Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Best of 2010 so far (part 1): Top 50 Singles

Yes, it's that time of the year again! Amidst World Cup matches and summer holiday plans, we have managed to find the time to compile our traditional middle-of-the-year “Best of” lists with our favorite singles and albums so far. We are starting today with the unveiling of our Top 50 Singles released in the first half of 2010 and in the second part of the presentation we’ll deal with the best albums.

The majority of the tracks in our Top 50 were released as proper singles, but we have also included a few outstanding album tracks which were also available as free mp3s, a fact that qualifies them as singles for our purposes. Also, as it’s usually the case with our "Best Singles" lists, we only allow one track per band in order to maximize the variety of our selection. With these rules in mind, here’s the list of Cool Music Central's Top 50 Singles of 2010 so far:

Top 50 Singles (Jan.-June 2010)

  1. Jail La La - DUM DUM GIRLS
  2. Bloodbuzz Ohio - THE NATIONAL
  3. Written In Reverse - SPOON
  4. Bury Pts 2+4 - THE FALL
  5. Tell’em - SLEIGH BELLS
  6. The Overachievers - LIARS
  7. Forced To Love/All To All - BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE
  8. Norway - BEACH HOUSE
  9. Giving Up The Gun - VAMPIRE WEEKEND
  10. Attack Music - THESE NEW PURITANS
  11. Intuition - LONELADY
  12. Water - PIT ER PAT
  13. Celestica - CRYSTAL CASTLES
  14. Art Czars - JAPANDROIDS
  16. The Ghosts That Wake You - FOLLOW THAT BIRD!
  17. Can’t Feel Born EP - HIGH PLACES
  18. Don't Ask - BLOOD RED SHOES
  19. Skinny Little Bitch - HOLE
  20. C'mon - THE SOFT PACK
  21. The Crash Years - THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS
  23. Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums - MOONFACE
  24. Latin America - HOLY FUCK
  25. Odessa - CARIBOU
  27. This Orient - FOALS
  28. Lights - INTERPOL
  29. The Suburbs/Month Of May - ARCADE FIRE
  30. Die By The Drop - THE DEAD WEATHER
  31. Compliments - BAND OF HORSES
  32. Shark's Tooth - ARCHIE BRONSON OUTFIT
  33. Ayisha Abyss - SERENA MANEESH
  34. Sing - FOUR TET
  35. Born Free - M.I.A.
  37. Fool's Day - BLUR
  38. Forever & Ever Amen - THE DRUMS
  39. Fixed - STARS
  40. Romance Is Boring - LOS CAMPESINOS!
  41. Swim - SURFER BLOOD
  42. Found Love In A Graveyard - VERONICA FALLS
  43. Lemonade - COCOROSIE
  44. High Road - BROKEN BELLS
  45. Siberian Breaks - MGMT
  46. Natural Selection - UNKLE
  47. O.N.E. - YEASAYER
  48. Stylo - GORILLAZ
  49. I Feel Better - HOT CHIP
  50. Drunk Girls - LCD SOUNDSYSTEM

Go on, make your day - press play and listen to the Top 25 below:


Monday, June 21, 2010

Listening Habits 05-06.2010

We had plenty of excellent releases in the last couple of months and before we proceed to our customary assessment of the best music that the first half of the year had to offer, let’s take a look at the albums and tracks that got the most spins at Cool Music Central’s busy cd/mp3 players.

Out of the 15 most played albums of May - June 2010, there are at least 6 that fight it out for our "Album of the Month" title and up to this point I cannot declare an undisputed winner. Jack White’s super-prolific super-group, The Dead Weather, have returned with another blazing rock record, their second in less than a year, that makes it look completely effortless for them to spit out cool music. It certainly took considerably more effort for Foals to come up with their sophomore LP “Total Life Forever”, a record that sees Yannis Philippakis’ ambitious group breaking new ground and expanding its musical horizons towards funkier and more melodic pop forms. Flying Lotus (i.e. laptop wizard Steven Ellison) gave us “Cosmogramma”, a record that certainly makes an early bid for "Electronic Album of the Year" with its heady, mesmerizing mix of hip-hop influenced dance beats, tropical melodies and jazzy forms.

Sleigh Bells were one of the sensations of the recent Primavera Sound festival and the more I listen to the thrilling 30-minute ride of their amazing debut “Treats”, the more I am convinced that it is one of the revelations of the year. Imagine a record where Kathleen Hanna plays Bikini Kill and Le Tigre tracks simultaneously, M.I.A. drops by to drop a few rhymes while Public Enemy provide the beats and you’ll start to get an idea of the volatile electro-punk concoction cooked up by Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss. The ingredients of their “Treats” may be old and frequently recycled in recent years, but the end result is a fresh and totally invigorating aural delight.

As for the latest albums by The National and Broken Social Scene, there are not too many surprises to be found here. Just two of the best bands of the last decade delivering their latest collections of excellent new songs, many of which will have no trouble standing next to their old classics. Business as usual then…Some examples of brand new career highlights for The National to be found in “High Violet” are “Bloodbuzz Ohio” (one of the singles of the year so far - check out this post as well), “Anyone's Ghost” and “Conversation 16”, while “Forgiveness Rock Record” adds to Broken Social Scene’s arsenal of hits “Forced To Love”, “All To All” and “Chase Scene” among others.

Top 15 Albums

1.  Forgiveness Rock Record - BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE
2.  High Violet - THE NATIONAL
3.  Treats - SLEIGH BELLS
4.  Cosmogramma - FLYING LOTUS
5.  Total Life Forever - FOALS
6.  Sea Of Cowards - THE DEAD WEATHER
8.  No 2: Abyss In B Minor - SERENA MANEESH
9.  Amsterdam Throwdown King Street Showdown! - SOLEX VS. CRISTINA MARTINEZ + JON SPENCER
11. Heaven Is Whenever - THE HOLD STEADY
12. Grey Oceans - COCOROSIE
13. Have One On Me - JOANNA NEWSOM
14. Infinite Arms - BAND OF HORSES
15. Nobody's Daughter - HOLE

Top 20 Tracks

1.  Tell’em - SLEIGH BELLS
3.  Mexico Wax Solvent - THE FALL
4.  Magnetic Warrior - ARCHIE BRONSON OUTFIT
5.  Miami - FOALS
6.  Anyone's Ghost - THE NATIONAL
7.  Blue Blood Blues - THE DEAD WEATHER
8.  Samantha - HOLE
9.  Month Of May - ARCADE FIRE
10. Bhang, Bhang, I’m A Burnout - DUM DUM GIRLS
12. Nose Art - FLYING LOTUS
14. I Just Want To See Your Face - SERENA MANEESH
16. Barely Breathing - THE HOLD STEADY
17. Compliments - BAND OF HORSES
18. Natural Selection - UNKLE
19. It's A Fast Driving Raveup With A Place To Bury Strangers - A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS
20. The Moon Asked The Crow - COCOROSIE

Sleigh Bells - Tell'em (live @ SXSW)

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Releases: May 2010

We didn't post our usual selection of the month's new releases on time as we were busy with Primavera and Synch, but we didn't forget. Here's the round up of the most interesting albums and singles released in May 2010 plus links to videos and free & legit mp3s:


BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE - Forgiveness Rock Record
THE NATIONAL - High Violet
THE DEAD WEATHER - Sea of Cowards
FOALS - Total Life Forever
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM - This Is Happening
FLYING LOTUS - Cosmogramma
SLEIGH BELLS - Treats (mp3)
CRYSTAL CASTLES - Crystal Castles (II)
THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS - Together (video)
GUN OUTFIT - Possession Sound
MALE BONDING - Nothing Hurts (mp3)
COCOROSIE - Grey Oceans
INDIAN JEWELRY - Totaled (video)
EFFI BRIEST - Rhizomes (mp3)
UNKLE - Where Did The Night Fall
THE BLACK KEYS - Brothers (video)
THE HOLD STEADY - Heaven Is Whenever
BAND OF HORSES - Infinite Arms
THEE OH SEES - Warm Slime
WOVEN BONES - In And Out And Back Again (mp3)
PHOSPHORESCENT - Here's To Taking It Easy
KAREN ELSON - The Ghost Who Walks
STEVE MASON - Boys Outside
THE CHAP - Well Done Europe
JAPANDROIDS - No Singles (mp3)
BEACH FOSSILS - Beach Fossils (mp3)
BLITZEN TRAPPER - Destroyer Of The Void
NADA SURF - If I Had A Hi-Fi
RUSSELL CRAWFORD - Floating Aimlessly (video)


THE NATIONAL - Bloodbuzz Ohio (video)
ARCADE FIRE - The Suburbs / Month Of May (mp3s)
LIARS - The Overachievers (video)
HOLY FUCK - Latin America (video)
FOALS - This Orient (video)
BLOOD RED SHOES - Don't Ask (video)
VAMPIRE WEEKEND - Giving Up The Gun (video)
THE DRUMS - Forever & Ever Amen (video)
BEST COAST - Far Away (mp3)
TEENAGE FANCLUB - Baby Lee (mp3)
PONYS - Deathbed Plus 4 EP (mp3)
KURT VILE - Square Shells EP (mp3)
THE HUNDRED IN THE HANDS - This Desert EP (video)
THE VIOLET MAY - Bright Or Better / This Crowd Is Overcrowded (video)
HURTS - Better Than Love (video)
ATARI TEENAGE RIOT - Activate (mp3)
SILVERSUN PICKUPS - The Royal We (video)

Recommended mp3 downloads:

Dum Dum Girls - Bhang, Bhang, I’m a Burnout / Pay for Me
Wolf Parade - Ghost Pressure / What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way)
School Of Seven Bells - Babelonia
Stars - Wasted Daylight
Versus - Invincible Hero
!!! - AM/FM

As I was saying in my recent review of their thrilling performance in Primavera Sound 10, Dum Dum Girls' debut LP "I Will Be" is filled with future classics. The link above gives you the opportunity to download one of these, the excellent "Bhang Bhang, I’m A Burnout", along with the also fine non-album track "Pay For Me" (from a limited split-single with Male Bonding). And if this isn't enough Dum Dum-related fun, here's the brand new video for "Bhang Bhang, I’m A Burnout", directed by Christin Turner who's going to make videos for every track on the album. Something tells me that we'll be seeing these Girls again in here very soon:

Dum Dum Girls- Bhang Bhang, I’m A Burnout

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Primavera Sound '10: Day Three Review (May 29, 2010)

And we finally reach the last part of our epic report of how we experienced the Primavera Sound ’10 festival in Barcelona: a four day musical journey with plenty of highs and very few lows. So, what exactly did I do on the last Saturday of May in Parc Del Forum? Glad you asked. Here’s how the story ends:

Once again, I managed to arrive at the festival site at 6:00 pm sharp, quite an achievement if you take into account the exhaustion from the two previous all-nighters, the record shop excursions and a bit of sightseeing. For starters, I paid a visit to the Pitchfork Stage for the hotly tipped Real Estate. I cannot really say that I didn’t like them, but the fact of the matter is that their music just didn’t leave a lasting impression on me. As I am writing this piece, I take a break to watch a video we took of one of their songs to refresh my memory but it’s like seeing-hearing them for the first time. I guess that after a four day sensory overload, the polite psychedelic pop of Real Estate just failed to register.

Dr. Dog

A brief visit to the nearby San Miguel Stage to catch about 20 minutes of Dr. Dog’s performance proved to be more memorable, thanks mostly to a few rocking numbers that were delivered with conviction and intensity. This was followed by a failed attempt to see the Dum Dum Girls performing at the Ray-Ban Unplugged Stage as the whole thing was over in less than 10 minutes and there was no way to see anything anyway. But we were going to get another chance later on in the day… and it was going to be sweet!

Back to the Pitchfork Stage it was time for Atlas Sound, namely Bradford Cox and his guitar. Last year’s “Logos” was certainly a fine album, but the live experience felt too understated and, frankly, unable to provide the thrills I was looking for. After a couple of lengthy numbers, it was time for me to move on and try to get my kicks elsewhere. New Zealand legends The Clean who were playing at the Vice Stage, seemed like the best proposition for that purpose.

The Clean

Listening to the highly infectious drone-pop of The Clean, a band who has been around since the late ’70s and whose debut single “Tally Ho” was just the second release in the celebrated Flying Nun Records catalogue, it’s easy to realize the influence it had on latter day indie stalwarts like Pavement or Yo La Tengo. And, furthermore, they prove they still got it, as one of their new tracks, “In The Dreamlife You Need A Rubber Soul” from 2009’s “Mister Pop”, is easily among the best I’ve seen performed in this festival.

Another lesson in musical history was offered at the Pitchfork Stage, where The Slits played a lively set buzzing with their traditional reggae-punk sound. Ari Up and Tessa Pollitt are the only remaining members from the original line-up, but the new girls do a fine job recreating classics like “Typical Girls” or “Shoplifting”. The Jamaican influence was prevalent in their fun performance which featured several new songs from recent album “Trapped Animal” and non-stop dancing and dreadlock spinning from Ari Up.

The Slits

A second visit to the San Miguel Stage to watch Florence + The Machine proved rather disappointing. She gave her usual flamboyant performance, managed to get the crowd jumping at her command, but the music suffered from an apparent effort to alter the songs. Maybe after a year of touring behind her highly successful debut it’s time for Florence to take a rest and start writing some new material.

Moving on to the Vice Stage, a huge crowd had already gathered for one of the most talked about new bands, The Drums. Jonathan Pierce is a gifted performer, busting out some jerky dance moves as he sings infectious songs that blend ’60s surf guitar with ‘80s new wave pop that brings to my mind, above all, Edwyn Collins and Orange Juice. They played most tracks from the already familiar “Summertime” EP with “Let’s Go Surfing” easily becoming one of the hits of the festival, along with several new ones that are going to become familiar pretty soon as their recently released eponymous debut has the potential of becoming a big hit.

The Drums

As The Drums’ set approached its finale, I made my way to the also crowded Ray-Ban Stage for the ending of Grizzly Bear’s dreamy folk performance. Last year’s highly praised “Veckatimest” failed to make me a fan of the band and, as expected, the 15 minutes that I watched sitting on the stands helped me only to catch my breath for a while before moving on to the ATP Stage for one of my most anticipated performances of the festival; it was finally time for me to see Built To Spill live for the first time.

Built To Spill

Doug Martsch seemed a bit unhappy with the sound coming from his monitors, but personally I had no problem whatsoever with what I witnessed for the next hour. Built To Spill played an intense set that relied on tried and tested old material, going as far back as 1994’s “There's Nothing Wrong With Love” (“Distopian Dream Girl”, “In The Morning”, “Big Dipper”, “Twin Falls”) and moving on to latter day favorites (“You Were Right“,  “Else”, “Carry the Zero”, “Traces”, “Wherever You Go”). Latest album “There Is No Enemy” was represented only with “Hindsight” (personally, I would have loved to hear also “Pat” or “Planting Seeds”), while the track that went straight into my Primavera Sound “best of” list was the superb “Goin' Against Your Mind”.

 Built To Spill

The other highlight of the festival’s third day for me came right after Built To Spill. Dum Dum Girls, the band that thanks to the excellent debut LP “I Will Be” has quickly become one of my favorite new acts of the year, took to the Pitchfork Stage dressed in matching vintage dresses and gave us a brief but electrifying performance. Dee Dee and the girls breezed through a set filled with future classics like “Jail La La”, “I Will Be”, “O Mein Me” or “Bhang, Bhang, I'm A Burnout” while they also included a few choice covers (GG Allin’s “Don’t Talk To Me” and The Rolling Stones’ “Play With Fire”). An excellent set from start to finish.

Dum Dum Girls

Around one in the morning, totally satisfied but with batteries running dangerously low, I somehow managed to summon my remaining strength and head back to the ATP Stage for the last part of Liquid Liquid’s highly energetic, polyrhythmic set, during which Tim Harrington made a cameo appearance jumping gleefully around the stage. After a brief look at Gary Numan who was still wondering “Are Friends Electric?” on the Vice Stage and a dose of heady dub sounds from the legendary Lee “Scratch” Perry, it was finally time for the C.M.C. team to head for the exit, while we were still able to walk. Primavera Sound ’10 - it was certainly a pleasure to have met you!

Live action from Primavera Sound '10 - Day Three (May 29): Built to Spill ("Distopian Dream Girl", "Hindsight"), Dum Dum Girls ("I Will Be", "Jail La La"), The Clean ("In The Dreamlife You Need A Rubber Soul"), The Slits ("Typical Girls")

Top 10 performances of the festival:
  • Les Savy Fav
  • The Fall
  • Sleigh Bells
  • Dum Dum Girls
  • Spoon
  • Superchunk
  • Built to Spill
  • Broken Social Scene
  • Beach House
  • The New Pornographers

The rest of our Primavera Sound '10 coverage:

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Primavera Sound ’10: Day Two Review (May 28, 2010)

The plans to start the second day of the festival with Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions at the Auditorium were scuppered by the delayed start of the performance. After listening to just a couple of tracks, I left the darkness of the indoor venue to return to Barcelona’s sunshine and made my way to the San Miguel Stage where The New Pornographers were just starting their set with just the right track: “Sing Me Spanish Techno”.

The New Pornographers

Although both Neko Case and Dan Bejar didn’t make the trip to Barcelona, Carl Newman and the rest of the Canadian collective did a fine job on the festival’s main stage, presenting us with an hour-long upbeat collection of sunshine pop, that combined brand new tracks (“The Crash Years”, “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk”, “Your Hands (Together)” - the latter dedicated to Dio) with old favorites (“Mass Romantic”, “The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism”, “Use It”, “The Laws Have Changed”, “All The Old Showstoppers”, “Testament To Youth In Verse”) - an ideal soundtrack for a sunny afternoon by the Mediterranean beach.

Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast

More sunny guitar pop with a twist of '60s girl-group sound was on offer at the nearby Pitchfork Stage, where Bethany Cosentino and her group, the hotly tipped Best Coast from California, were presenting their soon to come debut LP “Crazy For You” (out in July). Recent singles “When I'm With You» (see also this) and “Something In The Way” were the tracks that I enjoyed the most, while they cheekily closed their set with a cover of Wavves’ “So Bored”, the band who suffered an infamous meltdown at the same stage a year ago.


Back at the main stage, it was time for me to finally see Spoon live, one of my favorite bands of the last decade. Britt Daniel and his band have had considerable success in the States with “Transference” but their profile in Europe remains relatively low. Maybe this is starting to change as Spoon managed to pull quite a crowd at the San Miguel Stage, although not as large as Wilco did a bit later on (one of the performances I missed, as well as that of Japandroids due to the congested schedule of the day). Spoon have built up a remarkable repertoire over the years, so it was certain that for the next hour we were going to get an interesting mix of new (“Nobody Gets Me But You”, “Got Nuffin”, “Trouble Comes Running”, “Written in Reverse”) and older tracks (“Jonathon Fisk”, “Small Stakes”, “The Way We Get By”, “I Turn My Camera On”, “I Summon You”, “Don't Make Me a Target”, “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb”, “Don't You Evah”, “The Underdog”) while, inevitably, some favorites would be left out (“Everything Hits At Once”, “Sister Jack”, “Rhythm & Soul” for example). In any case, this was definitely one of my favorite performances of the festival and the start of a four hour period (from 8 pm till midnight) that had plenty of excitement in store for us.

Beach House

A little after half past 9, and after catching just the first song of CocoRosie’s set, I made my way to the packed ATP Stage where Beach House were about to begin. Climbing on the bleachers and finding a spot to watch the band proved to be a tough challenge, but I was rewarded with an enchanting 40-minute performance, dominated by Victoria Legrand’s imposing voice and brief fits of headbanging over her keyboards. Alex Scally, to her right, was more restrained, concentrating on his guitar and effects pedals, while the drummer had a relatively quiet evening. I usually prefer more tension and volume in live shows but on this occasion I must admit that the ethereal, magical sounds of Beach House won the day, captivating the audience for the duration of their show. Not surprisingly, the highlights of their set came from “Teen Dream”: “Norway”, “Zebra”, “Used To Be” and “10 Mile Stereo”.


The tension and volume I am usually after were on offer in generous doses at the nearby Vice Stage, my next destination, where I was able to catch the second half of Wire’s electrifying performance. The veteran post-punkers are preparing a new record for January 2011, and I’m guessing that they played some of the new material as I didn’t recognize several tracks of their set, a fact that didn’t lessen in any way my enjoyment of it. In stark contrast to bands like the Pixies, the headliners of the day, who seem to be stuck to their glorious past and, unable to move forward, have become nothing more than a touring nostalgia act, Wire are looking to the future and continue to create vital art.

Les Savy Fav

The absolute highlight of the day (and perhaps of the whole festival) for me, came at around 11 o’clock when Les Savy Fav started their deranged show at the ATP Stage. Tim Harrington made an impressive entrance dressed in a strange animal suit (I’m guessing an oversized wolf in honor of “What Would Wolves Do?”) and seconds later he was diving in the crowd and heading for the bleachers, as the guitars were catching fire. As soon as he was back on stage for the start of their second number (the magnificent “Patty Lee” - check it out here), he began his customary striptease, thankfully keeping his shorts on, and pretty soon he was back in the heaving mosh pit where madness reigned supreme. Impressively, among all this chaos, the band didn’t miss a beat, performing a note perfect set even when the guitarist was riding on the shoulders of some big fellow. For a blissful hour, Les Savy Fav was a well-oiled, firing on all pistons, punk rock machine on its way to music Valhalla!

Cold Cave

For the finale of the festival’s second day I checked out Cold Cave at the Pitchfork Stage, who were playing industrial-sized New Order melodies armed with no less than three synthesizers, and ended up at the Vice Stage for a taste of the mad garage rock of The King Khan & BBQ Show and for the dance party of Yeasayer. They kicked off their set at 2:30 am and somehow managed to keep us on our feet for another hour, until they signed off with the fine “Ampling Alp”, “Odd Blood”’s best track. The highlights of their performance, however, were “2080” and “Sunrise”, the two top tracks from their superior debut effort.


Live action from Primavera Sound '10 - Day Two (May 28): The New Ponographers ("Your Hands (Together)"), Spoon ("Written In Reverse"), Beach House ("Norway"), Les Savy Fav ("The Sweat Descends"), Yeasayer ("2080") and Best Coast ("So Bored")

The Day One report is here. Our report from the third day of the festival is coming soon..

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Best Of Synch Festival 2010 (Technopolis, June 4 - 5)

Time to take a break from our presentation of the Primavera Sound ’10 Festival in order to take a look at what happened this weekend at the seventh edition of the Synch Festival in Athens. One of the side effects of the economic crisis was the scaling down of this year’s festival to two days, with less groups playing and fewer people attending, especially on the first day. Despite the problems, Synch remains the most interesting music happening of the Greek summer and there were still several great performances on offer. Here’s our Top 5:

1. A Place To Bury Strangers (Open Air 2, June 5)

The lineup of the second day of the festival was dominated by all sorts of dance acts. We had electropop from Hot Chip, afrobeat and jazz fusion from the collaboration of Jimi Tenor & Tony Allen, French techno from Laurent Garnier. And among all this happy dance music, we had the second coming of the apocalyptic guitar noise of A Place To Bury Strangers, sticking out like a sore thumb.

We had the pleasure of seeing the New York band up close and personal this winter (review here) when they played the tiny and frankly unfit to hold their huge sound Rodeo Club. This time around, at the Open Air 2 stage of Synch, we were finally able to properly hear the band as they proceeded to ritually demolish their instruments under the lights of the Acropolis - a sacrifice to the Gods of Noise. The hour-long set included most of our favorite tracks from their two glorious records ("Keep Slipping Away", "Deadbeat", "To Fix The Gash In Your Head" to name but a few) and as an added bonus we were also able to get our hands on a vinyl copy of the excellent "Ego Death" 2010 tour EP. Some people like to dance. Our choice for this Saturday evening was to get lost in an electric summer storm and bury our heads in the noise along with friends and strangers alike.

2. Peaches (Open Air 1, June 4)

The first visit of Peaches to Athens (the first city of sin, as she said) was long overdue. Her live show has always been a wild party that combines punk rock energy, X-rated sex show, hip hop-electro beats and crazy dancing. Her latest album "I Feel Cream" may be a bit too close to the dance mainstream for comfort, but its tracks take new dimensions when presented live. The always provocative Peaches certainly knows how to rock a party. She constantly changes outfits, stripping layers away and ending up with a pair of shorts with a light that points to her G-spot, she’s climbing up the stage, crowd-surfs and even takes a quite spectacular walk over the audience’s heads. She demands participation and the people duly obey to their mistress, singing verses back and waving T-shirts over their heads at her orders. As an added bonus, we also get to hear apart from the new tracks some of our old favorites from the first three records, most notably "Fuck The Pain Away" (from her stellar debut "The Teaches of Peaches") "Shake Yer Dixx", "Kick It" (from "Fatherfucker") and "Boys Wanna Be Her" (from "Impeach My Bush").

3. Hot Chip (Open Air 1, June 5)

I only got to see about 35 minutes of Hot Chip’s performance as the calling of A Place To Bury Strangers was impossible to resist, but thankfully in this time I was able to listen to both of my favorite tracks from the band; namely "And I Was A Boy From School", their show opener, and the superb "Over And Over". Recent single "I Feel Better" was also among the highlights.

4. Fuck Buttons (D7, June 4)

This time I got to see a bigger part of the Fuck Buttons show than the 15 minutes I caught about a week ago in Primavera. Unfortunately the conditions this time were far from ideal, as the closed-space D7 stage was way too hot and smoky and actually watching the band on stage was rather hard. The aggressive and unpredictable rhythmic noise coming from the speakers, though, was as potent as ever and well worth enduring the adverse conditions of the crowded space.

5. Get Well Soon (Open Air 1, June 4)

I’m not among the biggest fans of the sensitive rock of this likeable German outfit, but they certainly left a good impression playing on the festival’s main stage on Friday. Their sound is sometimes a little too close to early Radiohead for my taste, but they do have some truly inspired moments that shone during their performance. The songs that stood out for me included "If This Hat Is Missing I've Gone Hunting", the Underworld cover "Born Slippy Nuxx", both from their debut album "Rest Now, Weary Head! You Will Get Well Soon" and "Angry Young Man" from their sophomore effort "Vexations".

Synch 2010 live action with: A Place To Bury Strangers, Peaches, Get Well Soon (Technopolis, June 4-5)

If you'd like to check out what happened in the two previous Synch festivals, here are the relevant links:
Synch 2009
Synch 2008

Primavera Sound ’10: Day One Review (May 27, 2010)

For a second time in a row Cool Music Central was in Barcelona for the Primavera Sound festival, undoubtedly one of the best festivals in the alternative music world. In previous posts we have already given you a brief taste of what went on during the four days we were there, now it’s time to go into details.

Launch Party: Wichita Records 10 Year Anniversary Show (Apolo, May 26, 2010)

Just a couple of hours after getting off the plane I was on my way to the Apolo club for the Wichita Records 10 Year Anniversary Show, Primavera’s launch party. Unfortunately I just missed Peggy Sue, one of the label’s latest signings, but I was there on time for First Aid Kit’s performance. The band consists of the very young and beautifully voiced sisters Klara & Johanna Söderberg from Sweden, who play country tinged folk music with strong melodies. The band performed as a trio with the addition of a drummer and presented their recently released debut album “The Big Black & The Blue”. First Aid Kit’s strong point is the way the two sisters, who play acoustic guitar and keyboards, combine their voices to create beautiful harmonies. This was demonstrated when they demanded and achieved the complete silence of the crowd to sing a song without the help of a microphone - one of the highlights of their performance, along with their excellent cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song”.

Things got certainly louder and amplified when Los Campesinos! took over the stage of the Sala Apolo. The eight piece Cardiff indie-popsters played a hyper energetic set with plenty of tracks from this year’s “Romance Is Boring” album, with the same-titled single as well as “There Are Listed Buildings” and “Straight in at 101” being my favorites. They also included several of their older hits with perennial indie-disco smash “You! Me! Dancing!” being the crowd-pleaser of the evening, provoking all sorts of dancing across the club and even on the tables! Certainly an entertaining start to our Primavera Sound festival expedition (more photos and video here).

Day 1 (Parc Del Forum, May 27, 2010)

After a morning raid to Barcelona’s record shops (you’ll find out the results in our up-coming Listening Habits post), I was at Parc Del Forum, the festival’s site by the Mediterranean Sea, at exactly 6 in the afternoon for the start of the first day of Primavera Sound ’10 with a performance by Sic Alps at the Pitchfork Stage, one of the nine stages of the festival. For a band that was chosen to open gigs for the likes of Sonic Youth or Pavement recently, they weren’t particularly impressive on this occasion. Maybe it was just too early in the day, but their low speed and heavy garage and blues rock influenced sound just didn’t do it for me. On the plus side they do have unusually melodic vocals for a band with such a grungy sound creating an interesting antithesis, so I do feel that I have to give them another chance and have a listen to their records.

After catching a glimpse of Bis at the San Miguel Stage (the main stage of the festival) and wondering what they are still doing here, I made my way to the Vice Stage, at the opposite side of Parc Del Forum, to see a bit of the mad performance of Israeli garage rockers Monotonix. The band didn’t play on stage at all but performed all their set (at least the part that I saw) among the crowd with singer Ami Shalev spending most of the time crowd surfing. The first day of the festival certainly started to get more weird and interesting.


My next choice from Primavera’s rich line up was Florida’s up-and-coming Surfer Blood at the Pitchfork Stage. “Astro Coast”’s melodic guitar rock went down well with the audience and, as expected, the catchy “Swim” was the hit of their 40-minute set, a track which they presented as “our very own Poker Face”. And as the time approached 20:10 pm, it was time to make my way to the nearby San Miguel Stage for the highly anticipated (at least by me) performance of The Fall.

 Surfer Blood

The band’s musicians led by Eleni Poulou took to the stage as the sun was setting and started to play, preparing us for the royal entrance of Mark E. Smith. They kicked off their tight and powerful 50-minute set with “O.F.Y.C. Showcase”, a fitting choice as this performance was exactly that, a showcase for The Fall’s latest creation “Your Future Our Clutter”. Smith appeared to be in high spirits, perhaps pleased with the fact that so many people turned up to see his band at Primavera’s main stage. At some point he even showcased a few rare dance moves during “I’ve Been Duped”, a song that his wife Eleni sings lead vocals, while he rarely messed with his musicians’ amplifiers, a sign that he was pleased with what he was hearing. The set was dominated by the band’s more recent material and the only time they chose to acknowledge their rich history was when they revisited their classic cover of “Strychnine”. Undoubtedly one of the best performances of the festival.

The Fall

After watching the closing minutes of what appeared to be a highly energetic and loud set by Titus Andronicus at the Pitchfork Stage, I visited the amphitheatric Ray-Ban Stage where a large crowd had gathered for the Primavera Sound debut of The XX. The slow burning, atmospheric sounds of the London band are perhaps better suited for a more intimate indoor venue but the quality of their music and the imposing light show helped to keep the majority of the audience captivated.

The XX

The next great performance of the first day also took place at the San Miguel Stage, where Superchunk followed The Fall with an hour long super energetic set. The band is gearing up to release their first new album in more than a decade and they took this opportunity to present few of their new songs alongside old favorites like “Throwing Things”, “The First Part”, “Slack Motherfucker” and “Hyper Enough”. The highlight of their set was a killer rendition of “Precision Auto” with vocals from Tim Harrington from Les Savy Fav, a huge fan of the band.


With ears still buzzing from Superchunk’s amazing set and without any time to recover I somehow found the energy to rush back to the Ray-Ban Stage where Broken Social Scene were about to start. The Canadian collective played more than half of their excellent new album “Forgiveness Rock Record” with “All To All”, “Forced To Love”, “Texico Bitches” with Pavement’s Spiral Stairs and set closer “Meet Me In The Basement” being the most memorable. There was still room in their strong 75-minute set for some classics including “Cause = Time”, “7/4 (Shoreline)”and “Fire Eye'd Boy” while their guest list also included John McEntire from Tortoise and Owen Pallett. Unfortunately they didn’t have Emily Haines, Amy Millan or Feist with them, but Lisa Lobsinger, the sole female of the 11-strong crew (if I counted correctly), did a remarkable job with her vocal contributions.

Broken Social Scene

About half hour past midnight I was back to the Pitchfork Stage to catch a part of The Big Pink’s set. The band performing as a quartet (guitar, bass, drums and a huge synthesizer being their weapons of choice) did a good job presenting their superb debut “A Brief History Of Love” and closed with an ace rendition of their hit “Dominos”. And as The Big Pink were finishing up their show at 1:00 am, it was time for the performance that most festival goers were expecting, the triumphant return of Pavement. Indeed, the main stage and the surrounding area was packed as the indie-rock heroes started their headlining set with “Cut Your Hair” and proceeded to present a big chunk of their recent greatest hits compilation “Quarantine the Past”. Personally, having seen the band live several times during its heyday, I wasn’t motivated enough to fight for a good viewing spot near the stage and after watching a few tracks from afar, including my all-time favoriteIn The Mouth A Desert” and “Kennel District” with the participation of Kevin Drew from Broken Social Scene, I went back to the Pitchfork Stage for what turned out to be one of the revelations of the festival for me, Sleigh Bells.


I’ve recently listened to Sleigh Bells’ debut album “Treats” and although I was pretty impressed by it, I certainly didn’t expect such a mind-blowing performance by the duo. Although there’s only two people in the band, guitarist Derek Miller with a hardcore past (ex-Poison The Well) and vocalist Alexis Krauss with a teen-pop background (Ruby Blue), they do an excellent job filling the stage with their unstoppable energy, while their bass heavy sound pummels you into submission. Their dance-floor ready tunes combine aggressive punk guitars with hip hop and electro beats while Alexis singing and dancing is simply captivating. While most people were celebrating Pavement’s glorious past at Primavera, I think I was able to catch a glimpse of the future thanks to the glorious beats of Sleigh Bells!

Sleigh Bells

The amazing first night of Primavera Sound ’10 was concluded with Chrome Hoof at the Vice Stage with an imaginative set that mixed glam, psychedelic and space rock with death metal and with a brief taste of the noise and dance combination of Fuck Buttons at the Ray-Ban Stage, complete with a trippy light show. After more than nine hours filled with some of the finest music I could hope for, it was time to head back to the hotel and have some much needed rest before doing it all over again the next day.

Live action from Primavera Sound '10 - Day One (May 27): Broken Social Scene ("Meet Me In The Basement"), The Big Pink ("Dominos"), Sleigh Bells ("Rill Rill"), The Fall ("Strychnine"), Pavement ("Conduit For Sale!") and Superchunk ("Learned To Surf")

Our reports from the second and third day of the festival coming soon..