Talkin' New York, Vol 7 - Eric Wolfson

This “Talkin’ New York” column, the not so semi-regular one where I spotlight an emerging NYC talent, was named after an early Bob Dylan song. The song is one of only two originals from Dylan’s debut album. It seemed strangely fitting to name a feature about emerging talent after a song that preceded the raging artistic creativity that soon followed for Dylan, an artist on the cusp of perhaps the most staggering and prolific years any songwriter has ever shared with the world. But what the song is really about is how difficult it is (was) for a struggling artist to make it in the big city. 45 years later things aren’t much different - songwriters are still playing in front of small crowds (usually comprised solely of other artists) at open mic nights, trying to get noticed amongst a sea of talented folks.

One artist I’ve heard recently may capture the idea behind this column better than any other I’ve written about. On his debut album, State Street Rambler, Eric Wolfson has distinguished himself from many of his peers, as well as crafted a set of songs that recall the burgeoning genius behind Dylan’s early years. It’s pretty clear throughout the album’s 11 folk rock jams that Wolfson is enamored with his home city, with song titles such as “Early Morning, Upper West Side”, “6th Avenue Blues”, and “Harlem Lights” not leaving much about setting to the imagination. His songs use more New York scenes than a classic Scorsese flick - nearly every song drops the names of places you’ll find on the city grid. It’s like he’s spent his whole life soaking up the dirty streets, looking out MTA bus windows, and sweating through his vintage t-shirts busking on subway platforms. Anyway it’s happened, Wolfson writes like he’s lived and breathed on these sidewalks since the day he was born. But, just like Dylan at the time of his debut, he’s relatively new to New York Town, having recently moved here from Boston of all places.

As far as the music on State Street Rambler goes, I think they ought to check and make sure Wolfson wasn’t switched at birth with Jakob, because he sounds much closer to a Dylan heir than the Wallflower ever has. I know Dylan comparisons are a dime a dozen, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard an artist who channels that incredible period of 1963-1966 with as much aplomb as Wolfson does on his debut. These songs are just dripping with influence - the swirling organ of “Cross The River”, the “thin, wild mercury sound” of “Graveyard Girls”, the talking blues of, well, “Talkin’ Dead President Blues”, and the fact that a song on here is called “North Country Girl Blues” and starts with lyrics from Dylan’s song of virtually the same name. The similarities don’t end after the locale and musical sound connections - of course Wolfson possesses a familiar scratchy, nasally-challenged delivery. And social protest is a special of the day as well, with Wolfson pulling no punches in his criticism of the Bush administration. Neither “Strategery Blues” and “Talkin’ Dead President Blues” allows any room for misinterpretation on that account.

But all these Dylan comparisons would be meaningless if Wolfson wasn’t so consistently convincing on his own right. His lyrics cut with their own cynical bite, their own lost romance, their own unexpected twists and turns. “North Country Girl Blues” tosses off the lost love nostalgia of the original and quickly becomes a sort of updated, reincarnated “Tombstone Blues”, infused with his own detailed touch - a slippery girl from Montreal who’s been “in too many moving vans to tell the driver to drive her home”. “Cross The River” is about inter-borough dating, and the daunting task of having to “cross the river” between Brooklyn and Manhattan to see a girl who “gets up in the morning and goes to sleep in the morning too”. “Graveyard Girls”, a song about a drug dealer who also happened to be Buddy Hacket’s niece, is perhaps the album’s most successful track - a mash up of clever wordplay, unbridled enthusiasm, and a ripping band that sounds like it’s blowing dust off the dashboard from a Buick 6. There is a healthy mix of full band songs (his band, by the way, features Andrew Hoepfner of Creaky Boards on organ and backing vocals) and solo/acoustic numbers. There is also a world of identifiable New York and historical references going on - all the pretty girls with boyfriends, Harlem lights, the east village, the upper west side, the ghost of Ann Rutledge, subways, buses, etc. mixed with shots at the current presidential administration. State Street Rambler is a swaggering, poignant procession down an imagined highway 61 running through the heart of New York. On it Wolfson captures the beautiful chaos of the city - its passions, histories, fairytales, corner bars, clear skies and dirty underground with a startling precision. And yes, he sounds like Dylan doing it.

MP3 :: Graveyard Girls
(from State Street Rambler. Buy here)

State Street Rambler is also available at CD Baby and iTunes

Check out Eric Wolfson live:

8/2 @ Sidewalk Café- 9:00
8/18 @ Pianos - 8:00
8/24 @ Sidewalk Café (The Fortified Summer Antifolk Fest 2007) - 12:00 am
8/29 @ Abbey Lounge (Somerville, Mass)

photo by Peter Nevins

Music News - Band of Horses

I have to say - the 2006 album that I still listen to with the most regularity is the debut from Band of Horses, Everything All The Time. Having just seen them play a free show at McCarren Park Pool in Brooklyn last weekend I can safely say the new material is strong, as they shared about 4 or 5 new songs during their 1 hour set.

Sub Pop will release the follow up album on October 9. Cease To Begin will feature 10 songs, and lead singer/songwriter Ben Bridwell had this to say about the new songs in a recent interview over at Pitchfork: "I guess the first record had some kind of country-ish leanings and things [but] I think there’s maybe a little bit more of [that] feeling on it, a little more down-home, I guess, and not so much indie rock".

The track list is as follows:

1 Is There A Ghost
2 Ode to LRC
3 No One's Gonna Love You
4 Detlef Schrempf
5 The General Specific
6 Lamb On The Lam (In The City)
7 Islands On The Coast
8 Marry Song
9 Cigarettes, Wedding Bands
10 Window Blues

The band is currently out on the road supporting Modest Mouse with a string of midwest headlining dates in the middle of their schedule. Tour Dates:

1 Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheatre *
3 Kansas City, MO - City Market *
4 Iowa City, IA - Picador
6 Pittsburgh, PA - Diesel Club Lounge
7 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
9 South Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
10 Montreal, Quebec - La Sala Rosa
11 Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Palace
12 Buffalo, NY - Traif Music Hall
13 Detroit, MI - Magic Stick
15 Columbus, OH - LC Amphitheater *
16 Cleveland, OH - Time Warner Cable Amphitheatre *
17 Northampton, MA - Pines Theatre *
18 Mansfield, MA - Tweeter Center [Download Festival]
19 Philadelphia, PA - Festival Pier *
21 Louisville, KY - Lousville Gardens *
22 Nashville, TN - Ryman Auditorium *


2 East Troy, WI - Alpine Theatre [Download Festival]
(from Everything All The Time. Buy here)

New Music - Okkervil River

We are only slightly over a week away from the release of Okkervil River’s 4th full length studio album. The Stage Names comes courtesy of Jagjaguwar Records on August 7th. Those eager enough to preorder will be privy to an immediate digital download, as well as a bonus disc comprised of acoustic demos from bandleader Will Sheff.

The early consensus among fans and bloggers is that The Stage Names is a worthy addition to the Okkervil River catalog, even if it not receiving the same heaping praise afforded 2005’s rather remarkable Black Sheep Boy. The Stage Names does however continue Okkervil River’s tendency to adorn its songs with layers of horns and strings, but now they are tamed with a more polished indie rock sound. Sheff‘s vocals still crack with rawness, but here there is a world of new restraint that keeps those wildly emotive (and usually very welcome) moments from earlier songs to a minimum. As opposed to the circular thematics possessed by its predecessor, The Stage Names works as a collection of songs barely related to one another - perhaps only in the theatrical flair the title refers to that runs through the 9 songs.

“Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe” is a dramatic and effective album opener/first single, and is followed by the crackling “Unless It Kicks” - a tense, bristling rocker and album highlight. “Savannah Smiles” is an lovely paternal ballad, “Plus Ones” a catchy, almost-too-clever play on songs with numbers in their titles, and “A Girl In Port” an expansive acoustic guitar/piano ballad of a little girl lost in a big world in the vein of their earlier albums. The other material is rather hit or miss, with “Title Track” and “You Can’t Hold The Hand Of A Rock n’ Roll Man” being particularly stagnant. “A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene” is a bright spot, bounding along like a long lost Motown classic, but trips over its dizzying internal rhymes. It’s hard to say better of these remaining songs than that the most memorable moment, on “John Allyn Smith Sails”, they break mid-song into a raucous cover of “Sloop John B”. And that’s how the album ends - one that does occasionally reveal the strongest aspects of this extraordinary band, but may be too quick too often to hide them beneath a distracting stage name.

MP3 :: Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe
MP3 :: Unless It Kicks
(from The Stage Names. Buy here.)
And check out these songs from earlier releases:

MP3 :: The President’s Dead
(from The President’s Dead 12’’)

MP3 :: No Key, No Plan
(from Black Sheep Boy Appendix - EP)

MP3 :: For Real
MP3 :: Black
(from Black Sheep Boy)

MP3 :: A Favor
(from Sleep And Wake Up Songs - EP)

MP3 :: The War Criminal Rises And Speaks
MP3 :: It Ends With A Fall
(from Down The River Of Golden Dreams)

MP3 :: Red
MP3 :: Westfall
(from Don’t Fall In Love With Everyone You See)

Order any of these releases here
Okkervil River will be heading out onto the road for a long tour this Fall to support The Stage Names:

09/03/07 San Diego, CA - Casbah w/ Damien Jurado
09/04/07 Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour w/ Damien Jurado
09/05/07 San Francisco, CA - Independent w/ Damien Jurado
09/08/07 Portland, OR - Berbati's Pan (MusicFest NW) w/ Damien Jurado
09/09/07 Vancouver, British Columbia - Richard's on Richards w/ Damien Jurado
09/10/07 Seattle, WA - Neumos w/ Damien Jurado
09/13/07 Denver, CO - Marquis Theatre w/ Damien Jurado
09/14/07 Omaha, NE - Waiting Room w/ Damien Jurado
09/15/07 Iowa City, IA - Picador w/ Damien Jurado
09/17/07 Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theater w/ Damien Jurado
09/18/07 Chicago, IL - Logan Square Auditorium w/ Damien Jurado
09/19/07 Urbana, IL - The Canopy Club (Pygmalion Festival) w/ Damien Jurado
09/21/07 Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Palace w/ Damien Jurado
09/22/07 Hamilton, Ontario - Pepper Jack's Cafe w/ Damien Jurado
09/23/07 Montreal, Quebec - La Sala Rossa w/ Damien Jurado
09/24/07 Burlington, VT - Higher Ground w/ Damien Jurado
09/25/07 Boston, MA - Middle East w/ Damien Jurado
09/26/07 Northampton, MA - Iron Horse w/ Damien Jurado
09/28/07 New York, NY - Webster Hall w/ Damien Jurado
09/29/07 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's w/ Damien Jurado
09/30/07 Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel w/ Damien Jurado
10/02/07 Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle w/ Damien Jurado
10/03/07 Athens, GA - 40 Watt w/ Damien Jurado
10/04/07 Tallahassee, FL - w/ Damien Jurado
10/06/07 Houston, TX - Walter's on Washington w/ Damien Jurado
11/06/07 Colchester, UK - Colchester Arts Centre
11/07/07 Nottingham, UK - The Social
11/08/07 Newcastle, UK - Newcastle University
11/09/07 Glasgow, UK - Nice N Sleazy
11/10/07 Manchester, UK - Manchester Roadhouse
12/04/07 Brighton, UK - Pressure Point
12/05/07 Liverpool, UK - Liverpool Academy
12/06/07 Dublin, Ireland - Whelans
12/07/07 Leeds, UK - Brudenell Social Club
12/08/07 Cardiff, UK - Barfly
12/09/07 London, UK - Luminaire

Talkin' New York, Vol 6 - The Cummies

It’s been a while since I’ve done this - written about a New York band/artist. Needless to say the delay has caused a backload and I’ve got a bunch that I’ll be posting in the next week or so. This post is one I’ve been sitting on for a while because the band doesn’t provide much info on either their website or their myspace. I’ve been hoping for some huge update, tour information, noteworthy news, anything really that would help with putting something together for them. But there’s not much - so I had to scour the internet to round up a few bits of intelligence.

The Cummies are a New York by way of Madison, WI garage rock band, and after seeing them perform a few months ago at Pianos I can safely say that they may be more on the angry/aggressive side than most of the music I write about. Whatever though, their songs were full of these dirty little punk rock melodies that sounded like an early Sub Pop Greatest Hits compilation. As if he was a 20 year-old Kurt Cobain fronting The Stooges in 1973, lead singer Joey Tokyo let out some sort of uncontained, primal rage into that microphone that may have given it brain damage. The band (Tokyo on guitar, Stevie Queens on bass and John Airis on drums) was just flat out raw power, seething with a confident swagger and pummeling out gritty rhythms. The crowd was split between their fans and fans there to see the alt. country band that followed them, but they had little trouble winning over nearly everyone in the room.

They have recently released a 4-song self-titled EP, and 3 songs from which are streaming at their myspace. Speaking of which, I just saw a blog entry on that site that said the following:

“We're going to be recording an album in August at a very nice studio; with a very good engineer.....we'll leave it at that for now, details to follow. Totally trying to get ready, that's why it seems like not much is going on but really, behind the scenes, we are pretty busy.
Because it's baseball season we as a band are completely obsessed with stats. Here's ours as band collectively:

Rookie Year in NYC:
30 Shows
18 New Songs
1EP Release
832 Albums Sold
2 Arrests
7 Jobs
10 Clubs Played
96 Teardrops
Thanks for the Memories

Check out a song from the new EP:

MP3 :: White Radio
(available on The Cummies' myspace)

The Cummies are playing 200 Orchard on July 28 and again on August 17.

Live Music: Chris Cubeta & The Liars Club

One of my local favorites, Chris Cubeta & The Liars Club, will be heading out on their first ever East Coast Tour. The 9-city tour will support their stellar new album, Faithful, and begin on July 27 at New York’s famed The Bitter End. Cubeta and band play a dynamic, radio-ready form of roots rock, sounding perhaps like John Hiatt fronting the Counting Crows. Or maybe Adam Duritz fronting... er…well….John Hiatt’s band. Either way, don’t miss them when they come to your town:

July 27, 2007 10:00PM - The Bitter End, New York, NY
July 28, 2007 8:00PM - Tin Angel, Philadelphia, PA
July 30, 2007 8:00PM - The Red and Black, Washington, D.C.
July 31, 2007 TBA - The 8 X 10, Baltimore, MD
Aug 1, 2007 8:00PM - The Camel, Richmond, VA
Aug 3, 2007 11:00PM - Slim's Downtown, Raleigh, NC
Aug 4, 2007 TBA - Soapbox Laundro Lounge, Wilmington, NC
Aug 7, 2007 7:00PM - Cadillac Ranch, Nashville, TN
Aug 25, 2007 10:00PM - Trash Bar, Brooklyn, NY
Aug 30, 2007 TBA - TT The Bears, Boston, MA

MP3 :: Clementine
MP3 :: Don’t Worry
(from Faithful. Buy here)

New Music - A.A. Bondy

Look for the new A.A. Bondy album, American Hearts, to be released via Superphonic Records on September 4 - it’s actually available early if you purchase it directly from the label. I mistakenly reported this album to be called Witness Blues back in April, but have since checked in with the horse’s mouth. I saw Bondy open for Bright Eyes in March at the Bowery Ballroom and was blown away - I sincerely think that American Hearts may prove to be one of the finest singer/songwriter albums of the year. Can’t wait for it.

MP3 :: Vice Rag
(from American Hearts. Buy here)

Listen to "There's A Reason" streaming at the Superphonic Records myspace.

And check out this great non-album track, made available earlier this year by Superphonic:
MP3 :: Out With The Tide

Interview w/ Chris & Mollie

Earlier this summer while perusing through Coke Machine Glow’s Halfstravaganza I came across an album by a band with about as straightforward a name as you’ll find. Chris & Mollie’s second self-released album, The Palm Tree, had completely escaped my radar until its inclusion on that website’s favorite 31 albums so far in 2007. The music of these two (Chris Donlon and Mollie Hagar, no relation to Sammy) sounds like a free form take on folk-rock, as songs are constantly turning traditional structures on their head. The Palm Tree is a warm, inviting record - a mix of cool California harmonies and lo-fi indie-rock charm - full of beauty, grandeur, and chaos.

After hearing a handful of songs via CMG and the band’s website I caught up with Chris through email and we set up an interview, which is below, and gives plenty of insight into the creative process of this exciting young band. First though, check out a few songs from one of my new favorite records of the year:

MP3 :: Slow Sunrise
MP3 :: Transition Trade
MP3 :: Waltz
(from The Palm Tree. Buy here)

The vast majority of The Palm Tree was written and performed by youand Mollie. Did you two really start playing together when you werekids - you whistling and her playing drums like the song says?

Sadly, no - we didn't meet until college. I was in my dorm room withthe door open playing some Weezer covers (this was back when Weezercould still do no wrong) and Mollie overheard, came in, and startedsinging along. The next year we decided to live together off-campus andwhen a friend needed a place to store his old squeaky drumset we offeredour apartment up - of course with the hidden agenda of starting a band.Also, I REALLY REALLY CAN'T WHISTLE and am cursed with entirelyun-musical lips.

Are you and Mollie in the Jack & Meg White camp of personalrelationship disclosure? Are you husband/wife, brother/sister, acouple, internet friends, bitter enemies, etc.?

Mollie: I wish we could be that mysterious – we’re brother and sister.
Chris: What Mollie is trying to say is that since our divorce we FEELlike brother and sister.

I read online somewhere that there is an over-arching story on thealbum - any truth to that?

Yeah, there is a story, but hopefully there are some things still opento interpretation. There is a way I tend to think of it - "The PalmTree" (the song) is like a dream sequence, and the end of "The SerratedLullaby" leads you into it with that bit of noise at the endrepresenting falling asleep - all the elements of what you last heardspinning around in your mind. There is a baby and a relationship incrises, and the songs are ordered from morning to night references. Mostimportant and personal to me though was creating the emotionallandscape. The characters here are alienated and disaffected yet stillsearching for their humanity and that ineffable feeling of connectionwith others and the world around them - something I've had some experience with.

Where do the title The Palm Tree and the cover art come from?

To answer the second part first, I got the cover photo from a goodfriend and brilliant photographer - Courtney Nimura( I traced the photo, added the mountainsand title, and manipulated it in photoshop.As for the title, there are references to Palm Trees within the album,and it has significance for the characters in the songs, but also PalmTrees are associated with desert islands, and I sometimes think of thisalbum as something washed ashore from a desert island - isolated, alienand fragile. One of my original ideas for the packaging was to have itlook literally water-damaged and warped. Once I saw Courtney'sphotograph I decided against that, though. I like the idea of "The PalmTree" being a motel in the middle of this urban environment. It's a kindof false, imagined oasis, but maybe it's better to have this imagined,imperfect oasis than no oasis at all? and maybe every oasis is imagined in a way?

This is a family mp3 blog, so I'm not going to repeat some of the moreperverse lyrics from the album, but what inspired some of those reallyblunt lines?

The difference between imagined realities and lived realities.

The songs on The Palm Tree almost have a haphazard, disjointed soundto them, but I bet they were very carefully arranged, weren't they?

I spent two years on and off recording and arranging this so hopefullythere's some evidence of thought going into the album, as potentiallylo-fi as it is. Also, organized chaos has always been something I'mreally attracted to - the combination of the spontaneous andmeticulously planned - which this album definitely is.

What music inspires Chris & Mollie?
Chris: The personal, the indulgent, the music that HAS to be made . . .regardless of if there are any listeners out there... I'm thinking MountEerie's "No Flashlight," Of Montreal's "A Petite Bedside Drama,"Sparklehorse's "Good Morning Spider," Weezer's "Pinkerton," Daniel get the idea . . . it's how I feel about "The Palm Tree"- it's something I had to make, and if nobody else listens, that's okay(or so I tell myself).
Mollie: I just saw a documentary on Sublime (who I have recentlyrediscovered) and I’ve got 40 oz. playing on loop. The drumming isfantastic.I’ve got The Band on my turntable – I am in love with Levon. Really – Chris writes the songs and I just drop the beat…so in a way, I am inspired by him.
Right now as independent artists you're very generous with your music- plenty of readily available mp3s on your website. But would yourattitude/business plan change with future releases if you were to signto a label?
I hope not. I think some free MP3's can only help your band. We wouldlike to release our next CD through a label though - it's mostly alreadywritten, just waiting to be recorded. If we do sign, we'd like to sign with an open-minded, progressive label.
What are your feelings about the way the internet is affecting howpeople hear and purchase music?
I can tell you that without the internet no one would even know who weare and this interview wouldn't be happening. It's still amazing to methat we've been able to achieve even this small amount of success,almost solely through on-line promotion. Even the downloading doesn'tbother me - my first reaction to discovering our music being pirated wasa rush of excitement! Right now is probably the best it's ever been for small bands out there trying to get heard with limited resources.


Chris & Mollie - myspace

Lifter Puller - Fiestas & Fiascos

The other day I was browsing around eMusic when I came upon Lifter Puller, the band that eventually went on to spawn The Hold Steady. While that band, led by the manic near-spoken word street poetics of Craig Finn, has developed into one of America’s finest pure rock acts, as well as releasing one of my favorite albums of the decade so far (Separation Sunday), I had up until recently never heard the music of Lifter Puller. So I decided to pick up Fiestas & Fiascos, their 2000 swan song.

After a few listens I feel it’s safe enough to say it sounds close to Almost Killed Me, the Hold Steady’s debut. You can hear the eventual strengths of The Hold Steady starting to develop throughout the songs. Craig Finn does pretty much the same sing/speak/shouting we’ve grown to love (and hate) over the past 3 albums. His stories and characters, while perhaps not as vividly realized as on Hold Steady albums, were still up to their old tricks (“when Niteclub Dwight starts to talk about us getting some rocks he ain’t talking about the ice cubes”, “now Jenny missed her ride and she’s taking off her tights in the backseat of some taxi….and 1,2,3,4 and that’s the way that Jenny scores”). There are a few mentions of a night-club called the Nice, Nice, which on repeated listens offers the opportunity for a makeshift story arc, with all the sordid characters hanging around the same place - possibly the future stomping grounds of Holly and Charlemagne. And the Springsteen influence is already apparent - I mean there’s a song called “Candy’s Room” that imitates that song’s rushing cymbal introduction.

The biggest differences between the two bands aren’t necessarily in philosophy so much as ability. On Fiestas & Fiascos Finn’s stories don’t consistently carry the weight of the best ones he would soon write for The Hold Steady. He has grown into a writer able to mix the jungleland theatrics he obviously loves with characters that are more than just unsympathetic junkies, hookers, and cons. Now they demand our sympathy as well as our awe because they’re really just reflections of us all walking around drinking at our first underage party, or shoving our way to the bar at last call, or enjoying an outdoor summer music festival.

Like The Hold Steady, Lifter Puller was primarily Finn’s vehicle, but the corner bar band sound that still unfairly dogs the band today (The Hold Steady have developed into so much more than that) is more evident here. These songs lack the huge riffs and Roy Bittan-esque piano fills of Boys & Girls In America, instead getting by on pure beer-soaked grime and with more reliance on Finn’s hoodrat lyrics. At best, Fiestas & Fiascos is an excellent display of where the band was in its early days - and fans would enjoy connecting the dots backwards from Almost Killed Me. It is also indisputable evidence of just what a riff factory guitarist Tad Kubler has become, not to mention what as asset pianist Franz Nicolay is. While not exactly a classic that stands on its own, Fiestas & Fiascos is a worthy piece of Hold Steady history that any fan of the band would be happy to discover.

MP3 :: Space Humping $19.99
MP3 :: Nice, Nice
(from Fiestas & Fiascos)

Buy Lifter Puller music from eMusic

And why not?:
MP3 :: The Swish
(from Almost Killed Me by The Hold Steady)

MP3 :: Your Little Hoodrat Friend
(from Separation Sunday by The Hold Steady)

MP3 :: Stuck Between Stations (Live on The Current)
(Originally from Boys & Girls In America)

Drive-By Truckers Rock Castle Clinton

The Drive-By Truckers stopped in to NYC to play a free show last night at Battery Park’s Castle Clinton. Under threatening dark skies and the constant menace of severe weather the Alabaman southern rockers played a hearty mix of songs ranging from throughout their career - there were several promising new songs as well as tunes (“18 Wheels of Love”, “Buttholeville”) that dated back to the early days of the band. Patterson Hood, smiling and spreading his arms wide, seemed overjoyed to be playing in front of the NY audience, while Mike Cooley (whose songs were consistently well-received) had his usual stoicism going on. Spooner Oldham is now playing with the band, filling in on 3rd guitar and keys.

After Ranger Jim introduced the crowd to the castle’s illustrious history in a way that only he can (“now children, can you say Ellis Island?”) the band opened with Southern Rock Opera’s “Road Cases”. They went on to play songs from each of their albums, including a monstrous “Lookout Mountain”, the always awesome “Let There Be Rock”, a countrified “Carl Perkin’s Cadillac”, “Marry Me”, “Gravity’s Gone”, and “Putting People On The Moon”. It seemed like Hood and Cooley were having a blast trading off songs - each one seemingly out doing the other’s that came before. One of the night’s highlights may have been the cool breeze that sifted through the castle as the band launched into the ever-poignant “The Living Bubba”. The lowlight, and comic relief for my friends and I, was when the guy sitting in front of us called out for "Freebird!!!". As if that wasn't bad enough the guy across the way responded with a laughing "awesome man. I knew someone had to yell it!". No, actually no one had to yell it.

MP3 :: The Living Bubba (Live)
(from Alabama Ass Whuppin’. Buy here)

MP3 :: Lookout Mountain
(from The Dirty South. Buy here)

MP3 :: Gravity’s Gone
(from A Blessing And A Curse. Buy here)

And a big thanks to the guy in the green shirt, Johnny Fabulous. He took all the pics (except this one where he wanted to walk all the way up to the front give us the "rock" sign. Owww!).

New Music: Animal Collective

All I’m going to say at this point about Strawberry Jam is that I can’t stop listening to it. Straight through. Amazing. I liked feels, but this is absurdly good. And while I’m here I’d also like to say that the album art is gross. This will be up for the year‘s “best album with worst album art” award. I think Spoon already has “best album with worst album title” locked up. Anyway:

MP3 :: For Reverend Green
MP3 :: Unsolved Mysteries
(from Strawberry Jam)

Strawberry Jam, the new Animal Collective record, drops in September via Domino Records. It’s really good. You probably didn’t hear it here first, nor last.

Music Video: Earl Pickens - "I've Been Everywhere (In Pennsylvania)"

Earlier this year I wrote about the new EP from Earl Pickens, Turn On The Radio, as well as the video for the EP’s (near) title track. That video caught Earl on a zippy overnight trip across 3 state lines (as well as across the GW Bridge) via unicycle. Well, his latest video goes in pretty much the complete opposite direction. It’s a single frame, one-shot deal of Earl playing his classic parody of the Hank Snow & Johnny Cash hit “I’ve Been Everywhere” live on the Mavis L. Honeyduke show in 1952. Yes, this song has been parodied before. No, never this cleverly, especially for those familiar with the mostly very complicated names of Pennsylvania towns. Indeed, Earl has been everywhere (in Pennsylvania):


Check out Earl’s 2005 solo album, Country Music Jukebox, as well as his great new EP, Turn On The Radio. You can do so either at his website, myspace, or at Kill Buffalo Records.

Stream :: Can I Turn On The Radio?
(from Turn On The Radio. Buy here)

MP3 :: Come On Up And Haunt Me Tonight
(from Country Music Jukebox. Buy here)

MP3 :: Take Away My Wristwatch
(from When Earl Was 17 It Was A Very Good Year EP. Buy here.)


Over the past few years it has become increasingly more common for indie bands to try their luck with a major label. It's worked so far for The Decemberists and The White Stripes - each having released strong records recently that actually expanded on their earlier work. Death Cab For Cutie can't make the same claim however, as their last record and major label debut (which I can't remember the name of right now) was a big letdown.

The latest moderately successful indie band to try to cash in on the big label support is Rilo Kiley. The new album, Under The Blacklight, is coming out August 21 on Warner Bros. Records. First single “The Moneymaker” isn’t making me very anxious for hearing it though - it sounds more like a dramatic attempt at a hit rather than a logical progression of the quirky, melodic pop of the last album, 2004‘s More Adventurous. The opening (and recurring) guitar riff is very clearly in debt to Modest Mouse (another major label act with albums of diminishing value), and the rest sort of sounds like a watered down Bjork or a watered up (?) Heart. Listen to the new song:

Stream: The Moneymaker
(from Under The Blacklight)

Speaking of the White Stripes, the Peel Sessions I posted a few weeks ago absolutely killed my bandwidth, so lately I’ve been putting together posts (such as this one) that allow me to link to outside sources for mp3s and such. I think tomorrow the bandwidth issue resets, so expect regular postings later this week. Until then, here are some new albums you can stream in their entirety courtesy of AOL Spinner:

Stream: Editors - The End Has A Start

Stream: The Cribs - Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever

Stream: The Chemical Brothers - We Are The Night

Stream: The Magic Numbers - Those The Brokes

Stream: Meat Puppets - Rise To Your Needs

Stream: Josh Rouse - Country Mouse, City House

New Music - Iron & Wine

The Shepherd’s Dog, the new Iron & Wine album due out on Sub Pop in September, can be a thoroughly confounding listen to anyone hoping for a retreat to the simple homemade sounds of The Creek Drank The Cradle. At times as strangely beautiful as anything he’s ever done, the album often tends to bury what Sam Beam does best - those rural melodies and lyrics, the circular acoustic picking - under layers of oddball noises and strange production choices. Everything I already love about Iron & Wine is on this record, it’s just harder to find. On most songs the added sonics fit beautifully - the “Buckets Of Rain”-like “Lovesong Of The Buzzard” and the pulsating “White Tooth Man” for example. Occasionally they can be distracting, as on the unnecessary distorted vocal of the otherwise gorgeous “Carousel”, or with the overabundance of background vocals in the barroom stomp of “The Devil Never Sleeps”.

For the most part though, Beam and company have crafted a set of songs that take the Iron & Wine template and run with it. The Shepherd’s Dog is a rich, dense extension of the Woman King EP, and is heavily influenced (more in spirit than sound) by Tom Waits’ Swordfishtrombones - an album that acted as a gateway between two distinct phases of the man’s career. The first single, “Boy With A Coin”, is as rhythmic as anything Iron & Wine have recorded. The song still features the typical acoustic plucking that has characterized the band for years, but layers it under plenty of weepy, spacey slide guitar, handclaps, and a heaping portion of percussion that seems more likely played with hands than sticks. These added decorations are a welcome flourish in this case. Recognizable Iron & Wine lyrical themes (childlike confusion, absent religion, suggested violence, etc.) are illustrated beneath the swirling, hazy soundscape, the innocent youthful images backdropped against disturbing events. What else can a child do but turn the coin into a wish by tossing it out to sea?

MP3 :: Boy With A Coin
(from The Shepherd’s Dog)

“Boy With A Coin” has been released as a single backed by two exclusive non-album tracks (Kingdom Of The Animals” and “Carried Home”). It is available through Sub Pop.

New Music - Grand Champeen

Grand Champeen are about as pure and straightforward a rock n’ roll band as you’re likely to find. Taking their cues from the gloriously sloppy hayday of such great Twin Tone bands as The Replacements and Soul Asylum, they’ve been playing together for 17 years, and putting out records since their 2000 debut, Out Front By The Van. Of that record All Music said, “Grand Champeen's debut album is an exhilarating work reminiscent of early-'70s Rolling Stones, the Minneapolis scene of the 1980s, and the No Depression movement of the 1990s: in short, the album takes some of the best music of the last 30 years and puts it all together in under 40 minutes”. High praise indeed, and being that those are three of my favorite eras/bands/musical movements it should come as no surprise that I think Grand Champeen kicks some major ass.

After releasing two more ragged and rawkin’ albums for Glurp, 2002’s Battle Cry For Help and 2003’s The One That Brought You, and years spent playing live, the band decided to take some well earned time to regroup. They returned earlier this year with Dial T For This, their debut on the In Music We Trust label. Featuring a tighter, more melodic version of the band, Dial T For This showcases their new emphasis on song craft over their earlier alcohol fueled thrash. Some might decry the new direction, but Grand Champeen is confident of the album, calling it “their best record” and not hesitating to reveal that it was “recorded and mixed to tape, without the aid of Pro Tools or any editing software”. But even a tamer Grand Champeen still rocks harder than most bands can brag to on their wildest nights. Check out the following 3 tracks from the new album, or go to the Grand Champeen myspace and listen to a few other songs from Dial T For This, including my favorite - “Wounded Eye”.

MP3 :: Different Sort Of Story
MP3 :: Raul Vera
MP3 :: Rottweiler Hair
(from Dial T For This. Buy here)

Bonus MP3 :: One And Only
Bonus Video :: Bottle Glass
(from The One That Brought You. Buy here)

Bonus MP3 :: Miss Out
Bonus MP3 :: Cottonmouth
(from Battle Cry For Help. Buy here)

Bonus MP3 :: Threw A Fit
(from Out Front By The Van. Out of print.)

The (Un)Official Spoon Internet Round-Up

Spoon was basically everywhere this week - releasing a new great new album, playing free shows in NY, Chicago, and San Francisco, hitting Letterman with a horn section in tow, even getting nice with Radiohead. The attention is well deserved, having just dropped Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - one of the year’s best records.

I saw them this past Tuesday at The Union Square Virgin Megastore in New York, celebrating the album release in style. They played a short set, about 35-40 minutes, but stuck around to sign autographs afterwards (yup, I was dorky enough to wait to get my vinyl copy signed. My first ever autograph. Really, ever). The set was heavy on new material, obviously, but they dipped into the back catalog for a rousing “Jonathon Fisk”, and a surprising (and welcome) “Everything Hits At Once”. The set was approximately: Don’t Make Me A Target / Eddie’s Ragga / Don’t You Evah / Jonathon Fisk / Everything Hits At Once / Rhthm & Soul / Black Like Me / My Mathematical Mind. I don’t think I forgot anything.

So this post is an effort to round up some of the noteworthy press in one fan friendly place. I’ve gathered reviews, live show experiences, etc. for you to peruse.

The Reviews:

Pop Headwound (my own glowing review)
Pitchfork (8.5; Best New Music)
Stylus (B+)
Filter (92%)
Tiny Mix Tapes (4.5/5)
Entertainment Weekly
Pop Matters
The Onion (A.V. Club)
Prefix Magazine

Around The Blogs:

Oceans Never Listen (album thoughts)
Rawkblog (live recap from River To River Festival in NY; “The Underdog” video)
Six Eyes (mp3; link to eMusic)
Six Eyes (Spoon mix)
It’s Hard To Find A Friend (album thoughts)
Untitled (album thoughts)
Fluxblog (live review - River To River)
Music For Kids Who Can’t Read Good (track by track analysis)

And over at eMusic there is a song by song explanation from Britt Daniel about the new album. Awesome.

Just added - read a great live review from Wednesday's River to River show at EW.

Video :: The Underdog

MP3 :: The Underdog
MP3 :: The Ghost Of You Lingers
(from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga)

Buy Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga right here, right now

New Music: John Vanderslice

John Vanderslice is one of those artists whose been on my periphery for a few years. I’ve always heard his name and figured I’d like to check out at some point, but until recently hadn’t followed through on that thought. This week I finally had the chance to listen to him for the first time with his inclusion on Stereogum’s OKX: A Tribute To OK Computer. On “Karma Police” (one of my personal favorite Radiohead songs) he somehow makes the song sound even more isolated and paranoid by stripping out the acoustic guitar and piano entirely (until “the best bridge ever“ - in his words), relying on some icy multi-tracked vocals, spacey sound effects, and a robotic beat to make sure we know what we get when we mess with him. When the acoustic guitar does pound its way in he makes sure it buzzes just like a detuned radio. I’m not saying Vanderslice has improved the original, but he gets the song, and puts a unique spin on it.

Barsuk will release a new Vanderslice album on July 24. According to the label, Emerald City is “fueled by an era of deep insecurity and paranoia; they develop in front of a backdrop of ritualized and mythologized current events. Lyrically, JV's characters and storytellers track Manifest Destiny from burning wagon wheels to two-bedroom homes with full amenities in Bakersfield, California. But at its simplest, and captured with straight autobiography in album closer “Central Booking”, Emerald City is made up of JV's love songs — confused and angry, afraid and defeated.”

Check out the first released song from Emerald City:

MP3 :: White Dove
(Preorder here)

Related: Watch his “Time To Go” video over at Pitchfork. It’s also from the new album.

New Music: Buffalo Tom

There was a period in my life (mid 90s or so) where I listened to Buffalo Tom all the time. I could probably throw on Let Me Come Over (1992) right now and sing every word, even after not spinning it in, oh, a good 3 or 4 years. I don’t know if it was the loud, crashing guitars, the effortless sense of melody, or the creepy caveman cover (a precursor to those great Geico adds, no doubt) but something about the album really grabbed me back in the day. Big Red Letter Day had the same onslaught of college radio hooks, only with a slightly slicker production, and the band’s biggest mainstream hit in “Sodajerk”. Sleepy-Eyed was a less consistent, but still occasionally thrilling, meeting point between the two. Yeah, Buffalo Tom were one of my gateway drugs from jambands (meh) to the alt. country/indie world.

Well, following hot on the heels of the recent Dinosaur Jr. reunion (J. Mascis produced BT’s first two albums) comes the original lineup of Buffalo Tom releasing new music for the first time since 1998’s lackluster Smitten. Now a part of New West Records, Buffalo Tom just released Three Easy Pieces, and if you believe the early press it’s a return to form of their early to mid-90s heyday. I haven’t heard the whole album just yet, but this first track (graciously linked from Chromewaves) shows enough promise to think they’re pulling off a rare feat - a comeback album that actually adds to an already outstanding back catalog. “Three Easy Pieces” is sung by bassist Chris Colbourn (instead of usual lead singer Bill Janovitz), and like his classic “Darl”, mixes his trademark adolescent sounding vocals with catchy, driving alt-rock guitars.

MP3 :: Three Easy Pieces
(from Three Easy Pieces. Buy here.)

Listen to another new song (“Gravity”) at Buffalo Tom’s myspace

Music News - Damien Jurado

Damien Jurado’s beautiful, haunting Where Shall You Take Me? was one of my favorite albums of 2003, and a career peak for Jurado. It’s a dusty collection of folks songs that get better the more traditional they sound (except for the rockin' "Texas To Ohio" - which sounds awesome as is). Since then he has released a few solid albums that just haven’t grabbed me nearly as much as that one, or his early stuff, did. Regardless, Jurado has proven himself to be one of the more adventurous and interesting artists working in the Americana field today.

Fast forward to 2007 - Jurado and his band (Eric Fisher and Jenna Conrad) will be entering the studio to work on the follow up to last year’s And Now That I’m In Your Shadow. They will be recording in Avast! Studios in Seattle with Casey Foubert (Pedro the Lion, Crystal Skulls, Richard Swift) producing.

Jurado & company will also be hitting the road later this summer in support of Okkervil River (who are set to release their own new album soon, The Stage Names). Dates below (all with Okkervil River except the first):

07/21/07 Seattle, WA - The Crocodile Cafe w/ Grand Hallway + Night Canopy
09/03/07 San Diego, CA - Casbah
09/04/07 Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour
09/05/07 San Francisco, CA - Independent
09/08/07 Portland, OR - Berbati's Pan (MusicFest NW)
09/09/07 Vancouver, British Columbia - Richard's on Richards
09/10/07 Seattle, WA - Neumos
09/13/07 Denver, CO - Marquis Theatre
09/14/07 Omaha, NE - Waiting Room
09/15/07 Iowa City, IA - Picador
09/17/07 Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theater
09/18/07 Chicago, IL - Logan Square Auditorium
09/19/07 Urbana, IL - The Canopy Club (Pygmalion Festival)
09/21/07 Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Palace
09/22/07 Hamilton, Ontario - Pepper Jack's Cafe
09/23/07 Montreal, Quebec - La Sala Rossa
09/24/07 Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
09/25/07 Boston, MA - Middle East
09/26/07 Northampton, MA - Iron Horse
09/28/07 New York, NY - Webster Hall
09/29/07 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
09/30/07 Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel
10/02/07 Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle
10/03/07 Athens, GA - 40 Watt
10/04/07 Tallahassee, FL - Club Downunder
10/06/07 Houston, TX - Walter's on Washington

MP3 :: What Were The Chances
Video :: What Were The Chances
(from And Now That I’m In Your Shadow)

Bonus MP3 :: Texas To Ohio
(from Where Shall You Take Me?)

Bonus MP3 :: White Center
(from On My Way To Absence)

Buy Damien Jurado albums directly from Secretly Canadian.


Some cool songs, interesting reads, etc. for your Wednesday...

1. Check out this volatile exchange between a blogger (Pierre from Kwaya Na Kisser) and Stacy Philpott (apparently a "higher up" at Merge Records). Oh snap......

2. Stereogum has done something truly amazing for the 10 year anniversary of OK Computer.

3. I like this instrumental track from The Octopus Project called "I Saw The Bright Shinies" - get it at Gorilla vs. Bear.

4. Have you heard The National's Daytrotter Sessions? Everyone's talkin' 'bout their cover of "Pretty In Pink", but it's "Slow Show" that steals the show for me.

5. Arts & Crafts has released Stars new album, In Our Bedroom After The War, for digital download in the usual places despite it having a street date of September 25. That's called being proactive Merge.

6. Pitchfork is streaming 3 new songs from the limited edition Magnolia Electric Co. box set, Sojourner, due out later this summer. Info at Secretly Canadian.

7. Damn, St. Vincent is everywhere. This year's Joanna Newsom? Time will soon tell...

8. The Punk Guy can make you laugh too.

9. Finally, check out Eric Wolfson at myspace. He has a new album out called State Street Rambler (available here) that makes me think he may have been switched at birth with Jakob Dylan. You'll be hearing more about this artist here very soon.

10. Whoa...this just in. eMusic caught up with Spoon's Britt Daniel for an exclusive peak into Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. A must read for fans of the terrific new album. Buy Ga5 from eMusic here.

Album Review - Spoon, "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga"

Three times during a 5-year period (‘98-‘02) Spoon pushed their sonic envelope to dizzying new heights. A Series Of Sneaks offered a full realization of the brilliance that the Soft Effects EP suggested - airtight rock songs played with a Wire-like precision. After some infamous label turmoil, Spoon returned in 2001 with Girls Can Tell - a record that displayed a more personal and lyrically detailed side to Britt Daniel’s songwriting, and introduced a soulful, balanced band sound that relied on keyboards as much as the piercing guitar work of earlier records. Kill The Moonlight followed the next year and destroyed all notions of what Spoon were capable of. It featured their strongest material yet, stripped down to its skeletal minimum - the perfect accompaniment for Daniel’s frightened, starving, razor-sharp pop songs.

But any time a band sets about reinventing itself with every album, purposefully or organically, it runs the risk of a harsh critical backlash if they eventually falter. Gimme Fiction was released in 2005, and for the first time found the band making a record that just sounded like a Spoon record “should” - free of overt experimentation or attempts to confound expectations. It was simply a batch of great songs played in their by-then patently terse, highly stylized way. Gimme Fiction boasted Spoon's most fully realized production yet, as well as an opening run (tracks 1-7) that saw the band joyfully tossing out a string of songs that were among their most accessible ever. They even found time to expand their sound on the sly disco-trounce of “I Turn My Camera On”, a modern indie-rock classic. All of a sudden Spoon found themselves selling out successive nights at New York’s Webster Hall, licensing their music in several television commercials, and even sound-tracking a Will Ferrell led major motion picture (Stranger Than Fiction).

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is the latest Spoon album, and like Gimme Fiction, it doesn’t find the band doing anything dramatically re-inventive with their sound. As a continued holding pattern to whatever future shifts the band may potentially explore, it again sees them churning out painstakingly detailed power-pop nuggets that rely on rhythm and repetition to make their points. A sort of meeting place between the succinct Kill The Moonlight and the more expansive production of Gimme Fiction, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is a rush of expertly played pop hooks, serrated rhythms, and Daniel’s catchy, concise songwriting, all buzzing by in just 36 streamlined minutes. If it sounds like music to play at a party, then cool; and if it’s not their best album it is certainly their most fun, as well as their most consistently pop conscious.

The songs are decidedly upbeat, only varying on “The Ghost Of You Lingers”, a spectral experiment of a song that, like those on Kill The Moonlight, is musically stripped to its primal core, and “Black Like Me”, a slow-building, heartfelt romp that houses a strong nod to “A Day In The Life”. “Don’t Make Me A Target” is Spoon at their angriest, an emotionally strained gasp that rides a repetitive riff and rhythm to a climactic, distortion-fueled solo. The shimmering “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” and “Rhthm & Soul” are prime Spoon rockers - hints of 60’s pop, 80’s New Wave, a mix of electric and acoustic guitars, and in the case of “Cherry Bomb”, soulful horn blasts. “Don’t You Evah” and “Eddie’s Ragga” are Clash-like stabs at incorporating a world of musical influences into their sound (dub and soul mostly), and “Finer Feelings” bursts through the gates ready to rock the casbah, brimming with weird sound effects and a huge chorus.

As a musical collective, Spoon has been riding a sustained peak for years, but Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga finds Britt Daniel stepping up his game as an impassioned frontman. Like the band’s music, Daniel’s lyrics slice through all the awkward wordiness of too many lesser singer/songwriters, leaving only the barest essentials. His voice slides confidently between a sexy falsetto and a manic howl, often in the same line. On the terrific first single, “The Underdog”, he and the band sound more invigorated than ever. The only song on the album to feature producer Jon Brion (the rest features long time collaborator Mike McCarthy), it’s a restless stab at the power-pop gold medal. The sumptuous horns and handclaps of the chorus lift what may well be an only slightly-better-than-average Spoon song to soaring new heights. With the song, and album, Spoon have inched ever closer to the commercial territory they have been flirting with for a few years now while still remaining true to their own artistic vision. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is a rock and roll celebration - it’s 4th of July music one week too late - sizzling hot and ready to explode in a burst of color and noise.

MP3 :: The Underdog
MP3 :: The Ghost Of You Lingers
(from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Buy here)

Watch the video for “The Underdog” here.

Stream Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga at the Merge Records website.

Bonus MP3 :: I Turn My Camera On
(from Gimme Fiction. Buy here)

Spoon will be playing 2 FREE NYC shows this week:

* Today (Tuesday, 7/10) @ The Virgin Megastore in Union Square at 6:30.
* Tomorrow (Wednesday, 7/11) @ Rockerfeller Park as part of the River to River Festival.

Check here for info on Chicago and San Francisco shows later this week.

New Music - The Mendoza Line

The Mendoza Line will release 30 Year Low on August 21 through Glurp. The mini-album finds the band in a state of flux, as both the songwriting partnership and the marriage of primary band members Timothy Bracy and Shannon McArdle is over.

According to Glurp:

As a follow up to the critically acclaimed 2003 release Full of Light and Full of Fire, the new album accrues to a sense of fear and anxiety about the aging of both our bodies and our social institutions. Setting aside personal strife the band continues as ever to co-mingle the personal and the political, documenting the disenfranchised and working poor.

Whether personal or political, literal or metaphoric, Bracy and McArdle's dueling narratives feel like a punch to the throat. McArdle works her early Liz Phair vocals against Bracy's bluesy rasp, each songwriter trading off as lead vocalist.

After nearly a decade of making music together, Tim is stickin' it out as the band's main-man while Shannon will go on to other projects. What we're left with is eight songs so gut-wrenchingly personal you can't help but be swept up in the bitter heartsickness. 30 Year Low is a crowded, brutal, witty, authentic, vigorous mess of history and hurt feelings, a vivid and contradictory document of life at the edge of 30, and the death of love for two beaten-down and tangled-up souls.

MP3 :: Since I Came
MP3 :: 30 Year Low
(from 30 Year Low)

An outtake from the recording has also been made available at the label’s site:
MP3 :: Aspects Of An Old Maid (Alt. Version)

The album version of “Aspects Of An Old Maid” will feature McArdle trading verses with Okkervil River’s Will Sheff instead of Bracy, so keep an ear out for that. 30 Year Low will also be packaged with a collection of rarities entitled Final Remarks of the Legendary Malcontent. The bonus disc will feature a mix of 18 demos, live and alternate takes, outtakes, and covers.

Future tour dates will feature Timothy Bracy with the band:

08/01 Washington DC @ The Black Cat
08/02 Knoxville TN @ The Pilot Light
08/05 Atlanta GA @ The Earl
08/08 Austin TX @ Emo's
08/09 San Antonio TX @ Casbeer's
08/13 Chicago IL @ Schuba's
08/18 Buffalo NY @ Mohawk Place
08/24 Cambridge MA @ TT The Bear's

Video: Josh Rouse - "Hollywood Bassplayer"

Singer/songwriter (and 70's connoisseur) Josh Rouse has a new record coming out. Country Mouse, City House will be released by Nettwerk Records on July 31. The first single is "Hollywood Bassplayer" - and its official fan-made video has been made available through AOL's Spinner website. The song harks back to the smooth, 70's soul vibe that populated his critically acclaimed 2003 album 1972, with maybe just a hint of musical influence from his new European home (read below). Check it out here.

MP3 :: Hollywood Bassplayer
(from Country Mouse, City House)

And in related news - An Aquarium Drunkard caught up with Josh recently and had him discuss several of his favorite aspects of his new adopted home of Valencia, Spain. Also, download another new song ("Pilgrim"), as well as a brilliant cover of The Clash's "Straight To Hell".

Video: Spoon - The Underdog

With Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga just around the corner (next Tuesday) comes the first official video from the new Spoon album (remember the video clip that accompanied “The Ghost Of You Lingers” a few months ago? Still not sure if that was official). This is also the official summer song around the Pop Headwound office. The blaring horn/stuttering handclaps fueled chorus is the perfect excuse to get caught embarrassing yourself in the car when you’re at a red light. The one shot video follows the band/extras/friends/anyone and everyone around the studio for some absurdist fun, and possibly even a murder. Perfect..
(from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga; Merge Records; 7/10/07)

Spoon has all sorts of incentives in place for those who pre-order Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga from their website, including a 22-minute bonus EP featuring all unreleased music.
And why not? Here’s the video for “I Turn My Camera On” from Gimme Fiction:


Music News - Marah

Word from the Marah camp is that they are finished recording their 6th proper studio album. Angels of Destruction will be released in the U.S. on January 8, once again by Yep Roc Records, and January 7 on Munich Records in Europe.

Angels of Destruction will be the follow up to 2005’s If You Didn’t Laugh, You’d Cry. It will be preceded in October by a digital and limited edition 10” vinyl EP which will feature 2 album tracks and 2 bonus tracks. Fans of their 2005 Christmas album, A Christmas Kind Of Town, can look forward to a new holiday song near the end of the year as well.

“Rowhouse Row” is a new song the band has been playing live for a few months and will appear on the EP. Featuring a breezy folk melody and shuffling beat the song shows tremendous promise for the new material. I mean, if a song this good doesn’t make the actual album….


And as always, Marah should be experienced live. Catch them later this summer:

07.25.2007 Vienna, VA Jammin' Java
07.26.2007 Chapel Hill, NC Local 506
07.28.2007 Birmingham, AL The Bottle Tree
07.29.2007 Nashville, TN 3rd & Lindsley
07.30.2007 Lexington, KY The Dame
07.31.2007 Pittsburgh, PA Club Cafe
09.07.2007 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brenda's
09.08.2007 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brenda's
09.13.2007 Brooklyn, NY Union Hall
09.14.2007 New York, NY Joe's Pub

And here’s a great song from the last album:

MP3 :: Demon Of White Sadness
(from If You Didn’t Laugh, You’d Cry - buy)

New Sounds Goin' Round....

Stars is set to release the follow up to 2004’s critically acclaimed Set Yourself On Fire. In Our Bedroom After The War will be released on September 25 through Arts & Crafts. The first single, and one of the most blogged songs of the past week, is called “The Night Starts Here” - and like some of the best songs from the last album features duel vocals from Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell. In Our Bedroom After The War was recorded at the Warehouse Studios in Vancouver, BC and was mixed by Joe Chiccarelli (Morrissey, The Shins, The White Stripes).

MP3 :: The Night Starts Here
(from In Our Bedrooms After The War)

Thanks to Oceans Never Listen for the heads up towards Johnny And The Moon. Yet another side project of Wolf Parade (seriously, how many sides projects can one band have??), this one is Dan Boeckner/Spencer Krug free. Johnny And The Moon is the work of Dante Decaro and sports a decidedly more indie-Americana (by way of Canada, of course) feel to go along with an ear for spirited, quirky melodies. Decaro spent time in Hot Hot Heat, as well as Wolf Parade. The self-titled album saw release in Canada last year, and in the U.S. earlier this year through Kill Devil Hill Records.

MP3 :: Green Rocky Road
(from Johnny And The Moon)

I was introduced to the music of Ben Weaver through a song called “Voice In The Wilderness” that appeared on Uncut Magazine’s Americana CD a few years back. That song hypnotized me with its combination of cracked-voice poetics, sleepy pedal steel/organ interplay, and kitchen sink percussion. It actually sounds like a song born in the wilderness it mentions, but with the rush of the interstate just a few hundred yards away. Since then I’ve been waiting to hear what Weaver would do next. Paper Sky was released back in May and was produced by Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Califone). It slipped right under my nose, and if not for Muzzle of Bees being a better fan than me I may have missed it completely.

MP3 :: Grieve All You Want
(from Paper Sky)


You know every single music blog out there will be putting together some sort of year end list come this December. It’s a given. People who write music blogs, if they’re anything like me (and I suspect they’re very much like me) love lists, and besides holidays, gifts, goodwill for mankind, etc. etc. the end of the year is a veritable gold mine for us music geeks because every day brings new and exciting music round-ups to discover. Waiting for a webpage to load is like tearing into wrapping paper, without the noise or clean up.

Well, June brought some interesting mid-year reports summarizing 2007‘s first 6 months. They’ve been some really great months too - musically speaking, vastly superior so far than 2006 was (IMHO). But I’ve decided not to partake in a mid-year list, mainly because I plan on putting together something big come winter time. Here are those of some of my blogging compadres I think you should check out:

Oceans Never Listen - makes me want to check out Do Make Say Think. Who are those guys?

Rawkblog - a guy who likes Spoon as much as I do. Including leaks makes for a tricky dilemma come end of the year (do you include leaks do out in February ‘08?), but nice to see The Shepherd’s Dog getting some early love.

And Coke Machine Glow is having their Halfstravaganza. I checked out their list of their 31 favorite albums so far, and while a big site is obviously working with a much bigger budget/list of candidates then I am, I was surprised to see that I was familiar with about half of them. One that I wasn’t but soon will be: Chris & Mollie’s The Palm Tree. They have a few mp3s from it and I’ll be looking into this one very soon. Nice list though, even if it is missing Plague Park and The Dead Will Walk, Dear.