Catchup Playlist! 6/6/11

Jun 6, 2011 | No Comments

OK – Finally! The only excuse I have for not posting is that sometimes life gets crazy and the first thing to get cut is blogging. I know – that should be the LAST thing to get cut! Amirite? To make up for the painful absense of the Midweek Playlist, here is a double-playlist to get your week started off right. Standouts for me include many, although “Time Forgot (To Change My Heart)” has been on repeat for several days now. “Souls of Gold” might also change your life just a little bit. Enjoy! 

    1. James Irwin – “Blue Dust”
    2. Chad VanGaalen – “Sara”
    3. Alexander – “Glimpses”
    4. Youth Lagoon – “July”
    5. Baths – “Nightly, Daily”
    6. Love Inks – “Rock On” 
    7. Sister Crayon – “Souls of Gold”
    8. Phosphorescent – “Tell My Baby (Have You Had Enough)”
    9. Cowboy and Indian – “Time and Money”
    10. Bernard Chabert – “Il Part en Californie”
    11. Thundercat – “For Love I Come”
    12. White Denim – “I’d Have It Just the Way We Were”
    13. So Many Wizards – “Fly a Kite”
    14. Mount Moriah – “Only Way Out”
    15. Big Sambo and the House Wreckers – “The Rains Came”
    16. Balam Acab – “See Birds”
    17. The Rolling Stones – “We Love You”
    18. Timber Timbre – “Woman”
    19. Jacqueline Taieb – “7 Huere du Matin”
    20. Giraffage – “A Bird In Hand”
    21. The Elected – “Babyface”
    22. Midlake – “Roscoe”
    23. Daniel Romano – “Time Forgot (To Change My Heart)”
    24. Shoreline Is  – “I’d Hear the Clouds Move”  

Écoutez et répétez:

Midweek Playlist: 5/11/11

May 11, 2011 | One Comment

This mix really goes above and beyond, IMO. I’ve had “Patience” on repeat since I heard it over the weekend.. SO GOOD.

    1. Nas & Damian Marley – “Patience”
    2. Michael Kiwanuka – “Tell Me A Tale”
    3. Grant Lee Buffalo – “The Whole Shebang”
    4. The War On Drugs – “Baby Missiles”
    5. Hooray For Earth – “True Loves”
    6. Other Lives – “For 12”
    7. Marissa Nadler – “Baby, I Will Leave You In The Morning”
    8. Archie Bell & The Drells – “Tighten up”
    9. Lou Reed – “Satellite of Love”
    10. Calhoun Tubbs – (Medley)
    11. Animal Collective – “Water Curses”
    12. T. Rex – “Cosmic Dancer”

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Show Review: Fleet Foxes at the Fox Theater, Oakland, 5/5/11

May 6, 2011 | 2 Comments

The last time Fleet Foxes played the Fox Theater in Oakland was back in April of 2009, though Robin Pecknold opened for Joanna Newsom there last August. At that point, the band was still transitioning from small indie act to the folk powerhouse they are today. Last night’s performance demonstrated that the transition is definitely over – Fleet Foxes is mature, polished and prepared to draw a huge crowd. 

It’s probably become cliche to say it, but seeing Fleet Foxes live really reinforces just what superbly talented musicians they all are. Most band members carefully swapped instruments between every “baroque harmonic pop jam” (their words), and all of the CSNY-esque harmonies were pitch-perfect.

They opened with the soft, instrumental “The Cascades” before launching into the steady momentum and shimmering flute of “Grown Ocean”. Most of the songs sounded nearly identical to the albums – typically a great problem to have – but it also meant the crazy sax at end of “The Shrine / An Argument” was just as annoying live. One huge exception to this was “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song”, which greatly benefited from a slower pace and added vocal harmonies.

The crowd reacted enthusiastically to “White Winter Hymnal” and “Mykonos”, but there was a curious lack of response to tracks I figured would get a larger reaction. One girl even asked me what song was playing during “Blue Ridge Mountains”. Really – “Blue Ridge Mountains”? Wasn’t that one of their singles? The setlist was admittedly weighted more towards Helplessness Blues than Ragged Wood or Sun Giant, so maybe folks just haven’t had time to listen to it.

Pecknold was relatively quiet throughout most of the set, expressing his gratitude to the audience and offering a few responses to some overzealous concert-goers. Despite their astounding musicianship, Fleet Foxes has yet to develop a very strong stage presence. After the Fake Last Song was over, the encore began with Pecknold on stage solo for the understated folk ballad “Silver Dagger”, which seemed to trigger more than a little crowd impatience. He was then joined by the rest of the band for the clearly requisite, soaring “Helplessness Blues”. After a few thank-you’s, they were off.

Aside from the fantastic performance, the show was also slightly unusual in that 1) someone in a full-on furry costume showed up right before they started playing (a fox, obviously), posing for inappropriate pictures with people, and 2) a guy asked me mid-show if there was going to be an intermission at some point. Um, what?

Finally, a personal note about concert etiquette: I’ve started to begrudgingly accept that people are going to talk at shows. I don’t understand why, but for some inexplicable reason there’s a certain percentage of people that will actually pay money to go see a performance and then loudly chat about their friend’s boyfriend through the whole thing. I know people probably go to shows for bands they’re not totally into, but Fleet Foxes? Fleet Foxes is not enough to get your attention? I’ve also started to realize, through a series of confrontational experiments, that people do not like to be told to be quiet at concerts. Duly noted, Chatty Kathy. Duly noted.

Fleet Foxes setlist:
1. The Cascades
2. Grown Ocean
3. Drops In The River
4. Battery Kinzie
5. Bedouin Dress
6. Sim Sala Bim
7. Mykonos
8. Your Protector
9. Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
10. White Winter Hymnal
11. Ragged Wood
12. Lorelai
13. Montezuma
14. He Doesn’t Know Why
15. The Shrine / An Argument
16. Blue Spotted Tail
17. Fake Last Song: Blue Ridge Mountains
Encore:
1. Silver Dagger
2. Helplessness Blues

Fleet Foxes: Website :: Myspace :: Twitter :: Facebook

Midweek Playlist: 5/4/11

May 4, 2011 | One Comment

So if you still haven’t heard Helplessness Blues then first, shame on you, and second, stop everything in your life right now and listen to it. “Montezuma” is the first track but there is much, much more. I’m seeing them tomorrow at the Fox so review to come.

I’m guessing the majority of people who follow this playlist just listen to it in the background, but in this case: Check out the video for “Cadillac”. As an animation fan I can tell you it is SU-PERB.

    1. Fleet Foxes – “Montezuma”
    2. We Are Trees – “Sunrise Sunset”
    3. Races – “Big Broom”
    4. Jonny – “Candyfloss”
    5. Clams Casino – “I’m God”
    6. The Vacant Lots – “Cadillac”
    7. WU LYF – “L Y F”
    8. Yesterday’s Children – “Evil Woman”
    9. Washed Out – “Eyes Be Closed”
    10. The Fling – “Wanderingfoot”
    11. Vetiver – “Rolling Sea”
    12. Thao Nguyen – “Beat (Health, Life, and Fire)”

Écoutez et répétez:

Midweek Playlist: 4/27/11

Apr 28, 2011 | One Comment

If you’re not into country then you may need to brace yourself, as this has not one but TWO country ditties (though “Ohoopee River Bottomland” is technically “country soul”). Other standouts for me include “My Lonesome”, “Call Me A Dog When I’m Gone” and “Dolphins” (not simply because I love dolphins… it’s a good song).

    1. Two Wounded Birds – “My Lonesome”
    2. Galaxy Train – “Dolphins”
    3. My Pet Saddle – “Alaskan Sun”
    4. Frank Fairfield – “Call Me A Dog When I’m Gone” (Live on KEXP)
    5. Here We Go Magic – “Hands In The Sky”
    6. Jessica Lea Mayfield – “Is This Love?”
    7. Tulsa – “Shaker”
    8. Youth Lagoon – “Cannons”
    9. Larry Jon Wilson – “Ohoopee River Bottomland”
    10. Seapony – “With You”
    11. Merle Haggard – “Workin’ Man Blues”
    12. Feist – “My Moon, My Man”

Écoutez et répétez:

Show Review: tUnE-yArDs at The Great American Music Hall, 4/26/11

Apr 27, 2011 | One Comment

The central thesis to live reviews always invariably boils down to the question “is what I heard on the album going to translate live?” Since the answer in this case is a resounding YES, I thought I’d get that part out of the way immediately. I’d even go so far as to say that if you weren’t that into Bird-Brains or W H O K I L L, seeing tUnE-yArDs live might turn you around.

Merrill Garbus is a genius on stage. There – I said it! If it sounds hyperbolic then you’ve obviously not seen her live. It’s so refreshing to witness a musician who understands that a Performance is more than wandering on stage to play a handful of hits and make a lazy reference or two to whatever city you’re in. Ideally, the audience should be able to feel your enthusiasm and not wonder whether you’d rather be somewhere else. Before starting “Fiya”, Garbus stated “This is pure joy, by the way, in case you were worried I wasn’t having a good time.” I don’t think anyone was worried.

Live looping is always more impressive to me than the slickest guitar riff or drum solo (as someone who doesn’t play an instrument, this sense of awe might be ill-founded). Though she was joined by three others on stage (Nate Brenner on bass, Matt Nelson on tenor sax and Kasy Knudsen on alto sax) Garbus herself produced the majority of what the audience was hearing, layering her own voice over itself again and again, in expressions ranging from tight harmonies to low, primal growls.

The high-notes:

      1. A good stage outfit has the power to transform what is just an ordinary concert into a PARTY. Garbus’s costume looked like something Carmen Miranda would have worn to Carnival or maybe a tea party attended by muppets. Awesome.

 

      2. At the end of “Powa”, Garbus hit a high note that caused this involuntary eruption of glee from the audience. I can only compare it to the reaction sports fans have to the word “free” at the end of the national anthem.

 

      3. Throughout “Bizness”, a chick did a pretty sweet interpretive dance on stage and then crowd surfed to the back of the GAMH during the song’s climax.

 

      4. Towards the end of the show

KM

    and I moved up to the balcony to get a better view, and witnessed the stagefloor turn into a feverish, tribal dance-off at end of “Hatari”.

Thanks again to the amazing Pam Torno for providing some truly great pics from the show! Be sure to check out the whole set over on her flickr page.

tUnE-yArDs setlist (Updated – thanks Zoë!):
1. Do You Want To Live?
2. You Yes You
3. Gangsta
4. Es-So
5. Powa
6. Fiya
7. Bizness
8. Doorstep
9. Hatari
10. Killa
Encore 1:
Real Live Flesh
My Country
Encore 2:
Wolly Wolly Gong

tUnE-yArDs: Website :: Myspace :: Twitter :: Facebook

As a Very Cool Aside: One of KM’s Artlarking colleagues, Alison, was involved in the production of the “Bizness” music video and wrote a really great blog post about the process (includes a ton of beautiful pics). She writes:

What struck me about being a small part of the process of the video was the respect each person involved had for each others art form and how everyone stepped up to create a finished product that is much bigger than the sum of its parts.

You can read the entire post over at Artlarking.

Spotlighting: Blisses B

Apr 25, 2011 | No Comments

Albums that are difficult to categorize or place in any preexisting genre are usually the most fun to listen to and the most challenging to write about. How do you define something that includes multiple styles without resorting to a laundry list of artists it “kind of” sounds like? You do it very carefully.

Thirty Days, Sixty Years is the sophomore LP from the San Francisco-based quartet Blisses B. Listening to the opening track, “Regal Goodbyes”, you’d probably peg them for another indie pop outfit in the Arcade Fire school of rock. Then the mandolin and banjo in “Valley Low” arrive, and you’re in the middle of some kind of nouveau bluegrass venture. Not content to simply switch styles from song to song, however, Blisses B takes its genre bending within individual tracks: the soft, stripped-down opening half of “I Was Around” is swiftly propelled into a high-energy, folk-rock climax.

Combining so many styles within one album or even one song could easily result in a sound that is convoluted or even contrived, but Blisses B manages to take these very different textures and construct something entirely their own. Singer Noah Libby’s incredible vocals are just rough enough around the edges to effortlessly weave these sounds together, creating an album that takes a unique, heartfelt look at the periods of time that come to define us. In their own words:

Thirty Days, Sixty Years explores the mathematical parameters that define our lives — weekends, vacations, adolescence, adulthood, the reality of how much time we have left on this earth — and the personal equations that result from the many caveats that can extend and shorten most of these time frames. Are we spending our time wisely, with the right people, and in the right place? What are we giving back?

If you’re in the bay area you can catch them in San Francisco on Friday, May 20th at Amnesia, or in Santa Cruz on Thursday, June 9th at the Crepe Place. You can listen to Thirty Days, Sixty Years in full over at their SoundCloud page, and purchase the album for only $5 on their Bandcamp page.

Blisses B: Website :: Facebook :: Bandcamp :: Twitter :: SoundCloud

Midweek Playlist: 4/20/11

Apr 20, 2011 | 2 Comments

I CANNOT stop listening to Twin Sister. If Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, New Buffalo, and Echo and the Bunnymen had a musical lovechild, I think it would sound a lot like “Meet the Frownies”. Also how did Margo Guryan only recently creep into my itunes, my life? “Sunday Morning” sounds like French 60s pop but I swear it was Made in America.

    1. Margo Guryan – “Sunday Morning”
    2. Man Man – “Life Fantastic”
    3. The Main Ingredient – “Magic Shoes”
    4. Twin Sister – “Meet the Frownies”
    5. DM Stith – “Pity Dance”
    6. Purity Ring – “Lofticries”
    7. Gardens and Villa – “Black Hills”
    8. The Middle East – “Hunger Song”
    9. Vacationer – “Trip”
    10. Canadian Winter – “City Lights”
    11. Deer Tick – “Friday XIII”
    12. The Beach Boys – “The Warmth of the Sun”

Écoutez et répétez:

A Battle of Grit: Dolly Parton vs Loretta Lynn

Apr 16, 2011 | 2 Comments

Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn are cut from the same cloth. One thing that unites them more than anything else, however, is grit. Whether it’s overcoming an impoverished childhood, sexism in the music industry, hell, sexism in LIFE, an abusive husband or the man-snatching claws of other women, these ladies have triumphed over it all and have brought the whole “not taking shit” thing to a whole new level. I respect that. Is it fair to compare their gumption, their grittiness, when I unconditionally adore them both? No. Is it fun? Yes.

YOUTH

Dolly Parton: Parton’s youth is now the stuff of legend. Raised in a one-room cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains with her 11 siblings, Dolly describes her childhood as “dirt poor”. Her introduction to music came through the church, and she began singing on local radio at nine years old.

Loretta Lynn: Raised “in a cabin on a hill in Butcher Holler” with her seven brothers and sisters, Lynn was no stranger to poverty either. After she married at 13, she stopped singing publicly to focus on starting a family, picking it up again at 24 when her husband bought her a guitar for their anniversary.

CONTROVERSY

Dolly Parton: Although some of Dolly’s recordings have been ill-received (“Down from Dover” about a pregnant, unwed teen, was banned from some radio stations) her anthology is largely inoffensive. It’s hard to be offended by “Coat of Many Colors”… unless you hate integrated clothing or poor kids being warm in winter.

Loretta Lynn: Much of Lynn’s catalog has raised eyebrows, with some claiming she’s had more banned songs than any artist in country music history. Her most controversial tracks include “The Pill”, about female liberation via birth control and “Rated X”, about the unfair treatment of divorced women.

HOME LIFE

Dolly Parton: Dolly’s personal life is pretty boring. She married her current husband Carl Dean at the age of 20, after meeting him outside a Wishy Washy Laundromat in Nashville. Though they have no children of their own, the couple has raised some of Dolly’s younger siblings. Much is made about Dean’s complete absence from the public eye, but Parton insists her husband is simply very private.

Loretta Lynn: Considering how young she wed, it’s pretty astounding that Loretta’s marriage lasted until her husband’s death in 1996. The relationship was unstable, however, with Lynn’s husband cheating on her regularly and at one point walking out while she was giving birth. Sounds rocky, but Loretta insists “he never hit me one time that I didn’t hit him back twice.” At least the abuse was dished out equally.

GRITTIEST LINES

Dolly Parton: “So with patches on my breaches and holes in both my shoes / In my coat of many colours, I hurried off to school / Just to find the others laughing and makin’ fun of me / In my coat of many colours, my mamma made for me / Oh, I couldn’t understand it, for I felt I was rich / And I told them of the love my mamma sewed in ever stitch / And I told them all the story, mamma told me while she sewed / And how my coat of many colours is worth more than all their clothes.”

Loretta Lynn: “Come on and tell me what you told my friends if you think you’re brave enough / And I’ll show you what a real woman is since you think you’re hot stuff / You’ll bite off more than you can chew if you get too cute or witty / You better move your feet if you don’t wanna eat a meal that’s called Fist City/ If you don’t wanna go to Fist City / You better detour around my town / Cause I’ll grab you by the hair of the head / And I’ll lift you off the ground.”

COLLABORATIONS

Dolly Parton: Dolly’s collaborations reach far and wide, including country music royalty such as Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Kenny Rogers and, of course, Honky Tonk Angels with Loretta Lynn. She’s also worked with contemporary artists like Brad Paisley and Billy Ray Cyrus.

Loretta Lynn: Loretta’s most recent work with Jack White on Van Lear Rose has certainly garnered the most press, but she’s also collaborated with with some of country’s biggest acts, such as Patsy Cline, Conway Twitty and Tammy Wynette.

AND THE GRITTIEST IS: Loretta Lynn. It would be a vast understatement to say this is a tough call. On the one hand you have Dolly, who was brought up in a one-room shack with her parents and 11 siblings (the Paskowitz family may be the only recent brood coming remotely close to this), navigated the music and film industries, creating a media empire around her image, and gave millions back to the impoverished community she came from. On the other, you have Loretta, who married at 13, had six kids, lost her best friend (Patsy Cline), lost her son, and, though she claimed to be suspicious of the women’s lib movement, chose to write songs that advocated for women’s rights while she was at the height of her fame. Both women have demonstrated True Grit (don’t sue me), but Loretta’s life and music are truly the grittiest of all.

Dolly Parton – “Just Because I’m a Woman”

Loretta Lynn – “The Pill”