April 13, 2009

Monday Music Roundup


I hope that your Easter looked as good as that one. We got heavy wet snow and I wore my Easter dress anyways, out of defiance (yes, I still try and get a new Spring-y dress every Easter). I am glad to report the usual arsenal of Cadbury Creme Eggs and no Peeps.

Several songs in these past days have set my blogger heart ablaze in the best way. My friend Dainon pointed out that I am on a sky kick lately when it comes to song lyrics, and I was surprised to realize that he is absolutely correct. Lately I can’t get enough of the clouds, the stars, and the atmospheric explosions.

Something in the endlessness, I think.

scoreSleep All Summer
(Crooked Fingers cover)
The National & St. Vincent

Start with the song that I’ve listened to the most these past few days, probably close to a billion times. Matt Berninger opens with the lyrics, “Weary sun, sleep tonight, go crashing into the ocean… Cut the line that ties the tide and moon, ancient and blue,” his voice vulnerably cracking just a little on the high notes. The National and St. Vincent pair up to cover Denver’s Crooked Fingers (of Eric Bachmann, Archers of Loaf), and wistfully wrench at my heart in the best way. The songwriting here made me run immediately to go research Crooked Fingers. I am thoroughly impressed with how much exceptional material Merge crammed onto their newest 20th anniversary covers bacchanalia SCORE! (and oh, it is). You can stream the full album here for a limited time, featuring folks like Ryan Adams, The Shins, Mountain Goats, Okkervil River and Bright Eyes.

I Won’t Be Found
tallestThe Tallest Man On Earth

The influence of Bob Dylan on countless young American musicians is well-worn, and almost genetically hotwired into entire generations by this point, but to find a young Swede who sounds so convincingly authentic in his folk howls and sweeping lyrical songscapes — that’s something that excites me. Kristian Matsson performs as The Tallest Man On Earth and grew up listening to rock and punk in faraway Scandinavian lands, but through Dylan he “just fell into the ocean of American folk-blues.” On this song he sings about the Serengeti, levees of stars, and growing diamonds in his chest. His album Shallow Grave is out now, and also check the twangy theme song he created for the excellent Yellow Bird Project t-shirt site for charity (I’m a happy owner of that National one).

moodyThe Sound
Human Highway

There is an effervescence and simple joy in this number from Nick Thorburn (of Islands & The Unicorns) and Jim Guthrie (Canadian musician who was also in Islands, and is Woody’s grandson). Human Highway was named after the Neil Young song (or maybe the movie), and their album Moody Motorcycle was recorded in Guthrie’s Toronto apartment over a span of two weeks. It has a spontaneous feel to it, full of humble guitar picking and familiar-feeling harmonies that would make the Everly Brothers turn their heads. It was released last summer on my birthday, but I am just discovering it now — a little burst of last summer in the final gasps of winter.

Hallie and Henry (unreleased demo)
say-hiSay Hi

There are several reasons that I can deconstruct liking this unpolished demo from Say Hi‘s Eric Elbogen, ranging from the way his slightly ragged, earnest voice reminds me here of Pete Yorn, or that restrained pulse of the guitar. But mostly? If we’re gonna be honest, I think I like this song because the intro practically begs you to bust out with “Josie’s on a vacation far away, come around and talk it over.” TRY it. Say Hi has released a fabulous album called Oohs and Aahs on Barsuk, and is currently on tour with Cloud Cult.

Layout 1Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (Leonard Cohen cover)
Lemonheads & Liv Tyler

This vocal pairing is something I can totally picture occurring in the break room of Empire Records after Rex Manning leaves, Evan’s golden hair falling over his eye as Liv puts aside her studying for a few minutes. Harvard can wait. Starlets who sing can be a very bad idea, but Liv Tyler actually has a dusky, delicate singing voice she can be proud of. Here she joins with Evan Dando’s golden, malleable croon to cover one of Leonard Cohen’s bittersweet gems of a relationship’s twilight (“let’s not talk of love or chains and things we can’t untie”). The results join covers of artists like Townes Van Zandt, Gram Parsons and Linda Perry on the forthcoming Lemonheads covers album Varshons (due June 23 on The End Records). Kate Moss also sings. The concept could go terribly awry, but I enjoyed the last Lemonheads album so much that I hold out hope.

December 14, 2006

You should meet: Hymns

My friend Tom emailed me a little report from the Lemonheads show he was at last night (not good, he says), and although we differed on the glory (or lack thereof) of Evan Dando, one thing we both agreed on was opening band Hymns. Tom writes:

Let me say if you’re thinking about going to see this tour make sure you get there in time for the opening bands, because last night at least, they were the best part of the night. Hymns started the night off with a set of songs that started off sounding like Wilco and then kind of morphed a bit into a more late 60′s sound — I really liked them. Easily ended up as best band of the night.”

I had a chance to chat with Hymns dudes Brian Harding (vox/guitar) and Jason Roberts (guitar/Wurlitzer) recently in a crowded stairwell at the Bluebird Theatre, for lack of a better place to talk. As people pressed past us, I caught up with them about their current tour and their new album Brother/Sister.

Q: After spending time apart from Hymns as Jason joined the Ben Kweller’s tour and other side projects, how has this tour been so far?

Brian: Yeah, after time apart we were a little rusty at first, definitely, but now we feel like we’ve been jelling back as a band and hit our groove again together. Lots of long drives so far on the tour, and we wrecked our van the other night on black ice! But this is the first time we’ve had this big of a crowd watching us perform, so it’s great. We’ve played some shows in the past to like 40 people, so these crowds are cool — there’s a lot of enthusiasm.

Q: What’s been your coolest moment on this Lemonheads tour so far?

Jason: Oh, I’d say on our last stop — Boise I think? In Boise, Evan [Dando] came out and sat right down in front for our set, just pulled up a chair and no one noticed. Then at the end he jumped up on stage and joined us for that Neil Young cover (Don’t Cry No Tears) that we’ve been doing. It was pretty awesome.

Q: If you had to pick two songs from your catalog to introduce people to the Hymns sound, what would you choose?

Brian: It’s A Shame & Friends of Mine. “It’s A Shame” is fun to play and was easy to record — we laid it down live for the album in about two hours. It also just got on the latest sampler CD for Paste Magazine, so we were excited about that. Yeah, our song is there right after Cat Stevens. (big grin)

Jason: I’d say It’s A Shame too, and Stop Talking.

Q: Any new materials being recorded or written?

Jason: We’d love to do another album — and we’ve already got enough for probably two new albums — but we want to give this album its time to breathe before releasing anything else. People haven’t had time to fully absorb it yet, so we’re not in a hurry.

Hymns have three shows left with the Lemonheads:
-Tonight at the Black Cat in DC
-Friday at Irving Plaza in NYC
-Saturday at the Avalon in Boston

You can listen to more Hymns on their MySpace — they’re addicted to it, so leave ‘em a comment and make their day. Their album Brother/Sister is available now from Blackland Records. And their three picks for songs you should hear:

It’s A Shame – Hymns

Friends of Mine – Hymns

Stop Talking – Hymns

December 4, 2006

I know a place that’s safe and warm: Lemonheads @ the Bluebird Theatre

Somehow in my 12+ years of fandom, I’d never made it to see Evan Dando and Co. in concert before Saturday night’s show with “The Lemonheads” at the Bluebird Theatre in Denver. There was a deep sense of goodness & nostalgia permeating the show, which I was more excited about than any show I’ve seen recently.

The warm and golden voice of Evan Dando soundtracks many many good memories for me, and I’ve loved him from his early days of alternative poster-boyhood (with the flowing long hair), through his Oasis/party hearty/crack cocaine days (though I was with you on that ‘what’re you doin’ man?‘ train of thought), the solo albums, on up to this year with the fantastic new Lemonheads album.

(yes, that photo’s upside down)

On a freeeezing Saturday night, the venue was intimate, the setlist fabulously varied, and Dando was still rocking the stoner-sailor look with a striped long-sleeved shirt, although a bit older (aren’t we all?). The crowd was a mix of reminiscing fans in their 30s-40s and beyond, some barely 21-plus who probably were playing kickball on the blacktop when It’s A Shame About Ray came out, and the same enthusiastic Japanese girl from the Ben Kweller show a few months ago who brought presents for the performers and pom poms for cheering.

Check out some video: the stage was quite dark so photos didn’t turn out too hot.

GREAT BIG NO (loooooove the way this video turned out once the song starts – gorgeous lighting, sounds fantastic)

THE OUTDOOR TYPE (a divergence from the setlist, a happy surprise)

INTO YOUR ARMS (also a bonus, a lovely little acoustic version, just a minute and a half of sweet goodness)

MORE VIDEOS: It’s About Time (audio is pretty out-of-control fuzzy loud, sorry), Become The Enemy (love this from the new album, again watch the fuzz-audio), and a snippet of My Drug Buddy (which I think I may have been, uh, singing backup to as I filmed). Also very good were the renditions of Ride With Me and Rudderless, but I didn’t get video. And he did Being Around, which you either love or hate, eh?

The impending concert date inspired me to go into the basement and open my box of high school ephemera in search of a little tongue-in-cheek zine I ordered back in the day called “Die Evan Dando, Die.” At least I hope it’s a joke.

I think the author of this photocopied, hand-addressed bit of ’90s lore was just jealous of Evan’s sunny good looks, and annoyed with his sensitive-strummer persona.

If I had gotten to talk with Evan (I didn’t), I was considering asking him to sign it, but also a little worried that he’d think it was a bit scary (and me as well, by extension). So I think that maybe it worked out for the best for everyone involved that’s he’s a bit reclusive nowadays after shows.

Here is a helpful guide from the zine, which I hope you can read because it’s awesome:

LISTEN: Lemonheads on NPR last month

October 31, 2006

AOL, like, totally wants to go to the next Cold War Kids show with you

I am a little confused by the AOL Music Indie Blog. The first time I heard of it, it just sounded like a non-sequitur to me, like a math equation that does not compute. AOL = indie?

They are using their gigantic corporate conglomerate muscle and huge subscriber base to draw these great podcasts from a wide variety of (mostly) smaller independent artists.

I suppose I could just enjoy and keep my mouth shut, but I just have to admit my hesitancy in having AOL be my source for, like, a Josh Rouse interview. Isn’t that what smaller labels and independent radio stations are for? The performances are great so I can’t complain, but I have to admit that the concept kind of rubs me the wrong way.

I know, I know – get over it, and listen to these:

RECENT PODCASTS (the links are to mp3 of podcast) -

M. Ward
(performing Chinese Translation, To Go Home, Paul’s Song)

Cat Power
(performing Love & Communication, John John, Satisfaction, Ramblin’ Man)

Noel Gallagher
(performing It’s Good To Be Free, Whatever, Slide Away)

The Lemonheads
(performing No Backbone, Why Do You Do This To Yourself, My Drug Buddy)

Nada Surf
(performing 8 songs — now that’s just crazy talk: Concrete Bed, What Is Your Secret?, Always Love, Hyperspace, Blizzard of ’77, 80 Windows, Happy Kid, Blankest Year)

José González
(performing Crosses, Deadweight on Velveteen, Lovestain, Heartbeats)

Josh Rouse
(performing Quiet Town and Givin’ It Up)

Jamie Lidell
(performing Game For Fools, What’s The Use, Multiply)

September 26, 2006

The impossibly good-looking stoner with perfect bone structure

Yippee-ki-yay, the new Lemonheads is out today. And eMusic’s got it, which makes me a happy camper-and-a-half.

Eric over at Marathonpacks has penned exactly what I feel about Evan Dando and the Lemonheads. He captures it so perfectly that no one ever needs to try and encapsulate them in writing ever again; just link to him.

He muses:

“Dando was the pop-culture exemplar of the guy that each high school and dorm floor had one or two of—the impossibly good-looking stoner with perfect bone structure, but also the guy who would manage three or four ‘girlfriends’ at once and write impossible-to-ignore moody pop-rock songs about longing and nostalgia and memory and probably those girls too. The guy who everyone tried to hate, but could never actually hate because he was essentially harmless and would screw himself over consistently with the fervor of a religious ascetic, and would finally put that on record.”

Read the rest here. I love how he says the new record has “guitars that still sound like late ’80s Boston, lyrics sung from a bedroom floor, trying with all of their sleepy might to end a relationship without sounding like a complete dick.” Yes. Exactly, my man.

Here is one of my current favorites off the new disc, I recommend you get the rest (there’s also one more free track for download on the MySpace page):

Become The Enemy – The Lemonheads
(This song is ridiculously catchy & I am in love with it)

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 17, 2006

Stream FOUR NEW Lemonheads songs!

I am so happy right now. Just hearing Evan Dando sounding this good makes everything rosy in my world.

Head on over to The Lemonheads‘ updated website to stream four of the new songs from their upcoming album (previous post/details here). The songs you can listen to are:

“Become The Enemy”
“No Backbone”
(hear the original here)
“Let’s Just Laugh”

And I think that they sound absolutely fantastic – rocking, melodic & interesting. As good as I would have hoped.

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August 2, 2006

Purple parallelogram I got in Amsterdam (made me dream a dream I didn’t understand)

I’ve had this one in my queue for months now, and heartily singing it out the other day in my car made me finally decide to post it up. This is a rockin’ little pop song, written by Noel Gallagher from Oasis and Evan Dando from The Lemonheads. According to Dando, speaking around the time of the release of Definitely Maybe: “We met about a month ago and hit it off, then last night we collided in Paris. We’d both been playing the Lowlands festival in Holland this weekend and we wrote a song together called ‘Purple Parallelogram.’”

Purple Parallelogram – The Lemonheads/Evan Dando

A friend once bet me a shiny nickel that no version existed of Noel Gallagher singing this:

Purple ParallelogramNoel Gallagher

It does, it does. It’s rough, but fun.

Makes us all want sing heartily about psychedelic drug excursions (but not in front of the kids).

July 10, 2006

Lemonheads new album release date & confirmed tracklisting

This just goes to show that all the best albums are, clearly, recorded in Colorado:


The Lemonheads have just announced a September 26th, 2006 release date for the group’s first new album in almost 10 years. The self-titled disc will be released on Vagrant Records and was co-produced by Evan Dando and drummer Bill Stevenson (Descendents, Black Flag) and was recorded at Stevenson’s Blasting Room studios in Ft. Collins, CO earlier this year. Joining the two was bass player Karl Alvarez (Descendents) along with special guests Garth Hudson and J Mascis on select tracks.

The Lemonheads are planning a U.S. tour for the fall (!!!), but fans in the U.K. will get to see the band this month at the Lattitude Festival in Suffolk on July 14th and on July 16th at Somerset House in London. The current touring band includes Dando with Josh Lattanzi (bass) and John Kent (drums).”

Dando says of this new effort that it is “louder, faster, more like BUZZCOCKS pop-punk-and way less introspective” (which sounds great to me). When asked why he wanted to release a Lemonheads album, he told NME “I wanted to make a rock record, a melodic rock record. Also, I’m sick of selling solo T-shirts.”

The Lemonheads track listing:
Black Gown
Become The Enemy
Let’s Just Laugh
Rule of Three
No Backbone (Smudge cover)
Baby’s Home
In Passing
Steve’s Boy

Well, I don’t have any of those new songs, not even live versions, so we can’t post that. However, as you can see, one of the songs on the new Lemonheads album is a cover of a Smudge tune, so I sought that out for you. And omigosh, this song was WRITTEN just to be sung by Evan Dando. It is fulfilling its tiny musical destiny by being on this new album (Smudge is fronted by vocalist/guitarist Tom Morgan who co-authored The Lemonheads ’92 album It’s A Shame About Ray, among other Lemonheads tunes). Take a listen:

No Backbone – Smudge

Now when the new album comes out, you can be like “Oh, do you want to hear the original Smudge song that they covered? I’ve got it here on my iPod.”

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April 30, 2006

Re-formed Lemonheads sign to Vagrant

The Lemonheads to me represent a slice of mid-’90s goodness that will forever evoke high school memories of new white Converse and cutting class to go to Harry’s Deli for lunch.

After several years of Evan Dando doing the solo thing (and putting out some great stuff, I must say) Vagrant Records announced last week that the Lemonheads are reforming and signed to their label, which also has been home to Paul Westerberg, Eels, The Futureheads, and The Hold Steady.

From their news section:
“The recently re-formed Lemonheads are currently in the studio putting the finishing touches on what will be their eighth studio album in a career that spans over two decades… Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Evan Dando is co-producing the album with drummer Bill Stevenson (Descendents, Black Flag), and the band is rounded out with bass player Karl Alvarez (Descendents). NYC-based Dando self-funded the project and has been recording in Stevenson’s Colorado studio off and on during the last year.”

The press release contains a great quote from Rich Egan, the president of Vagrant Records:

The thing I remember most about Vagrant’s first year is being locked up in my apartment, drinking coffee, stuffing 7″‘s into envelopes and listening to It’s A Shame About Ray on cassette all day, every day. If it wasn’t for that record, we probably would’ve left the apartment eventually and given up the label. Nobody writes songs like Evan Dando, nobody sings likes him…the new songs are incredible. He is in top form.”

In honor, here are two excellent live Evan Dando shows that I have just been waiting for a reason to post. The first one (from Glasgow in 2001) is a lovely walk through pretty much every Evan Dando/Lemonheads song that I love, great setlist. The second (from Ludlow’s in Ohio in 2000) has a different lineup, and is stocked full of some pretty funny and fabulous covers. I don’t know what got into Evan that night, but he was all over the map and I like it.

Evan Dando, King Tut’s Glasgow, Feb 18, 2001 (zip link at end)
01. It’s A Shame About Ray
02. Down About It
03. The Turnpike Down
04. The Outdoor Type
05. Paid To Smile
06. The Great Big No
07. Big Gay Heart
08. Favorite T
09. Hospital
10. Being Around
11. The Same Thing You Thought Hard About Is The Same Thing I Can Live Without
12. Hard Drive
13. If I Could Talk I’d Tell You
14. Into Your Arms
15. Confetti
16. My Drug Buddy
17. Hannah & Gabi
18. Ride With Me
19. Stove
20. Rudderless
21. It’s Up To You (featuring Ben Kweller, pictured)
22. All My Life
23. $1000 Wedding
24. Different Drum (Linda Ronstadt, right?)


Second show: Evan Dando – Ludlows Bar and Treehouse, Columbus, OH 12-14-00 (zip link at end)

01. Confetti
02. Hannah & Gabi
03. My Drug Buddy
04. It’s A Shame About Ray
05. The Same Thing You Thought Hard About Is The Same Thing I Can Live Without
06. Frying Pan
07. All My Life
08. Whoops
09. Like A Rose (Lucinda Williams cover)
10. Side Of The Road (Lucinda Williams cover)
11. The Turnpike Down
12. Down About It
13. Favorite T
14. Rudderless
15. I Don’t Care (Ramones cover)
16. Who Loves The Sun (Velvet Underground cover)
17. Jetstreams (Eugene Kelly cover)
18. Hate Your Friends
19. Homos (The Frogs cover)
20. Frank Mills
21. Don’t Fear The Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult, minus the cowbell)
22. Paint
23. Backstreet Girl (Rolling Stones cover)


Enjoy! I am looking forward to seeing what the new Lemonheads will sound like, in a new musical era of sorts from the last time they released something.

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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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