indicator of my earworms of the year.

1. Lorde – “Yellow Flicker Beat”

2. Coldplay – “Magic”

3. Pharrell and Daft Punk – “Gust of Wind”

4. Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora – “Black Widow”

5. Goldroom – “Embrace”

6. Ariana Grande and Zedd – “Break Free”

7. BANKS – “This Is What It Feels Like”

8. Interpol – “Tidal Wave”

9. Royksopp and Robyn – “Monument (The Inevitable End Version)”

10. Tori Amos – “Trouble’s Lament”

 

GIGS OF 2014

1. Avicii – TD Garden – June 25
An absolute party from start to finish.

2. Tori Amos – Boston Opera House – August 15
First full Toriphile experience for me: waited all day with a group of fans/new friends for a glimpse of Tori, then drinks, then a perfect setlist.  If we actually got to talk to her, it would have been the most perfect day of 2014.

3. Arcade Fire – Xfinity Center – August 19
Nice to see them in a huge amphitheater.  Their sound and presence needs all that space.

4. Clutch – Lupo’s – September 5
Rocked. The. Fuck. Out.

5. Lady Gaga – TD Garden – June 30
Finally.  Happy birthday to me.

6. OneRepublic – Blue Hills Bank Pavilion – June 24
All hits, all the time.

7. Nine Inch Nails (with Soundgarden) – Red Rocks – July 21
My all-time bucket list venue.  My all-time favorite band.  Maybe I’ve seen Trent too much lately.  Maybe my mind wasn’t in the right place.  An otherworldly experience.

8. Jimmy Eat World – Lupo’s – October 18
Futures isn’t my favorite Jimmy album (see: Bleed American) but hearing it start to finish was something else.  Finally got “Nothingwrong” and life is good.

9. Katy Perry – TD Garden – August 1
Much like OneRepublic, this was just an unfair barrage of hits that would make any artist blush.  What a party.

10. Cibo Matto – The Sinclair – February 8
A comeback tour, a new album, old friends.  But when you don’t play “Sci-Fi Wasabi” as you originally wrote it, this nagging fan loses a little interest.

11. Iggy Azalea (and Austin Mahone) – Gillette Stadium – June 15
Free.  Yeah nothing beats that.

 

It was a good year.  Hopefully another year doesn’t pass without an update…  Make it a good one!

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2013: Year In Review

What a year.  Most of my favorite artists added some soul, some funk, some humanity to their usual cold and sad sounds.  It was the year of the big release, the unleashing of the hype monster.  Seemingly everyone and their grandmother released something new this year and it was just a glorious and embarrassing goldmine for us music-Smaugs.  Looking back on a great year as my ears already enjoy 2014.

My Favorite Albums of 2013:

1. Empire of the Sun: Ice On The Dune
Nothing catchier or more joyful blessed my life all year.

2. Daft Punk: Random Access Memories
The most epic album of the year.

3. nine inch nails: Hesitation Marks
A return to form for Trent and a reaffirmation of rabid fandom for me.

4. Arcade Fire: Reflektor
The biggest grower of the year…just give it a chance.

5. Lady Gaga: ARTPOP
Most underrated “big” album of the year, absolute bangers from start to finish.

6. Queens of the Stone Age: …Like Clockwork
Cocksure (hee hee) swaggering sexy rock and fucking roll.

7. Lorde: Pure Heroine
Newbie of the year with an honest-to-goodness perfect set of tunes.

8. Kanye West: Yeezus
The biggest mindfuck, the biggest statement, and one of the hardest albums of 2013.

9. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Mosquito
Possibly their worst album, but with such a discography, this rabid subterranean creepfest slays.

10. KT Tunstall: invisible empire // crescent moon
It’s about her late father and ex-hubby, so you know you’re in for some gorgeous heartbreak.

11. Bruno Mars: Unorthodox Jukebox
Perfect pop album.  Period.

12. how to destroy angels: welcome oblivion
Trent’s other release of the year, a quieter, more feminine affair.

13. Goldfrapp: Tales of Us
Sultry and languid, perfect for secret late night debauchery or a quiet come-down.

14. Tegan and Sara: Heartthrob
2013’s catchiest, prettiest pop-mindfuck dedicated to hearts and heartbreak.

15. Disclosure: Settle
The soundtrack to the permanent Uniqlo store in my heart.

16. Savages: Silence Yourself
Ferocious debut from a group of lasses with bigger, brasher thrash-balls than both Kanye and Trent.

17. The Strokes: Comedown Machine
A solid send-off(?) set from one of my favorite bands of the ’00s.

18. OneRepublic: Native
We liked “Counting Stars” a year ago…

19. Imagine Dragons: Night Visions
They don’t know who they want to be and every song sounds like another band, but they’re the best damn tribute band of the year.

20. Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City
Now that they’re singing about death and sad stuff, I can finally relate to these chaps.

21. Justin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience, Part 1
This bloated album only receives placement because of “Mirrors”, its only reason for existing.

22. Austra: Olympia
I loved her from the moment she sang her first note in concert, so this set — however underwhelming or same-same — is still welcome.

Not Released in 2013 But Still Dominated My Life:

1. Ellie Goulding: Halcyon
Thank you, Skrillex, for breaking her heart, because this is a gigantic, emotional wubby ride.

2. Jessie Ware: Devotion
Pure, utter talent and class from this ’90s throwback queen.

Yeah, that’s right.  I only listed 24 albums.  Not 20.  Not 25.  I’m a rebel.  On to the songs…  These are the tracks that ruled my life for 12 months.  Ranking was tricky:  I based this purely on iTunes/iPod combined play count.  Not radio eargasms, not streaming on YouTube, not clicking “Back” to repeat a song and thus losing the extra count.  “Radioactive” should be higher.  Alas, it is a cruel world.  You all know how to use YouTube or whatever streaming-shit the kids are into these days, so I hope you don’t mind doing the leg work and searching for these yourself.  Embedding links?  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

My Favorite Songs of 2013:

1. Daft Punk, “Get Lucky”
2. Coldplay, “Atlas”
3. how to destroy angels, “Strings and Attractors”
4. M83, “Oblivion (feat. Susanne Sundfør)”
5. Arcade Fire, “Reflektor”
6. Lady Gaga, “Venus”
7. nine inch nails, “Came Back Haunted”
8. Linkin Park and Steve Aoki, “A Light That Never Comes”
9. Lorde, “Buzzcut Season”
10. Phoenix, “Entertainment”
11. Ylvis, “The Fox”
12. Empire of the Sun, “Celebrate”
13. Lady Gaga, “Applause”
14. Kylie Minogue, “Skirt”
15. Avicii, “Hey Brother”
16. Churchill, “Change”
17. Empire of the Sun, “Old Flavours”
18. Giorgio Moroder, “Racer”
19. KT Tunstall, “Made of Glass”
20. Naughty Boy, “LaLaLa (feat. Sam Smith)”
21. Tegan and Sara, “I Was A Fool”
22. Bruno Mars, “Moonshine”
23. Disclosure, “Latch (feat. Sam Smith)”
24. Queens of the Stone Age, “I Sat By The Ocean”
25. Bruno Mars, “Natalie”
26. Drake, “Hold On We’re Going Home”
27. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, “Thrift Shop”
28. Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”
29. OneRepublic, “Counting Stars”/”Preacher”/”Can’t Stop”
30. Kanye West, “I Am A God (feat. God)”/”Black Skinhead”
31. Katy Perry, “Roar”
32. Pitbull and Ke$ha, “Timber”
33. Sara Bareilles, “Brave”
34. Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”
35. Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive”
36. Sebastian Ingrosso & Tommy Trash, “Reload (feat. John Martin)”
37. Selena Gomez, “Come and Get It”
38. Frank Ocean, “Eyes Like Sky”
39. Lana Del Rey, “Summertime Sadness”

Year in Gigs:

1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs (with Har Mar Superstar), May 12, 2013, House of Blues
Smushed into the front row by a crowd of surprisingly aggressive and scary young people, I gave into the chaos for the first time in my life.  No panic attack.  No diving for safer waters.  No passive aggressive elbow jabs.  I lost my mind for over an hour, parts of me forever smeared onto my neighbors (and parts of them melded into me).  One of the best shows of my life.  And Karen O held my hand.  I mean, c’mon.  We’re done here.

Karen O is my halfie queen.

2. nine inch nails (with Godspeed You! Black Emperor), October 11, 2013, TD Garden
If you’ve ever had the misfortune of attending a “heavier” show with me, you know I get a little wild.  Whiplash-y, drool-y, oh-my-God-get-away-from-me NUTZ.  Well last time I saw NIN (in Beijing), I reached that peak of utter insanity and have yet to replicate it.  This night was close, but in a section where 99% of the fuckers sat down (SAT DOWN. AT A NIN CONCERT.) it was hard to completely lose it with a straight face.  Alas.  Trent titled the tour “Tension” — which he said refers to the bubbling tension seething underneath the surface of the newfound control that he’s putting on the group — whereas I saw it as “SEXUAL TENSION.”  Everything was funked up — he even has soul sistahs now! — and I wanted to just grind myself into the arena flap-chairs like a horny mongrel.  And they played rarities like “Even Deeper” and “Into The Void.“  Hunh… even deeper into the void…  MY VOID.

We’re so high up you can’t even see Trent. Just that blast of light.

3. Empire of the Sun, September 7, 2013, House of Blues
An utterly blissful experience of smiles and joy.  The crowd was one of the few that did not annoy me once (shocking, considering it was mostly EDM fuckface kids) — not a single time!  And the euphoria was capped off by show-closing “Alive” where we all jumped in unison, smiling at each other, and one guy stopped, turned around to me and gave me a high five.  Fuck yeah.

Empyreans Unite!

4. KT Tunstall, September 25, 2013, Somerville Theater
A girl and her guitar.  That’s all you really need with KT Tunstall.  Crowded into a small, intimate theater (playing Insidious 2 next door…), we enjoyed such a special evening with one of the most underrated, hilarious and embarrassingly talented singers in contemporary music.  I laughed, I cried, I made bird sounds (yes, there was a bird-call contest).

KT is my quarter-Canto goddess.

5. Queens of the Stone Age (with The Kills), December 13, 2013, Agganis Arena
You want a balls out rock and roll show?  Indeed.  There were whiplash guitars, soaring choruses and absolutely crushing riffs.  I’ve waited AGES to see these guys and it was perfect.  A smaller setting might have been nicer, but they’re too big now for little old me.

QOTSA Rocking Your Ass

6. how to destroy angels, April 27, 2013, House of Blues
Trent.  Twice in a year.  Is this real life?!!  For this experimental set — one of only a handful of shows that the band will perform, ever — it was all about the mood, the stage show and the experience of seeing Trent, his wife, and his creative team just bend your mind and melt your brain with ingenuity.  “NIN with female vox” as they are often described.  I was lucky just to be there.

Marital Bliss

7. Alt-J, March 3, 2013, Paradise
Glad I saw them when (and where) I did: they came back 5 months later and played the Bank of America Pavilion.  In this tiny space (one of my all-time faves), they brought their stunning debut to life.  Like how to destroy angels, this was for the experience.  You’ll never get to see them at such an intimate venue ever again.

8. Selena Gomez and Jason Derulo, June 30, 2013, City Hall Plaza
Happy birthday to me!  This was a radio show where we caught a bevy of pop hits in a short amount of (free!) time.  The day was most memorable NOT for Ms. Selenerrrrrr, but for a mid-set crowd panic-rush that brought back terrifying visions of the Marathon bombing.  It was just a giant brawl, but for a moment, we all thought it was something much, much worse.

See you again next year!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Playlist: Fall Fun

“IT’S NOVEMBER!!!  WHAAAAAAAAT?!?!?!?!?!?!!?????” — me, this morning when I woke up.

Indeed, it is time to change the clocks, lament the death of nature and get our asses ready for the cold, brutal fist of winter to pummel us into the doldrums of S.A.D.  Yay?  At least the music keeps us warm.

The past two months whizzed by and before you know it, it’s time for the Year End Listocalypse.  Let’s get this show on the road.

As I muse over the “Big Picture” of 2013, the most striking theme of the year was soul, beats and humanity filtering their way into the sounds of my favorite artists (see: NIN, Daft Punk, Arcade Fire).  Call it the Let’s Dance Bowie-fication (or, on a lesser scale, the Viva La Vida-ing of a sound).  I’ll blather on about it at the end of December, but I’d just like to make mention here, since most of the songs that follow are full of big beats, big emotion and a lot more humanity than I’m used to at this time of the year.  Here’s what I’ve got for September:

1. Coldplay – “Atlas”
That song from the Catching Fire soundtrack.  Sounds like nothing they’ve ever done before, and yet it’s perfectly Coldplay.  For better or worse.

2. Arcade Fire – “Reflektor”
Is this their best song ever?  Apologies to the “Wake Up” crowd — I’m a Suburbs man, myself — but this is just a 7-minute party with AF, Bowie and James Murphy.

3. Jessie Ware – “Night Light”/”Sweet Talk”/”Imagine It Was Us”
Smooth and cool.  If I had known about this album when it came out last year, it’d be in the Top 10.  It has dominated my past few months.  It fulfills everything I loved and missed about the early ’90s, in my debut-Mariah phase of life.

4. Ylvis – “The Fox”
Yes, seriously.  This is a great song.

5. OneRepublic – “Preacher”/”Can’t Stop”/”Light It Up”
This OneRepublic album…it’s a grower!  No shame!  While Ryan Tedder is one of the best pop writers around today, he still can’t figure out what he wants his band to sound like.  “Preacher” is their Coldplay phase.  This song should be mashed up with “Paradise” because it’s basically the same song.  Then we have some other Top 40 radio rip-offery with “Can’t Stop” and “Light It Up” — which is to say these should ALL be on the radio.  ASAP.

6. BANKS – “This Is What It Feels Like”
If Aaliyah were still alive today (god, how I cried), she’d be making songs like this.  So smooth, so sexy, so awesome.

7. KT Tunstall – “Feel It All”/”Made of Glass”
“Feel It All” is the most uptempo song on her new album of desert twang ballads.  The chorus is a sweeping gorgeous little thing.  Then we have “Made of Glass” which is bar-none one of the greatest songs KT has ever written (whoa, slow down Neil!).  The ending whistle solo with orchestral backup caves my chest in.  One of the highlights of my year.

8. Austra – “Home”
Poor Austra are getting swept by the wayside in this overstuffed year of amazing releases.  This is a highlight from their latest that I keep coming back to.  I’m sure I’ll get better acquainted with this album, but not this year.

9. Savages – “No Face”
This song is fucking brutal.  Claws to the face, thrashing in a sweaty pit, hair-pulled in quasi-sexual physical overexertion.  I want to kick, I want to jump, I want to fuck, I want to spit and scream and shake my face around like I was seizing.  Holy shit, I love this song.

10. Schoolboy Q – “Collard Greens” feat. Kendrick Lamar
I slept on Kendrick Lamar for too long, and I am ashamed.  This kid is the real thing.  Schoolboy is part of his crew and this is his most palatable song (for me).  I can’t get enough from the blippy-bloopy, driving beats.  The rhymes are quote-worthy too.  I’m happy to be interested in rap again.

Album of September: based purely on how much I listened to it on loop, this is most definitely the month of Jessie Ware’s Devotion.  Sure the album didn’t come out this year, but whateverrrrrr it is stunning.  Take me back to 1991!

Now we move on to October.

1. KT Tunstall – “Alchemy”
I saw her at the end of September and it was a revelation.  I’d waited a very long time and she did not disappoint.  This was an unknown track from her setlist — a rare track from a concert-only EP release — and it’s such a delicate piece of beauty, the kind of snowflake track that you’re scared will melt if you play it too loud.  Just…absolute beauty.

2. Sisters of Mercy – “This Corrosion”
Holy shit!  Thank you World’s End end credits!  Thank you Simon Pegg!  If I went through my formative teen years in the 80s, I’d totally be a Sisters of Mercy fan haha, who am I even kidding.  This shit is awesome.  All the doom and gloom of Joy Division and The Cure, but with a nice dance-y dose of Bowie.

3. Lady Gaga – “Venus”
This song was released a few days ago and it’s already jumped up my charts to dethrone everything you see below, songs which had a whole month to spend with me before being unceremoniously flung from their perches by this wacko Sun-Ra-sampling ode to planetary romance.

4. Linkin Park and Steve Aoki – “A Light That Never Comes”
Have you HEARD this song?  It’s a perfect collab — even more appropriate than their Collision Course experiment with Jigga — and it makes me want to to go to a dance party and pretend I’m a little EDM shit.  BANGER.

5. Lorde – “Buzzcut Season”
Yeah I finally caved and now I like “Royals.”  But the rest of the album is great too.  This is my clear standout.  It’s a hypnotizing, insistent groover, perfect for chill-out mixes and emoting with your online friends.

6. Lady Gaga – “Do What You Want” feat. R. Kelly
Read that line again.  Did you ever think you’d see “Gaga” and “R. Kelly” in the same sentence?  I surely did not.  Her Manson collabo-remix made more sense.  But here we are and this song is huge.  You miss The Fame?  Prepare to rejoice, Poker Face.  I think it would fit nicely on Fame Monster though.  It’s R&B Gaga, someone you all missed.  R.Kelly’s verse is perfect.  This is all just so ridiculous it works.

7. Florence and the Machine – “Strangeness and Charm”
Thank you Shazaam.  Thank you Cole Haan outlet store.  This was a bonus track from Ceremonials and I’m ashamed that I didn’t have it already.  It should have been on the final album cut.  It’s huge, a typical Florence wailer.  I love this ginger powerhouse.

8. Kendrick Lamar – “M.A.A.D. City”
As you read above, I’m finally onboard with Kendrick Lamar.  I’ve had this song for over a year but I never listened to it.  Stupid ass Neil.  Makes me miss the glory days of Death Row.  This song makes me drive fast.

9. Miley Cyrus – “Wrecking Ball”
OHHHHH SHIIIIIIIIT, no he DI’INT!  Yes I did…  After a horrible shame spiral that required a lot of emotional support, my sister and I finally succumbed to this fucking song and omg I love to sing it at the top of my lungs.  My stepmom walked in on me the other day, wailing in the kitchen.  I felt like I had just been caught masturbating.  So, much, shame.  But damn it if this song isn’t one of the Top 10 Best Pop Songs of 2013.  Congrats, you misguided little soul.

10. Drake – “Hold On We’re Going Home”
Add this to my shame spiral.  I hate Drake.  But fuckit I LOVE THIS SONG.  I love singing along, I love to pretend I’m smooth.  And I can sing it better than he can haha (hashtag drake you suck).

Album of October: surely this will turn some heads, but sorry, Arcade Fire just released their new album a couple days before the end of the month, so the winner remains Goldfrapp and their Tales of Us.  They had the good sense to release it at a decent time of the month, in time for my rankings.  It’s quiet, introspective.  Let’s put it this way, since you’ll only want this if you’re a Goldfrapp fan: file this under Felt Mountain and Seventh Tree, NOT Black Cherry, Supernature or Head First.  It falls somewhere between Felt and Seventh — no song is as rollicking as the least rollicking on Felt Mountain, and yet no song is as uplifting or carefree as anything on Seventh Tree.

Goldfrapp’s Tales of Us

See you at the end of the year…

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2012: Year In Concerts

Stray observations concerning this year’s gigs: Coldplay.  Coldplay Coldplay Coldplay.  Saw both American Idol and X-Factor, making me an official reality TV singing contest super fan.  I saw Phillip Phillips twice this year.  I can’t believe it either.  Also saw Fuel, for free, at a local festival full of drunken white trash.  You take what you can.  I’m so happy to be back in the US.

  1. ColdplayJuly 29, TD Garden, Boston, MA
    There’s nothing I could write to convey the absolutely ineffable surge of pure joy and happiness that this concert provided.  If you went to one of the shows, you know what I’m talking about.  If you didn’t get a chance to, this video recorded in Paris gives a nice glimpse.  Xylobands, man.  Fucking Xylobands.  It was the most interactive concert experience I’ve ever had in my lifetime of 300+ concerts.  I laughed, I cried, I screamed, and I nearly fainted at one point.  It’s concerts like this that make me pass on upcoming shows that I know won’t be as worth it.  If for some strange reason I could only go to one concert again and again for the rest of my life (Groundhog Day-style), it would be this one.

    Best of the year and, quite frankly, one of the best of all time.

    Best of the year and, quite frankly, one of the best of all time.

  2. The Killers, December 17, Agganis Arena, Boston, MA
    Wow.  Just wow.  I was scared…no, terrified… that this would be a monumental letdown brought upon by years and years of wishing and waiting and hoping (ahem, Oasis…).  I had been waiting since 2004.  I lived through a cancelled Beijing gig.  And now finally I could see The Killers.  First of all, they put on a fucking rock show.  Pyro.  Fireworks.  Confetti.  And they are no pussies either, killing it on guitar and Rock God stances.  Brandon Flowers has grown into one of the most charismatic frontmen of our time and I’m happy to have seen him chipper, charming and upbeat.  Touring behind my album of the year also didn’t hurt.  Hit after hit after hit, the singalongs just kept coming.  Simply exhausting.  In the happiest of ways.

    Battle born.

    Battle born.

  3. Kaiser Chiefs, March 6, Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA
    Crammed into a tiny club with an odd assortment of Kaiser’s fans, I proceeded to experience one of the best singalong concerts of my career.  I forgot how much I love KC (and how well I remembered every single song lyric).  I lost my voice, was sore for days, but age be damned, it was worth it.

    Ricky messing around on the club's bar.  Very intimate performance...

    Ricky messing around on the club’s bar. Very intimate performance…

  4. Florence and the Machine, September 14, Comcast Center, Mansfield, MA
    I wanted a moment.  And I knew precisely which moment I wanted.  “During ‘No Light, No Light‘, I want a gusty breeze to blow through the crowd, awash in purple or blue light, flowing through Flo’s hair.”  And lo and behold, maybe I was a good boy that week, but that happened.  I couldn’t believe it.  For that “moment” (see #2 above), the sky was still, the stars were shining and the moon was bright, a cool steady breeze streamed through the amphitheater, we were bathed in dim purple light, and Flo let that sustained note rip through the night air.  Magically majestic.

    Pure majesty.

    Pure majesty.

  5. Keane, June 12, House of Blues, Boston, MA
    Much like the Kaisers gig, the Keane show was all about the singalong.  Although they were touring behind the relatively (even for Keane) boring album, Strangeland, it was still a great show.  The live setting improved those boring new album tracks and their old hits were just ripe for audience ecstasy.  Bafflingly, there were a bunch of rapey-looking douchebags there.  The ones next to us were scamming on girls.  Annoying jerks aside, it was nice to finally hear “Bedshaped” live.

    Not a bunch of pussies, as you'd expect...

    Not a bunch of pussies, as you’d expect…

  6. Of Monsters and Men, April 7, House of Blues, Boston, MA
    Seriously, getting in on a band’s big break is something special.  This was their first US tour and we were one of the first stops.  The HoB was PACKED to the top sections of the highest balcony and each song had a singalong progressively cheerier and more uplifting than the last.  It felt like a party with a band that had been around for decades.  Here’s hoping they stick around.

    Don't listen to a word I say... HEY!  Mumford x Bjork...

    Don’t listen to a word I say… HEY! Mumford x Bjork…

  7. Ours, June 28, Johnny D’s, Somerville, MA
    You don’t often get to stand face-to-face with one of your favorite singers of all time…while they’re performing, almost screaming directly into your face.  But what if you’re in a crappy dive, a local restaurant with a dance floor and booths?  It was sad, a bit pathetic and yet nothing to be ashamed of.  Ours is severely underrated.  They have shit luck.  But their debut album is one of my favorites of all time, one of my top 5 desert island discs.  So I’m glad they’re still trying, fighting to stick around.  It was hard to absorb all of the energy when half the crowd was munching on dinner, but I’m just happy they’re still here for their fans.

    He can see into your SOUL.

    He can see into your SOUL.

  8. Neon Trees, December 7, Lansdowne Pub, Boston, MA
    Yeah, I can’t believe it either.  This performance kicked ass.  We were there for a free radio show.  Tristan Prettyman and Phillip Phillips opened.  The crowd was full of mom-age women and girls in their late 20s.  An odd mix of an audience for this flamboyant band who has toured with The Killers and 30 Seconds to Mars.  But hot damn, as soon as they came on, I was a fan.  They have one of the best frontmen I’ve seen and they exuded such determined energy for such a lame audience that I was quite impressed.  I would have never, ever ever, in a bajillion years expected Neon Trees to put on such a great show.

    Hey, sexy lady~

    Hey, sexy lady~

  9. Joshua Ledet – American Idol Live!, August 26, Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, RI
    You remember moment #1 from the previous section?  Yeah.  I got to experience it live.  In person.  It knocked me on my ass.  Sure it was nice to see Phillip Phillips sing “Home” with Deandre and Colton on harmony.  But Joshua took us all to church.

    Sorry Joshua, no pix of you, only Phillip Phillips.  I can't believe I saw this dude twice this year...

    Sorry Joshua, no pix of you, only Phillip Phillips. I can’t believe I saw this dude twice this year…

  10. Ingrid Michaelson and Greg Laswell, July 27, Lupo’s, Providence, RI
    What a double-billing: husband and wife, on tour together.  It’s like if Gwen and Gavin brought No Doubt and Bush back on the road together, except for the quiet, contemplative indie-folk crowd.  Greg underwhelmed us with an acoustic session (Bah!) but Ingrid gave us a satisfying mix of awesome musical talent and hilarious between-song banter.  If she had a show, I’d watch it.  Like New Girl, but less annoying than Zooey D.

    It's adorable because they're married IRL.

    It’s adorable because they’re married IRL.

  11. Fiona Apple, March 27, The Royale, Boston, MA
    In all fairness, it’s not her fault I was so underwhelmed.  After all, I had waited over a decade to see her, one of my favorite artists, and she was finally back for a tiny club comeback tour.  Holy shit, this was going to be orgasmic!  Incorrect.  Paying nearly $1 per minute of this dismally short set (less than a fucking hour!), I wanted more.  Not only more songs in general, but more older songs.  She played mostly new stuff, which is okay, but argh, she showed little love to Tidal and Extraordinary Machine.  WTF.  Thank god for good company.

    IMG_0329

    Fiona Apple, not making my $60 worthwhile.

  12. Tenacious D, July 2, Bank of America Pavilion, Boston, MA
    Hilarious.  Seeing those two tubby motherfuckers perform all their classics in front of a giant inflatable Cock-Phoenix (complete with giant testes, confetti cum AND a combo vagina/anus doorway) was something I had looked forward to for almost ten years.   Yeah, they’ve been around that long.  But what I didn’t realize was that, in the 10 years since “Wonder Boy,” I grew up.  Cock and ball jokes don’t crack me up as much as before.  Giggling about marijuana intake, anal sex and rocking out are also in the past.  I still love a good fart joke, but still, we were brought to the Altar of the D on a wave of nostalgia.  Unfortunately for me, it was more of a Goodbye than a Welcome Back.

    Oh look, it's a phoenix made of cock 'n balls!  I'm 13 years old!  This rules!  (Actually, it was kinda cool ;P)

    Oh look, it’s a phoenix made of cock ‘n balls! I’m 13 years old! This rules! (Actually, it was kinda cool ;P)

  13. Fuel, August 2, Mediera Festival, New Bedford, MA
    Lord on high, this was a fucking hot mess.  Even though we were literally a 5 minute walk away from the sofa to the “venue,” the crowd just ruined it.  Even though it was free.  Even though I’d been waiting a very long time to hear “Hemorrhage.”  Even though, like I said, we were a  5 minute walk away.  The combination of white and ghetto trash — all drunk, mind you — crammed together in a great awful slushie of August humidity just ruined it.  We heard “Shimmer” and got the fuck out.  No amount of “free” was worth it.

    White trash meltdown.

    White trash meltdown.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2012 Song Favorites: Videos and Moments

If you survived — or even bothered to read — that overblown list of songs, thank you and congratulations on many years of extended life.  If you discovered even one new “favorite” from that enormous glut, I’ll consider my time on earth to be a success.  Here I present my favorite videos of the year, as well as the “moments” — the brief glimpses of songs that keep me coming back over and over again.  Call it an addiction to goosebumps.

 

Favorite Videos

psy

1. PSY – “Gangnam Style

I’ll never forget the first time I saw this video and thought it was the most amazing thing ever.  Then a couple weeks later, the rest of the world had the same realization.  Yes, I just hipster-cred’ed PSY.  Witty, hilarious and the catchiest thing to come out of Korea since plastic surgery, I’m still not sick of this song.  I know, I can’t believe it either.

2. Coldplay – “Princess of China

Shaw Bros x Coldplay x Rihanna = amazing. 克利斯 马丁 万岁!

3. Of Monsters and Men – “Little Talks

Gorgeous, magical little clip in the vein of Tim Pope’s old cutout videos (ref. Coldplay “Trouble“).  I’m hipster cred’ing this bitch too, as you can refer to my post from the beginning of the year.

4. Alt-J – “Fitzpleasure

Goofy band (in the vein of Battles and Hot Chip) greenlighting a dark, lush video dripping with sexual and religious imagery?  Sold.

5. Juliet – “My First Hardcore Song

I still get a kick out of this 8-year old Aussie growling about her dog Grommit and opening up a mosh pit on a trampoline with her stuffed animals.  She kicks more ass than many bands these days…

6. The Black Keys – “Lonely Boy

Chubby dancing nerd.  No, not Psy.  This is Carlton Banks at 50.  Amaaaaazing.

7. Bjork – “Mutual Core

This is what it looks like when rocks fuck and fight.  And vomit and bleed and rage.  Such an elemental and visceral experience for the hardest thing Bjork has recorded since Homogenic.  Churning, pulsing, and thrusting with buzzsaw hardcore breaks.  It’s amazing.  And all a little terrifying.

8. The Rolling Stones – “Doom and Gloom

Noomi Rapace’s boobs.  Because I didn’t see enough in the Millennium trilogy movies.

9. How To Destroy Angels – “Ice Age

Trent, wifey and his pals hole up in a cabin at the edge of the earth during the apocalypse, playing a sparse tune that is oddly warming and organic.

10. Lana Del Rey – “Blue Jeans

Wanky.

 

My Favorite Moments

These are the points of the song where I get chills.  Go crazy.  Giggle with anticipation.  Turn up the volume.  Cry uncontrollably.  Strip my clothes off.  Play the broom like a guitar.  Not all at the same time though…

  1. Joshua Ledet – “It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World
    There’s a point at 2:32 where he unleashes such a pure and passionate “HOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” that it just sends shocks of goosebumps through my brain.  Like every single time.  You can’t even fucking come close to this kid’s power.  Like Winehouse hijacking “Valerie” from the Zutons and Hendrix swiping “Watchtower” from Dylan, this will forever be his song (sorry James Brown).  Gatdayum! 
  2. Florence and the Machine – “No Light, No Light
    The moment at 3:07 with the synth line, when the heavens open and Flo belts out a sustained 15 second wail.  Fuck. Me.
  3. Bat for Lashes – “The Haunted Man
    At 2:54 (3:13 on the live video link), there comes a swell of low-end rumbling goodness that, if you’re sitting in a car, will surge from the bottoms of your feet up through the hairs on your head.  It is so blissful that sometimes I just sit and wait for it with my eyes closed (parked, of course).
  4. Muse – “Madness
    The prettiest delivery of any Muse love lyric.  Ever.  4:10 “I need your looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove” followed by a smooth and sweeping crash.  Thank you, Kate Hudson.
  5. Ellie Goulding – “Holding On
    The drop at 1:22.  Whoooooooooooosh.
  6. The Black Keys – “Little Black Submarines
    When it turns into a Led Zeppelin song at 2:08.  *Neil strips, grabs the broom-guitar, and tears up the kitchen*
  7. Regina Spektor – “Open
    At 2:38, something so jarring, so unexpected, and so uncomfortable happens, that your previous enjoyment of the song is suddenly shaken.  And yet it has its intended effect: you feel suffocated, gasping for air like a fish suffocating to death on dry land.
  8. Taylor Swift – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
    The lines: “This is exhausting” (2:23) & “… with some indie record that’s much cooler than mine” (1:19)
  9. Howard Shore – “Song of the Lonely Mountain/Thorin’s Song
    When the dwarfs start singing.  Awesome.  And then the sweeping orchestra comes in a wave over the Misty Mountains.  Goosebumps.  I think I watched the trailer a couple hundred times just to keep hearing this segment.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If We Ran Things: Saving Mylo

When RiRi met Chris Martin

“If We Ran Things” is a section devoted to the sensible decisions we’d make if we were part of the evil machine: the record industry.  In this entry, Neil attempts to resuscitate Coldplay’s lackluster campaign for their uneven latest release, Mylo Xyloto.

I love Coldplay.  I won’t apologize for it.  For all the flack they get for being boring, play-it-safe pussies, they still crank out amazing songs, one of the best live shows on the planet, and a much-needed dose of joy, happiness and optimism in the music scene.  I’m their ideal fan: the optimistic sucker who is a hopeless romantic that has had his heart stomped on a couple times, yet still believes in love and a brighter day.  I know, right?  Barf.  Yet I will continue to defend them until that fateful day when they inevitably release a rap album.  Then I’ll still buy that record and just grumble in the corner by myself like a crazed hobo until somebody comes to take me to bed.

Mylo Xyloto is an uneven record.  It’s their weakest album.  I can’t deny it any longer (Phil, Tim, mea culpa!).  If there’s a theme to be wrenched from the lame concept (the love story of a boy named Mylo and his sweetheart Xyloto… or somesuch nonsense), it’s looking on the bright side of love.  And what better way to showcase this weak love story than with a duet of monumental proportions, a track filled with such star-power that it threatens to destroy the charts with it’s pure, calculated genius?

Enter “Princess of China,” the most unfortunately named song in the Coldplay catalog, even for a Sinophile like me.  The soaring vocals, the thumping synth beat, the almost war-like blaze of passion between the male and female characters.  And yes, Rihanna.

*Stunned silence*

Waitwaitwaitwait!  Now before you close this window on your browser, PLEASE hear me out.  We’ve already accepted the fact that this is Coldplay’s bid for the pop-dance-whatever market, so just forget about your beloved Parachutes/…Rush of Blood guys and stick with me for a minute.  Because if you want Mr. Martin to keep the band afloat and record Parachutes II: Acoustic Boogaloo in the future, they need another hit.

Rihanna is the cure-all for mainstream pop radio.  Not as obnoxious as Katy Perry (2011’s other unstoppable pop tart), Rihanna could turn her farts into a looped beat and the American public would eat it up.  Her voice is recognizable without being too annoying (subjective, I know), it adds much needed soul to Martin’s creaky whingeing, and she actually has that deep, deep pain to back up a line like “You really hurt me” (Chris Brown is evil.  NEVER FORGET.)   Chris has already worked with both Jay-Z and Kanye, who have also both worked many times with Rihanna.  This duet was only natural.  Coldplay have already kind of sold-out with this album, so why not just embrace the shame and release the track that will demolish the charts?

We may be currently witnessing Coldplay’s ZooTV/Pop stage of their career (what kind of music blog would we be without tossing in that ever-annoying comparison to U2?), which means that a “return to form” a la All That You Can’t Leave Behind might be right around the corner.  A Boy can hope (get it?  BOY?  Punny!).  But if Coldplay expect to get any more mileage out of this effort, they need to release a hit and release it quickly.

I have a hunch they are smart enough to do it, but what do I know?  I’m sitting on my sofa with my laptop while Coldplay is leveling an arena right now.  Alas, if and when the song hits radio, you can thank me for tipping you off first.  I will expect props.  Copious, copious props.

Tagged , ,