Thursday, June 30, 2011

Concert Photos | GIVERS + Pepper Rabbit + 1,2,3 at Cicero's in Saint Louis

All photos by Katie Guymon

Last Monday, GIVERS, the swiftly up-and-coming Lafayette, Louisiana fivesome put on a helluva show at Cicero's in Saint Louis. We've been doting on the fun-time guys (and gal) since the inception of Speakers in Code, and we were thrilled to hear the news of the band's debut LP release with a stop in our town to promote In Light. The album is full of poolside jams. Highly recommended to blare from your own speakers for the next few months, at least.

Pepper Rabbit was the second opener of the night. The L.A. duo played new songs from the forthcoming Red Velvet Snow Ball (out August 9th on Kanine) to an eager crowd.

1,2,3 kicked the night off real proper like. Gotta say, ever since listening to the Pittsburgh band's new release on Spinner, we've been intensely digging these guys. Please do check out the album, New Heaven, that just came out last week.

Album Review | Bon Iver - Bon Iver

Speakers Rating: 97/100

"And at once I knew I was not magnificent." This lyric comes from "Holocene," the third track on Bon Iver's self titled second LP (Jagjaguwar), and it may just be the musical moment of the year...

Bon Iver, the musical undertaking created and marshaled by Justin Vernon, will likely be forever linked to the near mythical story of the 2007 debut LP For Emma, Forever Ago (a love-sick Justin gets mono, moves to a cabin in Wisconsin, sleeps a bunch, and makes an astoundingly captivating, sad, sparse record, all by himself). Since then, Bon Iver released the Blood Bank EP (containing even more mesmeric, stripped-down tracks that would have been right at home on For Emma). Mr. Vernon also guest starred on Kayne West's latest LP and formed a jazzy, smoldering side project called GAYNGS that embarked on a tour, captivating audiences with their groovy style and resonant jams.

Since 2007, and following the EP and the emergence of GAYNGS, the music world has wondered what would come next from Bon Iver. Would new songs be cut from the same cloth as the For Emma tunes? How could Bon Iver build on the distinguished debut effort? Would Justin take the project in an entirely new direction? All questions, hopes, anticipations, and expectations were answered when Bon Iver was released last week. Simply put, the record is... magnificent.

Bon Iver is not as melancholy as For Emma, but it is still introspective. There is hopefulness (a touch, not a ton) in this record that doesn't seem to be there, or at least as present, in the debut. The production is anything but limited. Layered, escalating compositions with horns and pounding percussion support Justin's characteristic voice and thoughtful, but sometimes recondite, lyrics. If For Emma, a lonesome, singular recording, was Justin's record, Bon Iver is an album that showcases the scope of the project and the artistry of the band as a whole.

The record begins with "Perth," a perfect jump off for the dynamic new record. The opener starts with gentle electric guitar melody that leads into an echoed choral howl. A rolling, Revolutionary War-esque snare drum appears and Justin opens with the record's first verse: "Iʼm tearing up, acrost your face, move dust through the light, to fide your name, it’s something fane, this is not a place, not yet awake, I’m raised of make." (Find all of the record's lyrics, weird spellings / fictitious words and all, provided by Jagjaguwar, here). The track then coalesces into a booming, rhythmic, arrangement unlike anything we've heard before from Bon Iver.

As the gentle start to "Holocene" plucks its way into your ears, it moves swiftly to the brain and washes over the heart, like reflective beauty distilled into drug form. As Justin sings "Someway, baby, it’s part of me, apart from me," one knows immediately that this is a special, utterly personal track. The track meanders slowly through the rest of the first lyrical stanza to reach... the moment... "And at once I knew I was not magnificent." After this individual, intimate, gut-wrenchingly honest self-indictment, where the arrangement pauses to honor the gravity of this realization, Justin is buoyed and elevated by his band-mates as subtle, swirling horns, rolling drums, and background bells/keys build the most astounding track of the record, if not Bon Iver's career.

After moseying through additional highlights like the stripped down, slide guitar accented "Michicant" and Bon Iver's first single, the dreamy "Calgary," the record ends with "Beth / Rest," a stunning pajammy jam of a closer where elements of the GAYNGS aural aesthetic are clearly present. "Beth / Rest" could easily be played as a slow dance at the Last Prom on Earth. A winding, '80s style ballad, accented with horns, slide guitar, and a noodling electric guitar lead, the track lets the awestruck listener down easily. It is as if Justin and Co. are putting us to bed with a wistful lullaby after an hour of satisfying sonic gratification.

With back to back LPs that showcase undeniable skill in songwriting, composition, and execution, (and a solid EP and side project in between), Justin Vernon and his project Bon Iver have embedded themselves in the pleasure centers of the minds of listeners, fans, and critics alike. It all started years ago, with Justin alone in that cabin. With each spin of Bon Iver, the story of For Emma slowly fades from the listener's mind and solidifies the fact that when it is all said and done, Bon Iver's true legend will be the music and not the story of the project's well-documented inception.

Buy the magnificent Bon Iver here.

Jam of the Day | Eddie Vedder - Can't Keep

Tomorrow night at The Fox Theatre, Eddie Vedder will be rocking with his ukulele, playing songs from his new album, Ukulele Songs, an album that’s really growing on us here at Speakers in Code. Of course, Vedder will also be playing Pearl Jam songs, and today’s JOTD is kinda one of those. “Can’t Keep” is taken from Pearl Jam’s Riot Act, but Vedder has given it new (and better) life on his solo project. Dude just rocks – it doesn’t matter what instrument he’s using.

I’m sure he’ll play almost all of Ukulele Songs tomorrow night -- that’s pretty much a given. But if I had to pick one Pearl Jam song I’d like to hear Vedder perform solo, it would probably be “Off He Goes.” And if he wants to throw in “Yellow Ledbetter” at the end, well, that’s just fine, too. Ya’ll know the lyrics, right?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jam of the Day | Priory - Lady of Late

Photo courtesy of Expunged Records

"I was born with a heart of stone/ until you came along/ and you broke my throne..."

You know what sucks? Purposely avoiding the lures of love, accidentally falling into it, and finally having your heart stomped flat by a dude in baseball cleats. Or a chick in stilettos. Either way.

That's the saga that Priory's "Lady of Late" tells (and, you have to keep in mind the title of the song, otherwise you might think that the terrifying Lady Elaine Fairchilde is the one doing the heart stomping). And the Portland foursome does so against a collection of sounds that ever-so-slightly dips a big toe in the indie-folk pond (after all, this is a Northwestern band). However, Priory favors the complexity of combining the electro with the acoustic, and "Lady of Late" is prominently backed with what I can best figure is an electric harmonica. Rock on.

Priory - Lady of Late

Priory is out now on Portland's Expunged Records (home of Blind Pilot). The debut album is good, y'all. It's time to be an early adopter.

Hometowns | Sarah Jaffe [Red Oak/Denton, TX]

Welcome to Hometowns, a new feature we're debuting today at Speakers in Code where we ask artists about where they grew up. The Hometowns mission is twofold: 1) we wanna let our favorite musicians play homage to the places they hold near and dear to their hearts and 2) we strongly believe that roots have a significant influence on the art that these folks make. We want to know more. In Sarah Jaffe's case, there are two special places where she's spent time in her life: Red Oak and Denton, Texas. 

Jaffe hit it big last year with the release of Suburban Nature, which we named one of our favorite albums of 2010. The album is perhaps best known for the song "Clementine," a five-minute gem that Jaffe originally wrote as a piece of filler. It's funny how a throwaway can turn into something that can eventually define an artist's work. We're certainly glad she kept it around.

Jaffe will be in Saint Louis at Off Broadway next Tuesday, July 5th, supporting Centro-matic, a band that just released a new album called Candidate Waltz. Tickets to the show are only $8 and can be purchased here.

Jaffe, whose only other Saint Louis appearance to date was last year at The Billiken Club, will performing with a full band at Off Broadway, and we're pretty excited to hear her sound fleshed out a bit. Perhaps she'll even take a stab at something off Even Born Again, her first EP that was re-released earlier this year. A blog can hope, right?

Last week, we got Jaffe on the phone to discuss the place she grew up (Red Oak), and the town where she now lives (Denton).

If you could take us out for a meal in your hometown, where we would we go?

We would eat at Thai Ocha. It would be the best Thai food -- I don't know if you're a fan of curry at all. No matter where I go -- New York, San Francisco -- Thai Ocha is still the best Thai food I've ever had.

Tell us something unique about your hometown that we can't find on Wikipedia.

There's a great vintage store that my friend owns called Circa 77 Vintage, and she's been collecting vintage, knickknacks, you name it. I used to live with her, actually; she was my first roommate in Denton. Her and her mom run that store, and it's amazing. You can't find that on Wikipedia for sure, so that's a really good place to stop when you're in Denton.

I just recently found out about a place that my friend was telling me about, that I had no idea existed, and it's this place called Goatman's Bridge. Apparently, it's a haunted bridge. If you go at night -- apparently, someone was killed there. The story is, a lot of people take pictures of these car lights, because there was a murder that happened there, back in the '60s. A lot of people go and camp out on this bridge at night. I had a picnic there, which was weird! It's an interesting place; I love stories like that. It's a cool thing, it's also in a pretty location.

What was your high school experience like?

Well, I'm not actually from Denton; I call it my hometown now, but I moved here about four-and-a-half years ago. I went to high school in this very, very tiny town called Red Oak, which is growing rapidly, but when I lived there, it was very, very small. I lived there from the time I was eight until eighteen. I graduated a year early; I graduated with a group of my friends -- we all decided our sophomore year that we wanted to get out of high school as quickly as possible. A great high school, although it is a blur. It was just kind of easy. When I think about that period of my life, I think about coasting! Literally coasting through time. I had a really solid group of friends.

I was a good kid. I never really applied myself, and I always made really bad grades! I was always a very "D" student who could have been an "A" student, but I just didn't care. You know, other than that, it was just about getting out of there. It wasn't because it was hard, I just didn't care. It's a strange age, and a lot of rite of passages. But, it was good! I got out of there a year early, which was well worth it, and moved to L.A. for about a year and came back home with my tail between my legs and moved to Denton. It all worked out. It's a strange time! Everyone is thinking the same thing: "I hope this person likes me." Everyone is thinking the same thing. It's just stupid. Unless you go to a really good school, where the arts are encouraged. But, I grew up in a town where football was encouraged.

So, what is the easiest way to get in trouble in Red Oak?

Oh, gosh. There are a number of ways. Well, there are a lot of bored cops. So, you really don't have to do a ton. Uh, have a house party! I got pulled over once for throwing some trash away in a dumpster on someone else's property. Uhhh...I don't know, have a party in a field, or something. There were a lot field parties in high school. Like Dazed and Confused kind of stuff.

What do you miss the most about home when you’re touring?

My bed was the first thing that came to my mind. Is that sad? I really miss Dan's Silverleaf, which is a bar I used to work at and occasionally [did] some time. On any given night, a group of my very, very close friends are there. Even with a small tour, like two weeks in a row, in sleeping in hotel room beds, you start to miss your bed, and you start to miss the small comforts of home. I think my bed is the main love that I miss when I'm on the road. You start to miss your blankets and your own pillow. I love my blankets; I never want to get out of them.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Concert Photos | The Elected + Tristen @ Local 506 in Chapel Hill

Photo by Aggie Donkar/Brand New Kind of Photography

Chapel Hill’s historic Franklin Street is the cultural epicenter of the town, along with the University that anchors it. A myriad of restaurants, bars, and boutiques litter the tree-lined street, but one new addition has become a source of not only great chocolate, but also great stage banter from visiting musicians. The shop is called The Chocolate Door, and anyone who has ever been around a thirteen year-old boy will immediately snicker at the slang terms that could be deduced from its unfortunate nomenclature. The Elected’s Blake Sennett got right down to it by proclaiming it “Butthole City” to the crowd at Local 506 last Wednesday night, and really, why not lay it on the line? We all have been thinking it for a year now.

Comedic moments aside – what a great evening of music. Sennett and The Elected were, of course, as strong as ever, and set a more mellow tone early by breaking out the instrument du jour, the ukelele, early on and transforming previously peppy numbers into new, more laid-back tunes. Reaching into the back catalog just enough to remind us of what we’d been missing over the past half-decade, he used new songs to bookend blocks of crowd favs, before ending the night sans-encore, which is quite welcome in a venue that has no back-stage.

All photos are provided by photo-masta Aggie Donkar.

The show was opened by Nashville’s Tristen, whose amazing voice damn near stole the show after being on stage for just a few minutes. Varying from sweet folky numbers, to a kick ass Dolly Parton cover, her range only verified what everyone hearing her sing was already well-aware of – we will be hearing a lot about her in the coming months.

Jam of the Day | WU LYF - Dirt

WU LYF (World Unite/Lucifer Youth Foundation) has been on the Speakers in Code radar since way back in days of April, when a cloud of excitement and speculation collided like those atoms do, but instead of nuclear fission, buzz was created. No one really knew what the hell they were dealing with.  Between cryptic pictures of the band with their faces covered by white bandanas, to rumors they were created, *NSYNC-style by a business savvy marketeer, to evidence pointing to their practice of Satan worship, the blogoshere went into convulsions trying to figure shit out.

And while we now know they are a bunch of kids from Manchester, and they don't look much like worshipers of that silly ole' Lucifer, it may be better to just leave it at that. Answers may only take away from the sheer power of their music, that frankly, aides from the mystery and mystique of it all. Our Jam of the Day, "Dirt," is the perfect example of how intrigue is, well, intriguing. Raw, almost indecipherable lyrics wail over war-like drums. And as the video below perfectly exemplifies, it could soundtrack a riot perfectly. So, go start one.

Download it here, but watch the video below first. Turn it up loud and get ready to hit replay. Once you're done, pick up their debut LP, Go Tell Fire to the Mountain.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Concert Review | Matt and Kim at The Pageant in Saint Louis

Photo by Sarah Cochran

Yes, there were balloons. And confetti. But, I want to talk about the balloons. They didn't fall from the ceiling; they weren't even pre-blown. They were tossed out into the audience by Matt and Kim, in their flimsy, rubber state, all multi-colored and new (well, I'm hoping they were new). They were given life in seconds, and before you knew it, they were everywhere. Bouncing around in the pit, a perfect match to Matt and Kim's music.

They were needed.

Don't mistake this for negativity, because it's not. But, let's face it -- nothing about Matt and Kim's music is serious. The people blowing their newly tossed balloons were probably in their most serious state of the evening while...blowing, not for the 80-minute set that Matt and Kim delivered. No, that was mostly like eating a big piece of cotton candy: the songs dissolved on your tongue.

The balloons existed because they represented what Matt and Kim's performance was all about: not thinking too much and getting away from your serious life for just a bit. In some ways, that's what every concert should be -- to have a moment for yourself, or a group of friends, and not think about an Excel spreadsheet or some God-awful report. When I go to a concert, I want to feel something -- joy, emotion, whatever. Just do something that makes me want to stand up, or feel chills down my spine.

So yeah, I did a lot of smiling and laughing when Matt and Kim came out sprinting and grinning to start the show. They entered the stage to the tune of Jay Z's "Empire State of Mind," a choice that got the crowd all rowdy and in the mood. Matt, with his Mr. Rogers sweater was sort of Gumby-like with his movements; Kim, on the other hand, looked like she had just done a round of shake weights (ie, she looked like she could and would kick everyone's ass).

During their 80 minutes on stage, they wasted little time doing whatever they pleased to keep the folks who had paid to see them happy. Kim stood triumphantly on her drum kit (and walked on the audience's hands in the pit), while Matt shouted out things like "I fucking love Budweiser" and "Kim, I love your itty-bitty-titties!” I'm sure a lot of that was staged, but whatever. It worked.

Photo by Louis Kwok

As for the actual music being played, I would be telling you a lie if anything but the main-set closer, "Daylight," stood out. Maybe that's because Matt sings in such a register that everything seems so fucking happy that it's all one big song and party. I don't know.

All I know is this: if you go see Matt and Kim, do your best to play along. Because it's better to just believe that there are musicians out there like them who are really that amped up about what they do. And for that, the world is a better place.

Jam of the Day | Wilco - I Might

This past weekend at their self-curated music festival (Solid Sound at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), Chicago-based rockers Wilco played a new single entitled "I Might." Available only on vinyl (for now), "I Might" is a straight-forward, buzzy rocker with keyboard and xylophone notes that provide hints of a 1960's vibe. The track is a definite throwback to the pre-Yankee Hotel Foxtrot days before Wilco was ever dubbed "experimental." There are no drawn out, cacophonous, musical tangles here. "I Might" is a classic, no-nonsense tune with a steadfast beat, gravelly guitars, and Jeff Tweedy's signature vocals. We're digging it.

Listen to "I Might" below. Buy the vinyl here. Or, wait patiently for the digital release of the track, coming on July 18th. Wilco's new LP (their 8th studio record) The Whole Love is expected to be released on the group's new record label dBpm sometime this fall.

Contest | Hayes Carll Vinyl Giveaway

Singer-songwriter Hayes Carll released his awesome album, KMAG & YOYO  (& Other American Stories) on Lost Highway last February, and he recently made a stop in Saint Louis for the 15th edition of Twangfest. That week, we made his song, "Another Like You" the Jam of the Day, and we've been mesmerized ever since.

Hayes Carll - Another Like You

Now, it's your turn to be enchanted. We're giving away one copy of KMAG & YOYO (& Other American Stories) to a special winner.

Stipulation: you must reside in the U.S. or Canada to enter the giveaway. Luckily, if you do, entering is easy. All you have to do is one of the following:

1. Simply copy and paste this into a tweet: I entered to win the new @hayescarll album on vinyl @speakersincode!

2. Send an e-mail to

3. Leave us a comment on our Facebook page.

The contest will run through July 10th at midnight, and we'll randomly pick and DM/e-mail the winner on July 11th. Good luck!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Video | Dots Not Feathers - Washington

Watch your newly minted Riverfront Times Best New Band perform a song off its just-released EP, Come Back to Bed. This is "Washington" from our Dots Not Feathers show on June 14th.

Jam of the Day | Future Islands - Before the Bridge

Photo by Aggie Donkar/Brand New Kind of Photography

There were two possible directions we could have gone with this post, and not being totally sure which is best, we’re including them both.

A) Like an aged bottle of Château Lafite Rothschild, Future Islands is one of those bands that gets more complex as you allow yourself to experience the intricate notes that integrate to form a product that rises above the sum of its parts. The music, while wonderful, does not truly open up until their live show is consumed…

B) If a band is like an onion, the layman would choose to compare its similarities to layers, and how the layers combine, overlapping to create something complex and enjoyable. That’s lame. Future Islands is like an onion because once you’re done experiencing their live show, your eyes are all watery, and no one wants to stand next to you for a few hours. The music, while wonderful, does not truly open up until their live show is consumed…

Either way, you get the gist. Future Islands makes awesome music, and the band's new single, “Before the Bridge,” certainly does not break the trend. But like the five senses, the music doesn’t achieve its intended level of experience until sound is combined with the other four. And in the case of a Future Islands show, you leave completely worn out from dancing around, smelly, and with the taste of beer and sweat resonating in your mouth.

Looking back, there were actually three comparisons in that post. Whatever. Download the song below, and pick it up from Thrill Jockey here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jam of the Day | Paleo - Holly Would

Photo by Cary Norton

Is there a void in your analogue-nomadic-folk record collection? Heralded as a cross between Bob Dylan and The Violent Femmes (and we're thinking a slightly tripped-out The Tallest Man on Earth), Paleo (aka David Strackany) is the answer to your foot stompin', midnight ghost conjurations in addition to your early summer desert traispes. Or, remember that scene in La Bamba where Ritchie meets the spiritual snake man in Tijuana to cure his extreme fear of flying? Yeah, it's kind of like that.

Paleo isn't as unfamiliar as you might think. After his self-released LP, Misery, Missouri (yup, that's where I live!), he went on to produce the 2008 debut album for These United States (and play almost all of the instruments on it) and create The Song Diaries, 365 songs recorded consecutively while traveling the country and sleeping in his car (which prompted Sean Moeller to dub him Daytrotter's Poet Laureate).

Paleo - Holly Would

The new album, Spirit of the Fruit, just came out Tuesday on Partisan Records, home of Deer Tick and BOBBY. Stream the whole thing HERE (courtesy of Paste) and buy it HERE.

MP3 | Common Prayer - "Love → A Building on Fire”

We just celebrated the first anniversary of knowing Common Prayer. Yeah, it was just a little over a year ago when we first laid ears on the single, "Us Vs. Them" and made that sucker a Jam of the Day. Then, lo and behold, we went on to put There Is A Mountain, the band's debut, on our list of the 50 Best Albums of 2010. Yeah, it was pretty much love at first listen, and our hearts continue to beat for Common Prayer.

While the band works on its sophomore effort, and we steady cross our fingers for a tour stop in Saint Louie, the foursome - Jason Sebastian Russo, Alexandra Marvar, Karen Codd and John Anderson - has released a single as part of a compilation to benefit the O+ Festival, "a three-day arts and music fest where artists barter their music, film, and visual art for free health, dental, and other wellness services donated by art-loving local doctors at a pop-up clinic."

Yeah, it's a cover of one of our favorite Talking Heads songs. Done ever so righteously. Download it below and rejoice!

Common Prayer - Love → A Building on Fire

Stream the entire O+ Festival compilation HERE.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

10 to Spin | Act As If

As a passionate fan of music, I was delighted to find Act As If's "There's a Light" earlier this year -- so much, that we at Speakers in Code made it a Pajammy Jam of the Day back in April. It's a feel-good tune, with the road ahead of us viewed as a positive one (I sooo need more songs like this in my life). If you missed our little post on that wonderful tune, well, here it is again.

Act As If is led by the multi-talented, LA-based artist Peter Verdell, a songwriter blessed with a great voice and a unique sense of imagery in his lyrics. I'd highly recommend purchasing a copy of their debut LP, There's a Light, if you want to find a new favorite batch of songs. Or, maybe you just want to smile. That works, too.

Today, we're proud to bring you Verdell's song selections for the latest 10 to Spin at SIC. You're gonna want to get in your car, roll down the windows, and find the nearest freeway. Here's another soundtrack to your summer.

"Songs I blast while driving through LA in the summer."

"Losing Touch" by The Killers

I would have never thought that my favorite Killers song would come from their 3rd studio album (Day and Age), but it easily takes the cake.  Something about it makes me feel really cool; I can't quite explain why.  This song + windows down + drumming on my steering wheel = yes, please.

"As Tall as Cliffs" by Margot and the Nuclear So & So's

Hand-claps galore, acoustic guitar, harmonica, beautiful (and slightly imperfect) vocals...I can never get enough of this song.  It's as close to a 'summer jam' as Margot will probably ever release...but it's enough.

"Conversation 16" by The National

I know that die-hard National fans would prefer songs off Alligator or Boxer...but High Violet is just as solid in my opinion.  "Conversation 16'" struck a chord with me the first time I heard it, and I often listen to it on repeat.  Driving toward downtown with this song blaring feels like doing warm-ups before a sports game.  It gets me psyched.

"1979" by The Smashing Pumpkins

"Junebug skipping like a stone, with the headlights pointed at the dawn"...the melody, lyrics, and beat of this song combine so perfectly...and give me an overwhelming sense of joy and freedom.  It makes me feel like there are endless possibilities to whatever I'm about to do. Classic driving song.

"Driveway" by Great Northern

Great Northern are one of my favorite local LA bands.  This is a slower song, but just epic and really pretty.  I love listening to it on the drive home from LA or Hollywood.  Dark sky, bright lights, wide open freeway.  Mmmm.

"Nuclear" by Ryan Adams

More of a daytime jam, 'Nuclear' has a really laid back, alt-country vibe.  It's so easy going  and makes me feel really good about life.  Sunglasses are on, the windows are definitely rolled down, and I'm probably thinking about girls.

"Be Healed" by Paper Route [listen]

This is my favorite track from Paper Route's Absence.  "Be Healed" is a great song to play on the drive home from any night out on the town.  If you're a little tired, or maybe thoughtful, this song will accentuate your drive in the best possible way.  And it's fun to sing.

"Speak Now" by Taylor Swift

Should I even put this down?  Probably not.  Oh well.  Taylor Swift is pretty awesome...seriously now...and this song is way too catchy.  I feel lame when I have my windows down and people pull up next to me while I'm listening to this.  But would Act As If tour with Taylor Swift if she asked?  Heck yes.

"New Way Home" by Foo Fighters

One of the first albums I fell in love with is The Colour and the Shape.  This song is the perfect ending to that album, and a great song to listen to on hot LA days.  Would Act As If tour with the Foo Fighters if they asked?  Heck yes.

"Sad Sweetheart of the Rodeo" by Harvey Danger

You remember Harvey Danger...right?  I've always thought that their first album (the one with "Flagpole Sitta" on it) is one of the most underrated indie-rock records of the 90's.  [incidentally, the first show I ever saw was Harvey Danger at a small club in downtown Olympia...and guess who opened?  Death Cab for Cutie]   Anyway, "Sad Sweetheart of the Rodeo" is a great song for a daytime drive around town.  Tambourine, organ, sarcastic lyrics, catchy chorus.  Delightful.

Jam of the Day | Matthew Ryan - Summer in the South

I want to know what it's like
To live with you
To give to you
To not be without

My mind wanders aimlessly. (Convoluted translation: I get easily excited and tend to think anything is possible no matter the circumstance or distance between myself and what I want.) I blame songwriters such as Matthew Ryan for this. They make me want things I don't/can't have. Above all, they make me want to feel what it's like to really love someone again.

When I hear a song like today's Jam of the Day, "Summer in the South," taken from Matthew Ryan's upcoming album, I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall, I get a little emotional. I guess Ryan's music has always affected me deeply, but whenever I hear something new from him, I fall for it hard. His music is only getting better as he releases each album, and I can't honestly say that about many artists these days. Each song is a gift, and my life is better off because of one simple reason: I decided to listen.

So, here's a wonderful song from his upcoming album. Stream away.

I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall will be released digitally on July 26, and in record stores on August 23rd.  Matthew Ryan will be performing at Off Broadway in Saint Louis on July 19th. Buy tickets here.

UPDATE: For the next 24 hrs, I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall is available digitally for the low price of $5! Click here to purchase/download.

Matthew Ryan - Summer in the South

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Perfect Mixtape | Speakers + Summer 2011

Photo by Katie Guymon

It's that special time again: the first day of summer. And, just like last year, we are celebrating the longest day of the year by gifting you with a special mix: Speakers + Summer Volume 2. We've handpicked tunes that, to us, scream and holler summer and put them in one handy dandy download perfect for poolside cranking. Until those autumn breezes start to cool everything off once again...

But, let's not think about that just yet. Let's think about sixteen summer songs, just a click away.

Speakers + Summer Volume 2 [download HERE]:
1 The Blind Eyes - Hermetically Sealed
2 I'm From Barcelona - Always Spring
3 Toro y Moi - New Beat
4 Generationals - Ten Twenty Ten
5 The Elected - Born to Love You
6 Foster the People - I Would Do Anything For You
7 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - Vocal Chords
8 Fucked Up - The Other Shoe
9 Destroyer - Chinatown
10 GIVERS - Ceiling of Plankton
11 The Black Lips - New Direction
12 Washed Out - Eyes Be Closed
13 My Morning Jacket - Circuital
14 The Dodos - Don't Stop
15 Matt Nathanson - Faster
16 Katie Herzig - Make A Noise

Album Review | Matt Nathanson - Modern Love

Speakers Rating: 89/100

Kiss quick
I got a line out the door
Who all think
they can save me

When I interviewed Matt Nathanson a few years ago, I remember him telling me that he wanted his newest album at the time, Some Mad Hope, to be the one that defined him as an artist. Of course, it eventually was a great success, with "Come On Get Higher" turning into a radio hit. The thing is, though, I'm not sure that was even the best song on the album. My vote will always go to the beautiful "Bulletproof Weeks." But hey, that's just me.

Fast forward a few years, and Nathanson is here again, offering a new collection of songs called Modern Love. It's mostly carefully crafted pop music, with the occasional rocker thrown in for good measure, or maybe that's just to distract you a bit. Because the real beauty of Modern Love is that it connects with the listener through love: the idea of two people being alone together, still being able to exist in the moment -- a moment where we are focused and not obsessing over objects seemingly better than ourselves.

In a sense, this idea that two people can still really love each other is defined in "Room at the End of the World," where Nathanson sings, "Sad can't catch me, or call me baby now/ When it's all I used to believe." Here, Nathanson believes that you can re-write all wrongs, you can be safe with your lover, and really, that's all that matters, right? It's a beautiful piece of pop music that still seems real -- that "one heart is never enough alone."

Later, during "Kiss Quick," we're taken into a different world (the real world, perhaps?) where the transient nature of the human race is mocked. We're no longer holding each other, sweating with each other; we're freaking disappearing, one by one, until we're all alone. Sound depressing? Well, not really. It's just the damn truth. One minute, someone wants to save you. The next, they're gone, perhaps when someone or something else "better" presents itself. Loyalty and love -- can they always unconditionally co-exist? Nathanson asks this on Modern Love.

The best song on the album, which surely will be heard by many, is the title track. It's a little cheesy with its intro, but it's also damn catchy. "Take the phone calls/ Take the circus/ Take the drama, 'cause baby, it's just worthless," Natahnson sings. Again, the message is clear: love -- modern love -- is tricky, sometimes pointless.

What I'm getting at here is that no matter how much we need someone else to connect with in life, in the end, there's a very great possibility that loneliness is what's lurking in the end. The idea of "forever" isn't what rings true on this record; it's more that we need to embrace the moments that we're together, even if they can't or won't last until the end of time. And sometimes, that has to be enough.

Jam of the Day | Active Child - Playing House

Active Child’s new single “Playing House” has been receiving a lot of love online since it dropped last Tuesday, but we just want to remind all you readers that we were giving choirboy-turned-indie-pop musician Pat Grossi props since we checked him out at last year's Hopscotch Music Festival. On that particular night, he and his harp had a midnight time-slot, jammed into the corner of a packed restaurant, but the performance was magical enough to convey the music's raw and ethereal power, despite the location.

Grossi's debut collection of songs, the Curtis Lane EP, featured the same use of various ’80s-tinged synths to create celestial soundscapes as our Jam of the the Day. Punctuated by crisp electronic drum samples, this lays the groundwork for Grossi’s exquisite vocals, which, with their unearthly sound and evocative lyrics, take on an enchanting, hymnal quality.

Active Child has announced the release of his debut album You Are All I See on August 23, and as a preview, check out our Jam of the Day below.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Video | Clare Burson + Peter Bradley Adams at Vintage Vinyl

Photo by Katie Guymon

Last Tuesday, this here little blog hosted its first show at Off Broadway and welcomed Clare Burson and Peter Bradley Adams to Saint Louis from Brooklyn. Before the show that night, both musicians played in-stores at Vintage Vinyl.

To see the entire photo set of Burson and Adams at Vintage Vinyl, click thisaway

We took a little video of Burson performing "Baby Boy" off 2010's Silver & Ash.

Photo by Katie Guymon

Peter Bradley Adams just released a new record last week titled Between Us, and here he is performing "Katy" from the album.

Thank you to both artists for making last Tuesday so fantastic.

Jam of the Day | Cults - You Know What I Mean

Back in November of 2010, Cults were charming us with their lo-fi groove "Go Outside," a web buzz track that had the whole internet stirring and wondering if there was more auditory excellence to come from the New York City duo. Well, Ms. Follin and Mr. Oblivion have certainly been able to keep everyone's crush (including us here at Speakers In Code) going, and growing, up to and through the release of their debut self-titled LP (6/7/11, In the Name Of /Columbia). The record features the previously web-released "Go Outside," "Abducted," and "Most Wanted," but new songs lie in wait to awe listeners and affirm the belief that Cults are a musical movement to be reckoned with this year.

"You Know What I Mean," a finger snappin' 1960's throwback that somehow still feels completely unique, is one of these spectacular new tunes. The track wavers brilliantly between breeziness and clamor, and thrives on this contrasting arrangement. Follin's voice bridges an impressive range; she is simply magical in the soft moments and daring as the song closes with the peak of the crescendo. "You Know What I Mean" can cause happiness-addled swaying just as easily as it can cause hands and fists in the air. Intoxicating in so many ways, "You Know What I Mean" is a stunning effort from Cults, who are well deserving of all the praise and followers in their flock to date.

Listen to "You Know What I Mean" below. Buy Cults here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Video | Katie Herzig Performs "Wish You Well"

Photo by Jason Gonulsen
I will remember you
Not the way you left
But how you lived
And what you knew

Sorry to always be the bummer king, but hey, someone's gotta do it. Last night at the Old Rock House in Saint Louis, Katie Herzig and her band completely floored me with this performance of "Wish You Well." And by golly, Claire Indie is a freaking goddess on the cello. Sorry, I just had to get that out.

Hope you like it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lindi Ortega (The Interview)

Back in May, we made Lindi Ortega's "Little Lie" our Jam of the Day, and since, the tune has been featured in USA Today's playlist, and been talked about all over the blogosphere. We aren't surprised. Ortega's a sassy and talented artist, one that is going to win over plenty of fans in 2011.

The singer-songwriter from Toronto's debut full-length album, Little Red Boots, was recently released, and we got a chance to catch up with her over e-mail. Enjoy!

1. You've been described as "a blend of Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, and Emmylou Harris." What does that mean to you?

I think those are all very flattering descriptions. I have certainly been influenced by these wonderful artists.

2. Tell us about recording Little Red Boots. What were some of the highs and lows of the recording process?

There were no lows to be honest. It was a complete joy recording this record with the wonderful musicians and producer I got to work with. It was really a lot of fun! I loved every single moment of it!

3. If you could co-write a song with any artist, who would it be, and why?

I would love to co-write a tune with Jack White. He's done some great work with Loretta Lynn and Wanda Jackson. I think it would be so neat to see what we could come up with together.

4. Describe the music scene in Toronto. Where do you fit in as an artist?

Toronto's got a pretty good music scene. Lots of people making great music, and lots of diversity. But in all honesty, I'd say Toronto is a really tough place to make a name for yourself...or maybe it's just the case for me because of the type of music I make. I feel like I always have to work extra hard in this city. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think struggle lends itself to learning great lessons. As to where I fit...still trying to figure that out...still finding my place. I've always been a bit of a round peg in a square hole.

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

One of my favourite concerts I've been to was Band of Skulls at the Mod Club in Toronto. They just blew me away. Great songs, great stage presence...and the stage lighting was phenomenal.  It inspired me to want to put on a great show with my own thing. People go to see concerts and shows for a reason...if they wanted to just hear the record as is, they would sit at home and listen to it. People want to see something happening on that stage. Great performers and performances by others have taught me the importance of putting on a show.

Lindi Ortega - Little Lie from Last Gang Records on Vimeo.

Jam of the Day | Fucked Up - The Other Shoe

Image taken at Hopscotch 2010 by The Independent Weekly

As someone who prides myself on never listening to the radio, I have recently been forced to flip it on at the most inopportune times, now that my kid is all smart and steals my iPhone from me each time we get in the car so he can play games. This disables my ability to plug it in and listen to good music when kicking it to Grammy's house. And pretty much the only station available is a pop radio station peddling the wares of Maroon 5 and Kid Rock.

While tuning that horrible shit out, the age-old inquiry of "Why the hell do people like this stuff?" inevitability creeps in, and accessibility normally wins out before my brain moves on to why anyone would ever vote for Sarah Palin. That one never benefits from an answer.

That was a long setup. How it relates to our Jam of the Day, "The Other Shoe," by Toronto's Fucked Up, is the musical dichotomy the band's music represents. Listen to the song while reading, and you will hear that the music itself is extremely accessible and melodic, and if laid out with a typical voice, would be primed for bouncing up and down. But the vocals come from Damian "Pink Eyes" Abraham, who yells more than sings, and moshes relatively naked instead of dancing. This opens the door to the argument of whether or not the vocals detract from the simple beauty of the music, or if they lift it, creating something truly unique in the process. I opt for the later.

Check it out below, and let us know what you think. And if you like it, pick up the band's third LP David Comes Alive, which is out now via Matador.

Fucked Up - The Other Shoe

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Video | Sharon Van Etten Performs "Love More" at Bonnaroo

Don't get me wrong, Thursday at Bonnaroo was a good time. Best Coast, Wavves, Freelance Whales, Hayes Carll, and Sleigh Bells all rocked their respective tents. But, I was really looking forward to Friday morning, when Sharon Van Etten was scheduled to perform at the Which Stage, which is the second largest platform at Bonnaroo. She didn't disappoint, and even finished with her best song, "Love More," leaving us a little somber in the sun. Somber and smiling, that is.

Pajammy Jam of the Day | The Radio Dept. - A Token Of Gratitude

Please accept this
as a token
of my sincere gratitude
I'm not jokin'

Today's PJOTD is taken from last year's album by The Radio Dept, Clinging To A Scheme, but I think it sums up the last week of my life well: I have so much for which to be thankful. I met so many great people at Bonnaroo, including the person who introduced me to this song, and I was amazed by all of you who came out to the first Speakers in Code-sponsored show on Tuesday at Off Broadway. If you couldn't make it, no worries. We ain't mad atcha. Got nothin' but love for ya.

Thanks again.

The Radio Dept. - A Token Of Gratitude

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jam of the Day | Hooray For Earth - True Loves

When the aural cacophony of Hooray For Earth's "True Loves" comes full force at about thirty-five seconds in, it becomes readily apparent that the NYC quartet have a knack for showcasing a contrast of heavy beats with breezy vocal arrangements. It is this sonic dichotomy that makes the eponymous track from their debut LP (Dovecote Records) something special. While "True Loves" is pushed by booming bass drum thuds and snare rim taps, the sound of the echoed vocals lightens the mood (despite somewhat ominous lyrics) and makes it easier to find a delightfully lilting reggae bounce that is buried underneath the track's heavier layers. In a very Yeasayer-like way,"True Loves" evolves and becomes more unforgettable with each repeat play through your headphones. Intricate and dense, but still approachable, "True Loves" is a remarkable lead single from a very promising group.

Check out the primitive (horses, bows and arrows), supernatural (smoke portal? alternate dimensions? floating rocks?) video for "True Loves" below. Buy True Loves here.

Video | Buffalo Springfield Performs "I Am a Child" at Bonnaroo

Photo by Jason Gonulsen

I am a child
I'll last a while
You can't conceive
of the pleasure
in my smile

For me, Buffalo Springfield was the ultimate highlight of Bonnaroo. They played just about everything -- "On the Way Home," "Burned," "Bluebird," and "I Am a Child," which you can listen to/view below. You gotta love Neil Young's harmonica on this one; he looks so much cooler without having to sport one of those archaic holders around his neck.

Thank you, Buffalo Springfield. Some waited 43 years for this. I only waited in line for six hours.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Video | Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at Bonnaroo

This was only my second Bonnaroo, but one thing is clearly evident to me: a mid-afternoon slot isn't the easiest gig on the farm. People want to find the nearest shade tree, or maybe the closest air-conditioned tent. Music, for some, can wait until evening -- some of my fellow campers didn't even leave their camp sites until 5:00 PM each day.

But, hey, someone has to play the main stage at Bonnaroo when the sun is blazing, right? This year, I hope people were taking notes, because Grace Potter and the Nocturnals showed us all how it's supposed to be done: rock the shit out of everyone who wants to party. A special thanks goes out to guitarists Scott Tournet and Benny Yurco during "Oasis." It knocked me on my ass, and I'm still recovering. Here's proof.

Jam of the Day | Ringo Deathstarr - Imagine Hearts

Austin, Texas trio Ringo Deathstarr has been creating waves on the live front for quite some time now. The name alone sticks in your head like Crazy Glue, and their combination of head-splitting volume and short, energy-filled, enthralling performances, has become the currency of indie-rock bragging rights for those who have caught them at their best. Thus far, this combination has secured them countless spots over the last few years at SXSW, as well as supporting slots for the likes of the now defunct Voxtrot, ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, and The Dandy Warhols.

"Imagine Hearts," the opening track on their latest album, Colour Trip, recalls the glory days of noise-pop, giving current shoegaze-loving kids a glimpse at what inspired most of the bands they love today. There is definitely some of what made My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain wonderful in the background, but the added energy muddles that familiar sound into something new and truly exciting.

Listen and download below, and grab yourself a copy of Colour Trip here, folks. We should be hearing much more about them in the very near future.

Video | The Head and the Heart Performs "Rivers and Roads"

Photos by Katie Guymon

Last night, Seattle's The Head and the Heart stopped through Saint Louis after Bonnaroo to play a sold-out show at The Duck Room. Right from the get go, the room felt buzzy and alive (communal, almost?), and the six-piece treated the gig like a basement house party, not showing any signs of exhaustion from the four-day music festival from which they'd traveled.

For as heart-wrenching at the band's self-titled debut LP (now out on Sub Pop) can sometimes be, the live show sure doesn't emulate that. All six members - Josiah, Jonathan, Charity, Chris, Kenny, and Tyler - pack a wallop. Just watch the video below.

Last night, it felt like magic had been bottled in the basement of The Duck Room, at least for an hour and a half, a secret meeting of hearts (and, yes, heads), and who knows? We may never pass this way again.

Check out the rest of our Head and the Heart pictures HERE. To see pictures from the band's earlier in-store performance at Vintage Vinyl, head over to music VS man.

I think I've watched this video of set closer, "River and Roads" fifty-four times already. I love the hush that (finally!) goes over the crowd around the 0:45 mark. I adore when the percussion starts up, simple bass drum and maracas, and the audience starts hootin' and hollerin'. I get serious cold chills when Charity freaking wails on her solo at the end. "Rivers and Roads" has a little bit of that Arcade Fire "Wake Up" quality: man, does it make you wanna go out and do something. In this case specifically, mend all your broken relationships. In a world where two simple words are never flung from our mouths with ease, I think it's rather revolutionary that a mere song can elicit the extreme desire to say, "I'm sorry."

And that, my friends, is The Head and the Heart.

The Head and the Heart - "Rivers and Roads"