January 21, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

I was talking on the phone Saturday morning when my Dad came into the house, left a small box on the desk, kissed me on top the head, and left. Look! It’s my new iPod in-ear headphones, a really-belated birthday gift.

It gives me three options for in-ear adapters, small, medium, and large. This is something that has never occurred to me, to wonder what size ear holes I have. It’s a whole new level of self-awareness that I had not previously been familiar with. What if I had really tiny ear holes? (I don’t, I’m medium). Or what if large weren’t big enough for my gaping ear caverns and I needed to special-order an extra large pair, or adapt them with cotton balls or something? These are the things that flit through my mind while I explored the tidy streamlined white case. Anyways. I am so happy with the soft and snug fit, and the sound (better than the one-ear buzz in the standard-issue pair I’ve been living with for months now). I am a happy, medium-eared camper.

Tunes for the week:

Xavier Rudd

This in one talented Aussie. I saw Xavier Rudd Saturday night at the Gothic Theatre and he’s a burning one-man-band (although he has added a drummer for this tour). Xavier has an earthy, rootsy, world music vibe to him, with a rock and wail comparable to Ben Harper. His stage set-up is hard to describe, involving lots of percussive instruments, three digeridoos, and a lap slide guitar all clustered within his reach. When he played Jimmy Kimmel a few weeks ago, he had fewer instruments, but definitely watch the video to see how he operates. Impressive. When the intro to this song ended and the mustachioed dude with the aviator sunglasses hit it with the driving beat, the entire crowd seemed to start jumping in unison. I got whapped in the face with some gal’s gnarly dreadlock, it was that kind of crowd. Xavier is currently working on the score for the Summer 2008 film Surfer Dude, and his 4th album White Moth is out now on Anti-.

Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

I have this tendency to think of Nick Cave as this very baroque, moody musician with sweetly sweeping songs like Ship Song (okay, fine, it comes to mind because PJ covered it). But then I recall last year’s snarl and blues of side-project Grinderman (“No Pussy Blues”), and the danceable apocalypse of this video makes sense. This song knocked me off my feet; it’s the first tune off his new album of the same name (mixed by Nick Launay – Arcade Fire, new Supergrass, Grinderman). You must also watch this video as well, if only to see the moustache and the completely unselfconscious dancing. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! will be out on April 8th in the U.S. on Anti-

Breathless (Nick Cave cover)
Cat Power

Speaking of the versatility of Nick Cave, I was pleased to find this cover amongst the bonus tracks for the new Cat Power covers album Jukebox, which is out now on Matador. Cat’s version has less meandering on the fife, and more smoldering longing. As is her trademark, she takes a rather peppy little original number and dresses it up like midnight, all reverb and honeyed whispers. It becomes a different song, almost. I love what she does.

Lay Back Down
Eric Lindell

A little bit of lazy, late summertime soul feels nice right around now. Eric Lindell was born in San Mateo, CA and wound up in New Orleans, where he studied the music, garnered respect, and laid down this second studio album at the famed Piety Street Studios. Low On Cash, Rich In Love (out last week on Alligator Records) has the sweet ache of Van Morrison with that blue-eyed soul groove and the lithe vocals, and channels elements of R&B and Memphis brass bands.

Plus, he also looks a little like K-Fed on his album cover, which clearly is all the more reason to buy this one.

Sing Again
Chris Walla

The guitarist/producer for Death Cab For Cutie Chris Walla releases his first solo album Field Manual through Barsuk Records next week. I think everyone was kind of expecting that it wouldn’t stray too far from the DCFC aesthetic but I find it to be a unique and varied album that stands up well on its own. This song is crisp and catchy, the beat gets my toes tapping. There’s also some unexpected squaks of dissonance just to keep things fresh, and a what-just-happened drop off ending. Elegant and interesting.

And yep: It’s on.

August 14, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

This weekend I found myself at a hot rod show which evolved that night into a rockabilly concert at a rough & tumble bar, with a pinup girl contest as the finale. It felt like this bizarre glitch in the matrix, whereby I suddenly stumbled back 50 years and was hangin’ out with the bad crowd from, like, Rydell High. It was awesomely entertaining – fishnets, pompadours, and pincurls. Oh, and lots of tattoos (guys & gals). To hear a pretty authentic live band crank out songs like “Get Rhythm” (Johnny Cash), “Peggy Sue” (Buddy Holly), and “That’s All Right” (Elvis) made me yearn even more than usual that I had been born in the ’40s.

Yeah, it was like that.
Okay, onto the music for this week — which I just noticed has a largely nostalgic feel to it as well.

Thunder On The Mountain
Bob Dylan
You know how you’ve been itchin to hear the first track from Bob Dylan‘s new album Modern Times? Well in addition to hearing him mumble his way through lyrics like “I want some real good woman to do just what I say” up against a rollicking folksy backing melody here, you can sign up via the old email to attend a listening party in many U.S. cities to hear the rest of the collection (which sounds like a pretty cool fête to me). See the always-informative Stereogum for details.

I Don’t Exist
It’s about gol-dang time that someone wrote a song about IKEA. I just got my 2007 catalog in the mail and it made me ridiculously happy, letting me slip for a few minutes into the well-organized and spacious Swedish lifestyle of my dreams where I hang funky textiles on the walls and everything has a basket to put it in. British punk granddaddies the Buzzcocks are celebrating their 30th anniversary with a new album called Flat-Pack Philosophy (on Cooking Vinyl). Although it does not explicitly mention the Scandinavian slice of domestic bliss, you and I both know that that’s what they are talkin’ about on the title track. Trading some of their more angry & aggressive crunchy sound of days past for an overall more melodic & even poppy feel (oh, but their edge is still there) this disc is an enjoyably fast-paced romp (14 tracks in 36 minutes?). This particular track reminds me, actually, of early R.E.M. if you can believe that.

Let Me Know
Eric Lindell
Northern California-born/New Orleans-adopted Eric Lindell makes some rough & lovely blue-eyed soul that reminds me of all kinds of goodness from Van Morrison (listen: “See Me Through”) to BB King and, very notably on this track, The Black Crowes. His newest release, Change In The Weather (Alligator Records), is diverse and solid. There’s a nice old-school vibe to this song combined with a fresh & almost lighthearted guitar riff. Looks like he is stopping through the scenic hamlet of Manitou Springs in a few weeks (our hippie neighbors to the west) and since I have also heard absolute raves about his live show, I do believe I will stop by and take a listen.

California Rain
Madeleine Peyroux
This song absolutely makes me break into a big smile everytime I hear it and I think it will do the same for you from the opening notes. Mental image for me is waltzing around in my socks on a hardwood floor in an old crumbling San Francisco apartment with the rain falling hard against the windows. Madeleine Peyroux is amazing to me — the fact that she is a modern lady who sounds exactly like Ella Fitzgerald and is clearly steeped in a love for all those great sounds of the past. This is from Half The Perfect World (out 9/12 on Rounder Records), her sophomore effort following 2004′s Careless Love. It is a nostalgic foray into the past, but with some serious nods to the present with songs written by folks like Tom Waits & Leonard Cohen and a guest appearance by k.d. lang on the cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River.” Perfect for a lazy weekend.

Broken Signals
The Mugs
Brooklyn-based quartet The Mugs have quite a fine little self-produced debut album with Paper Scissors Rock (on SkinnyFat Records), which draws comparisons to the intelligent moodiness of The Smiths or the humble jangle of The Shins. A steady buzz is growing behind these guys, who were just named one of 7 must-see bands of NYC and get some serious love from the respectable KEXP in Seattle (and even a little blog love). Their first EP Daisy Cutter (2004) is available in full on their website, so you have no excuse not to get into the groove yourself (although the EP carries the caveat: “This recording hasn’t been ruthlessly compressed, nor has it been mastered, so it sounds best loud”). They’ve got a ton of shows coming up, and apparently they are best at converting fans in-person, so check them out.

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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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