Thursday, June 29, 2006

i purchased me a ticket for a meeting with jesus christ.

Tonight is opening night, so I've got even less time than I have all week. Again, next week should be a better week here. Thanks for anyone who makes this a regular or semi-regular "webstination." It's been a Bishop Allen week, I know. I received the May EP yesterday as well as a Marlboro sampler CD including a unique version of Charm School's "Things Are What You Make Of Them." The gang will be in Cleveland in August, and the June EP should be available tomorrow. Hey la.
Again, thanks for sticking it out through these abbreviated posts. I'm doing what I can and remember: Things actually are what you make of them.

Bishop Allen's "Things Are What You Make Of Them"
from Marlboro Copper Label: The 2nd Sessions

Buy Bishop Allen's Charm School and half a year's worth of EPs (soon) here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

let your hard luck end.

While I was able to locate my original pre-blog daily MP3 website back in March, I don't have much hope for finding my abandoned (not to mention copyright-infringing and self-limiting) "Ben Folds (Five) Song of the Day" website. I was then and am now a big fan of everything Folds was able to do with Five's bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jessee as well as with his still-thriving solo career.
It should come as no surprise, however, that Jessee's newest project is heart-warming and spectacular. Hotel Lights create gentle and occasionally dreamy alt-pop that is, by all accounts, enjoyable. Not unlike Travis or even Maritime, Hotel Lights' strengths are played as such. Sad songs can still bring a smile to your face, and mellow can be golden.
Their debut full-length has been released by Bar/None records and they're embarking on a tour with none other than 2006-workaholics Bishop Allen. You can listen to more at their MySpace or website.
You can also listen right here, I suppose. That is what I do.

Hotel Lights' "Let Me Be The One"
& "Another Year"
from goodnightgoodmorning EP

Hotel Lights' "Small Town Shit"
& "Follow Through"
from Hotel Lights

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

in the daylight i'll come home.

no one is awake is young enough such that repeating bands still bothers me, but old enough such that (the fantastic) Chin Up Chin Up has signed on to play the Pitchfork Music Festival and are approaching the final stages with their new album, This Harness Can't Ride Anything, since my third ever post in March. The new album will be their sophomore LP and debut on Suicide Squeeze.
Replacing their beloved bassist Chris Saathoff, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2004, is The Narrator's Jesse Woghin and Brian Deck is producing.
Expect the album in early October.
Expect to hear the title track just as soon as your finger can click on it.
Expect more fleshed out posts and Tuesday Spotlights by next week.

Chin Up Chin Up's "Collide The Tide"
from Chin Up Chin Up EP

Chin Up Chin Up's "We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers"
& "Virginia, Don't Drown"
from We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers

Chin Up Chin Up's "This Harness Can't Ride Anything"
from This Harness Can't Ride Anything

Sunday, June 25, 2006

blink and you'll miss it.

I Guess I'm Floating may just be right about Arizona, but I don't want to have to stop listening to Bowerbirds long enough to say for sure. They've even got a song about The Ticonderoga.

I know you've been neglecting Architecture in Helsinki lately. Skatterbrain wanted to remind you with their WOXY performance from last year.

I know that Said The Gramophone forced me to pay the attention I've needed to to Will Oldham's Bonnie 'Prince' Billie with the new "The Signifying Wolf".

I also know that you should be listening to Spider to relax on a Sunday night, deluding yourself into believing Monday won't come.

Spider's "The Ballad of Clementine Jones"
and more on MySpace.

This is going to be a rough week. Help me get through it with recommendations.
What do you want to see here?
What do you want me (and everyone else) to hear?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

at the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie.

It may just be a fact that I'm the last person on the planet to have heard both The Reunion's "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)" and Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction." It's the opposite of reality to grow fond of something before being in any way familiar with the sum of its parts and/or influences. Maybe not the opposite of reality, but the ironic series of events within reality. But everything is connected in some way, and it's more than fitting that I'm watching I Heart Huckabees while discussing this.
Obviously, if you don't own Bishop Allen's Charm School you are in the wrong. It's obvious to me anyway. Furthermore, if you've been missing out on their 2006 monthly EP project (of which they've completed half a year's worth of four song EPs), you've got a lot of catching up to do. My point, however has to do with three and a half of the quirkiest minutes on Bishop Allen's debut album. It seems strange now how original Bishop Allen's "Eve of Destruction" sounds, knowing that it is, at it's core, the sum of two main parts: the aforementioned Barry McGuire and Reunion songs.
Busy at work yesterday, trying to focus on my tasks and Windows Media Player playlist filled with songs from this very blog, I quickly turned my attention to the store's soft-rock adult-contemporary radio. My thoughts: "Is this Bishop Allen? Who's covering Bishop Allen? Those aren't the words to this Bishop Allen song. What is this? Who is this?" This thought process occurred as I quickly walked away from what I was doing to the one spot in the pharmacy where the radio is clearly audible (for my admittedly weak ears). Standing uncomfortably close to the shampoo bottle shelf, I caught the tail end of the song, with its "Baby, I Need Your Loving" sample (that about drove me - and Mike - crazy, identifying), followed by the DJ identifying the single that was 100% new to me.
Then I looked up "Eve of Destruction," on a whim and discovered Barry McGuire's anti-war folk song, written by P.F. Sloan. The triad was complete. The magic is that Bishop Allen drew from a Joey Levine, the creator of bubblegum music and commercial jingle composer, as well as a powerful 1965 growling protest song and created their own perfect pop song.
Justin and Christian of Bishop Allen are an extraordinary songwriting team and the band has truly come into its own already, halfway through their enormous year. Consider their latest; "Butterfly Nets." This is a gorgeous song that if you didn't have labeled in your folder of mp3's you'd never identify as Bishop Allen, which is what makes it such a success for them.

Bishop Allen's "Eve of Destruction"
from Charm School

Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction"
The Reunion's "Life Is A Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)"
The Four Tops' "Baby, I Need Your Lovin'" (Thanks, Jake.)

Bishop Allen's "Butterfly Nets"
from May

The Four Tops' song cuts off, but it's the best I could do, unless you've got a better version.

Friday, June 23, 2006

she will dance like the mother of children.

I have no idea what CD I found, purchased and sold immediately, thinking it was Lone Wolf & Cub. LW&C is a five-piece from Michigan that has played with Anathallo, Page France, Headlights, Metal Hearts, Joiya, Those Transatlantics and more. Their sound more closely resembles American Football or The Appleseed Cast, but is most definitely not vicious metal. Wonder, is Ground on Frost? was released in March, but I'm not sure I've heard anything about it. This is a tragedy. Why would an album of phenomenal instrumental work drawing from great influences and adding bells, more thorough drum parts and a constant uplifting tone not be in everyone's collection? Furthermore, how could someone stumble upon an album with track titles such as "Bring Back the Dagwood, Denny's," "Be There or be Tiananmen Square," and "I Will Hammerpunch Your Clavicle" and not buy as many copies as they can carry to distribute among friends?
Make sure they know you now love them at MySpace.

Lone Wolf & Cub's "I Will Hammerpunch Your Clavicle"
"You Can't Be A Prisoner, You Don't Look Like A Zebra/Jailbreak!!!"
from Wonder, is Ground on Frost?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

she's right and generally is.

Shelagh McDonald's story is quite a fascinating one and her songs were and are just as captivating. Ready about her mysterious disappearance and listen to her moving brand of folk bliss. You'll be able to feel the sweet sunlight warming your skin as Shelagh sings her siren song.

Shelagh McDonald's "Sweet Sunlight"
"Liz's Song"
"Baby Go Slow"
from Let No Man Steal Your Thyme: Anthology

This weekend will feel very deserved, but Sunday begins "Hell Week" for the play. Again, I'll do my best not to neglect the no one is awake dynasty.
And if you're in the area, Marvin's Room runs June 29 - July 16.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

no chirping of birds. no sound of wind.

There are a few things that I have a tendency to come back to, and the work of Jon Mueller is falls comfortably into that category. I have brought to your attention Pele on at least one occasion, as Mueller's most accessible musical outlet. Other collaborations and solo work on Crouton further delve into his depth of creativity and often obscure sound producing tendencies. One of his more listenable projects has been Telecognac, which as a roster-changing collective released two full-length album. The latter of the two, Memory, existing as an exploration into electronic sound and melody with long time co-creator Chris Rosenau. The first album, however, focused on acoustic instrumentation, with horns and strings atop piano, bass, drums and the soothing spoken word of Mueller himself. Rosenau's contribution to this self-titled album was solely in mixing, as Mueller utilized the talents of a few other musicians to flesh out the work.
Not much information can be found on the 1997 album, released through Lombardi Recording Company. (You read that right, JLom.) And as such, I feel little guilt in offering the entire 32 minute album of nine songs. You can utilize my generosity by burning the songs onto a CD, playing it on repeat as you sleep the next couple of nights and reporting what dreams you are able to recall in the morning. Or you can turn on some cartoons or an old movie, mute the television, use this as a soundtrack and report back as to what significance you found. Really, do anything that involves Telecognac and your ears and leave comments regarding the process. I enjoy getting blog comments more than you enjoy getting MySpace comments. That much.
Mueller's narrative is very vivid and evocative, and the sad, low strings along with the dreamy piano (and bells) make Telecognac's Telecognac perfect music for an introspective Winter and I feel no remorse in sharing it on this, the first day of Summer.

Telecognac's Telecognac
"Fortune Night in Genesee"
"Her Silence"
"Like Hamsun"
"Cold Drunk Light"
"Your Hindenburg"
"Jonathan's Song"
"Soaking Quietly Out"
"Old Thompson"

If you're somehow blessed enough to know where I can locate any of the other three Telecognac releases, let me know. I'd be much obliged.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

helping the kids out of their coats.

Tuesday Spotlights are generally reserved for seasoned veterans, posing the opportunity for me to review their career through present day. Today marks a slight twist as the focus of the Spotlight falls on a girl with a bizarre history within music who stepped forward from a large group of musicians as they came into their own indie fame.
Leslie Feist was thrust in front of the onlooking musical public at an early age, winning a spot playing alongside The Ramones through a battle of the bands with her group Placebo. This was accomplished before she reached the age of 20, at which point she moved to Toronto and joined By Divine Right. Later she shared an apartment with Peaches and even joined her on stage as her alter-ego Bitch Lap-Lap, a sock-puppet- and aerobic outfit-wearing incompetent rapper. She toured Europe with Chilly Gonzales for two years and then co-founded Canada's tour-de-force Broken Social Scene.
This (as well as one solo disc, 1999's Monarch) was all preamble to the Fall 2004 release of Let It Die on BSS's own Arts & Crafts label. Word traveled relatively quickly and Interscope released the album in the U.S. the following Spring, with incredible distribution on it's side. The boys fell in love and the girls had a role model to use as a basis for singing simple melodic seductions. While some artists release singles worthy of remixes and collaborative versions, few (non hip-hop) artists can create entire albums so talked about, listened to and adored that they merit an entire album of remixes, but Let It Die was just that. Open Season was released by A&C earlier this year (still with no readily available distribution in the U.S.) and contains four new versions of "Mushaboom," two of "Gatekeeper," two of "One Evening," and a few new unreleased songs.
Feist's website describes the music of Let It Die as "very much a voice album in close up. Carefully pieced together around timeless simple melodies, the album forms the missing link between ye old folk (storytelling,) the Brill building era (the quest for the hook,) doo-wop (melody and minor key moods) and minimal modern pop arrangements." Feist is beaming with soul, which is in itself complex given the subdued nature in which she emits it. The power of a profound truth whispered over the crackle of a fireplace sticks with you and where most remixes (let alone remix albums) can't even hold up the already free-standing original, Open Season does so gracefully with complimentary flourishes.
I agree that Broken Social Scene seems to better fit the no one is awake Spotlight profile, and that may be the case (in the near future), but I just got Open Season in the mail today and am thrilled.

Feist's "Let It Die"
& "Secret Heart"
from Let It Die

Feist's "Inside+Out (Apostle of Hustle UnMix Live at the BBC)"
& "Mushaboom (Postal Service Mix)"
from Open Season

Watch Feist's video for "Mushaboom" (directed by Patrick Daughters), "One Evening" (sexy dancing), and her performance on Jimmy Kimmel here. Click "videos" obviously.

BONUS: The Kings of Convenience's "Know-How" (featuring Feist)
from Riot on an Empty Street

BONUS II: See the finale of my Saddle Creek week for Bright Eyes' "Mushaboom" cover.

Monday, June 19, 2006

and when you see me...

I'm not going to lie. The next couple weeks are going to be pretty bare bones here. I apologize. My efforts will be sporadic and variant.
Cale Parks overkill? I'd like to not think so. I don't have anything new to report. I'll just refer you back to the vastly superior posts on Aloha, Joan of Arc, and Cex. But there is still reason to sit up straight. Listen to a song from the solo album Illuminated Manuscript and one contribution to the Chicago-centered compilation One Bright Sunny Morning.

Cale Parks' "Wet Paint"
from Illuminated Manuscript

Cale Parks' "We All Bank"
from One Bright Sunny Morning

While I'm at it, I'll refer you back to my brief introduction posts on The Lovely Feathers and Grand Buffet, as they were both tremendous on Saturday.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


I found a charming looking EP by TJO yesterday, and today discovered that Tara Jane O'Neil is an established musician as well as visual artist. Her fourth album will be released by Quarterstick (Touch & Go) Records in September, so drink all the Full Throttle you want now, because come September 12, all you'll want to do is meditate and relax. O'Neil has played with Ida, which reveal at least two (compound) probable facts: She has an inclination towards lushly quiet soundscapes without timidity, and I like her.
TJO's newest, In Circles, will showcase Tara's songwriting talents through pensive lyrics, sweeping strings (including her own violin playing), moving electric and acoustic guitars, and presumably some help from her friends. Fans of Iron & Wine, Ida and Elizabeth Mitchell will be delighted to listen closely as TJO sings her graceful whispers to them.

Tara Jane O'Neil's "Blue Light Room"
from In Circles

Tara Jane O'Neil's "The Poisoned Room"
from You Sound, Reflect

Saturday, June 17, 2006

when i talk it's like suicide.

I've mentioned thoroughly enjoying last year's Palm Reader, ZZZZ'a sax and electric piano driven post-punk no-wave dance romp. It seems quite obviously after-the-fact, since the quartet disbanded a few months after their only album was released, but that doesn't mean it's any less a positive attribute to my collection and, more so than not, that's what drives this blog (now 100 posts old). Members of Sweep the Leg Johnny, Swing Kids and Tekulvi came together with classically trained pianist Ellen Bunch with no preconceived notions about what their intentions were and no pressure to record or tour. What they did was both.
I try very hard to keep current with music, sometimes to the point where I never get to thoroughly enjoy much. But there are times when I'll keep the same six discs in my car stereo and only listen to two of them for weeks at a time. I have The Smiths and Acid House Kings to thank for that. My point, however, is that with ZZZZ already retired from the world, it would be easy for Palm Reader to be forgotten, but I'd like to say that I will remember and dance around ridiculously every time I do.
Described as a Tim Burton film soundtrack on speed, I recommend you posthumously take to ZZZZ's one and only eight song album, which is similar to a continuously forward-moving Drums & Tuba. Echoing alto sax, electrifying electric piano, dueling male/female vocals that occasionally fizz right over the top, and non-stop action-filled hooks will have you sweating and wondering what the hell genre it is you're dancing to, anyway.

ZZZZ's "Assassination Polka"
& "Bandit King & Queen"
from Palm Reader

ZZZZ's "Forget It"
from Live on WLUW 88.7 FM

Friday, June 16, 2006

someone still loves you boris yeltsin.

Even in priding myself to be your best source for all things Polyvinyl, I was still oblivious to the news that Matt broke earlier today. Missouri's Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin has signed to PV, who will re-release their debut Broom in October. It's pop music. Independent pop music, and it's nice to see Polyvinyl getting back on that track for 2006. So far this year, PV has already reissued several Of Montreal releases as well as new records from Aloha, The Like Young, and The M's, and with Headlights debut full-length on it's way alongside SSLYBY, it's a much more solidly pop-based year for my Illinois dreamboat of a label. While I've made no mistake in rejoicing in 2005's adventures into the unknown, with mighty fine albums from Picastro (with Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy) and ZZZZ, it's taking longer than I expected to forget about xbxrx. My loyalty to the label dictates my keeping the CD in my collection, but my loyalty to my ears dictates I don't listen to it. So very harsh. My apologies.
Apart from rambling, I'd like to make sure your anticipation for Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin is high. They've got such a likeable sound and bona fide songwriting capabilities. Join in now.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin's "Oregon Girl"
& "House Fire"
from Broom

Pitchfork Music Festival is being promoted by emusic through a FREE 24-song Festival Sampler Compilation. Do you want to download it for FREE? Well, then stop reading this! Go download.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

they only recognize the value of science.

I'm fairly predictable when it comes to what musical mood I'm in or will be in after any given event. Getting to delve into Dave Chappelle's Block Party again has put me back in the mood for exceptional hip-hop. I need to get some J Dilla material into my collection without delay, and it's about time I avoid buying MF Doom's Special Herbs Box Set. But it's always great to find something new and fantastic that falls into the genre you're currently in the mood for. The indie crowd is already drooling for Dabrye and his new album Two/Three just dropped today and folks should swarm by the car-full to pick it up. It's great drive-around music that you're more than likely to come back to. The production is over-the-top, especially on tracks like "Game Over." Unfortunately, I find the lyrics and rapping on said song to be too cliche and/or too gangster. Maybe even saying that is a faux pas, but that's what I think. "Encoded Flow" is closer to exactly what I want from Dabrye. Solid and fun production, interesting samples, and laid back (dare I say Aesopian?) lyrical flow.
I'm making it my mission over the next month to teach myself how to better review hip-hop. I promise.

Dabrye's "Air" (featuring MF Doom)
"Encoded Flow" (featuring Kadence)
& "Game Over" (featuring Jay Dee & Phat Kat)
from Two/Three

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

i feel like i'm flying in my dreams.

I just realized today that I have yet to post about a record I could not remove from my player for over a month recently. I'm not altering that today, either. While I don't have an inside scoop about her, nor can I offer anything insightful about her, I thought you should know about Cibelle if you don't already. She's a cute musician/singer/songwriter from London and has been compared to CocoRosie and Bjork. WAIT! I doubt you'll agree. I don't. Her music is very sonically pleasurable and her writing on her MySpace is endearing. She's gotten help from Devendra Banhart and Seu Jorge on her album, but all you really need to know you'll learn from simply listening.

Cibelle's "London London"
& "Flying High"
from The Shine of Dried Electric Leaves

Also, listen to "Mad Man Song," "Green Grass," and two gorgeous others on her MySpace.

And warm yourself under the blanket that is Aloha.
EDIT: Cool yourself by the fan that is Aloha.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

no one is awake.

It's Tuesday, and I wouldn't dream of breaking tradition and leaving you without a Tuesday Spotlight. And on this, my ninety-seventh post (what are you getting NOIA for her 100th?), I'm revealing the not-so-secret secret behind the blog's name. Sure, I've mentioned it before, but never in such a grandiose manner. Today's Spotlight is monumental for these reasons, because it's a two-per-album Spotlight, as well because it will be an . . . (drumroll) . . .

While Aloha was born in 1997 in Bowling Green, OH, it was 2003 and 2004 that brought the boys to what they're doing today. Aloha's demo tape was enough to merit a record deal with Polyvinyl, and that's nothing to shake a stick at. Neither were the debut EP and CD that followed. But upon the departure of multi-instrumentalist Eric Koltnow, came the music-writing union of "frontman" Tony Cavallario and newcomer T.J. Lipple who began writing what would become Here Comes Everyone. That was arguably their best work to date, and it was recently followed up with the exquisite Some Echoes.
For a progressive indie pop band to have four must-have albums in their discography of four albums is nothing short of miraculous. Aloha's chemistry is everything it should be and their live show proves that beyond the shadow of a doubt. With rhythms that hide behind soothing melodies before culminating and bouncing effortlessly on the vibraphones and drum kit which is tapped and thumped on in an expertly experimental fashion while retaining it's rock sensibilities.
You have Cale Parks to thank for a majority of the quintessential drumming. His work has warranted his positions playing with Cex, Joan of Arc, and even Chin Up Chin Up, Pit Er Pat, Owen, and The Love of Everything. He's even spent time recording solo material. Cale's solo album, Illuminated Manuscript, is to be released in Japan this month, and will be released stateside (rumor has it through Polyvinyl) in the Fall. Listen to some of his work on his MySpace page.
I greatly anticipate seeing Aloha the next time they're in Cleveland (as I do every time). Their tightly-knit live show allows for new songs to be woven into the mix, but their confidence only builds with new material. So while any Aloha show is worth your time and money, I recommend seeing them towards the middle or end of a tour. When they play new songs with the enthusiasm and sublimity as I've seen them play Here Comes Everyone material they are not to be missed.
Aloha are easily one of my favorite bands. They are of the caliber such that I cannot comprehend someone disliking them. And to think, it all started here in Ohio.
EDIT: I feel guilty not spending 3000 words on the amazing songs that make up Sugar and even That's Your Fire. In listening to them to decide which songs to post, I was baffled that I ever listen to anything else. Obviously, the selection process was difficult.

Aloha's "The Sound Between"
from The Great Communicators, The Interpreters, The Nonbelievers EP

Aloha's "Ferocious Love"
& "A Hundred Stories"
from That's Your Fire

Aloha's "Let Your Head Hang Low"
& "Protest Song"
from Sugar

Aloha's "Summer Away"
& "Water Your Hands" [Blog Title Origin]
from Here Comes Everyone

Aloha's "Brace Your Face"
& "Your Eyes"
from Some Echoes

BONUS: Aloha's May 19, 2006 performance on WOXY's Lounge Acts featuring five Some Echoes songs.

Did you know?: This is the second consecutive Spotlight to include Cale Parks, and third collectively. Suffice it to say, I'm anticipating his solo album greatly.
Suffice it also to say that I'm going to go buy Dave Chappelle's Block Party.

Monday, June 12, 2006

like freddy mercury, motherf***er.

It's hard to deny the raw drawing power of a gimmick. Self figured that out inadvertently in 2000, when they released an album created entirely without conventional musical instruments. Twelve songs made up Gizmodgery and the only instruments used to record them were toys. The thing about this pop music is that it's not as precocious or innocent as it's conception may lead you to believe. Don't misconstrue. Self is a pop-rock band playing catchy tunes, as they have been for over a decade now, but occasionally they play to your introspective side. They also occasionally play to your "turn-it-up-loud-and-get-ready-to-go-out" side.
As Matt Mahaffrey, Self mastermind, explains, "I'm a fan of both poppy melodies and not-so-poppy sounds. When someone hears a Self song, I want them to know we're into both. Like peanut butter and chocolate - two great tastes that taste great together!"
Self released three proper albums prior to Gizmodgery along with a free internet-only CD of unreleased songs. They released two more free internet CD's in 2000 and did not resurface until 2004, with Ornament and Crime. Unfortunately you haven't heard any of this album because when Dreamworks sold to Universal Self was, in essence, dropped. The album, slated to be released over two years ago remains in litigation limbo. Fortunately, Mahaffrey released another internet-only collection of songs recorded between 2001 and 2004.
That leaves us with Gizmodgery being the last properly released album from Self, and if it's your starting point for the band, you are not alone. It was mine several years ago, and it's still engaging to me. Below is the list of every toy instrument used to create the album. And head to Self's website for the downloadable internet albums and more (including the ridiculous single "Trunk Fulla Amps").

Self's "Pattycake"
& "What A Fool Believes" (The Doobie Brothers)
from Gizmodgery

Toys used to make Gizmodgery:
Little Tykes Xylophone, Mattel Disney Piano, V-Tech Phone-Pal 200 Toy Phone, Toy Antenna Twist, Fun Rise Remote Control, Little Smart Tiny Touch Phone, 200 Toy Battery Operated Electronic Drum, Playschool Busy Guitar, Talking Whiz Kid Plus, Mattel See & Say, My First Football, Kids 2, Centipede, Evenflo Ball & Sphere, My First Years Spinning Toy, Maple Toys "Toy", Schoenhut Toy Piano, Suzuki Omnichord OM-27, Suzuki Q-Chord, The 1 Man Jam, Hasbro Musi-Link, Mattel Star Guitar, Groovy Tunes Guitar, Yak-Bak, My 1st Shaver, Synsonic Drums, Micro Jammer Drums, Mini-Performer Keyboard, "Talk To Me" Robot, Hal Leonard Piano Fun, Party Bros. Tambourine, Assorted Talking Animals, Assorted Toy Drum Kits and Toy Cymbals, Assorted Generic Toy Cell Phones, and Rock 'n' Roll Elmo.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

i want you everywhere that i go.

Today was spent buying music in Cleveland and having an adventure at the Zoo. How could the two be connected? Bears. Tonight is the first ever performance by Cleveland's Bears. Locals Craig Ramsey (Kiddo) and Charlie McArthur will tap four additional musicians to flesh out the live sound of pop music, drawing inspiration from all things twee and from Acid House Kings to The Zombies. Fans of The Shins and The Boy Least Likely To have already spoken out in a very complimentary, supportive way towards Bears. Bloggers have already been posting about the band which is why tonight is such a commemorative night for the group. Congratulations on a solid debut album of pop bliss and on your debut concert, Bears.
Listen to four songs from the self-titled debut on Bears' MySpace.
Drive to Music Saves for all your CD's, including Bears.
Hope for more detailed posts from me after my play closes.
Keep spending hours on MySpace.

Bears' "Everywhere"
& "Stay"
from Bears

A call to action: I'm in the process of rebuilding my space (my myspace?). While this is not the most newsworthy addendum, it actually may be relevant to you. I will have a twenty song mp3 player built into the page, and I'd like suggestions as to what songs that I've posted over the course of nearly one hundred posts you think I should put up. Please leave comments with your choice(s) for the player and why. Maybe you have a song to recommend that I've never posted. That's acceptable but not precisely what I'm shooting for. Alright. Thanks.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

preoccupation with one or more delusions.

The general goal of music blogs is to share artists that the author enjoys, and hopefully that the reader hasn't been inundated with already. While there are exceptions (i.e., most of my posts about artists with no new news), the agreeable common denominator is new/unknown and good/great. In looking through my CD collection to see what I may have been neglecting, I found an album by Robot vs. Bear. I remember finding it on ebay for dirt cheap because it was linked with Pele. The similarities are there. It's instrumental non-distorted electric guitar with jazz influenced tendencies and drum work. The hooks are the following pieces of information. Plans Within Plans was recorded in approximately five hours, is one flowing track of nearly eighteen minutes, was conceived by one man (Michael Chiles) and performed by four band members (Chiles, Richard Vaughan, Alison Ables & Mike Arciero), and was released around a decade ago on the now defunct Rosewood Union record label that also released the first Collections of Colonies of Bees (members of Pele) album. It's still shocking how little I know about this release, even after extensive research attempts. But I know that if you enjoy the type of instrumental music that I've made no mistake in associating myself with, then Plans Within Plans is for you. Due to the fact that I believe this release to be (nearly) impossibly to find, in addition to the band and label's websites being inactive, I'll share the entire 17:50:62 long EP with you.

Robot vs. Bear's "5.5.2005" + "power from steam" + "the truth about good and evil" + "introducing ronquillo" = plans within plans

Friday, June 09, 2006

i can't trust you, lover.

Not to downplay my excitement for Tilly & The Wall tonight, but I've truly been at least equally as excited to see David Dondero play. His sixth album, South of the South was released by Team Love last year, and is a righteous mix of Americana, folk-rock, and a genre that can only be described as Bright Eyes.
I have to admit that I'd do just about anything to be seeing Now It's Overhead open for the Tillies instead, but that admission is contradictory of my vivacity toward seeing Dondero.

My weak posts and lack of presence since Tuesday's Spotlight is lamentable but unavoidable. Like usual, I'll try to do some make-up work this weekend.

David Dondero's "South of the South"
& "Pornographic Love Song"
from South of the South

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

snakes on a shirt.

I'm quite drained from getting the Joanfrc post ready, along with work and rehearsals for a play I'm in, so I'll just share a fun bit of news. My friend and acting compatriot, Jake, was tapped for a new book that is being compiled presently. The book is a scrapbook of sorts about the phenomenon that has already become Snakes on a Plane. Why was he asked for a contribution? Simply due to his plot to make money off of the idea. Support his efforts through CafePress at the following links...


Mary Jane

If you're bitter that he's making money off of the Samuel L. Jackson cash cow, then you might find comfort in listening to the first "single" from The Like Young's latest Last Secrets.

The Like Young's "For Money or Love"

Please keep enjoying yesterday's Spotlight.

Monday, June 05, 2006

is understanding not understanding?

In 1995 A.D. a relatively unknown band with a small following in the Chicago area based on several 7" records disbanded. They had just one full-length under their belt (conveniently titled Kites, Kung Fu, Trophies, Banana Peels We've Slipped On, And Egg Shells We've Tippy Toed Over. Burritos, Inspiration Point, Fork Balloon Sports, Cards In The Spokes, Automatic Biographies), and they were known as Cap'n Jazz. It was from their ashes that (for all intended purposes) frontman Tim Kinsella founded a new group based on his newer, more abstract writing style and budding guitar abilities alongside keyboardist Jeremy Boyle. The two joined forces with Cap'n Jazz alumnist Sam Zurick and roadie Erik Bocek, and with the final addition of Tim's brother Mike, a new band was born: Red Blue Yellow. Something wasn't right and the material and band name were scrapped. A few months later, Chicago was introduced to...
JOAN OF ARC (Tuesday Spotlight for 06/06/06)
Joan of Arc (with Mike as an occasional member) released two 7"s, one of which elaborately decorated with a hand-made wooden frame, before Jade Tree released their proper debut A Portable Model Of in 1997. The same year, Jade Tree would re-release almost every Cap'n Jazz song as Analphabetapolothology, a 2 CD collection that would bring the defunct band to many more ears. Joan of Arc's debut would introduce the world to an austere acoustic sound slightly adorned with electronic embellishments. Complete with appearances by Mike Kinsella (Cap'n Jazz, The One Up Downstairs, American Football, Owls, Owen), Ryan Rapsys (Euphone, Owls, Ambulette) and Davey vonBohlen (Cap'n Jazz, The Promise Ring, Maritime), A Portable Model Of was disconnected from the standard music scene but relatively coherent.
How Memory Works, the follow-up, was considered more consistent with very strong songs, while it also introduced more off-beat instrumentation and disjointed sounds and samples. While Tim's obliquitous lyrics were still virtually impenetrable on a personally relatable level, some ideas and ideals were hard to misconstrue, as with the Fiona Apple-picking and startlingly rock-driven "This Life Cumulative." The band, now with Mike as a full-timer, started to come into it's own with their use of the studio as an instrument.
The third release, despite it's title (Live In Chicago, 1999) was not a live album. The Cap'n Jazz retrospective was getting a surprising (but well-deserved) amount of attention, Mike Kinsella and Erik Bocek left the group, and the term "emo" was being tossed around with fingers pointed at Tim for starting a movement. Joan of Arc (now Tim Kinsella, Jeremy Boyle and Todd Mattei) was a Chicago band. It's three members lived and recorded there in 1999 and an album title was born. The third effort was a very serious response to the emo-accusations and attention the group was getting. Studio trickery was still on the rise and the movements were slower and more capacious. The album art contained artsy photographs with cardboard cutout scenery, a cast of characters based on Jean-Luc Godard's Le Weekends, hoagies and a lot of blood. Tim was content leading the band further into abstruseness.
Joan of Arc absolutely embraced their obscure design while spending an intense nine months in the studio recording The Gap. Mike was back on board for the fourth album along with newbie Matt Clark to create the most studio-heavy JoA album to date. The Gap was a more flowing singular epic, occasionally reaching 100 tracks of sounds, satirizing Pink Floyd's The Wall, and clattering in the most ambient way Joan of Arc would ever do. Tim balanced the feat by releasing an EP of outtakes played primarily by solo. The process drained them. Jade Tree wasn't thrilled. Critics were mad. Joan of Arc broke up.
Owls (with the infamous Victor Villareal)
came and went. Tim began work on new solo material that would result in So Much Staying Alive and Lovelessness. It was an embellished solo album, with a majority of the help coming from Mike and Sam. Since both guys were members of Joan of Arc, Tim felt calling the album a Joan of Arc album was only fitting. Other JoA family members and friends (including Chicago Underground's Rob Mazurek) fleshed out the triumphant return to the music world as an abstract yet guitar-driven collective.
The same sessions that brought about Lovelessness also produced over a dozen darker, collage-based Joan of Arc songs. They were released the same year (2003) as In Rape Fantasy and Terror Sex We Trust.
Somehow Joan of Arc needed to tour to support it's two new albums. Tim called upon his cousin Nate Kinsella and bassist Bobby Burg to help out. The three of them with Mike, Sam and Uli Kuenneke set out to show the world who Joan of Arc really were. A Joan of Arc for the new millennium. This tour would produce Live In Muenster, 2003. This time it was a live album and the group's first to be released through Bobby's own simply titled Record Label.
Tim, Sam, Bobby, Nate and Mike set out to do something completely different and completely instrument driven with Make Believe. The gruelling practice schedule would prove to be too much for Mike, but Make Believe (as a four-piece) came together to do some damage before inviting the largest JoA collective together to create Joan of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain, the group's most melodic album introduced Aloha's Cale Parks as a member, playing mostly vibes. The new songs were a new direction and released on a new label for the Chicagoans (Polyvinyl).
The spirit of gathering together continued with the Kinsellas and seven current and former members of JoA meeting up to be paired off to create guitar duets. Ten were released last year and I did a write-up on the album in April.
Polyvinyl is so thrilled to have the spirit of Joan of Arc back in full swing (even with Make Believe dominating most of it's members' time), that they compiled nineteen songs previously only available on 7"s or compilations and will release them back into the world on July 25th as The Intelligent Design of Joan of Arc. Chris Strong's artwork alone makes the collection essential. Having all the "rarities" on one CD with great sound quality as well as Dr. Lawrence Britt's "14 Points of Fascism" just add to the package.
But July 25th will be much more than a re-release of songs most fans somehow complain of already owning. Tim and the crew surprised their fans by announcing that they had recorded a new album in February. Tim finds himself at home in the center of the work, as well as the studio. Eventually, All At Once was recorded entirely in Tim and Mike's childhood home over the course of just five days. Tim's guitar and vocals are the foundation for the folk-drone feel of the album, but the surprise is just how progressive the album is as a whole. It never feels bogged down with over-production, and it moves at a steady walking pace. Nearly upbeat acoustic guitar strumming and mellow electric guitar bounce are met perfectly by Cale's vibes at numerous points. Where If Joan of Arc were the highly conceptual hypothesizing older brother and Make Believe were the young bucks with innate intelligence but a stronger desire to kick ass, then the new album represents Joan of Arc as the middle child; well-balanced and pleasant. Hopefully, he won't be treated as a Jan Brady just because he's got the experience of Marcia and the simplicity of Cindy. Even Tim's lyrics are more decipherable than is generally the case, which is one of several qualities that makes Eventually the first JoA album to act like a breezy album for the sake of the songs. Without becoming radio-friendly or cheapening any of their identifiable qualities, the guys have all but lost the drive to be evasive and have instead brought forth ten enjoyable songs.
With a retrospective collection and an eloquent new album being released into the wild, July 25th, 2006 is a great way to celebrate ten years of Joan of Arc, not to mention a hell of a way for new listeners to be introduced.

Joan of Arc's "How Wheeling Feels"
from A Portable Model Of

Joan of Arc's "This Life Cumulative"
from How Memory Works

Joan of Arc's "Me (Plural)"
from Live In Chicago, 1999

Joan of Arc's "Me and America (or) The United Colors of the Gap"
from The Gap

Joan of Arc's "What If We Are Not After All, All Destined for Greatness?"
from How Can Any Thing So Little Be Any More?

Joan of Arc's "The Infinite Blessed Yes"
from So Much Staying Alive and Lovelessness

Joan of Arc's "Happy 1984 and 2001"
from In Rape Fantasy and Terror Sex We Trust

Joan of Arc's "As Black Pants Make Cat Hairs Appear"
from Live In Muenster, 2003

Joan of Arc's "Questioning Benjamin Franklin's Ghost"
from Joan of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain

no one is awake's write-up on
Joan of Arc Presents Guitar Duets

Joan of Arc's "Didactic Prom"
from The Intelligent Design Of Joan of Arc & Method & Sentiment 7"

Joan of Arc's "Eventually, All At Once"
& "Miss Cat Piss and Peppermint"
from Eventually, All At Once

i hear it's colder in cleveland.

This is another abbreviated post, even with more time on my hands than anticipated. But there will be a theme. Oh yes. There will be a theme.
Barsuk records. You'll notice their logo on all of your Death Cab CD's, but hopefully you're more familiar with them than that. Honestly, I just assume you are. Barsuk are one day away from the release of Smoosh's second album Free To Stay from two sisters who are collectively barely older than me. How can you celebrate? Listen to the entire album at Mammoth Press.
The Seattle-based label also recently announced the signing of What Made Milwaukee Famous. Listen to "Hellodrama" and three more songs through their MySpace.
Another recent signee is Jim Noir, whose infectious pop music has a slight electronic feel and will stick with you for a while. Listen to "Key Of C" through MySpace.
Finally, I'm not sure how I wasn't aware of The House of Blues' Kuyahoga concert on August 3rd, featuring Death Cab For Cutie, The Flaming Lips, and more. While, I'm not sure I'll be attending, it does give me sufficient reason to post Ben Gibbard's older solo project's song about just that city. If for some reason you are a DCFC fan without this readily-available compact disc, amend that situation immediately.

All-Time Quarterback's "Cleveland"
from All-Time Quarterback

Do I need to keep plugging tomorrow's Spotlight? Yes. I do. Just be patient for it. It will be up eventually, and you will be overwhelmed by everything, all at once.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

lobsterfest relapse.

I just can't bring myself to neglect this thing for two whole days. Lobsterfest was fantastic. A good kick-start to the Summer of '06 and the festivals inherent to it. Very simply, two more bands signed on to Pitchfork last week. The Walkmen and Danielson. That makes this late Sunday post an interactive one.

What you have to do:
Listen to The Walkmen on MySpace.
Listen to Danielson on MySpace.
Do your best to not love "Louisiana" and "Did I Step On Your Trumpet?" respectively.
Buy both bands' new albums.
Buy tickets to Pitchfork.

What I have to do:
Go to bed.

The Walkmen's "We've Been Had"
from Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone

07/25/06 is a big day for fans of a certain Chicago collective.
06/06/06 is a big day for both Beelzebub and those exact same fans (if, in fact, they are join no one is awake for it's Mark of the Beast Tuesday Spotlight).

Friday, June 02, 2006

lobsterfest precap.

Tomorrow morning (early) I will be getting into a small car with four friends to drive four hours to Athens, Ohio for Lobsterfest '06. The lineup of bands rivals the lineup of friends, and wins out only in quantity. Quality is a close call. Playing the outdoor (potentially overcast) festival are Matt Pond PA, Owen, Saturday Looks Good To Me, Kevin Devine, Southeast Engine, Joe Anderl & The Universal Walkers, and Fine Dining. Four long-time favorites and three promising sounding local Athens bands make for one excited blogger. Throw in a Medieval Society's "heavy weapons" showcase and a dance team, and you've got the makings.
I won't be around to get a Saturday post up. I can hope that Sunday and Monday won't be weak, but I can tell you that Tuesday's Spotlight is one to look forward to. For now, enjoy a bit of everything that I'm looking forward to.

Matt Pond PA's "Halloween"
from Several Arrows Later
& "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea"
from Winter Songs EP

Owen's "That Tattoo Isn't Funny Anymore"
from I do perceive.

Saturday Looks Good To Me's "When the Party Ends"
from Every Night

Kevin Devine's "No Time Flat"
from Split The Country, Split The Street

Southeast Engine's "Coming to Terms with Gravity"
from Coming to Terms with Gravity

Joe Anderl & The Universal Walkers' "Before You Die"
from Love + Media

Fine Dining's "Rattlin' the Bricks"
from Debutantes and Dilettantes

Thursday, June 01, 2006

illinois or brazil, it's all underground.

My second Tuesday Spotlight ever was of free-form jazz greats Chicago Underground Duo, made up of percussionist Chad Taylor and cornetist Rob Mazurek. Prone to being half of a core duo, Mazurek has been hard at work in Brazil with his newly founded Sao Paulo Underground, this time pairing up with and sharing electronic duties with Mauricio Takara. The album is a jungle of experimental soundscapes, cluttered with glitches, abstract percussion and Mazurek's signature cornet stylings. This is a must-listen for fans of Chicago Underground and any music buff who prides himself in his adoration of jazz. This is a representation of the be-all and end-all of jazz of the twenty-first century.

Sao Paulo Underground's "Pombaral"
from Sauna: Um, Dois, Tres

How you gonna rap with a mouthful of caps, girl?