Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Phoenix Played KCRW - "Lisztomania" Video

While Phoenix actually played eight songs for yesterday's KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic show, there's only one video (above) that's surfaced thus far. It's the band playing their now-standard "Lisztomania". However, we can't recommend more strongly that you also check out the stream (below) of the whole show. The band really tear into some fantastic versions of tunes from the breadth of their catalog. The set includes "Lisztomania", "Long Distance Call", "Consolation Prizes", "Lasso", "Girlfriend", "Rome", "1901", and "Too Young". It's muy tasty.

Stream: Phoenix Live On KCRW

Kyp Malone (Of TV On The Radio) Has A Solo Project - Rain Machine

To be frank, we had no idea that Kyp Malone had a side project outside of his band TV On The Radio, much less that he was touring in its support. Well, turns out both are the case: Malone's project is called Rain Machine, and he just got signed to Anti Records this week. What's more, turns out that Malone played at the Henry Miller Library on Sunday night, and we were none the wiser. Seriously bummed!

Nonetheless, we managed to dig up some video for you (above) of Malone's project - think more mellow, acoustic TVOTR and you're on the right track. We have to say, it definitely sounds pretty fine to our ears - we're looking forward to hearing the record.

And just for the record, if anyone caught the Henry Miller Library show, we'd love to hear how it was!

Stephen Malkmus To Play Big Sur In July

If you happen to love Stephen Malkmus as much as we do (which is to say, a lot), then you will be quite pleased to learn that The Jicks frontman will be joined by his band for a one-off performance in Big Sur on July 24th. The event will be held at the Henry Miller Library, and is apparently part of an even entitled "folkYeah!". We have no idea either.

What we do know is that this will no doubt be a killer show, and a great way to spend your last Friday in July. Tickets are on sale now.

mp3: Stephen Malkmus - Baby C'Mon

Dinosaur Jr. Touring For Farm, Fillmore In November

You may recall that Dinosaur Jr.'s spring tour conspicuously skipped over San Francisco, despite consisting mainly of west coast dates. Well, it appears that the band has decided to remedy that on their extensive tour in support of Farm, with a stop at The Fillmore on November 6th. If you happen to not be in San Francisco, well fear not: it appears that the band has decided to bring the Dinosaur Jr. experience to...well....everywhere. Check out the dates below.

Dinosaur Jr. 2009 Tour Dates
Jun 30 Boogaloo Zagreb
Jul 4 Halifax V-Festival Halifax, Nova Scotia
Jul 25 Fuji Rock Festival Yuzawa-machi, Niigata
Aug 8 KEXP BBQ @ Seattle Center - Free Show Seattle, Washington
Aug 14 Wellfleet Beachcomber Wellfleet, Massachusetts
Aug 16 Central Park SummerStage - FREE SHOW New York, New York
Aug 19 Oxford Academy Oxford
Aug 20 Cambridge Junction Cambridge
Aug 21 Concorde 2 Brighton
Aug 22 Pukkelpop 2009 Hasselt
Aug 24 Abart Music Club Zurich
Aug 25 Den Atelier Luxenbourg City
Aug 26 Watt Rotterdam
Aug 27 Paradiso Amsterdam
Aug 28 Kb Club Malmo
Aug 29 Samfundet Trondheim
Aug 30 Rockefeller Music Hall Oslo
Sep 5 Anson Rooms-Bristol University Bristol
Sep 6 Elysee Montmartre Paris
Sep 8 Circolo degli Artisti Rome
Sep 10 Estragon Club Bologna
Sep 11 MusicDrome Milan
Sep 12 New Age Club Treviso
Sep 14 Arena Vienna Vienna
Sep 15 Rockhouse Salzburg
Sep 16 Manufaktur Schorndorf
Sep 17 Zakk Dusseldorf
Sep 18 Muffathalle Munich
Sep 20 Mousonturm Frankfurt
Sep 21 Astra Berlin
Sep 23 Beatpol Dresden
Sep 24 Reeperbahn Festival Hamburg
Sep 30 Phoenix Concert Theatre Toronto, Ontario
Oct 1 Theatre Olympia Montreal, Quebec
Oct 2 Middle East Cambridge, Massachusetts
Oct 3 Middle East Cambridge, Massachusetts
Oct 4 Northern Lights Clifton Park, New York
Oct 7 Toad’s Place New Haven, Connecticut
Oct 8 9:30 Club WASHINGTON, Washington DC
Oct 9 Theatre of the Living Arts Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Oct 10 Newport Music Hall Columbus, Ohio
Oct 11 The Crofoot Pontiac, Michigan
Oct 13 The Majestic Theatre Madison, Wisconsin
Oct 14 The Pageant St. Louis, Missouri
Oct 15 Vic Theatre Chicago, Illinois
Oct 16 Headliner’s Music Hall Louisville, Kentucky
Oct 17 Variety Playhouse Atlanta, Georgia
Oct 26 The Beaumont Club Kansas City, Missouri
Oct 27 Slowdown Omaha, Nebraska
Oct 29 Boulder Theater Boulder, Colorado
Oct 30 Aggie Theatre Ft. Collins, Colorado
Oct 31 Urban Lounge Salt Lake City, Utah
Nov 3 Marquee Theatre Tempe, Arizona
Nov 4 Belly Up Tavern Solana Beach, California
Nov 5 House of Blues Sunset West Hollywood, California
Nov 6 The Fillmore San Francisco, California
Nov 7 Wonder Ballroom Portland, Oregon
Nov 10 Commodore Ballroom Vancouver, British Columbia
Nov 11 Sugar Nightclub Victoria, British Columbia
Nov 13 The Starlite Room Edmonton
Nov 14 MacEwan Hall Ballroom Calgary, Alberta
Nov 16 Odeon Events Centre Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Nov 17 Pyramid Cabaret Winnepeg, Manitoba
Nov 18 First Avenue Minneapolis, Minnesota
Nov 19 Turner Hall Ballroom Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Nov 20 Grog Shop Cleveland Heights, Ohio

mp3: Dinosaur Jr. - I Want You To Know

New Dirty Projectors Video: "Stillness Is The Move"

We've made no secret of the fact that we (and, okay, let's be honest, everyone else) are smitten with Dirty Projectors' new record Bitte Orca, so we were psyched to see that the band has dropped a video for the record's lead single, "Stillness Is The Move".

The video (above) was filmed in Vermont, and features a variety of visual oddities, including a llama, semi-medieval costumes, siberian huskies, and Dave Longstreth rotating on a lazy susan. In short, it's loaded with enough eccentricities to be an unquestionable visual compliments to the Projectors' already quirky record. We dig.

mp3: Dirty Projectors - Stillness Is The Move

Monday, June 29, 2009

Paul McCartney Joins Neil Young For "A Day In The Life" - Video

Not much needs to be said aside from the title; Young does a great job with the cover, and it's fantastic to hear the crowd go apeshit when McCartney enters at the three minute mark. Word.

Spoon: Got Nuffin EP

Information leaked last week that Spoon would be releasing their first new material since 2007's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga; To say we were excited would be an understatement. Not only have we been loving the band's new material in a live setting, but we just felt completely parched for some new studio material from a band that has come to define itself as experts in the realm of recording. Thankfully, the Got Nuffin EP has not left us disappointed.

The four track disc consists of three new songs, and a remix of one. It leads off with the title track, "Got Nuffin", which is pure Spoon bliss. The track has a similar feel to some of the band's other one-off offerings (think "My First Time, Vol. 3") in that it's a straight ahead rock track that has an unquestionable single vibe. That being said, the arrangement is incredibly sparse - probably most like "A Series Of Sneaks" than anything we've heard from the band in a while. In short, we're really digging on it: one of the band's biggest strengths is that they totally kill as a well-honed four piece. If this track is any indication, and the band is headed for a more garagey feel on their next record, well - we're very excited.

"Got Nuffin" is followed by an instrumental entitled "Tweakers", of which there's also a remix. The track places a far larger emphasis on feel than on complexity: it's largely a drum line driven by the occasional effects here and there. If you've heard the Get Nice demo disc, it certainly would be right at home on that record. While it doesn't necessarily win us over for it's catchiness or accessibility, we're glad to see that the band is still pushing their experimental studio technique even in the midst of crafting uber-catchy rock goodness.

The EP closes with "Stroke Their Brains" (apparently once an alternate title for Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga), which finds the happy medium between the two tracks preceding it. The tune has an unquestionably poppy vibe, but at the same time features a more layered arrangement that gives it a depth that wouldn't be there otherwise. Britt Daniel's vocals are far less dominant than on "Got Nuffin", and instead the track works its magic via a solid blend of organ, drums, guitar, and dubby vocal effects.

In many ways, the Got Nuffin EP offers up a montage of the three sides of Spoon: the catchy rock band, the lo-fi experimentalists, and the innovative studio engineers. We have to say, all of the sides appeal to us, so having a selection is completely satisfying. That being said, it's been true in the past that their records tend to have a unified "feel" to them, and so we're painfully curious which direction they'll go in for the next one. In the meantime, we'll spend our sweet time enjoying Got Nuffin.

Modest Mouse - "Satellite Skin"

Modest Mouse at Treasure Island 2007, from the HAD Archive

We have to admit, we were a little skeptical about Modest Mouse's new single "Satellite Skin" - Mainly because we saw the Letterman performance, and were sort of underwhelmed. Issac Brock tends to be a little too "yelly" for us in a live setting, and as such it makes it tough to digest a new track. We kinda let it fall by the wayside.

Fast forward a couple of months, and we just heard the studio version in passing on the radio. And well: it's really, really good. Generally we're not the types to support bands that can't back up their studio versions in a live setting. But in this case it's not really that Modest Mouse falter in the live environ, it's more just that Brock just has a slightly more aggressive tone in both his guitar playing and vocals that takes a way a certain something from the song.

By contrast, the studio version has just the right amount of edginess while still maintaining a comfortably melodic arrangement, and we dig it very much. The guitar is classic chunky Modest Mouse goodness, and the chorus is dripping with what has become the band's signature singalong chorus vibe. Sure, we're a little late to the party, but we missed The Beatles by a good decade or two as well, so, you know....go with the flow.

mp3: Modest Mouse - Satellite Skin

New Sondre Lerche Record On The Way

Sondre Lerche at Great American Music Hall, from the HAD Archive

We have to admit: we have a spot for Sondre Lerche. The Norwegian born musician, now apparently of Brooklyn, releases records that are as vital as the are melodic, and urgent as they are lush. In short, he has a very unique ability to create records that challenge the current pop climate, and recall records of a far more classic era at the same time. Combine that with the fact that Lerche gives a bullet proof live show, and well, you've got the source of our soft spot.

All that being true, we were psyched to hear that Lerche's new record Heartbeat Radio will drop on September, as he signs with Rounder Records. The record is loaded with tracks from Lerche's recent live shows, so if you've seen him in the last two years, you've probably had quite a taste of what to expect (albeit in solo singer/songwriter form, like from the Polaroid Pool Party EP, below).

The record itself appears to be significantly more orchestral than the original demos (or Lerche's last couple of garagey albums) might suggest. We were particularly psyched to see that Sean O'Hagan of High Llamas fame is involved with the project. O'Hagan's sixties production tendencies will no doubt mesh well with Sondre's own retro tendencies, and yield a particularly tasty gem. Can't wait!

Heartbeat Radio drops on September 8th.

mp3: Sondre Lerche - Heartbeat Radio (Polaroid Pool Party EP Version)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Wilco and Okkervil River Played The Greek Theater - Pictures, Review, Setlist

If there was any suitable way to follow up David Byrne's performance on Friday night at the Greek, then this was certainly it. Okkervil River and Wilco joined forces to descend upon the very same venue, and give Byrne an unquestionable run for his money on the superb show from the night before. The two bands both delivered sets that ran the gamut of their catalog, and underscored just how formidable both of those catalogs are. However, even more than that, both bands gave joyous performances that, when combined with the weather, closed out one of the most exciting weekends of music we've seen in a very long time.

Okkervil River took the stage promptly at 7:30, and the Greek was already packed. It was clear that most of the audience had come to see both bands, and they showed it in spades. Will Sheff, for his part, did exactly the same, and managed to squeeze all of his usual passion and antics into a quick 30 minute set.

This was the first time we had seen the band with their new lead guitarist Lauren Gurgiolo, and we have to say we thought that she nailed it. Her style is certainly a little different from the band's older material, but the fact that she was totally shredding on some solos, adding fantastic accents to other songs, and thoroughly multi-instrumental all added up to be super impressive.

While the crowd was enthusiastic across the board, they really dug in for the last two numbers, "Our Life Is Not A Movie (Or Maybe)" and "It's Kicks". Both of the upbeat tunes underscored just how well Okkervil River played as an opening band, and how masterfully they worked such a large venue. We've said it before, but we'll say it again: they're a band who are going to keep getting bigger and bigger - keep your eyes open.

Wilco took the stage right around 8:30, and it was clear from the outset that they were ready to have a good time: everyone was all smiles, and the crowd was eating it up. They led off the set with a old and new mix: "Wilco (The Song)", "Muzzle Of Bees", and "Shot In The Arm". The latter served to really get the crowd going, and proceeded to give way to what would end up being two and a half hours of awesome rock and roll.

At this point, it almost seems moot to mention the technical instrumental wizardry that Wilco brings to the stage, if only because it's such a constant. that being said, they are such a tight unit, that it's still worth bringing up. The onstage rapport, the expert arrangements, and the band's individual talents all serve to create a live awesomeness that really can't be captured outside of being there.

The set list was a healthy mix of new and old material, with a slightly heavier emphasis on the former. The band's forthcoming (as in, this week) new album was well represented, with five tracks accounted for. All of the new material went over extremely well, although for us the highlight was "Bull Black Nova". The song manages to be a bit more edgy than its cohorts on the new record, and in a live setting it was even more so. Definitely tasty.

Of the old material, there were some favorites ("Misunderstood", "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart", "California Stars", and "Jesus Etc" to name a few), and a few surprises. Specifically, we were shocked to hear "Box Full Of Letters" (from AM), and "I Can't Stand It" (the lead off track from Summerteeth). Both of these tracks were somewhat noted in Wilco lore for being radio-friendly, and not particularly loved by the band. That being said, the performances were totally amazing - we're guessing the band's decision to play all of their recorded material in Chicago last year may have been the inspiration. Either way, we were loving it.

At the end of the day, we'll sum it up by saying this: Wilco shows are magical, as are shows at the Greek. Combine the two on a beautiful 70 degree night, and you have about the best dose of entertainment you can get. To get to hear the band tear through such an awesome selection of material, and be smiling while doing it was simply amazing. Nels Cline, as always, delivered knock-you-out guitar solos, and the rest of the band served to provide the pieces for the always-expanding Wilco puzzle. As the night came to a close, and the band tore out some insane solos on "Hoodoo Voodoo", we were left smiling, and knowing we'd be that way for quite a while.

Many more pictures at the HAD Archive

Wilco (The Song)
Muzzle Of Bees
A Shot In The Arm
At Least That's What You Said
Bull Black Nova
You Are My Face
Deeper Down
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
One Wing
Radio Cure
Impossible Germany
California Stars
I Can't Stand It
Jesus, Etc.
Handshake Drugs
Hate It Here
I'm The Man Who Loves You
You Never Know
The Late Greats
Box Full Of Letters
Spiders (Kidsmoke)
Hoodoo Voodoo

David Byrne At The Greek: Videos

Well here we are, two days after, and YouTube is crawling with droves of videos of David Byrne's performance on Friday night. There are so many over there, we recommend you go check it out yourself. In the meantime do yourself a favor and watch the video above: it's a fantastic take on "Burning Down The House" with the Extra Action Marching Band!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

David Byrne Played The Greek Theater - Pictures, Review, Setlist

For the past year or so, David Byrne has been enjoying a bout of renewed popularity and critical acclaim as he's traveled the world promoting his latest record Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. Last night at the Greek Theater, Byrne proved without a doubt that he is more than deserving of the praise. Over a lengthy set with three encores, Byrne and his troupe of dancers and musicians won over the Bay Area crowd with an amazing night of music.

Gypsy-rockers Devotchka opened the night, and delivered a solid set in their own right. The band was instrumentally adept, and effortlessly jumped between guitar, violin, bass, accordion, and even a tuba! Lead singer Nick Urata really gave power to the band's set, and there's no doubt that his vocals certainly share a common thread with Byrne's.

We have to admit, we don't typically fall in love with the gypsy-rock crossover vibe, but Devotchka really made it work. By balancing their gypsy-influenced sound with a really solid dose of rock and roll, they managed to hold on to musical complexity, while at the same time opening up their sound to accessibility and widespread appeal. If you have an opportunity to catch them, do it. You won't regret it.

Byrne took the stage at around nine o'clock, and kicked things off with "Strange Overtones", from his latest record. It's worth noting that despite being heavily loaded with new material, Byrne's set was seamless in terms of audience perception. There was no feeling of "lull" during the new material, and the crowd was going wild almost unrelentingly throughout the show.

A lot of this has to do with the fact that Byrne has managed to amass a live band that is ridiculously tight, and manages to infuse its own persona into the material, while staying true to the originals. The result is a set that is even more riveting than the recorded versions of the material. Everything present in those versions is more pronounced, more available, and more immediate.

Much of that immediacy found it's way into the old Talking Heads material, and it sounded as good as we've ever heard it. "Once In A Lifetime" dug in with a raucous breakdown at its closing, while "Crosseyed and Painless" featured a searing guitar solo from Byrne, and with its "still waiting" refrain, kept the crowd dancing for what seemed like endless moments of awesomeness.

In addition to the band being in top form, Byrne's dance troupe has furthered their already excellent routine since we last saw them. They provided a playful and artistic presence on the stage, and served to give the songs further depth and character. Of note was a surreal moment where Byrne joined the dancers in office chairs, and a fantastic dance number during "Air" featuring a trove of white Stratocasters.

As has become something of a San Francisco tradition, Byrne was joined in the second encore by the Extra Action Marching Band. The band joined Byrne for a killer version of "Road To Nowhere", followed by "Burning Down The House". As if having a marching band join him on stage weren't enough, the second encore also brought along with it a deluge of balloons, further amplifying the party-like atmosphere. If you're thinking "crazy", you're maybe half way there.

The night closed out with Byrne calming the mood a bit with "Everything That Happens". The fittingly mellow closer was followed by a stream of applause from the crowd that simply would not let up. It was painfully clear that not only was the audience loving the show, but the band was loving them right back. Smiles abounded, good times were clearly being had, and everyone wished they could have a bit more. It was a magnificent night, and a fitting way to close out the band's US tour.

Strange Overtones

I Zimbra

One Fine Day

Help Me Somebody

Houses In Motion

My Big Nurse

My Big Hands


Life Is Long

Crosseyed & Painless

Born Under Punches

Once In A Lifetime

Life During Wartime

Feel My Stuff
Take Me To The River

The Great Curve


Road To Nowhere

Burning Down The House


Everything That Happens

Many more pictures at the
HAD Archive

Tonight's Phoenix Show Cancelled Due To Illness

Phoenix at The Paradise, from the HAD Archive

Sorry to say, San Francisco, that Phoenix will not be in the cards this go-round. The band has cancelled tonight's performance at the Regency Grand due to lead singer Thomas Mars being under the weather. From the band's web journal:

"We’re very sorry but we have had to pull out of tonight’s performance at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco.

We are absolutely mortified to have to let you all down but Thomas is unable to sing tonight due to the effects of a viral illness he has contracted. We’re extremely concerned about those of you that bought advance tickets and we will find a way to make sure you can either be refunded or have them swapped for our next SF date in September, which will be announced soon. Please contact your point of purchase for details.

Again, we’re very sorry but there is unfortunately no way for Thomas to do the show and we’d like to thanks you in advance for your understanding."

Total bummer, if we do say so ourselves.

While you're consoling yourself, you may as well watch this killer video (below) of the band performing on Jimmy Kimmel, and then get deciding whether you'll be catching Wilco or Cursive tonight.

Friday, June 26, 2009

New Grand Lake: "This City" (video)

Grand Lake just posted this vid of the band performing a new tune, "This City", while on a recent jaunt to SoCal. It has to be said: despite our love of Nevermint, every new tune we hear from these guys just gets us more psyched for their next record. This vid also marks the first performance we've seen with their new drummer John, and from the look (and sound) of things, that arrangement is working out quite nicely.

We spoke with the band recently, and by all accounts the new album is well under way: tracks have been picked, and demos are set to be recorded in July. In the meantime, you'll just have to make do with their single for "Sandusky Sunset", which in addition to it's tape cassette edition, is now also available digitally. Rawk.

Blur Preselling Live Albums Of Hyde Park Reunion

As we mentioned previously, the "true" Blur reunion will take place in Hyde Park at the beginning of July. Now the band has given notice that the two reunion shows will be recorded, and sold to fans as CD's or downloads. Given that the show is on the other side of the pond, we can guess that there'll be a lot of American interest in picking up these tasty morsels. You can preorder at the Blur on-line store now.

It's A Good Weekend For Music In The Bay

Photo via flickr and Mike GK

What can we say? This is pretty much shaping up to be the optimal San Francisco weekend. Not only is it beautiful weather, but there are droves of good shows, many of them out of doors. Could you really ask for more? If you were thinking of being a bore and just going to a bar or something, check your plans; there's tons to see and hear!

Friday: Saturday: Sunday:

New Spoon EP, Got Nuffin, Due On Tuesday

Well, apparently your year won't be quite a Spoon-less as once thought: The band has taken the fruits of some of their recent studio sessions and decided to release a surprise EP via their label, Merge. The disc will be a three track EP featuring all new songs, and was apparently available to preview on Amazon (though no longer) this morning. Never you worry your little head about it, however, as the record (cover art above) is set to drop this coming Tuesday.

The title track, "Got Nuffin" has been a live staple for the band for a while now, so we're not at all surprised to see it on the lineup. The other two tracks are brand new, and entitled "Tweakers" and "Stroke Their Brains". And to that we say: new Spoon is good Spoon - no exceptions! That being said, we would have loved to have seen some of the band's recent live covers on the disc ("It's Gonna Take An Airplane", "Peace Like A River", etc.), but really there are no complaints here. It's new Spoon!

Unfortunately, we couldn't dig up a copy of the tune for you (Boo! It's awesome! Promise!) So we decided to compensate by offering up two killer tracks from the bands live ouvre. One is a cover of the Smiths' song "Panic", while the other is the band playing "Mountain To Sound" featuring Deerhunter's Bradford Cox. Both are extremely awesome. Happy Friday!

mp3: Spoon - Mountain To Sound (feat. Bradford Cox)
mp3: Spoon - Panic (Smiths cover)

Thanks to Stereogum for the tip.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sunset Rubdown and Witchies Played Rickshaw Stop - Review, Pictures

Last night at Rickshaw Stop, we caught two sets from a pair of Montreal bands: Sunset Rubdown and Witchies. To be frank, we went in pretty much stone cold; we'd heard such good things about Sunset Rubdown, that we figured taking a chance on them in such a small venue would be a safe bet. As it turns out, it was more than that: not only did Sunset Rubdown deliver a dead solid performance for their fans, but openers Witchies were also one of the most charming and engaging openers we've seen in a long time.

Witchies are a three piece from Montreal, and from their first tune they were quick to win over the crowd. Their sound is a jangly brand of synth pop, with accessible melodies, and sometimes sprawling arrangements. The set was well balanced, with a variety of songwriting. The tunes ranged from the poppy and accessible, to a more subtle experimental number which closed the set. The performance was underscored by a comfortable vibe, and smiles on the band's face that reinforced the fact that they were enjoying themselves.

Most of the audience was as surprised as we were with their set, and equally impressed. There were compliments shouted between almost every song, and even as the band finished their set, the applause was heavy and genuine. The band seemed somewhat bewildered by the reception, and given that it was their first real tour, that makes some sense. That being said, with such a solid sound and great songs, we would give them one piece of advice: get used to it.

Witchies were followed by Sunset Rubdown, who quickly loaded a pretty diverse array of instruments onto stage to facilitate their highly variable sound. The band proceeded to play a lengthy set for a crowd that was clearly made up of diehard fans. Almost every song was met with huge cheers, and even the new material had the audience singing along word for word.

Like we mentioned, we had gone into this show stone cold, so we were taking in Sunset Rubdown's sound for the first time. There's no question that the band is well practiced, technically solid, and pushing boundaries with their instrumentation. Not only that, but both Spencer Krug and Camilla Ingr held up their multi-instrumentalist roles to perfection, allowing the band's sound to be far more varied than it would be if band members had been instrumentally pigeon-holed.

Even with a great performance and an enthusiatic crowd, the show just didn't quite win us over. Like we said, performance-wise everything went perfectly; the reality is that it was far more of a matter of personal preference. Between Krug's epic, almost operatic voice, and lyrics that centered around dreamy fantasy imagery, we just couldn't find a niche of the material that we could relate to and really let it take hold. All things being equal, we'd still recommend checking out the band if they're in your town. There's no question that they've got a vital, unique sound, and from our perspective that's more than enough.

The band's tour continues in North America through July.

Many more pictures at the HAD Archive

Sunset Rubdown Summer 2009 Dates
06/26 Portland, OR - Doug Fir Loungew/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
06/27 Seattle, WA - Chop Suey w/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
06/28 Victoria, BC - Sugar Nightclubw/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
06/30 Vancouver, BC - Richard's On Richardsw/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
07/02 Calgary, AB - The Marquee Roomw/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
07/03 Edmonton, AB - The Pawn Shopw/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
07/04 Saskatoon, SK - Louis' Pub
07/05 Winnipeg, MB - West End Cultural Centerw/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
07/06 Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry w/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
07/07 Chicago, IL - Logan Square Auditorium w/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
07/08 Bloomington, IN - Jake's Nightclub w/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
07/10 Toronto, ONT - Lee's Palacew/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
07/11 Montreal, QC - Il Motore w/ Elfin Saddle
09/10 Glasgow, UK - Stereo
09/11 Belfast, UK - Spring and Airbrake
09/12 Dublin, Ireland - Crawdaddy
09/13 Leeds, UK - Brudenell Social Club
09/14 Manchester, UK - The Deaf Institute
09/15 London, UK - Garage
09/16 Cardiff, UK - The Glode

Girls' First Full Length To Drop In September, Summer Tour Underway

Girls At Hotel Utah, From The HAD Archive

We've been digging on San Francisco's Girls ever since we saw their very first show at Port O'Brien's CD release last spring. Since then, the band has been gradually winning over the internet with their catchily-retro sounds, and a killer seven inch released last year.

Today news came down the wire that the band has finally completed the follow up to that seven inch with a full length entitled, simply, Album. The record will drop on September 22nd on True Panther Sounds, and features a whopping twelve tracks. Yum. The band has chosen the live favorite "Hellhole Ratrace" as the lead off single, and accompanied it with a video shot right here in the Bay Area.

If the sound on the "Hellhole Ratrace" video is any indication, this record is going to be a worthy follow up to the band's output thus far. The production is clean and lush, and captures the band's post-Spector vibe perfectly. It's a seven minute epic that slowly builds from a strummy guitar and vocal track, until it culminates in a fuzzy haze of guitar goodness. Check out the vid below.

On top of the video and the record release, the band is also in the midst of touring, and has two San Francisco dates planned, for July 1st and 21st. We can't recommend checking out the band more highly: they truly deliver in a live setting, and given the album's completion, these are bound to be exciting shows, loaded with new material.

Girls Summer 2009 Dates
Jun 25 Mercury Lounge New York, New York
Jun 26 Monster Island Basement Brooklyn, New York
Jun 27 the Cake Shop New York, New York
Jul 1 Club Club You’re Dead @ the Stud with Puce Moment San Francisco, California
Jul 20 the echo los angeles, California
Jul 21 Rickshaw san francisco, California
Jul 23 the backspace a/a portland, Oregon
Jul 24 Biltmore Cabaret vancouver, British Columbia
Jul 25 Capitol Hill Block Party Seattle, Washington
Aug 4 Webster Hall new york, New York
Aug 5 9:30 Club Washington, Washington DC
Aug 6 Grog Shop Cleveland, Ohio
Aug 7 Hideout Chicago, Illinois
Aug 11 Firebird St. Louis, Missouri
Aug 12 Record Bar Kansas city, Missouri
Aug 14 Emos Outside Austin, Texas
Aug 15 Granada Theatre Dallas, Texas
Aug 16 Warehouse (Studio) Houston, Texas
Aug 19 Launchpad Albuquerque, New Mexico
Aug 20 Club Congress Tucson, Arizona
Aug 21 El Rey Theatre L to the A, California
Aug 22 Glass House Pomona, California
Aug 23 Detroit Bar Costa Mesa, California

mp3: Girls - Hellhole Ratrace

RIP: Michael Jackson Dead At Fifty

Well, by now the news is everywhere, but just in case you missed it: the King Of Pop, Michael Jackson himself, died of a heart attack in Los Angeles this afternoon. While Jackson has unquestionable had a rough decade, there can be little said to understate the magnitude and importance he has to the world of music.

For those who were around in the 80's, he was more than a dominant force: he was the definition of musical success. Even more than that, he crossed musical boundaries in such a versatile way that he simultaneously ruled rock, pop, and R&B chart.

We thought we'd include the above video because it captures Jackson at the height of his success, before things devolved, but after he had become a seasoned performer. That, and we just dig "Man In The Mirror" beyond compare.

Keep dancing and singing wherever you are Michael, you will most certainly be missed.

Phoenix: "Twenty One One Zero"

Phoenix at The Paradise, from the HAD Archive

Given that Phoenix doesn't have a very sizeable catalog of b-sides and outtakes, we were psyched to stumble upon one this morning that we had never heard before. The track is called "Twenty One One Zero" and was recorded for the Cartier Love charity. Needless to say, given our obsession with all things Phoenix, we headed right over to snag the free download, and boy were we surprised.

Turns out "Twenty One One Zero" is actually an earlier take on "Love Like A Sunset" from the band's latest, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. The instrumental section is largely similar to the album version, albeit less synthy and more rock and roll. The really significant change is at the end of the tune: this new version features an acoustic denouement, and a significantly simplified vocal to close the song. While we were kind of hoping for a new track, we have to admit: it's super interesting hearing an early version of "Love Like A Sunset", and seeing how it came into its own for the record. Check it out below!

Phoenix plays this Saturday at The Regency Grand.

mp3: Phoenix - Twenty One One Zero

Beck Overhauls Website, Starts Cover Band, Covers The Velvet Underground

We're typically pretty skeptical when we get a press release or update about a website overhaul: They can be interesting, but more often than not, they're just a marketing mechanism for a new record. So, that being said, we were psyched when we went to check out Beck's new website and wound up with an whole lot of awesome.

Specifically, Beck has embarked on a project he calls "Record Club", where he and an assortment of musicians and producers (Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker, Brian Lebarton, Bram Inscore, Giovanni Ribisi, Chris Holmes, and Thorunn Magnusdottir) cover classic records in a twenty four hour period. They then release the tracks weekly, and eventually you have yourself a whole disc. Odd, but cool, right?

Not one turn his nose up at a challenge, Beck has chosen The Velvet Underground & Nico as the first target record of the project. Yes, we were a bit skeptical as well, but you need not worry. The first track ("Sunday Morning") has been posted on the web, and it's damn, damn good. In short, the assemblage of musical heavyweights nails it dead on. Now we're just "Waiting For The Man". Get it? See, it's like, the next track on the record, but also we're waiting for the track. Get it???? Nevermind. xoxo

mp3: Beck - Sunday Morning

Wilco Underwhelmed Us On The Tonight Show

Look, we do like the new Wilco record, and lord knows we're huge fans of Tweedy and Co., but last night's performance on Conan just felt....empty. Sure, the band was playing in their fancy-shmancy suits, but they just seemed spaced out and sort of bland. Suffice it to say that it feel short of what we know the band is capable of, and it didn't exactly help that the refrain of "You Never Know" includes the lyric "I don't care any more".

We're sure things will be much better in Berkeley on Saturday. Stupid TV.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wilco On The Tonight Show Tonight, Webcasting Berkeley On Saturday

Wilco at Jazzfest, from the HAD Archive

As Wilco tours the US and preps for next week's release of their self-titled record, the band is managing to deliver a few mass media performances for those who can't manage to catch them live. This week the band is on the West coast, and is delivering a one two punch.

The first is this evening on NBC's Tonight Show, where the band will join new host Conan O'Brien and presumably deliver a tune from their sparkly record.

The second will be on Saturday night, when the band will stream the entirety of their show at Berkeley's Greek Theater over the glorious interwebs. You can catch it at Wilco's "Roadcase" - frankly, we recommend cancelling your Saturday night plans. It's gonna be delish.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lily Allen: "The Fear" (Live On Letterman)

Sure it's snarky and poppy, and everything that substantive music lacks, but that's sort of the point, no? Whatever it is, we've been obsessed with this tune since we saw Lily Allen on Letterman in April. No question: "The Fear" is tasty.

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Annex: John Lennon, The New York Years

Last week we stopped in at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame's Annex in New York to check out their current featured exhibit John Lennon: The New York City Years. The exhibit (which was curated with the assistance of Yoko Ono) has received oodles of praise, and as such we were psyched to check it out. Having frequented the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland, however, we were inclined to keep our excitement muted. The original museum has always felt too corporate for rock and roll, and more like a record label hall of fame, than "the house that rock built". Still, we were psyched to see the Lennon exhibit, and so we devotedly made our way to the Annex's SoHo location. Suffice it to say, were were pleasantly surprised.

In short, the Annex is nothing like it's big brother: it's small, below ground, subtle, and most importantly in the heart of New York. Sure, once you go inside the museum takes on a more manicured appearance, but the overall vibe is still significantly more gritty and real than anything at the Cleveland location. The museum starts with a short musical montage tracing the history of rock and roll - you'd think it'd be cheesy, but it's not. The sound is cranked, the clips fantastic, and the artists amazing. It seriously sent chills down our collective spine.

From there one enters into a series of galleries that focus on rock and roll, and it's history in New York City. Needless to say, the history of rock in New York is rich, and there's a ton to cover. Ranging from Elvis, to Hendrix, to the Stones, to punk rock and new wave, the museum holds a fast selection of memorabilia from New York's rock and roll past. We have to admit, seeing David Byrne's "big suit" from Stop Making Sense was a personal highlight for us, although there were about twenty other objects (including CBGB's interior) that held up stiff competition. After the tour through the main gallery, one reaches the featured exhibit, which in this case was Lennon: The New York City Years.

To say that the exhibit was lovingly constructed would be an understatement. It is a thorough and well researched of Lennon's stay in New York in the seventies, and features everything one would hope to see. There are pianos, guitars, and clothing. There are hand written lyrics, test pressings of records, and even home movies! More than anything, there is the tangible and real sense of being in close contact with relics of Lennon's memory. For anyone who is even mildly obsessed with Lennon and his work, it's quite a transcendent experience.

That memory is what makes up the other half of the exhibit: there's a strong emphasis on Lennon's personal love of New York, the freedom it afforded him, and his desire to use that freedom to create something worthwhile. The exhibit focuses on his fights for equality and peace, and just how resoundingly they made up the second half of his life. The exhibit poignantly closes with the bag of clothes (unopened) from the day of Lennons death, accompanied by a petition to increase gun control in the US. It's a heartbreaking moment, and it'll stick with you, to say the least.

Entering into the Annex, we were admitedly skeptical, but we've been converted. Granted the admission is high, and there's still a slightly corporate vibe, but the fact of the matter is that this time the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame has done things right. The museum is tasteful, authentic, and most importantly - fun. The Lennon exhibit serves to underscore the museum's legitimacy, and really is quite something to take in. What's more, the museum keeps late hours, so making it part of your Saturday night (as we did) is also an option.

Next time you're in SoHo, stop in and check it out. We're willing to bet you won't be sorry.

Ryan Adams: "If I Am A Stranger" (Original 7" Version)

This tune made it's best known appearance on Ryan Adams' record Cold Roses, but its first appearance was on a significantly rarer, and much more raw seven inch, released on Adams' own Pax American records. As far as we can tell, the label only ever released three seven inches, all in 2004, and all comprised of Adams' home demos.

The Now That You're Gone release (above), was perhaps the most notable, as it gave an almost-preview as to what was coming up from Adams. It contained two tracks from Cold Roses, but presented in a vastly different form. That record would launch him in a completely new direction of much more choreographed and ornate arrangements that continues to this day.

Perhaps that's why this version of "If I Am A Stranger" is just so interesting: It hints at the potential for Adams to have taken a different direction. The sound is one far closer to his trademark "sad bastard" (his words) music, and also a step closer to the Heartbreaker II that fans are forever lusting after.

Is it better than the album version? It's hard to say. What is true without question is that the juxtaposition of the two serves to illustrate not only Adams' versatility as a musician, but also just how much production values can shape and define a song. If only all musicians were so forthcoming with the many stages of songwriting, the world would be a much more interesting place.

mp3: Ryan Adams - If I Am A Stranger (7" Version)

A Book You Should Read: The Replacements, All Over But The Shouting: An Oral Histroy

We'll risk universal scorn and condemnation as we admit that until around a year ago, we really had very little first hand knowledge of The Replacements. Sure, we had heard some of the most lauded tracks, and we knew that a lot of our favorite artists worshiped the band, but we didn't have any real direct insight. A lot of that has to do with the fact that the band imploded before we were even old enough to be attending gigs, and even more of it has to do with the fact that despite critical acclaim, they never really crossed over to mainstream appeal.

Still, it's not as though we weren't interested in the band. Rather, they were conveniently stacked in a pile labeled "bands you should really look into". It's an always expanding stack, and as you can imagine, quite large. So it was a great bit of serendipity when we received All Over But The Shouting as a gift, and proceeded to become quickly and enjoyably indoctrinated into the world of The Replacements.

Just as labeled, the book is in fact an oral history: it's comprised of almost entirely direct, first hand quotes from the people involved in the events. The result is that the reader sees an often conflicting view of a band with an unquestionably tumultuous history. Many memories disagree, and even when memories match, opinions can be at odds. Still, author Jim Walsh does a masterful job of arranging the quotations such that one gains a thorough and insightful perspective on the many reasons the band was so vital and so self destructive at the same time.

We entered into reading All But The Shouting as complete Replacements virgins. That being what it is, we have to say we think the book is suitable for new and old fans alike. If you're just discovering the band, it will give you the insight and comprehension necessary to appreciate their legacy. If you're a lifelong fan, it will give you tons of quirky details and anecdotes you may never have heard before. Either way, it's a riveting read involving one of the most strikingly relevant bands of the past 20 years, and it's well worth your while.

mp3: The Replacements - I Will Dare

Monday, June 22, 2009

White Rabbits Played The Independent - Pictures, Review

Saturday night at The Independent, White Rabbits delivered a searing set that undeniably confirmed that their killer performance on Letterman last month was far more than a fluke. The band, which consists of six members (including two drummers), is tight knit in a way that suggests not only hours of diligent practice, but also a finely honed rapport that held firm even when the songs reached out beyond the confines of their album versions.

However, which album that refers to had a significant effect on the performance. While we're huge fans of the band's new record, we have to say that the older material felt like a distinctive lull in the set. Granted, it was just as well put together, but it lacked a certain experimentalism and boundry testing that the new material delivered in spades. We were particularly taken with the ethereal version of "Midnight And I", and the riveting energy of "Percussion Gun" and "Rudie Fails".

When a band releases a second record that drastically overshadows their first (Think Wilco, Spoon, Elton John, David Bowie and Elvis Costello, to name a few), it can be difficult to digest the ensuing tour. After all, the band has reached a new level, but is still reaching into their back catalog to fill out the set and keep things balanced. This is exactly what White Rabbits did on Saturday, and they managed to keep their efforts afloat primarily because they are such a tight, energetic unit. Yet from what we could see It's Frightening has clearly established a new direction for the band, that only stands to expand in the coming years. Frankly, we couldn't be happier.

Many more pictures at the HAD Archive

mp3: White Rabbits - Percussion Gun

Jeff Tweedy: "Millionaire"

Jeff Tweedy in Bend, OR, from the HAD Archive

This tidbit was played only six times at a handful of dates in 2002 and 2003 (including Loose Fur's two night stand at St. Ann's Warehouse), and makes us smile every time we hear it. It's a classic example of Tweedy's acerbic wit, drenched simultaneously in melancholy, skepticism, and condecension. It also manages to layer a sparse melody on top of an almost classic country chord progression, while the lyrical content is unquestionably modern.

Given Tweedy's recent turn towards more affable songwriting, we wouldn't recommend getting up your hopes of seeing "Millionaire" on record any time soon. That being said, it's always nice to have gems like this in the archive - it's one of the things that makes live music so fantastic!

mp3: Jeff Tweedy - Millionaire

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2009 Lineup Announced: Steve Martin, Aimee Mann, Neko Case, Okkervil River, Old 97's And More

The always-classic, always-free tradition of San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival is back, and this year seems to be more firmly cemented in its country roots. A partial artist lineup has just been announced and the headliners include Steve Martin, Aimee Mann, Neko Case, Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson and others.

Conspicuously absent are the heavyweight rock figures that have graced the festival in the past couple of years. We found this particularly surprising given Elvis Costello's particularly folky recent release. However, it is worth mentioning that a number of "alt country" bands are putting in appearances, including The Old 97's, Okkervil River, and Dr. Dog. It's nice to see the "rock" side of the festival continue to be represented, even if it's not by such heavyweights as Costello and Plant.

The festival will take place the first weekend in October in Golden Gate Park. Head over to the Hardly Strictly site to check out the full list.

Friday, June 19, 2009

So much awesomeness.

That is all.

(Via iri5 on flickr)

Weekend Entertainment: Wolfgang's Vault Has The Clash, Talking Heads, And Joe Strummer

It's been a little while since we've seen any new material that caught our eye on Wolfgang's Vault, but apparently when it rains, it pours. This weekend the streaming site has shows from The Clash and Talking Heads, as well as a two part interview with Joe Strummer. Yes, tasty indeed.

The Clash show is from The Agora Ballroom in Ohio circa 1979, and as such it has a selection of tracks from the band's first two records. Some of those tracks (especially from the second album) got rarer in later years, so it's nice to catch a live version of some of those tracks. We were psyched to see "Stay Free" on the list.

The Talking Heads set is from a 1977 set at CBGB for King Biscuit Flower Hour. It was recorded prior to the band's debut 77, but also interesting contains their cover of "Take Me To The River" from the second album. If you want raw, early Talking Heads, this is your cup of tea.

Finally, the Joe Strummer interview is made up of two parts, one from 1983 and one from 1984. The focus is largely on the breakup of The Clash, and decidedly absent is the optimistic Joe of the late 90's. It's interesting, to say the least.

All in all, these three serve to underscore why Wolfgang's Vault continues to be filed under "awesome" here at HAD - free, rare, new concerts every week? Too cool.

Stream: The Clash Live At Agora Ballroom
Talking Heads Live At CBGB's
Joe Strummer Interview