Jamie and His Dancing Shoes

You know an album is good when you're legitimately debating between 7 songs to post and you're only posting 2. And Jamie Lidell's Jim, finally out Tuesday, just might be the best album of the year to this point. Lofty praise, indeed.

How does a geeky modern-Elvis-Costello-lookin' white dude from England end up with pipes reminiscent of the Reverend Al Green (still alive and crooning, by the way)? This record is an immediate classic. Soul is back, baby, but it ain't nothin' like it used to be. Tracks like "Figured Me Out" feature foot-stomping piano-drum combos and playful hand percussion. The upbeat numbers almost have a hip-hop approach, still dripping old school style, of course. Jim is the ultimate example of blending the old with the new. Twisting staleness into freshy-freshness. Jamie owes a lot to Stevie, Al, Sam, and Marvin for this record, but I'm guessing they're just happy to be in the conversation again. In this one, your feet will do all the talking.

Wait for Me
Green Light
[from Jim|buy]


KerPOWW Batman

A long, long time ago, Batman came out on theaters and then on video. I was 7 and it was one of the few VHS's my dad had at his place at the time (the other was National Lampoon's Vacation). I watched it a lot. I wish I still had it. One thing I do have, however, is the original soundtrack performed by Prince. And in honor of The Dark Knight, release date fast-approaching, I thought I'd throw a few of these classics at you. Plus this totally hot 2 minute trailer you may or may not have already seen.

The Arms of Orion (w/ Sheena Easton!)
[from Batman OST|buy]


Listening Assignments 4.28.08

1. Tingsek - They Showed Up and Were Beautiful - This Swede is cooler than a cucumber-ginger-spearmint-dry-ice-infused aftershave. Frozen. He's the crackling ice in your summer sun tea. Why isn't this huge? [from World of Its Own|buy]

2. Laura Veirs - Galaxies - This 2005 distorted indie chick-rock sounds like it could have sprung from the mouth of Jill Sobule back when I was in high school. In a good way. [from Year of Meteors|buy]

3. Mika - Billy Brown - Wow. Have you heard this record? I feel like I'm smoking drugs. Where else might I find the illegitimate lovechild of Ringo Starr, George Michael, Eric Cartman, and Gwen Stefani? Just wow. [from Life in Cartoon Motion|buy]

4. Carla Thomas - Yesterday (live) - Recorded May 25, 1967, the clinking of glasses and dull rolls of conversation in the background simply transport you. Oh how times have changed. [from STAX does the Beatles|buy]


A Sunny Day Setting Fire

It's been a year and a half since I first heard the strangely familiarly-named Sunny Day Sets Fire's "Wilderness", but never ended up writing about it. It pops up in my playlists pretty regularly and has grown on me like westward-facing moss. And now it's finally being released on something here in the USofA. Summer Palace, out May 6th for digital download (July 8th for physical purchase), is bursting with shimmering sunlight. You are a leafy plant and your chlorophyll is aching to soak up what this record's got.

The Smallest Heart on Earth
[from Summer Palace (out 5.6)|info/buy]


the DKD Killer

David Karsten Daniels sounds like he could your Mormon cousin, twice removed. Being thrice-named, he'd also qualify for potential serial killer/presidential assassin status. He could be any normal Joe on the corner shilling hot dogs or bootlegged DVD's. But it's my job to tell you that he isn't any of those things.

There is no disconnect between you and Mr. Daniels. No air of pretense or cloud of ego. There is no nail polish or eyeliner or cologne. You two are simply standing in an empty room. He holds a guitar, you hold your heart outstretched, soaking it in. You will laugh and cry together, like brothers. The sounds will reverberate, your soul will vibrate, a heart will pulsate. Two people, equal in a room. A pitcher filling a vessel. Overflowing.

The Knot Unties
[from Fear of Flying (out 4.29)|buy]


C'mon Feet!

So if you've been paying attention, I moved to a new place over New Year's Eve. 'Twas a quaint little house in a family neighborhood section of Norfolk and it was fun while it lasted. Now I've moved again, which is why you don't get any new music today. But I do have some sporadic internet leaking down from the floor above me. Can't complain. Cable comes Monday, but I should be able to throw some tunes your way tomorrow. Good things abound.

Turning the room behind me into a studio...


I Surrender, Tokyo Police Club

Add Image
Tokyo Police Club's masterful new LP Elephant Shell clocks in at a tidy hair under 28 minutes. It breaks down as follows: 11 songs, 4 individual heartbeats (synchronized), a million synapses of electricity, 11 anthems, 356 hooks, 4 to 5 moments of transcendence, >200 handclaps, 7 silences, 19 hesitant breaths, enough head bobs to start a rash of teen neck soreness, and 1 of 2008's most listenable albums.

And these are first two songs. You're done.

In My Cave
[from Elephant Shell|buy]


My Earth Day Birthday

"It's a damn good thing that rockets can make it to the moon, cuz the way this worm is turnin', we're gonna need those suckers soon."

Another year come and gone. 26 years old, etc, etc, etc, etc. Thanks to Al Gore, inventor of the Internet, Earth Day has more significance than it ever has and it's a good thing. The majority of our increasingly expanding energy cravings depend on non-renewable resources. Everyone can make a difference with a little foresight. Use energy efficient (and longer lasting!) lightbulbs in your house or apartment! Get out and walk to the store for a soda! Carpool!

But you've heard all this before. Every day should be Earth Day. Every day should be Mother's Day, Father's Day, Black History Month. Remember these things accordingly. But not every day should be my birthday. I feel old enough as it is.

And now, an earth day-inspired offering from one of my all-time favorite bands. Enjoy.

Human Radio - Another Planet
[from Human Radio|buy|myspace]
Human Radio - No Harmony
[from II]


Listening Assignments 4.21.08

1. Chris Bathgate - Yes, I'm Cold - Chris' stuff always sounds cold, and I'd like to thank him for confirming it. Frigid fire. [from Wait, Skeleton|buy]

2. A Hawk and a Hacksaw - Portlandtown - Elephant 6 + Grizzly Bear + subject matter = chilling. [from Darkness at Noon|buy]

3. Yeasayer - Wait for the Summer - It's bizarre. But like an actual bazaar. Like where you'd buy things. [from All Hour Cymbals|buy]

4. Drew Danburry - Lynette I Love You - Drew, I hope she knows by now. Adorable. [unreleased|buy stuff]


Picturing the Weepies

"I get so emotional, baby. Every time I think of you." Oh Whitney, if you only knew. There is a lovefest going on, all over the internets, about this California duo The Weepies. This is probably because they've been featured in approximately a zillion television dramas. There is a certain power a soundtrack song holds, especially the melodramatic and overproduced ones, as they become fused with the emotion you felt while you watched that one scene that one time. Which is where I'm torn. I've never seen these aforementioned dramas (ok, ok so I've watched a lot of Grey's Anatomy, but I don't recall hearing any of their songs) so that connection is lost on me. What I'm left with are a large handful of really good songs in really shiny packaging and a bunch of others that sound like they're trying too hard.

"While the World Spins Madly On", from 06's Say I Am You is like a modern version of Red House Painters' "Have You Forgotten" and deserves to be lionized. At their best, the Weepies are a really special kind of beast. Steve Tannen's nimble and straightforward alto is reminiscent of Neil Finn, as is his songwriting, and wife Deb Talan's unique voice recalls the better parts of Shawn Colvin. Their harmonies mix with delicate ease. It can cut as deep as any indie act out there, there are just more bells and whistles. A swelling EBow here, some light strings there, tight in-the-pocket drumming. Over everything, it just sounds commercial. Not that commercial is necessarily bad, I just think ballads like "While the World Spins Madly On" are great because of their minimalist approach to melody and song. Good songs are good songs no matter how much glitter is caked overtop, I think we all know that. The glitter tends to make me dislike an average song more that I would otherwise, however, which is where Hideaway (out this Tuesday) falls shorter than desired as a complete record. But that's really just me talking. I'll still listen to it and close my eyes and picture myself on screen, kissing the girl I love in the snow as the credits roll on and on.

Can't Go Back Now
Little Bird
[from Hideaway (out 4.22)|buy]


Britt vs. Colin

Compare and contrast: Two current Portland, OR lead singers for Spoon and the Decemberists, respectively, record cover versions of the incredible Sam Cooke's "Bring it On Home to Me". Who wins?

Britt Daniel - Bring it On Home to Me
Colin Meloy - Bring it On Home to Me


Vertigo Via Vetiver

Hey Vetiver, I saw you last year @ the Boot and I thought you were pretty rad. A few of you had beards and I spied at least one snap-button vintage cowboy shirt amongst you. You exuded a cool that was nonchalant and disarming. You enabled me to sip my locally brewed beer in the most blissful state of ease and nostalgic warmth. Now, listening to your 2006 essential To Find Me Gone, I can't help but reminisce.

Your breath fills the room, seeping into the pores of the walls and cracks in floors, through holes in doors. The steady hum of musical undercurrent is like a swaying pocketwatch and you're counting down from 10. 9. 8. I'm getting very comfortably sleepy. 7. 6. 5. My memories are 8mm film reels projected on the wall, grainy and desaturated. 4. 3. I'm flying over a gigantic field of dandelions. 2. Eyelids are nature's blinds. 1. Sleep is death's more attractive younger cousin.

Been So Long
[from To Find Me Gone|buy]


Cloud Cult's Kool-Aid

Cloud Cult is just about the most agreeable cult you'll run into these days. They don't want your soul, they just want your carbon outputs to be offset. They don't demand tithes, just environmental awareness. No robes or uniforms, just an air of honesty and a glow of hope. You won't find them jumping up on Oprah's couch or making a cameo on South Park, but they just might change your life anyway.

The reason is this: There's something special herein. It's something not manifested in neon signs and spotlights, but buried shallow, just enough skin on top to camouflage. There is so much heart, I think my speakers would bleed if punctured. There are ambitious arrangements, the pacing is patient. There's something in here that will change you. You will feel good about listening, about taking part in this sender/receiver relationship we all share, about buying this record straight from the band, about music doing something great for everyone at once.

May Your Heart Stay Strong
The Ghost Inside Our House
[from Feel Good Ghosts (Teapartying Through Tornadoes)|buy]


Das Boot Show

I'm playing a show Friday, opening with some good friends, for good friends, etc. I'm sure all the locals that read this blog know me already and I'm sure most of you will be there, but mayhaps I'm missing someone. You should come. You can listen to the artists in the muxtape below.


Listening Assignments 4.14.08

1. Stateless - Bloodstream - I think I might have inhaled you. I can feel you behind my eyes. You've gotten into my bloodstream. I can feel you floating in me. Similar to this very song. [from Stateless|buy]

2. MGMT - Electric Feel - A new friend's muxtape reminded me that I never got around to writing anything about this hip-stuttering synth-glam gem. [from Oracular Spectacular|buy]

3. The Grand Archives - Miniature Birds - Whistling imbues spring/summer, does it not? I feel like floating down a river on a banana, rocking this on the earbuds. Trouble fades into the background. [from Grand Archives|buy]

4. Kassin+2 - Ya Ya Ya - Quick! What's the Brazilian word for "sunshine"? If you're clueless, this song will serve as adequate substitute. [from Futurism (out 5.13)|buy]


Someone Still Loves You...

It's finally here! Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin released Pershing on April 8th, which means I finally get to applaud its sunlight-filled indie-pop from this soapbox. This record is kite flying. It's chasing the family dog around the park. Diving headlong into a pile of leaves. Shaving. Sipping champagne. Flashlight tag. Capture the flag. Ping pong. Sandals in summer. Skipping rope. Fresh-peeled mangoes. A shiny harmonica. Sprinkler swimming. An afternoon nap. Your favorite book. It's love. It'll gitcha good.

Modern Mystery
Some Constellation
[from Pershing|buy]


A Weather Update

It's raining again. Sheets and blankets of moistening discomfort falling upon, drowning newly green things. Things that were parched to colorlessness only a week ago. This rain does not renew me, it reminds me that my left windshield wiper is torn, creating a pattern of partially obscured sightlines on the glass. The smell is palpable. Topsoil and leaves. Hot pavement. My own breath, billowing outward in a cloud, but filled with holes faster than a gangster in Elliot Ness' crosshairs. Instantaneous. The birds were so happy just minutes ago.

A Weather.

Shirley Road Shirley
Oh My Stars
[from Cove|buy]

Three Vids

I will say this: Doing my weekly blog reading...and damn it if I can't find anything that I like. At all. What's going on, internet!? What are we listening to!? You're batting .128, just like Andruw Jones and Miguel Cabrera! What gives!?

Anyway, I feel like I need to do my part here. I need to do good by you, you know?

Music stuff forthcoming, but first two videos...

1. Trailer for "Wristcutters", featuring ROGUE WAVE in the background. Looks incredible.

2. Old Greg. Nuff Said.

3. Ben Gibbard in Just Jazz'n


April Showers

How you enjoy Mark Kozelek/Sun Kil Moon is directly proportional to how you are feeling at any given moment. Once you're familiar with his low and fragile warble, you'll recognize it instantly. It's usually swaddled in downtempo acoustic guitar, very minimal production or percussion, clean fender strat-esque minimalist overdubs, and powerful repetitive structure. It'll flow like molten glass in the dark.

If you're sad, it'll make you cry. If you're happy, it'll make you daydream. If you're tired, it'll put you to sleep. Or maybe it'll speak to you at a specific time and never again. Maybe it'll take that one ember and blow it into a spark, into wandering brushfire that burns you bare and lets all the new things begin to grow again.

Lost Verses (feat. Ben Gibbard)
[from April|buy]


Listening Assignments 4.7.08

1. Brooke Waggoner - I Am Mine - Don't you just love how good three chords can sound? Isn't music amazing? [from Fresh Pair of Eyes|buy]

2. The LK - Stop Being Perfect - You know this guy is not from the US when he says "daft" in the second line. This song has grown on me wonderfully, with its bitcrushed factory steam percussion and playful melody. [from Vs. the Snow|buy]

3. Wintersleep - Weighty Ghost - I actually found this song via Land of Talk's drunken Sheryl Crow-meets-Ryan Adams version. This one is more intentioned and crafted. Hewn from cold stone with tiny chisels. [from Welcome to the Night Sky|buy]

4. Ghosthustler - Someone Else's Ride - You're being chased. By Someone on a motorcycle. Stop-motion photography. Neon lights blur by. You are wearing stone-acid-pre-washed jeans. It's 1987 and you couldn't be happier. [myspace]


MCRK Redux

I'll say that MACRoCk was all of the experience I hoped it would be. Aside from sleeping in my car in the cold rain Saturday night (in Charlottesville, no less), it was all gravy.

I arrived at JMU's Memorial Hall (formerly Harrisonburg High, bought by the university) at 4:20 and was immediately impressed by its auditorium, with sound panels throughout and a balcony. There were about 50 people scattered in the first few rows of seats to take in Ryan Lindsey (of Starlight Mints). He and his guitarist both played sparkling Fender Telecasters and, live, were uninspiring on the whole. There was one song I dug quite a bit, second to last, followed by a boring closer. His record is actually pretty decent, however. Maybe I just wasn't warmed up yet as a listener. Maybe Ryan Lindsey's band all wore different combinations of black and it made me giggle.

Nashville's Brooke Waggoner took the stage next, a bubbly bundle of legs and red straw hair, accompanied by a cellist and acoustic guitarist, though never at the same time. Another 40 or so people had filed in to the chairs, but the silence was palpable. She killed. I think I stopped breathing. Her banter was adorable, but her voice and songwriting won the crowd over. I could see it in their faces. You could hear it in the giddy cheers after each final note. At the conclusion of the set, people clapped for at least a minute. Alas, no time for an encore.

NYC's the Forms were next, and not mixed properly at first. If you've heard them on this site, you'll recognize that many times there is one guitar just strumming the same chord while the keys and second guitar/bass change the song around it, U2-style. The first two songs, that particular guitar was really high in the mix, while the other components were low. But the band hit their stride for the majority of the set, the harmonies were right on, the energy high. A very interesting version of "All Apologies" followed an admitted clunker, and the set finished with their "big" single "Knowledge in Hand", which I realize (on listening in the car) has only 5 lines of lyrics in the whole thing. Oh well. If it sounds good, it doesn't have to make sense. And if it sounds like "Red Gun", sue me.

Ok this review is getting lengthy. I'll hit the highlights. My longstanding friends Shapiro were next. After seeing their manager Daniel White in a black button up, black jeans, and black shoes, I made a joke about his being a part of the Ryan Lindsey band, who were walking across the parking lot at the time. He could see the resemblance. Shapiro stole the show for the evening, in my opinion. I've seen them probably 8 times since their inception, but not live in about a year. They've grown up. They dominated. This band is going to be huge. I texted Dan during the performance: "Just kill me now." I'd have been happy.

Unwed Sailor
bored me, though I just don't think I was in the mood for instrumental stuff at this point in the night. Drums mixed too loud, left the room after the second song.

Mock Orange
played some old stuff, some sorta old stuff, and a lot of new stuff. And I stand right by my assessment last week, though they played one song that completely lost the crowd right before their closer. God that was bad, I have no idea what it was. Their lead singer is an incredible guitar player, however. Easily the most talented of his kind that night.

Anathallo. Killed. Also. 8 members strong, all singing, all playing. Impeccably arranged and insanely dynamic songs. Incredibly energetic band. I looked on in childlike awe. Trumpets, Trombones, Xylophones, shakers, ooohs, ahhhs, keys, guitars. It sounded like 18 people up there. A definite highlight.

Aloha, one of my all-time favorite bands, underwhelmed me, though I'm sure I'm a bigger critic than the casual fan. It certainly wasn't bad and had stabs of awesome thrown in (like "Let Your Head Hang Low", for instance), but the song selection baffled me, the drummer seemed like he was playing for a much larger, louder band, and the overall tightness and attack just wasn't there.

Owen is Owen. He's exactly like I thought he would be, which is exactly like he sounds on recording. Which means because he's a solo artist, I could probably have skipped it. Owen writes songs with similar melodies sometimes. Sometimes a guitar part is similar, too. But sometimes, oh sometimes, he strikes a chord inside of me and you. Those times, he'll sing about something inside you that you thought no one knew, and you'll be transfixed. That's Owen. Mike Kinsella. The man with no merch. And lordy, I would have bought it.



The Notwist

You know what? I'm not going to bullshit you. Before last week, I'd only heard of the Notwist, but never heard a note of their music (to my knowledge). And now I have heard it and enjoyed it enough to write about it here. But I'm not going to go to Wikipedia and their myspace page and download some of their (also great) old stuff, and act like I've been a fan forever and that I can't wait for this new record to drop. But I do look at it this way: I'm a pretty prolific listener of music and if I haven't heard something, no matter how "popular" or "cool" or "seminal" it is/was, that means someone else hasn't heard it either. And if they come here and click play and find a new band they could potentially love, then my job here is done.

So here it is.

Good Lies
[from The Devil, You + Me|info]
[from Neon Golden|buy]


Seeing Red

Bloggers and fans the world over are displeased that their British babies Guillemots are trying to reinvent Duran Duran instead of remaining critically revered in the footsteps of 2006's Through the Windowpane. Already, Red has climbed higher on the UK charts than Windowpane ever did, largely due to the ridiculously catchy and bombastic lead single "Get Over It", which in retrospect is an adequately loud response to how this record is being treated in select "taste" hotspots around the globe. Get over it, yourselves, etc.

I guarantee a little sass would do wonders in your life. I agree that I don't enjoy this record nearly as much as a whole as the previous album, but there are a few stellar tracks. If you only allow yourself to enjoy something for your own reasons. Nothing else matters.

[from Red|buy]

"Get Over It"


MACRoCk 2008

I figure now is as good a time as any to do a little plugging/bragging about the upcoming MACRoCk music festival in Harrisonburg, VA this weekend. To an outsider it might seem an unlikely location to host a weekend of coordinated rock concerts featuring handfuls of the best up and coming bands in America, but Macrock is nothing new to regional locals. The festival, first done completely by JMU's radio station WXJM, now done in tandem with the city of Harrisonburg and local volunteers, began in 1996. Alumni of the event are an all-star list including: Elliott Smith, Matt Pond PA, Archers of Loaf, Appleseed Cast, Avail, The Dismemberment Plan, Dillinger Escape Plan, Fugazi, The Faint, Hot Water Music, MewithoutYou, the Walkmen, and Q and not U.

This year, this Saturday, at Memorial Hall, I will view as near a perfect lineup as I ever hope to absorb. Owen, Aloha, Anathallo, Shapiro, Mock Orange, Unwed Sailor, Brooke Waggoner, The Forms. All in one place, in one day. For $12. You've gotta be kidding me. SXSW eat your heart out.

Get tickets/info here.

Owen ["A Fever Analog"]
Aloha [ "Gold World"]
Anathallo ["The Angry Neighbor"]
Mock Orange ["Majestic Raincoat"]
Shapiro ["Right and Wrong"]
The Forms ["Bones"]
Brooke Waggoner ["Hush if You Must"]


April Fools Listy List

1. On the heels of one of their longest and biggest sales ever, Threadless has 21 shirts for only $5 until they sell out.

2. UK's Telegraph recently published their list of the 101 most useful websites on the internet. Highlights include #8 DaFont, #30's K2hl.com and the recommendation of its amazing game of Boomshine, and #10 Flipclips. Stunningly, no mention of linesthroughlines. I give up!

3. Surprisingly overlooked was Hulu.com, a site where you can watch a lot of favorite TV shows, movies, and film clips in high quality, on demand, for free. Very fun site to spend some time on.

4. Jamie Lidell's first single from the incredible upcoming record, Jim.

5. Listen:
Jamie Lidell - Game for Fools
[from Multiply Additions|buy]

6. Boy Friends, a hilarious and hi-def comedy series. Short enough for how ever long you have.