Thursday, March 30, 2006
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Really, that's all it takes for me. It's that simple.
Example: Nat Baldwin.
Nat hails from Portsmouth, NH and plays in Tigersaw and Dirty Projectors. After dabbling in free improv and experimental music, he started to lay down tracks of his own stuff in 2004. The resultant sound is simple and heart wrenching. Well paced and engaging. Creative and new.
Nat will be performing with the Dirty Projectors on April 20th at Bennington College.
Nat Baldwin at MySpace. The unreleased songs available for stream are fantastic.
Purchase the 8 song EP, Lights Out, directly from Broken Sparrow Records.
Monday, March 27, 2006
March 29 - The Elected - Main Hall, Montreal
March 29 - Ray Davies - Olympia Theatre, Montreal
March 31 - The Smittens/Brett Hughes - Monkey House, Winooski
April 1 - The Jazz Guys - Billings Hall, UVM
April 2 - Art Brut/Gil Mantera's Party Dream - La Sala Rossa, Montreal
April 4 - Neko Case/The High Dials - Club Soda, Montreal
April 8 - Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Metropolis, Montreal
April 8 - The Farm - Radio Bean, Burlington
April 11 - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah/The Brunettes - Higher Ground, S. Burlington*
April 13 - Half-handed Cloud/Vollmar - Bennington College
April 15 - Death Cab for Cutie/Franz Ferdinand - Univ of Montreal (Sold Out)
April 18 - Wolf Parade/Holy Fuck/The Besnard Lakes - Higher Ground, S. Burlington*
April 19 - Ladytron/The Presets - Club Soda, Montreal
April 20 - Dirty Projectors/Nat Baldwin - Bennington College
April 22 - John Vanderslice/Wooden Wand & the Vanishing Voice - Casa De Popolo, Montreal
April 26 - We Are Scientists - Higher Ground, S. Burlington ($.99!)
April 27 - Toubab Krewe - Positive Pie, Montpelier*
April 28 - Toubab Krewe - Nectar's, Burlington
May 1 - Two Gallants - La Sala Rossa, Montreal
May 12 - The Books/Greg Davis/The Sixfifteens - Coltrane Lounge, Middlebury College*
May 12 - The Books/Greg Davis - Higher Ground, South Burlington
May 13 - Kid Koala/Coldcut/Blockhead - Metropolis, Montreal
May 18 - Tara Jane Oneil - Bennington College
May 27 - The Pants - Higher Ground, S. Burlington*
June 7 - Dungen - La Sala Rossa, Montreal
The Smittens - Good Migrations.mp3
The Jazz Guys - Amanda.mp3
Neko Case - Star Witness.mp3
The High Dials - The Holy Ground.mp3
Gil Mantera's Party Dream - Elmo's Wish.mp3
The Farm - Paul Klee.mp3
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Over & Over Again.mp3
Half-handed Cloud - Feed Your Sheep a Burning Lamp.mp3
Wolf Parade - You Are A Runner.mp3
Dirty Projectors - Naked We Made It.mp3
Nat Baldwin - Wake Up it's Time to Rise.m4a
John Vanderslice - Exodus Damage.mp3
Wooden Wand & the Vanishing Voice - I am the One I am and he is the Caretaker of my Heart.mp3
We Are Scientists - Inaction.mp3
Greg Davis - Brocade.mp3
The Sixfifteens - Montreal (live).mp3
Sunday, March 26, 2006
J. DiMenna - Awkward Buildings
It may not be too much of a stretch, but in an attempt to save face I'll compare my deliberative writing process to that which the album itself was created. The recording for Awkward Buildings started nearly three years ago in Asheville, NC. A wide range of musical accumpaniment was part of the project, including Theremin work by late great Bob Moog. The album was finished in Brooklyn and will officially hit the shelves this Tuesday via Exotic Recordings.
So all this time and what have I come up with? I've struggled with the genre bending, the mentioning of influences, and the "____ meets _____" talk (which I despise). But I can't help it. So here it is:
Elliott Smith, Archer Prewitt, and Jeff Buckley sitting in a cabaret having a drink with Leonard Cohen.
What else is there to say? The album shares pieces of Elliott Smith's Figure 8 era arrangements, but more whimsical and cabaret-y. The lyrics are sharp and haunting, going beyond personal relationships and confronting larger issues, such as society and politics. What I think I like the most about the album is the mystery that is J. DiMenna. An artist in the truest sense of the word, the nearly hour long album is strong and sincere, but with a level of complexity and depth that will beg the listener to place the disk back in the cd drive time and time again.
J. DiMenna at MySpace.
Purchase Awkward Buildings directly from Exotic Recordings.
J. DiMenna - Prayer Flag.mp3
J. Dimenna - Raggedy Ann.mp3
J. Dimenna - Better Walk Down.mp3
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Arctic Monkeys/Spinto Band - Montreal - March 22, 2006
The connection was felt with the Arctic Monkeys, who most definitely lived up to the hype. A lot can be said for the crowd - which absolutely loved them and seemed to know every lyric (this seems to happen at every Montreal show). They were punky, sharp, and flat out rocked. Made me think what a Sloan show would be like in one of the Canadian provinces.
Overall it was a great experience, helped by great sushi, real wasabi, and fun company.
Click here for pictures.
Arctic Monkeys - From the Ritz to the Rubble.mp3 (via MyExBestFriend)
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
The Essex Green at SXSW
Link removed at band's request.
Also available are a variety of pictures from the performance.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Saturday: Farm in Montpelier
St. Albans, Vermont's very own folk-rock outfit Farm (formerly House Horse) can be found playing at Montpelier's Langdon Street Cafe post St. Patrick's Day. The indie outfit Shirt were scheduled, but due to circumstances Farm will be in their place. There's rumor of a guest appearance by the North East Kingdom based noisecore sextet Truck. That last part was a joke.
Farm - Saturday, March 18, 2006 - Langdon Street Cafe - 10 PM
Here's a review of Farm's first EP from Seven Days back when they were using their earlier moniker:
St. Albans-based trio House Horse are an organic, post-folk delight. Featuring the multi-instrumental and vocal talents of Joshua Givens, Jedd Kettler and Ben Maddox, this debut EP boasts a gorgeous, indie-goes-rustic sensibility. It's a rare release that hooks me on the first track. This one did.
Gently strummed acoustic guitar and muted electric piano announce the opening of "Glass of Wine." In an odd production choice, the tune features lightly distorted vocals. The effect only enhances the track's sinister beauty, however. With a buoyant bass line and cavernous percussion, the song provides a lush, if unsettling, ride through folk rock's darker avenues. "Work Boots" floats from the speakers in delicate tonal tendrils. Pedal steel guitar intersects with workmanlike drumming and spare electric guitar. Warm, clear vocals sing of skeletons and the summer sun in an intoxicating mix of the everyday and the idyllic.
"Drunks need bars like mechanics need cars and romantics need stars," states the alt-country shuffle "Jesus Song No. 1." Nifty line, but what makes the song really interesting is an atonal organ lurking in the periphery like a madman. This juxtaposition of traditional song structure and avant-garde elements separate House Horse from other neo-Americana acts.
"Yonder Comes a Sucker" boasts an evocative electric guitar figure and hypnotic backing vocals. The tune is a testament to restraint; the empty spaces seem as important as the notes themselves. Although most of the song is subdued, the coda features a cyclical bass and guitar motif loaded with intricate trills. The part is all the more powerful because you don't expect it. Closer "Paul Klee" sounds like something David Lowery might have written in his Camper van Beethoven days. The tune tells the tale of an aspiring bohemian who falls short of his artistic goals. I'm not sure what it has to do with the legendary expressionist painter, but with music this enticing, who cares?
House Horse win big with their patient interplay and smart arrangements. I'd love to hear them on a double bill with Burlington's ethereal rockers Swale. Who wants to set it up? - Casey Rea
Farm's MySpace page with streaming audio.
Farm - Paul Klee.mp3
Farm - Jesus Song No 1.mp3
And on a completely different note...if you are in need of a laugh take a look at this: Weight Watcher Recipe Cards -1974 w/ commentary. Chances are you've already received this/will be receiving this via email from that crazy uncle who sends along every fwd under the sun. Needless to say this one's a keeper. My lungs still hurt from all the laughing.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Guppyboy -> The Essex Green - Chapter II
The Essex Green
The move to Brooklyn in 1997 was a new beginning for the remaining members of the band. For the first time in four years Mike Barrett, Chris Ziter, and Jeff Baron were living under the same roof. In the interim Jeff had spent time working in other outfits, most notably Ladybug Transistor, with Sasha Bell.
With only 4/5 of Guppyboy, a new name, The Essex Green, was chosen (in reference to Mike and Chris' home town of Essex Junction, VT). A new drummer was added in Tim Barnes, whose previous credits include keeper of the beat for the Silver Jews.
The sound changed a bit with the new surroundings, name, and configuration. With a dash more psychedelia and straightforward pop, The Essex Green played the New York circuit before touring the East Coast with Aden and Saturnine in 1998. Their first release was a split single with The Sixth Great Lake the following spring. Everything is Green, their first LP, was put out by Elephant 6/Kindercore records in late 1999. The Elephant 6 seal of approval said a lot about a band - sort of like a film coming out of Disney Studios. Elephant 6 was the neo-psychedelia revivalist label in the 90s, spawning such groups as The Apples in Stereo, Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Of Montreal. Needless to say, releasing an album as part of "The Collective" brought expectations; The Essex Green exceeded them.
The album received rave reviews for its uncanny accuracy at capturing the psychedelic heyday of the late 60s. Eight years of exploration had brought the band together with tight arrangements that went far beyond the typical superficial similarities commonly found in neo-psychedelia indie pop. Pitchfork gave it a very respectable 7.9; Popmatters a 9.2.
Four years and a lot of touring went by before a full follow-up (The Essex Green EP was released in 2000, on Elephant 6/Parasol Records) . The Long Goodbye was brought to the masses in 2003 on Merge records. In the interim Mike left the band and moved to Nashville and the Elephant 6 Record Company went under. Despite the losses, the influence of The Collective and the three core members (Chris, Jeff and Sasha) endured. The Long Goodbye brought Sasha's voice into clearer view amongst a backdrop of melodic structures and new string arrangements. The sound on this album isn't quite as crisp as the first LP, as it tends to be a bit moodier and slower with a peppering of country styled numbers, such as the instrumental Old Dominion.
Some have called the second disc a transition album. After taking a listen to Cannibal Sea, which is scheduled for release on March 21, I now know what they mean. Cannibal Sea is The Essex Green's strongest effort to date. The album evenly mixes the country-rock that was hinted at in the previous release with classic harmonized pop structures. The sound still nods to The Byrds, but looks forward in a manner that had escaped their previous efforts. Part of the cohesiveness is due in part to the "concept album" styled theme: travel and feeling lost in the big city. I can't imagine a subject matter that's closer to home for these kids that started playing in the basements of Burlington. Perhaps its the personal nature behind the lyrics, the way the songs flow together, or the über catchy choruses, I'm not sure of the reasoning, but The Essex Green are most definitely playing beyond their influences. And it's really good.
Pre-order Cannibal Sea from Merge Records here. The first 100 orders receive a free Cannibal Sea luggage tag and poster.
The Essex Green at MySpace.
Next up...Chapter III - The Sixth Great Lake.
The Long Goodbye - 2003
The Essex Green - The Late Great Cassiopia (stream)
The Essex Green - Our Lady in Havana (stream)
The Essex Green - Old Dominion (stream)
Cannibal Sea - 2006
The Essex Green - This Isn't Farm Life.mp3 Link Removed
The Essex Green - Don't Know Why (You Stay).mp3 Link Removed
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Guppyboy -> The Essex Green - Chapter I
Follow a direct line from the Velvet Underground, steer it through Palace Brothers and Cowboy Junkies, throw in a little psychedelia, a little yee-haw along the way, and you'll arrive at Burlington's Guppyboy. - SEVEN DAYS 7/30/97
Guppyboy was formed in late 1991 in Burlington, VT out of a friendship that started between Essex Junction high school buddies Mike Barrett and Chris Ziter. Guppyboy took shape during Mike and Chris' senior year at UVM with the help of fellow classmates Zach Ward and Jeff Baron. The main songwriting and vocal duties were shared between Chris (guitar), Jeff (guitar), and Zach (bass). Mike kept the beat.
From its first inception Guppyboy had a sound and urgency that clicked for many. With classic harmonies and psychedelia ala The Shins (who would emerge much later), they were equally addictive, challenging, and accessible.
The band left the area for Chicago in 1993, which lasted 18 months, before three of the four returned to Burlington (Jeff made his way to NYC). While in the Windy City they created a furry of tapes (a final count of 22 tapes were completed during their tenure). At home a friend got a bunch of Burlington musicians together to create a tribute tape entitled "Guppylove." The album's six bands, Chin Ho!, Hover, Jedd Kettler, Jesse Sargent, Spray 9, and PYG Roast, pay homage to the hometown heroes that went out to make it big.
Back in Burlington Guppyboy was tagged "one of the most creative yet underrated bands Burlington, Vermont has ever seen." They played hard and became the area's favorite musician's band. Jeff was still tied to the band - traveling up for recordings - but had joined Ladybug Transistor with his sister Jennifer. While with Ladybug Transistor Jeff met Sasha Bell, who in turn started traveling with him to Vermont in 1996 to play keys and flute with Guppyboy.
In 1997 the band started recording at Zach's house in Jeffersonville, VT. The scene was something akin to The Band's Big Pink sessions. Each of the band members wrote and sang lead on at least two songs, giving the final result, Jeffersonville, quite the varied but coherent sound.
Soon after Jeffersonville's release Mike and Chris decided to chase the dream again, this time moving to New York City with Jeff and Sasha. Knowing that Guppyboy wasn't Guppyboy without Zach, they started playing as the Essex Green with the addition of Silver Jews drummer Tim Barnes.
Click here for the Guppyboy website.
Click here to purchase Guppyboy 7" singles.
Big Heavy World lists Guppyboy's Jeffersonville available for purchase here. The Elephant Six related blog Optical Atlas has mentioned that despite the album's listing at many online cd stores, most places don't appear to have copies. To remedy this E6 Townhall's Lou2ser has made the entire album available for free download. Download the Jeffersonville zip file via Rapidshare here.
Click here for 16 Guppboy mp3s, sort of a greatest hits collection (but not the best quality).
Next up...Chapter II - the Essex Green.
Rani cassette tape -1992
Guppyboy - Fall.mp3
Guppylove tribute cassette tape - 1993
Hover - North Hyde Park.mp3 (Guppyboy cover)
Haci Baba cassette tape - 1994
Guppyboy - Fool.mp3
Guppyboy - Musician Mentor.mp3
Jeffersonville LP- 1997
Guppyboy - Wendy.m4a Link Removed
Guppyboy - Ball in the Sky.m4a Link Removed
Guppyboy - Snow Song.m4a Link Removed
Monday, March 13, 2006
When the Lights go Down in the Citay
So is the case with Citay. The resume says ex-members of Piano Magic, The Fucking Champs, and Nation of Ulysses. That's a history of spacey, sterile London space-rock, 70s/80s metal, and political post-punk, respectively. One member has production credits for albums by Sleater-Kinney, Comets On Fire, The Melvins, The Donnas, Bikini Kill, Trans Am, etc. But Ezra Feinberg, Tim Green, and Tim Soete sound nothing like their past.
Centered in San Francisco, this three piece makes post-minimalist guitar folk-rock that sits in the middle of a strange bedfellow of genres: soft rock, hippie folk, blues, and glam. Sounds are made with heaps of mandolin, glockenspiel, sitar, Casios, choral effects, 12-string guitars and a variety of percussion toys and noisemakers. The end result is full of melody and texture psych-pop - full of everything you've heard before, but interestingly unlike any of it. Like the foggy acoustic interludes on Zepplin and early Yes albums, but with vibraphones, Boston solos, and Beach Boys worthy harmonies. Pretty far removed from their cold London and Dischord past.
Citay at MySpace
Purchase their recently released self-titled debut directly from Important Records.
Citay - Nice Cuffs.mp3
Citay - Shalom of Safed.mp3
Citay - Seasons Don't Fear the Year.mp3
Friday, March 10, 2006
Live Clap Your Hands Say Yeah on NPR
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Girl Don't Tell Me
The first record I put on was the fantastic Beach Boys double LP compilation Endless Summer. Released in 1974, Endless Summer features their 1963-1966 material and was their first album since 1967. It sat at number one on the charts for two subsequent summers and spent a total of three years on the charts, the longest of any of the group's albums.
I've never been the largest Beach Boys fan, but I appreciate Pet Sounds and SMiLE. My main motivation for putting on the album was so that my 20-month year old son and I could dance - plus I thought he'd enjoy the artwork.
While dancing in the sunlit room to the classic oldie tunes - Surfin' USA, Help Me Rhonda, and the like - I came across a track on side four that totally blew me away. Girl Don't Tell Me is unlike any Beach Boys song I'd heard before - it lacks vocal harmonies, has a Motown breakdown, and the overall production is fairly simple. The solo lead vocal is performed beautifully by Carl Wilson, which marks his debut as a lead vocalist.
I find this track to be a gem. It's different enough then most of the "classics" that we all know, but it's still catchy as hell and very well written. If only the content wasn't so Lolita-ish, but I guess that's how things were done back in the mid 60s.
Beach Boys - Girl Don't Tell Me.mp3 Link Removed
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
The Vermont Way
If it hadn't happened already, Vermont can now take it's position next to those crazy liberals in California.
Five Vermont towns endorse move to impeach the president (Boston Globe)
Brookfield votes to impeach the president (Times Argus)
The Mountain Goats - The Boys are Back in Town.mp3 (Thin Lizzy Cover with R. Kelly Ignition breakdown) Link Removed
Friday, March 03, 2006
Tonight: Greg Davis
Greg Davis w/ Nest Material and Hammer & Saw - March 3 - 8 PM - Narthex, Burlington
Mr. Davis pushes the field of experimentalism in his combining of field recordings, acoustic guitar, vocals, and electronic sounds on a laptop to create what is commonly referred to as folktronica, laptop folk, or pastoral electronica. It has a feeling similar to that of The Books (with whom he'll be opening for in Vermont & Montreal in May), Prefuse 73, and Compass. But make no bones about it, he's into some pretty wild stuff, which can be illustrated in a post on his blog about an Alvin Luceir performance of "Music for Solo Performer." Alvin Lucier hooked himself up to a machine which translated his alpha brainwave signals into bass frequencies which were fed to various loudspeakers around the space. On top of or touching the loudspeakers were various drums, cymbals, gongs, and other percussion. Alvin's been doing this stuff since the mid-60s.
Nest Material is a project related to Tanner, blogger of the always random yet insightful Highgate, which also utilize found sound, but in a manner that I find at times to be a bit more accessible.
And on the topic of random, the three-woman bluegrass outfit Hammer & Saw is scheduled the scheduled opener.
If you miss this evenings performance, you can catch Greg Davis and Nest Material on Thursday, March 23 at the Firehouse Gallery on Church Street in Burlington.
Greg Davis @ Lofi - Seattle, WA - 11/6/04 - Stream
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Tonight: Kamikaze Hearts/Micah Blue Smaldone
Article on Micah Blue Smaldone from the Portland Phoenix. Promo page.
Click here for a 4 song player from Micah Blue Smaldone's latest, Hither and Thither.
Kamikaze Hearts - Five Point Turn.mp3 (live)
UPDATE: Belle & Sebastian/New Pornographers - Metropolis, Montreal - Feb. 27, 2006
The crowd was wild. So many fans, so much cheering after the first couple notes of a song, so much DANCING. These Canadians LOVE their Belle & Sebastian. The excitement and dedication of the fans made me think of my Phish days (well that and the dread locked hippie dancer in front of me). At one point I asked a French speaker what song was being playing, as I was lost amongst a full fledge sing along behind a techno beat. What I heard was "Cheerful Cowgirls off Bookends.” I still have no idea. Either way it must be off some non-major release and it seemed that everyone around me knew it.
Stuart Murdoch was in charge up on the stage. Between his banter with the audience, his self-proclaimed "Molly Ringwald dancing," and amazing power over the songs, he made me think of Bowie and Smiths era Morrissey. I'm not saying he's at that level, but he emanated mad gender-neutral bravado. Off-lead singer Stevie Jackson even stated to the crowd at one point "this is like an Elvis show," referencing the disappearance of Murdoch who had jumped off the stage and was shaking hands with the crowd.
I have a bigger appreciation for B&S's music after seeing the show. The sound was larger and stronger then it is on record. They definitely kept the sweet harmonies and cutesy lyrics, but songs like Sleep the Clock Around and Simple Things were larger, dancier, and fairly raw, while still maintaining fullness. I especially enjoyed the dirty keys on White Collor Boy - when they first started it made the whole venue shake. I hadn't noticed their prominence while listening to The Life Pursuit, but now I can't not hear it. And I love it. Another highlight was Dear Catastrophe Waitress' I'm a Cuckoo.
I also greatly enjoyed the New Pornographers. I wish we weren't in the very back of the venue, but the sightline was still pretty good. Carl Newman's niece, Kathryn Calder, did a great job with Neko Case's parts (those are some mighty big shoes). The sound was a bit more rocking then poppy, which I liked. And again, the crowd were nuts for them. I assume they get a fair amount of radio play up there, given the whole 30% native artist rule for Canadian radio and federal grants for music videos, etc.
And if you are sad that you missed the show, well you aren't completely out of luck. NPR will be webcasting Monday's show at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. as part of their Live Concert Series. The webcast starts at 8 PM and should be available for stream the following day.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Stream New Matisyahu
Matisyahu - Youth
I don't know much about MTV, I don't even have TV reception, but I'm going to assume that The Leak makes upcoming albums available for a week before it's release. Leak for a week, or something. Enjoy.
Pre-order Youth from Sony