Sunday, June 29, 2008

So. Tired.

Corndogorama. Exhausting. Good coverage from friends here.

That's all.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Corndogorama cometh!

I can't say it better than Rebecca Bowen, so let me point you toward's article about this weekend's CORNDOGORAMA at Lenny's:

Dan Deacon to headline Corndogorama's meaty lineup

With its built-in wooden stick for convenient one-handed transport, and soft, delicious casing that prevents the traumatic puncture wounds often inflicted by skewered meats or vegetables, the corn dog (its origins as debated as those of man himself) was obviously conceived supernaturally for the purpose of consumption amidst throngs of schoolchildren, circus-goers and, finally, Atlanta indie rockers. [Read more...]

It's here. It's good. It's this weekend. Foods on sticks and music for everyone! All should come out and help support local music, as well as say hello to your beloved(!) journalistic entities like Southeast Performer Magazine's lovely troupe of editors, writers and interns, and of course my boys over at Have You Heard....I'll be the one wearing a silly grin (either sleepy or too excited) under the Performer tent for much of the weekend if you're lookin'.

Highlights for me include the Friday night lineup of Judi Chicago, Noot d'Noot and Dan Deacon and a Sunday afternoon onslaught from Lazer/Wulf. Can't wait. Full lineup available at!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Paste Band of the Week: Bowerbirds

Back from AthFest and attempting to re-organize. Phew. Pictures soon.

In the meantime, something fun!

When I awoke today, my very first Band of the Week piece greeted me from the Paste site. It's about N.C.'s staggeringly awesome trio Bowerbirds, in the wake of last week's reissue of their 2007 record Hymns For A Dark Horse on Dead Oceans. They're organic, sincere and wonderful musicians. I highly recommend them. And if you've got a moment read about 'em:

Paste: Band of the Week: Bowerbirds

Hometown: Raleigh, N.C.
Fun Fact: Guitarist/vocalist Phil Moore and multi-instrumentalist Beth Tacular have spent the last year building an eco-friendly house all by themselves to replace their AirStream trailer.
Why They’re Worth Watching: Moore, Tacular and multi-instrumentalist Mark Paulson create truly organic folk songs, full of haunting melodies and honest lyrics without layers of production.
For Fans Of: Phosphorescent, The Avett Brothers, The Mountain Goats, Bon Iver

People stare as Phil Moore, Beth Tacular and Mark Paulson stroll around a candy store in New York. Paulson’s tapping and thudding in rhythm on a bass drum he has strapped to him, Tacular is squeezing her accordion while she harmonizes sweetly and Moore is playing his acoustic guitar and singing about things like bur oaks and talons as he wanders. He turns to the side so he doesn’t whack the guitar’s neck on the corn-syrup-laden shelving. [Read more...]

[MP3] Bowerbirds - "Bur Oak"

Friday, June 20, 2008

Catching Up With... The Avett Brothers

This, my friends, is the best assignment I've ever had.

As you all well know, The Avett Brothers are one of my very favorite bands, live, recorded and otherwise (what's "otherwise"??). When I was told there was an interview opportunity with Scott, all the questions swirling around in my head, that I'd been formulating for months like I do with any truly fascinating band, immediately lined up, numbered, ordered and regimented. They stood at the ready, and a week later, by phone, I was allowed to ask them. Though over the past year I've had the chance to talk to a couple of other people who probably enjoy equal levels of fame and success, of any of them The Avett Brothers' music affects me by far the most personally. I was, therefore, seriously nervous upon dialing the phone number I was given at the appointed time. Scott was sincere and disarming, though, and did his best to answer questions I can only assume he's been asked before. I did my best to make it interesting, to delve deeper than the surface logistical and "personality-revealing" questions ("What's your favorite TV show?", etc). He indicated that my queries about the songwriting process and honesty in music were the type he prefers to answer, that a lot of interviewers never get there. Which made me feel good, even if it's not totally the case. I wanted so badly to know about the autobiographical nature of their songs, about the contradictory truths they espouse with such passion, because of the people I've encountered in my own life that seem to behave the same way.

After some serious editing, we're left with this piece, which arrived on the Paste site today. I hope you enjoy!

Catching Up With... The Avett Brothers

They’re traveling troubadours of the inner workings of the heart and head, these men in their stage suits wielding banjos with the force of weapons. They communicate all the gray areas and intricacies thereof through simple sonic textures; bluegrass strings join keys, kick drums, sweet crooning and guttural screams. Multi-instrumentalists Seth and Scott Avett, bassist Bob Crawford and cellist Joe Kwon traverse the country, ministering to ever-growing audiences from their book of unabashed balladry, hollerin’ all the way. They are rough around the edges of a center so baldly honest that even their ample facial hair begins to seem unlikely.

If theirs is a formula not many have used before, The Avett Brothers are testing it well now, gradually accumulating legions of loyal fans and releasing five full-length studio records in as many years. As the band prepared to depart Ann Arbor, Mich. for Grand Rapids in May, Paste caught up with Scott to talk about creative consistency, time spent on the road and achieving the unexpected. They’re in the midst of yet another of their incessant tours, hopping from venue to venue, from one frantic crowd to the next.

This particular journey leads the group to a discographical destination as well as a physical one. On July 22, the Avetts will release The Second Gleam via longtime label Ramseur Records. It’s the aptly-named sequel to their only previous EP, 2006’s The Gleam, and it’s a pit stop on the road to their next full-length record, which they’ve slated to record later this year with a release in 2009.

Paste: The Second Gleam comes out in July. Can you tell me a little bit about the writing and recording process of it and what your listeners can expect?
Scott Avett: Well, the basis of the thing is in the beginning. The first Gleam that we made kind of sprung from the recording of “Famous Flower of Manhattan” from Four Thieves [Gone], where we were going to make the recording and we knew it had to be a one-take sort of thing. We knew it had to be Seth and I just sitting down, two chairs, two guitars, two microphones, and it had to be done all at once. We would just go in and every day we would just try it once or twice, or at least until we got warm, which might take two or three times. And if it didn’t happen, you’d say “Okay, let’s just try again tomorrow. It’s just got to be right.” And we did that for six or seven days until we got it, and we really enjoyed the process of the quiet and calm feeling of it. So we said, you pick three songs, I’ll pick three that I’ve been writing on my own, and let’s just make a record and we’ll base it on this theme of this song that was called “Sanguine.” It was speaking of “the gleam,” meaning the outer skirts of light of what we do as a primary operation. Not the leftovers, but the outer skirts of the light of it. So it had a good theme to it and it felt good to record. So we did the first one. And on the second one, we started recording it last April and sat on it, and thought it over and added songs, and then after we just completed a number of demos, into the 30 realm, we added two or three more songs to it, edited down some and added newer songs. It sticks somewhat to the theme and to the order of quietness and calmness and just Seth and I basically partnering in the recording and the writing. The songs aren’t quite as individually written as the first one was. There’s input from each other more so on this one than there was on the first. [Read more...]

[MP3] The Avett Brothers - "Paranoia In B-flat Major"

Monday, June 16, 2008

P4K interviews the Black Lips

Good reading.

Pitchfork: How would you describe the band in five words or less?

Jared: The happy clown that cries.

I get so proud of Atlanta bands....

FOAVOD: Bon Iver - Take-Away Shows!!!!!!!!!!

No words, except maybe "SHEEEEP!"


Watch this:

Then go here, watch the other two videos and read about it all in broken English. They seem to promise more are forthcoming. I think I'll be spending the days surrounding my birthday in August trying to drive to Tennessee to see this band play. They keep skipping Georgia on their U.S. tours. It's the only thing I could possibly say about Bon Iver that even approaches negative. These videos only prove my point. Can't wait.

When I saw that they had been posted, I actually vocalized something. By myself in my living room. I'm not sure if it was a scream or a gasp or what...kind of embarrassed about it now...but maybe that communicates my feelings better than any words ever could.

Shutting up now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Live Review: Man Man / Yeasayer (Lenny's Bar 5/3/08)

(Photo credit)

I wrote this review for Stomp and Stammer's website. You can read more "Tales From The Moshpit" here.

Copy-pasting action:

If for nothing other than a sociological study on facial hair patterns in young adults, the Man Man and Yeasayer show at Lenny's would have been worth attending.

That being said, I'm glad this wasn't the first time I'd seen Yeasayer. The sound engineering this particular night did them no favors, mixing all the punch right out of Chris Keating's vocals — pretty much the whole draw of the band for me. Without it, their creations spiral downward toward — what did Jeff call their album? — "Airy, mystical shit that sounds like somebody got a ahold of a bunch of peyote and somebody's Johnny Clegg records." Well sure, Jeff, to me it gets that way if the sound in the club's bad. I really like 2007's All Hour Cymbals, even if it's a little far down the blissed-out spectrum for my usual tastes. You might feel the same, but once you see them live, you'll fall in love like I did. Keyword in that last sentence: "see." At the Lenny's show, I only heard them, and it just wasn't the same. I could digress at this point into an argument against Lenny's ever hosting acts that draw a crowd that large. The stage is too low to allow anyone under 6' a view of the action. (Not to mention their one-stall bathroom situation on a night when the crowd's at capacity...bad news.) Ordinarily, I love the way Keating convulses when he sings, as if the music may actually be killing him, gnawing out his internal organs, but he doesn't care — he'll fight through the pain to bring you, dear listener, the tune that may save your life instead. He sings like a musical martyr. I know that at another venue, Yeasayer both looks and sounds more compelling; all I experienced at this show was the shoulders of those next to me, the varying haircut profiles of the people in front, and lots and lots of projection screen psychedelia and bass. So. Much. Bass. The logistics of showgoing were so poor that night that I even danced to my favorite Yeasayer song, "Sunrise," with 12 of my closest friends in line for the ladies' room. Questionable venue choice to host two such high-profile and visually-stunning acts.

Yeasayer probably shared a good portion of the blame for the bar being so packed, but my instincts tell me it was mostly Man Man's fault. These men's popularity is, to me, unsurprising and incredibly well deserved. I can think of no music less pretty — or more beautiful. Lead-fellow Honus Honus (a.k.a. Ryan Kattner) writes the smartest music I ever hear, lyrically and melodically; it's technically worlds and worlds superior to what mostly passes as pop nowadays. The set for the night featured heaping helpings of material from their new Anti- Records debut, Rabbit Habits, like the frantic "Ballad of Butter Beans," the syncopated and moaning "Big Trouble" and the just-plain-effing-brilliant "Harpoon Fever (Queequeg's Playhouse)." Yes, that's a Moby-Dick reference. They sampled bits off their earlier releases as well, most memorably the slower and more nostalgic "Van Helsing Boombox" from 2006's Six Demon Bag as the final song in their much-cheered-for encore. The song features saloon piano, whistling and one of my favorite opening lines in all of music; "Only time will tell if I'll allow the scenery around to eat me alive," Honus croons gratingly over Pow Pow's gentle rim-tapping. While you're wondering what he might mean by that, the other boys are all busy. Honus climbs and kicks, playing his keys, but the others switch instruments. Guitar, bass, all kinds of brass and saxophone, and even more keys are represented (not to mention the occasional slide whistle). Pow Pow plays his drum kit side-by-side with Honus in front, the upright pole of his high hat sporting an impaled plastic rabbit and some feathers. The all-white all the guys wear contrasts with their unruly hair and sweaty skin streaked with face paint. Sometimes Honus plays a bowl of water as a percussion instrument. Tell me you wouldn't love to stare at all this forever if given the opportunity. I certainly wanted to, and was grumpy at being denied the vantage point, but as I've seen them play before, and Man Man makes me dance like a maniac, all was not lost. You don't even need eyes to appreciate something so viscerally compelling.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer

At Mount Zoomer, the forthcoming full-length from indie rockers Wolf Parade, will release June 17th on Sub Pop. I've been intrigued by this band for a minute now, and I still can't get "Call It A Ritual" out of my head. Accordingly, I wrote a review of it for this month's issue of Stomp and Stammer. The 'zine also boasts a cover on Mudhoney, my one-sentence sum-up of Man Man's Rabbit Habits and loads of other reviews and whatnot. Recommended reading!

At Mount Zoomer:

This Montreal side-project-happy crew's second LP sounds like a buffet tastes. It starts fresh and new and delicious. "Soldier's Gun" whets the appetite as the leadoff track, the first sweet synthesizer notes and mellow vocals launching square into poppy, post new wave territory. We are suddenly awash in a bright, pointillist guitar-punctuated waltz with warbling harmonies from singer Dan Boeckner, whose voice and delivery style remind more than a little of VHS or Beta frontman Craig Pfunder. He wails about chemicals and radio wires, beginning the album's consistent exploration of disillusionment and the darker sides of modern life.... [Read more]

[MP3] Wolf Parade - "Language City"

Sunday, June 8, 2008

FOAVOD: James Houston - "Big Ideas (Don't Get Any)"

This one's been all over the blogs, so many of you have probably seen it already. If you haven't though, check this out. It's by far my favorite version of Radiohead's "Nude."

Big Ideas (don't get any) from James Houston on Vimeo.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Monday, June 2, 2008

Fat Possums, Weasley Twins and Complex Wooden Hearts: June's Southeast Performer arrives!

Greetings on this stifling June 2nd, southeasterly musical folk! June's issue of Southeast Performer Magazine has hit the web, if not yet your free news stands, and this one's looking pretty...uh...pretty.

What I mean by that, is it features excellent Mississippi rockers Colour Revolt on the cover (see above), with a fantastic article by Paste's Caren Kelleher. I'd just like to know where they found all these bathtubs...

I'm most thrilled about my second feature for SEP, appearing in the form of Gred and Forge from Asheville, N.C. Not only did I get to write about this friendly musician, but I got to write an interest piece about Wizard Rock, music inspired by the Harry Potter series. Dorky, nerdy and utterly, utterly fantastic assignment.

The issue's got lovely spotlights on Atlanta's Pink Police, North Carolina's Airspace and Florida's Tres Bien.

As always there are fantastic live reviews and record reviews (including mine of Josh Preston's Complex Wooden Heart EP). This month's tour stop takes us to Chattanooga, and there's even a tour diary from Athens' We Vs. The Shark.

Enjoy, y'all!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Anticipation, Trepidation and Coldplay

I haven't heard the new Coldplay record, and I'll admit right now that I'd really like to. Sure, I've been disillusioned with their work in the past. I loved A Rush of Blood to the Head, and was living in Italy for a summer when X&Y released. I walked to the only record store I knew about and bought it for almost 18 euro, which is quite a bit to pay for an album that I ultimately denounced as trite...or if not trite, then trying absolutely too hard to do what people would expect and being almost embarrassingly strident in the process. Which isn't to say that I didn't listen to it over and over and over again on all my train rides across the Italian peninsula. It became the soundtrack to my hostel rooms, the theme behind my travel journaling, the tunes in my head as I traversed cobblestone roads. It was addictive not just because of my musical starvation at the time. I had objections, but I still....I don't know...liked it. I'm a sucker for epic.

Perhaps our journalistic self-consciousness is defeating us in the case of Coldplay, and that's why I enjoyed this review at Because I'm this curious about Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends, I've been reading all the reviews of it that come out. This can be a dangerous practice, and I'll be the first to tell you that even though I regularly write them, record reviews should be taken, absolutely 100% of the time, with a sizable grain of salt. This one expresses the same trepidation I feel on approaching a Coldplay LP. But it comes to the same bashful conclusion I came to with X&Y, that I arrive at with any album that probably won't enjoy the type of unashamed, all-out, under the radar praise that on-the-rise, independent artists can expect. It concludes that though the record comes late-ish in the band's career, though they're so universally loved that they're almost universally resented, though we probably would rather not like Coldplay albums at all so as to preserve any hipster cred we may have ever possessed, bands like Coldplay didn't acquire international stardom and (at least originally) respect by totally sucking. It's written considering the self-referencing Coldplay seems doomed to participate in. Here's the second paragraph:

There are those of us still anxious about Parachutes, because it presented a Coldplay that we could listen to. This band (that Coldplay) was, above all, beyond listenable and frequently good, a band we could knowingly hum because we personally knew bands exactly like it, and has sort of re-emerged despite the history. This is Coldplay re-becoming Coldplay, in lieu of a Coldplay that never was. This Coldplay un-congealing themselves from the giggles and pain of half a decade’s worth of P. Diddy, Cat Deeley, and a slew of other execrable copycats trying to play at the song this band never made. So, in effect, this is Coldplay being completely unoriginal, relishing that impropriety and just taking off with their high art/low art salad days. This isn’t a new “sound,” because Brian Eno isn’t a new “radical.” This isn’t a new “band,” because, like we all know, Coldplay don’t exist. Or, if this were a sound, it would be the sound of four people trying to high-five Win Butler at once. And if it were a band, I guess that band would be Coldplay.

Then he says he kind of liked it.

I don't know where I'm going with this, except that I've been thinking a lot recently about the self-conscious side effects of being any kind of critic, and how it was an occupational (and I use the word "occupational" quite loosely) slot I ended up in obliquely, accidentally. Because art has so much intrinsic value. Because no matter the result, someone worked so hard to produce this, this collection of songs, this, at its best, reflection of self. For what? To be judged? I think not.

Sorry. I digress.

So I haven't heard Viva La Vida yet. The side effect of no longer being the daily underling at any magazine (though I still contribute) is that I'm not within arm's reach of all the music my heart desires anymore. Sigh.

Here's what I have heard from the new album:

[MP3] Coldplay - "Violet Hill"

I'd be interested to hear your opinions.

FOAVOD: Throw Me The Statue - "Lolita"

Yay Throw Me The Statue!

These fellows were uber-friendly and personable when they came to record at the Paste offices and play at the Drunken Unicorn a couple months ago. Their current record, Moonbeams, out on Secretly Canadian, has been in heavy rotation in my house for a good minute now. Maybe it gets a touch long-winded (it's basically a full hour long and lacks variety toward the end), but there are several truly standout tracks like the opener "Young Sensualists," "Conquering Kids" and "About To Walk." They combine fun pop sensibilities with just staggering use of SAT-caliber vocabulary words and solid musicianship. And they're creative. They bring quite the array of instruments to any recording session, let me tell you.

This is one of my favorite songs of the year. (And, admittedly, it's one of my ringtones...uh...I'm still cool, right?)

One more time:
[MP3] courtesy of Secretly Canadian: Throw Me The Statue - "Lolita"