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(Valentine’s Day Special!) Live Gig Video: Divine Fits cover Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Hungry Heart’ for triplej

 
By on Thursday, 14th February 2013 at 4:00 pm
 

As part of their ongoing Like a Version series, influential Australian radio station triplej just had supergroup Divine Fits come into the studio last week and do this live, pretty much acoustic (the drummer is playing a book, literally!) cover version of the Boss‘s ‘Hungry Heart’ on Tom and Alex’s breakfast show, with Spoon’s Britt Daniel taking over vocal duties. Watch the very cool performance from down under below.

Tom and Alex emceed the the triplej unearthed ARIA Week showcase at Oxford Art Factory back in November when I was in Sydney. (Read all about that here.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XrLRQZI2AI[/youtube]

 

Top Gigs of 2012: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Friday, 21st December 2012 at 11:00 am
 

Another year, and another top 5 gigs by bands that should not be missed live. How odd that three of them came one after another, but that’s the cool thing about Washington DC. Except for December through the beginning of February (the dead of winter) and June through August (festival season), there is always a reasonably good selection of bands coming through here. But that hasn’t always been the case.

I am often asked on my travels why I became a music blogger, and the simple answer has always been this: when I started covering shows in March 2009, I was getting increasingly upset about how many bands (American or international) would skip Washington entirely, either in favour of going to Philadelphia instead or would only consider New York, or maybe Boston, as the only cities worthy on the East Coast for a tour stop. I have had the opportunity to meet so many bands in the last 3+ years that Washington DC has now become considered on the list of cities bands sincerely wish to play in – or on the list that bands say they will definitely pass through on their next headline tours of North America. To know that I have been involved in making this paradigm shift a reality means so much. It means that I have done something for the city I’ve called home all these years and more importantly, have exposed thousands of music fans from varying walks of life who either work, go to school, or pass through our fine city to incredible music.

All five bands whose gigs landed them in my top 5 gigs of 2012 are worth every red cent you can put forward to go see them, either in their own gig or at a festival in 2013. Here’s the list…

5. Ash‘s 20th anniversary tour at DC9 (Thursday 15th November 2012) – what a surreal experience, finally seeing Ash live, in one of the smallest places to see bands in Washington. Even more surreal was after, when I actually got to talk to all of them and Tim Wheeler said I was a more appropriate panelist for Steve Lamacq’s Roundtable than he was. (This made me smile.) The set itself was brilliantly hard rocky, much more so than I ever would have imagined.

4. TGTF’s stage at Liverpool Sound City 2012, starring the Temper Trap, Clock Opera and Dear Prudence Liverpool Academy of Arts (Friday 18th May 2012) – maybe this is cheating, choosing our own stage at Liverpool. But this night couldn’t have been any better, starring our friends since I took over as Editor of this Web site, the Temper Trap, our new friends from SXSW, Clock Opera, and a band from Brighton destined to bigger things, Dear Prudence. All we can say is THANK YOU to all the bands for making it such a memorable night and THANK YOU Sound City for letting us host this amazing stage.

3. Husky at Red Palace (Friday 17th November 2012) – it’s a sad day in Washington, as Red Palace, similar in intimate size to DC9, will be closing its doors at the end of 2012. But before then, I managed to catch the Melbourne band we befriended at this year’s Great Escape. Just check out this video from the show of the band performing an a capella version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Lover Lover Lover’ and you’ll understand why they’re so good live.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqF6k9afzeM[/youtube]

2. the Joy Formidable at St. Stephen’s Church (Saturday 10th November 2012) – the Welsh band have consistently placed in my top 5 gigs of the last 2 years; last year they were at #4 and in 2010, they were at #2. What made the difference and put them higher up this year? Seriously, how often do you see such a power house band in a space as small as a church’s rec room? (Well, it was a little bigger than that…but still.) Absolutely fabulous. And their new album ‘Wolf’s Law’ will be huge next year; just check out this live version of first single ‘Cholla’.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjwp3jV2PvM[/youtube]

1. Two Door Cinema Club at 9:30 Club (Tuesday 2nd October 2012) – I was having serious reservations about Two Door’s live show, or rather some of their less than nice fans, after seeing them in Baltimore in June and getting shoved – hard – out of our positions down the front. I almost swore I’d never see them again. But I’m glad I changed my mind.

What was the first date on the autumn 2012 North American tour to sell out? Washington DC, of course. There is still some confusion on whether or not Barack Obama is a fan, but one thing is clear: of all the bands that I’ve known and loved, I did right by Two Door Cinema Club – and helped them become the superstars that they’ve dreamt of being since they started as kids in grammar school. I used to be able to see them after shows and hang out with them, but even as those days are over, they’ve never forgotten me. They are true gents.

Honourable mentions:

St. Etienne at U Street Music Hall (Thursday 25th October 2012) – there’s something to be said for Sarah Cracknall, who may be over 40 but still rocks it out every night as if she was in her 20s.

Divine Fits at 9:30 Club (Thursday 18th October 2012) – it always feels incredibly validating when you see a ‘new’ band who hasn’t been touring much…and they turn out to be absolutely fantastic.

Keane with Mystery Jets at Strathmore Hall (Thursday 14th June 2012) – it’s effin’ Keane, for god’s sakes. And with Mystery Jets, who never tour in America! Win-win, really.

Paula and Karol at 93 Feet East in London (Tuesday 15th May 2012) – what do you do between music festivals? Go to a gig, of course. And at this one, I felt welcomed by the entire Polish population of London. What atmosphere.

First Aid Kit at Black Cat (Friday 30th March 2012) – this show was so spirited, the elder Soderberg lost her top right before the encore. Hardcore.

After the cut: the full list of all the gigs, in reverse chronological order, that I’ve been to in 2012 so you can have some idea how difficult my job was to choose favourites for the top 5 list. The runner-up gigs are also marked.
Continue reading Top Gigs of 2012: Editor’s Picks

 

Top Albums of 2012: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Tuesday, 18th December 2012 at 11:00 am
 

Wowsers, has this year flown by or what? I can scarcely believe we’re ready to celebrate Christmas in a week’s time, but you know what that means, boys and girls. It’s time for the editor’s top picks of 2012. Unlike most lists that have already published either in print or online, there will be no mentions of Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar or DIIV. Sorry. No, and this year, I tried to get away from dance as I could, which seems really odd considering where I found myself 2 years ago; this is probably good commentary on the music scene at large, where beats – either urban or poppy – have invaded nearly every facet of radio and except for the odd album or two, I found these to be completely devoid of heart. Or character. (But there were 3 in my top 10 that were arguably dance albums, so maybe there’s still hope…) Without further delay, here are my picks for 2012.

The-Crookes-Hold-Fast-cover1. The Crookes – ‘Hold Fast’ (Fierce Panda) – In the shadow of love – in its electric (2010’s #1, Delphic’s ‘Acolyte’) and nostalgic, life affirming (2011’s #1, Noah and the Whale’s ‘Last Night on Earth’) forms – my #1 this year goes as far back to basics with the good ol’ pop-tinged rock ‘n’ roll of Sheffield’s Crookes. I’ve always thought that the smartest songwriters are those that can write catchy tunes while also offering up thought-provoking, intelligent lyric; guitarist Daniel Hopewell fits this description to a T.

This album would feel equally at home in the 1960s as it does in 2012. There is no studio trickery or fancy production here, just heartfelt (and heartbroken in ‘Maybe in the Dark’) feelings being sung to memorable melodies that can help to remind you of simpler times. Or simply remind you of the important people who have coloured your life. Do yourself a favour and get this album. If you’re not sold yet, read my review of ‘Hold Fast’ here.

Keston-Cobblers-Club-cover2. Keston Cobblers’ Club – ‘One, for Words’ (Beatnik Geek) – It has been shown to us time and time again that family members who sing together make some incredible music. (For one, the Beach Boys.) In Julia and Matthew Lowe, we have familial alchemy at work again, this time on some incredible folk pop. When one album can make you laugh, make you cry, make you wistful for a former lover, make you remember through happy tears your life experiences, that is truly special indeed, and that’s what I’ve gotten out of ‘One, for Words’. I expect to be playing this album again and again until my final days. You can read my review of their debut album here.

Grimes-Visions-cover3. Grimes – ‘Visions’ (4AD) – Claire Boucher is now one of the hottest commodities in the music business these days, and surely the biggest game changer from Canada since Arcade Fire. Every time I tried to catch the baby-voiced master of synths and sequencers in 2012, I never actually managed to get in. Thankfully though, I have this album to keep me company whenever things have gone boring in my life. Variety is the key word of this album, with ambient, industrial, pop and minimalist genres all touched on for one eclectic group of songs. Every time you pick up this album, you’ll hear something exciting you missed the last time around, and I don’t think it’s possible for ‘Visions’ to get old. Read my review here.

Casiokids-Aabenbaringen-over-aaskammen-cover4. Casiokids – ‘Aabenbaringen over aaskammen’ (Moshi Moshi) – There’s no way I could have forgotten the craziness of Casiokids’ third album. Even in the middle of winter, thoughts of a pineapple-shaped maraca, the sheer wonkiness of ‘Det Haster!’ and ‘Dresinen’, and disco and jungle beats working in harmony on the same album easily warmed my heart. This is controlled chaos, in a way that only Nordics manage to do it. And even if you go into this album thinking, “no way is this album going to lift my mood”, trust me, it will. You’ll even leave it with a knowing yet silly grin on your face.Read more here.

Husky cover5. Husky – ‘Forever So’ (Sub Pop) – The Husky debut album was an example of when you keep hearing the name of a band so many times, you’re wondering what the fuss is all about. Well, wonder no more. If you’re the first-ever signing to a indie label as storied as Sub Pop, then you better bring the goods, and Husky Gawenda and co. do just that in a Fleet Foxes meets the sadness of Nick Drake vehicle. If you’ve ever been slayed by gorgeous harmonies, this album’s for you. Read my review of it here.

After the cut: some albums that just missed the top 5 cut, and others that disappointed.

Continue reading Top Albums of 2012: Editor’s Picks

 

Live Gig Video: Divine Fits perform ‘Baby Got Worse’ for David Letterman

 
By on Wednesday, 21st November 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

Divine Fits popped over to the Ed Sullivan Theatre in New York last week to perform album track ‘Baby Got Worse’, from their debut album ‘A Thing Called Divine Fits’, for David Letterman’s late night talk show. Watch the performance below.

Read my review of their live show in Washington DC in October here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbJVYXtfTOc[/youtube]

 

MP3 of the Day #697: Divine Fits

 
By on Thursday, 25th October 2012 at 10:00 am
 

Not sure how I feel about RJD2 remixing the fabulous ‘Would That Not Be Nice’ of Divine Fits‘ debut album ‘A Thing Called Divine Fits’. The vocals feel a bit weird, but I guess this is more palatable to the club kids?

I just caught them live at the 9:30 here in Washington DC; read the review over here.

 

Live Review: Divine Fits with Cane and the Sticks at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 18th October 2012

 
By on Monday, 22nd October 2012 at 3:05 pm
 

I detest the word ‘supergroup’: there are too many different connotations, and not all of them can be true for any one particular band that includes band members of other popular bands. However, the word is bound follow Divine Fits around because it has an incredibly fab musical pedigree: Dan Boeckner (ex-Wolf Parade / Handsome Furs) Britt Daniel (Spoon) got together when their primary bands were on hiatus and grabbed Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks) to form an entirely new band.

I guess when you’re dipping your toe on the American touring circuit with your brand new band, even if you’ve got touring experience and fans from your previous outings under your belt, there’s still a level of trepidation, like, “will people bother to turn up for our show?” Early on in their 9:30 Club Thursday night, Boeckner looked absolutely gobsmacked by the turnout, commenting with a smile, “it’s only the third show of the tour.” Daniel echoed this sentiment later, sounding genuinely touched as he cracked a million watt smile: “we weren’t expecting so many people!” Divine Fits isn’t exactly like any of their members’ other bands, except maybe Boeckner’s Handsome Furs, as there’s a new wave-y element with synths, but overall, I find Divine Fits an incredibly intriguing coming together of three musicians, each at the top of his game, knocking out numbers from their debut album ‘A Thing Called Divine Fits’ with confidence and swagger. I’ll come back to that last word in a moment.

The support, Cane and the Sticks, turned out to be a local band. (That’s what I get for asking for tickets last minute and then not having time to do any research ahead of time.) I thought about the name of the band and wondered if it was a play on candy canes, something yuletide, etc. Cane is Peter Haynes, playing with Liz DeRoche, quite possibly the skinniest armed yet most wild female drummer I’ve ever seen and who also contributes occasionally on vocals, and Arthur Noll on bass.

There is a down and dirty, garage-y feel to their sound, with Haynes sneering in the rock ‘n’ roll style favoured by Roger Daltrey, or maybe a less vitriolic Johnny Rotten. Being the only support act, they were allowed a long set, which ran from ‘gentler’ numbers like ‘Baby’s Brain’ to more powerful rockers like ‘Jump Off the Boat’. It’s not apparent from their Bandcamp, so I guess they improvised live with long, strenuous, jammy outros that an gear head would have loved. I’d have to pay closer attention to the lyrics but all in all, a pretty good warm up act.

Before Divine Fits came on stage, an eerie, minor key classical piece was playing. It made me think of Dvorak or the work of some other suitably dramatic composer. They then started right into the last track of ‘A Thing Called Divine Fits’, called ‘Neopolitans’. It’s an ambient, relatively chill, if somewhat unexciting way to start the night off. (The backdrop was also less than awe-inspiring; when I came into the club, I saw this white screen covering the back wall, so I assumed when Divine Fits took to the stage, the screen would drop to reveal something exciting. No such luck. Synchronised coloured lights reflected off the screen, which was only used to capture the band’s shadows from the stage.) Dan Boeckner’s first words to the audience was something about how today (18 October) was People’s Day and we should be “celebrating personhood'”. Given all the recent debating and discussion regarding the rights of women (and fetuses, for that matter) related to the presidential election, I had to laugh a little. I looked this up on Google and didn’t find a ‘Person’s Day’ so if anyone can clue me in, I’d like to know. Otherwise, I think it was just a topically funny (for DC) comment.

From there though, the set slowly burned towards what I considered the highlights of the set. First, ‘Would That Be Nice’, which will probably be the band’s calling card as they continue through the years, came in with all the swagger and attitude of Mick Jagger minus the big mouth; it was the song that made me sit up and notice them, with a sexy as all hell bass line and earworm melody on a buzzy synth. This is the kind of song you can see men hearing in their heads when they’re going after a hot woman in the club; at the same time, it’s the song us women hope that attractive man in the corner giving us the eye is thinking of. ‘…Nice’ was followed by ‘Like Ice Cream’, which continues the . This is the way to woo a woman, fellas: a woman doesn’t want to hear what you plan to do with her (I’m looking at you Miguel and the Wanted). She wants to know she’s being appreciated for the pretty, lovely being she is; give her control, and she’ll be waiting for you. Like ice cream. (I think. I’m sorry, but this song has really gotten to me…it’s simple, yet what a song.)

Boeckner delivered the vocals for their first single ‘My Love is Real’ with desperation, down on his knees, writhing on the floor. ‘Flaggin’ a Ride’ earlier in the set is another swagger- and testosterone-filled tune, and it goes down incredibly well live. How could I tell? Mens’ heads were bopping in the crowd, and that rarely happens in DC, probably because men are too embarrassed to be seen moving any part of their body to the music. But hey, we’re talking about some titans of rock music playing here, so any of those reservations went out the window.

I wondered how they were going to fill even an hour, with only one debut album to their name. Four covers graced their set: a highly talked about live cover of Frank Ocean’s ‘Lost’, the recently in the news Rolling Stones’ ‘Sway’, Tom Petty’s ‘You Got Lucky’ and a version of the Birthday Party’s ‘Shivers’ that serves as one of the most emotional moments on their debut featured in the encore. So much attitude oozed out of their debut album, and it translated to so much more than I could have expected live. All I have left to say is, “Divine Fits, hurry up and put out another album!” And Britt Daniel, if you are reading this like you said you would: THANKS for a great night. We will be back to see you anytime you’re in Washington.

After the cut: Divine Fits’ set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Divine Fits with Cane and the Sticks at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 18th October 2012

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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