Sunday, August 18, 2013

Premier League in the Modern Rock Lexicon

Outside of music there are a couple other hobbies that make me tick. Surf being one of them...which from time to time has crossover here. But, another big one, is my love for the beautiful game. To that end - I compiled a music to English footy converter (some of the references are pretty inside to the nuances of the league, but even if you aren't a fan, should be fun). Happy Premier League (here's an accompanying playlist).

Arsenal = Phoenix. This band plays to economies of scale…you know what you’re going to get: lively, entertaining, contagious French-tinged pop. Consistent enough…these guys have the ability to knock you off your feet and will make sure -you never forget they’re around.

Aston Villa = The Strokes. At one time, the absolute coolest kid in the room…but in the past few years have fallen far from grace. Their debut, Is This It? proved to be such an influential record that you never want to wish ill will on em…but c’mon get your shit together!

Cardiff City = Tame Impala. Where did these guys come from? Their sophomore release jettisoned them to the top. Swirling, hazy and damn catchy psych tunes have them playing just about every major music festival and now, the eyes of the world are seemingly fixed on what’ll happen next. I predict they back it up.

Chelsea = Vampire Weekend. We know their story. Privileged, well-heeled, Ivy League educated kids from the Upper West Side. After you get over that – they have the chops to back up all the shit talking you might spew to your bestfriend that loves them. Their third album debuted at the top and proved to be a musical shift for one of indie-rocks heavyweights. These guys will be at or near the top for the foreseeable future. Accessible to the masses with a desire to always produce tunes true to their history and environs.

Crystal Palace = Ryan Adams. The only singer/songwriter on the list. Adams has had career full of the highest highs and lowest lows. He’s all cleaned up and sober these days and after swearing the whole damn thing off - he’s inched his way back to the top of the fold of his craft and even snagged the pretty girl while he was at it (Mandy Moore).

Everton = Wilco. Been around so long your dad loves them and with achievements like their near-perfect release, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, you can understand why. They’ve released a couple average records that somewhat dilutes their catalogue but sturdy and hardworking are adjectives that come to mind…one of the stalwarts in the music scene.

Fulham = Spoon. These guys have been pumping out straight-ahead indie rock n roll for years. No frills but hailing from uber-hip Austin…they count youthful fans and veteran hipsters among their fold. With the up and down trends that occur in music these days – you can always rely on a Spoon album. Steady like a historical landmark that continues to stand the test of time.

Hull City = Twin Shadow. The buzzy and handsome, George Lewis Jr creates tightly wound pop music that has been a success at the clubs and on the airwaves. But is his sound too derivative for his own good? We’ll see…

Liverpool = Mumford & Sons. Led by a pudgy little man…you personally can’t stand them but you have friends that are obsessed with ‘em. Confused that they are considered one of the big draws with only a couple albums of stomp and clap music you hear down the street at O’Briens pub. You want to slit your wrists when ‘that guy’ tells you (sloppily drunk) about his transcendental experience when he saw them at The Gorge.

Manchester City = Arcade Fire. A band at the top of the world that has studios (bought a Church to record in), collaborators (David Byrne), producers (James Murphy!) and headlining festival slots at their disposal. These guys have maintained their thoughtful, orchestrated sound on all of their records and collected hardware along the way. Call ‘em a juggernaut.

Manchester United = Radiohead. The most storied band on the list and certainly owners of the biggest name power…a global brand if you will. Everyone you know tunes in when there is something to listen to and you can’t help but be amazed at their success and how incredibly talented they are. A universal fan-favorite.

Newcastle = M83. This Frenchman bounces between fast-paced dancehall ready tracks and all out epic orchestral scores. Had incredible success two years ago but has been quietly at work on a follow-up with hopes of returning to the fine form that got people talking.

Norwich City = The xx. The London band’s self-titled debut album left them on critic’s end of year lists and catapulted them into the spotlight. However, their follow up gave listeners basically the same thing and fell a bit flat…leaving them in the same place they were before. Will their 3rd album break the mold? Can they start punching above their weight?

Southampton = Local Natives. Buzz-worthy newcomers with something to prove and a body of work that makes you think they’ll be around for a while. Youthful energy, musical chops and style for days…these guys have shown flash and have a handful of critically acclaimed performances under their belts.

Stoke City = Fleet Foxes. These guys stick to one thing and that thing is folk music. Some people think it’s boring but they’ve enjoyed a run of success over the past few years. One thing to note – drummer and vocalist, Josh Tillman – now known as Father John Misty - has left the band…was he an integral part to their gameplan?

Sunderland = Arctic Monkeys. Blue-collar rock n roll that has equal parts sass, flair and garage-grit. Enjoyed incredible buzz and success right out of the gates but have since leveled off to an act that everyone is generally fond of. After the new car sheen wore off they sorta just started to ‘exist’ rather than continually impress.

Swansea = Grizzly Bear. Tidy, intricate, and at times, challenging. But, most every music fan you know – enjoys them. Sophisticated with flair for melody. Love to listen to them on record and live.

Tottenham = The National. Rock solid, beautiful and dependable. This band is always at the top of the bill and knocking on the door as a big powerhouse headliner. They’re tenured with a touch of youthful spark. Matt Berninger’s lyrics are deep and sometimes dark…leaving their fans feeling a bit morose and reflective at times.

West Bromwich = The Black Keys. Hardworking garage rock heroes that have enjoyed a few years of success - after earning every bit of it. From their first album to their seventh, you know what you’re gonna get cruncy, hooky, bluesy bar rock… and, though they don’t change the sound up all that often – you know it’ll be good.

West Ham = Nine Inch Nails. The on-and-off again ear-bruising band punches you in the mouth with studio sonic tricks and a strong rhythm backbone. Also, their hardcore fans will probably scare the shit out of you.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Morning Soundtrack - Lollapalooza 2013 Edition

As an LA resident, Coachella has become somewhat of an annual regional holiday. I don't always attend but like a friend's yearly holiday party, the option is always there. Lollapalooza on the other-hand has always seemed distant, mis-understood and definitely awesome. Therefore, it was with little convincing that a group of west-coasters head back and shack up with some third coasters for a weekend of Grant Park musical exploration.

A few quick hits...

- Grant Park provides a near perfect backdrop for a festival of this size. The skyline, the foliage but...
- ...bring comfortable shoes. At nearly a mile, cruising from main stage to main stage is a HAUL.
- The seen or be seen vibe of Coachella makes way for hmmm...questionable dressing decisions and generally a friendlier, 'lake-hippy' attitude. It's a festival full of people just like that one kid from Wisconsin that lived a couple doors down in your freshman dorm.
- Trees are the best form of group leadership. I can assure you that you'll never lose your friends.
- Phoenix have completely transformed themselves to a festival headliner...this is a good thing.
- Back to the long haul. Don't sacrifice a great time you're having in justice of what's going on at insert band's set across the way...we'll call this the FOMO syndrome.
- Two 'under-the-radar/see these guys now' sets: Lianne La Havas, Palma Violets.
- Four 'these guys are total pros' sets: Phoenix (see above), Grizzly Bear, Hot Chip and The National (missed 'em but the good word was passed along...and yeah, it's the National at a festival).
- That's about it. Chicago is a great city to host a festival. It's easy to get to, the food/drink in the city is a great jumping off point for a day full of music. And a weekend like this provides nothing more communal and healthy for maintaining long-distance friendships. The general let's forget about what we do Monday through Friday mentality, doesn't hurt either.