Monday, March 31, 2008

Ray's Vast Basement

OK. I know this sounds like an April Fool's joke mocking hyper-literate bands but Ray's Vast Basement really is a band from NoCal that released an entire album based upon the works of John Steinbeck. The project started when Jon Bernson of RVB was commissioned by the Actor's Theater in SF to compose music for the theater's performance of Of Mice and Men. Well, I guess Bernson just couldn't stop himself after that because he then went on to tackle Grapes of Wrath, Tortilla Flats, East of Eden and Cannery Row. What?!?! No love for Travels with Charley.

The band collected the pieces and released them last summer on their third album, Starvation Under Orange Trees. Some of the tracks suffer from the dreaded "sameness disease" that kills albums like dutch elm disease knocked off trees but when the band takes advantage of the fullness of their ensemble, they hit some high peaks. I'm not enough of a Steinbeck fan to speak to how well Bernson did in translating the books to song but I'm digging the album on a less literary level.

Ray's Vast Basement | California's Gone (Grapes of Wrath) | Buy

Ray's Vast Basement | Black Cotton (Of Mice & Men) | Buy

Stereotyping Record Store Clerks

Well, someone has gone and written another silly screed against record store clerks. You can read it here.

I'm so tired of this stereotype of record store clerks. In my nearly thirty years of buying records, I can't recall a single time I've had a store employee say anything detrimental about what I was buying. No funny vibes. No intimidating glares. In fact, it's never been anything but the opposite.

The clerks I've dealt with have been incredibly helpful. I even remember one time as a kid when I asked a clerk for help because I couldn't find any Van Morrison albums under "V". Now, that's a perfect opportunity for a clerk to take a pound of flesh out of me for making him walk me to the "M" section. However, the guy just pointed out that Van is his first name and his albums are filed under "M". Not a dismissive tone in his voice.

The fact is that over the years, I've discovered a ton of great albums due to one clerk or another. Belle & Sebastian's If You're Feeling Sinister was from a clerk at Tunes in Hoboken. Lambchop's How I Quit Smoking was from a clerk at Vintage Vinyl in Jersey. And The Handsome Family's Twilight was courtesy of The Cush keyboardist Michael Clifford when he was working at Buch Spieler.

I don't know why this stereotype of record store clerks has developed but I think it has to do with people lacking confidence in their purchases and externalizing that cognitive dissonance by taking a paranoid stance against the otherwise innocuous looks from the person taking their cash.

Now, those asshats at Shaw's commenting on my choice of paper over plastic...I hate those fuckers.

photo courtesy of Control Top

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Black Mountain | Glasslands | Brooklyn | Feb 23 2008

After hearing about how jds and I enjoyed the Black Mountain show in Montreal last month, a friend gave me this matrix recording. It isn't the Montreal show but the one in Brooklyn from earlier in the same week. Similar setlist. It overmodulates at a few points but, in general, sounds great.

Black Mountain | Night Walks

Black Mountain | Stormy High

Black Mountain | Voices

Black Mountain | Queens Will Play

Black Mountain | Wucan

Black Mountain | Tyrants

Black Mountain | Druganaut

Black Mountain | Thirteen Walls

Black Mountain | Evil Ways

Black Mountain | No Hits

Black Mountain | No Satisfaction

photo courtesy of surgery

I'm Loving This Drummer

It's slow to start but stick with it.

I'm Not There

Last Tuesday, as part of the Green Mountain Film Festival, I caught Todd Haynes' much-talked-about Dylan biopic I'm Not There. Like everyone else that's seen the movie, I have a few opinions on it:

♪ Going into the film, I had heard rave reviews for Cate Blanchett's performance and boos for Richard Gere's. Perhaps I'm just feeling contrarian on this one but I don't see what the big deal was with Blanchett's portrayal of Dylan. Yes, it's interesting to see a woman play a man but it's not like she was recreating the image of Clint Eastwood. It's Dylan and during that era, Dylan had a lot of feminine features. Plus, she was really just mimicking the image of Dylan we've all seen in D.A. Pennebaker's Don't Look Back. She didn't have to bring any new interpretations to the role. She basically just strived to live up to those feelings we had for the original movie. None of the other actors had that luxury.

♪ Regarding Gere's performance, while Gere didn't do much other than wander around some sets that looked like a cross between The Basement Tapes and Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, he wasn't given much to work with either. His scenes were easily the most abstract of Dylan creations and perhaps people were just reacting negatively towards that sense of confusion. So, it wasn't so much the actor but what he was given to work with. I don't think any actor could have made those scenes any more clear or compelling.

♪ One thing that saved the Gere scenes and got me to perk up was when Gere rode his horse down the street and came upon...Jim James & Calexico singing on a stage. From digging the soundtrack for the last few months, I was quite aware of their fine performance of "Goin' to Acapulco" but I didn't know that Jim James (in white face) and Calexico were both going to appear in the movie and play most of the song. Nice treat. However, then I kept hoping that Gere would wander upon Antony & the Johnsons doing "Knockin' on Heaven's Door". Seeing Antony on the big screen would certainly have further perplexed the masses.

♪ My favorite sequences involved Heath Ledger simply because it was the first time I'd ever seen any film try to portray Dylan's years in the late 60's raising kids in Woodstock. Dylan talks about those years in Chronicles Vol. 1 and, now that I'm in the midst of child-rearing years, I found them more interesting. It just makes for a compelling contrast between the public persona of Dylan and the reality of the guy struggling with marriage and spending time with his kids. I have no idea how accurate it was but I'm glad Haynes delved into that era.

♪ I also enjoyed the quick cuts to Ben Whishaw playing Dylan at a press conference during the 60's. Ever since reading Robert Shelton's biography of Dylan, No Direction Home, where he transcribes his contentious press interviews, I've always enjoyed listening to Dylan spar with the media. Whishaw did a good job of bringing those quick clips alive.

♪ My biggest complaint with the film is the same complaint I have about most Dylan books and films...they focus on the 60's and a little bit of the 70's and then completely ignore the rest of his career. I know that people love the 60's and Dylan was a huge part of that tumultuous period but a lot has gone on in Dylan's career since the 70's. Why doesn't anyone ever want to explore what drove him into an artistic rut in the 80's but then rebound with Oh, Mercy; followed by an almost feverish period of touring that still continues today. Plus, in the early 90's, Dylan told Columbia that he would never be recording any new material. Well, what drove him to that decision and then to reverse himself with three strong late career albums? I'd love to see a film that dove into those murky waters and came up with some ideas.

♪ The sold out crowd busted out in applause at the end of the film. Am I the only person that finds that weird? Isn't the purpose of applause to let the performer know you are enjoying their work? But Haynes and the cast are thousands of miles away (and probably don't care). When people applaud in a movie theater, I feel they are just trying to show off how much they loved the film to their fellow film-goers. It's always seemed pretentious to me and when it's an artsy Dylan film, it's even more so.

♪ Oh, I almost forgot...the music was fantastic.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Beach House + Papercuts + Greg Davis | 3.30.08 | Winooski

Local presenters Tick Tick have put together a beautiful woozefest for this Sunday:

Touring in support of their new record Devotion (Carpark), Baltimore-based two piece Beach House (MySpace) play lovely, sparse, autumnal, lovesick songs. With echoes of Mazzy Star, Spiritualized, and Nico, they'll conjure a particular atmosphere: organ-drone, slide guitar, reverb, melody, drum machine on bossa nova. Hopefully it'll be foggy in Winooski that night - expect a lush, experiential show. 

Papercuts (MySpace) is the mastermind of Jason Quever, a Californian who has collaborated with the likes of Cass McCombs and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. His album Can't Go Back (Gnomonsong) is a masterful complexity of pop hooks, rich textures, and his own distinctive croon.

Local opener and Beach House labelmate Greg Davis will start things off with a heady drone session.

$6 advanced at Battery Street Jeans, The Monkey House, Pure Pop Records or
$8/$10 day of show

Monday, March 24, 2008

Readability Level

I have no idea what criteria this Blog Readability Test uses to create its scores but I'm guessing it just looks for specific words and sees what level of reading those words correspond to. I doubt it considers the significance of such nuanced arguments such as "The World Fastest Drummers are lame". It's probably just a simple database thingy.

Regardless, here's a rundown of the level at which you need to be reading to understand various Vermont blogs (and "Vermont associated blogs") (check out the big brain on JB...genius!):


The Le Duo

College (Post Grad)

Burlington Music Journal

College (Undergrad)

Montpelier Matters
Spitting Out Teeth
Pages Within

High School

Brent's Notebook
Found Drama
Green Mountain Daily
Vermont Daily Briefing

Junior High School

A Cold Sweat
Bradley's Almanac
Kingdom for a Voice
Solid State
Stuck in VT
Terrapin Gardens
The Contrarian
Transistor Blast
What I Saw Today

Elementary School

Analog Giant
Angioplasty Media
Eat More Kale
The Oyster Guide

X-Press 2 with Kurt Wagner

Want to know who deserves more than one sentence on his Wikipedia page? Kurt Wagner.

As the lead singer and songwriter for the Nashville country-soul ensemble Lambchop, the guy has put together a collection of songs that rival any contemporaries in quality and quantity (don't argue with me on this one; I'm very touchy when anyone questions Lambchop's supreme greatness). Additionally, he has a distinctive voice and vocal style where he's able to simultaneously sound like a country bubba and art school VU-lover.

Well, the DJs behind the British electronica group X-Press 2 seem to love Kurt Wagner also since they asked him to lend his vocals to their beat creation "Give It Up" on their 2007 album Makeshift Feelgood. I give them credit for seeing Wagner's voice as one that would work with dance music and I tip my hat to Wagner for pulling it off.

Now I want to hear an entire Lambchop dance album.

X-Press 2 (feat. Kurt Wagner) | Give It Up | Buy

X-Press 2 (feat. Kurt Wagner) | Give It Up (Full Club Version) | Buy

photo courtesy of personanongrata

Vermont Ski Museum

Earlier this month, while looking for something to do with the kids, we wound up hitting the Vermont Ski Museum in Stowe for a looksie. I had heard about the place but never been there before and was unsure what it included.

In general, it was a nice collection of the history of skiing in Vermont from old equipment and photos to movies about Vermont ski areas to a large rotating display of various chair lifts suspended from the ceiling. However, two things really jumped out at me.

The first was this manikin in one of the chairlifts rotating overhead. Sweet Jesus. That's one of the creepiest things I've seen in a museum since the pygmy exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. I'm not sure if it's the fur coat, the ski mask, clamped knees or the angle of its head but I haven't slept well since visiting the thing.

The other thing that got my attention is this trophy that used to be awarded to the winner of the giant slalom at the Jay Peak International back in the 60's. Now, that's a trophy! The whole thing is carved from a single piece of wood. If I ever won something worthy of a trophy, I'd want to receive something like that much more than some crappy metal bowl, platter or cup. This thing has class.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Review | Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten

I'm back. After falling to pneumonia for a while, my computer became infected with its own spyware shitstorm and had to go into the shop for a while. Plus, my hard drive was maxed out. So, I had both problems solved over the last week and, hopefully, I'll be posting more regularly again.

On Friday night, I caught the late showing of the rock doc Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten at the Green Mountain Film Festival. Here are a few thoughts on the night:

☺ The theater wasn't sold out but there weren't many empty seats either. I'm guessing it was 90%-95% full. Nice turnout considering there was a documentary about legalizing pot being shown across the street at the same time. In VT, when given a choice between pot activism and punk rock, most Vermonters awake at 10:30 will choose the pot discussion. So, a near sell-out was encouraging.

♥ There was a guy there with gray hair sporting an old Clash concert t-shirt. Nice.

♦ As mentioned in one of the comments yesterday, False 45th got a nice plug at the beginning of the movie. I doubt it had much of an impact on traffic but it was nice to hear the site mentioned in that setting. And a few new readers is always nice.

♣ As for the movie itself, I learned a few things about Strummer that I hadn't heard before. I never knew his older brother, David, killed himself while Joe was still in prep school and Joe had to ID the body since his parents weren't in the country. Plus, David had gotten heavily into the National Front movement shortly before his death. The film didn't make any direct statements about the impact those events had on Joe but it leaves you to wonder how much of Joe's politics came out of those frightening experiences.

I also didn't realize what a hippie Strummer had been. For a period in the early 1970's, he lived as a squatter with a bunch of other folks in some abandoned buildings. During that time, he even went by the name Woody in honor to Woody Guthrie. One cool part of the film during this period was the old footage they dug up of his pre-Clash band The 101'ers. In the film, the band was described as a "hippie band" but they sounded more like a garage band than something psychedelic.

The 101'ers | Keys to Your Heart | Buy

♠ In general, rock docs about one of your favorite bands fall into the category with pizza and sex as things that are good even when they are bad. So, overall, I enjoyed the film. However, I do have some problems with the film. My three complaints are the length, archival footage and celebrity interviews.

The length was too long. It clocked in about two hours which is long for a documentary and this one could have been edited down to perhaps and hour and half. It dragged for a while during Strummer's "wilderness years" between the end of The Clash and his work with The Mescaleros. During this stretch of the film, I noticed a lot of people's heads tipping to the side to get a bit of rest.

I love old previously unseen film footage and photos. It's one of the things that makes a documentary special. However, I felt that the producers of the documentary were being a bit lazy at times. When the film was discussing his years in a boarding school, they didn't seem to have any images from that period of his life. So, they just showed us black & white footage of some other random prep school. I would have preferred seeing current pictures of the actual school or just watching the people who were being interviewed at that moment. It was similar to his "hippie period" where they showed lots of photos of various London hippies but they didn't seem to dig up very many of Joe or his friends.

Lastly, what's the value of having Johnny Depp, John Cusack and Steve Buscemi coming on screen to tell us that Joe Strummer and The Clash were really good? Of course they were good. That's why we're all sitting in the friggin' theater. Was the issue in doubt and only someone who has attained fame was able to accurately judge the matter? I liked the interviews with the people who grew up with him, were in The 101'ers with him, managed The Clash, etc. However, I really didn't need Steve Buscemi going, "Yeh, I saw them in New York and I really liked the show."

At least when they interviewed Bono, he pointed out how, when The Clash first played in Dublin, the band had a backdrop photo of London police officers clubbing protesters. However, the Dublin kids saw the pictures as examples of events in Belfast and took to the band for that reason. That anecdote actually adds to the overall discussion of the band's popularity; unlike Buscemi's banal insight.

☻ Regardless, it was a good way to kick off the film festival. Now, I'll get back to posting trailers of other upcoming festival films. Many shows are sold out at this point so I'll try to stick to the ones that still have tickets available.

King Corn

* Monday, March 24 4:00 pm
* Tuesday, March 25 8:30 pm SOLD OUT
* Saturday, March 29 6:30 pm SOLD OUT

The Violin

* Monday, March 24 6:30 pm SOLD OUT
* Tuesday, March 25 2:00 pm

It's a Free World...

* Monday, March 24 4:15 pm
* Tuesday, March 25 12:00 pm
* Saturday, March 29 12:00 pm


Maple sugaring season is in high gear. This is a shot from today's trip to Morse Farm. The steam coming off the evaporator is so deliciously sweet smelling.

The Dodos

Do you like the whole communal lo-fi "freak folk" stuff that's swirling around these days, ala Akron/Family and Yeasayer? Might I suggest The Dodos (MySpace). A San Francisco duo that hit a bit mellower then A/F, but insert plenty of heavy bleeding heart lyrics, blues based, finger picking, hard strumming, and tastes of african drumming into the mix. Here's a pretty darn good description from the Houston Press: 

San Francisco-based singer/guitarist of psych-folk-pop duo Dodos hones the callings of free-spirited, unhinged acts like Animal Collective, the music he makes with drummer Logan Kroeber embodies a spirit of its own. Long's light, ephemeral finger play on the acoustic guitar is fast, warm and focused, resonating under his refined lyrical hopscotch... Add Kroeber's stomping tom-and-tambourine backbeat, which recalls the Velvet Underground's Moe Tucker, and that amounts to one shit-kicking good time.

No matter the written word, I've really been digging their second full length, Visiter (released on 3/18). Their label, Frenchkiss Records, has the whole thing up for stream. Another way to get a taste is via their recent Daytrotter performance. Check'em on April 8th at Montreal's Le Divan Orange.

The Dodos | Jodi | Buy

The Dodos | Red and Purple | Buy

The Dodos | Walking | Buy

Saturday, March 22, 2008

YouTube Video of the Week

High Power Job is 3:10 minutes of pure beauty. This is a section on electrical high voltage repair from the 2002 IMAX film entitled Straight Up. Absolutely fascinating.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Whale of a Ring

I am constantly amazed at how embarrassingly awful peoples cell phone rings can be. Nothing like being at a meeting and the most unsuspecting person has some treble loving hyper disco tone shouting at the group. For those who don't know, or don't care for, vibrate here's something different. Developed by the Center for Biological Diversity, RareEarthtones a collection of 100 or so downloadable ringtones of endangered species. Completely free, the ringtones bring some of the world’s most threatened birds, owls, frogs, toads and marine mammals right into your pocket! This is far from inconspicuous, but isn't the sound of a Common Loon a better way to interrupt a movie then Helloooo Moto?

I'm rocking the Beluga, which isn't too terribly obnoxious.

Here are a handful to check out (many more here). You may want to steer clear of the Grizzly, unless you want to be the most unpopular person in the elevator. Oh, and Cory's Shearwater is just ridiculous sounding.

Tawney-browed Owl

Swainson's Hawk

Humpback Whale

Grizzly Bear


Crawfish Frog

Cory's Shearwater


Beluga Whale

American Pika

One thing to notice, the download, free sign-up of Myxer, etc. took a few minutes, but it wasn't too painful. Let's hope that I don't get too much junk in my inbox.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Green Mountain Film Festival | Seven Days Away

The word on the street is that tickets for the Green Mountain Film Festival are going fast. I stopped by the office today to buy some tickets and learned that advance ticket sales are 100% ahead of where they were last year at this point. Here's the kicker...last year was a record year for ticket sales. So, the point is that if you plan on seeing any of the movies, I'd act sooner than later.

Also, the Mar 22 showing of I'm Not There is already almost sold out.

It's now too late for mail orders but starting Monday you order tickets over the phone. Additionally, tickets can be bought at the festival's office over the Savoy Theater on Main St. starting on Monday. All the ticket info is here.

Here's a few trailers for tonight.

Two Square Miles

* Saturday, March 22 4:30 pm
* Sunday, March 23 12:15 pm

Das Fräulein

* Saturday, March 22 4:45 pm
* Sunday, March 23 12:15 pm
* Wednesday, March 26 2:15 pm

Super Amigos

* Saturday, March 22 8:45 pm
* Wednesday, March 26 4:00 pm

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Green Mountain Film Festival | Eight Days Away

Next Friday, the Green Mountain Film Festival kicks off. It'll then run until March 30. If you like movies, it's a good time to be in Montpelier.

The first big event of the festival will be the 10:30pm showing of the documentary, Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten. False 45th is a Community Partner for this film (along with the band The Limes) which I'm excited about because I like The Clash and I like late night movies that rock.

Here's the trailer:

* Friday, March 21 10:30 pm
* Wednesday, March 26 4:00 pm

The Clash | White Riot | Buy

So, leading up to the festival, each day I'm going to post a few trailers from films featured at the festival. I haven't seen any of the movies on this year's schedule, so this will be largely a random sampling; no particular order.

Blame It On Fidel

* Friday, March 21 6:00 pm
* Sunday, March 23 8:45 pm
* Thursday, March 27 12:00 pm
* Sunday, March 30 6:30 pm

Note By Note: The Making of a Steinway

* Friday, March 21 6:00 pm
* Saturday, March 22 2:15 pm
* Monday, March 24 2:00 pm

The Union: The Business Behind Getting High

* Friday, March 21 10:30 pm
* Wednesday, March 26 8:45 pm
* Thursday, March 27 4:00 pm

King of Prussia

Could there be a more appropriate song for the next six weeks leading up to the Apr 22 Pennsylvania primary than "Misadventures of the Campaign Kids" by King of Prussia? While they hail from Athens, GA, they are named after the shithole town in PA. Plus, the song has a few anti-war lyrics thrown in to complete the connection to current events.

King of Prussia | Misadventures of the Campaign Kids | Buy

The Smittens | Parima | Mar 14

Here are the details:
Where: Parima - 185 Pearl St, Burlington, VT (802) 864-7917
When: 9:30pm, Friday March 14th 2008
Who: Missy Bly and the Smittens
Cost: Free
You: Dancing

Also, if you are down in Boston, on Saturday night, Dana and Colin from The Smittens will be playing Great Scott as their side project Let's Whisper.

Federico Aubele

OK. How's this for a buzz-generating sentence?

Federico Aubele is an Argentine musician, now living in Barcelona via Berlin, that mixes various Latin sounds with trip hop beats and a downtempo lounge feel courtesy of Thievery Corp's Eric Hilton (producer).

Dylanesque photo...check.
Cool name...check.
Cool locales...check.
Genre bending inference...check
Connection to cool established artist...check.

I can feel the buzz already for the guy. Even better, you can feel his music when he sets up shop at Webster Hall on Mar 26.

And if you aren't paying NYC taxes, here's the full list of tour dates.

Mar 24 9:30 Club DC, Washington
Mar 25 Trocadero Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mar 26 Webster Hall NY, New York
Mar 27 Somerville Theatre Somerville, Massachusetts
Mar 29 Club Soda Montreal, Quebec
Mar 30 Opera House Toronto, Ontario
Apr 1 Park West Chicago, Illinois
Apr 2 First Avenue Minneapolis, Minnesota
Apr 4 Gothic Theatre Denver, Colorado
Apr 4 Gothic Theatre Denver, Colorado
Apr 5 Belly Up Aspen Aspen, Colorado
Apr 8 Commodore Ballroom Vancouver, British Columbia
Apr 9 Showbox at the Market Seattle, Washington
Apr 11 The Fillmore San Francisco, California
Apr 12 4th & B San Diego, California
Apr 13 Henry Fonda Theatre Los Angeles, California

What's up with two nights in Denver and then another in Aspen? Some promoter out there must love the guy even more than me.

Federico Aubele | En Cada Lugar | Buy

Federico Aubele | Maria Jose | Buy

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Review: Bon Iver & Black Mountain | 2.29.07 | Montreal

Prior to this night I had written that not many concerts are worthy of a 5 hr drive through a snow storm. This one may not of been that extreme, but it was definitely worth the 3.5 hr early morning drive through occasional white-out conditions (which includes an extra 20 minutes going the wrong way in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, QC at 2 am). But I'm getting in front of myself. Flatlander and I knew of an ensuing storm, but decided to head north with the understanding that we'd leave the venue at 12:30 am no matter what (storm was supposed to roll in around 1 am. Our thought was that we'd at least be on the front end of it. Little did we know...).

Flatlander and I have apparently started a pre-concert sushi eating tradition. Four times now I've had a meal at Isakaya Bistro and have yet to be disappointed. The piles of Banzai and Kamikaze maki were out of this world.

We rolled up the far end of St-Laurent until we spotted the nearly hidden La Sala Rossa. Luckily we walked in just as Quest for Fire's set started. Neither of us had heard of the recently formed Toronto group (made up of a bunch of veterans - ex-Deadly Snakes, Nordic Nomadic, etc.), but we were pleasantly surprised. The four piece plays that psychedelic-meets-Sabbath style stoner rock sound. Long hair, shoegazing, big guitars, thumping beats, and loud as hell. I'm looking forward to their debut, scheduled for spring on Montreal's Storyboard Label.

In between the sets I came to look around the room and started to really dig the space. It has an 250 person capacity and with a width larger then length. Bathed in red velvet, it's a historic 2nd floor venue (see fire code disaster) that originally served as a community/political center for the left-wing Jewish community. My mind came back into focus as Bon Iver took the stage.

I had the fortune of seeing Bon Iver, aka Justin Vernon, open up for Elvis Perkins at Higher Ground at the end of November. I had previously fallen in love with his, at that time, hard to find debut, For Emma, Forever Ago (re-released on 2.19.08). It's a modern folk masterpiece, filled with ghostly falsettos and sincerity. The HG show was everything I expected; the lone man in the dark singing his heart out, surrounded by amazing guitars (he plays a 20's National Dobro for the bring-the-house -down Skinny Love) and an occasional kick drum. Despite the basic instrumentation, his presence was full and strong and true to the album.

Fast forward to Montreal. Vernon came on stage as a three piece. During this show Vernon's lyrics were just as intimate, but they were contrasted and enhanced by the large swirling sounds of the other two members. The end result was a Akron/Family-esque performance, albeit tamer - larger, louder, messier, but with three part harmonies cutting through the mayhem to bring perfect clarity. During "Wolves (Part I and II)" their were even drums falling to the floor under flying sticks and Vernon was uncontrollably standing up from his seat, strumming his clenched acoustic, veins popping out of his neck Henry Rollins style. It was as if Bon Iver (phonically: bohn eevair) had grown up before my eyes - transitioned from a toddler to a tree climber in a mere three months.

Here is a minute or so of Blindsided, which illustrates the spectrum.

Black Mountain came out in all their rock star glory. Huge fat rock guitars, McBean's long goatee, keyboardist's Sunn o))) t-shirt, smoke, prog lights - the whole package. The show started with the In The Future opener "Stormy High" with Steve McBean playing perfect riffs to Amber Webber's howls.

I hadn't noticed how prevalent Webber was on the album, but live she is front and center. She has a massively haunting Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane) sound that plays perfect to the heavy prog-psychedelic-stoner sound. I had heard that their live shows could be sloppy, but this show, including their 19 minute closer ("Bright Lights"), was nearly as tight as Fragile.

We headed down the stairs as the second encore came to a close, exactly at 12:30 am. What we weren't expecting was this:

Despite getting schooled at the boarder for not bringing my birth certificate along with my licensee (wtf?), we finished the grueling white knuckle drive by 4:15 am. I laid in bed satisfied, happy, and not the least cursing the drive.

And if you haven't checked these acts out during the tour, then I suggest heading over to NPR's excellent All Songs Considered and stream their 2/19/08 show from Washington DC's Rock and Roll Hotel.

Quest for Fire | Hawk that Hunts the Walking

Bon Iver | The Wolves (Part I and II) | Buy

Black Mountain | Stormy High | Buy

Thursday, March 06, 2008


I'm sorry about the long delay between posts. I came down with a bad cough and mild fever last week and was finally diagnosed with pneumonia this week. So, I've been trying to shake it by getting lots of sleep which has led to no posts from me for the last two weeks. I'm starting to feel better and will get back into the swing of things soon. However, in the meantime, it's jds' show.

Despite feeling like crap, jds and I did hit the Black Mountain show last Friday. Good show and we'll both write more about it later.