Lost Recordings - Whiskeytown, "The Freightwhaler Sessions"

Despite the fact that Ryan Adams seems to release an album every 4 or 5 months, there is still an inordinate amount of material that has never seen an official release. I recently came across an early Whiskeytown recording session called The Freightwhaler Sessions online. Here is what it says about the recordings over at Answering Bell (the headquarters for all unreleased Whiskeytown/Ryan Adams material):

The Freight Whaler stuff was recorded with Wesley Show. We didn't do much to the Freight Whaler stuff. We purposely didn't want to record something that a record company would want to release. That was Wes' logic not ours. We were stoned and drunk, enjoying the songs, in fact on "The Ghost are Out tonight" I believe? Ryan had to pitch a fit to get Wes to record a second vocal track. Wes was cutting ESD a deal on the demos, under the condition that if we signed a deal (as Freight Whaler) he would get to record the album. Shame that didn't happen . . . . Of course Ryan didn't want to sign with ESD. And ESD wasn't interested in Freight Whaler, they wanted Whiskeytown. But we turned it down and went on with life . . . . Also, an interesting fact. During the recording of FreightWhaler demos. Skillet had a broken collarbone. He had taken the trucks off of a skateboard to skate on the snow. He wrecked on the campus of NC State. At the end of "The Ghost are out Tonight", you can hear the band fall apart. Skillet couldn't play anymore. That's why we recorded "I'll Try" aka. "That's hard to do". And Picture of Jesus. They were not in the plans until Skillet couldn't play rock anymore.

In no way are The Freightwhaler Sessions essential listening for the casual fan, but to Adams enthusiasts the recordings provide another early glimpse into the blossoming talent that was early Whiskeytown. The songs are simple and direct, similar in sound to Faithless Street, yet far from Stranger’s Almanac’s diverse array of styles and influences. Ryan’s voice is still a long way from the powerful instrument it would soon become (no less than Steve Earle declared Adams the best male vocalist the alternative country music scene produced). However, the songs do possess that ragged charm that makes so much of this period of their career worth hearing, and “Bar Lights”, which would become a highlight on Pneumonia, appears in an early incarnation.

MP3 :: At The Drive In
MP3 :: Bar Lights
MP3 :: The Ghosts Are Out Tonight
MP3 :: Sometimes That's Hard To Do
MP3 :: Picture Of Jesus On The Dashboard
(from the unreleased The Freightwhaler Sessions)

Talkin' New York, Vol. 3: Creaky Boards

One of the great pleasures of starting Pop Headwound is discovering bands such as Brooklyn’s Creaky Boards while exploring the New York music scene for emerging talent. Led by songwriter/pianist Andrew Hoepfner, they’ve made a cozy little home for themselves in the eclectic music scene of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Creaky Boards deftly mixes genres and influences that hardly ever get mentioned at all, let alone in describing the same band. Their music is an expert combination of 50's and early 60’s pop (“Runaround Sue”, “Last Kiss”, “Pretty Little Angel Eyes”), Tom Waits’ more baroque 80’s experiments, and the sounds of New Orleans. Saturated with lavish horns, carnival piano, and soaring melodies, Hoepfner’s songs take these influences and meld them into something extraordinarliy fun and distinctly unique. It’s music that suggests tireless world travel, referencing locales across the U.S. and beyond, but gets home to Brooklyn just in time to crash the party, inventing smiles and sing-alongs all the while.
According to their bio: In the summer of 2005, CREAKY BOARDS released their first full-length studio album, "Where's the Sunshine?" an explosion of vaudevillian garage pop for the eternally brokenhearted. Ample bursts of trumpet and accordion give the disc a charmingly unusual instrumentation. Super-long song titles like "I Came to This Town to Get High" and "I'll Kiss You at Every Red Light" reveal the band's ever-present quirkiness. With a rock 'n roll playfulness akin to The Kinks, the Americana twang of Hank Williams, and a Spector-like boom, "Sunshine" vaulted CREAKY BOARDS' status into a little legend at its home base, the Sidewalk Café. At home, Hoepfner is churning out a host of magical new recordings from his apartment bedroom, affirming his continual grasp on grainy, timeless pop. The consistent thread through all of it is Creaky Boards’ triumphant sense of wonder and their audience's steadfast loyalty.
MP3 :: Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum
(from Where’s the Sunshine?)

Creaky Boards website and myspace

The Black Crowes - "Sometimes Salvation"

Long before the super market aisle news of doomed marriages and the ridiculous campaigns that promoted the band as sure-fire future members of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame (“Lickin’” from 2001’s Lions was all over classic rock radio for a while with just such nonsensical introductions from idiot DJs), The Black Crowes were a tight, young, hungry group of Southern rock wielding potheads, in their prime and fit to deliver a near-classic record. And that they did: The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion was a giant leap from the vastly more popular Shake Your Money Maker, full of the same blues-rock influences but infused with infinitely more personality. The debut showed a band clearly indebted to (and sometimes clearly ripping off) their blues-rock forefathers, whereas the sophomore record took those influences and spoke them in their own musical language.

“Sometimes Salvation” is the highlight, an imposing slab of heavy riffage and throat-wrenching screams crashing against interrupting walls of silence, the band start-stopping on a dime. To call it a “raw” performance wouldn’t do it justice - the thing is still alive and kicking, running around the forest with blood dripping from its razor sharp teeth. Chris Robinson gives the vocal performance of his career, the vices he sings of are desperate and contagious. How could he have known the addiction would hurt this bad? - but faith is ten times harder. What results over the song’s final minute and a half is, quite simply, the sound of a band reaching their full potential, and then some.

MP3 :: Sometimes Salvation
(from The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion)

And check out the video, featuring Sophia Coppola in her post-Godfather Part III, pre-Virgin Suicides awkward phase:


Purchase The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion, and other Black Crowes releases, from Amazon.

In Rewind: the National Lights

Holding strong near the top of my favorite albums of 2007 list is the debut from The National Lights. The Dead Will Walk, Dear first came to my attention sometime last year after hearing one of its songs, “Midwest Town”, online. The album was finally released this past February after several delays, and did not disappoint. You can read my full review HERE, but in short, singer-songwriter Jacob Thomas Berns has crafted a haunting and mature song cycle that stands with some of the best pure folk records I’ve heard. The songs revolve around imagery inspired by the American Gothic writing of Flannery O’Connor and the traditional murder ballad, combining the two to create a record both subtle and conceptual. The dark lyrical content is augmented by the beautiful melodies Berns and harmony singer Sonya Maria Cotton create, as well as the comfortable, understated arrangements contributed by producer Chris Kiehne.

Do yourself a favor and check out a few tunes from The Dead Will Walk, Dear:

MP3 :: Buried Treasure
MP3 :: Midwest Town
(from The Dead Will Walk, Dear)

Berns has also sent along word that the band was working steadily on the follow up to The Dead Will Walk, Dear during the time spent waiting for its release. Who The Sea Will Keep is still a work in progress, but in some cases songs are completely finished. No time table has been set up yet for its release, but Berns hopes to have some demos up on the website in the near future.

Check out the interview I conducted with Jacob Thomas Berns earlier this year by clicking HERE.

Visit The National Lights website HERE and their myspace HERE.

Purchase The Dead Will Walk, Dear from Amazon HERE.

Some Tuesday Evening Links...

The guys over at That Truncheon Thing have gone and done it again. My favorite bloggers of classic concerts have released another batch of noteworthy items over the past 2 or 3 weeks (since I last linked them). This week they are featuring the complete Peel Sessions of The Smiths from 1983. It’s a generous 16 song set, featuring the band in its early days and sounding great. Check it out HERE. Last week they featured a Rolling Stones concert from 1973 that is just full of the great songs from the Beggars Banquet - Exile On Main Street phase that some would argue was the greatest period for any band, ever. Check that out HERE. Finally, HERE is a show from Uncle Tupelo that was recorded shortly before the band’s ultimate demise. Guys, TTT 4, PHW 2. This is gonna be fun!


Muzzle of Bees is another of my favorite music blogs (hence the link over there in “Music To My Ears”) and recently featured a great post for fans of The National. Click HERE for the band’s Black Sessions, recorded live for French radio in April 25, 2005, shortly after their new-classic Alligator. Remember, Boxer is due out May 22, and, well, at this point it's a “can’t miss” for one of the year’s best records.

And fans of Wilco should check out Aussie blog Oceans Never Listen for some nice photos of the band and a show review from their Australian tour. Check it out HERE.


Clem Snide Is Dead, Long Live Clem Snide!

For any Clem Snide fan who’s been paying attention, it’s been clear that the band has been becoming more and more of an Eef Barzelay project since 2001’s brilliant, career-defining The Ghost of Fashion. Since that record the other original members have gradually become less involved with the band - both recording wise and live. In the 2+ years since 2005’s End of Love Clem Snide has stayed relatively quiet, with just some rumors here and there about an album in progress, but until recently further details have been slow to surface.

Barzelay spilled the beans on the band, as well as his burgeoning solo career, when he stopped in at Daytrotter for an interview and a 4 song live session. With the recordings, and a first glimpse into some new material, comes the sad news that Clem Snide is all but done as a band. It sounds as if their new album, the as-yet-unreleased Hungry Bird, will most likely be the last using the Clem Snide moniker. Barzelay seems intent on focusing now on a solo career, and will follow up last year’s short and sweet Bitter Honey with a new record slated for release in early 2008. In the Daytrotter interview Barzelay had this to say about the future of the band:

Truthfully, Clem Snide has been hemorrhaging since 2002. For me, Snide was never so much about any particular sound or style as it was a group of old friends playing together and touring. Emotionally, it was more like a surrogate family. But as it became a business, it got complicated and there was never enough money to go around so people moved on or got soured by the whole thing. Since I write all the songs I could keep it going, but for right now I want to just be upon the world as Eef Barzelay. As for the records, the one that will come out first, more than likely in early 2008, is really an “Eef Barzelay” record. I did it very quickly in a mad fit of inspired desperation with some friends here in Nashville and it’s more of a continuation of Bitter Honey, just with a very chewy band backin’ my skinny ass up. The other is the epic and somewhat conceptual Hungry Bird. Clem Snide and I obsessively toiled over this record for roughly two years and in the end it broke up the band. Nevertheless, I am quite proud of it and hope it gets to have a life.

Here are the results of the Daytrotter session: 2 brand new songs, “Collapse” from End of Love, and “Well” from Bitter Honey.

MP3 :: The Girls Don’t Care
MP3 :: Apocalyptic Friend
MP3 :: Collapse
MP3 :: Well

Check in at Clem Snide’s website to hopefully hear more about Hungry Bird soon, and their myspace to hear more streaming music.

Eef Barzelay myspace

New Music - Parts & Labor

Jagjaguwar band Parts & Labor will release Mapmaker on May 22. The album features 12 new songs and cover art that at once recalls that of the latest self-titled Broken Social Scene album, don’t it? Mapmaker is the follow up to last year’s critically acclaimed Stay Afraid. Here is what the label had to say about the new album:

Mapmaker is the second Jagjaguwar/Brah album from these Brooklyn noisepunks. Expanding on the soaring melodies and cracked electronics of 2006's "Stay Afraid", P&L explores a wider array of berserk, malfunctioning instruments and intricate, pummeling rhythms. These 12 political/personal anthems about ambition and distraction boast bigger choruses, denser drones and shinier hooks. Parts & Labor cites the following bands as influences and is totally cool with you name-checking them: Hüsker Dü, Sonic Youth, Boredoms, Minutemen, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Amps For Christ.

They passed along the vicious first single, “Fractured Skies”, for you to sample. The song lives up to every bit of the description mentioned in the press release. It comes racing out of the gates, all sorts of dissonant sonic squeals, uninhibited drumming, and an industrial strength chorus that sounds like the eye of the hurricane. Better take a deep breath…

MP3 :: Fractured Skies
(from Mapmaker)

Visit Parts & Labor at their website and myspace

And catch Parts & Labor on tour:

04/24/07 Hollywood, CA - Safari Sams w/ ADULT. + Erase Errata
04/25/07 San Francisco, CA - Bottom Of The Hill w/ ADULT. + Erase Errata
04/27/07 Portland, OR - Holocene w/ Erase Errata
04/28/07 Seattle, WA - Chop Suey w/ ADULT. + Erase Errata
04/29/07 Missoula, MT - The Laboratory
05/01/07 Fargo, ND - Aquarium w/ Nudity
05/02/07 Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry w/ ADULT.
05/03/07 Milwaukee, WI - Stonefly Brewery w/ ADULT. + Tussle
05/04/07 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle w/ ADULT. + Tussle
05/05/07 Detroit, MI - Magic Stick w/ ADULT. + Tussle

Wilco - Rare Tracks, Vol. 2

Earlier this week I ran the first part of a feature detailing my favorite “rare” Wilco tracks (check it out HERE). Here’s the rest of the list - my 6 favorite rare Wilco tracks. Thanks to those who left comments and sent along emails! Glad the songs are falling on grateful ears…

6. MP3 :: Promising

“Promising” is an early outtake, either from the A.M. or Being There sessions, or possibly just recorded sometime in between. Too good to be lost to obscurity, it eventually turned up on the Jeff Tweedy-penned soundtrack to the Ethan Hawke-directed Chelsea Walls. Back in the days of Tweedy being able to do little more with his cracked-country drawl than to sound as earnest as possible, the obviously sly twist in the line “I musta known that you were just promising” suggests a true defeat, a heartbreaking loss of confidence in what the word really means.

5. MP3 :: James Alley Blues (from The Harry Smith Connection)
MP3 :: James Alley Blues (Live) (from Farm Aid, 1998)

This song originated from the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music and was originally performed by Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett, along with Roger McGuinn, on the 1998 compilation The Harry Smith Connection. The live version is the full band from a performance at Farm Aid in 1998, and too good not to include. I wish I knew who introduces the band…..anyone?

4. MP3 :: Kamera (Demo)

A big part of the process of recording Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was figuring out exactly how each song would be best represented. Songs were practiced in all sorts of different incarnations, often with some pretty remarkable results. This “rock” version of “Kamera” appeared on the YHF Demos CD that circulated shortly after the album’s release. It’s got lots of huge, fuzzed out electric guitars that stand in stark contrast to both the eventual CD version of this song, and the rest of the album as a whole. A different version appeared on the Australian Bonus EP released a few months after YHF.

Somehow this song was left off the soon to be released Sky Blue Sky. That’s a real shame - the song’s silky smooth guitar lines and groovin’ soul feel would fit perfectly with that album’s overall sound. It was performed live by the band during the past year or so, and appeared in a Tweedy solo acoustic version on the Live From The Pacific Northwest DVD from late last year. This version is from a performance on The Conan O’Brien Show.

This is an outtake from the Mermaid Avenue sessions with Billy Bragg. Rumor has it it was set for inclusion on the first volume but was removed late in the process because it was unclear if Woody Guthrie had indeed penned the words, or if they were actually traditional. Either way, it was later released on the Chelsea Walls Soundtrack along with the aforementioned “Promising”. This is one of the band’s most understated and beautiful performances.

There are a lot of different versions of this song available, so it was hard to choose which one to use for this list. The song was originally intended for inclusion on YHF, but wound up being used instead for the Loose Fur project of Tweedy, Glenn Kotche, and Jim O’Rourke - renamed “Laminated Cat” and in a strikingly different arrangement. This is an early version that again appeared on the YHF Demos. The song would soon take on a life of its own when Wilco started playing it live - slower, longer, and ending with stretched out segments of improvisational guitar- but here it is full of a Springsteen-esque spirit, and some patented rasping vocals.

If the outtakes, b-sides, soundtrack contributions, demos, etc. are this good, well, what the hell are you waiting for? - pick up Wilco’s back catalog HERE.

The Roadside Graves Featured On Pitchfork!

HA! Looks like someone at Pitchfork has been reading Pop Headwound. Well, maybe, maybe not, but either way - Congrats to The Roadside Graves! There song “Radio” was featured earlier today with a very favorable review in the Forkcast section, with a link to their myspace where the song is streaming. I’ve been a fan of the band since I first heard their actual debut - If Shacking Up Is All You Want To Do - last year. I don’t know if that album is still in print or not, but if you go to see the band this Saturday night in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY, USA, Earth at The Trash Bar maybe you can get a copy. And while you’re doing that get a copy of No One Will Know Where You’ve Been (HERE), the recently released (“debut”) record via Kill Buffalo Records that I reviewed earlier this week (just scroll down a little or click HERE to read it) that features “Radio”, as well as “West Coast” and “Women In Black” (mp3s are with the review!)

Here’s the song that started it all for the Graves:

MP3 :: Song For A Dry State
(from If Shacking Up Is All You Want To Do)

Check out their website and myspace to hear more streaming music


New Music - Blonde Redhead

Every once in a while I update the “New Stuff” play list on my iPod. Right now it’s full of songs from Handsome Furs, Shapes and Sizes, A.A. Bondy, The National, and Ladyhawk, among others, all of which I have recently posted about. Basically it’s the stuff that’s still a few weeks away from actual release but making its way around the internet like wildfire.

Fitting right in with this group are a few tracks from the new Blonde Redhead album, 23. The title track and “Silently” are admittedly my first exposure to the band, despite their elder-statesmen status on the New York and indie-rock circuit. 23 is their 7th studio album, coming out recently via 4AD records. The sound of these songs, at least to me, are at once reminiscent of Loveless-era My Bloody Valentine, with just a little bit more of a traditional rock beat. The atmospheric guitars and breathy female vocals create the same kind of lushly complex backdrop as their fairly obvious inspiration, while the melody of the vocals blends in with the overall sound - one piece of the whole rather than something obtrusively rising above it.

MP3 :: 23
MP3 :: Silently
(from 23)

Check out the 2 other songs streaming here, at their website.

Blonde Redhead will be playing Webster Hall on May 8.
Purchase 23 at Amazon by clicking HERE

Cross-Pollination: The Mixtape, Vol. 1

The other day I received an email from Wes over at Family Records promoting a compilation that the new label will be making available for free exclusive download. Cross-Pollination: The Mixtape, Vol.1 features songs from a wide array of talent, both local and national, including My Brightest Diamond, Cloud Cult, and The Undisputed Heavyweights. Also contributing songs are Matt Singer and Wakey!Wakey!, two singer-songwriters I recently featured in my “Talkin’ New York” series on local and emerging NY talent. Both of their songs are well-worth checking out. Singer’s “Stacy J.”, as I mentioned in my previous post, is not only absolutely hysterical, it also manages to convey a mostly very believable story. Wakey!Wakey!’s “Falling Apart” is a perfect frame for the man’s incredible voice, and the piano playing is every bit the percussive instrument it’s meant to be.

Mixtape Vol. 1, was compiled to celebrate Cross-Pollination, a weekly NYC concert series that brings together some of the most incredible, and at times, undiscovered, raw talent from across the country. Giving musicians the opportunity to stretch creatively with other like-minds, the premise of Cross-Pollination is simple. Every Tuesday evening at Pianos (158 Ludlow Street, NYC) two artists are invited to play together. Both of them play a solo 40-minute set followed by a 3 song pre-rehearsed collaborative set. Now in its third year, Cross-Pollination has brought together nearly 250 acts via 137 FREE shows. All artists included on the mixtape have played Cross-Pollination.

Cross-Pollination: The Mixtape Vol. 1 (Free Digital Download)
01. My Brightest Diamond - Hi, Remember Me? * (MP3)
02. Kevin Devine - You'll Only End Up Joining Them (Acoustic) * (MP3)
03. Wakey!Wakey! - Fallin' Apart (Live) * (MP3)
04. The Undisputed Heavyweights - Roll Your Windows Down (Demo) (MP3)
05. The Bloodsugars - Purpose Was Again * (MP3)
06. Matt Singer - Stacy J * (MP3)
07. Derek James - Love Me, Love Me * (MP3)
08. Cloud Cult - Pretty Eyes (MP3)
09. Casey Shea - Quinzy Howzin * (MP3)
10. Jeffrey Lewis - Tell It To Your Heart (Lou Reed Cover) * (MP3)
11. The Lloyds - Halfway * (MP3)
12. Jay Mankind - Western States (Demo) * (MP3)
13. Ian Thomas - SBB (Demo) * (MP3)
14. Dave Deporis - Be Strong * (MP3)
* exclusive and previously unreleased track

Or you can download the whole complilation as a ZIP file by clicking HERE.

Album Review - The Roadside Graves, "No One Will Know Where You've Been"

New Jersey band The Roadside Graves have recently released their latest full length album, No One Will Know Where You’ve Been, through Brooklyn’s Kill Buffalo Records. Coming hot the heels of January’s career-summarizing (and appetite wetting) EP, What Happened To Him Could Happen To Anyone, the album finds the band further honing their country and folk roots, while also branching their sound out to encompass more of a rock and pop influence. Lead singer and lyricist John Gleason has written another fine collection of intimate stories, lush with the kind of precise detail that distinguishes his writing from so many others. If there is a constant theme to the record it is one focused on the after-effects people have on our lives when they leave it. No One Will Know Where You’ve Been also sports an improved sense of production over some of their earlier work, specifically the attention to making sure that all the instrumentation is balanced. Acoustic and electric guitars are evenly matched with piano and organ, demonstrating a skilled and professional sounding interplay between all musicians.

First single “West Coast”, which appeared on January’s EP, is the perfect introduction to the band, as well as an example of this new level of musicianship and songcraft. The song is a rousing anthem, with a driving beat and a chorus that sticks. It features some inspired writing: “I got a name and I got a place, for every scar you see on my face, and I got a heart that won’t quit, won’t break”. The song is matched by “Family and Friends”, which, cut from the same cloth as “West Coast”, features an instrumental build-up custom made to be a leadoff track or set opener. The chorus comes early and often, but it’s the lyrical detail that stands out: “keep the windows open, the car unlocked, your shirt unbuttoned, my heart in a knot”. Along with “Women In Black”, these songs get the album off to a pulse-racing start.

“If California Didn’t End” and “Oh Boy, It’s A Girl” are two quiet acoustic songs that put Gleason’s heartbreaking sense of story-telling in the limelight. Much of the rest of the album works as a meeting point between these two musical poles. “Women In Black” is a lulling folk-waltz, and both the title track and “Man At Every Port” are raucous hard-folk, hoots blown off the track, and show the band deftly sliding between genres. “Radio” works as the album centerpiece, even though it is the second to last song. It begins as a plaintive folk song, then bursts into an organ and electric guitar romp, before settling into what may be some of 2007’s most beautiful and memorable moments, an organ solo that takes the song to new heights, becoming something that would sound right at home tucked into the back half of The River. The song’s finale, the simple repeating of the line “it was a good, good night on the radio” over and over, at first just to piano accompaniment and then slowly back to the whole band, is worth the price of admission by itself. It’s a line that sounds like something I’d love to say again at some point, an innocent declaration that seems to be falling further from reality all the time, and one that captures a youthful appreciation of the magic that good songs, played in a row, can have.

On No One Will Know Where You’ve Been The Roadside Graves have done what few other bands have been able to do lately - make a great record steeped in the alt-country sound that reached its apex in the mid-to-late 90’s. Elevated by touching and afflictive songwriting, as well as beautiful musicianship, No One Will Know Where You’ve Been is a bold leap forward for an already impressive band. Gleason sings often about his characters’ hearts as their defining trait, and often it is, whether it is the unflinching kind of “West Coast”, the vulnerable one in “Family & Friends”, or the broken ones in “Oh Boy, It’s A Girl”. A fitting metaphor for a band that wears its heart on its sleeve, pumping its blood into a set of songs that, if given the chance, would make for its own good, good night on the radio.

MP3 :: West Coast
MP3 :: Women In Black
(from No One Will Know Where You’ve Been)
Buy No One Will Know Where You’ve Been from Kill Buffalo here.

And visit The Roadside Graves at their website and myspace, where you can here more streaming music.

Wilco - Rare Tracks, Vol. 1

When you have a back catalog as strong as that of Wilco, there are bound to be a multitude of songs that become b-sides, get tossed aside or overlooked, or used for other projects. I have about 3 cds worth of just such tracks sitting in my iTunes, and today (and later this week) I’m going to share my 12 favorites with you. So, here are numbers 12-7, with numbers 6-1 coming soon. Enjoy!

This song is from the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Australian Bonus EP, and was an interesting first look at where the band might go without the presence of longtime member Jay Bennett. It’s a beautiful song that was not revisited during the A Ghost Is Born sessions (a la “Handshake Drugs”) that is filled with long instrumental passages with some expertly picked acoustic guitar.

“Cars Can’t Escape” was a leftover from the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot sessions. A version surfaced on the infamous YHF Demos bootleg, but this one was released by the band via their website sometime between the release of YHF and A Ghost Is Born.

10. MP3 :: This Is New

“This Is New” appeared on The Wilco Book soundtrack, which was a collection of songs left over from the highly experimental A Ghost Is Born sessions. Interestingly, this song was recorded with Jeff Tweedy isolated in a booth, unable to hear his bandmates, who were simply reacting to what he was playing. It’s slow and moody, relying on Tweedy seemingly inventing some heavily reverbed melodies as he goes. Like most of this CD, it’s more of a song experiment than an actual song, but the results are beautiful nonetheless.

This song is another leftover from the YHF sessions. It first appeared on the bonus disc of the DVD documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, and later on the Amos House Collection, Vol. 3. Its plaintive and elegiac arrangement is in stark contrast to the rest of the music coming from this time period, and also features some of Jeff Tweedy’s first attempts at the falsetto voice that he has become much more comfortable using over the past few years.

The recording sessions around YHF were wildly productive, and here is another example. “Magazine” did appear on the Australian Bonus EP along with “More Like The Moon”, but this version is a slightly brighter mix that was originally included on the YHF Demos CD. Perhaps one of Wilco’s only attempts at pure pop, the song sparkles in large part due to the heavy reverb and Glen Kotche’s inventive drumming.

This is a cover of the Gram Parsons-penned Byrds tune, originally appearing on their classic Sweethearts of the Rodeo album. Wilco covered it for the Parsons tribute, 1999’s Return of the Grievous Angel. The original was laid back, West Coast-country rock at its finest. Wilco transformed it into a rollicking bar-band rave-up, and was maybe the last straight ahead roots-rock song they ever did before the move towards more progressive sounds.

Check back soon for the 6 best rare Wilco tracks…………

"It All Comes Down To Choosing Sides..."

I recently posted about the new You Am I album, Convicts, which was released via Yep Roc Records in the U.S. this past January. The album contains about a handful of the best straight forward hard rock songs you’re likely to hear in 2007. The band recently finished their U.S. tour and are heading home to their native Australia for additional dates.
Hearing the new material got me excited to go back and revisit their old stuff for the first time in a while, and in doing so I rediscovered some of the old gems that had been collecting dust for far too long. One of my favorite You Am I songs is this little nugget from 1996’s Hourly, Daily. “Please Don’t Ask Me To Smile” displays the band’s sensitive side, with rich acoustics that recall Beggars Banquet era-Stones, and captures the awkward middle school years better than just about any other song I’ve ever heard. Essential listening for anyone who’s ever had an awkward phase.
(from Hourly, Daily)

Visit You Am I’s website
Purchase Hourly, Daily from Amazon

Talkin' New York, Vol. 2 - Matt Singer

Matt Singer is a Brooklyn based singer/songwriter who has spent the better part of the past few years playing some of New York’s finer small music venues. He has delighted audiences in rooms such as Rockwood Music Hall, The Living Room, Pianos, The Bitter End, and the Sidewalk Café, and recently played before a sold out crowd at Joe’s Pub when he opened for The Undisputed Heavyweights. Having seen him perform twice I can safely say his live shows thrive in such intimate settings, as they revel in audience participation, whether he makes them laugh out loud to his often quirky lyrics, whistle along with the tune as he sings over them, or clap along to provide a little rhythm.

His 2006 album, All Us Heathens, is full of folk/rap songs that are at once socially conscious, heartfelt, and hilarious. His lyrics, while always whip-smart and aberrant, stay well above the parody line because of their base in reality - more informed wise-guy than naive wise-ass. Every off-color story he tells, or trendy pop-culture reference he makes, finds a way to convey a real human truth, similar to the way Eef Barzalay (of Clem Snide) does in his “Ballad of Bitter Honey” from his 2006 solo album Bitter Honey. In addition to the new album, a few of Singer’s recent songs have found their way onto pretty prominent NY-based compilations. “Stacy J” (streaming at his myspace, and laugh-out-loud funny. Seriously, you have to hear it!) and “VHS” were both recently featured on Cross-Pollination: The Mixtape Vol.1 and the AntiComp Folkilation, respectively.

According to his bio:

Twenty-two years ago, Matt Singer’s kindergarten teacher recommended that he be seen by a child psychologist for a formal evaluation. The doctor said this:

Although he exhibits skills in many areas, he seems unable to deal with frustration. When presented with something unfamiliar, his typical response is ‘I can’t’, rather than ‘I’ll try’. He was referred for testing to determine whether he is unable or simply unwilling to try new things.”

Nowadays, Matt tries new things on stage and in recordings, telling his listeners all about his ugly demons while blending social commentary and humor. He writes personal and expressive music, bridging folk, alternative, and hip-hop, to share genuine feelings about family, romance, anxiety, higher education, and occasionally New Jersey. Matt’s been writing songs since age four, when he spawned “Beep-Beep-Bop-Bop-Bop-Beep,” a whimsical yet touching piece about a boy’s love for eating toothpaste. Matt still brushes regularly, but now focuses most of his musical energy on his relationships, his fantasies, and of course, George W. Bush.

Matt has plenty of noteworthy upcoming NY performances. Check him out at one of the following:

4/13 - Sidewalk Café, Manhattan (“this is a benefit to raise money for kids from low income families to attend an awesome camping trip in upstate NY“)

4/19 - The Baggot Inn, Manhattan

4/30 - Rockwood Music Hall, Manhattan

MP3 :: Constellations
(from Heathens)

MP3 :: VHS
(from the AntiComp Folkilation)

MP3 :: The Clones
(from the Words of Mass Destruction EP, 2004)

MP3 :: Scary
(from Sublimation, 2003)


Visit Matt Singer’s website for more information

New Music - Handsome Furs

A huge part of the success of Wolf Parade’s remarkable 2005 debut, Apologies To The Queen Mary, was its duel songwriters, Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner, going back and forth on the record Hart/Mould style. It seemed though that more listeners were ready to deem Krug the band’s resident genius, while Boeckner took somewhat of a back seat to the former Frog Eyes contributor. OK, fair enough. Krug’s songs were certainly wildly enthralling, displaying a slightly erratic genius that hit many a soaring height. On the other hand, to me Boeckner was the band’s steady hand, adding a solid group of emotionally charged mini-anthems, infused with plenty of power chords and gritty Will Johnson-meets-Beck-meets-“Eddie and the Cruisers” vocals. Since the album Krug has been involved with several noteworthy side-projects (Swan Lake, Sunset Rubdown) while Boeckner has stayed quietly out of sight. Until now.

Boeckner’s new side project, Handsome Furs, will release their debut album - Plague Park - on Sup Pop May 22. The band consists of little more than Boeckner, his fiancée Alexi Perry, some loud electric guitars, and a new drum machine. Sub Pop had this to say about the record: “dark and minimal while noisy and earnest, the point was to be as sparse and repetitive as possible”. The two advance tracks I’ve heard, and available below for you to sample, certainly back off from Wolf Parade’s aggressive guitar approach. They are decorated with more electronics, but that should not suggest a calmer mood - if anything the heightened artificial surroundings add to Boeckner’s very real, intense, conveyance of his gruff paranoia. The songs are everything you‘d expect from the man responsible for half of one of 2006‘s best records, and suggest that Plague Park is certainly an album to look forward to.

MP3 :: Dead + Rural
MP3 :: Handsome Furs Hate the City
(from the forthcoming Plague Park)

Visit Handsome Furs Sub Pop website and myspace.

Some Tuesday Morning Links....

Perhaps in quick response to some of the average reviews Cassadaga has been collecting (here and here and here), Saddle Creek sent along a note that Bright Eyes recently stopped by AOL's New York City studios in late February to record a short set and interview. The set consists new songs from Cassadaga and the Four Winds EP as well as a John Prine cover. M. Ward even drops by for a couple songs! Here is the set list:

"Crazy as a Loon" (John Prine cover)
"Smoke Without Fire" (w/ M. Ward)
"Tourist Trap"
"Middle Man"
"Four Winds"
"Cartoon Blues"
"Soul Singer in a Session Band" (w/ M. Ward)

Go here to watch the video.

There are a hundred blogs just like mine out there. I mean, don't get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that you're reading this right now, and I think I'm doing something worthwhile of a few minutes of your time every day or two, but some "bloggers" aren't really bloggers. They are actual music journalists who "blog" in their spare time. They basically make the rest rest of us look bad, what with their "big words" and "smart things" they write about music. Over at Marathon Packs there is an amazing new song from a band called The Twilight Sad, and it features, as usual for that site, a really "smart", inciteful write-up with many "big words". It's called "That Summer, I Had Become The Invisible Boy", and if you are a fan of the "dense and pretentious" new Arcade Fire, as Marathon Pack-writer Eric gently suggests, then this song will most likely appeal to you. It appeals to me. It's really good, and now I'm going to have to check out their new album, Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters. You can find it here.

Finally, I've got to say that my favorite new blog out there is That Truncheon Thing. It's run by 2 guys in Atlanta (I know the Braves just took 2 of 3 from the Mets guys, but you're gonna have a long season of futility trying to keep up with us...) who have an indelible taste in music and always provide accurate, thoughtful incites into it. They seem to be into the same type of new stuff as I am, yet feature classic concerts in their entirety on a semi-regular basis. They've recently had an Elvis Costello show from '77, The Clash from '81, Uncle Tupelo from '93, and Radiohead from '97. Keep up the great work guys!
And this just in - thanks to Krist over at The Punk Guy for the heads up about this. And I thought I loved Pavement!

"The Unplucked Gems": An Introduction to the Music of The Tragically Hip

I recently posted “In View” from the new Tragically Hip album, World Container. The Hip were my favorite band from about 1994 until about ‘99, and that song re-sparked my interest in them after a few years of indifference. The thing about the Hip that always amazed me was just how regional the band has always been. Cities like Buffalo and Detroit have accepted the band with open arms, but few other areas have done the same. They were all over rock radio in Western New York while I was in college (during the aforementioned years), yet wouldn’t sell out a venue like Manhattan’s Irving Plaza if it wasn’t for the willingness of their homeland fanbase to make the long trip south.

If you’ve never given The Tragically Hip a fair shot, I’ve compiled a series of tracks to give you a short introduction to what the band is capable of at their best. The following songs have been live staples from the time of their release, and act as a sort of mini-Best Of comp for the uninitiated. Their real Best Of compilation, Yer Favorites, was a double album released in 2005, and serves as an excellent introduction to one of the most under appreciated bands of the past 20 years.

MP3 :: New Orleans Is Sinking
(from Up To Here, 1989)

MP3 :: Little Bones
(from Road Apples, 1991)

MP3 :: At the Hundredth Meridian
(from Fully Completely, 1992)

These three songs are a few of the many highlights from the band’s most consistent time period. Each should be a staple of classic rock radio.

MP3 :: Grace, Too
(from Day For Night, 1994)

MP3 :: Ahead by a Century
MP3 :: Scared
(from Live Between Us, 1997)

“Grace, Too” is my personal favorite Hip song, and always the best live show opener. It scaled back the straight ahead rock of the earlier songs to something more carefully nuanced and moody, resulting in this amazing, subdued anthem. “Scared” and “Ahead By A Century” are both from the Hip’s only live album, Live Between Us, and capture the band doing what they do best.

MP3 :: Bobcaygeon
MP3 :: Fireworks
(from Phantom Power, 1998)

These two songs, from the reinvigorated Phantom Power, are fine examples of why the Hip are so loved in their native land and ignored in America. “Bobcaygeon” is a shuffling folk-influenced song, name-dropping Willie Nelson and featuring some fine acoustic guitar picking. However, the song’s title comes from a small town in Northern Canada, thereby most likely doing little more than confusing fans unaware of this fact. “Fireworks” is bristling modern-rock, perhaps their slickest and catchiest song up to then, but mixing hockey memories, Canadian-Russian foreign relations as a metaphor for dealing with the inter-personal, and the way culture jumps from hot item to hot item like they were exploding fireworks, although brilliantly interweaved, wasn’t the way to reach us simple-minded Americans.

MP3 :: The Dire Wolf
(from In Violet Light, 2002)

After Phantom Power the Hip’s output seemed to get stuck in a rut of relying on past song structures and sounds, while Downie’s lyrics lost some of their striking imagery for something decidedly more opaque. “The Dire Wolf” breaks that mold, presenting once again interesting lyrics, full of sea imagery and Canadian settings, against a wall of rising guitars and a memorable melody.

Purchase any and all of the above albums at Amazon

Check out the Hip’s website for lots of tour information, live music, and videos. Their new album, World Container, is also streaming there.

All Shapes and Sizes

Continuing the amazing output of great indie-rock from Canada, Shapes and Sizes will release Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner on May 22 through Asthmatic Kitty Records. The Montreal-by-way-of-Vancouver (and quite photogenic, right?) band’s sound draws from a wide variety of indie rock sources to come up with something entirely their own on the new record. Elements of rock and folk intersect with wild experimentalism and jarring sound effects to create an enthralling listening experience. The new release follows closely behind last year’s self titled debut, also released by Asthmatic Kitty, and shows a band deeply more confident and adventurous.

“Alone/Alive” first showed up online a few weeks ago, and starts the album off with some un-mic’d acoustic strumming and 1980’s computer-geek sound manipulations, before the hyperactive electric guitar and drums burst down the door. Caila Thompson-Hannant sings her cryptic words with as disarming a voice as I‘ve heard in a while, slipping from high-pitched wails like someone’s pinching the backs of her arms to something much richer and sadder. The band seamlessly shifts through a slew of different sections, slowing and quieting before growing into cacophonous orchestras, the song ending with an absolute onslaught of screams, pummeled drums, and breaking strings. A discordant mess, beautiful and scary. “Head Movin’” comes straight from Asthmatic Kitty, and is similar in sound, but the lead vocal duties goes to guitarist Rory Seydel, whose efforts are strong, if not as distinctly memorable, as his bandmate’s.

MP3 :: Alone_Alive
MP3 :: Head Movin’
(from Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner)

Also check out Gorilla vs. Bear, who have another new track available called “The Taste In My Mouth” whose banjo and horns display the folk influence of the band. And when I say “folk” I mean “seriously warped folk”.

Visit Shapes and Sizes at their myspace

Music News - The Mendoza Line

Word straight from The Mendoza Line camp (i.e. - Timothy Bracy, via email) is that the band is currently holed up in the studio working on the follow up to 2005’s excellent Full Of Light And Full Of Fire. No release date or further info is available yet, however Tim did pass on a few noteworthy news items. The band will release a long awaited EP (their website has been promising a “new EP in winter 2006/Best-Of Comp in 2007” for going on a year now) sometime this summer, most likely July. Entitled Thirty Year Low, the EP will contain all new material, including a duet between the band’s Shannon McArdle and Okkervil River’s Will Sheff. The advance tracks I’ve heard, including the duet, reaffirm the band as one of the finest Americana songwriting collectives out there.

Speaking of McArdle, her songs over the past few Mendoza Line albums have improved by leaps and bounds. She has found her voice, both literally and as a songwriter, and really come into her own on her contributions to both Full of Light and 2004’s Fortune. This was most obvious to me on “They Never Bat An Eye”, a song placed back to back with Bracy’s brilliant Metro Pictures on Fortune. Everything in the song is nailed - McArdle’s knee-shaking vocals, the calm paranoia of the lyrics, and the band’s expert piano/pedal steel interplay. In fact, McArdle’s voice has developed to the point of allowing it to be safely compared to that of Neko Case - maybe not quite as huge and expressive, but certainly more feisty and down-to-Earth. Hearing her trade verses with Sheff is a real treat, and I hope to be able to share that song with you in the near future……until then, enjoy this one:

MP3 :: They Never Bat An Eye
(from Fortune)

Visit The Mendoza Line at their website and myspace to hear more music

Purchase Fortune (and other Mendoza Line albums) from Amazon and eMusic

Album Review - Bright Eyes, "Cassadaga"

If the Four Winds EP reaffirmed anything about Bright Eyes it was that the strength of Conor Oberst and co. is firmly rooted in the reflective folk he has steadily improved over the past 4 or 5 years. An even split between folk and folk-rock, the EP’s 6 songs spoke volumes as to where his strengths lay. “Stray Dog Freedom” took a familiar Bright Eyes melodic progression and amped it up with electric guitar and a rock beat, coming off more as a clunky ode to 70’s rock than a daring attempt at breaking new ground for the band. On the other hand, “Tourist Trap” (yes, still the best of all the 2007 Bright Eyes’ songs) was another in a long line of terrific folk-infused tunes, meshing weepy acoustics with percussion that sounded like someone skipping in slow motion down a gravel road. The arrangement was spacious enough to allow Oberst’s vocals to be at the forefront, and displayed the full fruition of the maturity in Oberst’s writing and singing that was hinted at on 2005’s I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning.

Go back a few years to the last Bright Eyes studio albums for more proof. There’s a reason that the confessional folk of I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning was a far superior album to the adult-alternative electronica of Digital Ash In The Digital Urn, and it’s only partially due to the fact that it features better written songs. More so, it’s because Oberst’s emotive singing and lyrics are more immediate and striking when presented with a backdrop that doesn’t allow them to be ignored or dismissed as an after-thought. A rarity both at his age, and in this age, his lyrics are the type that should not be overshadowed. They are certainly not perfect, often featuring somewhat embarrassing intimacies that don’t demand revelation, yet more often can be filled with the kind of imagery and metaphor that used to lead to “new-Dylan” monikers for every songwriter who aced 12th-grade English. I’m Wide Awake It's Morning was, and still is, Bright Eyes’ strongest release largely due to the submission to the idea that Oberst’s vocals would be more widely appealing if they allowed for more subtlety and nuance, and weren’t so often completely histrionic.

All this leads us to the 7th Bright Eyes studio album from Saddle Creek Records, the soon to be released Cassadaga. Oberst spent much of 2006 in the studio crafting the album, and the results display a more sonically diverse and polished record than any of his previous ones. Cassadaga’s songs are crammed with lush detail, featuring background singers, electric guitars, and string arrangements in addition to all the already familiar Bright Eyes sounds, resulting in an album that at times puts these flourishes ahead of all else. For the most part the album works because of these new details, and sometimes in spite of them, finding a balance in which Oberst and band fit together to produce a more mature, less overtly personal, record.

Surprisingly, and in contrast to the Four Winds EP, Cassadaga is most successful when it lets loose and gets rowdy. The song “Four Winds” sets the scene of the album, coming on with plenty of Biblical references and war-torn imagery, belied by the bounding country-rock of the music. The song directly mentions Cassadaga, a Florida town known as a haven for psychics, and the extended metaphor running through much of the album is revealed - trying to cope with the fact that we never know where the world will take us, and consequently have little control over our own destinies. “If The Brakeman Turns My Way” offers more in the way of undetermined travel: “I’m headed for New England, or the Paris of the South, I’m gonna find myself somewhere to level out”. “I Must Belong Somewhere” presents a series of seemingly unrelated images that all possess a sense of place (“just leave the restless ghost in his old hotel, leave the homeless man out in that cardboard cell, let the painted horse on the carousel remain”), with the singer struggling to figure out where his place is.

Much of the rest of the album continues this similar theme. At first it seems as though Oberst has abandoned detailing his own personal anguish in favor of something more worldly, but instead he is using the accounts of others, combined with his own reactions to them, to illustrate his own sense of estrangement and alienation. The words “Oh, I've made love, yeah, I've been fucked, so what? I'm a cartoon, you're a full moon, let's stay up” from “Hot Knives” are seemingly written from the song’s female protagonist point of view, but could easily double as Oberst’s own admission. And the projection of the “Soul Singer In A Session Band” as someone who is overlooked and forgotten is a none-too-subtle hiding place for an artist who may occasionally feel the same way.

All of the above songs work in their arrangements because the strength of what Oberst is saying comes through over the lavish production. Ironically, it’s the slower songs, usually a strength for Oberst, that suffer most from the new production techniques. “No One Would Riot For Less”, “Coat Check Dream Song”, and “Lime Tree” all fail to match their inventive arrangements with equally memorable lyrics or melodies. Opener “Clairaudients (Kill Or Be Killed)” begins with a female recorded voice, seemingly a psychic talking on the phone (which continues Bright Eye’s somewhat annoying habit of beginning his albums without actually beginning the song). The song uses noise effects, the same taped voice, and strings to present an experimental sound collage, one that should be more successful if the lyrics weren’t as clunky (“Corporate or Colonial/The Movement is unstoppable/Like the body of a centerfold, it spreads”). The album also suffers from a few songs that contain instantly familiar rhyme schemes for Bright Eyes - “Soul Singer In A Session Band” especially, and despite being good songs, seem too rote to really stand out.

Cassadaga is the sound of a more ambitious, outward looking Bright Eyes, one that is alive with new ideas and the means to present them, and, as usual, one that is most successful when not over-reaching. Unlike many of the characters that populate it, the album has a clear sense of place and purpose - it reflects an artist figuring out his niche in a messed-up world. Long since removed from the hyper-emotional bedroom folk of his early days, Conor Oberst is growing up with each new release, and Cassadaga presents an artist almost done with the transition to full-on adulthood. In 2007 he is less a prisoner to his few limitations, and he’s inching closer to the classic album that he has seemed destined for since 2002’s Lifted…. Cassadaga isn’t quite it, but gives enough reason to think that it isn’t too far away.
MP3 :: Four Winds
(from Cassadaga)

MP3 :: Tourist Trap
(from the Four Winds EP)

MP3 :: Susan Miller Rag
(Cassadaga outtake, available as a bonus track with preorders)

Visit Saddle Creek Records, and Bright Eyes website and myspace.

Purchase Cassadaga, and other Bright Eyes albums, from Amazon.

Music News - The New Pornographers / Iron & Wine

Pitchfork is reporting 2 pretty interesting news items today . First, the next studio album from The New Pornographers is shaping up to hit stores in the late summer. Tentatively to be called Challengers, the record will in fact once again feature long time Porn-stars Neko Case and Dan Bejar, in addition to primary member Carl (A.C.) Newman. Last year was a busy one for Case and Bejar, what with Case’s Fox Confessor Brings The Flood and Destroyer’s Rubies (#1 on Pop Headwound’s Top 10 of 2006) both serving to considerably further their respective careers. Read the full interview with Newman by clicking here.

Also noteworthy, the first single from Iron & Wine’s upcoming release, The Shepard’s Dog, will be “Boy With A Coin”. It will come out in July via Sub Pop, and will be backed by two exclusive b-sides. Click here for more. Click here for more brand new Iron & Wine songs, recorded live at Pabst Theatre this past February.

MP3 :: High Art Local News - The New Pornographers
(Twin Cinema ottake, from the compilation Comes With A Smile, Vol. 17)

MP3 :: Boy With A Coin - Iron & Wine
(recorded live, 2/8/07, originally posted by Captains Dead)

Visit the The New Pornographer’s website
Visit Iron & Wine’s website

"Start A War If You Want To"

It seems like the exciting news coming from Jagjaguwar never ends. First came the announcement that Okkervil River were busy recording the follow up to 2005’s up-to-now career defining album, Black Sheep Boy, which will see a release sometime later this year, as well as the release of the 2xCD reissue of definitive Black Sheep Boy. Next came the release of new album from The Besnard Lakes, The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse, which has stayed near the top of my favorite 2007 albums for about 2 months now. Not to mention the huge (for the indie world) news of the merger/partnership of Jagjaguwar to Secretly Canadian, thereby collecting the forces of two of the best indie labels putting music out today.

Hot on their heels comes a press release stating that Ladyhawk will release the follow up to last year’s self-titled debut album. The Fight For Anarchy EP will hit the streets on May 22, to be followed by the next LP in the spring of 2008. To support this new release the band will be on the road for an extended American/Canadian tour, spending time opening for Canada’s The Constantines and Brooklyn’s (by way of Minneapolis) Tapes n’ Tapes. Check below for the dates.

The new EP will feature the song “War”, a sort of fractured-folk military march that coaxes one to not “just tag along, start a war if you want to”. The song is striking in its directness, filled with war imagery and Duffy Driediger’s gruff voice, which is reminiscent of Wolf Parade’s Spencer Krug. Check it out:

MP3 :: War
(from the Fight For Anarchy EP)

And in case you missed out on “The Dugout” from last year’s debut, here it is:

MP3 :: The Dugout
(from Ladyhawk)

Visit Ladyhawk’s website and myspace

Catch Ladyhawk on tour:
04/03/07 Winnipeg, MB - Pyramid Cabaret w/ The Constantines
04/04/07 Regina, Saskatchewan - The Exchange w/ The Constantines
04/05/07 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - Louis' Pub w/ The Constantines
04/06/07 Edmonton, Alberta - The Starlite Room w/ The Constantines
04/07/07 Calgary, Alberta - The Hi-Fi Club w/ The Constantines
04/08/07 Calgary, Alberta - The Hi-Fi Club w/ The Constantines
04/09/07 Canmore, Alberta - Canmore Hotel w/ The Constantines
04/12/07 Vancouver, British Columbia - The Plaza Club w/ The Constantines
04/13/07 Victoria, British Columbia - Sugar Nightclub w/ The Constantines
04/14/07 Tofino, British Columbia - The Legion w/ The Constantines
05/02/07 San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall w/ Tapes N' Tapes
05/04/07 Portland, OR - Dante's w/ Tapes N' Tapes
05/05/07 Seattle, WA - Neumo's Crystal Ballroom w/ Tapes N' Tapes
05/06/07 Vancouver, British Columbia - Plaza Club w/ Tapes N' Tapes
05/09/07 Denver, CO - Bluebird Theatre w/ Tapes N' Tapes
05/10/07 Omaha, NE - Sokol Underground w/ Tapes N' Tapes
05/11/07 Des Moines, IA - Vaudeville Mews w/ Tapes N' Tapes
05/12/07 Chicago, IL - Abbey Pub w/ Tapes N' Tapes
05/14/07 Ottawa, Ontario - Barrymore's w/ Tapes N' Tapes
05/15/07 Montreal, Quebec - Le National w/ Tapes N' Tapes
05/16/07 Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Palace w/ Tapes N' Tapes
05/17/07 Buffalo, NY - Mohawk Place w/ Tapes N' Tapes
05/18/07 New York, NY - Irving Plaza w/ Tapes N' Tapes
05/19/07 Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club w/ Tapes N' Tapes
05/22/07 Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop w/ Tapes N' Tapes
05/23/07 Columbus, OH - The Basement w/ Tapes N' Tapes
05/24/07 Newport, KY - Southgate House w/ Tapes N' Tapes

New Music - A.A. Bondy

A few weeks ago I attended the Friday night Bright Eyes show at the Bowery Ballroom, which I reviewed here. The night started with a very pleasant surprise, show opener A.A. Bondy. Armed with just an acoustic guitar, a small fleet of harmonicas, and about 45 minutes worth of compelling songs, Bondy had a crowd of hungry Bright Eyes fans, eagerly awaiting the man himself, in the palm of his hand. His songs were stripped down, leaving the melodies and lyrics up front, and were delivered in Bondy’s cracked, Southern vocal style. It’s not often that you go to a show and don’t want an opening act’s set to end, but that’s exactly what happened. As soon as he was done I went to the merch table to pick up the homemade EP’s he had for sale, but unfortunately they had already sold out.

The former front man for the band Verbena, Bondy is due to release his solo debut this summer, tentatively titled Witness Blues through Superphonic Records. Based on the advance tracks I’ve heard so far it could be one of the year’s strongest Americana releases. Bondy at once recalls early Dylan on the acoustic “American Hearts”, and then sounds just as comfortable on the hazy, narcotic full band sound of “Out With The Tide”. I’ll pass on more information when I have some, but for now enjoy these songs from the forthcoming record:

MP3 :: Out with the Tide
MP3 :: American Hearts


Visit A.A. Bondy’s myspace here

The Mendoza Line - "Metro Pictures"

If there is a voice more suited to convey sadness in music today than The Mendoza Line’s Timothy Bracy I’d like to hear it. His voice is warm with cracked emotion, shaking from the side-effects, trying to keep from sounding like it’s totally wrecked. His winding narratives weave around in his band’s shuffling acoustic instruments and tape hiss, conveying all the details of a heart that’s been stitched back together for the last time.

“Metro Pictures” is filled with the woozy resignationa Bracy has practically become synonymous with. The band sounds like a hootenanny in slow motion, ambling on quietly, only the piano daring to offer glimmers of hope. Bracy’s words perfectly fit the mood, singing to someone (maybe himself?) who’s “captive to the free press, a lazy work in regress”. He goes on until Shannon McArdle steps in to harmonize, lifting up the melody, and seemingly giving Bracy the energy to bring the song to an end. She does a beautiful thing, but I could've listened all night.


MP3 :: Metro Pictures
(from Fortune)

Purchase Fortune (and other Mendoza Line albums) from Amazon, Insound

Visit The Mendoza Line at their website and myspace