October 10, 2008

“…Like an addiction — you gotta do that so you can go home happy” :: One Track Mind surf film & music

Woodshed Films is the surf film collaborative through which brothers Chris and Emmett Malloy (along with Tim Lynch, Jack Johnson, and other artists) have turned out artistic surf culture films like Thicker Than Water, Sprout, Brokedown Melody and Shelter.

I appreciate how their work turns a daring eye towards breathtaking natural cinematography, and captures a raw & pure excitement for surfing that I can catch onto even though those damn surfboards have never cooperated with my specific self. Their films succeed at what good filmmaking is supposed to do (what good anything is supposed to do, really — writing, music included): they make you feel the way it feels, and they show you why they love it.

In addition to the graceful arcs of the ocean and the powerful control exerted by the surfers they follow, their films are always accompanied by some fantastic soundtracks. Not surprising since The Malloys are also heavily involved with the Brushfire Records label, which began with Jack Johnson as an outcropping of their film soundtracks. Check the trailer for their new film One Track Mind which premieres on Facebook next week.

Is There A Ghost – Band of Horses

How perfectly does that song align?! The visuals demonstrate all my favorite majestic aspects of that song, the way it shimmers and breaks. Here’s the rest of the One Track Mind soundtrack:

One Track Mind – Soundtrack

Not too shabby.

When I spoke with Mason Jennings back in May, he mentioned that he was working with the Woodshed guys and James Mercer from The Shins on the 2009 film 180° South about the pristine Patagonia region of South America. I’ve been waiting eagerly for that collaboration since then (fueled by the bus-singalong video clip Stereogum featured). You can finally hear some of their joint endeavor now — featuring virtuoso whistling which may or may not be the otherworldy skills of Andrew Bird.

October 12, 2007

Guest post: Chris from North Carolina, redux

In August, I wrote about the fabulous reader Chris from NC who took the time to send me five mix CDs and liner notes, and I posted some of the tracks off the first rock-themed collection.

There were four more discs full of goodness that were left shivering outside the blog love, so I wanted to move on to the next offering for your distinct enjoyment.

On this Friday afternoon, I’ll share a little mini-mix of five excellent selections from mix disc #2, along with his comments, on today’s guest blog. Let me repeat how much I enjoy hearing songs through other people’s ears, filtered through their own experience. Dig these fresh tunes:

Lots of humble opinions, sad songs, and covers

We Will Become Silhouettes – The Shins
Love the Postal Service, but this one’s better

Brilliant Disguise – Elvis Costello
Not so much a fan of Bruce’s version, but I love the lyrics and EC’s delivery. In easily the most surreal conversation of my life, Westerberg once told me you can call him E, but never Declan (his real name). You’ve been warned.

I Figured You Out – Mary Lou Lord
An Elliott Smith song that I could never find him doing. I think I really like this song in no small part because I can hear him singing it in my head.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart – Saint Etienne
Imaginative re-working of the old Neil Young song

More Than I Can Do – Steve Earle
Stalker song sometimes mistaken for a love song, along the lines of “Every Breath You Take.” Only less played out.

September 5, 2007

Do it for the kids, yeah: The Shins, Biz Markie and a band you might remember called Polaris

I was recently reading about this new show on Nick Jr. called Yo Gabba Gabba (not to be confused with Yabba Dabba Doo, or Gabba Gabba Hey) that features all kinds of musical guests like The Aquabats (co-creators and regularly on the show as character voices), The Shins, Mark Mothersbaugh, Biz Markie (who teaches the kids how to beatbox, I love it), The Postmarks, Chad VanGaalen, Mark Kozelek and more.

This sounds like fun — the show just started a few weeks ago and The Shins have made their debut to the hip kid set with a life lesson song called “It’s OK, Try Again.” You can watch them perform it on the Nick Jr site and then learn to draw Wubbzy once you’re finished.

Or listen here -

It’s OK, Try Again (from Yo Gabba Gabba) – The Shins

This new show reminded me of an earlier incarnation of the “Really Good Music For A Kids Show” concept on Nickelodeon, the band Polaris from The Adventures of Pete & Pete in the mid-Nineties. I’ll have to cop to never seeing this show, as I was in high school when it came out (and we never had cable, just rabbit ears — I know!). But thanks to an old tip that I am just remembering, I am enjoying the crisp autumn feelings of the Polaris sound.

The show started with a band fronted by Mark Mulcahy rocking out on your average suburban front lawn:

I recognized Mulcahy’s name from the chapter dedicated to him in Nick Hornby’s Songbook/31 Songs book, about how his song “Hey Self Defeater” made it onto most of Hornby’s mix tapes for friends in one certain year. Mulcahy’s voice is moody and a bit warbly; I find it kinda like Westerberg-meets-Kozelek. It’s effervescent yet bittersweet indie-pop.

Hey, Self Defeater – Mark Mulcahy

The show also featured a gazillion other cool guest stars: Janeane Garafolo as the English teacher, Michael Stipe as the ice cream man, Juliana Hatfield as a lunchlady, Gordon Gano (Violent Femmes) as a substitute math teacher, Patty Hearst as a mysterious neighbor, and Luscious Jackson as the band that played the school dance. Only on TV, right?

So it was a show I’ve never seen but it sounds like I should have. Polaris was the house band, and they originally released a cassette tape in 1995 that you could get only by sending in UPCs from boxes of Frosted Mini-Wheats (oh how I loved those sugary days of kids cereal promotions).

The cassette is now ridiculously impossible to find, but luckily in 1999 Mezzotint Records released a full album from Polaris, including the songs on the original cassette plus 8 more. Here’s a selection, and if you’re feeling nostalgic, or just looking for some good tunes, the CD is for sale here.

[Cassette introduction, read by Older Pete]

“Hi, I’m Pete and the band you’re about to hear is Polaris. They’re three guys: Jersey, Muggy and Harris, who came out of nowhere, disappeared without a trace, and left behind music that’ll steer you clear of danger. So put on some unmatched socks, wipe the crud out of your eyeballs and give a warm welcome to Polaris.”

Hey Sandy (theme song) – Polaris
She Is Staggering – Polaris
Coronado II – Polaris

As Usual - Polaris (bonus song only on the CD, because I like it)

[Closing, read by Older Pete]
Thanks a lot for listening. Remember: everytime you pop in this tape, always point yourself in the direction of these three songs and I guarantee, you’ll never get lost.”

April 22, 2007

The Shins rove the streets of Paris

La Blogotheque has one of the coolest concepts of capturing live music out there, alongside Daytrotter. Both are run by independent music lovers who entice fantastic bands to perform exclusively for them in a natural setting for the enjoyment of their readers via the magic of the internet.

They coax these intimate and laid-back performances from a range of folks, and then share the resulting songs with us. I could not help but smile for this whole bouncy, swirling, impressionistic serenade from The Shins as they walked the streets of the Montmartre district of Paris with their acoustic guitars, like the best kind of strolling troubadours. Sheer brilliance.

Uploaded by lablogotheque

And the audio rip:
Gone For Good (Montmartre acoustic street version) – The Shins

January 30, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

It’s Monday, new music for the week.
“We happy?”
“Yeah, we happy.”

Ol’ 55
Sarah McLachlan
There’s been some Tom Waits love goin’ around in the blogosphere lately (even Jesus loves him, but I guess Jesus loves everybody), which reminded me of one of my favorite covers ever, a Waits song from Sarah McLachlan’s Freedom Sessions. This track was recorded this very late one night/early one morning, after Sarah & her band had been imbibing large quantities of red wine. Not everyone knew the song, so those that did were mouthing chord changes to the others. She sounds better drunk than I do sober. (But oddly enough, not as good as I *think* I sound drunk. Ironic.)

Tiger Man (live)

On their 2003 tour, Eels often opened their show with this Elvis cover, a classic swaggering song of sexual bravado. I can picture Elvis The Pelvis making all the teenage girls scream with this one. With E, not so much, but with his unique sound he can pull it off. Rockin’ good fun from the Ancienne Belgique show. Thanks to Giacomo from www.eelsitalia.com!

These Things
Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions

You may remember Hope Sandoval as the dreamy-velvet voice of Mazzy Star. While Mazzy Star lies dormant, Hope has gone on to release some newer material with her band The Warm Inventions. This track is from her 2002 EP Suzanne. When I listen to this, I picture a voice coming out of a black, black room – like you are sitting somewhere in the dark and suddenly you hear this lolling voice, like a slowly swirling river, out of nowhere. It’s just her and a slow bluesy guitar for most of the song. Very evocative.

The Shins
Flake Music
As Chris puts it, “Way before The Shins were going around changing Natalie Portman’s life in overrated movies, they were Flake Music.” Matthew posted this track by Flake Music (from their 1997 CD When You Land Here, It’s Time To Return) and I have been enjoying its poppy vibe for the last month. Shimmery goodness, as one would expect from they-who-would-become-Shins. And yes, so you’re not confused (or, even worse, accuse me of a typo!) the song is in fact also called The Shins. Whoa.

Why Don’t You Do It For Me?
Big thumping drums and a retro-rockabilly/blues feel to this group distinguishes the 22-20s from the rest of the next-big-thing bands over in Britain today. The 22-20s took their name from a track by Delta bluesman James, and it’s clear from listening to them that these chaps have studied their musical roots. Liam Gallagher (Oasis) has been rumored to have said about music these days, “Everything’s sh*t. Except for the 22-20s.” So there you have it. That may or may not be an incentive for you, but (Liam or no) this is some good stuff in the Heather Browne book. From their self-titled 2005 debut album.

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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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