Sunday, March 30, 2008


I did another "Catching up with..." feature for the Paste website. I got to speak to Cindy Wilson from The B-52s, who released their album Funplex last week. Check it out.

Remember how I mentioned that promotion Dr Pepper is doing where they promise a free can of soda to ever man, woman and child in America if Guns 'N Roses release Chinese Democracy before 2008 ends? Here's a complete story about it. So weird.

This one's not my doing, but it's the best picture to appear on all week:

Yay Josh Ritter!

Care anything about the movie Fanboys and all the Star Wars-related controversy? This story is illuminating. Like a lightsaber?

Also, Langhorne Slim offers free track, tours.

"I came, and I saw, and I conquered all."

"All y'all...."

(Photo by Daniel Arnold, from the Black Lips' MySpace)

Friday night, myself and three friends journeyed up to ye olde Athens, Ga. to see above gentlemen play the 40 Watt. I've never danced so hard in my life. (Review forthcoming at the Stomp and Stammer website, I think. Stay tuned.) I always forget how much I miss the 40 Watt until I walk in the door. I don't know if it's just sheer number of visits that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside, but I feel at home in that space. I think it's the strings of lights hanging from the ceiling and the fact that almost every publication I write for is always sitting on the ledge next to the front door.

Our boys The Selmanaires opened the evening, and, to use a technical term, completely ruled. As always. It was pretty strange to see them play somewhere other than Atlanta, but it didn't dampen the performance for me at all.

With the Black Lips enjoying international success of late, it gives me some sort of twisted sense of Atlanta pride to see them play and watch their progress.
Seems like the lyrics to "Veni Vidi Vici" might hold some water here. They seem to be actually conquering all. Along those lines, I discovered via another Atlanta music blog this morning that they've filmed Take-Away Shows. I've mentioned several times my admiration for Vincent Moon & co., and these are perhaps a little less magical than some of the others, but still very very brilliant.

Also, the Black Lips' blog is seriously amusing, if you're bored.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Linkage Wednesday

True to my word (and little else, I imagine).

Linkage Wednesday:

A little bit of Gandalf Love.


Guess which of these parties I generally enjoy more? Dr. Pepper promises a free can of its soda to everyone in America if Guns n' Roses release Chinese Democracy before the end of year. Read this.
(Kudos to Paul Thompson for saying both are prune-like. Ha.)

I Guess I'm Floating give us Radiohead for Dummies (Part 1). Pretty great.

Do you live within driving distance of Athens, Ga.? Do you like the New Pornographers? How 'bout Okkervil River? Cable and Tweed's givin' away tickets.

This is funny because I was about 30 feet away interviewing Aaron Dessner, also from The National as this interview was taking place. Go Grooveshark!

Here is a blurry picture of The National that I took at Langerado:

And finally, I very much recommend that you check out Have You Heard. They've really been kickin' ass lately

Monday, March 24, 2008

Your daily dose of crazy

This particular Monday has served up more of the bizarre than one would normally expect. Here are excerpts:

My friend Christina's news piece about the always-sane Ryan Adams and his blog.

The excellent quote Christina pulled:
"KNUT. the ice bear. Rejected by his mother, loved and lifted up by germans, hairy, likes salmon……. I love him. There just is nothing not to love. I can’t wait till he starts talking."

A (very very disgusting) trailer for the movie Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. Not kidding.

The Music Slut tells us MGMT have released a 3-D version of their video for "Time to Pretend." Hmph. So they have. We happened to have a pair of 3-D glasses laying around from this, so I watched it. Have to say, it's a little off, but the video's so trippy anyway, I'm not sure there's that much of a difference. Behold:

(Thanks for the tips, Nikki!)

And, finally, Black Moth Super Rainbow are re-releasing last year's Dandelion Gun on scratch n' sniff vinyl. Two-to-three senses utilized at all times, I suppose.

Got any more weird sightings for the day?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Eux Autres - Cold City

It's funny what happens when you listen to a record a couple times through, put it down for a bit, then pop it back in again. I'm listening to Cold City by Eux Autres ("ooz-oh-tra") and wondering what it's reminding me of. Suddenly I realize that the tune I'm humming, frantically searching my brain for who it's by, is by Eux Autres. It's just later on the record. I haven't gotten there yet.

[MP3] Eux Autres -"Anne Boleyn"

That bodes well for this Portland brother and sister. Being premature does me no favors when listening to them. As poppy and, *cringe*, ordinary as these two sound on first pass, by the second time through, fantastic characteristics come out of the woodworks. It feels like the ooze in Fern Gully (was it called Hexxus?) looks, if that gives you any idea. It just seeps through your consciousness, and you realize suddenly that it's fantastic. Because it is.

Getting through Eux Autres' sophomore full-length for maybe the fourth time, I'm completely smitten. I'll be a jerk for a second and quote the press release that accompanied the album (because it says what I want to say better than I can say it): "Eux Autres write compact songs with sparse instrumentation. Their music has been unfairly described as 'fun.' But while the surface of the songs might seem nonchalant, the lyrics offer skewered observations and fierce barbs. Most of their songs are about a) military history b) being 'done wrong' or c) sports." Too true.

If there's a danger for the duo on this particular record, it's that occasionally the songs resemble each other a little too closely. They're not breaking all that much ground, here, but what they do they do very very well. There's no shame in that, and it's the sunniest thing I've heard in a very long time, while still being extremely intelligent. While there's a place in all our hearts for a good brooding record, every once in a while we need one that's a pick-me-up as well. Cold City is an antidepressant for the ears if ever I heard one.

Eux Autres released their debut 7" in 2003 and their first LP, Hell Is Eux Autres in 2004. They re-released the LP in 2006 on Montreal's Grenadine Records. Cold City released in December on Athens' Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records.

Here's the extremely charming video for "Anne Boleyn" from Cold City (A puppet playing french horn!):

You can also download the album's single, "When I'm Up" (which is an adorable song), form

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Show Docket/Linkage Wednesday

Show Docket: (All are welcome!)

Tonght: Lenny's Bar, 9 p.m., $5
Gravel Undertone
When Rocky Beat the Russian
Lazer/Wulf (yay!!!!!)
Holy Liars

Thursday, March 20: 40 Watt Club, Athens, GA., 10 p.m. $7
Dark Meat
Quiet Hooves

Friday, March 28: 40 Watt Club, Athens, GA, 9:30 p.m., FREE

Black Lips (who have a hotline in their tour van now, apparently)
Pride Parade
The Selmanaires
Pretty damn excited about this one.

Linkage Wednesday:
Maybe it is a real thing!

Ho belt. I bet you'll click, even if I offer no additional explanation. I have site stats. I'll be able to see if you do. Thanks, Pecanne Log.

Of Montreal/MGMT side project? No way....but so says Pitchfork. ("Blikk Fang"? Really?)

New Death Cab, reports Cable and Tweed. I actually kind of like the jam at the beginning, but the lyrics are toward the more obvious in Gibbard's arsenal. I don't know. I know I won't hate it. But I have a feeling my Death Cab phase really might have ended.

Recent Pasteings:

The Beatles might go Guitar Hero as well

Radiohead to judge In Rainbows animated video contest

Bon Iver releases video, gets robbed, extends tour

Lou Reed tours, is funny

Art Brut and EMI part ways

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to be split in two

Enough? Enough.
Hope to see you all at these shows....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ball of Flame Shoot Fire - Grumpy Little Bird EP

[MP3] Ball of Flame Shoot Fire - "Red Meat"

Ok, friends. This is going to be hasty, but I wish very much that it wasn't. Things've been a little more than ridiculously busy recently (Langerado, deadline, incredible show last night - Liam Finn/The Most Serene Republic/Miracle Fortress). It's kept me from translating all my pages and pages of notes and intentions to the digital world. There are a few reviews I've been promising, and this one wasn't technically the first in line. But of all the things I've received in the mail because of Fear of Arthropods, this little record, Grumpy Little Bird from Pittsburgh's Ball of Flame Shoot Fire, is my favorite.


Here's why (in awkward bulleted list format, no less):

-Giddy vocals: including, but not limited to, a bit of yodeling/cracking between octaves/falsetto/yelling. I'm sucker for falsetto. And warbling. This EP's got both. Smacks of Zach Condon just a touch, but not nearly as operatic. Imagine Beirut meets TV on the Radio, vocally.

-They're theatrical!: like Man Man (who they've played with, Tim from the band tells me), but not in exactly the same way. What struck me about the first 30 seconds of the EP is that there's emphasis (I just totally got a kick of using emphasis html around the word "emphasis," btw...)! Effective rhythm variations, saloon piano, time changes. This is more than your usual pop fare, and it's a little insane the same way Man Man is. Which isn't to say they're a Man Man ripoff at all. They're not. They go in for more balladry than Man Man does, but they've taken so much of what I love about that band and used it to their advantage. Kudos. (And they're weird without scaring me a little like some bands do that shall remain unnamed....*cough, Bearsuit, *cough...)

-Fun instrumentation: like when they use saxophone (which tends to annoy me, but doesn't here) without coming off like some sad attempt at smooth jazz. They walk this silliness line and perform it all with a sense of humor, but never make a joke of their music. It's fun without losing weight. "Down the Street" even features a cheesy electric organ effect, but it's performed so well technically and with such feeling. It's completely endearing. (It actually says "Yay!" in my notes, if you must know...)

-A few song-by-song observations: (not edited well, so there's a bit of repition - time restraints, sorry...)
Standout tracks are the lead, "Red Meat," and the as-crazy or, perhaps, crazier, "'rado." Maybe I like insane? "Vroom Vroom" features that saloon piano, punchy, slide guitar, saxophone; lead vocals slide into shaky falsetto of the most charming kind. Fast and committed. None of that mid-tempo crap. "Down the Street" is all cheesy electric organ, tracks of people talking in the background, lends to a social feel. Doesn't take away from the weight of the album. These guys have a sense of humor, but I've always thought that contributed to the credibility of music. "'rado" tends toward vocal stylings reminiscent of The Darkness, all squawks and Freddie Mercury-esque exclamations. Banging piano tempered with excellent timing and well-placed yelled choruses. These songs are almost tone paintings, to a greater extent than is often found in pop music. They illustrate their points, not only talk about them. A touch Ben Folds, bits of brass, occasional squeezing of too many syllables into one line (so charming!), a-la Xiu Xiu. "Vasco de Gama" does this, and is quite good, especially for use of the phrase "necessary expense" in very little space...the song talks about conquistadors over seriously beautiful ostenato parts and brass backing and octave vocal leaps. It feels like motown meets Coldplay. But not icky.

What else can I say? I take it this is a young band's first real release, and it's loaded with potential. I hope to hear more from these guys.

Says the band:
Grumpy Little Bird is available for purchase from Big Big Truck Records [which means you should just email or MySpace message the band] for 5 bucks. The tracks are:
1. Red Meat
2. Flaming Wreckage
3. Vroom Vroom
4. Down the Street
5. Rado
6. Vasco da Gama
7. Wolf Cry

(All images ripped off from BOFSF's Myspace)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I just had 4 shots of espresso

More fun things to enjoy while I put off all those record reviews (next week, I swear it!):

Yeasayer filmed two videos for Vincent Moon's Take-Away Shows, which are always brilliant. This is super exciting because Yeasayer's definitely a top-tier live act. Here's the best one; in my opinion, it's right up there with the Arcade Fire, Beirut and The National Take-Away Shows. Really, truly astonishing. (Moon even branches out a bit at the end with some scene cutting and backwards film reels.) My favorite part is when the neighbor complains....

I'm so infatuated with this band.

Also, Paste posted an hour-by-hour guide to SXSW. This is, for obvious reasons, my favorite part:

11 p.m. - Bon Iver (Mohawk Patio) - According to the world's #1 all-star Bon Iver fanatic, Paste intern Julia Reidy: "For Emma, Forever Ago is hands-down the best album of the year. It's only March, I know, but I challenge anyone to make me change my mind come December. If he can fill your car the way he does, imagine what he can do with the performance space in a bar."

FOAVOD: Yo! Fishboy has a video!

One of FOA's very favorite has put out a video! I've gushed about Fishboy before. The Denton, Texas band's 2007 record, Albatross: How We Failed to Save the Lone Star State With the Power of Rock and Roll was one of my best of 2007 (and is a rock opera). You can still stream the full album here, or buy it from Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records. Both are very highly recommended.

Also, it looks like the guys will be heading to the eastern seaboard come May-ish. Don't miss this! I know I won't!

Fishboy - "Parachute (Using The Ghost Of Buddy Holly As A)"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I have returned from Langerado! I'd like to tell you all about it, but I'm so exhausted from all the driving (SOOOO much driving!), the constant show-going, the eating, the hand-sanitizing, and most of all, the extensive blogging the other Paste-types and I did the whole time, that I'm pretty much tapped out. We're almost done with all the entries. I've finished mine. So instead of revisiting everything I already wrote about (painstakingly and on very little sleep), I'll have a link fest here! Yay!

In (sort of) chronological order, so far:

The Big Cyprowski: Paste's nearly up-to-the-minute Langerado Blog (How we got lost and ran out of gas where there were panther crossing signs, by Steve LaBate. Sierra Leone Refugee Allstars, by Sara Miller.)

We Can Dance (Or Not Dance) If We Want To (!!! by me, Built to Spill, by Sara Miller.)

Langerado: Rap's Rock 'n' Role Models
(The Roots, by Steve LaBate and me, The Beastie Boys by Steve LaBate.)

Saturday in the Swamp: From Canines to Specters (Dr. Dog by Sara Miller, Ben Folds by Sara Miller, Matisyahu by me, Ghostland Observatory by me.)

A Close Shave: Of Montreal Brings Out the Dead (Of Montreal, by me and Sara Miller.)

A National Anthem: Langerado's Lovely Ending (The National by me.)

Have fun! A photo journal will be up soon on the Paste blogs also.

The best shows I saw were Josh Ritter, Of Montreal and The National. Those guys rock.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Facial hair, personal injury, and displaced optimism - March's SEP Arrives!

It's that time again, Southeasterly music-folk!

March's Southeast Performer Magazine has hit the window ledges and free racks of your record stores, coffee shops and venues, and I have to gush. I have exactly three pieces in this issue, and I'm immensely proud of each of them. [Disclaimer: that means there's about to be a lot of copy-pasting. Sorry.]

First up is the spotlight I had the extreme privilege of writing about A Decent Animal. I'm copying it here because I'm so proud of these guys, and I think the story turned out really well...I hope I'm not deluding myself.

A Decent Animal
By Julia Reidy
Photo by Jonathan Stout

Through gradual change, the process of evolution crawls
forward for millennia. Every so often, however, progress leaps ahead.

A Decent Animal is leaping. The past couple of years have seen the Charleston trio develop at breakneck speed. They grew a third limb with new drummer George Baerreis last year. They’re preparing for a move. And halfway through 2007, these Decent Animals were suddenly asked to follow their fellow South Carolinians, Band of Horses, on the road. They were naturally selected, if you will. In evolution, it’s survival of the fittest, and for many, A Decent Animal is as fit as it gets.

Riding their electric live performances through throngs of new fans at every show, the three gentlemen of ADA have been writing furiously since the 2006 release of their Rabbit Hole EP, a project the band says feels like eons ago. In the interim, the music changed and developed.

“I think we’ve grown exponentially since then,” says bassist/guitarist Richard Weld. “We don’t even really play those songs anymore. It’s a very different band.”
A taste of ADA’s new material finally made it onto vinyl this year, with the release of a 7-inch single in January through Charleston’s Tick Tock Records. The progress continues, as ADA readies to record their first full-length, which they excitedly aim to put forth by summer under the production of Band of Horses frontman Ben Bridwell.

“By the time we get it recorded, it’ll probably be about two years of songs, old and new,” says Weld. “It should be interesting because the way we write now, our songs sound a lot different than they used to.”

The group transitioned from their mostly acoustic primordial soup to full-fledged rock band during the recording session for their first EP, resulting in the addition of Baerreis.

“Jonathan and I learned pretty much in the studio how to record the Rabbit Hole EP, and we didn’t have a drummer,” Weld explains. “Our engineer who’s a really close friend of ours played drums. We loved hearing the way it sounded, so as soon as we got back home ... we created George.”

Baerreis wasn’t actually conjured out of thin air. He existed for years in the musical wild before migrating toward the welcoming company of ADA, serving stints with Bain Mattox and The Velvet Swells, among others, along the way.

“I’ve been playing music for 15 years at this point,” he relates. “I liked pretty much everything that I’ve been a part of, but this is definitely the closest to what I hear in my head.”

In the year-plus since he joined ADA, Baerreis has come to blend in seamlessly with the pack. “As soon as we started playing with George, we started writing as a 3-piece,” Weld says. “And George brought a bunch of ideas to the table right off the bat. So the transition was immediate.”

“And natural,” adds singer/guitarist Jonathan Nicholson.

Nicholson and Weld likewise involved themselves in other musical ventures before the formation of ADA, some together, some apart. “We’ve all been in bands that have done really well,” Weld muses from behind his rather remarkable beard. “But this has been the culmination of years and years of work.”

The next substantial adaptation for the group will be translating their standout live performance to record form. “If it’s possible for me to relay the energy that I think the songs contain and somehow to give people just how those songs make me feel,” explains Nicholson, “If I can do a small portion of that in a recording, to me, I’ve accomplished something.”

This month, ADA take their accomplishments to a new home. The group has decided to migrate to the more westerly environs of San Francisco. They’re flying away.

Not to worry, says Nicholson, “We’re still a Southern rock band.” He pauses. “Well, we’re not a Southern Rock band.” Balking at the suggested imagery of rebel flags and Ted Nugent, he clarifies. “We want to be a rock band and we’re from the South and that’s all there is to that.”

Baerreis counters; “I like the Nuge. I actually wrote him in for president last year.” In even the most decent band, there’s going to be at least a little competition, a little dissent. It’s only natural.

Next, I reviewed the Attractive Eighties Women show where Mack got cut with that glass. It was awesome. (Mack's fine, don't worry...)

And last, I did a record review of Titans of Filth's new EP, Feats of Strength. They're so great. And apparently I went to high school with one of the girls in the band. I had no idea!

Enjoy guys, it's great issue. Go grab one!

Linkage Wednesday

I like naming things as if they're part of an ongoing feature. Who knows, maybe I'll make "FOA Linkage Wednesday" a real thing.

Living up to the name:

Tiny Mix Tapes: Pitchfork Media lends its name, discriminating taste to video game soundtrack; TMT maybe gets Back to the Future pinball game for office
Really brutal. I get annoyed with TMT occasionally because they're pretty far over the top, but this one's spot on.

If you are ever bored, go here:
Dress Up Devendra Banhart
No seriously. The king of "freak folk" and weird clothes has provided his loyal fans with a virtual dress-up doll. It's bizarrely addictive. And as Nikki tried to point out, he goes so far as to be wearing white undies on one of his images. I'm speechless.

Recent Paste-ings:

Tapes 'n Tapes reveals 24-hour album stream, tour dates

Eisley kicks of North American tour April 1

The Onion Movie coming to DVD at last

Animal Collective preps Water Curses EP, tours

Patterson Hood schedules solo dates in between Truck stops

Beatles pirate prosecuted, still no sign of digi-releases

Also, Bon Iver posted his first video today (thanks, Jeff), which isn't so much a music video. Just pretty:

Stay tuned for reviews of Eux Autres's Cold City and Ball of Flame Shoot Fire's Grumpy Little Bird EP next week. I leave in the morning for Langerado, so I'll be out of touch for a few days (after one last post...). But please feel free to continue commenting, emailing, grumbling, gesticulating, and most importantly, reading (and thanks for doing it!)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Keith John Adams - Unclever

Is there such a thing as twee punk?

Don't answer that.

(Photo from Keith John Adams's MySpace)

Regardless of my inability to come up with the correct idiotic classification for it, I've been jamming The Keith John Adams' Unclever for a couple of weeks now, on and off. He's sure got the clean, almost minimalistic, all-American garage pop thing nailed. Especially for someone who's very much not American - who hails, in fact, from the UK. Well really, garage pop's not an American idea, necessarily. Whatever. Point is, Adams has it. And that English bent to his no-nonsense, creative, intelligent lyrics can do nothing but ad charm. (What American girl doesn't dig a British accent?)

Unclever came out last month on one of FOA's crushworthiest of crushworthy record labels, Athens' Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records. The label connection's wrapped him up in Athens music-folk like crazy, as Jason NeSmith (aka. Casper Fandango of Casper & the Cookies, ex. Of Montreal) both recorded this album and played drums on it. He was also joined by Kay Stanton (also of Casper & the Cookies, of course) on bass, as well as having spent live performance stints with other ATH musical royalty of various kinds. The Cookies have joined him for live shows, too, if I'm not mistaken. I get a kick out of following the way all these guys swap projects and help each other.

As far as the album itself goes, I'm most impressed with its bounciness and its wit. I was stuck in traffic one day last week with the album playing, and started taking notes ('cause I'm a huge dork). Here's what I came up with:

-moving bass lines
-early rock n' roll chord progressions with a twist
-clever lyrics
-multiple mentions of paper cups "heart in a paper cup", etc.
-great momentum

-occasionally Adams whacks you over the head a little too hard (we're subtle. we'd get it...)

The album's lead track, "Bed," features some whoppers of one-liners, for example, "Thank the lord, thank the devil for denial."

"Other Side of the Road" features a cup mention, too, here: "And they're drinking their steaming coffee from disposable cups..." The next verse follows with, "And you're drinking your steaming coffee from a shrunken head..." His picture of shallow people with whom he can no longer empathize is fully developed and clear, backed by fuzzy garage guitars and well placed percussion. It's very well executed, and I like it. Simple as that.

You can buy the record at

[MP3] Keith John Adams - "Other Side Of The Road"

The video for "Other Side of the Road":