Nov 4, 2006

Digitalism, the Juan Maclean @ Hiro/Astralwerks Showcase

Ok, continuing from where I left off. I left in the middle of the Cinematics set at R&R to head over to Hiro. Upon arriving there is some blonde chick singing some cracked out songs in front of a screen with some kooky things projected on it. I later learned it was Princess Superstar.

Thankfully she was on her second to last song when I got there. Shortly after, Digitalism started spinning. They were alright. There were a few moments when I thought they were when they played Cassius' "Toop Toop"...but actually in retrospect I think that might have just been whoever was spinning in between. I thought their stuff was a little repetitive...I like things mixed up a bit more. It was a lot of sampling and looping and knob twisting. I got bored with it and I got sick of getting knocked into by drunk girls so I moved to a new location on the dancefloor and looked over to my left only to see my friend Van . So that was an awesome surpise.

Not too long after running into Van, Digitalism finished their set. Then Alex spun for a little bit before the Juan Maclean began his set. Let me just say...I saw the Juan Maclean, the entire live act, at PS1 this summer and did not really like it. Then I haphazardly saw them again when I was passing by Union Square and Time Out New York was having some event in the park. I liked them a little more that time. That song "Give Me Every Little Thing" grew on me after a while. Juan dj-ing solo is a totally different thing. Liked him a lot more from the get-go. He played a really diverse mix of "Apache" by Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band mixed really well with this other song whose name I don't know. He played "Give Me Every Little Thing". It reminded me of Fatboy Slim in that he played just a ton of different stuff. So yeah...good job Juan Maclean. I left at about 4, was in bed by 4:30 and up at 7:10. I worked all day Friday, grabbed some dinner then headed down to the Canal Room for the Astralwerks showcase.

Inouk was first. Just to give the context of the situation:

Inouk was on Say Hey Records. In fall of 2004 they got a deal with Astralwerks . The first time I saw them was actually at the Astralwerks showcase at CMJ that year. Then I saw them a bunch of times in the late winter, and then shows, no news, nothing. October of last year I saw Damon and Alex McMahon (brothers, and vocalists/guitarists/organist from Inouk) play a show together at Sin-e and they said they were coming out with a record on Astralwerks together. Then nothing for a while. Then I discovered that there was some type of disagreement between Damon and Alex and they had gone their separate ways musically...Alex was in a band called "Mercy the Contours" and Damon put out a solo album, "Mansions" on Astralwerks in July.

When I read that Inouk had reformed a few weeks ago I assumed that meant all the original band members. I discovered that it's all the original band members -Damon, + Ezra Oklan. That being said...

I think they sound like a completely different band. I heard the old Inouk on maybe two songs of their entire set. One of which was "Miller", a song I heard them perform right after they had just finished writing it at a show at the Bowery Ballroom in early 2005. The songs have a totally different feel to them. Inouk originally had a hint of guitar that would remind you of country was the perfect amount, now it's not there. It also feels like there is a lot less acoustic guitar. There are also no vocals from Damon which was a big part of their old sound. The bassist does some background vocals, but other than that it is all Alex and all of this together makes them sound like a totally different band.

Basically I would have felt much better about the whole thing if they had just given themselves a new name. I am not sure what the verdict is. I didn't not like them. I also think I was in shock at how different they sounded, so I think I need a second listen, which might happen tomorrow (Sunday, Nov. 5th) seeing as how they are playing a free show at Union Pool (484 Union Avenue, corner of Union & Meeker) along with some other bands:


Also, Inouk have a myspace page now, where you can listen to one of their songs, "Carefree"...which kind of reminds me of the old Inouk...with the country-ish guitars and all...and the fast pace reminds me of one of their old songs "Victory at Sea".

And that concludes my Inouk tangent, back to CMJ...

Damon went on after Inouk. He played a lot of new songs. He played the new song I had heard him play at the Rocks in Your Head show, and upon hearing it the second time it got my seal of approval. Damon actually played almost entirely new songs...the only songs he played that were on his album were "Elizabeth Taylor" and "Not a Slave". He also played a song called "Motel Blues" by Jeanne Kuhns that was very good.

The Litte Ones were next. First impression...I like them a lot better live. Very energetic. For some reason I found myself thinking "they remind me of the Beach Boys", but I don't even think I know the Beach Boys well enough to say that. In any case they were good, just not my cup of tea.

I also liked the Small Sins a lot better live. They were very lively as well. I also enjoyed their extensive and vigorous maraca and tambourine use. I probably will end up giving them a few more listens. Not sure if they are something I would listen to all the time though, but we'll see.


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