Frontier Psychiatrist

Posts Tagged ‘James Blake

(Each month, we at Frontier Psychiatrist bring you some of our favorite free music from the last 30 days in our column Free And Easy.  We hope you enjoy this month’s installment.  For previous entries, click here.)

James Blake – Live

We’ve made no secret of our love for James Blake; indeed, we named his debut LP the best album of 2011, and we released a live album of his material last May.  It turns out we are not alone in our admiration, as earlier this month a group of rabid fans put together this outstanding 15-track live album, with work that spans the entirety of Blake’s short but prolific career.  Many of these performances are drastically different than their studio counterparts, providing still more evidence of this young artist’s uncanny breadth of talent.

James Blake – “Enough Thunder” (Live)

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Live Music_FP_13

As we’ve reported over the last few weeks, 2011 saw the release of plenty of great music. Luckily, in a year with so many great releases, we also had the opportunity to see plenty of great shows. From arena blow outs to dive bar ragers, the following are the 13 best live performances I saw over the last 12 months.

1/15: Punch Brothers @ Bowery Ballroom (NYC)

Punch Brothers are arguably the most talented touring band today, and their mid-January Bowery Ballroom performance did not dissapoint. Billed as one of their famed “P-Bingo” Nights, Punch Brothers ripped through the high points of their two albums (three, if you count How to Grow a Woman from the Ground) and tackled over 10 pristine (and at times raucus) covers from “Paperback Writer” to Sufjan Stevens’ “Concerning the UFO Sighting” and The Strokes’ “Heart In a Cage.” This show also held my number one music moment of the year, when Chris Thile solo-performed an unplugged Bach concierto on mandolin for an awestruck Lower East Side.

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50

(All week we’re counting down the top albums of 2011.  For previous entries on the list, click here.  We hope you enjoy the music.)

10. Balam Acab – Wander/Wonder

In 2010, with critically acclaimed releases from young artists like James Blake and How To Dress Well, the re-purposing of classic R&B became all the rage.  Of course, in 2011 the enthusiasm faded, replaced by excitement over the creation of new R&B (more on this later).  It may be for this reason that Balam Acab’s debut LP Wander/Wonder fell largely on deaf ears.  It’s a shame that critical opinion is so heavily dictated by musical trends, because you are unlikely to find a more beautiful collection of 8 songs this  year.  There is much to be said about the aquatic production and judicious use of samples on this record, and it has all been said elsewhere.  Most importantly, though, this record is an encapsulation of the power of music to move and enchant.  A power that is, after all, impervious to trends.    -LVL

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50

(All week we’re counting down the top songs of 2011.  For previous entries on the list, click here.  We hope you enjoy the music.)

10. Youth Lagoon – “Montana”

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Of all the tasks assigned to the music critic, evaluating a cover song may be the most difficult.  The grade bestowed upon any re-make depends not just on the quality of the performance, but also on the grader’s relationship to the original song, not to mention his relationship to that relationship (Do you love covers of songs you hate?  Do you hate covers of songs you love?).  As such, there is bound to be disagreement about a list like this.  Some will wonder why I included no covers from the Nirvana or U2 tribute albums that were released this year; others may feel my choices are in fact too mainstream.

Thankfully, such controversies are part of the joy of putting together year-end lists, and any critic who embarks on such a project with the goal of “getting it right” is bound for disappointment.  At their best, such lists are not simply a sequence of judgments; they are a vehicle for the sharing of great music.  And if we at Frontier Psychiatrist have one goal, that is it.

So, without further ado, please enjoy our 10 Best Covers of 2011.  Feel free to suggest additions to the list or express dissent with the ranking order.  But, above all, please enjoy the music.

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My recent arrival in Chicago has been beneficial for two reasons: 1) I have a fulfilling job, and 2) I get to a shit ton of rock shows. For example, over the course of the four weeks of October, I made it to six shows. No two shows were alike: I welcomed fresh-faced James Blake and Ty Segall; cheered for past-their prime Glenn Danzig, Smoking Popes and Frank Turner and turned Japanese with Boris.

James Blake @ The Metro (9/29)

September 29 was a very eventful night for Chicago’s hipsters. Due to a scheduling gaffe of epic proportions, Girls, Panda Bear, Fucked Up and James Blake all played on the same night. These are arguably the four most talked about artists of the year (OFWGKTA excepting). Granted, I’m not terribly fond of and Animal Collective or Girls (I am fond of girls, however), but my internal debate over the post-dubstep poster boy and the psychedelic hardcore auteurs was one for the history books. My final decision, James Blake, was born out of my great experience at his D.C. show earlier this year and a desire to appear “cool” with my new coworkers.

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As some of you know, I recently moved to Chicago from Washington, D.C. On a daily basis, I am shocked at the size of Chi-town, be it in number of residents or just the distance between two points. I moved to Ukranian Village, just off Wicker Park, aka Chicago’s Williamsburg. One of the benefits that comes with living in such a large metropolis is the excellent concert selection. This autumn delivers a hell of a line-up.

Below, see my picks for shows in the next two and a half months. Did I miss anything?

9/22 – Okkervil River – The Vic
9/22 – Laura Marling – Lincoln Hall
9/23 – They Might Be Giants – The Vic
9/23 – Beardyman – Double Door
9/23 – Liam Finn – Lincoln Hall
9/24 – Marnie Stern – Subterranean
9/24 – Block Party: Andrew Bird, Mavis Staples, Booker T. Jones, Dosh and more – The Hideout
9/25 – Big D and The Kids Table – Beat Kitchen
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