Spring Tunes [2011 Edition]

Here are some songs that remind me of this time of the year, coming pretty late (compared to other years when I’ve done such a list in early March…blame it on the shitty weather!):

PHOTOCORNERS” – Lovely Feathers – In general, Lovely Feathers early material (’04, ’05, ’06) is warm weather kind of stuff. Their bare-boned and oddly uplifting aesthetic gets the birds singing. The song “Pope John Paul” reminds me of Quebec; in fact, on a school trip there in 8th grade (six years ago, time flies) the Pope had just died two months prior and Chris and I were speculating on the implications of 666 – June 6, 2006. In 9th grade I wrote an essay about “Pope John Paul,” but I could have sworn I first heard the song in 2005, yet it came out in April 2006 so it had to have been then (on WMBR). Anyway, you might be wondering why I didn’t choose “Pope John Paul” as thee song for this little thing and the answer is I couldn’t’ find a decent YouTube video so you’ll have to settle for “Photocorners”.

TWO WEEKS” – Grizzly Bear – Though not a huge huge fan of Veckatimest, I really enjoy this one off of it. It was joyfully overplayed over at WERS at the time of its release — spring 2009.

PARIS 2004” – Peter Bjorn and John – A favorite of mine during the springs of 2008 and 2009, a commenter described it best (replace summer with spring): “This song reminds me of this summer..i would listen to it when i got up in the morning an i would look out the window and the sky was clear and with a couple of puffy clouds and the trees really really green.”

We Used To Be Friends” – Dandy Warhols – I first heard this tune some years ago and then I heard it at my high school’s TV BBQ, which, from the time or two that I attended, had a playlist that was generally filled with catchy “indie-rock” such as this one.

Someday” – The Strokes – MLB 2k8 was the mode of my discovery of this song. I was immediately hooked to it and in fact Is This It happens to be a mighty spring-time record

Classic CD Review: Hind Hind Legs

Band: Lovely Feathers
Label: Equator
Release: 2006

1. “Pope John Paul” – A+
2. “In the Valley” – A+
3.  “I Really Like You” – A
4. “Frantic” – A+
5. “Wrong Choice” – A+
6. “Mildly Decorated” – A+
7. “Photocorners” – A+
8. “The Only Appalachian” – A
9. “Ooh You Shocked Me” – A
10. “E Man Sorrow” – A+
11. “Rod Stewart” – A++
12.  “Breakfast Cake” – A+
13. “Lion Eats The Wildebeest” – A+

Comments: Talk about a fun album! Lovely Feathers are overflowing with energy and power-pop charisma. It’s sort of synth-pop meets straight up garage-pop. A fun combination! Although it looks like I am worshiping this album or what have you, I am not. It’s damn good, though. If I was doing a normal review for this, it’d probably end up as a best album of the year candidate, not to mention one of the best albums of the decade. There is nothing epic about this one. What you hear is what you get. Fast, quirky, pseudo-dance numbers. “Rod Stewart” sort of exemplifies the spirit of this album. Heavy and catchy. Unfortunately, haters might decline to take this album seriously. That’s unfortunate for them, because sometimes sappy is much needed in music. Most of the tracks on here are multi-layered. So inevitably some parts are catchier and better than others. But I tell you that the catchy parts are really really really catchy.

Final Grade: 96 (A)

Most Disappointing LPs of 2009

No order.

1. The Thermals – Now We Can See – Before listening to this, I was exposed to just a few Thermals songs. That said, I’ve held this band in high regard. This LP was rather disappointing mainly because it was filled to the brim with pop-punk songs that weren’t eccentric enough for me.

2. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest – For me, a lot of what made Grizzly Bear “epic” was nowhere to be found on here. Okay, there are a few songs that I really dig from this LP, but in general I’d say Grizzly Bear changed their direction to a more prim and proper baroque-pop style with less experimental flair than ever before.

3. Lovely Feathers – Fantasy of the LotHind Hind Legs (2006) was an amazing disc. So amazing that I don’t think Lovely Feathers could ever out do it, even if they tried really really hard. This LP has some really strong points, but it kind of has a weird pace that’s all over the place. I just thought Hind had an immaculate flow. This really doesn’t.

4. Flaming Lips – Embryonic – Considering I’ve only listened to the “hits” from these guys, I sort of had a gut feeling that this album would be filled with catchy songs! Was I ever more disappointed? Save maybe one or two songs, this wasn’t memorable for me at all. It was mainly sound.

5. Japandroids – Post-Nothing – This thing is shockingly similar to Now We Can See. I’d say it’s straight up noise rock with a strong pop-punk undertone. Based on the initial reception of this album, I was excited! Then I actually listened to it and was mildly disappointed.

Concert Review: Rural Alberta Advantage

Bands: Rural Alberta Advantage, Lovely Feathers, Arletta
Venue: Middle East Upstairs
Date: October 8, 2009

Arletta

Good band! Unfortunately the front-man’s high E string broke during the first song. Fortunately, a middle age dude named Spencer volunteered to restring the guitar. He got that done by the end of the second song. Arletta continued to play their brand of folk, except for one “arena rock” tune (jokes) that sounded more like Built to Spill than Kings of Leon. They were enthusiastic the whole time and made good conversation between songs. The attractive off-gray jumpsuit wearing violinist did a spectacular job on a couple of songs. They just finished recording an LP in a Charlestown studio.

In-House Music:
The Supreme Genius of King Khan and His Shrines. Amazing.

Lovely Feathers
I’ve been a Lovely Feathers fan since summer 2005, when I heard “Pope John Paul” on WMBR after leaving the North Shore Mall. That song stuck with me for a while…I remember writing about it for my freshman portfolio. Heck, two weeks ago I had a crazy dream that I altar served a mass and this was the opening hymn.  But the opening riffs to the song about the late Polish holy figure were never played! Bummer! Nor did they play the classic faux-glam pop track “Rod Stewart.” They did play 6 songs off Fantasy of the Lot. Don’t get me wrong, FotL is a very good album, but it pales in comparison to their past work. I never actually realized how instrumental the keyboard was in the Lovely Feathers until last night. Songs like “Gifted Donald” and “Family That Doesn’t Know The Game” are okay, don’t get me wrong, but come on…they don’t have the live flair like “Pope” and “Rod” probably would. Of course, if any song was recognized it was “Lowiza,” which is about the singer’s cheating old bastard grandfather who isn’t quite into his wife (grandmother) any more. It was awesome! “Are you sexual?” sang the amped-up keyboardist. Unfortunately the backing vocals weren’t really noticeable on a lot of the other songs. That was a tad disappointing. “In The Valley” was great with both singers belting out the lyrics. The keyboardist really nailed this song right on the money. “She says hi to the man in the house. She says I am the man of the house!” “Frantic” is another one of my long-time faves that got me and the rest of the room going. “Wrong Choice” was pretty damn awesome as well. Overall, I was happy to finally see them in concert. Do I really wish they played my two faves? Of course. Next time, maybe.

Set List
1. Long Walks
2. Gifted Donald
3. Family That Doesn’t Know The Game
4. Finders Fee
5. Lowiza
6. In The Valley
7. Frantic
8. Wrong Choice
9. I Don’t Know!

Rural Alberta Advantage
So basically I only knew four songs from RAA prior to going to see them. I really don’t know how to describe them. It’s  a dynamic trio, in that the drummer also plays the keyboard, the front-man plays guitar and keyboard, and there is another drummer. I guess the best way I could put it would be an epic Page France. I couldn’t get too into many of the songs because I didn’t recognize them. Most of the audience recognized all the songs and appropriately bobbed their head or just flat out danced. Anyway, they played the Middle East two months ago. Guess they love it! They were sure appreciative of everyone coming out. The front-man did a solo acoustic of “Eye of the Tiger” after asking the audience: song from the 70s or the 80s? 80s won. It was awesome to hear the tales of Alberta. Especially of the late “Mr. Barnes.”

Set List
1. “New”
2. “Rush Apart”
3. “The Ballad of the RAA”
4. “Jungle”
5. “Luciana”
6. “Frank, AB”
7. “Eye of the Tiger” — The ’70s song was going to be S.O.S by Abba!
8. “North Star”
9. “Drain The Blood”
10. “Four Night Rider”
11. “Edmonton”
12. “Summertime”
———-Encore———
1. “Mr. Barnes”
2. “Sleep All Day”
3. “Don’t Haunt This Place”

Concert Grade: B

CD Review: Fantasy of the Lot (LF)


Band:
Lovely Feathers
Label: Equator Records
Release: 2009

Comments: This, the third studio album from the Montreal indie rockers certainly was a crucial record, in my opinion. The group won my attention with their spectacular 2006 release Hind Hind Legs. Hind Hind Legs was heavy on the synths and almost what I would describe as “glam-folk.” Every song had a great quality, whether it was “Pope John Paul” (funny, heavy), or “Rod Stewart” (funny, pop).  Fantasy of the Lot starts off with “Lowiza,” a Hind Hind Legs-ish song filled with irresistible vocals and great drums. “Long Walks” sounds like dark faux postpunk at first. It’s sort of hard to classify the Lovely Feathers as anything “officially” because they combine so many different sounds. The middle of “Long Walks” changes to something more powerpop based before going back to what it originally was. Returning to the light-hearted jangle folk that I loved so much on past records is “Fad.” Think Paul Simon meets Jens Lekman meets traditional calypso. “Gifted Donalds” features a lullaby-esque piano sequences, yet manages to be persistently upbeat. “Finders Fee” has the bass-line, for starters, to be a significant track. It follows through on all notes to be exactly that. The title track doesn’t exactly suck…it just doesn’t stand out. It never picks up. “Family That Doesn’t Know the Game” is pure Lovely Feathers. “Ossified Games” has a notable “woo-ooo-aaahhh-ooo.” I love those. And a pres Asian little guitar riff. “Argotaker” has a bit of a Canadian folk thing going on. “Loading Dock” is a bit meh. The last track “Vaulted Precedents” is psychedelically slow but amusing.

Final Comment: Overall, I think the Lovely Feathers toned things down a little bit. The music seems more serious than it has in the past. Slower. More experimental than ever. The sad part is there aren’t any tracks that stick out besides “Lowiza.” By the way this thing came out in America today.

Grade: 8.8 out of 10