Friday, November 28, 2008

Review, The Killers, Day & Age

First of all, The Killers was probably the first indie band that I was really into, so obviously it's such an important moment when they come back with their third studio album. But, being a huge fan of their earlier work, specially Hot Fuss, I'm a bit disappointed with the new album.

On one side, they stepped back a little bit from the arena rock style of Sam's Town, and incorporated more elements of their debut, which was a nice movement, especially because the U2 inspired Sam's Town pissed a lot of people. Plus they expanded their sound, having different rhythms such as salsa, samba and afro beats. They are an ambitious band and pay close attention to what's going on the pop world. Thus, they write a chorus a la MGMT ("Neon Tiger") and incorporate African influences like Vampire weekend did ("This is your life"). The final result is a record with a lot of different sides, one that shows a band with a strong will to grow. How can someone be pissed by things like that? No wonder, most reviews have been positive. The killers became very mature, everyone says. But I say there's no real passion here.

Yes, it's true that most reviews have been positive, but no one is really saying that this is the album of the year or something like that. Why? Simply because it's not! It's not even close. Sure they show a lot of faces, but the final product is more like a collection of songs than an album. There's too much variation. They don't show exactly what they want to be. Trying to be different things, the band manages to be almost nothing.

Another problem is the lack of guitars in the record. At many points, everything seems too slow, too pop, too... Coldplay! This is not necessarily a bad thing if you like Coldplay, but isn't having Keane bad (good?) enough?

Not everything is bad news, thought. The best moment is easily "Spaceman". With a great chorus and high speed, this is one of the greatest tracks of the year. Lead single "Human" delivers a very nice dance feeling and, even thought it could be faster, it's almost instant pleasure. A plus here is the non sense phrase "Are we human or are we dancer?". The simple fact that a lot of people cared about the meaning of this makes it pretty cool. "Neon Tiger" is sure a bit weird and may not please in the first listen but it grows a lot on you once you give it enough time. It has the potential to become a very good single.

"A Dustland Fairytale" revisits Sam's Town being one of the best songs in the first listen, but even after sometime listening to it, I still think it's a good song. "Losing Touch" is a bit slow and has some weird instruments. It's not a bad song but it sounds so small compared to their past works. Finally, bonus track "A Crippling Blow" is one of the best surprises. How could this be out of the album if it's better than half of the tracks?

Songs like "Good night, travel well" and "Joy Ride" are simply horrible and it can be a challenge to hear them more than once. "The world we live in" and "I can't stay" are not bad, but are easily forgettable and it's hard to see how can they could be better than the tracks in Sawdust. More or less the same is true for "This is your life". With an afro beat that reminds me of The Lion King, this could fit in a Disney movie but common! We're talking about The Killers here!

My grades for each track: (out of 10):
Losing Touch 7
Human 8.5
Spaceman 9.5
Joy Ride 3
A Dustland Fairytale 7.5
This Is Your Life 5.5
I Can't Stay 5
Neon Tiger 8
The World We Live In 5.5
Goodnight, Travel Well 2
A Crippling Blow 6.5
Forget About What I said 5.5
Tidalwave 5

To sum up, there is an outstanding single ("Spaceman"), two very good songs ("Human" and "Neon Tiger") and more two or three good songs. Thus I would say that they released an album that is half good, half very bad.

So what's the big deal? Many bands around don't have even half an album that is good right? Yes, that's right, Day & Age is tolerable, but it's still far behind their previous stuff...

Final grade: 6 (out of 10)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The 10 best songs of 2008

Lists are one of my favorite things to do when I don't want to work but yet can't stand to be busy getting depressed. And you know, the year is ending, and the temptation of making "best of" lists is growing. Ideally, I would like to wait for the end of the year, but given prospects for the end of the year (and most notably, the fact that the new Franz's album comes out only next year), I thought it was safe to do a list of my most favorite tracks of the year. 

It wasn't an easy job and I had to exclude amazing tracks from acts that really impressed me during 2008 such as Metallica and Katy Perry. But the final result is a good summary of my preferences and you can see it below. Later I'll possibly do lists of best concerts and albums, but you can get some hints from below. In particular, it's not hard to imagine that MGMT will score pretty high in the other lists also. It's hard for me to describe how much I like their debut album. It's probably true that I listened to The Subways All or Nothing more this year, but MGMT touches me in a deeper sense. it's fun and danceable like other bands that I like, but it gave something new, that basically nobody else is doing, while The Subways album wasn't really a big surprise, given their debut album.  

MGMT's only real competitor would be Franz Ferdinand's Tonight, but that comes out in January... so it's time to pretend MGMT is the biggest planet on earth! Enough bullshit (sarcasm?), let's get down to business!  

And the best 10 songs of the year are:
10. Never Miss a Beat, Kaiser Chiefs:
No, this is not very deep, but Kaiser Chiefs never was and that's exactly the point. They are not the kind of band to be taken seriously and they know that. They also know that few bands are better to party and that's their strength. Plus, I keep thinking about the whole irony in taking a PHD and listening to a track that says "It's cool to know nothing". It's stupid and brilliant at the same time.

9. Discipline, Nine Inch Nails:
The weight behind Nine Inch Nails tracks always turned me on. And here they add to that weight a disco beat, something perfect for a fan of Metallica and Franz like me.

8. If You Seek Amy, Britney Spears:
After everybody tried to "kill" her and yet she's around, it became easier to like her. Plus this is surprisingly ambiguous (If you're sick of me?) and interesting. Everybody loves a comeback and I'm no exception to that rule.

7. Walcott, Vampire Weekend:
If you know me, you knew that I would put Vampire Weekend somewhere here. I just think it's so easy to like them. Like The Strokes, they are all about having fun with great pop tunes, but without being just another copycat... Why this track? Because they closed Popped Music Festival with that and it's fucking great live. A good summary of how good they are.

6. Great DJ, The Ting Tings:
They have so many hits that it was quite hard to choose which track to put here. I chose this one because it's more like the typical indie anthem, and because it was the the track that made me fall in love with them.

5. Alice Practice, Crystal Castles:
Being nice or not with fans, "stealing" or not music from other artists, nobody can deny that Crystal Castles have now their place in music history. As a sample of their greatness, this track is crazy live, it's like the world is falling apart, one of those feelings that it's hard to describe, you have to experience it yourself...

4. Time To Pretend, MGMT:
This is the kind of track that fits everywhere. In movies soundtracks, in dancefloors, at home. MGMT is the coolest band of the year and a good part of that is due to this amazing song.

3. Spaceman, The Killers:
The Killers are one of those bands that you either love or hate. I was always at the love side but the new album didn't impress me that much. However things are different with this song. The synthesizers are all over the place, the chorus is close to perfection... this is everything that puts Hot Fuss among my most favorite albums. I just wished the rest of Day & Age was nearly this good.

2. Shake! Shake!, The Subways:
This is the number one song in my It combines the energy of their first album with, say, the balls of their sophomore cd. Something, to say the least, very impressive. For sometime this year, I could hardly listen to anything else.

1. Kids, MGMT:
From the best album of 2008, comes the best song of the year. Like most of their album, Kids is simply irresistible: It's danceable, fun, original (for this decade's standards...). It's a symbol of the year when New York (more specifically Brooklyn) was put definitely back in the map of indie rock. Whether this band will still be around 2 years from now, it's not clear, but in 2008 they were THE band!



So, 10 million years later, I'm writing again here, but from now on, I promise to update the blog at least once a month. A lot of stuff happened with me since the last time I wrote here. I passed the qualifiers (YEAH!), saw Muse in Brazil, got chicken pocks (seriously, I almost died...), started to teach undergrads... Now I'm going more often to concerts and less often to dance clubs. I still like to dance but there are so many amazing bands to see at New York. Plus I still didn't find the "right" club for me. Webster Hall does a decent job most of the time, but it can suck hard sometimes and it's always the same...

As for the sickness, this semester has been very hard for me. I was always very healthy but now I'm getting sick more easily. Now I'm fine but I get the feeling things can get ugly if I get sick again. That is so because I feel it may be an allergy to my new place (or at least, that's what the doctor told me). The problem is that I don't want to move out, so I really hope it's not an allergy, that I just had bad luck and things will start to get better from now on.

Today is Thanksgiving day and I spent the day completely alone, without talking to anyone. It's surprising how that can be sad and comforting at the same time. The sad part comes from realizing that I don't have real friends here and nobody really cares if I'm dead or alive. The comforting part comes from realizing that I'm not so bad this. It's good to have a time of my own and it's good to know that I can do amazing stuff without relying on other people. Such mixed feelings pretty much sum up what I am and what inspired the title of this blog. A contradiction...

Since almost everything in my life involves music, I'm listening to Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams now. I survived a lot of challenges in my life but in the end I'm always going on, but alone. The problem is that I'm tired of that and want to make real friends. And although I'm anti-social by nature, I keep trying. The result is almost always bad but I can't help. I do have to try. Changing Green Day's lyrics, I would say that I'm still alive but I don't necessarily (don't want to) walk alone... 

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Review-The Subways, All Or Nothing

Since this leaked to the internet two days ago (the official release is June, 30), I think it's a good time for a review of this, in my opinion, very underrated band.
Being a fan of the good debut Young For Eternity, I awaited this anxiously but was a bit scared about the quality. Not that I always believed the so called "2nd album curse" but The Fratellis with their less than average follow up gave me reasons to be worried...
Now that I heard All Or Nothing, here's my veredict, track by track:

Girls & Boys: The lead single and opener is a great choice for those roles. Explosive and with a lot of energy. I love this one.
Kalifornia: At first the album version of this "old" song (they played this in many many shows in the past years) didn't impress me that much. Now I see a growing potential but it's still not them at their best. I think it's too melodic for The Subways, if you know what I mean. But the guitar riff is quite cool.
Alright: Another one that is very melodic but definitely better than Kalifornia. Charlotte's cute backing vocals give it an extra charm.
Shake Skake!: I really like this one. Powerful chorus and riff.
Move To Newlyn: I don't know. They did stuff like this before, but I really don't like it right now. Too cute for me...
All Or Nothing: A couple of good surprises in the middle. A good song, but nothing extraordinary.
I won't let you down: The best song of the album, together with Shake Shake! I bet it will be a single.
Turnaround: Here we're actually seeing them trying some new tricks. This is faster, more grunge rock. Like it a lot!
Obssession: This is boring. The guitar doesn't impress and the vocals are not that inspired. It gets a bit better in the end.
Strawberry Blonde: This is good to sleep and this is definitely not a compliment...
Always Tomorow: The way it changes pace from slow to fast is interesting. Nothing more.
Lostboy: This is also good to sleep. Do I need to say more?

In summary, some kick- ass songs and some that are horrible. Comparisons to their debut? It's not fair do those right now. It depends on how much the good songs of this will grow on me. But so far I would say both albums are at the same level. Yes, the "2nd album curse" often attacks (hello The Fratellis) but some bands are able to not disappoint us...

Grade: In a 0-10 scale, 7.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Review, The Ting Tings, We Started Nothing

Vou postar em português algumas vezes aqui (talvez traduza isso mais tarde se tiver saco...).

Bom, primeiramente tudo que você ler abaixo e meio viesado porque esse um dos meus cds favoritos entre os lançados esse ano (junto com o do Offspring). Segundo, por ora, releve a possível ausência de acentos (meu teclado não está bem configurado mas vou corrigir logo).
Agora vamos ao que interessa. A coisa mais obvia sobre esse álbum e que, a despeito (ou não) de todo o hype e de toda a aura de cool por trás dele ("culpa" da NME?), você não vai ver coisas muito esquisitas e e provável que ate sua irmãzinha fã de Hannah Montana comece a dançar ouvindo. The Ting Tings são pop, pop sem vergonha e sem medo de ser feliz. Comparar com alguma coisa? Eles são bem diferentes do Cansei de Ser Sexy, mas o espirito de parties sem se preocupar e semelhante.
Em Great DJ, a banda se apresenta com o tipico hit indie , com uma guitarra, principalmente no refrão, mais do que viciante. That's not my name, a música que desbancou Madonna do topo do UK Charts (Isso mesmo, do topo! Se voce nao sabia ainda, e normal o susto...) tem uma bateria bem maneira e eu acho demais ouvir "They call me Staceyyy", sendo realmente um hit instantaneo. Mas e meio longa, e isso pode cansar alguns.
Shut up and let me go, a musica do comercial do ipod (outro ponto em comum com o CSS!) e a que chega mais perto da perfeicão: rápida, ótimo refrão e não e tao longa quanto That's not my name. Diria que sera o maior sucesso deles aqui nos EUA. Se você tem pouca paciência com bandas que esta conhecendo, tente essa primeiro.
Fruit Machine segue a linha de diversão sem compromisso que você vê em quase todo o cd. foi a que mais me surpreendeu ao vivo. Keep your head e minha favorita do álbum, talvez por causa do refrão, e aquela música para cantar e se divertir e eu adoro isso. A faixa título também e por ai, não e tao empolgante quanto keep your head, mas da para se divertir bastante com ela.
We walk e Be the one são musicas bonitinhas e calminhas. Não e meu estilo favorito, mas Be The One principalmente deve conquistar alguns fas. Nao me surpreenderia se virasse single.
Como não existe álbum perfeito, Impacilla Carpisung e chatinha. Você não vai perder nada se pular ...
Resumindo, um ótimo álbum pop. Não vai revolucionar o mundo da música mas não foi feito com esse objetivo anyway. Apenas diversão, essa e a mensagem dos Ting Tings. Aproveite!

Nota: De 0 a 10, 9.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Popped Music Festival, Philadelphia, 06/21/2008

After my vacation started (last thursday) I was thinking: Is there a better way to celebrate the international day of music than with a big music festival?
Ok, Popped isn't that big but it was very special for me for 2 reasons: it was my first festival since I came to US, and it had two bands that I was kind of "dying" to see: Vampire Weekend and The Ting Tings. The former was more like a "matter of honor" than excitement about seeing them live (but I was wrong, their show was the best moment of the festival...) Before talking about the festival, I'll explain the "matter of honor" thing.

Saturday, June 14, Vampire Weekend played at Central Park summer stage FOR FREE. This was a big deal to me and I was very excited about this for months. But at the day of the concert, I once again was late (I'm basically always late and running against the clock...). There is, I wasn't late, but to arrive 15 minutes before the beginning of a free concert at Central Park, and with one of the "music's next big things" sure is very late, as I found out the hardest way.

When I arrived there, there was a huge line, and by huge I mean that it took me 20 minutes just to walk to the "end" of the line. Then I waited for 2 hours in the line. It should be ok, since I arrived at 3:45 and Vampire Weekend was going to play only at 8 PM. Yes, it should be ok if it wasn't for the rain and the lightnings. I decided to stay (after all, with all the people there, to be stripped by a lightning was very unlikely (why would god choose me with so many people there...). But after 2 hours I was starting to feel really bad and I decided that it wasn't worth the trouble and decided to go home.

Obviously, I was very upset about this episode and this was part of the motivation to see Popped. The other reason was to see The ting Tings. They played in New York three times this week but because I was focused into studying I couldn't see them. And they are coming back to open for MGTM a FREE concert last month. "Free, oh my god, I can't take the risk, I thought".

So I woke up early at Saturday (7:30 AM) and took the Chinatown bus to Philly. Having a friend living there, it was easy for me to go since I could spend the night there with no haste to come back to NYC. I arrived at the Drexel University campus, the place where the action was going to happen, at 12:30. A modest line was waiting for me: about 30 people, with a surprisingly high ratio of girls. I never thought of The Ting Tings, the openers of the festival, as a "girls band", but that was the case apparently. Who cares, I thought? It was time to have fun and to forget about the rest.

Although it wasn't like that all the time (I didn't like/know some of the attractions) it was pretty fun most of the time and when Vampire Weekend entered the stage to close the festival (at 8:10 PM), I was feeling like heaven, not tired at all (8 hours is nothing, common...) and already thinking about the next festival (Lollapalooza in August??). Here's a brief summary of the shows: (Grades are in a scale 1-10)

1:00 The Ting Tings:

This was the one that I was more excited about. Was it worth it? Let's see, they played only six songs (Great DJ, Fruit Machine, Be the One, Keep your Head, That's Not My Name and Shut Up And Let Me Go), there were only like 100 people watching (maybe because it was "too early for a concert" or simply because Ting Tings are not that popular yet in US), but it was pretty damn worth it! I mean, it weren't just six songs, but 6 of the best songs of 2008 so far. I love these guys and it was very special to see them live, even if just for half an hour. About the crowd? The number was disappointing, but the girls ratio was interesting (ok, I didn't go there for that, but, you know, girls are always welcome...) . Grade: 8

1:50 Hoots & Hellmouth:

I started to feel bad after the first concert (it was pretty damn warm and I ate just a hot dog before the concert) so I decided to eat something and rest a little bit in a fresh place, with no direct contact with the sun. Plus I never heard about these guys before and wasn't really interested. So I missed this. Only one thing: now that I did research and listened some of their stuff, I'm sure it's not for me. Thus I didn't miss anything important after all. Grade: I wanted to give 1 but it's not really fair to grade this since I didn't see them.

2:40: Mr. Lif:

If you're thinking who the hell is that, it's a rapper. Is it good for rap standarts? I honestly don't know. For me most rappers (except for the great Eminem, Jay-Z, Kanye West and Mike Shinoda) sound about the same. At least there is a good thing about that. Since they are almost all the same, a rap concert can't suck too hard. That being said, I had a little fun with this. Grade:5

3:30 Dan Deacon:

Someone asked me there: "Who the hell is Dan Deacon?" I said: "The hell I know...". When he entered the stage, I was surprised because it seemed that many people were really excited about the show, so I was curious and decided to not skip this one. And I had a good surprise. Now I know: Dan Deacon is someone who likes people to have fun and to dance. What I saw was a kind of eletronic music about having fun and, say, jumping. It reminded me of "axe parties" in Brazil, "the micaretas" when he asked people to form a circle and asked a guy to run around the circle and to pick someone to run with him (and this someone did the same, and so on, until everybody was running in circles...) . In the end, I couldn't believe, I almost missed this... Grade:7

4:10 Gogol Bordello:

Their music, a kind of rock with Eastern Europe pop's influences , is too weird and becomes annoying very fast, but live they are great. The songs had a lot of energy and the crowd was one of the craziest that I saw in US since I moved from Brazil. In the end, it was impossible not to jump, even not being a fan... Grade: 6

5:40 Crystal Castles:

This was one of the best moments. God, their music is so good to dance! I was dancing all the time. I can't believe I didn't know about them before... When the singer asked the crowd 'do you like shouting' I screamed pretty loud YEAH!. I was speaking with my heart. I don't like shouting, I love it. And I love to dance. Now I might as well love Crystal Castles. Even it that doesn't really happen, I'll surely go see them live again. Grade: 9

6:55 Mates Of State:

They do the kind of cute music, the kind that speaks to the heart but stays away from parties, that I don't usually like. But it's different with them. I don't know exactly why. Maybe their beautiful version of California made me fall in love with them and kind of become 'blind' about the rest. The fact is that I liked them them before yesterday and I like them more now. Very decent concert. And the voice of the singer is very beautiful live. Finally, it was good to have this, say, calmer, show after Crystal Castles (I was very tired after this, hehe). Grade:8

8:10 Vampire Weekend:

I wasn't expecting much, but I must confess: it was pretty damn good. Often I think that the afro beat of their songs doesn't quite match with parties, but things are different live. The crowd was dancing and jumping a lot. And I was having fun like there's no tomorrow. Best moments: A-punk (oh, really?), Boston, and especially the closer Walcott (I never realized before the power of this song). Worst moment: when it was over. Grade:9.5

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Just made this hoping that it helps me to share some thoughts with the world (even if the "world" is just one or two random people...). I'll talk mainly about music here (another NME style blog? you'll see...) since this is basically my life, but occasionally I'll talk about life in New York, philosophy or anything that might be of interest to me.

See you