Wednesday, July 28, 2010

JBM and Sondre Lerche Played Mercury Lounge: Pictures, Review

Last night we stopped in at Mercury Lounge to catch fantastic sets from two fiercely divergent songwriters, and to celebrate a record release to boot. The first, Sondre Lerche, delivered his customary playful, endearing, and rocking set. In contrast, Jesse Marchant (as JBM) delivered a set that leveraged his own unique musicality over a variety of genres and sounds.

Sondre Lerche took to the stage just after 9:30, and broke into the set with a new song on a tuned down acoustic guitar. After wrestling with the tuning for a bit, Lerche delivered "Red Flags", which took a slightly darker take on his earlier material, while at the same time holding on firmly to his innate sense of melody.

Over the next hour, Lerche's set traversed most of his career, although it tended to focus more on his newer material. Of particular note were a jumpy, staccato, electric version of "Dead Passengers" that ended up with Lerche jamming himself into a frenzy of guitar explosiveness. Another new song made it's way out at the end of the set. Entitled "Domino", it also used the down-tuned acoustic, and was similarly dark in delivery.

His set was accented by the arrival of two musical guests, the violinist "K", and a duet with Dawn on the always-lovely "Modern Nature". While not strictly necessary, the guests (along with a variety of guitars and a high energy level) served to bring some variety to Lerche's set, and keep him from falling too far down the black hole of "guy with a guitar" blandness. To the contrary, he delivered a set that was dynamic, jovial, and almost impossibly lovable.

Soon after, Jesse Marchant (JBM) took to the stage for a set that would also last about an hour. In contrast to Lerche's set, which was unified in its sound and delivery, Marchant delivered a set that ran the gamut between quiet and loud, stoic and rocking, solo and with band. The stark contrast between songs served Marchant, as it called attention not only to his versatility, but his ability to completely embrace each of the genres completely.

The material (as might be expected) was sourced largely (entirely?) from his debut record Not Even In July, for which last night was the record release party. However, much like the record, the tracks varied in their arrangement and instrumentation. For part of the set, Marchant was joined on stage by openers Diamond Doves as his backing band, and for others he took a solo seat to his songs. Moreover, even his solo act varied, sometimes finding him behind a makeshift drumkit, sometimes with a harmonica and guitar, and sometimes behind the keyboard.

If all of this variations seems like a bit much to believe, you feel about the same way we did witnessing it. Even more remarkable was that Marchant pulled off his many roles with ease, and topped it off with a voice that was one of the best we've heard live in a very long time. With an innate ease of delivery, Marchant's vocals rode on top of the instrumentation like an effortless wave of melody. To hear it is to believe it, we say.

Last night was JBM's record release, and he should be more than a little excited: not only has Jesse Marchant created a killer record, but he also has proven that he can deliver a live performance that surpasses the quality of his recorded material by a long shot.

More photos at the HAD Archive

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sea of Bees and Matt Bauer Played Rock Shop - Pictures, Review

Last week we stopped in at the recently-opened Rock Shop, and caught a show from two artists both firmly rooted in the singer-songwriter tradition. Sea Of Bees, the brainchild of Julie Ann Bee, was operating in solo mode, while Brooklyn local Matt Bauer made an appearance with his full band and more. The show was a poignant glimpse into the artists' worlds, and both delivered sets that underscored their recorded work to a T.

Sea of Bees started off the night, and as mentioned, was firmly in solo mode. Julie Ann Bee played a set that definitely emphasized her distinctive vocals and, with solo arrangements, took on a simpler quality that exposed both the lyrics and the melody as the two pronged heart of her unique songwriting.

Interestingly, Bee's stoic songwriting was underscored by her playful demeanor and banter onstage. Unafraid to discuss neither the songs nor their content, Bee offered up a stage presence that was at once playful, honest, and completely endearing.

Bee was followed by Matt Bauer, who took to the stage with a formidable lineup of guitar, upright bass, clarinet, and Bauer's own banjo. The combination was undeniably unusual, and curiously made for a very natural and well hewn sound that perfectly supported Bauer's bassy vocal timbre.

Part of what held our attention with the band was their undeniable chemistry. We later learned that the guitarist and bassist are brothers, which perhaps explains part of it. But even more than simple sibling bonds, the entire band managed to have a synchronized approach to their playing that held the set together brilliantly.

Towards the end of the set Jolie Holland joined Bauer on stage, and the two sang a newly composed duet. After hearing Bauer and his band for the beginning of the set, Holland offered up a nice variation. Moreover, it was clear that she and Bauer have worked together extensively, and their vocal interplay was clearly well practiced.

At the end of the night, we were happy to have caught two amazing sets from two amazing songwriters. Yes, there are a million folks out there trying to get their tunes out in the world, and sometimes it can be tough to wade through. But in our opinion, these are two that are more than worth your time.

Big Star Vintage Video

We were trolling around the youtubes the other day, and stumbled upon this gem of a vid that we thought you might like. We've been on a bit of a Big Star kick lately, so that's probably why we ended up on this little tidbit - who knows? Anyway, it's some great footage shot by Chris Bell and Andy Hummel during the recording of the band's first album, #1 Record.

Why the poster in question chose to pair such vintage video with audio from the band's third record, we have no idea. Go figure. Either way, it's an awesome look back into the reality of the moment when these guys were just getting started, and we've provided a slightly more era-appropriate soundtrack below. Enjoy!

Deerhunter Previews Halcyon Digest With Leaks To Street Team And Homemade Video

First, we'll start with this: Deerhunter has a new record on tap for the fall, and it's entitled Halcyon Digest. Yes, agreed. This is very, very, good news. But it gets better. You see, the band has decided on something of a fan-driven marketing campaign for the record, and as such has enlisted their street team to start pushing the album in exchange for a taste of the goods in advance.

Lucky for you, dear reader, the internet knows know bounds, and so the result of this endeavor has been the leak of two (so far) tracks via this fan-centric marketing system. Both tracks were obtained via the Halcyon Digest website (password: "tapereel"), and were originally intended as a bonus to said street team.

The first, entitled "Revival", is what could be (at least post-Microcastle) as straight ahead Deerhunter: Spector-esque drums, loads of reverb, and Bradford Cox's double tracked vocals all contribute to make this little ditty quite sweet on the ears. The second, entitled "Radio Play", is much more of an ambient noise piece, and blows by in an instant.

Finally, the band has also posted a video in support of the record (above). While it's clear the band in the video is not Deerhunter, we're having trouble discerning if the audio track is a rough mix of the song, or just a band that's pretty damn good at aping their vibe. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Either way, with the record still 2 months away, things are just getting started, and from the looks of it, this is going to be fun!

Halcyon Digest is out September 28th via 4AD

Monday, July 26, 2010

JBM: New Music, CD Release Party Tomorrow Night At Mercury Lounge

Last night as we were puttering our way around the internet (as we are wont to do), we stumbled upon the musical awesomeness of JBM. The enterprise is the musical pursuit of Jesse Marchant, and sees its first real release to the world tomorrow, with the full length not even in July. The record (which is streaming in full on JBM's site) is an unnerving mix of genres that is all at once atmospheric, melodic, and steeped in the annals of rock and roll.

Much of the record sounds like it was recorded at two in the morning after a day that seemed like it would never end. It's as though the musicians are at long last allowed to play what they actually want to play, and that finally the outside world has been rendered irrelevant. Put differently, the music is honest, stoic, and real.

Marchant's vocals are restrained and delicate in a way that suggests he's resigned to get his music out there, regardless of what pain or chaos might be in store. For their part, his band does a magnificent job at underpinning his vocal delivery with music that is both understated and poignant. They do a fantastic job creating a sound that recalls 50 other talented and melancholy singer songwriters, but at the same time completely comes into its own. If that isn't enough to convince you, Marchant also has a killer Daytrotter Session that more than shows off just why we dug him so much right out of the gate.

Luckily for us, Marchant is a New York resident, and as such has decided to launch the record in his home town, at the venerable Mercury Lounge. Not only will it be an exquisite opportunity to hear Marchant's awesome musicality in a live environ, but the show also features the fantastic Sondre Lerche in an opening slot. Yes: it's going to be as awesome as it sounds. See you there.

mp3: JBM - Winter Ghosts (Daytrotter Session)

Ryan Adams Unleashes Recording Plans Via Facebook

Yes, we heard all about it too: Ryan Adams "quit" rock and roll. But did you really think that'd last? Come on! This is a man who bleeds melody - he can't take the dog for a walk without dreaming up a new idea for a record.

After his "retirement", Adams started up the comeback engines with his sci-fi metal concept album Orion. While the record is a seriously fun listen, it wasn't exactly classic Adams in any sense. Well now Adams is truly back in the saddle, and he's giving updates to the fans (of course) via facebook.

Over the past couple of weeks, Adams has posted information to his facebook page about two separate recording sessions. One of the sessions Adams has described as "based around my acoustic with some stark drums/bass/piano in there. I'm keeping these recordings simple". The other session is apparently more of a filled out sound: "What started as a weekend studio hang with Johnny and Tom Schick turned into some kind of Smiths/Simple Minds/Love Is Hell throw-back and just way too much fun to not finish".

In short, let us say this: we are very, very, excited. Adams hasn't recorded anything in quite a while, much less a Cardinals-free endeavor. Save, that is, for a few Pax Am digital singles over the past year (see below). The fact that the creative juices are flowing with one of our fave songwriters (and for two records no less!) is some of the best news we've heard in a while. Now we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed that all that studio time sees the light of day...

mp3: Ryan Adams - Tomorrowland (From Pax Am Digital Single 003)

EELS Drop Video For "Spectacular Girl"

While we've gotten pretty used to absorbing Mr. E's tweaked out world view, this new video for EELS' "Spectacular Girl" takes things to a new level. Apparently the song's protagonist is just so spectacular because she's actually a BEAUTIFUL UNDERCOVER SNIPER. Yes, we know, it's fucking weird. But then again, what isn't these days. Plus, if someone can really be an undercover sniper and still be bothered to show up at the office, well, that's pretty spectacular indeed.

Tomorrow Morning is out August 24th, EELS Play Terminal 5 on September 25th

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Caribou Coming To Webster Hall

Caribou at Bowery Ballroom, from the HAD Archive

If last week's free show on Governor's Island didn't fill your Caribou quota (and really, how could it?), then you're in luck. The band will be returning to New York for the third time this year when they visit Webster Hall on September 22nd. While we'd typically be a little skeptical of so many stops in the big apple in a 6 month span, we're gonna hold our tongues this time. Caribou deliver such a monster live show, we'd probably go see them every week for a year if we had the chance.

New Music: Mi Ami

We had never heard of San Francisco locals Mi Ami before this track landed in our inbox, but we'll let you know how we feel right off the bat: we fucking love it. Pounding with intensity and freneticism that's reminiscent of the very best of No Wave, this band is in it to win it, and from what we can tell, they're doing a pretty damn good job.

While the band has yet to mount a full blown tour, SF natives are lucky enough not to have to wait around. The band has two San Francisco dates scheduled at the moment, and both are in small rooms that will warm your hearts. The first is next Wednesday, the 28th, at Rickshaw Stop, while the second is on August 5th at The Knockout.

Judging by what we've heard, these are gonna be some pretty sick shows, but don't take our word for it: check out the mp3 and video below. If they don't get you stoked, then maybe you should hit up the doctors office, okay kid?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Guided By Voices Push Reunion Beyond Matador Fest

You may recall that we mentioned a Guided By Voices reunion at the upcoming Matador fest in Vegas. Well now word has leaked out that the band has reconvened for an entire reunion tour, and it's a doozy. Covering a good portion of the US (although more focused on the East Coast) the tour will see the band hitting the road for the first few weeks in October.

For New Yorkers that means a tour-closer at Terminal 5, while San Francisco will see a show at The Warfield early on in the tour. Big-ish venues, yes. Most of these shows go on sale this week (dates and some passwords below), and they're sure to sell like hotcakes, so get on it!

Guided By Voices Reunion Tour 2010
9/30 | East Side Drive | Austin, TX | On Sale 7/16 at 12pm
10/3 | Pearl Theatre | Las Vegas, NV
10/4 | Wiltern | Los Angeles, CA | Pre-sale date TBA
10/5 | Warfield | San Francisco, CA | On sale 7/23 10am-10pm password “bee thousand”
10/7 | Crystal Ballroom | Portland, OR | On sale 7/20
10/9 | Showbox So Do | Seattle, WA | On Sale 7/26 at 10am
10/12 | First Avenue | Minneapolis, MN | On Sale 7/16 at 12pm
10/13 | The Vic | Chicago, IL | On Sale 7/24 at 10am
10/15 | Southgate House | Newport, KY | On Sale 7/16 at 10am
10/16 | Outlands Live | Columbus, OH | On Sale 7/16 10am
10/21 | 9:30 Club | Washington, D.C. | On Sale 7/17 at 10am
10/22 | Cat’s Cradle | Carrboro, NC | On Sale 7/16 at 10am
10/23 | Buckhead Theater | Atlanta, GA | On Sale 7/24 at 10am
11/4 | Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
11/5 | Paradise | Boston MA | On Sale 7/17 at 12pm
11/6 | Trocadero | Philadelphia PA | On Sale 7/17 at 12pm
11/7 | Terminal 5 | New York City, NY | On Sale 7/23 at 12pm

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wild Beasts: Mercury Prize Nomination, 10" Release, US Mini-Tour

Wild Beasts are one of the musical treats we've unintentionally kept in our back pocket over the past year. Their fantastic record Two Dancers has been in constant rotation at HAD since last winter, and before we get to the new-news, we'll tell you this: if you don't have the record yet, get it. It's a fantastic and original journey into melody and rhythm, with some fantastically unique vocals to boot. Well worth your while.

So. Given that, we were psyched (although not really surprised) to see that the record has been nominated for Britain's prestigious Mercury Prize. Not being ones to rest on their laurels, however, the band isn't waiting idly by for the winners to be announced. They've put together a 10" single for "We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues" that's chalk full of bonus tracks, and they've plotted a nice little tour to go along with it.

The tour will consist of six dates, with stops in Chicago, Toronto, New York, San Francisco, and LA. Those of you in SF will get to dance to the loveliness at Outside Lands, while New York will find the band at Highline Ballroom. Both very fine options, if we say so ourselves. Moreover, it may be your last chance to see these guys in a smallish room, so get there while you can!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Buke & Gass Plot Fall Tour

Well, we told you they were awesome, and now you've got a chance to see for yourself. Buke & Gass have just plotted a fall tour that will see them traversing a very good portion of the US, and working their musical magic in the process. As we mentioned before, we love these guys on record, but their live show is even better. The duo makes enough noise for a five piece, and we mean that in the best way possible. Get your tickets now, and don't miss out on the awesomeness!

mp3: Buke and Gass - Medulla Oblongata

Buke & Gass Fall Tour 2010

Tuesday, Sept. 7 – Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa
Wednesday, Sept. 8 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace
Thursday, Sept. 9 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern
Friday, Sept. 10 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
Saturday, Sept. 11 – Minneapolis, MN @ Walker Arts
Monday, Sept. 13 – Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
Tuesday, Sept. 14 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
Friday, Sept. 17 – Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
Saturday, Sept. 18 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
Monday, Sept. 20 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
Tuesday, Sept. 21 – Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour
Wednesday, Sept. 22 – Mexico?!
Thursday, Sept. 23 – Mexico?!
Friday, Sept. 24 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk
Saturday, Sept. 25 – Frisco, TX @ Lochrann’s Irish Pub (Oysterfest!)
Sunday, Sept. 26 – Memphis, TN @ Hi Tone
Monday, Sept. 27 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
Wednesday, Sept. 29 – Washington, DC @ DC9
Thursday, Sept. 30 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
Friday, Oct. 1 – New York, NY @ Santo’s Party House
Saturday, Oct. 2 – Brooklyn, NY @ Glasslands

Wilco's Kicking Television At IFC in HD Tomorrow

While many of you, we're sure, own and enjoy Wilco's DVD Ashes Of American Flags (trailer below), tomorrow night at IFC offers something of a unique experience even for those who have it at home. In short, the film will be showing on the big screen (yes!) in high definition (double yes!). On top of that, there's all sorts of goodness going on at the showing, like a ticket giveaway to the Solid Sound Festival and, more importantly, the ability to nerd out with other New York Wilco fans. Yes, that means us too. See you there!

On Fillmore Played Le Poisson Rouge: Pictures and Review

Last Thursday night, we stopped in to Le Poisson Rouge to check out Glenn Kotche and Darin Gray's project On Fillmore, in one of their rare live appearances. After talking with the band last week, we couldn't have been more excited to see what was in store for us. Going into the show, we didn't know what to expect, but when we left we had been rewarded a show that was so dynamic, it almost defied description. Fun, experimental, technical, diverse, immersive; all of these words could be used to describe the awesomeness that On Fillmore brings to the live environ.

The show began with a solo set from pianist Rachel Grimes. Grimes started out with her own fantastic arrangement of a Philip Glass string quartet, and followed it with a complete delivery of her own Book Of Leaves. The piece was something of a sonic roller coaster, and drifted between pensive, playful, and ambient. Heard in its entirety, it was unquestionably rewarding, and we definitely recommend you check it out.

Shortly thereafter, On Fillmore took the stage, and started things out with their "typical" placement: Kotche behind the percussion kit, and Gray behind his bass. The rapport between the two was immediately apparent, and any sense might have that On Fillmore's compositions were random or unplanned was immediately dispelled. Between the eye contact and musical interplay, it was clear that these two have carefully considered every aspect of their interactions on stage.

That being said, as the performance commenced, it also became more playful and freeform. Gray and Kotche are clearly good friends, and on stage they're love of the music and each other is overwhelmingly evident. Whether it was tossing instruments at each other, taking turns walking (and getting lost in) the audience, or simply using their homemade bird calls to "talk" on stage, the two demonstrated a playful curiosity that is rare in music, and even more rare in those individuals making music on the edge of experimentalism.

If the quality and playfulness were two hallmarks of the performance, then the third was unquestionably musicianship. Both men took turns jumping between instruments, and were all around the room. Over the course of the set, one or the other (or both) of the men laid hands upon instruments ranging from bass to drums to piano to guitar to homemade instruments of all sorts. In short, they ran the gamut of everything that was available to them, and it was delightful.

It can be tough to rope new listeners into music as innovative and different as On Fillmore's, and in our interview Kotche said that he thought the key to "getting it" might be careful listening. While we'd tend to agree with him, we'd also say this: part of music is a human experience, and being in a room with Kotche and Gray was a human experience that not only made their music immediately comprehensible, but endeared it to the hearts of the listeners. We left the room on Thursday with a love of the record that we never could have gotten any other way than by experiencing it with its creators.

Many more pictures in the HAD Archive

Of Fillmore play the Solid Sound Festival this August.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Glenn Kotche of On Fillmore: The HAD Interview

As previously mentioned, Glenn Kotche and Darin Gray will be bringing their two-man act On Fillmore to Le Poisson Rouge tonight as part of a small East Coast tour. As they drove out for the shows, Glenn and Darin were kind enough to give us a call from the road and bring us up to date on what to expect from the band, as well as some insights on where they're going with their distinctive sound. With Darin backing him up from the driver's seat, this is our conversation with Glenn. Enjoy!

Hippies Are Dead: So I know that you and Darin met through Jim O’Rourke, your collaboration. And I was wondering about when you guys go into the studio, a lot of the compositions seem to have an atmospheric feel to them and I was wondering how the creative process works compositionally for On Fillmore. Do you guys spend a lot of time experimenting and grabbing the pieces you like best, or do you come in with compositions already scored, does that work?

Glenn Kotche: Kind of a bunch of different ways, but I guess we usually come up with ideas on our own, you know little melody snippets, things like that. Generally we’ll have an idea of what we want to do with the record before we get into it, and then we’ll get into the studio and work on ideas and arrangements and form and other parts. It’s usually just trial and error, we’ll use different field recordings we made, or on this last record we made our own field recordings in the studio as well. You know, different combinations of sounds. We go through a lot of different options and see what resonates with us, and that’s how we kind of form it. But the reality of living apart in two different cities, and my touring schedule, and Darin’s schedule, we don’t get a whole lot of time to just get together and work out ideas, so that’s why maybe some of the initial preparation’s done separately, and then we come together.

HAD: So when you do that, if one of you comes to the table with an idea, do you build out the parts and arrangements from there?

GK: Yeah....

HAD: Yeah?

GK: Sorry, we’re in a van, we’re kind of lost, I’m just trying to help. Okay, no, Darin’s got it now. Yeah, that’s basically how it works: we’ll flesh it out. I guess we’re both a little hesitant of getting anything a little too fully formed on our own. Because it is a duo, and we definitely both chime in on every decision that happens, you know, we try and bring things in a little rawer state. Even if it’s a song, there are some examples on the last record, where even if Darin already had the melody and chords written, I’d come in and suggest different field recordings and we’d choose it that way, or sometimes it’s the opposite. We basically try to collaborate on every aspect of it.

HAD: I was wondering about the field recordings: there’s a lot of bird noises and animal noises on the record, but there’s also a lot of human noises. Grunts, and coughs, and that sort of thing. When you add those to the composition, do you feel like you have an academic message behind it, or is it more of an aesthetic noise based addition to the piece? Do you see it as being noise, or adding structure, or what do those additions mean to you?

GK: Those are all really great questions, and I think one way to answer it would be that we think in terms of place. The way that it’s composed, we’re trying to create places with with music. That’s kind of the idea behind this band from the beginning. Even the name, On Fillmore, it’s a place more than a thing. And the idea of us living in different cities, our past records have dealt with that, and the distance between us. This last record, because we had some time off, we basically with Extended Vacation wanted to create these sort of mystery places, that maybe feel a little familiar, but then also you can’t put your finger on what they are. Some of those elements, some of the elements you’re talking about, and field recordings, some of it is Darin, he just makes sounds when he’s playing bass. You’ll hear his actual vocal grunts, and others are me recording, there was this church group meeting going on at a hotel I stayed at, and just stuck the recorder next to the door and recorded them through the wall. They were having conversations, and laughter, and just sort of all these elements that seem either....we decide the element works when it makes us a little puzzled. When it seems something comforting, but at the same time opens a whole new set of questions. “What is this? I think I’m getting it, but at the same time, this feels comfortable, but I’m kind of afraid at the same time.” I know this all seems a little ambiguous the way I’m explaining it, but I think that’s when we know something’s right. It’s not, “Oh! We need this and this and this”, and it’s premeditated, that we want, you know, a dog snoring on the record, or bird calls. It’s just that, these are the elements that really help create a sense of place that we’re trying to create for the listener. Essentially, as lame as it sounds, for them to take a journey with us, and with Extended Vacation, it was basically “Here’s a tour of these imaginary places we’ve been since you were with us last”.

HAD: It’s interesting that you should say that, in terms of ambiguity and creating a sense of place. There was one interview I read where the interviewer was saying they had used the record to decorate their Christmas tree to. That was the sense of place for them, but for me listening to the record it was a totally different place, so I guess it accomplishes that goal. In terms of that sense of place, it’s kind of an interesting contrast how the record has this human element where you can hear instruments playing, and grunts, and the human side of it. Do you think that when you were in the studio recording, you know, today so many recordings are so clean and sterile, and very much like “Let’s get the recording perfect”. What kind of recording setup do you guys use? Because it feels very organic.

GK: Exactly. You nailed it - that’s one of the principal things of this band. We don’t want anything on the records that sounds like it’s store bought, if that makes sense. The percussion, or, we’ll both just prepare different things, or combine different instruments in different ways to make new sounds out of them. You know, even with vibes, vibes are a very common set of sounds, but maybe we’ll play two sets of vibes with motors on different speeds, and different mallets, and then use the ring from crotalis over it. Just combining different sounds to create something different. To get that organic sound, to get it to sound like, I don’t know, we’re both just big fans of field recordings. It goes back to even all the old Explorer series, and field recordings of indigenous music from Asia and Africa where it’s just a microphone out in a field, and you hear all kinds of sounds along with the music. You hear dancing, you hear cooking, and whatever else. You hear the place, and I think that’s something that inspires us. We try to keep away from anything that’s too clean and obvious. There are bird sounds all over this record, but they’re all manmade. They’re all whistles. We didn’t just download a bunch of bird sounds and pick the one the felt good - that was too obvious. We want them to sound like birds, but have them raise an eyebrow too, if that makes sense. Something that creates this place that’s a little more special and unique.

HAD: When you guys were doing the recordings, how did they fall in terms of live performance versus overdubs? Was everything simultaneous, or how did that work?

GK: Usually anything that’s playing, we’ll play together. If it’s bass and drums, that’s together, or bass and vibes, that’s together. And then, you know, if I’m doubling crotalis with vibes or something, then that’s an overdub. Same thing with field recordings. Some of those are recorded separately and we’ll fly them in the fact. Then in the studio, we’ll just set up a mic, and get on the floor surrounded by stuff and make our own field recordings. And play together, and put that on top. We try to keep it as simple as possible, not get caught up in a lot of different effects and things, we try to do it ourselves. There’s an example of “Daydreaming So Early”, there’s a weird part where the vibes sound all crackly and broken up. Instead of messing with plugins and everything to get this weird distorted vibe sound, Darin went to the back of the Wilco loft, and called me on his cell phone, and I put my cell phone next to the vibes, and then we recorded through his cell phone. You just get that natural static. It gave us this sense of “you’re trying to call this remote place, that’s kind of there, you’re getting a glimpse, but you’re not really...” I don’t know, it creates a little more mystery I think.

HAD: I know you guys said you have pretty hectic schedules, how long did you spend in the studio recording this record?

GK: (To Darin) How long did we spend recording this one? (To HAD) Yeah, it was probably about two weeks time recording this one from start to finish.

HAD: Maybe I’m wrong, not knowing the context, but it seems like for you that you’re playing a more diverse group of instruments than you would be on a Wilco record. Is that accurate, or are they just more up front on this record.

GK: Oh yeah, that’s accurate. On this record there’s two of us playing, and when I make solo records, I play even more! But with a duo, we’re both playing a lot of different instruments. You know, on this record Darin’s playing guitar, and all sorts of percussion, and same with me. With Wilco, there’s six guys, so you have to be a little more refined in terms of what you choose to play.

HAD: When you and Darin play is it a free for all? Do you pick up whatever you want to play, and there’s no boundaries in terms of who’s playing what?

GK: I wouldn’t say there’s any boundaries really, because we resisted it. Part of the reason for our duo is to not have any lead instrument, no guitars. And we resisted that, and yet, guitar ended up on this record. It’s not that we just pick up whatever and go for it. We’re really careful and discuss and really think about the sounds that we choose. If I’m going to play vibes as opposed to glockenspiel or crotalis. It’s not like “oh, I feel like playing vibes”. We really think about which sound is going to blend best with what’s going on, and what we’re trying to convey. So all the sounds were chosen really carefully, but we also know we have a really broad range of what we can choose from.

HAD: So when you were approaching this from the angle of creating and atmosphere and a place, as opposed to laying down melodies - despite the fact that it’s a very ambient and atmospheric record, but there’s also a lot of strong melody going on, particularly with the bass and with the vibes. Do you feel like the compositions, that you restrained melody so that it wouldn’t overwhelm the sense of place?

GK: I think we view melody in a broader sense with this band, in that there’s definitely pitched melodies on bass or pitched tuned percussion, but maybe sometimes we’ll get into a long repetition of those things happening over and over. It’s not just a short, simple melody being repeated over and over, but that now there’s a melody that happens to be in bird calls. The melody in our mind is the evolution of what’s happening in the relationship between a field recording of a fly and random wood block kit,m or whatever the example might be. We’re trying to think of melody as a sequence of events, and opposed to an arrangement of pitches.

HAD: I know you’ve done some New Music stuff with “Clapping Music” and “In C”, how do you as a musician get the listener engaged in these new definitions of music, when maybe they might not be familiar with them?

GK: Haha, well that’s the million dollar question. If I understand correctly, we’re pushing our own definitions of music, and you’re asking how it is that we can get the audience to grasp on to that?

HAD: Well it seems to the Western pop music ear, people are usually pursuing that more conventional definition of melody, with a pitch based hook. I guess a different way of saying it would be how you find yourself engaged in these new definitions. Is it through repeated listening, or training your ear, or an academic pursuit? What is it that engages you in those new definitions of melody?

GK: Well, it’s definitely not a more academic underdstanding, and it’s not even ear training or repetitive listening. It’s more just active listening, instead of passive listening. If you really just open your ears and listen to what’s happening around you, the sound environments that happen. I think if you listen to this music, you’re going to get it if you open your ears and listen to all the sounds, and the combinations of sounds. I understand what you’re saying, that for most people who listen to Western pop music, it might be a little more challenging for them. But you’ve gotta understand, John Cage was one of the most popular people to introduce ideas like this in the 1930’s. That’s a long time ago, and music’s gone a lot of places. For Darin and I, who both really listen to a lot of different types of music, and play a lot of different types of music, what really keeps us engaged is to explore new ways to make music, and make sound combinations that resonate with with us, and have meaning for us. Sometimes that is traditional melody, and sometimes it’s collage. Some of the more challenging aspects of the music, like when you stay on something and repeat it for five minutes, what do expect the audience to do? Well, we’re talking about places here, and we’re talking about going on a little trip together, and sometimes it takes a long time to get to a place. Sometimes we just want to draw the listener in, and bring them with us, so they just have to buckle up and go along on the ride. When you come out on the other side, you get it and you understand it, and you have the payoff and the relief. It’s what feels right for us, and hopefully feels right to other people.

HAD: Along those lines, speaking to different music, what’s some stuff that you and Darin listen to that you feel like people maybe wouldn’t have heard of, and is maybe a little off the beaten path?

GK: I’ll open this question up to Darin too, since he’s sitting next to me. I’ve been in a really intense period of work on commisions, and with Kronos Quartet, a remix project, so any free time I’ve had with music in the past few months has been to meet my own deadlines. Unfortunately, I haven’t been doing a ton of listening for enjoyment.

(Repeats question to Darin)

It’s a great question. I always Mauricio Kagel is one person who jumps into my mind when you’re talking about sound environments, and everything being music, that’d be a great starting point. I listen a lot to the composer John Luther Adams, because his music to me is a lot more about, sometimes about place, but it’s not about a linear sequence of events. It’s more about the moment, and it is it’s own thing. Cage, obviously. Darin mentions we do listen to every day stuff too, but is that what you’re talking about?

HAD: I guess it goes both ways: the every day can inspire the avant garde, and vice versa, so whatever you think suits that definition.

GK: Well Darin just mentioned Levon Helm, I saw him play last week. Bill Fay, J Dilla, we just listened to Bill Dixon, Milford Graves, there’s just so many. Darin said he’s been listening to a lot of Fred Anderson, who just passed a few weeks ago. It goes across the board, both of us have played a lot of music with Jim O’Rourke, and I always come back to that. Anything he does is pretty inspiring to both of us.

HAD: One thing that I’ve been wondering about, is something you mentioned in the commentary track of “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”, and it caught my ear....

GK: (Laughing) I’ve never actually listened to that, so you may be throwing me a curve ball here...

HAD: No, no, not a curve ball! It’s more of a point of context for a question about you and Darin. In the scene with “I’m Always In Love”, you mention in the commentary that it’s the first day you ever played with Wilco. Given that, in a broader sense, how do feel about the role of spontaneity in performance? That idea that the “first take is the best take”. When you and Darin were in the studio recording this record, especially given how brief the recording was, was it a feeling of a lot of rehearsal culminating in a final recording, or just let’s give it a go, and see what’s there? How much of the performance was intuition versus calculated?

GK: Almost all of it was intuition. Where you say was it well rehearsed, or should we just lay it down and see what happens, we had an idea of what we want the record to be about. But once we get the basic melody or rhythm down, we don’t spend a ton of time doing that. We’re not about perfection. We’re about getting something has some soul and some ass to it. You know, these tunes groove to us. As long as we get something that feels right or wrong. After that it’s all spontaneous, really. It’s just ideas, like “What if we do this?”, or “Let’s try this!”, and if something falls over in a take, or there’s sirens outside, or coughs in the middle of a take, usually it’s like: “that happened in the right spot, let’s keep that”. In the live shows, it’s something that we’re doing more now than we ever used to. Before we used to represent our music and play it. Now, for us, it’s definitely about trying to go somewhere else with the performace. We’re going to play the melodies and harmonies that are on the tunes, but there’s a lot of room for interaction between us and the audience, and let the audience into the performance. Instead of say, just performing our music for the audience. We want to create an event, and a place, and a time-place at the show, if that makes any sense. We want to draw the audience in, instead of just presenting something.

HAD: Along those lines, I know you’ve recently scored some of the other stuff you’ve worked on. Did you guys have any scores for On Fillmore?

GK: No scores. Sometimes Darin will have a melody on guitar, and I’ll have to write it out in order to learn it on vibes, and sometimes we’ll discuss parts, but no, no scores whatsoever.

HAD: I know here in New York there was an exhibition of some Xenakis scores, and a bunch of his scores are very abstract. There’s nothing on the score involving notes, they’re far more just drawings describing the feeling of a piece. Have either of you ever gotten into that kind of alternative scoring of a piece?

GK: I haven’t dealt into graphic scores much, I’m sure I made some when I was younger, but not recently. Darin says a little bit, but if we had a scoring method for this, it’d be more like an idea for a place, so the score would be a place that we descrivbe to each other. Then we make how it sounds, if that makes sense. So it’s more verbal, about adjectives and feelings and about what you feel like when you’re in this place, and what it feels like, and what you went through getting to that place. And then we try to create that experience. I guess that’s a might be more of a guideline or a synopsis. I don’t know what you’d call it. It’s more something you’d talk about and a vision of what we want it to be like.

HAD: Well, I guess that place will be Le Poisson Rouge on Thursday, so we’ll get to see it!

GK: Yeah! Last time I was there I actually saw the Xenakis string quartets, and it’s funny you brought him up, because that’s someone we both listen to a hell of a lot. But yeah, Thursday will definitely be a good time!

HAD: See you there!

On Fillmore play Le Poisson Rouge tonight at 7, Rachel Grimes opens.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Land Of Talk Headlining At Bowery In November, New Video

Land of Talk at Mercury Lounge, from the HAD Archive

Kids, never say we didn't warn you: Land Of Talk are straight blowing up. The band keeps playing bigger rooms every time they're in New York, and this fall is no exception. They'll be the sole headliner at The Bowery Ballroom on November 6th, and we sure as hell recommend you make yourself present and accounted for.

Not only to Lizzie Powell & Co. have some amazing records, but they also deliver a live set that will completely blow you away. Clearly this is something that the world at large is becoming aware of, and the show is sure to be mobbed. No word on when tickets go on sale, so keep an eye out.

In the meantime, enjoy the sweet vid of the band playing a killer version of "Some Are Lakes" from our friends over at

Music For Animals And The Hundred Days Played Bottom Of The Hill - Pictures, Video, Review

Last Friday night, we made our way over to Bottom Of The Hill, where The Hundred Days and Music For Animals were set to deliver a 1-2 punch of rock and roll awesomeness. Both bands delivered sets led by incredibly (albeit distinctively) charismatic frontmen, and both delivered sets that were solidly upbeat enough to keep the crowd dancing all night long.

The Hundred Days were the first on stage, and the band delivered a set that unquestionably recalled the dark pop of The Cure (and, by extension, their many imitators). That being said, the band managed to deliver a dose of poppy darkness with enough of their own swagger and danceability.

On top of their unquestionable love of all things Robert Smith, the band also managed a guitar sound that unquestionably recalled early U2. Still, for all the sonic earmarks on their set, the band made it their own. They left us feeling less like they had used their influences as a crutch, and far more like they were paying tribute in the best way possible.

Music For Animals followed soon thereafter, with a set that was just as poppy and earnest in its delivery, but carved out a bit more of its own sound. It's difficult to characterize music as accessible as this as anything but "pop", yet the band had a rhythmic sense that made the jagged interplay of their guitars and drums uniquely distinct.

Frontman Jayson Martinovich unquestionably owned the stage, bolstered by a floor tom that he beat relentlessly, the singer brought a swagger to the stage that did a great deal to bolster the band's performance on stage. On top of that, the band had a mutual admiration that made their performance as fun for us as it clearly was for them.

At the end of the night, we left the venue with the distinctive sense of having just walked away from something far more anthemic, poppy, and earnest than we're used to, and that's certainly not a bad thing. By wearing their hearts on their sleeves, this pair of Bay area bands managed not only to deliver sets that were musically engaging, but induce a level of enthusiasm in the crowd that we haven't seen in quite a while.

For a taste of the show, check out the videos below!

Photos By Sarah Klinger
Video By Amie Gutierrez

On Fillmore At Le Poisson Rouge On Thursday

Glenn Kotche performing with Wilco, from the HAD Archive

While we know Glenn Kotche most intimately from his performances and work with Wilco, it certainly should not go unnoticed that he also has a diverse body of other work. In addition to his wonderful solo records, one of Kotche's most notable projects is his collaboration with bassist Darin Gray, On Fillmore.

The pair have been releasing records for almost eight years, with some sizable breaks in between. Fortunately, they saw fit to release another record, the aptly named Extended Vacation, at the end of last year. This week the pair are making some rare live appearances in support of the album, including a stop on Thursday at Le Poisson Rouge.

Extended Vacation is a unique, abstract experimentation in soundscapes, ranging from ambience and textures, to lovely melodies from both the bass and vibes. While it's nothing like Kotche's Wilco work, it's unquestionably a treat for the ears (Check out "Master Moon", above). Combine that with the fact that Kotche is a consumate live performer, and well: this is one you won't want to miss.

On Fillmore Summer 2010 Dates
Jul 14 Philadelphia Art Alliance Philadelphia, PA
Jul 15 Le Poisson Rouge New York, New York, US
Jul 16 Andy Warhol Museum Pittsburgh, PA
Jul 17 Wexner Center Columbus, Ohio, US

Monday, July 12, 2010

EELS Stream Another Track From Tomorrow Morning

We already mentioned that EELS had a new record on tap for the end of August, and previewed the retro-sounding "Looking Up". Well, now the band has dropped another track from the record entitled "Spectacular Girl", and while it's nothing like the previous track, it is pure classic EELS gold.

Between the lovely programmed beat, organ lines, and mild orchestration, the track could be straight off of Beautiful Freak or Daisies Of The Galaxy. Interestingly, similar to "Looking Up", the track is notably simplistic both in its composition and arrangement. It seems that perhaps Mr. E has found his muse again, and is headed back to basics.

EELS play Terminal 5 on September 25th.

Treasure Island 2010 Lineup Announced

We've been loving the Treasure Island Festival from day one. Always immaculately organized, always a great lineup, and always a beautiful (albeit sometimes cold) view of the city by the Bay. This year is no exception, as the festival organizers (Another Planet and Noise Pop) have just announced this year's lineup.

Similar to past years, Saturday is more of an electronic day, and is headed up by LCD Soundsystem, with some old school support from Kruder and Dorfmeister, and some serious action from !!!. Sunday is, once again, the "rock" day, and as predicted, Belle and Sebastian are heading the lineup. Combine that with the awesomeness of Broken Social Scene, The Sea and Cake, and The National, and well....this is gonna be good.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Phosphorescent Gear And Van Stolen

Seriously, New York? A band plays a free show, and this is how you repay them? That's just sad. To sum up: Phosphorescent, who played a free show on the Hudson River last night, subsequently had $40,000 in gear stolen, along with their van, in Greenpoint. This comes on the eve of the band heading out on tour and, needless to say, is utterly devastating. Here's the official word:

Last night, after an amazing show at Pier 54 in New York City, Phosphorescent's rental van -along with all of their equipment - was stolen from outside a residence in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Last night's show was the first night of their scheduled six-weeks US Tour. Among the stolen items was Matthew Houck's custom, irreplaceable 1955 Gibson ES-125 guitar, vintage amplifiers, and a vintage pedal steel with losses totaling around $40,000. If anyone has ANY information or leads on what might have happened, or if you see any of this gear in pawn shops, on Craigslist, etc, please call the NY Police Department, Vector Management, or anyone you think might be able to help recover this gear. The van rental company is insured - they are covered for their van and are therefore not greatly concerned with recovering it. Phosphorescent DOES care though, greatly, about recovering any of this gear possible, and figuring out how to rally up and make this US Tour happen. Anything anyone can do to help would be simply amazing. We have set up a Paypal account for anyone wishing to donate funds to help replace gear - anything helps. We will be sending updates about the upcoming tour dates ASAP. Thanks in advance for any goodwill and assistance and thank you for your support over the years.

We assume it goes without saying, that if you see or hear anything about this, please do these guys a favor and help them out. If you do see anything sketchy, here's the full gear list to confirm or deny your suspicions:



1955 Gibson ES-125 Hollow-body Electric
1968 Gibson EB-3 Bass with slotted headstock (brown)
197? Fender Stratocaster - Custom, Blonde wood finish. No brand names or markings anywhere.
197? Emmons Pedal Steel Guitar - Push-Pull Model

1973 Fender Twin Reverb (Silverface) w/ Indian Sun Worshipper Tapestry affixed to grillplate
1978 Music Man 112 RD500 Custom Amp w/ 10" Speaker
SWR Workingman's Bass Amp
196? Fender Deluxe Reverb

(1) Line 6 DL4 Delay Pedal
(2) Fulltone Full-Drive 2 Mosfet
(1) Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Plus
(1) Electro Harmonix Little Big Muff
(2) Electro Harmonix 80's Memory Man Deluxe
(1) MXR Power Amp Pedal
(2) Boss TU-2 Tuner
(1) MXR Phase 90, CSP-026
(1) Fender Tuning Pedal

DW "Collectors Series" Drum Kit - Black Matte finish
22" kick drum
16" floor tom
12" rack tom
14" Yamaha, Anton Fig snare drum, with maple hoops
(1) Ludwig boom cymbal stand
(2) yamaha boom cymbal stands
(1) DW9000 Hi-Hat pedal, DW7000 kick pedal
(1) Yamaha, double braced snare stand
(1) Ludwig double braced snare stand
(1) Ludwig drum throne/stool.
(1) 20" Zyldjian Constantinople ride cymbal
(1) 17in Zildjian A Custom crash cymbal
(2) Zildjian Constantinople Hi-Hats (paired)

Black Arai Profile Full-face Motorcycle Helmet
Durango Boots - Brown Harness Boots

150 Vinyl (To WIlle/Pride/Here's to Taking it Easy)
150 CD's (To WIlle/Pride/Here's to Taking it Easy)

Sea Of Bees Descend On Brooklyn

It's a rarity that an up and coming band like Sea of Bees will make such a strong showing so far from home. Given that, consider yourself lucky: the San Francisco natives will be making not one, but five stops in our fair city this weekend (dates below). All the stops are in Brooklyn, which, while maybe slightly inconvenient for some, fits well with the band's place in the current music scene.

Their debut record, Songs For The Ravens, is an eclectic mix of dreamy vocals, well composed electronics, lumbering folky guitars, and classic rock and roll. The end result is a sound that is utterly unique, and well worth more than a few minutes of your attention. While we've never seen them live, the sounds on disc are more than enough to convince us to get out there before we're stuck behind 500 hipsters who have just discovered the "next big thing".

Our advice? Hit up one of the shows early in the weekend, and if you love it as much as we think you will, you have a chance for another taste.

mp3: Sea Of Bees - Skinnybone

Sea Of Bees Summer 2010 New York Dates
July 9 - Spike Hill
July 10 -
Rockwood Music Hall
July 11 -
Union Hall w/David Dondero
July 12 -
Pete's Candy Store
July 13 -
The Rock Shop w/Matt Bauer and Feather and Folly

Tonight: Kurt Vile and Real Estate At Le Poisson Rouge

Kurt Vile in San Francisco, from the HAD Archive

It's no secret that we love Kurt Vile around these parts, so when we learned that he was playing with Real Estate this summer, we duly noted the date on our calendars. Well now that day has come, and you, dear reader, had better be on top of things.

Not only will tonight's show at Le Poisson Rouge be an awesome chance to hear both Vile and Real Estate in one of the city's best sounding rooms, but it will also be a welcome respite from the heat that's been doggedly lapping at your heels all week. So get yourself out of work, and come down to the loveliest basement in the village for some sweet tunage.

Doors are at 7, show at 7:30. See you there.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tonight: Phosphorescent Show At Hudson River Park

When it's this hot out, there's little (if anything) one wants to do at the end of the day. Little, that is, except chill out, have a beer, and listen to some sweet jams. Given that, we have just the thing for you: Phosphorescent will be at the Hudson River Park at Pier 54, giving a free show as the evening descends.

The Brooklyn based group deliver a brand of country tinged rock that's just the right combination of earnest and melodic, while still maintaining a bit of a painful edge. In other words, the perfect recipe of tunage to be enjoying as the sun sets over the Hudson and concludes another day of this sweltering heat wave.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pitchfork Previews The Jeff Tweedy Produced Mavis Staples Record

We mentioned a little while back that Mavis Staples had a new record, titled You Are Not Alone (cover above), on tap for September. The record was produced (and partially written) by Jeff Tweedy, and had us (needless to say) very excited.

Well now Pitchfork has obtained the title track to the record (which Tweedy wrote), and is streaming it online. It sounds, quite frankly, amazing. The guitar tones are fantastic, the sound gently toes the line between gospel and country, and Staples' voice sounds fantastic.

If this track is any indication of the record as a whole, we have a whole lot to look forward to this fall.

The Nels Cline Singers Played Le Poisson Rouge - Pictures, Review

Last night at the Village's favorite avant garde music club, we caught The Nels Cline Singers delivering the first of two sets of the night. The band is on tour for their new record Initiate, and it was the first time we'd seen them play in a couple of years. As always, they were ridiculously tight, and had a rapport that made itself immediately clear on stage.

The set was comprised of a good mix of new and old material, with a number of selections from the new record, including "Floored", "Forge", "King Queen", and the Sonic Youth-aping "Thurston County". Interestingly, the set felt like the most rock inspired we've ever seen from the trio, with bassist Devon Hoff donning an electric bass for much of the set.

Interestingly, it also seemed that the audience was most taken with the "rock" numbers, which surprised us. Most of the Cline shows we've seen on the West coast were attended by purely by jazz aficionados, but maybe that's changing. Given Cline's involvement in Wilco, it wouldn't shock us if he was getting a new fan base, and the crowd last night seemed most inspired by some of drummer Scott Amendola's most straight ahead beats.

The set was apparently cut short (according to Cline) by "too much jamming", but that didn't stop the band from bringing out some special guests for the last couple of numbers. Yuka Honda joined the band on keyboards, and Sean Lennon (introduced only as "our friend Sean" played percussion. The two served to fill out the band's sound even more, and helped to wrap up a fantastic set.

Initiate is out now on Cryptogramaphone

Many more pictures in the HAD Archive, including the Singers' youngest fan!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Nels Cline Singers Are At Le Poisson Rouge Tonight

Nels Cline in Central Park, from the HAD Archive

We'll be the first to admit that our exposure to Nels Cline is firmly rooted in his association with Wilco. However, that does nothing to change the fact that the man is a guitar badass who has a list of musical projects almost too long to comprehend. We caught him last summer at Central Park with Floored By Four, and now the man is back in town with his band The Nels Cline Singers.

The group has a new disc out, Initiate (cover above), and will be delivering two sets (7PM and 9:30PM) tonight at Le Poisson Rouge. While we haven't seen them since a couple of years back in San Francisco, wbut suffice it to say: if you have any interest in modern jazz performance, you certainly won't be disappointed.