Monday, April 30, 2007

A Big Monday

There is a lot going on for a Monday. There are several shows occurring tonight that are worth noting.

Peter Bjorn and John come to the 9:30 Club along with Fujiya & Miyagi and Au Revoir Simone. This is sure to be a pop showcase packed with your favorite hipsters.

Peter Bjorn and John- Objects Of My Affection
Fujiya & Miyagi - Photocopier
Au Revoir Simone - Fallen Snow

For those of you who are in the mood to be sort of mellow tonight, IOTA has the show for you. Locals Kitty Hawk take the stage along with The Last Town Chorus and Baltimore's Private Eleanor, who will be celebrating their CD release.

Kitty Hawk- Silence Won't Work On Me No More
The Last Town Chorus - Modern Love (Bowie Cover)
Private Eleanor - On Getting There

Last and certainly not least, is a show for those that prefer your music cranked up and a little on the experimental side. DC9 has the great Summerbirds in the Cellar joined by local favorites The Alphabetical Order. This should be a great show.

Summerbirds in the Cellar - Behold The Wolf
The Alphabetical Order - Submarines

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Summerbirds In The Cellar

This week sees an invasion of the northeast by Summerbirds in the Cellar. The band hails from Orlando and is in the midst of relocating to Athens, GA. Their music is best described as indie rock over electronic beats. Personally, I'm a big fan. You can check them out as follows:

4/30 @ DC9, DC
5/01 @ The Khyber, Philly
5/06 @ Lo-Fi Social Club, Baltimore

Behold the Wolf
The Night Thief (Demo)


Friday, April 27, 2007

The Friday Rant: The Sissification of "Punk"

I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to my introduction and subsequent love affair with punk rock. I was in my late teens, and at that time, my musical tastes leaned towards Top 40 and rap. I was a child of the 80's and I worshipped a lot of the New Wave music of that era, as well as what is now known as old school rap. One of my best friends was a punk aficionado and after months of trying, he finally got me to cave in and listen to some tracks by bands such as The Dead Kennedys, Black Flag and The Business - among others. Needless to say, I was hooked. Most of the songs were simply constructed, had an incredible energy about them and most echoed my sentiments on life, the universe, the establishment and just about everything. My decade-long tryst with radio was abruptly ended and I went on a CD buying spree that dominated my finances for years. After attending my first couple of punk shows, I got hooked on bands such as Sick Of It All, Black Train Jack, Social Distortion, NOFX, Spring Heeled Jack and The Dropkick Murphys. These bands, while falling under the "punk" moniker, were all very diverse in both sound and content. Punk sub-genres represented were ska, NYC hardcore, rockabilly and others. All of these bands had something to say, from Sick Of It All eschewing society's ills in tracks such as "Potential For a Fall" and "Scratch the Surface" to Social Distortion's laments about dealing with issues of self in the face of today's society in tracks such as "Story Of My Life" and "I Was Wrong". These songs struck a chord in me. Most of the music I was listening to at the time didn't speak to me like these bands did. I felt a connection to the music, to the bands, to the meanings behind many of the songs.

Flash forward to today. A quick genre search on an otherwise reliable music-buying website under "hardcore and punk" spits out the following bands at the top of the list: Good Charlotte, Fall Out Boy, Relient K and My Chemical Romance. Slightly further down the list are Dashboard Confessional, the All American Rejects and Modest Mouse. What in the name of Mike Ness is going on here? I had to see if other sites were using the same categorical standards, so I went surfing. Lo and behold, sites two and three had very similar search results. Perhaps in my rapidly advancing age, I had missed some new definition of what punk rock is supposed to be.

Wikipedia describes punk rock as such:

Punk rock is an anti-establishment rock music genre and movement that emerged in the mid-1970s. Preceded by a variety of protopunk music of the 1960s and early 1970s, punk rock developed between 1974 and 1977 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, where groups such as The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, and The Clash were recognized as the vanguard of a new musical movement. Punk bands, eschewing the perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock, created short, fast, hard music, with stripped-down instrumentation and often political or nihilistic lyrics. The associated punk subculture expresses youthful rebellion, distinctive clothing styles, a variety of anti-authoritarian ideologies, and a DIY (do it yourself) attitude.

I cannot say that I have spent a great deal of time studying the catalogs of the bands listed in the second paragraph. The songs that I have heard are usually very well produced. They tend to be somewhat whiny, but from what I have seen and read, the emotionally charged songs (which usually have something to do with a relationship going badly) seem to resonate with their audiences. Most of these bands are considered "emo", which is apparently short for "emotional". It is true that many of the songs I sampled were indeed emotional, but I am sorry to report that there is very little in these songs that I can call "punk".

I generally loathe society's need to classify everything - especially music. However, if you are going to do something, it should be done right. What is punk about "emo" bands? What is punk about singing song after song about girls that were mean to you and relationships that didn't work out? What is punk about wearing eyeliner and please God tell me, what is punk about squeezing into women's jeans? I swear I read something in Rolling Stone a year or so ago about prominent Warped Tour bands taking off together on tour stops on the hunt for women's jeans. These are the bands that are being labeled punk? You have got to be kidding me.

I met Sick Of It All lead singer Lou Koller backstage at a Bosstones show at the Bowery Ballroom some years ago. He told a group of us about the band's impending falling out with its major-label record company. Koller said a record company honcho wanted the band to be more "melodic". His response to the record company: "Our music is not and has never been about melody. It's about ENERGY". Shortly thereafter, Sick Of It All signed with Fat Wreck Chords - an independent label based out of San Francisco. Now THAT is what punk rock is about. Non-conformity and a refusal to water down your message.

I can already hear the cries from emo fans who will take umbrage with my assertion that their heroes are not punk rockers. To prove my point, I challenge any of you who doubt my reasoning to take a punk rock "taste test". Take any three tracks from your favorite emo bands and listen to them all in a row. Then download and listen to the following three tracks (provided herein for your listening pleasure): Leftover Crack's "Born To Die", Sick Of It All's "Potential For a Fall" and The Dropkick Murphy's "Never Alone" (these are the first three songs that come to mind and there are scores of others that would work for this test). Are you still going to tell me that the first three tracks represent punk rock? The bands I named in the second paragraph are very talented. Their songs are catchy, they create an emotional bond with their core audience and they are doing very well for themselves. But they are NOT punk bands. Some of them may have started out as punk bands, but today they are power-pop acts. There is nothing "punk" about them. Sorry, but wearing guy-liner and squeezing oneself into girls' jeans sizes doesn't make you anti-establishment. You may be a fashion trendsetter, but you are not punk.

I would also like to take issue with the term "emo". First of all, I can completely understand why so many people are drawn to "emo" bands. The songs are introspective, albeit often depressing. Many of these bands give a voice to what troubled kids around the world are feeling on a regular basis. However, do try to tell me how this genre of whiny introspection gets to lay claim to "emotional" punk. Are the songs of Social Distortion, Sick Of It All, Leftover Crack not emotional? Perhaps we need to find another moniker to group these bands under. Perhaps "depresso", "whino" or "slitmywristo". Ok, so it needs work...

To take this matter a step further, these "emo" bands have been embraced by MTV (how they can still call themselves music television, is another story) and mainstream radio. There is absolutely nothing punk about that. Punk is all about the underground and being under the radar. These guys and their fans are seen as fashion trendsetters. Their albums usually chart high with Billboard and there is generally little struggle involved.

Let me be clear on this. I do not hate Emo. It's a genre that has a huge following and I respect that. All I want, and I may be nitpicking, is a proper delineation of what is and what isn't punk. My days of going to shows and hitting the pits or skanking the night away are pretty much behind me. But even old guys like me are allowed to carry a torch for an old love - and defend its honor.

Dead Kennedys- I Fought The Law
Dropkick Murphys - Never Alone
Leftover Crack - Burn To Die
Leftover Crack - Burn Them Prisons
Operation Ivy - Knowledge
Ramones - Blitzkrieg Bop
Rancid - Roots Radicals
Sick Of It All - Potential For A Fall
Social Distortion - Story Of My Life


Thursday, April 26, 2007

DC Shows Tonight

The DC area has a plethora of shows this evening. There are four of note and they include a good bit of international flavor. So there should be a little something for everyone.

Ireland's The Frames will be making a stop at 9:30 Club tonight. Margot & the Nuclear So and So's will be opening for what should be a great evening.

The Frames - Falling Slowly
Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos - Quiet as a Mouse

Brooklyn's Pela and Iceland's Bang Gang will be playing at Rock and Roll Hotel. They will be supported by locals Metropolitan and Five Four.

Pela - Lost To The Lonesome
Bang Gang - It's Alright

Scotland's Aereogramme is playing Black Cat. They are joined by Canada's appropriately named A Northern Chorus.

Aereogramme - A Life Worth Living
A Northern Chorus - The Millions Too Many

Finally, Kristin Hersh brings her arsenal of songs to IOTA. If you are a fan of her solo material, 50FootWave or Throwing Muses, you should be quite happy.

Kristin Hersh - Winter

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

St. Vincent/John Vanderslice

For those of you that like singer/songwriters with a bit of a kick and are looking for a show to attend tonight, Rock and Roll Hotel might have something for you. St. Vincent and John Vanderslice will be hitting DC as part of their ongoing tour.

John Vanderslice has released several records in the last few years and seems to always be touring. St. Vincent is Annie Clark and she is touring in advance of her forthcoming debut CD. You may recognize her as a member of The Polyphonic Spree. However, she is pretty good in her own right and I actually like her solo stuff better than her other projects. Take a listen and see what you think.

St. Vincent - Paris Is Burning
John Vanderslice - Exodus Damage

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Dewey Beach PopFest

I have returned from a long weekend at the beach. I am pretty sure that I couldn't have sold my right arm for better weather. So the weather was good, I relaxed a little, played some golf and oh yeah, watched some bands. The highlights of the weekend were The April Skies, Telograph and Middle Distance Runner. Anybody who has any familiarity with this site, is far from shocked by that announcement. In all fairness, those were basically the only bands that represented the indie genre.

The April Skies did their thing. They played a set covering their back catalog. Then they threw a curveball and played a lively cover of The Cure's "A Forest." Complete with feedback, reverb and solid bass, it was a highlight of the weekend.

Telograph had some traffic issues heading out of DC and basically jumped right on stage, set up and played the best set that I have ever seen from them. Little Bits of Plastic was basically played in full and they also played several new songs that deliver on the promise shown on the EP. The highlight was the closer, "We Won't Settle Down."

On Saturday, Middle Distance Runner played to a rather large crowd. They played their normal set mixing new tracks and cuts from Plane in Flames. Like usual, they ended with "Man of the People." For me, that was the highlight. They were all over the stage, jumping off of risers and speakers. As far as I am concerned, that is the live song that best showcases their raw energy.

All in all, not a bad weekend. It was really a shame that I had to leave the beach and come back to work. Oh well, there is always September.

The April Skies - Here Comes The Rush
Telograph - Beneath Your Feet
Middle Distance Runner - That's A Lie

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Private Eleanor: Sweethearting

Today sees the release of Sweethearting by Baltimore's Private Eleanor. This is the bands fourth full-length and it's being released by The Beechfields. If you like subtle folk-pop that could be the soundtrack for early in the morning or a rainy day, then this album might be for you. They will also be supporting it with several live dates. In the near future, you can see them as follows:

4/30 @ IOTA, Arlington, VA *CD Release Show*
5/18 @ Golden West, Baltimore

I will leave you with a track from the new release. You can download additional mp3's and purchase the album here.

On Getting There


Friday, April 20, 2007

This Weekend at Six Points

For those of you who will be in DC this weekend, Six Points put together a sick show for IOTA tonight. Local indie pop darlings Middle Distance Runner will be joined by local indie alt country darlings These United States to create a ridiculously good bill that also includes Pittsburgh's Black Tie Revue. Ian from MDR was a founding member of BTR, so that should make for a very interesting addition to an already stellar night.

Middle Distance Runner - Man Of The People
These United States - Remember, Dear
Black Tie Revue - Absent Radio

In addition to that, Six Points also put together another solid show for tonight at the Rock and Roll Hotel. Kenna will be joined by local favorites The Dance Party, The Vita Ruins and The Sentiment. This show is sure to have the ladies out in full force.

Kenna - Out of Control
The Dance Party- Victory Will Break Your Heart
The Vita Ruins - My Last Days on Earth
The Sentiment - The Proletariat

On Saturday, Six Points put together a rocking lineup at DC9. Baltimore's Two if by Sea will be joined by locals The Roosevelt and Alfonso Velez and NYC's Bridges and Powerlines. Make sure you stop by and wish Happy Birthday to David from Two if By Sea.

Two if by Sea - Summer Borne For Sleep
The Roosevelt - Start It Over
Bridges and Powerlines - All In
Alfonso Velez - End Of The World Blues

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Spoon with The Oranges Band

The Austin invasion continues. I guess that everyone gets tired of being down there after the frivolity of SXSW. Up next from down Texas way is Spoon, the next 'It' band for several years running it seems. They are joined in the Northeast for 2 shows by Baltimore locals, The Oranges Band.

Apr 21 @ Sonar, Baltimore
Apr 22 @ Starlight Ballroom, Philly
Apr 24 @ Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ (not w/ the Oranges Band)

Spoon - I Turn My Camera On
Spoon - Merchants of Soul
The Oranges Band - If These Stars Are Struck
The Oranges Band - Ride the Nuclear Wave

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Hail Social and Bamboo Shoots Come To DC

Philly's Hail Social are bringing their laid back dance grooves to DC tonight. In what is sure to be a great show, they will be playing The Red and The Black with Brooklyn's equally danceable Bamboo Shoots. There is a lot happening in the city this evening, but this show is definitely worth checking out.

Hail Social - Heaven
Bamboo Shoots - Hey Girl

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Six Points: Tonight @ DC9

Six Points Music Festival put together a pretty good Thursday night show for DC9 tonight. Lejeune will be playing in advance of their upcoming release and Brooklyn's The Jaguar Club will be supporting the excellent EP that they released a couple of weeks ago. They will be joined by The Glory and The Majesty and Life in a Hospital.

Lejeune - Bizarre Histrionics
The Jaguar Club - World Gone By

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Tonight @ Sonar

For those of you kicking it in Baltimore tonight, there is a pretty good local show happening at Sonar. Local bands The Payola Reserve, The Heavycoats and Faster Faster Harder Harder will be joined by NYC's The Sugar Report for what should be a great night of music.

The Heavycoats - Sea Song
The Sugar Report - For My Sanity Alone
The Payola Reserve - Music Is Not Music
Faster Faster Harder Harder - Calm Down

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New Music From The Sky Drops

While they do not have a new CD yet, The Sky Drops have released 2 brand new mp3s. For those of you who missed my post on them last year, the band hails from Wilmington, DE. They are a 2-piece of the shoegaze variety. The band is touring the country quite heavily, but they do have a few regional shows on the horizon and several more that haven't yet been announced. For now, you can see them as follows:

4/28 @ Sugar Town @ Tritone, Philly
5/12 @ Johnny Brenda's, Philly
6/08 @ MOJO 13, Wilmington, DE
6/09 @ The Fire, Philly



Interview: The Jaguar Club

Editor's Note: I also contribute to a DC site called Metro Music Scene. They are a sponsor of Six Points Music Fest and asked me to do an interview of The Jaguar Club. I thought that the piece turned out pretty well, so I am also going to post it here.

The Jaguar Club is a 3-piece indie rock band from Brooklyn. They are heavily influenced by the college radio music of the 80's and Brit Pop. Mixing the sounds of bands like Echo and the Bunnymen, New Order, Joy Division, Pulp, Talking Heads, R.E.M. and The Smiths, they make highly danceable music that takes a little from all of those bands. Since I am one of the few people in the region who is familiar with them and they are playing DC9 for Six Points Music Festival on Thursday night, I caught up with them and asked them to introduce themselves to the music fans of the area. Will and Jeremiah were nice enough to talk to me and our conversation follows.

Right now, Six Points Music Festival is all of the rage in DC. Due to your involvement, your name has been around town and hardly anybody knows you. I've actually had several people ask me, "What is this Jaguar Club of which you speak?" Take a minute and introduce your band to DC.

Will: We're from Brooklyn, New York, though none of us are natives. We are a three-piece comprised of Yoi on bass, Jeremiah on drums/backing vocals and myself on guitar and lead vocals. We pride ourselves on our live shows, which hopefully isn't setting us up to have pie on our faces Thursday night. Personally, I think that performing is just about the best thing in the world. Recording is something that I find incredibly painful. Basically, we do what we want to do on stage and we’re fortunate that other people think we're onto something good.

How would you describe your sound?

Will: If I had my way, we'd sound like Bob Dylan fronting Blondie.

Jeremiah: That's pretty good.

W: But somehow we end up sounding like New Order and The Smiths.

J: Well, that's what I'm going for. So…

W: Cool. Fine, you win. I hate you.

J: Cool.

You've actually played DC quit a lot lately. I believe that this will be the third time since early March. How did you get involved with Six Points and is this a trend that we should expect to continue?

J: A friend of ours is from DC and thought that we'd be a good fit at Six Points and we're trying hard to…

(Will Interrupts)

W: Let me field this one. There's something about the DC music scene that's really appealing to us. All the bands seem to know one another, and go to shows, and they just seem to be supportive of each other, which is a nice change to what we're used to in New York. Obviously there are a lot of pluses to being a band in New York, but a real "scene" isn't one of them. So, yes… we will be back as often as DC will have us. We really feel comfortable playing there.

You were in DC a couple of weeks ago to release your new EP. Considering that you haven't formally been a band for a year yet and you already have 2 CDs out, how do you feel that you have grown in that time?

W: Well at least half that year was spent trying to figure out how to be a three piece and not a quartet. We've actually been playing together for more like a year and a half and I used to only sing, but then our guitar player quit - about this time last year actually. So there were a lot of depressing times and a lot of uncertainty, but we toughed it out and now it's starting to feel like we've really come into our own as a live band.

J: I agree, I think that the songs were basically always there. The first EP we recorded on our own with nothing really, just a four track in our practice space. So with this new release, I think we wanted to show what we could do with a little more polished production.

Given the pace that you have been going at, when should we expect another release, July?

W: We're going to be releasing a 7" single with "World Gone By" and a slightly different version of "The Sirens" on it, but we aren't really planning on releasing anything new for the time being. We need to work this one for a while, I think. Part of the reason that we put out a 2nd EP so quickly, was that we kept hearing "your CD doesn't do your live sound justice." Which makes sense, since that one was recorded before we ever played a show.

J: We've definitely got the material for a full length; it's just that so few people have heard what's out already. So, we're going to try and get this release out to more people and in the meantime, we're always writing new songs and debuting them live.

Do you have anything else that you would like to share with the fine citizens of the district?

W: I love that the crowds in DC dance. You don't get that everywhere and it makes a huge difference for us and our energy on stage. We're not just a band for dancing, but that's certainly a big part of the equation. So continue dancing DC. We love it and we'll see you at DC9 on Thursday night.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. It is always a pleasure.

W: Anytime, sir. Thank you.

I'll leave you with a couple of songs. If you are intrigued, check out the show on Thursday and pick up a copy of their wonderful EP.

World Gone By
Beautiful House


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

TV on the Radio and Noisettes Coming To Your Town

Experimentation abounds! TV on the Radio, still on tour supporting Return to Cookie Mountain, come to the area for 3 shows. Joining them are the UK rockers Noisettes, who are promoting their new album What's the Time Mr. Wolf? I hear that this is a hard ticket to get, so I'll leave you with some tunes that you can use to decide how high you will go.

April 18 & 19 @ 9:30 Club, DC
April 20 @ Trocadero, Philly

TV on the Radio - Staring at the Sun
TV on the Radio- Wolf Like Me
The Noisettes - Scratch Your Name

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We Landed On The Moon

We Landed On The Moon! are a band from Baton Rouge, LA that has been getting a lot of attention over the past several months. They are an indie rock band known for the sultry vocals of Melissa Eccles. This week is our turn to check them out, as they head east for a full scale tour. Over the next several days, they will have quite a few dates in the region:

4/17 @ DC9, DC
4/18 @ Rusty Nail, Philly
4/24 @ 8x10 Club, Baltimore

Check out some songs and if you like what you hear, check out a tour date.

Everything Is Fine


breakup mix

Editor's Note: This post was written by David Hardy of Two if by Sea. The mix and artwork were also created by him.

this mixtape explores the various stages of a breakup. it transitions through heartache, denial, sadness, resentment, depression, and finally, awakening...

i've been listening to a lot of these songs for the past 2 months & finally realized what a great concept mix they made. hope they help anyone else who has recently gone through the same thing.


01. spiritualized / broken heart
02. pj harvey / rid of me
03. mazzy star / halah
04. junior boys / so this is goodbye
05. the church / reptile
06. sebadoh / beauty of the ride
07. margot and the nuclear so & so's / skeleton key
08. teenage fanclub / alchoholiday
09. superdrag / pine away
10. nada surf / blankest year


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Monday, April 16, 2007

Page France and Headlights Tour The Region

In advance of their new CD's May release, Baltimore's Page France teams up with Headlights for a regional tour. Over the course of this week, you can check them out at the following locations:

4/16 @ Johnny Brenda's, Philly
4/18 @ The Ottobar, Baltimore
4/19 @ Black Cat, DC
4/20 @ The Embassy Theatre, Cumberland, MD
4/21 @ Emmaus, Gettysburg, PA

Page France - Hat and Rabbit
Page France - Here's A Telephone
Headlights - Put Us Back Together Right
Headlights - Lullabies

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Lovely Day

Today is one of those days. You wake up and it's cold, rainy and windy as hell. Monday's are hard enough and then you have to deal with that? Totally not fair. Fortunately, I have spent the past 2 days with this in my head...

The Cure - A Forest (Live)


Thanks To The Jaguar Club

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see my friends The Jaguar Club play DC. They gave me a copy of their new EP and to my surprise, they had a little treat for me on the inside. So it's official, IA finally made someone's liner notes! Will, Jera, Yoi -thanks so much for the kind words. Since our old links are no longer active, I'll repost a couple of tracks from the excellent EP.

For those of you in DC, check them out on Thursday night at DC9. They will be performing as part of the Six Points Music Festival.

World Gone By
Beautiful House


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ghostland Observatory glams up the Mid-Atlantic

This is a band not to be missed. I saw them as a fill-in for someone at the Austin City Limits festival in September and instantly became a fan. I even picked them as my favorite performance of the weekend. Now it's time for the Northeast to experience the glory of Ghostland Observatory. They mix electronic beats a la Nine Inch Nails and New Order and the glam/hair metal heyday of the 70's and 80's. Lead singer and guitarist Aaron Behrens is a prowling tiger on stage, doing his best Freddie Mercury impersination, while electronics and kit master Thomas Turner lays down the groove, usually decked out in a full length pale blue cape. Nothing can really prepare you for the show you will experience, but I am sure that you will have a time that you will never forget.

4/16: DC @ Rock and Roll Hotel
4/17: Philly @ Northstar Bar <-- I'll be there.

Best Won't Do
Piano Man
Sad Sad City (live @ SXSW)


The Postmarks at the World Cafe

Saturday afternoon, I made my way into the University City section of Philly and headed into the famed World Cafe to check out Florida based The Postmarks. The upstairs at World Cafe is just as it sounds, a cafe that serves food, has a bar, and a stage at the far end of the room. After arriving a few minutes after 4, I was greated with soothing music created by a five piece outfit (normally a 3 piece in the studio) comprised of lead guitar, synths, bass, drum kit, and lead by smooth, breathy vocals of Tim Yehezkely (don't let the name fool you, the singer is a she). Imagine a cross of the Innocence Mission instrumentation and the vocal and lyrical stylings of Mazzy Star. It was perfect music for a late afternoon meal or drink. It was a short, subdued show, not sure if that is the norm, if it was attributed to the large leg boot/brace on Tim's right leg, or the venue, but it was well worth spending the afternoon in the city.

Our friends in DC can check them out tonight at Black Cat.

Let Go


Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Drawing Board Revisited

A while back, I posted about the new album from my favorite Austin band The Drawing Board. Finally, this Saturday at the Mohawk on Red River, the CD release party happens. In honor of this momentous event, I want to reexplore Clear to the Far Side of Way Over Yonder as now I have had months to digest every little detail.
I want to start out by mentioning the cover art, although I have no idea who to credit with it. Directly linking with the title of the album, it shows a person hanging on a rope attached to a hot air balloon above a winter landscape (not really typical in Texas, except this winter). The inside is a drawing of a street grid for some unnamed city, detailed with hills, trees, churches and tiny houses, even little buggies riding on the named streets. The rear is a tunnel through large trees with their upper branches intertwining, creating other images. Cover and liner art is overlooked for the most part, but I want to congratulate the maker of these fine works.

Ok, enough about the artwork, its about the music, right? Now I am going to repeat myself (with some new blurbs throw in): The album kicks off with "Clear to the Far Side", a short (less than a minute) opening soundscape of feedback, pedal steel, and backing vocals underneath lead singer's Justin Tapp's ranging croon for some reason gives me images of Pink Floyd and The Beach Boys together in a lounge in Vegas (how's that for an image!). It fades into the glamish rocker "Something I Can't Have", well the title says it all. The guitars are soaring, as are Justin's vocals. More gleaming guitars riffs (complete with solo) and driving rhythms flow in "Haven't We Been Through This?", with a repeating tag line for a chorus and "What About Me?", the feel-sorry-for-me stories of the aged in show business, the common worker freshly laid-off, and those fleeced by the televangelists.

The rest of the album shows more of a mellow side. The musically upbeat, but absolute lyrical downer of "Happy With You" is bouncy, smile while you cry over someone music. It would be hard to stop tapping your foot to this song. The ballad "Opposite of Home" reminds one of coffeeshop troubadors telling a sing-song story over acoustic guitars (with some keys thrown in for good measure). "It's a Lie" gets overtly political. One is unlikely to notice though, as dream-like vocals and quiet strums of acoustic guitar will make you forget the world around you and get lost in the music. The capstone of the album is the ethereal final track, "Lose My Mind", drawing upon a definite later-era Beatles influence.

On the whole, Clear to the Far Side of Way Over Yonder is well put together musically. Every song has some hook to it that keeps you there and doesn't let you skip ahead to the next track. The use of different instruments that are not of the norm in rock today (pedal steel, glockenspiels) is a welcome addition. Lyrically, the strong storyish motifs as well as a wide range of vocal qualities and harmonies find their way into your mind and stick with you for days.

Usually we drop some links for you, but it is the CD release weekend. Ok, one that is not on the album. Listen on their myspace page and if you like what you hear, BUY (also on itunes) the album. Drop them a line, tell them you heard of them through us here at IA. If you are anywhere near Austin Saturday night, go to the Mohawk. Thanks again to Adam, Brandon, Dave, David, and Justin. It was a blast down in Austin. Now get up to the Northeast! Philly would love you!

I love this poster (check out the large image on myspace)

The Writer (non album track)


Monday, April 09, 2007

IA Exclusive: Saturna

Pacific NW shoegazers Saturna are back with their debut full length. Some Delicious Enemy will be released on May 29th.

They asked me if I would debut a couple of songs for them. I picked new track "Roll Down" and the reworked version of "Blanket of Stars." The thing that stood out to me most about the album, is how much more full their sound has become and how soaring the tracks are. They can effectively pull off quiet and loud (and usually both) over the course of one track. Anyway, give them a listen and let me know what you think.

Roll Down
Blanket of Stars


Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Black Angels Invade The Northeast

The Austin invasion of the Northeast has begun. Tonight at the Rock 'N Roll Hotel in DC and tomorrow at Johnny Brenda's in Philly, the heavy drone of dark psych-rock phenoms The Black Angels demonstrates why Austin is one of the premier music cities. I had the opportunity to see these guys play at the ACL festival in September and I was quite impressed with their live show. Fresh off another year at SXSW, it is now time to spread the word about the Angels across the country

As a side note, I'll be at the show tomorrow night and it also happens to be my birthday. Feel free to come join in on the celebration.

Bloodhounds On My Trail
The Sniper at the Gates of Heaven
The First Vietnamese War