Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Paul Duncan...

Home Tapes is a fine record label devoted to song craft and interesting quality work by neglected artists. Spend some time checking out everyone on their roster though today I'm concentrating on Paul Duncan who says this about himself:

Paul is one of the greatest friends we will ever have. Born in East Texas, moving to Savannah, Georgia (where we met him), a brief stop in Atlanta and then on to his current residence in Brooklyn, Paul has racked up a few miles and experiences. We share with Paul: similar musical tastes (from Christoph Heeman to Metallica [Master of Puppets-era]), culinary preferences, knowledge of Southern dialects, sayings, and accents (Hometapes is originally from Arkansas, if you've been keeping track), and he has a Hometapes-compatible sense of humor. What more could we ask for? As a side note: Hometapes exists because he made too good of a record to not get widespread release, thus the need for a label. Good one, Paul.

Now for some answers from Paul himself...questions asked by Hometapes.

Where are you from? Does/How does your history define you?

i grew up in texas with country tunes and white college hats that i suspect if you turned inside out become dale earnhardt confederacy advertisements . best to all of them. a more important childhood memory to me lately, geographically, is going to visit an aunt in Arkansas with my mother. beautiful country out there. she had lots of land and a nasty little chicken farm. i learned about expiration at an early age.

Where are you now? ...and if you'd like to answer: Why?

brooklyn, moved here about 2 yrs ago... can you find sincerity in walls of mirrored glass? can you find it in the sky seen through pine trees even? ...


Why do you do what you do?

i make music because i still haven't done what i want to do. i make music because i can't travel without wishing i was just back home working. i make music because there are some loves that become onerous. i make music to tell others how i feel about them and usually fuck that up and end up telling myself how i feel about myself. i make music to appease the devil in me. he never sleeps.

Tell us about your musical history. What have you made up until now?

i've completed 2 records under my name and currently collaborate w/ the band Daylight's for the Birds, playing bass, going to the studio to write/record. played guitar on the 1st Feathers record, collab'd w/ Roberto Lange a few times, i'm always working to make my side project, Legs, w/ my roommate / bandmate Joe Stickney, see the light of day and am starting a band w/ James Elliott and David Daniell who run the label Antiopic. collab'd with Shedding (Connor Bell) on some unreleased material to be called Won Arm. ...etc

Think about your favorite artists. Think of a question you'd like to collectively ask them. Now, ask yourself that question and write down your answer.

i usually use arm and hammer mint toothpaste and usually wake up with grey tea, not coffee.

Discuss avant garde/experimental vs. pop.

in my eyes there should never be a "Vs.", never a battle. i see them glancing, batting eyes from across the room, playing footsie under the dinner table and i want them to get a room. i'll play matchmaker. of course they'll have cute little lover's quarrels, but it's natural and besides they have kids to think about. they'll just have to stay together and work it out.


I recently got a hold of Duncan's most recent release (I believe it just came out earlier this month) called Be Careful What You Call Home. It's an excellent blend of well written pop tunes and avant experimentalism. The best trait Duncan exhibits on the record's 13 songs is his ease in blending the common and the odd. All his songs rest on a foundation of pop melody and construction but he allows in just enough random noise or laptop sizzle or quirky instrumentation to both augment and undermine that foundation. I've been enjoying it very much.

from Be Careful What You Call Home:

Oil In The Fields

In A Way

Monday, November 28, 2005

Still Pretty Random...

Hope everyone had a good holiday. I'm still a bit scattered after so much time off so pardon the complete lack of focus with this post. My personal airwaves are still dominated by the breathy confessions of Mike Kinsella (Owen, American Football) with Wilco's Kicking Television controlling a surprising amount of my time.

This is a very cool thing: Pandora go play with it. Caution: it can kill a lot of time really quickly.

From Kicking Television:


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Few Pleasant Surprises...

The first pleasant surprise is that I realized today that I've been keeping this blog in production for 1 year. I'll call today my one year anniversary, a bit arbitrary but that's about par for the course.

The second pleasant surprise is discovering a single brilliant pop song while trolling the internet for brilliant pop songs. More often than not I'm left disillusioned and dizzy from to many pop up ads for Zoloft, but not today. Thanks to the folks with the good ears at Monitor Records I found a song by a band called Hudson Bell that's a swirly mess of fuzzy guitars hiding a picture perfect pop tune. A nice surprise on a slow day at work.

from Hudson Bell's When The Sun Is The Moon:

Atlantis Nights

Enjoy Thanksgiving. Remember to be thankful for something at least for a moment.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Pacific Ocean Fire..

I know I've been a bit out of touch lately but, c'mon, it's not like I'm getting paid to do this and besides today's my birthday and still I take time to bring you the goods. Whatever those goods may be. Near as I can tell Pacific Ocean Fire is a brit band that plays a sorta twisted folk country rock deal. The songs tend to squirm and crawl towards their resolution, breaking, gathering, marching on, sometimes sounding very traditional, sometimes sounding like an experiment in awkwardness.

Aside from Pacific Ocean Fire check out the other bands on Smokey Lung Recordings which claims to bring us the very best in analog rock. It's clearly a small label fighting the good fight for good music. Buy direct from them if you can.

2 songs from Pacific Ocean Fire's self title debut:

Mistakes And Lucky Clover

This Day Is Shot

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Black Sheep Boys Redux...

Arriving on Nov. 22 is Okkervil River's Black Sheep Boy Appendix a 7 song EP of sorts that acts as a nice little addendum to the record. Of course Black Sheep Boy will probably be my record of the year so anything new by Okkervil is always welcome. What's surprised me with "Appendix" is how strong and developed the songs are. With an after thought EP you usually get some interesting B-sides and outtakes, maybe a demo version of a song on the record, but "Appendix" is a complete reimagining of the BSB aesthetic. The songs are lusher full of strings and beautifully odd touches. It's such a well realized set of songs that I can't really figure out if these are BSB outtakes or left over songs that were rerecorded between tours with a fresh eye. Whatever. It's good. Perhaps my general love for this band is blinding me a bit but this EP is easily as engaging at the record.

1 Song from "Appendix":

Black Sheep Boy #4

In other news: I love the new Wilco live disc. I haven't been paying much attention to Tweedy and Co. for the last 2 years but this record has me back in the fold. Disc 2 is particularly nice.

In regards to my last post on Owen, I'm now obsessing on Mike Kinsella. I don't want that to sound weird but I Do Perceive and the EP are takin gup an inordinate amount of my listening time. His former band American Football ain't bad either.

Monday, November 14, 2005


I got hipped to Owen through Dominic East (who rocks the mic so well for Our Lady of the Highway. With connections to both Joan of Arc and American Footabll you might expect some hard driving rock, but Owen is the solo project of Mike Kinsella and when one is holed up at home with instruments and an 8 track things tend to get a little more melancholy. The songs that i've found are quiet introspective affairs anchored by Kinsella's slightly pitchless voice. His voice is very expressive but he's not singing as much as creating a mood with his voice. I found a couple of Owen tracks on various Polyvinyl Records compilations but don't have the album yet. Been digging these songs this weekend though.

2 from Owen:

Who Found Who's Hair in Who's Bed

She's A Thief

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Brendan Benson...

Despite the fact that I absolutely loved Lapalco it's taken me a ridiculously long time to get around to picking up Alternative To Love. And guess what? I'm a little disappointed. If you liked Lapalco you'll probably like Alternative To Love. This time out Benson concentrates a bit more on his guitar playing a bit at the expense of those beautiful harmonies. If you listen to the indie rock at all you'lve probably heard the single "Cold Hands (Warm Heart)" already. A pure nugget of pop goodness it's as good an example of what Brendan Benson does so well: craft sing-a-long choruses full of hook and melody. But it's the high point of the album. I'm fond of todays' song but it doesn't get me nodding the head the way Lapalco does. It's not bad, it's just not great. Still tons of potential in Mr. Benson.

1 song from Alternative To Love:

What I'm Looking For

Monday, November 07, 2005

Sun Kil Moon...

I absolutely loved Sun Kil Moon's Ghosts Of The Great Highway. Mark Kozeek did something really special with that record. I think a lot of people have been waiting patiently to see what would come next, I don't think anyone expected Tiny Cities. Consisting entirely of Modest Mouse covers the record is imminently listenable. While none of the songs are Kozelek's he has succcessfully, as he's done with other covers projects, given the songs a unque personal reading. It's easy to forget that you're listening to someone elses songs interpreted, not originals. That's perhaps the best praise you can give to a covers record. Kozelek, at the best points on Tiny Cities, makes me forget the original song. An odd but wonderful release.

1 song from Tiny Cities

Never Ending Math Equation

Purchasable HERE

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Some Soft...

Check out a song from Soft's just released ep. Pretty good swirling shimmering indie rock:


You can find 'em over HERE

Mendoza Line...

Have you gotten a taste of the new Mendoza Line yet? It's called Full Of Light And Fire and it's pretty damn good. If you're used to Mendoza plying a slightly tainted alt country ground you may not recognize the band. They're way more rock on this record. Rock in a Replacements, Stones, even Dylan kinda way. Not that their dustier americana leanings are completely gone, but I'd say they've definitely been subverted by the a more straightforward blues based rock sound. It sounds good on them as well. Shannon McCardle in particular is in excellent form. Her voice keeps getting better and better. If you enjoyed the slightly mellow but indie rock stylings of their Slow Dazzle side project don't expect this record to follow in dreamy suit, there's simply more rockin' and less navel gazing.

After all the talk of rock I'm posting one of the mellower songs on the record (why must I make it so difficult?) simply because I've listened to it 4 times today already so I must like it. You'll just have to trust me about the rawk. I haven't touched on the overtly political/critical nature of the record, but that's there in spades.

from Full Of Light And Fire to be released Nov. 22 (my birthday incidentally):

Settle Down, Zelda

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Arizona Amp & Alterator...

Crap. How'd it get to be November and I've got no posts this month. Busy. Neglectful. Forgive me. I don't have anything sparkling new today so i'm posting on Howe Gelb's Arizona Amp & Alternator which was touched upon by the always excellent Songs Illinois. But it's what i've been listening to lately and I'm too tired to play the cooler than thou i've got the new releases before they're released game that I find myself doing sometimes. So this is what's been playing in the vehicle lately. I can't claim to be a huge Gelb fan, I think he's too self consciously oddball and that bugs me. The cool thing about AAA is that Gelb has brought Scout Niblett on board to sings She's kinda sexy cool and she lives in Oakland now. Her immaculate voice just kinda creeps in and out of Gelb's, hunts through the picking strings, soothes the rough spots. I think the song "Blue Marble Girl" is fucking excellent. I'd drive with my eyes closed while it played in the car if I could. Hope your well.

from Arizona Amp & Alternator's self titled album:

Blue Blue Marble Girl