November 11, 2010

to believe in this living is just a hard way to go

So, this happened last night…

Josh Ritter Hold Steady eTown 094

Josh Ritter and his talented Royal City Band played the final song, “Angel From Montgomery” with The Hold Steady. Never in a million years would I peg this pairing as one that would work, but it absolutely did. Listen for the eTown show in 6-8 weeks (like the secret decoder ring you sent away for in the mail).

During the eTown interview process last night, Josh spoke of how this current album So Runs The World Away feels for the first time like this is his party, a statement of his permanency, and that he’ll be making music for a long time. He headlines Denver’s Ogden Theater tonight, and I can’t wait.

November 8, 2010

Josh Ritter + The Hold Steady in Colorado this week (win tickets!)



Coloradans! Josh Ritter is returning to our fair state for the first time since his jaw-droppingly rich Telluride set this summer, way off beyond them hills.

This time he is coming closer to the more populated regions, playing Wednesday night (11/10) in Fort Collins for an eTown taping with The Hold Steady (what? really? I know, right?!).

Thursday night Josh is headlining the Ogden with his full Royal City Band, with support from a Denver musician who goes by the name of Thieving Irons.

shows_ive_seenWIN TICKETS, YOU SAY?!
Surely. Fuel/Friends has one pair of tickets for the eTown taping in Fort Collins to give away, and two pairs for the Denver show on Thursday night. To win, you must email me your favorite Josh Ritter lyric, and why you love it, and tell me which show you are entering for. I’ll be at both shows, looking forward to it.

[top image credit Brian Stowell, Ritter merch guy extraordinaire. Second image mine from one of the best SXSW shows ever.]

May 18, 2009

Monday Music Roundup

This weekend felt like the head-clearing kickoff of summer for me.

In addition to examining the smattering of new shoots emerging in my garden, running down green trails Saturday morning, an excellent peppered bacon breakfast with good company on Sunday morning, and Sunday twilight rooftop patio relaxin’ in Boulder, I was enraptured twice by The Bittersweets.


The Bittersweets converted me into something of a frothing-at-the-mouth missionary by Saturday morning. After leaving their Friday night show practically vibrating from the perfection of it all, I went home singing their songs in my car, to myself, loud and strong and clear. Saturday morning I started calling people, emailing those who I might be able to entice away from the sold-out Flight of the Conchords / Iron & Wine show at Red Rocks to come see The Bittersweets at Swallow Hill (sadly, a very low conversion rate).

So what was it about them that left me so rattled in all the right ways?

Well, as I told a friend on the phone shortly after waking, they kinda broke my heart and fixed it all in one night and I couldn’t breathe. Both the strength of the songwriting and the brilliant chemistry of primary songwriter Chris Meyers and lead vocalist Hannah Prater are exceptional, along with the slide guitar and harmonica of Jason Goforth rounding out the trio. “Come,” I wrote to friends. “Like Whiskeytown before anyone heard of them and before Ryan Adams started twittering about his decline. Or like Gillian Welch in a tiny tiny venue.”

They played their rootsy, honest music for a solid two hours, songs laden with plaintive lines that stopped me dead (“it’s been years, and I’m still fucked up, like some stillborn afterthought“). There were a handful of beautiful covers in there — Lucinda Williams’ “Orphan” early in the set, the sweetly wrenching “Broken Things” by Julie Miller, and towards the end of a late night, “Tomorrow Is A Long Time” (Dylan) and “I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You” by Tom Waits. Tom Waits is real good at that hour.

They closed their main set with the heart-stopping rendition of “When The War is Over” that I was waiting for — but they sang it standing down in the crowd with no microphones or amps, lapsing in the middle of the song over to “Falling Slowly” as I hoped they would. You could have heard a pin drop and it felt like half the audience was swallowing back a lump. The first time I heard that song, I personally “knew” instantly that it was about a divorce and the wake left, because of the way it punched me square in the metaphorical jaw. I talked to Chris afterwards about his song, letting him know how devastatingly powerful I found it to be. “Yeah,” he said, “People always come up to me and think it’s an anti-war song, and tell me how powerful of a political statement it makes, but the war there…” he looked around over his shoulder, then leaned forward towards me, “…it’s the war of a divorce.”

The shots I took Friday night are here, so you can see a little of what I saw. GO see The Bittersweets, por favor. My handstamp from Friday said it all:


A few more “wow” tunes this week:

The Love Language

This song starts with machine -gunfire drums under a huge carnival big-top, all swirling sequined girls and fire-twirling. What a fun, perfect summer song from North Carolina’s Stu McLamb, performing as The Love Language, a band that my friend Oz at HearYa is calling his favorite new discovery. I like taking Oz’s word for things, and I think LL might be getting a fair amount of rotation from me all through these upcoming summer months. This tune is from the home-recorded, self-titled debut album. Man, there’s a lot of Voxtrot here, and, as their MySpace description says, LL sounds “like etta james kicking heroin.”

Flightless Bird, American Mouth (alternate version)
iron-and-wine-around-the-wellIron & Wine

If my sources are correct, the formidable Sam Beam played this gorgeous song at Red Rocks on Saturday night, aptly controlling the there-to-laugh crowd with “songs about God and shit.” Alongside songs like “Woman King” and a set-closing “Trapeze Swinger” — even without hearing what he played in between, I’d say that sounds like a bit of heaven. Tomorrow Iron & Wine is releasing a 23-song double disc of rarities and b-sides called Around The Well, and having had the privilege to sit with it for a few weeks, I can say that I have found so, so much to love within those quiet plucked notes and whispered truths. This version of Flightless Bird, American Mouth comes from the free collection of alternate versions of songs off 2007′s The Shepherd’s Dog, which you can download for free over on the Iron & Wine site. Go. Do it.

catfish-heavenSet in Stone
Catfish Haven

A flirty funk-guitar riff starts things off loose and happy here, and then that compelling Seventies-tastic bassline comes in. There’s a world-weary strain in the voice of lead singer George Hunter, almost as if it’s too difficult to be this earnest, this cool. Hailing from Chicago with a blisteringly boozy soul that feels more at home in the South, Catfish Haven makes my heart beat a little faster. This track is off Devastator, their third album, out now on Secretly Canadian, and one of SPIN’s best overlooked records of last year. I looked right over it, and now am circling back.

Northern Lights

I am pretty sure I first heard of North Carolina’s Bowerbirds when they collaborated with Bon Iver on tour, covering that heartbreaking Sarah Siskind song. Their 2007 debut incited John Darnielle to say they were his “favorite new band in forever” — and what’s not to love in the simplicity of the lyrics here:

And I do need the wind across my pale face. And I do need the ferns to unfurl in the spring. And I do need the grass to sway. Yes, I do need to know my place. But all I want is your eyes, in the morning as we wake, for a short while.” This is the first song off their new album Upper Air, out July 7th on Dead Oceans/Secretly Canadian. Bowerbirds are on tour with Megafaun all this summer, including a date right through Denver here during our 2009 Underground Music Showcase. Hmmm.

mallmancoverartYou’re Never Alone In New York (feat Craig Finn)
Mark Mallman

Any time Craig Finn guest stars on a track, I’m gonna want to hear it — a constant curiosity about how well his distinctive, pointed delivery works outside of the Hold Steady we love. Friends from the shared hometown of Minneapolis, Finn joins Ruby Isle frontman Mark Mallman on a track from his forthcoming solo release Invincible Criminal (Aug 11 on Badman), an album that was written “in the haunted basement of a converted church and inspired by a ghostly apparition of Elvis.” This intro is a slick, shiny song about big cities, I could tell when Craig Finn was about come in because the mood of the song shifts away from electronica and towards that meaningful-sounding swell of piano chords and then — boom. I was right. He comes in just at the right moment, bringing things back down into the dive bars and boulevards. [via P-fork]

December 12, 2008

Fuel/Friends favorites of 2008

Another year packed with music has come and gone. Music is a language I can’t create myself but it does me good to know that every hour someone out there is humming a snippet of a melody, returning to their seat at the bar with a head full of lyrics that just occurred to them, or tapping out a drumbeat on their leg in the car. People everywhere are trying to get it right, to get the music out just so they can be. I am glad that they do.

2008 was full of fantastic (and varied) music from all corners of the world for me. I sometimes feel overwhelmed with the quantity of music and the subjectivity that swirls around the ones that make it vs. the ones that no one ever hears. I wish I’d had more hours to listen to (and properly digest) more songs this year. As it is, these are ten albums (plus two EPs plus one carryover from last year) that affected me on a gut level in the past twelve months. These are the ones I listened to over and over, that knocked the wind out of me and made me glad I have ears.

These aren’t “the best.” These are just my favorites.


Nada Surf
I’ve been surprised by the intensity with which I’ve listened to this album in 2008. I guess it’s tapping into the introspective moments of my year as it pertains to “grown-up life,” which Caws sings is like “eating speed or flying a plane — it’s too bright.” The album cover hints perfectly at the feel of the music; the moment where it’s still warm from the sun but the gorgeous pinpricks of light are starting to shine through. I talked today about the cascades of glory on this album, a blazing meteor from this band that’s been around so long. I saw Matthew Caws perform solo last night and he said, “We feel blessed to have a second story,” (post-mid-Nineties buzz band). “It’s the story we always wanted anyways.” I’ve listened to this album a hundred times this year and it still affects me deeply, makes it okay to be fragile — and to be on a vector up.
[original review, interview]

Beautiful Beat – Nada Surf

Midnight Organ Fight
Frightened Rabbit
(Fat Cat)
Coming from Scotland with their hearts held out for the offering, these two brothers plus two bandmates have crafted an album that is not for the fainthearted, but excellent for the honest. Over gorgeous melodies and with a thick and wrenching Scottish brogue, Frightened Rabbit guttingly dissect the moments of bravery and moments of weakness that go with a relationship ending. Peter Katis (The National) produced this lilting, rocking piece of perfection — unflinching in its intimacy.
[original review, interview]

Backwards Walk – Frightened Rabbit

For Emma Forever Ago
Bon Iver
I didn’t know when I started 2008 just how much I would need this album. Justin Vernon recorded this achingly vulnerable album in the Wisconsin woods in the dead of cold winter as he recovered from a breakup. The name he adopted means “good winter” in French, and I think the name fits the music as well as that ice-encrusted window on the cover. In winter, things move a little slower, but with more crisply defined edges, and the first time I heard this something was scraped loose inside of me. His music is wrapped in a thin skin but a current thrums powerfully under the surface. This is an album that I am unable to shake.
[watch: still one of the most perfect things I’ve seen this year]

Skinny Love – Bon Iver

Stay Positive
The Hold Steady
I think the thing that gets me with the Hold Steady, this year or any past year when they’ve released an album, is that they are unabashed in their belief in rock and roll. Craig Finn is a modern day prophet who flails and explodes with the force of the catharsis of these fantastic sounding songs that they must get out. The lyrics trace some of the most intelligent, evocative stories you’ll hear with characters I feel I know by now (they might as well be breathing). This is an immense album, with the pounding piano that crashes across the songs and the brass instruments slicing through. Gorgeously grand and subversively hopeful.
[original review]

Constructive Summer – The Hold Steady

The ’59 Sound
The Gaslight Anthem
(Side One Dummy)
If the Hold Steady filter their love for Springsteen through a lens of kids raised on punk and The Replacements, Jersey’s Gaslight Anthem play with an urgency and passion of a pre-Born to Run Bruce, young and hungry. Lead singer Brian Fallon grew up in a home four blocks from E Street, and this band is crafting songs that hold up as well when howled out ragged as they do stripped down to their bare acoustic bones. There’s a wisdom and sometimes a resignation beyond their years.

Great Expectations – The Gaslight Anthem

Ode To Sunshine
Delta Spirit
Delta Spirit was formed in San Diego when lead singer Matt Vasquez was busking loudly by the train tracks and he met with Brandon Young at two in the morning. The honesty and sloppiness that bleeds through at 2am is captured well on this authentic album with a vintage feel. It basks in the warmth of the surf guitars, the singalongs and handclaps and banging on trashcan lids, the tinkly last-call piano over glasses clattering.
[original review]

Trashcan – Delta Spirit

Dual Hawks
Centro-Matic/South San Gabriel
The cinematic desert beauty and chugging fuzz-rock found side-by-side on this dual album swooped in late in the year to win me over. I saw an acoustic video of Will Johnson, who helms both bands, performing “I, The Kite,” from an album I’d passed over too quickly the first time around. Both bands are Will’s and explore different dimensions of his music — Centro-matic electric like the heat in the air even as the Texas August sun has just begun to rise, whereas the more muted, spacious South San Gabriel has tones of evening and fireflies. This album was written and recorded fast and pure in a handful of days in the studio, and has a feeling of distilled essentials.

Counting The Scars – Centro-Matic

Oh! Mighty Engine
Neil Halstead
(Brushfire Records)
Taking six long years from his last solo release Sleeping On Roads, influential British musician Neil Halstead (Slowdive) comes quietly back with a humble album of acoustic folk melodies that rewards the listener for their patience. This is a slow grower for me, and I find that more hues in the songs are revealed to me the longer I sit with it — a task I am eminently willing to take on. Halstead sings about trying to get the colors right, and with these unassuming tunes I think he does.

Paint A Face – Neil Halstead

The Great Collapse
Everything Absent or Distorted
This Denver collective does things full tilt. They play with seemingly all the instruments they can find, in order to squeeze the earnest beauty out of every melody and every rhythm. They fearlessly meld incisive lyrics with a resilient hope, like on “Aquariums”: “We are aquariums — left outside, but we hold life and a bright light in our glass walls.” With eight official members (and up to 15 on stage) EAOD is a joy to watch, and that joy transmits onto this smart album of sweeping scope. Amidst banjos and casio keyboards, trumpets and pots and pans, this band is ready for a larger stage. Literally.
[original review]

A form to accommodate the mess – Everything Absent or Distorted

Little Joy
Little Joy
(Rough Trade)
It’s as simple as this: Little Joy just makes me happy. Their thirty-minute debut album is short and occasionally rough, it’s kitschy and danceable with Brazilian influences. I like the quiet Technicolor flicker of songs like the Portuguese “Evaporar” as much as the jerky fun of “How To Hang A Warhol,” and all the shades in between. Binki Shapiro’s vocal contributions on this album are especially charming, as she croons out of my stereo like an old-time Victrola.
[original review]

No One’s Better Sake – Little Joy

HONORARY TOPS (should have been on last year’s damn list):

In Rainbows (physical release)

Because I was overwhelmed and ignorant at the end of 2007, and didn’t give this my undivided attention until someone sat me down in a darkened room and made me really, really listen to it.

And come on Heather. Come on.

Last Flowers To The Hospital (bonus track) – Radiohead


Second Gleam EP
The Avett Brothers
(Ramseur Records)
Scaling back from their potently explosive live show of punk bluegrass, the Avetts showed again this year that they can also craft devastatingly simple ballads relying solely on acoustic guitar, strings, and their pure voices that blend and compete as only brothers can. [original review]

Murder In The City – The Avett Brothers

The Confiscation EP, A Musical Novella
Samantha Crain
(Ramseur Records)
Also from the excellent Ramseur label, 22-year-old Oklahoman Samantha Crain has Choctaw Indian roots and a dusky earnestness to her alto voice. The five songs here tell a cohesive story (a musical novella indeed) with shimmering, unvarnished truth.
[original review]

In Smithereens, The Search For Affinity – Samantha Crain

LISTEN: Once again this year, I’ll be appearing on NPR’s World Cafe with David Dye on January 1st to talk about stuff from this list! We have a lot of fun. You should listen (online, or via your local station that carries the show), and tell your mom to listen too. I know mine will be.

[top image credit tim!]

July 15, 2008

Hold Steady contest winners

The Hold Steady‘s new album Stay Positive is out today on Vagrant Records, and the randomly-selected winners of the contest are as follows:

Cousin Walt
The Blot

Benjamin K.
Miles in Denver (hi neighbor!)

If you are a winner, please let me know where to have the good folks at Vagrant send your musical winnings. Thanks for all the amazing entries; what a breathtaking lyrical pool we have to select from.

July 10, 2008

The Hold Steady / Stay Positive: “Let’s clutch and kiss and sing and shake, tonight let’s try to levitate”

Back then it was beautiful
The boys were sweet and musical
The laser lights looked mystical
. . . Messed up still felt magical

The more I listen to The Hold Steady, the more I think they might have what it takes to save rock & roll from crushing heartlessness, unoriginal pallor, and detached apathy. You might have noticed that people tend to fall diametrically on one side or the other of the Hold Steady spectrum. My friend Barber once described lead singer Craig Finn as “a crazy inebriated prophet, ear tuned to the roar, shouting out real-life scripture over the ocean of noise of society or a really loud bar band.” Yet I have other friends who violently object to the whole concept whenever I broach it. The Hold Steady must be something you either get –and get hard– or don’t. On this new album especially, I find it difficult to understand the latter.

On their fourth studio album Stay Positive (which drops in physical form July 15th) these five guys from Minneapolis stretch their songwriting out down new roads, and as always everything feels pretty epic and massive. Pressed up against gorgeously grand and subversively hopeful songs, Finn weaves complex stories of lust and confusion, of cutting and car crashes, of oracles and angels.

You can get an accurate impression of the feelings contained on Stay Positive from the cover and superb inner album art. Despite the muddy ground and the nauseatingly yellow sky with all the color bled out, there is always the potential for something exciting to happen tonight, for some urgency to swoop down and make you feel alive for forty-five minutes. The feeling of continuity that connects all of the Hold Steady’s albums is present here, through serial characters like Holly –who has been in the hospital, shaky but still trying to shake it, and now the girl who won’t say hi to him– and also through recurrent themes that perennially crop up to make a Hold Steady song what it is. The landscape is desolate, but the kids in the songs still yearn.

Stay Positive is also their album of bleeding and miracles — a fitting dichotomy for a band that plumbs both the gritty violent parts of our psyche as well as the redemption. On one of the album’s strongest tracks, Finn calls a girl named Sapphire (who possesses some hallucinogenic visionary abilities) and begs, “I know you said don’t call until I’m clean . . . but I’m not drunk, I’m cut. I’m gushing blood, and I need someone to come and pick me up.” I find something in the desperation of how Finn wrenches and pleads out that line that reverberates throughout the album. There’s talk of crucifixion, visions, and miracles, and later he sings “Don’t mention bloodshed, don’t tell them it hurts, don’t say we saw angels, they’ll take us straight to the church.” Make no mistake, this is an album of the mud and the blood and the beer, but along with that comes some old-fashioned revival-style hallelujah.

Musically, Stay Positive is as richly dense as anything they’ve done. I always find a sort of deliverance in the crashing piano cadences and expansive guitar solos of the Hold Steady, even as the lyrics detail another sad night, another desperate move. J Mascis guests stars (playing banjo on “Both Crosses”), as do Ben Nichols of Lucero and Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers (on backing vocals in a few songs). This is an album I am obviously enjoying immensely through the throes of this sweltering summer.

LISTEN: Sequestered In Memphis & Lord I’m Discouraged (stream)

NEW CONTEST: Thanks to the good folks at Vagrant, I have Hold Steady largess to scatter upon ye lucky masses like manna from the heavens.

Three lucky winners will win the Stay Positive CD (with the 3 bonus tracks on it, I think) and two of you will be spinning the black circle with the vinyl LP. The vinyl is 160 gram (black color), gatefold, and will feature one bonus track “Ask Her For The Adderall.”

Please leave me a comment indicating which format you are entering for, and since there are so many good ones to choose from, let’s talk about favorite Hold Steady lyrics.

Walk away with these lines from the new album — they leave you with that ache:

Girls didn’t seem so difficult
Boys didn’t seem so typical

It was all warm and white and wonderful

We were all invincible

We were wasps with new wings
Now we’re bugs in the jar
We were hot soft and pure

Now we’re scratched up in scars.

POSTSCRIPT OF OLD CONTEST BUSINESS: The Joe Strummer prize pack garnered some of the very best comments yet left on Fuel/Friends. From lighting Joe’s cigarette (a tale I verified with the cool commenter – oh, to have a lighter just when Joe Strummer fumbles for one outside a Vegas hotel) to talking to him backstage, wracked with nervous anticipation, you gotta go read all the great tales. Because I’m soft, I went with a randomly-selected winner: James from Brooklyn. Congrats! Let me know where to send it.

June 25, 2008

Free Hold Steady show in Boston tomorrow

While we wait for Stay Positive to fully unleash upon the masses, Miller Lite and are bringing Bostonians a free show with The Hold Steady tomorrow (Thursday) at The Paradise.

You gotta dance with who you came to dance with, and also you gotta RSVP here:

Opening act is Boston’s own Aberdeen City. Show at 8pm, 21+. If past performance is any indication of future results, it just might be a massive night.

Massive Nights – The Hold Steady

(man I love that song).

Tagged with .
May 19, 2008

The Hold Steady almost killed me

The Hold Steady have their newest album all wrapped up. Stay Positive is due out on July 15th on Vagrant, and the first single “Sequestered in Memphis” is out this Tuesday on iTunes. To help ease the sting of waiting for their follow-up to the absolutely brilliant Boys and Girls In America (2006), I’ve gone down a few rabbit trails and come up with the following live versions of new Hold Steady songs for you to wrap your ears around:

Stay Positive
(live at Emo’s 2008)

Constructive Summer
(live at Emo’s 2008)
Lord I’m Discouraged
(live at Toad’s Place, 2007)
(live at the Metro, 2007)
Joke About Jamaica
(live at the Metro, 2007)


Also for your reading pleasure, UNCUT Magazine blog posted a very positive early review of the overall feel (with some strong lyrical excerpts), while The Music Magazine UK also published a track-by-track review.

I’m excited as all get out about the summer tour which was announced Thursday. Presales are on this weekend, with several ending Monday night. The Hold Steady still put on one of the most ebullient live shows I’ve seen. Go buy your tickets now.

07.17 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom
07.18 – Pontiac, MI – Crofoot Ballroom
07.19 – Chicago, IL – Pitchfork Festival
07.21 – Madison, WI – Majestic Theatre
07.22 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
07.23 – Fargo, ND – Fargo Theatre
07.26 – Seattle, WA – Capitol Hill Block Party
07.27 – Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
07.29 – San Francisco, CA – Mezzanine
07.30 – Los Angeles, CA – Avalon
08.02 – Tucson, AZ – Rialto Theatre
08.03 – El Paso, TX – Club 101
08.05 – Dallas, TX – Palladium Ballroom
08.06 – Austin, TX – La Zona Rosa
08.08 – Oxford, MS – Proud Larry’s
08.09 – Athens, GA – 40 Watt
08.10 – Charleston, SC – The Pourhouse
08.12 – Carrborro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
08.13 – Norfolk, VA – The Norva

[t-shirts here]

Tagged with .
January 22, 2008

“On Your Sleeve” :: New covers album forthcoming from Jesse Malin

According to the Jesse Malin website: “New record out April 2008 on One Little Indian Records in the UK and Europe, ‘On Your Sleeve.’ Full-length studio album of covers from Elton John to the Hold Steady, 14 songs plus 3 bonus iTunes tracks. Stay tuned for details.”

Iiinteresting. I don’t know what he’s putting on it, but I would guess that this is the Hold Steady cover, and two other tenuous possibilities below:

Jesse Malin at Vintage Vinyl 3/20/07

3 Martini Lunch (Graham Parker cover) – Jesse Malin
Questioningly (Ramones cover) – Jesse Malin

December 10, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Hot on the heels of the date we lost Lennon, and after a long weekend in a hospital waiting room, I am not going to commemorate another morose anniversary today.

Instead let’s celebrate the life of Otis Redding. I’ve re-upped all the great songs on this post from his birthday last year in honor of this fantastic musician, one of my favorites. Today I’d also like to add one addition to the Otis playlist:

Hard To Handle
Otis Redding

So I could save face and be all, “Yeah, I knew that Black Crowes song was totally a cover of Otis.” But that would be a big fat lie. Somehow (?!) I missed this original until a guy recently enthusiastically cited it to me as Otis’ best. Song. Ever. That title is up for some discussion with me (I like Tramp. Or maybe Dreams To Remember). This tune was originally released posthumously in 1968 as a b-side, and soundly trumps the Black Crowes cover I’ve been listening to all these years. You can find it on this recent anthology. Go Otis. We miss ya.

Skinny Love
Bon Iver
While I work on finalizing my year-end favorites list (meaning painfully hacking perfectly good albums left and right in order to narrow it down into something meaningful) I’ve been taking the opportunity to listen to some artists that never actually got the chance to vibrate my eardrums in 2007. Dodge put this album as his #1 for the year, and since Dodge is right about a lot of things (he loves me, for instance) I thought I should spin it. Wow. As you listen to Bon Iver, it starts to scrape something loose inside of you. This is one that you might find yourself listening to over and over again as I have been, even if you are unsure when it first kicks in. Something intangible and gorgeous and raw thrums under the thin skin of this song.

Phantom Planet

While the themesters of the O.C. (sorry but they are never, ever going to slip out of that recognizable tinny piano melody rising to the top of my mind whenever I say their name) work on recording a new album for Spring 2008 with Fueled By Ramen, Phantom Planet is making a limited-edition tour EP available with some new tunes. Aptly titled Geronimo, this song sounds pretty ferocious and relentless, like a fashionably new-wave native jumping off a sandstone bluff onto the waiting trusty steed? Not like I would know firsthand, but I have been re-reading some Cormac McCarthy. So.

Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window? (Dylan cover)
The Hold Steady
This came on the local SF radio station KFOG this weekend when I was out in California, one of the few bright spots of my hellish weekend. Starting slowly from the restrained opening, it cracks open like a carnival into something exuberant and near life-affirming. Something about the way The Hold Steady treat this, it perfectly preserves the just-barely-hanging-together feel of the original, with a huge rush of their own unique spirit. Probably the best song on that (dang good) I’m Not There soundtrack.

Weird me out. I was adding this song into the post, the final paragraph of which has already been written with that Singles nod in the last sentence, which really is the only way to say it. I visited one-man-band Sean Jackson‘s MySpace and I see that his profile quote is, “Other than that, he was ably backed by Stone and Jeff.” And I love him. So I’m just gonna leave it at that; you may be familiar with how much I love that movie and quote it at inopportune times. This guy definitely has tones of the Foo Fighters (although not as good as their new album, more from me on that later perhaps) and he namechecks influences like Westerberg and Malkmus. So okay, we’ll listen. Album is called For You.

* * * * *
And PS – I got a kick out of this; I somehow made the Business section of the Tulsa World newspaper.

The final sentences read, “As for me, a few days later — before the technician could arrive — the light on my modem mysteriously came on again. With all apologies to my wife, I went straight to Heather. Honey, it had been too long.” I am loved in Belgium, and apparently Tulsa! Thanks John.

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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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