October 15, 2009

Ezra Furman brings his harpoons to Denver


I tripped right into the gangly, urgent, danceable music of Ezra Furman & The Harpoons quite by accident last summer, and from the Jonathan Richmanesque spoken word lead-in of “I wrote this song in a paper bag…” my ears were happily perked. With a sound that channels some of the best awkward charm since the Violent Femmes, Furman has found an outlet for the restlessness of youth.

Their music unfurls into cacophony and melody, retro and squawk, The Kinks meet punk, with a dash of The Replacements’ sloppy joy. There are handclaps and awkward yells and lyrics about enjoying the music without worrying ’bout the words. That sounds like a plan tonight when they hit Denver’s Hi-Dive for the explosive opening of their big autumn tour.

We Should Fight – Ezra Furman & The Harpoons

That song makes me want to do some sort of modified twist dance move. It’s all in the hips. Ezra Furman & The Harpoons were signed by Minty Fresh Records while they were yet in college at Tufts, and are still evolving as a band through hundreds of live shows. I like where they are heading. Brian Deck (Modest Mouse) produced their album, and they played to an enthusiastic hometown crowd at Lollapalooza this summer.

After two albums on Minty Fresh, their latest is a self-released effort wherein (get ready) Ezra will record a personalized song for each person that buys it . The purchasing instructions advise you to “fill out the information of who ever will be receiving this special album, be it you or for someone else. Things such as receiver’s name, where he or she lives, anything, really . . . seriously. Ezra and the band will revolve their special message around the information you give.” Did we use the word charming already?

Let’s check ‘em out tonight.

I Wanna Be Ignored – Ezra Furman & The Harpoons
(take that, Stone Roses!)

Oct 15 – Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
Oct 16 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
Oct 18 – Seattle, WA @ High Dive Seattle
Oct 19 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
Oct 21 – San Francisco, CA (US) @ Rickshaw Stop
Oct 22 – Los Angeles, CA @ Spaceland
Oct 23 – La Jolla, CA @ The Loft
Oct 24 – Tucson, AZ @ Solar Culture
Oct 25 – Scottsdale, AZ @ Chyro Arts
Oct 27 – Norman, OK @ Opolis Coffee
Oct 28 – Houston, TX @ Walter’s on Washington
Oct 29 – Austin, TX @ The Mohawk
Oct 31 – Hot Springs, AR @ Maxine’s
Nov 1 – Little Rock, AR @ Juanita’s
Nov 3 – Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone Cafe
Nov 5 – Nashville, TN @ 3rd & Lindsley
Nov 6 – Atlanta, GA @ The Drunken Unicorn
Nov 7 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
Nov 8 – Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern
Nov 11 – Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon
Nov 12 – Stevens Point, WI @ The Encore – Univ of Wisconsin
Nov 13 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
Nov 14 – Iowa City, IA @ The Mill
Nov 17 – Columbia, MO @ MOJO’s
Nov 18 – Lawrence, KS @ The Bottleneck
Nov 19 – St. Louis, MO @ The Firebird
Nov 20 – Indianapolis, IN @ Vollrath
Nov 27 – Chicago, IL @ Double Door

[photo by Elizabeth Myers for RedEye]

August 18, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

Recently I found myself outside the Sputnik in Denver staring down a double-edged challenge: one of my friends and his sister (close sibs) rode a vintage Schwinn tandem bike to the Langhorne Slim/Young Coyotes show [nice review here]. I’ve never rode a tandem anything before, and thought I’d give it a whirl.

Let. Me. Tell. You. That business is not as easy as it may look. Who invented that? Why did they think it would be a good idea to make two people balance in unison, and why did I think that it would be a good idea to try my maiden voyage at 2am? But I must say — should the opportunity ever present itself to you, I can recommend trying it simply for the fact that I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe and I haven’t done that in a while. And then I pretty much fell off.

Speaking of new experiences, here are a few that aren’t quite as fun but probably sound better (less grunting):

Traipsing Through The Aisles
Samantha Crain
I’ve recently become enamored with Samantha Crain, the newest signee to the Ramseur Records label (also home of the Avett Brothers who I plan to see tomorrow night for my birthday!). This Shawnee, Oklahoma native is a startling 21 years of age, and I was immediately curious to hear her music when I read that she conjures up “Judy Garland singing Neutral Milk Hotel songs.” And yes, amen exactly when you hear it. Her recent release The Confiscation: A Musical Novella is structured as a rich series of interconnected short stories. It’s backporch firefly music, or campfires and pine smoke, or pick your metaphor evoking a good and spreading warmth. Listen now.

Love Vigilantes (New Order cover)
While Ramesh Srivastava of Voxtrot has been holed up in Germany for the last year, decompressing and working on the follow-up to their 2007 debut full-length (after their string of fantastic EPs), he’s stayed in Das Loop of technology and is now podcasting. There are all kinds of great free audio and video gems in their shiny corner of iTunes — a 30-minute summer mix, Vincent Moon videos from La Blogotheque, and this poppy New Order cover. All handclappy and cheery, this is almost reminiscent of “Love Me Do” with that opening harmonica. Even the spontaneous crowd chatter over the opening fits perfectly, as if you just walked into the room where the party is happening and everyone is there. You’ve got a fresh mint mojito or something summery in your hand, and this is your soundtrack.

We Should Fight
Ezra Furman & The Harpoons

From the Jonathan Richmanesque spoken opening of “I wrote this song in a paper bag,” this song unleashes into punk and melody, retro and squak, Violent Femmes meet The Kinks with a dash of The Replacements’ sloppy joy. Ezra Furman & The Harpoons were signed by Minty Fresh Records while they were still in college at Tufts University, and are still evolving as a band. I like where they are heading. The best lines in this song are “I’m not a monster, I’m a human being / I’m not a monster, I’m a human being / And I’m the greatest thing you’ve ever seen.” All that college-guy confidence and tenderness and insecurity in one lyric that sounds great yelled loud. The Brian Deck-produced Inside The Human Body is due October 7th on Minty Fresh [thanks SVB!]. Also – side note, these kids have a charmingly humble song called “I Wanna Be Ignored.” Take that, Stone Roses.

I Said Alright (live on KEXP)
The Jet Age
I’ve been meaning to give these guys a mention for months, ever since a friend with exceptionally good ears sent me a handful of laudatory texts late one night while seeing The Jet Age in San Francisco. He spoke of their charisma, their irrepressibly catchy and rocking sound (but maybe not in precisely those words, since it was 1am). Their debut album What Did You Do During The War, Daddy? (Sonic Boomerang Records) garnered an 8.0 on Pitchfork, who called it a “heart-pounding rocker … all of the riffs are stellar.” This is lean, punky, melodic pop. The Jet Age is from Silver Spring, MD and they’ve got a handful of DC-area shows coming up. I hear you should go.

My Party
Chester French
This song mysteriously popped into my inbox with vague provenance. We’re supposing that it is some new music from those golden Harvard boys, Chester French, following close in the same retro vein as the songs that have leaked so far from their hotly anticipated debut. Rhyming champagne with chow mein is something that’s just been begging to be paired for a long time now, and no one has done it until this song — but the lyrics about having a gift certificate to the mall totally reminds me of this, somewhat unfortunately. This Pharrell-endorsed buzz band has been all over the news lately – one of NME’s 25 Bands Making America Cool Again, a Rolling Stone Artist To Watch, and now a spouse to Peaches Geldof. They play Monolith on Sunday, September 14th.

BONUS! The new David Byrne/Brian Eno collaboration album can be streamed here: www.everythingthathappens.com

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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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