28 February 2008

"The Nun's Litany" - Live on Fair Game

Here's a live rendition of the Magnetic Fields' "The Nun's Litany" with Stephin Merrit on lead vocals, as mentioned in my previous post. It's an interesting contrast to the album version not only because of the male perspective, but because of the stripped down arrangement.
The Nun's Litany - The Magnetic Fields (Live on Fair Game)

27 February 2008

Torture Playlist

You can't make some news stories up. You really can't. And sadly we're not. But it has recently come to light that, right alongside waterboarding, the U.S. government is using music as a form of torture against military prisoners. Apparently there are some things worse then simulated drowning -the Bee Gees for instance. Quite frankly I could probably come up with a more torturous playlist (Celine Dion is glaringly omitted for instance). Mother Jones has the entire mix here. Listen at your own risk.

26 February 2008

Bodies of Awesome Sounds

Bodies of Water are easy to compare to other artists. The band consists of a husband and wife and a whole bunch of their friends. Not unlike the Arcade Fire. And speaking of the Arcade Fire, Bodies of Water also display the same sombre, delicate dignity that can be found of 2005’s funeral.

You might find it odd then that the next band I choose to compare Bodies of Water is the Polyphonic Spree. Because while they are as stately as the Arcade Fire, Bodies of Water also share the Polyphonic Spree’s manic exuberance. The joy and delight that hangs from every note the fragile army plays can also be heard on Bodies of Water’s debut, Ears Will Pop and Eyes Will Blink. And then there’s the fact that the Polyphonic Spree are a whole bunch of people singing together, using their voices as instruments, and Bodies of Water are a whole bunch of people singing together, using their voices as instruments.

Who next shall I liken them to? Fellow Volume Knobber June’s one true love, Sufjan Stevens. It’s not so much the sound of the band that brings Sufjan to mind, rather the content. The religious undertones of Seven Swans are echoed here. Although where Sufjan leans towards the personal, Bodies of Water’s focus is more on the theological. The album abounds with surrealist Christian imagery at its best, with water gushing from rocks and hearts being licked. And that’s just in the opening track. But please don’t get the idea that this is a “religious” album. It isn’t anymore than Seven Swans is.

So what do you get when you cross the Arcade Fire, the Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens? An incredibly original debut album. Ears Will Pop and Eyes Will Blink is a layered, complex and awesome piece of art that insists upon repeat listens, much like In The Aeroplane Over the Sea, (and a happy tenth birthday to you, little anne frank album).

Our Friends Appear Like The Dawn
These Are The Eyes
I Guess I'll Forget The Sound, I Guess, I Guess


25 February 2008

Cough Coughing

I am currently suffering from the most obnoxious cough ever and am hoping it doesn't devolve into anything beyond a minor respiratory infection. Anyways, I'll use my illness as an excuse to post this video. Menomena's "Cough Coughing" is one of the more bizarre videos to be released last year - I don't exactly know what a monster made out of garbage bags has to do with this song. But this it's just so intriguing nonetheless.

23 February 2008

The Magnetic Fields @ Town Hall, New York, NY 2/22/08

It's been four years since the Magnetic Fields have toured, but you'd never know it from the impeccable tightness and professionalism of their live shows. They played for a little over two hours (barring a fifteen minute intermission), giving ample time to old and new material alike. Songs off "Distortion " sounded even better the live acoustic setting, freed of the noisy reverb of the album. Melodies and lyrics that got somewhat buried shown through the striped-down piano and cello arrangements.

Highlights included a slowed-down piano version of "Take Ecstasy With Me" and Stephin Merritt (rather then Shirley Simms) singing lead vocals on "The Nun's Litany". Hearing his lush baritone utter "I want to be a topless waitress...I want to be a porno starlet" was utterly hilarious. Of course there were plenty of 69 Love Songs as well, "All My Little Words", "Grand Canyon' and the majestic "Papa Was A Rodeo" among them. The band continues their four night residency at New York's Town Hall tonight and tomorrow. While both shows sold out months in advance, you still might have a chance at picking up an extra ticket at the box office an hour or so prior to the show. Believe me, it's definitely worth a shot.

Sadly I forgot my camera. However I can assure you Stephin Merritt stuck to his wardrobe color of choice.

The Nun's Litany - The Magnetic Fields

21 February 2008

Throw Me the Statue on La Blogotheque

Just yesterday I purchased Throw Me the Statue's brand-spanking-new album Moonbeams. Just today the band appeared on La Blogotheque's Take Away Show. There is nothing more awesome then watching a band you recently discovered playing xylophone and making deliriously catchy music on a random ferry ride. Check out album highlight "About to Walk"

And they also cover Guided by Voices "My Valuable Hunting Knife"

19 February 2008

"I try to be cheerful but I can feel myself deflating all the time"


It's been three years since the British boys of The Boy Least Likely To have released an their debut album The Best Party Ever, which is quite possibly the finest, indie pop record of the 00s. No band combines peppy melodies, eclectic instrumentation (think: glockenspiel, banjo, clickity-clack percussion and recorder solos) with melancholic lyricism and wide-eyed innocence and wonder. It's sad scary world full of monsters and spiders and the onset of adulthood. We might as well clap our hands and sha-la-la while we have a collective twee panic attack.

So finally, finally, finally they have release a new song, which is said to appear on a new album due out sometime this summer. "A Balloon on a Broken String" doesn't stray far from their amazing twee template. The chorus is utterly endearing right from the first listen. And check out these lyrics:

I'm a balloon on a broken string
I'm not attached to anyone or anything anymore...
I'm sad and alone
But you'd never know it to look at me


Balloon on a Broken String - The Boy Least Likely To

And here's a near-classic track of their 2005 album The Best Party Ever
I See Spiders When I Close My Eyes - The Boy Least Likely To

18 February 2008

Wait for the Summer

I haven't seen a video this visually dazzling in a long, long time. Get lost in a barrage of images - all those bugs and apples and snowflakes and shadowed handclaps somersault past you with confounding delight. The song ain't half bad either. Yesayer's "Wait For the Summer" might just be the perfect antecdote to all your winter blues.

16 February 2008

You know how sometimes you get songs stuck in you head. And the only way to exorcise yourself of them is to impose them on someone else? Well now is one of those times. Here are a few random earworms currently running through my brain - and hopefully yours will be next.

Took You Two Years to Win My Heart - Final Fantasy
Such a heartbreaking melody, and oh can't get enough of those strings.

Lolita - Throw Me The Statue
Completely addictive twee-pop, replete with handclaps, glockenspiel and lyrics about wanting that special (younger) someone.

Skeleton Key - Margot & the Nuclear So and So's
I don't know much about this band. But I do know they've written a pretty perfect pop song.

13 February 2008

Don't need no valentine, not anymore

Richard Hawley don't need no valentine. Neither do you. If you've never heard anything by the British crooner, then check out the gorgeous "Valentine" for a well-needed introduction. The sweeping strings are downright epic.

Valentine - Richard Hawley

11 February 2008

He's just looking for his queen of carrot flowers.

Ok I am going to be completely honest and admit I have absolutely NO IDEA where I found this, but it is currently making me giggle. It's a comedy sketch featuring New York alt-comedian Aziz Ansari in which he interviews a dude pretending to be an angry, agressive Neutral Milk Hotel-er Jeff Mangum. He wants to kill Beirut and get a reality dating show on VH1 ala Flavor of Love ("There's nothing neutral about that"). It's completely ridiculous and absurd and maybe even disrespectful but really it's all in good fun. It's also quite apt given tonight is the season three premiere of Flavor Flav's aforementioned reality show and yesterday of course marked the 10th anniversary of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Yeah BOY!

PSNYC Blog Radio - NMH with Aziz Ansari

10 February 2008

How strange it is to be anything at all

Today marks the 10th(!) anniversary of the release of Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Many of you out there have been living and breathing the gospel of this un-follow-up-able album for some time now. Perhaps almost too much has been said of its beauty. Impenetrably transcendent lyricism set alongside hauntingly accessible melodies -questionably the best album of the last decade, but without a doubt, the most life-affirming. It always leaves us left knowing there's no reason to grieve.

In The Aeroplane Over the Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel

Oh and hey, Stephen Colbert is a fan?!

07 February 2008

The (Obligatory) Vampire Weekend Post

If you attended a liberal arts college, particularly a prestigious Northeastern one, chances are over some point during your collegiate experience you were awkward, pretentious or angsty, or some combination thereof (lord knows I was). See here's the weird thing, the boys of Vampire Weekend, fresh Columbia grads mind you, succeed in making music that is neither of those three adjectives. Perhaps this is why the blogs are buzzing about them?

For a debut record, their self-titled album is remarkably confident and ridiculously upbeat. While the Louis Vitton name-dropping and abnormal amount of lyrical references to Cape Cod and obscure punctuation (I'll admit it, I had to wikipedia "Oxford Comma")might seem a bit on the bourgeois-ivory-tower-academia side, there is a self-knowing and all too amiable sweet nature belying the music. There is also a hint of privileged white-boy exoticism. All the strings and tropical percussion just make me want to sip Bartles & James on a yacht. I assure you, this is not a bad thing.

Oxford Comma - Vampire Weekend
Campus - Vampire Weekend

Year of the Rat

...Begins today. Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Sufjan Stevens - Year of the Rat.mp3
Badly Drawn Boy - Year of the Rat.mp3

05 February 2008

"And we drank to absent votes, at the chance that you were right"

If you live in one of 24 US states holding primaries today we hope you made it to the polls (even if you were just writing in rock stars).

And now a song by a distinctively Australian band. It's called "To Absent Votes". And here are some choice lyrics:

They're packing up the polling booths
And pulling down the posters
As the sun sets on the primary school
And the streetlights flicker on
Across the town your mother left behind
At a bittersweet sixteen
You’re trying to convince me
That the government is gone

And you’re not one for anecdotes
But remember our delight
As we drank to absent votes
At the chance that you were right


The Lucksmiths - To Absent Votes.mp3

03 February 2008

Silent as a Movie

Wakey! Wakey!’s live album Silent As A Movie has been getting an awful lot of play time on my iPod recently. There is something about Mike Grubbs voice. The way he belts is powerful. Yet he also knows how and when to exert vocal restraint, which is especially effective on sobering ballads such as “Cokehead”. The album also does a great job of highlighting his eclectic piano playing, oh so beautifully from the jaunty and upbeat to the poignantly somber. I likey.

Fallin' Apart - Wakey! Wakey!
Cokehead - Wakey! Wakey!

And check out this truly transformative cover of Alicia Key's "For No One":
For No One - Wakey! Wakey!

02 February 2008

New Mountain Goats song!

You got it here first!! NPR is currently streaming their live show, Weekend America, in which they are debuting a brand spankin' new Mountain Goats song about Super Tuesday called "Down to the Ark." You can't download it yet, but you can stream the song on the site and check out the lyrics.

Go here!

EDIT: If you missed the show, in which they played the new song and John Darnielle talking about it, you can subscribe to NPR's Weekend America podcast and listen to it there (it's at the very end of the show), and stream it at the site (see link above).

01 February 2008

Every Of Montreal cover. Ever.

Well almost. You Ain't No Picasso has just posted a whopping 52! covers songs by the likes of everyone's favorite glam-tastic E6 band. Get 'em while they're hot.