September 5, 2008

Free Summer album from Jake Troth :: “Blind Contours”

I am a big fan of the humble melodies of Jake Troth, formerly of the San Fran Bay Area, now relocated to Savannah for school. While he studies design and other fluidly creative mediums, he’s still producing music non-stop, because it makes him happy. That’s a very good reason. It makes me happy too, also because he wants to give away his latest (very fine) album through Fuel/Friends.

Now just because it’s free, please don’t think that means “not good enough to sell.” That is not the case. I do love Jake’s work, and I think he easily has the talent to hang in the big leagues. But there is also a fresh and unassuming quality to this eminently listenable album. “For The Best” reprises some of that virginal ’50s high-school-dance feeling that I so loved on his earlier tunes, while cuts like the supershort “Hell Fire” echo the earliest rawness of My Morning Jacket (circa Tennessee Fire).

Here are some thoughts on Blind Contours, from Jake:

The album is a reaction to various conversations about God and religion with those in my life. Everywhere I’ve been in the last year, these conversations pop up out of nowhere and I felt like they were influencing so many thoughts that I had to write songs to release the emotion I had about it all.

I really fell in love with simplicity and the idea of creating something I can listen to over and over again. I had a ton of emails from people who liked the songs I spent the least amount of time writing, so I went about the entire record like that. I would stay up late watching Conan or Entourage re-runs, eat something, write a song, record it, go back to it in the morning and touch it up, and repeat.

I have far too many ideas for different mediums in my life to concentrate on being a rockstar or the next (insert name of popular singer-songwriter). At school I found that writing songs makes me happy, and hopefully makes others feel the same.”


All The Weight of God
Hell Fire
Cobra-Headed Black Farm
For The Best
Foreign Speak
Firefly Soldier
Move With Me
Prove It
Right Direction


NOTE: He’s still doing that thing through his Jacob Rogers Clothing line where you order one of his hip designs and it includes an original EP of music as well. Can’t complain there.

Tagged with .
January 7, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

Today is slushy and grey and cold, and twenty degrees or so. In four days I will be on Kauai and I just keep telling myself that when the wind smacks me in the face and takes my breath away (and not in a Top Gun soundtrack kind of way). I am so very tired of having cold hands all the time.

Here are two links worth a click today:
–I heart Nick Hornby and the way he writes about music, this is a documented fact. Check his list of favorite songs from 2007. I hope he writes another Songbook someday.

–Stereogum posted this Celine Dion video last week, and good heavens I think she’s IN-sane, but I laughed relentlessly. Amazing indeed.

Music for the frosty week:

Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution
The Black Crowes

Here’s our first listen to the sounds of the brand new Black Crowes album Warpaint (March 4, Silver Arrow Records). You got your down-home noodling on the steel guitar, the emotive wails of Chris Robinson and some stylistically-appropriate Civil War lyrics about daughters of an unnamed revolution. It just feels good, what with them singing about how we can join the jubilee, running for the gates of the city. And when he sings about coming ’round midnight to her back door, some part of me just really doesn’t think he’s singing about her porch. The Black Crowes will be playing their full new album in seven lucky cities this March, tour dates just announced for those.

Honey Come Home
Murder Mystery

This quartet isn’t sinister as they sound; Murder Mystery is a scruffy group of indie kids out of NYC whose debut album Are You Ready For The Heartache Cause Here It Comes was produced by JP Bowersock (Ryan Adams, The Strokes). With the pleasing jangle and reverb of surf guitar and Buddy Holly, with more than a Stroke of Casablancas’ croon and edge, this song tells the story of an unsure young man who puts his hands on the small of her back, because “you told me you like that” (but he sure doesn’t sound like he ever would have thought to do it himself). Simultaneously evoking school dances and Lower East Side bars, this album charmed me — plus they have a girl drummer so come on, I’m in.

Jake Troth
First the fabulous Mr. Troth made me kinda wish my name was “Caroline,” and now I am thinking maybe Aubrey would be a nice name so that I could claim this song as my own. No such luck. This is a new demo from Jake Troth, I love the way the bluesy opening notes take their time blossoming, hanging sweet in anticipation. And is it just me or do you want to sing the opening lines to Augie March’s “One Crowded Hour” when this cues up? Different songs, but both superb. Oh, and you hipster fashionista, here’s one musician who can also deck you out in finery since he’s studying that business – check out, a collaborative clothing line project that he contributes the artwork to, and each item ordered comes with a free EP of original music.


Their MySpace profile lists Foals as “snotty art school dropouts hungry for the dollar,” and okay, sure I can cop that. I mean, they’re barely 20 and signed to Sub Pop, and we love art school dropouts from Oxford here. The music coming from this dance-punk 5-piece is aloof and cool, but with with a underlying flashes of multilayered musical originality. There are touches of Talking Heads and Devo, as well as more modern nods like Franz Ferdinand. This song is all herky-jerky with an apocalyptic breakdown halfway through, and splashes of a bright pigment accent the rhythmic chaos. I also like how relentless the tune “Hummer” is, listen over on their MySpace. Their full length album Antidotes is due in Spring 2008.

You Cross My Path
The Charlatans

Does anyone really confuse these guys with The Charlatans from the ’60s? Calling them The Charlatans UK seems superfluous to me, the same way my wonderful beloved nubbin of an NYC friend Jenn always says “Airfrenchband” as if it was one breathless word, instead of just Air. ANYWAYS. These Charlatans are winding up their second decade of making music as kings of their own Britpop/alternative fifedom. Managed by Oasis guru/Creation Records head Alan McGee, they’ve decided to digitally give away their first single from their upcoming 2008 album. Thom says everyone is doing it, and when he speaks, people follow. Good.

November 9, 2007

“Hey girl, does your mom sell insurance? ‘Cos I wanna have sex with you” (*kiss*)

In addition to humorously and gently mocking multi-instrumental indie rock spectacles (“Well, the band that’s playing tonight has three triangle players“), this short film will also help you bring your A-Game to whatever activities this weekend has in store for you.

Jake Troth (a musician we love ’round these parts) helped produce and stars in this 3-minute film for the Apple Insomnia Film Festival. It’s an innovative student competition where teams are given a list of elements to include in their film (props, dialogue, setting, etc) and they have just 24 hours to write, cast, shoot, edit, score, and upload their creation. Watch as Jake tries to muster up the stuff to pick up on a rocker chick out on the Georgia pier, then is magically transported to a desert, where he gets help from a very special mystical friend . . . his A-Game.


That made me laugh. I don’t recommend using those pick-up lines — although she might feel so bad for you, you’d win sympathy points.

Today is the last day to vote for this short film in the competition.
DO it.

Tagged with , .
August 27, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

“Mom, I find it interesting that you refer to the Weekly World News as . . . ‘The Paper.’ The paper contains facts.”

(Scottish accent) “This paper contains facts. And this paper has the eighth highest circulation in the whole wide world. Right? Plenty of facts. ‘Pregnant man gives birth.’ That’s a fact.”

The Weekly World News published its swansong final issue today, and of course when I read about it this morning, I fondly thought of one of my favorite Nineties movies — the San Francisco-filmed, Mike Myers acted, boppy-indie-rock soundtracked, So I Married An Axe Murderer. If you’ve seen it, you likely remember that quote above between Charlie McKenzie and his momma.

With the WWN gone, where will I turn now for my checkout line perusal needs? I guess it’s all news of Lohan and Britney for me from here on out. I kind of prefer stories of alien babies and massive political/religious conspiracies. Bah.

Here’s your recommended weekly musical allowance:

Toad The Wet Sprocket
Since we’re talking about So I Married An Axe Murderer, here’s my vote for the best dang song off that soundtrack. Maybe you are singing, “There sheeeeee goes…” in your head right now (The underrated La’s), or maybe “One two princes kneel before you – that’s what I said now” (the not-underrated Spin Doctors). But this Toad The Wet Sprocket tune from the soundtrack remains a superb Toad b-side, possibly the best track off this album and also off the In Light Syrup rarities compilation. “Brother” always makes me feel really happy inside, from that ebullient opening melody through the heartfelt lyrics of brotherly love. A great one – put it on your next mixtape.

Pass The Buck

The new Stereophonics album Pull The Pin is an absolute supernova. I’ve been listening to the forthcoming album from these Welsh rockers all weekend and I woke up with this particular track in my head. Whenever that happens — a song rising unbidden to my mental jukebox player first thing in the morning — that means it’s gotten inside me and I need to write something about it. This is a cocky, flippant, unyielding tune that just makes you feel like the coolest person in the room, with backing vocals on the verses that invoke a surprising bit of catchy bubblegum goodness. Maybe I’m the only one who hears this, but the chorus of this track reminds me a bit of Aerosmith’s “Dude (Looks Like A Lady).” They’re not the same, but they enjoy standing next to each other.

Parker Mosli
I was catching up with Fuel-favorite Bay Area musician Jake Troth, and was really pleased by the danceable melodies and late-night beats of his new side project, Parker Mosli. This project is a collaboration between Jake (who’s also been busy writing a melody featured on the new album of pals Rogue Wave) and fellow relocated Charlotte, NC native Joshua Panda. Recommended for fans of !!! and Mark Ronson, but with some indulgent hand-clappy goodness – love it. They’ve got some more tunes on their MySpace and an EP available.

100 Days 100 Nights
Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings
Remember my rant on Dreamgirls a few weeks ago? This song is exactly what I would have loved to see in that film, except this tune is a modern day confection that just sounds like it was made in the ’50s. Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings (what a fun band name) hit the Brooklyn music scene in 2002 with their own brand of swinging retro funk and soul, sounding like no one else right now. They’re also the backing band on Amy Winehouse‘s Back to Black album and (stalled) tour. Retro is so hot right now. Their latest full length album, 100 Days, 100 Nights, will be out October 2nd on Daptone Records, and is worth buying just for the subtle fun of that cover alone.

Collective Soul
My sister is moaning in agony right now that I am writing about Collective Soul. We kind of had an unspoken pact growing up in the “Shine” era that if either of us ever liked Collective Soul, then the other person should immediately kill us. Sorry, but that song got pretty dang annoying in the summer of 1994. I’ve been out of the loop on the rest of their output, so I could be very, very wrong — because I will freely admit that I find this song absolutely irresistible. I am looking forward to hearing the rest of their new album Afterwords, out tomorrow on El Records and, somehow, through Target.

April 30, 2007

Two “new” ones from Ray LaMontagne, and Jake Troth EP news

Hey kids, I am working on the Monday Music Roundup, but til then, here’s some good stuff:

I reupped that new Ray LaMontagne song from the Beacon in December. Thanks to reader Eric, who was there, here is a better version than what I posted before.

You Are The Best Thing That’s Ever Happened To Me – Ray LaMontagne

And while I’m at it, here’s a fresh mp3 I ripped from his Austin City Limits performance of “Heaven Is A Honky Tonk,” which he wrote about his personal heroes like Johnny Cash and Townes Van Zandt:

Heaven Is A Honky Tonk – Ray LaMontagne

This version above is a more sedate, refined rendition appropriate for the classiness of the ACL setting. I prefer the raucous, soul-reviving live version from January 2005, but the audio quality on that is not as clear and warm, so this makes for some good listening.
Also, an update on Jake Troth, the musician I raved about recently: his EP The Ups and Downs of Being at the Bottom is just now completed — written, recorded, screen printed, and copied by Jake himself. They’re available for a mere $10 by emailing Jake or contacting him through MySpace. Props to Bruce for also picking up on this and giving Jake’s music some well-deserved love.
April 20, 2007

The impressive potential of Jake Troth

One of my trusted musical savant pals recommended I take a listen to this San Francisco Bay Area artist he recently saw at an open mic. After taking a few spins, I have fallen for his music too, in a big way. It’s got tones of My Morning Jacket vocals, resonant piano chords, and raw doo-wop harmonizing of the 1950s. All this from a kid of nineteen, recorded at home.

Jake Troth is a North Carolina native, currently passing time in the Bay Area before heading out here to Colorado for college. The Ups and Downs of Being At The Bottom is his first EP, and he’s putting the final touches on it for a spring/summer release. My friend pointed out the semblance to some of the simpler tunes of Coldplay, but noted that “they don’t sound like that anymore so it’s good someone is filling the shoes.” Personally, I find this stuff more compelling than Chris Martin and Co. in its unassuming purity, although I hear the similarities too.

Gram LeBron of Rogue Wave also helps out with two songs on this EP — the title track (stream on MySpace), and a lovely tune about songwriting and slick grey streets called “Oakland On A Rainy Day”. I would posit that there are far too few songs about San Francisco’s lesser known cousin to the East, and Jake’s tune is a killer offering.

Check out these tracks like whoa:

Hold You Tight – Jake Troth
The best Under The Sea school-dance music from the ’50s sockhop that I never went to. I love how the acapella harmonies are raw and echoey, not glossy, the lyrics endearing. This is one of my favorite songs I’ve heard in the last few months. Hot dang it’s good.

Caroline – Jake Troth
A small, perfect, piano tune about driving out to California, leaving Caroline far behind — and I just don’t want to stop listening to it.
It ends, I restart it.

Make your ears thrilled and head over to his MySpace to check out more of his work (I love all three songs he currently has up, definitely download “Not Enough”). The EP The Ups and Downs of Being at the Bottom is now completed, written, recorded, screen printed, and copied by Jake himself. They’re available for a mere $10 by emailing Jake or contacting him through MySpace. I hope Jake keeps doing what he is doing, ‘cos this is good stuff with loads of talent and potential.

Tagged with .
Subscribe to this tasty feed.
I tweet things. It's amazing.

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.

View all Interviews → View all Shows I've Seen →