31 May 2006

Halou is Cool

They remind me of somebody, though--can't quite put my finger on it. Mogwai for the some of the instrumentation, like on "Everything Is OK", but the voice sounds familiar, too, and I can't place it. This's Honeythief, off of their CD "Wholeness & Separation".

Ohhh. Portishead for the voice, I think.

30 May 2006

Hah! Ben Taylor - Favorite Nitemare

Finally found a bootleg of Ben Taylor covering Mos Def's "Favorite Nitemare." I don't think it's as good as it was the night I heard it live, but still I gots it, which is something. The blabbering of the crowd is oddly perfect--it almost sounds like a sample in a deliberately-done studio remix thing, it complements the music so well.

Earworm: Neko Case - Dirty Knife

Damn, she's good. One of the things I like about Neko's stuff is that she's got a good handle on the darkness and mysticism of Southern lore; in that she sorta reminds me of Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, and Mark Twain (when he wasn't being silly)--she even uses the apocalyptic imagery that had such a chokehold on Southern religion in "John Saw That Number." She's the real thing all right.

26 May 2006

In Honor of Kozelek's Show at the MFA

Here are what may possible be the most incongruous original/cover pair ever.

First, Modest Mouse's original track "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes." It's a typical Modest Mouse deal--brash, bombastic, angular, often mispronounced. ("Ponch"?)

And then, Kozelek's cover. Typical Kozelek: dreamy, wandering, wistful to the point of blurriness.

If the MM version is the first you've heard, hearing Kozelek do his gentle number on "Gonna hit you in the face / Gonna punch you in your glasses" can cause something of a mental shock; I give it a 5.5 on the Richter scale.

Earworm: James Taylor - Something in the Way She Moves

What is it with his voice? I can think of very few male voices with such lovely tone quality.

19 May 2006

Earworm: Snow Patrol w/Martha Wainwright - Set Fire to the Third Bar

Apparently I need to check out Snow Patrol's new "Eyes Open"? Because this track is far and above their earlier (admittedly lovely) wimp-rock stuff--mostly because of the edge Martha Wainwright brings to the song, but it still brings up the question of if they're changing their approach a bit. Really superlative song. (Usual rules: song'll be up for two weeks, if anybody objects email me.)

18 May 2006

Christian Scott @ Scullers

Wish I knew enough about jazz to do a proper review, but barring that I enjoyed the show--the band seemed tight--the tenor sax'ist (whose name I have forgotten) and Christian did some nice, unexpected harmonic play, and guitarist Matt Stevens (I think) got some occasional interesting fun, too. The drummer Marcus Gilmore worked well with the band too, particularly given that it was his first gig with them.

Must learn more about jazz.

16 May 2006

Mark Kozelek tickets (26 May)

I've got a pair of tickets to the Mark Kozelek show at the MFA I can't use; anybody want 'em? First-noticed note or email takes both.

15 May 2006

Mogwai @ Avalon

Was opened for by Torche, who're a bizarrely sucky hardcore metal band more interested in being headbanging badasses than making, y'know, good music. Their drummer reminded me of nothing so much as Animal, and watching bald guys headbang is an experience. Too bad Mogwai didn't bring their own opener--Torche was a total waste of time and molecule vibrations.

The fun thing about a Mogwai show is that you don't have to be on drugs to be on drugs--the music brings its own. Trippy and wandering, slow-moving and abstract, it's like a sensory deprivation tank all by itself, even on the CDs, and in concert it's that much more overwhelming, so that much more trip-inducing. Good show. Glad I saw 'em, even if they didn't play any of my favorites.

a'tris show @ Knitting Factory

Good show--the band must've been happy that the two preceding bands were either uninteresting or more experimental than its members could handle. Mason's vocals were pretty tight except for a new song that everybody seemed kinda sloppy on, and Dave is a hell of a drummer. They play together well, and the relative puny-ness of the preceding bands really showed up their superior level of musicianship; the only weak spot to my ear and eye are Mason's over-the-top theatrical frontman act--I swear he must choreograph his little microphone dances. Nonetheless, they're a damn good band.

12 May 2006

a'tris @ Knitting Factory

Friend of mine (husband of a lab-mate, actually) is the producer-cum-manager of a Boston-based band called a'Tris; Saturday they've got a show at Knitting Factory in New York, so we're going down to keep Mike company. The last a'tris show I went to (at Harper's Ferry, may they burn in hell) was a badly-managed disaster on the part of the club, so seeing a real non-arsed-up show should be fun. It's particularly fun because James the Frontman has his rock-star act all down (including eye makeup and an ascot), and that contrasts nicely with the stories I've heard about lack of basic life skills such as, say, grocery shopping. They're a good band, though, so below find "Black Bird's Song," my favorite off of their CD "appeal."

11 May 2006

New Buffalo & The Concretes @ Paradise, 10 May

New Buffalo is one of those bands I don't remember finding; I know they're (or she's, apparently) a small-scale Australian thing, but I have no idea how I first found her and I don't think I've ever heard of her in the music press or blogosphere. So I was feeling damn skippy when I found that she was opening for The Concretes at the Paradise yesterday. I felt a bit bad for her--it was the most dead I've ever seen that club, but I guess you don't really expect crowds on a Wednesday night when most of the students are gone. It was an interesting show, though; it seemed pretty clear that most of her work had happened in a recording studio, as she used an iPod for her backing band and seemed oddly unaccustomed to being onstage. Not embarrassed or uncomfortable, just . . . stiff. She could use a band, maybe it'd help her relax and give her some company up there. Her voice is still a treat--virginal without ever being twee--and she's masterful in the real soprano ranges, where most singers would either sharp out or become inaudible. Her EP's got Jens Lekman and Broken Social Scene featuring, which suggests she either has connections or is getting some recognition. Good. Below find the track "Inside" featuring Jens Lekman (as usual, for a limited time and subject to objections).

The Concretes sounded good as a band, but either their sound mix was severely off or their lead needs to work on volume and projecting--I couldn't hear her at all, and for the few minutes I could hear her, she seemed pretty badly flat. A backing band needs a vocalist for a reason: the songs just lacked shape and grab. The band all dresses impeccably Swedish-mod, with the guys' skinny button-down shirts buttoned alllllll the way up, and the frontgirls in boycuts and high-collared artists blouses--do they have a dress code? Twitting aside, though, they seem like they could be cool--I'll have to see if I can find some recorded stuff of theirs. I'm glad I was going for the opener; if I'd gone to see them I'd've been severely disappointed.

08 May 2006

Jennifer Kimball @ Club Passim

In an last-minute, broke-down-on-I-90 subsitution, Josh Caress opened instead of Ellery, and he didn't disappoint: a very mellow voice with a good grasp of songwriting and a knack for lyrical turns that stick in your head.

Jennifer Kimball's voice is remarkably lovely. "Is He Or Isn't He," at its heart a fun, gimmicky song, becomes the auditory equivalent of. . . a really good raspberry coulis, maybe, under the influence of her sharp grasp of dynamics and just impossibly pleasing vocal tone. She's done her time in various groups, doing a duo called The Story with Jonatha Brooke and Duke Levine and a bluegrass collaborative called Wandering Spirits, and it shows--she's one of the few performers I've seen extemporize lyrics, and it was fluid and charming. Sometimes she sounds a bit like Mary Chapin Carpenter, who works from a similar musical jazz-folky-country place (which makes sense since I think Duke Levine worked with Chapin as well), but the voice makes her distinctive. She made for a lovely show and a great CD, and I hope she plays live more.

06 May 2006

Rant: Guster

Right, this isn't new in the least, but I gotta write about it because it's pissing me off. Guster! What's up with them? I heard their new single "One Man Wrecking Machine" on the radio last night and didn't even recognize them. Guster has, or had, three main distinctive elements. First, the bongos (easy); second, the three-part harmony (how many bands do that?); and third, the majority of songs depicting or narrated by horrible ass-people ("Center of Attention"? "Happier"?). In their new stuff, no bongos and no three-part harmony, but they still got the brassy, assy narrator thing. Who told them that was the best part? Now they sound like every other disposable radio-friendly band, damn them. They must've known what was cool at some point--in memoriam, and to prove my point, "Either Way." RIP Guster!

01 May 2006

Dresden Dolls doing Such Great Heights

One of the things I lurrrrve seeing The Dresden Dolls live is doing great, unexpected covers. Amanda & Brian did a cover of The Postal Service's Such Great Heights at the Orpheum show--although actually I think they were covering Iron & Wine's version, since it sounded way more like the I&W version. But it's lovely, so I'm posting a recording somebody made of the same cover in Chicago (usual rules apply: it'll be up briefly, and if anybody has objections to it being up, just email me at the address to the right and ask).

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