Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Keane - Brit-pop balladeers like the piano

Riding the piano-driven, falsetto-voiced wave of popularity brought on by the likes of Travis, Coldplay, and Radiohead before them, Brit-poppers Keane have embraced the softer side of arena rock, sans guitar, and carved out a nice little niche for themselves. The floppy haired boys from Sussex are out in support of their second major-label release ‘Under the Iron Sea,' which is climbing the charts worldwide leading to sold-out shows in clubs and arenas alike.

The Band
Tom Chaplin (vocals), Richard Hughes (drums), and Tim Rice-Oxley (bass, piano) grew up together in Battle, East Sussex, England.  Sharing an affinity for playing music, they formed a band in 1997 and began playing Beatles and U2 covers.  After tiring of playing others’ music in the local clubs, they relocated to London and began writing their own songs. After a few years of toiling in relative obscurity, generating no buzz from their two self-released singles, they scored a break when London-based indie-label Fierce Panda offered to put out their next single, ‘Everybody Changes.'  The song was an immediate smash on local radio and a major-label bidding war ensued.

The Songs
Many of Keane’s lighthearted tunes sound like they were explicitly written for the closing montage of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’.  ‘Somewhere Only We Know,' the lead single off the debut release ‘Hopes And Fears,' is a tale of reminisce; a beautiful, pastoral composition that helped the album become one of the biggest selling in the UK in 2004. On their sophomore effort, ‘Under the Iron Sea,’ the mood has darkened.  Songs like ‘Atlantic,’ ‘Is It Any Wonder,’ and ‘A Bad Dream,’ deal with issues of alienation and doubt.

What’s In a Name?
Urban legend has it that when an old school chum of Rice-Oxley’s named Chris Martin was searching for a good name for his band, Rice-Oxley offered up the name Coldplay, Keane’s original moniker that the band thought too depressing.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Hipsters unite at Pitchfork Music Fest in Chicago's Union Park

Pitchfork Music Festival
Union Park 
Ashland Ave. and Lake St. -Chicago
July 29th-30th | $20 - $30
Noon - 10 p.m.

Purveyors of music snobbery on the web and curators of last year's successful Intonation Fest, Pitchfork Media decided to parlay their increasing editorial clout and throw their own festival. Billed as a cheap alternative to the blockbuster festivals with wallet-busting prices, Pitchfork delivers some of the hottest bands on the indie-alternative circuit for a fraction of the cost of Lollapalooza or Bonaroo.  

Sure you're not going to see Radiohead or the Chili Peppers, but you also aren't going to see casual music fans clamoring to hear the latest single playing on pop-radio. This is a gathering of music fans, tried and true Pitchfork Media readers, and lovers of all things hipster.  

The lineup is stellar, with a number of bands, The Futureheads, The Walkmen, Art Brut, Mission of Burma, and Tapes 'n Tapes, to name a few, appearing on the heels of a recent album release. Other highlights include Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Band of Horses, the National, Liars, Spoon and Def Jux rappers Mr. Lif and Cage.  For 41 bands over two days for the paltry sum of $30, you can't afford not to go.