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Song of the Week: Cymbals Eat Guitars “Aerobed”

Coming off of the Kevin Devine series of splits, CEG is back with a toure de force. Produced by Brand New’s Jesse Lacey, “Aerobed” is one of the better build up songs we have heard in some time.  It’s acoustic body never relents, while Joseph D’Agostino lyrics softly shine early on.  Vividly setting the scene “Love’s truck stop, bum fuck Georgia” paints a picture that ends up getting torched in the end.

The band has signed to Sinderlyn and looks to release a new record next fall.

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#Throwback Thursday – Stephen Lynch

Every once in a while you just need a good laugh. Stephen Lynch is one of the best satirical writers ever. Lynch can be a little off color, but at the end of the song it’s hard not to chuckle, even if you don’t want to. Here are some of our favorites. If you get easily offended please do not continue.

She Gotta Smile

Lullaby

Little Tiny Moustache

Special Ed

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Blur – Concert Review – October 23, 2015 – Madison Square Garden

What a long strange trip it has been for Britpop legends Blur. Tonight after 20 plus years as a band, they finally made it to the music mecca Madison Square Garden.  To say this night was long overdue is an understatement.

For the first time in a long, long time the opening act for us was one not to miss in Courtney Barnett. The white t-shirt wearing, Joan Jett look alike Aussie was well worth the abbreviated pre game bar session. If you have not listened to her debut album “Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit” (sure to be in our top 50 of 2015), we highly suggest you check it out. Courtney proved that rock was not just for the boys, and for her finale she thrashed through her standout track “Pedestrian at Best” which has one of the best choruses we’ve heard in a long time.

put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint

you tell me I’m exceptional and I promise to exploit you

give me all your money and I’ll make some origami honey

I think you’re a joke but I don’t find you very funny

As expected, the Garden was probably a 1/4 full for Barnett’s opening performance. But after running to the bathroom and grabbing a few adult beverages, I was shocked to see the Garden filled to capacity. The question of whether Blur could sell out MSG had been definitively answered some 15 minutes to showtime.

Blur took the stage to raucous cheers and it was easy to see this meant a lot to the Brits. They quickly went in to their standout track “Go Out” from this years album Magic Whip (Spoiler Alert: Top 50 album of 2015). Damon quickly gauged the NYC crowd’s sing along skills with the chorus from “Go Out” We going to the Loo-ahh-ooo-ah-ooo-ooo-cal. The crowd was up to Damon’s early challenge, setting the tone for a night of great crowd participation.

The energy of Blur, and in particular lead singer Damon Albarn, was infectious.  Damon spent most of the night jumping and leaping on stage while dousing the front row in what seemed like an endless supply of water bottles. One spray might have went astray as he seemed to lean in to an individual crowd member to apologize.

Throughout the night Blur mixed in older tracks with tunes from Magic Whip. To their credit they didn’t really push the new songs on the crowd, only playing 4. They managed to perfectly balance the newer tunes from Magic Whip with a steady dose of classic hits.

Blur also paid attention to where so many bands miss the mark. They spared no expense in having a long line of backup singers and a full horn section. Having this extra, makes a world of difference.

The surprise performance of the night was “Country Sad Ballad Man” from their only hit US album, the self titled Blur (1997).  Damon announced they had not played the song in a very long time and had much of the crowd singing and bouncing along in approval.

The highlight of their performance was the six song set that led to their encore break. “Tender” proved that US audiences could sing along with anyone else in the world. The “oh my baby” chant would echo loud and true through the arena, with most fans hoping it would just keep going and going.

Throughout the week there were rumblings of who might show up to “sing” the main verses of “Parklife”. Supposedly Mike Myers had turned down the chance to sing it dressed as Austin Powers (damn). Fred Armisen from SNL and Portlandia fame who had sung it in LA was also unavailable. Ultimately a group of young fans joined Blur on stage to try their best. Damon seemed to be hoping for the best, but expecting the worst as a young gal grabbed the mic. To his delight, as well as the audience’s, she made it through the first verse as good as you could expect from a plucked audience member. See for yourself.

From there they played the sporting anthem “Song 2”. Everyone did their best grunge rock dance and gave it their all in the “Whooo Hoooo’s”. Great moment to see Blur finally playing the tune that put them on the map in the US, even if it was almost 20 years past its release.

“To The End” followed and you would be hard pressed to find a more appropriate or poignant moment as Damon belted the chorus “It looks like we’ve might have made it!!!” Blur most definitely had made it, and there was more to come.

The encore opened with a ho hum performance of “Stereotypes”. After that it was pedal to the metal. The campy “Boys and Girls” was perfectly situated here as all inhibitions had been tossed aside and everyone was reveling in what was known to be the last couple of songs.

After another great sing along to “For Tomorrow” and the crowd was sure they were getting close to wrapping up the night. From the opening bars of “The Universal” everyone confirmed their fears, this was it. As though the lyrics were written for this moment, Blur and the crowd sang along “It really, really, really could happen!”. After 20 plus years it really, really did happen, Blur played a sold out Madison Square Garden and delivered. One more great line summed up the night for both Blur and the crowd that had been waiting so long to see them at such a great US venue, “Well here’s your lucky day…it really, really could happen”. For Blur and their fans it did happen, finally and it was well worth the wait.

Setlist

Go Out

There’s No Other Way

Lonesome Street

Badhead

End of a Century

Ghost Ship

Coffee & TV

Out of Time

Country Sad Ballad Man

Beetlebum

Thought I Was a Spaceman

Trimm Trabb

Tender

Parklife

Song 2

To the End

This Is a Low

Encore

Stereotypes

Girls & Boys

For Tomorrow

The Universal

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Future Islands – Concert Review – 9th September 2015 – Barrowlands, Glasgow

Having missed the Future Islands the last time they’d been in Scotland as I was busy in Newcastle attending the Jamie T gig it’s fair to say that I’d been expectantly waiting for this gig for the best part of a year. After the usual story of a few of my mates being keen to get tickets and then procrastinating just about long enough for them to sell out, it was just me and Ala who ended up braving it through to Glasgow from Edinburgh
After a sweet meal at Nippon Kitchen we arrived just as the first support act, punk rock act Du Blonde, were closing and they were followed by rock band Dope Body, the lead singer of which stays with Sam Herring in baltimore. He spent most of the show frolicking with his top off (clue’s in the name…) The fun they must have. He had quite a high pitched voice for a rock band, so wasn’t sure how he’d command the songs. Some of their material worked ok and, whilst nonetheless entertaining, the lead singer did seem a little too caught up in in his own aura.

To a crowd in which I felt like I was probably below the median age, they kicked off with a few of their slower songs. A particularly tender version of ‘Back in the Tall Grass’ was followed by ‘Sun in the Morning’ which allowed their charismatic lead singer, Sam Herring, to get his hips gyrating a little bit more to, bringing a smile to the faces of all those present, particularly Ala who was pissing herself laughing beside me. They then turned it up a notch with ‘Long flight’ from their second album “In Evening Air”. It’s quite the contradiction in style given its fast and upbeat nature despite it being a sad song about the protagonist arriving home early from a long tour to find his girlfriend cheating on him. This allowed Sam to throw out the full range of both dance moves and guttural roars. He made sure to cover every available inch of the stage, pausing only occasionally to perch on its edge to serenade the audience in the front row.

I’m hopeful for their new album although their latest release but I must admit ‘The Chase’ is a bit meow chow, with no real hook: a poor man’s ‘Spirit’. I do wonder if there is now a bit of tension between their mainstream success and losing the material inspired by the struggle for success? Maybe the next album will be their ‘hardest way to make an easy living’ complete with lot of rock and roll fame clichés, but I’d much prefer a few songs inspired by moments of tenderness.

Having spent the first half or so of the gig behind two statuesque older guys I was eager to get to an area of the crowd with a bit more energy. So when lighthouse came on I just looked over to Ala (who needed the loo anyway) and said ‘I’ve got to go’ which was met with a nod and that knowing acceptance of what I’m like sometimes at gigs. Lighthouse was the first Future Islands I heard and I still think it’s probably their best, with their performance on this occasion no exception. I had timed the bounce to the front to perfection as they followed that up with Seasons (waiting on you) the song that brought Sam’s dancing to the masses, before finishing their set with their other live bankers, Tin Man and Spirit.

Re-emerging for a four song encore I was ecstatic to hear the keyboard intro to my personal anthem of the year and favourite song, Vireos Eye, from their first album. Another song about a relationship falling apart, and although really nothing like it in style it reminds me a bit of how I felt about the Arcade Fire song Power Out which I’ve always found an incredibly uplifting song despite the lyrics not necessarily conveying that. Regardless with its ‘we’re not kings here’ chorus it’s a great song for a crowd to get behind and the front of the barras duly obliged.

Drums kicked it off a notch in the last few choruses which really got the rest of the crowd going. Someone commented after the gig on Twitter that it was nice to hear #realdrums and i do worry with the rise of electronics we’re likely to see a continued decline in the traditional rock and roll group set up. I mean I love Skrillex as much as the next man (hats off to anyone that can make you appreciate a song with Justin Bieber in it) but it does make me think. Do we currently have strong influences from a depth and variety of genres from kids growing up can aspire to? Then again I’m probably just hugely biased towards your drums 2 or 3 guitars and a lead singer set up.

They ended with the almost lullaby ‘Little Dreamer’ to guide their assembled disciples gently into the night.

Sodden, but not in spirit, we followed the herd back to the train station. Ala who’s sister is an opera singer so quite analytical about these sort of things, commented that she didn’t think Sam Herring was ‘a very good singer.’ Affronted and immediately defensive I was ready to go into full-on argument mode but on further reflection it’s hard to argue that he still has what you’d call an extensive vocal range. But that’s not really what he’s about. It’s the engineered, but nonetheless captivating, emotion; channeled from the deep personal memories some their songs clearly have on him. It’s the index finger ran over the top of the thumb, arm raised aloft, eyes transfixed on some point in the distance, a picture of utter conviction. Complete, of course, with occasional guttural roars. It’s being in that moment and doing what feels good. It’s not about desperately trying to cultivate an image. It’s just a man going out there every night making sure he doesn’t leave anything in the locker. And I find that inspiring.

In fact for every ‘this is it’ comment there seems to be another with ‘Future Islands? I don’t get it.’ Does this make me like them even more? Probably.

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Setlist

Give Us the Wind

Back in the Tall Grass

Sun in the Morning

A Dream of You and Me

Walking Through That Door

Long Flight

Balance

Before the Bridge

Doves

The Chase

Haunted By You

A Song for Our Grandfathers

Light House

Seasons (Waiting on You)

Tin Man

Spirit

Encore

Fall from Grace

Inch of Dust

Vireo’s Eye

Little Dreamer

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Top 10 Blur Songs

Blur take the stage for the first time ever tonight at Madison Square Garden and  we could not be more excited. For some reason Blur never really caught on in the US while other Britpop bands like Oasis and Bush did in the 90’s.

For one of the most influential British bands ever, it has always baffled me as to why their popularity never translated here to the US. Although most of their hit songs are relatively unknown to most Yanks, you will be hard pressed not to be familiar with their only hit song in the US, Song 2 which is played at pretty much every sporting event. We’ve all sung along to the “Woooo Hooo’s” of Song 2 at some point in our lives.

While Song 2 gave them recognition in the US, it made them more of a one hit wonder. Fear not, it’s not too late to jump on the Blur bandwagon. If they keep releasing albums like this years Magic Whip, there still might be some chance that the US finally warms and accepts another British rock import as one of their own. Here is a crash course on the Top 10 Blur songs.

10. There’s No Other Way

9. Country House

8. No Distance Left To Run


7. Beetlebum 

6. Parklife

5. End Of A Century

4. Boys and Girls

3. The Universal

2. Song 2

1. Tender

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Idlewild – Concert Review – Paisley Abbey, Scotland – October 16 2015

Listening to Idlewild on shuffle in preparation for their Paisley Abbey gig with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the centrepiece of the town’s Autumn Spree Festival, was a disconcerting experience.

Having paid the band little attention in the past I was forced to play catchup, and found myself being launched dramatically between pastiche pop punk, orchestral Out Of Time/Automatic-era REM, electric folk and straightforward Indie rock.

But when the band are at their best they recall the soulful middle-of-road rock of 80s fellow Scots The Waterboys, Deacon Blue, or Simple Minds.

And so it was here at Paisley Abbey, seat of learning for William Wallace, birth and resting place of kings, home to an incongruous Alien movie gargoyle, and latterly an unlikely rock venue complete with outdoor beer tent. (more…)

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Song of the Week: Slaves “The Hunter”

With good new music being extremely scarce lately, we turn to the Mercury Prize finalists.  Just announced this week, there are a few surprises in the list and one of them thankfully is punk duo Slaves. “The Hunter” is the first track off their nominated album “Are you Satisfied?”   It’s a rip roaring, energetic track, that doesn’t stop pounding in your chest. Just like the album itself.  Congrats guys!