Monthly Archives: August 2007

Big Screen Indie

As part of the continuing August gigs extravaganza I’ve seen two great American Indie bands, both of whom gained plenty of fame last year for contributing large potions of soundtracks for films that I completely failed to get around to seeing. First off was Spoon, who I came across via the excellent yet sadly cancelled US TV seriesVeronica Mars where they used their excellent I Turn My Camera On as backing to some late night telephoto snooping scenes, which was also used in the trailer for and actual soundtrack of the film Stranger Than Fiction.

Their set was lengthy, nearing two hours, and focussed largely on their most recent album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga which I have enthused over before. However, they played lots of their earlier hits, and I’ve become completely besotted with Kill The Moonlight, one of their earlier albums thanks to their stunning live versions of Stay Don’t Go and Paper Tiger, and they opened with a great version of Small Stakes. Their whole sound is very tightly produced but their live act replicates and improves on almost all of it. Though I was disappointed that they didn’t play The Ghost Of You Lingers they did do a great You Got Yr Cherry Bomb even without horns.

In the days after I started listenning a lot to the music of Devotchka wondering to myself if when I saw them live they could possibly make their sound even approach the rich sound of their albums. I realised early on that unless they had some kind of virtuoso violin/accordion player, crazy drummer/trumpet player, powerful bass/sousaphone player and manic front man there wouldn’t be much chance of that. (you can guess that this is my kind of band already, can’t you?). However, from the very first bar of their theme song, Devotchka, it was clear that they were every bit the swaggering act you’d expect of a band that started as a backing troupe for the likes of Dita Von Teese.

There sadly aren’t many videos around online or live concert recordings that come close to capturing the experience of seeing Devotchka live, though this capture of them performing We’re Leaving (which I think was first encore) is not far off. I think they pull off bringing in Balkan and other eastern folk influences far better than Beirut or Gogol Bordello, though Beirut at least is always fun if a tad earnest.

How It Ends was easily their crowd pleaser of the evening, though I have a massive love for Queen Of The Surface Streets if only for having the lyric “that’s when I love the accommodations in a urine smelling transit station”. I’m simple that way.

And I haven’t even mentioned how well their singer plays the Theremin.

They Might Be Geeky

There’s a really good two part interview with John Flansburgh (of They Might Be Giants) over at GearLog which lets him ramble over all kinds of technical topics. Most interesting of all is his talk of the early days of dial-a-song, their pre-answering machine phone service allowing their fans (and just the curious) to call and hear their latest songs. Kind of a proto-myspace.

The thing that was interesting doing Dial-a-Song was that we could find an audience in the daytime. They could experience our music at their jobs, on the phone.

Fog lifts


photo by Mr November (CC Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0)

I went to see Fog play their only UK gig for their new album Ditherer last week at The Luminaire (a rather nice venue in Kilburn). It was a really good evening, with some especially strange support from Napoleon 3rd and Team Brick. Both of whom were interesting and pretty damn fun, I certainly have the line

This is not my life, it’s just my day job.
The way I pay the rent

still stuck in my head from Napoleon IIIrd’s Hit Schmooze For Me. It was an evening of indie worker boy anthems.

You can stream the whole album here, in fact you bloody well should. It’s great!

It’s easy to capture how Fog’s sound has evolved on the album opener We Will Have Vanished where the song seems split into three even thirds lasting ninety seconds which build slowly up to a chaotic and complex arrangements. However, unlike in previous outings where there would be structures of pop songs giving way to free-er jazzier arrangements there is much more thought here (for once these songs were extensively demo’d) and thus each song hangs together in a way that earlier works didn’t Obviously there’s some loss of the organic and sparse genius that made much earlier Fog so intriguing but it does make the whole thing about three times more rocking and twice as memorable.

Might just be my album of the year, at least until Misty’s Big Adventure’s new record appears. Go and listen!

And if you want further reading, MusicOMH have a reasonable review and there’s a great interview with Andrew Broder (essentially Fog until recently) at Audiversity.