Friday, September 29, 2006

Grace Potter - Live

Last week I was fortunate enough to catch Grace Potter and the Nocturnals live in Northampton, MA at the Ironhorse theater. For those of you not familiar with the Ironhorse, it's a fairly intimate venue where I assumed I would be able to fully experience Grace's voice. To my surprise, I got more than I bargained for.

The opening band's bus broke down in route, so they were replaced by an acoustic duo (pardon me for forgetting their names) which proved to be entertaining for their brief set.

After a short change-over, Grace and company took the stage, in a commanding manner. If you have listened to their album at all, it's full of a soulful bluesy sound that does justice to Grace's vocals. In concert, the band just rocks, and I mean that in a good way. Their entire sound was kicked up with a couple shots of tobasco and they jammed all night long, clearly enjoying themselves every minute of the performance. At some times, the musical onslaught did submerge Grace's vocals, but she held her own throughout the night. Check out an old post on her last album, Nothing But the Water.

If you are anywhere near Boston tonight or tomorrow, do yourself a favor and check them out at the Paradise.

Unfortunately, I don't have the show recorded, but here are a couple of live tracks to wet your whistle. If you haven't picked up their album, go here now!

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - 2:22 (live) : Unknown source

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - Farmer John (live Neil Young cover) : Live at Bonnaroo 6-17-2006

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - Nothing But the Water (live) : Live at Bonnaroo 6-17-2006

And if you have the time, head over to Cable and Tweed for Grace's performance on the World Cafe.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Lisa Papineau - A musical formula

Start with Bjork - Strip away some of the instrumentation + Keep some danceability - Smooth out some of the vocal quirkiness = Lisa Papineau

OK, so maybe it's not that easy, and maybe I don't want to define Lisa with a formula, but it does give you an idea of what to expect while listening to her recently released album, Night Moves. It did take me a few listens to the album before I finally figured out how the sound was similar to something I had experienced before, but it finally hit me...Bjork. There aren't many woman who produce this sort of electronic ear candy. As the formula suggests, Lisa tends to favor less instrumentation, with sparse accompanyment that tends to drift in and out of the foreground, allowing her voice to be front and center, right where it should be.

Lisa first exhibited her vocal talents on the stage, and then later with the group Pet, the first group to sign with Tori Amos' label Igloo. After Pet called it quits, Lisa performed with a group named Big Sir as well as adding some guest vocals on M83's album. With Night Moves, Lisa finally takes the stage for herself.

Lisa Papineau - Shucking, Jiving : Night Moves

Lisa Papineau - Quiet Storm : Night Moves

Lisa Papineau - LP Beat : Night Moves

Check out Lisa's website or become her friend on MySpace.

BONUS tracks from Iceland's best export!

Bjork - Human Behavior (live) : Live From 6A

Bjork - Hyper-Ballad (live)
: Tibetan Freedom Concert [disc 2]

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Purrs - Seattle does NOT equal grunge

That's right, Seattle produces other music besides what can easily be filed under grunge, and The Purrs are a perfect example. Although The Purrs have been around for a few years and have put out a few efforts on their own (the EP No Particular Bar, No Particular Town in 2004 and the LP The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of in 2005), today marks the release of their record-label debut: a self titled album which in a way is what the band members cheekily refer to as a "greatest hits" compilation of songs from their previous self produced works (some remastered and some re-mixed).

Jima, the lead vocalist for the group describes the group "as a bar band who want their audiences to drink, have fun and generally have a good time." Sounds good to me...where do I sign up? But seriously, their music is a blend of Brit-pop sounds from the present (i.e. Richard Ashcroft and the Verve) along with riffs that could also comfortably place the songs in the 60's. And somehow, The Purrs manage to bring a California surf sound (i.e Dick Dale) into the mix as well! As an aside, all of the tracks on the album clock in at over four and a half minutes (pretty amazing considering the long track is almost a lost art in modern music), yet none of them drone on and on leaving you reaching for the next track button.

The Purrs - She's Gone : The Purrs

The Purrs - Ebb & Flow : The Purrs

The Purrs - Get On With Your Life : The Purrs

Visit MySpace and become a friend of The Purrs
Check out their website.

BONUS Brit-pop tracks!

Richard Ashcroft - You On My Mind In My Sleep (acoustic) : Radio1 Session 5 June 2000 (studio recording on Alone With Everbody)

The Kinks - Lola (live) : Come Dancing With The Kinks - The Best Of The Kinks

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Saturna - One of Saturn's Moons?

When I first read Saturna's name, I of course thought of the planet...why wouldn't I? Saturn still is a planet, isn't it? You never know, they knocked Pluto off the list for no particular reason. Now, after 12 years of public education with 9 planets being drilled into me, I have to remember that there are only 8 planets.

Anyway, not to get off topic, Saturna (the band, not the planet) has released their first studio album, the EP ...All Night, and maybe it's just the band's name, or even their website (which reminds me of the movie Gattaca), but to me their music sounds very techno-futuristic. I'm not knocking them at all, in fact I'm impressed at the way they use some pretty standard instrumentation, with some voice effects, to put together 5 tracks that blend together pop, rock, techno, and some industrial lite sounds without sounding hokey. Check them out for yourself:

Saturna - Just For Thrills : ... All Night

Saturna - Blanket of Stars : ... All Night

Become their friend on MySpace.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Darker My Love - Ready to take a Trip?

Didn't grow up in the 60's? That's OK, take a listen to Darker My Love's self-titled album and you'll feel like you've been transported there instantly! Even if you weren't around to crash Woodstock (the first OR second), if swirly, hazy, grungy, fuzzy, drug-induced, psychedelic rock is your thing, you are going to want to give this album a spin. (if you can think of more adjectives, please let me know)

Darker My Love first formed five years ago in L.A., but it wasn't until last year that the band released their first EP (Summer Is Here). Several weeks ago (on August 22nd), the band released their first full length studio album, from which the following tracks come from. You can also purchase several live sets that the band performed at Spaceland in Los Angeles on iTunes, or you can catch them live on their current tour (get upcoming dates from their MySpace site).

Darker My Love - Opening : Darker My Love

Darker My Love - What's A Man's Paris : Darker My Love

Take a trip with Darker My Love on their website or in MySpace.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Silversun Pickups - Just Plain LOUD

The music scene is a rat race for most bands, but Silversun Pickups' entry into it was a little different than many. The L.A. band formed amongst a group of friends who just wanted to play music while hanging with some real friends. Brian Aubert (guitarist/singer) says “In the beginning, we were just trying to figure out what we wanted to do, didn’t even know if this was what we wanted to do. But we were playing clubs while we were learning – and I was learning to be a frontman all of a sudden.” This birth-by-concert beginning might be why the group has been getting such rave reviews for their live performances. Check them out on their current tour with Viva Voce. Here are some upcoming dates. For more, check out the band's website.

9.28 Rickshaw Stop San Francisco CA
9.29 Howie and Sons Visalia CA
9.30 The Echo Los Angeles CA
10.1 Modified Phoenix AZ
10.3 Emo’s Austin TX
10.4 Opolis Norman OK
10.5 Randy Bacon Gallery Springfield MO
10.7 Courtyard Caf Urbana IL
10.8 Southgate House Newport KY
10.10 Iota Club and Caf Arlington VA

Silversun Pickups' first major release was a short EP, Pikul, followed by a full length release, Carnavas, this year. Many, many people have compared their sound to the Smashing Pumpkins, and for good reason. Whether you like the Pumpkins or not, there are some definite parallels between James Iha and Brian Aubert's fuzzy and incessant guitar fingering as well as between Aubert's voice and Billy Corgan. This is not labeling Silversun Pickups a Smashing Pumpkins Tribute band; the Pickups' sound may be similar, but they've got some tricks of their own to play as well. The rich guitar work makes you want to get up and do some air guitar of your own, and Brian Aubert's screaming raspy wails kicks it up another notch. The entire album just rocks. Period.

Silversun Pickups - Sci Fi Lullaby : Pikul

Silversun Pickups - Melatonin : Carnavas

Silversun Pickups - Little Lover's So Polite : Carnavas

Need more info about Silversun Pickups?
Check out the band's website.
Become their friend on MySpace.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Aaron Schroeder - Sometimes Simple is Better

What is there to like about Aaron Schroeder you ask? (besides that pimp-tacular leopard print bathrobe) I'll answer with a question of my own: what ISN'T there to like about Aaron Schroeder?

Aaron's first album, Southern Heart In Western Skin, is short (weighing in at a little under 30 minutes), and sweet; every last note of it. You won't find any guest performances by big name musicians here, and that's part of its attraction. It's clearly a low-budget album, with songs recorded in Washington, Massachusetts, and California, which makes you just want to cheer for the underdog when the underdog puts together such a finely crafted album on his own. And when I say on his own, I mean Aaron doesn't have a record company to back him up. It's Aaron, Aaron, and Aaron who's responsible for writing, performing, and packaging. And speaking of packaging, props to Aaron for including lyrics for us.

The music. What can I say? Aaron's song run the gamut from twangy harmonic humming songs (The Real World), to meloncholy love songs (Devil's Lake), to irish jiggy punk rock (Santa Ana: my favorite song on the album),. Not to say that he's trying to please everyone to meet a wider market. Aaron's musical versatility feels entirely genuine with no pretensions or pop gimmicks. His roots are in some classic musicians such as Johnny Cash and Leadbelly, but he also enjoys some modern marvels like Belle & Sebastian and The Mountain Goats. He doesn't stop there, though: being an avid reader, Aaron cites authors such as Fydor Dostoevsky, Henry Miller, Haruki Murakami, Knut Hamsun as influences. "Often time my lyrics are adaptations of things I've read, including various Yiddish, Arabic, and American folk tales." And although there are no big name guitarists backing him up, Aaron has a skilled group supporting him with a variety of traditional instruments (including lap steel, cello, piano, and others).

So I'll ask the question again: What ISN'T there to like about Aaron Schroeder?

Aaron Schroeder - The Real World : Southern Heart In Western Skin

Aaron Schroeder - Santa Ana : Southern Heart In Western Skin

Aaron Schroeder - Sky Ain't Blue (Demo)

Become Aaron's friend on MySpace.

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Labor Day Celebration

I find it a little odd that most people (with the exception of retail) don't work on Labor Day. As Alanis Morissette would say, isn't that ironic? The name doesn't really represent the holiday as far as I'm concerned. Based on the title, one would think it's a day to celebrate working. Why would you ever want to party over the idea of working? It just doesn't make sense. And although Labor Day doesn't hold much meaning to most Americans, it's actually a holiday that's celebrated all over the world (but on May 1st in most places). Regardless, whoever you are, and in whatever country you live, enjoy the long weekend if you can.

Dolly Parton - 9 to 5 : 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs

Black Irish Band - Paddy Worked on the Railway : Day the Earth Shook

Donna Summer - She Works Hard For The Money : Totally 80's (disc 1)

Eels - All In A Day's Work : Shootenanny!

John Lennon - Working Class Hero : Wonsaponatime

Butthole Surfers - I Hate My Job : Humpty Dumpty LSD

Missy Elliott - Work It : Under Construction

R.E.M. - Finest Worksong (live) : Live Perugia Palasport, Italy 6-17-89

Muddy Waters - Got My Mojo Working : Go Get My Baby

Dropkick Murphys - Career Oppurtunities (Live Clash cover) : The Singles Collection

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Josh Ritter Fans - ACHTUNG!

For those of you who are Josh Ritter fans, but aren't signed up for his e-mail list, he has a new single on iTunes for Girl In the War. Here's the line-up:

1. Girl In the War (album version)
2. Blame It On the Tetons (originally the B-side for Thin Blue Flame)
3. Harbortown (previously unreleased)
4. Peter Killed the Dragon (bonus track only available if you downloaded The Animal Years in its entirety from iTunes)
5. Monster Ballads (Early Version)
6. In the Dark (Acoustic Demo)
7. Girl In the War (Acoustic Demo)

(notes in purple are my notes)

As a little teaser, and in hopes of prodding you into buying the entire single, here's one track:

Josh Ritter - Peter Killed the Dragon : Girl In the War single

Hem - A small slice of Americana

I first experienced Hem's music by hearing them open for Josh Ritter. To be completely honest, I wasn't entirely sold on them at the time. The set was a little bit of a downer for me (it felt a little depressing), and the highlight of their performance, in my opinion, was their cover of Johnny and June Carter Cash's Jackson. Regardless, what I was impressed by though was their amazing mastery of a wide range of instruments, and Sally Ellyson's enchantingly beautiful voice.

So, when their soon to be released (September 5th) album Funnel Cloud came to me in the mail, I was somewhat eager to give them another chance. Many times I've been engrossed with an artist's album but not their live performance or, on the other hand, impressed with an artist's stage presence but been disappointed with the studio album. Perhaps this would be such a case. And in fact, it was.

I've always considered myself an open soul to new music, but lately I've found myself being drawn more to music with country / folksy / traditional Americana roots. As I noticed seeing Hem live, the group is an amazing pool of talent. Any band that can boast of an oboe, English horn, glockenspiel, and euphonium (what exactly is an euphonium?) deserves some props in my book. Hem embraces and celebrates these traditional instruments while still performing music that has a contemporary feel to it.

And then there is Sally Ellyson. Her voice is the thread that unites all of the many instruments into a cohesive sound. If I was forced to make a comparison, the names Carole King and Joni Mitchell come to mind, although I think Sally's voice is a little sweeter. It's amazing to think about considering the fact that the band found Sally through a newspaper ad after she submitted a tape of her singing lullabies!

And now to return to my initial objection. I still would not consider Hem's music anything I would play after winning the lottery. I would say that it is pensive and emotionally experienced music. There are no songs about puppy love here; instead there are songs about meeting your true love (He Came to Meet Me) and lost love (Great Houses of New York). There are no catchy phrases, no forced rhymes; instead there are songs that speak to true life.

Hem - He Came to Meet Me : Funnel Cloud

Hem - Not California : Funnel Cloud
(perhaps my favorite track on the album)

Hem - I'll Dream Of You Tonight : Funnel Cloud

Want to know more about Hem?

Visit their website
(where you can pre-order the album and a copy of a limited edition Tour EP)
Become their friend at MySpace

Friday, September 01, 2006

Evan Duby - Free music for all!

With influences like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Van Morrison, you just can't go wrong. Evan Duby started life in New York (but I won't hold that against him), moved to Boston (go Red Sox!), and currently splits the difference and resides in Connecticut.

Evan Duby - Separate Ways : Bridge & Tunnel

Evan Duby - Words : Bridge & Tunnel

Evan says, "Music offers us some kind of connective're always in good company with music on the box." I couldn't agree more! Being the kind soul that he is, Evan is offering his 4 song EP for FREE on his website and his MySpace site. It's a nice blend of acoustic / folk sounds. Get them now while they're hot. In the Connecticut / NY area? Check him out at one of his upcoming live shows.

Sep 11, 2006 5:30 PM The Septmber Concert - Stonehenge Fireman's Memorial Plaza New York, NY
Sep 14, 2006 8:30 PM Hank's Saloon Brooklyn, NY
Sep 21, 2006 TBA The Space Hamden, CT
Oct 3, 2006 7:00 PM Arlene's Grocery New York, NY
Oct 21, 2006 8:30 PM Empire Tea & Coffee Newport, RI
Nov 6, 2006 9:00 PM Pete's Candy Store Brooklyn, NY

Feel the need to get to know Evan better?

Check out his website.
Become his friend on MySpace.