Thursday, December 23, 2010

Take a Snow Day with Matt Pond PA

The snow... she be comin'. Or so the weather forecast says. We are probably going to stay in Columbia for the holidays rather than hitting the road for Illinois.

Matt Pond PA thinks we could all use a "Snow Day":

(Nice cello in this one.)

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Day for Ear Worms

Today I've had two alternating ear worms: Sufjan Stevens' "I Walked," with its glorious choir and unexpected beats, and Deerhunter's "Helicopter," with its aristocratic psychedelia. I'm not sure why these two tracks are duking it out in my brain.




Since moving into the new house, I've been hooking up my laptop to the surround sound and falling in love with music all over again. Last night D. invited some coworkers over for pizza, and I got to play dj for the night. These two tracks were wedged between Dave Brubeck and Beethoven, and here they are taking residence in my brain today.

Speaking of Beethoven, I've become enamored of a piece from Beethoven's 7th after watching The Fall on cable several times in the past few weeks. The Indian-produced film is one of the most beautiful I've seen, and the allegretto appears throughout the film. I found myself humming it on the way to work this morning.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

D. and I have been working on this song on his guitar and my cello. It leads me to the thing I'm most thankful for this year: the fact that we are able to live together in one amazing house. We don't need to worry about pissing off the neighbors or parking our bicycles in our living rooms anymore. Having a garage is a good thing.

"A Girl, A Guy, and a Graveyard" by Jeremy Messersmith (The Reluctant Graveyard, 2010)

By the way, the rest of the album is a solid corn casserole. You get what you're expecting, and it fills you up.

Wherever you are and whatever you do, have a great holiday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Massive Attack of Hope Sandoval

I'm at work and supposed to be finding instructional videos to enhance an Intro to Computer Concepts course, but I found this instead:

It's hypnotic and gloomy—pretty much fits my Monday morning mood.

Massive Attack teamed up with Hope Sandoval (of Mazzy Star fame) for "Paradise Circus" on February's full-length Heligoland. Then Brazilian Gui Boratto remixed the track.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Curse of Josh Ritter

(not Josh Ritter)

Lest you think I decided to relocate to Elba Island, I'm here to assure you that I'm very much back in Columbia. I've been wrapping up freelancing projects and getting ready to move into an actual house.

Last night I fell asleep on my significant other's couch watching Nosferatu, which put me in a holiday frame of mind. Bring on the vampires, werewolves, psycho killers (qu'est-ce que c'est), and mummies. Incidentally, I'm currently enamored with Josh Ritter's "The Curse" from his latest album So Runs the World Away (May 4, 2010). The song features a love story between a mummy and a scientist with a nasty curse thrown in for tragedy.

Oh, and best of all, it's a beautiful song that will make your bandages unravel. 

Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cycle Chic Sundays/Do Fun Stuff

It's been a busy few days. I did this Sunday afternoon:

PedNet's first-ever Cycle Chic Sunday was held August 29. No, it's not a music-related event, but come on, it involves bikes and heels and sweating in dryclean-only clothes while pedaling around Columbia. The folks from PedNet are trying to grow this event, and upcoming rides may end with Shakespeare's pizza and a RagTag film. Be sure to come to the next one in September and wear your nattiest threads.

Also, Kate from Capturing CoMo tipped her readers off this week to a compilation for a cause: Do Fun Stuff, Vol. 1, an album compiled by Pacing the Panic Room blogger Ryan Marshall. Sales from the album on iTunes raise funds for Smith-Magenis research.

Give the tracks a listen and spread the word. It's "Potty Time"!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Stars: The Five Ghosts

By now you've likely heard Stars' newest single "Fixed." If you haven't, check out the video below. Like most Stars songs, it shines bright with listener-friendly energy and clarity. And in case you want a whole album's-worth of new Stars material, their latest, The Five Ghosts, was released in June, with reviewers describing it as a darker album, less sing-songy and trite.

As long as Amy Millan's voice keeps streaking high across the galaxy, the exhilaration of Stars will never wear off.

Listening to Millan reminds me of the awe my twelve-year-old self felt the first time I heard the Sundays' Harriet Wheeler sing "Here's Where the Story Ends" in 1989. Some girls listened to Tiffany and some girls listened to Debbie Gibson, but I was a Sundays' girl from that moment on. (Um... I also had a strange obsession with '40s band leader Glenn Miller, so it's no surprise I was a walking target in 7th grade.)

The Sundays' song is timeless. I still love it, which I can't say about most music I listened to then. (I'm not really "In the Mood" these days.)

There's just something about a crystal clear voice that could break glass... If I could be reincarnated as a singer, I'd want to be Amy Millan.

Here's the video for "Fixed":

But "The Aspidistra Files" is still my favorite Stars song:


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

9th Street Summerfest Wednesday

 (The Carolina Chocolate Drops)

Don't forget Wednesday night's 9th Street Summerfest concert featuring the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Big Smith, and The Hatrick. Like most people, I love freebies. My sister-in-law has already invited me to meet up with her and my brother to check out what's sure to be a high-energy show. She and I went to see Big Smith last spring, and I have never seen a more riled-up crowd. Big Smith fans like to dance. A LOT. I've also heard really good things about the Carolina Chocolate Drops since they played the Roots 'n' Blues Fest last year.

The Blue Note's doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Get Localized: Y&G and CAT tv

Columbia loves its music. We even have our own music co-op, Yards and Gods, which is always coming up with fresh ideas to promote its bands and give you music for free—yes, for FREE. At the end of July, Michael from Y & G sent me a new Nonreturner video for "Sockhops" off 2008's The Nonreturner. Slacker that I am, I'm just now posting it, but needless to say, it is here and it is creative and it involves sock puppets. Watch the sock puppets play miniature instruments on stage in front of a small crowd of sock puppet groupies. The best part about this video is the sock puppets' mastery of shoegaze. Playing in a forest of snowy trees, the sock puppets take this amazing song to a whole new level of introspective bliss. It's a fun way to introduce yourself to Nonreturner if you haven't heard them yet.

You can also listen to two tracks from Arthurian Honey's latest single on the Yards and Gods site. The Austin, Texans bring you "Honey, You're My Friend" and "Loose Lips Sink Ships"—two tracks that both ripple like sunshine on water.

The Arthurian Honey single is just the first of many Yards and Gods Singles Club releases to come. Visit the Y&G site each week for a free digital single-of-the-week.

Be sure you check out the second Y&G Singles Club single from Conceal and Carry, as it features former Columbian Carrie Wade (who writes darn good album reviews on her site Colossal Youth) along with Zach Biri from Nonreturner (who also has his own site Black Block Faxes). Both tracks, "Space Walk" and "Solar Flares," feature layers of chilly ambience perfect for down-tempo moments. I gave them a listen Wednesday night and was transfixed. If you appreciate understated beauty, you'll love these hypnotic gems.

Also earlier this summer, Trevor from Kansas City tipped me off to CAT tv's Notes from Underground. Our local cable access channel features live bands each Saturday afternoon. Check out the schedule to see which local bands are playing when. I haven't seen any of these recordings yet, but the idea of watching god-knows-who perform appeals to something in my voyeuristic side.

(The FFR)

And finally, don't forget to support our other local favorites The Foundry Field Recordings when they play Mojo's this Friday night. Doors open at 9:00 and tickets are a low $5.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bike Commuting and Ray LaMontagne

This is how my day started:

That's me on the right. (Thank you to my significant other for snapping this photo with his iPhone while towing his border collie behind us in the Tail Wagon.)

The only thing that could make this day better would be (a) getting back on my bike and riding away from work and (b) checking out Ray LaMontagne's new album, God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise, which he recorded with new band the Pariah Dogs. It just came out yesterday.

Judging from the name of the new album and the look of the cover, I would expect nothing less than southern-fried roots rock and jug band bliss. But the best part of any LaMontagne album is the man's voice.

I owe another thank you to my partner in musical crime for telling me about this yesterday.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ending the Summer with First Aid Kit's "Hard Believer"

It's the last week before the university's fall semester begins. It's the last week I will be able to park on the street directly in front of my office building. It's also the last quiet week we'll have around here for a while.

If you are a student, I mean no offense. Your very existence is my bread and butter. However, you and your kind sure do muck up traffic and shake up our sleepy town.

Of course, as a precursor to the returning student mob next week, sorority girls have been congregating in the area around Rollins and parading up the street in matching clothes. Is this rush week? I don't get the greek thing, so I don't know how it works. But I am creeped out. Yesterday I had to cross the street in front of about 60 new recruits in matching shorts and t-shirts led by three girls with inflatable electric guitars and Elton John sunglasses. Oh, and they sing sometimes, too.

But let's talk about actual singing and guitar playing.

I drove to work this morning listening to First Aid Kit's "Hard Believer" on KCOU, which always makes me sing along like a drunken, lovesick cowgirl. Even when I'm spaced out and thinking about other things, I find myself singing along. I don't know if I really even like this song, but it does make me yodel—quietly when I'm distracted and loudly when I'm feeling joyous.

It would be beyond creepy if there were 100 girls walking around on Rollins looking like the little fairy princesses from First Aid Kit.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


One of my birthday treats this year was going to a Ragtag film, Micmacs, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the same guy behind one of my favorite films, Amelie. Micmacs is no Amelie, but it did feature whimsy and color and creativity and a plot involving arms dealing and underground misfits.

Here's the trailer:

I also opened a big FedEx package of more freelance work the day before my birthday, which is why this post is short, short, short. This week looks to be a busy one, but I'll do my best to check in as much as I can.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

It's my birthday.

I put this song on my significant other's birthday mix last summer, and I sort of like it myself.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Searching for Shooting Stars

 (Dammit, this is what I want to see!)

Last night I looked for meteors in the eastern sky but saw only one brief streak through all the light pollution in town. The same thing happened last year: I stared out the window for an hour and saw one meteor instead of a deluge. Granted, I know nothing about meteor showers; I do know I'm supposed to go out in the country in the middle of the night and be patient, but I always sort of remember the shower at the last minute and still somehow hope to catch parts of it anyway. Are my expectations too high? Did anyone see the Perseids meteor "shower" Thursday night?

Sometimes I feel this way when I'm looking for new music: there's a whole lotta searching and only one shooting star in the bunch. I read Paste when I see it laying around, and I check out iTunes, and I listen to KCOU, and I sometimes remember to stream Pandora, and I read other people's music blogs, but I don't have as much time to sit and be patient these days.

A coworker recently asked me what I listen to. He's an older guy in his late forties, and he explained that the last artist he really liked was Natalie Merchant.

He loved Tiger Lily, but since then, all bands have sounded like Coldplay imitators to him. Oh, and he likes Eminem.

Okay, so where do I go with this? We have a pretty broad spectrum of possibilities between Natalie Merchant and Eminem, with the dead zone of Coldplay somewhere in the middle. I recommended KCOU to him, but I realize in retrospect that this was pretty lazy and weak. I suspect he got in his car that night, turned on KCOU, caught five seconds of Deerhoof, and no longer trusts my opinion.

To make up for this, I thought I could make him a cd and put safe stuff on it like Hem and Neko Case and Damien Rice and anything else acoustic. Maybe one of the most interesting things about making a mixed tape for someone else is realizing along the way how you think of them. My coworker is open to new things, but he also has a talking Yoda on his desk, and on Wednesday nights he goes home and destresses with his own made-up version of tai chi.

 (This is not my coworker, but I imagine this is what he looks like doing his rogue tai chi.)

I don't think we'll be exchanging Surfer Blood cds anytime soon. But the challenge remains to share some new music with him and see what he thinks. More likely, my shooting stars will be his light pollution.

I face a similar challenge in the Mix CD Smackdown when I try to introduce our friends to some new music and make a better cd than my partner in musical crime. I don't have to play it safe like I do with my coworker, but I still have to try to cater to the tastes of others and also win the contest.

Filtering for others' likes and dislikes makes it hard to spot new music for a specific project. One person's Bonnie Raitt is another person's Susan Tedeschi. For example, we all got into a discussion the other night about Pink Floyd versus Led Zeppelin versus the Grateful Dead versus the Who. (The general consensus is that Led Zeppelin rocks, but we were equally divided on our love and hatred for the other three bands.)

As for my coworker, perhaps I should suggest 30 Seconds to Mars? "Kings and Queens" is used in everything these days—movie previews, sports coverage, commercials, muzak, American Idol, Glee, weddings, bar mitzvahs, porn, etc. Curse you, Jared Leto for finding a way to actually get paid for that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Love Language Shares Its "Libraries"

(The Love Language)

A few weeks ago my partner in musical crime and I heard a track on KCOU that we both liked. We took advantage of KCOU's new to identify the song before we forgot about it. (By the way, KCOU, it's about time you gave us a site like this. My biggest gripe has always been your smug withholding of song/artist identification.) And so we discovered that The Love Language has a new album, Libraries (released July 13), blending '60s croon-and-swoon with easy/breezy handclaps and guitar.

The song we heard, "Summer Dust," is perfect for weather like ours that makes you feel like you've been baked into summer dust; it makes its lilting way across the space between your ears and demands nothing from you but a willingness to chill out and daydream about young love and summer and hummingbirds.

The more popular "Heart to Tell" shakes things up to a sweat-inducing level. It's the bratty kid sister of 2009's raucous "Lalita." (Actually, I think I'm partial to the distortion and angst of the earlier track; this one is much more lighthearted.)

"Heart to Tell" by The Love Language


I'm still kicking myself for missing The Love Language when they were in Columbia earlier this year. But not to worry: They're playing The Blue Note with Local Natives on October 3. It should be a can't-miss show.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A.A. Bondy and JBM at Mojo's Tuesday

 (A.A. Bondy)

Escape from the heat tonight ... or pack yourself into Mojo's with a bunch of other sweaty music lovers and catch A.A. Bondy with opening act JBM. (I saw JBM at Mojo's in April and instantly loved his voice.)

Doors open at 8:00, and tickets will only set you back $8. Come on, it's a steal!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Seizing the Day Half-Assedly

 The Carpe Diem Beginner String Ensemble

Where the heck have I been? Sorry about that. June and July were busy here at A Ravenous Horde headquarters. I developed some nasty blogging habits—like not updating my monthly concert calendar and...well, not posting.

Two good things: I got an A in my class. I got paid for my first freelance job.

I did not do those two things half-assedly.

And Wednesday night we wrapped up the summer session of the beginner string orchestra at Carpe Diem (see above). My noisome sextet performed for a group of kind friends and even a sweaty cable repair man, who decided he needed to check out Carpe Diem's cable in the middle of the recital, which involved entering and exiting mid-performance and bending over to show his crack. He did stay for our final number, "Chariots of Fire," but declined to partake of the refreshments. Vangelis would have been proud.

The performance reminded me of when I was a kid and used to write plays and perform them in the garage for those neighbors who were indulgent enough to come watch. Perhaps this is the theme of my life? I'm good at half-assing things for the amusement of acquaintances?

I suppose that's a trend that continues in this blog, except I'm half-assing things for friends and a bunch of blogospherians.

Right now I'm getting psyched up for a mixed cd contest with my musical partner in crime. Our two friends will be judging the cds and voting on their favorite, so the pressure is on to find some new music and win the Cd Mixoff. This means I'll probably have lots of new stuff to share with you in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Band of Horses at The Blue Note Tonight (SOLD OUT)

I'm back from vacation, bummed that it's over, bummed by humidity, and bummed about being back in the office. And I'm bummed that I'm bummed.

But tonight is the Band of Horses show at The Blue Note—no bummer there—and I'm leaving for a mini-vacation to Michigan tomorrow, so I should stop my bitching. I can stay up late tonight, hear songs from the new BOH album Infinite Arms live, and sleep in the car tomorrow.

Bryan Cates is opening, and doors open at 7:30.

(The show sold out while I was in the process of writing this post.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On Vacation

I haven't forgotten about you, but I've been trying to wrap stuff up this week before I leave for this place:

That's Crested Butte, CO. It's summer vacation time with me, man, and dog.

I'll try to be better about posting here when I return.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Morning Teleportation and The Mynabirds at Mojo's, June 9

 (Morning Teleportation and their skinny pants)

I'm a glutton for punishment and just started going back to school this week. So now I'm working two jobs and taking an online course. Really, it's not that much, but I miss just reading a book, and I'm still trying to run and practice my cello and enjoy the warm weather, and whew... I'm learning that sometimes it's better to THINK before taking on too much all at once. Anyway, my poor little blog is suffering from neglect.

But I do want to mention briefly that Morning Teleportation and The Mynabirds will be at Mojo's tomorrow night. Doors open at 8:00, and tickets are a low, low $8.

Friday, June 4, 2010

June Jamboree

Last Saturday and Sunday I communed with fellow cyclists and a ravenous horde of mosquitoes and ticks during the annual Pedaler's Jamboree to Boonville. Split Lip Rayfield and a few similar opening bands provided the bluegrassy ambiance for us as we set up our tent in the sun. After $2 showers at the adjoining YMCA, my partner in musical crime and I walked with friends and their hungry chilluns to the local A&W where we'd been promised  the best root beer around. (For the record, my root beer float was good but not as good as the few bites I snagged from my partner's Buck's ice cream float the weekend before. Buck's wins.)

(Buck's parlour of goodness)

Sunday I went to my first crawfish boil. We don't have these in Chicago. I have to confess to a curious love of this sort of thing. Standing around a table ripping the tails and legs off a bunch of red sea things in the scalding sun? Unique! Wacky! I love it. It makes me feel like I'm on vacation.

(This is how it's done...)

I'm not sure what this weekend will bring. I'm intrigued by Sedalia's Scott Joplin Festival but won't likely make the drive because of other things—like a wicked proofreading deadline and dinner plans with friends at my paramour's place Saturday night. Speaking of which, I need to compile a playlist of several hours of eclectic tunes for the event...

Hermann has its Taste for the Arts; there's Art in the Park; and I'm sure there are other events in the area that feature the word "art." We are an art-lovin' bunch here in mid-Missouri.

I owe you a music calendar for June and many music-related posts. I have become a half-assed blogger these days. Mea culpa.

One last thing: Thanks to Zac of The Comoian for pointing out that my Twitter account may have been compromised. I apparently sent the entire Yards and Gods group a tantalizing offer for erectile enhancement. Sorry, folks, the only post I'm working on right now is this one.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Aural Fix: "Dilly" by Band of Horses

Pre-sale tickets for the July 14 Band of Horses show at The Blue Note are available today between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Band of Horses just released their latest, Infinite Arms, on May 18. Frontman Ben Bridwell and company relocated from Seattle to South Carolina and self-produced Infinite Arms with a little help from Modest Mouse producer Phil Ek. They're definitely heading in a mainstream direction, but many of the tracks on the new album are gentle gems not necessarily guaranteed to snare a mass-market crowd in search of poppy hooks or bombastic riffs.

In honor of the warm weather and the long holiday weekend, here's the easy/breezy single "Dilly" from Infinite Arms.

"Dilly" by Band of Horses

[[MP3 removed...]]

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Have Proof...

...reading that is. And lots of it, which explains why I've been unable to post. I've been spending all my free time editing a no-fun, no-music medical coding textbook. I am poor. This is why I sell my soul to a multinational Dutch publishing company. Ironically, I spent seven years in Chicago working for this same Dutch company's Dutch competitor...

Just one bit of news for today: I hear that Hennessy Music is going out of business after more than 30 years. I've been meaning to stop by to see what sort of sales they're running. I'm in the market for a piano (although a clavinova would be better for apartment livin'). Hennessy will be closing its doors at the end of June.

I'll be back soon.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Paper Planes for The Clientele

I ran my first 10K this Saturday at the Jay Dix Challenge to Cure 5K/10K run at Flatbranch Park. There's nothing like running from downtown to the Hearnes Center and back... and then doing it again. You'd think I would have spent those 50-something minutes listening to new music on my iPod, but I don't like running with one.

(Running in the no-iPod world)

I also can't read/work with music on (it's a concentration thing), and sadly, I spent most of my time inside this weekend freelance proofreading a textbook on medical coding. (Now I know the codes for ruptured esophagus and candidiasis of the lip.) I did manage to get out on Saturday night to visit my brother and his wife. We watched a DVD of The Brothers Bloom:

The music was good, and I was inspired to make a camera obscura from a watermelon.

(I actually want to try it with something less sticky. I've always been curious about these things.)

Driving home later, I heard the KCOU dj talking about The Clientele's cover of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes," which they recorded for a recent covers project. Apparently, The Onion has a print/web-based entertainment newspaper called The A.V. Club (for "audiovisual") that features real, non-Oniony, interviews, reviews, etc. (and a venti-load of Starbucks advertising).

One of The A.V. Club's recent projects is A.V. Undercover, a plan to shoot music videos of artists covering a song they choose from a list of A.V. Club-selected songs. And so The Clientele showed up early and opted to step outside their mod comfort zone by covering "Paper Planes"... although they manage to Georgie Girl it up anyway. Nah, I kid. It's all good fun. You can watch it here.

(The Clientele)

This should be an interesting project. So far Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Fruit Bats, Alkaline Trio, Cursive, and others have stepped into the studio. Pavement's "Cut Your Hair" remains unclaimed, along with notable tracks from The Smiths, The Cure, The Lemonheads, R.E.M., Nirvana, etc.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Redesigning and Discovering The Comoian

(RIP for today)

I had some time to kill at work Thursday and decided to mess with this blog's design. I don't think the title graphic is large enough, but it's a work in progress. Check back for more completely random design updates soon. (In other words, I'm a bit nonplussed, but I don't have Photoshop on my Mac so a new graphic will have to wait until I'm back in the office.)

But in more exciting news, Columbia has a handy new site for aggregatorial delight: The Comoian, run by local brew-blogger Zac. (Zac has a blog devoted to two of his passions: beer and Pavement, which you can check out here.) The Comoian is your addictive source for local tidbits on everything from upcoming Blue Note concerts to ongoing sobriety checks—all delivered with sarcastic flair. I found myself checking back to The Comoian several times Thursday afternoon after Zac tipped me off about it. For the time-deprived or the non-mindful, the site offers a constantly updated list of CoMo-related blurbs gathered from blogs and traditional news sources alike, offering a "best of the best" in instant gratification. Read as much or as little as you like. I'm hooked.

Zac tips us all off to next week's Midlake concert at The Blue Note. More about this show to come... But he's right. Don't miss it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Falling into The Temper Trap

(The Temper Trap)

Last weekend I started studying for the GRE, ran the trail, and walked through PedNet's Bike, Walk, and Wheel Week kickoff Saturday and Earth Day Sunday with my partner in musical crime. Earth Day can best be summed up with lots of bongos and girls with rainbow-colored hair and hula hoops. The environmental displays attempted to ground the festival and keep it from embarking on its own self-indulgent acid trip. But we didn't really stop to smell the organic flowers.

(Mother Earth Day)

Late Sunday found us at Broadway Brewery for a bluegrass jam and lots of beer. We missed my friend's friend playing his mandolin, but we didn't miss out on the beer. Apparently, the jam is a weekly feature at Broadway Brewery, and anyone can join in, provided you're somewhat acquainted with obscure Scottish/Irish folktunes written in 6/8 time. Drink enough beer, and you'll think you know them.

All this talk of beer, hippies, and hula hoops has me thinking music. We need something new this week... Last summer Aussies The Temper Trap released their first studio album, Conditions, featuring the single "Fools." Apparently, the band just created a monolithic stir of Ayers Rockian proportions at this year's SXSW and Coachella music festivals. And it's easy to see why: lead singer Dougie Mandagi has a falsetto voice that's harder to overlook than a giant red rock on the horizon.

If you like what you hear, you can see The Temper Trap at either Crossroads in Kansas City on June 8 or The Pageant in St. Louis on June 9.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Aural Fix 4/30/2010: Peter Gabriel and Bon Iver Scratch Each Others' Backs

Peter Gabriel promised a mutual back scratching with his latest release, Scratch My Back (March 2), a compilation of covers from Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Paul Simon, Lou Reed, Magnetic Fields, etc. Justin Vernon (a.k.a. Bon Iver) took him up on the offer: Gabriel covered Bon Iver's "Flume," and Bon Iver covered Gabriel's "Come Talk to Me."

You can listen to what each has done with the other's track below. Both covers are also available as a split 7".

"Come Talk to Me (Peter Gabriel Cover)" by Bon Iver

Download "Come Talk to Me" [mp3]

Enjoy and have a nice weekend.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dragon Tattoos and Mynabirds

This past Saturday night the horizontal rain drove my significant other and I indoors, but we had prepaid Ragtag tickets to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And so we were driven outdoors. It was the most crowded film I've seen at Ragtag so far. That's probably due to the heavy radio promotion the film's been getting on local stations and on NPR. Do I sense another Da Vinci Code?

(What's the code for really-overrated-book-that-may-be-the-worst-piece-of-crap-I've-ever-wasted-time-reading? Oh wait, that would be Twilight.)

Cringe. Perhaps.

It's hard to tell. The Swedish film is based on the first of a wildly popular trilogy of suspense/mystery novels from deceased author Stieg Larsson.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Vintage)
The phrase "wildly popular" raises all sorts of red flags for me, but I haven't read the novel, so I can't say whether it's the latest stack of book club fodder or if there's actually some good writing within. The film was intense. Sure, it followed suspense conventions and had a sexsational plot, but it was completely absorbing and chilly as its Swedish scenery. Oh, and Noomi Rapace's character is an ass-kicker.

Naturally, American filmmakers are going to Dan Brown things up with their own lame-ass version.

This is not to imply that things liked by the masses are bad. I love Harry Potter, but I hate Bella What's-Her-Nuts. It's all a matter of taste. Since the show last week, my partner in musical crime can't stop singing songs from Rogue Wave's Permalight. I wrote less than enthusiastic things about Permalight last week, but he bought the album and thinks it's fantastic.

I actually have this song stuck in my head:

"Numbers Don't Lie" by The Mynabirds

Download "Numbers Don't Lie" [mp3]

(Be forewarned: yet more rampant 60s nostalgia)

The Mynabirds are Laura Burhenn (formerly of defunct Georgie James) and Richard Swift. They recorded their debut album What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood (released April 27) in the hills of Oregon last summer. Their website says that they always wanted to make a record equal parts Neil Young and Motown. Who knew there was an actual 60s group, The Mynah Birds, featuring none other than Neil Young and Rick James? You can see where the Mynabirds get their moniker.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Aural Fix 4/23/2010: "Not Even in July" by JBM

One of the best things about Tuesday night's Rogue Wave concert was catching the opening act, JBM, a singer/songwriter molded from the same raw material as Jim James and Gregory Alan Isakov. His first album Not Even in July was officially released (Partisan Records) on April 13, although it was recorded back in 2008 and self-released last year.

JBM is Jesse Marchant, a New Yorker with a seriously good voice. He played "From Me to You and You to Me" (listen below) at Mojo's using loops for the slide guitar. My friend and I sat on the floor for his set and forgot our crappy work days as we focused on the music in that moment. This type of thing is perfect for a wee venue like Mojo's.

Marchant spent some time in Los Angeles in 2009 and recorded the soundtrack for the Canadian film Lovers in a Dangerous Time. He also created a stir at this year's SXSW festival.

"From Me to You and You to Me"

Download "From Me to You and You to Me" [mp3]

Some people hate the whole singer/songwriter thing. Singing with an acoustic guitar isn't edgy or experimental; it's boring, it's safe... but I knew I liked JBM as soon as I opened his website and previewed the first track on his playlist. I was further convinced an hour later when I saw him onstage. Some people win the vocal lottery and are born with voices like this. Others take up the cello.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earlove: Rogue Wave at Mojo's, 4/20/2010

(Rogue Wave at Mojo's via iPhone)

Months and months ago August Forte from Chicago-based Novo Arts sent me some free Earlove earplugs to test out. I'm sorry to say I haven't been to a concert since the not-too-loud Big Smith in March, and I completely forgot to bring the earplugs for that one. I think I had it in my head that I wanted to test them out at a really loud show in a really tiny venue—like Rogue Wave at Mojo's Tuesday night.

Granted, I only showed half of my ears some ear love: my partner in musical crime and I each wore one earplug a piece, but our one protected ear was very happy. The Earlove earplugs are soft, squishy, and unobtrusive. They allow you to hear everything without that muffled feel. It's like turning down the volume on a show without even being aware of it. (If you're reading this, August, we loved the earplugs and need another pair.)


We didn't need the earplugs for JBM, a Brooklyn-based singer with an incredible voice. He performed a soulful, acoustic set before MAN/MIRACLE took the stage and completely switched up the mood. They rattled our brains with machine-gun drum jams and... in went the earplugs. My one exposed ear was sufficiently throttled.

(MAN/MIRACLE: This is obviously not my photo, but this is what they looked during their set... lots of sweaty energy.)

There was a slight delay before Rogue Wave took the stage. My friend and I spent some time talking to a guy he knows who bootlegs shows as a hobby and posts them on his website. Consider him a connoisseur of sorts: he plugs his laptop directly into the soundboard at a show (with permission, of course) and captures his own unique recordings of live sets. He's all geared up for Matt Pond PA next month and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros in June (which makes my significant other cringe; he hates the whole revived-hippie schtick).

Mojo's was full but not packed with a mixed crowd of college hipsters and thirtysomethings. Half of Columbia was probably over at The Blue Note to see OK Go, a fact Rogue Wave themselves alluded to when they took the stage and frontman Zach Rogue said, "Hey, Columbia. We're a little band called OK Go. You might have heard of us?" While the crowd wasn't huge, everyone showed lots of love and cheered when the band asked if they should stay another night in Columbia and play a show at The Blue Note instead of driving to Tulsa as planned.

The set opened with five or six songs from Rogue Wave's latest, Permalight. (They saved the actual song "Permalight" for the encore.) No complaints here: these guys deliver live. Older Rogue Wave is still my favorite, but one new song, "I'll Never Leave You," was less fizzy than some of the latest singles and suggests deeper cuts on Permalight.

The band then launched into old favorites, including "Publish My Love," "Eyes", and "Lake Michigan." JBM and one other guy (he may have been from MAN/MIRACLE) jumped onstage to kick "Lake Michigan" off with a primal drum solo. It was the highlight of the show.

Another highlight was meeting drummer Pat Spurgeon after the show (aka, the "dude with the hair").

Last fall my partner and I watched a PBS special, D Tour, about Spurgeon's search for a kidney donor and the challenges he faced touring and undergoing dialysis. On our way out Tuesday, we stopped him to thank him for the show and ask how he's doing. Spurgeon is (no surprise) a laidback guy. He says he's doing great and seems happy to be playing music again. He told us Rogue Wave is touring again in the fall.

It was a late night, but there was Earlove inside and out. Thank you, August, and thank you, Rogue Wave. My ears are grateful.