For The Key’s year-in-review, we asked our trusted sources – our writers and photographers, XPN’s on-air staff, fellow bloggers in the Philly scene and even a few musicians – to send us their Top Five Whatevers. Could be the traditional music route – albums, songs, concerts of the year – or it could be only loosely connected. We’ll be sharing these recaps every day through to the end of the year. Today, XPN Morning Show host Michaela Majoun shares her five most sonically addictive songs of 2012.
By which I mean songs you just can’t get out of your head, not necessarily because of lyrical content or musical depth, but because of a sound that hooks you. I suspect it has something to do with repetition and viscerally-felt clapping or drum noise and the other things noted below. There are studies about why music is addictive – read more here and here. Continue reading →
Friday night was a big night for Electric Guest. In the middle of an east-coast tour, the men of Electric Guest wrapped up a sold-out show at Kung Fu Necktie just in time to watch themselves debut on Letterman. To anyone who didn’t catch the group performing on the LA circuit for the last year–where they showcased their Danger Mouse-produced debut album, Mondo (which was five years in the making)–Electric Guest seemed to come out of nowhere. This tour, however, and spots on late-night television have been a long time in the making, especially if frontman Asa Taccone’s background of writing music for SNL is taken into account.
Taccone’s name may sound familiar from his work with SNL and with Lonely Island, the comedy group that his brother Jorma does with Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer. Asa co-wrote and produced “Dick in a Box,” wrote the music behind the popular SNL skit “Natalie Raps,” and composed pieces for the McGruber and Hot Rod soundtracks. Taccone met bandmate Matthew Compton when he was living in a house in LA with several other musicians. Compton, who played drums in the band Engine Down, was drumming for a friend who also lived in the house, and soon he and Taccone began to play together. They took the name Electric Guest (legend has it, a woman called Taccone an “electric guest of the universe” and it stuck with him) and began to work on what would become Mondo. Eventually Danger Mouse was brought into the picture, along with brothers Tory and Todd Dahlhoff to round the band out to a group of four. They worked on their live show in LA and released an EP before attending SXSW this year. By then, hype was growing about this super group, their crisp electronic-meets-falsetto-R&B sound and even their quirky music videos.
Which sets the stage for Friday night at Kung Fu Necktie. A year spent fine-tuning their live show allowed them to make it an entirely different experience from their album. Mondo has strong, catchy moments, but an overall relaxed feel to it. Their live show is a dance party. Up front, fans knew all the words to hits like “American Daydream” and “I Hold My Head” and they danced along– but no one danced quite like Taccone. The Guardian named him “mostly likely to swagger like Jagger” and they weren’t kidding. For all the self-confessed meticulousness and perfectionism that went into this album, the band cut loose on stage. When Taccone announced that they would be slowing things down, an obvious clue that “American Daydream” was next, the band seemed shocked that people not only knew what to expect, but cheered for it. Given Electric Guest’s systematic rise to success, it’s more surprising that they were so taken aback.
Before long, the set was over. After all, the band has only one 10-track album. After the show, they drifted about the bar, greeting audience members and signing merchandise. Tory Dahlhoff mentioned that the band wanted to hear the television in the corner of the bar because they were debuting on Letterman and within minutes, most of the bar migrated to the new upstairs lounge, which is fortunately stocked with a large flat screen TV. Surrounded by thrilled fans, the band members waited to see themselves play “I Hold My Head” at the end of Letterman’s show. When they finally came on, the men of Electric Guest stood mesmerized, while whispers of “this is so meta!” went through the small crowd who were watching the band watch themselves. It was a weirdly sweet and funny moment, the kind that only happens when a band is too modest to realize that they probably need to get to used to this sort of thing. –Naomi Shavin
Under The Gun
I Hold My Head
FRIDAY, MAY 4TH
Electric Guest, despite common belief, is not detached. The duo’s Danger Mouse-produced debut is so clean, it’s almost sanitary, despite it being described as vocalist Asa Taccone’s “passion project.” Though many projects with an R&B twinge can be assumed to be raucous and passionate, it seems Taccone is more interested in the R&B structure of songwriting than he is in being the next great soul singer. His falsetto approach to crooning may seem removed, but it makes sense in context with his previous work. Taccone is used to producing for his brother Jorma’s comedy group, Lonely Island; his specialty is taking outrageous material and packaging it as aesthetically pleasing pop. It seems that with Electric Guest, Taccone is actually doing the exact same thing. Even the music videos for Electric Guest are darkly humorous satire. Of course, they’re each beautifully produced, which Taccone is clearly passionate about as well. Electric Guest performs with New Look and Mock Suns at 8 p.m. at Kung Fu Necktie; tickets to the 21+ show are SOLD OUT. —Naomi Shavin
Also Playing: Caveman + Ape School, The Homophones at Milkboy Philly (9:30 p.m., 21+, $12); Low Cut Connie + Church, California Wives at North Star Bar (9 p.m., 21+, $12); Pink Skull + Instamatic at The Level Room (9 p.m., 21+, $7); White Birds + Dinosaur Feathers, Laser Background at PhilaMOCA (8:30 p.m., all ages, $7-$10); Woods + Mmoss, Spacin’ at Johnny Brenda’s (9 p.m., 21+, $12)
SATURDAY, MAY 5th
In 2010, Neon Trees ruled the alt-rock radio stations with the song “Animal” from the band’s debut album, Habits. Last month, Utah-based quartet tried to replicate that success with their second album, Picture Show. As the name suggests, the album is heavily influenced by Hollywood, including a movie poster from each song on the band’s website and a track, “Hooray for Hollywood”, that reads off a list of dead celebrities as a testament to the town’s destructive power. Neon Trees performs with Eve 6 and Darryl Miller & the Veil at 3:45 pm at the Piazza at Schmidt’s; the all-ages show is free. —Nicole Soll
Also Playing: Pierced Arrows + Far-Out Fangtooth, Band Name at Kung Fu Necktie (7:30 p.m., 21+, $10); Swift Technique + Lady, First Capital Funk at Johnny Brenda’s (9:15 p.m., 21+, $10); We Were Promised Jetpacks + Breton, Fort Lean at Union Transfer (8:30 p.m., all ages, $15)
SUNDAY, MAY 6th
Future Islands + Ed Scharder’s Music Beat, Ladies Auxiliary at First Unitarian Church (8 p.m., all ages, $12); East Hundred at Johnny Brenda’s (6 p.m., 21+, $10-$12)