We All Believe in Santogold
J.I. would now like to indulge in some NME-style hyperbole – Santogold is just the greatest thing ever. She’s smart, she’s adorable, and her record is an exercise in how to do genre-hopping right. The album, which was released yesterday, has been in constant repeat on our iPod, and even though we’re seen her twice before already, we were squirming in our seats waiting for her show at New York’s Virgin Megastore yesterday.
Taking the stage half an hour late to a packed house, Santogold did not disappoint. Flanked by her two sexy-Farrakhan backup dancers, she kicked off the set with “LES Artistes,” the B-Side to her original “Creator” single. She slammed through the super-upbeat “Say Aha” and dubby, “Shove It,” then paused to introduce her new DJ, a Brit who had never visited New York before. She then false-started “Anne,” stopping a few seconds in to pick up forgotten tambourines, exclaiming “I do this every damn time!’
At this point, the audience was pretty much eating out of her hand. Santogold is cute as all hell, and behind all the giggles and little girl voice, she’s smart and tough and a seasoned music business vet and songwriter. J.I. was excited to see her in the latest issue of Teen Vogue; after years of ditzy teenagers, she’s the cool older sister young women need.
After “Anne” and “You’ll Find A Way,” and J.I.’s favorite, “Unstoppable,” Santogold stopped to thank the audience. She got all choked up, saying she’d had a rough week (rumor has it that she lost a close friend in a car accident last week) and that she couldn’t believe the day of her record release was finally here. She closed the show with “Creator,” her theme song. She truly is a creator, thrilling in making it up, and what she’s doing is putting her on a lot of radars.
Idol Chatter: Coming to America ...
This morning Jaded Insider tried to recall if there were any episodes in “Idol” seasons past that amounted to a bigger train wreck than the chaos that was Neil Diamond night. Aside from the few shocker elimination episodes (Tamyra Gray from Season 1 instantly came to mind), we got nothin’. Last night was a mess. Period.
To sum it up, it was a whirlwind of cram-absolutely-everything-imaginable-into-60-minutes episode featuring a perverse order of two-song singing/judging and Paula Abdul at her peak of bizarre-o.
Come to think of it, all the judges appeared to be functioning in an alternate universe of sorts. Obviously the night’s biggest flub was Paula critiquing a song Jason Castro didn’t even sing, which led us to speculate how exactly the paper on which they wrote said critiques came to be. But in any case, aside from that, Simon called David Cook’s flashback-to-a-bad-wedding-in-1989 crapola power ballad take on “All I Really Need is You” (ohh, the oh-so-touching electric guitar searing through the background) “modern,” Syesha was talked down to, again, and so help us, if we hear David Archuletta heralded as a “prodigy” one more friggin time …
We’re still struggling with who did what and how they did and what the hell plastic/pleather logo thing was on David Cook’s jacket, but for what it’s worth, we look for Brooke (who wrote lyrics on her hand) or Syesha to get canned.
Meanwhile, this little news item was a bigger distraction for us yesterday than anything that went down on last night’s actual episode. A pillow case? Seriously?
My Top 8: Frightened Rabbit
On April 15, Fat Cat released the digital-only version of the band's "Midnight Organ Fight" in the U.S.; yesterday (April 29), it hit the shelves. The set itself is a crumbling, raw collection of songs on hissing heartache, a mix of punk, pop, rock and folk that explodes feral emotion without regard to delicate language or sensibility.
It's beautiful and often angry, with a rhythm section as precise as it is loud and a double-guitar attack to knock your ex straight off of his/her pedestal. Opening track "Modern Leper" is worthy of a few hundred listens on its own. Verse, chorus, chorus revamp, instrumental breakdown... the major chords dropping to the minor... the crescendo... the aftermath. It's like "Mr. Brightside" with less-tended facial hair.
Lead singer/guitarist Scott Hutchison delivers his epic brogue with words that skipped the whole pen-to-paper bit -- its like a very clever stream of consciousness, all the stuff you wish you'd said at the time of the break but were too tired/dumbstruck/drunk/sad to sputter.
Lucky us, the quartet is performing in the U.S. again starting May 24 and will also be supporting the excellent French Kicks for quite a few dates.
Hutchison took time out to tell us about the band's Top 8 on Myspace.
- FatCat Records - These ladies and gentlemen helped us to make our second record and for that they can call themselves our bestest friends.
- The Twilight Sad - Our favourite band on the planet, now and until the end of time. They are of course a set of absolute cocksuckers. You can't have everything.
- 30 Milkshakes - This guy and gal management machine are knocking on doors all over the USA canvassing for the election of Frightened Rabbit as presidents of charming indie rock. YES they wear rosettes and YES they kiss babies and tiny dogs, but this has nothing to do with us.
- We Were Promised Jetpacks - The best new band in Scotland (and therefore the UK) right now. They are taking a break because their drummer went to Germany to study flowers and bricks, but they will be back to melt face in the summer. They should consider themselves very lucky to be in our top 8 after the incident involving the sale of pirated copies of our new album down at The Barras. Be careful boys. Be very careful.
- Rock Plaza Central - They made our second favourite record of last year (Are We Not Horses?) and also happen to be traveling on the good ship 30milkshakes! We hope to be playing some shows with them in the UK this summer.
- Ross Clark - A great friend, a true gentleman and a chemistry scholar. He also writes some of the most honest and heartfelt songs around. He's in there because of all the Central Belt adventures we've had at rock shows/concerts/fights.
- Zoey Van Goey - It may seem like damning with faint praise, but I think everyone who has ever met them agrees that Zoey Van Goey are the NICEST band in the WORLD! Matt, Kim and Michael John also write the most charming and wonderful songs so if you get the chance to see them, I guarantee they will melt your heart like a fondue thingy.
- Right On Dynamite - Three chaps from Brooklyn with the greatest line in stage props I've ever seen. They have it all - The Good Luck Aquarium, The Good Luck Frog and the Good Luck Armadillo. Its like Pink Floyd but LUCKIER! We hope to get some shows together soon so we can embark on the Good Luck Tour!
Playing Games: Putting Indie Rock in GTA IV
While Jaded Insider is still waiting to pick up his copy of the game that analysts expect to set sales records Evan Merz, who runs the blog This is Not a Label, has put together a 60 minute MP3 full of indie acts such as The Libertines, Beware Fashionable Women and The Bombers. The music is meant to be listened to while playing the game, which keep in mind, already has a staggering 18 radio stations and over 200 songs.
The stations not only play music but have DJ chatter and Merz has even gone so far to include his own. Whether its as good as what the developers at Rockstar have put in their game, we’ll leave for others to decide. [Via Destructoid]
Coachella Day Three: My Morning Back Pain
Kentucky Fried Music: We were looking forward to seeing My Morning Jacket as much as anything at the festival, and are thrilled to know that the Louisville five-piece delivered in spades. From the opening notes of “One Big Holiday,” the band worked the stage with authority. Singer/guitarist Jim James frequently dashed from one side of the stage to the other, his huge black-and-white moon boots propelling him with every step. The group’s passion was palpable and undeniable. MMJ was then joined by M. Ward for “Off the Record,” a sprawling, reggae-tinged jam that borrows its main riff from the theme to “Hawaii Five-O.”
“I’m Amazed” from the band’s upcoming LP “Evil Urges” (due June 10th) kept the heat on, with a memorable guitar riff and excellent Fender Rhodes touches from keyboardist Bo Koster. Other “Evil” tracks previewed included “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream (Part 1)," the funky, robotic “Highly Suspicious,” the Chi-Lites-quoting “Smokin from Shootin,” and current single “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream (Part 2)," which closed the show. “Wordless Chorus, ” “Anytime, and “Gideon” from 2005’s “Z” also rang out triumphantly as the sun set on the festival’s final day. With the breadth and depth of this set -- and the promise of their forthcoming fifth studio album fulfilled -- it’s safe to say that My Morning Jacket stands as one of best, if not the best band in America today. James has always been a great songwriter, but the group’s live dynamic is continuing to gel in an even more impressive fashion underneath his songs.
Their willingness to incorporate non-traditional sounds (and effectively weave them into memorable melodic compositions) lends them the creative heft that separates them from many of their contemporaries and lifts their music above the familiar constraints of genres such as indie or Southern rock. We expect that this band’s creative trajectory is still on the rise, and are sure that they will continue to win over listeners along the way.
Look But Don't Listen: One of the most unnecessarily frustrating sets of the weekend came courtesy of Spiritualized. The band’s performance was plagued by a multitude of sound problems throughout, most obviously the nearly constant feedback emanating from frontman Jason Pierce’s acoustic guitar. Accompanied by three harmonists, Fender Rhodes and a string quartet, Pierce could have turned it into a stunner. Sadly, the string section inexplicably remained inaudible for the entirety of the set. In fact, the members of the quartet did not appear to be mic’ed at all. Fortunately, several of the musicians were easy enough on the eyes to somewhat mitigate the sonic incongruity. (Dark haired violinist: we can’t hear a note you’re playing, but you sure are pretty.) “Lord Let It Rain On Me” from 2003’s “Amazing Grace” and the Daniel Johnston cover “True Love Will Find You” rose above the fray. “Amen” and “Going Down Slow” were also attempted, as was “Soul on Fire,” the lead single from forthcoming LP “Songs in A&E.” We’d love to hear how this was supposed to sound, and would gladly give it another chance under more conducive circumstances.
Never Lost That Feeling: The members of Swervedriver took the stage looking like the guests of honor at a poorly attended surprise birthday party. Their looks of disappointment upon seeing the mostly-empty Mojave Tent were evident, but the group soldiered on undaunted, opening with “Sandblasted” from 1991’s “Raise.” They were damn tight though, despite having not played together for nearly 10 years. And although physically they may have looked their age, the youthful rockers inside of them were totally taking over as they roared through an almost unbearably loud survey of their catalog. “The Birds” from 1995’s import-only “Ejector Seat Reservation,” “Dual” from 1993’s Mezcal Head,” and “These Times” from 1998’s “99th Dream” followed in succession, with each tune sounding better than the last.
Singer/guitarist Adam Franklin, never one to exhibit perfect pitch live, emoted more than crooned and effectively transmitted the heart and soul of each song to the assembled devotees. Drummer Jez seemed thrilled to be back behind the kit, punishing his cymbals and shooting the audience demented, bug-eyed glance during “Last Train to Satansville.” While the band revealed some of the limitations that prevented it from reaching the lofty heights of Creation label-mates like Oasis, they nonetheless demonstrated a resiliency and unapologetic, no-frills rawness that one couldn’t help but admire.