Wednesday, June 11, 2008

popfests: one happy island + mahogany + boy genius

So, this weekend heralds NYC Popfest, and it's probably best I say little more about this event, or else I will cry lots of tears of jealousy. If you are going I hope you have a brilliant time and make sure you have a biiiiiiig dance for me! Indie pop dance parties plus the most amazing bands around - my heart breaks into a million little pieces. Sigh.

Anyway, two NYC Popfest bands I really love right now are One Happy Island and Mahogany.

I've been hooked on quite a few songs of late, but one that's creeped into my conscience in a sneaky yet very welcoming way has been 'Potential' by Boston's One Happy Island. I think it's the ukelele that does it - I'm fairly certain it can win me over at any opportunity. (An aside: the first time I saw Jens Lekman, it was just him and a ukelele, and it was the best show of his I've seen.) But what else? They have this winsome charm, earnestness and sense of DIY fun about what they're doing that makes them truly endearing - I mean, they harmonise along to a kazoo! I think they have a new release coming out on WeePOP! really soon - I will have to hunt this one down for sure, because their last one has already sold out.

I know everybody has been listening and loving Mahogany for quite a while now, but, as with most things, it's taken me a little while to truly understand how magnificent they are. Last year I received 'My Bed Is My Castle' on a mix CD and was instantly taken with how deep the song was, yet how it had this haunting element that whisked me off to the clouds. I don't know how to describe it. I finally followed up this initial encounter in London, when I picked up "Connectivity". I just love this album - like 'My Bed Is My Castle', it takes me to another world almost. I know how terrible and cheesy this all sounds, but it's an amazing record, and I would really love to see how it's recreated live.

Even though they're not playing NYC Popfest, I'm still endeared to Brooklynites (is that what you call them?) Boy Genius. I wrote about them after hearing their "Eureka" EP, and now they've gone and turned out an album, "Anchorage". Yay! "Anchorage" builds on the collegiate sound introduced on "Eureka" - they've re-recorded some of the tracks from the EP, and in high fidelity and with new production, they sound well polished. I love the addition of trumpets and little subtle guitar flourishes added to my favourite track, "Radio Silence", and Jason's vocals keep getting better and better across the entire album. "Anchorage" is the type of album I would put on whilst driving back from the beach - sunburnt, sandy and with the afternoon summer breeze blowing through the car. Perfect for everyone in the northern hemisphere! I'll make do with playing it on my weekend drives to anywhere. They're playing Athens Popfest in August - yet another festival to make me envious.

I might just make do with the Alex Bedroom Popfest, then.

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