Archive | April, 2011

heart list

29 Apr

The scene: Wednesday night at the Bottom of the Hill, my best friend, Blue Moons, and my favorite band. I showed up at doors, chilled for an hour, impatiently listened to the openers, and then lost myself for a couple hours in a mind blowingly amazing show. It was the first time The Head and the Heart has headlined in SF, and due to our strategic early arrival, I was pressed up front right, so close to the speakers that my legs shook with the bass, watching hands slide on strings and socked feet hop about on the stage while occasionally convincing myself I had locked eyes with the lead singers. The show sold out weeks ago, and they showed us why.

Before starting the last song Jon belted out that he was dying for a cigarette, so after last croon I booked it for the patio area, met the band, expressed my undying devotion, got snapshots, and found out that Charity is nice and shy and not in the least bit indie bitchy like I thought she might be. Then I bought too much merch, cabbed it home and went to sleep with a goofy grin, nestling into bed at one with guitar rifts still ringing in my ears. It is Wednesdays like these and the people I share them with that I will never forget when I am old and boring and thinking back when. These are the places I will always go.

Today’s Emo: Josh McBride / The Head and the Heart

‘darling this is when I met you / for the third time not the last / not the the last time we are learning / who we are and what we were’

This is a new song and it is meant for a campfire. Josh McBride (also known as Seat Beside Me) was one of several unreleased tracks performed, and it was really something – smooth harmonies, trickles on keys, steady strumming and heartfelt vocals. Most of the audience hadn’t heard it yet because they don’t stalk THATH the way I do, and there was that “oh wow” moment of hush when it ended, like people had just experienced something great for the first time and were soaking it in. And then epic applause.

The chorus of ‘you are in the seat beside me‘ makes me think of Death Cab’s Passenger Seat, and while it is unique in its own right, this song evokes similar sentiment– that peaceful comfort of companionship and conviction in who you have next to you at the end of the day. Or the want for that space to be filled. #emo

Today’s Untz: Lisztomania (Phoenix cover) / Edwin Van Cleef ft. Jane Hanely

‘these days it comes, it comes, it comes, it comes, it comes and goes’

I have been hungry for new Phoenix for some time now and thus forced to temporarily satiate myself with remixes. Luckily there is no lack of options. Classixx has a standout take on Lisztomania, and now UK DJ/producer Edwin Van Cleef has made a great go at it, twisting in female vocals from Jane Hanely to give one of the most remixed songs of the past few years new life.

This is the first I have heard of Mr. Cleef, and while I suggest he get a new stage name I will have to keep him on my radar because I want to dance to this. And dance and dance and dance. #untz


save the cat

27 Apr

Stumbled onto open mic night Tuesdays at Red Devil Lounge due to making drunk friends with a local musician last weekend. Will not miss another… and not just because the crowd was 90% male in plaid. I forgot how lucky I am to live in a big city – it was like a high school talent show for grown ups. Very talented grown ups.

Today’s Emo: I Found a Reason / Cat Power

‘what comes is better than what came before’

I popped an old mixed CD in the Honda last weekend while driving to Los Gatos with my sister and was taken by this almost forgotten subtle Cat Power cover of Velvet Underground that had been gathering dust. There is not much too it – the track clocks in at about 2 minutes and is simple at best, but CP’s version of I Found a Reason is the kind of song that instantly puts you at ease and makes you want to curl up into something (or someone).

I caught Cat Power (less fun non-stage name Chan Marshall) live at a Bridge School Concert a few years back and I don’t remember her being particularly stunning in terms of presence –I think she struggles with stage fright. Still, her voice is enough to carry her… smoky, sultry and sweet without being gooey. Female vocals at their finest, perfect midweek chill sesh. #emo

Today’s Untz: Save the World Tonight / Swedish House Mafia

‘turn up the love now/ listen up now/ turn up the love’

SHM released a new track this week featuring the vocal prowess of John Martin of Miike Snow and I am shamelessly floored. This delightful untz drips of boy band and makes me want to dance like fifteen year old me wanted to dance to N’Sync.

I love the piano break, love the oooh-oooooh echos for singalong like in Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody (favorite karoke song), love that this epic euro untz is somehow earnest amidst all the cheese. Can always count on Pete Tong / BBC Radio 1 to put magic like this on the airwaves.

Oooh-oooooh. #untz

whale trak

25 Apr

Spring brings our beloved national pastime back into play, and a slew of drunken revelers passing through the ally way outside my office on game days. I know the Giants are playing an afternoon game anytime there is in influx of weed clouds, brawling, or public urination beyond the usual mayhem that can occur any given weekday on the streets of SOMA.

While it is exciting to have National Champions in the backyard, I will miss last year’s random Wednesdays when I snagged last minute $11 bleacher seats, downed a few at 21st Amendment after work and slipped into a spontaneous, fun filled evening. Now it is buying tickets weeks ahead and dropping four times the cash. It feels a little bit like that bittersweet moment when your favorite up and coming band has arrived, and you can no longer stand front row at their concert and lock eyes dreamily with the bass player for less than a movie ticket. You are really happy for them, but they suddenly feel less accessible, less… yours.

Still, it is really ridiculous for me to complain, especially after many depressing years of being a Mariners fan. I went to my first game yesterday afternoon, and even though it was a heartbreaking 10th inning defeat, the beard is feared.

Today’s Emo: Golden /The Devil Whale

‘I thought I heard someone say a prayer / and the words felt stolen’

Another band name with whale in it, although I believe panda is still the most represented member of the animal kingdom in band and dj names these days. I discovered The Devil Whale while doing homework for an upcoming concert – they open for the Head and the Heart Wednesday night at The Bottom of the Hill. Pleasant vocals, swaying melodies, and tambourines, these guys will be the perfect way to start what is sure to be a heavenly emo evening. #emo

Today’s Untz: Heads Will Roll / The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (A-Trak remix)

glitter on the wet streets / silver over everything’

I found Skrillex a little too much dub to take with my cornflakes on Saturday morning of Coachella, so A-Trak was the first untz set that I really settled into. And by settle into I mean get epically unsettled dancing. The crowd went nuts for Barbara Streisand (A-Trak is 1/2 of Duck Sauce) but it was hearing his version of Heads Will Roll live that had me undone…. and not just because it made me think of the magical dance sequence on the Halloween episode of Glee. Great energy, great friends, great #untz

national harvest

22 Apr

Story time:

I grew up in a house where we referred to Neil Young on a first name basis. I learned about Crazy Horse while playing with My Little Ponies, and I subconsciously memorized the lyrics to all of his songs by age 10, including some I really shouldn’t have (I wish I was a trapper / I would give a thousand pelts / to sleep with Pocahontas / and find out how she felt.’ Neil was an inescapable fixture in our home, from our tape deck in the volvo station wagon to our family holiday soundtrack, when my dad would try to slide Rust Never Sleeps into the CD player in the place of Handel’s Messiah whenever my mom stepped into the garage to grab more ornaments.

Accordingly, I hated Neil Young with a fiery passion throughout the majority of my life.

In the past few years though, things have changed. I caught a couple of Neil’s Bridge School Benefit Concerts at Shoreline, and was impressed with his dedication to his family and the enormous respect he has garnered from his peers. When I go back to Oregon I no longer cringe when I am greeted with Rockin’ in the Free World (which also happens to be our home internet password), and these days I find the vanity license plate “Walk On” more amusing than annoying.

As my musical tastes have matured, Neil’s whiny voice sounds a little more palatable and his once gibberish laced lyrics now make at least a little sense. In the end, I have come to realize my dad showed me what it meant to love music before I knew how. Today’s untz may not be an actual Neil song, but this is as close as the TUATE is going to get.

Today’s Emo: Exile Vilify / The National

‘does it trouble your mind / the way you trouble mine?

I lost my shit during The National’s set on Sunday night, so imagine my delight in the release of a new track on Tuesday to help cure my ever aching Coachella withdrawal. While I wasn’t won over by the group’s release of Think You Can Wait last month, I instantly fell for this one… I am such a sucker for piano, and I can picture fingers rolling lazily but deftly across keys in this intro, leading me into the song.

Exile Vilify has all the elements that make The National my favorite band: a mini orchestra, flawless melodies, and Matt Berninger’s signature baritone, which is somehow both calming and haunting, chilling and comforting at the same time. The strings cut everything up and then smooth it together, and I am lost on repeat. #emo

Today’s Untz: Harvest Moon (Neil Young Cover) / Teen Daze

‘because I’m still in love with you / I want to see you dance again’

I will go so far as to admit I actually like a few Neil songs now, and with its simple, cut to the heart lyrics, and swaying on the dance floor rhythm, Harvest Moon is one of my favorites. Although my father may find it slightly sacrilegious, this Teen Daze cover has me smitten… with soft vocals and dreamy rolling beats, the original version is hardly traceable, but isn’t lost here. At this point in life, I must have heard this song a thousand times, but I’ve never heard it like this. #untz

freelance home

20 Apr

Three days later and I can still feel the presence of the desert lingering on my skin. Acclimating back to regular life has made me realize just how much I needed a break from it. For the first time in weeks I popped in both earbuds and lost myself on Hypem and Pandora for a few hours on Tuesday afternoon at work. Having a terrible cold (a well earned souvenir from this weekend) has kept people at arm’s length since my return, and it has been a peaceful way to sift through the several hundred emails waiting for me.

Music keeps me sane.

Today’s Emo: Girl U Want (Devo cover) / Freelance Whales

‘but the words get stuck on the tip of your tongue / and she’s the real thing but you knew it all along’

Nice to hear some strong American talent after so many European and Australian bands have made their way into these posts. Freelance Whales is an indie rock quintet hailing from Queens that is building a steady fan base since they formed in 2008. Sadly, I missed the group at Coachella, but I am loving what they have done here with an almost unrecognizable cover of Devo’s 80’s hit Girl U Want. First, props to Devo for spelling ‘you’ ‘u’ before the rise of text messages. They were clearly before their time. Second, if you haven’t heard the original version yet, don’t bother. It is pretty terrible.

Freelance Whale’s take, however, is something to settle into. Calming vocals, gentle piano, and a lazy, simple take on the lyrics. It’s one of those songs that can’t help but cause a quick pang of ‘I want someone to feel this way about me.’ #emo

Today’s Untz: Take Me Home / Germany Germany

Someday, when I have made it big in life, I will invest in a room with amazingly plush, soft carpet, floor to ceiling windows, and an epic sound system. And then I will lie on the ground on my back for hours and listen to and feel songs like this. Trickles of rain beads slip into something steady, with beat built upon layer of beat, and a beautiful flourish at the end. I am loving this song even more than Germany Germany’s Take Your Time… my only complaint is that it ends too soon. Gentle #untz

stay close and hold me

18 Apr

So Coachella happened. And it exceeded the highest of expectations on all counts. I was tireder, happier, crazier, and loved my friends more than I imagined possible. I cried during The National’s performance of Terrible Love at sunset and had to calm myself so I didn’t hyperventilate during the Twelve’s set while dancing my face off in reckless abandon in bright 2 pm 90 degree sunlight. It was truly a beautiful weekend that embodied all of me that is both untz and emo.

Even though I averaged 4 hours of sleep a night thanks to campground parties til the wee hours of the morning followed by a very glaring wake up call at 7 with the sun, I feel invigorated. We drove through Sunday night, I drifted into a coma from 5-11 this morning and have been watching my favorite sets and all that I missed on YouTube since. Today’s post features a couple songs from of an endless list of highlights from the weekend. Back to real life tomorrow.

Todays Emo: Stay Close / Delorean

‘I could never stand not being closer

Started day 3 of Coachella with Delorean’s set. They opened with their single Stay Close, and it was the perfect way to start the day, shake off sleepiness, settle into the couple beers I had with breakfast and soak some energy back up.

Delorean is an indie pop quartet from the Basque Country who have been together since 2000, but this is the first I have caught of them. The group was so happy to be there and I loved watching them show it, even though the lead singer’s teeth are distractingly terrible. From open to close the song itself pours out happiness, with cooing female echos chopped into layers of dreamy synth and steady beats. If you need any further reason to lose yourself in the glow, watch a few minutes of the song’s splashes of summer music video. #emo

Today’s Untz: You Used to Hold Me (Laidback Luke remix) / Calvin Harris

‘knocked down with everything I tried to do / that sounds something like me holding you’

It was a weekend of artists being playful and sampling a lot of their comrade’s work, so while Calvin didn’t come lay his original version of this track out, Luke nailed it Saturday evening a little before sundown in the Sahara tent. Epic lights, epic energy, Luke sliced in a bit of Robyn’s Indestructible before slipping seamlessly into his remix of You Used to Hold Me. Not the best sound quality but you can get a good feel for the experience here. Also funny people start booing at the end of this clip when LBL starts a mix of Viva La Vida. Coachella untzers were simply NOT down with Coldplay. #untz

skinny kicks

13 Apr

Pardon my brevity, but I have an epic adventure to prepare for. It has been a fairly emo past week or so for me, and I am looking forward to heading south, seeing my Grandpa in Palm Springs for a night and then losing myself in the desert at a campsite marked by a giant Deadmau5 head and never ending music.

Signing out until I get back. Stay tuned!

Today’s Emo: Skinny Love (Bon Iver c0ver) / Birdy

‘come on skinny love just last the year / pour a little salt we were never here’

A beautiful take on a Bon Iver classic, this cover sets in chills just like the original. I love this striped down, piano driven version of Skinny Love just like I love Sky Ferriera’s take on Animal… there is something simple and ethereal embedded in here. I always thought of this song as romantic, but Birdy’s take conveys some sort of subtle despair, and I listened to it on repeat at work all Tuesday (emo).

The awe inspiring part about this whole bit is that the girl is barely a teenager… Jasmine Van Den Bogaerde is a whopping fourteen years old. Floored. #emo

Today’s Untz: Pumped Up Kicks (the Knocks Remix) / Foster the People

‘he’s got a rolled cigarette hanging out his mouth / he’s a cowboy kid’

The Knocks slice something speedy into a favorite Foster the People song, and the result is indie untz bliss. The original version of Pumped Up Kicks is agreeable but lacks an edge… The Knock’s version deserves speakers up, windows down. Happiness. #untz

all my swedish friends

11 Apr

All my training translated into a happy, beautiful half marathon along the coast. Now running fever has turned into desert fever. Get me to Coachella! Four days.

Today’s Emo: All My Friends / LCD Soundsytem

‘you spent the first five years trying to get with the plan / and the next five years trying to be with your friends again’

So sad that LCD played their last show together a couple of weeks ago in NYC. Gearing up for their performance last year, this was our Coachella 2010 anthem, often on repeat during the 8.5 hour drive down to Indio which became 12 hours due to traffic, pit stops, and 2 hours in line for car searches once we arrived at the campground. Now whenever I am drunk and near a jukebox, it is my go to pick… the start of tinkering keys in the intro make me smile every time.

What a perfect set of lyrics and the perfect kind of sentiment to settle into for three days of revelry, dirt, desert, and forgetting everything outside of the circle of amazing people and the music you get lost in out there.

I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision for another five years of life.

Today’s Untz: One (Swedish House Mafia Cover) /  Foals

‘I wanna know your name / you just kill me, could you do that?’

I know Foals for their beautiful, gentle, rolling emo opus Spanish Sahara. The UK  indie band and the gods that make up Swedish House Mafia have little in common, and that’s what makes this cover so fun. I think back to when I got upset Butch Clancy injected dubstep into an untouchable emo song, Band of Horses’ Funeral. Well, here is an emo band taking on an untouchable untz song and rocking it, while sending me straight back to the original on repeat. Will be seeing both Foals and Axwell of Swedish House Mafia next weekend, dancing my face off. #untz

east sunlight

8 Apr

The head versus the heart.

Today’s Emo: Blood / The Middle East

‘and she’ll wake up in a cold sweat on the floor / next to a family portrait drawn when you were four’

Holy shit this is emo. In fact, if you listen to the words in Blood, it is arguably the most emo song I have yet to post. It is also one of the most beautiful, tracing the sad lineage of a sibling to a father to a grandfather, who has waited to die ever since his wife died because… ‘it was the only woman you ever loved / that got burnt by the sun too often when she was young / and the cancer spread and it ran into her body and her blood.’

Australian The Middle East creates such bone chilling songs with such a sweet sound, and this makes them all the more haunting. A song that lingers. #emo

Today’s Untz: Sunlight / Bag Raiders

‘don’t you know that / when I see your face / it’s like sunlight dripping’

OK OK a little light hearted untz to shake off that darkness and step into the sunlight of the weekend. Disco rhythms, smile inducing lyrics, and a laissez faire feel, the song is dripping with summer. Keeping up with today’s Aussie theme, this dance duo from Down Under played what I heard was an all out epic show at Rickhaw Stop a Thursday back (think clothes ripped off and beer showers in a good way). I am kicking myself for not catching them at my one of my favorite venues, but I know my workday on Friday appreciated my discretion. Next time. #untz

swift first aid

6 Apr

Finishing up training for the Santa Cruz half marathon this coming Sunday. Regardless of what happens, a big thank you to the harem of gentlemen who have helped me train – James, Ted, Travis and Dana, as well as Florence + The Machine’s Dog Days and Born to Run‘s Caballo Blanco for inspiration.

Now it’s time to put together the perfect soundtrack. During my first half last November I made a terrible rookie mistake. At mile 10, when I was gearing up to put on some epic Tiesto for the final 3.1 I popped my nano into the top of my sports bra to secure my ponytail. Suddenly things fell quiet. My boobs broke my ipod… my decrepit player from college was no match to water resist the dew.  Thus the last three miles were ran in silent frustration, and while they were actually the fastest in all my training, they were oh so lonely.

This time I have a new nano that clips onto the side of my shorts, I know that peanut butter and banana on toast is good, coffee is bad, and preventative Advil is a must. And I have decided to take all the Untzes posted in the past few months as company. #bringit

Today’s Emo: White Blank Page (Mumford and Sons cover) / Taylor Swift

‘you desired my attention / but denied my affections / my affections’

We all have our guilty pleasures, and one of mine happens to be a squinty eyed twenty one year old country crooner who won me over in a particularly vulnerable point in my life with her first single, Tim McGraw (Oregon country roots can’t be broken). While I found her recent album release to be a disappointment with an angry rant of a song against John Mayer and another whiny yawn inducing lament about her break up with Taylor Lautner some December (a month that Team Jacob fans will celebrate forever) I am back on Team Swift with this heartfelt cover of Mumford and Sons’ classic White Blank Page.

The emotion is real, a female take on the vocals is sweet, and I will let the fact that she accidentally has a bit of a fake English accent in parts slide because I accidentally have a bit of a fake English accent after listening to too much Mumford. A chilling, beautiful song in its own right, it is refreshing to see Taylor make it her own and emote some of her boy angst in a way that I can still adore. #emo

Today’s Untz: Move for First Aid / Deadmau5 vs. Michael Woods (Kasade Remix)

‘waited all week just to get out’

I know I have posted a lot of Deadmau5 and Kaskade lately but I can’t help myself… I had some ideas for today’s untz, but when my friend Jenn sent this track out on an email thread, I dropped everything. Kaskade fold’s Michael Woods’ First Aid into Move for Me, turning the dreamy trance anthem into something a little more urgent and truly movement inducing.

I have seen Kaskade live a couple times now, and interestingly enough beyond having dashing good looks and mad talent, a young Kaskade practiced his mixing skills in the dorms of BYU. As in Brigham Young. A man who can get any party started was ironically raised as a Mormon and spent two years on a mission in Japan before bringing the untz world to its knees. I am glad that instead of creating a family of ten he is creating spectacular mixes like this to help me through my work week, and am open for consideration to be one of his future wives.  #untz