Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 28, 2010: My Morning Jacket



My Morning Jacket
w/Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Family Circle Cup (Charleston, SC)
April 28, 2010

When it comes to checking off must-see live acts, I've done OK. Tom Waits, The Hold Steady, Wilco (x8), Radiohead, The Avetts. But if there's a glaring omission (and there are several), perhaps the most boldfaced/underlined/frantically circled is My Morning Jacket. I've heard tell of unparalleled rock majesty that stirs festival crowds into a maniacal frenzy for hours on end. Even this mini-tour, on which Charleston was graciously included, has been flagged as an awe-inspiring stretch by the group's fervent fans. And why not? Aside from it's already stellar reputation, the band upped the ante by bringing the Preservation Hall Jazz Band along with them, not only as an opener but as a brass section for MMJ itself.

The show took place at the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island. This was actually my first time at the stadium, which generally plays host to acts like Hootie & The Blowfish, The Doobie Brothers, etc. You know, those bands whose demographic exists at the intersection of hippies and shaggy post-Frat House bros. While MMJ certainly attracts these types in droves, they also introduce into the mix a breed of aging hipster who probably saw MMJ play bars back in college. Here's to hoping the band is trailblazing a new era of acts for the FCC. Prediction: Band of Horses headlines in two years.

The front of the stage was basically the mid-court line, if not a few yards behind it. The remaining half of the court was general admission, and all the rest was stadium seating. To call upon an overused (and oft untrue) statement, there really wasn't a bad seat in the house.

Not wanting to deal with general admission, my girlfriend and I went the seated route. I definitely don't regret it. Through a connection, we scored band holds--specific sections that are held for friends/family of the band, and eventually released if they remain unclaimed. Our seats were dead center, three rows back of the court. If there were a tennis match going on, we could have spit on Andre Aggasi's back. Our spot afforded us a full view of everyone on the stage, not to mention a nice view of the sound guys' rig.

We wandered in early--a hair past seven thirty--and Jim James' voice was rising from the vestibules. He was sitting in with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, providing vocals on a few slow Bayou jazz marches. Perhaps it was their early start, but they played to a very thin crowd.

As the cloudless sky went purple, the venue rapidly filled, streams of fans pouring into the GA and seated sections alike. It was only about 75% full when MMJ took the stage and set into "Tonite I Want to Celebrate With You".

I love non-album tours, because you generally get a balanced mix of material. Such was the case, with MMJ spreading the set semi-equally over their last four major releases, relying heavily on Z and Evil Urges. Song of the night was unquestionably "One Big Holiday", probably the band's flagship number. It was a special moment when the (now) capacity crowd overpowered even Jim's vocals, roaring the first line, "Wakin' up, feeling good and limber". Amazingly, there were those who remained seated the entire show; yet "One Big Holiday" left no ass in its seat.

Other highlights were "Steam Engine", "Dancefloor", "Mahgeetah", and "Wordless Chorus". But special props to "Gideon"...good lord, does that song explode in a live setting, thanks in no small part to Jim James hitting that note. You know the one: "C'mooooooooooooooooooooon!"

The setlist was good but not great. And it wasn't the selection of songs, per se (although several Evil Urges tunes did languish.) It was the order. A lull in the middle of the set occured when they essentially lost the crowd. This is probably more of a testament to the crowd than it is to the band, but nonetheless there was a noticeable dip in interest. One song that truly never took off was "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Part 1". I was also kind of irked when they only played the outro of "Run Through".

They did indeed bring out the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for the encore, although they seemed largely superfluous for the most part (except of course for the epic "Dancefloor" and "Carnival Time", an old New Orleans jazz song.) They closed with a Curtis Mayfield song, which I could have done without. But I was actually in the minority there, as it got more of a rise out of some folks than any of the originals did.

Jim James is kind of weird on stage, but in an endearing way. He's quite the performer--leg kicks and spins and knee slides--and he's in complete control of his stage presence. He had two plastic guns in holsters. In compliance with the old "If you see a gun in the first act" adage, Jim did "fire" off a few shots. Most notably during the wind-down of "Mahgeetah", he did an extended hammer-on/pull-of with his left hand on the fretboard while twirling a plastic gun with his right hand. And then he shot the audience as the lights went black. He sported a black cape, mostly on songs when he didn't play guitar. He didn't speak much, which is in stark contrast to Wilco shows where Tweedy rambles endlessly. But boy does he make up for it with his singing chops. Whether he's singing in a neo-funk falsetto, a soaring country howl, or just an all out shriek, the guy must have lungs the size of suitcases.

The show was an absolute blast, and yet I was kinda hoping I'd enjoy it a bit more based on the megafans' build-up. More than likely they were a victim of overly inflated expectations. Anything less than perfect was automatically a letdown, which isn't fair to the band. But that's the way it goes when you take cues from superfans, especially when you aren't one. I will say this, though: the MMJ kick that's already taking shape will likely push them into my top tier of musical regard. The more I think about it, the more I already want to see them again.

The setlist:

Tonite I Want To Celebrate With You
At Dawn
Gideon
Off The Record
What A Wonderful Man
I'm Amazed
Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Part 1
Golden
Thank You Too
Mahgeetah
Laylow
Lowdown
Wonderful
Librarian
Steam Engine
Smokin' from Shootin'
(end of) Run Thru
Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Part 2
One Big Holiday

E:
Over The Rainbow (PHJB's Weenie Solo)
Wordless Chorus
Evil Urges
Dancefloor
Highly Suspicious
Carnival Time
Move On Up

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Tube Amp: April

I feel as though I owe the Black Keys an apology. Despite their May release being blogworthy, I utterly spaced on including them in Indie Music MAYhem. They're more than qualified, and yet for no good reason I ostracized them from the tournament. Mea culpa! Allow me to offer consolation in the form of immortality.

Of course by that, I mean they get April's Tube Amp. It's the simple yet entertaining video for the first single from Brothers, featuring Frank the Funkasaurus Rex.



:03 -- I did it to myself again: Another single-shot video. But suffice to say, there's plenty to talk about. Keep an eye on the scrolling text along the bottom.

:09 -- That whistling sounds like a funkified version of "Young Folks" by Peter, Bjorn, & John.

:22 -- And Frank is on! Character breakdown: Frank, the dancing Funkasaurus Rex. The omniscient narrator, known only through his scrolling text messages. Finally, the puppeteer, who may also be the narrator--we may never know.

:27 -- In case I hadn't mentioned it, the name of the song is "Tighten Up".

:40 -- My favorite parts of the video are these dance breakdowns between verses.

1:08 -- Frank's slide-dance needs to become a GIF, fast.

1:23 -- In case you didn't believe me about his name being Frank...

1:42 -- What kind of houseplant are we dealing with here? It looks mighty cannabisish, but without the proper arrangement of leaves, I suppose. Any horticulturists/botanists who might be reading, please advise.

2:11 -- The finest carnivorous dinosaur stomp sequence caught on film since Jurrasic Park.

2:14 -- Pretty damned sure Frank just did the stanky leg...

2:22 -- Prepare yourself for our narrator questioning the methodology of puppeteering vis-a-vis fisting.

2:48 -- The overall aesthetic of this video is in line with their minimalistic approach to this album's packaging. Check out the cover art, and you'll see what I mean.

3:15 -- Watching Frank headbang is worth the price of admission.

3:26 -- And just like that, Frank goes extinct.

Well done, Black Keys. You've created a cheap, effective video that's certainly got Internet-phenomenon potential. This is me dropping a coin in your coffers by stoking the buzzfire (not to mention I'll be buying the disc when it drops.)

Tune in next month for another installment of the Tube Amp!

April 24, 2010: Toro Y Moi



Toro Y Moi

w/Machete
Eye Level Art (Charleston, SC)
April 24, 2010

Is the so-called chillwave movement significant? Or is it just a passing mutation of a larger genre, a brief intermingling of electronica and lo-fi indie whose legacy will be that of a microtrend, providing fodder for tomorrow's balding hipsters to wax nostalgic. "Aw yeah, 2010 was the summer of glo-fi. Good times."

So funny that Columbia, SC--birthplace of this blog--is of considerable importance to the burgeoning genre, serving as springboard for two of chillwave's young guns, Toro Y Moi (nee Chaz Bundick) and Washed Out (Ernest Greene). My years in Columbia weren't so hip to have afforded me the ability to explain glo-fi as a function of the city, but I can confirm that there was a scene, which surprises most who've never been to town. Good friend, musical visionary, and Dusted Magazine scribe Patrick Masterson describes chillwave as the sonic manifestation of "Columbia's oppressive summer heat". Swirled into a liberal-arts college town and two dozen suburbs-worth of self-conscious teens, perhaps chillwave was the inevitable byproduct.

I first investigated chillwave with a tepid regard, admittedly reeled in by the fact that I'd seen Chaz's pop-punk outfit The Heist and the Accomplice while in college, and I believe I briefly met him a time or two. Back in November, I saw him perform as Toro Y Moi on the back porch of a pizza joint in Charleston, sharing the bill with four of five other acts despite clearly being the draw. It was compelling enough to find some of his music (last year's My Touch demo, and the official debut, Causers of This). I've largely relegated these records to backtracking duties (cooking, working, etc.), but I'd be remiss to say they weren't at lease basely enjoyable.

I approached TyM's late Charleston headlining gig with observational reticence, which felt like the adequate level of interest as far as I was concerned. Eye Level Art is a miniature warehouse, hidden behind the crumbling walls of an old house or business that from the outside appears derelict, and indoors seems very much the same, save for the canvases that checker the walls. The small stage was hardly elevated, with a screen at its back and speakers on either front corner. There were a few makeshift bars set up (one at the side of the stage, one in the courtyard in back.) The crowd was comprised of early twenties hipsters who looked as though they'd recently stepped off an American Apparel assembly line.

I could only assume that Machete, the stage name of a young guy with a mustache and black hair slicked back into a pony-tail, had some degree of local or regional notoriety, as would seem necessary prior to comfortably assuming such a moniker. As the opening act, he bobbed at his laptop, squeezing a pair of snazzy headphones between his ear and shoulder, dutifully mashing tunes over a montage of film footage projected onto the screen. Aside from the fundamental issues I have with taking other folks' carefully crafted art and hacking into some sort of mixed-media kebab, Machete's set was absolutely interminable. My girlfriend and I finally retreated to the courtyard for some fresh air.

Mercifully, Machete relented and Chaz took the stage. During set-up, I was intrigued by the guitar he spent a few minutes tuning. Instruments? Is this allowed? Of course, the two songs on which he employed the guitar ("Blessa" and one other I didn't recognize) were among the most enjoyable of the night. It caused me to wonder if chillwave was strictly a phase. Its DIY nature is appropriate for young bedroom producers who might not have the means to work digital elements into a full band. My prediction and hope, at least for Toro, is that the project will evolve into a full band without sacrificing the ambient/electronic approach. Chaz is a talented singer and arranger with an impressive grasp of melody. It'd be a real shame to never see him grow out of this laptop stuff.

That said, most of his songs landed, even those when he stuck to his MacBook. "Minors", my favorite from Causers of This, surely embodies the nature of the genre, with its blooms of synth and vocal-layers rushing over the audience in slow waves. The accompanying screen projections were relegated to trippy graphics that resembled mesmerizing screen savers. He closed with "Talamak", a surefire fan favorite that could easily translate to a full band set-up (I'm pushing this pretty hard, aren't I?) Chaz's set was brief--no more than 50 minutes. That seemed just about right, relative to his arsenal, and it made me want to seek out Machete and ask if he learned something about the merits of brevity.

Overall, it was an experience I could have done without, which isn't to say I'm not glad I went. I saw an artist whose music I enjoy, and whose set was satisfying. But I'm not naive. This show didn't happen for me. Never mind that it's a bit of a stretch in the taste department; I'm really talking about demographics. Chillwave is for the gaggle of 20 year olds who spent the evening dancing to Machete's mashes and Toro's beats, who'll go home to their parentally funded college crashpads and bask in their own era of irresponsibility, an era that embodies the corny tagline "You think you know, but you have no idea." But alas, I've moved on to a world where the only function of chillwave is to backtrack my workdays and culinary duties. And really, I think I'm OK with enjoying it in that context, if it means I can enjoy it at all.

Friday, April 23, 2010

HSW Newsflash of epic proportions: NEW SUN KIL MOON



Holy mother of all that is holy and Jesus and the saints and Mary and Jesus, I have some big news: Sun Kil Moon, i.e. Mark Kozelek's post-Red House Painters project and creator of my all-time favorite album Ghosts of the Great Highway, just announced the release of a new album. Admiral Fell Promises will be released on July 13. Here's what their site says:
The new album by Sun Kil Moon, entitled Admiral Fell Promises, will be released on July 13 on Caldo Verde Records. This 60 minute, 10 song [of course it is] album of original material will be released on CD, digitally and vinyl. The vinyl version includes liner notes and 2 bonus tracks recorded live in St. Malo, France.

All direct purchases direct through Caldo Verde website will receive a free, limited 4 song Sun Kil Moon EP entitled I'll Be There. The EP includes covers of Stereolab, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, and The Jackson 5.

More information soon at sunkilmoon.com and caldoverderecords.com
This is some full-boned excitement, folks. All of a sudden, Indie Music MAYhem seems like a mere stepping stone on the path to July, when the real heavy-hitter sees the light of day.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Indie Music MAYhem Contestant 6: Band of Horses

Band of Horses

Album: Infinite Arms
Release Date: May 18
About the Band: Neil Youngish rockers led by Ben Bridwell, provider of soaring vocals and lively guitar riffsmanship. Also, they live in Charleston. Hometown heroes, FTW!
Last Record: Cease to Begin came out in 2007 and was one of my favorites from the year, despite a few overly sleepy moments.
Reason for Excitement: Band of Horses is the one band that I'll always associate with my glory years in college. I'll probably always give them a little more credit than most.
Reason for Concern: They're cheating away from the spacious folk attack that defined their first album, and embracing a more straightforward country/alternative rock approach that can be a bit too safe for my liking.
Early Indications: The first couple of tracks aren't all-time greats, but I seem to remember some new stuff from the last time I caught them that seemed promising.
Prediction: When one of your top bands releases and album, you gotta be optimistic. I'm hoping for top 3, but the meat of the album will need to be a tad more succulent than the singles if it's gonna happen.

And that's everyone! We'll have a IMM kick-off post next week. Have a fine weekend, folks!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Indie Music MAYhem Contestant 5: Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter

Album: So Runs the World Away
Release Date: May 4
About the Band: Ritter's songs are generally lyrically dense and rife with historical references. He's been releasing albums for over a decade now, none better than 2006's The Animal Years.
Last Record: 2007's Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter certainly had its moments, but wasn't quite up to par with its excellent predecessor.
Reason for Excitement: I'm no Ritter fanatic (these people exist and they often frighten me) but the guy can write a song. "Good Man" from Animal Years is one of the best songs of the last decade.
Reason for Concern: Josh's songs are very lyrically dense; sort of like Dylan, but with Josh it's less about stream of consciousness and more about storytelling. So it can be mentally fatiguing to try and keep pace with the action.
Early Indications: "Change of Time" and "Rattling Locks" were made available early on, and they're not bad.
Prediction: Since The Animal Years is the only album of Ritter's that I'll staunchly defend, it's not particularly set up for success in my mind. But it could be some nice relief from the dense indie rock melee that awaits on virtually all other fronts.

Up next, some South Carolina boys ready their third album...

Indie Music MAYhem Contestant 4: The National

The National

Album: High Violet
Release Date: May 4
About the Band: Brooklyn band known for crafting gorgeous, moody records--equal parts driving anthems and slow burners. Matt Berninger's low gravelly vocals are the most distinct trait of the group.
Last Record: 2007's Boxer was one of this blogger's favorites that year, and it secured them a spot among indie elite.
Reason for Excitement: The National have maintained a very high standard of output throughout its existence and, in doing so, have become one of the premier acts of the indie rock world. Their album is something of a blockbuster release.
Reason for Concern: It's been a long, proud run of records. Another classic would be quite a feat. Do they have it in 'em?
Early Indications: Very promising. "Bloodbuzz Ohio" first started making the Youtube rounds last year, and has already become a fan favorite.
Prediction: I'd be very surprised if this album doesn't land in the top 2.

Up next, a singer-songwriter with history...

Monday, April 19, 2010

The year's first Bob Dylan kick has arrived



I'd like to take a break from all the MAYhem to address a personal phenomenon that occurs steadily on an eight or nine months cycle. A condition known as Zimmermanitis, or to the layperson: a Bob Dylan Kick. As mentioned ad nauseam on this blog, Bob occupies more of my shelf-space than any other artist, so it isn't so far-fetched that I'm able to revisit his catalog regularly without wearing a rut in any particular era. Not feeling folky? Desire is here for you. Is Bob's post 80's Renaissance the last thing on your mind? Well surely Blonde on Blonde will scratch your itch.

The present kick was brought on by a number of unrelated incidents: My recent blogworthy recollection of the infamous fingerslice; a screening of The Big Lebowski that reminded me how great "The Man In Me" is; a gig I played this weekend during which I covered a few tunes.

Right now I'm feeling the glory years, anything pre-1980s. Here are a few I've been hitting pretty hard:

The Basement Tapes


Recorded with The Band during Dylan's late 60s hiatus from touring, The Basement Tapes' effortless feel is perhaps its strongest quality. This likely results from the combination of Dylan's songwriting with The Band's slick and snappy roots rockery. Dylan had graduated vocally from the nasal wail that characterized his post-folk output, and assumed more of a gravelly, relaxed style. In fact several of Basement Tapes songs were recited more than they were sung--"Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread" and "Please Mrs. Henry" come to mind.

The album is one of those universally-lauded releases that should be required listening to anyone who fancies himself a music fan. It should be mentioned that a handful of the tracks are Band-only, and would eventually show up on Music From Big Pink.

The Bootleg Series Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964, Concert at Philharmonic Hall


Of the three live albums that came from the Bootleg series, Volume 6 is undoubtedly my favorite. It features a young, humble, silly (and maybe stoned) Dylan playing in front of an adoring crowd. I like the album so much because it captures a sort of vulnerability that existed prior to Dylan's deification and his ensuing resentment of his Messianic treatment. Here he's just a 23-year-old kid, enjoying himself, cracking jokes, forgetting lyrics.

I like the first disc especially, since it's the one that doesn't feature Joan Baez' overbearing vocal contributions. The opening track is an inspiring version of "The Times They Are a-Changin'" that sheds some light on what a powerful song it might have been at the time. I usually throw this disc on before my own performances to get in the zone. Then at the gig, I screw up some lyrics, as an homage of sorts....

***

Some others I've reconnected with recently: New Morning, Freewheelin', Highway 61, and Blood on the Tracks. All low-risk classics, sure, but just as awe-inspiring as ever, rewarding my ears anew with each fresh spin.

So here's to Zimmermanitis: I plan to savor the flavor until it wears off in a week or two. But, as sure as the sun will rise, I'll be on another kick in September or so. And it'll be every bit as glorious. I leave you with this, a snippet from the famed Royal Albert Hall performance in 1966:

Indie Music MAYhem Contestant 3: The New Pornographers

The New Pornographers

Album: Together
Release Date: May 4
About the Band: Another gaggle of Canadians, most notably featuring Carl Newman, Dan Bejar, and Neko Case.
Last Record: Challengers, which I thought was pretty good, although I never got into it quite as much as I should have.
Reason for Excitement: Neko Case! Also a pretty impressive slate of guests (Will Sheff from Okkervil River, for one.)
Reason for Concern: Broken Social Scene casts a long shadow. With several other major releases dropping May 4th, might TNP's disc get swallowed up in the chaos?
Early Indications: The one song I heard, "Crash Years", didn't floor me, but Neko Case has the Midas touch as far as I'm concerned. That aside, I think their brand of artful power pop is the perfect complement to the sense of optimism borne out of the spring warmth.
Prediction: I think Together will land in the front-to-middle of the pack. New Pornos: don't make me look bad!

Up next, an album of the year hopeful...

Friday, April 16, 2010

New Poll: Who Will Release the Best Album of May 2010?

As you might have expected, our new poll will dovetail with the ongoing Indie Music MAYhem series. Who do you think will drop the most classic disc of 5/10? Be heard...poll closes at the end of May.

Indie Music MAYhem Contestant 2: Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene

Album:
Forgiveness Rock Record
Release Date:
May 4
About the Band:
Canadian megagroup, made up of a ton of musicians, specializing in a unique brand of vaguely digitized indie rock.
Last Record:
I really never heard much of the self-titled release, their last as a band proper, which came out five long years ago. Most fans look back to 2002s You Forgot It In People as their flagship, and an indie rock staple to boot.
Reason for Excitement:
The BSS Presents series resulted in a few satisfying solo turns from Kevin Drew and (my favorite) Brendan Canning. Feist has also done well enough on her own...
Reason for Concern:
None that I can think of...
Early Indications: I may or may not have already listened to the album several times through... but, early indications are good. Very good. "World Sick", released a month or so ago as a single, is an epic opening track. Will it be indicative of the album as a whole?
Prediction:
They're a good bet to at least place, since the band hasn't showed signs of slowing creatively.

Up next: more Canadians, yet!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Deeper In: Indie Music MAYhem

Welcome back to the Deeper In, a feature I kinda started three months ago, officially started two months ago, and then proudly ignored one month ago. As to the nature of the beast, allow me to quote myself: "It'll be a multi-day series of posts (generally three to five), and they'll be a bit longer than usual." I'm already going to screw with that template, as this go-round I'll be making it a series of short-to-medium posts about a singular topic. And this one will span across two months, even! Without further ado, I give you INDIE MUSIC MAY-HEM...



You've probably noticed that in a matter of weeks we enter into the fifth and, so far, most musically exciting month of the year. As I've pointed out repeatedly, May '10 brings no less than six exciting new releases from some real hard-hitters, as far as this blog is concerned. Throughout the month, I'll briefly profile each of the new releases, and in May I'll review each of them (to some half-assed degree) and, at month's end, declare a champion of HSW's Inaugural (and perhaps final, depending on next year's May slate) Indie Music May-hem.

Of course, I expect an album or two to creep into the mix over the month. LCD Soundsystem, for instance. This is an artist I've somewhat shamefully ignored in years past. But I could certainly see myself giving it a go this time around. However, this does not warrant it a spot in the fray, as I have little anticipation for its release. The six in contention are artists by whom I own/enjoy albums, and thus I consider them worthy of participation.

So keep checking in over the next couple of months to see how things progress. To whet your appetite, let's kick things off right now, with the first profile:

The Hold Steady
Album: Heaven Is Whenever
Release Date:
May 4
About the Band:
Minneapolis bar-rockers savant with a penchant for deep lyrics about the dichotomy of reckless youth and religion; set against a wall of rock bombast that'll leave you with sweaty skin and ringy ears.
Last Record:
The pretty darned good but not great Stay Positive (2008), unless you count A Positive Rage, the 2009 live disc that does little justice to their live show. Stay Positive certainly exhibited some of the best qualities of the Hold Steady, but too often it felt like a rehash of Boys and Girls in America.
Reason for Excitement:
How couldn't I be excited for a release from a band that's crafted two of my favorite records (Separation Sunday, Boys and Girls In America)? THS have earned my anticipation.
Reason for Concern:
Keyboardist Franz Nicolay left the band, so it's possible that the keyboard/piano aspect of THS will be absent on the new record. And of course, diminishing returns. The last album wasn't as good as the one before it. Will the trend continue?
Early Indications: Several of the tracks are floating around. They're nice, but not top tier. Singles rarely are, right? It's the deep cuts that can make or break an album.
Prediction:
Middle of the pack. I can't conceive a THS record being truly awful. I don't think Craig Finn or Tadd Kubler would let it happen. But I'd be surprised if it wound up as my favorite of the bunch.

Up next, a bunch of Canadians. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Apologies for the slowness.


Other slow things: Sloth, tortoise, Christmas

Busy busy busy week. A new poll will be installed in the next few days. Bear with me and I'll have some updates for you soon!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Let's hear it for Drag City



In an age when so many record labels are on life support, it's inspiring to see some unsolicited exhibits of fan appreciation. Case in point: Drag City, record label to a litany of indie-folk types including Smog, Joanna Newsom, and no fewer than five Bonnie "Prince" Billy projects. I ordered the new Bonnie "Prince" Billy (& the Cairo Gang) record, The Wonder Show of the World, in its CD form straight from Drag City's website. I received my order within a few days, but was a tad surprised by the size of the package. It was a large, flat cardboard box, suggesting they might have erroneously sent me the LP. Upon breaking into the cardboard, I was surprsied to find not only the CD, but also a 45 ("Midday"/"You Win") and a poster to boot.

I always kinda figured the folks at Drag City were top notch, but their generosity made it official. I hereby endorse their label on behalf of HSW!

It's worth noting that Lost Highway is capable of similar philanthropy. As a LH street teamer for some years, they sent me any number of handouts (CDs, records, posters, T-shirts), and even offered a parting gift of my choosing when I turned in my walking papers after some five years of service.

In an age of struggle for the industry, these kind of gestures are not only refreshing, but its smart business.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Poll Results 6: Band of the 2010s

Fifty years from now, how we will we refer to this decade? I suggest the "Twenteens", a convenient portmanteau that has a marketable look to it. You heard it here first!

So who be remembered as the band of the Tweenteens? Let's have a look at the results:

5 (10%) - The National
15 (30%) - Vampire Weekend
5 (10%) - Animal Collective
5 (10%) - Grizzly Bear
6 (12%) - Phoenix
1 (2%) - MGMT
11 (22%) - The Fleet Foxes
1 (2%) - You missed one!

The scrappy lil' preps from New York take the poll with relative ease. This certainly isn't too farfetched a possibility. Some notes:
  • A few of these bands aren't exactly spring chickens. The National, Animal Collective, and Phoenix have all been around for most or all of the last decade. Perhaps this hurt their long-term prospects in the voters' mind.
  • A promising showing for the Fleet Foxes, who may not have the far reaching appeal of the V-Dubbers. I'm giddy with anticipation for their follow-up to 2008's self-titled classic of a debut.
  • Really surprised by the lack of support for MGMT, a band that's only two albums in and seems to be on the verge of megastardom.
  • While I was ever curious to know who I missed, the lone unsatisfied voter didn't bother to e-mail their choice. Oh well!
Thanks for the participation, voters. Look for a new one soon!

Friday, April 2, 2010

More musical lookalikes...

I realize yesterday was April Fools Day, and I missed out on a perfect chance for the requisite April Fools post. I could have posted some sprawling analysis of my newfound Justin Bieber obsession, but frankly I couldn't stoop that low. I will say that I was in a bookstore the other day, browsing the magazine rack for some design inspiration, and good lord: That kid is on the cover of every magazine with a sub-18 demographic. I wish I could buy futures in heroin addiction, because that kid is primed for post-child stardom burnout.

But anyway, on to the lookalike action. In this, our ninth installment of the feature, I call upon the lanky Swede whose album I recently plugged (YOURE WELCOME), he who is known as the Tallest Man On Earth. Nee Kristian Mattson, his gaunt face and wispy coiffure are traits shared by actor Timothy Olyphant:



Olpyhant's been in a ton of stuff, but I remember him from "The Girl Next Door", starring Elisha Cuthbert as an ex-porn star. No great achievement, but his turn as a sleazy porn producer stole the flick.

From that last paragraph, you can deduce that their similarities are strictly superficial. Anyway, have a great weekend folks!