Friday, October 27, 2006

Covers w/ Cold War Kids

Glancing at this album cover, it's impossible for me not to envy the era bending qualities, the members of Cold War Kids possess. This photo has to be fifty years old. While band photos alone don't insure great music, they do indicate the vibe and aspirations of a band. The great part about CWKs is that they deliver music, which coincides with their presentation. The timeless soul that exists in this album cover, is present in every measure of a song.

The Content has been following Cold War Kids for a bit now, and there quick rise has been amazing to watch. Recently they played a benefit show, which they explain on their website. "
We got asked to do a Benefit at the District Lounge in Orange on September 24th with Dustin Kensrue and Chuck Regan. It was through the Breast Cancer Walk that takes place in Costa Mesa the last several years. We decided to play some covers that we like with Nathan singing and playing guitar, Jonnie on the drums, and Maust recording. It's a pretty informal loose performance but we decided to let you hear it anyway. Hope you enjoy!"

While all mp3s are available for download on their site, The Content thought we'd give you a taste of the show, to start things off.

[mp3] Cold War Kids - Fast as You Can (Fiona Apple)
[mp3] Cold War Kids -
I Don't Wanna Grow Up (Tom Waits)

Continue reading "Covers w/ Cold War Kids"

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Jeff Mangum's Bulgarian Field Work

I am a foreigner and I am free. Free to wander the streets, my shoes kick up dust as my feet begin to shake along the cobble-stoned walkways to the vibrating waves of women voices and hand drums pummeled with fists. Wrapping around corners I am met by armies of brass horns that aim their war cries in my direction. I am a wanted foreigner, wanted by the foreign melodies and harmonies of the villages of my ancestors. As I turn, it somehow seems that their ghosts are calling me back through the echoing sounds that fill this usually slow moving city. Changing directions, I run to the children singing, hooting, and yelping in the town square to the beat of my racing heart. Ba-dada-boom. Ba-dada-boom.

I can’t escape Jeff Mangum’s work. Hardly a week goes by where I don’t take the time to listen to some sound he has created, be it his crunched up schoolboy scream, his frantic strum, or his love affair with the girl whose diary chronicled one of the most horrific accounts of the capabilities of our human evil. Jeff has taken us into the depths of his heart and mind allowing us to delve into his consciousness and observe his fears and tragedies, his loves and his dreams. Yet of all that Jeff has taken part in, nothing has had the effect of walking alongside him as you both enjoy the music that has had such a strong effect on him over the years.

In August of 2000, Jeff had the opportunity to do some field work to record his experience over a three day period at the Koprivstitsa Festival in Bulgaria. These recordings would be mended together upon his return to give the experience as if the listener had actually attended the eastern folk festival. What resulted is a single, 35-minute track known as Volume #1 of the Orange Twin Field Works, a live recording that is actually alive with movements and observations that I have never found in the stale tape-recorded shows of some of our favorite bootlegs.

Samples of the Field Recordings:
[mp3] Jeff Mangum (Field Works)Bulgaria #1
[mp3] Jeff Mangum (Field Works)Bulgaria #2
Buy Volume #1 of the Orange Twin Field Recordings here.

A few people were looking for "My Dream Girl Don't Exist" so I decided to scrounge up my copy for those few seekers of tracks outside of Aeroplane and Avery Island
BONUS [mp3] Jeff MangumTwo Headed Boy Part Two (Live)
BONUS [mp3] Jeff MangumMy Dream Girl Don’t Exist (Live)

Continue reading "Jeff Mangum's Bulgarian Field Work"

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Remixing The Sun

The Sun never gets the credit it deserves. Without that ball of fire, Earth would have nothing to rotate around, and Key West would be full of icebergs. It's just too awful to imagine. Well, actually they made a movie about it called Dark City. Totally worth a Netflix.

Anyways, I forget myself. Remember The Sun? They released the first DVD album... kick ass songwriters... from Columbus, OH. Okay, glad we're on the same page. Yesterday I received a couple of goodies you all might enjoy. Since The Sun is off hibernating in the mid-west, trying to get their sophomore LP done, it seemed like a great time to dig into the remix/b-side bag.

These two Sun remixes are polar opposites in both style and length; however, each serves it purpose well.

On "The Stereo," Califone takes a hold of non-album track, and extends the hell out of it. Chris' vocals play hide and seek all song - dropping under a fury of guitars for minutes at a time. The middle five minutes, leave the listener lost, but happy. It exists as a tunnel that connects the opening and closing melodies. On the way into the tunnel, everything is calm and collected - the vocals crisp and quick paced. However, once through the darkness, a unraveled vocal melody soon spirals into background screams.

[mp3] The Sun - The Stereo (Califone Remix)

With a more traditional approach, Contradicktator remixes "Justice" by exploiting the beats, and sacrificing them to space aliens. The song is left with a stripped down, and metallic feel. Kind of makes you want to do the robot. Ironically the music video also dealt with space aliens, as well as an assortment of Asian women in their underwear.

[mp3] The Sun - Justice (Contradicktator Remix)

Dont have Blame It On the Youth? Get it here

Continue reading "Remixing The Sun"

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

After the crossroads with Peter Bjorn and John

Pop music gets a bad rap, and for the most part it is much deserved. Not only is pop music the simplest in form, it might also be the easiest genre of music to destroy. It is no wonder that so many of us get the taste of curdled mayonnaise water, in the back of our throats, when all those three chord, acoustic guitar slingers on Mr. Braff’s soundtracks attack our poor women’s hearts. It’s no wonder that artists are fleeing the modern pop song, for the pop foundations of years past. I’m talking about a retreat back to Phil Spector era heartache, when the Beatles sang stories for love struck teens trapped in their pubescent bodies, and lived off their parents’ dimes.

Yet, what Peter Bjorn & John have done on their wonderful new full-length, Writer’s Block, is take the old, familiar pop song from your grandparents’ jukebox, and mature it with questions about previous, present, and future lives. The lovesick puppy love has passed away and
the questions about that ring on your finger are ever present. They don’t really care about what those young folks are up to (or the old folks for that matter), because they have more important things to talk about. These are the pop songs for the ones who question the point they have come to in their life, the soundtrack for after the crossroads.

The question is was I more alive than I am now?
I happily have to disagree
I cry more often now
I laugh more often now
I am more me

[mp3] Peter Bjorn & JohnObjects Of My Affection
[mp3] Peter Bjorn & JohnYoung Folks
[mp3] Peter Bjorn & JohnYoung Folks (Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve Re-animation)
Buy Peter Bjorn & John at eMusic.
Writer's Block at Amazon.

Continue reading "After the crossroads with Peter Bjorn and John"

Monday, October 23, 2006

Beirut Melts Away My Jaded Soul

How did I get to this point? How could an event that once inspired my greatest joys and mental discoveries, become a flat and jaded experience? I'm not sure how it happened, but upon coming to this realization, I quickly changed my philosophy on live music. Quantity does not equal quality. Living in LA offers a steady stream of musical acts, but gluttony is not the answer. Choose your tickets wisely - kick Badly Drawn Boy to the curb, and hold onto Beirut with all your might. However, I am not here to discuss the sins of Badly Drawn Boy, but instead to preach the gospel of Beirut.

As Zach Condon swooned the audience with the blissful trumpet melody of "The Gulag Orkestar," the epiphany I mentioned above came into existence. With a breath of relief, I knew my love for live music was intact. From the rafters of the Troubadour, my thoughts clung to every note emitted from the stage, as my head swayed to the Eastern rhythm - a snake captivated by his charmer's pungi (thanks Wikipedia).

As a live act, Beirut notoriously bombed their first sold out gig in New York, but the cause was purely lack of preparation. On stage the band moved together as one, creating a full, romantic sound. Zach admitted that their transition between songs falls apart about five songs in, and true to form, it did. Luckily the LA crowd was strangely reserved, and keep most witless banter to themselves. A miracle I know.

Then their was "Elephant Gun." For some reason I was the only person to cheer when he announced this song. Has no one else had the good fortune of hearing this masterpiece? If this is the case, bypass the rest of this post and find the mp3 below.

The production on "Elephant Gun" is a treat for any Beirut fan. The opening ukulele progression brings me to the open field of Gulag Okestar. A slight breeze dances through the wheat shoots, as a voice addresses me. "If I was young, I'd flee this town, I buried my dreams underground. As did I, we drink to die..." As a small bird flies overhead, the familiar voice is carried with it. Zach's once hushed vocal production, has evolved into a crisp recording that melts my heart both on record and live. With "Elephant Gun," Zach adds a new dimension to his songwriting, without abandoning Beirut's base sound.

Not to be overlooked, the great Jeremy Barnes (of Neutral Milk Hotel) opened the evening with A Hawk And A Hacksaw. The Content has mentioned Jeremy's music in the past, and his live performance lived up to all expectations. A one man band of sorts, AHAAH features Barnes playing accordion, bells and drums all simultaneously (with the help of drum sticks taped to his legs and head), while Heather Trost accompanies him on violin. We were lucky enough to sit down with Jeremy and discuss life abroad, and the chances of a NMH reunion. Look for that feature to appear in the near future.

Two encores later, my evening with Beirut finally faded into memory. As you might have gathered by this point, the night was amazing. My advice is that when Beirut comes to your city - be there. Look for the release of Beirut's new EP, Lon Gisland, to be released in the next few weeks.

[mp3] Beirut - Elephant Gun

All photos by the one and only Braedon.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Beach House's vacation spot

Beach House could be quite misleading if you don’t know what you are getting into. Their name, a reminder of summer fun and sun, is actually quite distant from the sun filled months that many would associate it with. More so, Beach House, is that Montauk seclusion in Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind, where the waves break white upon a beach awkwardly covered in snow. It is in that house, alone with your lover, your friend, or your decomposing thoughts, that Beach House chooses to soundtrack the scenes for you. Victoria Legrand’s voice is that echoing memory in the attic, where Alex Scally’s instrumentation is the wind capped surface of the sea - calling her back to be with him. Completely encompassing in swirls and chimes, Beach House acts more as hypnotist than charmer, calmly and soothingly pulling you in to spend a weekend away from the busy lives that they know we all live.

[mp3] Beach HouseApple Orchard
Buy Beach House at
Check out some more music at their

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Sountrack For The A Borat

"My hobbies trampoline, table tennis, sitting on comfytobale chairs, disco dance and shoot dog. I also like look on picture of America things example swimmingpools. I like sex. I also like to speak on telephone - I have make over eighty conversation calls. One day I would like to eat a very big chocolate cake... with a toffee, and have my name 'Borat' made with 'toffee'. I also like to start fires." - Borat on Borat

The Content is ridiculously excited for the release of Borat, but November 3rd won't come fast enough. To tide us over, we have a couple tracks from the movie soundtrack. I'm sure you all remember "In My Country There Is A Problem."

[mp3] Borat - In My Country There Is A Problem
[mp3] Borat - Born To Be Wild
[mp3] Borat - You Be My Wife

Tobias Froberg Navigates the City

The beauty of Somewhere In The City, Tobias Froberg's sophomore LP, comes from its ability to travel without a road map. Throughout the album, Tobias continually remains "somewhere," while in turn allowing himself to be everywhere. By refusing to pin himself to one point on the globe, a pitfall of many current singer songwriters, Somewhere In The City builds upon itself with each song sung, yet remains seamless as an album.

The genre of post-adolescent, love sick, singer songwriter is full of some pretty sad characters. A virtual army of Zach Braff soundtrack clons, and shiver inducing artists like Cary Brothers and Joshua Radin. However, like a wirery boxer, Tobias is able to duck and dodge any such company, by creating a sound that jabs left every time you look right. This is especially true on some of his simpler song like "Oh My Love (Here She Comes Again)." The song simmers for a while, but suddenly a beautiful vocal melody ascends that brings the remainder of the song with it.

Tobias' Swedish origins also play a part in my experience with Somewhere in the City. Hearing a foreign perspective on songwriting keeps my eardrums fresh. I hear this most in "When the Night Turn Colds," which adopts a Jackson 5 vibe, but infuses the song with its own brand of soul.

Tobias' largest success comes in his ability to capture the essence of
Paul Simon. Song's like "God's Highway" and "Somewhere in the City' have the trademark chugging bass and storytelling vocals that make Graceland one of the greatest achievements in modern songwriting.

Nathaniel at IGIF first brought Tobias Froberg to my attention, and the album marks one of my first trips back into relaxing music. I had just come off a two month binge of Wolf Eyes, The Plot and Blood Brothers.

Enjoy the mp3 below and be sure to buy the album here or here

[mp3] Tobias Froberg - God's Highway

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Califone brings back the bayou, hides away the keys

The bayou beat has brought me back to life and with it the realization that the dust has collected upon the sticky sweat surface of my slumbering soul. My eyes open and I watch the room come to life, the dirt falling from the rafters upon the working units of spiraling gears and forgotten stopwatches, hidden souvenirs from yesteryears…

Califone’s latest release, Roots & Crowns, finds the band wrapping up their songs in limitless acoustic fine tunings and mechanical interactions. This mixture is so finely spun that there is no question to the reality between the actual finger workings and the digitally tweaking accessories that Califone puts forth – there is only the sound. Passing over this question of ‘how’d they do that?’ allows for a fully enveloped listening experience away from the usual squint and awe of usual technical production.

Roots & Crowns takes full strides in covering the emotional spectrum leaving room for the fearful and hidden as well as the humble and hopeful. “The Orchid” will be sure to claim the early Sunday morning lovebirds as they awake in armfuls of one another. “Pink & Sour,” with its encompassing beat that reverses direction without notice, is sure to escape from the decomposing wood of an overgrown bayou hut. If nothing else, Califone has shown that they are adequate at creating placement pieces, songs of template shifts guided by the steady compass of Tim Rutili’s voice. Oh how sweet a journey is Roots & Crowns.

CalifonePink & Sour

CalifoneThe Orchids
Buy Califone’s Roots & Crowns at eMusic with an exclusive bonus track “Ladders.”

I think Califone is the band that Iron & Wine was supposed to make an album with. I guess Calexico was close enough.

Arthur Nights Give Away!

I'm not sure how RC became so contest happy, but enjoy it while it lasts.

This time around it's a Los Angeles exclusive affair. We are proud to be offering a free pair of tickets to Arthur Fest for Saturday night, Oct 21st @ The Palace Theatre (630 S. Broadway)! The usual drill applies: write you fullname / email address in the comment box or send us an email to Arthur Nights is a great way to experience a group of amazing artists, and what better way to do it then without spending a dime.

Here is the official lineup for Saturday:

-SUN RA ARKESTRA11-piece Arkestra still going deep, now led by the great Marshall Allen
-OMreturn of Bay Area metal trance/mind expander duo
-WHITE MAGIClong-awaited return of Mira Bilotte's NYC-based syncretic-folk band, on the eve of the release of their spectacular new album
-MONEY MARKalways imaginative keyboardist/music man--best known for co-writing work with Beastie Boys -WATTS PROPHETSrighteous word jazz elders
-SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCEapocalyptic free-mind guitar & voice from Ben Chasny
-MICHAEL HURLEYlegendary mellow bard with a hint of wry
-JOSEPHINE FOSTER"She's a genius" - Joanna Newsom
-FUTURE PIGEONgalactic dance-dub heroism from local ensemble
-RUTHANN FRIEDMANShe wrote "Windy" and so much more--now returning to live performance at age 62!--she lived the '60s and she remembers it LIVING SISTERSjoyous acoustic trio featuring Inara George, Eleni Mandell & Becky Stark (Lavender Diamond), with special guest VAN DYKE PARKS
-MIA DOI TODDdreamy Pacific Rim singer/instrumentalist
-RESIDUAL ECHOESStomping West Coast rock attack unit
NVH & CHASNYnoize proj from Comets on Fire's echoplexist/drummer Noel Von Harmonson and guitarist Ben Chasny
-WOODEN WANDmercurial, provocative, prolific folk-rock dude in a solo turn

Plus: "Misplaced soul/funk hits" dance party DJed by the 20th-century pop archaelogists of THE NUMERO GROUP label from Chicago... They'll be spinning throughout the day, with special sets before and following the Sun Ra Arkestra....

PLUS: DJ sets by Dublab rats and Brian Turner (WFMU)

Access music from bands performing at this year's Arthurfest with MTVNetwork's new music service,

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Fresh Faced Artist: The Deadly Syndrome

In this post-Unicorns world I am pleased to have The Deadly Syndrome in my life. Their 4-song demo made it into the RC mailbox recently (it made it to JAX's house as well!), and although the disc doesn't break any massive musical barriers, it makes for a fun and infectious fifteen minutes.

Apparently the band emerged from the Los Angeles smog quite recently, and are coming out of the gates strong - with a slew of LA tourdates. The Deadly Syndrome are a conglomerate of indie rock's major players: a tablespoon of Wolf Parade, stirred slowly into a cup of The Shins, laid over a bed of The Unicorns,which makes for a tasty off-kilter pop appetizer.

What will the main course bring? We'll just have to wait and see what the chefs are preparing for us. Until then lets all feast on the finger-food, and support a talented LA band by getting out to their shows!

[mp3] The Deadly Syndrome - I Hope I Become A Ghost
[mp3] The Deadly Syndrome - Eucalyptus

Oct 19 2006 9:00P HELL YA (@ the Echo)
Oct 31 2006 11:00P Silver Lake Lounge
Nov 7 2006 10:30P Check Yo Ponytail (@ Safari Sam's w/ The Horrors)
Nov 9 2006 10:30P The 5th Wall @ Unknown Theater w/Castaneda
Nov 13 2006 11:45P Spaceland (w/ Let's Go Sailing)
Here's a clip from their recent show at Spaceland

Labels: ,

Monday, October 16, 2006

Johnny Rockets Gift Pack Giveaway

RC is getting crazy with the giveaways, so take advantage of it while you can! This time around Johnny Rockets has provided a nice little gift pack for one lucky winner. Here's what you get:

-JR Bear
-JR Thermos
-JR Lunch box
-Free Fry
-Free Shake
-105 free songs (at emusic)
(a $75 value)

To enter write your email address in the comment box or send us an email to

This contest will end on 11/27 so hop to it!

While your at it, check out the Johnny Rockets music site

Marie Antoinette Soundtrack Giveaway

Rewriteable is very excited for the release of Sofia Coppola's third film, Marie Antoinette (Oct. 20th), and what better way to show our excitement then by having a contest.

For the next week RC will be accepting comments (w/ email or myspace address) or emails (to from those wanting a chance to win the 2 disc MA soundtrack, MA pin and even some MA lipstick. Sorry about the lipstick gentleman. If you win, just give it to a special lady friend. Watch the trailer and check out the tracklist below- and good luck!

01. "Hong Kong Garden" - Siouxsie & The Banshees
02. "Aphrodisiac" - Bow Wow Wow
03. "What Ever Happened" - The Strokes
04. "Pulling Our Weight" - The Radio Dept.
05. "Ceremony" - New Order
06. "Natural's Not In It" - Gang of Four
07. "I Want Candy (Kevin Shields Remix)" - Bow Wow Wow
08. "Kings Of The Wild Frontier" - Adam & The Ants
09. "Concerto in G" * - Antonio Vivaldi / Reitzell
10. "The Melody Of A Fallen Tree" - Windsor For The Derby
11. "I Don't Like It Like This" - The Radio Dept.
12. "Plainsong" - The Cure

01. "Intro Versailles"* - Reitzell / Beggs
02. "Jynweythek Ylow" - Aphex Twin
03. "Opus 17" - Dustin O'Halloran
04. "Il Secondo Giorno (Instrumental)" - Air
05. "Keen On Boys" - The Radio Dept.
06. "Opus 23" *- Dustin O'Halloran
07. "Les Baricades Misterieuses"* - Francois Couperin / Reitzell
08. "Fools Rush In (Kevin Shields Remix)" - Bow Wow Wow
09. "Avril 14th" - Aphex Twin
10. "K. 213" * - Domenico Scarlatti / Reitzell
11. "Tommib Help Buss" - Squarepusher
12. "Tristes Apprets.." - Jean Philippe Rameau / W. Christie
13. "Opus 36"*- Dustin O'Halloran
14. "All Cat's Are Grey" - The Cure

Neutral Milk Hotel: A foreign introduction

My friend wrapped his hands around my neck as I jumped from train to platform. He cradled my shoulders as we walked past all the babushkas selling sunflower seeds around the corners of the train station, scattering the pigeons that were forming in packs. My overnight train ride from Omsk to Novosibirsk had left me distorted and woozy but the glittering disc that lay in the open hands of my friend awakened my senses.

The disc, a mixtape, shimmered in the summer sun with a children’s squiggle of the words “Neutral Milk Hotel” across its face. It wouldn’t be until a few years later that my relationship with NMH would solidify into an undying love affair, one that would go into the record books as the greatest listener-musician relationship to ever grace God’s green earth, one that would put Rob Burton (from High Fidelity) to shame.

It is apparent to anyone staying afloat on the blogs that Neutral Milk Hotel continues to garner attention and popularity despite having not released anything since 1998. The mystery of if anything will ever be put out again under the NMH stamp continues to draw speculation not necessarily as a result of a question but rather a hope, a hope that continues to grow with each listen of In The Aeroplane, Over the Sea.

As kind of an ode to that hope, the Content provides you with some of our favorite NMH b-sides and unreleased goodies. Enjoy. P.S. Jeff…I miss you.

[mp3] Neutral Milk HotelEngine
[mp3] Neutral Milk HotelLittle Birds (Live)
[mp3] Neutral Milk HotelGlue
[mp3] Neutral Milk HotelBucket
[mp3] Neutral Milk HotelSailing Through (Live)

Be sure to check out Beirut and A Hawk and A Hacksaw (Jeremy Barnes from NMH) this coming Saturday. No excuses.

10/21/06 – Troubadour (Beirut, A Hawk And A Hacksaw) (tix)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Candy Coated Kerosene

What do The Blood Brothers have in common with Modest Mouse?

My intended connection still remains in the hands of fate, since it requires that Young Machetes does for The Blood Brothers what Good News… did for Modest Mouse. However, if Johnny Whitney is correct in his assumption that songs off Machetes contain viable radio play, The Blood Brothers will join Modest Mouse as a band, once deeply embedded in the underground music scene, now violently sucked to the surface of the mainstream.

Will they survive the nitrogen bubbles once they reach the surface? You bet your sweet ass they will. This five piece of hyper-talented, spit in the face of the almighty dollar, youth are nearing the status of prolific, and they’re not letting some faceless kroq dj feed them to the lions. Their machetes are sharp, and Jordan and Johnny are about to “set fire to the face on fire!”

This post has been in the works for about two months now. The section above was written at the beginning of August, after reading an MTV interview with Johnny Whitney, and before hearing any of Young Machetes. Presently I'm not sure if my prior thoughts are relevant, since I've yet to hear "Laser Life" on any major media outlet; however, we'll see how the record sells this week. Most importantly the record is breathtaking, and let me tell you why:

Young Machetes is a continuation of the Blood Brothers' sparse, percussion-driven sound that originated on the band's previous effort, Crimes. Much of this is due to John Goodmanson staying onboard as producer, and the arrival of Guy Picciotto, also in the producer's seat. The album also keeps in step lyrically with all other Blood Brother releases - a collage of post-modernity nightmares, set to verse. While these similarities with Crimes could work against Young Machetes, the album is a testament of a band, in their creative zone, putting out great music.

The first single off of Machetes is "Laser Life." With it's groove inducing piano riffs, and rather pleasant chorus, "Laser Life"
actually has a good chance of breaking into mainstream media. The Blood Brothers last attempt at a single, "Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck," fell pretty flat ( despite my love for the song), so anything is possible. Either way it is a very strong "pop" song, with a waterfall drop ending.

Some of the highlights on the album are "Camouflage, Camouflage" and "Lift the Veil, Kiss the Tank." The former begins with an aggressive vocal assault, until
suddenly the floor gives out, leaving my eardrums floating in zero gravity. In this semiconscious state, a muffled piano introduces Johnny's crooning seranade, and together the pair lead me through a hazy evening in the city, in search of the other band members. Finally, the five piece is reunited and a cold chill runs down my spine. The Blood Brothers have broken new ground with "Camouflage," and my life is better because of it. The latter, "Lift the Veil..." is more straightforward, but is the most infectious track on the album.

I had the distinct pleasure of working on the set of their video for "Set Fire to the Face on Fire," and I can happily report that they were about the nicest humans I have ever met. Worked hard, never complained and made me laugh all day. What more could you ask for?

Please buy this album! Click here

[mp3] The Blood Brothers - Laser Life

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Hold Steady bring it to the kids

“I re-read On the Road by Kerouac a couple years ago, I saw this sentence, he is kind of talking about this farm girl he tried to make out with on a bus and she said no because he only knew her for like 20 seconds before that. And she goes ‘No, how can we? Stop.’ And he’s like, ‘Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together.’ And I was like, ‘That is what my record is going to be about.’” (via Fader)

Whoever said rock ‘n roll is dead might rethink that thought after taking a listen to The Hold Steady’s fantastic new album Boys and Girls in America. The album, packed to the brim with power chords and fist pumps, is a revelation to the contemporary rock scene with enough youthful, adlib, social commentary to rub elbows with the Boss. In fact, Boys and Girls might be better played next to Springsteen and Petty than any other release of the last year. Unlike the Hold Steady’s previous albums, the piano is turned up, the mock organ is rocking like a sold out Cubs game, and singer Craig Finn has traded in his speak-sing for more of a sing-song execution. And with all that they still are able to bring the guitars back in like a sledge hammer swing for destruction.

Take a listen to the bookend pieces of Boys and Girls in America. Everything in between is just as good. When Brandon Flowers talked about making “the best record of the last twenty years,” Boys and Girls in America might be what he had in mind.

[mp3] The Hold SteadyStuck Between Stations
[mp3] The Hold SteadySouthtown Girls
Buy Boys and Girls in America at eMusic.

10/14/06 – Detroit Bar (tix)
10/16/06 – Troubadour (tix)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sufjan Takes Flight At The Wiltern

I have officially forgiven The Wiltern LG for all its past sins. The place still has a stick shoved up its you-know-what; however, the experience of Sufjan Stevens' voice swirling off every wall in perfect pitch, made me want to hug every uptight security guard (even the one that made me spit out my gum). It was a night of flight, and Sufjan and his band had the wings to prove it.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me say a quick word about My Brightest Diamond. As Jon (aka THE_KING) expressed a little while back, MBD is the brooding soundtrack for a haunted soul. Shara Worden and her band looked like, in the words of Natalie, "Arcade Fire dressed up like the White Stripes." I thought they looked and played like something out of The Nightmare Before Christmas, with Shara's striking vocal range, and crashing guitars, accompanied by her red velvet dress and Christmas light mic stand. Their performance was an electrifying start to the evening, and one of the best opening acts I have seen all year.

After a quick stage rearrangement, Sufjan Stevens and his winged band manned their instruments, and soared into the rafters. Did I say band? I meant 11 piece orchestra. 2 cellos, 2 violas, 4 violins, 1 trombone and 2 trumpets. Not to mention a drummer, guitarist,Shara on guitar and vocals, and of course Sufjan himself. Through the soaring heights of "Chicago" to the low heartbreak of "John Wayne Gacy Jr.," Sufjan performed above and beyond my expectations. He was animated and talkative, but the music took priority, and the set was jam packed. To add to the joyous mood, a massive bundle of blow up Superman were thrown into the crowd during the show (as well as Santas!).

We even got to hear a jaw dropping new song called, "Majestic Snowbird." Bringing back the metaphor of flight, the song has a slow, but steady build that eventually spreads wings and leaves the nest. After attending a slew of small club shows, it felt good to take a seat in the mezz, and enjoy a concert that felt more like an evening of classical music. Don't worry, I'm not getting all stuffy on you - it was just a great change of pace.

Sufjan is definitely here to stay, and it will be fascinating to see what new directions he takes, and what State he records next!

[mp3] Sufjan Stevens - Majestic Snowbird
[mp3] Sufjan Stevens - That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!

We even ran into George "freaking' Michael from Arrested Development!!!

Photos by the always amazing Braedon

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sean Lennon fires friendly

Sean Lennon has always been an enigma. He has been hidden behind his father’s legendary status with great ambitions that were kept hidden behind his Hollywood hair and friendships, those circle glasses, and an audience’s disbelief that he really had the ability to step out of his father’s shadow. But with Friendly Fire any of this disbelief vanishes with Lennon’s ten lessons in songwriting that nod toward his father’s tunes as well as Elliott Smith.

The cogent melodies and structures that make up Friendly Fire are only the beginning to the grandness of this record. Taking eight years to record a sophomore album could seem a little pompous or lackadaisical, but these presumptions immediately fall flat in a first listen to the humble heartache that Lennon hushes throughout the record. These hushes are soft reminders that love is not an easy thing to hold on to, especially being the offspring of rock 'n roll royalty. The swarm of Hollywood starlets that wander in and out of the accompanying film, some of whom have been romantically tied to the singer, are a testament to how beauty isn’t everything if its something you can’t hold on to.

Sean LennonDead Meat

Sean LennonFriendly Fire

Buy Friendly Fire at Amazon.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Fox Rewrites History (Again)

Just as Bill O'Reilly's peculiar stench had finally been scrubbed off the walls of our site, Papa Bear went and did it again. If you remember my last venture to the land of "Fair and Balanced," you'll know that Bill has a thing for creating his own personal reality.

This time Bill decided that he'd had enough of Mark Foley, and decided to give Foley and his scandal to the Democrats. All it took was the click of a mouse, and millions of Fox's less informed viewers were given the wrong information. The mid-term elections sure bring out the best in people.

Can anyone tell me how the largest news outlet can get away with blatant misrepresentation?
It's beyond frustrating, and there seems to be zero accountability. All I can do to ease the pain is make a mixtape.

[mp3] The Blood Brothers - Wolf Party
[mp3] Bright Eyes - No Lies, Just Love
[mp3] Interpol - Evil
[mp3] Pearl Jam - Nothing As It Seems

Mark Foley Bonus Track:

[mp3] Junior Boys - In The Morning

Pawnshop Kings

Braedon went and saw Pawnshop Kings last week and this what the bandit photographer had to say:

There is something about the way Scott and Joel Owen sing that it makes sense they're brothers. The way their voices harmonize is perfect. These two brothers head up Pawnshop Kings and play all over Orange County and Los Angeles. Their long awaited, first full lenghth record is due out in 2 weeks.

Pawnshop Kings have their roots in a bit of southern rock, a bit of folk, and a bit of gospel. They're a band worth checking out.....

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fencewalking with The Decemberists

It was appropriate to see the Decemberists in cartoon form as they accompanied the packaging of their latest escape to the land of the lost. Lost what? Some seem to think that The Crane Wife is the best thing they have ever done while others don’t even want to talk about the malaise that this album brings about compared to their prior workings. Is this their “cartoon graveyard,” the colorful suicide of sound that they have been planning for our ears since the rumors of a switch to the big leagues?

It’s hard to say. The entire album enjoys a heavy story arch filled with tricks and trades that the Decemberists have hidden deep in their pockets. Prog-rock, modern fuzz, freakity folk, and extended Japanese lullabies make The Crane Wife different than anything they have ever done but that doesn’t necessarily mean good. I am on the fence as far as this album is concerned, especially after going back and listening to Castaways. If this leads to their death I am calling for a resurrection of “Leslie Anne Levine” and the shanties of old. Whose with me?

[mp3] The Decemberists – Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)
[mp3] Colin Meloy – Shankhill Brothers (Live)
[mp3] Colin Meloy – O Valencia (Live)
Buy The Crane Wife at Insound.

I know this might be yesterday’s news (or more like last year’s) but there really isn’t a more appropriate time to bring out a track from Colin Meloy’s former band, Tarkio. The band, a precursor to the Decemberist dream, is about as R.E.M. as Meloy has ever gotten. Stipe and the gang c
ould have easily backed “Helena Won’t Get Stoned” if Colin and the boys had only named themselves after a city that had more of a population than 10.

[mp3] Tarkio – Helena Won’t Get Stoned
Download Tarkio at eMusic.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Vice Guide To Travel

Vice exists as an example of what is possible for those with insight and ambition. Somehow they have created an empire out of a skate zine. With arms in music, film and print, Vice could look like Clear Channel on paper; however, nothing could be further from the truth. The punk ethic that started the first zine, is still the core foundation of Viceland.

"Pack your bags kids, we're going to Chad!"

The Vice Guide To Travel is the company's most ambitious venture yet, and the viewing experience is a fascinating and bizarre ride. The Vice Guide To Travel is a collection of anti-vacation video journals, hosted by Vice employees/correspondents. Instead of going to Paris looking for love, they go to Nueva Germania searching out Nazis.

In total (with the DVD extras) there are about 15 segments, which explore different aspects of our doomed world. It's astonishing the kind of deep access Vice receives in Pakistan and Beirut. These two segments, along with 'Buying a Dirty Bomb in Bulgaria" are the most powerful statements in the film. The hate between nations, capitalism on steroids and black market weapons are presented to the viewer through little to no filter, and the reality is terrifying.

A consistent theme running through the film is great music. Whether it's David Chloe playing drums in the Congo, or Black Lips just being amazing, the soundtrack is expertly crafted. One segment in particular that coupled great music with great images, is Shane Smith and Pella Kagerman's journey to Chernobyl to hunt radioactive boars. The soundtrack to this suicide trip is Panthers "Walk of Shame," and The Content has an exclusive clip for you . Panthers is one of the many great bands to come out of Vice Records, and a great addition to the soundtrack. They have a DFA1979 funk, fused with a !!! beat.

[mp3] Panthers - Theory of Famous
[mp3] Panthers - We Are Louder
[mp3] Panthers - Thank Me With Your Hands (MSTRKRFT Remix)

The strangest (or most disconcerting) element to The Vice Guide To Travel is its ambiguity. Each exploration ends with little to no resolution, and this becomes the intention of the stories. No one is going to stop black market weapons in Pakistan, or the conflict between Palestine and Israel. The world is going to Hell and it's just a question of who blows up who first. I hope this isn't true, but Vice has sure made a convincing argument for it.

Buy the DVD here

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Hawk And A Hacksaw – A story of impression

My fingernails have been outlined with dirt for over a week. The constancy of my movements have kept me from breathing effectively yet alone given me the opportunity to properly clean out the ground I have collected between Novosibirsk and Barnaul. Pausing, in between rock and tree, I stoop down to grab a thin twig laying between my ragged, muddied excuse for boots. With the twig, I carve away the build up while admiring the snow peaked Altai Mountains in the distance. I know I am close…

This fictitious account of a journey from yesterworld is a precursor to the foreign born montage of valinki, rivers, and gunfire that our lonesome traveler is about to encounter. Amidst a backdrop of villages where the babushki all grow old together, Jeremy Barnes (Neutral Milk Hotel, Beirut) and Heather Trost of A Hawk And A Hacksaw have crafted a world hidden far away from our western ears and eyes, one that is draped in the mysteries of Tsigani dance and Balkan brass. Where other artists bring these ea
stern epithets to the west, Barnes has taken a path less worn and traveled to the edges of Eastern Europe and villages bordering the Ukraine to write and record his new album The Way The Wind Blows. Reminiscent of A Silver Mt. Zion arrangements with Neutral Milk Hotel playing in the background, AHAAH brings together the ancient scales of the east with drunken chants that will export you far from any westernized anything.

[mp3] A Hawk And A HacksawGod Bless The Ottoman Empire
[mp3] A Hawk And A HacksawIn The River
[mp3] A Hawk And A HacksawA Black And White Rainbow (from Darkness At Noon)

AHAAH's new album The Way The Wind Blows comes out October 10. Pre-order your copy at Amazon right now. AHAAH is on eMusic.

10/21/06 - Troubadour (supporting Beirut) (TIX)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Bonnie "Prince" Billy - The Letting Go

The pixelating world finds no treasures in the soil. Existence is merely a play of smoke and mirrors inside these silicon motherboard highways. I am not speaking to you. I am not writing script. These are pixels. 0's and 1's. Will Oldham (aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy) was born from the dirt - among a field of crops. Daytrotter called him "So Unquestionably Human That He's Inhuman, Thereby Making Him Mystical And Perfect For Every One Of Our Funeral Services," which summed it up perfectly. There is no longer a place for people of this world - they have become inhuman.

If all these things are the case, then thank God for Bonnie "Prince" Billy, because the virtual world just isn't cutting it. The experience of listening to
I See a Darkness on vinyl is like no other. The spare, intimate vinyl pops that accompany Will's brooding voice, leave me transfixed on the floor every time. Now I listen to The Letting Go on my laptop, and I am astonished at how he is able to transform even this cold and distant medium into a vulnerable space.
With The Letting Go, BPB stays consistent with organic themes of love and loss; however, the albums production is more filled in and smoothed out than any prior release. In the same vein as Iron and Wine's Woman King, this more conventional production does nothing to damper the songwriting. The heavy addition of strings to the LP initially worried me, but it proved a perfect fit. The Letting Go is a much softer and lighter venture for Will, which seems connected to its more collective approach (the album was recorded in Iceland with Valgeir Sigurðsson). Although I might need to dig into Bonnie "Prince" Billy's back catalog for the solo haunts, this latest addition to the discography is Will's best release in several years.

[mp3] Bonnie Prince Billy - The Seedling (Day Trotter)
[mp3] Bonnie Prince Billy - The Seedling
[mp3] Bonnie Prince Billy - Love Comes to Me

LA dates:

10/22/06 McCabes Guitar Shop (Santa Monica)
10/24 The Smell
10/25 Malibu Performing Arts Center