30 April 2009

Between these guys and Phoenix, this is gonna be the poppiest Summer ever!

We raved about them way back in October during their CMJ performance and now Passion Pit are finally set to release their debut album Manners in May. And from what we've heard, man is it a doozy. "Moth's Wings" exemplifies why I love this band. Insanely catchy and accessible melodies crafted from intricate layers of electronic synths and jangly percussion. Sweet and blended to perfection, just like a milkshake. Drink up!

Moth's Wings - Passion Pit

28 April 2009

No, really you guys...

The new Wilco album is titled ...get this Wilco (The Album)! What will that creative Jeff Tweedy & Co. think of next?

Oh, I know.

Wilco The Song - Wilco (as played on the Colbert Report

Can't wait till it's officially released in June!

27 April 2009

The lemons, they dance!

The video for "When Life Gives Me Lemons, I Make Lemonade" is so adorable, it makes my ovaries weep. Honestly there is nothing cuter then dancing fruit and a sky full of rainbows and pinwheels. You've got to hand it to the Boy Least Likely To for crafting this twee masterpiece, not to mention one of the best albums of the year.

Did I mention they covered a song from Grease AND made me like it???

The One that I Want - The Boy Least Likely To (Grease cover)

24 April 2009

NEW old Sufjan!

Oh how Sufjan keeps us pining for new material. He better get cracking on those other 48 states, dude! But in the meantime, we'll take whatever scraps he throws our way. In today's case: a demo from back in the day. A short sweet song that's an ode to um, Sofia Coppola. Check out the story behind it here

Listen to it too:

Sofia's Song - Sufjan Stevens

23 April 2009

and I'm pretty sure they opened for jarvis cocker at some point...

Thi album's a few years old now, but I just rediscovered it in some dusty and neglected corner of my computer, and so here we are. It's a bunch of girls and boys from a bunch of different bands (including, but not limited to, The New Pornographers, The Gay and Blood Meridian) and for some strange reason a fashion designer is in there too. They hooked up at one of those festivals I dream to one day be able to afford going to, SXSW or Coachella or one of them, and decided, 'hey, you know what the world needs more of? Choir music! Boo yah!'

And that's what this is. Minimal instruments, a little bit of drums here, a dash of guitar there. Their voices are the primary instruments here. Beautiful melodies and interwining voices in perfect tune with each other. There's something very Bodies of Water-ish about it all, a darkness that contrasts with the sweetness of the vocals. If you hate choral music then, well, you'll probably hate this. Everyone else, give it a try; I recommend the New Pornographers cover in particular.

Running On

Failsafe (new pornographers cover)

22 April 2009

Note to self: Buy new Camera Obscura album. Now.

It's been a while since we've heard from Tracyanne Campbell and company. But Camera Obscura are back with an album of what they do best. My Maudlin Career is nothing but immaculate twee pop for hopeless romantics, with a lot of heart and even more hooks. Check out first single "French Navy".

French Navy - Camera Obscura

20 April 2009

Of Montreal @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn NY 4/17/09

Given Of Montreal's penchant for glam-rock theatricality, it's no surprise their live show is one of the most visually stunning spectacles you're likely to see. Friday's show at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg was no exception. Allow this colorful photo splodge to illustrate:

Feather confetti explosion!

Dancing bedazzled ninjas

The most surreal Christmas this side of the Flaming Lips

Weirdly costumed creatures

And a song:

An Eluardian Instance - Of Montreal

Thanks to Bill for the photos.

19 April 2009

Don't sell my stuff on ebay 'cause I might be back

So, hey, wait a minute, I just realized that I never got around to telling ya'll about one of the best albums I have heard in a very long time. One of those albums that has something new for you every time you listen, one of those albums where every song song requires no effort to full in love with. An album with, get this, awesome lyrics (I'm talking Darnielle level awesome here people), interesting vocals and a wide range of instruments including some truly inspiring strings. I honestly can't beleive I never blogged about it before. Seriosly, self, what's up with that?

Cloud Cult : Feel Good Ghosts (tea partying through tornoadoes)

I can't overstate how good Craig Minowa's lyrics are. Skillfully handled ruminations on life and death and religion which sounds heavy, yes? And when you consider that prior to this albums release Minowa's young son passed away, you might definitely be expecting something amazing, but ultimatly hard to listen to. But this is not the case at all. If I had to describe the tone of this album in one word it would be uplifting. Yes, the sadness is there. All the confusion and anger that accompanies death. But there is hope. There is... Ok, have you listened to Abbey Road in order before? You know the bit where the wailing end of the world holy shit make it stop cacophany that is 'I Want You (She's So Heavy) cuts of suddenly and 'Here Comes The Sun' begins? Listening to Feel Good Ghosts makes me feel the same way I feel when 'Here Comes Th Sun' Starts. My chest eases, I smile, my mind becomes a brighter place. The darkness isn't forgotten, no, but it's in the past. This is a moving on album. It's not about forgetting, or burying the pain of what has happened, it's about finding a way to carry on.

It's just one of those perfect albums that come around so rarely in life, and you'd be a fool to let it pass you by.

The Story of the Grandson of Jesus
and it's ok if this world has a billion saviors 'cause there's so many things to be saved...

Journey of the Featherless
My favourite words were the ones I couldn't spell...

16 April 2009

CFTPA totally conquers the children

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone have one of the most painfully emo band names I've ever heard. However do not let that deter you from checking out their music. Owen Ashworth creates some of the most lyrically devastating music this side of John Darnielle. Using lo-fi keyboards, electronic flourishes and deep, wavering vocals, CFTPA's music is at its most melodic on their latest album Vs. Children, which is sonically intricate and lyrically melancholy. Also many of the songs have to do with the unintended consequences of pregnancy, which is a fascinatingly weird yet oddly listenable concept. Check out my lengthy review at Crawdaddy! where I use my grown-up words to attempt to describe how awesome this album really it.

Natural Light - Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
Traveling Salesman's Young Wife, Home Alone on Christmas in Montpelier, VT - Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

14 April 2009

I could never get the hang of the flying racoon outfit, but yoshi was my bitch.

When a picture Sufjan Stevens as a kid I see him climbing trees and peering into birds nests, and gazing up at the sky, and skipping rocks across placid water. I don't much see him hunched over a game boy. But I bet if his mum and dad had've bought him one (instead of, you know, having affairs and colouring their hair...) and if he'd spent his formative years with mario instead of a banjo then maybe his music would sound a little like Sin Fang Bous.

That was a really long winded way of saying that Sing Fang Bous's debut album, "Clangour," sounds a little like Sufjan and a little like my nintendo loving childhood. Blips and whistles melded perfectly with breathy harmonies. It's a little wierd, and a lot cool.

Plus, check out the cover. Awesome, y/y?

Advent in Ives Garden
The Jubilee Choruses

12 April 2009

Happy Easter

Hope the bunny was good to you all...

Easter Parade - Emmy the Great

10 April 2009

I wish I dreamed whole concerts like her.

For someone who makes such ethereal music, Natasha Khan, aka Bat For Lashes, is surprisingly down to earth. I interviewed her two years ago for CMJ and she spoke articulately about her experiences not only as an artist, but as a preschool teacher. Now the British chanteuse with the haunting voice and spook-tacular arrangements is back with an even more remarkable album Two Suns . Among the best tracks, is "Daniel", which crescendos to glorious heights. With its snappy beats, atmospheric strings and yearning vocals, it's incredibly sexy AND both progressive yet accessible in a Kate Bush kind of way.

Also during my chat with her in 2007 she did mention this cool fact about one of her songs off her debut Fur And Gold:

"Prescilla" came to me in a dream by an imaginary friend. It was sung to me. I woke up and I was like oh my god that song is amazing maybe someone could tell me who it was by and then I had realized it was something I had written. I dream whole concerts. I woke up and was like ‘wow that was amazing’.

Listen to both aforementioned songs here:
Daniel - Bat For Lashes
Prescilla - Bat For Lashes

08 April 2009

Yeah! Oh, Yeah!

Between his deep, deadpan voice and dry witticisms, Jens Lekman was practically bred to cover Stephin Merritt. And now finally he has. His take, along with Tracey Thorn on the Magnetic Fields classic "Yeah! Oh, Yeah!" on Score! 20 Years of Merge, The Covers is utterly glorious. One thing's for sure: we'll never fall out of love with Jens. Yeah, Oh Yeah!

Yeah! Oh, Yeah! - Jens Lekman and Tracey Thorn (Magnetic Fields cover)

07 April 2009

Ask me, Ask me, Ask me!

Never had no one ever? Well if you live in the NYC area then this event is totally for you:

More info here

Hey you could met someone as mopey as you or perhaps your charming man! Ok, ok I'll stop with the lame puns. Those jokes aren't funny anymore. Sorry couldn't resist!

Ask - The Smiths
Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now - The Smiths

06 April 2009

Freeeeeeeee Fallin

Just a few short tour dates ago, the Mountain Goats covered Tom Petty's "Free Fallin" (the video's sadly mislabeled)

John Darnielle - "Learning to Fly" from Joel Gillespie on Vimeo.

And while we're at it, another classic tMG cover:
Suedehead - The Mountain Goats (Morrissey cover)

03 April 2009

Sleep is for the brave

I am a HUGE sucker for retro girl group melodies. Murder-Shmurder, Phil Spector is still a god to me. Anyways England's Lucky Soul does the retro girl group sound disturbingly well. "Whoa Billy" is an epic wallop of beauty and a brilliant contemporary take on the genre. The "WHOA OH OHS" shimmer and shine and sparkle among pixie dust strings and dancey electro rhythms.

ALSO, I'm pretty convinced this song was written for me. I know you're skeptical but bare with me for a sec. The protagonist is a girl who is insanely unsure about her future (i.e.: me!). She sings "Dark times ahead, whoa Billy, I've got some doubts about myself. Please tell me, what am I too do." Now I know you're thinking, hey this could be everyone. But wait.

THEN she asks a boy named Billy how he remains so confident all the freakin time. "You seem so sure about yourself. What's your secret?" she implores. See, Billy is my boyfriend, but more importantly he's a source comfort, humor and sanity. (Awww, you wanna vommit right?) I swear I'm not a narcissistic, codependent lunatic, though I do ask him that same question all the time.

Whoa Billy - Lucky Soul

02 April 2009

The Hold Steady @ the Tralf, Buffalo, NY, 4/1/09

The Hold Steady is a rock band. The level of rock enthusiasm seems unparalleled until you realize that, yes, this IS your mother's rock and roll. It's not 2009, it's 1989 and you're at a concert with your best friend in black velour miniboots. Or it's 1966 and you're at The Rolling Stones with your date, and both of you have longer hair than your mom would like. This isn't just a show, it's the beginning of a rock revolution that'll only be appreciated in hindsight.

Let me make one thing clear: this isn't just play. This is work. This is serious business, if you like. Craig Finn and crew came out and with no fuss just started ripping out the chords. It was clearly a happy night for him, as it was all "fuck yeah!" smiles and hands in the air. As each song medlied into the next, the singalongs couldn't be stopped.

01 April 2009

Two really important causes

Times are crappy economically, but, but, but if you can spare a few bucks here or there, you should really consider donating to these two super-important causes that are near and dear to my heart.

1. If you're reading this blog you are probably a fan of music, maybe even music criticism. Paul Williams the founder of Crawdaddy Magazine has long been considered the godfather of music criticism. Well, he is in dire need of your help. Here are a few words on his situation from Jocelyn Hoppa, current Crawdaddy Editor-in-Chief.

Back in 1995, Paul suffered a traumatic brain injury from a bicycle accident that has led to an early onset of Alzheimer's, not to mention a steady decline in speech and comprehension to where he now requires full-time care. The emotional hardship and financial burden this has put on his wife, folkster Cindy Lee Berryhill, and their seven-year-old son has been immense. As a freelancer, Paul lived his life without any structure of institutional support.

Understandably, this is a crazy time to be asking for money, but the time is now to share Paul's story with his fans in the hope that the word gets around enough where those with a little money to spare can give back to a living legend and slice of Americana, a person who's given so much to all of us lovers of music, science fiction, and/or philosophical meanderings.

Please visit http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http://paulwilliams.com to learn more about Paul's extraordinary life and works, and where you can send a donation. And please pass this note around to others you know who might be interested in Paul's condition. We here at Wolfgang's Vault/Crawdaddy! will be doing all we can to help and get the word out.

Much love to Paul and his family and friends,
Jocelyn, Editor-in-Chief

2. Help fund autism research AND my friend Thom will cover a song of your choice!

He recently took his fundraising efforts to the Mountain Goats forums, here's what he has to say:

Hey guys,

so, every year i participate in a fundraising walk for autism research. this year, i thought i would take my fundraising efforts to the internet. and, since mountain goats fans have been documented by me to be such cool people, i thought, why not start here on the forums?

but! before you make up your mind either way, you should know about the two deal-sweetening campaigns i am running. there’s kind of something for everyone: those who love to hear songs covered poorly by awkward amateur musicians, and one for those who like to make people pay more than they can afford to out of spite. (those ARE the two kinds of people in this world, yes?)

first, the “put your money where your mouth is” campaign: i am withholding my own donation to the fundraiser until the day of the walk, at which point i will match the largest SINGLE donation i receive from an individual. (note the key words single and individual; 6 donations of $50 will not count as $300. also, an employer-matching program does not double your donation amount for purposes of this campaign). this campaign ends at 12:00am eastern time on 6/13/09.

the other campaign is the “For a Song” campaign. in this campaign, i will accept cover requests, record my version of the song, and compile all of the cover versions onto a cd which will be shipped in September to all who donate over $20. this is my third year running a campaign similar to this; songs requested in the past include Justin Timberlake’s “sexyback,” the cure’s “fire in cairo,” “the most unwanted song,” *nsync’s “gone,” shearwater’s “nobody,” phil ochs’s “i ain’t marching anymore,” bob dylan’s “if you see her, say hello,” lou reed’s “dirty blvd.,” and patrick swayze’s “she’s like the wind,” among others. there is a bit of a sliding scale here - a particularly difficult or embarrassing song may call for a larger donation than $20, for example. also, if you donate a large amount, i may consider taking multiple requests from you. of course, multiple donations for multiple requests are welcome (and even encouraged!) it’ll be fun. it’s like yo la tengo when they slaughter the classics for wfmu, except that this is for autism research. oh, and also yo la tengo is actually a group of talented musicians. but other than that, exactly the same.

i can accept donations via check (made out to autism speaks,) but the easiest way is to donate through my online donation center, which is secure and run by kintera.org (link below). if you have an employer that matches charitable donations and need information concerning that, please let me know.

anyway, thanks in advance and i look forward to hopefully receiving lots of ridiculous song requests!

My autism walk fundraising page

Thanks in advance to everyone, even the smallest contributions are greatly appreciated.