That Hard Shell Finish: Summer Fridays 3.4

We're still a few days from it actually being Summer but that is good, as we've got a whole season to look forward to: the oppressive heat and humidity, the crushing disappointment of everything Hollywood has to offer except for Inception, and gallons and gallons more oil into the Gulf. Good times!

On the plus side, this week's cover was done by famed street artist King of the Streets, who is probably the hottest name this side of Mr. Brainwash. As you may remember he's a staunch environmentalist (and suffers crippling agoraphobia), so all graffiti takes place via MS Paint. You can visit that turtle down at the South Street Seaport if you like. Musically, after a couple weeks of dancier fare, the guitars return for Summer Fridays 3.4. Please enjoy: 



  1. The Jameses – Rat People
  2. Blur – Fool's Day
  3. Charlotte Gainsbourg – Trick Pony
  4. La De Das – How is the Air Up There?
  5. The Soft Pack – Pull Out
  6. The Megaphonic Thrift – Talks Like a Weed King
  7. Women – Narrow with the Hall
  8. Jacques Dutronc – Mini, Mini, Mini
  9. Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Gentleman
  10. The Turtles – You Showed Me
  11. Woods – Blood Dries Darker
  12. Love – A House is Not a Motel
  13. The Coral – Butterfly House
  14. The Morning Benders – All Day Daylight
  15. Film School – Waited
  16. Asteroid #4 – Let it Go
  17. Swervedriver – Birds
  18. Bear Quartet – His Spine

Disclaimer: all the songs are actually mixed together, despite being separate tracks so, say it with me, no shuffling! Liner notes after the jump.

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The Soft Pack | Cake Shop | 2.05.2010

 Whenever you see a colorized high-contrast photo on this site, you know it's 'cause I took sucky pictures.  

Folks were just beginning to file downstairs at Cake Shop when the band launched into "C'mon," clearly ready to get on with their Friday night. It was totally a I-won't-do-what-you-tell-me Soft Pack thing to do. The LA band were finishing up a whirlwind tour promoting the release of their debut album, which included 10 shows the previous Saturday in their current hometown and had been going nonstop ever since. Only one show this day in NYC, but it was a late one — doors at midnight — as well as being all-ages and free. Me, I was in the bathroom line when they started but made it down front by the end of the the second song of their 13-number set.

The Soft Pack are a lot of fun to watch: Guitarist Matt McLoughlin has an intense, gnashed-teeth grin on his face the whole time; bassist David Lantzman (whose birthday it was) is all laid back California cool; and stand-up drummer Brian Hill keeps things barrelling along sans hi-hat. And singer Matt Lamkin ties it all together with that low key but we-mean-it-man attitude. We got most of the new album, a few choice cuts from their Muslims days and their almost unrecognizable cover of Phoenix's "Fences." They finish with the storming "Parasites" (the new album's only retread of old material) that makes the most of it's one chord. The song typifies the Soft Pack too. Maybe the parts aren't new, but they play them like they are.

SETLIST: C'Mon | Down On Loving | Answer to Yourself | Extinction | Bright Side | Right and Wrong | Tides of Time | Beside Myself | More or Less | Faith Man | Fences | Pull Out | Parasites 

MP3: The Soft Pack – Pull Out (buy it!)

I think "Pull Out" may be my favorite song on the new album, rivalling "Parasites" for energy and snarl, sort of surf rock via New Zealand. The whole album is good and, apart from "Parasites" (which was just a single) it's all new material. That first EP never really got a proper release so they coulda just reused all those songs for this, which they didn't (and clearly didn't need to) do and you gotta give them credit for that. The Soft Pack will be back in NYC in April with Nodzz, The Beaters and Male Bonding, so don't miss 'em when they're play. Dates are after the jump.

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Buzzy Hat Trick: Friendly Fires, White Lies and Soft Pack Tour Together This Spring

When I saw this triple-bill announced via Bowery Presents RSS feed, my initial thought was "hey, this is just like those 'Brats' tours NME puts on in the UK." And wouldn't you know it, the UK music mag is actually behind this. It's a good idea that has taken surprisingly long to come to these shores: put three up-and-comers together for one big roadshow. One of whom I genuinely love, another of which I genuinely like, and the third… well color me curious.

The Soft Pack back when they were the Muslims
We'll start backwards from how NME is presenting the lineup. Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity know I'm a huge fan of The Soft Pack ("formerly The Muslims," how many times will I have to write that?). I never got around to writing up their show at Union Pool on January 17, mainly because it turned into a giant, insane, drunken dance party (it was my birthday weekend) that took me three days to recover from. But it was easily the best show I'd seen them play (and I've seen them a lot) and I think they're ready for that next step. And it immediately me think the name-change is a non-issue. They played three new songs, all of which were really good. They're also reissuing their debut (my #6 of 2008) with thee extra songs, fleshing it out to proper album length. They're definitely the odd men out on this tour, as the other two are from the UK, slicker, more dance-y.

MP3: The Soft Pack – Parasites

Friendly Fires at Pianos, CMJ 2008
Co-headliners Friendly Fires are quite good too, and have taken cues from Soulwax, Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem as to the proper way to perform dance music in a live setting. (Seen 'em a couple times.) In their case, it involves two drum kits, plenty of agogo, awesomely spazzy dancing, and a dustbuster. Though there was too much previously-released material for it to make any of my 2008 Best-of lists, their self-titled debut is really, really good, and it's hard to argue with tracks like "Paris," "On Board" and their fantastic new single "Skeleton Boy":

MP3: Friendly Fires – Skeleton Boy (Buy it)

WhiteliesAs for White Lies, they are one of the hottest new bands in the UK right now, and as you can probably guess what they sound like just looking at this picture of them. Gothy club music, which as someone who owns his share of Sisters of Mercy records, is not necessarily a bad thing. More specifically they lie somewhere between Editors and The Killers which is not a place I'm exactly comfortable with… at least not in public. (They are better than The Whip who might also fit that description.) "To Lose My Life" is one of those guilty pleasure songs for me, one that you hear the first time and roll your eyes, but you would probably crank in my car if I had one. I will hold judgement till I see them.

MP3: White Lies – Lose My Life (Pre-order from Insound, get a free DVD)

The NME tour hits most major North American cities, including two nights at Bowery Ballroom, tickets are on sale now. Tour dates…

March 24 Washington, DC, Black Cat
March 25 Philadelphia, PA, First Unitarian Church
March 26 NYC, Bowery Ballroom
March 27 NYC, Bowery Ballroom
March 28 Boston, MA, Paradise Rock Club
March 30 Montreal, QUE, Les Saints
March 31 Toronto, ONT, Lee's Palace
April 01 Ann Arbor, MI, Blind Pig
April 02 Indianapolis, IN, Radio Radio
April 03 Chicago, IL, Double Door
April 04 Minneapolis, MN, Triple Rock Social Club
April 07 Seattle, WA, Neumo's
April 08 Vancouver, BC, Richard's on Richards
April 09 Portland, OR, Doug Fir Lounge
April 11 San Francisco, CA, Slims

Some videos after the jump….

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