Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2008 Top 25 albums of the year

25) Caddywhompus - Caddywhompus EP
I first heard about this New Orleans based guitar-drums duo from the guys in The Calm Blue Sea after they finished a run of shows with the youths across the South earlier this year. Then one day I got an email with a link to download their free EP and I was instantly hooked. I'm honestly having some trouble describing their sound, it's sort of a No Age with some Marnie Stern-ish flourishes kind of thing. Eh, I dunno, I really like it. The EP is available for free on their website so no excuses to not check these guys out.

Caddywhompus - Fun Times at Whiskey Bay
(Get the album for free here)

24) Mogwai - The Hawk Is Howling
Mogwai earned the live set of the year award from me with their phenomenal performance at Stubbs on the eve of Hurricane Ike. The Hawk Is Howling isn't the greatest album of these Scotsman's careers but it is still a strong effort and, honestly, who could expect them to outdo their back catalogue of amazing material at this point. Kudos to them for remaining relevant and fresh so many years after they began.

Mogwai - Batcat
(Buy album here)

23) Fuck Buttons - Street Horrrsing
I love listening to this album on really good headphones. The songs evolve at a glacial pace, slowly building layer upon layer of noise to create wonderfully lavish sonic textures. You wouldn't think it upon first listen, but after a while this album can be very relaxing to listen to. Terrific debut.

Fuck Buttons - Sweet Love For Planet Earth
(Buy album here)

22) Beach House - Devotion
Devotion suffered a bit from having been released so early in the calendar year, but way back in February and March of this year, it was the best thing coming out of my speakers on a regular basis. I find Victoria Legrand's vocals incredibly relaxing and this Baltimore duo's dreamy pop songs often show me off to bed at the end of the day.

Beach House - Gila
(Buy album here)

21) Retribution Gospel Choir - Retribution Gospel Choir
I'm a huge Low fan, so I was obviously drawn to Retribution Gospel Choir because the band features Alan Sparhawk of the aforementioned Low. This band and this record are such perfect compliments to Low's catalogue, you could essentially say Retribution sounds like Low if Alan yelled and growled his vocals while beating on his guitar and laying the reverb and delay on thick. The results are fantastic and are not to be missed.

Retribution Gospel Choir - Breaker
(Buy album here)

20) David Vandervelde - Waiting For The Sunrise
I really enjoyed David Vandervelde's last record The Moonstation House Band but wasn't really sure what to expect from his second offering. What I got was an album true to the themes and sound of the first LP but much better versed in its predecessors and all the better for it. Vandervelde writes classic, catchy rock and roll songs that seem like they will stand the test of time.

David Vandervelde - Someone Like You
(Buy album here)

19) Margot & The Nuclear So and So's - Animal/Not-Animal
The label politics involved in the release of these two separate albums have been chronicled on this and other blogs in the past so I won't rehash any of that here, instead I'm going to simply stick to the quality of the songs within. It's difficult to figure out what's what with Animal and Not Animal. Both were recorded during the same time period, both contain some of the same songs, and overall, both sound similar. I find the best way to approach these albums, from a critical standpoint, is to just think of them as a big bunch of songs, maybe a deluxe reissue gone terribly astray. When you think of it this way, there is a whole lot of quality material here. Classics like "The Ocean" and "Broadripple Is Burning" sound great next to new classics "German Motor Car" and "Hello Vagina" (seriously, it's a damn good song). In summation, the music holds the ship upright.
Margot & The Nuclear So and So's - German Motor Car
(Buy album here)

18) TV On The Radio - Dear Science
I don't love Dear Science as much as a lot of folks seem to, but I do think that it is a distinctive album and proples the band the band further down the path towards a long, exciting and musically fruitful career. I was a huge fan of Return To Cookie Mountain and so was probably looking for a bit more of that sound on Dear Science. Over a couple of listens I really felt like I got past that and have since developed quite a penchant for this one.

TV On The Radio - Dancing Choose
(Buy album here)

17) The Walkmen - You & Me
Definitely The Walkmen's best effort since the stellar Bows and Arrows. Hamilton Leithauser is one of the finest and most emotive singers around right now and he shows it on You & Me. Like an old time crooner on a whiskey bender, Leithauser sings and shrieks his way through 14 tracks of the Walkmen's classic heartache, yelps, and toy piano sound. Glad to see these guys living up to the hype they deservedly garnered with Bows and Arrows a couple years back.

The Walkmen - In The New Year
(Buy album here)

16) Marnie Stern - This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That
Oh man, how to describe this album. It's like an unabashed, exhuberant, arty, ADHD splatter paint of a record and holy fuck is it good. Marnie shows off plenty of her fleet fingered guitar wizardry and Hella's Zach Hill absolutely destroys the drum kit on this one. Listening to this album makes me feel the way it felt the first dozen times I listened to Battles' first full length. It's a bit of an exercise but oh so worth the effort.

Marnie Stern - Roads? Where We're Going We Don't Need Roads
(Buy album here)

15) Deerhunter - Microcastles
Cryptograms was an impressive, but inconsistent debut. It showed the amount of sonic space that this group of Georgia youths could cover but lacked the restraint necessary to grab a listener and keep them from hitting the skip button a few times. Microcastles fixes those complaints right out of the gate, offering a very focused, yet satisfyingly loose musical experience. "Nothing Ever Happened" is sweet fractured pop at its best and really showcases what Deerhunter are capable of.

Deerhunter - Nothing Ever Happened
(Buy album here)

14) The Black Keys - Attack & Release
The Black Keys turned in another of the years best performance at Stubbs the Sunday of ACL fest with the Black Keys (and fucking Roky Erickson!!) opening the show. As much as a I have always loved The Black Keys one-two, guitar-drums punch, I've always wondered what they would sound like with some more fleshed out instrumentation. In comes Danger Mouse and he does just that. The results speak for themselves. One of the best of the year.

The Black Keys - Strange Times
(Buy album here)

13) The Calm Blue Sea - The Calm Blue Sea
This is really the stand out local release of the year for me. I'm not completely sold on White Denim and though I definitely enjoyed the new Black Angels record, The Calm Blue Sea took the cake. From their always intense live shows to their fabulous sounding new LP that was recorded with local wunderkind producer Erik Wofford, 2008 has been a good year for The Calm Blue Sea and I expect many good things from them in 2009.


The Calm Blue Sea - Literal
(Buy album here)

12) Wolf Parade - At Mt. Zoomer
My A+, number 1, top of the mountain musical moment of 2008 was Wolf Parade closing their sold out La Zona Rosa show with "Kissing the Beehive". They fucking killed it, and I left 10x the fan that I walked in. At Mt. Zoomer is looser and more fluid than it's predecessor Apologies to The Queen Mary, and this fluidity allows the band to reach beyond their sound and explore some new territory. I love seeing bands fluctuate and grow and I'm glad that this record didn't end up being more of the same.

Wolf Parade - Kissing The Beehive
(Buy album here)

11) Tapes 'N Tapes - Walk It Off
I haven't seen Walk It Off on a lot of people's end of year lists and I really think that's a shame because this is a great record right here. The production is so raw, it sounds like the whole album was recorded through a distortion pedal. From the vocals, to the guitars, to the drums, everything sounds like it is chugging along on an engine that is loud and messy but reliable as hell and not intending to quit anytime soon. They seem like they've suffered from a bit of blog backlash, but I hope they just keep on doing what they're doing and continue to make great rock and roll records.

Tapes 'N Tapes - Time of Songs
(Buy album here)

10) Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
Of all the albums on this list, this is the one that surprises me the most by its presence. I have never been much of an Elbow fan but picked this one up out of curiosity and have been infatuated with it ever since.
I feel like I'm in some sort of sexy spy movie from the 50s when I listen to this album. It's very slinky and all of the wonderful harmonies really help the album to soar. Apparently, I'm not the only one who was impressed by this one as I've seen it all over a bunch of lists.

Elbow - The Bones Of You
(Buy album here)

9) The Tallest Man On Earth - Shallow Grave
The Tallest Man On Earth is one Kristian Matsson, a young swede with a penchant for Bob Dylan and Skip James, and he has managed to create one of the most affecting albums I've heard in years. Upon my first listen to Shallow Grave I was immediately drawn to Matsson's undeniably Dylan-esque vocal style, yet I did not feel instantly repulsed, as is usually the case in such cases. Matsson takes the Dylan style of vocal delivery and uses it to wrap beautiful scenes and phrases around his versatile acoustic guitar playing, switching deftly between Arlo Guthrie strumming and Nick Drake finger picking. Shallow Grave is simply enchanting.

The Tallest Man On Earth - Honey Won't You Let Me In
(Buy album here)

8) School Of Seven Bells - Alpinisms
When guitarist Ben Curtis left the Secret Machines a few years back, I was completely devastated. I figured that it would spell the end for the Machines, one of my favorite bands, and had no idea how well Ben would fare on his own. Cut to a couple years later and The Secret Machines are as vibrant as ever and I now have a second phenomenal band to listen to. Alpinisms does not sound like The Secret Machines, so don't expect that. Instead, expect flawless vocal harmonies between sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, lots of swirly keys and synths, and some very spacey ambient guitars that will pour out of your headphones.

School of Seven Bells - Connjur
(Buy album here)

7) Plants and Animals - Parc Avenue
Parc Avenue, Plants and Animals second full length release, was my first introduction to this Canadian trio. You're going to cover a lot of ground listening to this one. Influences abound from Neil Young to The Flaming Lips to a whole range of others. It all comes together in this delightful mess of sounds. The one thing that is consistent all the way through is the quality of the musicianship. No group of slouches here.

Plants and Animals - Faerie Dance
(Buy album here)

6) Dodos - Visiter
Visiter dominated the first half of my year. It was firmly entrenched at the top of my Last.fm lists as well and my Itunes most played lists well into the Summer. Guitarist/Singer/Yelper Meric Long and percussionist/foot stomper Logan Kroeber craft a record full of standouts, including the fantastic back to back girl songs Jodi, and Ashley. The album starts strong, is strong in the middle, and goddamn if it doesn't finish strong too. It seems like a high order nowadays for a band to craft a decent length album that really holds your attention from start to finish, Visiter accomplishes just that.

Dodos - Jodi
(Buy album here)

5) Grails - Doomsdayer's Holiday/Take Refuge In Clean Living
I have no fucking clue how to describe Grails to you if you have never heard them. I guess they could be characterized as a Post-Rock band since they have no vocals and feature guitars, bass and drums, but there is so much more going on here that I think it's an insult to them to lump them into a category like that. Grails make music, pure and simple. Long winding songs that cover continents, cultures, and styles seamlessly and without feeling the least bit pretentious. Oh yeah, and did I mention that they put out two fantastic albums this year, and another half dozen or so over the couple years before that? Yeah, prolific is thy name. I couldn't decide where to rank these albums seperately, and I thought that they both deserved equal recognition, so I lumped them together to save me some fuss. Both are so, so highly recommended. Doomsdayer's Holiday is probably the darker of the two, but that should be pretty evident from the title. Do not miss these.

Grails - Predestination Blues
Grails - Take Refuge
(Buy albums here and here)

4) The Secret Machines - The Secret Machines
First off, let me say that the only reason this isn't in the #1 spot is that I really feel like the opening track, Atomic Heels, is a really weak spot and I usually skip it when I start this album up. I know, that sucks, and I hate to do it, but I just love the rest of the album so much, and it pains me to sit through that mediocre song when everything else on the album is so brilliant. The term Stoner Rock was designed for The Secret Machines. The songs chug along amidst the heavy bass and fuzzy guitars and Brandon Curtis' signature cryptic lyrics and absolutely infectious choruses ties it all together with a sloppy, fucked up, yet near perfect bow. Any doubt as to the band's health post Ben Curtis can be smashed to bits now.

The Secret Machines - Now You're Gone
(Buy album here)

3) Department of Eagles - In Ear Park
I've spent all year waiting for the new Grizzly Bear album. I listen to the old songs over and over and wait and wait for the day that blissful new album will arrive. In the meantime Daniel Rossen has gone and recorded one of the best pop records that In have ever heard. Brian Wilson probably whistles these melodies in the shower or when he's buttering his toast. Much of my favorite music this year took me completely by surprise and that's certainly the case here. Yet another album I picked up in passing and clung tight to for the rest of the year.

Department of Eagles - No One Does It Like You
(Buy album here)

2) Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes need no introduction at this point. They are undoubtedly the band of the year, coming from out of nowhere to release what is probably the most talked about album of the year. 5 part harmonies, astounding vocal melodies and the most tasteful group of musicians you will ever find make for a jaw dropping recording. This record astounds me and plays in my dreams regularly. The line "Through the forest / down to your grave / where the bird's wait / and the tall grasses sway" gives me the chills everytime. The imagery is so vivid and the music so soulful and achingly beautiful. If these 5 gentleman had been born in the middle ages they would have been the most celebrated musicians of their time. The phrase timeless is thrown about rather haphazardly in music criticism, but if it is not warranted here, then I can think of no time when it would be.

Fleet Foxes - Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
(Buy album here)

1) Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight
This is the album that had me singing along the most this year. How can you not relate to the haggard and heartbroken yelp of Scott Hutchison. How can you not want to order another whiskey and howl along to lines like " why won't our love keel over as it chokes on a bone / then we can mourn it's passing and then bury it in snow". I can recall some of the best times of the past year of my life being soundtracked by this album and I can so clearly see this album framing my future memories in much the same way. The Midnight Organ Fight isn't urgent but it's oh so relevant. Relevant to this time in my life and to the life of my friends and that is really what makes the difference between a solid record and a record that is important to you. I've seen Frightened Rabbit 5 times this year and I walked away each time with the biggest smile on my face you could imagine. Nothing gets better. Best of the year. Cheers fellas!

Frightened Rabbit - Poke
(Buy album here)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What to do this week


Go to the Mohawk for Sea Legs' CD release show for their new LP, Ghost of Alabama. I hear a lot of early Wilco as well as Sea Wolf's (Sea Wolf not Sea Legs) excellent 2007 effort Leaves in the River on Ghost of Alabama. One Hundred Flowers and Dana Falconberry provide support and I've been told that Sea Legs plays at around 11pm.

Sea Legs - I Know

From Ghost of Alabama


Brightblack Morning Light at Mohawk

Buy tix here


Local Music is Sexy at The Mohawk (holy shit thats a lot of Mohawk!!)

Buy tix at the free shit store (i'd show up early)

Featuring: Brothers and Sisters / The Lovely Sparrows / Foot Patrol / Eastern Sea & Special FFF Guest

This weekend:

Fun Fun Fun Fest Motherfuckers!

Info here

Tix here

Afterparty info here

and finally on a personal note, Hoo-fuckin-ray!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Built To Spill cover "Paper Planes"

Below you will find a video of Built To Spill covering MIA's "Paper Planes" at a recent show in Italy. I must admit that I am bored to tears with this song by now, but I love Built To Spill and this version isn't all that bad.

(Via Stereogum)

Friday, October 24, 2008

New My Brightest Diamond

My Brightest Diamond (aka Shara Worden, previously of Sufjan Stevens' Illinois-makers) released a new album this summer called A Thousand Shark's Teeth. It's a fantastic effort and continues along the same musical lines as her previous release Bring Me The Workhorse. Shara's beautiful voice dances elegantly over an intricate mix of guitar, piano, strings, and various other interesting little plucks and oddities of sound throughout the course of A Thousand Shark's Teeth's 11 tracks. Highly recommended for fans of St. Vincent.

My Brightest Diamond - From The Top Of The World

Buy A Thousand Shark's Teeth here

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Disapointed in Margot

Sorry about the 3 Margot posts in a row...

Sunday night at the Mohawk Margot & the Nuclear So and Sos played their second Austin show of 2008. As is to be expected from a band that just released a new album (2 new albums actually) the set was filled mostly with new songs (I didn't write down the set list but off the top of my head I can think of 4 old songs that they played: Skeleton Key, On a Freezing Chicago Street, Vampires in Blue Dresses, and Quiet as a Mouse). Overall, the band played well and sounded fine. They actually had 2 additional strings players (from the fantastic opening band Judgement Day) on stage for the show bringing the total number of musicians to 10. The sight of all of those people crammed onto the stage combined with their chic homemade lighting made for quite a spectacle. But somehow the band, specifically singer Richard Edwards, was able to ruin the show for me despite my unhealthy excitement and love for Margot's music.

Let me start with May 30 at Emo's. Margot played to a room full of people, many of which were admittedly a little rude to the band…involved in conversations that drowned out the quieter parts of the songs. After about 35 minutes Richard Edwards announced that the next song would be their last, adding a snide comment about how people were more concerned about what "Suzy was doing later" than listening to music. Fortunately, the band decided to come back out to play another 8 songs or so, but Edwards' attitude made the rest of the show difficult to enjoy for those of us who were there to listen to music.

Fast forward to Tuesday, October 7, release date for Margot's new albums Animal! and Not Animal. Of course, we've already discussed the conflict between the band and their label that ultimately resulted in there being 2 albums released. But I couldn't help but be a little put off by the fact that the band aired their dirty laundry in public. To me it seemed like a typical major label situation that certainly didn't warrant the bands public rebellion against the company that paid to make the record that Margot couldn't afford to finish on their own. Did they not realize that by signing with a major label they'd be relinquishing a great deal of control over their releases? I'm not supportive of the way major record labels do business but it is pretty obvious in 2008 that they are not interested in the artistic value of what they release. Ultimately though, the real loser in this situation is the fan who happens to enjoy Not Animal, the "label compiled collection of songs." We're now made to feel guilty about enjoying Broadripple is Burning and The Ocean because we know that the band disapproves of those songs being on the album.

So now let's get back to Sunday night at the Mohawk. It was obvious from the beginning that the band has been getting a little heat about playing so many new songs. Richard Edwards came into the show with a chip on his shoulder about it. He mentioned after 5 or 6 songs that they'd be playing a lot of new songs tonight because "that's what a band does when they release a new record." At that point someone shouted that they should just "break the rules" by playing old songs. Edwards' response: "fuck you." I couldn't tell if that "fuck you" came with a smile or not, I'm hoping it did. They labored through a few more songs, obviously reluctant to pepper in the few older songs that they actually did play and then decided to let everyone know that this was the last Margot tour ever. I have no idea whether that's true, but my gut tells me it was just Richard Edwards being a prima donna once again and trying for a cheap joke that simultaneously reminds people that he is in control and that he's not happy playing for those fans that came out to support him. After Margot took their encore break they came back to play the most uninspired version of Quiet as a Mouse I've ever heard. I remember seeing them play this song in 2006 and getting goosebumps when Edwards strained to scream "when I woke my back was broke from lying on the floor, sunlight poured through all the cracks in my front door" while pounding the muted guitar strings while I waited in nervous anticipation for the band to kick in at full volume. But on Sunday it was obvious he couldn't wait to just get through the song, barely mumbling the words over a guitar tone that should be embarrassing for a professional musician. If this is the treatment they're going to give to the older songs, I'm glad they don't play them anymore. But once again the attitude ruined another Margot show for me. And once again I'm made to feel guilty, this time for liking the old songs...apparently it's not okay with Richard Edwards that I'm a fan of Dust of Retreat.

The days of rock stars are over. And if there was to be a rock star in 2008 it surely wouldn't be Richard Edwards of Margot & the Nuclear So and So's. Today, bands are lucky when they're able to reach enough people in this fragmented market to be able to make albums and tour for a living. For most bands that I see live these days, a certain degree of humility and appreciation is expressed for the position that they are in. But not Margot. I'm not saying they shouldn't be frustrated that people only want to hear old songs or that they have problems with their label or that they don't have any money. But when that frustration is so obvious that it alienates fans, that's a problem.

Margot & the Nuclear So and So's are one of my favorite bands. I love every one of their 3 albums. But at this point, I hope this is their last tour because I'm sick of Richard Edwards doing everything in his power to convince me that I shouldn't like his band. If the stress and frustration of being in this band are too much to handle, for the love of God, please just quit if that's what you want to do. No one has a gun to your head (well maybe Epic does now...I think it's a 2 album contract). But I guess no one is forcing me to go to the shows either...so it looks like I should probably excuse myself from attending Margot shows from this point forward.

One more thing...Andy Fry, Casey Tennis, and most of the rest of the band look like they're having a great time on stage. I wonder if they stand by Richard Edwards and support the way that he behaves?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Margot addendum

I completely forgot to mention that Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos will be playing at the Mohawk this sunday night. The always entertaining David Vandervelde opens for them.

Buy tickets here

Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos w/ David Vandervelde and Judgement Day
Sunday October 12th @ The Mohawk
Show starts at 8pm
Tickets are $8

New Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos

Indianapolis based Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos have just released their sophomore and junior albums on the same day. The band has been working on the follow up to 2006's fantastic The Dust of Retreat for quite some time. The album, which was referred to as Animal! almost from the start, was finished some months ago but there were differences between the band and their new label (Epic) about which tracks should make up the new album. The band argued for one tracklisting, while Epic pushed for a similar, but different, set of songs. In the end a compromise of sorts was reached and now the band has just released Animal! (their tracklist) and Not Animal (Epic's pick) simultaneously this past Tuesday.

The band suggests you listen to Animal! first as it is their true vision of what the album should be and refer to Not Animal simply as another collection of songs that Epic is releasing. Animal! is available for purchase here on vinyl (apparently the album is not currently available on CD or Itunes and the like. I can only assume this is due to the differences with the label) Not Animal can be purchased here and via the usual digital retailers. Personally, I can't choose which album I like better. My gut makes me gravitate towards Animal! since it is the band's true honest vision of what the album should be, but Not Animal features a couple of tunes I was really hoping would make the new album that are absent from Animal! (namely "Broadripple is Burning" and "The Ocean (Is Bleeding Salt)"). At the end of the day I guess, more than anything, I'm just happy to have so much new Margot to listen to. Check out a couple of tracks from the new album(s) below.

Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos - Hello Vagina
(This one is on both albums)

Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos - Broadripple Is Burning
(just on Not Animal)

This Will Destroy You/Lymbyc Systym split EP

Austin(ish) bands This Will Destroy You and Lymbyc Systym are getting set to release a new split EP called Field Studies via Magic Bullet Records. The EP is available now through the Magic Bullet store and will also be available on the band's upcoming European Tour. This Will Destroy You offer up 2 new songs while Lymbyc Systym offer 3. Check out the tracks below for a preview.

This Will Destroy You - Brutalism and the Worship of the Machine

Lymbyc Systym - Narita

Buy Field Studies here

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ticket Giveaway: The Calm Blue Sea CD Release show at Emo's Lounge on Saturday

The Calm Blue Sea CD release show (read my review of the album here) is going on this Saturday night (October 4th) at Emo's Lounge and I have a pair of guest list spots to give away for the show. Leave a comment telling me why you want to go to the show and you'll be entered to win. I'll select a winner at random on Friday and will notify the winner via email. The winner and a friend will get free entry into the show. Also on the bill on Saturday are Murdocks, The Midgetmen, Hat Talk, and Businessman DJs will be spinning between sets. It should be a fun night.

Emo's Lounge
Saturday October 4th
The Calm Blue Sea CD Release show
w/ Murdocks, The Midgetmen, Hat Talk, and Businessman DJs
Doors @ 8, Show @ 10
Tickets available at the door

The Calm Blue Sea - Literal (mp3)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some Videos

Got a couple of cool live performance videos to share with you. Both come from Pitchfork.tv. The first is Plants and Animals performing "Faerie Dance", off of their phenomenal Parc Avenue LP, on a city rooftop and the second featuring M83 perform the song "Kim & Jessie" from this year's Saturdays=Youth in Juan's Basement. Both performances are strong enough that I thought they deserved your attention.

Plants and Animals - Faerie Dance

Plants and Animals - Faerie Dance (mp3)

Buy Parc Avenue here

M83 - Kim & Jessie

M83 - Kim & Jessie (mp3)

Buy Saturdays=Youth here

You can check out Plants and Animals at Emos on Oct 20th when they come through town with another great band, Born Ruffians.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mogwai @ Stubbs 9.12.08

The Mogwai show last Friday was every bit as phenomenal as I hoped it would be. Hurricane Ike spared us any rain and the show went off without a hitch. The band ripped through a set that featured lots of new material (they played five tracks off of The Hawk Is Howling) while at the same time delivering quite a few old classics such as Mogwai Fear Satan, Like Herod, Helicon 1, and Yes! I am a Long Way From Home. The band sounded really tight and blew the (nonexistant) roof off of Stubbs at various points. If you missed the show, you are in luck as you can experience the show digitally via the photos below and the excellent bootleg of the show that surfaced on Archive.org today.

Set List

01. Yes! I am a Long Way From Home
02. Ithaca 27o9
03. The Precipice
04. Helicon I
05. I Love You, I'm Going to Blow Up Your School
06. Friend of the Night
07. Ex-Cowboy
08. I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead
09. Mogwai Fear Satan
10. Thank You Space Captain
11. Hunted by a Freak
12. Scotland's Shame
13. Like Herod
14. Batcat
15. We're No Here

Mogwai - Helicon 1 (live at Stubbs 9.12.08) (mp3)

Get the rest of the set here.

(photos by Mike Blackwell)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Grails are a hard working band. The Portland, OR based group are set to release their second full length album of the year, Doomsdayer's Holiday, on Oct 7th through Temporary Residence (Explosions in the Sky, Mono, The Drift) a few short months after releasing Take Refuge In Clean Living on Important Records. Like many other vocal-less bands, Grails tend to get lumped into the Post-Rock genre, but to me Post-Rock means a band like Mogwai, Mono, Caspian, or This Will Destroy You, all bands that are pretty heavy and really loud. Grails take these elements and use them sparsely, but the majority of their musical space is filled with unique instrumentation (lots of middle eastern sounds) and a more mellow approach that reminds me more of label mates The Drift or some of the more Jazz leaning rock bands around. Their sound is rather hard to describe because the band's musical output is so diverse. Doomsdayer's Holiday is definitely sludgier and more evil sounding at points while Take Refuge In Clean Living is a bit more spry. You have to listen to the music to really understand this band. It would take many many words to accurately convey the multitude of sounds you will hear when you listen to them.

Grails - Take Refuge (mp3)

Buy Take Refuge In Easy Living here

Grails - Reincarnation Blues (mp3)

Buy Doomsdayer's Holiday here

Saturday, September 13, 2008

ACL Fest coming up pretty quick

ACL fest is creeping up on us pretty quickly and it's probably about time to start planning out your schedule. There is a cool little scheduler application at Sched.org that can help you organize your picks and even create a cool widget for your myspace, facebook, blog, etc. I made one of my picks which you can check out below. Even if you don't plan on making it out to the park, all of the great ACl Aftershows are also listed.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

GFY Ike! (Long Live Mogwai!)

Mannnnnnnn, Hurricane Ike better stay the hell away from Austin tomorrow night because if the Mogwai show gets rained out I am going to go on a rampage. It's been 5 years since I last saw my favorite live band in the universe and I will not accept any of this rain nonsense! I will be swimming in positive thoughts from here on out, I swear. So, obviously, this is a post about the Mogwai show at Stubbs tomorrow night. I've had my ticket for a while now and the anticipation is mounting. In order to get all of you psyched for the show here is a little treat for you. Fuck Buttons are opening all of the dates on this US Tour and at each stop the bands have made available a limited edition split EP which features each band taking on one of the other's songs. Mogwai contribute a remix of the Fuck Buttons song "Colours Move", while Fuck Buttons offer up their take on the Mogwai classic "Mogwai Fear Satan". I have the latter available for you below. Be sure to grab a copy for yourself at the Merch table tomorrow night.

Fuck Buttons - Mogwai Fear Satan (mp3)

Get your tickets here while they last.

The Mogwai show is the big news of the night but there is more rock for you after the show is over a few feet away from Stubbs' main stage. After the show be sure to make your way inside for the free (with Mogwai wristband) The Calm Blue Sea set at the After-party (i'm sure you can pay at the door too if you decide not to go to Mogwai for some reason). These local post rockers have certainly spent their fair share of time listening to Mogwai and I'm sure they'll be front row for the show before they unleash their own post-rock fury inside. They have a brand new album finished (which I recently reviewed here) and I'm sure they will have copies available at the show. Bring your fucking earplugs everybody!

The Calm Blue Sea - Literal (mp3)

Buy The Calm Blue Sea (digitally) here

Also, be sure to make it out to Emo's Lounge on October 4th for The Calm Blue Sea's official CD Release show with The Midgetmen, The Murdocks, and Hat Talk.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Dude Abides

Just wanted to post a quick link to one of the best articles I have ever read on any subject. I'm serious about that too. This article happens to be about the tenth anniversary of, what could be my favorite film of all time and what is definitely the most enjoyably quotable film of my lifetime, The Big Lebowski. I am in total awe of how good of a writer Joe Crosby is.

The Dude Abides::Ten Years Later


Standing in for The Stand Ins

Okkervil River have a new album out called The Stand Ins which is a companion piece to last years excellent The Stage Names. In a brilliant bit of pre album release promotion, the band enlisted several of their peers to cover, acoustically, one song each from their album. The resulting covers (by a myriad of artists including Bon Iver, David Vandervelde, Crooked Fingers, and more) are fantastic and, having listened to them before I listened to the album itself, made for a very unique listening experience the first time I popped The Stand Ins in. Below I have posted a couple of my favorite covers. The rest of them can be found here.

Crooked Fingers - Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed On The Roof Of The Chelsea Hotel, 1979

Zykos - On Tour With Zykos

Bon Iver - Blue Tulip

AC Newman w/ Will Sheff - Lost Coastlines

Okkervil River - Blue Tulip (mp3)

Buy The Stand Ins here

Bon Iver on Conan

Here's a video of Bon Iver performing "Flume" on Conan the other night. I'm sure everyone has heard this song or seen some sort of live incantation of it over the last year or so, but this version is slightly different, featuring a fourth member who was not present every other time I've seen the band perform. Adding a fourth harmony line doesn't so much change the song as it simply makes everything a bit more rich and full.

Bon Iver - Flume (live on Late Night with Conan O'Brien)

Bon Iver - Flume (mp3)

Buy For Emma, Forever Ago here

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Calm Blue Sea album review

The Calm Blue Sea’s debut, self titled LP (recorded at Cacophony Recorders with local wunderkind producer and engineer Erik Wofford this summer) begins gently with a delicately strummed set of guitar strings and a warm wash of delay. The music then builds and swells before dropping out again and being replaced by a tranquil piano melody. All of this takes place during the first 90 of the album’s 2787 seconds. Expect more of this. The Calm Blue Sea is an album brimming with tenuous lows and exalting highs, rife with both tranquility and chaos. Each track slides gracefully into the next (this is a gapless album) to create an overarching composition that quickly becomes greater than the sum of its individual parts. Having seen the band live many times, I can tell you that this seamlessness carries over to the live show, often leaving the audience unsure of where one song ends; the next begins, or even when to applaud.

If I were to map out opening track "We Happy Few" in terms of song dynamics, the map would resemble a sequence of three mountains, each increasing in size, with low, peaceful valleys between. The song slowly builds into peak one, then the music quickly drops for a languorous moment before climbing to an epic crescendo, only to drop again, hinting at an end that is still minutes away, and finally climb to its highest peak yet. "We Happy Few" slides effortlessly into what I would call the albums single, if a single can be seven and a half minutes long. "Literal" is the only track to feature vocals and rises and falls beautifully from end to end. The last three minutes of "Literal" are a constant build to a dizzying high of crashing drums, crushing bass, squealing guitars and keyboards that satiate the song’s soundscape.

The Calm Blue Sea - Literal (mp3)

My favorite moment on The Calm Blue Sea is the decrescendo towards the three quarter mark of "The Rivers That Run Beneath This City", wherein each band member slowly drops out of the mix, stripping the song first of guitar, then bass, then piano, and finally of drums for a brief moment of dead silence before the song crashes back into life. In a genre full of lots of slow builds and sudden drops, it’s nice to see a band focus on the comedown too.

The Calm Blue Sea is an album that I would describe as methodically proportioned and barely constrained servings of melody and chaos. At times the band is downright mathematical in their precision, interlacing and intertwining intricate piano and guitar lines while the rhythm section pounds away on the low end, then with a sudden crash of stick to snare, all hell breaks loose, but always perfectly on command. The band clearly draws a large amount of influence from this era’s great Post Rock bands such as Mogwai, Mono, Explosions in the Sky, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. That’s not all I hear though. I hear Pink Floyd. I hear Zeppelin. I hear Siamese Dream. I hear the influence of an entire era of music that chose big loud tube amps in combination with delay and distortion pedals over a Wah-wah pedal and a solid state amp. I really love this album and I expect great things from these 5 musicians in the future.

The Calm Blue Sea is being self released by the band and is currently available for purchase digitally from the following locations as well as at their shows and local record shops around Austin.

Buy The Calm Blue Sea at emusic

Buy The Calm Blue Sea at Amazon

Frightened Rabbit live album in October

According to a news blurb I just read on Pitchfork, Scotland's own Frightened Rabbit will be releasing a live album on Oct 21st called Liver! Lung! FR!. The album is being released by FatCat and features some guest vocals from James Graham of The Twilight Sad. Weeeee that sounds pretty kick ass. This is a perfect excuse for me to link all of you to some great videos of one of their semi-recent Austin shows at The Mohawk. The folks over at Switchburn are to thank for these lovely visuals.

Frightened Rabbit - The Greys (live at the Mohawk 06.05.08)

There are 3 more videos from this show here in much larger size. Be sure to check out the rest of the site too as it is chock full o' rock and roll videos.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Walkmen - In The New Year (live)

The Walkmen recently filmed a set with Juan's Basement for Pitchfork.tv and the first part was posted today. It's hard to remember a band I've seen live before who play with as much passion and energy as The Walkmen do, and that energy is overly evident in the strained muscles running around Hamilton Leithauser's neck as he reaches way way deep for those awesome yells. Check this one out for sure and be sure to keep an eye out for parts 2 and 3.

The Walkmen - In The New Year (mp3)

Buy You & Me here

Wilco and Fleet Foxes covering Bob Dylan

Oh man, this is too perfect, Wilco and Fleet Foxes covering "I Shall Be Released" in Spokane, WA. As you watch this video, don't be surprised when a weird feeling overtakes you, the feeling of a hidden itch being scratched, or a desire you were unaware that you had suddenly being fulfilled. In a word, it's perfect. These bands were meant to cover this song in just this manner. Good stuff.

via You Ain't No Picasso

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Quick Note

Some of you may have already noticed a subtle change to the site lately. My name and face covering picture, which previously occupied the upper right hand corner of this plot of world wide weird real estate, have been replaced by a Contributors list. This is because I have brought aboard just that, a contributor. This new contributor goes by the name of Chris and will be helping me out with keeping these digital pages full of wonderful music and images. He's already added some great content and hopefully the two of us can now do as much or more than I previously did when I wasn't so goddamn busy all the time. Enjoy the rest of this long weekend everyone.

New Kings of Leon video - "Sex on Fire"

There are 5 guys in Kings of Leon and their new video for the song "Sex On Fire" from their forthcoming Only By The Night features no women..... Eh, the song's still pretty good.

Kings of Leon - Sex On Fire
Sex On Fire

Thursday, August 28, 2008

First Aid Kit

News travels fast...I came across this video yesterday on Music For Robots and now it's all over these Internets. It's a Fleet Foxes cover by two teenage girls from Sweden called First Aid Kit. Take a look at the video and you'll see what all the fuss is about. Good for them. I haven't had the chance to listen to their EP yet but I will be checking it out for sure. Enjoy.

New Yeasayer

It seems like every time I go to a show I hear a song that I've never heard before that I'm really into. That happens all the time. But rarely do I hear a song that I've never heard before and remember that song enough by the time I get home to look it up. That's exactly what happened when I saw Yeasayer open up for The National at Central Park in NYC this summer. Nearly 7 hours after hearing the song for the first time, I was still singing the line "Stick up for yourself son, never mind what anybody else done" over and over in my head.

It looks like the song is called Amblin' Alp and it's as good as anything off Yeasayer's fantastic 2007 release All Hour Cymbals. Unfortunately, I haven't found a proper recording of the tune so all we have right now are live YouTube videos. Here are a couple of those videos of this amazing new Yeasayer song (neither are great quality, but it gets the point across):

Yeasayer will be in Austin for the Austin City Limits Festival and The National will be playing Fun Fun Fun Fest.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Barsuk Records, based out of Seattle, is one of my favorite record labels. Actually, they are one of two labels whose bands I will listen to simply because they are Barsuk bands (Fat Cat is the other one). So I have to be honest, I was a little disappointed a few months ago when I heard Barsuk signed Ra Ra Riot. Everything I'd heard about the band made me think I would hate them, and after all of their SXSW buzz I just wrote them off as the next overhyped band. But I was wrong and I would have never known it without Barsuk. I forced myself to listen to their new record, The Rhumb Line, and I love it. It's pop in all the right ways...intelligent, captivating, and sweet all at the same time. Ra Ra Riot has been getting tons of press recently, and they deserve it. I'm sure there's a lesson somewhere here about not jumping to conclusions or making swift judgments but I'm not really sure.

New video for "Ghost Under Rocks," the first track from The Rhumb Line:

Buy tickets to see Ra Ra Riot in Austin. They play Stubb's on October 3 with The Morning Benders.

This summer Barsuk also released Lackthereof's, Your Anchor. Fans of Danny Seim's other band, Menomena, will probably be into his solo work as Lackthereof. A few of the songs on Your Anchor ("Choir Practice," "Last November") have actually made me forget, albeit briefly, that I haven't heard a new Menomena album since January of 2007. Seim closes out the record with a stripped down cover of The National's "Fake Empire" that's definitely worth a listen as well.

Purchase the new Lackthereof record, Your Anchor here. You can also find this album as well as a whole slew of older Lackthereof material for sale all over the Internet.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Depressing Fucking News

Got an email today from Ryan Cano with The Loyalty Firm that needs to be read by a lot of people. The Loyalty Firm manages one of Austin's best local bands, The Boxing Lesson. According to the email The Boxing Lesson's drummer Jake Mitchell, who is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, has been sentenced to 60 months in prison and branded a Narco-Terrorist under the menacing black glove that is the Patriot Act. Jake was busted for growing Marijuana in 2006 (no one is debating the criminal aspect of this) and was somehow categorized as a Narco-Terrorist and tried under the much more stringent Patriot Act laws. On top of the wholly unnecessary severity of this conviction, Jake's wife is currently in jail herself serving a 6 month term as a co-conspirator for failing to turn her own husband in. I'm having trouble finding the words to express my indignation at these events. The whole email is available below for you to read. Jake, if you read this, my heart goes out to you and your family. If any of you reading this think this is as preposterous and outrageous as I do, help spread the word. Link to this post, or any of the myriad of similar posts made around the internet today, forward Ryan's email to your contact list, write a letter, do what it takes to make your voice heard. Thanks!

The Boxing Lesson are Narco-terrorists? Free Jake Mitchell.

Austin,TX (August 20, 2008) You know The Boxing Lesson aren't ones to keep their mouths shut after several interviews and appearances since the release of their full length LP Wild Streaks & Windy Days. The real truth of the matter is that The Boxing Lesson have kept one of the most important parts of their story a secret. It is with much sadness we make this announcement but its time the public knows what is going on. It is with much sadness we make this announcement but its time the public knows what is going on.

Jake Mitchell, drummer for The Boxing Lesson and most importantly, a
dear friend, will be put in Federal jail at the beginning of Sept
for some marijuana growing charges. What makes this story unique and
what has enraged every single one of our close friends, is that Jake
has been branded by our government as a Terrorist under the Patriot
Act. In fact, they have thrown the Narco-Terrorist tag on him.
What this does legally for a defendant is mind blowing in terms of the
new laws waged against them. If you are branded a terrorist, your
wife doesn't get spousal protections and will go to jail. If you are
branded a terrorist, each party involved in the crime gets full
responsibility for the scope of the crime. Then there are strict sentencing
minimums. And remember we are talking about Marijuana here.

It is obvious from anyone who has ever met, hung out with and gotten to know
Jake Mitchell that he is anything but a terrorist. This incorrect and unfair
branding on our own US citizen and friend, Jake Mitchell, is a disgrace
and this has caused untypical hardships on his life. He has sold his house,
lost his cars, and his freedom. We are asking our friends in the media,
in bands, in t-shirt screen shops and really, anyone who can help, to send
the message of his story to the public eye. We know there was a crime
involved but branding him a terrorist has set unfair sentencing guidelines on
a person who is anything but a terrorist.

We are accepting PayPal donations to help Jake's mounting legal bills
at : freejakemitchell@gmail.com

Jake Mitchell is available for interviews before jail or in jail
and has a lot to say right now about the music biz, The Boxing Lesson,
the system, playing drums, recording, Fecal Shock, Austin bands,
marijuana laws, and life in general. Final performances from Jake
Mitchell until he gets out will be next week in Austin,TX!

August 27, 2008 @ Emo's Lounge 101x Homegrown Live show w/ Frontier Brothers
August 28, 2008 @ Carousel Lounge (Monkey Wrench Benefit)

Come out and celebrate life with Jake before our government
intervenes. Fans of The Boxing Lesson have no fear, you can keep
hearing your favorite songs live. Keeping the seat warm for Jake
Mitchell behind the drums will be Kevin Sparks, a veteran of the
Austin music scene who has played with many bands including Bad
Motivators, Say Hello to the Angels and Megatron Triggerdick.
Until next time, we?ll see you on the Dark Side of the Moog.

For interview, please contact Ryan Cano @ The Loyalty Firm.


Ryan Cano, Owner
The Loyalty Firm
Management & Publicity


ROSTER ::: Aster, Black Box Opera, The Boxing Lesson, Built By Snow, Fecal Shock,
Midnight Assembly

* The Boxing Lesson - "Wild Streaks & Windy Days" new LP out now!!! *

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fleet Foxes on Letterman

This video's a bit old (about two weeks) by Internet standards but it's just so damn good I had to post it. I am absolutely enraptured by the Fleet Foxes. I cannot stop listening to both their s/t full length and the Sun Giant EP that preceded it. I don't know how I didn't catch them during SXSW. The video below is of them performing "Blue Ridge Mountains", one of the standouts on Fleet Foxes and a wonderful choice of song that I was honestly surprised they chose to play, on Letterman. They are too good.

Fleet Foxes - Blue Ridge Mountains

Buy Fleet Foxes here

Download Fleet Foxes Daytrotter Session here

Fun Fun Fest lineup announced

The lineup for Fun Fun Fun Fest was announced today and it is killer. People say it all the time, but there really is going to be something for everyone at this fest. A couple highlights for me are The National, St. Vincent, Centro-Matic, Bad Brains, Dan Deacon, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Islands, Annuals, Trail of Dead, Frightened Rabbit, Magnetic Morning, Dr. Octagon, and some sort of comedy set from the always twisted Tim and Eric's Awesome Show (If Dr. Steve Brule, aka John C Reilly, somehow makes an appearance I am going to scream like a little girl and shit my pants). I'm really excited about this one and two day passes are only $60! Come the fuck on, how are you not going to go to this?!?!? There are some great local bands playing too, including the always enjoyable Broken Social Scene-esque Til We're Blue or Destroy and the thoroughly enjoyable alt-country stylings of Frank Smith (it's a full band goddammit). Tickets should be going on sale soon. I'll let you know the where as well as the when as soon as I know. Check out the full lineup here.

Frightened Rabbit - The Modern Leper

St. Vincent - These Days (Jackson Browne cover)

Here's a video recap of the 2007 edition compiled by the ridiculously talented folks at Super Alright Studios.

Fun Fun Fun Fest 2007 Recap from Super!Alright! on Vimeo.

© Blogger Templates | Webtalks