Sunday, August 15, 2010

Make a Pledge for Emmy the Great's New Album and Get Cool Swag

So Emmy the Great, one of my favourite artists from the past few years, is about to record a follow-up to 2009's stellar First Love. Studio and producer time is expensive, especially for independent musicians, so fans now have the opportunity to guarantee the release of a new album and to relieve any guilt that came from downloading First Love instead of buying it. Plus, you are rewarded for your pledges with rather interesting gifts. Autographed album for £12? Watch a rehearsal gig for the next tour for £50? Hang out with Emmy backstage at Bestival and interview artists for WaterAid (all money for this particular pledge goes to WaterAid) for £150? Songwriting workshop for £100? And did I mention that a portion of all proceeds go to charity? For some items, such as the aforementioned Bestival hookup, all money goes to a charity. Support worthy charitable causes and help fund a new Emmy the Great album? What are you waiting for?

Click here to pledge to Emmy the Great

If I can't convince you, maybe this charming video will:

Friday, July 16, 2010

In Case You Missed It: Another "Cymbal Rush"

So last month at the 40th anniversary edition of Glastonbury, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood performed a secret set for the massive crowd of fans that found the rumors too compelling to ignore. During the nine-song set, the breathtaking and apparently versatile "Cymbal Rush" from Yorke's The Eraser was given yet another live interpretation. When performed at the Radiohead gigs in 2008, Thom Yorke took the stage alone at the piano. While not as different as Atoms for Peace's funky, tribal performance of the song, this new take benefits from Greenwood's French Connection, giving the already spell-binding song an added layer of eeriness.

So what's your favourite?

Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood at Glastonbury:

Atoms for Peace in Boston:

Thom Yorke (minus the rest of Radiohead) at the Santa Barbara Bowl in 2008:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

So I Went to Glastonbury 2010

Last year I went to Glastonbury and loved it so much, despite the overwhelming nature of the fest, the weather, and the toll it all takes on the mind and body, that I just had to return this year. Read my formal review of Glastonbury 2010 here. For a recap, here is a far-more detailed account of last year's adventure.

How did they compare? Sadly, I got sick by Wednesday night due to the stress involved with getting there and setting up, plus breathing in all that dust, and those extreme drops in temperature between day and night. Yes, I had to go to the onsite emergency room and was prescribed antibiotics for my chest and sinus infection. I only got to have one cider the entire time. Life isn't fair.

But besides this, it was the best Glastonbury yet. The Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood performance and the Jarvis Cocker DJ set elevated a great lineup to the level of amazing, the artwork was better than ever, the weekend was full of Glastonbury moments that will be remembered for years, and the boiling heat and impenetrable cloud of dust gave us all a newfound appreciation for the rain and mud of previous years.

Some more photos:

Brothers Cider!

Massive crowd for England vs Slovenia

Sunset at Stone Circle is nice.



Every kind of craft imaginable is available at Glastonbury, and then some.

Best thing ever.

Our Father who art in Dublin, Bono be thy name...

A replica of Stonehenge made out of glowing cubes of light. This was a performance space, too.

The Rabbit Hole, an Alice in Wonderland-themed tent with "secret" tunnels that lead to all sorts of other places and venues, even a cinema. Sadly, I did not discover them all, but I got to see Jarvis Cocker dj here. Only at Glastonbury!

Scrapping plans to see Florence + the Machine, get a good dinner, and stake out a spot for Gorillaz in order to see if the Thom Yorke secret set rumours were true was the best decision ever. Jonny Greenwood was there, too!

Arcadia's amazing laser-firing, flame-spewing mega-stage monstrosity.

Dog-Faced Geisha Bar, and a bunch of tentacle-themed cartoons. Only at Glastonbury...and Japan.

Glastonbury has a Spiegeltent, and like everything else at the festival, it's a bar.


Drum Machine. Very fun. If you did a good job playing it, it would say "the machine is happy" and you could hear every little thing you did, even with several others also doing their own thing at the same time. The best art is of the interactive variety.

Say no to crack.

Sunrise at Stone(d) Circle, aka the laughing gas capital of the world.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Who Could Replace U2 at Glastonbury?

According to official sources, Bono just had emergency back surgery, putting the upcoming U2 tour in jeopardy, most notably their headlining performance at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts. While rescheduling other tour dates is sure to be a logistical nightmare with baseball and football in the equation, Glastonbury only happens one weekend a year, with a fallow year every five years or so, so it doesn't have that luxury. Back surgery is a serious procedure, and with the performance less than five weeks away, will there be enough time to make a full recovery? Playing Glastonbury is important to the band and Bono will want to give it his best, so if there's a significant chance he won't have fully recovered and rehabilitated by then, cancellation seems likely. Official word either way is expected next week.

If U2 does have to cancel, what act would fill in for them? Specifically, what artist is both able and willing?

Why? Would be the best thing to ever happen.
Why not? Still not reunited.

The Libertines
Why? Pete Doherty is a Glasto favourite.
Why not? Exclusive to Reading/Leeds.

David Bowie
Why? Previously rumored, everybody wants to see Bowie.
Why not? Hasn't played live in over five years, isn't going to start now.

Rolling Stones
Why? Previously rumored, have never played, superstars.
Why not? Still not on tour.

Paul McCartney
Why? No gig scheduled that day.
Why not? A performance at Millennium Stadium on Saturday and Hard Rock Calling on Sunday would mean three shows in three days, something acts of that caliber don't do.

Pearl Jam
Why? Popular, never played.
Why not? Playing Hard Rock Calling that night.

Why? Silenced naysayers when he headlined in 2008.
Why not? Too soon for a return.

The Prodigy
Why? Touring but currently no gig on that day.
Why not? Played last year.

Arcade Fire
Why? Popularity went through the roof thanks to phenomenal live shows, just like U2 in the 80's.
Why not? Glasto would be their first live show in ages, plus they already sold out to Reading/Leeds exclusivity.

Why? Headlining Roskilde the following weekend, legend, has never played Glastonbury, would be as impressive of a booking as U2.
Why not? Famously difficult to book, and would he agree to being broadcast on the BBC?

Lady Gaga
Why? No performances scheduled that weekend, no issues with exclusivity at any competing festivals.
Why not? Performed in 2009 and already received an incomprehensible amount of media attention over it.

Why? Was rumored late last year, beloved pop star, husband famously headlined in 2008.
Why not? Would be a controversial choice even under normal circumstances.

Why? No gigs scheduled that weekend, Mos Def and Snoop Dogg will already be playing.
Why not? Damon Albarn headlining two years in a row?

Why? The other major contender for best live act in the world. Their previous headlining sets were pure magic.
Why not? Recording next album.

Atoms for Peace
Why? Atoms for Peace have yet to appear in Europe.
Why not? Despite their popularity, they aren't billed as a headliner at other fests. Thom might be too busy recording at the time.

The Chemical Brothers
Why? Strongly rumored for months, still rumored despite a debunk from Emily Eavis, still tweeting about being at Glastonbury, only to delete them. A live show with a full production on the Pyramid is a proven crowd-pleaser.
Why not? Already an excess of big electronic acts closing out their respective stages on Friday night.

Why? Were rumored for a secret set in 2009, then were rumored to open the fest in 2010. While neither of these rumors panned out, maybe there was something to them. Michael Eavis recently said they might play next year. Chris Martin is a noted U2 fan.
Why not? Not currently touring, although it wouldn't take long for them to get ready for another show.

Kings of Leon
Why? Playing Hyde Park the following week, no gigs scheduled during Glasto.
Why not? Too soon, V Festival two months later may or may not be a factor.

Rolf Harris
Why? Hugely popular among Glastonbury punters, so much that police had to block off the dangerously overcrowded Jazzworld area during his set last year.
Why not? Will an early-in-the-day nostalgic novelty work as well at the end of the night?

Dizzee Rascal
Why? Even more popular than when he performed last year, and it would not be the first time a pre-headling act on the rise gets promoted to headliner (Pulp filling in for Stone Roses in 1995).
Why not? Major difference in popularity between Dizzee Rascal and U2.

The Flaming Lips
Why? The Flaming Lips live show is made for festivals, and the Other Stage headliner (Basement Jaxx) filled in when Kylie Minogue had to cancel in 2005.
Why not? Also a significant difference in popularity between them and U2.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Recent album reviews

I've reviewed some albums recently, including an underrated gem from 2001, so keep reading and enjoy listening.

Pulp - We Love Life

Booka Shade - More!

Stereophonics - Keep Calm and Carry On

Karen Elson - The Ghost Who Walks

Original content will return to Simply Fuss Free sometime this weekend. It will be worth the wait, I promise.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Thom Yorke's Atoms for Peace - 4/5 Roseland Ballroom

I recently had the great fortune of seeing Atoms for Peace with Flying Lotus in New York. Read all about it here.

Videos of "The Daily Mail", untitled new song, "Harrowdown Hill", "And It Rained All Night", and the aftermath of the explosion coming in 720p whenever youtube stops failing out all my upload attempts even though they go up to 100% and sit at "processing" for hours and hours every time.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The History of Onsite Camping at Coachella

When onsite camping was introduced in 2003, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival cemented its status as America's premier destination music festival. Prior to 2003, limited offsite lodging in the surrounding area meant fewer people could feasibly travel for the festival. With onsite camping, not only did thousands more visitors have an affordable place to stay, but also the foundation was set for the growth of the festival itself. For many, the labor involved with setting up and taking down one's camping gear makes attending only one day a bit of a waste, and with thousands of people coming from out of town and spending the entire weekend at the Empire Polo Club, logic dictates that camping was instrumental in Coachella becoming a three-day festival.

While onsite camping has always been cleaner and more comfortable than its European influences like Glastonbury, with its shower trailers and well-maintained portable toilets, it has evolved over the years just as the festival itself. The campgrounds were originally located across the street from the festival site in the lot south of the giant white structure that first-timers often mistake for the Sahara tent when driving down Monroe Street. Thanks to a legendary lineup featuring Radiohead, Kraftwerk, and the first announced Pixies reunion show, demand for camping drastically increased in 2004 as thousands more came from all over the world for this shining moment in live music history, and once the ticket supply for this "Camping Lot A" depleted, a second lot was added that also sold out before the big weekend arrived.

The inflatable movie screen made its debut in 2005.

Onsite bar with karaoke on Thursday nights and breakfast in the mornings.

Now that Coachella had become a household name, camping moved to one large lot directly adjacent to the festival grounds in 2005. Onsite camping in 2005 featured the introduction of an inflatable movie screen, a karaoke bar, and free raffle prizes. While the convenience of not having to commute in the morning traffic was enough to entice many to arrive the night before, these bonuses served as special rewards for arriving early. Most people still drove to the festival every day, so having a significant number of people off the road helped ease traffic.

Coachellians dancing along to the beat of butchered classics.

Camping remained mostly the same in 2006, with the notable exception of an internet lounge sponsored by Dodge. This lounge featured computers available for free internet access, wi-fi, XBox 360 gaming, and lockers for securing laptops and other valuables during the weekend. Free internet returned in 2007 and has remained ever since, just in a different location, without the Dodge sponsorship, and now with outlets for cell phone charging.

The first internet lounge in 2006.

Although several new additions became part of the camping experience in 2008, the only one that returned in subsequent years was the availability of onsite lodging. Accommodations in onsite lodging were in safari tents and included amenities such as beds, air conditioning, golf cart rides to the festival, and backstage access. Lodgings were also available in pre-pitched regular tents that came with the usual sleeping bags and pillows. The tents are no longer pre-pitched in 2010, but still offer a viable alternative to checking a lot of luggage when flying to Coachella. Onsite camping in 2008 also featured Laserium, a laser show set to the music of Pink Floyd, and Coachella Express, a free train ride from downtown Los Angeles to Indio.

On Coachella Express, traveling in style was redefined as attendees drank Corona's and danced in the aisles to live DJ's like Junkie XL, made new friends and hookups, cheered when passing the iconic desert windmills, received free shirts, ice cream, and VIP upgrades, and were greeted at the temporary Amtrak station with shuttles transporting them directly to the campgrounds, where their gear was already waiting for them. Unfortunately, Coachella Express proved to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Even with a midnight curfew, the party never truly stops festivals like Coachella, Glastonbury, and Bonnaroo and in 2009, this phenomenon was enforced by the addition of a special dome featuring late-night sets by acts such as Flying Lotus for everyone camping onsite. Late-night sets will return this year, and it is currently unannounced if the "Pavillion at the Heart of the Coachella Campgrounds" will be the same dome and location as in 2009, and no acts seem to be playing on Thursday night this time.

The 2010 latenight sets.

Left to their own devices, even the Coachella attendees have evolved over the years. Fans of acts like Radiohead, Arcade Fire, and Depeche Mode have organized unofficial sub-camps, and other large camping groups that have formed over the years on the Coachella messageboard include "Party All Weekend" and "Camping All Alone/Solo at the Polo." In addition to camping groups, Coachella fans have proven their creativity and sense of adventure by taking it upon themselves to put on parades, spontaneous all-night singalongs, live music, and even slip-and-slides.

A small drum circle rapidly expanded to a mob of hundreds singing and partying all night.

Onsite camping at Coachella is about to experience its biggest change yet in the form of car camping. Eight thousand vehicles will be able to camp onsite, with no limit to the number of people per vehicle, and these $55 tickets sold out last week and have been scalped for over $800 on ebay. The car camping announcement of car pleased many, as hauling loads of camping gear across the fields is now thing of the past, and now several people can share a camping ticket and save money. Additionally, cars make it easier to lock away valuables during the day. However, some have been less than enthusiastic, primarily due to the new restriction on driving in and out of Coachella throughout the weekend and not being able to save a car camping spot for a friend arriving later. To help address these concerns, a companion parking lot with limited space will be available for campers meeting up with friends that arrived before them.

Besides the major fundamental changes, the added bonuses to the camping experience will be better than ever this year. A roller skating rink would be available to campers in what must be a first not just for Coachella but any festival. Keeping in line with this new retro theme, a pinball tournament with prizes will also be at the campgrounds at night. Festival goers will now have more outlets for their creativity besides elaborate camp setups and activities with the Coachella Art Studio, offering a wide variety of crafts ranging from wood shop to mushroom and zine creation.

Although details such as cost and hours are forthcoming, a shuttle to the nearby Ralphs will be available to campers for the first time this year. This shuttle to the local supermarket, with Mexican and Italian restaurants in the same shopping center, seems to be a response to concerns over not being able to leave the campgrounds until the festival is over. Even without a shuttle, campers will have a local farmers market onsite for the first time, in addition to the numerous food vendors people have come to expect over the years. After all, as Goldenvoice continues to find ways to evolve and innovate with Coachella, even in camping, what else can people truly expect year after year besides quality service and the formation of the fondest of memories?

Camping Trivia:
  • Instead of traditional event security, campers were searched upon checking into the grounds by local police in 2004.
  • Camping passes sold out in 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2010.
  • Safari tents were available for rental beginning in 2008.
  • Ready-to-go packages featuring tents, sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets were introduced in 2008.
  • The official Coachella site listed a surprise performer as being one of the bonuses for early bird campers in 2005, but was removed from the site a couple weeks before the festival. For whatever unstated reason, it didn't happen, and the most prevalent rumors were Beck and Queens of the Stone Age.
  • Raffle prizes have included VIP upgrades, camping ticket refunds, CD's, and a meet and greet with Depeche Mode.
  • The campgrounds are close enough for soundchecks to be fairly audible, and campers have been treated to hearing some music from acts like Portishead, Kraftwerk, Prince, Paul McCartney, and Rage Against the Machine before everyone else.
  • What movies were on the inflatable screen? Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in 2005, Coachella in 2006, and The Song Remains the Same in 2007.
  • It was originally listed on the official site in 2004 that campers were to be assigned to specific spots of 50 square feet after signing in and leaving their name and contact information, but this did not happen until 2005. In 2007, the sign-in process was eliminated and camp counselors directed people to whichever spots were available in the areas being filled at that time.
  • Campers have had a separate entrance since the beginning. However, in 2005 and 2006, most people did not seem to know where it was, since the closest entrance to the campgrounds was actually the main entrance for everyone else. The camping and VIP entrance was past the trailers for will call tickets, and veterans from 2003-04 knew where to find it. In 2007, the camping entrance became incorporated with the campsite itself.
  • The price of camping in 2004? $25, plus surcharges.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Can We Please Have a Moratorium on New Hallelujah Covers

See that? Great, huh? Well, unless you're John Cale, Jeff Buckley, or Rufus Wainwright, you're probably going to ruin the song, so leave it alone.

How far as a society have we fallen to go from this...

to this...

An Open Letter to All Musicians: Stop Covering Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"

Can I get an amen? Or perhaps a hallelujah? Just not another unnecessary cover.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Interview with Asobi Seksu's Yuki Chikudate and James Hanna

When Asobi Seksu turned away from swirling guitar noise for a gentler, dreamier sound with 2009's Hush, they still maintained an expertise at crafting richly layered and textured soundscapes. With the acoustic album Rewolf, Asobi Seksu continue to defy shoegaze-pigeonholing and reveal that underneath the layers lie melodies that are strong enough to stand out on their own on these stripped-down reinventions. During their recent acoustic tour, vocalist and simultaneous player of the glockenspiel and toy piano Yuki Chikudate, and guitarist James Hanna sat down to chat about what to expect from their next album, Dumpster diving, and even their Spinal Tap moment.

What inspired the decision to record Rewolf?
Yuki Chikudate: Well, we were reluctant, but our label guy in the UK, Derrick Birkett of One Little Indian, it was his brainchild, it was his baby; he really wanted us to do it and we're really glad that he, you know, encouraged us to do it and set it up and he booked us up at Olympic Studios in London..
James Hanna: One day on our day off during the UK tour.
Yuki: Yeah, on our day off.
James: With Ladytron.
Yuki: Yeah it was the Ladytron tour, that's true. And it was just really great. I'm glad that he had that idea because then Olympic Studios closed right after we went in there, so it ended up being a pretty special day, so that was why Rewolf was made and why we're on this acoustic tour.

So what are you listening to while on the road for this tour?
Yuki: Silence.
James: We've had silence and we can't find our thing to hook up the iPod to the car. I left it in California, so we've had a lot of silence.
Yuki: Did you really forget it?
James: I don't know. Or maybe I threw it in a bag.
Yuki: I mean, this is coming from a person who dropped...he thought he lost his keys to the car and was convinced that he'd thrown it in a Dumpster. So he's about to climb in the Dumpster and jump in. Okay, we're like "before you do that, let's look a little bit more because that is a decision that is going to affect all of us." (laughs)
James: I wasn't going to go in the Dumpster.
Yuki: I know.
James: I was peering over the edge...
Yuki: Oh, okay. Well, we were scared that maybe you were going to go in.
James: Just because we had a flight and it was like three o'clock in the morning, that was the only reason I was considering the Dumpster. I don't know, we've really been listening to regular stuff. We did Pet Sounds in the car; we listened to the whole thing.
Yuki: Really? Was I asleep?
James: You were asleep. We listened to real classic stuff. George Harrison - All Things Must Pass all the way through.
Yuki: Really, where was I?
James: Just conked out.
Yuki: I love that album. I missed out, apparently. Okay, when we were home for four days I listened to a lot of Shugo Tokumaru, which is great, I love that album [Exit]...yeah, the first song "Parachute", it makes me so happy, it's great. And Snapper. We listened to a lot of Snapper for a while. And you were listing to a lot of Dead Sea.
James: I was listening to a lot of Dead Sea.
Yuki: Yeah, all right. And Larry [Gorman] listens to a lot of everything, our drummer, he just...
James: A little big on Joe Jackson recently.
Yuki: (laughs) That's true, that's true. And Billy [Pavone] has been listening to a lot of Air.
James: He always listens to Air.
Yuki: Always.
James: Air and Grizzly Bear.
Yuki: I mean, I love Air, I do, and I love Grizzly Bear, but...
James: He's killing it for us.
Yuki: He's killing it. He's got to move onto something else.

Nowadays, more and more people are downloading music for free and record sales are plummeting every year, but your recent fundraiser on Kickstarter was a success. What is your take on this apparent contradiction?
James: I don't know, I think it's a really cool model. I mean, we need to find...we need to find a new way, a new system. It's definitely a transitional stage because you can't keep going the way things are going 'cos no one's making any money and everybody's touring eight months a year and is going to have a nervous breakdown. (Yuki laughs) But there has to be some system where fans contribute to the band, and it seems cool, actually. I don't think we were reluctant to do it. We didn't want to seem like we were, I don't know, we didn't want to be opportunists about it or something.
Yuki: Right.
James: But actually, it worked out really well.
Yuki: It really did actually fund our tours, you know. We really couldn't have done the White Lies tour in England and this tour that we're on now, the acoustic tour without that Kickstarter fundraiser. So we're really grateful that there is that new format for us to connect with fans and have them support us. And I really have faith in music fans; I don't think that they don't want to support the music. It's just that I think that the way they support it is changing, and that's fine. We have to figure out a good way where we can communicate and work with both sides.
James: As long as it's easier to steal something than buy something, everyone's going to steal it. It's actually a lot less effort to steal.
Yuki: It's just harder when there's no stores for people to go to.

Do you plan on doing another acoustic tour?
Yuki: I think this is it. I mean, I...
James: In a few years.
Yuki: Yeah? Okay. Yeah, you're right. I don't want to say definitely, but this was, for now anyway, a one-time special deal. We're just surprised that people wanted to see it.
James: Every show's, well...
Yuki: Yeah, can't speak too soon.
James: Well, let's say every show has been good. One bad one.
Yuki: It happens.
James: It happens to the best of us.
Yuki: It happens. But...what was the question again?
James: Are we doing it again.
Yuki: Oh, are we doing it again? I don't know, I mean, ideally we'd like to incorporate some of the elements of what we did tonight into our regular show. To be able to have more dynamics, more nuances, more subtlety would be great to be able to just vary what we do is kind of our goal. But for now..
James: If we do it again, I'm growing a mustache again
Yuki: Oh fuck. (laughs)

Recently on Facebook, you posted that the show at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City was your favorite. Is there a particular reason for that, and what's the worst show?
James: The worst show is so...
Yuki: I like that you jumped to the negative first.
James: Last night was just a good vibe. I thought it's the best show we've ever done.
Yuki: I don't know what it was like for the audience, but for me and I guess I don't know for you or for the others, but for me, personally, it was just my favorite because it was a hometown crowd, for one. And it just felt special, and I don't know what else to say. I don't know how we sounded, but it just felt really great and the fans are just so loving.
James: It's very flattering to sell out a decent sized venue playing acoustic; it felt really good.
Yuki: The acoustic tour in general has been such a great way for us to connect with the audience and connect with our fans, and I'm just seeing how passionate and loyal our fans are. We love our fans so much. They've supported us for so long, for so many years, and I feel like this is a great way for us to have a more personal relationship with our fans.
James: Yeah, we actually talk to the audience.
Yuki: (laughs) Instead of just like (makes explosion sound) which is great, too. And that's fun, too.
James: We'll be back there.
Yuki: Oh yeah, we're not going to give that up just yet, but this is just another side of us, and I feel like it's nice to have that intimate, more personal setting. Oh, and our worst show ever, right? There's so many. I know...I know mine.
James: Go ahead.
Yuki: It was very early on; it was on Long Island and it was at a...
James: Puppet show.
Yuki: (laughs) Well, it was a Spinal Tap moment because there was a community play, and they were putting on Little Shop of Horrors, and they still had the backdrop, and the fucking talking plant on the stage.
James: It was our third or fourth show ever.
Yuki: And we had to play in front of that to really confused Long Island children.
James: We put a moratorium on Long Island shows.
Yuki: Yeah, we were like "okay, that's the end of that." I mean, there were other weird ones, for sure, like when we were in New Orleans and this trucker was like "y'all play Chinese rock and roll music?"
James: That show wasn't that bad.
Yuki: No it wasn't.
James: The show was kind of fun.
Yuki: Okay, I guess I just remember that I was kind of scared.
James: We're Chinese rock and roll!
Yuki: (laughs) Apparently! Apparently KC the truck driver in New Orleans thinks that we're Chinese rock and roll.

So what's next for Asobi Seksu?
James: Make a new record.
Yuki: Yeah, this is it for a while tourwise, and we're just going to go home and work on a new record.
James: A few gigs here and there.
Yuki: Yeah, we might go to Indonesia; that'd be cool.
James: That would be sick.
Yuki: We're just not going to say much about it and not going to think about it too much until it becomes official. Because I don't want to get excited and have it canceled. It happened already, it got canceled once.

Will the next album be a further exploration of the softer side of Asobi Seksu or a return to noisier roots? Both? Neither?
James: Both. We're ready to rock again a little bit. I got a little rock back in me.
Yuki: Apparently he has a little rock back in him. (laughs)

A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll?
James: Yeah...
Yuki: Yeah, well, no no no.
James: Actually, we don't know what the hell we're going to do.
Yuki: No, well..
James: Tell the truth.
Yuki: The truth is...
James: We don't know.
Yuki: Okay, we don't know for sure, but we are ready to make some more noise. We are excited about textures and loud guitars.
James: All that stuff. Yeah, back on guitar.
Yuki: We're not going acoustic or anything.

So what hopes and goals do you have for the next decade?
James: I can't think about ten years, that's my answer. I can't think about that. I'm just trying to make the next record and see how that goes.
Yuki: I know. I'm not very good at looking past the next couple of days to be honest.
James: I want to get from this place that we just played to our hotel, being outside as little as possible. That's my goal.
Yuki: True, true. And not getting frostbite, that'd be good. And eating some food would be nice.
James: Eat some food quickly, get to the hotel.
Yuki: Yeah, those are our goals. Your goals have to be very small when you're in a band. Baby steps, baby steps. But it would be great if for the next ten years we could just continue to do this and tour.
James: Make music.
Yuki: Yeah, make music.

Photos from Asobi Seksu's show at Cafe 939's Red Room in Boston:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Adventurous Coachella 2010 Lineup Shatters Predictions

With Jay-Z, Muse, and Gorillaz topping the bill, the 2010 edition of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival marks a departure from the recent model of a stadium-filling legend like Madonna, Prince, Roger Waters, or Paul McCartney on the bill to its youth-oriented roots. After having already headlined the largest festivals in Europe, Muse comes as a new and welcome addition to the short list of acts from the past decade that can actually headline a festival. Does anyone still question if Jay-Z, the biggest hip hop artist in the world, could or should headline a rock festival after he already silenced naysayers with his controversial headlining set at Glastonbury? Most surprising is Gorillaz, for their last tour consisted of multiple nights in New York and London, but nowhere else. Considering the probable logistical nightmare of securing a wide variety of special guests to join Damon Albarn and company on-stage, this just might be the only Gorillaz performance in the US this year. In any case, all eyes will be on Gorillaz on Sunday night, and nobody knows what to really expect.

The mid-tier of acts for the 2010 lineup appears to be larger and more diverse than ever. Recent breakthrough acts like LCD Soundsystem, Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, MGMT, Grizzly Bear, and She & Him are all playing, as are supergroup Them Crooked Vultures, Jack White's latest project The Dead Weather, and Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke's solo outing. If anyone can get away with touring a solo album four years after its release and demanding to be billed with four question marks attached to his name, it's Thom Yorke. Joining them are less contemporary surprises including disco legend Grace Jones in a rare performance, Echo & the Bunnymen, Devo, and Gary Numan.

If any festival is not about the headliners, it is Coachella, and this is more true than ever in 2010. Included in the lineup are several reunions and rare acts that are touring for the first time in years, or ever. The unfathomably-influential indie rock band Pavement and 2 Tone ska legends The Specials will be doing their first American reunion shows at Coachella, as will the recently reunited Faith No More, Public Image Limited, and Orbital. Most surprising is the presence of Sly and the Family Stone on the lineup. The genre-defining funk/soul legends are the kind of completely out-of-left-field surprise Goldenvoice is renowned for making happen and are the first Woodstock veterans to ever appear at Coachella.

Additionally, the Empire Polo Club will be host to the only 2010 performance of Fever Ray, the solo project of Swedish electronic duo The Knife's Karin Dreijer Andersson. Like The Knife, Fever Ray is another act that has done only a literal handful of performances in America, and getting her to come back for one last show is a major coup. Coachella also will feature the first festival performance from Charlotte Gainsbourg, as part of the first ever tour from the French actress and singer. Considering Gainsbourg's busy schedule with films, it would be unwise to expect another tour anytime soon, as she did not tour for her 2006 release 5:55, a collaboration with Air, Jarvis Cocker, Neil Hannon, and Nigel Godrich. Considering how Beck co-wrote and produced Gainsbourg's IRM and lives in Los Angeles, will he join her band on-stage? Other inspired bookings include electro dj supergroup Club 75, Sigur Rós frontman Jonsi, Richie Hawtin's Plastikman alias, and most randomly, DJ Lance Rock of Nickelodeon's Yo Gabba Gabba, a favorite among children and stoned adults.

This year's edition of Coachella offers top-notch talent from top to bottom and not only bring something for every type of music fan but also gives the opportunity to see acts that cannot be seen elsewhere. Will the absence of a boomer headliner affect attendance? How in the world will the set times allow everyone to see all those rare and unique acts, especially on Sunday? Can the city of Indio please allow the festival to run all night? Instead of attempting to predict the future, it is better to simply have faith in the most forward-thinking major festival in the US.

Stay tuned for future posts on which acts in the small print are not to missed and why.