The Rich Girls Are Weeping: July 2006

31 July 2006

Ok, so, yeah, we might have missed some of our favorite people and favorite bands at the Pitchfork Festival over the weekend, but goodness, some of those sweaty crowd shots made me quite grateful not to be there! (Heck, we didn't even bother to hit any of the shows in town this weekend either, it really was to bloody hot to do anything productive...) Anyway, there's tons of great Pitchfork recaps and photo grouings floating around -- the coverage at Gaper's Block (from our pal Matt) is quite nice, and Chicagoist's Flickr sets (one, two) are thorough without being overkill.

I've been madly sorting through mp3s for our dj gig at the Chain Drive Wednesday (we're usually strictly vinyl only, but we want to be a bit more au courant at these shows), and as a result have had the opportunity to spend some quality time with a few albums and artists that I'd inadvertently neglected for one reason or another.

There's something really appealing about the Victorian English Gentlemens Club's bizzarely so-retro-they're-positively-futuristic Sparks-meets-Pixies, B52's-meets-Wire vibe. I have to admit, I'm the kind of listener that focuses on the actual instrumentation over lyrical content when I first listen to a band -- so the times when I'm struck by both simultaneously are few and far between. Frontman Adam's vocals are positively caustic, but they grow on you, I promise; the rhythm section of Louise on bass and Emma on drums pack a real impressive punch -- send me anyone who says that girls can't rock out, and these ladies will set them straight. And really, they all have fantastic style as well:



The Victorian English Gentlemens Club -- Stupid as Wood
The Victorian English Gentlemens Club -- Cannonball


I can't believe I've been sitting on this Max Tundra track from his Tomlab alphabet series 7" release for as long as I have, it's kind of embarassing -- it's a 1989 cover of The KLF's "What Time Is Love" -- if you're a fan of Mr. Tundra's work, it's kind of neat to know he was already ripping songs up by covering them back when he was 16! And, as an aside, I can't encourage you more heartily to check out the Tomlab alphabet 7" series overall -- especially if you're a fan of great design and/or of bleeding edge music that defies genre classification.

Max Tundra -- What Time Is Love


This is turning into a rather UK-focused post, not through any particular agenda. The Veils Nux Vomica (yes, they named their album for the plant that produces strychnine, due out Sept. 11) is the total sleeper hit of my summer -- along with The French Kicks' Two Thousand, but we've already talked quite enough about that... It's a deliciously coherent and creepy album, just a little turn around the corner from the band's slightly more upbeat (but still rather moody and dark) debut, The Runaway Found. And yes, like some other bands with new offerings lately (namely The Sills), The Veils underwent a big personnel change after a post-debut implosion (sidebar: could Band of Horses be headed for something similar), but everything seems to be working out just fine with the new personnel. Here's a few new tracks and an old favorite.

The Veils -- Advice For Young Mothers To Be
The Veils -- Pan
The Veils -- The Tide That Left and Never Came Back


Goodness, look at me, being all legit-mp3 blogger-like with this post. I suppose I should throw in that Pinkie and I managed to put together some really awesome new outfits on the cheap this weekend (because, honestly, rich girls we ain't, lately) and spent way too much time gossiping and knitting and watching movies -- like the director's cut of Legend, which I'd never seen. Boy, if you really want to put how bonkers Tom Cruise has become in perspective, just watch that flick...

But the highlight of the weekend was probably when we had to spend an extra 10 minutes at the video store because they were playing the Guns'n'Roses video collection, and "November Rain" was on. I'd forgotten what a magnificently underrated work of art that video is... (But, is that Riki Rachtman diving through the cake?)

28 July 2006

First things first: I bitched and moaned about how I wouldn't be caught dead at the Pitchfork Music Festival -- now I'm considering doing something very rash, like getting in the car Ted and driving the 17 hours to Chicago RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND so I can make it to the Mountain Goats set just in the nick of time and then collapse in exhaustion after Art Brut while deciding whether to see Matmos or Teddy Leo. Sadly, there's really no way, feasable or not, to make it in time to make it to the opening party with Voxtrot, The Joggers, and Sunset Rubdown tonight, though. Dang!

Seriously, what was I thinking? Nearly everyone (and I mean everyone) I know is there. Friends who live elsewhere, Austin pals, fellow bloggers, friends in bands, my biggest secret indie rockstar crush (*sigh*) -- they're ALL there -- probably hanging out in the VIP tent drinking POM together, too, even. So, just know I'm rocking out in spirit with you, kids. Feel free to call me and hold up the phone at key moments or drunk dial me at the end of the night from one of those crazy afterparties. You know what I'm talking about! (And really, don't get me started on how maybe we should have made plans to go to Lollapalooza, too.)

Moving on: I have a huge ego -- this may not surprise you. Seriously huge -- but only about one thing, really: The quality of my writing. But there's a few people who really put me to shame on a regular basis, and one of them is Sean from Said the Gramophone.

Wait, let me back up a bit. The thing about being a loathsome hipster tastemaker is that you can't do it alone -- though people come to me for recommendations, often I'll hear of a band that totally blows me away from a friend, and it seriously makes me wonder if I'm even a tenth as awesome as I think I am. But the reality is that one can't know every fantastic band in every city around the world -- though one would certainly like to try and be that knowledgeable. (Heck, there's even Austin bands I'm only hearing about now, you know? It's impossible sometimes.) But I digress. Back to Sean.

A few months ago he wrote about seeing The Hussy's (yes, that's not a grammatical error) open for The Research. Did I listen to them then? I can't remember. Maybe? But it doesn't really matter as yesterday my work pal Adi emailed me a few tracks from The Hussy's, forwarded to him by his friend Alex in the UK. I was totally charmed.

Generally, gimmicky songs full of pop-culture references are anethema to me. And a song about Napoleon Dynamite, a movie I find completely loathsome, should send me screaming, right? The thing is, it doesn't. The Hussy's are catchy, clever, polished without being overly slick and inaccessable -- Sean said they were like Avril Lavigne in a tryst with Beulah, which is a semi-horrifyingly vivid mental image, actually, but pretty spot-on. Which is to say, such a comparison is quite a compliment in my mind -- you do know that my signature karaoke tune is "Complicated," right? And that I bemoan the break up of Beulah at least once a week? Both of these facts are completely true.

The Hussy's -- Rock Show
The Hussy's -- Tiger


If you want to hear "Napoleon Dynamite," check out The Hussy's Myspace page and/or buy an EP (if you're in the UK, they don't currently ship internationally).

Other finds of interest this week:
The melancholy, melodramatic piano-pop of Jeremy Warmsley, RIYL Rufus Wainwright and Jens Lekman. Dog Problems, the fantastic second album from The Format, who, like The Walkmen and I, have Harry Nilsson on the brain. Dog Problems may very well turn out to be this year's American Idiot -- which is to say, the album I obsess over that surprises everyone. J. Frank Parnell offers some Prefab Sprout, and their modern-day offspring, The Changes. I had very polite, well-written (always important!) emails from the boys in The Cherry Tempo (who are from my old haunt, Santa Fe, NM, no less) and local lads Ghost of the Russian Revolution, both of whome I believe are worth checking out. Oh, and. Please don't tell, but I have a big crush on Mew. Can you tell it's summer? I'm all about the big, shiny, heartfelt, and uabashedly sincere pop these days.

Jeremy Warmsley -- Jonathan and the Oak Tree
The Cherry Tempo -- Wake Up! Gertrude Stein


Confidential to the person(s) who have Overhyped -- please keep posting, I miss you!

And, if this doesn't make you nostalgic for the good ol' days, I don't know what will: John Roderick from The Long Winters and Sean Nelson, formerly of the Long Winters and back with his mainline gig, Harvey Danger (their album, Little by Little, was re-released on Kill Rock Stars this week), interview each other for Three Imaginary Girls. In a swanky steakhouse. Classic!


Photo: Aubrey Edwards // Model: Sean // Location: Emo's Front Room

And now, for the announcements. First of all, Pinkie and I (thanks to Terry!) will be DJing at the Chain Drive on first and third Wednesdays -- our first gig is this upcoming Wednesday, August 2nd. We'll entertain you with a fine array of delectable musical delights before, between, and after sets from Denton's toy piano-loving up-and-comers Teenage Symphonies, Economy, and The Shells. We are also planning an as-yet unnamed (though we have a really good contender) Sunday night residency (second and fourth Sundays) at the swank-a-riffic pride of the Eastside, the Peacock. We're also, yes, planning on holding the next Love and a .45 there in September -- stay tuned for details on both of those events!

27 July 2006

All you really need to universally understand my taste. Well -- this and the information that most of my favorite albums in the whole world are 30-plus years old -- except for that s/t Echo & The Bunnymen album and Ted Leo's entire ouevre. But I digress.

Yes, if there's a record I might be in danger of wearing out, it's Harry Nilsson's The Point. I searched for ages to get a good copy on vinyl, though a remastered version was released on CD a few years back. It was about the familiarity and nostalgia factor -- I must have spent hours listening to this record as a kid, singing the songs with my parents. It's quite special.

My mom sent me these tracks to replace the corrupted "Me and My Arrow" that I posted the other day. She noted that to get the full effect, you actually need the first three tracks from the album. She's quite right about that...

Harry Nilsson -- The Point -- Everything's Got 'Em
Harry Nilsson -- The Point -- The Town (narrated)
Harry Nillson -- The Point -- Me and My Arrow


And, as a bonus, Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl in Robert Altman's Popeye, scored by Nilsson. You may remember this song from its appearance in the criminally underrated PT Anderson film Punch-Drunk Love.

Shelley Duvall -- He Needs Me

[sidebar: more Nilsson's been posted recently at I Guess I'm Floating (along with a cover from The Format) and Green Pea-ness]

...and one for just because: DFA remixes Le Tigre. I like about 3 Le Tigre songs, and this is one of 'em. Furthermore, this particular work by the DFA is an exemplary remix -- especially the ridiculous breakdown right at the 4:10 mark.

Le Tigre -- Deceptacon (DFA Remix)

Oh, and a special addition -- DJ Paul V. who does the Smash Mix on LA's Indie 103 sent this over, which was very sweet of him -- Peaches + Gary Glitter equals a bizzaro sparkle-fest of epic proportions, all in homage to Joan Jett, of course. Hear more mashup goodness on his Myspace page, too.

DJ Paul V. -- Peaches vs. Gary Glitter -- I Didn't Know The Boys Want To Be Her



Yes, indeed, it's a short post today; I'm all kinds of busy over here. However, we have grand news of upcoming doings that I'll save to announce tomorrow.

26 July 2006

Speaking of interesting videos... Everyone's aware that Devotchka are totally posed attain Shins-like success, due to the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack action, right? (I mean, have they been profiled on NPR yet? Because that would totally cement it... Check it, in 2005, even!) I mean, both the film and the band are like a perfect storm of respectable, gentle quirkiness that can attain a modicum of mainstream success.

I just wanted to get that out there now, you know. If I'm wrong, well, I'll bake y'all some cupcakes or something. (Pinkie and I make hella good cupcakes, just ask the glitterati of the indie rock world!)

Um, is that Kelly Osbourne? She's a Ladyhawk fan? And who's her trashy hipster friend with the lovely eyeshadow? Confused! (Nice to see her uh, drinking Stella, though. Hmmm.) Still, an interesting video nonetheless. Ladyhawk, "My Old Jackknife."

The slow burn. I first heard the Candy Bars' album, On Cutting Ti-Gers In Half And Understanding Narravation, earlier this year (via Said the Gramophone and EIPI and Stereogum) in March -- I probably didn't take much notice as I should have, honestly, because this was during the SXSW (and post-SXSW) heyday, and though I found the band pretty and strangely compelling, they didn't exactly grab me and shake me up in any significant way. Then, oddly enough, the other morning, I woke up with a snippet of one of their songs in my head.

Talk about delayed reaction!

Anyway, here's a nice little profile from Tampa's Weekly Planet to get you started, in case you missed the buzz the first time around (or the second round in May...).

Yes, the Candy Bars are from Florida (really, not exactly a hotbed of indie dream pop action, you know...), and there's more than a little of fellow Floridian Iron and Wine's influence present, which isn't as dull as you might expect. Other writers seem to be quite fond of namechecking the Beatles -- probably because of that modified variation-on-a-theme motif on "Landscape" that echoes "Norwegian Wood" reimagined with flamenco guitars and harpsichords and latin percussion -- and the Beach Boys -- probably because of that twinkles-and-harmony, Carole Kaye-esque bass line'd breakdown with a side of sleighbells in the middle of "Violets" that's reminiscent of the best moments of Pet Sounds. Ambitiouous? You bet. And the rest of On Cutting Ti-Gers In Half And Understanding Narravation shoots for the stars as well. Because there's so much more going on here than just an extensive catalog of influences -- here's a band doing something charmingly, unselfconciously new and beautiful without falling into a lot of the traps that plague baby bands. It's impressive, to say the least.

I know can get stuck on remixes of trendy bands and post-electro pop and wax poetic on the virtures of Spoon, The Wrens, Interpol, and The Mountain Goats incessantly whilst simultaneously tugging your sleeve, reminding you to give The Arm and Shearwater a listen and dancing around to Kylie and Christina and Goldfrapp and all that kind of thing sometimes, but what I'm looking for -- what I imagine we're all looking for, really -- is music we can connect with on an emotional level.

I hear a lot of pretty good music daily, and a lot of really crappy music daily, but the kind that hits you where you live, well -- that's a rarity. Once a year, maybe every six months? The past few months had been pretty barren for me -- I was worried that I was experiencing symptoms of extreme overexposure and that I'd become immune to feeling anything more than and "eh, this is okay" response to new bands I'd nowt heard before. And well, not to be totally cheezeball about it, all that changed when I gave the Candy Bars another listen the other morning. I'm not really all that bothered with the fact that they're a buzz band, or overhyped, they're just plain good, and I hope you think so too.

Candy Bars -- Landscape
Candy Bars -- Violets (via New Granada Records)
Candy Bars -- Lovesong Lake
Candy Bars -- Enough to Choke a Cold Air (via New Granada Records)


(buy a copy of On Cutting Ti-Gers In Half And Understanding Narravation direct from New Granada Records)

ps -- Superexciting! A (surprisingly) work-safe trailer for John Cameron Mitchell's long-delayed "sex project" film, Shortbus, set to the dulcet tones of The Hidden Cameras.

pss -- For the record, there were a bunch of great records released this week, not the least of which were The Long Winters' Putting the Days to Bed, Midlake's The Trials of Von Occupanther (they've really ditched that Flaming Lips manqué for good, thank heavens, but have picked up a Gram Parsons/Neil Young one instead, which is totally fine with me), and the Silversun Pickups' Carnavas. Less interesting are the offerings from White Whale (I thought I called a kibosh on anymore prog-country-emo bands fronted by ex-emo dudes?) and Say Hi To Your Mom (currently neck-and-neck with Sam Champion for the honor of most mind-numbingly boring buzz band...) Biggest surprise: Mika Miko's C.Y.S.L.A.B.F.

psss -- Say what you will about the Village Voice's Robert Christgau, but his 32-shows-in-30-days directive was impressive, to say the least.

25 July 2006

It seems like I don't rant in this space as much as I used to, but something today has totally sent me over the edge. I think it was the last two bands that tried to friend me on myspace, and it got me thinking about other things, namely:

I'm almost 100% sure Spiraling could be huge (50,000 friends on Myspace can't hurt), and even make more than one good record. It's just so painful to listen to -- and I would have fallen for this kind of thing hook, line, and sinker five or six years ago. They're a basically a charmless, low-rent Fountains of Wayne-meets-Ben Folds Five kind of band. And frighteningly, I seem to be using that analogy a lot lately. I've also become completely intolerant of awkward and trite lyrics. What's funny is that Spiraling have an amazingly slick sound, but not the website to match, which is also something I'm intolerant of in this day and age.

For some reason, Spiraling makes me think of young Aussies Youth Group, who are doing a much better job of integrating the Coldplay + Phantom Planet aesthetic (and not just because of that "O.C." appearance, either) -- and they have a bitchin' rhythm section that makes the music actually interesting to listen to. And sometimes a simple lyric is better than a belabored, and too-clever-to-actually-be-clever lyric.

Which brings me to the incredibly disappointing new single from Ben Kweller, "Penny on the Train Track." His last album was a real letdown, and this track doesn't give me hope for his latest, due out next month. I've been following Ben since the Radish days (ha! remember that?), but I just don't feel like his songwriting is progressing -- or rather, that it's progressing in a direction that I'm comfortable with. I kind of feel the same way about his buddy Ben Lee, who's also suffering from some sort of lyrical identity crisis; however, the aforementioned Ben Folds is still going strong (I was totally charmed by his soundtrack for Under The Hedge...). On the other hand, they do fantastic work when they're all together...

The Bens -- Wicked Little Town (Tommy Gnosis Version, Hedwig and the Angry Inch cover)

Tracking the recent blog-0-sphere blowup for the sweet pop offerings of The Bicycles and Kite Flying Society has been interesting as well. The Bicycles seem to suffer from the same consistency issues that The Apples in Stereo did, mining that same aesthetic territory -- which is to say, there's two or three songs that are incredibly solid, and the rest are just plain bad with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. However, the top bloggers are all over this shit: Chromewaves, YANP, *sixeyes, Said the Gramophone -- all totally guilty for pushing quality bubblegum retro pop in the past, but they're slipping up here. (Frank at Chromewaves posted the band first, back in May, and I remember barely getting through the first 30 seconds before trashing "Longjohns and Toques" in disgust.) For instance, "B-b-b-bicyles" starts strong with a pseudo-White Stripes conceit -- which is to say, it doesn't even really reference 60's pop, but its antecedent, and then collapses in on itself and becomes unlistenable mush (where'd that hook go?) in the later verses -- never a good sign. "Gotta Get Out" is saved by the rollicking horns and generally stable trajectory -- it teeters close to crashing and burning, but manages to squeak through the finishline relatively unscathed. "Cuddly Toy" manages only to work on a very supervificial level because it's a cover; usually I'd be happy someone was covering The Monkees (who were covering, sort of, Harry Nilsson, who wrote the song) with so much vivacity, but the presentation is so artfully constructed that it sucks all the life out of that charming song.

Meanwhile, I absolutely hated Kite Flying Society (ref. Rushmore) on the first few listens, but I'm slowly coming around. The outright Shins-iness was what really turned me off at first, but really, deep down, I'm a sucker for this kind of thing when done well -- that is, delicate, sugarspun songs on acoustic guitar with spiralling backing vocals. And when a band specifically lists Harry Nilsson's The Point as an influence, I'm pretty much lost. I hope nice things happen for these kids, because they sure have the potential. See, I'm not always mean...

Harry Nilsson -- Me and My Arrow
(file corrupted)

And, I really should let you know this right now: I really don't like The Knife, never have -- and it's been confusing me for years. Am I missing something? Since the rise of the most recent buzz, I've been trying for months to figure them out. Remixes help, especially that new Ratatat one of "We Share Our Mother's Health," but feel like I'm missing something major here. Can someone clue me in? Or is the emperor really not wearing any clothes, and no one wants to say anything about it?
An entry to remind you of the relevance of the mashup, among other things. The DJs of the party hearty Car Stereo (Wars), an off-shoot of local hard-working design collective Super!Alright and arty rockers Single Frame, have recieved all kinds of accolades for their recent mashups featuring local up-and-coming dancepunkers Ghostland Observatory. And for good reason, they're slickly mixed examples of that hip-hop over indie rock phenomeon that's gained a whole lot of traction in the Austin dance party market (and I imagine elsewhere, too -- Girl Talk, anyone?) lately. Listen to or download "Ghostface Observatory" and "Ghostland Gets Bossy" at their Myspace page.

And, it's always nice to get an email that DJ Earworm has a new mashup: His latest offering, "Paula's Smoking Kelly's Doobie," brilliantly blends Paula Abdul's "Cold-Hearted Snake," Kelly Clarkson's "Walk Away" garnished with The Doobie Brothers' "Long Train' Running" (love that hot guitar lick) and Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water." Classy!

DJ Earworm -- Paula's Smoking Kelly's Doobie

And we would be remiss if we didn't mention Party Ben's pumpy-thumpy take on the "Crazy" mashup craze: Party Ben -- I Feel Crazy (Gnarls Barkley vs. Donna Summer)

Furthermore, as an advocate of the artful creation of mashed-up mixes, but completely without posession of the time to make any of my own, I offer the follwing tools. If you use either of these tracks for a brilliant mix, send them over! Hmm, maybe I should hold a contest...

Yeah Yeah Yeahs -- Cheated Hearts (Instrumental)
The Spinto Band -- Oh Mandy (Instrumental)


Oh, and while we're on the subject, I was surprised to find that this remix of AFI's "Miss Murder," as presented by those gothy (in that glammy Bauhaus meets Placebo correction: futurepop kind of way) Germans VNV Nation, was surprisingly good. "Miss Murder" is about the weakest track on AFI's otherwise quite arresting Decemberunderground, and this chilly remix really perks it up quite a bit, shaving out the worst of the rickety shout-along chorus.

AFI -- Miss Murder (VNV Nation Remix)


Unrelated sidebar: Gorilla Vs. Bear's posted Marissa Nadler's lovely and melancholy song "Daisy and Violet," which is concerned with one of my odder obscure interests: conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. Born in Brighton in 1908, they were a hit on on the American vaudeville circut in the 1020's and 1930's and lived in San Antonio for a time, appeared in two films (Freaks and Chained for Life) and came to a sad and tragic end in 1969, when, abandoned by their manager and working in a grocery store in Charlotte, NC, they perished from influenza. Definitely worth a listen...

24 July 2006

And it's all clear to me now -- the proper way to style Sound Team's name in text. Not SOUNDteam or SoundTEAM or SoundTeam, but Sound Team -- because People magazine is clearly the authority on correct usage. Or something. And oh, okay, so this is what all that marketing money was going towards. Believe me, a review in People really isn't anything to sneeze at; what you can't see is that on the previous page, the lead review was the new Tom Petty album. I found this flipping through People in the grocery check-out line -- so sue me, I wanted to read about Sandy and Jesse. I think they're about the most adorable celeb couple ever. Also, this just in: Oprah's not gay. But I digress.

This is also when it should come clear to you as well, fellow indie music fans and music bloggers, that the Sound Team album isn't aimed at you as a consumer. To repeat: You are not the target audience, but I bet Capitol thanks you oh-so-very-kindly for building that grassroots buzz! (You did catch that, right? Okay, just checking.)

ps -- We totally overheard someone complaining to the clerks at Waterloo about the price of the album ($18.98, if you'll recall...) over the weekend. It's not discounted there, apparently -- which I find really interesting, since they go to great efforts to discount new titles from local artists.

For my Austin peeps -- join us tomorrow at Red Eyed Fly and check out Miranda Sound, one of the first bands signed to Rob from donewaiting.com's label, Sunken Treasure. Miranda Sound brings the smart, breezy indie pop action with a heaping helping of old school emo (not that new crap that calls itself emo -- think early Jimmy Eat World and Promise Ring) -- which is to say there's a little more kick from the rhythm section than their more milquetoast counterparts. Anyway, they're promising, even if the lyrics can be a bit clunky and stilted now and then. Miranda Sound are crossing the country right now, if you're not in Austin, catch one of their other dates near you.

Miranda Sound -- The Lull of Youngstown

22 July 2006

In an optimal environment, I totally would have posted this before Dodge from MOKB. Oh well. He'll get the cease-and-desist first, then. Ha!

Ladies and gents, put your uh, non-dancing shoes on for the first leaked track from the new Scissor Sisters album, due out later in the fall (September-ish). There's some HAWTT pictures of them, and Rufus Wainwright, in the latest ish of Interview btw. I saw it at the store today...

Wikipedia tells me that Elton John plays keys on this track, and Baby Daddy plays the banjo. Mmmmm. Baby Daddy. Oh, sorry. My inner fag was uh, really excited about that. You know, banjos and Baby Daddy and all. Sorry. Carry on!

Oh, oh! I forgot to tell you, this kind of sounds like ELO meets ... the BeeGees. Or something. I think it's fantastic.

Scissor Sisters -- Don't Feel Like Dancing
[eta 7/24/06: Hope you got this over the weekend, the file's been taken down by the fine folks at YouSendIt. However, looks like you can still get it from MOKB, maybe ezarchive is less ... easily persuaded.]

21 July 2006

Too many meetings and too much cake. I haven't been able to gather my wits about me today to get a post together until right this very moment, please forgive me.

this.bigstereo.net is my new favorite place from which to gank quality dance punk, electro, remixes, and references to Bitch LapLap. RchrdOh? and Travis post a winner practically every day, rendering me incapable of leaving comments other than '!!!!!!!' and 'BEST EVER!' -- so professional, I know. They also have the best tag categories ever. Biggest, newest favorite from the BigStereo boys? The Van She -- imagine Fountains of Wayne meets ... Wolfmother? Remixable Australian power pop with cajones cojones, my friends. Yeah-huh! Also: A Portugal. The Man remix from Blake Miller of Moving Units and the wonders of Spektrum, who I'd kind of forgotten about (it's been a while!).

Van She -- Kelly (Alan Braxe & Fred Falke Remix) [also, the video, which has an odd post-modern cinema verite feel to it and I doubt they would ever air it in the US...]

And, this is especially for Miss Pinkie Von Bloom, 'cause she asked and I thought, ok hey, the kids in blogland might like this too. Obscure punk name-checking 101: Elton Mortello's "Jet Boy Jet Girl" vs. Plastic Bertrand's "Ca Plane Pour Moi" -- same musicians, different singer. And uh, subject matter. A tip directly from us: the next time you hear "Ca Plane Pour Moi" in someone's DJ set (*ahem*) -- holler the "Jet Boy Jet Girl" lyrics -- especially the "HE GIVES ME HEAD!!!" bit -- over those silly French ones. You'll be the most popular kids at the party. Promise! Or, well, the most daring ones at least...

Plastic Bertrand -- Ca Plane Pour Moi
Elton Mortello -- Jet Boy Jet Girl


Oh, and don't tell anyone, but I think I may actually like latest buzzy UK import Boy Kill Boy (CAN'T! MISS! THOSE! BANNER! ADS! EVERYWHERE!), which is clearly horrifically embarassing. Like I said, don't tell...

20 July 2006

Sometimes it behooves you to revisit things you really love that may have been put by the wayside in favor of things new and flashy. I'm not sure why I got on a jag to listen to The National today, but that's pretty much what I've done for the past few hours. Listening to their self-titled debut album, I'm amazed, in comparison to the huge number of debut albums I listen to nowadays, how incredible it was -- and even more spectacularly, how much they've grown and developed since then.

I didn't think that much of The National before last year, despite all the buzz -- and yet they made the last half of 2005 bearable for me -- and I'm really not exaggerating when I say that. I just didn't get them until I saw the live show. (Much like my experience with The Wrens...) Not to be melodramatic, I credit them for opening up a floodgate holding back a serious amount of pent-up emotions I'd been carrying with me for years.

Thing one: Vincent Moon's gorgeous video for "Sons and Daughters of the Soho Riots." I'd love to know more about the technicalities of this video (cameras and film stock used, etc.), though I assume it's probably 16mm and not Super8...



Thing two: More from Vincent Moon, live videos from Paris in late 2005. (his site) (youtube: about today, abel, baby we'll be fine)

Thing three: A few songs.

The National -- Mr. November
The National -- Cardinal Song
The National -- 90-Mile Water Wall
The National -- Son


(even! more! at their site! wasp nest/slipping husband/murder me rachael/cold girl fever)

***

The National is playing the Pitchfork Music Festival next weekend (along with like, a huge number of my other favorite bands), a festival in France in September, and a limited number of dates across the country in October. More info at their site.

ps -- OMG, they're just silly. Love it. These are, after all, the men who gave me a cut-out of Bono's nose from the cover of Rolling Stone...

19 July 2006

Dear Sasha Frere-Jones:

I'm writing this in response to this article, and your requests for testimonials.

I'm just speaking for myself here, and my cohort Pinkie has her own tales of record-store lurkings, but I just wanted to let you know that I am that rare creature: A girl, chatty and sociable, who hangs out in record stores. I stopped to think about this recently, and realized I've done this since I was in high school. I've never once been in a kerfuffle with a music retail drone (though I did snap at a boy in a comic book store once who was being a total mysogynist asshat, but that was years ago...). To the contrary, and this is just one example: I remember disarming one extremely cute clerk at a store in my hometown once -- drumming my recently-acquired acrylic nail set on the glass display counter and moistening my rouged lips -- slowly, mind you -- at occasional intervals, in what I hoped was a sexy affectation, patiently explaining to him the merits of mid-career Roxy Music. It worked. I was drunk on that power for days.

There were other stores; the five independents (not to mention the Tower Records outlet) within walking distance of the University of Texas in the mid-90's (they're all gone now). All the boys (because yes, no girls worked in the shops, though there was occasionally one behind the counter at the Tower, but she just ran the register, the "real" experts were always at the customer service counter) knew my name, and they'd always pull out something from behind the counter that they'd saved for me, as most were used-CD and record emporiums with an extremely high turnover of merchandise. I never thought I was special, but I guess maybe I was? Had I tamed the savage music retail beast with my eager smiles and encyclopedic brain?

[interlude: spoon -- anything you want, which namechecks austin's much-mourned sound exchange]

These days, I'm lucky to be able to shop at two great stores in Austin, End of an Ear and Waterloo -- and there's others where I'm equally comforable: Friends of Sound, DJ Dojo, BackSpin Records, Snake Eyes Vinyl. End of an Ear is my favorite -- the owners formerly had another store that was also a hallowed haunt, 33 Degrees, where clerks would lovingly mock your purchases and rib your sub-par taste. I stop at End of an Ear for no reason and every reason as it's very near my house -- and the highest honor was afforded me the other Saturday afternoon, when the owner asked me to recommend a few items for a customer with very specific needs. I felt like I'd been initiated into some special secret organization.

I also occasionally shop at record shops in NYC. I love Kim's and Downtown Music Gallery and Etherea, but mostly I only go to Other Music on Sundays. See, an old friend is usually "the asshole at the door" Sunday afternoons, and since I'm not a regular there yet, I need the other clerks to see that I know him so they'll take me seriously. You may laugh, but such are the subtleties of music store clerk relations. (Of course, you can also go the route of buying some weird, rare vinyl, or asking them to get something cherished out of the case or off a high shelf, but then you have to be ready to discuss said item. And possibly defend it. And possibly be ready to stay in said shop for a few hours whilst doing so.)

I have a point here: It seems to me that the independent record store's death has been widely reported for years, but still they manage persist. The death knells came from MTV, the big box store, now it's iTunes and illegal downloading. Yet the stalwarts hang on, thank goodness. Then again, I know I'm just lucky to live in a city that can support a goodly number of music retailers. Yes, I download and can chat music esoterica with people around the world, but nothing, nothing, nothing will ever replace holding a long-sought after record in my hands, discussing it with someone who, yes, will gladly take my money and enable my bad habit, but who is also a fellow collector, a fellow total super music nerd.

Long live music retail, may it not fade too soon.

Best,
Cindy Hotpoint

Final Fantasy: He Poos Clouds

This video has a zoetrope in it. And Owen Pallett. Therefore, it rules the universe. Final Fantasy's "He Poos Clouds."

Hey, I could be posting Gym Class Heroes' "New Friend Request," but I'm not... (oh, modern romance!)
You're in the doldrums. Hello readers popping in from The Morning News! They've called us out again for one of our past selections (yay, thank you!), Ratatat's "Tacobel Canon," and in that endearing way that makes me feel about oh, two feet tall, Mr. Womack reminds us all that Ratatat take a great amount of insipiration from Brian Eno and Robert Fripp (or, as Aurelio Valle and Pete Gannon would say, "Guitars that sound like kazoos!") and then offers a download of Eno's take on Pachebel’s Canon, "Brutal Ardour," which you know, I should have done, given my well, uh, well-known Eno obsession.

See? I mean wow. Can I just like, step into that picture? Where's the magic time machine or fairy glam-mother when you need 'em? Never around! Hrmph!

Ok, so to atone, how about a side by side comparison of Ratatat and Eno?

Brian Eno -- Here Come the Warm Jets

Ratatat -- Lex

Which reminds me, I was googling around the other day for a clue as to what other people think Eno's "Baby's On Fire" is about (because ok, yes, I do stuff like that...like this is at all shocking!). I've always thought it was about the vain, vain ways of a papparazi-hounded starlet and her "friends," but really, who knows with Eno. Anyway, I found something kind of disturbing: Some people hear the opening line of "Cindy Tells Me" as "Cindy tells me the rich girls are leaving..." Personally, I don't think that's what it is (obvs), but, again, as this is Eno, does it really matter which you hear? I suppose if you try to do some kind of close reading of the text, it does, but otherwise, not really. It's all about words that sound neat together. Right? Well, don't worry, we're not changing the name of the blog, promise.

Which reminds me, you may have noticed that depravedfangirls.org is down -- we're in the process moving everything over to fourinchesfromthecuff.com, so it might be MIA for a few days -- sorry about that.

If I didn't know better, I'd think this was a Pitchfork review. Because it's only comprehensible if you've done close readings of the lyrics of the last few offerings from Interpol and The Walkmen. So I can't tell, then, if the author is mocking me for knowing that, mocking himself for actually being able to write in that mode, or both.

Oh, and that Hold Steady b-side, "Curves and Nerves," they've got up for downloading on the MySpace? Um, there's a reason it's a discarded b-side. It's quite possibly the worst thing they've committed to tape. Sometimes we forget that there's a reason tracks fall by the wayside in the recording process. (Sorry, Brian. I know you liked it...) Those remixes they've got up are pretty questionable too. Eeesh.

Before we part ways, dearlings, one last thing -- it was inevitable, you knew it: Christina Aguilera remixes. <3

Christina Aguilera -- Ain't No Other Man (Sam998899's Underground Remix Radio Edit)

Christina Aguilera -- Ain't No Other Man (JNX's ''U Got Tekhno Soul'' Edit)


And oh, I lied. This is the last thing. The Ballet! BRKLN VGN said they were for fans of "Voxtrot, The Smiths, Belle & Sebastian, The Magnetic Fields and other 'sissy pop'...." This is slightly alluded to in the comment thread of the post, but never clearly stated: Babies, the "sissy pop" referenced in the band's Myspace URL might be more along the lines of, um, The Hidden Cameras, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, and yes, The Magnetic Fields. Do we see the pattern here? *ahem* Lots of mp3s at their site, check it out! Rather good! (New Yorkers: They have a release party for their new effort "Mattachine!" (ref: Mattachine Society) slated for the 21st at Magnetic Field in Brooklyn, and play the Cake Shop on the 23rd.)

18 July 2006

Not just one Frida Hyvönen video, but two Frida Hyvönen videos! (For "The Modern" and "I Drive My Friend," respectively, below.) Brilliant! (RIYL: Joanna Newsom, Regina Spektor, Rickie Lee Jones) Not only is she touring with Jens Lekman now, but will be touring with The Concretes later this year. Can't wait!




So, I guess today's mostly a news-y tidbit kind of day. First off, TRGAW pal Kate in London has started a Flickr pool for pictures of people asleep in nightclubs; go add your pics of drowsy rockers!

There was a piece on Sunday in the NYT about Russian chanson, which is sort of like the Russian version of gangsta rap, mostly for its realistic portrayals of street life and its ability to piss off music snobs and politicians, for starters. Russian chanson, not to be confused with the French kind, natch, has a long history as the vehicle for political songwriting in Russia; it's been banned off and on since the Revolution, through the Soviet era, and in current times as well.
Aficionados say it has become the ultimate crossover genre, with Johnny Cash-type singing about sin and redemption, a Spice Girls-style girl-group singing about girlish antics, and a remarkable number of very tough-looking, thick-necked middle-aged men in gold chains singing about a mother’s love. (The genre’s popularity has even spurred an indie backlash, including “Gulag Tunes,” a version of Stalin-era prison songs set to surf music and produced by a music critic who derides Russian chanson as the déclassé music of “drivers and security guards.”)

I've enjoyed some of the stuff I've heard on the Losopoval website -- there's gobs of mp3s on this page.

To me, Russian chanson sounds -- literally and figuratively -- a whole lot like Mexican narcocorrido, which also usually immediately draws comparisons to gangsta rap as well. There's some great .wma format samples up at Chalino Sanchez' website, they're definitely worth checking out. Sanchez was pretty much the trailblazer of narcocorrido; gunned down at the prime of his career, he's the genre's Tupac Shakur, if you will.

Occasionally you encounter a blogger who makes you feel wholly inadequate: Locust St.'s sole-initialed author C. does just that. If only my thoughts were that organized. Seriously. Relatedly, Chromewaves has a much more well thought-out response to that horrible alt.country article from yesterday's NYT; he also posts some tracks from the new Sadies live album, which I'm really looking forward to. The Sadies put on one of the best live shows around, and Frank reports that the recording is a very faithful document of that experience, which pleases me greatly.

Catch them now before the buzz becomes deafening: Bound Stems. Didn't know who they were until the PR landed in the inbox the other day, the endorsement yesterday of TRGAW informant Paul Cox sealed the deal. To me, they sort of sound like Sufjan Stevens meets the Arcade Fire meets The Wrens, if the Wrens had come up listening to Saddle Creek stars instead of inspiring them. There's detatched, didactic lyrics (trés Sufjan), synths and chick backing vocals (from none other than Apple 'Switch' ad starlet Janie Porche, who has a rather nice singing voice) -- very Arcade Fire, but the Wrens comparison comes mostly because of the wall of guitar effects, a massively propulsive rhythm section and a propensity for insane and possibly superflous time changes. Which is to say, they kind of sound like Shapes and Sizes (or, as some have noted, Wolf Parade, perhaps?). My only complaint is the slight tendency to slip into seriously emo bridges and codas that teeter on jam band territory. Those might need to go.

Bound Stems -- Refuse the Refuse
Bound Stems -- This Is Grand

(There's more tracks to sample at the Flameshovel Records website...)

You know, it kind of looks like Chicago's apparently where it's at these days -- the buzz raked up by the sunny, spazzy pop of Office since SXSW is also impressive. Which leads me to ask -- what's going on with Maniszhevitz lately?

Speaking of The Wrens -- remember when we were promised that They Might Be Giants cover about a bajillion years ago?

The Wrens -- They'll Need A Crane

Very, very Wrens, que no? You'd never know it was a TMBG song, save the lyrics. From Hello Radio: The Songs of They Might Be Giants, out on Bar/None, which features TMBG covers from The Long Winters, Self, OK GO, Frank Black, and Jason Trachtenburg, among others.

I may have gotten stuck on this before, but what song does Band of Horses' "The Funeral" sound like? It's on the tip of my brain, it sounds exactly like something ... else ... Is it, like, country-fied Pixies?



Finally -- proof that my mom is indeed cooler than me: She hung out with a member of The Mars Volta at my cousin's wedding this weekend. Oh and, now we know where to find Voxtrot's Ramesh if he's not out DJ'ing or shopping for records at Waterloo...

17 July 2006

Especially for TRGAW superfriend Joanna's birthday -- new French Kicks! BTW, they're touring this fall with TRGAW pals What Made Milwaukee Famous and drumsnsynths duo Matt and Kim (who, strangely enough, are being Mates of State better than Mates of State themselves lately). Pretty cool, eh?

Anyway, I spent some time over the weekend listening to Two Thousand (which sees release tomorrow, 7/22), the third album from the French Kicks, and I was reminded just exactly why (you know, in case this point hadn't been driven home by the wonderful Shearwater set Friday night) you stick with a band for a few years -- let them develop and grow over the course of several tours and releases -- instead of heaping accolades on a band that's done, well, neither yet. That's not to say that some up-and-coming new bands don't deserve praise and appreciation, but I can't help but feel, as I pretty much always do, that music bloggers spend too much time trying to find the next big thing for their own personal vaildation in places where such things will never be found -- especially with bands that have played a handful (if any) live shows and a-step-above-amateurish recording to sell at the merch table or on their website.

But back to the French Kicks -- they've finally stepped out from the shadow of labelmates The Walkmen (Two Thousand is a Vagrant/Startime International co-release) and have emerged with a delightfully fresh and complex sound that ends up sounding like bizzaro cloudy-day, moody surf music made from the bottom of an East Coast oubliette. This is what happens when influences are thououghly digested and processed and used for inspiration and not balls-out replication, a lesson a goodly number of other bands I've used this space to rant about might do well to take to heart.

French Kicks -- So Far We Are
French Kicks -- Go On

An interlude: The pretty animated video for The Organ's "Let the Bells Ring," directed by Valerie Toumayan.

Moving on: The New York Times would like you to know that alt.country is dead. Right on, we've known that for, well, forever, really -- especially after we went our of our way to stop keeping up with the Bloodshot Records roster and suffered through one too many awful Magnolia Electric Co. shows. What's interesting is that Jessie Fox Mayshark barely takes note of the fact that alt.country/Americana, such as it is, didn't ever really exist outside of being a construct of the editors at No Depression and later, people who wanted to cash in on the popularity of O Brother Where Art Thou. The most interesting "alt.country" is living where it always has -- just located further down in the independent music strata, rather than in an actual codified genre. Mayshark mentions Neko Case's move in to "noirsh pop" on Fox Confessor Brings the Flood as something earth-shattering and the death knell of something, when in fact, it's just another step down the road she's already travelled far and wide; Ms. Case has consistently eshewed and challenged the alt.country label throughout her career. And Mayshark could easily find alt.country's legacies and stepchildren if he looked hard enough -- Bright Eyes? My Morning Jacket? Josh Ritter? Calexico? Okkervil River? The Elected and Jenny Lewis' solo work? The Court and Spark? The recent Townes Van Zandt resurgence, thanks to Margaret Brown's brilliant documentary? And not to mention all the alt.country strands running through freak folk. Perhaps we should call this the alt.country/Americana diaspora or something. But the absolute weirdest thing about the article was that slightly-more-mainstream friendly blogger faves and nouveaux alt.country standard bearers like Drive-By Truckers, Centro-matic, and Magnolia Electric Co. didn't even rate a mention. But then again, what can you expect from an article with the central premise of being excited/thrilled that the Jayhawks are still together and doing roughly the same ol' thing? Exactly.

I'm just spinning my wheels here, I think. I'm having a real weird day.

Kelly Hogan -- Between Love and Hate
Bob Dylan -- Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
Fred Neil -- I've Got a Secret (Didn't We Shake Sugaree) [dang, I don't have Mary Lou Lord's version of this with me, or I'd post it as well]

14 July 2006

Spangled eye candy. These videos, for Spoon's "The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine" and The New Pornographers' "Sing Me Spanish Techno," were brought to my attention by some famous blogger guy. He didn't care for the former and preferred the latter -- though I think they're both great. I told him, "There can never be enough drag in my universe."



Suffice it to say that we're unbearably excited to see Shearwater tonight at Emo's. If you didn't catch them on this tour, there's a neat live session up at Dutch radio station VPRO from late 2005 (you might remember them as the hosts of the brilliant Extra Glenns live set that's also been circulated 'round the interschitzel).

Green Pea-ness beat me in gushing over The Long Blondes' "Fulwood Babylon" (produced by Erol Alkan). It is, in short, WICKED FANTASTIC.

Everyone surely knows by now that I adore weird musical flourishes: fugues, triplets, etc. Which, you know is why I find Ratatat's "Tacobel Canon" so great -- the name totally cracks me up and it is, indeed, a rather nicely contstructed canon full of contrapuntal deviation. Which, you know, is appropriate given that the title of the album is Classics (due out Aug. 22) -- thought, to be honest, I don't even know what genre to put this in. Can we make one up? Baroque organic electronica? I like the sound of that...

Ratatat -- Tacobel Canon


And, lest we forget the remix skillz of the Ratatat dudes in all this refined folderol, here's a reminder.

Shout Out Louds -- The Comeback (Big Slippa Mix By ratatat)
Jay-Z -- Sunshine (Ratatat remix)


Hmmm. Maybe that's not what you need. Maybe you need new Beth Orton...I'm so buried over here in hype bands, I didn't even know she had a new album coming out. This is easily the best thing she's done in years (though apparently most of her fans don't think so?) -- then again, I may just think that because of the the super-crashy drum track. It's almost enough to make a girl start poking around in ProTools, the instrumental begs to be mashed up with something...

Beth Orton -- Shopping Trolley


And, for all your Friday shout-along anthem needs, I present the Parlour Boys, a nice little band from Kentucky who I think I tried to book for our SXSW party (on that day I emailed like, a billion bands in one day) -- and then they won some contest or something like that... And how can you say no to a band endorsed by both VHS or Beta and my #1 secret gay boyfriend Stephen Trask? You can't, so don't even try.

Parlour Boys -- Lovers


(Does anyone want to sponsor a trip for me to go to London and see the Damien Hirst/Francis Bacon exhibition? Serious offers only, please. I'm only partially kidding/begging.)

Oh! And! TRGAW pal Adam Pranica is working on a documentary about the Long Winters called Through With Love. Sounds like it's gonna be pretty great -- John Roderick certainly is an interesting enough subject, if an unwieldy one. (The title of the film comes from a Western State Hurricanes -- the precursor of The Long Winters -- song, see below...)

Western State Hurricanes -- Through With Love


Over at Stop Loving Everything, Mr. J. Frank Parnell offers a rather definitive post on Luke Sutherland's bands Long Fin Killie and Bows. Nicely done, sir, but you forgot this one...

Long Fin Killie -- Godiva

Have a great weekend!

13 July 2006

Organizational movements in D minor. Sorry this post is so late today, I've been in training to blog for my employer. (Insert hearty guffaw here.)

First off, Cry Blood Apache is most definitely the new TRGAW dream house band; we were totally enthralled last night by their delicious mix of chilly electronica-tinged no wave noise channeled through one (1) amp (all the better to engage in guerilla street busking with, apparently). They can totally come over and station themselves in the corner of my living room and provide the soundtrack to my daily existence. Seriously. And, though we missed White Denim, we hear they were great; Shoot For The Stars And Kill Them (who sadly, don't seem to have any interschitzel presence at all) were amazing as well -- though possibly in need of a bassist. "Carnival Breakdown" was particularly choice, as was the rousing shout-along anthem, "Someone in Austin Fucking Hates Me."

Secondly, the new TRGAW theme song unanimously seems to be The Infadels' "Love Like Semtex." We can't get enough of it, esp. the Team 9 remix, which apparently didn't win the remix contest conducted by the band -- someone named Ben Barry (Mr. B) did. Shame, really -- though to be fair, Mr. B's remix is pretty good too.



The Infadels -- Love Like Semtex (Team 9 remix)

Though I would say there's probably enough covers of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" already floating around out there, I must alert you to the wonderfully limpid and chilly and dour (and not ... grossly sentimental, as most LWTUA covers always seem to be...) Tiger Baby version.

Tiger Baby -- Love Will Tear Us Apart

12 July 2006

And now back to your regularly scheduled hyperkinetic kvelling. OMG, the video for I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness' "According to Plan." Just, OMG!



I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness play in Austin at Emo's on the 15th and at NYC's pretty Bowery Ballroom on the 19th. Then they're off to Europe!

Relatedly, sort of: The Hourly Radio's "Travelsigns" off their new album History Will Never Hold Me is one of Filter's mp3s of the week. Neat!
A more serious topic than usual, but there's still mp3s attached to this entry, believe it or not. There’s a very fine line you walk when you’re a fan of a band, and then you become their friends, and then you decide to try your hand at music writing.

The other day, that line became blurred and then disappeared entirely. And I’m here to make some corrections and clarifications on the subject of Shearwater and Misra Records.

But maybe I should back up a little. (Alternatively, scroll down for today's tracks...)

The first time I saw Shearwater, it was at a tiny show at Flipnotics, a charming coffeeshop and performance space in South Austin. I can’t be sure of the exact date, but I believe it was some time in late 2001 or early 2002. Not to be completely trite, but it was one of those experiences, looking back now, that completely changed my life. I went to rock shows, sure, and was a fan of a few local bands here and there. Thanks to some knowledgeable friends in around the country, I was hearing new bands every day -- bands that weren’t exactly the indie rock royalty that they are today – Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Interpol, John Vanderslice, Death Cab for Cutie. Embarrassingly enough, a friend from out of town turned me on to Shearwater, who were at the time a tiny side project of the ramshackly-but-on-the-rise Okkervil River. They were spectacular – but a very different band than they are now, brimming with potential and gorgeous songs that were tiny glimpse of future greatness. I was really shy (no, really!) back then, not the charming and bubbly girl you all know and love today. Somehow I mustered up enough gumption to talk to the band, and found them to be wonderful people in addition to being fantastic musicians.

After that show, I wouldn’t say I became obsessed with Shearwater, but I fell in love with Everybody Makes Mistakes and went to see the band every time they played a show, which wasn’t all that often in those days as they were incredibly busy, namely with other bands and academic pursuits.

Fast forward a few years, to November 2, 2004 – that dismal election night. It was the first night I saw Cue play (at Beerland); Pinkie was just a few yards down the road at Stubbs’ outside space seeing Interpol. It was, as they say, an interesting night for both of us. On the bill inside at Stubb’s after the Interpol show was Shearwater and Decibully. I scuttled over there after Cue’s set, wading through a sea of fashion-plate hipster kids and drunk college students and waving when I spotted Pinkie, her ex-husband, and TRGAW party-pal Dot as they headed to the afterparty at the Parish.

The ensuing show was hard to watch; Shearwater had been on the road for several weeks in support of their third album, Winged Life, and were exhausted; tensions between various band members were at a strange and tense yet horribly stagnant point. But it was the first time I had the pleasure of seeing the beginning stages of the band’s current collective onstage persona – slightly dark, slightly sinister, while still exuding a lovely and touching air of quiet vulnerability.

Not to blow things out of proportion entirely, but it was pretty special. Afterward, I talked to lead singer Jonathan Meiburg and percussionist Thor Harris on the loading dock about things various and sundry, but mostly about Jonathan’s upcoming interview with the NYC-based crew of the Wrens documentary I’ve been working on since mid-2004, whilst about 20 feet away, fifty screaming fangirls accosted Interpol’s bus. It was surreal, to say the least.

Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of slowly getting to know the members of Shearwater better, just as people. In addition, I’ve promoted their work in various blogs I’ve written for, I’ve recommended them to practically everyone, and dragged protesting friends to live shows -- with an almost 100% conversion rate, I might add.

So, when I found out from a friend (in confidence, to be honest) in NYC the other day that Shearwater had been 'dropped' from their long-time label, Austin-based Misra Records, I was pretty shocked. In hindsight, this was certainly news that wasn't altogether surprising (based on things I’d heard here and there for the past few months), but it was still shocking nonetheless, given the critical success of new album Palo Santo and the glowing reviews of shows on the current tour that were filtering in practically daily from other music blogs.

I knew I had a tool at my disposal -- this blog -- to reach out to a very specific sliver of the indie rock audience – enthusiastic fans, publicists, and record label staffers (yes, y’all, I see the stats and I know where you’re coming from…) – people who care about the band and their continued ability to tour and record more fantastic albums, and I felt like this was information they needed to know.

Now, this is where I have to insert a very important sidebar. I’m a professional writer in the “real world” (though almost all of my writing in that capacity appears online), and have been for nearly seven years. The work I do in a paid capacity is very different from the kind of writing I do here and on other blogs. This is a labor of love’ve taken on to promote the work of musicians I care about -- because no, I don’t make any money from writing for and curating this site, or any of the other blogs I contribute to. To a certain extent, I'm using also using this site to develop a portfolio of music-focused writing to augment my other portfolio work: Covering companies and industries for a business information publisher.

But I digress. What I’m getting at here is that I did something Monday that I absolutely never would have done were I writing about one of the companies or industries I follow, and something I’ve now learned one can’t really get away with when blogging either. Namely, I didn’t follow up with primary sources to clarify the story my friend had told me – more specifically, with the band, with the label’s manager, and with the label’s owners. I had trusted that the information she’d given was fit for public consumption and completely accurate. Needless to say, it was not. And that’s where that line between concerned friend and professional journalist disappeared entirely. Now, that being said, it wasn’t my intention at the time to engage in spreading scurrilous gossip against Misra and its management; my main concern was to let everyone know that one of my favorite bands, and most importantly my friends, were in a position to find a new label. I wanted to help out.

Needless to say, as often happens in highly charged emotional situations, it came to light that some of the facts of the story were misconstrued. Since yesterday, I’ve talked with Phil Waldorf, who runs Misra, Michael Bracy, one of the owners of the label, and Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg. I’m glad they took the time to all speak with me, and I’ve heard three really different stories about what’s going on here, but there are places that everyone’s stories do intersect: the first being that Misra Records is not shutting down – far from it, in fact they are on the verge of rolling out an ambitious expansion plan. Secondly, Misra has not ‘dropped’ Shearwater and the label is committed to supporting the band and their new record Palo Santo; furthermore, Jonathan, Kim, Thor, and Howard are in no danger of being booted from the Misra roster. Finally, and this was very specifically highlighted by my talk with Jonathan, since Shearwater have a per-record contract with Misra, they are currently free to shop around for a new label for future projects, should they desire to do so.

There is, naturally, a lot more going on behind the scenes that I’m not at liberty to discuss here, namely because everyone was very careful to delineate what was on the record, and what was most definitely off the record in our conversations. I don’t really blame them for that!

So, I hope this clears things up for everyone out there. Thank you for taking the time to read this post -- and most importantly, thank you for your continued support of this blog and our other endeavors. It’s greatly appreciated.


***

Your requisite NME buzz band sample: It's a few months old, but sometimes it takes time for these things to make it all the way to Texas -- you know, despite the speediness of the interschitzel. Dig the silly wonderfulness of the "OI! OI! OI! Punky chips ahoy-ness" of the shout-along chorus on "I'm Always Right" and the post-Interpol, actually-ripped-from-Television-y'all jagged guitars on "I'm Not Sorry":

The Pigeon Detectives -- I'm Always Right
The Pigeon Detectives -- I'm Not Sorry


Apparently, The Pigeon Detectives know my ex-boyfriend (::rimshot::). In all seriousness, they seem to be friends of the Kaiser Chiefs or something. Buy their new single, "You Know I Love You" on iTunes.

On this side of the pond, get your uh, somethings out with Pony Pants (hands-down the best band name in ages, n'est-ce pas?) -- may I recommend them over the appallingly dull and current bloggerbuzz faves Cansei de Ser Sexy? Yes, I believe I can. Beats to make the indie kids dance, deliciously naughty lyrics? Hello, Pony Pants! Thx to the boys at Badminton Stamps for the heads-up. (Stream the whole album here.)

Pony Pants -- Sexual Pickle
Pony Pants -- Factory


And, yes, though the new Mountain Goats, Thermals, and Ratatat albums were leaked yesterday, I'm not sharing. Not yet... Well, to be honest, I'm still stuck on Get Lonely, and imagine I will be for a few days, at least. Check out tracks at You Ain't No Picasso.

And, speaking of The Wrens, they have a new website. No, really!

On deck tonight, after a disco nap: Cry Blood Apache and White Denim @ The Chain Drive. Should be a wicked time, come out and rock out like crazy with us. Totes? Totes!

11 July 2006

Watch this space for more details. Our news about Shearwater and the situation with their label yesterday sure shook things up in our insular little universe (the inbox has kind of exploded at this point), and we're working on a post that should clear things up, or something. In the meantime...

Jonathan Meiburg -- All The Pretty Horses
Shearwater -- Mountain Laurel
Shearwater -- Mistakes
Shearwater -- My Good Deed


Please consider supporting the band by purchasing a CD if you like what you hear. (iTunes) (Misra) (Amazon)

(ETA: We're waiting to get quotes/comments from all involved parties, so this entry may be delayed until tomorrow, 7/12/06.)

10 July 2006

I can't believe it's been 10 years! Things seemed so much simpler back then; could they have even imagined where they'd be in 2006? (Thanks, Matt 5500, for the reminder...)

Huh, that's weird. First up, news from the Shearwater front: Kelefa Sanneh gave the band a big thumbs up the other day in the NYT. Sidebar to Mr. Sanneh: Read the liner notes again and you might find the uniting theme to the album. Maybe the mp3 below will be of assistance? Don't worry, I needed a hint too (thx L-Train!). On the other hand, we hear -- and you totally didn't hear this from us -- that they've been dropped from their label, Misra, who are looking to change direction. Perhaps to "the all Will Johnson, all the time" label? We kid, of course...sort of... Anyway, we know there's a home out there for the Shearovians (sounds better than Shearwaterites, yeah?) -- Secretly Canadian, Bella Union, 4ad -- are you listening? This is a total not-so-subtle hint. [Please see this entry for a clarification of the information outlined above...]
The band's still touring and making their way back to Austin, where they'll play Emo's on the 14th. Check 'em out if you can -- tonight in DC and tomorrow in Charlotte, NC. (Also, Good Hodgkins has more tracks from SHearwater's latest album, the brilliant Palo Santo, for you to check out...)

The Velvet Underground -- Femme Fatale

[Sidebar: You know, it would have been a grand weekend to be in NYC, what with Shearwater in town and Blacklist playing with the Bellmer Dolls -- we were super-sad to be too broke to engage in such activities. Yes, even we have to be frugal sometimes. And by sometimes, we mean most of the time these days...]

We know how much some of you love The Pipettes, we know how much some of you absolutely loathe The Pipettes. Maybe we'll stay mostly neutral for now (we like 'em all right, but aren't overly gaga for the girls), but here's some b-sides for you. They're ripped from the 7" singles for "Pull Shapes," hence the crackle and pop, which adds to the ambiance, I suppose.

The Pipettes -- Guess Who Ran Away With the Milkman
The Pipettes -- Magician Man


I don't usually write about bands that randomly try to friend me on MySpace (though, that would make a good snarky anonymous blog, I bet someone's already done it [yep]), but this one made me laugh, and then kinda impressed me with their New Order-meets-Yo La Tengo antics: The South Jersey Seashore Lifeguard Convention Band (MySpace)(website).

A few weeks back there was an amusingly disturbing (disturbingly amusing?) interview with Ann Coulter on JamBands.com about how she's a ... total Deadhead. That's not all that surprising -- no, no. What is shocking is that she namechecks the Eagles of Death Metal as one of her favorite bands. Mmm. Yes. Eagles of Death Metal. Whatever, lady. Relatedly, found in file-sharing land, You Are Not At All Boring samples Ms. Coulter from the recorded version of her latest book-shaped product Godless; the (surprisingly) charming and dirty "And You Shall Know Them By Their Fruits" is the result.

You Are Not At All Boring -- You Shall Know Them By Their Fruits (Breakbeat Acid House Mix)

Kill Rock Stars and 5RC are having a big ol' t-shirt sale on overstocks and designs that are going out of print. Time to stock up on sure-to-be-collectible Sleater Kinney items...

Best post the past few days: Mars Needs Guitars' complation of "Spirit in the Sky" covers. Elton John and Bauhaus are the standouts, natch. Also, Stu fromt Toronto-based TRGAW faves Tin Bangs plays six degrees of seperation with Black Heart Procession and The Prayers & Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers.

For no other reason than that I'm apparently on some kind of b-side remix kick:

Franz Ferdinand -- Fade Together (Avalanches Remix)
Twilight Singers -- I'm Ready (Lo Fidelity Allstars Remix)


Hey, I had some really weird dreams this weekend. Last night I dreamt I organized a show with Roky Erickson -- fairly normal stuff. But Saturday night I dreamt that Pinkie and I were sitting on a giant portmanteau in an open-air shopping esplanade by a faux Viennese coffee shop and Interpol's Paul Banks wandered by wearing a traditional Peruvian hat (see also the great Flickr pool devoted to Andean headgear), designed, as he informed us, by Hedi Slimane. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried, seriously.

And finally -- I'd probably make a Porsche 911 or a Karmann Ghia or something, but this is totally neat: English art school student knits a Ferrari.

(See you tonight at Emo's Corner bar for the inaugural End of an Ear midnight sale with DJ Wayne B from Calla? Come have a Stella with us!)
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