The Sheds - Reflection of the Sun (from You've Got A Light)
The Sheds - Too many pictures (from the Sheds quit smoking)
The Sheds' Website / Myspace
In other music news: new Stars album to be released Sept 25, Bondo do Role tour dates
Stars - The Night Starts Here
The resulting album is something of a mixed blessing. With "Rain" and "Butterfly Nets" I'd argue the album versions of the songs are a significant improvement from the EP versions ("The Flood" on August's EP being the live version of "Rain"). "Middle Management" (posted yesterday on You Ain't No Picasso) and "Choose Again", of which only live versions existed prior to the recording of the Broken String, are both additions to the band's catalog.
However, in some cases the newer versions of songs are by no means better. Of all the tracks on the album, "Corazon" provides the clearest example of how more complex instrumentation can take away from a song's charm rather than add to it. The first 40 seconds of the album version are simply painful, and by the time Justin Rice utters the word "Corazon" I found myself thinking that I felt a good deal more sympathy for the piano before I heard what it actually sounded like. Without the introduction (those 40 seconds) the song would have been a perfect acceptable re-interpretation of the original.
Nowhere else on the album are the changes so blatantly damaging or is the new recording not on par with (or better than) the old one. Even so, the Broken String still loses the expectations game for fairly obviously reasons - most of the material isn't new and the album's versions of songs don't blow you away. Is there a lesson to be learned here? Yes, but...
I'd argue the ultimate test of any album is this: Would I buy it? Would I tell my friends to buy it? Would I buy it for them?
The Answers: Yes, yes, and yes.
Buy Bishop Allen albums, EPs; no information on how to pre-order The Broken String yet, it's out July 24th
Tour dates w/ Page France and the Teeth (DC on July 22 and Dayton, OH on Aug 11)
Bishop Allen - Like Castanets (file removed by request)
Bishop Allen - Rain (The Broken String)
Bishop Allen - Middle Management (The Broken String) at You Ain't No Picasso
Bishop Allen - I Get Along (December EP)
The big deal is that Fox News covered the story at all, and even devoted a round table discussion to it. Here goes:
Anne Coulter's recent encounter with Elizabeth Edwards has definitely contributed to her ongoing hilarity. If it ever turned out that she was actually a comedian satirizing the right I would laugh and laugh and laugh. The best part is that she isn't. On MSNBC this morning...
Octopus was released in March, and a single for "Listening Man" was released just a few days ago on June 25. Besides my obvious shame, the main reason I'm posting now is that the music video for "Listening Man" is adorable. I have a really hard time with music videos from indie pop bands, but this is an exception.
The Bees - Listening Man (Buy stuff)
Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love released Ends of June on May 29 (the irony), but since we're nearing the end of June now...
Low Low Low La La La Love love Love - My Ears Are For Listening
Buy Ends of June
Hitting up important cities: Interpol, Ben Kweller, The White Stripes, Okkervil River, Wolf Parade, Ryan Adams, Band of Horses, Georgie James, Limbeck, The Magic Numbers, The Format, Spoon (though I'm not sure the Virgin Festival counts), Midlake, Bishop Allen, Page France, Au Revoir Simone, Oh No! Oh My!, +/-, Rufus Wainwright, Get Him Eat Him, Built To Spill, Deerhunter, Girl Talk, Voxtrot, Josh Ritter, Neko Case, Fujiya and Miyagi, Ra Ra Riot, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Nomo, Benjy Ferree, Old 97's, the Polyphonic Spree, Editors, LCD Soundsystem (again, Virgin Fest), Devendra Benhart (is playing his DC date in a Synagogue?), TV on the Radio
Okkervil River - Out Life is Not A Movie or Maybe
Spoon - The Underdog
Girl Talk - Pure Magic
Josh Ritter - Girl in the War
Band of Horses - The Funeral
Wolf Parade - My Father's Son
Get The Format's Dog Problems for free until July 16
Touring while missing the point: Bloc Party, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, , Klaxons, Beirut, The Rapture, M. Ward, The Flaming Lips, Pete Bjorn and John, The New Pornographers (not cool, I love them to death and am finding this upsetting)
The New Pornographers - My Rights Versus Yours
The Washington Post is running a great 4-part series detailing Cheney's role in major administration decisions.
- Some random country singer doesn't have a crush on Fred Thompson, just his politics. Unlike Obama...
- Did you know? Hillary Clinton's been poll-testing negative attacks on the other Democratic front-runners. Also noteworthy: according to Patterico (see blog), she's going to win the nomination because all the metaphorical skeletons in her closet have been rotting on the White House lawn for years.
- from the Post: how Kelly Clarkson can save her career.
- The Harry Potter movie kiddos have some fashion problems. I'm also going to take this opportunity to point out the "Outstanding" I got on the most recent Wombat. I'm such a nerd.
I haven't done a new band love post in a while, so here go two bands (many more to come):
the Eames Era - Last to Know
Heroes and Sheroes was released in April, and still I've managed to miss this band despite some serious blog-love they have going on. No more. Think indie pop and you've got them pegged.
Buy stuff (iTunes, their website)
Limbeck - Big Drag
I posted a track from their 2005 release, Let Me Come Home, a few weeks ago without realizing that they released a new self-titled album in April and are touring with the Format! Limbeck = folk rock, alt country - whatever you choose to call it.
Buy Limbeck (on iTunes or from Doghouse Records)
More tracks at Purevolume
Some important (Limbeck) tour dates:
8/25 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
8/29 Cleveland, OH @ The Agora Theatre
(More tour dates at Limbeck's website)
(download the Format's live set on the Interface)
In the meanwhile, The Lone Microphone has a review of the Ryan Adams' show in Detroit and eMusic has a FREE Pitchfork Music Festival sampler.
...you can only fully understand how god-awful this is once you've heard the song, and I wouldn't want to direct you to someplace where you could possibly make a donation to the Clinton campaign. So hear it on YouTube.
Despite the fact that Giuliani's running his entire campaign on natural security, Iraq just isn't that high of a priority for him.
- The National played at the 9:30 Club last night, NPR's going to have some audio up later (update: no download, too bad). In the meanwhile you can console yourself by downloading Andrew Bird's 9:30 club show in May. The full concert.
- new Islands tracks have been leaked, and I'm ashamed to say I didn't realize there was another album in progress until yesterday. Yikes! I guess I'm floating has 3 new tracks posted here and here. Previously: My girlishly excited post on Islands at the 9:30 Club last March.
- Oh No! Oh My! has a new EP, Between the Devil and the Sea, to be released on August 7th. They're also touring, heading over to Cleveland on August 16 and DC on September 5. Hate Something Beautiful has more info.
- There's a new Beirut album being released on October 9, no title yet, but we've got the tracklist and some tour dates (they've skipped my cities, darn it).
- Midlake is touring this fall, and will be crashing in DC on September 6 and Cleveland on uh...9-11? some more dates.
(buy Oh No! Oh My! on Amazon.com)
Beirut - Elephant Gun
(buy Lon Gisland EP on eMusic)
I have massive quantities of great new music I need to post on sitting on my computer right now, I just need to stop procrastinating...
I'm writing this post hoping that potentially someone will inform me about ways to fix this problem.
(Update: problem fixed)
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - Stop the Bus (from This is Somewhere)
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - Some Kind of Ride (from Nothing But the Water)
Pre-order This is Somewhere from Amazon.com
Take Iron and Wine's ever-popular cover of The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights," which works because
(1) Sam Beam's deep, calloused voice and fingerpicking on guitar contrasts well with James Scott Tamborello's electronic beats and Ben Gibbard's fast-paced tenor
(2) The Iron and Wine version involves an entirely new arrangement on guitar that suits the song perfectly.
Ironic covers tend to almost automatically fulfill the criterion mentioned above, leaving the hilarity of the lyrics and simple finesse as the deciding factors. I hope you enjoy the following tracks as much as I do.
(1) Ben Kweller - Ice Ice Baby (Vanilla Ice cover)
Who else could make this cover as funny?
(2) Travis - Baby One More Time (Britney Spears cover)
Fran Healy's (Travis) dry vocals make the cover, and who doesn't want to hear a guy in his 30's sing the words "Hit me baby one more time" in all sincerity?
(3) Pennywise - My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion cover)
I have a particularly deep-seated animosity towards Titanic and this song in particular; the movie was released when I was 12 or 13, and at the time it seemed like all the other kids got to see the R-rated movie. My art teacher even made us paint to the soundtrack in class. Ewww
(4) Heideroosjes - Wannabe (Spice Girls cover)
Like with Titanic, the Spice Girls hit their peak when I was in that awkward pre-teen age; some girls in my grade even lip-synced to the song at a school talent show. Now I can enjoy the song not because it's cool, but because it's funny.
(5) Rock Plaza Central - SexyBack (Justin Timberlake cover)
Take away the bad techno music, remove the edited vocals, and the song becomes not painfully awful, but hilarious.
(6) Ben Gibbard - Complicated (Avril Lavigne cover)
As Gibbard notes, "The thing I really love about that song is that I don't understand what's so complicated."
I hesitate a little bit to put up this cover because the original song is actually pretty good. Oh well.
(7) Mat Weddie - Hey ya (Outkast cover)
Willie Nelson released an album last year that I'm only now getting around to listening to. Songbird is an album of covers, produced by Ryan Adams with the Cardinals (Ryan's backing band) backing Willie. It's wonderful.
Have you ever been walking in a thick fog? Take a breath and it feels as if you're getting as much water as air. With the Cardinals, it's like that, but instead of water, it's guitar. Their sound is characterized by a clashing of melodic guitars that suffuses the music. Throw in plenty of pedal steel and a bass-heavy quiet drum texture, and put that with Willie's voice, and the result is Songbird.
A few standouts from the album (apart from "Amazing Grace" in a minor key--which is every bit as strange as it sounds--and the Ryan Adams song "Blue Hotel") are "$1000 Wedding" (Gram Parsons), "Hallelujah" (Leonard Cohen), and "Stella Blue" (The Grateful Dead).
Willie's "$1000 Wedding" is (and forgive me for saying this, for I love Parsons) a cover that surpasses the original. The tormented guitar drives the tune from its soft beginning through the self-destructive middle to the conclusion. The instrumental depth on Songbird makes the difference. Though it is a Parsons song, the original seems flat next to Willie and the Cardinals.
Now as for "Hallelujah," it seems to be the most-covered song of the past twenty years, if not of all time (if you can think of any song that has been covered more, please let me know. I have sixteen different recordings of this one on my computer, and there are at least that many more out there). And out of all the versions I've heard, from the original Leonard Cohen to Imogen Heap's a capella to the blues treatment by Popa Chubby to the Rufus Wainwright cover that brought the song to the attention of most, Willie's is my favorite. I would go so far to say that it's as close to perfect as I've ever heard the song played. The pedal steel is a much-needed addition, and Willie rivals even Cohen for the voice to sing the song with. Listen to the pedal steel, weeping its metal tears, and the soft tom beat that drives the chorus. By the time the choir kicks in at the end, it's just icing on the cake.
The best song on the album, and the one that epitomizes Songbird's style, is a cover of the Grateful Dead. Though I've never heard the original, I'm not sure that I need to, or that I want to, after listening to "Stella Blue" as sang by Willie. This one you have to hear for yourself.
That's it for now. In a week or so, you'll probably be hearing from me about Ryan Adams's new album, Easy Tiger, and maybe (if I get my hands on a copy), Willie's latest, with Merle Haggard and Ray Price. And then there're a couple more groups that are much less well-known that I may point y'all to. In the meantime, enjoy the music.
Willie Nelson - Stella Blue (Grateful Dead cover)
Willie Nelson - Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover)
Buy Songbird from Amazon.
P.S. My blog: From A Student's Eyes.
Meanwhile, Romney tries to disprove one flip-flop accusation from the McCain campaign and reveals another. McCain seems to be going very seriously negative on Romney - his campaign bought the url "www.mittvsfact.com."
Their LA show is "special" (it's at Icky Thump records, so yeah, I guess it is special), their New York is show "secret", and their album USB-drive is creepy/kind of awesome. I will admit that despite all this fanfare, I do like Icky Thump.
Recently I have been made aware that not everyone appreciates my poking fun at the White Stripes, so I'm going to explain my reasoning. Hands down, the White Stripes make great rock & roll. However, while nothing about their music is particularly revolutionary, everything about their presentation of themselves seems geared to make the pair look both eccentric and inevitably classic - the white, red, and black color scheme; the album titles; the press releases. Few bands could pull this off well (they do), just as few songwriters could pull off so many albums and hit singles with nothing but a guitarist/vocalist and drummer. The simplicity of their music and line-up stands to defy the label "pretentious" while everything about its presentation stands in contrast. My best reaction then is to catch them at their own joke and laugh about it while still fully enjoying their music.
The White Stripes - Stop Breaking Down (from their self-titled album)
Buy Icky Thump from Amazon.com
Tour dates from Pitchfork
Meanwhile, Saturna's album Some Delicious Enemy, which I wrote about briefly in April, was released on Tuesday.
Saturna - Just for Thrills
Buy Some Delicious Enemy from Amazon.com
By the time Battles began to set up (they arrived late and had to do their sound check after the opening band, Ostinato, who deserves a post of their own), the room was entirely packed with a group that did a far better job screaming "hipster" appearance-wise than any other audience I'd previously been in at the Ballroom.
I honestly can't remember the last time I enjoyed seeing a primarily instrumental rock band live as much as I did yesterday. Initially, I assumed John Stanier's drums and Dave Konopka's bass parts would provide a solid sense of rhythm while Tyondai Braxton and Ian Williams played their somewhat eccentrically dainty melodies on their guitars and keyboards and Braxton contributed vocals; instead, these roles were interchangeable, making the music far more dynamic and interesting to watch live. The resulting sound was both quirky almost to the point of being cute as well as deeply vigorous.
Charlottesville was only the first stop on their U.S. tour - they'll be playing in a whole bunch of southern states in the next week or two (5 dates in Florida, 3 in Texas), then the West Coast, Midwest, and Northeast. You can find the dates at their myspace.
Battles - Atlas
Battles - Rainbow
See the music video for "Atlas" on YouTube
Buy Mirrored from Amazon.com (released May 22)
Buy EP C from eMusic
Jorge Drexler's charm remains the same, with thoughtful poetic lyrics, and quiet supporting instrumentation. This is music for relaxing with a book on a sunny day at its best.
Jorge Drexler - La Infidelidad De La Era Informatica
Jorge Drexler - La Vida Es Mas Compleja De Lo Que Parece
Buy 12 Segundos de Oscuridad from Amazon
Jorge Drexler's Website
No Second Troy fits into this category pretty well: their songs have a certain dark smooth feel, like ice skating in the dark. This seems to be mostly generated by Jeff Wharen's understated deep vocals and the almost ethereal guitar and synth parts. Having e-mailed back and forth with the band's bassist and back-up vocalist, John Woolf, I feel like I can safely say that I'm comforted knowing they don't take themselves too seriously, especially considering the W.B. Yeats poem that shares the band's name.
I've spent this whole time avoiding using the scary P-word, because they seem to have one (it's producer, in case you didn't know), which gives me some insurance that they won't become un-awesome if they get signed to record label. Fans of Snow Patrol and the Arcade Fire should watch out, because they might get hooked.
Did I mention that they're based in DC?
Some upcoming dates:
June 23 - Alley Katz in Richmond, VA (John has promised to buy everyone who comes to the bar 15 cocktails, and a pony. He may have been lying.)
June 28 - DC9 in DC (duh)
July 13 - The Brewery in Raleigh, VA
No Second Troy - Burned
No Second Troy - Gardens
The band's website/myspace
Buy Narcotic from Amazon.com (also from iTunes and some other sellers, check their myspace)
Repost: Elk City - You Got Me
Armistead Maupin's Website
Elk City's Website/MySpace
Labels: Elk City
Some this all led me to consider other equally demeaning and hilarious topics, Avril Lavigne being at the top of the list because I've been listening to the Spanish version of Girlfriend. In case you didn't get the memo, her accent could use some work, but the awful factor is cute.
Avril Lavigne - Girlfriend (Spanish version)
(yes, it's an older music video)
Something about the quality of her music videos reminds me of what I used to like about Green Day; they were straightforward, loud, and didn't take themselves too seriously. No longer. Billy Joe Armstrong, who I was obsessed with in my early teens, is now out to save the world, one for-charity song and condescendingly-unhappy album at a time. Not to mention that the emo kid look just doesn't work for him. It's depressing.
Back on topic: I stumbled upon Bishop Allen's recent Daytrotter Session today only to be somewhat disappointed by the audio quality of the recordings and found myself browsing some of the sessions I had previously overlooked.
The most interesting of these was Of Montreal's; I usually associate the band with post-modern psychedelia, so to hear a stripped-down version of "Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider" played on an acoustic guitar was somewhat endearing. Check it out - it's referred to as "Eagle-Shaped Mirror."
Of Montreal - Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider (from Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?)
Buy Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? from Amazon
Labels: Of Montreal
Bishop Allen - Click Click Click Click
Weezer - Photograph
John Mayer - 3x5
Yes, this song is by John Mayer, and it's embarrassing. Or not. I had an odd fascination with Room for Squares when it was first released, and of all the songs on that album, it's this one that I've continued to come back to.
The Cure - Pictures of You
The Bird and the Bee - I Hate Camera
Ola Podrida - Photo Booth
Ryan Adams - Burning Photographs
Belle and Sebastian - Photo Jenny
Filter - Take a picture
Death Cab for Cutie - Crooked Teeth
John Edwards: "Uh, I still do believe, without regard to Paris Hilton, that, uh, we have two Americas and I think what’s important is, it’s obvious that the problem exists." (from the New York Times)
I can't decide if this YouTube video is cute or not, the same way I was surprised and confused when Joe Trippi joined John Edwards' campaign after the talk he gave at Oberlin (this was a week prior to when he joined the Edwards' campaign, and he said he didn't think any of the Democratic candidates had embraced the "populist message"). Lately, though, you can see the impact of his presence in things like...Edwards attacking Obama and Clinton on Iraq in the last Democratic debate.
Josh Ritter, one of my favorite (non-jazz or classical) musically-inclined Oberlin grads, has announced info about his next album. It's The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter (what?) and will be released on August 21st.
1 To the Dogs or Whoever
2 Mind's Eye
3 Right Moves
4 The Temptation of Adam
5 Open Doors
7 Edge of the World
8 Wait for Love
9 Real Long Distance
10 Next to the Last Romantic
12 Still Beating
13 Empty Heats
14 Wait for Love (You Know You Will)
I heard "Next to the Last Romantic" when he came to Oberlin last fall, and it was excellent, so you can expect the same from the rest of the album, duh.
Yeah, he's playing in Charlottesville on August 18, and he ALWAYS comes to Oberlin, so no beef here. I love you Josh Ritter.
Josh Ritter - Girl in the War (Animal Years )
Josh Ritter - Harrisburg (Golden Age of Radio)
Buy The Animal Years from Amazon
Ra Ra Riot - Each Year
The EP is still being released July 10 - so, you know, buy it.
On a less sobering note, let me introduce you to Fugitive Kind, whose Give In EP came out just recently. I know they're from Boston, but they're good enough enough to pass as a DC band, the standard by which all indie rock bands should be tested. I'm not biased.
Seriously though, they have the whole garage band thing going on, and their female vocalist is pretty tight. They have say 3 different ways you can buy their EP on their myspace, including iTunes, so DO IT.
Fugitive Kind - Colder
I only ran across this story recently, but the Oberlin City Council voted to ask the House to impeach Bush. On a totally unrelated note, Daniel Gardner, the chairman, rocks my world.
Bonus: Edwin Starr - War
However, depending on which poll you look at, Hillary Clinton is either beating all the other Democratic contenders by huge margins (SurveyUSA), or Obama just caught up to Clinton (Gallup) and is just about 1% ahead. My prediction of an inevitable Giuliani shrink in poll numbers still hasn't happened. However, on Clinton, I can say this - her numbers can only go down as voters get to know the other candidates.
Do or don't watch the Republican Debate in New Hampshire tonight, I don't care. I'll be watching it, though.
Yesterday the Washington Post ran a truly telling story on the negative psychological impact our interrogation policies (torture or not) have on the interrogators themselves - note the difference between the U.S. interrogator and the one from Northern Ireland.
Finally, Stephen Colbert's stunning accuracy on the Democratic Debate:
Those Brazilian kids really know how to make great electronic dance music, and I'm kind of jealous. They get Cansei de Ser Sexy, we get LCD Soundsystem.
Bondo Do Role - Quero te Amar
Bondo Do Role - James Bonde
So Bondo do Role has been touring with CSS, and they have some more upcoming tour dates by themselves on the West Coast and in Europe (UK, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Holland, Denmark, etc. etc.) and Japan, but NONE on the East Coast. EVER. So I'm not posting tour dates. They're on their myspace, okay?
Domino Records, where you can buy stuff
Seeing how this was yet another one of my sorrier posts, there's more music coming, I promise...
Bonus: The National - Apartment Story
(Correction: no surgery until Thursday)
I'll be on the look-out for other blogger responses, footage, etc. to follow up on the debate.
P.S. - I listened to a Fred Thompson speech this afternoon, and I think I may have been wrong about him having moderate candidate potential. Absolutely not.
1 My Rights Versus Yours
2 All the Old Showstoppers
4 Myriad Harbour
5 All the Things That Go to Make Heaven and Earth
8 Entering White Cecilia
9 Go Places
10 Mutiny, I Promise You
11 Adventures in Solitude
12 The Spirit of Giving
The New Pornographers - My Rights Versus Yours (from Pitchfork)
The New Pornographers - Graceland
Labels: New Pornographers