Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Asobi Seksu | Higher Ground | Feb 25th

Before I left for Sunday night's Asobi Seksu show at Higher Ground, I was giving my son a bath and listening to Asobi Seksu's blistering dream pop extravaganza Citrus. I asked him if he liked it. He said, "Yeh. It sounds like rock and roll." Truer words haven't been spoken.

I arrived after Wax on Radio and left before The Ataris hit the stage. I was just there to see the folks from NYC. Due to it being Oscars night, I was afraid of finding a tiny crowd in the room. However, while it wasn't packed there seemed to be over a hundred people there which is much better than I was expecting.

Knowing I wanted the Maxell effect from their sonic whirlwind, I took a spot up close to the stage. When I got up there I found a crowd of about twenty sorority girls. Not exactly the crowd I was expecting to find pushed up against the stage for a Japanese-American shoegaze. But I didn't care. They were all about five foot nothing so my view was clear.
I had never seen Asobi Seksu live before so I wasn't sure if they were able to recreate their swirling layers of feedback and pop hooks in concert. Maybe it was all production room trickery. I had no idea what to expect and I've seen plenty of bands lay duds on stage with flat performances of songs off otherwise stellar albums.

However, to my great joy, Asobi Seksu went the other direction. From the first moments to the last ringing tones, their songs popped; even beyond what they had captured in the studio. They completely created and controlled the throbbing wall of sound while never missing a single hook. They even nailed the Phil Spector inspired hooks on "Strawberries" which I had been convinced was a studio engineered moment. It was phenomenal. At one point, I felt like yelling out "Holy Shit!" like some guy did during an early Arcade Fire performance that Brad of Bradley's Almanac had posted. I was just amazed by what I was hearing.
Did I mention the immediate crush I developed for Yuki? So cute and she rocks that keyboard. And that voice of hers perfectly cuts through the heavy aural haze. I have no idea what she's ever saying but I don't care. It's all about the tone and bounce of her voice.

As I was driving home, the thing I kept thinking about was how so many people had attended and loved the Sonic Youth show the previous Sunday but missed the Asobi Seksu show this week. It was a great opportunity to catch a similar band at the peak of their career rather than waiting till 2020 for the reunion tour.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Beautiful Day

Sunday was a gorgeous sunny day up here so we took the kids skiing. Between runs on the bunny slope with my daughter, I snuck in a few runs from the top where I snapped thes shots.

The top one is from the peak of Bolton looking west across Lake Champlain to the Adirondacks. It was so clear that you can actually make out Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid.

The photo below is looking south down the spine of the Green Mountains.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Pepsi Gets Racy

I had written this entire post about how Pepsi was using a racy song in their new ad but then someone left a comment pointing out that the French version of the song has completely different (and very clean) lyrics despite having similar music. So, I pulled the post.

Then I noticed that the post had reached the top ten posts on the Hype Machine and realized there was a lot of demand for the song. So, go ahead. Enjoy the ad and song.

Plastic Bertrand | Ça Plane Pour Moi | Buy

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Mardi Gras Parade

Here's a video of my favorite float in this afternoon's Mardi Gras parade in Burlington. I loved the guy's spinning at the back of the float.

And here's Eva Deadbeat's excellent video of last year's parade set to the Beasties.

Frost Heaves on NPR

If you missed it, NPR's weekly sports show, Only a Game, had a segment on the Frost Heaves this morning. You can listen to on the show's site.

Not much new info for regular fans of the team but it was nice to hear the players talk about how much they are enjoying playing in VT. The scariest part of the story was when they mentioned that owner Alexander Wolf has spent $400,000 this year running the club. I imagine a portion of that amount is one-time start-up costs (franchise fees, uniforms, mascot, etc.), However, if you figure they are averaging about 1,200 fans a game and the average ticket is $10, that's only about $192,000 in ticket sales for the year (plus playoffs). I sure hope the sponsorships are making up the difference.

By the way, the Frost Heaves were 25-5 going into Saturday night's game. Their last home game of the season will be next Thursday, Mar 1st in Burlington against Montreal. The playoffs start the week of March 12th.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sonic Youth | Higher Ground | Feb 18th

The Vermont blogosphere is going gaga over last Sunday's Sonic Youth show. So, I thought I'd get off my ass and post a few thoughts about the show.

- Wooden Wand, the opening acoustic duo, struggled to gain the crowd's attention. Their latest album, Second Attention, is OK but it isn't a sound that is going to win over a large room of uninitiated folks catching up with their friends.

- The new decorations on the ceiling annoyed me at first. The bright pink spinning light on the right towards the stage was particularly distracting. However, over the course of the show, they grew on me. Perhaps it was the beer but I think it was more a factor of realizing the room needed something. It had been a bit of a sterile room. So, the spinning planets added a bit of atmosphere and hopefully inspiration to the artists. If you haven't seen them yet, here's a clip I filmed of them during SY's "Rats".

- I was glad to see former Pavement bassist Mark Ibold on stage with the band. I always get a good chuckle out of watching him play. He's always sporting that goofy grin and staring at the fretboard like a guy at his first lesson. I can't think of any other musician that has logged as much stage time around the globe as Ibold and still stares so intently at their frets.

- Great setlist. I never expected to hear so many earlier tunes. "100%" was a huge treat. And the tunes from their Saturnine-inspired new album Rather Ripped sounded super-duper live. On Highgate, Tanner noted that SY didn't do much of the rib-rattling experimental walls of sound that they are famous for. The songs were kept pretty tight. They did a little towards the end but it was much less than when I saw them in the 90's and it didn't make the walls tremble as much as before. I don't know if the show was an outlier or if they've moved away from that stuff in recent years but I had no problem with it. They have so many good songs, I was happy to see them work their way through a solid set list than spend 10 minutes exploring their reverb. Here's a clip from "Teenage Riot". As usual, the sound sucks but it gives a sense of the scene.

- I've never seen Thurston Moore be so bubbly. He was chatty and enthusiastic throughout the set. The two times I had seen them before, he was much darker and introverted. But that was about a decade ago and a lot can happen in that time. The reason why his bright mood was so ingratiating is that not many bands of SY's ilk come to VT. So, we were probably all a lot more excited to see them than they were to be playing Burlington. However, Thurston and everyone in the band seem to be greatly enjoying being there which, as a fan, feels great.

- I spent most of the show in the back in front of the soundboard. At one point, while taking a picture, I realized that my hand was casting a shadow all the way up onto the stage. I turned around and noticed the projector right behind me for their projected images. So, being a dork, I contorted my hand into the shape of a dog's head and started making ten foot tall hand shadows onto their backdrop. I had the dog barking and going back and forth across the stage. Then I started having the dog bite Thurston's head. Well, I guess that was the final straw because the lighting guy grabbed my shoulder and told me to stop. It was amusing while it lasted. I just wish I had gotten a photo or video of it.

- Here's some photographic proof that there are hipsters in Vermont. However, there were a lot of Canadians there so it might have been an imported hipster.

- The local artist, JDK, who does a lot of the post-show concert posters for Higher Ground did something a little different for the SY show. He printed signs that said, "Thank You Sonic Youth. You made it okay to:" Fans could then fill in the blank. JDK then photographed the fans holding up their signs and posted them on his website. If you scroll to the right on his site, mine is the one about snowmobile suits. It's a reference to 1980's TV appearance SY did on some late night program (similar to this Letterman performance of "100%" but in snowmobile suits). However, after walking away, I realized the correct answer was: You made it okay to: Play Burlington.

- Eva Deadbeat has a cool video of the scene and JDK's poster thingy.

Flood Watch 2007!

The talk of the town around Montpelier these days is the possible flood coming our way over the next month. I'm not an expert on floods but, based upon a few articles, here's what seems to be going on:

Earlier in the winter, an ice jam formed in the Winooski River which runs through town. The jam is just west of downtown before the river passes under I-89. That has constricted the flow of water which has led to more build-up of ice up the river from the jam. That sets the scene for what might cause the flooding. If we get a nice gentle warming over the next six weeks, the jam may melt without any flooding. However, if we get one or two of those classic late March days where it warms up to 50 degrees and rains heavily, we're fucked.

Downtown Montpelier flooded on March 11, 1992 when an ice jam formed up by the intersection of the Winooski River and North Branch. You can see where the town flooded in this map. The flooded areas are blue. Thankfully, our house is up on a hill and not in danger.

You can see a pair of pictures of the 1992 flood here.

The problem with that flood was that people only had about 15 minutes warning. This time the town has a few weeks to prepare. So, people are starting to move things out of their basements; and their first floors in the particularly low-lying areas. My wife works on the edge of downtown and we'll spend some time this weekend moving her stuff out of the basement. It'll be a hassle but it's a good bit of caution. Hopefully, it'll prove entirely unnecessary in a few weeks.

If you feel like monitoring the level of the river, the USGS has a gage in the Winooski and a website that provides data from that gage. The chart on the bottom of the page (and at the top of this post) shows the current height of the river. Right now, it's about 6 ft. right now depending on the time of the day. The low-lying basements start to flood at 9 ft. and the river will spill over the banks into downtown at 15 ft.

Here's to hoping that we have a lot of dry 38 degree days over the next month.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Hero Cycle Contest

In honor of The Hero Cycle's debut EP and their show at Higher Ground on Wednesday night with The Lymbyc System, we are having a little contest. Here's how it'll work:

The first person who sends us an email at False45th[at]gmail[dot]com with the correct answer to the question below will win a copy of The Hero Cycle's stacked debut EP titled Lakes and Ponds.

Question: Where did The Hero Cycle play their first show?

Hint: The answer is on this blog in an earlier post.

If you don't win, the disc is available via emusic, iTunes and directly from the band.

For those outside VT, here are some other upcoming tour dates:

2/21/2007 @ Higher Ground in Burlington, VT. W/ Lymbyc Systym & Relay.
2/23/2007 @ New Wave Cafe in New Bedford, MA. W/ TBA.
⇩ CD Release Party! ⇩
3/16/2007 @ Club Metronome in Burlington, VT. W/ TBA.
3/21/2007 @ Abbey Lounge in Somerville, MA. W/ Polyethylene.
3/24/2007 @ Trash Bar in Brooklyn, NYC. W/ Lolita Bras.

The Hero Cycle | Breathing In | Buy

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Deerhoof | Metro | Chicago | Jan 27th

Unfortunately, this post became a bit dated during my avalanche of work over the last month. However, it's still a bang-up review of the Deerhoof show in Chicago by False 45th's Midwest correspondent, TK. TK is a writer by trade. So, that's why his reviews are much better than the tripe I trot out.


Sat., Jan. 27
Chicago, IL

When Deehoof drummer Greg Saunier addressed the crowd at Saturday's show, I don't know if he was tired or just jittery. What I do know is he came off like the late Andy Kaufman in one of his bits where he's nervous and skittish.

Come to think of it, if Kaufman were still around, I'm guessing Deerhoof would be right up his alley. The band runs the gamut - I swear at least a few of their songs are an attempt to piss me off - but if you stick with the whole act, you'll get everything from sweet interludes, violent outbursts, playful silliness and a genius behind it all that leaves you elated you hung on for the entire strange ride.

The Metro is my kind of place - basically the stage, a small floor area in front and a small balcony over the top. The show was sold out but I didn't feel at all crowded as I assumed my usual position on the left, a first down away from the stage.

From the way the rousing drum beat during the opener, "+81" from the new release Friend Opportunity, cracked through the place, I knew this was going to be a unique concert. Count me among those who swear by Deerhoof's live reputation. I've seen a lot of great shows, particularly lately, but Deerhoof put on one of the best shows I've ever seen.

Deerhoof never really lets you get comfortable but I'm all right with that, as hooked as I got on The Runners Four. The band constantly changes tempo, toying with the audience by pulling back on the reins with soft, quiet moments before all hell breaks loose. The band has a huge thing for the start-stop, soft-loud dynamic. For the all the chaos involved, I never once got the impression the band was off the same wavelength despite ample opportunity for things to go wrong.

Lead singer/bassist Satomi Matsuzaki epitomizes the contradictions the band seem to thrive off of. You look at the her tiny frame and it's one of the least imposing statures in rock but don't be fooled. When Deerhoof feels the urge, I'll make the argument the band can unleash as much fury as anyone around.

Saunier and Matsuzaki occupy the front of the stage with guitarist John Dieterich stationed slightly behind and between the two of them. You don't see a lot of drummers at the front of the stage but you don't see drummers pummel their kit in as savage a fashion as Saunier either.

Just because Dieterich is in the back doesn't mean he's taking a backseat. When Deerhoof blasts away, Dieterich perfectly complements Saunier's thunderous beats.

Perhaps the best moment of a night filled with many was a triple shot of my favorite songs off The Runners Four - Spirit Ditties Of No Tone, Wrong Time Capsule and Twin Killers - played consecutively. Then to my surprise, the band pulled off melodic moments on songs like The Galaxist and Matchbook Seeks Maniac that were lighter in volume but no less stirring.

Deerhoof played for just over an hour. Like The Pixies and The White Stripes, they play a number or quick hitters for songs and they sure as hell don't need to play for a long time to make a lasting impression.

Because I've been sick lately, my voice was shot during the show but in exchange for my vocal chords, I gained a standard by which I'll be measuring other live acts. My recovery from being under the weather is coming along fine but the one I'll be making from the freaking truck that hit me Saturday night in the Metro will take far longer.

Opening bands: I've commented before on how stale I find the rap/hip-hop genre to be these days. With said, rapper Busdriver wasn't bad....wasn't bad at all. I was certainly eager to give him the benefit of the doubt after enduring Trin Tran, one of these guys who plays all the instruments by himself.

This is the second time I've seen an opening act like this and I'm quite underwhelmed. Perhaps these guys are too annoying to get anyone join them in a band. I'm sure I'm supposed to give him the benefit of the doubt because he's playing these different instruments at once, but if the music doesn't work, I don't care. To review, solo artists trying to play with multiple toys at the same time should be 1) female and 2) doing porn.

Security with a sense of humor Security guard: You guys have to get those jackets off the floor in front of the exit.
Dude with ridiculous lime green, pink and white plaid matching jacket and trousers: Why?
Security guard: Why do you think it's a bad idea to have coats on the floor in front of an exit?
Dude with ridiculous lime green, pink and white plaid matching jacket and trousers: (left speechless for several seconds)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Link Dump

After almost a month of not blogging (aka slammed at work), I thought I'd get back in the swing of things with a dump of stuff that's been piling up. So, in no particular order, here we go:

  • The 2007 Plug Awards were the other night. Here's the list of winners. I'm glad to see YLT win Best Indie Rock album simply because it jives with my top album.
  • Every year, Bonnaroo slides closer to the indie rock side of the music world. This year's line-up.
  • If you like the Song of the Day podcasts from KEXP and KCRW, you should check out the ones from Indiefeed and Minnesota Public Radio's The Current. Subscribing to those four podcasts gives you about 20 new songs a week. Who the hell needs music bloggers when you have that kind of access to new bands?
It feels good to be back at it. See everyone at the Sonic Youth show.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentines Day Blizzard 2007 UPDATE

32 inches in the backyard. I've heard of 48 inches in the area. Amazing. I hope to put up a few shots of the madness soon. It was absolutely beautiful this morning with crystal clear blue skies and zero degrees. Of course the beauty only came after hours of manual labor, but that's what gives balance.

Islands - Abominable Snowman.mp3

UPDATE - 8:37 PM

Four more inches and the yard stick would of been useless

Picnic Table

Two 120 gallon propane tanks under there, somewhere

Little man digging

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Gruff Rhys

Gruff Rhys - Candylion.mp3

Hot Chip x 3

Here are 3 versions of the Hot Chip tune And I Was a Boy From School from their '06 release The Warning.

Hot Chip - Boy From School (acoustic).mp3
Portastatic -
Boy From School (acoustic cover).mp3

Friday, February 09, 2007

Happening Higherground

Our local venue of choice, Higher Ground in S Burlington, appears to be asking us to come out to play again. After a dry spell through much of the fall and winter (which included the requisite hip hop show stabbing, a residency by Grace Potter, and plenty for the Phish followers: Umphrey's McGee, RAQ, etc), their early-spring dates are looking very promising. And what is spring if not the season of promise? Highlights:

Great job Higher Ground! There's nothing like the excitement of spring to make the brutally cold days bearable.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Arcade Fire on NPR

No, we didn't get tix to the Montreal shows. No matter, as NPR's great live concert program All Songs Considered will broadcast the band's February 17 show from NYC's Judson Memorial Church. The tracks will probably be archived for download the following day, as has been the case with Cat Power, The Decemberists, Wilco, Jenny Lewis, Built to Spill, Regina Spektor, Sleater-Kinney, Jose Gonzalez, Fiery Furnaces, Sonic Youth, The Walkmen, Mogwai, Neko Case, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Belle and Sebastian, The New Pornographers Colin Meloy, Laura Veirs, James Brown, Sinead O'Connor, Iron and Wine, Calexico, Son Volt, Death Cab for Cutie, My Morning Jacket, The White Stripes, M. Ward, Sigur Ros, Kings of Leon, Bloc Party, Interpol, and Bright Eyes. Phew. They are SO jumping on the bandwagon.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear - Lullabye.mp3