Ra Ra Riot - Live at The Trocadero Theatre - Philly Oct 2, 2009

Ra Ra Riot has been an elusive band for me...I had my chance to listen to them at this year's All Points West, but the idea of moving an inch from Fleet Foxes' show was simply non-existent. However, deep inside the hope to see this Syracuse, NY band live has remained there since.

Oddly enough, another chance seems to pass in front of me again. The band will be playing at The Trocadero Theatre this weekend (Oct 2), which to my own disappointment corresponds to my upcoming trip to Mexico City. I should say "no regrets" and I mean it, but the thought of missing a great concert is still hard to swallow. I hope I have a third chance soon.

It is not a secret that I like string sections in a band, and Ra Ra Riot's Alexandra Lawn (cello) and Rebeca Zeller (violin) bring the band's sound to a different level. They are powerful sources that give the extra punch to the refined lyrics coming out from vocalist Wes Miles.

This is by all means a happy and joyful band. One that puts you to dance and reminds you that all is fun, all is cheer, all is good. However, listening to their music, it is hard to imagine that their 2008 full-length debut, The Rhumb Line, follows a terrible tragedy, the loss of their original drummer John Pike in 2007. John was a major contributor to the band and has songwriting credits on half the tracks. All that joy and fervor infused in their songs leaves a bittersweet taste when you know the story, but at the same time, it provides a completely different, more respectful perspective to the band, their music and the well-deserved success most likely awaiting for them in the near future.

Besides, I could stare at that cellist for hours...=)




Their session in La Blogotheque-Les concerts a emporter.

Their 2008 session in Daytrotter

A vid from their The Rhumb Line Series.

And their vid from Letterman, almost a year ago.


The Swell Season - new album

For everyone that enjoyed the magnificent 2007 soundtrack of the film ONCE (academy award winner), here is a long clip from NPR's Tiny Desk Concert Series of Irish musician Glen Hansard and Czech singer and pianist Markéta Irglová, which from time to time referred themselves as The Swell Season.

Ironically, Hansard included a song with the same name in his 2006 album, apparently inspired by Škvorecký novel. Their new album entitled "Strict Joy" is certainly beautiful and follows the textures we heard on the Once soundtrack. As expected, their music touches in a very delicate manner the borders between love, pain, disappointment, friendship and happiness, combining extremely deep lyrics with powerful sounds, making use of Markéta's delicate and precious voice along with raging laments from Hansard.

A romantic album...and a very good one.



Fanfarlo, Live at Kung Fu Necktie – Philly Sep 20, 2009

Much has been said about the resemblance of Fanfarlo’s music to that of Arcade Fire and Beirut (See La Blogotheque’s article entitled “Plagiarlo”). In spite of the greatness of their first album Reservoir, (Tarquin Studios, released Feb 2009), produced by Peter Katis (producer of The National and Interpol among others), I for one certainly remained cautious about the expectations placed on this new British band, whose music resembled almost a Lego construct of Funeral and The Flying Club Cup.

That changed on Sunday (Sep 20, 2009), when I had the pleasure of seeing them live at the Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia, a small and very intimate though cool bar (<50 people guess) at Fishtown’s side of Philadelphia.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that Fanfarlo’s music and their performance are facilitated by the use of textures and elements similar to those introduced by Arcade Fire. However, seeing them live, you came to realize that they do it in their own way, and although they also rely on the amazingly diverse musical ability of their members, they show new paths and bring more than a point to their music. You walk away from their show convinced that they are for real. And yes, their music makes you feel somehow just like you did when you first heard Tunnels or No Cars Go, but at the same time the feeling is unique, it’s fresh and all although familiar sounds new.

Fanfarlo’s music is efficient on delivering a message, one that does not belong to them or to Arcade Fire, or Beirut for that matter. A message that reminds you why you listen, and sometimes frantically search for new music, one that says “I am young” or at least, one that reminds you the reasons why you would like it to remain like that forever.

Listening to the horns, strings and percussions embedded in Fanfarlo’s music makes you believe that this could be somehow feasible, even when they sing “Out there somewhere is the Finish Line”.


Fanfarlo's last week show at KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic - Sep 17, 2009


The Virgins, something to consider at ACL

For those going to AUSTIN CITY LIMITS in search of an unpretentious fun time, I highly recommend showing up at The Virgins show on October 3. They will play at 12:30 pm and it could be a fun way of kicking off a long day...

Their music is certainly intriguing, oddly out of era that makes you believe they are in fact a band from the 80's...anyone that was born in the 70's would understand what I am saying after a couple of tunes from The Virgins...

In any case, I saw this band in Philly last year during their US tour along with The Black Kids, and lately they have been included in the newest Black Cab Sessions series recently started in the streets of New York City...This band, whose members are also from NYC, was created by his frontman Donald Cumming with the sole purpose of playing at friend's parties. Their music reveals exactly that and their self-titled album, which I decided to include in my 2008 favorites, is certainly one that would make you dance and smile...even to those who still remain in the situation described by this band's name...=)

Here a fun video-clip from "Teen Lovers"

Here's a link to their 2008 live show at KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic

And a link to their Black Cab Sessions clip




Happy Birthday MM!!!

Happy birthday to my brother, best-friend, musical soulmate.
Saludos y buenos deseos de la pandilla mexicana. Disfruta tu Half-Marathon y la oportunidad de ver a Fanfarlo por duplicado. Te dejo este par de videos de la misma canción, mi favorita, esperando poder compartir contigo muy pronto el placer de ver a Fanfarlo Live... Love you bro.


Video - The Antlers in Concert at NPR

There is not much left to add to the beautiful and precise description of the previous post from Amarillo. "Hospice" from The Antlers is without a doubt a masterpiece, one of those rare gems difficult to find and certainly difficult to forget. It would certainly be on my top picks for the year and I truly thank Amarillo for pointing us in this direction.

This album is one of the most heart-breaking and moving set of songs I've ever heard. Its music and lyrics provide exactly the environment chosen by the band, transporting you directly to Peter Silberman's apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he wrote all these songs ovr the course of 2 years as a way to cope with the illness and eventual death of someone he loved.

I do not understand how Silberman is able to deliver these songs live, I would not have the courage and strength needed to make it through the entire concert. But, I guess that is where the lines are drawn and The Antlers do it, and they do it in a beautiful way.

Here is a video from NPR (also brought to my attention by Amarillo) of part of their show on March 11 at the Black Cat in Washington, D.C.