Wednesday, July 29, 2009

just stuff

As an astute reader has pointed out:
Zach Galifianakis' Visioneers is actually available on DVD now, as well as showing at some theaters. Seems kind of a shame it never got its time on the big screen.

In case you were wondering:
The winners of the 7" vinyl giveaway were from Florida and California. Nice to see we got some coastal coverage, even if the process was completely random.

New Telegraph Canyon:
is available for Pre-Order at Velvet Blue. I think I might wait for the vinyl version, which I don't think is up yet. Also, catch them with the Old 97s in Fort Worth toward the end of this month or on tour to the west coast in early September.

In the "you probably don't care, but maybe I do" department:
one of the only spoken word artists I still follow, Buddy Wakefield, will be touring the U.S. this fall on the Elephant Engine High Dive Revival, with compatriots Derrick Brown, Shira Erlichman and Anis Mojgani and many others. So glad to see they are hitting Denver and Boulder. Whether you think spoken word is so 1995 or uncool or uninteresting, you should briefly suspend such judgment, because Buddy puts on one of the most entertaining shows around. More on this to come.

No, there is no reason to mention this:
but I found some early Dwight vinyl the other day, and realized I had basically forgotten the genius of his work. Dwight may have done some odd projects over the years in some folks' minds, but of all the major label country artists of the 80s and 90s, I think he may have maintained his integrity as an artist more completely than almost any of the others. Can you think of anyone better?

Very very randomly:
ran across some Ryan Adams news on this blog today. The basic message was that Ryan may be resurrecting an old label he developed some years back to release recordings of some sort.

If you live:
in any of the hipper cities of the western United States, Tour de Fat, from New Belgium beer, may be coming to a city near you. It's a pretty great time, so check it out in your town some time. And if you've got the chance to attend the original event in Fort Collins, it comes highly recommended from me.

The Lusitania come to Colorado

One of my favorite up and coming bands will be in the great state of Colorado beginning this weekend. The Lusitania, from El Paso, is making a short run through the state, and I strongly recommend that you make a point of catching one of their shows. The band currently has an 8 song EP out and a 7" vinyl split, which together combine for a set of amazing songs. For those of you playing the record collecting game at home, you should pick up a copy of their 7" vinyl while it is still available, because I get the feeling one of these days in the not-too-distant future it will be a collector's item. Give them a listen and go check out their live show at one of the upcoming shows.

And now for the upcoming shows (in CO & elsewhere):
Fri., July 31st - Bash Riprocks in the Depot - Lubbock, TX with Thrift Store Cowboys & One Wolf
Saturday, Aug. 1st - Triple Nickel Tavern - Colorado Springs, CO w/ Drag the River
Sunday, Aug. 2nd - 3 Kings Tavern - Denver, CO
Monday, Aug. 3rd - Surfside 7 - Fort Collins, CO
Tuesday, Aug. 4th - Larimer Lounge - Denver, CO w/ Action Packed Thrill Ride
Wed., Aug. 5th - Phil's Radiator - Pueblo, CO
Fri., Aug. 7th - Dry River - Tucson, AZ
Sat., Aug. 8th - The Modified - Phoenix, AZ

The band was nice enough to take time out while they are on the road to do a brief email interview. They didn't even question the fact that I can't count, and numbered the four questions 1, 1, 3, 4.

1. How would you describe the band's sound right now? Has it changed in any way compared to your past recordings?

I would describe it as heartfelt songwriting mixed in with drunken barroom rock and roll with a cherry on top.

1. You've been recording a new album lately. Do you have a few details you could provide about how that process is going, and what your release plans are for the record?

We're recording in El Paso with Jim Ward (Sparta). We're about halfway done. It's sounding great and we're really excited for it's release. Hopefully we'll have it done in the next two or three months, after which we will begin shopping it around.

3. How is the rock/indie scene in El Paso right now? Is there strong support of independent bands & music?

There are a lot of talented groups in El Paso and a lot of good music being made. Only downfall right now is good venues to play in.

4. Anything else we should know about the Lucy?

Be on the lookout for the record soon. We'll be touring again come early January.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The end of the UMS and stuff

Brand new Daytrotter session from the Avett Brothers.

I know you don't care:
but I find it humorous that the FMQB Triple A radio conference that I've mentioned before lost Ben Harper as a headliner and replaced him in the lineup with Mindy Smith.

I told you it would happen:
and sure enough, Visioneers looks to be coming out very soon now that Zach Galifianakis is a mega star. Showings in Denver on July 29th & 30th.

I said I would do a final recap on the UMS:
but I also know you don't care about it that much, especially if you are not from Denver. Let me summarize ever so briefly: 1) The festival is super cheap - $25 for a last minute pass - I think it was like $12 for presale. I've paid more than that for one band. 2) It features some of Denver's best talent and is beginning to bring in some choice national talent. 3) Next year is the 10th Anniversary and I guarantee you they will bring in some bands that will basically be a steal for the money. 4) Enough people will have heard about it 5 years from now that there is no chance your band will get in then, but it just might if you try for next year. 5) South Broadway in Denver in July is about the best place to be in the world.

I think it's funny:
that apparently some people have accidentally happened upon my blog because Google search led them here after searching for the new Lucero album, specifically the search terms "1372 Overton Park" and "download." Not here jerks. You'll never find a leaked album for download here. But you can pre-order the new album from their Web site and get a digital download of 6 songs from the new album right NOW.

The time has finally come to give away some vinyl:
I just sent emails to the winners. Sorry if you didn't win, but the chances were tough, given that a number of people entered, and you CAN always pick up a copy from Vinyl Collective.

If you like funny things (probably safe for work, but let's be on the safe side and say NSFW):
Ben Kronberg is an awesome comic who is originally from Denver. Honestly, I just read about him in the most recent What's So Funny?, but it's pretty awesome stuff.

Denver Underground Music Showcase - Sunday

During the last day of the Underground Music Showcase, I wavered back and forth between wanting to see as much music as possible before it ended, and also not wanting to hear music ever again. For the most part, I was able to stick with the former, although I wouldn't say I made it to the bitter end. As a disclaimer, I am well aware my photos are not of the best quality, and they get progressively worse as the daylight fades. You can click them to make them a bit larger and maybe a little easier to see. Disclaimers being stated, here's some photos and most of what I can remember:

Started the day off with Hawks of Paradise on the main stage. I think 3 Kings was more of their ideal venue, but still not a bad show by any means for the middle of the afternoon. Glad I checked out the Denver Post blog before I posted this, but apparently this band announced at the end of the show that this one might be their last, but have since recanted on such claims. I'm a little less impressed with them now. Maybe I'll check them out again when the angst is out of their system.

I knew this festival was missing something, but I just couldn't put my finger on it. Oh, that's it...pedal steel guitar. Thanks to the New Ben Franklins for making that happen. The steel guitar and cowboy hats were a nice break from all the loop pedals and headbands over the past 4 days. Plus, what better venue for this type of band than the Skylark?

Next up on the Cartoys stage was Houses, another local indie rock band. Nice tight rock set, and they did a good job of moving past some technical difficulties that involved getting shocked when they touched the microphone.

The next band I can remember seeing (not from drunkenness, just music overload), whether they were the next one I saw or not, was Everything Absent or Disorted. With this being their next to last show, I expected they would pull out all the stops, and their set was no disappointment. This was the last show on the Cartoys outdoor stage, which was a huge benefit for them, in that they didn't have to rush, and they could play about as long as they wanted. Despite some technical difficulties, the set was about everything the band's long time fans could have asked for.

The band and crowd loosened up a good bit as the set wore on, although I doubt it was from the Rolling Rock, as I don't know anyone who has gotten drunk off of that, but rather it was just a band soaking up every second of the near-finale of their 4-plus year tenure in the Denver scene.

I don't have any pictures where you can see the accordion being played, but it didn't really matter in the long run, as the accordion didn't survive the rock show intact. Eventually, the show evolved into something that looked a lot like this:

In a heartfelt gesture of appreciation for their support, they brought up their wives/partners/girlfriends/friends for the last song (before their other last (encore) song). I didn't get a great picture of it, but you'll also notice the pink airbrushed EAOD shirts, which the band apparently had no idea were part of the day's plan until the start of their set when the wives/significant others showed up:

The band announced that they'll be doing their last show at either the Hi-Dive or the Bluebird, some time in November, at which time they'll also be celebrating the release of their final EP, that I *think* they said will be a free digital download.

Following this set, I regrouped for a short time, before heading over to the Hi-Dive for the night's (and the festival's) finale. I caught most of the set by North Carolina's Megafaun, who are on tour with the Bowerbirds. Apparently Justin Vernon, i.e. Bon Iver, is a good friend and huge fan of this band. The band gave a strong set to the near packed house, most notably keeping the crowd quiet enough to hear their unplugged final song (a feat that a band earlier in the festival was unsuccessful at).

The Bowerbirds were next up and gave a very solid performance. I went in not knowing any of their music, but came out with a strong appreciation for them. "Northern Lights" is an initial favorite of mine, which you can check out on their myspace. If you've read this blog before, you know I don't often quote lyrics, but for some reason, I just love the line: "and I don't expect a southern girl/to know the Northern Lights."

My pictures really took a downturn when I got into the Hi-Dive, which you might find hard to believe. However, turns out the cheapest Kodak digital doesn't do indoor night all. Here's about the best picture I got (well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little):

Check out the Denver Post's blog for better pictures and a recap of all the acts I missed. I may post one more time about the UMS before I give it a rest until next year, not that you care, but nonetheless, that about does it for a great 2009 UMS. In the meantime, take heed:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Denver Underground Music Showcase - Saturday

I learned tonight that similar to SXSW, the best plan for the Underground Music Showcase is to pore over the list of bands, carefully make a schedule of everyone that you want to see, allow for plenty of time to get to the first venue just a little bit early, and then throw away your list and wing it. It's not that you shouldn't work to see everyone you want, but expecting everything to run on the same schedule turns out to be fairly unrealistic.

I didn't have a ton of bands on my to-see list this rainy Saturday evening, but I did want to see the comics of Wrist Deep Productions. These include Adam Cayton-Holland, Greg Baumhauer, Jim Hickox, and Ben Roy, a group that has begun to make a name for themselves in the media over the past year or two. Slotted to start at 9 p.m., I showed up to Sobo 151, a sports bar where the showcase was to take place, and my first impression was that I was not in the right venue. Nonetheless, I waited it out and eventually saw the comics come in. However, in the mean time, I overheard discussion that a band, maybe more of a flash mob, called Boba Fett and the Americans was going to be making an appearance in front of the Sputnik at 9:45. Greg Baumhauer did start the comedy off around 9:30, although this was out of order from the schedule. I stayed for his set, which was hard to hear over the sports bar crowd, but there were some decent high points. I left out soon after to find out about Boba Fett.

Getting to the Sputnik about 9:45, I heard lots of talk about the band, which over time devolved into talk of whether they would show up or not. By 10 p.m., I was starting to think I should head back to the comedy, but on my way back that direction, I finally saw the Boba Fett crew warming up in the parking lot. Back at the Sputnik, the marching band finally showed up outside, possibly more fueled by the rain than deterred by it. Given the lack of any major headliner of the night, Boba Fett was really the talk of the town, and apparently the talk of the twitter as well.

(Boba Fett and the Americans outside of Sputnik)

It's hard to show exactly how many people gathered on the street to watch, but it was quite the party. Here was just a sampling of some of the crowd. I was really never able to get a picture of the entire band, nor of the entire crowd, which is probably the way it should be. Tons of local musicians, from bands such as the Wheel and Everything Absent or Distorted, could be found among the crowd, as well as festival organizer Ricardo Baca, who I happened to catch in this picture on the right side of the frame (holding the camera).

After the Sputnik performance, the band retreated briefly to regroup, but they proceeded to march around South Broadway for a couple of hours with groups of followers of varying sizes throughout that time. It was definitely a highlight of the night. The band ventured down as far as the front of a (maybe out of business?) adult entertainment store, stopping to play a song, and then proceeding to talk about how awesome it was the time they played Pleasures.

(Boba Fett shortly after their awesome gig in front of Pleasures)

Anyway, back to the comedy, I arrived back at the bar in the middle of Adam Cayton-Holland's set. Of the 4 comics I saw, Cayton-Holland seemed to keep the sports bar crowd at bay better than most, such that one could actually hear his set over the din of the crowd. Given that he was supposed to go on at 10:30, and actually was finished about 10 minutes before then, I overheard some disappointment from the late arrivals who had come to see him. But that's the nature of things like this. Ben Roy finished out the night, and while he hit a few high points, the crowd didn't really respond to his antagonistic antics, and rather just kept talking, so things didn't really finish on a high note. I would really like to see the comedy showcases get moved to a gallery or some non-sports bar in future years, as this setting was far from ideal.

I had to work a volunteer shift in the middle of all of this, so I ended up seeing one band I hadn't planned on. A hip hop group backed by a live band called Input played to an enthusiastic crowd. While I don't really listen to their type of music on a regular basis, the live band was extremely tight and the show was really high energy. Pretty cool show for a band I hadn't heard of or expected to see.

Next I checked out a band at the Irish Rover called A Mouthful of Thunder. Pretty cool stuff. I didn't know much about them, and still don't, but apparently at least some of them were/are in a local band called Hearts of Palm that has been around for a while. The lead singer said that they had gotten together most of the songs as a group fairly recently, but you really wouldn't have known if he hadn't told you. It is discoveries like this one that make festivals like this the most worth it for me. No matter how many national acts the UMS brings in in the future, you really have to hope that it always leaves room for musicians to throw together bands/side projects/marching bands at the last minute and give the fans something they hadn't expected.

(A Mouthful of Thunder at the Irish Rover)

The rest of the night unfortunately involved me standing in line for 10-15 minutes or so at the Hi-Dive and 3 Kings, mostly to see bands that I watched one song of and then moved on. Saw a band from L.A. called El Ten Eleven that had one guy on double necked guitar/bass and a drummer. The guitarist did some pretty cool loops and seemed to have a really strong crowd, but it was so packed that I moved on. Unfortunately the biggest excitement after that was watching a 3 Kings bouncer give a young woman a seriously hard time about her ID. The fact that she just walked away when he said he was keeping the ID didn't bode well for her credibility. That and a person driving the wrong way down one-way Lincoln Street pretty well capped off the night. It's always quite an experience at that time of night being the only sober driver on the road.

With the extreme drunkenness I saw last night, I don't expect a large number of folks to come out tonight, but I hope they do, as there are some great bands still on the schedule. Come on people, just hold it together for one more night.

Update: The Denver Post has a ton of pictures up and more accounts of the Boba Fett appearance, if you're in to that sort of thing.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Stuff, pt. 7

You should have known this would happen:
The ridiculous internet marketers on Twitter have found that they can put the most popular labels on the end of their tweets, so that when you search for "Michael Jackson," you'll get a ton of links on how to make $500 online every day. You had to know that these people would ruin twitter before long Michael Jackson Harry Potter Moon Michael Vick.

Being from West Texas:
I always love a good article on Stanley Marsh 3. The link is to a recent article from the Toronto Star.

I'll come clean right now:
I skipped the second night of the Underground Music Showcase, partly because I won tickets to Wovenhand at the Fox, and partly because I didn't think I could make the late night Denver-Boulder drive 4 nights in a row.

The Wovenhand show:
was okay. Not really anything happened warranting a full account. Crowd was made up of mostly old dudes, and the band was very tight, although they seem to avoid playing some of their best older material. And this is coming from someone who really likes his newest album. Oh well.

Who would've thought:
that the Jim Ward duet with Tegan Quin, on his new In the Valley, On the Shores, would be so good? Probably not me, but it is really good.

Just linked up with an old friend:
from the time before I quit the music business for the first time, and probably hadn't talked to her since some time before I quit the music business for the second time. If you live in the DFW area and want to know the best events going on, check out her blog the Fine Line.

Dear bands who think it is still 2005:
sending out random myspace friend requests to get people to listen to your band doesn't work these days. Consider yourself lucky if any of your actual fans even use myspace anymore.

I guess because of Lucero's new album:
Ben Nichols may not be on the next Revival Tour with Chuck Ragan and company. Have seen some concert listings though that indicate Jim Ward (Sleepercar, Sparta, ATDI) is going to be one of the other headliners.

Sorry for this, really:
but have you ever thought about who the person was who decided to use the "@" symbol in emails? Was probably a fairly random decision, but I bet that person is sure proud of him/herself now.

If you haven't bought:
your $30 (+ service charge) Gomez tickets for the Boulder FMQB Radio Summit, you'd better hurry. The $45 Ben Harper tickets already sold out. Have a great time - don't think I'll make it out.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Denver Underground Music Showcase - Thursday

Nothing against Langhorne Slim and the War Eagles, but Everything Absent or Distorted was the true headliner at the Hi-Dive for the first night of Denver's Underground Music Showcase. The recent announcement that the band will soon be hanging up their trombone and stage jumps after they release their last EP provided for a crowd intent on soaking up every single sound EAOD had to offer. After watching a two piece KaiserCartel fit just perfectly on the stage in the slot before EAOD, it was clear the 8-piece band and the 100 or so square feet of stage were going to make for a memorable collaboration. The picture below looks a lot like what the band looked like on stage, if you can just imagine fitting a drum kit, 2 keyboards, accordion, trombone, banjo, bass, and 2 or 3 guitars in with them. (update: here's a link to a photo of the band last night courtesy of the Denver Post, as well as other pics from the first day.)

(photo by Todd Roeth via

In all honesty, I was close to talking myself out of going to the first night of the festival, but hearing the announcement that tonight would be one of the last three shows EAOD will play, I decided it was time to suck it up and drive to Denver to finally get my chance to see them perform. The air conditioner at the Hi-Dive was no match for the fans that packed out the venue for the band's set, but once the music started, everyone seemed to forget they were watching the show from Butt Sweat City anyway. It is sets like these that make me realize my capabilities in describing music are far short of adequate, as the passion that the band put into this set, and the true artistic drive that has driven this project would be shorted a good deal by my use of buzz words and flowery language (talkin' purdy). Thus, if you live in the Denver area, all I can do is implore you to catch one of the last two shows (one of them being this Sunday). I think I'm going to have to make it just in the hopes of hearing "Gospel of Slight Rust" live at least one more time. I'm going to go ahead and be the first one to say (to the band), that maybe you guys should think about getting together next year for a little reunion at the UMS - it will be recent enough everyone will still know you, and your music will still be new, so all I'm asking is just think about it. Nonetheless, the band is finishing up its tenure the right way, and watching them perform appears a bittersweet experience for them.

Langhorne's closing set followed, his second of the night. The first had been opening up a sold out show for Josh Ritter at the Bluebird. A talented songwriter and energetic performer, he seems to be the go-to opener for some of the bigger acts around - The Avett Brothers and Lucero are just a couple that he's toured with in recent years. I recognized a number of his songs that I was familiar with, but just didn't know he was the one who sang them. I honestly have to say I was more impressed with his set than I went in expecting, and given the act he had to follow, his set was even more commendable.

(Langhorne photo credit crackerfarm)

So far, I'm very impressed with the UMS. While modeled as a SXSW style festival (in the organizers' words), it's far less obnoxious and FAR less expensive. You can walk right up any day of the festival and get a $25 pass, whereas I think a similar pass at this year's SXSW was somewhere around $750. Mind you, it is not on the same scale, nor do they pretend it is. Rather, the organizers have made an effort to build it each year, with this year's festival being the first where national touring acts have begun to take the stage. Also nice about the festival is that while there are a lot of good bands, for the most part you avoid the situation where choosing to go see one band doesn't feel like you have just chosen not to see 5 other good bands.

The first unknown (to me) that I ran across tonight was Hawks of Paradise. Only caught a couple of their songs at 3 Kings, but I think they'll be worth another chance on Sunday when they play again. Regarding Sunday, Denver, remember, 7 p.m., Sunday night, Everything Absent or Distorted at the Cartoys Stage in the Goodwill Parking Lot. I'm done talking so you can put it on your calendar right now. I expect this show will be very well attended after word spreads over the next couple of days that the band is hanging it up.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

UMMMM... here's my to-see list

Denver's Underground Music Showcase begins tomorrow and doesn't stop until Sunday night. I certainly don't have the room, and you don't have the patience for me to talk about all the bands I want to see. Similarly, I'm having to leave off a number of bands that deserve attention, but you can go here and here and here and here for more previews, and you can check out the UMS Twitter too. Nonetheless, here's what I'm thinking so far:

Magic Cyclops
Everything Absent or Distorted
Langhorne Slim

Hello Kavita
Elin Palmer
Bela Karoli
The Hollyfelds
The Wheel

Elin Palmer & Kal Cahoone
Dressy Bessy
4 great comics this night, including:
Jim Hickox
Greg Baumhauer
Ben Roy
Adam Cayton-Holland - Check out the new What's So Funny? while you're at it.

Everything Absent or Distorted (if you missed them the first time)
Reed Foehl
Ian Cooke

UMS is over, and I feel sorry for anyone playing Denver Monday night, but... if you can stand one more night, you can check out Bloodshot Records artist Ha Ha Tonka at the Hi-Dive. They've got some promising new material, so if you're just not ready to let go of the 4 day party that was the UMS, then why not make it one more night before you return to reality?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mt. Inadale Records split 7" vinyl giveaway!

I've alluded to this giveaway a few times, and after a prolonged period of gut wrenching anticipation, the time has come to give away some vinyl.

As you should well know, Austin label Mt. Inadale Records recently released a 7" vinyl split with Lubbock bands Thrift Store Cowboys and One Wolf. These two bands represent some of the best talent Lubbock has seen in recent years, and this record is no exception. Hopefully you are such a big fan that you've already bought a copy to support this label and the bands, but alas, I'm sure some of you have not.

This vinyl includes two amazing songs from the bands: "Everything's On Fire" by One Wolf, and "Nothing" by TSC, recorded specifically for this release, and not likely to appear on future albums in the same form.

Here's the deal. All you have to do to enter to win is send an email to windfarmblog(at)gmail(dot)com with your name in the body of the email, and "Mt. Inadale vinyl" in the subject line. You will be assigned a number based on the order in which your email shows up. In one week (i.e., after 11:59 p.m. on 07/28/09), I will count the number of responses, and then proceed to use this random number generator site to pick 2 winners. You have my word that I will take the first two numbers that pop up, even if you are a person I do not like. Please limit one entry per person.

Not that you need to be a super educated consumer to get things for free, but you can hear the songs from this record on each band's respective myspace. And in the event that you do not win, first of all, I am terribly sorry, but second of all, perhaps you should ease your sorrows by ordering the record from Vinyl Collective, and consider picking up a copy of the 12" Cory Branan/Jon Snodgrass split while you're at it.

Let me know if you have any questions or can't/won't read directions. I am not responsible for your own failure to comply with the unbelievably simple rules (i.e., don't enter multiple times or you'll be disqualified).

Monday, July 20, 2009

A dilemma of not very epic proportions (not epic at all)

Of all the conundrums I’ve dealt with in the past, this one is completely inconsequential, yet it really has me worked up. As of late, I feel as though I’ve been caught up in a whirlwind (“dust devil” for West Texan readers) of new music and good live shows. The Denver area music scene goes back and forth with periods of no good live shows, and then periods of too many to attend (or afford). New music releases have a similar ebb and flow in my experience.

I’m starting to feel like new music burnout is just down the road, yet I can't stop myself from really wanting to go check out the Denver Underground Music Showcase this year. Not only are there a ton of good local bands I’d like to see, I know there are many I don’t even know about, and said showcase would afford me the opportunity to begin filtering through those and deciding who is worth a longer listen. Nothing wrong with any of that.

Photo credit: Mark Holthusen via Wovenhand's myspace

Enter David Eugene Edwards. It so happens that one of Colorado’s most compelling artists is playing a show in Boulder (i.e., about 5 minutes from my house, no less), on Friday night, the same night when there are a number of bands I’d like to see at the UMS. Not that I haven’t seen him before -- quite the contrary -- but I hate to miss his show at the Fox Theatre, because at least according to a 16 Horsepower fan site, DEE has only played Boulder 3 times, ever (two with 16 HP, and one with Wovenhand). And it's a very reasonably priced show for Boulder ($10, or $14 DOS).

Even as I write this, I’m leaning back and forth on what I think I should do. I’m not sure I have the energy to make all 4 days of the UMS, but if I had to choose, I wouldn’t purposely make Friday one of the ones I missed.

Can anyone talk me through this one?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Grumbling and stuff

I wanted a vinyl copy of the Jim James tribute to George Harrison:
released under the name Yim Yames, until I found out it costs $35. The CD plus the download is just $10. I mean, I know that some of it goes to charity, but $35 for 6 tracks and a t-shirt?

$35 -- Seriously?
If it was maybe $20, I'd totally be on board, but now I think I'd rather just have the $6 download.

Have I ever told you:
how much I hate when people use the phrase "rock and roll" or "that rocks!" or "s/he is a total rock star" in the everyday workplace or in casual conversation? No? Well, I hate all those phrases and how they have tricked us into thinking our office jobs "rock" in the same way Zeppelin "rocked" in the 70s. Don't even get me started on the energy drink...

And then:
there's the phrase "we partied like rock stars." Just because you got too drunk and (insert stupid behavior), that doesn't make you a rock star, and alternately just makes you a sad 16-48 year old.

Big announcement from Lucero:
New album out on Oct. 6th, entitled 1372 Overton Park. One track is up on their Web site.

For fans of Fleet Foxes:
You Ain't No Picasso posted a pretty sweet live recording of a Robin Pecknold set, in which he performs a number of covers, including songs by Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, and B.B. King.

This Tuesday, 7/21:
You can catch the Flatlanders on Late Night with David Letterman.

This isn't breaking news:
but I have to commend the Monolith Festival for their recently announced headliners: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Mars Volta. Nice to see a mid-level festival that focuses on bringing in fairly relevant indie bands, and, I think, taking a gamble by bringing in so many other bands that are largely unknown.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

a good day at the record store

If you have a regular record store in your town that you frequent, you likely know a couple of things. 1.) Once you've gone through the used records a few times, there's not much to look at other than the new arrivals, and unless your store gets tons of new stuff, new used records of interest are few and far between. 2.) You know that because of reason 1, there's a lot bigger satisfaction to finding something good at your local store than locating something on ebay.

You've probably stopped reading by this point, but today was right up there with some great finds. I've come to find that Talking Heads albums are few and far between at record stores these days, and hence finding this one ranked up there with the time I found an original Grievous Angel at Twist and Shout. Also, judge me if you must, but the Jackson 5 Greatest Hits is a 1971 original in great shape (not that I'm planning to resell it), and surprisingly, it wasn't horribly overpriced, as I'm sure a number of Jackson's albums are these days. Some idiot on ebay had one of these same records posted for $500 (it didn't sell).

Rounding out the day's finds were records from John Prine, Faron Young, and Waylon. After a first listen to the Waylon record, I'm really coming to decide that he may be one of the more under-appreciated legends of country music, or more appropriately, of music in general. Not that he's been forgotten, but I think his impact and artistry aren't recognized to the extent that they should be.

We should talk more about this Waylon business soon. Until then, why don't you read up on Littlefield and be ready for a quiz next week.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Old 97s - Boulder Theater - 07/16/09

As anyone who has ever read this blog well knows, the Old 97s are probably my favorite band of all time, and probably have been since around the first time I saw them on Austin City Limits 11 or so years ago. Living in Fort Worth for 3 years, I had the opportunity to see the band a number of times at the beginning of this decade, but moving to Lubbock in 2003, and then Colorado in 2006 has made for far fewer opportunities to see them. So when I found out they were playing within walking distance of my house, it was almost too much to handle. And then when I found out that Murry and Rhett were opening the show with solo sets, I had to go see my doctor to see if I would be healthy enough to attend this show given the excitement it would cause.

The first thing we noticed when we arrived at the Boulder Theater was that the Old 97s crowd these days is really...old. I'm sure a substantial portion of them were the "Question" crowd, and were there because they heard the song at a Rockies game one time when someone got engaged on the Jumbotron. However, as the night wore on, the crowd began to fill in with the jaded looking 30-40 year olds that I was so accustomed to seeing at Old 97s shows in Dallas. Then of course there were a couple of token beat up cowboy hats that apparently some people still wear, and to round it out, of course, were a few people wearing the band's t-shirt to their show.

Murry Hammond opened up the show with a set of his solo material, which was pretty well a dream come true for me. The set was fairly eclectic, comprised mostly of acoustic gospel songs from his album I Don't Know Where I'm Going But I'm On My Way, but also including "I Will Never Marry" performed on the harmonium, and my personal highlight "Valentine." I guess the mellow set gave the audience a bit too much room to talk, so Murry sang the latter half of his set over a sizable background noise from the audience. However, he seemed unfazed by such, and for those listening, the music was well appreciated. In the men's room, I overheard someone say "it takes balls to be that guy," which pretty well sums up a guy who plays gospel music in front of an audience who came to see a loud and raucous rock band.

Songs I could identify from this set were:
What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?
Between the Switches
Lost at Sea
I Will Never Marry
I Believe, I Believe
(Might have been one more song on here that I didn't recognize)

Rhett Miller followed with a short solo set. While I was well aware that Rhett is an amazing rhythm guitarist, this set really highlighted his ability to strum the guitar so fast that you can't see his right hand. I don't know all of his solo material quite as well, but I've increasingly become a fan of it, probably more so now that it's clear the Old 97s aren't likely to dissolve as a result of his solo career. That's kind of ridiculous I know, but you have to understand, things were a little tense for 97s fans around the time The Instigator came out.

Songs I could identify from this set were:
This Is What I Do
Singular Girl
(Sorry, probably missed 2-3 songs from this one)

The Old 97s set was great, as always, and the band sounded extremely tight. There aren't a lot of bands with this many albums that I would be able to identify every song in their set, but this show wasn't even really a challenge. Keeping with tradition, they played at least one song from every album. Maybe I overdid it, but my three twitter requests - "Hands Off," "House that Used to Be," and "Melt Show" - didn't make it into the show.

The set list was as follows:
Won't Be Home
The Other Shoe
Dance With Me
Lonely Holiday
W. TX Teardrops
The New Kid
No Baby I
Barrier Reef
Murder (or a Heart Attack)
If My Heart Was a Car
Color of a Lonely Heart
I Need to Know Where I Stand (new Rhett song)
Question (and a verse in French)
I Will Remain
Rollerskate Skinny
Big Brown Eyes
Easy Way

Rocks Off (Rolling Stones cover)
Bel Air
The Fool

With this concert done, now all I've got to do is try and figure out if I can make all 4 Colorado shows for the Avett Brothers.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shhh. Don't tell anyone.

The one music event that happens in Boulder each year, when we typically get a slight influx in the availability of good music, has been for years the Triple A Radio Summit. It has brought great acts to Boulder in smaller than normal venues, most recently Ryan Adams at the Fox Theatre in 2007 (I should be shot for missing it, but in all honesty, I did). However, there are typically a number of good acts and those shows almost always sell out. As the Colorado Daily reported, the long time backer of that conference dropped out this year (because it went out of business). However, the event was saved, so to speak, by another organization, FMQB (Friday Morning Quarterback Album Report, if you cared.

The oddest thing is that, despite the fact that the conference is apparently still scheduled, not a single thing has been reported for close to a month, when FMQB was announced as the new backer. Sure, they did say in the article they wouldn't announce the lineup until July 20th, but come on - if it's set, then announce it now. Even though it hasn't been officially announced, I did finally find the schedule here.

I'll be out of town for majority of the conference (not that you care), being held August 5-7, and sadly, I'm not even that bummed about it. The lineup seems to be a bit trimmed back compared to previous years. The Fox has a few acts that might be worth seeing in a small venue. Among those, Ben Harper and Andrew Bird on Wednesday, and Gomez on Thursday. Odd that Yonder Mountain String Band is also playing the conference at the Fox on 8/7 when they already have a sold out show there on 8/27...not that they'll have any trouble selling out again in this town. That thought alone almost brings me to a grumpy old man rant about the state of the Boulder music scene, but I'll spare you for now. Well, except for the fact that it really shows how ridiculous this town's music scene is that the David Gray E-town performance has already sold out.

So in summary, I *guess* the newly sponsored radio summit will happen. However, I'm still not sure anyone is going to hear about it until a week or two before it happens. I guess they are banking on the fact that people in Boulder don't really like good music anymore and will turn out in droves to see mostly non-cutting edge acts.

Well, I say non-cutting edge, but I guess that is unfair to the big Fox second stage show on Wednesday night featuring...yep, Marcy Playground.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Festivals and stuff

Best news I've heard in some time:
Doug Burr will be heading back into the studio at the end of the summer.

to Amanda Shires for her recent spotlight piece in Texas Music magazine, and also for charting on the Americana Radio charts (up to #28 so far).

If you care about this type of thing:
Bloodshot Records now lists the limited edition vinyl for Justin Townes Earle's The Good Life as sold out. You can probably still find some copies here and there, but probably not for a lot longer.

More congratulations:
to Telegraph Canyon, from Denton, whose next album will be released on Velvet Blue and Spune, which is also Doug Burr's label.

No matter how long we've had cell phones:
it turns out that it's still not a good idea to be talking to someone on the phone while you're pulling out into traffic on a busy street. Just in case you didn't know.

Austin City Limits Festival:
is looking more and more tempting. Must keep in mind how expensive it is though, and how it will be 150 degrees and 50,000 people will share 2 porta potties. But then again, there's also the Avett Brothers, Bon Iver, Devotchka, Grizzly Bear, and the Felice Brothers. Sorry to offend any major Arctic Monkeys fans, but I can't see much reason to go on Sunday.

Denver's SXSW equivalent:
is called the Underground Music Showcase (the UMS), although there's probably about 5,000 less bands in town for it. However, I count that as a plus. Hoping to make it down, with early intentions to catch Bela Karoli, Elin Palmer, The Wheel, Dressy Bessy, Adam Cayton-Holland, and Everything Absent or Distorted.

Is there any reason:
that I shouldn't go see both the Boulder AND the Denver Avett Brothers shows next month? I'm starting not to see any.

Thinking about giving away:
a few copies of the new Mt. Inadale 7" split. I'll keep you posted.

Yep, more old Old 97s

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Upcoming: Old 97s at Boulder Theater - 07/16/09

I don't try to hide my bias when discussing the Old 97s, who probably stand as my favorite band of all time. Too Far to Care may be the album that had the greatest impact on my perspective on music, and I still consider it the best alt country album of all time.

(image courtesy of Paste)
I'll never forget the first show of theirs I ever saw, at the Gypsy Tea Room in Deep Ellum in 1999. I didn't have a ticket, so I showed up at 7 p.m. to stand in line and proceeded to wait about 4 hours before I finally got to see them. I can also still remember basically being mesmerized as the entire room sang along with Rhett to "Wish the Worst." But I digress...I have way too many Old 97s stories.

The band has somehow withstood the test of time, maybe even benefitting from the fact that they never really got huge. They've got an amazing catalogue of songs that probably couldn't be covered in two full nights, much less one. Today's Colorado Daily interview with Rhett Miller reports that the band will be taking requests for the Boulder show on Twitter. This is the type of thing that could lead me to overload the Twitter system singlehandedly. I'd better not get greedy though. Hmm - don't think I've heard "Hands Off" more than maybe once live. But then there's "If My Heart Was a Car," "Crash on the Barrelhead," and "House that Used to Be" also. Decisions....

Did I mention how awesome it is that Rhett and Murry are opening the show each with their respective solo material? I may not be able to drink enough to make this make sense.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bon Iver - Fox Theatre (Boulder, CO) - 07/12/09

Bon Iver could do no wrong on Sunday night. After a sold out show in Denver and a sold out show this night in Boulder, they continue to ride the wave of popularity after only one LP and one EP. And they ride this wave exceeding well, as opposed to other acts with similar rises to stardom that have not ridden that wavve so gracefully. If you don't know the back story on Bon Iver, let me fill you in - Justin Vernon made an amazing album by himself a few years ago and now everyone knows about it. Now he is touring behind that album and his recent Blood Bank EP and doing an outstanding job of it. If you can put on a great live show, and you're in a position where almost every song you have as a band is good, you get an end product that only comes around so often (If you're from the mainstream 90s, think 3eb on tour after their first album came out).

As with any show review I do, I end up giving my people watching report as much as I talk about the music. And let me tell you, this sold out show gave me more than enough examples, of which I'll pass along the best.

The setting:
Thinly bearded man and female companion standing on stairs, with 2 slightly older dudes and a woman behind them. One of the dudes is wearing a plaid shirt and the other has aging 90s rocker dude hair.

Skinny dude with thin beard (SDWTB): (turns to dudes behind him) Could you guys quit talking so I can hear the music?

90s rocker dude: (loudly) What?

(SDWTB turns back around and pinches fingers together with international sign for "shut it," which incidentally is also the international sign for "I'm probably a pretentious jerk")

(time passes, tension visually grows)

SDWTB: (not directly to dudes behind him, but uttered vaguely so as to implicitly address them) this is an amazing show.

Plaid shirt dude who would clearly win should the altercation turn physical (PSDW...TP): yeah, sure is.

SDWTB: would be even better if we could hear the songs over you talking.

PSDW...TP: (pretentious voice) We paid just the same as you.

SDWTB: (sheepishly, voice almost cracking) Maybe you should take a walk man.

PSDW...TP: (more confident, less sheepishly) Maybe you should take a walk.

SDWTB: Dude, do you even know this band? Can you even pronounce the name?

PSDW...TP: (in a mocking grade school argument voice, you know the one) Can you even pronounce the name? (returning to pretentious voice, and also conveniently avoiding saying the band name, for fear of actually mispronouncing it) Dude, I made the f-c-ing domain name for this band.

Annnnnd scene.

Whether true or not, plaid shirt dude played the indie nerd card that was pretty much the end of the interaction. I seriously doubt this guy created the domain name for Bon Iver, but whether he did or didn't is far from the point, as the entire interaction was an awesome display of the indie pretension one finds at a Bon Iver show, involving not only who "really knows" the band's music, but also who can correctly pronounce the band's name. And thankfully for you as much as me, this was a much better summation of the crowd in general than my typical ramblings about silly hats and headbands.

Oh right, I guess I should mention the music too. The overall show was flawless and went above and beyond my expectations in regard to regurgitating more than the recorded versions. In spite of the completeness and strength of For Emma, the band nonetheless finds just the right places in the live show to add harmonies, percussion, dissonance, whistles, bells, feeling and emphasis that elevate the live show to an experience that you won't find on youtube. Perhaps most notably of all, Bon Iver does the unthinkable by taking a packed house of people who are too cool to sing along and somehow gets almost all of them to participate in a singalong during "The Wolves (Act I and II)." Throughout, Vernon was quite the gracious host of the night's music, speaking with the audience in a very friendly manner, no doubt in such a way that he may unintentionally spur further insiderism from the indie crowd, as was displayed in the above interaction.

Given that I lean more toward the fan end of blogging than the journalist end, I don't have pictures from the show, but you can check out a close approximation of such (that is, from the Denver show) at I am Fuel, You are Friends, through her review of the previous nights' performance at the Ogden Theater.

Opening the show in both Denver and Boulder was The Wheel, a Denver band I was previously unfamiliar with. I've since come to find that they are a side project of sorts from a more long-time Denver act - Born in the Flood. (Admittedly, I never had a great familiarity with that band either.) In short, the Wheel performs at a level that I would say makes it hard to call them a side project. As is often the case with openers, I basically went in with the mindset that they were going to have to prove something to me if I was to like them, i.e. do something well above mediocre, and I think they did an impressive job of that. I know I spend as much time talking about how blogs already overload you with music and how none of us have time for that much new music, BUT if you're feeling adventurous, give "Early Spring Till" a try on their myspace. It takes a certain mood to get into this, but if it happens to catch you at the right time, it's a worthwhile listen.

Whether or not you could accurately pronounce Bon Iver or correctly spell the name of The Wheel frontman Nathaniel Rateliff turned out to be immaterial last night, as the music was everything a good indie fan could ever ask for (besides maybe a new silly headband).

Update: You can also check out the Denver Post's reviews of the Denver and Boulder shows, and also Wyoming Beat's review of the Boulder show. You know, if you like pictures and stuff.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Not like funny ha ha

For those of you who get around in the blog world (don't worry, I'm not judging), there's little doubt that you have largely become immune to the many raves about the next hot band. Given the commodization of blogs, I think many have become forced to throw multiple bands at you every day. Besides maybe 5% of music industry people, bloggers, and a few people in silly hats, how many of us really have the energy to check out a new band or 5 every day? Personally, I find that I am lucky to feel like listening to one new band each week, and probably don't buy music from an artist I previously knew nothing of more than once a month.

All that being said, I still have trouble filtering out who I think are the most trusted sources of music recommendations, and even at my favorite blogs, the new music recommendations tend to be too much to handle. Amazing how bands find their way into our playlists really, given the number of options out there.

Why you needed to hear all of that, I don't know. Nonetheless, the latest band that has begun to catch my attention is Ha Ha Tonka. I was initially turned off by the name (the same reason I have not taken the time to listen to Ra Ra Riot, despite having heard they are good), but given the credibility I attribute to Bloodshot Records, I fought through my initial disinterest and listened to their myspace. In recent years, I had lost interest in Bloodshot's releases for no specific reason, but they have regained my interest as of late due to my recent discovery of Justin Townes Earle.

I still need some time to soak in exactly what they are up to, but I do have some first impressions - they seem to be a bit more rockin' than the typical Bloodshot band and they've got good harmonies. They've still got a slight country element to their sound, but it's very cleverly woven into their indie rock sound. Also, they are coming through Denver in a few weeks, so hopefully I'll have a chance to hear their albums and see a live show.

If you so choose to check them out, try "Falling In" and "Caney Mountain" from their myspace. I've found those two tracks to be pretty strong. Alternatively, you can file this in the "more recommended music from a blog that I will probably never listen to" file.

Here's one of them fancy music videos for "Caney Mountain," courtesy of the Bloodshot youtube page:

And while you're at it, check out the relatively new Justin Townes Earle "Midnight at the Movies" video:

Monday, July 6, 2009

This isn't really new, but...

Sleepercar "A Broken Promise"

Bands from West Texas just make me feel good about the world. I love it that Jim Ward has been to rock stardom and back, but continues to live in El Paso, and is apparently helping some friends of his get a new bar started there. I understand he is also helping to produce the new Lusitania album, which will no doubt add to the legacy of El Paso music.

I've not had the chance to see Sleepercar live yet, but am hoping to make a point of it next time they come through town. In the mean time, he has recently released the second of three solo EPs, this one entitled In the Valley, On the Shores, that from what I can tell, are only available here.

I wish I still had the article, but I remember years ago, just after the break up of At the Drive In and subsequent formation of the Mars Volta and Sparta, there was an article detailing the best selling albums by Texas artists over the calendar years. What I remember was that the Dixie Chicks were first, and Sparta came soon after them on the list. They were a band most people hadn't heard of, but it turned out the ATDI fans were so rabid I think basically every single one of them bought a copy of the first Sparta album (and probably the first TMV album as well). Okay, maybe that's not a good story, but I thought it was pretty cool at the time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

From Nonesuch to Jeff Tweedy with love

Dear Jeff,

We wanted to take a moment to write you a letter of praise in regard to your band’s new album, Wilco (the album). It has been a genuine pleasure to release your albums over the past 8 or so years, and we take pride in the fact that our relationship with you and Wilco has lasted so long. We hope you love the artistic freedom we give you as much as we love the money you make us.

While you were not on our label for Being There (well, you were sort of, on a subsidiary of our parent company), I think we all know that Wilco was on the verge of going the way of the Jayhawks. However, given your big label affiliation at the time, you rode it out and made Summerteeth, which no one understood at the time, but importantly, it gave those of us in “the biz” a sign that Wilco might actually be far from finished. Thank goodness WB put out that album, or you very well could have fallen through the cracks before you found direction and began to hit your stride.

At that point, you still weren’t that big of a deal, but oh man, the Woody Guthrie business was the beginning of great things to come. The great things just got better when we got the opportunity to pick you up after our parent company dropped you. (Still not entirely sure, but did you really get paid twice for that album?) Anyway, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot really broke ground because it was so experimental (seems like a tiny bit too much noodling at times now, but that’s neither here nor there), and was coming from what people had previously thought was an alt country band. And then there was the documentary about all the drama in the band…a better script could not be written for an American rock band.

After you reinvented the Wilco wheel, we have to say we couldn’t be more pleased with the direction things have gone since then. A Ghost is Born worked to push the envelope just a bit more, but not enough to scare away any of your ever expanding fanbase. And honestly Jeff, when you listen to some of the musical shenanigans on Kicking Television, don't you wonder how you get away with some of that stuff yourself? Whatever the case, you can take a song like "Via Chicago" and play the skillet and wooden spoon on it in your live show, and the crowd just eats it up. After that, Sky Blue Sky continued the path of changing things up just enough to make people still feel like it was cool to blast "Impossible Germany" out of their Subaru factory speakers. The addition of Nels brought such an amazing dimension to the band, and thankfully, the rest of your personnel changes have never been so drastic as to alienate any substantial segment of your fanbase. Remember when you included one of John Stirratt's songs on A.M? It's almost funny to think about now.

Sure, you have never gotten much radio play over the years, but it just hasn’t mattered. You’ve steadily grown into one of the most respected American rock bands, with virtually complete control over your artistic integrity, and we just couldn’t be happier that you’re going stronger now than ever before. The pleasure is all on this side of the table, trust us.

More adeptly than most bands of your kind, you have found a way to stay relevant enough to your fans that they stick with you. All those hipster kids in 2001 who fell in love with YHF are mostly out of college and/or have families and good jobs now. And as you well know, those are the same people who pay to download songs from their favorite artists like nobody's business. Downloads basically cost us nothing, and we don’t even have to go to the bank to cash in on them, since the money just drops straight into our (and your) offshore accounts. Turns out your fans aren’t quite as hip as they used to be, but the key is, your music is just far enough out of the mainstream that they still believe they’re listening to cutting edge music. Good for us, and doubly good for you, since they pay $35 & up (plus typically $25 in service fees) to see you live at huge venues across the country. Hipsters would rather spend that money on PBR and silly hats, but they aren’t vital to your success anymore, so no reason to change what you're doing now.

In fact, what better to keep your fans energized than to make your 7th album such a tongue-in-cheek affair by naming it Wilco (the album), with “Wilco (the song)” as the lead off track? Whether intentional or not, you’ve created a blogger's dream, as blogs have already begun to proliferate the internet with clever titles such as “Wilco (the review)” and “Wilco (the blog post).” This has prompted those of us around the office to refer to the album in-house as “Wilco (the cash cow).” Can we also say that the Feist guest appearance was a brilliant move that we think will see you continue to gain new fans in the ITunes demographic? We’re actually in talks with Toyota to have “You and I” preprogrammed into every new Prius sound system. Just as expected though, this album is not a one trick pony, given that "I'll Fight," "Country Disappeared," and "One Wing" are likely to become instant Wilco staples as well, because after all, you're the one making the rules. The album is accessible, but appropriately, not instantly accessible to the casual listener. After a few listens, your core fans will start reminiscing about the days when they listened to really cool music, and remember why they got that "I am an American aquarium drinker" ankle tattoo. Admittedly, we get a little sentimental too, when we think about how much money we were making off of you back then. Let's keep this gravy train going, why don't we?

For future reference, we’d love it if Spencer is ready to put out an album in the next few years, so please keep us in mind. Otherwise, we'll leave you alone for now, as we've got to get back to our layoffs, but please let us know if there's anything we can do for you.


Nonesuch Records (the label)
Warner Brothers Records (the parent label)
Warner Music Group (the corporation)