May 14, 2009

The campaign to save Paste

Most months, the only music magazine I read cover to cover is Paste.

I always walk away from devouring each issue with a mind that feels sharpened and engaged by all kinds of new music and interesting stories I want to investigate further. I believe that Paste is in it for the right reasons, and are trying to do nothing more than write about music (and books and movies and more) that they love. Same thing I do, essentially, except they’ve chosen the far more expensive “paper magazine” method of distribution, and have run smack into some hard times.

Here’s their letter, they’re asking for you to chip in now to help save the magazine, and in return they’re opening their vaults to a bunch of great rare tracks, including this one from Matt Nathanson (below), and folks like The Avett Brothers, Thao, Jamie Lidell, Emmylou Harris, Josh Ritter, Rosie Thomas, The Low Anthem, Matthew Caws….it just goes on and on (and on).

AND if you’re feeling especially feisty and wealthy, and donate $350, you get a subscription for life. Considering inflation (and you not dying before you can get the full value of the subscription), that’s a pretty solid investment.

Dear Paste readers,

We write this letter with great appreciation for all you’ve done for Paste, as well as sorrow that we need to come to you and ask for further support. The economy has taken its toll on Paste, and we need your help to continue.

As the global recession has continued, many of you have written us (especially as ad pages shrunk) to say, “If you ever need help, let us know.” That day has come.

…As a completely independent company, Paste has struggled for the past nine months as advertisers have decided to wait out the recession. As most of you realize, magazines are heavily subsidized by advertising. Industry experts estimate that an average subscription for a monthly publication would cost $60-$80 per year without advertising support. But last month was brutal…

We’ll make it through this short-term economic crisis—but it’s only with your help. Our fate is (and has been and always will be) in your hands. Big-time investors are not “in the game” right now—but readers can rise up and “invest” in Paste’s future. Will you be a part?

It doesn’t take much. Every little bit helps and you can be a part of continuing our efforts to help you find signs of life in music, film and culture. Know that every dollar you give goes into keeping Paste alive and, ultimately, making it even better.

With our sincerest thanks,

Josh, Tim and Nick for the entire Paste family

I am confident they will be successful. I just donated some money — jet on over and do the same, kid.

STREAM: Still (acoustic) – Matt Nathanson

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A note about that song: I’ve always thought this was one of the most powerful and simple songs on Matt‘s current album, and something about this even-more-stripped version just pierces….

i remember hearts that beat
i remember you and me tangled in hotel sheets
you wore me out
you wore me out
i remember honey lips and words so true
i remember nonstop earthquake dreams of you
coming on a fast like good dreams do…

February 10, 2009

New free Damnwells album! (somewhere between breaking and broke there’s a song to sing)


I fell hard for The Damnwells with their 2006 album Air Stereo, and I’ve been tiding myself over during the wait for a new album with little fantastic demos like “Bastard of Midnight” and alternate acoustic versions of their songs I love. Dezen’s voice has an air of hardy romanticism to it, brilliantly-colored exactly like this Turner painting. It slides and rasps to carry the literate lyrics and musical stories he constructs.

The Damnwells have shifted in formation and members, while lead Damnwell Alex Dezen has moved to Iowa to teach and study fiction and creative writing. But he hasn’t stopped writing songs.  And starting today, they are releasing their newest album One Last Century for free via Paste Magazine. There’s a full-band treatment of “Bastards of Midnight,” surprising bluesy gospel twists on cuts like “Jesus Could Be Right,” and songs that well up with a sadness like “Say.”

I’ve talked with Alex about this new album, and the beautifully freeing feeling they’ve discovered in giving their music away. He wrote a statement about it:

I suppose the hardest thing to explain to people is why I’m giving this record away. “You’re just going to give it away?” seems antithetical to the human brain. “Is this just a bunch of b-sides or something? Some ‘give away’ material you don’t mind releasing into the ether?” No. Quite the contrary. I have never worked so hard or put so much of myself into a collection of recorded songs. It is for just this reason that I want to give it away.

To me it makes perfect sense. I just want people to hear this music, and I don’t want them to have to enter into some kind of contractual agreement with a third party to do so. Download the record, copy it and give it to your friends, lovers, and enemies. Whatever. It’s so hard these days just to get the actual music into people’s houses and cars, let alone their ears. Besides, I know everyone’s broke, maybe I can supply the soundtrack.

So, I just want to give this music away because I want people to hear it. I should have done this years ago. I’m starting over.

Alex Dezen

DOWNLOAD: One Last Century

Everything – The Damnwells

Somewhere between darkness and wonder is every dream
Somewhere between breaking and broke, there’s a song to sing…

January 29, 2009

Avett Brothers singing on a gondola

This made me yelp out loud with delight when the singing started:

Scott Avett has such a strong, gorgeous, spine-tingling voice by himself, and it gets even better when Seth joins in on the jubilant harmonies here on “St. Joseph’s,” from their Second Gleam EP. I’m in awe of the feist and kick injected into this version of a normally sedate and restrained song. Via Paste Magazine — what a moment. I’d give a nickel or ten thousand to be on that gondola.

More live Avett Brothers videos here (super quality, from November in North Carolina), and catch them on tour in the coming months:

4/22 Raleigh, NC – Time Warner Pavilion
4/24 Charlotte, NC – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
4/26 New Orleans, LA – New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
4/28 & 29 Alpharetta, GA – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
5/01 The Woodlands, TX – The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
5/02 Dallas, TX – Superpages Center
5/05 Albuquerque, NM – Journal Pavilion
5/06 Phoenix, AZ – Cricket Wireless Pavilion
5/22 & 23 Portland, OR – McMenamin’s Crystal Ballroom

June 30, 2008

Gnarls Barkley cover Violent Femmes in Denver

Under the July sunshine, the SoCo Music Experience took over an open-air lot outside Coors Field in Denver on Saturday. The free festival drew thousands of Denverites for sunshine, interactive games, booths, and of course, the free music…

Read my full review here, in Paste Magazine online.

Gone Daddy Gone (Violent Femmes cover) – Gnarls Barkley, and then the Violent Femmes return the favor; stream it here.

Julio’s great festival pics are here, and my rather decent by comparison pics are here. Oh, how I need a fancy camera with a zooooom lens.

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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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