Tag Archives: matt and kim

Matt and Kim: Baltimore 6/1/11 Recap

(Taken with my phone, so excuse the fuzziness.)  

 

I’ve said before that I’m not usually into indie-pop/dance-punk.  It’s not really my style…blah blah blah. I’m not sure what to make of it was my excuse. In recent years, my girlfriend has played me Matt and Kim, Mates of State, and Passion Pit.   My first reaction was usually something to the effect of being polite and smiling.

Turns out, I might be wrong.  Last summer, we went to see Mates of State at Baltimore’s Ottobar and I admit I was shocked by how good they were live.  The live songs weren’t carbon copies of the studio versions – they were louder, faster, and also made me appreciate the musicianship of the band.  As the Matt and Kim show approached, this hesitation was gone.  I came in knowing I would enjoy myself.

Right from the beginning, it became apparent that Matt and Kim would tear down the house.  There’s only two of them (hence the name) but drummer Kim Schifino and keyboardist/singer Matt Johnson emerged on stage, like it was the Superbowl – lots of jumping and fist pumping.  Rarely, have I seen an act so into their own show before it even starts.  Usually, the group comes on stage – maybe there’s a “hello” – and it’s “1,2,3,4” and off they go.

And their energy rarely let up as they tore through their three albums (2010’s “Sidewalks”, 2008’s “Grand” and 2006’s  “Matt and Kim”).  Matt and Kim’s sound relies on Matt’s melodic vocals and odd keyboard sounds and Kim’s pounding drums.  The chemistry between rubbed off on the audience – most of whom knew every single word – a fact that Matt admitted he still had trouble getting over.  In sections when Matt played solo Kim would stand on her bass drum, jump into the audience, stand on her drum stool and click the drum sticks in time – with a huge grin on her face the entire time.

It was impossible not get caught up in the mayhem  and not just because of their stage presence.  Seeing them live made me realize, how inventive and original this band is.  They somehow managed to have experimental tendencies, punk aesthetics, Springsteen-sized showmanship, and extremely poppy songs.

Without a doubt, the best show I’ve seen in a while.

Also check out Reptar, one of the opening bands.  At first, I was very confused.  They seemed a little ironic for their own good, but they soon won me over.  I’d describe how they sound – but I’m not sure I could really do it justice.

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Matt & Kim Tonight

 

 

I’m going to see Matt & Kim tonight at Baltimore’s Ram’s Head Live.   I’m not usually into the whole indie-pop/dance scene that seems to be gaining some legs, but Matt & Kim are a lot of fun.  Hopefully, a full re-cap tomorrow.

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Best Of The Year

Jesus, it’s been a while hasn’t it?  Sorry for the lack of updates, I’ve been kind of experiencing a bit of writer’s block lately.  Not sure why.  But since we’re at the end of the year, I thought I’d give out my picks for the best records of the year.  And here we go!  (Note: Re-issues, don’t count otherwise I would have had Dylan and Springsteen on my list.)

 

Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

“I’m living in the 21st century, doing something mean to it, do it better than anybody you ever seen do it,” He declares on “Power”.  Sure he might be boasting, but when you deliver songs like “Runaway” with its haunting piano there’s a reason to.   Sonically, the songs are all over the place – “All of the Lights” is rap/pop at its best, then there’s the slow-stoner burn of “Gorgeous” complete with a distorted guitars, and a song that uses a choir chanting endlessly in the background, plus a King Crimson sample should not work, but somehow “Power” does just that.  Kanye West may be everyone’s favorite whipping boy at the moment, but he’s moved onto the future and everybody has to play catch up.  As he says in “Monster”: “I’m living the future so the presence is my past.  My presence is a present kiss my ass.”

The New Pornographers – Together


I admit I was actually bored by the NP’s last album, Challengers. It seemed to be lacking something, and I could never pin it down.  Luckily, the band probably had the same idea, and discovered their love for power-pop with Together, while adding some new ideas into the mix with the Black Sabbath-esque riff of “Your Hands (Together)”.   The hooks are there again, and the harmonies between Carl Newman and Neko Case never sounded sweeter as they do on songs such as “Silver Jenny Dollar” and “Moves”.

Elvis Costello – National Ransom


While the last few efforts by Costello have been of high quality (Momufuku, Secret Profane & Sugarcane) with National Ransom, Costello digs deep and delivers one of his best albums in years.  Costello ever being the musical nerd (and this is a good thing) like Dylan in recent years draws on pre-rock influences – “My Lovely Jezebel” sounds it was written in the mid west, circa the late 1890s.  Bluegrass also seems to be an influence on many of the songs as well particularly “Dr. Watson, I Presume”.   Even the straight-up rock of the title track has an old-time feel to it.  Costello may not rock like he used during the hey-day of the Attractions, but with albums such as National Ransom it’s clear he hasn’t entirely mellowed out.

Matt & Kim – Sidewalks


My girlfriend introduced me to Matt & Kim last year and at first I was not sure what to make of them.  Was this mix of dance/punk serious or were they being ironic?  I couldn’t tell despite liking some of their songs.   But with this year’s Sidewalks, Matt & Kim have proved one thing: it’s okay to have poppy songs once in a while.  Just make sure it’s covered in enough noise and irony so that that the hipsters don’t cry “Sell outs!”

Cee-Lo Green: The Lady Killer


Leave it to Cee-Lo to bring the old school R&B sound back, with a twist.  “Fuck You” might be the album’s stand-out and quite possibly the best song of the year, but “Bright Lights, Bigger City” recalls 70s disco records.  Throughout the album, Cee-lo’s voice stands out, not only because he is one of the few male stars that can actually sing, but he has conviction.  Cee-Lo is believable in his updating of Motown, and that’s what makes it a success.

 

(Check tomorrow for best movies.  I know this is a music blog, but it’s the end of the year.)

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