31 May 2009

And it's taking us over

When a band opens their set with a brand new song, one that’s never been released and you haven’t heard before and totally arrests you with its brooding gorgeousness, you know you’re in for a hell of a show. Such was the case with The National during their Friday show at Philly's Electric Factory. The opening tune in this case was the tentatively titled “The Runaway”. If you only remotely liked Boxer (which I daresay is silly of you because it's an album that begs to be LOVED) you should download this song. If you don't even like The National, or have only read about this much hyped band called The National, click the link below, because really this a song, like most National songs is for anyone who's encountered devastating relationship issues and brooded the hell over it. Except The National make art out of angst in only the ways you wish you could.
The Runaway - The National (as played on Q TV)
What makes you think I'm enjoying being led to the flood?
We got another thing coming undone
And it's taking us over

Photo courtesy Thomas Hartnett

28 May 2009

Yet ANOTHER awesome cover

We're on an awesome live cover roll. Earlier this week The Hold Steady covered the Mountain Goats and now I just discovered this gem of a cover. While it's not brand new (it was recorded in Febraury) it's still an absolute thrill to hear Frightened Rabbit cover Neutral Milk Hotel's "Song Against Sex". Their lovely acoustic rendition lends the song a unique Scottish flair, yet still maintains the original's earnestness. Enjoy!

27 May 2009

New Pains Song!

Ok, so the sound quality is kind of muddled, but I'll take what I can get in terms of new material from my fave New York band The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. "Falling Over" while not as superior on their debut self-titled album is super jangly. Check it out:

And here's an mp3 of one of their best tunes:

Young Adult Friction - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

24 May 2009

"Our conversations are like minefields. No one's found a safe way through one yet"

File this one under one of my favorite bands covering one of my other favorite bands. Check out The Hold Steady's take on the Mountain Goats "Southwood Plantation Road". I love, love, love the way Craig Finn slurs the "La, La, La's". It' so (drunkenly?) epic.

EDIT - We have the mp3, thanks to Bill!

Southwood Plantation Road - The Hold Steady (the Mountain Goats cover)

22 May 2009

Old People hate Dan Deacon, dig Bon Iver

God bless the old folks that have Breakfast at Sulimays:

Snookered - Dan Deacon

21 May 2009

This is why I will defend the merits of the mix tape to the death.

This has got to be one of the best feelings in the world.

There's a band you've known of for years. They pop up repeatedly in the recommended lists on last.fm and eMusic and iTunes and all the rest of it. Friends whose music taste you respect love them. Maybe you've downloaded a song or two by them over the years. But you just don't get them. You don't see what all the fuss is about. They're ok, but you just feel vaguely confused and meh about what they do.

This was my relationship with Akron/Family. From the first day I stepped out of the world of safe, mainstream music and into the seas of indie they've been there. I listened to their '05 self titled, I listed to the odd track here and there, but ultimately I was unimpressed. Then, today, I recieved a mix cd in the mail. (Not an unusual occurance for me, I agree to mix trades all over the place and often get unexpected audio surprises in the mail). Track 7 was an Akron/Family track named "Ed Is A Portal." I listened to it once. Went 'hmmm.' Crazy freak folk African beats interwoven with beautiful violin, interesting.... Listened to it again. While it wasplaying for the third time I mosied on over to emusic and bought the album it was from, 2007's "Love is Simple." (It's a picture of the album cover below, not just a random floating heart...)

Guys. For real. Loving it. I've had it on repeat all day and each song delights me more each time I hear it. I'm not kidding, everything about this album is grabbing my attention and not letting go. It's interesting, layered, complex, but easy to listen to and enjoy. Polyphonic Spree like exuberance one moment, Yeasayer tribal beats the next moment, and oh why not some good old fashioned Neil Young rock the next? I can't say Akron/Family, where have you been all my life, because I know where they've been- I've just been happily going about my life under the delusion that I didn't like them.

Seriously. Discovering a love for a band you'd previously disregarded? Like I said before: best feeling in the world.

Ed Is A Portal

(Speaking of random mix cd trades, anyone up for it? Hit me up in the comments if you are!)

19 May 2009


I know exactly what you're asking. You're asking: IS IT THAT GOOD? And I'm here to tell you: IT IS THAT GOOD. If you haven't watched the extended trailer for GLEE already, watch it, below. If that piques your interest enough (and how could it not?) go watch the full episode (which aired tonight) on Fox.com. (Watch it all summer long, says Fox! Why, thank you, Fox, I think I will!) It'll be back with more episodes in the Fall. It was SUCH a delight. A little bit Election, a little bit Jane Lynch, a giant dose of musical goodness (which is what we here on Volume Knob are all about, of course), and all the high school nostalgia you can handle. Watch, and enjoy.

Little Boots @ Le Poison Rouge, NYC 5/18/09

Anyone else wonder how Little Boots dances around so agilely in those stilettos? Man, that girl is an electro-pop goddess. Her debut album Hands is due out next months in the states and we guarantee it will soundtrack your workouts all summer. Special thanks to The Music Slut, from whom we won tickets to see such an awesome show.

Meddle - Little Boots
Time to Pretend - Little Boots (MGMT cover)

18 May 2009

Also, he sounds a wee bit like Mick Jagger, if that's your thing.

So I was poking about eMusic and I came across this odd little ep. I grabbed it because the name appealed to me, which almost never works out well. ("Hmmm, 'a fever you can't sweat out?' that's an interesting album title, I might buy it...") But in this case I've been pleasantly surprised, in an odd way.

The ep is in a style of music I thought I'd moved past. Rough, demo sounding songs by vaguely off key musicians. Like that first Green Day album (god, how I loved that first Green Day album). But "Cheekbone Hollows (Pop. 1/2 Life)" (seriously, how cool an album name is that?) does have more to offer than just straight up garagy rock. There is a hint of violin here and there, some male and female vocal interaction. Hmm, I guess I would say it's less early Green Day and more like, um, let's see have you ever heard one of those Connor Oberst demos where he sounds kind of drunk and its just him and sound friends throwing a song together? The six songs on this ep sound a little like that, but more deliberate, more carefully crafted. Like the guy who spends three and half hours making his hair look like he did it in five minutes. But much less douch-y than that.

It's rough and shambling, but at the same time a little twee and more than a little charming. So if lo-fi gems have ever held a place in your heart, give this a try.

(Oh, oh, and the lyrics are awesome. But that's pretty much a given for any music I post about, all about the words, that's me: "But I keep hearing talk of the doom, and they’re sending the meek home, and that’s not half as bad as the shadow, that’s caught in the hollow of your cheekbone" this is the stuff that keeps me going).

Cheekbone Hollows - The Childballads
They Hunt Us We Run - The Childballads

15 May 2009

Oh Joy!

Check out Little Joy's new video for "Next Time Around". The 8 milimeter footage totally matches the song's retro-pop aesthetic.

And download the tune here:

Next Time Around - Little Joy

14 May 2009

So You Want To Meet Sufjan or Andrew (without coming off as a groupie)

SQUEEEEEEE! I'm, like, your biggest fan EVAR!!!!!!1!

Here at Volume Knob, there are few things we love more than music, but one is notes from you, dear readers. We received the following comment to last fall's post about the Andrew Bird show in Ithaca, NY from reader Madkaye:

I am constantly following your blog but this is my first comment. I do have a question, seeing as you have both successfully met two specific artists that I practically worship. Could you post a blog or just a reply perhaps on how you think its best to approach the whole conflict of:

"HOLY CRAP I want to meet this god and am willing to give up my first child in order to do so"


"Well...I don't want to be the annoying generic fan...I mean they're just a person, right? RIGHT?"

You know what I'm saying? You guys always seem to find the artist in a position where you can talk to them and get a photo and everything. How in the hell did you manage both sufjan and andrew? I've heard they are both extremely shy with fans.

It is certainly the conundrum! To be perfectly honest, I wish I had a good answer myself, besides simply "happenstance and patience." I can only offer insights and advice from my own experiences. The truth is, I'm no fancy pants smooth operator, nor are we lowly bloggers presented with press passes or any opportunities more than anyone else. All we really do is have some time to kill, and wait patiently.

For both the Andrew and Sufjan show, as with most shows, it's a matter of kindly and quietly just waiting around after the show. Feel out the situation for gush-ability. Sometimes, verbal diarrhea is inevitable. Don't be embarrassed, just say whatever feels true and right, even if you worry it's cliché.

We are all the annoying, generic fan; the idea is to be conscientious of this and mitigate that with realizing that some artists are very shy or might not be in the mood for gushing, while others are more casual and relaxed and feel more comfortable mingling with fans in these situations.

Remember, they're at work! They just finished a performance and are more likely than not, rather tired. Don't Bogart their time, but handshakes and autograph requests are always appropriate. For those of us more, ahem, persistent--especially with notoriously shy artists who are scarcely seen post-show or don't tour as often--being slightly more assertive and asking for photos is an acceptable hazard of fan territory.

Finally, note there's no reward without risk, and you can never go wrong with just chilling at a venue post-show and letting the exit traffic wane.

13 May 2009

Wilco (The Album) (The Stream)

As you might have heard by now, Wilco (the band) is streaming the entirety of their new album on their website RIGHT NOW. Wilco (The album) officially come out June 30. If you're a sucker for albums that feature camels wearing party hats on the cover, like I am you'll want to listen here now!

And for your downloading pleasure, here's a live version one of the new tracks "Sunny Feeling". I'm digging its Summerteeth vibe, so so poppy and um, well sunny.

Sunny Feeling - Wilco

12 May 2009

Outta Luck(smiths)

Nooooo The Lucksmiths broke up! This deeply sadens me you guys. I'm well aware the split was amicable, but who cares. This was a band I truly loved that never got the appreciation they deserved over their 16 year long career. They were waaaaay more then an Australian version of Belle & Sebastian.

Their melodies were peppy, their lyrics were melancholy, their accents were hot. Not to mention, the lead singer Tali White was also the drummer. Considering I can barely walk and chew gum at the same time, I can't fathom how any one individual could be as coordinated as to keep time AND melody.

According to the band's label Matinee Recordings, Tali is pursuing a career as a primary teacher(!). Man, those kids are in for a treat, especially come sing along time.

Here are a few of my favorites songs by the band. Enjoy these gems.

A Hiccup in Your Happiness
Guess How Much I Love You?
Adolescent Song of Mindless Devotion
T-Shirt Weather
The Art of Cooking For Two

10 May 2009

For all you Mother Lovers out there...

In case you missed it last night, Justin Timberlake brought the funny back to SNL with his uproarious "Mother Lovers". This ones for all the MILFs out there.

Ok and now some songs that are safe to share with mom. After all it is her day!

Mother and Child Reunion - Grizzly Bear (Paul Simon cover)
Your Mother Loves You Son - Beulah
Mothers, Daughters, Sisters & Wives - Voxtrot

09 May 2009

Right up there with the Who in the not Google friendly stakes.

So we here at Volume Knob receive quite a few (read: a hell of a lot) of of e-mails from press release type people excited about their bands. And I'm the first to admit that I am maybe not quite as diligent as I should be about reading them. But when a subject line announcing a new band featuring members of The Format caught my eye, I clicked.

Now, the format. 2006's Dog Problems was a very good album (not their only one, but the only one I'm familiar with), but it just resonate with me. Don't get me wrong, I wanted it to. I really wanted it to. Clever lyrics, very catchy, well sung; all the things I love. But, you just can't force yourself to love an album, you know? (Or well, I mean, you can sometimes. Like, with Rufus Wainwright's self titled, I was unsure of it but I made myself listen to it over and over and it just clicked with me. But I guess deep down i felt a connection to it, and that's why I kept pressing play. I had no such compulsion with Dog Problems).

But scanning the press release I was reminded of how much I wanted to love the Format, so I figured I'd give this new band, annoyingly named "fun." a try. (I say annoyingly because have you ever tried googling a band named fun.? True fact: It's not fun). After no small amount of fiddling about, I was finally able to download their first and as far as I can tell only single: At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be).

It was everything I wanted the Format to be, and then some. Catchy, and I'm talking insanely catchy here peopele. Like, a slow ten seconds at the start and them BAM! It's catchy city. A little bit of Vampire Weekend-sh reggae (speaking of Vampire Weekend, have you noticed that it's only now that bands are starting to borrow from them? Reming me to post about this Hungry Kids From Hungary band I was listening to the other day...), with male and female vocals complimenting each other nicely. And it's a very inteesting song, it's like a whole album crammed into a mere four minutes. It's slow, then it's catchy (did I mention that it's catchy?) then it's all sweeping and epic. But of course, this is only one song. When the band finally releases a whole album (September is the date I'm seeing thrown around a lot) it will either live up to the promise of this song, or, well, it wont. I guess we'll just have to see. But I, for one, am excited about it.

At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be) : fun.

Come On Eileen (Live Dexy's Midnight Runners cover; the quality is not %100, but it's still very cool and, well, fun.) : fun.

07 May 2009

New John Vanderslice

NPR is now (and by "now" I mean May 11, so you might have to wait a few days) streaming the entire new John Vanderslice album Romanian Names (out May 19th). Hooray for NPR for reminding us it's way more then just our parents' fave news source. Listen here

Also let us remind you JV is the long-anointed "nicest man in indie rock", as if you didn't know that already. I've never seen a singer give out so many gracious post-show hugs to fans. I kid you not.

And here's a preview track for download:

Too Much Time - John Vanderslice

05 May 2009

8 Bands to Watch and the ones we're watching: 2009 Edition

So every year New York City alt-weekly, The L Magazine (full disclosure: I used to write for them) comes out with a list of 8 NYC bands to watch. They have like scary ESP. Last year they listed VK faves The Pains of Being Pure at Heart who blew up the blogosphere. And the year before they included some little band called Vampire Weekend. Maybe you've heard of them.

Well The L stumped us this time around. Here's the 2009's 8:

pow wow!
Savoir Adore
The Albertans
The Beets
Emanuel & the Fear

We've only vaguely, sorta heard of these bands, though another VK fave Dinosaur Feathers did get an honorable mention. So yeah, you can tell all your cool kid friends you heard of them here first.

Check out the full article here

And while we know very, very little about these 8, we're betting they're damn good. We also did minimal research (aka quick google searches) and to provide you with a sample of two of these bands whom we think sound promising according to our ears, not just our L-reading eyes.

Still Only You - pow wow!
Quick, catchy, lo-fi with tambourine, which is how we like our lo-fi, thank you very much! You'll feel like you've known this song your whole life.
p.s. - that's a good thing

The Rain Becomes the Clouds - Emanuel and The Fear
There are 11 people in this band, and it sure does sound it. Not a is person wasted, this is some epic orchestrally indie rock.

03 May 2009


I spent this weekend trucking miles and miles and miles to watch my husband get his Master's degree in Library and Information Science, and a proud wife I am indeed. So go on ahead a click on the above linked image to get you the applicable Questionable Content tote bag, and here's a song just for him and his future career in what is rapidly becoming a digital profession ...

21st Century (Digital Boy) - Bad Religion

We won by the way!

In honor of the Phillies game I saw this weekend, here's The Hold Steady singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game".

Take Me Out to the Ball Game - The Hold Steady