Tuesday, May 20, 2008

music catch up

Devotchka at the Paradise

Random music notes:

E and I saw DeVotchKa at the Paradise on Sunday--absolutely amazing. The review should be on mel.opho.be soon [Ed.-here it is!]. NPR is streaming their show at the 9:30 club in DC. It's the same exact show as the Boston one. Nick doesn't even change the stage banter between songs.

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Speaking of streaming, here you can listen to ScoJo's Anyway I Lay My Head, the long-awaited Tom Waits cover album. I love ScoJo. I hate this album so much, I want to smash my computer speakers against a wall.

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Part 1 of the The Acorn interview is up.

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Here's stereogum's coverage of the Beirut show in Brooklyn. On a somewhat related note, E and I went to Petit Robert Bistro tonight. The lobster bisque was too salty, but a Hendricks martini can make anything taste better. The maitre 'd looked just like Zach Condon. This totally made my day. During dinner, E and I debated who is better, Beirut or DeVotchKa? Though my recent blog obsession with Beirut would convince you otherwise, I sided with DeVotchKa. I love the polished, masterful performance of DeVotchKa. E likes the drunken, laid back, improv style of Beirut. I like it, too, but sometimes Zach's voice is a little too much for me to take. On the contrary, Nick Urata's voice sounds just like butter.

Stereogum has a video of Beirut's "Nantes" from the Brooklyn show here:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Flight of the Conchords show report

Word from the sister in Denver is that the Flight of the Conchords show was awesome. To quote her: "they had some mess ups, and brett got a leg cramp, almost fell off his chair, that kind of stuff just makes it funny b/c they roll with it."

She alerted me to this new song, which is pretty funny--all about ex-girlfriends singing in a choir. This video's from my hometown Upper Darby, PA. I haven't been to the Tower since Counting Crows in 1999.

Friday, May 16, 2008

ESD#46: your weekend homework

I have three questions for you, all of which I have not been able to answer, even with my superb internet research skills:

1. Does the sound that precedes the "Heroes" "previously on" montages come from Love Spit Love's cover of the Smiths' "How Soon is Now?" I believe the answer is yes. If so, I demand they get royalty checks so they can record again--though I believe I might be the only living and breathing Love Spit Love fan. [Ed.-Oh, snap! Hold on, now. Who knew Richard Butler's been doing solo work? Man, I will eat up anything this man produces.] on a related note...

2. Did McDonalds steal the beat behind the "I'm lovin' it" commercials from D'Angelo's "S.D.M.?"

3. Where can I get the 50 Cent Vitamin Water ad where he's reading the Wall Street Journal? The one they had plastered all over the subways?


I gotta hand it to them. They looked like they were having a lot of fun. And wearing suits was a great balance to the weirdness of singing songs and dancing moves meant for 15-year-olds. Contrary to my prediction, Jordan did not walk off the stage. But I think that's because they put him front and center and let him sing lead for most of the time. Joey only had "Please Don't Go Girl." Here's the clip:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

3rd Beirut post in a row

Here's the latest on Beirut. In the interview, Zach explains the Oaxaca inspired music. But more importantly, he says he's "going back soon."

I've been wanting to take E to Oaxaca forever. In fact, we've been mulling a summer trip to who knows where. I know where! I know where! Oaxaca's a small town, and Zach's a tall, skinny boy, so I think we could find him. The ex-pat arts community kind of sticks together down there, too. Holy cow, we gotta go! From The Stranger:
"I'm working on [a new album] right now as we speak. I went down to Mexico to do that, and I'm going back soon, after this tour—finishing what I've started."

Have you been hearing a lot of mariachi or norteño there?

Actually, it's not mariachi or norteño that I've been listening to. The story is this: I was going to do this soundtrack, but I ended up not doing it because they wanted more of a string quartet kind of feel and I couldn't do that. But the reference material they sent me was all from the far south of Mexico, in Oaxaca. It was all these bands that consisted entirely of Zapotec natives and they were all doing these kind of dirgey funeral marches with 17-piece brass bands. There was something so naive and martial in that music that I really fell in love with. It had nothing to do, actually, with mariachi or norteño. To be honest, it sounded more like what klezmer music is supposed to be or something. The raw exposed nerve of the music really struck a chord with me, maybe that will do it some justice."

Beirut tackling Oaxaca music?

I think it's safe to say that it'll be another year or so before Beirut tours again. Read this article. And who am I kidding about going to NY this weekend? We're going to the DeVotchKa show on Sunday, and I don't want to miss that, not even for Beirut.

What's crazy about that article is that Zach talks about writing new songs based on some sort of Oaxacan music, though he never defines it by name. This is confusing to me. I've been to Oaxaca--it's one of my favorite places on earth. But I sure don't remember music being the highlight there. In fact, I attended an atrocious jazz concert where the band played (no joke) the Mario Brothers theme song. I did attend a lovely violin recital at the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca. And I did watch some great music-filled wedding processions outside of Santo Domingo. But I don't remember any kind of unique Oaxacan music.

[Ed.-I realize that last paragraph was pretty ignorant. Like I don't know how to google? This article claims a "distinctive baroque cathedral music," which is sort of what I alluded to in my wedding processions comment and is certainly up Zach's alley.]

Well, my interest is piqued. Can't wait to see what Zach Condon comes up with next--though it looks like I might be waiting a long time.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008



Beirut just scheduled a last minute show in Brooklyn.

I was planning a trip to NYC the following weekend, but I might have to reschedule to this weekend.


[from Brooklyn Vegan]

Montreal road trip - who's with me?

It's settled. We have to go to the Montreal Jazz Fest to see Leonard Cohen. I don't even care if there are cheesy saxophones backing him. Who's with me?

Video from a recent show in New Brunswick via stereogum:

concert round-up

Our week of being crazy rock stars has come to a close. I really hope to never see four shows in six nights again. Unless it's a full-time job. Quick synopses:

The Acorn
I interviewed The Acorn and reviewed their show at the Great Scott (the interview's not posted yet). Their latest album, which I've mentioned a couple times here, is fantastic. You haven't bought it yet? Buy it: Glory Hope Mountain.

After the show, I realized that early Acorn sounds a lot like Wheat (later stuff, not at all). Yes, the similarities do not end at their hard to google names. After further investigating my theory, I found out that Wheat is recording a new album! Kyle, you still read this blog? Hook a sister up with a mel.opho.be exclusive! They're your friends, no? Wheat recording gives me hope that the little indie bands you're afraid will quit if they don't see much commercial success actually do stick around after many, many years [Ed.-I said this all wrong. Wheat is actually pretty commercially successful. What I meant is that you don't expect indie bands to be able to support themselves after many years. OK, maybe I just said the same thing, but whatever].

Here's the comparison:

The Acorn - Blankets [from Kelp Records]
Wheat - Girl Singer [from Wheat's music archive, where you can download all their music for free (crazy, no?)]

El Perro del Mar, Lykke Li and Anna Ternheim
Word of advice: before seeing waif-like Swedish songstresses, do not eat at Redbones. As you find bits of crusted bbq sauce in the corners of your mouth while viewing tall, blonde Nordic goddesses, you will feel like a disgusting, American slob. But damn if those ribs weren't tasty!

E reviewed the show here, so now we're concert reviewing partners in crime. Awesome.

Death Cab for Cutie
I like Death Cab as much as the next person, but, man. It was boring as all get out. Honestly, isn't straight up rock 'n roll so boring? I wish Gibbard had played some Postal Service songs-then at least there would've been some quirky synthesizer/drum machine action.

Cut Copy + Black Kids
We had tons of fun at this show, despite it being a Monday night. It was kind of funny taking the T home with folks who left the Cure concert a block down the street at Agganis Arena. Fans of 80's legends and new New Wave all in one subway car. I'll let you know when my review is up at mel.opho.be.

Monday, May 12, 2008

4 more days...

Four more days until New Kids on the Block perform on the Today Show. Can you stand it?! This video of them rehearsing with "Step by Step" as the soundtrack is absolutely hysterical. Jordan looks so miserable, like he might just walk out of the studio (which I predict he'll do on stage). At one point you can see two of them (I assume Donny and Danny) dancing with their pants below their white boxer shorts. It's so awesomely bad, guys. I can't wait.

ESD#45: tales from shopping

On my lunch break today, I went to the Eddie Bauer Outlet to buy a nalgene bottle. I didn't find a bottle, but I was surprised by how much I liked the clothes. Paul Simon's Rhythm of the Saints was playing, and I thought how it's so odd that Vampire Weekend et.al. name drop Graceland, but don't acknowledge Rhythm of the Saints, which is one of my all-time favorite albums. As I stood there contemplating cargo pants and Paul Simon, I realized that I might be the most boring person on the planet. So I ran out of the store like I had diamonds on the soles of my shoes.

I went instead to the Army Navy surplus store, which made my inner 15-year-old shriek with glee. Memories of Ocean City New Jersey boardwalk shopping came flooding back to me. Snow Patrol was playing, so I guess Army Navy patrons are approximately 10% cooler than Eddie Bauer patrons. I found my bottle and debated whether buying E a Carhatt skull cap to match Luke's would be creepy or funny.

I hate shopping.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Nat Baldwin album review: Most Valuable Player

I wrote a review of Nat Baldwin's latest album Most Valuable Player over here at mel.opho.be. But if you head over there, what you should really read is this review of Jimmy Cliff playing on a flippin' mountain in Switzerland! What?! And I thought it was cool when someone sang "The Harder They Come" at karaoke Saturday night. By the way, E and I stumbled upon the best Saturday night karaoke in town: Flann O'Brien's in Mission Hill.

Monday, May 5, 2008

taking a break from blogging

I'm taking a week or two off from blogging, mostly because I'm attending and reviewing four concerts this week (I'll let you know when they're posted on mel.opho.be). Since I've heard that some of my friends (shockingly) heed my music advice, I'll leave you with a few thoughts to hold you over.

First, (Boston friends) come to these shows with me!

- The Acorn @ Great Scott, 5/7
This indie Ottawa band recently released a simply lovely album based on the life of the singer's mother. Through the vivid imagery of the lyrics and the integration of world sounds, Glory Hope Mountain creates a beautiful and touching narrative. And I hear they're great live, to boot!

- El Perro del Mar, Lykke Li @ Middle East Upstairs, 5/9
These Scandinavian songstresses have been hyped up everywhere else, and there's nothing more for me to add. Good opportunity to see some talented artists in a small space before they get more popular.

- Death Cab for Cutie, Bob Mould, P.O.T.U.S.A., et.al. @ Bank of America Pavilion 5/10
This is the Phoenix's/WFNX's big concert at the BOA Pavilion. I don't care too much about this show, but E scored us some free tix, so yea!? I do love Death Cab, though.

- Cut Copy, Black Kids, Mobius Band @ The Paradise, 5/12
This is sold out, but good luck on craigslist! I like all three bands, so I'm psyched. Sounds like Black Kids have finally outlived their grace period in the blog hype machine, but all will be forgiven when then play "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You." Cut Copy is awesome new wave dance music coming from Australia.

and then the following week.... Devotchka! Vaudeville fun! Can't wait! As of today, tickets are still available, which is kind of surprising. This show should be bananas. They had acrobats at Coachella. Acrobats!

Second, I started writing an involved essay about art folk and how artists use different stylistic techniques to create mood. I think I'm getting somewhere, but it'll take me awhile to finish it. The summary of it is:

- Some artists use vocals, but not necessarily lyrics, to create mood of place (place as a state of mind or emotion). I put Bon Iver, DM Stith and Timothy Dick in this category.
- Others use vocals and rhythm to create mood of physical place (think how certain music evokes images of mountains and open spaces). In this case, natural elements are often the characters or the storytellers. I put Great Lake Swimmers in this category.
- Other artists emphasize narrative, i.e., one subject's interaction with place. Rhythm and imagery-filled lyrics show this. The Acorn's Glory Hope Mountain falls under this category.
- And finally, some artists find meaning and create mood through storytelling, often through small interactions between subjects in the lyrics ala Hemingway. This is, of course, the great prophet Sufjan Stevens.

What I find interesting in trying to categorize these styles is thinking about why particular artists excel with their techniques. For example, members of The Acorn are visual artists, and likely are drawn to lyrics with vivid imagery. Likewise, Sufjan Stevens is a studied writer, thus excels at storytelling (witness his "Christmas Tube Socks" essay from the Christmas box set).

All this to say, hit up the links, and send me insight if you have it: pezbeth [at] hotmail [dot] com.

Finally, if you still can't think of a way to waste you time waiting for me to return, watch this video where crazy musical genius Devendra Banhart (whom I've never mentioned on this blog, but I discovered a few months ago) displays and comments on his vinyl collection. Thanks to popserious for the link, which is also a good time waster. From my understanding, it's a bunch of NY friends contributing theme-based columns to a collaborative blog, post- hipster salad days of 2004-2006 (AKA the Misshapes era), when many of them wrote popular individual blogs. My favorite post is this one, which serves as anecdotal proof to my theory that the graduation rate of Berklee is 0% (sorry, Berklee friends!).

Saturday, May 3, 2008

ESD#44: wanted: harpsichord player

Last night I dreamed that the Dirty Projectors hired me as a harpsichord player. I woke up thinking, "What's a harpsichord?" E played me some recordings, so now I know.

Sir Thomas Beecham was quoted describing the sound of the harpsichord as "two skeletons copulating on a tin roof." Seems a little harsh, no?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Timothy Dick's "Florence"

By researching DM Stith as I mentioned here, I've hit a goldmine of beautiful art folk. Looking at his Myspace musician friends, one after another, I'm discovering absolutely stunning music.

Check out Timothy Dick and Dave Deporis, for example.

I can't last 10 seconds watching Dick's video for "Florence" without tearing up. The video is created by Timmy Gallogly, who edits public domain movies into a touching, haunting and captivating video.

Funny thing is, I recognize the bit between 2:00 and 3:00 from a Mystery Science 3000 episode I saw probably ten years ago. It was from a 1950s era commercial for either appliances or cars. The MST3000 guys watched it before a movie I can't recall.

ESD#43: fire!

Oh, man! How awesome are boston.com's photos of these manhole fires in Harvard Square? Makes me sad I don't work there / live there anymore.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

ESD#42: Happy May Day!

It's International Workers' Day today. For most of the world, this is one of the most important holidays of the year. For Boston, one of the U.S.' largest metropolitan areas, we have this embarassingly small rally with some of the crappiest Guatemalan folk music I've ever heard (and I've heard a lot of crappy Guatemalan folk music).

When around the world there are major protests and even riots, Boston depends on these two police officers and their horses to keep the peace.

I'm certainly not the first to suggest this, but why doesn't the U.S. eliminate Labor Day, move Memorial Day to the first Monday in September, and make May 1st a national holiday? There must be a petition for this somewhere, but I'm too lazy to look. Just like I was too lazy to stop and participate in this rally.

DM Stith

DM Stith's music sounds exactly like his photo looks. Ghostly, threatening, enthralling.

As they announce here, Asthmatic Kitty just signed seven new artists and are promoting their work through an AK muxtape along with a free download of the mix. Not surprisingly, I love it all, especially Ermasse Zopoula from Burkina Faso (then again, what West African music don't I like? [Ed.-Akon]), and DM Stith.

Regarding DM Stith, YOU MUST DOWNLOAD AK'S FREE MP3s. That ominous piano, those haunting vocals, that threatening violin--awesomely scary! Here they are:

DM Stith - Be My Baby
DM Stith - Thanksgiving Moon

There's a lot more to stream at DM Stith's MySpace page.