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Month: December 2006

Bishop Allen: “Tea for Two” & “Calendar”

Bishop Allen: “Tea for Two” & “Calendar”

Today I realized that I’ve been spoiled this year. One of my favorite bands released 12 EPs, that’s four album’s worth of new material, and I barely batted an eye. Now Bishop Allen have posted new songs from their last EPs, “November and “December,” and have put the calendar to rest.

MP3: Bishop Allen – Tea for Two
MP3: Bishop Allen – Calendar
Bishop Allen have poured so much effort into this EP-a-month project that they’re hardly the same band they were in January. They’ve expanded their instruments (piano, saxophone) and the scope of their songwriting (“Butterfly Nets,” “Flight 180”), but every now and then I can’t help but wish for just one song to remind me of the old Bishop Allen. With “Tea For Two” they’ve given us the best of both worlds: Charm School-era enthusiasm with EP project wisdom.

On “Calendar” they seem more retrospective than anything, with Justin remarking that he wishes he “could feel satisfied” when looking back. But it’s the chorus, “Burn, calender, burn,” that steals your attention. For Justin and Christian, the image of a burning calendar would have to be cathartic. It’s like burning your giant Chemistry text book after you take your final: it just feels good to let go.

Buy all 12 EPs for just $5 each!
Bishop Allen on Myspace

Previously on YANP:
Stay Hungry: The Story of Bishop Allen
Bishop Allen @ Mecca

And so that’s it. It’s over. Don’t expect a Bishop Allen post every month (unless they start announcing tour dates and their 07 album release plans). So what was your favorite EP? Favorite song?

Top 20 in 06: Concerts

Top 20 in 06: Concerts

It’s New Year’s Eve, so I guess it’s time to trot out Picasso’s favorites of the year. First on the list is concerts — the life-changing, toe-curling experiences that left my jaw hanging and my pants slightly soiled. Check here for last year’s list, but let’s get on with the best concerts of 2006!

#20: De Novo Dahl @ Mecca / The Dame

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#19: Danielson @ Pitchfork

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#18: We Are Scientists @ Desdemona

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#17: Cold War Kids @ Cincinnati

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#16: Enon @ Desdemona

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Noisy Crane @ Mecca 12.16.06

Noisy Crane @ Mecca 12.16.06

Phosphorescent, the headliner of the night’s show, couldn’t make it. Their van broke down in Louisville, stranding them an hour away from their Lexington show. But when I broke the news to Cody Swanson of Noisy Crane, the intensity of his puppy dog saddness was matched only by the length of his smile when I asked if he still wanted to play: now there’s someone who loves to perform.

Noisy Crane is a local act, but one that’s still getting rolling. Cody has been performing around Kentucky for years, but is just getting started in this outfit. In fact, the show at Mecca was his first with a drummer. Together they broke new ground on Cody’s songs, new and old, and covered Neutral Milk Hotel and Will Oldham (two groups Cody is quite to cite as influences).

But if the night’s The Microphones-meets-Jeff Mangum vibe wasn’t already apparent, the band went one step further to ensure that the two-man setup didn’t detract from their performance. For a few songs, Cody looped his guitar in order to allow him to pour his soul out through a trumpet. He’s no master at it, but much like Scott Spillane of NMH learned how to play out of necessity, Cody’s passion more than made up for any technical shortcomings. He was spot on.

Page France: “Without a Diamond Ring”

Page France: “Without a Diamond Ring”

Page France’s new tour-only EP is hot off the presses! This makes the… third EP they’ve released this year. Their release schedule is craziness. And of course, that doesn’t include their third album or collab with Anathallo, both to be released in 2007.

MP3: Page France – Without a Diamond Ring
I wasn’t sure it was even possible, but Page France have somehow grown more soothing since Hello Dear Wind. “Without a Diamond Ring” is a gentle piano tale that makes great use of Michael Nau’s nu-Dylan voice.

Page France on Myspace

Harry and the Potters Tour Dates

Harry and the Potters Tour Dates

The saddest day of my life was when I had to miss Harry and the Potters in Lexington to see Of Montreal in Louisville. It wasn’t really much of a choice, but I would have liked to have seen them both. Dates below, via BV.

MP3: Harry and the Potters – Save Ginny Weasley

Harry and the Potters Tour Dates
Jan 1 – Brooklyn, NY – Union Hall
Jan 2 – Baltimore, MD – Sonar
Jan 3 – Chapel Hill, NC – house show
Jan 4 – Greensboro, NC – Greensboro Public Library
Jan 5 – Spartanburg, SC – Spartanburg Co. Library
Jan 6 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
Jan 7 – Tampa, FL – Crowbar
Jan 8 – Orlando, FL – Social
Jan 9 – Miami, Fl – California Club branch Miami Public Library
Jan 10 – Gainesville, FL – Common Grounds Coffeehouse
Jan 11 – still looking for a show somewhere in costal GA or SC
Jan 12 – Durham, NC – 108 Morris St. (Durham Co. Library show!)
Jan 13 – Arlington, VA – IOTA Club and Cafe
Jan 13 – Washington, DC – American University
Jan 17 – Great Scott! with Neal Pollack Allston, Massachusetts

Sloan: “Who Taught You To Live Like That”

Sloan: “Who Taught You To Live Like That”

OK, so apparently I’ve been missing the boat on Sloan for quite some time. But when I picked up my copy of their new album, Never Hear the End of It, all that got put aside. Mark this as the 235th reason why 2007 is going to be a great year.

MP3: Sloan – Who Taught You To Live Like That?
With the organ from the album-opening “Flying High Again” still ringing in ours ears, “Who Taught You To Live Like That?” cuts loose the reigns with a flurry of drums and begins a clanging, Spoon-esque new classic. It’s no stretch to think that this song (or, at least, one from the album) will wind up on the O.C., but it’s also easy to envision it being held in high esteem by “classic” indie rock circles. It’s one for the ages, to be sure.

Sloan on Myspace

12 Days of Mixmas: Day 13
Robert Schneider of the Apples in Stereo

12 Days of Mixmas: Day 13
Robert Schneider of the Apples in Stereo

Now seems like as good of a time as any to admit that I got into the Apples in Stereo through the Powerpuff Girls. But I can’t feel ashamed since it led me to one of indie rock’s finest.

MP3: Robert Schneider – Stephen, Stephen

Somehow amid appearing on the Colbert Report and starting to promote the Apples’ amazing new album, New Magnetic Wonder, Robert Schneider found a second to contribute to Mixmas.

“Songs About Rock and Roll (That Made Me Believe When I Was In Middle School)” by Robert Schneider

My favorite genre in rock music is songs about rock and roll. I love how since the birth of rock and roll, ecstatic rockers have been moved to sing its praises, celebrating the virtues of rocking, and defending rock music against nonbelievers with sensitive ears and early sleep schedules.

Rock and rollers are like the Oracle at Delphi, high on strange fumes and filled with non-sequitors. Rock shows are Pentecostal revivals, where even the most self-conscious of us feel completely absorbed in the dancing and fist-pumping. The rock band feels it too, a tangible energy rising from the crowd, making the music flow so easily it seems impossible to hit a bad note. (Having experimented at such moments, I would like to report that it is indeed possible, and that one should not look a gift horse in the mouth.)

Rock and roll is religion, uniting the isolated, and attracting young converts with every power chord on MTV. It is all about vitality, about not growing up, not growing old, not dying. Electricity is woven into every note, from guitar pickups to studio speakers to electromagnetic waves of the radio station. I cannot imagine anything more mystical, right within our reach, than the infinite oscillations which only await our touch to be called into existence.

For me, rock as religion is not a metaphor. I feel the electricity when I am recording. I have finished songs which I had no memory of composing, which came into existence in an instant, startling me. I have been pressed against the stage at the front of the crowd, and have never had better friends than the bodies surrounding me who shared that moment.

I got my first guitar, a generic red Flying V, when I was thirteen years old. Immediately I realized that you can write songs with only one finger if you use enough distortion, and 22 years later I still haven’t exhausted that initial inspiration. When I was thirteen I deeply believed that beneath the chords and fuzztone was another world, filled with promise. My whole life has been the pursuit of that world.

At that time, when I was in middle school, these songs made me believe– not just in rock and roll, but in my own potential.

If you do not believe then turn the volume up, and you will.

MP3: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – I Love Rock and Roll
When I was 12 I borrowed an electric guitar from a friend’s mom, and I picked the root notes of this song out with one finger, the first song I ever played. That year I saw Cheap Trick and Joan Jett play in the same weekend, my first two rock concerts. From Cheap Trick I learned about loud guitars. From Joan Jett I learned about hot girls. I got punched in the face at the Joan Jett concert by a bully, which did little to faze me after hearing Joan ask the crowd “Do you wanna touch me?” (“YEAH!” we responded on cue, with great emotion.)

MP3: AC/DC – Rock and Roll Aint Noise Pollution
Also when I was 12, my babysitter took me to Wal-Mart and I purchased my first two LP’s, “Uh Huh” by John Cougar Mellencamp, and “Back in Black” by AC/DC. For the record, my first cassette tape was “Pyromania” by Def Leppard, and my first CD was “Song Cycle” by Van Dyke Parks (I was somewhat older when I bought my first CD). This song is so indignant: why are we scorned, when all we want is to feel good? Fellow rock and rollers, NEVER turn down when the sound guy tells you to!

MP3: Foreigner – Jukebox Hero
I had this fantasy when I was thirteen, that I would be in the crowd at a huge concert when the guitarist would injure himself. The lead singer would ask, “Is there anybody who knows how to play guitar?” and I would climb onstage and finish the set with the band, in front of everybody I knew. I wonder if others have this dream? I don’t mean to sound cheesy because it probably won’t happen all at once at a huge rock show (I would like to believe it is possible though), but if you have this dream, then you have what it takes to make it happen. You know exactly who you are, that I am referring to. I wore this seven-inch out when I was thirteen.

MP3: Twisted Sister – I Wanna Rock
God I loved Twisted Sister when I was in middle school! I etched their stylized T.S. logo into my desk and locker, and just about every other surface I encountered. I so related to Dee Snider when he spoke against parental warning stickers at that congressional panel with Tipper Gore. He was my hero. Actually Dee Snider is still awesome, he has an infinite supply of good humor.

MP3: Argent – God Gave Rock and Roll To You
The descending chord progression and cosmic sentiment (“He put it soul of everyone”) make me misty-eyed to this day. Do you hear what he is saying? Rock music has existed since the beginning of time. This is from the same prophet who delivered “Odyssey and the Oracle,” so you know it is true.

Mixmas 06
Day 12: Keith Murray of We Are Scientists
Day 11: Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear
Day 10: Allan Vest of The Starlight Mints
Day 9: The Light Footwork
Day 8: Casper and the Cookies
Day 7: Sure Juror
Day 6: Ryan Allen of Thunderbirds Are Now!
Day 5: Michael Nau of Page France
Day 4: Greg from Oh No! Oh My!
Day 3: Tony Miller of Ideal Free Distribution
Day 2: Ivana XL
Day 1: Daniel of Oh No! Oh My!

Mixmas 05 (MP3 links don’t work)
Day 13: Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal
Day 12: Keith Murray of We Are Scientists
Day 11: Justin Rice of Bishop Allen
Day 10: Becca from The Light Footwork
Day 9: Jay from The Light Footwork
Day 8: Christian Owens from Bishop Allen
Day 7: The Rinse
Day 6: Chris of Gorilla vs Bear
Day 5: Dodge from My Old Kentucky Blog
Day 4: Ryan Allen of Thunderbirds Are Now!
Day 3: John Vanderslice
Day 2: Tapes ‘n Tapes
Day 1: Dean from Secret Unicorns Forum

R.I.P James Brown

R.I.P James Brown

From CNN:

James Brown, the legendary R&B belter, a singer and songwriter who created a foundation for funk and provided the roots of rap, a man of many nicknames but a talent that can only be described as one of a kind, is dead.

Brown died early Monday at Atlanta’s Emory Crawford Long Hospital of congestive heart failure, his agent said. He was 73.

12 Days of Mixmas: Day 12
Keith Murray of We Are Scientists

12 Days of Mixmas: Day 12
Keith Murray of We Are Scientists

Merry Christmas!

It just wouldn’t have been Mixmas without a contribution from Keith Murray of We Are Scientists. He’s one of the most consistantly witty people I’ve ever met. The other best part of his mixes is that he seems to like to take this chance to pimp out some good music. I tell you, he’s a blogger in the making.

“Five Songs Released This Year That Make Me Want To Punch A Friend (Because Said Friend Wrote Said Song (And I Wish I Had))” by Keith Murray

MP3: Mystery Jets – Diamond In The Dark
I wish I wrote this song so badly. So, so badly. It’s got it all – a perfect melody, a heart-rending lyric, a weird-but-not-at-all-inaccessible arrangement. The gentlemen who constitute Mystery Jets are five of the warmest, gentlest artist/philosophers I’ve ever met, and so it is not without some regret that I admit that I would like to batter them with my fists until whatever facility for songwriting exists within them has bled from their bodies and into the street, where I can drink of it and, hopefully, adopt their powers.

MP3: Art Brut – Nag Nag Nag Nag
Over the course of the tour we recently enjoyed with Art Brut, singer Eddie Argos and I got into the habit of battling each other on stage, both verbally and physically. Many were the nights that saw Eddie take the stage during our set to catch me in a full nelson or hold me aloft by my ankle and then effortlessly throw me over the drum kit. He may have assumed that my enthusiastic delivery of punches and kicks and bites (Yeah, I’m a biter. So what?) during these assaults were simply vigorous (if also admittedly physically meager) attempts at offering some measure of defense against such indignity. In actuality, however, I was simply cashing in on an afforded opportunity to punish him for being a man who has the both brains to create some of the most cuttingly wry, psyche-dissecting lyrics being written today and the balls to deliver them atop music created by one of the most primal, grandiose, a**-kicking live bands in the world. If he weren’t capable of lifting me bodily above his head, I’d split his lip for him.

MP3: Oxford Collapse – Please Visit Your National Parks
You know what pisses me off even more than the fact that these dudes beat me handily in the game of writing sweet pop songs disguised as shambolic, stuttering freak-outs? The fact that singer/guitarist Michael Pace is possessed of the greatest mental catalogue of film trivia I’ve ever had the fortune(?) to experience. The man is a d*mn savant in his cinematic wisdom. Directorial catalogues, dates of release, alternate titles, box office receipts . . .these are but a few of the colors that compose the extensive palette from which Michael Pace so effortlessly draws in his masterful rendering of filmic tableaux. Women want him, men want to be him. He needs a punch.

MP3: Mates of State – So Many Ways
When presented with the sight of Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel onstage, gazing lustily into one another’s eyes, and declaring that what each has given the other is “nothing and everything,” some people are happy to simply bask in the warm wave of love that the couple broadcasts. I happen to not be one of those people. I feel nothing but bitter professional envy. Here’s a fact: I will gladly punch a husband in front of his wife and vice versa if it means making them pay for having written a song that so terrifically embodies both triumph and discontent in a simple, barked “Dust! Done!” Mates of State, consider yourselves warned.

MP3: Au Revoir Simone – Sad Song
Some people who know me might think that I’d draw the line at punching a girl right in the face, and I have to admit that those people are almost right. Almost. The winsome ladies of Au Revoir Simone constitute three of the four living women whose noses I’d love to flatten against their faces with my open palm. Their crime? Penning an album (the forthcoming The Bird of Music) chock full of songs as ridiculously immediate and intelligent and just generally mind-blowing as this one, all awesome squishy keyboards and awesome breathy vocals and awesome wistful lyrics and awesome awesomeness. They will taste of my knuckles.

For the record, the other girl I want to punch is Nancy Meyers, writer and director of Columbia Pictures’ execrable The Holiday, a film I just recently saw by accident.

Mixmas 06
Day 11: Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear
Day 10: Allan Vest of The Starlight Mints
Day 9: The Light Footwork
Day 8: Casper and the Cookies
Day 7: Sure Juror
Day 6: Ryan Allen of Thunderbirds Are Now!
Day 5: Michael Nau of Page France
Day 4: Greg from Oh No! Oh My!
Day 3: Tony Miller of Ideal Free Distribution
Day 2: Ivana XL
Day 1: Daniel of Oh No! Oh My!

Mixmas 05 (MP3 links don’t work)
Day 13: Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal
Day 12: Keith Murray of We Are Scientists
Day 11: Justin Rice of Bishop Allen
Day 10: Becca from The Light Footwork
Day 9: Jay from The Light Footwork
Day 8: Christian Owens from Bishop Allen
Day 7: The Rinse
Day 6: Chris of Gorilla vs Bear
Day 5: Dodge from My Old Kentucky Blog
Day 4: Ryan Allen of Thunderbirds Are Now!
Day 3: John Vanderslice
Day 2: Tapes ‘n Tapes
Day 1: Dean from Secret Unicorns Forum