Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Snowfall records are being shattered around here this winter. I can almost set my clock to 8+ inches of snow every 5 days. Yesterday we received another 12+ inches and the forecast is showing 100% chance of snowfall for Friday night through Saturday. The geek in me loves this stuff. My grandfather was a weather nut - after he died we found years upon years of weather calendars. I remember visits as a kid when he would run around tracking the temperature differential between each side of his single wide. I'm not that crazy, but I do appreciate recognizing the extremes.
Snowfall total information can be hard to locate online. However, I recently came across the National Weather Service Forcast Office's handy online NOWData Center. The online tool provides all sorts of stats for all sorts of places - from record snow totals to heating degree days for Burlington, Barre, Tupper Lake, NY and all places in between. I am always impressed with the NOAA site. Their National Graphical Forecast Database is genius. This is federal tax dollars at work that I can be proud of.
Snowy winters are great for winter activities, but it makes the live music thing a bit dicey. The concert calendar on the right lists a tremendous number of amazing acts playing within approx. 2 hrs, but that's on dry roads. There aren't many concerts worthy of a 5 hr drive in a snowstorm through the windy wilds of Quebec. Flatlander and I have Bon Iver and Black Mountain on tap for tomorrow night at La Sala Rossa in Montreal. The show sold out, so I'm glad we purchased a few weeks ago. However, they may end up donated to old man winter.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Perhaps this is central to my connection to the Empire State Troopers' 6 song EP Upstate Again. The four piece plays straight forward rock with an edge and immediacy that I remember from my youth, notably 70s metal and hard-rock bands like Black Sabbath and Blue Öyster Cult. The songs are deliberate and conger up images of "pit parties" - drunken distractions from the alienation and frustration that comes with living in a forgotten mill town.
One of the most obvious elements to EST is the powerful chick singing of Kelley Murphy. A force to be reckoned with, Murphy seems to be on a tear in every song. If the band is a '71 Challenger, she's the bottle of Super 104 Octane Boost.
Given that we at F45 are primarily an indie site, I find it appropriate to share the following quote by ex-Sebadoh drummer jason Loewenstein: EST are not an indie rock band, but the rhythm section carries forward some of the best aesthetics of the harder bands that came from Chicago in the 1990s, which is paired with classic, heavy ’70s ‘highway rock’ and punk songwriting topped off with great vocals (ref).
Saturday, February 23, 2008
This is a bit of a late notice but I missed this show listing until just last night.
On Monday night, Taken By Trees, the solo project of former Concretes lead singer Victoria Bergsman, will be playing Museé Juste Pour Rire in Montreal. Geez, that place is getting a lot of shows these days. I thought it was a comedy club but they seem to be making inroads to the music scene.
Regardless, folks may also be familiar with Bergsman's sad but sultry voice from Peter Bjorn and John's 2006 hit "Young Folks" where she shared vocals with Peter Morén. Well, I guess she decided to leave The Concretes for solo aspirations and last summer released her debut album, Open Field. It's nowhere as poppy as The Concretes or "Young Folks". Hell, it isn't even as poppy as mope-masters Antony and the Johnsons which is to say it resides on the heavier side of the music spectrum. However, I don't want to give the wrong impression. The piano and drum machine song "Lost and Found" from the album has been one of my favorites over the last month or so.
Taken By Trees | Lost and Found | Buy
Taken By Trees | Sweet Child O' Mine (Guns N' Roses cover) | Buy
Here's a live performace of her song "Julia":
I see posters up around town regularly for hardcore shows at the Unitarian Church in Montpelier but have never gone before. Not my thing. However, based upon these videos, they seem more intense than what you'd expect for such a stately building in bucolic Vermont.
Friday, February 22, 2008
We should all pity the science teacher, for this is what they deal with on a daily basis. Check'm all here.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
I'm a bit up in the air about Sia. I know I'm enjoying her new album Some People Have Real Problems. However, I'm not sure why.
I've always admitted that I watch too much American Idol but now I'm wondering if the show is starting to impact my musical tastes. For some reason, I'm drawn to the Idol-like sweeping dramatic heavily orchestrated production of Sia's album which I often detest. When I listen to the album, I even find myself thinking, "This sounds like it could be on American Idol. I wonder what Randy, Paula and Simon would think of it. Oh, yeh. Randy would dig this."
Then again, perhaps I'm just being sucked in by the smoky but smooth and soulful voice of the former Zero 7 singer. Either way, her album is doing it for me these days. I'm just a bit worried about why.
Sia will be performing at Les Saints in Montreal on Mar 4. While I'd like to see that show, it's unlikely I'll go though because 1) it's the night our kids get back from a week at their grandparents and I'll be eager to see them and 2) it's the night of the Vermont primary and I'll want to be around to see Obama win the state. Otherwise, I'd be in the front row swaying to the vibes.
She's also playing in Boston the following night at the Paradise but that show is sold out already.
Sia | Electric Bird | Buy
Sia | Little Black Sandals | Buy
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I'm a simpleton. I never get tired of these.
Do you have a few minutes to kill? Looking for an easy fun website to puttz around on for a while?
Well, you might want to try JacksonPollack.org and Mr. Picassohead.
The first one lets you scribble on a blank canvas like Pollack's drip technique (click your mouse to change colors). The latter one gives you a chance to make simple semi-abstract headshots like my one below which seems to be Karl Rove meets Ben Franklin meets common scary hippie Vermonster.
UPDATE: It's official. I've heard from the band. It'll be Let's Whisper.
Also, The Phoenix in Boston recently had this nifty article on The Smittens.
Someone is playing at Langdon Street Cafe on Thursday and it's either The Smittens or Let's Whisper; but I'm not sure.
The Smittens were originally scheduled to play and the band's website is still listing the date. However, Langdon Street Cafe's website is now saying that Let's Whisper will be playing in their spot; so does Let's Whisper's myspace page.
Here's the deal...Let's Whisper is a duo of Colin Clary and Dana Kaplan from The Smittens. So, my guess is that The Smittens originally booked the gig but some of the band members couldn't make it. So, Dana and Colin are filling the spot with their side project Let's Whisper; who sound a lot like a downtempo version of The Smittens. Then again, I'm talking out of my ass and really don't know who the hell is going to show up on Thursday.
Regardless, the show is at 8pm and it should be fun.
Here's the other thing going on Thursday night. Obama's Vermont campaign will be opening their Montpelier office that night with a grand opening party at 7pm. Here are the details:
Office opening: Thursday at 7 pm, 41 Elm St., Second Floor. Bring friends, kids, supplies, food to share, and a cell phone because we'll all try to make some calls while everyone's there as well.
They are also looking for people to make phone calls and canvas neighborhoods on behalf of Obama. So, if you feel like helping out, stop by the new office and ask what you can do.
The office is located above That's Life Soup which is a half-block from The Langdon Street Cafe. So, you can go to the grand opening, sign up to volunteer, walk down the street to see the show at LSC and then head back to the office to make a few post-show phone calls.
Let's Whisper | Snowy Sunday Afternoon
Sunday, February 17, 2008
This is a month and a half late because my camera's battery died before I could download this photo. However, I think it's still worth stating.
Note to the chucklehead who decorated the windows at the Shaw's in Montpelier this Christmas: Stand outside if you're going to write words on the window.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Regular readers know I make plenty of snarky comments about the names of bands. However, while repeatedly spinning my thumb in circles on my iPod while searching for something to enjoy, I recently began to wonder about the value of a band's name.
When looking for a band to play, I often get tired of spinning through the list of 1,500+ bands/artists on my iPod. That made me question whether or not I tend to settle for songs higher on the alphabetical listing more often than scrolling to the bottom of the list for just that right band to make me happy. If the world was perfect, something as silly as what letter of the alphabet a band's name started with would not matter. However, in the iPod dominated world, it does seem to matter.
Here's what I did...I pulled my iTunes song list into Excel, split the alphabetical list of artists into four equal quartiles (393 in each) and then looked at the play counts for the first quartile in relation to those of the other quartiles.
Here's what I found...the first quartile had 9,218 plays while the other three quartiles averaged 7,131 plays. That means that bands in the first quartile have been played 29.3% more often than the bands in the other quartiles. That's a big friggin' difference and would encourage bands to name themselves AAA Band; just what we need.
I then wondered if the higher play counts was simply related to the difference in the number of songs per artist in the different quartiles. So, I looked at the average number of plays per song for each quartile. I found that the songs in the first quartile averaged 3.91 plays per song while the songs in the other quartiles averaged 3.58. That means that songs from artists in the first quartile average 9.1% more plays than the ones in the other quartiles. Once again, it looks like it's better to be called Aardvark than Zuckerman.
My last thought was that perhaps the differential was being driven by some particularly popular artists in that first quartile such as The Capstan Shafts, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Bob Dylan. So, I went back to the lists of bands in each quartile and removed the top three artists (based upon play counts) from each quartile. However, the results were the same.
The total number of play counts for the top quartile was 25.6% higher than the average number of play counts in the other three quartiles. Additionally, the average number of plays per song was 12.4% higher for the first quartile.
Now, obviously, other people may be less lazy than me and more dedicated to finding the perfect band for that moment. Therefore, perhaps these results are skewed by my general prioritizing of "ease of use" over "excellent musical selection". However, I think I'm a fairly average person so I wouldn't be surprised if others found similar results within their own iTunes library. If that is the case, then bands would seem to be able to get a slight advantage in attention by giving themselves a name that falls towards the beginning of the alphabet.
In my case, don't go past the letter D since my first quartile ends with Dirty Three.
ABBC | Gilbert | Buy | 14 plays
The Zincs | Coward's Corral | Buy | 4 plays
If you travel regularly, you know how stressful it can be to figure out what's going on with your scheduled departure and arrival times. You can get info on your flight but you can gleam so much more from gazing upon that big board within the airport with all the departures and arrivals. Is your flight the outlier or are all the flights delayed or canceled? Is the incoming plane that you are going to be flying out on on-time or delayed?
Well, now you can get all of those facts without being at the airport. FlightAware pulls it all together on one website with a separate page for each US airport.
You can see the one for Burlington's airport here.
Friday, February 15, 2008
I don't think I've ever actually moved beyond many of my adolescent tastes, especially when it comes to pop. There's something about the high school cheese drama that I adore. I've never actually let go of my That Dog records (Totally Crushed Out! and Retreat from the Sun). Simple, cute, and maybe a bit silly in it's anger, but it strikes a chord.
I get the same feeling when it comes to dancey post-punk/new wave acts such as Metric and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. A recent addition is Montreal's Bad Flirt. High energy pop tart tracks filled with chick leads, hooks, and archetypical post-punk bass lines. And if that isn't corny enough, they won a battle of the bands on Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's website. Holy crows do I feel like a gross old man.
I'm heading to their Saturday show at 242 Main with my niece that's half my age. I have a feeling we'll both be satisfied.
Bad Flirt + Cave Bees + In Memory of Pluto + To the Barricades + Dylan Beadeau | 242 Main | Burlington
Bad Flirt | St. Valentines Day Massacre (unmastered) | Myspace
Bad Flirt | Hiroshima, Mon Frere (unmastered) | Myspace
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Come on. Ya gotta admit it. Dengue Fever doesn't look like your typical indie rock band.
They don't sound like one either. I'd call it a retro-Yé-yé with a Cambodian pop flair brought about by the vocals of Ms. Chhom Nimol. They come from L.A. and just released their sophomore album, Venus On Earth. I can't vouch for the entire album but this tune has been in heavy rotation lately. The bonus is that I just noticed tonight that they are coming to La Sala Rossa in Montreal on Friday, March 7. With the Black Mountain show, that would mean back-to-back Friday night trips to Montreal but for a pair of fine shows, it's well worth it.
Dengue Fever | Mr. Orange | Buy
According to the graph below, about 49% of the readers of F45 use Mozilla Firefox to read this site. So, I thought it would be worthwhile to post about two recent AddOns for Firefox that I recently installed. So far...loving them.
This one is for the soccer geeks out there. FootieFox is a free AddOn from Kicker, the influential German soccer paper. After installing the AddOn, you choose which leagues you want to follow and that's all you have to do. After that, you'll see scores from those leagues scroll across the right-hand corner of your bottom toolbar. If there aren't any games going on, it'll show the past scores for a day and then start to display upcoming matches. If you see a scoreline that interests you, you can then click on it and get a quick game summary. Very nice and easy. It also lets you know when a goal has been scored in a game by playing a crowd cheer and flashing the new score in a momentary box down in the corner.
The upside is that it includes MLS and CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches which is some nice respect from Kicker. The downside is that it shows the teams' emblems rather than the teams' names. While I know the crests for the big clubs, there are a lot of little ones I'm not familiar with...but I guess I'll now be learning them.
Stumble Upon is for anyone who likes to surf the net. It's similar to Reddit and Digg in that the registered users vote for sites (thumbs up or down) but I like it better because you can choose what topics you're interested in rather than wading through a million "Vote Ron Paul" sites on the other ones I mentioned.
You basically install the AddOn which gives you a new toolbar dedicated to Stumble Upon. One of the buttons says "Stumble" and when you click on it, it takes you to a random website that 1) is in a category you chose and 2) other members have voted as being fun/interesting/worthwhile. It's highly addicting. You can then vote on the pages yourself and the program will remember which sites you liked and try to find ones that matched those sites. So, as you see me posting random crap on this blog, now you'll know where I found it.
If you'd like to try a demo of Stumble Upon without installing the AddOn, you can try it here.
SECOND UPDATE: Phosphorescent's booking agent wrote back to say that he thinks Phosphorescent will do another show in New England this fall. However, he didn't say whether it would be northern New England or southern New England. A show at Yale won't cut it for folks in the old north woods.
UPDATE: Bad news, folks. I received an email from one of the organizers of the show at Dartmouth confirming what someone in the comments said. We aren't allowed to go to the show. The show is meant to be only for students and since they've received complaints in the past about non-students attending shows there in the past, they will be checking IDs at the door.
1) This policy is in complete contrast to the policies at UVM and Bennington where they welcome people from the community to join them at the shows. I think that policy sends a better message to the student body about how, despite being in an elite institution of higher learning, they are still a part of the larger community.
2) Phosphorescent isn't a household name and if he hopes to build a fan base, I think he should avoid playing shows that exclude certain people. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt though and guessing he didn't know about Dartmouth's exclusionary practices. I emailed his booking agent to check and will update this post if I hear back one way or the other.
Regardless, it's time to find something else to do on Friday night.
jds mentioned this show in an earlier post about upcoming shows at Dartmouth's Fuel Rocket Club but I wanted to draw a bit more attention to it since...well...I like Phosphorescent and it's free. Oh, and the beer is free too.
Phosphorescent is the name for Matthew Houck's one-man band. Originally from Georgia, Houck, like every other musician in the free world, now resides in Brooklyn when he's not on his seemingly endless tour. He knocked out at least 32 shows this fall and has another 46 scheduled for this winter and early spring. The dude travels.
Now, I'm not sure how many musicians he brings with him or how well he creates the dark atmospheric sound of his albums but, for free, why not go check it out. Houck's sound is more structured and ominous than freak folk but is still a far cry from traditional folk sounds as he builds songs with haunting harmoniums, loose piano chords and ooooohing background vocals. Hopefully, he'll be able to create those sounds when he hits Hanover next Friday.
The Fuel Rocket Club is located in the basement of the Collis Center which is at the corner of North Main Street and West Wheelock Street; right on the campus green. If I'm wrong on the name of the building, it's the big building on the corner. Follow the students. You'll find it.
There are two other bands on the bill too. Bottle Up & Go and Bart McGuire. Knowing that shows tend to start late there, I'm guessing Phosphorescent won't hit the stage...err, floor, in this case...until after 11pm.
Phosphorescent | I Am a Full Grown Man | Buy
Phosphorescent | Wolves | Buy
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Yeh. I could live in one of these cubes...assuming I didn't have 36 dolls, 1,872 Lego pieces and 43 superhero action figures to store. Very cool.
Pavement | Home | Buy
UPDATE: In the comments, someone left a link to another cool little pre-fab house called weeHouse. You can check them out here.
Also, another option along these lines are the Katrina Cottages which people are raving about as an alternative to trailers since they are nicer and expandable. You can even buy them as a kit through Lowe's.
Monday, February 11, 2008
I know I've been posting a lot of boots and particularly Yo La Tengo bootlegs lately but I've been fortunate to have friends who have shared some high quality boots with me. This one is no exception.
This show is the third night of YLT's eight night run at Maxwells during Hanukkah to raise money for various charities. The charity for this night was Day One.
Here's why the show is worth posting: besides a fine setlist with lots of covers and special guests mixed in, the sound quality of this recording is as good as a professionally released live album. It's actually a matrix of two audience recordings and a soundboard recording. So, you get the clarity of the soundboard with the better mix and overall atmosphere of the audience recordings. It's great and a treat for any YLT fan.
You can read a review of the show over on extrawack.
Yo La Tengo | Intro
Yo La Tengo | Nuclear War (Sun Ra cover)
Yo La Tengo | Five Cornered Drone (Crispy Duck)
Yo La Tengo | The Race is On Again
Yo La Tengo | Autumn Sweater
Yo La Tengo | The Weakest Part
Yo La Tengo | Mr. Tough
Yo La Tengo | Banter #1
Yo La Tengo | No Water (with Chris Stamey on guitar)
Yo La Tengo | I Wanna Be Your Lover (Bob Dylan cover)
Yo La Tengo | Cast a Shadow (Beat Happening cover)
Yo La Tengo | Don't Have to be So Sad
Yo La Tengo | Tom Courtenay
Yo La Tengo | Styles of the Times
Yo La Tengo | Watch Out for Me, Ronnie
Yo La Tengo | I Heard You Looking
Yo La Tengo | Banter - Encore Break
Yo La Tengo | Heart Full of Soul (Yardbirds cover)
Yo La Tengo | Banter #2
Yo La Tengo | The Question (with Will Rigby)
Yo La Tengo | Banter #3
Yo La Tengo | Solitary Man (with Jim James) (Neil Diamond cover)
Yo La Tengo | Secret Agent Man (with Jim James) (Johnny Rivers cover)
Yo La Tengo | Hard Luck Woman (with Jim James) (Kiss cover)
YLT's website still has some kids size shirts from the show available. I need to order one for my son. He'd look great rocking this shirt in kindergarten.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
PSV - Hee Bradley 1-1
20-year-old American Michael Bradley kept his hot season going with another goal this weekend in a 1-1 draw against league-leading PSV in Holland. Smooth finish. The kid is going to be sold for a boatload of money this summer to a big club.
Screw the parrot. The lyrebird is where it's at.
Be sure to hang with this video until the 1:55 mark to understand why it was worth posting. My only question about it is...why are there car alarms in the jungle?
A friend gave me this boot the other night and if you're a Dylan fan, you're going to want it too. The songs are from a series of rehearsals for Dylan's 1978 tour and were recorded in a studio. So, the sound quality is much better than a typical bootleg. The quality decreases as the disc progresses but it's still a fun listen for fans because Dylan was doing a lot of highly alternative versions of his songs during this period. Lots of background singers, organ and horns. Basically...70's style!
Bob Dylan | I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
Bob Dylan | The Times They Are A-Changin'
Bob Dylan | If You See Her, Say Hello
Bob Dylan | The Man in Me
Bob Dylan | I Don't Believe You
Bob Dylan | Tomorrow Is a Long Time
Bob Dylan | You're a Big Girl Now
Bob Dylan | Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Bob Dylan | It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
Bob Dylan | Forever Young
Bob Dylan | Repossession Blues
Bob Dylan | One of Us Must Know
Bob Dylan | Girl From the North Country
Bob Dylan | We Better Talk This Over
Bob Dylan | Simple Twist of Fate
Yes. It exists. Read all about it on extrawack.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
I love this thing. The Glad-iator.
Langdon Street Cafe has refashioned an old cigarette machine to dispense art at $3 a pop. The art comes in tiny boxes and you don't know what you're going to get (sort of like those dispensing machines at the supermarket that we all loved as a kid) but here are a few examples.
If you'd like to sell you're art in The Glad-iator, here are some instructions from the myspace site for it:
The items need to fit inside a box that's 54mm x 82mm x 21mm (that's like 2 1/8" x 3 1/4" x 7/8") and should be multiples of similar objects that you think someone would be willing to pay $3 in quarters for. No magnets or super-light items as they clog up the GLAD. We provide the boxes. You can include a little card or something with your contact info.
If you could send us a jpeg or a prototype of your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org, we can let you know if it's a good fit. We are currently soliciting for holiday-oriented stuff, stocking stuffers and whatnot like that!
You get paid $25 after your 12 boxes sell out, which can take a while, but it's a good way to get your name out there, and hey, it's fun.
So, as if you needed another reason to hit Langdon Street Cafe, you can now take home a bit of local art via The Gald-iator.
Former Seven Days music editor, Casey Rae-Hunter has put his new album up on Facebook for your listening pleasure. The five-song EP is more up-tempo than his previous Soft Rock EP and shows his twin influences of Brian Wilson production qualities and 70's guitar rock.
Check it out here.
UPDATE: I wanted to bump up Casey's tip-in from the comments:
...just so you all know, the Facebook page is just a teaser for a 10 song full-length called Northern Lights.
I'll be giving it away briefly on The Contrarian as soon as I take care of a couple anal-retentive mix tweaks.
Later, it'll be available on iTunes, e-Music, Rhapsody and probably LastFM.
Jay from Spitting Out Teeth and Solah, is working on a digital cover design.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
What comes from Sioux Falls, has 18 hands and a dumb fucking name?
We All Have Hooks for Hands
Two drummers, three guitars, two horn/keyboard players, a violinist and bass make up the nine-piece outfit from South Dakota. I've been wrecking my thumb over the last two weeks dialing my iPod down to the the "W's" to constantly pull up their 2007 debut LP The Pretender.
The album has the mucho instrumentation of Broken Social Scene but with a lo-fi fuzz-folk base reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel. Combining those sounds with a lead singer who belts the warbly off-pitched strained vocals (a la Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade), you have a familiar but enjoyable racket.
We All Have Hooks for Hands | Hold On, C'mon | Buy
We All Have Hooks for Hands | The Secret Life Of Dolls and Doldrums | Buy
Quick programming note: The best soccer rivalry in our region of the world gets going again on Wednesday night when the US plays a "friendly" against Mexico in Houston. ESPN2 @ 9pm EST
Besides two losses in Mexico City, the US is 9-0-1 during this millennium against Mexico which drives their fans nuts. However, repeatedly losing to the Yanks seems to have finally stopped the Mexican players from talking smack. That's too bad because they were always locks for a few crazy-ass comments prior to a game.
Two key players to watch for the US are Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey. Both guys are having good years with their teams in Europe. Bradley has scored nine goals in his last nine games (16 goals overall) for Heerenveen in the Netherlands and Dempsey has six goals for a struggling Fulham side in England.
Tropolism, an excellent architecture blog, has had a number of posts recently focusing on interesting designs for gas stations. Gas stations are such a mundane part of our landscape, it's a treat to see someone put a bit of style into them. I'd drive out of my way to support a station that put this sort of flair into their appearance.
The one above is from Copenhagen.
This is one from Sweden. It is now someone's residence. You can see photos of it when it was a working station here.
This one is in Montreal. I guess this one is "our local option".
Lastly, this one is located at the Vitra (furniture) corporate offices in Switzerland.