Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Poet Named Revolver

I read lots of music blogs, I spend way too much time on the internet but despite that the music I listen to most is usually recommended to me by people I know and trust in real life. I got A Poet Named Revolver Meets Gruesome for my friends in Bloomington, IN's Dust From 1000 Years last time they stopped through Albany on tour. They left me with a stack of cds from bands they had found while on the road and this album came at the top of their list of recommendations.

When I got the CD it was just a burned copy so I didn't know any of the track names (I still don't know most of them) or what the record was called or what the art looked like. I listened to it a couple times without thinking about it and found that I had songs stuck in my head but I couldn't figure where they came from. It took me a couple weeks to stumble upon it again and find that these were the songs that got stuck in my head(ex meadows in particular). The album is one part the microphones, a half part at the drive in a good dose of Simon Joyner. There is an immediacy and desperation in the songs that really take you into another world for a while, for example the fade in opener ExMeadows puts the listener on the run from what seems like the end of the world. Postwar Pop takes a more folk but yet abstract approach to the end of a city.

Unfortunately A Poet Named Revolver has already decided to call it quits. We think its a shame but are glad for the one record they did make, it is awesome, you should listen to it. You can buy it from here.

mp3:Poet Named Revolver - ExMeadows
mp3:Poet Named Revolver - Postwar Pop
Myspace

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yo La Tengo + Broken Social Scene Live at Cornell

As usual I was running late to see Yo La Tengo and Broken Social Scene(presents Kevin Drew), but I did get to drive down rt 89 on the way which had a very pretty if somewhat dark view of Cayuga Lake the whole way. I highly recommend it, I bet its even better in the day time.
I'd like to admit before I start really get into this post that I've never really listened to either of these bands all that much despite both of them being somewhat iconic in the indie rock world and the fact that this show provided the one chance to see them together on what are otherwise separate tours, seemed like a good opportunity to check them both out.

I missed the beginning of Yo La Tengo's set and by the end of it I felt like that wasn't all that I was missing. I really just don't get whatever it is that they were getting at in there set which ended with about a six minute songs who's lyrics were mostly "Lets talk about nuclear war, yeah". Thats not my main gripe though, mostly the set seemed to me just sort of uninspired. In my past experience though bands don't get signed to Matador Records or last more than twenty years for nothing and I am willing to bet I really am missing something here, so I would ask you dear reader to please help fill me in. If I was going to put one (of the fifteen) Yo La Tengo records on my mp3 player to give my self a chance to see what they are all about which one would it be and why?

Broken Social Scene on the other hand who I also didn't know too much about before hand was awesome. They put on a rip roaring show all the way through (there were no ballads and no female members, I don't know if there was any correlation) and got the whole crowd to hug itself, literally. Their new record Spirit If is quite good and I have also since been directed to their classic You Forget it in People which I would also recommend.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mt Eerie live at Bard

After my ride got pulled over by a cop on the way to pick us up for Mt Eerie last monday we were running late & worried we would miss the beginning of the show. Fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, Phil's car broke down and after a string of bad luck he showed up at the packed hall at around 11pm looking exactly like he does in this picture.

He had just sold his trusty tour mobile for 100$ to a mechanic and had a rental car he could barely fit all his gear and merch in. He had admittedly had a really bad day and after telling everyone about it he announced he was going to do an all request show!!! Everyone started spasticly screaming the names of songs. Having not seen him before he played the best hour and a half set I could have hoped for including a slew of my favorite old microphones songs off the Glow Pt 2, including I want wind to blow straight into the glow part 2, the moon and he ended with sing along versions of I can't believe you actually died and Human Human. Lucky for me I had my handy mp3 player to record the whole thing.

I've heard that he rarely plays stuff off the glow pt 2, I'd be really interested to hear from anyone else who has seen him on this tour about what he played when you saw him.


mp3: I want wind to blow + The Glow Part 2 (live @ bard 11/5/07)
mp3: Solar System
mp3: Great Ghosts
mp3: 2 Blond Braids

You can check out his new expensive(60$) but worthwhile album/picture book/disc over at pwelverumandsun.com .

Here are a couple of my recordings i have mastered a little, if you are interested in getting the whole set drop me an email at am3081 at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Anathallo, Your happy makes me go...


It has been a long hiatus since I last visited the 3 Benson blog. And although this visit will be short, I could not pass up on the opportunity, for I felt it more of an obligation, to write about Anathallo, that seven member band that filled my ears with melodies and harmonies sweeter than any sweet joy this past Sunday eve at Valentine's in Albany. Anathallo hails originally from Michigan, so I hear, and now is based out of Chicago. They have but two shows remaining on this tour, as listed on their myspace page: October 30th in Holland, Michigan and November 9th in Muncie, Indiana.


You can find some of their music at their myspace:
But don't even think you can begin to understand this band by listening to their recordings. Their studio recordings can't capture half of the energy these guys and gal emit from the stage. You can't see the giant marching band drum that is played more like a sport than an instrument. You can't experience the chills from their sometimes seven part harmonies, for though they harmonize nicely on the recordings, it's nothing like seeing them do it flawlessly live.

Their recordings don't show off what incredibly talented musicians these guys are either. Though the recordings of their multi-part songs melt and flow into one another in true indie fashion, where melodies end abruptly only to introduce an even more meandering and melodic section of the song, coming from seemingly out of the blue, we all know how handy recording instruments are at aiding in these effects. To see these songs pieced together live with all the skill of a conducted orchestra, that still has the energy of a band of friends goofing off on stage, is something to grin until your cheeks hurt at, shake your head in awe at, have band and choir teachers everywhere pointing out to their students that "this is what you can do if you stick with it", and send musicians everywhere back to the drawing boards.

If you could take Belle and Sebastian and put them in a blender with a choir and a school band, you would get Anathallo. They are talented, they are spellbinding.
See them live.




Sunday, September 23, 2007

If You're Not Happy Where You Are, You'll Never Be Happy Where You Go


It's A Crab's Life

If you tuned in back in March, then you may have caught a story about Jon of the Atom's life in Groton, New York. In that cold and blustery month he was a mad scientist; stirring his dark stew, adding frog lips and hog hair to his steaming cauldron. He was on the brink of a remarkable new musical discovery, or was it aural hysteria?

Sometime around mid-May he opened the door, the fresh country air poured in and overwhelmed him. He gathered a few necessities and headed for the hills. After a short trek he built a shelter of twigs, and traded in the maniacal steps of a scientist for the slow amble of a mountain recluse. He played Elvis and Hank Williams songs in his cabin to the attentive ears of the local fauna. Squirrels, foxes, deer, sparrows and chickadees were all regular sites around his abode and soon they joined forces to help Jon create his latest masterpiece, "Critical Mass: Flying Things vs. Crawling Things".

He would stumble into town now and then, with a new moustache and view of the world. The folks there never expected to see him but we're never surprised when they did. They knew he was harmless, and only wanted to trade his wares for a few kind words, a whiskey sour, and a good nights rest on the couch.

I heard rumor that he will most likely release his new creation upon the world in 2011, most likely the day of the apocolypse. I traded two Little League baseball bats, 16 cherry tomatoes, and a bail of twine for a copy of the disc, and I believe it was well worth it, though I've now resorted to using brooms and pears to get my baseball fix.

You can find some good things to trade to him for his new disc, or go to his Myspace and ask politely for one, though none of the songs from the album are up as his songs as of now, he doesn't get very good wireless in his twig hut.

JOTA's Myspace

mp3: Jon of the Atom - Ducks Flying By
mp3: Jon of the Atom - Moths at the Bug Zapper


Disclaimer: This post went no where and was entirely made up. He was never a mad scientist (to my knowledge), and (to my knowledge) has never been any sort of wilderness recluse. He lives somewhere in mid-Western New York, and occasionaly sleeps on my couch. Flying Things vs. Crawling Things has been on a steady rotation in my room. I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Animal Collective: Strawberry Jam

Other blogs are probably writing better reviews on this album than I ever will, but seeing as how I haven't posted in a while ( and there isn't anything else that I've listened to that has been worth writing about) here we are.

I've always felt like the fairest way to review Animal Collective is to have a rather ambivalent attitude towards them; most people you ecounter or either Animal Collective fanatics or they don't have the patience to sit and down and figure out what this band does. Speaking as an ambivalent listener (in all honesty I can typically take or leave AC) Strawberry Jam is probably the most accessible record from these guys to date. However, they are good enough at what they do to maintain the eccentricities and complex time signatures that have earned them so much respect in the music world. This album is much more poppy than their previous work and differs a lot from their last release. Feels was very spacey and introspective, Strawberry Jam has a much more jubilant, melodic vibe. The songs are almost (dare I say it) catchy. Longtime listeners will appreciate the fact that Animal Collective have not lost their original sound at all when making this record, they've really just enriched it and taken it another direction. What I've always found interesting about AC is how they really don't sound like anyone else, it's as if they come from another dimension, all of their songs could very easily be songs from a distant planet. Animal Collective is one of the very few bands that successfully pushes the creative borders in a way that keeps one interested without getting too annoyed with their pretentiousness. (Because lets be honest, of COURSE they're pretentious.) Avey Tare's vocals only add to the very surreal feel of the band, sometimes his voice can be hard to really get into, but I think it meshes with what this group is all about very well.

Regardless, Strawberry Jam is a good album, it has something for both the faithful listener and the newbie. If you want to read a more specific review of this band I'm sure you will figure out a way to do so, all I am really trying to say here is that I think this a record that truly deserves a listen. Love them or hate them, Animal Collective is a band that consists of some of the most innovative talent of the current music scene. Give them a try if you haven't already.

http://www.myanimalhome.net/


http://www.myspace.com/animalcollectivetheband

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Ants go Marching

Mirah And Spectratone International - Community

I saw Mirah in chicago this summer and along with playing all of my favorite songs that she has ever written she played small snippets from her new album Share This Place and asked the crowd to guess what each song was about. Community the first song on the album is a beautiful meditation on selflessness and community. Ants of course can't think, well at least about themselves but as a group do some really impressive things. The wonderful wisdom of having no wisdom.

[Website][Myspace][Buy]

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Memories of a Muddy Cup Open Mic



It didn't dawn on me the first time I went to an open mic at Muddy Cup that the event was in its infancy. I was new myself and felt like an outsider looking in through gigantic windows while old friends strummed guitars, sat on couches, and sipped mocha lattes like they must have been doing there for centuries.


It didn't dawn on me that attending that Open Mic would change the course of my life's events forever, for I stumbled upon the Muddy Cup Open Mic somewhat by accident -or perhaps it was the forces of musical fate that were having their way that day. Either way, the Muddy Cup lured us into it's grasp, and hasn't let go.

Having grown up in Albany, yet only having just returned after a long hiatus, Eric and I forced ourselves to the streets, looking for something to do one August evening back in good ol' 2006. Eric decided to surprise me by taking me out to see a film about farmers playing at the Madison Theatre. But, as often occurs when Eric surprises me by trying to take me out to an event, we realized upon arrival that we had arrived on the wrong day...it's kind of a cute quirk of his, his dyslexia. Silly numbers.

But instead of taking our newly purchased champagne colored Honda Station wagon (which at the time had only 187,000 miles on it instead of the 194,000 it does now.... they grow up so quickly!) all the way back to Altamont so we could sit beside the energy of the unfamiliar ghosts we had just moved in with, we decided to grab a cup of joe at the coffee shop next door.
Before we even made it inside a giant poster on the window caught our attention.

MUDDY CUP OPEN MIC MONDAY
SIGN UPS AT 8:00
"Can we go Jenny? Can we?"

I was hesitant about making a mental note of the date and the time, it was rare that I had a positive experience at the various open mics I'd ever been to. I almost wanted to leave it up to Eric to remember the details, and hope his dyslexia would rear it's ugly (but, on occasions like this, helpful) head. I couldn't help the painful images entering into my brain. Memories of open mics rushed back in a flood of crooning, self depricating, and off time strumming musicians that shattered my calm, sprinkled on top were crass bathroom comedians and dark eyed "the-world-is-at-its-nearest-end-at-this-very-moment" poets. I shuddered.

But surely, this open mic would be different.

"Excuse me, sorry to bother you, but we need to set up here." I looked up to find myself engrossed in my book, sitting at the table on the Open Mic stage. How dreadfully embarrassing. I had "freshman" written all over my face. I was so busy feeling akward I didn't notice how akward everyone else looked. It's like the first day of class when you're so busy feeling stupid about studying your class schedule that you don't notice that's what every one else is doing too.

I spent the rest of the night in a haze of dark roast aromas, the drone of tuning guitars, the energy of caffeine-high-wracked-nerves, and attempted to read the same paragraph of my book over and over and over again.
Had we gotten in over our heads?

Suddenly Eric was on stage singing...and dancing?
"I can't believe that it's August, I can't believe we can fly. I can't believe I can't believe, and I have no good reason why. I feel like I am enlightened and I'm in over my head."

And the next thing I knew, from the corner of my eye I spotted these crazy hobos, who by the third verse were singing along...

"Whoo hoo, Whoo hoo. Yeah we're in over our heads. Whoo hoo, whoo hoo...
Yeah, we're in over our heads."

Muddy Cup Open Mic celebrates its one year anniversary...sometime around now.
The weekly event is more popular than ever, having just been voted 2nd best open mic in Albany, with an average of over 25 acts signing up each Monday.
Sometimes it feels good to be in over our heads.

Kudos to you Josh & Tom.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Open the Book to Page France



For at least the last eight months I have been hearing the band's name being thrown around or praised a number of times and I finally took some initiative and sought out some of their music. Although Page France have just released an album titled "... And the Human Telephone", their 2005 release "Hello, Dear Wind" is the one I chose to listen to. Or did it choose me? Either way, to my pleasant surprise, I was instantly keen on their melodies made for humming and lyrics which caught my ears with sonic fishing hooks. Each song floats along, sometimes sleepily, other times merrily, with the vocalist (and "brain child") Michael Nau's smooth and earnest lullabies (akin to Ben Gibbard) backed by an acoustic guitar and various added elements and instruments that can't help but work so well together. There's a somber yet joyful air to the music of Page France. This inability to settle feels appropriate for the over riding theme of religion and the main man upstairs J.C. "Jesus" even has a star role as the title of track two. Many allusions and blatantly biblical references are found throughout "Hello, Dear Wind", which with other artists can be sore to listen to, when you start to feel like your mother is in your headphones nagging you to go to church again, but Page France are not preaching. Without the reinforcement of being a firm believer I found solace in knowing Page France is asking the same questions we all do. My favorite line that puts it all in perspective is found on "Dogs" where Nau confesses "I'm not sure what happens when everything here ends, but I hope it's like they say, and I hope it never ends..." To be realistic, sometimes one must come to terms with and embrace the universality and absolute influence of the Bible which has been repeated, retold and transformed through various works in time. The imagery of the roaring lions, gushing streams, hearts of gold, swinging chariots, trumpets calling, and dancing animals playing in a band sounds more like a party than a sermon.


"Hello, Dear Wind" is warm and bright. There are tambourines and bells, hand claps and backing female vocals and songs that I feel I've heard times before, and wish I'd written myself. Fifteen tracks sounds intimidating at first, but Page France are nothing short of a pleasure to listen to, fall asleep to or sing along to, loudly. I find comfort in knowing that Michael Nau has brought all of his friends on this record to share them with us. Although I have read that tidbit of information somewhere else, those loud noises that only friends can make when spending time together is what makes this record great. The album's opening and closing songs together culminate with the repeating lines of "we will become a happy ending.." and I don't know what I feel when it's all said and done, but this one sure is a keeper.

http://www.pagefrance.net/main.html

http://www/myspace.com/pagefrance

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Rock Plaza Central and More, Albany, July 19th, 2007

Sitting in a bohemian victorian living room, building off of a joyous burst of imaginitive one ups, I became a music reporter amidst the quiet reflection that follows a good giggle.

I turned to Fiona, Scott and Blake, the violinist, bass player and percussionist of the band Rock Plaza Central and asked the question: "So what did you guys think when Chris first came to you and said, 'guys I've got this great idea, let's make an album about steel horses'?"

They all laughed.

It was 2:30am and in the other room were various members of Sgt. Dunbar & The Hobo Banned, Big Frank's Corey Hough, and My Friend Peter, blasting away a Langhorne Slim tune, hootin and hollerin through big banjo choruses. This was the big party we'd been planning since the hobos told us that RPC would be coming southeast to Albany for July 19th. Here we were in the Kirk House, christened that night "The Railroad", being joyful with Rock Plaza Central.
The question about steel horses was the first time we had talked about Rock Plaza Central all night. Conversation to this point had covered a swath of topics from the Quebecois and the history of their desire for independence, to Andrew Bird and his Bowl of Fire, the secret society of ghosts, Magritte, and sprial dynamics.

The question made the room laugh. After a series of jokes I can't remember and probably a long hilarious story by Blake I would doubtful do justice to, Fiona said, "But seriously it just kind of happened without us realizing it." She went on to say something about the songs being written on stage and the story unfolding before the eager band.

Scott jumped in with his response to my question, nodding his head in sarcasm, "Okay. I am an excellent steel horse.... Are you fucking kidding me?"

"I was the last person to come on board," Fiona admitted.

Scott went on describing the band's less than enthusiastic initial response, "But then I realized, 'that's brilliant! what a brilliant allegory!'"

Throughout the night Fiona complemented the shear musicianship of her fellow band mates and we got to witness it first hand as members of the band each played songs from their individual musical endeavors.

The Valentine's show was the mood setter. The anticipation upstairs was contagious. A good number of Albanians turned out for the Thursday night bill headlined by RPC, with local bands Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned, Margan and the Red Lions, and My Friend Peter opening.

My Friend Peter started things off, playing an endearing set of longing songs to an attentive crowd. His nervousness was friendly and witty and his delivery polished, at one point even singing the first lines of an Otis Redding song without the help of a starting pitch or a chord on the guitar.

Margan and the Red Lions debuted an exquisite set of original indie jazz pop songs. They played maybe five or six songs and sounded extremely tight for it being their first public performance of this set of songs. They had me thinking of Andrew Bird and Cake with Margan's vocal and piano leading the way.

Next Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned took the stage. They rambled and clammored and strummed, horned, sawed, and drummed through a set of rawlicking indie folk songs. Their melancholly optimism, their melancholly joy, left the upstairs of Valentine's pulsing in anticipation.

So when Rock Plaza Central took the stage and started plucking the opening notes of "I Am an Excellent Steel Horse" the crowd welcomed them with such vocal exuberence that lead singer Chris Eaton was visibly astonished.

The entire upstairs seemed to sing "I am an Excellent Steel Horse!" in unison. This followed the same for "My Children Be Joyful!" and "I Want to Be a Shining Example hull hull!" and the show started to feel less like a rock or folk show and more like gospels and churches full of hymning believers.

Their affirming, reasurring choruses are full of joy and positivity but not too far beneath, one cannot miss the melancholly of wounded faith. Their sing alongs sing like idealistic realistic outbursts overlooking a deep inner disbelief.

Rock Plaza Central's closer, the show's climactic anthemic finale, "We've Got Alot to Be Glad For!" found an a cappela chorus of chanting singers both onstage and off repeating the line over and over as the moment kept building on.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cancel your plans for Thursday...


Unless your plans for Thursday include moseying on over to Valentine's on New Scotland Ave. in Albany to catch the show of the summer.

You've seen the bill.

And if you haven't, it's right there---->

To get an overview of the performing artists, conveniently, all you need to do is surf this blog (amazing):

Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned was featured on May 15th in the blog, "First I Was Their Fan" which was closely followed by My Friend Peter on May16th: "First I Was Their Fan: Part Two." The Canadian headliners Rock Plaza Central are found on April 23rd "The World Was Hell to Us."

But that leaves out one act worth not being left out...Margan and the Red Lions.
I thought I'd best give these folks a listen and I was left feeling thoroughly satiated.

Margan and the Red Lions sounds like Andrew Bird dancing in the snow between gypsy cobwebs...but not old and creepy cobwebs...beautifully spiderly crafted cobwebs that leave you sitting and pondering just how long it took that little spider to weave that web of silk. Margan and the Red Lions site influences ranging from Sylvia Plath to Beethoven and sing about glass windowpanes in the morning and winter roses.
I was especially struck by the image of someone's hair having grown since when they last said goodbye...mine tends to do that.
But don't take my word for it. Not about my hair, but about the bands, although my hair will be present at Valentine's on Thursday as well.

And in the mean time break all the rules of concert etiquette. Get out your Sgt. Dunbar t-shirt. Listen to your Rock Plaza Central CD on repeat. And listen to it while parking your car on New Scotland Avenue just before the show. And especially, have your Rock Plaza Central CD playing at the after party that Rock Plaza Central is invited to. Study all participating bands' myspaces. Be a real geek. For a change.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bark, Hide and Horn (and worms)

All the men call me Ham, the first space chimpanzee

So according to Eric there were no worms in North America until an English ship dumped soil into Jamestown (happy 400th birthday New World) so that they could grow tobacco... or something to that effect. This greatly paraphrased, second hand piece of information comes from a National Geographic printed at some unkown time to me.

However, I do know that Bark, Hide and Horn, a folk rock band from Portland Oregon, found inspiration in National Geographic's from 1957-1967.

"Folk-rock" is a bit of a generalization that I stole from their myspace. What I hear in the songs is the unpredicability of early Modest Mouse, some well done electronic pop, some formulaic yet immortal country progressions, and melodic folk with a shimmering trumpet.


Chris Eaton of Rock Plaza Central worried that RPC's new album "Are We Not Horses?" might come off as a bit too cooky for people, being a concept album about robotic horses that think they are real horses. BHH's theme for "Treasure of the Everglades" comes off as even more cooky because the songs are written from the point of view of the different animals showcased in the magainze dealing with various bizzare circumstances. But don't let the silliness of the following playlist synopsis turn you away, the music is beautiful and original and another step toward the masterpiece of the first decade of the second millenium.

The BHH myspace playlist will include: a plea to Jane Goodall from the suicidal astro-chimp Ham, the prettiest song about snail sex you've ever heard, a spider madly in love with his latest catch of fresh fireflies, a freed honey ant slave who was doomed for sacrifice, and a grizzly out for revenge on the naturalists who took his lover away from him.

If ants and snails could make music like this; so bursting with desperation, fear, anger, vengence, and sorrow, more people might realize that we'll be sad when they're gone.

sorry, no mp3s, available, go here: http://www.myspace.com/barkhideandhorn (I'd suggest "The Treasure of the Everglades" as a first listen, it's a superb song)

now to play golf in the house

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Hunting for Red Hunter


I'd like to meet Red Hunter. I think he could teach me a lot about life. Mostly in a reassuring kind of a way. Red would sit down with me on a swingset that first we would build and say "you're alright girl." And then he would pick me a wildflower from the field and I would tuck it in my ear and I'd feel just that much better about life.

The Red Hunters of the world are hard to find, and when you do find them, you hold on to them tight, and don't let go, because it's hard these days to find the people who are doing what they love because they love it, and encouraging others to do the same....not only just encouraging them, but actually helping them to get there, nudging them along, giving them piggy back rides, and picking them wildflowers that smell of approval.

Red Hunter is an ordained Shaker Priest, and wants to get certified as a Unitarian minister too because "there's a lot of rad gay people out there and I want to marry them all."
Red Hunter is the brains behind the indie label Whiskey and Apples where he is committed to helping to promote outsider friends. And Red writes most of the songs for his band Peter and the Wolf.

Peter and the Wolf's new album Experiments in Junk is just out, and with it comes the tour of spooky places that Red so likes to play. I'm sure there's more than a few graveyards in there, and probably a few lake islands, accessable only by canoe. The first part of the tour will be traveled by sailboat.

Although the song "Windows" sounds like it was recorded on a cellphone, Red admits that "Jaywalkin" actually was, while crossing the street in Manhatten...apparently talking on your cellphone while crossing the street is illegal in Manhatten, but I guess playing the ukelele on your cellphone and crossing the street isn't. And if it is, Red don't care.
I feel the positivity oozing.
Whiskey and Apples:

Noah and the Whale



Here it is. My usual summer slump. Where everything I usually listen to begins to bore me but I'm not bored enough to bother trying downloading some client that will let me download more music. Of course, this means perusing myspace. Which is really the only thing that silly site is good for nowadays, unless you are fourteen and you want everyone to believe you are twenty six. Fourteen year olds aside, one day while I was still in my pajamas at four o'clock in the afternoon reading a bunch of useless articles and myspace cruising I stumbled upon this pleasant sounding folk band from London. I tried looking for more information on Noah and the Whale but I couldn't really find any. I am pretty sure they are one of those bands which has a consistently shifting number of members, but I could be wrong. They have that unproduced quality that immediately makes one think of a bunch of dudes sitting around making music and playing at the local venues. Basically, if I lived in London this is probably a band I would be going to see on a regular basis.

I'm not sure what immediately grabbed my attention. Perhaps it was just that good old accordion sound in the song Jocasta. Perhaps it was the violin part in the song Rocks and Daggers. Maybe it was the way the lyrics manage to be straightforward without being clumsy. I'm not quite certain. All I know is that I'm glad I decided to listen to Noah and the Whale.

http://www.myspace.com/hatracket

Friday, June 29, 2007

Albany gets Even(s)

In a mostly unpublicized show which I briefly mentioned before, the Evens (Ian MacKaye and Amy Farina) played in the basement of the Howe Library in south Albany and the place was filled with all kinds of people. You could see 3 year olds and 60 year olds dancing to the same music. This was probably one of the best/most attended shows I've seen in Albany in ages. Ian and Amy put on a great show, despite not being the young punk rocker he might have once been Ian MacKaye is still a great front man with an anti-establishment swagger that had the entire room screaming at the top of their lungs, "The Police will not be excused, the Police will not behave". Ian's ramblings about how the people have the power even though the musicians have the instruments to the full room served to show me what a large population of music fans exists in Albany, sometimes it just takes a legend to get them all in the same place.

mp3:Cut From the Cloth [Buy]

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Spring Time is Over, But it Can Still Kill You


I haven't had the pleasure of listening to Jolie Holland's entire new album "Springtime Can Kill You," but every song I have heard sounds as though it could have been plunked anywhere onto her sophomore release "Escondita" and would fit marvelously.


"Escondita" came out in 2004 and still, I rarely put it back in its case. Instead I plop it upside-down on the CD player because I know it won't be long before I'll be reloading it to listen.


"Escondita" has been that way for me ever since I bought it. Yes, I bought it. I rarely by CDs anymore, instead hunt for their slightly more inexpensive vinyl counterparts. But I couldn't afford not to buy "Escondita".


Like "Escondita", "Springtime Can Kill You" is off of the Anti label, keeping good company with Elliott Smith, Tom Waits, The Frames; that Irish folk-rock band I was introduced to while living across the pond, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds; another band whose music I met in my travels. (Knowing the music of Nick Cave deserves an entire blog in and of itself. It was shown to me by my former boss in Bangkok, a New Zealand bloag who ate enough fruit cake and smoked enough cigarettes to give himself diabetes (that's his diagnosis, not mine). His wife had died ten years ago and still he sat at open mics, shoes off, legs crossed, crooning Nick Cave's music, intermixed with his own, through the gap in his one tooth. The songs cronicled death, loss, suicide, overdoses, and more death. He was quite the jolly chap. Apparently he was friends with the Bad Seeds. Somewhere along the way they had a falling out... this is where the story gets a bit fuzzy, I think in part due to the fact that I was intentionally left out of this classy conversation. So I'll leave this open for a possible future blog....ehem...Eric).

But I seriously digress.

Jolie Holland.

Jangly guitars, drunken trumpets, saloon pianos, lyrical elixers, rail-side drum brushes, and her voice, tainted with the sweet scent of cordials. It really sounds like she's been sitting around sipping cordials. I'd like to sip cordials with Jolie Holland. And I think you should too.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Try and find a world where there's no parents just daughters and sons

...We offer the best of luck and our sincere hopes that you will conclude this record still if full possession of your life.

Anyone that I've talked to about music/songwriting knows that one day I hope to create a bona fide noise band album, akin to The Music Tapes 1st Imaginary Symphony for Nomad. To me it seems like such a challenge, but I'm guessing a lot of people might disagree with me. That's not music. And now for my overly dramatic response:

I admit that I don't put on a noise album as background music at a party, and honestly I don't really put a noise album on that much at all. It's tough to listen to, it's not something that you put on to kick back and have a beer to after work. It takes some effort, there's so many things to listen to in the recordings, it doesn't instantly give off a feeling or emtotion that is easily recognized by the listener, and worst of all you can't sing or dance to it.

As Julian Koster (Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control, Chocolate USA), the majority shareholder of The Music Tapes, says, "Because The Music Tapes were more 'places' than recordings to me, they didn't have to follow the same rules and structures as the records I bought in stores. They could be as detailed as I wanted to make them. They could form stories, or landscapes of a world I imagined to be better than our own, for me and my friends to visit."

And that's what happens. Instead of listening to an album while sitting at my desk, I am listening to the din of a world that I am in, there's no music. Kickballs, vacuum cleaners, kazoos, and a perpetual lo-fi hiss become the neighbors upstairs, the helicopters landing on the roof of the hospital, and the drone of an oscillating fan.

Here are some mp3s that more closely resemble records that you buy in the stores than some of the other tracks on The First Imaginary Symphony for Nomad, the only officially released LP which was put out by Merge in 1999. Elephant 6 released two rare 7" Music Tapes records and Julian self-released a 7", The American Phoam Rubber Co. Symphony Orchestra Proudly Presents the 2nd Silly Putty Symphony for Edison Wax Cylander, but good luck trying to find any of them.

I have recently discovered that you can download the First Imaginary Symphony in it's entirity here.


mp3: The Music Tapes - Song for the Death of Parents

mp3: The Music Tapes - All Tomorrow's Parties (Velvet Underground cover)

mp3: The Music Tapes - A Warning! (1:32)



* the picture used is of Julian Koster and a 7 foot metronome, a staple member of the live Music Tapes

Friday, June 22, 2007

What kind of animal is a turtle anyway?


Turtle Dove is the sometimes stage name of one Gabriel Quison, who sometimes plays by himself and sometimes plays with other people. He makes music just to make music, not so anyone will like it, which they do anyway. His myspace page is rather frequently updated with new different tunes. Like really different. For example currently at the page you can find a game boy style dance tune, an old school fuzzed out blues jam a really pretty lo-fi poppish tune and a beautiful little lo-fi folk peice called I don't know that word. Although the music is all over the place the feeling and the recording are rather consistent which makes it interesting to keep up on Turtle Dove's newest song cause you never know what the next one is gonna sound like but it will probably be worth listening to. Unfortunately you can't download any tracks or I would have one for you here but you can listen to them on his myspace:

http://www.myspace.com/cigarettetricks


Turtle Dove is coming to albany and will be playing a set for this months art opening at CDFI headquarters 383.5 Madison avenue.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Architecture In Helsinki Back With More Music?!?!

Looks like an old underground favorite of mine is poised to release an album soon.

The Music Collective/Band Architecture in Helsinki, whom I first heard about through a friend in exchange for information about Os Mutantes, has a new song posted on their web page http://www.architectureinhelsinki.com/. The song, and its accompanying video, are apparently "out" now. Where they are out and what kind of out they're intending to be outting I'm not sure. But I decided to do a random drop by on their webpage and was freakin pumped to see this song and video sitting there.

Heart It Races is going to be a hit somewhere. It's a great melodramatic pop song full of great hooks and melodies and that ridiculously delicious doo wop bass line: "Bome... Bome... Bome... Bome bud dum bud dum," if it weren't so damn cool it might be annoying. I guess that's a great way of describing Architecture in Helsinki's acid indie techno pop. Almost annoying but mind poking cool.

Their last two albums were excellent. Full of ear worm songs that are easy to get addicted to.
Their sophmore album "In Case We Die" expanded on the sounds and ideas of their debut "Fingers Crossed" and Heart It Races appears to be another step forward in their upward progression toward quirk pop sophistication. The best news is that their new album "Places Like This" should be available soon.

Give this song a listen and if you like it go for the entire catelogue, it's fun.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Son of Adam


For this interesting entry I have to thank Mama Koch, who as Tim tells me, works with Son of Adam also known in regular life as David Orenday. Based out of someplace in central New York, David it seems records in his bathroom or basement, or wherever it is convenient to put a microphone. A transplant to New York form the booming music scene in Austin Texas, Son of Adam recently released his second record Cranks and Saddles. His tunes seem to be simple finger picking crooning folk songs, reminiscent of Iron and Wine. Unfortunately none of his songs are available for download so I don't have any to post but you can check out a bunch at his myspace. I highly recommend the tracks 134340 and Wierd Bird which features a Shel Silverstein poem for lyrics.

http://www.myspace.com/sonofadam

He is going to be playing at Valentines on July 29th.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Aaron MacDonald / The Leaning Towers

The Internet is a Hoover Vacuum

I will admit that I kind of cheated... I found this band from reading Said the Gramophone; a much more established planet in the blogosphere. Then I left that planet, which wholly served it's duty as an informative signpost, to explore the life of Aaron MacDonald and The Leaning Towers in the vaccuous internet.

Portlander's Aaron MacDonald and Emily Cosgrove together make the unsigned, The Leaning Towers in 2007. Extrapolating from my research, I believe Aaron and Emily also composed 'Aaron and Emily' in 2006, and Aaron MacDonald was 'Aaron MacDonald' in the years including and preceding 2005.

How did I come to such a conclusion you ask? Well, it's because on the band's website they have at least a good chunk (though I would guess all) of their repitoire of recordings posted on the internet, for free! Each song has the title, the date it was posted, and a snipet of the lyrics, it's fantastic! I started clicking on random songs based on the titles and the bits of lyrics. On Winamp, some come up as The Leaning Towers, others as Aaron and Emily, and others just plain Aaron MacDonald.

Based on the posted dates of the songs you can follow nearly three years worth of creation. You get to learn about all their friends; who has stayed and who has left, share their moments of giddiness and sorrow, and get to know both of their voices as you know those of your closest friends.

Some songs are genius, some are good, and others...well, you know, not every song is your best song. When there's over 100 songs posted, it's hard for all of them be good. That would be an amazing feat. In general, I like the early Aaron MacDonald stuff a bit better than The Leaning Towers, there's a bit too much electronic pop in the for me. The 2006 and earlier songs have not nearly as much synth or other electronic sounds as the Leaning Towers new disc, "The Eleventh Hole", and that's just more my style.

From what I can tell, Aaron is a phenomenal multi-instrumentalist and has a superb sense of arrangement. Banjos, trumpets, tubas...with so many songs you're bound to hear just about everything that makes noise. He and Emily are both in another band, and then Aaron is in 3 or 4 more as well. He is someone who truly lives for music

Leaning Towers Myspace

Aaron MacDonald/The Leaning Towers <-- this is where you can get all the songs. Here is a list of favorites I've found so far in no particular order, just to give you some direction: Fend off Autumn, The Simple Machines, Timothy, In the Snow, A Cure For Meat, Heidi In Her Military Coat mp3: The Leaning Towers - Rich Enough to Ignore It

mp3: Aaron MacDonald - Just Stay Gone

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Matt Durfee!


Just got out of Red Square. Matt Durfee played happy hour. He was all over his songs and played a set full of all of the classic Durfee. It was such a treat. 1st song was a slamming "meet you there." 2nd song of the set was a syrupy nostalgic "it's a good life." Reminded me of my first impressions of Albany. That was followed by start stopping jingjangling "gypsy song." It was so crisp and twisty. "you can write it down, you can cross it out." It was enough to make a person squirm in joy. "A full head of steam" was another high point. Durfee's brother joined him onstage for some djembe drums and Durfee wasn't holding anything back with the song choices, he played Palatypus songs and a cover of a Tom Waits song taboot.


If you live in the Albany area and have never seen Durfee do yourself a favor and go so him when next he plays. If you've seen him before, he's playing again and he sounds spectacular.


Thanks for the music Matt...


http://www.myspace.com/mattdurfee


Josephine Foster

"You might call Ms. Foster's eerie warbling old-fashioned, except that is evokes a scrambled past that exists only in her own vision: mountain songs that never were, spaced-out hybrids that never will be." —New York Times


When I listened to "There are Eyes Above" my own eyes began to well.


There is something familiar, yet frightening about her vibrato studded voice. Layered on top of meandering harps she sings as though she knew you when you were a child, and witnessed with you, your own ageing, and now has come to remind you that once upon a time you were more simple. Once upon a time you were a child, and she knows all of your secrets. But she would never hold them against you.

Based upon the comments that fill her myspace, Josephine brings this same swooping enchantment when she performs live. Her comments are mostly all from fans, most of whom are strangers, who leave virtual love notes to her and write about her with such glory, such gratitude. Somehow Josephine Foster knows every hidden dream, every relic of memory of her listeners and hides away there with them as she plays. With their soft words they thank her for bringing them to a place that only they thought they knew the existence of. A place they had not traversed in some time, until it was Josephine who led them there.

The comments are intermixed with art, drawings, paintings, and photography created by her listeners. Sometimes music can not be expressed with words, and only can be expressed with visions. Her fans that have no words leave her with these images. I too find it hard to put words to Josephine Foster. And so perhaps Josephine Foster is best described by the drawings of her many fans she has gathered across the globe. See drawing above.



Thursday, June 7, 2007

Dear Nora Appears

Last wednesday night there was a wonderful little show at the tiny little space at 383.5 madison avenue owned by the capital district federation of ideas. I went to see Troy Pohl (of the Kamikazee Hearts) play a solo set, which wasn't really solo but it was excellent. A loosely thrown together collection of songs played with his a few of his band mates that showed off their high level of musicianship and his powerful voice.
Dear Nora was the other act, all the way from sunny California, and you could tell. She was just different from us albanians, maybe a little bit calmer or just worried about different things. Her guitar parts were mostly simple although not as a rule but her melodies were fresh and different and beautiful and her poetic imagery kept at least me interested. From the show's rambling conversations it doesn't seem Dear Nora will exist for much longer than the completetion of this tour but not to worry because she is just moving on to her next project Lloyd and Micheal.

mp3:Dear Nora - My Friend and I
mp3:Dear Nora - Caribou and Timber

ps. Check this out, Ian MacKaye is coming to albany, I will see you all there.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Wheatie Mattiasich


That's Wheatie muh-TEA-uh-sitch

or moddy-ahh-sitch...

so they say.

I decided I would go on a bit of an adventure through the myspace labyrinth in order to find some good music to write about today.

I made a promise to myself that I would not start over. I would start in once place and click and click and click until I found something good.

Unfortunately I got stuck, really far deep in the labyrinth.

I couldn't find my way out.

And I couldn't find any good music.

So I broke my promise. But you'll thank me for it.

Because I found Wheatie Mattiasich.

One of her influences is Mother Goose.

She says she sounds like the malarchy of a four year old who thinks she's time travelling.

I'd say that's about right.

Wheatie Mattiasich also sounds like front porch rocking chairs next to glasses of sweating lemonade and rickity old metal fans blowing the hot air and the magnolia's all around.

You can pick up the CD for only $5 or a trade.

All you have to do is email wheatiemattiasich@gmail.com
with the subject line: heeba deeba geeba neeba
the body of the message should contain your name
and right below something that sort of rhymes with your name
ex: Molly O'Connell
Pollywogs caw at Bill

Those are Wheatie's orders.

Monday, June 4, 2007

W*Burg Will Oldham


"Today I went to Major Maps to remaster my old album and on the L Train in the morning I was pretty sure I saw Will Oldham. He was wearing the same sunglasses he had onstage at the bowery ballroom. Had he come to walk among the Williamsburgers of his kingdom and like the Burgers of Calais will a sacrafice be demanded?" foreshadows Jeff Lewis to start this masterpiece of spoken indie folk: Williambsurg Will Oldham Horror. (Actually, to be more precise, in this veggie salesman's opinion, this is a masterpiece of guitar and vocal. There have been many types of guitar and vocal combinations set down on record over time, this song is like none I"ve heard before.)

It's a story songs that flows out faster than Subterranean Homesick Blues but with a slacker's nervous anxiety and an ironic 21st century geek sense of humor. It's a song about artistic uncertainty. It asks the ever burning questions in the back of many self conscious artist's minds "is this artist life worth it? could I be doing something better with my time? how come my mom and my friends are my only fans? and how did Bob Dylan become so much better than Arlo Guthrie, who was Dylan comparing himself to? Ginsberg? and who was Ginsberg comparing HIMself to? and why did the Stones need satisfaction in '65 but by '69, if they couldn't get what they wanted, they got what they needed?"


And so he pulls you through the subterranean Brooklyn subway deeper and deeper, wondering if that really IS Will Oldham, until he can't take it anymore. And by about the halfway point his voice has gone from a slick slacker drawl to a stressed out excited pubescent telephone call. The whole thing moves together. His delivery and his lyrics tumble like a locomotive toward the climax on the train tracks.


Listen to the song for yourself. It's brilliant.


Actually be sure you listen first before you watch the video. The song alone is excellent and you'll find yourself trying to keep up with it while you listen, catching your breath. After a few listens move over to the video. It's a perfect fit for the song.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ghost of Corporate Future


About three hours into the five and a half hour drive to Cape Cod I wore out my go-to CDs and popped in a mix my brother made for me. My brother and I share a love for music, but I will admit that at times our tastes desperately clash.

Ben Folds is to my brother what Jeff Buckley is to me.

He has Ben Harper, I have Stevie Wonder...(although we shared a beautiful sibling moment after a choir concert of his when he was in middle school where he performed, but had never heard "Sir Duke." I'll never forget the look on his face when I laid "Songs in the Key of Life" onto the record player to show him just what exactly it was he had been singing. I've never seen a smile like when he first heard those horns, and he couldn't believe that his choir teacher hadn't played the song for them before they were asked to perform it. It was a tacit musical joy we shared that evening).

I admit that most of the songs on the CD I skipped. But not only did I not skip "Ghost of Corporate Future" by Regina Spektor, I played it on repeat four times.

I'd never heard this woman before, but she reminded me of Bjork, except with a happy sarcasm.

Apparently Regina Spektor has already gotten pretty big, I'm usually the last to know about these sorts of things. The newest of her three CDs "Begin to Hope" is her first on a major label and was given a 7.5 on Pitchfork.

But "Ghost of Corporate Future" is off of her album "Soviet Kitch" a minor release.

I read that she's playing Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza, and so probably doesn't need this seriously huge press I'm giving her, but that's life.

Unfortunately all of the songs I have heard off of her new album are too much for me to handle more than ten seconds of (although after hearing "Ghost of Corporate Future" I forced myself to go back and listen to "Sampson" which my brother also included on the CD. Admittedly the song gets exponentially better around 00:35, though the version included on "Begin to Hope" lacks the energy of the version my brother put on my mix).

There are times when her music sounds like the clone-female-musician that crowds the seats of open mics and chokes the radio waves. It may be a horrible analagy, and I've probably been spending too much time in the garden but her songs are like weeds. Some should be pulled, tossed in the bin, burned even (though burning things I normally do not advocate, except for candles, wood, and the occasional credit card statement). But then there are the ones that have flowered before you've gotten to them, and they're so lovely, and they grow on their own without your planting of them, and they spread, and you don't mind, in fact, it's downright wonderful.

I'm not sure what I think about Ms. Spektor as a whole, and I think that it's too late for me to continue thinking about it, and in fact I most likely won't come back to thinking about it. But "Ghost of Corporate Future" is a great song. And worth listening to at least four times.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Les Savy Fav <3's cartoons

I found this at Muzak for Cybernetics but haven't seen it anyplace else so I figured I'd post real quick cause people might be interested but adult swim released a new Les Savy Fav track (as well as tracks from Broken Social Scene and TV on the Radio among others. Its pretty cool, check it out here. Les Savy Fav have yet to set a release date for their newest album other than to say it will be out this year, some time.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Kamikazee Hearts

I once played a show with the Kamikazee Hearts in northampton massachusetts a couple of years ago, before I even knew who they were. I didn't stay to see them though because it was at a bar and my under 21 friends that had come along for the show weren't allowed in and had to wait outside. So I just left. I still haven't seen them live to this day, although thats mostly my own fault.
The Kamikazee Hearts signed to One Little Indian last year, making them in theory the most important band in Albany, that I know of. (One little indian is Bjork's own label in case you were wondering and strangely their website gives little mention to the hearts). They also maybe one of the longest running, having just released their fifth album Onieda Road (and having survived the metroland cover curse). I haven't heard much of their older records, but I don't really know what to think about Onieda Road. The Kamikazee Hearts often get billed as porch sitting folk music or alt country, I guess because they have a mandolin player but I just don't really see that in these guys at all. These guys owe more to 70's rock like the Doors or Journey than they do to folk. Tangentially they remind me a lot of Matt Durfee, who existed subsequently to them but who I knew first.
They don't have a lot of scheduled dates coming up, maybe they are already working on their next album but I'm not going to put it off anymore, next time they play in Albany I am there.

You can check out a couple of Songs on their myspace:
http://www.myspace.com/kamikazehearts
or By the Album at Emusic:
http://www.emusic.com/artist/11689/11689531.html

Holy Canada! Let's Have Some Fun!


So here's the deal. I'm going to let you in on a secret.. psst.. you should probably know about this band.. they're named Malajube.. and they are amazing!

That said, I stumbled upon the masterpiece of Malajube in the fall of 2006 when they released their second album, Trompe L'oeil. If I used a CD player it would have been melted at this point by over play.
Malajube, like many recent bands of great prowess hail from the greater state of Canada. Montréal to be exact. Malajube sing entirely in French, but despite the fact that I can understand a total of.. six maybe seven words, they are action packed and full of fun. In interviews, I've read how they can (and do) speak fluent English, but given that they were so affected by anglophone American music during their youth, they wanted to grant the same experience for us non-francophonies.

It's difficult to equate Malajube's musicianship to anything in particular, considering that every other song brings a new monster of noise and melody, so I refuse to try. But the range is from catchy but entirely novel pop songs (Montréal -40°C, Pâte Filo) ominous and thundering choruses (Casse-Cou, Fille À Plumes) to piano led upbeat saloon sing alongs (Ton Plat Favori) and ridiculous electronic songs (La Russe).

Their lyrics could be god awful and possibly be promoting some of the most vile degrading shit you've ever heard
, but I'm entirely ignorant to them. (An online translator told me they were singing about "ejaculate", but you can't trust those things!) The interesting thing about non-anglophone music (for me) is that the experience is more that of instrumental songs. The melodies of Malajube's vocalists come off as complementary innovative instruments. I find myself screaming along in my own French gibberish like a little kid, whose ear is too slow to make out the lyrics to the songs playing on the radio.

The real nail in the coffin for me was listening to Malajube while staying in Paris in January. At this point in time I had developed such an appreciation for the French language I was ecstatic to be able to connect with something that the culture which was blowing my mind at the same time would probably appreciate.


So here's the rub. Malajube. They're playing a FREE show at the Prospect Park Band Shell in Brooklyn on June 30th, my birthday! I would kill to see them. That may mean I have to kill everyone I invited to my party.. we'll see.

Here's their really well done music video for Montréal -40°C

And their website. http://www.malajube.com


Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

First I Was Their Fan: Part Two



Ok so, my title is a bit of a falsehood, but I liked Jen's idea so much I couldn't resist ripping off it. My post is about a little acoustic act called myfriendpeter. The great part is he is actually my friend peter. Cute, right?

Peter Philip Lawrence Mollica hails from "the great jungles of southern Brooklyn" and is widely known as the kid in the really tight pants (which he looks great in by the way). Like the guys in Dunbar he plays a collection of instruments; one of the phrases one is most likely to hear Pete say is "Ohhh mannn I want a "insert some sort of instrument here." The latest addition to his collection that I know of is a lobstermonica, which is a harmonica shaped like a lobster claw. He bought it for about two dollars at a rest stop when we were coming home from Boston. It sounds pretty ghastly when you blow on it but knowing Pete I'm sure he will find a way to make it sound good if he wants to.

Instruments aside, there is something else you should know about my friend peter. Or myfriendpeter. He is a wonderful songwriter. I'm not just saying this because he is my friend, Pete's lyrics really grab you. Every song. Every time. His songs can be about squirrels, bugs, sex,trees, ice cream, it doesn't matter. What I like about Pete's music is how personal it is, and it's difficult to achieve that without falling into the "emo" trap a lot of young songwriters tend to get stuck in. The fact of the matter is Pete's songs are more than just happy or sad. They're reflective in creative way that can only be done by a visionary. They are completely transcendent of the simple "emo" label most people would want to put on them. They're way more than that.

I'm not an overly passionate person and typically recieve criticism for my predominantly blase attitude. However, I have screamed myfriendpeter's lyrics at the top of my lungs. I've harmonized softly on the quiet parts. I've participated in an "all girl chorus" in a song about zombies. I've felt longing, desire, and joy. And I know it's not just me. While I'm sitting around surrounded by friends and see them singing pete's songs, their heads thrown back, brows knotted fervently, their voices rising above and beyond not just the instruments but the room itself, I know they are feeling the same way I do.

I don't think everyone is capable of affecting people that way.


I really like myfriendpeter. I'm glad he is my friend (peter).


http://www.myspace.com/myfriendpeter

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

First I was Their Fan


It may not be fair of me to write this blog about some of my favorite people, but a vast part of my unbiased mind tells me I’m allowed to. Before I was their friend I was their fan.

The B3nson blog was set up so that members of the B3nson Collective could share with our readers the bands and music that has struck a real chord with us. But what happens when the music that has become the most prevalent in your life, the most listened to, the most stuck in your head, is the music made by the people in the very Collective you are a part of? Is it something you ignore? I’m afraid it can't be.

I first saw them sometime at the end of last year’s summer. They knocked their way into the Muddy Cup coffee shop, banging hard cases against door jams and their own shins. The hard cases were covered with stickers like the one that says “Love your Enemy.”

I didn’t know them. I’d never seen them before. But they had handkerchiefs hanging out of the back pockets of pants they wore in three quarters lengths and lumberjack looking shirts and musical saws and Jacques Cousteau red knit hats. I hoped their music would live up to the expectations I had of them. I elbowed my own partner in crime. He was tuning his guitar, trying to figure out what two songs he would play at the open mic.

Open mics can be awful painful at times. But this band was the reason we kept going back. We sat in hard chairs from 8pm until 11, just to watch them play two songs. Just to watch them pull out their choose-your-own-adventure combinations of instruments…accordion, typewriter, French horn, trumpet, trombone, saw, guitar, ukulele.

I’d never seen anything like them; their joyous lyrics, their magical earwormish melodies, their phenomenal musicianship, and their exuberance on stage made them an act I didn’t want to miss.

Sgt. Dunbar & the Hobo Banned released their newest CD While Waiting for the Space Age this past Saturday at a show held at the Capital District Federation of Ideas. Each time I see them live I’m impressed by them. They have managed to grow and evolve as musicians even in the less than a year that I’ve known them. On stage they work. They sweat. They laugh. They stand on tables. They play two instruments at once. They get the crowd shouting for more.

I am their friend, but first I was their fan.
They impress me.
And so does their music.

www.sgtdunbar.com

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

I Like Listening to Ponies in the Surf


I don’t exactly remember the first time I listened to Ponies in the Surf. I think it must have been in 2004 at a show they played somewhere in Boston at a place where they served beer and there was art hanging on the walls, but I can’t be any more specific than that.

I watched them up on stage, just the two of them, brother Alexander and sister Camille. I watched the way they interacted. I watched how she stood still and gracefully stiff, clutching her microphone in her little hands, while he sat and played an orchestra out of his guitar. I watched the way they looked at one another, how she followed his fingers up and down the neck so that she knew when to sing the next harmonic note on time with her in-his-own-world-melody-making brother.

I felt a connection to them right away. Maybe it was because I had been in their place before. I had studied the changes and cues of my own in-his-own-world-melody-making band mate; I had learned his own unlearnable, unpredictable, and fascinating indications of changes and progressions. I had, on many occasions, stood quietly and still on stage, as Camille did often throughout the set, watching her own band mate with pleasure, as though she were hearing the songs she had co-written for the very first time.

They impressed me with their stage presence. It seemed as though we might have been sitting in their living room while they played, and even in their living room they were as soft spoken, polite, and joyous as they were on stage.


I forget who they were opening for, we hadn’t come for the headlining act. And during the headlining act we stood around the Ponies in the Surf merchandise table, chatting sheepishly to the band that was so grateful we wanted to purchase their album, that they gave us a few free Ponies in the Surf buttons.

A demonstration is the kind of album where each time a new song comes on I think it’s my favorite, until I hear the next one. There is something sweet, something innocent, something French and polka dotted, something wildfloweresque about each song. There’s the long and catchy chorus of See You Happy, followed by a Linda Rich cover of More to Living which sounds so much like one of their own songs that I thought it was until I read the liner notes. I loved Ventricle so much that we covered it a few weeks later at a show we played in Boston, the parumpapumpum in Government Brand recalls for me my Burl Ives childhood, the lyrics to Je T’aime were written by their ten year old neice… I could go on.


Since a demonstration, Ponies in the Surf has come out with another album, Ponies on Fire, and there is talk of another, with some unreleased tracks available on their myspace site for listening and download.


http://www.poniesinthesurf.com/
www.myspace.com/poniesinthesurf

Monday, May 7, 2007

Young Folks by Peter Bjorn & John


Here I am writing about music from 2006 again.


A friend of mine sent me an email late last year from a cafe in Bangkok alerting me to the Peter Bjorn & John song "Young Folks". I found the video on Youtube, watched it twice, then continued to play it on repeat a couple more times while working. This song is infectious to say the least. It's definately a great song and I'm surpirsed it wasn't on radio repeat until the whole world was sick of it (i'm thinking of Modest Mouse's big hit Float on).


The song is on Peter Bjorn & John's latest release "Writer's Block". It's their third LP, all of which have garnared wave reviews from the critics. Peter Bjorn and John were formed in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1999 and released a self-titled disc in 2002, followed by the excellent album "Falling Out" in 2005. "Falling Out," like "Writer's Block," is a set of new wave inspired pop, arranged with everything from glockenspiels to Speak & Spells, to zithers, omnichords, and cheap synths


But I'm stuck on Young Folks. I think it's my favorite Peter Bjorn & John song, although "object of My Affection" is right behind. Young Folks is one of those genius songs. It's the type of song that teaches a songwriter how to write the basics again. The melodies seem easy in their simplicity, the topic of the song and the arrangment are like why didn't I think of that?!?!? I really hated them when I first heard the song. Hatred is one of my lesser qualities and it happens when I get jealous. I don't really hate for long, just a second or two and within days of hearing the song I had encorporated the maracas into a recording, a month later my band We Are Jeneric wrote our first song that included a boy and a girl talking to eachother .

Search youtube for the Young Folks, you'll know you found it when you see a cartoon with two people on a park bench. There is also a great live version on youtube. On Peter Bjorn & John's myspace you can find a great sitar version of the song called "Sitar Folks". Also don't miss "Objects of My Affection" it's gooooood.


Sunday, May 6, 2007

I'll be your friend Camera Obscura


As I write this blog, there is currently a stack of cds sitting next to my elbow. No matter how hard I try, I can't make myself complete a single one of them without coming back to this charming little band from Glasgow. Camera Obscura formed in 1996 but didn't get around to recording an album (called "Biggest Blue Hi-Fi") until 2000. After that break through recording, the band followed it up with several others; "Underachievers Please Try Harder" was one of the first to be released in America. Currently, my favorite is their latest release "Lets Get Out Of This Country."

Why do I like this band? Mostly just because they are just so darn adorable. Listening to their music makes me feel like I am driving down an old French road in some retro-fancy European car. To be more succinct, they just make me want to do cute things. Their sound is definitely a throwback to the sixties and seventies with the kind of cheesy string sound in their songs which, I believe, was a fairly common characteristic in music from those eras. It works for them really well though. If you are familiar at all with Jens Lekman I can see him either a) working on a song or b)touring with these guys because the songwriting for both bands is very very similar. Jens Lekman's lyrics are a bit sillier though. (Which is why they are so great.) But enough about Jens; the point here is, you aren't going to walk away from Camera Obscura blown away with their songwriting skills, but you will be smiling, which in my opinion is more than par.

Two tracks from "Lets Get Out Of This Country" that I keep coming back to in particular are the title track and "I Need All The Friends I Can Get" How can you not love lyrics that utilize the phrase "it's the bees knees"? I sure as heck find them pretty irresistable, hence my current inability to focus on any other records I am trying to review right now. (Or my fifteen page paper.) Anyway, listen to Camera Obscura if you haven't already, and don't be surprised when after doing so you will be seized with the sudden urge to go on a bike ride wearing some kind of bright article of clothing. That being said, I guess I have a paper to get back to.

P.S. Check these links out peoples.

http://www.camera-obscura.net/

http://www.myspace.com/cameraobscuraband

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Don't Forget about Matt Durfee, Matt Durfee

i sincerely hope that matt durfee as a distinct musical entity is not entirely gone. his recent collaboration with a long time friend Mike Poulopoulos in the country-blues duo "Palatypus" has been keeping him very busy between recording EPs and playing a plethora of shows in New York and the surrounding provinces.

but for those of us who have been following the Durf-star around for months/years Palatypus is a bit of a trade-off. There's something about watching Matt Durfee alone with his guitar...maybe its his long skinny fingers dancing on his guitar doing things that normal fingers don't do, or it could the charming rural Schoarie county twang of his voice that he doesn't try to hide, or it could be the way he bobs his head, or maybe it's just the man-crush i have on him, and i know i'm not the only one.

he won much aclaim in the capital region before forming Palatypus, including Metroland's "Best Singer/Songerwriter 2006", which we used to start a fire one night when the b3nson crew went out to Indian Ledge southwest of Albany, the name of which they took for their music collective which includes Matt Durfee, Palatypus, Turtle Writing and Alta Mira.

"It's a Good Life" is a song that always makes me feel good. It's not gushing with optimism, in fact it's not even really that optimistic at all, but when he say's it a good life, you know that he's right.

last month he played a rare solo set somewhere in Troy for something, i missed it and am very dissapointed in myself for that. i will not miss the next one, which hopefully there is at somepoint. for now, Palatypus will suffice. don't get my wrong though, I'm as big a Palatypus fan as the next guy. they're much easier to catch around town, they play all over all the time and are definitely worth a trip to see.

but...

dear matt durfee,
please don't forget about matt durfee. "It's a good life" has a very special place in my heart, and the Gypsy Song makes me smile a smile that smiles for nothing else.

http://www.myspace.com/mattdurfee

http://www.myspace.com/palatypus

http://www.indianledgerecords.com

mp3: It's a Good Life

mp3: Etched in Red

(the mp3's will not be uploaded until later tonight or tomorrow for all of you up-to-the-minute Bensonites, you can no longer download them from his myspace so I have to track them down, but I will find them, for now go the ol' myspace-a-roo)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

If I Were An Owl


I first heard Tinyfolk last Thursday while tuned in to the awesome Albany radio station 90.9 FM. The song was “If I Were an Owl.” I was in the kitchen, watching hawks fly overhead.

Talk about romantic... “If I were an owl and you were a mouse I’d eat you up for breakfast, I’d take you under my owly wing and I’d buy you presents for Christmas… I’d hunt the oak tree late at night…tryin’ to figure out whoo whoo whooooo you were.”

“If I Were An Owl” is off of Tinyfolk’s multi-syllabic release Platapeasawallaland: A Rainy Day Owlbum. Yet another band from what is turning into be the music capital of the world, Bloomington, Indiana.

When I listened to their song “William You Were On To Something” I immediately thought of Ponies in the Surf. Whom I will devote an entire blog to next week. The song smacks of Alexander McGregor’s vocal and guitar songwriting, and that makes it good. That, and the fact that following the song there’s an audio clip from the film Annie Hall. I love Woody Allen. He’s a funny guy. He’s like when you take a sip of coffee and then say, “hey, this ain’t coffee…this is kool-aid.”

Tinyfolk will shortly be touring the country, mostly with the band Real Live Tigers, which hails out of Austin. So if you happen to find yourself in Indiana, Nevada, Iowa, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Kansas, or Wisconsin it would be an owlfully good idea to check them out. And if you’re not heading west, just go online and check them out. They’re a hoot.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Ramona Cordova is Heavy on My Head


I'm a little behind the times musically speaking. I didn't listen to the Beatles until I was a Freshman in college, didn't hear Belle and Sebastian until two years ago, Neutral Milk Hotel, last October. And there's a few very good reasons for my lag. I won't burden you now with the reasons, just know part of one of them has to do with Christian parents, a steel curtain and the impending apocolypse.


So I don't feel like it's a problem to be writing about an album from last year right here in the middle of April. Especially when songs from this album are haunting me more every day that passes.


I'm speaking of the Ramona Cordova album; The Boy Who Floated Freely. The best part is: I've never even listened to the entire album.


I was introduced to Ramona Cordova through a campfire sing along in which every person singing busted a neck veign trying to hit the high notes of a serpentine beautiful melody. The song was Heavy on My Head and every version I've ever heard, from the first to the last is as good as the first time. I love this song.


It's achingly wonderful. It's so proximus to where you sit. No matter how loud or quiet you listen, how energized or mellow you are this song pulls you up next to the troubador and his guitar. It's starlight. I'm not exaggerating.


The album only gets more and more intruiging. Heavy on My Head is on the list of the best songs I've heard but other Ramona Cordova songs fit right in. Maybe thats because the album is concept album. Its a story about a boy marooned on an island away from home. Each song tells a piece of the story at large but each song is solid on its own. The Giver's Reply seems to get stuck in my mud like an ear worm no matter how long ago I listened.


It's Ramona's falsetto. It's one of the best falsettos to hit music since Al Green. And his vibratto is comparable to Devendra Banhart. His melodies... I don't think there's a comparable person in my small encylopedia. I leave that open for comment.


Give his music a listen on his myspace


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