Wednesday, March 16, 2011

ROUND ONE: Amusement Parks on Fire v. Friendly Fires


Amusements Parks on Fire

A Shoegaze* band from Nottingham, England, five members, started around 2004. Apparently they had to bow out of SXSW, I’m not sure of the details as it was a relatively brief note on Facebook. But that isn’t going to sway my opinion. The bracket was created and we’re moving forward!

1) Black Hole Kids – easy to listen to while working, nice drum beats, nice background chorus. Fun interactive video on their site.

2) In Flight – Can’t really hear the vocals as well with all the background stuff going on. A little bit more on the down side, mood wise.

3) In Our Eyes – Got interrupted for the first part of this song to listen to a story about a snake biting a woman’s snoobs and then dying, so the last :30 sounded okay. Again, is it just me or does it seem that the guitars and various sound samples overwhelm the vocals?

4) Alafoss Exit – Ooo, beachy. I am loving this tranquility and undercurrent in the chord progression. Very mellow, reminds me of Sigur Rós. This is perfect chill music but still holds some emotion and makes me wonder what was going on when they wrote it. What the heck is an Alafoss anyway?** (Side note, this Starbucks oatmeal is just ho hum. Sorry Kim, but I might stick to smoothies.)

5) Wiper – When the lyrics finally do come in, I have no idea what they are. The notes go along well with the melody, but feel like there is so much noise – like each musician is fighting with each other to be the loudest and not really taking the song into account. It does level out a little bit when it sounds like they are chanting “bring the wizard back”. That being said, I actually dig it quite a bit. Holy crumbcake! This thing is 8 minutes long?!?

Friendly Fires

A Disco House / Pop / Tropical band from St Albans, UK. Just the description of music makes me think this is going to be happy, upbeat and bouncy. Member of myspace since 2006, I’ll do some wiki-work in a few, but going to start off with their first song listed:

1) Hold On (Cover of Holy Ghost) – oh-my-bow-chicka-wow-wow! Apparently this is a cover, but I really haven’t heard the original. I would actually guess this to be a Jamiroquai song if I didn’t know better. What ever happened to that dude anyway?

2) Paris – “One day, we’re going to live in Paris. I promise. I’m on it.” Kalediscope video is actually pretty fun and reminds me of a weird oompa-loompa exercise video in the fizzy lifting drink room. I’d dance out to this one.

3) Skeleton Boy – I’m starting to learn that these guys would be freaking awesome live, just from watching portions of the videos.

4) Jump in the Pool – Okay, now I see where the “tropical” part comes into play. I keep going back to the videos, this one is like a Bond movie opening (If Barbara Broccoli had any sense to have a fun title sequence (“You Only Live Twice” is still my favorite bond song, specially when I hear bands cover the original. Hint Hint Friendly Fires… hint!)

5) Kiss of Life – Damn, you need head phones for this one. The way the electronics bounce from ear around your head to the other ear is ticklish. I feel transported to the late 80s and bopping around with my hair in a side ponytail. The lead singer is quite an ass-shaker, not that he gets extra-points for that.

6) Strangelove – Oh that takes balls! A freaking Depeche Mode cover? And it doesn’t suck? The vote needs to go to my uber-doober DM fan … Her thoughts: “Thanks for sharing! I like it. The music is very fun. I like his voice, but in this instance, covering a DM song, it’s not as sexy smooth as Dave.”

Amusement Parks on Fire, of the songs I listened to, I only downloaded one to add to my flash drive. Four of the songs I listened to from Friendly Fires were instantly part of a future playlist (TBD, maybe work out tunes or dance while naked around the house stuff.) Perhaps it’s the mood I am in, or maybe the quality of the tunes I heard wasn’t as clear, but I have to say the winner of Round One is Friendly Fires! Congratulations guys, you are still in the running to become the BEST BAND NAME AT 2011 SXSW! (Feel free to let me know where I can buy a band t-shirt, I’ll totally rock it over the weekend.)

Next up: Worm Ouroboros versus Gobble Gobble!

* Yes, I had to look that up. Basically means a band that stands relatively still and plays the music (staring at their shoes) as opposed to rocking out all over the stage, wailing guitars over their head or something. Apparently, Shoegaze peaked in the early 90’s and now it’s considered Nu-Gaze. Whatevs.

** Álafoss ("eels waterfall") is a waterfall in the river Varmá in Mosfellsbær, Iceland. (AHA!!! Amusement Parks on Fire recorded here at the Sigur Rós studio!) A wool factory of the same name has been at a site by the waterfall since 1896, when a local farmer imported machinery to process wool using the energy from the waterfall. During World War II, barracks were constructed there for British soldiers. Álafoss played a major role in the founding and growth of the town of Mosfellsbær. A studio of the band Sigur Rós named Sundlaugin is at Álafoss, and the otherwise untitled fifth track on the band's "( )" album is nicknamed after the area.

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