Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Album of the Month: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!

With the first two albums, Yeah Yeah Yeahs had already established themselves as one of the best bands of this decade. With the third, titled "It's Blitz!", the band emphasizes its ability to change, reinventing themselves as the kings and queen of indie-disco.

From 2003's riot-punk explosion that was "Fever To Tell" to 2006's pristine rock sound of "Show Your Bones" the band had already covered a lot of ground, turning from the plucky, loud-mouthed ugly duckling of "Bang" to the beautiful swan of "Gold Lion" and "Turn Into". The question, of course, was where to go now and the answer came from the alluring call of the dancefloor. The band had shown us some of their dance moves before with songs like "Phenomena", but this time around the party is full-blown, led by the euphoric first single "Zero" (Yeah Yeah Yeahs answer to Blondie's "Heart of Glass") and killer disco-punk smash hits like "Heads Will Roll" and "Dragon Queen". Fans of the more sensitive side of the band shall be pleased to know that the beats do occasionally subside to make way for some pure pop moments like "Soft Shock", "Runaway" or the magnificent "Hysteric". A decade into their career, Yeah Yeah Yeahs not only avoid repeating themselves but manage to remain a vital force by constantly evolving and reinventing their sound, with the only constant being the amazing, powerful voice of Karen O, this generation's Siouxsie Sioux. It's not just blitz, it's an unquestionable triumph!

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero

Friday, April 17, 2009

Live action round up: Ice Cube, 65 Days Of Static & The Subways in Athens

No, this is not a review of some weird rap - post-rock- punk-pop festival, just a brief look at some of the gigs that took place in Athens in the last month.

You may have noticed that we haven't been posting any live music reviews lately and that's simply because nothing really exciting is going on round here in 2009 so far (apart from that evening with Greg Dulli & Mark Lanegan in February). It could be a result of the global economic crisis or just poor decision making on the part of concert promoters regarding the names they choose to bring in Greece. Anyway, this situation is about to change as an impressive number of good bands are about to pay us a visit in the next months. Actually, with the kind of prices that concert tickets cost here, it won't be easy for most people to attend all the gigs that they would like to, and this means that we cannot predict success for all the upcoming live events. Some of the names that have been announced so far include Ladytron, Franz Ferdinand, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, The Horrors, Mercury Rev, Paul Weller, Nine Inch Nails with Jane's Addiction, Rockwave Festival with Killers, Placebo, Moby, Foals, Eject Festival with Pixies, Editors, White Lies, Royksopp, Jarvis Cocker, Klaxons, Synch Festival with Tortoise, Friendly Fires, Junior Boys, Fujiya & Miyagi, The Bug, Merzbow. As for C.M.C., we will do our best to go to most of these events and bring you exclusive photos, videos, views & reviews. There are also talks about a trip to Barcelona at the end of May for Primavera Sound Festival. We'll keep you posted, but until all these wonderful things happen (or not), let's take a brief look at what actually happened in Athens lately:

Ice Cube - Live @ Fuzz Club (April 12th)

The last time that West Coast legendary rapper Ice Cube actually made a great record, Bill Clinton was the newest occupant of The White House and the thought of a black U.S. President still seemed like something out of a Hollywood script. Still, there is no denying that even after 25 years in the rap game, the former N.W.A. star can still rock the mike like very few can and even if the latest material is no match to his '80s and '90s output, there are plenty of old classics to spice up his ace 90-minute show (his first in Athens)
with his Westside Connection cohort WC. Greatest moment of the night: the "Straight Outta Compton" / "F... Tha Police" N.W.A. medley that you can watch below (courtesy of Cool Music Central TV):

Ice Cube with WC - Straight Outta Compton / F... Tha Police (Live @ Fuzz Club)

65 Days Of Static - Live @ Gagarin 205 (April 4th)

To be honest, I am not a big fan of post-rock. The endless noodling and "atmospheric" experimentation of some of the bands in this genre, not to mention the lack of lyrics, leave me cold. But there are, of course, exceptions to my anti-post-rock stance and 65 Days Of Static have managed to win my interest thanks to the injection of heavy doses of explosive electronica to their post-rock amalgam. The result was an entertaining hour-long high-energy performance based on material from their new live album "Escape From New York" (a title inspired by the John Carpenter movie, I am guessing), that ended with a ceremonial thrashing of the stage. A taster here:

65 Days Of Static (Live @ Gagarin 205)

The Subways - Live @ Kyttaro Club (March 19th)

Here's a band that under normal circumstances (i.e. if there had been any decent gigs in Athens recently) I wouldn't go to see simply because I find their punk-pop to be a little too derivative, but I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by their live presence. Their energy on stage is simply unbelievable and what The Subways are lacking in originality they make up for in wide-eyed enthusiasm and good looks. The young crowd's participation in the night's shenanigans was also commendable, shouting back the lyrics of the songs and happily pogoing about. The finale of the show was a truly memorable performance of the band's biggest hit, "Rock 'n' Roll Queen", with Billy Lunn crowd-surfing around the club like it was 1991, and even managing an impressively reckless jump from the club's balcony onto the adoring crowd. So, even if you are not a big fan of the band, you should definitely check out the video below capturing the whole entertaining mess:

The Subways - Rock 'n' Roll Queen (Live @ Kyttaro Club)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Listening Habits 03.2009

Spring is here again...and it's off to a good start with a blossoming of fine new music, as you can see in this month's extensive and varied album list. The album of the month, as you may have guessed if you've read our previous post or the feature I wrote for mixgrill, is the recently released "Fantasies", Metric's fourth LP, which is currently dominating my mp3 playlist (the cd is coming soon). The self-released effort comes almost four years after "Live it out" and boasts some of the finest songs of their career so far, with leading track and first single "Help I'm alive" being a fine example of their dynamic sound. It is also very interesting to compare the album version of the track, that rocks like The Pixies on fire, to the hauntingly beautiful acoustic version available as a free mp3 from the band's site - the many faces of Metric's sound revealed to the tune of the same, yet so different, song.

Another release from a Canadian band is the next entry in our album list. It's «Face Control», the second Handsome Furs album on Sub Pop. The group consists of the husband and wife duo of Dan Boeckner (also a member of Wolf Parade) and Alexei Perry. Their idiosyncratic rock sound has become more accessible here thanks to the electropop elements creeping in their music and the influence of New Order (album track «All we want, baby, is everything» is actually based on the Mancunians' classic «Temptation»).

The Top 4 is completed by two Scandinavian entries: «Futuro», the fourth release by Low Frequency In Stereo from Norway, and the self-titled debut of Fever Ray from Sweden, a name behind which hides Karin Dreijer Andersson from The Knife.
Low Frequency In Stereo started their recording career at the beginning of this decade as a typical post-rock band, but they've gradually shifted their sound by adding some fine vocal harmonies and making their krautrock and dream pop influences more prominent. This year's record is their best and also most accessible work to date. On the other hand, the word «accessible» is certainly not applicable to Fever Ray's work. Only those already familiar to the strange, dreamlike world of The Knife (the group consisting of Karin and her brother Olof) will feel at home to the otherworldly, haunted sounds of Fever Ray. But if this is your first introduction to Karin's music, it will probably take several listens before surrendering to these seductive electronic nightmares. Like the eccentric cinematic world of David Lynch, this record is certainly not for everyone but it is definitely worth a try for an experience unlike any other.

Top 16 Albums

1. Fantasies - METRIC
2. Face Control - HANDSOME FURS
4. Fever Ray - FEVER RAY
5. Radio Wars - HOWLING BELLS
6. Alight Of Night - CRYSTAL STILTS
7. High Places - HIGH PLACES
9. Middle Cyclone - NEKO CASE
10. Fortress 'Round My Heart - IDA MARIA
12. Dark Was The Night - VARIOUS ARTISTS
13. Love Hate And Then There's You - THE VON BONDIES
14. 200 Million Thousand - BLACK LIPS
15. Dear John - LONEY DEAR
16. Grace/Wastelands - PETER DOHERTY

Top 20 Tracks

1. Help I’m alive - METRIC
3. I’m confused - HANDSOME FURS
4. Treasure hunt - HOWLING BELLS
5. Seven - FEVER RAY
6. This tornado loves you - NEKO CASE
7. Young adult friction - THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART
8. Departure - CRYSTAL STILTS
9. Me & Mary - ASOBI SEKSU
10. From stardust to sentience - HIGH PLACES
11. Troubles like mine - GUN OUTFIT
12. Devotion - VIVA VOCE
13. Oh my God - IDA MARIA
14. Pale bride - THE VON BONDIES
15. Short fuse - BLACK LIPS
16. Bells of creation - …AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD
17. Well-alright - SPOON
18. Last of the English roses - PETER DOHERTY
19. Walking on a dream - EMPIRE OF THE SUN
20. Everything turns to you - LONEY DEAR

Handsome Furs - I'm confused