Sunday, October 26, 2008

Animal Collective Live @ Gagarin 205 (Athens, October 22, 2008)

Animal Collective is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing and unpredictable bands of this decade, constantly experimenting and mutating their sound, keeping their audience in a constant state of suspense. A year after releasing "Strawberry Jam" and just months before their eagerly anticipated eighth album "Merriweather Post Pavilion" the Collective was in Athens to offer us a taste of their genius/mad musical science. Repetitive, hypnotizing beats, tribal chanting, folk melodies melding with 60's surf sounds and layers of synthesized noise intertwined to create the evening's elaborate soundscape. A treat for the ears of the relatively few adventurous music fans present. Perhaps next time the organizers should avoid scheduling a concert on a Champions League night; who said that alternative music fans are not susceptible to the charms of the round godess (the ball, that is).

Animal Collective Live @ Gagarin 205, Athens (October 22, 2008)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

R.E.M. Live in Athens, GR (October 5, 2008)

Marking the launch of a well known music television station in Greece, R.E.M. played a free show in Athens last Sunday. It was just their second appearance in Greece ever, which took place in the historic Panathinaiko Stadium, aka the Kallimarmaron, the place where the first modern-day Olympic Games were held in 1896. In a place loaded with such history, R.E.M. unfolded their own, nearly 30-years long history, playing a vintage 90-minutes set. Their performance mixed the old with the new, covering a lot of ground from 1984's "(Don't go back to) Rockville" to 2008's return-to-form "Accelerate" hits, like set opener "Living well is the best revenge". R.E.M. proved once more that they remain the most relevant among the big-time rock bands of today, since the power of their shows does not rely just to past glories ("The one I love", "Losing my religion"), but they are always able to keep it fresh, mixing in lesser known, but just as great tracks from their astonishing back-catalogue ("She just wants to be"), along with brand-new future classics ("Living well is the best revenge", "Man-sized wreath"). Here's a taste from a triumphantly rocking show:

R.E.M. live at Kallimarmaron, Athens (October 5, 2008)

R.E.M. - "(Don't go back to) Rockville" live in Athens, sang by Mike Mills (October 5, 2008)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Best of the Month - 09.2008

Good pop music has become a rare commodity these days, so it's always a pleasure to discover a genuinely precious pop gem amongst all the mass-produced junk. The glorious pop record in question comes from Mates Of State, the husband-and-wife duo comprising of Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel. They have been together for about a decade, creating beautifully eccentric indie-pop melodies based mainly on organ or synthesizer and drums. On their fifth album they have perfected their harmonious sound with the help of some notable contributors, including Peter Katis (on production and guitar duties), Chris Walla and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie, Jim Eno of Spoon and John Vanderslice. Undoubtedly one of the best pop albums of the year, indie or otherwise.

And speaking of records created with a little help from your friends, Brendan Canning is the latest member of the expansive Broken Social Scene collective to present his solo work. It is an outstanding, multidimensional rock album, made with the participation of most of the Scenesters, that easily lives up to the high standards set by his band. Other notable entries in this month's Top 10 list include two important debuts, the dance-rock soundclash of Santogold and the folk melodies of Fleet Foxes, and two comebacks, The Verve reuniting after a decade to try creating some brand new urban hymns and alt-country legend Howe Gelb with the redesigned in Denmark Giant Sand continuing his desert wanderings (look out for the third installment of Blast From The Past, where we're going to present our favorite albums from the second half of the '80s and Giant Sand's debut from '85 is certain to make an appearance). As for My Morning Jacket, their "Evil Urges" had us scratching our head for quite some time trying to decide what to make of it (folk rock gone Prince crazy?), but in the end the good moments have outweighed the plain weird ones and the album's chances for inclusion in the year's end "best of" list have certainly improved.

Top 10 Albums

1. Re-Arrange Us - MATES OF STATE
3. Santogold - SANTOGOLD
4. Fleet Foxes - FLEET FOXES
5. Provisions - GIANT SAND
7. Forth - THE VERVE
8. Como Te Llama? - ALBERT HAMMOND, JR.
9. Retribution Gospel Choir - RETRIBUTION GOSPEL CHOIR

Top 20 Tracks

1. Crawl - KINGS OF LEON
2. Stay positive - THE HOLD STEADY
3. Necro hex blues - PRIMAL SCREAM
4. Golden age - TV ON THE RADIO
5. Mississippi kite - KRISTIN HERSH
6. Danny Callahan - CONOR OBERST
7. Something is not right with me - COLD WAR KIDS
8. Love is noise - THE VERVE
9. You’ll find a way - SANTOGOLD
10. Get better - MATES OF STATE
11. Churches under the stairs - BRENDAN CANNING
12. Stranded pearl - GIANT SAND (with ISOBEL CAMPBELL)
13. Your protector - FLEET FOXES
15. All fours - WIRE
16. Burning up - LADYTRON
17. Give up - CSS
18. Pot kettle black - TILLY AND THE WALL
19. Somebody’s someone - RETRIBUTION GOSPEL CHOIR
20. Remnants - MY MORNING JACKET

Mates Of State - Get Better