Saturday, December 24, 2005

Wolf Parade, No Need for Apologizing

The Band that Changed my Year

The utter simplicity of Wolf Parade’s catastrophically good music will blow you away, as it did to me when I first discovered the band in late July. I have said it before about Wolf Parade and I will say it again, these guys blow me away. It obviously doesn’t hurt to have a modern indie rock king over see every move you make on your debut album though.

If you didn’t know the genius behind Modest Mouse, Isaac Brock, he also may also be credited for Wolf Parade, and more than just an influence. Isaac Brock (front man, vocals, guitars, writing, Modest Mouse) was the lucky guy that discovered Wolf Parade in their homeland of Canada (close to his Seattle based home) and knew that the brash sounding quartet had more than just potential. Brock introduced Wolf Parade into their record label, Sub Pop (they had points on me with their label before I even heard their music) and then even decided to produce their 2005 debut album, Apologies To The Queen Mary.

Dan Boeckner, Spencer Krug, Hadji Bakara, and Arlen Thompson (the four men of Wolf Parade) almost, some might say, got off easy. Even before the four attracted the attention of Brock with their 4 track EP the first show that our lovely Canadian musician friends ever even played was opening for their twin-in-sound, the Arcade Fire, in a club in Canada, sometime in 2003 after they formed. It’s a good thing Canadians are so damn nice, cause without their kindness to each other I’m afraid some of my favorite bands such as Arcade Fire, New Pornographers, Broken Social Scene and even Wolf Parade themselves might not exist.

Now to move onto the actual album, released in early fall of 2005, Apologies to the Queen Mary. Fan favorite songs such as “You Are A Runner and I Am My Fathers Son” return off of their self-titled four track EP and new songs such as instant hit (and my favorite) “Fancy Claps”. Good songs that fans, like me, began to know such as “Disco Sheets” don’t return but in their absence so many new awesome tracks over load any void there would have been. This is my album of the year. My Father decided to go with My Morning Jacket – Z as his album pick from 2005 and, however good and continually
impressive Z may be, I am sticking with my new comers, Wolf Parade.

Songs like “Grounds for Divorce”, “I’ll Believe Anything” and “This Heart’s On Fire” really put life into the album. Wolf Parade has almost an awkward sound at first, but they put everything together so nicely their sound becomes irresistible. The droning and screeching vocals (which almost seems like gibberish sometimes, but believe or not Wolf Parade actually have good lyrics too), the buzzes, pops and cracks from the keyboards, the guitars echoing into your ear and leaving a riff stamped on your brain. Then the drums (that are so easy, kick drum 1,2 and then massive snare pounds to keep beat through the song; with the occasional cymbal smash) but they somehow don’t leave anything more to be desired. Truly a 5 star album.

On an ending note, this is the best album I have heard all year, it tops my favorites of the new Franz album and even Elevator which Hot Hot Heat impressively pumped out and Wolf Parade even beats Kaiser Chiefs for my favorite new band of the year. Wolf Parade is the best band to come out of nowhere this year. These guys have been pounding over my headphones and through out my speakers for the past 5 months and they just keep getting better with every listen. I can’t wait until they make a trip through Michigan so I can go and see them and then most likely meet them, because however good they are they remain brand new and I would be incredibly surprised if they were headlining. Still, JET used to open for Kings of Leon and then JET blew up and a lot of people still don’t know who the Kings are. If Isaac Brock isn’t careful I think a certain Wolf is going to gobble up a little Mouse, and reap all the benefits.

Friday, December 23, 2005

New Respect for AAR, New Bone to Pick with Rooney

Carla Couldn’t Do It

On Tuesday, December 21st 2005 I was dropped off at the usual drop point (a McDonald’s in Brighton, MI) where my sister Emily picked me up and of we drove to Detroit. That very night Emily and I were going to attend a concert. That the local paper of Detroit (the Free Press) as well as other sources (such as the usually incredibly reliable – the concert hot wire) had posted and printed that the set list at State Theatre on this very night was to be 1) The Academy Is… 2) Rooney and 3) The All-American Rejects.

Here is the first reason I was a little pissed, besides the fact that the heavily chlorinated pool of Lapeer’s Recreational Center had left my skin dryer than the Sahara and burning and itching when we got to the State Theatre something unexpected happened, the first of a few unexpected things to happen that night. I had been to the State for a short visit during the 89X birthday bash earlier in May (where such bands as Hot Hot Heat, The Blue Van, Tegan & Sara, Keane and The Killers played) and in my short stop at the State I had the impression that it was a very small venue, a pit with a small bar behind it. Little did I know there was a (quote, unquote Tyson Ritter of AAR) “Huge Ass Balcony." At least 200 yards going back up and up and up. My very kind mother had purchased tickets over the phone and put them on will call for my sister and me; Mom even played extra for the “better” seats. Emily and I were seated in about the fifth row from the back, at least 10 million feet away from the stage. I’m not quite sure how to describe the temperature of the State Theatre that night. As Trent of Pink is the New Blog said ( - more on that later) “It was slightly warmer than the 8th circle of hell.” And no words spoken were truer. Mind you, I was also literally sweating out chlorine... some people like the smell, Emily said she didn't mind but I still couldn't help feeling alittle self consious, as well as sorry for anyone around me.

Emily and I got there about a half hour late (later than indented) and when we arrived no band was on stage. We sat in our seats and thought it was odd that no band had come on yet. Then “The Academy Is…” took stage. Besides having one of the most ostentatious front man I have ever seen the Academy wasn’t that bad. Emily recognized such tunes as Classifieds (their previous single) and I recognized the song Checkmarks but I didn’t remember from where (later I would find out I knew it from Kyle’s itunes library) Before Academy left the stage the men from AAR came out and set up a table, with cards, beer and crackers right in the middle of the stage, right in the middle of Academy’s set. This was the last show of the very long tour the Rejects had this year, which Academy hosted with them. I have heard of the headlining band pulling the occasional prank on the opener, I’m not sure this was the case but whatever it was it was hilarious. AAR then flipped the table making a humungous mess (all while The Academy Is… was playing) and then got a huge box full of nothing but packing peanuts and dumped them over every member. As well as emptying another box of what looked like flour, or sugar.

At the very tail end of their set the Academy announced their appreciation for the band that played first that night “This Is Me Smiling”. This is where Emily and I started to panic. We basically went to see Rooney, and we were already panicking that we may have missed them but now we were to assume that there were 4 bands playing? Our response to the obnoxious front man was simply a flabbergasted “what the hell?” Then he responded over the mic, “and next, the All-American Rejects! Thanks again Detroit we love you, see you next year!” Now I was really just vexed and about to bust a cap. “Where the hell is Rooney!?” Another duo of people in front of us demanded to know the same thing. What ended up happening is that, Rooney never showed. Someone said that it was because Rooney only toured with the Rejects on the southern half of the tour. Some said they simply did not show up and the Smiling band was added to the bill. Either way I was not pleased, I’m not sure whether Rooney had never planned on attending period or whether they stood up their fans. I wish I could ask Mr. Robert Carmine what the hell happened. I guess you have to look past it (which I did) and I was still looking forward to the All-American Rejects set.

The Rejects took the stage about a half hour later, opening with their new “smash-hit” single, “Dirty Little Secret”, but not after an important series of events occurred for my sister. In between The Academy Is… and AAR Emily got up to go and get a bottle of water (mind you it was at least 1000 degrees at this concert) and on the way back up to our ridiculously high seat in the balcony who does she see amongst us "balconeers", but Eric, who if you didn’t know is Trent’s (pink is the new blog rapidly becoming famous Trent) boyfriend. She asked Eric if he was who he was and he said yes and they got talking and he was relieved to see that my sister wasn’t just another drunken obsessive blog reader. Eric led my sister up to Trent and the moment Emily has been wishing for occurred, Emily met Trent, said their pleasantries and then the next day he even gave her a shout out on his blog. Emily was “stoked” to say the least.

She returned and the Rejects began to play, playing songs off their new album such as the title track “Move Along” and “11 p.m.” and old classic songs off the first record (one of my favorite cds) such as “Your Star”, “Paper Heart” and the old insanely famous for a few days “Swing, Swing”. The show was awesome, and eve though Rooney stood me up I was delightfully surprised with the performance AAR gave me. Tyson (front man- vocals and bass) even came out in a Santa hat with a bottle of wine for the encore, as it was the last show of a long grueling tour. It was a good concert, and it’s always good to see a “punk” (I say that wearily as “true punk” is dead) band that is good live, cause the usual performance of a band of AAR’s caliber (such as My Chemical Romance or Fall Out Boy) usually isn’t pretty. But the fact remains, it was a great show and the Rejects were good, they made up for Rooney’s disappearance and definitely went up a notch in my book.

On the way home between “almost” getting lost (that really was Map Quests fault, and that was n the way there actually… really though, first Wikopedia then poll star now map quest… one site goes they all go. Its that time of season… you know... Christmas lights.) Emily also almost crashed into a snow bank before getting us back onto the freeway, but that’s not important. We were talking about previous shows and she was telling me of her adventures at the Tegan & Sara show (St. Andrews, 2 months ago) and I told her about the Spoon show that was there a few days later that I had to miss. The show was at St. Andrews, doors at 7, on October 27th, a Saturday. It seemed so perfect. But there were problems… My dad was up north with a family friend, Emily had a date, Tricia was in Detroit with her boyfriend, My Uncle was working… even Emily’s friend and ex-coworker, Carla, couldn’t do it. I was quite upset. But her and I saw Guster a month later and then the Rejects, so I couldn’t complain too much.

I suppose the moral of the story is, check at least five sources before you put tickets on will call for a total of 70 bucks. We could have been stuck with a horrible band, like maybe Nick Carter was scheduled to replace Rooney. We got lucky but remember, be safe, especially since it’s the holidays. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

She Wants Revenge

Rock the full house of 20 people at the Magic Stick, Detroit; 12/4/05

She Wants Revenge, another dark snyth-pop outfit whose sound is straight out of your favorite Joy Division record. Maybe throw in a little Echo & the Bunnymen, and even some new band sounds, such as Interpol and Elefant. Anything you want to call this band it won’t matter, cause they fact remains; they are damn good. Not to mention nice.

My friend David Rieves and I attended a She Wants Revenge show at the Magic Stick in Detroit, MI last Sunday (12/4). She Wants Revenge opened for the Lovemakers along with the band “Rock Kills Kid”. Although the Lovemakers were good as well, I personally feel that SWR should have been the headliner. No matter. I saw a great set by Justin and Adam 12.

Not only was their music good but also She Was Revenge had great stage presence. Not just trying to get the exact same sound as when the song was recorded but actually jamming a bit, adding a snyth here, replacing a keyboard snap with a guitar riff. It was a hell of a performance. Justin is just such s perfect specimen of a classic rock and roll star just to simply observe as well. Swaying gently to the nostalgic sound of mutilated guitar riffs over some R&B style drums and synthesizers attacking your ears, then when the beat picks up jolting into a sudden dance, ripping the microphone away from the stand and screaming his deeply brooding lyrics into the world while the audience just gets more into it. Then after the verse the front man casually puts the mic back on the stand and stands back and lets the guitar solo reign, continuing his casual sway and then snapping his fingers to keep the beat, then lighting a cigarette. One fan asks, “Can I have one?” and the kind Justin replies “Yes, you can, but I am not promoting them; cigarettes are bad for you and I am going to quit soon”.

I know that I, myself, originally standing there at the beginning of the set, went through a transformation as She Wants Revenge progressed. Going from a foot tap, to a head bob, to arms moving slightly at the waist, to then jumping around and swaying arms around madly screaming the words to “Red Flags and Long Nights”. Truth be told, my favorite song (Red Flags…) was only the first song of the set. If that gives you a message of hypnotic the beat of SWR is.

I met the men of She Wants Revenge (Justin, darkly dressed in his leather and Adam 12 seeming almost shy in his beanie and sweatshirt and conservative running shoes.) I met the two before just before their set, because they were selling their own merchandise. I love bands that do that; that is how you really get to know your fans, and what every band should do. I met Justin, we were talking about the SWR ep and I told him I already owned it (which I do, great 4 track) and then Adam walks up. The guys of She Wants Revenge were unbelievably cool and basically just nice. I will admit, at one point in our conversation Adam 12 asked me if I had ever been to California (we were talking about how damn cold it is in Michigan and how they aren’t used to it; Justin was bundled up through his whole set in a leather jacket, hooded sweatshirt with the hood up, a beanie and a scarf.) and I didn’t really hear what Adam said so I responded “Uhm, yeah I don’t know.” And he said, “Well you either have or you haven’t!” and I stumbled over myself even worse and said “Yeah. Well no. Maybe. Well… No.” They just laughed. Justin said come back after they played their set and we could all hang out and maybe give us some free shit. After the set I did speak to them, David and I both bought their Sister EP on vinyl as well as a t-shirt each. I did get some pins, not to mention the guys signed everything, including the free posters.

The venue wasn’t very full so that just gave me all the more time to talk with the guys. I would have to say it was one of the best experiences I have had, fun and exciting. Especially being able to meet someone you have been reading articles about and that makes music you love. Two of the coolest guys I have ever met, for sure. I can’t wait until they come back. She Wants Revenge was kind to me. Even to the X’s marked on my hands, signifying no drinks aloud. I am only 15. Later Adam 12 bought me a coke at the bar. How much nicer can two guys singing about girls “pleasuring” themselves with popsicles be?

For more on She Wants Revenge you can visit their official site-
As well as their my space site –