They have done it again…

It’s nothing new of Radiohead to set the internet into a frenzy, back in 2008 they did it with the “pay what you want” scheme upon the release of In Rainbows. And even with that, it banked. Why? Because it was that damn good.

Early Monday morning, out of left field, the band used mailing lists and social networking sites to announce the new record by just saying “thanks for waiting”. There was a link given to a site for the presale of “King of Limbs”, the 8th LP. The record was supposed to hit on Saturday morning, yet upon awaking today it had been released to the masses, along with a very spastic video for what I assume to be the first single “Lotus Flower”. Just Thom in a derby hat, spazzing out eclectic ala any live performance of Idioteque.

So the record? Well for the first time I don’t really know what to say. I am on the second spin, and as with any Radiohead record, it’s evolving with each listen. A bit on the shorter side with only 8 tracks, it seems as if that was all it takes for them to get their point across. Not since “Kid A” has Radiohead taken such a turn. More electro or dubstep influenced than the heavy riff of say, “Airbag”, the album is a total mindfuck. Initial standouts are “Lotus Flower” and “Codex”, with with a heavy Atoms for Peace feel (Thom’s side project). This band will not be pigeonholed and once again have captured the attention of the collective music listening body in a few hours. It’s nice to know that as I type this, there are probably millions crushed up against a pair of headphones trying to wrap their heads around it.

www.radiohead.com

www.thekingoflimbs.com

Minus the Bear in Detroit

©2010 Brenna Bowser Photography & Design

I have seen a lot of shows. Probably more than I should have, some good, some great and some forgettable. The funny part is, I have never seen one at Clutch Cargo’s, a venue just outside of Detroit. It wasn’t until deciding what to do for Brenna’s birthday did we decide to make the short travel north to see our first concert together. She had mentioned that Minus the Bear was playing a show around her birthday, which was great because the band had recently signed to Dangerbird Records. I had been working with the label on a couple of acts in their arsenal for a few years, so this was perfect. The management at the label has always been more than happy to help out with photo passes and press kits, and this was no exception. The venue itself is crazy. It is an old Catholic church renovated into a concert hall. Intimate, yet somehow creepy in the fact that we were drinking vodka and redbull in a former place of worship.

©2010 Brenna Bowser Photography & Design

There is nothing like the feeling you get as the lights sink from dim to absolute zero, the crowd roaring behind you, camera in tow, and nothing but a few pedalboards and monitors separating you from the band. The smoke billows as they walk on stage. The place erupts. At this point, I don’t know if its telling of my age, but I am glad we are in front of the barrier, because it looks hot in the pit. If this show isn’t sold out, then I would be shocked.

Hailing from Seattle, Minus The Bear is extremely difficult to define. Descriptive words of singular tracks are an easier way to describe the live show. Varying from Indie rock with rocksteady, electronica, funk driven fuzz overtones, to total glitch madness by use of delay pedals. The band is touring in support from their latest effort “OMNI”. A slight departure from works past, OMNI seems to be a more mature, spatial record that really shines live. Odd time signatures, along with abrupt stop/starts makes the songs give off a spacey energy. Minus the Bear is without a doubt a band to see in person, if not only to see how the songs evolve and take shape while on stage.

© Brenna Bowser Photography & Design

It really seemed as if the band really was into playing for this crowd, and having a great time themselves. On a cold winter night, if you were into music at all, Clutch Cargo’s was the place to be. Security was extremely nice and helpful to the photographers which makes me want to return there for more shows. Thanks to Greg at Dangerbird for the credentials and Brenna for taking way better shots than I did.

© Brenna Bowser Photography & Design

© Brenna Bowser Photography & Design

© Brenna Bowser Photography & Design

  1. Encore:

 

 

www.minusthebear.com

www.dangerbirdrecords.com

www.brennabowser.com

Kings of Leon back in the front of everyone’s mind with “Come Around Sundown”

 

I’ll bite. This is going to be the record that every music snob listens to at home when no one is looking.

I wanted so bad to hate it, but I can’t help but like it. Some of it is really infectious. I am sure after a few listens it will really groove. Let’s just hope that radio forgets about Kings of Leon and continues force feeding the masses a variety of slutpop, rather than destroying some of these songs with repetition.

It seems as if they knew that most of the serious music community was expecting then to fall flat on their faces with this one. It is a big struggle, do you revert to appease your early and loyal fanbase, or do you crank out three more singles and get stuck again in everyone’s head to the point that even your die-hards are sick of hearing it. One pays respect, the other pays the bills.

The band has built up a little bit of a reputation of having “instant rock-star syndrome”,  but in some weird way I kinda want to see them fight back a little. Give some interviews, tell the reporter to fuck off, throw shit out of hotel windows, be wasted half the time. It worked for Zeppelin, It worked for Axl, Johnny Rotten…  you get the point. Since when does rock and roll have to be so polished? Fuck frontmen like Bono. I want it to be interesting.

They keep painfully mailing in the live shows and they will be nothing more than a note in the breeze. That’s a sureshot to total exodus of your fanbase. I’m kinda excited to see how this pans out.

The record is good. I feel as if they really tried to listen to what everyone was screaming at them, all the while keeping those young ladies feeling oh-so dreamy. Stand out tracks are “Pyro”, “No Money” and “Beach Side”

 

WWW.KINGSOFLEON.COM

 

1. “The End” 4:24
2. “Radioactive” 3:26
3. “Pyro” 4:10
4. “Mary” 3:25
5. “The Face” 3:28
6. “The Immortals” 3:28
7. “Back Down South” 4:01
8. “Beach Side” 2:50
9. “No Money” 3:05
10. “Pony Up” 3:04
11. “Birthday” 3:15
12. “Mi Amigo” 4:06
13. “Pickup Truck”

4:44

The National: Live in Royal Oak Michigan

 After many, many years of anticipation, the time has come. I am finally going to be able to see The National do what they do best. Play live, and create a collective emotional experience with those in the audience.  My love affair with the band began back around 2005 when a friend had passed me a vinyl copy of Alligator. As any fan of the bands’ works can attest, these records evolve, grow and take may listens to absorb. Alligator was a great listen but kind of got shelved for a bit.

 Then 2007 rolls around and they release what will probably be forever known as their opus. Boxer. Oh Boxer. The record that early on, most if not all blogs and magazines had it in a top 100 records of all time list. Some such as Pitchfork and Spin had it as record of the year and of the decade. Words can’t explain how much I needed this album at that point in my life. “Slow Show” easily has the most heartfelt key change towards the end of the track. Lyrics such as “…you know I dreamed about you, for twenty nine years, until I found you…” It spent most of 2007/8 on my turntable.

 With big shoes to fill, late winter the band had announced that it was working on a new record. They took three years. They took their time. They poured a whole lot of soul into it. “High Violet” was released mid-spring 2010 to a collective sigh of relief from the music community. They had struck lightning again. Rave reviews from the blogosphere and a pre release performance of  “Terrible Love” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon dropped jaws nationwide on live television. Frontman Matt Berninger progresses his stage presence like a bottle of champagne, shaken and waiting for the cork to be pulled during the crescendo. He eventually ends up standing on the drum riser, pulling intensity out of every single member of that band.

 Tomorrow, August 3rd, I will be in attendance at the Royal Oak Music Theatre. Most likely on the rail. Just google a live performance of “Mr November” and you will understand. Who needs wireless microphones? Not Matt Berninger.

Won’t stop him from screaming the chorus for “Squalor Victoria” from the back of the house.

His friends will help get him back there, we got ya Matt.

The National is currently touring in support High Violet, with special guest The Antlers

www.americanmary.com/tour.php

           **UPDATE**

 

Wow, what a night. One I wont soon forget. After being second in line we actually made it to the rail. Three feet left of Matt. The band pulled out all the stops. This was by far the best live performance I have ever seen. Matt’s intensity was on a constant increase. I knew we were in for a building setlist, due do the more subdued songs to begin with. Slow Show was everything I thought it would be and more. I get tingles just thinking of it as I write this. I heard Aaron tune up for ” Mr. November” and I screamed “come in for a swim Matt!!”. He looked at me and nodded.

 

 After pacing back in forth in front of the rail for the first verse, he stands right in front of me as if to say “give me both hands, and hold on”. He kicks the mike stand down and dives right for me, one foot on the rail, one foot on the stage. I tried pulling him in but to no avail. He ends up ducking under the rail and my group were all into the mic along with him screaming the chorus. (Video sound clips a little, but defitinely worth watching. I’m the one in the grey plaid shirt. Also very NSFW)

 He eventually made his way all the way back to the bar with us in the front row feeding him out microphone cord.

 We stuck around after buying some shirts and the High Violet silkscreen print. And the best collectable of all. Aaron’s setlist. Bre somehow has a penchant for getting those, as well as picks.

 Ended up meeting the entire band, including Padma. Never met a more genuine group of gentlemen who were “rock stars”. They took a ton of time to learn peoples names ans sign anything and everything, as well as thanking US for coming to see them play. No, THANK YOU guys for the best night of my life.

(all photos courtesy of Bre Kopson Photography and City Mouse)

Review: The Bean and Leaf Cafe, Rochester Michigan

 

Detroit has a vibe. Detroit has a few stereotypes. Most noticeably, Detroit has a smell. Oh that smell as soon as you hit downriver lets you know full well that you have arrived in the Motor City.

 Yet few may realize just how diverse the Metro area truly is. Sure, everyone knows in the early oaughts the Hamtramick was really the place to be for the sampled beats pulsating from an 808 for true Detroit techno, or that Royal Oak is the pretentious scenester mecca of Michigan with all of the best indie and garage acts playing weekly.

 Over the past few weeks I have been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in Rochester, and Rochester Hills respectively. I must say this hidden gem of a suburb has much to offer. Specifically the Bean and Leaf Cafe. As I sit here on a warm summer Monday evening, enjoying an iced mocha latte made with an artistic flair in the foam, I get a feel for local residents and how they spend a Monday evening.

 The coffee itself is fantastic, and my baristas (Cait and Bre) welcomed me immediately with a friendly, down to earth demeanor. It seems they both made it a point to learn every customers first name. This definitely is not your local cattle call Starbucks. Offering a cozy, Grenwich Village atmosphere filled with many great books to read at your leisure, or free wi-fi to create blog posts such as this, the overall demographic is one of twentysomethings as well as urban professionals either looking to unwind whilst buried into a memoir, or to sip down double or triples of espresso to meet that paper deadline for their summer classes at Oakland University.

 It should be noted that the coffee is fair trade, and the vessels to carry it are all of the biodegradable “plastic” type, or recycled cardboard and napkins. The cafe offers a great blend of modern indie music gently mixed from the in store Pandora server. During this post I have heard everything from Bon Iver to Radiohead as well as a flurry of John Mayer songs, I suppose in the baristas’ anticipation of his upcome show at the DTE Energy Ampitheater within a few days.

Overall I would definitely recommend the Bean and Leaf to anyone looking for a great cup of italian espresso, or any variety of dark roasted free trade coffee or tea from around the world. Be sure to say hello to Bre or Caitlyn and tell them City Mouse sent you.

Cheers,

CM

Sold!

I was on the fence about the iPad, but this may have thrown me over. Sometimes all it takes is a little kitsch.

http://www.slipperybrick.com/2010/04/icade-mini-arcade-cabinet-for-ipad/

Review: Muse and Silversun Pickups in Detroit

I know I am going to be scolded by readers and friends for waiting so long to actually post this. I do have a few excuses, mainly the fact that I have been pretty sick with my annual spring cold/death cough for the past week.

Another, which those of you who would attest that witnessed… I has taken me a while to figure out how to describe what I saw.

I wont lie, going into the show, I was there to see Silversun Pickups. Once again, my buddy Nicole at Big Hassle was kind enough to hook this guy up with photo credentials and one of the best seats in the house for this show. Dont get me wrong, I am a fan of Muse, have been since Absolution came out, but as a long time fan of SSPU, I was more than excited to see them in such a large venue.

It was amazing to see the Pickups make the crowd feel just as intimate as one of the club shows I have witnessed. Brian always has a banter that both makes people laugh as well as hype the audience for more. They blasted through an eight song set, modestly illuminated in front of Muse’s stage rig, making a crowd at the Palace of Auburn Hills feel more like a satellite of one of the many Silverlake clubs that the band had initially proven themselves on back in the early oughts. A few of the highlights of the show were Brian Aubert’s inciting of a flash bulb war between each half of the arena, as well as watching first time live listeners freak out during the Panic Switch/Lazy Eye one-two punch closer with an extended sonic jam. Walking away from the feedback and delay induced screams, the band received a warm reception from the entire arena, especially the floor, whom were put to a little more than an opening band test of endurance.

After a short intermission, I regrouped and kind of waited for the visual onslaught that I had been warned about. Muse knows how to put on an elaborate show. Bottom line. The production consisted of three massive “towers” split in half in the center holding each member of the band. Opening with “Uprising” and ending with “Knights of Cydonia”, they pushed the boundaries of visual stimulation and surprise for sixteen-plus songs and many extended jams and riff teasers. Yes, there were lasers and keytars…knee slides and spotlights…hell, even inflatable eyeball balloons, filled with red confetti rolled from the upper levels. But the thing about Muse is, they arent just a production pony, they can actually play. Very well. I was amazed at just how dedicated Muse fans are. It reminds me of the days I used to follow Pearl Jam on tour. The band did not not play many rarities, some claim because of the orchestration with the set, but be that as it may, the entire show was described as “epic”. All around The 2010 Resistance tour is a well oiled machine, and you can sign me up for a ticket on the second leg of the tour.

Check www.muse.mu for full tour listings, featuring Silversun Pickups in the US.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/48482489@N08/

(photos courtesy of 419design/christywithawhy)