April 4, 2008

Before They Were Blogged: M. Ward demo tape

Before M. Ward embarked on his own glowing solo career making mind-bogglingly terrific albums, and before he met Zooey Deschanel and started recording some (She & Him) music and playing festivals with her, Matt was part of a band called Rodriguez in the mid ’90s with a strong college circuit following.

During one such university show around 1997, a kind future Fuel/Friends reader happened to pick up a modest cassette tape of solo material that Ward was experimenting with. Two years later, a similar (or maybe the same) collection of songs would end up in the hands of Howe Gelb (Giant Sand), who became fond of this Portland troubadour’s warm, stark folk sounds and released his first album Duet For Guitars #2 on his own Ow Om label.

Third in a mini-series of “Before They Were Blogged,” it has taken me over a year to realize exactly how buried and forgotten these tunes are. Since my reader actually converted them from that original cassette tape he still has, I’m fairly sure this is an unheard sonic collection — one that M. Ward’s fans will enjoy listening to as much as I have. Unfortunately I don’t have much more information to go on other than what my reader tells me, but all the things I love about M. Ward are certainly here in all their humble, honey-drenched, warm, raspy vibrancy.

If The Devil Came And Promised Me Joy
Don’t Crack
Made of Glass
Tom Violence
(Sonic Youth cover)
Must Be Waiting
No, You Can Never Make It New Again
Bye Bye Love
(re-working of the Everly Brothers hit)
I’m Going Higher


February 6, 2007

Feist: new album news (Reminder) / old album sounds (Monarch)

Ms. Leslie Feist (sometimes Broken-Social-Scenestress, songbird solo artist of late, full-time awesome) announced details today of her follow-up release to the spirited Let it Die (2004) and (my #3 of 2006) Open Season: Remixes and Collabs. Due out May 1 in the US and April 23 most other places, the new album is called The Reminder and sports one of the coolest/elegant/imaginative/understated covers in recent months. Feist likes lines.

A few new tour dates also announced:
Brighton, UK April 16 at Komedia
London April 17 at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Printemps de Bourges Festival April 19 in France
Berlin April 23 at Hebbel Am Ufer
Paris April 26 at Le Grand Rex

Canadian & East Coast US tour dates forthcoming, as well as summer festivals worldwide.

This gives me a timely reminder to post the next album in my “Before They Were Blogged” featurette. Unless you lived in or around Toronto in 1999, or have been a fan of Feist since when this was commercially available, her first album Monarch (Lay Your Jewelled Head Down) is a tough one to locate for your distinct listening pleasure. A limited number of these were made, but these songs are a joy to hear. Of course. (thx Mike!)

It’s Cool To Love Your Family
The Onliest
La Sirena
One Year A.D.
That’s What I Say, It’s Not What I Mean
Flight #303
Still True
The Mast
New Torch


December 26, 2006

Before They Were Blogged: Band of Horses demo tape

Seattle’s Band of Horses turned up at the top of many “Best-Of” lists this year with their full-length debut Everything All The Time (Sub Pop), a jangly, shimmering album that is mandatorily compared to The Shins, My Morning Jacket, and Neil Young in every album review ever written (oh, and sometimes Flaming Lips).

Yep, you can hear all those influences, but I think they are doing so well because –beyond the comparisons– they have an eminently fresh & enjoyable sound that is uniquely their own.

Before they hit the blog buzz this year, they released several versions of demo tapes (under the simplified moniker “Horses”) that are worth taking a listen to. This is the stuff that caught the ears of Sub Pop:

DEMO 1: “Horses”
Snow Song [aka The Snow Fall]
Bass Song (early version of Our Swords)
Ghost Song [aka For Wicked Gil]
Part 2 Song
(Biding Time Is A) Boat To Row

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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