Sunday, July 31, 2005

Frank Trio Coming to Montpelier

I had never heard of these guys before this week but they are clearly intent on taking over the Montpelier music scene.

I first noticed that they were scheduled to play at the new club, Positive Pie, on Aug. 20th. Then I saw that they were also going to play The Black Door (which is around the corner from Positive Pie) two days earlier on Aug. 18th. And finally, I saw that they were playing The Langdon Street Cafe (which is about a block from Positive Pie) one week later on Aug. 25th.

Wow. Someone really sold them on this market. It makes some sense since they are a jam band from Colorado and Vermonsters go nuts for that sound. But three shows in a week are three different clubs in a town of 8,000. Who do they think they are??? Hot Tuna???

Regardless, they have a few streaming files on their website that you can check out.

Vermont Audioscrobbler Update

Here are the top bands among Vermonters who have an account on Audioscrobbler this week:

1 Radiohead
2 Beck
2 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
2 Sigur Rós
2 The Arcade Fire
2 M. Ward
2 Bob Dylan
2 Wilco
2 M.I.A.
10 Kanye West

Damn! Only one band, Sigur Ros, remained in the top ten from last week to this week. Every other band from last week has been replaced. In fact, last week's number one artist, David Bowie, completely dropped out of the top fifty! I know it's difficult to discern trends from a population of only 17 people but that's still a lot of turnover. Vermonters are a finicky bunch.

Riverwalk Records & Howard Bean Cafe for Sale

Hey! Wanna buy a record store/coffee shop?

The store that conatins both Riverwalk Records and The Howard Bean Cafe in Montpelier is for sale. So, if you have $39,999 to blow and want to listen to vinyl recordings of classic rock all day, this is the spot for you.

The cafe (Dean has given his blessing to the name) is in the back of Riverwalk Records. In fact, the space is barely discernible from the record store.

Riverwalk sells mainly vinyl original pressings of classic rock bands (plus some concert posters and other stuff) while the cafe is basically a few tables and chairs where you can enjoy a cup of Green Mountain Roasters coffee. Nothing fancy.

The cafe's competition is a great coffee shop across the street called Capitol Grounds while Riverwalk doesn't have any local competitors for the vinyl business. In general music, the fine CD store, Buch Spieler, is a block away with a nice selection of rock, pop, jazz, country and world beat CDs.

There are probably better investments around but if your great aunt just left you a huge chunk of money and you've always had a dream to be Rob in High Fidelity, this is the deal for you.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Videos - Bonnie "Prince" Billy & Smog

I know I've posted a few joke videos here but these two are legitimite. Although I use the word "legitimite" loosely with the Bonnie "Prince" Billy video.

Bonnie "Prince" Billy is a musical genius and his collaborative album (Superwolf) this year with Matt Sweeney is one of the best of the year so far. But this video is kind of freaky. It's for the track "I Gave You" off of Superwolf. It's the first single off the album although "What Are You?" and "Only Someone Running" would have been better choices for the single.

Regardless, this video is as low budget as you can get. This is "NYU film student" low-budget. The whole thing is one take with virtually no movement. However, a larger-budget video wouldn't fit Bonnie "Prince" Billy's stylings either. By the way, the guy on the ground at the end is Matt Sweeney.

Video - Bonnie "Prince" Billy - I Gave You

Smog is the one-man band of Bill Callahan who has released a series of underappreciated low-fi classics over the last decade. His new album, A River Ain't Too Much to Love, is good but hasn't overwhelmed me yet. It has a few good tracks, such as "I Feel Like the Mother of the World", "Say Valley Maker" and "The Well", but it lacks some of the variety of his other albums.

The video here is for the first of those two tracks. The important lesson of the video??? Don't trash your hotel room because the cleaning lady may only have one eye.

Video - Smog - I Feel Like Mother of the World

More Math & Physics Club

I wrote about these gangsters earlier and now they spring a new EP on us. With their sound and string of EPs, they are going to get a lot of camparisons to Belle & Sebastian. But that should be good for them because they'll find a lot of accepting fans in that bucket.

Math & Physics Club - Movie Ending Romance

Original Boy Bands

So, you thought it all started with Menudo and New Kids On the Block, right? Well check out these fine boy bands from yesteryear. Great photos.

Thanks to Insound for the link.

Friday, July 29, 2005

American Analog Set

Post-rock is one of those genres that is hard to describe but easy to spot when you hear it. It generally has a light jazz feel swirling in the background over a hefty plate of warm vocals and guitar noodling. American Analog Set clearly falls into this category (except that they are out of Texas rather than Chicago).

If you like the Sea & Cake (particularly their first few albums) then there is a good chance that you'll enjoy these fellows.

Well, they have a new album titled Set Free coming out September 20th and they've generously put one of the new tracks on their website. Plus, they put a live recording of "Punk as Fuck" (the original version is on their great 2001 release Know By Heart). It was recorded in Houston the day after 9/11.

American Analog Set - Immaculate Heart i
American Analog Set - Punk as Fuck (Live)

Grassy Knoll Boys

Grassy Knoll Boys are a bluegrass band out of Austin that formed two years ago. With a name like that in Texas, it's easy to get the impression that they like sticking their thumbs in people's eyes. And while that may be true, the song below isn't controversial or political. It's just a sweet quick bluegrass tune.

Grassy Knoll Boys - Buckeyed Rabbit

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Here Come the Blues!

A little programming note for TV tonight. English Premier League champs, Chelsea, are playing reigning MLS champs, DC United, in DC this evening. The game will be on ESPN2 at 8pm EST.

It's just an exhibition but it's rare when you get to see how an MLS club stacks up against a powerhouse like Chelsea. To give you an idea of the imbalance of the two teams, the annual payroll for Chelsea is $200M vs. $2.2M for DC!

That's some serious cash and that cash will buy you players like John Terry, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Arjen Robben, Hernan Crespo, Damien Duff and many others. Any of those players would be the top player in MLS. Meanwhile, the star attraction for DC is a 16-year-old kid. Granted that kid is Freddy Adu (who scored a beauty of a goal last weekend) but he isn't in Chelsea's class yet.

But at the same time, I'm not expecting the 5-0 drubbing that Chelsea's coah is expecting. It'll probably be closer than expected with Chelsea out-classing DC in the end. Regardless, it's better than watching summer re-runs.

UPDATE: As expected, Chelsea won last night 2-1. However, DC played them tight and even led briefly. I give Peter Novak, DC's coach, credit for pressuring Chelsea deep in Chelsea's half and, in general, playing them aggressively. That strategy could have yielded a blowout for Chelsea if DC had come out flat. But DC looked sharp (at least for the first half) and crisp with their passing and tackling.

Woven Hand

Woven Hand used to be a side project for David Eugene Edwards. However, since the break-up of 16 Horsepower earlier this year, it's his main gig now.

Edwards puts together some dark, intense tunes with a collage of southern folk instrumentals supporting his commanding (almost preaching) vocals. Sometimes it can feel overly heavy-handed but the beauty and melody of the tunes allow you to dismiss such things.

Woven Hand's most recent album (Nov 2004), Consider the Birds, contains the spectactular track "Sparrow Falls". However, as an overall album, I prefer their self-titled 2003 release. The track, "The Good Hand", below is from that album.

By the way, props to the fine gentleman who writes the (unofficial but appropriately titled) 16 Horsepower blog who introduced me to them last year.

If you live in the US and want to see them live, you missed them. They just finished touring here. But if you live in Paredes de Coura, Portugal you're in luck.

Aug 11 Freiburg, DE
Aug 12 Salzburg, AT
Aug 13 Ljubljana, SI
Aug 14 Wien, AT
Aug 15 Budapest, HU
Aug 18 Paredes de Coura, PT
Aug 19 Amsterdam, NL
Aug 20 Copenhagen, DK
Aug 21 Arhus, DK
Aug 22 Hamburg, DE
Aug 23 Dresden, DE
Aug 24 Berlin, DE
Aug 25 Hannover, DE
Aug 27 Oudenaarde, BE
Aug 28 Zwolle, NL

Woven Hand - Sparrow Falls
Woven Hand - The Good Hand

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Fruit Bats

Some of the burgeoning experimental folk scene can be tough to choke down. Some times it just gives you the feeling that it's weird for weird's sake. However, while Fruit Bats sit in that experimental folk scene, they clearly have staked out ground on the poppy end of the spectrum. While some bands will mix in odd sound clips and loops with their folk base, Fruit Bats mix in perculating piano pieces and sweeping strings which makes it much less jarring and hence, downright beautiful.

The band is mainly the project of Eric Johnson who writes, plays and sings all of the songs with a fluid cast around him. Based in Chicago, their third album, Spelled in Bones, was released yesterday. It'll take a little while to digest it but if it's half as good as their last album, Mouthfuls, it'll be a worthwhile purchase.

Here is a track from Spelled in Bones and a pair from Mouthfuls (the last two).

Fruit Bats - Lives of Crime
Fruit Bats - Slipping Through the Sensors
Fruit Bats - A Bit of Wind

By the way, Fruit Bats will be touring the US this fall with Rogue Wave and Chad VanGaalen.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Springsteen Digs Four Tet

The Guardian has an interview today with Springsteen (Nick Hornby asked the questions) where the discussion turned to what current bands Bruce enjoys. Well, I guess Bruce strolls the roads of Rumson, NJ listening to the laptop-derived dulcet tones of Four Tet's "Slow Jam" (off of the album Rounds).

Who woulda thunked it? Kudos to him for keeping up with current music. I love Dylan but I cringe each time he mentions "new" music that he's enjoying. It's usually new albums from his contemporaries which implies that he doesn't follow or care for current trends.

Stereogum has a link to the article and mp3 file.

Four Tet - Slow Jam


Any other music fans out there with a passion for statistical analysis? If so, you ought to get yourself an account at

As they say, the numbers don't lie. You may think you listen to band X a lot but the reality is that band Y is ruling your playlist. Well, to determine just exactly what those bands and songs are that you are listening to, some smartypants created the software for Audioscrobbler.

Bascially, here is how it works:

- You sign up for a free account.
- You download a plug-in that tracks what songs you listen to on your computer. That info is then transmitted automatically back to Audioscrobbler.
- Periodically, your account page will be updated with the statistics that show what the last ten songs you heard were, what your top bands and songs have been for the week and what have been your top bands and songs since you created your account.
- Then, Audioscrobbler's software combs its database to find the fifty people with the most similar musical tastes as you. And based upon those fifty people, it determines what bands they are listening to that you aren't. In essence, it creates a page of recommendations for you.
- Then, the site shares its info about you with Last.FM which creates a radio station just for you.

How friggin' cool is that?

It seems quite un-American to voluntarily share personal info about yourself with an organization that compiles the info but there is obvious benefits. You get an interesting profile of your musical tastes, some decent recommendations and a great radio station tailored specifically to your musical tastes.

One other fun feature of Audioscrobbler is their groups. As a member, you can join (or start) various groups that are related to bands, record labels, genres, localities, wbesites or just general topics. Audioscrobbler, then combines the listening data for all of the members and creates charts showing the most popular bands and songs over the last week of the members of that group.

For example, here are the top bands for people who belong to the "Tom Waits" group:

1 Tom Waits
2 Radiohead
3 The White Stripes
4 Beck
5 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
6 The Beatles
7 Björk
7 Eels
9 Pixies
10 Nine Inch Nails

While the top bands for people living in Ann Arbor are:
1 The Beatles
2 The Decemberists
2 David Bowie
4 Nick Drake
4 Belle and Sebastian
6 Johnny Cash
6 The Go-Go's
6 Alice Coltrane
6 Madness
6 Devo

I created a group for Montpelier a long time ago but as of today, it's just two of us in there (Audioscrobbler requires ten members before they'll compile any stats on your group). However, there is a group for people living in Vermont in general which has seventeen members. Here are the top bands among Vermonsters:
1 David Bowie
2 Daft Punk
2 Oasis
2 The Beatles
2 Boards of Canada
2 Death Cab for Cutie
2 The Shins
2 Sigur Rós
2 Broken Social Scene
2 Coldplay

The most surprising thing about the Vermont list is the absence of jam bands. Phish doesn't even show up in the top fifty. I guess there is an inverse correlation between people who buy petrouli oil and those who want to join Audioscrobbler. Seriously, Audioscrobbler is fairly new and still seems to be dominated by indie kids and classic rock fans.

My account can be found here (by the way, the photo is of Sufjan Stevens; not me).

Garden Highlights

While I was gone the Phlox "Natasha" busted loose with some gorgeous pinwheel blooms. I planted this one a few years ago but it was a tiny plant back then and took a long time to mature. This is the first year that the bllom looks like I had expected it to look like.

US Wins Gold Cup

And with that win, the US takes home the ugliest trophy is sports. Look at that thing!

I didn't get to see either the semis or finals while I was gone so I can't say much about how the team looked. They had a miraculous comeback against Honduras on Thursday (winning 2-1 with both US goals coming in the last five minutes) and beat Panama on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw.

Next up for the US: It's back to World Cup qualifying as they play Trinidad & Tobago in Hartford on August 17th. A win there would give the US 15 points with four games to go. That would have been enough points to qualify for either of the last two World Cups. So, we are in good shape.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Giant Sand

Giant Sand is bascially the project of Howe Gelb. Over Giant Sand's two decades, musicians have come and gone but Gelb continued on with his unique brand of folksy tunes with an artsy southwestern feeling. As I mentioned ealier, the fellows from Calexico were once part of the band and Gelb was instrumental in getting M. Ward going in his career. While Giant Sand's songs are as immediately accessible as those other artists, his album Chore of Enchantment is one of the best albums of the last five years.

This fall, Giant Sand is dropping another album on us (geez, it is going to be crazy this fall with all of the highly anticipated new albums due to hit the shelves). Thankfully, the blog songs: illinois has a few advanced tracks for us to chew over until the leaves start dropping.

Giant Sand - AAAA1
Giant Sand - Bottom of the Barrell (my preferred track)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Zincs

So, this guy, Jim Elkington, is living in England and decides he wants to be a singer / songwriter. But he knows too many people there who will call bullshit on him and point out that he isn't a singer / songwriter. So, he gets up and moves to Chicago where he doesn't know anyone and forms The Zincs.

A few years later he bangs out a fine album of hummable chamber pop with his barritone voice. Yet another classic American folktale.

Dimmer came out earlier this year and really hasn't gotten much attention despite being damn good and being on the much-respected Chicago post-rock label, Thrill Jockey. Perhaps people will catch onto it during the second half of the year.

The Zincs - Moment is Now!
The Zincs - Beautiful Lawyers

Video - Tex Haper

Best. Video. Ever.

Music Thing has a link to Tex Haper's "Country New Wave" video from 1984. It's brilliant.

Highlights: Tex is a Danish country singer trying to catch that 80's new wave buzz while employing a guy in his long underwear doing a spaghetti pop & lock.

What more could you ask for in a video?

Video - Tex Haper - Country New Wave

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Michael Dahlquist 1966 - 2005

Michael Dahlquist, the drummer for the Seattle band Silkworm, was killed last week in a tragic car accident. Apparently, an unhappy model, Jeanette Sliwinski, who was trying to kill herself (driving 70 mph & blowing through red lights) slammed her car into a car with Dahlquist and two friends in it. Dahlquist and his friends were killed immediately. Sliwinski was treated at the hospital and released to the Cook County Jail. She's facing first degree murder charges. The story is here and here.

This is one of those senseless tragedies you can never understand.

In the mid-90's, I was a big Silkworm fan and saw them numerous times live. Dahlquist was always a likeable guy who would banter with the band and the crowd throughout the show. Very charismatic guy.

I remember a show at Maxwell's in Hoboken after Joel R. L. Phelps had left the band. They were promoting Firewater I think and not playing much, if anything, from the Phelps era. Well, some dork in the front row spent the time between each song whining "Play In the West! Play In the West!" Quite frankly, it was pretty annoying to everyone at the show; not just the band.

Well, about half way through the show, as the guy started into his whine again, Dahlquist stood up from behind his drum set and screamed back at the guy in a mocking voice "PLAY IN THE WEST! PLAY IN THE WEST! WILL YOU JUST SHUT THE FVCK UP!! PHELPS ISN'T HERE ANYMORE! NOW JUST SHUT UP!" The whiner immediately pipped down and everyone else just started laughing. It was a pretty funny moment.

Silver Jews

The fine blog "Said the Gramophone" has a really good advance track off of The Silver Jews new album Tanglewood Numbers which is due out in the fall.

By the way, Tanglewood Numbers was almost lost forever this spring when a fire broke out at Easley Recording Studios in Memphis. David Berman had just shipped the master tapes to the studio when the fire burned down half the studio. Thankfully for Berman and all the Silver Jews' fans that the tapes had been stored for the night in the other half of the building. It was that close.

One Free Minute

Saw this on WFMU's blog.

If you feel you have something to say and can say it in one minute or less, then call (800) 931-5056.

If you want to listen to other people's recorded rants, listen here.

Beware though, listening to these recordings is oddly addicting.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Legends

I think I should have just named this blog "Bands from Brooklyn and Sweden" the way this first month is going.

Hailing from Stockholm, The Legends continue my argument for the "Swedish Pop Gene". It's gotta be in their blood (or just the excessive hours spent indoors).

The Legends' pop isn't as accessible or silky smooth as those other bands below but it still grows on you really fast. Their fuzzy jangly guitars will remind you of The Jesus & Mary Chain's Psychocandy but the Reid brothers never included so many tambourines and hand claps.

There's nine people in this band but unless three or four of them are just designated hand-clappers, I don't hear them on this record. But that doesn't matter. Their album, Up Against the Legends, is 12 songs long and clocks in under 30 minutes. Classic pop timing. (It also makes for easier downloads for those of you with slow connections.)

The Legends - Call It Ours
The Legends - Make It All Right

Video - The Legends - Call It Ours
Video - The Legends - There and Back Again

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Occasion

Do you ever find songs on your iPod that you don't recognize and have no idea how they got there? Well, while I was writing my other posts tonight, this little gem popped up on my shuffle and I have no friggin' clue about it.

A little searching found the band's website which contains the mp3 file for the song but I still don't what blog I got it from or who shared it with me.

It's a mellow 60's sounding tune with occasional harmonies and atmospheric whirrings. Not much of a summer song but it just kind of caught my fancy tonight.

The Occasion - A Dulcimer's Fancy

Gold Cup Quarterfinals - US 3 - Jamaica 1

Josh Wolff scored early and Damarcus Beasley added two more (plus assisted on Wolf's goal) to lead the US to a good win over Jamaica in the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup (the championship of North America, Central America and Caribbean).

In the semis, the US will play Honduras in Giants Stadium on Thursday.

Positive Pie 2

Two of Montpelier's biggest shortcomings just got resolved with the grand opening of Positive Pie 2. Prior to Thursday debut of the cool new restaurant / club, the pizza sucked here and there wasn't a venue to draw in national acts.

After the State Street Market closed last winter, the owner of the original Positive Pie ("Carlo") in Plainfield, VT, leased the large store front and spent the last few months converting it into the coolest dining space in town. The menu seems to have expanded from the original place but the key is that the pizza is just as good in the new place. True NYC-style pizza. Not the shallow-dish crap the other places in town serve out of those rolling conveyor pizza ovens.

The dining space also inlcudes a stage and DJ booth hanging over the room. Carlo, who promotes shows through 1lb. Productions, plans on bringing in national acts; not just the local coffee house troubadours we normally see around here.

For the debut show on Friday night, Inspectah Deck (formerly of Wu-Tang Clan) performed at Positive Pie 2. Not being a hip-hop fan, I didn't go to the show but talking to others it sounded like a good show. It was sold-out inside with another 25 people on the sidewalk enjoying the show.

So far, other shows haven't been announced but I have high hopes for some fun nights ahead. It would be so nice to be able to see a show a mile from my house rather than trucking 40 minutes to Burlington (or further to other cities).

Garden Highlights

Our garden is looking pretty colorful these days. This may be just about peak. There are a few more plants that'll bloom in August and September but July sees the most blooming plants.

The shasta daisies are looking fine in front of the swaying Karl Foerster grass.

And the asiatic lillies are putting on a fine show.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Seedy Gonzalez

I know this is starting to sound repetitive but here's another band from NYC. Labelmates of The Cloud Room, Seedy Gonzalez sound a whole hell of a lot like Lou Reed. And that's a good thing.

Back in January, they released their debut EP. Since then, they haven't been doing to much since the lead singer lives in the Czech Republic while the other guys loiter around NYC. Hopefully, lead singer Johnny Riley will log a buttload of frequent flyer miles and we'll here more from these guys.

In the meantime, here is a tune off that debut EP and a video of theirs.

Seedy Gonzalez - Maddie's Day

Video - Seedy Gonzalez - Love's Theosophy

Friday, July 15, 2005


They're named after a border town in California and they're sound is perfect for a midnight drive along an empty highway to that town.

Calexico was started by Joey Burns (guitar, vocals) and John Convertino (drums). The two spent some time playing in other bands including Giant Sand before creating their own band in the mid-90's. Depending on how many mariachis are playing with them, the size of the band will rise and fall but, in general, it's a pretty crowded stage.

They can crush you with sparing mellow instrumental pieces or shake your feet with the full force of mariachi-fueled multi-language rockers. Incredible range for a band.

Calexico - Alone Again Or
Calexico - Ballad of Cable Hogue (French version)

Video - Crystal Frontier (the link downloads a zipped copy of the video; you'll need winzip to unzip the file)

Green Mountain "Bob Dylan Wanna-Be" Contest

Tomorrow night (7/16) the second annual Green Mountain "Bob Dylan Wanna-Be" Contest hits Montpelier. Hey, there is good reason why they call this town Mont-weird-ler and it'll be on display at the Unitarian Church.

Here is the contest's description:

Calling all Dylan-tantes! If you can yowl, growl, grumble or mumble your way through a classic Dylan song, then you’re our Bob...or Bobette! The Howard BEAN Café at Riverwalk Records challenges you to enter its Second Annual Green Mountain Bob Dylan Wannabe Contest, scheduled to be held 7-9 p.m., Saturday, July 16 at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier.

Eighteen brave Zimmermen and Zimmerwomen competed in last year’s September 11 event that was won by The King Of The Bobs, Derrick - "She Belongs To Me" - Semler. Bob buffs: this July marks the 40th anniversary of Bob’s controversial electric performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.

I didn't make it to last year's contest and probably will miss it again this year but from what I've heard it was actually a fun evening. Contestants didn't really take it too seriously with as many comical entries as there were talented ones. One entrant even had a lady in lingerie join him on stage with angel wings to mock Dylan's connection to Victoria's Secret.

If there are any pictures of the show in the paper on Sunday, I'll post them here.

UPDATE: We have a winner!

From the Times-Argus:

Jeff Shannon of Barre performs his winning rendition of "Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues" during the Great Green Mountain Bob Dylan Wanna-Be Contest at the Unitarian Church in Montpelier on Saturday night. Over 200 people turned out to hear 21 performers vie for the title in the second annual contest presented by the Howard BEAN Cafe at Riverwalk Records. Jim Thompson took second place and David Farnsworth was third.

I missed it as we went to see The Wedding Crashers instead. As lame of a choice as that sounds, it was a damn funny movie.

Video - Hurra Torpedo

I have no idea what to say about this video. The guy who runs the fine blog "i will have the penne all'arrabbiata" tipped me off to this thing. I'll leave it up to you to figure out if it's real, a parody or performance art. But you should at least stick around for the butt crack.

Video - Hurra Torpedo - Total Eclipse of the Heart

Thursday, July 14, 2005


OK. I don't know a lot about these guys except that they are from NYC, their debut album just received a fat 8.0 from Pitchfork and the two tracks on their website are a beautiful pair of mellow ambient pop.

I also liked this picture of the keyboardist reading a book in the middle of a song. HA!

Doveman - Honey
Doveman - Teacup

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Bloggin' about Clap Your Hands Say Yeah now is like showing up after halftime of a sporting event. A bit of old news now. Unless something bizarre happens, they will replace Arcade Fire as the most blogged about band of the year.

And with good reason. It's a good album and an equally good story. First, the story. Five guys out of Brooklyn (although I think the lead singer lives in Philly) who started playing live last year in NYC. Word spread about them and they recorded an album by themsleves without signing to a label. They were mainly selling the album through their website and a handful of NYC stores. Then a few blogs picked up on it which spread the word further and now Pitchfork just dropped a glowing review on them. They sold out the first printing of the CD in less than a month and are now selling through their second printing. It's a fine example of how good music will sell without a massive promo budget and the impact that the internet can have music promotion.

Musically, their sound is retro-80's without being schlokey. If you liked New Order, Joy Division, the Bunnymen, et al then you'll do backflips for these guys.

They are also doing a national tour later this summer with The National. Here are the current tour dates (courtesy of Pitchfork):

07-20 Brooklyn, NY - Southpaw
07-27 New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
08-10 New York, NY - Seaport Music Festival
08-17 Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church
09-07 Brooklyn, NY - Warsaw +
09-08 Northampton, MA - Iron Horse + (see ya there!)
09-09 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom +
09-10 Philadelphia, PA - The Khyber +
09-16 Cambridge, MA - TT the Bear's +
09-18 Toronto, Ontario - Horseshoe Tavern +
09-23 Chicago, IL - Schuba's +
09-24 Minneapolia, MN - 400 Bar +
09-26 Denver, CO - Hi-Dive +
09-30 Portland, OR - Dante's +
10-01 Seattle, WA - Neumo's (KEXP Benefist Show) +
10-02 Vancouver, British Columbia - Media Club +
10-05 San Francisco, CA - Mezzanine +
10-06 Los Angeles, CA - Troubador +

+ indicates dates with The National

CYHSY - Details of the War (courtesy of music (for-robots))
CYHSY - In This Home on Ice
CYHSY - Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood
CYHSY - Over and Over Again (Lost & Found)

M. Ward

If Tom Waits played melodic pleasing folk music, it might sound like M. Ward.

Portland's M. Ward got his start when he stuck a demo tape in the hand of Howe Gelb following a Giant Sand show. Gelb listened to the tape on his tour bus and was excited by it enough to track Ward down.

His full name is Matt Ward but goes by M. Ward's cool? I don't know why but his 2003 album "The Transfiguration of Vincent" was one of the best albums that year. His album this year "Transistor Radio" is also good but isn't as strong as it's predecessor (but that's a massive hurdle to cross to be fair).

M. Ward - Vincent O'Brien
M. Ward - One More Goodbye
M. Ward - Radio Campaign

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Black Keys

The Black Keys are a pair of guys out of Akron, OH playing drums and juke-joint rocking blues guitar. If you enjoyed the raw early days of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, these guys should bring back some warm bouron-fueled memories. The riff on "10A.M. Automatic" is as immediately catchy as JSBX's "Afro" and the solo at the 2:32 mark is worth the price of admission alone.

Just be glad you don't live next door to their practice space. You'd never sleep and you'd have to blast your TV till your dog's ears bled.

The Black Keys - 10A.M. Automatic
The Black Keys - All Hands Against His Own

Jens Lekman

Another pop-slinging Swede. Actually, Jens is the "King of Pop-Slinging Swedes". His success has helped a lot of other Swedish artists get attention they wouldn't otherwise have gotten. If you remember the vocabulary section of the SATs, the relationship connection would be:

Jens Lekman : 2005 Swedish Pop :: Nirvana : 1992 Seattle Grunge

His song "You Are the Light" is great. One of the finest pop tunes released in the last few years. "Black Cab" is good too but pales in comparison to "You Are the Light". There is also a link below to watch the video for "You Are the Light" featuring Jens in a suit of armor. Armor? Hey, why not?

Jens Lekman - You Are the Light
Jens Lekman - Black Cab

Video for "You Are the Light"

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Deadstring Brothers

What kind of music do you think of when you think of Detroit bands?

If you said "alt-country" you're either a smart ass or a fan of The Deadstring Brothers.

Climbing out of the honky-tonk circuit of East Detroit is the Motor City's answer to Wilco. They aren't too heavy on the twang but it's still obvious. They sit on the more rocking side of alt-country but they aren't MC5.

Their self-titled debut album came out late last year. Both of the tunes below are off of that album.

The Deadstring Brothers - Entitled
The Deadstring Brothers - 27 Hours

Math & Physics Club

Math & Physics Club is a pop quintet out of Olympia (Washington, that is) that has had a small regional hit with their sweet little number "Weekends Away". The tune is the title track off their debut EP that came out last winter (although is has the feel of a summer tune). They're working on another EP for later this year but in the meantime...enjoy.

Math & Physics Club - Weekends Away

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Ferenc Cako

Trying to think about how to spice up next week's annual budget presentation? Well, Ferenc Cako may have just the idea.

Cako is a Hungarian performance artist who uses sand on an overhead projector to create a continuously changing canvas of beautiful images. To add to the drama of his performance, his sand figurings are set to classical music. It's pretty amazing stuff.

You can watch a clip of one of his preformances here. It's from his performance at the opening of the 2003 Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival (SICAF).

The Foxymorons

Their name is stupid but I like their song "Harvard Hands"; mainly because it reminds me of Pavement circa "Brighten the Corners". Besides their sound, they also share in Pavement's geographic diversity. The Foxymorons are basically a duo but one guy lives in Texas and works for the railroad while the other guy lives in Tennessee and works as a web designer. Hell, it works for them.

By the way, I have no idea who all of those other people are in the picture above. The main two guys are suspects #1 and #3 in the line-up photo.

The Foxymorons - Harvard Hands

Monday, July 04, 2005

The Cloud Room

Take "The Cloud Room Challenge". If you listen to The Cloud Room's "Hey Now Now" and don't find yourself humming it in your head the next day, you can punch me in the throat.

I'm not expecting too many throat punches. It's a damn catchy tune. Good summer listening.

The Cloud Room is a Brooklyn-based band named after an executive's club on the top of the Chrysler Building. They are definitely another cog in the NYC retro-80's scene but I like their self-titled debut album a lot more than Bloc Party and The Bravery.

The Cloud Room - Hey Now Now
The Cloud Room - Blackout!

And you can check out the video for "Hey Now Now" here.

The Go! Team

With t-shirts like that, ya gotta love 'em!

The Go! Team is the brainchild of Ian Parton of London. Parton started buying old obscure records, stripping down the tunes into the individual instrument tracks, distorting the tracks and using the resulting clips to build brand-new tunes. (That'll keep the copyright lawyers busy for years.) He then went out and put together a band to play these new songs he had created.

The sound is a mix of rock and R&B but with the feeling of TV cop show themes from the 80's. It sounds weird but it's the best album (title: Thunder, Lighting, Strike) I've bought in the last six months. It was released in Europe last year but US copyright laws have prevented it from being released here yet. However, you can download it from iTunes for a bargain low price of $9.99 (considering that most imports run well over $20, that's a mighty fine deal).

Parton is actually working on re-mixes of the tunes to make them legal in the US. Hopefully, the re-mixed versions will live up to the greatness of the originals.

In the meantime, check out the tune "Junior Kickstart". You can also listen to a few other tunes and watch the video for "Ladyflash" here.

UPDATE: Pitchfork reported today that The Go! Team just signed with Columbia to release "Thunder, Lighting, Strike" in the US. The deal is only for this album (future albums wil revert to their current indie label Memphis Industries) and will require some small changes to the tunes to manage the avalanche the royalties on samples they'll have to pay. The album will be slated for release the first week in October and may inlcude additional tracks. It'll be tough to top this one for album of the year.

UPDATE: Here are two other available tracks:

The Go! Team - Huddle Formation
The Go! Team - Bottle Rocket

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Art Brut

Summertime was created specifically so you could blast Art Brut's "Good Weekend" out your window. It's impossible to not smile while listening to this one. Who doesn't love a bit of infectious Brit rock/punk with lyrics like "I've seen her naked TWICE!"?

I can't vouch for the full album (released last month on Fierce Panda) since I haven't picked it up yet (although I plan to do so soon) but every review has been glowing.

Art Brut - Good Weekend


More Swedes. More pop-savants. If you like three-minute pop tunes, this stuff is like crack.

Sambassadeur hail from Gothenberg and just released their debut album last month (self-titled). Like SKWBM, their album is available via their record label Hopefully, they'll get a US distribution deal at some point and come over for some shows. Someone ought to put together a Swedish Invasion Tour with a few of these pop-sweet bands from the land of the midnight sun.

Here are three tracks from Sambassadeur. The first two are my favorites.

Sambassadeur - Between the Lines
Sambassadeur - New Moon
Sambassadeur - Whatever Season

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Video - Radiohead's Creep (acoustic)

Back in the mid-90's, Radiohead had a radio-friendly hit with their tune "Creep". I guess at some point they also did an acoustic version of the tune (oh, those unplugged 90's). Well, a web designer named Laith Bahrani loved the song and hated his job. So, as therapy and a release from his job, he spent three months of his personal time creating an animated video for the tune. He hadn't been commissioned by Radiohead to do it. It was just his thing to do (kind of like Richard Dreyfus and his tower of mashed potatoes in Close Encounters).

Well, the final product is a damn cool video. Laith got so much praise for the video (although he didn't hear anything from the band), that he quit his job and started Monkeehub animation ( Monkeehub created a series called Low Morale based upon the character in the Creep video and now MTV has bought some of the episodes of Low Morale. The moral of the story: I have no friggin' idea but it's a cool video.

See Video Here

Suburban Kids with Biblical Names

Suburban Kids with Biblical Names is a Swedish duo who took their name from a line in The Silver Jews' song "People". But the only thing that matters is that they are Swedish which means they are genetically predisposed to writing brilliant pop songs. Swedes can't help themselves.

The tunes are a bit lo-fi because they were recorded in their parents' house. But they have enough fi to get you to sing "Bahp, Bahp, Bahp" along with them.

So far, they only have two EPs available which are available in the US as an import via their label -

Here are three of their songs:

SKWBN - Trumpets and Violins

SKWBN - Rent a Wreck

SKWBN - Love Will

Sufjan Stevens - Illinois

The first artist on False 45th is Brooklyn-based indie folk/gospel/rock/pop crackerjack Sufjan Stevens. On July 5th, Sufjan will be releasing the second album in his ridiculously ambitious "50 State Project". He plans on writing an album for every state in the union. In 2003, he released Michigan and now he is releasing Illinois. At this rate, he'll complete the project around 2103 at the ripe age of 130. But, what the hell, we all have to have goals right?

Sufjan's music doesn't fit nicely into any one genre. While his earlier albums could have easily been called folk with religious overtones, his recent stuff is more varied. Some songs will be just guitar and vocals while others will contain a dozen different instruments and back-up singers. This wide scope and the numerous tracks of Michigan and Illinois (20+) makes listening to him an album-oriented experience. The songs work best as a collection rather than just as singles.

Having said that, here are some links to individual tracks:

Sufjan Stevens - Come On! Feel the Illinoise!

Sufjan Stevens - Chicago

For these two tracks, you'll have to go to Amazon's website and do the free download from there. I can't link directly to the mp3 file.

Sufjan Stevens - Casimir Pulaski Day - Amazon's download page

Sufjan Stevens - The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts - Amazon's download page

Here are a few tracks from Sufjan's Michigan album:

Sufjan Stevens - All Good Naysayers

Sufjan Stevens - Holland

Additionally, announced today that Sufjan finished a project with NPR recently that will air on July 6th during All Things Considered. NPR was amused by Sufjan's ability to write songs about various places he had never been to so they did a series of interviews with people from Brinkley, Arkansas, sent them to Sufjan and asked him to write a song about the place. Brinkley is the town where the long-thought-extict ivory-billed woodpecker was recently discovered. So, Sufjan wrote "The Lord God Bird" for them. If you miss the broadcast, the song will be available on NPR's website following the broadcast.

UPDATE: The new album, "Illinois", may or may not be available where you are. It's a friggin' mess. You can read about it on Pitchfork.

UPDATE: You download the song ("The Lord God Bird") Sufjan created for NPR from All Songs Considered. It's a free download.

Sufjan Stevens - The Lord God Bird

The Beginning

There is a general sense that the first post on a blog should be a grand foundation that all future post are built upon. However, that would require more prep work and brain power than I'm willing to put into this. So, let's just get it rolling.

The name of the blog is False 45th which is a reference to the erroneous border between Vermont and Canada. The Treay of Paris at the end of The Revolutionary War stated that the border should lie along the 45th parallel. However, the surveyors who laid out the border screwed up and now the actual border is a few miles north of the 45th parallel. So, Vermonters got a little extra elbow room out of the deal.

False 45th will mainly deal with music. I like music and discussing it. So, I'll use this as a forum to share the tracks I find on other blogs or band websites. Occasionally, there'll be a post about soccer, gardening, Montpelier or whatever caught my attention that day. However, most of it will be about music. I hope you enjoy it.