Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ray Davies is NOT Going to Be Happy

So. Today I heard a song on the radio that would have been filed under your basic alt-rock aggression fest, but something was off; the song's verses sounded different, and almost recognizably catchy, as though I had heard it before. Then it hit me. Check out the comparison below. Do the verses sound almost entirely lifted? Am I imagining this? Are the Kinks uncredited long-time influences on modern aggro-rock? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Canadian Songs/Videos from the Golden Era of MuchMusic

I had MuchMusic (from Toronto, CA) as part of my cable package growing up, so from the ages of 11 through 18 or so I had a strong education on a genre that was pretty much left untouched by MTV and US Radio. Due to a trip down memory lane, I ended up watching many of my favorites on YouTube today, and here are some of my old favorites. Warning: this list is so '90s. Any additions?

Tragically Hip - Ahead By A Century

And, of course, the band that made it big (unfortunately they left the best of it up in Canada):

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fruit Bats - The Ruminant Band

Eric Johnson, also known as the newest full-time member of The Shins, is back working with his other Sub Pop act, Fruit Bats. The band is nearing the release of their fourth full-length album, which so far is shaping up to be their most fully-formed, confident sounding disc yet. Fruit Bats have always maintained a strong grassroots folk angle in their songs, but recently, they've embraced more of a polished sound, which is a decision that could see them breaking a bit further into the mainstream, or at least gaining a bit more notoriety. Check it out, both new tracks below are highly recommended.

Mp3: Fruit Bats - The Ruminant Band (via Subpop)
Mp3: Fruit Bats - My Unusual Friend (via Subpop)

For the uninitiated, here's another past great one from the band:

When U Love Somebody - Fruit Bats

Fruit Bats: Blog

Monday, June 29, 2009

Beirut - Live Session

Yet another great live Beirut video for sharing courtesy of the good people of La Blogotheque.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Beck - Sunday Morning (Velvet Underground Cover)

Record Club: Velvet Underground & Nico 'Sunday Morning' from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

You may have heard about Beck's latest project (re-recording The Velvet Underground & Nico in full in a 24-hour period), which is off to a strong start. His first release from the album is his cover of "Sunday Morning," and it sounds pretty great, if a bit straightforward. Check it (above) and the original (below).

And...the original:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Titus Andronicus - Upon Viewing Brueghel's "Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus"

My new favorite band of 2009: Titus Andronicus. We hosted them at CDU back in January, opening for Los Campesinos!, and their set was fantastic. It wasn't until a few months later, though, that I gave their album a proper listen. Glad I finally got around to it, though, as it is a great straight-ahead rock album and was enough to knock the precious indie-pop rut I was in right out (it'll be back though, it always is). Check out the video above and the Mp3 below, both tracks from the Seinfeld-referencing album "The Airing of Grievances."

Mp3: Titus Andronicus - Titus Andronicus

Monday, June 01, 2009

Suckers - Easy Chairs

If you like Akron/Family, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, and/or Yeasayer, I've got some high hopes that the song above, in video form, and below, in Mp3 form, will become your new favorite track of the moment. It's one fourth of the band's self-titled April EP (all of which is very good, I might add), currently available for under four dollars over at Amie St. The video, as you can see, is a bit odd but somehow fits the song. So far, 2009 has been a strong year for new releases by established bands, so it's great to see a new band emerge as an act to get excited about.

Mp3: Suckers - Easy Chairs

Monday, May 11, 2009

Say Hi - Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh

Annual summer mix underway, track #1 below. I'll post a full mix up here sometime soon. Listen, and bask in the musical glory.

Mp3: Say Hi - Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh (via Say Hi's site)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Animal Collective - Summertime Clothes (Live on Letterman)

I enjoyed this video way too much to not re-post. Thanks to IGIF.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

John Vanderslice - Fetal Horses

John Vanderslice is the latest artist to offer up a unique incentive for those looking to purchase his album (Not -quite- as involved as of Montreal's last album, but hey). If you're one of the first 100 to pre-order his upcoming release, Romanian Names, included with your order will be a portion of analog tape from the cutting room floor from the album's sessions. Once its yours, you then own it and can go all Girl Talk with it and turn it into a mashup with a Three 6 Mafia song or whatever. Details here, first Romanian Names single below.

Mp3: John Vanderslice - Fetal Horses (via

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Black Lips - Short Fuse

I couldn't completely get into Black Lips until finally seeing them live a few weeks back. Their music is pretty much unabashed Garage Rock (with some elements of Punk), with continuous hooks throughout. Give it a listen below, that's really the best introduction. This'll probably be one of my favorite tracks of the year.

Mp3: Black Lips - Short Fuse

Monday, April 13, 2009

Outside Lands Festival Announcement

Just caught this excellent promo video for San Francisco's Outside Lands Festival. Creative, funny, and a pretty gigantic lineup:

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Dead Man's Bones - Name In Stone

It's not too often that an actor or actress can successfully transition from working in films to making interesting music. If you're thinking Bruce Willis or Jennifer Love Hewitt bucked the trend, you should stop reading, because you're not going to like this. Ryan Gosling, however, who is probably best known for starring in "Lars and the Real Girl" and "The Notebook," is apparently a pretty good musician. His new project, Dead Man's Bones, is most noticeably reminiscent of Arcade Fire, if for nothing else than that press photo above. Seriously, though, check out the two live singles the band has released below. You'll probably like them both.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Neko Case - This Tornado Loves You

After the large undertaking of working on the Sasquatch! 2009 mixes, I had some trouble deciding what artist/track to feature next up here. Just as I had resigned myself to waiting for the next one to strike me, the weather went crazy in Tallahassee, with tornado/flood/hail warnings all over (including a jarring siren & "Seek Shelter!, Seek Shelter!" speaker announcement on campus yesterday evening). This led me to have a pretty vivid dream that I was at home in NY and looked out the window to see a giant Tornado spinning overhead. When combined with seeing the poster above (for sale here) in Austin, and reading a great article about Neko Case (who incorporates the weather/nature as a theme throughout her latest album) in this month's Paste (abbreviated version here), I decided to take the sum of events as a sign. Neko has probably my favorite voice of any female vocalist today, and she has made a number of great records already. Her latest, Middle Cyclone, takes yet another step forward, pairing her vocal range with songwriting that builds upon past efforts. Check out album standout "This Tornado Loves You" below.

Stream: Neko Case - This Tornado Loves You

Video: Middle Cyclone Album Preview
Buy: Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sasquatch! 2009 Mix: Day 3 - Monday

Now that the Sasquatch! 2009 lineup is official and many weeks old, it's time to start getting excited. Enter this mix, which I'll do in 3 parts, sorted by day of performance. Check out some bands that you may not be that familiar with, and get pumped for some acts that you know you're looking forward to. And so, I give you part III, Sasquatch! 2009: Monday.

1) Girl Talk - Play Your Part (Pt. 1) (Wookie! Stage)
2) Gogol Bordello - Start Wearing Purple (Sasquatch! Main Stage)
3) Grizzly Bear - On A Neck, On A Spit (Sasquatch! Main Stage)
4) Blitzen Trapper - Black River Killer (Wookie! Stage)
5) Fleet Foxes - Blue Ridge Mountains (Sasquatch! Main Stage)
6) Ben Harper - Burn One Down (Sasquatch! Main Stage)
7) Horse Feathers - Working Poor (Yeti Stage)
8) Bishop Allen - Middle Management (Wookie! Stage)
9) Beach House - Used To Be (Yeti Stage)
10) Black Moth Super Rainbow - Sun Lips (Wookie! Stage)
11) School Of Seven Bells - Connjur (Yeti Stage)
12) Tobacco - Truck Sweat (Dance Tent)
13) Silversun Pickups - Lazy Eye (Sasquatch! Main Stage)
14) Santigold - Lights Out (Sasquatch! Main Stage)
15) BLK JKS - Lakeside (Yeti Stage)
16) The Dutchess And The Duke - Reservoir Park (Yeti Stage)
17) Loch Lomond - Northern, Knees, Trees, and Lights (Yeti Stage)
18) Explosions In The Sky - Your Hand In Mine (Wookie! Stage)
19) Demetri Martin - The Wisdom Song (Feat. Demetri's Mom) (Comedy Tent)

Mp3s(via SendSpace): Sasquatch! 2009: Monday
Lineup: Monday

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sasquatch! 2009 Mix: Day 1 - Saturday

Now that the Sasquatch! 2009 lineup is official and one whole day old, it's time to start getting excited. Enter this mix, which I'll do in 3 parts, sorted by day of performance. Check out some bands that you may not be that familiar with, and get pumped for some acts that you know you're looking forward to. And so, I give you, Sasquatch! 2009: Saturday.

1) Doves - Words (Sasquatch! Main Stage)
2) Shearwater - Red Sea, Black Sea (Wookie! Stage)
3) Dent May & His Magnificent Ukelele - Meet Me In The Garden (Yeti Stage)
4) Kings of Leon - The Bucket (Sasquatch! Main Stage)
5) Animal Collective - Summertime Clothes (Sasquatch! Main Stage)
6) M. Ward - Never Had Nobody Like You (Sasquatch! Main Stage)
7) Passion Pit - I've Got Your Number (Wookie! Stage)
8) Arthur & Yu - There Are Too Many Birds (Yeti Stage)
9) Bon Iver - For Emma (Wookie! Stage)
10) DeVotchKa - The Clockwise Witness (Sasquatch! Main Stage)
11) The Decemberists - O Valencia (Sasquatch! Main Stage)
12) Blind Pilot - Go On, Say It (Wookie! Stage)
13) Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Down Boy (Sasquatch! Main Stage)
14) King Khan & The Shrines - Torture (Wookie! Stage)
15) Owl City - The Saltwater Room (Wookie! Stage)
16) Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band - Anchors Dropped (Yeti Stage)
17) Ra Ra Riot - Each Year (Yeti Stage)
18) Death Vessel - Deep In The Horchada (Yeti Stage)

Mp3s(via SendSpace): Sasquatch! 2009: Saturday
Lineup: Saturday

Monday, February 16, 2009

Take Away Show That Was Not (But Could Be If): Thao w/ the Get Down, Stay Down - Beat

Direct from the Take Away show archives, Thao with the Get Down, Stay Down, performing "Beat," live in Montreal, QC. Unsure if this one will ever make it up to La Blogoteque's main site, but here it is in all it's hi-def glory.

THAO AND THE GET DOWN STAY DOWN :::: BEAT (HEALTH, FIRE & LIFE) from Philippe Tremblay-Berberi on Vimeo.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Beirut - A Sunday Smile (Live on Letterman)

Beirut's return + Letterman's approval + Great Sound (hard to say for one of the late shows, but they accomplished it here) = Greatness.

You can pick up Beirut's new EPs tomorrow at this fine retailer.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

(Sort of) New Ryan Adams EP

From the Ryan Adams Myspace Blarg:

Ryan Adams Valentine’s Day EP available on Itunes on 2/10. Ryan’s best love songs.

Extra Cheese
Answering Bell
My Love For You is Real
Unreleased bonus track Hey There, Mrs. Lovely

In other Ryan Adams news, he apparently quit smoking and learned about the downside of 20 years of smoking from his dentist. True story.

Mp3: Ryan Adams - My Love For You is Real (Live)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Ghosts of Pitchfork Past

Let me first state before writing this that for all the flack Pitchfork takes for being snobby, dismissive, or overly fickle, it is more of a good music source than bad. They deserve a good deal of credit for leading the charge of support behind the rise of acts like Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear, or even Andrew Bird. I know I read it every day, and I bet most people that mock the site do the same. But I digress...

In recent years, it has become apparent that while the credibility and traffic (estimate) of the website seem to be riding a high, acts with less indie cred seem to have effectively disappeared off the site. To put it more concisely, you won't be seeing any Blues Traveler album reviews on Pitchfork anytime soon. A look back, though, shows that Pitchfork had a bit different perspective on things just a few short years ago. This could be indicative of the changing musical landscape, the evolution of particular acts, or of the writers' shifting tastes. It could, though, be a result of the music site's more stringent attempts to be seen as cutting-edge, and ultimately, an insight into their self-consciousness. It's hard to say, especially because their constantly-changing "search" feature rarely yields a full set of results from their massive archive of content.

However, the good people (computer?) over at have a great feature in which you can look back at the history of a website. It lets you read news from historic days, view old site designs, and so forth. Enter Pitchfork, and a world of interesting finds emerges. Check it:

Item A: Canada's Top 25 Albums of All Time

I'm not arguing that this feature is not meant to be funny, or even that it is inaccurate, but I would argue that Pitchfork just wouldn't put themselves out there by posting something like this today. Then again, maybe this is just foreshadowing of the site's current tendency to have reviews that are incongruent with their major lists. They did give this album a 4.2, after all.

Item B: Acknowledgment of
Ben Harper, Days of the New, and Dropkick Murphys Via Reviews

There are some acts that Pitchfork likes to feature by giving them a scathing review, which are usually comical (see: Jet). Most musicians, however, are given what is effectively the silent treatment. Too college-y? No review. Too Nickelback-y? No review. We can mainly be thankful for this, as it saves time scrolling. However, Pitchfork used to actually cover a wider spread of performers for better or for worse. The acts listed above could probably be compared to, say...Jack Johnson, 3 Doors Down, and, well, Dropkick Murphys. All of which haven't gotten the acknowledgment of a review in years, if ever. Would it destroy Pitchfork's credibility if they posted a Jack Johnson album review? Probably not. Does it help their credibility by not posting a Jack Johnson album review? Maybe.

It's hard to answer either way, but basically, I just find the changing climate interesting. Since I've never seen a real discussion of the site, which doesn't allow readers to comment (which I presume is because it views itself as a music site, and not as an interactive blog), I think it's worth a look.

Bonus Item: The Rating System Explanation

10.0: Essential
9.5-9.9: Spectacular
9.0-9.4: Amazing
8.5-8.9: Exceptional; will likely rank among writer's top ten albums of the year
8.0-8.4: Very good
7.5-7.9: Above average; enjoyable
7.0-7.4: Not brilliant, but nice enough
6.0-6.9: Has its moments, but isn't strong
5.0-5.9: Mediocre; not good, but not awful
4.0-4.9: Just below average; bad outweighs good by just a little bit
3.0-3.9: Definitely below average, but a few redeeming qualities
2.0-2.9: Heard worse, but still pretty bad
1.0-1.9: Awful; not a single pleasant track
0.0-0.9: Breaks new ground for terrible

For those readers who may have stumbled upon Pitchfork in more recent times, the reviews can seem oddly specific in their rating. What distinguishes a 7.3 from a 7.6, after all? With a number of different reviewers, how can they have a credible review process that precise? It seems that for a time, although brief, the site did have some sort of explanation as to the meaning of review ratings. Now, however, the process is more cryptic (although the system above is hardly scientific).

You can check out the archive of Pitchforks of yore below.

Wayback Machine:

Monday, January 26, 2009

My Three Favorite Songs of 2009 ( far)

[photo by Sarah Cass, prob. the best band photo-taker around]

Predictable, perhaps. But at least I'm honest about it. Here you go...a half-song sample of one, a high-quality video of the next, and an Mp3 courtesy of Jagjaguar records for the 3rd. Enjoy.

Handsome Furs - Evangeline

Animal Collective - My Girls

Mp3: Bon Iver - Blood Bank
Buy: Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
Buy: Bon Iver - Blood Bank EP
Pre-Order: Handsome Furs - Face Control

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Bran Flakes - What It's All About

Please watch this video. Think Yatta meets Kid Koala.

From the forthcoming album I Have Hands, out on Illegal Art on Feb. 24, 2009.

Video: The Bran Flakes - What It's All About
Mp3: The Bran Flakes - Various Tracks

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Albums of the Year, 2008 Edition

Ok, so it's not a top 10. Not even a top 11. I aimed for 10, ended up with 12. But here they are, my favorite albums of 2009.

One of my favorite developments of 2008 was the continued progress of live performances on the internets. As such, with the top 12 below are some of the best performances from the albums listed.

12) Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer

It's hard to deny that Wolf Parade have their own distinctive sound. It seems that on this album, though, some started wondering if that sound had grown tiresome. To me, At Mount Zoomer, while perhaps lacking the immediate impact of the group's debut album, is a great second album. The single "Language City" remains one of my favorites of the year. You can check the track out over at Sub Pop Records' site.

Mp3: Wolf Parade - Language City

11) Why? - Alopecia

I thought I had essentially written off the marriage of hip-hop and rock to irreconcilable differences after the late 90s brought us some of the most awful music ever. This album makes the case that they may be able to co-exist peacefully after all, if done correctly. Why?'s sound is that of a couple of guys who benefited from growing up in a world where they were exposed to Public Enemy, Pavement, and The Beach Boys. And also probably went to the psychiatrist a lot. Anyway.

Video: Why? - The Vowels pt. 2 (Live)

10) Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

I think young music fans sometimes associate loudness with intensity of performance. I know that personally, I've learned to appreciate that sometimes softer performances can be just as impactful, if not more so, than ones that try and make your ears ring for days. Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago is an album that is very soft, and rather subtle, but is one of the more powerful records of the year. Check out the video below for a sample.
Bon Iver - "For Emma" from MySpace Transmissions

9) The Walkmen - You & Me

One expectation I didn't have for this album before it came out was for it to sort of creep me out. But it does. Oddly, this is a good thing. After you get a track or two in, you get the feeling that you've wandered into an early 20th-century smoky lounge. This world of sound that The Walkmen created for this new album works to great effect, as it draws upon some of the best moments of their earlier work, but puts it into this unique context. If you give the concert below a listen, try "Canadian Girl," a song that exemplifies the album's sound.

Video: The Walkmen - Live in Concert

8) Chad VanGaalen - Soft Airplane

Prior to 2008, I knew Chad VanGaalen primarily through YouTube, where his work had been featured several times (he has animated a number of music videos for past releases). He also stood out because of his unique vocal style. For Soft Airplane's release, VanGaalen animated several short promo videos, each with about a minute long preview of a song from the album. My favorite is the first one, which uses the song "Willow Tree," one of the best songs on the album. Rather than going overboard in terms of production on the track, it is largely focused on the singer's voice and a steady banjo line. You can check out the preview below.

Video: Chad VanGaalen - Soft Airplane Promo 1 (feat. "Willow Tree")

7) Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs

Narrow Stairs starts off with what I think may be Death Cab's best written song to date, "Bixby Canyon Bridge." I'm not entirely sure if I would have thought that before reading this great article in Paste Magazine; it made me interested in the track before I had ever heard it. Essentially, Ben Gibbard took a Jack Keroac-inspired trip in hopes of having a life-changing experience, and to put it simply, ended up disapointed. That trip led to the aforementioned lead-off track, which chronicled Gibbard's emotional let-down. I suppose it's a simple concept for a song, but for such a specific experience, it manages to lend itself as relatable.

Bixby Canyon Bridge

6) Blitzen Trapper - Furr

Folk-influenced music had a great year in '08, and front and center is this release by Blitzen Trapper. The band got a lot of critical buzz in 2007 after releasing Wild Mountain Nation (which incidentally only had a few songs that I really enjoyed), but have started to reach a wider audience after months of touring (including a stretch with Fleet Foxes opening for them in the Spring). Furr is an album that ranges between rock and acoustic folk, but remains consistantly enjoyable throughout. One of the album's standouts is below.

Mp3: Blitzen Trapper - Black River Killer

5) Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Cardinology

Although Ryan Adams has been playing with The Cardinals for awhile now, Cardinology seems to mark a turning point; Adams now is just as much the lead singer for the band as he is a singer with a backing band. The music benefits from this shift, as the moving parts all work together well. Check out an acoustic performance from the band from "Coffee and Cardinals":

4) Islands - Arm's Way

Often times it seems like when a band has a great debut, the sophomore album ends up with better singles, but less overall continuity on the whole (Band of Horses, for instance). With Islands, it almost seems like the reverse. Arm's Way felt like more of a complete album to me than did Return to the Sea (though it did lack a truly great single like RttS's "Rough Gem," which is probably why it didn't quite get the same amount of critical acclaim). Either way, this album was on repeat all year long for me. Second single "Creeper" is below in video form.

Video: Islands - Creeper

3) Thao with the Get Down, Stay Down - We Brave Bee Stings and All

I've gone on quite a bit this year already about these guys and gal, but I would say it's well deserved. Their album is great, their live show is great, and Fall '09 will (likely) be the release of their next full-length. Lots to look forward to with this group.

Mp3: Thao with the Get Down, Stay Down - Yes, So On And So On

2) David Byrne & Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

Please go into this album with no expectations, but please do listen.

Full Album Stream - David Byrne & Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

1) Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

On their MySpace page, under Tour Dates, Fleet Foxes have this entry for next Saturday (seriously):
Upcoming Shows ( view all )
Jan 17 2009 11:30P
Saturday Night Live - scared out of brain Don Pardo’s House, NY
It's hard to imagine a band coming so far in just a year - Exactly 364 days before this upcoming SNL performance, the band was signed to Sub Pop Records to release their first full-length album. That's a scary-fast rise for a folksy band with no real radio-ready singles, but still, a well-deserved trip to the top. Listen below for evidence of pure musical excellence.

Fleet Foxes - A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.