Paul McCartney’s Farewell to Candlestick Park

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Paul McCartney is a pretty indescribable human being, and tens of thousands of people gathered in Candlestick Park last week just for him.

All our hearts collectively melted when he tenderly sang the ultimates he helped create like “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be,” but he switched guitars after every single song so he could go back and forth between those Beatles classics, Wings hits, and the songs on his latest albums.

He felt far away, one of the greatest musicians of all time becoming an assemblage of magnificent tiny specks on the stage. But the 72-year-old lit up the entire stadium with his energy, and the huge screens that formed the stage’s backdrop changed dramatically for every song which kept the momentum moving fast.

Paul gave loving shout-outs to “John” and later “George” before performing songs that they wrote, and the crowd sent both of the legends long cheers, straight up to music heaven.

The Beatles played their last concert in Candlestick Park in 1966, so it felt important for Paul McCartney to be the last to play on the field before the stadium is demolished, now that the 49ers are moving to Santa Clara.

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"Blackbird"!

“Blackbird”!

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Meet the 2F Collective: Experimental Music with Clout

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A couple of years ago, five kids met at New York University and started making music. It started as random sessions fueled by cheap wine from Trader Joes, but eventually they started recording and perfecting, drawing on influences from all over to create a serene yet deliberate experimental sound.

Melodies build on the beat as scattered voices sing out in Hindi, each song its own journey, taking the listener to imaginary exotic places. Jake Baxter, Nick Fraser, Henry Ott, Mike Hickey and Francesca Loeber make up the 2F Collective, and the group posted their first incredible album, “Wedding,” on SoundCloud this month.

Take a listen and get to know the people behind the sound in an interview Mike and the rest of 2F:


Where does the Indian feel in your music come from? 

Over the last year we’ve found a few hundred vinyl records on the street, and some of our favorites were Hindu devotional records and Bollywood soundtracks. We aren’t necessarily trying to go for a heavy Indian vibe, but the samples from those records were really inspiring and lent themselves well to the sound we were trying to create.

 

How did you guys come up with the name the “2f collective” and which band members do what within the songs?The name originated during a failed satanic ritual. Nick plays strings and synths, Jake plays drums, Mike sings and plays guitar, Henry plays guitar, and Francesca sings. All of us are always searching for new samples and often use field recorders to collect sounds that we hear throughout the day. Some songs are written by one of us, some by all four of us, but everyone ends up contributing something to each song.  Sometimes that means adding an instrument or a sample, other times it means changing the arrangement of the song. We all work together on the mixing and mastering of each song.

 

What’s the story behind your album artwork for Wedding?

We asked our friend Morgan Sitzler to do whatever she wanted for our album art. She was around our apartment for the entire process, from recording to mixing, and it seemed appropriate to have someone so close to the album’s musical composition take care of the visual aspect. Earlier this year she did the artwork for Henry’s Yantra EP (http://henryott.bandcamp.com/) and nailed the feeling of those songs so we felt confident that she would be able to do the same for Wedding.

 

Why did you name your first album Wedding?

We were listening to an old 78 vinyl of Mike’s grandparents’ wedding and the record started skipping in a really cool rhythmic way.  Luckily we were recording and captured it.  You can hear this at the very end of the album with his grandmother repeating “do until death.”

 

What’s the next step for 2f?

We’ve already begun work on a second album, and are rehearsing the Wedding songs live.  We’re also doing mastering for some friends’ albums, Nick is DJing in NYC, and Henry is collaborating with a friend on a concept album called Apeman 3000.

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Who are your all-time music idols?

Jake: I’ve had a few great percussion teachers over the years who opened my eyes to all types of world music. But to name a few artists, Shlohmo and Lizst.

Nick: The musicians who have had the biggest influence on me are Boys Noize, Nujabes, Shlohmo, Duke Dumont, Erol Alkan and Boards Of Canada. There are so many great artists Id love to mention who mean a lot to my song writing and DJing but I don’t want to bore you guys.

Mike: Bonobo, Wolfmother, Paul McCartney, D’Angelo

Henry: I listen to Frank Zappa, Sun Ra, and The Books.

Francesca: Beyonce, Barbara Streisand, Yukimi Nagano (Little Dragon) and Nujabes. They’re each so deliberate with every little detail.

 

What sorts of routines do you enact for making music? Are they different for recording versus just practicing?

Jake: I do something musical every day, either sampling, mixing, or composing. I’m working part time in a water store, which gives me a lot of free time to try out new ideas. My process is pretty consistent whether I’m recording or practicing.

Nick: That totally depends on what I’m doing. When I’m practicing or recording myself DJing, it’s a much more solitary thing because it’s just me and it’s all on me. I generally try to get really in the zone for that. Where as when we are rehearsing as 2f, it’s a much more relaxed thing because we all live together and are very close. Everyone has a lot going on so it’s really nice when we actually get a chance to rehearse together. We try to keep the mood really light, a lot of joking around and a few drinks. When we are recording it’s really much more of an anything goes sort of environment. We all trade roles of performer and recording engineer in the studio we have rigged up in our apartment. We also spend hours listening to records together looking for samples.

Mike: Usually I start with our records.  I’ve been slowly going through every one picking out the parts I like, and organizing them by instrument. So typically I’ll look through my sample library to find one that I think can carry a song.  Once I’ve got the main element I start making drums and then fill in the song with more samples or field recordings.

Henry: Adjusting to the way we compose our music with 2f required changing the way I make music. Rather than rehearsing the way a traditional band would with instruments, it requires constantly listening for cool sounds in your environment and recording them and sampling them. Making tracks in this mindset on a daily basis, and constantly working on each other’s tracks, is a large part of our sound.

Francesca: I don’t really have a routine. No matter what I just have to prep myself to be open to whatever I’m feeling and allow it to influence the groove

 

Where do you think the future of experimental music is headed? What do you want people to know about it — either the genre as a whole or 2f’s music specifically?

Jake: Experimental music to me means combining disparate elements into something cohesive. As the genre evolves I see artists weaving stranger and stranger pieces together. As for 2f, we’re trying to move towards a more satanic sound.

Nick: Kind of like experimental music in general, 2f is constantly changing because of all of the influences we draw on. It’s always what we are feeling at that time, which always changes. That way we are more free to explore ideas and move on instead of getting boxed into one way of doing things or one mindset. So you can expect some of the same stuff, but also a lot of new and very different things, and I imagine that is true for experimental music as well, although who is to say really.

Mike: That’s tough for me to say because I don’t really keep up with the current experimental scene. But in general I think experimental music, as opposed to more conventional music like pop and rock, relates more to the way people experience sound in the world. Sound doesn’t normally reach us as neat and tidily arranged sections of predictable timbre and energy, so I think it makes sense that music sometimes reflect the unpredictable flow of weird noises that we perceive every day.  For 2f, I’d like to see our music spread across as many styles as possible and try to touch on as many vibes as we can.

Henry: I hear a lot of people around me coming up with new and interesting sounds that could all fall under the category of experimental music. So that gives me hope that there’s some great music being made.

Francesca: The experimental part is most fun. It basically means we have no idea what were going to do until we do it. It’s just like creative and in the moment. The relationship between all the layers is probably the most important part.

 

For more from the 2F Collective, check them out on SoundCloud, Bandcamp and Youtube.

 

Meet The Novel Ideas: A Folk Band to Take You Home

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Simple melodies that build behind pure voices is music that’ll make you homesick. The Novel Ideas’ third album is called Home for a reason, with sweet lyrics about being alone and growing up, about remembering who you used to be and the people who helped you become the person you are now. But instead of a melancholy sound that laments the lost time, each song on Home has its own sweeping, bouncing rhythm – a soundtrack for memories, reunions and old times.

They describe themselves as a “folk rock outfit of friends” – Daniel, Danny, James, Sarah, Nick and Ezra. Last year the group recorded Home amidst the elements in a New Hampshire barn. Daniel, on guitar and vocals, was nice enough to answer a couple of questions about what it takes to make memory-filled music:

How did the six of you meet, and when did you first find out that you could make great music together?

Danny and I met in kindergarten, James and I met at Boston College. We met Sarah via Reddit. And Nick joined thanks to our Craigslist ad looking for a drummer. We’ve been working on new songs as a band and I can say that it is much more fun and successful than trying to work out songs while recording them.

 

What was it like recording “Home” in a New Hampshire barn?

Recording in New Hampshire was a really nice outlet for us. It was a rough summer in a lot of ways and having a place of respite to focus only on music was really nice. We’ll be recording some of the new album in the same barn which will be fun, except for the bugs.

 

Which band member writes the songs, and where do the lyrics originate?

Myself (Daniel), Danny and Sarah write the base of the songs but the songwriting process has been very collaborative. James is excellent at writing bass parts and has an amazing sense of harmony, while Nick has a knack for rhythm (naturally as a drummer) and song structure. Said simply, our lyrics originate from the experiences we go through. Some are sad, some are happy, some are bittersweet. Personally I find it impossible to be content writing anything I don’t feel is completely true, so writing honest lyrics is especially important to me.

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Which songs on Home do which vocalists sing, and what do you think the different voices offer your music?

Danny and I are the only lead vocalists on “Home,” though Sarah and James are also both featured on the record. Some of my favorite bands have multiple lead singers: (ex: The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, The Beach Boys…) I think it can add a whole new dimension (or two) to a band.

 

Who are some of your folk idols, and how do you guys keep your own sound unique?

I know we’ve all been listening to a lot of Sera Cahoone lately. Her melodies are absolutely beautiful as well as her pedal steel parts (which we’ve been trying to steal a page from). Kathleen Edwards is also one of our favorites. I suppose in terms of trying to keep our sound unique, it comes from having many different influences. Some days I feel like listening to Bon Iver, some days Gavin Bryars, and some days Taylor Swift. I suppose our music comes out of five people’s different tastes and styles but with the intention to create a common and unifying style.

 

A lot of your songs are quiet and happy with melodies that rise and grow. What sort of experience are you trying to create for the listener? Where do you try to bring them with your music?

When I write a song I want the listener to understand and even feel the things that I felt while I wrote that song, and feel what I feel when I sing that song. If I can impart that through my music I’ll feel I’ve connected with others in a meaningful way.

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Promise is one of my favorite songs on the album, with lyrics that start like this:

Here we are now in the backyard
On the warm ground out at sundown
But in twelve days I’ll be halfway
Cross the world, I’m too tired to be afraid

You’ve got green eyes, I had foresight
When I said we’d be good I was so right
If we lay here, spend every day here
Well our legs might take root and we’ll grow dear

I made a promise to you

 

The Novel Ideas will be performing throughout July and August, with one show in Providence and three in Massachusetts.

Get tickets here, and check out the band’s Facebook page or their website for more information.

 

Jukebox the Ghost at Brighton Music Hall

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Jukebox the Ghost is made up of three guys from Philadelphia who met in 2003 at George Washington University, and they’ve been touring since their first album Let Live & Let Ghosts was released in 2008. Their name combines lyrics from 70s musician Captain Beefheart with a line from the 50s Russian novel Pnin, and even though I’ve never heard of either of those things until just now, I think the words “Jukebox the Ghost” capture everything about them – their music belongs in a bouncing 50s jukebox but their lyrics have a lot to do with all sorts of heavy subjects.

Last night was their second concert at Brighton Music Hall within a week, coming back two Thursdays in a row at the exact same time but with two different openers. Ben plays the keyboard and sings on the stage’s right side, Tommy sings and plays guitar across from him, and Jesse’s on drums in the back in a short-sleeved collared shirt decorated with bright red flowers.

Since the first time I saw them in 2010, Ben’s sprouted a faux-hawk that makes for great horizontal optics as his head bounces in front of the mic, Jesse added a blonde streak to his hair, and Tommy must have been happy with his hairstyle because he looks exactly the same. All these guys can play the shit out of their instruments, and having two very different voices at either side of the stage helps mix things up a bit, although last night’s show at Brighton Music Hall was different from most.

 

 

Since they were here just a week before, Jukebox played more of their very first album instead of covering everything on their two latest: Everything Under The Sun released in 2010 and Safe Travels in 2012. Their first album is darker than all the others, with songs about the end of the world and one they played last night called “Lighting Myself on Fire.” Their titles are intense and their lyrics follow suit but in a there’s-nothing-to-do-but-laugh kind of way. In Let Live & Let Ghosts those lyrics were closer to the melodies that sometimes went minor and dark and dramatic. But even “Lighting Myself on Fire” is more of a love song than anything else, and most of those first album songs do have the Jukebox gene: bubbly dynamic music given so much meaning with words.

So last night Jukebox alternated between new and old songs, performing the “Good Day,” “Hold It In,” and “Under My Skin” hits from Let Live & Let Ghosts, but also covering “My Heart’s the Same,” “Static to the Heart” (with an extra guitar solo to boot), and “Beady Eyes on the Horzon.” From Everything Under the Sun they performed “Schizophrenia (video above!),” “Half-Crazy,” “Mistletoe,” and “The Popular Thing.” But they started out with their most recent, super catchy/mostly happy songs from Safe Travels: “Somebody,” “Say When,” “Adulthood,” “Ghosts in Empty Houses,” and “Everybody Knows.”

 

 

In the middle of the set the band took to performing covers they had learned to play for a friend’s wedding over New Years. “So if you’re wondering why those guys don’t know the words, we don’t know the words,” Ben said before they kicked it off with the 80s song “She Drives Me Crazy.” It was so catchy it made it physically necessary for me to dance, which is why the video above is kind of shaky and doesn’t include the whole song.

 

 

Tommy and Ben both have pretty distinct voices so it’s fun to hear a song you know and a voice you know combine for the first time, especially when they’re classics like “Don’t Stop Believing” and “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.” You can really tell how much they love playing those instruments during covers because it’s not really about the words or the message, it’s all just for fun and because the crowd loves it and wants to sing along – which is helpful when someone on stage actually doesn’t know the words.

 

 

Overall, it was 90 solid minutes of music that included a three song encore and lots of dedicated fans. Jukebox more than deserves it. This is their first big headlining tour after opening for Ben Folds, Free Energy, and The Barenaked Ladies among others over the past five years.

 

 

Even though they’ve been popular for a while, this tour makes it feel more official – they’ve officially/definitely “made it” and it’s so exciting to see how many other people love music that’s happy and meaningful instead of just noisy and mad.

In a 2011 interview with BYT, Ben explained how they got their start:

“We all met here in DC, when the three of us were going to school at GW and started out by playing crappy charity events and open mike nights. We were one of the first bands to play at the Mitchell Hall theater when they built that stage in the basement. First we played a lot of shows to nobody, then all of a sudden there were tons of people there and we started selling out ticketed shows. As the guinea pigs for that venue, we got really lucky.”

 

Jukebox in 2010.

Jukebox in 2010. Image via BYT.

 

See more from Jukebox including upcoming tour dates on their website.

The band also has a free iPhone app to get fans even more involved, plus they post Tommy’s Jukebox-style cartoons of the places they tour on the band’s Facebook page, which is kind of a whole other type of art. 

 

 

Regina Spektor’s “Don’t Leave Me (Ne me quitte pas)”

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Regina Spektor’s music sounds happy, but there is always a profound underlying idea beneath the lyrics. There’s a duality to it that wouldn’t be noticed if you didn’t listen closely, a paradox of cheerful melody versus intense philosophical discourse. Regina keeps her words specific enough to mean something and ambiguous enough to be left open to interpretation, so that each of us can decide how serious we’d like her songs to seem that day.

Her song “Don’t Leave Me (Ne me quitte pas)” comes from her most recent album What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, which addresses everything from corruption in politics to hoarding masterpieces in museums. And even though “Don’t Leave Me” sounds like the merriest tune on the track, it’s also one of the most heartbreaking, as each verse leads you to another person desperate not to be left alone. The French part of the song “Ne me quitte pas, mon chere” literally translated means, “Do not forsake me, my dear.”

The song plays with bubbles as the beat, they dance past one another like a funkified merry-go-round. The peppy beat works to comfort the sad people in the song – all of them placed in different parts of New York City, the one place in the world where you can have people crushing you on all sides and still be alone.

The first character on Bowery is cast as a raggedy bum, stumbling down the street and asking for a light. The second character comes as an aging woman uptown, the kind that puts all her effort and money into slowing down time’s effect on her body. Children sledding in the Bronx make the third verse adorable, who invites the listener to “play along and catch a cold.” The first two adults ask for deities and ghosts – something to believe in and make them sure of one thing at least. But as always the children show us how its done, because at the very least we can at least be sure of each other. Even if they let us down, it’s more important to connect with the people around us than search for things we can never be sure of.

More than anything though, the song is a cheerful justification for why we’re not meant to be alone. Rome wasn’t built by one person anymore than it was built in a day.

 

“Don’t Leave Me” lyrics: reginaspektor

Down on Bowery they lose their
ball-eyes and their lip-mouths in the night,
and stumbling through the streets they say,
“Sir, do you have a light?”
And if you do then you’re my friend,
And if you don’t then you’re my foe,
And if you are a deity of any sort
then please don’t go.

Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas

And down on Lexington they’re wearing
new shoes stuck to aging feet,
And close you’re eyes and open,
And you’ll recognize the aging street,
And thing about how things were right
When they were young and veins were tight
And if you are the ghost of Christmas Past
then wont you stay the night?

Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas

Down in Bronxy-Bronx the kids go
sledding down snow-covered slopes
And frozen noses, frozen toes
and frozen city starts to glow
And yes, they know that it’ll melt
And yes, the know New York will thaw
But if you are a friend of any sort
then play along and catch a cold!

Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas

I love Paris in the rain.
I love, I love, in the rain…

Jeff Mangum at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel

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On Monday night in Providence there was a man with a guitar surrounded by hipsters on all sides. Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel was full of them, but what else could you expect from a solo performance by the man behind Neutral Milk Hotel? Jeff Mangum fit the part too – unkept beard, lumberjack style clothes, and an I-only-care-about-the-music-who-let-you-people-in-here attitude. He was a hipster god, but he sang so well it made me wonder why his audience wasn’t a little more diverse.

His opening band answered that question though – started by another member of Neutral Milk Hotel, The Music Tapes exist somewhere between performance art and actual music, safe to say it wasn’t too close to either. All of their artsy vibes were lost on everyone more than ten feet back – we couldn’t see what was on their little TV (why does a band need a TV in the first place?) and we couldn’t understand anything Julian was saying in his excessive ramblings between songs, although I feel like I should write “songs” instead because it was more just noise than anything with a melody or rhythm. They also brought a giant metronome on stage that was only used for their first bit and just sort of loomed there the rest of the time, like an obviously symbolic backdrop. It was hard not to laugh out loud, but hipsters are great at staring daggers and making you feel like you must just not “get it.”

Jeff was fantastic though, singing “Two Headed Boy,” “King of Carrot Flowers Parts 1 and 2”, “Ghost,” and “Aeroplane Over the Sea.” It wasn’t till after the encore came that people emerged on the stage with him though, and the most featured instrument was a saw. The move made the whole performance seem kind of lazy, like he was banking on an encore to finish the set, a feeling compounded by the fact that he couldn’t have been on stage for more than an hour. Plus, Lupo’s is a concert hall, no seats and intended for dancing, which is not what you want to do while watching one man earnestly play his guitar, even if it is a fast-paced song.

 

Don’t believe me about The Music Tapes? Listen to them on Soundcloud and let me know if you think I’m wrong.