While I've heard of Okkervil River, I can't say I've heard them much. I'd heard comparisons of them to Conner Oberst and as Oberst is like nails on a chalkboard to me, I wasn't going to willingly subject my tender eardrums to that.
But in the midst of doing some research on the Wrens for our interview this weekend, I'm kicking myself for not doing my own due diligence. (For those that don't know, Wrens guitarist/singer Charles Bissel has a few ties to Will Sheff and company. And yes I plan to ask Bissel about it all.) I love any band that can effectively tie two great tastes together, and in OR's case, it's a dynamic combination of punk and folk. How they meld each of these styles both collectively and individually throughout a single record is really something. Lead singer Will Sheff's voice is one that, depending on the song, can cut right to the center of your core (in a good way not in a whiny Oberst way).
Recently back from the land down under, the River's lovely and passionate sounds will be wafting through the ears of western US and Canada this summer. Tour includes six dates with Wilco.
June 14: Bonnaroo- The Other Tent, Manchester, TN
June 25: Wiltern Theatre w/ Wilco, Los Angeles, CA
June 26: The Mountain Winery w/ Wilco, Saratoga, CA
June 27: Greek Theatre w/ Wilco, Berkeley, CA
June 28: Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena w/Wilco, Stateline, NV
June 30: Britt Pavilion w/ Wilco, Jacksonville, OR
July 03: Red Rocks Amphitheatre w/ Wilco, Morrison, CO
July 10: Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa, ON
July 11: Winnipeg Folk Festival, Winnipeg, MB
They'll also be recording an Austin City Limits performance on June 18.
Give a Listen: For Real-Okkervil River
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
One of our west coast favorites around here, The Henry Clay People, put together an acoustic video of one of their newer songs, "Hand on My Shoulder."
Monday, May 25, 2009
In my time of writing this little forum, I've come across a few writers of other sites who just get "it," the "it" just being an honest understanding of one's relationship with music, and often capture it with succinct and/or beautiful prose. Greg over at Captains Dead is someone like this, and as such, I've been reading him now for years. In a recent post he commented on talking music with those folks who don't share anywhere near the same level of music geekdom that he possesses. It's so fantastic and true I wanted to share it here...
to me, there is nothing more awkward than talking about music with someone that’s really not into music they way i am. this is a character defect of mine that i am fully aware of. its just really hard for me to bullshit about bands or music that i dont like without wanting to be rude, and i dont like being rude. well, not so much rude as derogatory to whatever music they hold dear.
i was out, not too long ago, sitting by myself, having a few drinks @ 45 tchoup and as the bar filled up some dude who looked seemingly cool, sat right beside me. unless your a total fuckin anti-social alcoholic, just there for the beer, your bound to end up talking to someone. typically the conversation starts off innocently enough filled with what you do, where you live, etc and then as the beers progress the convo turns to alien abduction, 9/11 conspiracy theories, the state of political unrest in kenya, etc. i dont really ever talk about music unless someone else brings it up first, or i know for damn sure that we will be on the same or similar wavelength. long and short of it is this dude mentioned something about going to see a show, that night, and i having the inquiring mind asked “oh, who?” honestly i cant remember who it was, some local band, but he went on and on about em, and then he hit me with the dreaded question, “what is your favorite song?” this is just me, but i rarely think about this question, cause im an album guy. the bands/artists that i, and presumably you too, like make records, they dont make hit singles with 10 other crappy songs on an album. still i felt compelled/obligated to answer his question. i thought about it for a minute, had a few sips of beer and proclaimed that the drive by trucker’s “never gonna change” is my absolute favorite song. he had never heard of said band, or song. it was really like deer in the headlights at that point, but i felt the need to get into details with him. man, i was on fire, also pretty buzzed. i was getting all deep and shit on his ass, but the blank stare and polite nodding was all i could get out of him. i went on for about 15-20 minutes and two beers just on this song. what it all boiled down to is that its just a bad ass song. that actually may have been part of my closing argument. its true though, everything from the lyrics to the 3 guitar attack make it the perfect song, in my book. listen to it with head phones on and try and pay attention to the whirling dervish like guitars. the only thing i would change, and jason does change it live, is instead of “I wouldn’t have trouble with a piss test; only problem is my bad left knee,” i like “I wouldn’t have trouble with a piss test; only problem is my god damn knees.” i know im weird, but i think it adds a greater sense desperation, regret and tension.
We are profoundly saddened to report that our friend died in his sleep last night. Jay was a beautiful human being who will be missed. (Source)The LA Times chimes in here.
A couple weeks back, Bennett announced a lawsuit against Jeff Tweedy for royalties when Bennett was with Wilco. Bennett's Wikipedia page said this came out after he publicly announced "that he needed hip replacement surgery which he could not afford due to lack of health insurance." Hip replacement at 45, wtf?
Bennett's first solo record after Wilco, The Palace At 4am (Part I) is lovely and definitely worth a listen.
Give a Listen: My Darling (live, Cincinnati, OH, 11.5.99)-Wilco
Thursday, May 21, 2009
It should have been no surprise to me when Henry Clay People lead singer and guitarist Joey Siara told me he was also a fan of The Wrens. A Wrens show is a reminder of what a great live show should be: loud and intense, the kind where you find yourself swept up and dancing before your brain catches on. And that's what a HCP show is like as well. But where the Wrens yell from the darker side of things, HCP comes at it with a wry grin and an "all for one" attitude. To HCP, we all may be heading down financially, emotionally, and romantically, but we're in it together. So let's have a beer and rock the fuck out as we fall.
Their recent opening slot for Ben Harper at the 930 Club went much like when they opened for The Airborne Toxic Event in March at the Black Cat in terms of showing that not all opening bands are created equal. The Ben Harper audience never knew what hit them.
HCP did start off a bit sluggish. It could have been nerves because the 930 was one of the biggest venues they've ever played; or just sluggish because Harper added them as the opener just days before, which meant HCP had to drive cross country from Los Angeles over the weekend to make the start of the tour on Monday in DC.
But it didn't last long. The set was filled with many songs from their forthcoming record ("The Switch Kids," an homage to a fellow Silver Lake-ian band, Le Switch, really stands out, as does "Something in the Water"), and a few covers sprinkled in for flavor (including Mott the Hoople's "Roll Away the Stone"). This is a band that could teach a class on stage presence. It's a rare talent for a band to grab hold of a new crowd the way that HCP does, going from polite disinterested applause in the beginning to an audience unified in following Siara's lead to yell the "1, 2, 3, 4" count-off to a song about half way through. But because their music is so damn catchy, and because Siara is so damn charming as a front man, after awhile the crowd chatter stops, and the applause after each song gets louder and louder.
By the time they ended their set with a mash-up that started with Operation Ivy's "Knowledge," slammed into a medley of Lou Reed ("Walk on the Wild Side"), The Faces ("Oh La La"), The Who ("Baba O'Riley"), and ended with The Rolling Stones "You Can't Always Get What You Want," Siara had the sold-out crowd singing the refrain at the top of their lungs. While it's true you can't always get what you want, you do get what you need at a Henry Clay People show; you get a reminder of just how good a live show can be.
Looking for something to do Friday night? During SXSW this year, I caught a band called The Japanese Motors. Mixing a gritty Lower East Side NY sound into surf rock, their track "Single Fins and Safety Pins" caught my ears immediately. They're coming to the east coast Friday to play the "Tux with Chucks" shindig in NYC at Studio B in Brooklyn with The Crocodiles. The video for "Single Fins" is kinda cheesy (and would, frankly, turn me off if I'd not heard them before), so what I give you instead is the video below. It also includes a little background on the lead singer, Al Knost, who's a professional surfer off-stage. Knost is an energetic frontman, and what you'll notice is the way he moves on a surf board is very similar to the way he moves around onstage, super fluid. You'll definitely be moved to move during this live show.
For you kids on the west coast, the Motors are doing a Monday night residency at the Echo throughout July.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Ok, I admit, I wasn't knocked out by Springsteen and the E Street Band's Working on a Dream (the lyrics in "Queen of the Supermarket" alone made my stomach kinda turn). But there were one or two on a hefty repeat for awhile (The Wrestler being one...it just killed me with its minimalist beauty). Another was "Surprise, Surprise." Poppy in the vein of The Raspberries (who are, coincidentally, a big Springsteen influence), it's a song that could force a smile out of even the crankiest of souls.
Someone took the song and ran with it, creating this video. It's awful yes, but I promise you'll chuckle...the kid's enthusiasm is infectious. And if you watch the "proper" version below it, you'll see the parody isn't that far off.
This was sent from a friend attending last night's Green Day show at the 350-capacity Bowery Ballroom in NYC. "Once in a lifetime show," he said. "Fans were in awe that they were seeing a stadium sized act in such a tiny club."
The NY Times reviewed the show here.
Give a Listen: American Idiot (live in Tokyo)-Green Day
The always entertaining Go Fug Yourself posted this today: Rivers Cuomo wearing a leopard-print Snuggie as stage wear. A Snuggie. Friends, band members, countrymen, lend me your ears, this is not a good look. Ever. Not even John Tesh would wear this onstage.
Monday, May 18, 2009
We've been cooped up inside Locksley HQ for far too long, and like any other caged beast, must roam free from time to time. We got our feet wet (soaked, actually) at The Bamboozle in New Jersey, and found our insatiable hunger to bring you new music was not to be held back any longer. Thus, we present to you:
430 N. Lake Street Park, Port Washington, WI
THE MAJESTIC THEATRE
New York, NY
THE BELL HOUSE
Seems they're still working up the list of artists but it's great to see that the Monolith Festival at Red Rocks in Denver, CO is on again this year. There was talk last year that it wouldn't return as it wasn't a high-dollar generating venture, so it's great to see they made it work.
As many of you may know, this year we booked many of the artists directly from your suggestions and comments via the Monolith Facebook Group, making the 2009 MONOLITH Festival a true festival for the fans. We'd like to thank everyone for being part of the process, and we are confident that you will be excited by many of our acts -- as you actually helped pick them!
Look for the new festival website in early June, complete with ticket information and on-sale dates.
The first act announced today was Starfucker (meh), but it's still early. Last year, they had awesome bigger acts like TVOTR, and many smaller more indie acts like ATE and A Place to Bury Strangers, among others. (You can read my coverage here: VIP Party, Day 1, Day 2.)
I have a special place in my heart for Monolith as that's where I met a bizillion great fellow writerly types last year (MOKB, Mr. Picasso, Heather B, Ryan, J and his rock mayhem, DDE, among others), and started my little photography addiction, so I'm definitely hoping to return. You coming with?
Friday, May 15, 2009
Lights That Flash in the Evening: Show Photos of Eulogies, Great Northern, The Dears @ Black Cat (5-7-09)
It was a shame so few came out to see Eulogies, Great Northern, and The Dears last Thursday at Black Cat. But those of us who did got the good kind of brain tinnitus, that of super catchy music that kept ringing through the grey matter long after.
I knew nothing of The Dears, enjoyed the little bit I caught of Eulogies when I saw them at SXSW this year, but Great Northern is the one I've loved for months now. Their fab new release, Remind Me Where the Light Is, has been banging around my brain since I got it back in February, and I was thrilled I could finally catch them in a proper venue. Not that they weren't good at SXSW, they were; but, to me anyway, experiencing the dark and desperate passion that permeates "Remind Me" just fits more a club bathed in darkness than outdoors at 2:30 pm on a bright and sunny afternoon.
See the rest of the show photos here.
(For more on the show specifics, the talented William Alberque did a nice writeup of the show here.)
Give a little, get a lot back. Paste Magazine has always been pretty top-notch (its encouragement of Scarlett Johansson by giving her the cover aside of course). Plus mp3s for free from artists you really like for even the smallest donation, who can turn that down?
Dear Paste readers,
We write this letter with great appreciation for all you’ve done for Paste, as well as sorrow that we need to come to you and ask for further support. The economy has taken its toll on Paste, and we need your help to continue.
As the global recession has continued, many of you have written us (especially as ad pages shrunk) to say, “If you ever need help, let us know.” That day has come.
Today, we are launching the Campaign to Save Paste to raise money to keep Paste coming to your mailboxes and computer screens. If you are in a position to give even a little, please consider donating. As thanks for your generosity, over 70 amazing artists (including The Decemberists, Neko Case, Bob Mould, Cowboy Junkies, Indigo Girls, The Jayhawks, Brandi Carlile, John Roderick of The Long Winters, Patterson Hood, The Avett Brothers and Josh Ritter—with more to come) have gathered and donated rare & exclusive MP3s for all who join us in the campaign. Here's what artists are saying about why Paste should be saved.
As a completely independent company, Paste has struggled for the past nine months as advertisers have decided to wait out the recession. As most of you realize, magazines are heavily subsidized by advertising. Industry experts estimate that an average subscription for a monthly publication would cost $60-$80 per year without advertising support.
But last month was brutal. Cash received unexpectedly reached an all-time low, and turned a tough situation into a short-term crisis.
Long-term, Paste will emerge in good shape. Even with the fall-off at the end of the year, 2008 was our best year yet—print subscribers, print ads, online readers and online advertising were all at record levels. Readers (print and online) remain strong. And new advertisers have come on board even in the recession, with more ready when their advertising budgets come back.
In the meantime, we’ve adjusted our business to weather this storm. We’ve cut costs, and we developed a robust online business that’s among the best in the industry. Fundamentally, we’re in good shape and won’t need another appeal down the road. But it’s taken us until this point to get there—leaving us critically low on cash, without some large corporation behind us to bridge the gap.
We’ll make it through this short-term economic crisis—but it’s only with your help. Our fate is (and has been and always will be) in your hands. Big-time investors are not “in the game” right now—but readers can rise up and “invest” in Paste’s future. Will you be a part?
We appreciate all of your support so far—everyone who’s subscribed, given a gift, or even read a story online or opened a newsletter. It’s all enabled us to make it this far. Now, we humbly ask you to consider giving a little more.
It doesn’t take much. Every little bit helps and you can be a part of continuing our efforts to help you find signs of life in music, film and culture. If $1 (yes, one dollar) came in from everyone on our e-mail lists (or $10 from 10% or $100 from 1%), we’ll reach our goal and emerge from this recession as a stronger magazine and website. While we’re not a non-profit (this isn’t a tax-deductible gift), know that every dollar you give goes into keeping Paste alive and, ultimately, making it even better.
While you’re at it, also let us know what more you’d like to see from Paste. What should we do (or do better) online to help you discover new music, film and more? As advertising comes back and the magazine thickens, what would you like to see in print?
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With our sincerest thanks,
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PS. As thanks for your help, a number of our favorite musicians and labels have donated free rare & exclusive MP3s (from artists including She & Him, Arrested Development, Shawn Mullins, Samantha Crain, State Radio, Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3, Rogue Wave, Passion Pit, Over the Rhine, The Minus 5 and more) for everyone who donates. And as more artists contribute, you'll have access to those songs as well. We also have a number of goodies (such as signed R.E.M. posters, an ocean-view cabin on next year's Cayamo cruise, and more) to give to donors in random drawings. And, anyone giving $350 or more will receive a lifetime subscription to Paste as a thank you.
You may recall this story from a few months back when people buying tickets for the Meadowlands shows were sent to TicketsNow.com, or what I like to call "Ticketmaster's Sanctioned Scalping Site." Fans, and Springsteen himself, raised a ruckus and as part of its settlement, Ticketmaster will create a wall between its site and TicketsNow.com for one year, and establish a lottery where fans who filed complaints could purchase tickets to Mr. Springsteen’s New Jersey shows. Seems their "wall" is about as flimsy as those go-go beads Greg Brady used for a door because the same thing happened for the show here in DC
Hundreds of concertgoers who thought they bought tickets for a coming Bruce Springsteen show from Ticketmaster but instead purchased seats from TicketsNow, a resale service owned by Ticketmaster, will receive reimbursements or tickets to another of Mr. Springsteen’s shows, The Washington Post reported. More than 300 fans said that they were misled when they bought the tickets to Mr. Springsteen’s show this Monday night at the Verizon Center in Washington. In February, Ticketmaster said that it would change its sales policies as part of a settlement with the State of New Jersey after more than 2,000 Springsteen fans there made similar complaints. In a statement at Mr. Springsteen’s official Web site, brucespringsteen.net, his manager, Jon Landau, wrote that there “appear to be chronic problems” with how Ticketmaster uses TicketsNow and that he and Mr. Springsteen “deeply resent the abuse of our fans.” (Source)
Thursday, May 14, 2009
My buddy Andy over at Eenie Meenie Records sent this over today...
Oakland club destroyer, Wallpaper. has remixed Passion Pit again. Their remix of "Sleepyhead" won them the remix contest hosted by Fingers On The Pulse. Passion Pit loved the remix so much, they invited Wallpaper to do a remix for "The Reeling". This is the only official remix of "The Reeling," other than the one by Calvin Harris that hit the blogosphere a few weeks ago.
About the remix, Wallpaper. producer, Eric Frederic says, "The song has fantastic call and response vocals with a children's choir. When I heard that, I felt that an Afrobeat rendition of the song was the only option."
Passion Pit - The Reeling (Wallpaper. Remix)
Passion Pit - Sleepyhead (Wallpaper. Dio Remix)
May 21 Seattle, WA @ Neumo's (Digg.com Meet Up)
May 29 San Diego, CA @ Beauty Bar
May 30 Phoenix, AZ @ Rogue Bar (Shake!)
May 31 Las Vegas, NV @ Beatles Revolution Lounge at The Mirage
Jun 06 Mountain View, CA @ Live 105's BFD Festival at Shoreline Amphitheater
Jun 12 San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop (Blow Up)
Jun 19 Brooklyn, NY @ Studio B (Yikes! w/ Thunderheist)
Jul 25 Sacramento, CA @ A To Z Greens
Monday, May 11, 2009
If you're kind of a music dork (or a full on one as I am), you probably have a top-5 list of your favorite bands of all time. Had I ever written mine down, I could have laminated it, that's how often it changed. But then I discovered The Wrens this year at SXSW, and some shuffling had to occur as they blew me completely away. Do a Google search to learn more about the in's and out's of their career trajectory, but for a few reasons, The Wrens have really not released anything since 2003 with the mindblowingly good record, The Meadowlands.
As there are substantive rumors that 2009 will finally be the year they finally release a new record, Magnet magazine has been doing a "Wrens Watch" since January with assorted updates and a mp3 or two of new song demos. Today, they posted a new one entitled 'Z'.
My thoughts? While I'm happy to see something, anything new from them (let's just say if my copy of "Meadowlands" was an LP I'd have warped it by now from playing it so much), this "Z" is like 1:34 of instant mashed potatoes-sure I'll eat them if offered, cause mashed potatoes are not something I let myself often eat. But I can assure you the whole time I'm thinking, "Man, I like the fact I'm getting to have these mashed potatoes, but I so wish I had the real stuff with all the butter and cream." Instant mashed potatoes look like the real stuff but they just lack, which is sorta what I feel about this track. So guys, we've waited this long, why not wait until you can put out the real stuff with all butter and heavy cream, ok?
Give a Listen: Z-The Wrens
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
From today's Chicago Sun-Times.
Wilco Lead Singer Sued by Former Band Member
They famously parted ways eight years ago, and now it appears that multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett and Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy may be headed for a courtroom showdown.
Bennett filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit Thursday against his former Wilco bandmate, saying he’s owed “artist royalty payments” and proceeds from a documentary about the band. Bennett left the band in 2001, and the parting was described in the vague terms of “creative differences.”
Those differences were captured in the 2002 documentary “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” which shows an argument between the two as they’re producing the album “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” that sends Tweedy to the bathroom to vomit.
Bennett, who was with the band from 1994 to 2001, claims that while he had a significant role in the film, Tweedy “never obtained the necessary releases for the use of Bennett’s performance” and that he has not been compensated for that appearance.
Tweedy could not be reached for comment. But one line that suggests this is more bitter divorce than breach of contract: “Defendant [Tweedy] has repeatedly refused to compensate Bennett for Bennett’s membership in and contributions to Wilco despite Bennett’s numerous and repeated requests.” (Source)
Friday, May 1, 2009
Lucero will be starring in MTV's new show $5 Cover, which premieres today. The series, directed by "Hustle and Flow" writer-director, Craig Brewer captures the lives of Memphis musicians.
Part reality show, part indie cinema, "$5 Cover" will be aired on MTV and here. The main Web component of the series offers 15 digital episodes, each six or seven minutes long, only loosely chronological, that follow the romantic entanglements and career ups and downs of a group of Memphis musicians as they haunt bars, clubs and cafes. MTV will air a half-hour packaged version of three episodes each week during a five-week run on the network.
From the website:
All of the characters play themselves and perform their own music. Each episode builds to an exciting performance or recording session captured on location. The dialogue is improvised and the scenes come straight from the lives of artists and bands struggling to make a mark on their scene.
MTV five dollar cover Trailer (HD)
More detailed write up from the LA Times here