August 10, 2009

The Henry Clay People continue to rock, and ravage me on Scrabble


I am currently engaged in a tight battle of wits and words with a Henry Clay Person, via the magic of our computers. He challenged me in some sort of turf war repping, calling our match “Denver vs. LA.” Sorry Colorado, I’m losing. Mostly because he played “axil” for a large number of points and I have not yet caught up (oh, but I will).

I’ve seen Henry Clay People live several times and they’ve blown me out of the water each time. I dragged everyone I could to see them at SXSW, and I think I tallied 3 or 4 times in the roiling sweaty masses beneath their stage.

Tomorrow they bring their literate, bluesy/Stonesy, Pavement-rock to Denver’s Larimer Lounge, part of their current summer tour that’s moved them through Lollapalooza (where they were one of 15 to see, alongside bands like Depeche Mode and Heartless Bastards), and will deliver them back home to Los Angeles on Friday (Aug 14th) for a show at Echoplex, where apparently it is a summer circus and there are balloon animals involved.

Their shows radiate the joy of a good, ragged rock anthem and brotherly love (Joey and Andy are sibs, and like to tease each other good-naturedly while they bring the rock). Their music is loud and expansive, even redemptive. It makes me feel good on my insides (and in my eardrums).

Henry Clay People recently debuted two unreleased songs over at Dodge‘s Laundromatinee site, along with two songs from their excellent, highly-recommended 2008 album For Cheap Or For Free (out on Aquarium Drunkard’s Autumn Tone label).

In that video up there for “Half Asleep,” you can feel some of the swaggering, lazy, sexy guitar work that won me over, along with memorable lyrics like, “I was half asleep when you said you were sorry to me …yeah I was half awake when you took it back.”

I Was Half Asleep – Henry Clay People
The End Of An Empire (unreleased) – Henry Clay People

For the other two songs (mp3s) and to watch the rest of the session, head over to Laundromatinee — there’s one more unreleased song over there (“The Good Ones”), a glimpse of where they’re going.

Their MySpace player features my four favorite songs on their album, including “You Can Be Timeless,” which I’ve never seen them play live so I am crossing my fingers for tomorrow night. The mp3 of that song is also part of the free Lollapalooza digital sampler, along with folks like Fleet Foxes, The Raveonettes, and Joe Pug.

Rock on, and scrabble hard.

April 12, 2009

Henry Clay People take over Spaceland in April

One of the most compelling new acts I’ve seen in the past few months is the Henry Clay People — the kind of compelling that sends little frissons of electricity down your spine and makes you feel sometimes like you want to burst into twenty directions. I saw them in Denver in February and again a few breathless times in Austin.

They are taking over Los Angeles’ Spaceland every Monday for the month of April, playing with some unbelievable support acts — Mike Watt last week? The Broken West tomorrow? It’s free. Go.

You Can Be Timeless – Henry Clay People


(in their own words)

DJ – Solid Todd
9pm-WRITER (our San Diego buddies, who are also brothers, who are great at making typically quiet music loud and fun)
10pm-THE BROKEN WEST (listen to “Down in the Valley” and “Auctioneer”–2 songs we wish we had written)
12am-THE WORLD RECORD (Best band in LA? I think so. My parents do too. You will agree. Plus everyone in the band is also in Parson Red Heads—come from good blood.)

DJ-Velvet Touch
9pm-MARVELOUS TOY (Heartfelt rock n roll with radical pianos)
10pm-the WHIP (All the way from the U.K.)
12am-ADELINE AND THE PHILISTINES (Lovely, Pretty, and all that)

DJ-Mr. Shovel
9pm-SWIM PARTY (More buddies from San Diego—the bass playing will make you melt, and make you hungry)
12am-FLYING TOURBILLON ORCHESTRA (singer Hunter Cousteau kind of resembles Jacques Cousteau, just not as naval)


February 23, 2009

Henry Clay People play (for cheap or for free) tonight in Denver!


Hey Colorado kids, come on out tonight to see a FREE show with one of my new favorite bands, The Henry Clay People. They are in our fair town to open for the sold-out Airborne Toxic Event show, which was just rescheduled (to April 15) due to illness.

Henry Clay People are instead regaling us with their rock for free at the Larimer Lounge tonight. I am ridiculously excited; theirs is another CD that has not left my car lately: For Cheap Or For Free (out on Aquarium Drunkard‘s Autumn Tone label). Take a listen to the opening track on their album, also a favorite for steering-wheel drumming, and I’ll see you there.

Something In The Water – Henry Clay People

BONUS: Aquarium Drunkard also recently posted a live in-studio set, featuring three new songs! Check it out.

January 12, 2009

Monday Music Roundup


The cunning, evil piglets run to the tiger, smothering her with their small hooves and short snouts. Made weak by the cuteness of the piglets (and undoubtedly aware of the fact that she is only making the situation worse by being in the picture herself), she reaches out her paw, licking her lips, grasping for an errant piglet she can stuff in her mouth. That would really ruin the moment, she thinks to herself, desperate for some way – any way – out of this moment of terrifying cross-species affection.

I find the Fuck You, Penguin blog entirely hilarious,  even if I’ll admit to feeling a little shy about admitting it. Really, you think you’re too good to let animals “say” funny things and make you laugh, but you’re dead wrong.

When I’m not looking at tiny cute monkeys and stuff this week, I’ve been listening to some electrifyingly good music:

Fall In Step

Last week, a mash-up artist called Minty Fresh Beats unleashed an entire (undoubtedly illegal) album of Jay-Z/Radiohead blends that kiiind of has been rocking my world all week. Before he gets arrested and the files expunged from the internet, you need to go listen to that kickass opening to “15 Step” with Jay-Z’s “ah, ah, yeah, whoo!” and then the shattering fragmentation of the beat that makes my head spin around. I haven’t yet been able to listen to this without smiling. The whole album is inspired and near-flawless.

You Can Be Timeless
Henry Clay People

The formula may be one we know: the slow start, the ragged heartfelt vocals, the muted power chords and then — the explosion and the crush of hot summer nights and a rebel vibrancy. Henry Clay People remind me of The Hold Steady and Springsteen and there, I’ve said it. I cannot stop listening to their fresh take on themes we all know so well and a language I speak fluently. Signed to the Autumn Tone label (Aquarium Drunkard) and opening for Airborne Toxic Event in these next few months (including Feb 23 at Denver’s Bluebird), this is a band I am totally gonna investigate more. Hot dang. For Cheap Or For Free is out now.

Nothing To Worry About
Peter Bjorn & John

How charming; the whistling Swedes have tapped the same children’s choir as Justice’s D.A.N.C.E. (a fact I may have arguably made up just now, but certainly sounds true).  In another “wow, the internet is weird” moment, the first song off the new album from superstar-whistlers Peter Bjorn & John was leaked via Kanye West’s blog last week, and as Kanye says, “SHIT IS DOPE!! DRUMS ARE CRAZY AND I LIKE THE KIDS ON THE HOOK…LOL!!!… The new PB&J album Living Things will be out at the end of March, and this hugely stomping song sounds nothing like the young folks ditty. Peter Bjorn & John were also just announced on the initial SXSW lineup — and it looks like I will be making the trek to Austin this year for the first time! Suggestions on BBQ are now being accepted.

Five Years Time
Noah And The Whale

In a pleasant mixing of your memories of Sunday School stories, Noah And The Whale scramble tales of divine intervention with that whistling you’re not getting this time around from Peter Bjorn & John. Over a sparkly effervescent ukulele, this band from Twickenham, England just charmed my pants off and made me clap my hands. Wow, that sounds like an odd predicament to be in. This song is all fun fun fun, love love love, and sunshine — and despite the message of “in five years time, I may not know you,” they want to drink and laugh in the park with you today. Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down is out now and they’re hitting the UK in March.

World Without End (live on HearYa)
A.A. Bondy

A friend who makes cooler mix CDs than me just included an A.A. Bondy track on his year-end retrospective and it perked my ears up with the thick melancholy authenticity. Bondy is the former frontman of Verbena, and this track comes to us free and clear from the excellent Hear Ya Sessions compilation (those in-studio DIYers who taped Samantha Crain at the end of the summer). I’m reminded here of the simplicity of the Avett Brothers — a rawness, and the ability to eviscerate with very few words: “and now you are broken, and I am less,” followed by a bittersweet harmonica of a thousand walking-aways. Just off a fall tour with the Felice Brothers, Bondy’s American Hearts is out now on Fat Possum (and there’s a free Daytrotter session here).

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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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