April 20, 2009

Monday Music Roundup


Spurred by an article I read on the Wall Street Journal site this morning about the movement to ban Comic Sans (and other “fonts of ill will”), I’ve been thinking about typefaces today. One of the hardest things about this new site was the damn typeface. Are you aware, dear reader, of the boggling array of choices one has when selecting the visual representation of their words? And that everyone’s computers may see it differently anyway?

Talking with the guys who laid out my new site often boggles my mind. They send me links to whole sites discussing typefaces, almost as if it were a fetish (is it? It is, isn’t it). They compose sentences like, “I find something pleasingly humanizing about slab-serifs.” It is a whole other world that makes my head spin. A pleasing distraction. As I threatened to them over email a few minutes ago, I am going to start dropping serious typeface knowledge at bars, and then run off with a rich font heir.

When I’m not geeking out over the appearance of my written words in this digital age, I am listening to some new tunes. Of course.

Jarvis Cocker

The first single from his second solo album, Jarvis Cocker himself (of Pulp fame, and one of my favorite smarmy smarm voices) took time to answer a few preemptive questions about the release. My favorite is: “#3 – HAS JARVIS GONE ROCK? No – but during the course of touring his last record he discovered that, with this band, he COULD rock & so he’d be a fool not to. (When the situation demanded it).” Clearly.  Further Complications was recorded in Chicago with Steve Albini while the band was in town for the Pitchfork Music Festival, and is due 5/19 on Rough Trade.

First Person
jennyJenny Owen Youngs

This slip of a track (it’s all of forty seconds) starts of Jenny Owen Youngs‘ sophomore album in completely irresistible fashion. All handclaps and ukuleles, this seems like a tune Feist could choreograph something for. Following the success of her ferociously honest Batten The Hatches, her new album Transmitter Failure (May 26, Nettwerk) is richly orchestrated, backed at times with the string section from the Spring Awakening musical (oh, I liked that post).

electric-owlsMagic Show
Electric Owls

After years fronting The Comas, Andy Herod decided (in his words) to “stop playing music for a while because being in a band was ruining my life.” He tells the story of leaving New York City, sitting late at night as a house party wound down to the strains of Neutral Milk Hotel, and how he “just started pulling out all of this old stuff and listening and remembering and learning all over again what used to really electrify my heart.” Recording with local Asheville, North Carolina musician friends under the name Electric Owls, the shimmering and authentic result is an album called Ain’t Too Bright, out on Vagrant Records on May 5. This is just what I needed today.

The Boy From Lawrence County
yonderistheclock-300x300Felice Brothers

Does anyone else think that this dude should get together with the girl from North Country? Seems obvious to me. Last year The Felice Brothers knocked me flat when they came in all whirling dervishes of accordions, wonderfully wordy lyrics, and pure undiluted joy in concert. The sophomore album Yonder Is The Clock (out now on Conor Oberst’s Team Love label) is largely a pensive, gorgeous, twilight album. This song grabbed me on the long drive home Sunday night — so resigned and wistful. It sounds like it already happened a long time ago, the quietly plucking banjo plunking like rain on a cabin’s tin roof, just starting to fall or right after the storm has passed overhead. “Roll on old silver river through the Iron Range, past the sleeping trains that wait. Gold and amber petals in your water wade.”

clem-snideBorn A Man
Clem Snide

I found myself in a conversation at the Clem Snide show on Tuesday night with my friend Luke (the wonderful illustrator responsible for that Fuel/Friends header logo above!) and we had to keep straightening out in our minds how Clem Snide is the band and Eef Barzelay is the frontman. However you say his first name, Eef is a songwriter that impresses me in the league of John Darnielle and the Decemberists — you know, the kids who could have soundtracked an SAT study party. I cleaned out the merch booth after his incisively impressive set, picking up more discs to get acquainted with his extensive catalog. Their newest album Hungry Bird (429 Records) is represented well by this vivid song that hit me the hardest during his set, with its bluesy melody that somehow manages to feel effervescent. When Eef repeated the line over and over again – “We are just bracing for the impact by loosening our limbs…”  something in my chest tightened. “Every single one of us has a kitten up a tree.”

August 27, 2008

New Felice Brothers video :: “Frankie’s Gun” (plus tour dates)

I saw New York’s Felice Brothers perform this weekend at Outside Lands, and what an explosion! I never fancied myself as a massive accordion fan, but yeehaw. It’s all good. Also, any song that has the lyric “Spit make a fender shine, Frankie’s a friend-a-mine / Got me off a bender after long-legged Brenda died” (and isn’t a Dylan song) gets props in my book. See my original write-up about them here, and a slew of headlining tour dates were announced today:


04 – Burlington, VT – Higher Ground
05 – Northampton, MA – Iron Horse
06 – Cambridge, MA – Club Passim
07 – Great Barrington, MA – Club Helsinki
11 – Albany, NY – Linda Norris Auditorium*
12 – Ithaca, NY – Castaways*
13 – Hoboken, NJ – Maxwell’s*
14 – Alexandria, VA – The Birchmere Bandstand*
16 – Atlanta, GA – Smith’s Olde Bar*
18 – Nashville, TN – Exit / In*
19 – Lexington, KY – Christ the King Oktoberfest*
20 – Chicago, IL – Abbey Pub*
21 – Iowa City, IA – The Mill*
23 – Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room*
24 – St. Louis, MO – Billiken Club at St. Louis University (Open to the Public)*
25 – Notre Dame, IN – Legends of Notre Dame (Student’s Only)*
26 – Cincinnati, OH – Midpoint Music Festival at the Know Theater*
27 – Rutland, OH – Reclaim Festival*
29 – Knoxville, TN – Barley’s Taproom*
30 – Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506*

02 – Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church*
09 – Princeton, NJ – Terrace F. Club (Princeton U – Student’s Only)#
10 РPittsburgh, PA РClub Caf̩#
11 – Louisville, KY – Palace Theatre%
13 РMemphis, TN РHi-Tone Caf̩#
15 – Oxford, MS – Proud Larry’s#
16 – Birmingham, AL – Workplay Theater#
17 – New Orleans, LA – Maple Leaf#
18 – Alexandria, LA – Alexandria Music Project#
22 – West Hollywood, CA – The Troubadour#
23 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall#
24 – Portland, OR – Mission Theatre#
25 – Seattle, WA – Chop Suey#
27 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Paladium#
28 РBoulder, CO РFox Theatre & Caf̩#

02 – New York, NY – Spiegeltent#

* = w/ A.A. Bondy
# = w/ Deer Tick
% = opening for Old Crow Medicine Show

March 12, 2008

The Felice Brothers & Conor Oberst :: “Walls” (Tom Petty)

Bruce loves The Felice Brothers just as much as I do, and I found this cover he posted to be jubilant and electrifying.

I cannot help but smile wide at the loose, rough joy they exude in their musical jam (even if Conor is dressed kinda like he just stumbled in from post-work happy hour karaoke):

That is live music at its absolute best.

January 17, 2008

Sit for a spell with the Felice Brothers

Over recent months, a few trusted friends have recommended the Felice Brothers from New York as a group that I simply must listen to. I haven’t done so until now, and I am wondering what the heck took me so long.

A band of (mostly) actual brothers from the Catskills, there’s a raw and unfinished sound to their storytelling brand of folk-americana. I find that as you sit with them, the colors of their music start to come out in a warm rich burn, like a campfire at 2am. Very few artists write stories like this anymore, except for folks like Ray LaMontagne or the Hold Steady, in very different sounding ways.

Their vivid music is populated by characters with names like Long-Legged Brenda and take the listener along on all kinds of wild narratives that echo Dylan in their complexity and seeming unsingability. Both of these introductory tunes have a thoroughly warm, communal singalong feel to them, and the first tune in particular seems like it would be perfect behind the closing credits rolling on a really good movie.

Frankie’s Gun – The Felice Brothers
[from The Adventures of the Felice Brothers, Vol 1]

Roll On Arte – The Felice Brothers
[from Tonight At The Arizona, 2007, Loose UK]

Fresh off shows with Bright Eyes, David Gray, and Levon Helm, they’re playing tonight with Son Volt in Chicago, and then on tour in the coming months with artists like the Drive-By Truckers and North Mississippi Allstars.

Recently signed to Team Love Records (the label co-founded by Conor Oberst), the Felice Brothers will release a collection of new tunes combined with older hard-to-find tracks from the tour-only full length The Adventures of the Felice Brothers Vol 1. Their self-titled American debut will be out on March 4th 2008.

Given that “felice” means happy in italiano, they make me happy inside to have found them.

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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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