Sunday, February 27, 2011

If the Liquor Commission Had Been in Paris, We Might Have Seen Local Natives Instead

This past summer, I took time off to go back home for a few months. With no job to get up for and a pretty decent savings account, life became surreal. I lounged and read for entire afternoons, took long, pointless walks, became a frequent house guest of others, and had little to no reason to behave responsibly. The latter two were especially well-combined when I spent weeks at Big Bird's flat, where he and I would have what came to be known as "WASP days." These started, of course, with mimosas as soon as we got up (which is a lot less horrifying when you consider that we could not be bothered to wake before noon). So off in the "morning" to the liquor commission, outside of which--day or night--a maniacally grinning, tattered man (best visually compared to a glue-huffing Disney hobo) busked with his guitar, playing "Ring of Fire."  Every time. (In fairness, he'd occasionally play other songs, but since his guitar was always tuned to the key of "Well-Respected Man", whatever else he played sounded like a Kinks cover of whatever it was. So it's difficult to know what those were exactly. But I assure you, "Ring of Fire" was a hearty staple.)  In addition to this talent, he also succeeded in being a raging pervert, making me relieved to have Big Bird at my side, while simultaneously adding an authentic "dodging commoners" element to the waspification of it all. 

After the LC had closed, when our WASP levels were elevated to "pick at dinner and argue about which of us is sleeping with the nanny", that well-rejected man would wander up and down the strip, past the bars and patios, singing all the while. And there, in this middle-sized city, in this middle-sized province, in the middle of the continent, he was putting on the only local Take Away Show to be had.  In this case, the beggars were the choosers, and they chose an awful lot of Johnny Cash.

Now if we'd spent the time somewhere more glamourous--like, say, Paris--Big Bird and I might have made out a little better. We could've looked up from a make-believe "BCBG day" to see Local Natives strolling the street instead. A huge step up, on every level,* and somewhere out there are Parisians much luckier than us. La Blogotheque has the video of a Paris street performance of Who Knows Who Cares and it sounds amazing, so enjoy as one of the best bands to come out of the last year (and arguably my favourite) demonstrates for the localest hobo how a Take Away Show is really done. 

Though in all fairness, I don't know how well they do Ring of Fire.

Local Natives | Who Knows Who Cares | A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

*Though the fantastic irony that the Liquor Commission man is, in fact, one of the local Natives in my neighbourhood has not been lost on me.

Today's Swell Tune: Fit to Dance

  • Band: Call the Doctor
  • Album:  CTD (EP)
  • From:  Bristol, England; Wellington, New Zealand
  • Sound: Yeah Yeah Yeah's, fronted by Chrissy Hynde, opening for Bikini Kill in 1992; rock
  • Social: facebook; myspace

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Complete King of Limbs Cover Already Happened, and I'm Even a Little Late With It.

Apparently there's already a cover of Radiohead's less than week-old King of Limbs album. It's the work of Robotanists who challenged themselves to put together the entire eight-song effort within 24 hours of the album release. It's a fun project, if a clear publicity stunt. But consider this: I am in Moscow, you are wherever you are, and suddenly we're both listening to this band from LA.  So points for efficiency. And I have to say it's not half bad, given the timeframe.  

You can download the whole thing free from bandcamp.

Boss Stuff on the Interwebs: Wednesday Links 23/02/11

  • Working to create what can only be described as an indie music canon, Neon Filler has begun their list of the top 100 indie/alternative albums of all time. This week: 90-81.
  • You know what you've probably never seen? 1970's classic kids' film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory sampled to create an entire rap album then edited to make it even more of an acid-trip than it was before. Darwin Deez thinks it's time someone did that. (Tree Swingers)
  • For the anglophiles who know you can never get enough cheeky British music videos: Andrew Evans Talks At You likes the new Frankie and the Heartstrings.
  • As the music industry bitches and moans that things aren't fair because they're only making millions, artists search for new ways of getting things done. Listen Dammit takes a look at Broken Cities' creative and sensible distribution model for their new album Flux. Better yet, it seems to be working. Unless you're a record company, obviously, in which case this is bullshit.
  • Architecture in Helsinki sounds different. Synthier, and Princier, and with crack-like powers to addict. Hyperbole has it.
  • Electric Comic Book dug around a vintage record shop (in Brooklyn, of course) and came up with this early, pre-international EP from The Hives. It might not be what you expect.
  • And finally, Yeasayer does a nifty cover of Crazy at Stereogum. You know, when I was about 10, my older sister bought a Cindy Crawford exercise video that prominently featured the Seal original. To this day, I can't hear that song without getting vivid images of a twenty-something Cindy Crawford doing lunges. It's like an awesome superpower.

Today's Swell Tune: Dust It Off

  • Band: The Dø
  • Album: Dust It Off (EP); Both Ways Open Jaws (out March 7)
  • From: Helsinki, Finland; Paris, France
  • Sound: Goosebumpy; indie pop
  • Website
  • Social: facebook; myspace
  • Download Free: here

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The New Ex-Libras Video Proves that I Should Turn my Skills to Solving Crime. Musical Crime.

If a song is good--really, truly good--it sets you up at first listen with an image or feeling that takes it beyond "tune" and into the realm of "experience". From dying and coming back to life, to playing in a jug band on your grandpappy's porch, anything will do, so long as it takes you somewhere. And if that idea is strong enough, it will dominate every listen until with each play you have to close your eyes, zone out, and go to whatever place it is that song has made for itself in your head.

Recently, I got that feeling with Ex-Libra's Teenage Eyes. I made it my song of the day, noting that it was all but made for "the final credits of a film that did not end happily"

Then the band contacted me to tell me that I am psychic.  More or less, anyway. They hooked me up with the video, a lush and lovely Edward Scissorhands-meets-Black Swan picture show, perfectly suited to the dark, tinkering melody.  I'm not going to tell you how it ends but...well I did mention that psychic thing:


If you liked it, The Ex-Libras can be found on their websitefacebook, myspace, blog, or twitter for all your stalking needs.

And if you need me and my obviously impressive extrasensory abilities, you know where to reach me. 

Today's Swell Tune: One in the World

  • Band: Tapes n' Tapes
  • Album: Outside
  • From:  Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
  • Sound: Like Tapes 'n Tapes is better than Lucy at sneaking into the Babalu; indie college rock
  • Website:
  • Social: facebook; myspace; twitter

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Today's Swell Tune: Radiation

  • Band: I Am Kloot 
  • Album: Sky at Night
  • From: Manchester, England
  • Sound: The other night I was running through a park of this toward this with this in the background when the song picked up. SO right.; psychedelic indie rock
  • Website:
  • Social: facebook, myspace, twitter

Friday, February 18, 2011

If You Like: The Strokes, The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys

If you like:

-Arctic Monkeys
-Hot Hot Heat
-The Libertines
-The Strokes


The Haznauts

When I first started looking into this foursome from Corona, California, I didn't really think about their name. It took until the point of actual e-mail correspondence that I considered it. While it looks and sound like a normal--albeit awesome--word, "haznaut" is actually a complete invention.  And that sums up the band, really. While the first few riffs sound like a typical--albeit awesome-- indie rock band, there's really nothing in the dictionary for them. 

Citing The Strokes as a major musical influence, they're bound to draw comparison to the type of bands known for their enthusiastic enuui, like the Libertines and Arctic Monkeys. It's punkish indie rock with the kind of non-stop energy that makes  you want to be a drummer. Or a speed freak. But there's something else there, a heated intensity that sets them apart. With their riotous guitar riffs and in-your-face vocals, there's almost a glimpse of early-90s metal-rock a la Faith No More. It's not a combination you'd think to try but it goes down well.

They're currently in Nashville recording their first EP. I for one will be looking forward to it. And if you're anywhere near them in the next few months, do what you can to check out a live show. Something tells me it would be a good one.

Stalk online on their reverbnation (infinitely better than myspace--why does that still exist?), facebook, and website

Radiohead Release a Day Early. Millions Freakout. Mr Shuffleupagus Shrugs.

Radiohead announced early this week that they were going to release their new album, The King of Limbs, this Saturday, February 19th. Instead, they released it today, just because Radiohead has a long history of doing things that would typically delight fans and piss off record companies, and I've always liked that about them.

Now I know that a lot of people are excited about this, but I have a confession that no music blogger should ever make: I haven't been a huge Radiohead fan since Kid A. That's the truth, and feel free to freak the fuck out in the comments section over it. I rank their early albums among some of the greatest in my music collection, and they were beyond pivotal in my musical coming of age. But at a very clear point Radiohead got so into the "aural landscapes" that they forgot about the "melodies" we plebians might enjoy. There comes a point where you've stopped making artistic music and started making noise art, which itself is a fine idea, but I'm personally not enjoying it on a musical level. 

So I wasn't even sure I would post about the new Radiohead. I didn't want to have to verbally swoon over glitches and moans that never climax or pay off. But here I am, video in tow, giving you a rundown of my fizzled Radiohead relationship. Why? Because I like the images. And because I know you all want to see it anyway. And because I know I'm still going to listen to the whole album. And because they did that very cool early release thing for everybody. These guys are nothing if not very cool. 

My thoughts on Lotus Flower? Sounds like In Rainbows. That is all.

Friday's Forgotten Song: Silent Telephone

Silent Telephone (The 101ers) by MrShuffleupagus

The 101ers
Album: Elgin Avenue Breakdown
Year: 1981

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Today's Swell Tune: Bloom

  • Band: The Veils
  • Album: Troubles of the Brain  (EP)
  • From: New Zealand via London, England
  • Sound: A Joy Division LP at 45rpm; indie, post-punk
  • Website:
  • Contact: facebook

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Boss Stuff on the Interwebs: Wednesday Links 16/02/11

  • Weezer just covered the State Farm jingle. I don't think this is to sell out, so much as it is to rile up a bunch of nervous hipsters and watch them unravel. Like a sweater. (See what I did there?) (Stereogum)
  • The Brit Awards  happened again: Rihanna beat Robyn, Tinie Tempah beat The Xx, and Justin Bieber beat The National. Also Take That apparently hasn't yet been struck down by sweet justice.  Are you sure you even want to look? (Spinner
  • The Grammys managed to be a little hipper. A little. Summary at Play On Daily.
  • Growing up, while my friends all cooed over Courtney Love, I thought Melissa Auf der Maur was the coolest chick alive. Guess which one of us is still right? Bearly Rambling validates me after a decade and a half.
  • PJ Harvey streamed an entire concert live, and you can watch it in its entirety at Their Bated Breath.
  • Two very romantic phrases for this Valentines week: "I Remember" and "The Morning After Pills". Yeasayer's new video for the former can be found at the latter.
  • As if the French needed help being moody, Sonic Youth is writing and recording the (francophone) soundtrack for a new French film. Both the songs and the movie trailer are thumbs up. See and hear at Sonic Masala.

Today's Swell Tune: Shift the Sea

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Coachella Lineup is Out. Oh No, Wait--This is Bonnaroo. Fair Mistake.

The 10th annual Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival will be held from June 9-12, this year and the official lineup was announced today. Be prepared to get excited or jealous, depending on whether or not you intend to be anywhere near Manchester, Tennessee this June:

  • Eminem

  • Arcade Fire

  • Widespread Panic

  • The Black Keys

  • Buffalo Springfield feat Richie Furay, Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Rick Rosas, Joe Vitale

  • My Morning Jacket

  • Lil Wayne

  • String Cheese Incident

  • Robert Plant & Band of Joy

  • Mumford & Sons

  • The Strokes

  • The Decemberists

  • Ray Lamontagne

  • Bassnectar

  • Iron & Wine

  • Girl Talk

  • Primus

  • Dr. John and The Original Meters performing Desitively Bonnaroo

  • Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas

  • Pretty Lights

  • Florence & the Machine

  • Superjam ft. Dan Auerbach and Dr. John

  • Explosions in the Sky

  • STS9

  • Gogol Bordello

  • Beirut

  • Big Boi

  • Scissor Sisters

  • Gregg Allman

  • Ratatat

  • Global Gypsy Punk Revue curated by Eugene Hütz

  • Robyn

  • Warren Haynes Band

  • Deerhunter

  • Opeth

  • Atmosphere

  • Old Crow Medicine Show

  • Bootsy Collins & the Funk University

  • Wiz Khalifa

  • Matt & Kim

  • Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

  • The Del McCoury Band and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band

  • Mavis Staples

  • Béla Fleck & the Flecktones

  • Chiddy Bang

  • Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers

  • Loretta Lynn

  • Cold War Kids

  • The Walkmen

  • Devotchka

  • Wanda Jackson

  • Neon Trees

  • Portugal. The Man

  • Sleigh Bells

  • Amos Lee

  • Or maybe you just got deja vu? Because this is a lot like Coachella. I'm not saying that's good, and I'm not saying that's bad. But I am saying that the festival you pick is more or less down to whether you'd rather see Eminem and Florence and the Machine or Kanye West and Kings of Leon

    Frankly, it makes little difference to me because I know for a fact I cannot go to either.  Stupid facts....they think they're so smart... I'm hoping Osheaga will make it up to me. Fingers crossed.

    Bonneroo tickets go on sale this Saturday

    Oh, and Loretta Lynn?  Huh?

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