Sunday, July 10, 2011

Grand Archives

Kate and I enjoyed two and a half great Seattle bands last night at Neumo’s in Capitol Hill (stood center stage in the front row as well). 

Starting off the night were the Royal Eyes who claimed this was their first official show ever.  That is amazing because they played far better than many established bands I have endured in the past.  They say they are Seattle based, they have a Twitter account with 18 followers, and they have a Facebook page which 41 people like.  This is everything I know about them.  Well, the lead singer also has some sort of British Isles accent going for him which makes me want to ask him about the Seattle connection.  We lifted a poster from the show afterwards so now we have proof that we were at the very first public Royal Eyes appearance ever.  I was thinking during their set on how hard it would be to be the manager of a band.  There is no way these guys have representation so what would it take?  Get them in the studio and cut a demo, line up some gigs, beg KEXP to play them (maybe a song of the day), perhaps an excursion to Portland, etc…  The reason why it would work is because their music is really good.  They are a quartet who produce an alt-rock, folk sound and I will keep my eyes peeled on the music pages of the Stranger and Seattle Weekly to find when/where their second show ever is.

I didn’t realize I had heard of the second band of the night until their last song, 'Movers Shakers Makers'.  The Redwood Plan is also a local Seattle band fronted by a very energetic Lesli Wood aka Ms. Led.  She does a very interesting form of step aerobics while singing and takes breaks to play the synth.  The reason I have heard of them before is because their song ‘Movers Shakers Makers’ was a KEXP Song of the Day back in August 2008.  I think that song even made my CD for tunes I was listening to that month.  In the past, they’ve played the Capitol Hill Block Party, Bumbershoot, and Austin’s SXSW.  The reason they were only half great though is because their set was just ok.  Ms. Led’s energy was certainly appreciated but the music didn’t match her intensity. 

Finally, the headliner, Grand Archives, put on a hell of a good show.  A few bands sound exactly like they do on disc.  Band of Horses is the winner when it comes to that, but Grand Archives is on that list as well because somehow they can replicate their complex harmonies in front of a crowd.  Perhaps this is because lead vocalist/guitar player Mat Brooke left Band of Horses back in 2006.  They played ‘Sleepdriving’ halfway through the set list and it was even better than the recorded version.  They chose not the play the hard switch in the middle of that song and kept right on with the harmony layers which make that song one of the best songs from the past few years.  One sour note though, they did not play ‘Silver Amongst Gold’.  Kate did not seem to mind since they played her favorite song ‘Oslo Novelist’. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Attack the Block


When aliens touch down a movie screen, it is usually near a desolate desert gas station.  The humans who are charged with confronting it/them are a hearty band of passers-by who had the misfortune to break down there or spend their whole lives there looking for a way out.  A select subset of alien invaders land smack in the middle of New York City or Los Angeles and start annihilating the entire city block by block.  Now, direct to you from the producers of Shaun of the Dead is a location and band of warriors just a bit different from the norm. 
Aliens have invaded a low-rent housing complex in South London complete with Cockney accents!  Who gets the unlucky job of standing between them and the rest of humanity?  A group of teenagers trying to master their mugging skills and just breaking into the drug racket.  Led by their leader Moses and a woman whose role is the ‘always in the wrong place at the wrong time’ girl, the haphazard group takes on the dog/wolf like aliens while the rest of the apartment building seems blissfully ignorant of the fight which is raging outside in the hallways. 
Nick Frost shows up as the actor you will recognize from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but he has a limited role as the building’s resident drug enthusiast.  The girl, Jodie Whittaker, looks exactly like Emily Mortimer.  In fact, I thought it was Emily Mortimer until the end credits.  The kids are all convincing and are supplied with great one-liners.  It would be a hell of a film to combine these South London blokes with the small town kids from Super 8 who join forces to fight yet another thing from the sky.  The aliens here though seem like a script afterthought.  Almost all of the screenwriter’s energy was in the one off gags and witty street banter.  The aliens are dimensionless, unexplored, unexplained, and even when they are directly on the screen, you still can barely see them because they are supposedly the blackest things anyone has ever seen, except for their neon green teeth. 
Attack the Block is worth seeing for its rare location, its above average dialogue, and because you’ll take away some sayings you can use with your friends later such as “Trust” and “Believe”.  Don’t go for the aliens, many other films have done that better, but most films do not match this sophisticated level of mockery.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mariners in the All-Star Game

The leadoff article in today’s Seattle Times sports section is about the All-Star game.  Felix Hernandez and Brandon League made the team and Michael Pineda and Ichiro did not; were they snubbed? 
First off, I’ll tackle the easy one.  Brandon League deserves to be there.  He has 22 saves leading the AL.  This is one more than Mariano Rivera who leads this category every year.  So suit up Leaguer and enjoy yourself, except he might not because his wife is due to give birth any day now.  Second, Hernandez made it for a second year in a row.  True, he has the third most strikeouts in the AL with 124, but I think most of his votes are holdovers from his Cy Young winning effort last season.  He has a 3.35 ERA right now which is astronomical for him and puts him 22nd in the AL and fourth on his own team behind Pineda, Bedard, and Fister.  He is not as dominant as he was last year, but I think the strikeout count is enough to earn him a legitimate spot on the team.
Now for the snubs.  Ichiro was not snubbed (and this is coming from a guy whose fantasy baseball teams are both named Honey Nut Ichiros).  He clearly does not deserve a spot on this team; AL All-Star manager Ron Washington noticeably didn’t add him as a reserve either.  His batting average is hovering around. 270, he is 10th in the league in hits, and tied for fourth in stolen bases.  His RBI count is also a miserly 21 but as the leadoff man he isn’t expected to kill that category.  Ichiro is not playing the same caliber of baseball he has played the last 10 years.  Good on the voters for not voting him in as they did to Derek Jeter who deserves a spot even less than Ichiro does. 
Michael Pineda.  He is tied for 12th in strikeouts with 99 which is impressive for a rookie, but does not automatically guarantee you a spot.  Helping his case is a low 2.65 ERA which is better than both David Price and C.J. Wilson who both made the team.  His strikeout count only supersedes Josh Beckett’s.  I don’t count wins as an All-Star arbiter.  That category does not reflect the pitcher, but the offense behind him, just ask Doug Fister.  So was Michael Pineda snubbed?  Not really.  There is a case to be made for him and one against.  He could have easily been picked over C.J. Wilson and David Price, but they have better numbers than him in some categories.  So, keep it up Michael and you’ll see action next year. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mune 2011

May was a relatively weak month for good tunes so this new tranche of songs are what I was listening to for May/June, hence, Mune.

1 - Beastie Boys - Make Some Noise - the lead off single from their new album Hot Sauce Committee Part 2; one of their most danceable beats ever.
2 - Daft Punk - End of Line (Tron: Legacy Soundtrack) - the best part of the movie Tron: Legacy were the 24 tracks Daft Punk put together for the soundtrack.

3 - The Kills - Nail in My Coffin - Saw them play at Showbox at the Market in May and they didn't play this song.  It was still a great show, but I was very surprised they left off the second single from Blood Pressures.
4 - Nicki Minaj - Super Bass - the rhymes are not as good as Moment 4 Life but the chorus is a hell of a lot better.  It also is a welcome relief from garbage like Did It On'Em and Roman's Revenge. 
5 - tUnE-yArDs - Gangsta - much better than the first single 'Bizness'.  Definitely an acquired taste.
6 - Lady Gaga - Judas - Born This Way is a complete rip-off of Express Yourself and the other singles we're hearing from this album right now (Edge of Glory, Hair, You and I) pale in comparison to the juggernaut which is Judas. 
7 - Art Brut - Lost Weekend - I haven't heard this band since 2007 when they released the great song 'Formed a Band'.  They are an English-German indie band based in Berlin and this is the lead off single from their new album Brilliant Tragic.   
8 - Handsome Furs - What About Us - Here is a Sub Pop band from Montreal comprised of one of the dudes from Wolf Parade.  This tune is the great lead off single from the new album Sound Kapital.

9 - Metric - Eclipse -  This is a 2009 song from the amazing Canadian indie band Metric.  Lead singer Emily Haines has an angelic voice on this song as well as 'Black Sheep' and 'Gold, Guns, Girls'. 
10 - Elliott BROOD - Northern Air - these guys are a three piece alt-country from Canada.  Hmmm...lots of Canadians on this iteration of songs.
11 - Stornoway - Zorbing -  Saw these guys at the Triple Door early this month and I went in completely blind without knowing anything about them.  Well, they're a British alternative indie folk rock band from Oxford and Zorbing is a great song.
12 - My Morning Jacket - Holdin' on to Black Metal - the lead-off single from the new album Circuital.
13 - Panda Bear - Last Night at the Jetty - solo project from the front-man of Animal Collective.  Experimental is a decent defining word for this album, but bravo to this song. 
14 - TV on the Radio - Will Do - this Brooklyn band released another awesome album with Nine Types of Light and Will Do is the best song on it.
15 - Bibio - Take off your Shirt - I know absolutely nothing about this band of where they're from or if they are new or have been around awhile; but there is some quality guitar in this song.
16 - Pitbull feat. Chris Brown - International Love - Thank God he's not shilling for Kodak in this song as well.  This song is nowhere near the most popular song which has been released from his current album, but it's the best.
17 - Katy Perry - Last Friday Night - I think this is the only Katy Perry song I have ever really liked.  I would have liked to have been at the party.
18 - Sims - Burn it Down - I don't know anything about this hip-hopper except that he made a really good tune here.
19 - Hooray for Earth - No Love - probably the weakest song on here but worth a listen.