SFIFF’s awesome musical adventures

April 20th, 2007

This year’s San Francisco International Film Festival has a few cool music-related offerings.

I’m most excited about their two silent films with live musical accompaniment by indie rockers:
April 27, 7pm: the Phantom Carriage a classic Swedish film with live accompaniment from Jonathan Richman. I’m so excited about this. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out because Richman excels at banter and general stage presence, but he probably won’t be able to take advantage of these while accompanying a silent film.

May 5, 8:30pm: Notes to a Toon Underground 15 animated shorts with accompaniment by indie rockers. “The lineup includes Marc Capelle, Devin Hoff (of Good for Cows), Jason Lytle (of Grandaddy) Ches Smith (of Good for Cows, Xiu Xiu and Ceramic Dog), Jamie Stewart and Caralee McElroy (of Xiu Xiu), Carla Fabrizia (of Sekar Jaya Gamelan), Tommy Guerrero, Monte Vallier and Gadget (of Jet Black Crayon) and avant-garde legend William Winant.”

There are also a handful of music-related documentaries:
Punk’s Not Dead A history of Punk with appearances by Ian McKaye and Billie Joe Armstrong.

The Old, Weird America: Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music A documentary about, and about the effects of, Harry Smith’s seminal and influential collection of old-timey, blues and other traditional American musics.

Fabricating Tom Ze “One of Brazilian music’s unsung pioneers gets heads bopping and hips swinging in this on-the-road documentary bursting with rhythmic energy, Tropicalismo tunes and showstopping concert performances.”

on sale soon, 4/19/07 edition

April 19th, 2007

Here are the tickets that are going on sale tomorrow of over the weekend for Bay Area venues. I think the highlight is probably the 7/5 Band of Horses date, though I’ll be out of town, unfortunately.

On sale Friday, 4/20:
9/14 Lewis Black @ Wells Fargo Center for the Arts

On sale Sunday, 4/22:
5/13 Gym Class Heroes @ Slim’s
5/17 Alvin Youngblood Hart, Slowfinger @ Great American
5/20 Albert Hammond Jr., The Dead Trees @ The Independent

6/2 Sparta / Straylight Run (co-headlining) , Lovedrug @ Slim’s
6/7 DirkFest: A Celebration of the life of Dirk Dirksen @ Slim’s
6/7 Bob Schneider @ The Independent
6/9 Mika @ The Fillmore
6/13 John Cruz, Todd Hannigan, Eric & Gavin @ The Independent
6/14 Jonathan Brooke, Steve Poltz @ The Independent
6/15 Scissors For Lefty, Maldroid, Lemon Sun @ The Independent
6/16 The Tubes feat. Fee Waybill @ The Independent
6/16 Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi with Scrapomatic @ The Fillmore

7/2 Battles @ Slim’s
7/5 Band of Horses @ Great American
7/11 Mad Caddies @ Slim’s
7/23 Tokyo Police Club @ The Independent

8/17 The Detroit Cobras, Dan Sartain, Willowz @ Slim’s

9/29 Dave Matthews Band with Stephen Marley @ Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View

Great American tickets are available virtuous, as are Slim’s. Livenation has the tickets for the Fillmore, Wells Fargo, Shoreline. Ticketweb has the Independent tickets.

RickoLus and Julius Airwave, mp3s

April 18th, 2007

I got my first submission in the youngish life of this here music blog the other day from Jacksonville, FL band Julius Airwave (myspace) and the side project of one band member, Richard Colado, who goes by RickoLus (myspace). And they’re actually good. Bonus!

Of the two, I’m more into the RickoLus, which is interesting lo-fi, slightly experimental indie pop. “Dear Projectionist” is a fun song with an electro drum beat and a great melody, especially during the chorus where there are nice harmony vocals. It also has good little jabs of distorted guitar and random vocals. Richard’s voice reminds me of one of the Swan Lake guys (I can’t place which one just right now—maybe Dan Bejar?).

RickoLus – Dear Projectionist (mp3, from video game birthday party)

The Julius Airwave tracks are somewhat eclectic, but pretty straight forward indie pop. They have a little bit of the Strokes vibe and remind me a bit of the SF band Morning Benders. Definitely a pleasant listen.

Julius Airwave – Glory, Glory (mp3)

You can check out more on each of the band’s websites. You can, in fact, stream all of video game birthday party and handful of other tracks at the RickoLus website.

minimum entry requirement to be a band

April 18th, 2007

It seems the minimum entry requirement to be a band is always in flux. It used to be about 2 songs for the longest time: 78s and then 45s were each about 2 songs (1 per side). Then the late 60s came along and the rise of the album meant that bands had to put out an album (10-15 songs) to be considered a band. At the very least they needed to release an EP (6ish songs).

Now, it’s different once again—you need a myspace player’s worth of songs to be considered a band. You need at least fill the player, at least four songs to be a band.

Go search for a band. You’ll find their myspace page and check it out. Click around myspace a bit. Am I wrong?

That solo project of the backup singer of that guy you like? Three songs. Not a real band. Not yet at least.

announcing! online mix tapes, April 2007

April 18th, 2007

This is my first online mixtape over here, but it’s actually my tenth overall. I try to put these out in the middle of each month, but I usually don’t hit the 15th.

You can download the zip file with the following:
1. mp3s of the songs
2. liner notes
3. playlist files (iTunes txt file and an m3u file)

(for the iTunes file, simply import all the songs to your library and then go to file->import and then select the song list (the txt file). you should now have the 2007april playlist in your iTunes with all the songs in the correct order).

If you want to read the liner notes before downloading the whole thing, they’re here. This one includes a lot of great indie pop/ rock plus one soul number. There are great local bands like the Finches, the Dodos (what’s with SF bird bands?), and Beatbeat Whisper. I also have national acts like Andrew Bird (ah! more birds!) and Ted Leo. There are a few interesting quirky songs in there too.

Adrian’s April 2007 mix tape (zip file, right click and ‘save as…’)

As always this’ll be up for a limited time (~1 week), so grab it now.

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

Girl Talk interview (with me!)

April 16th, 2007

Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk (myspace) was nice enough to talk to me over the telephone a little bit ago and answer some questions. Originally it aired on my radio show.

Girl Talk undoubtedly rocking out; promo shot

Read on to see what he thinks of being called a “DJ”, how the Pittsburgh scene is, what his high school graduation song was and what he thinks of this year’s Steelers team.

[notes: I’m basically presenting it as it happened, only editing it to take out some radio-specific references and to make my words clearer than my normal bumbling.]

Grizzly Bear – Knife (Girl Talk remix) (mp3)

Adrian: So for [people] who might not be as familiar with what you do, you go by Gregg Gillis during the day and Girl Talk at night. You released an album that was critically acclaimed over the last year and made a lot of top 10 lists. How would you, sort of, describe your sound?

Girl Talk: My sound is basically cut up pop music, rearranged.

A: I know you have t-shirts that say “I’m not a DJ” and I wouldn’t really call what you do a mashup so do you, sort of, get mad at [people using] those terms when they’re applied to you?

GT: I don’t get mad necessarily. I think people can interpret it any way they want. I think that—the “I’m not a DJ” shirts are sort of a response to, you know, people asking me to play shows and expecting me to do two hour sets on turntables, but that’s not what I do at all, you know. I’ve always done my music on a laptop.

A DJ is a very specific art. You could put a good DJ on on any crowd and they could work the crowd and spin songs that they like, but when you see me live, I play my style of remixes. And it’s like going to see any band live where you go to see that style of music and if you’re not a fan of that style of music, you won’t like it. So, you know, when you see me live, it’s all remixes. It’s all very—it’s all based on other people’s music. I don’t play other people’s music outright, but there’s a little bit of a distinction between what I do and a standard DJ. I’ve always considered myself more of a producer, a sample-based producer. And there are lots of guys who do sound-collage stuff who wouldn’t necessarily go by the “DJ” term. I mean, I’m not offended by anything. I’m open to interpretation. The whole DJ phrase has sort of been tossed around the last six months whereas I’ve been doing this for seven years. I’ve never had an issue before.

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Beatbeat Whisper at Stanford, photos

April 15th, 2007

As I mentioned I was going to see Beatbeat Whisper last night. It was actually part of the Stanford Soundtrack release part. The concert was held in a temporary tent set up for the event and it seemed each band only had a fairly short amount of time.

The band set up and started early, so they could fit in extra songs. They’re Ayla and Davyd Nereo, brother and sister. The set up was always in flux. Ayla on tambourine and Davyd on acoustic guitar; Davyd on electric and Ayla on acoustic; Ayla on piano and Davyd on acoustic and random percussion. There was a kalimba thrown in there as well.

Their set was nice, but the sound was a bit iffy (some feeback problems) and the tent creaked rather loudly with the wind. Songs I remember them doing include “Little Window Open Up”, “Don’t Let it Pass You By”, “Try Not to Let the Rain In Your Boots, Child”, “Three Long Afternoons” (I think) , and “Lulu”.

At points, it seemed like a musical education class, with random percussion instruments being offered up to anyone in the audience. There were some strange polyrhythms going on for a few songs there.

When it came time to close their set with “Lulu”, I think even the wind decided to calm for a minute to hear this fantastic song.

with Ayla on kalimba/ tambourine:

More photos after the jump, or at my web album.

Read the rest of this entry »

Armchair Apocrypha at first listen, mp3

April 15th, 2007

Just the other day after his appearance on Letterman, I was pondering whether I should buy Andrew Bird‘s (myspace) latest disc, Armchair Apocrypha. Today I zipped down to the new Rasputin down the street in Mountain View and picked it up (along with 3 other CDs—having a decent record store within an easy distance is going to be the end of me).

I’ve listened to it a few times today. Before today, I’d listened with half an ear to it as a friend was playing it and I’d heard the song “Heretics” on some of the music blogs.

The first couple songs zip past and my ears perk up at “Plasticities.” I enjoyed it when he played it on Letterman and I enjoy it on the record. It’s a standout song. “Heretics” fits in better within the context of the record than all by itself, on the music blogs.

Andrew Bird – Plasticities (mp3)

Bird is classically trained, with a degree in violin performance from Northwestern. There’s an idea in indie rock, a idyllic notion, undoubtedly coming from punk, that there is nothing more supreme than the authenticity, that the music is created by amateurs whose drive to create this music overtakes the musicianship and any other obstacles in the way. Sufjan Stevens has done graduate-level study in writing and it clearly shows in his songwriting and story telling, but everything he does is blessed by a feeling of authenticity somehow, even when his track titles are reaching one hundred words long. At this point in the record, I realize that Bird is not so lucky. There’s some confidence, preciousness, pretentiousness that goes along with being classically trained. This is the preppy kid that’s been studying violin since he was four years old.

Andrew Bird, you’re looping your pizzicato violin with more violin and whistling, guitar on top of that. You’re singing with your erudite lyrics about whatever you’re singing about (not to mention mentioning apocrypha in your album title). And you’re expecting me to buy this overly confident art pop?

All these thoughts disappear, though. “Simple X” is on and it’s wonderful. I’m suddenly not as concerned about the pretentiousness, the confidence.

“Scythian Empires” is the other immediate highlight of the album, with it’s looping finger-picked guitar part and rhythmic violin pizzicato. I feel like I could listen to this for a year. Andrew Bird! Why have you only made this song four and a half minutes long? You could carry this on for five or six more minutes easy.

The rest of the disc ends nicely. “Yawny at the Apocalypse” is a lovely instrumental (though I really want the name to be “Yawning at…” because I really don’t want people to think I’m talking about something else when I say it over the air), slow moving and yearning, almost something for a soundtrack.

After three or four listens, I’m left with a positive, if a bit of an odd impression. It’s odd in that parts of it really stick out for me—that he parts stick out—but parts of it feel like the whole is greater than the parts. As a radio DJ, I like the former and as a music listener, especially one who usually listens to albums rather than songs, I like the latter. Time has yet to tell whether it’ll be primarily the former or the latter in my mind.

Andrew Bird appears at the Fillmore with Apostle of Hustle on May 1. Armchari Apocrypha is available from insound.

5 opening bands I liked enough to buy their CD

April 14th, 2007

5 opening bands (that I wasn’t going specifically to see) I liked enough to buy their CD at the show (in chronological order):

  • Warren Commission (opening for Superchunk 8/23/99)
  • Seldom (opening for Pedro the Lion 9/16/2001)
  • Viva Voce (opening for Pedro the Lion 12/7/2004)
  • Pony Up! (opening for the Mountain Goats 3/8 and 3/9/2007)
  • Morning Benders (opening for the Long Winters 3/10/2007)

new Jens Lekman (Scout Niblett cover)

April 14th, 2007

I think Jens Lekman is swell. Coming up soon, April 24, Jens’ American label, Secretly Canadian is releasing their one hundredth release, appropriately called SC100. They aren’t phoning this one either; they’re doing something special for it. The 18 tracks each have one Secretly Canadian artist covering another SC artist. Damien Jurado covering Early Day Miners, Dave Fischoff covering Damien Jurado, Danielson covering Dave Fischoff. (I don’t think it makes a full circle in that pattern, though). I was particularly excited about the Jens Lekman song on it, a cover of the Scout Niblett song “Your Beat Kicks Like Death” which is a depressing song does in an almost jubilant style by Jens. He preforms it live and has been for at least a year and a half. It sticks out in my mind from the last time I saw him in San Francisco, at the Rickshaw Stop.

Jens Lekman – Your Beat Kicks Like Death (Scout Niblett cover) (mp3)

And because you’re all such lovely people…
bonus mp3
Jens Lekman – The Opposite of Hallelujah (mp3)

I could play the chorus of that one on repeat all day.