Archive for August, 2007

SEA WOLF-Leaves in the River

Posted: August 31, 2007 by dillion in Uncategorized

Is it twee?

With a name like “Sea Wolf,” the band has got to either be that or heavy metal, right? And with an album title like, “Leaves In The River,” you’d be right to guess against metal. But we’ll get to the answer to our question later. For now, answer this one: Do you remember Sea Wolf? I reviewed their EP here, then picked it as one of the best EPs of the midyear. You may recall that Sea Wolf is essentially Alex Brown, a singer/songwriter whose brilliance is untainted by his youth. So, his band did the short version. Can they pull off a proper album?

Yes.

“Leaves in the River” is excellent. There’s enough variety here to keep the listener’s ears fixed on every note, never knowing for sure what will happen next. Will it be the low menace of “Don’t You Love Me Anymore?” Will it be the gentle, pensive title track? This is an album to lose yourself in. Records don’t get a whole lot better than this nowadays.

And as for the question, yeah, it’s twee. You got a problem with that?

The Garden That You Planted

You’re a Wolf

HEALTH-“Health”

Posted: August 31, 2007 by dillion in Uncategorized

Health’s new album starts of slow. 30 seconds of near silence slowly builds into tribal drum and solemn organ. Eventually, the guitars start to hit and the cymbals crash and the entire first song, “Heaven,” crescendos into silence, followed, after a few beats, by a loan chime of the organ. So, is this a gentle instrumental record? No. In fact, it fits in more with the noisy, up-and-downs of Husker Du, Parts & Labor, Black Dice . . . It’s not the kind of sound you immediately fall in love with. At least I didn’t. But there’s an energy here, a vibe of excitement and anything-can-happen randomness in tunes like Girl Attorney and Triceratops, that rewards hard listening. If you’re looking for something accessible, this isn’t for you. But if you’re a fan of the offbeat and inventive, this may just be the ticket!

Crimewave-Health

Triceratops (CFCF remix)-Health

REFLECTIONS: DOGS WITHOUT FEAR OF DYING

Posted: August 30, 2007 by dillion in Uncategorized

“What the hell is that weird crap on the stereo?” You’re likely to get that if you crank “Reflections: Dogs Without Fear of Dying” in a crowded room. But you’ll also probably get a couple T-Rex or Gary Glitter fans who say, “Wow! What the hell is that weird crap you have on?”

The new release, from the tiny indie label Civil Defense League (founded by Jim Ward from Sparta), is the debut solo album by Clint Newsom, who used to be a part of the Austin band, Rhythm of Black Lines. It features psychedelindie ditties with titles like “Magical Medicine” and “The Doctor’s Work” – which should give you an idea already of what it sounds like. At times it also seems a little folk-y, but don’t let that stop you if you’re an anti-folkster. It’s not folk like The Mountain Goats or old Bob Dylan. There’s nothing like a single guy screaming about war over an acoustic guitar. It’s folk like Crosby, Stills, and Nash or 1966 Grateful Dead albums: Actual songs that aren’t too dark but also don’t make a lot of sense.

The album jumps around a little: “Half Brothers” features guitarwork reminiscent of The Byrds, while Hooghly Through the Howrah skirts the edges of My Morning Jacket covering Donovan. Then “Letter Writing Digital Cash” has an upbeat “Jeepster” groove. Fun to listen to, constantly changing, this is a solid retro release that should grab some bloggers’ ears.

Letter Writing Digital Cash

I like my tunes to be free of pretension, so when I heard of an album called, Hissing Fauna, Are you the Destroyer?” I said thanks but no thanks. When I was forwarded the first single, “Heimdal’s Gate Like a Promothean Curse,” I said thanks but no thanks. I even listened to it and found it completely inaccessible. That was in January. Then the hype started and I even ran a post on the band responsible, saying that I didn’t care for their original material but their covers were interesting. A commenter pointed out that half of the live tunes I had posted were actually originals, but still I said, thanks but no thanks. Plus, I’d heard their prior album and wasn’t moved by it.

Sometimes, I can be so damn stubborn.

With a dry emusic queue one week, I finally snatched up “Hissing Fauna, Are you the Destroyer?”. As soon as I put on “Suffer for Fashion,” I was hooked. I don’t know that I have anything new to say about Of Montreal, but I figured they deserved an eat-my-words post. This is a strong album, with enough hooks to be accessible but not so many that it qualifies as pop. It’s more art pop. I can’t say I’m moved by this one any more than their prior album, but I sure enjoyed this one a lot more. I know, people will say it’s more mainstream, sellout, blah blah blah, but there’s no accounting for taste and this album just hits me better. Plus, unlike a lot of albums that I liked at first but don’t find myself returning to that often, I’ve lived with “HF,AYTD” for months now and I like it more each time I hear it. At the same time, I find its intentional obscurity a little hard to take in large doses. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to it straight through more than once. I tend to listen to about half the tracks and then I need to clear my brain out with something less complicated, like spatial geometry. Or maybe a cover?

Heimdal’s Gate Like a Promothean Curse-Of Montreal (from Hissing Fauna, Are you the Destroyer)

Tropical Iceland (The Fiery Furnaces Cover)-Of Montreal (live)

More Than a Feeling (Boston)-Of Montreal (live)

Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey)-Of Montreal (live) Seems like everyone is covering this tune these days, but this one was done before the Sopranos finale.

Rasberry Beret (Prince)-Of Montreal (live)

Moonage Daydream-David Bowie-Of Montreal (live)

I Need You Tonight (INXS)-Of Montreal (live)

The Live Music Blog has a few live cuts (follow link)

Daytrotter Session has a few more(follow link)

Of Montreal-The Stills

Of Montreal Tour Dates:

Sep 28 – Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle * AA
Oct 02 – Knoxville, TN – Bijou Theater ^^^ AA
Oct 03 – Urbana, IL – The Canopy Club ^^^ 18+
Oct 04 – Milwaukee, WI – Pabst Theater ^^^ AA
Oct 05 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue (EARLY SHOW) ^^^ AA
Oct 06 – Chicago, IL – Metro ^^^ AA
Oct 07 – Chicago, IL – Metro ^^^ AA
Oct 08 – Oberlin, OH – Hale’s Gym @ Oberlin College ^^^ AA
Oct 09 – Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre ^^^ AA
Oct 10 – Buffalo, NY – The Tralf ^^^ AA
Oct 11 – Philadelphia, PA – The Trocadero ^^^ AA
Oct 12 – Boston, MA – The Roxy ^^^ AA
Oct 13 – New York, NY – Roseland ^^^ AA
Oct 14 – Baltimore, MD – Ram’s Head Live ^^^ AA
Oct 31 – Athens, GA – 40 Watt Club ^^^ 18+
Nov 01 – New Orleans, LA – House Of Blues ^^^ 18+
Nov 02 – Houston, TX – Numbers (EARLY SHOW) ^^^ AA
Nov 03 – Austin, TX – Fun Fun Fun Fest ^^^ AA
Nov 04 – Dallas, TX – Granada Theater ^^^ AA
Nov 05 – El Paso, TX – Club 101 ^^^ AA
Nov 06 – Tempe, AZ – The Marquee ^^^ AA
Nov 07 – Tucson, AZ – The Rialto ^^^ AA
Nov 08 – Los Angeles, CA – Avalon ^^^ AA
Nov 09 – Los Angeles, CA – Avalon ^^^ AA
Nov 10 – La Jolla, CA – Mandeville Auditorium @ UC-San Diego ^^^ AA
Nov 11 – Pomona, CA – The Glasshouse ^^^ AA
Nov 12 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall ^^^ AA
Nov 13 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall ^^^ AA
Nov 14 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall ^^^ AA
Nov 16 – Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue ^^^ AA
Nov 17 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theater ^^^ 16+
Nov 18 – Lawrence, KS – Liberty Hall ^^^ AA
Nov 19 – St Louis, MO – The Pageant ^^^ AA
AA=All Ages
* w/ Psychic Hearts
^^^ w/ Grand Buffet & MGMT

As promised . . .

1. Hey Ya-Low

2. Hey Ya-Fuzz

3. Hey Ya-Ryan Miller. An awesome acoustic alt-country version.

4. Hey Ya-Supersuckers.

5. Hey Ya-Starbuck of Ekoostik Hookah

6. Hey Ya-Drive By Truckers

7. Hey Ya-Razorlight

8. Hey Ya-Weeping Tile

9. Hey Ya-The New Amsterdams

10. If you can figure out why I selected this picture for this post, and e-mail me with the answer and your mailing address, I’ll send you a prize copy of a great new CD by Girl Nobody. (Read my review of it here.)  There’s also a few second-place prizes to give away, so go for it now!

LAUGHING OUTLAW RECORDS

Posted: August 28, 2007 by dillion in Uncategorized

Is that Americana? Nope. Alt Country? Kinda, but not really. It’s Aus Country! I just got a huge package from Laughing Outlaw, an Australian indie label with a tremendous catalog of, as you might guess from the label’s name, good old fashioned shitkicker tune. I haven’t listened to every album all the way through yet, but I will, but I’ve put them all in at once and started a random sampling while I threw a coat of paint on the wall. And from what I’ve heard, it’s all good. So I figured I’d do a rare “label post.” Here’s just a few of the worthwhile things you can find on that label. I wish I could do a proper post on every album, but I’m so overloaded with submissions right now. Please don’t take the fact that there’s several bands listed here as meaning that I less then heartily support them. This is an awesome record label and all of these artists are really good.

Perry Keyes-Meter and Last Ghost Train

In the tradition of Fred Eaglesmith, Perry Keyes makes barroom blues and alt country that forces you to tap your toes and think at the same time. Although many of his songs are deep and full of longing, none are depressing or dull. According to his press, he’s a taxi driver by day and a singer-songwriter by aspiration. Of what Laughing Outlaw sent me, this is my favorite artist. Really great stuff. I may even give Perry his own post, sometime later in the year. Meter is a double-album, which will take me a while to really listen to. We’ll see if it grows on me. Last Ghost Train is his ’07 release, but L.O. isn’t promoting it on their website, so it may not be out yet (they didn’t enclose any press materials). But it is similarly excellent. I’ve offered “At the Speedway” as a taste. You must listen to the lyrics–they’re outstanding. Plus, this album has a song named after Joe Strummer, so come on. Support the man!

At the Speedway

Beer and Cigarettes

Sandra’s on the Way

Discount Bottle Shop

Sam Shinazzi-Stories You Wouldn’t Believe

Continuing through the Laughing Outlaw mailbag, in order of preference, we come to Sam Shinazzi. Sam’s album is dedicated to Elliott Smith, so right away you get an idea of what this singer-songwriter’s stuff is like. The lyrics on this album are nothing short of brilliant. Check out Game Over, for example, with its refrain: “I awoke to the sound of you leaving/That’s not true, I was awake I wasn’t sleeping.” Or Breakdown, which begins the album with the line: “Don’t you ever get the feeling you’re falling apart?” This is another one that is simply fantastic and deserves (and will receive) a closer listen from me. Give the album a try, or at least check out these tastes below. I’m begging you. I don’t throw the word “brilliant” around often.

Game Over

Scotty Come Home

George Byrne-Foreign Water.

Next: Foreign Water by George Byrne. This album has a little more twang than you’d expect from a moody pop album obviously influenced by 1980s mood pop–it’s even produced by Tim Powles, drummer of the prog-rock band, The Church and Jonathan Burnside of Sleepy Jackson. (Remember them? Whatever happened to them?) and Tim Powles (The Church). Great ballads, sweet music. Again, highly recommended and deserving of its own post. He’s got downloads on his myspace page, and I’m recommending you taste this song, my favorite one I’ve heard so far.

Light Years

Bek-Jean Stewart-Junior Years

The only female singer-songwriter sent to me by Outlaw Records, with a voice as good as Melissa Etheridge in her prime, great lyrics delivered by a breathy, sexy throat, and complex acoustic guitar . . . And contributions from Perry Keyes to boot! Junior Years was her 2006 release (she used to be in a band with a member of Catherine Wheel, called Eva Trout). More good stuff. I’m trusting Laughing Outlaw more and more!

Bleed Like a Woman

Halfway-Fairwell to the Fainthearted and Remember the River

Their website introduces them by saying, “Welcome to Halfway Country!” And that’s about the most apt band description I can think of. Half country, half rock; half bluegrass, half folk; half pop, half honky tonk. Nice!

Dearest Mother (From Remember the River).

Six Hours From Brisbane (From Farewell to the Fainthearted)

Sometime in the mid-1970s, Afrika Bambaataa was kicking out a brand new sound up in the Bronx, while down at CBGBs punk was being created by Richard Hell, Blondie, The Ramones, and The Talking Heads. Although they were scared, a few of the white folks were taken across to the Bronx, to see what the black and brown folks were doing. Soon after, Debbie Harry came out with Rapture. And Raprock was born. Subsequently, Aerosmith would help break black rappers to a mainstream (suburban) market theretofore accessible only by The Beastie Boys. The Brooklyn trio helped break rap into a moneymaking art form. And because one good turn deserves another, Run DMC would revive the careers of Aerosmith who had previously managed to snort up, shoot up, and dry up all their cred.

The worm then turned as Limp Bizkit, Sugar Ray, and Linkin Park all tried to write original crossover tunes. Mostly, their efforts were suckcesspool.

The art of the crossover goes hand in hand with the art of the cover, but it is even trickier. A bad cover can be cheesy (or Richard Cheesey), but bad raprock is just Crazy Town.

Then when you marry the two, covers and rap . . . You get . . . Mixed results. Dynamite Hack famously did it with Boyz in the Hood. So famously, that I’m not even gonna post it here. Instead, below, you’ll find . . .

A is for E-Z E’s tune, Automobile. These aren’t great covers, but they’re fine for the curious.

Automobile (Eazy-E)-Bushwalla.

Automobile (Eazy-E)-Stillwater Pioneers.

B is for Black Sheep (Black Sheep cover)-Trick Turner.

C is for Jonathan Coulton’s cover of Baby Got Back (Sir Mix-A-Lot). This is the first cover of the day that I think is truly great. It takes a crude, and kind of stupid, banger and turns into something that almost feels meaningful. It’s rare that a cover artist makes a song his own. Even rarer that this is done with rap covers.

D is for Diddy! Bad Boy For Life (Puff Daddy)-Clem Snide.

E is for Get UR Freak On (Missy Elliot)-eels.

F is for Feel Good, Inc. (Gorillaz)-The Editors. Technically, I’m not sure if the original qualifies as a rap song, but it had a rap break by Del Tha Funkee Homosapien (who’s Ice Cube’s cousin or something like that), so I’m counting it.

G is for Grandmaster Flash! The Message (Grandmaster Flash)-Keller Williams.

H is for How I Could Just Kill a Man (Cypress Hill)-Rage Against the Machine

I is for Ignition (R Kelly)-Bonnie Prince Paul and Matt Sweeney. R Kelly is more R&B than rap, but I had to put this up anyway.

J is for Christmas in Hollis (Run DMC)-Jungl Ed. Y’know how some songs remind you of movies? This song always makes me think of Die Hard. Specifically, the part where Bruce drops heavy shit on the hood of the car of the dad from Family Matters. Priceless.

K is for KT Tunstall-Get UR Freak On (Missy). KT is fast becoming one of my favorite cover artists. If you’ve heard her cover of the J5’s I Want You Back, you know why.

L is for Ludacris’ What’s Your Fantasy, as covered by Travis Morrison.

M is for Miss Jackson (OutKast)-The Vines.

N is for Nina Gordon-St8 Outta Compton (NWA). Simply one of the greatest rap covers ever.

O is for OutKast. Come back soon for a big Hey Ya post.

P is for The Popguns-Can I Kick It? (Tribe Called Quest)

Q is for this quick version of Doo Wop (That Thing) (Lauryn Hil)-Mr. Bungle. Way too short. So check out this version: Doo Wop (That Thing) (Lauryn Hill)-Devendra Banhart

R is for Richard Cheese-Milkshake (Kelis).

S is for Snow Patrol-Crazy in Love (Jay-Z and Beyonce).

T is for Tech Lo-Southern Hospitality (Ludacris).

U is for Gin and Juice (Snoop)/Smoke 2 Joints (Sublime)-The Under Ground Groovement.

V is for Vanilla Ice.

Ice Ice Baby-A Dead Heart.

Ben Kweller Baby-Ben Kweller.

W is for Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin to Fuck With-Rage Against the Machine. Ragers are the experts at this, fer sure.

X is for the ones I didn’t upload here. Pour a little out for The Gourds’ minor hit, the bluegrass version of Snoop’s Gin N Juice. And pour another for Travis Morrison’s cover of LL’s Around the Way Girl. And pour–No. There are others, but drink the rest yourself.

Y is for the person getting knocked out! Mama Said Knock You Out (LL Cool J)-Lagwagon.

Z is for Zero. The number of times I’ll post Duran Duran’s massacre of the great, White Lines (Grandmaster Flash). True connoisseurs of this genre should also be aware of DuranX2’s cover of Public Enemy’s 911 is a Joke. Their experiences with the pain of racial discrimination add a unique expressiveness to the song.