Saturday, September 30, 2006

two guitars, two humans.

I haven't gone out on a limb for a little while, and would like to do so, proudly, with Ecstatic Sunshine (or ECSTC SNSHN) from Baltimore. ECSTC SNSHN is a duo of guitar wizardry, that "Sounds Like Mick Barr vs. John Fahey." Matt Papich and Dustin Wong have come from different musical backgrounds to do just about anything with guitars that they can think of. There's not a whole lot you can do other than listen and be impressed. Granted, that has it's down falls. If you need easily comprehended time signatures, quotable lyrics, danceable beats, or catchy melodies to find music enjoyable, you'd best stray from Ecstatic Sunshine. Otherwise, buckle yourself in and catch them as they tour with Make Believe through November and release their Freckle Wars through Carpark Records.

Ecstatic Sunshine's "Pocketknife"
& "Little Big Dipper"
from Freckle Wars

The Pipettes' "White Christmas"

whatever it is you think you are, you aren't.

Just a little bit more Polyvinyl propaganda. The new 31K Polemics EP I've brought up is available for pre-order now at Polyvinyl's Online Store in addition to 31 Knots' rare debut album, ClimaxAntiClimax, which is not being re-released but rather dug up and sold while quantities last.

31 Knots' "Sedition's Wish"
from Polemics EP

If that's not enough reason for you to visit the Polyvinyl store, then it's almost a sure thing that Owen's At Home With Owen finally being available for pre-order will entice you. Whether or not you've heard any or all of the eight new songs, including my personal favorite (and the album's lengthiest), "A Bird In Hand," this album will be the best ten dollars you spend this year. Mike Kinsella's latest is a deeply personal series of stories about his changing life; getting married, owning a home, subscribing to cable (and XBox Live), losing his father, and growing fatigued by the life of touring and writing music. He even tries his hand (and succeeds) at writing the closest thing to a pop song he's written yet with "Bag of Bones," complete will bells and "aww-worthy" lyrics. The album opener (featured below) transforms the stripped down live version of a painfully honest critique to something far grander, while still brutal and somehow sweetly sincere. In short, At Home With Owen is not an album you can afford to be without.

Owen's "Bad News"
from At Home With Owen

And, just like with Shock of Being, Polyvinyl is releasing the vinyl version of Make Believe's second album, Of Course. It's shipping now and completely worth it. The vinyl even has a bonus song from this focused, solid, quickly recorded album by the perfectionist, ever-practicing Make Believe. And be sure to check out the newly redesigned and pleasently put together

i saw the line between sleeping and death as i stepped over it.

Saturday Looks Good To Me is three full albums in to their pop reign, complete with a 30 track album off odds and ends and a slew of 7" for fans and collectors of their simple pop that sounds decades old, worn in, and still fresh and riveting as singer Fred Thomas' lyrics. Unfortunately the rumor is that the next SLGTM album will be the last. This is mere speculation that even Thomas can't know for certain, but with his move out west, it seems all but inevitable. Fortunately, while the additional members give Saturday Looks Good To Me it's signature sound, Fred Thomas is the driving force, and he's already proven that his musical career is not dependent on this band's state of being. SLGTM's entire existence has been somewhat a fluke of constantly changing members, all supporting the production, songwriting, and multi-instumentalism of Thomas. In fact, at least 75 musicians have played with SLGTM since its conception almost seven years ago. Playing Motown-tinged chamber pop with punk ethics, Thomas and his crew have toured with Saves The Day, Ted Leo, Rainer Maria, Mates of State, and more.
Fred has just released his third solo endeavor, and it's characteristically fantastic. Sink Like A Symphony is packed with Thomas' personal feelings and observations that sound like thoughts that you may just have had yourself. His ability to write new songs that sound so familiar is a gift; one that has made Saturday Looks Good To Me one of my favorites, and will most likely keep all his future endeavors towards the top of my list.
Listen for yourself and purchase albums that Fred Thomas has crafted by himself, with Flashpapr, and with SLGTM at Polyvinyl. Contact Fred's Ypsilanti Records about Sink Like A Symphony. Insound also has the vinyl and CD, and says it's "akin to the hyper-worldly spiritual side of Neutral Milk Hotel or the experimental lo-fi alchemy of The Microphones."

Fred Thomas' "Holland Tunnel"
& "Susceptible To Ghosts"
from Sink Like A Symphony

Saturday Looks Good To Me's "Blue Christmas"
& "Christmas Blues"

Thursday, September 28, 2006

i will hang my head low.

It's relatively difficult to believe that there are just a few days until The Decemberists' Crane Wife will be available in every major and independent record store between the Pacific and Atlantic. They've been number two on hundreds of lists, right below Neutral Milk Hotel (due to their infamous state), for several years and many people wrote them off the minute they signed to a major label. I said it just yesterday: If the label treats them right, then more power to the both of them. I'll guarantee that The Crane Wife outsells Her Majesty within months, regardless of superiority. And the truth may just be that The Crane Wife would have been the same album if it were released by Kill Rock Stars or even Hush.
My points are contradictory. I do appreciate the ideals of independent labels and artists, but I can't find a reason to stop enjoying a band after they sign to a major. Really, in the specific case of Colin Meloy and The Decemberists, they deserve it. They've been working diligently for years creating some of the absolute best music in my (and most others') record collection. With the right contract, it may be time for the band to continue to do what they love to do, how they love to do it, and become significantly more successful with it.
The actual scoop on The Crane Wife is, as best I can tell, that it's solid Decemberists material. Less bombastic than the recent epic full-lengths, The Crane Wife does boast two songs that rival "The Mariner's Revenge Song" in both length and story-telling. It's probably a better bookend companion to Castaways & Cutouts, but that's just me talking. I can't not say that I find less pleasure in "Summersong" and "The Perfect Crime" than most Decemberists songs. I do however quite enjoy "Shankill Butchers" and the title track.
Colin Meloy will be gracing us with his presence for years to come. Let's stay by his side, lest the best is yet to come. And maybe, just maybe, more solo cover EPs.

The Decemberists' "The Crane Wife 3"
from The Crane Wife

Colin Meloy's "Charlie"
from Colin Meloy Sings Trad. Arr. Shirley Collins

Of Montreal's "Christmas Isn't Safe for Animals"

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

save you now.

In a perfect world, you were a fan of Denison Witmer long before the Pitchfork-fueled hoax involving Sufjan Stevens Rosie Thomas and a baby. In a perfect world, for news regarding Witmer and his most recent album, Are You A Dreamer? and upcoming re-release of his debut, Safe Away, you wouldn't have to go through a label's front page, urging you to vote to get Cartel on TRL. Obviously, I believe that Denison Witmer's placement on The Militia Group is odd and unsettling, but they appear to care for the folky sound that got the attention of Mr. Stevens himself. I wish I didn't have to bring him up either, but the two are friends, play together on Denison's latest, and have a very similar sound. I would very comfortably wedge Witmer between Rocky Votolato and Sufjan Stevens. It's certainly a clearer picture of Witmer's sound than explaining how his Philadelphia Songs was recorded with a lot of help from Ohio and Suicide Squeeze's own The Six Parts Seven.
If I were to ramble my way to a point, it would be that Denison Witmer emits a delicate sound of folk pop, that is essentially a man singing beautifully personal songs about love and life. Sure, it's been done, but very rarely is it this enjoyable and sad and relatable.
Are You A Dreamer? was released last year, and Denison's first album will be re-released on October 17th with a bonus CD with the Are You A Sleeper? EP and live songs, collaborations with Saxon Shore and Rosie Thomas and more. Listen to more at Denison's MySpace or his website.

Also, I learned that Denison released an album of cover songs, written by such greats as Neil Young, Gram Parsons, Graham Nash, Carole King, Fleetwood Mac, Big Star, and more.

Denison Witmer's "Los Angeles"
& "Meant To Be"
from Safe Away

Denison Witmer's "Little Flowers"
& "Are You A Dreamer?"
from Are You A Dreamer?

Sufjan Stevens' "I Saw Three Ships"

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

...know that you'll see me one day, better.

Cale Parks has been brought up here at no one is awake probably as much as Mr. Stevens, but the one absolute advantage Parks has is that he's put his fingerprints on so many albums with so many artists, that he's been a part of something in so many subgenres that almost anyone can find something he's done to enjoy. Cale's full time band is Aloha, but he's also considered a full-fledged member of or has recorded and toured with Joan of Arc, Cex, and Georgie James (Laura Burhenn, John Davis of Q and not U). You can additionally hear his contributions to albums by Pit Er Pat, Chin Up Chin Up, Owen, and The Love of Everything. However, it wasn't until Aloha recorded their most recent, Some Echoes that Cale endeavored into the world of solo albums. But the floodgates opened, as Cale recorded enough material to release an album and a half worth of material? Does that just mean an album and an EP? Nope. Stiff Slack Records (31 Knots) released Illuminated Manuscript earlier this year with thirteen moody pieces of ambient and experimental vibraphone-led pop songs. Today, Polyvinyl releases Illuminated Manuscript as it's own twelve song entity. The albums vary though, and while they share eight songs, each has a handful of songs unique for it's country of release (Japan and America). Luckily for us, the outrageous import and shipping prices are waived, as Polyvinyl's mail-order service is offering each album for just ten dollars. If you're doing the math, that's twenty dollars for seventeen blissful tracks of perfect background music for just about any task or event.
I've shone the spotlight on Cale's most predominant musical outputs, and briefly mentioned Illuminated Manuscript in the past (Aloha, Joan of Arc, Cex, and Cale), but Parks is deserving of his own bright Tuesday Spotlight, complete with a new Chin Up Chin Up song (Cale contributes talents to almost half of This Harness Can't Ride Anything's songs).

Cale Parks' "Late Show"
& "Wet Paint"
from Illuminated Manuscript (both versions)

Aloha's "Brace Your Face"
from Some Echoes

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

Cex's "Chicago" (featuring Tim Kinsella)
from Actual Fucking

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

Georgie James' "Need Your Needs"
& "Cheap Champagne"
from Demos at Dance Place

Love of Everything's "Nothing Left To Use"
from Superior Mold and Die

Pit Er Pat's "Solstice"
from Pyramids

Matt Pond PA's "Holiday Road"
from Winter Songs EP

one can only be too sure of nothing.

Just a brief update on 31 Knots. I mentioned at the beginning of last month that 31K were finishing up their next album, that Polyvinyl will release in early 2007. But there are two 31 Knots releases to look forward to even before The Days and Nights of Everything Everywhere drops. On November 7th, along with Owen's fourth full-length, PV will release 31 Knots' Polemics EP. Also slated for release is a re-issue of the Portland trio's first album, ClimaxAntiClimax. Buckle up for a welcome slew of abstract progressive guitar rock from those who brought you Dilute.

31 Knots' "Vanish"
from Polemics EP

Please note that in related November 7th EP release news, Voxtrot's Your Biggest Fan will be the third Voxtrot EP to tantalize your ears.

Monday, September 25, 2006

you have to care for it to keep it together.

John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus won't likely stray from the strangely sexual, aesthetically pleasing yet harmlessly unsettling themes that made Hedwig & The Angry Inch a cult phenomenon. One major difference, however, is that the music (while it still may have an integral part of the film) is not sung by Shortbus' characters. In fact, Team Love will release the soundtrack in November, and it will boast already cherished songs from Azure Ray, The Hidden Cameras, Yo La Tengo, Animal Collective, Gentleman Reg, The Ark, Scott Matthew, and more. I can't imagine the buzz about the movie will stop for quite a while. Even I'm quite interested based on two statements alone from Eye Weekly and Variety.
"...plays like Woody Allen's Manhattan with money shots..."
"Unquestionably the most sexually graphic American narrative feature ever made outside the porn industry."
Well hell, maybe the soundtrack will be the least enjoyable aspect of the movie. Well...
See more about Shortbus here and enjoy some original songs for the film by Scott Matthew on his MySpace.

Azure Ray's "If You Fall"
& The Hidden Cameras' "Boys of Melody"
from Shortbus: The Soundtrack

Ninety days until Christmas:
Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You"
BONUS: Billy Mack's "Christmas Is All Around"
(Is it shameful to enjoy Love, Actually as much as I do?)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

the sooner the better.

Like I could not join the swarms of people ecstatic about this.

Herman Dune's "I Wish That I Could See You Soon"

in the morning of our lives, i'm not afraid of trying.

Friends and worshippers of Karl Blau, Lake are from Washington and have yet to turn to many heads very simply due to their relative newness. They are, for lack of a better term, a supergroup of musicians involved in other (not yet nationally known) musical projects, that came together to play lo-fi songs of choral melodies, atmospheric layers, female sweetness with piano and banjo notes flourishing atop hard snare hits. They've recorded an album, but you'll be hard pressed to find it outside one of their local shows or contacting them personally. You sure can do so through MySpace though, and you may want to based on their solid, downloadable, upliftingly somber songs.

Lake's "Helicopter"
& "Higher Than Merry"

Sleeping At Last's "Silver Bells"

Saturday, September 23, 2006

the autumn night we realized we were falling out of love.

It's been more than six months now since I started no one is awake, more or less, on a whim. And while putting this event off for a couple days, hoping that something grandiose would put itself together, I now celebrate 200 posts. That averages just about exactly one post per day, and I'm quite proud of that. It's been a genuinely enjoyable experience to force myself to either discover new music, put into words my feelings on my favorite artists or albums, or simply open the ears of a new listener to any artist on any given day. I'm flattering myself. I have a fairly small (yet thankfully loyal) group of regular readers. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of however many of 200 posts you've seen.
A dusty acoustic guitar, a keyboard stored in a garage, a long-neglected trumpet, and several lost or disregarded notebooks are a testament for my undying passion for music. No, it's not a unique trait, but my inability to focus on contributing something to the culture has been my defining trait. Maybe a blog about music isn't anything significant in this world either, but it's the most I've focused on doing something on my own. I flatter myself that you, the reader, is even interested enough to read all of this self-indulgent commentary with any sentiment. But to be fair, in a world where everyone s blogging, I feel great pleasure that this, no one is awake, is my blog.
Thank you very much for reading, downloading, listening, and coming back. You are the future of no one is awake. Start letting me know how you feel about what's going on here. Let me know what you're having trouble taking out of your ipod, car stereo, cd player, record player, or head. Let me know, whether or not the featured music sparked your attention or not. Let me know who you are and why you come back here. I do this for you faceless readers, but you hold the power to make yourself heard.

Yesterday was the first day of Fall, the air has already gotten cooler and crisper (quietly requesting that Transatlanticism proudly resurrect itself) and we are almost exactly three months away from Christmas. I, for the most part, spare you the amount of Christmas music I'd like to share at any given day throughout the year, but for the next three months, it will be unavoidable. In fact, I hereby vow to share at least one holiday-inspired song every day leading up to December 25th. Don't worry. I'll do it. Whether you like it or not. ...Please like it.

For now, just enjoy a few songs from the 2001 Polyvinyl Records sampler (three of which were otherwise unreleased), and your first in a series
of ninety-three days of Christmas/Holiday music.

American Football's "Never Meant"
Matt Pond PA's "A New Part of Town"
Pele's "Gas the Nutsy"
& Aloha's "Warsaw"
from Re Direction: A Polyvinyl Sampler

Death Cab or Cutie's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

something's been wrong a long long time.

I'm still in the process of getting used to my iMac, but with such attributes as a 500GB hard drive, 2GB of RAM, wireless keyboard and mouse, built in camera, and let's not forget over 250 square inches of viewing pleasure with no "tower" (it's just a "monitor!"), I imagine I'll grow into it in no time. Oh, and in a timespan of seventy-two hours, it travelled from Shanghai to Anchorage to Indianapolis to Cleveland to my house. The world really is amazing.
Hrishikesh Hirway is, albeit a less grand of a scale, also amazing. He's finished recording his third full-length as The One AM Radio, which should peak it's presumably beautiful head in early 2007.
While we wait, however, we can indulge in the music of The Young Toughs. Hirway has joined up with David Slade (of American Princes) to create a perfect blend of the alt-country rock Slade has grown into and the sweet electronic tinged folk that Hirway is know for.
I can only find reference to The Young Toughs on MySpace, but four grand songs await you there.

Hrishakesh Hirway and David Slade are The Young Toughs and on MySpace.

I promise you a triumphant return of fleshed-out posts very very soon. In fact, this is my 199th post since I began in March and I feel something mighty is in order for the big 200. Let me know if you've got an idea!


Please excuse a slight lull in no one is awake updates. I have been busy preparing for my future and celebrating the past two years. I will be in the process of transferring everything to my new iMac (24") this evening and no one is awake should be back to steady business as usual.
In the meantime, have fun with this amazing Californian experimental guitar, et al duo.
Two dollars if you are a big a fan of the origin of their name as I am.

Giraffes? Giraffes! "Fucking ants man!Where they coming from? (Let's hang the Carroll footnoteitsists)"
& "She looked up from examining the freckles on her arm and shouted, "Jesus! I'm fucking god-damn tired of all this make-up sex!" and he just stared off."
from Superbass! Black Death Greatest Hits Vol. 1

Giraffes? Giraffes! website and MySpace.

Monday, September 18, 2006

the words burn my soul.

After wrapping up their tour with Mates of State, this quartet of pop over-achievers will head out to the west coast with Bishop Allen. Their third album, Drowaton, is a successful blend creation of complex and compelling "bubblegum psych." The album wasn't, honestly, what I was expecting at first listen. Then, days later, I forgot what CD was in my player, and was amazed. I couldn't remember what it was and couldn't bear to stop it long enough to take it out and remember.
I have a nasty habit of "burying the hook" and for that I apologize. The band is Starlight Mints. They are a part of the current Barsuk powerhouse and if you've managed to get through nearly six months since the release of Drowaton without it, take this as your warning that your next six months could be a great deal better.
Drowaton is "something very grand: one marvelous piece of orchestrated, catchy surrealism after another."

Starlight Mints' "Pumpkin"
& "Inside of Me"
from Drowaton

Ten minutes of "Studio 60 On Sunset Strip" have aired and I am in love. The Aaron Sorkin of "Sports Night" is back.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

we are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams.

Fact: I was supremely excited for Tim Burton's "Charlie & The Chocolate Factory" and subsequently severely disappointed.
Fact: Gene Wilder performed with a fantastic creepiness that was and is unrivaled, even by the not-to-be-discluded Johnny Depp.
Fact: Though penned by musical soundtrack magician Danny Elfman, the update was vastly inferior to Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley's original 1971 score.
Fact: Not one of you would have seriously considered purchasing this 35 year old album, even if it were presented to you at a discounted price.
Fact: You [expletive] love this music.

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory Original Soundtrack
Main Title (Golden Ticket / Pure Imagination)

The Candy Man
Charlie's Paper Run
Cheer Up, Charlie
Lucky Charlie
(I've Got A) Golden Ticket
Pure Imagination
Oompa Loompa
The Wondrous Boat Ride
Everlasting Gobstoppers / Oompa Loompa
The Bubble Machine
I Want It Now / Oompa Loompa
Wonkamobile, Wonkavision / Oompa Loompa
Wonkavator / End Title (Pure Imagination)

Fact: None of the above "facts" were made up entirely or partially of factual information.
Fact: I should give the Burton remake another shot.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

i guess all there is to do around here is just live.

Brian Moss is not one for leaving recipes stagnant. Upon reading a brief review of 2004's We Are All Natural Disasters, I set out to find this debut album from Chicago's Hanalei to find out firsthand if it was as good as it sounded. Hanalei became one of those bands that I looked for out of habit any time I was in any record store. During a period of time when I didn't have internet access readily available, this was how I found music. The dark ages. I never did find that album, and by the time I found their sophomore record, Parts and Accessories, earlier this year I couldn't quite remember anything about their debut's review or why I was so interested.
Parts and Accessories impressed me nonetheless. It's a solid rock album with charming crisp vocals and guitars that bounce and jangle. It wouldn't be out of place next to a Weakerthans record or even one by The Ghost, Moss' old band. But tonight everything about that initial review came back to me. Comparisons to The Postal Service and Her Space Holiday were mentioned as easily as to Death Cab and The Shins. In listening to Parts and Accessories now it's easy to concede why I couldn't remember what intrigued me about them from before I had even heard them. However, Brian Moss would have to do quite a bit more to distance himself from Ben Gibbard comparisons. Tonight was also the first I had heard any of that debut album, We Are All Natural Disasters, and was exactly what reminded me of that fateful review in the first place.
This is all extremely wordy and interesting to, I'm sure, nobody but myself. But it's cathartic to get it all out.
Hanalei has always written great tunes that have the ability to charm the socks off any listener. They've entirely eliminated the fairly heavy electronic feel of their first album for a slick indie rock sophomore release, and if you forget what they sound like and the contents of this (pseudo-)review in two years, you may be discovering something completely new.

Hanalei's "Action Drum"
"Josh & Sarah's Belated Wedding Present"
& "Anza Ninety Three"
from We Are All Natural Disasters

Hanalei's "Resonate Remain"
"Sloth Art"
& "Nothing Works"
from Parts and Accessories

I've heard that Moss' first self-released EP, though the songs would be largely remolded into Natural Disasters songs, sounds more akin to Calexico than anything else. In conclusion, someone find Hurricane We for me.

i'd rather just relax or not exist.

"Belle & Sebastian would strangle their worship group leader to be able to come up with something this good."
-Play Louder

"An occasionally incredible listen... line after line that has you gasping. Another flawed gem."
-What's On

"Near Perfection."

"This is an exercise in frantic self-depreciation intertwined with melancholic but dissonant country with the odd rock song thrown in for good measure. In other words: it's fantastic. It's good to finally see Rough Trade, back on track."

"...Remarkable offbeat talent... it's only a matter of time before Lewis becomes an indie hero."
-The Independent

"Compared to the flash of the Strokes, Lower East Side boy Jeff is a thrift shop minstrel from the more interesting side of town. An excellent urban addition to the new American folk of Sufjan Stevens and Devendra Banhart."
-Daily Mirror

"Jeffrey Lewis is a god, there's no denying it."
-Drowned in Sound

You probably didn't even notice that you haven't heard of those sources. And well you shouldn't, because the high praise of neo anti-folk singer/songwriter/comic book artist Jeffrey Lewis is deserved. Well, he's worth at least one listen, that's for sure.

Jeffrey Lewis' "Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror"
& "The Singing Tree"
from City & Eastern Songs

Jeffrey Lewis' "Don't Let The Record Label Take You Out To Lunch"
from It's The Ones Who've Cracked That The Light Shines Through

Thursday, September 14, 2006

breathing is really cool.

I went through a Jimmie's Chicken Shack phase nearly a decade ago. More relevantly, I went through a Jarflys phase two or three years ago. Jarflys was and is Jimi Davies' Chicken Shack side project, with more prevalent elements of singer/songwriter and jam band. Neither are particular sources of excitement for me now, but I retain the absolute heart-wrenching love of one song. I was introduced to it through a Jarflys bootleg concert, offered on their website, and reminded just this year on a cheap old used Jimmie's Chicken Shack EP in a budget bin. It was offered as an unreleased bonus track on what was essentially a promo for Bring Your Own Stereo and "Do Right" single. Please tell me you remember that song (and video)! Well, if you'd like to sample Jarflys' jamming bar band aesthetic, they've got a concert available for download here, an album available for purchase here, and a new one on it's way.
The point is that I still feel very much elated when listening to Jimi Davies' inspirational "Smiling." And I find I actually still enjoy "30 Days" as well.
Bear with me. I'm reminiscing. And I couldn't find my live CD, so you'll have to get the drift from a slightly sped up, full band version of "Smiling."

Jimmie's Chicken Shack's "Do Right" (Ha.)
& "30 Days"
from Bring Your Own Stereo

Jimmie's Chicken Shack's "Smiling"
from Slow Change EP

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

you threw the key away.

There's not really a whole lot of bad things happening over at Hush Records. You'll recall I brought up several acts in an Esperanza Spalding write-up in July. Most importantly is Hush founder Chad Crouch and his band, Blanket Music. This year, they released a two CD package of earnest love songs just oozing with poppy goodness. Over thirty-three songs, Crouch and company play twelve eclectic originals and eleven interpretive covers. Covered artists include M Ward, Kind of Like Spitting, Norfolk & Western, and The Decemberists. The Love / Love Translation is available for a reasonable double-disc album price of $15 at the Hush store. You should be there already. You can learn more at the Blanket Music MySpace, but that should only be a pit stop before ordering their music.

Blanket Music's "I Love You"
from The Love

Blanket Music's "Red Right Ankle" (The Decemberists)
from Love Translation

i got to believe it come from rock and roll.

I'm going to go ahead and guess that Mr. Cross was, in some fashion, inebriated.

Spoon at Bumbershoot

Spoon's "The Beast and Dragon, Adored"
& "Sister Jack (Piano Demo)" (BONUS)
from Gimme Fiction

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

the secret will travel.

Sure, it hasn't even been a month since news broke that Menomena had signed to Barsuk and that their second album Friend and Foe would drop on January 23rd. But when Menomena rocks, Menomena rolls, and they announced today that they'd bring a new EP with them on their upcoming tour with What Made Milwaukee Famous and The Long Winters. The EP is a sort of single for their latest, "Wet & Rusting," with three versions of the song and three additional, unreleased gems. Tour dates were posted here, and the EP is available online here. Also, if you're on the left coast, Menomena will be visiting you with 31 Knots later this year. Get ready.

Menomena's "Wet & Rusting"
from Wet and Rusting EP

cut the cord with a kitchen knife.

Well, it's taken a bit longer than most months, but it's also more than three times the length. Bishop Allen decided, after being almost entirely cooped up for seven months, to tour throughout August. This brought in to question their ability to make good on their EP-every-month promise. Lo and behold, a logical response: a live EP of an entire set from the Middle East in Cambridge, MA. The EP is still just five dollars and includes several songs from this year's EP project, two Charm School songs, and two brand new songs. Next month will be back to four new songs, but take advantage of August's extended live EP by ordering it now.

Bishop Allen's "The Same Fire"
"That Summer"
& "The Flood"
from August

you're the last thing on my mind.

I give you full permission to judge me for the following Tuesday Spotlight. I reserve the right, however, to not care. The following band was my absolute favorite band for several years, and still has a sizable place in both my heart and record collection (one and the same?). They've been around for nearly twenty years and released their seventh proper studio album today. They moved away from a major label to create their own, with distribution through Nettwerk (see The Format and Anathallo), and have been doing a great job in keeping up with the times and public demand for more (digital) material. In addition, I wouldn't be me without mentioning, in high regard, that they've released a Christmas album that rivals most in my book. Again, their latest album is available in stores today and is called Barenaked Ladies Are Me.
Barenaked Ladies went from unknown Canadian goofballs to college radio gods through their numerous singles in the mid to late nineties. They have always boasted two phenomenal singers and songwriters in Steven Page and Ed Robertson. When they started, they boasted classically trained brothers on stand-up bass and piano/percussion. Jim and Andy Creeggan also play together in an aforementioned side project. Andy left the band to pursue other musical options and the band welcomed Kevin Hearn as their keyboard/dozens of other instruments player. Shortly after Hearn joined the group he underwent a serious bout with cancer that he would recover from completely. Barenaked Ladies Are Me is BNL's fourth proper album with Hearn's contributions and his addition to the band is not to be understated.
I'm more likely to connect with songs on BNL albums that don't have a "single feel" and I'd like to share those with you. Most of these songs represent the slowest and most somber moments of every generally lively album, but they are the songs that stick with me. After all, you've heard "One Week" enough, I'm sure.

Barenaked Ladies' "Brian Wilson"
from Gordon

Barenaked Ladies' "Am I The Only One?"
from Maybe You Should Drive

Barenaked Ladies' "When I Fall"
from Born On A Pirate Ship

Barenaked Ladies' "If I Had A $1000000 (Yellow Tape Version)"
from Shoe Box EP

Barenaked Ladies' "Break Your Heart"
from Rock Spectacle

Barenaked Ladies' "Some Fantastic"
from Stunt

Barenaked Ladies' "Tonight Is The Night I Fell Asleep At The Wheel / Hidden Sun"
from Maroon

Barenaked Ladies' "Thanks That Was Fun"
from Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits (1991-2001)

Barenaked Ladies' "War on Drugs"
from Everything To Everyone

Barenaked Ladies' "Christmastime (Oh Yeah)"
from Barenaked For The Holidays

Barenaked Ladies' "For You"
from Au Naturale: Live in Denver, CO 08-02-04

Barenaked Ladies' "Bank Job"
from Barenaked Ladies Are Me

Monday, September 11, 2006

there is no way to say and there is nothing i can do.

Today was the first day I'd heard anything by Herman Dune, but I'm determined to make sure it's the first in a line of many rather than a first and only. There's plenty to learn about the extraordinary amount (and quality) of work that Sweden's Herman Dune has done in the last decade, not to mention the impressive list of side projects. But most pertinent is the new full length album called Giant. It will be released in October and will absolutely floor you. I could say that HD is somewhere between The Mountain Goats and Talking Heads and Acid House Kings, but that would leave out a lot of the majesty and be counterproductive. Just listen to "I Wish That I Could See You Soon." You'll understand. Again, learn quite a lot more than I'm providing you with at the website or listen to more on MySpace.

Herman Dune's "I Wish That I Could See You Soon"
& "Nickel Chrome"
from Giant

And from last year's Not On Top, Herman Dune's "Not On Top"

And because they seem destined to play back to back on any mix...
The Mountain Goats' "This Year"

Sunday, September 10, 2006

we can barely afford the gas...

Decibully have been closing their recent sets with a new song called "If I Don't Work," and if the rough demo version on their MySpace page is any indication, the new album will replace the previous as my favorite exponentially faster than Sing Out America! replaced City of Festivals. And for perspective's sake, their debut became an instant favorite of mine, and the sophomore album is still in heavy rotation in my car over a year and a half later. It was a sleeper hit for me for some reason.
If you dislike puns or convenient song title placement, just skip this next sentence. If I didn't work tomorrow, I'd listen to Sing Out America! twice and the new demo at least a half a dozen times.

Decibully's "Megan & Magill"
from Sing Out America!

Listen to "If I Don't Work" on Decibully's

Additionally, Decibully appear to be label shopping for their third proper album. If you've own an independent label with fantastic distribution, tell Ryan, William and the guys you love them. Everyone else appears to be gravitating towards Barsuk, but maybe Polyvinyl is still in the running.

you're already buried in a cemetery.

Polyvinyl Record Co. is simply one of the best independent labels in existence. While it can be argued that their distribution is not as solid as other indies', they more than make up for it with a tremendous mail-order system, a 50/50 relationship with their artists, and the artists themselves. Polyvinyl continues to sign and release music by exquisite artists that create a superb roster of today's best musicians.
And I don't think I'm overstating anything.
On October 22nd, Polyvinyl will re-release the debut album one of from Missouri's finest independent pop bands, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. The buzz around and wonderment of this little band that could is evident in the praise of Chris Walla, Spin, Pitchfork Media, and countless bloggers. Furthermore, the excitement about this band will not fizzle once Broom is released nationally as they stand to hold on to a growing loyal fanbase as well as The Shins, Of Montreal, and even Belle & Sebastian.
There's absolutely no reason to base your (dis)agreement on my praise alone. Daytrotter held a session with the SSLYBY guys in March, and there are four free songs available here. There are clips from each Broom song on the band's website and a few songs on their MySpace. And of course you can continue to scroll down this page as I have for you two songs from Broom as well as two songs from their limited run (250) of handmade split EPs with the tremendous Michael Holt. My copy has penguins! Praise be to Polyvinyl Records and the little blog/label that could, Catbird Seat

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin's "Oregon Girl"
& "Anne Elephant"
from Broom

SSLYBY's "Lower The Gas Prices Howard Johnson"
& "Go Upstairs"
from Someone Still Loves You Michael Holt: A Scrapbook For You

what's cooler than being cool?

Now if only someone had their cover of Feist's "One Evening."

Obadiah Parker's "Hey Ya"

Friday, September 08, 2006

are you the serious kind?

I'm fairly predictable. That applies vaguely to many aspects of my life that will not be elaborated upon. But suffice it to say that if you know a band that has original drumming and melodic, undistorted electric guitar with equal parts focused math rock and open jazz flair, I'm probably going to like them. If you throw in the occasional trumpet (or any brass instrument), I'll keep my focus on them exponentially longer. If you throw in a second drummer, and do it correctly, I'll be smitten and come back to their album frequently. Colossal do it correctly. Their 2004 full length debut, Welcome the Problems, is that album. The band members, who have come and gone frequently over the band's first few years, are more akin to the punk scene than the indie scene, which is moderately surprising. Colossal has toured with The Alkaline Trio and includes members of The Lawrence Arms and The Smoking Popes, yet they can easily draw fans of American Football and Pele. And accuse me of making too many Pele comparisons all you want. Jon Mueller's innovative percussion style and Chris Rosenau's guitar work have been major influences on my musical tastes. Colossal are now writing and recording their second album after taking some time apart.
So, if Matt Skiba had formed a band in Chicago in the late nineties and shared practice space with Steve Lamos and Steve Holmes, they may have stumbled upon a sound that Colossal has made their own.
Extra credit if you understood that without looking anything up.

Colossal's "The Serious Kind"
& "I'll Look At You When The Dying Starts"
from Welcome the Problems

Thursday, September 07, 2006

there isn't nothing all us little animals can do.

One of my favorite finds of 2005 was Music Saves' recommendation of Phosphorescent's Aw Come Aw Wry. I bonded with this album at the beginning of 2006, in bizarre conjunction with Of Montreal's Gay Parade. There was even a period of several weeks when I was content listening bipolarly to Of Montreal's "Old Familiar Way" and Phosphorescent's "Joe Tex, These Taming Blues." But enough about that happier, peppier end of the spectrum.
Phosphorescent is Matthew Houck. His crackling, sad voice and uniquely orchestrated folk don't stray too far from the styles brought forth in his other band, Castanets. But his own blend of atmospheric Americana and piano and horn driven soul folk set him apart from his Asthmatic Kitty partners. Houck is occasionally heavy on the atmospheric aspect, most notably on the nineteen minute closing track, "Nowhere Rd., Georgia, Feb. 21, 2005," made up entirely of the background sounds present at the time. It can absolutely be boring or dismissable but the first forty-one minutes of Aw Come Aw Wry set the mood so well for it's anti-climax to leave to in a very relaxed yet very conscious state.
The high points of Phosphorescent's sophomore release are undoubtedly the aforementioned "Joe Tex" as well as "I Am A Full Grown Man (I Will Lay in the Grass All Day)." Certainly enough to build your interest for a new album, supposedly to drop by the end of the year, or to revive your adoration of Castanets; a meaty portion of Phosphorescent, with a side of Page France, washed down by a glass of Will Oldham.
Enjoy my favorites from Phosphorescent's Aw Come Aw Wry as well as both Castanet albums.

Phosphorescent's "Joe Tex, These Taming Blues"
& "I Am A Full Grown Man (I Will Lay in the Grass All Day)"
from Aw Come Aw Wry

Castanets' "Three Days, Four Nights"*
from Cathedral

Castanets' "Good Friend, Yr. Hunger"
from First Light's Freeze

Phosphorescent's "Pretty" at The EARL in Atlanta, 04/15/06

*It was here, the sixth song on Cathedral, about twenty-two seconds in that was completely sold on Castanets. It's the little things.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

every little thing is gonna be alright.

For those of you who know (and presumably adore) the music of Ida, your ears could not possibly snuggle up any more to the idea of vocalist Elizabeth Mitchell singing warm children's songs with both folk sensibilities and children themselves. But this isn't a completely new idea. She's been doing this for a while now, and is currently releasing her third collection of simple masterpieces; fourth if you include the children's book and album she completed with college bandmate Lisa Loeb. Mitchell's voice is angelic and sweet and paired with delicate acoustic guitar picking, she sounds like she's singing from a small homey cottage down the river from where the sirens seduced Everett, Pete, and Delmar in O Brother, Where Art Thou?

I'll keep this brief to allot you enough time to actually go to Mitchell's and Daniel Littleton's (Ida) site for their music and literature dedicated to kids. There you can listen to several songs from each of the three albums in the series, You Are My Flower, You Are My Sunshine, and You Are My Little Bird. Simply click on "Flower," "Sunshine," or "Little Bird" at their website.
I'd share a song if I was able to attain one. But, I'll most likely be ordering one or all of these albums in the near future.

Segue: Mitchell's Ida signed to Polyvinyl Records, the largest shareholder of Kevin Barnes' Of Montreal.

Of Montreal has released a track listing for their upcoming Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?, which will be released in January. The simplistic and easily understood song titles are as follows...

01: Suffer for Fashion
02: Sink the Seine
03: Cato as a Pun
04 Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse
05: Gronlandic Edit
06: A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger
07: The Past is a Grotesque Animal
08: Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider
09: Faberge Falls for Shuggie
10: Labyrinthian Pomp
11: She's a Rejector
12: We Were Born the Mutants Again With Leafling

Now you just have to wait a couple months to hear any of them. Bide your time by ordering their recently released two LP remix album, Satanic Twins, through Polyvinyl. You can also stream the entire album here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

two hundred solemn faces are you.

I've mentioned this before but I briefly maintained some Angelfire site called "Ben Folds (Five) Song of the Day." It didn't last very long, but certainly longer than it legally should have. But can it be true that I've never dedicated a proper post to the talented Mr. Folds? For shame. But it does present the perfect way to bring back the Tuesday Spotlight. Maybe I'll generate a graphic for Tuesday Spotlights in the near future. Or if you feel so inclined to create a no one is awake style Spotlight graphic, you could win the very appropriate prize of seeing it here on Tuesdays. I'm sure you've already opened Photoshop. E-mail submissions to devoutinfidel (at)

Ben Folds has releasing music properly and steadily for about a dozen years. Alongside drummer Darren Jessee and bassist Robert Sledge, Folds founded Ben Folds Five. The trio had three magnificent albums as well as a rarities collection and a slew of singles. When the three parted ways, Folds had the clear advantage in having his name already out there and held in high musical regard. The world was stunned when he released his solo debut on September Eleventh, 2001. Though, to be fair, they had a bit more on their plate than his record of twelve solid stories, ballads, and jams. Folds soon followed his debut's success by releasing his first live album with a playlist that spanned his career with the Five, his solo disc and a mighty fine Elton John cover. Now with two children, Folds was feeling the need for a creative make-over and released a slew of three EPs to keep fans aware that he had not lost it. Last year, Ben released his epic Songs for Silverman, where we see him fully evolved into a grown-up and parent, whose fingers still hit each and every key on the piano correctly, and quite often his lyrics and voice follow suit.
On October 24th, Ben will release a remastered and retweaked collection of his 2003 EPs, allowing the correct (copious) amount of people to hear the fantastic songs that were released in limited runs online. I would highly recommend you add this to your collection (if only for the Dr. Dre cover of "Bitches Ain't Shit") in addition to the absolutely spectacularly performed Complete Sessions at West 54th DVD. While, compiling this list of my favorite or most notable tracks from each release, it's more than apparent that I'll be in a Ben Folds kick for a little while. Whatever And Ever Amen retains it's place as one of my all-time favorite albums.

Ben Folds Five's "Philosophy"
from Ben Folds Five

Ben Folds Five's "Song for the Dumped"
from Whatever And Ever Amen

Ben Folds Five's "Underground" (Live on 8/12/1995)
from Naked Baby Photos

Ben Folds Five's "Don't Change Your Plans"
from The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner

Ben Folds' "Still Fighting It"
from Rockin' The Suburbs

Ben Folds' "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces"
& "Emaline"
from Ben Folds Live

Ben Folds' "In Between Days"
from Speed Graphic EP

Ben Folds' "There's Always Someone Cooler Than You"
from Sunny 16 EP

Ben Folds' "Rent A Cop"
from Super D EP

The Bens' (Ben Folds, Ben Kweller, and Ben Lee) "Bruised"
from The Bens EP

Ben Folds' "You To Thank"
from Songs for Silverman

Ben Folds' "Hiro's Song"
& "Rockin' The Suburbs"
from Songs for Goldfish