Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mazes - I Have Laid in The Darkness of Doubt

Why is this song so good right now? I can not stop listening, it has been propelling me through crowds of college students, bustling and uncomfortable city transportation, and keeping me company on night walks home as I walk briskly from street lamp to street lamp. It is just one of those songs that fits the "right now" so well. It appears on my ipod, I involuntarily sigh, and immediatly start feeling relief. Relief from what I am not quite sure, but I need this song to feel it.

Songs with those side effects don't come around too often and when they do, for me at least, they seem to be older ones that magically appear from the depths of my ipod waiting for the right moment to be fully appreciated. So here I am devouring this song and over playing it until the next one comes along.

Listen Local: Stereo Telescope

Myspace | Facebook
I first saw this band open up for Mystery Roar (another local band) and Delorean this summer. I was instantly impressed with the indie synth pop sounds I heard coming from the stage, and like many others around me I was asking "Who are they?". I went up to the merch table afterwards and found out for myself.

Stereo Telescope is Nikki Dessingue and Kurt Schneider who have both been involved in multiple other bands (Campaign for Real Time and This Car Up)  in the Boston scene. They came together to work on this side project and ended up turning it into a two person band. They work incredibly well as a synth pop band, with Nikki's penetrating vocals and the clean layering of Atari synth card (I think), multiple (his and hers) vocal tracks, drums, guitar, and a sense of urgency.

Synth-pop bands have been really popular in the past few years with bands like MGMT going mainstream, but what I like about Stereo Telescope is that you can understand their lyrics, they are clearly featured, poignant, and make sense. There is none of that fuzziness or excessive reverb that so many synth pop bands employ and you still get the fun electronic dancey beat. This band is quickly gathering speed after being featured by Spinner and local Boston publications, The  Phoenix and Stuff. People are paying attention to this band, as they should be. This song is too damn catchy to ignore. Give it a listen and you'll see what I mean.

"Geography is not to blame, it’s that all you do is the same / Pick a town propose a song, keep it simple I can hum along / Let’s tear this city down, let’s start all over…"

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz

I have yet to listen to this album in its entirety. From what I've heard, I'm not ready to form any opinions but I'll at least say it's interesting. Now, if you haven't gotten in on the leaked album that is going around the interwebs you can legally stream it thanks to NPR. Take a listen and see what you think for yourself. Read NPR's take on it HERE.

Listen Local: The Acre

How The Acre Came to Be. Told by the band:
"In the fall of 2005, Nick Murphy and Courtney Cavanaugh started the Acre out of a small dorm room at Bridgewater State College. With the initial goal of playing a few weekly Open Mics, the two armed themselves with a couple of covers and a handful of originals. Fast forward to 2010, the duo is now joined by Steve Rice on bass, Matt Samson on percussion and Danny McNair playing keys and guitar and the Open Mics have turned into club gigs in and around Boston. And as for that fistful of songs, the group turned them into 2009’s the Red Wool."

I came across The Acre by accident, clicking on links on a concert venue website and I landed on their myspace page. I liked what I heard. There is a lot of variety and major differences between songs, some are loud songs that become suddenly subdued, others are quiet lullabies, and some play along the lines of folk/americana songs,  but the common thread is the songwriting and lyrics, and that is what originally caught my attention. They certainly have talent, proven by their songs with well written lyrics that urge you to listen. Nick Murphy and Courtney Cavanaugh's voices meld nicely at the right moments reeling you in, compelling you to sing along.  They are a band to watch, with a new album expected in 2011, it will be exciting to see what they come up with next.

They will be playing at B.U. Central October 2nd, opening for A.A. Bondy.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pesky J. Nixon [Listen Local]

Official | Reverb Nation | Buy on CDbaby

Photo: Jason Yarn
Pesky J. Nixon recently released their sophomore album, Monkey Business & Mislaid Hopes, and sent it my way for a listen. I'm so glad I got to hear their energetic americana music with adept banjo plucking and melodic harmonies that get you listening right from the start. Don't let "americana" through you off though, this is music that can appeal to a wide audience with it's pop sensibilities, well crafted songs, and subtle rock and folk influences. Their songs are a fluid piece of work with a clear voice, making for an enjoyable listen.

I thought "Breathe in Autumn" was the perfect song for last week as summer quietly became fall and the leaves began to change as if they were just waiting for September 22nd to come along. This music feels just right for the fall, whether it is soft and contemplative or more upbeat and sing-along-esque like "Who Will Love You?", there is something about the combination of an accordion, a banjo, and stories told in the form of songs that seems just right for this time of season. Be sure to check out their album, it is an absolute pleasure to listen to.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Weekly Buzz in Review

What a week, with it came the end of summer and the beginning of autumn and a whole bunch of other stuff. Thankfully it doesn't feel like autumn quite yet here in Boston. I am keeping my fingers crossed for another Indian Summer. I also need to apologize for the lack of posting. My blog was going all sorts of crazy, some html got messed up and I couldn't post anything. If you are reading this post, it means I got things working again. It also means that next week I will be doing double time to catch up so stay tuned for some great songs from bands you've never heard of before. I am really excited to share them with you and was deeply disappointed this week when I couldn't get the word out. Here is some other stuff that happened this week worthy of a mention.

John Vanderslice solidified his reputation as an all round stand up guy and awesome musician with the release of his new EP, Green Grow the Rushes. This is being offered for FREE on his website along with a bunch of other free songs. It is definitely worth listening to. I've been enjoying it and I have always loved his lyrics. "Come to me now, you are warming weather."

Justin Townes Earl on the other hand, was arrested, entered rehab and postponed the rest of his tour. He was touring in support of his latest album, Harlem River Blues, just released on September 14th. It happens to be an outstanding album from a man who is turning out to be a timeless classic, his last album Midnight at the Movies, won countless awards and is worth checking out as well. Hopefully he gets it together so he can continue making the music we love. You can get a free download via his website as well.

Then there were two big videos of the week that everyone was talking about. The first being OK GO's "White Knuckles", which received over a million hits in it's first 24 hours online (As I write this it has almost 4 million hits). It premiered on The Ellen Show and features shelter dogs doing some impressive tricks. Supposedly they did it all in one take, making it even more impressive. While I am not a huge fan of the band, no one can deny they have an extraordinary talent for making incredible videos that always bring something new to the table. Not to mention they are helping to raise money for dog shelters so they deserve a big tip of the hat for that.

And finally there was the Sleigh Bells video for "Infinity Guitars" which also features a dog but what got people talking about this video was the pile of guitars on fire. Always keeping it interesting. 

And that takes care of this week's jibber jabber. Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jukebox the Ghost and Drink up Buttercup Concert Reviews

Just wanted to let you all know that in case you missed it elsewhere, the reviews for the concert I went to last Wednesday are up with pictures and MP3s for download. The concert was a lot of fun, with an energetic audience and even more energetic bands, it made for a great night out. The highlights were being surprised by how intense Drink Up, Buttercup was and their banging on trash cans with maracas. Jukebox the Ghost highlights were their cover songs. They played The Cure's "Close to Me" and it was amazing. They closed their show with a Donna Lewis cover of "I love you always forever" which has been stuck in my head ever since. Read the official reviews HERE.

So far I have seen 12 bands in my 100 Band Challenge which means I have 88 more bands to see within the next 343 days. There are lots of good concerts coming up in October, so stay tuned.

Pictures by me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lost in the Trees - Tiny Desk Concert [NPR]

I am so excited to see these guys play in a few weeks. After watching their Tiny Desk Concert on NPR, I was even more excited. I wrote about them two weeks ago and have been playing their music loudly ever since. On this 16 minute set they play "All Alone in an Empty House", "Song for a Painter", and "Time Taunts Me" absolutely beautiful and oh god the instruments! Love it. Go here for the full story and video.

photo: NPR

Monday, September 20, 2010

Listen Local: Kingsley Flood

      Kingsley Flood is emerging as the local favorite and it has been exciting to watch. I interviewed Kingsley Flood back in May, and since then they have only gotten bigger, Boston immediately decided to take ownership of this band, which was a smart decision.
      I have been able to see them play a few times and they put on a great show. What I like most about them is the enthusiastic melding of city and country roots, americana and rock, and their ability to make those dualities come together so flawlessly. Not to mention they are all really gifted musicians, their sound is unique and carefully crafted. Their debut album is impressive and one that I thoroughly enjoy from start to finish. They won Best Roots Act for the Boston Phoenix Music Poll and I'm sure they will continue to win a few more awards as time goes on. Get ready for Kingsley Flood, you're going to love them. Here are two of my favorite songs. Be careful though, "Cathedral Walls" is will be stuck in your head in no time.

Listen Local the Boston Music Scene

I want to let everyone know that I am working hard on creating a mixtape and writing blog posts that feature local Boston area bands. The culmination of this project will be a mixtape that I will be distributing to other Boston bloggers, as well as to a few bloggers outside of the local scene. The mixtape should be ready in a month, but in the meantime I will be exposing you to some of my favorite local artists as I work on getting this project together.

 My goal  is to help local bands achieve the recognition that they deserve on a local and hopefully national level. Boston is a musically diverse city with all sorts of different shows being played on any given night. The more time I have spent going to concerts, the more I have been impressed and surprised by the talent that is hidden among us here in Boston. Hopefully I can help showcase some of what I have experienced.

Lastly, as this project is a work in progress, (and something I am doing for free and because I love music) if you could help spread the word or if you want to help out, I would really appreciate it. You can reach me via e-mail (jessnewmusicco [at] gmail) or on Twitter.

  • If you are a band and would like to be a part of this please e-mail me or find me on twitter. 
  • If you have a reccomendation for me about a band let me know
  • If you are a designer or artist and want to do the cover art for this, it would be a huge help.
  • Anybody else, comments, questions, and feedback are all greatly appreciated.  
Thanks everyone, and I am very excited to be sharing this with all of you.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

This Week's BUZZZ in Review

This week started off with the VMA's and most people could have cared less. Ryan Adams sent funny tweets the day after they aired saying he was excited to go to the VMAs. I laughed. And the bloggers at Pigeon's and Planes did the best recap I read (actually it was the only recap I read) of the whole thing, which was more than enough for me. Kudos to them.
The best performance was the least main stream artist there, Florence and the Machine. Kanye's song that debuted it the most obnoxious asinine thing I've ever heard. Why would anyone want to make a toast to an asshole? Really. But if you feel the need to hear that song, "Runway", you can download it here. I'll try not to judge you. Oh, and this epic 7:30 min. Kanye song also dropped yesterday. See what you think and take a listen.

Warpaint doesn't even have an album out but they are making the rounds. All the people who have seen them live have raved about them and now they have this song out for free. Look for their debut full length album October 25th. I like it, I think, I can't really decide actually my ear drum is all busted.

Then there was the excitement surrounding the new Tallest Man On Earth songs that appeared this week and everyone posted the songs and is excited to hear more from him,blah blah blah. So now that I've waited a few days here are the songs coming from me. Don't get me wrong, I like him a lot, I really love his Swedish ways, but I am never in a rush to post what everyone else is posting. 
The Tallest Man On Earth is releasing a new EP titled Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird. “Like The Wheel” a song from the EP, is being given away for free. Get it below. Buy the EP here. And enjoy your weekend.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sharon Van Etten - Epic Album

I wish I could give you some typical friday music that gets you pumped up for the weekend, but I can not stop listening to the new Sharon Van Etten album, Epic, that was released on September 7th. It is a fantastic album that falls into the must buy list. On rainy, dark storm cloud days, this is the perfect music. I could elaborate on her gorgeous voice and the perfectly layered instrumentation, but I'll let the music speak for itself. Buy this album, it is perfection.

Love More [MP3]

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Choose a Concert for Me

100Bands Poll: Choose A Band!
If you are an avid concert goer like us, then you are familiar with those unfortunate times when two bands you want to see live are playing at different venues on the same day. In some cases it is an easy choice, but other times when you have an equal interest in both bands, it can be downright impossible to choose one.  Riddled with indecision, I am asking you, dear reader, to take the matter into your own hands and make the hard choice for me. I will go to whichever concert wins in the polls and I will review it as a part of the 100 Bands in 1 year challenge. If you were faced with this choice, which concert would you go see?

To aid you in your choice making process, I am providing one song from each headlining artist and links to all the performers’ websites if you need to further investigate. Please keep in mind that the opening acts sometimes have the power to make a show really great. Poll closes at midnight on September 20th. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Donovan Woods - Let Go Lightly

Myspace | CBCr3
I am jumping on this Donovan Woods bandwagon. I saw Donovan Woods posted yesterday on the blog, I Guess I'm Floating, and it was just the song I needed to hear. Since I am too busy listening to the songs, I'm going to have to give you what the press release said, because I completely agree with it.

It was 2007 when Toronto singer/songwriter Donovan Woods released The Hold Up; an album that Exclaim! called "an engaging and articulate window into the heart of an extremely unique writer". Three years later, Donovan has pushed his 'gruff but surprisingly tender' voice up front in the 12 songs of this year's "The Widowmaker". This time around, expect touches of piano, banjo, synth tones and female backing vocals to his signature acoustic guitar led songs. A great follow-up showcasing the growth of a talented songwriter.

He describes his music as an amalgamation between the folk music he grew up on and the pop music he couldn’t stop himself from listening to during the late 90’s. His music is intense, melodic and conveys a sense of great urgency.

Jukebox The Ghost - I Love You Always Forever [Cover]

Jukebox the Ghost*, a band that I am very excited so see tonight at Great Scott, has this Donna Lewis cover out that I am kind of obsessed with. You will recognize the song pretty quickly if you ever listened to the radio in the 90s. I have always had a thing for blue eyes and the lyrics "You've got the most unbelievable blue eyes I've ever seen" has always caught my attention, so I actually have the original in my itunes library, which is my embarrassing admission for today.

A totally cheesy pop tune has so much fun energy in the hands of this power pop band that you will surprise yourself when you magically recall the lyrics from some dark abyss and start singing along. 

*Go to their website for free downloads of their new song "Empire" and downloads from their opening bands!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Laura Stevenson and The Cans - Holy Ghost

This is a brand new video from Laura Stevenson and The Cans. I saw them back in August when they opened for the Cults and Maps & Atlases. I thought they were awesome live and was one of those opening acts that takes you by surprise. Check them out, I think we will be hearing more about this band in the future.

The Open Sea - All in a Day

Myspace | Buy the EP

I am turning into such a sap these days, which isn't necessarily a bad thing because there is lots of accompanying music for such a person. The most recent find is today's release from The Open Sea. The band is a side project for both Ari Hest and Rosi Golan, two talented singer/songwriters who come together to sing some beautiful duets. Their voices compliment each other very nicely, the word that comes to mind is buttery. But that might be due to my hunger. Buttery is also a word I commonly use to describe wine, which means it can be used to describe anything. But take a listen and you might find it to be buttery too.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Emiliana Torrini - Heartstopper

I am aware that this song is an old one but it is also happens to be one of my all time favorites. Recently, I can't get the lyrics out of my head "I laugh outloud/ My life's a mess/ I've gone too far in my lifelessness". I am on the verge of packing up and leaving and starting over again in a new city. As nice as it is being home for the first time in years, I think I rather prefer being far away in unfamiliar territory. I spent the better part of an afternoon drinking coffee in a diner brainstorming what to do next but all that I could think of was this song. Which in it's own ironic way, gave me some answers. Music solves everything.

The Head and The Heart - Sounds Like Hallelujah

Official | Myspace | Buy
      For an album that was released in the end of June, I was expecting to have heard more about them. But this Seattle based band might be one of the best kept secrets. The fact that bands making beautiful music like this get overshadowed by hyped up bands like Best Coast makes me lose a little bit of faith in the music blogging world. This is one of those bands where I heard one song thanks to Fuel/Friends summer mix tape and I went out and bought the entire record without needing to preview every song. I knew it was going to be just what I was looking for.
      The self titled debut album has solid piano playing in it, not just random notes hammered out on a keyboard, but substantial piano playing. The band harmonizes in most songs and has a rich and smooth sound. Then there are the lyrics. Simply written and beautifully sung, it's not hard to get lost in them. They speak to that feeling of simultaneously wanting to leave and wanting to stay, and missing people no matter where you are. The album manages to be heartwarming and heart wrenching all at once.
      Now, this is the perfect fall music, and the entire album is outstanding, I can't really stress that enough. While I wait for permissions to post songs, I will give you the one that first turned me on to this band (thanks to my favorite Denver based music blog). Wait until you get to the chorus with the foot stamping/hand clapping and then go buy it!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Stuff people were blogging about this week that I was indifferent towards

There were a couple of big things going on this week that everyone was all a buzz about but I didn't feel the need to mention it. But now that it is a lazy Sunday and I'm in my comfy clothes anxiously awaiting the start of the football season, I guess I can fill you in.

1. Bandcamp is dead...well not really, but close to it. This is a site where you can get a lot of music direct from musicians for free or name your own price and has been one of my favorite ways of discovering new music. Now Bandcamp is changing it's policies and allowing an artist a predetermined number of free downloads. It changes the whole game and has bands and music fans alike in a tizzy.

2. Sufjan Stevens's new song is free on bandcamp (at least for now). People have mixed feelings about it. I have never been enough of a Sufjan fan to form an opinion on it. He tries new things and I appreciate that, but I don't have the attention span for songs over six minutes.

3. Belle & Sebastian's new song, "Write About Love" is available for free too. There is also an accompanying video but I still haven't been able to watch it because it makes my computer go crazy every time I try to load it. The new song is catchy and fun and typical Belle & Sebastian.

4. As predicted, a bunch of people are remixing and mashing up Cee-Lo's "F**k You" song, some are good, lots are terrible, and I'm tired of hearing about it. The radio version inserts "Forget You" instead of swearing and the song totally loses appeal. This website collected most of the remixes and spoofs for you.

And that takes care of all the buzzy stuff that didn't deserve a week day blog post. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Here is my favorite song of the day, does anything sound more like fall than this?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Amazon free downloads

Recently people have been getting wind of the free Amazon downloads that are available. While browsing the singles is nice, the real gems are often hidden in record label sampler cds. Most of the time you have to download the entire album to get them. Check out amazon's downloads, it is worth it, and is much better than buying on itunes. All of their downloads go straight to your itunes library. My recent favorite album download was Big Sound Sampler from 2009 full of Australian artists. Below are some of my favorite songs from the sampler. But search for yourself, there are lots of great songs to find.

A wonderful song loosely weaving classic folk song references into the lyrics. 

a nice little indie pop/folk song.  

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New reviews are up on Sunset in the Rearview and the semi-official Site. 3 bands down and 97 more to come.

Lost in the Trees - Walk Around the Lake

Official | Myspace | Tumblr

I was a little skeptical of this song at first, but it does start out with the saw so it has to be good, right? Yes, I am right. The saw is always an indicator of awesomeness. I wasn't expecting a band named Lost in the Trees to hit you in the face with intensely haunting violins in the first few seconds of listening. But then the vocals sound an awful lot like Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and you get lulled into the song just long enough to be surprised all over again when the intense violins come back. It is a really beautiful orchestration which is what prompted me to find out more about the band. What I found out, I really liked. The orchestral stylings of this band are the real deal and based on a really awesome concept. Read about the Project Symphony here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sun Airway - Oh, Naoko

Tumblr | Record Label
This is the perfect song for an easy segue into fall, and it sounds impossibly just like that picture looks, trust me. It has some of that sparkling optimistic chillwave sound infused with a comfortable amount of dreamy pop and catchy lyrics that you want to put on just like your favorite fall sweater. You know, that sweater that you are secretly happy you get to wear again even though it means admitting the days are indeed cooler. I don't really know what I am talking about, but this song is like that. I fell in love at first listen and it makes me smile. 
"I'll be there just to lasso you the moon shine"
 Sun Airway is a two man Philly band that is currently on tour (they tour as a quintet). They will be releasing their debut album on October 26th through the Dead Ocean label. Until then, fill your ears up with this dreamy goodness. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Borrowing from Blogs [Their Bated Breath]

Meet David D. Robbins Jr. the man behind the one person blog, Their Bated Breath, one of my favorites. What sets this blog apart is the knowledgeable detail that David puts into each review. I have a hard time reading long reviews, a lot of times I just want to listen to the music and form my own opinion. But Their Bated Breath, full of lengthier reviews, is one of the rare ones that I actually take the time to read.

David really takes the time to listen to full albums or even just songs and forms a smart and perceptive opinion on them that he shares with his readers. He writes one of the more honest blogs out there. Not everything is a fantastically awesome hit and he is not afraid of saying it. Often times there are references to old songs I haven't heard before, and I have found that in reading this blog it has broadened my musical knowledge in a really meaningful way. I now have bands to look up just from the interview. Lastly, our musical tastes run fairly parallel to each other, at least when I am not engrossed in some chillwave hoopla. Like David, my favorite album of all time is Van Morisson's "Astral Weeks". And I agree about 95% with the other songs he mentions below. It is always a great pleasure finding another blogger, or human being, that has the same taste and passion for music which is probably why I sound like a crazed fan babbling on about this blog. But to me, it is really that good, and I'm not really that crazy.

David took some time to answer a few questions and talk about music for me via email that illustrates my points exactly. He apologized for rambling and said I could cut down the interview, but being a rambler myself I found it hard to do. So, here are some tunes borrowed from Their Bated Breath that David turned me on to. Play them while you read the interview and be sure to check out his blog.

Why did you choose to name the blog Their Bated Breath? 
Well, honestly, I wanted it to be "Bated Breath". But it was too common a phrase, so I added the "Their" to it. I wanted "breath" in the name somewhere because it seems like one of the common elements between singer and fan. Maybe it's my English studies background coming out. In some way, all vocals, at their very basic level begin with breathing. How we sculpt wind with our mouths. How our vocal chords vibrate, like guitar strings, like harp, like reverb. It's really fascinating when you think of communication in this very phonetic way. Strange how these utterances and noises take shape, and eventually hold meaning. Great musicians take that to the next level. We hear Billie Holiday sing "Strange Fruit" or Little Jimmy Scott sing "When Did You Leave Heaven?"  and there's something more meaningful than just the words. It's as if the sound of them being sung comes from some ancient, deep, place before the earth began. We know it deep down. We just can't quantify it. It's subconscious. I always call it being tapped in or having a finger on the pulse of the world. As for fans, they often wait with "bated breath" to hear any utterance from their favorite musician. It's a tad heady. And maybe a bit cheesy too. But in the end, I liked the idea.

What do you enjoy most about blogging?
The best thing about blogging is the rare time you run into a band or artist that literally floors you with their talent. I receive so many free MP3s, full albums, EPs and such through e-mail every day. Some bands are looking for a good review. But at a basic level, most really just want serious constructive criticism. They don't necessarily want you to just say all the music is great. They want to know someone is out there listening carefully and thoughtfully to an album that may have spent years creating. It feels good being able to tell something their work is beautiful. Needless to say, not all the music is good. But sometimes I'll get music from a band I know 90 percent of us have never heard before and yet they're remarkable. The joy is in being able to say, "Listen to this. I know you've never heard this before, and it's fantastic." I just hope to write well enough to do justice to the work a band has created.

What do you enjoy the least?
My least favorite thing about music blogging is trying to figure out how to say I won't be reviewing an album. I still haven't figured that out yet. I promise on the contact page of my blog to listen to everything sent to me. And I do that. It takes a lot of time to live up to this promise. So, far, so good. But there are albums I hear and know it just isn't my thing, or maybe its not right for the site, or maybe it's just not that good. I generally try to write back to everyone who sends music.  But it's getting near impossible to do that now. Usually, the first thing I do is thank them for taking the time to e-mail me. And then I listen to the music. If I don't like it, I just don't write about it. I feel really bad about it. I thought maybe one time, perhaps for a week's period, I'd say, "Okay, for one week I will review every single album you send me, regardless of whether I like it or not." But I suspect I'll never do that. 

If someone was perusing your music library, is there anything in there you might be embarrassed to admit you listen to? 
Oh man. I love these kinds of questions. I've never really known what was cool to begin with, so I never feel embarrassed really. I do have some indie friends who think my love for Fiona Apple's music is a bit soft for a guy. I guess I'm also a sucker for sexy mood music. Stuff like Sade. I'm a highly romantic person, so an old song like Sade's "Is It a Crime?" blows me away. Her voice and ability to induce mood allows her to get away with lyrics that might be a bit saccharine under other circumstances, like, "My love is wider than Victoria Lake and taller than the Empire State." Who doesn't grow weak-kneed when she sings, "I want you to want me too"? I think my friends would be surprised to know too that I like Marilyn Manson's song "The Dope Show", and as little as I write about rap -- I could listen to songs like "My Mind Playing Tricks on Me" by the Geto Boys, Ice-Cube's "Today Was a Good Day" or 'Lil Wayne's song "Dr. Carter" endlessly. Those grooves are great. I think Culture Club's "Strange Voodoo" is a cool song.    

Is your music collection bigger in digital format or vinyl ? How many records and how many mp3s do you have? 
My digital collection is big now. I'd guess it's somewhere in the 100,000 songs arena. But I still buy hard-copy CDs. I've probably bought Jeff Buckley's "Grace: Legacy Edition" three times. That CD and "Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk", I've bought multiple times and no doubt gave away copies to friends, only to miss it so badly that I had to buy them again. Sadly, I don't own anything on vinyl anymore. I used to own a sweet collection of original jazz records, like Miles Davis' "Circle in the Round", a lot of John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Stevie Wonder's "Songs in the Key of Life" with the single album included. I had the "Lady Sings the Blues" soundtrack on vinyl, featuring Diana Ross singing Billie Holiday, with the big pictorial booklet perfectly intact inside. But I regretfully left the records with my folks one year and they told me they ended up selling them for around fifty cents. No joke. I was mad for about week. 

What new artists/bands people should definitely know about?
Currently, in terms of bands with new records out, I think Dark Mean, City Calm Down, and Holy Spirits are way under the radar. I was astounded hearing this guy from California, making music in his basement. He calls himself Kissed Her Little Sister Lately, I've found myself really learning to appreciate a kind of music I really had overlooked for so long. This ambient style that feels more like compositions and expressions of pure musical freedom, like Elevator Boy and Julia Holter. Holter isn't for everyone. I understand that. My guess is, she's smart enough to understand that too. But popularity has never been the sole barometer of talent. And she's a musical whirlwind. One person everyone should hear is Sean Hayes. He is romance in a bottle.

I know I hate this question because I can never choose, but some people have strong and definite opinions on this: Favorite artist(s) of all time?
Yeah, that's certainly a tough one. I'm probably more of a word guy that most music fans. I love great songwriting. It's one thing to create a great melody or a great chorus. But to find an artist who can consistently do that and write great lyrics is a rarity. One of my true loves is Bob Dylan. Say what you will about the guy's personality or his singing voice, but he's a genius. Anyone who can write a song like "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands", at an epic 11 minutes, will always be a friend of mine. That being said, I still think Dylan has yet to write a perfect album in the sense of Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks", my favorite album ever, or Bruce Springsteen's "Greetings from Asbury Park" or Coltrane's "Love Supreme". Those albums are flawless. Those albums bridge heaven and earth. They're so otherworldly, that even the artists themselves could never touch that place again. I love Joy Division and an old band called TheThe. But if I had one band's albums to take with me on that hypothetical desert island, it would be the work of The Smiths. Yeah, they're sad-sacks. But such beautiful sad-sacks. Does anyone luxuriate more in words than Morrissey? And he has every right to feel that way. 

What is your most memorable concert experience?  
Wow. I have so many. I got really drunk with Dave Matthews the night before his show. We got drunk and he talked about the world, bad TV journalism, all while Devo was playing in the background. Kinda surreal. I jumped onstage once at a Bob Dylan show, on a dare, and was tackled by overly-aggressive bouncers. I saw Dizzy Gillespie play a full concert not to long before he died. On a whim, I once went to see Luciano Pavarotti by myself. Got all dressed up and attended a concert of his in Chicago. Never seen a singer answer so many encores. But one of the most memorable experiences for me was being lucky enough to see bluesman, Luther Allison, play four times. All were lucky occasions, in various state in the U.S. He would walk around the crowd with a cordless guitar playing in front of you. He once did a riff for my mother, who was in the crowd watching him at a show. Seeing Allison serenade my own mother was something else. He would wander about the crowd for sometimes 10 minute depending upon the size of the crowd. No joke, I saw Allison once follow a fan to a port-a-potty, asking, "Where are you going?" in a blues sing-song style. And then he continued to play in front of it, until the man returned, to the delight and laughter of everyone around. Absolutely hilarious. One of the best showmen I've ever seen.

Do you have any words of advice for someone just getting started in music blogging? 
Actually, I'm sorta just starting myself. My blog has been going on now for less than a year. But I do have some advice. Write what you love and don't be shy about being effusive. I mean, if you love someone's music, then say so. Somewhere along the lines, it got to be uncool to shower an artist with praise. For some reason that reminds me of this line the poet W.H. Auden once wrote, "In the prison of his days, teach the free man how to praise." I know I'm totally misinterpreting it. Purposefully. I like the notion that bloggers should feel good about heaping praise on what they like. It's refreshing. It feels good. It's liberating to define what one likes. There's nothing wrong with falling in love with music.

Wooden Pigs - The Blossom

This unsigned Bournemouth, UK band has a great sound and a lot of energy. They have mostly been compared to the debut album from Kings of Leon but I think they sound more like The Kooks. But it doesn't really matter, they do their own thing, and the do a pretty impressive job rocking it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The War on Drugs - Comin' Through

Official | Myspace
Everyone is all a buzzing about the new single from the upcoming eight track album, Future Weather, from The War On Drugs. And rightly so. It's a mellow tune well suited for anything really, but mostly just makes me want to space out and relax. The sophomore album drops October 26, if "Comin' Through" is any indication it's going to be a good one.

NEW FEATURE! 100 Bands in 1 Year

Hey everyone, while at the Dan Mangan concert I thought it would be really cool if I could see an absurd amount of musicians perform live in one year. In the days that followed, I became obsessed with this idea and started planning and brainstorming how I was going to do that. My head was inflated with flashes of grandeur and being interviewed by The Boston Globe and other silly things. I created another bare bones blog entirely for this project. Here it is on wordpress. I am trying out all the blogging platforms just for kicks.

Then, I also happened to be talking with a fellow all-star blogger, who is in the big leagues (in my world that means listed on hype machine and totally awesome),  and we decided to go for the goal as a joint blogging team and now this will also be a feature on the always wonderful Sunset in the Rearview. Lydia really knows what she is doing and I am so excited to have some of my writing up on her site.

Make sure you check it out. I won't be posting any of the 100 bands here, but I will provide links to the new reviews as they get posted elsewhere. Although I will still be writing about the really fantastic concerts here. I will also be promoting it via twitter, can follow me there. I am really excited about this project and all of the concerts in the future. I am seeing Telekinesis and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin on Tuesday. So look for those reviews coming up this week.

Dan Mangan was band #1 that got reviewed. Now there are just 99 more to go!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Isaiah & Hovey - Can't Help Myself

This is just too much fun not to post. While the beats and samples are simple, and the chorus sometimes gets lost, the flow and rhymes are hard not to like. It is a refreshing change in the hip-hop scene in a Kid Cudi type of way. The rhymes are enjoyable, never too crude, and honest: "Look, I never said / that my song would change the nation / I'm just hoping when it's on / that you don't change the station.". Each line is a hook that keeps you listening for more. Below are more lyrics from "Can't Help Myself":
no need to compose 
let our antics be our anthems
so don't tell me what you think
tell me how you feel
I just came here to chill
and tell you something real
Currently I'm trying to turn
my daydreams into reality
come with me and we can fly to another galaxy
You and me chillin
on the dark side of the moon
listening to Pink Floyd
the sun will be up soon
So blow a kiss to the stars
and we'll call it a night
It's back to earth in the morning, love
and it's a long flight.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Boston's Bodega Girls cover DOM's "Living in America"

Finally! I've been waiting for this all summer. Why it took so long for someone to mellow out DOM's hit song that spread like wildfire is a real mystery. I am stoked that the Bodega Girls were up for the task. Get the free download of the song HERE, only costs an email address. Do it.

Oh Land - Sun of a Gun

OfficialMyspace | Buy
          Here is some wonderful new music from this danish beauty (is there any other kind?), Oh Land, otherwise known as Nanna Øland Fabricius.  This song is about as catchy as it gets, full of sing-a-along-ability and perfect for a friday. If you like Marina and the Diamonds or Lenka you will like Oh Land too.
       Part of what makes this track such a stand out from all the other dancey poppy songs out there is that the 23 year old programs and arranges all the music herself. Her record label, Fake Diamond, includes this in her bio: "It is nonetheless awe inspiring that Nanna not only sings on Fauna (her album), but also programmes her own beats, plays the piano, guitar and violin and samples everything from pots and pans to buzzing flies and her own voice. In this fashion, Nanna’s personal imprint is solidly embedded in all aspects of her ambitious soundscapes." Rather impressive for someone whose first career path was a ballerina.
      There are already two stellar remixes out but I remain a fan of the original. While everyone is making a fuss over "Sun of a Gun" I want to remind you that the rest of the album is equally fantastic. Be sure to check it out. Happy Listening.

Move Out West - I'm All Smiles

There was a time when this would have been my new favorite song. That time was when I listened to bands like Jack's Mannequin, Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Dico, and The Format. Don't judge, it was a short period that I supplemented with lots of folk and Nashville bands. So just for old times sake, and because everyone is guilty of liking music that eventually becomes embarrassing to admit to liking, there is this to take you back. However, if you are into that emo/punk/teen angst thing, then this band is for you. Feel free to comment with your opinions or share the embarassing aspects of your music collection. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hadestown a Folk Opera

Official | Myspace | YouTube | Buy on itunes
This is one of those projects that is so impressive you wonder why you haven't heard of it yet. The folk opera is based on: "Hadestown is a folk opera based on the Orpheus myth and set in a post apocolyptic American depression era." They are currently performing shows in the midwest. The collaborators on these folk opera songs are great and work so well together too; Ani Difranco, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Ben Knox Miller of Low Anthem, Greg Brown, and the Haden triplets. Anaïs Mitchell, a vermont native, and talented singer/songwriter wrote all the songs for the play. Here are a few for you to sample. Way down is my favorite with a great roots blues feel that sounds like it's straight from New Orleans with some great harmonica and trumpet playing.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Arcade Fire Interactive Video - We Used To Wait

This Arcade fire/google collaboration just opened the door to a crazy new world: Interactive Music Videos. This really blew my mind, it is so creative and original. It is certainly groundbreaking and predictive of the future of music videos. You type in your home address and the video starts (it opens up lots of tabs, don't worry about it) and it uses google earth images of the address you submitted throughout the video. If you like where you grew up, this will bring on waves of nostalgia. You even get to write a postcard during the video. It is something you really have to experience for yourself so click on the link below and see what it is all about.

Borrowing from Blogs...literally [We Listen For You]

Yesterday on twitter We Listen For You bragged about this amazing video that would be unleashed on the world and I really had no idea to expect. But this is above and beyond anything I could have hoped for. Backed by a four minute song, "Vultures", by The Pass there are 30 music blogs referenced. It is funny, creative, and downright genius, not to mention tons of fun.

Here is how you play the contest: To make this even more fun, I’m holding a contest to see who can identify the most music blog/music site references. We managed to reference over thirty sites. To prevent people from listing every blog they know, if you guess a blog that isn’t featured in the video you get –1 points….one right you get +1. The person with the most points win. E-mail to answers to Please don’t use the comment box to guess…they will not count.

The winner will receive a 50 dollar gift certificate to Insound and a cd copy of The Pass debut BURST. If someone manages to get a perfect score, I might throw in something extra. This was a lot of fun to make and I hope you have as much fun watching what has to be one of the craziest house parties ever.

Some tips that were given out via twitter are: some are music related sites, not just blogs. There are two music bloggers in the video, one plays his own blog. There are some obvious ones like pitchfork, gorilla vs. bear, and the music ninja but trying to get them all is rather tricky. Here is the video, take a look and see if you can figure it out.
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