July 29, 2010

Mona's Summer Short List (2010)

Welcome to my half-year hootenanny...

5) Lady Gaga's Ego Reaches Bieber-Fever Levels
Hey folks, so what's the deal with Lady Gaga? Thanks to Nightrain's list, it's great to know I'm not the only person who feels she is dying a slow, miserable death every time I see her smug mug, well, everywhere. I hate her megalomaniacal fantasy, I hate the hype, I hate her songs with confusing lyrics (fine, you're saying goodbye to "Alejandro", but then who the hell is Roberto? Fernando?), and I hate how she never seems to wear pants (is this an F-you! to those pesky wang rumors?). On slaying her self-doubt: "When I wake up in the morning, I feel just like any other insecure 24-year-old girl. Then I say, 'B*tch, you're Lady Gaga, you get up and walk the walk today.' " Before I could even bring up my own Gag(a) reflex, Jerry Seinfeld beat me to it: "You take one 'A' off of that and you've got gag." Zing!

4) The Dresden Lounge in Hollywood
When I was in Los Angeles, I wanted to check out the Silver Lake/Sunset Junction area, aka the supposed "Williamsburg of the West," to see if it was every bit as hip as I'd read. It was... not so much on that late Sunday night, but at least I was able to pop by The Dresden on the way home with the hopes of catching jazz sensations Marty & Elayne (of Swingers fame). My impromptu trip lead me there on their off-night, but awesomely washed-up resident country/classic rock cover trio The Drinks was there to purvey all of my favorite requests with very little wait time, such as "Night Moves," "Take It Easy" and "Sister Golden Hair." It was like a cover song jukebox and I was the only person who kept feeding it quarters. One of the sweet waitresses even had the brilliant idea of requesting Talking Heads' "Life During Wartime" and they just busted it out on the fly. I've found my new favorite hangout next time I'm in L.A. and I'm looking for more low-key fun with real, everyday people. This place is so money and it doesn't even know it. Or maybe it does?

3) Folk Me Up: Banjo and Whistling Edition
Again, Nightrain beat me to this mention of ubiquitous folk-rooted rock revival all over the airwaves these days, but two specific tracks have captivated my apparently banjo-lovin' heart in ways I couldn't begin to ignore... even when I tried.

Mumford and Sons - "Little Lion Man"
Retrosexual to the max, these guys look like Leonardo DiCaprio's "working class" pals in Titanic who threw that killer dance party in the lower decks and pretty much drowned because the stupid rich people took over all of the lifeboats. "Little Lion Man" caught my ears' attention and has never let it go. I love the way they all chant along with increasing intensity as the song begins to climax, it's definitely my vote for epic breakdown of my half-year (starts at 2:35 mark).

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - "Home"
Hi. My band runs ten-deep and we travel around the country in vans like dirty hippie rockers. So irritating, so intoxicating, man I can't stand this song... so then why can't I shut it off? "Alabama, Arkansas, I do love my ma and pa, not the way that I do love you..." Sure, she may be singing about her brother at this rate but who knew the banjo could be so damn romantic and set the mood for this year's campfire sing-along love song? "Ahh home, let me go ho-oh-home, home is wherever I'm with you..." With the catchy whistling and a chorus as gosh-darn-cute as that, I'm willing to overlook the fact that ES&TMZ's are completely insane. By the way, what the heck are you guys on (particularly the female lead singer here)!? And don't say "life" because the Polyphonic Spree already used that excuse. Either way, feel free to send some this way whenever you're done singing "Kumbaya."

2) The Gaslight Anthem
Why have I been so late on the ball getting into this band? The first song of theirs I ever heard was "Old White Lincoln," and I damn near got into a minor traffic accident because it was so good and I knew I needed to hear more. But it took the first few lines of "American Slang" to officially reel me in. "Look what you started, I seem to be coming out of my skin..." By far, my favorite intro of this half-year, but the real tingles happen when he sings "I've got your name tattooed inside of my arm" -- I know Brian Fallon isn't singing about me, but the personal, emotive nature of his delivery temporarily humors me. If you think I'm kidding about their effect, last month I "accidentally" fell asleep with "American Slang" on loop, only to wake up in the middle of the night from a dream where a Born In The U.S.A.-era Bruce Springsteen picked me up for a date (he beeped, I found him outside leaning against a red Chevy Camaro), we went to a drive-in movie theatre, came home, and then we made out in the backseat of his neighbor's car. And when it was over, I woke up alone in a state of delusional happiness. Do I really need to say more?

1) Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner's Enigmatic Partnership
After recently seeing Wolf Parade for the 5th time, I can't help but wonder... is it the musical bromance of the century? Or do they secretly despise each other? Spencer Krug once mentioned in an interview how there's little room for egos in the studio since he and Dan Boeckner barely get to see each other and this is only proof that long distance musical relationships can make the hearts grow fonder... and the music only better. These guys manage to stay prolific in respectable side projects (specifically, Krug's Sunset Rubdown and Boeckner's Handsome Furs), yet each undeniable life force still has time for their bread-and-butter indie rock super-group Wolf Parade, both bringing something unique and different to the song-writing table. There's "Krugs' songs" and "Boeckner's songs" and some fans prefer one to the other, but I think it's a toss-up because the sum of this pairing's musical capabilities is greater than its individual parts. Yes, the theory of musical emergence in action. When it comes to their live shows, I love the equality as they insist on switching off vocals every other song to a T. And on songs where they share frontman duties (usually one sings, while the other ignites the song further by filling it out more), its a musical synergistic explosion on stage for all to see. The way they go back and forth on stage is like an insane ping-pong match where I'm left rooting for both members... I'm the ball, of course. Hit me! But since words can't do it justice, I urge all to witness their raucous musical romp in person and I promise you will be reeling for days.


Mona said...

Not the most QUICKcrit piece in history, I'll admit. Oops?

5) I want to like her music, but I can't b/c SHE makes it too hard to do so.
4) The Drinks rock for playing every song I asked for... basically right then and there.
3) I really like the lights hanging in the Mumford and Sons video... anywhere know where I can get them? Brasilliant?!
2) Next time someone says "You have to hear this band, I think you will love them," I've learned not to wait years before checking them out.
1) Wolf Parade never does wrong in my books. I'm obsessed.

awmercy said...

Wolf Parade were very entertaining. They a large chunk of the dance floor bobbing and shaking along in a near moshpit frenzy for most of the show.

Mona said...

Yeah, that's why I never make it to the front. I'd get trampled on for sure. Did you suffer any worthwhile injuries? haha

ps - did you stay for the encore? I love that 11 minute closer "Kissing The Beehive." Four words: prog rock wankery heaven.

sandenuts said...

Gaslight Anthem rules! Loved the post, the American Graffiti dream, amazing. That story is how I am going to describe this band from here on out!

Mona said...

I think it's absolutely adorable how much the boys on this site get jazzed on all things Gaslight, Black Keys, and National. Then of course there's the Portugal. The Man love, but that may be more an awmercy/nightrain thing.

Haha, thanks for getting my reference! I'm honored if you use that story, but feel free to make me sound way cooler than I am in real life :)

awmercy said...

Seriously, I don't know why everyone doesn't love Portugal. The Man. The last two albums are both fantastic.

Mona said...

Haha, I think it's sad that even with all the great write-ups about them my lazy-ass still hasn't heard ONE song by them. I'm putting it at the top of my list so I can actually form an opinion to share. It's me, not you guys.

ps - awmercy, after WP's last show I started wondering if I should start wearing ear plugs (give into aging) to shows now, but I worry they detract from the experience. Do you wear them at all, ever?

awmercy said...

I never wear earplugs. I've tried a couple of the foam kinds, but always pulled them out because I didn't like how the music sounded. But I've never bought the more expensive hi-fi earplugs, which might be the way to go if you want to protect yourself.

Mona said...

Thanks! The fear mostly started because I can listen to my car radio now on full blast and it doesn't hurt my ears (shouldn't it!?). I'm glad you understood me as I meant I prefer shows sans plugs, but I do get scared I'm doing unknown damage that will haunt me years from now when I can't hear anyone/talk too loudly and become that crazy old lady who blasts her TV way too loudly, much to the irritation of her family. I'll have to research, I guess :/

Nightrain said...

P.TM was first reviewed on Wednesday, July 08, 2009 and have been mentioned in at least 8 QCM reviews and you still haven't listened to ONE song?

Persuasive writing fail.

Mona said...

Oh no, see... I didn't want you guys to feel you weren't doing your civic and musical duties educating the masses. I know there have been reviews, and reviews on how "I can't wait to see/review" said band, and even embedded youtube videos... I just didn't know where to start, so I just threw it back on the master "check out list." I'm on it and will report back! Keep up the good work.

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