January 30, 2012

and it is stupid / but it is true

I’ve been transfixed these last few weeks by the snippets of the Vincent Moon film about the Danish band Efterklang, called An Island. The movie was indeed filmed on an island, in the summer, with over 200 musical collaborators for their haunting, magnificent music. I heard about this film late one Oregon night recently, when the rain was pouring outside and I sat, mesmerized by this film from one of my favorite current filmmakers.

Alike – Efterklang

Vincent Moon is best known to me for being the messy, moody, impressionistic mastermind behind not only much of the Blogotheque series, but also so many of my favorite videos from The National. Meeting him once at Noise Pop in San Francisco still ranks as one of my very best nights.

The lyric I chose for the title of this post gets at me in a way I think the film will — that tug between heady intelligence and inherent truth. An Island was filmed in August 2010, released around this time last year, and spurred 1178 private screenings in homes, clubs, common houses, dorm rooms, theaters, parks, and bars all over Europe and the world. The only caveat was that the screening had to be free, and had to bring more than five people to watch together. I like every aspect of that, and am so sorry I missed being part of that community as it was unfolding.

So now I undoubtedly have to get my hands on this full DVD (you can buy it here), as I am generally a fan of transformative island music experiences. I might even host a screening myself outdoors this summer, late to the game but nonetheless inspired. Who’s in?

Also, the word “efterklang” translates from Danish into “echo,” in English. Which just goes to show that the Danes know how to craft themselves some dang fine onomatopoeia.

March 29, 2010

melt on the blue breath of the auctioneers

Released today from the fine folks at La Blogotheque; just exactly what my Monday needed.

Country Disappeared (La Blogotheque) – Wilco

Wilco – Country Disappeared – A Take Away Show

February 4, 2010

Winter in the Hamptons, springtime somewhere in Barcelona

Watching Josh Rouse strum his guitar on a hidden-away Barcelona sidestreet while I ate a Cara Cara orange for breakfast (I accidentally grabbed this variety at the market; it’s rosy pink inside and tastes like sunrises) made today feel like a decadent moment of defiance in wintry February.

I love the new Blogotheque footage by Vincent Moon of Rouse out and about in his (now native) Spain. Rouse blends two songs from his forthcoming El Turista album with one from his 2004 gem Nashville, and it all somehow works together like he was always meant to end up in Spain. His music is consistently satisfying, every time I sit down with him.

I’ve always thought that “Winter in the Hamptons” (ba da da ba da…) also went especially nicely when paired with “Princess on the Porch,” another one from Rouse that I listen to a lot.

I’m always taken by the line, “And baby it’s not you I was searching for, it’s only me…”

Princess on the Porch – Josh Rouse (rarity from Smooth Sounds of Josh Rouse CD)
Winter In The Hamptons – Josh Rouse (from Nashville)

…and this one is still my utter favorite. Four minutes of sublime perfection.

Saturday – Josh Rouse (also from Nashville)

el turistaRouse’s new album El Turista is coming out on March 9th on Yep Roc, and if you head over to this site now, you can stream tracks from the new release, and download a free mp3 of “I Will Live On Islands.” The album just got a 4-star review in Q Magazine, where they call it “a glorious cross-cultural hopscotch game that lands on Spanish lyrics, Brazilian samba, and Cuban beats.”

He mightily impressed me that one time I saw him at the Bluebird with Jason Collett; you should try and catch him on this tour.

December 7, 2009

From a mess, to the masses

It turns out that the new Phoenix album barely missed my top ten this year, but I know I’ve listened to it a whole heck of a lot. In fact, it’s in my car right now and it hasn’t left the player in another one of those weeks-long stints.

It’s catchy and sleek, but there’s weight and depth behind the songs, and you cannot understate the lure of that ephemeral exotic attraction — it’s the same reason American girls like going out dancing with foreign exchange students.

The formidably marvelous filmmaker Vincent Moon recently followed them about in Paris, and as always, the results on La Blogotheque are stunning.

[watch the whole set/3 videos here]

Lisztomania – Phoenix

200px-PhoenixWolfgangPhoenix are from a suburb of Versailles, and their humbly-named fourth album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is out now on V2/Glassnote Records.

January 23, 2009

icy friday nights in january, a glowing Moon, and The National

Kinda like a warm liqueur seeping through the messes of this week, tonight I came across these two National videos and they help ameliorate things. As I wrote after I saw them at Coachella: “The National carved something out of me and put something back in, is the best way I can put it.”

These videos are both shot by Vincent Moon, the amazingly artistic and evocative videographer behind many of the Blogotheque videos (who I got to meet once and totally dorked out over). I love how both of these never quite relent, never quite let you see all the way through the darkness, into something clear.

First, “Abel,” and the chaos of a mind not right:

Side note: I just saw Everything Absent Or Distorted end their set with this last week [read my Denver Post review], and it’s been etched on my brain since then. I’m no Vincent Moon but I wish I’d brought my little digital video camera because it was a phenomenal rendition of a cathartic song.

And then “Baby, We’ll Be Fine,” a song whose lyrics always scrape at me. There’s so much uncertainty in the words, but then these perfect reassurances are offered — even while I sense that the protagonist here needs the reassurance the most.

The good news is I survived this kicker of a week. Baby, we’ll be fine.

May 20, 2008

The National :: “Without Permission” (from The Virginia EP, out today)

The new Vincent Moon-directed film that follows the making of The National‘s 2007 album Boxer is out today. A Skin, A Night offers the gorgeous treatment that this music deserves, making it feel even more special, all wrapped up in moonlight and grainy black and white. The film is being screened at select U.S. locations (and hmmm, should we do a Denver one?) and if you buy it, the DVD comes paired with an excellent collection of 12 rare/demo/unreleased tracks called The Virginia EP.

In addition to collaborations with like a song with Sufjan Stevens recorded at Benny’s Wash ‘N Dry in Brooklyn, some great UK b-sides including one called Santa Clara (which I like to pretend is about my alma mater), and that sublime Springsteen cover I posted in April, there are several home-recording demos and live tracks.

This cover is one of my immediate favorites on the EP — a mournful, quietly sad song written originally by a Bristol-born singer-songwriter named Caroline Martin. It starts with a fill of organ pipes like you just stopped into that little cathedral, and now are not quite sure what for. Maybe to say a prayer for someone, light a candle. Maybe just to sit in the silence.

Quickly the song blossoms within its traditional structure that caused me to wonder at first if this was a reinvention of an old doo-wop tune from a girl group. But there within the simplicity, The National wrenches out new layers of genuine loss and missing someone so much that all you can construct are lines that are three or four words long.

Without Permission (Caroline Martin cover) – The National

well I just don’t know
how you could go
without permission

‘Cause well,
if you’re not there
well i just don’t care
for this omission

Every moment brings me down
when you’re not around
but all i’m asking for
is come back for just one day

where did you go?
and do you now know
how to be happy?

‘Cause here
well it’s pretty clear
when you’re not near me
i am unhappy

Every moment brings me down
when you’re not around
but all i’m asking for
is come back for just one day

I’ll make it worth the while
just to see your smile
that’s all i’m asking for

I’ve come to know
you had to go
without permission

‘Cause it was how
how i wore you down
and how i dragged you ’round
my sore ambition

Every moment brings me down
when you’re not around
but all i’m asking for
is come back for just one day

I’ll make it worth the while
just to see your smile
that’s all i’m asking for

my dear

Originally featured on Caroline Martin‘s debut album I Had A Hundred More Reasons To Stay By The Fire (2005, Small Dog Records)

Order the A Skin, A Night DVD / Virginia EP here


[other Vincent Moon/National work]

March 7, 2008

Crazy French guys, Stephen Malkmus, and the Great American Music Hall

One of the fangirl highlights of my Noisepopping this year was meeting some of the hilariously crazy French guys behind the La Bloqotheque site, home to those dizzyingly wonderful “Concerts A Emporter” (Take Away Shows), which feature exclusive content of musicians in random everyday settings playing their blessed little hearts out.

Whether it’s The Shins on the springtime streets of Paris, The National nestled near a French chapel hidden up in the mountains, or Elvis Perkins serenading from an ornate lobby staircase, each of these is so wonderful that I anxiously await the next one. Therefore it was really hard not to gush like a moron when I met the pretty cool Vincent Moon (did you see his work on the new REM video?) and his enthusiastic associates (bonjour Chryde!).

My french language skills –yeah, not so much . . . but it looks like the Blogotheque team were busy bees during their week in San Francisco. I missed the show with Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks on Wednesday night, but look what they made for us! A montage of off-the-cuff R.E.M. covers, set to panoramic shots of one of the coolest live music venues in San Fran. Ridiculous:

Watch the rest of the Malkmus performances here, and what I can piece together of their other writing on the site almost makes me want to take a French class. Oui.

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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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