March 16, 2009

Monday (SXSW) Music Roundup


In just over 36 hours I will be in Austin, Tejas for my first SXSW Music Festival. I may be a bit disoriented from my way early AM flight, blinking the bright Texas sunlight. I’ll be planning my musical attack, my strategy for eating BBQ and pacing my drinks. Marathon, not sprint, etc etc.

I was up til past 1 last night trying to scrap together some loose semblance of a schedule of bands I would be interested in seeing. Here are five brand new ones that I’ve not written about before, but that my preliminary scientific midnight musical research indicates that you might like as well.

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears

Just click play. Seriously.

James Brown struts and kicks again in the music of twenty-six year old Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. This 8-piece band from Austin makes music full of things that can’t quite be expressed with words, so there’s a lot of “whoo!”s and “unh“s and fabulous call and responses. Band members also have names like Sleepy Ramirez and Big Show Varley (come on!). Out tomorrow on Lost Highway, Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is is an immense amount of fun and I just know their live show will be also.

Harold T Wilkins

There’s an effervescent shimmer to this song with distinctively David Byrnesian vocals that loop and swirl all over. Hailing from London, Fanfarlo is a band I first read about over on Bruce’s blog full of impeccable SXSW choices. The best way to experience this little gem of a song is absolutely gonna be through the kitschy video that gets it perfectly right, all blocky colors and bright lights with a timewarp gloss. This tune is one side of a split 7″ with Sleeping States, and will also be on their forthcoming full-length. Brilliant.

jack-oblivianNight Owl
Jack Oblivian and the Tennessee Tearjerkers

Okay, wow. One thing I’ve enjoyed about prepping to go to this festival is that everyone I meet seems to have a suggestion about that band that I must see. When someone actually recommends a band called Jack Oblivian and the Tennessee Tearjerkers (which happened at the Blitzen Trapper show Thursday), I’m inclined to listen just because of that blessedly wonderful name. Heck I want to be in that band. SPIN Magazine called Jack Yarber (Oblivian) “arguably the finest rock talent Memphis has produced since Alex Chilton,” and his music runs the crazy gamut from garage to classic pop to Chuck Berry soundalikes. His new album The Disco Outlaw is out on May 5 on Goner Records. Do the skate.

Mango Tree
angus-juliaAngus and Julia Stone

This sibling duo from Sydney, Australia has composed a stirringly lovely folk album of delicate harmonies and slowburn arrangements. Angus & Julia Stone‘s distinctive voices (his fragile and clear, hers brassy and sometimes childlike) fit together flawlessly, the result of a childhood spent singing camp-song harmonies. They recorded their 2007 Hollywood EP at the house of Fran Healy (of Travis), and he produced their debut full-length A Book Like This, released a few weeks ago on EMI.

violensViolent Sensation Descends

Zombies! The Zombies stumble into a very fashionable ’80s club where everyone has long angular bangs cut diagonal in a swoop. The music of Violens strikes me as a little new wave, a little smoky, but with good structural bones and catchy melodies under all the haze. This New-York-via-Miami four piece has a self-titled EP in stores tomorrow, and one year-end list of ’08 said, “In 1966, this alternately ominous and sparkly nugget would’ve been the No. 50 British single of the year, after the Creation’s ‘Making Time.’ It’s that good.”

And sweetheavens do you even know how many other bands I am trying to find a way to cram into my happy schedule? In a perfect world where I could clone additional little Heather Brownes to run around to shows for me, some of the folks I would like to see include:

Ben Sollee, The Boat People, Ume, M. Ward, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Starfucker, Ladyhawke, The Donkeys, Department of Eagles, Dan Auerbach, Avett Brothers, Haley Bonar, Radioclit, Eli Paperboy Reed & The True Loves, Sky Larkin, Hymns, Justin Townes Earle, The Rural Alberta Advantage, The Hold Steady, Afterhours, The Features, Grizzly Bear, Laura Gibson, Lisa Hannigan, Tori Amos (!!), These United States, Thao Nguyen And The Get Down Stay Down, The Soft Pack, BLK JKS, Emily Wells, Blind Pilot, Henry Clay People, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Lucero, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, Pretty & Nice, Primal Scream, Beach House, Handsome Furs, Harlem Shakes, Here We Go Magic, The Low Anthem, Waz, The Postelles, Madi Diaz, The Ettes, Scissors For Lefty, The Felice Brothers, Samantha Crain & The Midnight Shivers, Tinted Windows, Future Clouds & Radar, Okkervil River, Explosions In The Sky, Deadstring Brothers, Ezra Furman & The Harpoons, Zee Avi, Say Hi, Voxtrot, and Superdrag (who has a new video and new guest blogging duties). Whew. And I’m not even done going through the calendar yet.

I’m on it.

[header image via]

March 9, 2009

Mile-Hi Monday Music Roundup (SXSW Party announcement!)


Something different for the Monday Music Roundup this week: Seven songs from the seven Colorado bands that we are presenting at SXSW for our first Mile-Hi Fidelity day party!

A bunch of my favorite Colorado people are getting together to throw y’all a nice little fiesta with some of the finest tunes being made in our state. We will also ply you with free drinks, and the famed Gigbot Photobooth will be there (free high-quality hipster Glamour Shots of you and all your friends!). We plan to rock it. Please do come by and say hello on Friday, and take a listen here today.

King Arthur – The Epilogues
Starting with a very enthusiastic countdown, this Epilogues track hints at the sound of the brother-fronted Denver band: dark but danceable, brooding but melodic.

Twice My Weight – Meese
Just saw the new Meese album performed live last week (my Denver Post photo essay here), and it sounds catchy as hell, all glitchy hooks and fraternal harmonies. As Julio says, “call me crazy, but I could see a number of songs off of their forthcoming album on one of those Gossip Girl (in a good way) type shows at the part when the main couple in the show are about to break things off, but they decide to give it another go by having an intense makeout sesh.”

Red Orange Yellow – The Photo Atlas

The Denver dance-punk phenoms The Photo Atlas released their debut album on the hip and happenin’ Stolen Transmission label, founded by the fascinating Sarah “Ultragrrl” Lewitinn. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen them live; I look forward to pogoing around a bit on a Friday afternoon.

When I Was In The Fire – Young Coyotes
I don’t even know what I need to say about Young Coyotes that hasn’t already been proclaimed from the rooftops. Despite a personnel change and a new coyote in the fold, they still have the shout-out-loud exuberance, shimmery songs, and heart-thumping percussion that made me want to run away with them the first time I saw them, back at the Underground Music Showcase last summer.

Anthem – Born In The Flood
I saw Born In The Flood open for Kings of Leon two years back, and I was mightily impressed. You can hear why they were such a good match to share the stage with KOL here on this song– an anthem worth blasting loud, indeed. They also won our Denver Post Underground Music Showcase that summer, and keep getting better. En fuego!

Who’d Stop The Rain – Dressy Bessy
Part of the Elephant Six Collective, Dressy Bessy is fronted by a ferocious guitar-wielding female who reminds me of quietly-foxy Daphne on Scooby Doo (it’s the boots?). A Dressy Bessy show is bold, hollering, snappy fun from start to finish.

Hey Hope – Overcasters
Formed from members of half-a-dozen other Denver bands, The Overcasters have an otherworldly grip on the stage when they play, all haunting echo, reverb, and an undercurrent of elegant melody. We’ll end the day with their set, which one Denver music fan wrote is all “volume and beauty … in equal parts, oil lamp projecting trippy colours behind them. Your clothes vibrated, the rest of the world melted away and you were immersed in pure sound, a make-you-smile-for-hours great sound.”

We hope to make you smile for hours. See you next Friday.


Also… since we’re talking about my favorite Young Coyotes, tomorrow they have two new EPs for sale! On March 10th, you can get both five-song EPs for digital download on Brother Bear Records.

The Basement EP consists of five tracks previously recorded in the band’s basement. The Exhale EP contains all new material recorded at Coupe Studios in Boulder, CO. Both EPs will be available for sale at all major online retailers and Basement will also be available for free download (!) on the band’s website. Sounds like:

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[Mile-Hi Fidelity poster by “Denver icon of rock” Jonathan Till]

March 2, 2009

Monday SXSW Music Roundup


So the countdown has begun in earnest to my first SXSW. I know, right? How did it take me this long to go? In past years I’ve focused on festivals in other regions (UMS Denver, Noise Pop SF, Coachella, etc) and wound up without the money or wherewithal to trek to Texas.

This year, we change that.

Two weeks from Wednesday, I hop a plane to Austin. I couldn’t be more excited, or more overwhelmed. There will be a showcase that Fuel/Friends is helping to present (details forthcoming) and lots of great parties and showcases that I am anticipating. In addition, I’ll be helping out with an actual panel (!!), so come see me if you are attending the conference portion.

I downloaded two torrents full o’ music from SXSW Showcasing Artists and have been slowly working my way through them all weekend. Here are five from the bazillion that first caught my ear as artists that I will want to keep my wits about me for to try and make their shows. Even if you’re not going to Austin, have a listen to five I love:

Vijay Kishore

The stream of music can be numbing after the first hundred, but this song just absolutely stopped me in my tracks, dead, heartworn. Web information tells me that Vijay Kishore is from Birmingham, England, but all I know is that the gorgeous falsetto and high lonesome drone of his voice sounds uncannily like an incarnation of Thom Yorke or Jeff Buckley, from an Indian gentleman with a shaved head. I have nothing else to say, except that I have chills. He’s playing a ton at SXSW, including an official showcase Thursday night at Creekside.

Wave and Water
gano1Gordon Gano and the Ryan Brothers
Lead Violent Femme takes to the airwaves again with this song that could probably be on all your summer mixtapes. Over a barely-contained funky guitar line and shiny brass melodies that echo Cake, Gordon Gano brings that same dry delivery to his latest (catchy) creation. I didn’t know he was at it again, didn’t know he’d be at SXSW (late Thursday at the Parish Downstairs).

elemeno-pBaby Come On
Elemeno P

This song makes me feel dizzily and joyously confused. I first heard it tonight when I was putting dishes away and lordy I think I nearly dropped a glass or two from the force of my spontaneous dancing. There’s yelling like those snappy street gangs in Broadway musicals, a huge marching drum beat, and melody for pogoing to. Elemeno P is from New Zealand and theirs will undoubtedly be a fabulously fun show (not sure when they’re playing yet).

Eager To Sail
wine-and-revolutionWine And Revolution

My experience with wine is often that it leads me into thick sleepiness, and distinctly not revolution, but this Austin band would like to encourage me otherwise. From listening to this selection, it seems as if they wish me to travel with them through a long line of good sounding influences, from the Kinks to Voxtrot, and have a lot of fun while I’m at it — to which I say, “okay.” Wine and Revolution is playing a handful of shows Wednesday and Friday.


I’ve read a lot about Malawian artist Esau Mwamwaya and the Radioclit DJ duo on Gorilla vs Bear over the last year or so, and always smile at the joyous African-inflected dance creations that they often release free into the world. This cut builds Southeast-African rhythms & words over music from Architecture in Helsinki. Radioclit preserves an earthy connection with their music while featuring folks like M.I.A. and Santogold on some fabulously sweaty-fun remixes. It’s where I’ll be midnight Thursday, in the Beauty Bar Backyard.

So…who’s on the early flight out of Denver Wednesday morning on Southwest?

February 24, 2009

Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest (gesundheit) is the album event of the year


I like to picture that I’ve hired a small man with dark hair and a preternaturally deep voice to stand in my kitchen and read that post title back to me using his Movie Preview Announcer Voice.  (I say the gesundheit part. He eyes me warily).

Proving his commitment to the rock and the roll, Philly’s music machine (and good friend) Bruce Warren has created a new blog devoted solely to aggregating and covering news related to the upcoming Grizzly Bear album event: Bookmark it for all your information needs. The anticipation is like waiting for Christmas.

I am looking forward to trying to weasel my way in to seeing these guys at SXSW (along with everybody else). Here are live versions of two shiny gorgeous songs that will be on the new album, at once golden echoey and retro happy. They get under my skin:

Two Weeks (live on Letterman) – Grizzly Bear

While You Wait For The Others (live on Morning Becomes Eclectic) – Grizzly Bear

Veckatimest is due May 26th via Warp Records and available for pre-order from Insound on CD or vinyl.

February 19, 2009

Surely the hottest ticket at SXSW


From Billboard: “Former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos, Hanson’s Taylor Hanson and Fountains Of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger have formed a new band, Tinted Windows.

The group has recorded its debut album at Stratosphere Sound Studios in New York, which Schlesinger and Iha co-own with Ivy‘s Andy Chase. The set is expected this spring on a label to be announced. Tinted Windows will play its first major show at Billboard’s South by Southwest showcase, to be held March 20 at Pangaea in Austin, Texas.”

Um, wow.

[news via, image via]

February 18, 2009

New shimmer from Pomegranates :: Everybody, Come Outside!


Cincinnati band Pomegranates radiate with a prismatic color. Click over to their MySpace (do it!) and look at all those gorgeous colors — the same ones I hear in their music; the chimey yellow piano top-notes, the rich burgundy undertones, the strong current of aquamarine melody through the middle. It’s brilliant.

I previously wrote that Pomegranates create “delightfully energetic pop-harmony music… Like that weird-looking fruit, they burst open with some serious richness, all purpley red and sweet shimmery.” They also rocked it at Monolith – a huge, shiny, gorgeous live set.

Their sophomore album Everybody, Come Outside! is due April 14th on Lujo Records, and in addition to this new song below, you can snag a few other older mp3s on their label site. (Also — I loved their previous album cover, and this one maybe even more).

Corriander – Pomegranates

2/18 Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place
2/19 New York, NY @ Crash Mansion
2/20 New York, NY @ Cake Shop
2/21 Brooklyn, NY @ The Bell House
2/22 Cambridge, MA @ Cake Shop
2/23 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
2/24 Arlington, VA @ IOTA
2/25 Charlottesville, VA @ iS Venue
2/26 Fredericksburg, VA @ The Third Floor
2/27 Chapel Hill, NC @ Nightlight
3/12 Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
3/13 Covington, IN @ Southgate House
3/14 Urbana, IL @ Canopy Club
3/15 St. Louis, MO @ Bluebird
3/16 Columbia, MO @ Mojo’s
3/17 SXSW Austin, TX @ Beauty Bar – Fanatic Promotion/Art Disaster Party
3/21 Hot Springs, AR @ Valley of The Vapors

February 17, 2009

Delicious! Thao Nguyen on tour with Samantha Crain


One of my absolute favorite albums lately (like, front to back, over and over, in the car, trying to keep it down for my co-workers, air drumming in my kitchen) is Thao Nguyen‘s We Brave Bee Stings And All (2008, Kill Rock Stars).

It’s been a long time since I’ve found an artist that strikes as perfect a blend of fearless female honesty, introspectively clever lyrics, winsome melodies, and thoroughly interesting and unexpected percussion. I’m a sucker for the cool drumbeats, the ones that make me wanna clap my hands and tap along on my laptop (even as I try to write this post).

This might be my favorite song on the album, mostly because of the awesome way the drums edge their way into the room at 0:28, and then proceed to own the whole tune:

Fear & Convenience – Thao Nguyen

While Thao will be at SXSW (which I just registered for today) I also have good news! Thao’s back on tour with her band, The Get Down Stay Down, and (and!) Samantha Crain (artist behind one of my favorite EPs last year).

Come el Seis de Mayo, I might die a tiny death of happiness.

Feb 26 – Noise Pop – Swedish American Music Hall (solo) San Francisco, CA
Feb 27 – The Coffee House (solo) Davis, CA
Mar 18 – SXSW KRS Day Party-Club DeVille Austin, TX
Mar 19 – NPR Day Show -The Parish Austin, TX
Mar 19 – Hotel Café Showcase – The Parish Austin, TX
Mar 20 – KUT Showcase – Momo’s Austin, TX
Apr 17 – Black Cat Washington DC
Apr 18 – Duke Coffee House Durham, NC #
Apr 19 – Village Tavern Mt. Pleasant, SC #
Apr 20 – EARL Atlanta, GA #
Apr 21 – Club Downunder-Florida State Tallahassee, FL #
Apr 23 – The Parish Austin, TX #
Apr 24 – Lola’s Ft. Worth, TX #
Apr 25 – The Foundation Lubbock, TX #
Apr 26 – The Sub-College of Santa Fe Santa Fe, NM #
Apr 28 – The Loft-UCSD San Diego, CA #
Apr 29 – The Hotel Cafe Los Angeles, CA #
Apr 30 – Independent San Francisco, CA #
May 1 – Mississippi Studios Portland, OR #
May 2 – Chop Suey Seattle, WA #
May 4 – Neurolux Boise, ID #
May 5 – Kilby Court Salt Lake City, UT #
May 6 – Hi Dive Denver, CO #
May 9 – Empty Bottle Chicago, IL #
May 10 – Beachland Tavern Cleveland, OH #
May 12 – Iron Horse Northampton, MA #
May 14 – Bowery Ballroom New York, NY #
May 15 – First Unitarian Church Philadelphia, PA #
May 16 – The Boot Norfolk, VA #

# with Samantha Crain

PS – How do you say Thao’s name, you ask?

[top image credit Sarah Cass]

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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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