Sunday, November 28, 2010

fun. and Steel Train at Webster Hall 11/27/2010

fun. I hate your band’s name. You are completely un-Googleable, I never know if/when I should capitalize (plus what's with that period?) and it’s impossible to describe your sound without sounding punny. But you are, a FUN band. Your music is fun to listen to, fun to dance to, and you all look like you are having a great time up there.

Personal request: can you all please ignore all the drunken singing-along you may be able to pick up in these videos? It’s virtually impossible to not do at a fun. show.

A few minutes before the band took the stage, Tamara and I were already mad at them. “They better play ‘Be Calm.’” (They didn’t play it last time we saw them).

Nate Ruess and co. proceeded to play a rocking, high-energy FUN show.

Jack Antonoff plays guitar in fun. so Steel Train opened. They put on a stellar show that included a special appearance by Jack’s dad (adorable!) and an awesome, quiet version of “Road Song.”

Steel Train plays “You Are Dangerous” into the song they wrote for Yo Gabba Gabba “It’s Really Fun To Dance.” Also, Jack’s audience acknowledgment is excellent.

You Should Know About Anything But Animals

So, I have mentioned Anything But Animals in passing before, but after catching them again at Shea Stadium (no, not that Shea Stadium) a couple of weekends ago, I have become a full-fledged fan and they deserve their own You Should Know About post.

ABA is a two-man band comprised of Mike and Rob, former Berklee classmates of mine and two of the sweetest guys around. Their music is definitely loud and raw and shouty, but it’s also melodic and danceable. The recordings don’t really do them justice, make sure you catch them live. The shows are fun and sweaty and Mike and Rob wear matching red onesies so BONUS.

Peep their sound below and then head over to their Reverb Nation page to grab some free tracks. Also, email to get on their mailing list. The boys are quite humorous in their correspondence.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On Repeat - Thanksgiving 2010

My dad chooses the songs at Thanksgiving. While normally I’m incredibly itchy to play the newest ish on my iPod for anyone who will let me talk their ear off about my new favorite band, at Thanksgiving it seems appropriate to let the old man take over and fill the silence with American roots and roots-inspired songs. For this week’s On Repeat, here are the songs that mean the most to my family this time of year. You can listen to/download all the tracks here in case you need some background tuneage while your stuffing your face. Hey, can you guys tell that my cute little dragon dude is eating a turkey? Sorry Vegan friends…

***First, a disclaimer: when making any Thanksgiving playlist, one must make the decision to wholeheartedly embrace or completely ignore Arlo Guthrie’s epic song-story “Alice’s Restaurant Massacre.” I am of the opinion that it should be included. All of the classic rocks stations are going to be playing it, you might as well play it too. But as the track is a whopping 19 minutes long, I haven’t posted it here…I’m sure you can find it on your own.

UPDATE: A friend just pointed out that my dropbox links are acting all kinds of shady. Unfortunately don't have the means to correct them now, but hit me up if you want me to email you the mp3s ( Sorry!

The Band – When I Paint My Masterpiece

The original roots band, their early music sounded like they time travelled from 100 years ago and landed in a recording studio.

Bob Dylan – It’s All Right Ma, I’m Only Bleeding

This song always seems to make everyone in the room go silent and fall deep into introspection. Plus, the title could refer to some bizarre turkey carving incident. By the way, Dylan is totally This Week’s Show, even though I have to brave the horrors of Terminal 5 in order to cross him off my concert bucket list.

Crosby, Stills, and Nash – Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

A tour de force of song and vocals. We always listen to CSN around the holidays. I think it’s because of the warmth of their sound. Their harmonies always sound inclusive, like a group hug.

Simon and Garfunkel – America

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are from the same neighborhood in Queens that my family is from, so “America” feels especially roots-y for us.

Johnny Cash – Long Black Veil

“Long Black Veil” is one of my favorite folk songs of all time. The story is sad and frightening but heartbreakingly beautiful. And Johnny Cash is pretty much a given in the American roots movement.

Lyle Lovett – If I Had A Boat

I’ve always had such a soft spot for this song. One of the first songs I learned to play on guitar, the image of a man and a pony in a small rowboat in the middle of the ocean has never failed to make me smile when I’m feeling down. And the sense of freedom the words evoke makes it seem like everything is always going to be OK.

Chris Smither – Origin of Species

A great guitar player and songwriter with an American sense of humor.

John Prine – Illegal Smile

John Prine is an American treasue, turning simple song structure into poignant statements and barbed commentaries. That mostly make you smile knowingly.

John Hiatt – Crossing Muddy Waters

Timeless American songwriter, but this is kind of an anti-Thanksgiving song, about the anguish of a family break up.

Bonnie Raitt – Angel From Montgomery

Ms. Raitt’s version of the John Prine song at the No Nukes concert is the definitive version of the song. Period.

Ry Cooder – Across the Borderline

Ry Cooder is the Master Gardener of American music, the Roots Master. Here he teams with John Hiatt on a story of the perils of reaching for the American Dream.

The Subdudes – (You’ll Be) Satisifed

This band absorbs the full gumbo of American music and serves up something unique and soulful each time (har har).

Alison Krauss and Robert Plant – Please Read The Letter

My favorite song from last year’s spectacular collaborative album, their voices blend together way better than your mom’s lumpy mashed potatoes.

James McMurtry – Choctaw Bingo

This is the story of perhaps the most dysfunctional family get together on record, so completely appropriate for Thanksgiving.

Joe Ely – All Just To Get To You

Joe is a West Texas songwriter par excellence, and this song talks about traveling home.

J. J. Cale – Cajun Moon

Another great Texas songwriter. He’s been covered so many times that he has become the root.

The Derek Trucks Band – Down In The Flood

Trucks is a relative newbie in the genre of roots music, but he sounds like he’s been playing forever.

Josh Ritter – The Curse

This song is the perfect song for a family get together…when you’re my family. Ritter is a favorite of my dad and this song is about a mummy from Egypt, the country my mother’s family is from. Plus, anything Josh Ritter writes is just pretty much perfect.

Have a good one you guys!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On Repeat - 11/17/2010

I was a bit indecisive this week, so today's On Repeat playlist is super-sized.

Long time infinity yeah faves Savoir Adore released new song “Loveliest Creature” on their website earlier this week (for free)! The track has classic Savoir Adore elements: driving rock guitars, Paul’s unique yell-singing, Deidre’s sweet soprano, and trippy lyrics.

Whoa you guys, what happened to Acrylics? Relentless 2009 blog coverage, a pretty much universally acclaimed EP, even catching them quite a few times at CMJ 2009 had failed to make me a fan. But I’m really digging “Nightwatch” the first track released from their debut full-length Lives and Treasure, out early next year. It’s clean and soulful and Molly Shea’s vocals are honey-smooth. Well-played guys.

Basically, Robyn can’t do anything right now that I won’t get into. “Call Your Girlfriend” takes all those generic break-up phrases we’ve all been on the receiving end of and turns them into something you don’t actually mind hearing again and again. Pop music gold.

The Streets - 4 O'Clock

What is it about thick Britsh accents that make even ridiculous silly/violent lyrics so sexy? By the way, can’t find a download link to this song, help a homegirl out?

Wavves + Best Coast - Got Something For You

I’m getting a bit sick of these two, with their nauseatingly adorable Twitter feeds, matching Pitchfork scores, and now their co-headlining tour this winter. It’s also way too early to be listening to Christmas songs (the holiday season doesn’t officially start until you see Mr. Claus at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, now you know). But they keep my attention by making undeniably catchy music. Plus, it’s really cute to hear Bethany take on the high-pitched “ooos” Nathan usually features in his songs. Stream the track over at Target’s (Target, really?) website.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

On Repeat - 11/10/2010

In one of my past lives I must have been a snot-nosed, barely legal, lo-fi rocker boy because guys like Dylan Baldi are making the music that excites me the most right now. NME posted the lead-off track of Cloud Nothings' first full-length due in January from Carpark. The recording is slightly more polished than the band's earlier stuff, but it retains all the same charm.

After the opening strings, the tempo of Patrick Wolf's "Time Of My Life" falls perfectly in line with the speed at which I walk to work in the mornings (I'm usually running late). Being that in sync and elatedly singing "happy without you" over and over again is a brilliant way to start any day.

When Shimmering Stars originally found their way into my iPod, I didn't give them too much thought. But I update my playlists every night and these boys have stayed on there for months. It's more of that fuzzy, Beach Boys-inspired stuff I can't seem to get enough of.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Album Review: Matt & Kim's Sidewalks

If you don’t know, now you know: I’ve made personal promises to myself to never apologize for the music I love, to never classify something as a guilty pleasure, and to never be a music snob. I quite often fail at the last two. How can 80s hair metal be anything but a guilty pleasure? And I couldn’t hide the look of superiority on my face when this weekend a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (Raphael) asked me if I had heard of this “hot new band” Broken Bells.

Today/yesterday Brooklyn couple Matt & Kim released their third LP Sidewalks and I’ve read some pretty scathing blog comments of not just the record, but of the band as well. I understand that Matt & Kim don’t necessarily display virtuosity on their respective instruments, but I don’t listen to music to judge other people’s technical ability. I listen to music to make myself feel good. I fell in love with Matt & Kim because their attitude is overwhelmingly positive and their songs are catchy and impossible not to dance to. This record is the natural progression of those ideas. Normally, perpetually happy people make me want to scream but M&K’s constant grins don’t exclude me from their euphoria. Seeing them smile makes me smile.

Sidewalks is definitely a bit more monotone and less inventive than earlier M&K efforts, but it still holds up pretty nicely. “Cameras” is definitely the standout track of the record. It sounds the most like their old stuff, just a bit more polished and sophisticated. It’s also a bit behind the beat, adding a bluesy feel to their normally right-in-the-pocket rhythms. Sidewalks starts to really shine once it slows down a little. For a band usually known for being better the faster the song is, tunes like the perfect sing-along “Where You’re Coming From” and the excellent “Good For Great” prove that M&K don’t have to shy away from slower tempos. Another highlight is “Silver Tiles,” a long-overdue studio version of one of the first songs Matt & Kim ever wrote.

I went to see Matt & Kim at Webster Hall last Tuesday night and the crowd has definitely changed since I first started going to their shows. It’s younger and therefore more annoying. Or maybe I’m just getting older and more jaded. So I can understand the haters discounting Matt & Kim as a teenybopper band whose gleeful shtick has worn too thin. But things that have always remained constant are Matt and Kim’s genuine modesty, unrivaled enthusiasm for what they do, and their uncanny ability to elicit some of the biggest dance parties I’ve ever been a part of. You can’t argue with that.

Catch a shoddy video of Matt & Kim covering ODB's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" into their own "Spare Change" and then moving on to "Grand" below. Must make a mental note to start playing the drums so I can get Kim's awesome arms.

Also, I wasn’t supposed to blog this week so I thought I’d throw in a few random treats. If I were to do a This Week’s Show this week, it would definitely be French Horn Rebellion at Glasslands on Saturday.

Saw Local Natives at Webster Hall on Saturday night, the last night of their tour. They were incredible as always. Wish I had gotten a better video, but my camera's battery was running out. For what it’s worth, here’s what I managed to capture of "Airplanes," still beautiful, even when cut short:

And for good measure, Matt & Kim booty dancing on top of the crowd: