SXSW Song of the Day: He’s My brother She’s My Sister – Can’t See The Stars

Posted on by Ricky in Song of the Day | 1 Comment

He’s My Brother She’s My Sister are an LA band whose bluesy-folk laid back sound makes it sound like they’re from the Midwest. If you are wondering about the band’s name, it is because the lead vocalists are a brother/sister duo. I’ve always wondered about brother/sister dynamics in the band. Are they under the ‘whatever happens on the road, stays on the road’ rule? What if little sister picks up a heroin habit and sleeps around with random AR people on the tour? Is bigger brother cool with that, or is that a phone call to mom? Similarly, what if big brother starts fancying high end prostitutes and betting on dog fights during the tour? What does little sister do?

These things can destroy bands. Luckily, He’s My Brother/She’s My Sister aren’t nearly popular enough to pick up high end prostitutes just yet, so they can concentrate on things like making good music. One of the places they’ll be at to promote their craft is Austin, Texas. They’ll be at SXSW and based on a few of these tracks, I am tempted to check them out.

Song of the Day: Clock Opera – Once and For All

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Clock Opera

I played this track for my friend Jess (of Roundletters / Static Zine ) and she said it was my type of song. I was like, “what’s my type of song” to which she shrugged (online). So I started thinking..what is my type of song? Well, taking a look at this single from English act Clock Opera, I guess it would feature the following

– glorious cathartic rousing choruses
– uplifting synth lines
– tracks with anthem potential
– great vocal work

because this track by Clock Opera features all those. I think their debut album is coming out soon, and they are also going to be at SXSW. They’re gonna be good, check this out.

Best of 2011: Top 5 Shows I Saw But Didn’t Bother Writing About At The Time

Posted on by Paul in Concerts, Year End Reviews | Leave a comment

Much of my 2011 was dedicated to travelling to various locations around the world and seeing as much music as I could.  As a result, I saw a lot of music, and tried to write about as much of it as possible, but of course a number of great shows fell through the cracks for various reasons – laziness, distraction, or simply not knowing what to say at the time.  The end of the year is a perfect time to revisit some of the “ones that got away.”  Now their stories can be told …

Hazel Dickens, March 16, Driskill Room, Austin, TX

Hazel Dickens was one of the performers I was most looking forward to seeing at SXSW simply because I figured it would be my only chance to catch the pioneering bluegrass legend in concert.  This ended up being truer than I’d thought as Dickens passed away just a little over a month after this show, which I believe was her final performance.  While looking a bit frail and older than her 75 years, her voice was still ridiculously powerful and resonant.  I’m definitely glad I got to see this.

Yoko Ono, March 19, Elysium, Austin, TX

Yeah, she’s weird.  Yeah, she can get noisy and the potential for pretentiousness is high.  But here’s the thing: that’s kind of what made this such a great show.  That, and a top notch crew of musicians assembld for her new Plastic Ono Band that included her son Sean (looking a bit goofy in top hat and goatee), Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, Mr. Bungle’s Trevor Dunn, and Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto fame.  With a group that like backing you up, you can get as out there as you want and it’s still going to sound fantastic.  On top of all that, tUnE-yArDs opened things up with a cover of one of Ono’s songs that sounded pretty good as well.

Swans, May 28, Primavera Sound, Barcelona

Epic, noisy, and a little bit scary, Michael Gira and Co. also bring a strange kind of beauty to their sound as well.  Still don’t have that much to say about this set (to quote the title of the song they opened with, I have “No Words/No Thoughts”) but I felt this show was worth mentioning at the very least.

Tindersticks, June 23, BOZAR, Brussels

Performing as part of the Brussels Film Festival, British band Tindersticks put on a special show made up entirely of the music they’ve composed for the films of French filmmaker Claire Denis.  As they band played a bunch of pieces I was unfamiliar with against a backdrop of scenes from a number of Denis’ films, none of which I has seen or ever really heard of before, I was totally drawn in.  Not only by the music, but by the images, which I attempted in my mind to combine into one weird continuous narrative.  The show got me interested in looking deeper into Denis’ works, but on the other hand, I’m not sure if the fake story I made up in my head isn’t better. 

Mercury Rev, May 29, Primavera Sound, Barcelona 

While Ricky will tell you that Pulp’s set at Primavera Sound was hands down the best show he’s seen in his life, for me, it wasn’t even the best set I saw in Barcelona.  Don’t get me wrong, Pulp was fantastic, but for me, this show was much more compelling.  Sure, I was only going on a couple hours sleep from the night before and has just spent an inordiante amount of time waiting to buy a train ticket that afternoon, but after one last trip to the beach and a stroll through the streets of Barcelona taking in the post-Champions League win reverie, i was ready to tackle the Catskills band’s festival closing set at Poble Espanyol.  And what a show it was.  The band sounded amazing and frontman Jonathan Donahue was a sight to behold onstage, progressively getting more drunk on a bottle of wine throughout the set and making pretty much every second of the set a photo op with his dramatic, grandiose gestures.  It’s a shame my camera’s batteries went dead right before I arrived.

So there you have it. 2011 was a pretty good year for live music. 2012, you’ve got a lot to live up to. Don’t let me down.

Concert Review: Animals As Leaders, December 7, The Phoenix

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment

Toronto – Animals As Leaders are one of those bands whose name I had seen, but I had never really paid them any mind.  That changed this past March when I happened to randomly stumble upon a show by bandleader Tosin Abasi’s other band T.R.A.M. at SXSW.  They played an intriguing mix of metal and jazz fusion that even featured a flute on one tune.  I enjoyed their set, but didn’t write about it at the time, mostly because I wasn’t really sure what to make of it.  After that show, I was curious to see what Abasi’s main band was all about.  And they were also pretty impressive – Abasi can shred, that’s for sure.   

Bands on the heavier end of the spectrum generally tend to inspire two kinds of fans – those that go totally crazy with the moshing, stagediving, and other such behaviour and those who stand there with their arms folded watching the band intently and perhaps noding approvingly.  With Abasi’s virtuosity and status as something of a guitar hero (sample t-shirt at the merch table: a Shepard Fairey-esque pic of Abasi with the caption “Tobama”), I’d expected more of the latter, but was surprised to see that this crowd was the former, and very much so.  There was lots of cheering, moshing, stagediving, and even impromptu bursts of handclapping.  The band seemed pretty surprised at this too.  Totally stoked, but surprised.  I get the feeling they don’t always see crowds quite that enthusiastic and they were totally digging it.  Keep in mind the fact that these guys were one of the opening acts on the bill too.  You don’t generally see that level of energy for the openers.  As the band ended their set, the drummer sprung up from behind his kit and launched himself into the crowd.  When the crowd actually inspires the band to crowdsurf, you know it’s a good show.