Friday, November 12, 2010

oops: i moved!

So guess what?

I'm for real now.

My Best Friend's Arm now has a real home! http://www.mybestfriendsarm.com

Come on over!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

nice, nice, very nice


I have always had a love for our friends in the Great White North. From Rick Moranis to Neil Young to Alan Thicke, there is constantly positive influence flowing from Canada. And their Smarties are far and away better than American Smarties.

The most recent influx of goodness from Canada comes in the form of troubadour Dan Mangan, and his sophomore full length, Nice, Nice, Very Nice. The title comes out of Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, and the poem helps contextualize the raw, rooted album;

Oh, a sleeping drunkard

Up in Central Park,

And a lion-hunter

In the jungle dark,

And a Chinese dentist,

And a British queen-

All fit together

In the same machine.

Nice, nice, very nice;

Nice, nice, very nice;

Nice, nice, very nice-

So many different people

In the same device.

When I first heard Mangan's voice radiate out of my speakers with "Indie Queens are Waiting," I was taken away. Just like his literary inspiration, Mangan puts timeless concepts into poignant and stingingly close language.

The aforementioned song is what caused me to sink into his music more completely, what with its steady strum and shifting, swimming soundscapes radiating like deep breaths during a rushed day.

I'm sorry that I brought it up

It's not nice to piss you off

And I know, I know, I know

But I was poking and sort of prodding and kind of hoping

And always watching for a reaction, a reaction

Mangan evokes feelings of independent movement, of intuitive running and jumping and listening to instinct. His folk tinged music has an effortless grace about it, an impeccable rhythm and grasp of melody and timing. He grips and releases right when I need it, and his album accompanies everything from a drive through winding roads to a walk downtown with turning, golden leaves floating just like the ethereal harmonies he employs.

I am definitely not surprised he was picked up by the super hip Canadian label Arts and Crafts, and I definitely intend to stay immersed in this album for a good long while.


Dan Mangan- The Indie Queens are Waiting










Sunday, September 5, 2010

laura marling: ghosts


I love this song.

It's full of rich storytelling, unbelievably heart wrenching honesty, and absolutely knock out melodic beauty.

I like songs that aren't new that always sound it.





If you don't know the enormously talented, precocious young Laura Marling, please listen to her March release, I Speak Because I Can. One of my favorite albums of the year thus far. And she remains in my list of favorite songstresses, as highlighted by this song that is off her 2007 release, Alas I Cannot Swim. Now go enjoy your night!


I love the live video, and the recorded track. Maybe you should, too.

Laura Marling [feat. Marcus Mumford]- Ghosts

Friday, September 3, 2010

theFUNsun


I woke up in a messy mood today. The day just called for me to not brush my hair, and to shake around with air drums and air guitar to music full of bare foot, grinning feeling.

I am very happy I was called back to Slow Animal, the New Jersey duo that pumps out spacious, echoing, grimy rock that conjures images of boys learning to play guitar for the first time and realizing all the cool noises they could make.

I'm very excited they have released their 7" of the following video's track, "theFUNsun", along with the equally jaggedly catching song "Saturday Mourning." Hurry up and get it, there are limited quantities. Meanwhile, let down your hair, open the blinds, and go wild. No one's watching...(except maybe your neighbor with all those Chia pets in the window).


Slow Animal - theFUNsun from JAXART Records on Vimeo.



theFUNsun- Slow Animal

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

i guess he's an xbox and i'm more atari



I was told when I was a little girl, all done in pigtails and pink shorts, that I should be gracious.

That I should be nice.
Should be forgiving.
Should be kind.

But there are those times in life... the times when someone or something just spits in your face and punches you in the nose, and maybe breaks a couple ribs, and you're left laying in the dirt staring into the bleak infinity and thinking...

Well fuck this.

The new Cee-Lo single from the new album Ladykiller out October 4, is simply entitle "Fuck You."

And it needs the Fuck.
It's a song about reclaiming anger in a way that the quiet singer songwriters that I so love just can't do sometimes. Sometimes I want to let myself revel in the soulful injustice of it all. And Cee-Lo (as you would expect from the other half of Gnarls Barkley) does it in the catchiest way you could imagine. You know what this liberating, sunny, angry song tells me?

I don't have to want the right thing all the time!

We don't have to be so damn graceful about the things that just frankly suck.

It's OK to be a sore loser.

But most importantly; rejection doesn't always need to be so uncomfortably pathetic.

I love Cee-Lo's declarations in this song, so blunt, so often hilarious, and so in the moment:

And though there's pain in my chest
I still wish you the best
With a "Fuck you"
Ooo ooo ooo

This song does not break any musical barriers. It's not awash in sentimentality (on the surface at least), and it doesn't beg for me to overanalyze it. So I won't. I'll just be happy I relate to something so visceral and human. And I'll play it again. Right now.




Fuck You-Cee-Lo

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

so go play with your piano/ and write a mediocre song


"A Dark Haired Girl Tries to Seduce a Piano Player"
by Ian Francis
Sometimes Damien Rice is too much for me.

To much digging, too much burrowing into the emotion steeped parts of me that I guard with flinching possessiveness, like day old yellowing bruises.

But I was caught today, thanks to the suggestion from the musically clairvoyant Heather, by a b-side off the 9 Crimes Single, "Rat Within the Grain."

Rice sings about this helpless, most likely hopeless, love that he circles around with building, repressed resentment and barely disguised brokenness.

What kills me is his blank honesty. But it's not a hopeful honesty, not like he's singing to someone on the verge of coming back. It's like he is singing to her back as she leaves, resigned to being forgotten, knowing something has died and he has no more power, and still almost tenderly reassuring the deaf ears;

I wouldn’t want you to want
to be wanted by me
I wouldn’t want you to worry
you’d be drowned within my sea

I only wanted to be wonderful,
in wonderful is true, in truth
I only really wanted to be wanted by you

The powerlessness is what gets me, and knocks the wind out of me with every turn of phrase that brings the lovely melody around to the disarmingly relatable conclusion that he can't do anything to keep things how he wants. And then his anger and self deprecation come careening through. He teeters on the edge of hating her and loathing himself for caring.


So go play with your piano
And write a mediocre song
About the shell of mediocrity
And pretend there’s nothing wrong

I never thought
You where a chicken shit
I never thought of you at all
Until you asked me to be part of it
And now you're showing me your wall

It's an all too human and real story of caring, of holding on, and of watching someone break your heart and walk away.

What I love and appreciate so often is that Rice seems to bring us to his stories at their close, leaving us to insert our own storylines and letting us join him on the dark stage watching the backs recede out of the theatre.

Tonight this song is on repeat, as though listening to the end of something can somehow push forward to the beginning of something else.



Rat Within the Grain- Damien Rice

Saturday, July 31, 2010

new! from the bees


July closes for me with a sense of wistful longing for summer to slow down. The dripping honey sunsets melt too quickly. The mornings dawn hot and sticky and full of promise. The promise of a work day. My work schedules come out too late to plan for any adventure bigger than riding my bicycle to the top of a big hill and breathing in the breeze.

However, good things are always all around. My July didn't end up being the rambling month of shenanigans I had hoped, but I experienced so many moments of greatness it's impossible to feel anything but a reflective peace and satisfaction.

The music that is closing July so very gently with me is some long awaited new material (what they call a "little summer breeze of a taster") from that properly stupendous British sextet, The Bees.

Laden with folk harmonies that lovingly embrace sunshine tinged finger picking, this single feels like one of the many walks I take in the early summer morning before blistering heat. Like I could walk by a tunnel and see and hear this band of bees banging so gently on some overturned trash barrels and singing, echoing and shivering around the diffused morning light.

I like this a lot. I very much hope more news comes out soon about their forthcoming release.



(Hey...did you notice how I didn't make any jokes about the buzz The Bees are generating with this new track??)
(I think I'm more mature than I used to be.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

[live at WaxTrax!] the seedy seeds!

[All photos by the ever gracious and talented Lee Runyan.]

Cincinnati band The Seedy Seeds caught my attention just a couple months ago with their 2008 Eurodorable release, Count the Days. And it is...adorable. All full of accordion and banjo and dancing beats and Mike Ingram and Margaret Darling's voices earnestly popping, soaring and "lala"ing about hearts and dirt and sunshine. When I saw they were coming to Denver to participate in the rich, satisfying cornucopia of music known as the UMS, I was all set to finally see these guys live.


Unfortunately I had to miss their Sunday set, which I heard was phenomenal. Luckily, this magnanimous trio decided to play a free show the very next day at local record shop, Wax Trax. So I trekked over despite having been told over the phone that they were not playing in the store. But I don't trust disembodied voices, and while I was browsing the CDs hoping against hope that what I had heard was wrong, I heard a banjo tuning.



With great excitement, I barreled over into the next room, and saw to my great delight The Seedy Seeds about to launch into their first song. Blame it on the sheer excitement of being proven right, or see it as a testament to how darn catchy this hard-to-pigeonhole (electronica? folk? who cares?) group is...but my feet started moving and barely stopped for the full 45 minute set.


Darling and Ingram make a great duo, full of energy and swapping guitar duty back and forth, with Ingram defaulting to his banjo to pluck out some of the most infectious melodies I have heard in a while, and Darling playing the accordion with an ease I would expect only from seasoned Oktoberfest musicians; certainly not from this pretty voiced woman with a kazoo. I couldn't help but be mesmerized by Brian Penick's light-up drum set. Every beat activated white Christmas lights, just like my beloved pink light up shoes of yore.

The Seedy Seeds played a great, engaging show with a surprisingly full sound and unbounded energy. Though there were not many of us there, I just could not stop smiling and dancing around. The music made me feel more unselfconcious than many bigger shows I've been to where I have often felt relegated to controlled toe tapping and apathetic arm-crossing.






The Ohio locals have a new 7" out called Roll Deep on Shake It Records that they released JUST for Record Store Day in April. Check it out, check them out. They're already slated for SXSW next year, and will be doing CMJ this year, along with releasing a full length album early next year, possibly around February or March.

We Are Missing- The Seedy Seeds

















Tuesday, July 20, 2010

And I know your mama calls you good for nothin'/she says her baby's a failure and she don't want you callin'





Paul Jacobsen and the Madison Arm are a band from Salt Lake City, UT that I had never heard of until today.

And yet they have been occupying my earspace (and heartspace) nonstop since I heard their soul stripping, bare bones cover of Kathleen Edwards' "Six O'Clock News" this afternoon.

There are some voices that sound like a good friend drawing the curtains closed and holding you while you break down. The voices that can soar through the tiny cracks we've allowed to form in our armor. I believe Paul Jacobsen has one of these voices. I think he'll be joining me for my day to day adventures much more now.

Six O'Clock News (Kathleen Edwards)- Paul Jacobsen and the Madison Arm


For a crack at the original:


Six O'Clock News- Kathleen Edwards




Their self-titled album, Paul Jacobsen and the Madison Arm, was released in 2008. However, this recording is from a Black Sessions EP recorded "live on a bleak winter day."

Thanks to my friend Heather's reaction to the eviscerating song, I learned that this marvelous band will be opening for Colin Hay in Salt Lake on July 31. Check it out if you can!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

you're a layer of my clothes made of ivy and gold



Way to beat the sophomore slump, Bombay Bicycle Club. The young British rockers politely demanded my attention with their 2009 release I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose, which is full of quirky, literate folk rock laced with xylophone and a maturity that defies their ages. I devoured their two EPs last year after I heard their first LP, eager for more of the rare, poignant songwriting and pitch perfect production that hails back to the honest recording of legends like Neil Young or Joan Baez.
I was finally rewarded with more from the quartet this month.

Their second full length, Flaws, officially released July 12 (so it is currently out across the sea), was recorded in Jack Steadman's bedroom, and then produced by the singer himself. It delivers the same unique sound they introduced, but not in a tired way. Take the single, Ivy&Gold. The plucky golden melody skips over percussion that sounds tapped out on tins on a front porch. Steadman's voice is so relaxed and natural it rolls along like a babbling brook, tumbling with sunny harmonies. It's just as wistful and satisfying as a song as could be, and the whole record plays on a certain feeling of deep nostalgia for suddenly remembered sepia toned days that passed so gently and so quickly.

Bombay Bicycle Club will be spinning round and round for me during this hot, slow July. Keep an eye (and both your ears) on these gents; I feel they're bound for bigger things, and soon.
Ivy&Gold- Bombay Bicycle Club

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io

Friday, July 9, 2010

I'm so far around the bend




Etching above by Grant Silverstein, an incredibly talented artist whose prints baffle me with their beauty.

So if you noticed...I've been gone for a while!

No, it's not because I'm mad at you. Though when I put up a new Facebook status especially for you and you didn't "like" it...it stung.

I've been starting a new job, and writing for other people (check out Reverb, Cause=Time, Donnybrook on that blog roll on the right), and spending a lot of time riding my new road bicycle (named Thurgood) on hot pavement. I've been so caught up in enjoying the world I forgot to do what connects me to it; write. So let's start that up again, shall we?

There have been a few things just absolutely pleasing me this summer. For one, the track The National put on the magnificent compilation; Dark Was the Night which benefited AIDS relief and awareness, "So Far Around the Bend." It's rare for Berninger's dark, smoky voice to bely hope, but in this bright track those brilliant boys make me want to roll down my car window and fly around blind corners looking for something new, and to speed away from the melancholy that the world lays down.



For a totally different feel, I have to present Bill Callahan's recent work. I feel a deep appreciation for the lo-fi artists of yore, and Callahan's brainchild Smog was definitely one of those. It's Callahan's solo work that captures me right now, with his 2009 release Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle; a deeply textured, curious and beautiful creation. He describes the overdubbing process as four or five string players gathered around one microphone, which comes through with the close, velvet sound that lends such an accessibility and warmth to the album. It's perfect for those gray summer days when the heat turns to diffused haze and the sun never fully rises.



Well guys, I'm glad we took a moment to catch up. Plenty more on the way. By the way, for all you local Denver-ites the UMS is coming up July 22-25! A multi-day, multi-stage extravaganza of local music and infinite amounts of fun. I'll be there helping out and dancing like a fool. I'll also be speaking on a music blogging panel with some good friends. Check that out right here, it'll be July 24 from 3 30 to 4 30.

Keep enjoying summer, put on that sunscreen, and shirk as many responsibilities as possible.

Friday, May 28, 2010

if you've got a boyfriend, well go kiss him


Wow. It's been a while since I've been so twitterpated with a pop album. Really. I feel a little giggly and blushing, and embarrassed to admit that I have been snapping along to The Drums' debut album, out June 7 on Moshi Moshi, for a good hour now.

The self titled record starts with the cheeky tune, "Saddest Summer," all full of Joy Division like reverb, and Jonathan Pierce's vocals sounding uncannily like Robert Smith's in its earnest tenor. The whole album skips along, shimmering and flitting and sounding deceptively lighthearted until you listen to the extremely melancholy messages right on the surface of the energizing melodies.


The Brooklyn band is currently gearing up for a pretty high profile summer, with UK dates supporting Kings of Leon with the likes of The Features and The Black Keys, not to mention coming off supporting Florence and the Machine and The Big Pink.

Saddest Summer- The Drums


In honor of The Drums' throwback style, I thought I'd share a picture of the bicycle I rode today, so lovingly named Don Johnson. Look at those Miami Vice colors. And he rides like a dream. Sadly lacking in feathered hair and white linen jackets...but still a trustworthy companion.


Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! Find your jam, turn it up, and don't forget sunscreen.

Monday, May 24, 2010

you deserve applause for splitting me in two



Delta Spirit definitely made a fan out of me in 2008 with Ode to Sunshine, with all its melodic racket, gritty embrace, and airtight songwriting. I remember listening to that album over and over, and finding new things it said that squeezed the air out of me...almost as though the infectious beats that kept the pace had to bring me along so I wouldn't be stopped in my tracks completely by the revelations that record caused.

And it's been too long without a follow up to sink into.

Which is why I'm so happy they're giving us the June 8 release of History from Below, an album that digs down even deeper with the rootsy gumption that Ode to Sunshine did.

This album doesn't polish up and shine. It's a faded, favorite tshirt that you just didn't know you had. It wears so comfortably that I'm frankly, albeit irrationally, surprised I haven't heard it before. The content of it is the accessible stuff of regret and aching loss and of big old pity parties with yourself, the bottle, and some biting honesty. It's familiar and new at the same time.

Take the song that keeps bringing me back, "Scarecrow." Neighbors chat in a distant reality as though the intro is heard through your closed eyelids and open ears. Birds chirp and you can hear wheels crunch over loose gravel like you're lying in golden sun hours with your eyes closed while Matthew Vasquez reclines against a worn and waving willow tree while he sings this heartbreaking tale of attachment and loss and the fading of people and love. And he does it with the baffling lightness of touch of the blues so you might want to be sipping lemonade with your feet in a cool brook during the whole thing. While weeping.


Oh scarecrow
You know why I'm asleep?
All the weight you bear you cannot carry me
You know you're just like your mother
And your bag all packed to go
And you hid your heart from everyone you know
You say you'd never love another
Unless they bore your own name
Oh your kin, they trample on you just the same

Oh I gave my love to a harlot I'm told
And the blackness of a scarecrow no one knows
Well I'm red in the blood that I have drained
That I wasted in a rain

Well your love that takes your picture
And your love that worships you
Well if you can't see it then soon you will
And you frequent the same stripclub
You love to watch the ladies dance
Well you always knew I don't do shit like that
While I was out in Scotland
You were out with him
And he took your shot and you threw up your limbs

Well I gave my love to a harlot I'm told
And the blackness of a scarecrow you cannot hold
Well I'm red in the blood that I have drained
That I wasted in a rain

Well you deserve applause for splitting me in two
Well I count you on the list of a mortal few
Well I hope that you were happy
I could only wish you the best
But your beauty vacant setting in the west
And this may just say redundant because you've chosen your own fate
Was I more to you than just a pretty face

Well I'll give my love to a harlot I will
And the blackness of a scarecrow you cannot kill
Well I'm red in the blood that I have drained
That I wasted waiting for rain


Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io
I'm really liking this so far, and am extremely excited for their supporting tour this summer.

Have a listen to their gem of a single, "Bushwick Blues" while you're at it. It shows the more punchy, feedback laden, vast Delta Spirit that I know you have been craving. I just get killed by the line;

We were just two kids acting tough
Well then we grew up
For me not so much

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

yeah we got the feelin' now!


So it's been an idyllic spring rain sort of day. I decided to walk to my various engagements because of that hazy, humid sun, and was rewarded by getting caught in a couple rain showers. Not the kind of rain showers that make me run for cover, but the type when the sun still shines and every drop is big and warm and splashes merrily on my hands and feet.

Best music for that?

Why, another cover of an already great song remade funkier and more soulful by the ever exuberant Al Green.

When that intro starts up, and those sparkling horns start blasting, there is no better place for me to be than outdoors walking under dappled light, spinning and air-trumpeting and smiling like everything inside me is growing fresh. I'm sure I attracted some funny looks, but then again, I'd like to assume I inspired more smiles than anything else.

So the raindrops on my arms are dry now, but it's only a few more hours until I get to step back outside into the steadily brighter evening and be romanced once more by the the newness of the season.



I Wanna Hold Your Hand (The Beatles)- Al Green

(Yes, those are my feet up top.)

Now get outside and don't be afraid of a little rain! It feels about as wonderful as that song.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

please put down your hand/because i see you


So I went on a wee road trip today. Just a little escape.



And as the house quiets my legs are folded together, and my eyes are starting to wind down from all they took in today. When everyone else went to sleep, and the electric lights succumbed to the night one by one, it became clear I needed a sensory cleansing after a whole day of being immersed in people and places and life.

The aural backdrop for this all encompassing, bone deep release ended up being a cover song by Clem Snide. On their 2004 (now defunct) spinART Records EP, Beautiful, the Boston trio chose one of my favorite Velvet Underground songs to apply their disarmingly close and accessible sound to.

"I'll Be Your Mirror" has some of the most embarrassingly affecting lyrics for me. Now I claim to be a logical woman, but something in me just shivers and melts when I hear:

I find it hard to believe you don't know
The beauty that you are
But if you don't let me be your eyes
A hand in your darkness, so you won't be afraid


Lou Reed and Nico owned that song for me, with their charming storybook British accents and dreamy tambourine. But when Clem Snide's hushed, cello laced version started, I felt the words sink into my stretched surface and bring me back. It was a new song for me, and it met me where I am. It felt like an old friend with new things to tell me. So I sank into it, and it sank into me, and the navy blue night didn't seem a thing to be distanced. Instead it transformed into a waking dreamworld to let my imagination create beautiful things while being encouraged by the unabashed and unafraid message of this song.

I'll Be Your Mirror (Velvet Underground)- Clem Snide


Clem Snide released a new album in February, The Meat of Life, and it's an intimate, up front record that continues to catch me in its wry wit and gentle observance. Give it a shot.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

mayday, snowy mayday


That is correct. It snowed here.

So you know what? I give up. I'm laying here with my feet elevated on the couch armrest facing the outdoors with a mug full of tea, and too many candles lit for daytime (in lieu of an actual cozy fire), and I'm listening to things that are glowing warm until I have to bundle for work.

Laura Gibson has a quiet thoughtfulness to her music that draws me in and turns the world into a gently breathing behemoth of a friend carrying me kindly on its back. She creates subtle, lovely images that grow out of subtle, lovely melodies with a rare and comfortable ease that brings me back to her for all the times I need a little break. Especially before I dive into the constant swarm and storm of the day.

Come By Storm- Laura Gibson

The above song is off her album Beasts of Seasons...which is well worth many listens.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

music for my gray day


So when it's gray outside and a scarf is around my neck though it is mid-May...I have to adjust my ears to seek out the album or song that's going to help me settle into or rise above what the sky is smothering my world in this morning.

The avenue I'm choosing (partly because I need to psych myself up for work) is to find some sonic sunshine today. To turn up the golden major keys and maybe allow for some hand claps and hi-hats to perk me up. For that, I turn to Brooklyn based Fang Island, whose self-titled release under Sargent House is described by the band as sounding like "everyone high-fiving everyone." And it does take on the feeling of being surrounded by positive energy, all wildly effusive electric guitar licks and exuberant chant-singing. Even the sun would want to burn off the clouds covering my city to get in on the drum and dance circle this album seems to promise.

Daisy- Fang Island

Excuse me while I go dance with the clouds now.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

baby remember on the bus when my hand was on your knee


Fruit Bats' 2009 release, Ruminant Band made my Top Ten list...but I realized that I hadn't thoroughly explored this energizing band's previous work.

On Dainon's recommendation, I turned to Mouthfuls, their 2003 release, and was instantly smitten.

Sometimes words and feelings get tangled up in the knots in my stomach, and nothing I write provides any clarity. It's then that I truly appreciate those artists who can take all the mess and extract truth from it cleanly. For someone who loves words as much as I do, I believe that when used sparingly they can penetrate deeper than if weighed down by excess and explanation.

Fruit Bats do this with charming deftness on Mouthfuls. Lyrically it's abstract, the narratives not fleshed out or delved into, and the few words sung are done so repeatedly, as if letting the chorus steep in itself. It's an unhurried album. It says what it wants to say, and doesn't seem to need to explain itself. It's deliberate, but sunny and inviting and playful.

It's the perfect complement to an evening like this one, where the orange sky is letting my skin soak up some of the last of this golden day, and the cyclone of words in my head is slowing down and exiting with every exhale. I think I'll let this album stay awhile.

When U Love Somebody- Fruit Bats


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

and none of you gonna stand so tall


"A Very Blustery Day"/ Peter and Harrison Ellenshaw


It's a very windy day.

I woke up with the sunshine rolling up across the sky and through my eyelids, turning my black dreamworld into a glowing pink one. Upon waking up, I had decided I was going to go on a run. It was then I saw the branches fight to remain on their trunks against the stern and badgering wind. So instead I lay here, occasionally closing my eyes and letting the warm fuchsia remind me that a break from the windy chaos outside is necessary every now and then.

It's a breathing morning.

Pink Moon- Nick Drake

Thursday, April 29, 2010

think of them as an immense invitation


The Tango/Richard Zolan

So Gigbot and Fuel/Friends hosted a listening party for (my hero) Josh Ritter's new album So Runs the World Away, a few days ago. As we crowded around a dimly lit table at the Meadowlark, sharing pizza and jokes, the album that I had been listening to in my car just that day decided it wasn't done surprising me. And it played this song. I mean...more than played this song...it sucked the reality out of the room and threw me into the story Ritter was ornately illustrating.

It's a folk tale about a mummy who wakes up and falls in love with his curator. A woman who brings him from the depths of the red clay back to the world and causes his heart to resume beating. But their love is cursed, and the life she gave him, he takes from her until she fades into a shell.

What makes my eyes constantly well up when this song is played is the sense of loss from both sides. The mummy was cursed, and yet his love for her was so genuine he couldn't bring himself to believe that it couldn't win out over it all. And she had brought him back to life; how could something so miraculous be so destructive? How could their timeless, fathomless love be their undoing?

Musically, it's played as a waltz, which conjures up images of a spinning Ingenue in a white flowing dress being led by a smoothly stepping mummy, aged bandages like ribbons stirring up dust in a room lit by sunrise or sunset.



He opens his eyes
Falls in love at first sight
With the girl in the doorway
What beautiful lines
Heart full of life
After thousands of years, what a face to wake up to

He holds back a sigh
As she touches his arm
She dusts off the bed where til now he's been sleeping
Under mires of stone
The dry fig of his heart
Under scarab and bone
Starts back to its beating

She carries him home
In a beautiful boat
He watches the sea from a porthole in stowage
He can hear all she says
As she sits by his bed
And one day his lips answered her
In her own language
The days quickly pass
He loves making her laugh
The first time he moves it's her hair that he touches
She asks "Are you cursed?"
He says "I think that I'm cured."
Then he talks of the Nile and the girls in ?bull rushes?

In New York he is laid
In a glass covered case
He pretends he is dead
People crowd round to see him
But at night she comes round
And the two wander down the halls of the tomb
That she calls a museum
But he stops to rest
Then less and less
Then it's her that looks tired
Staying up asking questions
He learns how to read
From the papers that she is writing about him
Then he makes corrections
It's his face on her book
More come to look
Families from Iowa
Upper West-Siders
Then one day it's too much
He decides to get up
Then as chaos ensues he walks outside to find her
She is using a cane
And her face looks too pale
But she's happy to see him
As they walk he supports her
She asks "Are you cursed?"
But his answer is obscured
In a sandstorm of flashbulbs
Rowdy reporters

Such reanimation
The two tour the nation
He gets out of limos
Meets other women
He speaks of her fondly
Their nights in the museum
She's just one more rag now he's dragging behind him
She stops going out
She just lies there in bed
In hotels in whatever towns they are speaking
Then her face starts to set
And her hands start to fold
Then one day the dry fig of her heart stops its beating

Long ago on the ship
She asked why pyramids
He said "Think of them as an immense invitation."
She asks "Are you cursed?"
He says "I think that I'm cured."
Then he kissed her and hoped
That she'd forget that question

It's a tragic story, one that lays me down so completely because it is not in any way trite, contrived, or cheesy. Josh Ritter just wrote a song about an Egyptian mummy and awoke this deep sense of lovelorn grief in me. No part of this song, or this album, or this artist, ceases to amaze me. It's a record that so blatantly and breathlessly showcases the indelible mark Josh Ritter can put on music, and on people.


So the World Runs Away is out already in Ireland, but will be released here on May 4.


The Curse- Josh Ritter

Monday, April 26, 2010

i wanna do right/but not right now


I have always had a crater in my heart that was first knocked out by this song. Originally by the sublime Gillian Welch, it's a pained, fitfully honest, fearless song about being young and reckless and choosing what might not be the predetermined road so you can let your hair stream out a rag-top on an unknown one.

While driving back from a BBQ a couple mornings ago I rolled down the windows in the early morning air and let the breeze bite through my dangling fingers the way this song's confessions do to my heart. If you happen to see a woman with her head tilted back, belting out this song at a traffic light, just know some serious soul satisfying is going on. Maybe offer me a high five if you can reach. Or just offer your own harmony.

Oh me oh my oh, look at Miss Ohio
She’s a-running around with her rag-top down
She says I wanna do right but not right now

Gonna drive to Atlanta and live out this fantasy
Running around with the rag-top down
Yeah I wanna do right but not right now

Had your arm around her shoulder, a regimental soldier
An’ mamma starts pushing that wedding gown
Yeah you wanna do right but not right now

Oh me oh my oh, would ya look at Miss Ohio
She’s a-runnin’ around with the rag-top down
She says I wanna do right but not right now

I know all about it, so you don’t have to shout it
I’m gonna straighten it out somehow
Yeah I wanna do right but not right now

Oh me oh my oh, look at Miss Ohio
She a-runnin’ around with her rag-top down
She says I wanna do right , but not right now
Oh I wanna do right but not right now

I think it's also worth mentioning that the few bands who have chosen this Gillian Welch song to cover have done so with utmost sweetness and aplomb. If you have the chance, head over to Fuel/Friends to check out Blind Pilot's. Israel's voice so perfectly captures the ache of this song.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

high violet is streaming (so are my eyes)



The new the National album, High Violet, is waiting for you...


First read fabulous article written by the New York Times and then stream the whole record for yourself on the article's page. It's a day stopper. It's a shifting, glowing soundscape bound together by Berninger's soul bruising baritone.

High Violet is officially released to the public on May 11.

("Sorrow" and "Conversation 16" have wrecked me in the best possible way.)

By the way, does it charm you like it does me that Bryan Devendorf described the band thusly:


"Basically the band is like this; Matt’s the dad. Scott’s the long-suffering wife. I’m the black-sheep uncle. Aaron and Bryce are the twin daughters who like to control their parents."



Thursday, April 22, 2010

there is a love that sleeps inside/the canyons of our deepest dreaming lives


Blitzen Trapper has always been somewhat of a conundrum for me. On one album they'll shift from rollicking alt-country to something resembling 90's anthem rock to reverb-laden and drifting shoegaze homages.

I like it, a lot of it. But it never came together, never gathered its strength and held me tight with an immediate sense of self or purpose.

Prepare to have your mind changed, if you thought like me.

Destroyer of the Void, out on June 8 through Sub Pop, is a completely awake and alive album. It is a working being, a string of pearls (which is how Roman Candle would describe a true album), and disarmingly sincere while not losing Blitzen Trapper's inherent grasp of how to make me have fun.

In their single release, "Heaven and Earth" Eric Earley's voice is earnest and naked with major piano chords introducing the melody. Blitzen Trapper has been so often compared to other artists, because they've been so scattered in their sound. From Wilco to Queen to the Beatles, Blitzen Trapper's identity has been footnoted below influences.

It's easy to hear a Beatles influence in this single and leave it at that.

But there's something else. I actually hear Earley's voice in this. It's patiently building a sound that I haven't heard already. And the words he says are new and real and make me feel a bit trembly when he sings close into my ears, "Heaven and Earth are mine says I."

The rest of the album varies, just like you expect from a Blitzen Trapper record, but it creates a story out of the many narratives. It's accessible, and absolutely a tremendous step forward in songwriting. I can't wait to see these guys at Lollapalooza, can you?
Heaven and earth are mine says I (x3)

Over the western world shadows fall
Under the kind and dying trees we call
Together still the feel the breeze
To shatter all these waking dreams we've told
Ourselves to keep us free and clean

Heaven and earth are mine says I (x3)


There is a love that sleeps inside
The canyons of our deepest dreaming lives
A shelter that cannot be lost
A name that is so deep and so far across
I know you that you know me
Your life is like a bolt of lightning seen
Across the sky, so high and clean

Heaven and earth are mine says I (x3)
Heaven and earth are mine

Over the western world shadows fall
Under the kind and dying trees we call
Together still the feel the breeze
To shatter all these waking dreams we've told
Ourselves yeah ourselves
Ourselves yeah ourselves

Heaven and earth are mine says I (x3)

Heaven and Earth- Blitzen Trapper

Saturday, April 10, 2010

new electric president




I don't know if you remember when I completely loved on Ben Cooper's, of Electric President, solo work Radical Face. Well now I have the opportunity to extol the talents of Cooper and his other musical half, Alex Kane, and Electric President's third and newest release, The Violent Blue.The album was released in February under Fake Four Inc., a switch from their previous German label Morr Music.

What astounds me about this young duo is their grasp of composition. On the single, "Safe and Sound," the song opens with nothing but echoing drum beats, and the occasional hint of piano. It builds with steady pace, adding layers of bass lines, vocal harmonies, and reeling in and out a piano melody that brightly contrasts the heavy distortion rumbling underneath it all. It's controlled, but in the same way a flock of birds seems to be; it flies with a purpose and a freedom.

I like it.

Safe and Sound- Electric President

Exciting news for those who were smitten with Radical Face! As of March 10, Cooper has finished recording the follow up album to Ghost. I will be waiting most impatiently, as is my pattern with wonderful things that I want immediately.

By the way! I was lucky enough to interview The Morning Benders for my friends over at Gigbot. Chris Chu gave eloquent and insightful responses, and Todd Roeth's photography is as stunning as ever.

Check it out.

Friday, April 9, 2010

gigbot wants you to make new friends...


Free beer? Good music? No way! Is this some Utopian society I'm illustrating?

Not unless you see the Gigbot Garage as Utopia. Which, come Monday April 12 at 7:30 pm it will be in a manner of speaking.

If you're around Denver, make it a priority to kick off the week in style, with the rollicking, rambling, rowdy, boot-scootin' good time of a band, These United States. And all proceeds (the 10$ cover) go straight to their starving artist pockets. Now that's a good cause.

In my humble, public opinion these guys put on one of the best live shows you can see. I hope to see you there!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

i want woodpigeon to remember me


Woodpigeon's front man and primary song writer, Mark Hamilton, is a man with a lot of stories to tell. As a band that has experienced success on more subtle levels (though is opening for Broken Social Scene, Iron and Wine, and Grizzly Bear that subtle?) than many others, the creative gambit that Hamilton has been able to run has led to some profoundly beautiful music.

Take his explanation for the name, Woodpigeon.

"I've always been in love with the word Woodpigeon for as long as I can remember. When you write it in cursive, it looks like a rollercoaster"

The rollercoaster that is the Calgary based Woodpigeon has released a new album in 2010, Die Stadt Muzikanten, and it has enchanted me. Written mainly while Hamilton spent time in Berlin, it's dedicated and written to his German immigrant grandparents who inspired him to turn his life over to music in the first place. And it's rife with quiet dignity. From the crackling fuzz of a turntable, to the careful and empyrean guitar composition, Woodpigeon's 3rd studio release spins with dusty, gossamer, unashamed emotions.



Empty Hall Sing-a-Long- Woodpigeon

Oh...and Woodpigeon was saddened by the passing of Alex Chilton as well.

Thirteen (Big Star)- Woodpigeon

Monday, March 29, 2010

spring awakening



Spring is here.

To celebrate the melting of what I will dub the LAST BIG SNOW STORM of the winter (please just come along with me on this one, Rocky Mountain Weather Systems), I took my dog on a trail run by a lovely creek.

Oh! When I say by a lovely creek...I mean in a lovely creek! The melting Colorado snow pooled on the well loved trail, creating big puddles and trickling brooks on what I was going to use as a dry foot path. While I was picking my way around the mess and missing all the emerging beauty of spring in the landscape around me, my dog lurched me back into reality by stomping firmly in a puddle in front of me and Pollock-ing my legs with sun soaked mud.

So you know what I did? I turned toward the shallow river of a trail, bent my knees, and jumped.

My dog and I puddle stomped up and down that trail, and by the time we returned to the car we were both coated in a festive layer of red clay and my shoes were squeaking and raining out the ventilated sides.

Sometimes it is perfect way to celebrate a messy, melting world by immersing yourself in it. Or at least splattering yourself a little.

Not to mention puddle stomping is mighty fun.


The Morning Benders released a delightful, shiny album, Big Echo, produced by Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor (remember I like them) this month that has been making me feel all sunny and tingly like tilting my head up to the bright afternoon sky. I can't wait until their April 7th show. Depending on the weather that day I might be the dancing, swaying girl with mud coated shins and a big, goofy smile on her face.

Excuses- The Morning Benders

Thursday, March 25, 2010

warpaint


When I was talking with some folks who had experienced SXSW this past weekend, many band names were thrown my way. But when a friend mentioned he saw a band consisting of all women who absolutely and unapologetically destroyed...I put them at priority level one.

Warpaint has been carving out a place for themselves since last year when they released their debut EP, Exquisite Corpse (the origin of the title can be found here) under Manimal Vinyl. After a phenomenal showing at 2009's CMJ, Rough Trade Records picked them up just in time to get cracking on a 2010 debut LP. Now that I've listened to Exquisite Corpse I can say that I am thoroughly ready for these ladies to release more.

Equal parts psychadelic, gritty, and ethereal, Warpaint blends punchy beats with ragged textures and wildly intuitive melodies to make music that sounds like it's on the brink. Emily Kokal's and Theresa Wayman's vocals are as warm and tantalizingly raw as a desert breeze, seeming to scrape just under the swelling surface of liberated bass and drum lines.


It's a bracingly fantastic EP. It's full of fearless creative exploration, misty beauty, and melting, fluid homages to the sounds of girl groups of 60 years ago. Grrrrl power, right?


Exactly.



Billie Holiday- Warpaint

Sunday, March 21, 2010

i choose all the wrong times to hike

A delightful and lively performance by Elizabeth and the Catapult at one of my local trailheads, Mt. Sanitas.

Why don't more great Brooklyn bands serenade me with accordians and skip-inducing indie pop while I climb up to ridge trails?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

island heart you've left/ i do not know why


You could blame my deep love of fuzzed out Jan and Dean vibing beach rock for my instant addiction to Holiday Shores' debut album Columbus'd the Whim.

It might also be argued that it's just good.
To explain how exactly it is good, come along with me for an adventure...

So you know when you're bopping along a sunny sidewalk on a perfect summer day, and the ground is dancing with wildflowers, and a Bermuda shorts wearing neighbor waves and offers you beer, and the whole day goes by without even a hint of a sunburn....but then you notice something is a little odd? Like maybe the neighbor with the Bermuda shorts is watering a purple lawn. Or the wildflowers are plaid, and the honeybees all look like they're from a Tim Burton film with larger than life heads and wings made out of tie dye lace.

That's how this album sounds.

It's all sunny, poppy, noise rock...but then something is just off. In a way that I definitely get behind. It could be the dissonant harmonies bubbling below Nathan Pemberton's charming Stephen Malkmus-esque voice. Or the wandering, plucky guitar melodies that syncopate so curiously. Whatever it is, Pemberton and his band have found a place in the growing wave of lo-fi surfer rock that is sure to make this a sonically pleasing summer.


Holiday Shores is of course participating in the magical mayhem of SXSW this weekend, but they'll be continuing on the road after Austin, warming up the colder parts of the country while the last of the snow melts.



Phones Don't Feud- Holiday Shores


Thursday, March 18, 2010

a new believer in the old believers


I was lucky enough to see the graceful Laura Veirs play to a crowd in her hometown a couple weeks ago, (for my review, click yonder for my Reverb write up), and was of course swept away by her performance. But in the small venue in Manitou Springs, I was captured by another performance.

Opening for Laura Veirs were two groups, and their scattered members performing solo, Cataldo and Old Believers. I was settled into my chair, squirming about in anticipation for Veirs' set, when Nelson Kempf of Old Believers stepped on stage. He was so unassuming that for a moment I didn't notice his presence...until he started stomping and singing with his hands behind his back an acapella piece filled with so much soul that I forgot a human voice could hold that much melody.

My friend who accompanied me that evening looked over at me, and I looked over at her, and we both knew that this was something special.

Old Believers, when paired with instruments and other members, lay down groovy beats with infectious soul. Lyrics as profound as any American folk hero, and songs that are so much fun that Kempf pulled the whole audience into singing along for my favorite song of the evening (and perhaps my favorite new song), It's With You Now.

The recorded version of the song is incredibly different from the live version, which was beautiful in large part because of Kempf's earnest and stripped vocals, so for a listen at what Kempf's raw voice sounds like, please indulge in this video, where his guitar belies that inherent rhythmic genius this man has. He can create a beat out of nowhere, and I love it.






Old Believers have an album out, Eight Golden Greats, that was released in 2008 under the Brave Records label and it's been helping me sway through my days in such a light and lovely way.


That's All- Old Believers

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

and even if the morning never comes/ my hands are blessed to have touched the sun


Sorry for the absence! I was on a much needed road trip to the warmer climes this nation has to offer, and left technology by the wayside as I remembered how to breathe.


On to the music.


Three part harmony oozing with cheeky lyrics over some popping guitar and cymbals seems to pull me in when done with great reserves of talent. But in the past few years the indie pop movement has become inundated with some unfortunately forgettable bands attempting to replicate the sounds of Grizzly Bear, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, Beach House, and other groups of that ilk. It should be noted that it requires some real skill and musical chops to push through the hyped up harmonic and jangly chaos and make great, original music. I'm often skeptical when I first hear that big explosion of shiny reverb laden vocals from a new group.


But guess what? Add another band to the aforementioned list of innovative stand outs to pull me into their orbit, because Local Natives has waded successfully through the possible mess of cliche hooks and faux-intellectual versing and chorusing.


This Southern California band caught my ear recently while I was lamenting my lack of presence at the fabulous riot of musical talent that is SXSW. (Their performance at last year's SXSW led to being signed to Frenchkiss [The Dodos, Freelance Whales, The Antlers, Passion Pit] and a bevy of glowing praise). Their debut release, Gorilla Manor, accompanied me on a sunny hike up Mt. Sanitas this morning, and it was a perfect fit. Their music evokes winding roads through dappled light on the Big Sur coastline and crashing turquoise waves.


Just the right level of oohing to float over pulsing kick drums, with frolicking melodies ringing in tandem with unhurried lyrics; Local Natives have released a gem of an album. I heartily recommend you check out the whole thing, and catching them live (as I plan to do on their extensive tour).





Also I am in full support of their cover decisions. As shown below.

Warning Sign (Talking Heads)- Local Natives

Sun Hands- Local Natives