Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Mix CD

I made a slow music mix for my mom.
It's alright, I think.
It includes:

fleet foxes.
city and colour.
the avett brothers.
dent may & his magnificent ukulele.
mason jennings.
margot and the nuclear so and so's.
iron and wine.
little joy.
she & him.
death cab for cutie.
the lighthouse and the whaler.
nouvelle vague.
patrick watson.
regina spektor.
jim ward.
sun kil moon.

Ever Heard of Evermore?

It's uncannily weird. I feel like nobody in the U.S. knows who Evermore is. Wait, what am I saying? I barely know Evermore. In fact, I only own one Evermore song, and the only reason I know anything about the band is that I just looked 'em up on wikipedia and last.fm

Here's what I can sum up for you:
  • They are New Zealand Natives, currently living in Australia.
  • They have released a few albums, and been nominated/won a gazillion Australian awards.
  • The only reason that I (and prob many other Americans) know about Evermore is from The OC. "Ride On" was featured on the show a few years back.
This is what catches me off guard:
  • Every time I hear "Ride On" I feel more alive than I have in weeks.
  • I seriously want to know more about the Hume brothers (Jon, Peter, and Dann make up the band), but I never really scour the interwebz as much as I should to learn their deep, dark secrets.
  • I honestly love this song. It's an oldie (by, like, 4 years), but a goodie. 
Watch it. I demand this of you.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I like Jay Reatard?

Thanks a lot Pitchfork.
I didn't ever want to think I liked Jay Reatard after he destroyed my faith in indie punk rockers as "normal people." No, he's a complete ass. I don't want to like his new song. But I do.

Feel my hurt, here.

Via Audio: Live Review

It's hard to go into a live show with complete oblivion. I rarely pay to see bands whose music I have not previously taken the time to listen to, unless they are openers or something. In fact, I'm the kind of person who goes likes to listen to the band the entire week before the show - even on the car ride to the show. 

That's why Via Audio was a strange occurrence for me: love at first sound.

I interviewed them for ACRN down in Athens, and went to see their show later that night on a whim. That was back.. oh say... late fall, early winter? They were great. I saw them again when they came to another Athens bar later that year. And I saw them again last night at the Beachland Tavern (cool venue, btw). 

So why so much love? Via Audio is like the carefree younger sister you always wished you could be. She doesn't care about what people think, and she's gonna do whatever she darn pleases. She prances around the house in torn up spandex bike shorts and an oversize t-shirt belting Michael Jackson (tears!), and she eats three pieces of cake instead of one, just because she can.

Via Audio is like that. Their music is professional, well-constructed, and fits into an appropriate indie pop format. But it's pure also whimsical and fun fun fun. David Lizmi plays incredibly tight basslines, Tom Deis is a spunky dude with a great sense of electric guitar mastery, and Adam Sturtevant keeps the tempo upbeat, wobbly, and fun throughout. But Jessica Martins is the ultimate best, the glue that holds the whole group together.

Martins is that little sister. She knows she's cool, but she doesn't care. When a guy shouts to her mid-show, "YOU'RE SWEET," she quickly and wittily responds, "I paid him." She dances, she bangs her head around, she moves around her keyboard like a vixen with the voice of an angel. 

The show included everything I could ever ask for in a small, bar atmosphere... goofball antics (Deis was wearing a kitten shirt and suspenders, for god's sake), a carefree free-for-all (headliners Ha Ha Tonka joined them onstage for a fantastic Michael Jackson tribute), and unpretentious musicality.

"Developing Active People" started the set, which also included foot-tappers "Modern Day Saint," "Presents," and a few new ones I've never heard. "Digital" is one of my favorites live Via Audio songs: a funky synth-crazy groove that mocks Autotune (ha!) with "I don't have to sing my notes on key because the robot sings it right for me." 

Here's the clincher: I brought my dad with me to the show. If a middle-aged music fan with an affinity for The Who and Led Zeppelin can fully enjoy himself while watching Via Audio, I challenge you - find someone who can't.

M. Ward: Blurb

"M. Ward appreciates the cobwebs as much as what they're stuck in." - Jenny Eliscu. 

She hits the nail on the head.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Now Obsessed: Justin Townes Earle

Steve Earle - I can't really say much about him. I know he just came out with a new album that consists of Townes Van Zandt covers, and that the two were best friends. They were also awful influences on each other - boozing, gambling, the whole gamut. So much so that Steve wasn't the best daddy.

He did, however, give Justin a familiar middle name - Townes - after his best buddy. And perhaps he gave him some of the musical genes as well. I've just started listening to Justin, and I really like what I hear. 

The song that really kills me is the one above - a cover of the Replacements' "Can't Hardly Wait." Even though it was recorded from a live show on a (probably) crappy camera, the sound is so warm and inviting I think I'd like to wrap myself in the musical notes and curl up into the fetal position for hours. 

The Avett Brothers, Rowdy on the Bus

This is the best thing I've seen all week. Pure joy begins 1:40 into the clip.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bowerbirds Pt. 2

A preview I just wrote on the upcoming Bowerbirds show in Cleveland... love them!

For most of us, being serenaded is a rare occurrence. It’s even more uncommon when it involves an accordion. So, when the Bowerbirds flutter into town, treat the occasion with special glee - the kind usually reserved for Halley’s Comet or a leap year. The North Carolina-based band creates gentle waves of songs, dealing with its fascination with the Earth’s sacredness and love through ornately crafted lyrics and sweet, careful folk. Bowerbirds has a rotating cast of musicians, but Beth Tacular (accordion, keys) and Phil Moore (guitar) are its mainstays. Matt Damron is playing drums on tour, as Bowerbirds test out songs from its upcoming album, Upper Air. Songs from Air are spacious soundscapes that seem to draw on artists Bowerbirds have recently toured with – Bon Iver and John Vanderslice. “Northern Lights” is a good example of what Bowerbirds do best; while Tacular’s sprightly piano twinkles, Moore’s swinging guitar rocks back and forth, and his vocals caress with the oozing romanticism of “all I want is your eyes, in the morning as we wake, for a short while.” Megafaun and Craig Ramsey & The Nice People open at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $8 advance, $10 day of show.


I'm going to write more extensively about Bowerbirds in a bit, but I need to spill a bit here briefly. This is a two-person team, Beth Tacular and Phil Moore. Songs like "Northern Lights" ooze with romanticism. Ooey, gooey lyrics like "all I want is your eyes, in the morning as we wake, for a short while" bring to mind the kind of sweet feelings and memories that you wish could last forever.

Maybe I'm just a sucker for love songs, but come on, it doesn't get much better than this. 

I don’t need, from you, a waterfall of careless praise.
And I don’t need a trophy for all the games I’ve played. 
All I want is your eyes, in the morning as we wake, for a short while. 
I don’t need you to catch my wandering mind.
And I don’t expect a southern girl to know the northern lights. 
All I want is your eyes, in the morning as we wake, for a short while. 

Gawd. The way the piano twinkles around my favorite lyric, the gentle hugeness of the song, the sweeping guitar that wraps around your ears like a warm cloak... this is good stuff.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Avett Brothers and Appalachia

I seriously am having minor heart attacks. I don't know if that's what you call them. Ohhh, heartACHES. Yes, that's it. I really miss Athens, Ohio. 

When I decided to attend Ohio University, I figured, living in a small town in the middle of nowhereland Appalachian Ohio would be alright for a few years. It would be livable, I told myself. Sure, there would be nothing to do, no shopping, no big attractions, but I could go back to that after college was over.

But now all I want to do is hide myself in the tree-covered hills of Appalachia, turn up the Avett Brothers, and frequent Nelsonville's lovely Stuart's Opera House every weekend. You always want what you can't have right? Not that I didn't appreciate SE Ohio while I was there....

All of this keeps coming about because this dumb mix CD I made for my mom. I try to slowly introduce her to "my" music, which is far too contemporary, fast, loud, and disruptive for her. I give her "cool down" CDs for her aerobics classes. And slowly but surely, even a mid-50something mom starts to like indie music. Works every time.

She keeps playing the Avett Brothers "The Weight of Lies" every single day. I love it to pieces. But it also is bringing a rush of emotions back to me. Among the things/feelings engrained in this song: one of the best live shows ever - Avetts at Stuart's a couple years back, long drives back to Athens, days barricaded in my room, new friendships with special people, and the general feel of walking around a small town, seeing people you know, and smiling at them at the farmer's market.

Music makes me so sentimental sometimes. I'd kill to see the Avett Brothers again.

Little Joy - The Next Time Around

Can you get any better than this? This song has the best summer vibe of anything I've heard in years. The video is the ideal complement. It's all super-low v-necks, flowers in the hair, big sunglasses, beachside... oh gawd. Can I be on vacation right now? Can I be a member of the Strokes right now? Can I move to California right now?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Great One-Liners

"'Idiot Heart' has a melody that is instantly memorable, seemingly already familiar on first listen. It’s like meeting an old friend who you don’t really remember – but they’re so cool that of course you were friends!"

Discovery - LP

Since when does mixing the trendiest of Afro-pop with the catchiest of power pop get you an album of synth-filled electronic tunes? Since Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij got together with Ra Ra Riot’s Wes Miles, giving bloggers around the world somethingother than the damn recession to rant and rave about. Discovery’s LP is the summer’s answer to MGMT, a series of hooky electro-R&B grooves that will be a dance party hit. “Osaka Loop Line” is true to its name, looping synth beats and robotic computer bleeps, and shifting tempo ceaselessly. Eclectic influences infiltrate LP. Discovery gets all T-Pain on us with vocoder vocals on the Jackson 5 cover “I Want You Back,” proving they aren’t afraid to cross over to the mainstream. “So Insane” has sharp Prince-like beats, “Swing Tree” beeps away like your favorite Hot Chip song (or favorite scene in Wall-E), and “Can You Discover?” reworks Ra Ra Riot’s “Can You Tell,” replacing the violin and string arrangements with a maze of wriggled synthesizer and spacey keys. Go ahead: loop the album like Batmanglij and Miles looped the synthesizers. This no-frills, all-fun summer hit is why they invented the repeat button.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Via Audio

A preview I wrote for their Cleveland show, June 25th.

Not everyone can boast about having a degree in creativity. Yet the members of Via Audio met while studying at one of Boston’s best artistic hubs: Berklee College of Music. While there, they learned everything from the business side of the music industry to audio production and performance techniques. Some bands might refuse to learn about music from professors, but it sure worked for Via Audio. Jessica Martins, David Lizmi, Tom Deis, and Adam Sturtevant have an amazing ability to shift genres, styles, and attitudes mid-show. They’ll have the crowd getting down to techno-dance groove “Digital” one minute, swaying to swingy guitar hooks of the jangly indie rocker “Modern Day Saint” the next, and reflecting with eyes closed for moody ballad “Numb.” What can’t be taught at Berklee is charisma, and Martins has it. She dances, flirts with the crowd, and radiates an energy that the whole band emulates. The now Brooklyn-based band will play songs off their debut full-length album, Say Something, among others. Lighthouse and the Whaler and Via Audio open the show for Springfield, Missouri’s fantastically catchy Ha Ha Tonka at 8:30 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $8.

Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer

Sunset Rubdown is batshit crazy music that boggles the mind and confuses the soul. Your blabber mouthed uncle who sits in his rocking chair telling made-up war stories might listen to it. Then again, so might that hipster down the street that lines her closet with American Apparel tees and owns a pair of headphones bigger than your dog. This is probably not music for the masses. Wolf Parade’s Spencer Krug took on Sunset Rubdown as a side project, and with the assistance of three (this time four) other musicians he has released three-full length albums under the moniker. The music sounds like a total mish-mosh at times, with screeching electric guitar sneaking between playful keys, stampeding drumbeats, and Krug’s hyperventilating vocals. Problems arise when the songs lose structure; the lack of musical patterns can come off as sloppy and boring. “Idiot Heart” almost makes up for what the second half of the album lacks. Muted guitar and jagged electric bursts are brought to life with a barrage of bells and twinkles and playfully repetitive lyrics about Greek myths and dying in “a decent pair of shoes.” The first few tracks on Dragonslayer are satisfyingly complex, reason enough to (temporarily) sacrifice your sanity. 

Sunset Rubdown - Idiot Heart

I'm reviewing Sunset Rubdown's new album, Dragonslayer, right now. I can't really say that I enjoy the album very much. It's much too abstract for me in ways... how the distorted guitar just kinda wanders off, how it doesn't always come together in clean, repeated melodies and patterns, how it just doesn't seem very mathematical. I suppose it's experimental. Wait, isn't experimental supposed to still be mathematical? I'm confused. I'm a big fan of Spencer Krug, and everything he does with Wolf Parade, but in Sunset Rubdown, his side project, he takes it a bit too far away from normalcy at times.

That being said, I can't really get over how much I really like a few songs on the album ("Apollo and the Buffallo and Anna Anna Anna Oh!," "Silver Moons") and how much I LOVE "Idiot Heart." So, basically, what I'm saying is buy this album for the first three songs.

"Idiot Heart": dissect:
This song is just so, so cool. It starts with an echoey, muted guitar effect, jagged electric bursts, and some bare lyrics. But THEN, a barrage of bells and twinkles! Right as Krug proclaims "Move around." Ok! They have me bouncing in my seat. Then the electric guitar gets proportionately more squiggly and creeps between all the chiming. And then Krug starts referencing Icarus (greek mythology: Icarus escaped Crete using wings made by his father but was killed when he flew too close to the sun and the wings melted). And Krug starts hyperventilating with whoa-oh-oh-oh's and repeated lyrical phrases like, "look at you go." Enter string arrangements, along with a combo of bells and squawky guitar. It just grooves, it has my head bobbing. And the final line of the song makes no sense to me at all: "I hope that you die in a decent pair of shoes. You got a lot more walking to do."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Jay Reatard

A preview I wrote for an upcoming show... 

Jay Reatard isn’t afraid to let you know he’s a total asshole. At a recent Ohio show, he only waited five minutes into his set to scream, “The sound fucking sucks. It’s like we’re playing in a fucking trailer garage!” His devil-may-care attitude suits him all the same; the Memphis native whips his shoulder-length hair back and forth as he rips out noisy pop songs on a Flying V. Reatard - whose given name is Jay Lindsey – has been making music under the pseudonym since he dropped out of high school at 15. Though he began his music career with the Reatards and the Lost Sounds, Reatard went solo in ’06. He’s currently touring with a bassist and drummer to promote his upcoming release, Watch Me Fall. His shows are pure energy, a mix of clich├ęd head-banging, shouting, spitting, and shredding. You’ll bob your head to songs like “See/Saw” and “Night of Broken Glass,” which are simple, quick, and riff-driven, like most of Reatard’s catalog. The raucous and heavily distorted garage rock sets the mood for a nights of reckless behavior and bad decisions. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New Metric Video - Sick Muse

Is it just me, or is Emily Haines a total goddess? 

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Soundtrack to College.

Grizzly Bear - "Two Weeks"
Beirut - "Nantes"
Ben Folds - "Get Your Hands Off My Woman" (The Darkness cover)
Bright Eyes - "At the Bottom of Everything"
Caribou - "Melody"
Fleet Foxes - "Mykenos"
Nada Surf - "I Like What You Say"
Adam Torres - "Breakneck Jane's 15 Minute Escape"
Andrew Bird - "Skin Is, My"
Animal Collective - "My Girls"
The Apples in Stereo - "Same Old Drag"

To name a few of the hundreds that defined the past 4 yrs...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

St. Vincent - The Strangers

It's already proving to be one of my favorite songs of 2009. St. Vincent is haunting my life! Her voice is so delicate and gorgeous, and her music is like a fairy tale gone wrong. She finds pleasure in mixing beautiful with disgusting distortion. And I LOVE it. It's like being in the best nightmare ever, complete with a pink parasol that gets struck by lighting and burns to pieces. 

This lyric:

"Desperate don't look good on you. Neither does your virtue."

It kills me, people. Kills me.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Trailer Park Interview

Click on the title of this post to hear my interview with Patrick Muhlberger and Jonny Look, the co-directors of Trailer Park. What's Trailer Park? And why am I blogging about a movie on my music blog?

Trailer Park is a feature film students at Ohio University have been working on for over a year now. It's crazy awesome how much hard work went into this project - you'd think we were in Hollywood or something. It's really fascinating that students working on their first feature-length film can create something so wonderful. I've been hearing stories about the filming and shooting of the film for what seems like ever, so I'm really excited for the movie's premiere, this Sunday, June 7th in Athens, Ohio.

Go to trailerparkmovie.com for more details! Hope you enjoy the interview.