Sunday, April 30, 2006

My Life Is Brilliant

The Figurines are from Denmark, and make really good, catchy, jittery indie rock that reminds me of The Dismemberment Plan (RIP) or a less jammy Built To Spill. Except for the first track, "Race You," which doesn't sound like either of those bands, but is really awesome.

The Figurines- "Race You"

The Figurines- "The Wonder"

The Figurines are touring with Tapes N' Tapes, who are an equally awesome band:

Tapes N' Tapes- "Insistor"

06-04 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom *$
06-05 Cambridge, MA - Middle East Club *$
06-06 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom *$
06-07 Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church *$
06-08 Baltimore, MD - Fletcher's *$
06-09 Atlanta, GA - The Drunken Unicorn *$
06-10 Nashville, TN - The Basement *$
06-12 Dallas, TX - Gypsy Tea Room *$
06-13 Austin, TX - Stubb's Barbeque *$
06-15 Tucson, AZ - Solar Culture *$
06-16 Los Angeles, CA - Echo *$
06-17 San Francisco, CA - Café du Nord *$
06-18 Portland, OR - Berbati's Pan *$
06-19 Seattle, WA - Crocodile Café *$
06-22 Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge *$
06-23 Omaha, NE - Sokol Underground *$

There's someplace in Georgia called the "Drunken Unicorn?"

Also, I Guess I'm Floating has a couple of rather interesting covers. Josh Ritter's cover of "Blame It On The Tetons" is downright pleasant, as is his new album, The Animal Years. James Blunt does a surprisingly decent job with "Where Is My Mind," but that doesn't change the fact that "You're Beautiful" is a terrible song and the guy is creepy enough to make my skin crawl. You know why that chick on the subway you're obsessing about didn't talk to you, James? You have beady raccoon eyes.

The Figurines' Myspace, Tapes N' Tapes' Myspaces'

Friday, April 28, 2006

A few quick things:

There's a new track from Sufjan Stevens' upcoming Illinois B-side collection available. My computer at work doesn't have speakers, so I can't tell you how it is, but I think it's funny that an album that was already a bit too long and full of filler has so many B-sides.

Neil Young's new anti-Bush protest album is reportedly streaming from his website, although I can't get it to work, so I'll just stick to listening to Harvest and On The Beach.

Also, David Thomas Broughton is touring the States. I'll give you a long-winded disertation on why his album The Complete Guide To Insufficiency was one of the better albums to come out last year some other time. I'll probably use words like "haunting," "ghostly" and "beautiful," as well as the best buzzword/genre of the last couple years, "freak-folk." Until then, let us all listen to "Ambiguity" on his Myspace and pray that he doesn't forget us over here on the West Coast.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Borrowed Tunes

Cover songs = awesome. Neil Young = even more awesome. People covering Neil Young = Off the hiz-ook. The list of artists that have paid tribute to this man speaks for itself. If you've never listened, do yourself a favor and go get ahold of Decade or Harvest right now.

Ryan Adams (w/Gillian Welch)- Helpless

James Mercer(The Shins)- Harvest

Thom Yorke- After the Gold Rush

Smashing Pumpkins- Cinnamon Girl

The Constantines- Cinnamon Girl

Neko Case- Dreaming Man

Iron & Wine- Cowgirl In The Sand

Pearl Jam- Fuckin' Up

Pearl Jam- Harvest Moon

Pearl Jam (w/ Bono)- Rockin' In The Free World

Elliott Smith- Out On The Weekend

Hayden- Tell Me Why

Built To Spill- Cortez The Killer

Also, if anyone has this, or a recording of Akron/Family doing "For The Turnstiles" or any other good Neil covers, let me know.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A burning inferno of "Ba-ba-ba"

Suburban Kids With Biblical Names is a fun little Swedish indie pop group that makes music that is catchy and innocent, yet not as silly and trite as some of the indie pop out there. I'm not sure if they meant to name themselves after a David Berman lyric, but kudos to them either way. Here are two tracks, one from their first EP, brilliantly titled "#1," and their second EP, the equally brilliantly titled "#2." To top off the irony, both tracks are on last year's full length, entitled, you guessed it, "#3." Oh, those silly Swedes! Listen if you like: Belle & Sebastian, Jens Lenkman, etc.

Suburban Kids With Biblical Names- "Rent A Wreck"

Suburban Kids With Biblical Names- Funeral Face


And in other news, has a new Sufjan Stevens Illinois B-side that's pretty decent.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

TBS Recommended: Neko Case- Fox Confessor Brings The Flood

This album is a giant step forward for Neko Case. While her earlier albums relied mostly on her impressive vocal chops, Ms. Case sounds much more restrained and mature on this record, letting the lyrics and arrangements carry the album instead. There is nothing on the album as flashy and diva-ish as "Deep Red Bells" from 2002's very excellent Blacklisted, but this album does fine without the flair. Instead of letting her voice soar simply for the sake of soaring, Case's delivery goes hand in hand with the development of her characters inside the songs, whether it is the frustrations of a perennial underdog in "Margaret Vs. Pauline" or the faith of a lovelorn single woman in "That Teenage Feeling." The tracks are generally short, yet packed full of a beautiful lyrical imagery only hinted at in Case's earlier work. Anyone who has taken a course on writing knows to "show, not tell" when telling a story. Fox Confessor Brings The Flood does this beautifully, sketching 12 separate stories with enough vibrant details to pique your interest into each track's deeper meaning, but leaving room for the listener to attach their own meanings to the songs. The instrumentation, arrangements and production all fit the album perfectly, giving the songs a solid foundation for Case to work her magic over. All of these qualities come together beautifully in "Star Witness," a haunting recollection of gang violence in Chicago that may very well be the best song released so far this year. It takes a lot of great songwriting to overshadow a voice like Case's, but Fox Confessor Brings The Flood is Case's way of asserting herself as an artist to be remembered as more than just a pretty voice singing old-fashioned country songs. Fox Confessor Brings The Flood is a startlingly mature album that truly gets better with each listen. Listen if you like: really good alt-country music, early Wilco, Gillian Welch, beautiful things.

Neko Case- Star Witness

Neko Case- That Teenage Feeling

On top of that, homegirl is smokin' hot:

Monday, April 24, 2006

I wish I knew how to quit you, Ryan Adams

So Ryan Adams live was everything I expected: absolutely mind blowing and completely frustrating simultaneously. The man went through a pack and a half of cigarettes, a bottle of wine and two other mixed drinks over the course of the show, took 3-4 minute breaks between songs to fidget with papers (apparently none of which contained the lyrics to "La Cienga Just Smiled") and carried on conversations with the picture of Jerry Garcia on the table next to him. And yet he somehow still managed to bring the house down on several occasions. "Sweet Lil Gal" to open the show was just bone chilling, and sounded much like the following version, from a 2002 show. It's hard to explain without being there and seeing the man belt out the high notes on the "she makes you feel nice" line while simultaneously smoking a cigarette. This fucker is so good it's unfair. If I get ahold of a good copy of the show and get permission, I'll host it for all y'all.

Ryan Adams- Sweet Lil Gal (10/20/2002)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Desolation, yes. Hesitation, no.

The Smashing Pumpkins were the first band I ever loved. Long before my unhealthy Ryan Adams fixation and my unfortunate Dave Matthews Band period (anyone want 150 DMB bootlegs?), this band got me through my angsty, awkward teenage years. Billy Corgan was the only thirty-year-old man that knew what I was going through. To this day, I still contend that Siamese Dream is better than Nevermind and the Pumpkins join Radiohead on the short list of 1990s alternative rock bands that are even worth listening to anymore.

So you'd think the 14-year-old in me would be awkwardly and unalthletically jumping for joy at the recent news that the Pumpkins are officially back together.

I'll admit, it's not bad news. But years of either painfully average (Zwan) or unspeakably bad (The Future Embrace) Billy Corgan post-Pumpkins projects have taught me to approach anything my former hero touches with extreme caution. If this reunion leads to new material, great. If it leads to material that doesn't take itself so seriously and builds on the promising ideas explored on MACHINA and MACHINA II, even better. But all I'm asking for is a tour where they play the old stuff. Not the radio hits, but all of those unappreciated gems on the multi-platinum albums ("Rocket", "Thru The Eyes of Ruby") and the last half of Adore, which is some of the best work they ever released.

For now, I'll believe it when I see it. But to prove how great this band was, here are some stellar B-sides:

Smashing Pumpkins- Never Let Me Down Again (Depeche Mode cover)

Smashing Pumpkins- Glynis (No Alternative Compilation)

Smashing Pumpkins- Speed Kills

Smashing Pumpkins- Set The Ray To Jerry

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Top of the Pops

So do you want a sneak peak of the song of the summer? The killer pop hook that will be drilled into your skull by the corporate media machine? You're gonna be singing this thing in your sleep. "Crazy" is the second track:

Listen to the whole album

Gnarls Barkley is the collaboration of DJ Danger Mouse (of The Grey Album fame) and Cee-Lo, a former member of Goodie Mob. This song also made history by going to the top of UK charts prior to its release based on just downloads.

Here's a pretty cool live performance of it to.

Enjoy it before radio ruins it, people.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

TBS Recommended: Destroyer- Destroyer's Rubies

This is the first of many installments of TBS (you know you're important when you abbreviate yourself) Recommended albums. In order for an album to get an official TBS recommendation, it must be a strong contender for album of the year. This is not for flash-in-the-pan albums that you listen to religiously for a week and then forget about. This is for truly great albums that deserve the attention of not just readers of Tall Buildings Shake, but the music-buying public in general. If you take anything from this blog, may it be an appreciation for these TBS Recommended albums.

Destroyer's Rubies is the latest album from the band Destroyer, which is the brain child of Dan Bejar, who you may know from The New Pornographers. While I'm still trying to wade through Bejar's back catalog, Destroyer's Rubies seems to be the man's most mature, complete and solid effort to date. Bejar has a very distinct lyrical style and delivery. He sounds a bit like David Bowie, though a bit less theatric and even more "yelpy" in the Canadian-indie-arcade-wolf-fire-parade sense of the word. His lyrics were made for unemployed English grad students to chew on - esoteric and seemingly meaningless, yet poetic and awesome. "Dueling cyclones jackknife/ they got eyes for your wife/ and the blood that lives in her" is quite a way to start an album. But before you can begin to analyze Bejar's bizarre couplets, he hits you with one of the album's many great pop "la la la" sing-a-long choruses and all is right in the world. Destroyer's music is a brilliant mix of classic rock with indie sensibilities. Here's a couple standouts, but there's hardly a bad track on the album:

Destroyer- "Rubies"

Destroyer- "Looters' Follies"

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Wistful Canadian Indie Pop

Some wistful Canadian Indie Pop for your wistful Spring afternoon.

Band name: The Acorn (even worse than Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!)

Album title: Blankets EP

Location: Ottawa, Canada

Vocals: emotive, earnest, wistful, Gibbard-ish

Music: college kids with guitars, poppy

Sounds Like: Death Cab For Cutie, Stars, wistfulness, etc.

The Acorn- "Blankets"

The Acorn- "Books"

Oh, and here's another reminder why Radiohead better have a Northwest date when they tour America this summer:

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Don't Get Sentimental On Me

By all accounts, I shouldn't like Ryan Adams. He doesn't make much attempt at hiding his influences. Heartbreaker was Gram Parsons, Gold was the Rolling Stones, much of Love Is Hell sounded like Smiths covers, Rock N Roll sounded like every rock cliché in the last 20 years, Cold Roses was the Grateful Dead and Neil Young and Jacksonville City Nights was Gram Parsons again, etc. Nothing Ryan does is particularly unique or groundbreaking. He's never written an OK Computer, never pushed any musical boundaries and will probably not be remembered 30 years from now. His songs often, for better or worse, sound like they were thrown together in 20 minutes. On top of it all, the guy is a huge dick and his record label may be sending two of his fans to federal prison for 11 years for leaking a few tracks of JCN to a fan web site. (That's for a whole other post.) So why is Ryan Adams my most played artist on iTunes and, and why is "Come Pick Me Up" my favorite song to drunkenly play on guitar?

I wish I could give you some concrete and rational reason. But I can't. I have no idea why this guy's music has so much emotional resonance with me. If he doesn't cancel his Seattle date for a third time, I'm seeing him a week from now at the Moore Theater. I'm a firm believer that when it comes to music, if someone can't bring anything new to the table, they sure as hell better be able to do the old things well. And I can safely say that there are currently very few out there that are as good as Ryan Adams at the "singer/songwriter" shtick that Bob Dylan and Neil Young perfected in the 1960s and 1970s. Every time a new Ryan Adams album comes out (three times last year), you can bet I will be listening to it once a day for a month. Occasionally great lyrics, classic instrumentation and sound, and a perfect delivery; this guy has written some amazing folk songs. If you need a crash course, contact me and I will get you my Ryan Adams mixes, which have converted about half a dozen people. For now, here are a couple live versions of new songs from his brief (semi)solo tour of England. Fast forward through the banter after the songs; it's easier to appreciate Ryan if you don't have to listen to him talk.

Ryan Adams- Don't Get Sentimental On Me (2/18/2006)

Ryan Adams- Lighthouses (2/18/2006)

Oh, and Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Band of Horses

So if you haven't heard of Band of Horses by now, you most likely will soon, based purely on what I like to call the "Pitchfork effect." It goes like this: band releases a pretty decent but not terribly ground-breaking debut album, high profile online music magazine gives album more credit than it deserves, music blogs everywhere are forced to reconcile the album's mediocrity with their realization that if the high profile music magazine thought it was amazing, then it must be amazing. Band of Horses' Everything All of the Time is the band/album in our little theoretical. While I wouldn't call it mediocre, it is certainly riding a wave of other people's e-hype, which led to Nuemos being packed on Thursday for the band's CD Release concert. I already let down the two people that have read the blog so far by forgetting my camera, but (thanks to KEXP), I have some tracks (from KEXP studios, I believe) for download:

Band of Horses- "The Great Salt Lake"

Band of Horses- "Part One"

Band of Horses- "Wicked Gil"

Band of Horses- "The Funeral"

Part of the band's appeal is that lead singer Ben Bridwell is extremely likable. The guy plays/squeaks his heart out, and though the band is still a bit rough around the edges, they kept the crowd entertained. When the band opened up for Iron & Wine last year, I remember thinking, "these guys aren't very good right now, but they could be one day." They are on their way right now. They also covered Gram Parson's "Return of the Grievous Angel," which was downright decent. If I can find another copy of the show, I'll put that up for you.

Oh and here is my favorite track from the album, the Shins-esque "Our Swords"

Thursday, April 13, 2006

When I used to go out, I would know everyone that I saw...

So there is this band called The Walkmen. They are from New York, and they rock. And they are one of the only "indie rock" bands out there that doesn't steal things from the Talking Heads. They have a new album coming out next month, which is taking a tremendously long time to leak. If they improve as much as they did between their first album (Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone) and their second (one of my favorite albums, Bows + Arrows), then A Hundred Miles Off is going to be a monster. Here's "Louisiana," off the new album, ripped from their myspace:

The Walkmen- "Louisiana"

A horn section + The Walkmen = awesome.

And some older tracks, best played with the volume knob at 11:

The Walkmen- "The Rat"

The Walkmen- "Wake Up"

That's it ... I'm starting a music blog

Welcome to Tall Buildings Shake. This is a place where I can fufill my innate, unholy and unquenchable urges to tell people about music I like. I have no expectations for this blog, other than that it will be a place where I can post about great music new and old. Perhaps someone else will get something out of it, or perhaps it will just be a place where I can write sloppy, vauge disertations on my favorite bands because I like the sound of my own voice. Only time will tell. I will attempt to keep political/personal rants to a minimum. What I will try to do is offer some downloads of songs videos from artists that I enjoy and think that someone else may enjoy. If you do, great. If not, no worries. I will attempt to post every couple days, but I make no promises. The internet takes up far too much of my life as it is.