Thursday, June 6, 2013

Electronic heartstrings

Bright Light Bright Light and Rowsy Bosch. I've written about both artists before, but given that they've both just released outstanding new songs, I feel compelled to write about them again in the hopes that my little blog might help spread the word about artists who deserve greater exposure.

A year ago, I called the debut album from Bright Light Bright Light a contender for album of the year. I will amend that slightly to remove "a contender for" and just call it my favorite album of 2012. I can still listen to it from start to finish and hear new details, enjoy it fully as if it were my first listen, and be sad when it seems to be over too soon. (Happily for me, Bright Light Bright Light are performing a few shows around the US, including a stop in San Francisco with Slow Knights later this month. I cannot wait!)

June 3 saw the release of the final single from Make Me Believe In Hope, the melancholic and melodic "Moves". The release includes a lovely video, along with a remix and two bonus tracks, "Blueprint" and "This Is Me Without You", the latter of which is the standout track.

With a tinkling piano to start, the song features a lovely build to cathartic rhythms with lyrics detailing with no small amount of sadness and acceptance the end of a relationship and the need to heal. "On your breath, even simple words / Felt much louder than the streets around me" goes one verse; "But I made my peace with what you couldn't say / Now I move on without you / And hope that you are doing the same" comes the refrain.

It is achingly beautiful, a fitting companion to the A-side, and the perfect conclusion to the Make Me Believe In Hope period. Buy the Moves EP on Amazon MP3.


Now let us turn our attention to the stellar track dropped this week from Rowsy Bosch featuring Jeb Havens. I wrote about their debut EP last October, and in the meantime they've been hard at work on new material.

"Turn Me On" is a suitable companion to "This Is Me Without You" in several ways: it's an uptempo electronic track, it features a male vocalist, and its lyrics are far more melancholy than the arrangement might lead you to expect. (This will come as no surprise to fans of Depeche Mode, Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, Robyn, ... ). Where "This Is Me Without You" seeks to move past a failed relationship, however, "Turn Me On" seeks to make peace with a world that cannot or will not give everyone the room they need to breathe and realize their full potential.

"There are days / I just get home and it's on to the next beat / I can't shake this autopilot seeping into my life"

"There are wars being waged on the airwaves / Who am I supposed to be?"

This song marks an evolution in the band's sound, upping the tempo but holding on to the elements that give a song its heart: melody and lyricism. I am very eager to see what comes next for them!

Buy "Turn Me On" on Amazon MP3, and catch Rowsy Bosch featuring Jeb Havens at San Francisco Pride.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Concert Season!

April is upon us already, which can mean only one thing: concerts galore!

In a pattern in keeping with previous years, the spring thaw means a flurry of touring activity. With the abundance of riches the San Francisco Bay Area provides, it is not unheard of to forego one show in favor of seeing another, to have two artists I admire playing at different venues on the same night. This month's calendar is chock-full already:

  • Lindsey Stirling at the Warfield. A fun, entertaining show! It's been great seeing Lindsey rise to fame thanks to that 21st-century invention, YouTube. April 3.
  • Sparks at The Chapel. The day I discovered this show, I lost my shit. It's the first of two nights, and the second had already sold out. Even though it's a stripped-down format—not for nothing is the tour called Two Hands, One Mouth—Sparks is one of the bands I feared I'd never get to see live, despite having been a fan for nearly twenty years. So when I managed to regain my shit after reading the SonicLiving email, I promptly snagged a pair of tickets. April 9.
  • Jessie Ware at The Independent. She's about to blitz North America with a re-release of her debut album, and I am very excited to hear what she's like in person. April 11.
  • Purity Ring at The Independent. A recent discovery, they're not my usual cup of tea, but I'm warming up to them. April 16.
  • Metric at the Fox Theatre. I need not say much about Metric; their most recent album is a delightful listen. I fell in love with them thanks to Black Sheep, which features to great effect in one of my favorite films of all time, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. April 18.

Phew! All that, and still nearly two weeks left to fill. It's not just a blip, though; the next month has shows from Little Boots, Marina and the Diamonds, and the xx...

As a bonus, give a listen to Sparks' 1995 album Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins, the album that made me fall in love with them. (Little did I know they'd already been around for over twenty years!) Can you guess who Russell is imagining a relationship with in "I Thought I Told You to Wait In the Car"?

New Hotness: April 2013

Apologies, Dear Reader. It's been a busy few months for me, leaving me precious little time to listen to music, much less write about it. And I'm not going to write about it right now; instead, I give you an Rdio playlist with ten recent releases that I am thoroughly enjoying right now. Yes, there's a guilty pleasure or two–hello, Jonas Brothers–but just because it's a guilty pleasure doesn't make it bad! Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Favorite Tracks of 2012

2012 was a pretty great year for pop music, at least in terms of singles if not for entire albums. It was a year that saw a resurgence of male-led pop music (Bright Light Bright Light, Alex Clare), some strong sophomore efforts (Ellie Goulding, Sam Sparro, Adam Lambert, Bruno Mars), and some outstanding live shows in support of great new music (Dragonette, Beats Antique, The Ting Tings).

This year's best-of list includes several acts local to San Francisco, as I've had more opportunities to catch local bands than in prior years. The list includes quite a bit of music not available on Rdio; they are, of course, all worth checking out.

Tracks not available on Rdio:

Check out the rest in the embedded player:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012: The year in gigs

January

  • 6 – Return to Mono, Stripmall Architecture – Rickshaw Stop
  • 19 – Katy B, The Good Natured – Rickshaw Stop

February

  • 18 – Pomplamoose, A B and The Sea – Great American Music Hall

March

  • 22 – 2:54, Stripmall Architecture – Rickshaw Stop
  • 25 – The Ting Tings – The Fillmore
  • 27 – Midi Matilda, Peck the Town Cryer, Beam – Cafe du Nord
  • 30 – Beats Antique – The Fox Theatre

April

  • 4 – Sam Sparro, Polaris at Noon – The Independent
  • 5 – K-Flay – Rickshaw Stop
  • 9 – Oh Land, Midi Matilda – The Independent
  • 12 – Miike Snow, Penguin Prison – The Fox Theatre
  • 27 – Tanlines – Rickshaw Stop

May

No shows, life demanded more attention than usual.

June

  • 17 – Scissor Sisters – The Fox Theatre

July

  • 11 – Marina and the Diamonds – The Fillmore

August

  • 23 – Alex Clare – Mezzanine

September

  • 11 – Hot Chip – The Fox Theatre
  • 26 – Dragonette, The Knocks – Mezzanine

October

  • 12 – The Presets – The Independent
  • 19 – Major Lazer – The Fox Theatre
  • 20 – Stars, Diamond Rings – The Fillmore
  • 23 – Two Door Cinema Club, St. Lucia – The Fox Theatre
  • 26 – Lights – Great American Music Hall

November

  • 4 – Justice, Girls & Boomboxes – The Warfield
  • 8 – Diamond Rings, Sky Ferreira – Rickshaw Stop

December

No shows, ERMAGERD HERLERDERS!