Archive for August, 2010
It’s the end of summer picks edition, and while we’re all very sad that the beach weather is ending, we’re secretly happy about early Autumn. The good new music continues coming in, and plus, CMJ approaches! Here are the choices:
How could we NOT cover Orange Juice? The Scottish band who brought us the irresistibility catchy single “Rip it Up” will be releasing a very comprehensive box set this November on Domino Records. The vocalist of Orange Juice was Edwyn Collins (of “A Girl Like You” fame), and his new-wave sensibilities were very of the moment in 1979 and into the 80’s.
The box set will have six CDs containing the bands entire discography, as well as unreleased tracks and BBC session recordings, and a DVD with promotional clips. Orange Juice was seminal in their time, influencing countless Scottish bands (including Belle & Sebastian, Franz Ferdinand, and The Wedding Present) for years to come. Check out the fantastically 80’s video for “Rip It Up” below:
Second pick this week is the new solo album from Sam Prekop, singer/guitarist of The Sea and Cake. The album is called Old Punch Card, is out on Thrill Jockey September 7th. It has a darker, more electronic feel, which runs very contrary to the light and airy rock of The Sea and Cake.
This is Prekop’s first solo album in five years, so it is quite an event! Download the track “The Silhouettes” here.
Third pick is Austin, TX based Bee vs. Moth, a fuzzy-rock jazz band who is releasing their new album Acronyms on September 6th. Their take on jazz is a unique one, and basically, I’m biased towards anything that comes out of Austin!
Several tracks are available to listen to on the band’s website, and they will be playing a few live dates in the Midwest if you’re in that area and want to check them out!
Last pick is a fantastic new video from Cee Lo Green, of Gnarls Barkley fame. I’m a huge Cee lo fan, and the video for his new single “F**k You” is very simple but hysterical and effectual nonetheless. See for yourself:
I’m talking about the band here, not the city or drinking game. Beirut the band, headed by the adorable and young Zach Condon, came to being in 2006 after Condon returned from a stay in Europe that enamored him to Balkan folk music. He recorded the first album, Gulag Orkestar, by himself in his bedroom, only going into the studio at the very end to get some help from Jeremy Barnes of Neutral Milk Hotel and A Hawk and a Hacksaw and Heather Trost of A Hawk and a Hacksaw (don’t ask me how he got such talented friends!).
I was privileged to see their second live show ever, first in new York, on May 10, 2006 when they opened for Irving at the Knitting Factory. Of course that show was far from perfect, but it certainly whet my appetite, thus starting my great love affair with the band. I’ve seen them numerous times since then, have all of their albums (after Gulag came 3 EPs: Lon Gisland, Pompeii, and Elephant Gun, followed by the Flying Cub Cup and then the March of the Zapotec/Holland EP). The music makes me happy and introspective and I can’t help but tap my toes. I even had the band at my wedding learn a few of their songs!
The Guggenheim is having a summer music series called Dark Sounds that hosts musicians in their space one evening a month. Beirut played the first on July 15, Andrew Bird and Ian Schneller the second on August 5, and Cinematic Orchestra will play the final one on September 3. For $25 you get to see their current exhibit, Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/Performance, and hear some great music. The acoustics were actually pretty good, and looking up on the spiral of people was pretty cool. In fact, the audience members managed to get the wave going while waiting for the band to come out and it looked pretty amazing going around the spiral. The gaggle of young women in the front row practically fainting at Condon’s every breath was pretty entertaining as well. The band played an eclectic set from all their material and their music fit very well with the ghost-like artwork in the museum.
I’m not sure what Beirut plans to do next, but I can’t wait to find out!
August in New York City is brutal. The crowds, the humidity, the sweat, the dirt that clings to your face thanks to the sticky mixture of sweat, humidity, and grime. Blegh. Thankfully, this town puts on some excellent outdoor concerts that help you forget all the nasty stuff for a few minutes.
Case in point: YACHT at South Street Seaport on Friday, August 6. A breezy midsummer evening on the water makes for a bangin’ dance party, even with a mall and tourist-trap restaurants in the background. (Who knew?) And while it didn’t actually take place on a yacht, the band made up for it with summertime pop jams.
On tour to support their 2009 album See Mystery Lights, the Portland duo performed disco and dance-punk cuts including “the Afterlife,” “Psychic City (Voodoo City),” and “Summer Song,” then whipped out a surprise cover of X’s “Nausea.” Weird, yet pretty awesome.
Although known for their theatrical stage shows, this time Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans scrapped the projections and arty props, instead sticking with just their trademark black-and-white color coordinates. Evans, who joined YACHT after Jona’s one-man 2007 release I Believe In You. Your Magic Is Real., adds a new dimension: She’s sexy, powerful, androgynous. TNJ is crushin’ hard. Even cooler? She’s a science writer. Swoon.
A special video treat for Monday! Janelle Monae‘s debut LP The ArchAndroid is by far one of my favorite albums of 2010. The video for the first single, “Tightrope” (which featured Big Boi) is a mesmerizing dance number that takes place in The Palace of the Dogs sanitarium. It can be viewed here. The video for her second single, “Cold War” takes place in that same sanitarium, and was done in only one take.
This video is mesmerizing as well, but for a different reason: it is just three minutes of you watching her (admittedly beautiful) face. While this could get boring, the song is so upbeat and listenable that it doesn’t matter. Enjoy!
While in Chicago for the Pitchfork Music Festival, we managed two get in two excellent brunches. One was at Chicago stalwart Ann Sather and the other was at the hip and delicious Southport Grocery.
Ann Sather has four locations, with the original one on W. Belmont having been around for over sixty years. We went to the N. Southport one and were not disappointed. Ann Sather has become a standout in the breakfast and brunch category, mostly due to their legendary cinnamon buns that have even become incorporated into the decoration on the awning outside.
So, when faced with ordering, one of us clearly had to get the item on the specials menu called French Toast Fantasy. Apparently trumpeted by Rachel Ray, this dish involves “marscarpone-filled cinnamon rolls, battered, grilled and topped with granola and fresh seasonal berries.”
We figured this would kill two birds with one stone and allow us to experience the Ann Sather cinnamon bun in a whole new way. And boy did it ever. Surprisingly, it was not too sweet, and we even wished for a little more cinnamon flavor. The marscarpone was an awesome addition, and the granola on top added a lovely crunchiness. I think granola on top of French toast should become a regular thing.
As insane as this sounds, if you order this dish we still recommend getting a regular cinnamon bun or sticky bun, as that experience is pure and wonderfully delicious and should never be replaced (we’ve had it before this trip).
The next day we headed to Southport Grocery, a favorite of DevoLT’s on her annual trips to Chicago. This place is so hip and adorable it almost makes you cringe (especially when you see the wait list), but the food quickly makes up for that. The unique choices for brunch, including Sweet & Savory French Toast (“french toast layered with smoked ham & gruyere with a side of maple-mustard syrup”) and Bread Pudding Pancakes (“a pancake made with gooey bread pudding topped with cinnamon-sugar butter & a side of vanilla custard sauce”), are exciting and enticing, and they also have some great extras, like a Grown-up Pop Tart and Grilled Coffee Cake.
We decided to start with the Grilled Coffee Cake, which features their homemade our cream-cinnamon-walnut coffeecake that is grilled and then filled with cream cheese. Yum! It was a little intense for the first thing to be put in our mouths that morning, but it did wake us right up! The Stuffed French Toast (“banana bread, fresh strawberry cream cheese stuffing with a strawberry champagne sauce”) sounded pretty amazing, but after yesterday’s endeavor we decided to still with eggs.
We got the Spinach-Artichoke Omelet and Bruschetta, which is actually a crostini topped with scrambled eggs with a healthy dose of bruschetta (tomatoes, onions, balsamic) and queso fresco on top. It also comes with chicken sausage but we had ours on the side. For some reason balsamic vinegar is not usually found in breakfast dishes, but this dish makes a great argument for changing that.