Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Finds

The National announces new album, tour (Paste)
A.A. Bondy does a live session at the HearYa studio (HearYa)
Watch Gorillaz’s Latest Plastic Beach Teaser (Rolling Stone)
The Swell Season covers Springsteen (I am Fuel, You are Friends)
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists in concert (NPR)
Smokey Robinson, Bob Dylan to play Civil Rights songs at White House (TwentyFourBit)
Frightened Rabbit tour, share new songs (Pitchfork)

New Shins in 2011? James Mercer speaks to MTV

It's been a while since Wincing the Night Away scratched at our souls. Remember that album? Yeah, what was that, three years ago? Man, I loved "Turn on Me."

Well, according to a new interview James Mercer did with MTV, there could be a new Shins record on tap for 2011. Until then, we'll have to see what Broken Bells, his new project, is all about. Could be worse. Actually, could be really cool.

Surfer Blood Debuts Video for "Swim"

West Palm Beach rockers (is that an oxymoron?), Surfer Blood, debuted the music video for "Swim" over at Pitchfork yesterday.  I hope this doesn't mean tighty whities are making a comeback.

Pajammy Jam of the Day | Jay Farrar - Gather

I know that Jay Farrar teaming up with Ben Gibbard and Jack Kerouac for the One Fast Move Or I'm Gone album is all the rage these days. I get that. I do. But I'm going to throw you a Farrar curve ball on this wonderful Friday and go back to The Slaughter Rule soundtrack. Because the winter months always bring me back to this song.

There is something about Farrar's voice that meditative. It's longing for something that isn't clear. "Gather" is a song that suits these feelings of loneliness and the need to be close. Close with friends. Close with family. Close with a lover.

Or simply just close.

"Until we gather."

Jay Farrar - Gather

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jakob Dylan Teams Up with T Bone Burnett and Neko Case on 'Women and Country'

April 6th will bring us a new solo album from Jakob Dylan, who last released Seeing Things in 2008. 2010's Women and Country finds Dylan teaming up with Neko Case and Kelly Hogan, who provide back-up vocals to 8 of the album’s 11 tracks. And whenever that happens, you've got our attention, not to mention T Bone Burnett (Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Crazy Heart) is producing Dylan's sophomore disc. Pretty good reasons to get excited.

We should have more details soon, but for now, here's the track listing for Women and Country:

1. Nothing But The Whole Wide World
2. Down On Our Shield
3. Lend A Hand
4. We Don’t Live Here Anymore
5. Everybody’s Hurting
6. Yonder Come the Blues
7. Holy Rollers for Love
8. Truth For A Truth
9. They’ve Trapped US Boys
10. Smile When You Call Me That
11. Standing Eight Count

"I don't mind going down, into the dirt underground..."

The recently named Boston Music Awards' New Act of the Year, Mean Creek, has unveiled a new song off 2009's The Sky (Or The Underground) as the band gears up to tour with the indie-rocking Destry before making a pit stop in Austin for this little festival we call SXSW.

"It's Good To Be Back Again" poses the big questions. "Where do I go when I die/ why am I here/ who am I?" Yet, the sound of keys jangling in the background implies, "I know I don't have all the answers, babe, but let's get in the car and drive!" It's clear that Mean Creek ponders the unknown but doesn't fear it.

Furthermore, this track made me realize that I'm clearly addicted to boy-girl harmonies (think: The Dutchess and the Duke and The New Pornographers). And as I've already stated before, I'm a sucker for hand claps.

Mean Creek - It's Good To Be Back Again

Tour Dates:
Feb 3 - TT the Bear's - Boston, MA
Feb 4 - Jerky's - Providence, RI
Feb 8 - Knitting Factory - Brooklyn, NY
Feb 9 - Maxwell's - Hoboken, NJ
Feb 10 - Ottobar - Baltimore, MD
Feb 11 - Khyber Upstairs - Philadelphia, PA
Feb 12 - Binghamton University - Binghamton, NY
Feb 13 - Garfield Artworks - Pittsburgh, PA
Feb 14 - Eleanor Rigby's - Jermyn, PA
Feb 15 - the Space - Hamden, CT
Feb 16 - Horseshoe Tavern - Toronto, ON

Jam of the Day | We Are Wolves - Blue

Jason, my blogging partner in crime, passed on this We Are Wolves song to me yesterday, knowing it would be right up my alley.  I guess writing about music together for two years has paid off. He was right on the money.

So, it's pretty amazing how poignant two simple, alternating chords can be, as they set the stage for this electro-pop number that builds and builds, layering on a synth beat, gunning guitars, hard-hitting drums, and fuzzy vocals. This is a dance floor-ready track in the vein of Bloc Party or TV on the Radio that contemplates the permutations of the color blue: melting skies, midnight dreams, and bleeding nights.  

Yet, it makes me very happy.

Invisible Violence is out on February 2, 2010 on Dare to Care Records.

We Are Wolves - Blue

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's a Big Music Video Wednesday!

The much loved Local Natives debuted the video for "Airplanes" today.

Local Natives | MySpace Music Videos

On top of that goodness, Broken Bells (the collabo between Danger Mouse and The Shins' frontman, James Mercer) debuted its video for "The High Road."

Broken Bells | MySpace Music Videos

To complete the trifecta, we bring you The Go Find's new video for "It's Automatic."

The Go Find: Automatic from morr music on Vimeo.

Katie Cole (The Interview)

She’s got the voice. She’s got the looks. She’s got the catchy songs. Yeah, you could say native Australian singer-songwriter Katie Cole has a lot going for her these days. Let’s have a quick look/listen.

Whew. Let me catch my breath.


2010 could end up being a breakthrough year for Ms. Cole as she’s been recording in L.A. with producer Howard Willing, getting her debut album, Melodiem, ready for the world. The pop/rock artist is sure to turn a few heads along the way; I know I’m excited to hear the finished product.

Luckily, Katie took some time to answer a few questions for us. Let’s learn a little more about this Aussie star-in-the-making, shall we?

1. Many of our readers are probably new to your music. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do?

I am a songwriter/singer originally from Melbourne, Australia, now living in Los Angeles, USA. I guess my main genre and style of music is "pop/rock," but that can mean anything these days, right? It could be Icelandic rap with dance beats underneath...hehe...but in my case...pop/rock, for me, means influences of KT Tunstall, The Beatles, Coldplay, and Sheryl Crow. Uplifting pop with elements of rock and folk. Strong songs, hooky melodies, and good storytelling.

2. I understand you're recording right now. How is that going for you? When can we hear your album?

I LOVE recording. Did I stress that enough? LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVVVVEEEE recording! Haha. On my debut record, Melodiem, I have been working very closely with Producer Howard Willing (Smashing Pumpkins, Ok Go). Every part of the recording process is amazing to me. Even the tiring, frustrating, inspiring, hilarious discussions, and last minute changes to songs. And believe me, lots of things happen "on the fly" in the studio.

For all artists, recording usually poses a challenge. First off, it involves the songwriting and re-writing, song selection, then...finally...the production, vocal recording, mixing, and mastering. Working with Howard is great. He is perhaps crazier than me...and will push the limits of my skills and ability, which I hate at the time, but love in the end. It's like having a coach. If it's easy for you, you probably aren't pushing and stretching far enough.

There can be many people involved in the whole record-making process, so you end up having to find a common focus through many different creative ears/eyes and seek out that common goal. I am finishing up one more song currently, then I am done. Yay. Pat on the back for everyone. I should have something released by summer 2010. In the meantime, you can hear some music on my website,

3. Your MySpace page tells us that your "earliest childhood memories are of my mother blasting Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones and The Beatles." Can you talk a little but more about those memories?

Haha. Yeah, my Mum is rad!!! I have so many memories of clicking the gate open, walking down her driveway, and just hearing the unmistakable rumble of rock music gradually getting louder as I approached the front door. I grew up watching many live concerts, musical theatre, and just appreciating music in all of its aspects. She taught me to sit and listen to an entire record, and to this day, she still will pop a CD on and sit next to her stereo and listen to it... ALL. My entire family was really musical, so my older sister and I grew up playing instruments/singing and never thought twice about it. It was only when I would spend time at a friend's place, and they would play board games or never really computed until those moments with friends, that my home life was radically different.

4. You're from Melbourne, Australia, but now you're living in L.A. How crazy is that? Tell us a little bit about the two cities, from your perspective.

Moving from Melbourne to Los Angeles was a big decision. I had been over to L.A. to record twice previously, but soon realized I needed to BE THERE in order to shift my career into gear. Melbourne is great, and will always be home to me. It's a really European city full of great food, coffee, art, and industry. It's considered to be one of the greatest cities in the world to live. I agree, but for me, L.A. is more supportive of pop music and fashion. Both highly related industries. Most of my favourite artists are American, and many from California, so in retrospect, it was a natural move that I would end up here. As soon as I stepped foot here in L.A. and saw some live shows.... I knew this town was for me. So, essentially, one LONG flight, three suitcases and guitar, overweight baggage charges later, I landed at was all pretty sudden. But when I make up my mind about something, I move fast.

5. Finally, if I were to visit Melbourne for one day, where should I go? What should I see?

Oh, you should totally go to a to Flinders Street Station and watch across to the Yarra River. Take the free tram around the city circle. There are some (that go to) a city called St Kilda. It's on the beach and has great restaurants, shopping, and night life. Order a meal with Fresh Australian seafood like prawns, fish, or Moreton Bay Bugs (tastes between lobster and crawfish, but are native to Queensland, Australia). I would also recommend something really simple...just go to a local bakery and order a meat pie. There are great local bakeries everywhere! Meat pie, steak, and mushroom pie...shepherd's can't go wrong. It's simple, but something very Australian.

Please check out all of Katie’s websites for more info, shows, and music:

For more songs, click:
Katie Cole Songs

Jam of the Day | Justin Townes Earle and Dawn Landes - Do I Ever Cross Your Mind

There once was a time you could find Justin Townes Earle touring with his dad, Steve, sort of hanging in the background while Earle and The Dukes did their thing. I never thought much of him ever becoming an artist with such a creative vision that he has now. Of course, I had no idea what kind of talent the man had hiding under his sleeves.

This new tune from Justin, who has just been named by GQ Magazine as one of the 25 best dressed men of 2010, supports what I already knew for the past year: everything he touches turns to gold. This time, he's teamed up with the equally great Dawn Landes on a superb track called "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind."

Brighten your day and have a listen below.

Justin Townes Earle and Dawn Landes - Do I Ever Cross Your Mind

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Elizabeth & the Catapult Premiere "Race You" Video

Elizabeth & the Catapult has released the second single from their 2009 album, Taller Children. Today, the band premiered the video for that spunky song, "Race You." It's all about the joys of returning home.  Click here to watch! 

Want more? Check out Elizabeth & the Catapult's awesome Daytrotter session from last November.

Local Natives Are Coming...Soon!

I first stumbled upon Local Natives when that fantastic video of the guys covering Simon and Garfunkel's "Cecilia" went buzzing around the Interwebs. Even doing someone else's (very famous) stuff, the band adds its own unique spin and is easy to love. Since that first glimpse of the Silverlake, California five-piece, I've been eagerly anticipating the debut album, Gorilla Manor.

The band's been garnering hype for seemingly forever, with just about every music blog I read chomping at the bit for the new album. Songs such as "Sun Hands" and "Airplanes" have been posted a number of times to give fans a sampler platter to munch on before the 12-song smorgasbord officially comes out on February 16, 2010 on Frenchkiss Records. Yesterday, the guys relaunched their website (it's super weird and lovely), and they also announced that you can pre-order Gorilla Manor now. Check back often for acoustic versions of Gorilla Manor songs to be posted.

Until then, you can enjoy my personal favorite, "World News."
Local Natives - World News

Jam of the Day | April Smith and the Great Picture Show - Colors

I double dog dare you to not like this song.  It is too damn catchy to resist, at the very least, tapping your toes, or if you're like me, having a full blown one-woman dance party in the kitchen. It's got a Bourbon Street feel that makes me long for next month's Mardi Gras celebrations a little prematurely, and Smith's pristine voice echoes another favorite indie femme fatale of mine, Jenny Lewis.

"Colors" is a confident, sassy ode to a migrant lover. Smith articulates her affection well, but it's clear she's not going to miss out on any fun while the boyfriend is away. And that, I like.

April Smith and The Great Picture Show is currently touring with Langhorne Slim to promote Songs for a Sinking Ship, coming out on February 23, 2010. According to her bio, "The album’s sound was informed by the ’30s and ’40s, juke joints and cabaret, the Andrews Sisters and, of course, [Tom] Waits." She's a kaleidoscope o' fun.

April Smith and The Great Picture Show - Colors

Monday, January 25, 2010

"When the acts of man cause the ground to break open/ Oh, let me inside..."

Midlake, a band of Denton, Texas indie rockers, is prepped to release The Courage of Others on February 2, 2010 on Bella Union. Until then, the album is streaming it its entirety over at NPR. The single, "Acts of Man," is a somber rumination on man's troubled history with nature.  And, I think I hear a flute in there.

To get you ready for The Courage of Others, Midlake premiered this trailer for a short film, directed by Jason Lee (yes, of My Name is Earl).

The Tallest Man on Earth Announces New Album, 'The Wild Hunt'

Wow, the good news just keeps coming. For you Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man on Earth, fans who have been waiting patiently for news of his next LP, well, wait no more. His new record label, Dead Oceans, announced today that The Wild Hunt will be released on April 12, 2010, featuring "ten perfect songs." This follows his widely acclaimed debut, Shallow Grave, that gained momentum due to true grassroots efforts.

As the press release states, "It is impossible to discuss The Tallest Man on Earth’s music without acknowledging Bob Dylan. The seemingly effortlessness, the melodic sensibility and the deft lyricism all recall Dylan’s early years. But when you witness the Tallest Man on Earth perform live, you are watching a man possessed. The energy pours out with every word. Full of intensity and raw emotion, he paces the stage, bringing the audience into the palm of his hand, completely lost in his songs."

As I recently wrote, The Tallest Man sparks an energy in me that I cannot deny. I am so looking forward to his spring album. Until then, both you and I can enjoy the lead single, "King of Spain" and cross our fingers for a tour date near our hometowns.

Annie Stela (The Interview)

Photo credit: Pamela Littky

With the release of two EPs in 2009, Hard City and Little House, last year was a big year for L.A. singer-songwriter Annie Stela. I had heard about Stela’s music from a friend, who, after hearing "Heart," simply told me, “This girl’s got the goods.”

Well, my friend was right – not only does she have the goods, Stela is so honest with her songwriting that it’s hard not to become an immediate fan, which I soon did. And I’m probably the #1 fan of her video, “Clean It Up,” which you need to view/listen to right this second. Do it. Now.

Luckily, Stela has kept busy – 2010 will bring us another EP, this one titled The William. More on that below as she was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us over e-mail.

You released two EPs last year. What's The William EP going to be all about?

It's a covers EP, covering only songs written by artists named Bill, Billy, William or Willie, etc. Recording it was the most fun I've had in a long time. It was nice to forget about myself for a while and get into the heads of other artists.

The idea came about one night when I was at dinner with friends. We were talking about my love of Billy Joel, and then we started listing all of the great artists with the name William or some variation, and the idea grew from there. Truthfully, I would have recorded an entire album of William covers if I'd had the time. One day...

When you're writing a song, when do you know it is finished?

I'm actually an extremely impatient writer. I think my songs are finished way before they really are. :)

If a song takes more than one sitting to write, I start cussing at my piano. But over the years I've figured out how to force myself to sit and rework and make it the best it can be. The place where a song becomes difficult for me to finish is in the studio. Most of my songs that have been recorded still don't feel finished to me, especially vocally. There is always some note that could be better, or some way I could have gotten the emotion across more clearly.

What's the best and worst thing about being a songwriter in L.A.?

I think the best thing about being a songwriter here is also the worst: that there are so many other people writing songs around you. Sometimes it makes you feel buoyed up in an ocean of fellow strugglers, and other times it makes you feel swallowed up.

Let's pretend I've never heard your music. Where do I start? What's the ultimate Annie Stela mix?

Oh Christ. Okay. Let's try five songs:
"It's You" from Fool
"Breathe Through" from Fool
"Heart" from Hard City
"Swallowed Snakes" from Hard City
"Little House" from Little House
"Eyes without a Face" from The William EP. (You will have to wait a month or so for that.)

What was the last great concert you went to as a fan, and what did you take away from it?

Well, I have a cool answer, and a not so cool answer.

The best "cool" concert I went to recently was Bat for Lashes. She knocked me on my ass. There was so much originality there, and so much other-worldliness in her voice.

The best "not so cool" concert I went to was actually last year. Lady GaGa at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. This was before she hit it big and moved to bigger venues and lots of staging and sets. It was just her and two other dancers onstage, and she sang the entire time and danced the entire time. And obviously I'm a very different kind of artist, but I walked away very impressed. She believes whole-heartedly in herself and her music, and it comes off her in waves. You have to respect that. It makes you believe, too. And, really, isn't that the point?

"I'll just keep it to myself/ in the sun, in the sun..."

Photo credit: Taea Thale

She & Him fans of the world, rejoice! Last Friday, the indie superstar duo comprised of M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel released gobs of new information about its upcoming LP, new tour dates, and the lead single, "In the Sun," that features guest vocals from Tilly and the Wall. I think I'm going to crank some Hall & Oates in celebration.

Volume Two comes out on March 23, 2010 on Merge Records. The album features eleven original tracks and two covers: “Ridin’ In My Car” by NRBQ and Skeeter Davis’s ”Gonna Get Along Without You Now." You can pre-order the album now and download "In the Sun" below.

She & Him - In the Sun

Pajammy Jam of the Day | Ryan Adams - Unreleased

While we're all waiting to see if Mr. Adams is going to unveil any new material in 2010, I recently remembered this unreleased live cut. I don't believe it has a title, and I'm pretty sure this is the only time he's ever played it, so if you haven't heard it yet, well, Happy Monday to you.

Yes, it's repetitive. Yes, it's pretty raw. And yes, you can't really see him in this grainy video. But, like Ryan sings, "Whatever, I'm happy."

Here you go.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Finds

First Listen: Beach House, Teen Dream (NPR)
Jay-Z and U2, Plus Springsteen and 100-Plus Stars Join MTV's Haiti Benefit (Rolling Stone)
Gorillaz Announce New Album Details, Guests, and Release Date (NME)
Local Natives: The You Ain't No Picasso Interview (You Ain't No Picasso)
Listen to the new Patty Griffin album, Downtown Church (NPR)
Neil Young to play Conan's finale on Friday (TwentyFourBit)
Radiohead Announce Haiti Benefit Show in Los Angeles (Rolling Stone)
Help Haiti by purchasing a live Jill Andrews album (Jill Andrews)

Jam of the Day | Aloha - Moonless March

Photo credit: Shawn Brackbill

How Aloha's "Moonless March" manages to combine ethereal lyrics of moons and stars with an existential point of view, I'll never know. But, this track off the upcoming Home Acres album is at once hopeful ("And every sundown, we will pour a drink in celebration of this moonless march...") and world-weary ("Everyone's eyes, they are bracing for the fight...")  

Frankly, it's easy to be drawn into the song's driving drumbeat and completely overlook the poignancy of Aloha's poetry. But, what these guys have really done is created a song that's like one of those fantastic two-for-one deals.  "Moonless March" is a song to fit every mood, every upswing or downturn. It just depends how you choose to hear it.  

With about a minute and a half left, the song morphs into the type of prog rock for which Aloha is known. Talk about a two-for-one deal. This song just can't stop giving.   
Aloha will release its fifth LP, Home Acres, on March 9, 2010 on Polyvinyl Records. You can pre-order the album now.

Aloha - Moonless March

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The White Stripes Set to Release Live Album + Documentary 'Under Great White Northern Lights'

On March 16, 2010, The White Stripes will release its first ever live album titled Under Great White Northern Lights. The effort features 16 songs recorded at a bevy of Canadian venues, all in an effort for the duo to complete the mission of performing in every province and territory in our neighbor to the north. Goal attained.

Track Listing:
1. Let’s Shake Hands
2. Black Math
3. Little Ghost
4. Blue Orchid
5. The Union Forever
6. Ball and Biscuit
7. Icky Thump
8. I’m Slowly Turning Into You
9. Jolene
10. 300 MPH Torrential Outpour Blues
11. We Are Going to Be Friends
12. I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself
13. Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn
14. Fell In Love With a Girl
15. When I Hear My Name
16. Seven Nation Army

Accompanying the live album is a documentary of the same name, directed by Emmett Malloy. It guarantees "a fascinating look into the on and off stage lives of one of the world’s most enigmatic bands." The film captures salient concert footage at traditional venues and unconventional locales (a bowling alley, a city bus, etc.), on top of piercing personal moments and highlights of the rich Canadian culture.

Under Great White Northern Lights is a fabulous celebration of a band that's melted our faces off with brilliantly innovative rock 'n' roll for the last ten years.  A limited edition box set that includes both the live album and documentary plus lots of other special treats is available for pre-order now.

Watch the trailer:

"At this moment/ no one's putting me down into the ground..."

Fyfe Dangerfield has one of the coolest names I've ever heard, and he's not even a professional baseball player.  The Guillemots frontman is getting all kinds of love in the U.K. for his awesome solo debut, Fly Yellow Moon, and it's time that our American asses start showering him with adoration, as well.  This album is a collection of mostly gorgeous singer-songwriter fare, but the lead track "When You Walk in the Room" is plain, poppy fun, start to finish.

I love that this song is a celebration of a singular, happy moment, and Dangerfield seems content to not question its existence or yearn for anything more.  He sings, "At this moment, no one's putting me down into the ground."  And, of course, he's in love.

Fly Yellow Moon is out this spring in the States.

Fyfe Dangerfield - When You Walk in The Room

If you like that track, stream the Monarchy Remix of "She Needs Me" below (thanks, RCRD LBL)!

Courtney Jaye (The Interview)

Ashamedly, two weeks ago, I hadn't heard of Courtney Jaye's music.  I know, I suck.

However, I recently read a blurb on Pitchfork about her cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain's "Sometimes Always" (one of my favorite songs of all time...yes, of ALL TIME) with Band of Horses' Ben Bridwell, hopped on over to her MySpace to listen, and declared my love for her on our Strangers Almanac page.  You know what they say...when you know, you know.

Proving how fantastic of a gal she is, Courtney sent a "thanks for the mention" e-mail, and I then jumped on the opportunity to pick her brain about her Hawaiian ties, famous fans, and upcoming tour dates.

The Exotic Sounds of Courtney Jaye is out now on iTunes.  Run, don't walk!  Or just click really fast.  And please enjoy this interview.

Courtney Jaye - Tiger's Eye

Your new album is such a unique blend of Hawaiian and country music. I've really never heard anyone else come close to this. How did you cultivate such an innovative sound?

The sound came about about years of searching... I lived on Kauai, Hawaii twelve years ago, and when I left the islands to pursue music full time on the mainland, it became apparent to me how profoundly affected I had been by traditional Hawaiian music. Only to fully realize upon moving back to the South, that the old-school Hawaiian music I loved, was truly just an extension of Country, Jazz, and Western Swing, but with earthy, exotic instrumentation. It only seemed natural that the two could come together in a cool and innovative way, but at that time I was really young and just getting started learning about the craft of songwriting and performing. It took me having to go through a hellacious major label experience that ended in 2005 to really ask myself what exactly I wanted to make of my music career. I tried a couple of independent projects in-between but still wasn't totally satisfied.

At a certain point I remember feeling so frustrated, like I was being tortured or something. I could hear the sound in the back of my head, but it could never translate to tape and be recorded as I was hearing it. Nor did I meet or work with people that supported my vision wholeheartedly. In fact, I'm pretty sure quite a number of people along the way thought I was downright crazy for wanting to make a Hawaiian Country record. It was upon my moving to Nashville in 2007 that I met the incredible Thad Cockrell and told him of the sound that had been in my head all these years, and he really was the catalyst. He supported, urged, and encouraged me to explore it, and then we started writing songs together. In fact, most of the songs that we wrote at that time are on this record.

He then introduced me to the musical genius of Seth Kauffman, a multi-instrumentalist from Black Mountain, North Carolina. That is when I knew I had found the person that could help me get exact sounds and production that I had been searching for all those years. It was like the clouds parted and something in my gut just spoke to me loud and clear, and we went for it.

You have collaborated with so many of my favorite artists including Tift Merritt, Gary Louris (The Jayhawks), and Band of Horses. Who is someone you'd love to work with down the road?

I recently met and have received alot of advice and encouragement from M. Ward, and I would say that he is at the top of my list of people that I would like to work with in some capacity at some point in the future. I would also love to work with Jim James and Bill Callahan.

Speaking of Band of Horses, you duet with Ben Bridwell on the new record, covering The Jesus and Mary Chain's "Sometimes Always." You guys really make the song your own. How did this collaboration come about?

The collaboration came about through the lovely Bill Reynolds (bassist for BOH). Bill had stepped in and sort of saved my record when Seth and I came up against some rather mounting technical difficulties, recording my vocals at his home studio in Black Mountain, NC. Bill is an amazing producer/engineer in his own right, so we sent him some of the tunes we had recorded to get his opinion as to what we were technically doing wrong. He heard the music, then offered to record my vocals at Echo Mountain Studio's in Asheville the following weekend, on a break from touring with BOH. He then had to go to Charleston to rehearse with the band a few days later, but Seth and I ended up staying in Asheville at Echo to rough mix with Danny Kadar. We were sending Bill our rough mixes as we went, and from what I understand, he played them for the rest of the band in Charleston at that time. I think it was a few weeks later that he called to tell me that Ben heard the music and they had discussed the idea of us doing a duet together for the record. Ben and I then started sending song ideas back and forth until we mutually agreed upon "Sometimes Always." A few months later, they happened to come through Nashville on tour, and that's when we recorded the track.

You've got a lot of famous fans including Zach Galifianakis, Nathan Followill (Kings of Leon) and Neal Casal (The Cardinals). Do you feel as though the music industry has welcomed you with open arms, or has it been a tough road to go?

I don't want to sound ungrateful or 'woe-is-me' at all, but the truth is that it has been a rather tough road in moments. My first record deal and everything that came along with it was a complete disaster. I was put into the machine, chewed up, and spit out. Typical story...but the truth is, I was young, and it was not an honest record. I was still learning about myself and about the craft. I know where my mistakes were made and take full responsibility for them. But, I actually look back at it as a very important part of my growth and/or evolution as an artist. I did find that a lot of people cast me off, especially once I got dropped.

Even to this day, some people still have the wrong impression of who I am as an artist. And once people have an opinion of you, they hold that opinion, even if it's not the truth, or even if it was half a decade ago. There's nothing I can do about that, but that was one reason why I took so many years away from the business to develop and cultivate a sound that was truly honest and unique to me and a sound that no label person could mess with or alter in any way, shape, or form. Sort of saying to the people in the music business: "Either you get what I am doing musically, or you don't. If you get it, great! If you don't... See ya later."

It has only been since I have come into my own with a more honest message and authentic sound that people have gravitated to it, offering their support. Mostly because a lot of them know what I had to go through to arrive here. So to now feel the open arms and support from all of these incredibly talented people, that I too admire and respect, is truly lovely, but most importantly is the gentle confirmation that after years of searching, I'm finally in the right place.

Lastly, any plans to tour this year?

Yes! I am hoping to be out on the road by the time spring/summer rolls around. There's a couple of fun things in the works that I can't quite talk about yet, but if all goes according to the plan, I will be out there soon enough!

Franz Nicolay Leaves The Hold Steady

In a developing story, Franz Nicolay has decided to leave The Hold Steady, according to a post on his website.

We'll let his post do the talking:

"You should know: I've left The Hold Steady. I told the band I'd be leaving in early September, played my last show with them in Minneapolis around Thanksgiving, and dotted the t's and crossed the i's this week. Five years seemed like a nice round number. Thanks to everyone who was a part of the experience, especially the Unified Scene, who are nice folks. I'll see you all soon in any case."

Jam of the Day | Backyard Tire Fire - Everybody's Down

When your band name is Backyard Tire Fire, there better be a party going down. And usually with BTF's music, there is a hell of a throwdown. But for today's JOTD, I'm going to kick it back just a notch with "Everybody's Down," because, well, people just seem to be down these days. Not to bum you out or anything.

BTF will be releasing a new album in 2010, and I'll be sure to talk about that in the next few weeks. But for now, let's simply sit back and enjoy a fine track from 2008's The Places We Lived. It's a cool jam, I promise.

Backyard Tire Fire - Everybody's Down

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Massive Attack Unveils "Girl I Love You" Remix

Last Friday, Massive Attack premiered the Tim Goldsworthy remix of "Pray for Rain" (featuring Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio and originally on the October EP, Splitting the Atom).  Today, the duo debuts the remix of "Girl I Love You (She is Danger)" featuring Horace Andy. All of this excitement is in preparation of the upcoming fifth full-length Massive Attack album, Heligoland, set for release on February 9, 2010 on Virgin Records.

Stream "Girl I Love You" here and head over to RCRD LBL to download.  You know you wanna.

New Cold War Kids Video

Cold War Kids debut the video for the Behave Yourself EP's groovy single, "Audience," today. Check it out below or over at Spinner.

On top of the new video, you might wanna take a look at Current Music Embedded's feature on the band as they "perform at a Lake Tahoe casino, battle their own immune systems and show off their home base studio in Long Beach, California."

Pajammy Jam of the Day | Seabear - Lion Face Boy

The fantastical lead single from Seabear's sophomore album, We Built a Fire, features percussion sprinkled like fairy dust amidst soaring brass and cheerful violins. Frankly, the fact that it was recorded in an Icelandic basement studio with apple carton-covered walls makes me love it even more. How can something so otherworldly, in actuality, be so grounded?

The septet's storybook take on indie folk reminds me of my childhood: simplistic and playful. Yet, Seabear boasts very complex instrumentation.  It takes finesse and restraint to make multi-layered music sound this...easy. Color me impressed.

I'm very much looking forward to the collective's upcoming release. We Built a Fire will be out in March 2010 on Morr Music.

Seabear - Lion Face Boy

Cowboy Junkies to Release Four Albums in 2010

It's been three years since the Cowboy Junkies gave us a new studio album (their last was the fabulous At the End of Paths Taken). And it appears they are going to make up for lost time in 2010 with the upcoming release of four albums worth of music, according to the band's post on Facebook.

In their own words, the plan is "crazy…to be sure…but what’s the point if you can’t be a little crazy once in a while?" Amen.

The first disc by these crazy Canadians should be available at their March shows (see full tour schedule below).

In the meantime, let's revisit a tune off At the End of Paths Taken.

Cowboy Junkies - Still Lost

2010 Tour Dates:
03/18/10 Saugatuck, MI, Saugatuck Center for the Arts
03/19/10 Chicago, IL, Old Town School of Folk Mic
03/20/10 St Cloud, MN, Paramount Theatre
03/21/10 Mneapolis, MN, Dakota Jazz Club
03/24/10 Davenport, IA, Redstone Room
03/25/10 Milwaukee, WI, Turner Hall Ballroom
03/26/10 Madison, WI, Majestic Theatre
04/15/10 Buffalo, NY, Asbury Hall at Babeville
04/16/10 Brownfield, ME, Stone Mounta Arts Center
04/17/10 Rockland, ME, Strand Theatre
04/18/10 Somerville, MA, Somerville Theater
04/20/10 Syrace, NY, Westcott Theatre
04/21/10 Bayshore, NY, Boulton Center for the Performg Arts
04/22/10 New York, NY, The Concert Hall at NYSEC
04/23/10 Falls Church, VA, The State Theatre
04/24/10 Philadelphia, PA, World Café Live
05/14/10 Ridgefield, CT, Ridgefield Playhoe
05/15/10 Great Barrgton, MA, The Mahaiwe Theatre

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Brandi Carlile | Live in Denver

Well, well, well. I've seen Brandi Carlile perform twice now, and she's hit a towering home run both times. Out of the galaxy. No questions asked, except: Is Ms. Carlile from another planet?

There isn't much she can't do. Her performance in Denver at the Paramount had a little bit of everything going for it -- there were solo performances ("That Year"), rockers ("Looking Out," "The Story"), acoustic ballads with the band ("I Will"), surprise guests (a duet with Gregory Alan Isakov -- Bob Dylan's "You Belong To Me"), another Dylan cover ("The Times They Are A-Changin'"), two Johnny Cash tunes ("Jackson," "Folsom Prison Blues"), a crowd sing-a-long ("Turpentine"), and a literally unplugged bombshell ("Dying Day"). Yes, this all happened in one show.

Here's a taste of the unplugged greatness that I took with my camera:

Cool, right? The total confidence and energy Carlile creates on stage is that of a grizzly veteran. She is 28. Go figure.

As if she just had to amaze more, Carlile strapped on her electric for "The Story," and gave us this:

Still not satisfied? How about the show closer, "Pride and Joy?"

Sprint, don't walk, to see Brandi Carlile the next time she hits your town.

2010 Tour Dates:
January 19, Slowdown, Omaha, Nebraska
January 20, Hoyt Sherman, Des Moines, Iowa
January 21, Pabst, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
January 22, Bomhard Theatre, Louisville, Kentucky
January 23, Intersection, Grand Rapids, Michigan
January 25, Mr Smalls, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
January 26, The State Theater, State College, Pennsylvania
January 28, The Westcott Theater, Syracuse, New York
January 29, Higher Ground, Burlington, Vermont
January 30, Colonial Theatre, Keene, New Hampshire
January 31, Music Hall, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
February 3, Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, Connecticut
February 4, Hart Theatre at the Egg, Albany, New York
February 5, Pollak Theatre, West Long Branch, New Jersey
February 6, Wellmont Theatre, Montclair, New Jersey
February 9, Orange Peel, Asheville, North Carolina
February 10, Bijou Theatre, Knoxville, Tennessee
February 11, Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, North Carolina
February 15, McGlohon Theater, Charlotte, North Carolina
February 16, James K. Polk Theater, Nashville, Tennessee
February 17, Melting Point, Athens, Georgia
February 18, Capitol Theatre, Clearwater, Florida
February 20, Culture Room, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
February 21-26, Cayamo Cruise, Miami, Florida
February 27, House of Blues, Orlando, Florida (w/ The Indigo Girls)
March 1, The Moon, Tallahassee, Florida (w/The Indigo Girls)
March 2, Al Saenger Theatre, Mobile, Alabama (w/ The Indigo Girls)
March 4, House of Blues, New Orleans, Louisiana
March 5, Cypress Blues Casino, Charenton, Louisiana
March 6, Hogg Memorial Auditorium, Austin, Texas
March 7, House of Blues, Dallas, Texas
March 8, Floore's Country Store, Helotes, Texas
March 11, House of Blues, San Diego, California
March 12, House of Blues, Anaheim, California
March 13, Mystic Theatre, Petaluma, Californina
March 15, Knitting Factory, Reno, Nevada
March 17, Tower Theatre, Bend, Oregon
March 18, Tower Theatre, Bend, Oregon
March 19, Mount Baker Theatre, Bellingham, Washington

Jam of the Day | Katie Herzig - Sweeter Than This

So, thanks to MLK, it's probably your first day at work this week. That's why today's JOTD is a sweet tune, aptly titled "Sweeter Than This," by the lovely Kate Herzig. Herzig is an artist based out of Nashville who I just came across recently, and she's got the goods to brighten your day.

Herzig's last album, Apple Tree, is full of soft, pick-me-up tunes that are perfect for a cool spring day. And while it's still winter, we can pretend, right? Like Herzig sings, "If it gets any sweeter than this, I don't want to know." Well, winter still has its hold on me, but I don't want to know how long it will last. Instead, I'll listen to Kate Herzig.

Katie Herzig - Sweeter Than This

My Brightest Diamond Celebrates 'Remixes' with NYC Concert

Photo credit: Matt Wignall

Shara Worden, singer, songwriter, arranger, and "general mastermind" of indie rock's My Brightest Diamond (Worden, Brian Wolfe, and Nathan Lithgow) will celebrate the upcoming Shark Remixes with a concert at the Bowery Ballroom on January 22, 2010.  The new album revisits the band's 2008 effort, A Thousand Shark's Teeth, by re-imagining the songs in innovative and deconstructed ways.

Copies of the remix album will be available at the concert before its official release on January 26, 2010 online release.

Monday, January 18, 2010

"If you're movin' out to the west/ then you'd better learn how to surf..."

I've been to West Palm Beach. And let me just say that my impression of West Palm Beach is diametrically opposed to anything having to do with indie rock. Maybe that's because I was hanging out with my parents the entire time I was there. Regardless, I was surprised to find out that a) there's a band that calls WPB home, and b) I like this band.

The guys in Surfer Blood don't actually surf, but they do make fantastic sunshine-pop, a beachside cocktail blended with waves of reverb, lighthearted lyrics, and direct nods to The Beach Boys.

Surfer Blood - Floating Vibes

If you like "Floating Vibes," hop on over to HearYa to try out "Swim (To Reach the End)."  Astro Coast comes out tomorrow, January 19, 2010, on Kanine Records.

Jam of the Day | matt pond PA - Starting

Photo credit: Jeremy Balderson

I've been dying for some new matt pond PA, I have to say. Good news! After a period of time spent in isolation in Bearsville, New York (God, I hope secluded cabin-inducing epiphanies don't quickly become a musical cliché), the band is prepped to release The Dark Leaves in March 2010 on Altitude Records.  

The first single, "Starting," is really perfect for this brand new year. This song emotes the essence of really
living which is entirely different from merely existing. Unlock the chains you've willingly placed on yourself, light a fire, color outside of the lines... If you're looking for a fresh start, a second (or fourteenth chance), you "could start tonight..."  

We could start tonight

Slide back the deadbolts
Let the pictures down
They hold no life
And if you've got some faith
Then you are faithful
You fall down on your face
You got a face-full

We could start tonight

Pull down the plastic
Light the gasoline
Erase the lines
If you want to live
Then go on living
If you want to give
You gotta get it right

Matt Pond PA - Starting

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Finds

Q&A with MGMT's Andrew Vanwyngarden (SPIN)
M.I.A. Unveils New Track Via Twitter (Spinner)
The xx's Guest List (Pitchfork)
Patti LaBelle Remembers Teddy Pendergrass (EW)
The Mother Hips Live Session (HearYa)
Jay Reatard Dies at 29 (TwentyFourBit)
A Mind Blowingly Awesome Swedish Mix (Music vs. Misery)
Ryan Bingham Takes "The Weary Kind" to Letterman (The Audio Perv)
The Rosebuds Hit Daytrotter (Daytrotter)

The Low Anthem Takes "Charlie Darwin" to Letterman

Last week, our post on The Low Anthem detailed the band's work on a new album in a pasta sauce factory, lead singer Ben Knox Miller's upcoming Sunday radio show on WOXY, and the band's huge influence in making Charlie Darwin the star of the indie music genre that he is today.

This week, The Low Anthem announced new U.S. headlining tour dates, and last night it made its U.S. television debut on The Late Show with David Letterman, performing "Charlie Darwin."

Check out the official video for "Charlie Darwin" and its amazing stop-motion animation:

Check out The Low Anthem's television debut (thanks, Audio Perv!)

Jam of the Day | Brendan Benson - A Whole Lot Better

Ah, the art of changing one's mind. For Brendan Benson, the ex-Raconteur, he may like to do it a little too much. But then again, if it gives us a great song, who am I to complain? Wait, did I just change my mind? Blah.

"A Whole Lot Better" is the lead track on Benson's last album, My Old, Familiar Friend. There's a little bit of everything going on in this jam; my favorite part is near the end, where he falls in love, out of love, and back in love...all in the same day. Whew. Have a listen, and have a great weekend.

Brendan Benson - A Whole Lot Better

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Kissaway Trail (The Interview)

Last week, we posted that The Kissaway Trail is set to release Sleep Mountain, the band's second full-length album on April 6, 2010.  Now, we're excited to present the first in a series of Speakers in Code interviews with artists we absolutely adore.  The guys in The Kissaway Trail talk about the band's unique moniker, Neil Young, and favorite movies.

So, every time I type "The Kissaway Trail" on my computer, my automatic spellcheck tells me that "Kissaway" isn't a real word. How did you guys come up with the band's name?

We needed to change our band name in 2006, so we asked our friends for help and the guy who has done our artwork came up with The Kissaway Trail. We thought it sounded and looked cool. It's romantic, pompous, dark, and beautiful at the same time. Matched our music and personalities. That's the short version.

I read that you had an entirely different album almost complete before you trashed it to start over and create what is now Sleep Mountain. Why the do-over?

We weren't satisfied. Everything about the recording sessions and the time before that felt wrong. We had lost the spark and almost decided to stop as a band. Before it all went downhill, we managed to find out what the problem was... [Then], we went back to our hometown and recorded the album in two weeks. We lost a lot of money and had to stop working with some of our business partners. But we've become a much stronger and happier band.

Sleep Mountain features 11 originals and a cover of Neil Young's "Philadelphia" from the '93 film. How did you select this song?

Thomas: It's a song that I forgot, and it suddenly appeared to me while writing songs for the album. I had a girlfriend when I was fourteen. She lived on a little island called Langeland. She had this soundtrack with this song that just made me feel happy and sad at the same time. In 2008, I watched the movie and found out it was Neil Young. The song still touched me in a way I can't explain. When I talked to Neil Young fans, they never heard of the song, and I decided to make my own version and crossed my fingers that it would make it on to the album 'cause the song deserves to be heard.

Speaking of movies, if you could write an original song for any film in existence, what would it be and why?

Thomas: I'm inspired by the music in Edward Scissorhands and Cal. The soundtrack for Cal was a record my dad was playing frequently when I was a child. So I think it would be Cal. I've always wanted to make music for movies, so I hope it would be a reality in the near future.

Søren: For me it would be Twin Peaks...there is just something about it. It's so mysterious and dark. A lot of the soundtrack touches me deep inside, and I really like to listen to melancholy music. It's my passion in music. My girlfriend has it on vinyl, and I often enjoy listening to it. I really like when I can hear the dust particles through the quiet parts of the makes it even more mysterious...

SXSW marks your return to the States. What bands are you most looking forward to seeing at the festival?

Søren: I don't know many of the performing acts except for the Danish bands, so I will use the opportunity to explore new and interesting bands. But, I'll definitely go see Midlake and The Low Frequency In Stereo.