Monday, June 30, 2008

Classic Elton John Reissued

Typically we here at H.A.D. tend to shy away from the "reissue" market: it seems like a never ending effort to repackage albums with a single bonus track, and then milk some cash out of the diehard fans (yes, Elvis Costello, we're looking at you). Elton John's catalogue has been middle-of-the-road in terms of it's reissue status. There were a few superfluous reissues on Polydor in the early 90's, but the "Classic Years" reissues that followed actually packed quite a punch: remastered by original producer Gus Dudgeon (before his untimely death), the discs sounded great and came with a nice tag on of 3-4 bonus tracks a piece. They were, it seemed, really the defacto representation of John's amazing early seventies career-defining output.

The more recent reissues in the Elton John catalogue have seemed to reenforce this: both the Captain Fantastic and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road reissues have been short on new material, and heavy on repackaging. So, it was with no small amount of surprise that we stumbled upon the reissues of Elton John and Tumbleweed Connection. Released at the beginning of June, the discs each come with a huge amount of bonus material, including unreleased demos, new tracks, and BBC sessions. Moreover, the recording sessions for these two records were the beginning of John's killer 70's combo that would go on to dominate pop music for the next six years. Getting to hear what the demos and alternate takes for these sessions sound like is like getting a private view into John's massively prolific writing style.

If you're already a fan, then these releases are a no brainer. On the other hand, if you're a skeptic whose biggest familiarity with John is The Lion King, then frankly, this would be a good place to start.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Plants And Animals Played The Rickshaw

The Montreal-based band Plants and Animals made it to San Francisco last Wednesday, and H.A.D. was in attendance to check out the set. We were expecting some killer tunes, after a few weeks of really enjoying their first full length, Parc Avenue.

With the disc's carefully crafted production, we weren't exactly sure what to expect from a live set. As the band set up on stage, it was clear that the live sound was going to be a different beast. The band's three members each had a relatively straight forward set up, and it looked like a classic "power trio", with the three members all equally occupying the front of the stage.

While the band's set really didn't have the same sound as the record, all of the hallmarks that make the record so damn good were firmly in place. The band nailed tightly harmonized vocals, percussion was rock solid, and Nicolas Basque did a great job at filling the multi-instrumentalist role as needed.

Also extremely notable was that the band simply has a lot of energy live. The songs swelled with energy, and Warren Spicer's vocals really took on a live passion that isn't completely evident on the disc. It was also clear from Matthew Woodley's drumming and vocals that this band is really a three person collaboration. The band had a stunning rapport going on throughout the whole show.

As the show wrapped up, we found ourselves feeling pretty damn good about Plants And Animals. If you're looking to hear their record note-for-note in a live setting, then you might be a tad disappointed. On the other hand, if you're interested in a slightly more driven version of the songs by a group of fantastic musicians, well then this show is just your ticket.

Many more photos over at the H.A.D. Archive.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Girls MP3 Available

Photo from the H.A.D. Archive
Some of you may remember that we were fawning over Girls when we saw them open for Port O'Brien last month. You may also remember that they're playing a gig at Hotel Utah on July 5th, and that there weren't really any mp3's available for the taking. Well, now the band has decided to post one, and we're loving it. We really recommend you come to the July 5th show, but if you have your doubts, give this a listen.

mp3: Girls - Lust For Life (click through to download)

Death Cab Played The Greek

Last Saturday we were convinced to tag along with some friends to The Greek Theater to catch Rogue Wave and Death Cab For Cutie. Unfortunately, we only caught the tail end of Rogue Wave's set, but from what we saw they were positively nailing it, and the crowd was loving it appropriately. As for Death Cab, the band delivered largely what we had been expecting when we decided to attend the show. Thankfully, there were some surprises as well.

As for what we expected, well, if you've heard a Death Cab album, you probably already know: Achingly well produced songs with heart-on-sleeve lyrics, some tentative experimental elements, and Ben Gibbard's distinctive sing song-y vocals. What we weren't really expecting was the ability of the band to "rock", and a nicely diversified setlist.

Gibbard has really done a lot in the last couple of years to spruce up his rock star image: he's lost weight, grown some mutton chops, and got a true rock and roll stage presence going on. Moreover, we were surprised to see that many of the band's lead guitar lines are played by Gibbard, and not by Chris Walla. The band definitely was putting forth a rock and roll vibe, and on many of the songs, there was a musical rapport that we hadn't expected.

As a band who have recently amassed a major label contract, and a huge group of teenage fans to go along with it, we were somewhat fearful that the band might be relegated to a "recent albums only" setlist. Thankfully this was not the case, and the band delivered a few choice cuts off of their early records, including two of our favorites from Transatlanticism.

While not a show that will shock you with it's originality or divergence from album material, we do have to say that the Death Cab live experience pleasantly surprised us. The band nails their instrumentation, and delivers enough of a new take on the songs that it's memorable. On top of that, Gibbard's live energy and enthusiasm really is something worth noting. Our guess is the guy was a camp counselor in another life, but we're guessing rock star is a way cooler gig.

More pictures at the H.A.D. Archive.
Gussifer also has some nice shots at flickr.

Kooks Warfield Presale On Now

The Kooks will be back to San Francisco on October, playing at The Warfield. We've been digging their latest, Konk, and we've heard say that the live show is a treat as well. Tickets go on sale this Sunday, but a presale is going on right now. The password is "kooksfalltour".

mp3: The Kooks - Shine On

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Silver Jews Coming To The Fillmore In September

Hot on the heels of their new disc Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea, Silver Jews are out and about on tour. The band will be at The Fillmore on September 25th, right after Spoon finishes up their three night run. This is good news - and a sure sign that frontman David Berman is continuing to enjoy his newfound propensity for live performance. We haven't gotten to hear much of the new record (Drag City pulled out of eMusic), but by many accounts it's got a feel of being boiler-plate Silver Jews. That is to say: better than most records, but not a hightlight of the catalogue. That being said, the promo track on Drag City's web site (see below) is damn fine, and we're pretty sure we'll be picking this one up in the next week or two. Tickets are on-sale this Sunday at 10 AM.

mp3: Silver Jews - Strange Victory, Strange Defeat

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sondre Lerche Coming To GAMH

Photo from the H.A.D Archive

Norwegian songsmith Sondre Lerche will be playing an (apparently solo) visit to the Great American Music Hall on August 26th. Lerche packs an amazing punch live, and bursts with energy that trumps his records - despite their being as good as they are to begin with. After heartily enjoying Lerche's solo set in Boston last fall, you can bet that we at H.A.D. will be there. Tickets are on-sale now.

Plants And Animals At The Rickshaw Wednesday Night

We here at H.A.D. tend to keep an eye on the Rickshaw's calendar. For one, it's a tiny venue, and we love the space. For another, they tend to have great acts that have yet to truly "break through", but are right on the verge. Well, after perusing this week's update from the venue, we noticed Plants and Animals will be at the Stop on Wednesday night. From where we're sitting, this show has some massive potential - hopefully we'll see you there...

mp3: Plants And Animals - Feedback In The Field

Islands Played Bimbo's

Last Monday, Canadian band Islands made their way to Bimbo's 365 Club to make up a date that had been cancelled back in April. The band is currently promoting their latest, Arm's Way, and as such, the set was heavily weighted towards the newer material.

The crowd, while not a sellout, was highly enthusiastic, and packed the front of the room. To say that they were "fans" would be a significant udnerstatement. It seemed that everything the band did (including a good natured butchering one of the encore songs), the crowd went apeshit for, be it good or bad. We're certainly in favor of high levels of enthusiasm, but when it seems to be completely unrelated to what's going on in the room, it can be a bit odd.

We here at H.A.D. dig the new album (and the old, for that matter), and enjoyed the show quite a bit. That being said, the band could learn a thing or two about maybe planning the setlist so that it had a bit more of a clear direction: the song selections seemed to go up and down quite a bit, and at times the back and forth seemed to get repetitive.

That being said, the band is highly technically skilled, and is a killer live combo. It was particularly inspirational to see just how many members are multi-instrumentalists. If you get the chance, Islands is a show not to miss.

More pictures available at the H.A.D. Archive.

Vampire Weekend Apes Wes Anderson

Vampire Weekend have just released their latest video - for "Oxford Comma" - and we can't help but feel that it's just trying a little hard to be "eclectic" in the style of a certain well known that director. That being said, we still love the band, and every time we hear them, all our skepticism tends to go out the window...all is forgiven.

Conor Oberst At Bottom Of The Hill 8/1, 8/2

Yes, you read that correctly: Conor Oberst, he of Bright Eyes fame, will be playing one of San Francisco's smallest rooms for two nights in August. Oberst is on the road promoting his self-titled solo "debut" Conor Oberst. The record is out on Merge August 5th. Shockingly, there are still tickets available to both nights. What can we say? It's a great opportunity to see an awesome songwriter in a tiny venue. Moreover, the advance tracks sound like some really killer tracks. Get em while they're hot.

mp3: Conor Oberst - Souled Out!!!
mp3: Conor Oberst - Danny Callahan

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sigur Ros Presale Begins At 10

Sigur Ros will be playing in Berkeley at the tail end of the Greek's summer season, and tickets go on sale via a presale starting this morning at 10. The band's records range from fantastically epic ambient works, to intense studies in rhythm. By all accounts, the live show leaves the records in the dust, which is saying a lot. We'll be sure to check it out, and we suggest you do as well. Tickets can be had here, the password is "naked". The stream below is the band's lastest album.

Stream: Sigur Ros - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

Monday, June 16, 2008

Spoon Featured In The Latest Daytrotter Sessions

Over at possibly the most consistent site on the web for original artist sessions, Daytrotter has delivered a four song set from Spoon. The set includes the band's fantastic cover of Paul Simon's "Peace Like A River", as well as three of the band's own tunes. We suppose it should come as no surprise that a band whose drummer maintains his own studio would sound so awesome in this setting. Still, it's nice to see Spoon consistently firing on all cylinders, and delivering an awesome set. Our only real question is why "Back To The Life" is listed as previously unreleased. Hrm. Anyway, we know we keep going on about it, but each Spoon tidbit that comes down the wire just gets us that much more psyched for their residency at the Fillmore in September. Awesome indeed.

mp3: Spoon - Daytrotter Sessions (Click Through)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

New Port O'Brien Video

Port O'Brien have released the official video for "I Woke Up Today", and it's quite a trip. While we can't imbed it here (pout) we can send you over to Stereogum to take a look. It's worth the click. Take our word for it.

Video: Port O'Brien - I Woke Up Today

Dandy Warhols To Play Warfield In October

While there's no official news of it, either on the Dandy's site or on ticketmaster, there's rumor of a Dandy Warhols show at the Warfield on October 4th. This should come as no huge surprise, since the band has a new record out, and has already graced the Northwest with some warmup gigs. The Dandy's live drone fest is a good one, and highly recommended. We'll let you know as details develop.

Stream: The Dandy Warhols - ...Earth To The Dandy Warhols...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Nine Inch Nails / Deerhunter On-Sale Sunday

While we're not really ones to frequent arena shows, this may be an exception. First, you have the persistent notoriety of NIN's live shows, even in large venues. Second, you have one of the most exciting and also notoriously great live bands out there today, Deerhunter. It seems like a lineup that can't be beat, even if it is Oracle Arena. Well, make your own call, but regardless: tickets are on-sale Sunday at 10 AM.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Black Kids To Play Fillmore In October

Over at Brooklyn Vegan there's a pretty big post as to the "launch" festivities surrounding the Black Kids major label debut. Included in said festivities is a tour that culminates in San Francisco at The Fillmore on October 13th. No word about ticket on-sale's yet, so keep your eyes open.

In other news the "official" video (along with newly recorded version of the song) for "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Girlfriend How To Dance With You" has been utubed (see below). To our ears the audio mix is slower and cleaner than the original EP version (similar to the Killers when they transitioned from self-released EP->major label), while the video is some sort of "color fight" between some 18th century aristocrats. Hmm. We'll have to listen to the whole album when it drops in two weeks.

Ryan Adams And The Cardinals To Play The Fillmore In August

Image part of the H.A.D. Archives

For the first time since 2004, Ryan Adams will be back in San Franciso and playing at The Fillmore. He and The Cardinals will be taking a break from supporting Oasis, and will be playing San Francisco's hallowed venue on Saturday August 23rd. Frankly, we here at H.A.D. are psyched to see Ryan back in one of our favorite rooms in the city. We're hoping that a solid dose of rock n' roll history will perhaps knock him out of the Cardinals comfort zone. Tickets go on-sale Sunday at 10 AM.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bjork Tribute Comes To Union Square

These creative folk took it up on themselves to pull of a bit of a dance tribute to the Spike Jonez video for "It's Oh So Quiet". Entertaining, to say the least.

Spoon Live Video

As we get closer every day to Spoon's three night residency at the Fillmore, we get progressively more psyched. The band is clearly kicking ass on the road: we've been keeping an eye on the utubez, and we thought we'd hit you with these highlights: one is an awesomely fuzzed-out, noise-laden version of the track "Finer Feelings" from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. The other is a partial clip of the band positively killing (in a good way, folks) the Stones' "Rocks Off", complete with live horns! Enjoy.

Islands Coming To Bimbo's Next Week

Islands is the post-Unicorns project of musician Nick Thorburn. The band has always gotten good press, but we had been hesitant after seeing the Unicorns self destruct on stage at the Middle East in a haze of drunkenness about five years ago. Well, sometimes you have to look past the prior transgressions, and give a band credit for what's going on now, rather than then. This is one of those times.

After hearing continuous good things about the band and its records, we picked up the new Islands disk In Arms Way. We're glad we did: We like it, quite a bit. It has the charm and weirdness of the Unicorns, but executed with more control and more attention to detail. Thorburn's off-kilter vocals are still resident, but the instrumentation is more of its own melodic entity, and less of a rhythmic noise accompaniment. In a word, it seems to have vision that was lacking in the past.

Given this, we were glad to see that the band will be making up a cancelled April date at Bimbo's next Monday.
We'll be there. Tickets are still available.

mp3: Islands - Creeper

Port O'Brien Returning To SF On July 11th

After truly loving their triumphant CD release show at the Rickshaw Stop a few weeks back, we're excited to see that Port O'Brien will be returning to the city for a date at the Cafe Du Nord on July 11th. Tickets are on-sale now.

Monday, June 9, 2008

An Arts And Crafts Update

Here at H.A.D., we're pretty much whores for anything that comes our way from the Arts and Crafts camp. Things being what they are, here are a couple of news bites from our friends in Canada:

  • P4TV has the debut of a new Kevin Drew video for "Safety Bricks", off of the first Broken Social Scene Presents... disc. Check the stream below.
  • The second disc in the series has apparently been leaked prior to its July 22nd street date, in unmastered form. This has led Brendan Canning to offer it up for sale in digital form.
  • While reading about item 2, we noticed that Feist and Constantines covered the classic "Islands In The Stream". Check it out below, go pay for it if you like it.
This summer Broken Social Scene will be at the Outside Lands Festival, while Feist will be headlining at the Greek Theaterin Berkeley.

mp3: Constantines and Feist - Islands In The Stream (Yousendit, click through)

Video Of David Byrne's Latest

When we read about David Byrne's latest art experiment a few weeks back in the New York Times, we were seriously thinking we might have to journey to the opposite coast for some first hand experience. Thankfully, P4TV decided to do a feature on the installation, so now we West Coasters can see and hear it for ourselves without the pesky flight time! Stream the video below...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My Morning Jacket Presale Tomorrow At 10 AM

The previously mentioned My Morning Jacket show at the Greek Theater will be having a pre-sale tomorrow morning at 10 AM. You can get to the presale by clicking here. The password is "evil".

In case you missed it before, click the link below for the band's latest (which we love), "Evil Urges".

mp3: My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges

Update: You can stream the whole album from myspace... (thanks to Brooklyn Vegan)

stream: My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges (album)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Death Of The Import, Sort Of

There was a time, before internets and torrents, before forums and iTunes, when "imports" were the holy grail of record collectors everywhere. A generic term that encompassed any recording made outside of the US, "imports" represented everything from bootlegs, to singles, to alternate album versions. In many cases, it was the only way to get certain live tracks or B-Sides. These days, however, imports are largely a thing of the past. Most of those rare tracks can be had a la carte on music services like iTunes, and even the ones that can't are usually readily available in fan forums, blogs, or file sharing networks.

That being what it was, we were kind of saddened to be heading to Japan in a import-free world. The last time we were abroad was in 2000, and then there was still a need to grab the latest and greatest imports. The Pogues were out of print in the US, and Bowie was releasing singles with exclusive B-Sides in Europe. With our hopes quashed, we drearily decided that browsing Tower Japan might still yield some fruits, and we're happy to say it did. We got two CD's that not only have made us happy, but as we peeled open those funky Japanese CD bags, we realized that the import may have a little life in it yet. Here's what we snagged:

Jason Falkner - I'm Okay, You're Okay: Falkner is one of those artists who we consistently love, and who never seems to get the recognition he deserves. He's been a session man for everyone from Air to Beck to Paul McCartney. He was formerly the guitarist for Jellyfish, as well as The Grays. But more importantly, he's released a number of fantastic solo records over the past ten years. This one is his latest, and despite being out in Japan for over a year, it is nowhere to be found anywhere else in the world market. We had hemmed and hawed about buying it on Amazon for months, but the import price seemed ridiculous. When we saw it in Japan, we knew it was time. 7 years in the making, the record is fantastic, and worth the wait. It is the perfect extension of Falkner's explicitly crafted power pop that we love so much. We have no idea when the US release will be, but for now you can stream some of the tunes on Falkner's myspace page.

Happy End - Kazemachi Roman: Okay, we admit it, just like you, we heard of this band because of the Lost In Translation soundtrack. That being said, the one tune wasn't enough for us. We wanted more, and we tried to find it in the US. Still, even at Amoeba, no dice. So, as we headed for Japan, we kept our eyes open. We were rewarded with the awesome "mini LP" packaging that the Japanese seem to have developed a fetish for: tiny CD-size recreations of the original album art right down to the annoying plastic sleeve for the LP. The record is great, and hard to describe. It has elements of the Allman Brothers, as well as a definite head-nod to psychedlica. We're still absorbing it, but it's nice to snag a record that is from a completely different slice of the musical pie.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Nick Cave Weirdness

So, last week when we posted about the Nick Cave on-sale, there were two shows listed and the on-sale was June 1st. Now, oddly, the on-sale has changed to June 22nd, and the second show has disappeared. We have no idea what happened. Maybe it was a preview of what is to be if the first show sells out? Anyway, it now appears as though the 22nd is the date to get your Nick Cave goodness...

(Photo courtesy of Marco Annunziata)