by DJ Ones on Dec.31, 2011, under Daytime
It’s that time of the year again, and as we say farewell to 2011 and greet 2012 many of us here at WKNC reflected on what the best albums of the year were. Much like the previous two years I sent out a request to the Daytime staff to see what their favorite albums of 2011 were, and below are their top five individual favorites.
1. Sarah Jarosz- Follow Me Down
2. Chris Thile & Michael Daves- Sleep With One Eye Open
3. Bombadil- All the Rain Promises
4. The Decemberists- The King Is Dead
5. Mandolin Orange- Haste Make, Hard Hearted Stranger
1. Wye Oak- Civilian
2. The Dodos- No Color
3. St. Vincent- Strange Mercy
4. Fleet Foxes- Helplessness Blues
5. James Blake- James Blake
What are your favorite albums of the year? Comment below.
by DJ Ones on Nov.14, 2011, under Daytime
I think I picked the right place to study abroad.
Constellations Festival is relatively young, but that doesn’t keep the event from bringing in some of Indie’s finest acts. 2010′s festival included the likes of Broken Social Scene, Sleigh Bells, Local Natives, The Vaccines, and many other fantastic acts. With hopes high for this year, the festival returned to the University of Leeds Student Union on Nov. 12, and it brought acts including Yuck, Braids, The Big Pink, The Antlers, and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks.
One building, five different proper music venues, and nine hours of cramming in as much music as possible is a daunting task to say the least, and thankfully the folks planning this event allowed for seeing the majority of the largest names with ease. They could have easily planned the event in a way that makes more sense musically. This would include The Antlers opening for Wild Beasts, Yuck opening for Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, and Summer Camp opening for The Big Pink. Thankfully the large acts played back to back in the same venue with the periods in between sets long enough to pop over to another venue and catch the majority of another band’s show.
The culmination of these elements made for one hell of an afternoon and night filled with music, and below are some of the highlights.
This was by far the biggest surprise of the night. I was amused by the sound of Summer Camp after my initial listen of their debut album Welcome to Condale, but I felt as if there was still much to be desired. Although I had my reservations about the group, they put on one of the most delightful performances of the festival. Their love of 80s nostalgia, although they are probably too young to remember the 80s, brought about a charm to the performance. Famous dance scenes from 80s films projected to a screen on stage alongside the upbeat pop duets with some real swing left me wanting to reevaluate my initial stance on their debut.
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
One of the most anticipated acts of the festival did exactly what they needed to do. Consistent throughout, Malkmus and company brought their a-game during their hour-long set. Playing mostly new tracks off of Mirror Traffic, they also revisited some of the earlier solo work from Malkmus. The act left me feeling satisfied and lived up to many of expectations I had.
If you are a fan of Yuck’s self-titled debut, you need to see this band live. There are certain things that recorded songs cannot convey, and the sense of raw, distorted power is definitely one of them. The band had some initial technical hiccups after the mics cut out on them toward the end of their last song, and walked off as the stage crew came back on to get everything working properly. The band took it in stride. After walking back on stage frontman Daniel Blumber jokingly announced, “This is our longest encore ever.” The band mixed up their tracks much like in their album, going from one faster paced harder sound to one a bit more reserved. It was the track “Rubber” that stole the show. The 7-minute song provided a visceral listening experience that shook the ears and body to its distorted 90s rock core, something much better understood when experienced instead of described.
This band is easily one of the best in filling the room with their atmospheric sound, regardless of size. That’s exactly what they did on this night. Playing the best from their debut and their second album, The Antlers demonstrated how they are able to beautifully construct songs that in some moments lack vocals yet sound structured, and when the vocals kick in it provides a fine compliment to their rest of their truly gorgeous sound.
It was a bit of a homecoming for the band currently based in Leeds, and their set brought out the largest crowd of the entire night. The large room was packed to the ceiling as the band covered tracks from their entire discography, and the songs both slow and upbeat highlighted the best of the band. Like Yuck, Wild Beasts live proved just how incredibly powerful their vocals are. It felt like a somewhat surreal experience to hear these regular guys produce such operatic and captivating voices. All in all, they gave one of the best performance of the night ending what was already a fantastic day.
Just John and I had the pleasure of attending the sixth annual Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago’s Union Park on the weekend of July 14-16. It was hot. Really hot. The crowds came, though, and were treated to great performance after great performance. Every show I saw over the weekend was top-notch. The festival’s treatment of its fans was also top-notch. Thousands of bottles of water were passed out to the crowds to keep them hydrated (no thanks to the goons who just threw water everywhere instead of drinking it). Security were friendly throughout the entire weekend. Two air-conditioned city buses were brought in to help cool down festival-goers. What follows is a list of superlatives of some of the best, worst, and weirdest moments of the festival. Enjoy.
Best light show: The giant glowing crystals at Animal Collective
Most “f**k”s per minute: Odd Future
Highest number of gray-hairs in the crowd: Guided By Voices
Coolest stage wear: Nika Danilova of Zola Jesus’ very modern dress
Best mosh pit: No Age (which I stayed in for about five minutes too long, causing a short bout of heat sickness)
Best dance moves: Cold Cave’s Dominick Fernow, whose stomp-n-spin move was endlessly entertaining
Biggest dance party: Cut Copy, who got an entire field of thousands of people to dance
Most frequent weed clouds: Curren$y, unsurprisingly
Worst scheduling decision: Two-way tie between scheduling Odd Future and Shabazz Palaces, two of the festival’s five hip-hop acts, on at the same time and putting DJ Shadow on when the sun was still out, making his projector-using “Shadowsphere” completely useless (though, to the festival’s credit, they really couldn’t have put him anywhere else)
Best facial hair: Ian Williams of Battles, whose handlebar-stache perfectly matched his swanky get-up
People who should have passed out from heat stroke but, miraculously, didn’t: Yuck’s Daniel Blumberg, who wore jeans and a long-sleeve, denim button-down and Cold Cave’s Wesley Eisold and Dominick Fernow, both in black jeans, black shirts, and black leather jackets.
The world of distorted rock is one that many bands dare to succeed at doing well, but ultimately fail at when it comes to executing at an album level.
It is a highly fickle sound that some attempt to manage, but fail to pick up an audience that becomes significant at a larger level. Even with all the disadvantages of taking a path that does not frequently lead to success, Yuck has embarked on this task.
As their debut album proves, they have all the potential of being a band that proves to be at the front of rock fans. Receiving accolades from the likes of the BBC Sound of 2011, Yuck had a lot to live up to, and their debut holds up astoundingly.
Yuck wastes no time when giving the audience a direct message about what they have come to accomplish. The first track, “Get Away,” kicks into gear with little hesitation. The punch from the guitars has a raw and rhythmic tone with a subtle screech that makes the track accessible and instantly likeable.
Starting off on a good foot, Yuck follows one of the best tracks on the album with another that tops the list. Changing up the overall feel of their lo-fi sound, Yuck shows a lot of heart and determination. Their guitar riffs are soaring and contribute to the momentum of the tracks rather than serving primarily as a placeholder.
The brilliant thing about the young group’s album is not that they deliver one hard-nosed track after another, but that they have a precise understanding of pacing and are willing to venture outside of their comfort zone.
Instead of over-saturating the listener with several songs in succession with the same tone and grittiness, Yuck strategically places tracks that are much slower, easier on the listener and expose an additional depth to the band not previously seen.
Pacing and changing up the tone of songs come to a pinnacle when placed perfectly into the middle of the album with the track “Georgia.” Nostalgic, poppy and high-energy, “Georgia” becomes a standout that demonstrates the raw talent of such a young group. Adding their female member’s vocal talent to the track demonstrate how they are able to diversify their overall sound.
For the lovers of 90s rock of a similar likeness, it is hard not to pin down the influences of 90s lo-fi acts within many of the songs. “Operation” quickly becomes one of those tracks that highlight the magnificence of artists before them, while demonstrating the band’s enormous amount of heart.
Yuck provides for a sound that is easy to compare to other lo-fi artists, yet unique overall. It’s simple, direct, distorted rock at its finest.
Ending off a fantastic album the right way, Yuck delivers the spectacular seven-minute journey “Rubber.” Full of anxiety and the scruff that overwhelmingly defines their sound, “Rubber” becomes an excellent finale to what is a magnificent debut. If anything, Yuck is supremely appetizing to anybody that wants to listen to rock as loudly as possible.