Euros Childs + David Kilgour + Peter Moren + Pseudosix | Union Hall | 11.09.2007

"This next song is 16 minutes long… and about every two minutes it sounds like it’s ending. But it’s not, so please don’t clap. It kind of ruins the momentum." That was pretty much the only thing Euros Childs said all night I understood, apart from some of his lyrics, what with his thick Welsh accent.  Actually, for all I know he was speaking in Welsh some of those times. He has never shied away from his native tongue  — his former band Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci sang more often than not in his native tongue and one of the two albums Childs released this year, Bore Da, is entirely in Welsh.

The last time I saw Childs was, I think, 1999 when Gorky’s was touring for Spanish Dance Troupe. Though I own every album he’s released — Gorky’s, solo, or otherwise — I would still call myself a casual fan. Watching his excellent set Friday night I realize I’ve been taking him for granted. Childs’ solo material may lack the inventiveness and manic energy that made early records like Bwyd Time fun, but it is also absent of the Renaissance Fair embellishments which made them annoying. He’s still a quirky songwriter (dig that 16-minute title-track to Miracle Inn, also released this year), but these days his songwriting abilities are given more of a spotlight, as are the harmonies and his mellow voice. Playing as a trio with Gorky’s drummer Peter Richardson and Radio Luxembourg’s Meilyr Jones on bass, those qualities were abundantly clear. Great set.

MP3: Euros Childs – Horse Riding
(Buy Miracle Inn)

What wasn’t clear is why he was headlining this show. This is not to knock Childs, it’s just obvious that everyone came to see David Kilgour with whom he’s been on tour. Half the room left after Kilgour’s set, which was too bad. But Kilgour is an indie legend of 30 years. His band, the Clean, which he started in 1978 in Dunedin, NZ with his brother Hamish and Robert Scott (who would form his own influential band, The Bats) have influenced  loads of bands, perhaps most notably Yo La Tengo, Pavement and Superchunk. (Of the latter, Mac McCaughan’s Merge label put out a Clean compilation, released Bats albums in the ’90s, and has been releasing Kilgour’s solo albums since 2002.) Ira and James of YLT (both of whom stuck around for Childs and were well into it) were in the audience, actually, as were Kilgour’s brother Hamish, and Carl Newman.

Kilgour, who must be nearing 50 but looked much younger than that with a green military cap pulled down over his curly hair, and still sounds great. His new album, The Far Now, is pretty mellow but live, with his band the Heavy 8’s, he’s much more in the Dean Wareham (or Yo La Tengo to mention them again)  school of droney, jangly, blissed-out, VU-inspired rock. Full admission: I am a sucker for this sort of thing when it’s done right, as it was Friday. I think it was the second guitarist playing a boxy-looking 12-string that really took it over the edge for me.

MP3: David Kilgour – BBC World
(Buy The Far Now)

Kilgour and Childs were the main draw but the rest of the bill were notable too. Portland’s Pseudosix opened, previously unfamiliar to me, but I left impressed. Breezy and just a touch country-ish in that early-’70s West Coast sort of way, they reminded me of druggy ’90s band Acetone but with more melody and less reverb.

MP3: Pseudosix – Under the Waves
(Buy it)

There was also a "special guest" on the bill, a badly-kept secret. (The real surprise came later that night.) Peter Moren of Peter Bjorn & John played a short impromptu set of songs he’s working on for an upcoming solo album, working out arrangements in advance of his "real" solo show at Joe’s Pub on November 19. Stress on "working them out." There were stops and starts, flubbed lyrics… but luckily Moren’s a real charmer so nobody seemed to mind. Actually, I would guess half the people there didn’t even realize this was the guy responsible for "Young Folks." Which is probably just how he wanted it, certainly different than his last appearance at Union Hall. He played maybe five originals plus a cover of Richard Hell’s "Time." I shot video of one of the new ones that Peter said was about his time as a music teacher in Sweden. I knew the name of the song but didn’t write it down and now don’t remember…

Pop Tarts Suck Toasted was there too, but left after Moren’s set, I think.


I usually consider myself as being on top of the UK scene, but Obscure Sound has three tracks from a band I’d never heard before, Hidden Messages, and they are quite good. [Obscure Sound]


Over at the AV Club, Comedian of Comedy Brian Pohsen interviews fictional, animated metal band Dethklok who tell him about the craziest thing that ever happened at one of their shows: "There were two guys who ran at
each other full force in a mosh pit and exploded their brains and guts
and donkey cum onto a bride who had just gotten out of a limousine at
that exact moment."; Jason Schwartzman offers up his iPod for an exceptionally interesting Random Rules. My esteem for him went up by 24% after reading this; And Nathan Rabin finally tackles the inexplicable, horrendous, yet un-turn-off-able mess that is Dreamcatcher for his awesome My Year of Flops project. [AV Club]


I saw both of Pelle Carlberg‘s NYC shows in May (one of which I reviewed) and in addition to his
own songs, he covered Elton John’s "Rocket Man" and Mika’s "Grace
Kelly" which were both great. I’ve been looking for MP3s ever since.
(There’s an EP that has them, somewhere, but you had to order the album
online to get it. I already owned it at that point.) Quick Before it
Melts comes through with the Mika one. [QBiM]


Speaking of… in today’s NY Times Dining section, restaurant critic Frank Bruni gives two stars to high-end tapas joint Pamplona. I’ll have to take his word on the food, but Pelle Carlberg’s song of the same name is at least a three-and-a-half, if not four:

MP3: Pelle Carlberg – Pamplona
(buy it)

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

: 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.

CMJ 2007 Preview: Friday Picks

Brooklyn Vegan Day Party w/ iLIKETRAINS, Fatal Flying Guiloteens, Other Passengers, Health, Mika Miko, Yeasayer, Black Kids, Saturday Looks Good to Me, Islands, Yo Magesty @ R Bar (12:15 – 8pm)

After the Jump w/ The Antlers, Nous Non Plus, The Silent Years, The Pendeltons, Cary Ann Hearst, Dead Confederate, Morning State @ the Annex (1pm – 6pm, FREE)

White Denim +
The Broken West  +
Polytechnic (w/ former Smiths bassist Andy Rourke) +
The Shaky Hands @ Mercury Lounge (7pm, $12)

The Spinto Band + Sons And Daughters + The Maccabees + Alberta Cross + Sahara Hotnights + The 1900s + Drug Rug @ Bowery Ballroom (7pm, $16)

Crashin' In party w/ Shock Cinema, Miss Alex White & The Red Orchestra, Foals, Foreign Born, The Holy Hail, Chairlift, The Deadly Syndrome, Fatal Flying Guillotines, Blackstrap, Soft, Cadence Weapon, Ida Maria,  The Coast, Le Loup, Picastro, Cale Parks, Spirit Marines  @ Galapagos  (2pm – 2am, $5, no badges)

: Though I find vocalist David Martin a bit on the silly melodramatic side, I like iLIKETRAINS' music a lot, so I figure I'll check them out at the Gothamist House or the BV day party and, if they're good there, again at Mercury Lounge. Actually, again, Brooklyn Vegan outdoes himself with a killer bill of iLT, Yeasayer, Islands and Yo Magesty. But then there's the Crashin' In show, which I am definitely going to to see Swedish singer Ida Maria who my friend Toby is super high on. (She's on at 7pm.) Also worth checking out — the After the Jump Fest's North Vs. South show. I'm especially anxious to see the South bands the Pendeltons, Dead Confederate and Morning State. Nous Non Plus and the SIlent Years are good too. As for the evening shows…. the Bowery show is tempting. I really like the 1900s and want to see the Maccabees, and Drug Rug do the Let it Be style (Beatles not Replacements) retro-rock.

MP3: iLIKETRAINS – Twenty Five

MP3: Ida Maria – Oh My God

iLIKETRAINS pic swiped from stellabrightlight's Flickr photostream.

The Hives | Webster Hall | 10.09.2007

You are pretty much guaranteed a good time at a Hives show. The finely-honed riffs, the expertly tailored suits, the flying scissor-kicks and unwavering bravado of frontman Pelle Almqvist. And all he demands in return is your undying adoration and worship.

Almqvist got what he was looking for at Webster Hall on Monday night, with most, if not all, of the packed audience eating out of the palm of his hand. Like everything else The Hives do, his persona is finely-tuned schtick but the act is so seamless, performed with utter conviction (it’s real funny too), that it never gets old. Plus, at barely 75 minutes, their stage show doesn’t give you a chance to look at your watch.

It was a short show for "An Evening with the Hives" (industry-speak for "no opening band") but I these Swedes understand the concept of "leave ’em wanting more" and didn’t overstay their welcome. No opener should’ve meant that the show started early, but when we got there at 7pm, they informed us that the band wasn’t going on till 9pm. My friend Dorrit, a Hives superfan, wanted to get a good spot so we decided to go in anyway. You haven’t lived till you’ve spent two hours not watching a band at Webster Hall, let me tell you.

Actually, time went by pretty quickly as we drank $7 Buds and the Hives’ show went by quicker. Decked out in new Ivy League blazers, and an ’80s-style neon logo behind them, the band looked more dapper than ever, and tore through the high points of their three albums, and about half of their upcoming fourth, The Black and White Album. (Some of which was produced by the Neptunes. Consider me curious.) I can’t say that any of the new songs, apart from single "Tick Tick Boom," had the immediate rush of "Main Offender," "Two Timing Touch and Broken Bones" or "Diabolic Scheme" but didn’t have me running for the bathroom either. It’s not like there’s ever been a big difference between any of their songs (there is a definite Hives formula), maybe they’re starting to run out of riffs. Maybe I just need to hear them a few more times. Luckily, the Hives’ manic energy is in no risk of depletion.

MP3: The Hives – Tick Tick Boom
(Pre-order The Black and White Album)

The Swedes really understand the importance of showmanship. The Hives are the whole package — the songs, the look, the attitude, the stage show, Pelle who sells it 100% all the time. (Electric Six would be so much more awesome if Dick Valentine personified on stage the character he plays on the albums.) The Hives are the faster, better-looking, more compact version of The Soundtrack of Our Lives, who are similarly talented. I wish more American bands placed as much emphasis on songwriting and being entertaining.

The Hives play Webster Hall again tonight and are heading out on tour with… Maroon 5. Very brave of Adam Levine to book such a kick-ass live powerhouse to open for them.

Utterly awesome photo swiped from Alexistheo’s Flickr photostream.
Punk Photo was there too and got some awesome shots. Tour dates after the jump.

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Polyphonic Swedes

Tim Delaughter, you now official have competition for title of Biggest, Happiest Band on the Planet. Flying in from Sweden, all 23 (that was my count, though they top out at 29 back in Jönköping) of them, I’m from Barcelona were a perfect choice for the Sunday Pool Parties, especially on a sunny, breezy, relatively-non-humid day like today. Their weapons of joy? Kazoos, glockenspiels, La La’s, Bah Bah’s, Doo Doo’s, dancing, hugging, arm waving, and a World Series Championship parade’s worth of confetti. And at at 30 minute set, not wearing out their welcome.

Like the ‘Spree, these Swedes are better experienced live when you can get taken by the moment (and the confetti) — I find their album, Let Me Introduce My Friends, a bit too Up With People for casual listening. (Though I like Jens Lekman and Suburban Kids with Biblical Names, both of whom are not unlike IFB in their incessant upbeat-ness.) But live, the band are pretty irresistible, even with all the hugging and one guy dressed in Team Zissou garb. Most of them were more crusty than you’re average Scandinavian indie band (though even the dirty hippies are better looking than your average American), but ecstatic with the love-in vibe, kind the musical version of Lukas Moodysson’s Together, at least the first half before the dream goes South.

Shockingly, as of this writing there are still tickets for Monday’s show at Southpaw — worth checking out just to see how they’re going to fit them all onto the stage.

MP3: I’m from Barcelona – Oversleeping


The real stars of the day, the reason for the insane lines to get in (in which there were a lot of delusional people standing), was headliners Blonde Redhead, who have somewhat quietly become one NYC’s most popular bands. When I say quietly, I mean that figuratively, as sonically they are somewhere between Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine, all the more impressive as they’re just a three-piece. I think they’ve just gotten better and better, and their latest, 23, is shoegazer perfection, especially the hypnotic title tracks. That was the highlight of their set too, with singer Kazu Makino going into a trancelike state with looped vocals that whirlpooled into the Pace brothers tremolo-heavy guitars and jazz-trained drumming. This is a band who are better at night, with a light show, and probably smoke machines, but it they were magnetic  at 6pm nonetheless.

MP3: Blonde Redhead – 23

It was a full day in the sun for me. Previous to McCarren Pool, I spent the day at the Red Hook Ballfields, where some first-timer friends and I hit nearly every food stall. The standouts, as usual, were the tacos de barbacoa at Perez Tacos, the hurraches de enchilada at Hernandez Hurraches, and the ceviche mixtos at Rojas Ceviche. Fatty Crab owner Zak Pellaccio and recent Top Chef expellee Lia Bardeen were among those enjoying the many delicious things available. Some pictures after the jump.

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Shout Out Louds | Luna Lounge | 7.17.2007

Shout Out Louds fans are intense and loyal which makes a show that much more fun. Dancing, singing along, and one girl in front of me seemed to be, um, living the songs if you know what I mean. I’ll take that over cool detachment any day.

It was also the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen at Luna Lounge, and the best sound (maybe it sounds better with all those bodies). Tuesday was a longer set than at Spiegeltent, with more songs from the new album, including "South America" (accordion fixed or new one purchased) and "You Are Dreaming" but no "Hard Rain." Less Howl Howl Gaff Gaff songs too, but different b-sides, with "Hurry Up Let’s Go" dedicated to Merge label-mates the Essex Green who were in the audience.

No doubt, Spiegeltent was better
. But I was home at 11:30, which was before I was even allowed into Spiegeltent the night before.

I managed to get a video of the latter half of "Very Loud" when they kick into "Train in Vain," through to the end of the song/set. I missed, however, the start of it where some dude jumped onstage and decided to stage-dive, but no one was prepared so it was literally headfirst into the floor. (Audible gasp!) But he was OK, folks. Singer Adam Olenius warned the crowd, saying either "Don’t dive" or "Don’t die." I would like to think it was the latter as it would be funnier. Anyway, the clip:

Openers were Philadelphia’s Saturday Looks Good to Me. I know people who like them, but I just don’t get it. Last night they didn’t even sound like a band, more like a bunch of people who decided to get onstage and play music together. Maybe it was inferior equipment, or the mix was bad, or maybe it was just them. Utterly unimpressed.

Shout Out Louds | Spiegeltent | 7.16.2007

The show ground to a halt with these words: "I’m afraid she’s dead." Bebban Stenbourg was talking about her accordion, broken beyond repair, which meant we wouldn’t be hearing "Parents’ Livingroom," one of the best songs off Shout Out Louds‘ great new album, Our Ill Wills. It was the only misstep in what I’d have to call a truly magical show, one of those times where the setting, the crowd and the performance came together to make something special.

Spiegeltent is a very cool venue, and if there’s someone you want to see there, it’s worth the otherwise deadly combination of remote location (South Street Seaport), late set times (for rock shows, doors don’t open till 11:30 if you’re lucky) and overpriced drinks (beers are $7). The intimate venue, decorated with mirrors and brocade, holds only 350 people but I’m guessing only half that braved a late monday night to see Stockholm’s Shout Out Louds, here on a short US tour two months before Our Ill Wills hits the shelves. But those who did were genuine fans, there to sing along, dance, and have a good time.

The set was about 50-50 old and new with well-worn favorites like "The Comeback," "Please Please Please" and "Shut Your Eyes" mixed in with new tracks "Tonight I Have to Leave it," "Suit Yourself," and the Bunnymen-esque "South America." Instead of "Parents Livingroom," we got a stripped-down, drum machine-driven "Hard Rain" while real drummer Eric Edman tried to fix Bebban’s accordion.

The two best moments for me were new song (and current Swedish single) "Impossible" and show-closer "Very Loud," in which they worked in a cover of The Clash’s "Train in Vain" for good measure. (Though singer Adam Olenius rocking the agogo on "Tonight I Have to Leave It" was up there too.) They sounded great too, as you can tell from the video below. There was a PA but to my ears it sounded like they just mainly used it for vocals, letting their amps alone which meant I didn’t have to wear earplugs. This and the Peter Bjorn and John show at Union Hall are maybe the two most perfect shows of the year so far.

MP3: Shout Out Louds – South America

MP3: Shout Out Louds – Impossible (Possible remake by Studio)

And a few more pictures on my Flickr page. Tickets are still available ($15) for Shout Out Louds’ show tonight at Luna Lounge. Hopefully they will have a working accordion for this one. They play the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco on Wednesday, the El Ray in Los Angeles on Thursday, and Chicago’s Empty Bottle on Friday. Meanwhile, here’s a video I shot at Spiegeltent of them performing "Impossible":

NYC Popfest: Pelle Carlberg + More | Luna Lounge | 5.27.2006

It was a good ten minutes before my eyes adjusted enough so that I could see anything inside Luna Lounge who seemed to be conserving energy (or avoid turning on the AC) by keep the lights as low as possible. I was initially wandering around with my arms stretched out like Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark hoping I walk into a table or trip over someone’s bag.

So it went at Sunday afternoon’s installment of the NYC Popfest festival which was a good time despite some annoyances. Not only was it ridiculously dark in Luna Lounge, the guys doing sound treated the show as if it was Punkfest, cranking the volume despite there being only about 70 people there for most of it.

I’ll stop complaining. The show was an international affair, well worth the steep $18 admission price. The main event for me was the first-ever US performance of Swede Pelle Carlberg whose new album, In a Nutshell, his been getting a lot of play from me of late. With expert help from Henrick Nilsson who not only played bass and sang back-up but also played drums of a sort — a kick drum pedal against a suitcase with one foot, a tambourine with the other — the snazzily-dressed Carlberg charmed just about everyone there with his Belle & Sebastian-ish pop.

While the somewhat short set skipped current single "I Love You You Imbecile," we did get a phenomenal cover of Elton John’s "Rocket Man" as well as two of my favorite songs off the new album — "Middleclass Kid" and the wordily-titled "Clever Girls Like Clever Boys Much More Than Clever Boys Like Clever Girls." When he announced the latter’s title, a girl standing next to me exclaimed "Ohmigod, that’s so true!"

Punkphoto got some great shots (including the one at the top of this page, plus video of "Rocketman" which I also shot but didn’t bother to upload to Youtube because it was so damn dark in the club. (You can see it much clearer but in a lesser performance here from a February show in Italy.) Pelle Carlberg plays the Delancey this Saturday. I highly recommend you check out the show.

MP3: Pelle Carlberg – Middleclass Kid

: Pelle Carlberg – I Love You, You Imbecile (via

: Pelle Carlberg – Clever Girls Like Clever Boys Much More Than Clever Boys Like Clever Girls (via Pelle’s website)

Pre-order In A Nutshell via Parasol — it’s out domestically June 5 on TwentySeven records. More North American tour dates:

May 29         The Supermarket     Toronto, Ontario
May 30         Small’s                   Detroit, Michigan
May 31         Beachland Tavern    Cleveland, Ohio
Jun 1            Crooked Beat          Washington, Washington DC
Jun 2            The Delancey          NYC


The rest of the night was fun too, of course. My second favorite act was headlining duo Pipas whose laptop-aided folk was charming and cute. They’re a band who I know of more than I actually know and I suppose I’m going to have to remedy that. Cause Co-Motion were the most energetic of the night but probably the least poppy (in a Popfest kind of way), reminding of scratchy Scottish bands the Fire Engines and Josef K. Philly’s Human Television were the best I’ve ever seen them. We share a love of the Wedding Present so I’ve always liked them, though they still lack the songs or stage presence to take it to the next level. Michael Leviton entertained with his funny, nerdy ukulele songs (a plus), though I must admit Dear Nora kind of drove me out of club for some fresh air. 

Shout Out Louds Cure Their ‘Ills’

Pardon the punny Billboard-esque headline, but I couldn’t resist. It’s hard not to think of Robert Smith when listening to Shout Out Louds‘ great new album, Our Ill Wills. You could hear traces of it on the Stockholm quintet’s debut, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff,(the belated, slightly altered American release made my Best of 2005 list) mainly in singer Adam Olenius‘ vocals.

But for Our Ill Wills, they seem to be fully embracing their Cure love. And not the mopey goth Cure either. I’m talking the happy pop of the band’s classic 1985 album, Head on the Door. First single "Tonight I Have to Leave It" owes enough to "In Between Days" that it has to be on purpose, and it’s not a stretch to say "Normandie" resembles "Close to Me." 

Maybe it is more correct to call them nods. Those are the two most obvious examples and neither, once they get going, really sound like The Cure, it’s more a general vibe. This could be the work of producer Bjorn Yttling (of Peter Bjorn and John), or it could just be what Shout Out Louds have been listening to in the four years since Howl Howl Gaff Gaff.

The album’s best song doesn’t sound like the Cure at all. A duet with keyboardist Bebban Stenbourg (sounding a lot like Victoria Bergsman), "Impossible" is a sweeping pop song and percussion that may do for the wood block what "Young Folks" did for bongos. It sounds like a great big hug, a song worthy of Lloyd Dobbler’s boombox.

Our Ill Wills is already out in Sweden, but America will have to wait until September when Merge (who smartly picked them up after being dropped by Capitol) will release it domestically. But "Impossible" is too much of a Summer Song to have to wait till then.

MP3: Shout Out Louds – Impossible

MP3: Shout Out Louds – Normandie

If you haven’t heard Howl Howl Gaff Gaff you really should pick it up. Toby over at Finest Kiss has the mp3 of the single and an awesome remix, but here’s the "Tonight I Have to Leave It" video: