Review: Alt-J w/ Wildcat! Wildcat! @ Bootleg Theater, Los Angeles 9/29/12

The Bootleg was bumping on Saturday night for Alt-J (∆) with Wildcat! Wildcat! providing support. Mercury-nominated Alt-J, which hails from Cambridge, England, were back in LA for the third time in five months to celebrate the North American release of their fantastic, mind-expanding (insert superlative here) LP, An Awesome Wave. While openers for the evening, Wildcat! Wildcat! who finished their August residency at the Echo to much acclaim, have been on the b3sci radar for some time now. The two groups combined to produce one of the most satisfying nights of music of the year.
Wildcat! Wildcat! (duplicate names have replaced the animal + noun setup) burst onto the scene earlier this year with “Mr. Quiche”, a feel-good indie-electro-cool with a mesmerizing key + falsetto combo. Follow-ups “The Chief” and “End Of The World Everyday” adhere to the same equation for success with impressive results. Although only a band for a year, the members have played together for considerably longer, a discernible reality from the first note forward. They know exactly how they want to sound. Their level of professionalism did not go unnoticed, as they controlled the dynamics of the set throughout, engaging the audience with showmanship that wasn’t showy. A fair number of attendees had seen Wildcat! before, cheering for the intros to songs which haven’t made their way online and are presumably waiting in the vault for the debut full-length, and the devotees’ excitement permeated throughout the rest of the crowd. This is a group which is ready and waiting to be discovered on the national level. The to-be-released album is already one of my most anticipated for 2013.

Wilcat! Wildcat! california (Official)

(Review Continued)

It’s so refreshing to hear new rock music that takes the consciousness of its audience seriously. If there’s one word that pops when I think of Alt-J, it’s “intelligent” (closely followed by “metaphysical”). The band is mathy right down to the name Alt-J (∆), the symbol used to denote change and determine a derivative in calculus. And just like with calculus, they make music which can reveal something new each time.

Alt-J began their set with the first three songs off An Awesome Wave: “Intro”, “(The Ripe & Ruin)”, an a-capella cut with lyrics both Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas could be proud of, and “Tesselate”, a hazy, stoner jam about a break-up, hook-up or threesome. Once the house’ vocal mix adjusts, they sound perfect as they hit their stride (and ripple the Bootleg’s billowing floor). Next is “Something Good”, with my fav lyric off the album: “Forty-eight thousand seats, bleats / and roars for my memory of you”, truly arena rock in an English country basket. From there they go into “Ms.”, followed by “Fitzpleasure”, recently featured on the USA TV show, Suits. When they played the “(Guitar)” interlude after “Matilda”, members of the audience were hushing those around them to hear Joe Newman’s solo in detail. Each of the members display their own personal signature, from drummer Thom Green’s lack of hi-hats to Gwil Sainsbury’s castanets and Gus Unger-Hamilton’s pervasive keyboard loops. 

I was impressed by Alt-J when I saw them at Bardot in May; I was blown away by Saturday’s performance. They’ve made my Mercury uber-short list of two (along with LLH). And whether or not they win the coveted award, the future for Alt-J is extremely promising, for the band possesses great wisdom. As they advise: “Like all good fruit, the balance of life is in the ripe and ruin.”  Review written by Chris Gedos

Alt-J (Official)

Bootleg Theater california (Official)

RATING: 9.39

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The Joy Formidable – Anemone


In a few weeks Joy Formidable will drop an EP follow up to their hotly tipped debut The Big Roar. Previewed below is the building, dare we say “epic”, track for “Anemone”. Into it.

The Joy Formidable – Anemone

The Joy Formidable wales (Official) (Facebook)

Rating 8.5


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SXSW Monday Night Wrap 03/14/11: Big Boi, The Sounds, Locksley


Interactive/Film SXSW 2011 geeks and Austin music enthusiasts alike were treated to a surprise set from 6 time Grammy-award winning recording artist Big Boi, along with Indie darlings The Sounds and Locksley. Pepsi Max and Foursquare made their viral presence at the Seaholm Power Plant set to a roaring crowd of fans whose tickets came from no other than a Facebook scavenger hunt. Such marketing = “welcome to SXSW 2011”.


The free booze were flowing as Madison, Wisconsin’s Locksley took the stage. Ever think of what it would sound like if Weezer rocked with The Kooks? Add slick early American style punk, some jangly-strat with up-beat vibes, and meet Lockley.

Locksley – The Whip


Early aughts indie-pop stars The Sounds took stage next. Brandishing seriously lethal legs, Swedish rock icon Maja Ivarsson leads a band whose sound always seems to (at least partly) encompass nearly every indie rock cliche from the last 15 years. Between smoking cigarettes and frequent spitting of luggies (btw sexy and impressive even by frat party standards), she and the band rolled through their attitude-pop friendly catalogue. New material from their forthcoming Something To Die For sounded promising. The band closed the set with their latest single “Better Off Dead”. Check it out below:

The Sounds – Better Off Dead


Big Boi hit the stage with big energy and the Outkast classic “Rosa Parks”. And that was to be the mode of the set as the classic Outkast shit came fast and furious, “So Fresh So Clean”, “Ms. Jackson”, “Bombs Over Baghdad”. Big Boi brought Vonnegutt onstage to spit his feature from “Follow Us” and the crowd went bananas. To describe the set, the bass was heavy… especially during “Shutterbugg” as was the set’s strong Atlanta/Southern Rap sound that Outkast helped pioneer to the mainstream. For “The Way You Move” Big Boi brought what looked like a hand picked collection of females from the audience to get down with him on stage. Totally entertaining, and definitely helps sum up the good party time vibe of the event.

Big Boi – General Patton



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Top Ten British Rock Albums 1979-1995

Contributed by Chris Gedos

My mind deals in chronologies. By memorizing the dates of artworks and events, I gain a greater understanding of particular historical progressions. I always keep this in mind when listening to music, which band another band was listening to when they were writing a particular song or album, or whether they were listening to a different genre or no music at all, since they didn’t want to get encumbered by another’s expression and run the risk of intellectual plagiarizing. The period of 1979-1996 could loosely be defined as the third era of British Rock Music, with the first encompassing the Beatles and the second going from Elton John through the Sex Pistols. (One man’s opinion. Don’t burn an effigy of me just because I didn’t put Boys Don’t Cry or Disintegration on the list!)

10. Teardrop Explodes — Kiliminjaro (1980)


Front-man Julian Cope used to play with Ian McCulloch of The Bunnymen in Liverpool in the late 70’s, before each of them became leader of their own outfit. One can only imagine, however, Julian Cope as the 5th member of the Bunnymen, sharing lyrical duties with McCulloch and battling for bravado rights. Key tracks include the infectious “Treason”, “Poppies in the Field”, and the final song “When I Sleep”, which was a hit single in England. The CD also includes the Kiliminjaro EP with title track, which is a mystical journey toward the snowy peak of Africa. The song’s only lyrics: “We set sail a year and a day ago, making our way for Kilimanjaro.” The group plays with an hysteric tightness rarely seen even in the Post-Punk realm.

9. The Wedding Present — Seamonsters (1991)


The Wedding Present, a favorite band of the late British DJ John Peel, is the product of David Gedge. What he lacks in vocal range he more than compensates for in lyrical mastery. Seamonsters contains some of the great rock love songs of the past 25 years. “Dare” is Gedge’s attempt to persuade a girl to love him:

Stay all night, I dare you
Look who is going to know?
I can’t believe you want to go!

Other key tracks include Carolyn, Octopussy, Suck and Niagara, which climaxes in a magical “1,2,3,4!” count-off into the final instrumental. There’s a steep listening curve on this album, but the rewards are more than worth it.

8. The Smiths — The Queen is Dead (1986)


This album should probably be higher on the list. Actually, I forgot about the Smiths when I first created this list late at night, but it would be criminal to shun them from any list of this nature. They are too representative of the era not to give them their proper notice.

The Smiths are highlighted by guitarist Johnny Marr and singer Steven Patrick Morrissey, who of course is better known as simply Morrissey. The Queen is Dead features several of the most iconic Smiths hits, including “Cemetery Gates,” “Bigmouth Strikes Again,” ” A Boy with a Thorn in His Side,” and a personal favorite, “There is a Light that Never Goes Out”. Morrissey’s trademark self-conscious self-deprecation permeates the album, epitomized by the lyric “It lasted 20 years, 7 months, and 27 days whoah-oh ah-ohoh…” (from the song “Never had No One Ever”.)

7. Echo and the Bunnymen — Ocean Rain (1984)


Today, Echo and the Bunnymen is best known as the group that recorded the song “The Killing Moon”, which gained prominence after it was featured in the 2001 movie Donnie Darko. Following the release of the movie, which was a massive cult hit among lovers of independent cinema, Echo also gained notoriety as a key musical influence for groups like Interpol and British Sea Power.

This is not to say that Echo and the Bunnymen wasn’t important in their own day. While virtually unnoticed in America, they had 4 top ten albums in the UK, and “The Killing Moon”, which starts out the second side on Ocean Rain, made it to #8 on the UK singles charts. Bunnymen zealots contend that guitarist Will Sergeant was better than The Edge and also that Bono ripped his vocal style off of Mac the Mouth.

Ocean Rain was supposed to be the album to catapult the Bunnymen toward international superstardom. While it didn’t quite do that, it made it to #4 on the UK album charts. The album features one of my favorite second halves. Starting with “The Killing Moon”, it sequences into “Seven Seas”, featuring one of the greatest bridges of the 80’s, “My Kingdom” and the epic title track to close things out. The Bunnymen are great for toeing the line between passion and histrionics.

6. Oasis — What’s the Story Morning Glory (1995)


Oasis was the biggest thing since the Beatles. Or at least The Brothers Gallagher thought they were. But these guys had the brawn to match the hubris. Oasis’ critics say that they only had one gear and couldn’t change their sound up enough (the paradigmatic one-trick pony), but they knew their sound and usually knocked it out of the park.

While some prefer Definitely Maybe, their debut, I prefer (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, which showed no signs of a sophomore slump. Morning Glory roars out of the gates with “Hello” (more of the Definitely Maybe vein), “Roll With It” (Nirvana meets Britpop), “Wonderwall” (their most accessible hit), and “Don’t Look Back in Anger” (title inspired by the John Osborne play). The album gets a little sleepy in the second half before closing with “Champagne Supernova” (another classic).

5. Radiohead — The Bends (1995)


Radiohead is the band which defines our generation. In fact, I had to tailor this post to end in 1995 instead of 1997 so I wouldn’t be obliged to put OK Computer at the top of this list. In many ways they are the current end-product of the entirety of British Rock.

This album kicks ass! I often listen to it in the morning to get my iconoclastic juices rolling before a long day hunting for my piece of cheese in the rat race. The album is replete with attitude, strong choices and general precociousness. Few bands rock as hard as Radiohead on The Bends. After the merely-above-average debut of Pablo Honey, Radiohead went to the sketch pad and drew up the plan for their second album. This is when Radiohead started to become the best band of Earth, even if Yorke owes Buckley’s estate some royalties for “Fake Plastic Trees”. (And I think “Street Spirit” is overrated.) But the quality is uniform throughout.

4. The Clash — London Calling (1979)


Rolling Stone Magazine shocked its readership in 2003 when it placed The Clash’s London Calling at #8 on their 500 Greatest Albums list. I remember them getting some negative feedback, probably justified (with albums like Velvet Underground and Nico, Abbey Road, Are You Experienced, and Nevermind ranked after — a minor misdemeanor.) But even if London Calling isn’t number eight, it undoubtedly clocks in somewhere before twenty.

“Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust” sings Strummer on the opening title track. Although there is an outward rejection of the past, The Clash were receptive to incorporating other genres into the framework of punk. “Brand New Cadillac” is Jan and Dean, “Rudie Can’t Fail” is Proto-Ska. Then there’s “Lost in the Supermarket” and “Lover’s Rock”, which for me transcend definition and float within the timeless realm of ineffability. This nineteen track double album is guilty of some filler, but it closes the deal with “Trian in Vain (Stand by Me),” one of their most popular songs.

3. The Stone Roses — The Stone Roses (1989)


The iconic bands share a self-fulfilling vision to be the greatest band on the planet. These guys had that vision. Led by frontman Ian Brown and guitarist John Squire, driven by the incessant beat of bassist Mani and drummer Reni, who battles the late Pete Defritas of The Bunnymen as the best English Drummer of the 80’s, The Stone Roses’ eponymous debut is a statement of purpose.

They are unapologetic about their intentions, as indicated by the opener, “I Wanna Be Adored”, which was an American college radio hit. Next comes the infectious bass line from “She Bangs the Drums”, made recently popular by the videogame Guitar Hero II. “Don’t Stop” is “Waterfall” played backwards! — I mean, who else plays a song backwards? The epic finale is much-loved, but I prefer the saccharine sweetness of “Sugar Spun Sister”.

2. Echo and the Bunnymen — Heaven Up Here (1981)


Echo and the Bunnymen’s second album, Heaven Up Here, was their only LP to make the Rolling Stone top 500 list, squeaking in somewhere between 450 and 500. The inclusion is a bit of a pity prize, but I am at least glad that a) they got the recognition in the first place and b) the preferred Echo album was Heaven Up Here, which, in my opinion, is the most cohesive album of the 1980’s. Still in their early 20’s, they built on the foundation laid with their 1980 debut Crocodiles. While some of Crocodile’s pop infectiousness is lost on Heaven Up Here, Echo makes up for it with a surety of purpose evidenced by a higher lyrical quality; the band follows suit in this step up to the big league. (To compare it with Boy by U2 is a joke, quite honestly.)

“Realistically, it’s hard to dig it all too happily,” Ian McCullloch croons at the start of the opening track, “Show of Strength”. Echo, like the Stone Roses, make an overt statement of greatness with the opening track and somehow manages to succeed. Seargent’s guitars are mesmerizing and DeFritas’ drums cannot be played at a loud enough decibel. The hysteria continues with the dystopic “With a Hip” and the six-minute epic third track, “Over the Wall”, where Mac the Mouth takes the listener to their logical limit. Even filler like “It was a Pleasure” kicks absolute ass. Any doubts are handled by the time we get to “Zimbo”, a metaphysical journey not unlike Kiliminjaro (see#10).

1. The La’s — The La’s (1990)


I was not impressed with this album when I purchased it off Amazon about five years ago. I thought it was too short and that the songwriting was not original enough, outside of “There She Goes” and “Timeless Melody”, the album’s premiere cuts. Most importantly, I found Steve Lillywhite’s production shoddy and hated how I had to crank the volume up before even beginning to rock out.

But over time, I grew attached to this album. I listened to it at least once every day for a six month period, and I still listen to it on a regular basis. This album makes #1 because it breaks all stereotypes of chronology, with tracks sounding like they could’ve been recorded in 1959 or 2009, but definitely not 1989. The La’s came from a different era, taking their, ahem, timeless melodies from that great magical jukebox in the sky.

The La’s, originally from Liverpool, were hailed as the second coming of the Beatles. They put a record company out of business while making this album. Once the label put Steve Lillywhite (U2, Dave Matthews) to the task of salvaging the wreckage of three years of false starts, the album finally came out in 1990. The band, especially frontman Lee Mavers, hated the album and publicly lambasted it, urging their fans not to buy it. They had minimal buzz in the US, appearing on Letterman in 1991; “There She Goes” went to #5 in the UK. After the band broke up, the song continued to grow, being covered by The Cranberries and Sixpence None the Richer and being featured in movies like So I Married an Axe Murderer.

There She Goes was originally released in 1988 as a single, then climbed to #5 when re-released with the album. It is the perfect pop song. Unforgettable guitar intro, pitch-perfect falsetto, 2 minutes 40 seconds, all the ingredients. “Timeless Melody” is almost as good, along with “Way Out”, “IOU”, “Freedom Song”, and the epic finale “Looking Glass”. This album is #1 because there’s no filler. Each track is equally qualified for radio airwaves. Please buy this album, don’t download, since Lee Mavers lives off the royalties. Just don’t tell Lee that you liked his album.

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Florence + the Machine, Live @ House of Blues, Boston 10/31/10



The place was electric. It was Halloween. “This is the start of our American tour and I can’t think of a better way to start than in Boston.”, said Ms. Welch at the close of the opening set’s penultimate song. HOB roared. Florence was so over.


Florence + the Machine are massive. If for only the sold out House of Blues crowd; but every face knew every word to everyone of those songs. It was an hour long reverie. For the set and encore’s approximate 60 minutes duration, Florence stood before the faithful, her gathered masses. She had the attention of the congregation.



And from the vestments (The band wore skeleton suits. Florence, the dress of a flame-haired corpse girl.) of the assembled Machine, to the performance of Florence Welch (arms waved, arms reaching out, hands held high) to the set’s subject matter (as remarked by Florence herself) “hell. coffins. blindness. werewolves.” It felt almost religious, something between ritual and ceremony. And it was Halloween.


“Dog Days Are Over” sounded enormous, “Cosmic Love” towered and soared, and “Kiss with a Fist” straight knocked us out.

Florence is a star. The UK knows. The US soon will. This larger venue North American tour (NY’s Terminal 5, LA’s Wiltern) should help.

Florence + the Machine – You’ve Got the Love (HaHaHa Remix)

Florence + the Machine – Dog Days Are Over (Killabit DnB Remix)

Florence + the Machine – My Boy Builds Coffins (Demo)

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Mayer Hawthorne / The Heavy / DJ Jazzy Jeff Live @ Paradise, Boston 10/19/10



This will be a show, not a concert

And it was, and it was phenomenal.

We can’t front. We are serious fans of Mayer Hawthorne. And we’re also pretty into The Heavy. And DJ Jazzy Jeff is a legend. So you can imagine the pitch of our anticipation for this show. We. were. psyched.



The Heavy mean business. That much was clear throughout the band’s 45 minute or so set. Galvanized by a 3-piece horn section, The Dirty Three (and, man, did they sound it) and buoyed by frontman Kelvin Swaby’s crazy good vocals and stage presence/persona the band growled, rumbled, shaked, thumped and roared through a sweaty selection of tunes from their first two (highly recommended) LPs. “Owwwwwwwwwwwooooooohhhhh”, Swaby, in one of many cool exchanges with the crowd, called out for all the wolves in the audience. “We play music by the devil.”, alluding to the band’s unhallowed co-contributor. “You guys are live, more live than New York last night.” “Fuck New York.”, called back an adjacent show-goer. Swaby was over. He had the crowd. The Heavy were killing it. Sixteen pounded, How You Like Me Now boomed, What You Want Me to Do thundered. The Heavy were HEAVY, the best mix of loud guitar, soulful rhythm, and raw brass. Music by the devil.




Mayer Hawthorne is a terrific performer. Mayer and his four-piece band The County sounded great. Mayer sporting a fly three piece suit with red tie, The County fitted in matching red cardigans opened the set with A Strange Arrangement standout Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’ and it was on. Hawthorne and co. smoothed out to a set of approximately 12 songs, a survey of urban music influence spanning the last 50 years, The Temptations-y (and according to Mayer, first song he ever wrote) Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out, The Stylistics-esque I Wish It Would Rain, the 80’s r&b-influenced No Strings, and two Snoop jams The Neptunes classic Beautiful and Hawthorne’s own G-Mix re-touch of Gangsta Luv. Mayer was effortless in his engagement with the crowd, his on stage interactions with his band, and his overall ability to command the show‘s dynamic. “If you ain’t dancin tonight, best file on to the back, and let someone up front that will dance.” The kids were into it, the older dudes were into it, the girls got down. People had fun at this show. It felt great.


So we got outstanding sets from The Heavy, Mayer Hawthorne, and lest we mention opener New Wave dude Gordon Voidwell; who played a cool set of Synth bangers to the Paradise filers in, no doubt gaining fans, admirers, and Gordon Voidwell true believers in his effort. Ok, could this get any better? I mean what more? What possibly could top this killer Mazda Car tour. DJ JAZZY JEFF! YES! Jeff is a legend. And the opportunity to see the Jazzy DJ get sick with the turntables in person? Oh yes. And Jeff straight up murdered it, turning in arguably the best set of the night. Dude moved effortlessly about the 1’s and 2’s mixing up classic rock with early 90’s house, and disco jams with Lloyd Banks. She’s just like you and me, but she’s homeless, she’s homeless. Gypsy Woman turned to Seven Nation Army. Seven Nation Army blended into Teach Me How to Dougie. Teach Me How to Dougie to BON JOVI. The actual tunes playing (they were all great) became irrelevant. Jeff was that locked in. We didn’t want it to end.

This was a show. This was not a concert.

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THROWBACK SATURDAYS: Dusty Springfield – The Look of Love


1967, off the “casino royale” soundtrack. so much more than words could ever say.

Dusty Springfield – The Look of Love

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