• The Thrills Bring On the Sun at New York's Irving Plaza

    By: Lindsay Barnes It was surprisingly appropriate that legendary tennis bad-boy John McEnroe introduced the Thrills at a recent show in New York City. From the first riff to the last chord, the Irish quintet seemed out to prove that, despite the bright tone of their songs, they are a band with attitude to spare. While the Thrills certainly didn't come off as wild as the over-the-top Johnny Mac did in his prime, their Ireland-via-the-Pacific sound translated well live as fun, high-energy rock and made for an entertaining 90-minute set. The Thrills had their work cut out for them--they followed a particularly raucous set from the Liverpool-based Zutons, who sounded like the Clash with an ear for four-part harmony and a honking alto sax.

  • Moveon.org's Vote for Change Tour Featuring Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., and Pearl Jam

    Moveon.org's Vote for Change Tour October 8-TD Waterhouse Centre, Orlando, FLOctober 11-MCI Center, Washington, DC The Vote for Change tour's final show in Orlando, Florida, served as the grand finale for modern rock's most earnest guerilla campaign to date. Yet both politically and geographically, the tour reached its apex three days before, when Hurricane Lisa blasted through the hapless city. Hotels designed for the jet set boasted makeshift shutters and empty fountains, while neon signs pointing towards Disney World and Universal Studios flickered with waning energy, simultaneously signaling the natural disaster and the end of the Clinton-era prosperity.

  • America's Semi-Modern Troubadour: Colin Meloy of the Decemberists

    The Decemberists with Lou BarlowWebster HallNew York City There is something about Decemberists lead singer Colin Meloy that inspires old-fashioned descriptors, words that haven't been in common usage since nineteen dickety six.Perhaps it's his predilection for industrial Victorian storytelling in his songs (see; The "Chimbley Sweep", "Billy Liar", the "Legionnaire's Lament").Maybe its Meloy's own use of quaintly antiquated nouns, like "knickers" and "divan," or the dainty illustrations that decorate all of the Decemberists albums and merch. Meloy comes off as a dandy, and not in the Oscar Wilde, faux gay kind of way, though Montana-bred Meloy does affect a British accent.

  • Guided by Voices farewell tour

    Guided by VoicesThe PageantSt. Louis, MO Picture a typical concert venue transformed into something straight out of the 1920s. Men in suits look at you and say, "Welcome to 'Speakeasy'. Have a good time tonight." Women dressed as flappers nod and wink.You wonder for a second if you're in a jazz-age timewarp instead of the Guided by Voices farewell tour, but sheer curiosity keeps you engaged. In the corner, a band called the Urban Jazz Naturals plays a swinging mix of trumpet and guitar riffs that has the audience equal parts perplexed and dance-happy. Velvet couches are in abundance, and people lounge on them, sipping a variety of beverages. An elderly woman named Dixie deals blackjack to several players.Three women dance seductively to classy music piped in from overhead.

  • The Libertines - Live at NYC's Webster Hall

    The LibertinesWebster HallNew York City There are certain artists--Cat Power and Ryan Adams come to mind--who have parlayed volatility and unpredictable behavior into part of their live performance appeal. For fans, the thrill of a potential public meltdown is well worth the price of a ticket. There are others (Michael Jackson, Courtney Love) whose personal lives provide so much tabloid fodder that their press threatens to upstage their on-stage antics. The UK-based sloppy gutter-glam Libertines have made a career out of drunkenly walking the line between the two. The cover art of the Libertines' eponymous new album is a portrait of a sweaty Carl Barât pushed in a sort of half-embrace with his co-frontman, Peter Doherty - Carl looking pleadingly into the camera, Pete gazing down at his left arm, and THE LIBERTINES emblazoned across both.

  • Unhappy Campers

    Indie rock veterans Camper Van Beethoven were dealt an unfriendly blow by our neighbors to the north this past week. After triumphantly rocking a sold-out CMJ show at New York's Bowery Ballroom last Saturday night, Camper Van Beethoven's comeback tour hit an unexpected bump in Montreal the following Wednesday, when all of their gear and merch was stolen from a van in the parking lot of the Hotel Lord Berri. According to Camper's website, the theft was clearly premeditated and professionally executed. "They cut through the sheet meal of the trailer to get around the lock, but not before rifling the keys in the attendant kiosk to see if they couldn't steal the whole van," wrote the band in an online statement. Rupert Bottenberg, the music editor for Montreal's alt weekly The Mirror, was disappointed but not shocked by the theft.

  • Decemberists, Donnas, Kicks Kickoff CMJ Music Marathon

    By: Peter Gaston From quads far and wide they came, bouncing about town in wide-eyed bliss, plastic badges dangling loosely from their necks, San Loco taco sauce spillage on their sleeves.

  • Sondre Lerche, The Concretes, and The Golden Republic on Night Two of CMJ Fest

    By: Jessica Grose Thursday night's CMJ/Spin/Astralwerks showcase at the Bowery Ballroom was dominated by a dulcet, retro, Scandinavian invasion in the form of Sondre Lerche and the Concretes. Midwestern indie popsters the Golden Republic, the ominous-sounding Inouk, and the sparkly electroclash of VHS or Beta rounded out the evening. With the exception of the bouncy VHS or Beta, it was a decidedly mellow night. Check out the photo gallery here. Norwegian heartthrob Sondre Lerche channeled Nick Drake's melodic acoustic charm, but without the underlying depressive qualities. "Two Way Monologue" came off like the live soundtrack to a '60s romantic comedy.

  • Franz Ferdinand's "Tell Her Tonight"--in German. Achtung!

    You'll want to sing along to Franz's new song, "Tell Her Tonight," with its anthemic chorus and driving bassline. The only problem is, the entire song is in German. Unless you have a degree in Kraftwerk, you probably won't be able to understand a word drummer Paul Thomson sings. You will, though, be able to rock out to this fast-paced, catchy single, even if you can't karaoke to it.

  • Signer: The New Face of Smiling

    By: Julia Simon I was skeptical as I started listening to the latest album by New Zealand's Signer (n� Bevan Smith): The first track on the album, "Low Light Sleep," almost feels like filler. But after repeated listens, it became apparent that the track establishes Signer's signature pairing of synthetic sounds with airy, natural vocals. About halfway through the track, Signer's tenor--suggestive of a monotone Thom Yorke--begins to crescendo, but never to the point that it audibly overtakes the fuzzed-out electric guitar. The synthetic, textured instrumentation is a startling contrast to Signer's smooth voice. He turns vocals into backup instruments and instruments into sonic beauty. The same movement is repeated. The same, barely audible lyrics are sung again. It's almost impossible to characterize what you just heard, but you like it.

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