29 April 2008

Paul Simon etc. @ BAM 4/26/08

I'm not exactly sure how I ended up front row, dead center (I'm talking first row, people) in a gorgeous Opera house at a Paul Simon (and all his musical friends!) concert Saturday night. But thanks to serendipitous circumstances and a very generous friend I did. Hate to sound gratuitous, but man it was awesome. Basically the show, part of a month long Simon-based events at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), consisted of mini tribute sets in which an eclectic bunch assortment of artists (Grizzly Bear, The Rouches, Gillian Welch, Josh Groban, Olu Dara, Amos Lee) played their Simon favorites, followed by a lengthy set by the dude himself. All I have to say is Grizzly Bear covered "Graceland" and "Mother and Child Reunion," doing what they do best--eloooongating the melodies to their wispy core and drenching them in eerie harmonies. Spooky.

But the spookier, weirdest, maybe just kinda surreal thing was watching GB's Ed Droste stand off-stage and watch Josh Groban duet with Paul on "Bridge Over Troubled Water." I don't know why it weired me out, but it did. I guess I just don't associate heavily commercialized, adult contemporary wunderkinds performing on the same stage, just mere seconds after my favorite psych-folk groups, you know? And to have them actively watching each other maybe made my head explode a little.

Speaking of surreal, it's ALWAYS a bit surreal hearing songs older then you being performed by the person who actually wrote them, like WHOA, "Mrs. Robinson?!" DOUBLE WHOA, "The Sound of Silence?!" I'm not sure I'm old enough to be allowed to be participating in this kind of nostalgia. But, hey, it sure sounded great.

P.S. - I refrained from taking photos during the actual sets, because photography was techincally against the rules and I didn't want to get kicked out of a fancy-schmancey opera house. But that didn't stop me from snapping some pics during the final bows, heh.

Grizzly Bear - Graceland (Paul Simon cover).mp3

I am writing from the heart

Despite Sufjan Stevens' recent hibernating activity, he remains as popular as ever. After we got slammed by hits and requests for re-uploads from the most recent Sufjan post-o'-rarities, we decided to give up a second helping of everyone's favorite winged multi-instrumentalist.

Here, soundboard recordings from some really fantastic short shows that have slipped under a lot of radars plus a handful of other too-great-to-be-this-hard-to-find rarities. The Austin City Limits show first aired November 2006 and offers rollicking, boisterous joy in full orhestral glory. The PENultimate Lit show is a solo show with Sufjan on piano for the first two songs and banjo for the last.

Enjoy, and if you find these after links have expired, remember that we are always happy to re-upload songs for you. Just drop us a note in the comments or email us at volume.knob at hotmail dot com (we know you're out there, robots!).

From Austin City Limits:

From the PENultimate Lit Event:

Sufjan Stevens - Many Guides.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - Borderline (vinyl version).mp3
Sufjan Stevens - Damascus.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - The Star Spangled Banner.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - Jupiter Bad June.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - Opie's Funeral Song.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - How Can The Stone Remain.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - The 50 States Song.mp3

This isn't a complete list of B-sides. At the risk of being overwhelming, I'll post the last of what's out there far as non-album Michigan B-sides and numerous covers go at a later date. If you're looking for a certain song in particular, I can upload that for you too; just let me know.

26 April 2008

8 Bands to Watch and the one we're watching

New York alt-weekly The L Magazine has just come out with the third annual list of 8 bands to hear for the year to come. These guys' predictions are notoriously effing good, or at the very least, startlingly accurate. (cough *2007 pick Vampire Weekend* cough). Thanks L, for being the hip older brother I never had--yet with none of the sibling abuse in the backseat. I haven't had a chance to check out all of this year's chosen groups yet, but I'm definitely taking the raving reviews to heart.

I will offer you two tracks though, from the one group I've actually heard of. This is Ivy League might have you rolling your eyes from the name alone, as you sigh "what is up with all the preppies taking over indie rock (cough again *Vampire Weekend* cough)? What, I'm not in middle school anymore and can't derogatorily use the term "preppies" anymore? Damn. But really, they are not what you are thinking. Think Simon & Garfunkel meets Belle & Sebastian, with a little breezy bossa nova twist. And "The Richest Kids" (yet another frustratingly misleading name!) exemplifies all these strengths, PLUS there are hand claps. Positively dreamy.

The Richest Kids - This Is Ivy League
London Bridges - This Is Ivy League

23 April 2008

Still better than Sanjaya

Our art correspondent Miranda pointed me to this lovely entry at boingboing.net about the "scientifically" created World's Worst Song. Here's a description of what you can expect:
The most unwanted music is over 25 minutes long, veers wildly between loud and quiet sections, between fast and slow tempos, and features timbres of extremely high and low pitch, with each dichotomy presented in abrupt transition. The most unwanted orchestra was determined to be large, and features the accordion and bagpipe (which tie at 13% as the most unwanted instrument), banjo, flute, tuba, harp, organ, synthesizer (the only instrument that appears in both the most wanted and most unwanted ensembles). An operatic soprano raps and sings atonal music, advertising jingles, political slogans, and "elevator" music, and a children's choir sings jingles and holiday songs. The most unwanted subjects for lyrics are cowboys and holidays, and the most unwanted listening circumstances are involuntary exposure to commercials and elevator music. Therefore, it can be shown that if there is no covariance--someone who dislikes bagpipes is as likely to hate elevator music as someone who despises the organ, for example--fewer than 200 individuals of the world's total population would enjoy this piece.

Some actual lyrics:
Yom Kippur! Yom Kippur!

Self-Reflection and atonement!

Yom Kippur! Yom Kippur!

Do all your shopping... at Wal-Mart!

While some have noted that it sounds like They Might Be Giants and others claim that it's "not as horrible as anything by the Red Hot Chili Peppers" (ouch!) I can unironically appreciate the complexity here. It truly is a work of art. That being said, I don't see myself "rocking out" to this on a regular basis after my second listen. (Sure, it's cute now, but in four hours when you catch yourself humming "Labor Day! Labor Day! Do all your shopping... at Wal-Mart!" you will want to start punching children.)

If you're truly demented and enjoy making enemies, it's also available on iTunes... and modifible as a ringtone.

You've been warned.

Komar & Melamid and Dave Soldier - The Most Unwanted Song.mp3

22 April 2008

Grizzly Bear wait for the others (while we wait for them to follow-up Yellow House).

I love it when progressive psych-folk-rock bands play brand spanking new material on late-night network TV shows. "While You Wait For the Others" provides quite the tease as to how the hell Grizzly Bear are gonna follow up "Yellow House." They're kind of the aural equivalent of codeine: soothing, senses-slowing, deeply intoxicating and dangerously addictive.

Grizzly Bear - While You Wait for the Others (Live on KCRW).mp3

21 April 2008

Home is where I want to be....

I'm really, really loving this cover of The Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)." When you think about it, it's kind of a hard song to screw up, but there is something about the sparse, acoustic-ness of this version that makes the sentiment ring even truer. Or perhaps it just me and the fact I just played it seven times in a row.

Gunnar Madsen - This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) (Talking Heads cover).mp3

20 April 2008

It's a you and me house

Just got back from vacation, but while in Washington I saw an actual treehouse on the Evergreen campus. Just marvel at its awesomeness while you listen to these songs:

I'm From Barcelona - Treehouse.m4a
The Fiery Furnaces - Evergreen.m4a

17 April 2008

The Emerald City, Pt. II: From Seattle

Yesterday I posted some songs all about Seattle, and many of those artists are also from the area as well (Nirvana, MxPx, Sir Mix-a-Lot). At the risk of being redundant, here's a few more songs from them, plus a ton from other local natives. Some you might know, some might be unfamiliar. Some are classic grunge, others are hip-hop, riot grrrrl, 70's rock, indie or folk, but they all run on the same theme: SEATTLE ROCKS!!

(What can I say? This city desperately needs the ego lift: by some counts it has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.)

Nirvana - Come As You Are (live).mp3

Pearl Jam - Hunger Strike (live feat. Corin Tucker).mp3

The Presidents of the United States of America - Volcano.mp3

Heart - Crazy On You.mp3

Foo Fighters - Everlong (live)mp3

Sir Mix-a-Lot - Buttermilk Biscuits.mp3

Death Cab for Cutie - Why You'd Want to Live Here.mp3

Minus the Bear - Pachuca Sunrise.mp3

Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out.mp3

Mudhoney - The Straight Life.mp3

The Blood Brothers - Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck.mp3

Blue Scholars - Blink.mp3

Soundgarden - Black Hole Sun.mp3

MxPx - I'm OK, You're OK.mp3

Hole - Miss World.mp3

Candlebox - You.mp3

The Long Winters - Blue Diamonds.mp3

Jimi Hendrix - Little Wing.mp3

15 April 2008

The Emerald City, Pt. I: About Seattle

In honor of Jess' first-ever visit to the left west coast, I offer up some of the choices tracks about the jewel of the pacific. Sadly, some much-needed key songs about Seattle are missing (by Anti-Flag or Jeffrey Lewis, for example), so if any of you have these, feel free to share the love. Songs about Seattle (and her neighbors):

Nirvana - Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle.mp3

Todd Snider - Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues.mp3

Sir Mix-a-Lot - Seattle Ain't Bullshittin.mp3

See You In Seattle.mp3 (Theme to 1964 World's Fair)

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Seattle Wash.mp3

The Hot Toddies - Seattle.mp3

Jakobinarina - Sleeping in Seattle.mp3

Spacels - The New Seattle.mp3

Cop Shoot Cop - Seattle.mp3

Bobby Sherman - Seattle.mp3

Cameo Dance Orchestra - That Tacoma Home Of Mine.mp3

MxPx - Move to Bremerton.mp3

Andrew Bird - Goth Olympians.mp3

Tumwater High School Girls' Choir - Washington My Home.mp3 (State Song of Washington)

Say Hi - Northwest Girls.mp3

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part II: Songs by bands from Seattle!

13 April 2008

Indie-rocking the vote

Just a quick link. A quick, confusing link:

Tunes Shape the Campaign via (Ugh) Fox News

Sure all these playlists are all silly and speculative, but does anyone else find this kind of weird and borderline disturbing? I have no desire to associate Justice with Hilary Clinton, Arcade Fire with McCain and Hot Chip with Obama (although he is totally ready for the floor...of the White House that is.) Personal politics aside, I think we can all agree that hip song selections should never sway the vote.

Hot Chip - Ready For the Floor (Soulwax Dub).mp3

11 April 2008

We're One!

So This is What The Volume Knob Is For started exactly one year ago today. Despite binges of excitable over-posting and droughts of neglect, we'd call this venture a success, more or less. So while fellow blogger Jess is jet-lagged and sleepin' it off on my couch, we offer you this song in celebtration:

Sprites - I Started A Blog Nobody Read.mp3

10 April 2008

Time to get away!

I am going on vacation. In just a few splendid hours I will be on a flight to Seattle, off to visit blog-mate June. In celebration I offer you this song. It'll have me dancing all the way to the aiport (or at the very least keep me awake for my 8 AM (eeks!) flight.

Time to Get Away - LCD Soundsystem

All Sufjan Stevens, All The Time

Some kindly folks dropped by recently to request fresh uploads of two Sufjan rarities off Seven Swans (vinyl version). Instead of having to go digging, here they are, plus a handful of other awesome rare stuff, because they just need to be out there. Enjoy!

Sufjan Stevens - Waste of What Your Kids Won't Have.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - I Went Dancing With My Sister.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - All Delighted People.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - Far Physician's Son.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - Woman at the Well.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - The First Full Moon.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - I Can't Even Lift My Head.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - God'll Ne'er Let You Down.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - Bushwick Junkie.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - Jacob.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - Chicago (solo banjo demo).mp3

08 April 2008

It's the devil's music.

Since this is a blog named after a Mountain Goats song, we're essentially obligated to blog about bands named after Mountain Goat songs. Especially when said bands winkingly reference tMG songs in their own songs. This leads us to "The Devil's Music" by The Hospital Bombers, a nearly inevitable, tongue-in-cheek nod to tMG's "The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton." Suffice it to say, this is one fun, albeit silly song. It's jaunty and upbeat, features cutesy boy-girl vocals and is pretty much the opposite of anything Jeff and Cyrus would approve of. It's OK. We'll still thank and forgive them.
The Hospital Bombers - The Devil's Music.mp3
the Mountain Goats - The Best Ever Death Metal in Denton.mp3

06 April 2008

Jens Lekman @ Webster Hall, NYC & Brooklyn House Party, April 5, 2008

I'm not even supposed to be writing about this show. Before he burst into the evening's first song, Jens said he wanted the night to go undocumented. A show just between us and him. Not the internet. But sometimes secrets are too good not to share and last night was one of them.

Of course the show itself was as adorable as always. My third time seeing him and I still never tire of the witty banter, seamlessly woven samples and his impeccable girly backing band (plus Viktor Sjoberg). But then things got better. At some point during the encore Jens announced he was having a house party in Brooklyn. We were all invited. Now if you were at Jens last NYC show, you'll remember he promised to play an after show gig in Union Square, but got lost in Halloween weekend traffic and thus never made it to the park. He profusely apologized about the incident via personal email correspondence (!!! - just another reason we love Jens, he's a rock star that responds to emails) and a party it seemed would be ample compensation. Nothing would stand in his way. We hung around the venue a bit waiting for a glimpse of Jens and some details of this supposed shindig -until evil Webster Hall security guards kicked us out. Undeterred, we clung to the outside exit, amongst a mob of others until he came out. Excuse my fan-girl gushing, but what a friendly guy, so modest, so unpretentious. So willing to snap photos and autographs and just casually chat. One of my friends inquired about the Brooklyn party. Jens told us to take the Q to Beverly Road. "Uhh, and then where do we go?" I asked. "Someone will pick you up from the stop at midnight," he replied. Uh, ok. This would sound so incredibly sketchy coming from ANY other individual, right? But Jens made the request sound downright innocent, nearly magical, like an invite to a middle school dance from that boy you had a crush on forever, but you swore he never even noticed you existed. For the record my two friends and I have absolutely no sense of Brooklyn geography, but what the hell, we'll venture deep into an unknown borough for the potential awesomeness of a Swedish pop star after party.
We do it. We actually get there. Along with about 30 people. A gaggle of us just waiting outside the station. Every time a car passes by our heads turns. We collectively stop traffic about 17 times. Finally some Swedish speaking people come by. They tell us to follow. We walk down the block and arrive at a house. A bona fide house. There are houses in Brooklyn apparently. And here we are in some dude's living room listening to a highly danceable mix of synthey 80s pop, 70s funk and maybe a dash of old-school hip-hop. About an hour later Jens grabs the mic and sings "Your Beat Kicks Back Like Death" and "Into Eternity". Chanting along to "we're all gonna die, and we don't know how and we don't know when" at 1:30 in the morning is maybe the most liberating feeling in the world. After a downright shitty week, there is comfort in that universal sentiment. We are all gonna die, so we might as well embrace it and we might as well dance. And that's exactly what we did.

P.S. - I found an actual postcard sent by Jens on the bulletin board in the kitchen. To Gary, not Nina. But I found it amusing. Take a look (and also note the Kelly Clarkson ticket stub directly underneath, haha):

Your Beat Kicks Back Like Death - Jens Lekman (Scout Niblett cover)

04 April 2008

Santogold - L.E.S. Artistes

I've been meaning to post this video forever. Visually, it's way trippy, like just what exactly is coming out of all those bodies?? Why, green, slime-like fluid and purple smoke of course! Duh. But even if you were being arrested with surrealist equestrian and watermelon-smashing imagery, you'd still be hooked by Santogold's catchy electro-pop meets MIA aesthetic. Check out her self-titled debut out April 29th.

03 April 2008

Dance Music Pt. II: Indie-remix version

...because, deep down, hipsters really do like to dance. (At least in their living rooms when they think no one is watching).

Vampire Weekend - Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (Black Dominoes Remix).mp3
Take some Graceland-inspired Afro-Carribean beats, add 4 years at Columbia University and a heavy dose of Upper Crust "Summer in the Hamptons, anyone?"... and then remix. Go buy Vampire Weekend first, though.

Patrick Wolf - Tristan.mp3 from Wind In The Wires
With heavy, plodding beats, this bruised-n-bleedin' cut is the ultimate in darkly sexy, brooding indie-fucks to go "down the road and not across the street" to. Recommended for that hot, dirty rough sex with your favourite indie boi.

Sufjan Stevens - To Be Alone With You (Pocketknife's Considerate Eagle Scout Remix).mp3 from Tambourine Dream
This soft fluffy DOWN-tempo song originally comes off Sufjan's very mellow album Seven Swans. (Get it? It's a pun, with "down" and "swans"... oh, never mind.) This is probably the last song I would ever expect to hear remixed, but it works incredibly well with a strong backbone beat, and some flourishes near the end that emphasize the minor chords.

The Cure - Close To Me (Closer Remix).mp3 from Mixed Up
This remix album covers most off the songs of one of the best albums ever, Disintegration, plus several other much-loved classics. For that angsty high school kid inside all of us, who was never understood! A change of tempo: this lighthearted, bouncy and up-tempo beat hits nicely with bright tambourine and light bells.

Le Tigre - After Dark (Morel's Pink Noise Vocal Mix).mp3 from This Island Remixes
A complex Jungle beat remix, richly layered with multi-textured beats and sophisticated synthesizer.

Future Bible Heroes - The World Is a Disco Ball (Rob Rives club mix).mp3 from The Lonely Robot EP
I used to work it out to this during my days as a campus foodservice slop-jockey, in college. This 8+ minute loop of thumping beats shows a side of Stephin Merritt that's less plucked acoustics and more computers. A good club mix for those nights when you just wanna dance, dance, dance.

Tori Amos - Raspberry Swirl (Lip Gloss Version).mp3 from Cruel
If any of these folks know dance, it's Tori. Frequently lending her tracks to entire LPs of remixed tracks, these club mixes are second-to-none. But going back to the roots, a really simple, clean remix of this track off From the Choirgirl Hotel highlights the late 90's best works.

Mirah - La Familia (Remix).mp3 from Joyride: Remixes
It's very important, when putting this song on a mix tape for someone (or even a muxtape), that you emphasize that the question posed in the chorus is a PONDERANCE ONLY and NOT a proposition... unless that is what you really mean. Hmmm, this could get complicated. The really light, tingly beats sounds familiar from "Cold Cold Water, but now perfected for dancing, and the chorus in the background is more straightforward, altered in a minor chord that taken on a more serious--rather than playful--sound.

Cut Copy - Hearts on Fire.mp3 from In Ghost Colours
So 80s! So dancey! So addictive! Not at all what you might expect from a contemporary Australian group, known for somehow recreating each song live onstage, each time resulting in a new but fabulous sound. I don;t know why this track isn't as well-known as some of their others; it blows them away. Put it on a loop and watch yourself plow through a mountain of paperwork or household chores.

Caribou - Pelican Narrows.mp3 from The Milk of Human Kindness
Not a remix; just a fantastic original cut off their super album. The dynamic interaction of the sounds are undeniably classically-based.

LCD Soundsystem - Daft Punk Is Playing At My House (Soulwax Shibuya Re-Remix).mp3 from www.electrorash.com
A club remix to keep the party going. Complete with the background white noise of people chattering, bottles being recycled (because, you know, if you're playing either Daft Punk or LCD Soundsystem at a house party, you're probably recycling). This remix offers synthesizers, bells, electric guitar and all kinds of crazy shit with a hi-hat (and a suped-up tempo!) White people, get it on.

Annie - Heartbeat.mp3 from Anniemal
A sweet song of the bubblegum variety but with a perfect beat for a cool night.

ABX - The Trees Were Presidential (Andrew Bird vs. Youngbloodz).mp3 from thehoodinternet.com
Yeah, I realize a mash-up might be cheating, but it's just too awesome. Based on Andrew Bird's "The Trees Were Mistaken" off of the Soldier On EP. It gets the heavy treatment with some gangstas. The light and tinkly strings which flow and bounce intertwine beautifully with a hard rap beat and these down-n-dirty lyrics. Even Bird's sweet whistling is sampled here, from this track and also from "A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left." Fantastic!

the Mountain Goats - Color in Your Cheeks (Mike's Remix).mp3
A spacey, dizzying remix based off this song from All Hail West Texas. It retains the distant feel and the tape hiss of the boom-box recording while adding some "2001: A Space Odyssey"-type beats and sound effects.

Jens Lekman - Sipping on the Sweet Nectar.mp3 from Night Falls Over Kortedala
Great song, boring video. The super 70's disco feel here, however, should keep you on your feet for some time.

Peter Bjorn & John - Young Folks (Datassette Remix).mp3
Based off the insanely popular (and rightfully so!) cut from 2006's Writer's Block, you probably won't recognize this song for the first few seconds, as the heavy, block-y ticks count off a surreal, futuristic beat. The whistling is replaced here with some super staccato synthesizers, and the chorus is amped up with slick, smooth sound effects that make the verses seem minimalist by comparison.

Soho Dolls - Prince Harry.mp3 from Ribbed Music for the Numb Generation
Initially minimalist in the verses and polished in the choruses the exceedingly bouncy beat, ultra British-ness and cheeky lyrics beg to be used as a girls' night out theme. Sing along: Save up all your USDs for British universities! This song is way too short for how much fun it is.

Interpol - Public Pervert (Carlos D Remix).mp3 from C'mere
A slow one to finish up the night with. Spoon, baby, starry nights.

02 April 2008

Best. Song. Title. Ever.

Los Campesinos!

I think Los Campesinos! just put Sufjan's entire "Illinois" track lisiting to shame with this awesomely ridiculous song title:

Los Campesinos! - This is How You Spell "HAHAHA, We Destroyed the Dreams of a Generation of Faux-Romantics".m4a

P.S. - Los Campesinos! debut full length album "Hold On Now Youngster..." was finally released in the US this week. Can I just remind you how much I really, really love this band?