New Videos: Okkervil River & Rilo Kiley

The first video from Okkervil River’s The Stage Names is now out there for your viewing pleasure. Actually it’s right here for your viewing pleasure. And yes, that is a former American Idol finalist introducing the vid.

MP3 :: Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe
(from The Stage Names. Buy here)

The Stage Names is streaming in its entirety at the brand new Okkervil River homepage

P.S. - Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands has last night's video of Okkervil River's national TV debut on Conan, so check that out. I love how you can tell when Conan genuinely enjoys a band, as he did here as well after My Morning Jacket a few years ago.

You may recall I wasn’t that impressed with the first single/video from the new Rilo Kiley album Under The Blacklight. “The Moneymaker” was supposed to have something to say about the porn industry (seriously sometimes the West Coast seems like another planet), but the song/video seemed closer to just your average dry hump - whoah, did I just say that? Sorry…anyway, as a possible knee-jerk reaction to the internet’s similar mild to uncaring response comes the second video - the much more successful “Silver Lining”. It starts with a lilting, George Harrison-esque guitar riff and Jenny Lewis’ gently caressing honey-dripped vocals and builds to a soulful, gospel-tinged finale. Hooray!Hooray! indeed.

New Music - Band Of Horses

Oh snap! Nothing to get you out of "gotta unload these boxes" mode like a new song from one of your favorite working bands. Over at their myspace page, Band of Horses has made available the first single from their new record, Cease To Begin, which drops in October 9 via Sub Pop.

"Is There A Ghost?" was a stand out during their recent pool party at McCarren Park, and the studio version captures that energy well. Band of Horses are old pros at working the quiet/loud dynamic (see "The Funeral"), but once those power chords swoop in at the one minute mark any chance of letting up is forgotten. Watch out Top 10 lists of 2007 - there looks to be a latecomer to the party....

The worst thing about myspace is how difficult it is to download mp3s from their server, so here's "Is There A Ghost?" the easy way:

(from Cease To Begin)

(from Everything All The Time. Buy here)

Moving Day...

Moving Day is tomorrow. I’m moving 10 blocks away, but nonetheless it’s going to be a busy few days and I may not be able to post for a while, possibly into next week. But don’t worry, I’m basically emptying my inbox for you right now - everything I’ve meant to post, wanted to post, thought about posting, and some stuff I’m just throwing in there because. This clears my slate, starting as soon as I’m settled and able I’ll be posting regularly once again. Until then you’ve got this to keep you cool.

MP3 :: Paranoia In Bb Major - The Avett Brothers
MP3 :: Permanent Sides - Seems So Bright
MP3 :: Black Out On White Night - Sage Francis
MP3 :: Our Friends Appear Like The Dawn - Bodies Of Water
MP3 :: None Shall Pass - Aesop Rock
MP3 :: Jack And Jill - Kim Richey
MP3 :: Postcard From Kentucky - Rocky Votolato
MP3 :: Parsons White - Phonograph
MP3 :: Put A Penny In The Slot :: Fionn Regan
MP3 :: Heart It Races :: Architecture In Helsinki
MP3 :: Rumors :: Josh Ritter
MP3 :: Moonwatcher - Amasser
MP3 :: Heartbroke - The Good Life
MP3 :: All Together Now - The Go Station
MP3 :: Time Gets Us All - Art In Manilla
MP3 :: Please Sit Down - Between The Pine
MP3 :: Rusty Zippers - Bottom Of The Hudson
MP3 :: Scrap Truck - Dollar Store
MP3 :: I Won’t Let You Down - Travel By Sea
MP3 :: Moving Back Home #2 - Richmond Fontaine
MP3 :: Paper Planes - M.I.A.
MP3 :: The Equestrian - Les Savy Fav

Hmm…wonder what I’d rather see - architecture in Helsinki or some art in Manila?

And if you travel by sea over a body of water could you end up on the bottom of the Hudson and go m.i.a.?

Deep thoughts with Pop Headwound……

New Sounds Goin' Round....

I’m a big fan of Rejoicing In The Hands, the 2004 record that, along with Nino Rojo, shot Devendra Banhart to the fore-front of the unfortunately titled “freak-folk” movement. That album, with its unique shaky vocals, Latin-tinged fingerpicked guitars, and heartfelt lyrics was a slow-grower for me, eventually winding up as one of my favorites from that year. Compared to its predecessor, 2005’s Cripple Crow was an ambitious and sloppy letdown that lacked the same stream of consistently engaging songs.

This Fall will see the return of Banhart, and the early tracks out there from Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon are promising. Out 9/25 through Beggars, the album was recorded at home in Topanga, CA throughout the Spring of 2007, and was co-produced by Noah Georgeson and Devendra. This is the track that everyone is talking about so far - a long, slow building monolith of a jam that turns from homemade folk into full-on rock.

MP3 :: Seahorse
(from Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon)

Aaron Schroeder writes the kind of melodic power-pop that can’t help but put a twinkle in your eye. Just like The New Pornographers, The Shins, or The Long Winters, his new album, Black & Gold, is bursting with catchy hooks and exuberant sing-alongs, with some strong hints that Schroeder also digs the rural twang of Golden Smog and The Jayhawks.

MP3 :: What We Don’t Know
MP3 :: Fake Crimes
(from Black & Gold. Buy here)

Polynya is another group that is confidant with a melodic pop hook. Hailing from North Carolina, the group spent 4 years working on their self-titled debut, and the hard work has paid off. It’s full of sleek, new wavey gems - think an American Camera Obscura.

MP3 :: Without A Trace
MP3 :: Sweatshop
(from Polynya. Buy here)

Music Video: Parts & Labor

Video :: The Gold We’re Digging

Back in May Brooklyn-based noise rockers Parts & Labor dropped their critically acclaimed 3rd full length record, Mapmaker. The album captured the industrial strength intensity the band was previously known for, but also sharpened up the melodies as well, resulting in the band’s strongest and most diverse sounding set of songs yet. Lead single “Fractured Skies” is practically abusive in its pounding rhythms and dissonant guitar noise, yet unexpectedly possesses one of the year’s most melodically exciting choruses.

Jagjaguwar has just released the video, featured above, for the follow-up single, “The Gold We’re Digging”. The song is once again driven by a propulsive beat and a virtual knife-fight between melody and all-out noise. The video’s cut and paste visuals seem fitting for a band intent on combining the pleasant with the abrasive.

MP3 :: Fractured Skies
(from Mapmaker. Buy here)

MP3 :: A Great Divide
(from Stay Afraid. Buy here)

Visit Parts & Labor’s myspace for more music

Old Stuff - Jeff Tweedy: "Crack A Smile"

If you’ve ever wondered what a Jeff Tweedy solo album might sound like then I direct your attention to this little known track from a 2004 compilation. Down In A Mirror turned up on eMusic earlier this year, but was originally released around the time of 2004’s A Ghost Is Born. It’s a collection of artists (also including Okkervil River, The Mountain Goats, The Dirty Projectors, and Six Organs Of Admittance) covering songs by Jandek - perhaps the most prolific and mysterious songwriter of the past 2 decades.

“Crack A Smile” is a stately mid-tempo song. Tweedy’s sad and whisperey vocals are similar to those of A Ghost Is Born songs like “Wishful Thinking” and “Less Than You Think”, but musically it builds with tympani drums and an electric guitar that’s on the verge of being jangly. About halfway through is the surprise - eerie strings that sound lifted from Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs swoop in from some dark, winter night, lifting the song to a completely unexpected place. From there the song deconstructs itself, building to an anticlimax with Tweedy repeating the line “don’t let your fortune fail you” as the music falls apart. Here’s to hoping Tweedy starts making music this desperate, fragile, and beautiful again when they record the next Wilco album.

MP3 :: Crack A Smile
(from Down In A Mirror. Buy here)

John Vanderslice & Bishop Allen Team Up

Two of this summer’s most web-friendly indie-popsters are teaming up for a US tour that will begin in a few weeks and last through most of the Fall. John Vanderslice and Bishop Allen will be joining forces and bringing their respective brand of smart, catchy pop music to audiences all over the country. Both will be promoting their terrific recent albums - Vanderslice’s Emerald City and Bishop Allen’s The Broken String. Vanderslice was recently featured performing songs live from his new album exclusively for some of the biggest music blogs out there. Check that out the list of songs/blogs at his homepage.


09/17/07 Orlando, FL - The Social
09/18/07 St. Augustine, FL - Cafe Eleven
09/19/07 Tallahassee, FL - Club Down Under
09/20/07 Atlanta, GA - The Earl
09/21/07 Durham, NC - Duke Coffeehouse
09/22/07 Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel
09/24/07 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
09/26/07 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
09/27/07 Cambridge, MA - The Middle East
09/28/07 Cambridge, MA - The Middle East
09/29/07 Buffalo, NY - Buffalo Icon
10/02/07 Ann Arbor, MI - Blind Pig
10/03/07 Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop
10/04/07 Athens, OH - Baker Theater
10/05/07 Bloomington, IN - John Waldron Art Center
10/06/07 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
10/08/07 Minneapolis, MN - 7th St. Entry
10/09/07 Omaha, NE - The Waiting Room
10/11/07 Denver, CO - Hi Dive
10/12/07 Provo, UT - Velour
10/13/07 Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court
10/15/07 Vancouver, WA - Red Room
10/17/07 Seattle, WA - Neumo's
10/18/07 Portland, OR - Doug Fir
10/20/07 San Francisco, CA - The Independent

MP3 :: White Dove
(from Emerald City. Buy here)

MP3 :: Click Click Click Click
MP3 :: Rain
(from The Broken String. Buy here)

New Music - Eastern Conference Champions

If Spoon has the worst album title of the year and Animal Collective has the worst album art then Eastern Conference Champions has, hands down, the worst band name. I picture a guy in a LeBron James jersey behind the mic, maybe some guys in Knicks and Nets jerseys backing him up and a messy kind of second rate rap-rock coming out of the speakers. But there aren’t any wannabe professional basketball players in this band (that I know of), and there damn sure ain’t no rap-rock. But, maybe not to the extent of those other 2 bands (whose albums are both likely to be Top 10ers for me this year), ECC have overcome their poor aesthetic choice and delivered a winning album (no pun intended). Ameritown (ooooh….this band needs some help with names) is their new record out now.

Musically, Eastern Conference Champions are most successful when they steer clear of trying to be too “modern alt-rock” as several of the songs do. Much better are the off-kilter songs, the weirder ones, the ones that make me think OK Computer is their favorite album, not that new Smashing Pumpkins one. Lead singer Josh Ostrander’s voice comes off as a cross between Billy Corgan and Jesse Malin, and for the most part is better than that rather unfortunate combination suggests. They are a tight band that loves to add layers of overdubbed textural thingies over their piano led power pop. Playful, bright, humorous, catchy - not a bad summer record. Potential to maybe someday play in the better Western Conference.

MP3 :: The Box
MP3 :: Pitch A Fit
(from Ameritown. Buy here)

New Album Streams @ AOL Spinner

It’s a rainy, nasty Tuesday in New York, which in the music industry means it’s a rainy, nasty Release Day in New York. And as release days go, this one is fairly good. Check out AOL’s Spinner for some full album streams of many of the notable records hitting stores (both tangible and digital) today:

M.I.A. - Kala

The New Pornographers - Challengers

Talib Kwela - Eardrum

Architecture In Helsinki - Places Like These

Galactic - From The Corner To The Block

Caribou - Andorra

Earlimart - Mentor Tormentor

Patrick Park - Everyone’s In Everyone

Kinski - Down Below It’s Chaos

Imperial Teen - The Hair, The TV, The Baby, and the Band

Pretty sure the new Josh Ritter and the new Mendoza Line are out today too.


New Music - The Lightning Bug Situation

I had never seen the movie Solaris, neither Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 original nor the Steven Soderbergh directed remake from a few years ago, when I received an email from a reader describing a new album by a band called The Lightening Bug Situation. In the email he described being blown away by the correlation between the new album, A Leaf; A Stream, and the 1972 version of the movie. Just like when you were in college and used to turn off the lights and the sound to The Wizard of Oz, smoke bad weed, pop in Dark Side Of The Moon and totally freak that they kinda matched up. I never tried the Dark Side/Oz thing, and I haven’t tried this new combo either. But I never needed munchkins, red shoes, flying monkeys or bad weed to enjoy Floyd, and I don’t need…..well, I don’t really know what Solaris is about……to enjoy this new album.
The Lightening Bug Situation singer and songwriter, Brian Miller (½ of The Speakers - who appropriately sound like another band named after audio equipment: The Microphones), seems interested in exploring the passage of time on his band’s album. The 15 tracks include a number of ambient spoken word interludes, all by Miller’s family members, that relate childhood memories over muted stringed keys. These tracks add a certain thematic weight to the album, and act as a sort of aural diary of the people Miller considers closest. The birth of Miller’s daughter, name checked in “Message To Myself After Franny Was Born” and alluded to in song titles such as “Pitter Patter” and “The New Dad”, among others, is another inspiration, and ties together with the recollections of his family to act as, not to get all Elton John on your ass, a sort of concept record about the circle of life.
The songs and music that accompany the dialogue is gentle and womblike. Delicate piano and finger-picked acoustic guitar are set beside textural strings and programmed drums, creating a sonic environment that seems to be floating in space. Miller’s vocals are dry and intimate - another effective instrument amidst the serenity. Such a distinctly personal piece of music could run the risk of becoming boring to anyone not related to Miller, but A Leaf; A Stream contains a focused aesthetic flowing through its 15 tracks - peaceful, artistic, haunting, and hopeful - that creates a beautiful and universal song cycle.
MP3 :: Under Your Jacket
MP3 :: Message To Myself After Franny Was Born
(from A Leaf; A Stream. Buy here)

The (Un)Official Okkervil River Internet Round-Up

The new Okkervil River record, The Stage Names, hit stores earlier this month and since has garnered plenty of well-deserved attention for the band. It may not be as sweeping and enigmatic as 2005’s brilliant Black Sheep Boy, but it certainly is an accomplished bit of widescreen indie-Americana in its own right. Plus it has two of the year’s most ferocious rock songs in “Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe” and “Unless It’s Kicks” - a 1-2 album opening punch that’s pretty much unparalleled this year. Find out what the internets think about the new album:

Coke Machine Glow
The Onion (A.V. Club)
Austin Chronicle
The Village Voice

Around the Blogs:
It’s Hard To Find A Friend
Minneapolis F’ing Rocks
Said The Gramophone
Music For Kids Who Can’t Read Good
I Rock Cleveland
Pop Headwound

Other Noteworthy Attention:
Blogs Are For Dogs - examines all the “plus ones” in the song of the same name
Wireless Bollinger - an interview with Will Sheff
Under The Radar - another Sheff interview
Jagjaguwar has a pod cast available

There are 2 non-album bonus tracks if you purchase The Stage Names from a digital provider. iTunes has a song called “Starry Stairs” and eMusic has “Love To A Monster” (which originally appeared on the Overboard & Down EP).

For those who missed out on the pre-order of The Stage Names, which came with a bonus disc of acoustic demos, here is a sample of what you’re missing out on:

MP3 :: John Allyn Smith Sails (demo version)

MP3 :: Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe
(from The Stage Names. Buy here)

Talkin' New York, Vol 8 - David Shane Smith

Talkin’ New York is a semi-regular feature I like to include on Pop Headwound that focuses on the wealth of emerging local talent in the Brooklyn and Manhattan area. These are artists who have struck me as incredibly talented folks who deserve to have their music heard.

David Shane Smith isn’t on a label. He doesn’t seem to have a press kit or even readily available promo pics I could use to help me with this post. I had to bug him to send a photo 7 weeks after writing this article when I saw him at an open mic night in Brooklyn the other day. He doesn't sell his CDs, just gives them away. They come in homemade slip covers with cute little drawings of pitchforks and such on the outside. Sometimes they’re even just pieces of magazine paper folded in fancy ways to keep the discs from falling out. The songs on his latest homemade album, Wintertower, are hand written in blue - maybe Bic, maybe Papermate - I can’t tell. Everything about Smith screams low maintenance - hell, each time I’ve seen him perform he’s been in a white V-neck and jeans. But his music, an inventive melding of diverse influences (folk, ambient, indie, hip-hop) creates a sonic world that is both challenging and comfortable, and displays a talent far beyond his unassuming presentation.

First of all, his songs are wildly eclectic, melding the above mentioned influences into something striking and unique. Smith is the type of ever-evolving artist that has a hard sound to pin down because of its constant artistic flux. Depending on the night you catch him you may hear whispers of Nick Drake in his songs, the next one of those crazed murder ballads from the Violent Femmes second album, and another an Amnesiac b-side. Whatever his muse, his music is always gripping, darkly poetic, and full of rich detail that can be strikingly direct or painfully obtuse.

Wintertower is the result of dabbling in looped electronics and mixing it with an almost spoken word vocal approach. It’s the sound of a man and a machine learning to live with and love one another - naked emotion wrapped in 0’s and 1’s. Songs like “Dead Battery”, “Garbage Bag”, and “Wintertower” stack beautifully bleak lines (“I’m like a suicide note blowing in the wind”; “leave your graveyard skin behind”; “sleeping like a crack in the Earth”) against spooked beats and stark sound effects. Images of deserted cities, urban decay, failed governments and Gods, and cold isolation bleed out of the speakers - the world in Wintertower’s songs is haunted and desolate, saved only by the occasional burst of joyous melody such as in the last minute of “Garbage Bag”.

Love Songs was Smith’s previous collection of songs. Consisting of 9 simple, lo-fi folk songs, the album is plaintive and humble, allowing Smith’s voice and words to penetrate undisturbed. Starting with a would be thesis statement - “you can’t keep love/you can’t keep something that’s invisible”, the album traces the side effects of love through the intimate accounts of the lyrics. If Wintertower is more impressive sonically, then Love Songs is easily the more focused and accessible of the two, combining Smith’s sophisticated wordplay with an almost placid sense of melody. “Her Song” is my favorite - a haunting tale of a girl/woman struggling to find her place in a world where men have left her battered and bruised. It has more great lines than some artists come up with over an entire career.

MP3 :: Her Song
MP3 :: The Body
MP3 :: Keep Love
(from Love Songs)

MP3 :: Wintertower
MP3 :: Dead Battery
MP3 :: Garbage Bag
(from Wintertower)

Talking to David the other night led to a few interesting bits of information. First of all, his myspace page was recently infected with porn spam - lots of it and uncontrollable, so he’s had to start over from scratch with a new page (click here). So go be his friend - he’s lost 800 of them.

Also, his last New York show will be at Brooklyn’s Bar 4 (soon, can’t remember the date he told me, sorry, keep checking their page) before a permanent move out to the West Coast.

Previously on Talkin‘ New York:

Eric Wolfson
The Cummies
Brook Pridemore
Chris Cubeta & The Liars Club
Creaky Boards
Matt Singer

Friday Shows In NYC...

Friday night is going to have a rather difficult decision for me. You see, two of my favorite New York bands - Here Lies Pa and Wakey!Wakey! - are playing shows within 2 blocks of one another at pretty much the same time. I don’t know what to do other than try to persuade one of them to go on at 10 instead, but I don’t think I’ve got that much sway. Anyway, here are the details. You should definitely check one of them out (eenie meenie miny moe):

Who: Here Lies Pa
Where: Pianos
When: This Friday, 8/17, 8:30

How: Paul Basile (guitar/vocals/)/Patrick Hay (electric guitar/vocals/ladies)/Chris Sahl (bass)/Nick Lombardi (drums/pilfered red wine)

Why: Because their folk-infused indie rock is gaining attention from fans and labels alike; Basile’s earnest, passionate songs are filled with memorable lyrics and melodies; they just went into a studio for the first time, and the result - “Falls” - was time well spent; and because the band has really grown into a tight outfit since debuting back in January. Plus they’ve promised to debut 2 brand new songs.

Stream: Falls

Who: Wakey!Wakey!
Where: Rockwood Music Hall
When: Friday, 9:00

How: Mike Grubbs (piano/vocals/charming stage banter/all around nice guy)/ some promised guest appearances.

Why: Wakey!Wakey! is a band on the verge of bigger things. They’ll be releasing a live album in September through Family Records (Make A Fist Inside Your Pocket), have been featured on bigger blogs than this one lately, and singer/songwriter Mike Grubbs is a truly revelatory singer who writes songs that need to be heard. Over and over.

MP3 :: Falling Apart (live)
(from Cross Pollination: The Mixtape, Vol.1. Available for free download through Family Records and Liberated Matter)

New Sounds Goin' Round....

The new Caribou album, Andorra, comes out via Merge Records on August 21. This first single, “Melody Day” is a swirling blast of 60’s style melodies and perfectly played (damn, there‘s a lot going on here for just one guy!) lush, psychedelic pop.

MP3 :: Melody Day
(from Andorra)

Indie-folk songwriter extraordinaire M. Ward has teamed up with actress/real girl/ elf lover Zooey Deschanel for a duet cover of Richard and Linda Thompson’s “When I Get To The Border”. The song will be featured on the soundtrack to the film The Go-Getter, starring Deschanel and scored by Ward, which debuted at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival back in February.

MP3 :: When I Get To The Border

I’d never heard of Cass McCombs before this recent post over at GvsB, but he has a new album coming out on Domino called Dropping The Writ. This song, “That’s That”, is a pulsing, melodic stunner that shows promise for the full length. One of my favorite new songs of the summer.

MP3 :: That’s That
(from Dropping The Writ)

The White Stripes: The Peel Sessions (Again, and for a limited time...)

By far the post that has garnered the most attention for PHW was the White Stripes Peel Sessions that I ran a few months back. It was so popular in fact that my bandwidth for an entire month was lost after so many of you downloaded so quickly. Well, here I am with a few days left before the next bandwidth reset and some room left to work with - so for the NEXT FEW DAYS ONLY here are the songs (and original post) again:

The Complete Peel Sessions collects a wide array of White Stripes tunes played for legendary British DJ and champion of great music for years John Peel. The songs range from album cuts from their first 3 records, The White Stripes, De Stijl, and White Blood Cells, to a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”, to several takes of traditional folk and blues (“John the Revelator”, “St. James Infirmary”). The performances are evidence that Jack White possessed a strong sense of showmanship before there was much of an audience to show off for. He is consistently engaging while interacting with the crowd and his host.

The music is strong straight through the 22 tracks presented here, with Jack and Meg White (still being introduced as a “brother/sister” combo) rampaging through most songs at a breakneck pace. The riffs come heavy, sweaty, and loud. Jack’s vocals are more frantic than on record, he sings as if he’s being chased by something terrifying. Meg does what she does, keeping steady time at the drums. This is an interesting set, especially for fans of the band who weren’t there yet in 2001/2002 when the band broke. It provides a good snapshot of the early period, pre-Rolling Stone/MTV/corporate rock radio, of one of the decade’s best rock bands.

MP3 :: Hotel Yorba
MP3 :: Let’s Shake Hands
MP3 :: When I Hear My Name
MP3 :: Jolene
MP3 :: Death Letter
MP3 :: John The Revelator
MP3 :: Astro/Jack the Ripper
MP3 :: I’m Finding It Harder To Be A Gentleman
MP3 :: Screwdriver
MP3 :: We’re Going To Be Friends
MP3 :: You’re Pretty Good Looking
MP3 :: Bo Weevil
MP3 :: Hello Operator
MP3 :: Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground
MP3 :: Memphis
MP3 :: Little Room
MP3 :: Same Boy You’ve Always Known
MP3 :: Look Me Over Closely
MP3 :: St. James
MP3 :: Apple Blossom
MP3 :: Jumble
MP3 :: Fell In Love With A Girl


Jagjaguwar has released the first single from the forthcoming Sunset Rubdown record, Random Spirit Lover, which comes out 10/9/07.

MP3 :: Up On Your Leopard, Upon The End Of Your Feral Days

That Truncheon Thing has (as always) some classic bootlegs available for download. Click HERE for The Replacements - Puttin’ On The Ritz/1987 and HERE for The Band - The King Biscuit Flower Hour/1976.

Relatives of Keith Richards Beware! Plus he’s gonna live to 150 years old - so his kids may have to worry too.

Here Lies Pa have their first ever studio track, the wistful turning violent “Falls”, streaming at their myspace. Lead singer Paul Basile has some great new songs at his personal myspace as well.

ABC27 in Harrisburg, PA picked up the story of local favorite Earl Pickens and his quirky love letter of a video for “Can I Turn On The Radio?” - you know, the one with the flowers and the 3-state overnight unicycle ride. Watch the news story at the ABC27 link, and the video HERE.

I Guess I’m Floating reports Patrick Park ripping on Perez Hilton (no link on purpose).

Stereogum reports perpetual role models 50 Cent and Kanye West are trash talking one another about whose album will sell more on the day of release (both are releasing new albums on 9/11). God forbid the music actually be good enough to sell itself. I’m calling on all PHW readers to put a dent in these 2 egos and wait until Wednesday to buy these records!

Gorilla vs. Bear has a new song from the upcoming Rogue Wave album called Asleep At Heaven’s Gate.

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists @ McCarrenn Pool

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists played a great set this past Sunday as part of McCarrenn Pool’s Free Concert Series. The band was tight and spirited, the vibe was cool, the sound was loud (my ears are ringing as I type this), and the Brooklyn Beer was flowing. Great crowd, great music, a really fun day.

Ted and the band played a set that drew heavily from this year’s stellar Living With The Living, as well as from his past few studio efforts - The Tyranny of Distance, Hearts Of Oak, and Shake The Sheets. Among others, he played the Who-ish “The Sons Of Cain”, the punk-pop gem “Me And Mia”, a rousing “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?”, and a bunch of tunes from the new album (“Colleen”, “A Bottle Of Buckie”, “Who Do You Love?”, and “Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.”) that upped the intensity of their studio versions.

The highlight for me though was the encore. After finishing up the main set with a tense and melodic “Timorous Me” and sending off long time bassist David Lerner (it was his last show with the band after 6 years) with a champagne toast, the band was coaxed back to the stage by the enthusiastic crowd. With 5 albums under their belt, Ted & Co. have a ton of great music to draw from and played 2 more songs for those who stuck around, the first of which was “Biomusicology” - a song I’m not exaggerating when I say is one of my 4 or 5 favorite songs of the decade. Needless to say it was a fitting end to a sweat-drenched afternoon of great music.

MP3 :: The Sons Of Cain
Video :: Bomb. Repeat. Bomb
(from Living With The Living. Buy here)

MP3 :: Me And Mia
(from Shake The Sheets)
MP3 :: Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?
(from Hearts Of Oak)
MP3 :: Biomusicology
(from The Tyranny Of Distance)
Buy Ted Leo & The Pharmacists music HERE

Openers The Thermals also thrilled the crowd with their unique brand of socially conscious power-punk. Lead sing-speaker Hutch Harris led the party, and the band (with Kathy Foster on bass and backing vocals and Lorin Coleman on drums) were air-tight. I didn’t catch first band Birds Of Avalon, but by all accounts they were terrific as well.

MP3 :: The Thermals - Pillar Of Salt
MP3 :: The Thermals - Here’s Your Future
(from The Body, The Blood, The Machine)

Thanks again to Johnny Fabulous for the great pics!


The Mendoza Line - 30 Year Low

30 Year Low, the blood-stained new mini-album from The Mendoza Line, is a living, breathing document of the break down of the marriage of band members Timothy Bracy and Shannon McArdle. Like Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks, of which he famously said “a lot of people tell me they enjoy that album. It’s hard for me to relate to that. I mean people enjoying that kind of pain”, the album captures a disintegrated relationship in the last moments before collapse. It will be released August 21 thru Glurp Records.

The disc opens with the gentle “Since I Came” - a song whose delicate frame barely hides its declaration of a new, confused independence. McArdle is seething on the bristling rocker “31 Candles”, and Bracy returns the favor on the fuzzed out “I Lost My Taste”. “Aspect Of An Old Maid” is a playful country-rock romp, as McArdle trades flirtatious (and somewhat comically chauvinistic) verses with Okkervil River’s Will Sheff. All 8 songs reflect the pain of a battered relationship, limping to its end, and going down for the count.

The Mendoza Line has always reminded me of The Replacements in spirit - intensely talented, wildly unpredictable, and always on the outside looking in. If this is the last we hear from them, as seems entirely plausible, it’s a fitting end. Weary and wounded, 30 Year Low captures a band writing and playing at its highest level ever above the line of mediocrity from which it is named. I think the press release says it best - “it’s 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 :: Thirty Year Low
MP3 :: Aspects Of An Old Maid (alt. take)
(from 30 Year Low.)

30 Year Low comes packaged with a collection of rarities and live takes called Final Reflections Of The Legendary Malcontent. At 18 songs, the set contains just about every b-side, compilation track, and cover one could hope for, including their brilliant version of Springsteen’s “Tougher Than The Rest”.

MP3 :: Tougher Than The Rest
MP3 :: Go Shopping

And here are some older songs for you to enjoy:

MP3 :: Catch A Collapsing Star
MP3 :: Mysterious In Black
(from Full Of Light And Full Of Fire. Buy here)

MP3 :: It’s A Long Line (But It Moves Quickly)
MP3 :: Metro Pictures
(from Fortune. Buy here)

MP3 :: A Damn Good Disguise
MP3 :: The Way Of The Weak
(from Lost In Revelry. Buy here)

Playin' Catch-up & Hittin' the Road...

I’m going to be out of town for the next few days and most likely will be unable to update during the week, so I thought today would be a good time to clean house, so to speak. Being that I’m just 1 person running this here mp3 hub, I don’t get to post about every single new song that I like, or that I’d like to. That said, here’s a bunch of stuff I’ve come across over the past few months (all nestled into the ever-expanding “2007” playlist in my iTunes library) that are deserving of a better fate than to be forgotten, at least by this blog. Dig in:

MP3 :: My Sword Hand’s Anger - Apostle of Hustle
MP3 :: Will You Return? - The Avett Brothers
MP3 :: Atlas - Battles
MP3 :: Wild Mountain Nation - Blitzen Trapper
MP3 :: These Days Nothing But Sunshine - The Clientele
MP3 :: Run The Numbers - EL-P
MP3 :: While You Were Sleeping - Elvis Perkins
MP3 :: The Little Heart Beats So Fast - The Field
MP3 :: Grip Like A Vice - The Go! Team
MP3 :: Hallelujah the Hills - Hallelujah The Hills
MP3 :: Punching Goodbye Out Front - Kinski
MP3 :: Plaster Casts Of Everything - Liars
MP3 :: One Kiss Don’t Make A Summer - Lucky Soul
MP3 :: Cloudy People - Magic Weapon
MP3 :: I Am Not Long For This World - McCarthy Trenching
MP3 :: Stitch Me Up - Minus Story
MP3 :: I Saw The Bright Shinies - The Octopus Project
MP3 :: It’s The Beat - Simian Mobile Disco
MP3 :: Half Awake (Deb) - Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
MP3 :: Now Now - St. Vincent
MP3 :: Standing There - United Steel Workers Of Montreal
MP3 :: We Face Each Other - Victor Berman (Hefty Records)

Trying to remember or figure out where each of these tracks came from would be impossible, but I discovered most through the great blogs listed in the “Music To My Ears” section over there at stage left (your right ------>). Gorilla vs. Bear is one of my favorites for interesting new music in genres I’m not usually prone to, as is Oceans Never Listen. More than a handful of these songs were probably originally posted on one of those 2 blogs. See you in a few days…..

New Music - Li'l Cap'n Travis

Li’l Cap’n Travis has a brand new record coming out called Twilight On Sometimes Island on Glurp. August 7th is the release date for this band’s latest set of dreamy, swaying psych-country. Li’l Cap’n Travis’ 4th record is their most successful yet - filled with lush, summery arrangements, nautical imagery, and plenty of tropical sounding pedal steel. The perfect soundtrack for sitting on a desert island watching a ship sink on the horizon.

Glurp has this description: “shimmering with sighs of pedal steel, twangy classic rock licks, and breathy harmonies, their brand-new record, Twilight on Sometimes Island, shows a band firmly in love with the past but by no means looking to repeat it. All the old ghosts are there-a little Beach Boys production, some reverb-drenched '50s rock 'n' roll, and a general sense of good timeyness that feels like the best summer day of your life.”

MP3 :: Sugar Buzz
(from Twilight On Sometimes Island. Buy here)

Bonus MP3 :: Steady As She Goes
(from …In All Their Splendor. Buy here.)

Video: Magnolia Electric Co. - "A Little At A Time"

"A Little At A Time" is from the new Magnolia Electric Co. boxed set, Sojourner. The video features scenes and outtakes from the film, The Road Becomes What You Leave, which comprises the DVD portion of the release. It was directed and edited by Todd Chandler. You can also watch the video at the Secretly Canadien website by clicking right here - the quality is much better than the you tube one.

The boxed set collects tracks recorded by thirteen musicians, in five locations, by four recording engineers, three filmmakers, two designers and one songwriter, including enough material for three full lengths, one EP and one DVD. The boxset includes 4 CDs, a DVD, a poster, postcards and a medallion. The boxset will be released next Tuesday, August 7 via Secretly Canadian.

Magnolia Electric Co. have just returned from Europe and later this month will be embarking on a long North American tour:

08/23/07 Bloomington, IN - Bluebird
08/24/07 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
08/25/07 Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry
08/26/07 Omaha, NE - Waiting Room
08/27/07 Kansas City, MO - Grand Emporium
08/28/07 Denver, CO - Bluebird Theatre
08/29/07 Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge
09/01/07 Seattle, WA - Bumbershoot Festival
09/05/07 San Francisco, CA - Bottom Of The Hill
09/06/07 Los Angeles, CA - Echo
09/07/07 Pioneer Town, CA - Pappy & Hariet's Pioneer Town Palace
09/08/07 Pioneer Town, CA - Pappy & Hariet's Pioneer Town Palace - Jason Molina solo
09/11/07 Tucson, AZ - Club Congress
09/13/07 Austin, TX - Emo's
09/16/07 Houston, TX - Rudyard's Pub
09/19/07 Jackson, MS - Hal & Mal's
09/20/07 Birmingham, AL - The Bottle Tree
09/21/07 Atlanta, GA - EARL
09/22/07 Athens , GA - 40 Watt Club
09/23/07 Columbia, SC - Columbia Music Festival Association
09/24/07 Mount Pleasant, SC - Village Tavern
09/25/07 Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle
09/26/07 Charlottesville, VA - Satellite Ballroom
09/27/07 Washington, DC - Black Cat
09/29/07 New York, NY - The Blender Theatre at Gramercy
10/01/07 Cambridge, MA - Middle East
10/03/07 Montreal, QC - Pop Montreal at La Sala Rossa
10/04/07 Ottawa, ON - Zaphod Beeblebrox
10/05/07 Toronto, ON - Lee's Palace
10/06/07 Detroit, MI - Magic Stick

New Music - Robbers On High Street

I’ve always had this image of Poughkeepsie NY as a particularly dreary city. Besides being the namesake of songs by The Lemonheads and Devendra Banhart, as well as the home of the Bardavan 1869 Opera House, the city has contributed little to the history of popular music. Located halfway between Manhattan and Albany, it’s a town that grew because of its location - a prime trading post on the Hudson River. It’s most famous claim to fame is probably that that’s where I did my fastest ever 100 Freestyle (good enough for a 3rd place finish! Woohoo!) during the 1998 MAAC Conference Championships at Marist College. No one will ever forget that, right?

The members of Robbers On High Street hail from this city on the river, growing up and starting their band there. In 2004 they relocated to NYC and released an EP called Fine Lines, then a debut full length in 2005 called Tree City. This summer saw the release of their sophomore record, Grand Animals through New Line Records on July 24. Maybe growing up in a place like Poughkeepsie forces you to create high energy, spirited pop rock songs, because Robbers On High Street have done just that. The album is loaded with memorable hooks and interesting arrangements - guitars and pianos intersect with a deft rhythm section and plenty of strings and horns.

Spoon is a band that gets mentioned often when trying to compare the sound of Robbers On High Street to another, but while this isn’t completely off base I’m not really hearing that. The Robbers seem more interested in traditional melodies than Spoon, and Grand Animals boasts more orchestral sense of production than just about any Spoon record I can think of. I’m hearing a bit of George Harrison in there (“You Don‘t Stand A Chance”), maybe some Tom Waits on the more unconventional songs (“Guard At Your Heel“), a dash of Spoon (only a tea-spoon….HA!), and some of the New York revival rock acts of the past few years (The Strokes, etc.). Check out a few songs from the new album:

MP3 :: Across Your Knee
MP3 :: You Don’t Stand A Chance
(from Grand Animals. Buy here)
Stream :: Spanish Teeth
Stream :: Japanese Girls
Stream :: Montefiore
(from Tree City. Buy here)

Robbers On High Street myspace for more music and tour dates

New Sounds Goin' Round....

When he’s not running marathons, Josh Ritter fancies himself a pretty damn fine songwriter. He has a new album coming out - The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter is due August 21, and comes hot on the heels of last year’s stellar The Animal Years. I Guess I’m Floating has a great write up regarding the details - Josh had this to say about the record: “Lyrically, musically, and in terms of production it's the most adventurous record I've made yet and I think when you hear it you're going to be surprised. Seriously, repeatedly, and in a good way”. Sounds promising.

MP3 :: The Temptation Of Adam
(from The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter)
-------------------------------- The Weakerthans have had a few years since their last release. Reconstruction Site was released way back in 2003 (forever ago in indie years). Stereogum reported the other day that their next release, Reunion Tour, will be released on September 25 via Epitaph. The first single forgoes the power pop/folk/punk of previous albums for something more understated, recalling one of those tender and bitingly cynical Clem Snide ballads….without the biting or the cynicism.

MP3 :: Night Windows
(from Reunion Tour)
Former Jayhawk and Original Harmony Ridge Creekdipper Mark Olson released his first ever “solo” album, The Salvation Blues, in June. The album features longtime bandmate Gary Louris on 3 songs. “Clifton Bridge” is Mark by himself though, doing what he does best - using that amazing voice to relay some pure, hopeful Americana poetry.

(from The Salvation Blues. Buy here)