Listen to this Lovely Playlist While You Stuff Your Face With Half-Price Chocolate

I know that this is two days late and only serves to remind you of the chore that Valentine’s Day represents to most human people (whether you celibate — er, celebrate — it or not). That said, your unflagging author has taken it upon himself to make a romantic playlist — putting slightly more effort into it than he put into finding a date on the actual holiday (zero effort is an easy thing to surmount).

And, on the topic of this playlist’s tardiness, I might add that the smart people wait a day or two to celebrate love and flower delivery people anyway — I mean you’ve gotta be dumb to pay full price for heart-shaped chocolates when you know they discount it heavily if you only wait one day. Use your brain!

So check out this playlist (which is totally earnest). I promise you’ll both love and be in love with it. After all, I put my heart into it.

Feb 14 + 2 on Grooveshark

Or, listen to it on Spotify.

“You Just Perfectly Described How I Feel Sometimes” — A Few Words About Seeing the Mountain Goats Live

The Mountain Goats live in concert There is one thing you’ll definitely notice when you see The Mountain Goats live in concert.

No, it’s not the quality of the musicianship or the way the band takes on many different forms throughout the night, changing size and composition and moving to John Darnielle solo and back again. That is certainly something to notice, but it’s not what I’m talking about.

It’s not the intense fans, either (the quote in the title above was actually shouted at the band by a fan in the audience on Tuesday). Many bands have a deeply interested core fan base, though other band’s fans are not shouting along to lines such as “Hail Satan” or “I hope we both die!”

It’s also not the wonderfully expressive lyrics — alternatively poetic and forceful — or the devious way in which the dark tales about people facing raw, difficult situations and emotions are commonly paired with upbeat, buoyant rhythms. These are other things that are very important and unique, but they’re not the ultimate takeaway.

The detail I now present as key is that the band is positively giddy while performing on stage every single night. I’ve seen them several times and it’s unvarying. John Darnielle’s enthusiasm while delivering his musical narratives (and associated hilarious witticisms in-between) is wonderfully invigorating. Whether he’s playing a half-empty concert hall or a packed festival main stage, his passion for performing and the force of his personality is contagious.

And that, friends, is the one thing I’m sure you’ll notice when you see the Mountain Goats live. Check them out when you get the chance — you won’t regret it.

Of Montreal Bring Their Travelling Dance Party to Dallas

Of Montreal band live

Photo: Ctlsmdesnd / Flickr

Of Montreal are not strangers to Dallas — they bring their travelling circus and sonic exorcism to our doorstep like clockwork, following the winds and the seasons as well as the long line of tour busses locked on a trajectory toward SXSW. Still, they continue to draw and captivate crowds who express their demand to see Kevin Barnes and company rock out during their exciting live show, and for good reason.

While their recorded music may be a deep journey to the center of Kevin Barnes’ psyche, Of Montreal’s live show adds absurdist theatrics, psychedelic visuals, and a hyperactive dance party to fully flesh out the experience.

The lights and colors projected across the stage immerse the band in a world of technicolor landscapes, trippy trees and fauna, and squiggly apparitions of ferocious animals primed to attack. Oh, and I would be amiss not to mention the floating, spinning eyeballs. Those are iconic.

Throughout the set, two superhuman performers took on the task of manning the theatrical element of the show. One minute they were superheroes, crowd-surfing over the audience with their capes flowing behind, the next they were operating giant mythical puppets, battling it out over Barnes, resulting in the most flagrant wardrobe malfunction I’ve ever seen on a giant puppet. At one point they donned their pig masks and one of them did… unnatural… things with a tree.

Constant throughout the frenzied theatrics and visuals was the talented band, building flawless renditions from their manic depressive discography and playing more instruments than should be humanly possible. Kishi Bashi, Dottie Alexander, and Bryan Poole were all front and smiling, rocking out and keeping the audience engaged — though we were doing a good job of that on our own. Front and center was Kevin Barnes, of course, running double duty between the synth and guitar and striking a very stoic expression, though the assembled crowd’s enthusiasm and rousing response inspired a few smiles from him.

And that, in the end, is the purpose. Everybody present was dancing and having a good time. Though, there was one exception: that one solitary fellow, a rather tall chap, who simply stood and refused to be moved by the swelling crowd around him. Though, even he was roused within three songs, as by “Suffer for Fashion” I glanced him strutting his stuff and participating in the riveting, prehistoric ritual of the dance party.

Fortuitous Art Encounters and A Night with Rainbow Arabia

Rainbow Arabia Band Photo

Rainbow Arabia landed in the middle of my musical discoveries a few years ago, seductively strutting their stuff with a hypnotizingly slithery synth line reminiscent of far away lands. Though musically a fairly simple combination, the alluring repetitions and Eastern influence were enough to cause considerable excitement when their latest album Boys and Diamonds — a jungle of dancing fun — effortlessly dropped into my hands a few months ago. Now, as a part of Babylon‘s Midnight Express concert series and the last stop of their tour, Rainbow Arabia finds their way to Istanbul.

Before I begin with this energetic description of tribal yelping, however, I have a confession to make: I was late for the show. But, before anyone stops reading, I have to say it was not entirely my fault!

I was late because of an electronic art projection/installation the size of a seven-story apartment building that moves! Wha’?

So, after running down the streets, we entered into the cave-like, red-lit environment of Babylon, a tiny yet prominent music venue in the city. The drums were pounding, the synths were slurring, and Tiffany Preston’s voice was wrapping around our bodies, resulting in a convulsive half-dance as we floated through the crowd, searching for a visual peek of their presence. Live, the band sounds like an 80’s influenced, the Knife-reminiscent, tropical jam band producing intense beats and shrill yelps which resulted in either full and unquestioned dedication in the form of a misguided spiritual jump/dance or raised eyebrows and nodding heads. No one seemed to be aware of what exactly was being played and the band didn’t seem to know what to do with the love they were receiving, so they just kept the beats coming and the crowd just kept on dancing.

Sadly, the show was short but the musty air that hung around us like clouds was a good indicator of time well-spent, and as the band entered into their last song — an impromptu jam dedicated to their previous night out on the town — we couldn’t all help but wonder WHERE ON EARTH THEY WENT THAT NIGHT. Seriously, I would not mind going there myself.

Golden Intro: A stranger to Rainbow Arabia? Check this out!

Pie Equivalent: Second to last piece of pecan pie.

Vincent Moon in the Back Room

Disclaimer: It seems the curse of every magical moment to lack in descriptive subtlety. The words pile on and on, leaving the succinct beauty and logical harmony one seeks to portray lost in the muck of eager adjectives. So I would just like to apologize in advance, for the potential much, for it was a most magical evening…

Vincent Moon photo

There is something inherently familiar in Vincent Moon‘s work, something that creates the mystical aura we like to surround all our favorite artists with; that harmless, yet generally false idea that you could probably be best friends. There is a warmth to his films that feels like they come from your own living room, as if his subjects are his best friends that he just happened to bring over one drunken fall night. But most of all, there is a sense that Vincent Moon knows good music. But that is just a fact.

One unsuspecting Sunday night the alternative publication Bant (don’t worry, they’ll come up again and again) invited this musically inclined, charismatic, tan, French camera-man responsible for the wandering lens of La Blogotheque’s by now late night favorite Concert à Emporter (Take Away Show) series, to the cozy digs at ArkaOda for a night of drowsy smiles, music, and enchanting stories. It went something like this:

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The Dodos and Luyas Fill the Loft in Dallas with Love, Sweat, and Rock!

The Dodos Photo Portland

The Dodos Live in Portland. Photo Credit: jaredeberhardt on Flickr

The stage lights dim and an assortment of incandescent light bulbs spring to light. One at the summit of the microphone stand, two beside the keyboard, and more in a distant corner not visible from my vantage point. A warm, inviting light envelopes the Luyas, a four-piece from Montreal who are opening for the Dodos on this this particular tour.

Jessie Stein, vocalist and guitarist for the Luyas, begins a somewhat monotonic chant. This leads me to worry we might be descending into some sort of abstract noise parade for the next hour. Fortunately, this band will exceed all of my expectations, though to be fair I had never listened to a single note by them and thus my expectations beforehand were nonexistent.

The warm light strobes in and out as the Luyas quickly transition into more cheery tunes. Their small ranks are padded from time to time by faces that will soon become familiar, and between songs everybody changes places to reconfigure the band. The lightly-piercing vocals soon grow on me, and the warm light and makeshift duct-tape nature of the incandescent fixtures find me imagining I’m in a Michel Gondry film.

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Video Game Music: A Vast Mine of Hidden Gems Waiting to be Discovered

When discussing one’s most absolutely sacrosanct music from a genre perspective — whether delivered from a wide-eyed neophyte that has just stumbled upon the limitless vortex of creative possibilities offered by music, or a glaze-eyed cynical veteran whose once unadulterated passion has been perverted into a deeply personalized list-based narcotic which brings uncontrollable shakes upon not having received the required hit of early 90’s Wimp rock B-sides — the exact genres, as well as their lovingly calibrated descriptors, are discussed with tortured euphoria. In my own musical nutcase conversations, I have engaged in marathon retrospectives with jazz hepcats that supposedly knew Miles Davis (aka: got a whiff of one of his drags from approximately 300 ft away), former death metal guitarists that generally knew how to speak coherently without ear-shattering tonal assistance, and electro-music aficionados that actually knew the proper, in-the-know term that a gentile such as myself was supposed to use in referring to electro-music correctly (Though this secret is carefully guarded by a cryptographic cipher so sophisticated that the NSA has reassigned the Voynich Manuscript to its summer interns and other personnel with Insectoid-level clearance).

Now, in each instance, I adored these conversations as they represented a pitch-perfect unity of bonus track hypertrophy and agoraphobic neuropathy. It was as if a sacred covenant was tacitly forged, leveraging the forbidden secrecy of a Freemason cult and the inconsolable stench of ADSR-inspired knock-knock jokes. However, I was always astonished and saddened that despite being drenched with water tanks of musical knowledge, very few people seem to be aware, even at a basic level, of the miraculous ingenuity and unparalleled creativity present in the music of video games. In fact, I inspired a great deal of curiosity and some surprise within my fellow Castle in the Pie blogger and musical genius Leyla in a conversation a few months prior when I boldly declared that video game music is my very favorite musical genre.

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A Thanks To Patrick Wolf’s Battered Passport

‘Twas an unsuspectingly clammy day. Almost three weeks of travel across Europe had extracted its final toll on my body and my friend — yes, my only friend — had just left town for good. Everything was sticky. ‘Twas a day of melancholy and of rehashing all-too-new memories, finally pausing the incessant cultural flow but knowing that I had missed Patrick Wolf‘s show. Yes, the tall, flambouyant diva-genius who had sprayed a string-laden rampage of lycanthropic mythology all over my sonically obsessed and quiet late-adolescence had come and gone. ‘Twas a sad day.

Now maybe when we had missed the boat for the third time that week, ran out of gas in the middle of a traffic jam, and gotten collectively ill, the mysterious flows of universally sympathetic music magic had ricocheted off our worn down backs and found its way to London. I’m not quite sure. But a little sign on the glowing pages of the internet was telling my almost closed eyes that the Patrick Wolf concert was still to take place! And with that glimmer of hope, at 6:30 in the morning, I fell asleep.

Now, of course, it was not all that easy. Turns out Mr. Wolf had a damaged passport and a sold-out show. Though he was eventually allowed to fly out on the following day, the 15th was also the starting camp-out day of Istanbul’s number one unabashedly corporate “rock” festivity (Rock ‘n Coke) as well as Mediterranian flamenco/jazz night at the Harbiye Amphitheater and a Friday, which meant a lot of dead tickets. However, this was potentially good news for me. So, as said tickets were unwillingly changing hands and I heard a silent, “I have a feeling I’m going to regret this,” a sudden wave of schadenfreude washed over me; they were right.

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French Cultural Events Present: My English Teachers

Couldn't possibly be more French than this!

It was a lonely privilege to be able to look back on my high school years throughout college and reminisce about how awesome my teachers were. These erudite and tuneful wanderers from the English-speaking corners of the globe had magically been rounded up in this town and, with a stroke of luck, had landed in my classroom. From the disturbing natures of Pi and Tarnation to Maureen Tucker’s drumming style or quotes from Casablanca,  those few years were littered with cultural secrets by which I would eventually come to live my life. Finally, though each passing summer break — four whole years worth — had made it seem even more impossible, I got see them grace the stage.

Just last week French Cultural Events set up a show at Taksim Gezi Parki featuring the bands Spent6 and Motorr Moose. Accompanied by shifting black and white footage from silent films and a couple of Man Ray clips, these two bands were comprised of my high school English teachers, their new colleagues and friends. So with one foot in the shoegaze camp and the other wandering the possible soundscapes of rock ‘n’ roll, we embarked on a journey of high volume and nostalgia.

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