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

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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" 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.