A Rare Day

1. I'm not going to lie, my head's spinning a little. My brother just left town after a week of goodtimes. Just bought my first car barely 48 hours ago and felt the pressure of it as I signed on those numerous dotted lines. It's Feb 29th, a day only possible once every four years. I'm sitting on a mountain of advanced music that I can't write about yet (list below) and the only thing interesting that came out this week (Beach House), I just can't seem to get thrilled about. Ditto the upcoming releases by Clinic, Murder by Death, and Supergrass. I know. I think there's something wrong with me. I'm totally set on killer listening assignments for the next two weeks. I'm going to have to think of something to pass the time. Here's a start:

2. I just got the Sound Friends split 7'' in the mail, an extra copy thrown in by my buddy Archie. I mentioned this release here. I'm working on a contest of sorts whereby you'll have a chance to win that copy for yourself. If you don't have a record player, the beautiful packaging will make a great wall-piece. Because love isn't love til you give it away.

3. On a similar note, I got a big package from Epic Records last week with a bunch of posters, stickers, and a few of the new EP from Denmark's The Fashion, set to make their US debut at SXSW. I'll be announcing a little contest to win a package of Fashion shwag in the next few days. Giveaways R US!!

4. The Desert Island 10 will re-appear this week. Two LTL original mixes in the works and nearing completion: Blankets V.2 and Rocket Saws (Get it On).

5. Listen: Our #11 Song of 2006, but only truly fitting today.
plus/minus - Leap Year
[from Let's Build a Fire|buy]

Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid (3.17)
White Hinterland - Phylactery Factory (3.4)
Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin - Pershing (4.8)
She & Him - Volume One (3.18)
These United States - A Picture of the Three of Us at the Gate to the Garden of Eden (3.4)
Kaki King - Dreaming of Revenge (3.11)
Colour Revolt - Plunder, Beg, and Curse (4.1)
Cloud Cult - Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes) (4.8)


A Jagged Boy (Ferraby Lionheart)

Whelp, buying a car ended up taking about 7 hours. So "later" turned into "now" and the car turned into this (except pewter, not silver): 2004 Kia Spectra. I dig.

So, Ferraby Lionheart was here almost a calendar year ago, an assessment posted at 5:40am and chock-full of comparisons to incomparable deceased musicians. This time around, I hear more Rufus Wainwright and Sondre Lerche than Buckley and Smith, but mostly I hear a little songwriter named Ferraby. Forlorn fingered piano parts, warbled falsettos, and the occasional cello mark this entire recording. It's soaked in feeling and holds unique depths ("Call Me the Sea"), but also has some playful meanderings to appease the classic pop bug he ails from ("Small Planet" "A Bell and Tumble"). I missed it last September, which means there's a good chance you did as well. The best things always come around twice.

Uno Ballo Della Luna
Vermont Avenue
[from Catch the Brass Ring|buy]


I'll be Bach.

Don't fret, young'uns. I'm going out to purchase a new automobile at the moment, but I'll be back later to feed your ears with musical notes.



Listening Assignments 2.25.08

1. The Dodos - Fool - From the get-go, the drummer using the drum frame as much as the actual drums, indicating that he likes to have a good time. This plays like an immaculately recorded live performance, the musicians using your smiling reactions as fuel. [from Visiter (out 3.18)|buy]

2. Mobius Band - I'll Keep it With Mine (Bob Dylan) - This song is quicksand. It's also one of the best Dylan covers I've heard in a long, long time. If it catches hold of you, baby, you're going down. [from Love Will Reign Supreme|download]

3. Utah Carol - Come Back Baby - You can't hear the campfire, but you have to know it's there somewhere. You know there's probably a covered wagon, the silhouette of a canyon's edge, distant dogs howling at the moon. You know there's a girl with a melted heart, sitting with a guitar at the fire's edge, pouring it out. Pouring it out. [from Rodeo Queen|buy]

4. Over the Rhine - Trouble - Four minutes and two seconds of hip-swaying, bossa nova seduction. [from the Trumpet Child|buy]


Heart Like an Autoclave

Arise, oh hibernating Mountain Goats. You've been patiently slumbering in my playlist for over a month, awaiting your official release date. Well it's here and it's time to put on the flowered garlands, don your paper wings, and fly down the big hill in the park.

John Darnielle is one of the most unique folk singers out there, weaving pleasant narratives with ease, drawing near with his everyman vocal delivery. Occasionally the message is swaddled in strings to help it go down like a sugar pill, even if that message is a little dark.

San Bernardino
Heretic Pride
[from Heretic Pride|buy]


Laborious List

1. First off, above this sentence you can now see the fruits of my labor. That's right, I'm getting completely and filthily rich from operating this blog. Let's see...472 posts...breaks down to about $.21 a blog entry! It's soooooo worth it. ... Actually it is worth it. Sure, it's not always easy. But when I look back at what I've done over the past 1.5 years, it's pretty damn rewarding.

2. I wrote a book of blog yesterday, so I'm a little tapped out at the moment. You should go back and read it if you haven't. It's definitely a result of reading nothing but Chuck Klosterman for the past month.

3. My buds in The House Floor have a new split 7'' LP coming out on new Brooklyn label Sound Friends today. You can download the .zip for free and/or buy the 7'' vinyl for $7. OR you can download it for free and just donate some money for good karma. OR you can just donate some money. Check it out, playa.

4. My little brother is coming into town again today. He's the one who posted those awesome photos from Iraq last April. He'll be here a week, then he'll be returning to Iraq two weeks later. If you're local, we should do something while he's here.

5. Beer update: Siphoned wart (brewed, fermenting beer) into 5 gallon glass carboy for 2nd stage of fermentation on Tuesday. Got a few more days in there before bottling. It looks quite tasty. Any of you ever brewed before? Any pointers would be welcome.

6. Godspeed.


Vampires and Patriots

This post is really about Vampire Weekend, I promise. There will be many paragraphs.

I'm going to go out on a limb here. I'm usually the guy who acknowledges the will of the certain majorities of people. I'll generally see a movie if the right critics have approved it or shun one if enough of them have done the same. Ditto with music, I've never heard of it. If enough people love it, I'll check it out. The problem is that sometimes the critics are crazy and sometimes the majority is wrong. From the 2004 election to critical reviews that doomed Grandma's Boy in theatres (it's since been huge on DVD), there are examples everywhere of infallible groups making the wrong call.

For some reason 90% of the people I know hate the Patriots and suddenly became Giants fans during the Super Bowl. Many of these same people loved the Patriots when they won two SB's out of nowhere a few years ago. Hate 'em now. I'm convinced these people hate winning teams in general. Win long enough and people will despise you. People call them the Yankees of the NFL, a sentiment so far from accurate, it's laughable. I hate the Yankees, pompous and pinstriped, pockets bloated beyond capacity. The Patriots have built their teams through shrewd trading, acquiring 2 of the best receivers in the entire NFL (Moss and Welker) for 4th and 2nd round draft picks, respectively. Did you know Randy Moss played for a paltry $3m this year? Did you know that 198 players were taken in front of Tom Brady in the 2000 draft? That "team" is emphasized so much that every year, they let huge-contract-seeking players go and replace them with cheaper players...and get better anyway. I don't understand why everyone I know was so against seeing the first 19-0 team in history, if only to shut up those a-hole '79 Dolphins, still annoyingly relevant. I don't know why everyone suddenly loves Eli Manning, the same guy who was drafted #1 overall by San Diego and essentially said "Eff you, I don't want to play here," and forced a trade to NY, followed by a Rex Grossman-esque season this year prior to the NFL Playoffs. Insult to injury, the Giants won, everyone threw their hands up and pranced around claiming to be right the whole time, completely giddy.

Sometimes the majority is completely wrong in principle and logic, but end up right in the end, somehow.

Which brings me to Vampire Weekend, finally. I don't know if you've heard of them, they're currently omnipresent? Yeah, they're the 2nd-most-blogged-about band on the internet, from New York (obvious), and apparently wildly influenced by African popular music. Thank you Wikipedia. Apparently African popular music sounds near-identical to Simon & Garfunkel, circa 1966. It's a gimmick, it really is.

But I'm not stupid. I know they know it. They went to Columbia University. I know it has to be, at least partially, tongue in cheek. It's playful ("Does it feel so unnatural to Peter Gabriel too?"), and at times, very endearing. I also know I'm a hypocrite. Why do I think it's alright to mimic Hall & Oates (Tigercity), but not Paul & Art? I think it's mostly because, to me, Tigercity modernizes that cheesy but amazing early-'80s pop, while VW really just sounds mostly like a hokie carbon copy. I'm on a limb because I know my buddy Kyle loves this record, along with most every scene critic out there, who love its whimsical abandon and think it's funny to sound like Simon & Garfunkel (something no one has done in a long time).

And I don't hate this record. I immensely enjoy precisely 2/5ths of it and am immediately annoyed by the other 3/5ths. But I was pulling for the Patriots, too. We know how these things can turn out. Enjoy your victory, majority.

[from Vampire Weekend|buy]


Mouths to Feed (the Epochs)

I was there when the Epochs were unsigned, so I'm sure as hell gonna push it when their record finally comes out on a label. Which it did yesterday. Good things come to those who wait.

This smart electropop runs the gamut of influences and sounds. The best parts are Michael Jackson-esque. It's got moxie. RIYL: MJ, Talking Heads, Maroon 5, +/-, Gotye, Phoenix, air, water, sun, earth, love, chocolate, beer.

Opposite Sides
Head in the Fire
[from the Epochs|buy]


Listening Assignments 2.18.08

1. The Bird and the Bee - Come as You Were - Try your damndest not to fall in love. With everything you see. While listening to this song. [from One Too Many Hearts|buy]

2. Ben Karis-Nix - Giants - Trying to move into solo waters after his promising (and effing incredible) previous band (Jupiter Sunrise) kind of fizzled for no reason. Try to imagine an open night sky, stars winking back encouragement. [from We Are Giants Now|buy]

3. Fanfarlo - Sand and Ice - Try to picture an exceedingly (and unfairly) less popular version of the Killers. With less eyeliner. [demo|info]

4. Rafter - Candy Sprinkles - Try to be more careful, try to be more kind. Try to always tell him the good things on your mind. Repeat. End. [from Sex Death Cassette|buy]


Oh Kay Kay Go

Back in November of 2006, Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground earned a spot on the assignments with "Hey Momma", a playful dittybop tipped slightly askew by muted trumpet and a circus-like jig rhythm. It was only available on their s/t cassette tape at the time. Finally, almost a year and a half later, Kay Kay's debut LP will become available on February 19th...on vinyl only (includes digital download). And it's still self-titled.

The title doesn't matter because this record oozes The Beatles, Jellyfish, and Jon Brion in healthy doses, with a Pacific Northwest flair. Which is even more surprising considering the two K's in the band (Kirk and Kyle) are formerly of seminal post-hardcore indie rockers Gatsby's American Dream. Whooda thunk they had it in 'em? We're talking thumbtacked-piano, triangle, harmonica, banjo and violins standing akimbo. We're talking about the goods.

Birds (On a Day Like Today)
Hey Momma
[from S/t|buy]


Copping a Feel

Today, I just want something I can feel. Sometimes amidst a room full of things, it can seem like it's empty. I want this song not to end. Sometimes the things pile up around you and you can't look at yourself in the mirror anymore. I want this song tattooed on my ear drums. Sometimes my vision is blurry, sometimes indoor clouds rain on my face. I want to listen with my eyes closed. Sometimes I forget how to feel. Just show me how.

Ian La Rue - Hammering Bent Nails
[from Bull Days|info]
Mogwai - Emergency Trap
[from Mr. Beast|buy]


The V-Spot

It's that day again. Singles Awareness Day. Corporate-created candy day. Or Valentine's Day, if you prefer. Looking back, I barely mentioned it last year, mostly because I was heartbroken and bitter at the time. This year is a lot different, as it is for everyone. It's a day of mixed emotions, depending on your context. Overrated, I say.

Still, it's one of those sentimental occasions, like the holiday season. Where the pink is welcome for just a few days, then intolerable. So celebrate today for the day that it is. Another day to tell the people you care about that you care about them. Whoever that may be.

Chris Garneau - Love Zombies
[from C-Sides|buy]
Amy Winehouse - Love is a Losing Game
Cat Power - Sea of Love
[from Juno OST|buy]


Sam is Well

I don't remember where I first heard Samamidon. I certainly didn't break him to the internet, but I do know that I found him one place, fell in love and wrote about it, but didn't see anything else about him for a long time. Then two of my favorite blogs started picking up on him, Said the Gramophone and My Old Kentucky Blog, by way of the expansive Motel de Moka. Now he seems to be around every corner in the blogosphere. Which is pretty cool considering it's just a dude who started recording in his bedroom (but now records in Iceland!).

Sam is no stranger to music, however. His parents enlisted him in their family folk band The Amidons. He has been a part of three other groups. He obviously likes traditional folk music as it dominates his solo work, reinterpreted into new beautiful classics. I'm convinced that he is schizophrenic. A young man of 26 externally with a 60 year old living in his head, crooning with age and emotion about women long since gone. He is forlorn and resigned to fate. He sings of being lost at sea ("until you find me"), watching his daughter's wedding from above, coming back home again a la the Prodigal Son ("When I left my father's house, I was well supplied"). If nothing else, this record is proof that home will always be there. Sometimes the answers to love and life lie in not in the future, but the past. Sometimes your grandfather's ghost will lead you. Sometimes you find out you've had your eyes closed the whole time.


Sugar Baby
Wedding Dress
[from All is Well|buy]


Listening Assignments 2.11.08

1. What Made Milwaukee Famous - Resistance St. - I was crazy about their previous LP, which reached my ears in 2006, but was actually recorded way back in 2004. I'm sure the band has been itching to make something new for awhile now. This track, the first glimpse, is immediately more rocking, a little less electro-pop. [from What Doesn't Kill Us (out 3.4)|info]

2. Air Traffic - Come On - "Come On" is one of those absolutely cliched song titles abused by pop bands the world over, but despite its title mediocrity Air Traffic actually gets deeper on this US-release-only bonus track. The best of the rest of the album is piano-heavy soda pop, quite enjoyable if you're into that, but this new opener is definitely darker and dense enough to deserve some critical kudos. [from Fractured Life|buy]

3. Virginia Coalition - Sing Along - When this album drops, I'll do a more thorough background on these homegrown Virginia boys. Singer Andy Poliakoff possesses one of my absolute favorite tenor voices alive, full of syrup and silk. This is definitely VaCo at their most radio-friendly. [from Home this Year (out 3.18)|info]

4. Jeffrey Foucault - Nothin' (Townes van Zandt) - I feel charred by this. My edges are blackened. My corners broken off. I think of nothing but chipped teeth, a fire-lit face, and a white-hot blues guitar echoing through the canyons. [myspace]

Mmmm, beeeeeer.

Party people,

At this very instant, I am boiling water to begin my inaugural homebrewing experience. I'll be making Rogue Dead Guy Ale and I know you're jealous. If you're a friend of mine, I may even let you put it in your mouth.

This week's Listening Assignments are selected, I'll get down to writing about them in, oh, two hours?

Until then...


Like a Drew in Headlights

You want something spunky? Or maybe just something surprising. Headlights is band I've now come full circle on. "Tokyo" was my intro to them (from 2004's The Enemies EP), making me uber-excited for 2006's debut LP Kill Them With Kindness, which passed through my brain with little catching, mostly because nothing was as good as "Tokyo". I chalked them up as another flash in the pan and forgot about them until their 2007 EP of live b-sides, which included a re-release of "Tokyo" and a few other great tracks including "Owl Eyes" and "This One". Now back in my peripheral consciousness, the band's new record drops February 19th, set to finally realize the potential they showed back in 2004.

It's fairly difficult to compare Headlights to anyone without mentioning the fairly obvious Metric/Stars parallel, most evident when the girl/boy vocals are prominent. But this band somehow seems older, a little more resistant to that mold. They've continued to refine and refocus their vision into something that cuts a little deeper. Something more classic. It jangles more. It channels more of a timeless pop sound than contemporary. There's a little bit of '60s Paris hidden away underneath. Some CSN&Y harmonies and acoustic dueling.

Some Racing, Some Stopping is a little two-piece of nostalgic pop, woven with the thread of today's fashion, stone-washed and sun-kissed. Polyvinyl has done it again.

2.17 Nashville, TN The End
2.18 Athens, GA Caledonia Lounge
2.19 Mt. Pleasant, SC Village Tavern
2.20 Norfolk, VA The Boot
2.21 Arlington, VA IOTA

"If home is where the heart is, then home is here."

Get Your Head Around It
[from Some Racing, Some Stopping (out 2.19)|buy]
This One (live on WIUX)
[from Friends and Loves|buy]
[from The Enemies EP|buy]


Everything Hits at Once

It's about time I saw Once, a film I've waited almost a full year to take in. Now that it's been out on DVD and blogged about 500 times and seen by everyone I know, I feel like the last person on earth to see it. But this post is not for those of you who have seen it, it's for those precious few who haven't. Maybe you need some extra motivation or a simple reminder. If you love music and movies, you have to see this film.

It's a simple enough plot. Broken-hearted Dublin street musician ("Guy") meets charming Eastern European immigrant ("Girl") who happens to be a pianist and vocalist in her own right. He's got an ex who torments him, she's got a husband and daughter. Their chemistry is palpable; their music beautiful. And at what point do you cast off that weight and seize the moment you were born to take? It's a solitary moment, a twisting mountain of a second, and it only happens Once.

Say It To Me Now
When Your Mind's Made Up
[from Once OST|buy]


Walla Sings Again

That's right. You get a three-day double-dose of Chris Walla, so are you going to complain about it? No, you're not. Since the limited 3-bonus song incentive to purchase Field Manual expired on the 4th, I figured it was ok to post the demo for "Sing Again" along with the hot new video for the album version. Buy this mofo.

Sing Again (demo)
[album version from Field Manual|buy]


Baby, I'm the Lucky One

I've been waiting awhile for this record to drop so I don't spoil the surprise because Nada Surf is back in a huge way. Lucky may have a deeper meaning to the band, but to me it's just how I personally feel about holding this record in my hands. Privileged.

The fact that Barsuk is releasing this album should come as no surprise, seeing as they released the Surf's two previous offerings, but also because this sound is tailor-made for this label. Or maybe this label is tailor-made for this sound. Dynamic and melodic, laidback hooks, quiet confidence. This record knows it's great, but doesn't prance and preen about it. The happiness of the music and, at times, bittersweet lyrics are conveyed in very business-like fashion. There is no pretense here, no shame in embracing the inner pop music. They even have a grunge-era throwback in "Everyone's On Tour", harkening back to the "Popular" days before sliding back into the acoustic-steeped "Here Goes Something". There are literally too many standout songs on this LP to mention. Nada Surf, welcome to 2008's top 10.

Also true to recent Barsuk form, the first batch of copies contain a bonus EP of acoustic tracks, the quality of which is more than motivation enough to buy early (if the stellar LP wasn't reason enough).

I Like What You Say
Whose Authority (bonus acoustic track)
[from Lucky|buy]


Listening Assignments 2.4.08

1. Chris Walla - Geometry &C (*link fixed*)- I've gone a few places on this album. The first two tracks I'd heard ("Sing Again" and "St. Modesto") were amazing, so I bought the record without a second thought. When I finally heard the full thing, I was fairly disappointed with the rest of it. But I gave it time, and blam-wham-thankyouPam, it clicked. This track is power-pop at its current pinnacle. (Totally sweet album packaging as well). [from Field Manual|buy]

2. Canon Blue - Halcyon - Entry #2 for Canon Blue, this one is a prime example of exactly how to make a deep and engaging home recording. The patient build is palpable, the result rewarding, giving way to off-kilter piano and tinkling xylophone. Reminds me a lot of Magnet, which is a big compliment. [from Halcyon EP|free download]

3. Dave Ross - Difference - The DIY-ness of this track has become one of its most redeeming qualities. It plays like a 1980s memory, pressing play and record at the same time on the old family tape deck. Except with Alman Bros.- inspired riffs. And really good. [myspace]

4. White Hinterland - Dreaming of the Plum Trees - Casey Dienel has been here before, but she's back. Fronting a new musical collective (aka band) with a new sound recording (aka album) coming out in a month. It's a little less Regina Spektor this time around, a little more Belle & Sebastian, but enjoyable nonetheless. Playful basslines tend to help. Ditto the last 30 second fadeout...[from Phylactery Factory (out 3.4)|myspace]


Bowl of Yorke

The ridiculous thing is that I've actually sat here for 10 minutes planning the best course of action for this Super Bowl Sunday post. Do my readers watch the Super Bowl? I know I will be. More importantly, will my readers even check in today? What with all the chip-and-dip buying, couch-cushion-fluffing, cheap-beer-sipping going on. I wouldn't want to write about something really awesome like the new Canon Blue EP and have it fall through the cracks.

Then I thought about blabbing on and putting a song that had the word "Super" in it, but the best I could come up with was Stevie Wonder's "Superwoman", which clocks in at over 8 minutes. As mentioned yesterday, limited bandwidth to work with today! I wish there was a definitive and awesome indie rock tribute to the Super Bowl. Something as awesome and timeless as Bon Jovi's "Down in a Blaze of Glory" from Young Guns II. So if you sports-loving freaks in rockdom are reading (yeah you, Ben Gibbard, Rob Crow, Sufjan Stevens, James Mercer...), get cracking and your legacy will be cemented.

So instead, I'll just post this incredible live acoustic version of "Reckoner" (from In Rainbows) that Thom Yorke did last Saturday on Jonathan Ross' BBC 2 radio show. Consider it a compromise. See you tomorrow...

Reckoner (acoustic)
[live on Jonathan Ross]


A List with Fists

We've burned through some bandwidth this month (nearly 75GB), probably in large part because I've left all the mp3s for the 2007 year-end lists up for download. It resets Monday, so I'll post some music tomorrow to use up the last of it. Today, you get a list.

1. Gregor Samsa is streaming their whole recently completed album Rest, one new track every Sunday on their myspace page via iMeem. IMO, it's their best work to date. "Slow and sad. Slow and happy. But never fast and anything."

2. Music/Art lover, I give you the work of T.Stout, a small-town WA illustrator specializing in one-of-a-kind show posters and event art.

3. You Ain't No Picasso has wrangled up every known cover Of Montreal has ever performed.

4. If you've noticed, I expanded the links and hotspots sections recently. If there are any other sites you think have been unfairly excluded, let me know.

5. Favorite Band Name of the Moment: Band Marino

6. Hot Chip's new album Made in the Dark (out 2.4) is streaming in its entirety here.

7. New Music tomorrow, Assignments Monday. Stay tuned...

8. Patriots 42-21.


It's a Miracle! (Fortress)

The most miraculous thing about Miracle Fortress is that I didn't hear them until early this January. It's crazy because it came out last May and it's upsetting because this record should have been in my top 10 of 2007 (as well as a lot more of them in general).

Listening to Five Roses is like being immersed in liquid sound, tinkling guitars reverberating back and forth across your palate. Shimmering harmonies inundate like as many ripples spreading outward from a single ray of sunlight. It's an experiment in what would have happened if U2 had decided to do a full-length tribute to Brian Wilson. It sparkles with intention and inspiration.

It's a stunning and moody debut LP from yet another Canadian band vying for your fickle but powerful love.

Next Train (via 1.14 assignments)
[from Five Roses|buy]