Posts Tagged ‘Hurray For The Riff Raff’

2014 Year End Roundup Part 2

December 27, 2014

I covered some of my favorite hard/garage rock songs of 2014 here. Next up is a mix of some of my favorite miscellaneous rock, Scandinavian pop, and folk-y songs. Again, you can download an MP3 of the mix here.

1. Down From the Rafters, Hundred Waters from The Moon Rang Like A Bell. Picking up on the slow vibe of the end of my last mix, Hundred Waters serves up an atmospheric tune that swirls around Nicole Miglis’ Bjork-like vocals, builds to a subtle groove and then fades back into the air.

2. Lonely Press Play, Damon Albarn from Everyday Robots. A lovely, shuffling track indicative of the mostly somber mood of his first solo album. As usual, Albarn’s voice fits this style well (see any of the slow pieces from a Blur album). Some took the grayness of the album as an indication of a boring affair, but I think there’s a lot of interesting things to find in here if you stay with it and give it a few listens.

3. Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes, Sun Kil Moon from Benji. Continuing the somber mood with a standout track from Mark Kozalek’s acclaimed release. Journaling as music, he pulls no punches with lyrics that tackle life’s problems surrounded, in this song at least, by the terror of the Nightstalker. His vocals have their own cadence that is the rhythm accompanying his guitar until the vocals end and a drumbeat kicks in to take you home.

4. Silver Timothy, Damien Jurado from Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son. Moving a little bit more towards rock but with a spacey vibe on a standout from a solid album. The lyrics have a faint echo which contribute to the feel this song was recorded on a spaceship hurtling through deep space, the guitars spewing out the back of the ship as it hits interstellar overdrive.

5. Goodbye Weekend, Mac DeMarco from Salad Days. This track exemplifies the consistent vibe throughout this album, relaxed and welcoming. Perfect summer album for sitting on your porch with a beer and doing nothing. He sings about not telling “the boy” how to lead his life, but it’s a mild protest from someone who doesn’t really want to be bothered from getting up from that porch.

6. Are You With Me Now, Cate Le Bon from Mug Museum. Snuck in a late 2013 release that I didn’t hear until this year, but it seemed to fit in with the mix’s vibe. A sweet voice that evokes 60’s folk for me, this was a perfect song to start a morning at SXSW this year.

7. Hi-Five, Angel Olsen from Burn Your Fire For No Witness. A little country, rock, folk and a dash of punk defiance made this another album that is finding itself on a lot of top tens. A really spectacular voice that trembles with emotion along with her guitar on this song.

8. Blue Moon, Beck from Morning Phase. This album got some unfair criticism in my opinion for trying to create an album evoking pain and loss when Beck is not in a position currently in his life where he’s experiencing those things. I think this was more a reaction to the rawness of Kozalek’s album that came out around the same time more than anything. “Disingenuous” or not, I think this was a beautifully crafted record.

9. The Body Electric, Hurray For The Riff Raff from Small Town Heroes. Some more folk with elements of rock and punk influence, a sad and powerful song about violence, its effects and taking away the murder ballad from men. A good live act too, with a lot of upbeat songs to play off songs like this one.

10. Shattered & Hollow, First Aid Kit from Stay Gold. You wouldn’t know it from listening to this song, but this sister duo hails from Sweden. The sheen of Swedish pop is in their DNA as each album they’ve put out gets more polished, but they are rooted in American folk for sure.

11. Just One of the Guys, Jenny Lewis from The Voyager. Don’t sleep on this one because it came out near the end of the year! Really good stuff, a great chorus and hook that she seems to be able to effortlessly create and deliver every time she puts out a new album.

12. Younger, SW/MM/NG from Feel Not Bad.  Second band from Sweden on the mix, and though they have Swedish pop sensibilities, their music seems to have a grander, more epic scope (think Sigur Ros) than your average Swedish pop song.

13. Whatever That Means, Highasakite from Since Last Wednesday. Another Scandinavian band, though unlike First Aid Kit, this Norwegian group sounds much more like you’d expect to hear from Scandinavia. Pop beats filtered with ephemeral female vocals and soaring melodies. Saw these guys at SXSW on a rainy morning, which was the perfect setting for experiencing them for the first time.

14. Name on a Matchbook, Springtime Carnivore from Springtime Carnivore.  No, it’s not another Scandinavian group, though I thought this fit in well with those groups.  No, this band is from right here in LA, and I may or may not have been getting my hair cut next to the bassist for this band a few months ago.  Anyway, a nice piano part and some nice vocals anchor this summer-y indie pop song.  And some good whistling!

15. , Foxygen from …And Star Power. I haven’t decided yet how I feel about this album as a whole, it’s certainly not as focused as last year’s excellent effort. This song is in the wheelhouse of that album, well-crafted psychedelic 60’s pop with witty lyrics. It’s happy and wistful at the same time, fitting in well with the previous few songs.

16. Unkinder (A Tougher Love), Thumpers from Galore. End this mix with another Euro-pop number. Last year when I saw Bastille I really liked it but never thought I’d be hearing them on American Top 40 radio. This song seemed to have the same elements (bouncing beat, manicured vocals) but they haven’t made the same leap. Yet.

Advertisements

Hurray For The Riff Raff, Clear Plastic Masks and Lonesome Leash, April 25, 2014 @ The Echo

April 29, 2014
Hurray For The Riff Raff

Hurray For The Riff Raff

New Orleans’ Hurray For The Riff Raff was another band I missed out on at this year’s SXSW but was coming through LA  that we were able to get tickets for last Friday.  After some great deep dish at Masa, we walked over to the Echo.  First opener was fellow New Orleans artist Walt McClements aka Lonesome Leash.  He later joined HFTRR for a song and they explained he had recorded with them when they were both in New Orleans.

I had listened to the few songs he has online; they seemed a little somber.  Live, it came off much more upbeat and I’m always amazed by the talent folks have that are multi-instrumentalists.  In addition to singing, he played the accordion, a bass drum, hi hat, and at time also pulled out a trumpet.  I don’t have the type of brain that would allow me to be doing so many things at once, so I’ll always give props to those that can.  His vocals reminded me of a less raspy Tom Waits, which isn’t my favorite, but it was a good compliment to the accordian and the overall vibe of his set.  He is now living in LA, and I hope he gets to make some more music out here.

Clear Plastic Masks

Clear Plastic Masks

Next up was the Nashville by way of NYC band Clear Plastic Masks.  We had seen the guys from the band hanging outside on the patio earlier in the night and they seemed to be loose and ready to go.  They played straight ahead rock n roll and there was nothing wrong with that because they do it well.  Singer and guitarist Andrew Katz seems to embrace his inner Mick Jagger with both his vocals and his stage presence.  He had friendly banter with the audience, though towards the end of his set he mentioned some sort of trouble in San Francisco and selling their stuff after the show.  A joke or serious, I couldn’t tell.  Back to the music, the rhythm section was solid and I thought shined even more on the slower numbers.  Katz’s lyrics are clever and they were a good warmup for the headliner.

Alynda Lee Segarra’s big hair is matched by an equally big voice.  She is the heart and soul of the band, and her voice is just as full and velvetly live as it is on their latest record Small Town Heroes.  Joined by a fiddle and stand up bass as well as guitar and drums, the band doesn’t hide its Southerness.  Segarra pulled out a banjo for one tune and answered the cheers by saying “you have to go back to where you started”, a nod to her beginnings as a banjo player.  Songs I recognized were Blue Ridge Mountain (Segarra introduced it as a song about the Carolinas) and The Body Electric.  She also played a Lucinda Williams cover, a choice that makes a lot of sense for her.  It was a really fun, rollicking show of Southern folk and rock. The crowd was really enjoying themselves and was happy to clap along to several of the band’s numbers.  They came back for a short encore and had members of Clear Plastic Masks join them.

For a few hours, each of the bands made us drop the California from Southern California.  We stepped back into California when the show ended, but if you do want to escape to the South for a few hours any of these three bands will do the trick.

No videos I found from the show, so here’s a nice live version of St. Roch Blues: