noise pop 2009: josh ritter, laura gibson @ great american (photos, review)

February 28th, 2009

Thursday night I went to the Great American Music Hall to see Josh Ritter (myspace) and Laura Gibson and to shoot photos for the Bay Bridged. I also saw local Dave Smallen.

I’d heard a few songs from each Ritter and Gibson, but I wasn’t overly familiar with any of the artists’ music going into the show.

The line wasn’t long when I arrived but that’s because it was already pretty full inside. There was a 20s, hipster contingent, but the age range was wider than an average Great American show, both older, dressed up a little, and younger, dressed in t shirts and jeans.

Dave Smallen was on when I got there with just his guitar and voice. After some angry and concrete protest song[1], I wasn’t looking forward to the rest of the set. After that, though, he mixed it up between serious, often angsty songs with lighter fair–”silly songs” he called them. While the din of the audience chatter threatened to drown out Smallen, I felt he deserved more credit than the audience seemed to be giving him. I didn’t love everything he did but I thought there were some good ones, particularly among his lighter songs.

I don’t want to ruin the suspense, but what was one of the worst audiences I’ve seen for Smallen got even more disrespectful with their chatter during the beautiful set of Laura Gibson, but suddenly became an enthusiastic and great audience for Josh Ritter. I understand how this happens–Ritter fans come for Ritter and don’t really care to see the openers–but I don’t understand why. If you love music, you’d think you’d give other bands a chance to play you music and be quiet for long enough to hear it. Commentary on audience talking aside, let’s move on with the rest of the show.

Laura Gibson came on stage with her band after a short break. She had two musicians with her, each with half of a drum kit. The guy on the left also manned the banjo, castanets and singing saw, while the one on the right played the melodica and accordion. I believe both handled harmony vocal duties.

She played a beautiful set, dominated, at least in my mind, by Laura’s fragile, fluid voice and guitar. Besides the rousing “Spirited” near the end of the set, it was a pretty subdued set of music, carefully put together. I’m excited to see her again in May when she plays the Bottom of the Hill with Damien Jurado–I’m hoping it’ll be a little quieter.

Laura Gibson – Spirited (mp3)

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I probably know more bands than the average person, but there are always bands that slip through for whatever reason. Of course I’d heard of Josh Ritter, but before this show, I’d never really listened to him, except for a quick myspace investigation.

With the audience applauding madly, Jose Ritter came on stage with a grin that stretched from ear to ear. Ritter was billed as “solo, with a string quartet”. He stood with his guitar in the center of the stage, draped in while and yellow light for much of the show. To the right was a string quartet that joined him on some songs.

To a Ritter fan, I’d half to guess that this set was amazing, almost magical. For me, it was a bit like being the outsider while a preacher riles up his congregation. Ritter seemed ecstatic to be there. The crowd was really into the songs. After singing along to part of the second song in the set, Ritter thanked the audience for doing so and there was a lot more singing along for the rest of the set.

The first song the string quartet accompanied, they sounded muddy and a bit like a hodgepodge, but where they played for the rest of the set after that, they added nicely to the sound. The set was made up of crowd pleasers and new songs, solo songs and ones with the string quartet.

I’m not sure I’ll be running to buy his CDs, but I did like Ritter’s songs, especially in this setting. They have nice melodies and he has some nice lyrical turns (“Paul said to Peter, you got to rock yourself a little harder” for example).

You can view more photos over at the Bay Bridged and at my photo album.

[1] There’s a reason that greats like Bob Dylan wrote abstract or narrative protest songs: they work much better than some angry diatribe against specific politics or a specific politician.

laura gibson/ josh ritter (and more later) photos over at the bay bridged

February 27th, 2009

The nice guys over at the Bay Bridged asked me to shoot photos for them during Noise Pop. The first set is running with their Josh Ritter/ Laura Gibson at Great American review. They’re also running over at Noisepop.com.

I’m also shooting Sholi’s show tomorrow night at Bottom of the Hill for the Bay Bridged and photos from that show will be up over there and here as well.

song obsession friday! (for the week ending Feb 27)

February 27th, 2009

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):
Realpeople – My Night with the Prostitute from Marseille (mp3) (buy)

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I had a post almost ready to go about this song since Tuesday, but I haven’t had a chance to finish it. It’s tentatively titled “Sweet New Jamz from Realpeople (sort of Beirut)”. Catchy title, right? (In reality, it’s only sort of new–the song was released as a Beirut song on Natalie Portman’s mixtape.)

Zach Condon had a electronic project before Beirut called Realpeople and he recently brought it back with his Beirut/ Realpeople double EP. It’s out of that style that songs like this one and “Scenic World” (one of my Beirut favs) come. Dancey electronic music–I’m not usually a fan–plus Condon’s melancholy croon somehow work really well together on this song. His melodies and croon are just so compelling.

Keith:
For Against – Loud and Clear (mp3) (buy)

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Alright, I had never listened very closely to this peppy goth-tinged new wave song from 1985. But upon further review – the bile he’s spewing! No wonder these guys never got signed to a major label! I wonder what A&R team tempted them with glittering visions of drugs and illicit sex before revealing a contract replete with financial terms competitive with the retail or food service industries. Sad to say, not much has changed in 25 years …

Dave:
Wreckless Eric – Whole Wide Word (mp3) (buy)

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So I was listening to This American Life last weekend and this song comes on at the end that totally grabs my attention. Luckily for me, being the erudite story tellers that they are at TAL, all the songs they use in the show are listed with each episode on the website. I don’t know how I’ve never heard this song before, it’s so freakin’ catchy. It even has hand claps!!

Addendum: **I’m also semi-obssesed with this. I know it’s silly, but I think that the combination of production quality, lyrics and delivery just make this one of the best parodies I’ve ever seen.

toromiro @ kzsu/ ipickmynose session (photos, setlist, exclusive-like mp3s)

February 26th, 2009

Last night, as I’d mentioned I had Toromiro (myspace) in studio at KZSU for a live performance. They played a nice set of subdued indie folk. They were funny and nice to boot.

Here’s their setlist and some exclusive mp3s:

  • Ode to Pancake
  • The Last Couple
    Toromiro – The Last Couple (Live at KZSU) (exclusive mp3)

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  • Cinnamon
    Toromiro – Cinnamon (Live at KZSU) (exclusive mp3)

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  • Sometimes
    Toromiro – Sometimes (Live at KZSU) (exclusive mp3)

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  • [Untitled Instrumental]
  • I am Important
    Toromiro – I am Important (Live at KZSU) (exclusive mp3)

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  • the Fisherman
  • These Lines
  • The Light in Your Soul [traditional]

They don’t have any shows or releases coming up in the near term (though they are working on writing and recording), but William and Wendy are displaying some art this Saturday from 7-11pm at Queen Nails’ Annex as part of Art Clash’s Fun-a-day project.

Thanks to the band for coming down and to Smurph, as always, for engineering. And thanks to Andy for help editing and cleaning up the mp3s.

on sale soon (02.26.08 edition)

February 26th, 2009

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, Shoreline, and other Livenation venues, the Warfield. Another Planet booked venues like Greek Theatre @ Berkeley, Palace of Fine Arts, etc. Bimbo’s.

On sale now/ Thursday Feb. 26:
3/17 The Academy Is… @ Cafe du Nord

4/8 The Airborne Toxic Event @ Slim’s

Pre sale Thursday Feb. 26:
4/21 Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper @ Fox Theater (password == ’510′)

5/8 Keane, The Helio Sequence @ Fox Theater (same password)

On sale Friday Feb 27:
4/20 Atmosphere, P.O.S., Attracted to Gods @ the Warfield
4/20 Cypress Hill @ the Fillmore

5/1 Chris Cornell @ The Grand

On sale Saturday Feb 28:
3/26 Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman @ Slim’s
3/27 Lil’ Wayne T-Pain, Gym Class Heroes, Keri Hilson @ HP Pavilion

On sale Sunday March 1:
3/26 Rasputina, Ruby Throat @ the Independent

4/1 India Arie @ Zellerbach
4/2 JJ Cale @ Bimbo’s
4/2 Rachael Yamagata, Greg Laswell @ Slim’s
4/9 Gary Louris & Mark Olson, Teddy Thompson @ Great American
4/13 Kevin Rudolf @ the Fillmore
4/23 Protest the Hero, Misery Signals, The Number 12 Looks Like You, Scale the Summit @ Slim’s
4/24 Vienna Teng @ Yoshi’s
4/30 Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, Sister Suvi, Samantha Crane @ The Independent

5/7 Spectrum, Dora Flood @ Great American
5/9 Mike Doughty @ The Independent
5/11 Bob Schneider @ The Independent
5/12 Cloud Cult @ The Independent
5/14 Mad Sin, Rezurex, Thee Merry Widows @ Slim’s
5/15, 5/16 the Avett Brothers, Magnolia Electric Co @ the Fillmore
5/20 Cowboy Mouth @ Slim’s
5/22 Fisherspooner @ the Fillmore

6/4 Queensryche @ the Fillmore
6/9 IAMX, Hypernova @ Slim’s

7/6, 7/7 Reverend Horton Heat, Nekromantix @ Great American

8/6 The Infamous Stringdusters @ Great American
8/12 Diana Krall @ Davies Symphony Hall

On sale Monday March 2:
4/13 Leonard Cohen @ Paramount Theater

6/29 Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood @ Oracle Arena

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

Update: added the Kevin Rudolf and Fisherspooner dates.

david bazan @ san jose house party (mini-review, photos)

February 25th, 2009

Last night I saw a David Bazan (myspace) house concert for second time in a week. Read that other post for more extensive coverage of a house concert. This’ll be mostly photos.

I haven’t seen many bands multiple times on the same tour (Sufjan may be the only one that I have, now that I think about it), but Aaron of Cameraphonic offered to put me on the guest list for this one and I couldn’t refuse.

The song selection was somewhat similar to the previous show–he’s trying out a lot of his new songs (the album, by the way, is called Curse Your Branches and will be out in August). The conversation between songs was quite different. Some of the topics were the same (the story behind “Priests and Paramedics”, inspiration), but in general it was more in depth and had a more somber tone than the Berkeley house show.

It was a pretty amazing experience still. If you like Bazan/ Pedro, I’d highly recommend going to one of these if you can. A bunch of house shows down the west coast and then into the middle of the country go on sale tomorrow, Thursday 2/26 at 1pm PST. They’ve been selling out quick, so be on your toes!

Update: Here’s the setlist, courtesy of the forum:

01. Hard To Be
02. God Bless (This Mess)
03. Hot Girls [Headphones]
04. Please Baby Please
05. Curse Your Branches
06. Priests & Paramedics
07. Harmless Sparks/Fewer Broken Pieces
08. When We Fell
09. Lost My Shape
10. Bearing Witness
11. In Stitches
12. Foregone Conclusions
13. Hallelujah [Leonard Cohen]

radio show back on this afternoon; Toromiro live in studio tomorrow (9-10pm)

February 24th, 2009

control A
cred: ipickmynose

After a week off for vacation, I’m back on the air this afternoon doing my “I Once Was Canadian” radio show on KZSU. I’m doing 3 hour shows, so that means all the more fun every Tuesday from 3-6pm. Listen in!

During either show you can listen online or at 90.1 FM. You can also follow along with my playlist online.

Also, I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be hosting locals Toromiro (myspace) for an in-studio performance tomorrow night (Wednesday February 25) from 9-10pm. I enjoyed their set of subdued acoustic folky music back when I saw them in September and I’ve since been enjoying their EP. Tune in at 90.1FM or listen online.

Toromiro – Intervals (mp3)

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Update Here’s the show* (as an mp3–starts during “Effigy”) and the playlist:
I once was Canadian – 2/28/09 (mp3)

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  • Riceboy Sleeps – Happiness
  • Andrew Bird – Yawny at the Apocalypse [sound bed]
  • Andrew Bird – Effigy
  • Elvis Perkins – Ash Wednesday
  • Jessica Lea Mayfield – Kiss Me Again
  • Sam Phillips – Don’t Do Anything
  • Phosphorescent – Reasons To Quit
  • the Deep Dark Woods – Hang Me, Oh Hang Me [sound bed]
  • Bon Iver – Bracket, W9
  • Iron & Wine – Dead Man’s Will
  • Great Lake Swimmers – Everything is Moving So Fast
  • J Tillman – Untitled #4
  • Pedro the Lion – Options
  • David Bazan – I Never Wanted You
  • Pedro the Lion – When They Really Get To Know You
  • Sufjan Stevens – The Dress Looks Nice on You
  • Toromiro – Intervals
  • Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Crossed Out Name
  • Bishop Allen – Middle Management
  • Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s – O’ What A Nightmare!
  • Mason Proper – Lock And Key
  • the Shins – Strange Powers
  • Fanfarlo – Harold T. Wilkins, or How To Wait for a Very Long Time
  • Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Optimist vs. The Silent Alarm (When the Saints Go Marching In)
  • the One AM Radio – All I Can Recall is the Haunting
  • Beirut – La Llorona
  • Realpeople – My Night with the Prostitute from Marseilles
  • the Dears – Heartless Romantic [request]
  • Amiina – Ruga
  • Mark Eitzel – Sleep
  • Sholi – Dreams Before People
  • the Morning Benders – Morning Fog
  • Laura Gibson – Spirited
  • Man/ Miracle – Pushing and Shoving
  • Maus Haus – Rigid Breakfast

* I’m going to try to have a podcast of the show every week, but there are some technical difficulties to work out yet.

andrew bird at the fillmore, review and expectations’ bearing on concerts

February 23rd, 2009

andrew bird, #1
Andrew Bird, not last week, by ipickmynose

I’m not sure what to say about Andrew Bird (myspace) at the Fillmore on Friday. It was excellent, for sure. Bird is an amazingly talented musician and a good singer. His band played well. Their song choice was pretty heavy on the new tunes, which is understandable–that’s what they’re promoting, but could we have heard “Scythian Empires”, “Simple X”, “Fiery Crash”, “Sovay” or “A Nervous Tick Motion”. (Thankfully they did play “Plasticities” and “Fake Palindromes”.)

But the thing I’ve been thinking more about, perhaps, is the role of expectations in concerts. I really don’t think musical experience can be separated from context. Last time I saw Andrew Bird I went in with fairly low expectations and I was blown away. I was absolutely floored.

Friday’s show was good, but it didn’t hit me like the other one. I feel like I’m probably more inclined than the average person to divorce myself from a situation and try to look at it objectively, but for all that, I’m sure my expectations play into how I perceive a concert. So was Andrew Bird as good on Friday as last May? Who knows?

No one, probably.

6 years to the day: the one am radio at WMUC, 2003 (live on college radio)

February 22nd, 2009

This is the first of possibly a series called “Live on College Radio”. We’ll see if it continues. If it does, maybe I can think of a better name.

the one am radio
the One AM Radio, 6 days later on the same tour: Feb 28, 2003 in Boston

I know I’ve already been waxing nostalgic today, but the coincidence that I got this 6 years to the day from when it was recorded was too much to pass up. . .

Dozens of a bands probably play on college radio a day. Most of those performances will be broadcast once and never heard again. Even if they are archived by the station, they’ll probably be lost in the shuffle of a constantly rotating cast of DJs and staff. Honestly, we probably lose nothing by some of them disappearing forever, but there are some that deserve to be heard again.

The One AM Radio (myspace) stopped in the College of Maryland’s WMUC studios six years ago today. They played four tunes: the two below plus “Drowsy Haze” and “The House We Will Make”.

This was on their tour with the Wind Up Bird, shortly after their Split EP was released. The Hum of the Electric Air! had come out a year before and A Name Writ in Water wouldn’t come out for another year.

I’ve written before about the amazingly beautiful “All I Can Recall is the Haunting”. “Fever Dream” is a languid and more subtle song that’s no less beautiful.

the One AM Radio – All I Can Recall is the Haunting (Live at WMUC) (mp3) (buy the original)

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the One AM Radio – Fever Dream (Live at WMUC) (mp3) (buy the original)

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Hrishi and his band have a couple tour dates in Phoenix and L.A. He also did a pretty excellent remix of Radiohead’s “Reckoner”. Work has apparently begun on demos for their next album

on touch and go

February 22nd, 2009


July 10, 1997–the day I became an indie rocker?

Yesterday when I wanted to buy the Dark was the Night compilation, the big decision was weather to buy it on emusic or walk down the street to Aquarius and pick it up. (I ended up buying the CD version.)

It wasn’t always like this. There were times before the mp3 (or before we knew about it); times in suburban bubbles, far from well-stocked record stores; times when discovering music meant recommendations from friends and scouring obscure catalogs; times when I listened to one or two new albums a month rather than dozens of bands and albums and each new band had to count.

The news this week (that was later revised to be a little less severe) that Touch and Go/ Quarterstick (wikipedia) was cutting its distribution, jobs and, it seems, new signings for now (rather than forever, as initially reported) hit me really hard. I felt my heart drop.

This isn’t just some label. Touch and Go is, for me, perhaps the most important record label in my development as a music fan, only equaled by Merge. Among the first indie albums I got was Touch and Go’s Lounge Ax Relocation and Defense Fund compilation; the receipt’s above. It introduced me to bands that I later grew up on like the Archers of Loaf, Superchunk, Seam, and Rachel’s and it had great tracks by Sebadoh, Coctails and others. Seam and Rachel’s records were among my most listened to in my teen years. I’ll tell people I grew up on Chicago indie rock, but what I mean is these and other Touch and Go bands. These were bands I listened to in good times and bad, that I put on mixtapes for girls and that I emoted to friends about while they were shaping my ideas of music.

They’re bands I still go back to now both for nostalgia and for the music. Today, they’re still signing bands that I still listen to and respect: Ted Leo, the New Year, and Pinback among them.

Seam – Berlitz (mp3) (buy)

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Rachel’s – Those Pearls… (mp3) (buy)

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On a local note, two local bands Sholi and Mi Ami recently signed to the Quarterstick half of the record label. One can hope they’re not effected adversely by the change.