Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wilco the Bull Black Nova (Live at the Greek)

In 2003, Wilco played a tiny show in Dallas at the Gyspy Tea Room. The venue was small and burning-hot with sweaty Son Volt lovers. Bearded roadies were roaming the stage with fingerless gloves. Wilco played a set, and came back for an encore. I'd never seen an encore at the Gyspy Tea Room, never seen one since. It wasn't ego.

They played Immigrant Song (yes the Zeppelin song), but Jeff Tweedy didn't sing -- a roadie who moved speakers did. It was remarkable and kick ass.

On Saturday, they played under the California moon at Berkeley's Shakespearean Greek Theater. It's true what Pitchfork says about their Rembrandt-like sound: no one is more precise live than Wilco. They opened with "Wilco (the Song)": it was scalpel-sharp, bright, like that sound a fastball makes when it hits a glove. The audience was (predictable) too baked to dance, but minus a crusty-with-smoke brain, I know they would have.

Nels Cline roared his electric. Kotche stood on the drums in a shaft of blue light for the sizzling "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart." Every note was strong. When you listen to Wilco live, you are home. Don't mistake this for being familiar or uninteresting, Tweedy always manages to surprise: "Bull Black Nova" is a mechanical, scattering of sounds like hundreds of cells splitting off, a spearing repeating piano note, and the driving sounds of Tweedy's poetry:

"If I’m the one with blood on my sofa
Blood in the sink, blood in the trunk
High at the wheel of a bull black Nova
Then I’m sorry as the setting sun"

Perfectly, the moon above was knife shaped. Freaking brilliant. To me, Wilco has been about letting go. Certainly A Ghost is Born was about that - the "you'll miss me" declaration of suicide in "Theologians":

"I'm going away
Where you will look for me
Where I'm going you cannot come"

But something has changed with Wilco (the album). Tweedy has found a way to smile, and his band knows how to rock. The two together combine like metals in a bomb, and they become unstoppable. Have you re-listened to Wilco's first album, A.M., recently? "Casino Queen" blows the doors down. They just, quite simply, didn't give a shit. Why should they? They play good music, across the board. They've infused that same optimistic carelessness throughout the album, and live it couldn't sound better.

"All you fat followers get fit fast
Every generation thinks it’s the last
Thinks it’s the end of the world"

"I don't care anymore," Tweedy sings. It's the same sentiment in Dylan's "The Times They Are-a Changing," with a modern twist: just have fun, man.

Their new album, Wilco (the album) is out everywhere. Right now. Go to Starbucks, Best Buy, Amoeba, Barnes & Noble, and listen to some good friends (music).

Wilco - Casino Queen

Wilco - California Stars

Friday, June 26, 2009

Avett Brothers - I And Love And You

Spinner online is featuring a new track from The Avett Brothers currently buzzing new album I And Love And You. Emotionalism, their last album opened with the surprising Paranoid in B Major - a banjo dance-around-the-pole with the Bro's usual harmonies and Merle Haggard / Nelson heartache. It was feral and jocular--almost to the point of silliness.

I And Love And You is something else. It's the reflection of a band that's been hitting the road hard, and the hurt of moving too fast. They sound tired and damn beautiful. According to Paste's recent feature, the band has been pushing towards this moment--their new record is their first Big Label release. It's apt that their first track is not a blowout like their jubilant "Talk on Indolence," it's more genuine and down-to-earth.

I went back and forth on the sad strings, but the honest songwriting is there. They don't dress their lyrics, they just tell you what's going on in here (pointing to chest). When you're dealing with real country-blues, it's the only way to go.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A King

You Never Know - Wilco @ Tonight Show

After a three day tour through The Wiltern in Los Angeles - Wilco will be playing at the Greek Theater at Berkeley College. I mention it because I'm going, and I wanted to rub it in your face.

Wilco's new album, Wilco (The Album), hits stores next Tuesday on Nonesuch Records.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rural Alberta Advantage - In the Summertime

A CD that never goes too far from your collection is Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane, Over the Sea. It's piercing and brilliant.

So how about Saddle Creek's new band, Rural Alberta Advantage. Their new, debut CD, Hometowns, is minimalist, low-fi beauty (you'll see the Neutral Milk Hotel reference). Perfect for the faded image of the dying west in this video.

The RRA - Frank AB

The RRA - Don't Haunt This Place

Concert Review: Art Brut @ Spaceland

It was hot in there, man. Lots of bodies and saturated rock chords. The drummer was wearing a Shakira shirt, and Art Brut wore his grizzly eyebrows. He looks like he wandered off the BBC sets to sing. Brut said it was the first time he wore "blue denim" in years. Guess that's what happens when you play for a week in Los Angeles: it was hard, bright, and loud.

He wandered through the crowd singing about DC comics, how Pitchfork followed him around once, and at point screamed, "Fuck New York!" (Also Fuck Seattle, but what ELSE is new right?) Mysteriously, he has a grudge against Kings of Leon as well.

So, the best review I could give is he blasted the doors off the place. Honestly, half way through I wasn't sure what I was hearing or why, or why my shirt was soaked with sweat, or why the girl in front of me kept falling down--but all's well in Rock and ironic Roll.

Note: Kevin Bronson's Buzzbands above article picture of Brut best shows off the sweaty, wild show.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Art Brut Thursday, Grizzly Bear Friday

Everyone's seen this video, but if you haven't seen them live - it's time. They fill a room is all I'm saying. They bring the church reverb to your brain and fill the walls - On a Neck, On a Spit is ethereal.

So Art Brut's bringing his rocket-blaster, all-week show (Art Brut vs. Satan) to Spaceland tonight (he's been there all week actually) - I might need an extra pair of shoes. Read the well-crafted Kevin Bronson / Buzzbands review, here, for a better encounter than I will most likely have.

Concert's coming to Los Angeles this coming week are a greatest hits list:

Grizzly Bear @ The Wiltern
Dinosaur Jr. @ The Troubadour - FULL ALBUM STREAMING. RIGHT NOW.
Sunset Rubdown @ The Echoplex
Wilco @ The Greek (Berkley, CA I will see you soon)

Concert Review: Viva Voce @ Echo

Cut Off Your Hands opened, a New Zealand band of young dudes, blasted some London Wasteland sounds - that dark, lonely side the Cure does so well.

Viva Voce came on with a distortion heavy version of Devotion, a rolling fracas of drums and surprising hard guitars. This was the first half of the show, along with me squirting limes into my three dollar Tecate's, that left me sort of bored.

It was well written enough, something like, "woke up to the sound of stars crashing to the ground like the sound of guitars." That's the vigorous language that opened up the second half of the show into the more interesting, layered band from Rose City (their new album, out now).

"A slow fade in a song / like a shade that's getting drawn"

Is the potent way they sing about their crashed relationships. Very beautiful and complicated. It was a powerful, and strangely unattended show, of a band that will keep up their reptuation by playing solid rock shows.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Dodos "Time to Die" Coming This Fall

The Dodos “Time To Die” Coming This Fall

Thanks to Muzzle of Bees for posting this. This is good music news.

Posted using ShareThis

Octavio - Viva Voce

Viva Voce tonight at The Echo, bring your good hats. This is a brand new video for their catchy new album, Rose City.

Viva Voce - Octavio

Viva Voce - Devotion

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Good News! Tuesday! (quick roundup)

Speaking to the power of the road trip, Justin Gage over there at Aquarium Drunkard has published an excellent book on the subject of Memphis Blues--and the wonders of the desolate road.

It's out now, specifically at cool places like Stories in LA, and I'm sure anywhere good music books are. LA Times writer Jeff Weiss, Passion of the Weiss blogger, interviewed Gage recently on Pop & Hiss: here. Be sure to pick that up.

In other news, Dinosaur Jr. is streaming their full album on Myspace (their album is due out next week). Little Joy, Fabrizio Moretti's little band, did a session on Daytrotter that's damn good. Grizzly Bear is at the Wiltern on Friday with Here We Go Magic (I'll be there, EAT THAT).

Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks Acoustic (Live @ WNYC)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Concerts Week 6/15-6/22: Joy Pain Crazy Doom

Busy week - going to support Mr. Kevin Bronson at the Buzzbands Echo/Plex show tonight, and Viva Voce on Wednesday, Art Brut on thursday at Spaceland, and ending the week with Grizzly Bear on Friday.

[Blackout period for frustrating, musicless wedding in Dallas, Texas]

Back for Dinosaur Jr. on Monday.

There will be blood.

Jay Reatard, Stantions Destroyed

This show was filled with conflict. Whether it be me crashing into the stantions (not from alcohol, from stupidity) on the way and being hissed at by Echoplex staff, or Jay Reatard giving us a strong middle finger while still playing power chords, or my friend Matt Wyatt handing me his beer and saying, "Hold this," while leaping into an all-elbows mosh pit, this show was definitely a little bit of war. You can't see from the picture, but everyone in front of me was leaping like deer.

Ok, my honest admittance? This was my first punk show. Thee Oh Sees Earthmen had some brass distortion balls on them, and Reatard came out with a Ghost-Rider-like-blazing fifty minute set. A man with a chin beard like a UFC fighter started a mosh pit, and at one point some beer from across the room went in my mouth.

Best part: the music was good. In a fifty minute set, with no breaks, what else would you want?

As a contrast, the reason I didn't post this weekend is most likely from my extraordinary geek high (in extreme opposite to Jay Reatard) at seeing my favorite author Ray Bradbury - see below. What a weekend.

Jay Reatard - Always Wanting More

Friday, June 12, 2009

Nothing Short of the Best Music Video Ever

I don't like techno, but this is cosmic brilliance. Will Sweeney is the incredible artist - thanks to the Family Blog for posting this. Nothing more to say: watch the video.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pink Mountaintops - Closer to Heaven (Live Acoustic)

Here's to hoping Pink Mountaintops doesn't fall by the wayside fanwise- like its brother Black Mountain.

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

Pink Mountaintops - Vampire

Emily Wells New EP, Party

Emily Wells is Notorious B.I.G. meets a violin. Last year she released The Symphonies: Dreams Memories & Parties, which NPR fell all over themselves for. With good cause - she's a mesmerizing live act to watch. A glittery and soaring voice, a smokey violin and one of those awesome loop machines for Andrew Bird-esque harmonies.

Next week in Los Angeles, Wells is having a party for her new EP, Dirty (explicit like Notorious), at the Hotel Cafe, June 19th. There's not too much new about the EP, it has a few new versions of old songs, but there is one remarkably good track: Take it Easy San Francisco. You wouldn't know it from the album, but it's just her and a Ukulele - and the echo of an island that's not there.

Watch the video, and melt a little as the song transitions into the final minute - a disturbingly addicting harmony of "Don't stop talking to me"

Emily Wells - Fair Thee Well

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Handsome Furs Thursday, Jay Reatard Friday

Wolf Parade has so many like-minded spin offs that I'm starting to wonder if the name "Wolf Parade" is more a state of being (or sound) than a band.

Handsome Furs, not Sunset Rubdown, who will also be at the Echoplex, completing a dynasty of Wolf Paradians, tomorrow. People are comparing it to Bruce Springsteen's butt-jean record, Born in the USA - which means I'm buying a ticket. Both are repped by big time indie labels - Jagjaguwar (Dinosaur Jr, Bon Iver) and Subpop (everyone that's good).

Also, Aquarium Drunkard is sponsoring the speed-punk Jay Reatard on Friday at the Echo. Be sure to stop by for pizza, and some serious teeth-rattles. Reatard is on Matador records.

Both bands have new albums coming out the next few months, so look out for that.

Handsome Furs - Radio Kalingrad

Handsome Furs - I'm Confused

Dinosaur Jr. - Daytrotter Session

Dinosaur Jr. did a heavy-as-bear-fur set for Daytrotter a few days ago - further proving their two-day stint at the Troubadour in LA (June 22, 23) is going to melt amps like plastic cups.

Not to mention proving their new CD, Farm, is going to be way more than a Pearl Jam rip-off, as I've heard people mumbling about. Dinosaur sound is gruff but eerily sentimental, a vein running deeper than the usual cock rock. Take what you want from it, but in the absent of Jack White's lo-fi rock, we all need some love.

Dinosaur Jr. - I Want You to Know

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Concert Review: Cotton Jones

On Friday, Parsons Redhead opened up for Cotton Jones. Since I last saw them at Spaceland, a soporific acoustic show, they have sufficiently Conor-Obersted themselves, pouring heavy alt. country steel guitar all over their music. Something about it was off to me, like it wasn't genuine.

"Last night while we were sleeping / I had a dream that we were talking"

Usually, this kind of lonely folk gives me the chills. Perfect for the warm bar and the cold beer - but this was different. It felt forced, like they were trying too hard to be Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Damn if I wasn't tapping my foot along with the music though - they were good at it.

Cotton Jones is from Nowhere-Maryland, which is extraordinary considering their sniper accurate sound: the nostalagia of Motown and soul, a sadly moaning steel guitar. The came on unpretentious and leaderless - it was unclear at first who was the frontman for the band. Quickly resolved by the vintage coat wearing, kind-of-drunk Michael Nau. His song writing skills are fairy tale-esque, dark and startling good:

"My mother kissed me between the eyes / I called it love"


"I just wanted to tell you / All the demons have been slayed"

NPR compared Cotton Jones to Beach House, here, but I disagree. Cotton is more out of time. Listening to their best song, "Blood Red Sentimental Blues," (see below) I forgot where I was. For a few minutes, it could have been a prom dance in the fifties, or stoned on a couch in the seventies. I certainly wanted to be the hell out of a major city: their music is rural and starry.

Low-fi folk is not new, but this is different. After Parsons Redhead, I was fiery with opinions about the genuineness in modern folk bands. There's a way to play music that speaks without being asked or want you to know it, it just is - that's the music, the record, that follows you around, the lyrics morphing with your life as you grow up. Parsons had the "right" sound, but it wasn't genuine. There was something condescending about it. Good folk, I think, happens regardless of what you think about it - because it's a person's unfiltered pain or loneliness.

Half way through Cotton Jones magically real show, they played a ballad. It was gorgeous. Michael Nau's voice cut through the yapping crowd like a trumpet, and Whitney McGraw matched him on the organ. It hit the ceilings.

Cotton Jones is not too lo-fi that you miss it. At times it felt formless and drifted, but Nau had a swagger about him that always saved it. Their harmonies were beautifully constructed, and they owned it. There was no question, no affecting the kind of music they were playing - it's just what comes out of their instruments.

Cotton Jones - Blood Red Sentimental Blues

Cotton Jones - Gotta Cheer Up

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Grace Around the World

A few years ago, Mojo asked Jimmy Page what he was listening to. He said one name: Jeff Buckley.

This week Grace Around the World came out, a super-special edition of the timeless CD. In honor of this, Rolling Stone is putting out some seriously cool podcasts from artists and musicians on the power of Jeff Buckley's music. Today's interview from Duncan Sheik is especially touching.

Ryan Adams singing about New York always reminded me of Buckley - especially the beautiful song Blue Hotel:

Jeff Buckley Podcast Rolling Stone Jones - Duncan Sheik Up

Cotton Jones Tonight, Clues Tomorrow

In Los Angeles today and tomorrow, there's a couple of fun shows - Cotton Jones at Spaceland and Clues at the Echoplex (part of a bad ace summer lineup).

For some news roundup, they just announced Conor Oberst a the Echoplex, John Vanderslice is playing with the Tallest Man on Earth the end of June at the Troubadour. Before that, Dinosaur Jr and Holy Fuck (playing with the Crocodiles). It's a good summer.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hot Rock in the Field

Filmed in a field in Texas, with the guitarist from My Morning Jacket, which makes my knees all buttery. This is a track from Dan Auerbach's solo album Keep It Hid. He's one of those bearded rock stars that should consistently be putting out albums to replace the withdrawls I have for De Stijl-like White Stripes.

The Dodos (Not the Damn Miller Lite Commercial)

Pitchfork TV has a bad-mother session of the Dodos playing Red and Purple / Eyelids. The big clumps of snow falling made me instantly want to be in Brooklyn. For those who saw them at Sasquatch, I salute you.

#navbar-iframe { height:0px; visibility:hidden; display:none; }