Tag Archives: Music Related

Concert Review: Wilco and Avett Bros @ Camden Water Front

( @wilco, @theavettbros )

Opening Act: Dr. Dog
Venue: Susquehanna Bank Center – Camden, NJ
Date: Saturday, July 21st, 2012

NOTE: I didn’t take any pictures of video because it just seems kind of stupid to take crappy grainy pictures or poor quality audio. So I will post some quality videos I find on the net so you get the idea.

[Dr. Dog]

Website: DrDogMusic.com

Dr. Dog is a Philadelphia based band that I got turned on to a few years ago. I thought they were good band but honestly never really gave their albums much thought after that first spin. That was a mistake. This band thrives playing on stage. Their material totally popped in the live setting – it was dynamic and LOUD (my chest was thumping during the entire set). I was impressed with their set, but I do wish they could have stepped up the on-stage banter for their hometown audience (but I suspect they had extremely limited time on stage with the other acts).

[The Avett Brothers]

Website: TheAvettBrothers.com

Frequent readers of this blog know that I am a huge fan of The Avett Brothers. These guys have been touring non-stop for the last few years and are still pumping out excellent material. The band’s live shows are what makes them special: they have a excellent work ethic and they bust their asses on stage. This was the fifth time I have seen the band and they still exceed my expectations (they are not resting on their success).

The band played for about 90 minutes and they were bouncing around the entire time. I am not going to run down the entire set list, but they hit all of the fan favorites with a nice mix of all of their albums. They closed the set with “Kick Drum Heart” but did an epic southern rock style jam at the end which was an interesting (and welcome) new element to their live show.

I honestly feel that The Avett Brothers are the best live act in the country right now. Go see them if you have the chance.

Previous Avett Brother Reviews:

[Wilco]

Website: WilcoWorld.net

It took about 40 minutes for the stage crew to move the Avett’s equipment and set up Wilco’s stage. They had these pieces of fabric hanging down in long knots (like 20-30 foot lengths) – they were on the stage the entire night and I was wondering what they were for. Turns out the band had images projected on the ropes for a very cool effect during their set.

Jeff Tweedy was not in a mellow mood, the band came out on the stage ready to singe faces. The first 6 songs were very loud. I honestly don’t know what the opening song was – wait checking the internet – “Art of Almost” – I am not sure if there was an actual melody to that tune, just sound. Hell of a way to wake up the audience. I appreciated the rocked out/artistic set because it was an excellent contrast to the Avetts.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay the entire concert because we had a baby to go home to (this was our first time leaving him with a sitter). Fun Side Note: There was a couple that brought their two young children to the show sitting right in front of us, they made it half-way through the Avett’s set before they left. Note to self: Resist the temptation to take son to concert until he is potty trained. We cut out during “Hate It Here” which was sad, but I appreciate the band coming to the Philadelphia area and putting a damn fine effort on stage.

Previous Wilco Reviews:

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Phillyist: Interview with Reggie Wu

( #ReggieWu, #Metal, #Philadelphia )

Phillyist published my interview with Philadelphia metal guitarist Reggie Wu.

Check it out: Phillyist Interviews…Reggie Wu

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Music Review: Ryan Adams and the Cardinals – III/IV

( @TheRyanAdams, #Cardinals, #RyanAdams )

I purposely held off on reviewing this album for over a full week. I have been living with it in my car, MP3 player, and home media centers. I don’t know if it was intentional, but I got the album on Saturday Dec 4th. It has been in constant rotation in the Lombardi household.

Now that I am comfortable with the songs, here is my take:

III

  1. Breakdown into the Resolve: The album opens up with the crunchy Ryan Adams that I love. I thought Rock N Roll was a great album so I was really happy hearing “Breakdown”. The chorus has an instantly catchy hook. Excellent tune. Here is a live clip:
  2. Dear Candy: Adams slows it down for the 2nd tune on III, but his vocals and the Cardinals backgrounds make the song pop.
  3. Wasteland: The song starts a little off-tune clunky (intentionally), a technique that Adams employees a few times on this project. After the rough start, he opens the song wide with a massive chorus.
  4. Ultraviolet Light: The Cardinals have revisited the concepts of light and darkness several times in their body of work—all of them are excellent and this tune is a fine example. Some reviewers have mentioned a Smiths homage, I can hear it, but it isn’t overt, this song sounds like a logical successor to some of the tunes on Love is Hell
  5. Stop Playing with my Heart: Straight up band-focused rock and roll tune. Simple and easy to listen to.
  6. Lovely and Blue: In the week listening to the album, this song has become my favorite on III. I love the vocals, the straight rock, and Popper’s background vocals.
  7. Happy Birthday: Sad Bastard Ryan Adams at his finest.
  8. Kisses Start Wars: Adams and the Cardinals exploring some of their punk preferences. This song doesn’t go as deep into the punk as some of the tunes on IV and the chorus softens up with operatic vocals, providing an interesting balance.
  9. The Crystal Skull: This is another favorite because I like when Adams tells a story (like Strawberry Wine). When I first saw the track list, I thought it was going to be some riff on the last Indiana Jones movie (its not that far fetched).
  10. Users: This tune has very 80s vibe musically (which is surprisingly welcome for me). Lyrically, the song has a darker theme, but isn’t that the best when the masses are mindlessly singing along to some crazy shit?

OVERALL THOUGHTS: I really liked “III”: It has three songs that I would put in my Ryan Adams “best of” playlist. I like the pacing, production, and overall effect that the album gives off. I don’t know if it was intentional, but I feel like the 10 songs tell an overall story in a subtle way. I read a review last week that said this was the better of the two since it was so “cohesive”, and while I agree with the reviewers comments, IV’s chaos really peaked my interest….

IV:

  1. No: Like Breakdown on III, IV starts off with a delightfully crunchy song. No is a little more bleak, but the repetitive chorus “Something is wrong” is somehow bright and sucks you into sing-a-long mode.
  2. Numbers: This song is nuts and I love it. Starts off full punk and then slows down and gets really melodic. I have mentioned Catherine Popper being my long standing music crush, so I really liked that she was featured vocally on the song (she has an awesome salt and honey voice – kinda like when Sheryl Crow was still Sheryl Crow).
  3. Gracie: This one also has a twist of 80s but more wistful, so it isn’t too sweet. This song could get overlooked in the mayhem of IV, but don’t because it is a gem.
  4. Ice-Breakers: Heavy rock/punk tune. Starts off with a bit of stank, but mixes in a little sweetness during the chorus with great harmonies with the Cardinals to make it go down easier.
  5. Sewers at the Bottom of the Wishing Well: This is another great Cardinal showpiece where Adams steps back and lets the band shine (background vocals and musically)
  6. Typecast: Who doesn’t love Ryan Adam duets with Norah Jones? Great analogies in the song; clever writing that demonstrates Adams lyrical prowess. The binary stars line is fucking brilliant.
  7. Star Wars: I thought this song was going to be about the movies (who knows, maybe it is, no direct references that I picked out), but it wasn’t anything I was expecting… it starts of straight pop-rock and then breaks down into echoing chant about star wars. This song is random, light, and totally enjoyable.
  8. My Favorite Song: A little slower, this song allows the listener to catch their breath. It kind of has a Replacements vibe to it, but with more polish. Yet another tune that has excellent harmonies with the rest of the band.
  9. P.S.: Straight up rock anthem. Bright mixed with classic Adams lament.
  10. Death and Rats: Crazy title where you would expect something hard, but this tune is soft and down right romantic.
  11. Kill the Lights: IV has a fitting end as it incorporates a few running themes both lyrically and musically: Yet another lights reference, it has that stanky crunch start, keeps the rock pumping, and allows the whole Cardinals band to shine. A very solid way to end this effort

OVERALL THOUGHTS: I love the randomness of IV. I like the sounds and themes explored. While III might be an easier pill to swallow for normal music fans, Cardinal fans will appreciate Adams exposing his eclectic tastes—I personally feel that is when he is his most brilliant.

BOTTOM LINE:
This is a Ryan Adams album and I am fan: so there is no point in bullshitting you with half-hearted critiques. By taking you through each song, I hope I can lend you some of my enthusiasm for a musician/band that I think is one of best of the current generation. This album proves that Ryan and his associates never half-ass the musical process by writing the same fluff over and over. Every album is completely different and I respect and appreciate that because it is not the safe thing to do.

You can listen to a full stream of the album on Paxam (not sure how long it will be up)

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Concert Review: The Avett Brothers @ Bottle & Cork

Concert Review: The Avett Brothers @ Bottle & Cork
Concert Date: 7.10.2008

The first time I heard The Avett Brothers, I knew they were channeling a very strong and different energy than most bands. Their music respects the music of America from centuries past and yet they make it modern without comprising its core. I had seen youtube clips of the band and knew that their live act was all energy and I was excited to see it. The boys from North Carolina did not disappoint.

The band got on stage around 10:15 PM and immediately got the crowd going with a new song (sorry I didn’t know the title), but then they kicked into what I am assuming to be their most well know song “Die, Die, Die”. It was excellent, but the best part was they had a cello player that came in from the back that looked like the Japanese wrestler The Great Muta and actually played a cello like I think Muta would have played. This guy was fucking awesome.

A recurring theme throughout the night was Scott Avett breaking banjo strings, I think he was up to 15 or 20 by the end of the night. It didn’t stop him at all. The band just kept belting out songs. I am guessing the band put in some newer material (that they didn’t announce) or I just didn’t know the songs, but they had a different tone, it was like Alt-Country New Wave and a synthesizer was thrown into the mix, the songs were good, I don’t know if it fit in with their overall theme and presentation, but tunes were good and a little change was okay.

If you noticed in the last few concert write ups I make it a point to discuss the location and the crowd. We have been very lucky the last year with venues and crowds, our luck ran out in Delaware. The tickets said the show starts at 8 PM. The band didn’t get on until 10. I don’t think it was the bands fault as I did some reading and that is common place at the location, they just wanted to sell booze because it is a bar first and concert venue 50th. The Bottle & Cork concert area is outdoors and quite dirty. I have been to a ton of shows in Philadelphia’s concert pier and that place was 20 times cleaner than the concert area of B&C. It was disgusting. The crowd certainly added to the filth. I have never seen so many people under 30 smoking in my life. All these cute girls walking around and talking with cigarettes hanging from their hands – they all looked like babies smoking. Anyway….

The band sounded great and the concert was fully energy the whole night. If you want to see some old time style music with a modern flare and high energy performance, see the Avett Brothers.

Links:
The Avett Brothers: Official Site
Youtube Performance: Performance Link
Bottle & Cork: Bottle & Cork

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Concert Review: Feist (4.23.2008)

I had the chance to catch Feist at the Academy of Music on 4.23.2008. I thought Feist was good going into the concert, now I think she is great; a true artist. Simply put, she has become a better musician and artist since she released her last album “The Reminder”. Before I get to the main event, I will say that her opening act Hayden played his own special brand of “kill yourself” music for 55 minutes… Horrid. I will say that he seemed like a nice guy, and had good stage presence, but his songs were pure drudge – I was counting the minutes until he was off stage.

After the stage crew did their jobs (I have never seen a stage crew take so long to set up a drum set – Damn Canadian Teamsters!), Feist took the stage. Leslie Feist is the daughter of Canadian artist Harold Feist, so I was expecting something visual, but she exceeded my expectations. The show incorporated two people doing interesting visuals using an overhead projector, and the opening song featured Feist behind a screen so you could only see her silhouette, which complimented the overhead presentation.

Feist’s performance was excellent. She took elements of her records, fleshed them out and expanded them. Her four piece back up band was outstanding… bright and tight. Like Liam Finn, Feist employed a audio capture and looping device so she can add her own vocal layers during the performance, she used it well and it enhanced the experience.

I could go on about how much I liked the show, but you get the hint. Another great aspect of the event was the venue. The Academy of Music was beautiful, comfortable, and classy. Great place to see a concert. If you get a chance to see Feist, do it, you won’t regret it.

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Music Review: Neil Cleary – I was thinking of you the whole time

Jack deLaurentis gave me a CD on Friday and I have been enjoying it so much (I actually can’t get the songs out of my head) I wanted to share it will my loyal three readers.

Jack passed on Neil Cleary’s “I was thinking of you the whole time”. The album is a poppy and bright but the lyrics run deep and echo with sentiment. There are quite a few musical influences that I picked up on – there are shades of Elvis Costello, Matthew Sweet, and even The Beatles (although I hear that Neil isn’t the biggest “Fab Four” fan).

Neil does a nice job blending all the styles together but definitely has his own sound. I recommend you take the chance and listen to his music right now. AND HERE’S THE PLUG:

Buy his music on iTunes
Neil’s Myspace Page

Simply put – Neil’s music is exactly how pop music should be. Sounds great with a hint something else going on in the words if you listen hard enough. I suggest you do.

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Concert Review: Crowded House @ the MANN

In my early college years, it was a guarantee that a Crowded House or Neil Finn CD wouldn’t be too far away from me; they were and remain one of my favorite bands. Most people would remember them for their big hit in the 80’s “Don’t Dream its Over”. America may have forgotten about Crowded House, but the rest of the world continued to enjoy their brilliant output for many years. In 1997 they called it quits seemingly for good. Neil Finn went on to make two excellent solo albums and did a few projects with his brother Tim Finn as well. Last year, Paul Hester passed away and Neil and the boys got back together for a handful of benefits that ballooned into a new record and tour; tonight I got to see for myself what makes Crowded House one of the best bands of our time.

The evening started off by Finn’s son Liam who has been putting together a career for himself as a solo artist and with the band Betchadupa. The younger Finn steals a page from Howie Day by utilizing looping effects to make his solo performance sound fuller. I would be lying if I didn’t say that Liam sounds just like his old man vocally, but has a brasher, younger sound (without totally forgoing his father’s melodic sensibilities and ability to write interesting analogies). Finn switched between guitar, drums, and a variety of electronic devices during each of the songs – the kid definitely worked for his paycheck. Overall I was impressed with his performance: He bantered with the crowded with ease (something more seasoned performers have issues with), his loopingmulti-instrument approach was a treat to see, and he didn’t squander my pre-good will since I was pumped to see his dad play.

Pete Yorn quickly followed Finn and played a quick set. Yorn has lost a lot of credibility in my book for his last album which I found to be simply terrible. He opened with a song from that album, so I decided it was good time to buy Liam’s CD and take a piss. When I came back I was amused to find a totally zoned out lady in her late 40’s doing the “white girl dance” (reference: Chappelle Show episode with John Mayer – Click here to see it ). I could not take my eyes off this train wreck and then her two buddies came over to join her (they were from Pittsburg BTW – I hope they read this). To be fair to Pete, he sounded good but his band was stepping on each other a bit (I thought he had too many musicians on stage – 2 guitar players, himself (playing guitar), a bass player, and a drummer). He ended his set strong with “Life on the Chain”, “Strange Condition”, and a Neil Diamond cover (the name escape me at this late hour).

After a long wait, Crowded House finally took the stage immediately going into “Locked Out” which charged up the already excited crowd. Afterwards Neil retold a story about Nick (Seymour – Bass) being locked out his hotel room last night in Philly. The banter between Neil and Nick was outstanding throughout the evening. I was pleasantly surprised to see Liam Finn playing acoustic guitar in the background. I am not going to rifle through the entire set list, but they played all the classics and they knocked them out of the park. I was especially pleased with “Distant Sun”, “Recurring Dream”, and “Pineapple Head”.

The band’s performance was definitely enhanced by the fantastic MANN music center. This was my first time at the theater and this is hands down the best music venue I have been to in the Philadelphia area. You can actually get decent food, the atmosphere is pleasant and clean, the acoustics in the theater are excellent, and the stage allows the band members to move into the audience. It was an absolute joy to see a show there.

If you read this and still don’t know who Crowded House is, do yourself a favor and pick up an album I suggest “Recurring Dream: The Very Best of Crowded House” for beginners and “Woodface” once you get to know them). If you do remember Crowded House but for “Don’t Dream its Over” and “Something So Strong”, do yourself a favor and checkout their other albums. Crowded House was and is a fantastic band that never got their proper dues in America, see them live if you have the chance, they won’t disappoint.

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Review: Ryan Adams at the TLA (Philadelphia)

Recent interviews with Ryan Adams had me excited, it seems that the alt-country “bad boy” has been clean and sober for the last year. Normally I honestly wouldn’t care – Rock’n’Roll means drugs – but Mr. Adams has burned me before. The last time he played in Philadelphia he was angry and paranoid getting into several verbal skirmishes with the audience (telling one guy he wasn’t going to get laid was actually pretty funny but distracting none the less). He eventually walked off stage. Now almost two years later I wondered if buying a ticket to a Ryan Adams show would be worth the money, the answer was a resounding yes.

One thing that I really enjoyed was the lack of opening act. Sometimes you win, most times you lose, so I was glad the night started with Ryan & the Cardinals and ended that way. Of course he came out 35 minutes late, but I didn’t expect him to be on time. Adams set the stage up similar to his most recent tonight show performance, all the musicians were seated and the boys were presented in a straight line with the drummer at center. With the band sitting on their asses and me being on the floor, it was hard to see the band, but I honestly didn’t care considering they were just sitting down.

The first few songs of the night started off slow and had me a bit worried, but then it all came together. Adams and company steered clear of their most popular songs (New York, New York, Come Pick Me Up, To be Young, Stars Go Blue) instead favoring his country western-esque material such as Magnolia Mountain, Beautiful Sorta, some tracks from his new album, and some reworked songs from Demolition (Dear Chicago was a crowd pleaser).

There were a few elements of the show that did fall short. The gentleman working the boards was not on his game, the audio sounded hollow and tinny. When Adams spoke to the audience (which is a miracle in itself) it was almost impossible to hear it. The concert ended around 11:30 PM and since Ryan got up around 9:30, I was a little disappointed that the show didn’t go on a little longer. I was looking forward to hearing Let it Ride and Winding Wheel with the 7 piece band – but it was not meant to be.

Overall, the band sounded great, Ryan was looking happy and healthy, and Ryan managed to go an entire show without getting into a fight with someone in the audience. Do I consider that money well spent? You bet your ass.

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