October 30, 2009

Brandi Carlile covers Gary Jules covering Tears for Fears

In the same way that when she covers Hallelujah, she is clearly covering Jeff Buckley’s version of Leonard Cohen’s song, when Washington singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile took on “Mad World” at Portland’s Schnitzer Hall last Thursday night, she was wailing her way through Gary Jules’ unsettlingly sad version (from Donnie Darko) of the Tears for Fears song.

This gives me chills; sometimes I wander away from listening as much to her as I used to a few years ago when her stunning first album came out, but then I am reminded all over again of that voice and how much brutal raw emotion she can squeeze into three minutes. She has a marvelous new album Give Up The Ghost that she is touring in support of, and still manages to always pick out some of my favorite songs in the world to cover. We’re, like, music soulmates.

Mad World (Gary Jules/Tears for Fears) – Brandi Carlile
(live in Portland, 10-22-09)

April 10, 2009

Gregory Alan Isakov & Brandi Carlile: “That Moon Song”


Gregory Alan Isakov is a South African-born, Philly-raised musician whose music is all tones of sepia and creeping warmth. He’s recommended for folks who appreciate warmly intelligent, rich songwriting like Jeffrey Foucault or Josh Ritter. Now living in Colorado, we are proud to call him an adopted native son.  I love  the sly sincerity in his voice, like he knows a secret that’s making him smile.

Today I absolutely cannot stop listening to this new song from his forthcoming album This Empty Northern Hemisphere (due May 19). Not only does it blend all the scratchy, old time feelings that I love from him, but he is joined by friend Brandi Carlile on backing vocals! Together, they are perfect.  I never do get tired of her strong, clear voice.

That Moon Song (w/ Brandi Carlile) – Gregory Alan Isakov

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that full-bellied moon, just a-shining on me
and she pulls on this heart like she pulls on the sea


Last time I saw Gregory, he was wowing the sold-out Calexico crowd; I look forward to his record release party on May 15th. He is currently on tour with Ms. Carlile (*starred dates) and in them Netherlands.

Apr 10 Alltel Center – Mankato, MN*
Apr 11 Hoyt Sherman Theatre – Des Moines, IA*
Apr 14 Wheeler Opera House - Aspen, CO*
Apr 16 Meadowlark: Netherlands’ Tour Sendoff - Denver, CO
Apr 17 Platte Canyon High School - Bailey, CO
Apr 18 Everyday Joe’s  - Fort Collins, CO

Apr 24 De Bosuil - Weert, Limburg
Apr 25 Muziekpodium Bakkeveen - Bakkeveen, Friesland
Apr 26 House Concert - Bakkeveen, Friesland
Apr 27 Crossroads Radio - Bergen op Zoom
Apr 28 Q-Bus - Leiden, Zuid-Holland
Apr 29 Korsakoff - Amsterdam
May 2 Shouting Boots Radio Show (Afternoon) - Hilversum
May 2 In The Woods – Lage Vuursche
May 3 Huis Verloren - Hoorn, Noord-Holland

May 15 Fox Theatre: CD Release w/ Bela Karoli & The Widow’s Bane – Boulder, Colorado
May 19 The Belcourt Theatre – Nashville*
May 20 Eddie’s Attic – Decatur, Georgia*
May 22 WorkPlay Theatre – Birmingham, Alabama*
May 23 Blue Gills – Spanish Fort, Alabama*
May 24 House Of Blues -  New Orleans, Louisiana*
May 27 House Of Blues – Houston, Texas*
May 28 Gruene Hall – San Antonio, Texas*
May 29 Granada Theater – Dallas, Texas*
May 30 Texas Union Th. @ Univ. Of Texas – Austin, Texas*

* with Brandi Carlile

RELATED POST:I belong to the salt and the sea and the stars, save them all for me.”
[song news via my friend Bodie’s blog, The Mountain Tempo. Photo by Todd Roeth, again. I should hire him as my intern]

December 7, 2007

3500 miles away and what would you change if you could?

I’ve been intending to post this song, but all of a sudden it has now taken on more gravitas to me and I’ve been listening to it quite a bit. I am back out in California again after a very last-minute late-night flight out, my uncle is seriously and unexpectedly sick in the critical care unit at the hospital. It’s raining in Santa Clara. Tubes and wires and beeping and I feel completely overwhelmed with what I can do except hold his hand and stroke his unconscious forehead. Even though I am 28 I feel like an ill-equipped kid even being in the ICU, like someone’s going to say “Excuse me sweetheart, no one under 14 allowed.” Sometimes I talk to him, about anything, about everything. Preschool Christmas concerts, recent trips, insignificant anecdotes. If I felt brave I guess I could sing, he’s always liked to hear his nieces sing.

Brandi Carlile covered “Raining in Baltimore” by the Counting Crows at a recent show Birmingham, much to my delight. This somber, underrated, poetic tune from the Counting Crows’ first album is one of my favorites. While her treatment of it is pretty faithful, the emotion in her voice belies a genuine love for the song and the mournful cello addition strikes a chord with me:

Raining In Baltimore (Counting Crows cover) – Brandi Carlile

This circus is falling down on its knees
The big top is crumbling down
It’s raining in Baltimore fifty miles east
Where you should be, no one’s around

I need a phone call
I need a raincoat
I need a big love
I need a phone call

These train conversations are passing me by
And I don’t have nothing to say
You get what you pay for
But I just had no intention of living this way

I need a phone call
I need a plane ride
I need a sunburn
I need a raincoat

And I get no answers
And I don’t get no change
It’s raining in Baltimore, baby
But everything else is the same

There’s things I remember and things I forget
I miss you
I guess that I should
Three thousand five hundred miles away
But what would you change if you could

I need a phone call
Maybe I should buy a new car
I can always hear the freight train
Baby if I listen real hard
And I wish, I wish it was a small world
Because I’m lonely for the big towns
I’d like to hear a little guitar
I guess it’s time to put the top down

I need a phone call
I need a raincoat


April 9, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

One of the big important early steps in starting a band is that all-important decision of what to call yourselves. Has to be something that will entice people to take a listen, but with just the right edge to it. If there is some hip in-joke connotation that could work too.

So here’s your first stop: the massive Wikipedia page devoted to Fictional Band Names in popular culture. From Hey That’s My Bike to Sonic Death Monkey to yes, even Fingerbang, they’re all here, waiting to be loved, discussed and revived. I found it immensely amusing.

Here’s what I am listening to this week:

Brandi Carlile
The new sophomore full-length album from Brandi Carlile is out now on Columbia, and I like the direction she is heading. Her work with T Bone Burnett (Counting Crows, Roy Orbison, Gillian Welch) is so flawlessly treated that I can almost forgive him for his cut-of-meat moniker. The Story was recorded live, directly to 2″ tape in eleven days, and possesses a very immediate, raw, timeless, soulful quality – four words that pretty much sum up Brandi for me. This song is completely charming from the opening notes, and finds a nice experiment with piano, which I always love. ALSO: Obligatory Pearl Jam connection, if you can believe it — drummer for this album is Matt Chamberlain, early drummer for Pearl Jam, appears in the video for Alive. I was thrilled to hear that. Although Ten this ain’t, she does bring the rock on tunes like the wailing-howl of a title track.

The Neptunes (Pharrell feat. Jay-Z)
You think you love your Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z for gettin’ your party on, but also laughed at Jamie Cullum’s frank and swingin’ treatment of this tune from Pharrell and Co. — then you need the original. I’d been meaning to seek this one out and finally did, off 2003′s The Neptunes Present . . . Clones. I’m reminded of how great the synthy, sexy, throwback sound of this hit single from Summer ’03 is, and I’m a step ahead because I already know all the lyrics thanks to Jamie. Well, except for maybe the bridge: “…like you were just another shorty I put the naughty on.” I’m workin’ on it.

Someday Soon
Gin Blossoms
My recent mention of the Empire Records movie (another one I know all too well, as in whole segments of dialogue, front-to-back) reminded me of the lead-off track from the fab soundtrack with the Gin Blossoms. Did you even catch that those guys released a new album last year after ten years? Called Major Lodge Victory, it sounds exactly like, well, circa-1995 Gin Blossoms. But they picked one sound and do it well, and I am finding myself loving this song for driving and harmonizing along. It’s got great “whoooooooos,” soaring guitar bits, and even a litle foray into the Cher-tastic world of Vocoder effects.

Fly Paper
This is my second mention of Trinidad-Canadian artist k-os (“chaos”), but I just got the full album Atlantis: Hymns for Disco (which is finally available stateside) and the eclectic blend of old-school beats, fresh hip hop, authentic island vibes is making it one hell of a party album that you really can’t sit still for. It’s thoroughly enjoyable all the way through. The only weakness is some fairly simplistic aphorisms-masquerading-as-lyrics (“I’m caught between a rock and a hard place” / “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it“), but I’m definitively not in it for the lyrics. As the song begins, the voice of an old-time radio announcer inquires, “Feeling stuck? Self-loathing? Shoegazing? – Try new supersonic Fly Paper . . .it’s catchy!” And indeed, this could be the perfect cure for the common indie kid feeling too mopey to shake it.

Free Love Freeway
David Brent/Ricky Gervais with Noel Gallagher
I was reminded of this little smarmy gem from a recent gorge on British Office courtesy of the library DVD I snagged. I was watching Season One (and I know this is anathema, but not feelin’ it as much as the American version, probably because the British version just lacks Jim Halpert. And Dwight. And Michael.) and this is a classic from the most painful staff meeting you never had to attend. Dig the priceless lyrics like “Free love on the freelove freeway, the love is free and the freeway’s long. I got some hot love on the hot love highway . . .” Now, exactly how Noel Gallagher got involved in the studio version of this is an enigma to me, but this pokes some mighty good fun at bad music.

November 11, 2006

Brandi Carlile covers Hallelujah

Fresh from the studio recording her sophomore album with T Bone Burnett, Brandi Carlile passed through Denver last week on her current tour with Shawn Colvin. I’ve seen Brandi twice before, and as you may recall was thoroughly impressed by this twenty-something with a huge and expressive voice. The show did not disappoint, and this time I was able to take some video to share.

(cover of Jeff Buckley’s take on the Leonard Cohen classic)
Got chills taping it, got chills again watching it. Man alive can she wail with that emotion. [direct link to video if embed doesn’t work]

“Tragedy” with cello accompaniment
(a gorgeous song featured on Grey’s Anatomy)

Other videos that I took that night can be found on YouTube (What Can I Say& Throw It All Away by Carlile, and Fill Me Up & Polaroids from Colvin), and the Sweet Oblivion blog has an older studio EP from Brandi available. Look for her new album in Spring 2007.

Oh, and can I share the most unnecessary sign ever posted in a concert venue? Remember this was Brandi Carlile and SHAWN COLVIN:

September 26, 2006

Brandi Carlile update from the studio

News from Fuel favorite Brandi Carlile:

Sep 8, 2006 9:12 AM
Subject: In the Studio

As I sit in a dark control room and listen to the music we’ve been recording, I look at T Bone Burnett sitting at an old Neve console holding an 80 year old guitar and wearing sunglasses and it strikes me that if the twins and I weren’t wearing Chuck Taylors we could be anywhere in the world and at any point in time over the last 100 years…

We’ve been in the studio for over a week and things are going amazing — the twins and I have been on the road for so long that we have become a live band so it’s been intimidating and exciting to be put under a microscope… it’s a scary thing to know how you really sound. It’s such a thrill to get these songs off my chest after a couple of years of playing them on the road…we recorded “The Story” and my voice cracked before the big loud scream and we kept it because it sounded raw and real. Sometimes it’s hard for me to accept imperfection but I’m learning everyday. T Bone has taken us to church.


The Story” – Brandi Carlile
Live on KCRW in 2005. The cracking wails are my favorite part of this song, very Janis-Joplinesque, in an urgent and passionate way.

Buy her first album here (highly recommended)

Tagged with .
July 27, 2006

It’s All About the Music

So if you were busy last weekend when the WXPN All About The Music Festival was streaming all that great live music (or like me, trying to simultaneously mind the BBQ and listen – not easy) Sweet Oblivion has ripped some audio, including Brandi Carlile’s set and Jim James from My Morning Jacket.

Brandi also cranked out one additional tune which was not broadcast on the streaming audio show, but thanks to little music elves I have a copy for you. It is a quality version of her wrenching cover of Radiohead’s Creep, in all of its angsty glory. I think it is a really lovely cover:

Creep” – Brandi Carlile

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June 25, 2006

Brandi Carlile & The Fray: Denver 6/24/06

My first experience with the CityLights Pavilion last night was a favorable one. True story: I notice the stunning close-up view of the Denver skyline (about a mile from the venue) when I turn around and look out from the stage area. I turn to my friend Andrea and say, “Wow! Look at the view of the city lights- . . . aaaand that must be why they call it CityLights Pavilion.” Not the sharpest pencil in the box sometimes.

It was apparently a sold-out show, based largely on the frat-boy and 12-year-old ticket-buying bloc. There were some pretty people there. The Fray is just alright for me. I would like to support them because this was a homecoming concert of sorts for them – several members are from Denver – but they don’t DO IT for me. I guess they are pretty melodic and rocking, though, and the Coldplay comparison is definitely unavoidable.

My enjoyment of the show was only slightly marred (actually, perhaps enhanced) by the blonde thirty-something lady in front of us who was apparently auditioning for the Whitesnake! Live! Raw! Loud! concert video (or maybe the music video for a new remix of “Total Eclipse of the Heart”). She pulled out all the stripper dance moves as the concert unfolded. She gyrated. There were pelvic thrusts and slow winds down to the ground and back up (where’s a damn pole when you need it). There was the “hand-to-the-forehead” move (like, “I can’t believe you just stuck a dollar in my g-string!”), the various wrist flippery (it’s all in the wrist). It was a show unto itself. Kind of out of place at what was, essentially, a rock show but at least she seemed to be enjoying herself. And all of us around her enjoyed it too. Some people were even taking pictures.

Stripper dance lesson aside, the highlight of the show for me, by far, was Brandi Carlile, who was the opening act. I came to the show to see her and I was not disappointed. Seeing her in a larger venue rocked. This gal is going places – all she has to do is pick up her guitar and open her mouth and the crowd just stops and listens to the passion and strength in her voice. Brandi played with her full band again this time, including a cellist (which I loved). She rocked through several of the best songs on her album (“What Can I Say,” “Throw It All Away”), some original songs which are not on the album (“My Story”), and a few superb covers (“Creep” and “Folsom Prison Blues,” as well as her show-stopper finale of “Hallelujah”).

I wanted to see more of her. She is playing in Boulder tonight, a headlining show at the Fox, but I can’t make it. I hope perhaps you can if you live in the area. I know I talk about her a lot, but she is worth every word that I write in publicity. Buy her album, and check out some of my previous posts about her (here, here, here and here) to download or stream some live performances.

Creep (Radiohead cover) – Brandi Carlile
(from last night’s show, poor sound quality, but just for the curious)

Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover) – Brandi Carlile
(from last night’s show as well)

Throw It All Away – Brandi Carlile
(an excellent live version of this song, from 12/7/05 in Chicago)

Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen via Jeff Buckley cover) – Brandi Carlile
(also from 12/7/05 Chicago)

May 31, 2006

Brandi Carlile covers Ray LaMontagne

In every way that the Kelly Clarkson cover of Ray LaMontagne turned me off, this does the exact opposite. Brandi Carlile has such a wrenching and soulful voice, and when you combine that with some of my favorite lyrics, the result is incredible. It literally gives me shivers and this is the sixth time through that I have listened to it.

“Yes and try to ignore
All this blood on the floor
Just this heart on my sleeve
that’s bleeding . . .

So kiss him again
Just to prove to me that you can
I will stand here and burn in my skin
I will stand here and burn in my skin”

Burn (Ray LaMontagne cover)” – Brandi Carlile

For the rest of her excellent set a few weeks ago on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, head on over to Sweet Oblivion. Can’t get enough of this gal.

March 20, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

So, back from a long snow weekend with the gals, I am wishing you all a Happy First Day of Spring! Unfortunately, Colorado did not get the memo, and this is what I awoke to this morning:

As gorgeous as the falling snow is, I think I am ready for the ice to be gone. Over the weekend I was sitting in the hot tub with my friends (looking at the beautiful and dramatic mountains in the moonlight) and as I tried to run back into the lodge barefoot (it was freezing once you get out of the water! and I was wet!) I did an elaborately choreographed (and almost comical) fall down a few steps after I slipped on the copious ice. So I am all scraped and bruised on the skin that was bare. No more ice! Bring on the Spring, says me! Egad, if I keep pulling these slip & fall deals, what will happen to your musical consumption? For the love of all things holy, I think I need to be more careful. Ghastly bruises.

And, sorry, we are temporarily goin’ ole school today with uploads to Savefile (right click, open in new window for most links) since EZArchive bastards seem to be taking the morning off. 3pm: It’s fixed now, they are direct links.

Crack The Whip
The Spinto Band
Pitchfork’s description of this song, by current Arctic Monkeys tour opener The Spinto Band, caught my attention: “Four-on-the-floor ‘Crack the Whip’ lashes the make-up alternapop zeitgeist, whippin’ the Killers at their own neu-dance-wave game before ascending to a gates-of-heaven Beach Boys chorus like this was the Biblical, non-DFA Rapture.” That is one of the best-written music review sentences I have read in a while, and I am digging the song in a big way. These guys just rocked SXSW from what I hear. Check out their 2005 release Nice and Nicely Done.

Skinny Boy
Amy Millan
The female-vocals half of fabulously harmonic & smooth Canadian pop band Stars, Amy Millan is releasing a solo album May 30 called Honey From The Tombs. Any album title with the word honey in it is apt for Ms. Millan, since that is usually the word that comes to mind when I hear her lush voice. This song treads familiar Stars ground, with a bit more acoustic touch. I like the way she wraps her voice around the lyric “You’ve got lips I could spend the day with.”

Zero 7 Featuring José González
The layered electronica sound of Garden-State-darlings Zero 7 (“In The Waiting Line”) meet the breathy vocals and gently plucking guitar of Argentinian folkster José González in this pleasing track off the vinyl 7″ and 12″ limited-run single. The song is from the upcoming Zero 7 release The Garden. Thanks to Connor for tracking this one down, I really like it. Downtime bliss.

The Shining (Capitol K Mix)
Badly Drawn Boy
Funny, I just accidentally typed “Badly Drawn Boi” instead of Boy. No, that would be Avril, who we don’t support here (sorry grrrls). I wonder if I hate the word “boi” or “grrrl” more. Tough call. ANYWAY, so this is a sonic assault best listened to on headphones as the remix takes you through dark layers of this song, a thousand miles from the relaxing orchestration of the original. Fascinating. It sounds like the soundtrack to a jerky David Lynch-type film vignette meets Sigur Ros-type atmosphere. From the 2000 remix EP Once Around The Block, Pt. 1.

Always On My Mind
Iron & Wine with Calexico
So, I just “found” this on my iPod, although I’ve had it for a few months (from their excellent appearance on NPR’s All Songs Considered). I somehow hadn’t listened to it yet. So I was quite excited to hear this lapping-ocean-tide reinterpretation of the classic made popular by Elvis and Willie Nelson. A touch of slide guitar, Sam Beam’s soft and relaxing vocals, and it’s an earnestly-sung treat. I think I originally got this off the excellent So Much Silence blog, which, paradoxically, is always giving me good gems to fill the silence.

And you, lucky reader, you get THREE bonuses this morning. First off a kind reader ripped me this mp3 of Brandi Carlile singing Hallelujah from that KCRW stream. So now you can have it on mp3. I got a great response to my posts about her, seems like many of you have been as blown away as I was by this talented gal.

Also, Chad has a simply lovely cover of Norah Jones singing Patsy Cline (with a hot bass line addition), and Aquarium Drunkard has a hilarious post with a little love advice for the non-slick (and a stomach-turning tounge-kiss photo of everyone’s favorite ex-VP).

Have fun, champs.

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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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