Friday, January 1, 2010

Return of Bona Fide

Since a new year calls for new beginnings, it is time for Bona Fide With Headphones to end its hiatus. 2010 is already revealing itself to be an important year for music, with bands and musicians returning to the recording studio and undiscovered artists beginning to receive some recognition, and Bona Fide can't wait to introduce you to what's new in music as the year progresses. Music news and album and concert reviews will return to Bona Fide along with interviews with a host of musicians and bands, well-known and obscure. Also, Bona Fide hopes to give you daily doses of music media, including music videos, snippets of live performances, and more, to keep you media and music savvy.

Want to get an idea of which albums I will be reviewing and which bands I will be seeing live? Check out the list of anticipated albums of 2010 compiled by one of my favorite music blogs, Stereogum. My favorites? Vampire Weekend, Spoon, MGMT, Los Campesinos!, LCD Soundsystem, Panda Bear, Frightened Rabbit, Arcade Fire, No Age, She & Him, of Montreal, Dum Dum Girls, Wavves, Band of Horses, The Thermals, The Walkmen, Gorillaz, Born Ruffians, OutKast, and James Mercer & Dangermouse to name a few... Well, to name all of them really.

And what do I have to say about 2009? Well, it was an interesting year for music. I believe the bands who were just a blip everyone's radar in 2008 were thrust into the spotlight in 2009. And for bands such as Passion Pit and Phoenix, who had been making music throughout 2008 and released extraordinary records during the summer of 2009, and many others, the spotlight is well deserved. But for me, 2009 was the year for wild and ridiculous pop music, and I think this video sums it up.

To bring us back to the present though, may the new year make our ears happy. I hope music lovers everywhere had a fantastic holiday season and I hope they have an even better 2010. Make sure to keep checking Bona Fide With Headphones often in the new year... !

Saturday, October 17, 2009

From Pixels To Paper

Since June, BONA FIDE has been developing a collection of exclusive content. Featuring concert reviews, playlists, up and coming musicians, a sit down interview with Matt & Kim, and more, BONA FIDE WITH HEADPHONES magazine is now available! Click here to purchase the magazine containing information and content you won't find on the website. Also, after paying for publishing costs, my profit for the magazine is a dollar per issue, and I am donating 25% of that to the Kiva Foundation.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hypnotic Embryonic

For a band that seems to have done everything, The Flaming Lips somehow manage to keep innovating. Known for their experimental tendencies when constructing their music, The Flaming Lips have been merging and warping the signature sounds of nearly every music genre since 1983 when lead singer, Wayne Coyne formed the band. Creating messy, musical pandemonium is the Lips’ expertise. Listening to Embryonic, the band’s twelfth studio album that was released on October 13, can prove this.

Embryonic came about in a way that is unusual, even for The Flaming Lips. Once inspiration struck, the band of mavericks decided it was time to record some new material, only without the studio setting or the standard track-by-track construction of songs. Instead, The Flaming Lips crowded into guitarist and drummer, Steven Drozd’s house and began a seemingly infinite succession of improvised jam sessions. The time spent noodling on guitar, improvising melodies, and playing by ear led to the creation of the demo recordings for the tripped-out double album Embryonic. The majority of these tracks, neither edited nor changed, became final songs that can be heard on the album.

This musical approach is normally unappealing, but listeners will be pleasantly surprised when they hear the euphonic sound of Embryonic. Heavy bass punctuates Coyne’s dreamlike voice as it almost drowns in the music, while trembling high hats and electronic beats provide the melody for tracks like “The Sparrow Looks Up At The Machine,” a track fairly reminiscent of Pink Floyd. Guitarist Drozd supplies each strange song with a dynamic range of sounds, his guitar reverberating from echoing chords to blunt twangs to guitar solos sometimes akin to those of Led Zeppelin. And with Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and MGMT contributing to the songs “I Can Be A Frog” and “Worm Mountain” respectively, the album is truly a collection of some of the most distinctive and daring musicians and sounds in rock music today.

The Flaming Lips have successfully encapsulated the sound and style of various musicians, genres, and improvisations, and transformed them into Embryonic, an album that can only be described as a wild ride.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Passion In The Pit... With Passion Pit And Phoenix

Brilliant lights, deafening music, and the rowdy roar of a crowd stirred Central Park, usually a tranquil place for New Yorkers to relax, on September 25. The raucous electro pop group, Passion Pit and French alt rock sensation, Phoenix played a sold out show there that night and awakened the mass that had come to see them perform. With twinkling stars and skyscrapers in the distance, this indie dream team entranced their fans with their unique sounds and made them move all night long.

Passion Pit took the stage first, just as the sky had begun to grow dark, and the crowd restless. Using tinkling keyboards, addictive drumbeats, and the simple plucks of bass strings, Passion Pit induced, at the very least, instant foot tapping in every person in the crowd. As the set progressed, they seemed to have the entire crowd jumping and shouting along with lead singer, Michael Angelakos, whose passionate cries and high-pitched croons stole the show. That is, until the microphones cut and his voice disappeared. Then, laughing, Angelakos threw his hands in the air and led the crowd in steady handclapping that synchronized with the keyboard’s pulse. “This is what happens,” he chuckled, “when you get a little rough.“

Once the mikes came back on, Passion Pit continued to play favorites such as “Make Light,” “Sleepyhead,” and “Little Secrets,” which they dedicated to Phoenix, among other soaring tracks from their latest album, Manners. Meanwhile, Angelakos continued to twirl his mike and strut around the stage while he sang, his curly hair bobbing along with his steps. He only faltered once, when he stopped to marvel at a glow stick that had been thrown onstage. “Glow sticks in Central Park? I like it!” he exclaimed as he waved it around, and as the group of teenagers behind me, who I learned had bought them and thrown them into the massive throng, screamed.

By the time Phoenix stepped onstage, the crowd was giddy, their relentless dancing offsetting the slight autumn chill. Deafening cheers and shouts greeted the four quiet Frenchmen that make up Phoenix, and the clamor only got louder when they launched into “Lisztomania,” the song that established their success in the United States. They played the majority of the tracks from their most recent album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, and some older tracks, such as “Napoleon Says,” and “Run Run Run” from 2006’s It’s Never Been Like That and 2004’s Alphabetical, respectively. Every song enthralled the audience, and those who weren’t veteran Phoenix fans were still delighted when lead singer, Thomas Mars began to casually croon an older tune.

Mars only addressed the crowd to share truly heartfelt thank yous and encourage clapping along with the music. The loud whirring of the drums and throbbing guitar riffs, that would stomp around the stage if they could, were truly reactive with each other, combining to make a throbbing sound that was both quick and rhythmic in “Consolation Prizes,” and thunderously ethereal, during seven-minute trance-inducers like “Love Like a Sunset.” The show was also littered with instrumental interludes, which showcased Phoenix’s guitarists, Laurent Brancowitz and Christian Mazzalai’s talent and reverberating guitar riffs.

The moment Mars and his band mates began to walk offstage at the end of their set, the massive crowd began screaming for an encore. Phoenix, of course, obliged, whipping the multitude into a frenzy one last time and ending with “1901” which generated the loudest and most ecstatic shouts that the night. Mars had the largest smile on his face during that song, and he emphasized his enthusiasm when he clambered on top of a massive speaker overlooking the audience and dove into the crowd.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Slip Into The Autumn Shade

School is back in session, the air is cool and crisp, and the leaves are turning brown and gold. Autumn is here, Music Lovers, which means another season of upcoming album releases, emerging musical talent, and captivating live shows. BONA FIDE will be churning out even more information and reviews and quite a few unique and intriguing articles, so expect to be elated when you stop by BONA FIDE WITH HEADPHONES.

Monday, July 6, 2009

UPDATE - Arctic Monkeys//The Dead Weather

New music and videos from Arctic Monkeys and The Dead Weather today. The sad thing is, I didn't enjoy them as much as I hoped to. The Dead Weather's new music contains nonsensical lyrics (You know I look like a woman but I... Cut like a buffalo) and the music is starting to sound stale. I imagined that Jack White had another fantastic band up his sleeves, but the bluesy, stomping sound of The Dead Weather.... sounds like the bluesy, stomping sound of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs in many instances. I guess they all can't be winners. Watch "I Cut Like A Buffalo" below and find the video for "Will There Be Enough Water?" here.


Now, Arctic Monkeys surprised me. The dark and stormy track, "Crying Lightening," is the first song to be released from Humbug and it's extremely different. It lacks the catchiness of past Arctic Monkeys tracks, but "Crying Lightening" is definitely heavy and powerful. Hopefully this new sound will work for the rest of the songs off of Humbug and will keep us all entertained when the album drops and we can hear the rest. For now I am pretty impartial, but you can be the judge once you listen to the new single. While you wait for tomorrow's official release of "Crying Lightening," you can hear the track below.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tuesday Night Lacked Explosions

You know how I said that was going to the Explosions In The Sky concert in Central Park? Well, that didn't happen. Education intervened and I was required to attend the "Russian Fest" performance of Philharmonic Summer Classics that night instead. I took an "NY Music Scene" course this past week at Barnard College's PCP, or Pre-College Program (Don't ask me why that was the abbreviation chosen for the program. When people ask me, "What did you do this summer?" I guess I have to say, "I did PCP for a week.") that entailed me to write three concert reviews and attend the Philharmonic and then Minton's Playhouse to see Patience Higgins and the Sugar Hill Quartet perform at the infamous jazz club in Harlem. Of course these requirements were entertaining and I plan to post my reviews later this week, but I am still disappointed that I missed Explosions. That being said, I googled the show this morning and found a review of the show along with the setlist and MP3s of the songs performed. So click here to download the songs and learn more about Explosions 10th anniversary gig.