Saturday, December 20, 2008

Vancouver (and Seattle)'s best concerts in 08

This was a good year for live music in the west coast. So here's the countdown of my favorite concerts this year:

13. Stone Temple Pilots
Very disappointing return of one of the best bands in the 90s. The concert started very good, but later on they screwed up several of the best songs like Sour Girl and played a jazzy-boring 20 min improvisation half way through that made everyone go to sleep. You could really feel how they did it just for easy money. :(

12. Stereo Lab
Good show but I'm not a Stereo Lab fan so I didn't knew any of the songs. Also the chick that sings is kind of shy to be the front lady of a band, so it was kind of cute-funny how she did all the time this shy dance moves. Don't get me wrong, this was a great concert in comparison with STP, hehe. I think I liked more their opening act, a side project of the lead singer of Stereo Lab called Monade. Even though my pal Michelle doesn't belive me, it was like the french version of the Pippettes, hehe. I had a chance to talk with the bass player after they played and she was really nice, I hope they do good with their new album (I'll post my signed copy scan when I hook up my scanner soon)

11. Metric
Very short show, only for this reason I placed it below Foo Fighters. Metric is to me the best current rock band in Canada. As simple as that. The new tracks they premiered at the show from the upcoming album were their best so far IMO. Hurry up and release that album! its been in the works so long it feels like the Chinese Democracy, haha.

10. Foo Fighters
Dave knows how to work his audience. It was a great show with absolutely all the tunes I wanted to hear from them. They had an acoustic set halfway through that was awesome. I loved how he jokes with the crowd a lot, as in the "you guys want more encores? do you think I'm Billy Corgan playing here for 6 hours?"m lol.

9. Reel Big Fish / Less than Jake
Best crowd I've seen in Vancouver. At last there was a good mix between mosh pit and enjoying the music, as always should be. Both bands were awesome, and the 2 opening acts were great too! Lily and I kept joking about feeling like it was 99 all over again :)

8. Video Games Live
Very interesting concept. The video games themes that they played were really good but of course there were a lot missing :) (would have traded Civilization IV theme for Ninja Gaiden anytime). Mario, Zelda, Final Fantasy all rocked as expected, but the surprise of the day was castelvania medley.

7. Oasis
The kings of brit pop in their more dark and deep album tour yet. I love when bands play live before releasing the albums as some kind of warm up and this concert was one of the best out of the 4 times I have seen them before (second perhaps only to their Here and Now tour)

6. B-52's
I wanted to see B 52s sooooo badly and they didn't disapointed. When I grow up I want lily and I to keep rocking like them. Loooooooove Shack!

5. Motley Crue (Crue Fest)
Second time I see Motley Crue and first time I see the complete original line up. Pretty good show as expected with all the heavy metal cliches (lots of satanic stuff, porn and fireworks). Highlights of the gig Tommy Lee asking all the babes in the crowd to flash their boobs and taping it with his camera.

4. Franz Ferdinand
I'm surprised nobody in Vancouver knows them and that they played in such a small venue after 2 very successful albums and the 3rd one coming in just a month. This is one of those bands that even though I had lots of opportunities to watch them live before I never ended up having the time and I regret not doing it earlier. This guys are extremely good musicians both in studio and live. Lots of bonus points to this gig because of the awesome opening act.

3. Kinski
This is how rock should be, as simple as that. I think this was the surprise of the year, I heard the songs of this guys before but I never thought they could create such an amazing vibe on stage. It was kind of hypnotic watching those guys build up the songs from a very trippy delay intro into a modern orchestration of rock sounds. I hope they never sell out like Sonic Youth. Kinski is no doubt one of the best bands out there right now.

2. Goldfrapp
It was hard to place Goldfrapp on the second spot with the amazing voice of Allison and the really good chemistry of her musicians. Her voice is so powerful that I saw people crying during Utopia. If somebody asked me what is the best female voice ever I think I would say it is her. The live versions of the songs are sometimes very different but still sound amazing.

1. Radiohead
I don't think I need to explain why this is the best concert of this year. This are real musicians, not karaoke posers or rocker wannabes like 90% of the current indie, emo and 'rock' current movement. Every song was performed with heart and the bonding between crowd and artists was perfect. I only wish they had done two concerts to watch them twice.

Find more videos like this on w.a.s.t.e. central

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Concert Review Franz Ferdinand at Commodore in Vancouver

Great show to close the year. It was full of excitement from start with the opening band The Evaporators to the last chord of Franz Ferdinand's "this Fire".

The Evaporators shocked me of how good they are. Its by far the best local act I have ever seen in this city. I'm finally proud of Vancouver's rock scene for once. Their show is out of this world, picture a bunch of 40 year old crazy guys dressed up in weird Canadian Maple leaf logos and the lead singer wearing a super hero jumper suit playing some kind of punk-surfer cool funny rock songs while delivering an awesome raw power to the audience. The lead singer is insane, he did the most awesome crowd surfing ever and by the end everybody was so much into their concept that he made everyone kneel down (literary everyone in the venue) and jump several times during the outro of their last song. I really recommend watching them live if you have the chance.

Franz Ferdinand was great as expected. They played a good balance of hits and new songs from their upcoming 3rd album. The new songs showed a lot of potential, I can't wait to hear the studio versions soon. The only thing that sucked was part of the audience. Its becoming common in shows in Vancouver for people to show up that don't give a damn about the band and just want to get high and go wild on the mosh pit during the whole show even during the calm songs (quoting Thom Yorke from this summer's Radiohead concert at UBC Thunderbird stadium: "Calm down guys. This is not fucking Rage against the Machine"). There was several guys who where not even facing the stage half of the show just showing off with their buddies trying to prove they are not half as lame as they are, but what can you do. This world is full of losers :P

We were lucky enough to grab a copy of the track list and a guitar pic. Here are the songs they played last night:

- bite hard
- Michael
- matinee
- live alone
- walk away
- do you want to?
- take me out
- Ulysses
- 40’
- what she came for
- turn it on
- fallen
- outsiders
- this fire

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Subways

I'm not gonna say that this is life changing (like Novo Dahl ;) ) but this band is definitely one of the best rock acts I have heard in a while.

The best way to define this band is as the white stripes (when they played rock and not experimental xylophone sh*t) with a bassist and modern technology for production. Pretty good eh! :P

Butch Vig just discovered too this band and its producing the next album. For everybody that is trapped in the 90s like me (as some friends have suggested lately, lol) this is great news cause it means that we will probably get another amazing sound in the next album just like when we first heard those NIN, Smashing and Nirvana albums 15 years ago.

My favorite Subways album is "All Or Nothing", but "Young for Eternity" is good too (although you can notice the difference of sound between a true indie band and later a little more sold out band).

Friday, May 16, 2008

The new Pippettes

Im not super thrilled about them, but I'll give them a chance. Here's the first official pic from the new pipettes. I still think Gweno is my favorite, although the band will never be the same. But perhaps Im one of the only fans still with faith. We'll see :)

In the meantime you can read Ani pipettes's blog here:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Flight of the Conchords new album!

The 4th best folk duo from New Zeland, Flight of the Conchords, released this week a new album featuring some of the best tracks from season 1 of their tv show. Once again this is another great product from this genius comedian music duo that I totally recommend for everyone!

If you are a hardcore fan like me you'll enjoy the new album cause it features new re-recorded studio versions (and slightly different lyrics in some cases) of the songs we all love, and if you are not a fan then you'll have a really nice surprise while discovering these super funny master pieces.

The new production sounds great and I specially loved the way that "Bowie" (a fun tribute song about how life in space would be for David Bowie) and "Ladies of the World" (a gimmick at seductive music) sound, with some different audio effects for Jemaine's bowie style voice and different outro for both of them. Bowie's new outro was already shown in the credits of the TV episode where they featured the song and was heard in the acoustic live version but it sounds great now that they "stick them" together (it's a hilarious crazy outro that sounds like Bowie's "Let's dance"). I don't know if its just me, or they tuned down a little bit their Kiwi accents (specially "Brit", lol) and now all the songs lyrics sound at least to me more easy to understand.

The song "Robots" (a 60s sci-fi futuristic tale set in the year 2000 where robots rule the world), perhaps their most recognized hit, presents it's 5th version (2 radio versions, 1 live, and the tv show version being the 4th previous ones). I have to admit that I wasn't completely satisfied by this new version, probably because the radio and dvd version have already grown so strong inside my head that is hard to hear a different production with retro videogame synth keyboards, but it's totally forgivable. It is also forgivable that they didn't included a lot of other hits like "Frodo" and "Albi the racist dragon" and specially "Who likes to Rock the Party?", although in the case of the first one they probably would face some copyright infringements from using the lord of the rings characters and movie lines in the super funny song. Anyway this is a must have for everyone who likes to laugh. I can't wait for some new material (when is the second season coming?), hopefully our friend Michel will record some live video if new songs are featured in the upcoming San Francisco live show.

Blind Melon: For My Friends

I was really surprised to hear that a new Blind Melon album was being released this month. I though that as usual the surviving members would try to exploit once more Shannon Hoon's geniality and release another live, greatest hits, or bsides and rare tracks compilation. Little did I realize that this time the guys tried to squeeze the juice out of Blind Melon way beyond their usual greediness.

The new album has a set of totally new songs with a new singer, some guy called Travis Warren, which although states in several interviews that wants to experiment new things, just sticks to trying to emulate Shannon's voice as close as possible. It is really painful to hear this album, it reminds you of how much the world lost with Shannon's dead and how tribute cover bands should be banned all over the world. I guess they where motivated by similar attempts from bands like Alice in Chains and Queen to try to come back with a new singer and exploiting fan's innocent devotion to their legendary names. But can't you understand that somethings should never come back cause they just ruin all the fun that the original real thing was?

The album is so bad that I couldn't even enjoy it if they had shown a little more sense and released this as a totally new band or some superband line up ala Velvet Revolver. I just hope I'm able to warn as many people as possible of doing the same mistake I did of giving them a shot. Legendary bands should be left in their god-like status for the posterity of the human race.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

De Novo Dahl

Is not common for me to listen to "happy" music (mostly because most happy music out there is kind of stupid, not as complex as the music that depressive introspective artists like Radiohead, Nirvana or Portishead create) but lately I have been hooked up to a new band called De Novo Dahl that has a very interesting sound and I dare to say, just released the best new album I have heard in all 2008 so far, "Move Every Muscle, Make Every Sound".

Some people say they sound like The Flaming Lips or Super Furry Animals but I think they have a very unique fresh sound of their own. I first heard this band last year when they where opening for Hot Hot Heat at Vancouver's Commodore and I think they stole the show. Their concept of retro "chessy" coordinated suits works really well, it is nice to see a band that actually puts some effort into the visual aspect for a change. The mix of male and female voices in every song between the parts that Joel J. Dahl and Serai Zaffiro sing is done really cool, they absolutely complete each other. Serai voice changes a lot from song to song, sometimes just doing disco type back vocals, sometimes kind of shouting back vocals and sometimes doing more lead like parts. The songs have a really rich sound, is not like those bands that you listen to one song and you already know how the whole set will be like, they add interesting elements to every song.

My favorite songs are Be Your Man, Wishful Thinking, Subject of the Kill, Sky is Falling, Heartbreaker and Shout (although I loved all the songs). If I remember correctly I think they started the set with Be Your Man, which sounds awesome on the studio version. This is a very high energy song that, I have to admit, reminds me of the Super Furry Animals, but was an excellent pick for the live set since everybody started dancing like crazy. Wishful Thinking is a little less rocker and more pop, but this is not a bad thing, they create a really melancholic atmosphere in this song with the synths (played by Moose Hungate) and Serai's voice which is like an angel singing thanks to the studio magic. Subject of the Kill has a killer bass line played by Keith Lowen. Sky is Falling is another one I can remember from the live set, and I think the best way to describe it is like the pipettes on drugs, they even had a little coordinated dance moves during the sticky chorus where there's a little bit of silence gaps between each word they sing("this-is-such-a-complicated-si-tu-a-tion!). Finally Shout and Heartbreaker are the songs with which the album begins and the ones that represent the Novo Dahl concept the best. Shout is an excellent pick as first single. I think Heartbreaker is a newer song cause I don't remember that one from the live set and when I first heard it in the album I was a shocked of how good it is and I think should be picked as the second single definitely.

My only two complains are the name of the band and the first video. The name is so hard to pick up, not only is really hard to remember it but it's also hard to pronounce, damn it, I don't even know if I am saying it correctly, let alone I don't even know what it means (although I assume the lead vocal is a little self centered and loves his last name so he called the band, the new Dahl in some weird language or something). I guess I'm lucky to have a good memory else I wouldn't have followed up these guys who try to make it hard for people to be fans! lol. The video I have to admit that I have only watched the preview available on itunes, but it looks kind of amateurish for their level of quality, and specially since they seem to take a long time to plan the visual aspect of the band.

I hope De Novo Dahl popularity grows, it is refreshing to see good original bands and it would be great if all their hard effort into having a strong concept gets compensated with the perks of the music industry, fame and fortune :P

Friday, April 18, 2008

Macross Frontier episode 1 and 2

The Macross saga returns with a new series called Macross Frontier. For all of those not familiar with Macross from the 80s, it is one of the most influential Anime's of all times, it is the story of how humans in the future advance technologically when they find a super dimetional alien fortress that crashes in planet earth and later get involved in a war against a race of giant aliens called the Zentraedi, which they win barely thanks to the cultural shock of aliens discovering the pleasure of music in Min May's voice. The sequels follow more or less the formula of the first one, intergalactic battles, love triangles between the main characters and some really awesome singer that influences the wars with her song's.

Episode 1 starts with the story of how after the wars against the Zentraedi humanity is expanding across the universe and a colonization mission light years away from earth is "Frontier".

The main characters are presented and seem to be very similar to the ones in the first series:
Alto, a cool guy that is a pilot wannabe; Sheryl, a very famous futuristic singer; Ranka, a cute waitress that is Sheryl's fan. Sheryl performs a concert where Alto is part of the act by using some kind of flying suit that helps him do aeroacrobatics. Ranka is part of the audience and Alto tries to impress her causing an accident that almost interrupts Sheryl concert. In the meantime there's a battle in space outside Frontier against some strange robotic aliens. The alien foes break throught the army's hold and enter the city. The concert is stopped by an emergency transmission informing that everybody should hide and during the commotion Ranka is in danger by the attack of one of the aliens, a soldier in a VF-25 robot armor tries to defend her but is killed and Alto jumps into the VF-25 to defend Ranka.

The second episode takes where the first one ends and Alto tries to destroy Rankas attacker without success. Luckily, Ranka's brother who is another VF pilot is close and comes to help. He fires some heavy missiles to the alien causing him to get distracted, while Alto takes Ranka away to get her safe. The attack continues and causes Alto to increase altitude to get to away from all the shooting, but his VF-25 arm is severed, the one where he was holding Ranka, and he has to rush to try to save her, he opens the cockpit and jumps out to grab her as he is still wearing his flying suit. He barely makes it back on time since they where in the edge of the stratosphere entering outer space zero gravity. Alto finally places Ranka on a safe spot and runs away.

After all the aliens mysteriously retract everything goes back to normal, and Ranka keeps daydreaming about his savior while Alto is in school taking classes as if nothing ever happened. The military abducts Alto to force him to join their forces but Ranka's brother interrupts them and takes him to his mercenary base to explain to him that the guy that was killed in the battle and which VF-25 Alto used was part of his team. Suddenly a new battle starts and the mercenaries fly away to defend again. In the meantime Sheryl posing as a regular girl is looking all over the city for Alto since she seems to have fallen in love with hime just like Ranka during her concert's accident where he saved her. Sheryl seems to be very spoiled since she doesn't even know how to find an address on her own. She runs into Ranka and asks her for help. When Ranka finally takes her to the military base where Sheryl was going to look for information on Alto's wherabouts Sheryl reveals her true personalty to Ranka and starts singing. Alto is attracted by her voice and finds both of them and before anybody can say a thing an alien from the new battle that just started is quickly flying their way without warning. This is the end of episode 2!

So far this has been an excellent Anime. I feel they are ripping off a little too much from the original one (which feels weird after the instance of Macross, Macross Zero was a totally different story from all we have seen before), but I have faith that the story will take a life of it's own starting from the next episode (it was specially obvious how much they take elements from the first one when they did a scene by scene reproduction of the VF mid air open cockpit saving of Ranka/Min May). The opening song is out of this world, I really like it, and the music during the episodes is fantastic as well, another great job from Yoko Kanno. Last but not least this is one of the first Anime's where I don't feel the CGI forced, it blends very naturally into the traditional 2d scenes and it makes the fighting scenes look amazing.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Elfen Lied, the best anime I have seen in years

There was a time when I was a hardcore fan of anime (otaku if you will), but then there was somehow some decadence in the quality of the shows on 2003 so I stopped watching for a while. Recently I have been trying to catch up with what I have missed since 2004 and that's when I came up with what is possibly the best anime I have ever seen... Elfen Leid!

The show has a perfect mix between really funny stuff and an extremely sad and tragic main plot. You just can't stop feeling sympathy for the main character, Lucy/Nyu, although she is a massive sanguinary killer. The soundtrack is amazing, is like right from the opening it's art, not just another forgetable tv show. They don't follow old tired formulas, they kill even people you thought where going to be important for the plot. The animation needless to say is outstanding, you will feel guilty of enjoying so much the massacres, but it's like watching Giger's art, it can be brutal at some points but it's still beautiful somehow.

The only flaw of the show is that it's too short, only 13 episodes long. I heard the manga is way longer and has an alternative set of events. I hope I can get to check it out soon.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Flight of the Conchords

Thanks to Michel I was lucky enough to watch the best new comedy TV series that have come out in the last few years, Flight of the Conchords. This show is about a couple of New Zeland geeks that have a really cool indie folk band and immigrate to the US to find how complicated it is not only to get gigs and make it big on the music industry, but also to date. The show includes in every episode an awesome musical related to plot that will make you laugh like never before (just watch the "bowie is in space" song or the "Robot song" with the binary solo and you'll know what I'm talking about).

The DVD with the whole 1st season is only 25 bucks so I couldn't let this masterpiece of comedy go by without including it to my collection. I'm surprised how underestimated this show has been, there is really not much info around on the internet, but the cool thing is that there is some kind of underground cult going around this show. I hope the second season of Flight of the Conchords gets released soon, I can hardly wait for more songs from these guys.