Of a kind heart and ecstatic playing: Jason Anderson @ Democracy Center, Cambridge, MA April 17, 2015

May 14th, 2015

Jason Anderson @ Democracy Center
Jason Anderson at the Democracy Center, Cambridge, MA

from: Adrian Bischoff
to: Andy
date: Sat, Apr 18, 2015 at 10:40 AM
subject: Jason Anderson show

So it was at this place called the Democracy Center. But it’s really just a couple of wood paneled rooms. Suggested donation, no stage, no mics. Mostly college kids. One couch, one chair but most people were either sitting on a couple tables or on the floor. No booze. Had a real old school feel to it.

There were a couple openers. They were pretty good. Then Jason comes on and immediately he gets people to move in closer and to sing along to his song, eyes closed (“say hell yeah if your eyes are closed! “) Then it just gets closer and louder throughout the night to the end where he’s standing (and jumping) on a tiny rickety table and people are all standing within inches, almost touching him, and singing along with real gusto.

After the show we told him that Red Red Moon was a major part of the soundtrack of our honeymoon and he wouldn’t let us leave–we were protesting that we had to get up super early– without playing us a condensed version of that song. As we walked out he started playing another couple their favorite song.

Just awesome. See him if you can.

Jason Anderson – Red Red Moon (mp3) (buy)

Jason Anderson – Two Kids (Strand of Oaks cover) (mp3) (no longer available, buy other music)

typhoon @ brighton music hall (review, photos)

September 30th, 2013


It was that kind of night–you and your partner were both kind of sick and aching, both tired, both not looking forward to starting the week tired. Did we really want to go to this show? I mean, we bought tickets months ago but still…?

Looking back after Typhoon finished their set at Brighton Music Hall last night, the answer was so obviously and emphatically “YES!” that I’m glad we at least said ‘I guess’.


Getting into the venue a few minutes before Typhoon went on, we slipped into the audience behind the two post-college dudes on a man-date and next to the extremely differently heighted couple on perhaps their third date. The band came on the stage in all their glory: two drummers, two violins, one flugelhorn, two trumpets (one doubling on keyboards and guitar), one bass, one guitar, one ukulele/ glockenspiel, and Kyle, the lead singer on guitar and Wurlitzer electric piano.


The crowd–though it was a Sunday night–was packed in and excited. The band and the audience fed off each other immediately and it quickly became an atmosphere of astounded magic. The band played excitedly, skillfully, beautifully and the crowd collectively felt like it was witnessing something wonderful and unique. The dozen instruments and as many voices blended into a wave coming off of the stage, paradoxically more together and more individual than on the records.


After each song there was an increasing amount of applause to the point where, with a few songs left, the audience was cheering like it was demanding an encore. Kyle had to say something like “Thanks so much! We still have more songs.”

The end of the set came too soon and there was thunderous applause calling for an encore this time, which the band obliged. Three more delicate, lively, wonderful, and raucous songs later and the band was done and people were streaming back the merch table and out into the cool autumn day. My feet felt like they were hardly touching the pavement.

announcing! april 2013 mixtape

April 28th, 2013

Mt. Abraham

I haven’t posted a mixtape for a long time, but that means there’s just more concentrated awesomeness in this one. Please check this out. It’s a good.

Go ahead and check out the playlist (below) or the liner notes.

Adrian’s April 2013 Mixtape (zip file)

Or stream it.

You can download the zip file with the following:
1. mp3s of the songs
2. liner notes (pdf)
3. playlist file (iTunes txt file)

(for the iTunes file, simply add all the songs to your library and then go to File->Library->Import Playlist and then select the song list (the txt file). you should now have the playlist 2013April in your iTunes with all the songs in the correct order).

April 2013 mixtape:

  1. Breton Wood Ooogum Boogum
  2. Phosphorescent Song for Zula
  3. Night Beds Everything Trying
  4. Local Natives Heavy Feet
  5. Lord Huron Time to Run
  6. Sin Fang Young Boys
  7. Keegan DeWitt Two Hearts
  8. Chris Porterfield I Would Not Die in Springfield
  9. Hayden Blurry Nights
  10. Pickwick Lady Luck
  11. Llans Thelwell and His Celestials Grazing in the Grass
  12. The Ray Alexander Techniques I Don’t Bite
  13. Frightened Rabbit Late March, Death March
  14. The Mouthbreathers Birthdays
  15. Fionn Regan 67 Blackout
  16. The Local Strangers Uptown
  17. Hey Marseilles Heart Beats
  18. Benjamin Gibbard Bigger Than Love
  19. The Tree Ring Salton Sea

If you like the artists or songs, I suggest supporting them by buying their music, going to a show, buying merchandise from them. And tell other people about the artists!

Best shows of 2012

January 21st, 2013

charles bradley
Charles Bradley at the Brighton Music Hall, photo by ipickmynose

During 2012, I went to the most concerts I’ve been to since 2009. It still wasn’t that many but I decided I’d like to wrap up the year in concerts in some way.

Top 5 shows:

  1. 2/4 Charles Bradley @ Brighton Music Hall – This show blew me away. Thinking back on it, almost a year later, I’m still a bit in awe. It’s a bit hard to describe why, but here’s a shot: Bradley is truly ecstatic to be performing and when he says “I love you” to the crowd, it feels real (and he backs it up by hugging perhaps dozens of audience members after the show). His band is tight and his performance is fantastic. He’s truly a soul showman, not in some retro way, but like he’s living it.
  2. 5/18 Damien Jurado @ Davis Square Theater – I’ve seen Jurado something like nine times now and a few years ago I thought I’d seen the best show by him that I ever would. Turns out I was wrong. The previous eight times, he performed sitting (and often solo), concentrating on playing his fantastically written songs. Never would I have thought a show would end with him excitedly playing through a song as the clock ticked into the small hours and then finish it on his knees, head on the floor, shout-singing into the microphone. I walked away stunned and happy.
  3. 11/3 Crooked Fingers, John Vanderslice @ Great Scott – Often great shows are a combination of many things, with one element being the music. In this case, an exhilarating and brisk bike ride through Cambridge and Allston brought me to Great Scott, where I hung out with JV and friends, had some nice beers, struck up great happenstance conversations, and ran into an old friend, all while and after both JV and Crooked Fingers put on great sets.
  4. 11/13 David Bazan @ Brighton Music Hall – Here was David Bazan playing my favorite Pedro the Lion album, Control interspersed with other great songs from his catalog and even with an appearance from one-time Pedro member TW Walsh on the drums, all skillfully and passionately. If you know me, you know I’m a big Bazan fan and this may be my favorite full band show I’ve ever seen.
  5. 4/27 Archers of Loaf @ Middle East Downstairs
    In a dark and cramped room full of most 30-somethings, the 41 year old Bachmann and company ripped through classic Archers songs on their first stop through Boston since they reunited. Seemingly in unison the audience was reliving their high school love of unbridled musical energy, and the way that could connect one with other people.


Best show for old people:


  • 10/6 Neil Halstead @ Lizard Lounge – This show started at 7:30, had one opener and was done by 9:45. It was seated and gloriously quite. And the bar had a great beer list. If liking that makes me old, so be it. (Also, the music alone was fantastic–this show was a strong contender for the top five shows of the year above.)

Best non-venue show:

  • 11/15 The Local Strangers @ Sommervile house show – These friends-of-friends put on a really solid set in a small setting as I was sitting on couch next to some nice people I’d just met. Before and after I chatted to the band and other attendees, had some snacks and a beer out of the fridge. If you haven’t gotten onto the house show bandwagon yet, seriously consider it.

An honorable mention for this was Kelly McFarling and Goodnight Texas @ Heartbeat Collective in Jamaica Plain, which is essentially a barn and yard next to someone’s house. Lots of fun as well.

Best standing gig:

  • 3/16 Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens @ Fat Cat, New York City – If you’re in New York early on a Friday, I’d strongly suggest checking out this standing gig, which runs every Friday and will run you all of $3 in cover. Shelton puts on a fantastic set of soul gospel while patrons watch, dance and chat.

Best large show:

  • 11/16 Matt & Kim @ House of Blues – I typically don’t like going to large (1000+ capacity) venues and I will often not go to them because I often don’t enjoy them, but after seeing Matt & Kim last year on Jimmy Fallon’s show, I became a bit obsessed with seeing one of their live shows. It paid off as they were dense balls of energy, dancing through their songs, crowd walking (thinking crowd-surfing, but upright), and singing their lungs out.

Best small show:

  • 8/17 Tom Thumb @ TT the Bear’s – I’ve followed Tom Thumb for a few years and when I finally got a chance to see him, I was excited. It turned out that he was the first of four bands, playing on a CD release show for the headliner at his friend’s request. There weren’t many people at TT’s yet, but he put on a great set, interacting charmingly with the couple dozen people in the audience.

Best nostalgia show:

  • 4/27 Archers of Loaf @ Middle East (downstairs) – See the description above. This was just about the pinnacle of nostalgic rock show.

Of course, David Bazan’s show, described above, would be a good choice for this, but with the set of songs from throughout his catalog, that show wasn’t as purely nostalgia as the Archers show.

Best sing-along

  • 12/20 Sufjan Stevens @ Royale – When I saw Sufjan was embarking on a tour entitled “Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long: Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant on Ice”, I was a bit skeptical of all the claims in that title. It turned out, though, the sing-a-long part was very true, with audience member being given lyrics books of various Christmas carols which we all sung together heartily (except for the people trying to do their best impersonation of the dad at the end of Elf). It was oddly fun to unironically sing old carols with 700 or 800 other people tossed into the same room.

Well, there you have it. What were your favorite shows this year?

top song obsessions of 2012

December 27th, 2012

The Lumineers, seen here at Cafe 939 in April, really caught my ear this year

Song obsessions are those songs that your brain picks for you, those ear worms that get stuck in your head and have you singing them to yourself or going back to hit repeat on your ipod. I like the idea of reporting what my brain got stuck on each year, rather than picking a list of song I think are the ‘best’. Here’s the list of the songs that were stuck in my head the most in 2012.

If you want to read through past years’ lists, here are my top song obsessions from 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.

  1. The Lumineers – Ho Hey (mp3) (buy)
    The Lumineers – Slow It Down (mp3) (download it with subscription)

    “Slow it Down” by The Lumineers from Look Sessions on Vimeo.

    The Lumineers hit me with a double shot this year. Early on Natalie’s obsession with “Slow It Down” got me turned onto this video, which was one I watched dozens of times; later, I got into the rest of the album and the obvious ear-catcher is “Ho Hey”. Both songs employ great dynamics and melodies, but there’s also something honest and straight-forward about them. (Funny enough I’ve been singing “I belong with you// You belong with me// In my sweet home” to myself for months only to just find that those aren’t the right lyrics at all).

  2. Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks (mp3) (buy)

    Of Monsters and Men took a long time for me to get into. I gave them a listen in March and thought they were sort of a more Icelandic version of the Stars. This song struck me a bit in May but this album really hit me in August/ September when I was spent five days driving around Iceland. These songs really go well with landscapes like this. We probably listened to the album a dozen times in those five days, each time settling into the songs more, ratcheting up my enthusiasm for the band, driving the musical hooks deeper into my brain.

  3. Tyler Lyle – I’ll Sing You a Song (mp3) (buy)

    There’s something very sincere and earnest about Tyler Lyle that takes some getting used to, I think. He writes songs that come to you already familiar, like something your songwriter friend wrote, that he played for you as he worked on it during evenings of hanging out. This is particularly true of “I’ll Sing You a Song”. I searched for hours trying to figure out why it sounds familiar, but I couldn’t find any source. Maybe that’s just it: a good melody will always sound familiar.

  4. Kishi Bashi – Bright Whites (mp3) (buy)

    I got introduced to Kishi Bashi through Dave’s song obsession in July. He had good, good reason for being obsessed with this song. Have you heard it? I want to Godzilla dance–I made this up–to the beginning and then attempt to sing along to the rest. It’s a few minutes of layered pop genius that plays like a less frenetic, more accessible Shugo Tokumaru.

  5. Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe (mp3) (buy)

    I’ve always said my song obsessions aren’t about me picking songs but about which songs get stuck in my head. It’s not really me picking songs, but reporting which songs I’m already obsessed with. That said, here’s this song. It’s not exactly my type of music at all, so it’s hard to say why I got obsessed with it. Maybe it was all the cute sing-along videos that popped up over the summer. Maybe it was the catchy melody and that silly-but-amazing line “Before you came into my life// I missed you so bad.” Or maybe it was that the song is not an assertive command (“Call Me.”) but has some doubt or indifference in it (depending on your reading) that has some charm to it.

  6. Read the rest of this entry »

song obsession friday!

July 12th, 2012

Song obsessions are those songs that get stuck in your head. This series of posts isn’t about what I or the other panel members think is best, but what our brain latches onto, those ear worms that loop around and around in your head.

Adrian (me):
The Very Best – We Okay (ft. K’Naan) (mp3) (pre-order)

Neil Halstead – Full Moon Rising (mp3) (pre-order)

The Very Best: I’ve been a fan for a while (since their first mixtape) and I’m always excited when new material comes out. But, still, it was ridiculous when I first heard this track; I must have played this song a dozen times in a row. I’ve listened to it a few dozen since. It’s just a very catchy chorus matched with Esau’s and K’naan’s verses; it’s simultaneously very universal and very African at the same time.

As for the Halstead track, it’s also been going around my head–I can’t agree with Sandy below more.

Kishi Bashi – Bright Whites (mp3) (buy)

This song embodies everything that a great summer song obsession should be: ridiculously catchy hook, foot-tapping rhythm, über-joyous melody, and a top down, wind-in-your-hair feel that will bring a smile to just about everyone’s face. Add to that an enthusiastic vocal styling not wholly unlike early Beatles, and “Bright Whites” has become summer 2012 almost-anthem for me.

Neil Halstead – Full Moon Rising (mp3) (pre-order)

The song just has an ease to it. You warm to it immediately, you can almost hum along at first listen. It doesn’t go away – just a great track from a great songwriter.

song obsession Thursday

June 14th, 2012

Song obsessions are those songs that get stuck in your head. This series of posts isn’t about what I or the other panel members think is best, but what our brain latches onto, those ear worms that loop around and around in your head.

Adrian (me):
Damien Jurado – Let Us All In (mp3) (came with per-order, buy the album)
Sigur Ros – Eg Anda (mp3) (buy)

It’s been a few weeks since the last song obsession post and I’ve both of these songs going through my head.

Going into Jurado’s show at the Davis Square Theater in May, I was more or less unaware of this song. As strange as it seems for a man that had heretofore sat in a chair when he played shows, by the end of the this show he was well on the way to having the crowd worked up into an ecstatic mood. He closed with this song and it was like a late night church revival, ending with Jurado down on his knees shout-singing into the microphone. I went home and put the song on repeat.

I really loved the Jonsi+Alex album and the new Sigur Ros album echoes some of the ambient tendencies of that album. I’ve been listening to this entire album on repeat; this song sticks ut slightly more than the rest.

Mode Moderne – Real Goth (mp3) (buy)

It’s literally impossible for me to generate more personal excitement for my new favorite band, Vancouver’s Mode Moderne. It’s like the best of early Clan of Xymox, Depeche Mode and Joy Division rolled into one darkly edible confection. They have this way of turning a phrase with an arched eyebrow while slyly injecting a bit of levity in each song, as if checking in to ensure their audience hasn’t completely gone dark. While I await their new ep in the mail we’ll flip back to a tune from their previous single, which is a bit lighter and more obvious than anything on their first LP (but just as effective).

song obsession friday! (for the middle of may)

May 18th, 2012

Song obsessions are those songs that get stuck in your head. This series of posts isn’t about what I or the other panel members think is best, but what our brain latches onto, those ear worms that loop around and around in your head.

Adrian (me):
The Tallest Man on Earth – 1904 (mp3) (pre-order)

I’m a sucker for just about all things Tallest Man. I have a particular soft spot for his fast and urgent numbers, of which this is neither, but despite that, or because of it, it got lodged in my head and I’ve been listening to it a lot.

The Lucksmiths – There is a Boy That Never Goes Out (mp3) (buy)

From the first chords, this one’s a keeper. Solid, hard-strummed, upbeat chords make it immediately danceable. Simple lyrics, with just a little of the wittiness that I’d expect from a Lucksmiths song. And as a bonus, it’s just 2 minutes long, which really clinches it as something I can play again and again. Truth be told, there are a lot of Lucksmiths songs that I play on repeat; this one was just at the top of the heap this week.


JBM – Ferry (mp3) (pre-order)

For me this week, it is almost anything off the new JBM album, Stray Ashes. I am going with the lead off track from the album “Ferry”.

The whole album (JBM’s ‘Stray Ashes’ out on Western Vinyl on May 22nd) is soo moody and sonically embracing – it is almost a crime to remove songs individually from it but if I am forced to for this feature, it is the track ‘Ferry’. The song is both isolating and achingly sad while being completely beautiful and comforting at the same time. It really sets the tone for the entire album and I just can’t stop listening to it.

song obession friday! (beginning of may)

May 4th, 2012

Song obsessions are those songs that get stuck in your head. This series of posts isn’t about what I or the other panel members think is best, but what our brain latches onto, those ear worms that loop around and around in your head.

Adrian (me):
Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks (mp3) (buy)

I’ve been listening to this whole album of Stars-meet-Iceland group-singing pop on repeat. It’s thoroughly enjoyable. This song sticks out slightly more than the rest.

Wild Light – California On My Mind (mp3) (buy)

I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area, and fell hard for everything about this fantastic anthem of a song the first time I heard it, in all its pop catchiness and life cynicism. Even now, as I write this post, I know that when the 2:31 ends, I will hit “play” again on this track because I can NEVER listen to it just once. Ever.

From that opening count-off on the drums, to where that wheezing harmonica comes in (I feel pretty certain that Springsteen would approve), this is a terrific song. Wild Light is a band I know nothing about except for this song which fell like a gem into my lap when I was looking for fodder for an SF mix; one of the dudes from the band apparently was a schoolmate/roommate of Win Butler from Arcade Fire (thank you Wikipedia). The band is from the other side of the USA, nowhere near San Fran.

In a very longsuffering way, I love how this song is a “fuck you” to the entire Bay Area, and in addition to calling out today, San Francisco, and California in general, one time on the chorus they mix it up and also specify fucking Oakland. Which I think we can all get behind. This song sounds excruciatingly good played loudly on car speakers driving on a highway in California. Or anywhere, really. I just clicked “play” again.


Father John Misty – Son of the Ladies Man (live) (mp3) (buy the album version)

This track has been bouncing around in my head for weeks; I just didn’t think it was fair game to post it before the album had been released. Now that it’s officially out, I feel no such qualms. The irony of me choosing to then link to a youtube video of his Letterman performance is not lost.

Really, this track is just the last in a 3-song arc (O I Long to Feel Your Arms Around Me | Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2 | Only Son of the Ladies Man) that I’ve really been into – these three songs hooked me, and I then slowly began to enjoy the rest of the album.

song obsession friday (mid april)

April 20th, 2012

damien jurado
Damien Jurado once again gets stuck in my head

Song obsessions are those songs that get stuck in your head. This series of posts isn’t about what I or the other panel members think is best, but what our brain latches onto, those ear worms that loop around and around in your head.

Adrian (me):
Damien Jurado – Diamond in the Sea (mp3) (came with pre-order; buy Maraqopa)

Heather pointed me to this great Damien Jurado bonus track. And, as she says, it’s “a bonus track. I mean COME ON Damien, it is unfair the crazy talent that flows out of this gentleman.”

As I’ve pointed out before Jurado seems to go through musical phases while still having some essential Juradoness to his songs. His current phase seems to be reaching back to flowing, slightly-swinging music of long ago, not exactly 50s or 60s or 70s but with ideas and inclinations from each.

Hip Hatchet – Child’s Hand in Dirt (Demo) (mp3) (buy album version)

Great fully acoustic take on the album version – really shows Philippe Bronchtein’s signature vocals over sparse acoustics. Almost lullaby-like, stunning.