Wednesday, August 13, 2008

David Bazan - Austin, TX (2008)

There are few songwriters I admire as much as David Bazan. His combination of honesty and skill are matched by only a handful of songwriters. On Saturday night I was able to go to a solo show of his (his first ever in Australia) at one of my favourite venues and he exceeded my expectations by such a long way. While he seems to perform a lot with an electric guitar and a small overdriven amp, at Saturday's show he played a tiny acoustic guitar for the whole show which complemented his vocals and the venue PA perfectly.

In this recording, he uses an electric guitar and plays quite a lot of songs from his upcoming solo album, perhaps the best of which is "When We Fell". Its lyrics are typical Bazan in a lot of ways and the music is some of the best he has ever written. Also included are some Pedro the Lion songs and one Headphones song ("Hot Girls") which he seems to play live a lot.

I have to say that the set here isn't as good as the one I got to see - there's no "Options" or "Priests and Paramedics" in particular (both of which are from my favourite Pedro the Lion album Control), nor is there his cover of "Hallelujah" which is just as good as any other, or the song he opened with at my show, which must be new because I can't figure out the title of it. Regardless, it is one of the best songs I have ever heard. Still, this recording has plenty of great stuff and a short bit of Q&A (which there is normally a lot more of at his shows), not to mention an oh-so-appropriate Shaggy song played over the PA at the end.

One note; the track titled "Harmless Sparks" is actually two songs; that one and "Fewer Broken Parts".


Friday, August 1, 2008

Nadja - Base Fluid (2007)

Nadja are one of those bands on a similar wavelength to Earth, Jesu, Isis, Grey Daturas and Boris but the more I listen to them, the more I think they're on another level to all of those bands compositionally. Nadja are a two-piece consisting of Aidan Baker (guitar, bass, vocals, drums, woodwinds, piano) and Leah Buckareff (bass, vocals). Leah joined so they could perform live, I think (it used to be just Aidan solo) but in all the videos I've seen they seem to have a drummer as well (hard to see with the dim lighting) so I don't know how that works. Basically though, Najda's sound is slow, dense and with a lot of melody underneath the noise (in that way they're probably most similar to Jesu).

Nadja are apparently pretty nice people because about 5 of their albums are available for free streaming from the website of their record label. and and Truth Becomes Death, Skin Turns to Glass and Radiance of Shadows are my favourites and the former of those is probably the best one to start with. However, this post is about Base Fluid, which is a free for download 'single' consisting of two songs with 30 minutes of music. It's not as good as any of those albums but at this point I think these guys can't do any wrong, which is to say that it's still pretty great. The title track is the better song, but "Numb" is also pretty great; it's a 20-minute epic that is loud and noisy the whole time and just constantly builds.

Because 30 minutes may not quite be enough, I've included links to some free mp3s from; "Stays Demons" and "Breakpoint" (from Truth Becomes Death). These two songs make over 20 minuutes together, which is a good chunk of free music. Enjoy.

Base Fluid
Stays Demons