May 202009

Calexico are one of those rare groups who are perhaps more famous for the work they’ve done with other artists than on the strength of their own work.  They released an album with Iron and Wine, they featured prominately on the soundtrack to the Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There and they’ve contributed music to several compilations.

This is unsuprising, since they’re one of the most musically talented and interesting bands in the country.  They effortlessly blend Tejano, Country, and Rock music into an energetic and compelling mix that could only come from the American Southwest.

Here they are in 2006 performing their song doing a cover of Love’s song “Alone Again Or”:

May 192009

Sasquatch Preview: Ra Ra Riot

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I saw these guys open for Death Cab for Cutie a few weeks ago.  Before that they were in the large group of artists that I’d “heard of but never heard”.

Oh man, I was blown away.  Charismatic stage presence combined with catchy, intelligent pop-rock?  Score!

Here’s their set from this year’s Noise Pop festival in San Francisco, California.

Speaking of which, how awesome is it that Noise Pop put a bunch of full sets from the 2009 festival up on YouTube? I submit that it is crazy awesome. Check the sets out at the Noise Pop YouTube channel and drop a comment letting them know how awesome they are.

Ra Ra Riot will be playing the Yeti Stage at 6:30 PM on Saturday, May 23rd.

Feb 172009

Tuesday Playlist for 2008.2.17

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Intro: This week’s column may be a bit monotonic since the music part of my brain is completely stuffed full of a potent combination of Power+Light and Sasquatch! Festival excitement.  That being said, I’ll probably also mention the new Morrissey album, though only in passing.

But enough of the preview…

Listening: So, I got the new Morrissey album, Years of Refusal in .mp3 download format.  (Which, BTW, is on sale today at Amazon.com for just $4.  Helluva deal, that.)  It came out a day later than the CD, so I only just got it today and haven’t had much of a chance to listen to it yet.  What I’ve heard, though, I like a great deal.

Other than that, I’ve still been totally digging on Power+Light.  It’s embarrassing how addicted I am to it.  I listen to music about eight to ten hours a day, and for the past two weeks not a day has gone by where half of that time or more is devoted to that EP.  It’s crazy good.  If you haven’t heard it yet, PLEASE go give it a listen.

Oh, and I also grabbed the new M. Ward album today, but I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet.

Upcoming: As mentioned above, Morrissey and M Ward have new albums out today.  In the next few weeks, look forward to new material from JJ Cale, Hatebreed, U2, and Neko Case.  (Random aside: the Neko Case, Middle Cyclone, sports some of my favorite album art in a long time.)

Thinking: 1.) In bands whose name is [Definite Article] [Noun], should the definite article be capitalized?  Should it be (e.g.) the Rakes or The Rakes?

2.) Sasquatch Festival!  As I’ll expound below, the lineup’s been announced and I am crazy stoked.  I’ve already started plotting with my good friend and long-time Sasquatch ally Mike, and the concensus is that this year’s festival is going to be a month’s worth of awesome crammed into a 3-day weekend.

News: The Sasquatch! Festival lineup has been announced!  Or at least according to the super-awesome unofficial Sasquatch Festival blog.  The main Sasquatch site for 2009 isn’t up yet, but I imagine it will be within the next day or two.  I’m extremely stoked about the fact that this year will see the return of Nine Inch Nails, The Decemberists, TV on the Radio, Calexico, and others.  Among the fresh new faces that I’m happy to see are A. A. Bondy, Silversun Pickups, Gogol Bordello, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

It should be noted that every place carrying the lineup also carries the wording “…and more to come” or equivalent, so there’s strong potential for even more awesome.  (Rumors abound that Sasquatch veterans Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins might added to the lineup.)

Tickets will be sold in the tiered pricing scheme of previous years, with cheap (~$155) 3-day passes going on sale the weekend of the 28th and prices going up from there.  It should be noted that these cheapest tickets will be on sale for ONE WEEKEND ONLY.  So if you want to save at least $40 on three days of Sasquatch awesomeness, then I strongly encourage you to get them then.

If anyone’s planning to attend and wants to meet up, drop me a line in comments.

Song of the Week: One of the many Josh Ritter songs I discovered a few weeks ago during my binge was this off of his album The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter.  It’s called “Mind’s Eye” and I think it’s crazy awesome.

Feb 102009

Tuesday Playlist for 2009.2.10

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Intro: I have a lot of fawning and squeeing to do this week, so let’s just get right to it.

Listening: So my entire playlist for the past week has pretty much been 50 Foot Wave’s Power+Light EP and the new Franz Ferdinand album.  The Franz Ferdinand album, well, I want to love it, but so far it’s felt like listening to either of the Scottish rockers’ first two albums: really good at times, yes.  And even what’s not excellent is at least fun, well-crafted, twee-ish rock.  But, see, I’m having a hard time really falling in love with it, because I have a hard time listening to it all the way through at the moment.

That’s largely because I have a hard time going an hour without listening to Power+Light.  I seriously think I need an intervention.  It’s brilliant.  I think it’s the best thing that 50 Foot Wave have done.  It’s grunge-y, noisy rock music not just done right, but done sublimely.  It’s 26 minutes of well-structured, energetic cacophony.

And the icy on this dark, fuzzy cake of rock awesome?  The band is streaming the whole thing right now, for free.  Go click on that link.  Now.  Go do it.  Listen.  This is what Noise Rock should sound like.  Kristin Hersh’s caterwaul vocals, Victor Laurence’s haunting cello, Bernard Georges’ thundering bass, and Rob Ahlers’ drum work (at times clockwork-precise and at others blistering and messy) combine to make a truly epic and truly genius piece of work.  It’s music like this that made me stop rating things on a zero-to-ten scale.  Because this is an eleven with a bullet and a bag of broken glass and a guitar cabinet with pencils jammed in it, Link-Wray-style.  Which I guess is my way of saying that it defies rating, but suffice it to say: it’s good.

Seriously, folks: Go. Listen.

I may have more thoughts about Franz Ferdinand next week, if Power+Light sees fit to release me for long enough to listen to it.  We’ll see.

Upcoming: Well, there’s that new Moz album coming out next week, which is cool.  For those of you who like your band names unecessarily long and emo, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead are coming out with a new album next week.  M. Ward and Architecture in Helsinki will also be coming out with albums next Tuesday, which excites me.

Beyond that, it looks like it’ll be March before anything else intriguing comes out.  The first week in March will see new material from Neko Case and U2.

Thinking: So, I’ve been thinking a lot about the CDs lately.  I almost never buy CDs anymore.  Only if an album really grabs me or I want to give one as a gift do I buy a CD.  Instead, all my music gets purchased through various digital music retailers (mostly Amazon.)  And until recently, I’ve been pretty sure that CDs would go the way of casettes (as opposed to the way of LPs, which are still around and still being pressed by contemporary artists.)  But it occurs to me that there will probably always be SOME market for nicely-packaged, physical instantiations of a particular album.

One reason for this is one I mentioned above: gifts.  While it’s all good and well to give a person an iTunes gift card, but it’s a more powerful gesture to lay in their hands an album that you want them to hear and to have.  And let’s face it, my hand-writing sucks and my home-made copies of albums always look tacky (even when I try to do them up fancy, which is rare.)  I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

Another reason is an analogous one to what’s kept LPs around so long: collectors.  Many people like having a physical record of their music collection.  True-fans will definitely pay more for limited-run tokens of their favorite band, and will shell out extra money for well-designed, well-made physical media.  A perfect example of this is Trent Reznor’s success with Ghosts I-IV.  Some of it was available for free (9 of 36 tracks) by digital download.  The whole album was available for download cheap ($5).  On CDs for a little more ($10).  A deluxe edition with a DVD, CDs, downloads, and some other extras was available for about what a good box set costs ($75).  And then there was the limited run of 2500 Ultra-Deluxe edition packages which sold for $300 each.  Those Ultra-Deluxe editions sold out.  $300 x 2500 = $750,000.

Collectors will pay more for nice physical goods.

So now that I’ve done some thinking, I think it will, at the very least, be a long while before we see the end of CDs.  And when we do it won’t be because the Internet music revolution killed them, but because we’ve found a better form of physical music media.

News: Right, well no lineup yet, but at least we have a date for the lineup announcement.  Courtesy of the Sasquatch Music Festival blog:

“Memorial Day Weekend | May 23, 24, 25, 2009
The Gorge | Quincy, WA

Line-up to be announced Tuesday, February 17”

So, you can probably guess what next week’s column will be all about: squeeing over the Sasquatch lineup.

In other news there, uh, really wasn’t much other news, other than the Rihanna allegedly getting abused by her thug of a boyfriend.  Not a fan of her music, but still, here’s wishing her a speedy recovery.

Song of the Week: At the risk of sounding sycophantic or redundant, 50 Foot Wave, Power+LightGo Listen.

Feb 042009

Intro: Well, we’re back after last week’s bout of suckitude.  Sorry about that, folks.  I’ll try to be better about updating in the future.  Now if I can only get around to actually updating that other blog of mine.  Oh well, on to the column!

Listening: In addition to my recent Josh Ritter addiction, I’ve also rekindled my obsession with 50 Foot Wave.  It’s probably no secret by now that I’m a fan of both crunchy, noisy rock music and of Kristin Hersh, so the Hersh-fronted power trio is pretty much right up my alley.  Songs like “Animal” off their Free Music EP or “Clara Bow” off of Golden Ocean pretty much hit all of my “get on up and dance” buttons.  Which makes it just a little awkward that I’ve been listening to 50 Foot Wave at work.

I’ve also recently acquired the new Franz Ferdinand album (Tonight: Franz Ferdinand), but haven’t had much of a chance to listen to it yet.

Upcoming: Honestly, I’m having kind of a hard time getting excited about anything coming up, other than the new Morrissey album which is out on the 16th.  But, if Moz’s fop-rocking ways aren’t quite your thing, or if the middle-aged Mancunian minstrel isn’t enough for you, then there’s also albums out today from The Fray, The Young Dubliners, and The Von Bondies.

Coming up in the next few weeks are releases from Dan Auerbach and Ben Lee.

Thinking: My most frequent music-related thought these past couple weeks has been some variation on “where the hell’s the lineup for Sasquatch?!”  Seriously, waiting until February to announce their lineup?  It’s almost as if they know I’m going to buy a ticket no matter who they get to play . . .  Of course, the rumor is that John Vanderslice will be playing this year, which (if true) is reason enough for me to go.  One of the best shows I’ve been to in my life was John Vanderslice at the Detour here in Spokane.  It was a cozy little venue and he gave a great show.  I ambushed him after the show to do the classic sycophantic fan schtick and, being the patient man that he is, he introduced himself and hung out to chat for a few minutes.  I was totally being That Guy, and yet he was not only patient enough to talk to me, he seemed genuinely interested in meeting me and in talking about his music and his tour.

Basically John Vanderslice is not only an amazing musician, but also a total class act as a person, as well.  A rumor of him playing at Sasquatch is definitely a Good Thing.

Other rumors regarding the line up are pretty thin on the ground, but the unofficial Sasquatch Festival Blog is probably the best place for them.

News: Speaking of Music Festivals, it looks like the lineup for Bonnaroo has been announced, as has the lineup for Coachella.  Some awesome stuff in both sets, but it looks like Bonnaroo is playing hard for the “Best Festival Lineup of the Season” award. I mean, c’mon, the Boss, The Decemberists, Andrew Bird, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wilco, Nine Inch Nails, David Byrne, Elvis Costello, Niko Case, Brett Dennen, A. A. Bondy, . . .  I would go on, but I think I damn near ODed on awesome just from that fraction of the list alone.  Shit, anyone want to head out to Tennessee in June?

In much sadder news, 50 years ago, the music died.  A small aircraft carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa.  There were no survivors.  All three were fantastic musicians and rock pioneers.  Here’s a recording of Buddy Holly (with the Crickets) with their first big hit, “That’ll Be the Day”:

Resquiescant in pace.

Song of the Week: Here’s a great recording of 50 Foot Wave performing “Your Ghost”, originally made famous by Kristin Hersh in her solo days.

Jun 102008

Sasquatch! Photos Posted

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I meant to blog this before, but my photos from Sasquatch! Festival are up over on my Flickr page.  They don’t have any descriptions or context at the moment, but hopefully I’ll get them all labeled and described here pretty soon.  (It’ll be a bit of a task, since there’s 154 of them.)  Favorite picture of the set is probably this one of some of the guys from Death Cab For Cutie.

Anyway, feel free to browse and enjoy.  Sorry for the poor quality on some of them.  I literally just dumped them from my camera right into my Flickr upload program and pushed the whole batch up.  I’ll probably take down some of the blurriest/worst ones when I get around to comments and labeling all of them.

Also, my camera doesn’t do that well in the dark, so a lot of the shots taken after sundown are a bit on the sucky side.

May 282008

Okay, so I’m a bit tired (just got back from seeing the new Indiana Jones movie with Meagan), so tonights review will actually be just kind of highlights of the best and worst of the festival.  A more full-fledged review will hopefully happen within the next few days.  So without further ado, here are the Fifty-Two Tuesdays Editor’s Choice Awards for Sasquatch! Festival 2008.

Best Stage Presence: The Presidents of the United States of America – Man, these guys were all over the stage, interacting with the audience and seemed genuinely excited to be performing for fans.  They were engaged and bantery while still playing tons of great tunes.  They also had a great mix of new songs and old classics.  They were animated and obviously enjoyed being there.

Best Single Song: The Cure, “Lovesong” – They exploded into this one and just gave an absolutely stellar performance.  They definitely fed off the crowd’s energy at hearing what is, basically, THE definitive Cure song.  It was energetic and lively, in contrast to a lot of other parts of their set.  The mixing problems that plagued the rest of their set (see below) seemed to die away for a few minutes and all that was left were those mopey goth fops doing their level best to rock the hell out of the crowd.  It was awesome.

Most Disappointing Set: The Cure – Now, let me start by saying that part of the reason for this is that I went in with some pretty high hopes.  I’ve been a Cure fan for ages (I first heard “Love Cats” and a few other tunes when I was in about 6th grade and was hooked), and this was my first time seeing them, so I was hugely excited.  Unfortunately the set was plagued by mixing problems (at times the guitars drowned out everything, other times you couldn’t even make out the melody line) and the band decided to trade energy for duration.  This meant that they seemed to kind of limp their way through some songs, just so they could kind of thump along until they got to the real crowd-pleasers.  All in all, they were on stage playing for around two and a half hours, so I can’t fault them on endurance, I just would have liked a little more interest and energy at times.  Still, though, it was a good set, just not as brilliant as I’d been hoping.  It could be just a function of my high expectations, but I think there was more too it than that.

Worst Performance by a Main Stage Band: M.I.A – I didn’t pay $65 + fees and drive two hours to watch a bunch of random inebriates dance to a drum machine while shitty computer graphics played around them.  For that I can wander over to the Star on Karaoke Thursdays.  Seriously, grabbing 150 random folks from the pit to dance on stage while you gyrate and mumble indistinctly?  That’s not entertaining.  Hell, that’s not even square with the fire codes.

Best New Discovery: White Rabbits – Incredible energy, interesting sound and instrumentation, and clever catchy lyrics (“But you won’t find the Devil in Stanford town”) made this 6-piece, New-York-based Indie Rock Band’s set a real pleasure to catch.  Check them out at their MySpace.  They also apparently have a full-length album out, which I’ll be quite interested to hear.

Best in Show: R.E.M – Michael Stipe in the boys were simply amazing.  Great energy, insanely good musicianship, and a commanding, charismatic stage presence.  I started the set as a casual enjoyer of R.E.M’s music and left it a rabid fanboy.  I now not just want but need their newest album, Accelerate.  I pondered the idea of grabbing a poster on my way past the merch booth later that night (but alas, was strapped for cash).  They may seriously have taken a casual listener and turned him into a True Fan.  From Michael Stipe’s effortlessly charming vocals and stage antics to Peter Buck and Mike Mills’ instrumental virtuosity, it was, simply put, everything that a live show should be.

May 272008

Back

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Sasquatch! Festival was AMAZING.  Full review of the show to follow tonight, but seriously, an absolutely brilliant way to spend Memorial day weekend.  Now, I’m going to finish unpacking my van and get some much-needed work down.

May 222008

Sasquatch! Festival Preview 8

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Well, Sasquatch! is just around the corner. Here’s another band that’ll be rocking the Sasquatch! Mainstage (Saturday, 8:15pm, just ahead of the Cure). This is Death Cab for Cutie performing “Title and Registration” off of Transatlanticism.

May 202008

Sasquatch! Festival Preview 6

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Here’s Modest Mouse (Saturday, 8:15pm, Sasquatch! Mainstage) performing “Float On” off of Good News for People Who Love Bad News: