November 28, 2008

The slowburn of Calexico

On Monday afternoon, I called the bowling alley at Moe’s BBQ, next door to the Gothic Theatre, to reserve a lane before the concert. “Big show tonight?” the man (sadly not named Moe) asked me. “Yeah, Calexico is playing next door,” I replied.

Bowling Man was unfamiliar with their music and asked me to describe it. “Well … there’s a southwestern element in there, but it’s not country. There are mariachi horns and steel guitar — I guess it’s indie-minded with kinda a wild desert streak.” That’s the best I could muster; Calexico is a difficult band to describe to someone who has never heard them because they straddle so many genres and defy easy characterization. This makes their live show stunning, an ever-shifting blend of enormous sounds and complex layers of melody. I’d never seen them live before, and I was riveted.

Here are some pictures from their gorgeous multi-hued set Monday night — with mp3s from one of my favorite concert collaborations below:

Live on NPR, November 2005
Yours and Mine – Calexico
Panic Open String – Calexico
Alone Again Or (Love cover) – Calexico
Deep Down – Calexico
Bisbee Blue – Calexico
Crystal Frontier – Calexico
All Systems Go – Calexico
He Lays In The Reins – Iron & Wine/Calexico
Red Dust – Iron & Wine/Calexico
All Tomorrow’s Parties (Velvet Underground cover) – Iron & Wine/Calexico
16, Maybe Less – Iron & Wine/Calexico
Prison on Route 41 – Iron & Wine/Calexico
History of Lovers – Iron & Wine/Calexico
Always On My Mind (Willie Nelson cover) – Iron & Wine/Calexico
Burn That Broken Bed – Iron & Wine/Calexico

Wild Horses (Rolling Stones cover) – Iron & Wine/Calexico
Dead Man’s Will – Iron & Wine/Calexico


Calexico’s new album Carried To Dust is out now on Touch and Go Records.

[poster img credit, huge thanks to Kevin for the mp3 help]

October 21, 2008

New contest :: Calexico’s moustache hat poster

Insound is partnering with Fuel/Friends to offer a sweet limited-edition Calexico poster designed by the fearsome Jason Munn of Small Stakes in San Francisco. If you are a fan of the burnished southwestern wilderness in Calexico’s music, moustaches, or excellent poster design, this is the contest for you. Enter to win here, and the lucky reader will be announced next Tuesday.

There’s a whole series of posters and hoodies Munn’s designed for artists like The Hold Steady, The National, Okkervil River and Grizzly Bear. It’s part of the Insound 20 project to benefit 826NYC, and I like the clean and direct graphic punch of the entire collection.

Some of my favorite Calexico sounds:
Always On My Mind – Calexico with Iron & Wine (live on NPR)
Banderilla – Calexico (from the Sprout soundtrack)
Two Silver Trees – Calexico (from the newest release, Carried To Dust)

Good luck!

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August 11, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

On Friday night I had the special experience of watching Prince thrust maniacally on the (very) large screen out under heavy-laden rainy skies at Red Rocks. As part of their wonderfully conceived summer Film On The Rocks series, myself and hundreds of other vocally enthusiastic moviegoers got to bask in the glow of the tiny one’s sweaty brow, glistening chest hair, ruffled poet shirts, blindfolds, fancy studded purple jackets and wispy moustache in none other than (yes) Purple Rain. From the opening echoey benediction of “dearly beloved,” to the completely nonsensical plot and downright giggle-inducing sex scenes, to the triumphant final performance of the title song . . . wow, that was awesome. I needed a cigarette or something after all that. And I don’t even smoke.

Tunes for this week:

Paul Westerberg
Oh, delicious mystery. As previously mentioned on Fuel/Friends, our beloved favorite sloppy punk drunk Paul Westerberg recently released a new continuous single-mp3 album on Amazon called 49:00 for 49 cents. Problem is, when you downloaded it you found a somewhat baffling total length of 43:55. This led ‘Mats nerds everywhere to freak out quietly, wondering where the other 5:05 ran off to. A few days ago, the rest of that audio surfaced for purchase on TuneCore without much explanation. After an extended 45-second intro that sounds for all the world like Cartman, that trademark Westerberg strum and yowl begins and I’m happy (even as the song closes with the yelling of profanities — as it should be). If you haven’t already downloaded 49:00, well . . . I can’t help you with that either since it looks like the download link has been pulled, after solidly positive reviews on sites like Aquarium Drunkard and Pitchfork. Go figure.

Tu Es Ma Came
Carla Bruni
Why won’t anyone take Carla Bruni seriously? Oh, that. It’s hard having been a model in a former incarnation, dating rock stars and ultimately running off with the president of France. Yes, sultry songstress Carla Bruni is now married to Nicolas Sarkozy, and I’m gonna go out on a limb here and wager that her music is the most lovely, sexy, smoky music ever made by someone who was the first lady of anything. Following her surprisingly good 2002 album Quelqu’un M’a Dit, much of which she wrote herself, Bruni is back with a new album Comme Si de Rien N’Etait (out now on Downtown Recordings/US). This tune is a bluesy, intimate bedroom song that sounds like Bruni strumming her guitar on the corner of the comforter as she unwinds that bewitching alto.

Two Silver Trees
While I was watching Prince gyrate on Friday, the classy people were in Boulder at the night festivities of the AAA Records and Radio Summit that I left earlier, watching eclectic Tucson foursome Calexico at the Fox Theatre. After being beamed into space as a wake-up song (in what sounds like an oddly fitting move), and recording those great contributions for the 2007 I’m Not There soundtrack, Calexico is finally releasing an anticipated new album Carried To Dust on 9/9 (Touch and Go Records). There are touches of Latin American influences all over this new album, after the band was finally able to do some long-desired exploring of Chile and Argentina in the past year. “Our last record was more political,” says vocalist/guitarist Joey Burns, “but this record reads more like a travel journal.” Sam Beam from Iron & Wine is also featured, following their gorgeous recent collabs.

No Deliverance
So you totally remember that song “Possum Kingdom” from Fort Worth, Texas alt-rock band of 1994 Toadies, don’t you? Listen. You do. That aggressive riff still gets under my skin a little bit in a good way, and makes me feel instantly fifteen. Toadies are preparing to release their first album in 7 years, and this song is dirty and growly, reminding me of someone like Nick Cave or Jon Spencer. They’re out on tour, hitting Denver’s Gothic Theatre on September 24th, and No Deliverance is out August 19th on Kirtland Records. And I’m still not gonna lie, I won’t be a gentleman, behind the boathouse.

Song For The Magpie
Sea Wolf
Thanks to some dodgy anonymous tipster (it’s the Feds!) this new song from Los Angeles indie artist Sea Wolf popped into my inbox recently, as featured in Augusten Burroughs‘ new audio book A Wolf At The Table. The work is a collaborative effort between Alex Church of Sea Wolf, Patti Smith, Ingrid Michaelson (who I just saw Friday), and Tegan Quin (of Tegan and Sara). The musicians each read the book and came up with an original song for use in the audio version; a very cool intersection of reading and music (like this ole podcast). Sea Wolf’s contribution is a nuanced orchestral dirge that spreads like warm alcohol through my chest, with hints of Rufus Wainwright in the elegant and elastic waver of the verses.

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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