Archive for ‘Music’

June 27, 2011

Six months, six albums: 2011/1

by Kevin Aditya

Now, it’s a proper time to write again about all the good records released within the past semester, since it’s holiday and I’ve got more free time than… ever. I know June isn’t over yet, but I’m not going to review another album anyway unless Death From Above 1979 is releasing their post-reunion sophomore album before the start of July. Now that I’ve come to terms that a guy that only have the ears of an avid listener wouldn’t make any better review than any guy who could actually play, I’m keeping the opinion short and non-technical so it won’t swoosh over anyone’s head meaninglessly. 2011 was nothing short of memorable, as established bands are throwing in their follow-ups with good results in some, half-decent in the others. Some are my instant classics though, so I feel obliged to write about them since I always obtained their music through *ahem* piracy. Hell, nobody buys music legally in Indonesia. Six albums below are the most delightful of what I’ve listened through the ongoing year, in no hierarchical order.

The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar


Epic, powerful, captivating. This noise rock/grunge debut from the Welsh band deserves all of the praises with tracks like ‘The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie‘ and ‘A Heavy Abacus‘ — a blend of anthemic wall of sound and robust yet feminine vocal with clever use of simple lyrics. If this is where rock music is heading, I’ll be eternally grateful.

Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will


Post-rock is saturated, yes, I would second that. And it’s about time the giants of the genre break their way through. Mogwai, despite loathing the label of post-rock, has done it with their latest long-titled album, though not with a rhino burst on the restraining wall, but instead with a little synth touch here and there to spice up the genre, spearheaded with the definitive single ‘Mexican Grand Prix‘.

Wye Oak – Civilian


It’s one of the rare cases when what gets the band into the scene is their sophomore album. Wye Oak’s debut The Knot is at most a linear, plain album — but they surely are building bridges with Civilian. Bleak and haunting, Jenn Wasner’s singing guides us through lines of cryptic (and often weak) lyrics in a fuse of folk, rock and shoegaze.

Friendly Fires – Pala


In terms of making fun, danceable in the not so uhn-tiss-uhn-tiss way, Friendly Fires stands strong with the likes of Klaxons and Delphic — in fact this Hertfordshire outfit is exactly the 50:50 blend of the two. Infusing the electro element of dance punk into a refreshing record with their 2008 self-titled debut, Fires seems to be unmoved from the formula in their second effort — which is cleverly the right thing to do.

Brigitte – Et Vous, Tu M’aimes?


‘And you, you love me?’ (Said Google Translate.) There is definitely much to love about this album, a sexy pop record made by the two Parisians, Aurélie Maggiori and Sylvie Hoarau. Often slow and seducing, other times dance-inducing, this guitar-laden chanson française fits as an appropriate soundtrack for Bond films: feminine and exhilarating, but never weak.

Panic! at the Disco – Vices & Virtues


A Ryan Ross-less P!ATD will never be the same again forever, but that doesn’t mean Panic has ran out of geniuses that is Brendon Urie and with the release of Vices & Virtues, the now-duo is overturning wild expectations, although not in the best possible way. While the summer-poetry way Urie writes is just enough to please their more literate fans post-Ryan Ross, combining the powerful rock spirit of their debut album and the 70s endless-summer atmosphere of Pretty. Odd. has resulted in a solid pop album with touches of retro in every track or two.

Battles – Gloss Drop


Since the NYC quartet released their most talked-about debut Mirrored back in 2007, there has been a wild anticipation for their sophomore effort Gloss Drop, especially with the departure of vocalist Tyondai Braxton. Fortunately for Battles, vocals were never the headlining part of their music, and with a string of carefully chosen collaborators such as Matias Aguayo and Gary Numan, Gloss Drop has proven the playful element of their music never sets apart and weirder than ever (check out the ‘Ice Cream‘ music video).

Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys


Having an already strong fanbase, it would seem anything Gibbard and Walla throw would be appreciated highly by their fans, and when they said Codes and Keys will be less guitar-centric it was a bit of a lie but still loved. While the guitars are still largely heard, keyboard takes the near-central part of constructing dark, richly layered songs with Gibbard’s voice seemingly in a distance. It’s not their best work, nor anything near their worst, it’s DCFC taking little steps away from their own convention. What’s not to love?

The Antlers – Burst Apart


Hospice is the outlier that brought us to the fact that an album plagued with depression can actually succeed when you write it thoroughly. With the sophomore effort Burst Apart, Silberman on his upper register again writes in a non-storybook, slightly more positive note, lyrically and musically, proclaiming love through lines like “So close up your knees / and I’ll close your parentheses“.

Destroyer – Kaputt


Finally my most favorite of all. Daniel Bejar is a long-running artist, having released 10 albums and 3 EPs throughout his 15-year career. His works consistently build a monumental path to the one finally considerable as a masterpiece titled Kaputt, a gentle pop record utilizing 80’s synth and saxophone to create the perfect city night drive music unlike anything Destroyer has ever done before, in the best possible way.

Did I say six albums? Well, I lied.

January 20, 2011

Annual #1

by Kevin Aditya

This one is a draft I’ve forgotten for the past few weeks, so I’ll just post it now. Some of my favorite tracks from the past year. It’s weird that I got sick around the exact same time as I had last year, only fortunately not as severe. This time I only got some flu fever, but certainly I need time to recover, so there’s not much to do but watching decent movies and making playlists. Now that I’ve recovered, life goes on and responsibilities began to pile up… but I believe great responsibilities build great power (and Peter Parker vice versa), so let’s tackle ’em all.

 

 

Lover of Mine // Beach House
High and Low // Sambassadeur
Boy Lilikoi // Jónsi
Thieves // She & Him
Regentropfen // Zazie Von Einem Anderen Stern
When We First Met // Hellogoodbye
Paradise Circus (feat. Hope Sandoval) // Massive Attack
My Time // Minus the Bear
Hægt, Kemur Ljósið // Ólafur Arnalds
I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know // Los Campesinos!
Silver Jenny Dollar // The New Pornographers
Coffee and Cigarettes // Jimmy Eat World
Counterpoint // Delphic
Art House Director // Broken Social Scene
Find My Way Back // Four Year Strong

Enjoy here.

December 4, 2010

Sleeping soundly

by Kevin Aditya

There are times when you just can’t sleep, no matter how grueling your day was. Your eyes are closed but your mind is running a series of imagery of things you have to do as soon as you wake up — that is, if you can finally drown your head in deep sleep. I used to have it at times when schedules are running tight with tons of things to do (or vice versa, when I have infinitely nothing to do so I kinda refuse to sleep). But there’s always music to soothe the nerves. Some albums are just made to lull people to the alpha waves, and I do have my own selection too, that lately worked so well they send me sleeping in the middle of my doing the shitload of assignments… and I’d share the list so you can once again find some comfort.

Lullaby for the Working Class // Blanket Warm (1996)

What did you expect from a band with Lullaby in its name that created an album titled Blanket Warm? This Nebraska folk rock outfit were active from mid- to late-90’s, and Ted Stevens of Cursive fame in vocal might send you leaving the album due to his rough, wailing voice that at times seems to slip the rhythm, but overall the variety of slow guitars, ukulele and violin used creates more than an endearingly soft album.

Chick Corea // Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (1968)

Sitting among the most acclaimed jazz artist all the time, he was influential in expanding the electric fusion movement and jazz itself through his lifelong career. Yet I feel ashamed since what I could get most from his second album is as a melodic pillow to my ears, leaving behind most of his intricate plays on piano playing in my dreams. Well, any piano jazz would do.

Real Estate // Self-titled (2009)

There’s little to not love about this album, since nothing helps you to sleep like an auditory picturesque of an idyllic sunny day at a tropical beach the instant you play the first track, “Beach Comber”. This surf pop group should redefine the genre as sleep-like-a-log pop, with the exception of Surfer Blood…

The Silent League // But You’ve Always Been the Caretaker (2010)

The Brooklyn-based act might still be largely unheard of, but the Silent League has proven Justin Russo’s (of Mercury Rev fame) extravagant skill in crafting beautiful chamber/orchestral pop ballads with a multitude of instruments — while still calming enough as a bedtime lullaby. Not to mention the powerful cover of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Yours Truly, 2095”.

Letting Up Despite Great Faults // Movement (2006)

Ah, I know I’ve been bitching about the awesomeness of this band quite a lot lately, but while their glowing self-titled début remains one of my favorite albums ever, their first work titled Movement (EP) is my newfound lovechild of juvenile, adorable dream pop/electronica and a cushy pillow beneath blankets. The no-nonsense sleeper first track “Disasters Are Okay” bags drowsiness into my eyes even as I type. As the rest of the album stand strong on being musically lush, LUDGF keeps on pinning love in every of their fans’ heart.

October 28, 2010

Ecstatic weekend!

by Kevin Aditya

Yes, I’ve been busy with my study lately — assignments and surveys, to be precise. But those shall not prevent me from watching the hyped-round-the-year Vampire Weekend show on Bengkel Night Park, 24 October 2010. Can I make window in the schedule to roll over there just to watch it? Of course. Then I went. Was it awesome? Absolutely.

Seriously, I didn’t follow the hype around them when they first released their eponymous debut album back in 2008 because, um, a band that managed to put a photo of a chandelier in their album artwork can’t be that good, can it? Fast forward to 2010, I listened to Contra and got all sorts of hooked with it and also their debut material. Though I can’t imagine how some of their slow, minimalistic songs would hold up in their live performances, so there can only be one way to prove it.

 

There was already a crowd in front of Bengkel by the time I arrived with my gf and friends at some time past six, and the gathering at the place were… the definitive ‘indie’ crowd, I’d say, from a fashion perspective. It’s when you realized that when all the guys and girls with slightly-weird-clothing you see everyday gathered in one place, they’re still just another batch of mass product. Girls with their striped shirts and pixie cuts and guys with the Ray-Bans… well, it’s fashion, nothing is original except you’re a Gaga with a ready-to-roast meat dress. I could go on rambling but let’s just start with the show.

There was a tremendous amount of waiting, pardon me for the exaggeration, before finally Monkey to Millionaire stepped up as the opening band. It seems like the demographic of Vampire Weekend listeners is half the world away from the Monkey to Millionaire’s, because nearly nobody I saw was excited seeing them performing, or I just stood in the wrong part of the crowd. Slowly but sure the performance turned into quite a bore because I don’t listen to them either — but hey, even some girls keep shouting “Vampire Weekend!” at the last half of their performance. Oh, wait, the girls shouting were foreigners. Highly annoying Caucasians ‘coo coo’-ing throughout the whole show, but nevermind. The audience only sparked up a bit when they play their most recognizable song, “Strange Is the Song in Our Conversation” featuring Marsha as the female lead, but even that didn’t hold up. When they finished to the high expectation from the crowd of Vampire Weekend, the sound crews took a shitload of time setting up the instruments for the main menu of the night. Hell, I even fell asleep sitting crosslegged on the venue floor until all of the sudden four guys grabbed their equipments, strumming up to the tune of…

“Holiday”! A great opening to heat the mood up, everyone was jumping on their feet singing “To go away on a summer’s day never seemed so clear…” forgetting that the city has been jammed with ferocious flooding rain for days. Next is the slower “White Sky” where the crowd joined Ezra Koenig vocalizing the no-lyrics chorus, followed by “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”. The guys were very active for a four-piece band, dancing and jumping in between songs when they could. Chris Baio should be held in high regard that he didn’t just “stand there and play bass” like so many bassists out there, a good mark for the band. “I Stand Corrected” was up next, though it’s a tad weird to play such slow song early in the game, but more annoying was the guy behind me who didn’t know the lyrics at all but keep on singing “I stain kow-righted” anyway like a Mongolian losing his translator. After “M79” and “Bryn” Koenig shouted “Indonesia!” through his vocoder and started playing the fast “California English” to the dancing crowd, followed by a great performance of “Cousins” that would be replayed over and over in my head whenever the song shows up when I’m setting up my team in PES 2011.

Right after “Run”, to the audience that were starting to get tired from all the jumparound, Koenig asked whether they are still having a good time because up next is their “easiest song to dance to”. Yes, they played “A-Punk”, much to the excitement of the folks to get back on dancing again. Rostam, who keep switching around between guitar and keyboard, was really enjoying his time on stage dancing round with his eyes closed when not playing, appropriate enough for a guy with Batman for a middle name. Past “One (Blake’s Got a New Face)”, the slow “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance”, and “Diplomat’s Son”, the guys played a great rendition of the already great “Giving Up the Gun”, and some people were waving A3 sized white-on-black letterings of “GO ON”, creating an unforgettable moment as Koenig sang “I see you shine in your way, go on, go on, go on…” kudos to whoever handed them out.

“Campus” was up next, one of their most seemingly blatant love song, satisfying some part of the crowd who keep on shouting campus for them to play. They left the stage after “Oxford Comma”, and after moments of people lauding we want more, they’re back strumming “Horchata” on stage. The last two songs were “Mansard Roof” and “Walcott”… they finally left the stage for good, leaving behind a smiling crowd of audience fully satisfied and tired from all the dancing. Vampire Weekend really tops the rating for entertaining their crowd. Regrets are for those choosing not to see them live!

August 11, 2010

God-be-with-ye

by Kevin Aditya

So, here it goes, there’s this good friend of mine and we’ve known each other for around 7 years. It was grade 7, and he was my classmate, and in high school we played together in a just-for-fun band, so we have basically had some good times together. He is continuing his study at Louisiana State University, which is in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA, god knows where it is. At the day of his departure, August 4th, I was unfortunate that I couldn’t send him off (is that the right term?) with my other friends since I was on the LFM documentation team for the ITB June graduation. He’s probably not going to come back for another 2 years or so, and well, this playlist is to make up for it dude. There goes one other of my friends, and soon there will be some more to Aussie, Netherlands, Germany…. Now dude, I know you’ll have great times there, but nevertheless the adaptation part sure as hell won’t be easy. I’d say go out a lot and enjoy the chance you’ve been given. So here are some songs just in case you miss your Bunderan Pamulang and Kebayoran and friends and stuff. The tracks are virtually handpicked by me for their hopefully matching lyrical content to your life there (in other words, read the damn lyrics bro!). Be a nice dude and buy me some band merch, ‘kay.

And of course, since it’s for Reza Dwi Saputra, the songs should be emo/alternative rock/whaddayacallit.

on the left is @nindyanisita and yea it's a crappy webcam photo

Download here mofos!!

Put it in any order you like:

Jimmy Eat World // The Middle
Cinematic Sunrise // Crossing Our Fingers for the Summer
Bright Eyes // Another Travelin’ Song
Nightmare of You // Dear Scene, I Wish I Were Deaf
Brand New // Millstone
The Used // The Taste of Ink
You, Me, and Everyone We Know // Livin’ Th’ Dream
City and Colour // Waiting…
Jack’s Mannequin // The Lights and Buzz
Lovedrug // Pretend You’re Alive

This one is out of the league but I’d like to include it anyway:
The Kooks // See the World

p.s. it’s hard to find good songs that are NOT about love these days. I tried hard so not to sound gay.

May 15, 2010

Farewell Copeland.

by Kevin Aditya

Once in a while, every now and then, there will be a band you could like wholeheartedly, in a non casual-listener kind of way. A band that you could recite every line of their songs to relate to any situation, a band you could recognize every intro of their songs being played on the radio. Copeland is that kind of band, with fans that relate to them in more than just plain, casual-listener type. Copeland weave their musical strings into the heart of their listeners with a harmony of idyllic alternative pop tunes over a lukewarm soundscape, complemented with layers of sometimes rustic, sometimes despondent lyrics.

From since the first time they announced the goodwill breakup of the band in October 2009, their most devoted fans from Indonesia just couldn’t help but beg the most for their number one band to add Indonesia to their farewell tour. And all hearts stopped beating for a second when the good news came: Copeland will play their best to their Indonesian fans on May 8, 2010, brought to the fans by Nada Promotama. It was probably the best upcoming gig news I’ve ever heard.

Hailing from Lakeland, Florida, Copeland are Aaron Marsh on vocal, guitar, mellotron, and pretty much everything that makes Copeland what they are, brothers Bryan and Stephen Laurenson on guitars, and Jonathan Bucklew on drums. Throughout their career they have released 4 studio albums with the first one being Beneath Medicine Tree on 2003 — a slow, laid back rock debut album that gives the original taste of Copeland with hit singles like “Coffee” and “Brightest”. Their 2005 sophomore effort, In Motion, is even a more rock oriented works that leave the radio-friendly aftertaste as heard in the single “Pin Your Wings”, as well as some trademark Copeland slow ballads like “Choose The One Who Loves You More”. Albeit being the album that pretty much captured the ears of new fans around the airwaves, their true masterpiece came in their third studio album released in 2006, Eat, Sleep, Repeat. Here, Copeland harnessed their potential to craft wonderfully eerie alternative pop tracks, exploring the wide variety of instruments to spark the fragile, yet beautiful loneliness in the hearts of the listeners. With songs like “I’m a Sucker for a Kind Word” and “Love Affair”, Copeland continued to become the top notch in producing all-killer-no-filler albums. As they released their (surprisingly) last album in 2008, You Are My Sunshine, Copeland had gloriously paved their way as the band that have touched the soul of thousands of their fans. The album is still instrument-rich, but the whole package of their sound have eventually matured, filling the atmosphere with sunnyday-on-a-grassfield feel on it. Dare I say this album tops the Copeland experience as a band, completing their varying previous works with an album only bands with high airtime could produce. “Good Morning Fire Eater”, “On the Safest Ledge” and the likes build up a solid album track through track.

When the sacred concert day finally came and thousands of the most devoted Copeland fans swirled down the sink at The Venue Eldorado, Bandung, everywhere there were faces with the utmost anticipation of seeing their favorite band, unlike most concerts held in Indonesia where a big part of the people attending only know 3-4 songs and there just for the sake of being hip. This is a show where people traveled from Yogyakarta, Jakarta or Surabaya just to see a band playing for the first and last time in their lifetime. People quickly rush to the frontmost of the stage seconds after the gate was opened at around 7.40 and the show was supposed to start at 8, too bad the band didn’t get on stage after one and a quarter hour of tiresome waiting. Seriously, waiting for something you highly anticipate that turns up late painfully tires your body and soul. Nothing any of us could do but to stand there and sing to the recorded songs flowing through the huge-ass speakers…

Then they went on stage behind the curtain at around 9.20 and everybody can’t help but got excited. Still behind the curtain, Copeland started off the night with the lengthy intro of “Priceless”, and the curtain was dropped revealing the four members plus an additional touring bassist amidst the stage fireworks. The crowd began to sing along with Aaron “I remember when I’d run to you / through field of white flowers…” and there, the blasting speakers etched nostalgia to the minds of the audience as the show was happening.

They didn’t talk much as Aaron only said a word or two before jamming into their next song, “Take Care”. A good choice to elevate the mood of the crowd with a rock tune, they continued the euphoria with the gloom-inducing “Careful Now”. Singing along the lines of “I threw everything out that doesn’t make sense / to find a thousand more things that don’t make sense” it’s hard to find anything more sensible than Aaron Marsh chanting the magical lyrics inches from you. The next one, a fan favorite, “I’m a Sucker for a Kind Word” was also delivered admirably with the charm of that is Aaron Marsh, telling us the overwhelming impact of the absence of our lovers: “On the softness of her laugh, I could almost make my bed / but the racket of her absence draw in the sirens blaring, ringing in my head…”


Aaron then hit the idling keyboard for the next few songs, and those Copeland songs armored with piano tunes are easily the most sentimental a fan can ever ask for. The mellowed down atmosphere was created with Aaron playing a minimalistic intro of “The Grey Man”, and his singing “And when you finally think it’s gone / you’ve gotta run right back to her arms” reminded us how we always keep running back to our old love (that could be Copeland in this case). “Chin Up”, another single off You Are My Sunshine was played right next, followed by the only single off Eat, Sleep, Repeat that is “Control Freak”. Note that Aaron’s vocal on live performances noticeably isn’t as powerful as is heard on the albums, probably due to his playing various instruments while providing vocals throughout the weary shows. Up next was the song that first brought Copeland into fame in Indonesia, “Coffee”. “We do the best we can in a small town / act like kids in love when the sun goes down…” it was forever a nice little song about love, so simple everybody couldn’t love it enough. “Sleep” with its catchy yet simple piano tune was next, followed by “On the Safest Ledge” where Aaron provided his own vocal at the part where Rae Cassidy Klagstad fill in, and both were equally haunting: “Could you be happy now / with the wind in your hair / and your eyes open wide / and your feet going nowhere?” The last two songs featuring the piano were “The Day I Lost My Voice” which is my all-time favorite, and the ever so haunting song about losing love, “Eat, Sleep, Repeat”.

Copeland went for some of the more rocking tunes right after, with the radio hit “Pin Your Wings” that popularized them to casual Indonesian listeners back in 2005, and the opening track off In Motion, “No One Really Wins”, a song depicting self-contradictions we face on daily basis: “In the endless fight of grace and pride / I don’t wanna win this time”. Two songs off Beneath Medicine Tree, the emotional “When Paula Sparks” and the heartfelt we-miss-you song “California” were up next. It was surprising to find them performing a considerable amount of songs from their debut album, as at the time Beneath Medicine Tree was out they were relatively only known for the track “Coffee”. But then, their Indonesian fans do honestly love their discography — quite a number of the audience were seen enthusiastically singing along with Aaron on tracks from BMT, or virtually any track from any of their albums. Guitarist Stephen Laurenson was quite the admiration of the night, with some girls comparing him to the likes of John Mayer. Even Aaron himself said on stage that “This is probably the biggest headlining show we’ve ever played”. After the two songs Copeland got off the stage in a seemingly end-of-the-show scene to have a quick rest, much to the encore demand from the crowd.

A minute or two later, amidst the we-want-more chants from the audience, Aaron Marsh went back up stage armed with an acoustic guitar playing the acoustic rendition of “Love Affair” in a nearly sacred atmosphere. The lines he sang flew right through the hearts of the mellowed-down fans, “Just let me run where I want to run / just let me love who I want…” and the keyboard was his next target for the minimalistic yet lovable song, “Brightest”. The whole venue couldn’t help but sing “…and she said that I was the brightest little firefly in her jar.” He then mentioned that the band were going to play “a couple more songs” (quite literally) and the whole band then readied themselves to hit the high notes off the powerful “Testing the Strong Ones”. When the mood was still high, the next and last song “You Have My Attention” is played, and along the emotional Aaron shouting “You have my attention… ohhh!” there the show was ended with a galore of confetti and fireworks, and they took off from the stage with Jon Bucklew shouting “Mojang Bandung geulis!”

It was a show you could only see once in a lifetime. They’ve been Copeland.

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