Thursday, January 31, 2008

Twin Cities Mayhem

"Nobody invented this electropunk thing. No city can claim it (though New York certainly tries). It's simply what happens when you take a generation of bored teens and twentysomethings - raised on hardcore punk, British techno, Nintendo, and Doritos - and place cheap digital recording technology within their grasp."


Bring together fifteen bands from the Twin Cities area. To begin with, think Devo on some 'roids. Get a little dirty here and there (think Peaches), a sprinkle of some vintage techno-industrial (think Nitzer Ebb or KMFDM), some light-hearted silliness (They Might Be Giants or Gravy Train!!! anyone?), and just a whole lack of inhibition. End result: Twin Cities Electropunk Volume 4, available for FREE at TC Try two of the tracks below, then head over and download the rest for your listening pleasure. To top it off, you can download Volumes one through three while you're at it.

Milkbar - Stop (Check Me Out) : Twin Cities Electropunk Volume 4

Unicorn Basement - >Sexy : Twin Cities Electropunk Volume 4


Nitzer Ebb - Godhead : Ebbhead

Gravy Train!!! - The Hair Stair : All The Sweet Stuff

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Last Town Chorus, Live in Boston

Last year I checked out ex-Jayhawks' frontman Mark Olson on his tour supporting his last effort, The Salvation Blues. Opening for him was Megan Hickey, aka The Last Town Chorus, who also had just released her new album, Wire Waltz. Well, Megan is coming around again, and I'm going to be checking her out Friday night at the Lizard Lounge in Boston. While I thoroughly enjoy her album, seeing her deft caressing of her lap steel guitar in person is simply haunting. Below is some video (a little shaky, but better than nothing) of her playing live at The Royal Albert Hall Project in New York City, on opening night of the 2008 New York City Guitar Festival. Bob Dylan's 1966 famous bootlegged concert was performed in its original song order by a variety of artists, including Megan, playing below.

And here's another older cover by Megan, very much different than the original, that you can listen to on you iMusicdoodle. If you're going to be in Boston on Friday, come check out the show - tickets are only $8 in advance or $10 at the door.

Visit their website, their label HackTone Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Going Apes

Apes are back with their fourth full length album, titled Ghost Games. Since Baba's Mountain, their last album in 2005, Breck Brunson has replaced former front-man Paul Weil, who left the band to start a family. Not having been familiar with their music before, I can't compare this to their previous efforts, but I can say that if the Nurses debut album made you salivate, this one will fit nicely into your collection. It's up, it's down, It's raggedly wild music that will in turn grate on your ears, and then just as quickly smooth out. It pairs hand claps with electronic guitar riffs (think Peaches, but less dancey and more aggresive). And to top it off, Weil's voice sounds like a psychopath (a musical psychopath with a well trained musical ear, though!). It's out February 19th, but take a listen below.

Apes - Beat of the Double : Ghost Games

Apes - Dr. Watcher : Ghost Games
(watch the video)

Visit their website, their label Gypsy Eyes Records, and become their friend on MySpace.


Nurses - Man At Arms : Unreleased, Daytrotter Session (buy their latest: Hangin' Nothin' But Our Hands Down)

Tour Dates

Feb 12 Purchase, NY @ Purchase College State Univ. of NY (w. Sole)
Feb 13 Philadelphia, PA @ Queen Sheba II (TBC)
Feb 14 New York, NY @ Cake Shop (w. These Are Powers, Ex Models, Mixel Pixel)
Feb 15 Boston, MA @ Harper’s Ferry (w. Sole, Telephone Jim Jesus)
Feb 16 Providence @ The Living Room (w. Sole, Telephone Jim Jesus)
Feb 17 Burlington, VT @ TBA (TBC)
Feb 18 TBC
Feb 19 Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar
Feb 20 Buffalo, NY @ Soundlab
Feb 21 Detroit, MI @ Scrummage University
Feb 22 Chicago, IL @ Abbey Pub (w. Sole, Telephone Jim Jesus)
Feb 23 Columbus, OH @ Bourbon Street

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sunday Soul - James Brown

From my jukebox to yours...the Hardest Working Man in Show Business:

James Brown and the Famous Flames - Kansas City : Kansas City 7"

James Brown and the Famous Flames - Stone Fox
: Kansas City 7" B-side

James Brown and the Famous Flames - Don't Be A Drop-Out : Don't Be A Drop-Out 7"

James Brown and the Famous Flames - Tell Me That You Love Me : Don't Be A Drop-Out 7" B-side

James Brown - Hot Pants Pt. 1 : Hot Pants 7"

James Brown - Hot Pants Pt. 2 & 3 : Hot Pants 7" B-side

The old becomes new with Wynton Marsalis

"There is something pleasurably safe in feeling about what we call standards. They are songs that seem to say, 'No matter who or what you are, you are welcome. Come on in. Pull up a seat. Enjoy yourself.' "
-Stanley Crouch, from the liner notes to Standards & Ballads

Being an originally American creation, it's rather amazing to think how far jazz has fallen out of the popular mainstream and even conscious. In the latter half of the 20th century, jazz musicians have attempted to revive the ailing genre by transcending the borders of traditional jazz music: Afro-Cuban and Brazlian jazz in the 50's and 60's (Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente), jazz fusion in the 70's (Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock), smooth jazz in the 80's (Kenny G - perhaps better left forgotten), jazz-rap, acid jazz, and nu jazz in the 90's (A Tribe Called Quest, Brand New Heavies, The Cinematic Orchestra). While bands in the latter category have enjoyed particular mainstream success, few listeners would probably couple the music with the jazz genre.

Few people are doing as much to reverse this unfortunate trend as Wynton Marsalis and his family. Indeed, I would wager their name is the most recognizable in modern day jazz to the American public in general. While there have been some very outspoken critics of Wynton, his musical abilities, and his outlook and attitudes about the history of jazz and where it should be heading, he's done much to keep the genre afloat. Wynton first hit the scene playing with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in the 80's. From their he went on to play with Herbie Hancock and then to eventually form his own band around himself. Besides possessing an abundance of talent in jazz, he's also a noted classical music trumpeter as well.

This last week saw the release of Standards & Ballads, fourteen tracks collected from previous releases that showcase Wynton's abilities to take classic material and make it his own. There's nothing new here, so previous fans of his probably have much of this material. For those not overly familiar with Wynton, or who have not bought any of his work yet, this album serves as sort of "greatest hits" that you can listen to and enjoy. It serves especially well as some mood music with your significant other on the rapidly approaching Valentine's Day!

Wynton Marsalis - Embraceable You : Standards & Ballads

Wynton Marsalis - I Can't Get Started (with Shirley Horn) : Standards & Ballads

Visit his website, his label Legacy Recordings, and become his friend on MySpace.


Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers - Sportin' Crowd
: At the Cafe Bohemia Vol. 2

Dizzy Gillespie and Machito - Oro, Incienso Y Mirra : Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods

Herbie Hancock - River (Feat. Corinne Bailey Rae) : River: The Joni Letters

The Cinematic Orchestra - Ma Fleur : Sportin' Crowd

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Visiting Weinland

From my very first listen of the very first track (listen to it below) of La Lamentor, the second full-length album from Weinland, the very first thing to come to mind was Neil Young. The music has just got that slow, measured southern rock cadence to it, and Adam Shearer's vocals seal the deal.

As you might guess from the album's title, this time around the material is a little darker than their debut: songs of struggle and loss with their dark inspiration hailing from Shearer's own experiences. Its classic Americana infused instrumentation and how it carries a tragic beauty to it mirrors some of Young's quieter, acoustic introspective work (think The Needle And The Damage Done). Don't expect to find any anthemic rockers or protest songs, just eleven tracks of contemplative material.

Weinland - God Here I Come
: La Lamentor

Weinland - With You Without You : La Lamentor

Visit their website, their label Badman Recording Co, and become their friend on MySpace.


Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton - Expecting To Fly (Neil Young cover) : Live at the 9:30 Club, 1-10-2007

Friday, January 25, 2008

Catch Dengue Fever

A look at the cast of characters above might lead you to believe they're members of a drama production - not so, though. They're the six members of Cambodian pop sensation Dengue Fever, and they just released their third full-length album, Venus on Earth, earlier this week. It's a filling mix of Khmer Rock, Bollywood Soundtracks, Ethiopian Jazz, and American R&B that's a unique sound unlike anything else you're listening to. While the band first started out doing covers of Cambodian pop classics from the 60's, this latest effort presents eleven brand new compositions given birth from the minds of the band's members.

Much of the vocal work is performed by Chhom Nimol, the one Cambodian in the group, who was already a famous singer in her home country before being asked to front the group. Her voice stays true to its native tongue, and indeed many of the lyrics are sung in Khmer (Seeing Hands, below). Even on tracks where she sings in English, her accent is unmistakable, unlike another Asian band which may come to mind - Asobi Seksu. On some of the tracks (for example Sober Driver, below) Zac Holtzman, the group's guitarist, provides some vocal counterpoints to Chhom.

Dengue Fever - Seeing Hands : Venus On Earth

Dengue Fever - Sober Driver : Venus On Earth

and an older live track:

Dengue Fever - Doo Wop (Live at Rickshaw Stop, February 18, 2005)
: Sip Off The Mekong

Visit their website and become their friend on MySpace.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Morning Child

Just a quick note and good tune to share with you today...

Last year, six years after their previous release, Brit drum and bass innovating sensation 4hero returned and dropped Play With the Changes. Folks on both sides of the Atlantic praised it up and down, and rightly so. The duo has taken the lead off track, Morning Child, which features the vocals of Carina Andersson, and allowed some guests to flip it for an EP worth of remixes. The track is already pretty killer, and it's always fresh to see some different takes. It kicks off with the radio edit (which you can listen to below), shifts to a stripped down and muted Daddy G remix (think Tricky), and onto the Landau Orchestra Remix which retains a lot of the same instrumentation but likes to shift and play with it. The fourth track, the L.A.O.S D&B Mix, kicks up the BPM to an insane pace, then kills it, then accelerates again. For the fifth track, it's the Danya Vodovoz Midnight Home Mix, which really chills things out to a cool pace. Finally, rounding out the EP are three instrumental versions.

It's exclusively available via iTunes and has been up since the beginning of the month, so head on over and check it out.

Visit their website, their label Raw Canvas Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday Soul - get Funky

From my jukebox to yours...a little funk to help you shake your trunk.

Manu Dibango - Soul Makossa : Soul Makossa 7"

Manu Dibango - Lily : Soul Makossa 7" B-side

Get more of Manu on Soul Makossa

Commodores - Brick House : Brick House 7"

Commodores - Captain Quick Draw : Brick House 7" B-side

Go with The Ultimate Collection for all their hits, or Anthology for a deeper cut.

Sunday Spotlight - Crushed Stars

Today's spotlight shines on Crushed Stars, the moniker used by producer and multi-instrumentalist Todd Gatreau. Todd has flitted in and out of view over the last eight to ten years in various projects producing various styles of music. His newest offering, Gossamer Days, is the third under the Crushed Stars name and is set to be released February 19th via Simulacra Records. Todd was kind enough to talk about the closing track of the album, Clare Grogan's Scar. For those of you not familiar with Clare's name, she was the front-woman for early 80's new wave, post punk Scottish band Altered Image, and has since then worked as an actress in films as well as on TV. Read more about her over at wikipedia.

Questions and notes in black are mine. Text in red is Todd.

I chose to write about Clare Grogan's Scar because that one has a little more of story to it. Most of the other songs are just kind of come about subconsciously.

This song starts off with the line "Hello Young Lovers..." which I first encountered on a television ad for a Johnny Mathis CD years ago. Every crooner has covered that song. It sounds like such a hopeful sentiment. I also used this as a title for a Tear Ceremony (another of Todd's projects) track on the Emulsion CD.

The next verse "I lost my shirt in New York, well I mean it literally...Someone on the subway's wearing my shirt as we speak" is something that actually happened. When I played CMJ in 2006, I was carrying only the little bag they give you at the conference stuffed with Crushed Stars shirts and CDs. The bag was kind of overflowing and I set it down while I played my set. I realized later that several shirts had disappeared.
But I figured at least people would be wearing them somewhere (perhaps on the subway), so it would be good publicity.

"I was busy wondering about Clare Grogan's scar..." is a line I had for awhile and wanted to use somewhere.
I first saw Clare Grogan in an Altered Images' video. She was a striking waif with a distinctive scar. And I always wondered what had happened.
I recently found the answer when I searched online. She went on to become a TV star in Britain. She also sang on a track by The 6ths (Stephen Merritt) recently. If she hears about this song I hope she does not mind me mentioning it. My intention was one of utmost affection.
I thought it would make a good title.
I played all the instruments on this track. I believe it was the last song I wrote for the record. I think it has a bit of an Epic Soundtracks influence.
I thought the lead guitar was too loud and when Stuart (Sikes, who mixed the record) would leave the room I would pull the fader down a bit. I also used a Hofner Beatle bass I had just gotten which I thought sounded really good once compressed. I would have used it more on the record but all the other tracks were already done.

And a few questions about the current state of music and Todd's other projects:

1.) As production technology has improved, you see more and more one man bands (like yourself) that pull in guest musicians here and there to play pieces. Do you think that this is the way of the future? Will set-in-stone bands become a thing of the past?

Well it certainly has made it easier for guys like me to record on their own, but I think certain personalities are predisposed to playing with others and other personalities prefer to do more of it themselves. For some, performing is more of a social or fraternal thing, they prefer the security of a band or thrive on a certain chemistry within the band. I think for more song-centric artists, recording alone makes more sense. Not that others can't contribute worthy ideas, I just having a full-time band with me might result in having to be democratic to the point of weakening the song. Plus I can never find anyone to play with me anyway, so it's kind of this way by default.

2.) You mentioned playing CMJ in 2006. What's your take on how big the festivals like SXSW, Bonnaroo, CMJ, and others have gotten? Is it essential for an up and coming band to land a gig at one of these now a days?

No, I don't think so. I enjoy playing the festivals, but more than anything it makes for good press. More people are going to read about you playing the festival than are going to actually see your show. Unless the hype machine is really spinning for you, you are going to play to an audience not much larger than your average show because there are so many shows going on simultaneously. Usually the hyped bands have already landed if they are a major draw at the festival. It's not very often people are skyrocketing from a festival performance anymore.
It is a great excuse to have fun though.

3.) You've produced music under a few different names: Sonogram, Tear Ceremony, and Crushed Stars. With the change in names, your music has also developed. Do you foresee moving on to other projects in the near future as a further refinement / evolution of your sound (or even returning to previous projects)?

I think Crushed Stars will soon be going in more abstract directions with looser song structures, more atmosphere, though not necessarily more electronic. There will be more Sonogram. After the last Crushed Stars record (Obsolescence), I felt really exposed. So Sonogram is a way for me to cover my tracks. I used to be reluctant to discuss one project in the context of another. It wasn't long ago when fans were either entrenched in electronic music camps or indie rock camps and the paths rarely crossed. Of course this has all changed in the last 5 years or so and everything just kind of coexists now.


Whereas Todd's previous work was rooted in the electronic genre, with this album he employs more traditional instrumentation focusing on gently meandering guitars smoothly easing out bedroom pop that will work its way into your ears like a spring breeze blowing through a screen door. Enjoy the following two tracks and then pick up the album next month.

Crushed Stars - All Lovers Are Blind : Gossamer Days

Crushed Stars - Clare Grogan's Scar : Gossamer Days

Visit their website, their label Simulacra Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Christopher Willits and Ryuichi Sakamoto

Although their names might not instantly ring any bells, Christopher Willits and Ryuchi Sakamoto are two talented individuals who have come together to produce Ocean Fire, a sublime soundtrack for the ocean.

Sakamoto has been producing ground breaking music for decades, including his work with Yellow Magic Orchestra, the Japanese pioneers who along with Kraftwerk led the development of electronic music. He's also composed numerous film scores, most famoulsy for The Last Emperor. Willits, a youngster in comparison to Sakamoto, doesn't have quite as lengthy resume, but his computer work with guitars has gained him renown in the avant-garde electronic world and he's been involved with numerous collaborations.

The pair have stretched each other's limits with this album. At times sonically fuzzy and turbulent, other times velvety smooth and rippleless, the music very much mirrors the surface of the oceans which the pair claim as their inspiration for the album. It's an electronic ambient album that has a sonic immenseness to it that at times seems too large to comprehend, while at other times inhaling to a couple of solid notes that resonate solidly. It's out February 12th here in the States, but if you can't wait it's available as an import.

Christopher Willits and Ryuichi Sakamoto - Toward Water : Ocean Fire


Christopher Willits - Orange Lit Spaces
: Surf Boundaries

Ryuichi Sakamoto - Riot In Lagos : The Kings Of Electro (Disc 1 Playgroup)

Friday, January 18, 2008

I'll lead you upstairs...

I care little for my body she said
I couldn't care less about my soul
and as she led me upstairs in whispers
my whole summer turned cold

David Gray - Lead Me Upstairs : A Century Ends

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Two Man Gentlemen Band

Sporting fancy hats and tailored suits, The Two Man Gentlemen Band might bring back memories of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Swingers. Listening to their music will certainly make you ask what ever happened to those Squirrel Nut Zippers guys?

The two men referred to in the band's name are Andy Bean, banjoist, huckster and master of ceremonies, and his friend The Councilman on bass. Each is a master kazooist and badminton enthusiast, and together they combine hot jazz, old-time country, Tin Pan Alley and vaudevillian swing to create an old-fashioned, down-home hootenanny. Listening to their third album, Heavy Petting - which is out February 12th, is like hopping in a time machine and traveling back to the early 20th century.

And while swing dancing isn't making a comeback anytime soon, The TMGB has a lot to offer a listener: Clever, quirky tunes, an obvious desire to entertain for entertainment's sake, and kazoos (they're officially sponsored by Who can possibly resist kazoos??? And with songs like When Your Lips Are Playing My Kazoo, I'm not sure where your mind wanders to, but I know where mine goes.

The Two Man Gentlemen Band - William Howard Taft : Heavy Petting

The Two Man Gentlemen Band - When Your Lips Are Playing My Kazoo : Heavy Petting

Visit their website, their label Serious Business Records, and become their friend on MySpace.


Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - You & Me & The Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)
: Swingers Soundtrack

Squirrel Nut Zippers - Twilight
: Hot

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I don't get to the theaters very often to see many movies. As Austin Powers would say, It's not my bag baby! Regardless, I do listen to a fair amount of soundtracks, and recently I happened to get the one for the new(ish) Jason Reitman film Juno.

One thing you might notice looking over the track listing below is the abundance of Kimya Dawson (who I coincidentally mentioned a few weeks ago when talking about her appearance on the Terrordactyls album). Ellen Page, the actress who plays the pregnant main character in the film, actually picked Kimya Dawson herself when asked what she though her character might listen to. Although Kimya's songs steal the (audio) show here, and I absolutely love them all, the soundtrack as a whole has a really nice blend of music fun (Barry Louis Polisar), old (The Kinks and Buddy Holly), indie (Belle & Sebastian and Cat Power), and original (Ellen Page and Michael Cera - from the movie). Here's the album's run-down:

1. "All I Want Is You" Barry Louis Polisar
2. "Rollercoaster" Juno Film Version - Kimya Dawson
3. "A Well Respected Man" The Kinks
4. "Dearest" Buddy Holly
5. "Up The Spout" Mateo Messina
6. "Tire Swing" Kimya Dawson
7. "Piazza, New York Catcher" Belle & Sebastian
8. "Loose Lips" Kimya Dawson
9. "Superstar" Sonic Youth
10. "Sleep" Instrumental - Kimya Dawson
11. "Expectations" Belle & Sebastian
12. "All The Young Dudes" Mott The Hoople
13. "So Nice So Smart" Kimya Dawson
14. " Sea of Love " Cat Power
15. "Tree Hugger" Kimya Dawson and Antsy Pants
16. "I'm Sticking With You" Velvet Underground
17. "Anyone Else but You" The Moldy Peaches
18. "Vampire" Antsy Pants
19. "Anyone Else But You" Ellen Page and Michael Cera

The soundtrack is available now digitally and physically, so enjoy the following two tracks while you're waiting for your copy to arrive. And if you're going to be in Boston this Thursday, the 17th, Kimya Dawson will be performing at the Juno soundtrack CD release party at Newbury Comics ( 332 Newbury Street , Boston ) at 7pm.

Barry Louis Polisar - All I Want Is You : Juno Soundtrack

Kimya Dawson - Loose Lips : Juno Soundtrack

Monday, January 14, 2008

Eels contest

Over the last dozen years or so, Mark Oliver Everett (aka E) has pulled together an ever changing cast of characters to perform a diverse range of music under the band name The Eels. Tomorrow, he's poised to release a pair of albums that highlight a decade of audio accomplishments:

The first of the pair is titled MEET THE EELS: Essential EELS Vol. I, 1996-2006 (CD+DVD), and it includes two discs: one containing 24 audio tracks, and one DVD with 11 videos. The tracks on the audio CD span the group's creative output over the decade with tracks from their releases as well as a couple additional tracks (a live version of Dirty Girl and the unreleased Get Ur Freak On).

The second, and perhaps more interesting for die-hard Eels fans, is titled EELS Useless Trinkets: B-Sides, Soundtracks, Rarities and Unreleased 1996-2006, which easily tops their last digital rarities release B-Sides & Rarities 1996-2003 by including a mouth watering 50 tracks split between two audio CDs AND an additional DVD with footage from Lollapalooza 2006. Some of the songs include longtime concert favorite Living Life from the Daniel Johnston tribute album, the previously unreleased 2006 cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I Put A Spell On You and other covers including James Carr’s Dark End of The Street and Prince’s If I Was Your Girlfriend. There are also a large handful of BBC performances, unique live versions of Novocaine For The Soul and My Beloved Monster, and tracks from films (The End Of Violence, Holes, Levity and How The Grinch Stole Christmas).

You can check out the full track listings for both at the Eels website.

The only thing better than the fact that both of these are coming out tomorrow is that I have one copy of each to give away to lucky readers. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment (or e-mail me) with your name and e-mail address. Next Mondayish I'll randomly pick two different winners to give them away to. Since you might just be interested in one or the other, when you enter tell me if you are yearning for the Essential Eels discs, the Useless Trinkets discs, or whatever you can get for free!

Eels - Can't Help Falling in Love (Elvis cover) : B-Sides & Rarities 1996-2003 (no longer available - is on Useless Trinkets)

Eels - Saturday Morning : Music From The OC: Mix 2 (is on Essential Eels)

Visit their website and become their friend on MySpace.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday Soul - Sam Cooke

From the Queen of Soul last week, to the King of Soul this week. From my jukebox to yours...

Sam Cooke - Another Saturday Night : Another Saturday Night 7"

Sam Cooke - Love Will Find A Way : Another Saturday Night 7" B-side

Sam Cooke - Lonely Island : Lonely Island 7"

Sam Cooke - You Were Made For Me : Lonely Island 7" B-side

Sam Cooke - I'll Come Running Back To You : I'll Come Running Back To You 7"

Sam Cooke - Forever : I'll Come Running Back To You 7" B-side

Sunday Spotlight - Say Hi

Eric Elbogen is back, giving us more of the sound that we've grown to love from his previous albums as Say Hi To Your Mom. This time around though he's pulled a reverse Prince move and has shortened his band's name to simply Say Hi. Same great sound, less filling name. His latest album is titled The Wished and the Glitch, and I was fortunate enough to be able to ask him some questions about the album in general as well as one of favorite tracks on the album, Magic Beans and Truth Machines.

By now, you should know the drill. Unoriginal questions in black are mine, entertaining responses in red are his. Here's the song to listen to while you read the story behind it:


What's the story behind the song?

This one actually ended up being one of my favorites from the record, but it was a very last minute addition to the batch of songs. It’s also a lot shorter than what I usually do. I’ve read some things about this song already that I find funny, like the fact that some folks think that “magic beans” are a drug reference. It’s actually quite simply a Jack and The Beanstalk reference. I guess that’s too innocent of an explanation. Anyway, here they’re intended as a metaphor for anything that gets you away from the dreariness of ordinary living, The fact that the love interest in the song tells the protagonist that these useless (to him) things will “work like a charm” is, in my opinion, pretty telling about what their relationship is like. Either she’s a liar or they expect different things from the beans.

Is there a specific girl that you had in mind when writing it?

Yes, most of the record is about one girl. Although, as is often the situation, various traits of many girls I’ve known creep in at certain times. In this case, for example, the girl offering the magic bean and the girl suggesting the truth serum may be based on two different girl.

Is it autobiographical?

Um, no, I guess. Not in the literal sense anyway.

Are you playing all the instruments on the track?

Yes, I played all the instruments on the whole record. My friend Nouela, who has done some touring with me sings some on this track. So does John Roderick from The Long Winters.

What came first: the lyrics or the instrumentation?

In stark contrast to the way I usually work, the lyrics actually came first on this one, but only because they were written as part of another song that I ended up scrapping. I did that a lot on this record. There are even a bunch of places where I recorded the vocals as part of one song, threw out everything but the vocal track and recorded a completely different song around the initial vocal track. It came up with some interesting results. In my opinion at least.

Here are some general questions about the album:

1.) So what's the full story behind the shortening the name? Too many "your mama" jokes?

No, I got sued. (not really)

2.) How, if at all, did moving to Seattle affect the creation of this album?

Well, I think the move itself sparked some creativity, but that would have happened regardless of where I moved. I guess if I had decided to move to Arizona, the first track would have ended up being called “Southwestern Girls,” instead of “Northwestern Girls.”

3.) On your MySpace page you claim to sound like "the moment just before orgasm." We'd like to thing that as a constantly evolving musical genius your music will change and progress. Keeping that in mind, with your next album are you hoping to sound like the orgasm itself or the moment after orgasm?

No. I hear what you’re saying, but the moment before is the most interesting. During and after is just the beginning of the next quest to reach the moment before, all over again, and the most boring part of the quest at that. There are still plenty of ways to describe this that I haven’t yet explored. When I’ve exhausted all those ways, I’ll retire and go work at Circuit City.


The album is officially out February 5th, but you can get it now from the group's website.

Say Hi - Northwestern Girls : The Wishes And The Glitch

Say Hi - Magic Beans And Truth Machines : The Wishes And The Glitch

Visit his website and become his friend on MySpace.


Say Hi To Your Mom - They Write Books About This Sort of Thing
: Discosadness

Say Hi To Your Mom - Pop Music Of The Future : Numbers & Mumbles

Say Hi To Your Mom - Yeah, I'm Love With An Android
: Ferocious Mopes

Say Hi To Your Mom - Blah Blah Blah : Impeccable Blahs

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Earlier this week saw the release of Sia's third album, titled Some People Have Real Problems. Sia Fuller is not new to the scene, obviously. Besides all the attention this latest release is receiving, she's also know as the vocalist for Zero 7 (you can hear one of their tracks below) and made a splash in the U.S. back in 2005 when her song Breathe Me was featured in the final episode of the HBO cable television series Six Feet Under.

Looking at the album might give you the impression that Sia is another teenie bopper singing about summer crushes and trips to the mall. Truth is, I don't think the cover could be any more misleading. Sia's voice is that of a woman. A real Woman - capital W. It's full, strong, and sweeps through a wide vocal ranges smoothly and effortlessly. It conveys more than just 20-something carefreeness - it conveys real emotion with a strong swirl of soul that makes your heart ache.

Once you start savoring the album, check your calendar and the tour dates below to figure out when you can catch her live.

Sia - Day Too Soon : Some People Have Real Problems

Sia - Academia (with Beck) : Some People Have Real Problems

Visit her website and become her friend on MySpace.


Zero 7 (Sia on vocals) - Destiny : Simple Things

Sia - Paranoid Android (Radiohead cover) : Exit Music (Radiohead Tribute)

Upcoming Tour Dates
  • 2/15 San Diego, CA @ Belly Up
  • 2/16 Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
  • 2/18 San Francisco, CA @ Fillmore
  • 2/19 Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
  • 2/20 Vancouver, BC @ Richard's on Richards
  • 2/21 Seattle, WA @ Showbox
  • 2/23 Salt Lake City, UT @ Avalon Theater
  • 2/24 Boulder, CO @ Fox Theatre
  • 2/26 Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music
  • 2/27 Miwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall
  • 2/29 Chicago, IL @ Metro
  • 3/01 Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
  • 3/03 Toronto, ON @ Mod Club
  • 3/04 Montreal, QC @ Les Saints
  • 3/05 Boston, MA @ Paradise
  • 3/07 Washington, DC @ 9:30
  • 3/08 New York NY @ Webster Hall
  • 3/10 Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
  • 3/11 New Orleans, LA @ Parish @ HOB
  • 3/12 Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live
  • 3/14 Austin, TX @ Stubbs Bar-B-Q
  • 3/15 Dallas, TX @ House of Blues

Friday, January 11, 2008

Steve Dawson (from north of the border)

As if running his label Black Hen Music wasn't enough, Steve Dawson (the one from Vancouver, Canada, not to be confused with the one from Idaho) decided to record two albums worth of material in one year. Most of the songs were recorded in the same sessions using the same musicians, and the first of the pair of albums, Waiting For the Lights to Come Up, is scheduled to be released February 5th.

Steve is a musician in many different ways. He runs his own label, and besides recording his own material, produces some of the acts on the label as well. For his production work he has been named Producer of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards and twice at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. He has produced 7 Juno nominated albums, and has 4 Juno Awards for albums that he has produced or in which he has been a featured musician. Not too shabby to say the least.

That being said, one would expect Steve to be a consummate performer himself, and listening to this album will certainly offer some convincing proof. It's a filling collection of tracks which bring in influences that run the gamut of Americana. Blues, jazz, soul, country - it's all here in measured amounts that are equally convincing. There are no quick cheap thrills here. Steve knows how to slowly add instruments into alignment with each other to build some well constructed tunes. Listen to Fire Somewhere below to get a taste of some Delta blues. The second track below, Walking Down the Line, builds up steam like a train and you can feel it chugging down the tracks.

The second album of the pair, Telescope, will be released in late summer or early fall of this year. Until then, enjoy the following tracks and pick up Waiting For the Lights to Come Up.

Steve Dawson - Fire Somewhere : Waiting For the Lights to Come Up

Steve Dawson - Walking Down the Line : Waiting For the Lights to Come Up

and one from his last album:

Steve Dawson - Slip By : We Belong to the Gold Coast

Visit his label Black Hen Music and become his friend on MySpace.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Folsom Prison Revisited

"Thank you very much, thank you very much. I'm sorry about that little interruption there but I just wanted to tell you that this show is being recorded for an album released on Columbia records and you can't say hell or shit or anything like that."

-Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison

As live albums go, it really doesn't get much better than Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison, and I genuinely mean that. Incredible music (including a song written by one of the inmates - Greystone Chapel, which you can listen to below), incredible venue (including calls by guards for prisoners and the warden welcoming Johnny and his father), and an obviously incredible connection between performer and audience. That being said, when I saw this news flash, I couldn't just sit on it. If only he was here to play the return engagement himself. We miss you Johnny.

UPDATE: So after posting this this morning, I found out this afternoon that it's been canceled. Totally lame and a real shame that such an opportunity will be missed. Sorry about the false alarm. You can still enjoy a song from the first time around at the bottom.


Cash Drummer WS Holland to Lead Band in Free Concert for Folsom Inmates

HOLLYWOOD: On January 13, 2008, forty years to the day, longtime Johnny Cash drummer, W.S. "Fluke" Holland will lead his band in a return to Folsom State Prison in Northern California to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the recording of "Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison," widely considered to be the best live album ever made.

Johnny Cash's performance on January 13, 1968, was a seminal moment in music and pop culture history. Released by Columbia records in the summer of 1968, "Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison" made a 90-week assault on the country music charts, peaking at Number 1 for three weeks in July and August.

The story was the same on the pop charts, where the album spent an incredible 122 weeks in the Top 200. In 2003, the National Recording Preservation Board chose "Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison" for its select list of recordings to be preserved for posterity in the Library of Congress.

At the 1968 Grammy Awards, Johnny Cash was named Best Male Country Music Vocalist for "Folsom Prison Blues." In 1969, he won an unprecedented five Country Music Awards, setting a record that remains unbroken to this day. But Cash's success surprised everyone. Just two months before he recorded at Folsom prison, Johnny Cash was, for all intents and purposes "finished" in the music business.

Cash's addiction to amphetamines, barbiturates and alcohol, which began in the late 1950s, had overtaken the singer by the mid-1960s. While Cash was never incarcerated in prison (a popular misconception), he was jailed several times on "drunk and disorderly" charges. In October 1965, Cash was famously arrested in El Paso, Texas, for smuggling pills across the border from Mexico.

By 1967, Johnny Cash was missing more shows than he played. The Johnny Cash Show, as his traveling act was called, was then being referred to by music insiders as "Johnny 'No Show' Cash." In October 1967, contemplating suicide, Cash claimed to have crawled inside Nickajack Cave near Chattanooga, Tennessee, only to hear God telling him to go on.

After spending the month of November 1967 undergoing rehab at his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee, the singer emerged clean and sober and recommitted to God and to his career. Less than two months later, Johnny Cash recorded at Folsom prison. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The "40th Anniversary of 'Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison'" is replete with history and coincidence. The free concert will feature several members of Cash's original group. Most notable is drummer W.S. "Fluke" Holland [a special guest vocalist will be introduced at the show!].

Mr. Holland, who joined the Cash group in 1960, kept the beat for the 1968 concert at Folsom. Mr. Holland worked behind Cash for nearly 40 years and was the only member of the band never to have been fired by "The Man In Black."

"I'm just tickled pink about goin' back to Folsom after all these years and doin' it all over again," said Mr. Holland from his home in Jackson, Tennessee. "I think John would be tickled pink too," he added.

Coincidentally, Jonathan Holiff, son of the late Saul Holiff, Johnny Cash's personal manager from 1960 to 1973, will produce the 40th anniversary event. Saul Holiff, a Canadian entrepreneur, started promoting Johnny Cash and The Tennessee Two in 1958. After becoming Cash's manager, it was Holiff who put his client together with June Carter on December 7, 1961.

In an interview he gave to WHN Radio's Ed Salamon in 1980, Cash recalled how the two started working together. "In late '61 we played the Big D in Dallas, Texas, and my manager, Saul Holiff, said, 'We need a girl singer on the show tonight. They want more than just you and your band.' And I said, 'Well, get one.'

He said, 'What do you think about June Carter?' I said, 'I've always been a fan of hers' and I had, you know. I loved her work. I said, 'Get her if you can.' So we booked June Carter on the Big D in Dallas and then that night my manager asked if she would work the next tour with us. So she did," Cash said.

"I'm a big fan of the movie 'Walk The Line,' said the younger Holiff. "But the average person who goes to see a biopic, believes what they see is fact. 'Walk The Line' was a great love story, but those scenes with Johnny and June riding in the same car with Jerry Lee Lewis, traveling from gig to gig in the late 1950s, for example, never happened," Jonathan said.

The 40th anniversary event was a happy accident. After Saul Holiff's suicide in 2005, Jonathan discovered his father's secret storage locker. "My father had kept everything from his years with Johnny," said Jonathan. "In addition to hundreds of letters, photographs and Cash memorabilia of all kinds, I was shocked to discover he also kept an audio diary from 1966 right up until the time he died. Not only had he shared his most private thoughts, he recounted his experiences with Cash - as they happened. I had stumbled upon the 'inside story' of Johnny Cash," added Jonathan.

Having been estranged from his father for 20 years, Jonathan started writing about the experience. "I needed closure. My father and I never got along. And when he took his own life, he didn't leave me a note." The product of that writing is a first-person, feature-length documentary - currently in production - called "My Father and The Man In Black." It was that documentary that brought Jonathan and his film crew to Folsom prison in September of last year.

"The people at Folsom couldn't have been nicer," said Jonathan. "I was there to get footage for my documentary and, having become friends with Fluke, I just threw out the idea to the Warden about having the band come back to play for the inmates. At the time, neither one of us had any idea the 40th anniversary was just around the corner," added Jonathan.

"Johnny Cash believed in redemption and reached out to those behind bars through his music and his actions," said Warden Matthew C. Kramer. "We are thrilled that we can honor his legacy through this concert, and invited inmates to attend as a reward for good behavior and for participation in in-prison programs to better themselves. These types of events are part of the state's broader commitment to rehabilitation, and the belief that by preparing inmates to successfully return to society as law-abiding citizens we improve public safety."

The event is a labor of love for all concerned. Not a single dollar of taxpayer money is being used to mount the show. Most of the production requirements are being donated or supplied "at cost" by nearly a dozen different vendors, including: the Folsom Tourism Bureau and Prison Fellowship Ministries.

Significantly, much of the staging and lighting costs are being underwritten by Prison Fellowship Ministries. PFM is the world's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families. It has programs in correctional facilities in all 50 U.S. states and 110 countries worldwide.

According to PFM's Joe Avila, Executive Director for Northern California and Nevada, "We see the Johnny Cash story as a story of redemption. Johnny Cash overcame great obstacles and dedicated his life to working for his fellow man. His faith in God kept him with us long enough to make a difference in this world. And he was one of this country's strongest advocates for prison inmates."

Redemption plays a leading role in the story of this anniversary event as well as in the original recording.'s Stephen Thomas Erlewine described it this way: "Part of the appeal of the record is the way Cash plays to the audience, selecting a set of songs that are all about prison, crime, murder, regret, loss, mother, God and loneliness." Knowing now what was happening in Cash's personal life right before the 1968 show, one can imagine how the singer was able to connect so effectively with the inmates that day.

The "40th Anniversary of 'Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison,'" will be filmed "live-to-tape," and "streamed" worldwide over the Internet at on Sunday, January 13, 2008. For security reasons, the show will not be broadcast live. Please visit the website for the official start time of the broadcast.

The Internet broadcast will be produced by Nate Pariente of iClips Network, L.L.C. based in St. Louis, Missouri, and Jonathan Holiff of The Hollywood-Madison Group, based in Los Angeles. The show will be directed by Jay Blakesberg, a television director and highly regarded photographer based in San Francisco.

The producers will be shooting interviews with the band, and with at least one inmate and one retired correctional officer, who were at the show in 1968. Later, those interviews will be edited into the recording of the live show and offered for sale to television and DVD.

Twenty per cent of all net proceeds will be donated to four participating non-profit organizations, including the California Inmate Welfare Fund and VOCAL Foundation/Justice for Murder Victims.