Monday, March 31, 2008

Death Cab for Cutie Announce New North American Tour Dates (Including Minneapolis and Chicago!)

Download: Death Cab For Cutie - "Prove My Hypothesis"

Hot off the band's MySpace blog:

Death Cab for Cutie has added more North American tour dates to follow the release of their new album NARROW STAIRS on May 13th. Special ticket pre-sales for fan club members will take place for all of the following tour dates.

05/26/08 Lehi, UT @ Thanksgiving Point
06/02/08 Minneapolis, MN @ Orpheum Theatre
06/03/08 Chicago, IL @ Millenium Park Pritzker Pavilion

06/06/08 Montreal, QC @ Jacques Cartier Pier
06/07/08 Toronto, ON @ Toronto Olympic Island
06/10/08 Brooklyn, NY @ McCarren Park Pool
06/12/08 Philadelphia, PA @ Mann Center for Performing Arts
06/14/08 Indianapolis, IN @ The Lawn at White River State
06/19/08 Mesa, AZ @ Mesa Amphitheatre
06/21/08 Berkeley, CA @ Greek Theatre

Head on over to DCFC's website to join their fan club--DCFC Local Union 1138--so that you can get in on the early ticket sales, which start on Wednesday, April 2nd. Hey, since Death Cab are union guys, do you think they support Hillary for President? ZING!. "Tonight Show", here I come!

Narrow Stairs is out on May 13th.

Death Cab for Cutie MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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The Talkers/Superhopper at the Triple Rock Tonight

The Talkers are playing tonight at the Triple Rock with Superhopper tonight, and it will be rad. No Talkers mp3s are out yet, so you'll have to MySpace it.

Superhopper drummer Nick, below, will be there.

Learn to rock with this track:

Download: Superhopper - "New Fresh Midwest"

Superhopper on MySpace

(Ian Anderson)

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R.E.M. Does La Blogotheque's "Take Away Show"

(R.E.M - "Living Well is the Best Revenge" - La Blogtheque Session)

(R.E.M - "Until The Day is Done" - La Blogtheque Session)

Pitchfork may have only been mildly impressed with Accelerate, the band's first effort since widely regarded nadir Around The Sun, but what if the song's from it were recorded in the elements for a French blog and in the elements? Find out for yourself, as today La Blogtheque released the session it recorded with the Athens-based legends, filmed in and around New York City around September 2007. Any other information you can gather is entirely up to you because, as you may have ascertained, the blog is written in French, and I'm a Spanish kind of guy. One thing is for sure, though: ¡La Musica de R.E.M es muy bien!

Watch the rest of the session here.

Accelerate is out tomorrow.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Top Ten Tracks on Elbo.Ws Reviewed in 50 Words or Less: 3/16/08--3/31/08

Bi-monthly, MFR reviews the Top Ten tracks on music-blog aggregator Elbo.WS in 50 words or less. For the weeks of March 16st through March 31st, here are the ten most popular songs:

1. She and Him - "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?"

Download: She and Him - "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?"

Over a piano vamp reminiscent of the chromatic line in Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air”, Zooey Deschanel comely tries to get a fella to take off his jacket and stay a while (wink). There’s a one-to-one correlation between the instrumental arrangements and the song’s charm: both become exponentially greater over time.

Grade: A-

2. The Dodos – “Fools”

Download: The Dodos - "Fools"

I’m not entirely sure how many times I can call this one of the best songs of the year, but here I go. The first single from The Dodos’s superb album Visiter contains galloping rhythms, sing-songy melodies, world-beat breakdowns, a propulsive rhythm guitar and impeccable songcraft. What more could music fans possibly want?

Grade: A

3. Bridges and Powerlines – “Uncaliberated”

Download: Bridges and Powerlines - "Uncalibrated"

This song’s not bad by any means, but this track by the New York-based group makes one actively wonder if all it takes to impress the blogosphere is having vaguely self-pitying vocals and shit-ton of synthesizer.

Grade: C+

4. Death Cab For Cutie – “I Will Possess Your Heart”

Download: Death Cab for Cutie - "I Will Possess Your Heart"

Death Cab can be an interesting band on occasion, insofar as whenever they try to stretch their musical boundaries, they do so in the most boring fashion as possible. With this eight-minute epic, it’s as if they’ve written a four-minute instrumental introduction for it’s own sake. However, the melody and vocals are compelling nonetheless.


5. The Sounds of Arrows - "Danger"

Download: The Sound of Arrows - "Danger"

“The world is a dangerous place/but you won’t admit it.” This track from the Swedish duo makes a compelling juxtaposition between the child-like nature of the music—filled with ebullient keyboard lines, gorgeous electronic flourishes and elegant melodies—and the paranoid warnings of the lyrics. Perhaps the blogosphere isn’t so wrong about synthesizers after all.

Grade: B+

6. Justice - "DVNO" (Justice Remix)

Download: Justice - "DVNO" (Justice Remix)

I’m sorry, I just can’t type and dance at the same time.

Grade: A

7. Ladytron - "Black Cat"

Download: Ladytron - "Black Cat"

Now that I'm back at the computer, Ladytron's solemn Eastern-Euro dance-pop seems to want to punish me for leaving in the first place. The booming drums and minor-key synth line are intriguing, (redolent of Depeche Mode) and the spoken lyrics help create an air of mystery. That said, why is this anything special, music-wise?

Grade: B-

8. Mystery Jets - "Young Love" (Shoes Mix)

Download: Mystery Jets - "Young Love" (Shoes Mix)

Another godforsaken dance track?. If Michael Ian Black invented a time machine for the sole purpose of going back to the 80s in order to write a song that he could make fun of 25 years later on one of VH1's "I Love Useless Nostalgic Crap from Previous Decades", it would sound like this.

Grade: D

9. Annuals - "Sore"

Download: Annuals - "Sore"

"Sore", the latest track from the North Carolina-based septet is a gorgeous, country-influenced lullaby that, like most of Annuals's previous work, starts out in unassuming fashion (this time, it's an acoustic guitar and a voice) before wonderfully building to glorious cacophony and a shuffling, infectiously easy-going groove. "Sore" is simply stellar.

Grade: A-

10. Langhorne Slim - "Rebel Side of Heaven"

Download: Langhorne Slim - "Rebel Side of Heaven"

There's absolutely something to be said for not reinventing the wheel, so much as keeping it rolling in a totally competent fashion. "Rebel Side of Heaven" sounds like it was influenced by soul and rock music made before 1980. Considering how many sub-and-micro-genres are in existence, a pure pop song like this is completely alright with me.

Grade: B

(Jonathan Graef)

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Friday, March 28, 2008

This Weekend in Minneapolis: So Many Shows That Will Make Your Head Explode

Oh where, oh where to begin? Well...

Friday, March 28th

Download: Jason Collett - "Out Of Time"
Download: Jason Collett - "Charlyn, Angel of Kensington"
Download: Switzerlind - "Prince Vince"

Broken Social Scene-ster and solo artist Jason Collett plays his particular brand of Dylan-esque Americana at Turf Club. Collett, like fellow Canadians The Band or Neil Young, has a paradoxical obsession with all things American, but his folk musings should translate well in the intimate space of a venue like the Turf Club.

MPLS-ers Switzerlind will wave their indie-jazz hands by opening for a 21+ show. Doors are at 9 p.m.

Download: Mute Era - "Secretly Wished I Could"
Download: The Blind Shake - "Midnight Scream"
Download: The Blind Shake - "Calling All Horses" (both via Learning Curve)
Download: MC/VL - "Cold Check It" (via The Big Ticket and The Current)

Minneapolis-based experimental band Mute Era will have not one, but two CD release shows this weekend. This fitting, of course, because the band has not one, but two, records to release: "Night Dreams of Day" and "Night Dreams of Darkness". The first show will take place at The Whole. Opening this show will be fellow Minneapolis greats The Blind Shake, Birthday Suits (both of whom did a split 7" together), the ungoogleable Thank You and hip-hop act MC/VL. The show is 18+, starts at 8, and costs $5.

Download: Daughters Of The Sun - "Light As A Feather, Stiff As A Board"
Download: Sarah Johnson - "Sun Ray"
Download: Sarah Johnson - "Laughing Class"
Download: Vampire Hands - "Paradise Knife Fights"

Those of you who are of legal drinking age and don't want to hang out with youngsters can wait one night. That's because Mute Era's second show at Big V's is a 21+ affair. The cost remains the same--$5--but the opening bands are entirely different, though of a similarly excellent quality. Opening up are psychedelic drone-poppers Daughters of the Sun (who played a terrific show at The Note in Chicago last week), fellow psych propagators Vampire Hands, who just played a CD release of their own not too long ago, and art-rockers Sarah Johnson. As mentioned before, the show is 21+ and will cost $5.

Other Friday shows include:

Download:Panther - "Puerto Rican Jukebox"
Download: Unicorn Basement - "Catch a Rainbow"

Panther and Unicorn Basement at the 7th Street Entry

Pocket Pussy (think Baby Guts, Kitten Forever) at Zombie House.

Download: Skoal Kodiak - "Cruel Tic"

MFR Reader favorite Skoal Kodiak will play at the Space.

Saturday, March 29th

Download: Headlights - "Cherry Tulips"
Download: Headlights - "Skeleton Man" (Evangelicals cover)
Download: Evangelicals - "Skeleton Man"
Download: Evangelicals - "Paperback Suicide"

Champaign, Illinois-based Headlights and Evangelicals make for perfect tour bedfellows, so much so that the bands have taken to covering each other's songs. Both play dreamy, hallucinogenic pop music that have made critics, bloggers (Hi, Ian!) and music fans swoon in delight. Headlights are more in align with the mid-tempo fuzz of shoegazer music, albeit with a little of a beat that you can dance to, while Evangelicals play a brand of whimsical psychedelia that often earns comparisons to fellow Oklahomans The Flaming Lips. Both bands play Saturday at the Nomad World Pub. Tickets are $8 for a 21+ show. Doors are at 9.

Download: Gospel Gossip - "Wind"
Download: The Vignettes - "Roll"
Download: Nancy Drew Crew - "Antifreeze"

Ladyfest Chicago was such a success (indeed, it was covered by the likes of Pitchfork) that it's truly a wonder why Minneapolis hasn't tried its own version of the feminist festival yet. Tomorrow, The Pocketknife will host a benefit for Ladyfest Minneapolis. All the relevant information is posted on the flier above, but we feel compelled to tell you that this is going to be a solid night of music for a most definitely worthy cause. Gospel Gossip, Nancy Drew Crew, Tough Tough Skin, Pocket Pussy all play a show that starts at 7:30. Suggested donation is $3-5.

Other shows:

Excellent Electro-pop group Mystery Palace play at the Kitty Cat Klub.

The Paper Chase play an early afternoon show at the 400 Bar

Kid Dakota plays the Turf Club.

Sunday, March 30th

The Ends of Love finish their three-night stand at the Ritz Theater.

(Jonathan Graef)


Tonight: The Haves Have It - CD Release Party

The raucous, addictive alt-rock trio known as The Haves Have It will be having their first CD release party at the Hexagon tonight. Friction is the band’s first full-length album, and the show is hosted by How Was The Show.

Read City Pages's article about the band here.

9 pm, 21+. Free!

Check out a video of the band performing the song "Pie":

(YouTube via How Was The Show?)

The Haves Have It MySpace page

(Tara Rogan)

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She and Him Interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air"

Download: She and Him - "Sentimental Heart"

NPR's Fresh Air, a program hosted by Hobo #127, has had many interesting guests on it over the years. You can now add cuter-than-buttons indie-duo She and Him to that list. Zooey Deschanel, the group's pianist-singer (apparently, she's been in some movies as well. Who knew!?) was interviewed by Terry Gross, the show's host. You can listen to the interview in its entirety here, along with some snippets of tracks from Volume One, She and Him's debut record.

Read MFR's take on Volume One here.

Volume One is out now.

She and Him MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Andrew Bird Makes Blink-And-You'll-Miss-It Cameo on "Top Chef Chicago"

(pic via British Rock Is Always Top)

Download: Andrew Bird - "Imitosis" (Four Tet Remix)
Download: Andrew Bird - "Fiery Crash" (Live in Minneapolis)
Download: Andrew Bird - "Heretics"
Download: Andrew Bird - "A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Hand To The Left"
Download: Dosh - "If You Want To, You Have To"

Eagle-eyed viewers who like indie-rock and reality television should be in for a pleasant surprise when they watch the most recent episode of Bravo's "Top Chef". The reality competition series, in its fourth season, took to the Windy City to find the next great chef after previous stints in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Miami Beach. This being a television show, you obviously need an establishment shot to give the viewers a proper sense of where they are.

And, obviously, nothing does that better than a effin giant marquee that says "Chicago" on it.

Indeed, the marquee of the Chicago Theatre, pictured at the top, is arguably the most famous in the city. So it would seem like an effective, if wholly obvious, way to determine locale.

Now, to the indie-rock.

In this season, the introductory montage (let's see how many film terms I can throw in - Mise en Scene!), there's a quick shot of the Chicago Theatre, and then the shot pans down ever-so-slightly. If you stop your DVR/VCR at just the right moment, you can see the name on the marquee--it will be in the lower right hand corner of your screen--is none other than Andrew Bird!

Indeed, Bird played the venue this past fall--along with Bright Eyes--and TC:C was filming this past summer.

I've only seen one episode so far this season, but if this is the same footage they use for every episode, Andrew Bird gets a free, albeit very brief, plug on Bravo any time Bravo airs the show

Pretty bitchin', no?

In other Bird news, the Chicago-based violinist will make an appearance on Dosh's new album. Read more about it here. Listen to a track from the upcoming Dosh record, titled Wolves and Wishes, at the top of the post.

Andrew Bird MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More Cowbell Gives Away Tickets to Ra Ra Riot/The Cribs Show

(img via More Cowbell)

Read all about it here. You have until 3'o clock, which is only twenty minutes away. Hop to it!

In the meantime, check out The Cribs's cover of The Replacements's "Bastards of Young":

(The Cribs - "Bastards of Young")

(Jonathan Graef)


New Flight of the Conchords - "Ladies of the World"

Download: Flight of the Conchords - "Ladies of the World

Flight of the Conchords, New Zealand's fourth most popular folk-parody duo, may not be coming back to television until next year, but those who cannot wait for new music from the rhymenoceros and the hiphopopatmus (whose lyrics are...) can take comfort. Sub Pop has just released the new single from the pair's upcoming self-titled effort. "Ladies of the World" is the kind of faux 70s-soul ditty that happens to be the group's forte, but there's a little better production value here; the haunting fade-out is impressive. As for the lyrics, the band keeps on wanting to make things special for the ladies of the world, or even the hermaphodites of the world. In fact, Jemaine Clement raps that "with your lady bits/and your man bits/you must be even into you."

In short, it's classic Conchords material, though a bit abrupt toward the end. But not only have the band released the first single, there's cover art and tracklisting too! Check one out at the top, and the other right here:

1. Foux du Fafa
2. Inner City Pressure
3. Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros
4. Think About It
5. Ladies of the World
6. Mutha'uckas
7. The Prince of Parties
8. Leggy Blonde
9. Robots
10. Boom
11. A Kiss Is Not a Contract
12. The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)
13. Business Time
14. Bowie
15. Au Revoir

Flight of The Conchords is out on April 22nd.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Video Digest: Oh Astro, Why?, Portishead, The Raveonettes, Excepter

(Portishead - "Machine Gun")

Download: Portishead - "Machine Gun"

(Why? - "Song of the Sad Assassin")

Download: Why? - "Song of the Sad Assassin"

Oh Astro - Hello Fuji Boy from Oh Astro on Vimeo.

Download: Oh Astro - "Hello Fuji Boy"

(The Raveonettes - "Hallucinations" - Live on City Centre Social - from a performance earlier this year, but only added on YouTube today.)

Watch more here.

Download: The Raveonettes - "Hallucinations"

(The Raveonettes - "Aly, Walk With Me", Live on "Late Show with David Letterman 3/25/08)

Download: The Raveonettes - "Aly Walk With Me"

(Excepter - "Kill People")

Download: Excepter - "Kill People"

(Jonathan Graef)

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tonight: The Raconteurs Listening Party at Electric Fetus

(flier via More Cowbell)

Taken Down at the request of XL/Warner Bros. Recordings

The Raconteurs MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Tonight: Beach House at the Entry (Plus "Sound Opinions" Tears Devotion a New Asshole)

Download: Beach House - "Master of None"
Download: Beach House - "Gila"

The ethereal, mid-tempo sound of dream-poppers Beach House is one that both detractors and admirers agree takes a goodly amount of time to properly digest. On their second album, Devotion, the band smoothed over the rough production edges of their 2006 self-titled debut album. That doesn't mean they've gone all Hannah Montana on us; indeed, the core sound remains. What has changed, though, is that on songs like "Gila", is that the dirge-like tempos in which Beach House specialize become a little brighter, with the church-organ elegance shining through the solemnity in a much more clear fashion. The result is a listening experience that may be initially underwhelming at first, but, like a seedling, grows exponentially greater if you keep returning to it.

Or, you know, it just might be boring as hell.

That's the take that both Greg Kot and Jim D-Rog had when they reviewed the sophomore effort from the Baltimore duo on their radio program "Sound Opinions". Essentially, the segment went something like this:

This is the part where I, Greg Kot, very carefully, patiently, and throughly, set up my argument by properly putting the music we're discussing in a clear, thoughtful context and then, as I get closer and closer to finishing my't...really...


And scene. Obviously, those aren't exact quotes, but you get the general idea. "Gila", as well as Beach House in general, has grown on me over time, but, nonetheless, I found the review to be pretty humorous. Listen to the rest of the segment here.

Minneapolis music fans will be able to judge for themselves whether or not Beach House's austere nature is compelling in a live context when the band plays the 7th Street Entry tonight at 8 p.m. The show is 21+ and tickets will set you back $10.

Devotion is available now.

Beach House MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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New Video: The Raconteurs - "Salute Your Solution"

Today has been pretty much declared The Raconteurs day by the mayor(s) of blog-town, and this just-announced video for Consolers of the Lonely's first single "Salute Your Situation" should help seal the deal. The band generously made the clip embeddable, so you can watch it at the top of the post. Whoever shot this made perfect use of black-and-white; a "Go Fug Yourself"-esque "well-played" is in order.

Update: The video has shown up on YouTube:

The director, Autumn de Wilde, apparently created the video using 2500 stills of the band. Pretty excellent.

Consolers of the Lonely just came out today.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Atmosphere's "Paint It Gold" Part 5: The Dream Child

Speaking of videos of Minnesotan hip-hop acts shooting the shit, here's episode 5 of Atmosphere's YouTube series "Paint it Gold". We're starting to get into slasher movie territory here, folks.

The series, which takes its name from the duo's upcoming album When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, is an attempt to directly answer fan-submitted questions (and we all know that Slug loves to answer questions from strangers) about their new album, or whatever else may pop into their fans' little heads. Email the question, along with your name and address to Each time a video is posted, one questioner (totally sic) will receive a copy of their new record, the title of which is...ah, dammit, it was right on the tip of my tongue? Something about fruits and life lessons?

Oh that's right! When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold is out April 22nd on Rhymesayers.

Atmosphere MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Rock for Hunger Interviews Brother Ali

(Part One of Rock for Hunger's interview with Brother Ali)

(Part Two of Rock for Hunger's interview with Brother Ali)

Judging by Toki Wright's Tour Blog, the Truth is Here Tour, headlined by fellow Rhymesayer act Brother Ali, is going quite splendidly, even though the brief jaunt across the U.S. and A has not been without its problems (such as a mild trailer accident in Omaha). But even though Wright, Brother Ali, Abstract Rude, and BK-One have been playing one live show a day for the past month or so, they can still take the time to help out those who are in need.

Ali, in particular, sat down with an interview for Rock For Hunger, an organization which, as its name might suggest, is dedicated to "exists to end the cycle of poverty and
homelessness through education and uniting the community...through music and peace". The charity group just launched its Conversations series where they interview artists who are stopping through Orlando, where Rock For Hunger was founded. Yesterday, the foundation put up the first part of Ali's interview, with the second part to follow today. Both parts one and two can be found at the top of the post. Each video is worth watching, as not only do they contain Ali waxing philosophical about mid-west hip-hop and other matters, but they also feature Brother Ali in his domain; that is, on-stage, live.

If you want to see more of Brother Ali in concert, then head on over to Flow.TV, as the hip-hop website has uploaded incendiary performances of "Truth Is" and "Uncle Sam Goddamn" for your viewing pleasure.

The Undisputed Truth is out now.

Brother Ali MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Bob Mould Participates in A.V. Club's "Random Rules", Drops Some Science About Chicago Punk

Download: Bob Mould - "See A Little Light"
Download: Bob Mould - "The Silence Between Us"
Download: Bob Mould - "High Fidelity"
Download: Sugar - "Helpless" (all MP3s via Bob Mould's website)

"Random Rules" is a feature over at the A.V. Club where the entertainment section of The Onion asks various artists, musicians, authors, and anyone else relevant to the cultural landscape to put their MP3 players on random and then comment on what comes up. No skipping allowed! This week's participant is Bob Mould, who, to quote Ron Burgandy, "is kind of a big deal" when it comes to his role in Minneapolis music (though who knows whether or not Mould's apartment has leather-bound books or smells of rich mahogany). In order to promote his new record, The District Line, Mould took part in the feature.

Check out the very first song that pops up:

Black Flag, "Rise Above"

Bob Mould: Black Flag, hilarious. Was this the first Henry track, or was "Jealous Again" the first Henry track? It's definitely Henry now that they're singing. I think it was the period where there were five members of Black Flag for that moment, when Dez Cadena went from singing to playing the second guitar.

The A.V. Club: There's that old story about Black Flag seeing Hüsker Dü in Minneapolis and being blown away by the whole frenzied spectacle.

BM: It was Chicago, actually. It was at Oz. It was after a show that they played at another club. They came over and saw Hüsker Dü and sorta flipped out. That was '80 or '81. I can't remember, somewhere in there. Black Flag were quite a band. That was always quite a sight, to see them onstage

Being a young whippersnapper, I had not heard of the club OZ. So I did a bit of the digging, and this is what I found articles which mentioned the now-defunct Chicago club's role in the Chicago punk scene.

Check out Miles Raymer's article about Chicago punk here as well as the Punk Database's Wiki about Oz here.

Listen to various Bob Mould MP3s at the top of the post.

Buy The District Line here.

Bob Mould MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Retribution Gospel Choir Awarded 7.5 On Pitchfork

Download: Retribution Gospel Choir - "What She Turned Into"

It looks like everything is coming up Milhouse for Duluth-based trio Retribution Gospel Choir. First off, the band, an offshoot of Low, played the Turf Club this past weekend to celebrate the release of their new self-titled album. Secondly, the band, who are self-described as group that writes "two minute pop songs (that) run into psychedelic improvisations and drum-n-bass-heavy dub", just received a positive review for their efforts from the likes of Pitchfork, who awarded the album a rating of 7.5.

Check out the lede: "Who knew it would be such a pleasure to hear Alan Sparhawk-- master of minimalist pop--rock out with his cock out?".

Read the rest of the review here.

Whether or not you laughed or shrieked at the image of Sparhawk rocking out sans pantaloons, you can order the album directly from the Caldo Verde website by clicking here.

Listen to "What She Turned Into", a song from Retribution Gospel Choir, at the top of the post.

Retribution Gospel Choir MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Tonight: Black Mountain at the Entry

Download: Black Mountain - "Tyrants"
Download: Black Mountain - "Druganaut"

For those who might need a modern day entry point to classic-rock titans such Black Sabbath, Jefferson Airplane, or Led Zeppelin, the Vancouver-based quintet Black Mountain's able brand of AOR consolidation should suffice. In The Future, released earlier this year on Jagjaguwar contains familiar patterns from the playbook of FM radio's heyday--the most prevalent examples being Sabbath's doom-portending guitar tones (evident in album-opener "Stormy High", on which Stephen McBean successfully imitates Tony Iommi), Grace Slick's piercing vibrato (pretty much any song on which Amber Webber sings), and last, but certainly not least, the power-ballads and epic-rockers that are the genre's bread and butter.

Paradoxically, In The Future's expert emulation is both its strength and weakness. For every successful interpolation like "Stormy High" or "Wucan" (with its sensual shuffle), there's "Stay Free", a track which sounds like a rejected Black Crowes b-side, and "Bright Lights", a 17-minute Godzilla-of-a-song that ultimately tests the listeners patience (and this is coming from a guy who loves ambient-based music). Still, a good impression is a good impression, and under the cloud of just the right kind of smoke, Black Mountain in concert should surely make a favorable one.

Black Mountain plays tonight at the Seventh Street Entry. Tickets are $10 for a 21+ show and can be bought at the venue.

Black Mountain MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Top Ten Songs on Elbo.Ws Chart Reviewed In 50 Words or Less: 3/1/08-3/16/08

(The Notwist)

When not heavily ensconced in the search for employment (things are looking up, gang!), MFR likes to assign a grade, on a bi-monthly basis (ha!), to the top ten tracks on music blog aggregator Here are the top ten tracks for the first 15 days of March. Expect the next batch of reviews by the 31st. I promise. Please hold me accountable. Seriously.

1. The Notwist - "Good Lies"

Download: The Notwist - "Good Lies"

Despite the fact that this decade has proved otherwise*, The Notwist concoct escapist electro-pop that slowly, but surely, builds to the subtly climatic refrain (“Let’s just imitate the real/until we find a better one”). Not a bad idea in theory, but The Notwist should probably be a tad more persuasive about such a demand.

Grade: B

2. Tokyo Police Club - "In The Cave"

Download: Tokyo Police Club - "In A Cave"

Upon first listen, this TPC track hits hard. However, upon multiple listens, "In A Cave" strikes one as sounding like a Death Cab For Cutie song that hits just a little harder. Still, considering that DCfC wants to be Yo La Tengo these days, maybe that's not such a bad thing after all.

Grade: B

3. The Breeders - "Bang On"

Download: The Breeders - "Bang On"

The minimalist, futuristic new-wave groove suggests Missy Elliot remixing The B52s, but the result sounds like the band was so blown away, in its stoned state, by the beat that they forgot to write a proper song around it. What a waste of a perfectly good white girl's idea of funk.

Grade: C

4. Colin Meloy - "We Both Go Down Together"

Download: Colin Meloy - "We Both Go Down Together"

For me, this Picaresque track has been the Pepsi to "Losing My Religion"'s Coke, but considering how high the standards were set by the latter, "We Both Go Down Together", even in a live, solo, acoustic setting, still measures up. And it's the choice of a new generation!

Grade: B+

5. The Gutter Twins - "Idle Hands"

Download: The Gutter Twins - "Idle Hands"

I'm not sure how, but between "Idle Hands"'s sepulchral beginning and its Zepplin-esque romper-stomper end, I managed to consume an entire jug of moonshine. I'm not pointing fingers--Lanegan!--but even just listening to this song makes my liver ache. I just wish it had some kind of tangible effect on the rest of me.

Grade: B-

6. The Ruby Suns - "Tane Muhata"

Download: The Ruby Suns - "Tane Mahuta"

The sunny "Tane Muhata" has the ability to lift one's spirits with its Afro-Cuban influenced chanting, horns, percussion and nylon-string guitar solos. New Zealand may be known as the land of the long white cloud, but "Tane Muhata" certainly demonstrates, via this song, that Australia isn't too shabby either.

Grade: B

7. The Oaks - "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"

Download: The Oaks - "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"

The horn-heavy, syncopated guitar line music party continues with this epic, 8-minute ballad which shares a title with the Carson McCullers novel. Unlike "Tame Muhata", though, "Hunter" swells to a heart-stopping crescendo, then breathes, with a jazz-influenced coda to help the listener digest the heavy emotions. Simply put, the overall result is simply stunning.

Grade: A-

8. Stephen Malkmus - "Cold Son"

Download: Stephen Malkmus - "Cold Son"

One of the more compact, concise tracks from the extendo-jam-heavy Real Emotional Trash, "Cold Son" contains Malkmus' trademark lassie-faire vibe, but the emotions surrounding the song are more bittersweet and genuine. But just before you think things are too serious, the goof-ball finish lets you know that there's a little bit of same old smart-aleck Malkmus left.

Grade: B

9. French Kicks - "Abandon"

Download: French Kicks - "Abandon"

A chiming, ringing guitar line kicks off this track from the New York quartet, who then settle into a pleasing, fluid track of synth-flavored indie-pop. There's certainly something immediately warm and welcoming about the Kicks' harmonious vocals, but everything else behind it sounds all-too-familiar to anyone listening to indie-pop in the past decade.

Grade: B-

10. Mr. Gnome - "Pirates"

Download: Mr. Gnome - "Pirates"

This sounds like TV on The Radio switched the dial during a Celebration of some kind.

Grade: C

(Jonathan Graef)

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Israel Lopez, Inventor of the Mambo, Dies at Age 89

(Bebo Valdes and Israel "Cachao" Lopez - "Lagrimas Negras")

Israel Lopez, the Cuban bassist and composer who, along with bandleader Damaso Perez Prado, is credited with inventing the style of music known as the "Mambo", has died at the age of 89. Lopez, who was known universally by his nickname "Cachao", passed away at Coral Gables Hospital as the result of complications from kidney failure. Arguably the most important figure in Cuban music, Lopez created the style of mambo by adding an open-ended improvisation to the traditional Cuban daizon and incorporating the horns from big band.

At the top of the post, you'll find two videos of Lopez performing with fellow mambo progenitor Bebo Valdes. As a bassist, I can honestly say that Lopez had some serious chops and will be deeply missed. The fact that he was still performing well into his eighties is incredibly impressive.

Read the LA Times Obituary here.
Read the Wikipedia entry on Mambo here.

And, since this is a indie music blog and everything, there is a video of David Byrne's track "Make Believe Mambo", from his solo album Rei Momo:

Also, finally, because it seems appropriate, here's the mambo from "West Side Story":

Israel Lopez MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Friday, March 21, 2008

The Dodos's Visiter Receives An 8.5 from Pitchfork

Download: The Dodos - "Fools"

We've been fans of The Dodos since the old Sliver Magazine days, though we may have not done enough to hype them up at the time. That said, I'm sure any band will take a initial B+ rating (for their self-released debut album Beware of the Maniacs, back when the San Franciscan duo was known as Dodo Bird) and then an upgrade to this writer's Top Ten of 2006. I suppose if they were ever a time to emit a Stephen Colbert-style "I called it! Woo!", it would be now (even if doing so would be ostentatious).

Many things have happened for Messrs. Meric Long and Logan Kroeber, not the least of which included being signed to Frenchkiss on the strength of Maniacs, an album which manage to combine the psych-folk experimentation of Animal Collective with Beatles-esque love songs, virtuoso finger-picking, sing-songy melodies, and Kroeber's relentlessly skillful percussion (previous experience in a prog-metal band will do that for ya). It was only a matter of time before buzz around the band built. And build it did, with the bloggers (including ourselves) going kookoo for alt-primitivist cocoa puffs--the video for Visiter's single, "Fools" (an MP3 of which you can find at the top of the post) certainly didn't hurt either.

This past Tuesday, all that momentum built to the release of their second proper album, Visiter. Pitchfork, the indie-media giant, gave the release an 8.5, calling it a record that "reveals the celebratory acoustics of Led Zeppelin III or a more song-oriented take on tourmates Akron/Family."

Read the rest here.

About Maniacs, I wrote that "the second half of Beware of the Maniacs has plenty of songs that show Dodo Bird's potential for growth, the reason being that they display a greater amount of sonic variety." While there will be a more in-depth review posted sometime next week, I can definitely say that Visiter definitely takes advantage of the opportunity to expand on the previous record's soundscapes. Also, that Visiter is unquestionably one of the best records of the year.

Which is a good thing, because I really wasn't looking forward to eating my own hat.

Visiter is out now.

The Dodos MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Minneapolis in Chicago: Daughters of the Sun, Tonight at The Note

New Video: Atmosphere - "Shoulda Known"

All good songs must have videos, and here's the one for "Shoulda Known", the first single from MPLS-duo Atmosphere's upcoming album, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold. I will never tire of typing that. In the meantime, check out the video at the top of the post.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Download Two Tracks from Vampire Hands' New Album (Plus CD Release Party Info)

Not from us, unfortunately. But those of you who want to download two songs from MPLS psychedelic band Vampire Hands, whose new album Me & You Cherry Red will be released tomorrow at the Turf Club, can do so by heading over to RCRDLBL. The website has two Vampire Hands offerings: "Queen Juno" and "No Fun."

Also playing the CD release party are rappers MC/VL, STNNNG-offshoot Private Dancer and MFR favorite Gospel Gossip.

The March 21st show is 21+ and starts at 9 p.m.

Directly below is a video of the band performing "Queen Juno" at the Turf Club last year.

Me & You Cherry Red is out tomorrow.

Vampire Hands MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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She and Him - Volume One (Plus a Stream of the Entire Record)

She and Him
Volume One (Merge, 2008)
Grade: A-

Download: She and Him - "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?"
Download: She and Him - "Take It Back"

Some things are just meant to go together: chips and salsa, Jack and Coke, my chemistry homework and a bottle of cheap vodka. But what happens when the mega-cute co-star of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy is added to indie rock heartthrob M. Ward's already blossoming career? Will it be too saccharine to handle? Or will it strike just the right balance between sugar and spice?

Named She & Him, M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel set out on Volume One to answer those precise questions.

The answer is that Ward and Deschanel go together like Mr. Pibb and Red Vines.

The album opens up with "Sentimental Heart," a piano-based slow jam about a broken heart. It gets off to a little bit of a slow start before busting out into heavy vocal layering that characterizes the rest of the album.

From the album's lead single, "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?," it was hard to predict where exactly the album was headed. As it turns out, the duo has crafted an album of pristine, late '50s/early '60s girl group pop music.

Overall, Volume One is a refreshing album because Deschanel is honest and simple in her lyrics. She writes words that neither bleed too hard from the heart nor break it down too far for us. But what truly makes her a sympathetic figure on the album is her voice. Deschanel's a little scratchy, she doesn't have the best range, but she really makes the most of what she's working with. If the duo's SXSW set was anything to go on, the sound holds up live, something for which I have an immense amount of respect.

Ward nestles Deschanel's lyrics and voice in drifting, drawling Brian-Wilson-in-the-shower-with-the-Ronettes style guitar licks. As cheesy as that sounds (and as cheesy as it could have been), the whole thing works out great. Volume One still manages to sound retro without being overly nostalgic or winking too much at the audience (take that, Vampire Weekend!). With Ward coming at the album from a background that incorporates basically every facet of American music in the past 50 years, Volume One's fixation on the '50s and '60s just seems like the next logical step for him.

And the album is mercifully short. Much like last year's mega-hit video game "Portal," Volume One ends before it can overstay its welcome. Clocking in at almost 40 minutes, the record ends on "Sweet Darling," a re-imagining of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." The act of bringing an album to a close before you run out of ideas doesn't get enough love, but She & Him leave the listener with not only a satisfying listen, but a reason to come back for more.

Stream the album in its entirety over at MySpace.

(April Wright)

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John Vanderslice Appreciation Post

Download: John Vanderslice - "Tablespoon of Codeine"

Last night marked the third time I saw John Vanderslice live (once at the Entry in Minneapolis, once at Schuba's in Chicago, and last night with Malkmus). Looking around at the crowd during Vanderslice's set, I couldn't help but feel that the deep appreciation I hold for JV wasn't shared by those around me. That's not to say that people weren't into it, I just think they weren't as into it as they should have been.

So, I thought I would make a you-should-really-like-John-Vanderslice post.

You can pick up all of his records HERE.

John Vanderslice on MySpace

(Ian Anderson)


Rivers Cuomo - "Lover In The Snow" Video

Lover In The Snow

Cute or over-the-top? You decide.

(Ian Anderson)


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Raconteurs Release Consolers of the Lonely Tracklist (Plus Gnarls Barkley's New Album Available Now!)

Download: Gnarls Barkley - "Who's Gonna Save My Soul?"
Download: The Raconteurs - "Steady As She Goes"

Gnarls Barkley and The Raconteurs may not have much in common musically, unless you were either pleased or disappointed with their respective debut albums (although, the Racounteurs did cover Cee Lo and Danger Mouse's smash hit at the 2006 Lollapalooza - video of which you can watch at the top of the post). Business-wise, however, both groups are embracing the Radiohead/Stars/Nine Inch Nails/Atmosphere/Anyone-Who's-Using-That-Thing-Three-Feet-Above-Their-Ass model of releasing new music, which is to release your work directly to your fans with little in the way of the traditional hype express build-up. Both groups have announced in the past few days that the physical copies their highly-anticipated follow-ups to their debuts (Consolers of the Lonely and The Odd Couple) will be available in six days--March 25th, 2008.

From the mouths of side projects:

The Raconteurs are happy to announce that in one week's time their second album, entitled Consolers of the Lonely, will be available EVERYWHERE Tuesday, March 25th.

"'Album' meaning: full length vinyl, CD and digital formats; and 'everywhere' meaning: local mom and pop Indie retailers, corporate superstores, supermarkets, iTunes, Amazon, the band's own website and any other location that could get the record up and going this quickly (some places couldn't move this fast, so they will join in as soon as they can)...With this release, The Raconteurs are forgoing the usual months of lead time for press and radio set up, as well as forgoing the all important 'first week sales'. We wanted to explore the idea of releasing an album everywhere at once and THEN marketing and promoting it thereafter. The Raconteurs would rather this release not be defined by its first weeks sales, pre-release promotion, or by someone defining it FOR YOU before you get to hear it.

In additional Consolers news, Pitchfork announced earlier this afternoon the tracklisting to the album. Here it be:

Consolers of the Lonely:

01 Consoler of the Lonely
02 Salute Your Solution
03 You Don't Understand Me
04 Old Enough
05 The Switch and the Spur
06 Hold Up
07 Top Yourself
08 Many Shades of Black
09 Five on the Five
10 Attention
11 Pull This Blanket Off
12 Rich Kid Blues
13 These Stones Will Shout
14 Carolina Drama

But all of this is not to make Gnarls Barkley look like slouches. Indeed, while The Odd Couple was originally set to be released on April 8th, the duo decided to move the date up to...right now!

From The Mouths Of Side Projects, part two: "With the shifting seasons, furtive romantic entanglements and fierce college basketball rivalries, the latter half of March can be confusing. People need to be soothed and inspired now." (via Pitchfork

The Odd Couple can be purchased at iTunes right now.

So who will do better in the race to embrace new media? Only time, and album sales, can tell.

The Raconteurs MySpace Page
Gnarls Barkley MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Freestyle to Atmosphere, Then Have It Aired on MTV2 (Rhymesayers/Sucker Free Contest)

Download: Atmosphere - "Shoulda Known"

Sucker Free has announced a contest involving MPLS rap duo Atmosphere, their label Rhymesayers and MTV2. The contest involves you, the reader, or in this case, viewer, download the instrumental version of Atmosphere's song "Shoulda Known." Then, you upload the video of your own version, complete with freestyle, to the MTV2 website. The winner of the contest will have their video played on the "Sucker Free" show.

Read more about the contest here

When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold is out April 22nd.

Atmosphere MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Barack Obama Gets Medieval On The Ass Of America's False Dichotomies (Or: The Most Insightful Speech on Race Relations Ever)

In one fell oratorical swoop, Barack Obama managed to not only condemn his former Pastor's inflammatory remarks about America, but also put into historical context the anger fueling those statements, while acknowledging the presence, influence and humanity that Rev. Wright has had on his own life. Furthermore, Obama stated that while the African-American community needs to take more responsibility for its own standing, Caucasian-Americans must also be more understanding about, and acknowledge, the frustration, hurt, and dehumanization which are the legacy of State-sanctioned discrimination from the 50s and 60s is alive and well in modern-day society.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it -- those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations -- those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future.

Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor have the anger and the bitterness of those years...That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

However, Obama stressed that concerns about crime, poverty, and job-loss that White Americans may have must not be dismissed outright as racial intolerance. In sum, Obama stated that, while anger in all communities must be acknowledged, it also must not be a destructive force. Instead, a dialogue must take place where common ground is sought:

Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense.

So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze -- a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns -- this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

In conclusion, Obama said that Wright's mistake was not addressing racism, but rather assuming that "our society was static" had nothing had changed. Obama stated that both Whites and Blacks must work together and acknowledge problems in both communities so that tangible change can be realized. Only by rejecting the cynicism that modern politics breeds can we form a more perfect union.

Read the speech in its entirety here or watch it at the top of the post.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Video: Lupe Fiasco (feat. Nikki Jean) - "Hip Hop Saved My Life"

(via Nah Right)

Download: Lupe Fiasco - "Superstar Remix" (feat. T.I. and Young Jeezy)

Lupe Fiasco has a fascinatingly complex relationship with hip-hop as a whole. "Hurt Me Soul", a standout track from Lupe's stellar debut album, Food & Liquor, portrayed Fiasco's conflicted feelings about the genre in an intelligent, stylistic manner. "Hip Hop Saved My Life", the latest single from Liquor follow-up The Cool, seems a little bit more straightforward, as it tells a tale of a rapper struggling to realize his dreams. The video for the song, just released yesterday via Nah Right, is a direct outline of the story that 'Lu tells on the record. It's an imaginative clip that makes great use of (literally) moving pictures and storytelling. Watch it at the top of the post.

Lupe Fiasco MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hot Chip - "Sensual Seduction" (that's right, a Snoop Dogg cover)

Download: Hot Chip - "Sensual Seduction" (Snoop Dogg Cover)

The always friendly Hot Chip have cooked up something special this week with the release of an excellent cover of Snoop Dogg's "Sensual Seduction." It's pretty real. However, I wished they had changed the name to "Seductual Seduction," because I think that is just down right hilarious.

Hot Chip on MySpace

(Ian Anderson)

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