The April Mixtape

MP3 :: Vampire - Pink Mountaintops (original post)
MP3 :: Fetal Horses - John Vanderslice (original post)
MP3 :: Yours Truly, The Commuter - Jason Lytle (original post)
MP3 :: Belated Promise Ring - Iron & Wine (original post)
Link :: Rain On - Woods
Link :: Stillness Is The Move - Dirty Projectors (original post)
Link :: Daniel - Bat For Lashes (original post)
MP3 :: The More That I Do - The Field (original post)
MP3 :: Rainwater Cassette Exchange - Deerhunter (original post)
MP3 :: Sacred Trixter - Sonic Youth (original post)
Link :: Zero - Yeah Yeah Yeahs (original post)
MP3 :: Wind Phoenix - Cymbals Eat Guitars (original post)
MP3 :: Thanks A Lot - The Empties (original post)
MP3 :: To Live Is To Fly - Steve Earle (original post)
MP3 :: River - Akron/Family (original post)
MP3 :: While We Were Dreaming - Pink Mountaintops
MP3 :: The Trapeze Swinger - Iron & Wine (original post)

Hey everyone! I’ve had it with Blogger! Earlier this week the sonsabitches deleted a post of mine based on a copyright infringement. Which would be completely understandable…had the infringement actually existed. But it didn’t. And that sucks big time. Since when can't a person put up a link directly to an mp3 hosted by the record label responsible for it? And the thing is, this was the 4th time the same thing has happened to me over the past few months. I can’t explain or understand why they are choosing to pick on me (though I’m sure I’m not alone) when there are blogs on Blogger that post full, complete, illegal album downloads every day!?! It doesn’t make any sense, I’m sick of it, and I’m currently looking into moving Pop Headwound to Wordpress, or Live Journal, or somewhere other than Blogger. Any tips or suggestions?

But getting back to the music. That there is my April mix, and every song is truly excellent. I can’t say enough good things about “Vampire” - it’s right up there with my very favorite songs of the year so far, and I can‘t wait to hear the rest of Outside Love. A lot of those others aren’t far behind - “Daniel”, “Stillness Is The Move”, and “Wind Phoenix” especially. As evidenced here, 2009 just continues to impress with the constant stream of really terrific new music. Check out the previous monthly mixes I've put together to catch up:

[dvd] Wilco - Ashes Of American Flags

If I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, the documentary that followed the turbulent creation and release of 2002’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, showed Jeff Tweedy and Wilco at the height of their songwriting and recording abilities, then Ashes Of American Flags captures the band absolutely peaking as live performers. Beautifully directed and produced by Brendan Canty and Christoph Green, Ashes of American Flags follows Wilco through a portion of their Winter 2008 tour in support of Sky Blue Sky. Capturing live footage from venues in Tulsa, New Orleans, Mobile, Nashville, and Washington D.C. the film works on two levels - as a straight concert film and also as a reflection on the deterioration many mid-sized American cities have been facing over the past few decades. It works on both levels, but fans of the band will view this DVD as a definitive live statement from a band that is almost incomprehensibly tight, seasoned, and in touch with what their audience wants from a live show. I'd recommend Ashes of American Flags to anyone who loves music.

And in other Wilco news, Rolling Stone has announced the forthcoming studio album will be dubbed, um, Wilco (the Album) and see release in late June. “Wilco (The Song)”, which you may remember from its debut performance on The Colbert Report last year, will be the leadoff track. The rest of the track list is as follows:

01 Wilco the Song
02 Deeper Down
03 One Wing
04 Bull Black Nova
05 You and I
06 You Never Know
07 Country Disappeared
08 Solitaire
09 I'll Fight
10 Sunny Feeling
11 Everlasting

Video :: Trailer - Ashes of American Flags
Video :: “Wilco (The Song)” - live on Colbert

[mp3] Jason Lytle - "Yours Truly, The Commuter"

There are few songwriters working today who convey a sense of isolation from the modern world as effectively as Jason Lytle. In fact I like him best when he’s playing music that, thematically, documents the numbing effect technology is having on our society as well as the natural world. Nowhere was this as effective as on Grandaddy’s classic The Sophtware Slump from 2000 - an album that was a sort of response to OK Computer from the woods of the Pacific Northwest. Hell, I’d go so far as to say Lytle wrote 2 of the best song’s ever from a sad, lonely, sentient robot’s point of view on that album, and that‘s got to be saying something.

By now you are probably aware that Lytle is returning with his first solo album since the dissolution of Grandaddy after Just Like The Fambly Cat a few years ago. Yours Truly, The Commuter comes out through Anti on May 19.. “Brand New Sun” was released as a free download through Stereogum last month and was a sunny indie-pop song that, while good, didn't quite live up to the past classics in my estimation. Recently Pitchfork had the title track available and I like it better for the simple reason that it seems to be addressing that modern isolation once again. I was going to try to write a bit more but my daughter is crying and needs to be fed. Yours truly, the computer…

MP3 :: Your Truly, The Commuter (via Pitchfork)
(from Yours Truly, The Commuter. Info here)

[mp3] Akron/Family - "River"

Akron/Family have been steadily gaining attention and garnering critical praise for their beards, as well as their string of noteworthy releases over the past several years, most recently Love is Simple from 2007. Their next record, and their debut for Dead Oceans, is called Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free and comes out on May 5. It’s a sprawling 2xLP set that finds the band, now a 3-piece, expanding their sound somewhat - mixing folk, rock, psychedelia, punk, and jazz with lush arrangements and deep grooves. The harmony driven indie-folk of “River” has been released as a free and legal download and makes a fine introduction to an album that will be getting a lot of online attention in the near future.

MP3 :: River
(from Set ’Em Wild, Set ’Em Free. Pre-order here)

[mp3] Steve Earle - "To Live Is To Fly"

As an (occasionally) over-zealous music blogger I feel like there are certain words and phrases that come up in my writing with a great deal of frequency. No, I’ve never used “incendiary” to describe someone’s guitar playing, but I am certainly guilty of using musical descriptors taken from a very shallow, repetitive pool of options. The most glaring offense is most likely saying something is “one of my favorites” - an expression that, if used too often, will undoubtedly have a dulled impact on my regular readers. However, when I say Townes Van Zandt’s dusty (case in point) folk gem “To Live Is To Fly” is one of my favorite songs, please take me at my word. As far as timeless, distinctly American sounding recordings go, “To Live Is To Fly” stands next to anything written by the likes of Dylan, Cash, Parsons, Springsteen, or The Band. And if you ask Steve Earle, another of America’s finest songwriters of the past 2 and a half decades, I’m sure he’d agree:

Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.” - Steve Earle

Well, there you go. The late Van Zandt was a mentor and friend to Earle as a young songwriter learning the ropes, and later became the middle namesake of Earle’s son Justin, himself a fine singer-songwriter. After years of championing the Van Zandt’s music, Earle finally set about recording a whole album’s worth of his songs. Townes will be released by New West Records on May 12, and “To Live Is To Fly” has been designated as a free and legal download from the album. Earle’s grizzled vocals stand in contrast to the younger Van Zandt’s softer performance, but regardless, it’s a heartfelt version of a great, great song from a man paying sincere tribute to his songwriting hero.

MP3 :: To Live Is To Fly (via Muzzle of Bees)
(from Townes. Pre-order here)

And here’s the best I could do as far as a video performance of the song by Van Zandt - it’s a live recording without any actual video footage. But you get the idea:


[mp3] Sonic Youth - "Sacred Trickster"

The legendary Sonic Youth have released a free track from their forthcoming Matador Records debut, and 16th album overall, The Eternal. “Sacred Trickster” is a bristling, 2-minute rocker sung by Kim Gordon that kicks off the 12 song set.

MP3 :: Sacred Trickster
(from The Eternal. Pre-order here)

If you order through Matador’s Buy Early Get Now program you’ll receive a bunch of extra material including:

- a code to stream the album early, from April 28
- bonus limited exclusive vinyl live LP on street date recorded at the River To River Festival July 4th, 2008 Concert in Battery Park NYC, either in your mailbox or your favorite record store (while supplies last)
- an exclusive poster
- exclusive additional mp3 downloads of outtakes & more live material
- early access to concert tickets in the US (especially if you sign up now)

[mp3] Iron & Wine - "The Trapeze Swinger"

A few weeks ago I posted about the upcoming Iron & Wine rarities compilation due May 19 called Around The Well. Sub Pop has just released the first free and legal download from the album, and it’s “The Trapeze Swinger”. The song, which has become a popular live favorite over the past 4 or 5 years, was originally released on the soundtrack to the (deservedly) forgotten film In Good Company in 2004, and then later as a b-side to the “Such Great Heights“ single in 2006. Here though it gets its first release on a full length Iron & Wine set, ending the second disc with its gentle, hymn-like melody and Beam's dizzying surrealist poetry. It‘s worth it alone for the imagery of heaven’s “pearly gates” being covered in “eloquent graffiti” like “we’ll meet again” and “fuck the man” and “tell my mother not to worry”. “The Trapeze Swinger” is easily one of the finest songs in the Sam Beam catalog, and that’s some lofty praise when you think of all the great songs he’s penned since The Creek Drank The Cradle.

MP3 :: The Trapeze Swinger
(from Around the Well. Pre-order here)
MP3 :: The Trapeze Swinger (live)
(live from the Pabst Theatre, 2/8/07)

[video] Bat For Lashes - "Daniel"

Bat For Lashes has been getting plenty of attention lately, so Natasha Khan probably doesn’t need my $0.02, but, you know, that’s what I’m here for. “Daniel” is from her brand new album Two Suns and I’m kind of really digging its doom and gloom take on the 80s modern rock/pop sound. And that video up there is kind of the anti-Feist “1,2,3,4”, right? Instead of brightly colored, choreographed shiny happy people (or monster puppets for that matter) picking her up and spinning her around the set we get Khan singing, for her Daniel lost in the fire, surrounded by creepy, choreographed nightmare people who also pick her up and spin her around. So yeah. Great song, cool video.

Stream :: Daniel
(from Two Suns. Buy here)

[mp3] Deerhunter - "Rainwater Cassette Exchange"

Hot on the heels of last year’s remarkable Microcastle, Deerhunter have a brand new EP coming out soon (digitally 5/18, physical 6/8) from Kranky. Here’s the title track, available as a free download today from Pitchfork:

MP3 :: Rainwater Cassette Exchange
(from Rainwater Cassette Exchange. Info here)

[mp3] Sunset Rubdown - "Idiot Heart"

Spencer Krug’s Sunset Rubdown is gearing up for the release of Dragonslayer this June, and the first single, the 6-minute ADD mini-epic “Idiot Heart”, has just surfaced. The looser, guitar-heavy arrangement is a clear improvement, IMHO, over Random Spirit Lover’s studio-based meandering, and the song really takes off around the 3-minute mark. Though his songs on Apologies For The Queen Mary were obviously stellar, I’ve always preferred Krug in smaller doses than whole albums - “All Fires”, “Stadiums & Shrines II”, a handful of tracks from At Mount Zoomer. “Idiot Heart” isn’t quite as memorable as those, but it’s close.

MP3 :: Idiot Heart
(from Dragonslayer. Info here)

[mp3] Pink Mountaintops - "Vampire"

Most notorious for the heavy psyche-rock of Black Mountain, Stephen McBean is gearing up to release the 3rd album with his mellower side project, Pink Mountaintops. Outside Love will be released by Jagjaguwar on May 5. I haven’t really spent a great deal of time with either band, for one reason or another, but after spinning “Vampire” for the better part of the evening I think that’s about to change big time. McBean’s vocal is completely disarming, whether alone or backed by a soaring choir on the song’s back half, and gives the song its emotional center. From that to its beautiful acoustic guitar/string section combo to the heart-stopping choir to the stop-everything-and-listen-close lyrics (“you can’t kill the heart of my love”) - this is a damn near perfect song. Listen.

MP3 :: Vampire
(from Outside Love. Info here)

[video] Neko Case - "This Tornado Loves You" (Letterman, 4/15/09)

Another day, another top notch performance from the David Letterman show. Here’s Neko Case performing Middle Cyclone highlight “This Tornado Loves You” with some extra back-up singers and possibly an extra guitarist or 2. The sound is crisp, Neko’s voice sparkles as always, and though she may not be “rad, man” she gets a kiss on the hand from Dave.

MP3 :: Middle Cyclone
MP3 :: People Got A Lotta Nerve
(from Middle Cyclone. Buy here)

[video] Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Zero" (Letterman, 4/14/09)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs stopped by the Letterman show last night and played a killer version of “Zero” from the recently released It’s Blitz. I could tell you how excellent the performance was or you could just watch the video and see for yourself. Or you could take it from the words of Paul Schaffer - “Karen O is like rad, man”. Word up Paul.

Introducing: The Empties

Just today I received a very pleasant surprise in the mail - the new self-titled album from Atlanta’s The Empties (showing up just when I thought all the “simple but still cool” band names were gone). Unlike most of the unsolicited promo CDs I get, I didn’t find myself rolling down the window to toss it out halfway through the first song. Quite the contrary - I was immediately caught up in the angular guitar rock, distorted vocals, and chugging rhythm of “Oh My God”. The rest of the album lived up to the promise of that opening cut - “Thanks Alot”, “Acoustic Melody Maker”, and “Something’s Wrong” in particular add a stronger sense of pop song craft to “Oh My God”’s edge. And then there’s “Flood Rises”, a short and sweet little acoustic shuffle that proves the band can do quiet just as well as loud. Overall, The Empties are a promising young band that remind me of Spoon circa Telephono/A Series Of Sneaks, albums that were very good/great in their own right but acted as a launching point for much bigger and better things to come. The Empties debut is available on Slush Fund Records. The band is playing Pianos in NYC this week - April 16 to be exact. Check out the show if you get the chance

MP3 :: Oh My God
MP3 :: Thanks Alot
MP3 :: Flood Rises
(from The Empties. Buy here)

[mp3] Deer Tick - "Easy"

In 2007 Deer Tick released War Elephant, one of the year’s best debuts and one of my favorite albums of that year. I was taken immediately by lead singer/songwriter John McCauley’s voice, which sounded like it should have been fronting a long lost garage band from the 60s. He sounded like a kid with an old soul and attacked the songs with a swagger well beyond his 21 years. War Elephant was eventually picked up by Partisan Records and re-released in 2008. Today comes a brand new single from the forthcoming follow up. Born On Flag Day will be released in June, and “Easy” is the first taste of what to expect. It’s a raw rocker with a long instrumental lead in custom made to be a side 1 track 1. Born On Flag Day has suddenly jumped to the front of my most anticipated 2009 releases, so stay tuned for more info and music when it’s available.

MP3 :: Easy
(from Born On Flag Day. Info here)

[mp3] Dirty Projectors - "Stillness Is The Move"

Check out the lead single from the forthcoming Dirty Projectors album, Bitte Orca (which is excellent, btw, and comes out June 9). “Stillness Is The Move” is a soulful bit of indie-pop and will be available as part of a 12” single with remixes and new b-sides on May 5. Domino is giving the track away for a limited time for signing up for the DP mailing list. Follow the link…

MP3 :: Stillness Is The Move
(from “Stillness Is The Move” 12”. Pre-order here)

[mp3] Conor Oberst - "Nikorette"

Last year’s self-titled solo album from Conor Oberst was by no means his finest effort, nor did it try to alter his wordy, folk-influenced songwriting approach. Instead it was simply a pleasant reminder, after the clumsy missteps of Cassadaga, that Oberst is capable of writing some awfully pretty songs when he’s focused. Less than a year later he’ll release Outer South, a quick follow up that once again ignores the Bright Eyes moniker in favor of his new friends in the Mystic Valley Band. Outer South drops May 5 via Merge Records.

“Nikorette” is the first song to surface, and, as an exercise in Oberst’s by-now-familiar melodic structuring, works fairly well. I guess. No, that’s not a glowing endorsement of this song - one that walks a fine line between “familiarly pleasant” and “kinda boring”. As with most of last year’s album, Oberst delivers a vocal that never loses control, lyrics of restlessness and movement, and the Mystic Valley dudes sound like a well-oiled bar band. It’s a nice little song with a handful of decent lines, but certainly doesn’t suggest that Outer South, at a staggering 16 songs deep, will measure up to his best work. He surprised me last year though, so we’ll see.

MP3 :: Nikorette
(from Outer South. Pre-order here)

There’s also a documentary that, er, documents the past year in the life of the Mystic Valley Band coming out April 15. What‘s unique about One Of My Kind, other than being filmed by guitarist Phil Schaffart, is the fact that it will be available for FREE through The idea is that fans will appreciate the gesture and donate to one of the charities that works with the website. Nice. Watch the trailer here.

[video] The Tallest Man On Earth - Live @ SxSW, pt.2

The Tallest Man on Earth at Club 1808: Part 2 of 2 from hoovesontheturf on Vimeo.

Here’s Part 2 of Hooves On The Turf’s SxSW video of The Tallest Man On Earth. I posted Part 1 last week. Still in awe not only of Kristian Matsson’s songs themselves but also their presentation in the live setting - if you haven’t checked out 2008’s Shallow Grave I highly recommend you catch up with it. And hats off to Hooves for these two beautifully shot vids. We’ll have to keep a close eye on that site from now on, huh?

Previously on PHW - The Tallest man On Earth :: Shallow Grave

Cymbals Eat Guitars - Why There Are Mountains

The development over the past half decade or so of independently released albums finding widespread blog support and wider audiences has resulted in many of these emerging artists getting picked up by larger labels. With that comes the opportunity for their music to be re-released with a much larger scale of distribution and publicity, sometimes even propelling the artist into the indie spotlight. Off the top of my head I can think of this happening to 3 records I’ve played a (small) part in championing here on PHW. Of course there’s Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, which was picked up by Jagjaguwar last year after moderate success on a much smaller label in 2007. Around the same time A.A. Bondy’s terrific American Hearts was picked up by Fat Possum, and recently Titus Andronicus’ The Airing Of Grievances found a new home with XL Recordings. Each is an album very worthy of the extra attention bestowed upon it after its “discovery”.

The reason I mention this is because I think it’s just a matter of time before the same good fate befalls Staten Island’s Cymbals Eat Guitars. Their excellent debut, Why There Are Mountains, has already garnered heaps of online praise (including Best New Music honors from you-know-who), and seems to be steadily turning up in more and more noteworthy blog features. With the hype machine firmly getting their backs, it seems inevitable that before long the guys in Cymbals Eat Guitars will be signing their names on the dotted lines too.

The album itself makes a strong case of the influence of the 90’s indie-rock scene of the Pacific Northwest on today‘s young bands. It’s been said before, but clearly Why There Are Mountains shares its sense of slapdash grandiosity with classic albums like The Lonesome Crowded West and Wowee Zowee, as well as the gradually evolving epics that marked Perfect From Now On - all touchstones of the 90s indie scene. They all possess the same sort of chaotic, disheveled sprawl that’s custom made for rolling down the windows and following the white lines for a couple hours.

Traditional verse-chorus-verse structure is rare among the 9 songs here. Instead the arrangements often veer and twist through multiple tempo, tone, and instrumental shifts, which only add to the album‘s distinct replay-ability. There’s nothing to get bored of because hardly anything repeats itself. The standard electric guitar clang and emotive vocals of Joseph Ferocious (ugh) are augmented by the occasional trumpet or barroom piano, which allow the songs some further diversity. Highlights include the mini-epic (and appropriately titled) opener “And The Hazy Sea”, the ghostly “What Dogs See”, and the warped indie-pop of “Indiana” and “Wind Phoenix”. With Pavement long since disbanded, and Modest Mouse and Built To Spill clearly on the downside of their careers, Cymbals Eat Guitars are worthy successors to their vintage indie-rock sound. Check ’em out.

MP3 :: Wind Phoenix
(from Why There Are Mountains. Buy here)

Iron & Wine to Release 2xCD Rarities Set

2009 should be a good year for Iron & Wine fans. Sam Beam’s recording project is gearing up to empty out their vaults for proper public consumption. Around The Well, which collects 23 b-sides, covers, outtakes, and compilation & soundtrack songs, will be released by Sub Pop on May 19. Disc 1 features older recordings in the vein of his classic hushed, lo-fi debut The Creek Drank The Cradle. Disc 2 gathers together studio material ranging from the gorgeous Our Endless Numbered Days b-side “Communion Cups & Someone’s Coat” to popular fan favorite “The Trapeze Swinger”, which originally appeared on the soundtrack to the film In Good Company. The full tracklist is available to view here. Amazon has a free mp3 from the album called “Belated Promise Ring”, which even Sub Pop hasn’t released as of yet. From disc 2, check it out:

MP3 :: Belated Promise Ring
(from Around The Well. Info here)

In other Iron & Wine news, Sub Pop will be releasing an 18 song live album called Norfolk 6/20/05 in conjunction with Record Store Day on April 18. This release will be available exclusively at participating independent record stores everywhere. Meaning no Amazon, Emusic, Best Buy, Virgin, etc. Click here for the full tracklist on that one.

Also, over at the Iron & Wine website there is a free download of 8 acoustic tracks from The Shepherd’s Dog. I’ve written about how I’ve found that album to be kind of a mixed bag - there are some great songs and some great songs cluttered with overly busy arrangements. These 8 tracks strip away the busy-ness from their album versions, focusing on Beam’s voice and often poignant lyrics. Check out the 2 songs below or just get the whole ZIP right here.

And finally, Sub Pop mentioned briefly in the Around The Well bio that Beam has begun working on the follow up to The Shepherd’s Dog, which should be released by Spring 2010. Good thing we’ll have the rarities set to hold us over.

[video] Crystal Antlers - "Andrew"

Crystal Antlers - "Andrew" from Touch and Go/Quarterstick on Vimeo.

Here’s another new video for a song I just featured in my March Mixtape earlier this week. Crystal Antlers will release their debut full length, Tentacles, on April 7th after making some serious waves last year with their self-titled debut EP. “Andrew”, the first free/legal download from Tentacles, is a swirling psyche-rock punch to the gut. Listen.

MP3 :: Andrew
(from Tentacles. Buy here)

[mp3] John Vanderslice - "Fetal Horses"

John Vanderslice is getting ready to release his 7th album, Romanian Names. It will be released by Dead Oceans on May 19, and the skewed, deconstructed pop of “Fetal Horses” is the promising first single.

MP3 :: Fetal Horses
(from Romanian Names. Info here)

[video] The Tallest Man On Earth - Live @ SxSW

Hooves On The Turf have a beautifully shot new live video up on their site of Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man On Earth, from SxSW last month. Last year’s Shallow Grave was a record that I caught up with a little too late to include among my favorites, but had I heard it earlier would have easily found a spot among my Top 20. Not to beat a dead horse, but fans of very early Bob Dylan would especially dig TTMOE. Look for Part 2 of this video next week.

Previously on PHW :: The Tallest Man On Earth - Shallow Grave

[video] Cursive - "From the Hips"

I’ve been meaning to post about this song individually for a while, and now I have the perfect excuse. Cursive have just released that licentious new video up there for the first single off their latest Saddle Creek album, Mama, I’m Swollen. The video is either saying something about polygamy, promiscuity, or it’s just an excuse to throw a bunch of attractive people into bed together and roll tape. Whichever, you‘ll probably like it. “From The Hips” turned up earlier this week on my March Mixtape because it was one of my favorite songs I first heard in March. If you haven’t checked it out yet be sure to not make that mistake again.

MP3 :: From the Hips
(from Mama, I’m Swollen. Buy here)

Cursive are hitting the road next month:

*with MAN MAN