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The Illin' Music Thread

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Author Archives: A Cohen

For many of us, the words ‘Final Fantasy’ probably evoke (hopefully distant) memories of hours on end spent glued to a Playstation, plugging away at a never-ending series of role-playing games.

Owen Pallett, a Canadian violinist/composer/singer is trying to have something to do with changing that.  Final Fantasy is Owen’s recent solo project and an outfit under which he has released two full albums and plans on dropping a third, Heartland, on January 12th, 2010.  His music is an interesting blend of classical compositions flavored with soaring, poppy melodies and harmonies as well as a touch of an indie “I don’t give a fuck” kind of attitude.

I have to say that I don’t tend to subscribe to each and every indie music  trend that comes along.  To be honest, a lot of recent ‘indie’ bands sound too similar to me for them to leave a lasting impression.  Final Fantasy, in my opinion, brings something different to the table.  I might not be able to tell you exactly why I can’t stop listening to this guy, so I can only hope  that you will feel the same.

This is the Dream of Win & Regime

He Poos Clouds

Lewis Takes Action

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Hello lovely readers (hi mom!!!!  [god I hope not.]),

So this past Wednesday evening I was blessed with the opportunity to see one of the most hyped up-and-coming indie/alternative bands of the year, Phoenix.  You might know a song of theirs from that Cadillac commercial or maybe from the New York, I Love You trailer.  You might even be the proud owners of their whole discography, in which case I probably don’t have to tell you that this band is seriously awesome.

Hailing from France (Versailles to be precise–the same area that has brought us Daft Punk, Air, and the guillotine), these guys sure know how to rock.  Not only are their compositions unique and interesting (especially those on their newest effort, my pick for the album of summer ’09, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix), there is also no question that these guys know how to put on one hell of a show.

The concert took place at the Aragon Ballroom in uptown Chicago, an extravagant Spanish-themed rock club that at the time seemed packed way beyond its 4500 person capacity.  I got the feeling that this was one of the bigger shows this band has ever played from their incessant “thank yous” and the statement that, “it’s never like this back in Paris.”  Anyway, it’s great to see so many people interested in what was once a small alternative rock band from France existing in the shadows of the country’s more popular musical exports such as Air, Justice and Daft Punk.  In fact, Laurent Brancowitz, one of Phoenix’s guitarists used to play in an indie band called Darlin’ back in the day with Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, who later became the world-renowned electronic duo Daft Punk.

Back to the point, Phoenix’s set was not only long (an hour and a half!–almost unheard of for young rock bands these days), but also varied and well balanced.  They played just about every song off of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix in addition to a slew of older hits and slightly less well-known gems.  Although the new album is considerably more popular (and in my opinion better) than the older releases, some old singles such as “Run Run Run” from 2004’s Alphabetical got the crowd going.  That said, no song got people moving more than the hit single, “1901.”  The dynamic in the room during this final encore song created an almost religious experience.  It was one of those moments where you felt like the crowd was moving as one and that nothing in the world could stop you from rocking out and having a good time.  The electricity in the air could have powered a small factory.  Phoenix could not have picked a better way to end the show as I’m sure that everyone left the concert just as I did, wishing and waiting to go see them again.

Here are a few selections of my favorite Phoenix tunes:

From Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Lasso

From Alphabetical, Run Run Run

townhall03

Hey all.  I’m Alex, that guy who hasn’t posted on this thing yet.  I really have no excuse as I’m the only one of us still stuck at home, anxiously awaiting the return to college and silently cursing one of the many downfalls of going to a school that’s on the quarter system.  Anyway, I’m here, not so queer and full of musical cheer.

So we music enthusiasts all know that warm feeling we get every once in a while when we discover a great new band or artist–not by hearing them on the radio or reading about them on a music blog, but by discovering them in the purest way possible: right before our very eyes (and ears).  Whether this phenomenon occur during the opening act of the most recent U2 concert, at the local coffeehouse, or at a random music festival in the middle of nowhere, discovering new music in the flesh can be a rewarding experience no matter the occasion.  I would say that I have had my fair share of these experiences, but for some reason, there is only one that is still stuck in my mind.

Rewind five years to the summer of 2004, when my family decided to take a week-long trip to central Vermont for a family vacation.  As an awkward and rather unathletic 13 year old, I wasn’t at the time looking forward to the numerous hikes and tennis outings we had planned for the week.  When we got to Warren, however, I was immediately intrigued by the signs I saw all over town advertising an upcoming local music and arts festival.  Of course I begged my family to take me to the festival when that day arrived and by the end of it I think my whole family was grateful of my persistence to attend the show.  Despite having to sit through some rain showers and hours upon hours of dirty, hairy hippies prancing about in their bohemian garb and sometimes in, well, nothing, the four of us had a fabulous time watching performance after performance of immensely talented singers and bands of all sorts.  In between the soulful blues singers and rip-roarin’ country ramblers came a band that I still to this day consider my greatest discover and one of my best kept musical secrets, If I may make such claims.  Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, they were known as Townhall and as far as I know, the CD I bought back in 2004 is the only one that is still easily accessible to the public via iTunes and such. The band broke up shortly after I saw them and since then, I haven’t had any luck finding any of their other albums. Anyway, at the time, Townhall had me captivated from the opening chord to the final sweet melody of their performance.  Their music is a unique combination of Soul, Pop, Rock and Folk, which along with their clever inter-song jam sessions and spontaneous instrument switching between the members, had me and the rest of Warren’s festival-goers completely enraptured.

Over the years I’ve collected a lot of music from hearing new bands in concert, but for some reason Townhall is just about the only one that remains in my steady rotation of everyday listening material.  For this reason, I’d like to share with you a few of my favorite selections from their magnum opus, “The New Song.”

Here is Ellie Mae, a haunting and beautiful ballad that highlights the band’s folk influences while also showing off their diverse instrumentation and brilliant orchestration.

This is Master Of The Universe, a funky and upbeat track that shows off the band members’ writing and playing chops as well as their appreciation for more jam-oriented rock bands such as Phish, String Cheese Incident, etc. Meanwhile, the song still has enough funk and soul in it to keep you interested for its entire duration.

I hope you all enjoy these tracks and if you’re interested, the album “The New Song” is available on itunes.

Happy listening.

-Alex