Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Get out of your head and dance along with Dragonette

 Canadian rockin' electro-pop trio Dragonette has been busy on tour since the September release of their 3rd album Bodyparts and they keep on keepin' on!

 Last week the band premiered the music video for their catchy single "Giddy Up" via PAPER Magazine and next month they're hitting the road with Australian electronic music duo The Presets for a co-headling tour! I just love when bands co-headline! It's double the fun!
Kicking things off on Cinco de Mayo this is sure to be a wild tour de force through the month of May. 

Photo by: Marc Fong
5/5 Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
5/7 Boston, MA @ Paradise
5/8 New York City, NY @ Terminal 5
5/9 Montreal, QC @ Le National
5/10 Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
5/12 Indianapolis, IN @ The Vogue
5/13 Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
5/14 Madison, WI @ Majestic Theatre
5/15 Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
5/17 Lawrence, KS @ Granada Theatre
5/18 Denver, CO @ Ogden
5/19 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot
5/20 Phoenix, AZ @ Marquee
5/21 Los Angeles, CA @ The Avalon
5/23 Los Angeles, CA @ Avalon
5/24 San Francisco, CA @ The Fox Theater
5/25 El Paso, TX @ Neon Desert Festival 

The party doesn't stop there! 
 Dragonette's headlining tour starts in June and it doesn't stop until the end of August. That means you have all summer to track them down and check them out!

6/10 Austin, TX @ Red 7
6/11 Dallas, TX @ Cambridge Room / HOB
6/14 Miami, FL @ Grand Central
6/15 Orlando, FL @ The Social
6/16 Jacksonville, FL @ Jack Rabbits
6/18 Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall
6/19 Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West
6/20 Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
6/21  Dover, DE @ Firefly Music Fest
8/4 Tumbler Ridge, Canada @ Grizfest
8/30 Cambridge, United Kingdom @ Lodestar Festival  

Monday, April 29, 2013

Metric @ The Fox Theater 4/18/2013

The last two times, actually the only two times I have seen Metric they have played acoustic sets (both of which were part of LIVE105's Not So Slient Night with a few years in between. Coincidence? Maybe...) 
Granted, both were really good but I was left wanting more!  
Luckily for me Metric played in Oakland between their sets at Coachella. Good thing because it was just about time for me to see them the way they should be seen, fully plugged in and rockin'!

The mood seemed subdued as the band headed into the night with “Artificial Nocturne,” “Youth Without Youth,” and “Speed The Collapse", the same first three songs off of last year's Synthetica. I thought that was kind of surprising seeing as Metric has four other albums worth of material but they didn't have a headlining tour it support of the album last year so it made sense!
Much like the underlying air heard on Synthetica, the stage remained rather ominous during this part of the show being illuminated from time to time with dark hues of reds and blues and an occasional blinding burst of white light.

Dripping in a cream colored leather tasseled jacket, a shiny silver sequence skirt and her signature goldie-blond locks Emily stayed tucked behind her keyboard for a good first half of the show. Though her look definitely fit the rock role I couldn't help but feel something was off with the leading lady.

Was it the lack of enthusiasm from the Oakland crowd?

Maybe Metric didn't get the memo that crossed arms in the crowd at a show in The Bay Area is the norm?
Maybe I just expected more energy on stage.

Yes, I was enjoying my self yet I couldn't stop wondering if Emily was enjoying herself which I got to say did take away from fully enjoying the show.

After four songs off of Synthetica Metric turned things up a notch, diving right into catalog track "Empty" giving guitarist James a chance to shine in the spotlight as he shredded the song's guitar solo. Continuing their catalog trend  "Help I'm Alive" saw fans come to life a little bit more. Emily's stage presence however, still seemed sort of phoned in, even as she sashayed around the stage.


Then, finally, Emily clued the crowd in about what was on her mind, an issue more and more artists are becoming more vocal about...cell phones at shows. 
In a melodramatic fashion she ranted about how cell phone cameras have changed how performers perform and that it's hard as a performer to say what's on your mind for fear of what is said being taken out of context.

 I can understand this frustration but only to a point. Scolding paying fans "face to face"when touring is music's money maker seems unfair. If you don't want to see screens at your shows then ban cell phones.

 The show moved on with less hands holding up phones during "Synthetica", "Clone", "Breathing Underwater" , "Sick Muse" and "Dead Disco". 
I was ok with the fact that the night ended on an acoustic note with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and heartfelt vocals for "Gimme Shelter". 
Thursday night's sold out show at The Fox Theater filled my electric Metric void! 

Set List 
Artificial Nocturne
Youth Without Youth
Speed the Collapse
Dreams So Real
Help I’m Alive
Breathing Underwater
Sick Muse
Dead Disco
Black Sheep
Monster Hospital
Gold Guns Girls
Gimme Sympathy (Acoustic)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

C2C at The Independent 4/13/2013

 Everyone with a laptop and a playlist these days is a DJ and I for one don't care to go to a show to watch someone press buttons to "make" music. I mean, sure, the music can be fun but is that really a show worth going to?

AND! What do you say? 
"I'm going to a show?"
"I'm going to watch a DJ"
"I'm going to a DJ show? A DJ act?"
Paris Hilton's DJing debut  in June 2012 in Brazil digitaldjtips.com 
Pressing buttons on stage at a venue does not constitute as a show in my book but going to dance to that artist's song catalog I get.

Close minded? 
I'm always down to go to (any type of) show because...well,  you never know...

 With all of that said, I'm glad I did not pass up the chance to see C2C at The Indpendent
In all honesty I hadn't heard of them so I did a little research and pretty much right off the bat I liked what I heard. 
The bluesy riffs and southern twang mix on "Down the Road" intrigued my senses: the sound is fresh yet has a throw back feel, like back in the height of MOBY days and I wondered if the singer (singers as I listened on) accompanied C2C on stage or was a member of C2C the vocalist or was the singing an audio sample? It also made me wonder if there would be an accompaning band with them.
 After listening I still wasn't sure what to expect but I was kind of excited to find out. 
Plus, it had to be a good sign that the show was sold out, right? 

The show started slow and steady as 20Syl, Greem, Atom and Pfel found their spots behind a large dark podem and things really got going when the build up to "The Cell" began. The dark podem doubled as the screen of bright white ever-changing images as the subte intermingled instrumental build up dropped into dance beats. There was a serious sort of enthusiastic intensity present with each member or maybe it was concentration. Whatever it was, it was there.

Suddenly I found myself amidst a party dancing to the techno beats mixed with a variety of vocals  being both spun and sung while I watched what the guys were doing behind the podem.
Smiling, crowd engaging fist pumping, dancing away from their posts behind the podem but were they spinning?!

They briefly greeted the San Francisco crowd somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd song of their set and that's when it occurred to me that the "light show" was synced to the songs which added a little more spice to the night.
 As the geometric shapes morphed they fell into to place with each beat and the DJs active stage presence continued; a key element missing from almost all current DJ acts. All of that combined made me not want to take my focus off of the the stage, it was so fun and refreshing to see.

These guys are a band of DJs!

The guys got their dance on, interacting with one another by way of exchanges of glances, grins and busting out moves. At one point they asked the sold-out crowd to use their voices to "scratch" with them but this request got lost in translation causing a somewhat calm comotion of cheers on the dance floor which left each of the four DJ-ing dudes looking confused.
The show went on and decide to make my way upstairs to snap some aerial shots and... that's when happened! I could see that these frenchies were indeed spinning on their own turn table behind the podem!

Then, to my surprise and surely everyone else's, they split! Literally. 
No the show wasn't over, it was almost as if it was just getting started!

The podem split in two, separating the four DJs, excuse me, the four turntableists into dueling pairs for an fan-judged "scratch-off"!  Near the end of their set the four of them stepped out from behind their posts and rapped a moving a cover of the Beastie Boys hit “Intergalactic”as tribute to the late MCA. 

After the show in SF, C2C headed back to Indio CA to play the second weekend at Coachella where they undoubtedly turned the tent they played in into sweaty dance party. Coachella is bunches of fun, don't get me wrong but I was so happy to be able to see C2C at The Independent.
If you get a chance to see C2C in a club, do it.
The C2C boys will be back in town for LIVE105's BFD May 19th at The Shoreline. Be sure to catch their endearing, engaging, exciting set in the Subsonic Tent, il est très bon!

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Airborne Toxic Event @ The Warfield 4/11/2013

Their 3rd album, Such Hot Blood comes out on April 30th, they released Secret, their 3rd EP on March 11th, performed their latest single "Timeless" on David Letterman the following night and before they hit the road to grace the main stage at Coachella The Airborne Toxic event gave fans in San Francisco a treat at The Warfield last week!


Regardless of the fact that I said excuse me, making my way to the photo pit proved tougher than expected as I found myself in a deadlock behind female fans unwilling to relinquish an inch of their standing spot. Understandably so but little did they know I had work to do!

"Gasoline" off of their self titled 2008 LP jump started Airborne's set with a contagious youth-fueled exuberance and I couldn't have been the only audience member surprised that Anna Bulbrook is now rocking the blonde! 

Aside from drummer Daren Taylor, the band did not stay in one place long: front man Mikel Jollet played the guitar center stage before bouncing to stage left and right, Steven Chen stepped into the spot light for Gasoline's guitar solo while Noah Harmon made his way from stage then practically on top of the drum set before finding his way back.

A few lucky fans in the front row got to get up close with Mikel as he teetered between the photo pit and the stage during "Happiness is Over-rated" (Happiness) while the antics on stage continued with Anna played tambourine from atop Noah's shoulders before she dove into the crowd a few songs later!

Mikel vocalized genuine gratitude to the Airborne fans for coming out to their largest SF show to date and there was no stopping his infectious smile as his focus shifted from the crowded mezzanine floor up to the  fans in (and out) of their seats in the balcony. 


Though the absence of "Innocence"  was a minor disappointment amidst the 14 track set-list and three song long en core I don't doubt that  everyone at The Warfield last Thursday night enjoyed the show!


The Airborne Toxic Event will be back in the Bay soon! 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Avan Lava & Little Boots

Avan Lava is hitting the road on their very first National tour opening for Little Boots!

photo credit: Shervin Lainez
photo credit: Shervin Lainez

Avan Lava's live performance has been described as raucous with a never ending energy comprised of choreographed dance breaks set to the beat of their electric Indie-pop. 

 Deemed "ones to watch at SXSW", the New York based band  is streaming their Flex Fantasy EP  and  are currently in the studio working on finishing up their debut album but they'll be taking a break from recording to play six shows with Little Boots next month. 

Can you think of a better place other than San Francisco's premier Indie Night Club, Popscene for these acts to play in the Bay? Neither can I, so snag your tickets to the party on May 3rd today! 

Thursday 5/2: Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex
Friday 5/3: San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop 
Saturday 5/4: Philadelphia, PA @ Voyeur 
 Sunday 5/5: Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
Tuesday 5/7: Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Wednesday 5/8: Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Knife: Shaking The Habitual

It's not hard to expect the unexpected when it comes to The Knife, what with their experimental trip-hop sounds and eerie sounding sometimes whisper-like singing.  The name of their forthcoming 4th studio album, Shaking The Habitual, let's us know before even listening to it that this will not be The Knife we thought we once knew.  

I'm willing to bet that is exactly what the synthy Swedish siblings wanted.
Shaking: verb; To remove or dislodge by jerky movements. To cause to lose stability or waver. To disturb or agitate; unnerve. 
Hibitual: adjective; of the nature of a habit; fixed by or resulting from habit. Commonly used, followed, observed, etc., as by a particular person. 

 Introductory track "Tooth for an Eye" seemingly ease us into their first album in seven years with traces of their past and glimpses of what's new: the familiarity of andrognous yodeling and a hint of ambientness intermingled with a drum/bongo heavy tribal melody unfamiliar to their "normal" sound que not only made my ears perk...I think that it works.  

It's still not easy to distinguish which one from the duo is singing (an element which again is probably intentional) but it is indeed Karin Dreijer Andersson's vocals on "Tooth for an Eye." Her recognizable yet unique high pitch nasally falsetto range and deliberately extended delivery carry an underlying political  theme, a theme heard more so on this album than any of their previous ones.  

 The cautious air of familiarity  slowly starts to retract as booming drum beats and vigorous drum rolls lead the way into the nine minute long second track, "Full of Fire." It's layers of various percussion, record scratching, fast tempo video game sound effects and voice distortions make for an anxeity raising  combination before the more subdued, warped sounds bring us the next track"A Cherry On Top." 


As the album progresses on so do the changing sounds with each song: world music type rhythms  accompanied by wind instruments and a sped up tempoed chorus make up the 4th track, "With Out You My Life Would Be Boring" while the 5th track, "Wrap Your Arms Around Me" dives back in to a deep ambiance with an intense tempo. After 55 seconds eerie seconds, "Crake" drones into a 19 minute long industrial, experimental instrumental track "Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized" and before you know it "Old Dreams" morphs into the remaining 6 songs.

"There are so many old ideas that are not realized yet: classless society, real democracy, all peoples' right to move and be in the world with the same circumstances, I could go on," 
Olof Dreijer stated in an interview with Pitchfork Magazine

At times it can be uncomfortable listening through out the double album's 13 tracks which overload senses with a wide variety of ominous shrieking  alternative synth-rock questioning everything from: monarchy and patriarchy to gender and race, racism, environmentalism, class, sexuality separatism,  feminism and socialism in their very own way. In an odd way the songs
on Shaking The Habitual don't sound like it they belong on the same album yet I can't imagine any one of these songs being on any other album but this one. 

The same goes for a lot of albums out there but you really do have to be in the right mood and willing to go with them flow to enjoy the journey this album takes you on. I definitely wouldn't recommend throwing it on if you have a headache or if you're feeling nauseous.

Less dancy and comprehensible than Deep Cuts (2003) which is less dancy than Silent Shout (2006) The Knife have indeed delivered something new and still, Shaking The Habitual (available now on itunes)  is unmistakably material by The Knife.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Specter at the Feast

Upon the release of, "Specter at the Feast" from Black Rebel Motor Cycle Club I thought to myself who better to review the 7th album from the garage revival rockers than the friend (and huge BRMC fan) who introduced me to the band years ago?

 When I asked JCD a.k.a: Jesse C. Dienner if he'd be interested in reviewing "Specter at the Feast" as the first guest writer featured here on Sweet Sound Bites he informed me that he had bought the album the day it was released (March 19th) and was busy listening to it.  Then without skipping a beat he said that he would love to review the album! 

Among many endearing qualities, Jesse C Dienner is a music-aficionado of sorts with a keen ear for various rock genres, he is part of  numerous local bands and also produces small shows around the Bay Area. 
And! His wardrobe rocks! How can you not trust a guy's musical input when he looks like a rockstar knowing that he's not even trying? Right?!

So, without further a do:

Specter At The Feast by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Reviewed by Jesse C. Dienner


Despite the starting tones sounding reminiscent of vintage Intel Microchip commercial music, I am still inevitably sold on the marvelousness of Specter At The Feast by the time I reach end of the side one track one “Firewalker.”  It is the kind of song that gives the listener so much sound landscape to play in, that one can easily start to invent one’s own lyrics to go along with the deliberate yet simultaneously stumbling beat.  This is a slow gait for an album that hits so hard shortly thereafter; and that juxtaposition frames this album and their overall style perfectly.  

The rambunctious side kicks in with “Hate The Taste” and “Rival,” which, sound like twain songs from the same original whole, or perhaps they are twin singles.  And, to that end, I suppose “Teenage Disease,” which follows right after, could be the youngest sibling still, or the surprise triplet, as it matches the driving progression of its two elders.  But, wait; what’s with these three titles, anyway?  Man, this shit is dark!  But, again, it is just one side of their coin.  This trio has always rolled through its musical life embracing both the dark—with phrases like “I’d rather die…” from the aforementioned song—and also the light—as noted in the second track, the posthumous, pére-homage-cover “Let The Day Begin” with its refrain “Here’s to you my little love with blessings from above…”  And, on top of that, the album is further illuminated by the shimmering song “Sometimes the Light.” 

     Many fans have come to love these guys (and now gal) for their unbridled appreciation of opposed concepts and their willingness to literally play the pendulum.  We remember the folky Howl just as we can always revisit the debut, self-abbreviated-titled album, with its explicit (if parenthetical) nod to something much harder as depicted in the tune “Whatever Happened To My Rock ‘N’ Roll (Punk Song).” Specter At The Feast takes its position in this cannon with its own uniqueness amidst that familiar dichotic sweet and sour.

Speaking of sweet sour, I am elated to notice that on the sleeve for the album, Robert, Peter and Leah have opted to continue their brilliant inclusion from the penultimate disc, Beat The Devil’s Tattoo, wherein they list ten or so albums by other bands which they wholeheartedly recommend to us listeners. This year’s Society of Good Records (as they call it) proudly nominates SweetSour by the incendiary Band Of Skulls as a prize-worthy work.  Band of Skulls got one of their first breaks touring with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club back in 2010 for the Beat The Devil’s Tattoo tour.



 With Beat The Devil’s Tattoo as the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s last impression and with high hopes and expectations, I attended a pair of warm-up concerts last December in San Francisco and Santa Cruz.  On those California winter nights, handfuls of new songs from the yet-to-be-released Specter At The Feast were played, in some cases, for the first times ever before live audiences.

The track that stuck out most upon these virgin listens ended up being the final track on the album, “Lose Yourself.”  Nevertheless, that song like this whole, new offering of songs continues to evolve, as it rolls itself over one’s sonic taste-buds. “Lose Yourself,” in particular, continues to deepen, expand, and intensify in songwriting brilliance the more I hear it.  It seems simple, and it is simple; and really it is simply excellent.   

(1of 6) BRMC's "Specter At The Feast" Short Film Series. Watch all 6 here

I have more exploring to do on this album, but I can tell that my dreams for its grandeur are already coming to fruition.  Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has yet to compromise their authenticity; and a complement couldn’t be higher.  Many of these newly-birthed songs will continue to take shape when played live on the current tour. Specter At The Feast is a relatively raw release where not a single lick was forced to conform to some level of production or some exact form in any sense; and by doing so (or rather not doing so) there is infinite give in the song structures.  In fact, there is a mysterious smokiness to these songs that truly matches the intention set by the album title, making this a collection of ghostly songs.  And if that weren’t enough, there is even a track called “Some Kind of Ghost.” (!!!)


As ever, I am proud of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club for being excellent writers, whose form matches their content and whose content matches their form.  And, what’s more, I am ever-impressed with how subtly their innate symmetry maintains itself: out go the Intel tones, one more time, at the close of the album; and we are brought back to the start, ready for another listen.

Big thanks to special guest writer Jesse C. Dienner for his spectacular review! 
Specter at the Feast is available now!