Jeff Mangum Redux
Well, it's going to happen. Jeff Mangum is going to tour again, and this intrepid writer will get to see him. Righteous.
Jeff Mangum: Live at the Schoolhouse
Normally, I would post something like this on Facebook, but I'm increasingly finding that being "friends" with so many different people means that only a quarter of them will have any interest in what I might be excited about, and the other three quarters will just be annoyed. This quandary is why someone has a vanity project web site, though, right?
Anyway, Jeff Mangum, bard, genius, recluse, etc, played a very low key show in New York last night, and a kind soul has posted some recordings here.
The prospect that Mr. Mangum might be emerging back into the world of music has me all a twitter (but not on Twitter...err..). There are a lot of people out there who don't understand the fascination with him and don't particularly like the music. I don't understand what it is about him, but In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is one of those desert island discs for me.
And finally, if you can't get enough of live Jeff Mangum, go to Youtube!
I started listening to INXS when I was ten or eleven years old. I think I still have the tapes kicking around here...although, I don't have a tape deck to play them in. Lame.
The song that always stuck with me was "Don't Change," off Shabooh Shoobah. That was a powerful song for a depressed, melodramatic kid like me during the ages of eleven, twelve and thirteen. By the time X came out in 1990, my interest in the band had waned, but looking back, INXS was definitely one of the better parts of the 80's.
Please ignore the hair and the fashion. The synth marks this as a totally 80's sort of song, but damn it's good.
Zooey Deschanel is ridiculously cute
The most fun show I went to last year, and I went to plenty of shows, featured White Denim. It was an hour and a half of non stop psychedelic, rolling, rocking, wailing, and carrying on. It was easily the most energized show I attended. I went there not knowing much about the band and left it one of the converted.
The bassist, in particular, was sort of a little guy, playing a gigantic looking Rickenbacker bass with an amazing level of intensity and skill. He was a lot of fun to watch and listen to, and really captured the core energy of the band.
Check 'em out:
The Trapeze Swinger
Women with Ukuleles
We're almost at the end of another year, so of course it's time for me to update my web site again. Of course, after false starts again and again and again, I doubt anyone ever comes by here anymore. Well, so be it. I'll post anyway, in case some is hoping to find a web site talking about women with ukuleles.
10 years ago, I would have never thought very many people, outside Hawaii, would have much interest in making music with ukuleles. But lo and behold, there are a plethora of people making fun little music videos all over youtube sporting that funny little instrument. Here are three of my favorite ladies who flex their golden pipes to the sweet sounds of the ukulele:
First up, Danielle Ate the Sandwich. She's funny, cute, a good song writer, and most importantly, an incredible singer. I encourage you to check out all of her videos.
Next is Liz Wood: College student, sporadic youtube poster, and cracking good singer.
And last we have Julia Nunes. She's opened for Ben Folds, and probably has the most notoriety of the ukulele women I've mentioned (She won her current ukulele in the Busman World Ukulele Video Contest).
More from 2008: Santogold and Animal Collective
Our journey through my recent musical discoveries takes us further into 2008's bounty. Granted, I may have been living under a rock for the past year, but I still think this is some good shtuff.
First, we have Santogold; a successful songwriter, producer, and singer who released her first solo album this year. I've had a chance to listen to it, and I'm understanding why it's shown up on so many "best of" lists. It's pop music with a great edge to it. Her most notable track, although not necessarily my favorite, "L.E.S Artistes" is a great example of this. She sounds like a robotic cousin of Karen O as she bemoans the vapid lower east side hanger-ons. The whole album is a collection of solid, approximately 3 and a half minute songs with great pop hooks.
She's no frilly pop diva. I dig it.
Next up is a band that is nowhere near new, but one that finally produced something that I REALLY like. Animal Collective has been around for years, but I've never heard an example of anything that could be defined as very accessible. I like plenty of "difficult" music, but I just didn't get them. Then, they released the Water Curses EP. The title track is an electronic, underwater, bubbling jaunt. It's the closest thing to a pop song that I've heard from them and it's fantastic.
I need to dig deeper into their discography now. The song is like a gateway drug, leading to harder stuff. I'm a step closer to becoming a junkie. Good times...
More from 2008: Bon Iver and Pale Young Gentlemen
More music from 2008 that recently caught my ear.
The first band, you'll recognize from yesterday's clip with Lykke Li. It's Bon Iver, a band I am just starting to explore, but that I'm already really excited about. This live performance of "Skinny Love" stands out as exceptional. The emotion that pours from Justin Vernon's throat is palpable. It's a simple, powerful song that should be listened to in the dark, with headphones on, and with lots of wine.
The thing that I really love about that video is the looks on people's faces. They look happy. They look like they feel the music in their guts. Maybe it's because of the weed, but I like to think that it's because they got to experience something special that night, in that little room, with those musicians and they knew it.
Now for something a little more upbeat, you should check out this next track by Pale Young Gentlemen, a band hailing from good, old Madison, WI. Their album came out a little late to make it onto anyone's "best of" list, and I'm not sure that the whole album is consistent enough to be on a "best of" list (it's still growing on me), but this track is fun! A friend of mine recently requested "music recommendations that are heavy on the strings yet still have drumming in them."
Well, look no further. This tune rocks and it's the cello that makes it so.
It's the time of the season for...
It's winter. I'm hibernating. I'm not outside running around. I'm here, on my couch, with headphones on, searching for new music. Of course, when the winter ends, and I come out of hibernation, I'll stop my hunting/gathering of music until the winter forces me indoors again. Oh sure, I'll listen and I might find something here or there, but I won't be obsessed like I am now. I'll be obsessed with cycling or photography, but not music. Summer is when I recharge for the fall.
Of course, it's easy to discover new music this time of year. Starting in November, every music related web site began posting lists of their favorite songs, or albums, or albums by women over the age of 45, or videos.
I'm trying not to get too pissy about Paste Magazine posting their year end list in November, but, well, I think it's rather sad. That and the fact that they have Okkervil River in the top 10, TV on the Radio at number 50, and Portishead nowhere on the list. Ridiculous.
Actually, I shouldn't get mad. It's not some egregious injustice. You need the Grammys for real egregious injustice.
Despite how misguided some of the rankings are, these lists do allow me to notice bands I missed during the year and reconsider bands I might have consciously ignored. I'll come out with my own list, probably in January, but until then, I'll just post some of the interesting tracks I find.
The first is a low-key collaboration between Lykke Li and Bon Iver in a park in LA, performing Lykke Li's "Dance Dance Dance." I don't know if I'm firmly on the Lykke Li bandwagon yet, but I do love this.
And now, for something completely different, we have The BPA, a project of Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim), that produced this extremely catchy tune featuring David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal. The song is good, but the video is brilliant.
I have a lot more to post, but I've rambled enough for tonight. Until next time...
You might have noticed from the current sidebar that I'm quite keen on Frightened Rabbit these days, specifically their album, Midnight Organ Fight, which came out earlier this year. The band is made up of 4 fellas from Scotland, which is one of the first things you'll notice when their vocals come through the speakers. The next thing you'll hear is some of the most emotionally honest indie rock that I've heard in quite some time.
It's sad bastard music, but tremendously upbeat for sad bastard music. There really isn't a dud on the album, but the immediately outstanding tracks are "The Modern Leper," "Keep Yourself Warm," (which was heard on a recent episode of Chuck) and most especially "Good Arms vs Bad Arms;" a song about the jealousy felt when your ex starts dating someone. It's been a long time since I felt that sort of jealousy, but it's a feeling you never quite forget, and a feeling that they nail.
I'm terrible at really describing what I love about the music I find. What I really want to do is put some headphones on you and make you listen to these songs. Although, what I really wish is that I could make you feel what I feel. Even though in the grand scheme of things this music isn't as important as other things going on in the world, it feels important because it's so beautiful in a world that seems so ugly.
Amanda Effin Palmer
Monday night, I had the pleasure of seeing Amanda Palmer, well known lead singer of the Dresden Dolls, perform a solo show at the Paradise in Boston. To sum my review up quickly, I'd say the show was fun. I had fun. Amanda seemed to genuinely have fun. Everyone in the crowd looked to be having fun. And the fun lasted from the opening acts through the final confetti fluttering notes of "Leeds United."
Part of that was just due to the enthusiasm Amanda had to be back in Boston. She and the other performers played a longer set, including a lot of different songs than what she had played during the rest of the tour, which everyone seemed to eat up. I didn't hear the buzz of conversation during a song like "Ampersand," which is rare at any show at a small club. And everyone was bowled over by the energy she poured out in "Runs in the Family" and "Bad Habit" (still my all time favorite Dolls song).
It was pretty over the top and theatrical, which people might have lost patience with in other towns. But the whole atmosphere felt like a big gathering of all the kids from the high school drama clubs of the last 20 years, and in that sort of environment, all the theatrics felt completely appropriate. The Danger Ensemble and the "Who Killed Amanda Palmer?" theme created pure theater. The Boston Globe thought, simply, that it was all a bit much. Everyone can have their own opinion, even if not many people at the Paradise would have shared it.
Have you people seen the new Life photo archive over at Google? It, along with Shorpy, are two of the best archives of classic photography I've seen online, and a lot of it is really amazing. The scans are high quality and they span 150 years of events ranging from the historic to the mundane.
Some are realy strange. I mean, really.
Ozzy...way back when we just thought he was crazy.
Candid Stanley Kubrick. Classic.
It's all good stuff. Check it out!
I like these guys
A couple of guys, one from MIT and the other from Harvard, are preparing to race in a mountain bike stage race next year. They don't yet know which crazy race they are going to enter, but they started a blog to chart their preparations. They are just getting started, but they wrote one thing so far that really stuck with me:
"Bike racing isn't about having a deathwish, or an ego, or needing an excuse to spend $5-10k on something shiny to impress your friends, it's about feeling alive--alive with real pain, real fear, the ecstatic joy of success and the devastation of defeat. It's about learning to appreciate the coffee shop and the hot cider because they're the polar opposite of everything you experience in racing. It's about having your life be more than a flatline of comfortable homogeneity that you trace from office to couch to restaurant until you get married, you have kids, you get old and you die. We race because we love life, and life is best experienced at its limits."