Sunday, December 28, 2008

clearing the slate

Oy Vey! Its been ridiculously long since I last posted but I have so many reasons/excuses why that simply trying to figure out how to recap them all has become one of the factors contributing to the delay. Ultimately they can be summed up with: Holiday Prep, holiday travel, viscous clinging illness, sad passings and major decision to quit my job to dedicate myself full time to my small business creative development/marketing company Spigot Marketing.

So not only have I been so busy I'm too tired to sleep I have also been overwhelmed with stuff I want to post that I didn't know where to start. In the spirit of somethings better than nothing I'm going the bullet point route. Sadly I'm not going to be able to give them the coverage they deserve but I need to clear the slate so I can move on to the new year.

  • I got to attend my first Making Time, a Philadelphia dance party institution that I had heard a lot about but never attended, and despite having a horrid cold I rallied got, got my hairs did, rounded up the troops and headed up to Transit. There was four floors of rotating DJs (all rockin their own genre), free Sparks (a vile caffeinated malt beverage), fantastic people watching and surprise guest CSS. I must confess I am not the biggest CSS fan but they sure know how to charge a live show. It was chaotic, loud, dancey goodness. LOVED IT and I can't wait for the next Making Time.
  • Reconnected with an old friend while home who is now a Grammy winning producer and got to see the process behind the voting and exert a little influence on his vote.
  • Previously mentioned friend gave me his most recent project the first record by a Nashville band which I will be reviewing in tomorrow's post. This will be my first review of a band no one else has reviewed which is exciting in a total music nerd kind of way.
  • I started mapping out my 2009 concerts which will kick off right next week with my second Frightened Rabbit show and includes shows by Lykke Li, Tapes 'n Tapes, Bishop Allen, Yarn, Nappy Roots and Yo Majesty to name a few.
  • Finally, I have decided to figure out how to produce my first show. I think it would be a TON of fun to brings some of my friends into town for a night of music fun so stay tuned to hear all about this endeavour and so much more...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bon Iver aka Lumberjack Plaid lovers of PA unite

I had the great pleasure of seeing Bon Iver this week at the Trocadero in Chinatown. Apparently, Billy and I didn't read the fine print on the tickets requesting we wear our skinny jeans, lumberjack plaid and stocking cap. The opener for the night was The Tallest Man On Earth . We caught his last song, a cover of Jackson Brown's These Days, which was good. Probably would have been better had it fallen in the context of his entire set. But, I'd go see him if he passed through town again.

Bon Iver took the stage and opened with one of the tracks from their new EP Blood Bank. Despite it being a little more chamber folk than I usually like it was a good way to start the show. I was a little surprised to see how amped the band was but upon reflection, For Emma...Forever Ago was a solo effort (implying a good degree of tech support) so, with the addition of band members it seems only natural that the whole thing would be plugged in. It was well done too. The drums and bass were given the hollow weight from the album and live it was particularly powerful. The only time it was really apparent was on the new EP tracks which are aiming for an epic sound vs. the reflective somber mood of For Emma...

The version of Skinny Love they played introduced a degree of bass drum that made my heart twitterpate. I have an affinity for the warm vibrations of a bass line and Justin's assembled band delivered in spades. Again they emphasized the bass percussion in Re:Stacks in a way that made it a different tune entirely. There were only a few off notes of the evening mostly involving the newer stuff it seemed a little untethered and aimless but it took a few listens to For Emma... for me to adore it so, I'm willing to chalk that up to having not heard most of it before.

The only other issue I had with the show had nothing to do with the rperformers and EVERYTHING to do with the chick standing near us who had fucking bells attached to her shoes. Note to all of you concert goers out there: don't bring your own instruments to shows. She obviously thought it was cute that she was adding her own touch but not only did she jingle her bells at the worst possible times but SHE WAS ALWAYS OFF BEAT. Ugh. But I digress.

The fellas did a cover of the Outfield's Your Love which was an interesting choice but Justin's voice made it him own for sure. For The Wolves the crowd was encouraged to sing along at the end while it built to it's crescendo the howl/scream/yell when the tension broke. The space in the Troc made the crowd participation rather effective and the howl at the end reminded me a bit of the Midnight scream organized by my alma mater during finals.

The true gem of the night for me though was the closing of the show. When the album first came out I was intrigued simply because you seldom see Emma used. While sorry that the Emma in Justin's past cause such pain I am not too torn up cause this album was the product. Anyways, I was hoping to hear my track played live and not only did they play it but they finished the WHOLE SHOW with a little dedication to moi. The cherry on top was the country swing they gave to it making it clear that whatever it once meant Bon Iver has moved on to a much happier place. I look forward to hearing Blood Bank in its entirety next year and seeing Bon Iver when he returns to Philly.

Justin & Sarah Siskind Lovi'ns For Fools
Justin solo on piano For Emma...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Best Tracks of 2008

In no particular order....

Laura Marling- Ghosts
Beyonce- Single Ladies
Ray LaMontagne- Let It Be Me
Gold Panda - I Suppose I Should Say 'Thanks' Or Some Shit
Brett Dennen- Ain't Gonna Lose You
Slow Runner - Trying To Put Your Heart Back Together
Rural Alberta Advantage - In the Summertime
Mobb Deep vs Ray Parker Jr - Ghostbusters Got It Twisted (DJ Ayres Remix)
Treasure of the Everglades- Bark Hide & Horn
Port O'brien - Dance With Our Ashes
Ben Sollee - Change Is Gonna Come
Esperanza Spalding - Precious
Wild Sweet Orange - Either/Or
Mumford & Son - Roll Away Your Stone
I'm From Barcelona- Paper Planes
Matt & Kim - Day Light or Good Ol' Fashion Nightmare (tie)
Bikini - Tonight
Yarn- Can't Slow Down
The Little Ones -All Your Modern Boxes
The Watson Twins - How Am I To Be
Hello Saferide - Anna
Plushgun - Just Impolite
Friendly Fires - Jump In The Pool
Little Joy - Brand New Start
Pierre De Reader - I'll Be Around

Most of it is in here >>>> ZIP

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Best Albums of 2008

If I tried to write something about each of these albums I'd never get this list up. Links to come...

25. The Wave Pictures- Instant Coffee Baby
24. Atmosphere- All his '08 releases
23. Peter Bradley Adams - Leave Taking
22. Portastatic- Some Small History
21. Thao Nguyen- We Brave Bee Stings And All

20. Adele-19
19. Q-Tip - The Renaissance
18. She & Him - Volume One
17. Slow Runner- Mermaids
16. Fleet Foxes- Winter White Hymnal
15. These United States - A Picture Of The Three Of Us At The Gate To The Garden Of Ed
14. Okkervil River- Stand Ins
13. Vampire Weekend- Vampire Weekend
12. TV on The Radio- Dear Science

11. Los Campasinos - Hold On Now, Youngster...
10. The Dodos- The Visiter
9. Kings of Leon - Only By The Night
8. Noah And The Whale - Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down
7. The Avett Brothers - The Second Gleam
6. Girl Talk - Feed The Animals
5. Passion Pit - Chunk Of Change
4. Raphal Saadiq - The Way I See It
3. Bon Iver- For Emma Forever Ago
2. Jenny Lewis- Acid Tongue
1. Frightened Rabbit- The Midnight Organ Fight

Top 5>>> ZIP
The Rest>>>zip
Stay tuned for Best Tracks and Best "new to me" Acts

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Is it the accents?

I am unsure what exactly it was the incited it but early this year I developed a fascination with Irish musicians. I think it was some combination of finally watching the fantastic movie Once, becoming a member of emusic which has a great regional search capability and most notably tapping into the music blog culture. For a while there I was rabidly hunting down new and old Irish groups as they seem to provide the most consistently fabulous tunes. Regardless of the genre there is something about the lyrical playfulness and intelligent musical crafting that is shared by folks from the green isles.

Of course I have always enjoyed the musical stylings of the widely known Irish acts: Van Morrison, Belle & Sebastian, The Cheiftans, Flogging Molly etc. But my research turned up a few gems I intend to share.

*** Amendment*** Frightened Rabbit are actually Scottish (thanks to NotAgnes at It All Started With Carbon Monoxide for the heads up)

As anyone who has read this blog can gather I Ha-luv Frightened Rabbit. Their album Midnight Organ Fight is one of the strongest released this year. Charging out of the gates with the confidence of a group that has been playing together for years, as these gentlemen have. They recently followed that studio album up with LiverLung a live recording capturing some of their songs better heard with a tinge of spontaneity. I must say after experiencing them in person this fall there is a whole new side of them live so I'm providing you with two live recordings one from that EP and the other from a Daytrotter Session.

Frightened Rabbit Old Old fashioned
Be Less Rude

Before I discovered FR Bell X1 crossed my path. Rocky Took A Lover was the first song I heard of theirs and it was catchy enough to send me looking for more. A little bit like an Irish The Fray their music is poppy and not particularly complex. Their output isn't very consistent some songs like Flame are a little too childish to garner my support however when they hit it they hit it. I saw them this fall when they opened for Stars and their live show is also a little soft but that could have been the poor sound system preventing us from really hearing them.
Bell X1 Rocky Took A Lover

I have long been a fan of Snow Patrol. Their song Chasing Cars was included on a compelation produced by Cities97 (a Minneapolis radio station) a few years ago and I adored it upon first listen. Their lyrics are sincere and romantic and their compositions carry your ear along. Not challenging it too much but keeping you on your toes. I grabbed their newest single last week, Crack The Shutters is ripe for a TV soundtrack and reveals a slight change in Snow Patrol's sound. I look forward to really listening to the rest of the album.
Snow Patrol Chasing Cars
Crack The Shutters

Finally there is the musical empire helmed by Glen Hansard. I first heard him unknowingly when my mother introduced me to the Frames 6 or 7 years ago. The Frames were an alt rock band that was much more popular in the UK than here. Their sound was a slightly less country Old 97's and much like Rhett Miller Glen delivered their lyrics with a truth and unrefined pitch that makes them even more endearing. I first knowingly happened upon Glen when I read about the movie Once. Instead of retelling the modern romance that the movie's making was start here IMDB. After finally watching the movie I needed to hear more and my oh my has Mr. Hansard delivered. From the Swell Season ( the group formed by his new partnership with his co-star Marketa Irglova) to his solo covers (of both Britney Spears AND Justin Timberlake) to his duet with fellow irishman Damien Rice there is plenty of him to be had. The Swell Season are about to release their next album and I am anxiously awaiting it. Low Rising is the first song to be leaked and if every track is as good you may very well see it on 2009's best of list.
The Frames Your Face
The Swell Season Low Rising
Damien Rice (with Glen Hansard) Lay Me Down

So there you have it. My first installment of Irish adoration. I don't anticipate this infatuation ending any time soon and I have lots of other Irish music to share so stay tuned...