31 March 2008

Happy Birthday Jess!

Please join me (and Caribou) in wishing our dear blogger Jess a Happy 23rd Birthday today! <3

Caribou - Every Time She Turns 'Round It's Her Birthday.mp3

"You're a victim of your cautiousness"

The Dodos

It's been an unseasonably cold and rainy spring in New York. I ran out on my lunch hour today and trekked three blocks without an umbrella, in need of a little musical retail therapy to cure my seasonal blahs. Among the albums I bought was The Dodos' "Visiter." I like it. It sounds a lot like the way I felt prior to buying it--prickly, melancholy, and a little wounded. Think skeletal acoustic melodies, with an Animal Collective-like freneticness, but minus the squawking.

Winter - The Dodos
Red and Purple - The Dodos

Max Mix Muxtape

In case you've not yet discovered it, http://muxtape.com/ is a fabuu new site where you can upload up to 12 mp3s and they'll stream on your own page. The greatest part, however, is browsing through the hundreds--if not thousands--of mixes created by other users in just the past few days since the site was launched.

I made one:

It's based off a mix I made for my parents, of all people. Here is the complete mix, with all the songs for you to download.

18 songs/1:18:02 total time
Side "A"
Aesop Rock - Coffee (ft. John Darnielle).mp3
the Mountain Goats - Lovecraft In Brooklyn.mp3
Örtz - We Don't Talk.mp3
Jens Lekman - Sipping On The Sweet Nectar.mp3
Justice - D.A.N.C.E..mp3
M.I.A. - Paper Planes.mp3
LCD Soundsystem - Someone Great.mp3
Beirut - Scenic World.m4a
Manu Chao - Me Gustas Tu.m4a

Side "B"
Rihanna - Umbrella (feat. Jay-Z).mp3
Oliver Future - The Big Sleep.mp3
The National - Ada.mp3
Estradasphere - A Corporate Merger.mp3
Islands - Where There's A Will There's A Whalebone.mp3
Radiohead - Reckoner.mp3
Deerhoof - Panda Panda Panda.mp3
The Unicorns - I Was Born (A Unicorn).mp3
Patrick Wolf - The Stars.mp3

I beg you, please draw no comparisons to Jess' and my favorite Mux mix yet:

29 March 2008

Lookout! New Silver Jews songs!

Silver Jews: Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea

Albums by the Silver Jews can seem few and far between with releases coming years apart. Luckily David Berman and company are following up 2005's superb Tanglewood Numbers with Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea due out this June. Brimming with Berman's trademark wit, deadpan baritone and bitting lyricism, Lookout! contains all the qualities you've come to expect from the countrified indie-rocking collective. Lookout is looking to be one of my fave albums of the year.

Silver Jews - Suffering Jukebox.mp3
Silver Jews - Aloyisius, Bluegrass Drummer.mp3

And I'll take any excuse to post this absolute classic from 1998's American Water:

Silver Jews - Random Rules.m4a

27 March 2008

I'm listening to Dance Music

I need to get moving today. Some inspiration for the morning:

FischerSpooner - Emerge.mp3 from #1
I fell in love with this song after seeing it used in a surreal meta-humorous Garfield strip. A PURSE IS NOT FOOD! YOU CANNOT EAT A PURSE!

Bill Withers - Use Me.mp3 from Still Bill
Old-skool beats. Real Soul-funk; classic R&B in the truest definition: rhythm AND blues. From the same genius that brought you the creative percussion on "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone." If you like that song, you'll love this one.

DJ Tiësto - Motorcycle (As the Rush Comes).mp3 from Nyana
Pure psychotrance trip-hop. The purest musical equivalent of peaking on Extacy. This entire album just flows so smoothly and even if you're not into rave music, this pulsing beat is great background music for things like cleaning, long drives or even studying.

Mr. Scruff - Get A Move On.mp3 from Keep It Unreal
A happy, upbeat dance song from the late '90s. I think it was even featured in an SUV ad a few years ago, which is sad, because this is such a great song: well-edited spoken word samples on a bouncy loop of beats.

Nine Inch Nails - Closer.mp3 from The Downward Spiral
The classic dance song must-have for the gothic types. even though I grew out of that phase when I was 16 (thank god) I could never outgrow this song.

Power Pill - Pacman Remix.mp3 from ????? The Internets?
Because video game music tends to have a solid beat in the first place (keeps you focues on those levels!) I love modern remixes of them. This is one of the best! I have no idea the original source of this track, so you should get The Altogether instead.

Chayanne - Salomé.mp3 from Atado a tu Amor
Some Latin flava. Chayanne may not be as well known in the States, but this ladies-man hipshaker is the male equivalent of Shakira. Less overtly cheesy and dancey than some of the more popular exports, this song stays truer to its roots with a more traditional beat and bright brass flourishes.

Lady Sovereign - Fiddle With The Volume (Ghislain Poirier Remix).mp3 from Vertically Challenged
This drum-n-bass remix is far superior to the original version of this song, IMHO. With a heavy grime-core backbeat, it's something to scare even the most musically progressive aging gen-Xer (haha).

mc DJ - UFO.mp3 from Illin' Noise
To end on a lighter note, this slow, dreamy, ethereal remix samples crickets and airy harmonies over a select loop of piano, strings and flutes. A good one to nod along to.

Para los lectores de habla hispana de VK

Estoy apesadumbrada si mi español es incorrecto:

VK tiene muchos lectores alrededor del mundo que hablan muchas idiomas. Lo apreciamos. Esta historia viene a nosotros de Daily Swarm. Jess vio esta historia y nosotros de las noticias pensamos que sería apropiado compartirla con usted:

(For you English speakers, the gist here is that Mexican mobs are beating up emo kids.)

Jess dijo: "On the one hand, it's not cool to persecute people for their beliefs, but on the other hand it's exterminating all the emo kids!"

El tablero de mensaje de Brooklyn Vegan dijo: "If we can only have this movement here, and include hipsters as well."

Mientras que no convengo necesariamente, es siempre un recordatorio fascinate de la energía y de la influencia que la música tiene en cultura de la juventud.

24 March 2008

Cut Copy @ Studio B, Brooklyn, NY March 15, 2008

Cut Copy put on a truly awesome live show. These guys make perfect late night dance music, combining contemporary electronica with an 80s new wave sensibility. Plus, they get extra-cute bonus points for being Australian.

Many thanks to Amy for the fantastic photos. Also check out her most recent podcast which features a track by Cut Copy and several other great artists.

Hearts On Fire - Cut Copy
Far Away - Cut Copy

22 March 2008

The Mountain Goats @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, March 19, 2008

We've written quite thoroughly about the Mountain Goats' live shows in the past (just check out June's past two posts). However their Brooklyn show was different - no, not just different -special. Because for about five brief seconds during the second encore John Darnielle reached his hands out into the audience, placed them on *MY* head and personally serenaded yours truly during "Houseguest". It was rapturous. Four days later, I'm still speaking in tongues. Check out the video evidence (you can blurrily make out the back of my head, a messy brunette ponytail), which is probably more notable for John's manically awesome dance solo towards the end. Many thanks to Bill for the video.

But that's not all that made the show stand out. JD opened with a 9 song solo set filled with more obscure songs and covers that I never thought I'd ever have the pleasure of hearing live, including "The Recognition Scene" "One Fine Day" and "Going to Port Washington". As much as I enjoy the full band set-up, there was a palpable intimacy present, which was lacking from past five times I'd seen them. And then of course Peter Hughes and Jon Wurster came out and they launched into full Heretic Pride mode. An overall outstanding show.
The Recognition Scene - the Mountain Goats (Live at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn NY March 19, 2008)
(Please note the brutally honest stage banter prior to the song.)

Going to Port Washington - the Mountain Goats (Live at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY March 19, 2008)

20 March 2008

I'm Only Sleeping

So, so exhausted. I've been to 3 concerts in the last 5 days, which basically means going to bed by 2 earliest and awake at 7:30 latest ('cause some of us have jobs that sadly do not entail blogging). Anyways lots of photos, setlists and of course songs are on there way, so look for them over the next few days. But for now I need to recuperate from the past few awesome nights and thus I'm only sleeping.

I'm Only Sleeping - Elliott Smith (Beatles cover)

17 March 2008

Everybody But Me

This is a weird little song. Sweden's Lykke Li makes the kind of minimal electro-pop music for people who feel completely estranged with scenes that generally thrive on electro-pop music. If you've ever felt alienated on the dance floor, you've lived in this song. So much girly angst. I love it.

Everybody But Me - Lykke Li

15 March 2008

She & Him

It feels almost weird listening to She & Him's Volume One on CD - it sounds like it should be an old 45, tucked away in your dad's record collection somewhere between Patsy Cline and The Carpenters and uhh every 60s girl group ever. That might be an instant turnoff to some, but it shouldn't be. Please, don't let it be.

If you read as many blogs as I do (um not something I'm sure I should be proud of), you probably know by now that She is actress Zooey Deschanel and Him is indie-alt-folkie M. Ward. And together the pronouns join forces to create one of the most charming, old-timey albums I've heard in ages. Here's why it works: Zooey's voice is so damn effortless. She can coyly sing her way out of a paper bag if you ask me. She agily traverses sunny AM pop, twangy country ballads and melancholic folk with endearing, believable ease. I sincerely hope Volume Two is in the works. Stream the whole thing here, then run to the record store March 18 and buy it.

This is Not A Test - She & Him
Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? - She & Him
Got Me - She & Him

12 March 2008

Black Lips @ Other Music, NYC 3/10/08

Prior to checking out Black Lips free in-store at Other Music I had heard very little of their music, but of the very little I had heard, I liked it a lot - or at least enough to wait on line for over 40 minutes outside on a chilly early March evening for a set that would last only half as long. Was it worth it the wait? Hells yeah!

For those unfamiliar with the band, Black Lips play fast, brash, ramshackle indie rawk. Their scrappy aesthetic is busting with energy. Just listen to "Bad Kids" with its call-and-response vocals, playful fuck-all lyrics and elastic-y bassline it's the sonic equivalent of a superball manically bouncing off the walls before erupting through the ceiling. Every song sounds equally effortless, as if crafted from the ether with agile drunken ease.

Being one of the last people in the tiny 100-person capacity venue, as well as being incredibly short, I didn't actually see much of their quickie performance. (Note the above photo of the video camera taping their set - if you squint and look at the screen you can see the band, that was essentially my view.) But boy did they sound great.

Brooklyn Vegan did nab some amazing pics though:

Bad Kids - Black Lips Off last year's Good Bad Not Evil
Not A Problem - Black Lips

11 March 2008

the Mountain Goats @ the Doug Fir in Portland, Ore. 2/25/2008

The Portland show, like the city, was both smaller and much more "laid back"/ less enthusiastic than Seattle, in my opinion. On the other hand, it was also much more intimate setting. After reading the insightful and hilarious interview with John Darnielle in the Portland Mercury, I was almost fully recovered from my break after seeing them just 48 hours earlier in Seattle and ready for another go in a new state. Excessive fangirling ahoy!

Once again, I fail at setlists (which are, as you all know, completely irrelevant to the experience anyway). Here's what I got, completely disordered:
  • You or Your Memory
  • Autoclave
  • Sax Rohmer
  • See America Right
  • Lovecraft in Brooklyn
  • This Year
  • Palmcorder Yajna
  • San Bernadino
  • New Zion
  • Love Love Love
  • Exit Portland Oregon
  • No Children
  • Houseguest

Peter is always dressed somewhere between "dapper" and "impeccable" during shows, but here he completely outdid himself. Fantastic striped suit with a new vest, eye-popping kercheif and this salmon shirt. It was bloody brilliant, I swear. Fuck the Oscars, and "Oscar fashion." Peter was the best dressed man I've seen since my husband on our wedding day.

There was more dancing. This time, I avoid all sorts of disco dances; however, I'm not sure I wold have been completely out of place at either the Grateful Dead or INXS--nor would it be unfair to draw parallels to the requisite Guy Enjoying Himself, sadly. What's mainly disappointing is that in my own living room, dancing to tMG involves much more spinning than is usually permitted at shows. (And you can forget the grande jeté.)

Someone was even awesome enough to crack out a fine bottle of hooch for the band, which was then shared around the audience. Tempting as it seemed, I was determined not to catch "the crud" which had been floating around the city that week (I did anyway).

The libations were only enough to build tolerance for the endlessly more obscure requests (not counting "No Children!" screamed between every song) until finally some guy in the back said "Anything Pre-Tallahassee!" His wish was granted with the undoubtedly local favorite Exit Portland Oregon: "Goodbye, Portland/You tried to kill me/I don't blame you, I can't blame you/I don't blame you"

There was this girl standing just to my right. She was even shorter than I am, and I'm rather short. She did not budge an inch the entire time. Even when she was being lovingly serenaded by John during Houseguest! She was just as moved during the rockingest moments of Lovecraft as during John's mini-lecture about Chaucer. It was, for lack of a better word, bizarre. I know it's "cool" for indie-emo-hipster-types to stand absolutely still at shows as a display of appreciation, but come on.

At one point, John leant down to me during "Love Love Love" and--this was really almost embarassing-- I had been singing along JUST FINE until then, but the moment his dark eyes latched onto mine... all I could do was stand there slack-jawed and brain dead. I totally blanked, right at the one moment I should really not have. Instantly mortified, I couldn't hold his gaze and I bowed my head, and he moved on. Perhaps I should be consoled, however: during one point, John himself forget the lyrics in the third verse, and a handful of us in the front row helped him out.

What happened after that is somewhat of a mystery. The second encore provided us with No Children ("If I'm gonna play this song, you are obliged to put the fuck out"). I had been long craving to belt out that unadulterated vitriol at the top of my lungs in some place besides a car, and this time backed with a few hundred others. The emotion was intense. I was feelin' it. And when I reached out my unlovable, drowning hand, I felt a POP in my right arm, just above the elbow, and intense pain.

What the fuck--I actually managed to somehow injure myself simply from pure rocking. From the best I can determine, I either sprained something or pulled a tendon; either way, for nearly a week I could not extend my right arm without considerable pain now. This, truly, was a battle scar of pure love, and one I was honored to carry.

Flattery is too weak of a term to express how I felt when Peter stopped by to say hi to me onstage. After the show however, John came out to mingle and say hi to someone who had stuck around. I was compelled. This time, I will say hi. Buuuuut, I chickened out, like always. I already was the proud recipient of two fantastic high-fives and a failed serenade of Love. (And let me tell you, there is an art and skill to high-fives. This man has them down solid and proper.) I hid behind the merch booth and said "Thank you, John," mostly to myself.

tMG - No Children (live).mp3
tMG - So Desperate (live).mp3
tMG - Heretic Pride (live).mp3

Much thanks to Brian Latta Photography for the pics. Click on 'em to go to Flickr and see more. (Please ignore the swooning girl in the sequins up front--sadly, that was me). And here's video from the show. Autoclave:

the Mountain Goats @ Neumo's in Seattle 2/23/2008

HOLY CRAP! I think I had trouble typing this because I could't see well or think too straight. You see, John Darnielle blew my mind while Peter Hughes totally melted my face. It's bound to happen when you're so close to the stage (you can see me in the yellow dress up front). I don't have a complete set list because I am terrible at them, but here are most of the songs, not in their correct order:
  • Autoclave
  • Sax Rohmer #1 (JD had to bring out lyrics)
  • Love Love Love
  • Lovecraft in Brooklyn
  • Pigs That Ran Straightaway Into The Water, Triumph Of
  • San Bernadino
  • You or Your Memory
  • New Zion
  • Michael Myers Resplendent
  • Heretic Pride
  • In the Craters of the Moon
  • Sept 15, 1985
  • You or Your Memory
  • Hast thou Considered the Tetrapod
  • Going to Georgia
  • Houseguest (Nothing Painted Blue cover)
  • Palmcorder Yajna (with Ben Gibbard!)
  • This Year

I didn't even get a single picture because I was way too busy rocking. Thankfully, many fantastic photo-bloggers were present and got some great shots. Click on the pics to go to their Flickr accounts and see more!

I danced. Feverishly. I don't think I've gotten my heart rate pumping that hard since I used to run cross-country. And that wasn't even during the show, that was when I ran into Peter before the show. My husband and I were keeping warm at a coffee shop 'round the corner waiting for the doors to open. I was outside when Peter came out. I got a chance to talk with him a bit, which was fantastic. After a while, Jon Wurster came out and I got to meet him as well. Fabulous. (I did not meet John. I am too shy.)

There were so many nice and awesome people there, like always. The best opening act tMG has is just listening to the conversations happening all around.

The show itself: while it seemed they were plagued with technical problems (same with Jeffrey Lewis & the Jitters, who opened) but honestly? It's not as noticible as it probably seems from stage. I had a feeling that Peter, John and Jon actually had the three best seats in the house. What's mind-blowing is that even if the music were only so-so, it'd still be a great show because they have such stage presence, such love for the audience give and take. But music is phenomenal! They love to give, and they rock so hard giving it!

This is what made me dance so weird and sweat so hard doing it. Stupid yellow rayon dress. My oversight is that it's so fitted that I could not raise my hands up and wave them as much as I wanted to. Probably a good thing--after John's extollation that "I don't know who sent out the memo, but you can dance to indie music! It's OK!" I sadly let loose and began to do "the hustle" to "Love Love Love." not my highest moment, for sure.

Thank god for encores. If the set had just ended when I first thought it would, I might have cried. But not one, but two encores later, I was both enthralled and exhausted. Having Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard join for Palmcorder Yajna just about made most of us lose our minds. (Seattle loves local people.) I was probably not the only one screaming like our mothers probably did for Elvis. Which makes total sense, because let's face it: John Darnielle is Elvis Prestley and he fucking knows it.

tMG - In the Craters on the Moon (live).mp3 (a much more subdued version, IMHO)
tMG - Houseguest (live).mp3
Ben Gibbard - Palmcorder Yajna.mp3

10 March 2008

The Wolves (Act I & II)

This recent video for Bon Iver's "The Wolves (Act I & II)" perfectly compliments the songs natural imagery and visceral beauty.

08 March 2008

"I just got broken up with and we weren't even dating."

Received the following email yesterday (names have been changed):
You need to work some magic. I feel like I just got broken up with, and we weren't even dating. Steve sat me down VERY nicely and wanted to clarify with me that he doesn't return the feelings I so clearly and artlessly display for him on a regular basis. I am a mess. I feel broadsided. He was WONDERFUL about it which sucks because if he was an asshole, I would be angry and bitchy and feel justified in hating him. As it is, his actions were carefully and deliberately designed to preserve our friendship, which he hopes, sincerely, will last forever.

And it probably will.

But I still feel like I just got run over by a dump truck. And I'm angry at myself because oh shit have I been here before; I'm walking in relational circles.

So, here's my request. I would like for the mix masters of VK to make for me and my stupid wounded heart a playlist with the theme, "I just got broken up with and we weren't even dating."

If you all don't have time, by all means I understand. But I think it would make for an excellent theme, and a good challenge, anyway.

We ladies here at VK know your plight and feel your pain. Here's an hour and a half of tunes we wrangled together to commiserate and help you deal, in confusion sadness and anger (or lack thereof):

Barcelona - Why Do You Have So Much Fun Without Me.mp3

The Bens - Bruised.m4a

The Beatles - I'll Follow the Sun.mp3

Beulah - Landslide Baby.mp3

Brendan Benson - Feel Like Myself.m4a

Eamon - Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back).m4a

Jude - I'm Sorry Now.mp3

Lady Sovereign - Love Me Or Hate Me.mp3

The Lucksmiths - A Hiccup in Your Happiness.m4a

The Magnetic Fields - I Thought Your Were My Boyfriend.mp3

The Magnetic Fields - The Cactus Where Your Heart Should Be.mp3

The Mayflies USA - I Was the One.m4a

of Montreal - Eros' Entropic Tundra.mp3

OK Go - It's Tough To Have A Crush When The Boy Doesn't Feel The Same Way You Do.mp3

OK Go - Get Over It.mp3

Rufus Wainwright - 14th Street.mp3

Rufus Wainwright - Danny Boy.m4a

Smashing Pumpkins - An Ode to No One.mp3

The Smiths - I Know It's Over.mp3

Sufjan Stevens - Dumb I Sound.mp3

They Might Be Giants - Snail Dust.mp3

Tori Amos - Cruel (live).mp3

Tori Amos - Over It (B's Over the Pool mix).mp3

Tori Amos - here. in my head..mp3

The Vandals - My Girlfriend's Dead.mp3

Wilco - We're Just Friends.m4a

06 March 2008

And I found this boy...

Wow, apparently it took till 2008 for me to hear the best pop song of 2007. But boy I'm glad I finally did. This might seem like a hyperbolic statement, however Maia Hirasawa's "And I Found This Boy" is truly masterful. Overflowing with brassy bombast and orchestral theatrics and lyrics that are at once vulnerable and defiant, I want to give this song a giant hug and then dance through the streets Broadway style and then drink and cry alone. It's just that overwhelming. When Maia sings "And don't say I'm desperate, I'm not!" with her Japanese-Swede pixie vocals (sort of akin to Bjork except elventy bazillion times more girly and thus awesome) you know EXACTLY what's she's feeling -the simultaneous liberation and discomfort of denial.

And I Found This Boy - Maia Hirasawa
I wish I hadn't been here before

04 March 2008

2 recent Umbrella songs!

Two recent cover/collaborations involving umbrellas, eh.
All the Umbrellas in London - Arcade Fire (Magnetic Fields cover)
This version features a graceful poignancy lacking in the original. It's hauntingly restrained, which is refreshing coming from a band that is usually anything but.

Umbrella - Rhianna and The Klaxons
The R&B princess joins forces with Britain's leading rave-rockers for a spacey take on last year's massive summer jam. All together now: Ella, ella, eh, eh. (It never gets old)

02 March 2008


Time to dance your way out of the weekend with Justice's latest video for "DVNO". Note the awesome old-school graphic:

01 March 2008

I'd like to be someone / you could finally learn to love again

You know how there are some bands where all you have to do is listen to a 30 second snippet of any of their songs and you know exactly what that band is about, like they are just that sonically and aesthetically consistent and cohesive? Well Beach House is most definitely one of those bands. Much has been said about the Baltimore-based duo's gauzy dream-pop sound. Languid shoe-gazy guitar, droning organ loops and of course Victoria Legrand's rich Nico-esque vocals make for some reliably haunting music. Their recently released sophomore album Devotion doesn't stray far from their self-titled debut. And in this case, that is most definitely a good thing.

Heart of Chambers - Beach House
Gila - Beach House