Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Animal Names are the Best of 2009

There's torture here. I'm fed up. I can't take the head pressure anymore, IT'S LIST TIME. God, what was I supposed to do...not do one? Jesus of Jesus! That couldn't happen. Colors, I'm seeing colors. Help me. A rat is running on the roof making the sound of nails. Somewhere in the distance, a crow cries. Torture! Broken fingernails!

Without order or any sense of triumph at doing this right because there are really just too many great albums to create some sort of "top ten" (exactly what I did) or "top five" or "top 88" (what about Bear in Heaven? Grizzly Bear?? King Kahn & BBQ Show??? Passion Pit???? Flaming Lips?????) Hell. This is just my personal favorites of 2009 with remedial, disgustingly short descriptions.

The Antlers, Hospice
The light bulbs explode when this album plays.
Antlers - Sylvia

Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
The title track is one of the best songs I've ever heard.
Neko case - Middle Cyclone

Cotton Jones, Paranoid Cocoon
Rock from the bottom of a soapy, fifties dishwasher; "Blood Red Sentimental Blues" is a perfect song.

Cotton Jones - Blood Red Sentimental Blues

Tune-Yards, Bird Brains
What is this? It's like pouring sugar on your frontal lobe.

Tune Yards - Sunlight

(read the rest by clicking link below


Monday, December 28, 2009


Broken and alone is the best way to experience The Antlers perfect album Hospice. This Take Away Show exemplifies that. Get ready to drink, you're going to need it. Crafting any best of 2009 list has to include Hospice and Peter Silberman's limitless, Jeff Buckley-esque voice.

Also, if you're a fan, you MUST have their live performance of Sylvia live in NYC (click here).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Inside Abraham Lincoln's Joke Book...

Is a CD that you should hear. The actual sounds of the color orange. Colourmusic's last few CDs are the auditory representation of color. If you're pausing and thinking that it all sounds like avant-garde, bah-humbug nonsense--don't judge before you hear. They know what they're doing. NPR's review: "What orange sounds like is anybody's guess, but the music on F, Monday, Orange, February, Venus, Lunatic, 1 or 13 suggests that it is one incredibly vivid, exuberant color."

F, Monday, Orange, February, Venus, Lunatic, 1 or 13 (yes! this is the name of Colourmusic's album!) in the context is thought-provoking, and out of context is the great concept of a great rock band. "Put in a Little Gas" is melodic and wild with its addictive, smoking guitar and repeatable chorus (Polyphonic Spree-ish). "Rock and Roll Polar Bear" shows off what they can do with acoustic instruments and their White Albumy sense of humor (Danielson-ish).

"F, Monday, Orange..." is the band's first full length attempt at the relationship of sound and color (orange). Catch them on tour, selling their CDs inside vintage books, like "The Abraham Lincoln Joke Book." The truth is, I had no idea of their post-modern attempt to marry sound to color when I saw the band. It didn't matter: their songs speak for themselves as inspired, fun, brit-psych rock. See MP3s below!

Colourmusic - Put in a Little Gas

Colourmusic - Rock and Roll Polar Bear

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Great Big Bushy Beard

J Tillman - Year In The Kingdom - Luxury Wafers Sessions from Luxury Wafers on Vimeo.

Luxury Wafers is lucky enough to host J. Tillman for some exclusive tracks from his new album, Year in the Kingdom. In fact, Luxury Wafers was so enthused at J. Tillman's liveness, that they're going to host his videos all week. If you don't know J. Tillman: his albums are studious and quiet, but live is what your blood needs--it highlights all of the subtleties of his voice. Also some kick ass crashing symbols from his backing band. Head over to the Wafer for the MP3s.

Year in the Kingdom is out now on Western Vinyl.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rock Slide (The RAA)

One of my favorite songs is No Expectations by the Rolling Stones. Like You Can't Always Get What You Want, No Expectations is about bereavement and acceptance. A major life loss that leaves you hollow inside:

"Take me to the station / and put me on a train / I've got no expectations / to pass through hear again"

This is the sentiment of the debut album from The RAA, Hometowns. On Saturday in Dallas, they played a great set, flush with funeral dirge organs, bone cracking drums, and a bunch of stories about how lost lead singer Nils Edenloff is. If you're interested, I wrote a review of the RAA Show on John Iskander's Parade of Flesh (the prolific booker of every good show in Dallas) site. Check it out: here. Otherwise, check out The RAA's new video (and MP3 below) for "Drain the Blood," which is harsh and catchy--like an angry Feist song or something.

The RAA - Drain the Blood

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Local Natives Burn Down Barns

Ed Droste was in a dream I had the other day, after a night dedicated to Call of Duty 2: Modern Warfare. In the dream the sky had that rosy, Cormac McCarthy apocalypse glow, and Droste tossed me a shotgun which I caught & loaded with one hand (CHK-CHK sound). Pretty cool right? Maybe Droste had the same dream........

Weird segue, but I was thinking about Grizzly Bear and Local Natives before I went to sleep because both are so damn good in this 2009 musical-Gorilla Manor is their great debut. Thanks to Jeff Weiss's recent reporting, I can happily sleep apocalypse-less knowing Frenchkiss Records has picked up the Los Angeles based band. Pass me a happy shotgun (That's the same label as The Antlers, Frenchkiss, not Happy Shotgun). Take good care of them, Frenchkiss.

Jeff Weiss's article on Local Natives here (also cop some MP3s); Aquarium Drunkard's LA session here (Dear God good MP3s here too): This year of music is seriously rendering me sleepless. Enjoy the above video of Local Natives playing at Daytrotter's Barnstormer sessions.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Beautiful Star: Songs of Odetta" meets Maine

About forty years ago (wow), Martin Luther King Jr. said Odetta Holmes was "the Queen of American Folk music." So, in this glorious musical year of 2009: UK zine Wears the Trousers has very recently released a tribute to Odetta's beautiful folk sound with the album, "Beautiful Star: Songs of Odetta" (out now on iTunes). I haven't heard the whole collection yet, but the myspace has some stop-you-in-your tracks folk goodness (here).

Artists include Linda Draper, Anais Mitchell, Haunted Stereo, Pepi Ginsberg, and a moving final track by Maine originals Arborea. This youtube video showcases Arborea's version of "This Little Light of Mine," which adds depth and darkness to the early folk sound. What a way to close a tribute.

PS, please listen to Odetta's version of the Rolling Stones "No Expectations" (via Coverlaydown) in the attached Mp3. It's delicate and clarinety and so very overflowing with the essence of folk.

Odetta - No Expectations (cover)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fanfarlo, The Loft: Oh Me Oh My Oh

The lead singer of Fanfarlo sort of looks like Robin Hood. I imagined him off stage riding horses and dropping canvas bags of golden nuggets to hungry hipsters. As a stage presence and musically, Fanfarlo is as red-dot accurate as it gets. The lead singer's name is Simon Balthazar, like something Keanu Reeves fights in Constantine, and he has the offshore vibrato of Zach Condon and a backing band like Arcade Fire. Live, they have richness and a professionalism. Try to see these guys on the road if you can: they have pretty lights behind them, and their music is old-fashioned good. The above posted track really shined, "Ghosts,":

And tell me all the secrets
Of a world you once lived in
That your heart could not swallow
The sky is so shallow

One great thing: when was the last time you saw a lead singer blare clarinet into the microphone?

ps - thanks to whoever posted this video on youtube so fast.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

One of the Best Songs of the Decade is Death Letter

Earlier I was reading a great list of the decade's best music on Fresh Cherries from Yakima, and it reminded of something: I love the White Stripes album De Stijl. Now is a good time to remember it. Somewhere in between Julian Casablancas Phazes for the Young ripping open a portal to remember what garage rock sounded like in the beautiful nostalgia of a couple of years ago, and Dan Auerbach's thor hammer sound is the reminder, "Hey, Jack White knocked over some heads in 2000."

Yes, the albums he made after De Stijl were good, and damn near Zeppelin like. But the shittiest thing about Zeppelin is how they turned to gods of turds after Physical Graffiti. To hear their most raw, bitter as an onion blues sound, you have to listen to their 2 Disc BBC Recordings. It's live, messy, and COVERED in gasoline power. Plant's voice is capable of anything, and Page could blow a window out with his Highlander guitar. I don't think that The White Stripes turned to turds after De Stijl, but I do think that their most unadulterated, exemplary music comes from it.

"De Stijl" is named after a Bau-Hausian art movement, but it's dedicated to blues-gospel artist Son House. He is the author of the original song, "Death Letter," which has been often covered by toothy rock bands like Gov't Mule and John Mellencamp's face, but Jack White's version couldn't better encapsulate the White Stripes contribution to music: hardcore blues rock, faded but spit shined to sound like Zeppelin Live at the BBC (and Son House's amazing song, of course.)

Listen below, and thanks to Fresh Cherries from Yakima for reminding me of how much I love this record.

White Stripes - Death Letter

Monday, November 30, 2009

Though I Have Wronged You: J. Tillman at Hailey's

A guy in front of me at Hailey's is drinking a coffee porter that leaves a chocolate mustache on his beard, and his friend asks: "This dude played with Blitzen Trapper, I liked that a lot. You like them?" The coffee porter dude shrugs and says, "I like everything."

J. Tillman is not for everyone. Take his Shakespearean story of castration in "James Blues" from the 2008 release Vacilando Territory Blues: "Most nights he has dreams all his teeth are missing / Wakes up in a sweat / Simpleton heart racing." This isn't blues; it's clinical depression. Tillman played the song alone on stage for the encore without acknowledging anything around him. There was a sense of anxiety in the room. Depression has always been a trope of folk, but it's hard to find anything that matches J. Tillman's personal torture. "Though I Have Wronged You" was the perfect highlight of Tillman's night (listen to the live track below from Sacramento, CA and you'll get the idea). A soft, almost whispered voice followed closely by a comet clash of drums and gold cymbals: "Though I have wronged you / I was sailed in a river bend / with a cast of spirits from anointed heads."

Josh Tillman is J. Tillman, the drummer for lush folk of Fleet Foxes, and standing alone he couldn't be more powerful and thoughtful. His songs are timid and the stories are thoughtful and dark. On stage he is a intimidating and pious figure, his dark brown hair falls to the length of his beard, and frighteningly taller than most mortal men. To hear his record is a quiet, depressing experience, but to see him live there is somehow a passing sense of brightness. Like he is falling in a burning trail of cymbals and electric guitars.

His new album Year in the Kingdom is out now, buy it: here.

J. Tillman - Though I Have Wronged You

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Neko Case Melts Buildings in Dallas

There was a giant owl behind Neko Case last night in Dallas, TX. When the lights went out, the owl's eyes were yellow and peering into the crowd. Hard not appreciate the metaphor of "soaring birds" when Neko Case sings. Seriously, does anyone sing better? Right now, Middle Cyclone is nested in several "Best of" lists already; Amazon already named it the best of the year. (it's also my personal favorite of the year).

A perfect glimpse of the show last night in the blue, humming Granada: the first song ended and a fan somewhere in the middle of the crowd belted "WOW." It was something everyone felt: "That voice..." She's a life ender voice: "You said I was your blue, blue baby and you were right" She sings with a blast of brightness during "The Pharoahs."

So what do you say about a perfect show? It was no less than everything Neko Case does well--"the boyfriends" (the band) weaving webs of guitar and Case and her backup singer truthfully illuminating everyone in the audience. There were no stuffy, bloated covers or long rock jams. Just folk-rock and Neko's soaring voice. The band finished with a song that was requested live, "Teenage Feeling," and came back for a encore that could melt a building.

"Vengeance is Sleeping" let Neko shine with the wildly capable guitar letting loose like a hundred shooting stars behind her. Middle Cyclone is almost entirely about morphing and incarnation, and listening to the tornado of the guitar, Neko's owl wings flapping over us and into the trees: we were all morphed animals.

Monday, November 23, 2009

All of 2009, pt. 3 (Music Journalism has entered the Bizarro Realm)

The hardest part about this modern transition of music writing going from print --> digital MP3s is the way it gives you pieces of pie, not the whole. An album is meant to devoured in a whole setting with a bucket of coffee. OF COURSE & BUT & ALSO my favorite publications in the world right now are online: Passion of the Weiss is the best hip-hop (and all music) blog in the world, and Aquarium Drunkard has the genius monopoly on good folk. Fuel for Friends is out in the high altitudes and posting chilling music. These are all MP3 blogs that are not to be taken lightly--they are newspapers that happen to be online.

The point is--this digital age of music is a weird oxymoron. Record sales are going up, but papers are declining. It's like something from a DC comic. Where Superman's 'S' is upside down and backwards and Batman is an old man with shingles. The only thing we can do is embrace the tide that's coming to us, and keep making each other bad asses mixes.

No matter what the forum or function. So, for all those who've had a year that's left you with a good cauliflower ear, but nevertheless a Rocky Balboa fist-in-the- air of celebration: let's share the music that made you a person this year. Mine is below, in a little McNuggets version from lala (part three of that, click here for part 2 and part 1). Hope you enjoy!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Final Fantasy & Mountain Goats Live: Ballad of Mario

In October, Owen Pallet posted to his twitter page: "Can't contain it. I just completed 10 days on the best album I've ever had the pleasure of working on."

Speculation was that it was, gasp oh gasp, the new Arcade Fire record that is being secretly passed into master tape form like something Dan Brown will write about. Pallet (of Final Fantasy) is the virtuoso string arranger on AF's records (he frequently performs their song "No Cars Go" live). Last night at the Granada, he abandoned any straps velcroing him to the status of "contributor" to other bands. His fiddle playing was perfect and robust, and his voice hit the ceiling rafters. I don't think I've ever seen a opening band get so much applause. It was just good.

The Mountain Goats are interesting. Each song was draped in Bible verse, and a good ol' fashioned story by lead singer John Darnielle: from the occasional Marioland ballad to songs about three-way love triangles. Their music had a bright and positive spin that was less Christian rock annoyance and more just sing-and-play. If you can't stand the whole singing about God through modern progressive metaphors, a theme Sufjan Stevens enjoys, you may want to just eat a bunch of hot dogs outside. But there's was a surprising lack of "indie" to the Mountain Goats and Final Fantasy. It was more Decemberists-like in pop form, than deeply artful soul searching. The most fun was a ballad dedicated to the "other" Italian Stallion: Mario from nintendo fame. Darnielle sang about Mario's sad red hat, and losing his beloved Peach princess. The rest of the show was just plain wholesome.

Final Fantasy has a new album called Heartland, arriving early next year. The Mountain Goats are touring their new album The Life of the World to Come.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Arborea : Black Mountain Road

Nick Drake's dark gibson guitar pluckings always reminded me of wood. When I hear folk virtuoso J. Tillman these days, I can't help but think of birds in mossy lakes and creeks. There's something primordial about folk these days. Take Arborea, a duo of folk musicians from Maine, and the way greenness comes through these two lush, beautiful MP3s like moss (see below).

I'm from Virginia, so I kept thinking of fireflies in a jar during "Black Mountain Road": beginning with the reverse- footage sounds of banjo, guitar and fiddle; the sound of a train unracing across the tracks: "follow me where the north wind goes / to the end of the black mountain road."

As 2009 is closing up shop, people are making lists. I think one day we will all look back on this decade as a folk revolution that began in the nineties with a host of alt. country-Neil Youngers, and be stunned at the amount of good music that sprung out of the ground. Arborea has a lot going for them this year, with a new album (House of Sticks), a slot at SXSW under the Borne!/Western Vinyl Showcase, and a blog of photography & art (see the attached photo by Arborea member Shanti Curran). Hell yeah to these modern days.

Arborea - Black Mountain Road

Arborea - Beirut

The Antlers Lyrics Or, Holding a Real Album in Your Hands

One thing that sucks about the digital age is the way it lessens the blow of the concept album. Any album is meant to be listened to as a whole, not in digital, web-bite chunks. Don't get me wrong, I live off the steady IV of internet MP3s (and try to dish them out as well), but NOTHING is better than hearing a record spin. You hear the entire album with its natural breaths, like a movie or a book, it's meant to be consumed as a whole. Concept albums like The Antlers Hospice is not meant to broken in digital MP3 shards. It's a weaving story. See the above, scintillating poetry of "Sylvia" from their new album. If you bought the album online, you'd miss these liner notes and the importance of the way these lyrics are printed--formatted and fonted. See below for the download of their entire liner notes & lyrics.

The Antlers: Hospice Liner Notes (PDF)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


This song gives me phantom limb. Hospice is one of my favorite albums of the year for certain, but listen to this haunted, Jeff Buckley-like live version of "Sylvia" by The Antlers:

"Let me do my job / Sylvia get your head out of the oven / go back to screaming and cursing"

As if this album art doesn't challenge Paranormal Activity enough, the live version is the perfect incarnation of the word ghost. You can almost hear the stirred echos of Hallelujah.

(thanks to MusicFile for this MP3)

Sylvia - The Antlers, Live in NYC

PS, you can buy Hospice for 5 bucks in November on Amazon: here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

All of 2009, pt. 2 (Jesus! Look at all the lists!)

To keep on the sunny side and because it's so much fun, I posted a big ol' mix to share what I've listened to (and been listening to) in 2009. Making lists is a soaringly addictive and futile task, no matter if it's Pitchfork, Paste or NPR--I think. Though, I have to state again my love of Aquarium Drunkard's "Decade" feature: it's the most addictive of all the lists (oh s***, I ranked the lists! I'm just as guilty).

My opinion is: new music changes at a time it desires, no matter when it came out. It shows us a new emotion in a volcanic way: at any time it will cease to be dormant, rupture and explode into our minds with an unbelievable brightness. These songs, and the songs from my part one post, are the ones that did it exactly that to me. There is some serious stuff left out; some of it was earth shatteringly new and personal. Like Avi Buffalo, Johan Joannson, or Sigur Ros's unkempt language. Too hard to post everything. Obviously, I would love to hear what you have to think, and what songs changed you. Or what songs you hated. Either one is good & inspiring. See below for the "Lala" mix (you may have to sign up, sorry about that, but too many MP3s to post).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Brendan Benson, Luxury Wafers: Don't Want to Talk

Brendan Benson - Don't Want To Talk - Luxury Wafers Sessions from Luxury Wafers on Vimeo.

Brendan Benson & Luxury Wafers posted a few live sessions that have good bite. To quote LW, "Deceptively simplistic, the melodic structure and meter of Benson's songs ply their way deep as the nursery rhymes we all know by heart."

For me, I grew up surrounded by the Old 97's. It was the polar magnet's other side of the P.O.S. country that flooded North Texas. Benson has the same quality Miller does: simple songs doused in good melodies with no complications. Sort of the opposite of The Antlers, or less worrisome (but just as broken) than Rhett Miller.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Concerts to Make You Bankrupt Report

Bank loans for concerts will be needed. MP3s are attached, listen away!

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, Lola's Saloon, Fort Worth, TX

The Mountain Goats w/ Final Fantasy, Granada Theater, Dallas, TX

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
, Longhorn Saloon, Fort Worth, TX

Neko Case
, Granada Theater, Dallas, TX

J. Tillman, Hailey's, Denton, TX

Fanfarlo, The Loft, Dallas, TX

Rural Alberta Advantage
, The Cavern, Dallas, TX

Thao & Get Down Stay Down - Feet Asleep

Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

Final Fantasy - The Butcher

Jason Isbell & 400 Unit - Seven Mile Island

The RRA - Frank, AB

J. Tillman - Year in the Kingdom

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

El-oh-el-aye Lola la-la-la-la Lola

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down Friday. Lola's Saloon in Fort Worth. Is it required that I wear Larry Mehan's?

Monday, November 9, 2009

All this is what I listened to in 2009, pt. 1

What's going on right now? "Best of" lists surging on the internet like pyroclastic flow from St. Helens...I'm not fighting it. It's just overwhelming. "Best-of" lists are annoying, sometimes exciting, often arbitrary to the point of madness, and truly addicting as hell. Some days I find myself neck deep in them online, trying to pin-point the method to these lists. It really is exhausting. All of these bands & musicians that have released good, bad, and very disgusting music across the decade (and for this post's purposes, 2009) are different. Their music is original--in that they made it over a period of time, and than a record company put it out. So, really, the date it came out is completely arbitrary. How many writers wrote some of this decade's best music BEFORE this decade? Or on a napkin four years before it actually came out?

For sanity's sake in lists, I am enjoying the hell out of Aquarium Drunkard's "Decade" feature: contributors post albums that meant a lot to them over the past decade. Bands like My Morning Jacket, New Pornographers and the Microphones have come up. It's about sharing and the excitement to discuss music that changed their lives. It's not for ranking, numbers or social marketing.

So my hope is that I can come close to that notion with a mix of music that really changed me, helped me, made me weak, made me strong, angry, and more upset than ever. I'm sure for many people 2009 was a holy-fucking-shit year, new Presidents and falling economy's all abound, but below is a "Lala" mix of what made me a person this year, part one. These are the songs I listened to this year that will stay with me, probably forever, and embed themselves into my daily consciousness from now on. I'm not saying anything my choices are important or worthy of some anthology: I just want to share what means a lot to me. This is the first mix of three (arbitrarily), and, as best as I can do--they're in 19 tracks, no rank or order other than what I thought sounded good.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dear Death: Hey What's Going On

Dear Death,

Hey! The worst feeling in the world you gave us is to dream during a high fever. I fell asleep once with one a 103 and one of those waterfall-rock tumblers running- the sensation still leaves the taste of copper in my mouth of dread, fear and night terrors as sharp as teeth. The Antlers know what the hell I'm talking about. This is from their song "Shiva" (see attached).

"My femur was breaking was breaking in half / the sensation was scissors and too much to scream"

Yikes! A wise man once said, there is nothing darker and lonelier than a fever. You feel nails on dry wall, cotton in the mouth. If that's true, tonight's Antlers show in Fort Worth, Texas will induce an increase in body temperature. Can't wait.

PS, listen to The Antlers Daytrotter session and feel yourself wriggle.

The Antlers - Shiva (Daytrotter Session)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Stevie Wonder -Live on Sesame Street

Stevie Wonder - “Superstition” (Live on Sesame Street)

Posted using ShareThis

Goodbye Big Bird, Happy Anniversary Sesame Street and God Bless Funk in early 70's Stevie Wonder.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lambert's BBQ'd Molina & Johnson

Want to get a bourbon with your BBQ? I prefer Texas BBQ for that reason, you can get bourbon, thick brisket, fried pickles and a serious dose of live music. Big Texas Sky music. Also in the nothing-could-be-more-Texan category: Molina & Johnson of Secretly Canadian are on a wicked tour of the US, ending at Lambert's BBQ in Austin Texas. Their new album is solid with guitars and rattlesnake egg-shakers. It's a fun album to sit back and let play with friends & beer, or at least that's what I thought I should do. Really it was me with glasses on, a green iced tea, and iPod headphones, quietly whispering along.

"Granted that I ever, ever stop playing to win / could you find it in the cards to bring me to the light / and then Texas said to West Virginia wind / come get in" (from Almost Let You In)

Here's a new track from their album Molina & Johnson, out Nov. 2nd.

Molina & Johnson - Almost Let You In

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ballad of A Well Known Gun

One of the most underrated albums from the 1970's is Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection, themed with golden American West. It had no charted singles because it wasn't that kind of album. The six minute masterpiece, "My Fathers Gun" is one of the better examples of Bernie Taupin's storytelling and Elton John's ability to find melodies. I come back to this album a few times a year, when it's spring-feeling outside. It's cathartic and heartwarming. I found this amazing live performance on youtube (see above), which forces my mind to wish I was alive in 1970, when Elton made an amazing spirited album run that included Tumbleweed Connection, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Don't Shoot the Piano Player and Captain Fantastic. Damn.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Yeasayer: Ambling Alp

Yeasayer's myspace describes their music as "Enya with Bounce." If you've seen Yeasayer live in the past few years, after the release of their excellent 2008 album All Hour Cymbals, then I'm betting you've bounced. You would have also heard the track they just released recently online, "Ambling Alp," a bit of late 80's meets East Asia pop song. It's got the reverb, watery snare drums, TV on the Radio harmonies, and the precise production of a pop song that's been traveling on the road for a few years. As MOKB reports, Memory Tapes are attached to the single release for a remix, coming out Nov. 3rd.

"Stick up for your sister / nevermind what anybody else does"

Download the track below by putting in your email:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Family Band, Dallas TX

In the rainy street outside the Granada theater in Dallas, the Family Band wears high-chested band uniform shirts and thunders on drums. A mostly drunk man is handed a large egg shaker, thrusting his wrist up & down like he's lifting a dumbbell.

Inside the theater, Blind Pilot lead singer Israel Nebeker is talking about how his song "Three Rounds and a Sound," is a breakup song. He stops, whispers nervously into the mic,

"If you can listen to the Dallas Family Band outside, they're really special." (I'm paraphrasing: I was too busy clapping and wondering who the hell the Dallas Family Band was.)

So the show ends and we walk outside - and there's the Family Band, four bearded dudes in tiny band uniform shirts with big brass button snaps, along members of the Low Anthem, playing street folk. According to the Dallas Family Band's Myspace:

"we are convinced that everyone has something good to offer. dallas family band is composed of the city's finest and lowest. in the streets, in ever-growing numbers, crowded into tiny corners, and cropping up in unusual places– we'll see each other soon."

So that's it. They play street music, and hand instruments to whoever's willing to play. Worth stopping and listening to, and definitely picking up an egg shaker. I would post an MP3, but I'm guessing that's not how they want to be heard. Also, how the hell do find an Mp3 of a band that plays on the street?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Throw Your Pennies

Port O'Brien tambourined up The Cavern in Dallas last night, under some golden lamps. Before O'Brien though, was the perfect and bandless Sara Lov (pic from LA Weekly). She was lacking her fellow bandmates, so Sea Wolf stepped up, and it sounded nothing less than beautiful. From fountain:

"Fountain, fountain we are the same / you with the water / me with the pain"

A Christmas-light-lit record player suitcase, like the one the Flight of the Conchords play with, was her backing band for the rest of the evening.

The most striking was her closing cover of "My Body is a Cage" by Arcade Fire. Honestly, I have a hard time listening to Arcade Fire's Neon Bible. Funeral has some knock-back tracks, like "Haiti" and "Rebellion (Lies)" is illuminating live. But Sara Lov's cover of "My Body is a Cage" is better than the Neon Bible version without question. Wonderful, take a listen below.

Sara Lov - My Body is a Cage

Sara Lov - Fountain

Home I'll Never Be

Tonight at the Granada Theater in Dallas with Blind Pilot. Hell yes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thank You Good Records

Not so much music news as it is shameless self promotion, but I'm very excited: Good Records in Dallas, TX is now selling my magazine, John Asparagus. People that don't live in Dallas should know that Good Records is one of the best music stores in the US of A, if there was a poll it should be voted as so: they have absolutely killer in-stores, a brand-spanking-new Vinyl focused second story that will make you drool, and a record label. Also it's owned by Tim Delaughter, creator of the Polyphonic Spree. What's better than that?

Thanks to Neal Pickle and Mark Church at Good Records for the support. Location: Good Records is located at 1808 Lower Greenville Ave. in Dallas, TX.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tallest Man on Earth: I Want You (Daytrotter Session)

My honest admittance is I ignored Bob Dylan for the hype until college. I heard things, like Rainy Day Women #12 and 35 during New Years Eve parties at my parents house (drunken, nostalgic 40 year olds?)

So my freshman year, after listening to Nada Surf's song "Blonde on Blonde" from their album Let Go extensively, seeing the movie High Fidelity, and watching all of Cameron Crowe's music-documentary-movies, I finally bought Blonde on Blonde.

"I Want You" is easily one of the most beautiful & simple love songs ever written. So I couldn't refuse to repost this Daytrotter Session of the Tallest Man on Earth covering Dylan. By the way, if you haven't seen Tallest Man on Earth / Kristian Matsson live, in a small bar, you haven't really seen him. Absolutely silencing. Stunning.

Tallest Man on Earth (Daytrotter) - I Want You

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

American Roots

The Low Anthem - "This God Damn House" - HearYa Live Session 8/9/09 from on Vimeo.

One of my favorite albums of the year is Oh My God Charlie Darwin by the Low Anthem. Recently, I was reading The Road, and OMGCD became a cathartic release after the dismal tide of Cormac McCarthy. Also, the entire album sounds like gravel, sunshine, and wheat fields. My point is - this Hear Ya live session is wonderful. It's all in the lyrics for "Ticket Taker."

"Now they say the sky's the limit, but the sky's about to fall / down come all them record books cradle and all / they say before he bit it that the boxer felt no pain / somewhere there's a gamblin' man with a ticket in the rain"

I feel like the best way to put the feeling of this album is it reminds you of the roots of America. Thanks to Hear Ya for posting this beautiful session.

Low Anthem - Ticket Taker

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Are you Shy or What?

Last night at the Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas, I got yelled at by the former singer of Mazzy Starr. Not me personally, but we all did. Notoriously shy lead singer and band leader Hope Sandoval, of Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions, had a problem with the talking. Behind a projection of milky stars and whipping colors - occasionally, an abstract image like lava spewing from fingernails - she whispered,

"Is it unreasonable to ask for you all to be quiet? It's amplified on stage, I can hear everything."

So the rest of the show, every time there was a break, the audience HUSHED and SHUSHED. They clapped her back for an encore. It was deserved. Her blend of ethereal pop and caramelized guitar (like a less surfy Beach House), sounded great at Sons of Hermann. Whenever she broke out her harmonica, I got tall neck hairs. She can make a harmonica sound like it was not meant to be sawed. Her backing band of stocky, long stringy haired, chin-bearded white men, played well to Hope's tinking bells.

As this was my first real experience of Hope's music, all the songs blended together like molasses, and I found myself not paying attention to the lyrics specifically, but to the abstract images projected behind her and the lullabying music. It's a solid show worth seeing, if you can stifle the talking. You don't want to get lambasted by the lead singer of the band you paid to see.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Road

Maybe it's because I'm reading the book now and can't get gray ash out of my head, but this theme Nick Cave & Warren Ellis wrote for The stunning. It's the sound of bleakness. If you close your eyes for a minute, you can actually SEE bombs falling on everything. You can hear "the end." Saw the post on GVB, and haven't been able to stop listening.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Neon Indian: Everyone's Loving if They Don't Already and They Should Because It's Got That Kind of Album Quality and It's Got Electric Noise Album

Chances are you've heard a lot of bands like NEON INDIAN's new PYSCHIC CHASMS recently (somewhere in between Ratatat and Animal Collective's Sung Tongs). As Pitchfork put in their pleased review,"Like a low-rent Daft Punk, Palomo takes what 1990s rock fans probably would've considered cheesy-- LinnDrum and Oberheim rhythms, Chromeo-plated electro-funk Korg riffs, processed party-vocal samples-- and not only makes them part of a distinct artistic vision, but also keeps them fun." So, it's hipster album. Yet, the presentation is unpretentious. I think the worst thing to do in this age of music, when there is truly a truckload of talent out there, to dismiss something that's cool or popular, just because it is so. I bring it up because when listening to the album, it's hard to not to imagine it as that album.

"Deadbeat Summer" opens the album like the credits of a teenage John Cusack film (where you see him with big glasses on, drinking at a high school party) and is so charmingly low-fi as it repeats "Deadbeat summer / It's just a deadbeat summer" that it's hard to find anything to dislike. It really feels like summer. "Mind, drips" opens with a rip of electronic noise and beats on like a child of the Terminator Soundtrack and an 8 bit game; "Pyschic Chasms" has those echoey drum-kit beats; "Local Joke" opens with a constellation of noise. It reminds me of fireworks.

The straightforward, if not dismissive, review is that Pyschic Chasms is a great album, with memories of the 80's. You'd have to be deaf not to hear and feel it. But, I do feel this is more than a party album, more than something you put on in the background. It's full of feel-goodedness, a lightning bolt into a world of malaise-filled, cynical rock. In the grandaddy's of electronic, nostalgic noise, I feel sometimes heavy with apocalyptic Radiohead and the blues. It's welcome to hear Neon Indian's break from the world, from the politics, and to just eat a hot-dog in celebration of summer and watch Real Genius.

Neon Indian - 6669

Neon Indian - Deadbeat Summer

Pyschic Chasms is out now on Lefse records.

BUY - emusic : insound

Friday, October 9, 2009

J. Tillman, Music for the Elves

Remember that scene in Lord of the Rings, when Frodo and Sam stumble upon the Elves leaving Middle Earth, moving fluidly in blue light? I imagine them listening to J. Tillman. His woody, dark, Gibson guitar that has Nick Drake's blood in it, his earthy voice and lyrics of heavenly love are unblinkingly pretty. I feel blue light on my face listening to it, like watching elves.

His newest album, Year in the Kingdom, opens with the track of the same name:

"What comfort used to pass my days / before you shook the cold from me"

It's the best song on the album, and proves he is a vastly humble and underappreciated folk artist. Folk artist has a new meaning these days, but J. Tillman's music is natural and deep, almost primordial. His influences often seem less Nick Drake or Neil Young, more the woods, the birds and the moss.

As nerdy as it sounds, there is something in this album that makes you feel like you're leaving [Middle]Earth. Like a slow ascension into heaven:

"Though the spirit and the truth abide / when you stir throughout the wakeless night / stir and sigh"

This from "Earthly Bodies": a song invoking the torrid metaphor of the scape of the Earth being like the human form. It's shockingly old-school and beautiful. All this is to say: don't underestimate the drummer from Fleet Foxes, he's got some serious chops. He's seasoned and dark. In my imagination, I imagine him playing in a park by himself, but hopefully his shows are just as quiet and scintillating.

Year in the Kingdom is out now on Bella Union.

J. Tillman - Though I have Wronged You

J. Tillman - Year in the Kingdom

Review: The Soft Pack, The Cavern Dallas (A Note to Concert Apologizers)

Distractions at a concert are common. Hopefully the band is good enough to reign in your attention away from the drunk people in the back speaking so loud they cut through the cymbals, or the really drunk people who are dancing sloppily in the front. In this case, for me, it was the obnoxious, orange bearded dude next to me who couldn't stop apologizing to the band:

"Sorry Dallas sucks man, Austin is way better," repeated this dude, perhaps so drunk on the hipster notion that the current city he was standing in sucks that he missed some of the show. To keep things kosher and pleasant, this dude bought the entirety of The Soft Pack a round of whiskey shots. The band was so full of mirth and excitement from the prospect of shots, they continued to play their instruments!

So, The Soft Pack played uncaring, having a California blast. Their mix of surfer garage rock and macabre punk sounded good in the Cavern. It was hard and crisp and loud, like biting into a big damn apple: Matt Lamkin tossed his microphone about, a cocktail in one hand, Matty McLoughlin's guitar was sharp. I normally try to get lost in the lyrics, but I was transfixed by the bassist and drummer - David Lantzman and Brian Hill had some serious fun game.

It was a good rock show. At times, I found myself lost in the distractions, as can be a drawback with post-punk that some of The Soft Pack songs drone on in the same dark riff. They really stood out when the mood changed - A high pitched electric guitar riff indicated they were going to play "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," but then blended it with The Doors "Mojo Rising." The mood shifted to songs about love :"Beside Myself" showed their more-fun, Strokes side, and had some killer drums. They got into it, danced, and the bassist unleashed some John-Paul- Jones stuff. The annoying dude who wouldn't shut up, the one who got massive friend approval from buying the band a round of shots, kept apologizing for some reason, and The Soft Pack played on.

After the show, I asked the guitarist, Matt McLoughlin about playing live in Texas: "It's really fun man, we had a great time." Note to that dude & crowd apologizers - if you're going to apologize to the band for the crowd, don't have you, your friends, and your beard in it. It just kills the fun man.

The Soft Pack, previously known as The Muslims, are on to Austin, TX to play with Wavves.

The Soft Pack - Beside Myself

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Stunning Dawn

The first cut of Let It Be was live from a chilly roof top, and for the longest time it was my favorite Beatles album. I think it was that killer, head-rearing guitar Harrison played on Let It Be (the song). Somehow it wasn't as electric as Let It Be "Naked," weirdly titled because - what's more naked than a live show? (Well, Phil Spector was there...)

My point is - it's exciting to hear a band perform their music live-to-tape. That's what Dawes does, and it couldn't sound better. God, I can't stop listening to this song - That Western Skyline - it's so wounded, so full of sun-setting soul that I'm dying of beautiful pain listening to it:

"So I followed her here to Birmingham / Where the soil is so much richer"

Watch this youtube video (be easier if people WEREN'T TALKING), and try to tell the difference between that and the attached track - there is no difference. Because they do it live and raw and hurting. Love it.

North Hills, Dawes newest album, is out now on ATO Records.

That Western Skyline

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rain Songs

If you're living in a city that actually has seasons, then fall is here. There's gloomy skies, good smelling pumpkins, and rain songs. I remember where I was when I heard Houses of the Holy, and the way Rain Song sounded actually like...rain.

Since Texas this week is all gray and static sky, I think it's a good time for some rain songs. Would love to hear what people think on this - Do rain songs have to be sad? Do rain songs MAKE you sad? What came first (in the chicken or the egg sense): the rain give you the blues, or did the song? Does "Buckets of Rain" make you want to patch up the holes in your roof? (It's more of a summer song, really).

I think good blues songs look for environmental reasons to be sad, so rain is perfect. What do you think of my selection?

Jeff Buckley - Lover You Should Have Come Over

Kettering - The Antlers

Yr Rt - No One & the Nobodies

Led Zeppelin - Rain Song

Cotton Jones - Gone the Bells

My Morning Jacket - I Will Sing You Songs

A.A. Bondy - Of the Sea

J. Tillman - Though I Have Wronged You

Low Anthem - OMGCD

Monday, October 5, 2009

Megafaun with Bon Iver, Steel Guitar, Fog

So I guess Megafaun showed up...

"Come on ease your mind / oh come on ease your worried mind."

Now I can.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

You're Not at Austin City Limits, Day 3

First of all - did anyone see Bon Iver's disturbingly, hipstery-good set yesterday? It was raining, like when Bush went hardcore and almost died playing Glycerine except Bon Iver laid down soft, whispery & blessed Winsconsin folk, and there were some beautiful steel guitars. Nice work, rain.

Streaming: here.


Grizzly Bear openers HERE WE GO MAGIC - 1:15 PM CT


Yes, the Toadies - 4:oo PM CT

The Dead Weather - 9:00 PM CT

*In case you missed it, here's the ACL digital sampler: link.

Something out of Steinbeck

LA Weekly & Times writer Jeff Weiss posted Fairfield's sizzling banjo-ed video and the story of Tompkins Square's new compilation over at Passion of the Weiss. This video...It was the first time I clicked through to youtube hoping for millions of views. I'm massively looking forward to Jeff's forthcoming piece on Fairfield (read his recent post and take those glorious MP3s: here).

Tompkins Square describes their new 3 disc compilation, Fire in My Bones, as "raw," "distorted," and "might sound a bit strange": "This is gospel - which we must always remember translates as "the good news" - as it has been sung and performed in tiny churches and large programs, from rural Georgia to urban Los Angeles. It is clearly among the most vibrant, playful, beautiful and emotionally charged music in the world."

It's no question Fairfield will live well on this label. Or, you can also find him playing in front of Amoeba Records like it's 1911, at Sausage Grinders in vintage bars, Gospel Churches, tin can at the he's some sort of invention of Steinbeck.

Fairfield's debut is out now via Tompkins, and look for Fire in My Bones and Jeff's article on Fairfield soon.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

You're Not There for Austin City Limits, Day 2

In dedication to "Chicken Shit Bingo," Amy's ice cream, fajitas at Gueros, and all of those brilliant damn vintage record stores - Austin's humid music festival continues to stream live, here.

Morning Schedule - Saturday 10/3!

11:45 AM CT- Los Angeles Rolling Stoners - The Henry Clay People (w/ fellow Los Angeles Spacelander Marvelous Toy)

Henry Clay People - End of an Empire from LaundroMatinee on Vimeo.

12:30 PM CT - Alberta Cross

1:15 PM CT - Felice Brothers folkin' it, A.A. Bondy style.

Bon Iver tonight!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Forget the Alamo Streaming

Honest-to-goodness streaming of Austin City Limits is going on here, here, and here.

Right now 2:37 PM CST - The Avett Brothers roaring banjos and shame, shame, shame. (here)

Right now 4:00PM CST - Dr. Dog's nostalgic, bright rock.

Andrew Bird tonight!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

3 Insanely Good Live Videos, No Amps (Thanks NPR)

Just Live Videos, No Target

Does anyone else feel weird about Pearl Jam having a Target commercial? Exclusive content at Target? Weirder that the ad ran before The Antlers video on Pitchfork: TV. So I stopped it, and listened to this NPR gem instead. Far better than the studio cut, I think, "Two" is sweeter than the rest of darkness of "Hospice" (listen to "Kettering" below). Plus, their crystalline, opening guitar comes out nice and pretty in this video. Buy "Hospice," and think about your death.

The Antlers - Kettering

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gustav Klimt This

My art history teacher had a beautiful description for Gustav Klimt's, The Kiss: it's an overwhelming fusion of two bodies, a meeting so strong the bodies combine into one mosaic of sadness, subversion and disfigurement. It's a wonderful piece of artwork, and evokes MUCH more when you listen to beautiful folk.

It's a fleeting glimpse of The Middle East, but these guys play starry, firecracking stuff. Of course, this is from the lonely two songs and accompanying animated video on their Myspace. They're somewhere in there with Nick Drake & Stuart Murdoch's latest stuff, but have strong individuality. News and MP3s are leaking from Melbourne, but watch out for their new EP, Recordings of the Middle East, to hit on October 27th. Right in time for the golden pumpkins, same color as their Klimt-like album cover. (download the MP3s below)

The Middle East - Blood

The Middle East - The Darkest Side

Monday, September 28, 2009

Best Argument for Wish You Were Here

The award for best article saying "Wish You Were Here" without actually saying it goes to Pop & Hiss (click for the article), for the aching jealousy I got reading about Bon Iver's sunrise set at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Sunday. Here's to me hoping someone posts the youtube video of "Re: Stacks" in the peach haze of the LA morning...

Randall Roberts at the LA Weekly said this:

"Bon Iver walked out into the darkness after a collection of Buddhist monks chanted a blessing, and the music began. "Sold my cold knot/A heavy stone,"* sang Vernon," and the thousands whispered silently along with words they'd long ago memorized. The sky seemed way too close. The palm trees looked Vaselined. Bon Iver appeared to be a dream."

Damn. Wish I was there.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Big Sur Don't Burn Down

Hosted in the piny woods, people with beards play good music. J. Tillman specifically, who's wintery album 2009 album, Vacilando Territory Blues, still aches to listen to (in a damn good way). This video, however, is from his newer album, Year in the Kingdom, that just hit stores with that fresh mint smell on Tuesday. From a first listen (thanks to Aquarium Drunkard), it sounds like another cut of stunning, Keatsian (O Romanticism!) lyrics and harmonies...dear GOD, the harmonies. Don't know about you, but my knees are all buttery.

J Tillman - Though I Have Wronged You

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