Wednesday's Sage Francis show at Berbati's Pan has been cancelled. A new date hasn't been scheduled yet; the reason for the cancellation is "the passing of Sage's father." Our condolences to Francis and his family, and here's hoping a new Portland date can be rescheduled some point in the future. Refunds for tickets are available at the point of purchase.
Sage Francis, Wed June 2, Berbati's Pan
LCD Soundsystem - May 29th @ Roseland Theater
James Murphy belted out the words to "All My Friends," and in an amen of sorts, the brimming Roseland Theater helped him finish the couplet. "If you're worried about the weather," he sang as Portland joined, "then you've picked the wrong place to stay."
The sentiment was a bit ironic, of course, as the city yearns desperately for summer and an end to this prolonged and dreary spring. For two hours Saturday night, Murphy's baby, LCD Soundsystem broke the clouds. It was hot, sweaty, and carefree—a purging of self-centered, self-defeating machinations on aging, regret and cool, where the title of the new album, This Is Happening, becomes and ethos. (The same could be said of the song title "Dance Yrself Clean.")
Murphy's backing band is a titanic seven piece. Never has cyclical dance music sounded so crisp in person. Using real instruments and amplifiers rather than pre-recorded backing tracks created true separation and depth of field. Every single guitar, bass, synth, wood block, timbale, conga, and cymbal splash cut clearly through the mix (the band brought their own sound engineer and a studio's worth of vintage synthesizers). At times Murphy would make the subtlest adjustments to the tone on bandmate's amplifiers and even instruments.
The players are fitting for Murphy's subject matter—thirty-something ex-hipsters adorned with a few specks of grey hair. And my God they were disciplined, re-creating the particulars that make Murphy, an engineer and audiophile himself, salivate. Rub the pick sideways on the strings for a slightly scratchier attack. Hit the those two notes just so as the song fades away, just like it does on the record. Play one simple riff for seven minutes without flourish. While note-for-note recreations on stage often feel limp or lifeless, LCD Soundsystem swelled with extra life aside from the enhanced attack, tempo and volume.
In the studio, Murphy pieces all the tracks and instruments together one by one while playing most everything. And while the instruments on LCD Soundsystem records are all played live, they are recorded in such a close-mic'd and controlled environment as to make them sound synthesized (IE: drums sound like a drum machine). Live, the rush and swirl caused the band to really sink into the grooves—they were tightly played but never static. The music breathed and burned and was loud as all fucking hell.
At times the volume seemed to pain Murphy, who plugged his ears on numerous occasions with a searing grimace. But it never effected a workman-like two hour performance. He still stuck his head in the drum set, singing and alternating the vocal mic strategically to enhance snare snaps and cymbal crashes.
The set zoomed through all parts of the band's catalogue. The older tunes—the most rhythmic and least melodic with spoken vocals—reminded more of Talking Heads live than they do on record. The band dipped back to "I'm Losing My Edge," while adding a large swath of the new record with, "Drunk Girls," "All I Want," "Pow Pow," and "I Can Change," plus hits like "Someone Great" and the aforementioned "All My Friends." And while the audience singalong was loud for the line about the weather, it towered above during the coda. Everyone seemed to be shouting, "if I could see all my friends tonight!"
After a lengthy encore Murphy and co. closed the evening somewhat perplexingly with "New York, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down," a ballad that seemed to infer the all too common superiority complex New Yorkers carry around. We're in Portland. What do we care? As the somber tune came to an end, however, Murphy and keyboardist/vocalist Nancy Whang (also of the Juan MacLean) segued into the chorus of Jay Z's "Empire State of Mind." The immutable hook seemed to deflect from Murphy as the center of attention, which seemed to be exactly what he wanted. I wandered out into the open air, happily humming someone else's tune.
Well, screw that... I'm all about celebrating life. John Bonham was born on this day in 1948. He would have been 62 today, and I found it only fitting to dig up one of his most badass, boozed out drum solos. So, barbecue, drink, be merry, remember those who fought for our freedom (cue Lee Greenwood song)... and may this video inspire drummers everywhere to play their kits with their bare hands.
This morning Gorilla Vs. Bear dropped a new cut from Portland supergroup and (hopefully) harbingers of summertime We Like Cats. "Meow Hear Me Roar" is a red, yellow and green ball of yarn unrolling into the cosmos, brimming with dub, delay and, at times, a vocal style akin to blowing raspberries on a kitty's tummy. Honey Owens (Valet, Miracles Club), Eva Salens (Inca Ore) and Adam Forkner (White Rainbow, Rob Walmart) will be releasing their "SUMMERTIME PARTY RECORD!!!!!!!" and tribute to all things feline and irie, Proper Eats, on June 15th through Marriage Records, and celebrating its release June 23rd at Holocene.
The single (whose B-side is "Shake a Leg"; check out both tracks here, along with some other ones) celebrates its release at Rotture this Sunday, May 30. w/Ravenna Woods, Priory; Rotture, 315 SE 3rd, 9 pm, $6
Drew Grow & The Pastors' Wives: "Up in Smoke"
If you hate Twitter but love boobs, you now have a bit of an internal conflict on your hands.
Paramore's lead singer, Hayley Williams, has found herself in an awkward position (i.e. on her back with a camera pointed at her naked chest) after sexting a picture of her breasts and a sultry gaze to her own Twitter account last night. Oops!
The singer claims her account was hacked, which raises many questions—but you don't really care about those questions because there's alt rock boobs to be seen, am I right?!
NSFW after the jump.
Praise our cloven hoofed underlords! Our very own Distro Viking came up with this evil new logo for our dear paper, and I am lobbying for it to replace our current bland design. Watch your back, because the Mercury will burn your churches and eat your face.
Mr. West, along with his Chicago-sized ego, is about to deliver Good Ass Job (due out sometime this summer), an album that has the added pressure of bridging the large gap between (non-vocoder) recordings, plus making up for a few years of missteps, meltdowns, and hijacked award shows. As new singles go, so far so good. "Power" is not lyrically subtle, but with West's urgent flow and its swaying tempo, it's nice to hear a song that stands up to his back catalog.
Plus it features something every hiphop single needs: a King Crimson sample.
Kanye West - "Power" (featuring Dwele)
Just yesterday I was thinking how full of shit M.I.A. is, and that maybe I should write something about it. Her thin and bogus politics smacked of contempt for the people who buy her records. It would be a shit storm, but something needed to be said. Thankfully Lynn Hirschberg of the New York Times dove in with this especially illuminating piece.
She named her first album “Arular,” after her father. Even though her father was not a Tiger, she also used tigers on her Web site and her album artwork and she favored tiger-striped clothing. This was not an accident. By the time her first album came out, the Tamil cause was mostly synonymous with the cause of the Tamil Tigers. Maya, committed to the cause, allied herself with the group despite its consistent use of terror tactics, which included systematic massacres of Sinhalese villagers. (In turn, government forces were known to retaliate against Tamil villages and were accused of supporting death squads.)
In the press, Maya was labeled a terrorist sympathizer by some; others charged her with being unsophisticated about the politics of Sri Lanka. “People in exile tend to be more nationalistic,” Kadirgamar said. “And Maya took a very simplistic explanation of the problems between Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese government and the Tamils. It’s very unfair when you condemn one side of this conflict. The Tigers were killing people, and the government was killing people. It was a brutal war, and M.I.A. had a role in putting the Tigers on the map. She doesn’t seem to know the complexity of what these groups do.”
But many of her fans didn’t listen too closely to her lyrics, concentrating instead on the beat, the newness of the sound and her own multiculti, many-layered appeal. She was an instant indie darling (although “Arular” sold only 190,000 copies in the United States). Her songs were creative and abrasive in an intoxicating way, and it didn’t hurt that Maya was absolutely great looking. She quickly became a style icon: like that of all great pop stars, her anger and spirit of revolution was mitigated by sex.
It gets better:
Her rhetoric rankles Sri Lankan experts and human rights organizations, who are engaged in the difficult task of helping to forge a viable model for national unity after decades of bitter fighting. “Maya is a talented artist,” Kadirgamar told me, echoing the sentiments of others, “but she only made the situation worse. What happened in Sri Lanka was not a genocide. To not be honest about that or the Tigers does more damage than good. When Maya does a polarizing interview, it doesn’t help the cause of justice.”
Unity holds no allure for Maya — she thrives on conflict, real or imagined. “I kind of want to be an outsider,” she said, eating a truffle-flavored French fry. “I don’t want to make the same music, sing about the same stuff, talk about the same things. If that makes me a terrorist, then I’m a terrorist.”
And what does M.I.A. do when the piece comes out? Rather than refuting facts she gives out the reporter's phone number on Twitter.
"Catch me on the border I got visa's in my name." Yeah, try engaged to to Warner Brothers media mogul (and heir to Seagram's liquor) with a mansion in Beverly Hills.
If you missed out on the chance to get acquainted with London noise-pop trio and recent Sub Pop signees Male Bonding when they rolled up and smoked the Doug Fir last month, you may have to wait a while before they re-cross the pond and share their infectious, free-wheeling lo-fi punk with us Yanks.
In the meantime, pick up a copy of their debut LP Nothing Hurts, a guilt-free 30 minutes of SST-indebted pop punk, and scope out the video for "Year's Not Long" that just dropped this week. Directed by Vice "Woah, There's A Dude Drumming For The Raincoats" Cooler and featuring cameos by some of L.A.'s finest, the video starts out innocently enough as a slow-mo tribute to quality bro-time and then takes a climactic twist, like something straight outta Shyamalan. That is to say, you know, not so much scary as really funny.
Another week, another Mercury music section to gently flip through while you are being lectured by your doctor about the dangers of headbanging. I for one hope the future is not full of elderly heshers in neck braces.
Talib Kweli teams up with DJ Hi-Tek for a new Reflection Eternal album. Now that he's done that, this means a Black Star reunion is next, right? Right? Oh god please say it is.
Reflection Eternal - "Midnight Hour" (feat. Estelle)
I might have been a little hard on MGMT, but have you actually heard Congratulations? It's so bad it hurts. I hope the hatemail I receive from MGMT fans is vowel-free.
MGMT - "Flash Delirium"
Now for a popular New York act that fails to disappoint, LCD Soundsystem. It's been a few weeks of constant play and This Is Happening still holds up. Now let's just hope James Murphy was kidding when he said it might be his last record.
LCD Soundsystem - "I Can Change"
Citay are music geeks that make music for fellow music geeks. Need proof? How about a single paragraph that mentions Popol Vuh, Werner Herzog, Howlin Rain, Jan Hammer, and Mahavishnu Orchestra?
Citay - "Careful With That Hat"
Ever since last year's Pickathon I've been pining for more Sam Quinn. At the time there was no record, nor a plan to revisit Portland. I was forced to jam out to Quinn's scant live output online (he's so good it worked). And while there's still not even a west coast date on Quinn's latest itinerary, all is not lost—there is movement in them Tennessee woods!
Earlier this month Quinn released his solo debut, The Fake That Sunk A Thousand Ships. This teaser video out to tell you everything you need to know. And by God, Quinn's first little anecdote on happy vs. depressing music is a killer.
Also, I wrote a letter to the folks at Pickathon, asking them to bring Quinn back. There's really no better place to see them than in the dusty woods or an old barn—they just seemed so at home last year. I'm still waiting to hear back...
Wow. Wampire's Eric Phipps is featured as the spokesmodel for RØDE Microphones' new yo-yo themed campaign. This photo was taken from the band's Facebook page, and I have to say—despite the entire ad looking like a farce—Phipps pulls off the part of yo-yo expert.
He's no Dazzling Dave, but really, who is?
Last time we checked, various official (and unofficial) leaks had identified a dozen bands as performing at this year's MusicFest NW festival. Let's see 'em: The Gories, Thee Oh Sees, Pure County Gold, Frank Turner, Justin Townes Earle, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside, Mbillly, Akron/Family, Menomena, Don't, Pierced Arrows, and if you believe the gossip, Sleep.
Well, let's toss a few more names on that list. Hotshit emcee Wiz Khalifa has just been added, alongside openers Grieves and Animal Farm, plus if USA Today is to be believed (and who would dare doubt America's finest source for Larry King columns and colorful pie charts?) Phantogram will be there as well. Also, according to this link, Big Freedia will be at the Roseland Theater on September 9th (MFNW's opening night) with Major Lazer and Starfucker (damn, that is a good show). That would bring our running total to 19.
Pardon my put-the-lotion-in-the-basket headline, but how can anyone not be in complete awe of Carl Newman? The gingered frontman of the New Pornographers lives the sort of existence that any of us would (rightfully) kill for. In addition to his stellar solo work under the name A.C. Newman, being one of the great modern songwriters, having the best promo photo ever, and hanging with Neko Case whenever he damn well pleases, it turns out that Newman also owns a home on an artist colony where he makes his own maple syrup. Dear god, that man has it all.
To summarize: Carl Newman lives the perfect life and eats hotcakes for every meal. So jealous.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!