Friday, May 29, 2009

Sun Kil Moon

I have literally been incapacitated. I have not really been able to do much in the past 24 hours. Other than my rare escapes from my house, I have been pinned to my speakers, listening to Sun Kil Moon. There is an uncannily strong magnet, pulling my heart to the chords and progressions and noodling guitar of Mark Kozelek's Sun Kil Moon project. Ghosts of the Great Highway is stuck on repeat, and I cannot will myself to stop this madness. I'm hypnotized. 

There are times when I can't even find the words to describe the strong connection I feel with a song or an album or an artist. I know I'm supposed to be writing about the music, but my thoughts are blurred, and all I can do is feel

The whole pace of Ghosts seems to linger, slow and melancholy, and Kozelek's voice doesn't really seem to shockingly change. It just moves effortlessly as the wind blows, floating high and then swooping down as the songs crescendo and crash. String arrangements occasionally swell in the background, but Kozelek's sweetly somber voice and gentle, exquisite guitar picking are the focus. 

It's weird how music can come back and haunt you. Lauren and I used to listen to this album a decent amount sophomore year, and I never really got much out of it. It didn't draw any sort of emotion from me (not that I can remember). I even got rid of the album while I was cleaning my music library a couple years ago. A friend just gave Ghosts back to me, and I feel like something inside of me has re-awoken. I don't know what it is. Perhaps certain music is appropriate for certain times or stages in your life, and only in these times can you thoroughly appreciate the craft and artistry. 

Sun Kil Moon, you have fully entranced me. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Twilight Sad

It's really this simple: I really love this band's name. It evokes just the most wonderful imagery. 

The band itself, eh, I don't know. It's Scottish. I've only listened to one song. Check 'em out for yourself if you are more ambitious than I. 

Matt and Kim - Daylight

So I have been following Matt and Kim on Twitter for a while, just by chance. I was supposed to interview them this summer while I was doing a stint at WJCU, but it didn't work out. Anyway, I had their email in my address book, and when I joined Twitter, they automatically got added under the people I "follow." I kept 'em there because - to be frank - they tweet about amusing things. i.e. Peeing in sinks, freaking out dogs, etc.

So today, I was listening to my iPod on a bike ride, and whaddya know, Matt & Kim's Grand came on. Turns out a friend gave me the album a couple months ago. WHERE HAVE I BEEN? More importantly, how did I not listen to this album sooner?

Just as a sample, the first track, "Daylight" should actually be called "delight." Matt sings/plays the keys, Kim pounds away on the drums. Both instruments are skittery, danceworthy, and just convey a general happiness that only being young and vibrant and alive creates. Maybe you've seen this commercial?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tiny Vipers - Life On Earth

Isolate yourself, cover your head with a snug pair of headphones, turn off all the lights, and light a candle. It’s the best way to listen to Life on Earth, Tiny Vipers’ sophomore album, and her second to be released on Sub Pop. Jesy Fortino, the one-woman wonder behind Tiny Vipers, is an unassuming young songwriter. She huddles over her guitar and avoids eye contact with her audience, but her thoughts are revealed through song. The Seattle-based musician relishes in a certain simplicity in her old folk tunes, and the shimmering emptiness of her haunting voice and stark picking of guitar say a lot without overwhelming. Fortino recorded Life on Earth in an analog studio in Austin, Texas. Recording on tape let Fortino maintain the natural echoes of guitar. At times, it sounds like her voice is coming to you through the depths of a dark cave. It’s not a cheerful listen. “Time Takes” ends with deep bass that spurts out as if a thunderstorm is looming, and “Untitled” layers distorted squeaks over disorienting chordal structures. Yet the album as a whole is sadly beautiful, a trap of ghostlike webs that carries you to a dark, timeless place. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Little Ones Interview

The Little Ones are determined that every single one of their songs will make your feet tap. I'm pretty sure they have succeeded. Click on the title link to hear my podcast with these joyful dudes.

Kevin Devine Interview

Click on the title of this blog post to hear an interview with Kevin Devine. He's one of my favorite musicians of all time, and this interview shows one reason why. Devine is such an easy person to connect with. He embraces fans and interviewers with his words and thoughtful ideas. 

He remembers you. Two years since the last time you talked to him after a show. He'll know your face and connect it with the memory of meeting you. He isn't afraid to go into in-depth conversations with people like me, who he's only talked to a few times in his life. He's ultimately personal. Personable. Intriguing. 

And on top of it all, his music is just as deep and complex as his persona. Gorgeous strumming, lyrics that move mountains, the passion of a man who isn't afraid to scream about his feelings. If you listen, you can spend a half hour of your life with a greatly talented artist and a thoroughly interesting man.

How I Know We Are Not Compatible.

You tell me that you are listening to the leaked version of the new DMB album.

Not to be a music snob or anything...

Ten out of Tennessee Interview

Click on the title of this post to hear my interview with Matthew Perryman Jones and Butterfly Boucher, two of ten amazing musicians who traveled together this summer on the Ten out of Tennessee tour. They stopped through Cleveland, and I had the privilege of interviewing them - and getting them to play a few acoustic songs for me. I can't tell you how much I love both of them.

Bears Interview

Click on the title of this post to hear my interview with Cleveland's Bears, my favorite pop band in Ohio. Right click to download to your iTunes.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Woody Pines Interview

Listen to my podcast with Woody Pines by clicking on the title of this post! Right-click to download.

The Weakerthans Interview

Click on the title of this post to hear/see my podcast interview with the Weakerthans!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lyric of the Day.

The National. "Squalor Victoria"

"Underline everything.
I'm a professional in my beloved white shirt.
I'm going down among the saints."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

N.E.R.D. - She Wants to Move

This is SERIOUSLY my new jam. 

Story behind it: I decided to take completely pointless, exhilaratingly fun classes in my last few quarters at OU - namely soccer, ice skating, and - right now - jazz dance. This dance class is probably the best ever because my teacher can groooove. It's actually quite funny to practice pointy toes and high kicks to N.E.R.D. and Prince and Outcast. 

I've been obsessed a song she plays since day one. I kept forgetting to ask who it is. Today I remembered. "She Wants to Move" by N.E.R.D. I looked on my computer. I've had the song since December. I'm dumb.

The song mixes up your stereotypical hip hop. I've always thought Pharrell Williams was a genius, but I kinda finally realize why. This song fuzes jagged rock guitar, all the catchiness of the hip hop beat, and subtracts annoying whiney hip hop vocals. It's edgy, it builds to a climax, it rearranges itself halfway through... it's endlessly great. Enjoy.

The Dodos and Beer.

I don't know if I was ever a fan of any kind of Miller beer, but this commercial has me wanting some. Kudos for bringing the Dodos' "Fools" to tvland.

By the way, the Dodos are releasing a new album in September. Highly anticipated after last year's Visiter!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest.

When you buy a box of Jelly Belly’s in assorted flavors, you better be prepared for a variety of tastes. Sure, you’ll get watermelon and lime, but you’re also going to taste an occasional popcorn-flavored bean. It’s the same way with Veckatimest, Grizzly Bear’s third full length. The album is a mish-mosh of dramatic mood swings, with each song leaving a new and different taste in your mouth. “Southern Point” hurtles forward with dramatic stringed crescendos, “All We Ask” haunts with its ghost-like vocal harmonies, and “I Live With You” bursts into a violent, tragic fit that would be appropriate in a dark horror scene. Grizzly Bear, one of the indie scene’s biggest buzz bands, has impeccable attention to detail. Each note and every element is handpicked for the exact moment in which it’s played. Songs on Veckatimest build on 2006’s critically acclaimed Yellow House, adding a fourth dimension with layered vocals, hints of dreamlike ambient guitar, and swelling choruses. “Two Weeks” finds the four-member band at its best; frontman Ed Droste’s voice floats over bright, sparkling piano like a honey-sweet Jens Lekman, while the rest of the band sings along in a “whoa-woah” harmony. 

Jets to Brazil. Sweet Avenue.

I'll be the first one to admit that I have not smoked a cigarette in my entire life. If anything tempted me though, it would be this lyric in "Sweet Avenue" by Jets to Brazil.

"this cigarette it could seduce/  a nation with its smoke/  crawling down my tired throat/  scratches part of me that's purring/  softly stirring" 

 Oh, and the song is freaking beautiful. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Grizzly Bear. Two Weeks.

As I review the new Grizzly Bear album, I thought I'd leave you some of my stream-of-conscious writing about my favorite track on Veckatimest. The album comes out on Warp Records May 26th.

"Two Weeks" - whoa-wo-ah-wo-ah on repeat, Ed Droste sounds like a honey-sweet version of Jens Lekman, saccharine piano clattering, harmonies like the Beach Boys' Smile, each piece of the song seems simple, but it's layered into a complex web of puzzle pieces, like the threads of a spiderweb, crossing and crisscrossing – each string on its own doesn’t make sense, but together, they create a miraculously glue, trapping the listener.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I've had a place in my heart for Phoenix for a while now. They describe themselves as "4 Parisian boys with brotherly love." I describe them as 4 Parisian boys who create magical music love. These boys have been creating fantastic little pop ditties since '99.

You all might have heard "Too Young," my all-time Phoenix favorite. It's only been on a bajillion different soundtracks - Shallow Hal, Lost in Translation, some love story with Ashton Kutcher (ighhh, can't remember), etc, etc. 

Yeah yeah, there's no mistake in mixtape. But seriously - you cannot go wrong putting this song on any mixtape/mix CD you make. Unless it's a hi-i'm-going-to-slit-my-wrists mixtape. Phoenix might be a little too cheery for that.

Aaaaanyways, on to the new Phoenix. This week, they come out with Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Kudos to the sweet album name. It's f-ing fantastic. "Why?" you may ask.

1. "Fences" - This song kills it. It's everything you want from a new Phoenix album; it is slightly more entrancing and loopy than the average Phoenix song. It's not as straightforward as their standard pop songs. You get the tingle of little bells, wavy guitar, and the vocals sound a little more spacey and trippy than usual. I'm so into it.
2. "1901" and "Lisztomania" - Hello, Phoenix singles. These are timeless Phoenix. Staccato guitar, punchy drums, and Thomas Mars' hip vocals.
3. FREAKout. The middle of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix gets so fancy. "Love Like a Sunset," parts 1 and 2 are an epic adventure of electronica and experimentation. I don't know if I would have placed it right in the middle of the album, but I think I'm ok with it. Tons of keys and synths take Phoenix out of this world and back, and it's a natural progression from their typical pop music into something very cool. 

Another White Rabbits Update.

Apparently, I caught on to this band just in time. They perform on World Cafe Live this Friday the 15th at noon. Tune in!

White Rabbits.

Wow. Thanks to I Am Fuel, You Are Friends, I just discovered this excellent group.

White Rabbits, of New York City. Spoon's Britt Daniel produced their upcoming album, It's Frightening, and (surprise, surprise!) it sounds very Spoon-like. In a totally great, not-copycat way, I swear. 

The rhythm of each song has a slightly off-kilter edge to it. The wobbly beats are just odd enough to satiate that need for something instinctive and special. Recorded with analog tape, the album has an echo-ey, natural sound to it. Just check out their myspace - they are streaming it for free!

I'm pretty excited about this new discovery. Yes! 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

It's the Little Joys in Life.

Let's be honest. I feel way behind the crowd right now. I've been meaning to listen to Little Joy for months now. I finally got a copy of their s/t debut a few days ago, and it is long overdue.

It's the dude from the Strokes (Fabrizio Moretti) with two pals - Binki Shapiro and Rodrigo Amarante. When I listen to it, I feel like I'm laying on a beach in LA with messy hair and a big bottle of sunscreen.

My friend Will lives in Echo Park, next to LA. All my friends move to cool places like LA, and I remain lame. But that's besides the point. He says there's a bar called Little Joy down the street from him. And that the bar is as chill and laid back as this music. (And where the band name comes from, apparently.) I'm jealous of him, and I want to go there immediately.

Best Riffage Ever

Last fall (or winter) I took a History of Rock class. The next quarter I took part two. The first class was better - we learned about all the first rockers, blues dudes, and all the greatness that was the 60s (definitely my favorite music era, by far). The second class was iffy (heavy metal, eh, death metal, ugh, reggae, eh), but there were a couple highlights.

My favorite song BY FAR that we studied was "Marquee Moon" by Television. It is over ten minutes long, yet the entire song captivates me, time after time. I could listen to this song on repeat a hundred times.

So what is it that I love so much? I believe it's the guitar riffs. They are so jagged, cutting, edgy. Though they are elementally simple, they still sound so fresh and original. So important.

There's a bridge toward the end of the song that includes lots of other magic, but the best part comes right after the bridge. The same riff starts back up again. It's as if the riff is some kind of addictive drug. The bridge is good, but when it comes back to the riff, it's like you got another hit of the addictive substance of your choice. (For me it's chocolate, for some it's coffee, for some it's crack. You get the point.)

This song gets me every time. It kills.

Coconut Records is Not a Label.

As weird as this is, it is a band. Jason Schwartzman's band. As in Wes Anderson darling, Jason Schwartzman (star of Rushmore, The Darjeeling Limited).

His music kinda reminds me of his character in Rushmore. Young, awkward, and weirdly charming. He seriously sounds like a pre-pubescent teen with a penchant for semi-well-written pop songs. 

New Doesn't Always Mean Pornography.

A.C. Newman is a genius on his own. Many will know him as one of the lead singers of the New Pornographers. I just know him as... well, him.

It might have something to do with the fact that I heard his solo work before I ever heard anything by the New Pornographers. It seems to be a weird quirk of human nature to like whatever version of something you hear first. Whatever it is, though, makes me in constantly in love with his solo album, The Slow Wonder.

I find myself singing along to “Miracle Drug,” and whistling along to “Drink to Me, Babe, Then” (even though my whistling sounds like a dog crying, at best). I like the fact that there are inappropriate commas in the middle of the title almost as much as I like the song. As you can tell, really, I like commas in the middle of a sentence. As annoying as they may be to read. 

Thank you, ACRN. One of my first discoveries through this wonderful radio station was A.C. Newman. I picked up one of ACRN’s “Best Of...” mix CDs at some sort of orientation freshman year. Before I even knew what ACRN was, it was turning me on to good music.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Feelings are attached to music. In horrible situations, I try not to listen to music because every song will be tied to that horrible memory.

Today, I put on the Amelie soundtrack, thinking about how beautiful it is. And I was almost immediately overcome with anxiety. In a panicked state, I just kind of dropped what I was doing to think about what was happening to me.

I think this is why. I used to listen to this soundtrack almost every day when I was studying abroad in Spain. I was really homesick and it really helped me get through the days. But to this day, I tie this soundtrack to a feeling that reaches down to the pit of my stomach, a fear and sadness that almost brings tears to my eyes.

I suppose I have my usual anxieties about the changes to my lifestyle. For some reason I have some sort of endless terror when it comes to the people and places I have to leave behind - even when it is temporary. Graduating college in a month = big change.

In the meantime, you take a listen to “Les Jours Tristes” by Yann Tiersen from Amelie. It’s gorgeous.

New Eagles of Death Metal.

i really love this group for their quirkiness. they’ve got some kinda spunky thingamagigger that makes you tap your toes and bop your head up and down. weird tribal noises, miscellaneous percussion, and groovin’ rock and roll guitars.

some notable favorites from past albums include “Solid Gold,” which is an amazing take on what i think you should get when you match jangly bluegrass guitar with futuristic egg shakers and syncopation. (plus, the first lyrics you hear are “sweat. work it out, baby.” this reminds me of Olivia Newton John’s “Physical” in the best possible way.) also, “I Only Want You,” a straight rocker that gets right to the point.

their newest album, Heart On, keeps the ultra-fun ethos going with the same sorts of funky instruments and playful beats. some are saying that the new stuff isn’t as ridiculous or humorous as past material. really? i didn’t notice. the mood is still there.

“Wannabe in LA” starts off with Indian chanting, a Rolling Stones guitar line, tambourine shaking, and a weird effect that makes the bass sound like an instrumental version of how Steve Urkel talks (it’s kinda nerdy and nasal-y, if you can even imagine that in guitar terms).

“Secret Plans” reminds me of a less-experimental version of a Wolf Parade track.

“Heart On” (play on words, much?) has a rattlesnake hidden in one of the mics (listen to that sizzle!), fuzzy fuzzy guitar chorus, and the lovely falsetto lyrics that EODM are known for (or at least should be known for).

Overall, it’s the same plain ol’ fun. Get your groove on, and get this new album.

I Love The Blow.

And i don’t mean drugs.

Rather, I’m referring to Portland-based Mikhaela Yvonne Maricich, a brilliant musician. Jona Bechtolt used to be in The Blow also, but he has since departed to do some solo work under the name YACHT.

Anyway, back to my point. Some mornings, there’s no better way to wake up than to the entire paper television album. It is fabuloso.

I’ll name my top 5 reasons why:

1. TRACK 2 - “Parentheses” - Nobody could create a spooning song better than this. I mean, c’mon, she’s comparing a cuddling position to grammatical symbols. It’s so damn adorable and poppy that it makes me want to hug a kitten. And i don’t really even like kittens that much. Pitchfork also thinks this song rules (check number 55).

2. TRACK 4 - “The Long List of Girls” - These drums are so high school marching band. I really want to be in a parade when I hear this song.

3. TRACK 5 - “Bonjour Jeune Fille” - She sings in French, too?! Killer. I like the simple video game electo-pop here. I feel like I’m Mario, jumping on mushroom heads.

4. TRACK 6 - “Babay (Eat a Critter, Feel Its Wrath)” - Ok, the first time I heard this song, I was kinda confused. Whose point of view is it from? Upon second listen, I realized the lyrics are coming from the brain of an animal that was eaten and then got pooped out in the toilet. If it wasn’t so twee and cute, this song would be absolutely sick. Weirdly, Maricich makes it ok to sing about the unspoken “bowel” topics.

5. TRACK 10 - “True Affection” - The intro makes me want to do the oompa loompa dance. You know, the one where you get a group of people to squat and stand back up alternately so it looks like a big weird group of odd alien creatures. Anyway, it gets me every time.

That’s why I love The Blow’s Paper Television. I hope you love it too, now.

The Vision of a Dying World.

i've written newsletters for undiscovered radio network. it’s kinda fun. especially because it involves getting to know some new, unheard of music.

URN is a radio program that only plays artists on independent (or no!) labels. so every month, i get to find three new indie artists that almost nobody has heard of. this week i had a couple good finds, one of which this post is about.

the vision of a dying world. sounds like a pretty grim name. makes me think of, well, winter, the country under mccain’s control, and mummy’s taking over the planet. all fun stuff, i assure you. anyway, the music is nothing near as dim. it feels playful with bouncy bass, great, clean guitar riffs (ok, maybe a little distortion), and some ritzy sax.

i can’t get this song out of my head. it’s called “skelephone call.” what the hell is a skelephone call anyway?


I’m kinda loving a local Athens band called Russenorsk.

They rock in more ways than I ever would have imagined. I first met the guys when a friend suggested I interview them on the radio, and they were sweet as can be. Their music has always been good, kinda relaxed folky stuff. Well, not always relaxed - Tim Race, Jack Martin, and Zach Inscho put more aggression into a trio of guitar, cello, and drums than you would think.

Their newer material is more raw, more unchanneled, more... well... exciting. It feels kinda post-punky, in the best way possible. Kinda Joy Division.

I love the beautiful touch that the cello adds to their music, but the guitar riffs on every new song blow my mind. Each one seems so simple and unfussy, and at the same time, each hooks you in. Check out the new stuff on their myspace.