Thursday, March 29, 2007
In their review of the show, DCist dubs them "the most uncynical band in the world" (really?) and provides a good recap of the music, which managed at its height to create an atmosphere of guilt-free, bouyant revelry not often seen on the indie tour circuit. The band operates as sort of an anti-Hold Steady, writing clever and anthemic throwback pop that's hip but hopeful at the core.
Now that they've signed to new Secretly Canadian/Jagjaguwar family label Dead Oceans, it can only be a matter of time before superstardom comes a-callin'. You'll want to catch them while they still have the hunger, so see if you can Craig your way into the sold-out final date on the tour with +/- and Say Hi To Your Mom, tonight at NYC's Mercury Lounge.
MP3: Bishop Allen - Click Click Click Click
MP3: Bishop Allen - Like Castanets
MP3: Bishop Allen - Things Are What You Make of Them
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
“It’s not that often that a 54-year-old woman achieves her greatest success,’’ said Lucinda Williams from the Orpheum stage last Saturday, referring to the trajectory of her career. “It’s about the talent, about the work. Thanks for letting me into the fold.”
The Detroit Metro Times covers the Sebadoh reunion:
Before the band came out, my friend Dave said he was at the show simply to see if Gaffney was a real person. And that comment gives some perspective to how long it’s been since those late 1980s and early 90s days when lo-fi was still this thing that applied to records such as Sebadoh’s Weed Forestin’ or dudes like Daniel Johnston and East River Pipe.
A few new tour dates of note: Bert Jansch will be at the Musuem of Fine Arts in Boston on June 6 and the Bowery Ballroom in NYC on 6/10 (via Brooklyn Vegan); the Innocence Mission will play 6/7 at Club Passim in Cambridge and 6/8 at the Iron Horse in Northhampton, in addition to a few previously announced dates.
At long last, a Bill Callahan download from the upcoming Woke on a Whaleheart, due in April from Drag City.
MP3: Bill Callahan - Sycamore
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
MP3: The National - Fake Empire
Kirstiecat has another installment in her wonderful ongoing series, "Awkward Conversations About Music".
Amy Annelle talks to Willamette Week:
I've been a laborer, a forest ranger, a cook, a carny, cleaning lady, bartender. I've done drug studies and medical experiments, I've busked on the street and in the subway. I can't hold down straight jobs. It's just a matter of time before I get the guillotine.
A new blog discovery I've been enjoying is Records I Buy. See their recent posts on stalking Yo La Tengo in Hoboken and a review of the bonus track on the new Innocence Mission vinyl.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
April 10th - Münster - Gleiss 22
Mitchell makes frequent eye contact, smoking prodigiously. She talks about the "pornographic pigs" of the modern music machine, who care only about "golf and rappers"; it's a subject she can now tackle with a hearty laugh, no longer bothered by their belief that her sell-by date has been reached, and delighted to be embarking on her busiest and most productive schedule for more than a decade.
Kirstiecat has the requisite pics, review and setlist from the Chicago Dean & Britta show, which featured lots of Luna classics.
Aquarium Drunkard has Gillian Welch doing Radiohead's "Black Star", and The Rawking Refuses to Stop! is featuring Elliott Smith covers of the Kinks and the Beatles.
Richard Thompson has a new anti-war song, "Dad's Gonna Kill Me", available on his web site.
MP3: Richard Thompson - Dad's Gonna Kill Me
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
MP3: The Zincs - Head East, Kaspar
Also out is a 2-track single in advance of Bill Callahan's post-Smog coming-out, Woke on a Whalehart, featuring Diamond Dancer (Drag City) (buy it).
Elsewhere, the top tier of late-90s indie rock cannot be stopped. Low plugs on with Drums and Guns (Sub Pop) (buy it), still making me wonder if I need to add to my current Low collection of The Curtain Hits the Cast and Christmas. Meanwhile, Modest Mouse plugs in Johnny Marr like a bizarro Cousin Oliver to keep you guessing. Will We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (Epic) (buy it) keep them on the commercial Alternative charts next to the likes of Three Days Grace and Breaking Benjamin? Is there anything here to match my favorite woozy MM of "Custom Concern" and "Baby Blue Sedan"? The song's all right, I guess, but the production on "People" is a bit too nu.
MP3: Low - Breaker
MP3: Modest Mouse - People as Places as People
Monday, March 19, 2007
Hitchcock is also touring after a performance at SXSW:
March 19th - The Nick, Birmingham, AL
March 20th - Smith's Olde Bar, Atlanta, GA
March 21st - 40 Watt Club, Athens, GA
March 22nd - Handlebar, Greenville, SC
March 23rd - Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, NC
March 25th - Ramshead, Annapolis, MD
March 26th - World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA
March 27th & 28th - Knitting Factory, New York, NY
March 29th - Iron Horse, Northampton, MA
March 30th - TT The Bear's, Boston, MA
April 6th - Crocodile, Seattle, WA
April 7th - Doug Fir, Portland, OR
April 8th - Sam Bond's Garage Eugene, OR
April 10th - Slims, San Francisco, CA
April 12th - Spaceland Los Angeles, CA
April 14th - Club Congress, Tucson, AZ
The documentary Robyn Hitchcock: Sex, Food, Death and Insects played at SXSW and will be on the Sundance Channel on Tuesday, March 27 at 10pm ET/PT.
There's a good deal of Hitchcock recordings at the Live Music Archive, including a show from 2005 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, where Hitchcock performed what might be my favorite song by him, "Queen Elvis". It's an especially direct and intimate character study for Hitchcock, who's usually prone to more oblique narratives ("Coming out's the hardest part/when you're Queen Elvis..."). This solo version with harmonica might be better than the original.
MP3: Robyn Hitchcock - Queen Elvis (live)
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Slarffenland appear tonight at SXSW at Hometapes' Friend Island venue. Their new record Private Cinema is out on Hometapes May 15th.
MP3: Slarffenland - Polaroids
Thursday, March 15, 2007
MP3: Bright Eyes - No One Would Riot for Less
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Sure is odd, the listed artist on this record, seeing how Paula Frazer was always, basically, Tarnation. And the new songs on her MySpace are in line with her artistic development over the years, rather than any sort of clear throwback to the mid-90s Tarnation sound. Either way, definitely worth a listen; I like how her voice has become more tempered, still a distinctive spooky instrument but more finely tuned, less showy.
MP3: Paula Frazer - Always On My Mind (from 2005's Leave the Sad Things Behind)
Indie folk with a post-rock/romantique feel, recorded at Kevin Hume's own Shabby Road studio in New Mexico; his influences include Jacques Brel, Scott Walker and John Renbourn.
Stream: Three songs at MySpace
Novi Split - Pink In the Sink (Hush) (buy it)
Monday, March 12, 2007
Pink In the Sink picks up where Out of the Mist ends. Out of the Mist was a movie i was trying to make showing the duality between my life and the Frogs' It's Only Right and Natural album. Now, the movie stinks and i shouldn't have worked on it as hard as i did, but i can't start a project without finishing another.
Anyways, it was the period in my life where the small-town boy moves into the city to find himself. But what he really finds out is that he's just gotten robbed, kicked out of his house, and stranded in a Best Western on the California/Oregon border due to a freak blizzard watching infomercials, dead broke.
So the album officially starts back at my mom's house. I write all my songs on the toilet of one bathroom. When I write I usually turn off the lights and spark up one of those old wall space heaters with the burning coils and stare into it while I mumble words and strum. And those chords and mumbles which I then sing into my phone become the starting points to all my songs.
Looking back on it now, the first year of trying to write this record was a mess. I was broke, freaked out by a batch of bad Salvia, getting dressed up in rayon shirt to go chase tail at the local 80's club. But I remember coming home every night and listening to Rod McKuen's The Single Man on a loop, which sort of steered the direction of the album into the genre of soft rock. The Single Man spoke to me on multiple levels and told me what I needed was a gentle touch, a softly spoken voice, and poorly played viola. And so after that terrible summer I bought a viola, a few new drum-breakbeat LPs, moved into a house of strangers and started the whole miserable process of making a record by myself.
The subject matter of the record was to deal with multiple forms of humiliation. Should've taken me a week and a half, tops. But three and a half years later here we are. The problem is that every time I was inspired by different music, I would want to be that band. So over three years I added to and gutted out all the songs on the record, and there are countless hours of audio to prove it. These artists are responsible for turning the record into an ongoing project that kept me up for nights at a time. Like I said before, one of my greatest influences is The Single Man by Rod McKuen, but i would also like to say that the songs "If You Go Away" and "Jean" are really amazing as well. You've heard his songs your whole life. Johnny Cash, Dusty Springfield, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, Neil Diamond, and Scott Walker all cover McKuen. Rod McKuen owns a copy of Pink in the Sink. I kid you not.
I like everything Bill Fay does. He has a way of making you love overproduced, underdeveloped music in the worst way. He somehow can sing about his love of God, record after record, without making you feel like he's trying to convert you. "I Hear You Calling" and "Tell It Like It Is" make you feel like drinking wine coolers at temple. Any unnecessary explosive endings to any song on the record have Bill Fay to blame.
On the other side of the fence I'd like to say I really like that first Knife record, the 13 & God record and the second Kanye West record. All those records are bedroom-made when you get down to it. Preproduction must count for at least 80% of those records, and that gets me excited about never having the opportunity or want to step into a "real" recording studio.
One last thing. I have to say that Tanita Tikaram is also very beautiful to me. The first time I heard one of her songs was on a bus going to the airport. It was playing over the speaker system on the bus and I had to record it with a hand held voice recorder after I thought I was hearing an unreleased Will Oldham song. After losing a bet I found out that Ms. Tanita sounds just like a young Will Oldham. They should duet together. The song was called "World Outside Your Window", and tell me she doesn't sound like Will Oldham during the chorus. I guess you'd have to hear it on a bus.
Pink in the Sink is out tomorrow on Hush.
Novi Split at Hush
Novi Split page (with more downloads)
Cloak and Dagger Feature (with downloads of Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Material Issue and Robyn Hitchcock covers)
Sunday, March 11, 2007
MP3: Richard Swift - Paisley Park (Prince cover)
The New York Times reports on the passing of folksinger Mark Spoelstra, who moved from Kansas City to New York in the 1960s and performed with Dylan, and later showed up in Chronicles Vol. 1 and No Direction Home. Collector's Choice records recently reissued his first two albums, Five and Twenty Questions and State of Mind, both of which touch on the Vietnam war. There's not much in the way of sounds online for Mark, but the samples at the Amazon links above show a classic 60s folk sound and nicely rough-hewn voice.
The Guardian reports that Pope Benedict XVI once tried to stop Dylan from performing at the Vatican.
Uberdrivel has a review and pictures of the NYU Mirah/The Blow/Liz Isenberg show; included are lots of downloads from Mirah and The Blow sessions at KSDT.
Bright Eyes was guest DJ on NPR's All Songs Considered, which you can download as a podcast. Selections include Neil Young and Jackson Browne.
Across the Rooftops review and provides the setlist for the final Sodastream show.
Pitchfork has the details and track lists for two upcoming releases: Joanna Newsom's EP And the Ys Street Band and Iron & Wine's full-length The Shepherd's Dog.
Stereogum spots a familiar indie folk voice in the trailer for The Hills Have Eyes 2.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Thursday, March 08, 2007
The crowd was thick with Beach House and Grizzly Bear loyalists; Papercuts, in the middle, had their work cut out for them. Fortunately they've got some of the best pop songs of the year, and their showmates, whatever their virtues, didn't have many hooks between them.
Lead Papercut Jason Quever's pop is somewhere between dream- and power-, alternately ethereral, upbeat and desperate. Backed by Hammond organ, bass and drums, he played the songs' melodies on acoustic and electric guitar with a relish that was fun to watch. The incredible "Dear Employee" (which you can hear on their MySpace), unlike the recorded verison, started with Quever solo ("Treat me just like a dog/I don't mind at all/I feel bad but babe come on/you're a big girl now"), then slowly built into all its chiming, morose majesty, The Zombies cut with irony and extra regret.
The set included most of Don't Go Back, including lead web track "John Brown", and seemed to make the Grizzly crowd happy. Here's hoping they come around again soon. Their final show is tonight in Baltimore at the G-Spot, with Beach House.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Lots of new releases this week, but not too much to get me going. There's a new Bright Eyes EP, Four Winds (buy it), that has five exclusive tracks to go along with the Cassadaga lead single of the title. In what will undoubtedly be remembered as the awkward adolescence of a career that was launched on the finest adolescent angst in a generation, Conor Oberst is trying to be mature and seems to be trying too hard. It's still pretty good in spite of it, though.
MP3: Bright Eyes - Four Winds
Phil Elverum has returned under the old trusty Microphones moniker to issue this 7", Don't Smoke/Get Off the Internet (buy it) via his own P.W. Elverum & Sun label. Supposedly this is a punkish departure from the Koz-on-acid acoustics of Mt. Eerie.
MP3: Mt. Eerie - Universe
Friday, March 02, 2007
MP3: Chad VanGaalen - The Gun
VanGaalen is also appearing at the Flemish Eye/White Whale SXSW showcase with the Cape May, Castle Project and The Mohawk Lodge.
Skelliconnection didn't quite match the greatness of Infiniheart for me, but I'm willing to bet there's some worthy tracks in the bonus album to even it out a bit.
May 16th - Alexandria, VA, The Birchmere
May 18th - Doylestown, PA, Puck (2 shows)
May 19th - Newark, DE, East End Cafe
May 20th - Piermont, NY, Turning Point Cafe (2 shows)
May 22nd & 23rd - Boston, MA, Club Passim
MP3: Dan Bern - Trudy
Lou Barlow and Jason Lowenstein talk to Seattle Weekly about their reunion and the lo-fi movement vs. the sound quality of MySpace:
"You would have to really intentionally make something go terribly wrong on a cassette multitrack recording to make it sound as bad as the warbly, compressed, pinched, thin-sounding underwater crap sound of a sound file played through the MySpace file compression engine. MySpace is a needle-in-a-haystack kind of way to find new music, and then even if you do find something, it really sounds like fried shit."Pitchfork also has some pictures of their first reunion show in San Diego.
Linda Draper plays tonight at the Sidewalk Cafe, the spiritual home of antifolk in NYC. She's got a new record, Keepsake, that we'll talk up soon. In the meantime head over to her MySpace to listen.
Stereogum has a new Laura Veirs song, "To the Country".
iff fave Saturday Looks Good to Me sign to K Records and announce some West coast tour dates. Their next record Fill Up the Room will be out September 11th. The Metro Times Music Blahg has more details.
Just in case you didn't see it anywhere else, Absolutely Kosher has made available Chris Garneau's cover of Elliott Smith's "Between the Bars".
MP3: Chris Garneau - Between the Bars (Elliott Smith)
Thursday, March 01, 2007
The glue that holds every Baumbach film together is the carefully curated soundtrack, typically a mix of top-notch, semi-obscure singer-songwriter fare with a few songs outside that realm that capture the time and place. Kicking & Screaming features Nick Drake, Freedy Johnston, and an incredible, dusty, solo acoustic version of Jimmy Dale Gilmore's "Braver Newer World" playing on the townie bar jukebox (and nowhere else; the album version's produced bombast has startled more than a few K&S fans who have sought out the full song on the album of the same name).
Artists often appear multiple times in one movie, but seemingly never in more than one (except for Dean Wareham; he's been involved in everything post-K&S, and even appears in Baumbach-disowned Highball). Mr. Jealousy featured Leonard Cohen and Harry Chapin. And his breakthough The Squid and the Whale was precient in its appreciation of Bert Jansch and John Phillips; just months later, Jansch would enjoy a resurgence of interest and issue a new album on Drag City, and John Phillips' John the Wolfking of LA would get the deluxe reissue treatment. Squid also used Loudon Wainwright III's "The Swimming Song", long a favorite of my from his essential live album Career Moves (Baumbach introduced me to the studio version).
Which brings us to his next film, Margot at the Wedding, completed but sitting in movie-calendar limbo until festival and Oscar seasons. It stars Nicole Kidman, Jack Black, and his wife, Jennifer Jason-Leigh. News of the story is slim (two sisters, life lessons) and the only hint of the soundtrack comes from, of all places, Robert Fripp's blog, where he reveals a request for a King Crimson track. Presuming the music isn't all prog...what will pop up on the soundtrack? I'm taking some stabs...
Jackson C. Frank
Who? 60s folksinger who was recorded by Paul Simon, covered by Nick Drake, and then led an almost unbelievably unlucky life of depression, homelessness, and a random drive-by shooting that blinded him in one eye.
Used in other indie film? "Milk and Honey" showed up in one of The Brown Bunny's many riveting, too-brief driving scenes.
Stream: Several songs at MySpace
Who? Songwriter's songwriter from the early 70s with a Dylanesque voice, covered by Linda Ronstadt and Waylon Jennings. Last seen working at a bakery somewhere in Maryland.
Used in other indie film? None I can find. This track reminds me a bit of Gilmore.
Who? Great songs, one-in-a-billion voice, died too young. If you don't know him, you should. Recently introduced to indie kids by Okkervil River, but you really want to hear the original.
Used in other indie films: Nope. Why not?
Watch: Tim play "If I Was a Carpenter" at Woodstock
Stream: Several songs at MySpace