i'm just as boring as everyone else

Holy crap.

JRDN & I may have to race down to Chicago for this one. You in, Mouk?

In the past, I have debated back & forth (scroll down) about whether or not The Killers are full of sh** or not, but now I may have finally picked a side. Frontman Brandon Flowers talking to MTV (via GvB & Stereogum):
Look at a band like the Bravery. They're signed because we're a band [...] I've heard rumors about [members of] that band being in a different kind of band, and how do you defend that? If you say, "My heart really belongs to what I'm doing now," but you used to be in a ska band. I can see the Strokes play or Franz Ferdinand play and it's real, and I haven't gotten that from the Bravery. I think people will see through them.

Pot kettle black. Flowers (if that is your real name), you are a tool. Ugh.

ETA: The Bravery (who I could care less about) respond at Stereogum.

MP3 Howard Hello - "Giving Up"
I stumbled across this track (possibly via 3hive) about a year ago, and it's become one of my favorite mp3 blog finds. Howard Hello is a collaboration between Kenseth Thibideau (Tarentel, Rumah Sakit, Pinback) and Marty Anderson (Okay, Lazarus, Dilute) that "centers its focus on the blissful, linear contrasts between mood-defining ambient music and genre-bending pop perfection." That description properly describes this song, from 2003's Don't Drink His Blood LP. "Giving Up" blends its layered electronic ambience with gorgeous & slow-burning pop melodies to create a lovely blissed-out experience. Acousticwoodlands also posted this track back in December.

MP3 Howard Hello - "More of the Same"
While browsing around totally fuzzy, I stumbled into a new, forthcoming Howard Hello EP that will drop on May 3rd via Temporary Residence. This beautiful & appropriately-titled song leads off the four track EP, and its themes are even revisited during the final track, "Even More of the Same." It begins with some Asian speak that I'm too ignorant to identify, but promply shifts into familiar Howard Hello electro-pop/showgaze territory, managing to throw in some fat 80's-style guitar licks along the way as well. It's nothing new, but it's still seven minutes well spent. FYI: This track cuts off a little suddenly, as it bleeds into the next ("Interlude"). Be sure to check out Bars & Guitars for more on Marty Anderson's Okay project.

Bloc Party @ First Avenue tonite. I'm fully prepared to completely freak out during "Positive Tension" (assuming it gets played). Watch out, y'all.

Apologies...no Waits on this Wednesday. Maybe another week.

look at you with your mind reeling

RANA bassist Andrew Southern segways through Christo & Jeanne-Claude's Gates.

It's RANA cover Friday, courtesy of Archive.org (via Tyler Penn):

MP3 RANA - "Livin' Was Easy" (The Glands)
MP3 RANA - "Girl U Want" (Devo)
MP3 RANA - "Rita Mae" (Bob Dylan)
MP3 RANA - "Birthday Boy" (Ween)
MP3 RANA - "We Will Not Be Lovers" (The Waterboys)

Recorded live at Tribeca Rock Club NYC on April 21, 2004.

RANA plays NYC tonite at the brand new Ace of Clubs, located at Great Jones & Lafayette. Two sets of oh-my-god-we-just-got-back-from-touring-rawk beginning at 10:30pm, with Heth (9pm) & Bionic Twitch (8pm).

From the horse's patoot: "ranaROCK returns to home nyc with a biff bang boom. check out how we been treated, screws tightened up, on this tour de force [...] bring some friends, get yr drink on, we'll burn yr ears."

Also, be sure to welcome RANA pals Sam Champion, fresh off SXSW, back to NYC next Tuesday (3/29) with their 9pm gig at the Mercury Lounge.

ETA: No, James Murphy. After last nite's episode of The O.C., you're the "irresponsible, selfish whore!" Nah, I'm just kidding around with ya.

Also, Sri Lankan writer Samantha Edussuriya goes back & forth debating herself about M.I.A. in the latest City Pages (via). The Mpls-based City Pages has gone all Village Voice this week with count 'em three M.I.A. articles.

listening w/loot i ain't got (pt 2)

And on to part two of my recent adventures at Mpls' Electric Fetus:

MP3 Gogol Bordello - "Strange Uncles From Abroad"
Thank god for Largehearted Boy's weekly shopping bag, or else I would have completely overlooked this week's release of Gogol Bordello's first new material since 2002, the six track (plus enhanced video) East Infection EP. I was wowed by GB (to say the least) when I saw them at the Entry back in May of last year & have since picked up their previous discs, 2000's Voi-La Intruder and 2002's Multi Kontra Culti vs. Irony. While I was intrigued to learn that Eugene Hutz & company had been recording in Chicago with legendary producer Steve Albini, I am not that impressed with his tracks thus far. The Manu Chao cover "Mala Vida" has good energy & a deep sound, but it's nothing extraordinary. Full of reverb & echo, "Copycat" sounds unlike GB's previous work, but it's not much fun. This band-produced track, however, is classic GB gypsy punk, with oddball lyrics about foreign relatives, a foot-stomping beat & plenty of danceable accordian & violin riffs to work a crowd into a frenzy. This is what I'm talking about.

MP3 Out Hud - "Dear Mr. Bush..."
While much has been made out of the introduction of sultry pop vocals to !!!-sister band Out Hud's repertoire on their new album Let Us Never Speak Of It Again, this track is eleven & a half minutes of almost wordless dancepunk grooves. It also sports the best song title of the year thus far, "Dear Mr. Bush, There Are Over 100 Words For Sh** & Only 1 For Music. F**k You, Out Hud" (but since there are practically no lyrics, don't expect any anti-neocon rhetoric). For more on Out Hud, who are bringing their esteemed live reputation to the Triple Rock in May, check out previous blog posts by Fluxblog, 20 Jazz Funk Greats, Scissorkick, Music For Robots & Silence is a Rhythm Too (FYI: some may have expired mp3 links).

bonus MP3 Daft Punk - "Robot Rock (Soulwax remix)"
Like most everybody, I have been underwhelmed by Human After All, the first new album from Daft Punk in four years (read Empty Free's gripe today). Though I didn't buy the cd on Tuesday, I was still pretty jazzed when I first heard "Robot Rock" a couple months ago, though the abbreviated three minute version is a lot more tolerable than the 4:47 album version, which just drags on way too long IMO. While it may not "rock" as hard as the original, I dig this remix from Belgian duo Soulwax because it actually has a progression instead of being endlessly repetitive, and it mixes things up sonically. For comparison's sake, and the fun of watching a "robot" play a double-guitar, here's a video of the original:

MOV Daft Punk - "Robot Rock" video (11.3mb)

Elsewhere, Tofu Hut has an absolutely monster post on Canadian star-in-the-making Leslie Feist that is a must-read. Also, Toronto 10:51am (via Torontoist) alerts me to the fact that Boom Selection has once again made the Diplo/M.I.A. mixtape Piracy Funds Terrorism available for download. Go and do likewise young padawan, and let the baile funk be with you.

More Cowbell reports that Spoon will be playing an early all-ages show at First Avenue on June 12th, before Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks take the same main room stage later that nite for a 21+ performance. Holy crap.

One week from today (3/31), Air America will celebrate its first birthday. After a rocky inaugural year on the air (or just streaming), I am still listening. To coincide with the occasion, HBO will be showing Left of the Dial, an America Undercover documentary chronicling the lefty radio network's "rise, fall & resurrection." The doc airs at 8pm ET, so set your Tivos.

Speaking of Air America (sort of), turncoat Bush backer & Majority Report pincushion Ron Silver reprised his role as political consultant Bruno Gianelli on last nite's episode of The West Wing. Appropriately enough, his character has switched sides & is working for the republicans ("on the right side of history" I suppose). Of course this doesn't come across as all that traitorous, since a pro-life, non-religious senator from California like Alan Alda's character can win the republican nomination in the bizarro world of John Wells' bastard version of The West Wing (but hey, I'm still watching).

listening w/loot i ain't got (pt 1)

So, as you probably know, yesterday was a big record release day. And yes, I went on down to the Electric Fetus & dropped a wad of cash that I really shouldn't be spending. Ugh. You think I'd feel better about picking up new music. Well, at least the clerk commented that I had good taste, which is the best compliment I've ever received (kidding). What did I buy, you ask?

A few long-awaited (and much previewed) discs demanded my attention, namely the Decemberists' Picaresque, Bloc Party's Silent Alarm, and at long last M.I.A.'s Arular. Thank god Largehearted Boy gave me the heads up on the new East Infection EP from NYC gypsy punks Gogol Bordello, or else I would have missed it entirely. Then, of course, I couldn't pass up on the new Out Hud LP Let Us Never Speak Of It Again, nor could I resist the Kaiser Chiefs' economically-priced Employment for just eight bucks. And what's this? New Caribou, in the form of the Yeti EP? And hey, what about that Scissor Sisters live dvd that I keep meaning to check out? Or that new Keren Ann album Nolita that Brooklyn Vegan has been raving about? If they had had Prefuse 73's new disc Surrounded By Silence in stock, or if I could have located the Bunky record Born To Be A Motorcycle that Clap Clap & Brooklyn Vegan have been talking up, I would have overspent even more than I did. Yes, I know that I have a problem. Multitudes, actually.

MP3 Caribou - "Yeti"
Dan Snaith, the laptop artist formerly known as Manitoba & currently known as Caribou, will be dropping his next album The Milk of Human Kindness on April 19, and this is its lead-off track. Other blogs, such as 20 Jazz Funk Greats, Music For Robots & Moebius Rex have already posted tracks from Snaith's follow-up to 2003's acclaimed Up In Flames LP (lucky dogs, with their advance copies), so I'll add to the chorus looking forward to its release. This dense bit of bedroom electro-pop strides along with a confident groove at first, before exploding into a mish-mash of thunderous drums & random instrumentation. Sensory overload, I dig it.

ETA (4/5/05): Here's an animated video for "Yeti" (via): MOV WMV RAM

MP3 The Decemberists - "On The Bus Mall"
Brooklyn Vegan profiled two of this week's most notable releases, the new Decemberists & the M.I.A. debut, both garnering best new music status from Pitchfork (personally, I think Scott Plagenhoef lowballed Maya with a 8.6). I'm not sure I agree with Stephen M. Deusner's assertion that Picaresque is less theatrical than Colin Meloy & company's previous efforts, as his claim that "the Decemberists are no longer the indie rock version of the Max Fischer Players" is slighty undercut by the Rushmore-aping video for "16 Military Wives" (downloadable via torrent, more info at the forum). I do agree, however, with Deusner's appreciation for this track:
Perhaps the best song he's written, "On the Bus Mall" is Meloy's own private Idaho full of boy gigolos amok in the city, and he evocatively contrasts their innocent affection ("Here in our hovel we fused like a family") with the grittiness of their lives: "You learned quick to make a fast buck/ In bathrooms and barrooms, on dumpsters and heirlooms/ We bit our tongues/ Sucked our lips into our lungs 'til we were falling/ Such was our calling."

How many other songwriters could pen such a lovely, imaginitive & touching song about gay hustlers struggling to get by? And with such georgeous & heartfelt instrumentation? Colin Meloy has once again proven himself a masterful storyteller, able to craft utter beauty out of bizarre & tragic tales with remarkable grace. The Decemberists make my heart heavy.

ETA: Snippets from Meloy's Jukebox Jury w/Seattle Weekly (via):

MP3 Bright Eyes - "Lua" (lo-fi)

Meloy: Who is this?

SW: Bright Eyes.

Meloy: I have one record by him that I would have traded in years ago, but I started a new thing before I bought it that I wouldn't sell any more records back. So, I bought one of his records, Fevers & Mirrors. I listened to half of two songs and put it away immediately and haven't listened to it since. His voice and his writing are just so irritating.

SW: Why do you think he's so popular?

Meloy: Because he's really hot. I mean, I think there's definitely something in this that you can relate to, but it is so easy to swallow it and imagine yourself in poor Conor Oberst's shoes. You know, everybody wants to be in that bedroom. But it does seem a little shallow and emotionally and creatively corrupt.

SW: When he played in Portland last month, he came out in a 10-year-old's raincoat, and when he got excited, he clapped like a hand puppet.

Meloy: They call it indie autism, and he's the poster child for it. Seriously, can we stop this?


Neutral Milk Hotel: "King of Carrot Flowers Pt. One"

Meloy: Get out of my house [laughs].

I second Frank Chromewaves' call for "a pox on whoever stole The Decemberists' gear," fwiw. I actually debated whether or not to post this song, seeing as there's already plenty of Decemeberists to go around at the moment. Turquoise Days & Each Note Secure both checked in with posts yesterday, and You Ain't No Picasso pointed me to a fantastic interview (post-robbery) & in-studio performance from Seattle's KEXP last week.

bonus MP3 Bloc Party - "Pioneers (M83 remix)"
For those of you who might prefer staring at your shoes rather than moving your feet, here's a somber remix of Bloc Party's "Pioneers" by Anthony Gonzalez, aka French electro-shoegazer outfit M83. Gone are the danceable beats, replaced by a slow orchestral build-up of sound & plenty of echoing effects to compliment frontman Kele Okerere's plaintive vocals. I am the zen master. This is a bonus track on the Japanese version of Silent Alarm.

To be continued...

we don't need to dream no more

This is best news I've heard in quite a while. Via 1115.org. Yes, yes, yes.

everybody's singing along, come on

Yes, it's more erratic posting from yours truly! I started this post over the weekend, but have been slacking off on finishing it all week. Here it is.

While I haven't paid much attention to college basketball this year, I always have much love for The Tournament, especially the opening weekend. So many games, you can't possibly watch 'em all. It's my favorite sporting event & the hometown Gophs play today. I didn't see much of yesterday's coverage, as I've been too preoccupied with this recap to watch.

As previewed last Wednesday, I took in back-to-back multi-band bills at the Triple Rock last week & it was good times. On Wednesday (3/9), Rachel & I rolled down to the Triple Rock around 10pm & got a primo parking spot (my fortuitous parking karma would later come back to haunt me).

After a drink in the bar, we went next door to the venue & were both very impressed with local upstarts Melodious Owl, who went on first. Hailing from my ol' GV hood, these kids put on a great show, mixing new wave & post-punk & doing it way better than The Fever. The drummerless trio worked the early crowd nicely, with vocalist Wes Statler doing his best manic Pelle Almqvist imitation (but selling it nicely), guitarist Joe Berns laying down danceable guitar riffs & keyboardist/saxophonist Jon Kuder providing Minnesota's answer to Gabe Andruzzi. While Melodious Owl could come off as faux-hipster, they seemed pretty earnest & friendly, so I didn't get that vibe. Wes said they are working on a new album (to follow up on their basement recorded Transition EP), and I'll definitely be on the lookout for that come May/June. It's apparently being produced by local rocker Mark Mallman, who Melodious Owl will be supporting at a couple Triple Rock shows later this month (3/25). David de Young also has a few words about the band's performance over at the How Was The Show blog.

After Melodious Owl's suprisingly entertaining performance, Seattle-based Aqueduct was a bit of a letdown, IMO. Their brand of likeable synth-pop just wasn't clicking with me, and their white boy covers of "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" and "99 Problems" seemed kinda like cheap ploys to connect with the audience, who were appreciative. The band seemed to be having a good enough time, as frontman Matt Nader (who Rachel thought look a bit like Andrew McCarthy, though I didn't see it) was full of smiles all nite. Much like their I Sold Gold LP, Aqueduct were good but nothing special.

Fellow sons & daughters of Seattle United State of Electronica took the stage after midnite to a moderate-sized midweek crowd, but those of us in attendance came poised to get down. After keyboardist Noah Star Weaver soundchecked his vocoder with a little "Robot Rock", U.S.E. took the stage full force, launched into "Open Your Eyes" & got everybody moving. Their high energy set included plenty of songs from their self-titled LP, including "Emerald City", "Climb The Walls", "Takin' It All The Way" & "There's Always Music", as well as a number of other (new?) tunes that I didn't recognize. For the set closer "IT IS ON!", the band pulled a whole gang of people (including Rachel & I) on stage with them to dance & sing along, and it got pretty crowded up there. As you can see, Rachel got her hands on a tammy & went right to work. Despite my desire for a "Night Shift" > "La Discoteca" encore, a bunch of other people were quite vocal in their request for "Vamos a la Playa" (wishful thinking in a chilly Mpls), and that's what we got. While U.S.E. may not have exactly lived up to my lofty expectations as the ultimate party band (lagging behind The New Deal & Gogol Bordello IMO), they were still an absolute blast. For more U.S.E. goodness, check out their MySpace page or stream tracks from a 2003 performance at Seattle's KEXP.

Wes Holmes has another review of the nite over at HWTS.

Thursday (3/10) brought me back to the Triple Rock. While Friday's sold-out bill featured Visqueen & The Reputation, I was interested to see the first nite's line-up, which included Detroit punks Thunderbirds Are Now!. I've got the band's spaz-rock debut album Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief, but the track or two I'd heard from their follow-up Justamustache (out March 22 on French Kiss), and the buzz surrounding it, suggested a big stylistic progression on their sophomore effort. And I wanted to see/hear for myself.

While preserving the manic energy of their earlier work, Thunderbirds Are Now! have moved toward synth-heavy new wave & the overdone dancepunk thing, but have done so successfully without coming off too redundant. Sure, they sound a bit like labelmates Les Savy Fav, but in a good way (see yesterday's Pitchfork review or this recent profile).

MP3 Thunderbirds Are Now! - "198090 (Aquatic Cupid's)"
As Jay Good Times Roll (scroll down) & Uncle whatevs were kind enough to remind me of, Pitchfork's Sam Ubl gave this track four & a half stars back in early February. So I'll let the "professional" do the talking:
When that prefab Casio dance beat kicks in you'll wonder, "Who are these guys trying to fool"? But then comes the sideswiping swinging tremolo guitar line, and eventually you realize that French Kiss' latest have popped the lid off of a lightning-in-a-bottle post-punk anthem. Mercurial and unhinged, Thunderbirds Are Now! are what Les Savy Fav might sound like dressed up as the Futureheads, and "198090 (Aquatic's Cupid)" is their best song.

The sheer energy is alluring enough, but this Detroit quintet knows how to bang out a solid chorus/chorus/chorus structure, crafting new hooks at every turn through subtle permutations. By my count, there are seven distinct sections. Only two of them repeat because the rest really don't have to; they come doused in syrup and like to roll around in feathers. So, Unicorns, move over: Here's finally a band with the decency to learn how to play their instruments before nixing pop convention.

Thunderbirds Are Now!'s frenetic tone carries over nicely to their live peformance, which makes for an intense, body-shaking post-punk show. Keyboardist Scott Allen is particularly a flamboyant rock showman, strutting & banging & leaping all over the place throughout the set. Just wind him up & watch him go. For more on TAN!, check out their bio over at 230 Publicity, and pick up an old EP track from yesterday's 20 Jazz Funk Greats.

bonus MP3 Thunderbirds Are Now! - "From: Skulls" (via)

Next up was Baltimore's the Oranges Band, who played a decent set of rock that didn't engage me all that much, although Craig Finn joined them for a song on vocals which was fun. But it was only prelude to the rock that was about to be dropped on us by the main event, The Hold Steady. After hitting the Andrew Bird show earlier that nite, JRDN thankfully made it to the Triple Rock before Finn & company took the stage a little after midnite. They opened up with a semi-ode to Edina MN entitled "Hornets! Hornets!", the lead-off track from their forthcoming sophomore release Separation Sunday. A whole bunch of new tunes from the new album (due out May 3rd), many of which reference Craig Finn's formative years here in Mpls (lyrics at the band's website). Of course, Finn was unsuprisingly talkative throughout the set, as these Mpls shows are like homecoming events, despite the fact that he & the rest of the band are now based in Brooklyn, NY. Between songs, he spoke a lot about the rock/hardcore scene he grew up with, including meeting the guys from Dillinger Four (who own the Triple Rock) & his years w/Lifter Puller, dedicating a song to underappreciated locals Soul Asylum & their ailing bassist Karl Mueller. Finn also talked about the multitude of "scenes" in NYC, dissing on the hipster discopunks for trying to "teach the indie rock kids to dance again" (I don't know if he was referring to Keith & his new Bloggie specifically) while introducing "Most People Are DJs". The band closed the main set with a few more songs from Almost Killed Me, and encored with "Positive Jam" and "Barfruit Blues" to cap off a kick-ass show. I happily picked up a sweet Aesthetic Apparatus poster on the way out, but returned to my car to find a parking ticket. Ugh. Damn parking karma.

Dinosaur in Trouble also reports on the Hold Steady's first nite in Mpls.

And then I did nothing all last weekend. But on Monday (3/14), I went to the 400 Bar, where I met up with JRDN & Jim B from HWTS (look out for his forthcoming review) for a nite of Canadian indie pop goodness.

It was a truly pleasant, albeit kinda mellow, evening of Broken Social Scene offshoots, starting with guitarist Andrew Whiteman's avant-pop group Apostle of Hustle. Though he was without the gorgeous atmospheric production work of Dave Newfeld that made Folkloric Feel such a delight, Whiteman has been able to nicely transition his AoH songs into the live arena. While getting a hand from some of his fellow BSS/Stars crew on a few tunes (Evan Cranley on trombone for example) helps round out the band's sound, the addition of keyboardist/percussionist/vocalist/flamenco dancer Ilse Gudino to AoH really gives their performance a broader sense of theatricality, a more dense musical output, and a necessary shot of estrogen. I was very impressed by how it all managed to come together.

MP3 Apostle of Hustle - "Dark Is What I Want/Strutters' Ball"
Here's another standout track from Folkloric Feel that has grown on me over time. It opens with some thunderous beats & a big fat guitar riff, then settles into a calm, subtle shuffle underneath Whiteman's hushed vocals during the verses before going loud again. It's all very groovy, even during the cluttered & noisy "Strutters' Ball" outro. Whiteman displayed some notable guitarwork at the 400 bar & I get a little sense of that here.

Next up was Stars, who I was also seeing for the first time. Their latest album, Set Yourself on Fire, had finally been released here in the U.S. the previous week after having been out for months in Stars' native Canada. Their set featured a lot of material from the new disc, though they also played a number of songs from 2003's Heart as well as 2001's Nightsongs.

MP3 Stars - "Reunion"
Chatty frontman Torquil Campbell said that most of Stars' songs were about "f**king", though I'm not sure that applies here, since this tune seems to be more about high school nostalgia & suburban regret. Then again, I suppose Torq's earnest pleas for "one more chance to be young & wild & free" could also be about sex. When the band launched into "Reunion" at the 400 Bar, I saw Jim B with a wide smile on his mug, much like mine.

My only real gripe with the Stars' performance was that it was kinda difficult to hear Amy Milan's soft & lovely voice through the mix at times, especially during epic songs like "Elevator Love Letter" & "Ageless Beauty". Otherwise, it was a great set of saccarhine-but-not-too-saccharine pop melodies, with only a brief polemic pit-stop during the dark "He Lied About Death" (though I laughed out loud at the "I hope your drunken daughters are gay!" line) that was later brightened by the requested "What The Snowman Learned About Love" encore. I just hope they made it safely down to SXSW.

MP3 Stars - "Soft Revolution"
The merch table at the show had a red hoodie for sale that read "Soft Revolution" across the chest, which I might have bought if it had some Stars artwork or something on the back. But it didn't. Anyway, I love the hurried immediacy of this song, which feels very cinematic to me for some reason. It's like being hurled or propelled forward until the explosive, wordless chorus blasts in (luv those horns) & sends me hurling off a cliff, the rush of it all washing over me. Then the dust settles, and I land as the song ends on a quiet note. I like that this song takes me on a journey.

Not enough pretty pictures to look at? Not to worry. Brooklyn Vegan and Kathryn Yu both have more photos from Stars' 3/8 show at NYC's Mercury Lounge, and Chromewaves has some Stars & AoH pix from last year.

You can stream recent in-studio performances & interviews (by DJ Mary Lucia) w/The Hold Steady, Andrew Bird, Apostle of Hustle, Stars & many others at 89.3FM The Current's audio archive. It's some good sh**, yo.

a few more random notes

In case you missed it, Pitchfork has a lengthy interview with talk of the town M.I.A. by Mark Pytlik, and Carl Wilson checks in with his thoughtful commentary as well. Arular drops this coming Tuesday, March 22nd.

Also out on Tuesday is Picaresque, the latest from The Decemberists. As has been widely reported, frontman Colin Meloy & company unfortunately had their trailer & gear stolen after the second date of a hefty tour to support the new album. If anybody out in the pacific northwest has any info on the perps, please contact Colin & alert the Portland (Oregon) police ASAP.

Annie's debut LP Anniemal finally gets a stateside release on May 24th. Info Leafblower points to a Guardian UK interview w/the Swedish popstress.

Finally, listen to Matt Fluxblog inform the masses about the mp3 blog phenomenon from Wednesday's NPR (around the 16 minute mark).

Whew! That was a long post. No wonder it took all friggin' week to write.

slept right through the year i've grown

The Big Ticket turns one year old today. Celebrate good times, c'mon.

Apologies for taking so long to get this post together. So anyway, I did a search for "birthday" in my iTunes & here are a few tunes that popped up:

MP3 Altered Images - "Happy Birthday (12" mix)"
First off, let me say that I have had a pretty good time messing around on this blog over the past year. I've gradually improved my html ninja skills along the way, though I'm still too much of a novice to leave Blogger behind (it helps that it's free). I've written (and linked to) a lot of stuff that I like, or find interesting/noteworthy/amusing, including lots of posts about Tom Waits, Arrested Development, Ted Leo, november's election & Air America, Garden State & Eternal Sunshine, and even more posts about my favorite sons of Jersey, RANA. I've written about a lot of great music (IMO, anyway), and putting together my Mix '04 last December was a nice way to recap the previous year. I've appreciated all the feedback I've gotten from the nutjobs who (for whatever reason) tend to frequent this site, and I encourage more of you to jump in with a comment if you feel so inclined. I likey.

I don't know where I found his track, from the Glasgow-based 80's band Altered Images, but it's my jump-around-and-kick-yo-feets-happy-happy-birthday song, and a seven minute extended 12" dance version at that. It's a bonus track off the 2004 reissue of the band's 1981 debut LP, also titled Happy Birthday. Doesn't it just make you all giddy & smiley?

MP3 Andrew Bird - "The Birthday Song"
Of course, for every ying there is a yang. Or something like that. Anyhoo, the fact that this blog has been in operation for 365 days now also has a downside. Now that I've been blogging for a full year, I have to face the fact that I have been blogging for a full year. And not doing much else. Ugh. Still in the same old rut, flittering my life away here in Mpls, only it's an entire year later & I still have very little show for it. But I do have 200+ blog posts showing what I've been wasting my time on instead of, you know, doing something with myself. Is this blog just one big masterbatory exercise? Does my blogging do anything besides distract from things of substance?

Blah blah blah. As you may or may not know, I've used this blog to vent my frustrations & wallow in depressive bullsh** from time to time, as I've just done yet again. Whatever, it's my blog & I can do whatever I want with it.

Anyway, so this is a more melacholy birthday song to go along with those sentiments. "The Birthday Song" is the final track on The Mysterious Production of Eggs, the latest album from Andrew Bird, who performed here in Mpls at the Loring Pasta Bar (though it was scheduled for the Varsity Theater, thanks to More Cowbell for the heads up) on Thursday nite. I didn't attend, but JRDN did (more on that later). Here are the lyrics:
when i wake up in the morning
I pour the coffee, read the paper
then I slowly & so softly
do the dishes, feed the fishes
sing me Happy Birthday
sing it like it's going to be your last day
like its hallelujah
don't just let it pass on through ya
it's a giant among clichés
and that's why I want you to sing it anyway
sing me Happy Birthday
'cause hell what's it all about, anyway
sing me Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
like it's gonna be your last day, here on earth

It seems to be a somber rumination on the somewhat trivial everyday activities we all do over & over, and how something that breaks up the monotony like a birthday can be a trivial & clichéd event, but yet still be meaningful. After all, if we can't step back & take joy out of something special, then "hell, what's it all about, anyway?" It's not my last day yet.

MP3 Junior Boys - "Birthday (Manitoba mix)"
So, I used to pride myself on being really good about keeping track of people's birthdays. I figured it was the least I could do, and even if I've been out of touch with somebody for a while, it's always nice to hear from people on your birthday. Well, I've been doing a real piss poor job of doing this over the past several months, and I can't help but feel guilty about it. I've been a lousy (so-called) friend. So I'd like to extend sincere apologies to Dan, Eric, Zidel, Abby, Emily, Juhi, Carrie, Andy K, Andy H, Seth, Jess B, Roni, Bami, Inbal, Marshall, Nolfi, Mimi, Jim B & Javitch, as well as a deep apology to anybody I forgot to mention. I hope your birthdays were happy.

Silence is a Rhythm Too originally posted this track last Halloween, but I thought I'd re-post it for this occasion. It's off the bonus disc from Junior Boys' stateside release of 2004's Last Exit LP. This remix comes courtesy of Dan Snaith, aka Caribou (formerly known as Manitoba), who will be heading out on tour with fellow Canadian bedroom lap-poppers The Russian Futurists & Junior Boys beginning in April. Michael from SIART wrote:

"The original is a lush synth pop song that reminds me a bit of The Postal Service - it's the melancholy melody. Caribou keeps the song's beauty of a hook and grimes up everything around it. The beats pound harder, there's static-y scratchy noises, and some cool windchime bells.

Given the song's regretful lyrics about missing birthdays, I thought it fit.

MP3 Jens Lekman - "Are Birthdays Happy?"
Lastly, here's a fairly pessimistic birthday tune from Sweden folk-popper Jens Lekman, from Secretly Canadian's collection of rare Lekman work, the department of forgotten songs. Jens says, "This is probably a very old song. I really try to be an optimist these days, though it's got a beat and a nice sampled horn section so you can dance to it." He's spot on about the beat & the sampled horn, as well as the semi-morbid sentiment. Heck, even I'm not that negative. Well, I try not to be. How do y'all think that's going?

This post got kinda depressing by the end, huh? Whoops. Perhaps next year (assuming I'm still keeping up with it) will bring a happier blog birthday.

hot soft spots on a hard rock planet

MOV Frank Miller's Sin City - Trailer #2 (27.4mb)

Another flick I'm really, really looking forward to is Robert Rodriguez's adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novels, the stylish & star-studded Sin City. While this new trailer may not be quite as intriguing as the previous teaser, it's still pretty damn cool. April 1st can't come soon enough.

ETA (3/17/05): Apple also has the new trailer, and in multiple sizes.

Becky (Alexis Bledel of Gilmore Girls) has quite possibly the bluest eyes ever.

MP3 United State of Electronica - "Night Shift"
My pal Rachel & I should be getting down at the Triple Rock tonite to the twee-electro-pop grooves of the unfortunately-named Seattle party band United State of Electronica (w/support from Aqueduct & locals Melodious Owl). As is often the case, I was turned on to U.S.E. by Matt Fluxblog, who has raved about them on four separate occasions. So I'm expecting a very good time for my seven dollars. This track, off last year's self-titled debut, is more low-key than the rest of the fairly joyous album, featuring some odd tongue-in-cheek (?) rapping about working late nite security from drummer Jon e. Rock along with plaintive, vocoder-filtered vocals from keyboardist Noah Star Weaver at the chorus. But what keeps me coming back to this song are the sultry female harmonies from Amanda Okonek & Carly Jean Nicklaus, particularly the repeated "Night shift baby, night shift darling" verse toward the end that just begs for audience participation (check this MOV poorly shot video [10.7mb] as evidence). For more U.S.E. goodness, stop by See You in the Pit, an excellent mp3 blog dedicated to artists performing at this year's South By Southwest festival in Austin, TX.

MP3 The Hold Steady - "Most People Are DJs"
Tomorrow nite, I will be venturing back to the Triple Rock w/JRDN (who will also be hitting Andrew Bird at the Varsity beforehand) to catch Brooklyn's (by way of Mpls) The Hold Steady on their first show of a two nite run (Friday's show is sold out, btw). It's been nearly a year since I saw them last, right around the time their outstanding debut album Almost Killed Me dropped. Former Lifter Puller frontman Craig Finn certainly has a way with words, and I'm particularly fond of some of the lyrics in this song:
I was a teenage ice machine
I kept it cool in coolers & I drank until I dreamed
When I dreamed, I always dreamed about the scene
All these kids look like little lambs looking up at me
I was a Twin Cities trash bin, I did everything they'd give me
I'd jam it into my system
She got me cornered in by kitchen, I said I'll do anything but listen
To some weird talking chick who just can't understand
That we're hot soft spots on a hard rock planet

Baby take off your beret
Everyone's a critic & most people are DJs
And everything gets played


A thousand kids will fall in love in all these clubs tonight
A thousand other kids will end up gushing blood tonight
Two thousand kids won't get all that much sleep tonight
Two thousand kids they still feel pretty sweet tonight
Yeah, I still feel pretty sweet

I just love Finn's wonderfully verbose take on the indie rock scene, not to mention all the wannabe critics & DJs among us mp3 bloggers. The Hold Steady are apparently also heading down to SXSW, since there's also a post for them over at SYITP. The band's sophomore album, Separation Sunday, drops May 3rd on French Kiss. BTW: This song ends suddenly during its lengthy guitar solo, as it goes directly into the next song on the disc.

MP3 Tom Waits - "Big Black Mariah"
It's Wednesday, so this is Tom Waits. From 1985's Rain Dogs. Enjoy.

Clap Clap has a pretty amazing, albeit lengthy & kinda technical, post that thoroughly breaks down Maya Arulpragasam's self-titled hidden track "M.I.A. (Pop)" from the forthcoming Arular LP (and Zoilus likes what he reads). In case you missed it, Arular will be in stores on March 22nd, just a month later than originally scheduled, according to Pitchfork and Billboard.

There have been a couple updates to Monday's post, if you're interested.

no, a seal didn't bite my linus off

After a two week absence, last nite we got a hilarious double dose of TV's best comedy, Arrested Development. Guest spots included Amy Poehler reprising her role as G.O.B.'s unnamed wife, the lovely Christine Taylor as Sally Sitwell, Mr. Show vets Jay Johnston & Jerry Minor as a pair of adoptive gay cops, the return of Julia Louis-Dreyfus as scheming Maggie Lizer (ass off), and of course the brilliant Henry Winkler as spankin' Barry Zuckercorn (he's very good). And who could have predicted what happened to Buster? Holy crap! How could anybody possibly cancel such sheer genius?

ATTN Boston folk: Drop by Bill's Bar tonite to catch a free performance by RANA as part of a showcase for TVT Records (w/headliners The Blue Van). RANA goes on at 7:30pm ET sharp, so don't be late. RANA will also be hitting the road with Brooklyn's Sam Champion later this week, dropping the rawk on Philadephia (3/9), Cleveland (3/11), Columbus, OH (3/12), Evansville (3/13), Memphis (3/14), Fayetteville, AK (3/15) and Charlottesville, VA (3/24). If they're comin' to your town, don't miss out.

ETA (3/8/05): My apologies to anybody who showed up on time to Bill's Bar in Boston last nite & sat through several crappy bands. Apparently the RANA boys had some van trouble & went on last (around 11pm), if at all.

Update: Matt has a %@$!&! recap of the band's unfortunate voyage.

MP3 RANA - "Replacements" (Live @ Tribeca Rock Club 2/3/05)
RANA just finished laying down tracks for an upcoming EP at Sound of Music in Richmond, and I hope that this new tune was among them. Inspired by the 'Mats & barrowing a riff from guru Chris Harford, "Replacements" was first heard as a sparse Garageband demo on keyboardist Matt "Durant" Trowbridge's blog back in January. Now it's been given full band treatment, and I am just gaga over the results. Durant takes an optimistic view of growing up, looking forward to being taken more seriously as an adult, while still remaining wistful about youth, name-checking RANA pals Jersey Dan & Johnny (Beach, I assume) along the way. And it's damn catchy, too.

MP3 RANA - "Anton" (Live @ Tribeca Rock Club 2/3/05)
This slow-burner is another song that debuted as one of Durant's blog demos. It was written during a "blue" period Matt experienced after seeing DiG! last year. I saw the film around the same time, and also felt an odd kinda melancholy after watching Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman Anton Newcombe hem & haw & freak out & fall apart, over & over & over. I just found it so sad. The filled-out RANA version of "Anton" is full of strained emotions & "Cortez The Killer" style guitar work, and I think it captures some of Newcombe's desperate madness. Both of these tracks are from a gigantic two set RANA event at NYC's Tribeca Rock Club on February 3rd of this year, the full recording of which is available at Rockslide.

I know it's been already blogged about plenty elsewhere, but I'd still like to echo Pregnant Without Intercourse's frustration & disappointment with the closing down of CBC Radio 3. I only found the Canadian online music magazine a couple months ago, and I was immediately impressed by its dynamic design, beautiful photography, wonderful in-studio performances & insightful writing. I'll be truly sorry to see it go. FWIW, PWI's Fat Citizen has drafted an open letter to CBC president Robert Rabinovitch.

ETA (3/9/05): Carl Wilson chimes in with his thoughts on the matter.

Lastly, Kathryn Yu has the right idea. She's offering ten bucks for anybody with a recording of Ted Leo's live cover of Kelly Clarkson's Since U Been Gone that he's been doing on some of the Pharmacists' west coast tour dates. I don't know if I'd actually offer money, but I'm dying to hear it just the same. If only Ted had bothered to record it during the recent Sharkbite Sessions he did for Apple (heads up via ILB), we wouldn't have to beg.

ETA (3/9/05): Stereogum saves the day! Watch the video over at UGO.

MP3 Ted Leo - "Since U Been Gone/Maps" (courtesy Kathryn Yu)

Here is a Stereogum MP3 mirror & there are more songs @ Timorous Me. Oh look, Music For Robots has got it too. The t-shirt fits great, btw guys.

i know, man, the way that it looks

Howdy, folks.

It's been damn near two weeks since my last post, and I apologize for my extended absence. Last week, I simply had next to nothing to write about. Everybody else had it covered, and I was kinda tapped out. I was planning to write something up after the weekend, but I must have been in my head too much because I never followed through. Mid-week, I ran into some hard drive difficulties, so unfortunately much too much time was spent w/Norton & DiskWarrior. And then I just got lazy. I'll try to make up for it, I guess.

I know this is way belated, but here goes anyway. I considered "live-blogging" last Sunday's Oscars, but decided against it since I really didn't care that much about them. So I tuned in & out during the evening, preferring to watch the lastest episode of HBO's Carnivàle (which is finally getting interesting, btw) than listen to Beyoncé sing song after song. Chris Rock's opening monologue was notably biting (true, Colin Farrell is no replacement for Russell Crowe), and I liked how it took the always pompous & self-important ceremony down a few notches (relax, Spicoli), though it did seem a bit out of place. Rock's movie theater interviews with people who preferred White Chicks and The Chronicles of Riddick to the show's nominees was undoubtably the best part of the whole affair. Of course, the worst was the Academy's unfortunate & borderline-offensive decision to give out awards in the aisles & balconies. What an honor, to be acknowledged for all your hard work while half of the audience has their backs to you. Ugh.

The fairly dull telecast did have some bright moments, with Cate Blanchett looking absolutely stunning acccepting her award for best supporting actress, Prince looking particularly dapper giving out the award for best song (yeah, right), and Kate Winslet being genuinely surprised & elated when Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry deservedly won best original screenplay for Eternal Sunshine. Thank god it won something.

Did anyone else find it odd that going out the the first commercial break, the orchestra played the theme from TNG? And does anybody think that Robin Williams is funny anymore? Isn't he just monumentally annoying?

we are not so complicated

MP3 Munk - "Kick Out The Chairs (Who Made Who remix)"
I got this remix off the excellent Sumosonic 35, the latest compilation from Heavy (who also has a blog I just found out about). Munk is comprised of Italian-born Mathias Modica & native German Jonas Imbery, the two dudes behind the Munich-based Gomma label, though they are assisted on this track by James Murphy & Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem. I've had the original (and more DFA-sounding) version of this track, from the 2004 Aperitivo LP, since last August when 20 Jazz Funk Greats posted it, but I hadn't given it proper attention until the last month or so. Others are taking notice of "Kick Out The Chairs" as well, with Music For Robots posting it recently and its inclusion in the latest fantastic Pop77 mix. This Who Made Who remix, available on 12" vinyl from Juno, has a decidely more old school funk sound with a thick bass groove, while still featuring Murphy's screechingly nasal vocals & Whang's deadpan mutha-F-bomb dropping.

MOV Munk - "Kick Out The Chairs" video (17.4mb)

I found this video, which is wall-to-wall hipster chicks buggin' out at various locales to the song's original mix, through the essential videos.antville.org.

MP3 The Legends - "Call It Ours"
Here's another lovely bit of fuzzed out pop from The Legends, a nine member outfit from Sweden who are Labrador labelmates with the like-minded (and just as Swedish) Radio Dept. "Call It Ours" is the leadoff track from last year's Up Against The Legends album, and is two and a half minutes of lo-fi nostalgic indie pop bliss. You can stream the video for the song via WMV or RAM. For more on The Legends, read up on the album reviews at Pitchfork, Stylus, Pop Matters & Delusions of Adequacy.

MOV The Legends - "There & Back Again" video (20.6mb)

Here's another video from The Legends for "There & Back Again", also off the Up Against The Legends LP. Hmm...the Legends, the Concretes, the Radio Dept...what are they putting in the Swedish water? Could they breeding lo-fi pop collectives in a bizarre bid for world domination? Possibly.

MP3 Spoon - "I Turn My Camera On"
It's no big surprise that the new Spoon record Gimme Fiction, which I mentioned previously, sprung a leak before its May 10th release on Merge (May 9th outside of North America on Matador). No matter, since I'll still be picking it up the day it comes out, but I don't mind giving it a healthy preview. Also no big surprise, it's pretty great. Spoon albums tend to improve upon repeated listening, and it has been doing so nicely thus far. A couple days ago, I was waiting around while picking my parents up at the airport, and this strut/nod-inducing track had me seriously getting down in my parked car, looking quite the fool I'm sure. Britt Daniel sports a nifty falsetto over a methodical, driving beat that simply puts a grin on my face.

straight cash, homey!

While I'm making up for lost time, I might as well weigh in on a few things that I've neglected of late. First off, the boneheaded trade of star wideout Randy Moss. How dumb can you get? You don't trade arguably the best receiver in football, unless you somehow coax another team into a Herschel Walker-level trade. But make no mistake, Randy Moss is no Herschel Walker, and you just know he's gonna make the Vikes pay for dealing him. Was he a distraction? Sure, but I doubt it was the main cause of the team's inevitable failings. Hey, Terrell Owens was a loose canon too. Who's happier, Super Bowl runner-up Philly or 2-14 Frisco? So long, Randy. I'm sure you'll do Oakland & the Raider nation proud. Holy crap, the Vikings are annoying.

On another Minnesota note, More Cowbell tipped me off to the website re-design for legendary local rock club First Avenue. Spiffy. Nice job, Lev.

Speaking of local shows, I have been blowing off quite a few shows in recent days, and I'm not proud of myself. I did manage to make it out to last week's Kings of Convenience show at the Fine Line, though it sucked that JRDN couldn't join me due to hockey responsibilities. Eirik wasn't feeling well, but the show went on nonetheless. Erlend was in fine form, covering Pavement's "Range Life" & crowd-surfing during the "I'd Rather Dance With You" encore. Erlend & Eirik both also seemed to enjoy the fact that many in the audience knew their native tongue Norwegian, and they had some fun with that. I was unable to snap any pretty pictures, it being a packed house & me being far away up on the balcony & all. Still, it was a good time.

I know it's been blogged about at nauseum, but I thought I'd briefly share my impressions of the new MOV WMV RAM "Love & Death" video from from Canadian rockers The Stills. Hey, anything that stars Metric's Emily Haines will get my attention. I can't help myself. I cannot stop pondering why she has staplers humping each other. Or am I just reading too much into that? C'mon, look how she licks that envelope. I dunno, but it's damn sexy when she pushes those two office chairs together. Weird, no?

While I'm on the subject of the ladies of Broken Social Scene, over the weekend Chromewaves (via For the 'records') pointed out the re-design over at Feist's official website. The silhouetted "Almost Crimes" video rules.

Using a video-related segueway, Ending East (scroll down to 2/25/05) found the advance info on the upcoming Criterion dvd set for The Life Aquatic w/Steve Zissou. Despite my somewhat lukewarm feelings about the film, I'm a huge Wes Anderson - so I'll probably be picking it up. Ending East also points to the MOV teaser trailer (15.7mb) for director Richard Linklater's animated adaptation of Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly. I've started re-reading the book again in anticipation of the film's release later this year.

ETA (3/5/05): Yahoo has the ASD teaser as well (via 15 Minutes To Live):

MOV A Scanner Darkly - teaser trailer (hi-res) @ Yahoo! (10.8mb)

tonite we celebrate the ninja new year

I hearty welcome back for Sean from Said The Gramophone. We missed you dearly pal, though Jordan has done an admirable job filling in.

And my congrats to the dudes from The Lonely Island, who just can't seem to get their Channel 101 juggernaut The 'Bu cancelled, despite a fine (lack of?) effort this month. Good luck on that pilot presentation, guys!

BTW: I also picked up the new dvd for I ♥ Huckabees last weekend. I think I like it a lot more after seeing it again, and I suspect it does well upon repeated viewings. I'm still mulling it over. More on that later, perhaps.