Month: December, 2012

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (09/12/12)

my left ear is paralysed. a soft cotton cushion chokes lively signs of the outside word. i squeeze among toads in a very strange state of mind. i just don’t know whether i’m ok or not.
and i see him jumping over the merchandising table. him again, chasing our eyes to get an impression, a smile, a hurrah, or whatever.

mr. Jon Spencer stands right in front of me and i’m just not responding anymore. or more exactly, i feel like going outside naked and throwing myself into a mountain of snow. yeah, that’s an idea.

if the evening started in smooth mode for the frog, i’m now ready for a new pogo. spending an hour and half with a NYC legend is just as exhilarating as buying a gig ticket for my favourite toad. i’ve actually just received some rock’n’roll slap in the face, as if rock & roll had never existed before.

entering Festsaal Kreuzberg again is like a reminiscence of the past. i feel out of order tonight, insignificant, void.
i’m however slightly amused as The Mentalettes enter the stage. three girls, funny ones, wearing glamouring gold sequined very short shorts (there’s no typo in the ‘short’ repetition). Elsa Edlund, the swedish blond, Chilbi Pippi Llo, the spanish tattooed brunette, and Teresia Elvira, the very berliner, are perfect in their role of warm-up trio. they’re supported by four busy bees sweating in dark polo-neck sweaters, playing drums, guitar, keyboards and bass.


their pure and traditional rockabilly repertoire comprising three wriggling girls singing together is a dynamic and swinging introduction. nevertheless, after of few songs, i get kind of bored and my attention focuses on Chilbi Pippi Llo and her hilarious interpretation. she has a very expressive face with giant opened eyes, that mimic either surprise, chaos, anger, love, catastrophe, well, a face perfectly adapted to each situation and each song. but alas, thirty minutes or so of rockabilly make me impatient. i’m sorry, i’m not a rockabilly frog, but a rock one – i therefore go back to the bar on the last song, get another of my favourite beer and head hastily to the front of the stage as the crowd becomes thicker.

it doesn’t take long before Judah Bauer shows his nose. and his guitar.
i’m a bit surprised to recognize him for i have never ever seen JSBX, either on stage or on video.
but let’s put it simple: i’m not going to forget the very moment when Jon Spencer enters the room.
dressed in a gorgeous skinny and glitter trouser, a dark flower shirt and a very elegant waistcoat, some kind of fever seizes me by surprise. god, he’s incredibly sexy, ok, but you can’t imagine how his sexiness turns into animality as he grasps his guitar and starts playing pure enraged rock’n’roll. he doesn’t try to allure or charm the audience (mostly composed of toads), there’s no stage make-up, there’s no possible comparison with Jack White, who is also a great rock reference. no gentleman’s manners, no polite hello, Jon Spencer’s rock is rough and hot-tempered. wow, it’s just like getting a new haircut with a lawn mower.

anyway, despite i’m not an expert (yet) of JSBX, even if i know pretty well Acme, Orange and Damage, most of the tracks they play sound new to me. well, at least a few songs of Meat & Bones, JSBX’s excellent last album, are pretty familiar indeed.
a damn good rock’n’roll with blues notes, emphasized by the amazing singing of Jon Spencer: half shouting, third talking, third singing. very often you hear him yelling Bluessss Explosion. right, nevermind i don’t know the songs, that’s just so good, go on and sing it again.
this crazy rock concert makes me sweat and dance a lot. and enjoy (a lot) JSBX’s music, wow.

2 Kindsa Love
High Gear
Black Thoughts
Get Your Pants Off
No Reservations
Ice Cream Killer
Black Mold
Bag of Bones
She’s On It – Jack The Ripper
Strange Baby
Soul Typecast
Feeling of Love
Shirt Jac
Bellbottoms (Intro)
Bottle Baby
Tell Me That You Love Me
Boot Cut

Very Rare
Bear Trap
Blues X Man
Fuck Shit Up
Bellbottoms (Original Long Ending)

whereas Russel Simins eventually wears out his drums on Unclear,

Jon Spencer makes the decision to abandon his guitar and kill our hears with his themerin. god, this is really loud, most of the toads and frogs around me plug their ears. i wonder whether my left ear will resist this sound despite my earplugs.
there’s no doubt, the end is close.

no please, not yet. ok, it’s ear-splitting, ok i already flew twice on the stage due to my pogo fellows, but it’s so good, let’s go for it, one more time.
and of course, the excellent Judah Bauer grants us a mischievous look as he seizes his guitar again. Simins’ drums are back in order, and Jon Spencer seems to be reinvigorated, yeahhh, let’s go for a new ride!!

Jon Spencer’s sweat pours once again on our faces, his devilish guitar touches us gently once more, we dance confusedly and wildly, this is pure joyfulness.


so, i see him jumping over the merchandising table. him again.
i hesitate as his eyes meet mines, but i’m just on the blink and can’t do or say anything.
i leave The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion without a regret and enjoy the muted atmosphere around me.
on the way back home, i’m over excited and feel suddenly the need to build a snowman in the snowy night.
for some strange reason, i kindly end up in my bed and start humming a song by Them Crooked Vultures.
my left ear is just stuffed but i don’t care. this is rock’n’roll.


Grizzly Bear (31/10/12) + Bon Iver (05/11/12)

i can’t remember when indie folk music came to me as an evidence, but do remember the first time i listened to Fleet Foxes. the only thing that actually occurred to me was, ouch, why do they have to sing all together?!

i suppose music is sometimes a patience exercise, for the same reasons as literature. one should never give up, there might be a time when you eventually dive into a book with passion, seizing each words eagerly, apprehending the very substance of the author’s intentions, enjoying the musicality of the writing. getting into a book at the relevant moment isn’t an easy thing. and music is all the same.

so, folk music. well, i guess the frog converted to folk music through a band that isn’t the best genuine representative of the folk era.
ladies and gentlemen, open up your heart and your soul to Grizzly Bear. i admit it may be a nonsense to stick the folk tag onto Grizzly Bear’s back, folk rock would actually be more appropriate. but despite the fact the grizzlies have no beards, they have been gifted by some good fairy with incredible voices. and 2012 has been blessed by one of the greatest albums of the planet.
Shields combines with harmony and perfection gentle and studied melodies, often provided by Daniel Rossen. piano travelling tunes, complex and demanding bass lines, jazzy jolts, and the most delicate voices that could soften the hardest crocodile reluctant to choirs.
especially when Edward Droste’s voice starts singing a melody, closely followed by Daniel Rossen, Chris Taylor and Christopher Bear. their voices in unison are incredibly beautiful and soothing. they pave the route to choral compositions in the most magnificent way possible. but reducing Grizzly Bear’s music to its “simple” vocal part would nevertheless be a mistake, or at least an approximation. because the construction of most of their songs gives evidence of a taste for magical and fairy atmospheres, along with ideal style association (when a folk melody taints with jazzy colours through Chris Taylor’s remarkable saxophone, flute and clarinet notes). whereas Daniel Rossen remains to my eyes the investigator of most of the melodies (even if Grizzly Bear origins Ed Droste’s solo project), Chris Taylor takes care of strengthening them with his outstanding bass or electric guitars compositions.


from left to right: christopher bear, ed droste, daniel rossen and chris taylor.

how puzzled and delighted we are – the dancing toad, the gig frog and i – at discovering the making-of of Grizzly Bear’s songs during their concert on that very night (at Astra).

Speak in Rounds
Sleeping Ute
Yet Again
A Simple Answer
Ready, Able
I Live With You
While You Wait For The Others
What’s Wrong
Two Weeks
Half Gate
Sun In Your Eyes

On A Neck, On A Spit
All We Ask

as we discussed it together afterwards, this was a special experience. as if we were (re)discovering details we hadn’t noticed while listening to Shields.
Chris Taylor jumps from an instrument to another, and is the one responsible for the gooseflesh you may experience when his voice rejoices the others. OMG, this is what we can call pure magnificence. needless to say that the grizzlies are very friendly and amusing, despite some perceptible shyness. what a breathtaking moment. sometimes, the choir may even turn into a tiny opera, how wondrous. i have no idea how one would feel entering paradise, but, for sure, we’re already in heaven.

on this tour, Grizzly Bear have the excellent idea to be supported by Villagers. the young irish band offers a brilliant introduction to the bears, revealing moving texts and delicate melodies. the voice of Conor O’Brien fills us with warm and intense vibrations. this is just marvellous.

it seems that the dancing toad and the juicy frog initiated a cycle of incredible concerts since their first gig together.

a few days after the Grizzly Bear, we have the chance to share an astounding and fantastic instant of overwhelming warmth and intense pleasure. with an exceptional folk musician who started his career, dressing wounds isolated in a winter cabin in Wisconsin. For Emma, Forever Ago, was the first poignant split-up album of Bon Iver, fronted by Justin Vernon.
if recent news announced the possible end of the band, we are tonight more than happy and lucky to spend a little time with them.


i’m very excited to recognize the first notes of Perth. same beginning as at the Helsinki’s Flow Festival this summer. great great introduction. to the very difference that the toad chose (as usual) a perfect panorama location where we have a clear and open view on the stage. i have to confess that if I flew to Flow only to attend the Bon Iver’s concert, i haven’t seen anything of it, nothing at all, not even Justin Vernon himself. but it actually didn’t matter to me, it was just like imagining yourself blind, savouring the most exquisite music.

back to the Arena, i’m a little bit anxious before the beginning of the concert, because i dearly hope the toad will go through the same strong and deep feelings as i did in summer. Bon Iver is a synonym for compelling emotions. the perfect combination of depression, sadness and beauty. not only because the lyrics make sense and are truly meaningful, but also because the music compositions and arrangements are more than brilliant, duplicating and looping piano and guitar notes, echoing superimposed voices, saucing songs with heady and feverish tunes, god it’s so good to be here again. your entire body vibrates and trembles, as if you were in love or happy and sad at the same time. 100% pure emotions and splendour guaranteed.

if you don’t believe me, take 20 minutes of your time to enjoy this:

the concert at the Arena is just perfect. emotions are intense and palpable, desperation is as its most, we’re floating in a paragon of dark heavenliness and love. Justin Vernon’s voice, supported by Sean Carey (drums, piano) and Michael Noyce (guitar, violin) among others, takes sometimes dangerous routes to piercing and penetrating tunes that will make you go deeply into his despair. you’re suddenly part of it and it’s damn good.

the concert is a succession of climaxes, this is amazing. Calgary, Skinny Love, Creature Fear, Holocene and The (almost closing) Wolves to mention only a few examples.

i just don’t know whether this is pure folk (rock) music, and i’m not really sure this is that important. because that kind of music is both moving and delicate, and it’s good to be able to enjoy bands, such as Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, Bon Iver, Midlake.
this very music shows you the road to some promised land where you will, for sure, let yourself go and run into grace.

Atoms For Peace’s new album

feverish news have just shaken the pond.


Amok will be released on 25th february.
it will contain the following tracks:

Before Your Very Eyes
Stuck Together Pieces
Judge Jury and Executioner
Reverse Running

this way please.

My Brightest Diamond’s mini tour

some very exciting news brightened up the morning, today.
Shara Worden announced UK tour dates in December, plus special appearances in 2013.

my british mates don’t realise how lucky they are.

9th december – East Sussex @All Tomorrow’s Parties
10th december – Manchester @Islington Mill Studios
11th december – London @Bush Hall

23rd january 2013 – NYC @Bowery Ballroom
25th january 2013 – NYC @The Greene Space (WQXR) *
2nd february 2013 – Portland @The Alberta Rose Theater**
6th february 2013 – NYC @Merkin Concert hall***
26th february 2013 – Saint Paul, MN @The Music Room at SPCO*+
28th february 2013 – Northfield, MN @Chapel at Carleton College*++
3rd march 2013 – London @Queen Elizabeth Hall*+++
9th march 2013 – Indianapolis @Symphony Hall*°°
17th march 2013 – Singapore @Mosaic Music Festival

* Shara will present her new compositions for the Brooklyn Youth Chorus
** with music ensemble Fear No Music, selection of songs of Sarah Kirkland Snider’s beautiful Penelope
*** as part of the Ecstatic Music Festival, presentation of new songs by both Sarah Kirkland Snider and Padma Newsome
*+ with yMusic, selection of songs from Penelope and All Things Will Unwind, as part of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series
*++ with yMusic, Penelope in its entirety
*+++ with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Andre de Ridder, Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins
*°° with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Penelope

oh la la, that’s what we call a good start of day.

the weekly barometer: Constellation’s special

a tribute to one of the best labels ever: Constellation Records.

1. Federicia – Do Make Say Think
2. Mladic – Godspeed You! Black Emperor
3. Voiceboxed – Exhaust
4. Bring Your Scuba Here – HangedUp
5. Solute – Re: