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So Not the Best of the ’00s

16 Dec

 Oh, the list of Best of 00s TV I could write!
What a decade, huh? This one's notable as having been spent entirely in NYC, and entirely of the digital age which changed the way everybody listened to music. (Maybe not my parents but everyone else.) We had more access to everything, and less to to spend with it. That said, there was no shortage of good music, though I don't think anything hit me quite as hard as the previous decade — partly due to age, party due to aforementioned information overload. There's nothing from this year, as I feel it's too close to really tell how a record is gonna hold up over time, and only a couple from the last four years. (Though in 1999 I knew The Soft Bulletin and Mos Def's Black on Both Sides were among the decade's best and that's not changed. Different Times.) There's also way more from 2000 than I woulda thought before I spent the last month trying to figure out this list. 

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a Best of the '00s, because lists like that have to include Important Albums, Influential Albums and the like. I listened to Radiohead, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, Arcade Fire, The Knife, The Strokes, Phoenix and whoever like everyone else. (I also listened to Louis XIV and Hot Hot Heat.) But, for the most part, these are a little more buried treasure-ish. I think the records that didn't get played to death in public are the ones you come back to the most. These are mine, in chronological order.
 

Sfa Super Furry Animals - Mwng (Placid Casual, May 2000)
Radiohead Schmadiohead. From 1995 to 2005, no band expanded the boundaries of guitar rock while remaining what you could call "commercially viable" than Super Furry Animals. Released in early 2000, less than a year after their last album (1999's Guerrilla) and the height of their creative peak, Mwng might be my all-time favorite SFA album, a relatively stripped-down affair — not much in the way of electronics, but some of their catchiest songs ever. And it's sung entirely in Welsh. Initial pressings came with a second CD's worth of songs (also all in Welsh) that was nearly as good.

MP3Ymaelodi Â'r Ymylon
MP3Dacw Hi

AislerssetThe Aislers SetThe Last Match (Slumberland, June 2000)
With Henry's Dress and, later, The Aislers Set, Amy Linton was the sound of Slumberland Records in the '90s and early '00s, and has proved highly influential on the label's new crop of bands. Listen to "The Way to Market Station" and you can building blocks of Crystal Stilts sound.  There's a timeless quality it, and I have little doubt it will still sound awesome in 2020.

MP3:The Way to Market Station
MP3: Been Hiding


 
GobetweensThe Go-Betweens
The Friends of Rachel Worth (JetSet, Sept 2000)
Nearly all reunions are worthless, just "we're in it for the money" affairs with new albums merely made to give excuses to tour and play the hits to an aging fan-base. But there was a chemistry between Grant McLennan and Robert Forster, even though they wrote separately, that could never be replicated with solo material. So this understated album, recorded 13 years after their last album — with Sleater Kinney as their backing band — it's doesn't just not suck, it was the best they ever made.

MP3: Surfing Magazines
MP3: Going Blind

Cinerama CineramaDisco Volante (Scopitones, Sept 2000)
David Gedge formed Cinerama as a side project with his then-girlfriend as perhaps wrist relief from The Wedding Present. It wasn't until the band's second album that Cinerama found it's sound: indie rock meets Ennio Morricone. (Lyrically, Gedge only does one thing — endless variations of romantic entanglements.) Disco Volante ties TWP's Seamonsters (both recorded with Steve Albini) as the best record he ever made.

MP3: Your Charms
MP3: Superman
 

Tfc Teenage FanclubHowdy! (Sony UK, Oct 2000)
Scotland's Teenage Fanclub have never broken any ground, musically, but they are remarkably consistent songwriters. I'm not sure that this album is that different than the one before or since but this is the one I tend to come back to a lot. Stick-in-your-head melodies, great harmonies, and really nice arrangements this time. They've mellowed out by this point and it fits them like a favorite sweater. This one barely got released in America.

MP3: I Need Direction
MP3:
Accidental Life

 

Oranger Oranger - The Quiet Vibrationland (Amazing Grease, December 2000)
Underrated band from San Francisco, not unlike Teenage Fanclub in that they're clearly enamored with '60s sunshine pop. But Oranger will always a little louder, a little more raucous with a drummer who loved to go apeshit Keith Moon-style. (And appropriately, the album's title comes from Tommy.) Hands down their best record, The Quiet Vibrationland still sounds swell ten years later. Apparently they're still together, though somewhat dormant now.

MP3: Suddenly Upside Down
MP3:
 
Stoney Curtis in Reverse

Tsool The Soundtrack of Our Lives - Behind the Music (Telegram, Feb 2001)
There's a lot of '60s psych inspired bands on my list, and TSOOL were like a greatest hits of the era all rolled into one nonstop Swedish Rock Machine and one of the decade's most amazing live bands. 2001's Behind the Music was their third record, the first to get recognition in the States, though it wouldn't get released till mid-2002. Sure, you can dissect the songs into its borrowed elements but why spoil the fun when tracks like "Sister Surround," "21st Century Ripoff," "Keep the Line Movin'," and "Nevermore" sound so great cranked all the way up. 

MP3: Sister Surround
MP3:
 
Independent Luxury

Spoon Spoon - Girls Can Tell (Merge, Feb 2001)
You could make a pretty good case for Spoon being Artist of the Decade, a band who made great records all through the '00s. Pretty amazing for a band whose first album is so unremarkable. Maybe like Radiohead, it just took Spoon a bit to figure out what they wanted to be. By Girls Can Tell, they'd figured out that almost minimalist sound, where you hear every instrument clearly. I know a lot of people prefer 2003's Kill the Moonlight, but it's this one that proved A Series of Sneaks was no fluke and grabbed me the most… and still does.

MP3: Anything You Want
MP3: Fitted Shirt
 

Pernice Pernice BrothersThe World Won't End (Ashmont, June 2001)
This is clearly the work of someone raised on '70s AM radio pop before having their worldview (and sense of humor) informed by gloomy '80s Brit haircut music. Meet The Pernice brothers, a band who have t-shirts that say "I Hate My Life." The World Won't End (pretty sure the album's title is not meant to be a good thing.) is a gorgeous mix of those two worlds, with Joe Pernice's honeyed, weary vocals (and the swooning string arrangements) the icing on the cake. All the Pernice Brothers albums are good, but The World Won't End is the classic.

MP3: Working Girls (Sunlight Shines)
MP3:
 Let That Show

Amanset American Analog SetKnow By Heart (Tigerstyle, Sept 2001)
Warm yet chilly, lovely yet sinister, American Analog set on Know By Heart made music that seems to have come from that space between waking and sleep. Like the Austin neighbors Spoon, this is spare music, but methodically put together… and will haunt you like a half-remembered dream. AmAnSet never bettered Know By Heart.

MP3: Punk as Fuck
MP3: The Kindness of Strangers

Notwist The Notwist - Neon Golden (City Slang, Feb 2002)
Incorporating the glitchy sound of of the then-current laptop scene, long-running German band The Notwist finally got America to take notice with Neon Golden. Rightly so. Digital manipulation is as evident here as it is on Cher's "Believe" but the Notwist make it sound as organic as blood coursing through veins. It hasn't dated one bit.

MP3: Pilot
MP3: One with the Freaks

Edwyn Edwyn CollinsDoctor Syntax (Setanta, April, 2002)
Before being sidelined by a stroke in 1995, Edwyn Collins was an in-demand producer when not working on solo material. 2002's Doctor Syntax (unreleased in America) might be his best album, slinky funk with a wicked mean streak, mostly aimed at the record industry. The production is brilliant. You could imagine couple of the songs here — "Johnny Teardrop" and "20 Years Too Late" —  reworked to be hits for Beyonce or Girls Aloud. 

MP3: 20 Years Too Late
MP3: It's a Funny Thing 

Bss Broken Social SceneYou Forgot it In People (Paper Bag, Oct 2002)
The start of the new Canadian Invasion, though Toronto never developed into an actual scene the way Montreal did. Seeing Broken Social Scene at Mercury Lounge summer of 2003 was kind of a revelation. Most American bands didn't try this hard, or have this many members. It helped that they were touring for an album as great as this, that echoed the '80s and '90s but fresh and new.

MP3: Cause = Time
MP3Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl
 

Dears The DearsNo Cities Left (MapleMusic, April 2003)
Let's set this straight. Dears frontman Murray Lightburn does NOT sound like Morrissey. Damon Albarn, I can hear that, but not really the Moz. And Lightburn has bigger aspirations, anyway, on No Cities Left, an epic album in every way that might collapse under all the bombast and melodrama if the songs weren't so damn good. And their shows around the time, they were one of the best live bands in North America. One thing Lightburn and Moz do have in common: not getting any enough credit for their sense of humor. 

MP3: Lost in the Plot
MP3: 22: the Death of All the Romance

Radiodept Radio Dept. - Lesser Matters (Labrador/Shelflife, March 2003)
Here's a record that I still can't quite put my finger on why it's so good. It was like the sum of everything I loved in the late '80s and early '90s, as played and recorded on shitty equipment. The enigmatic nature of the band helped too, and you could be convinced that the tapes for this album were discovered by accident while cleaning out someone's basement. 

MP3: Why Won't You Talk About It?
MP3: Ewan
 

Newporno New PornographersThe Electric Version (Merge, May 2003)
Canadian Invasion, West Coast Division. I know the tastemakers say their debut, Mass Romantic, is the end-all be-all. But for my dollar, The Electric Version does it better and catchier. Carl Newman and Dan Bejar' songwriting had grown even more confident… and the hooks are undeniable. 

MP3: From Blown Speakers
MP3: Chump Change
 

 

Ulrich Ulrich SchnaussA Strangely Isolated Place (Domino, May 2003)
Laptop shoegaze, beautiful and hypnotic like Slowdive and Cocteau Twins, which are the obvious and admitted influences here. Perhaps my favorite sleeping album of all time, it's also good for walking around the city, road trips and doing the dishes. Dancing, not so much.

MP3: On My Own
MP3: Monday
 

Komeda

Komeda - Kokomemedada (Sonet/Minty Fresh June 2003)
Like Stereolab's zany Swedish cousins, Komeda always swung a little too kitsch/novelty for my tastes on their first album so I checked out until hearing Kokomemedada, and my opinion changed immediately. Komeda stayed playful but became more sophisticated about the songwriting, sort of Krautrock with a personality and sense of humor. Also, ridiculously catchy stuff. 1998's What Makes it Go? is pretty great too.


MP3: Blossom
MP3: Victory Lane

Darkness The DarknessPermission to Land (WEA, July 2003)
No, I'm not kidding. At the time, debates raged — RAGED — about whether The Darkness was serious or not. Well, clearly you don't wear spandex cat suits, sing in a Tiny Tim falsetto and write a love song to a genital wart ("Growing On Me") and not understand irony, but it was clear singer/guitarist/songwriter Justin Hawkins loves this stuff. Part Thin Lizzy riff rock boogie, part Queen flamboyance, Permission to Land is all hits, start to finish. (If you can get past Justin Hawkins' falsetto.) And some of the most inspired, melodically-driven guitar solos (some songs have three) on any album of the last 20 years. Plus "Friday Night" which could almost be a Pulp song. And hilariously insane videos (especially "Growing on Me".) It all went up Hawkins' nose on the overblown second album, but Permission to Land is brilliant.

MP3: Growing on Me
MP3
Friday Night

Bs Belle & SebastianDear Catastrophe Waitress (Rough Trade, Oct 2003)
Who'd have thought having Trevor Horn, producer of some of the most bombastic records of the last 30 years, work with twee royalty Belle & Sebastian would be a good idea, let alone a brilliant one. Instead of turning them into Seal (or taTu) he focused the band back to their stong suit: Stuart Murdoch. Where B&S's three previous records had been democratic to a giant fault, letting everyone in the band contribute songs, Dear Catastrophe Waitress was almost entirely written by Murdoch who was up to the task, branching out from his VU safety zone into glam and new wave territory. Their best record since If You're Feeling Sinister and a terrific return to form, that would continue through the rest of the '00s. (Also seek out the 2004 b-side "Your Cover's Blown," one of their best, most ambitious songs ever.)

MP3: I'm a Cuckoo
MP3: Stay Loose
 

LomaxLomax - A Symbol of Modern Living (93 Records, Nov 2003)
Of all the bands aping Gang of Four's postpunk in the early '00s (and there were tons of them) Lomax came the closest to feeling like the real thing — the anger, the aggression, the politics. And almost nobody heard this record, which is strange in some ways Lomax's frontman was Paul Epworth, who ended up producing some of the most hyped bands doing nearly the same thing (Rapture, Futureheads, Bloc Party…). Maybe because this record was never shoved down my throat is why I still listen to it.

MP3: Brought to Rights
MP3: Modern Life
 

MoonbabiesMoonbabies - The Orange Billboard (Hidden Agenda, Jan 2004)
Sparkling pop music with lovely boy-girl harmonies, chiming guitars and a twinkle of electronics. It's just a lovely lovely record that got almost no attention at all at the time, though that changed somewhat when Moonbabies ended up on one of the Grey's Anatomy soundtracks. This is the musical equivalent to what I imagine Sweden to be like in the Springtime. Defintely one of the '00s unheard gems.

MP3: Sun A.M.
MP3: Forever Changes Everything Now

ThefallThe FallReal New Fall LP (aka Country on the Click) (Action/Narnack, March 2004)
Though 2000's The Unutterable contains perhaps my favorite Fall song of this decade ("Dr. Buck's Letter") I have to give the edge Real New Fall LP for overall quality. Coming off of one of The Fall's worst album's ever (Are You Missing Winner), Mark E. Smith rallied with a tight new band, a focused outlook and generally seeming fairly with it. This was the last great Fall album, though I have no doubt M.E.S. will deliver another to us soon. An album on Domino (a good sign) is due in January 2010.

MP3: Green Eyed Loco Man
MP3: Mountain Energi

Scissorsisters The Scissor SistersS/T (Universal, July 2004)
Originally part of the shortlived electroclash scene, Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears envisioned that extended further than Grand Street in Williamsburg. Their debut album (reportedly recorded in Shears' apartment) is the best bits of 1976 that weren't punk: glam, glitter, and disco. An ode to the fading flame that was the NYC nightlife scene, Scissor Sisters debut has a staggering number of phenomenal songs. Like the Darkness album, it's almost all hits. "Take Your Mama Out" and their Gibb-i-fied take on "Comfortably Numb" may have been the showpieces, it's ballads "Mary" and the stunning "Return to Oz" are the showstoppers.

MP3: Mary

Rakes The RakesCapture/Release (V2, Aug 2005)
In a sea of similar bands to pop up in Franz Ferdinand's wake, The Rakes were the best because they had personality and a point of view thanks to spazzy singer Alan Donahoe. They actually sang about something. "Everything's temporary these days/Might as well go out for the fifth night in a row" — still relevant! Capture/Release's tales of urban 20-something ennui still hold up. Donahoe's a Jarvis Cocker in the waiting, hopefully he won't give up music following The Rakes recent split. 

MP3: Retreat 
MP3:
 22 Grand Job

Elbow ElbowLeaders of the Free World (V2, Sept 2005)
My top album of 2005. Gorgeous melodies, inventive arrangements and musicianship, and some of the most heartfelt (without treacle) lyrics around. And Guy Garvey's amazing voice on top of it all. Elbow finally got some well deserved recognition (and the Mercury Prize) for 2008's Seldom Seen Kid, but this album is better.

MP3: Mexican Standoff

Hotchip Hot ChipThe Warning (DFA, June 2006)
My top album of 2006 and they have yet to better it. (That could change when One Life Stand comes out, we'll see.) "Over and Over" has been played to death, but you know it still sounds great, as does the rest of this album. It’s the sound of real live people playing – not programming – synthesizers, and that human element shines through.

MP3: No Fit State
MP3: Look After Me

SloanSloan - Never Hear the End of It (MurderRecords, Sept 2006)
One of my favorite bands of the last 20 years, Sloan had a rough start to the decade trying to grab the brass ring. (The Canadian brass ring at least.) For Never Hear the End of It, they went back to doing what they do best – being themselves. The result was their best album in years; a sprawling, beautiful mess of 30 interwoven songs that never gets boring.

MP3: Fading into Obscurity
MP3: Blackout

 

Electrelane Electrelane - No Shouts, No Calls (Too Pure, March 2007)
There is nothing you could call new or groundbreaking about Electrelane's final album. It's a sound echoing of the Velvets, the Pastels, and many other indie touchstones. But they just do it so well, with lyrics so sad and romantic this time, and for whatever reason No Shouts, No Calls really stuck with me. It's kind of perfect. I wish they'd change their mind and get back together.

MP3: To the East
MP3: Saturday

 

MetronomyMetronomyNights Out (Because Music, Sept 2008)
My top album of '08 and it still holds up a year later. Metronomy have a distinct sound that is instantly recognizable whether it's their own tracks or the remixes they do for other artists. It's manic, with a water-damaged quality to it that sounds like what it feels to be up for 36 hours straight, buzzing on espressos (or whatever) but dead tired. In a good way, obviously. It still sounds like nothing else. Metronomy are now a four piece, with a drummer and new bassist, so who knows what 2010 will bring for them, but I can't wait to find out.

MP3: A Thing for Me
MP3: Heartbreaker
 

Krief Week 2008 in NYC

4 Nov

Bdb

I know we're all focused on The Election and all, and lord knows I've been watching way too much CNN lately (minus Lou Dobbs who may actually top anyone at FOX News in douche-i-ness), but the world goes on and Wednesday we're going to wake up very hungover and ask, "What now?" Well, musically, it's Krief Week here in NYC. That's Patrick Krief, former guitarist of The Dears and now frontman of Black Diamond Bay. BDB is the same band that toured here last Krief Week (July 2007) when they were just called Krief (basically a solo project) and he was still a member of The Dears but now have a full-length album out which is quite good. 

Black Diamond Bay, which also features awesome former Dears drummer George Donoso, are in the same school as their former band — we're talking "She's So Heavy" Beatles, or Hunky Dory Bowie, or Radiohead — big, epic stuff with skyrocketing solos and massive crescendos. And if you ever saw Krief and Donoso with the Dears, you know how much they sell it: faces are made, sweat pours down, solos soar, and drum-fills fill the air.

New York has three chances to see Black Diamond Bay this week: Wednesday at Public Assembly (formerly Galapagos); Thursday at Southpaw; and Saturday at Pianos. They also play Election Night in Boston (tough gig) and Friday in Philly. I caught them last year and they're well worth seeing, so please go out and check out one of the shows.

MP3Black Diamond Bay – Brothers In Exile 

Nov 4 Church, Boston, Massachusetts
Nov 5 Public Assembly, Brooklyn, New York
Nov 6 Southpaw, Brooklyn, New York
Nov 7 The Green Rock, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nov 8 Pianos, New York, New York
Nov 13 Blacksheep INN, Wakefield, Quebec
Nov 22 Le Casbah, Quebec City, Quebec

CMJ 2008: The Dears | Hiro Ballroom | 10.23.2008

27 Oct

Dears1
Dears7

Dears4

Dears2

It may be an almost entirely new line-up but The Dears still got it. Murray Lightburn still gives it his all, and if the new band doesn't quite have the swagger of the line-up I loved of the last four years, they are getting there. It helps that this Dears is touring behind the just-released MISSILES which is light years better than 2006's rushed and murky-sounding (yet still good despite) Gang of Losers, the making and touring of which caused its meltdown. Only Lightburn and keyboardist (and Lightburn's wife) Natalia Yanchak remain, though some of the band played on the new album. 

So here were are at one of NYC's cooler-looking clubs with pro lighting, sound and smoke machines — all of which aid in the Dears' air of epic grandeur. The new band is tight, especially on the MISSILES tracks which make up the bulk of the set. "Dream Job" and the Lightburn-Yanchak duet "Crisis." It was when they dipped into material from the last two records that the difference was apparent. While "Lost in the Plot" and "The Death of All the Romance" sounded right, but without George Donoso going Animal-style on his kit and Patrick Krief's emotive guitar-playing style (again, swagger) you realize what you're missing.

The difference was underlined by Patrick Krief standing at the side of the stage the whole time, singing along to all the new material. He was loving it. I kept wanting him to jump up on stage and grab a guitar. Glad to know there are a few unburnt bridges in the Dears camp. Now I don't want to dis the new lineup — they're very good, especially guitarist Jason Kent who brings the visual panache needed to be in The Dears — it's just when you've seen one band blow you away time and time again for three years, a rebuilt engine takes some getting used to. But when epic MISSILES track "Lights Off" hit the midway point where it takes off into the stratosphere of solos that The Dears are still capable of making the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Like I said, they've still got it.

SETLIST: Disclaimer / Money Babies / Berlin Heart / Crisis I & II / Lost in the Plot / Bandwagoneers / Lights Off / Demons / Whites-Only Party / 22: The Death Of All The Romance / Meltdown in A Major

MP3The Dears – Crisis I & II (Buy MISSILES)

I would also like to say Hiro Ballroom is a great place to see a show — it's a beautiful room, with awesome sound and even better lighting. (Why do most clubs have such crappy lighting?) But with $7 beer and the dreaded Bathroom Attendents, it's not a place I want to hang out. More reviews: Brooklyn Vegan | NY Mag

I shot video of "Dreams" too… take a gander:

The Dears are Dead; Long Live the Dears

11 Aug

Dears

The good news: Montreal's The Dears are back with a new album, Missles, due in October on Dangerbird in the US and Maple Music in Canada. The bad news: the band as we've known them for the last five years is no more, with only founding members (and now married couple with daughter) Murray Lightburn and keyboardist Natalia Yanchack remaining. Which is sad, as The Dears were one of the best live bands of the '00s, playing some truly spectacular gigs in 2005 and 2006 especially. Not that they won't still be, but truly that was a classic line-up. Here's the scoop, straight from Murray's mouth (and The Dears' MySpace):

This could have been a message saying that The Dears is over.

Instead:

Almost 10 years ago, The Dears made a ghetto little record called "End of A Hollywood Bedtime Story." We were a four piece back then until two dudes split right after we finished making it, leaving just me and Natalia. I called up a few people and within a month we were resurrected as a six piece. We were brand new, with a new record in hand that the others adopted as their own. We went on to make two more records, a couple of EPs and tour the world many times. Plenty of laughs. We had a couple of exits in that time but the last four years saw the same line up.

I'm not going to lie to you kids: The new Dears album has been completed since April. It is called MISSILES. We have been wandering around the music industry wilderness the whole time, trying to secure a release date for the Fall. It's getting pretty f***ed out there. We thought very seriously about doing it ourselves. But that just wasn't realistic at all. Not in the least. And our relationships with Bella Union and Arts & Crafts had run their course. So at the 11th hour, in walked Dangerbird. Our beloved MapleMusic Recordings is still there for us and will release the record in Canada while Dangerbird Records will release it everywhere else. Should be an interesting/entertaining journey.

We want to bring you this record whole and still warm. It's beautiful; that is the only way to describe it. A blues album, essentially. It's also long and kind of paced for love making, because that really makes everything better. 58 minutes, 16 seconds, 10 songs. One song is over 11 minutes, just like the old days. Come October, we encourage you to seek it out; it is worth every penny and all the dough just goes back into making more records, not buying solid gold houses. Thanks, in advance.

We had quite an experience making it and by the end, only Natalia and I were left. The band line up as you've known has come to a close and now it's just as it was when we began: Natalia and I, looking after every aspect ourselves. Trust us when we say it is for the best. The music, philosophy — the art has been preserved with fervency. The Dears not are but is. In our mind it always has been that way, the sum of parts to create one vision. Or something like that. Personally, we feel fortunate to have a role in the birthing of every tune, in its arrival from the cosmos.

Anyway, there is a little nugget on our website, one of our faves, a soul-crushing classic: thedears.org

We are moving to organize some live concerts for October with an almost completely new line up, as a seven piece. We've been rehearsing a couple times a week. It's a bit weird, to be honest, looking around at all the new faces. But it's incredibly exciting to hear the sounds come alive again, and for all the right reasons with all the right intentions. Be excited. It is a new beginning.

Eternal Love,
Murray + Natalia P/K/A THE DEARS

—————————————————–

There's also a taster from Missles on The Dears website and MySpace, called "Meltdown in A Major."

MP3: The Dears – Meltdown in A Major (MySpace rip)

Here's the whole Missles tracklisting:

1) Disclaimer
2) Dream Job
3) Money Babies
4) Berlin Heart
5) Lights Off
6) Crisis 1 & 2
7) Demons
8) Missiles
9) Meltdown In A Major
10) Saviour

From what I can tell this is pretty recent news, and that the lineup from No Cities Left and Gang of Losers played on Missles. In an interview posted July 24 on Canadian music site I Heart Music, now ex-guitarist Patrick Kreif was asked about the new Dears album, to which he answers somewhat carefully: "The album’s done. No idea of the release date. But it’s finished, 100%.
I think it’s a good record. But at the moment, this band is our baby.
It’s a baby that still has a future, that we can mould and nurture.
It’s not an adolescent that talks back to you."

The "this band is our baby" bit he's talking about his band Black Diamond Bay, which until recently was known as Krief, but has now gone from solo-thing to main thing. BDB and also features  recently-departed Dears drummer George Donoso and the two of them will be the most-missed in the Dears.

The Dears and Black Diamond Bay both still list each other in their Top Friends on their respective MySpace pages, so maybe the split wasn't too acrimonious. I'm sure we'll learn more as the release date to Missles approaches.

Bombastic Fantastic

15 Sep

Dears_bowery2
You can say a lot of things about The Dears, but no one can claim that they don’t give 100%. If it were not physically impossible to give 110%, I’m
sure they would’ve done that. Murray Lightburn sings and plays his heart out, sweating like a maniac, and the rest of the band (godlike drummer George Donoso
and
guitarist Patrick Krief in particular) play as if their lives depended
on
it.

It’s all about heart, I think. Murray didn’t indulge in stage banter
until
the extended dub jam encore "Postcards from Purgatory," when he
basically
stated this. "We are sometimes a cheesy lot, The Dears. But it’s no
bullshit. We believe it. This is real. And we love each and every one
of
you." And the crowd went wild. There is a connection between The Dears
and
their audiences that you don’t see a whole lot anymore, apart from Andrew WK or Morrissey.

(more…)

Can’t Lose

29 Jun

Dears_new2
After listening to the new Dears album for the better part of a week, I'm of the opinion that the best live band of 2005 have finally knocked a studio album out of the park with Gang of Losers. As explained to Pitchfork, the album was recorded mostly live in single takes and I think that's the secret to its success — it really feels alive. (It also doesn't hurt that they'd come off a very productive year of constant touring, by the end of which they were completely on fire.) The playing is fantastic, some really perfect little guitar flourishes, and George Donoso's drum fills are worthy of Thin Lizzy.

And Murray sings it like he means it. Nobody will accuse him of sounding like Morrissey (or Damon Albarn) this time. The songs are still bombastic, but there is real heart behind it. I cannot wait for them to play NYC… and I'm praying they will stay at Bowery Ballroom (or Northsix) for at least one more show before the eventual move to cruddy Webster Hall.

Dears_gangoflosers
Here's a taste of Gang of Losers that you may recognize if you saw The Dears play live last year. They opened up most shows with it — a real power anthem suitable for holding boomboxes aloft in Lloyd Dobbler style:

The Dears – "You and I Are a Gang of Losers"