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Archive for September, 2010

(Editor’s Note: This is Rachel’s second piece for her weekly column, “The Lady Doth Protest)

Last Monday, Lady Gaga came to Portland, Maine. The visit received no press until late Sunday, when word spread that the shape-shifting spectacle would attend a protest for the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. The rally took place in a large, shady park in Portland, where upwards of two thousand people gathered around the small stage, clamoring for a glimpse of Gaga. While waiting for her arrival, outed military members shared their stories of discrimination. Even as discharged soldiers talked about losing their honor, career, and pension, the crowd’s attention veered elsewhere. Most rubbernecked in search of a limo, a rhinestoned Escalade, a cavalcade of elephants dressed in Nazi-chic leather—anything that would signify Gaga’s entrance. Yes, yes, gays serving openly in the military and all that, but will Lady Gaga wear shellfish? Perhaps even lobster, to support local Maine businesses? (more…)

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Peering up from a table full of electronic gadgetry, Pablo Díaz-Reixa, the Spanish musician behind the recording alias El Guincho, asked, “Do you like my music?” This still being the beginning of the show, the ambivalent crowd responded with scattered applause, lightly affirming the lead man. “I like my music,” he jokingly responded. In retrospect, this stood as a defining moment for the night. Díaz-Reixa, joined by a similarly bearded guitarist and bassist, jettisoned the slow-moving, mid tempo songs off his new album, Pop Negro, for frantic, loop-driven jams off of his masterpiece, Alegranza. While Pop Negro often clarifies the loose, repetitive nature of Alegranza, the latter moves bodies far more effortlessly than the former. However, each showcases Díaz-Reixa’s talent for channeling a distinctly Spanish sound into exotic yet familiar dance music. It is this unique talent that drew a near capacity crowd to the Mercury Lounge on Tuesday night.

El Guincho’s set began with Pop Negro‘s most catchy tunes, “Bombay” and “FM Tan Sexy,” a song that evokes “hearing a top single on the radio.” Díaz-Reixa, manning a drum pad, keyboard, and sampler, appeared quite busy controlling the flow and tempo of the show. The other members contributed with excellent harmonies and balanced the otherwise heavily electronic sounds with live instrumentation. “Palmitos Park” and “Buenos matrimonios ahí afuera,” both off of Alegranza, came toward the end of the set and exemplified the groups’ cohesion. And, as the crowd finally matched the frenzied state of the music, El Guincho’s energy amplified to levels uncontainable within the confines of the Mercury Lounge. Those closest to the stage, danced, jumped, and moshed to the last song “Antillas” like it was the last song they would ever hear.

So, now do you believe that we like your music, Pablo?

Additional pictures I took from the show after the jump: (more…)

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Photo: Jeff Martin from a July 2010 Show at the 9:30 Club

I’m not much for indie-pop music, but I do like going to shows.  So when a friend called up to say he had an extra ticket to the recent Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros show at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, I went with pretty low expectations.  I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the result.  They put on a high energy show that suited their music and got the crowd dancing.

Many folks will probably recognize their music from a recent Ford commercial and it’s no surprise that a marketing agent would choose them for an ad because their sound is really catchy.  After the show, I found myself hearing their songs in dreams, humming it while making dinner, and haunting me at work.  Despite the distinct danger of developing such a condition yourself, it’s totally worth going to see them; they are much better live.

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Update: Apparently it’s tough not being allowed to run for President.  Wyclef Jean was admitted to the hospital “suffering from stress and fatigue based on the grueling eight weeks he’s had.”  Of course, eight weeks is a long time; but not nearly as long as the 260 weeks that comprise a 5-year Presidential term in Haiti or the 520 weeks he would serve if re-elected; or is it comparable to the stress precipitated by the grueling task of rebuilding a country where thousands lack basic shelter.  Rest up Wyclef, you’ll need it for your next self-promoting gimmick.

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Rachel may be forced to listen to Celtic songstresses all day, but, thankfully, I have the freedom to choose the music I listen to at work. And, while I often pick something melodic or jazzy, I also listen to large helpings of Animal Collective, one of my favorite electronic/ experimental bands around.

Today, the band released a music video for “Bluish,” a choice  cut from their last album, Merriweather Post Pavilion.  The song is a beautiful tribute to infatuation and love which is matched in the music video with scenes of a belly dancer, a scorpion, and other blue-tinted psychedelic  images.

If you follow Animal Collective, you’ve come to expect music videos like this one. If you are not familiar with the band, this is a fairly approachable introduction.

Check it out here.

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(Editor’s Note: This is Rachel’s first piece for her new column, “The Lady Doth Protest)

Music has the power to sprinkle a menial job with positivity and productivity. Moving in time to the rhythm, I can efficiently work my way through tasks while practicing my subtle shimmy (side note: I currently work at a small stationery and invitation store).  This is all assuming, of course, that I like the songs playing – a faulty assumption to say the least.  The scene in 40 Year Old Virgin where Paul Rudd goes insane after two years of listening to Michael McDonald on loop comes to mind.  Perhaps Michael McDonald is an extreme example, but work has a funny way of ruining even the finest musicians through perverse repetition and association. (more…)

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R.I.P. Leonard Skinner

Having returned from a recent trip to the Deep South, it seems appropriate to recognize the death of Leonard Skinner, the phys ed teacher from Jacksonville, FL who inspired Ronnie Van Zant to call his band Lynyrd Skynyrd.

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