Friday, November 30, 2007

Fury, thy name is Chuck...I guess.

Want to see how quickly you can make dozens of music folks in one area angry? My alma mater's Chuck Griffin is an expert.

Check it out.
(Yeah, I commented. Couldn't help it.)

Oh, and I particularly enjoy the scathing retort from a Flagpole writer [Edit: He's not a writer. He's their MUSIC EDITOR. Pretty big difference]. Must be weird to anger people from such an admirable least I'd be weirded out.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

We Are Half Awake

Here is my most recent compilation. It's been modified pretty heavily due to Project Playlist not having all the songs I want. Absent are some tracks from The Selmanaires, one from Mates of State, one from Tegan and Sara. Also, they didn't have either of hte Avett Brothers songs I wanted to use, but the ones up there are pretty awesome, so it's ok. Enjoy!

I plan on posting more of my compilations soon, in reverse-chronological order. Don't forget to comment on the "best of" list!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Try not to smile.

Ready for some lists? I know I am...

So! I have an affinity for playlists and compilations. Some will argue that albums should always be listened to in their entirety, as they are one complete idea. I heartily agree. But one of my favorite hobbies is taking my favorite tiny bits of those complete ideas, removing them forcibly from their little habitats and using messy adhesives to slap them in the midst of some other arguably complete idea. I don't personally create mixes with themes like the admirable folks over at Tiny Mix Tapes. While these often make me laugh, I like to simply string songs I've been recently obsessed with together in a logical or aesthetically pleasing order.

Like so many others, I also like to make countdowns and top 10 lists. I'm ignoring your collective sigh. I know there are thousands of other lists (pop over to Largehearted Boy and see a master list of lists), but none are so relevant to me as my own.

Anyway. I present the first installment in the collection of lists I will put forth: FOA's Best of 2007. (Predictable, I know.)
This one's just a simple top ten (with addendum...), but in the very near future I'll be posting Project Playlist compilations of my mixes from the past year, something on which I do spend a lot of time and thought...probably to the detriment of other more productive things I could be doing...

FOA's Best Albums of 2007

(Disclaimer: By "best" I mean that it influenced my musical universe, not necessarily that I think it's objectively the cleanest or most masterful...but really, most of these are the cleanest or most masterful..)

1. Band of Horses - Cease To Begin
2. The Avett Brothers - Emotionalism
3. Radiohead - In Rainbows
4. Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
5. The National - Boxer
6. Beirut - The Flying Club Cup
7. Radical Face - Ghost
8. Fishboy - Albatross: How We Failed To Save The Lonestar State With The Power of Rock and Roll
9. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
10. The Shins - Wincing The Night Away

Honorable Mention:

Tegan and Sara - The Con (very very good)

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Some Loud Thunder (because even though it's not their best album, it introduced me to the band, whose 2005 self-titled debut is one of the best things to happen to indie rock EVER)

Maria Taylor - Lynn Teeter Flower (ethereal and hypnotic)

VHS or Beta - Bring On The Comets (It was my first CD review. I'm partial.)

The New Whole Usuals - Martin Moeh (weird enough to be noteworthy. Period.)

Biirdie - Catharine Avenue

I'll probably edit this list later. Please comment and agree or argue with me. I want to hear what I've left out. The order is up for discussion to some degree as well. I feel like I've left something out...

Stay tuned for compilations.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Ah, there it is.


Courtesy of Under the Radar, definitely one of my favorite music mags. Tasteful, intelligent, etc....not snarky (I hate the word snarky, but by god, sometimes it applies...)

The article that goes with that picture's worth reading, too, if one has the time.

Got the tickets for NYE with Band of Horses. Yay!

This week, I saw Of Montreal play for the second time in 20 days. It was at the Variety here in Atlanta and it was completely worth it. Their show is...trippy, and much better on the larger stage where all their props and light panels could be utilized. I especially enjoyed when Kevin Barnes returned after his costume change halfway through. Two words: thigh highs. That is all. And both times they played "So Begins Our Alabee," one of my favorite songs of all time. I know it's difficult to make statements like that (because I have a ton of "favorite songs of all time"), but this time it's absolutely true.

This week, getting started on Stomp and Stammers venue ads for December, writing an article on The Selmanaires (hooray!), and hopefully attending Band Together (Morning State, The Pendletons, etc.) at The Earl and S&S's 11th birthday party, "Atlanta's Burning" at the Variety w/ Black Lips, Snowden, Deerhunter, and The Selmanaires.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Yo Fishboy!

I've already mentioned the glory that is Fishboy, but I feel the need to reiterate. Their album (a rock opera entitled Albatross: How We Failed To Save The Lone Star State With The Power Of Rock And Roll) has now been released, and it is sooo cool. If you wanna listen, click on the word "album" above and hear each song streaming for free. If you wanna buy, you can check out the kickass record label of a fellow named Mike out of Athens, Ga. Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records will sell ya a copy and tell you the band's whole history, as well as the histories of several other very noteworthy folks. Yay! I seem to have also managed to get a promise out of Fishbulb himself that the guys will make a trip over to the G.A. in a few months. So. Excited. I love rock operas. And sweatbands.
Oh, and all those illustrations and posters and comics were done by the Fishboy himself. Neat? Yes!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Awake with Avetts


It’s 11:06 p.m. I set up for a long, wakeful night. My eyes, glazed with an Americano five hours past and open to almost maximum, dart backward and forward in small motions. I am reading about The Avett Brothers. My heart pounds, maybe from the caffeine, maybe not, as I devour Steve LaBate’s 2006 article for Paste in which he gets to follow them on their trip to perform in Maryland, then in my own college town of Athens, Ga. As I read, their songs play silently in my head, all from their most recent release, Emotionalism. It came out months ago, but I only bought it on Friday, a latecomer to their gloriousness, as I seem always to be to those bands that really matter. “Will you come again? It’s hard to say…I surely hope so,” I hum quietly, the intricate but straightforward melody meandering across my thoughts.

I saw The Avetts live at the Echo Project outside of Atlanta in October. I’d heard maybe a song or two before then, largely ignoring my former roommate’s repeated pleas that I give them a try. To my one-year-younger self, they fell squarely in the realm of bluegrass and country, musical hinterlands into which I simply would not venture, determinedly indie/rock/pop as I was at the time. Since then, I have expanded, it seems, and one glance at this foursome on stage was all it took to convert me completely.

See, I was wrong in multiple ways. First, I should never have so limited myself as far as genre is concerned. One of my good friends spends countless hours calling genres “cheap,” and while I argue that classifications have value (though perhaps very little), he’s dead right on this one. It doesn’t matter by what roads music is made, as long as it’s good. The Avetts aren’t the only ones who’ve chipped away at the boundaries of my taste (using ice picks or something else even pointier and more forbidding to do the chiseling) in the last few months since I began working at my first music magazine. Where even Americana-influenced tunes once turned my stomach, my dislike for country was so vehement, a little group called Band of Horses now makes that very same stomach lurch with pleasure and disproportionate excitement. They still play rock, of course, but it comes with a heavy dose of South Carolina. You hear concert arenas and porch swings somehow at the same time with them, and even the track or two per album that’s almost unadulterated country twang (“Marry Song” off Cease to Begin, for example) makes me smile and sing along. I would have vomited a year ago.

Second, and perhaps more materially, The Avett Brothers (as Dolphus Ramseur specifically told my editor in an interview) are not a bluegrass band. I don’t mean to say they don’t sound bluegrass-y. Of course they do. The primary instruments they utilize are acoustic guitar, banjo, and stand-up bass. Thing is, calling them a bluegrass band would effectively turn the many-tentacled squid that is their music into an earthworm. Or….take the proud soldier that is their music and shoot off all his limbs, rendering him a quadriplegic....I don’t know, both metaphors limp a little too much (and probably deal too directly with dismemberment). I think I like the first one a little better. Anyway. My point is this: classifying The Avetts crams them into a tiny box, artistically. They are several, many, lots, of genres! If they get put into a box, it’s got to be one of those giant packing crates they use at shipyards! Banjo! Electric guitar! Piano! Rock! Country! Bluegrass! Raw, bald, naked, emotional balladry! Screaming! And they’re some of the best songsmiths I’ve ever heard. (Oh god, just listen to “Paranoia in Bb Major”!) I knew they were something special when I saw them live, even though I didn’t know anything of them ahead of time. Their performance energy is superior to anything I’ve ever encountered, and I saw some live shows that very weekend alone that gave them a run for their money. I saw Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, my favorite band at the time, play just after them, and I think I may have gotten more from The Avetts. Even up against powerhouse performers Man Man (my runners-up, for the record), whose theatrical, gorgeous and just plain psychotic spectacle was a lifetime blue ribbon experience, I think The Avetts are the victors.

They, as LaBate says attack their instruments on stage. For music that’s clean and can be captured somewhat sedately in record form, it certainly is a raucous and reckless beast live. Not unlike some poor, bitten fellow changing into a werewolf when the full moon comes out, “Shame” transformed from down-tempo, layered masterpiece to quick, catastrophic stomper before my eyes that Saturday in October. It didn’t even feel like the same species anymore.

The song didn’t lose any of its beauty in the process either. Seth or Scott (I don’t know who sings first on this one, I’m so sorry, I’m a terrible fan) approached the mic smiling as if he knew what would happen as soon as he uttered its first words. What would happen did happen. “Okay, so I was wrong about / The reasons for us falling out / Of love I want to fall back in,” he intoned, only having reached about the word “I” in the first line before the crowd erupted. Whereas the recorded version waits until the very end to evolve into a bouncier, rockier being, this live performance was just spewing energy from the very start. It was quicker, certainly, but not too much quicker…and louder, certainly, but not all that loud…what they do differently live can’t be qualified, other than to say that there’s an intangible characteristic to their performances that just makes a listener 110 percent convinced that there’s no single ounce of effort these boys could possibly put forth that they’re not already pouring into their audience. And that counts for a lot. Even if their music alone wasn’t phenomenal, which it is, that would probably be enough to make for an insanely enjoyable show.

“Shame” might be a bad example, even. Many of the tunes they play that are already quicker and more energetic on the album just go ballistic on stage. Seth and Scott pound at their instruments, they fall to the ground, they head-bang, their long hair and beards flailing as furiously as their fingers are moving and their feet are stomping. Bob Crawford spins his bass dangerously, making any classical musician wince at the price of replacing one of those mammoths. Lyrics delivered with gusto on the record are screamed when the Avetts are on stage (not that there isn’t a little screaming on the recordings). I doubt it was a deliberate aesthetic the guys adopted way back when they began performing this way, either. I imagine regular singing just didn’t pack enough emotion into it. One gets the feeling they’re just….exploding with music, with feeling, with things to say.

And oh, what they say…I’ve had the record all weekend and I haven’t listened to “The Ballad of Love and Hate” once without crying. I mean actual crying, with tears actually streaming down my face, not just experiencing the slight discomfort of a lump in my throat and moving on. I’ve been sitting in traffic and weeping because of this song. Twice. In two days.

And so, I admit defeat. The Avett Brothers have beaten me, run my boundaries and my genre-mongering into the ground like a runaway go cart that loses a wheel. I am won over. And I just need them to come back around and play. It’s 12:26 and my eyes are now open 3/4 (a ¼ improvement over an hour ago if I really want to sleep tonight), but my heart’s still pounding. Maybe that’s the unwanted side effect of being an Avett fan. All this, well, Emotionalism, isn’t something that can be turned on and off. While I’m in their power, it has me and my heart will beat, and stomp, and scream with them.

“I felt so sure of everything
My love to you so well received
And I just strutted around your town
Knowing I didn’t let you down
The truth be known, the truth be told
My heart was always fairly cold
Posing to be as warm as yours
My way of getting in your world
But now I’m out and I’ve had time
To look around and think
And sink into another world
That’s filled with guilt and overwhelming

Shame, boatloads of shame
Day after day, more of the same
Blame, please lift it off
Please take it off, please make it stop

And everyone they have a heart
And when they break and fall apart
And need somebody’s helping hand

I used to say just let ’em fall
It wouldn’t bother me at all
I couldn’t help them now I can.”

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Today's Favorite Webby Things

So check out a really adorable entry from one of my favorite purely random blogs. Be sure and click on the link in there if you haven't read any of the previous entries, it's very important to the story :)

But WAIT, there's more! The best thing I've seen all day (and I've been awake for a whole three hours...) is this. As many of you may have now figured out, I'm head-over-heels for Band of Horses.

I wish I could show you the picture of them in this month's Under the Radar Magazine, but it's not up on their website yet. As a Georgia alum, this makes me a little too happy.

What? I'm not ashamed.

Going to the Star Bar tonight for our fantastic Performer Presents event! (With the help of the lovely guys at Pop Death Squad, of course.) The Lolligags, Black Kids and Judi Chicago will make for an incredibly danceable evening. Can't wait!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Pillow Fight!

Behold: My continuing obsession with Band of Horses is given a new outlet.

They're playing the Earl on New Year's Eve (a SERIOUS underplay for them, which is probably why they're also playing on the 28th and 29th....) and I'm so there.


Sometimes all I want is sonority - consonance. I know there's a lot to be said, and I do mean a lot, for sounds that are harsh, or discordant, or just different for the sake of being different. I'm a huge proponent of reckless experimentation in music. But right now I am tired. And I think I'm getting a cold. And I want to listen to Mozart's Requiem.

Which is probably why I've been listening to this guy so much the last couple of days.

I just can't handle anything with darker tonality. And he uses flugel horn. On more than one song. I mean, if that's not enough of a recommendation, pick up the record and check out the liner notes. Gorgeous, and a laundry list of pretty much outdated instruments used in various creative combinations. So good.

I'm a touch distressed I probably won't make it to hear the Pippettes at Criminal tomorrow night, as I cannot get out of my shift at the restaurant. In fact, I'm working all weekend so no shows for me. I guess I should just shut up and finish writing all these reviews that have piled up. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

If only I was this irreverent (despite my disliking for that word...)

Some funny music writing.

So, coming up in the next couple weeks are shows by Tegan and Sara (yay!), a lovely Performer Presents at the Star Bar on Nov. 15 (Judi Chicago, Black Kids, The Lolligags), Band Together, maybe Stomp and Stammer's 11th Birthday Party, tons of other things. Looking forward to it.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Oh, Echo! (part II)

More Echo pictures! Here comes the good stuff...

The Spree's horn section, after transformation into full-blown cult.

Hope for Agoldensummer


Seth or Scott Avett. I can't remember. They're both too attractive to be differentiated from one another.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. There. Are. No. Words.

Hands down my favorite picture of the weekend. Look how happy the guitarist in the back

Alec Ounsworth. Sigh.

Megaphone. "Clap your hands! But I feel so lonely....Clap Your Hands! But it won't do nothing..."

Man Man! onslaught

Ye olde Skirts. I heart Jo Jo.

And that was Echo. All in all an excellent weekend, if exhausting.

This week, I saw Of Montreal (which I did get into, and I did write about, and it was fabulous...sorry for my previous whining...) on Wednesday, Pylon, the Selmanaires, and the New Sound of Numbers on Thursday. I'm tired. Just an excellent week.