Friday, February 29, 2008

Column:
The Fallacy of Pretty, Pretty Production






By Nicole Pope



After hearing new singles from Islands and Tapes N Tapes, I’m apprehensive. Already I fear they’ll be added to the heap of bands that had their eye on the prize and left with honorable mention. Why? Both songs left me feeling like I ate too much bread before my meal: all yummy filler, yet surprisingly little substance.

I’m talking about production here.

The Shins. Modest Mouse. Blonde Redhead. Interpol. Sigur Ros. One could even make a case for The Arcade Fire.

All have embraced a markedly prettier production on their recent albums, yet have made one of their weakest (or in many cases, hands-down weakest) albums yet.

What’s going on here?

Is it simply that as bands increase in popularity they get more money, and so like all those anemic Hollywood blockbusters, pile that dough into aesthetics?

Or that obsessing over the production leads artists to overlook the essentials of the craft?

Or that the overproduction is an attempt to bolster skeletal song writing?

Is it misguided or misguiding producers?

Attempts to please a newly demanding record label?

Attempts at grandeur that fall flat?

Or is it just that the quality of the band’s current output doesn’t justify all the histrionics?

Make no mistake, a better sounding song does not necessarily a weak song make. Look at The Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin, maybe the most produced album ever. Or on a lesser scale, an album like Blonde Redhead’s Misery is a Butterfly. Here the band moved toward a glossier sound, though the production complemented its meandering sparseness (I’ve heard listening to the album compared to watching a French film.) Another more recent example: Iron & Wine’s The Shepherd’s Dog. This is perhaps the most extreme sonic shift, as we go from crackling tracks like “The Sea and the Rhythm” to the multi-layered, reverb-heavy “Carousel.” And yet, the album is a resounding success.

Is this simply the case of “I fell in love with The Shins because of two-minute tracks like ‘Girl Inform Me,’ and now they’re peddling Zunes with their oversexed, overblown new singles”? (I’m unfairly knifing “Sleeping Lessons” here, which is admittedly the best song on the album. But maybe that only proves my point.)

Is it just that some bands are better at making the transition from lo-fi to pretty, pretty production?

Maybe I’m being petulant here, but why do they have to make the transition?

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First Listen Friday:
The Boy Least Likely To, Peter Morén,
El Perro Del Mar


It's Friday, which means I'm going to pull myself out from under this slew of '90s albums I've been discovering lately and bring you something new.

This week's list reeks of Femme Fatale favorites.

Enjoy.


(Note: Because all of these songs are so new, I'm only able to stream one of them for you here. For the others I've provided MySpace links, which shouldn't give you any trouble.)


El Perro del Mar - "Glory to the World"
El Perro del Mar's eponymous debut LP was a delightful little exercise in self-loathing. Its charm came from its glumness, peppered by phrases like "This loneliness ain't pretty no more," or "All the feelings you got from me is like for a dog," or the hauntingly simple "I don't understand pppeeeoopppllleee."

Which is why I was so surprised when I heard this song from EPDM's upcoming release, From the Valley to the Stars. Sarah's not exactly bouncing off the walls in this one, but it feels like it.




The Boy Least Likely To - "TBLLT is a Machine"
Still not happy enough for you? Check out this track from the upcoming Boy Least Likely To album (slated for sometime this summer).

Remember those adorable animals from their debut album cover? On this song they've dropped the twee-as-fuck act to try out for the Animal Collective. That's taking it a little far, but if this song is a sign of things to come from the band, sign me up.

Hear it Here.


Peter Morén - "El Petit Coeur" and "I Don't Gaze at the Sky"

Ever wonder what might happen if you split up Peter Bjorn and John (other than getting Peter, Bjorn, and John)? Well wonder no more. One-third of the Swedish pop duo will release his first solo album The Last Tycoon April 8.

I adore the PB&J poppiness and hate to see it go. Still, it's intriguing to consider the new direction Peter is exploring on what appears to be largely a folk album.

Hear it Here.


That's all for this week. Enjoy your weekend, everyone. Now I gotta get back to this Mercury Rev.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Check This Shit Out!
Loafin' Around.. And Baby Birds Don't Eat Meat


Just when you thought you'd seen enough beef on the site this week, along comes the Lawrence Loaf Off. This may not be music-related. But it's local. And it's weird.

Unless Lawrence.com is yanking my meat thermometer prematurely, this Sunday marks the first ever Lawrence, Kansas, meatloaf cookoff. Perhaps this is the fair city's answer to KC's annual American Royal Barbeque competition. Perhaps those dern hippies have lost their minds (and veggie diets).

So you want to see if your meat is up to snuff? Bring it on by the 4-1-1 Studio, 411 E. Ninth, Sunday from 1-4 p.m. Categories include “Best In Show,” “Best Secret Ingredient,” and “Most Loaf Like.”

Then head a block over to the Eighth Street Taproom to see Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk and The ACB's. Now that's a Sunday schedule that could get me out of my pjs and chokin down some beef.

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The Cult of Personality

There’s a common tendency to personify inanimate objects. Assigning feelings, intentions, and attitudes to a computer, car, or the weather (if only metaphorically) allows us easier interaction with those things. That’s just how we’re programmed. According to evolutionary psychologists, our genes grow far more brain modules for dealing with people and animals than abstract forms.

By automatically assigning personalities to albums, we make them more accessible to instinctual understanding, without limiting our ability to logically understand them. It’s not even necessary to know much about the band or singer. We subconsciously create a persona for the album itself (separate from the creators) as we listen.

With that in mind, what albums have personalities similar to those of real-life people or animals? What would your favorite albums look like if they were made human? How would they act?

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wayback Whensday:
Don't Tell Anyone You Don't Own...


It's May of 1994. Kurt Cobian was only a month deceased. I'm in the Microfisch lab of my Junior High School library (1) researching for the year's final history paper, which, knowing me, was probably due the next day. My topic was the history of Rock & Roll, yet all I could bother to research was Kurt Cobain. You'll have to forgive me, after all, the man had only recently died, and Nirvana was one of my favorite bands at the time. As I was researching, I came across a magazine article - from what magazine I cannot remember anymore - that more or less named Beck as the Grunge poster boy now that Kurt had passed, pointing out how his hit song "Loser" had become an anthem for the slackers that worshiped Nirvana. I rolled my eyes. Loser is right, I thought, that no-talent ass-clown couldn't write a good song if his life depended on it. (2) What did I know? I was young and extremely naive. Besides, I was going off "Loser," and only "Loser." A few months later I stayed up late watching MTV and caught the video for "Pay No Mind" on 120 Minutes. I liked that song much more, and began to ease off my ire for Beck's music.

Needless to say, my expectations were not very high when I first saw the video for "Where It's At," Odelay's first single, on MTV in 1996. (3) While the song didn't do much for me at the time, a strange thought popped into my head, and I distinctly remember thinking to myself, I'll probably end up loving that song in a few weeks. How I could tell the song would eventually grow on me, I do not know. Perhaps it is because that was the age where, more than ever before, I was constantly opening my mind to new music. It was only a few weeks later that I first borrowed Daydream Nation from a friend, a moment that changed my life forever. Whatever the reason, I knew I would eventually wind up a fan of "Where It's At," and I was right. Two weeks of heavy MTV and Alternative Radio rotation later, I made my usual weekend trip to Best Buy (there were no real Ma and Pa record stores in the 'burbs) and bought Odelay.

At the time I could care less about sampling, genre crossing, Beck's hokey cowpoke attire, or the supposed importance of Odelay that established rock critics were already pelting the album with. I just knew I liked it, a lot. Now that I'm older, I can definitely see the Dust Brother's fingerprints all over this record. I notice the meticulous samples and scratches, the dusty, familiar popping from an old record, funk horns and percussion out the wazzoo. Secretly, I believe that without them, the Dust Brothers and their samples, Beck's follow up to Mellow Gold probably sounds exactly like Mellow Gold. So let's give Beck, or whoever was responsible, some credit for pairing them up. The Dust Brother's anything goes sampling strategy meshed perfectly with Beck's anything goes songwriting approach. Thus, Odelay was a child born of their love for all things rock, roll, funk, soul, country, folk, samples, loops, serious philosophical statements, jokes, samples, samples, samples, more samples, and that fucked-up dreadlocked dog on the album's cover.

Now almost 12 years old, Odelay still holds up rather well. The proof exists in 2004's disappointing Guero, which was also produced by the Dust Brothers. The Dust Brothers, thanks to broader and stricter copyright laws (4), are really just a shadow of their former selves, focusing on beats and slick production instead of fretting over which sample would fit perfectly at any particular moment. Not that it probably would have mattered, Beck too had changed. For once, it seemed like Beck had run out of ideas, so he ripped himself off, mostly looking back to Odelay in the process. (5) Lightning does not strike twice, they say, and Beck wound up looking like the older guy at the college party.

Honestly, who cares. Of course its a bummer that Beck albums don't hit my sweet spot like they used to, but the man certainly had a good run. I'll admit that the jury's still out on whether or not Odelay is even Beck's best album - that's like comparing apples to oranges to pears to, well, you get the idea - but here I am anyway declaring that if you don't own this album yet, you probably shouldn't go around telling anybody. Rather, you should do what I did so many years ago. Take your allowance to the record store (or Best Buy, or wherever you prefer to buy your music) this weekend and make Odelay your own.



(1) Remember, this is Kansas in 1994, we maybe had 3 computers in the whole school with internet capabilities. Maybe. And the Microfisch machines outnumbered them five to one.
(2) Office Space was still several years away, so I highly doubt I actually thought of the phrase "no-talent ass-clown," which is too bad, 'cause that would have been hilarious.
(3) Yep, I'm old enough to remember when MTV was actually one of the places where you would first hear a new song.
(4) Are the Rolling Stones to blame? Someone should ask Richard Ashcroft.
(5) Kudos to him for taking so long to get to that point though. Spoon's a great band and all, but they've basically made the same album how many times now?

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Top Five Tuesday:
Covers

No, not album covers, Nicole did that last week, and I'm not that desperate for ideas, I'm talking about cover songs. Like you, I could deal without the myriad of awful attempts at other people's songs, but every so often I hear a cover that's just brilliant. Here are five that I particularly enjoy.


5). Talking Heads - "Take Me to the River"
This song, originally recorded by Al Green, probably did a better job of showing off Talking Head's range than they ever could have imagined. I mean, its one thing to be labeled as a art-punk band with a funky side, its another thing entirely to cover a legend and pull it off.

4). The Pixies - "Head On"
This cover is pretty straightforward, but the Pixies one-up Jesus and Mary Chain by turning up the volume and intensity. Thankfully Frank Black drops the faux, Billy Idol-esque vocal styling too.

3). TV on the Radio - "Mr. Grieves"
Speaking of the Pixies, here's TV on the Radio doing an a cappella version of "Mr. Grieves." Taken from the Young Liars EP, TV on the Radio wasted absolutely no time in showing the world exactly what they were capable of doing.

2). David Bowie - "Wild Is the Wind"
Originally written by Dimitri Tiompkin and Ned Washington and performed by Johnny Mathis for the 1957 film of the same name. It was later covered by Nina Simone, and then David Bowie, who was inspired to record this song after meeting her. One of Bowie's most passionate and sensual performances.

1). Smashing Pumpkins - "Landslide"
I'm not sure we can have a discussion about covers without mentioning this song. Stevie Nicks may have performed the original, but after hearing Billy Corgan put his heart and soul into this song - something even Stevie Nicks couldn't be bothered with - I've decided the song may as well be his.

But don't take my word for anything, listen for yourself.



How do these stack up? Were you expecting Feist, Yo La Tengo, or the Beatles? Elliot Smith covering the Beatles? I'm curious, what's your top 5 covers?

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Concert Announcement:
The Slits


















According to the Replay Lounge website, Legendary punk/dub innovators The Slits are coming to Lawrence on St. Patrick's Day, further complicating matters on a day where there are already too many shows to choose from. This should be a gnarly good time, and possibly a once in a lifetime chance to see them play, period, let alone at such a small venue.

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Album Review:
Beach House - Devotion



Beach House - Devotion

(Carpark, 2008)

86.5%


"Holy Dances"(mp3)





"I haven’t been able to get you off my mind for months now. You might be this year’s Boxer. Maybe not the #1 album of the year, but #1 in my heart.”


“Really? You mean that?”


“That’s why I don’t think I should be the one to review you.”


“What? Why?”


“It’s just I’ve seen you naked too many times. Don’t get me wrong, you’re still gorgeous. A knockout, really. It’s just I’d pegged you for an 8.9 or 9.0. And you’re just – not. I mean I didn’t know what to think when I found out that bracelet wasn’t even yours. It’s not like it was my favorite thing about you. Maybe I just needed an excuse.”


“You don’t like Daniel Johnston?”


“No, I mean if he’s good enough for Jeff Mangum, he’s good enough for me. And you wear it so well.”


“Better than him?”


“Don’t push it. Though I will say you’re way better than that slut Mazzy Star.”


“Really? You think so?”


“Yes.”


“What about Galaxie 500?”


“Look, I can’t even say I really understand that comparison. So I’m not going to answer that question.”


“A few weeks ago you said I was the first album to make you feel this way in a long time. That you already knew in January I was going to be one of your favorites of the year.”


“I know I said that. It’s just you never change. I mean even from your last album. And on this one, it’s like you’re in this trance the whole time. This crazy lovesick trance. And I just can’t be around you all the time when you’re like that.”


“I thought that’s what you loved about me.”


“It is. It’s what I love and hate about you. I hate how you make me feel about myself. Which isn’t really your fault. There’s just this moment when I see this other side of you, when you get all Animal Collective on me and the song just rolls around on the floor in this fit of glee. I want more of that.”


“It’s just this mood I’m in. You should relate. You’re the one who still listens to “Guest Room” over and over again feeling sorry for yourself. I guess ‘Some Things [Do] Last a Long Time.’”


“We’ve been over this. That isn’t even your song. Look, I think it might be time for me to see other albums. 2008 is looking like it’s going to be a great year for me. And you’re fantastic, really you are. It’s just I’m too close to you right now. Let’s give it a few months. If we both still feel the same way, I’ll put you in my top ten.”


“What about top five?”


“Don’t push it.”



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Julie Christie, The Rumors Are True...

You didn't win that Best Actress Oscar Sunday night. Seriously, though. Maybe I'm admitting my lack of culture here, but I'd never heard of the '60s screen star until the unforgettable opening line of Yo La Tengo's "Tom Courtenay."


Hey, if Ms. Christie can be the object of Ira's desire, then she's good enough for me, too. (And she did win that Best Actress Oscar back in '65, so apparently besides being a sex kitten she's a pretty talented actress, too.)

Now maybe Yo La Tengo can write a song about the actress who did nab the coveted award, Marion Cotillard, and then I'll have heard of her, too. Ouch.

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Album Review:
Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree



Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree

(Mute Records, 2008)

Grade: 73%


Seventh Tree
is a beef Twinkie... but I'll come back to that.

Goldfrapp's newest album (out Today) is lyrically average, which I can't honestly fault it for. Like the majority of songwriters, Alison is singularly concerned with the capitalized varieties of Love, Sex, Sexy Love, and Lovely Sex. Fortunately, she has a voice that is sufficiently beautiful to distract the linguistically anal (no pun or hepatitis intended).

Alison's aural partner in profit, Will Gregory, left behind most of the dance club feel in favor of what I can only describe as retro-techno-folk-ambient. Rechno Folbient? In some songs, it's a praiseworthy success! In others, not so much... but it's worth pointing out one little tidbit. Will Gregory has two first names, and I don't approve of that sort of thing.

"Clowns" reminds me of "Strong Enough" by Sheryl Crow, except infinitely easier to listen to repeatedly. This and the last song may be my favorites from the album. "Little Bird" starts as a lullaby with some refreshingly primal imagery, including crows with mouths for eyes, then ends sounding loosely like an energetic "Meeting in the Aisles"... but with strings.

The chorus of "Happiness" sounds much like a mellower version of the end (near 2:55) of "Selling Jesus" by Skunk Anasie. That song is on the Strange Days soundtrack, along with "Overcome" by Tricky. "Overcome" is originally from the album Maxinquaye, the tour for which was Alison Goldfrapp's first big opening gig. Conspiracy theorists beware.

I've been hard on them, but the first three tracks of Seventh Tree are phenomenally uplifting. They manage to convey that brand of dance music happiness without sounding at all like dance music. Enjoy the feeling, because when Alison's trailing, "Love, real love..." closes "Happiness," you've reached the beef.

Don't get me wrong, beef is good for you. But do you really want beef in your Twinkie? Don't answer that.

I just can't get into the salty center of Seventh Tree. "Road to Somewhere," "Eat Yourself," and "Some People" all feel like slow-dance songs from prom. They get a resounding "meh" from these lips. Let's get to the other side of that flaky yellow snack cake!

"A&E" is a fitting transition layer, and an interesting music video, as long as you don't have a phobia of anthropomorphized plant life. There's a theme in Goldfrapp's music videos. Alison is usually the center of attention, surrounded by dehumanized man-things. Strange.

The strings in "Cologne Cerrone Houdini" are what set it apart, but they seem forced. None-the-less, a good string section serves to embolden the heart and engorge the member. Or maybe I just like orchestral soundtracks a bit too much.

"Caravan Girl" is good, clean gypsy girl-power fun.

It's a close contest between "Clowns" and "Monster Love" for best song of this album. I refuse to decide a winner, but if you pit Seventh Tree's songs against each other in a cock fight, "Monster Love" would still be clucking (if only for that phat techno bass cue). Where the middle songs failed, "Monster Love" succeeds.

But don't do the slow fade out... that's lame.


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Monday, February 25, 2008

Album Reviews:
Los Campesinos!, Monade

On the surface, Los Campesinos! and Monade have little, if anything, in common, but both bands have recently released albums that I'm torn between liking and loving. Maybe listening to the album one more time while writing a quick review will settle things.



Los Campesinos! - Hold On Now, Youngster...

(Arts & Crafts, 2008)

Initial Grade: 83.2%

[mp3]"Don't Tell Me to Do the Math(s)"



Why I'm Torn
About a week ago, I was at work and browsing through my iPod for something upbeat to listen to so that I might be entertained while I performed the repetitive task of slicing meats over and over (and over and over...). It was then that I came across Hold On Now, Youngster..., and it hit me that I had completely forgot all about this album's impending release. Knowing that it might be a good idea to check it out for the sake of the blog, not to mention that last year's Sticking Fingers Into Sockets EP was an enjoyable, upbeat listen, I gave it a spin. The above score reflects my first impression, as not only did I find the songs enjoyable, but really took notice of the production. It felt like I was listening to a collaboration between The Anniversary and Broken Social Scene (Dave Newfeld handled the production duties, which should explain that.), and most of all, it succeeded in keeping me interested at work.

However, subsequent listens leads me to believe that Youngster... might never again ascend higher than "good" status, which I think can be directly linked to the songs all sounding very much alike. Even during my initial listen I could tell that there was little variation on the record, but at the time it did not bother me. Well, that was then, I suppose. Don't get me wrong, the songs are all good, some are great, but its hard to stay focused and keep my attention when each song sounds so much alike.

Final Verdict: 74.4%
Hold On Now, Youngster... is far from a bad record, and there are a few songs, specifically "My Year In Lists" and "Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks," that keep calling me back, begging me to reconsider, but I can't fool myself into thinking Youngster... is an (almost) great album any longer either. Thought the music is upbeat, its at times a bit boring due to the same-samey nature of the songs. However, in the right situations - at a party, at work - this album could very well prove more useful and enjoyable.

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Monade - Monstre Cosmic

(Too Pure; 2008)

Initial Grade: 81.8%

[mp3]"Regarde"


Why I'm Torn

I like to fancy myself as a big Stereolab fan. I'm far from a crazed, obsessed fanatic, but I own most of their albums, have my favorites, and listen to those particular albums frequently. So it was with great anticipation when the folks at Too Pure were kind enough to send me Monade's latest album, Cosmic Monstre. You see, Monade is Lætitia Sadier's (of Stereolab, uh, fame?) other project. What started in 2003 as a way to release her bedroom recordings has grown into a full band, one that is now three albums into their career. I put the album on my iTunes and listened to it immediately. My initial impression about two minutes into the album was, this sounds just like Stereolab. Then I got high.


Instantly, it was like a portal opened in my brain, and rather than listening to the songs on my computer, it was like the songs were downloaded into my head, playing through hidden speakers that lie somewhere inside my brain. Over the course of the next 50 minutes I let Monade take me on a cosmic journey, and listened as they played some of the most space-age sounding lounge/jazz music I've ever heard. It was pretty awesome, to say the least.

So why am I torn? Well, I'm not really torn about how I feel about it; I love it. What I was unsure of was whether or not this album was really that good, or was I just so overjoyed to hear something as close to a great Stereolab album as this that I became a little overzealous?
In an early draft of this review I even went as far as to state something to the effect of, "Monstre Cosmic is probably the closest we'll ever come to hearing a classic Stereolab album," and in some aspects I still feel this is true. I mean, who knows what Stereolab's up to these days, and even if they did release a new record, which Stereolab would show up? The one that made classic records like Emperor Tomato Ketchup and Dots and Loops, or the one that's responsible for releasing their most recent albums, some of the most hit-and-miss works in the Stereolab canon. Because I wanted this review to be fair and balanced, I put off writing it for several weeks so I could let it sink in, and form a natural, unbiased opinion. I'm glad I did.

Repeated listens have revealed subtle differences - a richer guitar tone, extremely audible bass, a consistent flow throughout the album, and a tendency to push each song's boundaries, to name a few - that reveal more of a separation between Monade and Stereolab than I once thought. Sure, the genes are similar, but identical twins they are not. As a result, I no longer feel like I'm listening to the great Stereolab album that never was, I feel like I'm in love Monade's third album. I also feel like I can safely say, without any hint of overzealousness, that Monstre Cosmic is the first great record I've heard this year (or second, I fancy that new Beach House album quite a bit too, but you'll have a chance to read more about that soon enough).

Final Verdict: 87.4%
Obviously, I'm no longer torn. My early draft, now revised, would read, "Monstre Cosmic is not the closest we'll ever come to hearing a classic Stereolab album, rather it is Monade's first big step in writing their own entry into rock's history books." [Gold Sounds]

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Mixtape Monday:
File Under Drunken Mixtape by Backdrifter

Mixtape: Science - Songs about ... Science

Remember to take caution with radioactive and biohazardous materials. Here is a little mix that I've been meaning to do for awhile. It has all of my old friends on it, because I'm an unoriginal drunk bastard. Don your labcoats and strap on some latex gloves... songs dealing with chemicals, physics, astronomy, microbiology, even robots for fuck's sake! Excitement - I know I can feel it.

SonicRyan - had I any idea what "Hexenzsene" was, it would have made a fine addition I'm sure.



That's some organic chemistry for yo bitches! Wait for it. Wait for it.





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Friday, February 22, 2008

Column:
Is It Fair to Judge People Based on Their Music Taste?





By Nicole Pope




Once a semester I assign my students an analysis paper. Theoretically I could make them analyze anything: literature, abstract art, U.S. foreign policy, that year’s KU basketball team. Since it doesn’t matter what they are analyzing so much as how they are analyzing it, I ask them to write about something they are passionate about: their favorite music.

This assignment reveals far more about my students than, say, essays about the environment or smoking bans or the death of a grandparent. Suddenly I see them through a new lens: the quiet girl always hiding her Sudoku under her desk who loves Rilo Kiley, the hard-working Daddy’s girl who still listens to Daddy’s music (Lionel Ritchie), the kid in the back wearing a “Nausea” hat that isn’t really a commentary on his feelings about this class or life, but rather an advertisement for his favorite band.

It’s also the assignment with the potential to bring me closest to my students. I’ll never forget the girl who wrote an analysis of Animal Collective’s “Grass,” or the one who came to my office for help comparing Interpol’s “The Specialist” to Badly Drawn Boy’s “Everybody’s Stalkin,” or the student who compared descriptions of God in Sufjan Stevens’ “Casimir Pulaski Day” to those in Modest Mouse’s “Bukowski.” For perhaps the first time in the semester, these students and I were speaking the same language.

I’ve wondered about this connection, and whether it’s fair to bond with some people and not others based simply on music taste. Certainly others forge similarly shallow camaraderie based on films, art, politics, religion, television shows, and so on. Is it so wrong that for me at least, music is the number one barometer?

At times I feel like the characters from Wonder Boys, who scrutinize passersby and imagine their life stories: “He’s a groomer named Claudelle.” “He lives with his mother.” “He blames himself for his brother’s death.” Except I’m looking at people and guessing their music taste, like “I bet she adores Joni Mitchell,” or “He’s totally in a Slipknot tribute band,” or, “That hipster wannabe is a total Deathcab fan.”

Maybe there’s nothing wrong with this game in and of itself. But is it fair to then make assumptions about that person? I’d like to say no. That would be too superficial. That would be stereotyping. But to an extent I think it is possible, if not fair. If you believe like I do that music is an expression of one’s views on a lot of things – life, love, religion, politics, the pursuit of happiness, the status quo – then you better believe I’ll see a world’s difference between a super-Evanescence fan and a super-Animal Collective fan. (This is an extreme example, but you get the idea.)

To be fair, sometimes I am dead wrong about someone. Like the kid who I pegged as a SY/MBV fan, until he handed in his paper over chamber music. (No, not chamber pop, chamber music. Like Gregorian chants. Still, it could have been far worse.) Or the kid with the D+ average who adored Sufjan Stevens and Iron & Wine. He might not have been able to articulate why he adored them, but should that be a requirement for liking something? This time I can resoundingly say no.

My pretentious theory gets even more messed up when I think of my mother. I don’t want to just write her off, you know, even though not too long ago she did make me endure a diatribe about how Christina Aguilera was sooo much more talented than Britney Spears. Sometimes I make her mixes with safe bands I know she’ll like: Spoon, The Decemberists, Cat Power. Then she’ll call and say, “I finally listened to that CD you made me. That one kind of country-ish song has the f-word in it, but I still really liked it.” (“A History of Lovers” by Iron & Wine.) I’ll never forget the time she called me on her birthday after a couple glasses of wine and said, “I just wanted you to know. Arcade Fire. I get it now.”

So on subsequent mixes I get a little braver. And a little braver. Once I made her a mix with Sigur Ros and Sleater Kinney on it. I never did hear her thoughts on that one, though sometimes I imagine her sitting in her car listening to it. Trying to figure it out. More than likely, she’s trying to figure me out.


(Note: As much as I wish the nifty snobby graphic above were my creation, it's not. I took it from here, where incidentally you can also buy the T-shirt.)

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First Listen Friday:
Panther, Hills Like White Elephants

I don't know about you, but I'm really enjoying our First Listen Friday feature. I think its fun to see what the staff is listening to each week, hopefully you do too. After the jump, listen to some new-ish music from Panther, which Jenna selected, and Hills Like White Elephants, which I'm currently adoring.



Panther - "These Two Trees," "Take Yr Cane"
The last time I wrote about Panther I called them my, "guilty pleasure." I've decided to upgrade...now they are simply my pleasure. I never truly felt guilty for listening to them. In fact, I felt as if I might have been given a glimpse into the future of something grand. With their February 19th release of 14 Kt God and the upcoming assortment of tour dates they are likely to grab a few nods from today's most respected critics (i.e. the RangeLife staff). Tour dates include but are not limited to Oklahoma City (3/11/) and Minneapolis (3/28). -JAMM

Hills Like White Elephants - "Heart Like an Airport" [mp3]
I was perusing the internets for some 2008 albums that I may have missed and somehow stumbled upon Hills Like White Elephants. Certainly my attention was initially caught by the bands name - I'm a fan of Hemingway like most burgeoning alcoholics - even more striking, immediately even, was the band's music, which is a healthy mix of Broken Social Scene, Deerhunter, Yo La Tengo, and maybe even some Sonic Youth, early Blonde Redhead, well, you get the idea. A beautifully noisy guitar based band, but one that often fleshes their sound out with lush strings (hence the BSS comparison). Original, no. Worth a listen, yes! Especially when you consider that you can download the album on a donation basis, like In Rainbows (and like In Rainbows, I'm pretty sure free is also an option), from the band's label. But hey, if free isn't convincing enough to give 'er a shot, check out "Heart Like an Airport," I think you'll dig it.




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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spoon Makes Good On Promise

So we were a little peeved with Brit and company for bailing on their 10/3 Lawrence show (that's a Tuesday) to play Saturday Night Live. Besides, we all know it's best to see a band when you're "in the glow" with their newest album, right?

Well, as promised, Spoon has made amends by making KC their first stop on their spring tour with The Walkmen and White Rabbits (4/2 at the Uptown). And even though Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga isn't exactly dewy behind the ears anymore, I'm still eager to see the guys rock one of their finest albums to date (lest ye forget it was our sixth favorite album of 2007).

Thanks, Backdrifter, for the good news!

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

File Under: Nostalgic Music Video

"Melons." Many things come to mind when that delightful word is spoken. Breasts and cantaloupe are obvious connections but what about blind? Not many people would put the two words together but a bunch of pot smokin', psychedelic drug takin' ruffians thought it had a nice ring to it.


For your listening and viewing pleasure I present to you:
Blind Melon - No Rain




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Wayback Whensday:
Return of the 90s Alt-Rock Stars


Sifting through the Spring 2008 album release schedule, I noticed something peculiar: an inordinate number of "old" bands have albums ready to unleash on the world. Of course I expect a certain amount of these career resuscitation attempts. There just seems to be a rash of them lately. Blind Melon? Presidents of the United States? Sister Hazel? Do we really need to traverse those paths again?

Perhaps even more distresssing is the fact that all those alt-rockers I obsessed over in my teens seemed to have congregated as if to say, remember us? Why don't you listen to us anymore? I read an intriguing column recently about cleaning out your Mp3 collection and starting anew, like a rebirth of the musical soul. In the spirit of this column, I figured I'd set aside my pretensions for a minute and check out some of these new releases from old bands.

For some reason, this feels like more of a confession than anything.


R.E.M. - Accelerate (4/1)
Any time my friends and I get into the old "Is it better to burn out or to fade away?" discussion, I think of R.E.M. By the Reveal era I was pretty bored with the band (which is, incidentally, the one and only tour on which I saw them live). My decision to "give up" on the band was only furthered by snippets here and there of lackluster singles. I adore the band's early catalog, which only makes the newer tripe that much harder to stomach.

After hearing first single "Supernatural Superserious," I doubt I'll be clamoring to hear the rest of the album, though I'm happy to report the band has remembered they can rock.

Maybe Modest Mouse and The National concur, which is why they plan to open for R.E.M.'s spring tour? (Note: Aside from a 6/6 Chicago date, we Midwesterners are out of luck.)


Seven Mary Three - Day&NightDriving (2/5)
Remember these guys? There was a time I obsessed over their 1997 release Rock Crown. I still think about the closing track "Oven" sometimes: "This Kansas wheat won't break me / And another drink won't take me."

Of all the tracks I listened to on this little sojourn today, I'd say "Hammer & A Stone" has impressed me the most. Ultimately I'd say the band seems to be doing what they used to very, very, well here. If only that were enough for me.


Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid (3/17)
This technically isn't a 90s band, but they might as well be. I first heard Elbow in '02 when they opened for Pete Yorn, which is perhaps another conversation/confession altogether. I enjoyed Asleep in the Back quite a bit at the time, Cast of Thousands wasn't awful, and Backdrifter's reported that a couple tracks off Leaders of the Free World weren't too shabby. It's just with so much new music to collect and digest, why would I want to listen to something that I can at best call "not awful"?

Anyway, I just heard "Grounds for Divorce" on the band's Myspace. (Hey, isn't that a Wolf Parade song? I wonder what they're up to these days?) The track has an intriguing stomp-and-chant structure leading up to your classic Elbow croon-and-swoon moment. And repeat. And rock. And repeat. If it sounds like I'm not keeping an open mind here, I'm sorry. I just don't want to listen to this anymore.


Counting Crows - Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings (3/25)
This one should be good. Maybe this is just self-masochism, but here I am, about to discuss the Counting Crows on my beloved indie rock blog. You see there was a time when I had nearly a thousand CC tracks on my computer, including rarities and B-sides and countless live sessions. I can distinctly recall a boyfriend at the time snidely saying, "You know, there's more to music that the Counting Crows." Well, yeah. But I was a woman --or perhaps child -- obsessed.

I must say there was a spark when I first heard August and Everything After. Maybe Mr. Duritz tapped into my future love for folk, I don't know. I can't explain it away, other than the CC were undeniably a stepping stone in the evolution of my music taste -- along with Dave Matthews Band, Better Than Ezra, and a host of other 90s rockers. Believe it or not, at the time I thought the music I listened to was kind of "underground."

So here we are fifteen years after the release of August, and the Crows have a new album due out next month. The band has quite a few tracks up on its Myspace, which incidentally has had an incredible 7.7 million listens (looks like I'm not the only one guilty of a CC fetish). "You Can't Count On Me" and "1492" seemed to be trying way too hard and failed to stir much within me, though "Dreaming of Michelangelo" reminded me a bit of what I once loved about the band: intimate lyrics, stripped down acoustics. Again, this isn't what I would call mind blowing, but I could listen to the whole song, you know, without completely hating myself.


Nothing I heard today shattered my world as I know it, though I kinda feel like Rob from High Fidelity when he revisits all his old girlfriends. I had a chance to sort things out with some of my old favorite bands, to make sure there weren't any hard feelings, and perhaps more than anything, to say goodbye.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Album Review:
Atlas Sound - Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel



Atlas Sound - Let the Blind Lead...

(Kranky; 2008)

82% [GOLD SOUNDS]


"Scraping Past" [mp3]




Bradford Cox has done it again.

Last month I raved about discovering Fluorescent Grey, the 2007 EP that in many ways picks up where Cryptograms left off. You could say much the same about Cox's first full-length under the Atlas Sound banner. Let the Blind Lead is springtime Deerhunter, Cryptograms worn inside out -- airy ambience with the occasional dark streak.

Go ahead and skip the first track, “A Ghost Story.” In short, it’s a misguided opener featuring a young child’s oh-so-precocious attempt at telling, that’s right, a ghost story. Spoken word is one thing, but this is so much worse, and honestly was enough to knock down the album's score a few good points. Beyond this misfire, however, this collection of atmospheric pop songs rarely stumbles. I’ll admit a few intense listens were required to unearth the album’s intricacies – not unlike my initial experience with Cryptograms – but once more the dense soundplay has begun to give up its secrets.

Atlas Sound does a remarkable job of melding familiar sounds, both from Cox's reportoire as well as the best of his contemporaries'. "Quarantined" would fit snugly amongst Fluorescent Grey's four tracks, whereas "Winter Vacation" and "Small Horror" evince classic Deerhunter. "Cold As Ice" forges Deerhunter with self-titled-era Broken Social Scene. "Bite Marks" and other tracks could be sampling new Field for all I know, whereas the darkest track, "Scraping Past," features impressive bass evoking prime Johnny Greenwood.

Bottom line: if you like Deerhunter, you'll love Atlas Sound. Yet even if Deerhunter hasn't won you over with its brooding hallucinogenics, Atlas Sound's lighter take just might.

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Top Five Tuesday:
"What Were They Thinking?" Album Covers

A few months ago SonicRyan showed me how to copy and paste album covers into my ITunes, if you know, I cared about that sort of thing. I didn't so much then, but ever since I've learned this little trick I've been copying and pasting like a mad woman. Sure, nothing beats holding the real jewel case/record in your hands, but I'll settle for a digitized album art experience.

As we all know, the best cover art complements the feel of the album. As I sifted through my newly acquired album covers, I was astonished by how amazing so many of them truly were. For instance, "So THAT's what the covers of my 500 Stereolab albums look like," I thought. And all those right angles and squiggles and primary colors somehow made sense. Far too often, however, I came across cover art that left me scratching my head and saying, "Huh?" Today I am dedicating this Top Five list to these inexorably strange covers. Can somebody please tell me what these bands and their art designers were trying to say?


Runner-Up: Cat Power - The Greatest (2006)
I avoided this album for nearly two years because 1.) I initially thought it was a greatest hits album, and 2.) I hate hate hated the cover. This makes me think of junior high BFF heart necklaces, of lockets stuffed with pictures of ex-boyfriends, and a whole bunch of other garbage. Come on, Chan, next time just slap a picture of your big ole beautiful fake mole on the cover. Wait...




5. Spoon - Gimme Fiction (2005)
When I think of Gimme Fiction, I think of the perfect spring album for driving around with your windows down, of simplistic yet rewarding rock songs with melodi
es that stick in your head for days. I do not think of Middle Eastern women hiding their faces from view. Seriously, WTF?






4. Wilco - A Ghost Is Born (2004)
A ghost is born, huh? OK, I'll buy that. What about a cherry ghost? OK, I can buy that, too. But are you trying to tell me that when this cherry ghost is born, it arrives via EGG?







3. The New Pornographers - Challengers (2007)
Seriously, for an album that showed us the most mature New Pornos to date, this mustachioed gentleman sure takes us straight into raunchy territory. In every way imaginable, this cover is just wrong.







2. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jams (2007)
When P4K posted its "20 Worst Album Covers of 2007" feature last year, I was stunned to discover this gelatinous mess wasn't listed among the ranks of the most rank. Might the P4K staff have been so blinded by the awesomeness of their sixth best album of the year (our second best) and Noah Lennox's "single-serving friend" explanation for the album title/art that they overlooked the true horror of this album cover? Especially considering the beauty of so many of the band's previous covers? Here's one you might not have seen, from 2005's Prospect Hummer EP (on the right).



Hands down, my award for Worst/Most Bizarre Album Cover goes to:


1. Deerhoof - Milk Man (2004)

Ryan's been threatening to dress up as the milk jug from the Blur video for years now. Well, I might just one-up him with a "Milk Man" costume. Can't you just see it now? A strawberry jammed (ha) in my skull, check. Bananas lodged in my armpit and ass, check. Blood spurts, check. Camel toe, double check.

Apparently this fruity freak has attained near-cult status amongst the band and its followers, as pictures from recent Deerhoof shows reveal (from P4K).

Still, can I just say I don't get it?


Well there you have this week's Top Five list. In the future I'd like to do more about album art, maybe even a Top Five Best Album Covers?

If album art interests you, too, you should check out Sleevage.com, a pretty cool blog exclusively dedicated to the art of the album cover.

Until next time...

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Album Review:
Headlights - Some Racing Some Stopping



Headlights - Some Racing, Some Stopping

(Polyvinyl; 2008)

Grade: 79% [GOLD SOUNDS]

[mp3]"Cherry Tulips"


Just when I think I'm tired of the whole Indie Rock scene, tired of all the bullshit posturing and posing, the hype, the hyperbole, the hit and miss albums that just won't go away, epic songs, the word "epic" describing nearly every song that's over 6 minutes, and overwrought album reviews that have more semi-colons than references to the actual music, an album like Some Racing, Some Stopping comes along and reminds me of the simple pleasures that only a good pop song can offer.


When you get right down to it, Some Racing is bound to be overlooked and underrated. It's not as if it jumps up and down, screaming "Ooh, ooh, over here! Listen to me!" Yet, the unassuming nature of this album is part of the charm, because it will positively suck you in without you even knowing. Songs that might initially evoke Belle & Sebastian or Camera Obscura take subtle shifts and make all the right moves, often building into blissful bedroom rock for bleeding hearts. Even better is the pairing of the titular track and "So Much For the Afternoon." These two tracks see the band flexing their creative muscle, proving once and for all that they have more to offer than just energetic indie pop. "Afternoon" is especially stunning, as it manages to evoke both Radiohead's excellent, slow burning, infidelity laden "House of Cards," and Broken Social Scene's swirling "Shampoo Suicide," yet Headlights make it sound uniquely their own.

Some Racing, Some Stopping may not be a revelation, but like Tapes 'N Tapes' debut or, yes, Camera Obscura's most recent release, it is unpretentious, refreshing, and enjoyable. Given the chance, this album it should keep you humming for weeks.

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Mixtape Monday:
Dirty Bars and the Occasional All Ages Show

The other day I had the 'ol iTunes on random, and out of nowhere came an Unwound song that I hadn't heard in ages, so long in fact that I did not recognize the song one bit. But the song ("Hexenzsene" from New Plastic Ideas in case you're wondering) rocked my ass in a way that my ass hadn't been rocked in quite some time, and it felt good. The distortion and dissonance hit the spot, and suddenly, as is usually the case when I hear a song for the first time in years, memories started flooding back. First came recollections of listening to Repetition in the car, which moved on to memories of road trips to see ...Trail of Dead in St. Louis, finishing my Algebra homework while listening to Hum through my headphones, drinking mochas as the coffee shop blared Sunny Day Real Estate, and so on. These bands formed a skeletal version of the mixtape you're (hopefully) about to listen to, the others came through after a series of mental connections. Some editing to the mix was done to keep it concise and to help it flow (sorry Polvo, Pavement), but overall it's every bit what I imagined: loud and abrasive, but not completely lacking in melody. Enjoy.





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Friday, February 15, 2008

Who's Excited For Some New Tapes 'n Tapes?


Me, that's who! The first available track from their sophomore album Walk it Off is called Hang Them All, and its pretty good. I know I only said pretty good, but I mean that with a lot of enthusiasm, I swear. Okay, I'll admit, the ending isn't what I hoped, but it was quite a thrill getting there. Listen, and you'll see what I mean.

Tapes 'n Tapes - "Hang Them All" [mp3]

or, if you're a real audiophile, you can get it in FLAC!


Walk it Off is available 4/8 from via XL.

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Column:
Are Solo Albums Good or Bad for the Band?





By Nicole Pope




Last year seemed to bring an exorbitant number of solo releases, from lovers Feist and Kevin Drew to Thurston Moore to Panda Bear. Ordinarily the very idea of a solo album leaves me lukewarm, yet 2007 proved if not incredible on all accounts, at least intriguing.

Why do artists record solo albums, I've wondered, and are they a sign of a healthy collaboration with a band's fellow members, or the heralding of the end?

Perhaps it's crucial to draw a distinction between solo albums that allow a musician to grow on his or her own terms, and those that seem to be merely a rehashing or watered-down version of the music performed by the full band.

I can't say enough about Panda Bear's sophomore triumph Person Pitch. Here, in my mind, is an example of an album that is so distinctly PB, it simply could not have been an Animal Collective release. Noah Lennox said, hey, I have something to say outside the scope of the band, and he made that happen. Then AC reconvened and recorded Strawberry Jams, an album that further showcases the talent Panda Bear exhibits on PP, without damaging the band's cohesiveness. A strong solo release, in Animal Collective's case, made for a stronger band.

Most solo albums, on the other hand, fail to push an artist's sound beyond that of their full-time band. Thurston Moore's Trees Outside the Academy contains a handful of impressive tracks, including the incredible "Silver Chair," yet ultimately disappoints. Why? Because as one of the major players in Sonic Youth, arguably one of the best rock bands EVER, I think we all expected so much more. The same could be said about Thom Yorke's The Eraser. This is an enjoyable record, no doubt, but was anyone else disappointed that -- both lyrically and musically -- Thom could be so normal? And don't even get me started on Stephen Malkmus.

So maybe all this proves is that the push and pull of multiple band members is critical. (Any Verve fan who's tried to listen to Richard Ashcroft's solo material can speak to this point.) Beyond simply being lackluster, though, some solo albums seem to signal trouble amongst the ranks. I've already expressed my fears about The New Pornographers, whose multi-talented members as of late seem to be pouring their best material into their individual careers. I have similar fears following the success of Feist's The Reminder. Will Broken Social Scene soon have to subsist without the talented songstress, leaving us with merely Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew? (Shudders.)

Lastly, with some solo artists I wonder, why bother? This April Colin Meloy will release a solo album. Beings that Meloy is the heart and soul of The Decemberists (penning both the music and lyrics), I'm not sure what the point of a solo album would be. If you ask me, this makes about as much sense as a Kevin Barnes or Sam Beam solo album. Am I missing something here?

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First Listen Friday:
DeVotchKa, Of Montreal, and The Helio Sequence

Friday blah blah Songs blah blah Turn it up blah blah.

My enthusiasm is there, trust me...just not my ability to find clever and thoughtful words. Just listen!








DeVotchKa - "Transliterator"

Off their upcoming album A Mad and Faithful Telling. These guys made waves after being on the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack. I'm looking forward to this release.

Of Montreal - "Jimmy"

Thanks to Femme Fatale for showing me this one. A M.I.A. cover from her latest Kala. This one is actually an old recycled song as PF explains. Groovin.

The Helio Sequence - "Can't Say No"

These guys are labelmates with Band of Horses and the vocals are telling. Recently released Keep Your Eyes Ahead has gotten a lot of attention on KEXP, the Seattle radio station that I'm completely obsessed with. Hit their live in-studio archives - you won't be disappointed.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

V Day for the One You Loathe

Seriously, if I see one more jewelry commercial advertising those "Journey of Love" necklaces set to a Vanessa Carlton soundtrack, I am gonna hurl. So Valentine's Day means little to me these days. Does that mean I'm less romantic, or more realistic? All I can think about is one of the first lines in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: "Valentine's Day. A holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap."

Speaking of realistic, here's a nice little gift for those of you who can't find that perfect message in the greeting card aisle. It's a plush doggie with a heart-shaped hole in its chest: a Heartless Bitch. Ha! You can buy one here. Of course, you could just keep the $7.95 and drown your angst with some cheap wine. Or, as I plan on doing tonight, with a Chipotle burrito. Now THAT'S romance.

In honor of this manufactured holiday, I thought I'd assemble an appropriately insensate soundtrack. My playlist might not leave you as soulless as that Vanessa Carlton song, but it might come close.

I didn't put it on here, but Radiohead's "All I Need" would make a beautiful addition to this list. "I'm an animal trapped in your hot car": tell me that isn't the sweetest line you've ever heard.



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Catching Up

Because we're all busy at Range Life, with school, work, or in some cases, both, we're just not able to cover every little thing we want to cover. I honestly don't know how other blogs do it. However, we're just as obsessed with music as we've ever been, so here's a post catching you up on shows and songs we haven't covered yet. (A post briefing you on albums we missed is in the works) I hope you've got a few minutes, 'cause this might take a while.



Shows:

There have been plenty of additions to the concert calendar to make a note of. Feist has scheduled a show in St. Louis, Man Man and Yeasayer are tag-teaming Omaha, and the Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City (yes, Iowa City) is shaping up to be a good looking, affordable music festival with Dan Deacon, Cursive, Range Life favorites Evangelicals, and Headlights. Colin Meloy is playing a solo gig in a few Midwest cities (including dear Lawrence at the gorgeous Liberty Hall), Radiohead tickets go on sale Saturday (in case you forgot), and last but certainly not least, the Breeders (you know, Kim Deal's other band) are hitting up the Bottleneck! The concert calendar is updated and ready for your browsing.

Songs (mp3's):
Ruby Suns - "Tane Mahuta"
Unlike Vampire Weekend, "Tane Mahuta," as well as all most of the Ruby Suns upcoming album Sea Lion, manages to balance pop music with African rhythms and NOT sound incredibly boring. Of course, that's just my opinion. Regardless of your stance on Vampire Weekend, this track is worth a listen. And just so you know, "Tane Mahuta" is not even one of my favorites on the album, its just the one Sub Pop wants available for free. My hands are tied, but trust me, this album (out March 4) is delicious, especially if you're a fan of Animal Collective.

Grand Archives - "Torn Blue Foam Couch"
Listen to the first two seconds, and what do you hear? Its the beginning of "Suffer for Fashion," isn't it? I swear, every time I hear the beginning of this song, I'm waiting for that fucking baby to go "la la la," and some really good glam rock. Moving on, this is the first single from the first album by Grand Archives. A lot of attention is heading the band's way mostly because this is singer/guitarist Mat Brooke's first post-Band of Horses release, but what's more important are the songs. Like the Ruby Suns, this particular track isn't my favorite off the album, but again this is Sub Pop (I'm convinced they do that on purpose) and my hands are tied. However, fans of Iron & Wine and, yes, Band of Horses, should keep an eye out for the self titled debut, which is out this coming Tuesday.

Bon Iver - "Skinny Love"
Technically, this song is far from new, as Bon Iver's debut, For Emma, Forever Ago, was self-released last fall. Since then, Bon Iver has been signed to Jagjaguwar, and this coming Tuesday the album gets a proper release. The song "Skinny Love" sounds to me like Tunde Adubimpe of TV on the Radio started a solo freak-folk project. Its damn fucking awesome, that's for sure.

Songs (stream):
Here's a smattering of 2008 songs that I'm currently digging.



Los Campesinos! - Hold on Now, Youngster is available 2/19 via Phantom Sound & Vision.
Lightspeed Champion - Falling Off the Lavender Bridge is available now via Domino.
Beck - Odelay [Deluxe Edition] is available now via Geffen.
Born Ruffians - Red Yellow & Blue is available 3/4 via Warp.
Evangelista - Hello Voyager is available 3/11 via Constellation.
American Music Club - The Golden Age is available 2/19 via Merge.
Hello, Blue Roses - The Portrait is Finished &I Have Failed to Capture Your Beauty is available now via Locust.
Atlas Sound - Let the Blind Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel is available 2/19 via Kranky.
The Whitsundays - The Whitsundays is available now via Friendly Fire.
Thao (ed: not Than) - We Brave Bee Stings and All is available now via Kill Rock Stars.
Get Well Soon - Rest Your Weary Head You Will Get Well Soon is available now as an import via City Slang.
Lykke Li - I'm Good I'm Gone is available now as an import via...you know, I'm not sure, but you can order it from Amazon for only $9.99.


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Is That a Nipple?
Fashion Break with M.I.A., SY, and More


Who showed up at the Marc Jacobs After Party... besides Lil' Kim?









M.I.A. on the turntables being gorgeous as usual.

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My favorite couple, Thurston Moore & Kim Gordon.

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Jack White's model wife, Karen Elson, on the right.

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And Debbie Harry wearing a spacesuit? And carrying a bag that I need.

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And also...have you seen M.I.A.'s new ads for Marc Jacobs? Fierce!

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All pictures from Style.com. Enjoy!

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