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Tag: washington DC

WU LYF Doesn’t Live Forever, Dies Today

Friday, November Twenty-Three, WU LYF breaks up publicly via Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IYP28s_-1VA) via Twitter (@FUCKWU). A simple link to a static clip of unreleased track ‘TRIUMPH’ punctuated by an ‘x’ is all the tweet read. Jump to song, scan to description, read parting note in general, then parting note to bandmates from lead man Ellery James Roberts. Written in grandiose metaphors as he was apt to do, Roberts lays it all out on the table and I can’t help but feel him. At his age, at my age, it’s the time to question, ‘what greatness is meant for me to stake a claim? Is this it? Let me find out.’

Roberts says, “By the time I wrote this I was all ready gone.” Whether he was referring to the song or the note is lost on me, but he might as well have written it back before April Twenty-Three of this year when I saw WU LYF play the Rock ‘n Roll Hotel in DC. Here are the thoughts I scribbled that evening about the show:

I came into the venue with the expectation that these guys would come out like some Mancunian militia with the way they present themselves cryptically through their revolution recruitment-style sites. Then they come out on stage…just four skinny white dudes. Perhaps their eyes are wider than their stomachs. [This may prove telling for Ellery James Roberts, at least].

Bright, crisp guitar chords chime in beautiful contrast to the pounding drums, rasping vocals, and knelling organ. The guitarist and bassist kept it simple and relaxed – lazy upon first glance – but its shimmering innocence truly does provide the perfect, necessary foil for the otherwise dark, funereal aura. The drumming and crooning would ultimately hit visceral emotional highs in a crowd-embracing frenzy.

Beyond the material of their brilliantly themed and named debut album, Go Tell Fire to the Mountain, the band didn’t have much material to fill stage time. A nifty cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Games’ added a bit, but when pleaded from the crowd to play some new material guitarist, Evans Kat, replied, “We’ll play new stuff when we write new stuff,” with a wry grin on his face. That struck me as odd seeming as how they released their album in June of the previous year. I gave them the benefit of the doubt though…some groups are constantly writing while others need to step back and conceptualize. Since Go Tell Fire was stuffed with recurring motifs both lyrically and musically, I would have imagined that the next album would be entirely fresh.

I would later find out (just today, 11/23/2012), that Roberts had claimed an end to the project as early as March of last year, prior to the show I had attended. No wonder they were havin’ a laugh about ‘new material’. There would be none to speak of…for now. Roberts says “forever,” but, “the door will always be open.” Perhaps he’ll find the only way to save the world is through WU LYF. We shall see; until then, we love you forever.

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Death From Above 1979: a look back (and hopefully forward, too)

Down the rabbit hole I fell after the Housse de Racket concert. It started with the likeness, vague and superficial; Housse de Racket is a non-American two-man band that makes rock music dance, and Death From Above 1979 is a non-American two-man band that make rock music dance. Mustaches have or do adorn three of the four total musicians. That’s really about where the similarities end. To be more precise, the former is French and the latter is Canadian, the former is up and coming, the latter has been defunct for about five years.

Whereas HdR have potential and plenty in front of them, DFA79 hit an awesome peak with their only LP, You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, an album that – after about seven years of listening to it – still rocks my face. Fans of MTV comedy show Human Giant starring Aziz Ansari, Rob Huebel, and Paul Scheer, may know that the theme song is DFA79’s song “Romantic Rights” off of the album. You’re a Woman had everything condensed in a little 35-minute package. They carved out sharp, catchy riffs on a bass, and pounding, danceable beats on a drum set. Songs were never boring or drawn out, they raced and were gone before becoming stale, always leaving you coming back for more. Lyrics were blunt and in-your-face with the minimal range of sex to family – from picking up chicks and the act of intercourse, to mom getting a new boyfriend, to being a good uncle and childhood nostalgia  – that somehow offered depth where subtlety was not. It’s an album that I can honestly listen to three times back to back without being bored. If anything, the second play is necessary just to get a grip on the transient, ravenous thrash that just flew by you.

But here’s where the hole has led me – scouring those five years of what I thought was silence, when in actuality one half of the duo released a solo effort and the other teamed up with Al-P to form MSTRKRFT. Who knew?

Well, I almost wish I hadn’t come across ex-drummer and vocalist Sebastien Grainger’s solo effort. His signature vigor in simultaneously drumming and singing sweaty and frenetic are nowhere to be found. For shame. Other half, Jesse Keeler’s, two albums under MSTRKRFT are much more respectable, although following the all-too-beaten path of Daft Punk’s style. Even his successes in electronic-dance failed to resemble his most vitalizing and breakneck rocking. His put down his sweet-ass Rickerbacher bass (that he plays like a guitar) for good in constructing entirely synth and drum machine tunes. Or at least I thought he put it down for good.

After a  surprise inclusion on the SXSW and Coachella 2011 lineups, the band issued a cryptic statement on their website that would lead us to believe that it was no one-off reunion for shits and giggles…perhaps they’ve realized that together, even if they had their disputes, they were a prolific force to be reckoned with. They also played a festival in Brazil in December and, according to their facebook and twitter, they had been playing shows across their native Canada beforehand. Since their site has been renewed for 2012, hopefully it won’t be long before they grace our ears with new releases and US touring so a new audience can see their intimate and gripping live set. I know I’ll be listening to You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine until then, and I suggest you do the same.

Housse de Racket live at 9:30 Club

With a friend this past Sunday night, I saw a show at the 9:30 Club in DC. I would have posted something sooner, but I had to catch up with Mad Men, Frozen Planet, Eastbound and Down, and now, Champions League football. Gotta have priorities. Anyway, the gig was French duo Housse de Racket from the prolific dance-pop label, Kitsune. It was the band’s first North American tour promoting their recent release, Alesia. Just coming up from SXSW, the two were pumped and excited to connect with a new audience, and although I hadn’t heard much about them before the show besides watching a few youtube videos, they were enthusiastic enough to really get the crowd on their side. I must say, I was not convinced by their videos. Too poppy and too many power chords for me, but I was interested in the electronic dance side of their game and telling myself that ‘any live music is good music’. Ultimately, I know that that sentiment is not true, but I am glad I gave them a second chance because they certainly grew on me and the live show does indeed suit them. Not the most complex music, they made up for any frailties with passion and banter, capitalizing on their French accents to play with the crowd. HdR offer great catchy tunes to dance to, and had it been a Saturday night rather than Sunday, the whole place would have been bumpin’. The singer did acknowledge that fact, though, and did his best to encourage people to forget that they have to work tomorrow (if they’re lucky). Having listened more thoroughly, the duo have definitely progressed their sound with huge strides. I would venture to guess that in one more album these guys who’ve played in sessions with other French pop icons, Phoenix and Air, will be able to attract buzz without having seen their fun live show. Top songs for me: ‘Alesia’, ‘Chateau‘, and ‘Roman‘.