Thursday, January 31, 2008

2007 Year End Survey | JB Leduox

Well, it's taken me two months but this is the final post in our 2007 Year End Survey. 34 responses in total. Thanks to everyone who participated this year. We get a lot of good feedback from people saying they enjoy these posts more than the traditional year-end lists. So, I'm glad to have so many people willing to take the time to send over some thoughts on their favorites of the year.

We started these surveys with Tanner McCuin who is an avant-garde musician and blogger in Burlington and we are going to end it with an avant-garde musician and blogger in Burlington. JB Leduox has been writing his blog, the le duo, about the Burlington music scene since 2005 and has recently added his own talents to that scene by starting two bands in 2007. The first band is his experimental jazz outfit and shares the same name as his blog. The second project is one called Solah and includes fellow blogger Jay Blanchard from Spitting Out Teeth. According to this post on the le duo, they're promising a forthcoming album. Nice. Hopefully, it'll make a bunch of people's lists next December.

1) What was your favorite song of 2007?

not much of a song person per se. didnt listen to many (if any) new national releases this year, i'm a slacker man, but i did love the song nazi tears by nose bleed island & the blood island society. local weirdo pop

Nose Bleed Island | Nazi Tears | Buy

2) What was your favorite album of 2007?

favorite album would have to be the untitled double ep local experimental/classical act oak released this year. a beautiful mix of acoustic & electronic new age sounds.

3) What was your favorite concert of 2007?

concerts... on a national level sonic youth, dinosaur jr, kira kira, akron/family&greg davis&megafaun, Avey Tare & Kria Brekken, sun circle & wind up bird gong bath...local shows- anything by oak & a snake in the garden, dynasty and the cripples july 3rd at super fun place, rock & roll sherpa at the greendoor studio art hop,

4) What was your favorite thing about 2007?

my favorite thing about 2007 musically was starting to play in a doomy droney metal band with my good friend jay

5) What are your best wishes for 2008?

my best wishes for 2008 are that people go out and see more different music & support the local bands and create more of a community for experimentation.

Solah | Divot

MLS + Pottery Barn = WTF?

There are lots of signs these days that soccer is here to stay in the US. However, I was smacked with one of the odder ones when I got home from work today and grabbed the mail. In our box was a Pottery Barn Teen catalog and the front cover proudly announced the arrival of their spring MLS Collection.

What the hell!

MLS is a league where the median salary for the players is $53,000 but somehow Pottery Barn has decided that the best way to get people to open their catalog is to promote their MLS Collection of bedding and decorations on the front cover. I guess that's the "Beckham Effect" but it still feels a good sort of way. It's comforting to know that MLS is becoming financially stable but it also leaves you with the same feeling you get when you hear your favorite song being used to sell financial services.

Now, here's another odd thing about the collection...part of the selection of items is a series of four wall murals of individual players. Which four players do you think they chose?

Becks. That's an obvious one.

Landon Donovan. Another obvious one.

Brian Ching. Huh? I guess he's the top striker on the top team in the league so I'll let that one slide.

Kenny Cooper. That's right. Kenny Friggin' Cooper. The guy had a mere four goals in sixteen games last year before getting hurt. How does that qualify him for being promoted as one of the top four players in the league? Where's Eddie Johnson, Taylor Twellman, Juan Pablo Angel and Luciano Emilio?

The only possible reason for including Kenny Cooper is that the folks at Pottery Barn think their customers would be turned off by black and hispanic players. So, they went with the obvious and milquetoast.

Oh, and they're charging $99 for Kenny Cooper's wall mural. Besides Kenny's mom, they ain't gonna be selling many of those.

Tim Fite

Sometimes, it can take a long time to "get" an artist and while I'm still not sure if I completely "get" Tim Fite, I do enjoy his music these days.

About two years ago, I saw Fite open for The Pernice Brothers in the small room at Higher Ground. For that one, there was about seven of us there. Quite a disappointing turnout.

Now, before the show, I knew absolutely nothing about Fite. Then he came out, dressed as an anachronistic southern traveling salesman in his white suit and slicked back hair, and immediately got involved with the audience by trying too hard to get the seven of us up close to the stage. It's awkward enough to be at a show with so few people but to then have some odd looking guy force you to ignore casual social barriers by goading us to huddle together in an otherwise spacious room, it was awkward to the point of being irritating.

Perhaps that's why I had a negative reaction to the guy. However, something stuck with me from his set. I think it might have been the catchiness of a few of his songs but, more likely, it was the uniqueness of his performance that left an impression.

Fite had one other musician with him and then a large collection of sound samples that he sang/played along to. However, to enhance the show, he had a video screen set up with an image of himself playing the recorded pieces and to top it off, Fite was sitting in a wheelchair while playing the instruments in the video. That's certainly a memorable visual.

You can see an example of what I'm talking about in this YouTube concert clip from a show in Brooklyn around that same time. The sound quality is horrible but you can see Fite singing along to himself in the video.

Well, it stuck with me and I eventually bought his album Gone Ain't Gone. After giving it a bunch of listens, I came to enjoy the quirkiness and unorthodox nature of his songs. Some of the tunes are still too unstructured for me but when he hits on a good melody, the guy deserves to be a hot topic in the blogosphere.

Tim Fite | No Good Here | Buy

Tim Fite | Away From the Snakes | Buy

Montpelier's Farmers Market | Saturday

Just a quick reminder...this Saturday is the first Saturday of the month which means there'll be a farmer's market in Montpelier in the Vermont College gymnasium. The market will run from 10am-2pm.

Balloon Hijinx

Balloons give Sheffield United a 1-0 lead over Man City

Grinding out a ride among the balloons
(music by The Planet The)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thomas Dybdahl

Here's one for the headphone lovers in the crowd.

Norway's Thomas Dybdahl exists musically where Iron & Wine meets Brian Wilson. While many folies are happy with their lo-fi Tascam approach to recording music, Dybdahl layers in all sorts of sounds in his tunes with crispness and clarity while not losing any intimacy.

Take his song "Something Real" from his album Science, for example. It's mainly an acoustic tune with guitar bass and drums but when you listen with those headphones on all sorts of stuff starts swirling around in your head. I think, but am not sure, I'm hearing clangs against glasses and metal, clarinet, washboard and perhaps a radiator. There's also a bunch of other sounds I can't identify. Regardless, if you just let it all wash over you, it's a fun musical experience.

However, I don't think these qualities come through with just the speakers. So, be sure to fasten on some headphones to fully appreciate what Dybdahl is doing here.

Thomas Dybdahl | Something Real | Buy

Thomas Dybdahl | Always | Buy

photo courtesy of eivind_ah

Half-Past the Needle

Come on. You know you want one.

Top Ad Music of 2007

Adtunes is a blog that tracks the ins and outs of music in commercials and each year they post their most memorable musical moments in advertising.

So, here are a few of the commercials they mentioned:

Mates of State Pimping AT&T

The Buzzcocks Hawking AARP

Sun Volt Covering The Beatles to Peddle Beckham

Joshua Radin Covering Yaz to Push JC Penny

Lastly, it isn't on YouTube but Teddybears got their song "Cobrastyle" into yet another commercial. This one was for Secret Deodorant which can be seen here. That makes it about 28 appearances for that song in various commercials, TV shows and films. It's amazing what a good song and a good agent can do for a band's bank account. It all started with this Heineken Ad in 2005:

Up For Auction

Any longtime fan of River Run restaurant in Plainfield will immediately recognize this building. It's the former location of the famed southern cooking / breakfast joint / bar. The place was much too small for such a popular restaurant but you couldn't beat the character of the place with it's warped floor, tilting walls, creaking doors and sloped porch. It felt like home and something magical at the same time; perhaps it was just because the food was so good.

One lesser known tidbit of the building is that it was the original location of A Single Pebble, the excellent Asian restaurant that later moved to Barre and to its current home in Burlington.

Well, the building is now up for auction. The auction will be on Wednesday, Feb 13 @ 11am (register by 10am). The place is only 750 sqft. so it's a bit tight for whatever moves in there. However, considering the success of the last two restaurants there, it's clear that there's a market in the area that'll support good food in that location.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Green Mountain Film Festival | Friends of F45

There it is. In all of its glory. This year's official poster of the Green Mountain Film Festival.

You may have noticed the ad for the festival in the upper right corner of this blog. I just wanted to clarify that it isn't a paid ad. jds and I are simply going to put free ads in our sidebar occasionally for events and organizations that we like. And kicking that off is the best film festival in Northern New England.

The schedule for the GMFF will be announced in February. However, I've been told that the following music films will be a part of the line-up:

Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten

I'm Not There

Pete Seeger: Power of Song

Ski like it's 1948

Ski it if you can for all of $3.50 today (1/29) as Mad River Glen celebrates its 59th anniversary with 1948 lift ticket prices. That's right, $3.50 to ski the legend. With sunny skies, temps pushing 30 degrees, and nearly a foot of "Champlain Powder" over the week, it's the perfect day to call in sick. Remember, only double plankers at the Glen.

Oh, and apparently women dressed like pirates and wore skimpy clothing when they hit the slopes in the 40's. So if you venture out you best not forget the getup.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dean & Britta | Coming to Montreal | Feb 8

OK. I'm a bit confused on this one. I'm not sure if Dean & Britta are opening for Keren Ann, if Keren Ann is opening for them or if they are co-headlining. Jambase gives the impression that Dean & Britta are the headliner. The website for Cabaret du Musee Juste Pour Rire suggests that Ann is the big cheese since they only mention her on the schedule. And lastly, Brooklyn Vegan makes me think they are splitting stage time equally with their post on the show.

I wish I knew because I'd happily drive to Montreal to see Dean & Britta if they are going to play for a while but I'm not a Keren Ann fan and don't want to deal with the drive for a half-hour set. I guess I'll just have to call the venue and hope I don't get "Yes. I speak English. I don't know. Let me check."; only to be permanently placed on hold. We'll see what I get.

For those that don't know, Dean & Britta are Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips of Luna (and Galaxie 500 for Wareham). Last year, they released Back Numbers which is bland at times and fantastic at others. If you liked Luna, then you'll love the mellow atmospheric melody high points of Back Numbers. If not, then you may want to skip this one.

Having said that, I was a big Galaxie 500 and Luna fan back in the day. So, I'm eager to hear this album live. However, I'd like to first find out who's playing when.

Dean & Britta | Words You Used to Say | Buy

Dean & Britta | Say Goodnight | Buy

photo courtesy of kirstiecat

The New York City Waterfalls

I wasn't sure which way to go with this I rip into the provincial New Yorkers for getting excited about some faux waterfalls when dozens of spectacular real waterfalls exist throughout New England if they'd just be willing to drive a few hours outside of their comfort zone or do I applaud the installation of another public art display.

I'm going with the latter.

I like the idea of art being easily accessible to the public and on display where people go about their lives. It makes art a part of the masses daily experience rather than something behind wealthy walls for the few. So, it should be cool to check out the four waterfalls that'll be installed by Olafur Eliasson in the East River this July. Each waterfall will be powered entirely by the pressure of the river which sounds eco-friendly to boot.

At some point this summer, I'm sure I'll head down to NYC to catch one of the last games in Yankee Stadium (before they move across the street to their new home). Now with these waterfalls in the East River, I'll be sure to take the NY Waterway ferry to the game which should run right by a few of the cascades. It's the proverbial "killing two birds with one stone".

When Bobcats Attack

I love love love this guy's enthusiasm for storytelling.

I'm not sure which part I like more though...the part where he's describing the sound he heard or his zeal for whacking at a "Heeeeere's Johnny" rabid bobcat.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

2007 Year End Survey | Bill Simmon

Bill Simmon completes our trifecta of filmmakers in this year's survey. In 2007, Simmon moved closer to completing his documentary and concert film of The Pants by posting a clip from the concert here. You can also watch the trailer for the documentary here.

2007 also saw Simmon winning his second Seven Daysie award for the best non-political blog in Vermont for the always entertaining Candleblog. Simmon also won the award in 2005 before the award was split between political and non-political blogs.

1) What was your favorite song of 2007?

The Mesopotamians by They Might Be Giants from their 2007 release, The Else, was the best song on an album that was a return to form for that band and their show at HG was nerds in paradise. They sound as good as they ever have -- better, really.

They Might Be Giants | The Mesopotamians | Buy

2) What was your favorite album of 2007?

Is it lame to name an album that was recorded in 1971 and released in 2007? Neil Young Live at Massey Hall 1971 is a glowing star of pretty. It's Young at the absolute top of his game, alone with an acoustic guitar and a grand piano -- the way he was meant to be. This show was recorded just a month or so before Young recorded his album Harvest and features him introducing the song Old Man to a crowd that had never heard it before.

Other notable albums: Sky Blue Sky by Wilco, The Else by TMBG, In Rainbows by Radiohead, The Shepherd's Dog by Iron and Wine

3) What was your favorite concert of 2007?

I have to say TMBG at Higher Ground, because they sounded so good and the crowd was so nerd-tastic! Wilco & Low at the Shelburne Museum was beautiful too.

4) What was your favorite thing about 2007?

Selfishly, I liked getting my new kick ass MacBook Pro. I also liked winning the Goldstone Award at the Vermont International Film Festival. SXSW back in March was amazing. Seeing the film No Country for Old Men was a high point too.

5) What are your best wishes for 2008?

I hope to finish the ever-languishing Pants documentary I'm making and I would very much like a Democrat to win the Presidency in November. Last year I think I wished for a peaceful resolution to the war in Iraq and that didn't work. Your blog is broken!

The Smittens | The Tank (CMJ) | Oct 17

Things Chris Recorded has a file up with The Smittens' performance at this past October's CMJ festival in NYC.

A few quick Smittens notes:

♥ They've completely overhauled their website.

♦ They'll be announcing the track listing and release date of their next album sometime over the next week.

♣ They are playing Club Metronome on Thursday, Feb 7 with Leslie and the Ly's.

♠ They'll be playing at Langdon Street Cafe in Montpelier on Thursday, Feb 21. WOO! HOO!

photo courtesy of

The RPM Challenge - February 2008

Do you need something to get you over some writer's block or general procrastination?

If so, you may want to try The RPM Challenge.

Here's the rundown of the particulars from RPM's website:

• This will be fun!

• Ten songs or 35 minutes of recorded material, on a CD, postmarked or hand-delivered by noon on March 1 to:

10 Vaughan Mall, Suite 1
Portsmouth, NH 03801

• Recording can only be done in the month of February – no prerecorded songs.

• All material must be previously unreleased, and we encourage you to write the material during February too.

• Participating bands get their own page on the site, which you can blog to as much as you want. You also get access to the band-only discussion board, where you can swap ideas, resources, etc., and the ability to e-mail and private message with the other participants.

• All the completed albums may be put up in the jukebox on the website, if you so choose, so people can check it out; conversely, if you’d rather not share your work with the public, then no one needs to hear it but us.

Write some instrumentals, split up the songwriting duties amongst band members, form an RPM side project, write songs on the piano or clarinet instead of your primary instrument, make that metal album you’ve always wanted to - buy a ukulele! Just do your best to make the best album you can. Be unafraid.

I'm not a musician in any manner so I have no idea how big of a task this is but I'm guessing it would be a good way to get your creative juices flowing. However, I did chuckle to myself when I thought of The Capstan Shafts trying this challenge. The guy could probably record an entire box set in a month. Challenging him to write just ten songs in a month would be like asking Stephen King to write a short story over the next year.

By the way, for any folks down towards Portsmouth, I noticed that there'll be a kick-off party at The Press Room in Portsmouth on Thursday, January 31st (7pm).

2007 Year End Survey | Michael Barrett

Due to his great work in Guppyboy, The Sixth Great Lake, The Essex Green and his solo work, Michael Barrett will always be connected to the Vermont music scene; even if he's down among the masses and chowder of Boston these days.

One of the sweet development with Barrett this year is his tub keewah recordings blog which houses some live recordings from The Essex Green, Gubbyboy and his solo work. I wish more artists would do that for their fans.

1) What was your favorite song of 2007?

Bruce Springsteen - "Factory" from Darkness on the Edge of Town

Bruce Springsteen | Factory | Buy

2) What was your favorite album of 2007?

M. Ward
Transistor Radio and Post-War

I put these records in a giant iTunes playlist along with "Transfiguration of Vincent" and played them over and over on shuffle. It helped get me through so many long days in 2007.

3) What was your favorite concert of 2007?

Essex Green with Camera Obscura at Paradise, Boston, 1/27/07
The EG version of the Flying Burrito Brothers' "Older Guys" was the best song of the night.

4) What was your favorite thing about 2007?

Winning free tickets to game 7 of the ALCS (Sox vs. Indians) at Fenway Park - (Followed closely by Dustin Pedroia's 2-run home run in that same game.)

5) What are your best wishes for 2008?

Health and happiness to you and your family.

Thanks for thinking of me. Happy new year!

Michael Barrett | Chill Out | Buy

Note From Flatlander: jds and I were also at that Essex Green/Camera Obscura show down in Boston with our friend gps who writes the blog Pages Within. While I failed to ever post about the show, it certainly was a fun concert.

However, the most memorable experience of the night was that after a lady complained to us that she couldn't see over me and wanted to stand in front of us, gps and her started chatting. Well, that led to gps and her exchanging phone numbers which led to a nice romance which led to an engagement in August and has now led them to getting married this week and heading for the tiny island nation of Palau in Micronesia to work for the next year. It's amazing what a great double bill can do to bring people together.

The Sugarettes

( ( The Go! Team + The Raveonettes ) * ( 1 + Johann Cruyff ) ) = The Sugarettes

The Sugarettes | Ready Steady | Buy

Get Fuzzy

From Get Fuzzy.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rotary Downs

You can't tell the story of a band from New Orleans without connecting them to Katrina and it's going to be that way for the next several years. Now, I could write a bunch of words explaining Rotary Downs and their situation but this video from Al Gore's Current does a much better job than I ever could.

I'm not as emphatic in my praise for Chained to the Chariot as some reviewers have been because the album can be a bit spotty. However, when it's good, it's an infectious blend of Beck's layered sounds with Stephen Malkmus's Pavement-era disaffected vocals. Plus, I'm a sucker for bands that blend trumpets and xylophones with jangly guitars.

Yes, I skip over some tracks while I listen to the album but you should still buy the full album rather than individual tracks because...well...the dude lost everything he owned to Katrina and he could use your help.

Rotary Downs | False Protection | Buy

Rotary Downs | A Feast In Squalor | Buy


About two years ago, I wrote a less-than-glowing review of Justin Levinson's debut album, 1175 Boylston, for Seven Days. Well, that led to a shit storm of anger towards me from Levinson's friends and fans. My basic point in the review was that while the album was well-produced and crafted, the songs seemed shallow and lacked the passion needed to get the listener emotionally involved.

Well, earlier this month, Dan Bolles of Seven Days reviewed Levinson's sophmore album, Bury Your Love, and came to a similar conclusion about that album. From Bolles' review:

Levinson’s vocal performance suggests he knows he’s pretty much phoned it in. Though his technique and pitch are solid, he often sings as though he can’t wait to get to the end of the song. His delivery lacks any sort of urgency or passion, and gives the listener precious little reason to engage with his material. We can’t care if you don’t, man.

Justin Levinson certainly has chops and a keen sense of pop archetypes. But book-smarts can propel one only so far. You just can’t teach soul.

While I haven't heard Levinson's new album, I feel a bit of redemption knowing that a pro critic came to a similar conclusion about Levinson's work.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

2007 Year End Survey | The Mile Project

Do you feel like participating in an audacious art project? Well, draw something and send it to Joe Hudak at The Mile Project.

Joe Hudak is Vermont's Christo with his goal of collecting enough drawings to fill a mile-long screen-printed canvas. The project has been going since 2006, has reached the 20% mark and has the goal of bringing participation and community among average folks into the art world. I love that idea.

So, draw something and send it to Joe. The details are here.

When he's not checking his mailbox for your doodles, Joe is a big music fan and took some time to send over his favorites.

1) What was your favorite song of 2007?

I flipped through my iTunes library with the pub dates turned on and found precious few music purchases circa 2007, but here's a few selections that got me through the year.

you know my name
Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell | You Know My Name | Buy

Chris Cornell's voice has been ringing in my ears for years and it often amazes me how a guy with the melodic range of a Husqvarna could produce such entertaining stuff. This track, the theme for last year's incarnation of Bond, is a favorite more for what it evokes than what it sounds like (although I dig what it sounds like). The past couple years have seen more than it's share of 'I told you so'. The cinema, television, magazines and books, even things created years ago seemed steeped in the foul bathwater we're soaking in right now, from war commentary to planet microwavery. Some would say our reality is pretty grim. It all seems pretty much right on, but being thwacked repeatedly on the noggin by the 2x4 of truth doesn't make it smart any less. Some days, when I'm stuck behind that jackass having major difficulty comprehending the seeming simplicity of the Winooski rotary, acutely aware of my idling engine incurring unneeded wear, my carbon footprint growing to cryptozoological proportions and that $3.40 per gallon gasoline I just filled up with being pissed out the window, I just need to pretend my eleven year old Audi is a Tungsten Silver Aston Martin Vanquish with surface-to-surface missiles under the headlights, reticle trained on that stupid gloved hand waving cars past him 'cause he's 'trying to turn right'.This tune gives me that for four minutes and two seconds.

A few runners up (with B sides for nostalgia...)

Icky Thump / You don't know what love is (you just do what you're told)
The White Stripes

The White Stripes | Icky Thump | Buy

If you're gonna get all persnickety on the "made in the 2007" part of this , then I choose either of these tracks. I love the White Stripes. While throughly enjoying the boys' club studio-ness of the Raconteurs' disc, when Jack and Meg do their thing they produce litters of lusciously lo-tech schtuff. Weirdness and skill, when mixed, always create something really, really interesting, and few do it like the White Stripes. Sure hope Meg is feeling better...

Man Ray / Stupid & Shallow
the Futureheads

The Futureheads | Stupid & Shallow | Buy

Great fun, these. The ferocity of the Hives, with an English bent a little closer to American sensibilities. Good live too.

The Swish/Your Little Hoodrat Friend
The Hold Steady

Woof. Smarmy lyrics, firehosed out of Craig Finn's carcinogenic rattle of a voicebox. Just enough Fuck You/We're Awesome to make you wanna get on board.

Bohemian Like You/We Used To Be Friends (and others), The Dandy Warhols. Malibu/Awful, Courtney Love (yeah, really) and big slices of the Flaming Lips, the Hidden Cameras, Of Montreal, Iggy Pop, the Jam, the Killers, the Lemonheads, Orbital, PIXIES, Westerberg, Stellastarr, The The, Ultra Vivid Scene, T-Hip, Velvets, Veruca Salt, Lucinda, Shins, the Reverend Horton Heat, NIN, Michael Leviton (still) Sweet, Ween, the Gourds and on and on and on....

This is beginning to resemble a coredump of my iPod, so I'm gonna stop here.

2) What was your favorite album of 2007?

Moron Love by Nicki Gonzalez. If the single is the musical equivalent of one of those Lindt truffles that, in the past year, seem to be taking up space on every damn retail counter I go near: quick, one-off point-of-purchase transactions that you consume and forget, then the album is somewhere around seven courses.

Moron Love, the latest offering by the indie/pop/rocker is killer. This, her first solo album, has all the gloss of a studio birth, and the gorgeous features off all its many parents. World-beat and jazz, classic and prog-rock, with Gonzalez' vocals landing between pre-cash-in Phair and croony Suzanne Vega. A favorite all over the NY-DC corridor, Nicki Gonzalez' live shows continue to spread (internationally!) and are cultivating larger audiences than ever.

As a single work, the album has cohesion, but each track shows it's own stripes. Insomnia plays with the milky atmosphere of an underground club, After tonight's guitar puts caribbean sand between my toes, with lyrics that evoke pure cold jersey shore. And, as varietal as the tracks are melodically, the words are pure Nicki. Slit-eyed wry, bullshitless, possessing than ever-present grin of her's, with a bit more fang than makes you completely comfortable.

I chose this album for two reasons. The why you know. Here's the how:

Moron Love is a DIY baby. It was cast and ground by the artist on the cover, with help from select pros that she wanted, stalked and shot herself. No studio weasel trying to shoehorn the material into an easily digested nugget, no greasy Mariah Carey padrone wiping his dick on her blood-stained artist's rights waiver. This bad boy is home-grown, hand-made with all the passion and the sweat-equity of Gonzalez herself. Self-produced, self-promoted, owned and operated. Smell that Universal/Sony/BMG/EMI/Warner? That's the sweet perfume of your bloating carcass as it biodegrades on the beach. What you were once good for can now be done with a Macbook and a credit card. (Now, how can we do this to the oil companies?)

A tireless singer/songwriter/promoter who also assembles her own bands, manages her own gigs and still finds the time to do the occasional TV show, photo shoot or stage performance (you can see her onstage this month at DC's Studio Theatre) Nicki Gonzalez is ferocious. Why she's not a Martha-Stewart multinational by now is a mystery to me, but it's only a matter of time.

3) What was your favorite concert of 2007?

Oh, this is a good one. February 23, 2007. Ramona Cordova, Anna Pardenik and Hello Shark at Tick Tick, ground zero. The show itself was great. Cordova's unearthly castrato-pan-pipe vocals were fascinating, Pardenik's singing and playing was an ear-pricking phenomenon (please, Anna, record something and sell it to me) Even Hello Shark's campy, teenage sleepover schtick produced a grin. A great Tick Tick event, micro-streamed and top-notch. What made this show my favorite of the year, however, is that it caused TROUBLE. It was big enough to be attended and written up by the A&E writer at the local daily, which raised their landlord's hackles and ejected their fledgling shows into the street. They had to scramble around town for willing venues and partnerships, and in doing so, spread their incredible events into every dark corner they could get their paws on. Now, you can hardly turn around twice without seeing Tick Tick's name on something in B-Town.

Tick Tick was belched forth by a small clutch of talented folks who stopped bitching and started a real live revolution a little over a year ago, and due in some small part to this event (I'm sure their inexhaustible talent and inspired lunacy has nothing to do with anything) they now occupy a cabinet post on Burlington's indie arts scene. Their visual work is consistently fucking adorable, and their shows (and name and reputation) are getting bigger and better every single day. Check out their work on

4) What was your favorite thing about 2007?

Good god, one thing? I dunno, it was a long year. Getting really close to the 20% mark on drawings for the Mile Project. Talking real globetrotter sushi with marker-ninja FOS. Eating bluefin-loads of sushi with Billie. Priceless treasure from JMLR, a string of great art at the Firehouse gallery (including Jennifer Koch's bottomless show, there until January 26, get off your collective asses and absorb that skewed confection right now.) Chilloiterin' with Shaugn at Tick Tick's one year, bear-themed party (don't get greedy, guys. I already did you once...that was an event and a half, though.) My little dog. An almost-infinite new computer bag, I know I'm forgetting the cherry on top...I'll think of it later.

5) What are your best wishes for 2008?

For 2008, I'm hoping to see the new UP, (by Jan 1...) and my new project, 50, online as well.

I'd like to wish the sitting president the best of luck on whatever endeavor he chooses to pursue after his term is over. After shooting at every country that might have a barrel of oil underneath it, amassing untold warehouses of wealth for himself and his friends plundering everything not nailed down, and boot-screwing just about every single man, woman and child on planet earth, really, what else is there? the lecture circuit? Whatever he chooses to do, I just hope it is located far, far away from Washington, D.C., the sharp knife drawer, or anywhere else that might afford him the opportunity to hurt himself or others. You know, I hear Iraq is reallllly safe these days. If you put your post-presidency office there, you'd definitely one-up Bill's tired old Harlem address...Plus, you have so many friends in the middle east...just a thought.

For everyone else, I wish a hydrogen-powered, renewably-generated, non-commercial, home-made, DIYed, natural-fibered, ozone-replenished new year... and I hear Wal-Mart even gift-wraps them for free!


Fun with album covers.

Rock Shows at Dartmouth

For some reason I find it crazy that Dartmouth College is only an hour away. Barely a slingshot from Vermont's eastern banks, it seems like another world. 55 minutes in the car and boom, I'm sitting in the middle of the Ivy League of the north.

Besides searching for Evan and Fogell, it's greatest benefit to this 30 something indie rock fan is the Friday Night Rock series at the school's Rocket Fuel Club. Located in the basement of the student center, RFC presents a handful of fantastic acts each semester. Previous performers include Xiu, Xiu, Bishop Allen, Jens Lekman, Menomena, and The Wrens. Best of all, the shows are free. FREE! Tops was the 10/28/05 Mountain Goats show where Flatlander and I were served a steady stream of free PBR. If that entices you, and/or you don't feel guilt benefiting from someone else's tuition dollars, then take a gander at this semester's show listing.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hispanic Cheddar

It's been a while since we've commented on a commercial here at f45. This morning I came across this article that really caught my eye: Luis Guzmán, the Hispanic character actor, selling Cabot Extra Sharp. He's made a career making stellar performances in bit roles, but selling Vermont Cheddar?

Luis actually happens to be a bit of a gentleman farmer up in rural Cabot, VT (population 1,200)when he's not on a movie set. Which makes sense of the fact that I ran into him and his family during Eliza Lynn's set at Toubab Krewe's Festivus this summer. The Guzmán family sitting in a field surrounded by twirling hippies is quite the sight, but not too far off from seeing him hawking cheddar.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

2007 Year End Survey | Tick Tick

One of the best developments in the Vermont music scene has been Tick Tick. Desiring more indie shows in the area, Tick Tick decided to fill the void by promoting shows in unique venues all over town. Whether, it was in a bar, art gallery or church, if the folks at Tick Tick digged a band, they’d promote the show. In the end, they filled the area with 50 additional shows this year that likely wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

In fact, my favorite show of the year was the one they put together at the Stannard Church for The Capstan Shafts, Joana Kuinin, Horse Feathers and Casey Deniel. Plus, they dig the Kamikaze Hearts like jds and I do.

Julia Lewandoski

1) What was your favorite song of 2007?

In the category of new:

For truly new/new: Nosebleed Island: "Pizza Planet." Off their new album, "More Tales from the Blood Island." You can listen to the whole thing online at

Also new: Bon Iver "Skinny Love."

Also: LCD Soundsystem "Someone Great"

In the category of new to me/the song is in fact a year older than me: Orange Juice: "Upwards and Onwards."

Nosebleed Island | Pizza Planet | Buy

2) What was your favorite album of 2007?

Ryan Power "Is it happening?" Rad!!!

Shawn Grady "My Baby Makes Magic" Also rad!

Paleo "The Song Diary." This is actually on a DVD, it is 365 songs that he recorded while touring for an entire year, writing and recording a song every day. I am awestruck about someone taking on and completing this sort of a project. On his website there is also a beautiful photo essay about the last two weeks of it.

3) What was your favorite concert of 2007?

Home Items live at Volga River Trading Company
- you had to arrive promptly at 5:45 or else not get in
- almost everyone arrived via bicycle
- home items is great
- there was dancing
- it was the very beginning of summer

The Gong Bath at the Green Door (I'm pretty sure that was in 2007, it was last winter). There were three gongs and a lot of lying on the floor.

Raccoo-oo-oon and Evan Miller @ Kriya Studio. In part because of the order, loud first and quiet second.

My favorite two shows as Tick Tick the promoters were:

Ramona Cordova, Anna Pardenik, Hello Shark in February. That was a very happy evening that ended in dancing.

Capstan Shafts, Johanna Kunin, Horsefeathers, Casey Dienel and the Flapjacks at the Stannard Church.
This took a lot of planning but was also spontaneous and beautiful and filled with wonderful people and took place in my home town.

4) What was your favorite thing about 2007?

I really like Burlington.

5) What are your best wishes for 2008?

Less pain for the world, in general. Also, extended evening hours for CCTA buses, especially to Winooski, and a better public transportation system all over Vermont.

Dale Donaldson

1) What was your favorite song of 2007?

The song Translation from Ryan Power's newest Is it Happening? (self-released 2007)
The entire album speaks to me, but this song in particular makes me WANT music again. It's so great that such a talented artist resides(sometimes) in Burlington. It's so crazy that he is still so under the radar, it blows my mind. Do yourself a favor...find this this this album over and and over again...and when your finally exhausted remember one thing...Why Fuck with Magic.

Ryan Power | Is It Happening? | Buy

2) What was your favorite album of 2007?

This is a tough question!!!! I have met so many musicians this year that have produced incredible audible offerings...I think it would have to be the self titled debut of Adrian Orange and Her Band (K Records 2007) It's a fucking masterpiece! It's a perfect combination of Fela Kuti and Portland, OR. It's everything I have ever wanted from an entire album. I was fortunate to see him at radio bean last winter touring with Olympia, Washington's LAKE (who are in fact "Her Band") It was a great show and a sneak peak at what was to become my Fave album of 2007. It makes want to DANCE! and cry...

Notable Awesomeness:

Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals (We Are Free Records)
Ryan Power - Is it Happening? (self released)
Nosebleed Island - Tales from the blood island society (Bunny Huang Records)
Health - S/T (Lovepump United Records)

3) What was your favorite concert of 2007?

This is an Incredibly tough question since Tick Tick has promoted over 50 shows in the last year...The most understated show we promoted that more people should have seen was the Incredible bill that included Viking Moses, Phosphorescent and The Castanets. It was at kriya and 50 people showed up to witness a spectacular meeting of some the most exciting musicians in contemporary folk music today. The most anticipated show was the Capstan Shafts and Johanna Kunin in Stannard, Vermont. It was Magical! Matt lemay From pitchfork came! A lot of our friends from Burlington came! We finally got to hear and see the mysterious Dean Wells perform. It was the first time that I realized how many people we have met over the past year. At the last minute our friends from Portland, OR Horse Feathers (on their way to POP Montreal) and our friends Casey Dienel and the Flap Jacks from Boston, MA (also on their way to POP Montreal) decided to play the show. It was a power house of anticipation, quite ambiance, camaraderie and beautiful music all in a beautiful church in the northeast kingdom. After the show 25 of us a had a huge sleepover at MOMSTERS house. It was epic!

I feel I need to also mention the Health/Yip Yip show at the monkey house! Health is incredible! If you don't know who they are you should check them out! If you get a chance to see them live...DO IT!!! the few people that we there could attest to the uncontrollable energy they gave to us the crowd. You could not..not dance or at least spasmodically flail your body around to some the best music being made today by these handsome boys from LA LA LAND!!!

4) What was your favorite thing about 2007?

1. Seeing less Jam and more AWESOME in Burlington and greater Vermont.
2. The Monkey House!
3. Getting a sweet paper cutter and HUGE drying rack for the studio.

5) What are your best wishes for 2008?

I really hope Mr. Island and Miss Marbles move back to Burlington and I would like to see/help to empower Burlington musicians and artists to continue to bring Burlington front and center as a viable Northeast music and art scene. I don't want to hear anyone say "You can never see any exciting music or art here!" or "They would never come here!" or "I really want to make music...but I 'm not good enough"

If we come together we can do anything!

2008 Greetings From Neil Cleary

While we didn't receive any survey answers from Neil Cleary this year, he and Dayva did record this New Year's greeting for all their friends and family.

For those of you down in Boston, Neil will be playing at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge this Thursday, Jan 17. For the rest of us, Neil's 2007 LP I Was Thinking of You the Whole Time is available on iTunes. It's the best "scoundrel pop" album of the year. Hooks and snarky lyrics galore.

Neil Cleary | Sucker | Buy

Monday, January 14, 2008

2007 Year End Survey | Matthew Loiacono

We generally keep this year end survey focused on Vermonters. However, we'll always make an exception for the False 45th house band, The Kamikaze Hearts and its leader, Matthew Loiacono. Hailing from Albany, The Kamikaze Hearts hit Burlington twice this year as they continued to tour in support of their great 2006 album of Americana porch rock, Oneida Road. They also re-released their Foxhole Prayers EP this year which is available via emusic and iTunes.

1) What was your favorite song of 2007?

What a great year 2007 has been for music! Narrowing down is impossible -- here are some favorite songs - "And You Lied to Me" - Besnard Lakes, "Aeroplane", "Savior", "Be Miner" and "Lonely Anywhere" - the everybodyfields, "Murderer" - LOW, "Darklooming" - The Depreciation Guild , "The Con" - Tegan and Sara, "From Nothing to Nowhere" - Pinback, "Danny", "Side" and "Christine" - Madi Diaz

Besnard Lakes | And You Lied to Me | Buy

The Everybodyfields | Lonely Anywhere | Buy

Tegan and Sara | The Con | Buy

2) What was your favorite album of 2007?

The National - "Boxer", Besnard Lakes - "... Are the Dark Horse", LOW - "Drums and Guns", the Daytrotter sessions from Horse Feathers and Dirty Projectors, Winterpills - "The Light Divides" (criminally un-mouthed about - the world should be ashamed of itself), the everybodyfields - "nothing is okay", the recently released (free) download of The Depreciation Guild's " In Her Gentle Jaws", Pinback - "Autumn of the Seraphs", -- I could go on....

3) What was your favorite concert of 2007?

Hands down - Horse Feathers and Katie Haverly at 83 3rd St. (R.I.P.) in Troy, NY on June 18, 2007. After an absolutely killer set from Katie (tears in the house everywhere...), HF destroyed this short-lived awesome venue. If only the tape recorder was running....

4) What was your favorite thing about 2007?

Finally heading out on vacation to Oregon and catching all of Pickathon! Perhaps one of the best festivals I've ever attended. Fans are treated to _at least_ two performances from each artist / band over the course of the weekend in drastically different situations. Some favorites included an amazing songwriter round-robin workshop with Alela Diane, Gregory + the Hawk and Ian Thomas, along with revelatory late night sets by Dale Watson, Erin McKeown, and the Avett Brothers.

5) What is your best wish for 2008?

Wishing & hoping for the best from everyone.

The Kamikaze Hearts | Tennessee | Buy

Sunday, January 13, 2008

2007 Year End Survey | Jay Ekis & Brian Clark

Jay Ekis, formerly of EKIS, and Brian Clark of Kris Gruen's band have formed a new band which I believe is tentatively titled Jay Ekis but I'm not 100% sure about that. Regardless, they have a debut album coming out early in 2008 called "Touched By War". While I haven't heard them yet, they say it's a departure from the world pop stuff that marked Ekis' earlier band, EKIS.

That's certainly evident from Jay and Brian's musical faves of 2007.

Brian Clark

1) What was your favorite song of 2007?

"Goodnight Rose" from Ryan Adams' Easy Tiger, which came out this past spring. I really liked the album, with the exception of a couple songs, and felt the whole thing had a great interplay between band members (the Cardinals are his backing group) and Adams. The sound and feel is an organicy rock with a bit of an acoustic slant. A nice, spontaneous-in-the-studio vibe, to my ears. I really like it- this song in particular. I like the strangulated, desperate voice he uses.

Ryan Adams | Goodnight Rose | Buy

2) What was your favorite album of 2007?

New Moon by Elliott Smith. No hesitation there. I've loved his music since the first moment I heard it and nothing's changed over the years. I love the later stuff that most don't like as much as the early albums too. It's just all of a piece for me. I think he's one of the best things to have happened to music in a long time- one of the greatest. So to have all these wonderful songs from a very vital and productive point in his career is really important to me. And it's incredible that these pieces didn't make it into the albums at the time. They are beautiful, every bit as good as what did make the cut and punctuated by 3 covers that feel tailor made for me (as I'm sure they do for countless of his fans). He does a solo studio take of Thirteen by Big Star that breaks my heart every time, as well as solo versions of See You Later and Half Right. Those are songs from his band of the time, Heatmiser, from their Mic Cit y Sons album- a desert island album for me.

3) What was your favorite concert of 2007?

Well, I've got two sons, ages two and four. Meaning the night life ain't exactly my life these days. Which is to say I don't see a lot of shows these days- I try to use that kind of time rehearsing, recording and gigging. But I did get to see The Sea and Cake at Higher Ground, which was great because they are an important band for me and I like their new album. And I love Nels Cline's guitar playing so I enjoyed Wilco this past summer.

Most memorable for me was seeing Sean Lennon at Higher Ground. I got to watch the soundcheck and was fairly unimpressed. It was boring, actually, and they were still working out how songs were going to be structured and things that felt like they should already have been worked out. But when they took the stage they were just ON all of the sudden, in a very professional way. They gelled and the energy was great and Lennon was personable and smart and the music came across very well.

4) What was your favorite thing about 2007?

Driving to town with the kids in the back begging for "Paul Westerberg!" and wanting it louder and louder... or... my wife and I taking our first ever night away from the kids, going to a good concert and staying overnight in a hotel after going out for drinks in a small, quiet, dimly lit bar...or ... starting with a pile of rough lumber and some tools and creating some necessary piece of our home (which I will apparently never ever ever never ever finish)...or ... I discovered, to my dismay, that I like tea. Herbal tea, in fact; as a form of comfort. Weird... or... I got to play guitar a lot this year- I was lucky in that regard... or... kicking a ball around the yard with the boys; pulling them around behind me in a bike trailer... or... seeing the dim light of a better American administration on the horizon... or... the three days stuck at home after three feet of snow came down on us... or...some kind of amalgamatio n/culmination of all these little things. Maybe it was the year of trying to appreciate the little things. That must have been my favorite thing.

5) What are your best wishes for 2008?

That somehow, some way, even by whatever means necessary, our country can come together and figure out how to get slightly more than half of its citizens to vote for the lesser of two evils for president. Is it okay I wrote that? Can I say that here? Hey, why not- this is still Vermont, for a little while at least. Maybe I should be realistic and just wish for more tea. Or scotch.

Jay Ekis

1) What was your favorite song of 2007?

from CD below, "Soft Place To Land"

Mary Gauthier | Soft Place To Land | Buy

2) What was your favorite album of 2007?

Mary Gauthier's Between Daylight and Dark
(her previous release Mercy Now from 2005 is even better)

3) What was your favorite concert of 2007?

The Gourds at Higher Ground. Nov. was it?

4) What was your favorite thing about 2007?

my six-year-old daughter and I have been learning to play the piano together.

5) What are your best wishes for 2008?

I hope that the Second Coming will occur in the new year so all the "chosen" will be on their merry way and the rest of us can live in peace.