On August 8, 2012, Bloc Party played their second of 3 sold out shows at New York’s Terminal 5. Changing the set list from the night before, the show which was streamed live on You Tube included classics like “Mercury” (coincidentally on the last night of Mercury being in retrograde), “Positive Tension,” “Like Eating Glass,” “Flux,” “Ares,” “This Modern Love” and “Helicopter.” Bloc Party has a new record coming out in a few days called “Four” and they played five songs from it (“Octopus,” the show opener “So He Begins to Lie,” “Kettling,” “Truth,” and “Real Talk”). The show was definitely one of best I’ve seen in 2012. It started off with a great opening set by The Drums, who seem to drastically change personnel every time I see them. Bloc Party’s lead singer Kele is so soft spoken if you get the opportunity to talk with him in real life and when he takes the stage, he’s just a monster of energy.
I love Kele’s solo album “The Boxer,” and in fact, I discovered his solo music before I became a fan of Bloc Party (yeah, I know, I did it backwards!). I was pleasnatly surprised that Kele performed a bit of the solo track “Tenderoni” before launching into the classics “Song of Clay” and “Banquet” and as you will see in the video below, the moshing crowd LOVED IT and Kele and Bloc Party kicked so much ass! Bloc Party finishes off their trio of sold out shows at Terminal 5 tonight (August 9, 2012). Don’t miss it!
The Drums are off to a great start in 2012. They recently completed an overseas tour (literally about 1 day ago) and will be performing on the Jimmy Fallon show tonight. Rather than take the night off, the band performed a last minute secret show at W.I.P. (Work In Progress) in New York. The Drums, featuring yet again another line up change (Jacob Graham and Jonny Pierce are the only two ‘original’ members left), performed a brief set in the wee hours of the morning on Valentines Day, 2012. The 4 song set featured “Best Friend,” “Me and The Moon” and “Money.” Jonny Pierce’s stage presence is reminiscent of the good old days of Morrissey (sans the entire front row trying to grab little bits of him). If you haven’t checked out The Drums’ second album “Portamento,” do it!
2011 was a better than normal year for good tunes. In no particular order, here’s a list of 21 songs that made my world a lot groovier. I don’t think that all of the tracks were released as singles, and if they were, many of these gems were probably not played in a mainstream way (like the radio). That’s sad, especially when over-produced pop songs that sound good on ONE LISTEN ONLY are played ad nauseum to the masses while they open their mouths wide for something to suck on.
“Love is Blindness” by Jack White. This came out of nowhere! For the 20 year *gulp* anniversary of U2’s epic album “Achtung Baby,” UK Magazine Q enlisted a ton of A-Listers to cover the entire record. The whole thing is great and features the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Garbage, Depeche Mode, The Killers, Glasvegas and Patti Smith, who all newly recorded covers for this collection. Jack White’s cover of the final track “Love Is Blindness” is so freakin’ amazing, the first time I heard it, I knew it was immediately on this list. It’s gut wrenching and though I already loved the original version, this version is even more emotional.
“Superlove” by Lenny Kravitz. I am a big Lenny Kravitz fan and I’ve been really disappointed with his last 3 studio albums. So much of his newer material sounds really uninspired, unfortunately. However, when you hear a track like the 70’s laid back jam “Superlove,” it just proves that Lenny still has “IT.” Also great from Lenny in 2011 is the funky as hell track “Come On Get It.”
Alex Frankel of Holy Ghost!
“Hold My Breath” by Holy Ghost! I actually like every song on Holy Ghost!’s self-titled debut album, but looking at my iPod stats, this is the song that I listened to the most (aside from “Do It Again,” but that song technically came out in 2010). Holy Ghost! Recently offered a free download of their cover of Ministry’s “I Wanted To Tell Her,” and it’s amazing! Search the archives and download it for a limited time!
Christopher Owens of Girls
“Vomit” by Girls. This is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. In case you have not heard the song, it has nothing to do with puking, but it’s a gut wrenching song. Chris Owens’ vocals are so vulnerable as he sings about looking for love. The song has a nice build up and the climactic ending features backing vocals that would make Pink Floyd proud. When Owens sings the final lines “Come into my heart,” you will want to beat up the person that broke his heart! I highly recommend the entire record “Father, Son, Holy Ghost” as it’s epic from start to finish.
“The Man Who Stole A Leopard” by Duran Duran. Ever wonder what “classic era” Duran Duran would sound like in 2011? Just pick up their album “All You Need Is Now” to find out the answer! Mark Ronson, a huge Duran Duran fan, produced their new record and he suggested that Duran Duran don’t try to sound like anyone else – except themselves. The result is one of their best albums ever and “The Man Who Stole A Leopard” to me sounds like it could be “The Chauffeur 2011.”
Jonny Pierce of The Drums
“If He Likes It Let Him Do It” by The Drums. This song has a little bit of everything. It’s got some rock, surf, pop and dance elements to it and the chorus (which features the title of the song) is hauntingly catchy. I’ve read that The Drums will be taking a dancier direction for their next record (hopefully a’la Jonny Pierce’s other band Elkand), and I am very excited to hear it.
“Lotus Flower” by Radiohead. Finally a band who knows how to get Lotus Flower right! This song is an uncommonly catchy Radiohead track. It didn’t help matters when the video was released and it shows front man Thom Yorke living in the moment and dancing like the world is about to end. Every time I hear that song now, I can’t help but do the “Lotus Flower” dance. It’s extra fun when I am in a crowded subway.
Lana Del Rey
“Blue Jeans (Penguin Prison Remix)” by Lana Del Rey. This is a rare case when the remix is better than the original song. The album version has a “noir” feel to it and this version is a club banger! Lana Del Rey recently debuted many songs in concert from her 2012 release “Born To Die,” and I have a feeling she’s going to be a big star. Put her on your radar now!
Chris Glover of Penguin Prison
“Don’t Fuck With My Money” by Penguin Prison. Speaking of Penguin Prison, I of course love every song on their debut record, but I’ve listened to the opening track more than all the others. I don’t see how a person wouldn’t fall in love with this song immediately because it’s catchy as hell, just like every song on the album. I am not even saying these kind things because I appear in the music video for this song, but I can say, that is definitely a highlight of the year too!
Chris Martin of Coldplay
“Up In Flames” by Coldplay. I appreciate that Coldplay decided to go against the grain and make a pop record for 2011’s “Mylo Xyloto,” but overall, I am not digging the album too much. I do like the song “Up In Flames” though a lot. It’s your typical Coldplay ballad, which is one of the reasons I fell in love with them in the first place.
Hanni El Khatib
“Come Alive” by Hanni El Khatib. Hanni El Khatib’s music has a little bit of everything – blues, soul, garage, doo-wop and punk. I’ve seen him in concert many times and this track is one of my favorites to see performed live. I hope that one day Hanni El Khatib will release a live album because the studio versions of his songs sound a little bit too polished as compared to the raw intensity of his performance.
“Hurting” by Friendly Fires. Disco! I love this song! Over the course of this year, I’ve gone through obsessions with this song where I listened to it over and over and over again. It was just released as a single, which is great news! Now the rest of the world can enjoy it as much as I have.
“Rolling In The Deep” by Adele. This song was played to death, but I will say one thing – I have never gotten sick of it. The song is just epic in every way. From Adele’s amazing voice to the torch song music, the track is flawless. She sings “We could have had it all,” but this song is proof that she HAS it all! I find some of her music to be a bit snoozy, but this song is one I can listen to on repeat (and I have) and it’s great and more powerful with every listen.
“Why You Always Here” by Katy B. British newcomer Katy B has made a great dance record with her debut “On A Mission.” It’s a perfect album to listen to before you go out clubbing for the night. It was hard to pick a favorite song on the record, but once again, I let my iPod be my guide and I listened to this track the most, edging out “ Hard to Get” and “Lights On.” As of press time, Katy B. is not that popular in the USA yet, so people – discover her music! You’ll like it!
Philip Oakey of Human League
“Night People” by Human League. Just when you thought Human League had dropped off the face of the earth, they returned with the 2011 album “Credo.” The album has its moments, but one of the best ones is the extremely dancey “Night People.” The melody and lyrics are very catchy and you’ll know exactly what they are talking about when they sing “There is a place that only the night people know.”
“In Our Own Time” by Lindsey Buckingham. Lindsey Buckingham just gets better with age. On his latest album “Seeds We Sow,” the songs range from reflective ballads to the rockin’ anthem “In Our Own Time,” which assets, “It wouldn’t make any difference. We crossed the line. From the fire we will rise again. In our own time.” It’s such an empowering anthem! It was a toss up between this song and “Stars Are Crazy,” which is a reflective look at questioning yourself.
Madeline Follin of Cults
“Abducted” by Cults. I love Cults. Their music is dreamy pop that recalls the Mamas and Papas crossed with a 50’s soul sound. “Abducted” starts off with just guitars and when the beat kicks in, it’s a party for your ears. This song is responsible for many great work outs I’ve had and grooving my ass off while straightening up my apartment. Thanks Cults!
Elizabeth Harper of Class Actress
“Keep You” by Class Actress. Class Actress works it! Their music has deep, lush dance beats that fall sonically somewhere between New Order and Madonna. When you hear Class Actress’ music, you’ll want to set up some strobe lights, set up the smoke machine and dance like nobody’s looking. I’ve done it and, let me tell you – a highly recommended experience!
Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine
“Breaking Down” by Florence and the Machine. I really like this song! It sounds like it belongs in a movie soundtrack as it is quirky and whimsical, but the lyrics are about having a meltdown and falling apart. Florence is massively entertaining in concert and I look forward to seeing her perform her new album “Ceremonials” live.
Fitz and the Tantrums
“Moneygrabber” by Fitz and the Tantrums. Fitz and the Tantrums have had quite a year. They began 2011 by playing small venues and before the end of the year, they blew up and are playing to much larger audiences. Their song “Moneygrabber” was offered as a free download at the beginning of the year and I grabbed it! The song is soulful and has a full band sound which makes me appreciate real music by real musicians in an era of bedroom assembled recordings.
Morris Day of the Original 7ven
“Strawberry Lake” by The Original 7ven. For some lame reason, Prince decided The Time could not use their name, so they rechristened themselves The Original 7ven. The Original 7ven proved that grooving is the best revenge and out-funked anything Prince has done in years with their song “Strawberry Lake.” It brings us back to the glory days of when music was full of jamming, crowd shout-outs and funk in your face! That’s what time it is!
November 2, 2011 was a great day! In the same night, I got to go to my two favorite venues in New York City: Mercury Lounge (for the early show to see VV Brown) and Bowery Ballroom to see The Drums (who went on around 11 PM, for those seeing them later this week). I saw The Drums a year ago as part of CMJ and I loved their show a lot. There have been some personnel changes within the band and whoever said “change is good” sure knows what they are talking about. The Drums added a new bass player, switched drummer Connor Hanwick to guitar and added a new drummer. I think The Drums sound better than ever and in fact, the live versions of the songs they played from their albums “the Drums” and “Portamento” sounded better to me than the studio versions. It was as if the band grew into these songs and each track was stronger, punchier and more dance-oriented than the album versions (read: please release a live album!)
Lead singer Jonny Pierce’s stage presence last night was reminiscent of the glory days of Morrissey as he swayed to the beat and delivered his moody, but brilliant lyrics about breaking up, money and death. Pierce told the crowd that the band is winding down from their North American tour before playing the non-album track “I Felt Stupid.” Other highlights included great versions of their “Portamento” songs “Money,” “I Need a Doctor” and “If He Likes It Let Him Do It.” The crowd of course lost their minds during songs such as “it Will All End In Tears,” “The Future” and “Best Friend,” which Jonny Pierce dedicated to his dead best friend. The Drums are playing a few shows this week, but they are all sold out so do what you need to do and see them!
This actually might be the quote of the year! When The Drums’ lead singer was recently interviwed by Clickmusic, they asked him what it was like supporting Kings of Leon on tour. This is what Jonathan had to say:
“I would advise them to split up and stop making music. I don’t think they’re really helping anybody – they’ve never made a song that’s really touched me in any way. I think the less bands that are making bad music, the better. I can only be honest! I honestly think that the new Britney Spears record is better than their songs – it sounds like a really great pop song and that’s what I really like. They’re very American bar rock and it’s not interesting, it doesn’t affect me at all. That Sex is on Fire song is one of the worst songs I’ve heard in my life. I would advice them to call it quits, definitely the best thing they can do. I do have to say that Jared was a very kind man and he’s smarter than he’s letting on. I don’t think he really enjoys the music that Kings of Leon are putting out. I’ve had long conversations with him and he’s very open to me. He has really great taste in music and likes really great bands – I think he looks at Kings of Leon and it’s just a job that he has. I think that’s a really sad place to be – going through the motions and collecting a pay check, especially if you’re doing something that’s creative you know. To misrepresent yourself in a creative atmosphere seems a little dark to me.” – Jonathan Pierce