The Pains of Being Pure at Heart | Seaport Music Festival | 7.10.2009


It is just amazing to me how popular The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have become. Not that they don't deserve it — their debut is one of my favorites of the year — it's just that, as a longtime lover of this sort of music, there's one thing I'd come to accept. It's not the kind of stuff that ever gets popular. Or hasn't before. A year ago, they were playing Cake Shop and the Dead Herring apartment, and that seemed about right for their brand of indie pop, influenced by the Pastels, Black Tambourine, The Wedding Present and Beat Happening. These guys had great songs, but history showed bands like this just wouldn't get much bigger.

Fast-forward a year later and the Pains are headlining a show at the Seaport and it's as packed as I've ever seen it, rivalling that Animal Collective show two years ago. The weather is perfect mind you, but people are there to see them. And they just sound amazing — the songs roar, the band is tight, you can actually hear Peggy's keyboards and Kip has become a confident singer. Ripping through their set with nary a word in between songs, the crowd bobs and everyone's smiling. The band is smiling too. They are having fun. The new songs are good. While I can't see them ever dethroning Linkin Park or The Black Eyed Peas from the Billboard charts, tonight, the Pains make it seem like anything's possible.

MP3: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Hey Paul (buy the album from Insound / Emusic)

Tour dates and a few more pictures after the jump.

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The Pains of Being Pure at Heart + caUSE co-MOTION + The Depreciation Guild | Mercury Lounge | 2.07.2009


The word "twee" gets thrown around a lot when talking about The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. They are cute, with tendencies towards la-la choruses and cardigans ("we have three extras just in case"). But what you don't hear a lot, at least not yet, is how much they rock. Not the way, say, Cheeseburger rocks, but singer Kip keeps his guitar in buzzsaw mode and the amps set to Tinitus. (Another thing you don't hear people talk about too much is how dirty the lyrics are. All innuendo, but…filthy!) I've seen TPOBPAH a bunch of times over the last year and while they've always been good, they are genuinely really good now — tight, rocking, and both Kip and Peggy have become more confident singers. This was their album release show, tour kickoff, and first performance since being bestowed (deservedly) with Pitchfork's coveted Best New Music status. The room was packed — packed! — with friends and fans, all of whom were very vocal and enthused and bobbing and swaying. The only thing that could have made it a more perfect evening would have been if it had fallen a week later on Valentine's Day.

MP3: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – The Tenure Itch (buy it)

The whole night's line-up was kind of Friends and Family Night at Mercury Lounge. TPOBPAH's Slumberland Records label-mates caUSE co-MOTION played beforehand, with what I'm pretty sure was their first ever gig at the venue. (The band favors house-parties and Cake Shop.) Spazzy, scratchy, nasally, in an endearing way, they are the Eddie Deezen of indie with a bassist who literally bounces off the walls. Peggy was right up front in the crowd bouncing around too. They play again on Thursday at Cake Shop with Kansas band Rooftop Vigilantes, and Beachniks (which features JB of Crystal Stilts).

MP3: caUSE co-MOTION – I Lie Awake (buy it)
The other two bands both featured Pains drummer Kurt Feldman. He fronts The Depreciation Guild, who meld early-'80s electronics with classic shoegaze and the do it very well. Somehow, that combination of two quote-unquote dated sounds actually makes them contemporary. They did remind me a little bit of OG shoegazers Revolver but it may have just been Kurt's vocals. A lot of American bands tried to do the dreampop thing in the '90s but almost none of them pulled it off as well as the Depreciation Guild do now. Nice light show too. They open for TPOBPAH on all dates over the next month, so do show up early if you're going to see them. The Depreciation Guild's album is a free download.

Kurt also plays drums in Zaza, who are also in the dreampop realm but a little more on the arty, 4AD side, from what I could tell from the one song I showed up in time to catch. Will have to check them out again next time.

Please do check out Pains and the Depreciation Guild on tour if you can. Videos and tour dates after the jump.

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Pains of Being Pure at Heart | In Love, on Tour

Sundays in the park with TPOBPAH

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have finally released their self-titled debut on Slumberland Records and it's a total charmer: 10 songs, endless hooks, clever lyrics, bad puns, and fuzzy guitars. I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't get the Best New Music tag when Pitchfork reviews it (tomorrow?). The band plays Mercury Lounge on Saturday, kicking off a month-long tour with The Depreciation Guild before bopping down to to SXSW. Tickets are still available, but act now, this show will be sold out before the end of the week I'm guessing.

If you miss this one, TPOBPAH play the Bell House on March 13 and that show is with England's amazing Let's Wrestle, so if you had to choose one or the other, I'd actually say wait a month. Or, like me, go to both.

: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – The Tenure Itch

You can buy the album directly from Slumberland — vinyl is a mere eight bucks…what a bargain!

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart tour dates:

2/7 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge*
2/8 – Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie*
2/9 – Washington, DC – Black Cat Backstage*
2/10 – Pittsburgh, PA – Garfield Artworks*
2/11 – Chicago, IL – Schubas*
2/12 – Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace*
2/13 – Montreal, CA – Il Motore*
2/14 – Winooski, VT – The Monkey House*
2/15 – Boston, MA – Middle East*
3/13 – Brooklyn, NY – Bell House#
3/14 – Baltimore, MD – Talking Head Club#
3/15 – Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506#
3/16 – Atlanta, GA – Earl#
3/18 – Austin, TX – SXSW – Red 7 (Terrorbird/Force Field Day Party)
3/20 – Austin, TX – SXSW – Emo’s Jr. (Slumberland Records/Cake Shop Showcase)
4/24 – Wallingford, CT – Wallingford American Legion (All Ages)
6/18 – New York, NY – Cake Shop w/ Crystal Stilts

* w/ Depreciation Guild
# w/ Let’s Wrestle

Soundbites Best of 2008 | Singles, Tracks + EPs


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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Slumberland Goes to Glasgow for Sexy Kids and Bricolage

Slumberland Records knows how to make a comeback. One of the most influential indie labels of the '90s, they went dormant, for the most part, in 2001. But then last year, like the Wonka factory, things began to stir in Slumberland land, with the label being fully revitalized this year. We've gotten great full-lengths from The Lodger and Crystal Stilts, a swell caUSE co-MOTION compilation, the awesome Searching for the Now series of split 7" singles and the promise of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart's excellent debut album due in February 2009.

Now add to that absolutely fantastic singles from two of Glasgow's best new bands.

First is Sexy Kids' debut single "Sisters are Forever," which features half of the short-lived, dearly-missed The Royal We. Like that band, it still owes a lot to that city's '80s new wave scene, though this really sounds more like Altered Images than anything on Postcard. (More specifically, it sounds like The Wedding Present's cover of "Think That it Might.") It's pretty great:

MP3Sexy Kids – Sisters are Forever (buy it from Slumberland)

MP3The Wedding Present – Think That it Might

Slumberland has also signed Bricolage who definitely evoke the Postcard sound. The band have been together for two years and have toured with Franz Ferdinand and punk legend Vic Godard (who Orange Juice covered). "Turn U Over," their fourth single, reeks of Orange Juice but yet it tastes fresh, not from concentrate, and the chorus is insanely infectious and bonkers good. I love it. 

MP3Bricolage – Turn U Over (buy from Slumberland; earlier releases on Emusic)

MP3Orange Juice – Satellite City

Bricolage's debut album, which "Turn U Over" is from, is due out in February on Slumberland.

CMJ 2008: Wednesday Picks

Women at Cake Shop, 10.21.2008


Earfarm presents Takka Takka; Sam Champion / Project Jenny, Project Jan / Drink Up Buttercup / Sister Suvi / Howlies @ Pianos 12 – 6PM

School of Seven Bells, Marnie Stern / Women / Tobacco / Faunts / Shugo Takumaru / Starfucker / Rainbow Arabia / Frontier Ruckus @ Cake Shop

Gothamist House w/ Emmy the Great / Gabriel Kahane / Bell / Nat Baldwin / Physics of Meaning / Pattern is Movement / Extra Life @ The Bell House


Elk City / Faunts / Mahogany / The Whitsundays @ The Village Underground 9PM – 1AM

Late Of The Pier / The Whip / Ki:Theory / Nickel Eye (Featuring Nikolai Fraiture of The Strokes) / As Tall As Lions @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

Scouting for Girls, Friendly Fires, Dirty Fuzz, Radio Luxembourg, Virgin Passages @ The Annex 8PM – Midnight

After the Jump Fest w/ My Teenage Stride / The Pains of Being Pure at Heart / Ringo Deathstarr / and about 17 other bands @ Knitting Factory 8PM 

I SAY: As much as I LOVE the Bell House, you basically have to dedicate yourself to staying there, 'cause it's kind of in the middle of nowhere Brooklyn. That said, it's a great lineup and easily the best, nicest, most comfortable, awesomest place that's hosting day parties this year. But for the indie ADD rest of us, it's better just to flit around the Lower East Side between Pianos and Cake Shop. I highly recommend catching Women, Faunts, Drink Up Buttercup, School of Seven Bells and Sam Champion

As for the nighttime shows, Canada's the Whitsundays make their only CMJ appearance tonight at the Friendly Fire Recordings showcase, where they play with Faunts — Paul Arnusch plays in both bands. Mahogany, who are also on that show, are pretty great too. If you could only go one place, though, head to the Knit. Three floors, lots of great distortion-pop (Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Ringo Deathstarr) and a lot of NYC's best bands. But I will not be missing Late of the Pier's US debut at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Their record is kind of brilliantly insane — part synth pop, part Queen, part metal. So curious as to see what it'll be like live.

Some MP3s…

MP3: Faunts – M4
MP3: Whitsundays – It Must Be Me
MP3School of Seven Bells – Prince of Peace
MP3Late of the Pier – The Bears are Coming

Everything Pains at Being Pure at Heart

We’ve now got the deets on The Pains at Being Pure at Heart‘s debut album, which will be coming out on the newly reinvigorated Slumberland Records (and on Fortuna Pop in the UK), which is also releasing The Crystal Stilts’ debut this fall, and the new one from caUSE co-MOTION. Here’s the tracklist:

1. Contender
2. Come Saturday
3. Young Adult Friction
4. This Love is Fucking Right
5. The Tenure Itch
6. Stay Alive
7. Everything With You
8. A Teenager in Love
9. Hey Paul
10. Gentle Sons

Given their warm, fuzzy sound, it seems entirely appropriate that the album was mixed by Archie Moore of Velocity Girl and tres-influential Black Tambourine. (And Heartworms and The Saturday People for you completists out there.) We’re going to have to wait till early ’09 for the whole shebang, but it’s first single, “Everything with You,” will be out on 7″ this fall… and on MP3 right now:

MP3: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Everything with You

Two more of the album’s tracks are available on the band’s MySpace: the lovely, jangling “Stay Alive” and a rerecording of “Come Saturday” which is the closest they’ve come to capturing the umph and volume of their live shows. (And does it remind anyone else of Teenage Fanclub’s “Starsign”?) Also on their MySpace: some curious TBD dates in Sweden — look out, Malmo?

Meanwhile, TPOBPAH are playing The Dead Herring House ( 141 S. 5th st. 1E) in Williamsburg this Friday with Baby Teardrops and the German Measels, whose singer is, according to TPOBPAH’s Kip Berman, “the guitarist from caUSE co-MOTION’s non-identical twin”… for what it’s worth.

Also, I caught the band’s show last month at Twee as Fuck’s first NYC party at Cake Shop and shot footage of them performing “The Tenure Itch.” It’s been on my YouTube page for a while but never posted it here, which I am now rectifying. Picture could be brighter but I think the sound is actually quite good:

I also reviewed their performance at NYC Popfest.

NYC Popfest: Mahogany + My Teenage Stride + The Pains of Being Pure at Heart | Music Hall of Williamsburg | 6.14.2008

Mahogany Despite the torrential rains and a slew of other shows with potentially the same audience (including Love is All, and to a lesser degree, Vampire Weekend), night three of NYC Popfest 2008 was a whole lot of fun. The venue wasn't sold-out by any means — the balcony wasn't open at all — but people who showed up stayed for all five bands on the bill, with very few people hanging at the downstairs bar during any of the performances. Indie-pop fans are dedicated. I'm breaking the evening into two posts, lest it be 10,000 words long or something, so this one covers the first three bands — all of whom are from Brooklyn.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
were the first band of the night and I was anxious to see them, as I've been liking their music for some time, the got the hot mention in L Magazine a few weeks back, and every time I read an interview they mention how much they dig The Pastels. I seemed destined to love them.

And I did. How can you not love great pop songs drenched in distortion and reverb? My Bloody Valentine comparisons abound, but to me they are more akin to Velocity Girl, if Archie had sung lead more. Or the Ropers or early Lilys or any band on Slumberland in the early '90s.

And they are very cute. In particular, keyboardist Peggy bops around on stage like one of the dancers in A Peanuts Christmas. (I'm thinking specifically of the girl who shakes her head side to side.) A friend commented "they just use distortion because they can't sing." (You should hear them play piano.) I would disagree with the not being able to sing part, but even if that was so… so what? I could name a dozen great bands who did the same. Are TPoBPaH great? With only about eight songs under their belt, too early to say. But loads of potential.

MP3: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – This Love is F-ing Right (buy)

My Teenage Stride
are seriously fun and their songs are ridiculously catchy. Sometimes maybea little too obvious in their '80s influences (why yes, that song does sound like The Chills' "Pink Frost" and that one is like The Wedding Present covering the Bunnymen…) but frontman Jedediah Smith is a thief with good taste — and a melancholic sense of humor.

A bundle of energy on stage, the songs had more oomph than on last year's quite good Ears Like Golden Bats. The popfest show was their last with bassist Mat Patalano and guitarist Dakkan Abe (I have a feeling the lineup changes a lot) and it seemed like they were determined to go out with a bang and much jumping around. Patalano, who has his own band The Specific Heats, will be particularly hard to replace — he's a real character. They also  played a few songs off their new Lesser Demons EP, and I thought "Theme from Teenage Suicide" was particularly storming.

MP3My Teenage Stride – Theme from Teenage Suicide

Mahogany_mhowSlimming down from the double rhythm section lineup they had around the time of their stellar 2006 album, Connectivity!, the now five-piece Mahogany gave the best performance of the night and it was definitely the best I'd ever seen them play. (Much much better than their muddled set at Mercury Lounge a while back.) Aided in no small part by the great sound at Music Hall of Williamsburg (which helped all the bands, actually), they just really had it together. The downsizing hasn't affected their sonics at all, which are still a huge swirl of guitars and groovy basslines. And though you could definitely call their music shoegaze, Mahogany don't stare at the floor. They were in constant motion with more than a little posing — which made for some great photos, even for a guy with a crappy point-and-shoot. They still don't seem to be able to play more than a five-song set, though. Or maybe they just know when enough's enough.

MP3: Mahogany – The View from the People Wall (buy)

More Popfest pictures on my Flickr.