Archive for the ‘Frightened Rabbit’ Category

[ATTENDED: February 29, 2020] We Were Promised Jetpacks

I saw We Were Promised Jetpacks two years ago at Boot & Saddle, a wonderfully intimate place to see a band.  Although I had read that when they played slightly bigger venues, they really maximized the stage space.  In particular, guitarist Michael Palmer was a wild man.

Last time, lead singer Adam Thompson had a shaved head and he looked kind of fierce.  For this show, his hair was grown back and he was giddy, smiling up and down at everyone and clearly enjoying himself.

What was also different was Michael Palmer.  When he came out, I thought–I don’t remember him looking like that at all. Did he grow his hair super long?  And why is he so mellow over there?  Well, it turned out that that was not Michael Palmer. Palmer retired after last year’s tour (which I was supposed to go to but then couldn’t).  This new guitarist was Andy Monaghan from Frightened Rabbit. His playing was excellent, but he was not a very dynamic performer.  That just meant that Thompson was the main focus as he strode around the stage and hammed it up for the people up front to take pictures. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 14, 2019] Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band

I have seen Kevin Devine twice.  The first time was in 2017 when he opened for Frightened Rabbit.  The second time was earlier this year when he did a brief solo tour with John K. Samson.  The second show was so good–he was so full of energy as a headliner, that I knew I’d see him again.  But I really wanted to see him with The Goddamn Band (hilarious name).

When it was announced that Kevin and the Goddamn Band would be playing a short tour celebrating the tenth anniversary of the 2009 album Brother’s Blood, I bought tickets immediately.  I didn’t even know the album, I just wanted to see the whole band.  And holy cow was it a great choice.

Kevin has a fantastic stage presence–he bonds with the crowd instantly (even when I first saw him as an opening act and had no idea who he was, he just owned the stage).  He invites the audience to sing and the audience does.

And with the whole band, that interaction was even greater.  Kevin joked with the band members, soloed off of them and made the whole show like a party.

The crowd was totally into it–singing along to nearly every song.

It was a fantastic show.

I have since listened to the album a bunch and the songs are really great–but this live show was something amazing.  The band feeds off of each other, making every song bigger, richer, with more noise and jamming.  They clearly love playing with each other and were having a fantastic time. It was wonderful. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 10, 2019] Kevin Devine

I saw Kevin Devine open for Frightened Rabbit back in 2017.  I didn’t know his music, but I really enjoyed his solo set.  When I heard that he was doing this tour with John K. Samson I was really excited to see him again.  I had hoped he’d be with His Goddman Band, but it turned out to be solo again.  I kind of assumed it would be with the band because of the new piece of merch (below) which I love but can’t imagine where you’d wear.

But it was excellent to see him not with the Goddamn Band because he was excellent solo.

Devine came out on stage to much applause.  He fiddled with the microphone stand and then said, you should be careful with your applause–what if I spend the whole night just tightening the mic stand.  Which he proceeded to do for another 40 seconds or so to much laughter until he admitted he couldn’t keep up the joke.

Devine played a song or more from nearly all of his nine albums as well as from his new split singles sets. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 28, 2017] Torres

I saw Torres play Union Transfer about four months ago.  She opened for Frightened Rabbit and I really enjoyed her set.  So I was pretty excited to see her at Boot & Saddle, where she was headlining.

I didn’t realize it was the first night of the tour for her new album Three Futures–she claimed to be very nervous.

It was quite a different show and Torres herself, Mackenzie Scott, was quite different.  At Union Transfer, she seemed kind of distant and aloof.  And it was a really effective persona–she really wowed the crowd who may not have been there to see her.  But at this show some of that veneer dropped away–there were some jokes and some smiles.

Torres’ previous album, Sprinter has some great noisy guitar stuff.  The new one has more synth and a much more spare, but interesting, guitar. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 1, 2017] Frightened Rabbit

A number of years ago I got into Frightened Rabbit and really loved his dark-but-strangely-catchy poetic folk songs.

A few years ago he released a single “Swim Til You Cant See Land” and it was something of a minor hit.  That brought them some airplay and really enjoyed that album as well.

When I saw  that they were touring I thought it would be fun to finally see them live. Although somehow I didn’t realize that they had put out two albums since that single.  Yipes. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 1, 2017] Torres

I really liked Torres’ album Sprinter and Bob Boilen had said that she was  great live performer so I was pretty excited to see her live on this tour.  I wasn’t exactly expecting a lot of power because while her music has a distinct intensity it never seemed like it would be huge.  But man, Mackenzie Scott has an amazing presence, and her band was fantastic.

The biggest surprise for me came as the show began because Torres has new music out and it’s quite different from the songs I know.  It’s much more synth heavy, with a very different vibe.  The songs on Sprinter bubble under with intensity, but the new ones have a kind of sinister keyboard layer over the top.  She also sings a bit more quietly on these songs.

What was interesting was that the newer music allowed her to do some interesting things on stage that reminded me of the choreography of St. Vincent (albeit much more subtle).  She made small movements with her hips or shoulders.  She really absorbed the attention of the audience.  I loved that at times she just stood with her back to us, shadowed by lights as she waited for the songs to build.

I guess she played around nine song (there’s no setlist online).  She played a couple of new songs and then a bunch off of Sprinter.

She didn’t speak much but she did say at one point I’m pleased to be here in front of you as Torres.  For this music is not all about her.

Guitarist Cameron Kapoor stood in the back playing all kinds of great noises.  While it was hard to take my eyes off of Scott, Kapoor was great to watch–he had a bank of keyboards and effects and his squealed and squalled some noises all the way through.  Sometimes loud, sometimes just quiet textures, he really gave the songs a great sonic landscape.   Erin Manning played keyboards and sang backing vocals.  Her sound seemed much more notable on the new songs where Scot played only solos.

Drummer Dominic Cipolla play a mix of electronic and analog drums that perfectly fleshed out the rest of the songs.

As far as the setlist, there were two new songs including her new single “Skim.”  I really enjoyed the sounds she squeezed out of her guitar between verses.

Then there was the dramatic change in sound for Sprinter’sNew Skin,” and that’s when it really kicked in just how powerful she was live.  Her new songs may not employ the same techniques, but she hasn’t lost any of that intensity.  And she plays her guitar sparingly but effectively: (I love watching her fingers in the dim light here).

Her deep powerful (sometimes vulnerable) voice really came out.  By the time she got to “Sprinter,” the intensity level was through the roof.

But the song I’d been waiting to see was “Strange Hellos.”  This is the first song I’d heard by her and I loved the way it started so small and simple and turned into a huge raging song.  And live it’s even better.

She has the audacity to slow down that first section even further.  It’s amazing to hear the lengthy pauses between notes as she just stares at the audience daring us to interrupt.   And then the song proper starts and it rocks.  Her voice is strained to breaking as she sings along.  But it’s the end of the song–and the show–that was utterly memorable.

The show was great and I’ve just gotten a ticket for her show a the more intimate Boot & Saddle later his year so I can get another full dose of her intensity.


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[ATTENDED: June 1, 2017] Kevin Devine

I had heard of Kevin Devine–and his Goddamn Band–but hadn’t actually heard his music.  I knew that he recently toured with Pinegrove as support–a show I wish I’d seen!  But here he was solo.

Devine sang a dozen or so songs.  Each one was catchy and not based on simple chord sequences.  But mostly the focus was on the words.  And I really liked his delivery–powerful and always spot on.  It worked perfectly for a solo acoustic set but i could see it working just as well for a rocking band.

I can’t find a setlist on line, and I don’t know the names of many of his songs, so I don’t have much more to fill in here.

I recall him saying that one of the songs was the title rack of his new album Instigator.  I know he also played at least one song from his band Bad Books. (more…)

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1985SOUNDTRACK: KING CREOSOTE AND JON HOPKINS-Tiny Desk Concert #154 (September 4, 2011).

creosoteI’d heard of King Creosote but didn’t know anything about him.  He’s a Scottish folk singer.  And Jon Hopkins is an English producer and multi-instrumentalist who is better known for his room-filling electronic works–although here he only plays the…yes, harmonium and keyboards.

“John Taylor’s Month Away” is a somewhat upbeat song–although the King’s voice is somber and mellow on every song.  I like watching him thump on his guitar to keep the beat while he’s not strumming.  And when he comes back in with the guitar again it sounds all the bigger for it.

The chord structure and delivery of “Bubble” sounds like a 1960s British folk song.  It’s quite lovely.  And when Hopkins switches to piano, it really brings out a lot more in the song.

These two songs came from Creosote’s album Diamond Mine, which the blurb says was everyone’s favorite album in 2011 (although I don’t recall hearing anything about it back then).  Stephen Thompson writes: “To immerse yourself in Diamond Mine is to be transported to a small, calm town in the Scottish countryside: For all of [Kenny] Anderson’s [King Creosote’s real name] reflective ruminations on aging and regret, he and Hopkins know how to make listeners feel at peace; to make the faraway seem everyday. “

“Cockle Shell” is not from Diamond Mine, although Jon did work on it, he says.  The guitar is a played differently–more picking, less strumming.  And the piano sounds lovely again. Creosote sings a bit bigger on this song.  The way he sings the preposterously upbeat music behind the lyrics “choke me, blind me, cut off my hands,” reminds me a lot of Frightened Rabbit.

For the final song, Hopkins switches back to harmonium.  It’s a short song, lovely and sweet.  And I’m sure if I followed the lyrics a bit more closely it would be rather sad too, as the final line is “while they were alive.”

I enjoyed Creosote’s music, although I feel like I’d have to be in a certain mind frame to put it on intentionally.  I will have to give a listen to Diamond Mine in total though.

[READ: January 26, 2016] “Three Thousand Dollars”

After reading the Lipsky articles in Harper’s I thought I’d see if he had written anything in the New Yorker.  I only found this one item, a short story from his collection.

I was intrigued from the start by this story because of the duplicitous nature of the college-aged narrator.  This was especially interesting to read after reading Lipsky’s Harper’s article about slackers.

The story begins with the statement that the narrator’s mother doesn’t know he owes his father $3,000.  It transpires that his parents are divorced and his father–who has a ton of money–is going to pay for his college after they get financial aid based on his mother’s lower income.  The balance–$3000 is what his dad will pay.

But when the $3000 check came in, the narrator spent it on other things instead. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FRIGHTENED RABBIT-The Winter of Mixed Drinks (2010).

I enjoyed Frightened Rabbit’s previous disc ever so much: a twisted blend of rocking folk music and very dark lyrics.  The fact that a number of these songs were used in Chuck was a treat for me.

I’ve never heard their first disc, so I don’t know how much their songwriting changed from disc 1 to disc 2.  But there’s a pretty huge leap from disc 2 to disc 3.

The most notable track has got to be “Swim Until You Can’t See Land.”   And it’s notable for having a really rocking and catchy and undeniable chorus.  They liked it so much, they reprise it later in the disc (with new instrumentation and such) on “Man/Bag of Sand.”

The rest of the disc sounds like Frightened Rabbit, but like the full band version.  There’s just so much music, that it actually distracts a bit from the lyrics (on the previous disc, the lyrics were certainly more of the focus).  There’s even a string arrangement on “Living in Colour.”

And yet despite all of these changes, they never lose what makes FR special: that voice and that outlook.  Although I’m sure I would have enjoyed if this disc was similar to the previous one, I’m always delighted to see a band take some chances and try something different.  And here they did, and it works wonderfully.

[READ: May 19, 2010] “Ash”

On April 14, Iceland’s volcano Eyjafjallajokull erupted.  And here, barely a month later, Roddy Doyle has written a story in which that eruption plays a role.  I’m impressed enough that he could get a coherent story written in that short amount of time, but I’m amazed that it was squeezed so quickly into The New Yorker‘s fiction schedule.  Admittedly, I don’t know how The New Yorker does anything, so I don’t know if they had a slot open (doubtful) or if they had to push back other stories (unlikely) or maybe he was slotted to give them something else, and whipped this out instead?  Beats me.  Whatever the reason, I was really surprised to see this here. (more…)

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jokeSOUNDTRACK: FRIGHTENED RABBIT-Midnight Organ Fight (2008).

rabbitMy friend Jarrett introduced me to this band.  He rather casually called it his favorite album of the year, so I figured it was worth checking out.

Frightened Rabbit are a group from Scotland, and they play a sort of disaffected folk.  Although that’s not a wholly accurate description because they do kick in the drums and louder guitars.  So, yeah, they don’t sound anything like Belle and Sebastian.  This is complemented by the lyrics which are somewhat bitter or aching.

And speaking of lyrics, the first song that I wanted to sing along with most was “Keep Yourself Warm” and then I realized that the chorus is “It takes more than fucking someone to keep yourself warm.”  There’s also a very pointed use of the mother of all C words, in another song, too.  And I’ve had that song in my head for about three days now.  But I absolutely cannot sing the song at work or at home, or, well, anywhere except in the car when I ‘m by myself.

This all leads me to wonder, Do bands save their best songs to fill with curses or am I just 8 years old and I listen to the song with curses the most?

The one thing that has troubled me about the record is that at times the singer can sound like the guy from the Counting Crows.  And the Counting Crows are probably the band I hate the most in the universe.  But I just focus on the Scottish burr which lessens the Durwitz effect, and then I can enjoy the disc again.

[READ: Summer 2008] The McSweeney’s Joke Book of Book Jokes

This is a collection of humorous vignettes that are, if not about books exactly, certainly literary in nature.  If you like your humor to be bookish, then this is a great, funny collection.  It starts with the cover itself, as it is printed backwards and upside down w(the cover above is actually on the back).

Many of these pieces are very short (some are a page, even some more are just a few sentences.)  Plus, there are so many pieces that I’m not willing to write all that much, just a one-line summary (that I will try to make funny without giving away the punchline).

I thought about indicating in some way which ones I liked best or some kind of rating system, but that just seems extensive and cruel.

Most of these pieces came from McSweeny’s online, and I’m sure many of the pieces are still available there, but I’m not going to do all the work for you.  And it’s funny how many jokes there are about: James Joyce, Kafka, Homer and children’s books!

Oh, and authors: I started to include all of your names in my Categories, and then it just got too overwhelming.  But if you want to be added, just drop me a note!

Click here for the egress: (more…)

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