Thursday, October 09, 2008

Ra Ra Riot Interview

I'm interviewing Allie of Ra Ra Riot tomorrow for my zine.

Any question suggestions are welcome!

As always, if you're interested in a copy of the zine, just email me with your address and I'll mail you a copy free of charge!

Dr. Dog- Fate

For a band to play D.C.'s Iota Club & Cafe (it gets it's name from it's minute size) on one tour, and then months later play D.C.'s legendary 9:30 Club (with a 1,200 capacity) is a pretty good indication that they're onto something good, and Dr. Dog, who have been touring in support of their latest release, Fate, are indeed.

From it's packaging to it's sound, the common theme on Fate would be nostalgia. The album's lyric booklet, which resembles a Civil War-era newspaper, also includes a picture of the band in period garb. The band's use of three-part harmonies, lightly distorted guitar and twinkling piano along with singer Scott McMicken's well-controlled warble create an album reminiscent of those by 60's pop groups like the Band and the Beach Boys.

On the swinging "Army of Ancients," McMicken’s croons escalate to a frantic yelp as he sings “I don’t want to wake up/ I don’t want to move/ I’ll skip the sermon and stick to the booze/ I’m sorry.” Strings and punchy, muted horns add to the vintage sound.

Along with “Army of Ancients,” many of the songs on Fate have minor-chord mentalities, and wouldn’t sound out of place in a dingy nightclub. “The Ark” is a slinky, slow-building track filled with lyrics about eagerness to please and self-doubt.

More positive songs, such as “From,” a love song, showcase the groups ability to harmonize and knack for instrumental arrangements, including one memorable guitar solo. The organ is used on many of Dr. Dog’s song, and shines on the hymnal “100 Years.”

Album-opener “The Breeze” is a sweet ditty that encourages the listener to “put that needle to the groove, and sing” is they ever feel “stuck in time.” At its climax, the drum mimics a beating heart while band members “Ahhh” in tandem. As the band sings of the breeze blowing them all away, winding flutes play cycling chords, almost interpreting the song literally.

Stand out track “Hang On” follows “The Breeze.” Drawing as much from 60’s pop and as old soul records, McMicken pleads, “I don’t need a doctor to tear me all apart/ I just needs you to mend my heart.”

On the horn-jabbed “Uncovering the Old,” McMicken sings, “Nothing means nothing to me.” However, Dr. Dog truly care about the art of music and their love of the craft is on full display on Fate through their emotive vocals, contemplative lyrics and the inventive arrangements.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Killers on SNL, Or, How The Killers Stole My Heart

Last night on SNL, The Killers performed their new single "Human" as well as "Spaceman," another new tune to be debuted on their upcoming album, Day & Age.

I was in 7th grade when Hot Fuss came out, and I'll never forget the first time I heard it. My friend Carson had heard them perform "Somebody Told Me" on some television show an so I bought the album for her for her birthday. We listened to it in her den and I was enraptured by their new wave, synth-heavy arena rock. While none of the elements were entirely unique, to me, they seemed to be doing something totally different and their sound was like nothing I had ever heard.

Hot Fuss became my favorite album and I developed an unhealthy crush on Brandon Flowers. He was my desktop background and a sinister black and white shot of the band was on the front of my school binder.

As with any album, as time went on, the frequency I would listen to the album waned. However, I was very excited when I heard not only that they were working on a new album, but that they listed Bruce Spingsteen as one of their top influences.

Unfortunately, Sam's Town was underwhelming. It definitely had potential, but somewhere along the road Brandon Flowers & Co. lost sight of their own sound and became engulfed in their influences and dodging the sophomore slump.

I didn't hate Sam's Town- by any means. I listened the heck out of it, I just never felt that rush that I did whenever the opening bars of "Mr. Brightside" would play.

With the new single "Human," I see new hope for the Killers. "Human" is a fantastic return to form. The intro is optimistic and ethereal; "Are we human, or are we dancer?" Flowers muses. then the beat pulsates in and the synth begins to drive the song to the forgotten territory the Killers first inhabited in the days of Hot Fuss.

On SNL, the Killers performed "Human" as well as "Spaceman," a paranoid number that showcases Flowers's yelp and frontman bravado.

Based on these two songs alone, Day & Age should, well, kill.