Music and Festival Fun To Come

Its almost summer festival time. This year we’re going to Poland for the Opener festival again. Gabriel, Kaz and I went in in 2009, met up with some Polish friends, enjoyed the weather, vodka, beer and music. Basement Jaxx, Prodigy, The Roots and Arctic Monkeys rocked it up. Coldplay headed one night but we skipped that and the Kings Of Leon put on a good show abeit showcasing a fairly shit album. And that’s what the summer is often about for bands. Showing the world their new albums, selling it over summer before they return in November to encourage the Christmas sales.

This year at Opener the acts are even better and far more tailored to my wishes (Thanks Opener!). Nick Cave, Queens of the Stone Age, The National, Tame Impala, Animal Collective, Devendra Banhart , Modest Mouse, Blur, Crystal Fighters and Castles etc etc. For the price 120 pounds for 4 days, its a bargain. Added to the cheap price of booze and life in Poland, we’ll be happy. I say we because right now 4/5 of us are going plus I’ll catch up with Ola for the first time since Jerusalem in 2010!

So to the albums. These are by no means all but some of what’s been occupying my ears, mind and feet over these last few, hot months.
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Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork 7/10

Its good, catchy, less rocky, gentler and more heartfelt than before. Maybe Josh is getting older!

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 5.5/10

Slightly more morose than his more recent albums, more akin to his older albums in the mid-90s, Cave is still a great storyteller and his songs imbue into your bones.

Foals 6/10

Its good but I have heard all this before from British indie rock despite a great depth

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories 8.5/10

This is a long album and full of highlights, middle lights and some tunes you flick by. Its incredibly slick and feel-good and the last few tracks are a real rousing finale. Giorgio by Moroder is absolutely fantastic.
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Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City 9/10

I really like this album. It’s instantly loveable, deeper than the previous efforts. The sound is still diverse, ecletic and booming while the band’s themes are more grown up. Ya Hey is an immense tune.

Kurt Vile – Walking on a Pretty Daze 8.5/10

Ahhh this album puts anyone in a confused or irritated mood take a step back and just relax. Vile’s lyrics contain pearls of wisdom. His languid guitar solos are destressers of the highest order. 9 minute songs fly by. Its perfect for city centre walks here. Vile really takes you into his world.

John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts 8/10

I am a late discoverer of John Grant. My mate Matty raved about him but only this year have I listened. Grant is a serious musician with real talent, direct amusing lyrics writing his sad story with pathos, arrogance and some great one liners.

Primal Scream – More Light 6.5/10

A new album and the first one I’ve wanted to listen to repeatedly since….ahh I dunno….15 years. The opener tells the story. Bobby is a rant over post-modernity. His targets are usually fellow artists who’ve failed to politicise their art, preferring to take the cash and mooch around Shoreditch. Alas while his aim is good, his solutions fal at the door of excess.

The National – Trouble Will Find Me 8/10

Matt’s voice got light and smokier (ironically as smokes less) but his alcoholism and melodic narrative of personal doom continues. Its a more restrained album musically, reminding me of Alligator which is no step back. The drums come to the fore again. The themes are often criticised by non-lovers as samey but in reality like Camera Obscura, this consistency is their strength. Its the nuance that’s important. Heavenfaced is beautiful (along with many others).

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Disclosure – Settle 6/10

If anything is samey, its electronic music but while Disclosure maintain their sound in general, they add extra texture with guest vocals and a diverse range of themes. Its a long album. Too long. But while you can stand it, or as background to preparing to go out, its good accompaniment.

Johnny Marr – 5/10

I can’t remember the name of this album. I can’t remember any the songs or any of the riffs. But yet I don’t feel I wasted my time. After each of my three listenings, 20 minutes I couldn’t recall any of the songs but I still felt good about the album. I suppose its catchy, pleasant, then forgettable indie rock. I liked it even if I can’t remember.

Grownass Man – The Shouting Matches 7.5/10

Bon Iver sits in the studio with his two old friends and pulls out some funny, loose country bar rock. Damn its good even if it does feel like a session played in front of friends and family and some approving locals in the middle of Minnesota.

I’d write about more albums but I need another listen. More soon

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The National Update

The National’s Trouble Will Find Me is great. Reminds me somewhat of Alligator which is only a good thing. Berninger is in full confessional mode (I Need My Girl and Pink Rabbits) but there remain the usual driving complex rock tunes too (Graceless, Sea of Love & Humiliation). It usually takes me a week or so to understand how much I like an album by TN but this one hits the spot within a day.

We’ve just sorted out summer out. The Opener Festival with Modest Mouse, Queens of the Stone Age, Nick Cave, Tame Impala, Blur and the Kings of Leon follwoed by Krakow, Prague, Amsterdam etc etc. I’ve gotta find The National but it might just not be possible this year. Third time lucky soon though.

The National Are Back

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I am listening to the latest album ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ as I type this. Pink Rabbits is playing right now, a typical mournful and beautiful ballad concerning unexplained love. Berninger’s voice is higher, more muted and restrained. Without the cover notes, I’d guess it wasn’t Berninger singing. But lyrics as below inform you.

So surprised you wanna dance with me now.
I was just getting used to living like that without you around.
So surprised you wanna dance with me now.
I was always said I held way too far off the ground.

You didn’t see me, I was falling apart.
I was a white girl in a crowd of white girls in the park.
You didn’t see, I was falling apart.
I was a television version of a person with a broken heart.

I can’t remember too much of the start of the album right now. I’ll listen to it through again. The National’s albums always end well. But it also take time to unravel the wordplay and stories. The album has the usual complex, driving drumming and more piano accompaniment this time. Its less forced and lovelier.
Next Vampire Weekend’s new album

Dan’s Awards 2012

DSCF7883Person of the Year

Gabriel Almonacid for being a great mate in Colombia providing me with a bed, a guide in Bogota and the ‘nearby’ old towns and staying with his great family in Armenia. I even heard he and Claudia tried to call me the other night!

Comeback of the Year

Christine Leclerc. After living together for a year many years ago, I can say I have missed that big laugh and smiley face a lot.

DSCF1214Newcomer of the Year

Jan Thomas Ødegaard, the slightly eccentric Norwegian gets the nod.

My Christ Its Been a Long Time

Bobbi Coombs met me at the airport in Winnipeg after not seeing each other for about 3500 days (aka 9.5 years) and then had me to stay for a few days. We ate Easter dinner with her family, watched hockey together and I got well and truly plastered with her brother Doug.

DSCF8918Meal of the Year

Eating the freshly-caught fish in Colombia with Jenni and Kati.

Sushi with Ronnie and Debs in Ontario

Tapas and red wine with Gabrielle in Bilbao.

What the hell happened Last Night drunk night

3. The Sarajevo dancing night.

2. Post presentation with Oli Bigland in Oxford

1. Waking up in the morning in a Ukrainian mental hospital. I still don’t know what happened.

PANO_20120516_183803Sight of the Year

Kotor in Montenegro blew me away. Waking up in our house in Salento in Colombia. The sight of Venice from the train station. Its everything you’ve heard about.

Random Moment Award

Jumping off the NY subway to be with Bora.

The house gig with Em in Bavaria

Cultural Event of the Year

Taking part in the La Merce festival in Barcelona with Ilo. Fireworks, burns and dancing masks.

DSC_0392-1Sports event of the Year

Big year for games. I saw maybe 10 and 5 or 6 were football derbies, the Yankees and the Knicks play in New York but it has to go to the Belgrade derby. Red Star against Partizan Belgrade.

Films of the Year

Moonrise Kingdom or Cloud Atlas

Favourite album of the year

Japandroids

Moment of Violence Moment

Getting chased and hit with a truncheon by a rabid Bosnian policeman before the Sarajevo derby was pretty exciting.

Bar of the Year

Tijuana bar in Belgrade, the night of the French music with Mirjana and Jan.

Hospital Bar in Kiev with the flaming helmet

Scariest moment of the Year

Seeing Emmi somersault off her bike and land on her head in Bavaria. Luckily she was wearing a helmet and only broke two neck vertebrates.

Big Balls Moment

Heading back in a taxi from the beach with Jenni and Marioka in Santa Cruz, Colombia, we saw a neighbourhood street party. We changed in the hostel and walked there. the police were outside telling us not to go in as it was a cartel party. We looked at each other and walked over. After some drinks and flour thrown over us, we ended drinking the local firewater outside the convenience store with some truckers until the early hours.

Standing up to another huge, sneering policeman before the Sarajevo derby was fairly scary.

Would I do it all again?

Hell yeah. I’d like to thank everyone for helping me along the way 🙂