Monday, February 27, 2012

Plants and Animals Live - "Before"

Plants And Animals at The Rock Shop in December, from the HAD Archive

It's no secret that we're ridiculously psyched about Plants and Animals upcoming record The End Of That, so when this live rendition of the record's first track "Before" tumbled in to our laps, we couldn't have been more pleased.  The recording demonstrates the band's uncanny ability to perfectly recreate their studio prowess, and then inject it with an added dimension of jammed-out poignancy and soul.  Give a listen below, and then head over to Paste to stream the whole record, which hits record stores tomorrow!

Plants and Animals are at Mercury Lounge on April 18th

Friday, February 24, 2012

Whiskeytown - "Sit And Listen To The Rain"

Ryan Adams at the Catalyst, from the HAD Archive

On this rainy Friday, we've decided to serenade you with the sixth track from Whiskeytown's (in our opinion) underrated final record, Pneumonia. The record found Adams at the height of his songwriting powers, and moreover, the production is masterful.  The result is a record that achieves much of what Adams has spent the bulk of his career pursuing: pop perfection wrapped in a veneer of troubadour street cred.

This track, "Sit And Listen To The Rain" starts out loping and subtle, as many of Adams best work is wont to do.  The choruses drape themselves over the emptiness of their own meaning, and the expansive guitar lines give a feeling of depth and echo.  As the pace picks up by the second verse, one is utterly prepared for the breakout of the bridge, which leaves one with the feeling that maybe hopelessness isn't all bad, and maybe that sometimes that's just the way things are - the only solution is to rock out.

Like we said, perfect for a rainy day.

mp3: Whiskeytown - Sit And Listen To The Rain

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Eleanor Friedberger Heads Out On Spring Tour

Eleanor Friedberger at the City Winery, from the HAD Archive

When we saw Eleanor Friedberger at John Wesley Harding's Cabinet of Wonders last fall, we have to say, we were surprised how much we enjoyed.  We had never really been on board with the Fiery Furnaces, but were taken with Eleanor's solo work.  The songs give her voice more focus and melody, and the production is impeccable. It's one of our favorite listens in recent memory.

As such, we couldn't have been more excited to learn that Friedberger has decided to undertake a spring tour in support of her solo record.  The tour will take place over April and May, covering a fair bit of the eastern US, and one stop in Canada.  Friedberger will be touring with a full band, as well as Merge labelmates Hospitality.  If her two songs at the Cabinet Of Wonders were any indication, this isn't one you're going to want to miss!

Eleanor Friedberger Spring 2012 Dates:
Mar 14-18 Austin, TX SXSW Music Festival (solo)
Mar 24 Marfa, TX Crowley Theater (solo)
Apr 18 Brooklyn, NY The Bell House
Apr 19 Washington, DC Black Cat
Apr 20 Durham, NC The Casbah
Apr 21 Atlanta, GA The Basement
Apr 23 Birmingham, AL WorkPlay
Apr 24 New Orleans, LA Circle Bar
Apr 26 Houston, TX Fitzgerald’s
Apr 27 San Antonio, TX Korova
Apr 28 Austin, TX Frank
May 3 Ferndale, MI Magic Bag
May 4 Toronto, ON Garrison
May 5 Montreal, QC Il Motore
May 6 Allston, MA Great Scott

mp3: Eleanor Friedberger - My Mistakes

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blur Reunite With New Song And Brit Award Performance

Seriously, kids, it doesn't get more exciting than this.  Blur are playing together live again, and have debuted a brilliant new song called "Under The Westway" (video above).  Moreover, rumors are afoot that the band is set to record a new record with William Orbit, the genius collaborator on the band's 1999 record 13. There's not much more to say at the moment, so in the meantime, you can satisfy your cravings by watching videos from the band's Brit Awards performance last night.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Elton John and France Gall: "Donner Pour Donner"

We'll be the first to admit it: finding a gem in the late 70's output of Elton John is a difficult task. His myriad of missteps included temporarily parting ways with songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, crafting an ill-advised disco record, and announcing a retirement from live performance that lasted all of two years. Nonetheless, there were successes amongst the failures, and "Donner Pour Donner" is one of them.

The track is actually the b-side to "Les Aveux",  a France-only single with songstress France Gall.  It's a shame that it ended up as the b-side: "Les Aveux" is a bit of a faux-country trainwreck, while "Donner Pour Donner" is a classic piece of french pop.  In many ways, it fulfills stereotypes, with its bongos, electric piano, and slide guitar.  And yet, somehow it works.  The vocal interplay is perfect, and the stylings manage to be blatantly 70's, while not going so far over the edge that they become intolerable. Plus, Elton manages to pull of the French singing pretty damned well, which is an added bonus.

Interestingly, despite John's hiatus from songwriting with Taupin, this track was apparently cowritten by Taupin and Gall's longtime collaborator Michael Berger. This may explain some of the songs winning qualities, at a time when John was unquestionably a bit stagnant in his songwriting. Having only been issued in the US with the To Be Continued... box set, the track isn't exactly an easy find, but you can check it below.  We promise, it's well worth your while.

mp3: Elton John and France Gall - Donner Pour Donner

Friday, February 10, 2012

Plants And Animals Drop Another Track From Forthcoming Record

Plants and Animals at Bowery Ballroom, from the HAD Archive

It goes without saying that we here at HAD are stoked on the forthcoming Plants and Animals record.  The band has been on our "must play" list ever since they dropped their first full length in 2008, and as they've evolved, they've only gotten better.  Case in point: the newest track from their forthcoming The End Of That.

"Song For Love" embraces the more acoustic songwriter-y vibe that was hinted at in "Lightshow", and even more on display when the band played the Rock Shop on a rainy night in early December. But here's the thing: the band manages to embrace this more conventional aesthetic without eschewing the bits that make their music so distinctive and perfectly unique.  They rock out on the choruses, display utterly perfect technical chops, and create arrangements that are as compelling as they are perfect. In short, this record is fast proving to be another perfect step in the evolution of a band that is getting better by the day.

On top of the killer new track, we also managed to stumble over a killer HD vid for the band's cover of Wolf Parade's "I'll Believe Anything", which was the B-Side to "Lightshow".  If you've seen the band live then, as expected, you'll be psyched for this.  If you haven't, well, check the vid above and enjoy the magic.  Once you're done with that, check out the band's North American tour in support of the record, which starts early next month.

Plants and Animals Spring 2012 Tour 
8th Mar Ritual Nightclub Ottawa, ON
9th Mar Le Cercle Quebec, QC
10th Mar Le Cabaret du Mile End Montreal, QC
14th Mar St David's Church (SXSW) Austin, TX
17th Mar Spill Bar (SXSW) Austin, TX
20th Mar Lucky Bar Victoria, BC
21st Mar Rickshaw Theatre Vancouver, BC
22nd Mar The Crocodile Seattle, WA
24th Mar Mississippi Studios Portland, Oregon
27th Mar Starlite Room Edmonton, AB
28th Mar Republik Calgary, AB
Thu 29th Mar Amigos Cantina Saskatoon, Canada
30th Mar West End Cultural Centre Winnipeg, MB
31st Mar 7th Street Entry Minneapolis, MN
4th Apr TT The Bear's Place Cambridge , MA
5th Apr Kung Fu Necktie Philadelphia, PA
6th Apr Red Palace Washington, DC
7th Apr Local 506 Chapel Hill, NC
8th Apr 529 Atlanta, GA
10th Apr Crowbar Tampa, FL
11th Apr The Social Orlando, FL
13th Apr The Bottletree Birmingham, AL
14th Apr Hi-Tone Cafe Memphis, TN
18th Apr Mercury Lounge New York, NY
19th Apr Mohawk Place Buffalo, NY
20th Apr APK Live London , Ontario
21st Apr Lee's Palace Toronto, ON
11th May Schuba's Chicago, IL
12th May The Frequency Madison, WI
15th May Hi-Dive Denver, CO
16th May Kilby Court Salt Lake City, UT
18th May Bottom of The Hill San Francisco, CA
19th May Satellite Club Los Angeles , CA
21st May Casbah San Diego, CA
25th May Lambert's Austin, TX

mp3: Plants and Animals - Song For Love

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Archers Of Loaf - Vee Vee Reissue

Here at HAD, we are of two minds when it comes to the imminent "two disc" reissues of classic records.  With bands we obsessed over before the reissues, they can be a bit of a let down:  sometimes they don't include one or two key tracks, sometimes the ordering is less than ideal, and (let's be honest) it just hurts to see the tracks you paid hundreds of dollars to obtain as import B-Sides on one convenient $15 bonus disc.  However, with bands for whom we had never invested that level of time and money the two disc reissue is a treasure trove of affordably-priced awesomeness.  Case in point: Merge Records' latest Archers of Loaf Reissue, Vee Vee.

With their first Archers two disc reissue, Icky Mettle, Merge something of an easy time of it.  The bonus disc consisted of the band's classic The Greatest Of All Time, and a bunch of hard-to-find 7" versions of album cuts.  In short, exactly what you'd expect. Which, while complete, held relatively few surprises. By stark contrast, the reissue of Vee Vee is chock full of new and unreleased material.  The easy stuff is tossed aside in the first few minutes, with single b-sides and alternate mixes filling the first five tracks. However, what follows is the true reward: in addition to a number of rarities from compilations, and an previously unreleased track, "Equinox", the second disc fills out with seven tracks from not one, but two separate demo tapes.

The demo tracks are really the highlight of the bonus disc:  they illustrate not only the depth of these songs and musicians, but also the many sides of Eric Bachmann that had yet to be revealed, and would later surface in Crooked Fingers. The "Marathon Boombox" tracks feature Bachmann on a twangy guitar poking through what are barely fragments of songs.  By contrast, the "Vee Vee 4-track Demo" tracks that follow employ a drum machine and multiple guitar lines and give a much better sense of what Bachmann would wind up as when he went solo.  In both cases, the demos are enough to stand up on their own, and become classics unto themselves.

And then, of course, there's the record itself.  For Archers fans, Vee Vee needs no introduction, and for many it marks the advent of the band becoming something more dynamic than simply another alternative rock band.  It has never occupied our "favorite record" slot for the band, not for lack of awesomeness, but simply because the rest of their output is so great. That being said, the new remaster is fantastic, and it's the best we've ever heard this record sound.  It is crisp, clean, and manages to somehow toe the line between a clean "studio" mix, and feeling like you're in the room with a band.  Good production at its finest.

In short, the Vee Vee remaster is everything we could ask for, and is well worth your while. Not only that, but it's gotten us extremely excited for the additional reissues that Merge has promised in the coming year. During their heyday, the Archers never really got what one would call wide-spread recognition (we recall seeing them at the Grog Shop in Cleveland in 1999 with something like 20 other people), but that seems to be turning around.  With a reunion tour, and these fantastic reissues, the band is finally getting their due, and it's a good thing, because it's most certainly well-deserved.