Category Archives: music news and reviews

Show Review: The Black Keys in Anaheim

The Black Keys @ Øya 2012

A crisp fall evening brought us to Anaheim to see The Black Keys, show number three in So Cal during their massive worldwide stadium tour.

Two nights earlier the duo from Akron, Ohio — also home to basketball superstar LeBron James, Alcoholics Anonymous, and the first breakfast cereal (Quaker Oats) — arrived in LA where they played back-to-back shows at the Staples Center.

To give you an example of how far the duo has come since their days back in rural Ohio, the LA dates were sandwiched between engagements from Justin Beiber and Madonna.

I hadn’t seen The Keys perform since 2008 when they came through the KCRW studio for their second live performance and interview with Nic Harcourt (the first time they came to the station was nearly a decade ago, in 2003).

I remember when they played the Roxy, and a few years later when they returned to dazzle the crowd at The Wiltern — a slightly larger venue with a capacity of roughly two-thousand.

I remember how thrilling the performance was back then, even when it took place in a tiny, sun-drenched recording studio early in the morning.

When Dan Auerbach (guitar, vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums) deliver their signature blues-meets-rock sound it always seems to immediately grab everyone in the room. Excessively hooky or not, it’s really hard to not pay attention.

And it’s not the music alone. Something about the concept of a strong musical duo produces a tight-knit and intimate energy that’s oftentimes hard to replicate. Think Jack and Meg, Alison and Jamie, even Matt and Kim.

Years later they infused the exact energy to the present tour, performing for tens of thousands of fans every night.

That night in Anaheim, the band seamlessly translated their reverb-laden, soaring rock sound to a stadium setting complete with trippy visuals, HD cameras, and the pricey beer and hot dogs to match (sadly, no cereal was present at this particular show).

This time around they brought bassist Gus Seyffert and keyboardist John Wood on board to assist on material from later albums. About halfway through the set, the group stripped back to the original twosome as they proceeded to dive into older material.

Perhaps it was a sigh of relief to witness a real rock show at an arena (the last two I saw were the Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga). Or maybe, it was the energy of the crowd I was vibing from. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the wash of the originality, the rhythm and sound, of what we drove an hour and a half to experience. The music. Completely original and synergistic, just as it was back then.

Show Review: Maximo Park in LA

shot with my iPhone 4GS

A mellow Friday night in Los Angeles, CA assembled a veritable mix to see two very different bands at the El Rey as part of the Moheak and Goldvoice Presents – local newbies The Neighborhood and Mercury Prize-nominated Brit-rock band Maximo Park.

Local teens, college kids, music supervisors, and what appeared to be family members of the band gathered to see The Neighborhood who performed songs from their debut album I’m Sorry…..

Not having heard the entire album prior — outside of considering the single “Sweater Weather” to be a catchy tune — the repertoire sounded surprisingly different from what was previously envisioned in my mind.

Their sound had a harder edge to it, and as the singer bounced around in a do-rag and gold chains, I couldn’t help but admire the new band and their seemingly quick ascent to mainstream popularity. It’ll be interesting to see which direction the band chooses to go in next.

Promptly after The Neighborhood ended their set, the Newcastle, England-based band Maximo Park took the stage. This was their last show as part of a short North American stint in support of their fourth album The National Health.

The band was in top form. Paul Smith, the effervescent frontman of the group, jumped across the stage commanding the show with his presence as he danced, yelped, sang, shouted, and chatted along the way. The show could have easily entertained thousands of people rather than the smaller occupance of the El Rey (not a sold out show). It was a treat. The band performed music from The National Health alongside older, familiar songs to Maximo Park fans – “Girls Who Play Guitars” and “Apply Some Pressure.”

All in all, a good night!

Bloc Party – Four

This post is syndicated from Indie Shuffle.

Sounds like: Kele, Friendly Fires, Two Door Cinema Club, LCD Soundsystem, Gang of Four

What’s so good?

By  | August 21st, 2012

The critically acclaimed, indie rock quartet Bloc Party are back with an unexpected new sound on their first album in nearly seven years.

The debut Silent Alarm (2005) introduced the band’s punchy, shouty, “almost-dance-music-but-not-quite” style that was welcomed by the music community with open arms. In a post-millennial blur of UK bands like The Libertines, The Kooks, and Maximo Park, Bloc Party ran the pack of being just talented enough, just cheeky enough, and just unpretentious enough to suggest something new.

Their unpresumptuous and approachable style made it easy to connect with fans while solidifying relationships with young party promoters across the globe. This led the band to eventually finding — and owning — their righteous place in the burgeoning indie rock community. Whether it was lead-singer Kele Okereke’s unique vocals or “Matt the drummer” and his elevated drum technique, Bloc Party ran a cool factor that has always been completely unique and untouched by any other band.

As evident on each album in their discography, the band has always excelled at nailing and even forecasting particular trends in music. The first singles we heard all the way back in 2004 were simple melodies driven by staccato-laden lamentation – not dissimilar from bands like LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, and other Gang of Four-inspired groups also gaining momentum at the time. Their second album, Weekend in the City, was a nod to indie disco that continued to speak to the dance music crowd and indie hipster alike.

Fast-forward to now.

Four, the band’s first album since 2008’s electronic-heavy Intimacy, retains the sentiment. We hear Kele plunge deeply into lyrics surrounding fame, society, and relationships. The band goes on a relentless rock spree, gently acknowledging the resurgence of alt 90s rock and post-hardcore – without allowing it to take over their sound entirely.

The title track of the album, “Day Four,” is signature Bloc Party material. The listener hears steady drums, lilting, melodic vocals paired with soaring guitar and trembling bass. Other tracks like “We Are Not Good People” have the same listener double-checking the iTunes playlist to see if they’ve stumbled across an old Nickelback song.

While there are no immediate standouts, Four is a good listen. It’s well-rounded, confident, and a complete body of work that supports their natural evolution as a band, and growth as individuals.

Fellas – welcome back.