September 1, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

Holy crap, it’s already September! I ushered out the unofficial end of summer/Labor Day Weekend with a camping trip that found me sleeping in a real, live, badass teepee after being eaten alive by mosquitoes while making several s’mores.

AND I got five bugbites on my face. That’s just hot any way you look at it.

I’ve also been developing Space Bar Wrist (new ailment) while trying fruitlessly to crack the leader board on the new awesomely ’80s Monolith shoot-em-up video game where you can win all-access passes to the fest (Sept 13-14). And I think the scorer is broken because I’m not that bad.

Tunes for the week!

Kiss Me Again
Jessica Lea Mayfield

Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers says that 18-year old Ohio native Jessica Lea Mayfield is “the most exciting new artist in the scene today,” her debut album With Blasphemy, So Heartfelt was produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys (she sang backup on Attack & Release), and the album also features vocals from two members of Dr. Dog. These are all more than enough recommendation for me to listen to her, and I love what I hear. Similar to the fabulous Samantha Crain, Mayfield has a dusty, echoey old-time sound to her mournful music that gets under your skin. She’s playing a slew of upcoming shows with the aforementioned fan bands, as well as My Morning Jacket, and her album is out Sept 16th on Polymer Sounds.

Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare
Matt and Kim
Yeah! Brooklyn duo Matt and Kim turned in one of the single most enthusiastic performances that I saw at Monolith last year, a cataclysmic explosion of spirited yelling and jubilant rhythm. This song is a shiny new free download from their upcoming release Grand (RCRDLBL), and opens with such a sunny simplicity that it could be one of those homemade ditties you would compose on your new Casio keyboard on Christmas morning, using the program function and your siblings’ handclaps for backup percussion. I love it.

Kicking Bird

There is an unrelenting wilderness, a near Western riot in this song from David Eugene Edwards, the Colorado solo artist behind Wovenhand. Various folks have tried to nail down the sound of this former 16 Horsepower frontman with analogies like, ‘Bauhaus meets Billy Graham’ or ‘Nick Cave and Johnny Cash in a shootout in Deadwood.’ It conjures up a whole other world on the edge of some sort of Southern friend apocalypse. Ten Stones is out next week on the Sounds Familyre label, and the current tour hits Denver on October 25th (and looks something like this).

Blitzen Trapper
So, do you remember that scene at the very end of Dazed & Confused where freshman Mitch lays back on his bed with the headphones on, after that beautiful and crazy night, and a huge smile spreads across his face while the record player spins? In that moment he’s listening to “Summer Breeze” by Seals & Croft but if they were looking for alternate substitutions that captured that same feeling, allow me to recommend this new song from Portland’s Blitzen Trapper. Yes, the album cover makes it looks like an especially woodsy death metal band, but just take a listen to this goodness — with those ear-catching lyrics about mothers shouting through the fog, the listening for the angels, and curling up underneath a dogwood tree. BT hits Monolith Sept 13th. Hurrah!

No One Does It Like You
Department of Eagles

The first thing we should establish is that Department of Eagles is not a particularly scintillating division of your local rangers outpost, but actually a side project band of Daniel Rossen of the Brooklyn band Grizzly Bear. He must be a big fan of native wildlife, what with the bears, the eagles. Either that or pro football. In any case — this song is all delightful retro-psychedelic fuzz with pieces that alternately recall the Beach Boys and tunes like the 1966 hit “Little Red Riding Hood.” Plus, the b-side to this first official single is a cover of a JoJo song, so really — come on. In Ear Park is out October 7th on 4AD.

September 17, 2007

Monday Music Roundup, Monolith edition

Attending a music festival could be my favorite way to spend a weekend. But you always end up seeing fewer shows than you thought, especially when there are five geographically disparate stages. Next time I go to a festival, I am going to hire me a scheduling assistant to do nothing but look at the clock and tell me when to move it along, please, to the next show. And then physically force me to do it (“Get up, Heather. Walk now.”).

So I didn’t see all the bands I wanted to, but what I saw was pretty rad. Festivals are like big appetizer samplers where you really just get your appetite whetted to know who you oughta see when they come back through to the small clubs near you. This week’s roundup is five finger-lickin’ bands from Monolith that were more or less new to me, and perked up my ears.

Sad, Sad City
Ghostland Observatory
I missed almost all of Ghostland Observatory‘s set on the main stage early on the first day because my interview with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club went so well that we just kept talking and lost track of real time. I emerged from the cavernous maze of backstage hallways to see an imposing DJ dude in a spangly blue cape with a huge star on the back, a frantic lead singer, and bunches of indie rock kids wildly flailing in time to the beat in the broad daylight. It was awesome. I will absolutely make time to see these guys when they come back, because the song and a half that I got to see only left me wanting more of this stuff. Ghostland Observatory is from Austin, TX and their newest album is called Paparazzi Lightning (2006, Trashy Moped).

Kid On My Shoulders
White Rabbits
We saw these guys on Saturday afternoon on the indoor stage with about 12,482 people all crammed into a very small space. It was hot and I couldn’t get any pictures worth crap. But I loved the sounds emanating from the White Rabbits. The band had a disproprotionately high number of short guys wearing dapper suits in it, and I thought that it was fronted by Fred Savage at first, which was awesome. This song boasts a ferocious thrumming piano line that I miss each time it stops, and ska-pop harmonies that blend with a welcome aggressiveness. I like it! Fort Nightly is out now on Say Hey Records.

Duck & Cover
The Hot IQs

I am all in favor of girl drummers (being an aspiring one myself), and I was pleased to see a few this weekend. Elaine A of the Hot IQs kept a fierce beat, and I loved her style. She played with panache and confidence, giving backbone to the new-wave/Devo/danceable sounds of her band. Not only is this Denver band hot, they are also smart, and took home the Best Indie Pop Band award from our local alt-weekly The Westword. This tune is off their Dangling Modifier EP (that title just wants someone to make a joke about it. Yeah, I’ll dangle your modifier. What?). To hear more, check out their recent feature on with some exclusive in-studio performances.

Yea Yeah
Matt & Kim

Yeah, so speaking of girl drummers, Kim from NYC duo Matt & Kim is insane. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a pair perform with as much energy as they did Saturday afternoon. They were, like, vibrating with sheer unbounded elation, just like that picture above. I was kind of expecting fey poppiness like Mates of State, but Matt stormed the stage like an even-more-enthusiastic-for-life Ben Folds, accompanied by a wide-mouthed-in-excitement, about to fall off her drum stool whirlwind of Kim. This tune is off their self-titled album (IHEARTCOMIX Records), and they pack a lot of punch for just two people. Sebastian from Merry Swankster was standing a few rows in front of me for the show and took a tiny video clip so you can see a bird’s eye view of the stage.

The Start of It
If the Hot IQs are the best indie pop band, then The Westword anointed Meese the best pop band in Denver. Go figure the difference. Both are good. While I speculated that perhaps their name referred to more than one mouse, it’s actually the last name of the two brother-member-founders Patrick & Nathan in the band. To borrow a lyric from the song, these “kids of the frozen Front Range” surprised me with a much poppier sound than I had remembered – keyboard-driven indie rock. This particular song sounds like something lost from the Third Eye Blind files, and is listed on their MySpace as “Winter 2007 Recordings.” Solid.

[the New Belgium second stage with Meese playing]

For each artist I saw and enjoyed (see more pics; other reviews coming), there were at least three that I missed. Didn’t see Rocky Votolato, Born In The Flood, Monster Maker, Bob Log III, Cat-A-Tac, Kid Sister, YACHT, Broken West, Das EFX . . . so many more. I guess there’s always next year to try again (happily).

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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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