July 25, 2009

The thoughts in my head have got me crawling back to bed

ums-friday-004 Last night San Francisco’s Ryan Auffenberg played to a packed Michelangelo’s Cafe for the Underground Music Showcase. Channeling sweet strong pop melodies, Ryan led all of us to be his brilliant backup singers.

And yes, in the beginning when he asks who wants to sing and you hear a female immediately pipe in, yeah, that would be me. I am a sucker for a good singalong.

Sellout (live at the UMS) – Ryan Auffenberg

Here are a few other images from my day yesterday that went until 4am this morning. I’m recuperating in a dark room right now, preparing to do it all again this afternoon.

ums-friday-0621Kate Grisgby of The Hollyfelds @ The Skylark


DJ John Hendrickson @ Sputnik


Chris Adolf of Bad Weather California @ The Irish Rover


The Overcasters @ 3 Kings Tavern

ums-friday-081Houses @ The Hi-Dive

[audio via The Flat Response – thanks!]

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October 1, 2008

Ryan Auffenberg on primetime TV tonight

Well his song, not actually him, despite what my totally convincing photoshopping would have you believe.

Fuel/Friends favorite Ryan Auffenberg from San Francisco has a song featured tonight on the season premiere of Private Practice on ABC (9/8c). I know that this is a great melancholy tune of his; I know nothing about the show except that it sounds dramatic and possibly involves either doctors or lawyers.

Dizzy Spells – Ryan Auffenberg
[from the 2008 album Marigolds]

[original Ryan portrait by Peter Ellenby]

June 24, 2008

Ryan Auffenberg and the burnished glimmer of Marigolds

There’s a desolate ache to the brand of dusty Americana that Ryan Auffenberg creates from his outpost in the busy heart of San Francisco. As the SF Weekly wrote, “sweet, rough, singer-songwriter kids like Ryan Auffenberg have a powerful animating force — they like to fuck around with folk, and they’ve got love songs to sing.”

I called Ryan an artist to watch a few years ago after first hearing the gorgeously melancholy harmonies of “Under All The Bright Lights” and seeing him perform at Noise Pop 2007. Now signed to independent San Francisco label Evangeline Records (home of Chuck Prophet), Ryan is releasing his newest album Marigolds today. It was produced and mixed by former American Music Clubber Tim Mooney, and mastered by Matt Pence of Centro-matic.

There’s a bittersweet molasses smoothness to Ryan’s voice as it crests and burrows through his songs with a streak of the romantic west gleaming through. Whether plumbing the cold depths of loneliness in songs like “Deep Water” or driving a highway with the windows down amidst the bright Midwest jangle on the closing track “Alright, Okay,” he urges us all to have some faith.

Alright, Okay – Ryan Auffenberg

Lay off the novocaine
’cause you’ve been asleep for days

it hurts but it’ll go away

Almost the first of May
the San Francisco Bay’s
all swollen up from last night’s rain

So if you just come down
we’ll get out of town

take a breath and drive all day . . .

Ryan took a few minutes to answer some questions for Fuel/Friends, since this is one artist whom I tend to get a lot of questions about, and who’s been flying under the radar lately.

Q: You’re from the Midwest but live in San Francisco. How does location and the mood of the city affect your songwriting, in contrast with the twang of your roots?

A: Some of the initial press about the album has played up my Midwestern “country” roots, which I think my St. Louis friends and family find amusing. While I never really considered St. Louis to be much of an epicenter for roots or “country” music, I did grow up 20 minutes away from Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar’s hometown, so I guess there is a bit of that scene in my lineage. I remember listening to Uncle Tupelo when I was 11 or 12 years old and they were just a local band. They had a poster that said something like “Fourth best country band in St. Louis!”

While St. Louis does have a pretty auspicious musical heritage, especially in regards to blues and early rock ‘n’ roll, I would say that I identify much more with San Francisco as a place that has shaped my sensibilities as an artist. Cultural influences aside, I think my music is definitely affected by the atmosphere and climate of San Francisco. I live in a particularly foggy neighborhood, which I know has had a big effect on the mood of music I often write.

If you sit down to play some music and it’s foggy outside, that’s going to have an effect on what type of music you play. “Missouri in the Morning” is actually a song I wrote on a particularly foggy day when I was missing home and the blazing heat of the summer time. There’s something really sensual about that kind of weather. I miss that out here.

What can you tell me about your songwriting process on Marigolds?

My songs usually seem to start out with chords and a melody. Once some sort of melody starts to take shape, I’ll sing a bit of free-form nonsense along with the melody until an image pops out that I feel like I can run with. Once I’ve got those images then I’ll start trying to weave some sort of narrative through lines into the song, and piece it all together.

What I find really fascinating about this process is that when I’m nearing completion of a song and take a step back, I often find that what I’d thought was simply some sort of free-association exercise has really turned into a means of expressing emotions or ideas that had been percolating for a while, but I hadn’t quite figured out how to articulate them. Many of what I feel to be my most emotionally honest songs have come out of this process. Also, the writing always happens at different rates of speed. For instance, I wrote “Deep Water” and “Under All the Bright Lights” in about a half hour each respectively, whereas the song “Marigolds” took me six months to finish.

After your self-released first album Climb, your second album Golden Gate Park was never released and seems shelved for the time being. That seems to me to be a bit like the second part in a trilogy being missing. Any plans to revisit the songs on that album?

I would eventually like to release Golden Gate Park in its originally-intended album form. After recording it, I was looking for a label to help put some resources behind the release. So in the interim period, I took four of the songs off of the album, released them as The Bright Lights EP and held off on putting out the rest of that material.

When I was eventually approached by Evangeline, their original intention in making an album with me was to go back in a re-record those songs with a slightly different production approach. However, by that point in time I had already written a new album and expressed to them that I’d much rather make a new album than go back and revisit material I’d emotionally and creatively moved on from. I sent them demos for the songs on Marigolds and they signed off on the idea of making an album of all new material.

I am proud of Golden Gate Park though, and I would eventually like all of those songs to see the light of day, but for now it’s currently locked in the vault (“the vault” being my bedroom closet).

You’ve played shows with quite a variety of musicians, from Mark Kozelek to Laura Veirs to the Watson Twins. What other music has been influencing or astounding you lately?

I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to Neil Young. Tim Mooney (Marigolds producer) and I, aside from being musicians, are also pretty big music fans and would spend a lot of time in the studio just talking about records we loved. After the Goldrush was a recurring topic of conversation. We’ve actually been tooling around with a cover of “Tell Me Why” and may include that as a bonus track in some form or another sometime.

As far as new stuff, I’ve been enjoying the Bon Iver album a good bit lately. Flume, Skinny Love and Re: Stacks are all really beautiful tunes. Sun Kil Moon‘s “Lost Verses” off the new April album is the first song in a long time to give me that “lump in your throat” feeling.

Other newer stuff: Spoon‘s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is a badass album. Britt Daniel crafts these incredibly lean and mean pop songs, and then they’ll do these wild production things like making one tune sound like The Supremes, which seems like a pretty unique choice for a rock band to be making these days. Another thing about Britt that I love is his solo-ing style. Often times during solos, he intentionally plays all these wrong chords or notes and creates this really messy, dissonant, incredible sounding noise.

There’s a moment at the end of “Interstate” (on Marigolds) that’s sort of a mini-musical nod to Britt. I was overdubbing piano on the song and in the outro I just started banging on the piano, playing wrong notes while Tim messed with that fucked-up signal generator noise. Good fun indeed.


Auffenberg’s record release party is tonight at San Francisco’s Cafe Du Nord. Head on out to support this talented artist; Willow Willow and Robert Francis open. Ryan also heads out on the road in July & August.

Marigolds is available today.

[portrait of Ryan credit Peter Ellenby]

November 19, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Ah, MySpace, why do you sucketh my time so?

Bleary eyed, I am emerging from a quickly-passed hour on MySpace to begin writing this post on Sunday night; I’ve been looking up people I went to high school with because my 10-year HS reunion is this Friday out in Campbell, California. Yes, our class (1997) was a little lazy and we didn’t get anything organized until now, about 5 months after the actual anniversary date of the blessed graduation day. We all vowed to K.I.T. and never change and stay sweet (S.W.A.K. of course); I am pleased to report that we have all, in fact, changed.

Looking at people’s profiles, sometimes it’s shocking to stare at a face and then suddenly like one of those 3-D pictures where the image jumps out at you, go “Oh my gosh! That’s ____!” All these far-flung jobs, babies, spouses, organizations, not to mention new haircolors, different sizes now, better fashion sense — all these things should make Friday night a total mind trip. I am looking forward to it.
Well, that and the karaoke.

I feel like I should go make a 1997 high-school memories playlist, but won’t subject you to it. New tunes:

Arm Twister
The Tripwires

Like a rough-edged Beatles track lost in the vaults, or something from a Sunday drive with Chuck Berry (who they also cover on their album) this pleasantly powerpopped-out track from Seattle’s The Tripwires features a lot of connections to bands we love ’round these parts. Members of the Minus 5, The Young Fresh Fellows, Screaming Trees and REM cooperate here to make some mightily pleasing sounds. Count me a fan of the crunchy guitar, the layers of harmonies, and the pitch-perfect ’60s rock sensibilities. Makes You Look Around is their current album, just out last week on Portland’s Paisley Pop label.

Like A Vibration
The Whigs
Stream the new plugged-in album version: Windows [Lo] [Hi]
Quicktime [
Lo] [Hi]
or if you need an mp3
Like A Vibration (live on MOKB)
Oooh, these guys rock. I wrote about The Whigs last year with their fantastic song “Technology”, when they were a wee unsigned fledgling band. Now they’ve gone and hooked up with ATO and are prepping to release their first album with them, Mission Control, due January 22. Definitely stream the album version of this song — kinda like a Replacements-meets-Pavement yowly-howly vibe here, all fuzz and aggression, but with a strong melody. In order to stretch and include them in the mp3 roundup, I got the acoustic live version above too from Dodge’s awesome in-studio session with The Whigs earlier this year. The Whigs will be heading out on tour with Johnathan Rice and The Redwalls in the next few weeks.

We Don’t Talk Like We Used To
Elliot Randall

This dude opened for Roger Clyne at the formidably barn-like Slim’s this last weekend in San Francisco, and he’s also on the new KFOG Local Scene CD along with Fuel-favorite Ryan Auffenberg
[KFOG’s podcast on Elliot here]. My friend Brad Kava at the Mercury News said of Randall’s 2007 album Take The Fall that it “flies below the radar but could take off at any minute… A little bit country, a little bit Elliott Smith.” This cut is a slowburn little gem of bittersweet harmonies that reminds me of Ryan Adam’s duet tunes with Norah Jones like “Dear John.” In fact, whoever’s doing backing vocals here sounds a lot like her. Lovely and sad, tear in your beer stuff. Note: Elliot is definitely not the same grizzled guy with a similar name from Steely Dan; according to this Elliot’s MySpace, we share a birthday three years apart — he just turned a mere 25 on August 19. Sounds like he’s lived more than just those years, don’t it?

Wave of Mutilation (Pixies cover)
Joy Zipper

There’s a fantastic new Pixies covers jamboree out on the very cool, always vinyl-loving American Laundromat Records. These are the same folks that brought us the 7″ vinyl series and the High School Reunion soundtrack covers album. This new covers album Dig For Fire: A Tribute To The Pixies features artists well-known and otherwise, but the variety just serves to highlight how well the original songs were constructed. This version of “Wave of Mutilation” loves being done by a girl-fronted band, all loud and fuzzy like the Breeders’ second coming. Joy Zipper is a guy-girl duo from NYC and I dig em like The Raveonettes — absolutely go check out their song “Go Tell The World” on their MySpace. Yum. Other artists on the Pixies comp that I’ve written about before are OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mogwai and Dylan At The Movies. ALR also has an interesting-sounding album of female artists covering Neil Young due in early 2008. I am never let down by their offerings.

Changing Your Mind
Bob Schneider

Lest you think I gave ole Bob the short end of the nasty stick with my recent show review, allow me to suggest this soul-flaying unreleased tune from him. This just goes to show that when he’s good, he’s really good. This pure, achingly vulnerable track is one that he performed in Denver, and listening again to the full studio treatment of it just does something to my heart. I also located a live mp3 of that song I quoted at the end of the show review, I’ll be adding that up shortly. So worth delving into.

March 1, 2007

Noise Pop: “Your face was simple, your hands were naked / I was singing without knowing the words”

Last night was fantastic – great shows in a great venue for my first night at the Noise Pop Festival. So far, color me impressed with this little fest.

My night began with an inspired set from local SF artist Ryan Auffenberg (well, actually it began with a protracted and painful search for a parking space where I would not get accosted or carjacked, which caused me to miss the beginning of Ryan’s set). Backed by a full band and featuring guest vocals from Hannah Prater of The Bittersweets, Ryan turned out a polished and impassioned show to a near-capacity crowd.

The setlist was pleasantly longer than I’d expected (Hey Mona Lisa, Deep Water, Curtain Call, Be Kind, Under All The Bright Lights, Missouri In The Morning, Please Don’t Go), and the packed crowd received Auffenberg very enthusiastically. It was good to see this talented artist getting such a roaring reception.

VIDEO: “Missouri In The Morning

There was some overlap with Ryan and Josh Ritter upstairs in the Swedish American Hall and I extricated myself as soon as I could. Changing gears entirely, I left the sweaty, packed downstairs and tiptoed into a silent room with everyone in rapt attention to the folk troubadour onstage.

Josh Ritter is a bit of a stylistic anomaly, almost as if he were plucked from another era and dropped into 2007. His appearance definitely has this air of some hippie Irish minstrel with his enormous red curly head of hair and formidable ‘stache stretching across his often widely-smiling mouth and cherubic rosy cheeks. Plus, he was sporting a cream pinstriped suit — you don’t see that often (unless it’s in a tongue-in-cheek hipster fashion statement or a Floridian retiree).

Ritter is also a rare, rare performer in his obvious ebullience to be performing. As he weaves his intricate, literate songs on stage, he overflows with each lyric as if he were birthing every line afresh for the first time. There is no sense of a rote performance, and no indication that he’s sung some of these hundreds of times. Instead, he radiates a palpable joy and a sense of barely-contained anticipation with each word that comes out. It was really a sheer delight to watch, and breathed new life into songs I thought I knew.

I was continually amazed by the lyrics of his songs all night long, feverishly writing down snippets that spoke to me. In fact, he even performed “Idaho” with all the lights in the hall turned off, which made each word just hover out in the darkness. He’s gotta be one of the best lyricists out there.

(both excellent photos credited to Doug Rice)

VIDEO: “The Temptation Of Adam
(new song from forthcoming album)
Ritter writes these almost mythical stories, always with apocalyptic overtones. This one smarted a bit with the way it ends — tragic irony. More for listening than watching, video not so hot but hey, I tried.

I wasn’t planning on recording this, but he was just SO impassioned and into the song that I had to record it for myself. The camera work is pretty jumpy. Plus, those lyrics (see post title), that chorus. Amazing.

VIDEO: “Thin Blue Flame
Interesting to hear this song in a solo acoustic setting without the thundering, building piano chords. Still striking.

January 8, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

A crystalline and lovely dream last night involving me slow-waltzing with Ryan Adams in a high school gym with paper streamers all about (yeah, have no idea where that one came from but I ain’t complainin’) reminded me of an interesting effort I read about called The Dream Project.

It involves people calling in and leaving scratchy, half-coherent messages on a dedicated voicemail line (often right after waking), and then a cadre of artists works to visually represent those dreams as part of a larger project. The only catch is that they ask for dreams with “a strong narrative flow and clear landmarks so that others may follow the trail.” So that summarily eliminates me, unfortunately. My midnight brain is too random to make most of my sojourns followable by anyone else except me.

And actually, this project also reminds me of one of my favorite Dilbert comic strips.

. . . Here are five songs on my playlists this week that you may enjoy.

Deep Water
Ryan Auffenberg
This new demo song from San Francisco’s Ryan Auffenberg (“One To Watch“) is first in the lineup this week because it reminds me of a soundtrack to a dream, from the opening lyrics about some moments staying with you, to the soporific feel of the chorus, “deep water grows cold the further down you swim.” Perfect. Ryan’s put this new song up on his MySpace page, he’s got a few tour dates this month on the West coast and was recently picked up for a little featurette on San Francisco’s KFOG. I still recommend checking out all of his work, and think we’ll be hearing good things from him in the future.

Is That The Thanks I Get
(live on Conan)
Ahhh, Wilco. You Tweedy fans are a passionate bunch, and trying so hard to convert me. I am only not a hardcore fan yet because of benign neglect. Reader Chuck recently sent me a 10-song “Wilco Starter Kit” to try, once again, to transform me into a rabid fan, and so far he has been fairly successful. I recently came across this new song, a fantastic soulful Memphis piano romp performed several months ago on Conan. This (and other new songs) are potential inclusions on the upcoming Wilco album (May 2007, Nonesuch Records), and I like what I hear so far.

I Will Wander
The Features
Tennessee’s The Features are guys that I love to root for; you may recall a mention a few months back on this blog about how they were dropped from their label for refusing to cover a Beatles song for a credit card commercial? Well, the same sound that drew me to madly adore their 2004 track “Blow It Out” is still alive and kicking on their recent Contrast EP. I am digging the marching cadence of this song — the feel reminds me of a sort of Modest-Mouse-meets-Devo.

Children of December
Been listening to The SLIP‘s Eisenhower CD (on Bar/None Records) for a few months now and always meant to write something but somehow it kept getting passed over — but no longer. This is simply a fantastic song from the opening vibrating notes. I think the first thing I read about Boston’s The SLIP came from a quote I read from Jim James of My Morning Jacket who raved about them, saying, “‘Children of December’ is the song that hit me hardest – the way the guitar and the melody interlace, it’s incredible…It could even appeal to some kid who really likes punk rock. It’s really challenging.” Their Eisenhower album sounds fresh to these ears, and was co-produced by the band and Matthew Ellard (Elliott Smith, Billy Bragg & Wilco, Morphine).

After The War
Sleep Station
Here’s a random tune that popped into my inbox after my recent Cotton Mather post. Reader Barry from NYC writes, “I suspect you’re a big power pop fan who loves those pronounced Beatles influences with jangly guitars, close harmonies, all the good stuff. Seeing that’s the case, I thought I would attach a song by a band you may not know called Sleep Station. I love this song, and the album it comes from, After the War (their strongest record), generally sounds like a cross between the Beatles and Pink Floyd. Good stuff.” I agree and think I am going to get this CD for further listening (an $8 bargain!). I find this particular tune to be a pleasant modern-day update on “Golden Slumbers.” Thanks, Barry!

Oh, and if perchance you are looking for some good books for 2007, Scatter O’ Light is doing a great series on music-related reading, and yours truly just scribbled together a few suggestions off the top of my head for her part 3 (part 1 on U2-related tomes is here and part 2 on best rock bios is here). Happy reading!

August 30, 2006

Odds & ends

Ûž News of the day (well, MY day, anyways) is that The Lemonheads have announced Fall tour dates. Yippee!

Ûž Forget Busted Tees, man. If you truly want to stand out (in an ironic, laid back way) at all the back-to-school parties this fall, make yourself up a Chuck Norris-ism shirt on this site. Mine would probably read: “Chuck Norris has two speeds: Walk and Kill.” Read some of my other favorites in this post, or visit the mother archive here. Dang funny.

No wait, I just saw this and I think I want my shirt to read: “Helen Keller’s favorite color is Chuck Norris.”

(That’s gonna be one that my dad calls about and says, “Heather? I don’t understand that joke on your blog.”)

Ûž Several of you have emailed me looking for a place that you can buy the new Ryan Auffenberg EP, Under All The Bright Lights. The good news is that it is now available on CDBaby! It gave me quite a kick to see that the description of the artist on the CDBaby website is a snippet from yours truly. I laughed out loud at that one.

Related download: Check out the acoustic session that Ryan did with iChannel (free download, right click save as).

Ûž For you Pearl Jam fans, I found this great lil blog with a bunch of live shows available for download. It’s creatively entitled “Pearl Jam Bootlegs,” and there’s some fantastic stuff on there.

Ûž For you completists, there is a Doors Box Set (“Perception“) coming out on November 21: “This collection offers up re-mastered versions of the Doors’ six studio albums on both CD and DVD, complete with rare video and audio tracks such the seventeen-minute cut “Celebration of the Lizard” and a previously unreleased version of “Indian Summer,” among other alternate takes and rarities. Hyperion will also release the first authorized autobiography of the band, “The Doors by the Doors,” on November 7th.”

Remember that Doors movie with Val Kilmer? Remember the scene when he is running around (as I recall) naked, stoned out of his mind? In high school my friend Lance and I decided to watch that movie on Christmas Day one year. His whole extended family was there. I remember being embarassed. That’s my best Doors story.

Ûž You know those times when you just need to say “FRICK yeah. I am AWESOME” to the naysayers in your life (or into the mirror)? Well Fabulist has put together a three-part series of “Confidence Rock.” And. It. Is. Awesome. (I mean, it includes the song from Karate Kid. It doesn’t get much better than that).

Ûž Ten years since Trainspotting? Aquarium Drunkard has a nice soundtrack featurette on the jumpy British flick that turned a generation on to all things Brit-Pop. “Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a starter home. Choose dental insurance, leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose your future. But why would anyone want to do a thing like that?”

Ûž What WOULD Uncle Jesse do? That is an excellent question that, until now, we have not had a website to answer.

Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) shares a birthday with me, and I share some some of his swaggering coolness (I like to think so, anyways). So now I can hypothetically run through a host of scenarios and see what Full House’s coolest uncle might have done.

Ûž The Scatter’O'Light post on Michael Hutchence made me think of this picture that I once saw in a fantastic music exhibit:

Regardless of your feelings on the INXS topic, is that not a SUPERB photograph? I love it.

Her post also made me think of this song, still my favorite INXS song ‘cuz it makes me think of dancing in my friend Britt’s bedroom at the age of ten. I can’t describe the dance we were doing, but I can picture it clearly in my head. I contend that this is still a great song – listen to that harmonica! Flashback of the day:

Suicide Blonde” – INXS

August 21, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

Oh, my good heavens. I’ve found your new favorite website: The Museum of Kitschy Stitches. It is a collection of unspeakably awful sweaters knitted during the height of bad, bad, bad fashion in the ’70s and ’80s, combined with snarky commentary. You will marvel at what passed as acceptable to wear outside the home (PS – There’s a book too).

My dear sweet lord, it’s handicrafts gone wrong.

You could imagine yourself snuggling into one of these bad boy confections while you listen to these great songs for the week:

Long Day
The Bittersweets
I have been singing this all weekend. It feels somehow instantly familiar when you hear it, warm and rich and lovely. Fronted by confidently honey-voiced Hannah Prater, this track has a rolling alt-country feel with the wistful slide guitar. The Bittersweets hail from Oakland, California, and have found that elusive perfect band name that captures the mood of their music. If their name sounds familiar, I had also mentioned them last week in conjunction with the show they played in San Francisco with Ryan Auffenberg (who, judging from the emails I received, you guys LOVED). The Bittersweets guest in several places on Auffenberg’s new CD, so if you liked him (of course you did) check out The Bittersweets’ disc The Life You Always Wanted (2006, Virt Records). They’ve got a few California shows coming up, including one opening for Roseanne Cash.

Key Of C
Jim Noir
This song is found on the same Tower of Love album as that catchy “Eanie Meany” song used in the World Cup Adidas commercials. Jim Noir is from Manchester (UK) and I think I am going to seek out the album (which was just released on Barsuk in the US), as I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. This song blends a pleasant ’60s pop sound with a slightly distorted melody and some electronica elements. Plus, you’ve gotta give some props to the fact that this is basically a love ballad to a musical note (the aforementioned C). Quirky, feel-good tune.

She Falls Away
Andy Mac
This is a MySpace discovery for me; the piano intro starts out slow, but when the beat kicks in, the channeling of John Davis from Superdrag immediately begins as well. This is a very good thing. Andy Mac is from Buffalo, New York and has been a musician all his life. After sharing stage time with Duncan Sheik and other artists, he struck out on his own with his Music For A Bright Moon Sky album in 2005 (More mp3s are on the Not Lame Records website). It’s an album full of well-crafted pop, catchy arrangements, and lush harmonies.

Distortions (Clinic cover)
Chris Walla
Stereogum has had a bunch of good songs up on their site lately, including this new tune from Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie, recorded two weeks ago at his house. It’s a cover of a Clinic song, and since I am not familiar with the original, I think I will go find it. Some people familiar with the Clinic version say that this sucks. But I actually like it with its slow build, driving beat, and double-tracked harmonies. Read about Walla’s new solo efforts here, forthcoming from Barsuk, and suggest a band name for his endeavors. Right now the front runners seem to be “Dishwalla” (yuk, yuk, yuk) and, my favorite, “Walla Walla Bing Bang” (someone call the witch doctor).

The Perfect Crime
The Decemberists
So basically the whole new Decemberists album The Crane Wife is floating out there in advance of the October release date. I’ve only heard a few songs, but I really like this one. Upbeat, almost danceable, but still agreeably idiosyncratic due to the warble of Colin Meloy’s voice and the creative range of instruments that the Decemberists like to bust out.

Now I feel like knitting something for some inexplicable reason.

August 14, 2006

One To Watch: San Francisco’s Ryan Auffenberg

If you have a soft spot for the haunting male/female vocal harmonies of Damien Rice, the bright Americana of ‘Gold’-era Ryan Adams, or the smooth sounds of Josh Rouse, you will love this next artist. Ryan Auffenberg is a San Francisco singer-songwriter who is making some amazingly good (mature, thoughtful, musically solid) songs for someone of his age (25). He’s opened for the likes of Mark Kozelek and Jon Auer (of The Posies), and is starting to gain some well-deserved notice of his own.

If you find yourself in the city by the bay tomorrow night (Tuesday August 15th) I highly recommend swinging by San Francisco’s scenic Cafe Du Nord for the record-release party for Auffenberg’s The Bright Lights EP. This is the the first new music since his 2003 debut Climb, and an appetizer to his upcoming sophomore album Golden Gate Park, and it sounds great. Doors open 8pm, show at 8:30; be there. They are playing with The Bittersweets and Brothers & Sisters.

His song “Under All The Bright Lights” sails effortlessly into my top ten favorite songs of 2006 thus far. Seriously, I love it and you will too. It is a stellar, evocative, emotional tour de force set against a lush backdrop of gorgeous strings and wrenching piano. But for all the prettiness of the melody, listen closely to the lyrics for a dose of jarring reality. Highest recommendation for download:

Under All The Bright Lights – Ryan Auffenberg (must listen)

Climb – Ryan Auffenberg (from his 2003 self-titled album)

Head on over to his MySpace page right now to stream all four songs that will be appearing on the Bright Lights EP, and make sure to download “Hey Mona Lisa,” which is a midtempo beauty with a dusty, jangly alt-country feel.

The reviewer that best nailed my sentiments put it this way: “This kid deserves a chance . . . and when he gets one, he’s gonna be on the radio.”

Aug 23, Portland OR (Mississippi Studios)
Aug 25, Beaverton OR (Urban Rhythms)
Aug 26, Seattle WA (The Triple Door/Musiquarium)
Aug 27, Seattle WA (The O Lounge)
Aug 28, Boise ID (Terrapin Station)
Aug 29, Salt Lake City UT (Kilby Court)
Sep 1, Boulder CO (Rock N Soul Cafe)
Sep 2, Wichita KS (Java Nation)
Sep 4, Omaha NE (Mick’s Music Bar)
Sep 7, Ames IA (The Bali House)
Sep 8, Des Moines IA (Mars Cafe)
Sep 11, Minneapolis MN (The Fine Line Music Cafe)
Sep 14, Chicago IL (Uncommon Grounds)
Sep 16, Indianapolis IN (Radio Radio/Future Shock)
Sep 20, Boston MA (Kennedy’s Midtown)
Sep 22, New York NY (The Living Room)
Sep 23, Philadelphia PA (Grape Street)
Sep 25, Charlotte NC (The Evening Muse)
Sep 26, Decatur GA (Eddie’s Attic)
Sep 28, Tuscaloosa AL (Pours Cafe)
Sep 30, St. Louis MO (TBA)
Oct 4, Dallas TX (Standard & Pours)
Oct 5, Waco TX (Common Grounds)
Oct 6, Austin, TX (TBA)
Oct 7, Austin, TX (TBA)

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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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