Thursday, June 28, 2007

Superman Revenge Squad

Superman Revenge Squad presents himself like a lucky accident. The first entry in his MySpace blog includes the line, "I'm then going to try to purchase an acoustic guitar and learn to play it." It's from last November 24th, and since then he's begun to make appearances at open-mic nights and recorded a group of songs that are practically iconic.

"Idiot Food" is a tour-de-force of vocals perfectly pitched between rant and low-key melody, honest malaise mingled with tossed-off New Order analogies. "Kendo Nagasaki" has the gift of a chorus vocal harmony as only mumbly, half-serious Brits can deliver it: "I guess everything leads to lonliness/Weatherspoon's meals are cheaper when there's two/we're gonna gather all the lonely people, let them enjoy the two for one/let them go back to being strangers when they're through".

Like Brooklyn's Jeffrey Lewis, Superman Revenge Squad is taking folk music in exciting new directions - accessible, inventive and painfully funny, taking shots at pop culture but never straying too far from endearing self-deprecation. An artist who deserves much more press.

MP3: Superman Revenge Squad - Idiot Food
MP3: Superman Revenge Squad - Kendo Nagasaki

More on MySpace

Monday, June 25, 2007

New Release Tuesday

Young God Records' reissue of Lisa Germano's Lullaby for Liquid Pig (buy it) is out today with a 56 minute bonus CD of the various and sundry. While not my favorite Germano album, Chipotle picked it up for their in-restaurant rotation, so there. It's wispy, ethereal sound is something I need to spend more time with to fully appreciate. You can listen to samples of the album at Young God's site.

Swedish band The Culture in Memoriam have a new album, Abolish History - This is Our Story (buy it), and the lead track "Fear, Faith and Friends" is glammy goth folk with double-tracked vocals worth hearing through headphones.

Welsh indie-folk vets Gorky's Zygotic Mynci see reissues of their first three albums, Bwyd Time, Patio and Tatay (buy it).

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Mountain Goats all-request set hits the web

John Darnielle's special all-request Sunday night set to benefit Farm Sanctuary has surfaced on the Live Music Archive, and I have to confess I'm not a big enough Mountain Goats fan to recognize most of the songs performed by title. So far, I've listened to the set's first two songs, which happen to be two of my very favorites by Darnielle, All Hail West Texas' "Jenny" and Tallahassee's "Alpha Rats Nest".

Since this is an intimate, superfan-only show, "Jenny" has a full-throated chorus singing "hi diddle-dee-dee, god damn, a pirate's life for me", which is lots of fun, though I prefer the stark, knowing absurdity of the recorded version. And "Alpha Rats Nest" is noticibly less intense, almost lopey, bringing out the sweetness more than the menace.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Liz Isenberg tours every place but DC

Not quite, but still. Those who live elsewhere should take advantage and catch Isenberg with Deertick and Diego Perez at the following dates, starting tomorrow.

6/22 - Las Vegas, NV - Jacob's House w/ Jacob Smigel
6/24 - Long Beach, CA - Alex's Bar w/ Jacob Smigel & Friendship Hurricane
6/27 - Santa Barbara, CA - Pink Mailbox
6/28 - San Francisco, CA - Hemlock Tavern
6/29 - Portland, OR - Dekum Manor
6/30 - Olympia, WA - What You Got Fest
7/01 - Seattle, WA - Jules Maes Saloon w/ Flaspar, A Crowd of Small Adventures & Morgans Orange
7/02 - Boise, ID - Pengilly's w/ Lo-fi (Starts at 7pm)
7/03 - Provo, UT - Muse Music w/ Drew Danbury
7/06 - Fort Collins, CO - SS7
7/07 - Manhattan, KS - The Dusty Bookshelf
7/09 - Des Moines, IA - Vaudville Mews
7/10 - Davenport, IA - Mondo Attic w/ Quiet Bears
7/11 - Oshkosk, WI - Reptile Palace w/ Patchwork & Expatriate
7/16 - Indianapolis, IN - Big Car Gallery
7/17 - Fort Wayne, IN - The Rejoice House
7/20 - Cleveland, OH Ð Tower 2012
7/21 - Athens, OH - Casa Cantina w/ Adam Torres
7/24 - Toronto, ON - The Tranzac

Morning Shorts: AMC redux

The Eitzelsphere is buzzing with reaction to today's press release announcing the new AMC lineup, minus Mooney and Pearson, now based in LA, with an album due on Merge in the new year, which will be "lighter":

The overall sound is lighter than on previous AMC recordings. Of course there are many reasons why. 1) AMC refutes the label of 'Emo Pioneers'. For the record they hate Emo and have never been on the soundtrack for any W.B. network show. (yet) 2) Dark music is for people who are healthy enough to take it - and AMC want to appeal to all people - including the sick. 3) Mark Eitzel comments: "What will my neighbors in my retirement community think? How will I charm the nurse that tends to me? I want to fill my mouth with sugar and spit it on everyone when I talk. I want to cover the world with chocolate cake icing."
Best pithy comment from Firefly poster Larry Holt: "I'm excited! It sounds like another classic AMC disaster!"

Sad to see Tim Mooney leave the band, in particular, but here's hoping we hear more from him via the amazing Pocket Shelley.


Kirstiecat comes through with her usual excellent show coverage, this time of The Veils, with a review, pics, and setlist. I managed to miss these guys in both DC and Vancouver, but Kirstie takes me there. I would have been sad not to have heard "Tide" anyway.

Aquarium Drunkard has news on, and songs from, a deluxe Love reissue.

Brooklyn Vegan covers the recent Mountain Goats tribute show weekend, including an amazing rarities set.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New Release Tuesday: Micah P. Hinson, Arthur & Yu

Folks looking at the official start of summer with ambitions of lazy, detached nostalgia might want to check out Arthur & Yu, whose debut In Camera (buy it) is the first release on the Hardly Art label, the new home of Sub Pop founder Johnathan Poneman. Sure to unleash a flood of Hazelwood/Sinatra and VU comparisons on the world, and based on these tunes, pretty much worth it.

Micah P. Hinson's new EP Presents A Dream of Her (buy it) is on Houston Party Records; Hinson opens for Rufus Wainwright Thursday in Madrid and is playing various European festivals throughout the summer. The label is teasing this as a move in a Leonard Cohen-like direction, with an emphasis on piano over guitar. I love Micah P. Hinson, and wow, does he deserve a bigger audience. His screaming, beet-red-face encore performance before a handful of indifferent barflies at his NOVA show last year made me an official fan, and I can't wait to hear this.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Weekend Shorts

After hearing the wonderful "Calliope!" on KEXP, I finally got a listen to The Veils' Nux Vomica in full, and the results are mixed. While the album's been getting the most raves for the darker, more gothic, yowling tunes compared to Waits and Cave, I'm less excited by them than the handful of poppier, right-side-of-melodramatic songs that recall a heady, unique mixture of Bowie, Ferry, Cocker and Hannon, full of knowing sadness, humor and melodic swagger. Even better than "Calliope!" (which you can stream at their MySpace) is "Advice for Young Mothers to Be", where female backing vocals underscore the great, aching chorus. Also be sure to check out their recent French radio Black Sessions MP3s on Sixeyes, including a cover of Springsteen's "State Trooper".

MP3: The Veils - Advice for Young Mothers to Be

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (AKA Owen Ashworth) is heading out on tour with the Donkeys, who will provide him with a wall of sound. These should be great shows, as the collaboration has sounded teriffic on their Daytrotter session and live tracks from the Bobby Malone Moves Home EP.

There'll be a new split 7" for sale at the shows, and Owen has posted one of the new tunes, "White Corolla", on his MySpace. He's also kindly made available "the first CFTPA song", "Seattle Wash", from a long-lost 7".

MP3: Casiotone for the Painfully Along - Seattle Wash

It's Hard to Find a Friend talks to Centro-Matic's Will Johnston in sprawling, Big Takeover style, and gets the scoop on tour-bus stories from the Undertow Orchestra days: "Well, there's the time that Vic [Chesnutt] told his story of taking 40 hits of acid all at once, then sitting in his house, mostly motionless for five days straight...apparently he could hear the phone ringing, and people knocking at his door, but he just couldn't move to answer either one of 'em."

TW Walsh, ex of Pedro the Lion, has a new online store, which makes his two brilliant solo albums available, and features free full album streams. Especially worth it is the $7 download for Blue Laws, which includes scans of the liners, something I wish more online downloads had. Seriously, head to the store, stream the first two tracks from Blue Laws ("Kudos to the Player" and "Old Fashioned Way of Speaking"), and try to resist.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Morning Shorts

My Old Kentucky Blog has a track from the upcoming Iron & Wine full-length The Shepherd's Dog, "Boy With a Coin", which, as I listen to it at 2 AM in a hotel lobby, sounds trippier than the typical Beam, but may not in the light of day.

Pitchfork reports on next week's Young God reissue of Lisa Germano's Lullaby for Liquid Pig, with a disc of bonus tracks, including several amazing-sounding live medleys, particularly for those who think Slide is outrageously underrated.

Fine Portland singer-songwriter Jared Mees is writing a tour diary for Local Cut.

Idolator covers the new Bitter Bitter Weeks album; the one-man band has put out some slightly-guilty-pleasure sadcore in the past and I'm looking forward to hearing this more. With Ric Menck on drums!

North Carolina's Schooner often get compared to Red House Painters, which I don't really hear, but they've got a bouncy-sad feeling to their songs that keeps me looping them for a while. This track is from their upcoming record Hold On Too Tight, due in August.

MP3: Schooner - They Always Do!

And for the fond early-80s Nickelodeon memories: RIP, Mr. Wizard.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

New Release Tuesday: The Choir Practice

The Choir Practice - s/t (buy it)
These folks from Vancouver have connections to the New Pornographers and P:ano, and coincidentally, I was considering their album in the new release section of the nice Vancouver record store Zulu today. It's the type of shop that has lots of staff-penned descriptions taped to the cases - they compared The Choir Practice to the Free Design, among others - and they also boast a collection of sadly turned-off vintage arcade consoles. I ended up leaving only with a Moldy Peaches comp I'd been looking for, but now, listening to their music for NRT, I kind of regret not grabbing this disc too. It hits the all the right notes of innocence, artless beauty, and muted hope. They play the Ukranian Hall in Vancouver on Friday, when I'll have vacationed on to Whistler.

Ryan Groff - People in the Midwest (buy it)
Groff is in the band Elsinore, and I think this is his first solo outing. Earnest, close-miked tales of woe, and pretty good if you go for that sort of thing. Groff does a good job keeping the production simple but interesting.

LD and the New Criticism - Amoral Certitudes (buy it)
There should be way, way more covers of songs by Lisa Germano. The revolution starts here with a take on "If I Think of Love", streaming on their MySpace. LD as in Beghtol, of Magnetic Fields fame.
My wifi connection is weak, but I hope to post more from the road soon. Veg-friendly poutine will be mine.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Morning Shorts: Barbara Manning

Writing from vacation in Seattle, and heading to Vancouver tomorrow. By utter coincidence, we ended up staying in a hotel in the Queen Anne neighborhood, where the diner food is plentiful and the wonderful Easy Street Records, with its Tower-esque painted album cover murals and rotating sign, made me remember how much I'm gonna miss record stores when they're gone. I picked up several discs I hadn't seen in DC but hadn't been devoted enough to order, including Meg Baird's Dear Companion and Jana Hunter's There's No Home, as well as last year's Kind of Like Spitting/Lemuria split and Hefner's recent live album Maida Vale. Meanwhile, I couldn't help but notice that Drag City, as if to hammer home the increasing fetishism of physical music collecting, is hawking a new Bonnie Prince Billy EP, Strange Form of Life, for a hefty $12.99, despite the fact that the EP tracks are Daytrotter Session songs, which are legally free online. But the packaging is nice...

Pitchfork reports on Jana Hunter tour dates.

Barbara Manning has a new box set reissue out, Super Scissors (buy it), which collects remastered versions of Scissors and One Perfect Green Blanket along with 24 bonus tracks and extensive liners. And for all those that wonder about the economic realities of being a beloved indie singer-songwriter, an interview with recent college grad Manning in the San Francisco Chronicle is a must-read.

MP3: Barbara Manning - Scissors (acoustic demo)

Leonard Cohen talks to Harp about lots of topics, most tantalizingly for fans of a certain age, the prospect of a tour: "Those anxious for Cohen to record his own work again should be pleased to learn that the film’s concert sequences have inspired him to consider touring in support of his next album, tentatively set for release later this year. “Yes, yes,” he confirms. “I haven’t been out since ’93. The years went by and I thought ‘I’ll never go out again.’ But every so often you do have that itch. You’ve heard that saying in rock ’n’ roll, they don’t pay you to sing, they pay you to travel. But you forget about that stuff. The actual concerts are always compelling. If you’ve got good musicians, and you’re playing, and people know the songs, and they want to hear them live, it is a wonderful thing. And so I’m drawn to that.”"

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ryan Adams covering...Alice in Chains?

It's been a while since I've paid attention to Ryan Adams; Heartbreaker was great, but the deluge of middling and/or genre-exercise releases, and that MTV Adams-in-Jamaica special, put me off. And as if to say, hey, check me out, he's gone and started covering Alice in Chains in concert. One of their better songs at that, "Down in a Hole", which is oddly not that different translated through the alt-roots Ryan Adams filter, reverb and all.

Is the grunge cover hot with the key demos these days? I'll be waiting for the Sufjan Stevens take on "Hunger Strike"...

MP3: Ryan Adams - Down in a Hole (Alice in Chains cover)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Evening Shorts: I'd love to be eaten by meat bees

Ben Barnett, formerly known as Kind of Like Spitting, has a fantastic interview/performance session as part of the Local Cut Podcast Portland Lounge Series. He goes over his drug habits, love/hate of Portland, why KOLS is no more, and his favorite music these days, including the Andrew Jackson Jihad, who he covers along with Shellac, Pulp and Billy Bragg. You also get a few KOLS originals in the deal, including one of my favorites, Bridges Worth Burning's "Canaries"; the line "you know free agency pays little in the long run/but you just don't know if your legs are that tired yet" never fails to make me smile.

The Andrew Jackson Jihad, who may be touring Europe with Ben at some point, have a track on their website reminiscent of early Mountain Goats, with an acid twist.

MP3: Andrew Jackson Jihad - Powerplant

A pretty cover of Fionn Regan's "Be Good or Be Gone" is up on MySpace. Poor guy had his Regan-autographed guitar stolen along with his car, so give him a listen. Regan's The End of History gets US release on Lost Highway in July.

Pitchfork sez Spoon's new track "The Underdog" is their breakthrough bid; I don't hear a hit - the chorus is way too understated - but it's a fun track nonetheless.

MP3: Spoon - The Underdog

Friday, June 01, 2007

Phoebe Kreutz CD release show tonight w/ Don Lennon

Via the Don Lennon mailing list, I've discovered the antifolk stylings of Phoebe Kreutz. Lennon, one of my favorite songwriters and a previous Uncommon Folk contributor, is playing at Kreutz's CD release show tonight at the Sidewalk Cafe in NYC.

Her new CD, Big Ugly Moon, is unavailable for order anywhere online, as far as I can tell, but a few tracks from the album streaming on her MySpace are pretty teriffic. "Birdy in the Driveway" plays like a cross between Kimya Dawson and Sarah Silverman, equal parts pluck, humor, irony and pathos.

Tracks for download on her site, from the 2003 album Pretty. Pretty Stupid., are heavier on the novelty factor than the new songs, not as satisfying but a fun listen nonetheless.

MP3: Phoebe Kreutz - Love in the Seventh Grade
MP3: Phoebe Kreutz - Taco Bell Song