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:

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 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.

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...

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
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.


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