Thursday, July 31, 2008

Video: Atmosphere - "You" (Live on "Late Show With David Letterman"

h/t Switchblade Comb

Watch for Doomtree member P.O.S.

(Jonathan Graef)

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New Jaguar Love - "Highways of Gold"

Download: Jaguar Love - "Bats Over The Pacific Ocean"
Download: Jaguar Love - "Highways of Gold"

Supergroup is a term that usually refers to new bands from the classic-rock era that contained members of more well-established acts. But, as Jaguar Love has proved, you don't have to play blues-derived rock music in order to be considered a supergroup. Consisting of former members from progressive-minded noise-punks The Blood Brothers and adorably anthemic rockers Pretty Girls Make Graves (who, it should be said, sounded nothing like The Smiths), Jaguar Love is a band whose sound is closer to the latter than the former, but is still unique in its own right. The group put out an EP earlier this year, and, on August 19th, will release their debut album, Take Me To The Sea.

Yesterday, Matablog leaked the first MP3 from the record, called "Highways of Gold". The song sounds like a cover of The Clash as done by, well, Pretty Girls Make Graves, but with a new-wave style breakdown consisting of keys, before the band comes in to join the fun. Listen to it at the top of the post.

Pre-order Sea here.

Jaguar Love MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Who's Gonna Save Jay Leno's Soul? Gnarls Barkley, That's Who

Stream: Gnarls Barkley - "Who's Gonna Save My Soul?"

Before The Odd Couple take the stage at Lollapalooza this coming weekend, the nom de side-project-gone-wild of Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo decided to gig at a venue that's probably far less riddled with ubiquitous red cups, brosephs, and Perry Ferrell: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. (Although, I guess its possible that Kevin Eubanks is a fucking party beast It was there that the duo performed the second single from this year's sophomore release The Odd Couple, "Who's Gonna Save My Soul?". Uh, better not look at the guy who once shilled Doritos to bovine America. But judging by the somber, dignified (well, except for Danger Mouse's Lincoln-esque top hat), and reflective performance of "Soul" that Gnarls give, I bet that the titular question of the song is rhetorical in nature. Just a guess.

The Odd Couple is out now. Buy it here.

Gnarls Barkley MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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New The Streets - "The Escapist"

Download: The Streets -"The Escapist"

When Mike Skinner, AKA Grime rapper The Streets, put out his first album, Original Pirate Material, file-sharing music on the internet had gone through its first incarnation (i.e., Napster), and was just on the way to its second. However, with the advent of high speed internet connections and high-quality MP3 formats, it's been easier and easier for Original Pirate Material to become, well, pirate material. But, as we all know, there is a "NEW WAY OF DOING BUSINESS", and it often involves artists themselves giving away their work for free. Sometimes its an entire record, and sometimes its just a song. With Everything Is Borrowed, The Streets new effort that's due on September 15th, Skinner is giving only a partial sample of the feast to come.

"The Escapist", the first single from Borrowed, is more in the contemplative vein of past songs like "Dry Your Eyes", though this song is closer to flat-out soul, at least musically. Lyrically, Skinner is addressing his own life, rather than a failed relationship. "I blink my eyes/this is reminding me/that life flies/in a blink of an eye" may sound redundant, but upon closer inspection, it's a sentiment filled with The Streets' trademark self-effacing wit. Over a soft drumbeat and a steadily increasing amount of instrumentation, Skinner finds the unexamined life to be worth living, but at a hard cost. Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living, indeed.

Everything is Borrowed is out Sept. 15th. Download "The Escapist" here, or listen to it at the top of the post.

The Streets MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Video: Vampire Weekend - "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"

Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa

It feels so natural/Tim Burton Wes Anderson Robert Smith/Peter Gabriel, too.

Vampire Weekend MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reminder: Atmosphere on "Letterman" Tonight

Just a quick reminder to set your DVRs or any other recording device to CBS tonight, as Atmosphere are the musical guest on "Late Night With David Letterman". Check your local listings for showtimes.

(Jonathan Graef)

Video: Muja Messiah - Live at First Avenue

Muja Messiahs 'The Adventures of B-Boy/D-Boy Album Release Party' from SAUCYDAMEDELUX.COM on Vimeo

Those of you who didn't get a chance to see Muja Messiah's CD release party on Sunday can watch this video of Mu performing with Atmosphere on their collaboration "What's This World Coming To". You can't really hear it on the video, but the track is driven by a jazz-influence bass line and Slug's smoke-filled flow. Pretty good stuff.

Read MFR's review of Muja Messiah's new record below.

(Jonathan Graef)


Video: M83 - "Kim & Jessie"

M83 - Kim & Jessie

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Muja Messiah - Thee Adventures of a B-Boy D-Boy

Muja Messiah
Thee Adventures of a B-Boy D-Boy
Grade: B+

Download: Muja Messiah - "Give it Up" (feat. Black Thought) (via Nah Right)

Of all the genres of music to explore what happens when pure-hearted ambition becomes malignant greed, rap is the most likely to not delivering this message. After all, life ain't nothing but bitches and money, right? Judging by the prideful boasts of "Intro", the, um, first track from Muja Messiah's second solo album, Thee Adventures of a D-Boy B-Boy, a listener couldn't be blamed for thinking that Mu subscribed to NWA's joie de vivre. That said, any fool with ears can, and should, be able to tell that Messiah has more than money and ladies on his mind. (Indeed, Muja himself says so directly on "Pretty Gurl").

Incendiary tracks like "Patriot Act" and "Give It Up" (the latter of which features a guest spot from The Roots' Black Thought) showcase Muja Messiah caustic, brutally funny sense of humor, as well as his gift for pointing out the absurdity and hypocrisy of American life post-9/11. Muja's summation of the World Wars, as well as slavery, in "Give It Up" is one of the album's highlights, and one of numerous examples of his thought-provoking lyrical talent. That said, the man loves conspicuously consuming, a trait that he shares with the politicians he rightfully lambasts on "Act".

The dichotomy between radical political thought and mainstream materialism is nothing new in hip-hop (indeed, Tupac based his whole career on it). However, when you constantly deliver the goods like Muja Messiah does, particularly during B-Boy's scorching opening numbers ("MadNess", "What's This World Coming To", featuring Slug of Atmosphere), it's hard to care about any supposed inconsistencies. Furthermore, Messiah's ability with contrasts is what drives him to experiment with different styles of hip-hop on Thee Adventures... (the backpacker groove of "World"; classic-rock sampling of "MadNess"; and the "Forgot about Dre"-esque bounce and rapid-fire flow of "B-Boy D-Boy"). Given that amount of diversity, it's remarkable how consistent and engaging Thee Adventures... is.

But while there's not a bad track on the record, some are certainly better than others. Messiah is at his best when he's using songs to accompany the DVD of his own life, and not when he's trying to providing background music to someone else's. Tracks like "So Far, So Good" and "Growing Pains" shine because of the specifics in the autobiographical details. However, songs like "Beautiful" (featuring Samahra of Black Blondie) and "Fatal Attraction", which contains a hot verse from Nina, suffer because of a dearth of them. Additionally, those later songs lack the originality that Muja Messiah often displays in short, quirky bursts. ("Niggativity", inspired by a real-life incident, is a creative, funny album highlight, and a rare hip-hop skit that works).

In other words, if you've been listening to top-40 radio this decade, you've already heard these songs. Still, a hook is a hook, and both "Beautiful" and "Fatal Attraction" have pretty good ones. Come to think of it, so does the rest of Thee Adventures.... It's too early to tell whether or not Messiah will lead hip-hop fans to the promised land. But, like fellow egotist Kanye West, the talk is more than backed up with the walk. Originality is indeed far more invigorating than imitation, and, more often than not, so is Muja Messiah.

(Jonathan Graef)

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New Music Smorgasbord: A Playlist (Plus: MFR Seeks Writers)


Download: Chairlift - "Evident Utensil"
Download: Friendly Fires - "Jump in the Pool"
Download: Peachcake Comes Alive! - "Stop Acting Like You Know More About The Internet Cafe Than I Do"
Download: LOAF - "They Be Underwater"
Download: Calico Horse - "Happy Placebo Syringe Day"
Download: Skew - "Stadiums are OK Too"

Hey there readers. Once in a while, when the amount of MP3s I need to write up pile up high on my digital desk, I make a playlist of all the songs I've gotten. This is one of them. Rather than talk about them, I've decided to let you readers take hold of the discussion as a means of stimulating the comments section. Its just basically been reader Jon Jon wandering the comment Earth like Kane from Kung Fu. So leave a hullaboo and get the discussion started. Tell us what you think about these songs.

Also, we're looking for writers! We're unfortunately unable to pay you anything but gratitude. But if you're interesting in contributing, email with your writing samples. We will get back to you soon.

Alright, have at it!

(Jonathan Graef)

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New Shawn Hewitt & The National Strike - "One on One"

Download: Shawn Hewitt & The National Strike -"One On One"

Splitting the difference between Stevie Wonder's warm, analog soul and Radiohead's glacial, post-millennium paranoia may seem like an impossible challenge, but based on tracks from their upcoming album, Spare Hearts, Shawn Hewitt & The National Strike are more than up to it. The underlying factor in combining the two is to release that both hit their artistic peak by releasing forward-thinking concept albums, and that, when they want to be, Radiohead can be warm and humane in surprising ways (particularly on their more orchestral numbers).

Whether or not Spare Hearts is such an album is one thing, but if "One On One", the first intentionally leaked track from Spare Hearts, is any indication, the record should be filled with catchy, adventurous songs. With a drumbeat that comes from outta Nowhere, "One by One" comes across as an exact combination of Radiohead's jittery electronic angst and Stevie Wonder's piano-based soul ballads. That's an equation you certainly can't beat that, regardless of if the song is in the key of life.

Listen to "One By One" at the top of the post. Spare Hearts is out on September 30th via EMI Canada.

Check out their performance on MPR few years back.

Shawn Hewitt & The National Strike MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New Hearts of Palm UK - "People and Logistics"

Download: Hearts of Palm UK - "People and Logistics"

While I've never been a fan of the suffix "UK" on a band's name (especially when the band isn't even from the UK) I've gotta admit to being impressed by Hearts of Palm UK. Mixing the pleasant, open sweetness of Camera Obscura or the Hermit Crabs with mellow electronica, HOPUK strikes at twee-pop for the digital age.

Their debut For Life is due out on Hypnote October 14th, but you can check out "People and Logistics" above and two other tracks on their MySpace.

Hearts of Palm UK MySpace Page

(April Wright)

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Tonight: Doomtree Fifth Element In-Store

After years of false starts, and with anticipation high, Minneapolis hip-hop collective Doomtree is set to drop its self-titled debut album. The band has given us listeners a couple of examples of what can be expected from Doomtree. In addition to those morsels, a new song titled "Game Over" has been posted over at the group's MySpace Page.

Needless to say, anyone who's wanted to hear tracks from this record has gotten more than a few chances. And, if they've heard the songs, they'll most likely want to see them performed live. After all, Doomtree's got a little something of a reputation to uphold. If listeners are interested watching the collective do their thing live, and for free, then they can head on over to Fifth Element. Its there that Doomtree will perform an all-ages show, and will undoubtedly perform tracks from the new record. And, if you're so bold enough, you can get your copy of the record signed by the group themselves.


Venue: Fifth Element
Address: 2411 Hennepin Ave. S.
East Village
City: Minneapolis
State: MN
Phone: 612-377-0044
Doors: 5:00PM
Ages: All Ages
Cost: Free!

But go early. Free is worth a lot in these troubled times.

Doomtree is out today.

Doomtree MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)


New Kings of Leon - "Crawl"

Download: Kings of Leon - "Crawl"

"Crawl", the first single from their upcoming album Only By The Night, begins with a distorted bassline similar to Bjork's "Army of One". However, with Kings of Leon being a capital-R Rawk band, the track settles into more conventional territory once the vocals begin. In fact, "Crawl" is not entirely dissimilar to the classic Who song "The Seeker". For those who've been searching low and high for a straightforward, but slightly off-kilter, rock song have found it. No need to ask Timothy Leary about shit. So if you complain once more...

Listen to the song at the top of the post, then go over here to download it. It will only cost you your soul email address. Nothing of consequence, right?

Only By The Night is out on September 23rd.

Kings of Leon MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tours: The Veils; Deerhoof

THU 9/4/2008 NEW YORK, NY Bowery Ballroom
FRI 9/5/2008 PHILADELPHIA, PA World Café Live
SAT 9/6/2008 WASHINGTON, DC The Rock and Roll Hotel
SUN 9/7/2008 CHAPEL HILL, NC Local 506
TUE 9/9/2008 NASHVILLE, TN Mercy Lounge
WED 9/10/2008 MEMPHIS, TN Hi Tone
THU 9/11/2008 ST. LOUIS, MO Billiken Club @ St. Louis University
SAT 9/13/2008 DENVER, CO Monolith Festival
TUE 9/16/2008 SANTA FE, NM Santa fe Brewing Co.
THU 9/18/2008 TUCSON, AZ Plush
FRI 9/19/2008 SAN DIEGO, CA Casbah
SAT 9/20/2008 LOS ANGELES, CA Echoplex
SUN 9/21/2008 LAS VEGAS, NV Beauty Bar
TUE 9/23/2008 SAN FRANCISCO, CA Bottom of the Hill
WED 9/24/2008 PORTLAND, OR Doug Fir Lounge
FRI 9/26/2008 SEATTLE, WA High Dive
SAT 9/27/2008 VANCOUVER, BC Biltmore Cabaret
WED 10/1/2008 MINNEAPOLIS, MN 7th Street Entry
THU 10/2/2008 CHICAGO, IL Lakeshore Theater
FRI 10/3/2008 CLEVELAND, OH Grog Shop
SAT 10/4/2008 TORONTO, ON El Mocambo
SUN 10/5/2008 MONTREAL, QC La Sala Rossa (Pop Montreal)
TUE 10/7/2008 BOSTON, MA Paradise
WED 10/8/2008 PORTLAND, ME Space Gallery
THU 10/9/2008 NORTHAMPTON, MA Iron Horse Music Hall
FRI 10/10/2008 PROVIDENCE, RI Club Hell

The Veils MySpace Page

All dates are in support of Liam Finn.

(The Veils - "Advice For Young Mothers To Be")

Download: Deerhoof - "81"

0-03 Los Angeles - Avalon *
10-04 San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall *
10-06 Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom ^!
10-07 Seattle, WA - Neumo's ^!
10-09 Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge ^!
10-11 Denver, CO - Bluebird ^!
10-13 Omaha, NE - The Slowdown ^%
10-14 Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue ^%
10-15 Milwaukee, WI - Turner Hall ^%
10-16 Bloomington, IN - Buskirk Chumley Theater ^%
10-17 Chicago, IL - Metro ^#
10-18 Pontiac, MI - Crofoot Ballroom ^#
10-21 New York, NY- Spiegeltent
10-22 New York, NY - Irving Plaza ^#
10-23 Cambridge, MA - Middle East ^#
10-24 Northampton, MA - Pearl Street ^#
10-25 Philadelphia, PA - Starlight Ballroom ^#
10-26 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club ^#
10-28 Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle ^#
10-29 Asheville, NC - Grey Eagle ^#
10-30 Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge ^#
10-31 Athens, GA - 40 Watt Club ^#
11-01 Orlando, FL - The Social ^#
11-02 Tampa, FL - Crowbar ^#
11-05 New Orleans, LA - House of Blues ^#
11-06 Houston, TX - Numbers ^#
11-07 Dallas, TX - Granada ^@
11-08 Austin, TX - Fun Fun Fun Fest
11-10 El Paso, TX - Club 101 ^+
11-12 Tucson, AZ - Club Congress ^+
11-13 Tempe, AZ - The Clubhouse ^+

* with Okay, Happy Hollows
^ with Experimental Dental School
! with Coconut
% with Au
# with Flying
@ with Hawnay Troof
+ with KIT (07/28/08)

Deerhoof MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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New Doomtree Video - "Drumsticks"

From Doomtree, out tomorrow.

Doomtree MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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David Vandervelde - "I Will Be Fine"

Download: David Vandervelde - "I Will Be Fine"

Over at the forums on music blog aggregator (a site we may or may not mention), at least twice every 30 days, there's been a discussion of what are 2008's most overlooked records, inspired by Pitchfork's post-festival attempt to do the same. My contenders for this year include Dosh's Wolves and Wishes (mp3); Head of Femur's Great Plains (mp3; and, agreeing with the 'fork, Ponytail's Ice Cream Spiritual (mp3).

In addition to this year's records, I thought about last years. One of those albums was David Vandervelde's The Moonstation House Band (mp3; mp3). It's an album that clearly wears its glam-rock influences on its sleeve. The most obvious reference points are David Bowie's Ziggy-period work and T. Rex. While the sound may not be original, the amount of craft that went into the songs (particularly on "Nothin' No", where fuzzed-out, multi-tracked guitars and sitars made for an irresistibly easy going track) was more than apparent. Moonstation was a taut, ten-track set that earned solid reviews for the most part, but seemed to be forgotten come best-year time.

His second album, Waiting For The Sunrise, could be another candidate for overlooked record. "I Will Be Fine" , the first single from Waiting for the Sunrise, is a similarly-minded song that, while emulating soft-rock more than glam (which is a mistake, I think), contains enough glorious harmonization that would make Fleet Foxes fans wonder if they've gotten on the wrong ship. However, unlike Foxes' mammoth popularity, Vandervelde is nowhere to be found on

I don't think there's a conspiracy of any kind. Just that people have gotten caught up with hype surrounding other acts; happens all the time. But, if you find yourself just waking up with the sun, you can do no better than to have "I Will Be Fine" as your background music. Listen to the track at the top of the post.

Waiting For The Sunrise is out now.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Show Announcement: Black Blondie and Roma Di Luma at the Triple Rock

Black Blondie
Roma di Luna
Aby Wolf
Asylum Sound System

Friday, August 15
Triple Rock Social Club
629 Cedar Avenue on the West Bank in Minneapolis, MN

Having just come off opening for Muja Messiah's CD release party, genre-leapers Black Blondie will do some headlining of their own this time. On Friday, August 15th, the group will headline a show that is befittingly eclectic. On the bill will be folkster Aby Wolf; roots-minded Roma Di Luna, who, earlier this year, put out the self-released Casting The Bones; and, finally, Asylum Sound System. The show is 21+, and will set you back 8 bones.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Million Years Later: Pitchfork 2008 - Nights Two and Three

Due to a previously-arranged special occasion, I was unable to make most of night 3. However, what I did see that day was perhaps one of the best sequenced part of the entire festival. But before we get there, we have to get through Saturday. For the sake of consolidation, I've decided to put day two and day three together; for the sake of brevity, all bands will be reviewed in 100 words or less. It's summation time!


It terms of mainstage action, Saturday was characterized by having some of the most hyped bands on the website perform, including Fleet Foxes (mp3) and Vampire Weekend (MP3 via). I arrive promptly at 12:30, and make my way immediately to where Stage B was last year, near the east side of Ashland. Only its not there. Smartly, the festival has moved it to the other side of the field, where there's more space for spectators to stand. However, this means that I have to bust a move to catch the Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar. I'm glad I did. The 10-piece band fuses Latin-Caribbean music with a whole host of other genres, the most novel and interesting of which was a ska-polka version of "Hava Nagila". If there's any sub-genre of music that needs to take off, it's African music made with klezmers. The Orkestar played for a small, but very enthusiastic crowd.

Most of the performances that followed turn to be of good-but-not-great quality. However, day two starts out with the best of those sets, that being Titus Andronicus (MP3 via). The Jersey-based band was one of the most raucously catchy groups at the festival, and Andronicous' blasts of anthemic pub-rawk rang loudly throughout the good-natured crowd. However, their energetic live show doesn't change the fact that this band owes its entire career to side A of The Clash. Also, four guitarists? No.

I then returned to the B-stage to catch Eastern-folksters A Hawk and A Handsaw (mp3), featuring former Neutral Milk Hotel member Jeremy Barnes. However, after the group appears to be having some technical difficulties, and they won't come on for quite a bit. So, in the meantime, I make my way over to the Connector stage, where garage-rock man Jay Reatard begins by speeding through a whiplash-inducing array of Marshall-stack induced mania. But, 20 minutes or so in, it becomes clear that if I've heard one song, I've heard most of them. On Singles Going Steady. Still, the audiences' eyes were absolutely transfixed on Reatard, and that kind of stage presence is something you can't buy.

Back to the closing moments of Handsaw, which enforces the notion that stage B will be where the curious will go. And, speaking of things that get cats killed, the patient echo-laden drone-scapes emerging from the Aluminum stage. The band was Caribou (mp3), who, as a friend of mine put it, somehow emerged from an electronic duo to a totally kick-ass rock band. It certainly proved to be a perfect balance between the passing melancholy of the overcast day, and the bright emergence of the re-appearing sun. The group used jam-band style repetition and calm, ocean-blue guitar tones to appeal to the festival audience. That sense of calm continues with Fleet Foxes, a group that strives to be the next Crosby, Stills and Nash. They succeed in crafting sky-wide harmonies that seem to reach for the heavens. If there's ever a version of the Odyssey that does a gender switch on the Sirens, cast these guys in the part. However, on the songwriting front, the group is still stuck to the traditional structures of old gospel music. As a result, what could be brilliant music is merely passable and breezy.

Fuck Buttons (mp3 via) slowly-blossoming supernova of white-noise proves to be ideal listening for your bedroom, but live show can be taken or left. Same goes with Atlas Sound (mp3 via) and, later on, No Age (mp3). While both acts crafted what I regard as my favorite records of the year, the introspective nature of both albums prove to be ill-suited to an outdoor festival.

Ditto Vampire Weekend who, while on record are quite upbeat, slowed things down a bit at the festival. The tracks sounded more in line with classic reggae than with Afro-pop. The performance is adequate. Dizzee Rascal, however, brings the heat and passion by blasting through one grime classic after another. Ruby Suns (mp3) prove to be an Afro-Cuban Fleet Foxes, which help one release the potential of the latter if they branch out.

Treading back to Elf Power on the Balance stage, I see the band perform one of the most straightforward sets at the festival; it's also one of the least interesting. Much more invigorating are !!! who, despite the annoying tendencies of singer Nick Offer, turn in one of the more energetic live shows of the festival. Now that the Dismemberment Plan are dead and gone, someone has to be the second coming of the Talking Heads. While Craig Finn may have done the dance-punk thing before with Lifter Puller, but The Hold Steady don't have time for grooves. There's rockin' that needs to be done, and that's what The Hold Steady did, putting in new tracks from Stay Positive in with older songs, including an apt "Chicago Seemed So Tired Last Night". That's because you wore us out, broseph.

Speaking of worn out, that's how I was for the performances of Jarvis Cocker and Animal Collective. The droll humor of the former was a nice change-of-ace; and the psychedelic lullabies from another planet of the latter were enough to put me to sleep (in a good way); "Peacebone" was a highlight of both Animal Collective's set, and of the festival itself.


Since I couldn't make it for most of Sunday, we're just gonna do this one 50-words-or-less style.

The Dodos (Mp3): Leading off with some of the stranger tracks from Visiter, the band then settles into a groove where they can become a locomotive train of multi-part harmonies, open-ended alternate tunings, and prog-metal percussion. Singer sweats like Nixon; audience reciprocates the passion that the band puts into its life performance.

Occidental Dance Bros. International(mp3): West-African Sambas by way of the Windy City, the clean guitar-tones, leap-frogging bass lines, and melodious saxophones prove to be, with auxiliary percussion, a combination that's both soothing and exciting; cover of "Bizarre Love Triangle" was a crowd-pleaser.

M. Ward (MP3): The indie alt-country broheim performs songs from his breakthrough 2006 effort Chinese Translation. At the risk of sounding ageist, this was the most Dad-friendly set of the fest. Ward seems to work best with a collaborator (say, Zooey Deschanel). By himself? Well...

Ghostface Killah and Raekwon: Compared to Dizzee's bounce-off-the-wall grime and PE's revolution-as-spectacle, the Wu's brand of beautifully damaged stoner kung-fu hip-hop sounds a little plodding, if not lethargic. But the crowd responds enthusiastically to past favorites like "Ice Cream", and the duo is more than eager to give the crowd what it wants (except that guy who requested "Kilo").

Spirtualized (mp3): Jason Pierce almost auditioned for the great gig in the sky. Good thing he didn't get it. Otherwise, listeners wouldn't have had the priviledge of hearing the dream-pop-gone-gospel songs in A, or E for that matter. Stunning, gorgeous. "Baby, set my soul on fire". You have no idea. One of the best of P4K.

Bon Iver mp3): You know how I was talking about Atlas Sound, and how his contemplative bedroom-pop isn't necessarily suited to the outdoors? Same prob here. Poor guy also had Spiritualized bleeding into his show. That said, muscled-up tunes from Emma sounded good.

Dinosaur Jr.: Reunited, and it still feels pretty good. Songs old and new blend in comfortably, and the group even plays post-Barlow tracks like "Feel The Pain". However, vintage material rules the night, as "Little Fury Things" and "Freak Scene" have a certain hardcore-derived edge that latter works do not (good-natured as they may be).

Cut Copy: Funny story about them...

Spoon: Too tired. Went home. Dance to "Turn My Camera On" by the bus stop. Got strange looks. So it goes.

And that, my friends, is how it went down.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Tonight: CD Release Party - Muja Messiah

Expect an MFR review of Thee Adventures of a B-Boy D-Boy in the next couple of days.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tonight: Chris Johnson Benefit Party Feat. St. Paul Slim

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Friday, July 25, 2008

A Million Years Later: Pitchfork 2008 - Night One

(Mission of Burma - Live at Pitchfork)

Download: Mission of Burma "Ok/No Way" (via Matablog)
Download: Sebadoh - "Two Years, Two Days" (via Aquarium Drunkard)
Download: Public Enemy - "Rebel Without A Pause"

Hey gang. Even though the festival ended three or four days ago, and most of the other blogs have given their thoughts and feedback about Pitchfork 2008. But hey, my name means nothing if it isn't Johnny Relevance. So, here we go. My review of the third incarnation, starting with the very first night, which saw arty post-punk titans perform their confrontational classic Vs.; Sebadoh perform their blossoming-into-legit-songwriters lovelorn break-up album Bubble and Scrape; and finally, revolutionary hip-hop act performed their radical classic It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.

First, lets begin with Burma.

Mission of Burma

The strange thing about Burma to me is that, as I was arriving to Pitchfork and being greeted by the smooth sounds of Curtis Mayfield, I think they're maybe one of the few, if not only, bands in rock music to have their career resuscitated by a book. Out of the many excellent chapters in Michael Azzerad's Our Band Could Be Your Life, the one detailing the rough existence of Mission of Burma, the Boston-based art-noise post-punk group, was the one that piqued my curiosity (as well of that of my like-minded friends) the most. After all, it was the first time I had heard of the group.

Obviously, it wouldn't be the last. Since getting back together in the early 2002, Burma has picked up right where it left off, issuing out two stellar comeback albums: 2004's OnOFFon and 2006's The Oblierati. Incredibly, those are only their second and third full-length albums. Their debut LP, Vs., was the first record that was the center of attention for the first night of Pitchfork 2008.

Sadly, for a band that had played the festival two years early for a packed audience, there were a scant amount of people at the start of the performance. Thankfully, that would change over the course of the night, and the vast amount of people who would trickle in during Burma's performance were treated to a mammoth wall of noise and melody. And, from note one, listeners could immediately tell how colossally influential Burma, and Vs., were, and are, to the punk-rock landscape. With the chaotic caterwaul of instruments, each playing in alternate time signatures, it wasn't hard to ascertain that Burma were the proto-math-rock group.

Indeed, as Burma played more and more songs from their record, it was easier and easier to tell where, and how, subsequent groups cribbed their stylistic tendencies from Burma. (Speaking of tendencies, albeit ones closer to self-mutilation, singer Roger Miller's quotation of "Institutionalized"? Awesome).

Essentially, the style cribs go like this: alternate time-signatures with screaming on top = Shellac. (Although Steve Albini is such a force of personality that Shellac hardly deserve to be declared rip-offs). Group sing-yells over punk-rock anthems = Fugazi. (Although Ian McKaye and company absolutely deserve credit for adding golden-age-of-hip-hop style call-and-responses to the mix). Also, there's the songs. My god, the songs. While the night for Burma ("Welcome to the Burmadome!") would begin in free-form musical anarchy, as opposed to that controlled musical anarchy that we all know and love, the band drifted more toward conventional style of songwriting on the album. But not too conventional. Even though Vs. contains none of their "hits" ("Academy Fight Song", "That's When I Reach For My Revolver"), the album shows how tight and taut Burma can be with their lockstep variation of melodic hardcore.

The band's stumbling, punchdrunk variation of punk-rock is distinctive for two reasons: the heavy emphasis on three-downbeats in a row, which gives the band a unique feel similar to a boxer stumbling after being delivered a heavy blow, but still maintaining his ground. The second is (bassist name) approach to playing bass. He uses double-stops (a two-note chord; doesn't have to necessarily be powerful in nature) and a tone that's heavy on the treble. This, I feel, is the source of a lot of the angst in Burma songs. It's a sound that's both powerful and quaking with fear. While Vs. becomes more reflective and introspective on its second side, the band didn't lose any of its intensity as a live act, nor its stinging sense of humor. (After one particularly impressive display of lung power, drummer _ dryly stated "Very well-expressed, Mr. Miller"). Also, the group showed a true sense of humility, stating that the crowd knew the record better than they did after the band began the wrong song. While Vs. may be at times difficult and impenitrible, anyone experiencing the album for the first time couldn't have gotten a better introduction from a band that, two-decades after its inception, is just hitting its stride. Mission of Burma are proof that not only do American lives have second acts, but that those acts can be even better than the first. Suck it long and hard, F. Scott Fitzgerald.


Speaking of suck, here's an exchange between my girlfriend and me that aptly sums up both of our feelings regarding Sebadoh's hap-hazard and ramshackle performance of their transitional LP Bubble and Scrape:

Me: "Wait, did that song just end?"
GF (exasperated sigh): "Did it ever begin?"

While the material performed certainly had its merits, the way it was performed was rather annoying. I'm all for a band performing on stage after however-many-years to enjoy themselves, but being a spectator at the trio's recital of Bubble and Scrape was like being a third wheel. Lou Barlow looked like he was having fun, and god bless him for it, but would it have killed Sebadoh just to sped things up a bit? To his credit, Barlow and company looked like they were enjoying themselves. I just wished I could say the same of the audience at times.

For those of you who may not know, Sebadoh was former Dinosaur Jr. bassist Lou Barlow's side project, an outlet for his songs when J. Mascis became too dominant in the creative process. Once Barlow got the proverbial pink ship from Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh became his main gig. Because of the intentional, warts-and-all minimalism of the early Sebadoh recordings such as The Freed Man and Weed and Forestin', Sebadoh, like Pavement, are considered pioneers of a sub-genre of indie-rock called lo-fi. I imagine that anyone reading this blog knows what that term is, but I present these facts to get to a larger point. Quick, what is the defining characteristic of lo-fi? Intimacy. And what quality of character is least likely to be found in a sea of 40-80,000 people? You guessed it. Frank Stallone Intimacy.

So, instead of pondering how and where Bubble and Scrape served as a transitional album to their arguable pinnacle Bakesale, a record that found the band's songwriting at its most focused and direct, we got to see three dudes fucking around on a stage. Which can have its charms, on a very, very small scale. But on at platform that sees you in a antagonistically musical sandwich between Mission of Burma and Public Enemy, one couldn't but feel like the audience was a massive third wheel. Amongst Barlow's endless stage banter included an impromptu, hilariously off-key rendition of Tom Petty's "The Waiting" and changes in equipment that derailed any momentum the show would have had. Still, tracks like "Fantastic Disaster" showed what Sebadoh were capable of when they held our attention.

Public Enemy

Finally, the performance of the night, if not the entire festival. After a brief, somewhat bizarre, opening set from PE's legendary DJ Duo The Bomb Squad consisting of dub-reggae beats (the utter opposite of their uptempo work which help make It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back a legendary and important work), PE clumsily took the stage. As you've no doubt read already, Flavor Flav was late to the performance. And yet, he still could be heard coming from the speakers. And you know what that means. Flavor Flav is a spectre haunting the powers of old music, and his new sitcom, Under One Roof, is his manifesto.

Except not. One of the bizarre low-lights out of an otherwise stellar and incendiary performance, Flavor Flav plugged his sitcom to an audience of materialistically anti-materialistic hipsters. Needless to say, Flav responded with a tirade that made me think about what would happen if Tracy Morgan's character from 30 Rock had been conceived as an aging rapper. "You call your wife 'Boo', you don't boo me." Later on, Flav brought out his godson, who looked absolutely thriillllleed (He hates it when Uncle Chuck talks about how the revolution will not be televised!). This despite the fact that Flavor Flav displayed no sense of self-awareness at all while playing the anti-television scold on "She Watch Channel Zero!". Flav blind to his own sad irony, Baby". Flav blind.

And yet, Public Enemy's performance was so incredible, despite flaws like that, and the constant passive-aggression insistence that they didn't lyp-synch (medoths think Flav protest too much, especially on "Show 'Em What You Got"), that I wanted to take it out behind a middle school and get it pregnant. 20 years after their creation, in a political climate that sees one branch of government mindlessly help another branch to essentially become a Monarchy (but hey, enjoy those last six, Dub), Public Enemy's furious brand of leftist militant anthems for the intelligently angry were more relevant than ever. While "Bring The Noise" stumbled a bit, and the choreographed intro to "Don't Believe The Hype" was awkwardly choreographed, Chuck D and Company (DJ Lord, Flav, D, and a guitar-bass-drums back-up band), "Caught, Can We Get A Witness", "Cold Lampin' With Flava" (the fascinating back-story behind the track was another Saturday highlight), and "Rebel Without A Pause" were little blasts of revolutionary party anthems that enlightened you and made you get down with your bad self. The booming-bass, uptempo siren-laded songs were a cathartic release in the taut anxiety of the Bush-era. After the last Millions song was performed, PE launched into a multitude of past hits, including well-known hits like "911 is a Joke" and "Can't Truss It", that continued to send the gala of radicalism well past the intended curfew. After deftly slipping a surprisingly strong new song, the funk-and-soul fusion of "Harder Than You Think", the group closed out on "Fight The Power". I'll just say this: to hear the the "Elvis was a hero to most/but he never meant shit to me" verse live and uncensored was, after an entire evening of off-the-hook hip-hop, the best part of the evening was really saying something. It said, "Even if its messenger looked foolish at times, the message itself will always matter most". Just as long as its not delivered on a sitcom.

(Jonathan Graef)


This Saturday: Crustacean Records DVD Release Party

Download: Awesome Snakes - "Shut Up" (live)
Download: Drunk Drivers - "Model Citizen"
Download: Ouija Radio - "Today Is Our Last Tomorrow"
Download: Birthday Suits - "Automatic Oh Oh Yeah Yeah"
Stream: Droids Attack - "Napster"

This coming Saturday, the 26th, will be "Night of the Living Two-Person Punk Bands" at Stasiu's. In order celebrate the release of "Drown Out The Daylights" DVD, the St. Paul bar/venue will host a veritable feast of great local talent, as well as some excellent out-of-towners. But why take my word for it. Read on! (via Stasiu's MySpace Page:

Saturday July 26th is the Crustacean Records "Drown Out The Daylights" DVD release and premier party at Stasiu's Place. The DVD includes some really great bands from Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York of all places i.e. Ouija Radio, Awesome Snakes, Screamin' Cyn Cyn and the Pons, Things Fall Apart, Droids Attack, The Skintones, John Kruth, Droids Attack, Birthday Suits and Peelander-Z. Their will be a viewing of the movie at 8:15 in the parlor. If you can't make it to the premier and the show their will be another viewing on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. also at Stasius. Crustacean Records and the film production crew-Hinckley Design will be coming into town for the event. I have seen the DVD and it sounds and looks good and it is really fun! I recommend seeing it for yourself. Here's the line-up for Saturdays show.

STASIU'S PLACE - 2600 University Avenue NE
Doors 8:00

8:15 Movie "Drown Out the Daylights" viewing (in the parlor)
9:45 Droids Attack - super awesome stoner/rock band from Madison
10:40 Awesome Snakes (in the parlor)
11:15 Ouija Radio
12:20 Birthday Suits (in the parlor)
1:00 The Drunk Drivers-from Eau Clair/here

Watch the trailer for "Drown Out The Daylights" at the top of the post.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Vampire Hands Need Your Tour Help

Download: Vampire Hands - "Paradise Knife Fights" (via KEXP)

Via the band's MySpace bulletin:

Hey Y'all, yes indeed, we are heading back out on the road this fall. Unfortunately, we're having a few trouble spots and would greatly appreciate any and all help people are willing to give. Please take a look at these dates and see if there's anything in your town or region that would be down to host a show that evening. Just contact us if you have any ideas (either through myspace or, thanks again!

The dates that the psychedelic revivalists need help with are:

9/12- Omaha, NE
9/17- Bloomington, IN
9/22- East Coast Need Help
9/23- East Coast Need Help
9/24- East Coast Need Help
9/25- East Coast Need Help
9/28- East Coast Need Help
9/29- East Coast Need Help

And here are the dates that the band has confirmed, or will most likely confirm in the near future:

9/13 - Lawrence, Ks Replay Lounge
9/14 - Kansas City, MO TBA
9/16 - St. Louis, MO Apop Records
9/18 - Nashville, TN TBA
9/19 - Knoxville, TN The Pilot Light
9/20 - Chapel Hill, NC Philbog
9/21 - Greenville, NC Spazzatorium Galleria
9/26 - New York, NY Glasslands
9/27 - New London, CT TBA
9/30 - Baltimore, MD TBA
10/1 - Philly, PA TBA
10/2 - Youngstown, OH TBA
10/3 - Columbus, OH Carabar
10/4 - Chicago, Il TBA

Having just picked up the band's excellent Me & You & The Cherry Red, I can easily say the band's combination of John-Lennon-on-Helium vocals and menacing-but-ethereal soundscapes should be quite the combo live. So help some brothers out!

Buy Me & You & The Cherry Red here.

Vampire Hands MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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New Cold War Kids - "Something is Not Right With Me" (Plus: Ginormous Tour Announcement)

Download: Cold War Kids - "Something is Not Right With Me"t

In addition to announcing a mammoth tour in support of it, Tom Waits-loving indie-rock group Cold War Kids have announced the details of their second LP. Titled Loyalty to Loyalty (how po-mo!), the 13-track set is due to drop on September 23rd. Loyalty's first single, "Something Is Not Right With Me", was recently leaked via the band's website. I have an answer for you. It might be because your grating singing sound like someone was doing the grab-twist-pull self-defense mechanism on the ones-and-twos in your pantaloons while you were laying down your vocal track. But at least the brief breakdown is cool.

Here be the tour dates:

08-02 Byron Bay, Australia - Splendour in the Grass
08-03 Brisbane, Australia - Tivoli
08-04 Sydney, Australia - Enmore
08-06 Melbourne, Australia - Palace
08-09 Inverness, Scotland - Belladrum Festival
08-10 Leicester, England - Summer Sundae
08-11 London, England - Bloomsbury Ballroom
08-12 Brighton, England - Concorde 2
08-14 St. Malo, France - La Route du Rock
08-15 Hasselt, Belgium - Pukkelpop
08-22 San Francisco, CA - Outside Lands Festival
08-23 Los Angeles, CA - Sunset Junction Festival
08-24 Bend, OR - Les Schwab Amphitheater *
09-20 San Diego, CA - Street Scene
09-27 Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom
09-28 Vancouver, British Columbia - Richard's on Richards
09-29 Seattle, WA - The Showbox at the Market
10-01 Boise, ID - Neurolux
10-02 Salt Lake City, UT - In the Venue
10-03 Boulder, CO - Boulder Theater
10-10 Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line Music Café

10-11 Chicago, IL - Vic Theater
10-14 Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club
10-15 New York, NY - Webster Hall
10-16 Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg
10-17 Philadelphia, PA - Theater of Living Arts
10-18 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
10-20 Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle
10-21 Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge
10-23 Ft. Worth, TX - Lola's
10-24 Austin, TX - Emo's
10-25 Houston, TX - Warehouse Live
10-26 New Orleans, LA - Voodoo Music Experience
11-03 Birmingham, England - Irish Centre
11-04 Glasgow, Scotland - ABC
11-05 Dublin, Ireland - Academy
11-06 Manchester, England - Ritz
11-07 London, England - Astoria
11-09 Brussels, Belgium - AB
11-10 Amsterdam, Netherlands - Paradiso
11-12 Hamburg, Germany - Knust
11-13 Copenhagen, Denmark - Vega
11-15 Berlin, Germany - Lido
11-16 Prague, Czech Republic - Lucerna Music Bar
11-17 Vienna, Austria - Vienna Arena
11-18 Munich, Germany - Atomic Cafe
11-19 Zurich, Switzerland - Abart
11-21 Rome, Italy - Circolo degli Artisti
11-22 Turin, Italy - Spazio 211
11-23 Montpellier, France - Rockstore
11-24 Barcelona, Spain - Razzmatazz 2
11-25 Madrid, Spain - Moby Dick
11-27 Bordeaux, France - Le Vigean
11-28 Toulouse, France - Le Phare
11-29 Paris, France - Bataclan

Once again, Loyalty To Loyalty is out September 23rd.

Cold War Kids MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Parts and Labor - "Nowheres Nigh"

Download: Parts and Labor - "Nowheres Nigh"
Download: Parts and Labor - "Fractured Skies"
Download: Parts and Labor - "A Great Divide"
Download: Parts and Labor - "Voltage"

The first piece of music from Parts and Labor after the departure of t drummer Christopher Weingarten, "Nowheres Nigh" finds the group taking more of straightforward, sing-songy direction, in contrast with their anarchic-but-still-melodic old material. Though there are delightful hints of a Bob Mould influence in "Nowheres Nigh", the track is unforgivably flat and unremarkable in the context of their older work. (Especially last year's Mapmaker, one of my favorite records of 2007, and one I listed as being the most creative albums as well). For contrast and comparison, I've included two MP3s from past releases, via the Parts and Labor website. Though a key change late the song provides some life, the way it is executed is utterly cliche (seriously, P&L are taking songwriting tips from Jessica Simpson?). Here's hoping that Recievers, the trio's upcoming record, is better than this song indicates.

Parts and Labor MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Video: Nas Performs Anti-Fox News Song on "The Colbert Report"

(Nas - "Sly Fox" - Live on "The Colbert Report")

Rapper Nas, who just released his chart-topping Untitled, is interviewed by, then performs for, TV's best satirist. The impetus behind all this attention is undoubtedly driven by the fact that Nas recently took part in delivering a petition to the Fox News Network. The petition demands that Fox discontinue what they perceive as negative attacks on people of color, specifically Obama. But its "Fox and Friends", Colbert hilariously protests. Then, Nas explains his reasons behind supporting the boycott, and performs "Sly Fox", a protest anthem against the cable news network, off his latest record.

Watch the interview and the performance at the top of the post.

Nas MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Live Review: Elf Power

Download: Elf Power - "Spiral Stairs"
Download: Ham1 - "I Wave Back"

Currently, I'm living in State College, PA on a National Science Foundation/NASA grant. It's a sleepy little town full of great drink specials, the people who take advantage of them every fucking night, and absolutely nothing else.

Or at least that's what I thought until last week when I noticed a flier for an Elf Power concert at a local hookah bar called Chronic Town. Three things should give you pause about that last sentence: 1) This one-horse hell has a totally ballin' hookah bar. 2) It's in Pennsylvania, but named after R.E.M.'s first album. 3) Elf Power is playing there.

It's a little weird –I'm still not sure why they'd want to play in the exact geographic center of PA rather than Philly or Pittsburgh- but I can swallow the premise if it means I get to sample some of Georgia's finest.

The show opened up with Ham1. . Their most recent CD is up for free at and it's vastly better than their live show. I'm really into weedy white guys, but these dudes droned on in a dead parade, too uncharismatic for even me to handle.
Moving on, Elf Power was really frustrating. Briefly, the show was a B+ presentation of C material. As someone who was really not into their last two albums, it would be really easy for me to spend the rest of this piece picking holes in the songs themselves, but I won't.

I will, however, pick holes in their set list. The band puts on a marvelous show. They're not an eye candy band, but they've got a lot of enthusiasm and even the dullest songs off of In A Cave and Back to the Web sound at least moderately compelling with the rough finish of a live performance. Compliment of the year? No, but I haven't listened to In A Cave (which I initially enjoyed) since it came out and I have Back to the Web deselected in iTunes. Cave is just the type of album that I feel aggressively ambivalent about, and Web is irritating in a very nebulous way. I recognize that they're touring behind the new album, but the complete lack of any old classics was really quite disappointing.

The show wasn't a total bust, though. When the songs from In A Cave were sped up and the drums turned up, a lot of the pacing issues that plagued their most recent two albums were resolved. The bottom line is this: catching Elf Power is worth it for serious fans of the band who dug the new album. About half the crowd walked out during the set– and you can smoke indoors in PA, so they weren't just craving cancer.

Elf Power MySpace Page

(April Wright)

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Ice-T - "Six N The Morning"

Just posting this one for the hell of it. Also, because of the fact that the events portrayed in this song are wildly different than what I was doing at six this morning. What was I doing, you ask? I had just started my six-mile run, in order to train for the half-marathon I'm running in September. Which, as an activity, is about as gangsta as listening to re-runs of Prairie Home Companion. Although, to be fair, there was that one episode where Guy Noir pistol-whipped Dusty and Lefty for not getting him his coke money when Noir asked for it. That was pretty gangsta.

Also, sorry for the non-stimulating visuals, but this was the only copy of the song I could find.

Read about Rhyme Pays, the album on which "6 N The Morning" appears, here

Ice-T Website

(Jonathan Graef)

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tonight: The Hold Steady at First-Avenue

"I've played in all kinds of clubs all over the world now, I still don't think there's one that compares to First Ave." - Craig Finn

The Hold Steady are playing their pseudo home turf tonight with openers The Little Ones. I've never met a Hold Steady show I didn't like, so I'm pretty sure I'll walk away from this show loving the world like always.

The show starts at 8 p.m., it's 18+, and if you can't get in, stand outside the venue and glean all of the jams you can.

The Hold Steady on MySpace

(Ian Anderson)


New Muja Messiah - "At All Cost (My Economics)"

Download: Muja Messiah - "At All Cost"

Like his previously leaked single, "Growing Pains", Muja Messiah's new track from his upcoming Thee Adventures of a B-Boy D-Boy, titled "At All Cost (My Economics)", features the Minneapolis rapper reflecting upon the urban chaos that had been his life with the utmost sincerity, but also with humor and perspective. Over a sampled string section, slight piano twinkling, and a beat made for hand-claps, Messiah describes his upbringing in North Minneapolis, where people "drop like flies/and although small/big city rules apply". It's this background that Muja is determined to transcend.

While a chorus like "Ima never be broke again" might come off as materialistic and shallow in the wrong hands, Muja sets up the context properly, delivering the lyric in as low-voiced and matter-of-fact as possible. As a result, the lyrics come across as someone motivated to make his life better because it makes the lives of his loved ones better, not because he wants to buy a hot European car (although Mu, like the rest of us, probably wouldn't turn one down if the opportunity arose). "At All Cost (My Economics)", like "Growing Pains", does a great service in humanizing someone who, because of his Kanye-like knack for self-promotion, may come across to some as a boor.

Listen to "At All Cost (My Economics)" at the top of the post.

Thee Adventures of a B-Boy D-Boy is out on July 27th.

Muja Messiah MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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New Rhymefest - "Bring It Back" and "Real Nigga Quotes"

Download: Rhymefest - "Real Nigga Quotes"
Download: Rhymefest - "Bring it Back" (both via Fake Shore Drive

Two new tracks from Chicago-based rapper's Rhymefest's long-in-the-making El Che have come to light, in rather sordid fashion. Fake Shore has all the details, but here's a summary: dude stole Rhymefest iPod, and, because of his supposed lack of prolific output(where was he for this?), he's going to release a track every week until he gets some answers, or at least a single/video. Yikes. Read the manifesto-of-sorts here.

Despite the not-so-cool way these tracks were obtained, the tracks themselves are absolutely stellar. "Bring It Back" coasts on by on a breezy beat produced by DJ Jazzy Jeff. The song itself is a reflective look at a time when hip-hop was supposedly more substantial. The vibe of the track itself is not unlike Jazzy Jeff's "Summertime", or a vintage Tribe Called Quest jam. Oddly enough, the waxing nostalgic is not unlike fellow Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco's "Hip-Hop Saved My Life". The second track, however, is furious. "Real Nigga Quotes" is, simply put, a track that confirms that Public Enemy's legacy is still alive and well. Using famous quotes from throughout history (everyone from Malcolm X to Dave Chappelle), 'Fest spits some serious truth about today's political landscape, even casting Barack Obama in a harsh light. (Does this mean 'Fest still supports him?"). If these tracks are any indication of what El Che is like, then this record is the Nevermind to Blue Collar's Bleach. That's saying something.

Listen to the two songs at the top of the post. Thanks again to Fake Shore Drive.

Rhymefest MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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New The Pack A.D. - "Making Gestures"

Download: The Pack A.D. - "Making Gestures"

Quick: Name a blues-influence duo who've revived a brand of garage-rock that splits the difference between The Stooges' primal urgency and Led Zepplin's libido-heavy romp-stomp...Did you say the White Stripes? Oh, boy, this is going to get awkward. No, this is not them. This is The Pack A.D. who, while being very similar, are still...very similar. However, to be fair, that's only on the chorus. The beginning of their new song, "Making Gestures", which is the first single from the British twosome's upcoming record The Funeral Mixtape, begins quietly with a sole distorted guitar. Intriguingly, there's just enough soul to suggest a collaboration between Jack White and Tracy Chapman. It's a shame that The Pack A.D. didn't further pursue the soul connection. From there, the song explodes in a manner fitting of the Stripes or Zeppelin. I'm sure this would sound pretty decent live, and singer Becky Black can certainly howl with the bet of them but in a studio setting, this is definitely treading all-too-familiar ground.

The Funeral Mixtape is out on August 12th, 2008.

The Pack A.D. MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Monday, July 21, 2008

New Doomtree - "The Wren" and "Drumsticks"

Late July is a great time for Minneapolis rap music. Not only is Muja Messiah's new record set to be released with a show on July 27th, but hip-hop collective Doomtree is also set to release its years-in-the-making self-titled debut album. Naturally, expectations are high, and the only way to satiate people's appetites for destruction music is to give them a little taste of it. And Doomtree has done exactly that by posting two brand new tracks from the upcoming record on their MySpace Page. The songs are called "The Wren" and "Drumsticks".

You might recognize the main hook for "Drumsticks", as its the very same one that collective used in their video to promote the album. A far-Eastern flute-sample not unlike something you'd hear in a vintage Wu-Tang Clan (except here the production is clearer), each rapping member gets their turn for the spotlight over the track. "The Wren", on the other hand, features band member Dessa the most prominently for track of lost love and regret.

Listen to the two tracks at the band's MySpace Page.

Doomtree is out on July 29th.

Doomtree MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Indie-Rock Supergroup Performs Improv Set at Pitchfork Due To Cut Copy Tardiness

Download: Atlas Sound - "Another Bedroom"
Download: Jay Reatard - "Always Wanting More" (via Spinner)
Download: King Khan - "Welfare Bread"

One of the most inexplicable, unusual, and totally fucking awesome bits of indie-rock history occurred at the closing of the Pitchfork Music Festival 2008, right after headliner Spoon began their set of blue-eyed indie-soul at the Aluminium, one of two main platforms, stage at 9:00. Cut Copy, the second-to-last band of the festival, were set to take the Balance stage at 8:25. Only the band hadn't shown up yet, and wouldn't go on until well after Spoon did. So, what are Deerhunter/Atlas Sound headman Bradford Cox, his band mate in Atlas Sound, King Khan, and Jay Reatard to do? Play an entirely improvised set of covers, of course.

The indie-rock supergroup played a peculiar, hilarious list of garage and punk covers, including a classic Bad Brains tune, video of which you can watch at the top of the post. As per usual, Jay Reatard was quite manic, enthusiastically knocking into mic stands and jumping around stage with an impossible amount of energy. Cox and Khan, however, took a dryer router, with the former lecturing the crowd in tongue-in-cheek fashion about safety, and the latter frequently stating that the newly formed "band" was just trying to give the audience members what they deserved, entertainment-wise. Khan, however, also took the madman route at times, spitting water into the audience, Sid Vicious-style, and joyously knocking into equipment as well The set was met with good-natured laughs, and cameras snapping, though also with heckles (Cox got a water bottle thrown at him, if I'm not mistaken) and chants for Cut Copy. All in all, the group was on stage for about 20 minutes or so, before Cut Copy finally showed up. Still, because of its absurdity and randomness, this was easily one of the festival's highlights.

More P4K coverage (including Flavor Flav responding to hecklers in the crowd) this week.

(Jonathan Graef)

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This Friday: Eclipse Records All-Ages Show With Baby Guts

(Jonathan Graef)


Ponytail Do Pitchfork Guest List, Make Overlooked Records 2008 List

Download: Ponytail - "Celebrate the Body Electric (It Came From An Angel

Ponytail's debut album for the We Are Free label, based out of Baltimore, is one of the year's most rambunctiously joyous records. Ice Cream Spiritual sounds as if one day, inspired by Deerhoof, noise-rock, and progressive heavy metal, Yoko Ono decided that after a lifetime of accomplishment, she had the dreadful realization that she simply forgot to bring the muthafuckin' rock (Album opener "Beg Waves" is a great illustration of that). So, in my alternate universe that doubles as an actual universe, she decides to waste no time at all in crafting epic anthems that leap from one musical idea to another, all while ensconced in a blanket of melody, distortion, and polyrhythm. Oh, but the band doesn't want to be that secure, and so they're constantly thrashing about an awesomely energetic manner, and that energy level is maintained at an insanely high level, even when Ponytail are engaging in a brief calm (such as the peaceful moments of soundscaping in first single "Celebrate The Body Electric", or the "Edge of Seventeen"-quoting "Small Wevs") before a righteous storm (pretty much the rest of the album).

In order to create a record such as this, one must have pretty eclectic, though very loud, influences. And Ponytail do. Check out the Guest List the group just did with Pitchfork, in which the vernerable indie website asks their favorite new artists question about their favorite songs, games, and movies. You know, the real in-depth stuff.

Band member Jeremy Hymen's favorite song ever? "Creeping Death" by Metallica. Awesome

Speaking of the 'Fork, they recently just included Ponytail on their Most Overlooked Records of 2008 list. Read it here, then watch the video for "Die Allman Bruder", from sophomore effort Ice Cream Spiritual, at the top of the post.

7.21 New York, NY @ Knitting Factory^
7.22 Brooklyn, NY @ The Yard^
7.23 Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church^
7.24 Baltimore, MD @ Floristree^
7.25 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop^
7.26 Pittsburgh, PA @ Howler's Coyote Café w/ Bound Stems
8.19 Arlington, VA @ IOTA Club and Cafe*
8.20 Baltimore, MD @ Sonar*
8.21 Virginia Beach, VA @ Steppin' Out*
8.22 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brendas*
8.23 New York, NY @ Knitting Factory*
8.24 Boston, MA @ Harper's Ferry*
8.25 Montreal, QC @ Club Lambi*
8.26 Toronto, ON @ Lee's Palace
8.27 Hamilton, ON @ Casbah
8.28 London, ON @ Call the Office
8.29 Pontiac, MI @ Pike Room
8.30 Chicago, IL @ Subterranean

European dates:

9.5 Nottingham, UK @ Chameleon
9.6 Brighton, UK@ The Albert
9.8 Manchester, UK@ Satans Hollow
9.9 Liverpool, UK @ Korova
9.10 Dublin, IE @ Whelans
9.11 Galway, IE @ Rosin Dubh
9.12 Midlands, UK@ TBC
9.13 Paris, FRANCE @ Fleche D'or
9.14 Lyon, FRANCE @ Grnnnd Zero
9.16 Fribourg, SWITZERLAND @ Frison
9.17 Brussels, BELGIUM @ VK
9.18 Amsterdam, HOLLAND @ Bitterzoet
9.19 Tilburg, THE NETHERLANDS @ ZXZW 2008
9.20 London, UK @ Astoria 2
9.22 London, UK @ The End

Ponytail MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Video: Saul Williams - "Convict Colony"

Download: Saul Williams - "Convict Colony" (Via Sound Opinions)

Watch the otherworldly video for the Nine Inch Nails-esque (hmm, wonder why that is) track from the pay-what-you-want The Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust by eclectically electric singer-songwriter-rapper Saul Williams.

You can listen to a live version of that same song at the top of the post from the session he did on NPR's popular music talk-show Sound Opinions. On the Williams episode, Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis, the hosts of the programs, ask Williams about underground cred in the face of commercial song placement; the provocative etymology and evolution of a racial epithet; how that epithet relates to the concept of his newest album; and how he classifies, and came up with, his genre-leaping sound.

Listen to the segment, which includes other live performances, here. Niggy Tardust is out now.

Saul Williams MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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Comedian Andy Kindler Spends Time With The Hold Steady

"You look like me. Why aren't I a rock start?"

"I don't know, maybe you're doing something wrong?"

Click above for more hilarious highlights of comedian Andy Kindler's time interviewing Craig Finn of The Hold Steady, as well as some intermintent fans of the band.

The Hold Steady MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)


Saturday: West Bank Music Festival

Note: Crescent Moon is in Big Trouble are a band on Afternoon Records, a label which one of our contributors has a financial interest

Nomad World Pub Website

(Jonathan Graef)

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