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Yup, that video I previously mentioned Luxe Pop was working on is now out in the world. It premiered on CMJ and they gave us a nice little write-up. Check it out below:

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Looking back at my sporadic posts here, it seems I’m a reasonably productive blogger during the spring, but the rest of the year…not so much.  Yes, much has happened since my last post, and now that I have some music-related developments and musings to share, I figure I should get them posted before it’s time for me to hibernate for the winter (and possibly summer and fall as well).

Okay, not true. In fact, I was not yet born. But it turns out that the building where I chose to take the leap and buy my first (and current) apartment used to be an art gallery (which I knew) and used to host loft shows in the 70s (which I did not). Apparently Sam Rivers, who had his own famed loft/frequent show venue, Studio Rivbea (see some awesome pics here), played here, as did Suicide. I knew I had a good feeling about this place. This is the sort of thing that was going on:


Luxe Pop has a new website, thanks to Mr. Loren Wohl.

Plus, we’re working on a video. Or rather, we pretty much hung out and looked pretty–T and the good folks of Planet Thieves are the ones actually working. Check out some pics from the shoot here.

Last week I ventured over to Bowery Ballroom for one of those rare shows where I’m excited about not just one, not only two, but three bands on a bill. I timed things just right to miss openers Twin Sisters–sorry guys, I’m getting too old to stand around for three bands as it is, so four is out of the question–and made it in time to catch the beginning of Zola Jesus’s set. I’ve been digging the lo-fi gothy chill of their album The Spoils and their (somewhat cleaner) new EP, Stridulum. I was curious to see whether singer Nika Roza Danilova’s voice, haunting and drenched in reverb on record, would come across live. It did–and then some. The band could stand to loosen up a bit on stage and to vary the pace of their set, which could fairly be described as plodding at some points. But hey, they’re still fairly new, and Nika turned all of 21 the night of the show. So they have plenty of time to perfect their already impressive sound.

But this night was really all about the next band, tUnE-yArDs. tUne-yArDs is basically Merrill Garbus, who’s joined on stage by bassist Nate Brenner. Her full-length and EP are both great, so I figured I was in for a good show, but, even so, I was totally, totally blown away by her set. She plays a deconstructed drum kit (just a floor tom and snare) and a ukelele and makes ample use of a loop pedal to form a surprisingly big sound for a two-person band. The tunes are super-catchy, often incorporating crypto-hiphop or -reggae rhythms and really unusual hooks, with Garbus’s looped vocals swirling in and out to create all kinds of unusual harmonic backdrops.

And speaking of her voice…the lady has serious–like truly fucking powerful–pipes. She alternates between low, raspy calm and practically unbalanced shouting, and generously spreads odd vocalizations throughout the songs–kind of like Nina Simone if the High Priestess of Soul had had more of a penchant for yodeling. And as if the stunning musical and singing talent weren’t enough, well, Garbus, like her music, is just so frickin’ infectiously likable! She explained, in a way that didn’t seem the slightest bit contrived, that she always gets nervous when she plays in New York–and then, of course, she proceeded to bring the house down. In fact, when she announced her last song, the audience protested loudly, and when she left the stage the applause was so overwhelming and sustained that it seemed to take a couple of minutes for the house to remember that she wasn’t the last act and that there was no time for an encore. Alas!

And then there was Xiu Xiu, who were, well, very Xiu Xiu. I’ve seen them live twice and at both shows there was at least one moment where someone in the audience broke out into uncomfortable laughter during one of the more precious, hushed portions of the performance. Clearly these folks were grappling with the question anyone familiar with Xiu Xiu’s over-the-top artiness faces early on–is this dude sincere, fucking with me, or somewhere in between? In general, I can handle this schtick, and there are plenty of moments in both their shows and their records that I like quite a lot. But at this particular show, their overwrought, angst-ridden affect fell flat, coming as it did on the heels of Garbus’s genuine affability.

And on that note, here are a couple of tUnE-yArDs clips, one from this show and one of Garbus alone at the Natural History Museum in LA:


I recently went to the record release show for Glenn Branca’s The Ascension: The Sequel at Le Poisson Rouge. First, the show. It was loud. And it was kind of awesome. 4 guitars, bass, and drums with Branca conducting. The man himself was in full curmudgeonly form–for one past example, see his op-ed for the Times on “The End of Music“–but it was clear he was in fact enjoying himself. As was the packed house. Some kind soul–who, incidentally, must have been standing more or less directly behind me–put some clips on youtube, including this one. It’s pretty far away and the first 1:30 or so is spoken introduction and chatter (including Branca’s above-quoted suggestion regarding earplugs, which thankfully I ignored) but the sound is good:


And last week I was back at LPR for a great mixed bill: first, Sam Amidon made me remember that I do like some folk/americana-type music after all, then Daniel Bjarnason hit the stage with a 16-piece orchestra for a too-short set, and finally, the Danish band Efterklang played a set that kind of blew me away. Partly that’s because I had only heard a handful of their songs in relatively low fidelity versions online–a sure way to miss the richness and fullness of their sound. And partly it’s because they are a phenomenal live band–musicians periodically jump over to a mic to add unexpected vocal harmonies, drummers pick up trumpets mid-song to blow dramatic lead lines, gurgling electronic loops and squawks weave seamlessly in and out of lush acoustic arrangements, and everyone just generally dances and roams around the stage with tons of energy. There are some pics up at Brooklyn Vegan, and there are a couple of vids of the LPR show on youtube but I’d say this one, from Swedish TV, is pretty representative:


So why the frequent visits to Poisson Rouge? I’m glad you asked. It turns out that one can purchase a membership for a year or two at a time and, among various other perks, can attend certain shows–Branca and Efterklang, for example–for free. With a guest no less. Just another way the folks at this venue are thinking outside the box. And I dig it.

Inspired by the recent Zombii 2 CD, the lady and I watched Suspiria last night. The soundtrack, by the Italian band Goblin, is rightfully recognized as a creepy, proggy tour de force. And we thorougly enjoyed the movie, of course. Then came the extras and this classic video:


Was it parody? Misguided tribute? Alas, no, it apparently is the band Daemonia, fronted by Goblin’s keyboard player Claudio Simonetti. Daemonia is a metal band that covers old Goblin songs and, apparently, has a budget of not more than 100 euros per video shoot. Oh well. But the good news is that searching for that video led me to this one–some awesome footage of the classic Goblin: