Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Just dropping in

To see what condition my condition is in...

This song really ties the room together, and has been stuck in my head since seeing Tara Reid's fake trailer for the Big Lebowski 2.  Enjoy this psychedelic performance from Kenny Rogers & The First Edition, embedded below, from before Mr Rogers left the neighborhood and went country on our asses.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Sorry I couldn't think of a more clever title, but if you weren't aware, the new Fleet Foxes has been leaked to the blagosphere.  It's getting uploaded to Mediafire just about as fast as it's getting taken down, but that's just a testament to how excited fans are for the folky baroque-rockers' second album.  Admittedly, there are more issues with this leak than others, namely several skips (sounding like the needle being lifted and replaced on a LP) on the first track, "Montezuma".  But what we've heard of that song only makes us want to hear the rest.  On first listen, standouts include "Battery Kinzie" which, along with "Montezuma" hearken back to their self-titled debut, but with a richer, more proficient sound.  A more minimalist approach is taken on "Blue Spotted Tail", featuring little else than finger-picked guitar and frontman Robin Pecknold's delicate vocals.

We eagerly await the album's official release May 3rd, along with some better quality files, but this will certainly do until then.  Embedded below are the studio version of "Battery Kinzie" and what seems to be a early (but no less poignant) demo of "Blue Spotted Tail".  Good luck acquiring the leak, and enjoy! A good friend once said after I introduced him to Fleet Foxes, "I couldn't stop smiling."  I hope that proves true for you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

BOMB Fest '011 - Do you speak Shpongolese?

Psybient act Shpongle has been pumping out albums of Eastern-inspired trance music for close to decade.  Ranging from danceable glitch to sampled Tuvan throat-singing, Shpongle lets you “trip out easy”, to quote the great Donovan Leitch.  Some tracks bubble along, maintaining a psychedelic theme/mindset throughout, such as “Divine Moments of Truth”.  While others, like “Shpongolese Spoken Here” off their most recent LP (embedded below) run the full gamut of their sound, with wide changes in style contained in it’s six-minute running time.

Shpongle will be at B.O.M.B. Fest this year, presenting their unique stage and light show, dubbed The Shpongletron Experience.  It remains to be seen whether this is a full concert or a DJ set, or if flautist Raja Ram will be making the performance, but it’s certain to be a night to remember visually and musically.

More B.O.M.B. Fest artist features to come in the weeks leading up to the show.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, .03% carbon dioxide. In a word,

Brought to you by Kenny Powers
Air. The French electronic duo has brought us 6 albums (and more) of spaced out, trippy tunes about love, parties, and virgins, but I always find myself returning to their second LP, Moon Safari. The whole album is a must have, but it’s the standout track “Sexy Boy” that gets in your head and stays there. Maybe it’s the swampy, grinding synth beat. Maybe it’s the softly intoned chorus, repeating the title (sexy boy…) like a mantra. Maybe it’s the feeling you get while blasting the song on headphones, that you’re the man, and everybody better fucking know it.

The song has received recent attention (and some derision) for an Axe commercial featuring an ethereal choral version of the tune. Hearing an Air cover is the last thing you expect to hear during ESPN commercial breaks, much like the choir version of Radiohead’s “Creep”, made so famous by the various trailers for The Social Network trailers. Also like the choral version of Creep, the original feels more authentic as opposed to the manufactured, distant sound of the cover.

Embedded below is the music video, continuing the cartoon motif of Moon Safari’s album art, and proves to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek with the titular “Sexy Boy” being a t-shirt clad stuffed monkey. No one can resist his charms, and it’s just as hard to resist this song.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dear Best Coast:

Dear Best Coast:

Stop telling the story of my life. (I don't actually mean that. I'm totally feeling it.)

Seriously, though. I've been listening to Best Coast's album, "Crazy For You," a ton lately. I love everything about the fuzzy, vintage, summer feel of Best Coast's music, and I'm feeling the lyrics that sound kind of carefree and fun but are still kind of painful and heartbreaking at the same time. You know how there's some music you listen to when you're in a certain mood? "Crazy For You" is an album for when you have lots of moods mixed together or don't really know how you feel but you know you feel some kind of way. (If that makes any sense at all to you, you'll love this band.) It works in the winter when it's sunny but not warm yet. It works in the summer because the album feels like summer.

"Crazy For You" dropped last summer, and Best Coast also has an EP and some 7"s out, and I'm catching some of their other songs on YouTube (I love them all, by the way, and I can't wait for more of their stuff to come out). Basically, I can't wait to see them at B.O.M.B. Fest this May. (And it'll be summer, too! Perfect!)

*Consider this post one of those preview-features on bands we're looking forward to seeing at B.O.M.B. Fest this year. You can see your B.O.M.B. Fest post here: http://merrypicnic.blogspot.com/2011/03/tune-in-turn-on-bomb-out.html

Monday, March 14, 2011

Last-minute Kurt Vile post!

If you're not doing anything tonight - tonight meaning, in three or four hours - you should check out this show:

Kurt Vile and the Violators, The Mountain Movers & Wry at Daniel Street in Milford
8 p.m., $12, 21+

See the Facebook event page for more info: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=190389930981125&index=1

I've been listening to Kurt Vile a ton over the last few days, and I'm really excited. His latest album, Smoke Ring For My Halo, is incredible. 

See you there? 

- Freesia

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

High 5's for Fang Island!

You'll see as the summer approaches that Merry Picnic is all about the free concert.  Call us spendthrifts, call us economically disadvantaged, but definitely come see us having a good time at any number of free shows.  Be it Hamden’s cooler-friendly summer series, any of the Hartford Party Starter’s Union’s great events, or New London’s I Am Fest, you’ll see the Merry Picnic team right up front, getting our proverbial money’s worth.  Coming up is one we're real excited for, one of Manic Productions’ free concerts at Bar in New Haven, where guitar rockers Fang Island and the anthemic/bombastic Wess Meets West will bring on the rock.

This will be our third time seeing Fang Island, having previously seen them open for Deerhoof/Xiu Xiu at the revival of the Brooklyn Pool Parties and at Mountain Park supporting blog favorite The Flaming Lips.  Their infectious brand of uptempo guitar-driven rock has been described as "everyone high-fiving everyone", which isn't far off.  That aspect is showcased in their self-titled debut's first single "Daisy", embedded below.  The show is tonight (3/9) at 9 PM in New Haven.  Hope to see you there!

Also, check out Wess Meets West’s website (http://wessmeetswest.bandcamp.com/) for a few EPs, their Winter 2011 EP having been a great listen these past few weeks.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tune in, turn on, BOMB out

^ Now there's a lineup!

A festival is judged by its headliner, first and foremost.  If you can’t get a marquee act to headline, then good luck attracting the masses.  No matter how great a lineup, it's the headliner that brings the bulk of the crowd.  That’s not to say the afternoon schedule should be neglected.   Two nights of Radiohead made All Points West 2008 irresistible.  But added in were Mates of State, The New Pornographers, Animal Collective, Cat Power, The Roots, Underworld, Rodrigo y Gabriela, AND Sunday headliner Jack Johnson.  Even the last two I Am Festivals have upped the ante on their value (especially being a free show), featuring Deerhoof in 2009 and We Are Scientists with Mates of State this past fall.

Striking that balance between your headliner and the rest of your lineup can be tricky.  All Points West 2009 suffered from an identity crisis; half hip-hop, half indie rock, half jam bands, half hardcore.  That’s right, four halves.  Not so much eclectic as divisive.  On any given day it was as though there were two separate festivals with two separate crowds.

This year’s BOMB Fest deftly walks the fine line between eclectic and scattershot, providing an amazing range of talent, from pop rock gods to funk legends, from superstars of rap to lo-fi surf.  All this on top of the mesmerizing array of electronic composers, DJs, and mash-up artists; there will be no dull moment on either day.


Our only complaint with the lineup, as of yet, is the flyer.  The order seems downright bizarre in places, with newcomers like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Neon Trees receiving higher billing than the long running Parliament/Funkadelic and indie mainstays the New Pornographers seems misguided at best.

Below are the list of bands we’re most excited for, as well as some acts that we’re already glad BOMB Fest got us to give a listen, use the comments to tell us your favorite acts at this year’s BOMB Fest.  Don’t forget to check out their website at www.bombfest.com and the Facebook event page at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=132821763452573.  Most importantly, get ready to get down just for the funk of it, because we sure will be.

DISCLAIMER: Consider all listed schedule/date info to be fluid.  We’re posting dates/times based on the artists’ official websites, but news from BOMB Fest won’t come through likely until May.

HEADLINERS – BOMB Fest’s mainstream draw
Weezer – Saturday 5/28
Snoop Dogg – Sunday 5/29

Blog tested, Merry Picnic approved!
These are must-see’s at this year’s festival, and the REAL reason we’ll be going, except for Best Coast, we’ve seen these folks before.  Trust us, they bring it.

State Radio – Sunday 5/29
George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic
The New Pornographers – Sunday 5/29
Man Man – Sunday 5/29
Quintron & Miss Pussycat
Free Energy
Best Coast – Sunday 5/29

BOMB Fest Discoveries
Here’s the list of acts who have wormed their way into our daily soundtrack over the past week, I can honestly say I’m excited to see each and every one of these bands

Freelance Whales – Saturday 5/28 @ 2 PM
Titus Andronicus
Toubab Krewe
Real Estate
Hood Internet - Sunday 5/29
Dum Dum Girls
Wavves – Saturday 5/28
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Eskmo - Saturday 5/28
Nosaj Thing - Sunday 5/29

Future Discoveries
Last but certainly not least are the acts that we’re excited to get excited about.  We’ll write more as we give these folks their well-deserved listens.

The Felice Brothers
Portugal. The Man
Dan Deacon
Holy Fuck
Small Black
Walk the Moon
David Wax Museum

That’s currently 25 of 40 announced bands we’re looking forward to, blowing all our previous festival experiences out of the water.  Expect profiles on individual artists/groups as we move closer to the festival and we’ll continue to update info for dates and local acts as it is posted.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Vintage Vinyl #5 – The Bleeding Surf of an Astro Coast

Today’s entry delves not into the vintage music of a bygone era, but into the vintage sounds of that era.  The last decade has seen a resurgence in the once formidable genre of surf rock.  Far from its chart-topping heyday when Dick Dale and The Ventures were still in their prime, today’s surf rock tends toward the underground.  Man or Astro-Man in part began the surf renaissance with their formation in 1995, continuing a rich tradition of far-out surf music reminiscent of the space race of the late 1950s into the 60s.  Today there are dozens of bands of surf devotees bringing new slants to the classic sounds, such as the female-led Best Coast or the hazy fuzzed-out surf of Beach Fossils’ excellent debut.  Surfer Blood’s first record, Astro Coast dropped this past February, to much critical acclaim.  Five young men with guitars crafted a near perfect album of anthemic surf rock, using intertwining guitar parts to create one of the more transportative musical experiences of 2010.

I {admittedly} picked this up on Amazon, as Redscroll was cleaned out at the time.  Before even listening, I was thrilled about the packaging.  A white LP with gatefold packaging is a great surprise (I’m a sucker for non-black vinyl).

Reminiscent of the lo-fi, garage rock bands of yesteryear, Surfer Blood owes as much  to Mark Mulcahy and the 90s as they would Dick Dale and the 60s.  Lyrics about Laura’s Palmer killer in ‘Twin Peaks’ should place us firmly in 1990, but sonically we are in no one time.  Juxtaposing driving guitar and oft shouted but distant sounding vocals gives a satisfying amalgamation of retro-surf and modern rock.  ‘Harmonix’, the album’s standout track is a slower groove, layering guitars over dream-like vocals.  “We could have been the best of friends…”

The entire album really is a must-listen, embedded below are key tracks ‘Harmonix’ and ‘Twin Peaks’.  Enjoy.