Category Archives: 30Hz Music

The 30Hz music-related ramblings

Fanfarlo w/ Gardens & Villas @ Mr. Smalls 3/25

Why isn’t Fanfarlo a bigger deal? They play a brand indie-pop of reminiscent of early Arcade Fire,  Talking Heads with some Beirut-style horns mixed in for good measure. I understand the criticisms leveled at them for being derivative. Sure, we all want something new, something thrilling because it’s never been done before. But at the same time, I’ve got to level with you– it’s all already been done in some form or another. To be overly brief, all art is derivative. Even the first cave paintings were inspired by real life; Death of  a Salesman didn’t just spontaneously appear in the mind of Australopithecus. Why then are some critics so offended by similarly sounding music? Fanfarlo is the first modern band I’ve heard that has really nailed the mid-tempo Talking Heads groove. Most bands sound bored or restrained when dealing with that middling pace, but Fanfarlo legitimately understands what made the Heads such a pleasure.

Replicate

There’s something called the Pleasure Principle. We seek pleasure in order to avoid that which might harm us. It’s in our very nature to feel comfortable with familiar music in the same way we’re going to avoid jumping out of a three-story building, just to see what happens. Fanfarlo won’t be knocking on the pearly Pitchfork gates anytime soon but they’re a tight-sounding quintet that has a lot of fun playing music. So in short: Arcade Fire? Good. Talking Heads? Good. Beirut? Good. Joey Tribiani’s Trifle Logic proves true. Fanfarlo. Good. See below for reference.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v_BE6lFE0o[/tube]

I’d love to tell you more about Gardens & Villas live set but quite frankly I missed the entire thing because I had to get my daughter to bed. The my wife is 9-months pregnant and largely incapable of dealing with a highly-energized (nearly three year old) daughter. So it goes. I bought their solid 2011 debut album on vinyl to make peace.

Fronted by the Swedish Simon Balthazar, Fanfarlo started minimal, opening with a personal favorite track and the first song on their latest album Rooms Filled With Light: “Replicate.” Thanks to Youtube user pghmusicreport for uploading video from this show.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiKd7Ku_NR0[/tube]

The sparse orchestration of the track allows for a cross-section of the sound. Isolated violin. Keyboard. Bass. A couple of songs in, Simon finally began some chatter and mistakenly suggested it was the band’s first trip to Pittsburgh. He was immediately corrected by Cathy (violin, keyboard, vocals) and his drummer Amos who pointed out someone in the front row who had done some drawings of them at that prior show at the Brillobox. Quick wit, from a drummer. I texted my wife to tell her about the drummer with the quick wit. She didn’t believe me.

The band played tight but chatted loosely. Later in the show Cathy again corrected Simon who had incorrectly pronounced the name of the opening act (Vill-ahs rather than the correct Spanish pronunciation Vee-yas). And they had another good laugh at Simon’s expense. Amos later apologized for taking the last small white Fanfarlo T-shirt from the swag booth. Bassist Justin Finch praised some sing-a-longers (specifically the tall guy in the black hoodie) who knew all the words to their songs and then (without pointing fingers) chided those that sang-a-long but didn’t know the words (“It’s actually quite distracting and you should study up before next show.”) All in good fun. I prattle on about their stage prattle because it’s part and parcel with a band that’s up there having fun with their music even though the actual performance goes pretty strictly by the book. There was very little deviation from the recorded versions of the songs. I wouldn’t expect new-ish bands to do much free-styling.  Simon, however, seemed to cut loose a little bit on “Harold T. Wilkins” — the standout track from their 2009 debut. Video again courtesy of pghmusicreport.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_tNMZOoL48[/tube]

So maybe they’re not the most original or the most innovative band. They’re comfort food for the ears and an inherently likeable UK-based quintet that spins carefully orchestrated indie-pop . In these days when a single Pitchfork review can mobilize entire legions of potential fans and bloggers in either direction, it’s a shame that Pitchfork review unfairly labeled Rooms Filled With Light a waste of time. I doubt I have the pull to override even a fraction of the negativity but I’m going to do my best. Listen to Fanfarlo. Support the tour. And learn your lyrics.

 

 

30Hz Recommended: Delta Spirit

Somehow global domination has alluded Delta Spirit. Today the band released their third record of feel good, kick back with a beer, boozy, whimsical and toe-tapping rock music with an garage-born soul. Early in their career the band got mislabeled with  “root rock” and “Americana” labels. These guys would be just at home on a California beach as they would in a frat house in New England or a bar in Mississippi. Their rock is a universal variety and though I understand everyone’s tastes are different I dare you not to like this band. If you don’t, well, you might be wrong.

This is a fan made video of their new single California:

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYaTbgkfYQw&feature=related[/tube]

Here’s my favorite track of theirs, played at SXSW 2010:

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDCDlumroyI[/tube]

 

Three albums in, Delta Spirit hasn’t made a bad record. While this new one takes greater lengths to shed the “Americana” label, it doesn’t lose any of the fun.

Order the deluxe vinyl from the band’s website here and receive a limited edition signed poster. Too bad the super deluxe bundles with the signed piano key and t-shirt are sold out. I’d have been into some more tchotchke swag.

Guster playing with the Colorado Symphony

On March 8th, Guster played with the Colorado Symphony. I really considered buying a ticket to Denver just to see this show. But then I thought about how I’m a responsible parent with a pregnant wife that can’t just jet off to concerts whenever he feels like it and that the last time I flew into Denver a hippie fiddled with a short-wave radio midway through the flight and yada yada yada everyone in my section ended up getting questioned by both Homeland Security and the FBI. True story. Continue reading Guster playing with the Colorado Symphony

Concert Dates: a 30Hz Public Service Announcent

Perhaps some of you read my little rumble about my yearly return to Boston back in November. Every year my wife and I arrange baby care and return to Boston to visit our old haunts and every year we convince ourselves that “home” will and forever be Cambridge. Truth be told, “home” is less and less Cambridge every year. Anywhere, given the chance and enough time, can replace what you formerly loved. Pittsburgh, of late, has stepped up a bit. It’s not Boston, in terms of the availability of the arts and food and negligent wait-staff, but it never really will be. I’ve accepted that I’ve moved on; I’m still in the process of moving on.

One such wound that Pittsburgh has lately mended is the concert availability. During our last two trips in ’10 and ’11 we’ve seen shows by Frightened Rabbit and the Kooks respectively. Each band, within the next year has visited the ‘burgh. Due to our FAIL-trip to see the Kooks at the Boston House of Blues. I bought tickets to the local Kooks show at the Millvale dive known as Mr. Smalls to finally right that wrong. The House of Blues starts particular Saturday shows at 6pm due to the “hottest gay dance party” in Beantown taking place there later that evening. Gotta get the hipsters  and thirtysomethings out before “the buff” arrives. See the full recap here.

When I received my Kooks tickets I penciled the date on the calendar and put the tickets back in their envelope. The envelope returned to the “Shit Drawer.” I thought nothing more of those tickets. With the date marked on the calendar — March 12 — and the babysitter already arranged, all that was left was to remember the tickets and show up at Mr. Smalls at the appropriated time. I double-checked the start time even. 8pm. I wasn’t showing up late. Not again.

Yesterday I received a curious email from Opus One promoters.

“Thank you for helping to make last night’s show with The Kooks a success! To show our appreciation, we’d like to extend a buy one, get one free offer for our upcoming show with Fanfarlo on Sunday, March 25th exclusively to The Kooks ticket buyers.”

“Last night’s show with The Kooks?” Disbelief.

There must be some mistake. I run over to check the tickets. They say March 12. Swear.

I come back to the computer and Google the show. March 6th. Everyone says March 6th. If that’s true even the email has the wrong day. I return to the tickets. I study the tickets. Where have I gone wrong (yet again)? And then I see it. The silly, stupid, idiotic cause of my foible.

I'm an idiot.

Is the image big enough to correspond to the massive reading comprehension mistake?

06 MAR12

Either I can’t handle the fact that we’re three years away from the year in which the future of Back to the Future II takes place or I’m just simply incapable of processing a simple (but still alien for most Americans) system of DAY/MONTH/YEAR ordered calendar notation. March 12! It says so right there. NO! Think in the moment for just a goddamn second instead of worrying about the twenty other things you have to do.

Anyway. Hoverboards, motherbleepers.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIa6l4WecB0[/tube]

The point I need to make is this: for the sake of the bands, the venue and yourself, make sure you’re living in the right year and double-check the start time of your show online. I take solace in the philosophy that my wife and I were just not meant to see a Kooks show. Fate somehow intervened. I am at peace.

Though, to be fair, I’m really not at peace about 2015 being right around the corner. I mean, do you remember when you first saw Back to the Future II and thought, “My gawd, 2015 is so far away! It’s so far away I’m quite sure we’ll never actually get there.”

Sigh.

Double check your tickets.

This has been a public service announcement sponsored by 30HertzRumble.

 

 

30Hz Recommended: Yellow Ostrich

Other than releases from old standbys and auto-listens Andrew Bird, the Magnetic Fields and White Rabbit, there was little to recommend on this sixth day of March, 2012. But I do strongly recommend that you check out Yellow Ostrich’s excellent Strange Land. Here’s video of the band playing a track from their prior release — The Mistress — on KEXP.

 

 

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATyVCxgcVcw&feature=relmfu[/tube]

 

If you like what you hear, purchase the new album here (Vinyl + MP3 download available).