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.

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Assessment! Regina Spektor’s "Far"

(Sire Records)
June 22, 2009
In the past, Regina Spektor has displayed a knack for crafting off-kilter tunes that are melodic and intricate.  This latest album is no different. The first tracks, “The Calculation” and “Eet,” are excellent examples of Spektor’s ability to travel up and down vocal scales with mastery. “Blue Lips” starts off with just Spektor’s voice, but as the song continues piano and other instruments join in.  “Laughing With” seems like a play on Joan Osborne’s “One of Us.”
Like with every Spektor record, some songs do not work as well as others. “Dance Anthem of the 80s” contains a overpowering piano melody and her voice is definitely on display for all to listen to.  The breakdown appears to be heavily influenced by the music of Spektor’s Russian roots. Its unique but doesn’t present itself as an everlasting track.   “Machine,” a rough-and-tough song about, I think, post-apocalyptic life and living with full reliance on technology, exists somewhere off the scale of normalcy but could be a grower in some cases.
“One More Time With Feeling” is one of the more standout tracks of the album.  It sounds joyful but is actually a depressing and easily relatable tale of “playing parts” and going through the motions.  “Genius Next Door” is a definite example of her background in classical music while “Folding Chair” operates as an alluring ode to companionship.
Overall this album operates in line with her other releases. It is as accessible as 2006’s “Begin to Hope” and contains quite a few glorious pop songs along with some stranger tracks that convey Spektor’s off-beat and charming personality. Her voice is as potent as ever.  This album is an essential for those who are already a fan of her work as well as those who crave unique piano melodies coupled with even more unique lyrical composition.
  • Mp3s: “One More Time with Feeling”  and “Folding Chair”
  • For more information about Regina Spektor, check out her myspace and official website.

Thursday Top 5: Booze-Filled Tunes for V-Day

So, with Valentines’ Day coming up this weekend, I wanted to do a list of songs related to this day that, I believe, was created by greeting card and florist companies to make loads and loads (and loads) of money on one day. But instead, I decided to do a list of songs, in no particular order, that are drenched in booze, feelings and all that good stuff. Enjoy!

1. The Good Life, I Am Island mp3

 

“Because the night’s tragic rambling/ is the next day’s apology. / So if you can just sit tight until the sun hits the blinds / we can settle everything.”

 

No one knows how to describe the sullen mood of boozing quite like Tim Kasher and The Good Life.His howling voice accurately conveys the feeling associated with those booze-fueled evenings that end with regret of what was said.The drunkard in this song is unsure of everything. He hopes to soothe the uncertainty with a drink or two but finds it just makes things worse.In just under 2 minutes and thirty seconds, the mood goes from trying to work things out to realizing that he is just a “selfish” and a “dysfunctional fuck up” who quits, baby.

2. The Hold Steady, You Gotta Dance (With Who You Came To the Dance With) (live) mp3

 

“I was out of my head so it was out of my hands/ White wine and some tall boy cans./ They powered up and they proceeded to jam man.”

 

The Hold Steady have so many songs about drinking.But this is by far my favorite one.To me, it is almost educational.Let me explain that:In the Live at the Fingerprints 2006 performance, Craig Finn bantered about how this song title isn’t about dancing, per-say. It is a simply piece of advice that you have to stick to one type of alcohol per night otherwise you will regret it in the morning.Everyone has made that mistake and, without fail, has woken up with a nasty headache, stomachache, and sometimes, heartache.Listen to The Hold Steady on this one; they know what they are talking (singing) about.

3. Bright Eyes, Well Whiskey mp3

 

“Now I let my troubles solve themselves./ I used to get involved, but I’m just no help./ But tonight let’s pretend that we’re just like we were./ Let me stay until the morning, I will sleep on the floor.”

 

Omaha, Nebraska-native Bright Eyes has a history of writing great songs about alcohol (“Hit the Switch,” “Lua,” etc).This one has a special charm to it. Whiskey is a drink associated with, often, the most unattended of folks.The smell that flows from the glass can be alienating at best. And the taste is as overwhelming as the odor.

The whole song is basically a testimonial to what happens when whiskey is the drink choice. Whether it be from the every-day well or the special occasion “top shelf,” the mood is one where postulating about the past and future is the norm.Control is exalted to the glass and nostalgia takes over. Whatever the outcome of the night is, a swift washing of clothing will be performed in order to get the stink of the night off the rags.Whiskey never fails to leave a stench on all it touches.

4. Deer Tick, Art isn’t Real (City of Sin) mp3

 

“I am just going through the motions./ I need an old fashioned potion./ There has gotta be some old recipe / ‘cuz I gotta get drunk/ I gotta forget about some things.”

 

Hailing from Providence, Rhode Island, this band released their first studio album “War Elephant” in 2007.Their folksy sound is paired with the raspy voice of lead-singer John McCauley. In this song, which is the second song on the album, he describes an obsession with thinking. He is hopeful for things to get better, but for the time being, he feels that they might not.He is regretful for wasteful actions. He dwells on bad memories. He wants to go back the simpler times but cannot.It is a familiar feeling that, to be sure, has been experienced by most 20-somethings trying to find their place in the world after four years of blissful college life.

5. Regina Spektor, Bartender mp3

 

“I’ve been too candid./ Now I’m barely standing./ Just call me a taxi and prepare for landing.”

 

Now it should be stated that the extent to which I like female vocalists is pretty limited at best.But I love Regina Spektor.There is something so raw about her persona that I feel the emotional severity in each note she sings.And with this song, I can relate to every single word she utters as she slams on the piano. Even the smallest details of this song, like the way she repeats ‘bartender’ over and over again emphasizing each syllable, is a perfect portray of the way one feels after clasping to the bar stool all night.Things get fuzzy after a point and last call is coming. It’s time to put down the glass and get on home. Things will never feel quite the same until next time of course.