Friday, February 26, 2010

Aural Fix 2/26/2010: "Gorilla Manor" by Local Natives

This week I stumbled across Local Natives, a five-piece band from Silver Lake, Los Angeles, who've been getting some recent KCOU airplay thanks to the release of their debut album Gorilla Manor (February 16). Most reviewers have been raving about the band's lush vocal harmonies, reminiscent of Fleet Foxes, and their driving percussion and momentum, which some have compared to that of labelmates The Dodos. Like Grizzly Bear and similar bands, Local Natives dispense with the frontman format and share vocals. While not exactly breaking new ground (who isn't compared to Fleet Foxes these days?), they do gather several recent music trends into one very enjoyable album. And they throw in a Talking Heads cover for good measure ("Warning Sign").

Check out Gorilla Manor:

Early concert announcement:
If you like what you hear, you can see them at Mojo's on May 19.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Triple Salchow Smackdown

Tonight is the women's figure skating final at the Vancouver Olympics. If, like me, you geek it up at this moment every four years—and have ever since the "Battle of the Carmens" between Katarina Witt and Debi Thomas at the 1988 Olympics—you'll be glued to your set to watch the little pixies throw down on ice.

(1988 Olympic podium: Witt and Thomas fight over Georges Bizet (and gold).)

Swept up in the figure skating fervor, Paste staffers created a list of eleven dream songs for their own Olympic routines—if any of them had the chops to complete more than a single rotation in skates.

(Assistant Paste editor Mike Saba, who requests Phil Collins' "Mama" for his free skate)

Paste editor Rachel Maddux swears that only Sigur Ros' "Gobbledigook" will do for her triple lutz, while managing editor Nick Marino takes a more mainstream approach, requesting Cher's fabulous "Believe." 

Oddly, no skaters in this Olympics have chosen any indie music for their routines. We have yet to see Evgeni Plushenko drop a quad to Animal Collective's "My Girls" or Rachel Flatt do a camel spin to Royksopp's "Happy in Here." How sad. Now, don't get me wrong. I loved the Canadian ice dancers' gold-medal performance to Mahler, but every now and again, a bit of experimentation is in order.

(A well-shod Johnny Weir)

In Monday night's ice dancing final, the Scottish brother/sister pair of Kerr and Kerr performed their final skate to Linkin Park, prompting me to look at a calendar and pinch myself to see if I'd fallen into some late-90s time warp where rap-rockers like Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit rule the airwaves. Fortunately, no. And strangely, the music worked for the routine, proving that even dreck can become "arty" with the help of stunning visuals.

(Edgy sibling angst! For the record, I can't imagine skating this way with my brother.)

My figure skating music of choice? Bjork's "It's Oh So Quiet." Never mind that my ice skating abilities haven't been tested since a fifth-grade field trip to the local skating rink.

Bjork - It's Oh So Quiet
Uploaded by scopitones. - Explore more music videos.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kel Green and Friends at the Rocheport General Store, 2/26/10

 (The Rocheport General Store)

One of my favorite nearby towns is tiny, eclectic Rocheport. You can hop in your car or grab your bike and be in this little outpost of art and eclecticism in half an hour. Abigail's is one of my favorite restaurants...


...and practically right next door to it is the Rocheport General Store, which features local folk music in an intimate setting. This Friday night singer/songwriter Kel Green will be playing there with Paul Zullo from 8:00 to 10:30.

(Kel Green and Friends)

Kel Green sent me an invite for the show last week, and the invitation reads as follows:

So pleased to invite all of you back to historic downtown Rocheport, MO. for another eclectic serving of American music performed by singer/songwriter Kel Green and Boone County's resident resonator guru Paul Zullo. A special guest or two will also thicken the roux.

John and Dean will be serving up all your libation and food needs, including their famous open-faced brisket and newly added Shakespeare’s Pizza. All this in a setting straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Bring your wife, bring your husband, or bring yourself. But be sure to bring a healthy appetite to fall in love again with the human condition.

I've been wanting to hear music at the General Store ever since I saw a band there while leaving Abigail's last May. I remember how the upright bass player smiled contentedly at me through the storefront window of the packed Store, and I thought to myself, I could be happy here.

Come and get your own dose of happy this Friday night with Kel Green. Escape the cold, eat pizza, and hear great music in an old-time general store ... could be the perfect cure for too much True/False-ing.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


With February drawing to a close, everyone is getting a little stir crazy and craving activity. And so festival season begins its slow wind-up to the ultimate climax of summer. Today the 18th annual Noise Pop Festival gets under way out in San Francisco. If you or I were fortunate enough to be traveling in San Francisco this week (instead of reading this blog), we could see Rogue Wave, The Dodos, Edward Sharpe and the Zeros, Atlas Sound, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Mark Kozelek, The Magnetic Fields, and a host of other performers, along with screenings of selected films, including Blood into Wine (Maynard James Keenan crafts wine in the desert) and The Secret to a Happy Ending (the Drive-By Truckers share their story).

(True/False 2009)

But wait! We here in Columbia have our own little film festival this weekend... a little festival known as True/False. This is only my second winter in Columbia, and I've yet to check out the True/False hoopla. Frankly, it sounds like a cluster, but lest I come across as overly cranky and self-righteous, I should mention that I have a pass to a Sunday showing of GasLand. I'm going to see what all the fuss is about and keep my cynicism to a minimum.

After all, there's only so much ice dancing you can watch in a week.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Skiing on Indie's Grave

(Lindsey in excellent form)

I gave up free tickets to the Civic Orchestra Saturday night to spend time with my partner in music crime before he left for a week-long conference. We were on our way, actually, to the Missouri Theatre when we both admitted that neither of us was in the mood to fight the rain to hear a Prokofiev piece neither of us knows. So we went home instead and cooked a pizza and watched the Olympics while he packed. I did feel slightly guilty giving up an hour of classical music for several hours of two-man bobsled and men's Super G. But the guilt didn't last long. I've been torturing myself all week with Suzuki practice pieces for cello and the Bach Prelude in G, and I felt entitled to crack open a Fat Tire, half-watch the Olympics, and flip through a library book of National Geographic photos while playing with my friend's hair on the couch.

On his coffee table was the latest Paste magazine:

I confess to feeling nonplussed. Most days I don't care if indie is dead, as long as the music I like lives on. Call it "gerbil grunting" or "slovakian soul"...I don't care. I seem to remember similar articles in the 90s: "Is Alternative Dead?" "Is Grunge Dead?" Well, honestly, who gives a flying flannel? Great music was still made post-90s. Great music will continue to be made in the teens—perhaps not under the passé catch-all "indie"—but under some other handy term.

Music comes and goes and names change, but the all-important stuff—like spending time with someone fantastic—lasts by any term or definition.

Maybe I just miss my friend. Maybe if I read the Paste article, I'd get something relevant out of it. What does the passing of "indie" say about our culture, for instance? Has the corporate music machine become such a dinosaur that independent musicians and culture rule the earth? Is this all due to the rise of the Internet and the ease of self-recording and self-promotion? Probably. There isn't really a need for the term "indie" these days, except to distinguish between, say, Fleet Foxes and Adam Lambert.

I'm more concerned that Fleet Foxes will release another album and that Adam Lambert will shut up about how gay he is. Yawn. Most of all, I want my friend to come home so we can watch what's left of the Olympics together next weekend. If indie rolls over in the night and breathes its last, well, then R.I.P., O catchphrase of the moment.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Aural Fix 2/18/10: "Ambling Alp" by Yeasayer

I'm not what you would call a naysayer about Yeasayer, but I haven't liked everything I've heard from the exuberant bunch. However, "Ambling Alp," the first single off their new album Odd Blood, released February 8, sounds like the glorious love child of Tears for Fears and Depeche Mode. Just watching the video makes my face feel all rubbery and relaxed. It also makes me want to frolic and roll all bare-assed down a hillside. You'll see what I mean: work-friendly this video is not.

"Ambling Alp" by Yeasayer

Download "Ambling Alp" [mp3]

Yeasayer is a Brooklyn-based band whose first album, All Hour Cymbals, came out in 2007. (Their myspace page describes them as "ENYA with BOUNCE.") They first came to my attention last summer when my partner in musical crime added them to the mixcd he gifted me with shortly after we met. Yes, indeed, love truly is a mixtape–especially when it involves lots of weird tribal shouting from Yeasayer.
If you're so inclined, you can sail away to St. Louis on April 26 to see them at The Gargoyle (Washington University's student-run concert venue).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Foundry Field Recordings in St. Louis, 2/19

Billy Schuh sent me an invite recently to come see his band The Foundry Field Recordings at the new Antarctica Lounge in St. Louis this Friday night. They'll be opening for Mount Righteous starting at 9:00. I probably won't be hopping in the car this weekend thanks to what feels like a wicked cold coming on, but it sounds like a solid show. And you can check out the fresh stylings of a new music venue:

 (Antarctica Lounge)

$7 gets you in the door.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Josh Rouse Will Live on Islands

Monday, fresh off the Caribbean boat, I was offered free Ladysmith Black Mambazo tickets from a coworker. I wasn't able to take them, but it got me thinking about Paul Simon. This, combined with my longing for the tropical graceland I left last week, made me crave some island beats.

While I wouldn't want to live on St. John or any of the other Virgin Islands, I feel no shame singing along with this track from Josh Rouse's latest, El Turista, due out February 22.

"I Will Live on Islands" by Josh Rouse

Download "I Will Live on Islands" [mp3]

Rouse lives in Spain with his Spanish wife and child. (His wife, Paz Suay, famously collaborated with him on the album She's Spanish, I'm American.)

Originally a Nebraska native and former resident of Tennessee, Rouse has been recording since the late 90s. His latest album mixes things up with cross-cultural influences from Brazilian samba to Cuban mambo, interlaced with Spanish lyrics.

At this time of year, I usually feel the pull of mixtape fever, and it's coming on strong—much like spring, frankly, isn't. This track is going on my pre-spring mix, likely following some Orchestra Baobab, which always makes me feel happy and joyous and frolicsome.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Did Not Step on One of These...

 (Lurking sea urchin)

I'm still on island time and not feeling very motivated to write about music this week. I'd rather be lying on the beach listening to the music of the waves, as corny as that sounds.

However, I do feel refreshed and not as crabby as I thought I would this week—especially coming back to snow and cold and the Midwest.

It's not so bad. I'm tan. I've been listening to bad reggae/rap on the radio all week. It's enough for now.

Early Concert Announcement

Midlake (this week's Aural Fix) will be playing The Blue Note on Friday, May 14.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

Girls at The Blue Note, 2/8/2010

I'm on an island right now, but I'm assuming this post will pop up as scheduled.

If you happen to be going to the Girls show Monday night at The Blue Note, here's a video to help get you in the mood:

Friday, February 5, 2010

Aural Fix 2/5/2010: "Courage of Others" by Midlake

This week Denton, Texas natives Midlake returned with their third folksy album, Courage of Others.

The band has largely fallen under the radar, although they did gather a small cult following after the release of their second album, (The Trials of) Van Occupanther in 2006. The new album is perfect for a cold and somber winter weekend when you find yourself holed up with nothing but your own introspection. Tracks like the opener "Acts of Man" feature sparse acoustic guitar and husky vocals. The overall mood of Courage of Others is not hopeful or uplifting in any way—which makes it the perfect complement to the season and the global mood in general. It is nevertheless beautiful.

"Acts of Man" by Midlake

Download "Acts of Man" [mp3]

And finally, this will be my last actual post before heading to balmy equatorial climes. (Before I go, I may schedule a few goofy filler posts.) But I'll be back with a sunburn and vengeance on February 15.  Have a great week.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

But Did the Capybara See Its Shadow?

In a week filled with groundhogs, I stumbled across a picture of dapper capybaras. (Yes, more animals in clothes.) This reminded me of Kansas City's Capybara and their single "Hello City Glow," which I hear from time to time on KCOU.
Capybara are no strangers to Columbia. Several of the band members are Mizzou alumni who used to perform with the local band Dadbot. They've played numerous shows here in town, and they stopped by KCOU this past September to promote their new album Try Brother. Here's a little video of the whole thing:

CAPYBARA / The Wimp / Radio Performance from mark harrison on Vimeo.

The band also once sang to an actual capybara. (You can watch the video here.) (I think the capybara needs a tweedy vest.)

They have a bit of a freak-folk Dodos thing going on. (The Dodos are actually myspace friends of theirs.)

Right now Capybara's music is featured in the Sundance film One Too Many Mornings. And they'll be at Mojo's at the end of February as part of the True/False festival.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Andrew Bird Is the New David Byrne?

I read recently about how both Andrew Bird and David Byrne are speaking at the TED 2010 conference next week. If you aren't familiar with TED, it's a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, bringing together great minds and speakers from the Technology, Entertainment, and Design fields. TED has conferences, a website, and even a TED prize.

It sounds like the sort of global project that would draw a progressive and eclectic musician like David Byrne, no? Turns out, the conference also attracted Andrew Bird. Somehow it seems fitting to have the two in the same place at the same time. This may sound goofy, but they remind me of each other.

Bird would be Byrne's slightly toned-down little brother—the sibling who caves and goes to architecture school while his older brother goes to art school.

So, let's see...

They're both speaking at TED.

They look alike.

They both appear on 2009's Dark Was the Night compilation.

They both collaborated with St. Vincent recently: Ms. Clark toured with Bird in 2009 and recorded a track on Byrne's (and Fatboy Slim's) new disco-themed two-disc concept album Here Lies Love, which is centered on the well-heeled life of Imelda Marcos.

Regarding the Byrne/Fatboy Slim project... I know. What the hell?! Due out February 23, it was originally planned as a musical based on the wife of former Philipine dictator-president Ferdinand Marcos. Now it's an album featuring 23 different vocalists, including Annie Clark. The title of the album comes from Imelda's chosen tombstone inscription. (She's not dead yet, so the tombstone has yet to mark the grave in which she would be rolling over after listening to her Byrne/Fatboy tribute.)

The following YouTube "video" features a track from Here Lies Love recorded with Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine.

Admittedly, Andrew Bird hasn't aspired to such grandiose heights yet, but who's to say he might not one day? He can probably out-whistle Byrne.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Groundhog Day

Saturday night my friend and I cooked chili (okay, he cooked chili) and decided to watch The Godfather. It all began with a desire to stay in and save money. I was looking through his DVD collection to see what we could watch for free while he slaved in the kitchen, and I said, "Hey, we should watch The Godfather"—which actually doesn't make any sense because he's missing the first DVD from his boxed set, and I had to walk over to the video store to rent the first video, anyway...which cost money. (Actually, someone else had already rented the store's only copy of The Godfather, so we ended up renting District 9 instead. All copies of Whip It were checked out.)

Where am I going with this?

Sofia Coppola is in The Godfather, Part III.

Sofia Coppola is dating the lead singer of Phoenix, Thomas Mars.

Phoenix just won the "Best Alternative Music Album" award at Sunday night's Grammys. ("Best Alternative Music Album"? Is it still 1995? Who won for "Best New Grunge Artist"?)

Yes, Sunday gave us another pointless Grammy awards show. Does anyone care about the Grammys? Why do we watch the Academy Awards but not the Grammys? Why is it that good movies are actually nominated for awards, but good music is generally shafted? Seriously, reading through the list of Grammy winners from Sunday night has me running groundhog-like for the safe burrow of my personal music collection. Enough with Beyonce and Taylor Swift already! Also, I didn't know Metallica, Megadeth, and Judas Priest were still making albums.

("Like, oh my god, I won Album of the Year?")

Not that Phoenix aren't fantastic. There were a few nominees who truly deserve recognition of some kind—Neko Case, David Byrne, Brian Eno, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs among them. But who cares about a Grammy? Does winning a Grammy mean anything when the whole awards show is so schlocktastic and full of questionable nominees?

(Ricky Martin "Livin' La Vida Loca" at Sunday's Grammys...nominated for "Record of the Year" in 2000.")

I suppose it's only fair to point out that the Academy Awards are pretty schmaltzy, too. They gave us Titanic as Best Picture in 1998 and will probably reward that film's ham-fisted director for his latest big-production smackdown, Avatar, at this year's awards show. Still, there are usually more deserving films recognized at the Academy Awards than deserving music at the Grammys.

Is it just easier to love a mainstream movie than a mainstream artist? I think so. I could watch Avatar and actually enjoy it but want to flog myself with an umbrella if I had to listen to Rihanna's nasal montone for more than five minutes. I'm much more likely to sit through a terrible movie than a terrible song. Maybe it's because the movie offers sound and vision and story, whereas music is just sound.

Regardless, the Grammys have consistently bestowed laurels on some truly wretched performers. A sampling...

The Black-Eyes Peas won a Grammy for "My Humps." ("Yesterday," the most covered Beatles' song in history, has never won a Grammy.)

Kelly Clarkson...

...has a Grammy. Janis Joplin... never got one.

I have to mention Milli Vanilli.

(Blame it on the rain.)

Avril Lavigne versus Regina Spektor... Guess which one has the Grammy?

Celine Dion wins "Record of the Year" for reminding us that "My Heart Will Go On." Nick Drake and Elliott Smith do not have that option.

("I love you, Rose..." "I love you, Jack... er, Celine.")

To compare these wacky awards to the Oscars: it would be like The Tooth Fairy winning best picture over Crazy Heart.

If you're like me, you're glad when the Grammys are over so you can stop reading about artists you don't care about and what they're wearing when you scan the daily news headlines.

I'd rather read about groundhogs, especially if they're wearing natty threads.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Basia Bulat's "Heart of My Own" (And a Vacation of My Own)

I tried to soak up lots of vitamin D this past weekend running on the KT trail and walking at Grindstone. I spent two hours Saturday browsing at the public library and left with a stack of seven books I'll never be able to get through in three weeks. Also, I cleaned my apartment, drank too many lattes, and started packing for my upcoming vacation next week... oh yes.

I will be in the Virgin Islands for a week.

I am really happy about this, and so is my serotonin-deprived brain.

Really, this is all I'm thinking about. I haven't searched for much new music, but Basia (pronounced "BOSH-uh") Bulat has a new album out, Heart of My Own, and here she is singing and zithering with abandon: