U.R.A. Fever

U.R.A. Fever

(compiled September 13, 2011)

Spotify playlist (not all tracks show up…see full list below):

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——– (#11, Total Life Forever album)- Foals

You are a Tourist– Death Cab for Cutie

When I’m Small– Phantogram  (Chuck Brody remix is also good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0tQfLZc5Pk&feature=related)

About Today– The National

I Would Do Anything for You– Foster the People

U.R.A. Fever– The Kills

Boats and Trains– Stornoway

Post Break-up Sex– The Vaccines

Monday Morning– Death Cab for Cutie

Just Because– Funeral Party

Atlantic GIVERS

Look at My Furrows of Worry– Foals

Baby Says– The Kills

Lights Out, Words Gone (new album, A Different Kind of Fix)- Bombay Bicycle Club

Neutered Fruit (new Album, Strange Mercy)- St. Vincent

I’m on Fire (Bruce Springsteen cover)– The Airborne Toxic Event

Austere– The Joy Formidable

Start a War– The National

Don’t Look Away– The Helio Sequence

Fog– Nosaj Thing

Surgeon (new Album, Strange Mercy)- St. Vincent

*all the songs are available for download in my dropbox folder (and also linked on my Spotify account!)

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Just like with my last playlist (“You Yes You”), this playlist’s title doesn’t quite reflect the song that ended up on constant repeat in my stereo. Coming off a Kill’s “high” from their recent concert in Oakland (9/9/11), I initially put “U.R.A. Fever” as the playlist title because this song was so sick to see performed live and I seriously couldn’t not get it out of my head for a good week later. However, my ‘U.R.A. Fever’ fever was soon replaced by Death Cab DELERIUM, and I could not seem to have enough of the Death Cab’s Codes and Keys album in my life.  The song that was especially in sync with my state of eager state of mind at the time ‘You are a Tourist,’ and I’m glad I chose to jumpstart this playlist with such a vibrant gem.

Leading into ‘You are a Tourist‘ was the 11th track (titled ’——-‘) on Foals‘ most recent album, Total Life Forever. I absolutely loved this track the first time I heard it, but was quickly disappointed when I realized it as so short, only 36 seconds to be exact. It sounds like it could be a kickass intro to some awesome song…but it turned out to be a TEASE! Oh well….I still dig it no doubt and I thought it warranted a cool spot as the kickass intro to my playlist. What a perfect lil’ pensive ditty before journeying on into ‘You are a Tourist‘….

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I really dig the background vocals in the very beginning of ‘You are a tourist,” with Ben Gibbard building your anticipation as softly sings “This fire grows higher” over and over, until the electrifying guitar entrance at about 40 sec in (my FAVORITE part). Then comes my favorite set of lyrics from this song (and from most other songs, for that matter):

“When there’s a burning in your heart

An endless yearning in your heart

Build it bigger than the sun

Let it grow, let it grow

When there’s a burning in your heart

Don’t be alarmed…”        (LOVE IT!!!)

Another great line: “When there’s a burning in your heart, And you think it’ll burst apart”…and then BOOM, one of the other great verses from this song that also uncovers the meaning behind the song’s title:

“And if you feel just like a tourist in the city you were born

Then it’s time to go

And define your destination

There’s so many different places to call home    (SUCH a great line…)

Because when you find yourself the villain in the story you have written

It’s plain to see

That sometimes the best intentions are in need of redemptions

Would you agree?

If so please show me…”   (YES…)

Listening to this song always makes me wanna jetset off to far away places around the world and to “KEEP SPINNING THAT GLOBE” (as Gina MacBarb’s Uncle, Howard Rosner, always says). He’s QUITE the travel junkie, and I intend to step foot on at least HALF the places he’s ventured. (He’s actually in Peru right now (see pic below), conquering the Andes and the Incas…*Sigh*)

Machu Picchu in Peru!

Another Death Cab song I put on this playlist was ‘Monday Morning,’ which always seems to put me in a happy mood, EVEN on Mondays. The beat is so freakin’ catchy and I love the first verse of lyrics of that follow along:

“She may be young but she only likes old things,

And modern music it ain’t to her taste,

She loves the natural light, captured in black and white,   (So good)

She sees mirages of mountain ranges,

Within a blink of her eyes it changes,

Back to the open plain, oh no she can’t explain.”

But, I must admit that my FAVORITE set of lyrics come with the next verse, which very much mirrors the way I see myself:

“I cry out “Love keep your arms around me”,

I am a bird that’s in need of grounding,

I’m built to fly away, I never learned how to stay.”  (That’s definitely ME…)

The next verse is also pretty good.

“The night is gonna fall and the vultures will surround you,

And when you’re lookin’ in the mirror what you see is gon’ astound you.

But all these lines and greys refine, they are the maps of our design,    (I always get chills here…)

Of what began on a Monday morning.”

With my Death Cab DELIRIUM in full blast right now, I’m super bummed that I’m gonna be missing them at this year’s Treasure Island music fest in San Francisco on Sunday, October 15th. I will be on the east coast for a research conference and then be going to Long Island (East Hampton), New York with Gina MacBarb. I’m very excited to visit her hometown and to see where she grew up. It’s also gonna be pretty awesome to witness the beauty of New England in the Fall.

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When I’m Small’ is by far one of my favorite Phantogram songs (aside from ‘Mouthful of Diamonds’ and ‘As far as I can see’). I absolutely love the heavy base that pounds in about 10 seconds into the song, and gets the heart thumping.  I also really like how the song slows up @1:15 and the vocals soften, only to be abruptly interrupted by the heavy baseline at @1:40. I totally dig the stop-and-go pattern of this song. Super cool.

The lyrics to the songs are kind of eerie, especially all the references to death: “Am I underground, or am I in between?”  It kind of reminds me the show Six Feet Under that I used to STALK when I was in high school & college. I still consider it one of my top 3 favorite tv series of all time. (I can’t believe it only had 3 seasons. Kind of like one of my other favorites, Arrested Development, which is also UNREAL.)

The lyrics that I find the most creepy come at the end of the song:

“Lucy’s underground

So, show me love

You’ve got your hands on the button now

Showin’ love

You’ve got your hand on the button now

I’d rather die,

I’d rather die,

Than to be with you.”

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About Today’ is one of those songs by The National that totally gives me chills all throughout, especially with the lyrics:

“Today you were far away

and I didn’t ask you why

What could I say

I was far away

You just walked away

and I just watched you

What could I say”

and…

“Hey, are you awake      (Get chills…)

Yeah I’m right here

Well can I ask you about today

How close am I to losing you

How close am I to losing.”

I didn’t know this till after I put it on the playlist, but this song was used for the soundtrack of the 2011 movie, Warrior, starring Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, and Joel Edgerton.

I’m so stoked to be seeing them on Dec 3rd with Local Natives and Wye Oak!

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I Would Do Anything for You’ is yet another song that draws me to Foster the People, who I saw at Outside Lands in August. Even though it’s totally a “love” song, there’s just the right amount of funk (esp. with the crafty keyboard ditty @1 min in) that the cutesy lyrics aren’t too hard to stomach, haha.

Mark Foster at the Filmore in San Francisco, CA (photo taken by my buddy Ken Diener)

Mark Foster at the Filmore in San Francisco, CA (photo taken by my buddy Ken Diener!)

My favorite line is:

“I don’t know what the plan is,

But you can share with me, ‘cause I’ll

Be listening here,

To everything you say, I won’t turn away.”

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Having been up front against the stage for The Kills at the Fox Theater in Oakland, I definitely had “U.R.A. Fever” for days after seeing that song performed live. (See some pics below and look for more on my ‘Siiiick Snapshots‘ page). Alison Mosshart was even more incredible live than I imagined she’d be. Sporting a shirt that said “DEVIL,” she definitely played up to her “bad girl” image and was WRITHING ON STAGE with “shock me like an Electric Feel” attitude. (I was actually surprised to see that she didn’t just know WORK HER PIPES, but she also knew how to work the keyboard and drums too!)

I love the crazy mix of sounds in this song, esp. the dialing sound of the phone at the beginning that creeps in throughout. The BEST LINE of the song:  “You ain’t born typical.” LOVE IT.

The Kills at the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA (9/9/11)

The Kills at the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA (9/9/11)

The Kills at the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA (9/9/11)

The Kills at the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA (9/9/11)

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Boats and Trains’ is a nice relaxing slow song by Stornoway, a band I found out about from a buddy (Andy ‘Field’ Aiken) I met when I was backpacking in Spain. My favorite lyrics are:

“Waiting for a train

Going nowhere in a nowhere station

Staying up last night

Going nowhere with my trains of thought”

And…

“Destined to go nowhere

By the fear of unrequited love.”

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I love the blunt and very much “in your face” beginning of ‘Post break-up sex’:

“I can barely look at you,

Don’t tell me who you lost it to.

Didn’t we say we had a deal?

Didn’t I say how bad I feel?”

This blunt beginning matches perfectly with the attitude of the song. The dude seems to be pissed off by his ex having “post break-up sex,” and he’s being completely forward with his hurt and acquisitions:

“Everyone needs a helping hand;

Who said I would not understand?

Someone up the social scale

for when you’re going off the rails, have…

Leave it ’til the guilt consumes   (great line)

F*cking in the nearest room

All our friends were unaware

Most had just passed out downstairs.

To think I’d hoped you’d be okay,

Now I can’t think of what to say,

Maybe I misunderstood,

But I can’t believe you’re feeling good, from  (also great line)

Post break-up sex

that helps you forget your ex.

What did you expect from post break up sex?”

I was up front and center for a live performance of this song at the 2011 Outside Lands music fest in SF and it was SO GOOD. You definitely get the chills and can totally feel the dude’s anger and aggression consume you. AH!

The Vaccines at Outside Lands (August 2011)

The Vaccines at Outside Lands (August 2011)

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Just Because’ is a song by Funeral Party, a four piece American band made up of Chad Elliot, James Torres, Kimo Kauhola and Tim Madrid from Los Angeles, California that reminds me of The Used, a band that my girl Kelly Jo Keefe introduced me to the summer we interned together in Flagstaff, AZ. I still remember those carefree days of driving around in Kelly’s lil’ red bullet and ROCKING OUT to ‘Earthquake’ and ‘Find a Way’ and LIVIN’ THE DREAM. Hands down one of THE BEST summers of my life, and one THE BEST friendships of my life (see pic below).  🙂

Me and Miss Kelly Jo Keefe! Love this girl.

The high energy and intensity of this song, and my favorite part is at the very end:

“You ask me why

oh just because, oh just because, OH JUST BECAUSE!”

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Since the GIVERS don’t really have any “bad” songs, I find myself putting lots of their gems on my playlists. ‘Atlantic’ is one of their songs that really captures the beauty of Tiffany Lamson’s soulful, raspy voice and also captures the band’s southern Louisiana roots. “Being from the South, we have all learned how to slow down and appreciate life as it is here now – something that in most parts of the world is totally lost. All of this is directly reflected in every aspect of our music”- GIVERS

I think the beginning is beautiful, with Tiff’s voice as the centerfold, especially with the verse:

“Come to – find the place

Where your heart can rest from this race    (Yes…)

Of breathing in and out

There you can mend your ways

With no doubt.”

….and then BOOM!  The calm, soothing beginning is bombarded by percussion rattles and guitar riffs that give this song a new identity. (That typical of GIVERS songs, actually…)  I also really like the sound of the whistle that later trickles in. Very fruity and upbeat…kinda makes me feel like I’m back in Costa Rica with Hillary Davis (see pic below), kicking it with the Tiki monkeys on the beach and snacking on obscene amounts of mangos (MANGOTITUS!).  😉

Backpacking in Costa Rica with Hillary Davis (May 2010)

Backpacking with Hillary Davis in Costa Rica! (May 2010)

My favorite part of the song is buildup of intensity at 4 min in, with Tiff’s vocals letting loose and all the instruments full force. Having seen GIVERS open up for Ra Ra Riot in Februrary (see pics below), I must say that their music is actually much more powerful performed live.  Their energy, passion and RAW TALENT can only be fully appreciated in the flesh. It’s no wonder they landed on Time Magazine‘s list of “Ten Acts That Rocked South By Southwest” in 2010.  Do yourself a favor and go see them live. You won’t be disappointed. I PROMISE.

With Tiff from GIVERS at their show with Ra Ra Riot in Feb 2011

With Tiff of GIVERS at the Ra Ra Riot show in Feb 2011

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Look at My Furrows of Worry’ is an unreleased Foals’ song that I REALLY like, and have a hard time understanding why it was never made onto one of their albums. I LOVE the beginning, especially with the le sweeeeeeeeeeeeet guitar entrance, and I can’t help but put in a spell by the hypnotic guitar in this song. I quickly shed “my furrows of worry” and enter a trance…

I saw Foals (along with Freelance Whales and The Naked and Famous) at the Great American music hall (San Francisco) in April, and it was definitely one of the BEST shows I’ve ever been to. They will forever be one of my top favorite bands. Thank you, Andy Bluhm for introducing me to such a gem.

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I wasn’t initially drawn to ‘Baby Says’ when I first heard it on The Kills album, but that all changed after I saw it performed live (see pics below). Whenever I hear the song now, I picture Alison Mosshart up on stage looking out at the audience with this INTENSE PASSION in her eyes, singing:

“Baby says she’s dying to meet you

Take you off and make your blood hum   (Yes, such a sexy line. SO GOOD)

And tremble like the fairground lights

Baby says if ever you see skin as fair

Or eyes as deep and as black as mine  (I was so close that I could see her dark eyes- she’s not kidding!)

I’ll know you’re lying…”

Other songs that were pretty awesome to see live were ‘Tape Song’ and ‘Future Starts Slow’ (my favorites), ‘DNA’, as well as ‘Sour Cherry’ (which I got on video for my German friend Lisa Pfisterer who told me she loved that one!)

The Kills at the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA (9/9/11)

The Kills at the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA (9/9/11)

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Lights out, Words gone’ is a Bombay Bicycle Club song that immediately lured me with the light and groovy guitar elements that kick off the song. It’s totally one of those bubbly songs that seems to melt all your troubles away and gets you feeling all giddy and carefree. I especially love the groovy guitar riffs at ~50 second in follow this first verse:

“Keep your old and wasted words

My heart is breaking like you heard

But the town has always turned

These lies and made them all burn.”

These riffs (although lighter and a bit slower) kind of remind me of Foals, one of my other favorite bands. All in all a pretty awesome song, and def one of my favorites on this playlist.

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Neutered Fruit’ is one of my favorite songs (aside from ‘Surgeon’ and ‘Cruel’) off St. Vincent’s newest album, Strange Mercy. I love the gospel-like intro, only to be interrupted by the bold, yet mysterious lyrics that leave you intrigued:

“Did you ever really stare at me?

Did you ever really stare at me?

Like I stared at you…”

The funky guitar part that cuts in and leads the next verse is also really cool. I LOVE how the hurried, anxious tempo of the background vocals that immediately follow the second “Like I stared at you” (@1:26). Such a LE SICK change of pace that definitely reflects the frustrated emotion behind the lyrics.

The guitar solo at ~1:55 guitar solo is one of my favorite parts in the song. It’s SO BADASS the way she totally shreds on the guitar, creating a full array of textures. Her ability to manipulate and contour the guitar is even more obvious at the jam sesh ~2:40 min into the song…So many layers of sounds and crafty components that I can’t help but drop my jaw and smile.

Surgeon’ is one of my other favorites on Strange Mercy. I love the mysterious vibe of this song and the guitar rift that creeps up about a minute in to spice up the melancholy lyrics a bit. I think it’s clever how this guitar rift seems to gain more urgency through the song (esp. at @2:45), up until the shockingly unexpected WAILING of the synthesizer at ~3:36 that sends chills down your spine. It’s almost as if the synth wailing was meant to mimic the wailing of someone witnessing the first cut of a surgery…which makes sense from the song’s main chorus:

“Best finest surgeon

Come cut me open.”

What a unique and clever arrangement for such a song. BADASS.

St. Vincent (Annie Erin Clark) is an American multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, piano, organ) and singer-songwriter (living in NYC) who was a member of The Polyphonic Spree and also part of Sufjan Stevens’ touring band, prior to forming her own band. Her debut album, Marry Me (2007) was released to critical acclaim, and was followed by the more commercially-successful Actor (2009). Her third album, Strange Mercy, was released recently on September 13, 2011.

Clark has opened shows for such acts as TelevisionArcade FireAndrew Bird, Jolie Holland, John Vanderslice, Xiu Xiu, Death Cab for Cutie, Cristina Donà and Grizzly Bear. She also worked with Bon Iver (YES!) on the song ‘Roslyn‘ (one one of my previous playlists!), which appeared on the film soundtrack of The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

Annie Clark was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma but grew in Dallas, Texas. She began playing the guitar at the age of 12 and went on to attend Berklee College of Music, before dropping out three years later. In retrospect, Clark said, “I think that with music school and art school, or school in any form, there has to be some system of grading and measurement. The things they can teach you are quantifiable. While all that is good and has its place, at some point you have to learn all you can and then forget everything that you learned in order to actually start making music.”

Clark’s music has been noted for its wide array of instruments (guitar, bass, piano, and organ, violins, cellos, flutes, trumpets, clarinets) and arrangements, as well as its polysemous lyrics, which have been described as teetering between “happiness and madness”. In response to this, Clark has said, “I like when things come out of nowhere and blindside you a little bit. I think any person who gets panic attacks or has an anxiety disorder can understand how things can all of a sudden turn very quickly. I think I’m sublimating that into the music.”

Her unorthodox musical style has been characterized by critics as a mixture of chamber rock, pop, indie rock, and cabaret jazz. “What’s most impressive about St. Vincent is that, after three albums, Clark continues to surprise and challenge. Strange Mercy almost feels like a culmination of her evolution, and while there’s no doubt she’ll keep making new music, it’s difficult to predict where she’ll go next; it’s easy to imagine her taking any number of musical routes, if not all of them. That’s an exciting prospect.” -NPR

She was recently at the Treasure Island music festival in San Francisco along with Death Cab for CutieExplosions in the SkyBattlesThe Naked and Famous, and some other gems. I would have gone but I was traveling on the East Coast. You bet I’ll be looking out for her the next time she comes out my way. BIG THANKS to Nicole Dejesus for introducing this badass chick to me.

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I’m on fire’ is a song that we all know very well from the THE BOSS himself (Bruce Springsteen, of course). I’ve always loved this song as a kid, and so I was super excited when I heard The Airborne Toxic Event cover it at their show in Sacramento back in June. The element of violin that Anna (see pic below) brings into the song is really pretty cool.  A great song overall.

Anna from The Airborne Toxic Event (Sacramento, CA)

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Austere’ is a song that I couldn’t get enough of the first time I heard it. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the “oh woah-oh-oh, oh woah-oh-oh” entrance, I later thought it sounded cooled when offset by a heavy baseline and aggressive drums.  I REALLY dig the way the vocals that kick off the song:

“See the medal reverse,

This hope is not lost,

It’s mischief to turn,

your ship to send off.”

(She totally sounds like Metric, one of my other favorite singers.)

My favorite part of that song is the adrenaline-pumping jam sesh at @1:20 that precedes the verse:

“Oh Austere,

Lay by my side,

You’ve been left here,

So don’t make no sound.

Keep your word,

Don’t let me drown,

Just another story now.”  (her voice sounds so awesome here)

The Joy Formidable is a Welsh rock trio (signed to Canvasback Music/Atlantic Records) that has recently released an album called The Big Roar. The New York Times’ Jon Pareles praised the songs’ “cryptic lyrics that glint with urgency,” and said that “the music regenerates the turbulent haze of 1990s rock, but it’s less tormented and more anthemic, confident of the pop structures at its core.” The band has been working in the studio on tracks recently with highly regarded producer/mixer Rich Costey (Muse, Foo Fighters, Glasvegas).

The Joy Formidable was recently at Outside Lands music fest in August, and then were headlining a North American tour. My buddy Ken Diener saw them in Sacramento in September and got some great vidoes for me (check out the ‘live footage’ page). Next, the band is scheduled to hit the road in Australia with acclaimed bands The Temper Trap and Passion Pit (both huge favorite of mine!).

The Joy Formidable at Outside Lands (Aug 2011)

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Start a War’ is one of my favorite songs by The National. It’s got the perfect combination of relaxing guitar components with inspiring lyrics and a solid drumline.  My favorite line is:

“Whatever went away I’ll get it over now. I’ll get money, I’ll get funny again

walk away now and you’re gonna start a war.”

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Fog’ is one my favorite songs by Nosaj Thing (Jason Chung), a Korean American electronic musician based in Los Angeles County, California. He self-released his first EP Views/Octopus in 2006 and released his debut LP, Drift, on Alpha Pup Records on June 9, 2009. Nosaj Thing has since played at various shows and festivals including Sonar Festival and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California.

This song has a creepy and haunting sound, but that’s why I like it. It’s got one of those repetitive beats that  make you loose yourself in thought. Meditation, anyone?

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Don’t Look Away’ is one of my favorite songs by The Helio Sequence. It’s got such a happy and upbeat vibe, paired with some really meaningful lyrics that most anyone can relate too:

“Well we all get up and we all get down

And we all get stuck but we come around

Now to break the news now to break the beat

Now to break the ice now to move your feet

Now I’ve just got one thing to say

If we stand still we’re sure to just fade away.”  (Great line…and SO TRUE)

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