Brooklyn Couple Breaks Up in YouTube Video

If only every relationship could end in an amicable music video.

Brooklyn-based couple Jonathan and Ivory are making viral headlines with their YouTube sensation song that chronicles their relationship’s demise in light of opposing views.

According to the song’s lyrics, Ivory takes an adamant stance against having children, in contrast to her pro-kid partner Jonathan who makes clear that he “wants to have babies.” After five years of dating, the couple have concluded their conflicting desires leave no other choice but the inevitable break-up.

The song delves further with its lyrics, assuring mutual friends that they “don’t have to choose” sides, “though it will be awkward, yes.” The ex-couple additionally requests invitations to friends’ parties, assuring they will still remain cordial:  “No, don’t feel weird; we love all of you! After five whole years at each other’s sides, there’s just some things no relationship can survive.”

The YouTube video concludes with an eager Jonathan admitting he wants a couple of children, juxtaposed to a negating Ivory who simply shakes her head in disagreement.

What’s your take on this couple’s breakup rendition? Do you believe this civil break-up ballad ends on a musical note, or nonsensical approach?

South by Southwest 2011 Music recap, Part I: The Headliners

“There’s music everywhere you go, all the time, which is just a beautiful thing.”

The 25th anniversary edition of the South by Southwest Music Conference & Festival went down in Austin, Texas this month and it was one to remember. The festival once again featured everything from semi-secret shows by arena-level headliners to all the latest “buzz” bands, to ’80s favorites looking to make a comeback. This wide mix of talent is exactly what makes SXSW so unique. With somewhere around 2,000 bands playing at roughly 200 venues over five nights, it was pretty much heaven on Earth for live music junkies.

The festival keeps growing in attendance every year, so the urban chaos factor has been increasing too, leading NPR to describe the massive city-wide party as seeming like “one big crowded bar.” It did have that vibe at times, but isn’t that kind of fun? Indeed, it is. Traffic often did look like a nightmare (you gotta have a bike, people) and there were a couple unruly incidents this year. But if you’re a party professional, there’s really nowhere you can have a better time, not to mention being able to mix business with pleasure if you’re a music industry pro. It’s the influx of party amateurs that threatens to mess up a good thing.

Two incidents exemplified this: the gate crashing at Auditorium Shores when the free show by the Strokes on Thursday had filled to its 20,000 capacity, and the mini-riot that took place at the Beauty Bar on Saturday night after it had filled to capacity for Death From Above 1979, who were billed only as “special guest.” But there’s just no excuse for such behavior. There’s only, like, 200 other shows going on at any given time; if your first choice is filled to capacity, then go see someone else, This is why planning is key – you always want to have two or three potential choices in any given time slot, because you never know when your top show will either be at capacity or across town from where you’ve wound up and don’t really care to travel to at that moment.

Bringing or renting a bike is key. A bike also allows you to zip back and forth to have maximum flexibility to see your most preferred shows. It’s simple Vulcan logic. The other great thing about having so many choices is that SXSW can mean so many different things to so many different music fans. It’s all out there, as every genre is represented. You can focus on one or sample them all like the massive musical buffet that SXSW is. If you’re not having a great time, you’re just not trying. Here follows one Gen-X rock ‘n’ roller’s musical menu, broken down into headliners, other evening showcases and day parties.

The Headliners

Foo Fighters, Stubb’s BBQ

SXSW Music has traditionally run from Wednesday through Saturday. But this year they decided to add some showcases on Tuesday evening as well. Yet there seemed to be something missing compared to the past two years. There was no blank spot in the Friday night lineup at Stubbs BBQ for a semi-secret arena level headliner (which turned out to be Metallica in 2009 and Muse in 2010.)

But then something stood out on the Tuesday schedule for SXSW Film – the world premiere of The Foo Fighters’ new rockumentary “Back and Forth” at the Paramount Theater, with the program stating that Music badges were good for admission to the screening. Then word came down through a local music blog’s Facebook page early on Tuesday – a Stubbs employee said the the Foo Fighters would be playing a “secret” show at Stubbs that night. Was it invite-only, or would which badges would gain admittance? This was unclear. But applying Vulcan logic, it was easy to conjure a likely scenario – if you attended the film, you would get into the show at Stubbs, because wouldn’t it just make sense to play the show for the people who were big enough fans to attend the film premiere?


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ESDMusic’s South by Southwest 2011 Music Preview

AUSTIN, TX – The 25th anniversary edition of the SXSW Music and Media Conference is upon us this week and it’s shaping up to be another gala event for live music junkies. The initial lineup may have looked a bit underwhelming, but that first announcement never shows the big picture. When you have around 2,000 bands from all over the world scheduled to play, there’s going to be more bands that you don’t recognize than you do. But the big name additions have been coming in over the past few weeks, as has the rising buzz on up and coming bands contending to be your new favorites.

Here’s my top 10 “name artists” I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing (even a badge doesn’t guarantee access if a venue has reached capacity, while a small handful of showcases are also private parties necessitating an invite.) Then I’ll list five “buzz bands” I’m eager to check out as well…

Widespread Panic – ACL Live at the Moody Theater – Thursday, March 17 – 11 pm
The southern jam rock titans from Georgia are celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2011. They’ll mark the occasion by playing the first ever SXSW showcase that will also serve as a taping for the Austin City Limits TV show. The brand new ACL Live venue – just opened last month – is a swank theater with a 2,700 seat capacity, although there have been rumors that ACL tapings will only take 800. Getting there early figures to be key, which is why Spreadheads may have to pass up the Strokes’ 8 pm set at Auditorium Shores (a park on Town Lake on the edge of downtown that offers free shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.) But Panic will also be preceded by some fine openers with the New Mastersounds at 8:15 pm and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at 9:30 pm.

The Foo Fighters – Austin Music Hall – Wednesday, March 16
The alt-rock icons will be in town for the premiere of the band’s new rockumentary “Back and Forth” on Tuesday at the Paramount Theater. It was also recently announced that they’ll play at “The 2011 mtvU Woodie Awards” on Wednesday along with Wiz Khalifa, Two Door Cinema Club, Sleigh Bells and more, which will air live on three MTV channels. But this is not listed as an official SXSW showcase, so badge holders apparently need to win one of 850 tickets MTV will be giving away. Fingers are crossed.

Men Without Hats – Club De Ville – Friday, March 18 – 1 am
Anyone who grew up with the dawn of MTV in the early-to-mid ’80s will remember this Canadian band and their iconic video for their infectious smash hit, “The Safety Dance.” There’s a lot of attractive showcases happening in this hour on Friday, but this Gen-Xer is not passing up his chance do the Safety Dance at one of Austin’s nicest outdoor clubs.

The Airborne Toxic Event – Stubbs BBQ – Friday, March 18 – 10:30 pm
These Los Angeles indie rockers with the heartfelt sound were one of my favorite random discoveries at SXSW in 2009. I was walking out of the convention center when a girl connected with the band in some way said I shouldn’t leave because a great band was about to play. She described them as having a Bowie-ish vibe with a female violinist. That drew me in to witness a scintillating afternoon set that was a triumph. They’re about to release their second album and playing at Stubbs – ground-zero for SXSW showcases – means they’re moving up to the big time.

Bright Eyes – Auditorium Shores Stage – Saturday, March 19 – 7:30 pm
Conor Oberst has put his Mystic Valley Band on hold to put out a new album with Bright Eyes and the band will headline the Saturday night show at Town Lake. You get an eclectic mix of people since it’s a free show and it’s a gorgeous location for a show with the Austin skyline looming in the background. The band got a lukewarm review on their Radio City Music Hall show from The New York Times, but hopefully they’ll be ready to deliver the goods here. Oberst starred with Monsters of Folk at last October’s ACL Festival.

Immortal Technique – Mohawk Patio – Wednesday, March 16 – 11 pm
One of the most militant and revolutionary MCs in the world, Immortal Technique is a role model for any artist that wants to do it their own way. He’s remained steadfastly independent, refusing to allow major label control of his music or brand. It’s hard to conceive of a major corporate entity that would let him do his thing though, due to his radical way he speaks truth to power. If you feel that 9/11 was an inside job, Immortal Technique is your man.

The Kills – Emo’s Main Room – Thursday, March 17 – 11 pm
Singer Alison Mosshart’s profile was raised to a higher level when Jack White teamed up with her in the Dead Weather. Now she returns to her previous band, where it should be interesting to see how charismatic dark angel incorporates her Dead Weather experience. I can’t catch this set since it conflicts with Widespread Panic, but I’m hoping to see them at the SPIN day party at Stubbs on Friday or their appearance at the IFC House.

TV on the Radio – Stubbs BBQ – Thurday, March 17 – 12:30 am
SXSW will be booming on Thursday night as these trendy indie-pop rockers will be headlining Stubbs BBQ. They’d flown a bit under my radar until Phish covered the band’s “Golden Age” at an Albany show in 2009, then played it again last fall in Colorado. The catchy tune and its uplifting message certainly caught the attention of the Phish Nation. Attendees of Widespread Panic won’t be able to get here for this either, but the band is also headlining that SPIN day party at Stubbs the next day.

Beats Antique – Frontgate Tickets Party – 1711 South Congress – Friday, March 18 – 4:20 PM
This trio out of Oakland has been blowing up on the festival and jam-rock scene over the past year with a groovy vibe that features an Eastern sound with mystical overtones. Their official showcase is Friday night at the Beauty Bar at 1 am, but that’s a conflict for anyone who wants to see Men Without Hats. But the band is also playing several day parties, as many younger bands do.

Liz Phair – IFC House – Friday, March 18 – 8 PM
The indie alt-rock princess of the ’90s has gone through various phases of experimentation and flirted with commercialism, but it seems like she just wants to rock now. She’s in her 40s, but she’s still a total hottie and her 2008 tour featured her classic Exile in Guyville album in its entirety. Now she has a new album where she says she’s letting it all hang out.

Buzz Bands

Most of these bands are playing multiple showcases and day parties, a common trend for younger bands looking to max out potential exposure…

Ume
This local Austin (by way of Houston) power trio features dynamic frontwoman Lauren Larson on guitar and her husband on bass. They were recently named one of the best unsigned bands in America by Rolling Stone. Larson’s petite size is a red herring for what a force to be reckoned with she is onstage.

The Joy Formidable
Another female-fronted power trio, of which there are still too few. This trio is from the UK and was also recently cited by Rolling Stone as a “Band to Watch”, with angelic vocals from Ritzy Bryan that bring Metric to mind, but with maybe a bigger guitar sound.

Jessica Lea Mayfield
This young singer/songwriter from Kent, Ohio was sort of discovered by the Black Keys. Her earliest stuff was way mellow and kind of depressing, but the single from her new album, “Our Hearts Are Wrong,” is so good that Dave Letterman had her on to play it for the national TV audience last month.

Nico’s Gun
A funky and psychedelic quartet of rockers out of Philadelphia. They have a diverse sound from groovy dance numbers like “Dirty Girl” to sparkling pop gems such as “We Are Fluorescent.” They apparently fancy themselves as a “punk rock Michael Jackson,” but they sure rock more than the Gloved One did.

Stephanie Hatfield & Hot Mess
Bluesy rock out of Santa Fe, New Mexico from another husband and wife team. Singer Stephanie Hatfield has a captivating voice that can really rock or go sultry, and guitarist/husband Bill Palmer is an ace bandleader who sets her up to win every time. The band burned it down at the Continental Club on their visit to Austin last year and will be showcasing tunes from their forthcoming second album.

The Red River: Little Songs about the Big Picture


RIYL: meandering music for the mumblecore crowd

The Red River is a band that hails from Long Beach, CA with eight members and counting. Their album, Little Songs about the Big Picture, was recorded over the course of three years in their hometown and consists of simple, introspective songs that examine the everyday occurrences in life. With a band so large, you’d expect there to be a big sound coming from this record. Instead, the Red River take a minimalist approach to their music, leaving you feeling like a solo record put together by one guy and a bunch of his friends.

Little Songs about the Big Picture is upbeat and has some really beautiful moments, such as the life-affirming, “I Will Give Thanks” and the reflective “Last Night We Made Tacos,” an acoustic number that sounds like it could have been made up on the spot. Overall, this album reminded me of watching a mumblecore movie. Like those microbudgeted features full of improv and incidental moments, on the surface Little Songs about the Big Picture seems to be just a sloppy, thrown-together collection of songs. But if you stick around until the end, and dig a little deeper into the record, you’ll find that there’s something quite moving about the music of the Red River.

Silly, poignant and communal, Little Songs About the Big Picture may not be perfect, but it does make the Red River a band to keep an eye on. (2010, Brave Records)

The Red River MySpace page

The Influence: Falling Objects


RIYL: Bush, Jimmy Eat World, ’80s modern rock

On their current album, the Influence have produced a collection of emotional guitar-driven rock songs that may have a lot of people recalling the glory days of Gavin Rossdale and Bush. For geezers like myself, it’s hard not to hear elements of early ’80s modern rock in the music of this band from Virginia. The Influence create a certain groove in their music. Although it contains driving guitars and a big drum sounds, it also have a beat you can shake your ass to.

Listen to “Falling Objects,” “Bleed Out,” “Torn” and “Break” and you’ll find your head unconsciously bobbing to the beat with your eyes closed and images of a sweaty dance floor in your head. Isn’t that the signature of a great pop song – one that tugs the heartstrings but also gets you moving as well? Bowie knows this; so do Springsteen, Prince and Madonna. Not sure I’d place the Influence in the pantheon of those icons, but Falling Objects is one heck of a catchy album.

This record is not an explosion of emo angst, like so many of this band’s contemporaries. Instead, lead singer Matt Stephenson controls his voice to serve the music. He may wear his heart on his sleeve, but he doesn’t make each track bleed like it’s his last thought and prayer, either. This isn’t Dashboard Confessional.

That doesn’t mean these guys don’t bust out some crunchy guitars when it’s called for. “Slippin’” is a nasty metal-driven number with some excellent harmonies. Toss in a thoughtful acoustic number (“The Sleep”) and a couple of power ballads (“The Following” and “Anisoptera”) and you have what constitutes a really good pop/rock album. (Flying Eye 2010)

The Influence MySpace Page

Jimmy Eat World: Invented


RIYL: Anberlin, Get Up Kids, Sense Field

By now, most of you are probably already familiar with Jimmy Eat World’s back story. Arizona band gets major label deal, then gets dropped, then gets signed by another huge label, and finally enjoys commercial success. 2001’s Bleed American was packed to the ceiling with one sun-soaked hook after another, and each album that’s followed it has provided plenty more. After the dissonance of 2004’s Futures, Jimmy Eat World honed in on their pop sensibilities on 2007’s Chase This Light. Although the album didn’t deliver the kind of sales numbers it deserved, it still features some of vocalist Jim Adkins’ finest performances.

Invented, Jimmy Eat World’s seventh studio album, doesn’t divert too far from Chase This Light. If there’s one thing that immediately stands out, it would be the subtlety in some of the arrangements. Outside of a few cuts (“My Best Theory,” “Action Needs an Audience”), most of the material on Invented doesn’t try and hit you over the head with a flurry of power chords. This is a nuanced batch of songs, and producer Mark Trombino (Blink 182, Rocket from the Crypt) does a bang-up job of capturing all the small details. Whether it’s an acoustic guitar being strummed faintly in the background, or a track of harmony vocals, Trombino brings the listener into the room with the band. After a couple albums without him, it’s great to hear Jimmy Eat World back in a recording studio with the guy.

Sonic triumphs aside, Invented isn’t without its faults. Like much of Futures‘ second half, a few songs are dragged down by weaker vocal lines and a darker tone that doesn’t necessarily work well with some of the material. Jimmy Eat World are at their best when both their guitar riffs and vocal performances are soaked in melody. We’re not suggesting for every track to be an upbeat radio-ready number, but when the group surrenders too often to the somber side of their sound, things get less interesting. We’re not sure if Invented will be remembered as favorably as some of the older albums in their fantastic discography, but there certainly are enough fine moments on it to warrant your attention today. (DGC 2010)

Click here to read our interview with Jimmy Eat World lead singer Jim Adkins

Jimmy Eat World MySpace page

Ludo: Prepare the Preparations


RIYL: Sparks, My Chemical Romance, They Might Be Giants, Rocky Horror Picture Show

Ludo is a band that just keeps getting weirder, and that’s really saying something considering their second release was Broken Bride, a rock opera EP about atime-traveling scientist who, while on a quest to save his dead wife, ends up battling Satan and his army of zombies with his own legion of pterodactyls. The follow up to to Broken Bride was You’re Awful, I Love You. And while it found them on a major label for the first time, it didn’t stop singer/guitarist Andrew Volpe from penning horror-themed tunes about evil zombies in Lake Pontchartrain and stalker neighbors.

Ludo’s journey into insanity continues with Prepare the Preparations, an album that switches between lighthearted wackiness and the genuinely disturbing so much that it should be prescribed medication for manic depression.. It speaks volumes that the most mainstream-sounding track on Prepare the Preparations is “Whipped Cream,” a tongue-in-cheek ode to using the confectionery as a sex aid. From there things get downright insane. “Anything for You” is a deceptive love ballad that sounds normal at first, but as Volpe sings about his adventures in space, travels across the astral plane and meetings with leprechauns, it becomes apparent that this isn’t your typical love song. The same goes for “All the Stars in Texas” an ode from one bank robber to another, and “Manta Ray,” a song that may or may not be sung from the perspective of a man drowning himself (and someone else?) in his car. Its theme is subtle and not exactly clear. Something that cannot be said for the theatrical “Cyborgs vs Robots” and “Skeletons on Parade,” two songs so goofy that They Might Be Giants would think they’re too silly.

Ludo’s unique brand of weird will probably alienate ten times the people it attracts, but those who do enjoy Prepare the Preparations will absolutely fall in love with it. Most likely while driving to a horror movie convention. (Island 2010)

Ludo MySpace Page

Yo Gabba Gabba: Music Is…Awesome! Volume 2


RIYL: hipster bands, watching your kids dance

Landing a cool 10 months after the release of Volume I of Yo Gabba Gabba’s Music Is…Awesome! series, this set rights some of the wrongs of that first album by including some of the bands they overlooked the last time (Jimmy Eat World, MGMT, Datarock, and thank God they finally released the Ting Tings’ cover of “Happy Birthday”). The catch with this set is that the songs by the contributing rock bands are much better, but the songs from the show are, well, not. Yes, “Hold Still” finally makes an appearance, but it’s the lesser of the two versions that have appeared on the show. Meanwhile, the “Freeze Game” song here does not measure up to the ‘you can’t catch us!’ ‘Freeze’ song from another episode. (Perhaps they chose the version they did so they didn’t have two songs that featured Brobee whining about not being able to keep up.) Alas, the Aggrolites’ song “Banana” is still nowhere to be found, nor is GOGO13′s song “Pick It Up” which, years after their debut on the show, are still the two most commonly sung “Yo Gabba Gabba” songs in this writer’s household. Their exclusion from these sets is bordering on comical, if it weren’t so tragic. Still, the Weezer song (“All My Friends Are Insects”) is great, as are the songs by Hot Hot Heat (“Time to Go Outdoors”) and the Apples in Stereo (“That’s My Family”). In the end the album, much like the show, has some moments of genius, surrounded by stuff that you merely tolerate for the sake of your kids. No excuses, guys: put “Pick It Up” and “Banana” on the next set, or there will be hell to pay. (Filter 2010)

OK Go MySpace page
Click to buy Music Is Awesome! Volume 2 from Amazon

Lollapalooza 2010, The Final Recap: The Headliners, some final thoughts

This year’s batch of headliners is one of the strangest groups yet. Sunday was closed by another recently reunited monster of ’90s rock (witness Lolla organizer Perry Farrell giving his band Jane’s Addiction the final slot last year), Saturday night’s lineup featured arguably the biggest band in the world, while Friday’s opener – who easily drew the biggest crowd in Lolla history – is a million-selling pop star who first dazzled one of our writers on a Lolla side stage three years ago. Is it the most “alternative” group of closers they could have assembled? Probably not, but it’s very telling in a state-of-the-biz kind of way. We’ll leave it up to you as to whether that is a good or bad thing.

Let’s begin with the, um, enders, for lack of a better (or actual) word, in our week-long recap of the events at Lollapalooza 2010.

Chromeo, Friday, adidas Stage
Chromeo is officially ready for their close-up. They made lots of friends with this show, even if most of the audience was facing south in anticipation of Lady Gaga. Their riff on “Money for Nothing” was fun (they know their audience, that’s for sure), and even better was when they used Auto-Tune to sing, Sting-style, “I want my Chromeo.” Their new single “Don’t Turn the Lights Off” is a killer, and their other new songs sounded just as good.

Lady Gaga, Friday, Parkways Foundation Stage
Watching the crowd gather for Lady Gaga was an event unto itself. Her fans – and make no mistake, there isn’t anyone in all of music with a fan base as rabidly devoted as hers, ironic or otherwise – arrived early and parked in front of the Parkways stage all day long. Girls in fishnets, guys in drag, and more kids than we’ve ever seen at Lolla. Before Chromeo had even taken the stage at the northern end of the southern stages, there was already a bigger crowd waiting for Gaga than the one Depeche Mode played to last year. And Depeche played to a big crowd. But Gaga…this was borderline ridiculous. Some may have questioned Perry’s decision to bring Gaga back, since she’s now a full-fledged pop star, but he and the rest of the Lolla organizers were clearly laughing all the way to the bank.

Gaga_01
Photo by Dave Mead

As for the set, well, we lasted 20 minutes.


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Elogy: One


RIYL: Coldplay, Aqualung, Passion Pit

Not everyone can lead. It’s just a fact of life. Some will lead, and the rest will follow, and you will find no greater place to observe this behavior in action than in the world of music, where every band who scores even a sliver of attention inadvertently gives birth to a gaggle of copycats. Most of which, naturally, suck hard.

However, just because someone is a follower does not mean that they’re not bringing something new to the table, and California trio Elogy is a good example. From the first breath that singer Derek Cannavo takes on One, the band’s debut album, it’s clear that he really, really likes the way Chris Martin sings, executing both of Martin’s trademark moves (the aching baritone, followed by the aching falsetto) in a matter of seconds. And yet, for all the tricks the band may have stolen from other bands’ playbooks, One is a consistently engaging listen, stuffed to the gills with anthemic choruses and slice & dice programming that will make Passion Pit green with envy. The soaring “Eager We Are” will surely land in a CW show in the next six months, while “Welcome to Inertia” out-Aqualung’s Aqualung, skillfully blending major keys with full-blown melancholia. The band’s true star, though, is drummer Nick Lyman, who positively bashes his set when he’s not unleashing drum samples that sound like Everything but the Girl’s Walking Wounded set on puree.

If they can stay away from overblown power ballads like “Rest Your Senses” (think Staind’s “It’s Been Awhile” for the bedroom pop set), there should be little preventing Elogy from jumping to the next level. It may not be the most unique first step a band’s ever taken, but it would not be at all surprising to see Elogy evolve into a band that others want to copy. (Elogy 2010)

Elogy MySpace page
Click to buy One from Amazon

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