Ramona Cordova: “Take Flight”

So while driving around Chicago with Matt and Andy, I finally got my long-overdue time to listen to Ramona Cordova’s new album, The Boy Who Floated Freely. Andy had a cassette of it (one of only 25!), and we grooved to it as we tried to avoid getting too lost.

MP3: Ramona Cordova – Take Flight
MP3: Ramona Cordova – Inside The Gypsy Bar
In my occasional interviews with members of the Elephant 6 community, sometimes I’ll throw in the very loaded, arguably ignorant question “could anything like what you all did ever spring up again?” The point of the question isn’t to put them above other musicians in terms of output, but just that they pushed each other to further their music. Sort of like Saddle Creek, but with Jeff Mangum instead of Conor Oberst. But I digress; Ramona Cordova (real name Ramón Vicente Alarcón–“Ramona Cordova” is his grandmother) is a lot like the E6 spirit personified. His new album is exciting and bold in a way that’s sure to elevate him even further in his cult hero status.

Ramona Cordova on Myspace
Buy The Boy Who Floated Freely for $9

Man Man @ Pitchfork 7.29.06

For the past month or so, I would answer the question “who are you most excited about seeing at Pitchfork like this: “well, I really want to see Man Man again, but I’m not sure how their live show will translate into a festival setting.” When I first saw them, it was in a dark bar in a very intimate setting. This made for a spooky and almost tribal performance. Saturday’s show was pretty tribal too, only less Lord of the Flies and more Where The Wild Things Are.

MP3: Man Man – Engwish Bwudd

Highlights included the spray of feathers (top pic), Honus’ cap gun suicide, and two girls supplying the backing vocals for a thrilling performance of “Ice Dogs,” which they used to close their set.

MP3: Man Man – Ice Dogs

As I suspected, Man Man wound up being one of my favorite performances of the entire festival. If you’re looking for energy in a live act, they’re where it’s at.

Stars of Track and Field: “With You”

Hey guys. I just got back from Pitchfork and I’m pretty tired. I figure I’ll do a little photo resizing and then head to bed. 9AM is a good bedtime, right? Anyways, you can expect regular updates to resume after I wake up. In the mean time, check out Stars of Track and Field, who are self-described as a mesh of Paul Simon, Arcade Fire and Pink Floyd. Not so sure about the Fire and Floyd bit, but whatever works.

MP3: Stars of Track and Field – With You
MP3: Stars of Track and Field – Movies of Antarctica

Stars of Track and Field

Bed time for me. Oh, if any of you do Pitchfork reviews, send me links please. I’ll be trying to put together a list of who all has done them. Thanks!

We Are Scientists: “Hoppipolla”

Yes, this is a repost. I’m still on vacation and too poor to afford a guestblogger. Be home soon. xoxo – Matt

I’m not going to lie to you fine folks, We Are Scientist were a large part of why I got so excited over Desdemona. It’s been over half a year since I saw those guys, and I’ve felt every mintue of our separation. I’ve you’ve ever seen their live show, I’m sure you can empathize. In celebration for the nearing of their Desdemona performance, here are two acoustic songs that WAS performed on the BBC. One is a cover of Sigur Ros’ “Hoppipolla,” and the other is a complete acoustic reworking of their hit “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt.”

MP3: We Are Scientists – Hoppipolla (Sigur Ros)
MP3: We Are Scientists – Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt
A couple tidbits of information: Keith had a bit of paper with the phonetic spellings of all the lyrics to “Hoppipolla.” Apparently he has a friend who speaks Icelandic. Also, the BBC originally wasn’t going to let them cover this song because they thought they wouldn’t take it seriously. As uncharacteristic as it might be for these notorious jokesters (remember the Arctic Monkeys’ acceptance speech?), they do a better job covering such an emotional song than most bands out there could ever hope to do.

Man Man: “I’d Rather Be Blind”

Yes, it’s a repost. I’m still at Pitchfork. Be back soon. xoxo – Matt

I have no idea why, but Man Man’s Six Demon Bag is hands-down one of my favorite albums of the year. Wait. Scratch that. It’s because it’s amazing. For the best experience, pull out your copy of SDB and listen to “Ice Dogs” right before downloading this cover.

MP3: Man Man – I’d Rather Be Blind (Etta James)
I’m pretty sure that the original version of this song influenced the lyrics of Man Man’s “Ice Dogs” and the entire last half of the song, musically. The subject matter is close, and “Ice Dogs’” ending just feels like the logical extension of Etta’s tune. Honus said in our interview that the song was placed last on the album so as to end on a sad, but hopeful note. In a way, maybe that explains their choice of this post-album cover. It’s an excellent pick for them, as it’s not really one that you might expect, but they pull it off without a hitch. It’s weird that they can yelp and scream one minute, then get soulful and touching the next. That’s what I call variety.

My interview with Man Man

Starlight Mints @ The Mad Hatter – 7.25.06

I’ll keep it short: the Starlight Mints show this past Tuesday was one of the best I’ve seen all year. Yes, it was in a converted strip club, and yes the opening bands were sub-par, but the Mints more than made up for it.

Rhino Stomp > The Bee
Black Cat
Rinky Dinky
Eyes of the Night
Seventeen Devils
Submarine #3

Black Bear: “Black Bear”

Yes, it’s a repost. I’m at Pitchfork. Be back soon. xoxo -Matt

Black Bear appear to have come from nowhere with The Cinamon Phase, but it’s the pleasent kind of surprise that can only come from an indie release. This is strongly suggested for fans of The Unicorns, The Hidden Cameras or Grumpy Bear.

MP3: Black Bear – Black Bear
MP3: Black Bear – I Believe In Immediacy
I take a particular bit of glee in noting how the bare instrumentation contrasts with the sheer poetic quality of “Black Bear.” In it, Sam compares his own life with that of his band’s namesake, the black bear. It’s an age old question in our modern times, but who really has it better: the bear roaming free, or we in our advanced, paranoid society? Similarly, “I Believe in Immediacy” is a quick, quick song that matches well with the subject matter. It’s witty in the way that the Unicorns or Hidden Cameras were/are witty.

Black Bear on Myspace
Buy The Cinnamon Phase

Baby Calendar: “Traffic in the Tropics”

Well, I’ve left for Pitchfork by now and unless I can find a spare computer in the lobby somewhere, the rest of the posts this weekend will all be put up remotely. So in that spirit, let’s kick off with Baby Calendar! Hailing originally from Miami, BC just made the jump to my favorite city I’ve never seen, Athens, GA. That seems to suit them well, since they’re on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records and have a quirky indie-pop sensibility.

MP3: Baby Calendar – Traffic in the Tropics
The first comparison my mind and ears immediately decided to cling to was the new Shapes and Sizes record. “Traffic in the Tropics” stops, starts, and then changes pace in the middle of the song, not unlike something you might find on SnS’ new album. Also, there’s some nice interplay of the masculine and feminine vocals, and even some Mates of State-style “oh, oh”s.

Baby Calendar on Myspace

The Women of Indie

Being the 20-something indie rock nerds that we are, Matt from Skatterbrain and I decided that the best way to celebrate our blogger meet-up at Pitchfork was with a “which indie rock girl would you marry, given the chance” feature.

I swear, it sounded less creepy when we came up with it.

Anyways, here are our top picks, complete with an MP3 of each. After all, they’re more than just a pretty face.

Rose from The Pipettes (both Matts’ choice)

MP3: The Pipettes – Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me

Jenny Lewis from Rilo Kiley (Matt SB’s choice)

MP3: Rilo Kiley – Frug

Katrina Kerns from Sufjan Steven’s Illinoisemakers (Matt YANP’s choice)

MP3: Sufjan Stevens – The Man of Metropolis

Chan Marshall from Cat Power (Matt SB’s choice)

MP3: Cat Power – Good Woman

Feist (Matt YANP’s choice)

MP3: Feist – Mushaboom

Both Matt and I will be hanging out at the Pitchfork Music Festival for the next three days. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to take a lot of photos.