Sunday, April 27, 2008

Nada Surf - Live at Terminal 5, NYC 4/11/08

Remember Nada Surf? A staple of my adolescence, their first single in the mid-90s was the teenage rock anthem "Popular" - a blend of witty spoken word and hard rock guitar riffs that exploded through my speakers for well over a year.

Well contrary to popular belief, Nada Surf never left. Much like Semisonic, they were a trio that was defined by one song in the 90s but actually held quite a substantial catalog of quality songs. Unlike Semisonic, Nada Surf has continued to put out new music, including their new album Lucky, which is currently in the running for my album of the year.

I was fortunate enough to catch Nada Surf here in NYC at a recent show that they co-headlined with good friends Superdrag. While Superdrag lived up to their live show reputation (and graciously played "Sucked Out"), Nada Surf blew the night open. They played everything I could have asked for except "Imaginary Friends." However, as a special treat, they played "Popular" which they do not play very often. Matthew Caws prefaced the song by explaining that "contrary to popular opinion, we don't hate playing this song." This was news to me and my friends since we had heard for years that they didn't play it live anymore because they were sick of it. Instead, they played an inspired performance much to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd.

After rolling through favorites such as "Happy Kid," "What Is Your Secret?", and "Killian's Red," Caws asked the audience to get into a Motown feel for "Inside of Love." After a quick demonstration, everyone in the crowd was stepping right and left with the beat while clapping over our heads. It was a beautiful moment and a highlight of the night.

One surprise on the night was the addition of Calexico member, Martin Wenk on keyboard, synthesizer, and horns. He was amazing and especially fantastic in the encore.

After playing most of their old favorites and almost everything off Lucky, the band finished off their first set with a great rendition of "See These Bones." As the band strode off the stage, I was already formulating my encore wish list. I knew they would play "Blizzard of '77" and "Blankest Year" but I still wanted to hear "Imaginary Friends." Caws and Co. came back on stage after a short break to explain that they wanted to play 4 songs in 15 minutes so they had to hurry.

Of course, they opened with "Blizzard" but then strategically moved into a well played "Blonde on Blonde." To follow, they played the fan favorite "Always Love" to a great response. And in a classy move, they squeezed in "Blankest Year," much to my own happiness. Wenk was absolutely awesome during this song and added a great horn to this already uptempo tune.

On the whole, the night was absolutely phenomenal. It has been so long since Nada Surf has held much mainstream relevance, but I could feel their resurgence with the 2,000+ fans who packed Terminal 5 to rock out with them.

It's nice to see them getting the recognition they have deserved all along and once again, getting back on top of the indie rock scene.

I've got two songs for you below, one old and one new, but make sure to check out the video captured by a fellow fan from the night. And of course, go buy Lucky. It's got the Lil' D stamp of approval.

Nada Surf -

Nada Surf -
*See These Bones.mp3

"Popular" - Live at Terminal 5, 4/11/08

"Killian's Red" - Live at Terminal 5, 4/11/08

"Blankest Year" - Live at Terminal 5, 4/11/08

Friday, April 11, 2008

Austin TX Can Really Go To Your Head

Chuckleberry superstition brought on by the dead / Got inside my constitution ate up all my head / Take me down to nowhere that's where I belong / Keep it going beautiful don't try and get me wrong / Sideshow snakebites got me in the mood / Switched over to decaf hate to be so rude / Operating allnight need some quick relief / Released in the ocean with your sharklike teeth

She'll use all the closet brass in her little pipe / Smoking in those wingtips kissing it goodnight / Damage done soliloquy highwater gash / Firehose nosewater need a little cash / Swimmin in her boxcar her scents in my beard / There's gonna be a fireworks display everyone is weird / Sperm kitchen headache everywhere I turn / Shallowwire snakeskin maybe I’ll never learn

She got the gun she got the gun again / Sippin on a pipe razor packed and smokin Indochina / She got the gun that refunked the fire / That refunked my redirectory

Jabberwocky pignut caramella White wall disaster ocean surf chumps

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

New Matt the Electrician Song

This news makes my heart happy. Head on over to this blog to hear/download Matt the Electrician's new song "Got Your Back." It's exactly what you would expect from MtE - a simple acoustic arrangement complimented by his raspy but sincere voice. A little whistling and soft horns are thrown in for good measure.

MtE is another Austin staple and one that I would love to see more of out here in NYC. Apparently he'll be making a trip some time in late May. Last time he came out, he only did a 30 minute set at the Living Room. Luckily, the first time I saw him open at the Saxon Pub for Bob Schneider in Austin, he had a full set to impress me enough to buy three of his CDs. Hopefully the new one comes out soon.

I think he and Norah Jones should get together and start creating something. Their sounds would be perfect together!

Check it out his MySpace page for further proof. He's got a great playlist going on there.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Bad Plus - Live at the Blue Note, NYC 3/20/08

So if you haven't heard of The Bad Plus yet, you should really jump on the bandwagon. A contemporary jazz trio that really brings the house down, they guys are incredibly talented at each of their respective instruments.

(photo of the guys backstage before playing Late Night with Conan O'Brien)

Ethan Iverson, pianist, is the ultimate intellectual nerd. Funny and utterly amusing, Iverson tells elaborate stories that introduce and explain the following song - but always dressed in his usual suit and tie. One great story in particular was about a 1980 Olympic ski jumper who won the gold medal and then did a spontaneous dance in celebration on each of the next 365 days. The song was "1980 World Champion" off their newest album, Prog.

Reid Anderson, bassist, is an extremely talented musician, driving the songs forward and providing a unique texture to the band's sound.

The real gem of the band however, is drummer David King. King is originally from Minneapolis, so you know he's legit. When Brian McLeod left Mason Jennings' band to play for Atmosphere, King stepped in to record Boneclouds with Mason. King's abilities are only explained through first hand viewings, as his ridiculous control and energy seem to be from some superhuman entity, not a regular man from the Midwest. He can be playing incredibly fast but as quiet as you could imagine when, unexpectedly, he leaps from his chair to reach over and tickle the underside of his drums in one fluid and mind boggling motion. Without a doubt, I have no qualms about crowning him the best drummer in the world that I have ever seen or heard.

On the night I saw them, they were on fire from the first note. After playing two songs, including "Let Our Garden Grow," Iverson first addressed the crowd. Throughout the course of the night they played a slew of amazing tunes like "Cheney Pinata" and "Dirty Blond" ("in reference to the hair color" - Iverson).

And of course, they played one of their trademark rock covers. While some of their more famous ones are "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "We Are the Champions" and Aphex Twin's "Flim," we were lucky enough to catch Blondie's "Heart of Glass." An incredible arrangement, the guys took the song to a new level.

Unfortunately, about five drunk 20-somethings thought the Blue Note would be the perfect place to come after a pregaming session. Thanks for that.

However, the night was a great experience and I can't recommend a live show highly enough. The only way I can truly relay their performance is to leave you with a live clip of them playing Aphex Twin's "Flim." It's better quality sound and picture than the one I posted last time, so I hope you enjoy it. Make sure you check out King at around 1:44 and 3:00 - pure genius - and don't miss the drum tickle at 3:30.