Ida Maria | Mercury Lounge + Union Hall | 1.15.2009 + 1.16.2009

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Idamaria_UH

Ida Maria's songs are little vignettes and she's a total method actor. On songs like "Louie" and "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked," she's brimming with infectious joy; but with "Drive Away My Heart" and "Stella" she's accessing some dark memories and ripping her guts out on stage for all to see.. And on "Queen of the World" it's joyously drunken until things get a little too soused and the melancholy sets in. But whichever mood the song's in she lives it. By the end of her 30-minute set each night she was soaking wet (via a water bottle), lipstick-smeared and emotionally drained. The sets may seem short on paper, but we were joking after the Mercury Lounge show that if she did any more she might die. You know, for her art.

Last time Ida played NYC, during CMJ 2007, there was a crowd of about 15 but that was before she'd officially released anything. This time, with her debut Fortress Round My Heart already a hit in the UK, both shows were way sold out — I don't think I'd seen Mercury Lounge that packed since the Arctic Monkeys. This was probably, technically, the better show of the two. The crowd was amped, and Ida wore a gold flapper dress and burned like a sparkler until dousing herself with water for the big "Oh My God" finale and everybody I talked to left kind of blown away. "Stella" was especially great.

For the Union Hall show, she wore flannel and corduroy which suits her better, and she was just as intense but her voice was totally shot, singing at least an octave lower than the night before and leaving a lot of the singing (especially the choruses) to the guitarist and bassist of her pro backing band. She also broke a string two songs in and didn't have a second guitar at the ready so she went the total lead singer route for the rest of the show, which isn't a bad thing. The string incident also gave us an extra song — a solo performance of b-side "Going to Hell." Union Hall has an intimacy that Mercury doesn't so there was definitely more of a "connection" with the audience which made up for some of the other shortcomings.

MP3: Ida Maria – Going to hell
(demo)

I also shot video of "Queen of the World":

I left my camera's memory card at home for the Mercury Lounge show but you can see photos  and read reviews at Brooklyn Vegan, Music Snobbery, and the NY Times. Ida's coming back to the States for SXSW which will hopefully include a tour that hits more than just NYC and LA. It should give her time to rest up her voice too so when she's back in March she'll hit us with full force — which might be more than we're ready for.

Soundbites Best of 2008 | Singles, Tracks + EPs

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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.

5. Dizzee Rascal w/ Calvin Harris – Dance Wiv Me (MP3) (Video)
I've never been much of a Dizzee fan, but add Calvin's '80s-style production and you've got a dancefloor killer.

6. Sam Sparro – Black and Gold (Video)
The rest of this album does nothing for me but "Black and Gold"'s glammy throb is irresistible.

7. TV on the Radio – Golden Age (Video)
2008 was the year of Change and TVotR made the perfect soundtrack. This is the sound of hope with a good beat.

8. Sexy Kids – Sisters Are Forever (MP3)
Just try not to bounce 'round the room while listening to this slice of Scottish pop perfection a la Altered Images.

9. Esser – Headlock (MP3) (Video)
Effervescent single, ridiculously catchy, like superballs set free inside a perpetual motion machine… yet loaded with downer lyrics like "I've got a problem, it's called living." Perfect.

10. Summer Cats – Lonely Planet (MP3) (Video)

Like the Rosebuds backed by Stereolab, Australia's Summer Cats put a sunny coat of paint on the krauty VU groove. 

11. Metronomy – A Thing for Me (MP3) (Video)
I could put almost all of Metronomy's Nights Out on this list, but restrained myself at two. Be sure to check out the video to this one.

12. David Byrne & Brian Eno – Strange Overtones (MP3
Too bad the rest of the Byrne/Eno album didn't deliver on the promise of this great single.

13. Sky Larkin – Fossil, I (Video)
Old school indie rock done with vim and vigor by this Leeds, UK trio. Vim and vigor? Really. Just listen to the song. It rocks. 

14. Lykke Li – Little Bit (Video)
Lykke Li's coquettish delivery slightly disguises just how hot this is.

15. Ida Maria – Queen of the World (MP3) (Video)
One of the most joyous songs ever about being smashed on whiskey.

16. MGMT – Kids (Video)
Hate their fashion, hate their friends, hate their rich hippie-ness, but MGMT have some great songs. The hooks are undeniable!

17. Girls – Lust for Life / Morning Light (MP3) (MP3) (Video)
There are too many "Girl" groups right now, but I've got room for San Francisco's shoegaze folk rock wunderkinds. Especially on this double A-side.

18. Animal Collective – Water Curses EP (MP3) (Video)
Animal Collective have finally started to get poppy enough for me to genuine like them. Bring on Merriweather Post Pavillion!

19. Late of the Pier – Heartbeat (MP3) (Video)
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.

26 – 50 after the jump…

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Whiskey Please: Ida Maria Playing NYC in January

Ida Maria writhes on the floor during CMJ 2007
Don't say I didn't tell you. Norwegian firebrand Ida Maria is finally coming back to NYC for two shows, her first since knocking me for a loop when she played CMJ 2007. In the meantime, Ida released her debut, Fortress Around My Heart, which took me a while to warm up to after falling for her demos, and the UK press has become smitten with her. Basically, I think anyone that sees her live becomes smitten. Here's what I wrote back then:

Diminuitive, and dressed in a mint green school marm top, a dark teal leather skirt, purple tights and bright blue boots she looked pixie. But when she strapped on the guitar and opened her mouth, she transformed into a whirling, wailing little powerhouse… pouring every ounce of energy and emotion into her songs to the point where she seemed lost in them some of the time. Mikes were knocked over, drums stumbled into and more than once she dropped to the floor onto her back where she continued to sing and play guitar.

So, seriously, don't miss one of these shows. She won't play anywhere this small again. The first show, January 15 at Mercury Lounge (tickets!), also happens to be my birthday, so come out, see a great show and help me mark another year off the calendar. Or if you can't make that show, she's also playing Union Hall (tickets!) the next night, January 16.  Neither show is sold out yet, but they will. L.A. is getting her before NYC, on Jan. 12-13. Hopefully, Fortress Around My Heart will get a U.S. release date soon. Go see her!

Dates

JAN 12  SPACELAND LOS ANGELES
JAN 13  VIPER ROOM WEST HOLLYWOOD
JAN 15  THE MERCURY LOUNGE NEW YORK
JAN 16  UNION HALL BROOKLYN

New Ida Maria Video: “Stella”

As far as songs about prostitutes go, and there are lots of them ("Roxanne," "When the Sun Goes Down" come to mind immediately), "Stella" is a pretty good one. I’ve been high on Ida Maria since seeing her at CMJ back in October, and actually had video of her performing this song… but Sony/BMG has had it pulled from YouTube for "Copyright Infringement." Oh Well. I wish I could have both of them here on this page to show the difference between them. Her studio recordings so far have been much slicker and slower than how she plays live or than any of the demos that have been floating around.

I’ve got nothing against sonic clarity, but I wonder if these aren’t taking some of the energy out of them — the thing that drew me to her in the first place. Maybe it’s just a case of listening to those so much that I just want the record to sound like them too. (I suffered similarly after falling for Maximo Park’s demos before their first album.) With time I guess I’ll get used to it. She’s getting a LOT of press in the UK, it’s rather amazing how much she’s blown up in less than a year.Here’s another of her demos…

MP3: Ida Maria – Louie

If you’re going to SxSW, I highly recommend you catch one of Ida’s shows — she’s something else. There are two official SxSW shows and hopefully she’ll play some parties as well. And if we’re real lucky, she’ll stop in NYC again on her way to or from, though I haven’t seen anything yet.

Ready for Hot Chip?

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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:

MP3: Hot Chip – Ready for the Floor (Soulwax Dub) (via Distortion Disco)

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:
Madeinthedark

CMJ 2007 Day Four | Ida Maria | Galapagos

Ida_mariaThis year’s CMJ was generally lackluster, from the variety of performers to the performances given by those I did see. But there was at least one wow-worthy show — Norwegian-via-Sweden singer Ida Maria.

I wasn’t all that familiar with her music. I knew her mainly from her duet with Pelle Carlberg on his album In a Nutshell, "I Love You, You Imbecile," which is typically poppy Swedish jangle. But my friend Toby was really high on her and sent some MP3s my way, urging me to go see her. Her new single "Oh My God" is definitely more "rock" than Pelle’s stuff. So I was expecting a pleasant, if sedate show.

Diminuitive, and dressed in a mint green school marm top, a dark teal leather skirt, purple tights and bright blue boots she looked pixie. But when she strapped on the guitar and opened her mouth, she transformed into a whirling, wailing little powerhouse that you could almost compare to early PJ Harvey (more Dry than Rid of Me) though her voice definitely has a certain Bjork-esque quality that is hard to deny. There were about 15 people watching when she first started but soon everyone (maybe another 20) filtered into the back room of Galapagos to watch her.

Idamaria2Ida Maria is a magnetic performer, pouring every ounce of energy and emotion into her songs to the point where she seemed lost in them some of the time. Mikes were knocked over, drums stumbled into and more than once she dropped to the floor onto her back where she continued to sing and play guitar. (About halfway through the show I also noticed her boots were off but I don’t remember her removing them.) And though her presence was intense, it wasn’t all anguish (though there was some of that). You also have songs like "I Like You Better When You’re Naked" that are downright joyous and she beamed throughout that one.

Her band was ace too, skilled players who also got into the act though it was never anyone’s show but Ida’s. The set was average CMJ length, maybe a little more than 30 minutes but it was the only time I really wished anyone that week had played longer.

MP3: Ida Maria – Oh My God

MP3
: Ida Maria – Queen of the World

Ida said her debut album would be out in April. Saturday, was in Williamsburg shooting a video for "Oh My God" with director Andreas Nilsson, the man behind all those creepy Knife and Jose Gonzalez clips. Speaking of…I also shot some video of Ida  doing "Stella & God," though it turned out to be one of her more restrained performances. Still pretty great. Please ignore the annoying early-90s Tony Hawk skate video they insisted on showing behind them throughout.