Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Jens Lekman | Paradise Rock Club | Oct 29

After getting lost in Boston on my way to see Jens Lekman at the Paradise on Monday and nearly missing the show, here's my feelings about our founding fathers...good with democracy...suck-ass with urban planning. Geezum crow! Such a poorly laid out city. If you miss a turn, you're done.

On with the show. Some nice but completely forgettable band opened for Jens. Around 9pm, the guy above, who we later learned was Viktor Sjöberg, walked across the stage and took a place behind a laptop. Besides thinking he looked like a villain from a Tintin book, I didn't really pay him any attention and continued my conversation with my friends. However, after a few minutes, I realized he was programming the music we were enjoying. A few minutes later, Jens and the rest of the band came out on stage.

The band was comprised of Jens, Viktor and five women; with everyone dressed in white from head to toe. It was eye-catching but, quite frankly, the whole look had a bit of a cult feeling to it. It even conjured up images of Susan Atkins, et al from the Manson trial.

They opened the show with "Into Eternity" which led into a set chock full of songs off Night Falls Over Kortedala and a few other his better known songs. As best as I can recall, they played (not in this order):

The Opposite of Hallelujah
Sipping On the Sweet Nectar
A Postcard to Nina
Your Arms Around Me
Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo
A Sweet Summer's Night on Hammer Hill
Black Cab
You Are the Light
Maple Leaves
The Cold Swedish Winter
You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simon cover)

With all the various musicians and Viktor's laptop, they were able to replicate the full chamber pop sound of his album recordings. However, that was also a slight problem too since he didn't seem to stray from those versions much either. The last time I saw him, he had a smaller band with him which led to him having to alter the arrangements of his songs much more which I enjoyed.

Towards the end of "Sipping on the Sweet Nectar", the band dropped their instruments and started to fly around the stage. I guess it keeps with the theme of the video for the song where Lekman is seen flying a small plane.

One thing that was consistent from the last time I saw Lekman was the way he gets the crowd to fall in love with him. He has a very humble but amusing way of talking to the crowd that makes the time between the songs as entertaining as the songs themselves. At one point, some folks in the front row held up a sign about the Red Sox winning the World Series. Lekman read the sign and said, "Oh, I see your baseball team did something. I can't speak about that. I don't know much about baseball. I enjoy badminton. That's why I want to move to the southern hemisphere because they are as crazy about badminton there as I am. Perhaps I'll move to Malaysia." It's sounds weird now but he makes you smile and laugh with his little tales.

My one big complaint about the show is similar to my problem with the Gogol Bordello show. It felt a bit scripted. And my feelings were confirmed when I saw pictures from the Philadelphia show. If you notice the photo of the band flying around on stage and the set list, it was nearly identical to the show in Boston. Combined with the lack of variation in the songs, the show felt more stiff than the show I saw in Bennington two years ago.

I think I would have preferred to have seen the show he did in Brooklyn over the weekend where it was just Lekman and a bongo player. Lekman played his regular show and then suggested that everyone meet him on the roof of the building next door for some more songs. A few people ordered pizza and Lekman hung out playing tunes on his acoustic guitar. Now, that's a unique experience.

One of the highlights of the show was that it ended by 10:25 which meant I was able to get back to Montpelier by 1:15 which is fairly reasonable for a Boston show. Thankfully, the founding father's road system didn't screw me up on the way out of the city.

I recorded a few songs with the video setting on my camera. However, they are too long to upload to YouTube. So, I ripped the mp3 files from the videos and posted them below. I missed the beginning and ending of his cover of Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al" but I still posted it since it's kind of a funny version. Lekman said he always liked the verses but hated the chorus of the song. So, his version just cuts out all the choruses.

Jens Lekman | The Cold Swedish Winter (Live)

Jens Lekman | Shirin (Live)

Jens Lekman | You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simon cover) (Live) (Cut)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Halloween

If a 72 lb. pumpkin carved to resemble Sufjan Stevens doesn't scare you...nothing will.

Happy Halloween!

Rogue Birds | WGDR | Halloween Night | 9pm

After you wipe the face paint off the kids face, turn out the porch light and blow out the jack-o-lanterns on Wednesday night, tune into WGDR (91.1 in Central Vermont) for a live performance by Rogue Birds. Rogue Birds, a fairly new local Americana folk trio will be playing for about two hours on the community station. You can stream the station live from their website.

Rogue Birds | Fast Moving Water
Rogue Birds | Railroad Man (The Eels cover)

Chikita Violenta

I know all the Broken Social Scene fans are still dining on Kevin Drew's fantastic new album but there's another album you may want to pick up if BSS is your thing.

Chikita Violenta is a five-piece band out of Mexico City that released their second album earlier this year. I'm not sure how the connection was made but somehow Chikita Violenta became involved with BSS which led them to Toronto to record The Stars and Suns Session with BSS producer David Newfeld. The result is an album that meshes with the now-identifiable "BSS sound". One thing to note though, don't expect any latin influence due to them being from Mexico. They sing in English and are very much in the indie rock vein.

I had stumbled upon their song "Laydown" a few weeks ago but couldn't find the album on emusic, iTunes or any online dealer of physical discs. Well, I now know why. It was finally released in the US today and is now available on both emusic and iTunes. I'm still working my way through the album but there's already a few standout tracks including a shoegazer version of The Byrds' "Eight Miles High".

Chikita Violenta | Laydown | Buy

Chikita Violenta | Eight Miles High (The Byrds cover) | Buy

Monday, October 29, 2007

Casey's Got a New Job

If you haven't seen the post over on The Contrarian, former Seven Days Music Editor, Casey Rae-Hunter, has a new job. He's now going to be fighting for artists rather than debating their merits. It's all explained in his post.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Cinematic Orchestra

This one is for the lovers of dark heavy somber tunes. If Antony and the Johnsons or Smog are your thing, then you'll be loving The Cinematic Orchestra. The band started as the brainchild of Jason Swinscoe while he was at Cardif College in the late 90's. However, since college, the band has been largely hailing from London and has grown in numbers.

Here's the odd thing about The Cinematic Orchestra, they are often lumped into downtempo electronica and jazz categories. However, I heard their music before reading anything about them and got a dark orchestral folk sound from them; certainly not jazz or electronica. I didn't even realize there was a turntablist in the band until I read a bit about them. I guess that's a sign of some smooth production when you don't even realize that 16.67% of the band is spinning wax.

This year, they released fifth album but first one since 2003. Ma Fleur is one of those albums that you have to spend a bit of time with before it clicks with you. The songs are often six to eight minutes long and take their time to build to subtle yet powerful hooks. Plus, the wide range of guest singers gives the album a different sound from track to track. However, spending time with the disc is paid off in a beautiful and emotional album.

The Cinematic Orchestra | To Build a Home (feat. Patrick Watson) | Buy

The Cinematic Orchestra | Breathe (feat. Fontella Bass) | Buy

Ed Koren | Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts

Back in the late 60's, Vermont established an annual award called the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts. Over the years, it's been awarded to some well-known artists such as playwright David Mamet and Director Jay Craven and many who I'm not familiar with but I'm guessing I should. Well, one of the things I like about Vermont is that this year, the award was given to a cartoonist.

On Friday, Ed Koren, the longtime cartoonist for The New Yorker and many other publications, was given the 2007 award. The ceremony was held in the Representative's Hall in the state house which is always a beautiful room to hang in for a while. It was the fourth or fifth time I've been in the room and none of them had anything to do with watching the legislature. It's cool how accessible and open the room is to the public. I'm guessing the similar chambers in Albany and Boston aren't as open to the public.

Filmmaker, John O'Brien, who is best known for his trilogy of films surrounding Fred Tuttle and Tunbridge, gave a speech honoring Ed Koren which was pretty funny at times. His best line was regarding how odd it is that Koren doubles as the captain of the Brookfield Fire Department. "It's strange to see Ed on the scene of an accident or fire. It's not like you ever happen to see Annie Leibovitz working as a crossing guard or anything."

That's US Representative Peter Welch's bald spot to the side of Ed Koren. I missed most of Welch's speech though. Governor Douglas also gave a few remarks after O'Brien and, in his usual fashion, he was as stiff as a three-day-old corpse.

After Koren received the award, he had a slide show of some of his cartoons. It was great for me because there are a bunch of his cartoons that are too esoteric for me. I often have no idea what he's joking about. So, it was nice to have an explanation to go along with the cartoon.

T-Shirt of the Day

From gOalfood.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tom Carter | Kurt Weisman | Ruth Garbus | Firehouse Gallery | Oct 26

I gotta admit. I'm not familiar with the music of Tom Carter, Kurt Weisman and Ruth Garbus. However, here's what I do know...I know that the show is being promoted by Greg Davis and often, when I post about a new band I'm enjoying, Greg Davis leaves a comment saying "Hey, I booked those guys to play Burlington 18 months ago. They were great. You should have been there."

Basically, what I'm saying is that Greg Davis has great taste in music and a knack for promoting them before the rest of the blogosphere falls in love with them. So, when he brings artists you aren't familiar with to town, it's worth checking out.

Here are the details:

Tom Carter (of Charalambides)

Kurt Weisman (of Feathers)

Ruth Garbus (of Feathers)

Firehouse Gallery

149 Church St.


Friday, Oct 26



photo courtesy of shoegazer

Calexico | Live at Roskilde | July 2000

If you're a Calexico fan, this recording is a treat. Not only is the mix clean and balanced but the performance is smoking as evidenced by "Tema de Mariachi" with Mariachi Luz de Luna. Plus, they did their cover of Tom T. Hall's "Tulsa Telephone Book".

One somber thing to note about this performance is that it took place the day following the deaths of nine people at the Roskilde Festival during Pearl Jam's set. Some bands immediately canceled but Calexico, the promoters and some other bands decided to go ahead with the rest of the festival. It's a tough call either way.

Calexico recently wrapped up a European tour and are selling the remaining copies of their instrumental tour-only album Tool Box on their site. While they aren't currently touring, they will be a part of the Bob Dylan tribute concert at Beacon Theater in NYC on Nov 7 with Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, Catpower, and many other indie favs.

Calexico | Wash

Calexico | The Ride Pt. II

Calexico | Service and Repair

Calexico | Tulsa Telephone Book

Calexico | Minas de Cobre

Calexico | Ballad of Cable Hogue

Calexico | Tema de Mariachi

Calexico | El Picador

Calexico | Trigger

Calexico | Stray

Calexico | El Cascabel

Calexico | Crystal Frontier

Photo courtesy of pajaritos

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jens Lekman | Coming to Boston | Oct 29

Next Monday, the Swedish King of Pop, Jens Lekman, arrives in Boston for a show at the Paradise. As of Monday night, when I bought my ticket, there were still tickets available for the show. It's a hassle to drive all the way down to Boston for a show but there are a few reasons why I'm willing to make the trek this time.

1) His show at Bennington College two years ago was one of the most enjoyable shows I saw that year. The guy comes loaded with great tunes and an engaging stage demeanor.

2) The show starts at 8pm but rather than have an opening act, he's having a closing act which means getting back on the road at a decent hour.

3) His new album, Night Falls Over Kortedala, is a beautiful combination of timeless hooks, lush orchestral instrumentation and disarming self-awareness. It's in the running with The National's Boxer for my album of the year.

4) If you like a musician that reinterprets his music in concert, Lekman is your man. The guy constantly strips down, speeds up, re-builds, etc. his songs and, as proof of a well-built song, his music works whether it's just him and a ukulele or a full orchestra. For example, check out the recordings below. The first two are different versions of his song "Your Arms Around Me" and the other two are "You Are the Light". The versions are very different in their scopes but are still fab.

Your Arms Around Me

Jens Lekman | Your Arms Around Me (album version) | Buy

Jens Lekman | Your Arms Around Me (ukulele version)

You Are the Light

Jens Lekman | You Are the Light (album version) | Buy

Jens Lekman | You Are the Light (acoustic version)

So, if anyone else is driving down from central Vermont, let me know if you want to carpool. You can use the email address on the sidebar.

Loyalty Bid | UPDATE

Some guy in Montpelier has a stunt going on eBay and the beneficiary is a charity that rescues animals. So, I thought I'd put a link up to it.

Will Forest has been a lifetime Yankee fan but is so upset with how the Yanks handled Joe Torre's departure from the team that he is disavowing his love for the team. To raise money and find a new team to root for, he's putting his loyalty up for bid on eBay. The winning bid (which goes to Compassion Without Borders) gets to pick what team Forest roots for going forward. Right now, the leading bid is $177.50. Bidding ends on Oct 30.

I'm glad to see the guy is raising money for charity but something seems off here. How can someone be a lifetime Yankee fan and react so strongly to the changing of the manager? Between 1978 and 1992, the Yankees changed managers 18 times. Yes, things have calmed down since then but it's still embedded in the DNA of any Yankee fan to accept these things in stride.

Plus, if this guy is as big of a fan as he claims to be, he won't stay away from the Yanks. I pledged to boycott baseball for five years following the cancellation of the 1994 World Series due to labor negotiations. However, I only lasted until about September of 1995. I couldn't stay away. It was too much of a part of what I love to do. I'm guessing Forest is the same and will be back in due time.

UPDATE: The winning bid was $300.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Looking for something a bit more cool and sultry than the usual indie rock fare? Give Desdamona a try.

Desdamona is a hip hop singer from Minneapolis with a soulful voice and a loungy beat. I heard the title track from her 2007 album The Source on MPR's The Current and found it to be more European than Midwestern in its sound and feel; which is a good thing for me.

I'm not sure what I think of the line on her ring "unleash the goddess within"; it sounds a bit like hippie babble to me but I'll let it slide when the tunes are this good.

Desdamona | The Source | Buy

Monday, October 22, 2007

MLS Playoffs & News

Well, it's not exactly "bracket season" but that's the bracket for the MLS playoffs that start this week. The first round is a two-game home-and-home series with the aggregate score of the two games determining who advances to the conference finals.

DC United is the favorite to advance from the Eastern conference to the MLS Cup and Houston will be a tough team to knock out in the Western conference with their years of playoff experience. I'm not even letting myself get excited for my Red Bulls chances since they'll only crush my hopes with some miserable exit from the playoffs.

The games start Thursday on ESPN2 with DC United at Chicago (8:30pm EST).

The other exciting news is that following the best attendance season ever for MLS, they have announced another round of expansion with San Jose rejoining the league next year and Seattle & Philadelphia joining a few years after that. Philly's future owners had a big announcement today with plans for a new soccer stadium to be built south of the city along the Delaware River.

If the final stadium looks as nice as these renderings, it'll be a great place to see a game. That roof will keep the noise which should make for some fun atmosphere.

False 45th on Pitchfork

As someone noted in the comments of the previous post, this blog made it onto Pitchfork today. It's always fun to see something you've written mentioned on a site with such a large footprint. However, the timing is a weird coincidence because it's almost exactly a year after seeing False 45th mentioned in Rolling Stone. I wonder what will pop up next October. Perhaps, I'll shoot for Quilter's World. I did make a quilt out of beer towels a few years ago.

By the way, regarding The Capstan Shafts new album, Environ Maiden, which is part of the focus of the piece on Pitchfork, the album is available on emusic.

Also, the Catbirdseat, has a brief review of The Capstan Shafts show at CMJ. It was Dean Wells' first show with a full band.

Additionally, Things Chris Recorded has an audience recording of The Capstan Shafts' performance at CMJ.

The Capstan Shafts | Drop Dead Innocuous | Buy

Friday, October 19, 2007

Kris Gruen | Coming to Langdon Street | Oct 20

Do you remember a few posts ago when I was talking about all of the fun things going on this weekend? Well, add another one to the list. On Saturday night, Kris Gruen will be bringing his brand of Americana folk rock to Langdon Street Cafe.

Since Langdon Street and Charlie-O's are just two blocks from each other and the weather looks pretty good this weekend, you could jump back and forth between Kris Gruen's and The Starline Rhythm Boys' shows. Not exactly CMJ but it's still fun to hit multiple shows on one night.

Kris Gruen | Tender Theory | Buy

Kris Gruen | Further Down | Buy

Here's a video of Kris Gruen performing at Langdon Street a year ago:

Statehouse Lawn | Oct 19 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Stars | Higher Ground | Oct 17

I'll write more about the show later but I wanted to get a few photos from the show up since they came out better than usual. Musically, the show was better than expected also.


The Cush

Kamikaze Hearts | Coming to Winooski | Oct 19

False 45th's favorite band (here, here, here, here) is swinging back into town this Friday for what looks to be a great night of music:

Karl Blau
Kamikaze Hearts
Hello Shark

The show will be at Monkey House in Winooski and is being promoted by the good folks at Tick Tick.

I don't know much about Karl Blau except that he releases an album every month to people who subscribe to his...ummm...service, I guess. Quite prolific. However, the real treat of the night will be The Kamikaze Hearts. They have a great warm but rocking acoustic sound in concert.

The Kamikaze Hearts | No One Called You a Failure | Buy

The Kamikaze Hearts | Ash Wednesday | Buy

Ski and Skate Swap | Montpelier High School | Oct 20

Another thing going on this weekend is the annual ski and skate swap at Montpelier High School. If you're looking to either buy or sell some used equipment, it's a great place to be. Plus, a portion of every sale goes towards funding the Montpelier Recreation Department.

So, here's how it works...if you have some old skis (no straight skis allowed), boots, poles, snowboards, skates, etc. you bring them by Montpelier High School on Thursday and Friday night (Oct 18 & 19). Then the actual sale starts on Saturday (Oct 20) and runs from 9am-2pm.

Last year, I picked up a pair of barely used skis and bindings for $100 and we completely outfitted our kids with everything for less than that. The deals are great.

One nifty tip is that if you volunteer to work on any of the three days, you get first dibs at all the equipment on Friday night. So, if you feel like volunteering a few hours, there's contact info on this site.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


How friggin' cool is that thing?

A company in British Columbia called Ktrak, is now selling kits to allow you to modify your bike for winter riding. The rear wheel kit goes for about $519 and the front wheel will set you back another $169. The upside is that you can continue to bike all winter. Imagine showing up at the cross country ski trails with that bad boy. You'd be reviled and loved at the same time.

Remember, it's never too early to start your Christmas shopping for your favorite blogger.

Starline Rhythm Boys | Live CD Recording | Charlie-O's

There's so many things going on this weekend that it's tough to keep track of everything. Plus, I'm going to miss all of it because I'll be in Boston seeing my newest nephew for the first time.

However, if you are going to be in town this weekend, There's going to be a fun night of music down at Charlie-O's in Montpelier. Vermont's finest honky-tonkin', rockin' billy band, The Starline Rhythm Boys, are going to be cutting a live album at the bar with performances on both Friday and Saturday night (Oct 19 & 20).

Charlie-O's is a great choice to cut a honky-tonk album. The slogan for the place is "Good Spirits and Bad Company Since the War Between the States". I love that slogan and it perfectly describes the type of bar it is. Let's put it this way...don't even think of ordering anything other than a Budweiser in there.

In an article in The Montpelier Bridge, the band's sound engineer, Chuck Eller, said his plan is to "capture everything about the gig: the crowd, the cash register, the drinks being served, the action at the pool tables, even the squeaky front door". If they get a rowdy crowd, that could make for a fun two nights and cool CD.

Oh, and no cover.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Winter Coat Drive

Another sign of winter is here. It's time for the annual Karen Kitzmiller Memorial Winter Coat Drive which is an easy and great event.

Here's how it works...if you have any winter coats in your house nobody is wearing any longer, bring them to Montpelier's City Hall this Friday, Oct 19 between noon and 7pm. If you need a coat to keep warm this winter, stop by anytime between 3pm and 7pm on Friday or 9am and 2pm on Saturday.

We've dropped off a bunch of adult coats in the past but I think we'll have some coats our kids have outgrown for the drive this year.

Lastly, the drive isn't limited to coats. Snowpants, hats, mittens and boots will also work.

Stars | Coming to Higher Ground | Oct 17

Don't judge them by that hideously pretentious publicity photo. Their music is much better than that cooler-than-thou ego trip.

Stars, the Montreal quintet that shares three members with Broken Social Scene, will be playing Higher Ground this Wednesday. A quick description of their sound would be a Canadian version of The Pogues with shared male/female vocals but with electronica blips driving the backbeat and lush washes of strings making it pretty.

In 2005, they made their big splash with Set Yourself on Fire which was beautiful and catchy simultaneously. Hopefully, they'll still be dipping into that album for show material. This summer, they released the follow-up album In Our Bedroom After the War. This one has been a little harder for me to get into but I love the first single "The Night Starts Here" and I'm hoping this show will get me more excited about this album.

An added bonus is that The Cush will now be opening. I haven't seen them since they added Michael Clifford to keys and am looking forward to hearing them.

Stars | Your Ex-Lover Is Dead | Buy

Stars | The Night Starts Here | Buy

Stars | Fairytale of New York (Pogues cover)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Gogol Bordello | Vermont College Gymnasium | Oct 12

Well, it was a spectacle. Their music isn't really my thing and I'm glad I only had to travel about a mile to see the show. However, it was certainly a site to see. 650 people jumping up and down in an old Vermont gym to what would be best described as a theatrical production of a cartoonish depiction of Eastern European music.

Eugene Hütz of Gogol Bordello is clearly a rock star or at least a guy behaving how he would expect a rock star to behave. He kept the energy in the room bouncing from the moment the band hit the stage until the last note rang out. However, it felt too choreographed for me. Too staged for punk. I prefer a healthy dose of improvisation and authenticity in my concerts. Plus, it's weird to see a show with lavish costumes when the outfits aren't meant to be ironic.

The crowd loved it though. They seemed to pogo and mosh all night long. There were times when I began to think about the old boards holding the floor up as it trampolined from everyone's activity. Then a friend pointed out that the floor is actually meant to hold up to a game of basketball. However, there's only ten people on a basketball court at a time. This would be the equivalent of two teams of 325 players going at it full court for 90 minutes.

The sound in this video is horrible as expected. However, I still filmed and posted it to show the crowd's reaction to Gogol Bordello's music. The kids loved it. I'd occasionally see one or two of them stagger out of the pit with a dazed look on their face. Certainly not something you see in Montpelier very often.