Archive for ‘Music’

April 30, 2010

A show of kings

by Kevin Aditya

Outside of Ritz-Carlton Pacific Place ballroom, March 28th 2010, people were already lining up for the night’s event, the main show being the two Scandinavian artists with acoustic guitars at their arsenal: Jens Lekman and Kings of Convenience. (well okay, it’s three artists.) From the hype around the show days before, it seemed that Indonesians have been already quite familiar with KoC since their last 2006 visit, while Jens Lekman is still relatively unheard for the Indonesian masses. People were reselling their show ticket at ridiculously, astronomically high prices — the Rp 350k tickets were being sold at more than twice the price, and there were some desperate dimwits still buying them. So when the ballroom door finally opened and hundreds of audience that lined up for hours rushed in, will the highly anticipated show be proven worthy of its price? “Let the night judge,” I said.

The night was opened by a performance from Hollywood Nobody, which was performing like, uhm, nobody. With the awkward female vocalist trying to warm up the audience in between their songs with little success, it seemed like either they don’t usually play at events this big or the spectators just don’t care about their songs except for one where little parts of the crowd could sing along. Note that their songs weren’t that bad, actually.

The next warmup is White Shoes and the Couples Company, and I’m telling you, Sari is the real deal. Her dances round the stage in between her singing was a glare of extravagant grace, rounding up the retro feel of their songs. Playing some songs including the cutesy meowing in “Aksi Kucing”, WSATCC never fails to bring the audience to the joyful atmosphere of an event.

Finished up with the local bands, the first main course of the night, Jens Lekman, went on stage with nothing but… an acoustic guitar, a macbook and a nervous-looking female percussionist. It might sparked curiosity on how would he perform those full-bodied songs of his with only 3 instruments (the percussion, not the percussionist) but there’s nothing a laptop can’t do nowadays. Starting off with the stripped-down version of “Sipping on the Sweet Nectar”, it’s clear that one good rule to remember is to start a concert with a well-known song, but don’t play it acoustic. Continuing with the relatively unknown “A Sweet Summer’s Night on Hammer Hill” with only a tiny part of the audience can sing to his “bop-bop-bop”, the next, more laid-back “Your Arms Around Me”, “It Was a Strange Time in My Life”, and “Black Cab” (a girl or two shouts the oh you’re so silent Jens) were able to please the quiet fans of Jens. When more upbeat songs were coming, started with “Shirin”, his charm was more than able to complement with the cheesy laptop-generated sounds. Drowned in his own state of bliss amidst the generally quiet Indonesian crowd, Jens peaked the mood with perhaps his most widely known song “The Opposite of Hallelujah”. “Into Eternity” was then played before he closed the performance with once again a classier, richer version of “Sipping on the Sweet Nectar”. Even when most of the audience put him only as the opening for KoC, he was indeed the quiet hallelujah of the night.

The 3,000-ish crowd were already uneasy waiting at the dark stage for the long-awaited comeback of the night, and when the duo Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe hit the stage with the roaring crowd before them and playing straight “24-25”, it was clear why they dubbed themselves the Kings of Convenience. With the crystal clarity of their guitars complementing the powerfully smooth harmony of their vocals, a flawless performance was built over such a minimalist set. The sweetly mellow “Me In You” was up next, followed by my favorite, ever so haunting “I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From”. Bøe was not in a good condition that night as he stayed standing still throughout the show, but the joyful spirit of Øye lifted up the mood of the show as he danced and joked around the stage. “Singing Softly to Me” was up next followed by one of the crowd favorite “Cayman Islands”. The overwhelmingly loud audience covered the voices of the duo as Øye then commented the Jakartan audience as “the loudest we’ve ever played to anyone”.

It was then a sing-along throughout the songs with a string of “Second to Numb”, “Mrs. Cold” which was highly anticipated, “Peactime Resistance”, “Misread”, “Boat Behind”. It wasn’t always the two of them though, as then Øye summoned Ricky and John from White Shoes and the Couples Company to play bass and drums to join them jamming the dancey ballad “I’d Rather Dance With You”. The mood of the show was already high, only to be calmed once more by a surprise: Øye singing WSATCC’s “Berlayar”, in broken Indonesian. It was probably the eeriest rendition of the song, him singing “Bersandar, menusuk jiwa…” in a haunting minimalist quality only the likes of Øye can perform. The gig was ending though, with their last song “Homesick” flowing through the audience as the perfect closure of the night, embossing the minds of the attendees with one of the most satisfying show they’ve ever been to.

Not to mention about half an hour after the show when people were already leaving, Øye wandered around with a ukulele, approached Lekman who was conversing with the fans, then the two of them sang some non-English tunes — couldn’t recognize what — inches from their lucky fans. Priceless.

Well okay I know this post is exactly one month late. Been batshit busy with academic life lately, don’t care if anybody would read the post, just in the mood for posting. 😀

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March 22, 2010

The not-so-obscure Obscura

by Kevin Aditya

Saturday, March 20th 2010. I was in the front of stage 2 with some friends at the FestiveSound listening to Sore finishing their song “Vrijeman” when Bianca told us that the main attraction on stage 3 is about to play, so we all move inside of Sasana Budaya Ganesha to prepare seeing the Scottish band, the star of the night, Camera Obscura twee-ing live in front of thousands of their fans in Bandung.

Photos by Shabr

Note that I’m not a fan of this band, not hating it either, more of a casual listener. Inside I met Dipta (that evening was the first time I actually met her non-cyberworld, didn’t know she’s quite a small girl hehe) and she said to put the review of the concert on the blog, so here it is. When finally the MC mentioned the name “Camera Obscura” and the two big guy of the band entered the stage continued with the charming look of Tracyanne Campbell, the excitement of the crowd is already high. The guys didn’t talk much and straightly played “My Maudlin Career”, a song which, unfortunately, relatively unknown to the general audience that compromised about half of the people there — but their next track “Tears for Affairs” was able to spark singing from parts of the crowd.

Photos by Shabr

Photos by Shabr

Photos by Shabr

All photos by Shabrina Pritta, click to enlarge.

Coming from the United Kingdom, the guys seem to be pretty excited to twang their guitars on a country they probably never cared about before, in front of perhaps thousands of people from half the world away that can sing along to the choruses of their songs. After their singles “French Navy” and “Honey in the Sun”, continued with “James” to stall the spirit of the audience, Tracyanne jumpstarted them by asking to sing along to the famous line “Hey Lloyd, I’m Ready to be Heartbroken”, much to the enthusiasm of the showgoers. Her smile upon listening to the whole hall singing the heartbreaker anthem was priceless. It was the face of an artist feeling the true achievement of a musician, being able to touch the soul of the people from a country they probably hardly ever heard of to sing the very songs they make throughout their career. That wasn’t the end though, as they continued with the thumping of “If Looks Could Kill”, another sing-along track “Let’s Get Out of This Country” and “Come Back Margaret” (Carey Lander was once asked to sing by Tracy, but she seemed to be too shy indeed) before finally taking off the stage… with the people screaming “We want more”, of course. Coming back with smiles on their faces, saying that they should’ve played ten songs, some of the crowd requested “Dory Previn” in high pitches but instead they played the epic-sounding “Razzle Dazzle Rose” as the concert finalé. Then they finally went off the stage for good with the drummer saying thank yous. And that was a great live performance indeed, a showcase that in these days, the formerly obscure indie pop scene has now become something more appealing for the mainstream (or hipster) masses to savor.

Photos by Shabr

That’s all I can write as long as I can remember, wait up for the Kings of Convenience (and Jens Lekman) review — they’ll be playing this weekend!

January 21, 2010

It was a musically bright year

by Kevin Aditya

Long time no see eh? Yes, it’s a holiday, but things kept me busy and my writing mood was drained answering question on my formspring, ask me anything. It might be a tad too late but welcome to the new year 2010! Last year was a year I would never forget, a year that had changed me in almost every way. I graduated from high school, got into ITB, lost a love, have tons of new friends and new activities, and last but not least, my musical taste has greatly broadened! I no longer put Copeland’s albums on repeat (although they’re still my favorite band so far). 2009 was a great year for music, as there were so many records released through the year, and me myself had listened to hundreds of them. I wrote a post about my favorite albums during the first semester of 2009, and now I feel obliged to write not only six albums, but all releases that I’ve found being on constant play on my iPod. I will not limit the list to certain genres, and the list is not in numerical order. All albums are of 2009 releases. Enough with the chit chat. Go!

toe – For Long Tomorrow

While their previous release The Book About My Idle Plot on a Vague Anxiety has introduced my ears to the drumcrunching sound of the amazing Japanese post-rock piece that is toe, their work in 2009, For Long Tomorrow, still proves that they can still confuse people over whether to put them in the post-rock genre, noticing the gloom aura surrounding their songs, or math rock due to the song dynamics and Takashi Kashikura’s intricate drumming. FLT once again brings the fans to the post-rock tunes you can dance your heads to with tracks like “エソテリック”.

Black Moth Super Rainbow – Eating Us

Reviews say that this album is less “drug trip-like” than their predecessors but for the first listen of this band, what came into my mind was how the album is a total audio hallucination. The first track (which is also the single) “Born in the Day the Sun Didn’t Rise” kicks off the album to a drowning electronic sound and after minutes you will find yourself swaying your head to the buzzing notes of their songs. Tracks like “Gold Splatter” puts them into the definitive road of psychedelic pop.

Jeremy Enigk – OK Bear

The Sunny Day Real Estate frontman Jeremy Enigk throws a powerful piano-driven tune with his single “Mind Idea” featured in a somewhat interesting skateboard music video, but that’s just one track off his new album OK Bear. With enchanting lyrics and a good mix of enchanting acoustic guitar pop and indie rock, complete with his old days emo-driven shrieking vocal, Enigk delivers you a rock record that you could listen through the pouring rainy day. But careful, singing along the lyrics off the songs might bring you gloom.

Company of Thieves – Ordinary Riches

One of my most favorite albums of the year, the Chicago female-fronted Company of Thieves releases a record with a harmony and power of an established band’s fourth or fifth album — although this is actually their début album, amazingly. Playing in what can be described as a healthy blend of indie pop cheerfulness and energetic alternative rock, vocalist Genevieve Schatz’s voice is perfectly complementary with the band’s laid back rock sound. Oh, and she’s also a definite cutie FYI. The single “Oscar Wilde” is a great start for those that haven’t heard them before, which is practically almost everyone, and the rest of the album is equally highly enjoyable.

The Swell Season – Strict Joy

If you ever watched the movie Once, this is the two main characters in the movie making a band, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. Well there’s two or three other band members, but the most highlighted are those two because of that 2007 movie, so who cares. Anyways the band releases Strict Joy in 2009, an “alternative” album I am quite fond of, apart from Taken By Trees’ East of Eden. The Swell Season applies full-bodied folk in their music, using various instruments apart from their acoustic guitars as the main weapon. This is a folksy record that didn’t send me sleeping at one-third of the album, which means you probably will enjoy it more, a music that will calm your nerves down in hectic days.

Nightmare of You – Infomaniac

Remember those lazy summer days where everywhere is scorching hot but you’d still love to take a walk around the neighborhood? This album from those New Yorkers can certainly help lift your mood up on through the sunniest days. Playing uplifting, laid-back indie rock a la The Kooks without the annoying British accent (and also less distortion), Nightmare of You will suddenly make you sing along to their lines in songs like “Eustacia Vye” or “I Think I’m Getting Older”. The only bad news is… the band is currently going on an “indefinite hiatus”, since the vocalist Brendan Reilly is departing to Italy. We all know what an indefinite hiatus means.

HEALTH – Get Color

The Los Angeles quartet created a weirdly enjoyable noise rock music packed in a jam of electronica and post-punk with the release of Get Color. Tracks after tracks seem to be unstructured, but listen them for times and soon you’ll get those impressive bombing drum beats tangled with seemingly random electro noises rhyming into place. And also, HEALTH is a pretty darn cool name.

Ólafur Arnalds – Found Songs

So, this guy hails from the holy land of Iceland where everyone seems to got some brilliant talent in music and he composes what people call neo-classical. To me it’s post-rock only with piano instead of guitars, and in creating this kind of music, Ólafur Arnalds really got the class. The dominance of piano and violin in the tracks makes it good for movie soundtrack, and I think once Arnalds slips his track into some movie he’d gone famous pretty soon. One good thing is he offer a low-quality version of the album here, and this is the best 128kbps I’ve ever heard.

The Postmarks – Memoirs at the End of the World

Start the album and you’ll be blown by the intro of the first track, “No One Said This Would Be Easy”, that sounds like straight off the opening credits of a campy spy film. The rest of the album is equally blowing — an indie pop sound with a touch of Middle East/Spanish tunes topped with Tim Yehezkely’s cute singing. On the whole this is an inverse of a minimalistic pop record, with ranging instruments and a slight gloom atmosphere.

Letting Up Despite Great Faults – Letting Up Despite Great Faults

Hell, this is practically my number one album of the year of all music of 2009 I’ve plugged my ears to. This Los Angeles outfit delivers us their self-titled LP début, playing a sweet shoegaze-influenced electropop with lovely layers of guitars and synth, complete with haunting lyrics. Their music can be described as if someone took all the equipments of Owl City’s Adam Young and created a lush electronic music shadowed by humming vocals. The cute synth noises drag your mind back to where your days were so burden-free you can just snug back in your bed on cloudy days… This is not original nor amazing in any way, but they crafted the songs well for me to listen to on nightly rides.

Unfortunately they haven’t made any music videos, all I got is a live performance video.

And the track “In Steps” and “The Colors Aren’t You or Me”

July 21, 2009

Six months of 2009; six favorite albums

by Kevin Aditya

What’s better to post in a mid-July than a list of your favorite albums during the first semester of the year? Apart from whatever might happen to you in these past months, there must be an album or two that always lighten up your mood or helped you through some hard times. And for me, after 60+ albums I’ve listened to since January (it’s true, should be more but I’m tired after counting them up to 60) there are some of this year’s albums that have truly caught my ears. Yes, I’m restricting this to 2009 releases up ’till June only and I’m gonna list only 6 albums. Such disappointment though, because most of my current favorite albums came out at this very July! But oh well, let’s save Mew’s No More Stories… and Owl City’s Ocean Eyes and Jónsi & Alex’s Riceboy Sleeps for the next semester list. Why 6 albums, if you ask me? Because I friggin love that number 6 since who knows when. I round up amounts to 6, not 5. Well, enough with the blabbering and let’s start!

6. The Appleseed Cast – Sagarmatha

The band that originally rocked with their emo-driven style a la Sunny Day Real Estate has now gone to a more post-rock oriented music with lengthy instrumental tracks and non-intrusive approach of the vocals to the songs. Their masterpiece came with their 2001 album Low Level Owl, Vol. 1 but in this newest release they has proven that a band can continue making masterpieces by shifting up the genre. In songs like The Summer Before the reff simply consists of the word “Arizona”, yet the voice blends well with the guitar riffs to make a mesmerizing tune. The closing track Army of the Fireflies and some others have the Explosions in the Sky-ish feel to them, a signature tone of the post-rock genre with roaring guitars covering other instruments. Sagarmatha is what the locals at Nepal call the Mt. Everest, so no wonder if at times the album has the cold and lonesome atmosphere about it.

5. mewithoutYou – It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All a Dream! It’s Alright

mewithoutYou is previously known with their raw, hard post-hardcore influenced rock music and the religious, shouting lyrics sung with full emotion by their frontman Aaron Weiss. They’re a very spiritual band, you know. Look, the Y in the band name is in caps. But it’s “previously” with a good reason, as in this album they explore the uhmmm… folk-rock genre, arming themselves with acoustic guitars and bells and violins and accordions. Aaron Weiss’ vocal is still roaring in contrast to the acoustic haze on some songs though, and this way their spiritual lyrics could reach out more to the heart of the listener. You’re out playing folk and singing about God, see, it matched. However, the band is now criticized for being too preachy — the last track is even titled Allah, Allah, Allah. But if you’re not into the lyrics, you’ll find this album calms you down in some journeys to the neighboring city, perhaps. Cheers for bands that explore new genres!

4. Gossip – Music for Men

The front cover uses drummer Hannah Blilie instead of the vocalist/frontman Beth Ditto probably because she already contains much controversy in herself. She’s (like very, totally) obese, a lesbian, and very outspoken about those two subjects. I wondered how many “yo mama” jokes she has endured so far. Gossip is Beth Ditto, no doubt about it. But it doesn’t mean their popularity only rise from the eccentric frontman, because their major label debut Music for Men proves that they deserve the praise. The single Heavy Cross which has received many airplays features the queer guitar intro indie-style accompanied with Ditto’s powerful voice. Her singing the words “I checked yoo-o-ou” in the reff will shun you still with the power and that’s just one song. This indie-rock/dance-punk outfit still has a crapload of sweetly good songs you should listen to like Pop Goes the World that will bring you to your feet and dance. Or at least tap your fingers, okay. And don’t miss the intricate guitar in tracks like Men in Love that shows that even without bassist a band can still sound good. They’re a trio and Beth Ditto purely does singing only, well I wonder if there’s any guitar strap long enough to wrap around her body… just kiddin’.

3. Adhitia Sofyan – Quiet Down

This guy has made a really nice album and released it for free to the world — the best move a musician could make. He’s Indonesian, as you can see from the name, and you’ve probably heard and loved his single Adelaide Sky. This whole album revolves around the same mood, the soothing, let’s-just-sleep-through-this-sunny-day mood we all love to plug our ears into. His voice is truly calming, and accompanied with pretty, minimalistic acoustic guitar setting, this album will grow in you. And the lyrics are beautifully simplistic as well with lines like “I don’t mind if time goes too soon,
we’ll stay up all night and make it slower”. Oh, and this album also brings back the good memories of some past months… you should listen nevertheless! See his blog here to download it, it’s legal.

2. Paolo Nutini – Sunny Side Up

This is so far, the loveliest album I’ve ever heard this year. This sophomore effort by the Scotsman Paolo Nutini, lifts the joy of loving up high with his smooth bass voice singing through the acoustic guitars that have a hint of folk in the tracks. Okay, actually I added it to the list because the video of the single, Candy, is too beautiful to be missed. It’s the celebration of love, the merry festive brought by a wedding… that or I’m just missing a love. The whole album is great anyway, songs like Coming Up Easy reminded me of good ol’ country-folk tunes when others like Chamber Music embraces the power of his voice, which truly stands out against today’s male singers: John Mayer, James Morrison, Jason Mraz, and the other Js out there. Hearing his songs is like slouching lazily in the porch with the grass fields outside, on a sunny afternoon. Perrrfekt.

1. The Hint – I Am The Hint EP

Alright, I know an EP is not worth the top spot of a list, but hey, it’s my list of favorite albums, not the best. The quartet hasn’t made a full album yet, but listening to this EP makes me wonder how big will their future studio album be. There’s not much I could find about this band other than the fact that they produce richly sounding powerpop music with the synth dominantly playing along the songs, new-wave style. It’s like if The Killers dumped Brandon Flowers and replaced him with AAR’s Tyson Ritter look-alike only with more bass voice. The vocalist’s voice merged perfectly with the background music in Always With You while on other tracks they goes into more traditional powerpop style, like heard in Something to Hold On to, but the real power of their music lies in Pride and Into the Fire. Here the new wave influence caught the listeners like no other bands, while it’s still soothing the ears at the same time. The album sounds perfect to be listened in a middle of the busy city night, you know, when everyone moves so fast around you but you can still find the peace beneath just by closing your eyes, and feeling the flow of the city that runs in between. The future studio album will be highly anticipated. Thanks for reading this, wait until the end of the year to catch the second half-year list!

And if you’re interested to listen, just tell me which one that you like. Internet is free. 😛

p.s. still insisting I’m doing you wrong huh. and it’s not even me commenting.

May 31, 2009

Treasure of the week: Lovedrug

by Kevin Aditya

Actually the Lovedrug album I listened last week, The Sucker Punch Show, was on par with Sweat It Out but I was on the mood for pop punk and after a few more listen, the Lovedrug album really enchants me more. Their debut and second album, Pretend You’re Alive and Everything Starts Where It Ends, respectively, also has surprisingly caught my ears like no other. This mix of various genres could best be described as “indie rock” (well okay it’s more like emo) but the real power of the band lies in Michael Shepard’s shrieking, wailing tenor vocal. The way he wails in some song like “Spiders” reminded me of that guy from Radiohead, eugh. Like how good bands get all their loyal fans, firstly you’ll get hooked by their catchy riffs on some songs, then once you dig deeper, what you got is a whole booklet of poetic lyrics full of metaphors. “Watch angels in the morning become a devil’s afternoon, I will panic in the evening underneath the crashing moon.” Really, who wouldn’t buy that? The three albums are progressing musically, as the 2004 Pretend You’re Alive is more mellow and piano-oriented, 2007’s Everything Starts Where It Ends is still piano-driven on some songs but rocks more on the better songs, and with the 2008 album The Sucker Punch Show they put in more indie rock with a slight taste of grunge. It’s worth a try. If you’re interested try a Google Blog Search like this.

genre: emo pop, indie rock, whatever

sounds like: hmm… Abandoned Pools, or maybe As Tall As Lions.

loved tracks: Pretend You’re Alive, Blackout, Castling, Let It All Out

From The Sucker Punch Show: “Everyone Needs a Halo”

Give these guys a few listens. Hopefully it’s a pleasant treat for your ears.

8.8/10

May 23, 2009

Treasure of the week: The Pink Spiders – Sweat It Out

by Kevin Aditya

Throughout this week I’ve been plugging my ears into lots of artists, because what’s a holiday without good tunes for your playing-out days? I downloaded albums randomly, some are good, some are just plain indifferent. But one album that really struck my senses is The Pink Spiders’ Sweat It Out, and I mean they’re really really sugary good! Although I’ve never heard of them earlier (such regret) but this 2008 album is the best one I ever listened since… well,  I regret not hearing Brand New’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me earlier too. The internet says Sweat It Out is not the band’s biggest album, but oh what a sweet blend of pop punk-garage-rock n’ roll this band has caught me! One thing I noticed first is that this band has dominant bass lines throughout the album, and that’s a good thing. Good bands (or at least the ones I like) should have the bassist making up a good foundation for their songs. “Busy Signals” makes a good opening track with garage feel, while “Seventeen Candles” reminds me of Panic at the Disco with catchy pop-punk riffs and piano playing — which is very good. I’d be too lazy to describe one-by-one, but I highly recommend this album. Fits up my holiday mood perfectly. If you’re interested do a Google Blog Search.

genre: glam punk/powerpop

sounds like: older Panic at the Disco, Wakefield, Hot Hot Heat

loved tracks: Seventeen Candles, Truth or Dare

8.9/10

edit: I’ve finally listened to Teenage Graffiti and it’s basically less pop/more punk, still great stuff!

and also if you’d like to know out of how many albums I picked this one as my favorite, these are the albums I’ve listened for the week:

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