Saturday, January 24, 2009

new Sufjan Stevens song!

holy goodness gracious.
this is the coolest thing I've heard in ages. oh so mesmerizing.

it looks like Sufjan Stevens has taken a page out of Thom Yorke's book.

this is EPIC. and that isn't just because of its length of ten minutes.

Sufjan Stevens - You Are the Blood [mp3]

a lot better than ANYTHING on Merriweather Post Pavilion, that's for sure.

interview: Grand Lake

lead singer Caleb Nichols was the first to send me his band's music, and the only good one so far. Since then, I've had an influx of crap into my inbox, so I'm very happy to post about a band worth listening to. They are a very new band, formed in October of last year. Caleb used to play bass in Port O' Brien, but we all know how much musicians hate to be SOLELY defined by their past, so I'll say this much, it's a good thing he left.

The band is based in Oakland, so for now, they are playing local shows (Feb 6 @ The Uptown [Oakland]; Mar 28 @ The Hemlock [SF])
but, my dear readers, keep your eyes and ears open, they'll soon invade your hometowns as well. If they don't, I'll be disappointed for your sakes.

sounds like: early Death Cab for Cutie; those awesome opening acts that are more heartfelt than the band you came to see.

They're still finalizing their EP, but here are some awesome mp3s for you guys to enjoy in the mean time

Grand Lake - Concrete Blonde on Blonde [mp3]

Grand Lake - Nevermint [mp3, highly recommended!]

this one is like what Nirvana would have been if they were an indie band of the 00's rather than a grunge band of the 90's.

Grand Lake - The Stars Are Not Projectors [mp3]

Grand Lake - Twin Peak [mp3]

visit them on MYSPACE

Caleb was nice enough to answer some of my prying questions, so here's some insight for you all

How did the band form?

Jameson and I were in another band many moons ago called 'the bloody heads' ... so we already new each other.
We had a new project in mind after I left Port O'Brien, but we weren't sure what. Then we met Ryan (actually, I rented a room in Ryan's place), and he introduced us to Erika, whom he was playing with (and still is ) in a band called No'S.

As a child, did you want to be a musician? When did you start playing music? Writing music?

I wanted to be Fred Astaire, but dancing was hard work. I didn't want to be a musician until I heard Revolver when I was 12. I started playing bass and writing when I was 14. I am self taught.

Do you have a muse?

Yes. He'd only love me back, I'd quit being a musician.

Do you have any particular audience that you cater to or do you just make music that comes to you and hope people will like it?

Ummm........ I assume our music appeals to college kids, maybe high school kids, maybe cool older folks .... I don't know. People who listen to slightly experimental, minimalist indie-pop?

Who writes the songs? The lyrics?

On 'Nevermint' I wrote the music and lyrics for the 6 pop songs, and Jameson wrote the music for the two short instrumental tracks. Next record, Erika will write some too.

What does "Concrete Blonde on Blonde" mean? You're referencing Dylan, yes? I'd love you to elaborate.

Play on words... the word concrete is used... it's a song about driving back to my hometown, which I find myself doing regularly, whether from a tour, from Oakland now, or even from Alaska way back....or from school... I had an intense Dylan period right before I joined Port O'Brien in 2006.... Blonde on Blonde was the only thing on in my car for months, and man I drove a fucking lot!

What was your first record? (the first one you bought, not made)

hmm... vinyl - Built for Speed by the Stray Cats.... cassette - California Girls by the Beach Boys,.... I think my first cd was Dangerous by Michael Jackson.

What are you listening to now?

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, ESG, Jay Reatard. Those be my top three at the moment. Also Starfucker, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, and Man/Miracle.

[fun fact: Caleb blogs daily about the songs stuck in his head. Head on over to the Head List (haha, pun) to check it out.]

What song do you wish you could have written?

'Susan in A Hundred Words' by my roommate and Grand Lake's drummer, Ryan Parks. Check out the No'S for that track. It's fucking beautiful, and made my mom cry a bit.

or "I Woke Up Today" by Van Pierszalowski of Port O'Brien... the writer always gets more royalties.

In your opinion, the number 1 most under-rated genius musician of all time.

Morphine. Mark Sandman from Morphine. I think there should be parades dedicated to that band. They fucking ruled, and the death of Mark Sandman strikes me as one of the more tragic things in rock and roll history.

Where is the strangest place you've come up with a song/melody/riff? Think of the craziest, most random one imaginable.

This usually happens while driving on the 101 for a few hours. Or the five. Driving.

[that answer was slightly disappointing. I was hoping for some hooker story.]

What song is playing on repeat in hell?

Anything by the Eagles. But at the moment I'm thinking 'Desperado' or 'Tequila Sunrise'....

Saturday Music Definitions: Winter

I know most of the world has had record breaking cold winters, but California JUST got cold. a couple of weeks ago, I was walking around in sun dresses. now I've busted out the coat again, which I haven't needed since late November.

Ra Ra Riot - Winter '05 [mp3]
I've been listening to The Rhumb Line over and over and over again. it's become an addiction. great band, great debut, great song.

The Dodos - Winter [mp3]
ironic, because I bought Visiter in the summer, after being exposed to them as Spring was blooming. folk duo from SF, a pleasant sophomore effort.

Belle & Sebastian - Winter Wooksie [mp3]
simultaneously bouncy and melancholy. signature B&S.

Roses King Castles - Brass Winter [mp3]
Babyshambles was a break from The Libertines. RKC was the side project of Babyshambles' drummer, Adam Ficek. this song is basically just a xylophone and an acoustic guitar, but it brings back childhood memories quite nicely.

Joshua Radin - Winter [mp3]
this guy got his big break being featured on Grey's Anatomy a couple of years back. his music deserves to be listened to more people than that crowd. Matt Costa meets Sufjan Stevens with a hint of Elliott Smith. very soft music. he's playing a Noisepop show, and I got my ticket last week.

Sufjan Stevens - Sister Winter [mp3]
Sufjan Stevens never fails to bring out my soft side.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Alex Turner gets mathematical

"We're going to have a new album with you by the summer I think," he told Australian network Triple J. "[It's] 78 per cent is done, I have been working in fractions actually – two thirds. [I'm] thrilled with it."

read more over at NME

Josh Homme (of QOTSA fame) has produced the record. brace yourselves. 2009 is going to be such a dynamite year for music. it already is!

Arctic Monkeys - Brianstorm (live on Jools Holland) [mp3]

Spoon - My Mathematical Mind [mp3]

Animal Collective announce North American tour

hellooooooo graduation present to self.

Washington, DC 9:30 Club (May 11)
Philadelphia, PA Electric Factory (12)
New York, NY Terminal 5 (13)
Boston, MA House of Blues (14)
Montreal, PQ Metropolis (15)
Toronto, ON Sound Academy (16)
Royal Oak, MI Royal Oak Music Hall (18)
Milwaukee, WI Turner Hall Ballroom (19)
Minneapolis, MN First Avenue (20)
Vancouver, BC Commodore Ballroom (24)
Portland, OR Roseland Theater (25)
Oakland, CA Fox Theatre (26)
Big Sur, CA Henry Miller Memorial Library (27)
Los Angeles, CA Wiltern (29)
Las Vegas, NV House of Blues (30)
Tucson, AZ Rialto Theater (31)
Albuquerque, MN Sunshine Theater (June 1)
Boulder, CO Boulder Theatre (2)
Dallas, TX House Of Blues (4)
Austin, TX Stubbs (5)
Oxford, MS The Library (6)
St. Petersburg, FL State Theatre (8)

Animal Collective - #1 [mp3]

so I finally got around to listening to Fleet Foxes...

...sometime earlier this week and I've finally dug up some of my notes. hot damn, my room is a mess.

and the verdict?

good, not great.
definitely over hyped, but they still have a handful of solid songs.

they jump around different genres, and that comes off as indecisive rather than deliberately eclectic. are they a folksy Arcade Fire? I think not.

"Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" definitely draws from Radiohead's "Karma Police". "He Doesn't Know Why" feels like a Christmas song. "Your Protector" is like a modern, indie version of "Greensleeves" (you know, the traditional English ballad about the beheaded Anne Bolyn [in the words of my beloved Dwight Schrute])

find my favourite two songs below, and if you like what you hear, head over to their MYSPACE

if not, I'd suggest you stick with Vampire Weekend. although I still don't understand why those two bands are apparently unwittingly rivals or something. no musical correlation whatsoever.

Fleet Foxes - Ragged Wood [mp3]

Fleet Foxes - Quiet Houses [mp3]

Crystal Castles

Are you in short supply of electronica? Do you desperately need some new dance music? I suggest that you check out Crystal Castles. Don't let your preconceived notions of mild mannered Canadians thwart you from experiencing one of the coolest duos around, Alice Glass and Ethan Kath.

Crystal Castles - Magic Spells [mp3]

Crystal Castles - Knights [mp3]

be forewarned, it's not a good idea to listen to them with headphones on, unless your objective is to feel a bit faint.

for fans of: Klaxons, Daft Punk, dancing

Band of the week: Antony and the Johnsons

for fans of angelic vocals, Beirut, Jens Lekman, ethereal music, John Legend, Patrick Wolf, and Jeff Buckley

a few days ago I had the pleasure of reading the most entertaining subheadline ever:

"Lou Reed's favorite transgender torch singer battles for Mother Earth"

surprisingly, it was in Rolling Stone

now I know the blogosphere is overflowing with praise for this band, which features Antony Hegarty's haunting vocals, and I hate to be just another blogger blogging about the same old thing but this music is really important.

it's very much sit-under-a-tree-and-reflect-about-the-universe-on-a-microcosm-scale music.

you don't have to be transgendered to appreciate the powerful search for identity found here.

the band is from NYC, with three fantastic albums so far (eponymous debut, the critically acclaimed "I Am A Bird Now" and their latest, "The Crying Light")

I hear the live shows are killer too. I'll see for myself when they headline the SF Noisepop festival, with a show at Nob Hill Masonic Theatre. buy tickets for that or other shows (in your area) at ticketmaster

Antony's latest effort (The Crying Light) was released on Monday, and I'm loving it. I will try to review it sometime soon, but for now, sample these tracks and let me know what you think

Antony and the Johnsons - Kiss My Name [mp3]

Antony and the Johnsons - Aeon [mp3]

Antony and the Johnsons - Fistful of Love [mp3, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!]
Lou Reed did guitar work and background vocals on this track.

Antony and the Johnsons - Crazy in Love (Beyonce cover) [mp3]
"who says I'm not a teenage girl" hahahaha, oh, look, he has a sense of humour. lovely =)

The Strokes are back! er, in 3 weeks!

"We're getting back together for the first time in two years, and it's very exciting," says Albert. "We're just going to start working on songs. I mean, sounds -- we don't even have the songs. We got to get back to playing first. That's all I know. Right now, it's just February 11th at 2 o'clock we're going to the studio to hang out and play music. I just know the date and time."

I love you, Rolling Stone. you have finally redeemed yourself for having the Jonas Brothers on the cover.

anyhow, this is the most exciting bit of news ever. I knew Niko said February ages ago, but a set date is just so great! their fourth record is going to rock the world, I can feel it.

The Strokes - Razorblade [mp3, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

happy sexy awesome Obama day everyone!


now, there are plenty of patriotic songs floating the internets in honour of this glorious day, but I am going to post something different. something that is sexy and awesome, like PRESIDENT OBAMA.

may I present...

my favourite Clash song.


The Virgins: Euro Tour Dates

The Virgins - Fernando Pando [mp3]

this band has it all. great recorded sound, crazy, rockin' live performances.

London Koko (Club NME) (March 27)
Le Harve Cabaret Electric (28)
Paris Trabendo (30)
Strasbourg La Laiterie (31)
Lyon Ninkasi Kao (April 1)
Lausanne Les Docks (2)
Milan Club Plastic (3)
Vienna Flex (5)
Munich Atomic Café (6)
Cologne Gebaude 9 (7)
Hamburg Molotow (8)
Berlin Festsaal Kreuberg (9)
Amsterdam Paradiso (11)
Rotterdam Rotown (12)
Brighton Digital (14)
Bristol Thekla (15)
Manchester Ruby Lounge (16)
Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire (17)
Glasgow King Tut's (18)
Newcastle The Cluny (20)
Birmingham Rainbow (21)
Leeds Cockpit (22)
London Heaven (23)
Dublin Academy 2 (25)
Belfast Speakeasy (26)

NEW ARCTIC MONKEYS SONGS: good quality mp3s!

most excellent.

these are from the Wellington concert last Tuesday.

Arctic Monkeys - Go Kart [mp3]

Arctic Monkeys - Dangerous Animals [mp3]

Arctic Monkeys - Crying Lightning [mp3]

Arctic Monkeys - Pretty Visitors [mp3]

the Arctic Monkeys were my first SF concert. spectacular gig. cannot wait for the new album and new tour dates.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Morning Covers

Jamie Cullum – Wind Cries Mary (Hendrix cover) [mp3]
I actually heard this version before I knew it was a cover. I’ve had Jamie’s debut CD (Twentysomething) forever. I love it so so so much, it is a great laid back jazz/pop album.

of Montreal – Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin cover) [mp3]

really, this one speaks for itself

Built to Spill – While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Beatles cover) [mp3]
This is one of my favourite Beatles songs, written and originally sung by my beloved George Harrison.

Radiohead – Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young cover) [mp3]
I would not have expected this but it is surprisingly good.

Happy Sunday everyone!