What I’m Listening to: MGMT – Congratulations

13 09 2010

You can make cool music with your shirts on guys.

The boys of psychedelic rock phenomenon MGMT warned the world that their sophomore release would not be the catchy, synth-laden, electro-pop that their massively successful debut was.  They risked completely losing the frat-boy fan base that launched them into stardom over the last couple years. Personally, when I heard the words MGMT and surf-rock in the same sentence, I must admit I was skeptical, and my preconceived notions of what Congratulations would be kept me from giving it the attention I soon realized it deserved. Surf-rock and frat-boy labels aside this album is a legitimate attempt at something fresh and unique.  For a second time Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser have ripped the rugs out from under our collective feet and sent us free-falling into musical bliss, once again demonstrating a connection with the new youth counterculture displayed by few other artists. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bonnaroo 2010 Wrap Up

21 06 2010

The crowd at Bonnaroo

Bonnaroo 2010 ended Sunday night, and not until now have I had the time and brain capacity to put my thoughts about it onto paper.  The atmosphere, the people, the scorching Tennessee sun, the music, the sweat, have all been left in Manchester, but the 100,000 people who were there for the greatest weekend in music will never forget it.  I’ve decided that the easiest way to put ‘Roo into words would be to hand out grades to the artists that I saw, so here they are without further ado.

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What I’m Listening To – OK Go: Of the Blue Colour of the Sky

22 02 2010

OK Go should be quite the show at Bonnaroo this summer

OK Go have been around since 2002 when they released their self-titled debut.  Despite all the attention they’ve garnered for their outreageously choreographed music videos, fights with their record label over embedding videos, or opening up for Panic(!) at the Disco on tour, I must admit I never payed much attention to them (probably for the exact reasons listed above).  Associating themselves with Panic(?) at the Disco definitely placed them into a specific, judgmental category for me: Don’t bother listening.  So when did the change take place?  Bonnaroo announced their line-up for the 2010 festival about a week ago, and near the top of the list was OK Go.  Having attended ‘Roo last year I know that they don’t mess around when it comes to booking acts for the festival.  It is the most eclectic gathering of musicians in the world.  From old to new, Hip-Hop to death metal to Jimmy Buffet, Bonnaroo knows how to throw a party, and even the artists you’ve never heard of always manage to entertain.  So since I plan on returning to the massive farm in the middle of nowhere for a weekend of only god knows what this summer, I figured I would check out all the acts I’ve never heard that are scheduled to play.  So I got my hands on most of it, put it into a giant iTunes playlist, hit shuffle, and let the thing run while I screw around on the internet for hours doing nothing.  After listening for a while I started to realize that every time I came across a really cool song, it was OK Go who was responsible for said song.  So finally this morning I decided to just listen to the album all the way through.

Of the Blue Color of the Sky is OK Go’s third album, and it’s fantastic.  They are one of those rare bands that has a flare for the outlandish, electronic, and psychedelic rock that doesn’t usually have mass appeal, but they maintain a pop sensibility about their melodies and song writing that crosses over genres and makes for REAL pop-music (sorry Lady Gaga you don’t qualify as real music to me).  The rhythms are basic, dancey, and upbeat.  The mix of synths, arena-rock guitars, and robot vocals (Before the Earth was Round), makes for a dynamic, enthralling listen.  Later in the album they pull out the acoustic guitar for a downtrodden ballad (Last Leaf) and keep it out for a little bit of the exciting psychedelic rock (Back from Kathmandu) I mentioned before.  OK Go worked with producer Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, MGMT) on this album, and his influence shines through on all the aspects of the album that I mentioned earlier.  I hadn’t heard of Mr. Fridmann until recently, but I am a HUGE fan of this guys work.  Everything he touches seems to come out completely original, and he has a way of taking things out of the mainstream, yet maintaining mass appeal (if that makes sense), which is the yellow brick road of success for indie rock bands these days.

All in all I must say that I am really looking forward to seeing these guys live this summer.  They remind me a lot of TV on the Radio who played an amazing set at Bonnaroo last year, so I expect more of the same from OK Go…don’t disappoint me guys I just wrote a lot of really good things about your music!

Key Tracks: Back from Kathmandu, In the Glass, This too Shall Pass

You Might Also Like: TV on the Radio, Animal Collective, Spoon