Archive for the 'Indie' Category

05
Jun
12

Dan Stiles – New updated concert posters for sale!

As many of our HiFi readers have known, we are huge collectors of music poster art here at HiFi Central.  One of our favorite artists is the one and only Dan Stiles out of the Pacific Northwest, Dan’s posters are creative, vibrant, and original in their design and concept.  The best thing about his posters too are that they are all hand-pulled silkscreens in a limited edition and signed…oh, and also run around $25!

One of my favorites is the poster he did for a Midlake show in 2007; it’s limited to only 90 and still available on his website for a mere $24!!!!

If you want to learn more about Dan Stiles work and perhaps purchase one of his very cool prints for a super deal, check out his website at www.danstiles.com

Tell us if you grab one!

25
May
12

Chronic Future “Lines In My Face”

Another personal favorite of mine to catch the -itis. Chronic Future had one hit in the summer of 2004 with “Time and Time Again” but never sustained any type of popularity due to a terrible job of marketing, but more importantly, America’s growing taste for terrible music. I’m looking at you Beliebers.

But Chronic Future holds a special place in my heart for speaking out in an era of uncertainty in my younger life. Back in 2005 there were rumblings of a military draft to support the growing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most bands turned completely against government, military, and the troops.

The usual wartime rumblings of abuse, babykillers, and torture circulated and they began calling these two plights my generation’s Vietnam.

So, while yes I was terrified to see if our then-president was going to make a life decision for me, I felt that the soldiers in this conflict were getting the short end of the stick. Painted in a terrible public view, all while fighting “insurgents” with no real barometer for winning this war.

So while the outlash against the establishment raged in the usual punk circles. Chronic Future took a different approach. These were our friends giving life and limb in a country exactly halfway across the world where they baked in the desert all while our national media and pop-culture turned on them.

With songs like “Time and Time Again” and “Shellshocked” they reminded me that they were more than the average punk band.

They had a unique way of saying what everyone felt. Saying what I felt but couldn’t verbalize.

It’s still difficult for me to fathom. My respect for the people that make these sacrifices so you and I can go about our day like we always do. To be so against what they have to do, but support them for doing it. It’s a conundrum that gets lost on most people who just throw their friends, their family, into a group of soulless and heartless bastards because they carry a gun into someone else’s country.

These are our friends, these are our family. These are other peoples’ friends, their family
. They sacrifice years, limbs, life. Just so you can buy your coffee at Starbucks. Just so you can go shopping at the mall without the idea of it exploding ever entering your mind.

This weekend is for them. For those that come back to us less than they were. Those that come back stronger than they were. They have made the sacrifices that make our country so great for so long. Do not forget to thank them for what they’ve done for you, even if you haven’t noticed. You haven’t noticed, because they’re doing their job.

Happy Memorial Day everyone. Thank a troop this weekend.

28
Mar
12

AWOLnation “Megalithic Symphony”

AWOLnation is frontman Aaron Bruno, formerly of Under the Influence of Giants, Christopher Thorn, Hayden Scott, David Amezcua, and Kenny Carkeet. The band’s name was derived from Bruno’s inexplicable avoidance to say ‘goodbye’ to anyone, hence the term AWOL.

They are signed to Red Bull Records, after Red Bull offered Bruno some free studio time where he recorded a couple songs for the band’s first album Back From Earth

You’ve undoubtedly heard the first single from the album “Sail” all through last summer and fall. As this album was released in March 2011.

They have a unique mix of punk and electronic music that brings out the best of both worlds. They are what, to me, is a perfect amalgamation to be an appealing live show. No completely pre-recorded tracks *cough* Skrillex *cough* or a DJ just sitting there tapping buttons on a sound board with an Apple symbol burning into your forehead. This style preserves the uniqueness and fun that a live show should offer.

They are the epitome of what music has lost in the past decade of the digital revolution. Something that is embodied by the Foo Fighters (and probably why we still love them) and this carries over to AWOLnation as well. FUN.
Just having fun with what you’re doing, you make music, you’re not going to get Isreal and Palestine to drop their guns Bono. You’re not going to stop the killing in Sudan by standing outside an embassy in the USA George Clooney.

Somewhere along the way musicians forgot their place. You’re here to entertain us. You want to spend all that money you make off of album sales to help those people? Go ahead. But to preach to the public that WE need to do more is stupid, especially considering you don’t pay taxes in Ireland (of all places) U2.

Hypocrisy runs rampant when you make a ton of money and tell people to do more with theirs. Which is why the term “they sold out” permeates bands that we once held near and dear (yes, Green Day too.) Remember when they were just about having fun? Now we have to listen to “Jesus of Suburbia” yuck.

AWOLnation reminds me of a time when bands knew what they were their purpose was. That they were making a living traveling the globe and brightening peoples’ days. Megalithic Symphony is just that, an album that let’s you find meaning in your own way.

“Not Your Fault” is a perfect example of this. They took an opportunity to make a really heavy handed music video but took the road that seems to be cracked and unkempt. They had fun with it. So besides these two singles that’ve made waves on the charts, my favorite track has to be “People” as it gives a nice little gem that speaks to me as the problem with the world today:

We were born to rage
We’re the price of pain
We’re a single voice
We’re the second choice
We were born to rage

What happened to our passion and sticking together? Where is the next great revolution going to come from? What is the next big “movement” going to be? It feels like between the government and corporate America, we’ve lost the world that was once our oyster. That it feels nobody can change it, that the machine is just too big to throw a cog into. That’s what this song says to me and this is why punk rock will live on; even if the sound we remember from the 80’s and 90’s has changed.

I found something in Megalithic Symphony that I like. A different sound in a time where punk bands seem to be a dying breed. Where the next generation identifies more with electronic beeps and boops than they do lyrics that help them understand and derive answers to the world.

Bob Dylan is not amused.

4/5

21
Mar
12

Black Keys Boston Show Print – Dan McCarthy

If you have followed this blog in the past you are well aware of HiFi Centrals obsession with limited edition art created for rock bands.  Last year I ran a month long posting about “The Art of the Music Business” and highlighted several of my favorite prints and also the artists who have mastered and re-defined this medium.  Granted, rock art posters are nothing new we can thank the legendary Bill Graham for much of the popularity even today.

I’m a huge fan of The Black Keys and so is fellow blogger NYMike (read the prior post about his show review at Madision Square Garden).  One of my favorite artists is the guy out of Massachussetts named Dan McCarthy; my wife and I have several of his prints and he always seems to come up with fun and imaginitive designs consistently.  I happened to check out his website this morning and noticed that he created a print for a recent show (March 7th) at the TD Garden in Boston; apparently they were also on sale at the event as well.  Dan posted that he will have a limited amount available on his site later this month.

His prints usually sell around $40 and go quick, so check out www.danmccarthy.org to and see ifyou can snag yourself one when released.  Let us know if you get one too!

13
Mar
12

The Black Keys Live @ MSG

There comes a time when you know you’re seeing something special, in its prime. Like how America was captivated by the Home-Run chase of 1998, the Miracle on ice in the 1980 Winter Olympics, or the Beatles stepping off a plane in America to rabid fans…

that’s how Madison Square Garden felt last night. Everyone knows who they are, their blues attitude and their rock riffs. They are rock stars at their peak and they proved to the world’s most famous arena that this is where they belong. Loud and center stage. Both guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney know this fact. They came out and made no mistake, leading with Brothers’ “Howlin’ For You” instantly getting the crowd into a frenzy.

They continued with their supporting cast that helped make the new album El Camino, the fullest and most polished of their seven studio productions. But as they left the stage the Keys did something of an unexpected move when they went back to material from the early days of the band. They played the title track of their 2003 album Thickfreakness and “Girl is on my Mind” from their 2004 album Rubber Factory. Then into “Your Touch” from 2006’s Magic Potion and finally came back to their newest material.

They engaged the crowd, not in conversation or meaningless chit-chat, but spoke through claps and foot stomps, the universal language for anyone who adores rock and roll. They ended their set with a brilliant duo of “Tighten Up” and “Lonely Boy.”

After they left the stage and the lights fell dim, the crowd erupted to its loudest levels of the night. Begging for an encore and did we get it! In the dark two gigantic disco balls dropped from the ceiling and began spinning. The lights were turned back on and, no, it was no disco. Hearing them go through “Everlasting Light” with the entire arena awestruck at the genius of such a pun.

They ended their hour and a half show with “I Got Mine” and an illuminated sign:

The Black Keys

Rock. Stars.

The lights came back up, the crowd chanted and cheered for them, nobody rushed out Madison Square Garden, everyone lingered, buzzing about what might’ve been the greatest 90 minutes of music their ears have ever endured.

13
Dec
11

Mike Gordon show review: 12/11/11, Albany NY

Mike tunes up at the Egg

Isn’t it great when things turn out even more awesome than you ever expected? This is exactly what happened at the Egg in Albany on Sunday night, as Mike Gordon (best known as being the bass player for Phish) and his band blew the doors off the place with three hours of incredibly diverse music, long, intense jamming, and just plain fun. The theater was about 75% full of Phish heads (it might have been more had the show been on a Friday or Saturday), and the small venue provided an intimate setting for the final show of the band’s brief fall tour.

Gordon and guitarist Scott Murawski, Brooklyn drummer Todd Isler, keyboard player Tom Cleary, and percussionist Craig Myers started things off with Horizon Line, which turned into a long jam segment that featured a lot of tempo changes, dueling solos between Murawski and Cleary, and most unexpectedly, moments of dark, progressive sounds that blew me away. From what I’ve heard of Gordon’s solo work, it’s fairly mellow with a slant toward country/bluegrass, jazz and rock. This show explored vast soundscapes of varying textures and themes – it was far more than I ever expected. The Phish song Only a Dream followed, and the band once again jammed out the middle section, taking the song to new heights and arrangements that made the studio version of the song seem even more insignificant. I’m Deranged, The Way it Goes, Just a Rose, Voices, and River Niger kept the first set rolling, with most of the songs continuing the jamming and overall magic; some of the jams did lose momentum and probably went on a little longer than necessary, but that was far from the norm. The band then did a great version of Marvin Gaye’s Baby Don’t You Do It, keeping the soul of the original in tact but giving it a more intense, country rock feel, with Cleary passionately hammering out the vocals. Then they segued back into Horizon Line to bookend the set, which clocked in at about 90 minutes.

Scott Murawski and Tom Isler

After a brief intermission, the crowd roared back to life with the opening notes of Funky Bitch, a Son Seals song that Phish has played hundreds of times. Gordon’s band’s version was fairly close to Phish’s version, but different just enough that it didn’t feel like we were watching a Phish cover band. The Phishiness continued with Gordon’s tune Sugar Shack (from Phish’s Joy album), with Murawski easily handling the guitar melodies and jamming it out a bit. Then they played a cover that I never could have predicted (although if I knew Mike Gordon’s solo history better I might not have been as surprised) – Hand in My Pocket by Alanis Morissette. I’ve never been a big fan of Alanis, but I’ve never really disliked her either, and Hand in My Pocket is actually one of her songs that I do enjoy. The band rocked the hell out of it, with Murawski belting out the vocals with great passion and intensity. Dig Further Down, Crumblin’ Bones, Skin It Back, and Hap Nappy continued the terrific set, with all band members firing on all cylinders as the jams kept going. Gordon announced that the final song was dedicated to a longtime friend in the audience, a song they played together in high school – the Who’s Don’t Get Fooled Again. It was a good version, a fun way to end the set.

The Dude of Life!!!

For die-hard Phish fans, the encore was by far the highlight of the night. An additional microphone was brought to the stage, leading everyone to assume a guest vocalist would be joining the band. It turned out to be none other than Steve Pollack, a.k.a the Dude of Life. Pollack has been collaborating with Phish from the very beginning, and on Sunday he graced us with his presence for a song he wrote with Phish, Suzy Greenberg – the crowd was bouncing off the ceiling.

The whole show was a wonderful surprise for me. I expected a more laid back, moody and offbeat show, much like Gordon’s solo albums. But the jams went to crazy places I never imagined, and Murawski, who many know from the band Max Creek, is in fact a guitar god. He would go from dark riffs to lightning-fast solos with the utmost precision and clarity; his grooves were so impressive and crucial to the overall sound of the band. He was a genuine joy to hear – I’ll have to check out Max Creek now. I’m looking forward to seeing Phish in the near future, but when Gordon brings his act to town again, you can bet I’ll be there too.

Mike Gordon at the Egg gets 4.5 out of 5 stars!

01
Dec
11

Last.fm

In the digital age we live in music has excelled, not beyond anything we thought it might become, but in how it’s delivered to us. The past 20 years saw the decline of the cassette tape, compact disc, and physical formatting is now all but dead.

So as physical media phases out we turn to more convenient ways of obtaining music (not always done legally now is it?) from services such as Morpheus, Kazaa, Limewire, and most famously: Napster.

So we learned that the RIAA severely dislikes not making money on album sales… so we downloaded even more, torrenting sites becoming more and more popular, The Pirate Bay, for example.

Now I don’t know about you, but in my education I’ve found out that artists usually sign a contract and make most of their money up front. A label will give you, say, $2 million, to buy equipment, record, produce, create music videos, and finish an album. How much of that gets spent on production is usually at the band and manager’s discretion. They are then, most of the time, offered some ridiculously low royalty percentage that means even less after you divide it up between band members and management.

So artists generally don’t make that much off of album sales, but usually off of touring. Ever notice that’s why Bruce Springsteen doesn’t seem to give a rat’s ass about putting out new albums but will sell out stadiums on a yearly basis? Or that U2’s music has been in steep decline since the late 80s but still manage to have gigantic concerts where they rake in obscene amounts of fans a.k.a. money? (And they don’t even pay taxes to the Irish government!)

Before my tenure at Hi-Fi started I was dealt several cease and desist letters for uploading music just to my former blog’s domain just for personal use. Talk about touchy by the record companies!

So where’m I going with all of this? Well, today’s digital music playground is found through music streaming services such as Spotify, Grooveshark, iTunes, SHOUTcast, Pandora and the least famous… Napster.

I’ve tried using all of those, and iTunes, while on my home computer is fine, because I have my library there too, is not viable on the road. With the rest of these you can build and tag artists/genres you like, but c’mon, that’s a huge hassle for us to list all the bands we like and may have an itch to hear.

Last.fm takes care of that. They have a nifty piece of scrobbling software that will record what songs/artists you play the most, it even makes charts! But by far the best thing is, is that you can take your library with you wherever you go. For free. They offer your library streamed to you, they also offer your library with suggestions for similar artists. Which keeps the likes of Maroon 5 the hell out of my easy listening playlist and doesn’t turn me into a fit of rage.

So, if you’re going places, constantly on the move and let’s say maybe you’re trying to preserve some hard drive space, Last.fm is the way to go, take your own music with you and still gives you a taste of similar artists or you can just play a channel as you would on those other streaming sites.

It gives you everything… and what’s yours.