Thursday, May 28, 2009

Austin is the Best Music City

Dana Falconberry, which is the greatest name ever, performed for Laundromatinee. Recently the Austin Chronicle named her the Top Female Vocalist, and having been blown away by this scintillating, jaunty, strange folk-blues tale about a magical woman named Anna Marie - I definitely see why.

According to Laundromatinee, "This Spring, Dana stopped by The Laundromatinee, touring in support of the album and playing in various vintage clothing stores throughout the Midwest and South."

Hard not to like someone who plays wild goosebump-hair folk in vintage clothing stores in the breadbasket. One of her new songs is called "The Possum Song" (temporary), and according to the video is about the Possums that live in her walls:

"I am not at all by myself / How could I become lonesome / So many songs sung for me"

Her album, "Oh Skies of Grey" came out in 2008.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Neko Case was live on Canada's CBC Radio3 Sessions, singing her latest tracks from Middle Cyclone. Aquarium Drunkard posted the full radio session, but I had to re-post the brilliant and sad "Middle Cyclone" track. It will turn your insides to custard.

Neko Case CBC Radio 3 Sessions - Middle Cyclone

Avi Buffalo, Last Night at the Echo

No one shut up. Whatever, it's a great bar that serves pizza and Pabst Blue Ribbon. Very solid finishing show. Avi Buffalo has an interesting look - something like your next door neighbor's kid who kicks a ball in your backyard all the time, and carries a wicked electric guitar.

They played some beautiful and crisp songs, harmonies as good as anyone, but their last song was the one that blew my socks off - it was somewhere in between Wilco's Misunderstood and Sounds of Silence (and something else completely original).

I didn't realize before, but Avi Buffalo can wail. Listen to the electric guitar on the track I'm posting.

The driving piano surged, and Avi let his guitar loose in controlled bursts - ending in a clash bang of sounds that sounded like an extra track on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Maybe I have Wilco on the brain the last few days (RIP Jay Bennett...), but his rough shout to the crowd and the skittering guitar was as solid as it gets at the Echo.

"All this time to die / Too much time to die / And I don't want to die"

Avi Buffalo - Where's Your Dirty Mind

Wilco - Misunderstood

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

R.I.P. Jay Bennett

Sad, sad news. Without a doubt, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot changed my life (so did Being There, so did Summer Teeth, so did the Mermaid Avenue Sessions). It certainly turned an already great band into a mystically great band - whether their relationship with Bennett was good or bad. Thanks to Ryan over at Muzzle of Bees for posting this video, it's one of my favorite Wilco songs ever.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Henry Clay People on the Silverlake Steps

Silverlake Steps - The Henry Clay People - "Hand On My Shoulder" from We Listen on Vimeo.

The Henry Clay People are going to blow up. Autumn Tone was genius for picking them up. They are genuine rock band, and in the next few months they're going to prove it at Sasquatch and ACL. This video exemplifies the best quality - their love of early country-honk Rolling Stones.

"You put one hand on my shoulder / We could be together"

It's got that timelessness that is so good about feel-good rock. In other words, this is great.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Iron and Sweet Sweet Jesus Wine

This video blew me away. Last year, my friends and I saw Sam Awesome-Beard-Beam at Lollapalooza. It was so loud the guitar blew my pants right off. This just occurred again. If you find yourself, like me, going "WHERE CAN I GET THIS SONG" - you can right now. It came out yesterday on Sub Pop (man they are kicking ass lately?)

Lots of good new music this week. New Jarvis Cocker, New Jason Lytle.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Album Review: Yours Truly, The Commuter - Jason Lytle

A few years ago, the nuclear bomb was invented. Some beat poets in New York and the California coast were disturbed by this and wrote about it - the drunken warmth of a world ending blast, the despair and masochism America showed by building such horror.

I'm not sure if it's Global Warming, George Bush, Swine Flu or something else nightmarish, but the lyricism in the apocalypse has returned. The sweetness-of-being- in-the-ground is present in so many great folk-rock musicians right now (the ones who give a damn about writing). So, Jason Lytle's new beautiful and melodically surreal solo CD, Yours Truly, The Commuter, came out today.

It's a wonderful sequel to Sophtware Slump, and has all the suicidal sweetness. The sounds of a snow crash. It opens with simple, symphonic beats, something like - the soul leaving the body upon death and floating into outer space...

"Last thing I heard I was left for dead / Well I could give two shits about what they said"

The sentiment is: I don't care, I'm dead and it's beautiful. Hell yeah. One of the more mainstream tracks, "Brand New Sun" is about the nuclear end of all the things and the resigned beauty in watching the radioactive "new sun."

Like "Underneath the Weeping Willow" from Sophtware Slump, or Radiohead's "Let Down," there is no dread. Just acceptance. Also, like those songs, Lytle has a wonderful ear for electronic melody. Yours Truly pushes on painfully, almost drearily, with heavy, coarse guitar in "It's the Weekend," -

"Today is the day / It's the Weekend / It's here Saturday / It's the Weekend"

It's feigned happiness, but that's fine. I like when Jason Lytle is sad - because it's gorgeous. The album is out now on iTunes, and I'm sure everywhere where good record stores curate their stuff.

Jason Lytle - Brand New Sun

Grandaddy - Underneath the Weeping Willow

Radiohead - Let Down

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Album Review: Roman Candle - Oh Tall Tree in the Ear

Since I'm from Texas, Roman Candle is the music I should have been dancing to at the high school prom. Forget that schlock they play with simple, bump beats and thoughtless lyrics. I'll tomahawk my head to some old-fashioned heartbreak and anthem & Springsteen rock.

Sure, Skip Matheny's vocals are not sexy, but when you're in the blistering southern heat - which is the best way to listen to Roman Candle (think a glass of Jack Daniels and a pool) - who needs over-heated, inflamed, DUMB dance music.

The album opens with a country thunderbolt, the confident and beautiful "Eden Was a Garden." There's no saucy intro that feeds into four minutes of guitar, just straight-foward storytelling. It's loneliness in a town so hot it's desolate -

"Just the other night the clocks were moving awful slow / I heard a woman's voice coming up from the stairs below"

AH, Can you taste the whiskey? Or something like Last Picture Show in North Carolina? By default, they've been compared to Dylan - but Roman Candle is more like Jesse Malin. More Born to Run. They're modern. It's cool, they can be Dylan. They have a harmonica.

In one of the best tracks, "Big Light," Roman Candle rips open up true to their name. It starts with the sad, beer-on-wood guitar - "Sometimes I get a little lost" - but becomes lush and beautiful to the likeness of Wilco (in "Being There" clothes), "let me know if the big light is shining on me / some nights when the wind is blowing soft / it's been so long since a drink filled my head"

It's medicinal. I was so shocked by how damn precise (the perfect acoustic guitars, the invigorating drums) this album was that I almost missed the power of the last track, "Early Aubade."

An Aubade is a poem for two lovers separating at dawn. "I guess it's time to go," Skip sings, with simultaneous optimism and reluctance. I guess that's how I felt leaving the album. An "exhale" and and a love-struck burst. Are the two lovers, possibly harmonized about the entire album, getting back together? Are they moving on? If Ryan Adams album Gold is a country sonnet, than Roman Candle is full-on heartbreak immersion. I'm not moving on.

Roman Candle - Why Modern Radio is A-OK

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Night Swimming

Great Lake Swimmers - Your Rocky Spine from LaundroMatinee on Vimeo.

I'm not sure what to think of this song. Romantic poetry is long dead, right? Is it still cool to write about a woman's hips being like "running your hands over mountains to glaciers"? It's not illicit or wholly captivating. Except, every time Band of Horses sing about the night moon over the pine, or R.E.M.'s clavinets hum like junebugs, or Great Lake Swimmers sing BEAUTIFULLY and damn near PERFECTLY about sex I go little soft in the knees.

I guess I answered my own question. Great Lake Swimmers is a good folk band. They are sometimes poetic, more times beautiful, and occasionally soporific - I go back and forth. Check them out live, and hear the audience silence when they sing. It's because the lead singer sings delicately enough to break a light bulb. Their newest album is out now, called Lost Channels.

Great Lake Swimmers - Pulling on a Line

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Concert Review: Danielson & Marvelous Toy

Danielson & Marvelous Toy at Spaceland last night. Lately, eccentricity in rock & folk has taken a center seat (on the big music stage?)- with bands like Deerhoof, Plants & Animals, Andrew Bird and Polyphonic Spree. There's intelligence to all these bands that goes beyond the rock label, and in this vein, Danielson doesn't disappoint.

The show took off to a good start with a bright-as-vinegar-version of "Cast it At the Setting Sail." It helped that the volume at Spaceland was enough to break the mirrors. But like any multi-piece band, they should be played loud. The only thing missing from the song was that elvish flute.

The band rarely peaked from this track, but maintained a consistency in power. Everyone talks about energy in a singer's performance, but Danielson is too ensembled to focus on one person. If you're worried about who's who at a Danielson show, there's little concern, they arrive on stage wearing what is best described as Czech police uniforms (complete with nametags.)

Honestly, it's refreshing to see a band singing with a sense of optimism. Think Polyphonic Spree with less Jesus. Each song was well paced and fervent enough to hold a danceless, hipster Los Angeles audience.

Marvelous Toy can be described somewhere in between Okkervil River and Guster (it helps the lead singer is bushy haired like Guster and just as depressed). Indie people squirm I'm sure at the reference, but lush pop like Marvelous Toy has so many reference points. Plus, you're reading a post from a kid who went to school on college rock like Ben Harper and David Gray.

"Waiting for the Fire" was the band's highlight as well as a powerfully fun piano ballad "When the Lights Go On." Speaking of kinetic energy, Marvelous Toy has it, but can't seem to find a genre for themselves. Glockonspiels and Steel guitars are sometimes weird in the same set. Not that eclectic music isn't celebrated, but this seems like a band still searching for their voice.

Danielson - Cast it At the Setting Sail

Marvelous Toy - Waiting for the Fire

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Album Review: Pink Mountaintops - Outside Love

This album sounds like a thunderstorm.

If Black Mountain was influenced by Dark Side of the Moon and Zeppelin III, than Stephen McBean's alternate dimension band, Pink Mountaintops is straight from the post-grunge of the 90's. Is it cliche to bring up Seattle?

I would cringe myself, except "While We Were Dreaming" and "Axis Thrones of Love" sound like something out of the rainy city - in that way that makes you want to ride the subway in the cold and never exit. There was the teenager part of me that thought of driving to high school with "I Got You Where I Want You" on the radio. But let's not focus on that:

"If winter's could kill / And this was the one / that drove you screaming / Right back to where you belong"

The most interesting thing about Outside Love is the way it manipulates typical Romantic imagery into a heavy, fizzing, drunken rock. You can almost feel the drugs sluicing through your veins. It's got a sense of humor about it - the album begins with a question, "How deep is your love?" Which the singer asks while wailing about the blow-up girl he's fingering: "Mine was cheap and made of plastic / And full of holes to stick fingers"

But then it elevates the whole show. It takes it higher - to the mystical, stormlessness of heaven. "And I Thank You" (organ and Irish cheer reminiscent of Zeppelin's first album track Thank You)

"I ain't living no long lonesome nights / I've stopped calling that woman my wife / I see light at the end of this storm leading home"

So this is a whole new meaning to suicide. It's beautiful, almost neoclassical. Outside love ends the love novel with "Closer to Heaven" - a beautiful and huge stroke finish.

"I sent you a rose / Electrically wired / When things burn this brightly / Don't let them explode"

Epic. Here's one thing Outside Love is not: lonely. If there's something refreshing it's the spirituality that is so painfully lacking in folk (everyone is lonely and beer soaked).

One other thing: if this is making fun of love songs, than what is this album? To me, it's beautiful and symmetrical - something echoing and cold, somewhere in between sailing and suicide. The verses are as big as Pink Floyd, but the guitar buzzes in long, whining surges like something dirty and grungy. This is high-heavenly, and it's solid as a rock.

Pink Mountaintops - Vampire

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pink Mountaintops - Outside Love (Tomorrow)

The most underrated CD of last year was Black Mountain's night-moon-rock CD In the Future. Tomorrow, one of the Black Mountain guys, Stephen McBean, is releasing "Outside Love" under the name Pink Mountaintops. It's from the label jagjaguwar, and according to them, it is "ten songs of love and hate that read like a Danielle Steele romance novel but that would probably make for bad television."

A full review will come tomorrow, but if you go to their record page you can download a few songs. "Vampires" and "While We Were Dreaming" are both beautifully classic - a bit of 70's and a dose of the good kind of R.E.M.-esque 80's.

Black Mountain - Stay Free

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dinosaur Jr. - I Want You to Know

Dinosaur Jr. is giving away a free track from their upcoming album, Farm. First of all, the band should win some sort of excellence-in-album art award (their previous album Green Mind features a young girl posing and smoking the same way a woman at Woodstock would). So something's going on with this band.

It would be dismissive to throw them away with discussions of post-90's (back off STP fans) grunge and rock. This is classical. The distorted guitars are more whiskey soaked than grunge. Much less heroin. More smokey bars. I'm just taking a stab, but these guys would be criminal to miss live. For those in Los Angeles, they'll be at the Troubadour on June 22nd.

Dinosaur Jr. - I Want You to Know

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