30 July 2009

The Avett Brothers @ The Cuban Club, Ybor City, Florida, 07.18.09

The Avett Brothers, Scott and Seth, are still good. The are also (still?) crazy, because who but the crazy would willingly play an outdoor show in Florida in July? Sheer madness. People from the Carolinas, that's who.

There were some very sweet touches added to a song or two in honor of the recent birth of Scott Avett's daughter. He didn't look nearly as tired as I would expect a new parent to look, but life on the road probably prepares you for late nights and little sleep better than most other lifestyles.

They've got a new album coming out in September (so start your engines!) but the I and Love and You single deserves to be celebrated in its own right, and is totally worth the $2.97 it will cost you to obtain on iTunes. Heck, you might even be able to find it in your local record store, because they're Major Label now! The shot below was taken during the earnest "Salvation Song" sing-a-long, Joe Kwon (whom we are always pleasantly surprised to see) and Avetts' regular Bob Crawford belting it out arm-in-arm ...

We came for salvation
We came for family
We came for all that's good that's how we'll walk away
We came to break the bad
We came to cheer the sad
We came to leave behind the world a better way

The craziest part was how much everyone seems to mean it. It almost felt like being at church. In a good way.

Sadly, we suffered from Show Fail, i.e., we showed up four songs late. It was a kind of crucial miss for me. The show (see the playlist here) followed the "hook them with the opening numbers, then mess around in your back catalogue for awhile" formula, and we missed the hook. Seriously, who goes on stage at 9:30?

Anyway, in honor of our (my) Show Fail, I give you the four songs we missed:

Laundry Room
Paranoia in B-flat Major
Distraction #74
Living of Love

If the first link doesn't work, or if it works just fine but you can't play the song, blame the almighty Apple. Seriously, though, it's worth the three bucks.

"Sexy ladies with high IQs"

I have my boyfriend to thank (or to blame) for exposing me to what is probably the ultimate example of a bad song by a great artist. And since I'm going through a crisis in self-confidence I'm relying on it for as a reminder of my own smart-girl-ness. So here it goes.

You know that pop music genius Brian Wilson, like the dude in the Beach Boys, right that guy. Well for one brief moment in the late 80s he decided to rap. We want to blame the cocaine and mental illness, but even that doesn't excuse the travesty of "Smart Girls". Imagine if Girl Talk decided to slice and dice every Beach Boys song, except instead of using his usual precision, he just haphazardly cuts-and-pastes them together in chaotic disarray. That description can hardly do justice to the insanity of this song, an apologetic ode in which Wilson declares his love to "sexy ladies with high IQs". And shockingly the album on which it was slated to appear, the aptly titled Sweet Insanity was rejected by Sire records. Amen for bootlegs!

Smart Girls - Brian Wilson

28 July 2009

Top 9 Every-men (and Woman) in Rock

Now don't get me wrong, I love the mysterious aura of an eagle-winged Sufjan or the sexed-up disco fantasia of Of Montreal, but sometimes it's refreshing to see a band composed of all-around average guys. Guys that could live next door to you without a hint of pretentious weirdo-ness. These are the rock stars we love that are kinda like us. Sometimes they're unassuming, sometimes they're modest but they always, always wear jeans on stage.

9. Jeff Tweedy of Wilco
Ok, disregard the killer migraines, the past addictions, the diva-licious falling out with bandmates and you have a really average guy who writes songs that are anything but. Also remember that scene in I Am Trying to Break Your Heart where he asks his wife for money to feed the kids while waiting in line at Wendys. That alone puts him on this list.

8. Jens Lekman
Do guys get more humble then this? His shy smile and aw-shucks demeanor, not to mention all-inclusive after parties put him on this list. Following their concerts, how many pop stars invite the entire audience to a house party in Brooklyn? By putting fans first he essentially denounces his celebrity and affirms his every-man status. Plus we get to dance the night away at the same time!

7. John Vanderslice

By far the happiest, friendliest, sweetest guy on the list. Like Jens he obliterates the line between artist and audience. Chances are if you've seen him live you've also been hugged by him. Just an unbelievably down-to-earth and cheery stand-up dude.

6. Eddie Argos of Art Brut

Just listen to the lyrics of "DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshakes". Nuff said.

5. Bruce Springsteen
Ok, so he's a mega-superstar BUT he somehow maintains his working class cred by touring his ass off and maintaining his New Jersey roots. We should thank him for showing the kids that real rock stars aren't assholes.

4. Ted Leo

The political punker totally rocks, but he's also totally humble, appreciative and downright right ordinary when it comes to his personal life and dealing with fans. Just check out this photo of him and VK's Lizzie. It pretty much says it all:
3. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver
Dude lived in a cabin in Wisconsin and endured a shit-ton of heartbreak. That's about as every-man as it gets.

2. Ira, James and Georgia of Yo La Tengo

These Jersey natives are completely unassuming and completely ageless. They could be your next door neighbor. Hell for some of you young'ens they could be your parents. So causal and so casually cool, they wear jeans and striped t-shirts on stage. Except underneath their ultra-normal exterior lies their secret power - the power of rock. And rock they do.

1. Craig Finn (and really the rest of the members of The Hold Steady except for Franz Nicholay's mustache)

Do dudes get anymore dude-ier than them? I mean they formed a band as an excuse to jam once a week, down a few beers and escape the wives. And in turn wrote some of the best straight-up rock albums this decade. For that we salute you.

Now some songs:
Flume - Bon Iver
Me and Mia - Ted Leo
Fetal Horses - John Vanderslice

27 July 2009

The Hold Steady @ The Starland Ballroom Sayerville, NJ 7/24/09

Given my proximity to NYC, it's almost unforgivable that it took me four years to see The Hold Steady live. Considering they play the metro area as frequently as VH1 re-airs Flavor of Love, and half the time the gigs are free no less. But sometimes life has a way of getting in the way of concert-going and man is it lame when such issues occur.

And so it took until last week before I caught Craig Finn and company rock, in the most literal sense. The diversity of the crowd -frat boys, hipsters, aging classic rock aficionados and me, the boyfriend and gathering of friends- all sang along in a celebration of the joys and pains of youth and booze. It was a massive night indeed.

Bonus Spotting: outside the Wawa (the world's best convenience/sandwich store and a New Jersey institution) following the show a super-wasted teenager was wearing a white t-shirt that had "Boys Go For Looks" sharpee-d on the front and "Girls Go for Status" scrawled on the back. We approve.

Set List

Most People are DJ's
Constructive Summer
Hot Soft Light
Girls Like Status
The Swish
Navy Sheets
Banging Camp
Massive Nights
Party Pit
Don't Let Me Explode
Sequestered in Memphis
Stevie Nix
Yeah Sapphire
You Can Make Him Like You
Hornets! Hornets!
Southtown Girls
Your Little Hoodrat Friend


Stay Positive
Stuck Between Stations
Chips Ahoy
Slapped Actress

P.S. How do you know you're at a Hold Steady concert in NJ? Right after the band was done playing "Thunder Road" came on the PA and the ENTIRE audience sang along. Then midway through, the speakers cut out in attempt to break up the crowd and get people to leave. Nope. We stayed put and actually finished singing it in all its Springsteenian glory. Damn the dirty Jerz never ceases to impress me.

Constructive Summer - The Hold Steady
Atlantic City - The Hold Steady (Bruce Springsteen cover)

25 July 2009

So here's the deal

The charger to my laptop broke so I can't update from there (which is a shame since that's where all the music is). So I'm on the boyfriend's computer right now. We had a rocking good time at The Hold Steady show last night (our ears are still ringing... ringing with awesomeness). Also Franz's mustache is a thing of many wonders. Photos and set list to come, when I get the lappy fixed.

In the meantime enjoy my interview with The Boy Least Likely To up on Crawdaddy. I chatted with lead singer Jof Owen via email about their new album, what it means to be twee, the English countryside, and “the most rubbish cartoon superhero ever invented.” He really is a thoughtful, articulate guy. Cute too.

22 July 2009

The stuff your indie wet dreams are made of...

Ok, ok so it's like really hard to believe Zooey would ever have a hard time getting her way. I mean all she has to do is bat her eyes, curtsy and twirl in her cute little dresses and she's got the world bowing before her. Nevertheless, I totally buy her take on the Smiths classic.

Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want - She & Him (The Smiths cover)

20 July 2009

You're probably sick of all these Siren Fest posts by now...

Siren Fest, for those of you non-New Yorkers is the one day a year when nearly a dozen of your favorite indie bands descend upon Coney Island for a free festival of music, gross "vbrancyy beverages" and buckets of sweat. The real draw for me this year was Frightened Rabbit, whose album latest album The Midnight Organ Fight made my top 10 of 2008. The adorable Scottish lads commanded the stage with a vigor and urgency that defied the heat. There energy was made all the more impressive considering they were wearing what looked to be pretty heavy plaid button downs. Major props for suffering for fashion! Tons of videos of their performance here. Like the girl in front of me sad, "You can't fake those accents!".

I also managed to catch the last few songs by Future of the Left (aka the dudes from the now defunct McClusky), whom the boyfriend and many others claim were the highlight of Siren Fest. From what I heard it was some pretty banging Welsh punk.

Also how endearing were Japandroids. The duo claimed they've never seen this many people in their lives. Awww, Canadians.

Oh and hey Grand Duchy, Black Francis and his wife played a neat little set as well.

I didn't stick around for The Raveonettes or Built to Spill, as I was party-pooped out. (Besides, I'm the girl that always kills the party anyway).

Oh and p.s. - the sound quality sounded slightly better this year, or at least louder anyways. Though the bands still had to compete with the ROAR of the cyclone, at least Japandroids beat it.

The Modern Leper - Frightened Rabbit

18 July 2009


Two fun covers that I've come across lately, submitted for your enjoyment:

17 July 2009

Say Please

It's hot out. I can't think enough to type, but until the heat subsides enjoy the new Monsters of Folk single. That's Conor Oberst + Mike Mogis + M. Ward + Jim James dontcha know.
Say Please - Monsters of Folk

In other news, who's ready for Siren Fest tomorrow. Frightened Rabbit, Future of the Left, Built to Spill, Japandroids and many more FREE!

15 July 2009

Conversation I had today at work

"There's this band, Yo Lo Tengo," I overheard him say in the classroom adjacent to my post at the receptionist desk.
"Um it's Yo LA Tengo," I interjected.
"Oh right."
"So what about them?"
"I'm good friends with one of the guys, Ira. We went to high school together. Used to jam all the time. We just met up for drinks the other day."

Ok, so apparently one of the teachers at the music school/camp I do occasional temp work at is like BFF with Ira and can't even get his band's name right, ha! I told him how much I dig those guys and he quizzically asked me "why?". Um because they're the only band I know that can get away with playing little twee pop songs, 10+ minute psychedelic jams AND plaintive melancholy folk ballads. In any other band I'd call that an identity crisis, but in Yo La Tengo, they get away with doing it all because they do it all so well. He just sorta nodded.

But here's the most awesome part: he made me show YLT YouTube clips to his students, a gaggle of 8-12 year old boys armed with acoustic guitars bigger then their bodies. And they marveled at Ira's freakout solo halfway through "Stockholm Syndrome". The way he can riff and pluck and squeal his instrument and then return to the melody is bold and seamless. To quote the aforementioned teacher, "it's like there's no such thing as metronomes!" Which is to say on a technical classicist level there's no room to love YLT because of their blatant disregard for traditional structure. BUT that is precisely the reason so many people fall in love with them in the first place.

To quote one of my friends whom I thoroughly agree with "Stockholm Syndrome is "the platonic ideal of a perfect pop song". WORD.

Anyways it felt good to give the kids a real musical education, expand their minds a bit and score a goal for team indie rock.

The song (and video) at hand:

Stockholm Syndrome - Yo La Tengo

And here's a new track off their upcoming album out in September:

Periodically Double or Triple - Yo La Tengo

14 July 2009

We were too busy listening to it all day that we didn't get around to posting it till now

In addition to making gorgeous, fractured folk songs, the Dodos are really nice guys. We bet they donate blood and help old ladies cross the street. We think this because they're letting you stream their new album Time to Die like 3 months before its physical release in September. Doesn't that just make you wanna take them home to meet mom and dad?

Stream it ALL here

And here's a track off last year's dizzying Visiter (it's mispelled on purpose y'all):

Red and Purple - The Dodos

12 July 2009

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart @ South Street Seaport 7/10/09

I would have enjoyed the Pains of Being Pure at Heart's show at the Seaport better if I was wearing pants. It was an unseasonably cool July day, not to mention the seaside wind, oh my the wind, but I was like "I wanna wear a skirt dammit!" so my childish impetuousness to attempt to look cute won out. ANYWAYS you don't care one bit about how cold I was. You care about the music, which of course was super. While The Pains only played for about 50 minutes (they only have one album of material after all), they sounded great. There was lots of pep and jangle as the upbeat melodies soared. But what was really endearing was their adorable "aw shucks, can you believe all these people here to see US" attitude. So yeah despite the cold, it was totally worth it. Oh and did we mention it was FREE.

Our photos suck, but hey you can sorta see the stage surrounded by boats. Just insert a sweet indie band in there and volia! You have an Insta-concert!

The Music Slut has ACTUAL photos plus the setlist. So yeah we defer to them for an actual review. We just wanted to mention it was cold.

Orchard of My Eye - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

10 July 2009

It's kind of Finding Nemo-esque

Italio-disco songstress Sally Shapiro ups the cuteness factor with this adorable video for "Love in July" in which an itty bitty goldfish falls in love with a whale. I really love how the fish has a castle in its bowl that doubles as rocket ship. Seriously this video nears Pixar levels of emotional cartoon awesomeness. Just watch already: Love In July

08 July 2009

"We used to dream. Now we worry about dying"

I must say there are a shit ton (that's a technical term) of trendy bands jumping on the lo-fi revival bandwagon. Fuzzy, scuzzy rock seems to be all the rage lately. Which is cool and all if that's your thing. As for me, well I like my noise in small doses. Just a smidge of distortion and reverb on, oh say, one song per album and I usually have my fill. This basically means I'm ill-equipped to review gazillions of albums (that's another technical term). However there is one little song on one noisy-as-hell album that totally took me by surprise.
Canadian duo Japandroids released a balls-illy titled album called Post-Nothing, which sorta implies that they are beyond aesthetic labels and genres etc. It's a great big middle finger of a title and sonically they live up to that mischeviousness with their great big squalls of sound. Anyway, as I was listening to this album, primarily out of the desire to expand my ears beyond the realm of indie-acoustic-pop prettiness but mostly because I'm a sucker for the bro-mantic cover photo, I was caught off guard. Because "Young Hearts Spark Fire" is a wallop of awesome. It's a bit like a kick to the gut, but one that stutters and trips before it hits you. Not to mention the repition of this ominious line: "We used to dream. Now we worry about dying". Powerful stuff.

Post-Nothing is being re-released on Polyvinyl August 4.

Young Hearts Spark Fire - Japandroids

06 July 2009

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone @ The First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia, PA 7/2/09

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone aka a lone Owen Ashworth put on a mesmerizing show at the itty-bitty chapel at Philadelphia's First Unitarian Church. The venue only holds 50 people, no joke. And so we sat, packed in the pews and watched Owen tap away at his keyboards as he made lo-fi musical magic. For those of you unaware, his latest album Vs. Children contains some of the best songs ever written about children having children, emotional and literate lyrics ensue.

Oh and by the way, CFTPA played two back-to-back shows at the chapel. We attended the early one. But guess who attended the late show? None other then SUFJAN STEVENS! (A little bird called Twitter told us so). And to think we missed sitting inches away from that dreamboat by a mere few hours. What have we done to anger the indie rock gods so much??

White Jetta - Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

04 July 2009

Happy Independence Day

To our American readers at least. Happy regular Fourth of July to the rest of the world!

Fireworks - Animal Collective

01 July 2009

Doesn't he look yummy in this pic?

Happy Birthday Sufjan! Now how bout giving us a present, like you know get cracking on that next album. 48 states await.

Happy Birthday - Sufjan Stevens