Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Quick Note

There is a lot going on musically in Albany these days. Actually, there probably has been for a while, but I worked a lot of stupid jobs and was kind of missing out on it. Mercifully, I don't work for any stupid jobs anymore, so I can go see lots of people play lots of instruments and it's a good time.

About two weeks ago, I went to a free show at the Muddy Cup. Some of the bands that played are well known and good so I won't waste space going into it here. However, one band definitely worth mentioning that I hadn't seen before that night is The Luxury Flats from Hudson, NY. They have a mellow-ish indie rock feel and they sounded great live. I really liked the vocals a lot, this band is very listenable. Also, some of them had the sweetest facial hair I have seen in a while (but that really has nothing to do with anything).

On St. Patricks day, I went to see Dunbar play with a band called Barons In The Attic at the Moon and River cafe in Schenectady. Barons In The Attic have been playing together for maybe three months now and for being together for such a small amount of time they sound more put together than you would think. They're still working out the kinks that all new bands have to deal with which just comes with time and experience. This band has a folky sound and would definitely love any support so check them out.

To wrap things up, there are a lot of really good shows coming up, which I will conveniently line up for you in a list-like format:

Sgt Dunbar is playing with Beware The Other Head Of Science at Kings Tavern in Saratoga on March 29th. I can't go, but people who can may want to consider it.

On April 3rd at 8 pm a bunch of newer bands will be playing a showat CDFI; these include littlefoot, The Majestic Moose Club, Blood, The Hoborchestra, and Ryan Starks. Suggested donation is three dollars.

Then the night after (April 4th) you can go see the Scientific Maps play at Valentines with The Red Lions (sweet!) and ladystein. I'm not sure how much that costs but I would assume it costs something. Either way, you should go.

April 11th is another show at CDFI that will have a whole lot of bands playing at it. One of these bands includes Jeneric, who have just finished working on a new album called In the Parlor with The Moon (which has really great album art).

Before I end this blog, I would like to thank Josh for telling me that band was called Perkaisie. Thanks Josh!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I'm going to remember February 15th for a long time

So, why am I going to remember February 15th? Two reasons: 1) I rode my bicycle into a moving vehicle (don't worry, the injuries were negligible) and 2) I saw Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over The Sea" covered in it's entirety with an exuberance that I like to think Jeff Magnum would have approved of.

Ok, so the reason I hit a moving car on my bike was a mix of being cut off, riding much too fast in slush, and the brakes not working properly. After hitting the car and exchanging a mixture of "wow I'm really surprised but ok!" gestures with the people in the vehicle, I hopped back on my bike and rode to Valentines. There was no way I was going to miss this.

Unfortunately, I missed both Littlefoot and Stacey Gets Drunk, but arrived in time for the third band of the night, who's name, I am sorry to say, escapes me. I heard it said several times during the set but I just never really HEARD it. (If you know what I mean.) I did manage to catch that they are from PA somewhere. I think I want to say Lancaster? I am probably making this up. If anyone still reads this blog, my most sincere apologies. Feel free to let me know the correct information. Mysterious name and mysterious origins aside, this band was really good. They were very tight and put together, there was definitely some nice harmonization. Whoever they were, I liked it.

After their set, everyone eagerly waited the few minutes it took Dunbar to get set up. After a few opening questions, comments, and thankyous, Alex Muro informed the audience that the band (and a few guests) would be playing the album straight through, no stopping. With that, Dunbar promplty started playing The King Of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1, and as everyone in the venue sang so loud you could barely hear the vocalist, you just knew the entire set would be an experience you wouldn't forget for a long, long time. Every song was solid, Muro sang with his usual energy and enthusiasm that worked perfectly for the songs he was the lead in, I thought this especially true for Holland, 1945. Oh Comely was covered by Aaron Smith from Scientific Maps and it was really well done. People would join in at some parts or mangle the lyrics, but Smith managed to get through some of the distractions (some people thought he was done once or twice) and cover the song beautifully. His inflections were pretty much right on with Magnum's. All the other members of Sgt Dunbar added significantly to the performance (I could name them all here, but at this point, most people reading this know who they are and furthermore, know they are an essential, talented part of Dunbar) ; their brass section has always been great and this time I think they were in excellent form. What is so awesome about Dunbar is the numerous amounts of instruments every member can play and you could tell everyone cared a lot about making these songs sound as good as they did.

The other good part of the show was definitely the audience. Everyone there obviously knew and loved the lyrics to "In Aeroplane Over The Sea" as well as Sgt Dunbar and the Hobo Banned did. I still run into people who (nearly a week and half later) tell me how awesome they thought that show was. One girl told me how she had the album but it broke and she had forgotten to get a new one until she went to the show that Friday. The next day, she and her boyfriend went to pretty much every media store in the Albany area until they finally found the last copy of the record somewhere in Colonie. Others simply remembered how much they love In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, listened to it again, and gained a new perspective or appreciation for it. To me that album will always be timeless, every time I listen to it I forget that its been ten years since it came out. The lyrics still feel as fresh, stirring, and meaningful as the day I first listened to them.

I think that's what that night at Valentines was all about.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Bri Smith and Jes Seamans are Best Friends Forever

About two months ago, I had a phone conversation with a good friend of mine. After talking about the usual silly things that people talk about on the phone (like stuff you're doing with yourself and whatever happened to that recipe you said you would give me?) somehow our mutual disillusionment with music these days came up. While I won't go into this issue on here, one of the end results was me asking him whether he had been to any good shows lately (which is one of my favorite ways to listen to music these days) he mentioned seeing an act called "Best Friends Forever." Chuckling initially at how much their name made me think of fifth grade, I hopped on the old myspace and gave this Minneapolis based band a listen.

Bri Smith and Jes Seamans have been best friends for nearly 13 years. After listening to their songs, I kind of want to be friends with them too. Their songs are poppy, fun, and about old dead guys they think are really cool, like Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower. The lyrics are silly in a fresh way, there aren't many people are walking around writing songs about how good they would be at being Lincoln's wife. The lightheardedness of "My head in front of your head" and "Eisenhower is the father" kind of made me think of a less produced, girl fronted Of Montreal, the energy is very similar. "handpocket" is about almost dying and being embarrassed about it and "ghost song" is..ghosty. Best Friends Forever is? are? a lot of fun. Give them a try, and you might find yourself feeling the urge to write your own songs about cool dead people.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

RPM Challenge; Take 2

Write and record 10 songs or 35 minutes worth of music. And this year you even have 29 days instead of 28 to do it in. Oh Leap Year. What would we do without you?

February 1st begins the kick off of the third Portsmouth, NH based Record Production Month (RPM) Challenge. 2008 marks RPM Challenge's second year on a worldwide scale.

This is your excuse. This is your every reason for locking yourself in your bathroom and recording until you turn to the water pipes for percussional inspiration. This is your excuse to learn how to play the trombone...just because you can. This is the time when you don't have to feel guilty about calling in sick to work...because you will be sick, you will be very very sick. Only the sickest are the strongest to survive the RPM bug.

Who's crazy enough to write AND record an entire album in one month? Last year it was 850 bands worldwide. With one and a half days to go there are 1414 participating artists signed up from places like Vermont to Texas from England to Uruguay from Shanghai to Australia from Norway to Turkey from Latvia to South Africa.

Come February 29 we'll see how many of these bands will overcome the self imposed boundaries musicians so often inflict upon themselves. How many will brave the sleepless nights, the broken instruments, the used up harddrives, the inband bickering, the music filled nightmares. Who will be strong enough to survive?

Will you?

Sign up here:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Metroland's Best tonight at Valentine's

You know that can of peas that has been sitting in your cabinet since you bought it in the canned vegetables aisle of Price Chopper when you said to yourself:

"Peas are good for me, I should eat more peas," and then you went back to your drafty dusty home sweet home and placed them on your very own cabinet shelf, where they still sit now because you just couldn't think of anything decent to cook with peas?

Well now you can take that can of peas and do something good with it.

Don't eat it!

Bring it to Valentine's tonight and get into a fabulous show for cheaper than if you hadn't brought that can of peas with you.

Rock out all night long at the Metroland Food Pantry Benefit, featuring some of the Best Bands of 2007 as voted in the Metroland.

upstairs catch
plenty o more music downstairs too.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

All Heavy, All Mighty

"It Must Be You That's Making Me Feel Like This Wet Dog"

It was many moons ago that I sent Wildebeest a message, asking for the track listing of the handmade, sharpie texted CD that he left at my house, since the only thing inside the case was a panoramic, photocopied picture of a herd of steer with a poem on the back.

He had come to play a show with local luminaries We Are Jeneric at CDFI in Albany, but got lost, and somehow found his way to Valentine's where there happened to be a Sgt Dunbar show that night. He asked if he could play his homemade chimes in the parking lot between sets. Of course he could, and he could also set them up in front of the stage and play with us, we said, which he did. It was magnificent, and his musical acuity instantly became evident to everyone present. It was one of my favorite sets, and he had a lot to do with it.

That night he slept at our couch, like a lot of the people do that I post about here, and the next morning we drank coffee and ate toast in the sun on the porch. Also magnificent. He appreciated the shower and orange that were offered to him, and left his CD on our table in exhange.

It's called "All Heavy, All Mighty" and is filled with impressive blues guitar riffs, intricately timed melodies, varied instrumentation, and a continuous but not overwhelming meloncholy. It's at times similar to alt-country Bright Eyes, other times you hear the likes of Big Bill Broonzy or Leadbelly, and it all ends with a Dylan-esque folk song with an accordion instead of a guitar.

It's this last song, "I Don't Believe" that caused me to take so long to post this. I began to write an entry, which turned into a short story, which then turned into a longer than short short story, which I then felt the need to edit over and over since I am in no ways a writer and therefor unconfident in such ventures. If you are interested in reading it however, you can do so here. It goes somewhat chronologically through the song, and listening to the song first might help make more sense of the scattered story. Be easy on me, it's my first time.

"All Heavy, All Might" is an 8 track disc that you could probably get from him if you asked nicely. He also has others recordings of varying styles, some on tape, that you could also probably get from him. You can do so on his myspace or at shows.

mp3: Wildebeest - I Don't Believe (That We Have Met)
mp3: Wildebeest - Host and Hostage

Wildebeest Myspace


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