Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wayne Coyne's Mind Just Melted

This is obviously a missing track from Embryonic...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Youth Born Again

Backspacer - Pearl Jam

My allegiance is reaffirmed.

It feels great to listen to a straight forward rock album from a band that defies age and stereotypes. I've long been a fan of Pearl Jam, but like most have lost touch since the early part of the decade. This album reminds me of why I had a Ten poster on my wall and why I used to wake up to VS every morning. Shoot, I played the shit out of Binaural, but there have been plenty of miscues over the years.

This is Pearl Jam's bold statement that they aren't going away and we are all better for it.

It's tight, fast and loud. The lyrics aren't always on point, but they never have been for this band. Gossard and Amet don't write the best songs but they play the heck out of them. Vedder shines bright here knocking a few home runs early and closing strong. He brings to PJ a little of his solo magic from the OST to Into the Wild with "Just Breathe", a song I can't get enough of.

I dig this album and the band.


Freaks Alive!

Embryonic - Flaming Lips
(Fast Review)


This is the most difficult album of the year, in the best possible way. The Lips have never been one to dwell in the approachable realm for all. They are, afterall, the purveyors of oddity and showmen of the other world. They love to freak and they love the bizzare but moslty the love to be themselves.

The album has it's certain ups and downs but when played as a cohesive unit the spacious and alientating tracks take form and things flesh themselves out into a rather stunning collection of sounds.

There are the quick fix hits scattered about, but mostly you'll find the band at play with free style jazz influenced, jam outs that tip around the direction you assume (and at times yearn) they will head. It's almost like the want the fans to be frustrated and it's fucking awesome.

Take the trip, leave reality and assumptions at home.


Monday, October 26, 2009

New Fang

Video for the first single from Powerhouse Super Group: Them Crooked Vultures

New Fang:

This Fears Got a Hold on Me

To Lose My Life - White Lies

When words like power, angst, emotive meant more to music there was a sound that wasn’t rock and it wasn’t pop. Listeners could find a connection to the words and find them real in their own lives. The songs were beat driven and flowing to keep listeners engaged but still challenging and complex enough to inspire. It felt artistic, creative yet safely reassuring. The music had a style or an attitude that you could see almost more than you could hear. It wasn’t dark exactly but it was far from happy, a paradox to the pop structure of the songs.

We know this music now to be the popular music of the 1980’s, lead mostly by the movie soundtracks and hit songs that defined our youth. It’s brilliantly simplistic music that was ageless the day it hit the airwaves. Bands like A-Ha, The Cars and Tears for Fears found a way to make pop music for the mind and lead a movement. It was post Clash and the disco movement but pre hair metal. The tagline, emo rock founds its origins with bands like the Cure and the Smiths a standard that would carry over into the music of INXS.

In the early part of this decade a band took these sounds and blended them with the rawness and musical genius of the brooding Joy Division, that band is Interpol. Once thought to be the next icon along with the Strokes, Interpol has met it’s match. M83 has nothing on this band.
White Lies is all that made those 80’s soundtracks sound so great minus the bubble gum and hair product. They are darker than many of the bands above but the sound is built on the same foundation. The range and sincerity of this album is stunning at times. The lyrics are what make this album a true prize.

Having stumbled upon them via a Day Trotter Session, I soon became engulfed with their work. After touring with Kings of Leon and building a fan base in their home of England, White Lies is ready for American domination and I for one welcome it.

Songs to hear: "Fifty on Our Foreheads", "Death", "Unfinished Business"


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Voice of the Woods

Unmap - Volcano Choir

Collaboration from Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Collections of Colonies of Bees gives us Volcano Choir. Beautifully Bizarre.

Mixed opinions on this one. I love that Justin is as ambitious as he is but the heavily instrumental and sparse arrangements leave much to be desired for me. It sounds more like a small collection of songs strung together with outtakes from studio sessions given the ‘alone in the woods’ treatment Bon Iver has now mastered. I enjoy minimalism in music but get lost when I feel the intent is to push listeners past a point of focus and trail off with no intent to retain or draw back. Thom Yorke explores as well as anyone as we have been reminded again this year, but he never loses me despite what I take to be some of better attempts.

"Island, IS" comes as a hands down winner and is among my favorite songs of the year. If more of the tracks had this kind of direction I feel the overall project would be more of a success had the outfit followed a more structured approach. Some can argue that the point of this project was to explore new soundscapes, I can’t argue, but I’ll leave exploring soundscapes to Califone.


I Just Wanna Bang on the Drums All Day

Single from the new project of the Black Keys, drummer, aptly titled: Drummer.

The song is post grunge, a lot like a Dinosaur Jr. fuzzy riff heavy stuff of late. I dig it and look forward to digging into this album soon.
"Feel Good Together"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Suckin Ya Dry

Deertick with Johnny Corndawg - The Visulite, October 18th 2009

Sunday night shows are tough in a town like Charlotte. For the most part, Charlotte is a play it by the book kinda town, the crisp shirted, big banking folks who enjoy being scene at the best spot more than checking out the scenes that the backside of this town offers. Sunday nights are tough because most folks have hit it hard all weekend and most guys just wanna sit on the couch and watch the tube. But every now and then, if you venture out, you'll catch a rare show, a band in their groove on a Sunday.

I've caught a few Sunday shows in my time and the most amazing of them is My Morning Jackets show at the Tabernacle on the Z tour; changed the way I see live music.
Deertick is not going to redefine anything about my life, but there is plenty they solidify, and on a Sunday sometimes the best thing going is a true affirmation. A calling of faith of all things southern, twangy, rough and tough, a little boozed up and full of grit, hard lessons and broken hearted songs.

The last time I attempted to see Deertick was over a year ago at the world famous Milestone in town, where there were maybe 5 people in attendance and Deertick pulled a no show; flat tire en route. How Deertick landed a gig at Visulite I ain't real sure. Despite it being sparse in crowd, Deertick made the place feel like home, playing a show more like they are your buds jamming out at your favorite bar than a national touring act. This sits well with me on a Sunday and it matches all my expectations of the band.

The opening act is of course just the band with an additional vocalist, Johnny Corndawg. Corndawg is a mix between the guy that works at the general store that sells you beer in High School, a drunk art student and Hank Williams Jr (like a 30yr old version of Willie Nelson's grnadpa). His music is all twang and life and the lyrics are raw and twisted but delightful. He sings about his love being a cherry with chocolate mouse on top and a dog sporting a red rocket and a married couple yelling at one another in a long roadtrip ("Shut Up"). It's damn entertaining stuff and you can feel the realness of this guy coming over the PA. Despite a nagging cough that left him napping center stage until his bandmates woke him to start the set and his momma's sweater, the boy put on a show.

Deertick as a whole was everything I want them to be. Torn, scratchy, loose put together. Having fun, being themselves and keeping things light and movin. They open with an A-cappella version of "Dirty Dishes" and the trend for taking old standard songs of theirs and others in new directions is the theme for the evening. "Ashamed" came full steam ahead, enjoyable but not the tender, rip your heart out style I prefer. Mixed in the set were a variety of songs by John Prine and a number co-written with members of Those Darlins; a naughty number at that.

Despite my request for "Nebraska", MacCauley (lead) informs me that they are from Rhode Island, a witty conversational stageman with good anecdotes and crowd interaction. My only complaint would be the volume, could have used it turned down a notch in order to catch more vocals when things picked up tempo.

After a nice solo set that included a great version of the Replacements, "Can't Hardly Wait" (also covered perfectly by Justin Townes Earle this year), there was a solid encore featuring "La Bamba", "Maybellene" (suits there swagger and rockabilly attitude) and a tease of "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

A perfect birthday gift of a show to me

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fuzzing on the Heavy

Post-Nothing - Japandroids

First off this is the best title for an album I have seen in years. A swift f-you to the genre geeks and loser bloggers eager to dissect and ascribe unneeded titles and classifications (ahem). Secondly, this is the most awesomest and aptly fitting band name I have seen in years. Album cover alone and these guys kick ass.

I come to my perspective of this album and band by means of No Age. Were it not for No Age's incessant fuzz and yet underlying catchy hook/riff driven formations I may not have had the ear for this album. I am lucky I am a No Age fan (also also band name), for it brought me to an even better place.

Post-Nothing is just that; almost nothing at all. It's a lot of guitars on top of guitars with thudding drums, heavy reverb droned with feedback and muffled yelling of vocals. I love it.

Each song frustrates as much as it rewards. Yearning for some semblance of song structure brings one to claw deep into the songs, hanging tight until it hits and then wham, a sick chorus explodes and a guitar riff kicks in and it almost sounds like something you've enjoyed before and then it's gone again.

The Boys Are Leaving Town is not the easiest of opening tracks so for newcomers try Crazy/Forever, undeniably fun.


Simple Sounds of the World

Person to Person - Foreign Born

David Byrne is the king of mixing elements of world music and generating expert skilled pop miracles. Foreign Born have taken the success of recent upstarts such as Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot to heart, embracing the sounds of African Pop music and reinterpreting it into their own. The difference and success here falls with the efforts of the band to hop around to more than one continent. Sounds come from South America, the islands and they mix healthy doses of folksy guitars to round it all out. At times they sound clean and tight like a post punk 80's collaboration; say Aha etc., and at times they dabble with the workings of something more accustomed to say String Cheese Incident. It actually sounds a whole heck of a lot better than I just described it.

The overall sound of the album does drone a tad and tracks wash into one another at times but it stands strong as a complete piece of work. Blood Oranges, the opening track is solid as are the first few songs, but when you reach Winter Games you realize this isn't just another indie band to toss into the mix as the decade ends. They are sincere contenders. Not bent on blowing you away with a single or riding the hottest trend, the skills displayed here indicate a band ready to ride it out for a while and win over fans one by one until the collective ear pays attention and recognizes how good this all is.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The In Sound From Deep Down

Man on the Moon: The End of Day - Kid Cudi

Damn this boy has some emotional issues. More Emo than rap, Man on the Moon, is in many ways a second coming of Kanye and in some ways a glimpse at an artist that could learn to embrace himself and be a legend.

The problem with manic people regardless of their abilities and aptitude is that their creative output is likened to their disposition; sporadic, confused, lacking confidence and direction. When Kid Cudi shines he brings the light of a new day in Indie Hip Hop, when he wanes he brings an eclipse of sound sound to the light he holds within.

There are tracks on this album that rank among the best Hip Hop I've heard in years. The flow in Simple As, the chorus to Day N Night (Nightmare) and the genre bending of Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare) are such glimpses of talent. Great lyrical delivery and use of time and rhythm. Yet every one of these sounds is blimished by trailings of un needed and unjustified banter, noise and confusion at the end of the track. Keep the Kid straight and he'll deliver, let him dwell inside and things get messy.

Guests like Ratatat and MGMT bring life and depth to the album, highlighting the best of what Kudi has to offer. Guests like Common and Kanye weigh him down, bring out a psuedo thug and ruin the effect.

If this Kid can learn to harness his abilies he'll be big, otherwise he'll go the way of Lupe Fiasco and Jurassic 5, artists that faded too fast. Get this Kid with the Roots and Mos Def!


Building Up From Cut Parts

Salvation is a Deep Dark Well - The Builders and The Butchers

In a year chopped full of bands plucking away at the sounds of the west and south comes Portland's The Builders and The Butchers with their sophmore release, a nod to the wild west.

The album plays jangly like a live recording which gives a powerful punch and a foot stomping notion to the whole collection. The tales are what will really draw a listener in. Steeped in the matters of everyone from Hank, Cash and Willie to Felice Brothers and Avett Brothers, this band mixes the elements of dark folk lore and the legenedary sounds of country western with modern flare.

You feel like you are listening to the soundtrack of a salvation show, full with fire and brimstone. Don't let the snake bite ya, else you'll be condemned a sinner of the soul!

It's a fun album, nothing overly triumphant, but nothing dissapointing. Give Devil Town a whirl and see if it's for you.


The Future Comes From the Past

After Robots - BLK JKS

I can't quite figure this one out. It's ambitious as hell but for me it falls short of the intended goal.

It's been tagged as the African version of OK Computer and the band as been called upon to be the next U2 of sorts, I don't see it. The album is droning at times and awkward too often. It's loses me far more than it draws me in. I have no issues with a language barrier, but where Amadou and Mariam celebrate the modern abilities of African music, BLK JKS seem to force something new upon themselves. Instead of feeling I am listening to the warrior anthems of a new generation I find myself relating the sounds I hear more to MUSE and Mars Volta than TV on the Radio.

Maybe I'm missing it, but it'll have to come to me soon as I am growing tired of trying on this one.

Try Standby or Taxidermy.


Pour Your Heart Out All Over Me

A Brief History of Love - The Big Pink

This album completely caught me off guard, in the best possible way.

I had never heard of The Big Pink and aside from a brief album review I had glanced at on P4K I didn't realize they were on a worthy radar; I am better for the introduction. An album that isn't afraid to be many things and be many things for the better. I cannot help but feel similarities between this album and Liars Liars, as they both sweep from fuzz heavy darkness to pop melody club tunes. This album has many facets, all of which are rewarding in their own regard, but when they are all played out in a single listen the album hits as a true success.

Their is the common theme of young love lost and the anguish that follows. But with love there are ups and downs and this album tosses and turns like a relationship on the brink of failure. Too Young To Love is a great number, full of life and hurt. Dominos is a blast of a song and the happiness is infecting and the lyrics encourage behavior of yesteryear. At War With the Sun and Frisk are perfect examples of this albums scope and impact.

All in all I dig this album and I find this interesting as it took me a long time to appreciate this genre of music and I feel like now I've found my gateway drug. Love's a bitch and then you write the songs to prove it.


With Given Time

Broken Side of Time - Alberta Cross

The production is bigger and cleaner but the heart is still very much in tact. They may be yankees via the brits in makeup, but they are every bit southern in focus and delivery.

Many songs off the breaktrhough EP (Thief and Heartbreaker) are still present and are presented in a "cleaner around the edges" manner and the new tracks show a band on the path to bigger things. ATX shows a shraper more guitar driven approach and it plays well to make the bands sound more robust, lending nicely to a live performance. Rise From the Shadows is a steady song and one that helps strengthen the second half of the album. A good mix of songs, just wish there were more new tracks.

They have the makings of a band that could go the route of a Band of Horses and be road warriors long enough to be of the MMJ elk; but they have a lot of the ambtion of a Kings of Leon. Let's hope they follow the path of the former.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Music on the Verge

> Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is prepped to release his first solo outing via ANTI. The album, Mo Beauty, was recorded in New Orleans and features an all-star supporting cast. One of my favorite drummers Stanton Moore (Galactic etc.) will be on skins and Robert Walter, George Porter Jr. and a who's who of New Orealns trendsetters are all a part of the party. Certainly a break from the CYHSY days, but so far I am impressed and intriqued.

ALEC OUNSWORTH This Is Not My Home (After Bruegel) and Holy, Holy, Holy Moses

> The preppy boys that are long in the tooth and quick to the hop, Vampire Weekend, are readying a new album for the first of next year. The material is more advanced than the afro-american punk pop of the self titled rookie release, but promising all the same. Download the first single from: CONTRA, it's called Horchata, after a drink presumably.

> Finally, I am scanning through the material from the latest Thom Yorke unleashing, featuring several new tracks of solo material, Radiohead tunes and the sounds/sights of recent gigs from his new group that features FLEA on bass, Nigel and the drummer for Beck/REM. Not too shabby, eh!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Modern Day Hipster Folkies Make Beatles Proud

I guess my whole dissection of the current state of Indie and the presence of the rootsy/folksy/southern styling’s in so much that is released of late started with a little jab at the Beatles. It seems only fitting that I’ll lay the topic to rest for a bit with a complete circling of the wagons.
Monsters of Folk – Monsters of Folk

A few months back Jim James of My Morning Jacket release an EP of George Harrison songs under the moniker Yim Yames. This in and of itself could be of little interest to a casual listener, but alas, for the likes of LTME this raised much interest as well as concern. For starters, I love Harrison and I am very much a fan of his contributions to the Beatles and rock n’ roll. I also love Jim James’ voice. This should be a perfect marriage. The EP is solid, but still uneasy. ‘Jim James’ ? Why? James seems to force odd and eccentric these days and his lyrics and direction have suffered as a result. I know this is the year the Beatles got famous again so it seems oh so fitting that James wanted to get this album out in the public. However, I knew it was just the start of what was coming.

I caught the Bright Eyes and ‘Special Guests’ set on Austin City Limits latenight back a few years ago. I have had an up and down love it or leave relationship with Conor Oberst from the onset. He was tagged as such a brilliant prodigy at such a young age that the hype of being the next ‘Dylan’ had to weigh heavy on him. But damn if the boy wasn’t depressed as all get out. It wasn’t until I heard Another Traveling Song that I bothered to really give Bright Eyes it’s just listening – thanks for the rec Pickle.
I’m Wide Awake and It’s Morning may have emo tendencies but it’s also a stunning album once you get past the politics. This marked Conor’s entry into the alt-country world, a stunning approach to that which Ryan Adams had been so desperately attempting for years. But what was most interesting about the songs Conor played under the Bright Eyes tag on ACL was the guests. The second Conor stood next to Jim James and they began to pluck away at Golden something tripped in me. It was a messing of worlds that I never thought would occur. Needless to say I had a major under appreciation for the Indie world at the time and not much of an understanding of the ‘community’ amongst the artists. I didn’t know much about M Ward aside from the name so upon finishing the show I grabbed another Bright Eyes album, this time Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground and a selection of M Ward tunes. After a while I lost focus on this collaboration and continued ahead with My Morning Jacket as well as keeping tabs on Conor.

At the beginning of the year M Ward released a powerful album in Hold Time, he re-entered my world. Not long after news began to swirl about the reuniting of these artists along with Mogis. I listened and explored, excited.

With such diverse backgrounds and seemingly opposite directions each artist was working in at the onset of ’09 the collaboration seemed. Conor is now head over heels into alt-country, M Ward has been experiencing the most success his career has known with She and Him as well as massive praise for his own release and James is still coming to terms with super-stardom and mixed praise on Evil Urges and a swelling fanbase. Mogis has been Conor’s right hand man for ages, so the foursome have a LOT to live up to.

Where would they take the music? Could James heavily influence his love of funk/reggae and bizarness? Will Conor insist on loner ballads and trite lyrics of depression and loss? Will M Ward be more of another name but not much of a true contributor with so much else on his plate? Can Mogis bring them all together?

The Verdict:

Success, but not what we expected.

Most Beatles fans mark Let It Be as more than just the final album, they see it as a metaphor for what the band had become, four separate entities trying to mesh together to sound as one. Often when artists reach a critical point in their career they find solace in the folk music/country rock world. It’s easier to not meet expectations and the music can soothe the soul of the artist. It can also be seen as a copout.
So now that I’ve played MOF several times over I can’t get past the stunning similarities between it and Let It Be. MOF almost want you to feel this, they almost want to pretend they are modern day Beatles at the twilight. Dear God, these folks have made a Beatles album!

Assuming you’ll go along with this let me engage the topic. To pigeonhole Jim James as Harrison is easy, James clearly wants to be Harrison in this mess, but he could just as easily be Paul…both find a way to drop some of the most frustratingly simplistic lyrics at the worst times amidst such great songs. That aside, we’ll keep things easy and leave James to be George. Ward is Paul, or the Walrus, however it is that you want to see him. He’s kinda the smiling face and comforting force to the band. His contributions to MOF never dazzle, but they are the most consistent and rewarding. His stays true to himself and finds great success amongst the others. Oberst is John, obvi. There is more hit and miss with Oberst, more look at how complex and important my work is compared to the rest. Oberst is as talented they come these days, but like Lennon, he’s also full of shit and pretty annoying. Mogis of course is Ringo. The backbone, the one that can take the heat, keep everyone together and keep them moving forward and focused. In a way this band can be seen as three monsters and a folkie, and for the role of folkie, Mogis earns his keep. I dare say this album would have been quite bad were it not for someone like Mogis in the room. The product we are given however works and works well at times.

But, just like Let It Be, despite its ability to ‘work’ it ultimately Lets You Down.

James takes the lead on the opening track and his touches are all over it, but thankfully he soon finds his role as one of the guys as the album rolls on. Conor has some high points and lyrically he is as good as he has ever been. Where James will sing about Magic Markers, Conor is telling the story of everyman in a tough world. Mogis’ work keeps the variety of sounds and styles together and the mixing allows for a unified feeling to the album, making so many individual tracks truly play as an album.

In my mind, Ward is the highlight of the album. His voice never wavers and his acknowledgment of the others and the way he plays off them shines of so much more comfort than the others. When James sings it sounds like a side project of MMJ, Conor sounds like his solo stuff but Ward makes you believe this MOF this is legit and that they’ve got legs to stand on in their own right.

Dear God is really the only song where the workings of James’ obsessive adobe slabs comes to play, it’s a good song, but not a powerful enough of an opener for what’s enclosed. Whole Lotta Losin’ has a looseness and life to it that hints at the band hitting their stride and giving a glimpse of the certain to be highly energetic live performance. The Right Place is the noted single and perhaps the most successful in effort for what MOF is striving towards both musically and lyrically. As has been the calling card of James and Oberst of late, remind people that if what they are doing makes them happy and if it makes them feel good, then it’s alright. I for one can’t argue with that when it comes to music. This mantra pretty much sums up my thoughts on the genre as a whole and MOF embrace it well.

Map of the World is pretty much a throwaway and I’m not harping on James, I just expect so much out of him that I find his silliness disappointing. But the real winner is The Sandman, the Brakeman and Me. This song is just perfect. Not surprising it’s Ward that carries the track and brings home the vibe the best while everyone else is still very much involved.

I believe that it is fair to toy around with the idea of these guys trying to make a Beatles album; I think they’d get a kick out of it. Shoot, more likely than not the jokes already on me.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again in summary of the album and the topic. Music is all about feeling good. It’s about reaching people with a message and a vibe. The message hear is strong and good and the vibe with honest and true.

Monsters of Folk didn’t make a landmark album, but they have formed a truly inspiring band.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Voice of A Ghost

Josephine - Magnolia Electric Co.

I have been a devoted fan of Jason Molina since I first spun the Songs:Ohia side two of a split EP with My Morning Jacket. I was drawn of course by the split billing with Jacket, assuming I was to discover another band of the same elk, which at the time was rare (unlike these days). What I found did not resonate with me immediately. There was a familiarity with their music and the voice, well the voice is undeniable. Cutting, foggy, sorrowful and real.

I soon purchased Songs:Ohia and then worshiped Farewell Transmission for about a month. The way that song unfolds itself it still downright awing to me. It's nothing flashy but it draws and draws until you are smothered and smoldering.

After the stint with Songs:Ohia, Molina soon regrouped and formed Magnolia Electric Co., a name he had previously toyed with, naming an Songs:Ohia album the same. The movements and arrangements changed subtly, but there is a distinct enough before - after that the artists music can be well defined by the changing of nomenclature.

Magnolia Electric Co. are in many ways a music snob or artists band. They aren't easy to wrap around and celebrate. Like Califone, most can offer a passing listen and think little of it, but those that linger discover so much below the surface and decide to stick around for a bit. Ben Bridwell, of Band of Horses, has been a major flag waver of the MEC fanbase, often seen at the shows and promoting Molina in interviews. Bridwell claims Molina has the best voice around, bold words coming from the man that sings The Funeral.

Magnolia Electric Co. made a big hit on my Essential List of 2007 with Sojourner, a double album that explored beyond the straight forwardness of What Comes After the Blues. It's an amazing collection, but bloated and muddy to get all the way through. My review wasn't the best, I simply ran through the album twice at work and noted the songs that stood out. I then arranged these songs into a playlist and credited that as what the album should have been. Don't tell Molina.

Sadly, this practice is one I still found myself wanting to take with Josephine. But before I say anything negative allow me to start with the praise. As soon as the horns are swept in on the opening track O! Grace, a new confidence with this band is announced. It's a direction they should have been exploring more over the years and it's more than welcome. O! Grace is great but then we get more standard Molina in between songs. Let me clarify this last statement as I know it reads as a bit of a contradiction after attempting to preach for this band the last few paragraphs. MEC writes great music, they just might write too much music and on the whole you'll find more songs without strong legs than those that stand tall. I firmly believe that Molina is a victim of the same burden that artists like Spencer Krug, Ryan Adams and Conor Oberst suffer, don't release so much damn music and focus more on that which you do!

Anyways, Josephine gets back on track fast with Whip-poor Will, the best of the album in my opinion. The lyrics here are the strongest both in terms of the emotion and imagery as well as how well they fit his voice and the stylings of the band. Josephine continues it's ups and downs until the end, and when it all finishes out I am glad to say I find more tall pines than scraggly shrubs.

Molina and Co. have a unique place in music and perhaps one of the lesser know and under appreciated voices around. What they need is a friend like Bridwell to nudge them along a stronger path. Getting bigger and bolder is not always bad in this genre as we will soon see with the latest Avett release, which just might be the best I've heard all year.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Well Runs Dry

Upper Air - Bowerbirds

I am going to go ahead and warn Jejune, this review is not going to be glowing.

Bowerbirds are a bit of the 'it' band in new folk. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I find myself bored when I listen to this album. All the elements are there to make this a great album, most people are raving about it, but it is bland to me.

The male singing to female companionship is not so interesting and a little overplayed these days. The songs aren't bad by any means, several are quite good and a few really good, maybe one great, but strong together and I just can't get through this album.

I enjoy Ghost Life but by the time Northern Lights hits I have grown tired and it's unknown what really transpires beyond. Here I fall victim to wanting more and not appreciating what's their. I love the challenge of learning to listen for new sounds, respect what I may not know or appreciate, but here it's not a complexity I have to wrap my head around, it's simplicity.

I know that a lot of this style of music is probably simple to listeners. Sometimes that's a good thing, I like that Iron and Wine can be bare bones and I love that The Avett Brothers can be over the top, i find this album sowhere in between, maybe a little off to the left; wherever it is, I'll leave it be. Maybe Jejune can show me the light.

Dust of Your Caps

Oh My God, Charlie Darwin – The Low Anthem

While I am on the topic of superior second albums let’s dive into The Low Anthem’s bold leap forward. The Low Anthem is not my new favorite band and they underwhelmed me in a hostile crowd at bonnaroo this summer, but there is a profound directness and dusty happiness to their world.

OMGCD shows a major versatility for a young band, especially a band that does wear the tag of new folk…shoot they flat out rock at times and other times it simmers like a bluesy jazz number. In the middle of the whole thing is pure goodness.

Ticket Taker may be the first song to hit you when you realize the band has evolved (or revolved?, I’m kinda confusing myself of late) but by the time The Horizon is a Beltway comes galloping through, it’s almost impossible not to swagger your stride.

As has been their strongest suite to date, Low Anthem’s lyrics are worthy of written prose. They swell with life and vigor; storytelling through song as it should be. I find myself daydreaming to almost every track here, picturing myself in a more rustic world, working the earth and being a little dusty myself.

I am excited to see where this band is headed for the future. For now, they have released one of the better albums of the year.


A Second Wind Comes

Welcome Joy – The Cave Singers

Earlier this year I was knocked over by this band’s initial release, Invitation Songs, unbeknownst to me at the time a 2008 release, it was brooding, harrowing and had a sacred spirit and darkened soul about it. Folk music of the bottle as much as the heart. About a month ago I got my hands on the newest release and I am even more engrossed than before.
There is nothing complex, overwhelming or even new to be discovered here. But just like Deer Tick, the critics focus on the lack of music evolution being displayed by the Cave Singers, but in so doing they miss the most obvious and essential aspect of the music. It sounds damn good.

The new album parallels in almost two many ways. I can swear the same riffs and arrangements appear on this album, but somehow they sound better here. They have scrapped but a bit of the doom and gloom and the religious overtones are few and far between. The range is tighter here but there is more of the good stuff. A few tracks on their original release felt fuzzy, under thought and not attention holding. I find myself engaged with every track on Joy. Beach House plays as their most ambitious song to date, but it still has a welcoming understated quality to it. I find that I Don’t Mind is the song I can’t get enough of. The album gains traction the deeper in you are willing to go.

Not to say anything is outstanding, just good music, done well.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Tempo Changers

So where does this 'twang' or 'southern swagger' reside in Indie these days you ask, well it seems almost everywhere.

Ryan Adams, Beck, Wilco and Kings of Leon have all garnered massive success from altering variations of the country-pop-rock formula, which is often condoned by the Brooklyn type Indie snobs, but which often yields the biggest commercial success. Jack White is a huge advocate of the southern folk sound because he respects the purity of it, the blues lyrics, rock rythyms, simple time changes and the walking basslines that, once again make ya move and make ya feel good and enjoy what you are listening to.

My Morning Jacket's Jim James has managed to cover the full spectrum of music it seems (some more succesfully than others I'll add) and he's done it all southern style. But often it is not as obvious to others what that sound is.

Earlier this summer I read a review from Bonnaroo that included a quotation from Yeah Yeah Yeahs Karen O, in which she exclaimed "there are a lot of country acts here." I went to Bonnaroo, and yeah it's southern, but it hadn't hit me until I read that how much of the music I witnessed and currently listen has that country-southern-folk thing going on, music that to the likes of Karen O, probably sounds a little country and mabye a lot redneck.

Some bands of late embrace the sounds, The Avett Brothers and Band of Horses along with Conor Oberst, M. Ward, Ben Kweller, Drive-By Truckers (and variations thereof), almost exploit it, making music that stresses the twangy side and rockabilly. The music sounds amazing to me, but to a passive listener it can be too much.

Like it or not, it's gotten big.

Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper, Elvis Perkins, Bon Iver and Joh Ritter have all recieved huge critical aclaim in the past few years for their 'new approach' to music and have been tagged as bands to watch for the future. It's almost amzing to me to see how succesful Fleet Foxes has become with such a tried and true formula, how many bands do you think are green with envy that they were the Indie darlings of 2008 and all they play is folk music...that stuff has been around for over a 100 years!

I can list endless bands that fall under this scope (Black Keys, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Great Lake Swimmers, Iron and Wine, Old Crow Medicine Show, Yonder Mountain String Band, Vetiver etc.) and I know this piece is running dry so I'll wrap up the preface here and I'll move on to review albums from the bands of 2009 that are best embracing this movement.

Friday, September 11, 2009

So Pick Up the Tempo Just a Little and Drive it on Home

I don’t exactly know how it all came about, but sometime in the past 9 months I fell asleep and music revolved. I’ve been plugging ahead in my own life oblivious to this monumental happening unfolding one crucial element at a time. A few posts back I made a satire of sorts of the current state of Indie music, numbering its essential days until the likely evolution of ‘next’ occurred. Perhaps why I find myself so dumbfounded is two-fold in explanation.

First, this is exactly what I thought was going to happen; I just didn’t really believe that it would.
Second, everything that I love about music is more ‘now’ than ever.

Somewhere between Miley Cyrus, Lil’ Wayne, Rascal Flats, Radiohead, Whitney Houston, Kanye and Animal Collective lies one fundamental truth: music is derived from a multitude of various sources, created for a multitude of various consumers who will listen and interpret in a multitude of various ways all for a singular reason – music makes us feel good and people like to feel good.
I feel best when I am hit by music that is rough around the edges, with soul, grit, inspiration, voice, story, ambition and hint of southern twang…with smidgen of pop sensibility and punk nonchalance. It seems of late that I am not alone.

I’ll start big and work my way down. The most popular band in the world of date is The Bealtes. I’m not talking a ‘best ever in the world ever’ ranking of soci-economic-pop importance, I mean there are more people in 2009 buying Beatles albums than any other band. How fucking crazy is that! Just who do these Brits think they are? Don’t they know that the Black Eyed Peas have an album out right now!?!

Think about this. A band that emerged from England in the late sixties playing teen bob diddies and r and b covers who eight years later called it quits from an utter internal collapse and loss of meaning is the best band in the world 30 years later. For all intensive purposes The Beatles are a boy-band. They made some of the most rudimentary music into anthems and the most complex music seem mundane. So what’s the draw? Why are people still turning it on? Have we not masterfully evolved enough in the last 30 years to find no such use for some acid dropping, girl chasing, Elvis Disciples - Dylan wannabes? No, my friend, we have not.

Why? Because the Beatles are good. Really good. People like feeling good. People LOVE to feel really good.

In an age where auto-tune and Adobe slabs have sucked the virtuosity and life out of most music, fans are headed back to where they once belonged. Folks will never forget how good songs from The Beatles make them feel, just like we’ll never forget the way Michael Jackson makes us want to dance. What people need is a reminder that what was good yesterday is still good today. It’s been coming for years now. Ray Charles and Johnny Cash re-entered the American conscience and people began to look for sounds that were more pure, basic and with heart. In the past year America has been through a lot. Nowadays we just wanted to be reminded of what makes us happy. We don’t always need to be challenged, alienated, assimilated or bored, we just need something that hits us the right way.

To get to my point, music is going back to its roots and so far it sounds great.
More dead on for my readers, Indie hasn’t died, She’s Gone Country.

Think I am ridiculous? Here’s a list of some of the most exciting bands in Indie today: The Avett Brothers, Elvis Perkins, Heartless bastards, Felice Brothers, The Low Anthem, Bon Iver, … What do they all have in common? Admit it, they all sound like they are playing music from the 60’s and 70’s. It’s pop, sure, but more than anything it is southern in spirit and it plays like the folks songs we were raised on.

I don’t think I’m crazy, I just think every aspect of music that was so great in the 60’s and 70’s became so pasche that it was abandoned and when it tried to resurface in the late 90’s it became so commercialized that any music fan with any dignity turned away. Problem is, the essence of this music is undeniable, it’s in our blood and like the Beatles, it makes us feel good.
I told you so!

So, who’s doing it the best these days?

We’ll discuss next week…

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Time For Livin'

Time to Die - The Dodos
It took a few spins to see what was already before me, just set to a focus I didn’t know to see at first.

When I first let my eyes listen to Visiter I was drawn to the off kilter, almost catastrophic clambering of beats and sounds. The drawn came in the slightness of the sound; direct, hard hitting pop-rock thrown off by altered timing and tilted ambition. It was Califone meets Animal Collective stripped down to a bare bones duo and it is one of the best albums of 2008.
I struggled with Time to Die, but not for long.

The addition of a full-time third member of the band obviously changed the complexion in arrangements and angling of the soundscapes. Where the songs were wanting to wander off into the unknown and odd with previous material it is now syncing in and tightening up. It seem so many bands these days are finding ways to layer more, arrange more, fill voids, introduce depth and complexity (St. Vincent and Andrew Bird to Dirty Projectors and Grizzly Bear), here the Dodos do just the opposite. The easy way to introduce a new member would be to simply add more noise to your sound, needed or not. The opposite becomes the case.

What my eyes are hearing is a dynamic duo diggin deeper within themselves and their sound to deliver a bit of a post-punk new age pop rock on a grassroots, blues level. Minimalism through added experimentation, if you will.

Taking a note from the band, I’ll trim back the wordiness of this review to state what needs to be said.

The Dodos are fast positioning themselves as one of the more worthy bands in the next generation/direction of music. Theirs is a sound that will continue to grow and I look forward to keeping keen eye on their work.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

500 Days of Summer and 10 years of Indie

500 Days of Summer

Over the past few years there has grown a subtle to some and overt to others, blurring of the lines between the mainstream and the world ‘under the radar’ or ‘left of the dial.’ Being Independent used to mean more than simply not having a major label or film house backing your project, it meant that everything about the work you were involved in was uniquely different, often challenging, conceptually reaching and more times than not difficult for the mainstream to swallow. Somewhere between the Arcade Fire and Little Miss Sunshine the world or indie became mainstream and we lost a part of the heart and sincerity that it once possessed. There are pros and cons to argue endlessly for the success of many bands, films and the like, but where these standalones once spoke of a beacon of freshness, they have now entered a world of cookie-cutting, over the shoulder looking, big budget houses.

500 Days of Summer is the prime example.

It’s not to say that Summer is a bad movie, it’s actually quite entertaining and enjoyable, it just lacks soul. There’s no depth to the main character Summer in the same way there’s no depth to the story as a whole, which plays out more of a blatant attempt to reach a mass, yet trendy sector. It’s overt in effort and lacking in sincerity. I found myself numerous times wondering when the story would take an interesting turn, when we would see something beyond eye candy and a reason to plug the soundtrack and rarely found much to hold to. The story is cute if nothing else. To me it just seems like (and I know this is ironic) a pop culture blog turned into a romantic comedy.

I’m sure we were due one, but I had hoped it would have taken itself a little more seriously and looked to design a more powerful ending over gimmicks throughout. Zooey is the postergirl for the mainstream hipster movement and she’s every bit of that in the film. Cliché, cute, but lacking. The film alludes to a deeper side, a romance of spirit and soul, a mystery and charm beyond. Sadly, that’s all it does. It uses voice over to emphasis moments that left alone would drag and feel void of emotion. They have to inform us when Summer is being something other than just static.

This, is sadly what the mainstream is doing to the indie movement as a whole. They are taking the bands, the icons, the films, the clothing etc. and cashing in on it. Which is smart, because it’s gonna sell and good because these artists deserve a buck, but still worrisome as it doesn’t appear that it will bode well for the future.

Things are pure up until the moment they are corrupted. Folks will tell you grunge was amazing until your mom heard about it and then Cobain killed himself. Disco was great until it became a marketing punchline more than a cultural experience and then folks just starting dancing to a different tune.

I see the likes of 500 Days of Summer as not so much a celebration of indie in the mainstream, but rather as a bitter reality that it’s days are numbered.

To be frank, I’m kinda excited about it.

As of late, I find myself quite bored with the same ol scenesters and the lack of originality that being pushed. Already the tides are turning and there is a post-indie movement. The sounds, smells and sights have yet to be pinpointed, but it’s there.

I’ll do my best to enjoy to the final days, but with the passing of 09 and the ending of a decade I feel a wind of change to the air. Gone are the days of 80’s pop, 70’s hippies and soon gone are the days of commercial bands like Nickelback and soulless country and autotune rap, but with it will go the freshness of indie rock. What comes next?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More from the NBA/Music blogger. This time he takes on Country music and for the most part I have to whole heartidly agree with his impressions of modern country music and how bands such as Wilco, MMJ, DBT and the sorts embody more of what country is born to be; from the heart and of the head. I even love how he's not afraid to call some of the what the National does 'country' because it certainly is. In fact a lot of what falls under a broader 'indie' tag is nothing more than what country grew into when those artists intent on music and not pop success created a back to basics but evlolved sound.
See what he has to say:

I'll get back to my work later, just enjoy finding a blogger I can relate to, despite our vast differences in lifestyle we share a commonality in musical taste and perspective on life.

NBA player blogs (rants) about Indie Rock on

Paul Shirley, pro basketball player for 13 years, unleashes on modern pop music, praising the likes of Passion Pit and scathing the inane awfulness of the Black Eyed Peas. Aside from it being far too predictable and annoying for the average LTME reader, we did feel it worth sharing simply because it reminds us that we are not alone in or dislike of all things wrong with pop and wish the best for the 'real' music makers, even if we don't all play in the NBA. I'd like to take this rant a step further and attack most of the shows on TV (I watched a few minutes of More to Love, the fat people dating show; need I say more?), but no one wants to read that.

ESPN ARTICLE: Put Some More Thought Into Your Pop

On the positive side of all this anger and resentment comes a much needed reminder for me to cover more pop culture topics and even more importantly that FOOTBALL season is almost here.

Thanks for stoppin' by.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Losing Control

On a cloudy, hung over Sunday I decided to delve deep within my inner morose world and viewed the 2007 Anton Corbijn film Control, the story of the rise of post-punk icons Joy Division. Admittedly, I am not a seasoned veteran in the world of Joy Division, but have long been a fan of their predecessors and of course the bands that followed directly and indirectly with their sound and style.

The film itself lives up to the British press praise. However, it does make one feel void and eerily removed. The film grows an anxiety with its viewers that often make relaxing and enjoying it difficult. Perhaps the genius is that Joy Division's music delivers the same. Shot entirely in black and white, the film is as much about the cinematography as the acting. If anything, ironically, it’s the storytelling that lacks in this. There are several shots that I paused and watched again, just brilliant scenes. The acting is superb as well, all new to me, but as is rare in rock films, undoubtedly believable at all times. Where I find myself getting lost was in the focus of lead singer/songwriter Ian Curtis and his troubled marriage.

Ultimately his failure to come to terms with a marriage he could never emotionally or physically commit to coupled with growing anxiety about musical expectations and playing live added with his boozing and pill popping to cope with his frantic fits of epilepsy, lead to his self inflicted death at the young age of 23. Sadly, where many artists die in their prime and rob us of a continued glory, Curtis passed well before we saw the height of what he was capable of becoming.

The film tracks the early days of Curtis spinning albums from Bowie and the essential meeting outside of a Sex Pistols show where he commits to becoming the front man to a band with no prior musical experience beyond his ability to write and love of music (maybe there's hope for me yet!). Soon Joy Division would force their way into the scene dominated by the punk movement and the likes of the Buzzcocks, a constantly referenced rival throughout the film.

Joy Division would pummel their way throughout England, filling the airwaves with dark, stammering tunes of angst, confusion and utter frustration. The film bounces from Curtis's affair, his mental and medical troubles, his solitude and creativity extremely well, by the end, presenting them as a complication much as one entity.

On the eve of departure for their first stint of US shows, Curtis would hang himself in his own kitchen, found by his wife whom he had disgraced and abused for years. As you can well see, Joy Division is not just a clever name for this band.

Well worth the watch for fans of rock docs as well as fans of black and white film.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Heavy Hitters, New Album Reviews

Farm - Dinsaur Jr.

Brah, fear not, rock is good hands indeed. J Mascis is a guitar god, much like Mr. White of below, but in a different manner and style...and volume. Dinsaur Jr. may is the rare band to grow over the years in the best possible direction, towards perfection of their craft. They are the quinessential stoner rockers of the alternative era of music and still manage to wow the hard to win over hipsters and modern day rockers because they produce enequivacally the purest of rock around. They try to be nothing but themselves and that's damn plenty. Like Built to Spill, they excell at trying to not excell while making great music. Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective may be the modern movement of indie rock, but they work their collective asses off to come up with soemthing that would be judged to death or written off as unworthy. Dino Jr. just says fuck it and let's it rip. That's not to say they don't care about their art or don't aspire like others bands, it just means they don't have to work so hard, they're just that damn good. I hope the Whigs open for this band, it's a hard rockers dream. Farm is a an awesome rocker.

Horehound - The Dead Weather

Mr. White finds his blood. Brudding, evil, sadistic and thunderous, this album is tighter and more fierce than anything White has done in years and easily the most successful aside from his mainstay of the Stripes. Tagged a super group of sorts, this album takes some of rock's power lords and places them in familiar yet altogether different waters. Taking the lead of vocals is the female star from the Kills while the guitar work is handled by the slasher from Queens of the Stone Age and the bass lines are dropped from fellow Racontuer. This album presents many interesting tempo changes, odd arrangements and swelling sounds and riffs. Worthy of multiple listens, Horehoud will rock you again and again but may never thrill you or amaze you as the lineup of personel may suggest. A powerful and worthy effort, one of the best rock albums of the year.

The Satanic Satanist - Portugal. the Man

After being in awe of their performance at Bonnaroo this year I wasted no time in getting my hands on Churchmouth, a monster of an album. It's dark, devloping, moody, soulful and the way they blends Sanata like jams into Mars Volta like rock explosions is unique in the way that makes you excited to be different. The mystery of this Alaska based band hung heavy on me as I felt I was behind the curve on such an aspiring group, so I anxious to shed the shadow and discover who they really are on their new LP The Satanic Satanist. Sadly, they are not the dark horse in the new era of rock. All the ways that caught my attention live and drew me in more on the previous album have been washed over and smoothed out. The production quality leaves this album seemingly bland at times and far too pop oriented for their audience. This album left me wanting far more, the songs seem to lack depth and there is far too little draw to play them again. It is almost a happy album, the opposite of what I assumed they would put out. Dissapointed. I'll wait to see them live again before spending too much effort on this album.

Monday, July 20, 2009

MCA has Cancer

Leaking Lips

Coyne and Co. have posted a few tracks from their upcoming duo-album opus entitled Embryonic. The tracks take a decidedly, and much appreciated, turn from the straightforwardness of At War. They are spacey and bizarre, as they should be. Early streaming reminds me more of Clouds Taste Metallic and the second half of Yoshimi, and I mean that in a very positive way.

Take a listen via Covert Curiosty:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Time to Die, is right now apparently

Two months ahead of the scheduled Time to Die, we have are presented with the gift of early indulgence. That's right, the Dodos follow up to Visiter is available for stream via there website: . Haven't been able to get a great stream connection so things have been a little chopping in my listening efforts, but so far so awesome. The physical realease date is still set for Septemeber, but to avoid leaks etc. Dodos just want us to go ahead and hear it. Like Trent Reznor has put in so many words the last few days, bands do not make money off of album sales, so give them away if you are trying to make a name for yourself, grow a fanbase and then go on relentless touring. Fo now we get the tunes, hopefully next will be an exhaustive tour (please come to Charlotte!).

Monday, July 13, 2009

Yim Yames and the Beatle they call George

Via Spin:

Jim James is currently taking a little time off from MMJ, to rest and find a new voice (which thankfully is his pre-Urges voice).

He is posting a download of his George Harrison tribute dubbed Tribute To under the name Yim Yames. It's 6 song collection and heart felt rendition of George's finer moments. There are some powerful moments here, namely due to Yim's vocal prowless and heavenly echo, the instrumentation is intentionally subtle and underscoring.

Download for free here: Yim

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Move through the room like ambulance drivers

Beck is becoming a bit of a generation next David Byrne; changing his hair styles so many times now... While Jack White has barely taken a moment to breathe in the last year producing, recording, touring and managing a label and a new store, his pal Beck is taking time to reflect and enjoy himself.

The Beck website has never been a perfect machine, often more confusing to navigate than needed, but now Beck is presenting the basics. Good content, easy access.

For the past few weeks Beck has been inviting friends to swing by the studio and record a one time recording of a famous album. Nigel Godrich (the mastermind behind a few recordings from the likes of Beck, Radiohead, U2, Pavement and Paul McCartney) has his hands in the mix, recording, producing and contributing. So far the debut from The Velvet Underground and Nico is the album of choice and some interesting work has come from it.

Record Club: Velvet Underground & Nico 'Waiting for My Man' from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

Beck also is trying his hand as a DJ. Stream the funky beats of No. 1 Autobahn Hologram from the Planned Obsolescence series, a real treat for avid Beck fans as it is quick to see where he draws from and the arrangements that work in his head.

Finally, he is conducting interviews know as Irrelevant Topics. Posted of late is Tom Waits x Beck Hansen : Part 1 of an interview with Tom Waits, and I must say it is everybit as interesting as you might think that should be.

Beck is Beck.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


The Ecstatic - Mos DefThe best Hip-Hop album I have listened to in years. It is brilliant at times. Stream Quiet Dog from the sidebar and see for yourself. Mos Def is a lyrical beast and he brings the groove and funky beats with him on this go around. Long awaited and worth it.