Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"I've kind of ran out of goals"

While not job searching, lately I've been transcribing. My head is filled with the words of the Bowerbirds' Phil Moore and The Avett Brothers' Scott Avett. My own questions practically ring in my ears. I've been doing this so often, I've almost grown used to the way my voice sounds on digital recordings. They both speak of greater truths, of the way their music resonates in their own heads, and what it can reveal. That's why I enjoyed reading this interview so much (in spite of all its typos and poor copy-editing...): Interview: Bon Iver

Granted, I would've read it anyway. It's about one of my very very favorite musicians. But I found the questions were well-thought-out, and that Justin Vernon just seems unimaginably down-to-earth for someone who makes such beautiful songs. I was particularly excited by his mention of his interest in scoring movies.

Says Vernon: 'I was very sad and very lonely and now my family's doing really well and I'm in love. What happens now? I've done things that I've never dreamt of doing and I've kind of ran out of goals. So I'm kind of super happy, waiting for some shoe to drop. Whether it's the cover of Rolling Stone or just like peter off and work in a field for the rest of my life or just die. I'm that on the crest of everyday, it's like, "Wow, this is amazing. I'm happy everyday."'

I have a very different kind of interview ahead of me in about 45 minutes. The job kind (soul-sucking as it may be...) Wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Linkage Wednesday, re: Tom Waits, DCFC, The National, etc.

FOA Linkage Wednesday returns! Get excited, 'cause here we go....

First, I have have have to point you towards this NPR piece: Tom Waits Interviews Tom Waits

It begins with this utterly fantastic introduction (by Tom Waits about Tom Waits):
"I must admit, before meeting Tom, I had heard so many rumors and so much gossip that I was afraid. Frankly, his gambling debts, his animal magnetism, coupled with his disregard for the feelings of others... His elaborate gun collection, his mad shopping sprees, the face lifts, the ski trips, the drug busts and the hundreds of rooms in his home. The tax shelters, the public urination...I was nervous to meet the real man himself. Baggage and all. But I found him to be gentle, intelligent, open, bright, helpful, humorous, brave, audacious, loquacious, clean, and reverent. A Boy Scout, really (and a giant of a man). Join me now for a rare glimpse into the heart of Tom Waits. Remove your shoes and no smoking, please."

I also particularly enjoyed this question and answer:
"Q: What's hard for you?
A: Mostly I straddle reality and the imagination. My reality needs imagination like a bulb needs a socket. My imagination needs reality like a blind man needs a cane. Math is hard. Reading a map. Following orders. Carpentry. Electronics. Plumbing. Remembering things correctly. Straight lines. Sheet rock. Finding a safety pin. Patience with others. Ordering in Chinese. Stereo instructions in German."

Oh, and this one :
"Q: What is a gentleman?
A: A man who can play the accordion, but doesn't."

What's he mean by that?! I like the accordion...

There's also a lot of really self-indulgent discussion about record collections, his ears and squid. Recommended reading, for sure.

Next up, we've got this post from the very talented Nikki. She points us toward this Stereogum thing, in which Chris Walla from Death Cab for Cutie summarizes his feelings on Gossip Girl and one of his band's songs appearing on it the previous evening. Sheer brilliance.

"I keep hearing about this Gossip Girl. There's this one picture of her with her and her hot friends, spread out like margarine all over a Lincoln Town Car. Are they going to dinner? What's on the stereo while they drive? Is it our band? What world could I possibly be living in?"

The post is part of yesterday's "all Death Cab all the time," feature at Stereogum. The regular bloggers relinquished control and let members of DCFC do all the content all day. Risky? Yeah. Hilarious? Also yeah. Other good ones to read are:
New Hold Steady - Sequestered In Memphis by Chris Walla
The Roger Walters Quandary Or, Will The Last One Leaving Battersea Please Turn Out The Lights? by Ben Gibbard

Having dealt with blogging and online news posting extensively myself, I think it's great the way their content's still tailored to the usual Stereogum formatting...

Caren at Paste has created indie e-cards. For serious. They're incredible.

Grumpy Pitchfork says this about The National's A Skin, A Night and The Virginia EP. Incidentally, I disagree wholeheartedly with almost every sentence in this review. Mr. Klein misses the point entirely. Anyone who finds A Skin, A Night underwhelming and unnecessary is un-fascinated with songwriting and most likely has no soul. But I don't have any feelings about it.

In contrast, here's how I feel about The National.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Live Review: Black Lips (40 Watt 3/28/08)

Hey, remember when the Black Lips played at the 40 Watt at the end of March?..... What's that you say? ...That was almost two months ago? ...Wait, what's your point?

Well, if you're still interested in news that old, I wrote a live review of the show for Stomp and Stammer. It's here. I discuss having the dude behind me pretty much dump his entire can of Spark's in my hair and what it was like to be right in front of the speaker stack Ian St. Pe was climbing. (I did not, however, mention the very dangerous drool situation that particular position implies.)

To more completely illustrate the, uh, spectacle one witnesses at Black Lips shows, let me direct you toward some photos from the very talented Mike White of Deadly Designs. Check his site out, he's a fantastic live photographer. Here are a few he shot that night. The rest can be found here.

Jared sayin' hi to the crowd.

Gratitude from Ian.

Friendliest venue I know.

Some serious Cole.

Mike has 42 devastatingly good shots from this one set alone at Deadly Designs, not to mention the gazillions of other shows he's photographed, so go take a look.

Favorite Black Lips show stories, anyone?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Catching Up With...The National

I love it when big blogs pick up my articles!

The Music Slut likes my work...It won't even be live on the Paste site 'till Monday. They're quite thorough, those music sluts....

It's the interview I did with Aaron Dessner from The National at of my favorite interview moments so far. He was really really thoughtful...good person to talk to.

Also, this is the trailer for their Vincent Moon documentary, A Skin, A Night.. Comes out Tuesday. It's really really good.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

An all-call for the anthemic

Everybody remember this little song?

So do I. And I miss it.

I don't mean that I can't just listen to Band of Horses any old time I want. Of course I can. We all can. What I mean is that I haven't encountered anything recently that feels like that did when I first heard it. I want some new anthemic music, songs that are sweeping and epic....or whatever.

I've been listening to a lot of people like Wolf Parade and Josh Preston and Man Man lately. I need to switch gears. Any suggestions?

Utilize comments section!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Headlights - Some Racing, Some Stopping

(Image from the band's MySpace)

Anyone wanna read the review I wrote in Stomp and Stammer of the new-ish Headlights record? Well by god, here it is. I feel a little bad about the bits of negativity I had to throw in there....mostly 'cause the band is really really nice...maybe I'm not cut out for this music criticism junk...Well I'ma keep doing it anyway.

You can buy the record straight from them or at your local independent record store, as it's out everywhere via Polyvinyl.

And hey, if anyone's uber-bored and feels like giving me some criticism on my criticism (the constructive kind, of course!), I'd be completely open to it.

For your listening pleasure:

[MP3] Headlights - "Cherry Tulips"

Monday, May 12, 2008


It's almost sad when a whole show docket is finished. I said it'd be a good month, and it was. In the last week and a half I saw Man Man and Yeasayer (a review of which will show up here in the next week or two), Radiohead and Fishboy, all four of whom are artists I routinely list as my very favorites. So a productive run, all around. But see, now it's over. And the only big show I've got on my plate isn't till July. Sigh.

But the past few days have been top notch! Thursday night found me at one of my least favorite Atlanta-related locales in honor of one of my most favorite England-related musical entities. That's right! I was at Lakewood watchin' the Radioheads. And it was good. We had lawn seats, and never had that felt more perfect. The intermittent rain made me feel like the music was hitting me in tiny drops and soaking in. I have failed you as a press entity in this instance, however, because I can neither offer you a competent set list or any pictures of my own. Instead I'll point you towards other people who can offer these things.

Dearest Creative Loafing has a little review-ish (though I disagree that the band is unremarkable live) and some good photos here. They remind me, first of all, that Thom Yorke rarely has his eyes open (and is sooo adorable when he dances...which he did...several times), and second of all, that Johnny Greenwood is a terrifyingly impressive musician. The highlight of the set for me was his "Faust Arp" duet with Yorke. I had chills. Like this, but with only two electric guitars:

Also, I just about fell over when they played "Talk Show Host." And "15 Step" sounded incredible. So did everything else, come to think of it... Here's fansite's set list from the evening.

Pitchfork's got complete coverage of their stop in Florida a couple of days previous, complete with some great pictures. You can see the coolness of their lights and display setup.

I spent my Friday evening recording with Lazer/Wulf. Does an instrumental (what did we call it?) "prog-metal" band need flute on their record? The answer is yes! (Or at the very least a noncommittal "Sure, I mean...I guess." Insert requisite Jethro Tull quip here.) Seriously though, their forthcoming EP is sounding really good, and I feel lucky to be a part of it. Look for it soooon!

Then Saturday night, I ventured to Caledona for Gordon Lamb's birthday celebration, featuring my fave, Fishboy. Though Eric himself was a bit under the weather (a sad little bottle of chloroseptic spray sat atop his amp during the set), they still sounded great, and completely lived up to the months and months of expectations I'd been attaching to a live performance of theirs. Kudos, guys. I might review this one for S&S too, but I've got quite a bit on my plate at the moment, so maybe not. Besides, there's not too much to say other than that they performed their whole rock opera plus one song. They did it quickly, confidently and seamlessly. And it was awesome. Basically, I was left with nothing to lament except that they don't play around here more often. They'll be back for Athens PopFest in August, and I won't miss it. Here are some crappy pictures from my terrible camera. Look for some good ones from Mike of Deadly Designs soon.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Elves, re-recordings and swim trunks: May's Southeast Performer arrives!

Southeasterly music types! Rejoice! May's Southeast Performer Magazine has hit the stands, and this month it's chock full o' goodness. It begins with a cover by Harold Zimm on Atlanta's own Morning State (who can jump very high).
It's the tale of an album's survival through a label's collapse, and all the good that followed thereafter. Read about it here.

The feature this month is on Athens standby Elf Power and their new album, In A Cave.

I wrote a spotlight on this guy:

His band's called John Barrett's Bass Drum of Death, and he rocks pretty hard. I was not involved with this photo, but man, do I wish I had been!

The live reviews section's pretty sweet this month, too. Features Leila's coverage of southeast bands at SXSW, my write up of Look Mexico/Bear Colony/O'Brother, and of course, my boys Lazer/Wulf. Check it out!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Photos: Anna Kramer / Tenement Halls / Jeffrey Butzer (The Earl 5/2/08)

Some nights, the weird just comes out of the woodwork. Last night was one of those nights. It wasn't the full moon, though it was close; no odd astrological forces were at work of which I was aware. Maybe everyone started celebrating Cinco de Mayo just a little early. Either way, East Atlanta and the Earl gave us a night of good music peppered with a healthy dose of the bizarre.

It began before we even got inside. On our way up the street into the venue, we passed Bradford Cox giggling ecstatically on the sidewalk with a friend. Weird thing #1.

We met Jeffrey, who is very nice, before his set began. He started with his solo material, then was joined by his live band, Midwives. The stuff he plays alone or with one other person by way of accompaniment is played on multiple key instruments at the same time. He's like a one-man band with help. A percussionist assists on xylophone while he mans the keyboard, toy piano, melodica, high hat w/ tambourine and kick drum all by himself. It has a creepy film noir circus waltz quality to it, like a stripped down Dresden Dolls, really compelling in a sort of old abandoned porcelain doll kind of way. Nostalgic, like. And totally instrumental. When Midwives joined him, the tone changed completely, morphing into a maybe more straightforward rockabilly idea, stand-up bass and all. Jeffrey switched to guitar. Both incarnations impressed me a lot.

Jeffrey Butzer with Midwives:

The diminutive Jeffrey stood on his stool so he could be eye-to eye with his bassist.

Tenement Halls is the new-ish project of Chris Lopez from the now-defunct Rock*A*Teens. The band plays smart, bouncy pop rock with a penchant for a wall-of-sound aesthetic and adorned with generous helpings of distortion and reverb. I liked them too.

Tenement Halls:

At this point there were a few individual, unrelated and inappropriately drunk people dancing feverishly in the audience. One of them, a short, boundary-less girl kept on violating our personal bubbles, offering my roommate drinks and taking the cigarette out of her friend's hand to smoke it without his permission. Weird thing #2. It wasn't even that late. This one guy toward the front was jerking around to the music with so much determination it seemed his limbs might detach themselves from his body.

Before Anna Kramer & the Lost Cause hit the stage, they entertained us during set change by projecting an old Loony Toons episode on the screen. It was the one where Daffy was "Super Duck," and the Earl had it turned up excruciatingly loud. Weird thing #3. The night was starting to get overwhelming.

I am endlessly impressed with Anna Kramer. Each member of this band effing wails. They play like their very lives depend on it, hopelessly tight, energetic and brilliant. Two thumbs up.

Anna Kramer & the Lost Cause:

Adam Renshaw kills me when he plays drums. His mouth almost never closes, but he doesn't look ridiculous so much as....fucking ecstatic. It's incredible to watch. Shannon Mulvaney kicks around as he plays his bass lines, the ones that never stop moving, his fingers blurring in front of my eyes. (On the band's MySpace page, Shannon's job description is "bass, theatrics, flawless tap dancing." Yes.)

And then there's Anna, who is one of the hardest-rocking female musicians I've ever seen. Endless respect for her.

During this set, however, the weirdness kept right on going. Two or three newcomers to the crowd had obviously been elsewhere "having fun," and one of them proceeded to walk right to the front of the stage and vomit all over the floor and in her own hair, which she kept flinging around. It was disgusting. Weird thing #4. She wouldn't even consent to leave the crowd when her friend tried to pull her out. We relocated. Then, apparently there was a fistfight at the back of the crowd. More alcohol, I imagine. Weird thing #5. We decided to quit while we were ahead and vacated the premises. You woulda done the same.

Outside, some people were getting arrested. Maybe the ones in the fight. Weird thing #6. We pretty much ran away.

[MP3] Anna Kramer & the Lost Cause - "Da Da Rock"

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Port O'Brien - All We Could Do Was Sing

How hard does Port O'Brien rock? I had no idea until I heard them in the most recent Paste Culture Club podcast. Then I realized Paste was also streaming the entire album from their website (click on the Paste Station thing, then select "Album Streams"). All We Could Do Was Sing streets May 13th. If I sounded like Port O'Brien, all I'd be able to do is sing, too.

They're touring with Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin right now, but sadly not stopping here. Or maybe they already did. Not sure. I always catch on right after someone comes through this town.

Here's that song I like so much, "I Woke Up Today":

Same song, SO much better with this visual (hahahahahahahahahahah):

From the band's MySpace.

Good times.

Hooray Wolf Parade!

You know who rarely steers me wrong? Sub Pop. Hence their spot in the "Crushworthy Record Labels" list (see right). I like a good 75% of what they put out. That's decent. Kinda makes me wish I lived in the Pacific Northwest, being as they're throwing themselves a big 20th birthday party this year, in the form of a music festival that I really wish I could go to.

The most recent audio home run they've battered against my eardrums of late arrives as none other than Montreal's Wolf Parade. That song "Call It A Ritual" is seriously haunting me right now, and I recommend you let it haunt you, too. It's from their forthcoming album, which was originally to be called Kissing The Beehive, but will now be called At Mount Zoomer due to a copyright issue. Which is cool, I guess. Hits June 17th. Rejoice!

This picture's not of Wolf Parade. It's an ad for a Wolf Parade t-shirt. I just think it's hilarious.

Here's an MP3 from their Sub Pop website, being as I'm, uh, not allowed to share the version I've got...or whatever....
[MP3] Wolf Parade - "Call It A Ritual"

Enjoy. The song also holds a spot on the recent Sub Pop sampler, that so many of us received free on Record Store Day.

As if that wasn't enough, they're coming. To Atlanta. In July! (The 28th, to be precise.) Rich tells us all the tour dates, and his readers tell us how to buy tickets. I don't know about y'all, but I'll be there with bells on.