Tag Archives: Local Natives

Ben’s Top Ten of ’10

18 Dec

10. Girl Talk – All Day

The first day I ever heard about Girl Talk was also the first day I saw him in concert. My friend said I should tag along for a free show on campus at University of Colorado. I had no clue what to expect, but halfway through his set when he put The Band’s “The Weight” against Young Joc, I couldn’t believe my ears. Feed the Animals became my soundtrack for late night study sessions at the library, and for pretty much any other task requiring me to stay motivated. I was worried that maybe I wouldn’t like this album because it would be just the same as the others. Wrong. Yes there’s an underlying formula to his songs, but on All Day Greg Gillis lets really good moments on songs breathe. Some tracks run for a minute or more before he goes off on another exciting tangent. My favorite moment on the album Twista vs. U2’s “With or Without You” and there of dozens of other euphoric moments. Gillis is a master at combining the most climactic parts of songs from markedly different genres into THE MOST EPIC SONG EVER!! Or that’s at least how it sounds. It’s truly incredible how it excites listeners. If anyone understands the magic music has over people, it’s Girl Talk.

9. Surfer Blood – Astrocoast

I don’t care what anyone says, the most popular instrument in the world is the air guitar. It’s portable, easy to play,  and won’t piss off your neighbors at 3am. The trouble with air guitar is finding just the right song to rock out to. Not all songs are created equal (for air guitar). Fortunately for air guitar riff masters around the globe, Surfer Blood is here. Surfer Blood is all about big, fat, meaty riffs and there are no shortage of them on Astrocoast. If you haven’t busted out your imaginary axe by the “Swim” hits you in the face, than you probably should just stick to air piccolo (Yeah Paul Simon!!). Astrocoast is an especially great summer road trip album to put on belt out as you roll on down the highway.

8. Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh

New Amerykah Part One by Ms. Badu was a little too “creative” for my taste. “Honey” is my favorite song off that album, and I think it’s technically a bonus song. Ankh finds Erykah getting back to a sound more reminiscent of Mama’s Gun, my personal favorite Badu album. “Window Seat” is the stand out track her cool confidence barely fits between two speakers. Erykah is the Queen of Cool and it oozes from her music.  “Umm Hmm” and “Gone, Baby Don’t Be Long” show off Badu’s playful side and it’s apparent she’s enjoying the groove as much as the rest of the band. True to form the album sails off into space with “Out My Mind, Just in Time”. A gloriously vivid 10-minute psychedelic  excursion into Badu’s wondrous musical fantasyland. Return of the Ankh  is a reminder of Ms. Badu’s immense talent.

7. Big Boi – Sir Luscious Left Foot The Son of Chico Dusty

Like many  people who grew up watching MTV up in the  suburbs until recently if I heard the name Outkast my brain automatically pulled up an image of Andre 3000 doing some cool dance while prancing around in some fantastically absurd outfit. As for the other guy? Uhhh. My first real exposure to Big Boi took place in a dorm room in Tel Aviv. My friend put on “SpottieOttieDopalscious” and I was introduced Big Boi’s lyrical dexterity and oblique metaphors with one of my favorite stanzas to date.

When I first met my Spottieottiedopaliscious Angel/I can remember that damn thing like yesterday
The way she moved reminded me of a Brown Stallionhorse with skates on/smooth like a hot comb on nappy ass hair
I walked up on her & was almost paralyzed/her neck was smelling sweeter than a plate of yams with extra syrup

Sir Lucsious Left Foot is packed with fat beats, and Boi’s impeccable world play. He sounds like he’s having the time of his life letting his Southern drawl meander over multiple layers of  rhythms. “Shutterbug” is the automatic choice for best club banger yes, yes, but my favorite is “Tangerine” and it’s sultry simmer. Big Boi revisits some classic G-funk and dirty South sounds and revamps them proving that slick rhymes and good beats outlasts crazy costumes.

6. Vampire Weekend – Contra

Because of Vampire Weekend’s prominent status, I really didn’t want to like this album. I gave it a listen after their self titled LP managed to win my ears over. So naturally, I gave Contra a spin.  After listening to the album twice, I found myself singing  the opening lines of “Horchata”  (In December drinking horchata/I’d look psychotic in a balaclava) without even really wanting too. Damn you Ezra and your infectiously witty and too cute for their own good lyrics. The album picks up where their debut left off, but the new batch of songs sound more mature, and polished.  Meaning more synths, less freewheeling guitar riffs. I’m never a fan off reducing guitar parts, however I’ll let it slide this time.

5. Tame Impala – Innerspeaker

One of my main gripes against indie rock is the lack of guitar solos and extended instrumentals. Most bands these days are more concerned with writing a slick 3 minute single with witty than just letting loose a long lengthy instrumental excursion. Not Tame Impala. These guy sound like they dropped out of the late ’60s/70’s still dripping in LSD. But unlike other modern psychedelic rock outfits Tame Impala sound fresh and inspired. It’s hard not to get lost in all  the swirling layers of sound and soaring vocals of frontman Kevin Parker. With all the Afro-chamber-pop going on in the indie scene it’s refreshing to hear a new take on old sounds.

4. The Drums – The Drums

I discovered the drums by accident when I saw them co-headline with Surfer Blood. These guys are just plain fun and their songs will make you move. If you’re looking for some new music that brings back 80’s nostalgia, this is your band. The Drums cruise their first six songs before finally slowing things down a bit with the show stopper “Down By the Water”. Singer Johnathon Pierce is the life of the party as he croons as his best friend dying, his significant other trying to kill him, and of course going surfing all in a convincing fashion. The album has genuinely  cool vibe, and it feels like you’ve been invited to best party in town while listening.

3.Twin Sister – Color Your Life

It’s technically their EP but I don’t care. Twin Sister have won me over with their quirky style of indie-pop. They have an ear for a catchy melodies yet aren’t afraid to let a song morph into something completely different by the end. Singer Andrea Estella has a charm all of her own and her unique style fits beautifully with the often bizarre melodic turns the group takes. Whether it’s creating a chill, laid back vibe, or a sunny dance track, establishing moods is Twin Sister’s specialty. My favorite song on the album is “Phenomenons” which I’ve listened to an obscene amount of times. The song simply floats and it’s and Estella’s droll lyrics and similes about dirigibles are spellbinding. It’s hard not to turn the ear away once the song starts. A very strong outing by one of my new favorite groups, I’m already looking forward to their next album, or live show which ever comes first.

2. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

Halcyon Digest is a beautiful album. It effortlessly flows from start to a graceful close at a steady pace with None of the tempos exceeding a gentle nod. The songs blend so well together its hard to point to just one or two stand out tracks. That’s because this album is one that needs to be consumed as whole, not broken up into singular songs. Singer/Guitarist Bradford Cox’s voice drifts around the album drenched in reverb and his delivery, the way he purposefully confuses the words “and i’ll pray for you…me” on “Helicopter”, are captivating. The guitar textures created on the album are stunning as well and set the mood of every song as much as the chords being played. Simply put, Halcyon Digest is a flawlessly executed album that’s good to the last drop.

1. Local Natives – Gorilla Manor

Musically speaking, the Local natives were the biggest surprise for me all year. They stole my heart with their stellar live show and since then I’ve listened to Gorilla Manor relentlessly. The album is so rich in detail that every listen exposes a new vocal harmony or drum beat. Vocals and rhythms are front and center for the entire album as they are what really drive every song. Imagine listening to World News if it was a solo acoustic guitar and one voice. Borrrinnggg. But add in a pounding kick drum, everyone in the band’s voice, a touch of synth and you have a gem. Local Natives know how to take a simple melody hammer into the listeners ear so the final chorus everyone can sing along. Check out “Who Knows Who Cares”, for a sample. One of the qualms I’ve had about indie music is the lack of musicianship some bands displays. It’s all about the song man! Local Natives drummer Matt Frazier finally shattered that claim for me with his playing style that is reminiscent of Keith Moon. For those of you who don’t know The Who are my favorite rock band of all time so I do not make this comparison lightly. Frazier drums like a mad man and though his his kit is substantially smaller than the behemoth Moon’s played at the end of his life, Frazier’s frenzied flaying(had to do it) makes it sounds much larger. Listen to “Shape Shifter” then “I Need You” by the Who to see how eerily alike these two play. From start to finish Gorilla Manor is a fantastic example of what great songwriting and superb musicality can accomplish.


Bands I’m Grooving To

2 Nov

I am a great fan of music, all types. But I’ve mostly kept a steady rotation of classic rock going on my iTunes for the past few years. Recently however, I have been listening to a lot of artists that are dumped into the utterly nondescript label indie-rock. Over the last two months I have gone to various shows based solely on my friend Cody’s recommendation. Most of these artists were completely unknown to me and I knew nothing about their sound. This has been a refreshing introduction to new music for me and shown me that there is some really cool music being made right now.

The first show my friend took me to see was Local Natives. And to be honest, I mostly went because my other friend JJ said he would go. Not so much because of Cody’s praise that “they are a really hot indie band”. I was skeptical, but agreed to come. Aside from switching permanently to two ply toilet paper, I don’t think I’ve made a better decision in the last year.

Local Natives rocking my face @ the Fox Theater September 28th 2010

Local Natives rocked my face. Pure and simple. From the moment they started their set with “Camera Talk” until they blew the roof off the Fox Theater with the anthemic finish of “Who Knows Who Cares”, I was completely enamored with their performance. They were tight,  had an amazingly clean sound, and they looked thrilled to be there playing for us. I have been listening to their album Gorilla Manor almost nonstop since that show in September and pining to see them live again. The album is so choice. If you have the means I highly recommend picking one up. But it’s even better catch them live! These guys are hot and my show was SOLD OUT. This show was important to me at least, because it finally turned me into an “indie-rock” fan.

The next show I attended was Surfer Blood co-headlining with The Drums on 10/10/2010, pretty rad. I was already familiar with and digging Surfer Blood’s debut album Astro Coast thanks to my new infatuation with the indie scene. However this was the first of two shows  I have seen at the beautiful Bluebird Theater in Denver, where the opener stole the show.

The Drums played first and appeared on the stage amid copious amounts of fog and a Kraftwerk song. After some test strums and random drum hits, they launched right into “It Will All End In Tears” and won me over almost instantly. They have a distinctly 1980s sound, to my ears, with bouncy beats, desperately romantic lyrics and sweeping choruses.

The Drums killing it at the Bluebird.

They really reminded me of the Smiths, and I really love the Smiths. Aside from The Drums already fun and incredibly danceable music their singer Jonathan Pierce was a show stopper. His presence just dominated the stage as he roamed around with ease, exerting a cool confidence need to deliver lines like “You were my best friend/then you died”. My favorite songs were “Me and the Moon” and “Book of Stories”. Warning: when the chorus to “Book of Stories” drops you may start flailing around uncontrollably. At least I do. Check out these guys self-titled release especially if you’re looking for a really solid dance party album.

While Surfer Blood put on a solid show with some killer bubble machines the Drums were just more fun, partly because they seemed cooler. Just sayin’.

Surfer Blood: Swim To Reach the End!

The last show I’ll rant about  was The Morning Benders with Twin Sister opening which was also at the Bluebird Theater. I had never heard the music of either these bands prior to this show but I went with the impression that I would be more into the Morning Benders. Wrong.

Twin Sister came on after some “meh” opener and the five piece from Long Izzy started playing “The Other Side of Your Face” from their LP Color Your Life. Absolutely fantastic. The only word that I comes to mind to describe Twin Sister’s music is atmosphere. From the opening few minutes of their first song it was clear these guys have a knack for creating beautiful melodies and expansive songs that gradually shift emotions. I’ll post a review of the album later. The band’s lead singer Andrea Estella charmed the hell out of me with her big eyes, breathy singing style and quirky pronunciation.

Twin Sister

After starting with two slow-middle paced, moody, and at times down right trippy songs, the band gradually switched gears and ended with three songs that brought the crowd from a slow gentle sway to a foot stompin’ frenzy.  “All Around and Away We Go“, then a cover song (which i’m still trying to find the title of) that got the crowd dancing like crazy. And finally they closed with their delightfully floaty and insanely catchy song “Phenomenons” which I have played according to iTunes 21 times since I saw them a week ago. Twin Sister caught me completely off guard and made me a fan. Check these guys out here.

These guys need to drink more red bull before performing.

As for the Benders? They have great sounding songs but they played mostly slow, low energy  tunes. The guys just seemed stiff on stage and their bass player looked downright bored. Even when their front man Christopher Chu would introduce a “dance” song (and there were only two) they felt remarkably tame and vapid after the aural onslaught of Twin Sister. Needless to say we exited before their encore and bought Color Your World on vinyl before heading back to Boulder.

I’ll do these more regularly so they aren’t so long.  Enjoy.