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Posts Tagged ‘music

Four Tet – “And they all look broken hearted”

A mellow sequence is interrupted
by light strikes upon the drum kit.
My mind is popping in a wild blue convulsion,
and the drums invigorate my inner child,
climaxing in a solo of thirds and cymbals.

Quiet, in the midst of a storm,
lightning meditates in the ethereal,
flowing forever in an echoing trance.

Written by Zucker

June 19, 2011 at 10:20 PM

Posted in Arts, Poetry

Tagged with , , , ,

Hooray for Earth – “True Loves” Album Premiere

Hooray For Earth - True Loves

Today, SPIN Magazine opened the floodgates for avid fans of Hooray For Earth (HFE) by streaming their entire upcoming album “True Loves” online. I wasted no time in listening to it here. I urge to do the same, before this offer disappears. The album goes public on June 7th.

For everyone who got here late, HFE is a guitar band originally from Boston. They now operate in New York, and have since then exploded. Their heavy-hitting presence from years ago (i.e their EP “Momo”) has not changed. If anything, they have complimented that energy with music that makes people feel alive. The vocals resonate on almost every track, as if welcoming listeners to sing along. Check out songs like “Last Minute” and “True Loves” to get a feel for what I mean.

There are layers to their music that simply never existed before. They’ve been exploring the boundaries of guitar rock with electronic enthusiasm, and their hard work has paid off. I sense a very strong and positive reaction to their new release from Dovecote Records. Check out their music video for “True Loves” below. It aptly demonstrates the caliber of their work.

Written by Zucker

June 2, 2011 at 4:52 PM

Travel Notes – Le Poisson Rouge, NYC

Rubblebucket, Millionyoung, and Com Truise @ Le Poisson Rouge
Greenwich Village, NY
Red Fish IPA

New York City is a ready-made home for music lovers looking to experience something new. Their scene is so eclectic, and yet it gives every band and artist a place to peacock. Greenwich Village is one of those places, a hotspot for music, and it’s there my notes began.

My bus from Boston dropped me off in the heart of Chinatown, and I waited, leaning on a newspaper kiosk at the corner of Canal and Bowery, scanning the countless passing faces for my friend, Lapre, to meet me after work. He, like me, wouldn’t pass up a show like this.

Le Poisson Rouge (The Red Fish) is a great venue. It looks like a nightclub, and its basement feels like a trendy jazz club. The tables were cleared out for standing room only, and yet, having arrived there when the doors opened, we dropped our gear at a standing bar table near the VIP lounge, and began to marinade on Red Fish IPA and colorful lights blanketing a slowly-growing audience.

The show started for Com Truise, and the club was quarter full. I could tell right off (but was surprised) that he was the opening act. I’m familiar with his work, and recognize it as the night begins. He breaks into something new that flows with his style of heavy percussion and synth waves. This is future electronic music. He improvises on the machines, even though it is an orchestrated piece. Lapre compares it to a modem and a drum, and I laugh.

He grooves to his own music as he plays on stage, and on occasion he looks back at the wall, covered with visualizations. A song plays with reverberating alarms, and dissipates to a rolling thunder of applause. A set of hieroglyphs flash on the massive screen, and I try to grasp what they mean. A sun rises over a polygon mountain. A pair of Italian women talk under the music at a table in front of us, smiling and laughing with big Italian smiles.

I’ve heard this one before. He is in his groove now, and more people have filled the club. A couple people dance by themselves as the heavy song and vibrant visuals coat us listeners in an odd, electronic fog. I seldom consider how prepared these guys are, especially when they run into something at 150BPM and they tap-tap-tap away on music machines, turning knobs and blending track after track. He made it look easy.

A quick intermission allowed me to meet Com Truise after the show and simply thank him for the great show. He was chatting with a couple that met him before I did, so there was an awkward standby moment in front of them as I waited for my chance to interrupt. “Hey man, great show, I’m glad I came out for it.” He was happy to hear it, thanked me, and we shook hands before I made my way back into the club. The next act, Millionyoung, was setting up, and it was only 10pm. I ordered another Red Fish IPA.

Photo Credit - Jessica Lehrman - on The Jealous Lover

Millionyoung was a discovery that resonated with me ever after. They explode from the start in bursts of electro indie flavors comparable to Animal Collective. They open with a track that reverbs harmonic vocals and melodic, beat-infused guitar rock. There is an atmospheric quality in the results, something apt for beach-side parties. They certainly know how to get a crowd moving and cheering. There is energy brewing in their music, and it bubbles over in vocals sweetened by reverberating delays. They use it well, and my head bangs.

If Cut Copy heard this last song, they’d probably go along with the groove. Their sequences of synth, pop, and rock highlight an ambient quality in their vocals. A lady sits alone between us and the Italians, drinking a glass of Vodka neat, and she bobs her head to the beat. The band comes together in a cavalcade of sounds, and despite the odd delay, the vocals really make it great.

We applauded as they collected their things and left the stage. I found them after the show and talked with them briefly, mentioning I traveled from Boston to see the show. They were flattered, and I gave them my card in case there was a chance to see them play in Boston. I had no idea they were playing the following night at Brighton Music Hall, but it wouldn’t have been the same kind of show. I shook their hands and thanked them for the great show, and made my way back into the club. Another Red Fish IPA, and I sit in wait for the final act of the night.

Photo Credit - Jessica Lehrman - on The Jealous Lover

The club was full as Rubblebucket took to the stage. They completely blew the top off any preconception I had. They explore the space around us with harmonic energy. The horns and natural melody in their music bring everything together in a funky groove. They’re beats are uplifting, juxtaposed against afro-like themes and eye-closing harmonies. The crowd was clapping and jamming along, and so was I. The Italians left their table to join the dancing masses, and the lady alone grooves even harder than before in the barstool in front of us. Someone threw a bra on-stage, and everyone was chanting “Happy Holidays!” between songs. The trumpet player did a stage-dive, and everyone was loving it.

I want to know what this song is; it has a happy groove to it, slow but in step with a confident satisfaction. I smile as the vocals take on a jazzy instrumentation, ushering in a breakdown revival of ska and funk. The singer has a great voice that reminds me of Bjork and Sister Nancy. Her melody inspires a state of jam that feels like it could go on for much longer. Thankfully, I think I found the right track, and posted a video for it below.

The show was over late, and Lapre and I were well-off with our drinks before the night came to a close. He had to get up in a few hours to go to work in Manhattan, and yet that didn’t seem to bother him. In the closing notes of the night, I remember the long train ride home, and the pit stop for munchies, handing over my few remaining dollars to impatient ethic men wearing uniforms and hats.

Sitting at Lapre’s kitchen counter, we ate snails from their shells and chased them with sweets, while sipping Glenmorangie scotch and rehashing the night’s encounters. I told Lapre about my conversations with the artists I talked to, and he helped me conceptualize the sounds we heard in words that made sense – it’s a hard thing to do when you’ve never heard music like this before. I only hope for your sake, you get what I mean.

The “Silent Alarm” by Bloc Party

Bloc Party has been around for years now. And yet, every time I listen to their album “Silent Alarm”, I am reminded of a great experience I had in June 2007. It was Boston’s Best Music Poll, and Bloc Party was headlining. I was working for The Phoenix, the media group that put on the show, and they gave me an all-access pass to document the show. I was free to explore the stage and get close to the action. I had not really listened to their music beforehand, but the show itself was a defining moment for me. Many people would agree; live performances surpass a studio recording in more ways than one. They opened with “Like Eating Grass”, drawing out the introduction for everyone to know, and went on from there, playing “Silent Alarm” song by song. Their sound resonated with me ever after.

Fast-paced guitar rock blended with powerful vocal harmonies to make waves in the ocean of people that flooded the streets. They started playing “Banquet” and I couldn’t help jump along with everyone else. I was there, fifteen feet from the stage, moving around every song to capture pictures of the band in their element. By the time they started “She’s Hearing Voices”, the percussion took on an industrial presence, and everyone began clapping their hands and jumping to the beat. A girl next to me was losing herself in the vibrations of the song, dancing in place with her eyes closed and mouth slightly open.

Listening to their album now, I feel the same vibrations, echoed years after they released it. Their sound has changed since then, incorporating more electronic instrumentation, but they still have that iconic, indie feel. It’s only getting better.

People compare them to The Cure, Joy Division, and The Smiths, all of which fall under a subgenre of English alternative rock. It’s only fair they share the same sound; the British influences have shaped their music in such a unique way. There is so much energy and emotion in the sound and lyrics, almost like a rebellion. A teenage rebellion, which is exactly what I saw on Landsdowne Street that night. I snapped picture after picture of the show, trying to capture a visual piece of the moment. Years later, I can look back at these pictures, while listening to this album, and remember a great experience, one-of-a-kind, not likely to be forgotten.

Written by Zucker

April 13, 2011 at 8:00 AM

a second glance at ATLAS SOUND


I’m listening to Atlas Sound’s album “Bedroom Databank: Volume 2” and leaning recumbent in an office chair. My head falls back as acoustic sounds progress,  (opportunistically) like a snow flurry (on a day filled with love) turning into a beautiful blizzard for hours and hours. It turns electronic.

The energy keeps me happy, seeing stars and moonshine, feeling warm, under a jacket and earmuffs, gloves, hat and scarf. I dust my mind and recognize the blatant indie-rock “-ness” of my situation, and begin to focus like a good Grizzly Bear song on the meaning of it all.

Being inebriated (and alone) is an unusually Zen experience while listening to some of this music; I think freely and do what I want.

On beaches at night, the plaid-wearing hipsters could lay around bonfires enjoying a good conversation, and/or resting before sleep, looking up at the stars, wondering how this music’s still on with only one man  (Bradford Cox) playing all the instruments. I often thought of MGMT, Washed Out, and Panda Bear.

The vocals stood out among all of his instruments, along with the bass guitar; I really liked the sound and style of both. I also really liked “Here Come the Trains” at the end, a great example of what his project is all about. It’s enough to get me looking into his other work. Overall I enjoyed the album very much, and await another production.

I found this song shortly after discovering Atlas Sound, and thought you’d like it. Enjoy!

Written by Zucker

December 27, 2010 at 8:00 AM

AHMAD JAMAL @ Regattabar

Ahmad Jamal @ Regattabar
Cambridge, MA
Sam Adams Lager

His entrance was noble; the last one to show up, sitting down while everyone was clapping, and jumping right into something groovy. The band was on queue and picked up right when he did. The tempo was fast at times, and made me think of the fast city streets.

There were moments of release that charged the audience and got us moving in our seats. At other times, things were slower, orchestrated to perfection. There were great solos from all the players, full of improvisation and personality. Manolo Badrena was a creative delight on the percussions. Idris Muhammad was sharp and strong on drums, and James Cammack kept the rhythm and foundation on standing bass.

Ahmad Jamal took the melody and harmony to incredible levels. It was my first impression of him as a musician, and I had no idea he was a major influence on jazz in the 1950s and 1960s. Elements of swing swept the beat from song to song, not wasting a second too long for applause and cheer. My leg kept tapping to the beat underneath the cocktail table, almost spilling my Sam Adams Lager.

I bought his most recent album after the show, and I noticed he was signing autographs after the show. I was the last in line to see him. I told him it was the first time I ever heard his music, and this show made me a fan. He was pleased to hear it, signed the album cover I handed to him, and wished me well as I left. I left him there, knowing he would sit there silently before returning to the stage for a second show. He’s still got it.

Written by Zucker

December 14, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Combination Reasoning

Combination reasoning
Halloween 2010

It was the Halloween party, 2010, out in Somerville, deep in the residential area, among the houses rich enough to build, but too expensive to own. It was fun; the house was a notorious four-bedroom, three-floor brownout that held parties year after year, a tribute of the press company my roommate worked for, exploding into 300+ visitors.

I was a coked-out investment banker in my blue Saks pinstripe, black portfolio pants, Aldo dress shoes and old red tie; a blotch of white face paint covered my nose, and I was considered one of the more original costume ideas of the night. Honest, except for the hot women and men who were too proud to say anything, everyone I introduced myself to was impressed. I was too, on the inside, at all the characters I half-knew amidst the beer and booze.

But I left – combination reasoning. Shit grew weird after the 6th drink, when I ran into some butchers who called themselves “ninja turtles.” It was intolerable; the three of the four I met (Raphael, Donatello, and Leonardo) wore green clothing underneath white smocks with “blood” spattered across them. Different colors, yet they all looked like green Jackson Pollock’s.

Apparently I offended one of them with my costume. I told Donatello what my costume was, and he began to question my intentions. “Why would he be coked-out?” I was caught off-guard, kind of like an awkward come-back from a would-be girl you’re hitting on. I had to defend my intentions, and it gained the interest of more than just the turtles. Raphael was more offended than Donatello. His father was an investment accountant.

The beer and booze did little to solve the problem. Raphael began to ask me who I was, who I came with (to the party), and really made a scene around the ten-odd people in the foyer. I was humiliated at the hands of a bastard ninja turtle; there was no social comeback.

I decided to leave. The keg was finished and I rounded up the remaining booze in a blue solo cup. Believe me when I tell you, the party is over when the booze is all gone. Luckily for me, I spent my last minutes there drinking a combination of Yellow Tail and Jim Bean, provided by a girl dressed like a clown, but claimed she was Elton John. She looked funny, and I thanked her for the help before running into a Frenchman and his companion with a proposition.

“Hey, do you want to smoke some pot?” I was easily swayed, and I quickly forgot about the party inside. The smell of marijuana didn’t seem to bother other people, despite it countering my inebriated self the same way sugar does with coffee. I was in a good place, even after the negative episode minutes earlier, feet away.

I left when I saw the ninja turtles hovering around the front entrance. I didn’t want to cross paths with them again. My roommate would find his own way home; he’s the type to milk a moment until it’s dry, and being only 2am, I knew he would continue his escapades for a while longer. I said my goodbyes to the Frenchman and friend, Gretel and Charlie Brown, along with Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield, Red Riding Hood, Dobby the House Elf, and that dancing banana from that hit “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” by the Buckwheat Boyz.

There were so many others I remember, but I knew there was no opportunity worth trying for to get past the obstinate (and obdurate) ninja turtles. Before heading down the gravel path, I saw them talk and point and stare directly at me, bringing Michelangelo into the mix, making my odds of physical conquest four-times more difficult. I cut my losses and left. It wasn’t worth it.

I had my iPod shuffle. It was somewhere in the middle of a track mix my brother gave me from New York, so I couldn’t tell you what I was listening to. I wasn’t sure where I was going, either, but I was blessed with five seconds to ask a passing cyclist where Highland was. He pointed in the right direction, the general area which led me towards another house party.

Now imagine this scene – you’re out of your mind and in a personal zone, and all of a sudden a character you know and revere is standing outside with a monk and a tennis player smoking a cigarette. Patrick Bateman, the lead character from “American Psycho,” was wearing a poncho over a business suit, just as he did before killing Paul Allen with an ax.

I play off that angle when we first met. I simply asked where Highland was from here, and then asked if I could use his bathroom. “Yeah, go for it. You seem like a nice guy,” he said, and I casually entered the scene. The place was amazing, definitely more expensive than my place on Grand View. He had a bigger foyer with dark brown tiling and windows overlooking the street, and steps leading up into the apartment rather than a hallway turn-around like mine.

The party was still in effect; club girls in skimpy outfits were talking to each other near a billiards table that nobody was using, dudes in cop outfits and spiked Jersey do’s were taking shots of Petron, and a couple or two were making out in distant corners of the lavish apartment. I wandered around, looking for the bathroom, kind of like a fool who didn’t know where he was. The bathroom was in a weird location, and there was a line, but a cop who knew I wasn’t a part of the crowd saw through me and let me jump in line. Nice guy. I enjoyed the relief and thanked him as I left.

I walked back outside just as quickly as I entered. “Thanks Bateman,” I said to the host as he talked to the monk. “No problem,” he said, as if he didn’t notice the name I called him. I told him flat out, “you know, you look just like…” and he flipped out, in a good way. “You know, you’re the first person all night to get my costume. Why don’t you come in and have a drink…”

All the random people who saw me quickly come and go were surprised to see me return with the owner’s arm around my shoulder in smiles and praise. It was a different turn, and I took it. I became one of the dudes taking shots of Petron. I opted for a round of pool with the owner. “You know, it’s been ages since I played this game.” I don’t remember if he or I said that.

I remember we shared quotes and scenes from American Psycho, and the girls with hard bodies revolved around us because we looked like we knew what we were doing. I caught the eye of some blonde who was talking to her friend; they were among the few sitting by the entrance when I first arrived. When the game ended, I shook hands with the owner and thanked him for his hospitality. “Hey man, thank you,” almost competitively gracious; explains the multi-hundred dollar getup he was rocking.

I had to excuse myself, not because it was late, but because I wanted to meet the blonde outside before I left.

“Hey,” she said, “who are you?”

“I’m Alex.” She meant what my costume was, confused by the blotch of white paint on my nose. I told her, and she said “oh, that’s funny.” She didn’t laugh, but smiled. Her teeth were whiter than my face paint. I got her number but didn’t get her name.

I stumbled home the remaining half-mile to the sound of Cate Brothers “Give It All to You.” I still got home before my roommate. 4:30am or so, and he strolls in with some girl he met at the party. She wasn’t fabulous, certainly a couple notches below the blonde I met, but still fun. He brought home a brown paper bag full of beers, and he and I drank more as the girl began to have second thoughts. Within minutes, they left again; he drove her home as I sat in my Eames chair, drafting the first part of this story. At 5:10am, he returned with a smug look on his face. “Man, I did that girl a favor.” I could care less if he got laid that night.

We talked about my shenanigans at the press party, and laughed about the chance encounter with Patrick Bateman and his lavish house apartment over stale pizza and beer. It was near 6am when I went to bed, and my dark empty sleep was interrupted a few hours later when my parents texted me to meet them in Copley for brunch.

Written by Zucker

November 3, 2010 at 10:30 PM


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