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Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Meaning of Life According to Ben Gibbard

While crawling across the webscape doing some research for some upcoming reviews, I happened to stumble upon this 2008 essay written by Death Cab's frontman Ben Gibbard. It comes in three parts and touches on some really relevant topics about music, relationships, criticism, idols, perpetual unhappiness, writing songs and people that aren't necessarily interesting-- just because they are in to interesting things. Check it out at the jump below and let me know what you think. I especially want to hear reactions to one of his final points, "I would rather make great records than make great relationships". Check out the essay at the jump.

The Meaning of Life: Ben Gibbard

Photo of Ben Gibbard taken from and submitted by Jeremy M. Farmer.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Deerhunter, "Helicopter".

Is anyone else excited for Deerhunter's upcoming release Haclyon Digest? It has already generated some heavy buzz in the blogosphere with their guerilla marketing campaign in support of their first single "Revival" and their recent pairing with Ben Allen who helped mix the record. Allen might have influenced a 2009 record you might be familiar with, Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavillion. Needless to say, we can afford to get a little excited.

Follow the jump below to an official video for Haclyon Digest's track "Helicopter".


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lolla Sunday.

With classes starting again, moving into a new house, hosting an Italian and adjusting to the general vibe of my college town once again, it has been hard to keep up here. My apologies :).

I'm going to skip the heavy detailed recap that I gave of Saturday and Sunday settling instead for a basic recap. More and different themed posts are on they way shortly.

My day started off a little late and I had to rush to catch the last bit of the Antlers too early 12 am set. I was emotionally overpowered by their last "Wake", and the rain that accompanied it was a perfect match.

They played late and the Dodos started right on time at the stage opposite. This was the first time all weekend I heard two bands play opposite each other at the same time.

There were a lot of bands I wanted to see that day, but I made a decision to put all of my efforts into getting front row for the Arcade Fire, Sunday night's co-closers with Soundgarden. This is what I sacrificed... The Cribs, Minus the Bear, Company of Theives, Erykah Badu, Wolfmother, Soungarden.. and... The National. Cardinal sin? Maybe, but the payoff was great.

So during the Dodo's I started to prepare myself, I ate, pissed, filled up my water bottles, chugged them, pissed, filled up my water bottles, pissed again and then stuck myself in the crowd already building in front of the Budweiser stage.

It wasn't such a bad draw. Blitzen Trapper played at 2 and with them came the sunshine. It was fitting. The southern-tinged Portland based sextet impressed with solid genre-hopping songs, one after another.

4 o'clock rolled around, and I pushed further into the crowd for Yeasayer. I would have rather experienced them in a smaller, darker venue, but I had seen them before and knew what to expect. Yeasayer are an art-pop group from Brooklyn that play tribal sounding music with three part harmonies that other groups can't seem to nail. They hide pop music in worldly sounds that are at the same times accessible to the masses but interesting enough to enthrall the hipster kids. Their latest album and 2010 release has its share of gems but I had been unaware of how popular they had gotten. When I saw a girl near tears during an especially funky rendition of second single from Odd Blood "O.N.E.", I had to reconsider nearly everything I thought about the band. Despite their new found popularity, half of the way overpopulated crowd, without question, was squatting for MGMT. Whether they knew why the crowd was so big or not Yeasayer brought their best, ran through their gems (which are hits now, kind of?), and left the crowd wanting more.

I really like MGMT. I still like "Electric Feel", "Time to Pretend" and "Kids", despite the near exhaustion the three tracks have received on every bro's car stereo throughout the world. Contrary to some, I also dig the back half, the weird tracks. I think they play really interesting music that has rare staying value. Their 2010 record Congratulations, although not making the cut onto my top 10 of the first 3/4 of the year, is a great record, front to back. I caught MGMT the Summer before at Bonnaroo and was a little disappointed. I still can't decide if it was from the performance or from the general unpleasantness of the fans. I am okay with rowdy crowds but fans that like MGMT-- really really like MGMT. At Lolla 2010 MGMT put on a great show, mixing the setlist perfectly for fans like me and bros alike. I actually got to give Ben Goldwasser a high five during "Kids". I wasn't unhappy, but upon reflection, I really just hate MGMT fans.

The gap between me hearing the last chords fade out of MGMT's 2010 album closer and title song "Congratulations" and hearing the Arcade Fire open with "Ready to Start" was filled mostly with sobs as a good portion of the crowd turned around and strained their ears to hear a bit of the National's set.

I had fought through MGMT bro's, dehydration, discomfort among other unpleasant sensations for my one hand on the fence -almost- front row spot, and I wouldn't trade anything for what I saw.

The Arcade Fire are a live band. Their grand statements ring most powerfully when their stage presence can be seen and felt. Every song revealed the band jumping from instrument to instrument, all members emotionally invested in every song they played, never cutting corners, always shooting for the stars. But maybe that is what makes Arcade Fire such a popular band and one the masses aren't afraid to get behind. I got goosebumps more than one time when I found myself lost and screaming with everyone else along to all of the "Neighborhood" numbers and found myself pleasantly surprised how many people knew the words to their new record The Suburbs that was released just days before.

The band that makes invincible songs looked anything but invincible on stage, showing humility even in their most epic moments. When frontman Win Butler addressed the crowd directly explaining how scary it is to face a crowd this size playing new numbers for the first time it showed exactly why Arcade Fire are where they are today. They are a now a mainstream rock band but they come equipped with sincerity and tact absent from most other "maintstream" acts. Moreover, they instill a sense of hope in the listener, even if it is temporary. Live music for me has always been moving, but this had to be one of the most moving shows I have seen. I was so sure walking away from the show that the world was going to change for the better, just like they told me on stage. But the hope was fleeting, my pessimism sat in once again looking at the trash on the ground and feeling the rude people all around me. My largely varied emotions stabilized as the crowd in unison performed a second encore for the band, again singing their Wooooooooahhhhh.. woaaahhhhhhhh wordless chorus from hit "Wake Up" as they all in turn marched to their respective Chicago suburb.

Photo of Win Butler of the Arcade Fire was taken on Aug. 8th 2010 and borrowed by me from MaxBlau from Thank you very much.