31 October 2008

happy halloween from tim fite!

I know, I know, it's been forever, I have so much to tell you about,* and will have even more after this weekend,** but for now, I'll offer up a guest blog from Danny at Rough Draft, who would like me to share with you the following:

If the playlist for your big Halloween party tonight consists entirely of Thriller and Monster Mash, you're going to want head over to http://www.timfite.com/ to grab Tim Fite's Ding Dong DITCH!!! The EP is free, Halloween-themed, and only available today. As you might expect from Tim Fite, the tracks are a pretty good mix of country and hip hop, avant-garde and humor with a Halloween theme.

Having only made it through the EP once, I'd have to point to the Old Dirty Bastard evoking 'RAW' and 'Put Some Eggs On It' as the stand outs.

Last year's It's Only Ketchup Halloween EP is also up for the day. Tim's sophomore full length Over the Counter Culture is available for free every other day of the year so if you've missed it so far, run over and grab it tomorrow when the site reverts to its non-holiday format.

* e.g., the Why? show, my new-found obsession with the Pernice Brothers.
** We're going to see the Drive-By Truckers and the Hold Steady.

30 October 2008

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart @ The Cake Shop, New York, NY 10/24/08 (CMJ)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are everything their name suggests. A cute band composed of cute boys (and a girl) who sing cute songs that make you fall in love with falling in love. They've got the jangliness of the Smiths, with a smidge of reverb, ala the Jesus and Mary Chain but with 21st century sensibilities -we are living in a world of hook-up culture and friends with bennies after all. Catching them live was definitely a highpoint of CMJ. Check out Amy's photos and then enjoy their uber-catchy (and catchily titled songs).

This Love is Fucking Right! - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Doing All the Things That Wouldn't Make Yout Parents Proud - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

28 October 2008

Cut Off Your Hands @ The Cake Shop, NY 10/24/08

Cut Off Your Hands are nowhere near as emo-sounding as their name suggests, so really you should disregard it. Rather then being bitter and mopey like their moniker suggests, these hyperactive New Zealand boys proved to be just the opposite, providing a well-needed jolt of energy into my exhausting fourth day at CMJ. For those of you who don't know, The Cake Shop is a teeny, tiny corridor of a venue. It was the perfect crowded and cramped setting for their sweaty post-punk riffage. Also the hot lead singer (that should really be his name) ran, like literaly RAN into me and about half the audience, as he jumped around like a madman through most of the set. It was epic good fun. And best of all they just signed to French Kiss which means they should have a record out in the States by early next year.

Happy as Can Be - Cut Off Your Hands

Photos courtesy Amy.

26 October 2008

The Most Unwanted Cover

OK so you all remember the Most Unwanted Song, right? The one about Yom Kippur and Wal-Mart. How could you forget it?

Well our good friend (and tMG bootlegger) Thom has taken on the challenge of recreating the world's "scientifically" proven worst song. Why?? you might ask. Well it's all for a good cause. I contributed to his autism fundraising efforts and in exchange he let me request a song, ANY SONG, for him to cover. And because I'm a sadist, I chose this one. Here is the result. You've been warned:

Thom - The Most Unwanted Song.mp3

23 October 2008

Literal video!

So you may or may not have already seen the Literal Video--in which an extremely convincing cover band sings what is actually happening in the video--for A-Ha's "Take On Me." If you haven't, you're only denying yourself hilarity, so click Here already! (Also highly recommended: The Family Guy interpretation of this video.)

The latest work by these geniuses sticks to the 80's theme with "Head Over Heels" by Tears for Fears:

...if you're wondering where this post is going, or perhaps were hoping for some snark leading up to insightful commentary about the bands, I'm sorry to disappoint, but these are stand-on-their-own for quality, music, and humor. I wonder what video they might do next. Personally, I'm hoping for "Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel!

22 October 2008

CMJ - Brooklyn Vegan Showcase @ The Music Hall of Williamsburg 10/21/08

Ah, it's that time of year again -CMJ. And you know what that means. The city is overrun with five days of marathon concert events, a bevy of industry people, wide-eyed college kids, and irresistible drink specials. We chose to kick our week off with the Brooklyn Vegan Showcase at the Music Hall of Williamsburg and spent the subsequent six hours drinking three-dollar beers while trying to find your next favorite band. Oh and I forgot my camera, which basically makes me the worst music blogger ever. Perhaps enjoy my words instead.

England's Emmy the Great kicked the night off and managed to even live up to their name, a hard task to do for a relatively sober seven o'clock opening slot. The British indie-folk pop collective, lead by singer-songwriter Emma-Lee Moss played a mellow set of lovely, lilting songs that ebbed and flowed with mandolin, violins and plenty of heartbreak. But it was Emmy's sweetly girlish voice that truly impressed us.

Next up was The Sammies, a rock band from North Carolina that reminded us a lot of the Strokes circa 2001 –unpretentious and fun. Except with Southern accents and facial hair. Despite their occasional tendencies to veer toward country jam-band territory, they probably would have been way buzzworthy half a decade ago. About halfway through their set I found myself getting antsy for the next band Shearwater, who were the recently announced special guest band of the night and wow, did they not disappoint. Lead singer ex-Okkervil River member Jonathon Meiburg's expressive, nearly operatic voice often strained to its falsetto heights and filled the venue to haunting effect, backed by a dramatic array of obscure percussion, woodwinds and strings. Gorgeous, gothic and baroque are really the only apt adjectives that come to mind when describing just how darkly beautiful their music is.

The much-hyped Ponytail was up next and could not have provided a more jarring and antithetical change of pace. The Baltimore four-piece play what some call experimental art-rock and what others more simply call noise. With their prickly riffage and intense drum banging, they get a lot of comparisons to Deerhoof, but the thing that really sets Ponytail apart, for better or worse is Molly Siegel's vocal stylings, which are unique to say the least. To call it singing would be a great injustice –monosyllabic grunting is probably a more accurate term, or just plain screaming –that works too. Also despite being an adult she looks about 14 years old, but then again so do all the members of this band. Also one of the guitarists kept hopping on one foot for the entire duration of the set, alternating legs while still playing the guitar. It was exhausting to watch, yet the indie kids went ape shit for it. While I kept feeling like I was missing something, one thing's for sure –Ponytail is the kind of band that'll either keep you young or make you feel old, very old.

I was happily surprised with the next band, Passion Pit. They were yet another extremely buzzworthy young group, the kind that CMJ-ers eagerly anticipate on their five day quest to hear the next-big-thing. But Passion Pit brought what none of the other acts of the night had brought –a beat! They played highly rhythmic electro-pop, the kind that allows even the most disaffected hipster to bob their head and tap their feet. Four hours into the night, it was nice to finally dance.

Endearing Swedish pop star Jens Lekman kept the dance floor going with his specially billed "Singing DJ" set. There was much speculation as to what a "singing DJ" set would actually entail. (Would he sing while DJing?) Turns out first he spun a set of crowd-pleasing party tunes –everything from Mariah Carey's "Fantasy" to hipster faves like Lykke Li's "Dance Dance Dance" (who was actually playing a set of her own at the Bowery Ballroom that night). And then once the crowd was wildly moving, he segued into spinning –and singing- a handful of his own songs karaoke style, thus singing AND dj-ing. Perhaps I would have preferred a bit more singing, but really Jens' very presence was enough to make me smile. He can do no wrong.

We didn't stick around to see the Phenomenal Handclap Band, as we were a little dizzy from all the dancing (not to mention 3 dollar drink specials) but we're guessing there were lots of handclaps involved.

1 day down, 4 to go.

Short Country Song - Emmy the Great
Glisten - The Sammies
Century Eyes - Shearwater
Celebrate the Body Electric (It Came From An Angel) - Ponytail
Sleepyhead - Passion Pit
Into Eternity - Jens Lekman

20 October 2008

John Vanderslice @ 92Y Tribeca, NY 10/18/08

The "nicest man in indie rock" John Vanderslice played an awesome show as part of the opening night of the brand new 92Y Tribeca, an arts, entertainment and cultural center in downtown New York. During which, the analog-obsessed, singer-songwriter did little to dispel his moniker. He enthusiastically gave home-baked cranberry almond cookies to the audience and even went so far as to hug quite literally everybody in the room (yours truly included). He also raffled off gummy vitamins (yes, such a thing exists) to whoever could answer a trivia question about your favorite political pawn/plumber, Joe.

The set also included several new tunes, including one about a Romanian orphanage that was inspired by the Olympics. Apparently the songs were the result of a very good friend who challenged Vanderslice to write 24 new songs this year. We have a sneaking suspicion that friend is John Darnielle. Though that's purely our speculation it seems exactly the kind of thing he'd do.

After he performed, Vanderslice proposed what only seemed a natural way to follow up his set of quiet, lyrically-thoughtful, acoustic songs –a dance party with an emphasis on the new Lil Wayne album. Cue the DJ! And yet the odd transition was a perfectly complete way to end the night.

Exodus Damage - John Vanderslice
White Dove - John Vanderslice

18 October 2008

Creepy Creeper

I know we've been pimping this album like whoa, but this video it so rad, especially the outer space part!

Islands -Creeper.mp3

15 October 2008

Hail! Hail!

In honor of the release of Satanic Messiah EP, The Village Voice just came out with a super list of the top 5 FREE Mountain Goats downloads. If you haven't heard any of the shows/songs on the list, then by all means listen now - no excuses, they're all FREE.

We'd also like you to pay special attention to their #2 choice:
Mountain Goats Live at Old American Can Factory on 2005-07-02

"Recorded two days before 4th of July, on a Brooklyn rooftop, you can hear the fireworks going off during a devastating string of quiet songs: "Twin Human Highway Flares," "Going to Port Washington," and "Waving at You," potentially the most unfuckwithable Mountain Goats song that exists. Both this and the above are solo sets—no coincidence."

Not only do we undeniably agree with this assessment, but we're proud to know the dude who taped the show. So here's our shout-out to our friend and tMG correspondent Thom and his mad bootlegging skills. Hi Thom! Keep up the great work!

Oh and here's the album version of that aforementioned "unfuckwithable" song:

Waving at You - the Mountain Goats

What you still haven't downloaded Satanic Messiah?!?! Technically it's free, but pay some love to the Goats and donate a little, will ya please!

13 October 2008

More like in EARWORM park

Department of Eagles' latest album "In Ear Park" is a real doozy. Dan Rossen's other band, (the non-Grizzly Bear one, don'cha know) will almost make you forget about your undying need for a follow-up to Yellow House. Almost.

Like Grizzly Bear, Department of Eagles is at once relaxing and unnerving and is probably the most autumnal album you'll hear all autumn. Its echoey strumming and shuffling percussion provides the perfect soundtrack to watching leaves turn color, wither, fall and float downstream.

Department of Eagles - No One Does It Better.mp3
Department of Eagles - Floating on the Lehigh.mp3

11 October 2008

Of Montreal @ Roseland Ballroom, NY, October 10, 2008

All you need to know about Of Montreal's current tour: Kevin Barnes rides a white horse (like a real, live horse, not some fake, prop horse) wearing nothing but gold underwear!

If you've never seen this band live, you're in for a real head trip. The glammy absurdism borders on surreal, like a Dali painting come to life. Think bizzaro costume changes, ninja actors parading around in glittery masks and more eye makeup then you or I have owned in our entire lives. Also if I hear one more teeny bopper shout "Let's go to Outback tonight!" I will break their knee caps.

Skeletal Lamping is due out later this month. If you're in the mood for a romp through sexed-up disco-funk-land you'll want to visit this album. Seriously Kevin Barnes explicitly states that he wants to make you "come 200 times a day". I listened this album only twice, but I think he succeeded.

Id Engager - Of Montreal

and a slightly older, mellower flip-side to the above scenario:
Eros' Entropic Tundra - Of Montreal

Okkervil River @ the Tralf, Buffalo, NY 10/10/2008

A Girl In Port
Singer Songwriter
A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene
The Latest Toughs
On Tour With Zykos
Blue Tulip
John Allyn Smith Sails
Pop Lie
Maine Island Lovers
Lost Coastlines
Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe >
For Real
Unless It's Kicks

Okkervil River Song

08 October 2008

Okkervil River @ Webster Hall, NY, October 7, 2008

I have been trying to see Okkervil River for years, literally years. But every attempt has been thwarted by bad scheduling, too much homework and other such lame excuses. BUT, last night compensated in every single conceivable way. And it started with a cat.
I got to the venue nearly an hour before doors opened, but this adorable black cat, lets call him Linguine (because he looks like he must be related to Spaghetti Cat), had already beaten me to being first on line. I'm assuming the cat wasn't a stray because it was immaculately groomed with a shiny, shiny coat and wasn't the least bit skittish. In fact we even cuddled and everyone assumed it was mine. We bonded. Nevermind what they say about black cats bringing bad luck, Linguine was a most auspicious start of the night. OK, OK, so now on to the actual show. IT ROCKED! Will Sheff dripped sweat and spit and being in the front row, I reveled in it. Never, never have I seen a band pour that much of themselves, quite literally on stage. AND they continued for more than two hours playing song after song after song. Howling in hysterics, so shambolically melodic!

But here's where the win comes in, the literal win. Every night on their current tour, Okkervil's raffling off a one-of-a-kind brand new song. In order to enter, all you have to do is buy a sticker (a really pretty sticker!) and all the proceeds go towards reducing carbon emissions while they tour. Great cause, great sticker, chance to win a great new song for only $2 - count me in, I'm feeling lucky!

So during the encore Will reaches into a cup and draws a number, lucky 153, and get this...I WIN. I shriek! I'm standing in the front row and jump up and down getting Will's attention. He shakes my hand and tells me to go to the merch table after the show to pick up my newly recorded song on CD. WIN!

Sooo I head back to the merch table still reeling filled with soaring music and winning awe, Kelly, their super-sweet merch lady informs me she still hasn't received the freshly recorded CD and I should just hold tight. Someone should deliver it shortly. I hang around for about 15 minutes. No CD still, so Kelly texts Will himself. By this point the merch table's beginning to get packed up and I'm getting impatient.

Then Okkervil's manager lady swings by and tells me to follow her upstairs to Webster Hall's VIP section and wait with her. Getting access to an area where I'd normally be denied is making me feel very important. Then Will himself, who might I add is THE SEX with his perfectly shaggy hair and tight, sweaty t-shirt hands me the CD and apologizes for making me wait. We hug. TWICE! (My enthusiam is akin to the that of Art Brut's "Good Weekend"). I gawk. A lot. And tell him how I've been meaning to see him forever. And I stare. I stare. A lot at his gleaming eyes and humble smile. I swear he probably thinks I'm autistic. Time to use my favorite verb: Swoon. Here's the note that Will wrote that accompanied the CD:

And as for the song, well yeah of course it's great. And all mine. But not to fear faithful readers, as soon as their tour is up I will post it for you all to hear. (or actually maybe not because the band really doesn't want this song leaking and I totally respect that) But in the meantime, try and win a copy yourself. This one's for my ears only!

But here are other great songs by Okkervil. And if you haven't already, please buy The Stand Ins. Linguine implores you!

Okkervil River - Singer-Songwriter.mp3
Okkervil River - The Latest Toughs.mp3

06 October 2008

Andrew Bird @ The State Theatre, Ithaca, NY, 10/4/2008

Andrew Motherfucking Bird!

On the left there is Katie, our intrepid Sufjan correspondent and music rumor mill, and on the right is yours truly.

Oh but wait, you wanted pictures of Andrew Bird at the show!! Well unfortunately those are going to be a bit hard to come by, as virtually all cameras were confiscated upon entrance. We did see one or two telltale flashes go off during the performance, though, so we knew someone would get SOMEthing. And someone did! There are some pics here.

This was one of only a handful of solo shows he is performing in the NE this October. Andrew used a sample-and-loop machine to layer his own pluckings, strummings, whistles and claps to full orchestral warmth. The formal seating of the old theatre made the affair an intimate one, if not without it's occasional odd moments.

For example, while waiting for the lights to come down we kept hearing what sounded like a duck in the theatre. Also, there was the "run-by shirting:" at one point between songs, some guy ran across the front of the stage and threw a shirt at Andrew and then just kept on running without looking back. Unfolded, the shirt read "Obama '08" to which Andrew dryly commented with "I approve this message." (Which is cute and all, but can we keep the politics out for once?)

Il Conformista Prelude
A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head To The Left
Natural Disaster
Fitz and the Dizzyspells ("Which sounds like the name of a Polka band")
The Water Jet Cilice
Tables and Chairs
Weather Systems

The songs you might not recognize--"Natural Disaster" and "Fitz and the Dizzyspells" are on the upcoming NEW ALBUM, "Noble Beast," which will (supposedly) be a two-disc set (one of new materials and one disc of instrumentals. Live In Montreal will be a separate album)! Needless to say, if the songs we've heard so far (these, plus "Oh No," streaming over at Pitchfork, and "Anonanimal," which has been played at recent shows) are any indication, we have every reason to anticipate the January 22 release date with impatience.


EDIT: hahaha, check out the dude in the background, whom we have erroneously dubbed "Larry." since been informed that his name is Bob! He is our new mascot. I shall now rate events and albums on a 5-point Larry Bob Scale. For example, I would have to conclude the Bird show in Ithaca was a FIVE-LARRY BOB SHOW!

Andrew Bird - Anonanimal(live).mp3
Andrew Bird - Why? (live).mp3
Andrew Bird - Skin Is, My (live).mp3

Note, these are live cuts from Millenium Park on September 9, with Andrew's full band. This was a solo show and had quite a different sound. Hooray for sneaky videotapers + YouTube! Here he is performing "Lull" at the Ithaca show:

"My favourite Daniel Johnston song was recorded on a tape deck before you were born..."

So you know how sometimes you listen to bands like Arcade Fire or The National or maybe Sufjan Stevens or Rufus Wainwright and it's just so atmospheric and breathtaking? Like all the many and varied instruments (I'll never forget how gleeful June was about the church organ on Neon Bible...) and the mingling voices all combine to create this perfect and otherworldly and beautiful moments? You hear it and your breath catches and it's just so amazing, all these elements coming together.

Jacob Golden manages to capture that epic, sweeping 'woah' moment perfectly on his 2007 album "Revenge Songs." But somehow, and don't ask me how exactly, but somehow he does it with just himself and his guitar. No orchestra, no choir, no church organ, not even a cello or a glockenspiel. And I don't even notice their absence.


Jacob Golden - Out Come The Wolves.mp3
Jacob Golden - Hold Your Hair Back.mp3
(I really, really, love this one guys. Really).

Check out his site and buy the album HERE!

03 October 2008

dying has just been made finer

Some of you might be familiar with the e.e. cummings poem "dying is fine)but Death". Some of you might be familiar with the Ra Ra Riot song "Dying is Fine" (which is inspired by the aforementioned poem). Both are lovely in their own right. The song bubbles along with plucky orchestral strings, which I guess is the sonic equivalent of insane punctuation usage and poetic line breaks.

Here is the poem:

dying is fine)but Death


wouldn't like

Death if Death

when(instead of stopping to think)you

begin to feel of it,dying
's miraculous

cause dying is

perfectly natural;perfectly
it mildly lively(but


is strictly
& artificial &

evil & legal)

we thank thee
almighty for dying
(forgive us,o life!the sin of Death

Here is the song:
Dying is Fine - Ra Ra Riot

Knob, Volume Knob.

It's curious thing. My boredom with the James Bond film series is matched only by my love of the James Bond soundtracks. Live And Let Die? Nobody Does It Better? Yes, yes, yes.

Another Way To Die is a worthy entry to the list. And not just the James Bond list, but the Jack White list as well. Mr. White spends so much time in the realms of minimalism, its an interesting change to see what he does with the big band bit. I think he pulls it off, and then some.

Another Day To Die
(a nice, high quality version). - Jack White and Alicia Keys