Back when they first started winning over the record store set, Mates of State did this 100% puppy dog thing where they’d lock eyes in the middle of a song and just love the hell out of eachother until it was over. Of course, their chipper drum-n-keys sunshine show made sense paired with those I-Thee-Wed Peepers. And whether they grossed out the cynics or won over the lovebugs didn’t seem important to Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel. Didn’t even factor. Because, well, They Totally <3’d Eachother, y’know?!
But, to my surprise, when the Mates played their early-bird “secret show” this Wednesday at Mercury Lounge, they didn’t really do the eye thing. It was a sure-fire sign. After all, lots has changed since the puppy dog days: they’re proud parents of two now, with a network TV debut under their belts, and a new “mature” record to peddle. But, as Wednesday’s performance proved, while the recently-released Re-arrange Us isn’t as bubbly and hook-obsessed as its predecessors, the knack for smart-pop songcraft hasn’t left the couple.
So a couple of nights ago a couple of colleagues and I attended the Zach Galifinakis-hosted New York x New York magazine “Indie Rock Trivia Night ” and Les Savy Fav show at The Highline Ballroom. The sting of the rather princely $30.00 entry fee was assuaged by a 46-issue subscription to New York magazine, the prospect of seeing Les Savy Fav live for the first time and, certainly not least, some very generous contributions from some of the good people at Dailyrind, who thought that we could potentially bring home the gold. I’m sorry we let you down, guys.
I’m not one to brag but I think I have a reasonably decent grasp on “indie” trivia. I was born in 1977; I came of age right around the time punk “broke;” I subscribed to all the magazines; bought all the records everybody was supposed to buy; I went to hundreds of shows; I read all the books; I have carried on lengthy, (and occasionally extremely pretentious), conversations about the New Zealand “scene,” Japanese No Wave, African Funk, Quebecois Noise, rare ‘80s hip-hop, and any number of other music geek obsessions. (‘Cause hardcore wasn’t doing it for me no more.) I realize that I am hardly unique in this regard. There are of course millions of people just like me, and I knew full well that quite a few of them were going to be showing up to a shindig where you could win 500 bones for knowing something as obvious as who took the picture on the cover of Slint’s Spiderland .
Last Friday, Decon Records hosted their Grape Juice party at Soho’s Black Swan Wine Bar, with performances by Izza Kizza, 88 Keys, and Aceyalone. 88 Keys introduced new material from his upcoming Decon Records album, called Death of Adam (from the sound of things, an allusion to Eve’s umm… feminine charms, perhaps?) executive produced by Kanye West and hitting shelves this fall. Listen to “DOA” on Key’s MySpace page for a sneak peek of what I mean. Aceyalone also did his thing, and we can’t wait to catch the two on tour with Alchemist and Dilated Peoples this summer.
Fresh on the heels of the Bun B-assisted lead single “Where Da G’s,” the third full-length from English MC Dizzee Rascal has finally taken its stateside bow. Released on April 29th via Definitive Jux, Maths + English, finds the UK phenom at the top of his game. Waving the Union Jack and Stars and Bars with equal pride, Dizzee invited guests from both sides of the pond to add their talents to his genre-defying concoction of crunk, drum and bass, classic old school rap and grime. In addition to the aforementioned UGK cameo, British hitmakers, Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner and Lily Allen also lend their vocals to the proceedings. The freshly-released album includes several bonus tracks (both digitally and physically) not originally available on the UK version, in addition to tracks exclusive to iTunes, eMusic, and Amazon’s digital store.
Later this month, Dizzee embarks on a North American tour with labelmate El-P (whose recently-launched blog, Bastards Delight, is definitely worth checking out). Chicago spitsmiths Kidz in the Hall will join the Def Jux duo for dates in New York and Philly, while LA-based Busdriver will tag along through the Minneapolis date. And, of course, last but not least, still rolling on the wild success of None Shall Pass, Def Jux mainstay Aesop Rock will take the stage at Webster Hall in NYC and at the 1015 in San Francisco.
Music and dates after the jump…