I know that when most who think about me actually think of me, three words pop into their heads: Prince Rogers Nelson. Which is why I'm DJing this "Prince Themed" party at Bruar Falls this afternoon from 5 – 8PM. The party goes all night, with bands doing Prince covers and then drunken midi karaoke. I will be playing a mix of actual Prince songs, bands from the Paisley Park stable, cover versions and stuff I deem Prince-esque. Plus, general '80s music probably. Three hours is a long time. If you're artistically inclined, there's a drawing party for the next issue of in-house 'zine TOOT. More info here. Free BBQ. It's all free, actually. Except the booze.
This year could be for Hot Chip what 2009 was for Phoenix: one where a band who've grown steadily more popular over the years release their fourth album and officially blow up. That's the feeling I got from the band's show at Music Hall of Williamsburg where the band had the sold-out crowd going bonkers the entire set. And the crowd wasn't just too-cool hipsters, either. (Though they were in full effect.) There are plenty of "normal" folks too, young and not-so-young. Everyone was dancing, sweating, singing along to every song. The positive vibes were definitely felt by Alexis, Joe and the rest of Hot Chip who pretty much beamed the whole show, especially guitarist Al Doyle who also rocked the steel drum on a few songs and seems to relish playing in two of the best dance bands in the world. (He's also a member of LCD Soundystem.) This was my seventh or eighth time seeing Hot Chip and without a doubt it was the best I'd ever seen them — by a mile.
We got about half of Hot Chip's great, new, gushingly romantic album One Life Stand as well as a smattering of songs from Made in the Dark and The Warning. (Don't think we got anything from Coming on Strong but I could be wrong about that.) Perhaps realizing this was a Saturday night crowd, apart from new number "Slush" in the encore they left the ballads at home. With a touring drummer now added to the mix, band both Doyle and singer Alexis Taylor playing additional percussion, all the songs have a little more oomph. Hot Chip always seeming to be changing the arrangements of their songs: "Boy From School" becoming a full-on dancefloor rager; "Ready for the Floor" has become such a better song I almost wish they'd rerecord it; and new track "We Have Love," spare in it's recorded version, sends the crowd into ecstasy; "Hold On" rocks harder. One Life Stand's "I Feel Better" still sounds like "La Isla Bonita" but still has the crowd (including Les Savvy Fav's Tim Harrington, a row behind me, singing all the words) going mental.
And there is no stopping "Over and Over," sending the crowd over the edge into undulating hysterics, like when the killer in Perfume finally releases his perfect fragrance on an unsuspecting crowd. At the end of the song, I found myself a good 20 feet to the left of where I was standing at the start of the song. I'm not sure how that happened, but I still had all my clothes on at the end, so I'm not too worried about it. It may only be February, but it's gonna be hard to knock this show out of my Best of 2010 show list. MP3: Hot Chip – One Life Stand Best New Music recipientOne Life Standis out tomorrow on Astralwerks/DFA. The band will be back in April playing Terminal 5 with The XX and tickets are still available for the 4/23 show. Openers The French Horn Rebellion are a lot of fun, sort of the white nerd version of Chromeo with a bit of comedy team in there too. Siblings Robert and David Perlick Molinari (here with help from Savoir Adore's Paul and Diedre) maybe try a bit too hard in the yuks department, but when they actually get around to playing songs (like their killer single "Up All Night") you can't really argue with the grooves and hooks. They've got the studio skills, and will have their live show figured out soon, so watch out. Download a free EP's worth of tracks here. Also in attendance: Cameron and Abbey of 'Sup who I braved the front of the crowd with for most of the night and have much better pictures than I do. A couple more grainy shots after the jump…
So here's my list of best singles, album tracks, and EPs from 2008. Unlike my Best Albums List, songs that were from a 2007 album but were released as singles in 2008 are eligible. But single reissues are not. (Which is why "Time to Pretend," Friendly Fires and Pacific are absent from my list.) With the concept of the "album" diminishing in this world of digital downloads, singles are becoming more important. I'm not calling the death knell for the Album, but if groups whose music leans toward the poppy and immediate side of things wanted to just release singles or EPs every couple months instead of a full-length, I'd be okay with it. As I've said before singles are ephemeral in nature, and though I've hit my yearly limit on a few of the songs on this list, there was certainly a period of time in 2008 where all 50 of these were stuck on repeat.
1. Mystery Jets feat. Laura Marling – Young Love (MP3) (Video) The most inventive, deceptively simple (but actually kind of crazy complex; listen to all the little flourishes), repeatedly-rewarding pop song of the year. Great video too.
2. Metronomy – Heartbreaker (MP3) (Video) Fantastic bassline + creaky doors + whistling = my second favorite song of the year.
3. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Everything With You (MP3) (Video) A great big hug wrapped in a fuzzy indie pop sweater.
4. Violens – Violent Sensation Descends (MP3) Loud Quiet Loud as has never quite been done like this before. I can't wait for their full-length.
One of the many "this shouldn't work" songs on LotP's great debut Fantasy Black Channel. Yet it does, brilliantly.
20. Vivian Girls – Tell the World (MP3) (Video) Every time these girls open their mouths to the press, it's a disaster, but give 'em instruments and hard
to hold it against them. So many things in that sentence could be construed the wrong way.
21. Casiokids – Grønt Lys I Alle Ledd / Togens Hule (MP3) (Video)
You don't need to speak Norwegian to dig this double A-side. I imagine it would help, though. But not that much.
22. The Last Shadow Puppets – Standing Next to Me (MP3) (Video) Alex Turner and Miles Kane seem a little young to already be going through their Jacques Brel/Scott Walker period, but that's also probably why it's as good as it is.
23. The Wild Beasts – The Devil's Crayon (MP3) (Video) Not since the days of the Associates and the Triffids has pop attempted to be so grandiose… and successful at it. I must say I can't really stomach the resto of them album, but but "The Devil's Crayon" is a bullseye.
24. Adele – Cold Shoulder (Video) I'll take Adele over Duffy any day… "Cold Shoulder" perfectly-produced soulful pop. Ronson-produced, natch.
25. Amazing Baby – Infinite Fucking Cross EP (download EP) (Video + Video) Hated by Brooklynvegan commenters, loved by me. Harder, more-rocking Roxy Music? About as close to a good description as you can get with there pigeonhole-adverse Williamsburg residents.
Sometimes I feel like write too much about Hot Chip. (Maybe I just don’t write enough about other artists is the problem.) But then they play a show like this and I know, at least in the case of this band, it’s justified. Hot Chip absolutely killed it last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg. There’s a special place in my heart for the Bowery Ballroom show in March ’06 where Pat Mahoney played drums, subbing for an ill Felix, but this was easily the best full-lineup show I’ve ever seen them play.
It’s been interesting watching the band evolve over the last three years, both on record and live. I don’t think they’ve ever played the same song the same way twice. "Boy From School" seems to get the most radical reworkings, which last night segued seamlessly out of show-opener "Shake a Fist." They use different synth sounds and percussion, while keeping the little guitar riff that is the song’s pulse as a constant. I think they just get bored and fiddle with the arrangements and it keeps things fresh for us too.
The main set was a nonstop dance party, with the bulk of Made in the Dark plus "Boy from School," and "Over and Over" from The Warning, plus a welcome but unexpected "Crap Kraft Dinner," my favorite from Coming on Strong. The sound was great (I don’t understand the MHOW haters) and the crowd super-psyched, as was the band. Al especially, who’d spent the afternoon in a pub watching Liverpool beat Arsenal. The encore we got the two slow-jams from the new album, plus "Don’t Dance" and a killer "No Fit State" which Alexis managed to work in a bit of "Temptation" (previously worked into "Boy from School" at Webster Hall last summer). As much as I don’t want to see them stop playing venues this size, they are ready for the Terminal 5s of the world.
Setlist: Shake a Fist | Boy from School | Bendable Poseable | Touch Too Much | Over and Over | Out at the Pictures | Wrestlers | Crap Kraft Dinner | One Pure Thought | Ready for the Floor | ENCORE: Made in the Dark | Don’t Dance | No Fit State | In the Privacy of Our Love
Opener Matthew Dear was pretty great too, playing with his band Big Hands. Much more minimal than on his great album from last year, Asa Breed, his live presence was kind of like the souls of David Bowie and David Byrne were trapped in the body of Timothy Hutton. wearing the skinniest jeans ever and a Euro-fitted jacket and shirt, Dear spazzed out with one of the most impressive arrays of hand-held percussions instruments, including at least four different shakers and this clickety-clack thing that I’d never seen before.
Midway through his single "Don and Sherri" he welcomed Hot Chip to the stage and the song morphed into their version of the song which has been appended to a new version of Asa Breed. It was awesome.
The North American leg of Hot Chip‘s Made in the Dark tour kicked off last night in Philly and finds them mostly playing big venues like New York’s 3000-capacity Terminal 5 (where they’ll be on Saturday). When I first saw them three years ago at Rothko I would’ve never imagined they’d be as popular (or as amazing) as they are now. I don’t like the idea of having to see them in such giant places but what can you do? Luckily, they still seem to make time for some smaller places, like tonight’s show at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
For most of this tour the opening slot is going to Free Blood, which is Madeline Day and ex-!!! guy John Pugh. They’ve been around for a few years now, mainly playing here in NYC but this tour is likely to up their national profile. It’s definite party music, but more specifically I’d call it sex party music. Not that I’ve ever been to a sex party, but I’d have to imagine Free Blood’s steamy bump and grind would be a perfect lotion to the motion.
Live, it’s the chemistry between Maddy and John that make it happen as there’s not a lot else going on onstage. John will occasionally strap on a guitar, and those have been the best moments at the last few shows of theirs I’ve been to. (Most recently at Lit about three weeks ago which is where this picture was taken.) Without it, it drifts into karaoke territory — really good karaoke but that’s basically what it is. There has been a gaping hole ever since the exit of bassist Gorman (who is still in !!!) about a year ago, and they need something else "live" to kick it up from Fun to Awesome. The records, though, are pretty much already there. Just in time for this tour, Free Blood released their second EP, with "Grumpy" being doled out to the internets:
4/11/08 @ 9:30 Club in Washington, DC 4/12/08 @ Terminal 5 in New York, NY 4/14/08 @ Paradise in Boston, MA 4/17/08 @ Vic Theatre in Chicago, IL 4/18/08 @ First Avenue in Minneapolis, MN 4/22/08 @ Showbox in Seattle, WA 4/23/08 @ Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR 4/24/08 @ The Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, CA
Tonight’s opener, however, is Matthew Dear, who apparently got his hard drive stolen at Galapagos last night while DJing there. Not sure how that happens, but it sucks. He just reissued last year’s Asa Breed as Asa Breed – The Black Edition (buy) with a bunch of remixes, including a cover version of his single "Don and Sherri" as done by…wait for it… Hot Chip. I like the original plenty, but the ‘Chip’s take on it is great too:
Though Dear DJs a lot, tonight is him with his band, Big Hands, and maybe if we’re lucky we’ll get a Hot Chip or two onstage to join him for "Don and Sherri." He’s on at 9pm, if you’ve got tickets.
And, finally, speaking of Music Hall of Williamsburg… they’ve now got a happy hour. From 6pm till the first band starts, well drinks and draught beers are only $3. Which is nice ’cause there aren’t any other bars to go to beforehand in Williamsburg.
As a live band, Hot Chip just keep getting better. They’ve always been good, favoring playing everything live over laptops, but they’ve just really come into their own. "We’ve added a bass," Al Doyle announced as he held up the instrument to much whooping and hollering from the audience.
Tonight was one of two US show Hot chip were playing around the release of their third album, Made in the Dark, which hits stores Tuesday. They still look like the same dorky guys I first saw at Rothko four years ago, but clearly they are now a full-fledged band — still making the same kind of
music but in a way that is much more exciting to watch. Doyle played guitar or bass the entire time, as did frontman Alexis Taylor. Unless they were rocking the congas.
And they aren’t beholden to the recorded versions. More often than not, the live versions of their songs are vastly different than the ones on their CDs. "Over and Over," which everyone should be thoroughly sick of by this point, has been kept fresh by ever-evolving arrangements. As has "Boy From School" which was stretched out to nearly ten minutes on Saturday. And the Made in the Dark’s title track was turned into a feedback-laden wall of sound before calming to the gentle ballad it is on record. I think I can say this with some certainty — Hot Chip are the best no-drummer live band going today.
The show wasn’t perfect. I thought current single "Ready for the Floor" lacked oomph, and there was some miscommunication near the end of the set — Al was ready to start the final song of the main set ("Don’t Dance") when he realized he was the only one still out there. The audience seemed confused too, as the band never said that was it. And when the band came back for the encore we were shorted a song — my favorite off the new album, "One Pure Thought." (Apparently, drum programmer Felix Martin was quite ill and didn’t soundcheck with the band.) But the highs ("Touch Too Much," "Hold On," the R Kelly-esque slo-jam "Wrestlers") far outweighed the hiccups.
The Highline crowd, clearly in the mood to party, seemed of that opinion too, and just ate up the show. My friend Dorrit, who got elbowed in the face a few times (by the guy in the hat and black and while button-down, below), might disagree but this might be the best I’ve seen them, with the Seaport and March ’06 Bowery show being a close second.
Shake A Fist | Boy From School | Hold On | Wrestlers |Touch Too Much | Over and Over | We’re Looking for a Lot of Love | Out at the Pictures | Bendable Poseable | Ready for the Floor ENCORE: Made in the Dark |
No Fit State
Also, Joe Goddard was on Never Mind the Buzzcocks last week where he squared off against Lightspeed Champion. It’s a funny one, though most of the jokes are at the expense of actor James Nesbitt: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Hot Chip return to the States in April, though unfortunately for New York they’re playing the gigantic Terminal 5.
4/10/08 @ Starlight Ballroom in Philadelphia, PA 4/11/08 @ 9:30 Club in Washington, DC 4/12/08 @ Terminal 5 in New York, NY 4/14/08 @ Paradise in Boston, MA 4/17/08 @ Vic Theatre in Chicago, IL 4/18/08 @ First Avenue in Minneapolis, MN 4/22/08 @ Showbox in Seattle, WA 4/23/08 @ Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR 4/24/08 @ The Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, CA
Hot Chip really like teasing us. About three weeks ago, they added new single "Ready for the Floor" to their MySpace player. But, initially, when you clicked on it, all you got was Alexis Taylor chanting "Do it do it do it do it do it do it do it now." Then every few days it got a bit longer, adding "say it say it say it say it say it say it say it now."
Well, you can finally hear it hear it hear it hear it hear it hear it hear it now. Well, about half of it at least, on their MySpace player or the whole thing on various BBC radio stations. It’s actually going to be reviewed on BBC 6music’s Roundtable tomorrow, which airs at 2PM EST but ut the show is archived so you can listen later. It should be a good show as the guest reviewers include curmudgeon David Quantic and Norwegian soon-to-be-big-deal Ida Maria. They’re also reviewing new singles by Supergrass, Malcolm Middleton and, er, Madness.
I’ve heard "Ready for the Floor" a few times now and think it’s really good, definitely in the "Boy from School" brand of Hot Chip singles. It’s officially out January 28. The SoulWax remix, however, has hit the web:
And now a music video… sort of. They’re up to their old two-faced tricks:
Meanwhile, Headphone Sex went to see them recently and they were giving away a limited edition 7” with two demos/leftovers, which he promptly ripped and posted. They’re both worth checking out, and one of them is basically just Alexis and his guitar.
Hot Chip’s new album, Made in the Dark hits stores February 4 in the UK. Not sure of the American date. Taylor dishes on the new album at their website but we’ve yet to see an official tracklist. The album art, however, looks like this:
Hot Chip are giving away their new song "I Became a Volunteer" if you volunteer a little info. The song, which was on their MySpace page earlier this year, didn’t make the cut for their upcoming, highly-anticipated-by-me third album, Made in the Dark, and this is the only place to get it. Apart from MP3 blogs and P2Ps, of course. But wouldn’t you rather get it this way?
I think I saw upwards of 70 shows this year, some more memorable than others. Some didn’t get written up even though they should’ve (The Young Knives, Battle, Aberfeldy) and others didn’t cause they weren’t worth it (dEUS comes to mind). But these ten were probably the best.
Soulwax + Klaxons | Studio B | 9.21.2006 "Soulwax rival LCD Soundsystem in their ability to
bring electronic music to life in a live setting. Or to put it another
way, they absolutely rocked. (How many ways will I write a variation on
that statement? Read on.) Why did it work so well? A perfect blend of
skill, material, presentation and volume."
Richard Hawley | Sin-é | 3.23.2006 "With a velvety croon, reverbed, twangy guitars and lush orchestration,
his music recalls Jimmy Webb, Scott Walker, Johnny Cash, Burt
Bacharach, and Marty Robbins. That out-of-time quality was reinforced at last night’s show at Sin-é that can be summed up in two words: Pure class."
Cansei de Ser Sexy | Warsaw | 7.20.2006 "The queen of the party, however, was singer Lovefoxxx,
a Bjork-lookalike who jumped around, stripped off clothing, mooned the
audience, jumped into the fray, and generally partied-it-up the entire
New Young Pony Club | Williamsburg White Room | 12.09.2006 "From the catchy-as-hell, extremely danceable songs, to the tight musicianship, to the effortless charisma of spitfire singer Tahita Bulmer,
New Young Pony Club just had their shit together. It was like they were
born fully formed, ready for the big time, and I mean that in the best
Belle & Sebastian | Nokia Theatre | 03.02.2006 "Stuart Murdoch isn’t shy anymore; now quite the cheeky
frontman, dancing, telling jokes, flirting with the audience… but
still forgetting the words. Luckily, Stevie Jackson (looking dapper in a mod-ish suit) knows them all and filled in the missing lines, not missing a beat."
Midlake | Mercury Lounge | 6.20.2006 "There were so many old keyboards, patch-bays, racks of guitars and
other stuff up there the band didn’t really have much room to move. But
they could play. Every member was miked, and the harmonies flowed out
dense and beautiful."
Art Brut + We Are Scientists + The Chalets | Knitting Factory | 5.18.2006 This is as far as I got with this review: "I wish the Knitting Factory did shows like this all the time. Let a band currate an entire evening on both floors…" And so began the SoundBites Blog Blackout of Late Spring 2006. Which is now over, obviously.