The Drums

After three years, The Drums are back. No official word on the album yet (it’s coming), but today the band released a new 7″ single titled “Magic Mountain.” As frontman/vocalist Jonny Pierce told Noisey (who premiered the track), the band’s lineup now consists of just him and Jacob Graham (for the first time since the Summertime EP). Here’s the full quote from Pierce:

Not since the Summertime EP has it been just Jacob and I left up to our own devices. Now that we’re back to just the two founding members, we figured we could do whatever we wanted and run with it. Together, we had just one goal: let go of any preconceived ideas that anyone has about The Drums and make songs to be as grand and majestic as we want them to be. “Magic Mountain” is a sparkling reflection of our last three years. It’s about shedding off what binds you and protecting whats good, finding a safe place away from everyone and everything that wants to destroy you.

As a rather big fan of the band, the song caught me off guard a bit. While it is definitely very much The Drums, something about it hit in a different way. Although it has hooks, its not as immediate and clear cut in its melodic hooks as fans are used to. There’s a more raw, tense feeling in the air during “Magic Mountain”, which I think is a bit of a grower. It didn’t blow me away at first, but each listen has been better and more revealing than the last.

I can totally see this one being a monster to hear live.

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1_Holy Ghost

I ended my only day at Hudson Project with a late night set from Holy Ghost!. The set kicked off close to 1 a.m., a true late night dance party.

The last time I saw the DFA protegees was in 2010, when they opened for LCD Soundsystem at Terminal 5. That was their third time ever. They’ve come quite a way since then. With LCD long gone now, they seem to be working their way up to take their place. Not replace them, of course, but rather fill in the missing gap in all of our hearts.

The group sounded on point, coming hard out of the gate with a lot of bite. They had everyone in the tent dancing along, digging deep for that second wind. This version of Holy Ghost is much more cool and confident than the one I saw four years ago. Give them a few more years, and I think that they can deliver some of their biggest and best work yet.

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1_The Flaming Lips

If there’s one thing that you can predict about The Flaming Lips live show, is that you really can’t predict what will happen. Sure, you do expect some crazy outfits and maybe Wayne to come out in his hamster ball at some point, but there’s always an element of surprise at play at their shows. This is something that you really can’t say about most bands that you go out to see.

Right away the wacky tactics of the band ensued, with a girl placed in a fake hill that was attached below Wayne’s mic. Following her were more girls dressed as rainbows, mushrooms, you name it. These aspects enhanced the opening punches of “She Don’t Use Jelly” and “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1″ which were performed as seemingly never-ending amounts of confetti were sent soaring over the crowd – which featured audience members who were also dressed up in various sets of costumes and face paint. Clearly, The Lips are on the same page as their fans.

While The Lips are known for their alien and fantasy elements, they showed a great deal of humanity towards the end of the show after a fan passed out in the front of the crowd. Wayne Coyne took notice of the fan, and stopped the show, making the rest of the audience aware of the cause of the interruption. He kindly asked the crowd to stay calm and patient, not willing to play over the fan who was clearly not well. The band waited patiently on stage for nearly 20-minutes until the fan was was better, and then they finished off their set with a rather meaningful performance of “A Spoonful Weighs a Ton.”

Most bands would have probably ignored the fan, or taken the delay as a chance to cut things off early to head backstage. What Wayne Coyne and the band did was a classy move in my eyes that showed that they are more than just a band. The patience and genuine concern that was on display was truly a thing of beauty.

Most of the stuff that you have been reading in the media about Coyne of late hasn’t been totally positive, so I hope more people hear about how he handled this situation, because it’s certainly worth noting much more than what tattoo he’s getting.

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1_Modest Mouse

It’s been forever since Modest Mouse’s last proper studio album (try since 2007′s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank), but the band has stayed busy during this extended break in-between albums by staying on tour. Even without any new material to tour around, the band just does fine (as I saw at Governors Ball 2012). With a heavy back catalogue of material, there’s always a solid variation of songs that the band can play on any given night.

Frontman Isaac Brock is always a force to reckon with on stage, full of intensity and energy that just jumps out at you. This applies even when he’s rocking his banjo – there’s a fierceness about him in his vocal delivery that is impossible to shake. Believe it or not, the band’s commercial breakthrough Good News For People Who Love Bad News came out 10 years ago. With that in mind, it wasn’t a surprise that most of the night’s set came off that album. No “Float On”, but rather more sublime offerings such as “Ocean Breathes Salty.” There was a palpable tension in the air as the band ripped through a thunderous performance of “Tiny Cities Mades Of Ashes”, which is my favorite song of theirs. The band had the crowd up in arms, ready to explode as the song built towards its eventual release. By the time they ripped through “Dashboard”, the place was nearly ready to explode.

One can only hope that we get a new album sooner rather than later, but as long as they keep giving us live shows as great as this in the meantime, who can complain?
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1_Small Black

As far as first year festivals go, The Hudson Project had some shortcomings. Not to knock on them, this sort of thing can be expected during the first year, and sometimes even at the more veteran fests. They clearly undersold tickets to test out the audience size, and that’s totally understandable. What they didn’t account for is the unbalance that this would have when you book larger acts against smaller bands. So while Atmosphere drew large amounts of people to the main stage, Small Black were doing their thing at a tent stage. Even though it was under a tent, the entire area was filled with unflattering mud – not the most welcoming thing to see. Unfortunately all of these factors added up to a disappointing crowd for Small Black, who deserved much better.

You can tell a lot about a person based on how they handle situations of adversity. This can also be applied towards bands who play in situations that are less than ideal. Many bands may have opted not to play or would have put on a half-assed show just to get it over it. But Small Black put on the same sort of quality show that they did when they played a packed out Bowery Ballroom earlier in the year. They still gave great care and showed the same level of energy and emotion. I already was a fan of the band, but the handling of this situation made me an even bigger fan of them.

Well done, Small Black.

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1_Atmosphere

Earlier in the year Minneapolis hip-hop group Atmosphere released their new album Southsiders. They brought its songs, as well as their older ones upstate to The Hudson Project for a lively set that got everyone in the crowd involved. It always helps enhance a hip-hop set when there’s a real sense of energy put towards the show. Thankfully there was plenty of that to be found in their set.

I last caught Atmosphere during Bonnaroo 2011 and remember how much of a showman that frontman and rapper Slug was. He has a natural ability to connect with an audience. He doesn’t act above us, but rather as one of us. This level of communication and mutual understanding respect is so hard to find in a festival made up of “stars”, so it’s a refreshing thing for sure. Read the rest of this entry »

3_DrDog-2

This weekend saw the inaugural year of The Hudson Project kick off in Saugerties, New York. It’s about a hour and a half drive from my home in Rockland County, so probably a little over two hours for those of you in the city. I only managed to make it up to day 1, and based on the rain and issues yesterday, this seemed like a good decision.

My day started with a rock solid performance from Philadelphia’s finest, Dr. Dog. Believe it or not, it was my first time catching the band since I saw them open up for The Raconteurs back in September of 2006, which seems like a lifetime ago now. I don’t know how I let it go that long, but I finally made up for it at the festival.

It was like seeing the band for the first time. They’ve come a long way since then. Gone was the wacky rowdier ramshackle version of Dr. Dog that my fading memory recollects. In their place was a tighter, more polished band who are suddenly veterans on the scene. This is a band who deliver mature harmonies and songs that were perfect for a sunny afternoon at a music festival. Singer/guitarist Scott McMicken wasn’t sure what year of the festival it was (until the crowd told him it was the first), but he hoped that they would someday be invited back.

The fate of The Hudson Project may be up in the air, but the future of Dr. Dog is as solidified and steady as they come. I can’t wait to see them again soon and sure hope it doesn’t take another eight years.

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Ha Ha Tonka

This Wednesday night Missour rockers Ha Ha Tonka will play Mercury Lounge along with Mail The Horse. Tickets are still available to purchase, but we got a pair of tickets that you can win right now.

To win, simply leave a comment below with your favorite Ha Ha Tonka song. I’ll pick a winner at random and notify them.

Best of luck!

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IMG_6849

On Thursday night Wild Beasts played a free show at Pier 84 for the first of Hudson River Park’s River Rocks free concert series. The weather was as perfect as one could hope for for an outdoor show, setting the tone for a wonderful night of music.

Considering it was a free show, getting an opening set from Mutual Benefit in addition to Wild Beasts was a treat. Their gentle orchestrated blend of folk-rock was ideal for the setting of Pier 84, with the winds of the Hudson River keeping us cool. Mutual Benefit’s brainchild Jordan Lee always delivers witty dry-humor that can get lost on unsuspecting members of the crowd, but for those who have seen the band before, we are used to his sense of humor by now. Even so, the music comes first, and getting to hear elegant tracks such as “Golden Wake” and “Advanced Falconry” just as the sun started to set was more than ideal.

As of right now, I’m hard pressed to name anything other than Wild Beasts latest album Present Tense as my favorite record of 2014 so far. It just has everything going for it. From start to finish, there isn’t a weak track. Every listen brings a new discovery, a new sound or detail that was previously lost on me. Their show at Music Hall of Williamsburg earlier in the year was just when the album was released. This time around I was much more familiar with the material, and ready to take it in completely.

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Little Daylight

On Tuesday, Brooklyn electronic-trio Little Daylight will release their debut album Hello Memory. To celebrate, they’re playing a show at Mercury Lounge. It’s an early show, kicking off at 6:30.

Tickets for the show are totally sold out, but I got a pair of tickets to giveaway to one of you guys. To win, leave a comment below with your favorite new song. I’ll pick a winner at random and contact them early tomorrow. Good luck!

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