23 June 2006

Be Still My Heart

Evil as they are, I may have to forgive MTV: they're reporting that Postal Service is working on a new CD. Thank yooooou! I was always a little pissed that it was DCFC that took off and not Postal Service.

In celebration, here's Postal Service's "Be Still My Heart" off the We Will Become Silhouettes EP.

Get it from YSI

I'm off to various places for a week, so this is a fitting last-entry-before.

22 June 2006

More Stephin Merritt Is Always A Good Thing

Except for that last CD--the showtunes? I can't be having with that. So I'm glad he's got a song, in his Future Bible Heroes incarnation, on the Neil Gaiman tribute CD coming up. It sounds like deranged circus music--including, apparently, a midget chorus line and cackling that just has to come from diving witches on unbalanced broomsticks. It wouldn't have been out of place in the recent Mirrormask movie, so I s'pose it's got to be an appropriate tribute.

It kinda reminds me of that time I'd forgotten I had winamp open, and my computer started spewing the insane-kiddie-playground-noises from a Mogwai song. My worldview trembled on unsafe ground for just a moment there.

Get it from YSI

Thanks to Bradley's Almanac (who always has all the best stuff) for the pointer.

Earworm: Alexi Murdoch - Breathe

I think I got Alexi's "Orange Sky" on a radio sampler, but it's been so long I couldn't say for sure; and now that a new CD, Time Without Consequence is out, I intend to get it as soon as my eMusic cycle refreshes. Girl cannot live on mellow goodness alone, but it's not a bad start.

Get it from YSI

21 June 2006

News: Misra sampler @ eMusic (Evangelicals)

After KEXP plugged Evangelicals I decided to look 'em up in all my usual sources, and found that their label, Misra, has put a free sampler on eMusic. Last people I ran across who did that--although I think it's now a normal subscriber album--were Undertow Orchestra (Vic Chesnutt, David Bazan, Mark Eitzel and Will Johnson), right after I'd been to a cracking concert of theirs. I love it when good music people put free tracks on eMusic.

Martha Wainwright & Gomez @ Paradise Rock Club

There is a difference, I'm learning, between a good musician and one that puts on a good show. Martha Wainwright seems to be the former but not the latter--her vocal style is mature and nuanced, but her stage presence is oddly unfocused. This is devastating but not uncommon in openers, I guess, since they're not the goal of most of the audience, and since their level of experience is generally a bit lower. Martha did a sharp, full-bodied performance on a song called "Ball and Chain" that was a great demo of her capabilities (although, um, it's kind of a dumb song)--and I'm still pleased with her for the collaboration she did with Snow Patrol, which seems to be better than the usual caliber of either party.

Get it from YouSendIt

Something that I'm thinking about doing more consistently is talking about the influences of the artists I talk about, to try and remedy a bit of the historical disconnect in the musical blogosphere. Martha's particularly easy, since her family history's pretty visible in her music: she grew up with her mom, Kate McGarrigle of The McGarrigle Sisters, and her vocals definitely show their tone, although like most heritage musicians, she's updated, sharpened and darkened, ended up with more of a post-folk sound than her predecessors. Below is "Year of the Dragon," from The McGarrigle Hour.

Get it from YouSendIt

For Gomez, I went in absolutely cold--never heard of 'em, never heard 'em, and damn, these guys are good. Their look is a mix of hipster-skinny (that's Ian, I think) and philosophy-grad, Meloy-glasses-wearing slubby (that'd be Ben and Tom, if I've got the names mapped right); their vocals are nicely mixed, too, with Ian's reedy tenor and Ben's hoarser tone. Both good musicians and good performers; their music was instantly attractive, and the audience responded well, rocking out pretty strongly for a place where the crowd is pretty orthodox indie, and all this despite persistent gremlins taking out various mikes during the show. Despite the occasional missing channel, the sound was good--all the individual lines were distinct and they came together well. Not only are these guys good, they put on a good show (Eels, take note!).

Funny--I ended up having more to say about Martha than about Gomez, even though Gomez definitely did the better show. Gomez is just awesome, but their influences are a little opaque to me I guess.

19 June 2006

Track: Casey Dienel - Cut Your Hair

Casey Dienel doing Pavement, brilliant! (Thanks to DayTrotter.) I'm so pissed she moved away from Boston right before I started listening to her. Come back to Boston, Casey!

Listen to it:

Get it from YouSendIt

Give Casey Dienel money!


Tourb.us seems like a pretty cool website for keeping track of who's coming to town when; and once you get your bands set up it can run pretty much automatically. They're missing some odd bands, though--no Stars? no White Whale? Does make me wonder where they're getting their listings from.

Always seems curious to me that I can't tell which social-bookmarking, or habit/taste aggregation, site will actually take hold with me. Del.icio.us? No. Last.fm? Yes. Dunno if this one'll make the cut yet, but it'll be interesting to see if it really turns out to be useful.

Cogitation: Music Blogging

So having read this a while ago, and thinking about what Connor had to say about how fast the music blog cycle is from up-and-coming to universally gushed-over to gone; that made me start thinking--what's the point of a music blog? Why do we do this?

Most of the well-known music blogs are primarily about what's new and cool--either new bands, or the favorites plus the new at festivals, or show dates.

Resources are a question, of course--a lot of the big music bloggers (I say that advisedly, knowing it's a small pond) have professional connections in the music business, or have been around long enough and have high enough readerships that they've got an inside track on what's new and good: bands send them samples, they go to a whole lotta shows, that kind of thing. They're best suited to advising the rest of us on new cool music, because they've got the resources to comb through lots of it.

The downside of these blogs is that that's usually all they do. When's the last time Stereogum reaaaaaaally went batty over a band that's been around a while? What about You Ain't No Picasso getting all riled up about something that wasn't a festival or a new, obscure band? Rediscovering somebody that doesn't actually record any more? Talking about an old classic or their influence on the new stuff? The blogs that are best at covering what's new and good are most myopically focused on it; so if you get all your music pointers from them, you spend your music-listening time running from one next-hottest-thing to the next.

Not to bash new music--I love finding new music that really lights my fire. But the reason I love it is basically that they give me more salty good musicness--and obscure bands with smallish followings are more likely to give shows in the small venues I like to frequent. Obviously I don't have the resources or the motivation to be a new-music-finder blog; so what'm I doing, then?

It's a simple and boring answer, really. For myself, I like keeping notes of what I think of music; it helps me conceptualize and remember my impressions more strongly. If anybody else finds it and has something to say about it, that's a cool thing, too; dialogue can do the same thing as writing. That's part.

I appreciate the odd song from interesting artists that mp3 blogs (as neophile as they may be) provide, and some songs are just hard to find (viz. to wit., Ben Taylor's cover of Mos Def's Favorite Nitemare), so those I try to spread the love a little. That's part, too.

I'd love to find some music blogs that had a somewhat more historical outlook: somebody who wrote about White Whale and Johnny Lee Hooker. They've gotta be out there somewhere, don't they? I'm trying to write the music conversation I'd want to find. That's probably the biggest part.

15 June 2006

Smoosh/Eels @ Somerville Theater

Smoosh was pretty good--the young voices are obvious, and the set was kinda uneven, but I guess they're allowed not to have enough material for a solid set at this point. (Regardless, though, somebody should really tell them not to sing that "uh-huh yo" song. Although I guess they have to have one song that they can be utterly mortified about in a few years.) They seem very comfortable onstage, and Chloe already has the inward-focused look that drummers get.

Eels opened with some raucous guitaring and strobe lights, while one of their number (whom I shall call Jeff because he looks like a Jeff to me--big bald bruiser with muttonchops, a black SECURITY t-shirt, and Oakley-type sunglasses) stood onstage with his arms folded and looked impossibly security-esque. The band's uniform appeared to be black, sunglasses, and experimental or extreme facial hair--the drummer in particular was rocking the Confederate General look in a brass-button jacket and Civil War-style hat, plus aviator sunglasses and lots of hair (was it Puddin? hard to tell under all that). E as always was unique in a ski cap, aviator goggles on his head, and singularly goggley sunglasses on his eyes. Muttonchops Jeff made the show interesting by doing weight-lifting routines and boxing practice to the songs--besides making obscure pronouncements very loudly between songs ("I know the deal when I see the deal, and this is the deal!") and hopping up and down with Chloe and Asya during the encore performance of "I Like Birds." He was bewildering, disconnected, and funny.

It was a fun show to be at, but musically weak, I think. "My Beloved Monster" was played so damn fast it was nearly unrecognizable--still enjoyable, but unrecognizable; while "Last Stop, This Town" was done so gently as to take most of the bounce and joy out of it. I suspect, at this show at least, that Eels was trying so hard to rock out that the music didn't get played to its best advantage--the first few songs particularly were just a wall of sound, loud and monolithic.

But I'm not sorry I saw them--it was a good time, even if I don't think they did right by most of their songs.

News: Sub Pop signs Dntel

Yay! Slight twinge of regret that it wasn't The Postal Service instead of Death Cab that took off and got crazy, but still, I like Dntel, and according to Aversion's notice Tamborello'll be collaborating with Bright Eyes, Lali Puna, Mia Doi Todd, Grizzly Bear, Fog, and Jenny Lewis.

08 June 2006

Rats: Imogen Heap - Hallelujah

Rats. I was all excited about this track, but to me it just sounds like Imogen thought she needed to do "Hide and Seek" again, but with a different song; it's not as good as Wainwright's and certainly not as good as Buckley's. Dammit.

Cogitation: Rogue Wave

So, Rogue Wave. Granted I haven't heard a whole lot of 'em, but they seem like a poor man's Kings of Convenience, without the shockingly beautiful harmonizing. What makes 'em unique? Why do we need a poor man's Kings of Convenience when the royalty's in everybody's reach? Still, I like this song--"California" off of Descended like Vultures (buy it here).

Thanks to So Much Silence for the mp3.

01 June 2006

Hah! Andrew Norsworthy & Jared Wood - Trinity Highway

So, I heard these guys play a brilliant show at Club Passim and lamented that "Trinity Highway" and "Ohio" weren't on the CDs; s'morning I get an email from Drew saying "Trinity Highway" is up on a myspace page for an EP they're doing. So hah! I'm pleased.