There's a new booker-promoter in town. Say hello to Village Green Productions, "A Philadelphia-based company that is trying to give you more reasons not to move to NYC." Here's hoping they do just that. By the looks of their kick-off party at The 941 Theater tonight, they will be doing great things.
Here's the Skinny:
It's $10 and all you can drink. Show starts at 9. Keeping with the home town feel, all bands are Philly-based and encompass numerous genres. Get there early and stay for them all: Dreamy indie-pop performed by Brown Recluse Sings and Audible. Music a little more atmospheric and ambient with Gildon Works. And of course, our favorite transplants, Jukebox the Ghost, a definite antithesis to the other bands, but should mix well. This will be a great showcase of local talent and a great start for the new bookers on the block. Hope to see you there!
Starting in mid-July, Los Angeles Indie sweethearts Earlimart, will pack their touring van full of coolers and amps for an old fashioned summer tour. In preparation, they’re releasing Hymn and Her (Buy), out on their Shout! Factory imprint Majordomo Records on July 1st. The New York Times has hailed the release as, “The thinking-man’s Wilco” which, to me, seems like a compliment from a non-Wilco fan but also, doesn’t really sound like that bad a moniker. AND, this just in: They’ve made a vow to release at least one record every fiscal year for the next 10 years. Unless they decide that they don't want to anymore. What dedication!
Check out select tour dates below.
7/19: Cafe du Nord, San Francisco, CA 8/01: Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA 8/02: Ottobar, Baltimore, MD
Sometimes a band can really surprise you. After you do this long enough, you pretty much know what to expect. When you hear a specific influence listed in a band's bio, you can almost guess what their album sounds like. Well, I have finally found a band who broke that mold. Seattle's The Apple War have created one of my favorite CD's in quite some time. The newly self released debut, Alarm Bell City, states Brit rock influences and while they are indeed evident, they are not close to what you may expect.
When I listened to this album, I expected to hear the latest incarnation of U2 and Radiohead. If you listen close enough, of course you will hear fragments of both of those bands. However, you will also hear unexpected things, such as elements of free form jazz, multi-layered vocals, organ and xylophone.
There are definitely some obvious singles, such as the infectious "Psycho Stepper," "Fifteen-Sixteen" and "Alarm Bell City." However, there are some much more ambitious songs, like the constantly changing "All Signs Point To Yes (Try, Try, Try)" and the previously mentioned jazz interludes of "Everybody's Sayin'."
The band never hits you over the head with anything. The album really is a beautiful listen that is a lot more quiet than you would expect. Due to that, this is not a disc that you can absorb in a quick listening session. It takes repeated plays to catch all of the subtleties that the band sprinkled through out and you really get out of it what you put in. Isn't that what music is about anyway?
I suppose we all owe DeVotchKa a big round of thanks for opening up the possibilities of weird, Euro-gypsy music to today's indie music fans. Or, at least, Little Miss Sunshine for bringing their music to a much larger audience. Personally, I was digging their sound well before then, but we're getting off topic here.
If not for the Big D, we probably never would have heard the interesting, dulcet sounds of E.S.L. With their mix of, amongst others, a Polish pianist, Cree cellist and crazy fiddler, E.S.L. creates a hodge podge sound of eastern European delights. Theirs is an all-star cast of musicians, comprised of Marta Jacubek-McKeever (Girl Nobody); Cris Derksen; Diona Davies (Po’Girl, Carolyn Mark, Be Good Tanyas) and Joy Mullen (The People Verses, The Doers, Greg MacPherson), with guest appearances by Duffy Driediger of Ladyhawk, and Marta's father, Irek Jaciubek, on the Polish styled Czarne Oczy.
June 3 brings the release of their debut, Eye Contact. The fact that the band currently resides in Vancouver simply reinforces my theory that Canadian musicians soon will rule the world.
When is the last time that you listened to a CD that simply was a good time, with no particular agenda, political message or angry diatribes included? Yeah, it's been quite a while for me, too. Fortunately, Alan Wilkis has the goods for what ails ya'.
Mr. Wilkis is an independent musician (record labels out there, take note, for I have no doubt this will be soon rectified) from Brooklyn who has managed to put together the most "fun" album I've heard in ages. Entitled Babies Dream Big (Buy), you can tell from the first view of the cover that you're in for a good time with this one.
Now, Wilkis sent IA a very unassuming email asking that we give his CD a try. Of course, we get literally hundreds of those same requests each week and his almost went the way of the dodo since his email, though seemingly heartfelt, didn't really say anything about the music. Fortunately, Joe gave it a spin and told me I had to check it out. As usual, Joe was absolutely correct in his summation. To open the kimono a bit further, we usually only get a track or two to review and I figured I'd only listen to the first song or two before making my decision. Suffice to say, not only could I not listen to the whole thing at once, but it's been in heavy rotation on ye olde iPod ever since.
Opening with the fantastic "Burnin'," Wilkis evokes comparisons to everyone from Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder to Beck and Lenny Kravitz. He's got a semi-retro, '80s vibe, with a synth-y feel and programmed drums throughout. There's even a bit of early Prince in there on tracks like "I'm Famous." While the sound stays rooted in the dreamy sound of '80s pop, he does drift lazily about, incorporating old school rap drum beats into "Milk and Cookies," and going all 70s R&B slow burner on "I Wanna Know." And I'll be damned if he doesn't even give shout outs to Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins on the charmingly quirky "In My Dreams."
While Mr. Wilkins arguably could work on his own self-promotion efforts, he's certainly got his own delightful brand of music down pat. Babies Dream Big is bound to start your summer off on the best foot possible, and that's a damn fine thing there.
Hello atmospheric, experimental indie. If lead single "Fall of Rome" and the rest of their debut EP Bars and Windows are any indication, the full length from Brooklyn's Fan-Tan should be worth waiting for.
Nobody Leaves This Place Without Singing The Blues
Can a skinny, pretty, white girl sing the blues? In the case of Laura Gibson, apparently the answer is yes. Lest you be confused, I'm talking about the quietly sunny singer from Portland, Oregon, not the jewelry maker, because I'm sure many of our readers are fond of trinkets and baubles.
Our Ms. Gibson has a new tour EP that she's selling on the road and for digital download, entitled Six White Horses. Laura has culled together a fine outing of thoughtful, introspective tunes. She has no east coast dates at the moment, but hopefully she will be back later in the fall.
The vast bulk of what I write here at IA specifically is about music that a band is making. Sure, every now and then, something like Lykke Li's "Little Bit" video blows my mind, but for the most part, I stick to my wheelhouse.
Today, however, is the exception. Austin-based Full Service wrote to let us know about what is quite possibly the most interesting promo tour I've ever seen. To promote their latest, The Dig, the boys in the band are staging a month-long Takeover Tour to coincide with this summer's 311 and Snoop Dog tour rolling across America. What is a takeover tour, you may well be asking. Well, Full Service will play outside of the arena venues, before the inside concert begins, at all fourteen stops along the tour, beginning in Philadelphia July 15th and ending in Austin on August 2. The band is also booking late-night club dates in the each city after almost every takeover.
In the words of drummer Hoagman, "We were not invited by any means. This is parasitic infiltration at its best. Will it be our greatest Takeover of all time? All signs point to yes."
If that's not marketing genius, well, I don't know what is.
Ndidi Onukwulu is the latest in a long line of recent performers proving that Canada apparently has something in the water that helps those cats make some of the best music out there today. In her case, think Norah Jones, but infinitely bigger and brassier. She's just put out her sophomore LP, The Contradictor, and the jazz chanteuses of the world best take note, because Onukwulu is going to be making some waves. Debut single "SK Final" has a big sound, complete with a tight horn section, pounding drums and a snatch of fiery guitar here and there. She's joined by an all-star cast, including Jesse Zubot (strings/mandolin), Paul Pigat (guitars), Steve Dawson (guitars), Roey Shemesh (bass), Barry Mirochnick (drums) and Tyson Naylor (keyboards). Dawson produced the CD with Zubot producing some of the tracks. If Duffy and Amy Winehouse aren't doing it for you, I have a feeling Ms. Onukwulu will.
Calico Horse is a band from San Diego that creates hauntingly cheerful music. I know that doesn't seem like it should make much sense, but give them a listen and it will. In addition to releasing a new CD, Mirror, they also found time to cover Radiohead's "Idioteque." I'll leave you with "Father Feed Me" from the new CD and the previously mentioned cover.
Olympia, Washington singer/songwriter Ben Kamen creates the kind of mood music that is perfect for those interspective moments that we all have from time to time. His new EP Dreams (Buy) is exactly what you want to be listening to late at night alone. Since you can download the whole thing off of his website for free, you can. He has no East Coast dates scheduled at this point, but he will be all over the West Coast this summer.
Progressive punk ruffians, RX Bandits are out and about for the entire summer; headlining their very own US tour with Portugal the Man and Maps and Atlases. The whole procession promises to be an artsy, alternative bouquet of emerging talent. They come our mid-Atlantic way in July and they hit our new friends in San Francisco in August.
7/29: The Ottobar, Baltimore, MD 7/30: TLA, Philadelphia, PA 8/18: Slim's, San Francisco, CA
Music obviously has a number of different purposes. It can be used to evoke emotions, change minds, express opinions and affect pretty much every other damn thing on the planet. Rarely, however, is it used to convey such colorful storytelling as Christa Couture does on her sophomore LP, The Wedding Singer and the Undertaker. With a voice that readily calls to mind Ani Difranco, CC's style seems slightly more reminiscent of Joanna Newsom to me. Joanna probably is a bit more out there with her songs, but both do with their lyrics what a skilled painter does with a brush, creating a canvas that seems both all encompassing and somehow immediately familiar at the same time.
For your listening enjoyment, allow me to present to you "Sad Story Over." Over a tinkling quarter-note tack piano, interspersed strings and a steady drum line, Ms. Couture does her vivid word thing to near perfection. I particularly like the "Ha Ha Ha Ha" insertion just past the midway mark, but maybe that's just me.
This blog loves to share some great music from artists you most likely have never heard of before. I think that is one of my favorite parts of being a part of it. However, sometimes we neglect some of the artists that have now made a name for themselves. Trying to rectify that a bit, I would like to share some newly released music from a couple great bands. I would have done this sooner, but as you all know, the site was down for a couple of weeks while we switched servers. Since we are rolling again, here you go. I guess it's better late, than never.
The first song is a from the upcoming and aptly titled LP3 by Ratatat. The new CD is set to be released to the masses during the middle of July. The track is titled "Mirando" and is a little more experimental than those found on the first two releases. Is this a harbinger of what is to come? Time will only tell.
The second song is from one of my personal favorite groups. Pela are currently on their summer tour and from the looks of it, it may be their only North American tour of 2008. The fellows are set to do more recording for their upcoming sophomore release that is due sometime in early 2009. To help that wait sit a little better with their fans, they have released a previously unreleased B-side, "Good Foot On A Bad Door Step."
Blackstrap's Steal My Horses and Run (Buy) was released on May 20 and it is much more the exception, than the rule. If you like your music a little shoegaze, a little psychedelic and a lot fuzzy, you'll enjoy this.
To take a 15-year old girl’s take on this, I could sit and listen to Luke Pritchard’s voice for hours and hours. He’s so dreamy. It’s fair to say that the lead singer’s vocals and “Naive”, off their previous album Inside In/Outside In, immediately won me over. Well, The Kooks are back with their 2nd album and I’m so pumped about it. The sophomore effort, Konk (Buy), is stuffed full of unstoppable hooks, but shows a wider array of experimentation than the previous album. The Kooks are on tour this summer with The Morning Benders of Berkeley, CA, which adds up to a greasy van-load of great indie tunes and musicians. Of course, they’re only stopping in Philly, not DC, but I’ll get over it.
It seems like Minnesota has been producing a fair amount of quality bands in recent years. The latest addition to that roster is Kid Dakota, a drum and guitar duo from Minneapolis. This band may sing about some pretty dark topics, but they make them sound so damn beautiful. They just released A Winner's Shadow (Buy) and I'll leave you with a couple of tracks.
As an Ohio native, it is always nice to receive an e-mail from a quality band from the state. Such a thing happened recently, when I got a message about Cincinnati's Pomegranates. They describe their brand of indie pop as "art pop" and since bands like Modest Mouse come to mind, that is probably pretty accurate.
Their new full length Everything Is Alive (Buy) just came out and you can check out the track "Thunder Meadow."
I was impressed with London's miniblackhole a few months ago when we first heard about the one-man-band and his demos. Now that he has put out his first EP, The Firsties, I can say that I am completely sold. For starters, I love the title. For a main course, it’s seven danceable tracks of BritPop genius. For dessert, you can listen to and download the whole set for free on his MySpace page. I'll leave you with a couple of choice cuts, but you know where to find the rest.
New York's White Arrows have recently released a new EP, Hearts and Lungs (Buy). The lead track "Coming or Going" has a dirty New Wave dance feel to it that is a perfect addition to the soundtrack for your night out bar hopping.
I've been on the fence for most of the stuff I've heard from Patrick Carney's Audio Eagle label, but that's all changed with its' latest offering by Knoxville, TN's Royal Bangs. We Breed Champions (Buy) is out this month, and of course their PR folks are pimping the single "Broke Calculator," and you know what? It's pretty damn good.
It has a bit of a math-y feel and reminds me a great deal of early Grandaddy, with its spacey synths and semi-unfathomable lyrics concerning technology. Layered with pop-fueled guitars and skins, we've got the makings of a fun song to get your blood pumping. This could be the ideal song to start your summer cruising habits. Perfect for rolling down the windows, pumping up the stereo and showing off your indie cred to that damnable jock down the street that thinks he's so cool just because he's going to be starting QB AGAIN this season. Not to worry, though, we all know the really cool chicks dig the guys with kick ass musical tastes more anyway, right? Right? As long as we keep telling ourselves this, it's all going to be OK.
The band is heading out on tour and they will be hitting the region for a couple of dates in late June.
6/26: Metro Gallery, Baltimore, MD 6/27: ATM House, Philadelphia, PA
Sorry for the long layoff from my new release posts. The site was switching servers and there wasn't much that I could do. That said, we are finally back and ready to roll.
Due to the Memorial Day holiday, this is a rather slow release week. However, there are some quality releases from lesser known bands, including DC's own Julie Ocean. There are also some great remix releases for those of you that are like me and like that sort of thing.
He might be a decade removed from the Ben Fold Five self-titled release on Caroline Records, but Ben Folds remains something of a cranky old uncle to independent minded singer/ songwriters. Mr. Folds and his band will be bringing their act to the civilized confines of Wolf Trap tonight, perhaps debuting a few new tracks from his album slated for release this fall.
And by that I mean I’ve never seen the show, but the soundtrack is freaking awesome. I may show a little bias towards the track listing due to my undying love of Page France’s adorability and That 1 Guy’s sheer, uncompromising genius. But, in the name of what seems to be a show about a scandalous suburban woman: I do what I want.
Lionsgate Pictures announced the digital release of the Weeds Season Three Soundtrack (Buy) on June 3. A showcase of some of the indie genre's most promising talent and artistry, the release will be followed by SHO.com’s exclusive sale of the CD. Shortly thereafter, there will be a wide retail release.
Los Angeles 7-piece I Make This Sound create the brand of sunshiney pop that you would expect from a band that hails from southern California. They mix muli-part vocals with intricate layering and create a soundtrack that is perfect for your summer BBQ. Their new EP Staring at Yourself (Buy) is out now.
Starting in New York and moving her way across the states, Jaymay offers a few major cities her spooky vocals and pensive lyrics for two weeks this summer. Co-headlining will be special guests, the English blues dramatists, Fink. Jaymay’s debut album, Autumn Fallin’ (Buy), available now, mixes a jazzy folk with an invitation to seriously slow down and listen. She’s currently in Europe with Bon Iver and Jens Lekman, putting her at the very top of the dreamy, indie folk game. Plus, her name's just so much fun to say.
6/11: Tin Angel, Philadelphia, PA 6/12: IOTA, Arlington, VA 6/19: Café du Nord, San Francisco, CA
A few years ago, the City of Chicago put together a pretty cool mp3 project for Millennium Park. Anyone could download the thing and essentially have his/her own narrated walking tour of the park. The Windy City's own Radius (aka Ramon Norwood) arguably has done one better with his latest, Neighborhood Suicide. Radius has put together an instrumental album highlighting the city by the lake's neighborhoods. Think a hip-hop version of Sufjan Stevens' Illinoise.
Radius' music is in the vein of other such luminaries as J Dilla and Madlib, creating all his tunes with an MPC digital sampler. All of the tracks center on various Chi-town neighborhoods and do a good job of actually imparting the feel of the areas.
On the brink of a full-scale national tour with instrumentalists Unwed Sailor, Chicago based female-fronted psychedelics, Sybris, start things off with the release of their new cd Into the Trees (Buy), that is out now on Absolutely Kosher. Aside from being a terrific band, any band sporting such a bad ass female lead singer, gets extra percentage points in my book. Sybris is at an even 120%.
5/29: Rickhsaw Stop, San Francisco, CA 6/20: Northstar, Philadelphia, PA 6/22: DC9, Washington, DC
Here's their video for "Best Day in History Ever."
Robert Francis has just released a new video for his song "Little Girl." This delightful folk-pop song comes from his debut album One By One (Buy). It is great to listen to whenever you need some soothing vocals to get you to your happy place. The video is shot chronologically backwards, a la Memento.
Francis is currently working on his sophomore release. In the meantime, enjoy the mp3 for "All Of My Trains."
Sometimes you hear music that is so heartbreakingly beautiful that you can't help being drawn to it. That is definitely the case with NYC's Bowery Boy Blue. Their CD, Stalk That Myth, plays like a lo-fi Americana orchestra. Touching vocals delivered in a way that you can't get out of your head, layered instrumentation... it's all there. Take a listen to "Come Closer, Sisters" and hear for yourself.
Flemish Eye Canadian Recording Artists, Women, announce the July 8th release of their 10-song, self titled debut album. Recorded by label-mate Chad VanGaalen and the band members, the album explodes out of the gates for the young band. The part light, part ominous debut flirts with a boisterous splendor and playful intricacy. Apparently, the album was recorded over 4 months on ghettoblasters and old tape machines in VanGaalen’s basement, an outdoor gutter and a crawlspace. Their first single, “Black Rice”, a 50’s throw back featuring a glockenspiel and smooth, reverb-covered vocals, proves perfect for any summer play list. Plus, their name makes me laugh.
After a few days of figuring out a new server and everything, we are finally back. There are still a couple of things to work out, but things are just about back to normal. Actually, it is going to be better than normal soon, very soon.
Anyway, it is the unofficial start of summer. For those of you not heading to your vacation spot of choice, there are some great shows to see. Here's the breakdown:
The long weekend is almost here. A few acts are doing the I-95 shuffle starting on Thursday.
From Montreal, Islands are back with a new album Arm's Way. They seem to now be more obsessed with rebirth than death. Their songs are more accesible, full of hooks and melodies, but retain their previous incarnations (Unicorns) eccentricities. Magic, their tourmates, are from Toronto and best described as "Weirdo campy lo-fi 70s era rock". Also on the bill for the area show, a comedy troupe from New York, Street Carnage.
5/22: DC @ Black Cat 5/23: Philly @ First Unitarian Church
Playing the exact opposite venues is the extremely influential Vic Chesnutt. Artists from R.E.M. to Madonna drop his name as a favorite. His new album was recorded with his supporting act, Silver Mt Zion, featuring former members of God Speed You Black Emperor, and Fugazi's Guy Picciotto.
5/22: Philly @ First Unitarian Church 5/23: DC @ Black Cat
Not quite doing a back to back, but close enough is the synth-pop-New Wave-Psychedelic total sonic experience of Black Moth Super Rainbow. You may feel like you are on an acid trip without even taking a tab. Along for the ride is the equally eccentric Subtle, a hip-hop act with a full band, a la The Roots.
It's the weekend again. You know what that means, a ton of shows to choose from.
If you aren't going to either of The Black shows (Kids or Keys) Friday, there are plenty of other options. A few shows are pulling back-to-back nights, starting in DC Friday and landing in Philly on Saturday. Back in September, Local H was on tour with a set full of B-Sides and unreleased music. Now with a new album just released, they are back in the area supported by Lions from Austin. Local act in DC is CTC and Twelve-Twenty in Philly.
5/16: DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel 5/17: Philly @ The Khyber
Black Kids have been touring around with Cut Copy and they are going to be all over the region the next couple of days. Tonight in DC, there is even a free after party with an open bar that features DJs and Cut Copy. You can RSVP here.
To celebrate the tour, we have a pair of tickets for Saturday's Baltimore show. To win them, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your name and location. The winner will be contacted by the end of the week. Good luck.
Tour Dates: 5/15/08: Black Cat, Washington, DC+ 5/16/08: World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA (XPN Free at Noon)* RSVP Link 5/16/08: Pure, Philadelphia, PA+ 5/17/08: Sonar, Baltimore, MD#
+ Cut Copy, Black Kids, Mobius Band * Black Kids Only, w/ Does It Offend You, Yeah? Free lunch time show # Cut Copy, Black Kids, Ponytail
Still touring on the success of the 2006 release Anti-Anti, Atlanta-based Snowden (signed to Wilmington's own Jade Tree Records) have come a long way since I saw them at the tiny Continental Club in Austin back in '06. Recently touring with Kings of Leon, they had to push back recording their next album. At the show, make sure to check out the bass player. She is a show in herself.
Joining them for the tour is Mississippians Colour Revolt supporting a new album, Plunder, Beg and Curse. Things must be going much better than a year ago when they got their vehicle and gear stolen in Texas right before SXSW (most was recovered). Slighty infused with southern rock, but nothing that will make you feel like screaming "Freebird".
Also on the bill are regional favorites The Epochs. Bellflur joins the mix at the DC show.
5/13: DC @ Rock and Roll Hotel 5/14: Philly @ North Star *Special All Ages Show*
The Black Keys are in the area with their gritty rocking blues sound. Hope you already got your tickets for the DC dates. If not, there are still some left in Philly. Below is a cover of Captain Beefheart's "I'm Glad", very reminiscent of their earlier albums. Maybe they will dish it out at the show as well.
5/12: DC @ 9:30 *SOLD OUT* 5/13: DC @ 9:30 *SOLD OUT* 5/16: Philly @ Electric Factory
Yeah, The Cure are in the area, but there is a hell of a lot going on elsewhere too. Several other huge acts are gracing us with their presence. Saturday in Atlantic City at the House of Blues is chanteuse Regina Spektor. Or if you like Kanye West and N.E.R.D., warm the Nissan Pavilion stage up Saturday before the big show Sunday. And of course, Radiohead is in Northern Virginia Sunday at Nissan. Opening is Liars.
Liars - Army of Me (Bjork Cover, thanks to Stereogum)
Is country infused Southern-rock your thing? Then check out two shows (Friday and Saturday) at the 9:30 Club in DC by the Drive-By Truckers. They are joined by another southern band, The Dexateens.
Friday night in Philly at The Fire, see Come On Caboose, a four-piece from Ohio that will be out spreading their music all summer long. Down in Baltimore, Pete Francis and Matt Pond PA share the stage at Ottobar. In the District, catch The Parlor Mob at the Rock and Roll Hotel fresh off a Philly show Thurday and a new album!
Saturday, it's a Philly local show at Johnny Brendas featuring a CD release by Aunt Dracula and one of the best local bands to see live, Papertrigger. Baltimore band Thrushes is throwing its own CD release the same night at Metro Gallery. Also playing is Deaf Leaf Echo, and Sonadors.
Finally, the weekend is here. And I have been waiting for this specific weekend for well over a year. Friday and Saturday, Robert Smith leads The Cure through the IA area. If it is anything like the last concert I saw of them, it will be pre-'89 heavy. Maybe 5 songs from the 90s, then the rest a Cure fan's dream. Joe is hoping for "A Forest." I'll be happy with "The Hanging Garden." What am I saying, I'll be happy with anything. Check out the new single "The Only One" streaming on their website.
To further the '80s enjoyment Saturday night, check out the best Smiths tribute band locally (Baltimore-based) and probably nationwide, Girlfriend In A Coma at The Khyber. Listen to their version of "This Charming Man" and see the performance of "Ask" below. The video quality isn't the best, but you get the idea.
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