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First Aid Kit (Olympia Theatre 18/09/2014)

19 Sep

It’s crazy to think how far First Aid Kit have come over the last few years, from the teenagers we all originally saw in their cover of “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” to one of the most confident and successful folk duos in modern music. In many ways the Olympia Theatre feels like the perfect place for the band to play, big enough to accommodate their massive popularity but small enough to allow them to have some intimate moments with the audience.

20140918_200813-1Opening up for them was Jo Rose, honestly can’t say I’ve ever heard of him before tonight but his performance was pleasant enough (when it could be heard over the people talking in the crowd). Starting the gig off with a slightly awkward shout-out to Belfast he quickly recovered and got into the swing of things. His style made it a bit hard to judge how great the actual songs were but his love for playing certainly showed; definitely plan to listen to his album at some point to get a better feel for his music.

20140918_211615Coming on promptly at 9pm (feel like they deserve bonus points for this) the band dressed in suitably gold and shining outfits hit the ground running with the fantastic “Stay Gold” from their latest album. An early highlight for the crowd came in “King of the World” obviously lacking Conor Oberst vocals the song still sound great carried by Johanna and Kiara’s fantastic vocals. Honestly the whole concert could be summed up by that, what makes First Aid Kit such a great band are their vocals and harmonies and both sisters were in fine form last night. Their harmonies were beautiful, haunting and hypnotic depending on what the song required, at times it can be easy to get so caught up in the vocals that you fail to notice just how great the songs themselves actually are.
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Lovestarrs – Supernova

16 Sep


For a band that are just officially releasing their debut EP Lovestarrs already have quite the history behind them. Originally known as The Good Natured they gathered a lot of positive buzz with the fantastic “Your Body is a Machine” in 2009, the equally great Skeleton EP (Which I own on vinyl!) followed in 2011 and another solid single “5-HT” last year seemed to pave the way for what looked to be a very promising debut album. Unfortunately after being dropped by their label and failing to secure the rights to their masters it seemed like the end of the road.

Thankfully earlier this year the band rose from the ashes as the newly christened Lovestarrs with the release of “Get Your Sexy On“. Over the last few months as they slowly released songs on their Soundcloud it became clear that we were in for potentially something special.

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Ashley’s Longer-than-necessary-review of Lollapalooza 2013 (Sunday at any rate):

5 Aug

To preface all of this, I did not sleep the night before Lolla this year. Not by choice, but by a series of unfortunate events that led to my inability to fall asleep until ten minutes before my alarm went off Sunday morning. The day had begun brilliantly.

Being the ultra-goth that I am, I decided to try highlighting my hair before I left. I have no idea what possessed me to do that, but it was an interesting clash with the all-black ensemble I decided to wear. There’s nothing like 70 degree weather in August to encourage one to play their part. I, of course, rocked the Threadless “Friday I’m in Love” Tee:

Anyways, enough about me. On to more about…well…me, and my impressions of Lolla:

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Review/Running Diary – The National – Trouble Will Find Me

10 May

Well, here we are, album number 6.  It’s hard to believe they’re this far into their career now.  But, of course, I’m one of those people who hope they’ll be around for at least 60 more.  Especially if they’re of the same quality as the last three.  Does Trouble Will Find Me stack up?  Let’s find out!

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Movie Review – Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

24 Apr Big Star Barn

We now interrupt your regularly scheduled music reviews in order to bring you something…a little different…A movie review.

Over the next few days, I will be reviewing three of the films I saw at the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival.  As mentioned in this blog post, I had the opportunity to attended the CIMM Fest this year, in lieu of Record Store Day.  It was the first film festival I have ever attended and it was an absolutely wonderful experience.  I can’t wait until this October, because I will definitely be going to the Chicago International Film Festival.

The first of the three reviews will be for the Big Star documentary: Nothing Can Hurt Me.  The other two will cover Last Shop Standing and My Father and the Man in Black.

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me is an incredibly misguided work of love, an ode to a band that has had more than their fair share of hard knocks.  If you are not familiar with the story of Big Star, in short, they were the band that never was.  Ask anyone who was there at the time, or who love them now and they’ll tell you: Big Star should have been in the pantheon of rock history’s greatest.  The legend, as it is, with The Velvet Underground was that only 1,000 people bought The Velvet Underground & Nico, but all 1,000 of them joined a band.  If that’s the case, than of the 10 copies of #1 Record that actually made distribution, all ten of those listeners not only started bands, but then the bands that heard them started bands and a net of great influence was born.  

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Review – Charli XCX – True Romance

12 Apr

I can’t believe I’m finally writing this review.

Let me back up.  Maybe I haven’t shared with you all my intense love for Charli XCX.  Maybe I’ve been too busy trying to spread the gospel of David Bowie, My Bloody Valentine and Wampire.

If that’s the case, I apologize, because it means that I spent less time sharing with the world the magic that is Charli XCX.

I suppose the reason that I have sort of hung back in making much mention of Charli XCX is that it’s just taken so long for her debut album to come out.  I’ve literally been waiting well over a year for this bad boy, after running into her music early into 2012 (may have even been late 2011).  I ran across “Nuclear Seasons” on, what I believe was, an NME list of bands to watch in 2012.  And watch I did.  I jumped on every single, followed on Twitter/Facebook/etc.  I had never gone this hard for an artist I’d only heard one song of in all my life. Continue reading

Review – David Bowie – The Next Day

2 Mar

Alright, everyone!  I’m sure you’re tired of me writing about David Bowie.  That’s fine, because the day has finally come in which I might review his newest album (I still can’t believe I can say that!).  That’s right, you too can stream David Bowie’s The Next Day on iTunes (though they’ve been having a lot of technical difficulties) by clicking here.  

The album went up last night, but I was incredibly unwell yesterday and slept most of the day, rather than listening.  I’m glad I saved this for the first moments of my Spring Break, because I know the album is going to be a constant companion over the next two weeks as I vacation from my scholarly duties. Continue reading

Thoughts on Beyonce’s Super Bowl Halftime Show

4 Feb

Well, it’s that time of year again.  The time where I immediately share my thoughts on the halftime show without anytime to digest them, or second-guess.

This year, it was Beyonce, and what we were promised was to be the reunion of Destiny’s Child.  For the most part that’s what we got.  Let’s look closer:

The Good:

Everything looked nice.  The pyrotechnics were amazing, the two-faced Beyonce light stage was fun to look at, the visuals gave us the view of 25 Beyonce’s at once, what more could you ask for?

For once, the sound quality was great, for the most part.  There was a wonderful backing band of rocking women, one of which had a guitar that shot out streams of sparks (I’m not sure why Prince hasn’t swallowed her up into his posse yet, really).

The Bad:

The set list didn’t blow my mind.  No “Irreplaceable”, one song I didn’t even know and then of course, there was the piped in vocals for “Crazy in Love” and “Baby Boy” (for Jay-Z and Sean Paul, respectively) which were NOT mic’d very well.

The Ugly:

Destiny’s Child.

When Kelly and Michelle came rising out of the stage, I was ready for what was surely going to be one of the greatest experiences of my life.

This was not it.

First was “Bootylicious”, really the best song they could have picked for their first song together in quite some time. Then, “Independent Women”, complete with cheesy Charlie’s Angels quotes and poses.

And…that was it.  After that, Destiny’s Child turned into glorified backing vocalists for “Single Ladies” and then left.

The set closed with an empty (for me) version of “Halo” and then Beyonce was gone as well.

I’m still not sure how to feel.  I’m raging with anger, first and foremost.  I was promised a medley of Destiny’s Child’s greatest hits and received two.  Not even “Say My Name”.  I don’t know what to think.  What started as a favorite halftime show turned into a most hated, so I’m left a bit numb really.

I suppose it could have been worse.  There will always be….The Black Eyed Peas…

Exploring the Top 100 One Hit Wonders – Men Without Hats – Rhythm of Youth

16 Jan

And we’re back.  You can thank Tide for this, I suppose.

For years, I’ve known that Men Without Hats had another “hit” called “Pop Goes the World”, but I had never heard it.  Until today.

For months now, this ad has been appearing ad nauseum on televisions everywhere:

Cause, they’re called Tide “pops” and the song is called “Pop Goes the World”…get it? Get it?! Oh forget it. Continue reading

Super Short Review – Low – The Invisible Way

28 Dec

cover12905_236187Maybe Travis will be willing to do a longer review for this one, but I can hardly feel compelled.

I was able to see Low for free in the summer of 2011 thanks to Chicago’s awesome summer park series (which they did not really do this past year).  They were excellent.  I could not wait to get home and plow into their catalogue.

Unfortunately, that transition from live to studio didn’t quite resonate with me and I was stuck being in love with a bad that I could never quite delve all the way into, musically.

Now, that’s not to say that last album, C’Mon was bad, but it was certainly not my cup of tea overall.  The only thing I really got out of it was the exceedingly stellar “Try to Sleep“.

Now, it’s the band’s 20th anniversary, and with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy in tow as producer, they will release The Invisible Way March 18th (making this one of the worst leaks I have ever encountered).

I don’t know if it’s Jeff Tweedy’s fault, or what, but this album is just too reserved.  I’m listening to “Try to Sleep” right now, and with it’s booming drums, the xylophone?, building sonic moments and overall power, there is not one thing on this album that comes close to matching it.  The middle of the album is full of tracks that go nowhere, pleasant acoustic numbers in the same waltz-ish time signature, but without the mystique.

The opener, “Plastic Cup” could have been great if it weren’t for the fact that it’s apparently about a piss test cup.  I thought to myself, “There must be more to it than that” and right as the thought crossed my mind, Alan Spearkhawk (male lead vocalist) sings

Well maybe you should go out and write your own damn song/

and move on

So maybe he really was just screwing with us.  I don’t know.

The best song on the album, by far, is “On My Own”.  Now, there’s the Low I’m looking for.  Big booming drums, screechy guitar.  It’s a great number and it’s not too short either, like a lot of tracks featured here.  Up until this point, most of the album sounded a great deal like a collection of Magnetic Fields throwaways from the Realism sessions.

So, I’ve been harsh, haven’t I?  It’s a nice album, but I doubt it will reach the pantheon of Low releases.  Maybe I’ll change my mind after a few more listens, and you know what? If I do, I’ll let you know.  For now, the only tracks from this I’ll be keeping around are “Amethyst”, “So Blue” and “On My Own”, maybe the closer, “To Our Knees” as well, but that song kept making me think it was going to break into “It Must’ve Been Love” by Roxette at any moment, so perhaps not.

This is definitely the definition of a 6 or 6.5/10.