Thursday, August 31, 2006

Harp lady strikes again!

Technologically inclined readers can probably get their hands on the new Joanna Newsom album, which is really indescribable. I can't decide whether it is brilliant or overly indulgent, but it's probably both and has me transfixed in the meantime. People have and will mock me, but there is something about her way with words (not to mention unconventional vocal style) that reminds me of Dylan. Obviously she's not at that level, but she really is an amazing poet stuck in a fairy's body. Here's a live version of one of the tracks.

Joanna Newsom- Sawdust And Diamonds (live)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Nickel Creek break up? (I'm Ron Burgundy?)

Sad news. These guys (and girl) put on one of the most entertaining live shows I've ever seen and (though I hate to say it) are one of the first bands to open me up to the world of bluegrass music, which I have come to adore. This was a band that made great records and generated a loyal fanbase outside of any distinct musical circle. They were often too "out there" (translation: not Toby Keith) for mainstream country radio, too poppy for indie circles and though they were incredible musicians capable of improvising with the best of them, too song-oriented for the jam band scene. And after writing a magazine article on local old school bluegrass musicians, I learned that they are seen with downright contempt in some hardcore bluegrass circles. (Of course so is any music made in the last 50 years) Despite it (or maybe because of it) I loved these guys to death for a short period a couple of years ago, and it's sad to see them go. It was always awesome to be able to listen to a bluegrass rendition of a Pavement song ("Spit On A Stranger" from This Side) with my parents. You could always count on them for great taste in covers. RIP.

Nickel Creek- Just (Radiohead cover)

Nickel Creek- I Am Trying To Break Your Heart (Wilco cover)

Nickel Creek- Toxic (Brittany cover)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dylan grunts, critics moan in ecstasy

America's greatest living songwriter released Modern Times, his 31st studio album, on Tuesday, and it's already getting obscenely good reviews. At this point, the guy could fart into an analog tape recorder and the critics would eat it up. Lucky for us, Dylan's voice hasn't gotten to that point yet.

In the last year or so I have absolutely fallen in love with Dylan's recent output. 1993's all solo World Gone Wrong, 1997's brilliant (read: up there with some of his 1960's output) Time Out of Mind and 2001's critically-lauded Love And Theft are all genuinely great examples of someone who has mastered the songwriting craft coasting along on cruise control. Dylan has nothing left to prove. His effect on modern pop music is matched only by a handful of bands and is certainly unmatched by any single man. He perfected folk music with 1964's The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan before single-handedly making rock music more literate and influencing artists in just about every genre of music with Highway 61 Revisited and his output after that. At this point his new albums are merely epilogues of one of the most important careers in the history of American pop music.

With neither the desire nor expectation that he break any new ground, Dylan sticks to the tried-and-true formula on Modern Times. Old standards are tweaked and new tunes are written just like the old ones, with one of the best country-and-western backing bands in the business behind him. Some of the hyperbole tossed around already is kind of silly, but without a doubt this is an album that will appear (and belongs) on many a year-end list. That Dylan on auto-pilot commands such praise is telling - this man is a legend.

Check out the delivery on "Nettie Moore." Unbelievable. Some old and new Dylan follows:

Bob Dylan- Rollin' And Tumblin' from Modern Times

Bob Dylan- Nettie Moore from Modern Times

"Girl From The North Country" from Canadian TV (1964)

"Only A Pawn In Their Game" (live at a Washington, DC civil rights march in 1963)

"One Too Many Mornings" w/Johnny Cash (1969)

"Tangled Up In Blue" (1975)

Awesome version of "Like A Rolling Stone" (1966)

I wonder how often Bob checks his myspace.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Akron/Family on Letterman

Everyone's (my) favorite drugged out, shirtless, psychedelic-hippie-folk musicians are backing someone by the name of Baby Gramps on Letterman tonight. In all likelihood this is past my bedtime (I gots to get up early to pay the bills), but someone hook a brother up and capture it and put it online for me. K.thanx. Here's to hoping they dance around like the picture above. (Thanks to Brooklyn Vegan for the pic)

Not an EP, not quite a full length, (I need more corny Britney references on here) Meek Warrior comes out on September 25 and shows the band fighting their never-ceasing battle with self-indulgence with varied amounts of success.

Mark my words, these guys' self-titled album was one of the best pieces of music of 2005 and they have the talent and the drive to make a classic, genre-defining album. Focus, guys.

Meek Warrior tracklist:
01 Blessing Force
02 Gone Beyond
03 Meek Warrior
04 No Space in This Realm
05 The Lightning Bolt of Compassion
06 The Rider (Dolphin Song)
07 Love and Space

Akron/Family myspace

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Grizzly Bear

A full grown Grizzly Bear can reach close to 1,800 pounds and reach heights of close to 7 feet when standing on its hind legs. In the wild, Grizzlies can live between 25 and 30 years. But what can't a Grizzly Bear do that a group of four Brooklyn-based musicians that perform under the moniker of Grizzly Bear can? Make one of the year's most impressive experimental indie folk albums, that's what. Did you appreciate what Animal Collective was going for, but find yourself kind of creeped out and confused at times? Try these guys, who perfectly blend gentle, detached folk (The Microphones, Nick Drake) with symphonic atmospherics (Sigur Ros) and incredible multi-part harmonies (Beach Boys). "Knife" is a standout track that actually has a bit of an old-school r&b/soul/doo-wop feel to it that reminds me of Brightblack Morning Light. Freak-wop? Alterna-soul?

Their new album Yellow House comes out on September 4th. The guys are opening for indie superstars TV On The Radio this fall, which is yet another concert that I can't afford but will probably cave in and go to anyways.

Tour Dates:
10-02 Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom #
10-03 Vancouver, British Columbia - Commodore Ballroom #
10-04 Seattle, WA - Showbox #
10-07 Fargo, ND - Playmakers Pavilion #
10-08 Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue #
10-09 Chicago, IL - Metro #
10-10 Detroit, MI - Saint Andrew's Hall #
10-12 Toronto, Ontario - Opera House Concert Venue #
10-13 Montreal, Quebec - Le National #
10-14 Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club #
10-19 Washington, DC - TBA
10-20 Baltimore, MD - Sonar Lounge #
10-21 Philadelphia, PA - Starlight Ballroom #

Grizzly Bear- Knife from Yellow House

An awesome video of the band performing "Knife" acapella on the streets of Paris:

Friday, August 25, 2006

Jeff Tweedy in digital video format

His Tweedy-ness is releasing a DVD of his recent West Coast solo tour, entitled Sunken Treasure: Live in the Pacific Northwest. (West Coast, hollajiggawordtoyamutha) I attended the Seattle show and had a great time despite being in the very last row of the Moore Theater. Not enough can be said about this guy's songwriting chops. His solo shows are a testament to how affecting a guy with a guitar can be.

Tracklist: Sunken Treasure, Theologians, The Ruling Class, How to Fight Loneliness, Summerteeth, The Thanks I Get, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, ELT, Shot in the Arm, In a Future Age, Laminated Cat, (Was I) In Your Dreams, Airline to Heaven, Heavy Metal Drummer, War on War, Acuff Rose

Here's some tracks from a solo webcast a few months ago:

Jeff Tweedy- Sunken Treasure

Jeff Tweedy- Acuff Rose (hella unpluged)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's Rock n Roll, baby...

Bands like Vancouver, B.C.'s Ladyhawk make me think this whole "reinventing the wheel" and "being experimental" thing is so last year. I mean what is the point when you can just get together with a few of your friends, drink a few Pabst, turn your amps up to 11 and crank out some rock n roll music like your dad used to? Not everyone has to try to be Radiohead. There's no shame in making strait-up rock music, as long as you do it like these guys do: sloppy, loud and passionate as hell. These guys are one of the more promising parts of this whole indie "return to rock" thing. (Translation: fuck Wolfmother.)

Ladyhawk- The Dugout from Ladyhawk

Ladyhawk- Came In Brave
from Ladyhawk

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My Morning Jacket- Okonokos trailer

Here's a tralier for the upcoming live My Morning Jacket DVD, which should be proof enough that these guys are one of the best live rock and roll bands around these days. CD comes out on September 26th and is very good as far as live CD's go. DVD (complete with killer 5.1 Surround Sound) comes out on Oct. 31.

My Morning Jacket- Okonokos traler (Windows Media)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Chad VanGaalen- "Flower Gardens" video

Here's a video from the single from Chad VanGaalen's Skelliconnection, which is for sale at local CD stores and on the internets. VanGaalen did all the animation for the video as well. His stuff is all over the map, but the guy has some great talent and produces some of the best bedroom pop you're going to hear.

Chad VanGaalen- Sing Me To Sleep from Skelliconnection

Chad VanGaalen- Flower Gardens from Skelliconnection

Chad VanGaalen- Clinically Dead from Infiniheart

Also included are the video and a live version of "Clinically Dead," a standout from his earlier album, Infiniheart.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Parapets, petticoats, bagatelles, etc.

The Muso has a couple tracks from the new Decemberists album, The Crane Wife, which comes out October 3rd. A little bird told me the album is an interesting departure for the band, and includes a couple passages of Jefferson Airplane organ and some hot disco beats alongside some more normal Decemberists fare. Is that as bad as it sounds? Remains to be seen. Suffice it to say, though, that The Tain is still the band's magnum opus.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Late 60's/early 70's : The Band :: 2000's : The Sadies

And The Sadies' new live double album, In Concert, Vol. 1, bears striking resemblance to The Band's 1978 farewell concert, The Last Waltz. Start-studded guest appearances (or as star-studded as the Toronto Americana scene gets) including Neko Case (the same one that released one of the best records this year, Fox Confessor Brings The Flood), Garth Hudson of The Band (see, I'm not insane), Gary Louis of The Jayhawks and Jon Langford of The Mekons. The Sadies have been providing the perfectly orchestrated background for Case's records for a couple years now, and their cross-genre musical talent is even more obvious on In Concert, Vol. 1. Americana is really just where it starts - there's the occasional instrumental surf tune, Neil Young rock out and post-punky guitar lick in there too. These guys are pretty much guaranteed a spot on my upcoming "Fuck you, Tody Keith (So You Think You Hate Country Music)" mix, which is still in the theoretical stages.

The Sadies- Lonely Guy from In Concert: Vol. 1

The Sadies (w/Neko Case)- Evangeline from In Concert: Vol. 1

The Sadies- Memphis, Egypt
from In Concert: Vol. 1

Friday, August 18, 2006


Tom Waits will release a 3-CD album of B-sides and outtakes, entitled (in true Waits style) Orphans. Not as good of news as brand new material or a large-scale tour, but good news all the same. I'm sure I've covered it before, but Waits and his wife Kathleen Brennan deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Elton John/Bernie Taupin and Lennon/McCartney when it comes to songwriting teams. Waits has an incredible hold on the nuts and bolts of pop songwriting, though it is sometimes hard to see through the gravelly voice, sparse instrumentation and macabre lyrical themes.

What does Waits have to say about the album?
"Orphans [contains] rough and tender tunes. Rumbas about mermaids, shuffles about train wrecks, tarantellas about insects, madrigals about drowning. Scared, mean, orphaned songs of rapture and melancholy. Songs that grew up hard. Songs of dubious origin rescued from cruel fate and now left wanting only to be cared for. Show that you are not afraid and take them home. They don't bite, they just need attention."
Well there ya go.

Tom Waits- The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)
from 1976's Small Change.

Tom Waits- Day After Tomorrow from 2004's Real Gone

Tom Waits- Tango 'til They're Sore from VH1's Storytellers.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Must be the big star about to fall...

Jason Molina is back with a solo and Magnolia Electric Co. album, proving once again that he is the closest thing we currently have to a 1970's Neil Young (you know, the drugged out, depressive as hell, Tonight's The Night one). The guy has a voice to kill things for. Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go is just the guy and a piano or guitar, lo-fi like The Microphones- The Glow, Pt. 2, all insular, dark and lonesome. Fading Trails is Crazy Horse-era rocking and contains some of the guy's best songwriting to date. For the uninitiated, I've included "Farewell Transmission," which ranks as one of the best songs of the last 6 years.

Magnolia Electric Co- Lonesome Valley from Fading Trails.

Jason Molina- Everything Should Try Again from Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go.

Songs/Ohia- Farewell Transmission from Magnolia Electric Co.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Youtube: A homeless blogger's best friend

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists- Me And Mia

Elliott Smith- The Biggest Lie

Akron/Family- Love And Space

My Morning Jacket- At Dawn (Bonnaroo)

Friday, August 11, 2006

You are my rising sun

In addition to having a boss band name, The Heartless Bastards make awesome female-led garage rock. Their newest album is titled All This Time. Think of a less post-punky, more Midwestern Yeah Yeah Yeahs or a bluesier Sleater-Kinney. It's very simple yet anthemic in a Ragged Glory-era Neil Young sort of way.

Heartless Bastards- All This Time from All This Time

Heartless Bastards- Searching For the Ghost
from All This Time.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

YouTube randomness

Ryan Adams showing how awesome he can be when he puts his mind to it:

Jeff Tweedy solo- "Theologians":

Yo La Tengo- "Stockholm Syndrome"

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Four days between posts? What a bad blogger I am. Apologies; learning half-assed bluegrass songs for a friend's wedding, entertaining another friend in the country from Brazil and working for no pay keeps me busy. But speaking of Brazil, I have something for you. You may hate it - you'd be well within your rights to do so. But I promise you'll be entertained at least for a bit. Guillemots are the newest British export, and are above average as far as British-hyped bands go. Think Coldplay/Jamie Cullum, but slightly less annoying (only slightly) and with extravagant symphonic work behind it all. My disdain for a majority of Britpop keeps me from really enjoying it, but this track, the album's closer, is pretty damn impressive, I must say.

Guillemots- Sao Paulo from Through The Windowpane

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Turn it up to 11

It's August, the sun it out, the birds and the bees are doing their thing and even those of us that are more predisposed to mellowness feel the need to drive real fast with the windows down and listen to loud, fast and happy music. August is made for rocking out. It is, therefore, time for some Ted Leo & The Pharmacists. Guy knows how to blend all the good parts of punk, pop and indie music. Plus you have be pretty balls-to-the-wall to be able to bang your head to a bloody pulp on the microphone to end your set, as Leo reportedly did at the Pitchfork Festival last week. Guy puts on a bonkers live show if you get the chance.

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists- Timorous Me
from The Tyranny of Distance

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists- Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone from Hearts of Oak

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists- Me And Mia from Shake The Sheets

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists- Since You've Been Gone (Kelly Clarkston cover)/Maps (Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bejar! Krug! Mercer! Canada! Indie Rock! Awesome!

First track from the upcoming Swan Lake project from Dan Bejar (Destroyer), Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade/Sunset Rubdown) and Carey Mercer (Frog Eyes). Hopefully just the beginning of the awesomeness to come. Supergroup of the year. So awesome that complete sentences are pointless.

Swan Lake- All Fires

Thanks to The Rawking Refuses To Stop

I used to be carried in the arms of cheerleaders

Here's a three-part mini-documentary on The National, complete with band drama and kinda silly commentary. In hind sight, I was wrong when I thought Alligator was really good. It was fucking awesome - hands down one of the best albums of last year. Like all of the best albums, it only gets better with each listen. This thing is full of one-liners that say more than most full songs.

For those that have never heard the band:

The National- Secret Meeting from Alligator

The National- All The Wine from Alligator

The National- Abel from Alligator

Oh "Abel," how hard dost thou rock?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

New Joanna Newsom!

New album is apparently called The Ys. 11/14. A self-indulgent review about how no one but me seems to understand the brilliance of this woman's earlier work, The Milk-Eyed Mender, is in the future. Can't wait to explain to the new roommates why I'm listening to what sounds like a ten-year-old girl singing and playing harp for two weeks. For now, just enjoy and admire the beauty (I'd be her Fireman):

Joanna Newsom- Bridges And Balloons (.wma file)

Joanna Newsom- Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie (.wma file)

Her national television debut, possibly the only worthwhile thing to ever come out of The Jimmy Kimmel Show:

Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy) covering Newsom's "Peach, Plum, Pear":