Friday, April 28, 2006

Concerts With Brian

Today we have a special concert review from A4D correspondent Brian, an old friend and roommate who taught me to love Zepplin and not so much Rush.

Hello all. My name is Brian, and I'll be your server today. Last week, I went to see Elbow at Webster Hall here in NYC. I had first heard them a couple years back when Josh played me some tracks off of Cast of Thousands, their second album. It's a really enjoyable record, and their latest release, Leaders of the Free World, is also quite good.

But seeing them live gave me a whole new appreciation for their music, because they were easily one of the best live acts I've ever seen. Singer Guy Garvey has a brilliant, clear voice and served up plenty of British humor between songs (Elbow hail from Manchester). Opening act Cloudroom had an interesting new wave sound, but were definitely less polished then the headliners.

The show got me thinking about some of the other great concerts I've been to in my day, so here's a sampling, in no particular order:

Built to Spill - It's tough to pick a single show, since I've seen them so many times. But if I had too, I'd go with the special NYU concert they did at Irving Plaza circa 2001. I had already seen them three times on that tour, but on that particular night Superchunk opened, and they rocked the shit out of the place. It was special, because I saw Superchunk twice after that and they were never as good as that first time.

Mercury Rev - I never was a big Mercury Rev fan, but Josh is, so I heard my share of their music over the several years that we were roomies. When All is Dream was released (an album that I did rather enjoy), Josh convinced me to go with him to see their show at Irving Plaza. I'm glad I did. They really delivered.

Dada - This one was completely unexpected. I was there to see Wheat(who I had seen a couple of times before), and Dada opened. I had never heard of them before, but they completely blew me away. They are, to this day, quite possibly the tightest band I have ever seen live, and have a huge sound for a three piece. They completely outshone Wheat, whose material, in my opinion, had taken a turn for the worse. I subsequently picked up Dada's Live: Official Bootleg Vol. 1, which was recorded on that tour, and recommend it to everyone.

Grandaddy - for a bunch of sloppy looking dudes, they really execute on stage. I saw them at Warsaw in Brooklyn on the Sumday tour.

Iron and Wine - Sam Beam makes it look effortless. Saw them at Webster Hall after Woman King was released. Band of Horses opened, whose album you can see in rotation here at A4D. I like their stuff, but their live show left a little to be desired.

Corrosion of Conformity - Wow, I'm really reaching back on this one. This was circa 1998 I'd say, when The Academy was still an active venue. Original bassist Mike Dean had just rejoined the band for Deliverance, the album that started a new era for the them. Their new sound, which was just crunchy, heavy, big southern rock, was a joy to experience live. I even got involved in the mosh pit, and had the pleasure of throwing a crowd surfer to the ground after he kicked me in the head. Ah, to be 20 again.

Honorable mention goes to Mogwai, who I probably would have enjoyed more if the sheer volume of their amplifiers hadn't caved in my chest cavity and shattered my skull.

That's all for now. Maybe I can get a thread started here, as I'm sure the brothers Mueller have many a concert tale to tell.

taj mahal

first off, the links are fixed from yesterday. i forgot to put extensions on the file when i uploaded them. now time for a quick, light & bouncy pop tune to kickstart the weekend. this one is from the vaults of my radio days. "the Taj Mahal of America" by the Fly Seville was one of the first real hits following the launching of the radio station i worked at. it's success at least on the air suited me as i loved championing the bands "from back home." the group was formed by jesse blatz (no, not that jesse blatz punk rockers), who had been in a number of providence bands when i was growing up there. this is an early version of the song that was available on the Mystique benefit album.

the Fly Seville "the Taj Mahal of America"

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Whassup Wasif?

For reasons unknown to me the quite enjoyable, self-titled album from alaska (the band)'s Imaad Wasif can be found used on for less than a dollar. You can click on the album to the right in our current rotation (it's the first one) to reach Amazon.

how come you're such a hit

i'm a fan of Thursday Covers! at Hello Gina and i thought i'd offer one of my own favorite covers today. here we have one of the most tenured uk indiepop bands covering one of the most obscure (but widely praised by those who know about them). Dolly Mixture were a pop band formed in the late seventies that existed in the punk scene (members of the trio were reportedly dating members of the Damned, who in turn produced some of their material). the group released one album, Demonstration Tapes, a double album that was re-released in 95 after its original release lingered as a highly collectible record. fan pages are scattered about the internet, but one of the best aims to collect mp3s of all their songs and can be found HERE. the Boyracer cover here was included in a limited edition tour cd that the group sold at a '99 reunion performance at cmj. just as well known for their revolving door line-up as their noiser, punkier take on indiepop, the group is fronted by Stewert Anderson, who runs the 555 label and has included members of several bands like Hood and Bright Lights.

Dolly Mixture "How Come You're Such a Hit With the Boys, Jane?"

Boyracer "How Come You're Such a Hit With the Boys, Jane?"

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

music for girls

the last turn of the century seems to be the critical period for a lot of the music i've been listening to lately. this is one of the finest songs from that time, off the album (technically a compilation of eps and singles) You Will Have Your Revenge, and the sole reason i broke it out was in response to all the reviews i had been reading regarding the recent Scissor Sisters shows. feasibly the bridge between the eighties club pop like the Pet Shop Boys and the lavish gay disco of the SS, Baxendale had a lead singer that played synth (and sounded like a fey Jarvis Cocker), continually skirted the line of novelty while always being fun and hailed from the uk, where the SS initially found their success. the village voice once appropriately dubbed this song "an unapologetic meta-anthem," which works as it's a boy meets girl songs that still subconsciously challenges any notion of masculinity.

Baxendale "Music for Girls"

They're playing baseball!

This just in: Muzzle of Bees has leapfrogged over your venerable writer to capture 1st place in the blogger baseball league. He is now tied for that position with the obvious The Baseball Card Blog. So Much Silence is up two spots to number 5. I'm in 2nd and the original Audio Drunk, Jason, is in a pitiable 9th.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


piano-centric pop music...given the emergence of Ben Fold Five, when Teenbeat released the debut album of Robert Schipul six years ago, the album potentially had wings or at least a potential fanbase for those of us who enjoy what a classically trained pianist can bring to the pop world. initially winning me over with a barebones cover of the Smith's "There is a Light That Never Goes Out" on a 1999 Teenbeat compilation, the ct. native was a mere fifteen years old when the label released his debut album, the American Scene, soon aferwards. Schipul was one of only two artists the label has signed by way of a demo submission. the American Scene is really two albums for one, capturing eleven songs noticably recorded by mark robinson and trevor holland, whose poptronic nuances show up on several occasions and then the album wraps up with a collection of several sonatas. Schipul locally released a follow-up on Starlet a year afterwards and briefly showed up on the now defunct Unlike Label three years back. i can't say for sure what he's up to these days, but i wanted to revisit this album because unfortunately it did go widely unlooked by a lot of people despite being quite good. i'd be curious to hear a something new. to make up for yesterday's absence, i'm including two of the albums tracks, including one of the aforementioned sonatas.

Robert Schipul "Responsible"
"Sonata 4"

Friday, April 21, 2006

multi-family garage sale

where have you gone Alan Sutherland? Land of the Loops carries a number of A4D qualifiers. Bundle of Joy is one of my all-time favorite albums, LotL is one of several artists i'd love to hear a new album from and it was one of the most influential albums in regards to my tastes because it was one of the first i encountered that made samples, loops and beats viable in the indie world. Sutherland began in brooklyn while attending Pratt and with the project sought to capture and bring his own style to something he partly discovered was going on in Engalnd (non-dance acts making this kind of music) and also partly from the inspiration of what the band Negativland was and has been doing. when i was in new york i was passed along some unreleased material and given hope that a new record would arrive (the third following the sophmore release Puttering About a Small Land), but alas it's been rather quiet since AS got married and took a teaching job. since then, many groups have emulated the meshing of the genres to varying degrees of success (probably one of the more current comparisons would be a band like the Go! Team). this is the single that kicked things off (which was even licensed for a few commercials), released by Up Records soon after Land of the Loops emerged as one of Slabco Records cassette-only artists.

Land of the Loops "Multi-family Garage Sale (Bargain-bin mix)"

Thursday, April 20, 2006

don't you forget about me

here's another favorite discovery from the college years. Bill Ding were from chicago and like many indie bands from that area, the group seemed quite interested in meshing hints of soul and spirit of free jazz into their lo-fi industrial sounds. to some ears the bands may have had too much going on at once, seemingly going in any direction and experiementing with any convention that suited them. songs that would start off sounding like standard indierock fare would deconstruct into knob-tweaking, dischordant vibraphones and cellos and ambient noise. aside a rotation of multi-instrumentists, Bill Ding was primarily guitarist Dan Snazelle and frontman John Hughes III, founder of the Hefty label the band calls home, who more recently records under the solo project Slicker...and who, yes is the son of the movie director. the pair released a pair of albums and an ep that showcased hughes interest in more electric sounds. they never played live. it sorta makes sense as it's easy to wonder if the often non-linear recordings were ever meant to be recreated.

Bill Ding "Straight to the Head"

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

fire engine red

i almost feel like i should be embarassed by this post. this is afterall essentially prehistoric emo and one of the first signs of life in what became the emeging midwestern music scene. still i loved this album when i was in college. the offender is Departures and Landfalls by kansas city-based band Boy's Life. released in 1995 on Crank!, it had the building up of guitars and punkish vocals, only to pull back into hushed restraint thing down to a tee. their use of atmospheric sounds such a traffic, crickets and such was a fairly original touch for band that was supposed to appeal to the punk corwd at the time. it really should stand as a seminal record, sitting on some sort of "before it all went wrong" emo hall of fame with Christie Front Drive, Evergreen, Mineral and SDRE, but you don't really hear too much about them or the album (which is why i'm writing about it). curiously half the group is now in the less wrought, country hued lo-fi project Canyon.

Boy's Life "Fire Engine Red"

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

ill affliction

so a thing about mix cds and compiling this website...all too often i'll find something while making a mix, but then i'll want to use it for the website. then i undoubtably can't use it for the mix because they will have already heard it as a result and it seems less personal. such is the case with today's entry, as i was making someone a mix and i broke out Kelly Slusher's first release, an ep on Red Square Records, entitled the Lonely Leave, which was released some five years ago. i actually discovered her music via A Boy Named Thor, who she has collaborated with. the music is fragile and melancholic pop, filled with lovelorn sentiments that should instantly appeal to fans of bands like the Softies, the Cannanes and Rocketship (yet someone else she has collaborated with). there is a full length out there, released on Elefant (one of the finest overseas indiepop labels based in madrid). now you can all use the song on your mix cds and make a special someone swoon. you can also download a few more mp3s off her website and listen to a few others on her myspace page. while she hasn't released anything in some time, it looks like it may have something to do with alot of moving, after having relocated to brooklyn from philly and before that nocal. she is playing at Cakeshop in brooklyn on April 25 with Rose Melberg.

Kelly Slusher "Ill Affliction"

Monday, April 17, 2006

finian mckean giveaway

earlier this year we did a piece on former Push King Finian McKean and his album Shades Are Drawn. this month the album had a proper release on An Each For Only and has now, with help of little blogs like ours, pressed on to tackle college radio stations and national press. hopefully a tour isn't too far behind. now for the goods (yes, i know it says giveaway in the title): we are giving away copies of Shades Are Drawn. send a friendly e-mail to me at and be sure to include your name and address. the first pair i open will be receiving Shades Are Drawn from Finian. employees and relatives of employees of A4D are not eligible. well mostly i just thought that would sound cool. meanwhile, here's a repost of one of my favorite tunes thusfar this year.

Finian McKean "Oh, My Heart Is Heavy"

Friday, April 14, 2006

firecracker video

several weeks back i mentioned going to the Hot IQs video premeire. got the video to share at last. the Hot IQs are one of my favorite bands from denver. they were pals of mine from the radio station back in the day and when i moved back to colorado i discovered they had started a band...a good one at that. they are working on their sophmore release when not playing live. anyway, check out their video, starring the world's most frightening librarian.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

starry mountains

my brother's been kind enough to give me a day off. the Vanderslice set was great, with plenty of old songs mixed in with the Pixel Revolt ones. then last night i found myself at a screening of Jaws. occasionally you'll hear how some movies are meant to be seen on the big screen and now i've become a believer in that statement. i like Jaws and have seen it countless times, but seeing in the theatre with the sound intentionally cranked up was just great. know what i mean chief?

i'd like to add to josh's list of tidbits that the Boy Least Likely To (first band posted here on A4D) coincidentally is playing here in colorado on the week of our little websites one-year anniversary. funny how things work out like that. now for your music today and this one's huge...well huge if your favorite bands are the same as mine.

peanut butter and coke and vanilla infused vodka...some of the great combinations of our time...and now the Mountain Goats and Trembling Blue Stars? last week 4AD released the new Babylon Springs ep by the Mountain Goats and to the best of my knowledge it was meant to only be available (as a cd) on tour in austrailia. while it is available to download on itunes, there are certain bands who records i prefer to own in a sense that it can rest on a shelf in my apartment. thankfully, i am not one to fear overseas mail costs when it comes to things as important as John Darnielle. one of my all time favorite songwriters covering another of my all-time favorite's on the aforementioned ep and i am thrilled to get it up here for your consumption. the songs on the ep are too darn good to remain a limited import and so perhaps they will eventually show up elsewhere, but if you're as much a fan of the Mountain Goats, i'd try and hunt this one down just in case.

the Mountain Goats "Sometimes I Still Feel the Bruise"

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

5 Random Notes

1. Has anyone seen the Jaguar commercial with the Spoon song? Do you think the band got new luxury sports cars for their efforts?

2. Most people growing up want to be fireman or president. I wanted to be Indiana Jones until I wanted to be Greg Dulli. Aquarium Drunkard has some info on the new Twilight Singers album due this May.

3. Kevin broke up the Neko Case NPR concert into single serving sizes. I saw the 1st night of the tour in NYC. Neko reveled the crowd at the show with the story of a proposed side project with Kelly Hogan- "Merkin Donuts" which consists of Neko and Kelly dressed in harlequin body suits and capes. Playing bass and flute. Oh, and with Jon Rauhouse sitting on a mushroom drinking cough syrup. I wish I could paint a picture of this. Actually, if you submit your artistic renderings of that scene to me, I'll send free CDs to the one I like the most.

4. The blogger baseball league is progressing well. That is to say I'm in 2nd and Jay is in 8th. Predictibly our friends at The Baseball Card Blog are in 1st. Muzzle of Bees, powered by A-Rod, is in a respectible 3rd. You'll find the aformentioned proprieter of So Much Silence in 7th, the result of putting his faith in the Cubs pitching tandem of Prior and Wood as well as investing a pick in Roger Clemens who just might retire any day. Also of note, twmsiy* is in 5th.

5. Our friend Mocean Worker is busy working on his new album when not being dragged to court. Go make nice with him and maybe he'll forget that I keep dragging him out to whack parties.

Keys to the World

Keys to the World, the new album from Richard Ashcroft starts off interestingly enough. "Why Not Nothing" exhibits a soulful and brashy classic rock swagger. It is the decicive sound of a man attempting to make a departure from the expectations of longtime Verve fans. And it is a welcome effort. Alas, by the album's third and forth tracks, "Break The Night With Color" and ""Words Just Get In the Way," we are reminded what it was exactly that made those Verve fans so rabid. Finally the album settles into a moody and delightful compromise. I'm most happy to report that overall the new offering is a huge improvement from 2002's Human Conditions, where I felt Ashcroft got a bit lost. Here he gracefully rediscovers his own voice- shy and introspective but equally obstinate.

The new album, previously available only as an import, will arrive stateside March 21, 2006 courtesy of Virgin.

Richard Ashcroft: "Break The Night With Color"

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

the adventures of tin tin

John Vanderslice brings his Pixel Revolt tour into denver tonight, playing with the Crystal Skulls and Bad Weather California at the Hi-Dive. i've seen JV live several times now and am looking forward to another show. i first met him when MK Ultra opened for SDRE at the fox in boulder. the guy makes an amazing and quite friendly first impression. isoon after i kept bumping into him throughout the country, seeing him play in denver, new york, and austin. in fact you can find two photos of me on john's extensive photo tour diaries on his website. i interviewed him for a live performance on Radio 1190, even getting a good conversation going about music guests on the Simpsons. this recording from that session is available on his website, with a majority of everything else he's recorded. such is expected from someone so cool he posts "non-commercial audio recording, videotaping and posting of live performances is fine by me" above his tour date listings. hopefully i can get there early and convince him to play "Nikki Oh Nikki," one of my all-time favorite songs.

John Vanderslice "Amitriptyline (live at Radio 1190)"

Monday, April 10, 2006

here's where the strings come in

i've been listening to this all weekend and have been antsy to unleash it. i've had it since last week and a bunch of people have already posted it, but such is the downside of my work first, warcraft second, blog third priorities. when Owen Pallett debuted He Has A Good Home last year, the angle for most people seemed to focus on the fact that the toronto-based musician arranged the strings on the Arcade Fire album. with AF laying low so far this year, perhaps with the release of He Poos Clouds next month, Final Fantasy will shine alone. being a video game fan i can admire that he named his band after the game that is so blatantly overdone and over the top in it's expressing of everything from the story to the characters and it's attempt at basic themes. it's sort of an endearing, but nonetheless self-defacing name. or is it really bad to think or try to emulate in such an extravagant, but outrageous manner? like in the game, big and splashy somehow emerge as beautiful and as some next level shit. the supposed outline for this new album was songs about the schools of magic drawn from dungeons and dragons, performed by a string quartet and vocals, and eliciting life-avowing happiness and a sense of life's own grandiosity (hey, i only claim to report what i've read when it gets that unusual). what i really like about this particular song is the very end, which reminds me of some forgotten seventies british rock that's subtracted the theatrics from glam and just given you pomp.

Final Fantasy "Arctic Circle"

Friday, April 07, 2006

used to be so hard

every once in awhile i can't help but drag out an admittedly mediocre record and get nostalgic. my brother had mentioned this band a few weeks back and it took me this long to dig through my thousands of cds to find it, but success at last. when i moved to colorado in the mid-nineties i could only name two bands from denver. one was the Apples and the other was Spell (not to be confused with another local-centric project that also went by the name Spell, which was a collaboration between denver iconoclast Boyd Rice and former Strawberry Switchblade singer Rose McDowell). i had heard of Spell because their song was overplayed on wbru in providence the year before i moved. when i moved to colorado, any local who would sift through my record collection made a point of pulling out Mississippi from the stacks and remarking on how bad they were. i usually attested it to their fanship of the Fluid (Spell was started by their drummer) and the stark contrast between the two bands. with an album torn between the two emerging genres of their time, namely grunge and the alterna-power pop making the modern rock radio rounds, there was nothing too new at play here. every review of the album remarked on how three years were spent recording the album and if this was the end result of that kind of time, there was room for concern. nonetheless it remained a guilty pleasure in my collection if not just for this one overplayed song from my waning high school years.

Spell "Superstar"

Thursday, April 06, 2006

cross your sky

today is one of those mystery album album from the past i loved and still know very little about. Reverberation only released one album domestically, 1997's Blue Stereo Music. it was released on Taang!, the same label that released a number of Spaceman 3 albums and the connection is that the french group is lead by someone who was a member of Spaceman 3 for like five minutes...okay, one album. therefore it should come as no surprise that the drone rock and massive feedback throughout the album very blatantly states "we <3 Spaceman 3 and the Jesus and Mary Chain" and well...two of my all-time favorite bands + not so bad immitating = enjoyable listen. since then though, the only other Reverberation release i've been able to track down is an import ep of remixes by Muslimgauze.

Reverberation "Cross Your Sky"

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

i got guilt, i got fear, i got regret

lately i've found myself listening to a lot of music from my teens, mostly bored with the lack of great new releases. today i was reminiscing about providence in the early nineties on a messageboard i frequent and i recalled the brief point in time that was the success story of Morphine as they were one of the first bands to play providence's waterfront stage. there was no other group in southern new england or even the booming national alternative scene at the time that sounded anything like what they were doing and they quickly built a dedicated fanbase, becoming one of the first of several independent bands back then to sell tens of thousands of albums outside a major. by the time i picked up and moved to colorado, they were finally signed to a major and you could see a batch of underground bands who likewise pulled from sounds like blues and jazz rather the typical punk or psych influence of bands parking themselves on modern rock and college radio. they were bound to become an important band or at least most critics relished in writing about as much. then lead singer Mark Sandman died of a heart-attack on stage outside of rome and a strange thing happened...the band has basically been forgotten despite having what was easily one of the best releases of the the nineties in their sophmore release, Cure for Pain.

Morphine "I'm Free Now"

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

hey it's finally yay

with the release of the new album from The Like Young, i knew i was going to want to eventually post a Wolfie track. the twee pop of joe and amanda's old band is quite a contrast to some of the gloomier material on their new album. Awful Mess Mystery, the group's '98 debut, has itself been a perfect contrast to my hectic, exhaustive and generally uncheerful work week. it was quite a pivitol album in my college radio days. i went to see Braid and after the show the band gave me aseveral albums, one which was Wolfies. i played it alot on my show and soon after was pretty much playing twee pop all the time.

Wolfie "Hey It's Finally Yay"

Monday, April 03, 2006

this weeks chosen ones

i expect this to be a week of Flaming Lips excess on the blog circuit. i'll admit i'm on the fence on whether or not i will be picking up At War With the Mystics when it comes out on tuesday. over the course of the weekend, i saw them on letterman, saw and their new video as well as a video of wayne walking down sixth in austin in a bubble (which made the boombox experiment from when i saw him in sxsw back when seem sane). maybe i'm getting old, but the freak flag thing doesn't always do it for me. the Lips were a mainstay for me at one point through the universally agreed upon greatness of the Soft Bulletin (even though it included something that i've renamed "the Mandy Moore crying in the rain song"). then their follow-up (Yoshimi) just fell flat on me. *shrug* the Lips have had a number of covers appear on their eps. one such ep released in '94 included a live cover of Smog's "Chosen One," one of my all-time favorite songs. it's not a very spectacular version and doesn't sound very Flaming Lips-like, but i do like how he tells the lead in story that reminds you of the local music atmosphere they began in and it also helps remind me of a time when the group didn't wear costumes. it's also my sole contribution to the impending week of Flaming Lips.

the Flaming Lips "Chosen One"