San Diego Radio Sucks Quite A Bit

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

16 Days 'til Coachella - Matt & Kim

How much do Matt & Kim suck? Read on.

Today, featured Sunday fine print artists Matt & Kim, so I decided to check them out. There are elements about their music I like, like the fact that they don't seem to take themselves too seriously and they can sound a little like Mum if you squint your ears real hard, and elements that I don't like, like the fact that while they're good at what they do, I feel like it's been done before. They've sort of got this 1980's thing going, with nods to acts like OMD and Howard Jones, but with Echo and the Bunnymen playing at the same festival, I'll go with the orignators over the imitators in this case.

I think they could grow on me though. I have to say, it's poppy as a dump Elvis took after gorging on peanut butter and Rice Krispies sandwiches, which isn't all bad.

OK, after three songs, I can't say they're a must-see, but I admire the starry-eyed optimism vibe they've got going, and for that, I'll try to catch them if it's possible. A reluctant thumbs-up, but I kinda hope their performance makes me eat my thumb.

Monday, March 29, 2010

18 Days 'til Coachella - Iglu & Hartly

Today, is featuring a video by Friday small-print artists Iglu & Hartly. Immediately I felt like these guys could be a guilty pleasure, something that you wouldn't want to admit you liked until you were the only one at the party not talking about how geekily cool they were. They're kind of like a cross of the image Devo portrayed when they came out and the music MGMT is doing is Eminem were goofing over it.

Maybe I shouldn't compare it to hip-hop... the the rapping is more the embryonic talk-over of the early 80's as opposed to the I'm-so-hard-my-shit-cuts-glass-like-a-diamond thing so many idiotic MCs put out there that just sets them up for failure in my mind, musically. I mean, how can you take someone seriously who's talking about all the money, bitches and cars he's got when you know a few months ago he was being told to shut the fuck up by his fellow bus riders?

Not exactly hip-hop, not exactly electro, but these guys take none of it seriously. Except maybe that little tinge of Sign 'O the Times-era Prince that creeps in every now and then that makes you think it's all so very well planned out, maybe they've found the perfect balance between chic and geek.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

22 Days 'til Coachella - Yo La Tengo

Full disclosure: I'm actually a really big fan of Yo La Tengo. I don't have a lot of recent stuff from them, though I'm starting to realize that not having a copy of their latest, Popular Songs, is a phase of my life I need to end soon. The opening track on that album, Here To Fall, is a blistering, 5+ minute psychedelic opus of the perfect kind. Not too long, and you don't need drugs to appreciate it.

I had some reservations about them on paper at first. They're a husband and wife duo, which can really suck, but they proved me wrong. And any band with an album called I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass gets a million points in my book.

The two albums I do own by them, I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One and And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out, are a wonderful mix of dark instrumentation and stark vocal arrangements, with occasional blasts of psychosis (listen to Sugarcube and see if you get the reference). I think I was hooked on these guys from the first few lines of the first track on the latter, Everyday.

All in all, these guys are a a must-see for me on Sunday. I'm guessing they'll be daytime, either very early on the Coachella stage or later in the day on the Outdoor. But who knows? Hopefully Goldenvoice doesn't screw them and put them up against some other must-see act. Fingers crossed, brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

23 Days 'til Coachella - Sleigh Bells

OK, so I'm a little lazy these days, just blogging about bands that are featured on Coachella's homepage, but as I said earlier, I think it's a really cool thing that they're helping advertise the music of bands who have their names in two-point font on the poster.

Having said that, I think Sleigh Bells could end up being pretty good musically, if you can get past the fact that a lot of what they do live is sequenced. Yeah, they're a duo, female singer and male everything else (production, beats, guitars, etc.) and yeah, that's impressive. The better the music, the less I focus on the fact that they've got a DAT playing onstage with them.

I like what I've heard of the music, largely because it simultaneously nods to hip-hop and thumbs its nose at it. Just when you think someone's going to bust out a fresh rhyme, something quirky and wonderful comes out of the speakers. Like in Infinity Guitars, when you think she's going to sound like some shitty M.I.A. wannabe, she just screams her head off into a mic with some strange pitchshifing effect. Also, I have to give them credit, because pretty much all the videos they have online are of live gigs.

I wouldn't say they're "can't miss," but I'd say you should strongly consider checking out at least some of their set on Friday.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

24 Days 'til Coachella - The Soft Pack

Props to the site for embedding videos of lesser-known bands on their homepage. I think that's going to help these better bands get noticed, and will help those of us who like good music to avoid the shitstorm that usually happens in the tents on Friday early afternoon. BYOTP.

Luckily, The Soft Pack has the potential to be the former. I'm actually being hard on them because they seem to be local (this video has references to a Del Mar Pizza in the less desirable 858 area code), but I think they sound pretty good. They've got a nice, poppy feel that's neither too labored nor ingenuous, and they could end up being the first really good band of the day on Sunday.

I actually hope that's true, and Goldenvoice doesn't put them up against every other must-see band on Sunday, because there are a lot of them.

I've never said San Diego local bands suck. Well, some of them blow dead termites for meth change, but The Soft Pack sounds really cool.

Monday, March 22, 2010

25 Days 'til Coachella - Girls

For this review, I'd like to paraphrase the first Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode, where Homer is shopping for a present for Bart at the last minute.

AMG says the group makes "druggy, ethereal pop in the spirit of Spiritualized..."

That's GOOD!

"...and Ariel Pink."

That's BAD!

WTF? Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti sounded like they would be really cool at Coachella last year, and they ended up suckin' fire hydrant.

The title track from Morning Light sounded really cool and spacey.

That's GOOD!

But the track Laura from their most recent album, Album, sounded a little too much like the Beach Boys.

That's BAD.

I respect what the BBs did, but I think I was born a little too late, musically to really appreciate it. Plus my friends Jeff Burton & John D'Agostini released an album called Pet Smells that totally fucked Brian Wilson in the ear.

Pitchfork listed Girl's latest as one of their top albums of 2009.

That's GOOD!

But Pitchfork also listed Major Lazer's album on that same list.

That licks the toejam from an undertaker's discount lost and found.

So the jury's out on Girls. The band, not the sex. I kinda think they could be decent but I'm not going to miss, say, a Ready 4 the World reunion to check them out.

p.s. This image is called "Frogurt," but I found it by Googling "the topping contains potassium benzoate."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

29 Days 'til Coachella - Talvin Singh

Aah, I needed a palate cleanser after suffering through the absolutely taint-snarfing Major Lazer, so I dialed up the latest release by Talvin Singh. And now for something completely different. This could be the soundtrack to a Bollywood hit, or something playing at the afterhours at the local curry house.

I think I first heard Talvin Singh a Cafe Del Mar compilation (Volume 6), Kid Loco did a remix of Traveller, and it was a great way to lead-off the album. For what it's worth, those Cafe Del Mar comps are the height of chillout, if you like to chill, definitely check this series out.

This guy plays a mean tabla, which is something I'm a sucker for. I've never heard of him playing live, but I really don't get out too much. This is going to be something pretty unique on Sunday.

I'm actually glad they moved Gil-Scott Heron from Sunday to Friday, as Talvin Singh is now officially my 12th "can't miss" act on the last day of the festy.

29 Days 'til Coachella - Major Lazer

Hmm, not really sure about this one. They're listed as a collaborative effort between Diplo and Switch, neither of which I'm too familiar with. While I can appreciate the production of the music, I really can't stand the vocals. It just seems like the same note repeated ad-nauseum.

Napster says other members like M.I.A., and I'm pretty sure they would. I can't stand M.I.A. for the same reason I don't like this, so if nothing else, Napster's business intelligence formula is working.

Ugh. I try not to tender a decision on anything until I've heard at least three songs, but this monotonous dancehall shit has got to go. Enjoy the show if you like these guys, I'll be as far away as I can possibly get. This is the epitome of awful.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spleen United @ Echo Los Angeles, CA 16 March, 2010

My good friend Martin turned me onto Danish electronic rockers Spleen United nearly three years ago. This was significant, as he'd never specifically made such an effort to turn me onto any other bands in the past. I listened to his copy of Neanderthal, and I was instantly hooked. These Danes know how to rock, I thought to myself. I figured they'd be at Coachella sooner or later, but alas, it was not to be.

I started wondering how obscure they really were, seeing as they were so goddamn amazing. I started trying to track them down, trying to figure out if I'd have to plan a European vacation around one of their gigs (if you know me, or know how fantastic Spleen United are, you know I would do this in a heartbeat).

Long story short, I found out two weeks too late they'd played at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa at the end of 2009. I vowed that if they ever came to my area again, I'd do whatever it took to see them.

So what can I tell you about these guys? Their album Neanderthal was pretty much instant classic for me. From the first notes of the opening track, Suburbia, to the last warbling pad sound of My Jungle Heart, I was absolutely fixated on what this group had done. I really felt it was a masterpiece of modern electronic music, millennial-era dance music, whatever you want to call it.

Tonight, after I saw them live, my opinion of them went from stellar to godlike.

There are five members in the band. All of them have drums and drumsticks, and aren't afraid to use them. They all jump around on stage like they're actually enjoying what they're doing. There's a certain joy they bring to the stage, and to the crowd.

We drove up from San Diego to see them, and even though they only played for about 40 minutes, we enjoyed every single second. They played pretty much everything totally live, totally analog. They even did a live remix of Do You Realize? by The Flaming Lips that was a pretty mind-bending surprise.

Only about 50 people got to witness this, and when they closed the set with Suburbia, there were only dry throats in the house.

From screaming at the top of their lungs.

Props to opening act Mad Planet, they were mad good in our book. Also look out for an MC they brought up on stage, can't remember his name but his group's called The Milky Way.

If you ever get the chance to see Spleen United, do not pass it up. These guys PERFORM electronic music in ways other acts can only aspire to. Honestly, I'm surprised other, lesser bands weren't there taking notes.

Monday, March 8, 2010

39 Days 'til Coachella - La Roux

I discovered La Roux from this video. I bought the album, which is great, but nothing quite lives up to this remix. I found it on eBay for about $18.00 USD, including shipping from UK. Worth it.

I really like the album I picked up, regardless of what you call it. Electro, electro-pop, dubstep, I'm not big on any of that shit, but I really like what I hear on this album.

But again, that Skream remix is head and shoulders above the original of In For the Kill.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

43 Days 'til Coachella - Little Dragon

I'm listening to Little Dragon for the first time. The track is "Twice," from their debut album, and I'm hooked from the first minimal, wonderful piano and synth riffs. Then Yukimi Nagano's voice comes in, and I'm still grooving. Halfway through the song, the elements blend together like a drop of food coloring in a glass of water, and I've got goosebumps. By the end of the song, the chills have taken me over, and I'm simultaneously stunned, entranced, and pissed off I haven't heard them before.

Now I'm listening to "Feather" from the new album, "Machine Dreams." Quite a bit different, a downtempo beat and subdued acid-y bassline. Just the fact that it has a beat makes it seem more poppy by comparison, and Yukimi's voice sounds more like Martha Schwendener from Bowery Electric than Lou Rhodes (Lamb).

Yeah, this one's going to be good. Here's hoping they're on early, outdoor stage, and up against no one else.