Sunday, November 22, 2015

Listening Habits 2015 10-11

With just one month to go until we send off 2015 with our traditional "Best of" Year-End lists, let’s have a look today at the albums that stood out for us in the last couple of months.

The top of our latest Listening Habits list belongs to two albums that will certainly feature among our Top 10 selections for 2015, Julia Holter’s "Have You In My Wilderness" and Protomartyr’s "The Agent Intellect".

Julia Holter introduced herself with two fine, experimental art-pop albums that she recorded in her bedroom. For her next work, 2013’s excellent "Loud City Song", her unique sound became richer and more detailed with the contribution of other musicians and the comforts of a modern studio at her disposal. With "Have You In My Wilderness", her fourth album, Holter continues to grow as an artist, creating bright, idiosyncratic compositions that combine expertly elements of classical composition, orchestral pop, experimental electronic music and jazz. It's a record that proves that Holter is well on her way to achieving the most difficult task for a musician in this day and age: to be able to create original, authentic music without being overburdened by your influences.

Protomartyr, the powerhouse post-punk quartet from Detroit, Michigan, had already gotten our attention with their two previous works, 2012’s "No Passion All Technique" and last year’s excellent "Under Color of Official Right" (one of our Top 30 Albums of 2014). With "The Agent Intellect" passion and technique are in perfect balance, as Joe Casey’s, Mark E Smith-like, spoken-word-meets-rap delivery blends seamlessly with razor-sharp guitars and well-oiled garage-punk grooves to offer us 43 minutes of exhilarating, cathartic rock’n’roll.

Add next to Protomartyr’s record the latest release by Montreal’s Ought, the raging, delightfully neurotic art-punk of "Sun Coming Down", and you start to feel that this year Christmas came early for all post-punk fans! Their fluid, energetic sound brings to mind Talking Heads jamming with Fugazi or perhaps Pavement trying a Black Flag number. Regardless of where you might trace their influences, though, the fact is that Ought have made a delightful record, which also includes one of the most imposing songs I’ve heard this year, the wonderful "Beautiful Blue Sky".

Top 15 Albums

1.  Have You In My Wilderness - JULIA HOLTER
2.  The Agent Intellect - PROTOMARTYR
3.  Sun Coming Down - OUGHT
4.  Depression Cherry / Thank Your Lucky Stars - BEACH HOUSE
5.  Death Magic - HEALTH
6.  Pylon - KILLING JOKE
7.  Ones And Sixes - LOW
8.  B'lieve I'm Goin Down… - KURT VILE
9.  Ghost Notes - VERUCA SALT
10. Dodge And Burn - THE DEAD WEATHER
11. Anthems For Doomed Youth - THE LIBERTINES
12. Stuff Like That There - YO LA TENGO
14. Pagans In Vegas - METRIC
15. Music Complete - NEW ORDER

Top 15 Tracks

1.  Why Does It Shake? - PROTOMARTYR
2.  Beautiful Blue Sky - OUGHT
3.  Vasquez - JULIA HOLTER
4.  Space Song - BEACH HOUSE
5.  Laughing In The Sugar Bowl - VERUCA SALT
6.  I Feel Love (Every Million Miles) - THE DEAD WEATHER
7.  Autonomous Zone - KILLING JOKE
8.  Stonefist - HEALTH
9.  Need Myself - EMPRESS OF
10. The Shade - METRIC
11. Restless - NEW ORDER
12. Heart of the Matter - THE LIBERTINES
13. Dust Bunnies - KURT VILE
14. What Part Of Me - LOW
15. Somebody's In Love - YO LA TENGO

Julia Holter - Feel You

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Live: Calexico @ Fuzz Club (Athens, November 14, 2015)

Calexico belong to a small, special club of bands that could easily apply for Greek citizenship based on the number of times they have performed here. The latin rhythms that spice up their Tex-Mex-meets-Desert Rock sound goes down well with the Greek audiences, while the addition of Eastern and Greek music influences in some of their recent songs has ensured that once again their gig at Fuzz Club was sold out.

The out of the ordinary element that left its mark on this particular concert on Saturday night, came from the resonance of the horrible news coming from Paris where less than 24 hours ago so many people lost their lives, including fellow concertgoers at the Eagles Of Death Metal gig at Bataclan Theatre. All this senseless violence certainly weighted heavily on the minds of all of us and was addressed by Calexico who started their set with Joey Burns and John Convertino playing as a duo the fittingly sad "Wash" (a track from their debut album) which was dedicated to all those in Paris who are affected by this tragedy.

Music though has a special way of healing the soul and even a sad song can make you feel better. So by the third song of the night, the uplifting beat of "Cumbia de Donde" had most of the people dancing and the spirit of having fun on a Saturday night started being restored.

From then on the concert went as expected, with the seven members of Calexico on fine form, presenting us songs from their latest album "Edge of the Sun" and occasionally going back in time to remind us of older favorites like "Crystal Frontier" or "Güero Canelo".

The highlights of the night included the participation of members of Takim in "Roll Tango" and "Stray", successfully adding local color to the Calexico sound (in an usual East-meets-West-Down South sort of way), the dedication of "Fortune Teller" to the late great Allen Toussaint and Joey Burns inviting the whole club to visit Mexico in his introduction of "Coyoacán". From the new songs, apart from the aforementioned "Cumbia de Donde", it was "Moon Never Rises", "Falling From the Sky", "Bullets & Rocks" as well as "Beneath the City of Dreams" and "Follow the River", both of which were included in the two encores of the show, that stood out.

Calexico with Takim

It’s been more than ten years since Calexico’s first gig in Athens, but as long as they manage to lift the spirits of the people even in difficult nights like this one and earn a well-deserved and genuinely enthusiastic applause, something tells me they will keep coming back frequently for many years to come!

The night opened by Moa Bones, the one-man show of Dimitris Aronis, who presented us his folk and blues tunes. His songs have strong melodies and should he decide to present them live with a full band, I think he could have a much more powerful impact. Still, his half-hour performance was a suitable opening for the main act.

Moa Bones, live @ Fuzz Club, Nov. 14th, 2015
Calexico set list included: Wash, Falling From the Sky, Cumbia de Donde, Two Silver Trees, Splitter, Tapping on the Line, Bullets & Rocks, Coyoacán, Inspiración, Fortune Teller, Roll Tango (with Takim), Stray (with Takim), Sunken Waltz, Deep Down, World Undone, Not Even Stevie Nicks, Moon Never Rises, Crystal Frontier. Encore 1: Beneath the City of Dreams, Güero Canelo. Encore 2: Follow the River

Calexico ft. Takim - Roll Tango (live in Athens, Nov.14th, 2015)

Calexico - Moon Never Rises (live in Athens, Nov.14th, 2015)