June 30, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

I’m still recovering from my weekend, what with all the SoCo-sponsored libations in the hot hot sun that set off other fun and unexpected happenings (like my rookie winning streak at the Klacker dice game, netting me a championship $7 –seven dollars!!– all in singles). Incidentally the SoCo also improved both my Cornhole game and my Rock Band skills (oh! doubtful!!).

Here are a handful of new songs I’ve been digging lately, the first two from bands I saw this weekend:

Eagle Seagull
This was the first thing I heard coming into the festival Saturday, and I was impressed with the soaring, rich layers of melody and caught by the singer’s voice. Eagle Seagull are from Nebraska, and something has been made of them sharing the same “scene” as fellow Cornhuskers like Bright Eyes or Tilly And The Wall, but I frankly hear more similarity to British bands like The Cure. In fact, I incorrectly thought they were from England, and that I’d caught a hint of accent there. I especially enjoyed watching their cool-as-ice violinist play her minty green instrument with panache. This tune is from their 2004 debut Eagle*Seagull.

LSD (Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds remix)
Bassnectar / Insane Bangers
I wrote some in the Paste article just how much I enjoyed the set by DJ Lorin Ashton, aka Bassnectar, an SF/Berkeley artist who I’d never had the thrill of seeing live before. He only played for an hour but I doubt there was a single person there who was not enjoying themselves, stretching that 60 minutes out into what seemed like much longer. Amidst all the flailing dancers, even this guy got into it (and he tried to dance with me but I didn’t want to break him or anything; he looked brittle!):

Ah, Colorado. Anyways, this song was one of the crowd highlights of the set — made better when combined with the delight that Ashton took in watching all of us as he recreated it with his laptops and turntables. I recommend an experience with Bassnectar when he comes through your town.

The Notwist
As previously mentioned on Fuel/Friends, German ambient-indie band The Notwist are finally giving us some new music, and the day is here (er, past). The Devil, You + Me was released June 16 on Domino Records, and I am loving its muted elegance, deceptively urgent percussion, and swirling overall presence. I’d wondered what they had been up to and according to a reader, they’ve been busy with side projects in between 2002′s Neon Golden and the new album. They released an album with spoken-word/rapper Dose One as 13&god in 2005 and some members are also in the Munich band Lali Puna, who released their third album in 2004. But it’s good to hear a full new Notwist album, and I think it will sound especially fitting once the summer heat dies and the crispness of autumn hits the wind.

Song For

There’s a delicious thrum and counteractive pause on this song, almost like holding your breath — an atmospheric sense of foreboding. Named for a small California town halfway between Fresno and Bakersfield (some hot fun to be had out there, let me tell you), Earlimart has been making oft-dreamy tunes for almost a decade. For this new record, the rotating cast of Earlimart whittled down to just Aaron Espinoza (him) and Ariana Murray (her), their graceful harmonies intertwining like a dance. Because of Espinoza’s friendship with the late Elliott Smith, many comparisons will never cease, but he has acknowledged the ways that the friendship influenced his music — here there might be something between the lines, a quality in the timbre and the breath. Hymn and Her is out tomorrow on Shout! Factory.

On My Mind
Irish band Romantica first blipped onto my radar with singer Ben Kyle’s gorgeous duet with Ryan Adams when they opened for him on tour last Fall. A chance encounter with that cover on my iPod this weekend (and the consequential singing along in harmony all the rest of my day) sent me trawling to their MySpace to see what they are up to. On this song, I find the combination of his Irish lilt alongside a very American-heartland brand of music to be simply irresistible, as he sings typical lyrics of desperation and heartache like “You’re too young to get married, honey, you ought to be sleeping around” (listen for that fantastic pronunciation of the final word). Their MySpace lists shared hometowns of Belfast and Minneapolis, and this song sings about MPLS locales like First Avenue with a charming brogue. I’m just getting into their 2004 album It’s Your Weakness That I Want, and you can catch them all this week at Summerfest (4 shows?) if you’re a Milwaukee type.

Also folks . . . it’s a time of change around these parts — I start a new job tomorrow, among other major shifts. Wish me luck! Also, go download “Mover,” a new b-side from The Verve for free this week on their site. It’s a big song.

[top image credit orange32]

March 5, 2008

The Devil, Me, and the Notwist

For a few years now I’ve been wondering what German ambient-indie band The Notwist have been up to. They used to have the world’s most confusing website, a secretive map that left me feeling like I was trying to solve the Cold War with hover-and-click technology. I always failed.

Now their site has been updated to screen a new video of them in the studio — and there’s a new song to go along with it! A mixmaster friend first introduced me to the far-ranging sounds of the Notwist with a tune of hip-shaking easygoing electronica from 2002′s Neon Golden. It sounds as if their new album (The Devil, You + Me) may be moving towards a more direct melodic sound in the way they approach, with a touch less ephemeral ambience. It’s good stuff.

Frontman Markus Acher (one of two brothers in the band) repeats here over a slowly building crest; “Let’s just imitate the real until we find a better one — remember the good lies win.”

Good Lies – The Notwist

And two tracks I really like from Neon Golden:

Consequence – The Notwist
One With The Freaks – The Notwist

Look for their new release in June on Domino Records if you’re in the States. European folks get it sooner (City Slang in Europe in late May) and a bunch of European tour dates as well.

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December 12, 2005

Monday Music Roundup

Well a new week brings new music for y’all. Here are five tracks that I found listen-worthy this week. Let me know what you think! Here’s a secret about all bloggers: we crave your comments, so leave a little note if you feel the urge.

Proclaim Your Joy – Mark Eitzel
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Jangly music and feel-good lyrics in this little ditty (who doesn’t need a little uplifting on Mondays?). Also tongue-in-cheek funny. Mark Eitzel (American Music Club) has a voice which reminds me of Evan Dando’s, so I like it by default. I thought this song had interesting musical footprints to it – it mixes what sounds like banjo with some little electronic touches. Different.

White Daisy Passing – Rocky Votolato
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Here is a new artist I just kinda found on the internet and I really like. Texas-born/Pacific-Northwest-resident Votolato has a new album coming out in 2006 called “Makers,” and this is the first cut off that album. This track has a dreamy feel to it, and if you like it you can download more music from his website. His last two releases, Suicide Medicine and Light and Sound EP, were produced by Chris Walla from Death Cab for Cutie, who also plays various instruments on the albums.

Creep – Damien Rice
My first instinct is to like this cover because I like both Damien Rice and Radiohead, but I am kind of mixed on it as a cover effort because it hasn’t changed much from the original. This song, no matter who is singing it, reminds me of being angst-ridden my freshman year of high school. Oh the drama and alienation inherent in being 14.

Consequence – The Notwist (link expired)
I haven’t heard much other music from these guys, but I very much dig the hazy, lo-fi, laid-back vibe to this track. From their album Neon Golden, which made it onto several reviewers’ lists of best indie albums of 2003/04. I would link you to their site to learn more about them, but lord almighty it is the most confusing thing I’ve seen since I got out of calculus. But don’t hold it against their music.

Blue Suede Shoes (live) – Carl Perkins
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This is so awesome. A fabulous song by an American icon, done live. Can’t sit still. “Goodness gracious alive.” I think I like this original better than Elvis’ better-known rendition. According to Perkins, he wrote this song after a show in Arkansas when he was touring with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash (um, would have loved to see a show on *that* tour!). “Blue Suede Shoes” was recorded December, 1955, and released January 1, 1956 on the Sun label. It is still Perkins best-known contribution to the world of rockabilly music.

ALSO: I have added a new song to my Jeff Buckley Tribute Songs post, thanks to ‘Splean,’ who was very kind to send me the mp3 of the PJ Harvey song “Memphis” about Jeff. Thank you very much and please check it out!

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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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