Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bert And Ernie From Sesame Street Play The Blackest, Most BRUTAL Metal Of All!

So I realize that this video is about three months old, but then again, this is the funniest thing that I have seen in three months. It's old footage of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street remixed as a grindcore clip. The song that Bert and Ernie are "playing" is by a group Last Days Of Humanity and is called "“A Divine Proclamation To End The Present Existence”. Clearly, that's what we all thought of when we watched Sesame Street as children.

(Jonathan Graef)

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New She And Him (Zooey Deschanel And M. Ward) - "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?"

Download: She And Him - "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?"
Download: M. Ward - "Chinese Translation"
Download: Zooey Deschanel And Leon Redbone - "Baby, It's Cold Outside"

One of the more intriguing projects to pop up on the 2008 cultural radar is the collaboration between M. Ward and actress Zooey Deschanel. The project, going by the name of She and Him, is due out in March via Merge Records. A few days ago, the label was kind enough to post a track, "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?", from She and Him's forthcoming release Volume One, due out in March. The track is called "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?"

Though the bio on the Merge Records uses Dusty Springfield, Linda Ronstadt and The Zombies as musical reference points, "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?" has a distinct Beatles flavor to it, especially in the song's piano hook and whimsical feel. The whole track has a breezy, jazzy feel, which is no doubt due to Deschanel's vocal phrasing. The song is so brief that it is seemingly over before it begins, but we're definitely charmed all the same.

Volume One is out in March.

She and Him MySpace Fan Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend (XL recordings, 2008)
Grade: B-

Download: Vampire Weekend - "Mansard Roof"
Download: Vampire Weekend - "A-Punk"

At this point, it almost seems superfluous to write a review of Vampire Weekend. In the month, or even year, or so before the release of this album, the hype around this record sprouted legs and ran for the sea.

So does it live up to the glut of blog buzz behind it? Yeah. Sure it does.

The first four tracks are fun little pop songs. "Mansard Roof" and "Oxford Comma" and "A-Punk" find lead singer Ezra Koening belting like a punkier Paul Simon over palatable jangle pop. I've never been a huge fan of Paul Simon, but even I can appreciate the solid construction and bouncing pop in the first part of the album.

At other times, such as on "Campus," the V-Dubs channel a little bit of Belle & Sebastian in their clean, but still a little punky, twee. But the band describes themselves as "Upper West Side Soweto" for a reason. Well, several, I suspect. The first is that they're from New York. The second is that they're so multi-cultural.

And they cannot wait to cram those facts down your throat. "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" is a fun song; it's sunny and warm and brings a bit of heat to Minnesota (wind chill is -44 as I'm writing this). But at the same time, one can't help but feel talked down to by this song. It's a risk-free pop song groping for cred with its African drums and Clap Your Hands-esque howls while still retaining an unironic and unabashed pop feel, characteristics which really set the tone for the rest of the album.

Lyrically, they've achieved a smooth blend of mild wit and sweet vulnerability (that's only kind of a compliment, in case you were wondering). But at the same time, it's really just a fun album. To decide to work with the afropop sound is a bold move, one that is going to instantly make people think of Paul Simon and David Byrne. Unfortunately, they left a lot of unrealized potential when they decided to basically mimic Paul Simon. The drums are pretty solidly woven into the songs, but they don't really take them anywhere new or exciting.

Overall, Vampire Weekend is a good starting point. This album gave them a solid base from which to grow. I think as the guys get more comfortable in the limelight (let's hope the massive amount of attention they've received doesn't swell their heads too bad), they have the potential to produce some really cool stuff if they're just willing to leave their safety zone a little more.

Vampire Weekend MySpace Page

(April Wright)

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Cat Power's Jukebox Becomes Matador's Highest Charting Album In Its History

Download: Cat Power - "Metal Heart"
Download: Cat Power - "The Greatest"

Kid-tested, MFR-approved Jukebox, Cat Power's second album of covers, entered the Billboard charts at number 12. From the Billboard article:
Roaring in at No. 12, Cat Power's "Jukebox" moved 29,000 units, a career high chart-and sales-wise. The Matador set follows 2006's "The Greatest," which bowed at No. 34 with 23,000.

Kind of amazing that Ms. Marshall was able to jump up 22 places on the charts while only selling 6,000 more records, no?
Cat Power MySpace Page

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Destroyer Announces Tour, Minneapolis Date In April

Download: Destroyer - "Foam Hands"
Download: Destroyer - "European Oils"

The Trouble With Dreams is that they sometimes don't come true. However, if your dream was to see Destroyer in concert, then you're in luck. Tour dates have just been announced and, lo and behold, the second date on Destroyer's trek supporting their upcoming record Trouble With Dreams (album number ten!) is at Minneapolis' 400 Bar on April 16th.

The rest of the dates are below, courtesy of P4K


03-14 Austin, TX - The Parish (SXSW)
04-16 Minneapolis, MN - 400 Bar
04-17 Chicago, IL - Logan Square Auditorium

04-18 Detroit, MI - Pike Room
04-19 Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Palace
04-20 Montreal, Quebec - Club Lambi
04-22 Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg
04-23 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
04-24 Philadelphia, PA - North Star Bar
04-25 Washington, DC - The Black Cat
04-26 Asheville, NC - Grey Eagle
04-27 Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle
04-28 Atlanta, GA - The Earl
04-29 Nashville, TN - The Mercy Lounge
04-30 St. Louis, MO - Blueberry Hill Duck Room
05-01 Kansas City, MO - Record Bar
05-02 Omaha, NE - Waiting Room
05-03 Denver, CO - The Walnut Room
05-13 Edmonton, Alberta - Starlight
05-14 Calgary, Alberta - #1 Royal Canadian Legion Hall
05-16 Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge
05-18 Phoenix, AZ - Rhythm Room
05-19 Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour
05-20 San Diego, CA - Casbah
05-21 San Francisco, CA - Independent
05-23 Portland, OR - Aladdin Theater
05-31 Vancouver, British Columbia - The Commodore

Destroyer MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Video: Love In October - "An Average Idea"

Paste Magazine just featured the video for Love In October's "An Average Idea", from the week-old Pontus, The Devil, And Me, as their video of the day. You can watch it at the top of this post.

MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Stream The Helio Sequence's Keep Your Eyes Ahead In Its Entirety

Download: The Helio Sequence - "Keep Your Eyes Ahead"

Lost in all of the Vampire Weekend madness of the past few days (OMG! It's finally here! Praise Be To Jebus!) is the fact that The Helio Sequence, a none-too-shabby band themselves, have just released a record titled Keep Your Eyes Ahead. If you fine readers are interested in said record, The Helio Sequence's fourth, then head on over to their MySpace page where you can listen to Keep Your Eyes in its entirety. Before you do so, listen to the title track at the top of the post.

Buy Keep Your Eyes Ahead here.

The Helio Sequence MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tonight: Romantica At The Red Stag SupperClub

Download: Romantica - "The Dark" (w/Ryan Adams)
Download: Romantica - "On My Mind"

Minneapolis-based alt-country act Romantica (how do you like that for truth in advertising?), who put out the Paste-approved, City Pages-beloved America, is playing a show tonight at the Red Stage Supper Club. Show starts at 10 p.m., is scheduled to go to midnight, and is free for those who can get in.

America is out now on 2024 Records.

Romantica MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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R.E.M Announce Tour Dates With Modest Mouse, The National

Download: The National - "Apartment Story"
Download: R.E.M. - "Harborcoat"
Download: R.E.M. - "Ages Of You"
Download: Modest Mouse - "3rd Planet"

Did I just find something more awesome than the above picture?*

R.E.M. is set to tour the nation with Modest Mouse and The National following the release of their latest effort, Accelerate. Having seen The National once and R.E.M. twice, I can say that you definitely don't want to miss this show.

And now for the downside: There's no MPLS date. But there is one in Chicago (so a certain esteemed colleague at this blog has no excuse – not even money – not to see this show). Tour dates are below.

5.23 Vancouver-Deer Lake Park
5.29 Los Angeles-Hollywood Bowl
5.31 Berkeley-The Greek Theatre
6.03 Denver-Red Rocks Amphitheatre
6.06 Chicago-United Center
6.08 Toronto-Molson Amphitheatre
6.10 Raleigh-Walnut Creek Amphitheatre
6.11 Washington, DC-Merriweather Post Pavilion
6.13 Boston-Tweeter Center for the Performing Arts
6.14 Long Island-Jones Beach Theater
6.18 Philadelphia-Mann Center for the Performing Arts
6.19 New York City-TBA
6.21 Atlanta-Lakewood Amphitheatre

* Correct answer: No, but close.

R.E.M. MySpace Page
The National MySpace Page
Modest Mouse MySpace Page

(April Wright)

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Chris Walla - "Sing Again" Video

Ben Gibbard is in there and I think the piano player from Menomena, but I'm not entirely sure about that one. It's about time someone did a "Where's Waldo?" video. Who can you ID?

(Ian Anderson)


New Gnarls Barkley - "Run" (Plus Album Art?)

Download: Gnarls Barkley - "Run" (Via Mission Freak)
Download: Gnarls Barkley - "Crazy"

Mission Freak has posted what its claiming to be a new Gnarls Barkley track, a song titled "Run". Their forthcoming album, titled The Odd Couple, is due to be released in April. The image you see in this post was posted on their MySpace page earlier this morning and, to these eyes, looks like an album cover in the making. Only time will tell for sure.

As for "Run" itself, it has a distinctly 60s flavor to it, an impression which the organ line in the song absolutely justifies. One commenter on Mission Freak compared the wash of organ in "Run" Cream, and while I don't 100 percent agree with the comparison, it certainly is in the ballpark regarding the old-school soul/rock vibe of the track. To me, "Run" comes off more like an Aretha Franklin song after a swig of Redbull and Vodka. The chorus in particular echoes Franklin's great kiss-off track "Think". Like Franklin's narrator, the person singing the song here is telling someone else to hit the road, jack. Though it probably won't be as big a hit as "Crazy", Gnarls Barkley demonstrate that they're in it for the artistic long haul.

Rolling Stone got a sneak peak at the album and you can read their opinion by clicking on the hyperlink at the beginning of the sentence.

In the meantime, listen to "Run" at the top of the post (again, courtesy of Mission Freak), as well as the hit that started this all, "Crazy".

Gnarls Barkley MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Tonight: Kid Dakota At Cafe Barbette

Download: Kid Dakota - "Ivan"

In what is amongst the first of undoubtedly many warm-up gigs building up to the March release of their forthcoming record, A Winter's Shadow, Minneapolis-based indie-folk duo Kid Dakota will be playing a show tonight at Cafe Barbette. Show starts at 10 p.m.

Barbette's website

Stream new songs from A Winter's Shadow over at the Kid Dakota MySpace Page.

(Jonathan Graef)

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New Music From The Dodos - "Jodi"

Download: The Dodos - "Fools" (from Vister)
Download: The Dodos - "Men" (from Beware Of The Maniacs

On 2006's Beware Of The Maniacs, it was a girl named "Lily" who confounded Meric Long (who along with drummer Logan Kroeber make up San Franciscan folk-lectic duo The Dodos). It may be possibly to write lyrics more conflicted than "I've been duped/you're a bitch/you're a whore/I will love you forevermore", but I doubt they've been written yet.

This time around, though, it's a woman named Jody who's causing heartbreak and sadness, or, more accurately, is the inspiration for a song filled with those regretful emotions. Like many old-timey traveling bluesmen before, the narrator in "Jody" has to leave his loved one behind and he's naturally none too happy about it.

Opening with guitar arpeggios as graceful as a waterfall and continuing with delirious polyrhythms and Long's trademark sing-songy delivery, "Jody" should fan the flames of anticipation for Visiter even higher.

Listen to "Jody" over at the band's MySpace Page. MFR will be praying to the gods of music that "Jody" will be released as an embeddable MP3, because, as you'll shortly find out, it's an absolutely fantastic song.

The Dodos MySpace Page.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Page France - "Everybody Knows (Live)"

Page France posted a new live song today called "Everybody Knows" from a performance in Austin, Tex. It's a delicate little number that is a near duet between a trumpet and lead singer Michael Nau. It's very pretty. To hear it, just click on over to their MySpace page here.

(Ian Anderson)


Pre-Order Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago

Download: Bon Iver - "Skinny Love"

The past few weekends have been so cold here in Chicago that weekend plans consist only of doing whatever the T.V. tells us. Whether or not somebody finds us is irrelevant. Bon Iver, AKA Justin Vernon, the Eau Claire, Wisconsin-based known for his sensitive soul-folk, probably knows a thing or two about those kind cold winters ("Bon Iver" is French for "good winter", though it's intentionally misspelled). The re-release (via Jagjaguwar) of last year's For Emma, Forever Ago should bring more widespread attention to the intimate beauty of Vernon's guitar playing, as well as his affecting croon. Though the album won't physically be in stores until February 19th, the album is available for pre-order through Jagjaguwar. If you do so now, you'll get what the label is calling "fancy, offset-printed poster". Well, if it's fancy...

For Emma, Forever Ago is out on February 19th.

Bon Iver MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Video: Neko Case's Appearence On "Aqua Teen Hunger Force"

(Aqua Teen Hunger Force - "Sirens" part one)

(Aqua Teen Hunger Force - "Sirens" part two)

Download: Neko Case - "Hold On, Hold On"
Download: Neko Case - "Star Witness"

Casting alt-country chanteuses Neko Case and Kelly Hogan as sirens is, purely and simply, a stroke of genius. Last night, on the second episode of season number five for "Aqua Teen Hunger Force", the two singers made guest appearances on the venerable Adult Swim program. You can watch the results at the top of the post. Pretty excellent, as per usual. Listen to MP3s of Neko Case and you'll hear why most music fans would consider Case and Hogan sirens.

Neko Case MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Live Review: OFFICE - 12/19/07

(OFFICE - Photo by Tara Rogan)

Download: Office - "Oh My"
Download: Via Audio - "We Can Be Good"

I don’t know if it’s the fact that 400 Bar is just a great venue, or if it’s pure luck that I always see fantastic shows whenever I go there. The Via Audio/Tigercity/OFFICE show on December 19 was no exception, as it was nothing short of wildly entertaining and extraordinarily diverse, both in terms of sound and the crowd itself.

The turnout was excellent, which I always like to see when there’s a night chock-full of amazing artists who are just starting to be seen and heard in a vast sea of indie-pop. Patrons ranged from young hipster kids to middle-aged wine drinkers who were looking for something different to do on a Wednesday night. It was a perfect crowd for this eclectic mix of bands who provide a little bit of something for everyone.

Via Audio opened the show promptly at 9, and with the onslaught of male and female vocal pairings these days (Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, West Indian Girl, to name only a few), these Brooklyn kids up the antie and showcase the vocals of all 4 members on several of their songs. Vocalist/guitarist Jessica Martins is a tiny little brunette spitfire with a voice that’s velvety and bittersweet, reminiscent of St. Vincent’s Annie Clark and Portishead’s Beth Gibbons. Martins was like an audio chameleon, shifting from melancholy to giddy to sad to giggly, all the while contorting her body and enrapturing the crowd watching. On tunes like ‘Modern Day Saint,’ Via Audio’s vocals and instrumental backdrop meshed like a mini indie-pop choir, with a perfect formula of catchy lyrics and addictive melodies.

Current Brooklyn residents Tigercity followed suit, sounding like trashy, sleazy disco meets 80s Lionel Richie meets modern indie pop. In other words, they’re in a class all their own. Seeing Tigercity live solidified two things for me: that this band is ridiculously fun to hear and to watch, and that vocalist Bill Gillim can seriously hit some mean falsetto notes live as well as in the studio. They played a majority of the tracks from their newest EP Pretend Not to Love, songs that are first-listen friendly with pop-soaked synthesizer melodies and hypnotic harmonizing vocals, echoing Prince during the Purple Rain era. "Are You Sensation?" and "Other Girls" played like Tigercity’s anthems to the sequined, glamorous nightlife vibe, and for a few moments, lost in the trance of their infectious sound and keyboard rhythms, I swear to you I forgot that I was in Minneapolis and not New York City.

OFFICE’s Scott Masson took the stage solo with his guitar for their first song, and dedicated the song to his grandfather, who watched quietly from the back of the bar. It was bittersweet and lyrically poignant, reminiscent of old Weezer tracks with only Rivers Cuomo and his acoustic guitar: and it was a great segway into OFFICE’s more raucous pop stuff that they’re known for. ‘Company Calls’ brought even the wallflowers from the dark corners of the bar out onto the floor, to shake their money makers and watch the amazing talents of this truly great indie-pop band. Keyboardist Jessica Gonyea barely let her feet touch the ground as she flailed her tambourine, while bassist Tom Smith hopped from the stage to the audience and back again, which prompted many raised beers as well as hoots and hollers for his effort. All I saw of drummer Erica Corniel was a tornado of hair and sticks, and the occasional open-mouthed smile or laugh. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a band have this much fun playing live. Don’t miss Chicago’s OFFICE next time they roll into town. They’re famous for their amazing live shows for a reason, and a 2 song-encore that night only solidified their reputation.

Office MySpace Page

(Tara Rogan)

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CD Release Party: Love In October Saturday At 7th Street Entry

Download: Love In October - "A Day in the Life Of"

Love In October are having a CD release party for their just-released record Pontus, The Devil And Me at the 7th Street Entry on Saturday night. Whether you dream of Marie Antoinette or of Petrula The Destroyer, it's much better than an average idea if you go see the band live and buy their record. Opening are Ready Goes and Attention.

Furthermore, Love In October will be playing a show in Chicago at Reggie's Rock Club on the South Side on February 2nd. Needless to say, there's going to be a "Minneapolis In Chicago" entry about it.

In the meantime, Saturday's show at the Entry is 18+ and doors are at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 dollars and can be bought at the venue.

Love In October MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Tonight: Dosh At The Triple Rock

Download: Dosh - "Henderson Four"

See Dosh tonight at the Triple Rock for a 21+ show. Doors are at 9 p.m. and tickets are $8. Buy them here.

Opening are Mystery Palace, Cecil Otter and Andrew Broder.

Dosh MySpace Page

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Cat Power - Jukebox

Cat Power
Jukebox (Matador, 2008)
Grade: A-

Download: Cat Power - "Song To Bobby"

Update: "Aretha, Sing One For Me" taken down at the request of management.

Oh, Cat. You have some strange Power over me.

Okay, I won't make any more puns for the rest of the review, I pinky swear.

On Jukebox, Ms. Marshall leads listeners on a wild goose chase to try and find her identity. She starts us out in "New York," a cover of the Frank Sinatra classic. It's the perfect song to start off the album. In the lyrics, we're promised that her "vagabond shoes are longing to stray," which sets the tone for the whole album. From the stomp and bustle of her vision of "New York," we're promptly escorted into a smoky, cosmopolitan soul number reminiscent of Dusty Springfield. It's nearly impossible to recognize the song as a cover of Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man."

On "Silver Stallion," Marshall sells listeners the typical Western myth. The song, which is a cover of a Highwayman song, couples twanging guitars with images of dusty trails and angry devils. It's a beautiful song that combines the steely reserve to not be bound in one place with the sorrow of knowing that the singer is running from something.

And then almost immediately, we're back into a 60's lounge with soul music pumping out of the speakers. "Aretha, Sing One For Me" (originally by George Jackson) plays with the sensuousness of the Rolling Stones' "Beast of Burden" and the whiskey-tinged femininity of mid-60's girl groups.

The rest of the album bounces around in similar fashion. One moment, Marshall is sitting on a fence in the middle of nowhere chewing on a bit of hay, the next you can imagine her transplanted to the heart of the big city. There's something delicious about her musical homelessness on Jukebox. Even when switching between country and pop, Marshall's distinctive, husky voice serves as a centerpiece, focusing your attention on her. It's not as if Marshall is jumping styles and you're watching, it's as is she's guiding you on a tour of different pieces of her identity.

The beauty about this album is that it isn't a chance for Marshall to make us a mixtape/CD/mp3 dump. As she displays on the original tracks on this album, she's feeding us a little sample of what's to come. You Are Free (which came out in 2004 – how old does that make you feel?) established Cat Power as someone who could blur the line between folk and blues, a somewhat expected move after her last covers record.

The new songs on the album send a little bit of a mixed message on what we can expect form Marshall in the next few years. "I Believe In You" straddles riff rock, soul and stompy folk. It's awkward. It's not a bad song, but it doesn't come together right. It's like the channa masala I made for dinner the other night: all the pieces were there, but the chickpeas weren't quite done. It's a little chunky and unpleasant, even if it tastes good. It still needs some smoothing. "Song To Bobby," on the other hand, is very cool. It's an ode to Bob Dylan that comes across sounding like a Dylan cover. It's a beautiful song that weds folk and emotional, wailing blues vocals. If this is where she's headed in her writing, then we can expect great things in the years ahead.

Cat Power MySpace Page

(April Wright)

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The Plastic Constellations - "Stay That Way"

Download: The Plastic Constellations - "Stay That Way"

The Plastic Constellations are prepping big time for the release of their long-anticipated "We Appreciate You" full-length due out on April 15th on Frenchkiss Records. FKR just released a teaser single for the album, and boy, am I teased.

Buy everything TPC-related at

(Ian Anderson)


MGMT - "Time To Pretend" Video

MGMT will be playing at the 7th St. Entry on Feb. 7. A must go show.

MGMT on MySpace

(Ian Anderson)


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tonight: Dan Deacon's Ultimate Reality At First Ave

Download: Dan Deacon - "Totally Boner Eat Shit"
Download: Vampire Hands - "Paradise Knife Fights"
Download: Gay Beast - "I.D. Politic"

Dan Deacon's "Ultimate Reality Tour" comes into Minneapolis tonight at First Avenue. Opening are Minneapolis' own Vampire Hands (who were recently featured on KEXP's Song Of The Day) and Gay Beast.

The 18+ show costs $10 dollars and doors open at 6.

Buy tickets here.

Gay Beast MySpace Page
Vampire Hands MySpace Page
Dan Deacon MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Playlist For Chester The Cat

Download: A Night In The Box - "The Hustler"
Download: Billy Bragg & Wilco - "Hoodoo Voodoo"
Download: Devin Davis - "Cannons at the Courthouse"
Download: Electric Six - "Dance Commander"
Download: The Moldy Peaches - "Who's Got The Crack"
Download: The Rentals - "California"
Download: Animal Collective - "Winters Love"
Download: Dan Deacon - "Big Big Big Big Big"
Download: Dog Traders - "Chester's Dream"
Download: Devendra Banhart - "This Beard Is For Siobhan"

Pictured above is Chester. Chester is my boyfriend's cat. We came to own this polydactyl (he has six fingers on each foot) wonder cat after he was left in a box on the side of the road with his four brothers to starve.

Chester enjoys many normal cat activities – playing with string, sleeping in cupboards, eating – but also some unorthodox ones. He especially likes munching popcorn, purring so loud the vet can't hear his heart beat and staring at the wall. Above all, he loves rocking out and "helping" my boyfriend play the drums on Rock Band.

Up top is a list of the ten best songs for our six-toed Siberian marvel.

Look at more Chester pictures here.

(April Wright)

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Pitchfork Posts Of Montreal Covers Of M.I.A.'s "Jimmy"

Of Montreal


Download: Of Montreal - "Jimmy" (via Pitchfork)
Download: MIA - "Jimmy"

Pitchfork just released Of Montreal's cover of M.I.A's "Jimmy". Normally, I'd try to write something witty, insightful or critical, but I'm too busy dancing.

Of Montreal
MIA MySpace

(Jonathan Graef)

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Dallas Orbiter - Motorcycle Diagrams

Dallas Orbiter
Motorcycle Diagrams (Princess Records, 2008)
Grade: B+

Download: Dallas Orbiter - "The Damocles File"
Download: Dallas Orbiter - "Caspian"

Even though eclectic group Dallas Orbiter mainly dabble in otherworldly art-rock territory previously explored by the likes of Radiohead, Talking Heads, and Grandaddy, the Minneapolis-based quintet incorporates stylistic touches from jazz, funk, and trip-hop to create a listening experience that’s both exhilarating and disorienting in a single song.

Like most groups who create music with a tinge of the avant-garde, Dallas Orbiter’s latest album, Motorcycle Diagrams, tries to throw its listeners a few sonic curveballs, most notably on the opening track “Caspian” and instrumental freak-out “Bzzjh”. (Don’t ask me how to pronounce that). From there, Motorcycle Diagrams consists of beautifully hallucinogenic ballads (“Brow Of Zeus”, “The Dawn & Jitters”) and quirky, upbeat rockers (“Ambuzz Is For Lovers”, “The Damocles File”). While the artful detours, like on the haunted-house beginning of “Maybe Soon The Lakeflies”, don’t really lead the listener to newfound paths, Motorcycle Diagrams has enough strong, consistent songwriting overall to make the album a worthwhile ride.

The album begins with “Caspian”, a track which sounds like the mutant sibling of Radiohead’s “Airbag” and one of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s false-start-freak-out-the-listener album openers. “Caspian” has such diverse touches as call-and-response guitar licks, a syncopated bass line, herky-jerky start-stop drumming, and a deliberately over-distorted vocal. The end result of all these techniques is utter confusion, but also curiosity. The rhythm section eventually establishes a groove which sounds like chaos theory come to life, as swells of feedback firmly entrench themselves in the background. It's a little disappointing that “Caspian” sputters to an anti-climatic end, but it doesn't do so before piquing the listener’s intrigue.

Dallas Orbiter then rewards those who are still captivated by launching into the sci-fi camp and dingy garage-rock of “Ampbuzz Is For Lovers”. At first, the track’s dissonant half-steps suggest another space oddity of some kind, but, shortly thereafter, “Ampbuzz” explodes into a raw, grungy guitar riff. The song still retains the edge of “Caspian”, but this time there’s equal amounts of tension and release. The former arrivesin the form of a gnarly keyboard solo and the latter re-establishes itself every time the guitars dig their heels into the song’s refrain. Elsewhere, “The Dawn and Jitters” either coolly invents the space reggae genre, or, more likely, adeptly adapts the funky art-rock chill of TV On The Radio and “Stabbed By Grace” combines a smooth, lounge-like atmosphere (particularly worth pointing out is the sliding bass line) with an uplifting, ethereal chorus.

Those invigorating motifs are what Dallas Orbiter do best, and Motorcycle Diagrams reaches its peak with a song called “The Damocles File”. The waves of keyboard arpeggios should have fans of Grandaddy smiling and nodding while the sharp, staccato rhythms will have everyone else heading straight for the dance floor. Structurally, “File” is standard, verse-chorus-verse pop song for the most part, but Dallas Orbiter’s tight playing still make it thrilling to hear. A couple of brief instrumental breakdown aptly demonstrate the jazz influence which occasionally creeps into the quintet’s music (see also the dub-reggae bass lines that crop up on tracks like “Pigeon”).

Of course, every peak has its valley, and while Dallas Orbiter don’t really lose the momentum gained by “The Damocles File”, they don’t quite keep up with it either. “New Chrome” has a nifty, Devo-esque, nervous twitch to it, but songs can’t sustain themselves on quirk alone. “Hallelujah, The Jetpack Dancer” fairs much better, as it recalls a doo-wop song covered by Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie. Finally, “Meet You” closes Motorcycle Diagrams on an excellently epic note. The song begins with the kind of ambient atmospherics inherent in a Sigur Ros song, but then pivots to extended, heavy, but still experimental, jamming; Stoners should approve highly.

Though Motorcycle Diagrams is neither a musical miracle, nor simply psychedelia, Dallas Orbiter show enough promise to keep curious listeners interested.

MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Buy Stephen Malkmus's New Album Before Its Release Date

Download Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - "Baby, C'Mon"
Download: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - "Baltimore"
Download: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - "Jenny & The Ess-Dog"

One of the more innovative methods of combating the record industry's never-ending woes has been Matador Records Buy Early Get Now (heretofore BEGN) promotion. Though the name and inherent premise of the project are self-explanatory, there's also much more to it than merely buying an album online ahead of its physical release date in order to get it ASAP.

No, No, No, you, the consumer, get so much more!

In addition to a streaming version of the record you purchase, BEGN gives you a whole lot more than what you get with mere CDs of the album (or, you know, when you download it on the internet).

The last entry in the Matador BEGN series was Challengers, the underrated fourth album from The New Pornographers. Those who ordered the last set got to choose from one of two editions. The "executive edition" (20 bones) included a box-set, live disc, videos, photos and artwork. While the "standard edition" (15 bones) didn't include such luxuries, but the listener still got 3 previously unreleased B-sides, a full album stream, plus advance notice on what-were-then upcoming New Pornos shows.

Challengers was number 4 in the series. Now, with the upcoming release of Stephen Malkmus's fourth post-Pavement album (and second with the Jicks) Real Emotional Trash, BEGN
begets entry number 5

From the Matablog:
Preorder the Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks album ‘Real Emotional Trash’ (out March 4) now, and a get an instant stream along with two exclusive B-sides, an entire live show and a poster.

Visit the website to register. You start by preordering the album from a participating retailer - click the location on the map closest to you, or just order from the Matador Store - and you will get a username and password. Go back to to log in, download the stream, and get your extras on the site over the next few weeks.

On March 4 you pick up the album and poster from your local retailer or receive it in the mail. Simple and straightforward.

So no box-sets like last time, but it seems like its still a pretty good deal. Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks play First Ave on March 19th.

Stephen Malkmus MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Black Mountain - Into The Future

Black Mountain
In The Future (Jagjaguwar, 2008)
Grade: B

Download: Black Mountain - "Stormy High"
Download: Black Mountain - "Angels"

If every state in the union passes its own version of Proposition 215, then expect Black Mountain’s In The Future to replace any elevator muzak currently piping in doctor's offices across the nation. There’s certainly enough stoner-sludge-cum-blues-rock riffage, fantastical prog-rock keyboard flourishes, and just the right amount of indulgently epic heavy rock songs, to make users and squares alike party like it's 1975. Further cementing the drug connection is the fact that most of its members dig King Crimson and have day time jobs at North America's first Safe Injection Site. Even the name Black Mountain could be interpreted as a reference to a large pile of hashish.

Regardless of where the group derived its moniker, Black Mountain's follow-up to its self-titled debut confidently compartmentalizes most of the major acts that were played on FM radio stations back when the format was an underground phenomenon (but is now widely considered to be "classic-rock"). Which is to say, a lot of early 70s acts like Neil Young, Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, and Black Sabbath. Especially Black Sabbath. So much so that the opening guitar crunch of first-single "Tyrants" perfectly emulates the imperial charge of Sabbath's "Children Of The Grave", right down to the chugging sense of doom which permeated Tony Iommi's classic riff. Earlier, on the serene "Angels", vocalists Stephen McBean and Amber Webber evoke Neil Young's lonesome-puppy enunciation and Grace Slick's resolute vibrato, respectively. Other times, Webber recalls Stevie Nicks, especially on mid-album track "Queens Will Play".

There are many other moments on the record which demonstrate Black Mountain's impressive dedication to classic-rock consolidation. The expert sense of imitation is In The Future's considerable strength and unfortunate weakness. The whole album oscillates between admittedly adept musicianship and frustratingly perfunctory song ideas. As a result, the record comes off as the musical Cliffs Notes to an entire decade. While bluesy ballad "Stay Free" has every whiskey-soaked ingredient to make for an essential tear-jerker, one could also turn any local revivalist radio station and hear the same song done thirty years earlier.

It would be remiss not to say Black Mountain are excellent, remarkable even, impressionists. Album highlights "Stormy High" and "Wucun" each contain an irresistible, sensual shuffling groove. As a result, both songs become raucous sing-alongs. But despite those highs, Black Mountain also fail to add any ingredients which would distinguish themselves as more than just classic-rock's faithful torchbearers. The aforementioned "Queens Will Play" starts out with an effective sense of dread, with subtle bass, guitar and organ work complementing the Webber's siren-like yowl. It's undoubtedly Webber's turn to shine, and the band admirably holds back in order to spotlight their bandmate's unimpeachable talent.

Instead of building upon that considerable foundation, the rest of the song meanders toward an anti-climatic conclusion. Similarly, "Bright Lights" strives to be a rocker of cinematic proportions, and definitely succeeds to some degree. However, by the end, the song ultimately fails to deliver the goods in a way which doesn't make the listener reflect upon the merits of groups other than the one to which you are currently hearing.

The problem with Black Mountain is that they're not derivative enough to dismiss outright, nor are they inspirational enough to merit appraisals as the second coming of AOR's heyday. Black Mountain are essentially an appropriation of an appropriation. Just as Black Sabbath and Led Zepplin and groups of their ilk owe a considerable amount of debt to the Delta bluesman who inspired them, Black Mountain owe a sizable debt to those bands who owe a considerable amount of debt to the Delta bluesmen who inspired them.

To put it more concisely, Black Mountain is a copy-of-a-copy. Most conventional wisdom suggests that the further away a copy is from its original, the less amount of quality it has to offer. Black Mountain defy that conventional wisdom by providing a panoramic view of a certain kind of music that people listened to while in a thick cloud of illegal smoke. While In The Future's stoner-friendly view misses the forest for the trees, the group also creates engaging revisionist rock which hopefully will lay the groundwork for more diverse releases in the future (the last track, the ambient "Night Walks", shows promise ). Until then, In The Future will just have to settle for being less visionary than its title portends.

MySpace Page

Black Mountain plays the 7th Street Entry on March 24th. Buy tickets here.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Feist - "I Feel It All" Video

Download: Feist - "I Feel It All"

Feist released her new video for "I Feel It All" today. Again, she delivers on the whole one-shot concept, but this time there are fireworks and perhaps even lives at stake.

(Ian Anderson)


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cover: Sharon Jones - "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In)" - Plus European Tour Dates

Download: Sharon Jones - "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" (Kenny Rogers and The First Edition cover)
Download: Kenny Rogers And First Edition - "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" (original)
Download: Sharon Jones - "100 Days 100 Nights"

Tell Donny to shut the fuck up, because Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings is covering a song which attained its cult status through one of the Coen Bros. most beloved films. But first, a little background. A few days ago, Jezebel posted a video of Sharon Jones being interviewed about Amy Winehouse, amongst other topics. Jones is bitter, naturally, but also retains a cool head on her shoulders. Read that post and watch the video here.

In the comment section for said article, a Jezebel commenter dropped an MP3 of Ms. Jones and The Dap-Kings's live cover of Kenny Rogers And The First Edition's "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In", which you know as the song prominently featured in The Big Lebowski, during one of the dude's hallucinations. Above you'll find the Sharon Jones version, the original, and another Sharon Jones MP3.

Below are European tour dates (via The Music Slut):
Thursday, April 10
Button Factory
Dublin, Ireland

Friday, April 11
Mint Lounge
Manchester, England

Saturday, April 12
Madeira Shelter Hall
Brighton, England

Sunday, April 13
Birmingham, England

Tuesday, April 15
The Sage
Gateshead, England

Wednesday, April 16 thru Friday April 18
Jazz Cafe
London, England

Saturday, April 19
Bristol, EnglandS

MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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The Moldy Peaches Perform On "The View" - Plus Stray Observations About Juno

(YouTube Clip)

(via TV Pop Crunch)

Download: The Moldy Peaches - "Anyone Else But You"
Download: Michael Cera & Ellen Page - "Anyone Else But You"

The Moldy Peaches, everybody's favorite "new" band, went on "The View", of all shows, to perform an rendition of that goddamned song* beloved indie-folk classic "Anyone Else But You", which has been introduced into the mainstream via the film Juno. Footage at the top of the post. Furthermore, I saw said film over the weekend and enjoyed it. A lot of the dialogue was too capital-Q quirky, but I thought Juno absolutely hit the mark when it came to the sincere and emotional moments (my favorite was the scene between Ellen Page and Jennifer Garner interacting in the mall). But I have some stray observations:

--"I bought another Sonic Youth CD and it's just noise!!". Based on this line, is it reasonable to assume that Juno bought NYC Ghosts And Flowers by mistake?
--Speaking of SY, is it even possible for someone whose favorite band is The Stooges not to have heard any Sonic Youth? And furthermore, to dismiss the band as noise? I know the comment was said out of spite, but let's at least have some consistency. How could she not think that Raw Power had its fair share of noise?
--I thought that the conversations between Mark (Jason Bateman) and Juno had some weird, unintended meta-awareness about them. Because if they were shooting the shit about underground/cult movies, music and TV in real life, then surely someone would have brought up "Arrested Development"?
--Minnesota shout-outs that I picked up on: St. Cloud, Stillwater, Mankato. There's gotta be more, for obvious reasons.

MP3s of the Juno cover and the Moldy Peaches original up at the top.

(Jonathan Graef)

*a reference to the song's ubiquity, not a quality judgement. Settle down, Beavis.

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Tapes 'n Tapes: Pitchfork Interview on New Album

Pitchfork's got the hot scoop interview with Josh Grier from Tapes 'n Tapes. The plans sound good, click here to read the full interview.

(Ian Anderson)


Brother Ali Announces "Truth Is Here" Tour

Download: Brother Ali - "Take Me Home"
Download: Toki Wright - "NS Up and Down"

Via the Rhymesayers news page and Brother Ali's MySpace blog, it's tour dates for Ali's upcoming "Truth Is Here" tour. Check them out:
Truth Is Here Tour Dates:

2/29/08 - Madison, WI @ High Noon
3/01/08 - Iowa City, IA @ Picador
3/02/08 - Houghton, MI @ WMTU Hougton
3/03/08 - Duluth, MN @ Pizza Luce
3/04/08 - Menomonie, WI @ UW Stout
3/05/08 - Omaha, NE @ Waiting Room
3/06/08 - Boulder, CO @ Fox Theatre
3/07/08 - Denver, CO @ Bluebird
3/08/08 - Salt Lake City, UT @ 2 shows- Kilby Court and Urban Lounge
3/09/08 - Boise, ID @ The Venue
3/10/08 - Seattle, WA @ Neumos
3/11/08 - Portland, OR @ Hawthorne
3/12/08 - San Francisco, CA @ Slim's
3/13/08 - Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour
3/14/08 - San Diego, CA @ Canes
3/15/08 - Tucson, AZ @ Congress
3/16/08 - Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theatre (w/ Living Legends)
3/19/08 - Dallas, TX @ The Prophet Bar
3/21/08 - Tampa, FL @ Orpheum
3/22/08 - Orlando, FL @ The Social
3/24/08 - Carrboro, NC @ Cat's Cradle
3/25/08 - Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
3/26/08 - Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live
3/27/08 - New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
3/28/08 - Boston, MA @ Middle East
3/29/08 - Buffalo, NY @ Neitzches
3/30/08 - Ann Arbor, MI @ Blind Pig
3/31/08 - Chicago, IL @ Abbey Pub

I didn't know that people in Duluth listened to hip-hop, but, like Rhymesayers labelmate Slug says, "Love is love/if that's what you give/I could give a fuck where you grew up/or where you live." Along for the ride with Brother Ali are Abstract Rude, Toki Wright and BK-One.

Die hard Ali fans (that is, those who are registered at the Brother Ali Fan Community) can purchase tickets ahead of the general public by clicking this hyperlink tomorrow at noon central time. As said before, you have to be registered at the website in order to participate.

The Undisputed Truth is out now.

Brother Ali MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Coachella 2008 Line-Up Officially Announced!

(via P4K

Yet another music festival I can't afford to attend. Having anticipated selling a lung in order to see them in action, seeing that My Bloody Valentine is not on the bill isn't too bad of a disappointment. 2008 highlights include Kraftwerk, a reunited Portishead, and Roger Waters performing The Dark Side Of The Moon in its entirety.

For those of you who can't read the poster (via Stereogum):
FRIDAY, APRIL 25: Jack Johnson, The Verve, Raconteurs, The Breeders, Fatboy Slim, Tegan and Sara, Madness, The Swell Season, The National, Animal Collective, Slightly Stoopid, Mum, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Stars, Battles, Aesop Rock, Midnight Juggernauts, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Minus the Bear, Spank Rock, Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip, Diplo, Adam Freeland, Santo Gold, Jens Lekman, John Butler Trio, Vampire Weekend, Dan Deacon, Architecture in Helsinki, Sandra Collins, Busy P, Cut Copy, Black Lips, Datarock, Professor Murder, Reverend and the Makers, The Bees, Porter, Rogue Wave, Modeselektor, American Bang, Lucky I Am.

SATURDAY, APRIL 26: Portishead, Kraftwerk, Death Cab for Cutie, Cafe Tacuba, Sasha & Digweed, Rilo Kiley, Dwight Yoakam, M.I.A., Hot Chip, Cold War Kids, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, DeVotchKa, Flogging Molly, Mark Ronson, Turbonegro, Scars on Broadway, Islands, Enter Shikari, Calvin Harris, Boyz Noize, Junkie XL, Cinematic Orchestra, Jamie T, The Teenagers, VHS or Beta, Carbon/Silicon, Erol Alkan, Yo Majesty!, Little Brother, Bonde Do Role, St. Vincent, Akron Family, MGMT, Institubes DJs (Surkin, Para One and Orgasmic), James Zabiela, Sebastian, Kavinsky, Dredg, The Bird and the Bee, Grand Ole Party, New Young Pony Club, 120 Days, Yoav, Electric Touch, Uffie.

SUNDAY, APRIL 27: Roger Waters ("Dark Side of the Moon"), Love & Rockets, My Morning Jacket, Spiritualized, Justice, Gogol Bordello, Chromeo, The Streets, Metric, Danny Tenaglia, Simian Mobile Disco, Booka Shade, Murs, Dmitri from Paris, Autolux, The Field, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Les Savy Fav, The Cool Kids, Sons & Daughters, Sia, Holy Fuck, Black Kids, Black Mountain, The Annuals, Kid Sister w/A-Trak, Man Man, Duffy, I'm from Barcelona, Manchester Orchestra, Deadmau5, The Horrors, Austin TV, Shout Out Louds, Plastiscines, Brett Dennen.

(Jonathan Graef)


Monday, January 21, 2008

Tarlton - "Ian and Nathan Sidechained"

Download: Tarlton - "Ian and Nathan Sidechained"

There is something a bit magical about Tarlton brain-parent Brett Bullion. He doesn't really think about music like anyone else I know. He sees and hears things in ways that are truly unique and then incorporates these invisibles into his music seamlessly. I am dying to hear a full album, but Bullion keeps leaking one or two tracks at a time on his website. Click below to dig in, I recommend it.

(Ian Anderson)


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Stream Black Mountain's In The Future In Its Entirety

Download: Black Mountain - "Tyrants"

Over at the band's MySpace Page. I'm about 90 percent complete with my first listen of Into The Future, which means you can expect a review up on Monday or Tuesday. So far, the tracks that have stood out for me have been "Angels" and "Wucan", but I'll obviously will go into more detail next week.

The band will be playing the 7th Street Entry on March 24th.

MySpace Page.

(Jonathan Graef)

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The Magnetic Fields - Distortion

The Magnetic Fields
Distortion (Nonesuch, 2008)
Grade: B+

Download: The Magnetic Fields - "California Girls"
Download: The Mountain Goats - "Too Drunk To Dream"

One never quite knows what to expect from the Magnetic Fields. Usually, they're the strongest when lead singer Stephin Merritt is purring over the rumble of acoustic guitar. But I'm surprised and delighted with the direction Distortion takes. The wall of fuzz featured prominently on the album intensifies the solitude and leaves the impression that band is singing from somewhere very far away – either figuratively or literally (or both…like a satellite of loneliness).

On "I Don't Want To Get Over You" from 1999's 69 Love Songs, Merritt vowed to always be blue. And that promise holds up on Distortion. On "Too Drunk To Dream," Merritt sings of a love he needs to drink out of his head, while "Please Stop Dancing" finds Merritt and Shirley Simms each trading off laments about lost love. The latter song gives Merritt something else to be sad about: Simms completely steals his spotlight.

Hearing Distortion calls to mind my first experiences with Woody Guthrie recordings. There is so much relatable emotional intensity on the recording, but the crackle of the old recordings (or in this case, intentional distortion) seems to put up a barrier between the audience and the performer. It doesn't detract from the message of the music, but rather enhances it. It feels almost as if Merritt and Co. verbalize emotions we've all experienced, but they're in their own little world, incapable of comforting or being comforted.

I'm tempted to just drop it there, extolling the virtues of the dignified sorrow of Distortion, but the album has more to offer than that. The entire album has this great psychadelic-cum-80's veneer feeling, somewhat like Robyn Hitchcock. "California Girls," an ode to the self-absorbed SoCal lifestyle, takes a bright, jangly guitar lick and hides it behind a curtain of fuzz. The result is a song floats in the space between depressing social commentary and Hitchcock-inspired jangle pop. It's a bit disorienting, but the Fields definitely have the bravado to pull it off.

The only problem with Distortion is that while the songs don't blend together, they are pretty similar. Toward the end of the album, the heavy distortion can start to feel a little oppressive. Even so, this is still a great record to kick off the new year.

MySpace Page

(April Wright)

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The A.V. Club Asks Atmosphere's Slug About Love And Sex

Download: Atmosphere - "YMG"
Download: Atmosphere - "Domestic Dog"

Feeling frustrated with your love life? Feel like you can't get any answers and have no where to turn? Dreading spending another Valentine's Day alone? If so, head over to The A.V. Club by January 28yh, because you'll have the opportunity to ask questions about sex and love to one of hip-hop's foremost experts in those subjects: Slug, from Minneapolis-based hip-hop duo Atmosphere.

In order for you, the reader, to submit a question to Slug, you must do two things: Write your question to email address or ask your question on the comment board of the A.V. Club article announcing the feature. Do so by January 28th. If your question is one of the better ones, then the A.V. Club will forward the question on to Slug for his advice. Basically, it's the underground hip-hop version of Savage Love.

In other Atmosphere news, the duo's excellent online-only release Strictly Leakage was recently reviewed on Pitchfork. The fork also released Lemon's track
list. Here it be:

When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold tracklist:

01 Like the Rest of Us
02 Puppets
03 The Skinny
04 Dreamer
05 Shoulda Known
06 You
07 Painting
08 Your Glass House
09 Yesterday
10 Guarantees
11 Me
12 Wild Wild Horses
13 Can't Break
14 The Waitress
15 In Her Music Box

First pressings of Lemons will include a DVD of last fall's First Avenue shows which, as you may remember, were in support of Sad Clown Bad Winter 11, as well as a 40-page book which will include credits, lyrics, and a children's story from Slug. I really hope the tale resembles something like the Wonder Showzen Season 2 DVD storybook.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint That Shit Gold is out in April on Rhymesayers

Atmosphere MySpace Page

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Radiohead: Videos From 93 Feet East Webcast

("Up On The Ladder")

Download: Radiohead - "Up on the Ladder" (Live at 93 Feet East. Via Dead Flowers)

("Weird Fishes/Arpeggi")

("The Bends")

("You And Whose Army")

("Jigsaw Falling Into Place")

("The National Anthem")


All of these videos have been taken from Radiojead's latest web-cast, which was a live show broadcasted from UK music venue 93 Feet Live. Originally, it was supposed be a free in-store at the Rough Trade in London, but that show was moved by the UK police. But now, here are the glorious videos, the most noteworthy being "Up On The Ladder", an In Rainbows disc two track, and the title track of The Bends!!!.

The entire concert is available on YouTube. What you see at the top of the post are what we thought were the highlights. As you can see, it was hard to narrow it down. But you watch the entire concert in one fell swoop, thanks to a video playlist on YouTube. Find that here. Thanks to eeiciap for putting that together.

Radiohead MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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The Pines - "Worried Blues"

Download: The Pines - "Worried Blues" (Traditional)

Playing with MFR-Favorite Bon Iver tonight at the sold-out Turf Club show are Minnepolis-based folk duo The Pines, who last year put out their debut album Sparrows In The Ball. Those who liked Bon Iver's stark but beautifully uplifting aesthetic should be pleased by David Huckfelt and Benson Ramsey's sleepy melodies and Guthrie-esque Americana. Listen to their rendition of the traditional "Worried Blues". If you have tickets, consider yourself lucky.

Doors are at 9 for the 21+ show.

MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Stream The Magnetic Fields' Distortion In Its Entirety

Download: The Magnetic Fields - "Three-Way"
Download: The Magnetic Fields - "Too Drunk To Dream"

Over at the AOL Spinner page. It's no longer on the band's MySpace page. Expect an MFR review in the next few days.

MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Top Ten Tracks On Elbo.Ws Reviewed In 50 Words Or Less (1/16/07)

This feature took a little bit of a vacation, due to the fact that blogs were posting their best-of lists, which meant that the top ten consisted of previously released songs. But now that we're in the middle of January, new stuff has been cropping up. And so, another edition of the top ten tracks on Elbo.Ws reviewed in 50 words or less, this time for the
weeks of January 1st through January 16th.

The Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats - "Sax Rohmer #1"

"Sax Rohmer #1" is defined by by propulsive, determined playing of John Darnielle and Peter Hughes. But there's no angst here, despite the similarity to "Boys Don't Cry" during the transitional sections. We doubt anyone would swoon over the song's refrain, but Danielle gets points for passion. Perhaps all this Get Company?

Grade: B

Download: The Mountain Goats - "Sax Rohmer #1"

The Mountain Goats MySpace Page


Headlights - "Cherry Tulips"

Ian wrote this up earlier
. I don't share all of his enthusiasm, just most of it. The song begins with a mock-organ sound, like every cheesy church hymn does. Thankfully, "Cherry Tulips" blossoms into gorgeously with an slide guitar line that echoes like a starry night. Take notes, "Sunny Skies".

Grade: B+

Download: Headlights - "Cherry Tulips"

Headlights MySpace Page

Hello Blue Roses

Hello Blue Roses - "Sunny Skies"

I have finished listening to this song and will fail to capture the fragile beauty of Sydney Vermont's voice in less than 50 words. That said, the song itself is rather unremarkable and old-fashioned piano-pop. "Sunny Skies" is like setting up to watch a sunset only to find that it's dark already.

Grade: C+

Download: Hello, Blue Roses - "Sunny Skies"

Hello, Blue Roses MySpace Page

British Sea Power

British Sea Power - "Waving Flags"

Pretty Much Amazing.

Grade: A

Download: British Sea Power - "Waving Flags"

British Sea Power MySpace Page

Wye Oak

Wye Oak - "Warning"

The Music Slut described this as "Rilo Kiley's shoegazed obsessed cousins" and the description couldn't be more apt. Singer Jenn Wenner recalls that other Jen, but instead of an alt-country canvas, she coos under walls of tremolo-heavy Dinosaur Jr.-style feedback. If only If Children were being released next week.

Grade: B+

Download: Wye Oak - "Warning"

Wye Oak MySpace Page

Hello Blue Roses

Hello, Blue Roses - "Shadow Falls"

Download: Hello, Blue Roses - "Shadow Falls"

Looks like I have another shot at recapturing beauty. I'll have an easier go of it this time, because both Dan Bejar and Sydney Vermont have created an gorgeous tapestry of synthesized sounds and ethereal vocals that's poignantly juxtaposed against the plaintive chorus. After multiple listens, "Shadow Falls" is still a stunner.

Grade: A-

Hello, Blue Roses MySpace Page

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - "Baltimore"

Who knows if hipsters are to the aughts as what hippies were to the 60s but, if both sides ever came to blows, "Baltimore" could be used as a peace offering between the two. The hipsters get the tottering opening and lackadaisical charm; the hippies, the instrumental dexterity. Everybody wins, for once.

Grade: B+

Download: Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks - "Baltimore"

Stephen Malkmus MySpace Page

Sunny Day Sets Fire

Sunny Day Sets Fire - "Stranger"

UK-based pop quintet Sunny Day Sets Fire prove that the international language is not love but rather The Beatles. There are enough incandescent melodies, ringing guitars and space-bound synths to please the most strict of anglophiles (and Granddaddy fans), while the insistent rhythm section helps grounds the lovestruck narrator. Sunny Day Sets Fire to my soul.

Grade: A-

Download: Sunny Day Sets Fire - "Stranger"

Sunny Day Sets Fire


Yeasayer - "2080"

Still going strong since last fall's release of All Hour Cymbals, Yeasayer tastefully experiment with folk-rock's soothing melodicism and the intelligent anxiety of David Byrne by updating it for 2008 via Animal Collective. "It's a new year/I'm glad to be here". Right back at ya. Stick around, yes?

Grade: B

Download: Yeasayer - "2080"

Yeasayer on MySpace


Evangelicals - "Skeleton Man"

Comparisons between Evangelicals and The Flaming Lips are inevitable, since both bands are from Oklahoma and play psychedelic music. Both groups have also their fair share of whimsy, but Evangelicals take a more patient route to their surreal imaginations. The only mystics Evangelicals are waging war against are themselves. And it sounds pretty good.

Grade: B+

Download: Evangelicals - "Skeleton Man"

Evangelicals MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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