These United States: “The Business”

In a few short hours I’ll be doing the second edition of “Survival of the Hippest,” my show on WRFL with my co-host, Cameron. This one is even more special than normal, because we’re having guests in the studio: These United States. They’ll be doing a quick interview and an acoustic performance; so if you want to tune in from 6-8PM EST you can go to and click “Listen Now” to check our our show. They should be on around seven.

MP3: These United States – The Business
Rolling, garage-folk has never sounded so good. These United States sing a workman’s song in a cubicle world, and pull it off better than most could hope to do. Elegantly plucked and strummed guitar parts match up like puzzle pieces against wisely under-used trumpet bits and a melody that recalls classic blues standards without aping them. Someone call M. Ward and tell him he’s got an opener for his next tour.

These United States on Myspace

Why yes, I did say you can listen to our show at from 6-8PM EST.

Final Fantasy @ Alchemize – 6.29.06

Let me start by saying that Final Fantasy is no novelty act. When Owen Pallett performs solo live, using just a violin and a handful of pedals, it’s not because he’s trying to be cute about it. I think the problem is just that we’re not used to a rail-thin Canadian sauntering on stage with just the aforementioned tools and putting on one of the best live shows you’re likely to see all year.

I’ve always loved seeing great bands in intimate settings, but this one was so to a fault. It’s the age old story of weekday booking: bar books great act and no one shows up, presubably because they have work the next day. Well, those willing to wake up groggy-eyed or after noon were rewarded with a performance that was both emotionally charged and passionate.

For those who complain when songs in concert stay too close to their album version, you won’t find this problem at a Final Fantasy show. Again, because of his particular solo layout, Owen had to completely rework songs like the piano-heavy “The Lamb Sells Condo” into a violin-only composition.

Similarly, “Song Song Song,” which draws its power from multiple layers on the album, was stripped down a bit. Live, he tapped the strings with his bow, looped that with the thudding sound of his thumb against the violin’s body, and then sang over all of that. But that’s not where it ends. For the section where Owen cries out “concern yourself with the invincible,” he yelled into his violin like one might do into a cave. The resulting echo and distortion through his instrument’s microphone gave his voice an eerie, otherworldly quality.

While attendance was low, and the venue was hot, Owen still put on a remarkable show. To perform solo, arguably the scariest thing in live music, and do it well, that’s something that warrants praise. And it’s worth mentioning that his between-song jokes were pretty hilarious. Here’s one exchange:

Owen: We have stuff for sale, too.
Guy in the audience: Where?
Owen: That’s a good question. Someone just pointed ton the mens room. (laughs) I don’t do that…..anymore.

While flipping radio channels on the way home, I happened across Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” playing on a classic rock station. I’ll admit that I chuckled a bit to myself because of the line “it just soothes the soul.” Owen’s music–about as far from classic rock as you can be without getting too weird–is hardly soothing to the soul. After having spent an evening listening to it, I can safely say that it challenges the soul. And thank God someone’s not afraid to challenge us.

Dirty Projectors: “Naked We Made It”

I just got in from the Final Fantasy show in Cincinnati and I’m about to crash for some much-needed rest. To hold you over until I wake up, here’s a band I think you’ll enjoy. After the show, I got into a discussion with Owen about good new albums (The Hidden Cameras, etc) and it lead to his suggestion that I check out Dirty Projectors. Apparently their new actually quite old album, The Graceful Fallen Mango, is well worth your time. Unfortunately I haven’t heard it yet, but I am quite taken with this song from The Glad Fact, even if the album did wind up on Pitchfork’s Worst Album Covers list.

MP3: Dirty Projectors – Naked We Made It
I’m dead tired, so I’ll keep it short: you’ll love this if you love early Hidden Cameras.

Dirty Projectors on Mypsace
Buy Dirty Projectors albums

New Favourite Sons Songs on KEXP

Thanks to Michael from Sound Exposure for these.

MP3: Favourite Sons – Things That We Do to Each Other (live on KEXP)
MP3: Favourite Sons – Round Here (live on KEXP)
MP3: Favourite Sons – Beautiful Smile (live on KEXP)
MP3: Favourite Sons – When You’re Away From Me (live on KEXP)

And here’s a repost for old time’s sake. This is the studio version of one of the best new songs, “Hang On, Girl.”

BONUS MP3: Favourite Sons – Hang On Girl

All these songs will be featured on their debut album, Down Beside Your Beauty, out on Vice September 12th.

Favourite Sons on Myspace

Antarctica Takes It!: “I’m No Lover”

So yesterday Skatterbrain Matt asked me if I’d gotten a promo in the mail today by a cool band named Antarctica Takes It!. I said I hadn’t, and he proceeded to explain that it was one of the best albums he’d ever been mailed, etc. Then when I actually opened my mail, I was thrilled to discover I’d received the very same album. It’s one of this year’s more promising debuts.

MP3: Antarctica Takes It! – I’m No Lover
MP3: Antarctica Takes It! – Circuits
There’s something almost biblical about the lyrics on Antarctica Take’s It!’s debut album, The Penguin League. Take away the lo-fi recording and Page France sounding instrumentation and you’ll find a lyrics sheet that reads like a modern day prophet’s text. Much like a 21st century gospel writer, lead singer Dylan McKeever reveals “I have come here to destroy everything that you held dear.” Thankfully for us, it looks like his wrath takes the form of beautiful, stripped-down indie pop instead of the fire and brimstone kind.

For details on how to order their album, visit their myspace (below) or email AntarcticaTakesIt @

Antarctica Takes It! on Myspace

Download a Bishop Allen show from two years ago at Lulla Byes

Shapes and Sizes Remix Contest

The fine folks over at Asthmatic Kitty are sponsoring a contest in honor of the new Shapes and Sizes album. From the contest page:

Submit a remix, cover, reinterpretation, or mash-up of Shapes and Sizes’ song “Wilderness,” from their forthcoming self-titled debut. A specially selected team of bloggers will choose the three most creative and intriguing entries. First place will receive $300 and some AK Stuff. Second and third place will receive the stuff, without the cash.

So there you have it. Pretty straight forward. Just download “Wilderness” and get cracking! I promise I’ll be a more kind judge than Simon Cowell.

MP3: Shapes and Sizes – Wilderness

Jeff Mangum Post a Hoax!

An email from Robert Schneider just confirmed that the post attributed to Jeff Mangum on the E6 Townhall is a fraud. In it he forwarded comments from Jeff, who wrote:

i am sorry to inform you that this is not my post. could you please inform the good people on the e6 list that this is not my writing?

Having fooled or confused Billboard, Pitchfork and myself, this might be one of the most successful message board hoaxes in recent memory. Sorry, folks.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Bonnaro Day 3 (6/18/06)

Mark my words, this Stephen Malkmus kid is going places.

Okay, seriously though, there were a lot of Malkmus fans at Bonnaroo. From the girls talking about which solo album they prefered, right down to the guy who shouted “play some Pavement!” in the middle of his set, everyone was there to catch a glimpse of one of indie rock’s legends.

The set kicked off with “Pencil Rot,” to the delighted squeals of new and old fans alike. Over the next fourty minutes, we were treated to new songs (“Dragonfly” and one unnamed), recent classics like “Baby C’Mon,” and a bevy of Malkmus’ sideways grins. For being a not-too-talkative indie legend, he sure was charming.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Malkmus’ live act. I’d never seen any live footage, and I’d only read a handful of reviews. So I went into the tent that day feeling hopeful, but unsure. And while I absolutely loved his performance, I couldn’t help but feel that it was a bit too “jammy.” I don’t know if he strung out his guitar noodling for the equally strung out crowd, or if this just just par for his concerts. Still, I couldn’t have asked for a better show to end my Bonnaroo experience. Yes, I know. I missed Stephen’s appearance with Sonic Youth a mere hour later.

Bonnaroo Recaps:
Devendra Banhart
Death Cab For Cutie, Bright Eyes, Cat Power
Alec Ounsworth
Elvis Costello

Mittens: “Half a Dozen”

Let me tell you, going to Bonnaroo, Desdemona and having a birthday will really take your mind off the growing mountain of cds next to your desk. Your patience has been appreciated, so now it’s my turn. First on the docket is Mittens, a Boston band who’ve got an album full of pop classics called Fools On A Holiday. I’m not going to lie, I mostly picked them because their press sheet said they chose the name “Mittens” because it was funny to say in a British accent. Go ahead, try it. See?

MP3: Mittens – Half A Dozen
It might be the Boston that’s throwing me off, but I see a poppy similarity to fellow “chowda heads,” Apollo Sunshine. Not only do they probably share a zip code, but they share a similar approach to pop music. There’s layers upon layers of instruments, but they’re only there to further enhance a well crafted melody.

Mittens on Myspace
Download three clips from their web site.

Other Matt reminds me why he’s my internet-brother by posting Architecture in Helsinki on WOXY and a song by The Young Playthings that features Rose from the Pipettes.

Indie Interview’s new podcast is up: Mike Skinner from The Streets.

Go wish Copy, Right? a happy birthday!