31 August 2008

Ebony Bones

Ebony Bones opened for Yo La Tengo at the pool last week. They kind of played the same song over and over again - yet that song sounded like a electro-soul punk M.I.A. Boy were they colorful. I'll just let the photos speak for themselves.

30 August 2008


Blip.fm... It's kind of like if Twitter and Last.fm hooked up and had a baby. It's also a very cool, quick and painless way to hear new tunes. Not to sure about the whole "props" system though. Anyway, I'm all signed in as megan_d, how about you?

29 August 2008

Besnyo - Olympic.m4a
Besnyo - Wait.m4a

28 August 2008

Everything in, and not in, its right place

Eds. Note: Today we have a very special treat for you readers and Radiohead fans: a guest blog from our friend, journalist and fellow blogger Jeremy Edwards. Here, he reports on the experience of the Radiohead show recently performed just south of Seattle, WA. This was originally published August 24th and is reprinted with gracious permission. Please check out his great Music Review blog, "Don't Fear The Reaper," at http://therecordreaper.blogspot.com. Enjoy!

I felt bad for the people on the lawn. It was Radiohead's first Seattle-area show in five years, and it had been raining for way too long. And it wasn't a brush-it-off-or-ignore-it kind of rain; it was a wind-driven, spoil-sport kind of rain. I was chilly but relatively dry in my 200-level seat of Auburn's White River Amphitheatre, but those people on the lawn were beyond the shelter of the venue's roof. Those people looked pained. Even Thom Yorke, playing hundreds of feet below, must have noticed, because he announced to the lighting technicians, "We have one request: Please, if we could see everyone on the lawn." Floodlights flashed on, illuminating a sea of bodies. The 20,000-capacity amphitheater had sold out in what seemed like only minutes back when tickets went on sale in April. Yorke looked at the sea of humanity; he looked at the people on the lawn. "I hope you're warm and dry," he said.

Radiohead Concert Poster for Seattle

It was August, but it sure didn't feel like August on Wednesday night, when Radiohead brought the masses to Auburn, nakedly out of place among the big cities on their world tour itinerary. Opening band Liars spoke to as much when lead singer Angus Andrew commented on the area's history of "Native Americans and such" in accordance with the fact that the venue was on the Muckleshoot reservation. "We want to tap into that with a little drumming and a little screaming," he said, before testing the limits of his vocal cords.

Liars played to a scattered crowd of maybe 5,000, churning out their polyrhythms and guitar spirals as large bald patches wound through the seated sections. With a 7:30 start time and Radiohead not due till more than an hour later, any band would have found it challenging to hold people's attention. Liars didn't really try. Andrew bounced up and down on the stage and, perhaps channeling the schlock-metal denizens the amphitheater is more known for, slobbered out banter that could have come from Spinal Tap: "We wanna get you warmed up"; "Wow!"; "Are you guys excited?"; "Go get your popcorn and get ready." Needless to say, it was at odds with their image as provocateurs.

When Radiohead took the stage at 9:05, after stringing together a network of chime-shaped tubes, the contrast couldn't be overstated. Yorke handled the banter, and his stance was definitely "less talk, more rock." The tubes their crew had erected refracted live video feeds of the band, throwing closeups of their expressions, arms or instruments onto giant screens. The screens to the left and right of the stage were split up into four sections, a la The Beatles' "Let It Be" album cover. The one in the center of the stage had six. As the show progressed, panels moved and footage changed hue with the lighting effects, ensuring that no matter how high up someone was sitting, there was plenty to look at. (I'd like to show you what this grand display looked like, but apparently no photographer bothered to scale the stairs to take a perspective shot.) Perhaps the most powerful convergence of visual and audio came during "Lucky," when the overhead lights burst into bright red as the band hit the chorus. It was as if their guitars flipped the switch.

Naturally, "In Rainbows" figured heavily into the set, with the band playing all of the album tracks except "House of Cards." "Reckoner" inspired a huge cheer from the audience members, but it also revealed that a large minority weren't intimately familiar with the song, thinking it was over after the bridge and applauding prematurely.

"Kid A" material took up the bulk of the rest, with twice as many songs coming from that album as the next. This cut "The Bends" out of the loop except for the keening "Street Spirit (Fade Out)," a curious decision, considering that "The Bends" is filled with traditionally structured rock songs and would have fit in well with the "In Rainbows" selections. "Hail to the Thief" also was given short shrift, but that was understandable, given Yorke's comments in interviews about not being entirely satisfied with it.

Most songs were immaculate technically but felt restrained, although Yorke loosened up somewhat after false starts on "Faust Arp." A few longed for their studio touches. "The National Anthem," for instance, really missed its squall of horns. Overall, though, the set was solid.

And Radiohead played not one, but two, encores. (The stagehand wheeling the piano out after the first encore was a good indication that another was to come.) The first featured a surprise appearance by the band's longtime producer, Nigel Godrich, introduced by the always economical Yorke: "This is Nigel. He makes our records." Godrich took up tambourine on "In Limbo." In the second encore, we learned that Yorke's favorite thing about Seattle is the way protests sprouted up during the World Trade Organization conference there in 1999. That remark kicked off "You and Whose Army?" And then, solidarity built (if it wasn't already), Yorke looked up to the people on the lawn and made his request. "No Surprises" followed, tailor-made for sing-alongs, and everybody clapped unprompted--the best kind--to the final song, "Everything in Its Right Place."

After that, however, everything got out of hand. Everyone headed for the parking lot(s), a large contingent of us toward the school buses we took on the 30-minute ride to the venue. Now, one would think that if an amphitheater sold some 20,000 tickets and if the band was environmentally conscious (like, say, Radiohead), the coordinators might want to have plenty of buses available. Instead, venue staff herded our alternative-travel army out to the plaza, then stopped us, shoulder to shoulder, in a giant logjam. Hemmed in by the concrete walls and shuttered food booths, we could only stand there, wondering what could possibly be preventing us from moving forward. Raindrops gleamed ominously on barbed wire atop the wall to my left, separating the venue from what appeared to be a trucking business.

The mood was positive; it would take a lot to dim the post-concert glow. A few folks tossed around an inflatable shark, giving it the beachball treatment. Still, as 10 minutes stretched into 20 and 20 stretched into 40, people began to grumble. They were tired. They were hungry. They were thirsty. They were wet. They were cold. With the show on a weeknight, many had to be up by 7 a.m. or earlier for work. Some enterprising souls decided to cut through the trucking business, aiming to hop a fence, but supervisors turned them back. One fellow in front of me braced two friends, hobbled by a leg or foot injury. "Freeeeeedommmmmmmmm!" he cried in mock exasperation. And so it was that I became who I pitied, one of the people on the lawn, soaked and cold. Except we all were on blacktop now.

An hour went by. The nearest parking lot had emptied. It began rain harder. Two people in uniform made their way through the crowd. "There's really not a lot going on up there," one said, informing the questioners. "They're just standing around, waiting for the buses." Clearly, each bus was making several round-trips, burning up fuel at its 6-miles-per-gallon rate. How was this better for the environment than simply carpooling? Surely, Radiohead, whose merch booths had trumpeted "you can make a difference" in regard to $40 T-shirts made from reclaimed plastic bottles, would be aghast.

At the 75-minute mark, I squeezed onto a bus, 3,000 people, or possibly 4,000, still stranded. Directing people to the buses, a testy traffic guard instructed the driver, "It's a charter; they can stand."

15 Step
There There
All I Need
Pyramid Song
Talk Show Host
The National Anthem
The Gloaming
Faust Arp
Jigsaw Falling Into Place
Climbing Up the Walls
Dollars & Cents
How to Disappear Completely
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
In Limbo
Street Spirit (Fade Out)
[Second encore]
You and Whose Army?
No Surprises
Everything in Its Right Place

Radiohead - Nude (live).mp3
Radiohead - Reckoner (live).mp3

27 August 2008

But, like, he sounds like a girl?

Jeff Hanson: Madam Owl

Jeff Hanson’s latest album is soft and melodic, but filled with sharp contrast. Which, I guess, it’s a contrast in itself. Twisting, lilting violin refrains sliced by sharp, harsh string sounds. An Eastern European atmosphere, of caravans traveling through dense woods, shattered by januty banjos. And his voice. Soft and high and sweet like a girl’s, but with an unbending vein of bravado filled masculinity running through its core.

Listening to ‘Madam Owl’ you can never relax. It’s ‘Bon Iver-ish’ vibe might try and lull you, but that sense of conflict is too strong. And it’s not a bad thing. It’s like those early photographs, of the stiff backed people in stiff clothes with stiff faces. They’re vaguely unsettling, but damn if they don’t have something that modern snapshots lack.

Jeff Hanson - Night.mp3
Jeff Hanson - If Only I Knew.mp3

26 August 2008

September's coming soon

Come this time of year every year, My mind falls heavily on this song. So many years ago, a former lover said this song made him think of the Catskills in late summer, when the nights can be muggy or chilly, when the leaves are just starting to turn. Small creeks and low waterfalls, trickling through backyards, the occasional rope swing, begging to be used.

Michael Stipe had a different vision when he wrote the song, however: about sneaking into a hotel pool in Los Angeles and going skinny dipping. "The fear of getting caught." Either way, this gorgeous piano piece is a jewel in the album Automatic For the People.

For the love of this song in its purity, here it is, plus a few covers:

R.E.M. - Nightswimming.mp3

Coldplay - Nightswimming (with Michael Stipe).mp3

Dashboard Confessional - Nightswimming (R.E.M. cover).mp3

Gene - Nightswimming (R.E.M. cover).mp3

The Wrens - Nightswimming (R.E.M. cover).mp3

You Say Party! We Say Die! - Nightswimming (R.E.M. cover).mp3

Nightswimming (kissy sell out bmore re-edit).mp3

25 August 2008

Yo La Tengo @ McCarren Park Pool, August 24, 2008

This weekend marked the last free concert of the summer (and possibly ever) at McCarren Park Pool. A triple bill headed by indie mainstays Yo La Tengo (the most redeeming group to come out of New Jersey since, um…ever) proved a perfectly rocking way to bring the season to an end.

Thousands gathered to hear the trio of Ira, James and Georgia play a nearly seamless set, eclectically segueing from epic 10-minute jams to mellow acoustic fare to sunshine and-rainbow pop (complete with brass backing band!). This is a band that’s maybe older than half the audience’s parents and yet they play with more energy, vitality, and not to mention relevance of bands half their age. They could definitely teach the young'uns a thing or two about rocking out. As their album title insists, they are not afraid of you and they will beat your ass, indeed!

Titus Andronicus and Ebony Bones opened (look for subsequent posts on them) while fans filled up the usual dodgeball courts and piled on to the slip ‘n slide between sets marking the end of a sweet and short-lived era.
For those unfamiliar with the venue, McCarren Park Pool is a long-since abandoned watering hole built during the Great Depression in 1936, waaaaay before the advent of indie rock. However, over the past three years, the empty pool has served as home to some of New York's largest concerts during the year’s sunny months, many of them free as part of Jelly NYC’s pool party series. But looks like water, not music will be filling the pool in coming years, with discussion of reconstruction and a $50 million overhaul in the works for next year. The future of the venue is in jeopardy, and will almost certainly to come to an end.

All this sadness begs one question: where will all the hipsters play dodgeball now?

Mr. Tough - Yo La Tengo
Stockholm Syndrome - Yo La Tengo

21 August 2008

Channeling Roger Painter* for this post

Gary, I know you're not reading this, so what's the point of keeping a blog if you're not going to see it? So I can say anything I want to. For example, the RIAA can blow my ass for taking Muxtape away from me, even if it's only temporary.

Thankfully I already snuck into the nurse's station and dug up a fair replacement in the meantime: http://8tracks.com/

It works much the same way, except uses are limited to eight tracks (get it?) or fewer, instead of Muxtape's 12. YOU HEAR THAT GARY! YOU ARE MAKING ME SETTLE FOR LESS DUE TO YOUR STUPID COPYRIGHT LAWS WHICH EVERYONE HATES.

To help smoooooove out your bumpy transition, here're a few songs ABOUT mixes to inspire:

Ted Pauly - Your Mix Tape Broke.mp3
Los Campesinos! - It Started With a Mixx.mp3
Avenue Q (Original Broadway Cast) - Mix Tape.mp3
Butane Variations - Mix Tape Honey.mp3
The Brand New - Mix Tape.mp3
Art Brut - Nag Nag Nag Nag.mp3
A record collection reduced to a mix tape, headphones on I made my escape...

And in the meantime, a few choice words directed to the RIAA itself:

*For more of Roger's thoughts, please buy and read Master of Reality by John Darnielle.

19 August 2008

The bears are back in town

...and look what they're singing this time!

"This ALMOST tops Love in the Club." -Jess

You SHOULD have this song by now, but if you don't... *beats you over the head with a wiffle bat* buy the freaking album already, you freeloaders. IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.

Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels).mp3

17 August 2008

I'm only 23 yet the sentiment rings true.

Aimee Mann writes the most rational songs. Her thought processes are so logical, yet poignant. She writes the way you wish you could think when you're too busy being a mopey wreck. "Thirty One Today", off the wonderfully titled @#%&*! Smilers is the kind anthem that is sadly all too relatable:

Called some guy I knew
Had a drink or two
And we fumbled as the day grew dark
I pretended that I felt a spark

I thought my life would be different somehow
I thought my life would be better by now
But it's not and I don't know where to turn

Thirty One Today - Aimee Mann

16 August 2008

Free + Covers = Awesome

I love cover albums. I also love free stuff. So combine the two and I'm ultra happy. Needless to say, indie-poppers the Morning Benders have really made my weekend as their Bedroom Covers album is available for free download. It's complete with reinterpretations of classics by the Smiths, Velvet Underground, Roy Orbison and more.

Here's my fave track:

I Won't Share You - The Morning Benders (The Smiths cover)

13 August 2008

Touch This!

STOP. MC Hammer is on twitter! I keep wanting his every post to end in "IT'S HAMMER TIME!", but alas turns out it's just as banal as yours, but hey it's still pretty wacky. Oh and while you're off stalking baggily panted 90s rappers, you might as well follow your favorite bloggers too.

Whoa Oh Oh:

11 August 2008

Sometimes titles say it all...

...And Okkervil River said it best with this one.

Calling and Not Calling My Ex - Okkervil River

We'll have a more in-depth review of The Stand-Ins (It's the yang to The Stage Names yin) closer to its release next month. Because right now we're still too busy marveling at said track's titular dilemma.

Oh and here's bonus video of an acoustic rendition of "Lost Coastlines" via the Norwegian Broadcasting System (off all places, heh!)

09 August 2008

Music Go Music, Go Listen!!!

How am I supposed to believe this band isn't from Sweden? Really, they're from LA?? How is that possible? Because "Light of Love" might just be the most perfect pop concoction since uhh anything released by Abba. And I mean that in the best possible way. Really, I've spent way too much time justifying my love of Abba. And even if you disagree with the tastes of yours truly, you should still check out Music Go Music because they've crafted the most infectious thing since SARS. But instead of carrying disease, I come bearing an earworm, that I simply must thrust upon you!

Light of Love - Music Go Music

06 August 2008

Yet another song about Paper Planes...

Everyone's favorite 20+ member, geographically confused Swedish pop collective (ok, so the ONLY 20+ member, geographically confused Swedish pop collective) are about to release a new single off their upcoming sophomore album Who Killed Harry Houdini? out October 14th. Well we got the preview. The song's called "Paper Planes" and, get this, it's NOT an M.I.A. cover. Given that this is a band that sings about treehouses, chicken pox and stamp collecting, the subject matter shouldn't surprise you. And while it might not have gunshots for its chorus, it does have a clarinet solo and lots of shiny, happy Swedish people singing about the joys of "throwing paper planes to clear your head".

Paper Planes - I'm From Barcelona

Oh and what the heck, sure you've all heard it before but it's JUST THAT DAMN GOOD:
Paper Planes - M.I.A.

03 August 2008

NEW Wilco

Believe it or not some bloggers (cough*us*cough) didn't make it to Lollapalooza this weekend. BUT those who were lucky enough to be at the festival got treated to an all new Wilco song. Check it out.(Via You Ain't No Picasso)

One Wing - Wilco

01 August 2008

Bon Iver @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 7/30/08

You wouldn't expect an album as stark and intimate as "For Emma, Forever Ago" to sound so intense and downright rockin' in the live context. But that's exactly how it translated. Justin Vernon's voice is often described as soulful, and rightfully so. However there's something even more powerful to it - a full-bodied intensity that quite literally enveloped the room. That's to say nothing of the pounding, thunderous percussion and electric guitar. If I had synesthesia I bet I would have seen a thick purple fog clouding the entire venue, maybe I could of felt it too. The sound was that palpable.

It's weird to think that such striking songs written in solitude in the Wisconsin woods, were now resounding among a sold-out crowd of 500+. When he asked the crowd to sing along with Part II of The Wolves ("what might have been lost") it was downright poignant. In essence they became all of ours.

The Wolves (Act I and II) - Bon Iver