List: Best Concerts of the Year, Part 2

Here is part 2 of my best concert list of 2012:

John Roderick (January 28, Mercury Lounge)
The Long Winters have not released an album since 2006. Frontman John Roderick really knows how to engage an audience. With a plethora of witty banter and audience participation, this was one of the most fun concerts of the year. Now all there is to do is hope for a new album sometime this decade.

Pulp (April 11, Radio City Music Hall)
Pulp is a newer discovery for me.  After many different people suggesting this English alt-rock band to me, I dove into their discography and then went to see them live.  The live show sold me.  Jarvis Cocker pranced around the stage and up the sides of Radio City Music Hall. He had so much energy and the band was tight. The entire audience danced along and sang out the lyrics. It was a pretty magical experience.

Regina Spektor (May 15, United Palace Theater)
United Palace is a very unique place to see a concert.  Located in Washington Heights, it has the charm of the old theater. In fact, it looks like no updates were made this century. Spektor fit in perfectly in this venue. Her old-school charm and quirky nature really shined through.

Radiohead (June 13, Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden NJ)
Radiohead, outside venue, Thom Yorke dancing. That is really all that needs to be said.

Bob Mould (Sept 7, Williamsburg Park)
This former Husker Du/ Sugar frontman started the set with the seminal Sugar album “Cooper Blue.”  He then went on to play other selections from his solo releases and Husker Du albums.  Another energetic concert, the background of an concrete park fit perfectly with the vibe of the songs and Mould’s voice.  His album “Silver Age” is definitely one of the best of the year.

Bonus: The Hold Steady (December 31, Wellmont Theater, Montclair NJ)

Opener Lucero really pumped up the audience and laid the groundwork for an excellent show. 

Despite being put on hold for about 10 minutes due to an incident on the dance floor, this show was awesome top to bottom. With a set of older and newer songs, Craig Finn and the rest of the band worked the audience through fist pumps and sing-alongs.  They counted down at midnight and shot confetti into the audience.  There was complimentary champagne and giant balloons that floated from the stage.   It ended around 1:20 in 2013 and can be counted as one of the best shows of 2012 and 2013.

Top 5: Soundtrack for a Vampire Obsessed Nation

It seems inappropriate to talk about anything non-Michael Jackson related these days, but I have watched enough tribute specials, heard enough “Billie Jean” on the radio, and even laughed at enough dead MJ jokes (“His heart just couldn’t beat it anymore…”) to know that there is no such thing as “too soon”.
Instead, I’d like to write about a trend that has been and continues to sweep the nation. Vampires. They’ve always been present in common folklore, but suddenly they’ve taken over the books we read, the movies we watch, and even HBO. Not only are these blood-lusting creatures, inexplicably sexy, but they’ve got indie cred too. Although the Twilight soundtrack surprised me with moments of goodness, Radiohead’s “15 Step” in particular, I can’t help but think that a few of these tracks may have also benefitted. Here are my favorite vampire songs for your listening pleasure, in between episodes of True Blood and Twilight novels, of course.
  • Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s, “Vampires in Blue Dresses”mp3
It was with the help of this Indiana band that vampires found their way into chamber pop. With lyrics such as, “Your mother is a vampire/ She sucked your old man’s life away/ Turn everything off/ Just cover your neck/ Cause life is full of your regrets/ And I should be one,” and a drumbeat outro resembling an execution, this song is utterly appropriate.
  • Chad VanGaalen, “Red Hot Drops” mp3
If you have ever listened to a Chad VanGaalen song, or better yet, watched one of his animations (recommended) you know that just about everything he creates is eerie in the most terrific of ways. Check out his new album, Soft Airplane, and give this creepy ditty a listen. It reads like an vampiric meditational chant, calmly urging, “Sharpened teeth that dive deep into veins/ Slowly draining with no pain, sinking and drinking in a thick way.” It’s no wonder he creates everything in a hermit-like style, barely emerging from the privacy of his Calgary basement.
  •  Arctic Monkeys, “Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But…” mp3
Who could forget the English breakout band from Myspace? The term “vampire” is used as an insult in this song, and it sure sounds like one through Alex Turner’s churlish Yorkshire accent as he snarls, “Cause all you people are vampires/ And all your stories are stale/ And though you pretend to stand by us/ I know you’re certain we’ll fail.”
  • Sufjan Stevens, “You Are The Blood” mp3
Although not quite about vampires, this song still fits the mold with the unearthly quality it possesses. Stevens turned this Castanets song into an odd anthem weaving in and out of genre’s all in the name of good will. The cover was released on Dark Was the Night, the compilation release for the Red Hot Organization, a charity dedicated towards HIV and AIDS awareness and research.
  • Radiohead, “We Suck Young Blood (Your Time Is Up)” mp3
Radiohead are the champions when it comes to producing hauntingly beautiful music. Thom Yorke poses questions in his trademark falsetto, crooning, “Are you sweet?/ Are you fresh?/ Are you strung up by the wrists?/ We want the young blood.” Whether it’s young blood or true blood, these days, it seems like everybody wants it.

New Album News: Radiohead

Let the frenzy begin. The news has broken and Radiohead fans everywhere are rejoicing. In an interview with 6 Music, bassist, Colin Greenwood let it slip that a new album is in the works. The group put in some studio time last week with Nigel Godrich, who has produced every Radiohead album since OK Computer in ’97, and has since been referred to as the sixth member of the band. “Nigel [has the] ability to make [everything] sound vaguely plausible,” Greenwood said. “He can take anything, whether it is an old hi-fi unit or four or five people in a band, and he’ll try and make it work one way or another. I totally love and respect him for that.” While talking about the “noisy and chaotic” new album, Greenwood stated, “It’s at the stage where we’ve got the big Lego box out and we’ve tipped it out on the floor and we’re just looking at all the bits and thinking what’s next?” One thing’s for sure. We can’t wait to find out.

Video Killed The Radio Star: 6 Awesome Music Videos To Kick Start Your Weekend

When was the last time MTV played two music videos consecutively? When was the last time you saw a music video?
Since The Buggles first appeared on MTV the possibilities for music videos has grown, just look at Michael Jackson’s epic short feature and now soon-to-be Broadway musical, “Thriller” video. They come in many shapes and sizes, whether it’s exclusive backstage footage, band’s flexing their acting skills and playing dress up or an artful animation sequence. So here’s some vid picks, some old, some new, some borrowed (kinda, thanks for your suggestions girls, even if they didn’t make the cut) and some blue (or rather from the band that brought you the Blue album), for your viewing pleasure:

Fleet Foxes- White Winter Hymnal

The idea for this video is super cool, comparing the cycle of life to the round structure of the song, and besides, who doesn’t love claymation?!

A-Ha- Take On Me

One of my favorite videos ever, these pretty boys from Norway leap off the page.

Radiohead- Just

I LOVE this video! Conceptually brilliant, the unknown, possibly existential crisis combined with Radiohead’s abrasive jam is the work of genius.

The Strokes- Reptilia

If you don’t like The Strokes you may not like the video, but clean partial shots of a shoe, an eye, or a frenzied hand strumming guitar strings make for a visually aesthetic experience.
Favorite moment: As Julian sings: “Now every time that I look at myself,” curly headed Hammond Jr. slowly turns to face the camera, his eyes glancing upwards.

Weezer- Keep Fishin’

Known for their videos, the geeky 90’s rockers team up with the Muppets for a most sensational, inspiration, celebrational, Muppetational performance!

Loney Dear- Saturday Waits

In the style of photographer William Wegman, dogs dressed as human’s act out a tragic story of a relationship gone bad.