July 1, 2007

Feel something with Jesse Harris

I first decided to take a listen to Jesse Harris when my little brother recommended him to me recently. After several years of my brother being heavily into Japanese pop and questionable Final Fantasy music (the game, not the band), I’m finding lately that our tastes are becoming more in-line. Plus I love him, so I try and move his suggestions to the top of the long “to listen” list. On this one, Brian — definitely a good call.

Jesse Harris is from New York City, and is probably most famous these days for being the guy who wrote much of the ubiquitous, breathy Norah Jones album Come Away With Me, and won a whole boatload of Grammy Awards (the year I was there, actually). Feel is his newest album in a string of seven, coming out July 10th on Velour Recordings.

And what an album it is – luminous, fresh, and full of interesting percussion (which is the first thing I noticed). I hear tones of everything from clean Beatles pop, to Graceland-era Paul Simon, tones of the gentle banjo-plucking of Sufjan, to even hints of my beloved David Gray. I think this is a great songwriter album, catchy and nuanced, and it’s getting repeated spins in my car this summer. I highly recommend this one, and I love how the album art looks the way the music feels.

Feel – Jesse Harris

After All – Jesse Harris

In equally excellent news, Jesse Harris is also the man behind the entire soundtrack for Ethan Hawke’s new film The Hottest State. Jesse wrote all the songs in a continuous suite, which are then sung both by him and also artists such as The Black Keys, Bright Eyes, Willie Nelson, Cat Power, M. Ward, Emmylou Harris, and Feist. That anticipated soundtrack will be out August 7th on Hickory Records.

Somewhere Down The Road – Feist

Crooked Lines – M. Ward

Jesse Harris: tour dates & more tunes here

June 25, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Oh, I was so lucky to get to spend Friday night seeing Feist. She is a completely charming and talented performer (not just a musician, as my friend Leora noted –”Are you gonna quote me on your blog?”– after the show). Feist really knows how to engage and enchant the crowd, but she also wields that guitar fearlessly, gets her vocal loops going, dances around in bliss to the crashing drums, and manages to be fashionable all at the same time (brown mini dress, hot pink tights).

The new songs from The Reminder sounded great live (especially “My Moon, My Man” — hot dang that’s fantastically thumping in concert) under the twinkling drapery of Christmas lights. The same imaginative, surreal qualitities that Feist brings memorably into her music videos (flying toast in Mushaboom, everyone deciding to dance in unison on 1234) seeps into her live shows too, through the morphing of her busy hands during the songs into butterflies dancing, waves rolling, or little legs walking down the front of the mike stand.

Despite having sung the song “like 4,000 times,” Feist forgot the middle verse to Mushaboom. She asked the crowd if someone who knew it would come up and fill in. An absolutely elated girl hopped up on stage, grabbed the mike as the music played, and effortlessly jumped in at exactly the right moment: “I got a man to stick it out…” It was one of those great moments of geeky fandom that just makes you happy to witness.

A very few other pictures (and the story of the snarly security guard that almost threw me out of the show) are included in this album. Remaining Feist tour dates here. I would totally love to be Feist for a week, that’s my new rockstar dream.

Here’s your new tuneage for this week’s enjoyment:

Dress Blues
Jason Isbell
A kind reader recommended this track from former Drive-By-Trucker Jason Isbell‘s forthcoming solo album Sirens Of The Ditch (July 10, New West Records), saying that it was “hard to get this song out of my head.” I absolutely agree, I’ve listened to it on repeat: a honeyed slowburner that feels like prophecy.

Can’t Get It Out Of My Head (ELO cover)
Velvet Revolver
Taking the cake for the band that the STP/G’n'F’n'R hybrid was least likely to cover, Velvet Revolver takes on an ELO cover on their newest one, Libertad, dropping July 3rd. And you know what? It’s actually pretty good and I find myself liking it a lot. Although I sometimes question Weiland’s jaunty/naughty sailor look in concert, Slash takes away the guitar solo here in sizzling fashion. Speaking of Slash, I’ve been pondering the plotline of the November Rain video lately. Have you seen this? I don’t know why I think about such things.

This Town
Frank Sinatra, on the Ocean’s 13 Soundtrack
Obviously a movie about swinging crime in Vegas perpetrated by fashionably-dressed men must, by law, include a Frank Sinatra tune. This one is also excellent for adding to your very own mixtape for midnight desert runs to Sin City. The soundtrack to Ocean’s 13 (which I haven’t seen yet but probably will because George & Brad told me to) is another atmospheric-cool collection by David Holmes, who also scored Fuel-favorite Out of Sight (among others). Niiice.

When Did Your Heart Go Missing?
I’ve been curious about hearing this song since Rolling Stone likened it to a lost Wham! track, and yes, I hear the similarities here; it does kind of make me want to wake you up before I go go. But then I read how it is also in the new Nancy Drew movie, and in a totally geeky move I will confess to reading many Nancy Drew books in my youth. I will not see the new Nancy Drew flick (because it would probably be a similar audience to the time I saw Crossroads on opening night and I don’t want to talk about it) but I can picture this song also as a theme to daring teenage intrigue, old mine shafts, and moss-covered mansions. From Rooney‘s new album Calling The World (out July 17). Tour dates here.

Love (unreleased promo track)
The Cure
This song was, for some reason, dropped off the double disc extravaganza of Lennon covers to save Darfur, Instant Karma (a project of Amnesty International, out now). I could have recommended a few other tracks that could have gotten the boot instead of The Cure, whom I love, even though I can never apply eyeliner as deftly as Robert Smith. Thank God I’m better at the lipstick than he is, though.

Speaking of love and Lennon, today marks 40 years since the first public performance of “All You Need Is Love” on a massive world broadcast. Check out this fascinating post/video. Watching the way Lennon sings makes me really happy here; he just seems . . . pure.

June 21, 2007

New Feist remix: 1234 (VanShe Technologic remix)

While I prefer the original of this song (one of my two favorite tracks on The Reminder), I do admit that Feist‘s voice lends itself exceptionally well to remixes since it is so distinctive and always seems to just float over the top of whatever dense beats are laid down.

This is in honor of me seeing the lovely Leslie Feist tomorrow night in Boulder; I am uber-excited.

1234 (VanShe Technologic remix) – Feist

Out July 23rd in the UK
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April 13, 2007

Dance-tastic new video from Feist: “1234″

Okay, Feist is just wonderful in my book. A little crazy methinks, but in a creative and adventurous way. She carries the mantle now of making these surreal videos where everyone starts dancing in unison, this fantastic dream life, kind of the antithesis of Britney. You can watch everyone twirl in unison and not feel guilty.

Towards the end when everyone is crouched down swirling around her, it’s like you’ve got a tiny Feist in the washing machine. And incidentally, where does one get a suit like that? I can’t tell if it’s vinyl or sparkles or both.

“1234″ is off her addictively engaging The Reminder, out May 1 in the US, and the previous Monday (April 23) in Europe.

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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


November 14, 2006

Feelin’ a bit more Feisty

Today I was driving along listening to the new (excellent and enjoyable) soundtrack for the A Brokedown Melody surfing film (I know, with all this talk lately about surf films one might think I actually know how, but one would be so wrong). Track 3 is the Kings of Convenience song “Know How,” and I was thinking about how much I enjoy their duets with Feist, when all of a sudden her uncredited and unmistakable voice chimes in, making me very happy with my psychic powers.

Know How (featuring Feist) – Kings of Convenience

I recommend the whole album; I’ve listened to the Vedder ditty about seven times obviously, and the diversity of laid-back melodies on there are top-notch.

Also, speaking of Feist, a remix of her song “Inside Out” will be featured on a new CD being offered by Urban Outfitter stores in conjunction with Filter Magazine to raise money for the fight against breast cancer. The Give.Listen.Help compilation will also feature folks like Wolfmother, Cat Power, Chris Walla and Thom Yorke, and all offerings look unique (remixes, live versions, etc) so you might want to check it out next time you are picking up a pair of $134 jeans or a tongue-in-cheek bit of urban hipsteria.

September 12, 2006

The irresistible Feist on The Black Sessions, Paris 2004

If I had to choose between living in Italy and living in France, I’d always said Italy for sure (you know, just in case someone ever asked me, I needed to be prepared). But then you look at something like The Black Sessions (broadcast on Radio France) and it is *almost* enough to change your mind.

A play on the name of the host, Bernard Lenoir (get it? Le noir?), The Black Sessions have brought hundreds of great musicians from all over into Studio 105 in Paris to lay down lovely sets in front of a live audience. It’s kind of like their answer to KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, except sometimes longer (up to an hour), and minus Nic Harcourt’s charmingly accented questions. The sessions are often released in limited-edition CDs (promos, included with magazine, etc) so these excellent quality sets have their way of seeping out to the fans worldwide.

[Previously on Fuel: Eels, Black Session 2000]

On March 3, 2004 the irresistably lovely Ms. Leslie Feist stopped by The Black Sessions and spent 45 minutes charming the crowd with her fantastic vocal styling and sexy, intelligent, refreshing songs. The Kinks cover is absolutely ace.

01. Gatekeeper
Leisure Suite
One Evening
Lover’s Spit (Broken Social Scene cover)
06. Let It Die
When I Was A Young Girl
Lonely Lonely
Fool Proof (Ron Sexsmith cover)
10. That Girl (Kinks cover)
Now At Last


If you’ve never listened much to Feist before, this set is a superb live introduction. Most of these tracks are on her 2004 solo debut CD Let It Die, and this year she released the Open Season disc of remixes (both on Arts & Crafts). I read this charming quote from Feist about the remix album:

“At first I didn’t really understand what remixes were. If I squinted into the air I knew I could hear old songs with added beats piping out of radios, but I didn’t know why or how that happened . . . It was so bizarre and exciting to hear a song that we had so carefully dressed, be undressed and re-addressed, and put into clothes it would have never thought to wear on its own.”

Check out songs from & commentary about her Open Season disc here.

And rumor has it that Feist’s new album is due in January. Hurrah! Feist makes my short list of female musicians that I would like to somehow inhabit for a kickass week or two, just to see how it feels to be that rad.

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March 22, 2006

The only important thing these days is rhythm and melody, rhythm and melody

Hey – that’s catchy!!

Dance Hall Hips posted this Postal Service remix of Feist’s Mushaboom, which I know, practically every blog I’ve been to lately seems to be talking about in one way or another, but it’s dang catchy and I thought I’d share. I like the way the beat skitters along. You’ll dig it.

Mushaboom (Postal Service remix) – Feist

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January 23, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

It’s Monday, time again for me to open wide the vast musical archives (which are actually quickly filling up my 30GB iPod – I think I need a new 60. Your favorite friendly music blogger is currently accepting donations) to pull out some selections for y’all. And today’s caveat is that EZArchive (which stores the songs) may be acting weird. If you can’t get the tunes, stop back by later.

In the meantime I will give EZArchive a stern talking-to.

Satisfied Mind
Johnny Cash
I first heard this song done by Jeff Buckley on his Sketches (For My Sweetheart The Drunk). His version is saturated with a gorgeous and rich beauty (and was, incidentally, played at his memorial service – side note). Ben Harper also does a bluesy-gospel version with the Blind Boys of Alabama. But Johnny Cash, as always, puts his signature desolate and wind-blown sound to this song (from the Kill Bill 2 Soundtrack of all places) and it makes me feel all nostalgic and Grapes-of-Wrath-ish just to listen to it. God bless Johnny Cash.

Cayman Islands
Kings of Convenience featuring Feist
I posted on Norway’s Kings of Convenience before, but never about the lovely Canadian songstress Feist, who I have been hearing more and more professions of love for from the mouths of my musical friends. Feist paired with Kings for a few tracks on their album Riot On An Empty Street, released in 2004. This is a very mellow song with a nice blending of voices, with folksy finger-picking simple melody and lilting vocals. Check out “Homesick” from the same album for a straight up Simon & Garfunkel reunion.

Hard Times
This duo has now broken up, but Eastmountainsouth was a lovely surprise discovery that I made in 2004, scoring free tickets to go see them in a small club in San Francisco. Kat Maslich is from Clinch Mountain, Virginia, and she joins Alabama/Tennessee native Peter Adams on their evocative eponymous 2000 release. Maslich’s warm and powerful alto voice leads the album, alternating and meshing seamlessly with Adams. The organic and rural-sounding album employs a variety of styles of music, mostly centering around folk and acoustic melody, but incorporating hints of plucky bluegrass guitar and resonant piano. I highly recommend the album, and I wish you could still see them live as they were stunning. Oh, and this song was also featured on the Elizabethtown soundtrack last year.

Sunshine (live 11/13/03)
Matt Costa
I just got reminded (by a little birdie of sorts) of this great track that I’ve had sitting in my “To Blog” playlist for about three months now. Matt Costa was was number three on Fader Magazine’s Top Ten Things You Didn’t Appreciate Enough In 2005,” - an acoustic singer-songwriter in the vein of pal (and informal promoter) Jack Johnson. Costa has toured with Jack, as well as Donavon Frankenreiter (and probably G. Love), so you get a sense of his vibe. Costa also collaborates with Jack on the new Curious George soundtrack, which I buckled and pre-ordered on iTunes so I could get the excellent track “Upside Down,” which makes we want to swing in a hammock somewhere. But, again, that’s sort of off-topic. Sorry. “Sunshine” is from the 2005 album Songs We Sing. Check it out, you flip-flop-wearing surfer, you.

Reach Down
Pearl Jam with Chris Cornell

Once again, I had something else here in the number 5 spot, but then I realized today’s line-up was waaay too sparse and mellow and I am feeling a bit rockin’ today myself. So let’s rock a bit. I am getting all excited to receive the 2005 Pearl Jam Christmas Single vinyl. ‘But it is January,’ you say, ‘not Christmas.’ Well, in the 12 or 13 years as I have been in the Ten Club (the Pearl Jam fanclub), I don’t think I’ve ever gotten the annual record before February. This song was featured on the 2003 Christmas single, and this Temple of the Dog “reunion” took place October 28th of that year at a star-studded evening of music.

Thanks to Franz pointing this out: You can download this entire show at http://www.glidemagazine.com/downloads25.html. This amazing evening featured an acoustic set, and electric set, and three encores – filled with gems. Collaborating musicians include Jack Irons, Chris Cornell (also did 2 solo songs, one of his own and one Audioslave), John Frusciante (RHCP), Jack Johnson, and Lyle Workman. Grab the show for download before it is gone!

My favorite Seattle-ites are the topic of a new photo book coming out this Spring, “5×1: Pearl Jam Through the Eye of Lance Mercer.”

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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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