Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pulp, live @ TerraVibe Park (Athens, August 20, 2011)

…And a few days after returning home from our trip to Berlin, we find here in our own backyard reunited Britpop legends Pulp asking questions like "Do You Remember the First Time?" (yes I do and so does Jarvis: summer of ’98, Rockwave Festival by the sea, with a huge cloud of sand hovering above our heads), sharing entertaining facts about famous people like Plato or Robert Plant and Phil Lynott (it was their birthday) and, most importantly, singing about "Common People" and their lives from the unique perspective of pop mastermind Jarvis Cocker.

"Different Class", Pulp’s greatest achievement, is the main course of the almost two-hour live extravaganza, with "Disco 2000" being the shiniest gem of the set, followed closely by "Common People", "I Spy" (with a spy camera enhancing Jarvis's theatrics) and passionate closer "Mis-Shapes". "This is Hardcore", although not among my favorite Pulp tracks (great title though), is undeniably spectacular tonight with Jarvis pole-dancing on top of the speaker stacks. From the few tracks in their set before the master class of ’95 we get another two of the show’s highlights, "Babies" and "Razzmatazz". 

One of the (admittedly lesser) results of the ongoing downward spiral of the economy is that we were left with no worthwhile music festivals this summer. At least, thanks to Pulp’s magnificent second coming, we got to witness a truly memorable, festival headlining-worthy performance. The only thing missing was fireworks (and "Countdown" or "My Legendary Girlfriend"). Don’t miss them at Reading tonight if you happen to be nearby.

Set list: Do You Remember the First Time?, Joyriders, Help the Aged, Bad Cover Version, Something Changed, Disco 2000, Sorted For E's & Wizz, F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E, I Spy, Babies, Underwear, This Is Hardcore, Sunrise, Bar Italia, Common People

Encore: Party Hard, Razzmatazz, Mis-Shapes

Pulp - Disco 2000, live @ TerraVibe Park (August 20, 2011)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Postcards from Berlin #3: Ringo Deathstarr, Puro Instinct, live @ Comet Club, (August 9, 2011)

The last part of our Berlin rock’n’roll adventures is all about noise and dream pop: the seductive combination of Ringo Deathstarr’s sexy, '80s revival shoegaze noise and Puro Instinct’s ethereal, psychedelic pop.

Ringo Deathstarr
Both bands have just started making waves this year with the release of their respective debut albums, "Headbangers in Ecstasy" by Puro Instinct and "Colour Trip" by Ringo Deathstarr, and judging by the fact that the tiny Comet Club was not exactly filled to capacity, it seems that there is still work to be done by both of them before really making their mark.

Puro Instinct
LA’s Puro Instinct, led by sisters Piper and Skylar Kaplan, had to deal with a few sound problems but they still managed to deliver a satisfying set of powered up versions of their delicate tunes. Piper, the band’s singer and natural center of attention with her young Debbie Harry looks, still needs experience to become more comfortable on stage but her sensual voice, a perfect fit for Puro Instinct’s daydream sound, is already one of the band’s most valuable assets. Skylar, her even younger sister, is also a major influence on the band’s sound, contributing psychedelic colors to the melodies with her distinctive guitar playing. Puro Instinct’s songwriting skills may not have reached yet the desired levels of headbanging ecstasy, but tracks like "Stilyagi" promise that full bloom may soon be upon us.

Puro Instinct

Ringo Deathstarr hail from Austin, Texas, but you couldn’t tell just by listening to "Colour Trip". The album’s sound is firmly rooted in the mid '80s UK noise pop pioneered by Jesus And Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine that eventually gave birth to the whole shoegaze scene of the early '90s. Ringo Deathstarr are doing a fine job of recreating that much loved combination of sugar pop melodies and howling guitar noise on record, but the live experience becomes even louder and the influence of US noise bands like Sonic Youth becomes equally pivotal to their sound. In a few tracks, especially some of those sung by guitarist Elliott Frazier, even hardcore punk makes its presence felt, making the band’s Texas origins much more obvious.

In general, though, the band at the moment has two main operative modes, and those are "Psychocandy"-era Jesus And Mary Chain machinegun noise pop mainly on tracks sung by Frazier and My Bloody Valentinesque swoon pop on those where bassist/guitarist Alex Gehring takes the lead. Although this is definitely not something new, it is certainly exiting to experience it live and personally I’d much rather have an '80s noise revival than to listen to most of the current trendy chillwave or post-dubstep laptop music. Exciting live music needs loud guitars and Ringo Deathstarr are more than happy to provide us. Judging by tonight’s fired up performance and by what I’m reading in this interview about the direction they want to take for their next record ("My Bloody Valentine mixed with Fugazi and Bad Brains, but also getting in some De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest somehow"), I think we can expect even more exciting things from Elliott, Alex and Daniel in the near future.

Ringo Deathstarr

Ringo Deathstarr - Imagine Hearts, live @ Comet Club (Aug. 9, 2011)

Puro Instinct - Stilyagi, live @ Comet Club (Aug. 9, 2011)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Postcards from Berlin #2: Sebadoh, live @ Festsaal Kreuzberg, (August 8, 2011)

The last time I had the chance to see Sebadoh live was 12 years ago at Reading Festival’s main stage, cheerfully knocking out a brief "greatest hits" set on an uncharacteristically warm and sunny Saturday afternoon. Despite the early slot, it was for my money one of the day’s most enjoyable performances along with those from Sleater-Kinney and Pavement who also played early and convinced me that the festival would have been a lot better with its line-up reversed (ok, it would have been ridiculous to kick it off with Blur, but is there anyone who seriously misses Catatonia, The Divine Comedy or Fun Loving Criminals now?).

 Fast forward to this August and our trip to Berlin and here’s my chance after all these years to catch up with the revitalized Sebadoh in the midst of a tour promoting the recently reissued "Bakesale", perhaps the band’s best LP. Not surprisingly, it was this album’s track list that dominated the glorious hour and a half set, with indie rock gems like "Rebound", "Skull", "License to Confuse", "Careful", "Magnet's Coil", "Got It" et al. having once again the chance to shine and remind us how thrilling the contrast between Lou Barlow’s melodic anthems and Jason Loewenstein’s powerful punk ditties can be. The soon to get the reissue treatment "Harmacy", another highlight of Sebadoh’s less lo-fi mid ‘90s period, also contributed to the night’s fun with "Beauty of the Ride", "Ocean", "Too Pure" and "Mind Reader" being among the set’s top moments, while there was still time for a few older favorites like "Freed Pig", "2 Years 2 Days" (great work by drummer Bob D'Amico who, according to Lou, never played it at a gig before) and "Sister".

Sebadoh’s thoroughly enjoyable, passionate performance not only reminded us exactly why we loved them back in the ‘90s, but it also proved that they still got what it takes to indie-rock hard in the these guitar-rock starved days. Just "gimme indie rock!", as they once shouted, and how about some new tunes as well?

Here’s the night's approximate set list from a photo taken by Stelios (the Greek element was in full force down the right side of Festsaal Kreuzberg’s stage and we all got the matching T-shirts to prove it!):

Sebadoh - Rebound, live @ Festsaal Kreuzberg, (August 8, 2011)

Sebadoh - Beauty of the Ride, live @ Festsaal Kreuzberg, (August 8, 2011)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Postcards from Berlin #1: Destroyer, live @ Magnet Club, (August 7, 2011)

After a couple of weeks of downtime to refill our batteries, Cool Music Central is back and has some exclusive audio and visual treats for you.

Part of our brief summer vacation was spent in Berlin, Germany, where aside from the usual sightseeing (check out at the left a photo of Victoria's statue, or Goldelse as Berliners like to call her, at the top of the Victory Column - the angels' favorite hangout spot according to Wim Wenders' ace 1987 film "Wings of Desire"), we also had the opportunity to attend a few fine gigs around town. And since this a music and not a travel blog, the photos, videos and stories we have to share with you over the next few days are from these musical excursions of ours in Berlin, starting with Destroyer's excellent performance at the Magnet Club on August 7th.

Dan Bejar's longest running musical project may not be as high profile as The New Pornographers, the indie-rock collective that most of us associate him with, but this may well change given how awesome "Kaputt" is, Destroyer's highly acclaimed ninth long-player.

The album's richly orchestrated pop gems formed, of course, the backbone of the luscious sounding 70-minute set, with "Chinatown", "Savage Night at the Opera", "Kaputt", "Song for America" and "Suicide Demo for Kara Walker" being the highlights of the evening which closed with an encore performance of the epic "Bay of Pigs". Before the show's grand finale there was just enough time in the main set for a couple of choice cuts from the band's rich back catalogue, including "Painter in Your Pocket" from the 2006 album "Destroyer's Rubies" which you can check out below our photos from the evening:

Destroyer - Painter In Your Pocket, live @ Magnet Club, Berlin

Support for the Destroyer gig came from Berlin-based duo Zulu Pearls. Download their track "Keep it Cool" from the LP "No Heroes No Honeymoons" below to get a taste of their slow-burning indie-pop sound:

Coming up in part 2 of our Berlinale: Sebadoh rock Festsaal Kreuzberg and we all get matching T-shirts to commemorate the occasion!