Here Here, Musee Mecanique, and Winterbirds @ the Rickshaw Stop, 3/27/08

March 31st, 2008

I was exhausted, but the cold wind woke me up as I zipped through the streets of the Mission on my bike. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go and I was a little burnt out from going to so many shows recently, but I decided a bike ride would be good for me and what better place to ride than the Rickshaw Stop where locals Here Here (unrelated wikipedia entry) and Winterbirds (myspace) and Portland band Musee Mechanique (named after one of my favorite SF institutions) were on the bill.

The first band to break through the chattering crowd was the Winterbirds. They started with a guy and a girl, two vocals, fingerpicked guitar and electronic piano and during the next song, they added in drums and bass. It took a few minutes but I realized that the vocals, their sound and the harmonies reminded me a lot of Low, while the chord progressions reminded me, as clarified by Burton of the Botticellis, of Pedro the Lion. All in all, they have a pretty solid slowcore thing going. I liked their set.

I didn’t buy their (homemade?) EP that night, but I now I’m kicking myself, especially after listening through some of their myspace songs again. I tried getting in contact with them to get it, but to no avail. Winterbirds, please sell me your record! (Contact info here.)

During the set break, I noticed most of the Morning Benders were there. We chatted. Nice guys. Apparently they were there to see Here Here.

I’d come to see Musee Mechanique, though I didn’t know a lot about them other than their myspace songs. They had a good sound with keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and a few people taking turns at lead and background vocals. The songs themselves were a bit hit and miss–well, I should clarify, there were some songs that I really liked and some that didn’t quite do it for me. Overall a nice set.

Here Here came up and immediately reminded me of the Arcade Fire: not only did their set up have accordion, trumpet, violin, keys, guitars, drums, bass, etc, but some of their song structures did the swirling beginning that solidifies before the vocals enter and then the rest of the band enters later thing that the Arcade Fire does quite a bit. And some of the vocal interjections were similar as well. I’m not saying a band can’t be reminiscent of another band, but I found this similarity distracting.

After a half dozen songs, I decided to head out, back onto my bike, speeding through the still brisker air and more deserted streets.

the botticellis cover george harrison

March 30th, 2008

Local indie poppers The Botticellis (myspace), whose debut full length Old Home Movies is coming soon on Antenna Farm Records have a new song for the impatient. It’s a cover of George Harrison’s “Awaiting on You All” (off of the most successful Beatles solo album). I love the sound of the Botticelis version, especially the guitars (ringing, almost 50s sounding) and the vocals (great harmonies).

the Botticellis – Awaiting on You All (mp3)

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Old Home Movies is out May 13. I heard it back in August and listened to it a lot. I can recommend it. More about tour dates and more tunes are available at their myspace (and don’t forget about their gig in a surf shop this week).

Song obsession friday! (for the week ending March 28)

March 28th, 2008

Song obsessions are those songs that we listen to on repeat. I noticed that my obsessions are often a week long. I also thought that other people might have similar obsessions. I’ve collected a panel of a few like-minded individuals and gotten their “song obsessions of the week.” Quite often it’s easy to explain why the song is good; it’s much hard to explain why we’re obsessed. Maybe you’ll become obsessed with one of these.

Adrian (me):
Deer Tick – These Old Shoes (mp3) (buy)

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I don’t know what it is exactly about this song that has its hooks in my brain. I like the narrative–it’s like the opposite of that oldies song, “The Letter” (“Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane/ ain’t got time to take a fast train“). I’ll do anything to get to you, even if it takes forever. I also love the singing and the train beat on the drums.

Andy:
Neutral Milk Hotel – Up and Over We Go (mp3) (buy)

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I was digging around last weekend, and found this one, originally released on a 7″ that’s long out of print and hard to find.

It’s got a lot to live up to – the version of this with which most of us are familiar (King of Carrot Flowers pt. 3) is an excellent song on an an album that, arguably, changed the way a generation of young indie rockers thought about music. It certainly did for me.

And truthfully, I think I like this version more – it may not have surpassed the live version of Engine as my favorite NMH song ever, but it’s pretty close. There’s more fuzz in this one, and the straight-ahead drumming changes the feel of the song completely. It’s a great little fuzz-pop song – short, to the point, and totally rocking.

Natalie K:
Nada Surf – Are You Lightning? (mp3) (buy)

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I didn’t get how intense this song was until I saw them play it live last week. Ever since then, I’ve listened to it at least once or twice a day. It’s just got this great feeling of longing and hope to it.

Keith:
Stephanie Says – I Hope You’re Happy (mp3) (buy)

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Back after a short vacation prompted by family obligations. At least I got to spend an hour at Reckless Records in Chicago! Pawing through the used CDs I came across a Grimsey release by the band Stephanie Says, two good references as the label consistently puts out lovable indie pop and VU worshiping usually yields lavorful fruit. I’ll let you decide if my instincts were correct!

Dave:
Secret Stars – Wait (mp3) (out of print?, buy other releases)

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So in gearing up for the rebirth of the covers contest I went back through all the songs we had done and got obsessed with this one all over again. Most may be familiar with the Death Cab for Cutie version of this song, which is really good, but there’s just something about the original. I feel like it would fit perfectly over the emotional denouement of some awesome indie film.

save those ears, save the music

March 28th, 2008

Engadget points to interesting reuters article about teens not caring about potential hearing loss:

In focus-group discussions with students at two high schools in the Netherlands, researchers found that the teens were generally aware that blasting an MP3 player could harm their hearing. Yet most said they usually played their own device at maximum volume and had no plans to change that.

This reminds me of the group Don’t Lose the Music that I’ve heard about lately. They have a pretty good point: you won’t be able to hear music well if you have hearing loss. Another point about hearing loss is that it won’t just make all music harder to hear; hearing loss affects some frequencies more than others so it’ll distort music as well.

As someone who loves music and has had some temporary hearing loss, I can say it’s not a good situation to be in.

Check out my recommendations for ear plugs and keep the volume reasonable on those ipods.

obligatory Outside Lands post

March 27th, 2008

It’s been a few weeks since I first talked about it. The Outside Lands Festival (no, not…) line-up has been announced and as I mentioned tickets go on sale soon. Everyone has commented on this already.

Here are some of the bands I might actually like to see that are in the line-up:

Radiohead
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Beck
Wilco
Manu Chao
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals
Broken Social Scene
Regina Spektor
Andrew Bird
Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings
Drive-By Truckers
Donavon Frankenreiter
Bon Iver
Sean Hayes

But tickets are $225 (+ absurd ticketmaster fees)–Scott made a good point that you might need an extra job to pay for that pretty hefty fee–and I’ve made known my preference for venue-based festivals over giant outdoor festivals. I know I sound like an ornery old man in saying this, but I’d prefer going to see just the bands I want to see in a small venue rather than with thousands of people while sitting or standing miles from the stage.

on sale soon (03.27.08 edition)

March 27th, 2008

Posted every Thursday On Sale Soon is a weekly series of the tickets going on sale that weekend.

Where to get tickets: The Independent, Great American Music Hall, Slim’s, Fillmore, Warfield, and other Livenation venues. Another Planet booked venues like Greek Theatre @ Berkeley, Palace of Fine Arts, etc. Bimbo’s.

Pre sale now/ Thurs March 27:
8/22-8/24 Outside Lands Festival w/ Radiohead, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Jack Johnson, Beck , Wilco,, Manu Chao, Broken Social Scene, Regina Spektor, Devendra Banhart, Andrew Bird, Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, M. Ward, Drive-By Truckers, Donavon Frankenreiter, Bon Iver @ Golden Gate Park

On sale Saturday March 29:
4/19 La 5a Estacion @ San Jose Center for the Performing Arts

7/15 Jonas Brothers @ Shoreline Amphitheatre at Mountain View
7/17 Jonas Brothers @ Sleep Train Pavilion

On sale Sunday March 30:
4/22 John Butler, Mama Kin @ The Fillmore

5/2 Nick Swardson @ The Warfield
5/16 Robyn @ Bimbo’s
5/22 Crudo featuring Mike Patton and Dan the Automator @ Great American

6/13 Poor Man’s Whiskey, The Mother Truckers, Four Year Bender @ Slim’s
6/19 George Michael @ HP Pavilion
6/20 She Wants Revenge, Be Your Own Pet, The Virgins @ The Fillmore
6/20 Earth, Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter @ Great American

8/22-8/24 Outside Lands Festival w/ Radiohead, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Jack Johnson, Beck , Wilco,, Manu Chao, Broken Social Scene, Regina Spektor, Devendra Banhart, Andrew Bird, Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, M. Ward, Drive-By Truckers, Donavon Frankenreiter, Bon Iver @ Golden Gate Park

Double check all information as venues and promoters often change on-sale times and days up until the last minute.

I’ve been loving this song: Drive By Truckers’ “Two Daughters…”

March 26th, 2008

I put it on my January mixtape. And they played it on Conan a little bit ago. I like it’s sound a ton–the vocals, banjo, brushed drums and pedal steel go really well together.

I only have a four song sampler from the album. I like that–how’s the rest of the album? Should I pick it up?

(Looks like the band will be in town for Outside Lands in August.)

birthday

March 26th, 2008

Everyone’s 6th most favorite music blog turns one today.

swedish showman of the century: jens lekman (“solo”) @ bottom of the hill

March 25th, 2008

On Sunday I saw a “solo” set by Jens Lekman at the Bottom of the Hill.

I’d seen him a week and change prior at SxSW, but I’d bought these tickets months ago and I was really glad I went. The SxSW Mohawk set was good but this “solo”–I keep using quotes because, in fact, he played with a bongo player, perhaps named Tanya–in a small venue was a lot more intimate and malleable than that set.

Si, Claro was up on stage when I got there. It was one guitar and a voice. It was pretty dark/ emotional stuff that didn’t seem to fit with the band that most people had come for.

Jens came on wearing a white shirt with a flowery design on it and put on his archtop guitar. He made what he referred to as a “silly” request, that people didn’t take videos of that night’s performance. People sort of laughed at this and he said he figured that would be the reaction and that he wanted to keep this night special.

Special, the night was. From the get go, it was clear that Jens was in top form. He played and sang well. In addition to that, though, he’s become an excellent showman; he had the audience in the palm of his hand the whole time. We were following each detail of his stories, each demonstrative hand movement and gesture, each exaggerated facial expression.

Even in his most solo moments in the few times I’d seen him before, he’d always played with his samples at least (save the time I saw him play a song standing on a coffee table at the Rickshaw Stop with just ukulele and vocals.) On Sunday, he played entirely without samples until “I’m Leaving You Because I Don’t Love You”, which was just a couple from the end of his regular set (and he played the encore without samples).

Here are some of the highlights:

  • “Black Cab” sans sample–I’d always heard this song with the sample along with it. He played that part on guitar and it gave the song a whole new feel.
  • the storyteller version for “Postcard for Nina”–lately his live version of this song is accompanied by a long story of how the song came about and is acted out on stage to quite an extent by Jens
  • Rollicking singalong of “Sweet Summer’s Night on Hammer Hill”–everyone sang “bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom!” while Jens mimed his heart beating.
  • Arthur Russell song (“A Little Lost”) on kalimba–I love when Jen’s plays his gorgeous sounding kalimba and this was no different. It wasn’t as heartbreakingly gorgeous as the version of “the Cold Swedish Winter” I heard him do on the instrument a few yeas back, but it was pretty nice
  • “Julie” w/ reggaeton beat–Jens said that when he was first in SF (spring of ’05 for a Cafe du Nord show) he said the same song was coming out of all of the car stereos and then sang the generic reggaeton beat, which the bongo player picked up and then they did a really odd and awesome version of “Julie” on top of it.
  • Opposite of Hallelujah->Just a Little More Time (Chairman of the Board)->Opposite of Hallelujah–Jens did a great version of long-time favorite of mine, “Opposite of Hallelujah” (with samples) but then segued into the 70s tune “Just a Little More Time” (during which he mostly danced and sang away from the mic) before coming back to his song, which ended with him miming the bell part in the air (see photo below)
    Jens Lekman – Opposite of Hallelujah (mp3)

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  • his story telling in general–between songs and even mid-song he’d break out quirky and funny little stories


Jens playing the air bells along with the “Opposite of Hallelujah” sample

This was the encore as I remember it:

Encore:

  • Se a Vida E (Pet Shop Boys)
  • You are the Light
  • Shirin
  • Pocketful of Money (singalong in lieu of Beat Happening sample)

Closing with everyone singing along with “Pocketful of Money” was a pretty amazing and satisfying way to finish up the evening.


View the rest of my album.

downtime

March 25th, 2008

There seemed to be some downtime for a couple hours earlier today on the server that hosts IPMN. I’m investigating.