Chucks is happy to be reporting back to you on its first ever visit to All Points West. Weather and an unfavorable Saturday lineup caused us to miss the first two days, but we were there for the third day. The early-afternoon rain let up just in time for the gates to open at about 4 but great weather didn’t make climbing in and out of the mud swamps any easier. We did our fair share of running from stage to stage, treading through the ubiquitous quicksand and altogether becoming so dirty that I am still washing the dirt from my skin. I’m completely serious; my feet are the shade of mud and I’ve taken two showers since Sunday.
See the photos and reviews below…

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Chairlift/PBJ in MPLS

April 22, 2009

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Chairflift opened for Peter, Bjorn and John last night at the Fine Line. I would like to say something insightful on the performances, but instead all I can think about is how long some parts were and how short others were. That and how the Fine Line played two entire Coldplay albums between sets! WTF?! Are you trying to burn my ears off? Show some fucking respect Fine Line DJ.

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Chairlift was on stage first, and they sounded great. Caroline Polachek is an incredibly sexy stage presence, which made me really surprised to see her anywhere but the middle of the stage, and out of the bright lights. She is the lead, and the band’s personality is really just hers. All three of them, but she especially seemed really excited to be playing “Brusies” for the umpteenth time, which tells me that they really like themselves. If these aren’t reasons enough to find them endearing see what I already said about them. It was especially fun to see them play the two new songs from the re-release of Does You Inspire You; I can’t even get my hands on these in digital form as I write this. As expected the real highlight of the show, and probably the night was “Evident Utensil.”

See the rest of the photos and a 12 second video…

The New Music Videos

February 24, 2009


Man did I feel like an underachiever when I found out that Lykke Li is a young 22. For indie artists, making a video is expensive and dollar for dollar they’re usually not worth their weight in promotion–at least not in the way that Beyonce and Soulja Boy use them. Who would have thought that making a one-take video could be so sweet? We hear what an artist actually sounds like, and improvised choreography is more personal and less imitable than “Single Ladies.” There’s no other artist for me that watching is so closely intertwined with hearing.

A lot has been on our minds at Chucks?. In particular I’ve been discussing with myself the Apple “endorsement curse” mentioned previously. I’ve been thinking through recent music, looking for the track most likely to be used in a commercial. It reminded me that plenty of indie artists (I mean this literally) have let their music be used for advertisements, and it’s not just Apple. Santogold Santigold’s “L.E.S. Artistes” was in a Ford Flex commercial, and Sea Wolf’s “You’re A Wolf” was used in a Honda Hybrid commercial. The same people that hate on Apple music, usually forget to bash these two songs.

Read the rest…

Lykke Li at the Varsity

February 9, 2009

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What is happening to live music? In just the last week, the E Street Band mimed their Superbowl performance, and TV on the Radio performed as a washed-out mess on SNL. SNL is notoriously bad on sound, and TVOTR seems like an impossible act to mic properly, but that doesn’t make it less awesome to see someone put on a great-sounding live show.

Lykke Li is an enthralling stage personality. While some acts are miming, lip-syncing and doing rehearsed choreography it’s refreshing to see someone do a good show and a good concert at the same time. A couple of simultaneously hilarious and sweet covers to go with a well-timed Southern Baptist Preacher impersonation brought her only full-length release to life.

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A few songs sounded better in person than on the record: “Breaking it Up” was definitely the highlight of the show, and “Let it Fall” was great. The sample skipped during “Complaint Department” but the band adroitly got back on stage to play it through, while Lykke Li sung on like nothing had happened. Li did the swell covers she’s been doing throughout this tour, A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It,” Lil’ Wayne’s “A Milli” and Kings of Leon’s “Knocked Up.” Altogether she’s just a fantastic performer.

More photos if you jump…

The 6 Best Albums of 2008

December 31, 2008

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This was a momentous year for music collections everywhere. That’s because I believe iTunes reached critical mass several years ago, and the fruits of properly recording Dates Added and Ratings are finally paying dividends–in the form of awesome smart playlists and an ongoing musical yearbook. Albums are the placeholders of the iPod generation, and iTunes is the calendar.

Thanks for noticing the obvious–Chucks? is not even a year old, but this is the internet, and there’s no law against backdating. So if you happen to get hit by economic woes and find yourself with an inordinate amount of free time this winter, consider fixing that clumsy library of yours.

You may wonder why this list includes only six albums has changed to include ten albums. There isn’t really a is a good answer to that: I underestimated several albums, and I was impatient with them. More important than the number of albums on this list, is knowing that I don’t believe it excludes a significant record released this year that it’s greater than six. That said, to the slothful and the cynics, I present the first annual Best Albums of 2008 list. Hopefully it will not be the last.

10.
we started nothing
The Ting Tings We Started Nothing – “Traffic Light”

9.
vampire weekend
Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend – “M79”

8.
modern guilt
Beck Modern Guilt“Gamma Ray”

7.
made in the dark
Hot Chip Made in the Dark – “We’re Looking for a lot of Love”

6.
youth novels
Lykke Li Youth Novels“I’m Good, I’m Gone”

5.
dear science
TV on The Radio Dear Science – “DLZ”

4.
mgmt
MGMT Oracular Spectacular“The Handshake”

3.
santogold
Santogold Santogold“Lights Out”

2.
thao
Thao Nguyen We Brave Bee Stings and All – “Feet Asleep”

Thao Nguyen’s infectious hooks and danceable grooves have (re)defined folk-pop as I know it. The sideways moving guitar rhythms make you move just like Thao would on stage even if you’ve never seen her before. Part of the album’s beauty is Thao’s introspective lyrics that are easily confused with silliness at first listen. For example: “All these years my feet asleep/move them around but they might breathe.” I’m sorry I didn’t listen to those of you who suggested Thao to me years ago, I promise to listen better next time.

1.
acid tongue
Jenny Lewis Acid Tongue“Acid Tongue”

It’s difficult to pay attention to alternative/rock/pop music without at least knowing Rilo Kiley. I knew of them but I’d never before given Rilo, or Jenny Lewis the devoted ear they deserved. I wasn’t drawn in enough until “Silver Lining,” which admittedly isn’t even one of the group’s very best songs. The live versions of “I Love LA” kept me entranced; and once I started paying attention, there wasn’t a voice this year that drew me in and held me so closely*.

So went 2008, the year that I developed a gigantic crush on the woman with a voice that must sound like delicate light shining through clouds. The simple arrangements and basic chord progressions of Acid Tongue allow Jenny Lewis’s voice to dominate. The best example of this is in the title track, which consists of only her, a guitar, and backup singers. Even if you play piano as well as me you could learn a few of the songs off this album, and that is one of the strengths of this recording; it is simplicity executed excellently.

*Except Feist of course.