...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Radiohead live on the BBC

Sometimes in life you arrive at the train station to find that the express that you had counted on waiting until you got there had actually gotten weary of waiting for you, and gone ahead to pull out to the next station. And really, who can blame it?

I thought that maybe since this fantastic Radiohead show happened almost two months ago, the mp3s would be gone off most of my favorite online haunts by now -- but luckily I wasn't too late. For a variety of debatable reasons, I am just arriving to listen to it now.

All I Need
The Tourist
House of Cards
Weird Fishes
Everything In Its Right Place
(encore Faust Arp not broadcast)


(please someone let me know if the zip is incomplete. I'm obv having uploading difficulties with the dodgy net access I have on the road)

[192 stereo kbps mp3s, originally found on Sixeyes]

D.C. travel update: After eating dinner last night with some friends at Polly's (which I hear also fed dinner to the Raconteurs on Tuesday night), I found myself alone in this jazz club on U Street (the historic jazz district of DC). Under the heady velvet curtain of that music, it seemed like an appropriate place and time to drink alone, and I taxied home feeling sedated.


First drafts of the parables of Jesus

From Dave Eggers' journal McSweeney's:

Jesus said, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

One of the disciples asked, "What of the man who builds his house inside the house built on the rock? Surely his house will be even less damaged by water and wind. Is this what we should do?"

And Jesus said, "No, don't do that."

I just laughed myself silly.

PS: Look at the CD you can order! I made one myself when I first read this book, but heck -- this is a lot less work.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ryan Adams at SXSW in 2001

In early 2001, Ryan Adams was riding high on the critical acclaim of his debut solo album Heartbreaker (Sept 2000), while simultaneously letting off some punk steam through the recording of the excellent Pink Hearts sessions (starting in December of that year).

The set that he played at South by Southwest that year was heavy on Pink Hearts selections, some of my favorite unreleased songs by him. In my book, the 1-2-3 punch in this set of "Candy Doll," "Gimme A Sign" and "Mega-Superior Gold" would be one that I'd pay good cash to see again. I love those songs.

March 16, 2001
Candy Doll
Gimme A Sign
Enemy Fire
I Don't Wanna Work
Starting To Hurt
Mega-Superior Gold
Red Red Red Red Wine
Testy, Testy


[stream it here, thanks to the original taper]

Travel notes from D.C.: Saw Raconteurs last night at the 930 Club; more on that super-loud awesomeness later. And hey, you know what's really nice? Waking up East-Coast early in a hotel room and crawling a few inches from the bed over into one of these things. Yeah. That's what I'm talkin about.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 26, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

The rigors of travel, they slay me -- and tonight I find myself far from home. Doin' alright except for a slicing cut on my toe which makes everything involving walking and shoes difficult. Seems like I should have worn "real shoes," instead of pedi-vulnerable flipflops on my way to the capital. Thanks to everyone for the Washington DC recommendations, I look forward to trying out as many as I can squeeze into the midst of conferencing. More on my travel adventures later.

When I can connect to the hotel wireless, here are a few new songs I've enjoyed downloading that you might like too:

Big Star
Haley Bonar

I first heard Haley Bonar a few years ago on her blue and lonesome "have-a-whiskey-alone-(or ten)" song Drinking Again, where her honeyed voice sings a tale of drinking to forget someone who's just left town so she doesn't have to sit around and talk to walls again. Haley is back with a new album on Afternoon Records (June 12), and this first taste of the title track sounds like she's possibly even less happy than we last left her. This song laments a relationship of changed expectations and unfulfilled needs: "I can't make you happy, I can't make you money, I can only fold your laundry," she sings. But in a fortunate move towards redemption, the gorgeous chorus is about big stars and big wishes she's making. This song is highly recommended.

My Only Offer
Mates of State

Sometimes I mistakenly caricaturize the husband-wife duo Mates of State into overly-simplistic terms. It's easy to think of them as simply harmonies, a nauseatingly happy partnership, and really great hair. When I saw them perform back at my college they were truly charming and their songs infectiously simple, all effervescent springtime and "bah-bah-bah"s. But their new album Re-Arrange Us (out last week on Barsuk) shows a bit more mood and weight as it explores issues of family, long-term relationships, parenting, etc. The heft of the subject matter blends with some of the darker threads of their shimmering indie-pop music, and makes for a very pleasing effort.

This Is How I Know
Ron Sexsmith

Canadian musician Ron Sexsmith crafts songs with impeccable melodies, the kind that stick in your head for hours and days. Ever since I heard that collaboration he did with Paul McCartney, I hear so many similarities in their voices and their style. This is one that will stay with your mental jukebox for a while, at least until the full album comes out to tempt us with other pleasures (like his version of "Brandy Alexander," a song he co-wrote with Feist). Exit Strategy For The Soul is out July 8th, and will be his debut album for Yep Roc.

Josephine Street
I Love Math
Spare and immediately winning, Dallas foursome I Love Math makes songs in the classic vein of Kinks or Zombies, along with more current contemporaries like Jon Brion. They also cite Maker's Mark in their MySpace influences, which is not a bad selection. This song is a lazy summery tune with gentle handclaps and a foreign language chattering in the background like an old transistor radio. Getting To The Point Is Beside It is out tomorrow on Glurp Records, and the band is on tour next month opening for the Old 97s.

Bonus mp3: their Guided By Voices cover
A Good Flying Bird (GBV cover) - I Love Math

J. Smith
While we weren't watching, Travis has been working on finishing a new album, their follow-up to last year's The Boy With No Name. This song is a borderline-operatic tale of a reclusive, bitter man around whom they seem to have written a whole album. Ode To J. Smith is due out sometime later in 2008, and this first song from it was recently debuted on KCRW earlier in the month. Travis fans have compared this song to Queen, and without all the Freddie Mercury there definitely is a hint of the dramatic that wouldn't seem out of place in a rhapsody all its own. Although it's got the angular Britpop electric guitars at the start and end, those celestial choruses certainly lift this song up into bigger proportions than anything I've heard them do in the past. [thanks Kevin!]

Labels: , , ,

Ok, so what's the plan b?

Slow Motion (live 3/13/06) - David Gray

[full show here; highly recommended]


Friday, May 23, 2008

The most dedicated, least rational fans

There's a great read over on the Guardian website by Chuck Klosterman about fans who look like their idols, accompanied by a gallery of portraits where you try to guess the band by looking at the fans (and who do you guess is represented above?). I got most of them right and found the guessing process to be delightful.

Klosterman ranks the following ten groups as having the most dedicated, least rational fans. Discuss:

1. Slayer
2. Tori Amos
3. Sublime
4. Kiss
5. Bruce Springsteen
6. Black Sabbath (particularly the Tony Martin era, for some reason)
7. Jimmy Buffett
8. Iron Maiden
9. Guided By Voices
10. Morrissey

Read his rationale and the whole entertaining article here. Images are taken from the forthcoming book Disciples by James Mollison. If you're going to be in NYC, these prints will be exhibited at New York's Hasted Hunt Gallery June 12 through August 16.


You guide me: I'm heading to our nation's capital

Last time I was in Washington D.C. I was in the eighth grade and we were learning about government and politics and history. I remember running squealing up and down hotel hallways between our room and that of the cute (really short) guys in 604. I remember torrential summer rainstorms and getting lost at the Smithsonian.

I'm heading back to D.C. next week for a conference for my new job and would love some recommendations for any fun music-related stuff to do in my downtime from natives (since I've already done all the things listed in the first paragraph). I'm not lying, there is actually a workshop as part of the conference called "The History and Evolution of Black Music in Washington D.C." which has really nothing directly to do with international education but hey, I will gladly take it. So that covers Wednesday from 3:45-5pm. After that -- what else should I entertain myself with?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New from The Blakes: "Basket"

As we've mentioned before, The Blakes hail from Seattle and have this cool amped up retro-punk vibe going on, recommended for fans of groups like the Redwalls, or perhaps the Strokes. This catchy new song is one of six from the live iTunes EP that was recorded when the band was in San Francisco recently. It's got a bright surf vibe with a driving beat, and laments that fact that she left him in a basket and that it's not so hard to do. So maybe they are also an exceptionally tiny & portable band.

Basket - The Blakes

BUY: the new 6-song Live EP on iTunes


"Moshi moshi, Dunder Mifflin Corp?"

I'm not gonna lie, I cackled at this. Now we know how to (probably) say "That's what she said" in Japanese:

An SNL Digital Short


New Leona Naess :: "Heavy Like Sunday"

I love the aching and honest timbre to Leona Naess' luminous voice, combined with her fearless lyrics and incisive wit. We've been waiting, oh, forever for her new album Thirteens to come out. News on the street is that it is still forthcoming through the label Polydor, but no exact date.

While we anticipate the full LP (and kick around possible track inclusions), Leona is releasing a single called "Heavy Like Sunday" through the performance night-cum-record label Blue Flowers on June 2. This release is a limited edition of 500 on 7" vinyl, and each one comes with an individual polaroid taken by Leona. She's also made a charmingly lo-fi video of herself singing her heart out while sitting on her piano, her balcony, and then all over London (back of a bus, flower market, overlooking the ferris wheel). Sounds good to me.


Londoners -- there is a gig on June 5th to celebrate the release of the single. That'll be at Soho Revue Bar, 11 Walkers Court, Brewer Street, W1F 0ED.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hüsker Dü thrashes San Francisco's Mabuhay Gardens in 1981

In 1981, on a warm summer night when I was probably laying in my crib thinking about how I wanted to celebrate my 2nd birthday in a few weeks, Hüsker Dü was just up the peninsula rocking the veritable old music venue in San Francisco's North Beach at Mabuhay Gardens.

Nicknamed "Fab Mab," the club hosted a number of important punk and new wave acts from 1976-1986, including the Dead Kennedys, The Avengers, Devo, Iggy Pop, Redd Kross, The Minutemen, Black Flag, The Ramones and Roky Erickson. This is a very early Hüsker Dü show, when they were still relatively unknown. You can hear club promoter & booker Dirk Dirksen announcing the set: "Jello Biafra, while touring in the Northwest, ran across these people and asked me to book 'em, so here they are, an addition to the program. Here's . . . [sounds unsure of the pronunciation] Hüsker Dü."

And as the guy who made this available said, this is "one of the most intense live shows by ANY band you'll ever find. I have no doubt in my mind that everyone who was there this night knew they were witnessing something very special. Any self-respecting punk fan needs to hear this one . . . Best played LOUD!" I agree.

July 24th or 25th, 1981
Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco
All Tensed Up

Don't Try To Call
I'm Not Interested
Sore Eyes
Private Hell
Travel In The Opposite Car
Don't Have A Life
Tired Of Doing Things Your Way
Sexual Economics
Do You Remember?
Let's Go Die
Data Control


Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The National :: "Without Permission" (from The Virginia EP, out today)

The new Vincent Moon-directed film that follows the making of The National's 2007 album Boxer is out today. A Skin, A Night offers the gorgeous treatment that this music deserves, making it feel even more special, all wrapped up in moonlight and grainy black and white. The film is being screened at select U.S. locations (and hmmm, should we do a Denver one?) and if you buy it, the DVD comes paired with an excellent collection of 12 rare/demo/unreleased tracks called The Virginia EP.

In addition to collaborations with like a song with Sufjan Stevens recorded at Benny's Wash 'N Dry in Brooklyn, some great UK b-sides including one called Santa Clara (which I like to pretend is about my alma mater), and that sublime Springsteen cover I posted in April, there are several home-recording demos and live tracks.

This cover is one of my immediate favorites on the EP -- a mournful, quietly sad song written originally by a Bristol-born singer-songwriter named Caroline Martin. It starts with a fill of organ pipes like you just stopped into that little cathedral, and now are not quite sure what for. Maybe to say a prayer for someone, light a candle. Maybe just to sit in the silence.

Quickly the song blossoms within its traditional structure that caused me to wonder at first if this was a reinvention of an old doo-wop tune from a girl group. But there within the simplicity, The National wrenches out new layers of genuine loss and missing someone so much that all you can construct are lines that are three or four words long.

Without Permission (Caroline Martin cover) - The National

well I just don't know
how you could go
without permission

'Cause well,
if you're not there
well i just don't care
for this omission

Every moment brings me down
when you're not around
but all i'm asking for
is come back for just one day

where did you go?
and do you now know
how to be happy?

'Cause here
well it's pretty clear
when you're not near me
i am unhappy

Every moment brings me down
when you're not around
but all i'm asking for
is come back for just one day

I'll make it worth the while
just to see your smile
that's all i'm asking for

I've come to know
you had to go
without permission

'Cause it was how
how i wore you down
and how i dragged you 'round
my sore ambition

Every moment brings me down
when you're not around
but all i'm asking for
is come back for just one day

I'll make it worth the while
just to see your smile
that's all i'm asking for

my dear

Originally featured on Caroline Martin's debut album I Had A Hundred More Reasons To Stay By The Fire (2005, Small Dog Records)

Order the A Skin, A Night DVD / Virginia EP here


[other Vincent Moon/National work]

Labels: , , ,

Indiana wants me

I was up late last night after watching the Rockies sadly best the Giants at Coors Field in Denver (that bottom of the sixth was a bitch). So if I weren't already working on a growing sleep deficit from this weekend, I'd be seriously considering going to the theaters at midnight tomorrow to see the new Indiana Jones (actually, I still might). I've been awaiting this new installment -- I adore everything about those movies, and have even forgiven the Temple of Doom for scaring the bejesus out of me at a sleepover when I was 9 or 10. Ripping a guy's beating heart out of his chest cavity may frighten children. Good to know.

Ever since the previews for the new Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull started airing, I've pretty much been walking around humming this when I need to feel especially victorious. If I had a personal theme song, this would kind of be in the running because then I'd feel awesome all the time.

CONTEST: The soundtrack for the movie is released today, featuring an original score composed by Academy Award winner John Williams. Fuel/Friends has one copy to give away if movie soundtracks are your thing, or if you just have a crush on Harrison Ford. Leave me a comment about some element of one of the Indiana Jones movies that you wanna write a comment about -- a quote, a moment, the time when that dude literally melts and turns into dust because of God's wrath, etc. etc. You choose.

And since I have no mp3 from the soundtrack, this song works very very well. A girl can dream.

Indiana Wants Me - R. Dean Taylor

PS - I so just added him as a friend on MySpace

Labels: ,

Monday, May 19, 2008

New Monolith acts announced and a new contest :: Win a weekend pass to the festival!

News this fine Monday morning from the craggy hills of Red Rocks -- the 2008 Monolith Festival just added twenty-two hot new acts to an already airtight lineup.

New Monolith additions include:
Atmosphere, Hercules and Love Affair, Foals, Does it Offend You, Yeah? Port O’Brien, Pomegranates, Colour Revolt, KaiserCartel, Candy Coated Killahz, Jukebox the Ghost, American Bang, The Chain Gang of 1974, Joshua Novak, Erin Ivey, The Wheel, Paperbird, Noah Harris, Lynsey Smith, Scratch Track, David Moore, LoveLikeFire, and Dave Beegle

Add these to the complete listing that will now be rockin the 'Rado on September 13th and 14th.

Now each of us Hot Freaks partner blogs is getting a chance to give away some passes to the festival, in addition to our work in helping curate the lineup! So I've got a new contest that starts today and runs for ONE WEEK (til May 26).

Two lucky Fuel/Friends readers will each win a weekend pass for the Monolith 2008 Festival (a $110 value)! To enter, you must do a little clickety-click research and find out what the original purchase price of the Red Rocks land cost the city of Denver back in 1927.

EMAIL ME your answer with a subject line of "Hey Heather, I Wanna Buy You A Beer At Monolith" (or something to that effect, that'd be grand). Don't leave it in the comments, please, or you'll wreck the whole illustrious trivia vision.

I'll pick two readers randomly from all the correct answers received. For those that won't get the passes (but you're all winners in my book), tickets are onsale now.

One band added to the lineup today is Sub Pop-signed Oxford art school dropouts the Foals, who we've mentioned before because they get us movin. One of the Monolith organizers DJ Hot To Death (I call him Fecher) worked up a special remix of the Foals song "Electric Bloom" in honor of the occasion today. The world premiere:

Electric Bloom (Hot To Death remix) - The Foals

Labels: , , ,

The Hold Steady almost killed me

The Hold Steady have their newest album all wrapped up. Stay Positive is due out on July 15th on Vagrant, and the first single "Sequestered in Memphis" is out this Tuesday on iTunes. To help ease the sting of waiting for their follow-up to the absolutely brilliant Boys and Girls In America (2006), I've gone down a few rabbit trails and come up with the following live versions of new Hold Steady songs for you to wrap your ears around:

Stay Positive
(live at Emo's 2008)

Constructive Summer
(live at Emo's 2008)
Lord I'm Discouraged
(live at Toad's Place, 2007)
(live at the Metro, 2007)
Joke About Jamaica
(live at the Metro, 2007)


Also for your reading pleasure, UNCUT Magazine blog posted a very positive early review of the overall feel (with some strong lyrical excerpts), while The Music Magazine UK also published a track-by-track review.

I'm excited as all get out about the summer tour which was announced Thursday. Presales are on this weekend, with several ending Monday night. The Hold Steady still put on one of the most ebullient live shows I've seen. Go buy your tickets now.

07.17 - Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom
07.18 - Pontiac, MI - Crofoot Ballroom
07.19 - Chicago, IL - Pitchfork Festival
07.21 - Madison, WI - Majestic Theatre
07.22 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
07.23 - Fargo, ND - Fargo Theatre
07.26 - Seattle, WA - Capitol Hill Block Party
07.27 - Portland, OR - Crystal Ballroom
07.29 - San Francisco, CA - Mezzanine
07.30 - Los Angeles, CA - Avalon
08.02 - Tucson, AZ - Rialto Theatre
08.03 - El Paso, TX - Club 101
08.05 - Dallas, TX - Palladium Ballroom
08.06 - Austin, TX - La Zona Rosa
08.08 - Oxford, MS - Proud Larry’s
08.09 - Athens, GA - 40 Watt
08.10 - Charleston, SC - The Pourhouse
08.12 - Carrborro, NC - Cat’s Cradle
08.13 - Norfolk, VA - The Norva

[t-shirts here]


Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Alkaline, clementine, valentine, columbine . . . (the flower not the high school massacre)"

I missed this first time around a few months ago but thanks to Ashley for pointing it out again.

So what does make the perfect song? Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein have some ideas on the matter. And in my opinion, the real triumph here is that they filmed this whole bit without laughing:

(originally posted on ThunderAnt.com)

Nice Corin Tucker cameo at the end.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, May 16, 2008

Superdrag is both filthy and afraid

Back in the studio since February, Knoxville's Superdrag has loosened another new song upon the music world, this time over on the Gibson guitars site. Although a release date for the new album has not yet been set, Superdrag is playing a few West Coast dates in the coming weeks, then Bonnaroo this summer and, of course, Monolith.

According to frontman John Davis, the new material keeps it tight with the sound Superdrag fans love, described as "an amalgam of Dinosaur Jr.-inspired guitar noise, Hüsker Dü-style energy, and melodies that aspire toward the pop sophistication of the Beatles." Davis also talks about how good it is to get to experiment again with the interlocking guitar parts that they pride themselves on, and to be making new music together -- "to step right back into that, after all this time.”

As for me, the addictive melody here is stuck firmly in my cortex (or wherever really good songs loop on repeat and make you hum them for the last 24 hours). The rough edged Teenage-Fanclubesque vocals on this cut make me feel happy, and not at all filthy, nor afraid.

Filthy & Afraid - Superdrag

Read the full article here, and then if you're feeling inspired, you can also go back and check out the Fuel/Friends interview with John Davis (Oct 2007).

Catch Superdrag on Saturday afternoon at Monolith, come September.

[thanks Lauren!]

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump

The cool little Strut Records imprint will be releasing the new Grandmaster Flash album later this year, and in addition to a fine roster that already boasts things like Disco Italia: Essential Italo Disco Classics (so all over that!) and Funky Nassau, they have a new collection that I am absolutely loving.

Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump is a compilation of "original heavyweight afrobeat highlife and afro-funk" music that I'm finding to be just the cure for ears tired of the same old same old. Quick wiki-history lesson: Following the freedom of independence from the UK in 1960, and the bloody wars and ethnic clashes that the late '60s brought to Nigeria, the '70s were a time of relative oil-fueled prosperity, and a time where musical expression and experimentation could grow.

During this decade Nigerian musicians melded the outside influences of European and American big band, jazz, and rock that they heard crackling over their radios with their own traditional beats, instrumentation, language, and spirit. On this compilation, leading Afro archivist Duncan Brooker worked with Strut Records founder Quinton Scott to introduce a wider audience to the eclectic, funky, bold sounds of this era.

The previous 3-CD collection of Nigerian music that Strut Records put out in 2001 (Nigeria 70) is now out of print, and sells for close to $100. So, yeah. You might think about gettin' while the gettin's good. The opening track:

Yabis - Sir Shina Peters & His International Stars

PREORDER -- Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump is out on May 27.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

SOMETHING about you makes me want IHOP today

Yeah, you're gonna need to click refresh quite a few times.



Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New Ryan Adams :: "A Song In The News"

A song in the news indeed -- a music magazine to be exact. Take a listen to a snippet of the new Ryan Adams song that he contributed to the Esopus Magazine Spring 2008 sampler CD. My first thought was "wow he is trying to stick a lot of words in here," followed by an immediate, "meh." After that came some vague frustration directed towards a possible lack of trying. But I could just be having a bad day. Your thoughts?

STREAM: A Song In The News - Ryan Adams


Album/label/tour news from The Faint

In yesterday's post I mentioned Saddle Creek as being the home of danse-macabre band The Faint, and as I typed that sentence, I wondered what was going on with their punk new-wave selves.

Turns out that the news today is that they've actually left Saddle Creek to form their own label called blank.wav, and that they'll have a new record coming out August 5th called Fasciinatiion (with that many "i"s). If you wonder to yourself why this is anticipated news 'round these parts, please check a few of my favorite tunes that The Faint have had their hands into these past few years:

Posed to Death - The Faint (love it!)
Worked Up So Sexual (Chris Walla/Death Cab mix) - The Faint
Y Control (The Faint remix) - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

It's also been said that The Faint puts on one of the best live shows humanly possible, so I am uber-looking forward to seeing them this summer:

July 27 Des Moines, IA - Peoples Court
July 28 Sioux Falls, SD - Ramkota Annex
July 29 Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre
July 30 Salt Lake City, UT - In the Venue
July 31 Boise, ID - Big Easy Boise
Aug 01 Vancouver, British Columbia - Commodore
Aug 02 Seattle, WA - Showbox at the Market
Aug 03 Portland, OR - Crystal Ballroom
Aug 04 San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore
Aug 05 San Francisco, CA - Grand Ballroom
Aug 07 Los Angeles, CA - Henry Fonda Theatre
Aug 08 Los Angeles, CA - Henry Fonda Theatre
Aug 09 San Diego, CA - Soma
Aug 11 Austin, TX - La Zona Rosa
Aug 12 Dallas, TX - Palladium
Aug 14 Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse
Aug 15 Carrboro, NC - Cats Cradle
Aug 16 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
Aug 17 Philadelphia, PA - Trocadero
Aug 18 New York, NY - Terminal 5
Aug 20 Worcester, MA - Palladium
Aug 21 Toronto, Ontario - Opera House
Aug 22 Chicago, IL - Vic Theatre
Aug 23 Omaha, NE - Sokol Auditorium

[photo credit Chris Knight]


Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

For Mother's Day I got this handmade wooden box from my little four year old. It held various treasures, including a coupon, some chocolate covered espresso beans (good choice), and an ant. The ant apparently escaped. It seemed like a good idea to him at the time to include it in the gift. I feel very lucky. I hope you all tried to take care of your mamas as well yesterday.

When not busy being a kickass mom this week, I listened to this stuff (actually, sometimes simultaneously):

Tessellate (remix by Tom Campesinos)
Tokyo Police Club
The folks at Saddle Creek (home of Bright Eyes / The Faint / Cursive) sent this over on Friday just in time for Mother's Day. The first line here talks about "all the boys who call their mothers on that day," and sonically the remix is an electrifying combination that admittedly your mother may not like, with what sounds like crashing garbage can lids over cheerily chiming xylophones. It works for me. The original version of the song is featured on the Tokyo Police Club's debut full-length Elephant Shell, which was released last month after two previous critically-acclaimed EPs. The remix can be found on the new 7 inch or the limited edition of Elephant Shell.

Gratification To Concrete
Robert Pollard
As we all know, Robert Pollard can't stop, won't stop. After releasing no fewer than four solo albums on Merge in the last two years, former Guided By Voices frontman has amicably left that fold to form his own GBV record label. Robert Pollard Is Off To Business will be released on June 3, and this song about a lady who somehow gratifies concrete will be the first tune to hit the internetwaves. In an odd Stipe-ian dichotomy, this will work best if you don't try to understand Pollard's lyrics but just enjoy the crunchy riffs at play on this monster jam of a summer pop song.

Cheap Champagne

This new song from Canada's powerpop/rock foursome Sloan starts with a sunny vocal breakdown that's all retro-goodness, sounding like just four guys standing around on a street corner snapping in time. Each track that I've heard so far from their upcoming release Parallel Play (June 10, Yep Roc) wins me over in a unique way, and there lies some of the underrated genius of Sloan. They can fluidly slide between many different styles (most recently demonstrated on the 30-song tour de force of 2006's Never Hear The End Of It), and it all works.

Sirens In The Deep Sea
The cascade of swirling, sparkling guitars in this song from Brooklyn's Longwave sound like the moment you roll your car to a slow stop on a gravelly roadside overlooking the lights of the valley. This single was produced by Peter Katis (The National, Interpol) and boasts some gorgeous, epic-sounding production. After tour dates opening for The Strokes on their North American and European tours, Longwave is playing some shows with the re-formed Swervedriver in the coming months.

I'm Now

Recorded in just three and a half days, this 8th full-length album from Seattle's Mudhoney possesses a raw and immediate punch. Although folks like Nirvana propelled to larger successes from the Sub Pop label in the late 80s/early 90s, Mudhoney laid seminal groundwork with the indie label through releases like Superfuzz Bigmuff. They were also featured on one of the first 7"s in the Sub Pop Singles Club with "Touch Me I'm Sick" (split with Sonic Youth). Hard to believe, but Mudhoney has been at it for twenty years (!!) and the sounds of this new song would suggest that they've lost little of their spitfire. The Lucky Ones is due May 20 on Sub Pop.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mr. T says treat your mother right

And you do not disobey Mr. T, especially when he rocks the cutoffs like this:

Treat Your Mother Right - Mr. T

Thanks to Chad for unearthing this gem of awesomeness.

Labels: ,

Friday, May 09, 2008

I wish I was a tightrope walker with legs made out of gold

When I saw Bob Schneider last November in Denver there was one simple, naked song that felt like a heavy weight settling in on my chest as he performed it. Maybe it was just something in the air that night but I remember that it knocked me back on my heels; it's rumored that hot tears may have inexplicably pricked into my eyes about two thirds of the way through this, but no one has any proof of seeing that happen so it's hard to say, really.

I finally found an mp3 of that song a few months ago after much searching. There's a lyric in it about candyteeth, and so that line popped into my head last night while driving home from having my face melted (again) by Wilco, listening to my Summerteeth CD. This is how my brain works.

Anyways. Last night I turned off Tweedy and Co. and sang this quietly to myself instead. It's got signature Schneider phrasing, but reaches deep to be a song of longing, defeat, and maybe a glimmer of hope for some future contentment.

Blow Me Back To You (live) - Bob Schneider
(new version posted Saturday)

I wish I was a baby bear sleeping in the brown
winter grass in April, while the sun was going down
and I wish my shoes were empty
and I was still in bed
with you there beside me
with your dreams inside your head

Oh I wish the world would do what I want it to
and I wish the wind would blow me, blow me back to you

I wish your mom was ugly and your dad was ugly too
cuz then they couldn't of had a girl to be as beautiful as you
and I wish I was a tightrope walker
with legs made out of gold
I'd hold you in my golden legs
and never let you go

Oh I wish the world would do what I want it to
and I wish the wind would blow me, blow me back to you

Well I wish I could see Jesus shining in the sky
so that he could finally let me know
that everything would be just fine
I wish I knew that God's love
was all I'd ever need
I'd cut my candyteeth for fun
and let the good times bleed

Oh I wish the world would do what I want it to
oh I wish the world would do what I want it to
and I wish the world would blow me, blow me back to you

[img: American painter Everett Shinn, "Tightrope Walker" (1924)]

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Usually drink, usually dance, usually bubble :: Hot Chip cover "Wearing My Rolex"

Hot Chip appeared on BBC's Live Lounge today to perform a semi-acoustic version of their single "One Pure Thought," and also cover Trinidadian/East London rapper Wiley's "Wearing My Rolex." After seeing these guys nearly cause a riot at Coachella, they can get under my skin and make my hips start movin' even more easily.

MAY 7, 2008
One Pure Thought (BBC Live Lounge) - Hot Chip
Wearing My Rolex (Wiley cover, BBC Live Lounge) - Hot Chip

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

the earth is not a cold dead place

We'll leave after midnight on a warm night with no moon. I know a place above the city where we can lay back on a wool blanket and feel the rocks under our bones. We'll watch as the stars ignite their first tentative glimmers of the night, fighting initially through the atmospheric haze. It's never easy when you first start to find your light. My iPod is charged; maybe bring that base that plays music with no cords because we'll be far from any outlets and I have something I want to hear. I know life's been hard on you lately, hard on me. Maybe it wasn't meant to be easy. The grey of life makes tonight's sky seem all the more brilliant. A galaxy, a comet, a supernova. We'll listen to (and watch for) those explosions in the sky. The stars will sing - maybe tonight our music doesn't need the words.

First Breath After Coma
Catastrophe And The Cure
The Birth And Death Of The Day
Six Days At The Bottom Of The Ocean
Greet Death
It's Natural To Be Afraid
Your Hand In Mine
The Only Moment We Were Alone


Explosions In The Sky is a band from from Austin, Texas that tells amazing stories through songs which happen to lack words. Try it and see for yourself, the dizzying landscapes they can take you through.

This show was the second of three sold-out nights at the classy Great American Music Hall in San Francisco just back in March.

[thanks to the original taper. Pics from daryldarko and chaybert]


Chloe's just like me / only beautiful

Josh Rouse! Covering Mother Love Bone! Thanks to Kelly who sent this to me -- it's a song from the latest volume in Rouse's Bedroom Classics series. I am big fan of volumes 1 and 2, and it's quite a mindtrip to hear Nebraska singer Josh Rouse take on the formidable late '80s/early '90s pre-grunge rock sounds of Mother Love Bone.

"Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns" is a dark and melancholy river of a song from the Singles soundtrack, and it is interesting here how Rouse only chooses to cover the intro portion, never lapsing into that chorus of "this is my kinda love, it's the kind that moves on, it's the kind that leaves me alone...." Having listened to the original so many times, it is a bit disconcerting where this version stops, but beautifully moody, and I can't fault that choice in cover material.

Chloe Dancer (Mother Love Bone cover) - Josh Rouse

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 05, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

I had a full day interview here on Friday. Now that's eight hours straight of me talking about myself coherently and winningly. This is a draining endeavor, no matter how exciting the job or how good of a fit. I did mostly okay except for one specific question where I recall clearly starting to veer into Miss Teen USA territory ("such as"). Hey! Turns out if you don't know the answer, continuing to talk is not going to help you find it, oddly enough.

In between the real-life stuff going on, I've been listening to these songs:

Strange Vine
Delta Spirit

I just got news today from Rounder Records that they've signed Delta Spirit, who I allegedly saw with Port O'Brien at Noise Pop in March but regrettably actually missed due to sensory overload at the time. But I remember reading a review a few days after the festival that Amrit from Stereogum had penned that completely intrigued me: "Matthew Vasquez's vocals are powerhouse stuff, and his Dylanistic harmonica and melodies worked well over Delta's roots-rock roots. 'Strange Vine' was a standout, riding the sway of old mid-tempo, '50s-styled r&b rock, with vocal lines ala Alec Ounsworth or Julian Casablancas depending on how the light caught it." I want to listen more to these guys - they've got a great sound and a lot of promise. Their 2007 release was aptly named Ode to Sunshine, and will be re-released by Rounder.

I'm Glad
The Black Keys

If you're the grizzled, bluesy force of nature known as The Black Keys, and you're just sitting around Dan's house on a Thursday, why not record a Captain Beefheart cover and post it on your MySpace for free download? Why not indeed. Just a few days old, this cover is fuzzy and dirty like it's being sung through a dusty microphone someone dug up in the garage, then looped back through a decades-old set of crackly speakers. But you know, it's also just about perfect for some really late-night drunk slow dancing - sad and regretful but with some heat behind it too. Attack & Release is out now, The Black Keys are playing Red Rocks with My Morning Jacket in August, and then next day will be out in San Francisco for Outside Lands.

Never So Strange
Morning State
The harmonies and vocals on this particular song evoke straight-up '50s power pop, but there's also a tenser undercurrent of that good '90s rock running through it that you know I'm a sucker for. Atlanta's Morning State cooks up a jubilant blend with a kick to it. They've played shows with Dr. Dog, Peter Bjorn & John, and White Rabbits, all of whom are fun bands that we like round these parts. This is a fun band. Their new album You Know People I Know People is out tomorrow on Indie Outlaw.

Time Can Be Overcome
The Constantines
Said The Gramophone intrigued me (as they always do) with a fictional vignette Sean constructed around this song, involving a South Korean man in an isolated high-rise apartment: "[He] bought an electric guitar thirteen years ago and every night since then he has spent learning a single song. He does not feel this is slow or fast; it is just right. One day he will play the song, play the whole thing. Meteorites will hammer the city and tsunamis will rise and his heart will come to life in his chest." Really, I couldn't ask for more than that. This is a terrific, terrific slowburn of a song. From the Constantines' recent release Kensington Heights (Arts & Crafts).

Measure Of The Same
Birds of Avalon
Kids heading out and paying the big black-market bucks to see The Raconteurs recently on their tiny-club tour were greeted by the psychedelic retro-tinged sounds of Birds of Avalon as openers. A five-piece band from Raleigh, North Carolina, BofA formed from the ashes of previous '70s garage rock incarnation The Cherry Valence. They actually have a guitar player named Cheetie Kumar, which frankly is reason enough to go see them -- also the way she shreds that thing ain't bad. Their new The Outer Upper Inner EP is out now on Volcom.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Coachella Day 3: I just wanna burn up hard and bright

Vacate is the word. Arriving at Coachella Sunday, the traffic was light, the sun was shining but not too intensely . . . and the extra ticket my friend had was pretty much impossible to give away. There were tens of thousands there to see some very fine bands for Sunday, but it was not packed-crowded. While surely this was not nice for the organizers, it was good for the dusty masses who were wedged together a little less tightly for the third and final day of Coachella 2008.

Sunday was also basically just The Day I met The Hoff. All else (including shaking Sean Penn's hand and chatting with M. Ward) pales in direct comparison. It's like if you look right at the sun and then try to focus on anything else. The brilliance of his tanned Hoff-dom made me want to run down the beach slow-motion in a red tank swimsuit. Oh wait!! Not really.

After unfortunately missing Brett Dennen who I was looking forward to, Sunday actually began with Sean Penn urging us to get on his Dirty Hands Caravan to New Orleans (which would be a cool six days if I could afford just to just up and go). Penn is actually quite a compelling speaker and I admired what he was trying to do. I hope he had some success with the Coachellans. And contrary to advance rumors, Penn brought no special musical guest with him, just his direct earnest stare and his impassioned speech.

Next up was a few fun songs from Detroit/Chicago hybrid duo The Cool Kids on the main stage. They've got an old-school hip hop feel with buckets of confidence. I know Chris over at Gorilla vs Bear has been a big fan, saying way back when that they reminded him of "a late '80s EPMD joint produced by a low-budget version of the Neptunes." Agreed - not a bad start. Those guys would be amazingly fun to see in a small club - maybe kind of like the time I saw Sugarhill Gang in a tiny (literally) underground club in Italy.

Heading back to the tents, my mind was sent reeling by Holy F*ck, whose brand of lo-fi improvisational electronica is anything but sterile. Watching them pour their hearts into their music, doubled over their machines, radiating intensity -- and then hearing the warmly soaring sounds that emerge made me reconsider what's possible with that genre. They closed with my favorite song of theirs (you must watch them do it) and I know it sounds a bit hyperbolic, but for those final five minutes my soul levitated a little.

I'd been looking forward to the gorgeous vocal interplay, catchy melodies and varied instrumentation of Canadian lush-pop band Stars. I'd caught their live set before, so I knew how engaging Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan's shared verses and crowd banter could be. Their Set Yourself On Fire album is a favorite of mine and I loved hearing those songs live, alongside the new stuff.

A wandering jaunt backstage revealed a busy crew inflating and painting the massive pig for the Roger Waters set later that night, and the aforementioned Hoff and Penn (sounds like a Vegas magic trick duo). I also tried and clearly failed to suppress my glee at meeting M. Ward, who was waiting to join his friends from My Morning Jacket on stage for their sunset performance.

My Morning Jacket more or less melted my face off. I'd never seen them play live before but from the opening notes of "One Big Holiday" I was pulled into their vortex and duly impressed with how hard they rocked. As a live band MMJ is relentless and fiery and impassioned.

They played through several songs from their new album, which ranged from the fairly-traditional big alt-countrified sounds of "I'm Amazed," the straight up funky falsetto of "Highly Suspicious," and a gorgeous rendition of the title track "Evil Urges." They range so effortlessly from the thrashing rock to the perfect burnished timbre of sunset vocals fading out into the air.

Jim James played a scorching solo while surveying his fifedom from the speaker stacks in his Skeletor boot tops.

M. Ward indeed came out for the second song,"Off The Record," with little fanfare. M didn't sing at all to my disappointment, but they had some intense moments of rocking out and clearly enjoyed playing together.

Finally, a slightly blurred (call it artistic) shot of MMJ as the last vestiges of light from Sunday vanished below the horizon. I'm behind them, looking out at the crowd. They played for just a shade under an hour, abruptly leaving the stage at three minutes til 8.

Now, by the time Roger Waters took the stage, everyone in the crowd seemed to fall into two categories, both equally lethargic:

a) those who were doing some form of mood- or mind-altering drugs (not me Mom!) in what one of my friends commented was surely the densest concentration in the world at that moment in time of high people


b) those who were completely wiped out, who wanted nothing more than to lay on the grass somewhere and watch Roger Waters' bi-plane drop confetti on us that turned out to be Obama fliers. We were glad it wasn't biological warfare, which was honestly my first thought.

So while Waters took Coachella to the dark side of the moon, freaked with our minds with the surround sound effects, and released the giant pig that apparently got a bit out of control, I laid in the cooling grass that was just starting to be damp with dew and waited for the Tesla coils to go off, shooting blue-green lightning from coil to sky to earth. They never did for me, not that night.

So I guess that means I'll be back.

And finally --randomly but perfectly-- the song that was looping through my head all that last night:

"What a beautiful face I have found in this place
That is circling all around the sun
What a beautiful dream that could flash on the screen
In a blink of an eye and be gone from me
Soft and sweet
Let me hold it close and keep it here with me

And one day we will die and our ashes will fly
From the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see
Love to be
In the arms of all I'm keeping here with me

What a curious life we have found here tonight
There is music that sounds from the street
There are lights in the clouds and there's ghosts all around
Hear a voice as it's rolling and ringing through me
Soft and sweet
How the notes all bend and reach above the trees. . ."

In An Aeroplane Over The Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel

ALL PICS: Friday / Saturday / Sunday
TUNES: Coachella music downloads aggregation on LargeHearted Boy

[Penn pic credit]

Labels: , , , , ,

Stats tracked by StatCounter