June 9, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

On Saturday night I decided quite by chance to see a Hebrew/Arabic language foreign film called The Band’s Visit, after finding myself downtown with no other plans. This is a humble and unassuming film about the Alexandria (Egyptian) Police Orchestra who end up in the wrong Israeli town on a concert trip. It’s quietly and subtly funny, although not a comedy. It touches on the human facets of Arab/Jewish tensions, although not a political film. The themes hover around the kindness of strangers, the depths of loneliness and desire, but most of all the power of music and its strange necessity to the soul. As the final credits rolled, I thought it deeply lovely. Go see it.

Plus, bonus points will be awarded if you also notice the scene where the big dude from the band looks exactly like an Egyptian Cee-Lo sitting on the couch.


It Could’ve Been Worse
Matthew Ryan
According to the liner notes, the new album from Matthew Ryan (Vs. The Silver State) was “rehearsed in [his] garage on Idaho Avenue during the summer of 2006. There was no air conditioning and more mosquitoes than musicians.” I can almost here the crickets and feel the humidity of a summer’s night on this gorgeous song. With lines that slyly borrow from the master of all repressed & padlocked teenage fury in smalltown America (“her mascara was born to run”), this album is rife with allusions to stymied desire and unfulfilled dreams. This song ruefully notes, “You promised her every thing, not knowing what every thing really was. She’s the first girl you kissed, she’s the first girl you miss when you feel like this, broken in the dark.” Be sure to also check out Aquarium Drunkard’s new Off The Record feature with Matthew Ryan.

Breakfast Score
The M’s
Chicago quintet The M’s have been keeping my ears happy for a couple years now. Each time our paths cross, I find something new to appreciate in their eclectic hybrid songwriting which melds terrific retro influences from disparate ends of the spectrum (think T. Rex meets Kinks?). Enjoy the sloppy, handclappy feel with a little rainy day women drunken singalong feel on this cut from their new record Real Close Ones. It came out last week on Polyvinyl Records, and plays up that spacey-glam edge around traditionally structured pop songs. They currently are touring with Centro-matic.

California Soul (Diplo remix)
Marlena Shaw

I have been consistently impressed with the visionary pairings of cratedigging deep cuts from decades past with modern mixmasters featured on the Verve Remixed series. They’ve just come out with Volume 4, and this preview mp3 resurrects the swanky sounds of Marlena Shaw (the first female vocalist signed to Blue Note Records) through the lens of hot-stuff Philly DJ/producer Diplo. The album boasts some ragingly fun remixes, from the R&B swing of Nina Simone-meets-Mike Mangini wailing “Gimme Some,” to the tinny Latin shimmy of the Astrud Gilberto/Psapp track, or the Afrobeat joy of “Dilo Como Yo.” It’s a conceptual series that just keeps getting better and pushing the boundaries, delightfully.

Revolution In The Heart
Ed Harcourt
Let’s just put this simply: I am a sucker for a man and a piano. There’s something so bold and yet nuanced, even heartbreaking about the way a good player can accompany his songs with that instrument. So it’s no surprise that I take a sheen to Sussex songwriter songwriter Ed Harcourt and his musical weapon of choice. I’ve heard Harcourt’s name bantied about from past tours with folks like Wilco, Feist and Magnet, but this swirling cut from his recent release Beautiful Lie is my first personal listening experience. There seems to be a lot to appreciate in this artist, over the cascades of ivories. The “new” album is really the belated U.S. release of his 2006 album, and it features Graham Coxon (Blur) as well as the Magic Numbers. Ed is currently on tour with the Gutter Twins.

Soul On Fire

This back-with-a-vengeance song from seminal British space rock/shoegaze ’90s band Spiritualized starts gently, with lyrics about being born on a black day shot through with starlight, over an intimate acoustic strum. But before the first minute passes, all the strings swell and rise together and there’s a hurricane in your veins. It’s terrifically stirring yet somehow comforting, as if I’ve heard it a thousand times before and want to be a part of it. It’s a tourbus singalong, it’s a gospel choir, it’s a ballad just for me. Songs In A&E is out now (Spaceman/Fontana International).

Oh, and . . . Forza Azzurri!

September 6, 2006

It’s a good week to live in Chicago

All you cool cats who live in the Chicagoland area have some good FREE shows with native bands coming your way in the next few days (well, either free or “don’t be a cheap bastard/small donation for a good cause” shows):

The Redwalls are headlining the Park West Carnivale, benefiting the Children’s Memorial Hospital. This event is an outdoor street festival featuring music, entertainment and food and celebrates world cultures. The event runs Saturday & Sunday, September 9 & 10, 2006.

The Redwalls headline the festival on Saturday 9/9 at 8pm.Ticket price is a $10.00 donation, the festival will be located on Halsted between Fullerton and Lill Streets in Chicago. This is an all-ages event. Come out and support.

Thursday, September 7 @ 1pm
Seattle’s KEXP.org is setting up shop from September 7th – 9th at Engine Studios in Chicago and they’ve invited The M’s in for an on-air performance. They are making the most of the opportunity by bringing the horn & string sections. That’s right, The M’s as an 11-piece.
Space is extremely limited, so go here: http://kexp.org/events/special.asp now and sign up.

Thursday, September 7, 7pm- 9pm
KEXP In Chicago – The Darkroom, KEXP Listener Party.
As if the studio appearance wasn’t enough, KEXP keeps the generosity coming with another free show and they once again ask The M’s to take part. They will.

Both shows are, obviously, recommended or else I wouldn’t be posting about them. Sheck it out!

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June 6, 2006

Daytrotter – Free Songs from the fantabulous M’s

A site that you should really visit if you want excellent live music (for free download) from a variety of up-and-coming independent bands is Daytrotter.com.

They have a new set up from Chicago’s modern answer to T. Rex, The Kinks, and the Beatles: the fuzzy pop goodness of The M’s. If you follow this blog at all, you may be a bit sick of hearing me yammer on about them, but seriously. Take a listen. For FREE!

Plan of the Man (live on Daytrotter)
Never Do This Again (live on Daytrotter)
Future Women (live on Daytrotter)

Daytrotter plans to feature Sunset Rubdown next week, which beats them all for best band name.

And PS – Blogger has been having trouble (MAJOR trouble) with uploading and displaying pictures this week. If the images don’t show, try a refresh. If that doesn’t work, try again later (and sit and think curses upon the tech support at Blogger.com).

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April 25, 2006

The M’s and Rogue Wave on WOXY

Thanks to Dodge over at My Old Kentucky Blog, I now know that many of the varied and rich Lounge Act live sets from WOXY.com are available as mp3s that you can download, not just as streaming audio. So you can take ‘em with you and listen over and over.

Here are some good recent performances that you might enjoy (I did!):

Have fun! Head over to MOKB for the full list to keep your ears happy.

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January 19, 2006

Seriously. Listen to The M’s.

My Old Kentucky Blog & Fluxblog have both posted recently on The M’s from Chicago. These guys are fabulous, I hadn’t heard them before but they just made my day:


- Plan of the ManandTrucker Speed (from upcoming album Future Women, out 2/21/06)

- Holding Up and 2×2 (from The M’s LP, 2004)

- Banishment of Love (from The M’s EP, 2002)

Here’s what some reviewers have had to say about them:

“The M’s capture that glorious moment when the British Invasion bands of the ’60s were still grappling with their love of R&B while flirting with the more sophisticated harmonies and hooks of classic pop songwriting. Melodies unfold with craftsmanlike attention to arrangement and harmonic development, but never at the expense of swagger. Sex lurks behind every androgynous turn, from falsetto harmonies that evoke T Rex’s Marc Bolan in his glam glory to rhythms that shamble like back-alley lovers loaded on cheap wine.”
- #8 on Greg Kot’s Best of 2004, Chicago Tribune, December 10, 2004

“The four M’s call Chicago home, but with their fuzzy riffs and psychedelic melodies, they could be mistaken for a bunch of British tunesmiths by the names of Ray Davies, Damon Albarn, Marc Bolan, and John Lennon.”
- Spin Magazine, August 2004

“Three-part harmonies and a Kinks-inspired bounce…Garage-rock fans shouldn’t miss…”
- Jim Derogatis, Pop Music Critic for the Chicago Sun Times

Check out their website for a spate of upcoming shows. I would love to see these guys live. I am not too sure about what is going on with the pervasive alien/monster/Transformer theme on their site and in their promo pictures (see above). Kind of reminds me of the movie Empire Records where Mark eats the special brownies and then sees the Gwar monsters talking to him on the TV, and subsequently wanting to eat him. Hmmm.

Anyways, from their site: “Future Women on CD or 180 gram vinyl at Polyvinyl Records. Buy now and you’ll get the album shipped on February 10, eleven days before the February 21st release date! All this for the low-low non-Wal-Mart price of $10 (plus S&H).”

Not a bad deal, I just preordered it. I really dig their sound. I think I should have lived in the early ’60s. Born too late!

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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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