PHW's February Mix

These are the best new songs I heard this month. Lots of rock. Dig in..

MP3 :: A More Perfect Union - Titus Andronicus (original post)
MP3 :: It’s Hard To Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama) - Phosphorescent (original post)
MP3 :: Birthday Boy - Drive-By Truckers (original post)
MP3 :: Jenny Jump - Roadside Graves (original post)
MP3 :: Heart of Sadness - Sonny & The Sunsets (original post)
MP3 :: A Flower In A Glove - Frog Eyes (original post)
MP3 :: The Mighty Sparrow - Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (original post)
MP3 :: Hope Child - Free Energy (original post)
MP3 :: World Sick - Broken Social Scene
MP3 :: Excuses - The Morning Benders (original post)
MP3 :: Kingfisher - Joanna Newsom (original post)

[mp3] Titus Andronicus - "A More Perfect Union"

As the second month of 2010 inches towards its frozen close I can safely say that Titus Andronicus’s “A More Perfect Union” is the best thing I’ve heard since the bell dropped. It’s the leadoff song from their forthcoming sophomore album, The Monitor - a Civil War-shrouded epic about living in uncertain times that lives up to the promise of 2008’s The Airing of Grievances and then some. Brilliantly tweaking a classic line from fellow Jersey native Bruce Springsteen (“cause tramps like us, baby we were born to die”), and quoting “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” (and hell, the Constitution for crying out loud), “A More Perfect Union” is a prime example of this band’s greatest strength - writing angst-filled guitar rock anthems designed to get a room full of people amped up and shouting along. I don’t think there’s anyone better than them at that these days (case in point), and I’d say that in the middle of The Hold Steady’s rehearsal space if it wasn't for the restraining order. Pitchfork had the free download today; The Monitor rocks your world on March 9 via XL Recordings.

MP3 :: A More Perfect Union (via)
(from The Monitor. Pre-order here)

[mp3] Phosphorescent - "It's Hard To Be Humble (When You're From Alabama)"

In a week that has just been filled with great new music (Joanna, Shearwater, New Pornographers, Broken Social Scene) and great music news (The Walkmen, Hold Steady, LCD Soundsystem, possibly M.I.A.?), it’s Phosphorescent that I’m finally getting around to sharing with y‘all. Pride, the band’s 2007 effort, was a huge hit with me - one of my favorites of that year and the decade as well. Last year’s To Willie, an album of Willie Nelson covers, was an entertaining placeholder and a way for lead singer/songwriter Matthew Houck to kick off his boots and demonstrate that he’s just as comfortable singing straight country tunes as he is with his own enigmatic folk songs.

Here’s To Taking It Easy will be the first collection of new Phosphorescent songs since Pride dropped back in October of 2007. It will also be the first time Houck has recorded with his full touring band (as huge and spacious as Pride was, it was the work of Houck alone). The first song Dead Oceans has chosen to share is the rollicking “It’s Hard To Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama). Driven by horns, a propulsive tempo, and a tongue planted firmly in cheek, this song is a far cry from Pride’s creaky, hymn-like ruminations. It’s also a welcome burst of melody - something that suggests Houck has gone in a somewhat different direction. Well Giddyup. Here’s To Taking It Easy gets born May 11.

MP3 :: It’s Hard To Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama)
(from Here’s To Taking It Easy. Info here)

[mp3] The Morning Benders - "Excuses"

Here’s a promising new song from Berkeley, CA's The Morning Benders, whose sophomore album, Big Echo, was produced by Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear. “Excuses” shares some of GB’s baroque indie-pop leanings and rides a sort of 60's vocal melody (am I the only one who expects him to start singing The Skyliners’ “Since I Don’t Have You” at any moment?) over its lilting, wide open five minutes. An impressive introduction…

MP3 :: Excuses
(from Big Echo. Info here)

[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Houston, 1983

Continuing the Replacements kick I’ve been on for about a month now, here’s a show from the band’s early days - 1983 at Fitzgerald’s in Houston TX. Love the way Westerberg grumbles “we don’t want the sissies here…alright, we’ll do our worst” seemingly towards some hecklers before ripping into “Hayday”. This recording proceeds the release of 1984’s classic Let It Be, so only three songs that eventually wound up on that album are played here (“Favorite Thing”, “I Will Dare” and “Sixteen Blue”). Instead you get a set that focuses on their first three releases (Sorry Ma, Stink, & Hootenanny) as well as a bunch of covers. Good stuff, probably for serious fans only, but go ahead and give it a shot either way. Cover art below.

ZIP :: The Replacements - Live at Fitzgerald’s, Houston 1983 (117.4 MB)
***Link for ZIP is fixed. Sorry for that.***

1. Hayday
2. Love You ‘Til Friday
3. Rock Around The Clock
4. Johnny’s Gonna Die
5. I’m In Trouble
6. Take Me Down To The Hospital
7. Favorite Thing
8. Never Been To College
9. Trouble Boys
10. I Will Dare
11. God Damn Job
12. Sixteen Blue
13. White And Lazy
14. Color Me Impressed (slow)
15. Kick Your Door Down
16. Move It On Over (country)
17. Move It On Over (hardcore)
18. I Hate You/Hey Good Lookin’
19. Sweet Home Alabama
20. Mr. Whirley
21. Johnny B. Goode
22. Jailhouse Rock
23. I’ll Be There
24. Submission
25. (some talking/some thrashing)
26. Gimme Noise
27. I Walk The Line
28. I Hate Music
29. Willpower
30. Go
31. (outro)

* as a note, I omitted "Wipe Out", which is track one, but is nothing more than some noodling/warming up. My track was faulty anyway, never played past the first few seconds.


[Reissue] Roadside Graves - If Shacking Up Is All You Want To Do

Not content to let 2009 speak for itself, PHW faves Roadside Graves have already had a busy 2010. First came a Daytrotter session that featured a batch of reworked songs from last year’s Top 10 worthy My Son’s Home as well as a brand new song called “Liv Tyler”. Then came word that said new song would appear on an upcoming EP of new material called You Won’t Be Happy With Me, to be released by Autumn Tone in March.

Well, to prep the world for those upcoming new songs, the Graves have agreed to re-release their debut, 2002’s If Shacking Up Is All You Want To Do. And you thought the band only recently began using really long album titles. Not so. The digital only release is augmented with an additional 6 bonus songs, some newer than others (“Lot Lizards” was written, I believe, for a 2007 compilation that never came out). Lead singer John Gleason, whose guest posts are no stranger around these parts, lent some words about the album to Aquarium Drunkard the other day:

The record is an odd collection of songs. Biblical Joseph spies on Mary through a hole in the basement. A boy pleads with his girlfriend not to commit suicide for the sole reason that he would then be lonely. A man sets the dinner table while his wife is an automobile accident. Listening back now it seems natural. There was no intended audience. We had played in an indie-pop band for years and had recently been infatuated with old country and folk records the songs were written and recorded with the hope that our friends and possibly our families would be amused.

Gleason’s typically humble recollection is an undersell. While not quite as consistent as No One Will Know Where You’ve Been or My Son’s Home, Shacking Up boasts a handful of songs (“Jesus Is A Friend Of The Family”, “Jenny Jump”, “Song For A Dry State”, a couple of others) that stand up well to much of what they've done since. Fans of the band won't want to miss out. You can pick it up beginning this Tuesday.

MP3 :: Jenny Jump
MP3 :: Lot Lizards
(from If Shacking Up Is All You Want To Do. Buy here)

[mp3] The New Pornographers - "Your Hands (Together)"

A.C. Newman & Neko Case, together again.

MP3 :: Your Hands (Together)
(from Together. Info here)

[mp3] Drive-By Truckers - "Birthday Boy"

Most decent bands that house dual songwriters wind up splitting at some point, usually due to jealousy or control issues or hurt feelings or something of the like. It’s a rare feat when a band with writers as equally inspired as the Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley not only survive, but thrive, for as long as they now have. I think their success is at least partially attributable to the fact that each seems to know (and be perfectly comfortable with) exactly what his role in the band is. For Hood, it’s being the prolific writer whose songs of Southern men making the best of hard times generally imbue DBT records with an overarching theme. Cooley’s job = write a handful of badass tunes about drinking, drugs, women, rock & roll mythologies, and, in the case of “Birthday Boy”, a stripper. Though to reduce this song to a simplicity like that would be unfair - this is A DBT song after all, and one-dimensional characters do not exist here. You can listen to and download “Birthday Boy”, the second track to surface from the upcoming The Big To-Do (ATO Records, 3/16), for the latest promotional strategy currently being used by established bands - providing an email address. It’s worth it.

P.S. - Apparently the song “This Fucking Job”, also from the album and shared a few weeks ago, is now being called “Working This Job”. Bummer. Song still rocks though.

MP3 :: Working This Job
(formerly “This Fucking Job”. from The Big To-Do. Pre-order here)

[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - The Shit Hits The Fans

Of all the Replacements’ bootlegs I’ve posted over the past few weeks, perhaps none is as infamous as The Shit Hits The Fans. Recorded to tape by a fan at an Oklahoma show in November of 1984, the recording was abruptly confiscated that night by the band’s soundman and later released as a cassette-only limited edition of 10,000 copies by Twin Tone Records. The original run quickly sold out, and it’s been out of print ever since. That ugly-as-hell cover art up there was contributed by drummer Chris Mars.

If you know anything about the Mats’ history, then you are probably aware of their notoriety for being unpredictable as a live act. Though capable of amazing performances on any given night, Replacements’ concerts were often complete and utter messes. While all the shows I’ve shared lately would fall into the previous category, here’s a glimpse of what the other side sounded like. The Shit Hits The Fans is full of covers, aborted covers, noodling around, drunken ramblings, sloppy play, and the occasional Westerberg original played kind of half-assed. The sound is surprisingly good though, and it’s fun to hear the band stumble their way through Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”, Tom Petty’s “Breakdown”, B.T.O.’s “Takin’ Care Of Business” (which they actually kind of nail), and many of the others.

So, I guess whether or not you need to download this depends on how much of a fan you consider yourself to be. By no means an essential recording for the casual listener, The Shit Hits The Fans is nonetheless a welcome addition to your Mats collection if you, like me, hold the band in the highest regard. I suppose I’d’ve been pretty pissed at the time if I lived somewhere in Middle America and paid hard-earned money to see a show only to have the band fuck around for 90 minutes, but by now recordings like this only add to their dysfunctional mythology. The best band in the world, if only they gave a shit. Plus, a rippin’ “Can’t Hardly Wait”, so win-win. Read more about this recording here.

ZIP :: The Replacements - The Shit Hits The Fans (62.1 MB)

The Setlist:

1. Lawdy Miss Clawdy (Lloyd Price)
2. Ye Sleeping Knights of Jesus (Robin Hitchcock)
3. Lovelines
4. I’ll Be There (Jackson 5)
5. Sixteen Blue
6. Can’t Hardly Wait
7. I Will Dare
8. Hear You Been To College
9. Saturday Night Special (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
10. Iron Man (Black Sabbath)
11. Misty Mountain Hop (Led Zep)
12. Heartbreaker (Led Zep)
13. Can’t Get Enough (Mick Ralphs)
14. Jailbreak (Thin Lizzy)
15. Breakdown (Tom Petty)
16. No More The Moon Shines On Lorena (Alvin Pleasant Carter)
17. Merry Go Round (Motley Crew?)
18. Left In The Dark (Ken Draznik)
19. Takin’ Care Of Business (Bachman Turner Overdrive)
20. I Will Follow (U2)
21. Jumpin Jack Flash (Rolling Stones)
22. Radio Free Europe (REM)
23. The New Worls (Cervenka/Nommensen Duchac)
24. Let It Be (Beatles)


[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Roadies Play
[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Murder At Maxwells
[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Live at The Roxy, LA
[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Shit, Shower, & Shave
[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Simply Unacceptable, July 1985
[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Putting On The Ritz, NYC 1987
[Bootleg] Paul Westerberg - Unintentionally

[video] Shearwater - "Hidden Lakes"

Here’s the first official video from the forthcoming Shearwater album, The Golden Archipelago. The evocative “Hidden Lakes” gets a visual counterpart to match, and is another reason I’m very excited for this album to drop. Here are the previously posted other two:

MP3 :: Black Eyes
MP3 :: Castaways
(from The Golden Archipelago. Pre-order here)

[PHW Interview] Wakey!Wakey!

Mike Grubbs, lead singer/songwriter of NYC’s Wakey!Wakey!, is a busy guy these days. His band is gearing up for the release of their long awaited full length debut, Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You, through Family Records. With radio ready tunes like the (almost) title track, “22”, and “Got It All Wrong”, the album brings Grubbs’ ambitious brand of orchestral pop music to whole new level. Over the past few years Wakey!Wakey! has built a reputation for putting on transcendent live shows. To capture the grand vision behind his songs on stage Grubbs usually performs with over ten musicians - lots of strings, horns, and, of course, Grubbs on piano. The band will be headlining Mercury Lounge on February 20 to celebrate the release of the new album. Tickets are still available as of right now, but with the building hype, that might change very soon. In addition, Grubbs has enjoyed a recurring role as a bartender (named Grubbs) on the popular teen drama One Tree Hill.

I caught up with Grubbs via email last week to get the scoop on all his recent endeavors. Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You is available now digitally wherever you may prefer to not steal your music from these days, and physically just about anywhere you might still see CDs for sale in 2010. It's one of my favorite albums released so far this year and is well worth the price of admission.

What was the difference between the recording process of Almost Everything...and your past works, like last year’s War Sweater EP or the Covers Record?

All of the songs we had previously recorded came in already completely orchestrated. A lot of the songs for Almost Everything were finished in the studio. I like the freedom of creating in the studio environment. It gives you much more control to craft the sound, and be more experimental.

The new album seems to get away, somewhat, from the piano-dominant sound of what I've come to associate with W!W!. Was this a conscious effort going in to the studio, or a result of playing/recording with a fixed bunch of musicians in a collaborative environment for so long now?

I've always been a pianist, but never really been into piano pop. I have respect for the classics, but modern piano pop very rarely captures my attention for long. There are exceptions to this rule, but overall I prefer things that are a bit more experimental. I think this album really represents me coming into my own sound. In my opinion, Pop music and Indie music are both really messed up right now. Pop has become so washed out and stripped down for mass consumption it has no identity whatsoever. Indie is polarizing in the opposite direction, becoming a less and less approachable toy for the Intelligencia. Once again, this is of course a generalization, but I unfortunately find it true more and more often. I don't see any shame
in Pop music having an identity, and I certainly see no shame in Indie music having hooks. Can't we all just get along? It's almost like, Pop music is that kid that was always way too good looking. He therefore never bothered getting an identity, so he'll never be truly happy or interesting. Indie was the ugly kid, that has the great heart and a refreshing perspective that we could all learn a lot from. Unfortunately he has a chip on his shoulder so big, no one will ever know. In my mind, music should just be music. I don't want to make an album for some small portion of society, and I don't want to dumb myself down for mass consumption. I just want to be me. For years Major labels have called us too weird and a gamble, and Indies have called us less than inventive. Probably the best day of my life was when I decided to stop listening, and just write what I wanted. I hope that comes through on this album.

Your career has taken an interesting route over the past few years….you’ve been with Family Records for a while now and put out a couple of live recordings, but last summer’s War Sweater EP was the first time you released something recorded in a studio, right? Why did that take so long?

Honestly, I think it took us this long to get into a studio because logistically that’s just not how my brain works. I'm good at the initial creation of the art, but to b ring it from brain to store
shelves is just not my forte. That's why I'm lucky to have Wesley Verhoeve and the team at Family Records to help me finally pull it off. It feels great to have it done.

What is a war sweater, by the way? What’s the idea behind that song?

It's like a Wonderwall, but less catchy... haha. In all seriousness I'm hesitant to say what a war sweater is to me, because I like how it's kind of taken on a life of it's own. I will say that the phrase was born of an inside joke between myself and some close friends well over a decade ago, and it has to do with one's way of defining one's self. I've known those guys for a really long time and we have so many inside jokes that we almost speak our own language sometimes. When I
wrote it I actually thought it was a common term, but I'm kind of glad that it's not, now. That's a pretty heavy song for me.

I’ve seen your live show in a variety of settings - from solo piano shows to shows with full string and horn sections where the stage can’t hold all the musicians….describe the process of taking a song from its infancy to a full band version…do you arrange all the parts?

-Songs generally come to me pretty much done. They arrange themselves pretty quickly. The most exciting part of these players for me, has been having a band that I really trust, and can communicate those parts to. It's always a give and take of course. I chose my band members because they're great players, and sometimes I like their ideas, better. I guess the best thing about the band is, I'm really shy with new songs, and I need a really positive environment to bring them to, or I'll just trash them and never bring them back.

I’ve always been impressed with how much time and energy it must take to put together your live shows - there always seems to be a concerted effort to make each one special and unique…how much effort is put into a typical “big” Wakey!Wakey! show? Specifically, the organizing of musicians, rehearsals, setlists, etc.?

It's always amazing how they come together. The week of the show we start saying, "wouldn't it be cool if...", and then just try to make those things happen, often making ourselves really crazy i the process. Some of my early shows were really loose, because it was just impossible to get 17 people together to rehearse. That was most clear to me when I saw Grizzly Bear play with the Brooklyn Philharmonic (Tickets were my birthday present from my friends and family last
year, and my friend date was the hot girl that introduced me to Mark from One Tree Hill, haha). I really realized how much I was half-assing a lot of it. Eventually I learned that I needed to focus on the core of the band, then slowly branch out. I think that's where we are now. The central 6 band members are super tight, so we can just add anything. I really want a children's choir next. My manager is gonna flip when he reads this... haha.

How did "War Sweater" get picked up by the One Tree Hill people [the song was featured prominently in last year‘s season finale]? Was it someone from your label shopping your music around, or someone from the network hearing it and liking it, or something else entirely?

I was hanging out at Bar 4 actually, and there was a really hot girl there I wanted to talk to, so I got up and did some songs to break the ice. Turns out she's a writer for One Tree Hill, and close friends with Mark Schwahn (the show's creator). She brought Mark out a few weeks later, and texted me to come out. He waited 3 hours, which is ridiculous, but I was on a date and had no notice that he'd be there waiting. That was the beginning of me being very impressed by him.
He's the creator of this huge teen drama, and by all rights should be this total LA douchebag, but it turns out he's this amazing, hard working, down to earth guy. No other person in his position would have waited like that. So anyway, he decided to use some songs on the show, then we just became friends, and he offered me the role. We're co-releasing the album with his label (Timber St), and being on a hit prime time show doesn't hurt. As far as the girl I wanted to talk to, she turned out to be engaged to an awesome guy, and we're all friends to this day.

I think the first thing that jumps out to people who hear your music is your voice. It’s a striking instrument, but you show tremendous control over it…how much formal training have you had? Do you have to be careful not to strain your vocal chords?

Well, my parents were singers, so I had training pretty much from birth. In college I sang a bit of Opera, and studied with a ton of great people, including Michael Forest from the Met Opera. I guess all of that kind of goes out the window when the band kicks in and you're at a sweaty rock show. I'm sure there are fundamental technique issues that were ingrained in me that I entirely forget that I do, but overall I try to just sing from the heart. I really think in the end, singing is all about confidence, and while I might lack that in certain areas of my life, musically I'm pretty sure of myself.

The “Covers Album” must have been a fun project? I thought you did a nice job coming up with a real variety of songs that showed off your different talents and influences….how did you go about choosing the songs that you’d record?

They were all different. "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" really kicked it off. Andrew Hoepfner from Creaky Boards, Darwin Deez, and Shilpa Ray and the Happy Hookers (What a bunch of awesome projects) first brought up the cover and we collaborated on it for a weekly party in NY called Cross Pollination. It got me thinking about all of these songs with great stories that were way overlooked. Maybe because the great dance beat, or the persona that presented them was so big that you just got all caught up in that and missed the great songwriting. (That song, by the way is by a guy named Robert Hazard. He passed away recently, and one of his friends caught me playing in Philly. He came up with tears in his eyes, and told me Mr Hazard would have loved it, and that's the way he intended it to sound. It was very touching.)

Where did the Wakey!Wakey! name come from?

Our first song cycle was the inspiration for it. I always wanted to write political songs, because my convictions are rather strong in that department, and it's on my mind a lot. The problem was, whenever I sat down to execute political songs, they came out sounding so trite, that I'd never finish them. I've always been good at love songs, though, so I wrote an album of love songs to the Government. Which in the political climate at the time came out as a break up album. I named the band Wakey!Wakey! as a hint that there was more to it. Our latest album is entirely nonpolitical, but the name was too widely known to change. I guess it's catchy, though.

Stream :: Various Songs from Almost Everything

[mp3] Marah - "Waiting For A Devil"

For PHW favorites Marah (check out #6 on this list and believe it), 2008’s mixed-bag Angels of Destruction! and the hasty, unexpected departure of 3 band members kind of offset the momentum the Philly band had gathered after 2005’s back-to basics If You Didn’t Laugh, You’d Cry. Things have been uncharacteristically quiet in the Marah camp for a long time since. Yeah, there’s been some touring, much of it overseas, but Dave Bielanko has been keeping a low profile for much of the past year, year-and-a-half on the goings-on of his band. Until today.

According to an update on the band’s website, a new album called Life Is A Problem will be released on June 1. For a “pay what you want” fee you can download an outtake from the album called “Waiting For A Devil”, which Bielanko calls, “A simple folk/gospel song written at a time when I was attempting to say as little as possible as a means of capturing more. It's about idle time, ever-shifting allegiance. It's about undying faith under severely tested patience. It's about trying to believe in invisible stuff.”

For a great live band that has a tendency to sometimes over-think things in the studio, let’s hope the simplicity and directness (and, hell, beauty) of this song captures the aesthetic of the forthcoming album. Because when Marah keeps things simple, there’s hardly a better rock & roll band out there.

And, by the way guys, I’m still waiting for “Rowhouse Row” to get a proper release. If you‘re interested and impatient, fast forward to the 1:38 mark:


[mp3] Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - "The Mighty Sparrow"

Above, Ted sporting head wound. Below, a second dose of The Brutalist Bricks (Matador, 3/9) via Matablog.

MP3 :: The Mighty Sparrow
(from The Brutalist Bricks. Pre-order here)

[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Putting On The Ritz, 1987

I'm on such a Replacements bender the past 4 or 5 weeks that I just don't want to listen to anything else. And basically I'm treating this blog as if you don't either. Sorry. Here's a great sounding show from the Pleased To Meet Me tour in 1987 called Putting On The Ritz. I originally heard this one via the late great That Truncheon Thing blog, where you can still go read about the band and show in more detail even if it's no longer available as a download.

ZIP :: The Replacements - Putting On The Ritz, NYC July 1987

1. IOU
2. Nevermind
3. Hold My Life
4. I Will Dare
5. Lovelines
6. Can't Hardly Wait
7. Little Mascara
8. Swingin' Party
9. Bastards of Young
10. Within Your Reach
11. The Ledge
12. Waitress in the Sky
13. Sweet Home Chicago
14. Favorite Thing
15. Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out
16. Unsatisfied
17. Go
18. Nightclub Jitters
19. California Sun
20. Another Girl, Another Planet
21. Kiss Me on the Bus
22. Skyway
23. If Only You Were Lonely
24. Color Me Impressed
25. Takin' a Ride


[video] Neon Indian - "Terminally Chill"/"Ephemeral Artery"

I know this is everywhere today, but seriously. Gotta admit that I tried with Neon Indian’s much-hyped Pyschic Chasms a few times last summer/fall, but never thought it was nearly as special as, like, everyone else seemed to. Fast forward to that Fallon performance from Thursday night and it’s pretty much a whole other story. These guys were wild, the songs (a sort of medley between “Terminally Chill” and “Ephemeral Artery”) jumped to life for me with a full band, and yes, I have to go back and give it another shot.

[Bootleg] Paul Westerberg - Unintentionally, Home Demos 1981-83

Not including the rare exception (I’m thinking “If Only You Were Lonely” and “Within Your Reach”), the very early days of The Replacements were characterized by loud, raucous trash-punk songs played at full volume and full speed ahead. It wasn’t until 1984’s Let It Be that Paul Westerberg allowed the more vulnerable side of his songwriting equal time as his band’s drunken ferocity. I read somewhere a long time ago, before all the recent bonus-tracked reissues offered a glimpse, that Westerberg used to record stuff on his own all the time and slip the tapes to the band’s manager, Peter Jesperson. I remember reading that he was nervous of what his bandmates would think of the gentler side of his songwriting in those early days, so a lot of good ideas for songs got passed over in favor of what turned up, classic as they are, on Sorry Ma and Stink.

Unintentionally is a long traded collection of very early, very rough, Westerberg solo material that, when I first heard it about 6 or 7 years ago, didn’t come close to what I’d always imagined those recordings to sound like. Unintentionally is, to put it mildly, a warts and all collection (and coughs, and yes, even some belching). A few of the songs have turned up in other places of late - “Bad Worker” is a bonus track on the remastered/ expanded Hootenanny, and “You’re Getting Married” the same on the Stink reissue. There’s a fascinating series of song snippets wherein you can here the evolution of “If Only You Were Lonely”, whose whiskey breath and broken-heart-on-the-sleeve attitude is the original blueprint for many a classic Westerberg ballad, and even the fun throwaway “Fuck School” turns up in an abbreviated early form.

Unintentionally isn’t for the faint of heart - there’s nothing like the glossy acoustic perfection of “Skyway” or “Sadly Beautiful” that Westerberg churned out less than a decade later. This is simply a wracked voice, a vaguely tuned acoustic guitar, some attempts at piano noises, and a lot of tape hiss. But for Mats fans it’s a great look into the early songwriting of our great hero. If you listen to nothing else from this collection, don’t miss out on the opener - “Its Hard To Wave In Handcuffs” - a hysterical, twisted, strangely touching piano “ballad”. Oh yeah - and it recently came to my attention that this version I’m posting is actually missing the last few tracks, so if you can send those along I’d be very grateful….

ZIP - Paul Westerberg - Unintentionally, Demos 1981-83 (28 MB)
(artwork at bottom of post)

1. MP3 :: It’s Hard To Wave In Handcuffs
2. Piano Noises
3. Bad Worker
4. Bad Worker
5. Don’t Get Married
6. Hold Me In Suspension
7. Gimme Torture
8. A Little Bit Drunk
9. A Little Bit Drunk
10. Hold Me In Suspension
11. A Little Bit Drunk
12. All That We’ve Been Through
13. Still Be Waiting
14. A Little Bit Drunk
15. I Wish You Were Lonely
16. Still Be Lonely
17. If Only You Were Lonely
18. Fuck School

If you follow this blog you know I've been on quite the Mats kick as of late. Check out these bootlegs from the past few weeks:

[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Roadies Play
[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Murder At Maxwells
[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Live at The Roxy, LA
[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Shit, Shower, & Shave
[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Simply Unacceptable, July 1985

And Captains Dead has posted a couple of noteworthy Replacements items lately as well. Check those out:

Live in Dekalb, 4/85
Sire Era Demos


[mp3] Japandroids - "Art Czars"

Japandroids’ brilliant garage-punk debut, Post Nothing, was easily one of my favorite records of 2009 (#6, actually), and word coming today (via Pfork) has the boys setting up to release a series of vinyl/digital singles over the coming months. Five new songs (recorded during the Post Nothing sessions) will each come backed by a cover and be available on limited edition vinyl (2000 copies of each will be made). The first, “Art Czars”, will be backed by a cover of Big Black’s “Racer X” and drops through Polyvinyl on April 13. Hear the title track below, and if you're a vinyl junkie you might want to get on that order something quick.

MP3 :: Art Czars
(from Art Czars 7”. Pre-order here)

[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Simply Unacceptable, July 1985

More Replacements for you today. Simply Unacceptable captures the band in the summer of 1985, right around the release of Tim. It’s a solid sounding show with a setlist that finds a nice balance of early-to-mid period songs with a few noteworthy covers/rarities thrown in there, including a Westerberg original called “Punk Poop” that was never recorded for an album.

ZIP :: The Replacements - Simply Unacceptable (7th St Entry, Minneapolis, MN, July 1985) - (99.2 MB)

1. Hear You Been To College
2. Bastards of Young
3. Gary’s Got A Boner
4. Color Me Impressed
5. I’ll Buy
6. Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out
7. Unsatisfied
8. Punk Poop (1977)
9. Jean Genie
10. Can’t Hardly Wait
11. Dose of Thunder
12. The Man Who Invented Himself
13. I Wanna Destroy You
14. I Will Dare
15. Little Mascara
16. Left Of The Dial
17. Take Me Down To The Hospital
18. Takin’ A Ride
19. I’m In Trouble
20. Rattlesnake
21. Hitchin’ A Ride
22. Customer
23. Kids Don’t Follow

If you follow this blog you know I've been on quite the Mats kick as of late. Check out these bootlegs from the past few weeks:

[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Roadies Play
[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Murder At Maxwells
[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Shit, Shower, & Shave

And Captains Dead has posted a couple of noteworthy Replacements items lately. Check those out:

Live in Dekalb, 4/85
Sire Era Demos

[mp3] Joanna Newsom - "Kingfisher"

Drag City is sitting on a virtual goldmine with the upcoming triple album, Have One On Me, from Joanna Newsom. Internet interest is at a peak - queue backlash. “Kingfisher” is the third song to surface (after “81” and “Good Intentions Paving Company”) and, at 9 quiet, minstrel-like minutes, is only the third longest song on the 2 hour, 8 minute opus. It’s also quite beautiful, if you’re into harp, flute, and not-quite-as-childlike-as-they-used-to-be vocals. Smitten.

MP3 :: Kingfisher
(from Have One On Me. Pre-order here)

Have Eighteen On Me:

01 Easy (6:04)
02 Have One On Me (11:02)
03 '81 (3:52)
04 Good Intentions Paving Company (7:02)
05 No Provenance (6:25)
06 Baby Birch (9:30)
07 On A Good Day (1:49)
08 You and Me, Bess (7:13)
09 In California (8:42)
10 Jackrabbits (4:23)
11 Go Long (8:03)
12 Occident (5:31)
13 Soft As Chalk (6:29)
14 Esme (7:56)
15 Autumn (8:02)
16 Ribbon Bows (6:11)
17 Kingfisher (9:11)
18 Does Not Suffice (6:45)

[mp3] Josh Ritter - "Change of Time"

Here's a long awaited new song from Josh Ritter, who released the excellent The Animal Years and The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter in consecutive years back in ‘06 and ‘07, but has been relatively quiet ever since with new music. “Change of Time” is available as a free download for the price of an email address. So Runs The World Away comes out May 4, and today Josh had this to say about it on his website:

So Runs the World Away took me over a year to make. I'm proud of the fact that I've never recorded a song for a record that I didn't believe in absolutely and that didn't feel, in its writing, recording, and performance, like a moment of real inspiration. I love the songs on this record so much, and my thanks go to my incredible and talented band, my family, and my family of listeners wherever they may be in this fast-spinning world.

All my very best, and see you soon!


MP3 :: Change of Time
(from So Runs The World Away. Info here)

[mp3] Sonny & The Sunsets - "Heart of Sadness"

Loving this irresistible slice of beach-pop from San Francisco’s Sonny & The Sunsets that Ryan over at The Catbirdseat posted last week. Songs like this make sub-freezing winter mornings just a little more tolerable. It’s from a forthcoming San Fran compilation called In A Cloud being put out by Secret Seven Records in March.

MP3 :: Heart of Sadness
(from In A Cloud. Pre-order here)

And check out this addictive song from Sonny & The Sunsets’ latest full length, Tomorrow Is Alright, available now on vinyl and March 3 on CD.

MP3 :: Too Young To Burn
(from Tomorrow Is Alright. Buy here)

[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Shit, Shower, & Shave

Continuing the Replacements focus of the past two weeks, here’s the infamous Shit, Shower, & Shave live compilation from their tour supporting Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers in 1989. Sound wise, this is another of the best Mats’ bootlegs you’ll find, tracks 1-17 especially. The setlist is cobbled together from three separate dates of the ill fated tour - tracks 1-12 come from Bristol, CT 8/31/89, tracks 13-17 from Milwaukee, WI 6/89 (and were part of the Inconcerated promo CD), and 18-23 from Mansfield, MA 8/28/89. Listen for a handful of Westerberg zingers directed at Petty along the way. I guess Petty got him back by lifting the “rebel without a clue” line from “I’ll Be You”. Get the artwork here.

Other highlights - "Talent Show", one of my favorite late-period Mats' songs, just explodes in the live setting. Three great covers - Chuck Berry's "Around & Around", The Only Ones' "Another Girl, Another Planet" (a live fixture of theirs for years), and Big Stars' "September Gurls". When the full band finally kicks in at the end of "Answering Machine", releasing a lot of built up tension. "Left Of The Dial", of course.

ZIP :: The Replacements - Shit, Shower, & Shave (99.2 MB)

1. Talent Show
2. Around and Around
3. The Ledge
4. Can’t Hardly Wait
5. September Gurls
6. Another Girl, Another Planet
7. Within Your Reach
8. Left Of The Dial
9. Alex Chilton
10. Nightclub Jitters
11. I’ll Be You
12. Bastards Of Young
13. Talent Show
14. Answering Machine
15. Another Girl, Another Planet
16. Anywhere’s Better Than Here
17. Here Comes A Regular
18. Achin’ To Be
19. Waitress In The Sky
20. Don’t Ask Why
21. Unsatisfied
22. I’ll Be You
23. I Will Dare

Spinning lately:

[Live Bootleg] The Replacements - It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Roadies Play
[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Murder At Maxwells

[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Grant Park, Chicago 7/4/91

Here's the very last show The Replacements ever played - July 4th, 1991 in Chicago’s Grant Park. Besides the obvious historical/sentimental value that fact brings, the show is notable for a few other reasons as well. There’s Tommy’s “Wanna see my Axl Rose impersonation?” quip, which draws some laughs from the band and crowd (and later became quite ironic). Paul comically drops the F-bomb about a half dozen times in “Bent Out Of Shape”, knowing full well the show was being broadcast live on the radio. But, more than anything else, it’s the tongue-in-cheek way the show stumbles across the finish line that truly confounds. Instead of ripping through a couple of classics and saying goodbye, Westerberg leads the band into a version of “Hootenanny” wherein the boys switch up instruments, teasing the crowd that they’ll have to listen to it for 20 minutes. Mercifully it ends after just a few, but then, for the grand finale, the roadies come onstage, replace the Replacements, and play a surprisingly adequate version of “Kiss Me On The Bus”. And that's it. Traditionally known as It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Roadies Play, I’m guessing (based on the artwork above) that it also goes by the name Institutionalized. Either way I suppose. It’s a decent enough bootleg, heavy on revitalized All Shook Down songs, with excellent sound quality.


[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements - Maxwells, 4/2/86

ALSO - Do any of you Replacements fans out there have a copy of the 1/31/91 show from The American Theatre in St. Louis? If so, pleeeeeeease drop me a line…my email’s on the side bar -->

[mp3] Free Energy - "Hope Child"

It’s been a while now that I’ve been waiting to hear more from Philly’s Free Energy - ever since the classic rock-tinged teaser “Dream City” surfaced last summer and brought back memories of having nuthin’ much to do but drive around all night with a couple of friends, look for girls, and sing along with the radio. Stuck On Nuthin’ is finally ready for release - it‘s coming March 9 from DFA and was produced by James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem). “Hope Child” has a riff that was made for the FM dial, if only that was still the way it worked. Via Pitchfork.

MP3 :: Hope Child
MP3 :: Dream City
(from Stuck On Nuthin’. Info here)

[mp3] Strand of Oaks - "Two Kids"

It was about a year ago that I first shared Strand of Oaks’ “End In Flames” on one of my monthly mixes. Well, songwriter Timothy Showalter is hitting the road to continue support of last year’s Leave Ruin, and has released a second free download from the album - “Two Kids” - which is another dose of gorgeous, hushed indie-folk.

MP3 :: Two Kids
MP3 :: End In Flames
(from Leave Ruin. Buy here)

And check out his take on Springsteen’s Nebraska classic “Used Cars”, which was recorded live for Hear Ya a few months ago.

MP3 :: Used Cars (live via Hear Ya)

All dates with White Pines

02/16/10 - North Manchester, IN - The Firehouse
02/17/10 - Ypsilanti, MI - The Elbow Room w/ Chris Bathgate
02/18/10 - Grand Rapids, MI - The DAAC
02/19/10 - Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon w/ Juniper Tar, Common Loon
02/20/10 - Milwuakee, WI - Cactus Club w/ Daredevil Christopher Wright, Conrad Plymouth
02/21/10 - Chicago, IL - Halfway Lounge w/ Mako Sica
02/24/10 - Bloomington, IN - The Bishop w/ Vollmar, Mayor of Rocky, Ripple
02/25/10 - Akron, OH - The Manitee
02/26/10 - Columbus, OH - Skylab w/ The Black Swans
02/27/10 - Millheim, PA - Elk Creek Tavern w/ Chicken Tractor
02/28/10 - Frostburg, MD - House Show
03/01/10 - Baltimore, MD - The Wind Up Space
03/02/10 - Kutztown, PA - Eckhaus Gallery w/ Bad Temple
03/03/10 - Brooklyn, NY - Zebulon
03/04/10 - Stroudsburg, PA - Main St. Jukebox
03/05/10 - Philadelphia, PA - The Fire w/ Hezekiah Jones

[mp3] Frog Eyes - "A Flower In A Glove"

New music today from Carey Mercer’s (Swan Lake, Blackout Beach) Frog Eyes project. Dead Oceans (on a roll lately) will be releasing the band’s upcoming Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph, the follow up to 2007’s Tears of the Valedictorian. “A Flower In A Glove” kicks off the 9 song album and is another manic, swirling epic in the spirit of 2007’s brilliant “Bushels”. Listen up.

MP3 :: A Flower In A Glove
(from Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph. Info here)

[Live/Bootleg] The Replacements @ Maxwells - Hobokon, N.J. 2/4/86

With all do respect to Wilco, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Pavement, The Stones, & Spoon, I’ve come to the realization over the past few days that The Replacements are my “Desert Island” band. If you told me that I could listen to only one artist for the rest of my life, it would be The Mats. There, I said it. I’ve been on such a bender the past week or so that I have little interest in listening to anything else right now, so, needless to say, a lot of my bootlegs have been dusted off and gotten some loud spins of late. Here’s one of my very favorite Replacements’ shows - 2/4/86 from Maxwell’s in Hobokon, New Jersey. It’s been affectionately dubbed “Murder At The Maxwell” by fans because lead-singer Paul Westerberg inserts the word “murder” into the lyrics (or just shouts it out randomly) at every opportunity. Regardless of Paul’s peculiar preoccupation that evening (as well as the disappointingly botched ending of “Left Of The Dial”), it’s a truly inspired set that captures the band at the height of their power, a must hear for any Mats fan and just about anyone else who loves rock & roll.

The show is often circulated as part of a compilation called Maniac, which also includes a batch of TV and radio broadcasts from the era. To be clear, the following isn’t Maniac, just the Maxwell’s show. The sound, as you’ll soon hear, is clean, loud, and nervy - the top notch quality never wavering over its 29 songs. Additionally, the show is noteworthy as a historical document of the band during an increasingly tense time period. By the early summer of 1986 original guitarist Bob Stinson would be fired for his inability to get clean. To most, once Stinson was ousted the band was never quite the same. Though they played a number of shows with Bob between this one and his firing, I can’t imagine any being of this high of a sound quality. Enjoy:

MP3 :: Hayday
MP3 :: Color Me Impressed
MP3 :: Dose Of Thunder
MP3 :: Fox On The Run (aborted)
MP3 :: Hold My Life
MP3 :: I Will Dare
MP3 :: Favorite Thing
MP3 :: Unsatisfied
MP3 :: Can’t Hardly Wait
MP3 :: Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out
MP3 :: Takin’ A Ride
MP3 :: Bastards of Young
MP3 :: Kiss Me On The Bus
MP3 :: Black Diamond
MP3 :: Johnny’s Gonna Die
MP3 :: Otto
MP3 :: I’m In Trouble
MP3 :: Left Of The Dial
MP3 :: God Damn Job
MP3 :: Answering Machine
MP3 :: Waitress In The Sky
MP3 :: Take Me Down To The Hospital
MP3 :: Gary’s Got A Boner
MP3 :: If Only You Were Lonely
MP3 :: Baby Strange
MP3 :: Hitchin’ A Ride
MP3 :: Nowhere Man
MP3 :: Go
MP3 :: Fuck School

And check out last week’s Mats bootleg if you missed out - Live at The Roxy, 12/17/85