Earlier this week I saw the Raveonettes play live. This was the second time as I previously saw them on their last tour/my 25th birthday. This time I got right up close, front-and-center, where people of my stature (and complete lack of consideration for future hearing loss) belong at shows. Directly in front of me, a girl was recording them on her cell phone and, luckily enough, two of her recordings popped up on YouTube a few days later. So, for the first time ever, I am proud to present some concert footage shot at almost my exact vantage point, as illustrated by the image above. So, live from the Music Hall of Williamsburg on April 20th, 2011, here are the Raveonettes with "Love in a Trash Can" off Pretty in Black:
...and "Dead Sound" off Lust Lust Lust:
I hope everyone enjoyed yesterday's half. Let's get right into the Top 4!
#4 - “Fleurs” - Former Ghosts
Former Ghosts are a supergroup of acquired tastes. Assembled by Freddy Ruppert, the sole member of This Song Is A Mess But So Am I, the group features Nika Roza of (as?) Zola Jesus and Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart. Ruppert and Stewart almost share a voice – in fact, I incorrectly though Ruppert was Stewart on the first few listens . Eventually, I could differentiate the two: Stewart's voice is plainer, more controlled, less ornamented by the affected anguish behind Ruppert's. Roza, too, seems oddly calm when she has lead vox. The music itself is simple synths melodies and drones. Usually one of each make up a track, feeling just as unnatural and restrained as the voices. Fleurs feels like a therapy session for the three, letting them express more mediated, calmer music than they usually do, but at the same time filling it with human emotion they wouldn't allow themselves to express in their own projects.
#3 “Candy Cigarette” - Boy in Static
Apparently, Boy in Static used to be a dream-pop/shoegaze band. I am very glad they gave up the aspiration to be where every third band seems to be trying to get to. There's no question that the album overdoes it a bit on sweetness, but does that have to be such a bad thing, necessarily? Alexander Chen's singing melds a heartbreak crooner and your buddy telling you how his girlfriend just left him. Chen is slightly piteous, but with just enough raconteurship and dramatic swelling to let you know that this is an act, a stage show. This artificiality fits into the music and production - his voice will be crystal clear on one track and sounding as if it is coming through an answering machine on the next. There is heavy sampling on these tracks, they are an electronic pop band, but it comes out in an organic fashion. A listener completely ignorant to electronic music production may be surprised by the fact that the tracks were sampled instead of played by a large and oddly instrumented band. And if all that isn't enough, Liz Enthusiasm, the lead singer of Boston darlings Freezepop, performs guest vocals.
#2 “Hands” - Little Boots
This is what a dance pop album coming out of the end of the new millenium's beginning should be. Victoria Hesketh uses nearly the entirety of 80s, 90s and 00s pop music to create Hands, all the while making sure it doesn't sound anything like it (to anyone paying attention, at least.) My biggest problem with recent dance pop is that it relies far, far too much on hip hop beats on the one side, and Gang of Four on the other, polarized in just that manner. Even Her Imperial Majesty Lady Gaga, who, according to anyone remotely qualified to call themselves a culture journalist, is David Bowie and Jesus Christ rolled into an Matthew Barney-decorated balls fits this pattern. Hesketh, fortunately, never tells us “okay I am going to do electroclash now” or “this is the 'Ace of Bass' track.” Her influences, the dance music that started hatching 30 years ago might be the bricks that built Hands, but the architecture is all hers.
#1 “In and Out of Control” - The Raveonettes
The moment I heard this album, I knew it was going to be my favorite this year. Sure, I may have though that once or twice before (mostly about albums that did not make the Top 8, even,) but with this one I was sure. Everything about the album. The instrumentation is the height of what the Raveonettes set out to do with 2003's Chain Gang of Love: 50s American Bandstand-style rock and roll meets My Bloody Valentine/Jesus and Mary Chain with some good old fashioned unveiled sexuality sprinkled on top. It isn't easy to make slower tracks feel more erotic than soporific, and while their previous album Lust Lust Lust proved that in the latter, this one proves it in the former. One of the greatest aspects of the Raveonettes has always been their refusal to step around sex, and they're out in full force here. One of the album's most intriguing songs “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)” is shocking in its complete plainspokenness. It is not a Tori Amos-style ultra-abstraction coping mechanism song, nor a revenge tale like Sublime's Date Rape. It is a simple and brutal “fuck these guys, sister” - an object lesson of utter and beautiful simplicity, and that's just what the album itself is.
Today is my birthday, and to honor the fact, two of my favorite bands are playing live, together. The Raveonettes and the Black Angels are playing a show at Webster Hall, and the lady and I will be there, front-and-center-ish. The Raveonettes, hailing from Denmark, actually played a show in New York City while I was visiting Denmark. This will make up for it in spades, however. (I hope they're still selling the LUST LUST LUST t-shirts, as well.)
Here's Suicide, off their new album from a live set they did in Chicago, just two months ago. Said new album, In & Out of Control, is the best LP of 2009. Uncontested. Except by someone with differing tastes in music. Wrong tastes in music:
And here're the Black Angels, with an unknown song, played live just last Friday. I don't remember how I came across them, but they are named after The Velvet Underground's The Black Angel's Death Song, and sound like a down-in-the-whiskey Jesus and Mary Chain so that's a bit of something good:
(Thanks to alterna2 for the photo.)
The show was absolutely fantastic. The Raveonettes even did a slow-dance cover of Little Animal, which is one of my most favorite songs of theirs.
The Black Angels:
Awesome tour poster: