Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Wednesday, Nov 5, 2008
Words and Pictures by Thomas Hauner

The occasion was Cold War Kids’ sophomore album Loyalty to Loyalty tour, but the atmosphere was more akin to recently parted college pals boozing it up like they’d never split up. Their hour and a half long set sampled both old and new repertoire, though you wouldn’t know it by the crowd’s thrilled responses.


Opening with “Every Valley is Not a Lake” off of Loyalty, their sound was epic but unrefined enough to lend itself to the inebriated blues-y timbre that inhabits lead singer Nathan Willett’s vocals. Pounding on the keyboard, Willett matched drummer Matt Aveiro’s throbbing beats, which along with Matt Maust’s pointillistic and driving bass playing made up the majority of the group’s heavy minimalist sound.


They romped through fan favorites like “We Used to Vacation”, “Hospital Beds”, and “Hang Me Up to Dry”. During “Robbers” they took a particularly humbling DIY approach to the lighting, presenting two flashlights (and not even Maglites) to serve as isolated beams randomly moving about while playing in their wandering silhouettes one-handed. Together it emphasized the song’s underlying sense of loneliness and aimlessness.


Other songs also evoked the group’s isolated timbres. “Every Man I Fall For” suggested the warm yet minor sounds of the Stones’ stumbling intro to “Under My Thumb” before ripping into more reverb heavy strums.


The Kids keenly made sure to set Willett’s respective keyboard and piano at opposite and extreme ends of the stage, allowing Maust and guitarist Jonnie Russell the maximum space to thrash and jump unpredictably. The two were also partial to smacking multiple maracas against several cymbals available at the front of the stage.


The audience matched the group’s youthful exuberance (propelled by a Goonies-like pirate backdrop no doubt) with timely handclaps on “Hospital Beds”. But the real pageantry occurred during the encore when a trombone and clarinet player paraded onto the stage to blast some indecipherable notes on finale “Saint John.” Their panache and movements seemed to do enough to add flavor to the already well-loved tune.


Tagged as: cold war kids
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Nov 4, 2008
Words and Pictures by Christian John Wikane

Brooklyn-based soul chanteuse Maiysha headed uptown over the weekend to perform at the Get Out the Vote drive hosted by Congressman Charles B. Rangel in the plaza of the Harlem State Office Building on 125th St. in New York. Hundreds of voters took the “A” train to hear community leaders and musicians lend their voices to a pre-Election Day celebration in support of Senator Barack Obama’s campaign to win the Presidency on 4 November.


Maiysha treated the audience to two tracks off her debut album, This Much Is True (Eusonia, 2008), including the reggae-sway of “U.S.H.” (“United States of Hysteria”) and the album’s first single, “Wanna Be”. In the next few weeks, Maiysha will travel to her native Chicago for another round of promo dates before the New Year.



Tagged as: maiysha
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Monday, Nov 3, 2008
Words and Pictures by Thomas Hauner

It wasn’t Halloween night, but in New York a minimum of three days before and after October 31st is all that’s necessary for costume-induced revelry. And enough fans dressed ambiguously enough that the line between costume and outfit was thin. When MGMT, the duo consisting of keyboardist Ben Goldwasser and guitarist Andrew VanWyngarden, and their supporting band took the stage in matching Three Amigos attire, the crowd roared in delight.


And that was the general trend all night. The crowd clamored in delight every time Goldwasser approached his mic (he didn’t get more animated than that), lead guitarist James Richardson ripped into another fret-shredding solo, and whenever the group’s meandering jams coalesced into danceable beats.


The group seemed at ease on stage despite the surrounding underage regalement and general hysteria. They cruised through the majority of Oracular Spectacular, including their certifiable hits “Electric Feel” and “Time to Pretend”. But they lingered on “The Handshake” and a couple of other tracks, jamming extensively under Richardson’s commanding solos.


Singing has never been VanWyngarden’s strong suit—the album clearly works some auto-tune magic—but it was rough-hewn enough that it suited their ‘60s inspired indie sound well. “Weekend Wars”, however, simply sounds constipated and it did so equally live.



Winding down their set with “Kids”, they set down their instruments singing along to Goldwasser’s mostly solo electronic engineering. But they weren’t quite done and VanWyngarden pressed Richardson to follow his lead with playing “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” What followed was a train-wreck of a cover, with VanWyngarden screeching out the vocals in an even loftier falsetto than usual and the bass player struggling to follow Richardson’s chords.


Though MGMT’s innovative psychedelic indie pop sound and songs of fated delusions made for a solid debut album, their only live embellishment was an exhilarating third-party guitarist. (And also their costumes.)



Tagged as: mgmt
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

While their live show alone could easily carry them into the future, if Monotonix can find a way to translate the reckless energy onto record, these crazy folk from Tel Aviv are going to be huge. It was a smart lineup decision to put these guys on last, as trash buckets flew, drums were annihilated, and beer was spilled over the entire audience. The best thing about Monotonix, though, is they aren’t gimmicky; the instrumentation—just drums, guitar, and vocals—is so ungodly powerful that it would be fantastic even if they were just standing stoically. More bands need to take note that you’ve got to incorporate the best of both worlds to make it in today’s oversaturated musical market. Monotonix not only heed this advice, they go above and beyond it.



Tagged as: cmj, monotonix
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

High Places put out one of the best debut records of 2008, but unfortunately, their live show isn’t going to push them out into the crowd of developed bands quite yet. Although it’s hard for a duo to be able to put on a captivating live show with so much going on musically, they need to add elements to their live show to hold the audience’s interest. To be fair, they are still new on the scene and they have plenty of time to grow. The songs are great but the show is lacking, a common case these days it seems


Tagged as: cmj, high places
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2015 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.