Tag Archives: Cold War Kids

Clips: Cold War Kids, Peter Bjorn and John, Noah and the Whale

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Photos: Cold War Kids in-store at Grimey’s (American Noise)

Interview: Björn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John (American Songwriter)

Peter Bjorn and John are set to release their new album Gimme Some on March 29. Formed in 1999, the band rose to critical acclaim with their 2006 breakout album Writer’s Block, which featured the near-ubiquitous, whistling-laden track “Young Folks.” Since then, the Swedish trio have been firmly established in the Scandinavian indie pop canon, including 2009’s well-received LP Living Thing. Between PBJ projects, bassist/keyboardist Björn Yttling has also established himself as a producer, working with artists such as Lykke Li, Shout Out Louds and the Suzan. We spoke with Yttling about songwriting, producing and rappers’ affinity for indie rock cred — “Maybe they ran out of disco, I don’t know.”

Album review: Peter Bjorn and John – Gimme Some (American Songwriter)

These days, “minimalist” tends to refer to lo-fi garage rock. However, Peter Bjorn and John have truly reduced their sound down to its vital parts. Album highlight “Eyes” exemplifies this, carried by a strong bassline and crisp percussion. On “Second Chance,” the guitars sound crunchier than what we’re used to hearing from the Stockholm group. In his interview with American Songwriter, bassist/keyboardist Björn Yttling has expressed the band’s affinity for garage rock, and it shows. Through their Scandinavian pop filter, the results are much cleaner-sounding, but no less refreshing. The band is able to dispatch short, fast-paced cuts with all the panache of younger artists–and much more discipline. At well under two minutes, “Black Book” fully delivers, fuzzed-out but tightly controlled. The rollercoaster “Breaker Breaker,” penned by drummer John Eriksson, segues into “May Seem Macabre,” a pure, smooth breather.

Album review: Noah and the Whale – Last Night on Earth (American Songwriter)

Artists are constantly evolving, but Last Night On Earth is not so much growth as it is an attempt to be something that Noah and the Whale are never going to be. There is no cheeky wink and nod that lets listeners know that the band is in on its own joke, that they know they’re out of place. This is not where power ballads belong, both in terms of the band’s previously established sound and the actual execution.

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Latest Clips – Cold War Kids, Ben + Vesper, Smith Westerns

Here’s my review of Cold War Kids’ Mine Is Yours for American Songwriter:

Cold War Kids’ third full-length effort Mine Is Yours comes packaged with a John Cassavetes quote about a volatile marriage, setting up the album’s thematic thread. Whereas their previous releases (2006’s Robbers & Cowards and 2008’s Loyalty to Loyalty) took on subjects from suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge to being a prisoner on death row, broken relationships and their effects are the focus on this album. It’s a move that represents aging, but doesn’t necessarily mean progress.

Also for American Songwriter, Honors by Ben + Vesper:

On their latest Sounds Familyre release Honors, husband-and-wife duo Ben + Vesper make more incontrovertibly pleasant folk pop. It’s their fourth album in four years, but doesn’t sound like a rush job; the songs are tightly structured, and the clear production shows off simplicity at its best. Ben and Vesper’s respective voices are the focal point; his rich baritone is reminiscent of the National’s Matt Berninger, and her alto easily adapts from the playful “Holly Home?” to the smooth “Understruggle; Yay, Win.”

I also recently photographed Yuck and Smith Westerns for American Noise.

Top Eight Thursday: 16 December 2010

1. Foals – Total Life Forever
2. Chromeo – I Can’t Tell You Why (The Eagles cover)
3. Vampire Weekend – Fight For This Love (Cheryl Cole cover)
4. Foals – Spanish Sahara
5. Das Racist – I’m Up On That (ft. Homeboy Sandman)
6. Cold War Kids – I’ve Seen Enough
7. Sleigh Bells – Infinity Guitars
8. Major Lazer – When You Hear The Bassline

Listen here

I haven’t totally dug into it yet, but I’m regretting not listening to Foals’ Total Life Forever sooner, it’s a great album. Vampire Weekend covered “Fight For This Love” for Live Lounge today, and I would be lying if I said I hadn’t spent a significant part of this afternoon watching Girls Aloud videos and remembering how much I enjoy them. I had the pleasure of seeing Cold War Kids at Third Man Records on Sunday, and the new stuff sounds great.

Top Eight Thursday: 29 April 2010 + Beach House live @ Mercy Lounge Nashville 28 April

Listen here

1. Sleigh Bells – “Tell ‘Em”
2. Cold War Kids – “Saint John”
3. Cold War Kids – “Audience”
4. Avi Buffalo – “Summer Cum”
5. Local Natives – “World News”
6. Julian Casablancas – “4 Chords of the Apocalypse”
7. Avi Buffalo – “Five Little Sluts”
8. MGMT – “Congratulations”

Avi Buffalo’s self-titled debut album came out this Tuesday, as did the US release of Two Door Cinema Club’s Tourist History.

With everything new I hear from them, I get more excited for Sleigh Bells’ proper album. Download “Tell ‘Em” here. (Via Pitchfork)

Speaking of excellent girl-boy duos, I went to Beach House’s sold-out show at Nashville’s Mercy Lounge last night. It was completely packed and I couldn’t see anything other than the rotating silver tinsel pyramids that they had dangling from the ceiling, but I assure you that they sounded fantastic. Victoria LeGrand’s voice is just as–if not more–moving and soothing in person. Beach House doesn’t seem like the kind of music where an intense stage presence is necessary, though. I’ve been really quite impressed with all of the live music I’ve seen so far this year, Drake aside. In an attempt to make up for this non-review, check out this interview they did with Under The Radar.

Live – Cold War Kids, Phoenix, and Drake @ Rites of Spring – Nashville – 23 April 2010

Rites of Spring is Vanderbilt University’s annual spring festival. They usually manage to book a fairly strong line-up with some pretty big names, but the actual combination turns out pretty strange, genre-wise. Case in point: last night Cold War Kids and Phoenix opened up for…Drake.


Cold War Kids – “Audience”

There is the sentiment that all California bands owe something to the state on some level. With Cold War Kids, it feels innately apparent, but difficult to pin down. Regardless, they are some of the finest raconteurs in indie rock. Every song tells a story, with clear images of desperation and disillusionment. Their piano-driven sound is soulful, gritty, and sharply percussive. New songs like “Audience” and “Santa Ana Winds” sounded just as good alongside old favorites “Hang Me Up To Dry” and “Hospital Beds.” “Saint John,” from 2006’s Robbers and Cowards was a particular standout–live, that bassline is incredibly filthy and downright nasty in all of the best possible ways. Ultimately, it was Cold War Kids that I absolutely needed to listen to when I got home from the show.

I can’t say too much about Phoenix other than that they are very talented live performers. Awesome dance party? Awesome dance party. The set focused on songs from 2009’s runaway hit Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, opening with “Lisztomania” and closing with an extended version of “1901”, though the rest of their decade-long career was not neglected. Frontman Thomas Mars’ look of perpetual surprise and self-conscious hair tousling are unexpected from someone who’s been a professional musician for so long, but maybe that’s part of the charm. They’re French, they’re fashionable, and they have the chemistry and ability to mix things up that only comes with time.

As for Drake, I honestly started laughing multiple times during his set, and I haven’t even seen more than a couple of episodes of Degrassi, which he used to be on. (It was explained to me that his character, Jimmy, was a basketball player at the school until he was paralyzed in a school shooting.) Due to the fact that he was an actor on a cheesy teen drama, Drake is faced with the dilemma of acknowledging that people don’t take him seriously versus trying to force his audience to take him seriously. Unfortunately, he obviously chooses the latter. His stage banter sounded like he had a quota for the minimum amount of time he had to spend talking about stereotypical rapper activities and Lil Wayne going to jail. He mentioned groupies and picking up girls so many times that, if he didn’t take himself so seriously, he would have gone into “Ladies of the World” from Flight of the Conchords. I have no problem with gratuitous profanity, but it seemed like he was keeping a mental tally of every time he swore. If Michael Cera put the same amount of effort into acting that Drake puts into trying to seem like a legitimate rapper, then Cera would be in Scorsese films. The secondhand embarrassment from Drake’s attempts to prevent the audience from thinking, “Where’s your wheelchair, Jimmy?” was so strong that you could throw guest Birdman’s giant watch at it and it would bounce off. That being said, Drake can actually rap, but his antics make him seem like a pathetic try-hard.