Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Because the mood struck me...

Here's a couple vids from 2003's best album (yeah, that's right, you're choice for best album of 2003 sucks), The Wrens Meadowlands. Enjoy.

Faster Gun

Everyone Chooses Sides

Monday, August 07, 2006

Pitchfork Music Festival - July 29th and 30th - Union Park - Chicago

On July 29th and 30th at Union Park in Chicago, Pitchfork put together what is essentially their second annual music festival (last year it was the Intonation Festival curated by Pitchfork, while this year, there were two separate music festivals, of which Pitchfork had a better lineup), bringing 30 some bands to the Windy, and extremely hot, City. Needless to say, there were a bunch of bands that I didn't see, but pretty much everyone that I wanted to see, I saw.

First up for me was Destroyer, which is essentially Dan Bejar and some other dudes. Bejar, you may recall, is a contributing member of New Pornographers, and Destroyer played with New Pornographers when they hit Chicago about a year ago. It was a solid set, although he didn't play anything from Streethawk: A Seduction, which is my favorite Destroyer album. But this set did help me adjust to the heat. One thing about being in 95 degree heat with 95% humidity, once you're in it for about a half hour, you pretty much get used to it. You're sweaty and grosser, and it ain't getting any better, so you better just learn to live with it. Anyway, here's some Bejar:

Next up was Art Brut, but we didn't really pay much attention to that set. Altough as we were walking over to see Ted Leo, they played Good Weekend, which was actually pretty entertaining. Check it out:

Kind of weird, but despite the similarity, those first two videos were taken from completely different stages. It's actually a really cool set up for an outdoor festival. There are three stages, two main and one side stage which is basically in a tent. The two main stages sit at a right angle, and there are never two bands playing on those stages at the same time. As soon as a set finishes on stage 1, a new set starts on stage 2 within five minutes. There's always someone to listen to, but you never really have to make a decision to miss a band that you want to see in favor of another band you want to see (unless they're on the third stage, which is mostly DJs and local acts).

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists hit the stage next, and they were nothing but a revelation. For some reason I never got around to listening to these guys. Maybe I confused them with Kings of Leon, who I also haven't listened to, but regardless, I've been remiss. They kicked some serious ass, mixing in stuff from their new album "Shake the Sheets" along with stuff from their first album "Hearts of Oak". Hilights included "Where Have All the Rude Boy Gone", "Ballad of the Sin Eaters", "Me and Mia", and "Walking to Do". The coolest part was during the final song when he busted his head open on the microphone. Seriously. If you haven't listened to Ted yet, here's the video for Rude Boys. You'll like it:

After that, we wandered over to catch the Walkmen. I won't bore you with more videos, because I posted some just a few posts ago, and you can scroll down to find them. But they basically played everything I wanted them to play, which included "Wake Up", "We've Been Had", "The Rat", "Little House of Savages", and "Thinking of a Dream I Had".

To close out the night (for me anyway), we switched stages to catch the Futureheads, who were really good, and to whom I need to listen to more often. But geez, gimme time. I'm still finally getting into the Ted Leo stuff.

Day two began long before I arrived, but the acts on the bill that we wanted to catch inlcuded Mission of Burma, Yo La Tengo, and Spoon. Okay, I was the only one who wanted to see Spoon, but I digress. How were they? Mission of Burma was pretty good. Early '80s post punk band that recently reformed, and they mixed in some of the classics with the new stuff. A friend of mine had missed them during their first go round, and was pretty pumped to see them this time. They were good. Check it:

We paid little attention to Devendra Banhart while we waited for Yo La Tengo, who were pretty good, but again, for some reason they're one of those bands who are up my alley that I've never gotten around to listening to. From what I understand, most of the set was stuff from an upcoming album, including one song that lasted about 20 minutes, which was literally half the set.

Spoon closed things out with a set that included two songs with which I was unfamiliar, a bunch of stuff from their new album (Beast and Dragon, Two Sides, Camera, Mathematical Mind, Summon You, Never Got You) and Kill the Moonlight (Paper Tiger, Johnathan Fisk, and a few others not icluding Small Stakes or Way We Get By). Solid set, but I'm at the point where I really want to hear more stuff off of Telephono or Series of Sneaks. Perhaps those ships have sailed.

So anyway, that was Pitchfork. More bands that I wanted to see than last year, but none that I wasnted to see as much as Broken Social Scene, AC Newman, and the Wrens, who were the highlights of last year's show. But all in all, I can't complain.

What goes down...

Just when you think it's safe to start counting the Angels out again, they pound the Texas starters like Irish Car Bombs, then rake "All-Star" Mark Buehrle for six runs and three solo shots, and just like that, the Angels have followed a three game losing streak with a three game winning streak. I hate to sound like someone who roots for misfortune, but the Angels got good news when they learned that Bartolo was done for the year. A healthy Joe Saunders is much better than an injured Bartolo, and quite frankly, right now he's pitching better than a healthy Bartolo. The Angels AAA starters have combined to go 11-0 this season, with only one less than average start factoring in. They've given the team a tremendous lift. Matt Welch made the point the other day, and it bears repeating, that for all of the handwringing over Scioscia's supposed preference for veterans, the Angels have broken in four rookies into starting roles this season between Napoli, Kendrick, Weaver, and Saunders. How many other contending teams do you think have done that?

I've thought all along that this was essentially a rebuilding year for the Angels. They've got some veterans on the downside of their careers, ready to be replaced by kids who appeared to be just short of completely ready. But Juan Rivera, Maicer Izturis, and Robb Quinlan have filled some gaps rather nicely, while the aforementioned rookies have made huge contributions. The Angels are ahead of schedule, and though I don't think they're legit World Series contenders this year, they're poised to dominate the AL West for the rest of the decade.

On to Cleveland, New York and Texas for the next ten games before heading home to face Seattle, Boston and New York. A realistic expectation for this trip is 6-5. 7-4 would be fairly productive, and 8-3 would be tremendous. But with Oakland hitting a soft spot in their schedule, anything worse than 5-6 could really mean disaster.

FYI - I just finished reading Robert Goldman's excellent book Once They Were Angels, and I'll be reviewing a little later this week. Aside from some tiny factual errors which I was only able to pick out due to my freakish memory (trust me, they're incredibly inconsequential), the book was a great read, and I dare any long time fan to read it without tearing up once or twice.