Thursday, November 26, 2009

Youth & Young Manhood: The 1st & Best Kings of Leon Album Ever

Most people had never heard of Kings of Leon until last year when their hit single Sex on Fire from the album Only By The Night became one of the most played songs on the radio. The track got SO played out that the band even apologized to the audience at their August 22nd LA show before playing the song. 

I was at that 8/22 show at The Forum & was thoroughly impressed by Kings of Leon's performance. Lead singer, Caleb Followill, has a voice that sounds as flawless live as it sounds on the Kings' records &, with the help of his incredibly talented family, brothers Nathan & Jared Followill & cousin Matthew Followill, he puts on a show you won't soon forget.

Kings of Leon have released 4 albums in the past 6 years: Youth and Young Manhood (2003), Aha Shake Heartbreak (2004), Because of the Times (2007) & Only by the Night (2008). Only By The Night may be the album that turned the band into a global sensation but Youth and Young Manhood is still my favorite.

Talihina Sky by Kings of Leon -

Dusty by Kings of Leon -

And, on that note, happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Flaming Lips' Live Show

My good friend Bobby said something quite profound to me the day before I was going to see The Flaming Lips for my 1st time on 8/17/09 at the beautiful outdoor Greek Theater in LA:

"You only get to see The Flaming Lips for your 1st time once."

Now I realize that's a fairly obvious statement but, at the time, I could barely contain the overwhelming excitement I was feeling in anticipation of seeing a band that is acclaimed worldwide for its spectacular musical productions. Sometimes I make the mistake of expecting too much from a particular band or artist's live performance but, in the case of The Flaming Lips, my expectations were beyond exceeded.

The show was on a warm Monday night in August at my favorite outdoor venue in LA, The Greek Theater. I love the Hollywood Bowl too (especially because you can bring in your own booze & food) but The Greek holds a special place in my heart. It's smaller than The Bowl & the theater itself is completely surrounded by huge trees that help contain the sound to give you an even more intense acoustic experience.

So my 1st Flaming Lips experience was at my favorite outdoor venue & there was an added bonus...Ghostland Observatory was opening for the Lips! I'd seen Ghostland one time before at Coachella in April 2009. Their show in the desert was amazing & their opening set for the Lips at The Greek was even more amazing. Frontman Aaron Behrens' crazy, falsetto vocals & funky dance moves paired perfectly with Thomas Ross Turner's exceptional drum & synthesizer talents. To top it all off, their laser light show was phenomenal! The colorful beams of light were so powerful that they shot straight to the back of theater & bounced off the trees all around the perimeter. It created a visual effect unlike anything else I'd ever seen. I was so happy my concert buddy Andy & I had made a point to get to the venue in plenty of time to catch this entire opening act.

To get an idea of what the lasers looked like & what Ghostland sounded like, check out: 

Believe NEED to watch that clip :-)

After a brief intermission, The Flaming Lips made an entrance I'll never forget. The main large screen at the back of the stage had an electronic, artsy image of a woman's "nether regions" that zoomed in closer & closer until the screen was filled only with this one image. Suddenly, from the middle of the woman's "flower", a zipper started to unzip & out came the band members one by one, stepping down a small flight of stairs that had been rolled in front of the screen while no one in the audience was even paying attention. Of course, lead singer Wayne Coyne was the last to emerge. The crowd went wild :-)

Now, because I don't want to ruin all the surprises you might encounter at your 1st Flaming Lips show, I won't give you a play by play of the entire show. I will only say that there was a ridiculous amount of confetti, dry ice shooting out everywhere, giant balloons bouncing all over the theater, costumed characters dancing on the sides of the stage, Wayne rolling around on the crowd in his plastic, man-sized bubble, Yoshimi sing-a-longs, super creative imagery & insane light displays.

I walked out of The Greek Theater that night in a daze of pure bliss.

For just a taste:

The Flaming Lips' most recent album Embryonic was released on 10/13/09 & it's been getting rave reviews. I feel lucky to have seen some of their new songs performed live before the new album was even released. As a gift to the fans, The Lips sent you 3 free downloads of songs from Embryonic along with your ticket purchase so you could get acquainted with some of their new material before hearing it live.

There's a reason that, in 2002, the British publication Q Magazine listed The Flaming Lips as one of the "50 Bands To See Before You Die." In my opinion, they're one of the Top 10.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blakroc's Debut Album Out This Friday 11/27!

I have been waiting for this album for months! I got lucky & was sent a leaked copy so I've been blasting it in my apartment all weekend. It makes me happy :-)

The new BLAKROC album is a rap rock collaboration featuring, one of my favorite bands ever, The Black Keys along with some of my favorite hip hop artists, including Mos Def, RZA, Raekwon, Q-Tip, Ludacris, Pharoahe Monch, M.O.P.'s Billy Danze, Jim Jones, Damon Dash, & the late Ol' Dirty Bastard.

I'm a huge fan of both rock & hip hop music so I greatly appreciate the effort The Black Keys made to bring all these extremely talented artists together to create something new & different. The Black Keys' guitar & drums are the perfect musical backing for these legendary rappers' smooth flows.

For a few examples of why you need to get your hands on this album as soon as you can, check out:

Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Choo) featuring Mos Def & Jim Jones -

Dollaz & Sense featuring RZA & Pharoahe Monch -

What You Do To Me featuring Billy Danze, Jim Jones & Nicole Wray -

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Friendly Fires & The XX @ The Fonda in Hollywood - 11/21/09

What better day to start my music blog than the day after my most recent show!

Last night, Saturday Nov. 21st, I went to see Friendly Fires & The XX at the Fonda in Hollywood, CA. The XX is a young British quartet that I was only recently introduced to in early October. The female lead singer, Romy Madley Croft, has a very soft & breathy voice that adds a sexy element to their music.

For not knowing their entire repertoire, I enjoyed their show a lot. They could've used a more creative lighting set-up to enhance the mood a bit but, for being relatively new to the scene, they did a decent job.

Crystalised by The XX -

Friendly Fires was last night's headlining act. FFs are another young British group whose genre can best be classified as dance punk indie pop (the more categories, the more variety!). I'd heard of these guys before but never really listened to their music until I was turned onto The XX & got tickets to their show that Friendly Fires just happened to be headlining. I needed to do some homework.

Friendly Fire's music is fun & energetic with cool beats, the lead singer is a great dancer & they make very visually creative music videos. I think I was expecting a little more from their live performance than I got last night but I still had a great time dancing with all the diehard fans. Again, they definitely could've stepped it up a notch with their lighting but not every show can have visuals as breathtaking as I've seen at Phish, The Flaming Lips, Radiohead, Roger Waters, Daft Punk, etc. I've probably just become a lighting snob.

Skeleton Boy by Friendly Fires -

Last night's show didn't necessarily blow me away but there are countless concerts I've attended that did. You'll hear all about the classic shows I'll never forget in posts to come :-)