Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Frightened Rabbit - Good Arms vs Bad Arms

A beautiful, powerful breakup song off this Scottish band's tremendous sophomore album.

MP3 Frightened Rabbit - Good Arms vs Bad Arms (from 2008's The Midnight Organ Fight)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Jeff Mangum - Two-Headed Boy (live at the Knitting Factory, NYC, in 1998)

Wow. The intensity that is Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel. No wonder people throw fits every time he appears to sing backup at an Olivia Tremor Control or Elf Power show. Come back Jeff!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Girls - Lust for Life

You have to hand it to San Francisco's Girls. With perhaps the least Google-able band name possible, they have nonetheless ascended to the top of the search results. This song is a good example of their retro sound. They most often get compared to the Beach Boys and are certainly as melodic but also much noisier. Right now the band is famous mostly for its frontman Christopher Owens' (right, above) having grown up in the cult Children of God.

Note: this is not an Iggy Pop cover!

Girls - Lust for Life (from 2009's Album)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lou Barlow - Gravitate

Catchy single from Lou's new solo record. He is the bass player and writes the introspective lyrics for Dinosaur, Jr., Sebadoh and The Folk Implosion.

MP3 Lou Barlow - Gravitate (from 2009's Goodnight Unknown)

Here We Go Magic - Fangela

Here We Go Magic is the moniker of young singer-songwriter Luke Temple from magical Salem, Massachusetts, who also performs under his own name.

MP3 Here We Go Magic - Fangela (from 2009's Here We Go Magic)

The Antlers - Two

It's been TOO LONG since we've featured a new Brooklyn band, so here are the Antlers with the tune Sirius XMU's been playing off their 2009 LP, Hospice. Record gets an 8.5 from Pitchfork.

MP3 The Antlers - Two (from 2009's Hospice)

Holy Fuck - Lovely Allen

I know this is old (2007) and already a car commercial, but the song just keeps sounding better and better to me. From Toronto, these guys use real instruments and children's toys to make electronic-sounding sounds without using computers. Pretty cool!

Holy Fuck - Lovely Allen (from 2007's LP)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vampire Weekend - Horchata

Because I just love it and can't wait for the new album! (Bert's birthday, January 12th)...

MP3 Vampire Weekend - Horchata (from 2010's Contra)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Flaming Lips - Watching the Planets live on Conan

Absolutely hilarious and who doesn't wanna bang that gong? Funniest live rock show I ever saw, well worth the price of admission. New double LP getting fantastic reviews.

MP3 The Flaming Lips - Watching the Planets (from 2009's Embryonic, featuring Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Beatles vs Radiohead

So let us review...this week the Beatles' remastered albums were reissued and reviewed by Pitchfork, who rated them as follows:

1963 Please Please Me 9.5
1963 With the Beatles 8.8
1964 A Hard Day’s Night 9.7
1964 Beatles for Sale 9.3
1965 Help! 9.2
1965 Rubber Soul 10.0
1966 Revolver 10.0
1967 Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 10.0
1967 Magical Mystery Tour 10.0
1968 The Beatles (the white album) 10.0
1969 Yellow Submarine 6.2
1969 Abbey Road 10.0
1970 Let It Be 9.1

Compare these numbers to the numbers for Radiohead, the most critically acclaimed band of the last 15 years:

1993 Pablo Honey 5.4
1995 The Bends 10.0
1997 OK Computer 10.0
2000 Kid A 10.0
2001 Amnesiac 9.5
2003 Hail to the Thief 8.6
2007 In Rainbows 9.7

In their 8 years of recording together, the Beatles put out 12 studio albums (not including the soundtrack to Yellow Submarine, which Pitchfork rightfully calls the "only minor album" of their career), including the double white album. They released at least one album every one of those years, and most years they released TWO. In contrast, in 18 years of recording, Radiohead have put out just seven studio albums, and no doubles.

Now I love me some Radiohead, but there is no overestimating the significance of the Beatles' catalog on popular music.

Of course there is a major difference between the bands. After 1965, the Beatles were strictly a studio outfit. They did not tour or perform live at all (except for that rooftop last-gasp thing), which gave them lots of time to write and record. Bands can no longer pull this off and are now forced to tour relentlessly, as recorded music is something most people don't pay for anymore.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Dead Weather - Treat Me Like Your Mother

Super cool video by The Dead Weather, Jack White's new project with Alison Mosshart of The Kills. If you've ever wanted to mow down an ex...

The Dead Weather - Treat Me Like Your Mother

Friday, June 5, 2009

X - We're Desperate (live in Philly)

I posted this clip to youtube! My favorite band of all time X played a great requests-only set last night at WXPN's World Café on Walnut Street in Philly, a fantastic venue that seats only a few hundred and serves excellent food to boot. Mark went to his first punk show in 30 years. Openers Twisted Hearts (featuring Steve Soto of Agent Orange and the Adolescents) were also very good. And the World Café actually has free parking now right across from the club, it's amazing!

X - White Girl
(from 1981's Wild Gift)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

RIP Jay Bennett, 1963-2009

Bennett smoking one of millions of cigarettes during the filming of IATTBYH.

Mark and I watched I Am Trying to Break Your Heart last night in honor of Jay. We're seeing Wilco July 18th at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill, NY, with Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band.

Chicago Tribune obit
NYT obit
BrooklynVegan tribute

MP3 Wilco - I'm Always in Love (from 1999's Summerteeth)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sigur Rós video on Pitchfork TV

MUST-SEE incredible 48-minute behind-the-scenes documentary on Sigur Rós, this week only on Pitchfork TV.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Rivers Cuomo and Rainn Wilson - One of Us

Recording was done for this weekend's "takeover" of Sirius Radio's AltNation by Rivers Cuomo of Weezer and actor and Coconut Records frontman Jason Schwartzmann (two Coppola posts in a row, what are the chances?). They don't actually start the song until 4:40 but Rivers sings it quite beautifully, and Rainn does a more than serviceable job on bongo.

MP3 Joan Osborne - One of Us
(from 1995's Relish)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Phoenix - Love Like a Sunset

Like Air and Daft Punk, this French band is from Versailles, but unlike their neighbors, Phoenix are not a techno outfit, but more of a straight-up indie rock band (though with some techno elements), who sing in English. In other words, they sound like they could be from Brooklyn.

Frontman Thomas Mars (looking right at you, above) is director Sofia Coppola's boyfriend and father of her two-year-old daughter. They met when Mars was helping with the music for Coppola's directorial debut, The Virgin Suicides, one of Anneliese's favorite movies when she was a teenager.

Below, this seven-and-a-half minute opus off the nicely titled new album starts out instrumental and ambient, morphs into a (still wordless) dance number at about 3:45, and then at 5:45 completely folds on itself to become a lovely rock ballad (with vocals).

And while these vids are still up, catch the band on SNL last weekend, doing Lisztomania and 1901. As somebody said, they couldn't be from Brooklyn because they actually looked like they were having a good time on SNL, lol.

MP3 Phoenix - Love Like a Sunset (from 2009's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

M. Ward - For Beginners (aka Mt Zion)

You really have to read 35-year-old Portland, OR native M. (Matt) Ward's Wiki to get a feel for the kind of people he has worked with in his 10-year career. He is an absolute top-shelf songwriter with a warm, sexy voice, and his records are impeccably produced. The latest is fantastic, and features Ward's She & Him collaborator Zooey Deschanel, the great Lucinda Williams and Jason Lytle of Grandaddy. Highly recommended.

Very nice recent Vanity Fair interview with Ward here.

MP3 M Ward - For Beginners (aka Mt Zion) (from 2009's Hold Time)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr - A Little Help from My Friends (live at Radio City)

I'm very grateful I've had the chance to go to spectacular venues like Radio City Music Hall, so when I see a video like this, I can really imagine what it was like to be in that very big and very beautiful room participating in this communal spectacle of half-a-Beatles-reunion. Quality is poor but this is a must-see anyhow. Paul (66) and Ringo (68) share a mic and everybody knows all the words.

There's a better quality video of just Paul doing Drive My Car over here. And Ringo reaches WAY back into the catalog for Boys, here. The whole gang (including Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Sheryl Crow, Donovan, and Mike Love of the Beach Boys) does I Saw Her Standing There, here. This was a benefit for transcendental meditation organized by movie director David Lynch.

The thunderous applause that follows is of course a thank you not only for this performance but for almost 50 years of art and entertainment from these guys. It's basically a thank you for rock and roll as we know it.

I have a feeling Sir Paul is going to actually kill headlining at Coachella in eleven days. And with Morrissey (49), Franz Ferdinand (Alex Kapranos, 37), and Leonard Cohen (74) playing right before him, night one is quite excellent, if a bit on the older side for the festival. I wonder what the kiddies will think of all these geriatrics...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Prince three nights in a row on Leno

Good gracious this guy is a performer. I saw him 27 years ago open for the Rolling Stones at the enormous LA Coliseum. He was the first act on a bill that also included George Thorogood & the Destroyers and the J. Geils Band. Prince came out (this was two years before Purple Rain) and utterly KILLED, but he was booed and pelted off the stage by the Stones' macho fans after only ten minutes. It was the best ten minutes of the entire day; the Stones (on their first "farewell" tour) totally sucked.

Unlike U2's similar recent stunt, Prince's three nights on Leno was TV worth watching (on YouTube, of course). Catch Dreamer here and Feel Good, Feel Better, Feel Wonderful here. And if you'd rather see Prince wail on a song you KNOW, check out his blistering performance on While My Guitar Gently Weeps at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band includes Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne of ELO and Dhani Harrison (George's son), but Prince completely murders all on the solo.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Amadou & Mariam interview

The extremely articulate Amadou does most of the talking but occasionally Mariam or their latest producer Damon Albarn has something to say in this fascinating interview with the blind, married, French-speaking music makers from Mali.

MP3 Amadou & Mariam - Welcome to Mali (from 2008's Welcome to Mali)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are trailer (featuring Arcade Fire)

This looks like a must-see even if your kids aren't little anymore. This is the trailer for the long-anticipated Spike Jonze film of Maurice Sendak's iconic children's book Where the Wild Things Are. Soundtrack is Arcade Fire's excellent Wake Up from their 2004 debut, Funeral.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Feist and Ben Gibbard - Train Song

Aaron and Bryce Dressner of The National just produced a stellar compilation to benefit AIDS research called Dark Was the Night. It features mostly new songs and some cool collaborations by just about all the best indie artists operating these days (check out the tracklist here).

As this Dutch review put it, "'Dark Was The Night' is een fraaie staalkaart van al het nieuwe talent dat momenteel in het Amerikaanse muzieklandschap rondloopt." ("Dark Was the Night is a delicious menu of all the new talent currently inhabiting the American musical landscape." Below, Leslie Feist of herself and Broken Social Scene with Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service.

MP3 Feist and Ben Gibbard - Train Song
(from 2009's Dark Was the Night, compilation to benefit the Red Hot Organization)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cursive - From the Hips

Cursive are a four-piece from Omaha, Nebraska on Saddle Creek, the label founded by Bright Eyes wunderkind Conor Oberst when he was all of 13 years old. Their seventh full-length came out yesterday and here's the single, a fantastic song featuring the intelligent lyrics that mark this band.
We're all just trying to play our roles
In a play that runs ad nauseam
I hate this damn enlightenment
We were better off as animals, right?
MP3 Cursive - From the Hips (from 2009's Mama, I'm Swollen)

You can also watch them do this song on Letterman here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New eels album in June, woo-hoo!

It was in 1999, during the shortlived Age of Napster, that a 10-year-old Anneliese sent me some MP3s from Beautiful Freak and Electro-shock Blues with the note, "I think you'll like these." Well she was completely right, I LOVED the band/man and have only grown to love them more over the last decade. A perfect songwriter for our time, E is a misanthrope who keeps hoping. Pitchfork reports (in fact, it's their lead story today) new album Hombre Loco will be out June 2nd. They also report it appears he's still got the beard. Below, the emotional closer from the double LP Blinking Lights.

UPDATE! first track to be released off the new album, Fresh Blood, featuring E howling like a werewolf, is here.

MP3 eels - Things the Grandchildren Should Know (from 2005's Blinking Lights and Other Revelations)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tapes 'n Tapes - Hang Them All

Tapes 'n Tapes are youngsters from Minneapolis, always a good music town, on their third decent album. Thought I'd post this as these guys are playing the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, NC tonight, which I just mentioned below when talking about The Physics of Meaning.

MP3 Tapes 'n Tapes - Hang Them All
(from 2008's Walk It Off)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Black Lips - Short Fuse and O Katrina!

The Black Lips are a funny garage band from Atlanta who describe their sound as "flower punk." They do silly things like kiss each other on the lips at their shows and actually had to flee India recently for fear of being arrested for "homosexual acts." Here's their new single as well as their classic ode to a killer hurricane (O Katrina/Why you gotta be mean now?)

MP3 Black Lips - Short Fuse (from 2009's 200 Million Thousand)
MP3 Black Lips - O Katrina! (from 2007's Good Bad Not Evil)

David Byrne live at Radio City

Apparently (alas, I wasn't there) David Byrne absolutely killed the last two nights at Radio City. Above Houses in Motion and below Burning Down the House, with a New York City twist at 3:51. As always Byrne is a consummate performer and the show is highly theatrical with unusual dancing. The first clip is taken from up close but the second is from further back and shows the typically too-hip NYC audience getting into it. Great pix and setlist over at BV. FULL SCREEN these vids.

MP3 Talking Heads - Houses in Motion (from 1980's Remain in Light)
MP3 Talking Heads - Burning Down the House (from 1983's Speaking in Tongues)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Physics of Meaning - Why Can't We Fall in Love Forever? (Anything is Possible)

I don't think the kid's in the band...

The Physics of Meaning hail from Chapel Hill, NC, a cool college town. I enjoyed seeing local bands at the Cat's Cradle (technically in Carrboro, I know!) when I lived in "the Triangle" 1989-1990. The Physics of Meaning is fronted by violinist Daniel Hart who also plays with John Vanderslice, St. Vincent, and Pattern is Movement. Because there's a violin, the music is considered "chamber pop" or "baroque pop."

MP3 The Physics of Meaning - Why Can't We Fall in Love Forever? (Anything is Possible) (from 2008's Snake Charmer and Destiny at the Stroke of Midnight)

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Soft Pack - Parasites

There seems to be a lot of controversy over whether this San Diego outfit is a "real" or "manufactured" band. They used to call themselves The Muslims and just changed their name which has aroused suspicions. The old name was admittedly problematic (it was all anybody ever talked about, and made them impossible to Google) but the general consensus is that the new name sucks. Pitchfork was not particularly impressed with their 2008 self-titled debut. Whatever!

They may be a flash in the pan but this new single is one crank-it-up tune with a mad sexy bassline. Right now they're opening for Franz Ferdinand, who are touring their fine new record all over. I'd go see that. Speaking of Franz I see a cut-and-paste version of the ridiculously catchy No You Girls is already an iPod commercial--those Apple folk know how to pick 'em.

MP3 The Soft Pack - Parasites
(2009 single)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon - This is a Low

Albarn & Coxon in younger days

If you follow British pop at all, you have been hoping for the day when the two principals of Blur would finally grace a stage together again. That actually happened last night at the NME awards, when Damon Albarn (40) and Graham Coxon (39) played the gorgeous This is a Low from their 1994 Britpop masterpiece Parklife. Click here to see the performance. Apparently it was supposed to be the full band but Dave and Alex were late...though it seems fitting that Graham's return would be just him and Damon. Also interesting is this interview done immediately afterward with the childhood pals, who seem very relaxed in each other's company after about a decade of not speaking. Lovely to see! And now Pitchfork's reporting they're booking a whole bunch of reunion shows in the UK...hope they make it over here, I saw them in 2003 without Coxon and would love to see them again WITH.

MP3 Blur - This is a Low (from 1994's Parklife)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The White Stripes - We're Going to be Friends

The White Stripes played one of Conan's favorite songs for him on the last night of his show after 15 years (he's taking over for Leno at the Tonight Show, who knew? I don't really follow TV...)

Some hostile comments on brooklynvegan about this clip, directed at Meg. Thing is, whether YOU think she's good or not, Jack White needs her in some way or really gets something out of having her up there with him. When I saw them play for a small crowd for free in Union Square Park in September 2002, I was amazed at how dependent Jack seems on Meg. He stood way in the back near her drum kit and faced her a lot of the time. OK that was six and a half years ago, maybe it's different now, but I think there is just something Jack gets out of playing with Meg, even if his fans don't necessarily feel it.

MP3 The White Stripes - We're Going to be Friends (from 2002's White Blood Cells)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Contender

Yes, it's another great new band from Brooklyn! The borough where rocks bands grow on trees, or between cracks in the sidewalk. These guys-and-gal might actually have the debut of the year here with their very appealing self-titled record. Almost every song sounds like a hit to me--catchy pop with affecting melodies and vocals. Pitchfork interviews the band here and Aural States has another good interview here.

MP3 The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Contender (from 2009's The Pains of Being Pure at Heart)

UPDATE: nice video of the band doing Young Adult Friction (great song title)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bruce Springsteen - The Wrestler

The Wrestler is a heartbreaking movie and this is Bruce's excellent title song, written for and donated to the film at the request of his friend Mickey Rourke, who should have won the Oscar for this role. It plays over the closing credits and the night I was there, no one left the theater till the song finished.

Charlie Rose interviews Mickey Rourke here.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Wrens - Marked Up

The best band in New Jersey, and certainly the best band anywhere in which all the members have actual day jobs. It's been a LONG TIME (almost six years!) since their masterpiece The Meadowlands and I am jonesing for some new Wrens. This is a good start. Nice interview with the band on Stereogum here.

The Wrens - Marked Up
(from a hopefully forthcoming new album!)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Beirut - A Sunday Smile live on Letterman

22-year-old pheenom Zach Condon's Brooklyn-based band Beirut made its television debut Friday night on Letterman. They did A Sunday Smile, a very sweet oom-pah-pah off 2007's The Flying Club Cup. As with many of today's bands, it is tough to clarify exactly what makes this rock music, lush as it is with fleugelhorns, cello, violins, and accordion, and with nary a guitar or bass in sight.

MP3 Beirut - My Night with the Prostitute from Marseilles (from 2009's March of the Zapotec/Realpeople Holland)

Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood with the USC Marching Band - 15 Step

Well it's NOT really Radiohead, it's just Thom and Jonny with the entire USC marching band doing 15 Step, the opener off In Rainbows, which went on to win Alternative Album of the Year at this year's Grammy awards. The kids are wearing Radiohead t-shirts and having a blast. They'll probably rip this down in a couple days but enjoy, it was a million times better than anything else at the Grammy's (though Paul McCartney singing I Saw Her Standing Here with Dave Grohl on drums was good).

The USC Trojan Marching band has a cool clip of rehearsals for the event on their YouTube channel here. You also see the mic check prior to the Grammy performance, with Thom bopping around to the band's famous version of Fleetwood Mac's Tusk.

"You used to be all right--what happened?"

MP3 Radiohead (i.e. Thom and Jonny) and the USC Trojan Marching Band - 15 Step (live at the 2009 Grammys)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Arcade Fire, Jay-Z and Beyonce for
President Obama

It was a great week in American history. And in one of the most inspired bills ever, Arcade Fire opened for Jay-Z at Wednesday night's inaugural event for Obama campaign staffers. As Pitchfork put it, "If this bill is any sort of cosmic indication of Obama's future, he should solve the economic crisis in about four days."

Really, it's a genius move. The greatest indie band of the last five years (featuring a married couple with dual US-Canadian citizenship) and the greatest MC of all time who happens to be married to the reigning princess of pop.

Arcade Fire do their antiwar song, Intervention, at the staffers' ball

Jay-Z changes the lyrics to 99 Problems but a Bush Ain't One at the staffers' ball

Beyonce serenades the Obamas with a cover of Etta James' At Last...this was the Obamas' first dance as president and first lady the night of the inauguration

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tweedy, Marr, Finn, O'Brien and Selway -
Fake Plastic Trees

This is so nice I am just lifting it right from Pitchfork via some guy named Evan C. New Zealander Neil Finn of Split Enz and Crowded House and some of his friends (Jeff Tweedy and John Stirratt of Wilco, Ed O'Brien and Phil Selway of Radiohead, Johnny Marr of the Smiths, Modest Mouse and the Cribs) cover Radiohead's anti-consumerism anthem, Fake Plastic Trees. Video and audio quality aren't great but the performance from these pros is, especially Ed and Neil on the guitars starting about 2:30. Shot at one of the live shows done a few weeks ago in NZ to promote Finn's collaborative album, 7 Worlds Collide, all proceeds from which go to Oxfam.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bon Iver - re: stacks

His melodies are so subtle you barely notice them till you realize they've been stuck in your brain all day. Perfect example, the new single, bizarrely titled.

MP3 Bon Iver - re: stacks (from 2007's For Emma, Forever Ago)