today’s radio show “I once was Canadian”–playlist, mp3

March 25th, 2008

I was too busy to post this during the show, but I did my radio show, “I once was Canadian” like every Tuesday 6-9am on KZSU.

You can check out my playlist. I liked the mix of music this morning–good oldies stuff, some new stuff, some local stuff. I feel like it had decent flow between the songs. I’ve got to work on being more awake, though–it’s so dang early.

Also, if you want to give the show a listen, click the play button:

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It starts about a minute in and then a (funny) comedy track comes on. If you want to get right to the music, go to about 5 minutes in. [Note: if you don’t get the whole mp3 and it’s still early on Tuesday, that may be because the mp3 hasn’t fully uploaded yet. Try back again later.]

nada surf, sea wolf @ the fillmore

March 24th, 2008

Saturday night I went to the one true Fillmore to see Nada Surf (myspace) and Sea Wolf (myspace).

I’d seen Sea Wolf a week ago at SxSW and Nada Surf a month ago (acoustic) at the Swedish American Hall, but I decided to hit this show up anyway.

I’d seen Sea Wolf a week ago at SxSW (as I mentioned) and they played a fairly similar setlist this time. While I liked their previous set, I feel like this show worked a lot better. It was tighter and sounded better (probably due to the fact that they had a chance to sound check). I expected that the front rows would be Nada Surf diehards that were just waiting for their band to come on and to be somewhat indifferent to the opener, but as it was there were a lot of people who knew the songs and were shouting out requests. I was a bit surprised.

I guess I don’t have a lot else to say about Sea Wolf. They played well. It was a fun set. I’m not sad that I saw them again.

the view through the wide-angle mirrors that were set up stage rear

Nada Surf came on after a short break. I’d seen them twice before but this was, in fact, the first time I’d see them play as a full rock band–the previous two were acoustic and stripped down and informal for a benefit. During the break I noticed a lot of young adults, so to speak, at the front. As I mentioned yesterday, I love it when I see an all ages crowd at an all ages show.

The band played pretty well, rocking their new songs and old ones as well, much to the crowd’s enjoyment.

Matthew also turns out to be super nice. Between two songs, the kid right in front of me said quite quietly “I’m really thirsty, Matthew” and during the next set break he said a little louder “Matthew, do you have any extra water?” and Matthew handed him a bottle of water. Nice guy!

A bunch more photos after the jump, or check out my photo album.

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Austin Guitar Army: Explosions in the Sky @ Great American

March 23rd, 2008

On Friday I saw the Austin Guitar Army[1], Explosions in the Sky (myspace) at the Great American.

Thinking about the show, I’m realizing I don’t have a ton to say about it. It was a really great show and I was really happy I went. Explosions played their songs really well and with a lot of energy. There weren’t a lot of breaks between songs–one song would wind down to a ringing sustain and the next one would start up immediately. The whole thing felt like one hour and a half long song. People who sometimes squeeze in a quick round of applause during that sustain; other times there wasn’t applause. There was more applause in general at the beginning of songs that were the more popular or recognizable Explosions songs, e.g. “Your Hand in Mine”.

Here’s one thing I can definitely say, though: when they turn on the house lights at the Great American, the show is over, the band is not coming back. The lights come on and people make their way to the back. That’s how it works. Well, this is first show that I’ve been to there that the audience refused to accept this and kept clapping and yelling anyway. Eventually guitarist Munaf had to come back on stage and said they had nothing else to play.

I take it some people like 21+ shows because they don’t have to deal with teens. I hate 21+ shows when I was younger, but these days I just tend not to notice, unless, of course, there’s a significant contingent of under age kids at a show, like there was Friday. (Thinking about it often makes sense that Explosions were a big draw with teens–accessible but dark and somewhat disaffected music seems like it fits with the high school experience for many people.) They’re often so eager and happy to be there that’s it’s refreshing. San Francisco isn’t a particularly jaded music town, but the older concert goers, myself included, often have a distance from the band, the music and the experience. In addition, I love when younger people are into good music. It gives me hope about the industry.

One interesting thing in the evening is that at this point I’ve seen most of my post-rock favorites (Rachel’s, Godspeed!, A Silver Mt Zion, Mogwai), but so many times before I enjoyed the show and the bands played well (or even amazingly, as A Silver Mt. Zion) but I wasn’t really in the mood for post-rock on each particular evening. Post-rock is definitely more of a mood-dependent music for me than many other genres. I was definitely a lot more welcoming mood-wise of Explosions in the Sky than of previous post-rock bands. I don’t know if Friday’s show just happened to fall when I was in the mood for it or if the Explosions’ welcoming sound got me in the mood.

[1] yup, a reference.

[Update:] The show has appeared on if you want to give it a listen.

the speakers @ the hemlock

March 23rd, 2008

On Thursday, I saw the Speakers (myspace) with Ash Reiter at the Hemlock. The Speakers are Brian Miller of ipickmynose local fav Lightning Bug Situation along with Peter Musselman. Last of the Blacksmiths was also on the bill, but I wasn’t their for their set.

Ash Reiter was first up. It’s on days like Thursday where the Hemlock feels like the most intimate venue possible. It’s a small place and it wasn’t entirely full, so it felt like the artist was playing just for you. Ash played guitar and sang and her band members played upright bass and jazzy arch-top guitar. She sings a timeless sort of song, hearkening back to 40s and 50s jazz standards. Her band set up (the upright bass and arch-top guitar) and their style (the guitar especially followed jazzy patterns that the jazzers might call “comping”) added to this feel. She played a nice set.

I’d been looking forward to seeing Lightning Bug Situation/ the Speakers for a while, having loved A Leaf; a Stream and being curious how it would translate live. It was just Peter and Brian on stage, Brian on guitar and Peter mostly on accordion. However, Peter started on the “suitcase of mystery” (a suitcase that contains some electronics such that the sound changes as you move, hit and drop it) and Brian on effects. I can’t say this is the best way to draw in the masses, but it was pretty interesting. They played well, but a few times they were really getting into something gorgeous (like their lovely live rendition of the Lightning Bug Situation song “Message to Myself after Franny was Born”), there was a sustained squeal of feedback. I’m talking 15 or 30 seconds of feedback from the mic. It ground the song to a stop (what else could they do?) and broke the mood. (They did manage to pull off a great version of the LBS song “Topher’s Song” without interruption, though.)

I decided I just need to see them again and hopefully hear a technically better functioning set.

You can see a few more photos at my photo album.

hey, catholics

March 21st, 2008

Here’s a tune for you today:

Elvis Perkins – Good Friday (mp3)

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You can pick up the whole (still excellent) album at insound.

Song obsession friday! (for the week ending March 21)

March 21st, 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):
Bon Iver – Creature Fear (mp3) (buy)

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Bon Iver – Team (mp3) (buy)

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It’s been a couple weeks since the last song obsession, a couple weeks in which I’ve seen well over 38 bands, so while it’s not hard to think if I was song obsessed, but figuring out what I was most obsessed with is another problem.

I’d heard “Skinny Love” many months ago, but it took Natalie’s song obsession a few weeks ago to push over the edge. I bought the album and I’ve been listening to the whole thing obsessively, especially “Creature Fear” (which runs over into “Team”). It’s a pretty spectacular song and the vocals and build for the chorus really have a special quality to them.

Wilco – Handshake Drugs (mp3) (buy)

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I recently picked up A Ghost is Born at a fantastic used CD store near Pittsburgh. I’ve had a lot of the songs for a while, so most of the album wasn’t new to me.

Like I mentioned when I chose one of the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot demos, I really think that the production (by Jim O’Rourke) moves the songs from “okay” to “excellent.” In Handshake Drugs, which for some reason reminds me of Jesus, Etc from YHF, there’s a wonderful contrast between the fairly laid-back guitar/drums/piano, and the driving, 8th-note bassline. It’s played with a pick, and processed in such a way that it’s reminiscent of early 60’s British-Invasion bands, but is played in such a perfect groove that for me, it becomes the focal
point of the song. When I listen, I lock into the bass groove, just like I lock into the Rhodes line of Jesus, Etc.

The production of the rest of the track (and album, for the most part) is timeless; it’s hard for me to believe, but the sound of Wilco records is far removed from any modern trend in audio production. There’s not much compression (piano parts from YHF excepted), there’s tons of overall dynamic range, there’s no artificial space, no artificial pitch-tracking. For a group that thrives in the digital
world (Tweedy has a notorious love affair with Protools and digital recording), their recent albums sound surprisingly like they’re made by a small group of guys, sitting in a room together.

The track comes to a close in a wall of noise just long enough to be interesting – it’s a strange contrast, but it works.

John Quinn J – the Avondale Mine Disaster (mp3) (buy)

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i don’t like how lomax field recordings (or smithsonian folkways, nonesuch traveler, even the sublime frequencies series) have turned lots of folk music in fetish objects because of the context of their recordings, but then again i would never have heard these if i didn’t buy into it a little. depressing music also makes me happy in a twisted way, so maybe i’m not a pc hypocrite afterall…

Natalie K:
Delta Spirit – People, Turn Around (mp3) (buy)

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love the tinkly piano in this song. When I saw them play a show in San Diego two weeks ago, they ended with this song, and it turned into a huge singalong that was really moving.

Waterdeep – Not Enough Time (mp3) (buy)

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Obsession this week is Waterdeep’s “Not Enough Time.” One of the things that I have learned through the self-observance necessary to send these things in is that I never seem to become obsessed with my very favorite songs, which goes against my expectations. “Not Enough Time” surprised me again, since it has never stuck out to me as one of Waterdeep’s exceptional tracks, yet I’ve been singing the chorus through just about every day for a while now. I think that my partiality to sixths is what keeps it stuck, along with my general fascination with the Chaffers’ voices and delivery.

PS – The fill at 1:34 also might have something to do with it… nice and organic.

on sale soon (03.20.08 edition)

March 20th, 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.

On sale now/ Thurs March 20:
4/14 Mudcrutch feat. Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Tom Leadon and Randall Marsh @ Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium

6/29 True Colors, Cyndi Lauper, The B-52s, Andy Bell of Erasure, Wanda Sykes, Puppini Sisters @ The Greek Theatre at UC-Berkeley

Pre sale Thursday March 20:
5/17 Charlie Wilson, Brenton Wood, Lisa Lisa, Malo @ Shoreline Amphitheatre at Mountain View

On sale Friday March 21:
5/5 Laura Veirs, Liam Finn

On sale Saturday March 22:
9/5, 9/6, 9/7 Dave Matthews Band, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings @ The Greek Theatre at UC-Berkeley

On sale Sunday March 23:
4/5 Jason Mraz with The Makepeace Brothers @ The Fillmore
4/12 Hot Challenge, Panda, Dangraham @ Great American
4/16 Pleasuremaker, The Hot Toddies, The Crazies Will Destroy You, Young Has Beens @ The Independent
4/16, 4/17 Mudcrutch @ The Fillmore
4/30 The Field @ The Independent

5/1 The Dilettantes, LSD and the Search for God, Sky Parade @ The Independent
5/15 Brett Dennen, Mason Jennings. Missy Higgins @ Zellerbach Auditorium
5/15 Langhorne Slim & The War Eagles @ The Independent
5/18 -miyavi- @ Slim’s

7/5 Red Elvises @ Slim’s
7/10 Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Jason Webley @ Great American

10/25 Kamelot, Edguy @ Slim’s

On sale Monday, March 24:
5/2 Duran Duran @ Sleep Train Pavilion
8/16 Donna Summer @ Paramount Theatre

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

advertising dollars, “new business models” are still all the talk; other industry stuff

March 19th, 2008

There was an article in Advertising Age a few days ago (and now, unfortunately, it’s no longer free online) about the amounts bands get for having their songs placed in a commercial and it shocked me. It said that licensing (master + sync rights) a song can bring in $300,000 for a song by a small band, with the band getting up to $195K of that with the other parts going to the publishing company and label[1]. Feist “only” got $80,000 because Apple is a “cool” brand [2] that artists want to be associated with.

I was shocked at how much bands were getting. $300K is a lot of money. In the realm of advertising it’s not a lot, but in the realm of an indie band, it’s huge. I was also shocked, because last time I read actual numbers on advertising licensing was in a NY Times profile of the Apples in Stereo where it stated they got $18,000 for “Strawberry Fire” in a Sony commercial. The article was back in 2001 and the licensing deal was in 1999, but it’s not like inflation in the intervening 9 years has caused $18K in 1999 dollars to be even anywhere close to $80K or $300K in 2008 dollars.

Digital Music News also had an article about SxSW’s increased importance as a place for placing songs.

In more SxSW news, the Wall Street Journal has an article about the tension between unofficial SxSW-timed parties in Austin and official SxSW events. Apparently, the chief of SxSW, Inc, Roland Swenson has been pretty draconian:

At last year’s SXSW, Mr. Swenson took extreme measures against the unaffiliated events. He reported more than a hundred parties to fire officials saying they were in makeshift venues and could pose a danger to public safety. He says his goal was to create a level playing field for the festival’s official venues.

Right, I’m buying that he’s only concerned for public safety.

Also, an interesting part of the article is this: “The clubs aren’t paid directly, but sign on because of the potential foot traffic and bar sales.” Wow, sounds like a pretty good deal for SxSW, Inc. Blank slate on a free club to do what you want.

One more interesting note on the somewhat draconian practices of SxSW comes from this article by Trespassers William–who’s actually playing Sunday at 12 Galaxies with ipickmynose fav Or the Whale–band member Ross Simonini:

For some reason, selling CDs (or anything) is against the SXSW communist-like law practices — though I saw this rule broken too many times to count — so at the end of the show we just handed out copies of our album to anyone who wanted them.

No wonder I didn’t see merch tables set up and had to hunt down bands to buy things from them! If SxSW is about finding up and coming bands, how do people hear more of that great no-name band they just heard if they can’t buy their CD? Is it actually the expectation that in the massive swarming cloud of bands and people that every fan can remember every band that they liked so they can then hunt down their web pages to buy their albums? I’m not sure I get the logic.

Finally, there’s been some interesting articles lately about “new business models”. Arts Technica (and Reuters) have articles this week about labels setting up their own digital download sites to bypass the cut that iTunes and other such retailers take and to be able to offer up a wider variety of bit rates and formats.

Coolfer points to a great article on TimesOnline about the contrast between Shayan Italia, who is working on a small-scale investment model (investors own some of his future earnings), and Duffy, who is backed by a major label.

[Italia’s] His Reflection reached No 1 on YouTube’s music video charts last week, with 190,000 plays in the first 24 hours of its placement online, all of which sounds promising enough. Italia owns his material, selling 1 per cent shares in the business that controls all his copyrights, plus any tour and other music-related income for £12,000 a time.

Glance at this week’s hit parade, meanwhile, and it is Duffy, the Welsh singer, who leads the singles and album chart. The 23-year-old was first signed by Rough Trade, the independent group that manages her, and it brought her to Universal Music, the wearyingly dominant market leader. Backed by the kind of marketing campaign that only big music can provide, Duffy has been compared – rather optimistically – to Dusty Springfield, Crucially, her strong voice and well-crafted album Rockferry do not, at least at this stage, disappoint on that hype.

Rockferry shifted 180,000 CDs in its first week, worth rather more than 190,000 views on YouTube, without the help of a television programme talent contest or any internet nonsense. In fact, the album was marketed conventionally to entice the mainstream buyer.

It looks like the old business model is still working some point. 180,000 CDs is not record breaking, but it’s still a lot. To give you some perspective, Coolfer points out that the highest selling album in the U.S. last week was Alan Jackson’s at 119,000.

I’m all for new business models in the music industry, but if they’re not working–well, that’s something to think about, certainly.

[1] This is coming from memory now, but I do have a good memory, but you don’t have to trust me if you don’t want to. This article also provides the same numbers, though, citing the same article.

[2] Coolfer has some interesting thoughts related to that article about how Apple doesn’t actually pick independent artists, just indie-sounding artists.

on the radio, playlist

March 18th, 2008

My radio show, “I once was Canadian”, is on the air on KZSU, 90.1 MHz or online until 9am Pacific. Give it a listen

My playlist is online and I’m updating it real time.

SxSW 2008 recap: lists and numbers

March 17th, 2008

Top four shows:

  1. J Tillman @ Habana Calle 6
  2. Boubacar Diebate @ Copa
  3. Fanfarlo @ Emo’s Annex
  4. Two Sheds @ Cedar St. Courtyard

Bands seen: (around) 38

Different shows (showcases, parties): 14 (7, 7)

Money spent on shows: $63

Bands seen that I’d never see before: 33

Bands seen that I’d seen before: 5 (David Bazan, Bodies of Water, Jens Lekman, the Morning Benders, Oh No Oh My!)

Showcases turned away from (were full or otherwise weren’t selling tickets): 5 (SC Jag @ the Mohawk, Billions @ Antone’s, Bowery Presents @ the Cedar Door, Subpop @ Bourbon Rocks, Saturday @ St. David’s)

Number of those that I stayed and watched the bands through the fence: 1 (SC Jag)

Showcases that said they weren’t selling tickets but let us in later: 1 (BrooklynVegan)

Showcases with posted “no cameras policy”: 7 (all)

Showcases where my bag was checked and my camera was turned away: 1 (Saturday night @ Buffalo Billiards)

Number of shows where I was a “VIP”: 1 (the Bay Area Takeover. Thanks, Christian! I feel special)

Number of shows I thought about going to to see the Dodos, but later decided I needed to see someone else that was much harder to see in San Francisco (showcases): 4 (French Kiss showcase, SFxSXSW, Leafy Green showcase, KVRX party)

Top shows in the ‘as awesome as I could have hoped it’d be’ category: J Tillman, Two Sheds, Fanfarlo

Best bar band: Centro-matic

Best UK upbeat indie pop band (and close second): Fanfarlo (Noah and the Whale)

Highest energy performances: Von Iva and Red Rocket (the Blacks, Throw Me A Statue and Dr. Dog weren’t on valium either)

Oddest performance: 60 Watt Kid

Most criminally underattended show (and a guess at attendance): J Tillman @ Habana Calle 6, the Undertow Showcase (75)

Number of times I have now seen David Bazan (as part of Pedro the Lion or Headphones, or solo): 14

Number of shows besides his own that I saw David Bazan: 2 (Centro-matic, J Tillman)

Number of shows that I saw Daniel of Nada Surf: 1 (Park the Van/ Daytrotter showcase during Dr. Dog)

Best celebrity that I saw in DFW on the way to Austin (and a close second): Hulk Hogan (Rogue Wave)

Money spent on beer: ~$25

Beers consumed: [redacted for the benefit of the author’s reputation]

Best meal: Curra’s Grill in South Austin

Best afternoon: +1 house party at Hank Sinatra’s house

Approximate number of times that [redacted] of +1 yelled about “Olde English” out of a 40 oz container “oh! that’s so good!!”: 6

Number of times I bored Chris of the morning benders by talking about dhrupad-style Indian classical music: 1

Best sign (and location): “Cheap craft beers. *Sexy bitches* *No bums* Bonus” (outside Maggie Mae’s)

CDs purchased: 5

Vinyl purchased (and what): 1 (7″ split w/ Fanfarlo & Sleeping States)

Number of other people in America that likely have said 7″: 0

CDs given to me or otherwise free: 10

Silly English bands that didn’t have any CDs to sell: 1 (Noah and the Whale)

Number of apologies Fanfarlo gave for the price of their merch due to the relative strength of the pound to the dollar: 3

Best wurst: Best Wurst

If you want to read more or see my photo albums:
Day 1 (RadioRadio, the Low Lows, Jeffrey Lewis and the Jitters, Kaki King, Centro-matic)
Photo album

Day 2 (Two Sheds, Red Rocket, David Bazan, 60 Watt Kid, The Blacks, Film School, Von Iva, Two Gallants, Bodies of Water, Evangelicals, Bon Iver, Jens Lekman, J Tillman)
Photo album

Day 3 (Fanfarlo, Deer Tick, Jeremy Yocum and the Last Rounders, Trainwreck Riders, Peggy Sue and the Pirates, Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Sit, the Morning Benders)
Photo album

Day 4 (Throw Me the Statue, Noah and the Whale, Castledoor, DeVotchKa, Grand Archives, Sea Wolf, Boubacar Diebate, Oh No Oh My!, the Teeth, Spinto Band, Dr. Dog)
Photo album