Friday, October 28, 2005


My but it's been so long since we've seen each other. How are you? Did you get that toe looked at? I know the East Coast (and the Northeast particularly) have been rather sodden of late, but here in No Cali things continue to be rather nice. However, the inevitable winter rains are starting to rear their heads with a few showers here and there, more friendly waterings than anything but it's a reminder that the deluge will come. It's this nebulous transition time that has me listening to Picastro lately. The sound the band creaks out, which could be described as the gloomy cousin of Bill Callahan or a less fey more angry body builder Joanna Newsom, seems to fit the half cloud half sky days of late. Picastro is anchored by Liz Hysen who writes the songs and then sings them in a manner that suggests Hope Sandoval after 3 days in the desert. The band is guitars, drums and strings (cello, violin?) and plays an excellent compliment to Hysen's plaintive murmur. It sounds like a dark melancholy of sorts but the lyrics aren't really audible enough to make such an assumption true. Hysen could be singing about butterflies and first kisses. I don't know. Each song unfolds slowly, cautiously with a tension creating tentativeness. Good for the coming winter damp.

from Picastro's first album Red Your Blues on Pehr:

Fifth Wall


from 2005's Metal Cares on Polyvinyl:


P.S. I think the new Rogue Wave album is pretty amazing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Beautiful New Born Children...

The Beautiful New Born Children have a sound that belies the band's name. You may be expecting some synth focused new wave channeling dance band or perhaps a snappy indie pop out fit going the route of Belle And Sebastian. But what you get with their album (due Nov. 1) Hey People is all garage rock fire and brimstone. It's not a long record at just 9 songs in about 23 minutes, but what they lack in quantity they make up for with loud, passionate, fierce songs that don't necesarily give themselves over entirely to the garage band aesthetic but also seem to share common ground with the sound of the early The Jam. The sound of the band attacking their instruments with a sweat soaked abandon flows freely from the speakers. The sound isn't overly muddy, the production is crisp and, unlike a lot of the current crop of garage rock revivalists, the band seems to be relatively unselfconscious.

1 song from Hey People:

Paper Mill

Friday, October 21, 2005

live Old 97's...

Old 97's don't have a new record out per se. They've recently released a live album called Alive & Wired that consists of 30 songs on two discs recorded over 2 nights at a pair of shows in Texas. If you've ever seen Old 97's live you know that the show they put on has few equals. Old 97's are a band that gives the audience absolutely everything that they can. They're performances are inevitably sweaty, exuberant, exciting displays of what a band can do when they put their mind to it. I think many fans have been waiting patiently for the band to release a live record in the hopes that it will show those uneducated in the power of Old 97's the light. Well, I generally don't like live records. I think that they're often doomed by muddy sound and the lack of a visual element that's so important in a live show. I'm pleased to report that I'm quite taken by Alive & Wired. I placed it in the CD player with dubiousness painted across my brow but came out the other side with a smile plastered to my mug. Alive & Wired is unmitigated success as a live album. The sound is excellent, the band's love of what they're doing and passion for their material shines through. It's just fun to listen to. With Wilco set to release their live album on November 15th it should make for an interesting compare and contrast. Yes, i'm a geek.

2 songs from Alive & Wired:

Lonely Holiday

Rollerskate Skinny

In regards to last night's well intentioned debacle that was the SF Weekly Music Awards. Our Lady Of The Highway got robbed. Straight up. And Rogue Wave is gonna be make some fucking noise with the new record. Check it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Rosebuds...

So it seems that people may be paying attention to North Carolina's The Rosebuds, especially given their recent sparkling review of Birds Make Good Neighbors in Pitchfork. The Rosebuds are a husband and wife songwriting team that craft pretty pop songs that hide a certain lyricaly doleful uncertainty. I can't really describe it much better than that. The majority of songs are upbeat with a lot of interesting arrangements that push the songs towards a sparse sound, as opposed to something more lush and string heavy. But, unless I'm completely mishearing the lyrics, the songs hold a great deal of pessimism specifically regarding relationships and the inherent challenge of laying your heart on the line. What makes it interesting is thinking about the songs (and words) in the context of a band that contains and a husband and wife.

The Rosebuds are on tour so catch 'em if you can.

From Birds Make Good Neighbors:


In other news:

Check out a video from the Silver Jews Tanglewood Numbers

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Just finished writing a review of the new Metric album Live It Out. I'm left with the question, what pissed them off so much. I kid, a little. I completely understand why they're so pissed off. How can you live in this world given its current state and not be pissed off. You're playing head in the sand if you don't get a bit hot under the collar after reading the morning paper. So I guess Metric just decided to put that feeling on record. Unlike 2003's Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? which sounded upset only if you weren't dancing, the tone of the new record caught me a bit off guard. You're not going to find the bubbly, bouncy fun of a "Hustle Rose" this time out. No, Metric has turned up the guitars along with their tempers. This doesn't mean bad, it just means different. Instead of being beat centric the record is guitar heavy. It's a good listen and Ms. Haines' new political lyrics suit her just fine. I understand that they're blazing live. I've never seen them so I can't say, but I can very well imagine how the angular guitar power of the record would translate very well to a live setting. I, frankly, didn't care much for this record the first few listens but it's grown on me. There's something about the dichotomy of Haines' whisper of a voice, her accusatory lyrics, and the bombast of the band's sound that has brought me around.

from Metric's Live It Out:

Glass Ceiling

Get Live It Out HERE

Friday, October 14, 2005

Burnside Project...

More music from New York. Burnside Project does a good job of straddling alot of different genres. For those of us with musical ADD this can be very helpful. Sometimes they sound like everything that VHS Or Beta could've been had they followed up that EP with a better record. At other times they definitely sound like they're jumping on the dance punk bandwagon that The Rapture and !!! helped define. Of course, they're about a year and a half late if that's the tip they're on. Fortunately their relentless four on the floor beats get tempered by a really nice pop sensibility that makes their album The Finest Example Is You both danceable and listenable. The band's starting to get some attention but for the moment they still have the warm fuzzy feeling of a secret no one else (outside of NY) knows about. The Finest Example Is You may start changing that.

2 bouncy tracks to make your weekend prep go smooth:

And So It Goes

One To One

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Random Stuff but also Madness...

Do you remember Madness? Sure, you do. You remember "Our House" if nothing else. But for me Madness was, at one time in my life, everything. As I look back on it now I realize that Madness is/was the foundation of my existence as one that listens to music. I know that sounds a bit hyperbolic, but if it wasn't for Madness I would be a very different music lover. Those Nutty Boys from North London were my avenue into "alt" or "indie" or "whatever" music. While it may not seem as such today, back in High School listening to "One Step Beyond" was decidedly out of the mainstream. Anyways, Madness has new album of covers out that I've reviewed for Pop Matters. I've also realized that I hate reading my writing. Yech. It's a fun record but not earth stopping, nothing from youth ever is.

The new Minus Story is available. It's a damn good, idiosyncratic record. I've also reviewed No Rest For Ghosts. Did I mention I hate my writing.

Also noted this AM:

Both the new My Morning Jacket and Broken Social Scene are really good. I know, I know I'm an indie rock slut, but c'mon those records deserve their praise. In particular My Morning Jacket's Z is far better than the reviews that it's getting.

The good folks at Turn Records have announced their holiday show. It's December 9th at San Francisco's Bottom Of The Hill and will feature Thee More Shallows, The Dying Californian, Dealership and Calling All Monsters. Great line up, good label, go support. I'll see you there if not before.

1 song from Madness new The Dangermen Sessions Vol. 1. It's good to touch the past.

You Keep Me Hanging On - a Supremes cover.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Jason Molina...

Well Mr. Molina and Magnolia Electric Co. have released a nice little five song EP that compliments his recent What Comes After The Blues quite nicely. The EP is titled Hard To Love A Man (that song coming from What Comes After...) and attaches 4 songs with the title song. I assume that these are b-sides or outtakes or rarities. There's a cover of Warren Zevon's "Werewolves Of London" which is quite nice. For Magnolia Electric Co. it's more of the same. That's a blessing and a curse. If you liked What Comes After The Blues then you'll probably be satisfied with this EP. It's very much in the same vein of plodding hybrid electric/acoustic country rock jams polulated by heartbreak and dissatisfaction. While I do like What Comes After The Blues I do find that it drags a bit because a) the songs start to sound very much alike and b) the unrelenting heartbreak becomes oppressive for me. I contrast this to the live Magnolia Electric Co. shows I've seen which are loud, rocking, guitar heavy affairs, and I wonder why we don't get more of that on record. When Molina put out the live record Trials And Errors I was sure What Comes After... was going to rock and rock loudly. Not the case. So then I thought Molina might use the very flexible EP format to showcasee some louder more rockin' versions of those tunes or, at least, some interesting reinterpretations. Not the case. Hard to Love A Man is just more Molina plying the style that he seems to have settled into at this point in time. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I kinda feel like something has to give at some point. If you haven't seen Magnolia Electric Co. live you really should. Great show, far more powerful than the record.

1 song from Hard To Love A Man:

Werewolves In London

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday Special...

Since I've been such a lazy slag this week about posting I'll give you a Friday double up. Here's a brand new video from ADULT. straight from the Thrill Jockey vault. Enjoy the weekend.

In My Nerves - Video from Adult.

Amusement Parks On Fire...

Maybe you've heard the slight rumbling buzz about this band. It's certainly no Wolf Parade or Arcade Fire type buzz, but there's buzzing none the less. Amusement Parks On Fire is essentially one lad playing all the instruments on the record: drums, guitars, pianos, strings. What makes it kinda amazing is that the kid was only 19 when he made the album. What you hear immediately upon playing Amusements Parks On Fire is how well he's absorbed the lessons of Kevin Shields and My Bloody Valentine and the Reid brothers with Jesus And Mary Chain. It would be unfair to simply label Amusements Parks On Fire as a mere imitator, because while there's defiintely a note of plagiarism here there's also a keen ear for sonic detail, melody and song contruction. Given the age that we're talking about (I think I was still stunned that I was having sex at age 19) the potential for greatness lurks. I've really been enjoying this record of late (I've only had it about 4 days), it reminds me of being a younger music fan and that always feels good to my cynical ass.

1 song (there are only 9) from Amusement Parks On Fire:


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Leeroy Stagger...

Leeroy Stagger exists in that singer songwriter on the country tip world that's populated by folks like Ryan Adams and Tim Easton. He writes clever catchy songs with good hooks and hummable melodies. Just my style. I recently heard some folks doing the Ryan Adams comparison, I don't know if it stands up or not. You can decide, I definitely think he falls more towards Mr. Easton on the alt-country scale of things.

Couple of songs from Leeroy Stagger:

Just In Case

Slowly Sinking

Monday, October 03, 2005

Harvey Danger...

I'm sure you remember these guys since they had one of the most ubiquitous songs of the 90's in "Flagpole Sitta". Catchy little number for sure. It's stuck in my head to this day and god knows I've drank enough to kill it over the last 10 years. Anyway, I get their latest in the mail for review the other day, my first reaction, obviously, is to think, "hmm, these still together?" Well, it seems that Harvey Danger has been active. After the "Flagpole Sitta" heights they fell a bit with their follow up King James Version which I honestly haven't heard. Well here we are six years later and this record Little By Little limps across my desk like a stray pup looking for a home. Of course, I'm making things dramatic for effect. It has been six years since their last album but I don't think they've been working at Burger King or anything. I wasn't sure what to expect from Little By Little but I'm pleasantly surprised. The new sound of Harvey Danger seems part and parcel of the current piano based indie pop phenomenon. (perhaps phenomenon is a bit too strong a word, but something's going on here). I'm talking Coldplay, Keane, Spoon, et al. These bands are like the bastard seed of what was planted by Billy Joel and Elton John so many years ago. Well, Little By Little is very much in this vein. I might even argue (I can hear my blogger profile being burned in effigy) that it's as good as Gimme Fiction though in a more pop way.

The odd thing about Little By Little is that the song they're using as a single "Cream And Bastards Rise" is not at all indicative of what the rest of the record sounds like. I guess they're trying to hook the whole "Flagpole Sitta" crowd. Whatev.

I'm posting my favorite track from Little By Little, but if you follow links and pay attention you'll see that you can download the whole album off their website for nothing. nada. zip. They'll give the bitch away if you can take the time to bittorrent the bugger. I must say that the packaging is excellent and comes with a bonus disc with some interesting stuff thus making it worth a purchase.

War Buddies