Friday, January 27, 2006

Hard-Fi @ the Middle East - 16 Jan 2006

I saw Hard-Fi as an FNX card free show at the Middle East downstairs on Monday the 16th.

Hard-Fi site Hard-Fi Myspace

Hard-Fi have been constantly playing in my subconscious for about a year. While I was working at the Joslin Diabetes Center, I needed some tunes to get by, and I eventually tuned to the wonderful saviour-of-my-existence: BBC 6 Music (over the internet).

Hard-Fi had just begun their run of solid singles in the UK with "Cash Machine". Its a song I enjoy a lot now. At first I thought it was pretty hokey; like this was an indie band acting as boy band. but there was an earnestness at play. The song is pretty much about how you work for little money and next thing you know, its gone. Simple, and the song includes melodica backing (its like a little keyboard you blow into, sounds like a harmonica).

Then there was another single "Tied Up Too Tight", about how the "cognoscenti don't like us" as they blast out of the suburbs into London. fairly rockin.

What finally hit me was their single "Hard to Beat". Another great pop song that rocks. I find it utterly irresistable. Great beat, great urgency. Its all about how the lead singer fancies this lady and how they'll make a big splash when they're together. "Can you feel it? Rockin the city".

As for the show, they delivered their album "Stars of CCTV" (CCTV for Americans means 'closed-circuit TV', the UK is covered in security cameras recording your drunken actions on the street, making you the "star" of CCTV). As far as musicianship goes, they were tight and pretty close to the record.

The frontman Richard Archer gave the crowd quite a performance himself as a charismatic leader. he held the crowd in full attention with his antics. you could giggle at his melodica bursts, but it was done with such enthusiasm that you had to admit it works.

Also enjoyable was a vigorous dub-rock rendition of the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army". yes, with melodica.

Great performance. Hope to see some more animated British bands soon.

Though now that i said that, i'm sad that i won't actually get to see THE animated british band The Gorillaz, as they will be performing at the Coachella Festival a little after my trip to retrieve the beautiful Carolyn from the clutches of the UK and Spain. Damn Cash Machine.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Seperated By Motorways

ahh... One of my favorite singles to visit my ears for a bit. (oh yah, i'm still doing my year-ender list of what i think is great of the 2005, soon.)

The Long Blondes "Separated By Motorways".

It taught me 2 things.

1. I love and miss Elastica.

2. I have trouble spelling "Separated"

both thoughts bothered the shit out of me. Would I stoop so far as to love a single because it sounds like a marriage between Le Tigre and Elastica?

I'm still working that out unfortunately. I'm learning more about the band, and they are giving me a bit of hope. They are a touch of mid-90's brit-pop for sure. Under the banner that Elastica and Sleeper held up (regardless of the quality of either).

The Elastica is there in force, with the swagger and knowingness of the Kate's vocals. The spare yet highly effective and fast moving rhythm section and housefly guitars buzzin. ahh i love it so.

The Le Tigre-style restless femme-disco-punk sounds (complete with girl-chants!) are I believe an addition of these days we live in. (If there is a group of lesbians without a band imploring girls with thick glasses to get on the dancefloor, then they are behind the times. but i digress, this is a tenth of the single's sound)

um.. or the action sound is just cool. i really hate to get cynical about the post-punk/dance punk sound. its something i awaited for years to be "the" thing. it'll be a while till i need sludge and total trash all the time again.

What they are showing me is that they are an honest band from an honest town (Sheffield, home of Pulp, many awesome 80s synth bands, and post-industrial decay). It just so happens that the singers cooing and knowing voice harkens me back to the days of hearing "connection" and "stutter" on the radio.

Very seductive.

But is it the Devil?

and of course the answer is yes. but that's because music, the internet, left-handed people and vowels are evil.


go to

and have a listen and peek at the video. unfortunately they've made both to start at the same time. a selection of other songs at the top, video for Separated By Motorways in the middle.

and speaking earlier of Pulp and Elastica, this song, like the others seem to be great voyeuristic stories and character sketches in Brit cities and suburbs. drinking and running around all night and girls and boys.

here is perhaps their mission statement that perhaps confirms that view from their site (perhaps):

" There are things you won’t forget:
4711 at the nape of the neck
swallow tattoos and cameo brooches
applying eyes on southbound coaches
piles of unread Sunday papers
cheap guitars and timeless vocals

Suburban pop and the politics of love?

There’s more where that came from, you know."

Consider me swooning.


I'm Torn Into Pieces, Can't Deny It, Can't Pretend

Rocked Like A Hurricane

Sorry spider-fans, I've been addled by a brain freeze. but no more.

Over the past few weeks, there's been the usual holiday rush, cold, unseasonable warmth, sadness because Carolyn has left for study abroad, a total music burnout from me burning cds of the classics for her with hand-picked bonus tracks and filling a book with them, and then... i just go blank.

but to help fill in that blank, i had a series of visitors: Elliott, Kelly and Robin. All seperate.

Here's a short story of Kelly. She was having some mama-drama during the visit. Not literally of course. So i decided to cheer her up with a little help from another Kelly who made us laugh, cry and yell back in our Forest Hills days:

And of course, it worked. But as time drew on, when Kelly would awake in the morning and be confronted with "Here I Am" it reminded her of something else... Something sinister...

So I had to oblige:

Happy New Year, Western World.