Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Smittens | The Coolest Thing About Love

Reason #487 Why I'm a Sucky Blogger: The Smittens' The Coolest Thing About Love came out a month ago and I've yet to post about it. I even got a copy of it a few weeks prior to its release which gave me plenty of time to fall in love with it and I still failed to sing its praises.

Here's why this is such a mistake...this is a blog about VT music and it's one of the best releases by a VT band this year. In fact, I should have ignored the VT qualifier. It's just a good album and a must for any lover of twee and pop.

The blogosphere went gaga earlier this year for fellow popsters Magnetic Fields' Distortion. However, I'd contend that if you loved Magnetic Fields' earlier work, you'd prefer The Coolest Thing About Love to Distortion. It's truer to the genre of fun bubbly pop melodies with an undercurrent of meloncholy lyrics. Distortion is an interesting diversion to MF's sound. However, The Smittens' new LP will keep your head bopping and heels swinging a lot longer.

The Smittens | The Interstate | Buy

The Smittens | One Hundred Roses | Buy

By the way, here is a live performance of "One Hundred Roses" from a show last year at The Firehouse Gallery.

Yearbook Yourself

If you haven't played around with Yearbook Yourself, give it a whirl. Stupid silly fun.

Basically, you upload a picture of yourself, or in this case Bonnie Prince Billy, and then the software shows you what you might have looked like in a yearbook book photo from various years going back to the early 50's.

Bonnie Prince Billy almost resembles Richard Branson in his 1956 yearbook photo. And the "butt cut" from '88 makes his cheeks look even more "squirrel-like" than usual.

Speaking of the Prince, if you haven't picked up his latest studio album Lie Down in the Light, stop reading this stupid blog and go get it. So beautiful.

Bonnie Prince Billy | Easy Does It | Buy

Apples to iPods Contest

Same contest as last year. Go apple picking in one of VT's 24 orchards, find a wooden apple and you win an iPod Nano, Shuffle or Touch from Small Dog Electronics. It's that easy. And in a worst case scenario, you go home with a bunch of fresh apples.

We gave it a try this weekend at Liberty Orchard in Brookfield. You can find a list of all the participating orchards here.

The lady at the gate said that the wooden apples are not painted and are brown. I looked while picking but all I saw was real apples.

No luck. However, as I said above, we still took home a bushel of sweet crisp apples. Now we just have to find a bunch of recipes for apple dishes. How does apple jelly sound?

Oh, and the other upside is getting to spend an hour wandering around a picturesque landscape on a sunny fall afternoon. The iPod is completely unnecessary for it to be a good day.

One last note about apples. The honeycrisp apples are now at the farmer's market. Just a freakishly good apple. The best.

Ruben's Tube

I know this would seem to be crazy dangerous following the disaster at The Station in RI five years ago. However, I would love to see a band bring this out on tour in some sort of safe controlled manner. It would be cool to watch throughout a show.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Dodos | Coming to Dartmouth | Oct 3

Existing in the gap between Americana and freak folk, The Dodos are palatable for people who are bored with the graybeards in the coffee shop and befuddled by Animal Collective. Or in other words, me.

jds introduced me to their album Visiter [sic] earlier this year and I've enjoyed it each time I've played it. It doesn't blow me away but whenever I hit play, it makes me wonder why I don't listen to it more often.

Next month, the San Francisco duo will be playing at the Fuel Rocket Club at Dartmouth College. The show is on Fri Oct 3. In the past, we've been told that shows at Dartmouth are not open to non-students. However, I went to see Parts & Labor there last spring and nobody said boo to me. The only thing I'd caution about is the start times. Things are relaxed at the club so while they say things get going around 10pm, expect to hear music closer to 11pm. Once again, the upside is that the shows there are free. Zero bucks to hear a band like The Dodos is always a good deal.

The Dodos | Joe's Waltz | Buy

The Dodos | Jodi | Buy

photo courtesy of Leia Jospe

Anarchist Candy

As if the world needs further proof that VT is a bit different, Saturday saw the grand opening of a new pair of stores in downtown Montpelier. The old location of Paseo Shoes is now occupied by the unique combination of Black Sheep Books and Delish. That's right...you now have one stop shopping for your anarchist books and gummy bears.

All oddities aside, we stopped by Delish this weekend and enjoyed it. There's a nice selection of candy (including the VT requisite organic candies) and it seemed fairly priced. In fact, I was expecting to pay more than what our final bill came to. They still have some space to fill in with more bulk candy and they need a counter; the scale was balanced unstably upon the curved top of the glass case which may be why our cost came in lower than expected. However, it's nice to have a place in town to grab some treats. We've been missing that ever since the Country Store closed four years ago.

Speaking of candy stores, we were recently in NYC and got to check out Economy Candy down on Rivington St. Extrawack! had tipped me off to the place and it was the perfect antidote to the upscale uptown Dylan's Candy Bar. For all the fanciness of Dylan's, Economy Candy comes hard with it's no-frills approach. Just a huge selection of candy piled up everywhere; warehouse style. It feels downtown. Plus, it's cheaper. The kids say they still prefer Dylan's but kids are always drawn to flash.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Kadane Bros + Bottomless Pit | Le Divan Orange | Jul 13

I've been a crappy blogger this summer. Pretty much checked out all summer. I'm going to try to get back into it but I'm not making any promises that it'll take.

One of the posts that I started two months ago but never finished was this one about The Kadane Brothers and Bottomless Pit at Le Divan Orange in Montreal on Jul 13.

Here's the skinny...good music...crappy club.

Heavy rain for most of the drive which stinks when you're flying solo.

At least the rain yielded to a cool sky as I was approaching Montreal.

I had some time to kill before the show. So, I wandered around the neighborhood and snapped this cool picture of the post-storm vapors rising against the hillside.

The reason I had time to kill was that Le Divan Orange listed the starting time for the show as 9:30 with no opening band. However, when I arrived at the empty club around 9pm, I was told by the bartender that shows at Le Divan Orange generally don't start until 11pm and that there would be an opening band. Shit. Why the hell do they post completely wrong info on their site? Are they too cool to post accurate info? Do they think that we all live such carefree lives that the showtime on a Sunday night doesn't matter?

Whatever, I had a bunch of time to kill. So, I drank a few beers, read the paper, talked to some folks and listened to the soundchecks.

The opening band was some completely forgettable band. I don't mean that I've forgotten who they were to months after the show. I mean that I had forgotten their name before I had reach the US border.

One thing that popped in my head was the band's use of cello and a violin. I guess if you're a band from Montreal these days, you think you're going to get noticed by replicating Arcade Fire. Not even close.

Matt and Bubba Kadane came out and played a bunch of songs off their new self-titled album (I'll try to post a review of it later this week...in short, it's a goody) and some earlier gems such as "Gasoline" and "End's Not Near".

I'm always impressed when a song can be stripped down to a minimum of instruments (in this case, just two guitars) and the songs are still enjoyable. Well built tunes.

The transition from the Kadanes to Bottomless Pit was one of the slickest I've ever seen. The Kadanes finished their song with a long tune which was slowly filled out by members of Bottomless Pit as the band members slowly came on stage to join the song. The song then transitioned into a Bottomless Pit song as Matt and Bubba unplugged and left the stage. Bottomless Pit then just went right along with their set. More bands should find ways to do this. It keeps the show going and is interesting to watch...much more interesting than watching roadies change the stage over.

Bottomless Pit sounded good. The bonus of hearing their soundcheck was that I got to hear "Dogtags" twice in one night. However, I think the highlight of the set for me was "Reposession" which is good on the album but fantastic live.

The big problem of the night was Le Divan Orange. In addition to the mistake on their website, it's a miserable place to watch a show. They have an oven behind the bar (not a toaster oven but a full kitchen oven) which they use to cook and reheat food. So, that thing is cranking out heat all night and there isn't any air conditioning. Well, as the sweat began to build, the employees of the club hung big industrial fans on the wall. However, unless you were standing right in front of them, they didn't cut your sweat runs. Plus, they made a loud humming sound which drowned out the quieter, more subtle moment of the Kadane Brothers set. Such a disappointment of a club. They seem to be making an effort to bring in lots of good acts but unless they get their website and climate straightened out, it's all a waste of effort on their part.

The New Year (Kadane brothers band) start touring later this week. Here are their dates:

9/18 - Granada Theatre - Dallas, TX
9/19 - Rudyards - Houston, TX
9/20 - Emo's Alternative Lounge - Austin, TX
9/22 - Launchpad - Albuquerque, NM
9/23 - Modified - Phoenix, AZ
9/24 - The Echo - Los Angeles, CA
9/25 - Bottom of the Hill - San Francisco, CA
9/26 - Doug Fir Lounge - Portland, OR
9/27 - Sunset Tavern - Seattle, WA
9/29 - Larimer Lounge - Denver, CO

10/9 - Johnny Brenda's - Philadelphia, PA
10/10 - Music Hall of Williamsburg - Brooklyn, NY
10/11 - The Middle East - Boston, MA
10/12 - The Livingroom - Providence, RI
10/13 - Club Metronome - Burlington, VT <--- Can't miss show (with Capstan Shafts)
10/14 - Le Divan Orange - Montreal, QC
10/15 - Lee's Palace - Toronto, ON
10/16 - The Pike Room - Pontiac, MI
10/17 - Empty Bottle - Chicago, IL
10/18 - Maintenance Shop - Ames, IA
10/19 - High Dive - Champaign, IL
10/20 - Grog Shop - Cleveland, OH
10/21 - DC9 - Washington, DC

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Bought Stowe Resort Tonight...and I Now Sponsor Manchester United...Damn!

According to the NY Times tonight, the federal government has taken an 80% stake in AIG in exchange for an $85 billion dollar bailout. That means that since AIG owns Stowe Mountain Resort, we are now all the proud owners of the big hill. Where's my friggin' free pass!

Plus, it now means that I am a sponsor of Manchester United. Sweet Jesus! This deal sucks.

Q: How do you know someone isn't from Manchester?
A: They root for Manchester United.

Q: How many Manchester United fans does it take to change a light bulb?
A: 560,001. That is 1 to change it, 60,000 to say they've been changing it for years and 500,000 to buy the replica kit.

Q: What's the difference between Alex Ferguson and God?
A: God doesn't think he's Alex Ferguson.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pop Montreal | October 1-5

Pop Montreal is far and away the biggest indie music/industry festival within a days drive from Vermont (2.25 hrs from Montpelier). The lineup and events don't quite compare to Austin's South By Southwest and NYC's CMJ Music Marathon, but it is never far behind. In some ways it is much, much better, given that it is a waaay better City, the acts are a bit more interesting and usually less discovered, and the weather is great (there's nothing like 40 degree nights).

Here's a handful of groups that'll be at Pop Montreal's 7th edition:
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Wire, Hot Chip, Dan Deacon, The Sainte Catherines, Beach House, Chocolat, Silver Apples, The Dodos, Crystal Castles, Julie Doiron, The Wedding Present, Vetiver, The Dodos, Black Kids, Jana Hunter, Cex, Evangelicals, Liam Finn, The Veils, Great Lake Swimmers, Jason Collett, You Say Party! We Say Die!, Irma Thomas, Chad VanGaalen, Dark Meat, Headlights, and Burt Bacharach.

Individual tickets for shows are starting to sell out (Ratatat and Nick Cave tickets are history), so you better get on it. The platinum "Industry Passes" can get you into these "sold out" shows, but it'll set ya back $225 bucks.

iTunes Survey #2

Flatlander did the following iTunes survey in February '06. I didn't have an iPod or even iTunes at that time. I'm finally up to speed (I joined the Apple revolution about a year ago) and am putting my hat in the ring.

How many songs: 5,336

Sort by song
First Song: "A-Punk" - Vampire Weekend
Last Song: “Zoothorns” - HEALTH

Sort by time
Shortest Song: “Here Come the ABC's” (0:11) - They Might Be Giants
Longest Song: “Confusion” (25:37) - Fela Kuti
(not including podcasts or speeches)

Sort by artist
First Artist: A.C. Newman
Last Artist: Zeigeist

Sort by album
First Album: À Coeur Léger Sommeil Sanglant - Destroy All Dreamers
Last Album: Ys - Joanna Newsom

Top Three Most Played Songs:
1. “Just A Boy” - Angus & Julia Stone (18 times)
2. “Only as the Day Is Long” - Sera Cahoone (18 times)
3. “Heard Them Stirring” - Fleet Foxes (15 times)

First song that comes up on Shuffle:
“Pedestal” by Portishead

Search ….
“sex”, how many songs come up? 19
“death”, how many songs come up? 36
“love”, how many songs come up? 208
“you”, how many songs come up? 538

Angus & Julia Stone | Just a Boy | Buy

Top VT Craigslisting of the Night

Wheelbarrow - $100 (Marshfield)Wheelbarrow slightly used. Frame bent, tire flat, body has holes, one good handle.

This is freaking amazing. I can't believe someone is trying to trade this for a benjamin. Awesome.

Sera Cahoone | You're Not Broken | Buy

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Miracle Fortress + Ryan Power | Sept. 12 | Burlington

Tick Tick has another sweet show set for this week. I'm going to try everything I can to get to this one. Friday for me is shaping up like this: Vespa to a full day in the office -> fried dough, ferris wheel ride, and horse pulls at the 137th Tunbridge World's Fair -> cruise back across the state to catch the magnificent Miracle Fortress. It'll be full, but totally worth it.

5 Roses, by Montreal's Miracle Fortress, was my 2007 "headphones album of the year." It is a sweet, succulent, and complex  album that hits the Brian Wilson Pet Sounds sound better then most Elephant 6 bands. Song by song it is good, but the album as a whole rewards those that relax and hear it in full. Miracle Fortress will follow local hero Ryan Power. Here are the specifics and bio:

Miracle Fortress + Ryan Power | Sept. 12 | 5th Element (bottom of Battery St) | Burlington

Show starts at 9 pm
$5-10 donation at the door

Blending dreamy, atmospheric noise pop with Brian Wilson-style psychedelia, Miracle Fortress formed in 2005 as the solo project of Think About Life's Graham Van Pelt. He self-released Miracle Fortress' first EP, Watery Grave, that year, and went on to release his debut full-length, Five Roses, two years later. Adam Waito (Telefauna), Jessie Stein (SS Cardiac), and Jordan Robson-Cramer rounded out the lineup for the project's live show.

Miracle Fortress | Maybe Lately  | Buy

Miracle Fortress | Have You Seen in Your Dreams | Buy

False 45th ♥s Record Club

We want to type a quick thank you to the 30+ folks who partied with us at the second False 45th Record Club. It was a smashing success. The track list will be posted soon, chock full of mp3s.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Pontiak + Arbouretum | Sept. 10 | Burlington

Burlington music promotion heroes Tick Tick are starting this new school year white hot. On Wed., Sept. 10th they are bringing a combo of heavy stoner riffs and acoustic ballads with Thrill Jockey label mates Pontiak and Arbouretum.

[294 North Winooski Avenue, Burlington]

Pontiak is a trio of brothers from the Old Dominion State making heavy and expansive sounds "straddling a wide sonic rift valley, with references that stretch from the southern latitudes of Spain's Viaje A800 to the northern majesty of Black Sabbath and Harvey Milk via the Doors." Their second full length, Sun on Sun, is getting the Thrill Jockey treatment on the 9th (previously limited release via their own Fireproof Records in 2007).

Arbouretum is the work of Baltimore's Dave Heumann, formerly a player in Anomoanon, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Cass McCombs, & Papa M. Arbouretum utilizing the "basic structure of folk-affected rock songs to paint broad landscapes with literary allusions, loner ballads, fuzzy bass and acid drenched guitar solos." Think Palace Music and Neil Young.

Both groups recently released a 7-song LP-only split EP called Kale. It includes both originals and John Cale covers, including classics Buffalo Ballet and Mr. Wilson.

Here's a review of a killer show from these two earlier in the tour.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Most Incredibly Lifelike Baby Monkey Ever!

I'm always amazed by the crap that is sold in magazines like "Good Housekeeping." This one, though, takes the cake. Who the heck wants a miniature monkey in a "sweetheart" shirt? For 5 payments of $27.99?!!? Sure, it's "a masterpiece of amazing realism," but freaking out overnight guests with Little Umi tucked into their bed sheets isn't worth 140 bucks. Or maybe it is. Hmmmm.

Beastie Boys | Brass Monkey | Buy

False 45th Record Club in 6 Days!

The second installment of the False 45th Record Club will take place on Tuesday, September 9th at the Black Door in Montpelier. Our first go-around in June was wildly successful and, taking a look at the submissions thus far, we expect nothing less for our second run. Song submissions are due Sunday, September 7th, so get them in.

Oh, and here are two songs that I'm not going to submit:

Full details here:

It's back!

A couple of months have passed since June's record club and it's time for the next one. This one will be on Tuesday, Sep 9. Everything else is the same deal.

If you'd like to participate, email me two songs you'd like to share by Sunday, Sep 7. The same rules apply regarding the selection of songs.

If this is the first time you've heard of the False 45th Record Club, then you can read about the concept here. The song list from the last one is here.

Here are the details:

When: Tuesday, Sep 3 @ 8pm

Where: The Black Door in Montpelier

Who: Anyone. If people don't want to submit songs but just want to hang out for the night, please do. Bring whoever your want.

What: Send us TWO songs.

Song Rules:

(1) Every genre and time period is fair game. You have some kick-ass polka you'd like to share? Let's play it.

(2) The two songs must be from different artists and different albums. The emphasis is on variety.

(3) The songs have to be eight minutes or less. We won't have enough time to get through everyone's songs if someone drops a twenty minute Godspeed You Black Emperor track on us.

(4) They can't be from your own band. We don't want people using this as an opportunity to just pimp their own bands.

(5) Send us your songs by Sep 7 so we have time to burn the CDs.

Suggestion: Keep in mind that your songs will be playing in a bar. Therefore, a quiet atmospheric piece may not be heard over the din of chatter and beer glasses. It'll need a little volume to be noticed.

Send your songs to False45thRecordClub@gmail.com

There are two updates since the last club meeting:

(1) Someone has offered to correct the equalizer for each song as the playlist progresses over the night. That should help with some of the songs being too bassy, low, etc.

(2) I spoke to The Black Door about doing a drink special on beer that night. They seemed to be cool about it. They said they'd talk about it and let me know. So, hopefully, we'll have some cheaper beers this time.