Friday, April 30, 2010

Stream the New Dead Weather Album, 'Sea of Cowards'

Analog is going digital! Tune into Screaming Vinyl Live to listen to The Dead Weather's Sea of Cowards on vinyl for twenty-four hours. Via a live camera and audio stream, surprise guest DJs will preview the album that comes out officially on May 11, 2010 on Third Man Records.
Online video chat by Ustream

Carrie Rodriguez (The Interview)

Austin-based singer-songwriter-fiddler Carrie Rodriguez has dazzled us over the years with her varying talents, all of which, in the way that she delivers them, can be described as uncommon. You probably know her best for her fiddle, or her work with Chip Taylor or Alejandro Escovedo. But whatever the landscape, it's usually not all about Rodriguez herself; she's not one to chase the spotlight.

And her new album, Love & Circumstance, a collection of 12 cover songs by artists like Lucinda Williams, Townes Van Zandt, Hank Williams, and Richard Thompson, continues Rodriguez's pattern of letting us in on what has inspired her over the years. Once again, it's her voice I can't stop listening to.

If you're not familiar with Rodriguez's work, Love & Circumstance, which was released on April 13th, is a wonderful place to start. It's warm and striking. And it's as real of a collection of tunes that you'll find. Please don't let this one slip past your ears.

We recently had a chance to catch up with Carrie over e-mail before her tour that begins again in May.

1. Take us through the recording process of Love & Circumstance. What was the most difficult thing about settling on these 12 songs?

Lee Townsend (the kick ass producer that worked with me on this project) and I did plenty of agonizing over which tunes to include, but in the end I think the songs decided for themselves. The ones that made it to the record were the ones that came the most naturally for me to sing and play. In fact, I feel so connected to this group of tunes, that sometimes I forget that I didn't write them. :)

2. Lucinda Williams' "Steal Your Love" has always been a favorite of mine, and your version is striking. Can you talk a little bit about what that song means to you?

"Did they lay down a law, and lock up your heart? I'm gonna have to steal your love"...the first line of that tune is so gorgeous. It immediately draws you in to a place where most of us have probably been. Frustrated by your partner's (or who you wish was your partner's) wall they've put up...and hellbent on getting past it.

How many love songs do you know that include knives, drugs, and guns? Lucinda is the coolest.

3. What's it like to hear someone like Richard Thompson call your cover of "Waltzing's For Dreamers" "heartfelt and impassioned?"

An honor and a relief! My worst fear is that I don't do one of these precious tunes justice...

4. Tell us a little bit about your upcoming tour. What can fans expect of these shows?

Our May tour starts in Minnesota and winds around the Midwest. I've got the full band out with me: elec and acoustic guitar, pedal steel guitar, upright bass, and drums. Our stage set up looks like a music store. Lots of instruments and fancy pedal boards....The sound is big and rockin', but we usually break things down in the middle of the set and do a few intimate numbers.

5. Finally, your advice for any artist out there who is thinking about recording a covers album?

My advice is to choose the songs closest to your heart, then spend a lot of alone time with them. I didn't listen to the original recordings of these tunes for about a year leading up to recording the album...That way the songs have a chance to evolve into something that is more your own.

Carrie Rodriguez tour dates can be found here.

Five New(ish) Albums You Should Own – But Don’t

Buke and Gass - +/-
Buke and Gass make music on homemade instruments that individually explore minimalist but sonic pallets. The handful of tracks that make up +/- are filled with asymmetrical transitions that could easily have any listener imagining another three or four songs within each one, yet the overall flavor presented requires each little piece remain intact.

Inlets – Inter Arbiter
A worrier, childhood choir member and unfocused student of many instruments, Inlets' Sebastian Krueger marries the darker ornaments of baroque pop with lo-fi intimacy. Inter Arbiter, his first full length, includes help from friends like Beirut front man Zach Condon, Dirty Projector's vocalist Angel Deradoorian, as well as cellist Maria Jeffers and violist Marla Hansen.

Radio Dept. – Clinging to a Scheme
The Radio Dept.'s Clinging to a Scheme is without doubt this year's most eagerly anticipated Swedish indie pop album. It's been four long years, but give it one listen and you'll know it's been worth every second. Clinging to a Scheme combines the best components from their previous albums with soul guitars, P-funk, cut/paste-beats and '70s futuristic orchestra sounds.

Frog Eyes – Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph
Three years in the making, Paul's Tomb: A Triumph marks Frog Eyes' thunderous, frantic, fiery return. This is a slow-brewed masterpiece that that illustrates how they just keep getting better and better. Frog Eyes are equally informed by Scott Walker and Roxy Music, Nuggets collections and the Everly Brothers.

The Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt
The words. The voice. The melodies. Ten perfect songs. The Wild Hunt picks up where 2008's Shallow Grave left off, with Kristian Matsson doing what he does best. It is unmistakably The Tallest Man on Earth, from the urgent strums of "You're Going Back" and the sweet melodies of "Love Is All," to the playful lyricism of "King of Spain" and the subtle hook on "Burden of Tomorrow."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Neil Young Recording New Album With Producer Daniel Lanois is reporting that Neil Young's next album will be produced by Daniel Lanois, a surefire dream pairing that will most likely result in a "very heartfelt record," according to David Crosby.

Lanois produced Emmylou Harris' breakthrough album, Wrecking Ball, which was named after one of Young's songs.

As you might know, Young is set to embark on a solo-acoustic tour this summer with folk legend Bert Jansch. If you're near a show, I can't emphasize this enough: stop what you're doing, buy a ticket, and simply go. Don't complain about ticket prices. Just go. Neil Young is the best solo-acoustic performer I have ever seen, and he hasn't toured solo in the U.S. since 1999.

Just ask David Crosby, who told this to

He does that [solo acoustic] thing probably better than anybody. One of my most favorite concerts of his was him at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. He had a circle of his guitars around him and a chair, and he walked out there and sang. It was mesmerizing. He's a fantastic musician, but also a great storyteller. I was standing there in the wings with Bob Dylan. He and I are huge Neil fans, and we didn't move. We stood there the entire concert and just watched. We were as mesmerized as much as the audience was.

Neil Young Tour Dates:

May 18 Albany, NY Palace Theatre
May 19 Buffalo, NY Shea's Performing Arts Center
May 21 Worcester, MA The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts
May 23 Wallingford, CT The Oakdale Theatre
May 24 Washington, DC DAR Constitution Hall
May 26 Louisville, KY Louisville Palace Theatre
May 27 Knoxville, TN Knoxville Auditorium & Coliseum
May 29 Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre
May 30 Spartanburg, SC Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium
June 1 - 2 Nashville, TN Ryman Auditorium
June 4 Houston, TX Jones Hall for the Performing Arts
June 5 Austin, TX Bass Performance Hall
June 7 Dallas, TX Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center

New Pete Francis Video for "Love Shakes You Down"

New York City singer-songwriter, Pete Francis, is set to release his next album, The Movie We Are In, next month, but two great songs from the album await your ears. The second single from the album, "Love Shakes You Down" is also accompanied by a wonderfully animated video, drawn by artist Micah Player (who also designed the new Francis website). The artwork is retro and adorable (in a totally manly way). Check it.

Listen to first single, "Glue":

Check out the new video for "Love Shakes You Down":

The Mynabirds Offer Up "Let the Record Go," Announce Tour

In honor of The Mynabirds' debut album release, the band has offered up another track off of What We Lose in the Fire, We Gain in the Flood to follow the fabulous, blue-eyed soul jam "Numbers Don't Lie." This time it's a frenzied carousel number ending with an ex-lover booted from the ride.

The Mynabirds - Let the Record Go

What We Lose in the Fire, We Gain in the Flood came out April 27, 2010. For a limited time, you can stream the entire album on the Saddle Creek website. Try before you buy!

Tour Dates:

* = with Josh Ritter
4/30: Des Moines, IA, Vaudeville Mews
5/1: Omaha, NE, Slowdown
5/7: Minneapolis, MN, Cedar Cultural Center
6/1: Cleveland, OH, Beachland Tavern
6/2: Washington, DC, Black Cat
6/3: Brooklyn, NY, The Bell House
6/6: Chicago, IL, Do Division Festival
6/7: Chicago, IL, Empty Bottle
6/8: Iowa City, IA, The Mill
6/11: Birmingham, AL, WorkPlay Theatre*
6/12: Baton Rouge, LA, Manship Theatre*
6/14: Austin, TX, Antone's*
6/15: Dallas, TX, Granada*

Jam of the Day | Fang Island - Daisy

I like to run to Fang Island. I don't care if that sounds odd. I like to strap on the ole' iPod, go running to a post-rock band and imagine that my steps are somehow the catalyst for the time-signature changes, awesome guitar solos, and vocal harmonies that would make The Beach Boys up their game. It's not my typical exercise music, that's for sure, but somehow it keeps my attention off what I'm doing enough to keep me sane, but it doesn't blow my mind enough to send me sprawling into a pine tree.

"Daisy" is an incredibly complex, explosion of a song that teeters on the bounds of musical excess, but is composed in a way that never takes you far enough to become manic the way that some other similar bands challenge their listeners. And maybe it's their melodies and guitar chops that drive things enough to stay completely kickass through the entire song.

For me - it succeeds where other bands like Animal Collective fail. It's awesome without trying to be more awesome than it actually is. It's complex without asking their listeners to hate it on the first hundred listens. Actually, maybe that's it. It's accessible and dense at the same time - meaning that there is a musical dexterity here that few bands can really pull off.

So give it a listen. And if you run, lace up that sweet pair of waffles and run your ass off. Just know how much cooler you are than those other jackasses who are rocking Britney down the trail.

Fang Island - Daisy

Check Out the New Interpol Song "Lights!"

Oh, holy crap, Interpol just did something pretty cool. The below email recently hit inboxes:

Hello everyone.
We're stirring.
Please take a moment to visit our website:
We want to show you something.
And make sure you come back soon.
We will be posting important information and dates in the coming weeks.
Thank you.

This was followed by the below widget, which will score you the new song "Lights" if you fork over your birthday and email address. Well worth it in my opinion - the world is always in need of another gloomy and brooding tune.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Over The Rhine To Record New Album; You Can Help

We all have bands we believe in with all our hearts. Over the Rhine is that kind of band for me. Since 2001, I've purchased all their albums, attended many of their concerts, and encouraged many of my friends to listen to their songs like "Latter Days" and "Spark."

Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine will soon be recording the follow-up to 2007's The Trumpet Child, with Joe Henry producing. It will be released via their own label, Great Speckled Dog, which they 100% own. Sounds great, right?

Well, they need your help.

I'll leave it to Linford Detweiler to explain:

Our first chapter with our very own Great Speckled Dog Records was the release of The Trumpet Child and Snow Angels. We learned a lot. Thanks to you, those projects supported us, and our touring ensemble, for almost 3 years. The Trumpet Child is on pace to eventually out sell any record released on our behalf by a label in the last 20 years. It has been a rare blessing, to see the audience for our music continue to steadily grow.

But now we find ourselves very much at the end of an album cycle winding down. It's time for the next step. It's time for a new Over the Rhine record.

Friends, the good news is this:

In 2010, there is no middleman.

It's just us and you.

So, for the first time in our career, we are simply going to appeal directly to you, the people who care about Over the Rhine's music, and ask if you will partner directly with us in making this new record.

We have a little less than four weeks to raise the money. It's an ambitious step for us, but it feels right.

Whatever funds we are able to raise will go directly to our label, Great Speckled Dog, to help take care of this new music we will make. It will be used to help cover actual recording costs, and give the songs the best send-off into the world that we can afford. (We do plan to see the record distributed nationally and internationally.)

Close friends are always surprised when we begin to tally the costs involved in getting an Over the Rhine record recorded and out the door. We'll spare you a full report, but generating a well-made thing - it does add up.

If you're willing to help us make this record, we will offer our gratitude in all sorts of ways. (We're not asking for something for nothing. We had a little fun and came up with a whole range of options you can grin at.)

Click here to see how you can help Over the Rhine make their next record!

Pajammy Jam of the Day | A Weather - No Big Hope

I suppose when you're having a bad day, or even a bad month, you try to think about how all the ways life could still be as good as you want it to be. Because if you don't have hope in life, you don't have much.

I've been in healing mode for the past few months. I have good days. I have really bad days. I have days when I'm pretty sure I've got it all figured out. And then I have days that are iced with deep regret.

And then...then I'll hear a song like A Weather's "No Big Hope," and I will smile and cry. Because to me, the reality of life is that you really have no time to enjoy anything without it being bittersweet.

A Weather, a fabulous band from Portland, recently released its sophomore album, Everyday Balloons, an album I'd strongly recommend you purchase after you listen to "No Big Hope" below.

A Weather - No Big Hope

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Listen to Free Energy's New Song, "C'mon Let's Dance"

Last Friday, SXSW darlings, Free Energy, debuted a stream of the new song, "C'mon Let's Dance." The track's toy-piano prelude leads into some full-blown Strokes-esque guitar, and later, unapologetically straightforward lyrics stand their ground against a kaleidoscope of rhythmic ingredients. Free Energy wants to unglue you from your wall and get you on the d-floor, yo. Oh yeah, the entire album, Stuck On Nothing, features LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy on bass.

Yesterday, the band announced new spring and summer tour dates with Mates of State. That rhymed. Check here to see if they're headed to a venue near you. My favorite Chicago music guru, Darren, is pretty pumped to see them at Pitchfork, as well.

Stuck On Nothing was released digitally back in March, but it's available in a physical format May 4, 2010 on Astralwerks/DFA.

The Gaslight Anthem Announces 'American Slang', Tour

Soul and punk seem to be two very conflicting things - maybe that's why The Gaslight Anthem's 2008 release, The '59 Sound, came out of nowhere for me. They're a group of tattooed guys from the fertile punk grounds of New Brunswick, New Jersey, but when I heard the title track for the first time, there was something very different going on.

Lead singer Brian Fallon obviously grew up listening to classic R&B while getting schooled Jersey-style, since the music he writes walks an obscenely delicate line between nostalgic Springsteen storytelling, Motown melody, and Social Distortion guitars.

Now, they've announced American Slang, their third album, which has been touted as a "dramatic leap forward" from their previous two. It includes tracks such as "Bring It On," "Orphans" and "Stay Lucky" that are sure to bristle and burn with the spirit of soul and the artistic adventurousness of a band that has found own unique voice.

They're also hitting the road in July, including dates in St. Louis, and one show sure to be kickass with The Hold Steady in Detroit.

June Dates:
15 - New York, NY - Irving Plaza

July Dates:
14 - Toronto, ON - Sound Academy
15 - Detroit, MI - The Fillmore (special lineup also featuring The Hold Steady and The Whigs)
16 - St. Louis, MO - Pop's
17 - Kansas City, MO - Midland Theatre
20 - Tempe, AZ - Marquee Theatre
21 - Los Angeles, CA - The Wiltern
22 - San Jose, CA - "Music in the Park Series"
24 - Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre
26 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
27 - Chicago, IL - House of Blues
28 - Columbus, OH - LC Pavilion
29 - Philadelphia, PA - Great Plaza at Penn's Landing
31 - Providence, RI - Lupo's

Jam of the Day | LCD Soundsystem - Dance Yrself Clean

So, the new LCD Soundsystem album, This Is Happening, has been streaming over at the official website for over a week now. I've taken advantage of the preview multiple times, and while I'll say that it is a totally solid effort, it's the album's lead track to which I keep returning.

"Dance Yrself Clean," an epic just shy of the 9:00 mark, is an electro-punk joyride, daytripping through fabricated handclaps, alternating synth chords, and yes, cowbell. But, holy shit, at the 3:10 mark, the song gets all Thelma and Louise and straight up drives over the edge. Seriously, I dare you to resist.

After all, if LCD Soundsystem jumps off a cliff, you do, too.

LCD Soundsystem - Dance Yrself Clean

This Is Happening comes out May 17, 2010 but is available for pre-order now on iTunes. If you order now, you'll get two bonus tracks, the Carl Craig cover "Throw" and "Oh You (Christmas Blues)" from the Greenberg motion picture soundtrack.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Video | JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound - "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart"

Back in February, I posted a video of the live performance of JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound performing "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" live in the local St. Louis KDHX studios. More specifically, I wrote about my absolute glee perpetuated by the band's release of this superb, soul-infused Wilco cover. Two months later, I just can't get enough, I just can't get enough.

Well, today the band announced the premiere of the official video for the song, and let me just say, it oozes cool. Please do me a solid and play this at your next party. Pretty please?

Further good news for St. Louisians: the band will take part in this year's Twangfest presented by KDHX for a "garage soul showcase" on June 11th with Those Darlins and Detroit Cobras. Advance tickets are available now through Ticketmaster.

The 7" single is available on Rabbit Factory and iTunes. Get it while the gettin's good.

Jam of the Day | Peter Wolf Crier - Crutch & Cane

The newly signed Minneapolis-based duo of Peter Pisano and Brian Moen, otherwise known as Peter Wolf Crier, fit perfectly into the mounting Jagjaguwar catalogue. With current label-mates the likes of Bon Iver, Gayngs, and Volcano Choir, they’ve acquired a position on one of the hottest labels around – and a prefab fanbase ready to welcome them with open arms.

Their debut album, Inter-Be, was written predominantly by Pisano on a single summer night, and therefore comes to us already shrouded in mystique. And our Jam of the Day “Crutch & Cane” illustrates how a rush of creativity during a condensed time frame can create music that echoes the place it occurred. You can practically see him sitting on a porch with a beer and acoustic guitar in hand, using his foot to keep the beat while figuring out its progression.

Even hearing it now in its polished form, filled with tambourine hits and a hint of piano laced chorus, that echo remains - conjuring those summer nights that it was born impeccably.

Inter-Be is due out May 25, 2010. Mark those calendars.

Peter Wolf Crier - Crutch & Cane

Concert Review: La Strada at Local 506 in Chapel Hill

I met with La Strada’s singer/accordion player James Craft before the show – fully admitting I had no prior knowledge of the band outside a few listens of what they have posted on their MySpace page. The songs I had heard, were somewhat deceptive streaming over the internet on my sweet, tiny PC speakers at work. But they suggested the music was reminiscent of a few bands I know and love – so needless to say I was grateful to speak with James, and excited to get a chance to see them perform.

Following, what was an odd choice of opening bands in North Elementary (Kaiser Cartel made complete sense), La Strada opened things with “There’s Only Love," a song that begins as some sort of sea shanty then breaks suddenly into soaring strings and calling vocals. This was followed by “The Mountain Song”– an accordion and cello driven song that I can only describe as beginning Eastern European dirge-ish but morphing midsong into a Coldplay-esque melody (middle fingers down) that, despite my lame comparison, is actually quite beautiful.

The middle of the set was comprised of four songs and two interludes of music not on their recently released debut LP New Home. And if there was one area that felt a bit off, it was the ordering of songs near the end of the set. By no means were any of the songs played that night bad – but I remember thinking that one song in particular, “Mean that Much,” didn’t really fit in the order, or with the general vibe of the evening for that matter.

But when La Strada finishes, they finish strong – and if all the songs before actually had completely sucked, attending their show would still be worth the time and money for the two songs that concluded the evening. Built on Andrew Bird’s strings and The Hold Steady’s chanting choruses, “My New Home” begged for more people to sing-a-long than were there that Wednesday night. Climaxing in sea of “Ooooh ohs,” strings and cymbal crashes, it was easily the best song of the evening for me and one that I’ve played daily since. Seriously - check out the MP3 below.

They closed things with what seems to be their most college radio friendly song, “Wash On By,” which seems poised to make it on playlists this summer with its plucking stings and up-tempo melody. It was the perfect way to send the crowd off from a late, mid-week show wanting more.

I have a feeling everyone that has had the pleasure of seeing them thus far, indeed does want much more. I for one will be keeping an eye out for the next time they come through town.

La Strada - My New Home

Friday, April 23, 2010

Jam of the Day | One Wolf - Backyard

Fresh off a tour with Speakers in Code faves, Deer Tick, One Wolf is garnering mucho atenciĆ³n with its gruff and gritty mix of punky-folk, reminiscent of the DT sound. One Wolf is not one note, however; the band bounces to and fro along the sound spectrum, sometimes rocking out in a gnarly way, sometimes slowing it down and muddling the latter's rough edges.

"Backyard" is a hazy in-betweener meant to carry you into the weekend, and its title alternately serves as a perfect location to blast this song. Just ensure you've got a 12-pack in tow to really do it up right.

One Wolf - Backyard

The band's sophomore album, One Wolf II: Secret of the Wolf, is out now.

Catching Up With Martin Sexton

These days, Martin Sexton's ready to go. He's just started his lengthy U.S. tour w/ the Ryan Montbleau Band, which will be celebrating his wonderful new album, Sugarcoating. Produced by Sexton and Crit Harmon, Sugarcoating's 13 tunes are ready for your next road trip this June, July, or August. It's definitely a breath of fresh air for my ears, since most of the music on my iPod is better suited for cloudy and rainy days.

So, yeah, I'm happy to have found Sexton's music. Sure, he'll get serious from time to time -- and that's fine (I'm used to that). But what I love about his new album is that it's able to turn the corner quickly, so that you're on your feet again in no time. Because, really, too many sad songs in the summer months just isn't right (even though I still fall into that trap).

We recently caught up with Mr. Sexton over e-mail as he was leaving for his tour.

1. Take us through the recording process for Sugarcoating. What moments stood out?

We recorded this old school, live off the floor. I'd show the players the tunes at the studio's kitchen table, then we'd go in and do takes. We'd usually have the keeper within the first five. A couple of them are take ones.

2. When you're writing a song, when do you know it's finished?

For me a song is finished when it feels like it needs nothing more, when my point is made and every part of the song does its job, when the verses tell the story, and the chorus brings home the main idea, and the bridge keeps you from getting bored.

3. When you're going on tour to promote a new album, how do you prepare?

I've been touring a while, so I'm well-adjusted. I basically prepare by packing my bags and kissing my wife. I've got a great crew who take of everything.

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

It's been so long that I've been to a show that I wasn't on that it's hard to recall.

5. What albums/artists are you currently listening to?

The only thing that's been playing right now in my universe is the Ryan Montbleau Band, because I've been producing them for the last three weeks.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jam of the Day | Roman Candle - Why Modern Radio is A-OK

There are a few things that people who grew up in places like North Carolina understand that others may not. The first is it’s not really summer until the sound of cicadas drown out any other noise around. Second, fall smells differently here – and most of us spend the year looking forward to that shit. Third, and most important: southern rock and rock written and performed by southern people can be two very different things.

Southern rock has become something so convoluted that even the most die-hard fans now seem to think that the current curator, a former DJ from Detroit, is the next Waylon Jennings. It’s now forever linked to rebel flags, Budweiser, and parking lot fights about pickups.

Then, there’s the music that channels the soul of the south, but in no way resembles said crap mentioned above. Roman Candle fits that bill – and while lead singer Skip Matheny may sing like a dull buzzsaw, the words coming out of his mouth are smarter and more meticulously arranged than any you will find penned by someone above the Mason-Dixon.

Our Jam of the Day “Why Modern Radio is A-Ok” honestly isn’t my favorite song on their latest album Oh Tall Tree in the Ear. But it really is the best introduction to their music if it’s your first Roman Candle listen. And like all of their music, there is something that makes it infectious upon first listen.

It may be the subject matter - that music, even if played by a jukebox-flattened dollar, can transport us back to a certain time, person, or place. For Matheny, or whoever he’s channeling, it’s the songs of Neil Young, Van Morrison, and Sam Cooke. And they’re so off-limits even the “high school emo bands versin' and chorusin'” on modern radio are better than the feelings invoked by those classic songs.

And that's saying a lot.

Roman Candle - Why Modern Radio is A-OK

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pajammy Jam of the Day | Cadillac Sky - I Will Follow You Into The Dark

I heard this song for the first time the other night. I know Death Cab For Cutie wrote and recorded the original, but I know very little about Death Cab.

So, I'll always remember hearing it first by Cadillac Sky, where they performed it literally unplugged, before a semi-circle of fans. It was a heartwarming way to end a concert; even though I didn't know the song initially, I was singing the chorus with everyone else at the end.

Cadillac Sky's new album, Letters in the Deep, will be released on June 8 via Dualtone Records. If it's as good as today's PJOTD, we're all in for a treat.

Concert Review | Jill Andrews + Josh Oliver at Cicero's in St. Louis

"You can go -- well, of course you can/ But I swear/ That these words will stand/ Up to you/ And your grandest plan/ You can't come back/ You can't come back..."

The first time I heard Jill Andrews' voice, I was lying in bed, sick from the stomach flu, and my head was pounding. Her song, "Lonely Anywhere," was playing on the everybodyfields' MySpace page, a band I had heard about from a close friend who knew my love of female vocalists. I ended up spending a good hour or two, headache be damned, listening to every everybodyfields song I could find that night...every one that Andrews sang on, that is.

Since splitting from the everybodyfields in 2009, Andrews has launched her career as a solo artist, and she's held little back. Her self-titled EP features six beautiful tracks, and all of them are fine examples of her talents, which were on display in St. Louis this week as Andrews performed as a duo with Josh Oliver, also formerly of the everybodyfields.

As a live performer, Andrews takes her time. Her songs live that way -- they need their space. Their words and messages are often brief, but they won't hit you the right way unless they're carefully delivered to your ears. For example, watch the video below of "These Words" and notice how delicate Andrews is with every word she sings. That's the magic of Jill Andrews.

Her 40-minute set was a flawless gift to everyone in the room. And just as "Lonely Anywhere" introduced me to the voice of Jill Andrews, it also serves as my final thought for this mini-review: If you haven't heard this song, please watch the video that I recorded of it below. If you like it, find Jill's albums, go see her on tour, and spread the word about her music.

Don't let another day go by without Jill Andrews' songs in your life.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Download Band of Horses' "Factory"

I've never seen Band of Horses live (I'm still pissed at that ice storm that kept me home a couple years ago), but that's about to change come May 4th when they will open for Pearl Jam in St. Louis. Although I really don't like arena shows (maybe it's because I always get crappy seats, I'm not sure), this is one for which I'm proud to make an exception. And you know you would, too.

Listen/download to the leadoff track, "Factory," off their upcoming album, Infinite Arms, which hits stores/Internets on May 18th. Hail, hail rock 'n roll!

If you missed the video for "Compliments," check it out.

Jam of the Day | Nick Jaina - Sleep Child

Portland alt-folk musician, Nick Jaina, is a "starving artist" in every sense of the term. We often hear about indie musicians who fund their projects via fan donations or miss gigs because of the broken-down van that they couldn't afford to fix in time. But, Jaina takes this idea to the extreme: he's sacrificed relationships, he's busked outside of national monuments, he's literally gone without food for his craft. It's a calling that he must answer time and time again despite what his rationality, his basic human needs, tells him.

His new album, A Bird in the Opera House, released last Tuesday, features the JOTD, "Sleep Child." On the song, Jaina weaves dense, yet incredibly poetic lyrics into the foundational threads of a rapid, almost tribal, guitar beat and intricate percussion. Known for his high-concept albums, this apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Despite any trouble navigating the murkiness of his songwriting, I have to say "Sleep Child" is chock full of lyrical pairs that resonate deeply with me. My favorite: "I am incarcerated/ I am in love with the shape of your eyes." I'm thankful for the reminder that there are songwriters out there capable of successfully finding new ways to describe love.

Basic needs met or not, Jaina knows how to capture heightened emotions in a truly unique way.

Nick Jaina - Sleep Child

A Bird in the Opera House is out now on Hush Records. Be sure to check out Jaina's recent Daytrotter session, as well.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jam of the Day | The Love Language - Heart to Tell

To start the week – a quick geography lesson. The Triangle area of North Carolina includes three primary cities: Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. It’s located in the Piedmont region of the state, nestled quaintly three hours from the mountains and two hours from the beach. Culturally, it’s the epicenter of the state, fueled no doubt by each city housing a major university and the people who relocate to attend them.

In the forty mile radius of the Triangle, there has been the inevitable ebb and flow of bands who garner national attention. In the decades leading up to the aughts, bands like Superchunk, Whiskeytown, Squirrel Nut Zippers, and Archers of Loaf all stirred up a fair share of attention in the area.

And when their dust settled, we were left with arguably the best independent record label in the world, Merge Records, and a group of local bands that seem poised to carry on the tradition of those that came before them.

Today’s Jam of the Day band, The Love Language, is a recent addition to a scene that is currently flourishing once again. “Heart to Tell” is the first single off their Merge debut Libraries, and it suggests very good things to come when the album drops July 13th.

Spurred by band leader Stuart McLamb and his ability to create infectious melody through fuzzy guitars and drum beats that beg you to clap your hands and tap a foot -- it’s another song that’s perfect to play with the windows down this spring. I'm sure many cars cruising down Franklin Street this summer will be doing the exact same thing.

The Love Language - Heart To Tell

Friday, April 16, 2010

Concert Review: Ani DiFranco at The Pageant in St. Louis

If I've learned anything over the years, it's that an Ani DiFranco concert is not a victory lap. It's not a greatest hits party. DiFranco isn't on stage to pose (heck, it's 2010, and you couldn't even bring your camera into the venue). She's not touring to re-live her past, as much as some of her fans might wish that to be true.

Instead, DiFranco, as you probably know, is fiercely independent. She's interested in the now, in the moment where she can deliver her unique talents when the time is right. Case in point: Mid-way through her set at The Pageant, she remarked that a stretch of the street where the venue resided had been renamed "Barack Obama Boulevard." So, she did what she hadn't done in while -- she played the song she wrote about Obama after he won the 2008 election.

Yep, Ani DiFranco does what she wants.

Her set was filled with newer material from 2008's Red Letter Year, and unreleased songs, most of which the crowd reacted warmly to. She remarked how her older songs don't thrill her so much these days; before she performed "She Says," DiFranco explained how one of her friends hand to print out lyrics, set them before her, and hand her a guitar so that she could "re-learn" the tune. The performance was splendid, even though it might have been the result of someone pulling her artistic teeth.

A few favorites did make their way into the set near the end. Seconds after starting "Both Hands," DiFranco could sense this was what her fans had been waiting for all night, so she stopped and remarked that it was for "you....and you...and you!" It felt like a genuine dedication, although I'm guessing she'd rather have that kind of reception for something she wrote the day before, not years ago.

But as free of a soul as Ani DiFranco is, you can't deny that those first notes of "Both Hands" or "Untouchable Face," which she also played, are special moments, too.

They're just not the songs that keep DiFranco on the road after all these years.

Jam of the Day | Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - I Learned the Hard Way

It's no secret around these parts that I love a good soul jam. I've been eating up The Mynabirds' "Numbers Don't Lie" (and eagerly awaiting the debut album, What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood which drops April 27th), and that cover of Wilco's "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" by J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound is clearly the bees' knees. It sorta makes my teeth sweat. In a good way.

Now, Miss Sharon Jones and her Dap-Kings are back with a new album and a title track that booms with hindsight knowledge and subtle swagger. "I Learned the Hard Way" proves that won't won't kill you will only make you stronger. Every few bars, the song alternates between syrupy Mary Wells-esque vocals and menacing brass accompaniment in the minor key.

The album cover (above) perfectly illustrates that same dichotomy in Jones herself: femininity in her high heels complimented by a powerful stance that says, "Don't fuckin' mess with me." She does modern day soul that is completely authentic to the genre's heyday in the 1960s, and besides the fact that she makes great music, I'm a sucker for a strong woman, particularly one that can stand next to the the original ladies of soul and hold her own.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - I Learned the Hard Way

I Learned the Hard Way is out now on Daptone Records. Pick it up Saturday at your favorite independent record store and celebrate Record Store Day 2010. I celebrated a little early with my purchase at Vintage Vinyl.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jam of the Day | Fresh Espresso - Big or Small

DISCLAIMER: I write the below post with full understanding that I am a 6’7” lanky white boy who lives in a college town located in the heart of North Carolina. I have attempted to execute six dance moves in my life which include: The Macarena. The Roger Rabbit. The Butterfly. The Electric Slide. The Cha-Cha Slide. The Harlem Shake (and I injured myself). With this in mind - please enjoy.

Remember the days when legit rap groups made comedy movies about throwing parties at their house? When it took two to make a thing go right? The days where you could be happy with just you, yourself, and…you? For me, the time when hip-hop was synonymous with party music seems long gone. Especially after the genre blew up and inevitably became overhyped, overfunded, and outplayed. Well, thankfully, we now have another example of what goes around comes around.

P-Smoov and Rik Rude, otherwise known as Fresh Espresso, have done something that seems damn near impossible on “Big or Small.” They somehow created a song that’s semi-chill, samples the Bee Gees - yet somehow makes you want to get up and out on the floor (see disclaimer). It’s a modernization of party hip-hop, but executed in a way that makes it accessible without feeling disingenuous.

And this is true for their entire debut album, Glamour, which features 14 tracks loaded with all the samples, bass driven beats, and party poetics that you’ll need to get that party started right.

Fresh Espresso - Big or Small

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pajammy Jam of the Day | Frightened Rabbit - Yes, I Would

Well, what if I am never thrown that bone?
And what if this tear in my side just pours, and pours, and pours?
I wonder if you've noticed that I'm not around...
The loss of a lonely man never makes much of a sound

For the past week or so, I've mainly been listening to Frightened Rabbit's last two albums, The Midnight Organ Fight and The Winter of Mixed Drinks. And although I might like Organ Fight just a tad better than Mixed Drinks, today's PJOTD has all the makings of a great song, at least in my book.

Listen to the way Scott Hutchison sings --his vocals aren't perfect, but he holds nothing back, especially in the latter third of the song. This isn't a band sleeping through life; this is a band that creates music and acknowledges the darkness that surrounds us all, but is smart enough to realize that it's not all a dead end. This is a band that strips the fat away, a band that doesn't celebrate or swim in excess.

Would I call Frightened Rabbit a great band? Yes, I would.

Joseph Arthur Announces New Album

Joseph Arthur, crafter of gorgeous folk songs and painter of brilliant works of art, has announced an upcoming album to be released this fall. Arthur recently wrapped up the finishing touches on the currently untitled effort at The Carriage House recording studio in Los Angeles. Special guests include Ben Harper and Remi Jaffe (The Wallflowers, Foo Fighters).

Arthur is currently in the midst of a residency at The Stronghold every Friday night in Venice Beach, California. But, this just in...  Next week, Joseph Arthur and Friends will be playing The Bootleg Theater in in Los Angeles. Damn lucky, you West coasters.

Concert Review: Matthew Ryan + Molly Thomas at Cicero's in St. Louis

To understand and appreciate Matthew Ryan's music, you have to be a little lucky, at least that's what I've come to believe. If you're introduced to his catalog via the "wrong" song or album, you might not make it past the first minute or so. You might be scared off by his voice. You might just give up.

And Matthew Ryan could have given up on Monday night in St. Louis. The turnout wasn't as he (or I) had hoped, and a lesser performer would have sped through a few songs while his or her touring vehicle kept warm in the parking lot.

But that's not Matthew Ryan.

He took requests. He walked around the audience while he played said requests (without any amplification). He performed most of his newest album, Dear Lover. He hung out after the show and chatted with the people who chose to come and see him play.

Ryan's a believer, you see. I've met a few musicians, but none quite like him. I'm sort of at a loss for words here, but he's a real person. And rather than go through a play-by-play of the concert, below you will find a video I took of "Your Museum," the show closer, which is also one of my favorites off of Dear Lover. Its words, which I'll leave you with, sum up the whole Matthew Ryan experience for me:

Maybe once, In a hundred million years
Has there been one like you my dear

So bright, so pure, so clear

The torch that lights my way

The sky is as bright tonight as my eyes

The darkest parts are behind me now and soon the sun will rise, the sun will rise

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jam of the Day | The Blind Eyes - January

Photo credit: Douglas Garfield

Yesterday, fellow Speakers in Code writer, Matt, gave us a Jam of the Day that slowly eases from winter to this relatively newfound spring weather. However, today, I bring you a JOTD that definitely doesn't hide the fact that it's ready to shed its winter skin and spend a little time outdoors, sans sunscreen, in a not-so-subtle attempt to make that skin feel alive again. While we all crossed our fingers and said a little prayer back on Groundhog Day that spring would soon be spiraling toward us, The Blind Eyes have been a-wishin' and a-hopin' since "January."

Huge in the St. Louis local music scene, The Blind Eyes self-released its debut album, Modernity, in March 2009, and I've been wearing the entire album out ever since. But it's the lead track, "January," retro-tinged with a contagious chorus, that invariably summons me back - I mean, what more could you want out of a feel-good slice of indie pop? The fact that it hates winter as much as I do? Sold to the lady in the second row!

I saw The Blind Eyes open last Wednesday for The Black Lips at The Firebird, and I was reminded once again, from the band's energetic yet impervious live show, why it deserves the title of JOTD.

The Blind Eyes - January

Recently, the boys have been back in the recording studio, prepping their forthcoming second LP. In the meantime, Modernity is available on iTunes and Amazon.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Broken Bells Records MySpace "Transmissions" Session, Offers Songs for Free Download

Recorded and filmed at The Village in Santa Monica, California, the latest MySpace "Transmissions" session features Broken Bells, the critically-acclaimed duo of James Mercer (The Shins) and Danger Mouse.

For a limited time, fans can download stripped-down versions from the session, including:1. The Ghost Inside
2. The High Road
3. October
4. Vaporize

Watch video of Broken Bells performing "The High Road."

Jam of the Day | Small Black - Despicable Dogs

Spring always pulls me in two directions musically. On one hand, I want to say goodbye to the gloom of winter and the down-tempo, moody music that I seem to feature during those months. To dust off those summertime beats that make me roll down the windows and work on a sweet left arm tan.

But letting go of those songs that make a twenty degree day seem warm and sunny is tough for me. That’s what makes Small Black's “Despicable Dogs” so wonderful. You can almost hear the soil thawing as the sun decides to stick around a bit longer each day, like those days where the morning is still cold enough for a jacket, but it warms up so much you end up carrying it in your hand by the time you leave work.

Maybe it’s the combo platter of a rad '80s drum machine beat and dispondent phrasing. Or the fact it’s all pulled together with some drowsy but completely melodic synth – but somehow it feels conflicted much like my winter to spring transition.

And like that transition, it’s about letting go – which for me, gets a lot easier with songs like this.

Small Black - Despicable Dogs

Small Black: Despicable Dogs Video

Friday, April 9, 2010

Annie Stela's 'Hard City/Little House' Released Via Macy's & American Rag

I tell ya, that Annie Stela always has something up her sleeve. Besides currently offering to play a show this summer at your house, Stela released two fine EPs in 2009 -- Hard City and Little House -- and they both blew my mind. But what's this? They're being combined? And you can get a free copy at Macy's?

Believe it!

Here are the details:

On Monday, April 5, Macy’s and American Rag will release Hard City/Little House by emerging artist Annie Stela as part of an exciting new program created by FILTER Creative Group and Macy’s private brand American Rag. In addition to a feature article in American Rag’s RAGGED Magazine, free CDs will be available in Macy’s stores nationwide beginning April 5, 2010.

Alongside her sophomore album, Annie will release the covers EP, William, which will be available for free on her website in April, 2010. Tracks on Hard City/Little House include:

1. Those Kind of Guys
2. Heart
3. Clean It Up
4. Swallowed Snakes
5. Little House
6. Nothing Left
7. Better That Way
8. On the Sleeping Porch

Visit your local Macy’s store starting April 5 to find Hard City/Little House exclusively at American Rag counters and get a free PDF download of RAGGED Magazine at

And be sure to check out our interview we did with Annie earlier this year!

Jam of the Day | Deer Tick - Twenty Miles

Last summer, I saw Deer Tick open for Jenny Lewis, and the then unknown-to-me band covered John Mellencamp's "I Fought Authority" with the intensity of The Sex Pistols. I still don't know if that was a sincere gesture or more of a kitschy move, but as a small town girl who grew up near many pink houses, I was touched.

That was enough for me to get hooked on the band; it's true that John Cougar brings people together. I found that Deer Tick's 2009 release, Born On Flag Day, included the melancholic "Smith Hill," in a bring-me-to-my-knees 6/8 time signature, which alone was worth the purchase of the entire album.

Now, the boys are back with the first offering off the forthcoming The Black Dirt Sessions. Lead singer, John McCauley's vocals are naturally wearied, perfectly suited for his songwriting that is growing ever more inquisitively dark. (In fact, two new songs, "Christ Jesus," and "Goodbye, Dear Friend" off the upcoming album feature McCauley alone at his piano, exposed and naked like he came).

"Twenty Miles" is the perfect yin to Deer Tick's onstage punk-rock yang.

Deer Tick - Twenty Miles

The Black Dirt Sessions is out June 8, 2010 on Partisan Records.

Orenda Fink (The Interview)

When Orenda Fink released Ask the Night in October of 2009, it was an album that took me a few listens to get comfortable with its words and sounds. I'll admit right now that my brain always hears Maria Taylor's voice when I hear Fink's. If you didn't already know, Taylor and Fink made up the duo known as Azure Ray, and their voices often made magic together. They were much like the female Simon and Garfunkel to my ears.

But to say Fink is underwhelming as a solo artist is not accurate. Her vocals are just as powerful as they were in Azure Ray, and her songwriting recalls a darker Gillian Welch. And although it took me a bit to really enjoy Ask the Night, if I had a chance to re-do my share of Strangers Almanac's "Best Songs of 2009," I'm sure I would find a place for "High Ground."

We recently had a chance to catch up with Fink over e-mail.

1. Which album was harder for you to write - your debut, Invisible Ones, or last year's Ask the Night? Why?

I don't think that one was necessarily harder to write over the other one. Mostly when I write a record, I just fall into a zone and produce a lot of material in a short amount of time. But then I can go a year without really writing anything. I kind of just have to wait for the inspiration or mindset, but once it happens, it is relatively effortless.

2. Tell us about the recording process for Ask the Night. I read that you did everything in a basement and a living room...what are the advantages of recording in these types of settings?

Ask the Night was definitely easier to record than Invisible Ones because, yes, we basically recorded all of it live in my basement. The advantages of recording live are that you get a really natural feel to the recording. It can be more "musical" in a sense. Also, you tend to refine as you play instead of laying a bunch of tracks down and laboriously making editing decisions later. However, there is something to be said for a bigger production. For instance, for Invisible Ones, Andy LeMaster and I flew to Brooklyn and recorded these beautiful Haitian vocalists. It became a little adventure. In that respect, I like injecting some unknown elements into the recording process sometimes.

3. "High Ground" is one of my favorites on Ask the Night. What does that song mean to you?

This song is about a relationship or person that plagues you- the kind that make you run for cover...

4. I noticed on Twitter that Azure Ray is recording a new album. How is everything going with that?

Everything is going great. We are in Asheville, NC, at Echo Mountain Studios with Eric Bachmann producing. We're really excited about this record. However, we're about to take a break and see our friends, Of Montreal, play at the Orange Peel. :)

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

I rarely go to concerts as a fan, because I mostly listen to older music. But, The Flaming Lips always put on an amazing show. Their productions are so huge that they make me cry every time. Also, I got to see Nina Simone in concert before she died and nothing will ever really hold a candle to that. I cried through her whole concert as well. Hmmm... maybe that's why I don't go to many!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

St. Louis Gets a Big Girl Music Festival | Behold the First Annual LouFest!

Living smack dab in the middle of the U.S. of A. hasn't given either Jason or I many feasible opportunities to attend the various music festivals that take place in other parts of the country. I won't lie and say I don't get maniacally jealous when I hear about other bloggers throwing parties at SXSW or my nomadic friends taking off for days to camp at Bonnaroo. Lollapalooza is a five hour jaunt from St. Louis, but it does require taking two days off of work to get your money's worth. But, now, all that's changing.

St. Louis is getting its very own big girl music festival: LouFest! Taking place in the beautiful Forest Park over the weekend of August 28-29, 2010, the first official lineup was announced yesterday.


Bottle Rockets
So Many Dynamos
Adam Reichmann

Titus Andronicus
The Airborne Toxic Event
Built to Spill
Broken Social Scene


Kim Massie
Magnolia Summer

Carolina Chocolate Drops
Gentleman Auction House
Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons
Fruit Bats
Alejandro Escovedo
She & Him

Founder/organizer Brian Cohen moved from Austin to St. Louis about seven years ago, and although our city was initially only a temporary residence, it soon became his permanent home. He noticed the lack of a national music festival and quickly set to work by modeling the advantages of other fests like Austin City Limits and Memphis in May. But Cohen is determined to accomplish something unique for LouFest. “My
team and I are taking ideas and themes we love from these other
festivals and growing the event locally.

We'll have a
lineup that rivals other national
in terms of quality, but LouFest will be uniquely St. Louis."

Perhaps the most unique aspect of LouFest is its alliance with and the mission for the festival itself to leave "little to no impact on the environment." LouFest will be green from top to bottom with the use of recycling stations, recycled materials, and a water refill program, along with encouraging green transportation options like carpooling, bikes, and the Metrolink.