I AM FUEL, YOU ARE FRIENDS

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

Monday, March 31, 2008

Bono gives props to Africa; Africa returns the favor

I was fascinated with this concept album when I first read about it: Twelve artists and musical groups from all parts of Africa gather together to cover U2 songs with traditional African instrumentation, percussion, and even languages. In many cases, the songs are completely restructured into something you can feel rising from the ground up, the beats thumping into your deepest hollows.

In The Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2 features artists like Angelique Kidjo (previous post), Les Nubians, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, and an oddly affecting cover of "Love Is Blindness" by Angola's Waldemar Bastos. Mali bluesman Ali Farka Touré's son Vieux contributes a rich cover of "Bullet The Blue Sky" with the spoken bridge segment done in his native language. The songs are really different than how you're used to hearing them. If you love U2 as I do, sometimes it takes a minute to get past the shock. But there's a beautiful spirit and soul shining through this amazing collection.

The album is released tomorrow through the good folks at Shout! Factory, and all proceeds will benefit the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Stream samples of all the songs here.

And you know -- I think that this is how the type of love that Bono originally sings about is supposed to sound; like a well rising, voices joining together.

Pride (In The Name of Love) - Soweto Gospel Choir




NEW CONTEST!
One winner will get a copy of In The Name Of Love: Africa Celebrates U2 just by leaving me a comment with either a good U2 story, a good Africa story, or both. I'll pick a winner and send the booty on its merry way.

PS - I checked, and I ain't got a Monday Music Roundup in me.
Not today.


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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Baby we only got today, and then the moment's gone forever

The Burn To Shine DVD series artfully combines two of my favorite things: cool old buildings and terrific bands, with a series of performances captured within the doomed walls of homes slated for destruction. The cameras roll for the band alone, and by the time we see the footage, the building no longer exists.

This series is a project of Fugazi dummer Brendan Canty and filmmaker Christoph Green (the pair also directed the Wilco Sunken Treasure DVD). Musicians representing the regional scene are selected by local "curators," including Ben Gibbard in the Seattle film and Chris Funk of the Decemberists in Portland. The musicians set up shop in the condemned building, each performing one song, one take, on one day. Then the local fire department will receive the property and it will be destroyed by fire for training exercises.

What makes these films exceptional is the weighty sense of a fleeting, ephemeral moment that will never happen again. I've thought about this, but never been able to articulate the concept as finely and viscerally as the combination present in this series does.

So often I'll see an exceptional performance in a venue, and the next time I'm there I might think of what took place on that very stage. But the moment is gone and will never happen exactly the same way again. This series crystallizes that into footage and teases it out to the forefront -- the way that musical creations dissipate, and how they are fleeting by their inherent nature.

Baby, we only got today, and then the moment's gone forever.

WILCO: Muzzle of Bees
(Burn to Shine Chicago, 2002)

Muzzle of Bees (Burn to Shine version) - Wilco


SLEATER-KINNEY: Modern Girl
(Burn to Shine Portland, 2003)

Modern Girl (Burn to Shine version) - Sleater-Kinney


EDDIE VEDDER: Can't Keep
(Burn to Shine Seattle, 2005) - I love this house's architecture

Can't Keep (Burn to Shine version) - Eddie Vedder


Read the excellent full listing of who has played for this series, and if this concept interests you, you must listen to the podcast interview with Brendan Canty about the series. Canty talks about how the concept got started during a period when Fugazi was undergoing a time of flux and dissolution, and how he wanted to capture that feeling somehow through this old building that fell into his lap. It's a fascinating and brilliant concept, and a series deserving of further development.

Vol 1: Washington DC (2001)
Vol 2: Chicago (2002)
Vol 3: Portland (2003)
Vol 4: Louisville (not yet released)
Vol 5: Seattle (2005)


Burn to Shine 4-DVD complete set

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

"You should come by some time and we’ll ghostride the Prius"

Stuff White People Like #91: San Francisco

Friday, March 28, 2008

Tonight in Denver! Monolith Festival presents The Cribs & Ra Ra Riot

It is fixin' to be a hootenanny of sorts at the Larimer Lounge tonight. The Monolith Festival peeps never sleep; even in the festival off-season here they are tirelessly working to bring good music to the fine denizens of Denver.

Come on out and join us tonight for UK band of brothers (and January NME cover-mentioned boys) The Cribs, with support being provided by the classy and melodic indierock of Ra Ra Riot out of Syracuse, New York.

Moving Pictures - The Cribs
Panic (Smiths cover) - The Cribs & Johnny Marr
I'm A Realist (Postal Service remix) - The Cribs

Ghost Under Rocks - Ra Ra Riot
Each Year (RAC Mix) - Ra Ra Riot


[photo credit Stuart Leech]

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Malcolm & Me, or, Standing outside a sold-out Justice show with money in my hand

I was wistfully YouTubing Justice today after missing the French electro-dance duo at Denver's Ogden Theatre last Saturday night. After misunderestimating my ability to finagle my name onto the list, I found myself standing on a street corner in the snow, talking to a homeless man named Malcolm who was trying to hustle a few tickets. Malcolm tried to find me something but I wasn't willing to drop sixty bucks. It was a sad hour in Fuel/Friends history. It's okay, though, because I probably wasn't dressed nearly hip enough - no faux-ironic neon, no skinny jeans, no '80s pastel Reeboks.

But when I came across this video, I reconsidered my wanton frugality; did Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart, Rick James, Stevie Wonder and Prince all possibly appear at the Denver show? Now I shall never know.

A girl can dream. This is all kinds of awesome.

"D.A.N.C.E." - JUSTICE (live on Jimmy Kimmel - Oct 2007)

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pardon me?

"...Rather than mainstream MP3 blogs, which exist purely to violate the copyright of the working musicians you can already hear on the radio..."

Read the article. Come on guys. Seriously?

Jason Collett on the creation of "Papercut Hearts"

Jason Collett is a Canadian musician who's been part of Broken Social Scene and is currently pursuing his own fantastic solo avenues. After seeing him open for Josh Rouse last September, I was impressed by his detailed lyrical imagery, and his lovely voice that had an unexpectedly sharp, raw, piercing crackle to it.

Collett's 2008 album Here's To Being Here is out now on Arts & Crafts (Feist, Stars, Apostle of Hustle). I hear hints of Dylan's drawl in his own unique combination of rootsy warmth and modern sparkle. This video was recently posted on his site; listen to the story behind the evolution of his song "Papercut Hearts."



Papercut Hearts - Jason Collett

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Vedder plays $5 secret shows in West Seattle

One of the things I am most looking forward to about seeing Ed Vedder solo next Monday in Berkeley is the variety of rare and semi-rare tunes I'm hoping he'll play. I've seen Pearl Jam so many times that they'd have to dig quite deep to throw something I'd never seen, but within the framework of a solo setting there are many songs that I'd love to see live for the first time.

Judging from the setlists at the two secret shows Vedder played to fewer than 150 people this past Monday and Tuesday night at Kenyon Hall in West Seattle (tickets for an "Into The Wild event" were sold for $5 at indie record store Easy Street), I could be in for some pretty rad selections.

Here are (other live versions of) a few tunes he played at the shows this week:

THE "SOLO VEDDER HYPOTHETICAL SETLIST 2008" MIX
Walkin' The Cow (Daniel Johnston cover, Bridge School 1994)
Around The Bend (live Bridge School 2006)
I Am Mine (live Bridge School 2004)
Dead Man (live, Not In Our Name Benefit 1998)
Broken Hearted (live at the Wiltern Theatre 2002)
You're True (live at the Wiltern Theatre 2002)
Goodbye (live at UCLA 2002)
Trouble (Cat Stevens cover, live)
Picture In A Frame (Tom Waits cover, Bridge School 2006)
Won't Back Down (Tom Petty cover, live in 93-ish)
Forever Young (Dylan cover, 5.24.06)
I Used To Work In Chicago (Bridge School 06)
Millworker (James Taylor cover, live in 2004)
Drifting (live in Mansfield, MA, 2003)
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away (Chicago 5.16.06)
Growin' Up (Springsteen cover, live in 2003)

ZIP: "SOLO VEDDER HYPOTHETICAL SETLIST 2008" MIX



[Late addition/not in the zip] - Patriot!! Thanks to the comments, I'm gonna post up a few versions here of one of my favorite covers that Pearl Jam does, and add my voice to the small chorus suggesting this for the solo shows. Such a fantastic song.

Patriot (punked out version, Tibetan Freedom Concert 6/13/99)
Patriot (acoustic, Madison Square Garden 10/13/00)
Patriot (all reworked, live in 2003)

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Spinto Band :: "Summer Grof"

Yeah, we're not gonna pretend to know what a grof is. Sounds like something from a Harry Potter book? Or perhaps forgotten slang for pubic hair. Either way, it doesn't appear to have English roots.

But that does not mean that this new song about it from Delaware indie-powerpop outfit Spinto Band can't play a starring role on your next brightly-hued summer mix.

From their blog: "The video was conceptualized and directed by one Albert Birney. We shot the whole thing in Tom and Sam's parents backyard, then ate a huge feast and celebrated birthdays and played board games and guitars until we forgot why we even got together to begin with."



I saw Spinto Band at Noise Pop 2007. Dudes were into it. They put on a very fun show. They've been on the road with The Whigs and Tally Hall in support of their forthcoming release Moonwink.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Raconteurs video: "Salute Your Solution"

Just taunting the Web Sheriff (or should I say WEB SHERIFF) to try and leave me comment #3 about The Raconteurs (I deleted the other two -- no, seriously, happy Easter), it's one more post about The Raconteurs.

This rad new video was composed of 2500 still shots taken and assembled by rock photographer extraordinaire, Autumn de Wilde:

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

You might be surprised to hear it, but I am reading a really interesting book about zombies. Heck, I'm surprised that I'm reading a book about zombies. But it was an unexpected gift and I'm not one to look a gift book in the mouth, so I dove in.

World War Z is rivetingly creepy, an impeccably-constructed fictional history of our modern world seeing an unknown outbreak in rural China that causes people to become undead, their blood congealed into a black ooze, with a shuffling gait and a low moan. Oh, and a bloodthirsty need to bite the living (like, break into your house in suburbia and feast on your family). Sounds all Halloween, but it's more like Outbreak. The book traces the procession of the outbreak, the coverups, the panic, the turning point in the war, and then the reconstruction of the entire planet -- entirely through short, well-crafted first person accounts of those who "lived through it." It's very believable and globally creative. I like freaking myself out with well-written scares. I recommend this title and am glad I gave it a shot.


Music I am listening to this fine first week of Spring:

Katherine
Boyracer

This starts like bubblegum with a fresh sweetness and pop, but quickly you get the fuzz and hear the punky influences of Boyracer. Originally from Britain and now in Arizona, this band has gone through over 40 members in the almost two decades they've been making music. Currently the lineup consists of original member Stewart Anderson and two rockin' gals, one of whom he is married to. As my friend who recommended them said, "the killer melodies really come through after a few listens," and I agree -- the overtones are sweetly gratifying, but with enough distortion to balance it so well. They could be from any decade of the last 40 years.

The Satisfier
Eli Reed

Here's another out-of-nowhere 24 year old who channels James Brown here with a red-hot yowl and big brass soul. I originally read about Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves over on the Bag of Songs blog and as soon as I started listening to the track, I had to go back and doublecheck who this kid was and from which era. Originally from Allston, MA, he honed his musical chops after he up & moved to Clarksdale, Mississippi at age 18 -- in the North Mississippi Delta, and one of the birthplaces of the blues. Holy mackerel. Go stream some stuff on this kid's MySpace; album Roll With You is out April 29th on Q Division.


I The Kite
Centro-Matic

If you were Texas musican Will Johnson and found yourself sometimes tugged in different directions with your music, you might --if you were especially prolific-- form two bands. And in 2008, you might release a double album with both of your bands on it. Centro-matic often explores the loose and beautiful, but slightly more rockin' side of Johnson's persona, where South San Gabriel is a bit more twilight dusk than burnished afternoon. Hazy but stunning, like a landscape from a Cormac McCarthy novel. According to the guys themselves, "what is distinctive about the release of Dual Hawks is that we get the chance to hear side-by-side the various ways in which Centro-matic and South San Gabriel complement and play off of each other—sort of the full-length equivalent of a split single." Very cool idea, with gorgeous interplay.

Magic
The Blakes

A friend has been urging me for months to write something about The Blakes after he saw them randomly on a Friday night in a small club and wrote that "they were awesome…like fuck yeah spirit of rock n roll awesome -- they sort of rip off The Strokes but they do it in a good way, like it is still 2002 and garage rock will rock forever and it isn’t 2008." So yeah, I'll take a listen. This song was originally part of the Sound of Color ad campaign, and finds this Seattle trio taking a bit of a departure from the garage vibe found on excellent tracks like "Modern Man" or "Commit" (on their MySpace) crossing over to a sunnier Kinks/Beatles vibe that evokes nicely their assigned color of blue. Or maybe a cheery aquamarine.


Heron Blue
Sun Kil Moon
Mark Kozelak's music gives up its melancholy layers slowly, over repeated late-night listens. Therefore I cannot claim to have plumbed the depths of the new Sun Kil Moon album after only having streaming access to it for a few short days via their MySpace. But this one we managed to capture is bewitching. Like one particularly incisive lyric here, "Her hair it twists 'round her necklace / constricts and chokes like ruthless vine," this song is near-eight minutes of ominous impending beauty. The new album April comes out the first day of that month and features guest vocals from Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy) and Ben Gibbard.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Steady as I go to see the Raconteurs

Jack White and Brendan Benson's side project/other band The Raconteurs have announced a limited run of tour dates next month, including one in San Francisco on April 23, right before Coachella. Same night as the reunited Verve's first U.S. show in ten years. King-Solomon-like choices must be made.

The new Raconteurs album Consolers of the Lonely was recorded earlier this month, and in a superhuman feat of record mixery and pressing, it will be released this Tuesday [on Third Man/XL/Warner Brothers]. In celebration of all the coming gratification, I've been listening to some scorchingly good live Raconteurs -- let's share.

THE RACONTEURS
LIVE AT THE APOLLO IN MANCHESTER
October 15, 2006
Level
Hands
Five On The Five
(on the new album)
Together
Christian Life
(Louvin Brothers cover)
Bang Bang (Sonny Bono cover)
Store Bought Bones
Yellow Sun
Blue Veins Intro Jam
Blue Veins
Intimate Secretary
Steady As She Goes
Broken Boy Soldier

BONUS LIVE COVERS:

Headin' For The Texas Border (Flamin' Groovies cover, live in Brixton 2006)
Crazy (Gnarls Barkley cover, live at Lollapalooza 2006)
It Ain't Easy (David Bowie cover, live at Lollapalooza 2006)
[Bowie mp3 fixed; if you snag the zip, get this single track too]


ZIP: RACONTEURS LIVE

*****************************************
THE RACONTEURS ON RACON-TOUR
Birds of Avalon opening

Apr 20 - Commodore Ballroom/Vancouver, BC
Apr 21 - Neumo’s/Seattle, WA
Apr 22 - Wonder Ballroom/Portland, OR
Apr 23 - Bimbo’s 365/San Francisco
Apr 26 - The Joint/Las Vegas, NV
Apr 28 - The Fillmore/Denver, CO
Apr 29 - Uptown Theatre/Kansas City, MO
May 1 - House of Blues/Dallas, TX
May 2 - Stubbs BBQ/Austin, TX
May 3 - Stubbs BBQ/Austin, TX

UK/Europe dates to be announced in the near future.

PS - First comment on this pic is still making me laugh.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Like Wilco in designer clothes


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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pearl Jam announce East Coast summer tour dates

Nerdy superfans have been awaiting a big announcement of some sort from Pearl Jam today, crashing the message boards in the process somehow. Once the site got up and running again, there were some new tour dates announced for this summer!

The face-meltingly rad Kings of Leon will be opening the first four dates, and Ted Leo & The Pharmacists the others. I would travel to see Kings of Leon with PJ; South Carolina anyone? I've always wanted to go.

We're also hoping that this might be the first leg only of a larger nationwide tour.


PEARL JAM TOUR 2008
June 11 - West Palm, FL Cruzan Amphitheatre
June 12 - Tampa, FL St Pete Times Forum
June 13-15 - Manchester, TN Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
June 16 - Columbia, SC Colonial Center
June 17 - Virginia Beach, VA Verizon Amphitheater
June 19 - Camden, NJ Susquehanna Bank Center
June 22 - Washington, DC Verizon Center
June 24 - New York, NY Madison Square Garden
June 25 - New York, NY Madison Square Garden
June 27 - Hartford, CT Dodge Amphitheater
June 30 - Mansfield, MA Tweeter Center


Let's See Action (live) - Eddie Vedder & Pete Townshend

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A convoluted trail to the pain in my heart

I always love a juicy story of a misappropriated song. It's terrible when someone else co-opts your writing and makes it their own, and it seems like back in the day there used to be more of it with less complainin'.

So I listened with great interest over on the excellent Grace Potter blog This Is Somewhere when they unearthed a forgotten tune by one Irma Thomas, a soul singer from New Orleans:

Ruler of My Heart - Irma Thomas


If you have an ounce of love in your soul for Mr. Otis Redding (as I do) then you might hear more than an echo of this:

Pain In My Heart - Otis Redding

He called it a "re-interpretation," and to be sure, his undeniable soul-drenched stamp is all over that. But sounds to me like Irma laid down those original foundations (along with songwriter Allen Toussaint) and may be due a little more credit than just a footnote.

The reason I got started down this whole rabbit trail was because Grace Potter does a pretty smashing cover of it herself, and introduces it as being "actually written by a woman, but performed most famously by a man."

Represent, fair Grace!

Pain In My Heart (live) - Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

And you must watch this live performance, she is ferociously rad:

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Pete Yorn & Kinky: "Use Me" (Bill Withers)

Pete Yorn wants you to use him (and keep on using him until you use him up), and to that end he's crooning along with Mexican electronica/rock band Kinky, covering Bill Withers' soulful classic.

Use Me (Bill Withers cover) - Pete Yorn & Kinky


This comes from the new release from producer Robin Danar, which features a bunch of other artists: Inara George, Paul Buchanan (The Blue Nile), Jesca Hoop, Gary Jules and The Section Quartet, Lisa Loeb and Steve Reynolds, Jim Bianco, Minibar, Rachael Yamagata, Julian Coryell, Quincy Coleman, Julianna Raye and Nic Harcourt.

It's called Altered States and it came out yesterday on Shanachie Records.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

stars and nebulae would swing around us in silent, endless arcs

I have read very little of author Arthur C. Clarke (author of over 100 books, best known for 2001: A Space Odyssey and his work with Kubrick on the film), who died today in Sri Lanka. But a friend of mine recommended this short story Clarke wrote, The Star, saying it was amongst the finest pieces of writing he had ever read. I found it beautifully wistful, thought-provoking and chilling at once. I never tire of how a good science fiction writer can construct such an utterly believable alternate universe and reality, and free our minds for just a few minutes from the confines and constructs of this one.

Read: The Star

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

"Won't you wear . . . a sweater?"

We are requested by Mister McFeely to don a sweater of some sort this Thursday, in honor of what would have been Mister Rogers' 80th birthday. I think I'll wear my green hoodie that I can zip up all the way, pause, and then zip it halfway back down. Man, I loved that (American kids) show when I was a tot. To this day, whenever I catch a rerun and he tells me that I am special, I believe him.

But seriously. Why was the postman on a childrens' show named Mister McFeely?!


Tunes for the weekly grind:

Girls Like It Too
(new, live in Buenos Aires)
Jarvis Cocker

Jarv says that girls like it too, I only wish the audio here was a bit better so I could vouch for the girls in this equation. We'll just have to take his word for it; he sounds like he would know. I like Jarvis because he always sounds a little smarmy, dramatic, and very Euro-metropolitan. This song also revives that fantastic stage whisper way he has of singing that makes you feel like he's letting you in on a secret. Huge potential in this brand new song -- it's melodic with an arching, anthemic chorus -- and the live rip isn't half bad.

Snow in Berlin
Zookeeper

"Okay here we go," warns the opening voice on this bright and effervescent tune from Austin, TX five-piece Zookeeper. The song melds horns with retro pop sensibilities, and feels like the anticipation in the sky the moment before the sun bursts out from behind the horizon. Another album art selection that falls under the conspiratorial hushed-whisper "I think they have problems" header, Becoming All Things is out now on Belle City Pop!. These guys played something like a dozen shows in Austin this last week, and hey! My beloved Dodge had them on his serious SIRIUS show back in December.


What She Turned Into
Retribution Gospel Choir

The purest, most enthusiastic music-blog stop in my regular rounds easily falls to the guys at Said The Gramophone (for example, on Sam Cooke). They recently posted up this track that I'd never heard a thing about, featuring Red House Painter/Sun Kil Mooner Mark Kozelek producing music by Alan Sparhawk of Low, Matt Livingston and Eric Pollard. According to StG, "That means that [Kozelek] strode into the recording booth and turned the amps up. He turned them right up. He slapped Sparhawk across the face, tore Livingston's shirt and punched a hole in Pollard's tom. He glowered at them. Then he went back to the mixing desk and set the thing on fire. "Play," he said over the crackles. "Play me a pop song." It was going to rain that night, hard." I mean COME ON. Yes. Listen, and it is exactly so. Retribution Gospel Choir has a full-length album out tomorrow on Kozelek's Caldo Verde label.

Silence
Portishead

And so the first new Portishead album in 11 years begins with a crackly, mysterious transmission in what I think might be urgent Portguese, kind of like the french woman in Lost. The song crests, thrumming and unrelenting, mysterious and sexy. In short, all the things you'd hope for from these Bristol trip-hop pioneers. But what you didn't expect was that they'd make you feel like a spy in the cold sleek streets of Berlin, rather than a beautiful blissed-out clubgoer. Third is out April 28, and Portishead is another fine band that's gonna be at Coachella.


Young Folks (Peter, Bjorn and John cover)
The Kooks & Simon Wilcox

Resist it as you might (and I did try to resist initially), the whistling from the original version of this song was the catchiest thing on the radio in 2007. Sometimes I'll be walking down the street on an especially sunny day and I want to whistle something; this does nicely (that or the Andy Griffith theme). Therefore when The Kooks covered this song with lovely Canadian gal Simon Wilcox and cut the pursed-lip magic, something else got lost in the transaction. It is still catchy and adds that cute brogue. From a recent free NME disc, the Kooks say "We tried to make it more of a rock'n'roll song, throwing a bit of Motown and doo-wop into the mix." See what you think.

And hey, happy St. Paddy's! Me and Sir Jameson plan to do a wee bit o' celebrating.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Will Ferrell gets lost in Dave Grohl's eyes



Frickin hilarious.

Dave Grohl and Will Ferrell tenderly perform their own special version of the Don Henley/Stevie Nicks song "Leather and Lace" at a recent benefit show for 826LA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.

Leather and Lace - Dave Grohl and Will Ferrell

Oh, my sides. Aidez-moi.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

What comes is better than what came before

I (finally) saw Juno last night, and there's a scene towards the end where Cat Power's earthy, smoky voice fills the theater with her sublimely saddened version of "Sea of Love," off her Covers Record.

As I walked out of the movies into the crisp and cold night, I found myself quietly singing another selection from that album, her elegiac version of the Velvet Underground's "I Found A Reason." It's less than two minutes long, and like most of her covers it's more of a reinvention than a faithful retelling. The lyrics morph; the only ones consistent between the two versions go:

Oh I do believe
you're all what you perceive (Velvet) /
in all the things you say (Cat)

What comes is better than what came before

. . . and you'd better
come come come come
to me
Better come
come come to me . . .


I Found A Reason - Cat Power
I Found A Reason - The Velvet Underground
I Found A Reason (demo version) - The Velvet Underground


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Friday, March 14, 2008

The "Yeah, I'm Not in Austin" sulk club

Yes, I'll just come right out and say it: Hello my name is Heather. I am a blogger, and I am not at SXSW this week.

If you are like me find yourself constrained by money, or work, or life (or a combination of the three) and are not partaking in the musical bacchanalia on the streets of Austin right now, let's find something to salve our wounds, shall we?

The good people over at Austin Sound have put together a quality 21-song sampler of local Austin talent that will be playing shows in pubs and clubs and parking lots at SXSW. I've had an enjoyable afternoon listening to these tunes -- here are a few that caught my ear:

Power To Change - The Black and White Years (MySpace)
They were invited by former Talking Head/Modern Lover Jerry Harrison to record their debut full length at his California studio. You can hear why.

Mary Jo - The Brazos (MySpace)
The Brazos just want to hold you in their arms and sing to you over jangly ethereal guitars in a lovely, warbly voice about how they came to you singing sad songs when the evening called. The Cure meets Explosions In The Sky?

Gunpowder - Black Joe Lewis (MySpace)
Where did this young guy come from?! Apparently he's been hiding in a cryogenic tank in the Stax vaults since 1966, and has emerged to start work on an album with Spoon's Jim Eno. Go figure.

Darksided Computer Mouth - White Denim (MySpace)
I missed these guys at NoisePop the night I got in, but this is frenetic and relentless from the get-go, and I feel disoriented. I like it.

Muzzleloading Evangelicals - The Archibalds
A modern fusion of the warmer, countrified Beck tunes and an expansive '70s country rock feel. Breezy and plucky, and I'm sure would sound good with some BBQ in my hand.

DOWNLOAD: The entire Sound Advice Vol II: The Latest Toughs (An Austin Sound Compilation) or snag individual tracks over here.

And maybe I'll see you in Austin next year.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

When we was young, oh man did we have fun :: The Strokes live from a Melbourne brewpub

Back in 2001 as Is This It started to take off for The Strokes, their dance card was suddenly and dramatically packed; according to the archived tour dates on their website they played just three shows in 2000, but over a hundred in 2001. Early show recordings are really difficult to find -- to sate my ears, I wanted something nascent from 2000, but the odds were against me.

During the summer of 2001, they played a small (capacity 300) pub/club in Melbourne called The Laundry, and the set was broadcast on Australian 3RRR community radio. The sound quality on this boot is pristine - the minimal crowd noise almost makes it sound like a lost studio demo of alternate versions rather than a live show, but with that terrific energy that I expect from these boys. It's a necessary addition to the collection of any Strokes fan.

THE STROKES
LIVE AT THE LAUNDRY
Fitzroy, Melbourne, AUS - July 2001
Intro
Is This It
The Modern Age
Soma
Barely Legal
Someday
Alone, Together
Last Nite
Hard To Explain
New York City Cops


ZIP: THE STROKES IN MELBOURNE

[top photo credit Cody Smyth, CBGBs 2000.
bottom photo credit Christopher Wahl
]

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Felice Brothers & Bright Eyes :: "Walls" (Tom Petty cover, live in Delaware)

Bruce loves The Felice Brothers just as much as I do, and I found this cover he posted to be jubilant and electrifying.

I cannot help but smile wide at the loose, rough joy they exude in their musical jam (even if Conor is dressed kinda like he just stumbled in from post-work happy hour karaoke):



That is live music at its absolute best.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday Music Roundup

So last Sunday in San Francisco I picked up this random $1 pin at the Noise Pop Expo (in addition to a cool business card holder for my forthcoming cool business cards, and I waited too long to buy this gorgeous necklace and it was gone when I came with cash. Sad).

Anyways. The pin on my bag strap now, which you can sort of make out over there in a bad cell phone snap, is a sensitive graphite rendering of Patrick Swayze circa Roadhouse. He beams at me, which made me feel good for about three days, and then I read that he's got pancreatic cancer and now I want to mutter things like "Nobody puts Baby in a corner," and giggle when he touches the back of my arm. I will admit a huge weakness for Dirty Dancing, I cannot explain it. Who can. I hope Patrick gets well soon.

Tunes I am listening to this week:

Dragonflies
Ike Reilly

New from Ike Reilly -- an artist that we are big fans of 'round these parts (top ten!)-- comes an album called Poison The Hit Parade (April 8). The label says it is a collection of outtakes, demos, and alternate versions from his last three albums, and Ike adds that "it isn't so much of where I'm going but more like the places I've been that people don't know about." One of the things that Ike verily exceeds at are songs that feel rebellious and triumphant at the same time, with intelligent lyrics that penetrate deeper than your standard radio fare. This previously unreleased tune shimmers and pushes over an urgently pounding piano cadence, while Ike sings to someone ravaged by cancer but whose skin still shines.

Into The Ground
The Brakes

Philadelphia band The Brakes just signed to Hyena Records and their full length debut Tale of Two Cities is out on May 6. None of these guys are over 23, but they've opened for acts like The Hold Steady and Robert Randolph, and have some shows coming up with Jackie Greene. They seem to have a vocal fanbase in Philly and beyond. This catchy tune is a simple ode to being "in her bed, and in her arms" with a toe-tapping lush spaciousness to it, and subtle hints of a modern jazz vocals that echo a bit of Jamie Cullum. And a trumpet solo, even!


Chances Are (Jim Eno of Spoon remix)
Apostle of Hustle

"Drunk, drunk in the Taco Bell," is where we first meet our protagonist of this song, and down to the clattery unsteady rhythm and the shiny brass backing notes, that's exactly what it feels like. Jim Eno is the drummer of fair Spoon, whose percussive sense can get me moving any day of the week. Combine that with the always well-constructed rhythmic backbone in songs from latin-indie-gypsy folk Canadian prophets Apostle of Hustle, and you have this very winning combination. The original version of this song was on last year's National Anthem of Nowhere (Arts & Crafts).


Paisley Pattern Ground
The Black Hollies

You'd probably think this was released in the '60s, from the name of the band, to the ode to the paisley, and the rockin sounds of psychedelica, guitars, and bells here echoing through the misty morning. But actually, The Black Hollies are from Jersey and bring "a mash up of British Invasion blues, guitar heroics and psychedelia that would bring a smile to Brian Jones' face" according to Rolling Stone. Plus they're apparently in a new Dell commercial which I should pimp because my new (pink) Dell laptop is scheduled to arrive Thursday and right now that makes me happy. The Black Hollies sophomore full-length album Casting Shadows is out today.


Bang On
The Breeders

Hold onto your Docs, The Breeders are back. With tones of surf guitar and rubber-ball bouncing beats that could fit easily in at a club, Kim and Kelley Deal come back with new sounds here that really surprised me; a hundred miles from the snarly-harmonic girl rock that I so loved in the early Nineties. The Steve-Albini-produced Mountain Battles is out on 4AD April 8, and they've got a ton of tour dates coming up, including one at Coachella (yay!).

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Jesse Malin takes a walk on the somewhat wild but mostly acoustic side

Well heck. Here it is Monday night. In addition to the time change creeping up on me, apparently I am also going to forget what day it is and therefore not put the finishing touches on the Monday Music Roundup. Which is now looking like a Tuesday Music Roundup. Terrific!

Jesse Malin's cover of the Lou Reed classic "Walk On The Wild Side" surfaced over on the Times UK site today for free download. It's from his upcoming album of covers, On Your Sleeve, due April 7th on One Little Indian Records.

Walk On The Wild Side - Jesse Malin

It begs for comparison with some of the other other notable covers of this ode to transvestitism, back room darlings, and really smooth bass lines that sound what I would imagine heroin feels like.

Walk On The Wild Side - Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
Oh the horror, this was my first exposure to this song. I bought this cassingle from The Wherehouse at Vallco Fashion Park mall, probably with babysitting money. I know all the lyrics; to this day, Annie's cautionary tale is probably the reason I've never done hits that make heartbeats accelerate. She wanted to be a chemical engineer, makin 50 to 55 thousand a year. She took a hit, breathed two short breaths. One for life the last for death. Thanks Marky.

Walk On The Wild Side (live) - The Strokes
Julian Casablancas always sounds like he is singing half-reclined on his counch and can't be arsed to get up, and I think he comes closest to channeling the delivery of Lou Reed. I love the way the moment in this cover when he hits the line about Jackie juuuuuust speeding away, and then of course that pretty rad guitar solo that Nick Valensi throws on at the end.

Imagine/Walk On The Wild Side - George W. Bush
Dubya gets his thang on, courtesy of some fancy editing from the fantastically entertaining thepartyparty site. Who knew?!

Walk On The Wild Side - Lou Reed
The original, the grandaddy of cool.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Noise Pop: The Mountain Goats day show at Bottom of the Hill

It always feels a bit weird to come in from the bright glorious Sunday afternoon sunshine for a day show, but the Noise Pop set with the The Mountain Goats at Bottom of the Hill last weekend was so good as to make it worthwhile for the packed, all-ages crowd. The Mountain Goats played a rarely-seen three-show run at Noise Pop and this was the last -- a Sunday matinée, the early-bird special.

After this, I'm hands-down adding John Darnielle to my list of the best songwriters of our generation. The depth and emotional punch, and sheer beauty of these lyrics actually physically hurts at times.

You Or Your Memory (live in SF 3/2/08) - The Mountain Goats
(from 2005's The Sunset Tree)

I checked into a bargain priced room on La Cienega
gazed out through the curtains of the parking lot
walked down to the corner store
just before nightfall in my bare feet
black tarry asphalt, soft and hot
and when I came back I spread out my supplies
on the counter by the sink
I looked myself right in the eyes

st. joseph's baby aspirin
bartles and jaymes
and you
or your memory

I ducked behind the drapes when I saw the moon begin to rise
gathered in my loose ends switched off the light
and down there in the dark I can see the real truth about me
as clear as day
lord if I make it through tonight
then I will mend my ways
and walk the straight path to the end of my days

st. joseph's baby aspirin
bartles and jaymes
and you
or your memory



So Desperate (live 3/2/08) - The Mountain Goats
(from the new album Heretic Pride)

We were parked in your car
in our neutral meeting place, the episcopalian churchyard
I had things I’d been meaning to say
but in the dazzling winter sun that late
I could feel them melt away

and through the warm radio static
I couldn’t hear my stage directions
and the fog on the windshield
obscured our sad reflections

I felt so desperate in your arms

we were parked near some trees
and the moonlight soaked the branches in ever-deepening degrees
had my hand in your hair
trying to keep my cool
‘til it became too much to bear

when we cracked the windows open
well the air was just so sweet
we could hear the cars ten feet away
out there on the street

I felt so desperate in your arms



I like crowd singalongs, and you may find yourself marveling as I did at the enthusiasm of this group of Sunday show-attenders. Not only could they sing the whole chorus for John on songs like "You Or Your Memory," but listen to the performance of the title track off their brand new album Heretic Pride -- it's only been out for two weeks!

Heretic Pride (live 3/2/08) - The Mountain Goats

Everyone sings so emphatically. It kind of makes me look around and say, "Who are you people!?" I guess that's a sign of a well-loved band, one with the kind of lyrics you instantly want to learn by heart.


You can stream and download the entire show here.

[photo credits]

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Crazy French guys, Stephen Malkmus, and the Great American Music Hall

One of the fangirl highlights of my Noisepopping this year was meeting some of the hilariously crazy French guys behind the La Bloqotheque site, home to those dizzyingly wonderful "Concerts A Emporter" (Take Away Shows), which feature exclusive content of musicians in random everyday settings playing their blessed little hearts out.

Whether it's The Shins on the springtime streets of Paris, The National nestled near a French chapel hidden up in the mountains, or Elvis Perkins serenading from an ornate lobby staircase, each of these is so wonderful that I anxiously await the next one. Therefore it was really hard not to gush like a moron when I met the pretty cool Vincent Moon (did you see his work on the new REM video?) and his enthusiastic associates (bonjour Chryde!).

My french language skills --yeah, not so much . . . but it looks like the Blogotheque team were busy bees during their week in San Francisco. I missed the show with Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks on Wednesday night, but look what they made for us! A montage of off-the-cuff R.E.M. covers, set to panoramic shots of one of the coolest live music venues in San Fran. Ridiculous:



Watch the rest of the Malkmus performances here, and what I can piece together of their other writing on the site almost makes me want to take a French class. Oui.

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Oasis covering Ryan Adams, covering Oasis

I like this concept immensely. Back in 2006, Noel Gallagher and Gem Archer did a series of ace live semi-acoustic shows, and at the show on November 26th at London's Union Chapel they performed Ryan Adams' arrangement of their song "Wonderwall." So, so cool to hear them taking on his haunting interpretation, even down to that winding countermelody that Ryan weaves into it.

Wonderwall (Ryan Adams arrangement) - Noel Gallagher & Gem Archer


This is very similar to the version they played in Toronto on Nov 6 - lovely.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

An arctic monkey and his twin, caught in the age of understatement

Arctic Monkey Alex Turner and Miles Kane from The Rascals have a side project goin' called The Last Shadow Puppets, with a new video online today called "The Age of the Understatement." It's an epic-sounding song about marauding and proper kissing, with a video to match -- an affair of tanks and singing WWII troops, priests and Russian figure skaters.

After seeing it, I'm pretty sure that these guys are twins or clones or at the very least, go shopping together. Watch it here.

The duo played their first live show together on Tuesday night to a packed Williamsburg record store, and thanks to Hypeful blog, here's a live mp3 of their first single (which will be released in proper form April 14th, with the full album following shortly):

The Age Of The Understatement (live 3/4/08) - The Last Shadow Puppets


[top photo credit Kyle Dean Reinford, taken at last night's surprise Cake Shop show on the Lower East Side]

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Devil, Me, and the Notwist

For a few years now I've been wondering what German ambient-indie band The Notwist have been up to. They used to have the world's most confusing website, a secretive map that left me feeling like I was trying to solve the Cold War with hover-and-click technology. I always failed.

Now their site has been updated to screen a new video of them in the studio -- and there's a new song to go along with it! A mixmaster friend first introduced me to the far-ranging sounds of the Notwist with a tune of hip-shaking easygoing electronica from 2002's Neon Golden. It sounds as if their new album (The Devil, You + Me) may be moving towards a more direct melodic sound in the way they approach, with a touch less ephemeral ambience. It's good stuff.

Frontman Markus Acher (one of two brothers in the band) repeats here over a slowly building crest; "Let's just imitate the real until we find a better one -- remember the good lies win."

Good Lies - The Notwist

And two tracks I really like from Neon Golden:

Consequence - The Notwist
One With The Freaks - The Notwist


Look for their new release in June on Domino Records if you're in the States. European folks get it sooner (City Slang in Europe in late May) and a bunch of European tour dates as well.

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New Old 97s :: "Dance With Me"

Like a spontaneous tango across the floorboards of some dusty Texas bar, this new tune from the Old 97s combines fuzzy electric twang with a definite latin flare. I don't know how to tango, but this song makes me feel like maybe I could figure it out -- if Rhett leads, I'll follow.

The first new album in four years from the Old 97s is due May 13th on New West Records, and will be called Blame It On Gravity.


Dance With Me - Old 97s

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Monday, March 03, 2008

She & Him are very . . . nice

One of my most anticipated shows at Noise Pop this weekend in San Francisco was the M. Ward collaboration with velvet-voiced actress Zooey Deschanel called She & Him. I could hardly overstate the level of love I have for M. Ward's richly layered music, and Zooey has this fantastic retro-throwback vibe with a sweet coyness to her inflection. The samples I've heard from two of them have been promising.

And, let's face it -- much like the time I saw Russell Crowe's band at the Fillmore (that's Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts for those of you keeping track at home), everyone likes to go see a real live attractive movie star play with their band. It's why folks spend $40 to see Dogstar.

After three opening acts at the Great American Music Hall Sunday night, Matt and Zooey took the stage for their hour-long set. I gotta hand it to Zooey, she is a charming and capable performer who reminded my friend of June Carter Cash a bit, I suppose in her vocal swing. I'd never seen M Ward before but he clearly enjoys those sounds he coaxes from his vintage guitars, and sings his vocal parts with the gusto and expressions of an 80-year-old bluesman. It's fun to see them interact with each other, ending their main set on the piano bench playing the ivories side by side.

But somehow the visceral kick that I like to feel in a live show was missing last night. The overwhelming reaction I had when I walked out the doors was that it was nice, absolutely, and charming. It felt like a very engaging county fair act. They have a lot of potential as a duo, as their voices meld so well and offer each other a counterbalance. I've got the album at the very top of the stack of advances to take a listen to -- I am anticipating that I'll catch some layers of interest and depth in the studio album that I must have missed in the live setting.

The bloggers were out in force for this show, and as we all travel home, Aquarium Drunkard posted up a quick thought saying that the show was fantastico. The line around the block made this one of the hardest shows of the fest to get into, but I left feeling like I'd missed something in what was supposed to be the kind of glorious winner in the cool-kid olympics show of the year. It was fun. And nice.

Why Do You Let Me Stay Here - She & Him

Volume One is out on Merge Records March 18. Thanks to the dude with the iPhone in front of me who shared his clandestine pics.

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