Monthly Archives: July 2013

Nutshell Album Review: Team Spirit – Team Spirit EP

teamspiritEPAyad Al Adhamy is a brilliant, brilliant man. Not only did he grace our ears as the former synthesizer player in Passion Pit, produce many remixes under the same band, and start an absolutely awesome independent record label that’s released material from bands like The Joy Formidable, Dom, and Stepdad, but now he’s doing another thing in the music industry (shocker!). Now Al Adhamy is back in the music-making game with his new Brookyln-based garage rock group Team Spirit, which most recently has garnered the attention of Rolling Stone who called them a “Band to Watch”. This raunchy and in-your-face quartet have gained a lot of attention so far following the release of their debut Team Spirit EP, and Rolling Stone is correct; you definitely want to keep an eye on them.

The EP opens up with “Jesus, He’s Alright!”, which opens up with your standard feedback and noise before breaking into a fast-paced and riff-based pop punk track. Once Al Adhamy’s vocals get layered over the screeching guitars, exceptionally catchy bass groove, and inhumanly fast drum beat, this song transforms into an all out garage anthem. After that comes “MRDR it’s ok”, with a very listener-friendly opening hook, a beautifully double-tracked solo, and solid vocal layering to turn this into a masterpiece of a song. This track has all things necessary for you to headbang, dance like a goofy indie kid, or do anything in between. The next song is “Fuck the Beach” (thus the use of the word “raunchy” earlier), which is a hilarious and angsty song about someone who just really doesn’t want to go to the beach. The song also creates a solid Wavves-like beach punk feel, with harmonies and “woo”s being provided throughout the song as it cuts back and forth between a very civil-sounding chorus and a wall of distortion. Then comes “Teenage Love”, which includes another impressive combination of riffs, dynamics, and vocals from Al Adhamy (plus a great performance from the rhythm section), and album closer “Phenomenon”, which sounds like The Orwells doing an intense rendition of a Doolittle-era Pixies song. If you need a translation, it’s beachy, garagey, and just a good note to end the EP on.

It isn’t a secret that I love Passion Pit. It also isn’t a secret that I love things that come from Black Bell Records. Through a storm of reviews and articles about Team Spirit that, just as I did, talk endlessly about Passion Pit, Black Bell, and everything that Ayad Al Adhamy put his hands on that aren’t this band, I fear that people will lose sight of the important things: we have stumbled upon what could truly become an influential part on today’s garage/punk/beach rock scene. Kudos to Team Spirit for putting together a truly awesome debut EP, and for grabbing an 89/100 in the process.

Team Spirit EP Tracklisting:

  1. Jesus, He’s Alright!
  2. MRDR it’s ok
  3. Fuck the Beach
  4. Teenage Love
  5. Phenomenon

Nutshell Concert Review: Wilco – Toyota Park 7/12/13

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy performing at Toyota Park, 7/12/13

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy performing at Toyota Park, 7/12/13

Friday night was a very important night in my long-spanning career of music fandom. The “Americanarama” tour featuring Bob Dylan (and his band), Wilco, My Morning Jacket, and The Richard Thompson Trio made it’s way through Bridgeview, IL, a town known for almost nothing besides the enormous soccer field/concert venue that is Toyota Park. Not only did I get to see some of the most respected and well-versed musicians in their respective generations, but I also asked myself the question of why I stopped writing about these amazing moments that have happened to me in my own little musical bubble. So…here we are.

The “Americanarama” tour is headlined by none other than Bob Dylan, who is a musical icon and has been for decades. This is no reason, however, to undersell the other three acts traveling with Dylan and his band. The hometown-favorite Wilco stepped on stage as the last act before Dylan himself took the stage. As the night cooled, the sun set, and the music veterans stepped on stage, a wall of energy swept through the audience. Following the high-octane performances of My Morning Jacket and Richard Thompson was going to be a tough task for the notoriously relaxing band, but the 6-piece had no issues keeping the crowd tuned in with a career-spanning setlist and a handful of guest appearances from both Thompson and MMJ. When the soft lighting went up on stage and the sky turned dark, the entire audience stayed on their feet, singing along, and applauding every time frontman Jeff Tweedy reminded us all how great it was to return home.

Throughout a setlist that had its fair share of surprises (including an impromptu jam session when Richard Thompson took the stage), many moments shone through in this exceptional performance. Whether it be Thompson’s vocals gracing a mid-set performance of the Wilco/Billy Bragg classic “California Stars”, the MMJ collaboration of Neil Young’s classic “Cinnamon Girl”, or the beautiful rendition of the Being There opening track, “Misunderstood”, this performance showed Wilco at their best. And kudos to Thompson, My Morning Jacket, and Bob Dylan as well for helping create one of the most epic concert lineups I’ve seen in a while. A pretty solid comeback topic for us, if you ask me.

Here’s Wilco’s full setlist from the show:

  1. At the Window, Sad and Lonely
  2. When the Roses Bloom Again
  3. What Light
  4. Misunderstood
  5. Poor Places
  6. Art of Almost
  7. Sloth (Fairport Convention cover, played with Richard Thompson)
  8. California Stars (played with Richard Thompson)
  9. That’s Not the Issue (played with Richard Thompson)
  10. Hummingbird
  11. Impossible Germany
  12. Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young cover, played with My Morning Jacket)
  13. Born Alone
  14. Dawned on Me
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