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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Neko Case

Fox Confessor Brings The Flood, due out March 7th, is the latest offering by Neko Case. Her fourth album appears to bring to climax her genre-bending resume, which has spanned indie rock collaborations with the New Pornographers, tours with the cinematic Calexico, and her silky smooth "roots-infused vocal stylings." Fox Confessor's liner notes nod to the inclusion of The Band's Garth Hudson, Calexico's Joey Burns and John Covertino, and Giant Sand's Howe Gelb.

I feel like this album is going to resonate with a lot of people. Not only is she a highly talented musician in her own right, but it appears that we as a populace (or consumers) are once again at a point that strong roots/pop based females can sit at the head of the table (see the success of Jenny Lewis' latest album). Can't help but think of Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn.

Neko Case will be performing on Jay Leno - March 9th

Upcoming regional performances:
Club Soda - 4/4/06 - Montreal, QC
The Roxy - 4/5/06 - Boston, MA

Pre-order Fox Confessor Brings The Flood from Insound

Neko Case - Star Witness.mp3 Link Removed
Neko Case - Hold On, Hold On.mp3 Link Removed
Neko Case - Maybe Sparrow.mp3 Link Removed

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Arctic Monkey Stream

In case you didn't pick up the Arctic Monkeys' Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not when it was a UK import, or grabbed it yesterday during its US release, AOL is providing the album for free stream:

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

I'm having a hard time understanding the insane buzz surrounding these kids (I believe the lead is 19, thanks Rolling Stone). I like them, but their road to glory is mad redic. For instance, WPSIA,TWIN is the fastest-selling debut in British chart history, with sales of more than 360,000 copies during its first week on the charts (CBS News). And with chart success comes celebrity: two months after the album's release, lead vocalist Alex Turner was declared The Coolest Man On The Planet by NME magazine. Sure, I heard (on NPR of all places) all about how they built buzz for their first release by giving away mp3s, but tell me what "unknown" band isn't doing that? Free mp3s + catchy hooks + "honest lyrics" don't add up to tickets for their upcoming NYC show going for over $150 a piece! Should I mention again that their album was just released in Manhattan yesterday?

Give it a listen and let me know if you can help me make sense of this quandary. In addition to how Stiffler got in the band (far right).

Also, if you cruise the AOL site you are bound to find streams of the latest releases from Arab Strap, Dilated Peoples, Eels, Grand National, and Maximo Park. Thanks to Brooklyn Veegan for the tip.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Mittens

The word makes me instantly nostalgic for those jovial snowy days building tunnels with friends and then sipping cocoa while the cold weather outfit sat drying next to the crackling fire. It also makes me think of kittens.

Now the word means something different, but the feelings are still intact. Mittens is a three piece from Boston that play stripped down sugary melodic jangle pop. Their writing is as fun and infectious as their sound, filled with skillful humor and easily memorized choruses. Guitarist/vocalist Andy Brooks explains that someone once stated that they sounded like "a skiffle (jug band-style) Talking Heads -- and that made sense, though the Talking Heads were a much better band than we are."

In their four years they've created a bit of a stir around Boston - thanks to a lively show and a well received self-titled debut release (2005). Come March 25th they'll drop their second disc, Fools on a Holiday, on the masses. In this current climate of indie-pop (thanks New pornographers), I have a feeling that they are about to reach a much wider audience.

Mittens at MySpace

Mittens (limited release EP - 2002)
Mittens - Morning Comes.mp3

Mittens (2005, purchase from Insound)
Mittens - Belinda.mp3
Mittens - Big Decisions.mp3

Fools On A Holiday (2006)
Mittens - Leeway.mp3 (via The Phoenix)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Story: Twin Cities

So there are these two communities: one continually the popular one in the region, while the other is, well, the other is not. The first community, let's call it M, is where everyone wants to be. The cool kids are there, fresh fashions are always happening, and when you walk down the street kids are laughing, dogs are friendly, and the mood is light and enjoyable. The other, let's call it B, has a bad rap. B was raised in the school of hard knocks and it shows. Parents from outside the area hesitate to bring their kids there, because B has a history of drugs, crime and mullets.

It's always seemed futile, but there's continually been a rivalry between these two. There schools sport teams are always competing. When people from B and M come to neutral areas (such as small B, or b), one can always here disparaging comments about the other.

One way this rivalry has played out is through their music selection. Since M is hip and always on the cutting edge, it's always been easy to point out B's apparent backwardness. But something's been happening in M. M has started to ignore it's rivalry with B and has started to experience infighting. But while M's been asleep, B's been focused. B's been creeping on M and it's starting to show. For example, here's last week's top sellers at each community's local independent record store:

M
KT Tunstall -- Eye to the Telescope
Roseanne Cash -- Black Cadillac
Jack Johnson -- Sing-a-longs & Lullabies for the Film Curious George
Matisyahu -- Live at Stubb's
Cat Power -- The Greatest
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals -- Nothing But the Water
Susannah Clifford Blachly -- Middle of the Night
James Blunt -- Back to Bedlam
Coldplay -- X & Y
Gogol Bordello -- Gypsy Punk: Underground World Strike

B
Barry Manilow -- The Greatest Songs of the Fifties
KT Tunstall -- Eye to the Telescope
Andrea Bocelli -- Amore
Beth Orton -- Comfort of Strangers
Roy Orbison -- Black & White Night
Train -- For Me, It’s You
Matisyahu -- Live at Stubb's
Johnny Cash -- Legend of Johnny Cash
Jack Johnson -- In Between Dreams
Buddy Guy -- Bring 'Em In

Barry Manilow you say? Train? How do you expect me to believe that B's even in the same league? Well, sure, it's not spotless, but B's on the move. A few weeks ago B had Korn and 80s hair metal, so in comparison B's doing good. But beyond that, the mix of cd's that are flying off the shelves in B are, should I say it, hipper. Yes that's a concieted and loaded term, but you have to admit. I'd much rather listen to the mix from B then from M.

So continue your VPR crusade, M. Enjoy living the stereotype. We in B are going to continue to do what we want. We are creeping. One day you might notice, but it'll be too late. The rivalry may be over.

I wonder where the Vermont stereotype comes from?

The Duke Spirit - Cuts Across the Land.mp3

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Editors/Stellastarr* Coming to South Burlington

The flood of indie rock continues.

Editors/Stellastarr* - March 21 - Higher Ground

Following the Arctic Monkeys in their so hot in England right now buzz, the Editors will be making a stop at the Higher Ground as part of their first major US tour. They took a quick spin through the US in mid January that left the mp3 blogging community's jaws on the floor (Bradley's Almanac, Brooklyn Vegan, Yeti Don't Dance, Village Indian, Gothamist). For more on this 4 piece from Birmingham, read False 45th's breakdown from late January.

And not to be outdone, they are playing with NYC's Stellastarr*.
Although they are a similar art-rock group whose name is easily lumped with Interpol (and are derivative of Gang of Four, Television, Echo & the Bunnymen, etc), they have their own dark and rich atmospheric art-school sound (see The Cure). They are on their 2nd LP and haven't received a smidge of the Editors' blogger love; I guess the jury's still out. I'll have to wait until late March to make my decision. I'm just curious who'll be opening for whom; afraid of another The National/Clap Your Hands debacle like what happened in Northampton last September.

Stream their upcoming/latest albums:
Editors - The Back Room (US - March 21, 2006/UK - July 25, 2005)
Stellastar* - Harmonies for the Haunted (US - Sept 13, 2005/UK - March 6, 2005)

Editors - 35 minute set from KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic - stream video and audio.
Editors - Acoustic session on French radio Planet Claire - June 22, 2005

Photos courtesy of Joachim Beckers (Editors) and What's Up NYC (Stellastarr*)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Montpelier is full of Love

This is also from Montpelier. Perhaps it's tag should be City of Love.

Beth Orton - Touch Me With Your Love.mp3 (via Disco Not Disco)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentines Day Phantom Strikes Again

There are a few things one can expect living in Montpelier. Women wearing flax and wool, Carhartts, beards, dog poop frozen in the snow, and the city covered in hearts on Valentines Day. For at least the three years that I've been living in the area, the mysterious Valentines Day Phantom covers downtown Montpelier with some 3,000 paper hearts. I had sort of forgotten about Valentines Day during my commute, but as soon as I walked towards Main Street I saw a sea of red hearts flapping in the wind. (I guess some high school kids tore down a whole bunch of them, but the effect is still there).

I only have my camera phone today. I'll update this post when I come across better photos (this stuff is usually in the local news).

I also came across this sweet sticker on a Toyota this morning. It seems contextually appropriate. Jose Gonzalez - Love Will Tear Us Apart.mp3 (Live Joy Division Cover) (via YANP)

UPDATE: Pictures of the hearts from our local paper, Times Argus, can be seen here and here.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Portishead Remixed

UK's Hearing Double has just made available for free download a remix of Portishead's trip-hop classic album Dummy, but are requesting donations be made to the poverty fighting Oxfam. The rework of the always-elusive band's seminal 11 cut album looks like this:

Portishead Remixed - Dumb
1. Mysterons - JoolsMF
2. Sour Spit - Rolo
3. Stranters (DJ Matt Hite Remix) - DJ Matt Hite
4. It Could Be Real - Pheugoo
5. I Chill (ft. Katie Enlow) - Lenlow
6. It's a Con - Pilchard
7. Thriftshop's Numb - Thriftshop XL
8. Roads (CompactRisk's Hard Shoulder Remix) - CompactRisk
9. Pedestal (Solcofn's Dark Matter Mid fd. Katie Enlow) - Solcofn
10. Biscuit (Toy Mix) - Ektopic Beats
11. Glory Box (Alex C Adventure)- Alex C

I Chill and its mixed in Radiohead is currently my favorite. They aren't all great (ie: It Could Be Real by Pheugoo), but it's great to hear a different take on something that I've come to know so thoroughly. And by the way, Portishead is supposedly working on their third album.

Again, please make donations to Oxfam, or purchase the original album.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Kamikaze Hearts

I've been sitting on this post for a while, but no longer. The Upstate Porch Rock must be shared, because it's honest, true, and damn good. Plus, they are about to be making a stop at Montpelier's very own collectively owned coffe house/community space/anarchist haven/music venue:

Kamikaze Hearts w/ Micah Blue Smaldone - March 2 - 8 PM - Langdon Street Cafe

The Kamikaze Hearts are a Albany, NY quartet that plays passionate acoustic roots-rock/appalachian/indie folk. Armed only with four part harmonies, acoustic guitars, a mandolin, and a three piece drum kit (plus the occasional banjo and dobro), their sound proves to be full and their energy electric. I've caught them live on two occasions and have experienced them impress not only the folk crowd (Cafe Lena - the "oldest continuously operating coffeehouse in the US" and stop for the young Bob Dylan (1961), Arlo Guthrie and Don McLean), but also the indie rockers (they toured the Eastern US last summer with indie/pop outfit The Sixfifteens).

As their bio suggests, they are equally influenced by the Mountain Goats, Black Sabbath, and Ricky Skaggs.

The Kamikaze Hearts' second full-length, Oneida Road, is expected to be released summer 2006. The future's looking bright.

Kamikaze Hearts on MySpace (includes tunes)

Self-titled release (2002)
Kamikaze Hearts - Beverly Hills.mp3

WAMC (Northeast Public Radio) Performance - 9/24/04
Kamikaze Hearts - Boston Whaler.mp3
Kamikaze Hearts - War Horse.mp3

Thursday, February 09, 2006

BUILT TO SPILL COMING TO VERMONT

This is better than Christmas. Built to Spill are touring the country in support of their first album since 2001's brilliant Ancient Melodies of the Future, entitled You in Reverse. Based on what I've heard on their Myspace page it looks to be more of the fantastic same.

Built to Spill w/Helveta - April 30 - Higher Ground

I won't be surprised if this one sells out, so get yours quick (on sale Thursday the 16th)! In addition to picking tickets up through the venue or its certified outlets, you can get Built to Spill pre-sale tickets at reduced service fees via their website's new Ticket Page (I just checked and this option appears to be more expensive for the Higher Ground show, although it probably provides an advantage for venues in larger locales).

Word on the street is that the new album includes organ by Sam Coomes of Quasi (whose own new record will be coming out March 21, called When the Going Gets Dark). The track listing for You in Reverse is as follows:

1. Goin' Against Your Mind
2. Traces
3. Liar
4. Saturday
5. Wherever You Go
6. Conventional Wisdom
7. Gone
8. Mess With Time
9. Just A Habit
10. The Wait

Spin Article on You in Reverse

Elliott Smith Tribute

The late Elliott Smith was one of the better singer songwriters that the indie scene has ever known. To: Elliott From: Portland was released two days ago with a host of great tributes from Portland area bands. Ten percent of the net proceeds of this tribute album will be donated to the Elliott Smith Memorial Fund's charity, “Free Arts for Abused Children.”

Track List:

  1. Clementine - The Decemberists
  2. Satellite - The Helio Sequence
  3. The Biggest Lie - Dolorean
  4. Ballad Of Big Nothing - Eric Matthews
  5. I Didn't Understand - Swords
  6. Rose Parade - Sexton Blake
  7. Between The Bars - Amelia
  8. Needle In The Hay - Eric Matthews
  9. Division Day - We Are Telephone
  10. Angeles - Crosstide
  11. Wouldn't Mama Be Proud - Jeff Trott
  12. Speed Trials - Knock-Knock
  13. King's Crossing - To Live & Die In L.A.
  14. Happiness - Lifesavas
  15. High Times (Previously Unreleased Track) - Sean Croghan

For Mp3's check out My Yellow Country Teeth, In House with Jeremy Peterson, & Trees Lounge

Purchase from Insound

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Most Relaxing Classical Album in the World...Ever

In the interim between shutting off the Dish service and sending back the DVR, I've found myself unable to keep from surfing the channels, even though there are only 6 that I still have access to. These free options consist of the Pay Per View guide, NASA Television, Shope at Home (SAH) - home shopping with such not to be missed shows like Coin Vault, the Sky Angel Satellite Television Network and it's painful Faces of Abortion program, the English-language 24-hour news channel of China Central Television - CCTV News, and the Fair & Balanced Fox News.

While flipping through this variety of astonishingly agenda biased channels (guess that's what you get for free), I came across an advertisement for perhaps the most amazingly named album of all time: The Most Relaxing Classical Album in the World...Ever. I must admidt that I don't know too much about classical music, but all of it seems pretty dang relaxing. Anyone out there have any experience with this one, or the second edition, or The Most Relaxing Opera Album in the World...Ever? Is The Most Relaxing Classical Music in the Universe just some cheap rip-off, or really the best? Do they come with warning labels advising that they should not be played while driving?

Jamie Lidell - Multiply.mp3

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Walkmen - Higher Ground - January 26, 2006

2004 is so hot right now.

The Walkmen's Bows + Arrows was released February of that year and I missed it. I tried to purchase it on numerous occasions during its first year, but each time was met with faliure. In 2005 I saw the album in a used bin, but still couldn't bring myself to pick it up. It ended up taking me seeing them live (for free) two Thursday's ago with Mazarin to motivate me to lay down the 10 bones to experience them on disc. My reaction can be seen in two ways: well worth the wait, or what has taken me so long? Either way, Bows + Arrows makes me happy.

Higher Ground's smaller space was easily 3/4 full that evening (that equals packed in relation to typical indie shows in Central Vermont). The friend that I bribed with a free ticket grew up with the bass/keys player of Mazarin, so we made sure to catch their set (he was previously in the Lilys). I was pleasantly surprised by their sound, as it was both tight and interesting. It wasn't the most exciting set I'd ever seen, but that may be because I tend to rate bands heavily by their leader. Although I'm quite the fan of beards, the Mazarin frontman's beard and old man styled snapped-brim fredora masked any of the excitement that he might of felt. I found it hard to engage with the music or the lyrics with the lead so reclusive - it just made me tired.

The Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser is a totally different story. They sounded dynamic, raw, hungry, and just excited to be there. The classic euro whine of the vocals, NY indie band energy, and jangling guitars caught me hook, line, and sinker. Being a bit of a novice to their catalogue (although I have a variety of their mp3s), I was amazed at how much I became absorbed. My friend hadn't heard a lick of them before, and I spotted him following the crowd's foot tapping and head bobbing. During one of the highlights of the show, "Think of a Dream I Had," my friend leaned over with a big smile on his face and said "I don't know if it's this margarita, but these guys are rocking." And they were. The other highlight was their mini-hit "The Rat," which I haven't been able to get out of my head ever since.

I certainly wasn't the only one leaving the venue with a smile and anticipation for a future indie show (and The Walkmen's next disc scheduled for April). The only bumber was that my camera's batteries died before I could get a shot. But I've got my memories. And the cd.

The Walkmen - The Rat.mp3

Wolf Parade Coming to Higher Ground!

Higher Ground loves us. I can certainly say that I love them. They have officially put an end to my whining about not having indie rock in Central Vermont with this:

Wolf Parade w/ Holy Fuck(!) - April 18 - $15

That's right, exactly one week after Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Wolf Parade, the other indie rock band of 2005, will be making a stop on the west coast of New England. I'm starting to look forward to mud season.

Wolf Parade - Shine a Light.mp3
Wolf Parade - You are a Runner.mp3

Lapse

There are two things that I try not to do on this site. One is to talk politics - not because I'm apolitical, I actually work in the political arena - but because this site is my escape from the depressing world of politics. The second is to apologize. I try to be as upfront and honest on this site and not waiver in my convictions. Sure I'm that way in the real world, but I'm also a bit of a pleaser. I'm not writing to please anyone else. Blogging is a good excersize for me to lay it down like it is and nothing more.

That being said, I don't want to apologize for not writing for a week. I doubt my absence really dissapoints too many that read this site. It does dissapoint me a bit. But life throws curve balls such as visiting friends, dying computers, and farm shows that occassionaly send the half hour on the internet to the back of the bus.

As a welcome back, here's some sweet Sand Fantasy. I hope to be giving more nuggets of JDS' life in the near future, but I ain't apologizing if it isn't regular.

Sand Fantasy.mov (I just wish the music was metal and heavy)
More Sand Fantasy clips