Thursday, May 31, 2007
If nothing else, the Shrek media empire brings the tunes of the Eels to the greater public. My Old Kentucky Blog has a download of Mark Everett's latest, "Royal Pain", a typically jaunty bit of chin-up sad-sackery ("I'm just trying to get by with my pride a little bit intact").
It's Hard to Find a Friend features M. Ward covers.
Check out iff favorite Jana Hunter's Portuguese radio sessions, via Gorilla Vs. Bear.
Cafe Eclectica has pictures, setlist and review of the Bright Eyes NYC show featuring a surprise Lou Reed cameo.
Mix Me a Molotov has got your Dan Bern tour coverage down.
I came across Pete Green while scanning some upcoming Kimya Dawson tour dates; she'll be playing with Pete in Leeds June 26th. This track's got a sweet, fragile sound that reminds me of Robyn Hitchcock in his less loopy moments.
MP3: Pete Green - Everything's Dead Pretty When It Snows
Friday, May 25, 2007
Details like this virtually assured I would like the album, but my expectations were exceeded. Pockey Shelley is the singer-songwriter vehichle for Bay Area musician Michael Mullen, of the bands Glasstown, Roman Evening and the Size Queens. Putting vocals, piano and acoustic guitar front and center, Mullen has put together a stunning album of romantic but grounded songs, generous, open-hearted stories of everyday longing, regret and joy that fans of American Music Club and Mark Eitzel shouldn't miss.
As with Eitzel's songbook, details of California abound, particularly in the track I've posted here, "Half Moon Bay", which begins tentatively and tenderly, "Happy birthday, baby/I'll take you out to dinner/let's go to Firefly/that's up in Noe Valley" and tumbles through a series of wishes and memories that teases the listener, never really letting on as to what's real andwhat's imagined, making it all the more relatable. Mullen's ability to fuse the grand and everyday is crucial to making these songs work, as in another romantic track, "Mirror Lake", where he sings of love "in city and in country/and by the oceanside/and sometimes in your twin-size bed".
Musically, these songs move between spare, room-noise piano/vocal arrangements and squalling sadcore psychadelia, as when Cappelle's flugelhorn wails in a long coda to "New Year's Day", and in the swelling build of "Acid Orange", a nearly nine-minute celebration of natural and chemical highs that reminds me of longer tracks on Red House Painters' eponymous Rollercoaster album like "Strawberry Hill" in sheer transporting power.
In addition to ten originals, the album features a fine cover of Dylan's "Farewell Angelina" and Tony Kushner's "Duets: 'Night Mamma", from the musical Caroline, or Change.
You can buy the album at CD Baby and listen to more tracks at Pocket Shelley's MySpace.
MP3: Pocket Shelley - Half Moon Bay
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
MP3: Dan Bern - The Fifth Beatle
It's Hard to Find a Friend (a very good blog and, in my opinion, the best Pedro the Lion album) has a selection of Dave Bazan's covers, including a classic take on Radiohead's "Let Down".
The New York Times covers Daniel Johnston's recent show: "Without a guitar, Mr. Johnson’s hands trembled constantly, yet he sang with plaintive conviction. Though he looked vulnerable, he could rely on his songs."
The 46th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival has announced its initial lineup; the names so far include Doc Watson, Mavis Staples and Elvis Perkins, thought I suspect you'll see some other biggies added. Recent years have had headliners such as Jackson Browne, Richard Thompson, Rogen McGuinn and Joan Baez. The orgy of 60s revivalism/family-friendly snooze-folk, punctuated by some great performers, is in August.
Espers' Meg Baird has her first solo album, Dear Companion (buy it), out on Drag City, and the brilliant, soothing track from the album that's streaming at her MySpace, "The Waltze of the Tennis Players", recalls nothing if not Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and I'm not just saying that because of LWIII on my mind. Seriously, listen to the track and tell me I'm wrong.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
I've been missing some shows lately I shouldn't. Daniel Johnston played Baltimore the other night. Brooklyn Vegan reports on a couple of Johnston shows, and a free Roky Erickson/Alejandro Escovedo show, in NYC.
Cognitive dissonance: the Merge blog has pics and setlist from a show on the unstoppable M. Ward/Norah Jones express.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Monday, May 07, 2007
MP3: Elliott Smith - High Times
On a lighter note: The Basement is positively rollicking with 60s country-rock charm and with the added bonus of an appealingly breathless lead singer, could be worth spinning this summer. Illicit Hugs and Playground Thugs (buy it) came out in the UK last year and sees stateside release via Zealous Records.
MP3: The Basement - Do You Think You're Movin' On?
Also out, and previously mentioned on iff: Shannon Wright's Let in the Light (buy it) and The Voyces' Kissing Like It's Love (buy it).
The Ladybug Transistor is an always reliable source of retro-inflected pop goodness. They have a new album out June 5th on Merge, Can't Wait Another Day and a tour going on now; check out lead track "Three Days from Now".