Thursday, August 23, 2007

Concert Review: Modest Mouse and Band of Horses

Well, I unfortunately was denied a pass for my camera to the concert at Coyote's in Louisville, so don't be looking here for any sweet pics. I can, however, provide you with a run-down of some of the highlights from the concert.

Band of Horses

In the midst of many a "Nature Boy" Rick Flair "WHOOOO," Bridwell won over a crowd who mostly showed up for Modest Mouse. They opened with a new song, one that I didn't catch the name of, and followed that up with "The Great Salt Lake," my favorite BOH song. They also played "Ode to the LRC," with a full band. After a few songs, "Our Swords," "Weed Party," "Monsters," and a few others, the band closed with "The Funeral." The crowd loved it enough that Bridwell decided to play a new song from the new album. It was a rather lively song, with lots of honky-tonk piano, and it has me quite excited for the release. Band of Horses has really put together what seems like a solid sound with this new album, and has broadened out their tour roster it seems.

Modest Mouse

Opening up at 9:40 with "Invisible," Modest Mouse had an incredible two hour setlist, the entirety of which I could not keep up with. Highlights included "Bukowski," "Satin In A Coffin," and an (incredible) extended "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes." I had some trouble placing some of the songs, as they played from their entire catalog. I did hear "Trailer Trash" in the midst of some of the newer songs. Off the new CD, my favorite was most definitely "Missed the Boat," and Brock let loose on "Fire It Up." In fact, he kept his techs ridiculously busy keeping his gear straight (especially his mics; I think those fell/were thrown into the crowd multiple times). Brock is a great frontman, and his energy can be near-intimidating at times. Of course, the crowd (and I) loved both "Dashboard" and "Float On" near the end of the set. For the encore, they pulled out a near fifteen minute version of "Spitting Venom" that didn't seem overkill to the crowd at all.

I was rather disappointed in the venue change. Sure, Coyote's has a great atmosphere, and alcohol, but it ironically keeps the crowd separated from the bands with terrible visibility, and a dance floor front and center (with only 500 persons allowed). They had projection screens set up, but a place that small needing projectors should clue you into the problems they have.

UPDATE: Band of Horses has actually released one of the songs from their new album. It's one they played at the concert and I mentioned. It's called "Is There A Ghost".

[mp3] Band of Horses - Is There A Ghost

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hillbilly Hijinks and Hoodwinks

It's that time again. People are filling vacant apartments in Lexington by the hundreds, in preparation for the coming semester. There are even a few people moving into my house, which is great. I've been putting off some updates for far too long, so today brings some wonderful, mostly uncategorizable music. Ranging from true bluegrass, to Americana, to blues and Southern, these bands pull influences from all the great American genres.

The Hackensaw Boys

The Hackensaw Boys are a bluegrass band from Charlottesville, Virginia. Their name is a portmanteau of styles of playing the mandolin and fiddle("Hack" and "Saw"), which in itself is enough to earn them an A in my book. The world can always use more portmanteaus (or is it portmanteaux?). Regardless, the Boys have the old school bluegrass "twang" most newer bands lack. I picked up their most recent album, Look Out, from CD Central, and really couldn't be happier. Most of their music is up-tempo, and their cover of the traditional "Gospel Plow" has some ridiculously fast picking. They are getting ready to stage a European tour this winter, so bluegrass lovers across the way should keep their eyes peeled.

[mp3] The Hackensaw Boys - Jonah

Death By Banjo

Death By Banjo is a collective of learned musicians from Columbus, Ohio, that features prominently in the local scene. Harry over at ThaBombShelter tipped me onto these guys when he uploaded some videos of them playing ComFest '07. They haven't put out any albums or EPs, but they do provide some truly impressive mp3s at their website. Both the quality of the recordings as well as the skill evidenced on them has me eager to see/hear more from these guys. "White Freight Liner" has some great harmonica on it, and comes highly recommended.

home | myspace | buy

[mp3] Death By Banjo - White Freight Liner

Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band

Dodge over at MOKB has once again unearthed a gem of the local Indianapolis music scene. In continuing the metaphor, Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band would probably be considered "in the rough," but that's the way they should stay. Lo-fi and raw, RPBDB creates a truly unique brand of blues. Commanded by Rev. Peyton's powerful voice, they create a sound that should be impossible from a three piece (I honestly didn't believe there were only three of them). Slide guitar, washboards, and drums combine to create a truly big damn sound. The opening to "That Train Song" creates an almost tactile atmosphere. Of note is their live performance on MOKB's Blog Radio.

[mp3] Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band - That Train Song

The Mountain Firework Company

I have alt-gramma, over at Speed of Dark, to thank for introducing me to The Mountain Firework Company (thanks alt-gramma!). In an ironic twist, these guys play music inspired by Appalachian music, which itself was inspired by the music from their native United Kingdom. You can hear the blending of Irish and Scottish accents on their recordings, and I have to say they fit quite well with a mandolin and banjo. I've got two mp3s of songs off of their CD, and if they were on cassette, they'd be worn out by now. I can't believe these guys haven't been signed yet, so best of luck to them. You can buy their CD at their website (mine should be here soon).

[mp3] The Mountain Firework Company - Down In Love

Thursday, August 2, 2007

It's A Nice Day For An Indie Wedding

This week I am in two weddings: my best friend's, and my brother's. It has me in a rather festive mood, and I'm quite happy for them (and their brides), so to celebrate, I made a list of great wedding songs. If you are at the reception, you might get to hear some of them.

  1. Alexi Murdoch - All My Days
  2. Bright Eyes - First Day Of My Life
  3. The Beatles - In My Life
  4. Jack Johnson - Do You Remember
  5. Aimee Mann & Michael Penn - Two Of Us
  6. Coldplay - Til Kingdom Come
  7. Ben Folds - The Luckiest
  8. Jose Gonzalez - Heartbeats
  9. Smashing Pumpkins - Landslide
  10. Ian Love - The Only Night
  11. Rolling Stones - Wild Horses (acoustic)
  12. The Beatles - I Will
  13. David Gray - The One I Love
  14. Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Follow You Into the Dark
  15. Faces - Ooh La La
  16. The Kinks - This Time Tomorrow
  17. Johnny Cash - Gentle On My Mind
  18. Matt Costa - Sunshine
  19. Nick Drake - Pink Moon

Alternatively, you can download the entire zip file, with playlist, right here.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Band of Horses: Take Two

Hairy lead singers play b-ball
Band of Horses has been making waves recently, mostly due to their forthcoming second LP, Cease to Begin. Pitchforkmedia just put up a rather extensive interview with lead singer Ben Bridwell, and by "extensive" I mean "talking about a bunch of crap before finally getting to music."

The short of it:

  • New album to be released October 9
  • First single to most likely be "No One's Gonna Love You"
  • Other confirmed song titles are "Ode To the LRC" and "Window Blues."
  • Besides both having enormous beards, Ben Bridwell and Doug Martsch also play basketball against each other. I'd imagine a huge, sweaty beard is quite the defense.
  • Bag of Choices is a viable alternative name for the band. Along with "Jason."

Here is a ridiculously crappy live video of "Ode to the LRC" (the audio is decent, however, and the song is awesome).

Modest Mouse, Band of Horses, and Love as Laughter showdates:

08-01 Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheatre
08-03 Kansas City, MO - City Market
08-15 Columbus, OH - LC Amphitheater
08-16 Cleveland, OH - Warner Cable Amphitheatre
08-17 Northampton, MA - Pines Theatre
08-18 Mansfield, MA - Tweeter Center
08-19 Philadelphia, PA - Festival Pier
08-21 Louisville, KY - Lousville Gardens
08-22 Nashville, TN - Ryman Auditorium
09-02 Chicago, IL - Charter One Pavilion

[mp3]Band of Horses - The Great Salt Lake
[mp3]Band of Horses - Wicked Gil

[mp3]Doug Martsch - Dream

Sunday, July 15, 2007

My Favorite SNL Musical Performances Of All Time

Saturday Night Live has a history of incredible musical performances. They do lots of things right, that other shows don't, such as correctly mic'ing and mixing everything, and having great camera work. It is incredibly difficult for a band to pull off a truly inspiring and electric show when they are playing to millions of people, yet only have a handful in front of them. Be that as it may, SNL has been host to some absolutely astounding performances. Here are my top 10.

1. Radiohead - Idioteque

I like Radiohead a lot. OK Computer was my first Radiohead album, and after listening to it, I immediately went back and bought The Bends and Pablo Honey. When they came out with Kid A and Amnesiac I was pretty disappointed. It took me a very long time to come around to those albums, but now I love them just as much as the others. This performance made me begin to see them in that light.

2. Neil Young - Keep On Rocking In The Free World

I'm not old enough to have seen this live and appreciate it, but thanks to the intertubes I can appreciate it now. I really wasn't exposed to Mr. Young until a few years ago, and even then I favored his folkier stuff ("Old Man," "The Needle and the Damage Done," etc). This performance changed that. This is true Rock N Roll. Incredibly intense.

3. Pearl Jam - Not For You / Daughter

My brother told me about these performances when he first played Pearl Jam for me. I can still remember him hooking up his Discman to our stereo and playing Vitalogy. This was Pearl Jam's second appearance on SNL, and this one came only 8 days after Kurt Cobain committed suicide. Pearl Jam dedicated this performance to him.

4. U2 - I Will Follow

I got to see this one live. Say what you want about Bono or even U2, but you can't deny they are incredible live. After their 2 performances (I don't even remember what they were), the cast did their closing wave, until Bono got up, and they sang their first hit, "I Will Follow." One of the most awesome parts about this is the shots of the cast watching the show. You can tell they are just enthralled.

5. Simon & Garfunkel - The Boxer

This was the second SNL ever, during the 1975 first season, and it set the bar incredibly high for musical performances on the show. It featured a still record number of performances--eleven. This was only the second time Simon and Garfunkel had played together since their 1970 split.

6. Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit

Nirvana blew up ridiculously fast, and their first appearance on SNL in 1992 was controversial, as was pretty much everything they did. Their appearances on SNL are some of the best recordings of their performances. Which is great, because they are also some of their best performances.

7. Arcade Fire - Keep the Car Running / Intervention

Arcade Fire played SNL after I had only been listening to Neon Bible for a few weeks at most. Lucky for me, they played my two favorite songs from the album. This performance made waves because of the guitar smashing at the end, and whether it was presumptuous; which is sad, because the songs are near perfect replicas and possibly better than their studio counterparts.

8. Smashing Pumpkins - Bullet With Butterfly Wings

Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness was an album that shifted my entire musical outlook. I still remember sneaking into my brothers room and listening to those CDs on his Discman. It wasn't until I was older that I could expand into some of the Pumpkins earlier works, but that album will forever be my favorite. This performance is pretty stunning, and probably contains much of what people either love or hate about the Pumpkins.

9. The Beastie Boys and Elvis Costello - Radio, Radio

This is a rather interesting show, and when I saw it I had no clue what was happening (I saw it as a re-run on Comedy Central). After looking into it further, "Radio, Radio" had gotten Elvis Costello banned from appearing on SNL many years before. Besides that history, this represents two entire worlds of music colliding, and both the Beasties and Costello look like they are having an awesome time. A great performance.

10. Beck - Clap Hands

This is just awesome. I heard Beck did this exact same piece on his tour that year, and I'm glad he did it on SNL as well. That way, I get to see it.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Band of Mouses

Band of Horses and Modest Mouse are teaming up for a few dates this summer, and lucky me, they are playing at Louisville Gardens. I so have tickets. The last time I was at the Gardens was to see MMJ and Wax Fang on their Thanksgiving Eve show (which was amazing), and it looks like I won't be disappointed this time either.

In other news BoH just finished up their sophomore album, and are looking at a release date of 10/07, should all go well. And for your listening pleasure, here is an mp3 of Band of Horses covering (and covering well) The New Year's "The End's Not Near" (via igif)

[mp3] Band of Horses - The End's Not Near

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bluegrass does a body good

Isn't there already a post here like this? Yes. And there will be more. That is because, as a genre, bluegrass (including non-traditional bluegrass) frickin' rocks. As a grass, bluegrass is pretty cool too. Also as a state.

Speaking of the Bluegrass, there are some amazing bands and mp3 blogs that come from here (that does not include this one, obviously. yet). It's something we don't really get credit for, but it is high time we did. Music blogs are, in a way, permeated by the state of Kentucky. Yes, I do realize the irony of that statement; yet, 'tis true. Here, I'll prove it.

One of the biggest, best, and favoritest music blogs on the face of the planet is My Old Kentucky Blog, run by the down-to-earth Dodge. Although Dodge doesn't live in Kentucky currently, he did. Born and grown in Louisville, D-man originally created the blog as "an homage to Kentucky as well as music." Hence the name. Foregoing the pretense and elitism that plagues independent music reviewers, and simply offering up his genuine opinion on what he likes, Dodge has managed to build a large audience and become a frontrunner of the Era Bloggus Audio. You should also check out his Sirius radio show (along with fellow bloggers), and his always solid Cover Project features. Plus, who doesn't like Colonel Sanders photoshopped onto unsuspecting victims?

You Ain't No Picasso is run by Matt Jordan, UK student extraordinaire. Besides running an incredibly popular blog, Matt also works at Lexington's own independent record store, CD Central; DJing the UK college radio station WRFL; and finds time to photograph concerts for Pitchfork. YANP's tastes run a bit on the purer indie side of music. YANP is, I think, one of the major reasons Lexington gets some pretty awesome concerts (be sure not to miss the YANP Anniversary Concert at the Dame featuring Page France, Petticoat Petticoat, and Noisycrane 6/26/07), and why some local bands get great exposure. YANP does some great festival coverage, as well as local concert reviews. Be sure not to miss them.

Another UK student, Nathaniel Gravely is one-half of the stellar I Guess I'm Floating team. A huge blog, with a layout as sweet as their content, IGIF is my defacto blog for up to the minute announcements. Between the two of them, Nathaniel and Connor pretty much cover the entire spectrum. I don't know which one of them creates the banners for their posts, but they make me pretty jealous. They've got some of the best round-up posts out there. Plus, you know, pretty good taste in music.

See? I told you so. I'm sure there are many more blogs from the Commonwealth out there, but these are the "Heavy Hitters." Now, onto bluegrass music (well, kinda).


My good friend Corey Winton turned me on the the Avett Brothers (AY-vet). They are a North Carolina band formed by, well, the Avett brothers--Scott and Seth. After their punk-rock band fell apart, they changed directions completely and delved into alt-country and bluegrass. In 2002 they added double bassist Bob Crawford, during the recording of their first album, Country Was. Since then they have been releasing entire albums every year except 2005, most recently Emotionalism in 2007. Although not bluegrass in the traditional sense, there is no mistaking its influence on their sound. These guys are playing the Dame here in Lexington on 7/26/07, so mark your calendar and show up. To give you a taste here is a video of them playing "Paranoia In Bb Major" on Conan.

[mp3] Avett Brothers - Talk On Indolence

Another band that has been making waves recently is Blitzen Trapper, a seven piece group from Seattle. Adamantly independent, they've self-released all three of their albums. Their most recent offering, Wild Mountain Nation, is featured on Pitchfork and was highly recommended by MOKB. They've really started to pull the strings together and tighten up their sound on this album. "Wild Mountain Nation" is pure Southern rock with a heavy dose of Steve Miller Band. I seriously cannot stop listening to this song. The fact that they can so easily master and blend these genres is astounding.

[mp3] Blitzen Trapper - Wild Mountain Nation

Rocky Votolato is a folk singer/songwriter who released his fifth studio album this year, The Brag and Cuss. I really haven't gotten to listen to him as much as I would like, but what little I have heard has greatly impressed me. His music evokes images of backporches and rocking chairs.

[mp3] Rocky Votolato - Postcard from Kentucky

Next on the agenda: music and concerts in the Bluegrass.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Icky, White Thump-Stripes

Jack and Meg White are bringing it with the new album, Icky Thump. The album continues the tradition of the like-named first single, as I, and probably countless others had hoped. However, it still won't be what you are expecting. The entire album has a few common themes threaded throughout. For example, Irish (sometimes punk) pipes, organs, talking-blues, and lilting Irish melodies. All of these, of course, are put through the Jack White musical filter and come out as something truly unique and special. The medley of "Prickly Thorn, but Sweetly Worn" and "St. Andrew (This battle Is In the Air)" is very heavy on the Celtic influence, with pipes all over the place. Other songs, like "Rag & Bone" and "Catch Hell Blues" continue the White Stripes tradition of melding blues and rock with scratchy, unrefined distortion and simple, plodding beats. Other songs break the mold, such as "Conquest" (a Corky Robbins cover) with its Latin horn section and "Effect & Cause," which is a simple acoustic song that sheds much of the patented White Stripes noise.

This album, I think, is one of their strongest. I'm going to buy it on the 19th, and I suggest you do to.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Hard Rock Gets Good

Hard Rock is making a comeback, and no, it isn't in the form of Cafes.

The White Stripes have a new album, Icky Thump, coming out June 19th. Their first single, also titled "Icky Thump," is a much heavier sound than much of their previous work. Think "Blue Orchid" from Get Behind Me Satan. As the British DJ that debuted the song said, "White Stripes - Icky Fump. Heafvy. Very heafvy, man." It remains to be seen whether the rest of the album maintains this sound or not, but one can always hope.

[mp3] The White Stripes - Icky Fump

The Silversun Pickups have begun to have mainstream success, a full year after their first album's release date (Carnavas in '06). They opened for Snow Patrol on their recent nationwide tour, and their single, "Lazy Eye" hit #5 on the Billboard Rock charts. Imagine my surprise when I heard it on ZRock 103.3.

[mp3] The Silversun Pickups - Well Thought Out Twinkles

The Whigs are a band hailing from the music-rich Athens, Georgia. They've had an LP out for awhile now, Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip, but they recently signed to ATO Records (that would be fellow Athenian Dave Matthews' record label) who re-released the album to a much wider audience. I like the album, it continues a very rich garage rock tradition.

[mp3] The Whigs - Violet Furs

The Smashing Pumpkins (actually just drummer Jimmy Chamberlain and Drama-Queen-Himself, Mr Billy Corgan) are recording a new album, Zeitgeist. The lineup is, as some have called it, Zwan 2.0. I'm cool with that. I liked Zwan's album, but I wasn't surprised when Corgan broke it up, as he seems to be very hard to work with in a creative setting. They released the first single, "Tarantula," and it's pretty good. The chorus (and vocals) have a distinct Zwan-ish feel, but the guitars are quite a bit heavier and distorted than anything Zwan tried. Jimmy Chamberlain is a great drummer, and I think a lynch-pin of the Pumpkins' success (and Corgan's for that matter). Whenever the Smashing Pumpkins or Billy Corgan attempts something without him I just have to shake my head. Their record label is currently going nuts trying to keep the song on lockdown, so no dice on an mp3.

Velvet Revolver is coming out with another album, and it is probably destined for success, just like their first. It's called Libertad, and the first single is "She Builds Quick Machines" (who do they have in charge of writing titles, anyway?). I'm sure it will be all over mainstream radio in no time, played into oblivion, and then never heard from again. At least, that's how things seem to go nowadays.

[video] Velvet Revolver - She Builds Quick Machines (Warning: contains futuristic western craziness)

Monday, March 5, 2007

More Bluegrass/Folk Than You Can Throw Rocks At

Well, I've been on a pretty strong bluegrass binge lately, and have uncovered some good bands/songs. Here's a little list for you that will definitely get your hillbilly blood pumping:

Samamidon - They've got a pretty soft sound, and interesting lyrics. Plus they use the banjo well, and everything could use some good banjo playing. "Tribulation" has some pretty amazing piano playing as well.

[mp3] Samamidon - This Chicken Proved Falsehearted
[mp3] Samamidon - Tribulation

Doug Martsch - This song comes from Jack Johnson's surf documentary A Brokedown Melody. About half-way through, the bass kicks in and the song speeds up. The slide guitar on this song will make you want to slap your knee and stomp your foot.

[mp3] Doug Martsch - Heart (Things Never Said)

Pete Droge - This is an amazing song, and you really should give it a listen. I Guess I'm Floating clued me in to this song, and I'm grateful, because it is amazing (I know I'm repeating myself. Give the song a listen and prove me wrong). Pete formed a "super group", The Thorns, along with Matthew Sweet ('90s geek rock hero) and Shawn Mullins (don't worry, I don't know who he is either). The Thorns didn't turn out to be a huge success, but Pete's 2006 album, Under the Waves, which takes its name from this song, is solid. You can hear more from it at his myspace.

[mp3] Pete Droge - Under the Waves

Jayber Crow - Jayber Crow is named after an amazing book by Kentucky's own Wendell Berry (I suggest you read it). They've as of yet only released an EP, The Farmer and the Nomad, but they've managed to pack a few powerful songs on it. They play a mandolin, guitar and tambourine. Their music keeps bringing to mind the farms and country roads of where I grew up. They currently have only toured the Midwest, but I would definitely catch their show if they came around here.

[mp3] Jayber Crow - The Farmer and the Nomad
[mp3] Jayber Crow - The News About Michael

Old Crow Medicine Show - Finally, there is OCMS. This is a true bluegrass band--there is lots of fiddle-playin', foot-stomping music from them. They've also got that classic twang in the vocals that characterizes bluegrass. This song, "Wagon Wheel," takes its chorus from "Rock Me Mama" a bootleg recording by Bob Dylan.

[mp3] Old Crow Medicine Show - Wagon Wheel

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Crooked Still & Alexi Murdoch: Folk music that doesn't make you want to drown yourself

Crooked Still is part of a new breed of bluegrass bands. Unorthodox, alternative, what have you--they draw on a multitude of influences to produce a unique sound and and approach to some bluegrass classics. The band consists of a banjo (Greg Liszt), cello (Rushad Eggleston), double-bass (Corey DiMario) and guitar/vocals (Aoife O'Donovan.) Yeah, that is about as Irish a name as you can get. Although that seems like a rather strange set of instruments for a bluegrass quartet, they manage quite well. Rushad has a percussive, almost slapping style of play that plays well off of both the bass rhythms and the banjo rolls. Greg Liszt is an incredibly talented banjoist, probably in the top 10 in the world. Anyway, they stick to a set of more traditional bluegrass songs, unlike Nickel Creek, but they are incredibly innovative in their musical interpretation of them. Check out their myspace, and listen to "Mountain Jumper" as well as "Wind and Rain" (it has a fiddle part.)

To give you an idea of just how awesome they are live, here is a video of them playing "Orphan Girl" at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Be sure to keep an eye on Rushad.

I first heard of them when they played Woodsongs in 2006, along with Tony Trischka (another amazing banjoist). The podcast of that show is available here, and I highly recommend it. Liszt and Trischka have a crazy duet.

Alexi Murdoch is a folk singer/songwriter similar to Nick Drake. He's from Scotland, and you can hear it in his voice. In fact, I think that is what I like most about him. You can hear how he forms his words. He has an album out, Time Without Consequence, which has significant influences from blues and jazz, especially in the instruments surrounding the guitar. He just played Headliners in Louisville, which I missed, unfortunately. Here is a video of him playing my favorite song from his album, "All My Days" on Carson Daly.

Also, here is an mp3 of another song from his album, "Song For You." The whole album is this good, actually, so I recommend that you buy it.

[mp3] Alexi Murdoch - Song For You

Friday, February 2, 2007

2007: The Year In Preview

Well, 2007 is officially 1/12th over, and it is definitely off to a strong start; and all indicators point to it staying that way. So, just for you, here is a list of some things to look forward to this year.

The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
The Shins' primary songwriter, James Mercer, weaves an astounding dreamscape on this album. By building on songs such as "The Past and Pending" and "Those to Come" from their previous work, they have achieved a dreamy journey Lewis Carrol would be proud of. "Red Rabbits," "Sleeping Lessons," and "A Comet Appears" are almost magical in quality. "Phantom Limb" and "Australia" are some of the best pop rock songs since the Beach Boys (whose harmonies both songs are reminiscent of). Despite all of the bloggers and naysayers complaints about Zach Braff, the Shins write incredibly catchy music. I don't know if these songs "will change your life," but they are definitely a good listen.

[mp3] The Shins - Phantom Limb

Explosions in the Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone (2/20)
I didn't really listen to Explosions much until late last year, as I had always been somewhat turned off by their lack of lyrics. I had been missing out. All of a Sudden could definitely be considered a crowning achievement. Their musicianship, and more importantly, their ability to control the emotion of a song has grown tremendously. On this album they make much more use of the piano than previously, which is a good thing. "It's Natural to be Afraid," a 13 minute opus, is the centerpiece of the album, and emphasizes the fact that Explosions share more in common with classical music than with contemporary rock (in my opinion, that is a very, very good thing).

[mp3] Explosions In the Sky - Welcome, Ghosts

The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible (3/6)
In their Sophomore release, the Canuks with the Hooks (tm, me), prove that even though a successful follow-up to a breakthrough album is hard to pull off, it is most definitely possible. And it's not the same, old stuff they did on Funeral; their sound has evolved quite a bit. Musically, they've expounded on their use of strings, and various other instruments (mandolin, xylophone, organ, hurdy-gurdy. Yes, a hurdy-gurdy). "Keep the Car Running" is my current favorite, due to its awesome mandolin part and catchy refrain. "(Antichrist Television Blues)" is essentially a short story, one which I haven't exactly been able to make out fully, but the sheer volume of words in the song is pretty ridiculous (and interesting). If you haven't heard any of their stuff, they are similar to Anathallo and Sufjan Stevens, at least in the sense that they have a multitude of able musicians on stage that switch instruments as required. This is a band I definitely want to see live.

[mp3] Arcade Fire - Intervention

Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah - Some Loud Thunder (2/5)
CYHSY's first album was groundbreaking for a variety of reasons, although few of them were musical. They self-produced, -recorded, -promoted, and -distributed their album. That's not an easy feat. Musically, they pull heavy influence from eclectic bands like CAKE and Radiohead. I really liked that album, at least in small doses. Whenever I came back to listen to it, I was surprised by the catchiness of many of the songs, despite the almost grating vocals of the lead singer (Alec Ounsworth). Unfortunately for me, their second album builds on (what I view as) the bands deficiencies. Namely, disjointed song writing, inaccessible vocals, and esoteric mixing (some songs seem to possess cacophony solely for the purpose of making the song hard to enjoy). For me, this album is a major disappointment; instead of embracing the things I loved most about their music, they seem to have forgotten them in a push to become even more aloof and exclusive. It's a sad thing, really, because they possess an uncanny ability to write infectious melodies and rhythms.

[mp3] CYHSY - Underwater (You and Me)

Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (3/20)
The indie veterans are coming out with the follow-up to their major label, mainstream breakthrough album Good News. Not much has been released on this album, except for the fact that they have collaborated with James Mercer (of the Shins) on a few songs. "Dashboard" is the only released song from the album, and it is just as good as you would expect.

[mp3] Modest Mouse - Dashboard

Wilco - Sky Blue Sky (5/15)
The guys are back in the studio, with their first offering since A Ghost Is Born in '04. I don't really need to say much about this one, because, well, it's Wilco. They really can't help but make good music.
other albums of note scheduled to be released this year

Bright Eyes
The Postal Service
Sigur Ros
Jose Gonzalez
The Smashing Pumpkins (yes, they're reuniting)
Band of Horses
Jimmy Eat World
Queens of the Stone Age
The Doves
Fountains of Wayne
Iron & Wine

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Wilco EP

Well, thanks to a heads up from Fuel/Friends, I downloaded Wilco's More Like the Moon EP from their website. It is, apparently, a bunch of B-sides from the YHF sessions. Pretty awesome of Wilco to just give stuff away like that. It's definitely worth the download, if just for the last three songs.

1. Camera
2. Handshake Drugs
3. Woodgrain
4. A Magazine Called Sunset
5. Bob Dylan's 49th Beard
6. More Like the Moon

As per your request...

A few of you asked me for the track listings to some mix CDs that I gave out. I know just how infuriating it is to not know who you are listening to, so, for your reading and listening pleasure, they are as follows:

New Music Vol. 2

1. Band of Horses - The Funeral
2. Band of Horses - The Great Salt Lake
3. The Shins - Australia
4. The Shins - Phantom Limb
5. Silversun Pickups - Melatonin
6. Silversun Pickups - Lazy Eye
7. TV on the Radio - Wolf Like Me
8. The Slip - Children of December
9. The Slip - Airplane/Primitive
10. Lucero - I Can Get Us Out of Here
11. Matt Pond PA - The Trees and the Wild
12. Doug Martsch - Heart (Things Never Shared)
13. Bishop Allen - Things Are What You Make of Them
14. Tapes 'n Tapes - Insistor
15. Sea Wolf - Black Dirt
16. Margot & the - Skeleton Key
Nuclear So and So's
17. The Decemberists - The Crane Wife 3

Winter Mix

1. Benoit Pioulard - Palimend
2. Margot & the Nuclear - Skeleton Key
So and So's
3. The Velvet Underground - Sunday Morning
4. Ian Love - The Only Night
5. Matt Costa - Cold December
6. Badly Drawn Boy - Silent Sigh
7. Jars of Clay - Little Drummer Boy
8. The Shins - Red Rabbits
9. Sufjan Stevens - That Was the Worst Christmas Ever
10. The Butterfly Explosion - Car Park
11. Matt Pond PA - Holiday Road
12. Bright Eyes - First Day of My Life
13. Nick Drake - 'Cello Song
14. The Slip - Suffocation Keep
15. The Lucksmiths - From Macaulay Station
16. Kings of Convenience - Know How
17. Matt Pond PA - Snow Day