July 30, 2005

Goldspot - Tally of the Yes Men

In the rock industry, more emphasis is often placed on the quirkiness of the singer's voice, rather than its quality. This is just one reason why L.A.'s Goldspot is a breath of fresh air. Singer Siddhartha's honey-coated tenor is as diverse as it is piercing, changing from a folky strength reminiscent of Paul Simon, to a more filtered echo in the tradition of flower child Sean Lennon, to the same incredible heights of Muse frontman Matt Bellamy, and the vocals alone would be enough to make this album stand out. However, laid over some of the catchiest pop rock since the Strokes, played by drummer Ramy Antoun, bassist Sergio Andrade, and guitarists Derek Horst and Seth McLain, Tally of the Yes Men absolutely shines.

The farcical title of the album, inspired by Siddartha's time working in a confining cubicle in an office job, only hints at the depth beneath it. Opening track "Rewind," has been in regular rotation on KCRW DJ Nic Harcourt's show Morning Becomes Eclectic, and with good reason. It's hook-laden and xylophone-laced melody takes its cues from the best of classic New Order and the modern garage rock of the Strokes. "Friday" is Siddhartha's vocal triumph, his powerful quivering vocals building to a layered crescendo, complete with violins. "The Guard" moves toward the psychedelic tradition of the Beatles and the Flaming Lips, mixing electronic methods with a decidedly 60's sound. "It's Getting Old" would make Julian Casablancas envious, characterized by an absolutely addictive retro riff, killer drums, and Morrissey-like poignant lyrics: "It's an excuse isn't it/to be the tragic one/strung out on Paxil pills." I dare you to try to follow Saddhartha's advice to " . . . maybe try and sit this one out." More likely, you'll be dancing to this one until the wee hours of the morning.

While nearly every track is strong enough to stand alone, the album as a whole is somewhat inconsistent. The momentum of the first half is broken up by the ironically slow ballad "So Fast," on which Goldspot abandon drums and amps for an acoustic guitar. While it is beautifully sentimental, it seems out of place between the alternative strumming of "Program of the Year" and the loud, climactic "The Assistant." On "Motorcade," Goldspot find a happy middle ground between classical piano and rock guitar and drums, and it is one of the standout tracks on the album for its emotional energy. "In the Post" is a somber end to a largely upbeat album, but relaxation is welcome after such boundless displays of emotional intensity.

Click here to listen to tracks from the album
Click here to pre-order Tally of the Yes Men, to be released Aug. 23 on Union Records

Interpol World Tour

Interpol will be touring the world this summer from Japan to Mexico, spreading their new-wave punk-infused sound like a band of rock missionaries. Go to Interpol's official website for presale and general sale ticket links.

Tuesday 02 Auckland, NZ St. James Theatre
Wednesday 03 Wellington, NZ Victoria University
Saturday 13 Tokyo, JP Summersonic Festival

Monday 05 Mexico City, MX World Trade Center
Tuesday 06 Mexico City , MX World Trade Center
Wednesday 07 Guadalajara, MX Foro Alterna
Saturday 10 Kansas City, KS Uptown Theatre
Sunday 11 Denver, CO Fillmore Auditorium
Monday 12 Salt Lake City, UT Kingsbury Hall
Wednesday 14 Davis, CA Freeborn Hall
Thursday 15 San Jose, CA San Jose Civic Auditorium
Saturday 17 Peoria, AZ Peoria Sports Complex
Sunday 18 San Diego, CA SDSU Open Air Arena
Monday 19 Las Vegas, NV The Joint
Tuesday 20 Los Angeles, CA The Greek Theatre
Friday 23 Tulsa, OK Cain's Ballroom
Saturday 24 Champaign, IL Assembly Hall
Sunday 25 Ann Arbor, MI Michigan Theater
Monday 26 Cleveland, OH Agora Theatre
Wednesday 28 Toronto, ON Kool Haus
Thursday 29 Montreal, QC Metropolis
Friday 30 Portland, ME State Theatre

Click here to buy the 5-track enhanced Evil single (May 3, 2005)
Click here to buy the Evil Pt. 1 single (Jan. 4, 2005)
Click here to buy the Evil Pt. 2 single
Click here to buy Antics (Sept. 28, 2004)

July 29, 2005

Review: Thievery Corporation @ 9:30 Club 7/28

In order to see one of the most diverse groups of people gathered in one place, you only need go to a Thievery Corporation concert. All ages, ethnicities, and types of music fans gathered together at the first of three sold-out shows at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC.

The queue began at about 6:30, though the doors did not open until one hour later. However, waiting was entertaining enough, since a camera crew hired by Thievery was interviewing the DJs and their singers, as well as the waiting fans, including yours truly, for a possible DVD release some time in the future. They asked people if they had seen Thievery live before, how they would define their music, the craziest things they had seen at a show (bar people smoking a certain illegal substance), etc.

At 10:30, following another 3-hour wait with no opening act, Eric Hilton, Rob Garza and company made a triumphant return to their hometown stage, seeming at ease with the adoring crowd. In fact, they seemed a little too at ease, if you know what I mean.

I was curious to see how the DJs would fill in for the megastars who sang for tracks on The Cosmic Game, such as Perry Ferrell and Wayne Coyne. Punjabi singer Gunjan actually performed the songs she sang on the album, and stole the show with her soprano, otherworldly vocals. As always, the show featured longtime French singer Loulou and the Jamaican rastafarians known as See-I, who always know how to work the crowd into a frenzy. While Emiliana Torrini was not performing, a young Brazilian singer, Princess Carina, was her equal in style and stage presence, and her sensual performance of "Exilio (Exile)" beckoned the crowd to join her in singing "A la la la le, lo le lo le, lo le lo la la la." The only regrettable vocal performance was that of Sista Pat, who substituted for Perry Ferrell on "Revolution Solution." While her soulful style worked for "Wires and Watchtowers," it sounded much too choppy and gospel-like for an otherwise trippy song. Of course, not many could outdo Ferrell for trippy.

The climax of the show was the vision of a completely packed house drunk on the hypnotic beat and frenetic rapping of "Warning Shots," waving their hands back at the Jamaican duo and screaming "One, and it comes the two to the three!" over and over again. The memory alone is enough to draw goosebumps.

Eric and Rob mentioned that they were nervous about the homecoming, but by the end of the show the performer/audience barrier had been blurred into oblivion, when the audience overtook the stage to dance to "Coming from the Top." By the end of the show, everyone in the audience felt like they were coming home.

I recorded much of the show digitally, and then the 930 Club staff confiscated my recorder and deleted it, so if anyone could help me out by emailing me the remainder of the setlist, I would be grateful. Fortunately, I wrote down most of the songs . . .

The Cosmic Gate
Satyam Shivam Sundaram (feat. Gunjan)
Revolution Solution
Wires and Watchtowers (feat. Sista Pat)
Exilio (Exile)
The Heart's a Lonely Hunter
Focus on Sight
State of the Union
Warning Shots
The Time We Lost Our Way

Encore #1
Richest Man in Babylon
Coming from the Top

Encore #2
Marching the Hate Machines (Into the Sun)

Related articles:
Thievery Corporation July 4 BBC Session
Thievery Corporation Sold Out, Second Date Added
Thievery Corporation 9:30 Club Presale
Thievery Corporation - The Cosmic Game

July 26, 2005

Idlewild to Tour US

In support of their forthcoming fifth album, Warnings/Promises, to be released on Aug. 16, Scottish rockers Idlewild will be touring the United States. The tour showcases a new lineup, including bassist Gavin Fox and longtime touring guitarist Allan Stewart, but expect the same ambitious rock sound. Preliminary dates are as follows, and they will be confirming more dates soon:

9/6 Boston, MA Paradise
9/7 New York, NY Irving Plaza
9/9 Philadelphia, PA Theatre of Living Arts
9/10 Baltimore, MD 8x10
9/11 Washington, DC Black Cat
9/14 Atlanta, GA Smith's Olde Bar
9/15 New Orleans, LA Twiropa
9/16 Houston, TX Fat Cat's
9/17 Austin, TX The Parish
9/19 Dallas, TX Trees
9/24 Lawrence, KS Bottleneck
9/27 Denver, CO Hi-Dive
9/28 Salt Lake City, UT Shaggy's Velvet Room
9/30 Seattle, WA Neumo's
10/5 San Francisco, CA Slim's
10/7 Los Angeles, CA El Rey
10/8 San Diego, CA Casbah

July 25, 2005

Frank Black Goes Nashville with Honeycomb

Honeycomb, Frank Black's first solo album since 1996's The Cult of Ray, takes any preconceived notions of the legendary Pixies founder's indie and punk leanings, and turns them upside down. Black has gone the way of Dylan on Blonde on Blonde, seamlessly blending his native rock with blues, soul, folk and country.

The album flows like honey as the title suggests, though it includes a diverse, genre-bending group of tracks, ranging from modern alt-country flair to 50's rock with a cover of "Song of the Shrimp," originally performed by Elvis in the film Girls, Girls, Girls. Black's soulful gritty voice is at home laid over twangy guitars, and seems as though it always belonged there. "I Burn Today" is a honkeytonk jazz celebration, echoing with its lyrics the sentiments evoked by the music: "hold my heartstrings and have yourself a strum." The title track, "Honeycomb," is a stellar combination of near-falsetto vocals, light steel guitar picking, and soft piano.

Black recorded Honeycomb over a four-day period in Nashville, Tenn., with some of the most talented players in music, among them Steve Cropper, Buddy Miller, Reggie Young, and Spooner Oldham. Although the recording session was short, this album has been in the works for years, ever since Black heard Dylan's revolutionary 1966 album. "It just stuck with me, and for years," said Black, "I always wanted to do my own sort of version, Black on Blonde." And like Dylan, he has done no less than revolutionize folk and country music with his quiet, cathartic artistry. Frankly, it is enough to bring a country music cynic back to the wonder that is Nashville.

Click here to buy Honeycomb.

Cartel w/ Driving in Silence @ Club Five 7/22

Club Five's new venture into rock music, under the direction of promoter Kyle Star, is so far showing a lot of promise. For Friday night's show, the club welcomed Driving in Silence, Cartel, and The Upwelling, three talented, burgeoning rock acts with very different styles.

Driving in Silence played an acoustic show as a duo, since they have been experiencing problems with their drummer, yet the performance was made all the more emotional and powerful for the lack of background noise. Their songs were stripped down to the barest essentials, and as a result, they reached the emotional core. Archie's vocals in the last song were beautifully reminiscent of the Counting Crows' 1993 track, "Raining in Baltimore," but taken to new heights with an emo edge.

Cartel took the stage next, starting with "Fleets (MP3)," an atmospheric endeavor that begins with Doves-like pounding drums and the soft drawn-out vocals of Brian Leatherman and builds to a climax of ethereal guitar riffs. Their style is attributable to bands like Elbow, Placebo, The Cure, and New Order, an unusual group of influences for a band from Washington, DC. Brian shared vocal duties with keyboardist/guitarist Luke Mangels, whose voice gave off a deeper, choppier sound, taking the music in the retro direction of Robert Smith.

They played a few of the 5 songs released on their self-released Safety in Numbers EP, and a few new unreleased songs, including the uplifting culmination, "Safe From Harm." According to Brian, the band is writing new songs all of the time. "We're all perfectionists. We're never satisfied with what we have," he said after the show. They have certainly perfected the material they have released so far, and are being closely watched by promoters and labels from here to London.

I did not see The Upwelling perform, as I was interviewing Ed and Brian of Cartel. Read the interview here.

Interview: Cartel

Cartel, a relatively new Washington, DC five-piece, are humble yet ambitious, just what a band needs to be to make it big. And that is just what they are set to do. Ed Barnabas (drums), Mark Hemingway (guitar), Francisco Lazzaro (bass guitar), Luke Mangels (guitar, keys, vocals), and Brian Leatherman (vocals, guitar) stand out from most other DC musicians, as their sound is as far as you can get from Fugazi. Cartel is about dreamy landscapes, and melodic and layered compositions, driven by uplifting riffs and bittersweet vocals. Brian and Ed took time out after their show at Club Five to speak with me about the band's past, present and bright future.

I know you all have day jobs. Do you ever feel weird about having white collars jobs and then playing in a band at night?

Brian: I guess one thing that's kind of weird for me is when people from my work come to shows . . .

Ed: You kind of feel like you're running in two worlds, you know. Like, you have your closet, and half is your work clothes and half is your "going out" clothes. It's a little strange . . . we're getting to that point where we're going to have to start touring more. Up until this point we weren't playing a lot of concerts, and having a 9-to-5 works because it's more money than waiting tables or something and you have your evenings free and your weekends free. But it starts to become a problem. I mean, now you see why a lot of musicians have odd jobs, because now that we're going to start doing a lot of shows, its harder to get away from work. We're all trying to take it one day at a time, and make sure we don't lose our jobs or anything. But it is a little tough now because we're getting a little bit . . . I don't know the word . . .

Brian: More buzzed about.

I understand from what I've read that the band found you, Brian, through a want ad for a singer. Is that right?

B: Yeah, it was actually a Craig's List ad. I had been looking to do something, and musically I'd been playing for about seven years before I . . uh . . Oh my God, look at that rat.

[Look over and see the one of the biggest rats I've ever seen] Oh my God. That's huge!

B: Sorry about that [laughing]. I'd been playing guitar for about seven years before and I'd been looking for something more in DC rather than just playing on acoustic guitar and stuff. I came across his Craig's List ad and he listed all the references that I was into at the time . . . Doves, Elbow, Interpol. So I called them up. I wasn't actually a singer, which I found out [laughs] during rehearsals.

Why do you think you weren't a singer?

B: Well, I'd never really explored how to sing. I'd never even really ventured into singing, or thinking about singing, but they were looking for a singer and we had the right references. So I went for rehearsal and played guitar and didn't sing, 'cause I was hung over and I think . . .

E: I think that was it.

That probably helped you, actually.

B: Yeah, it worked in my favor. I really didn't feel like singing that first night.

So you had mutual influences? What kind of bands did all of you listen to?

E: I think the influence thing was the biggest reason we all found each other. The only people who knew each other were me and Luke, the keyboardist/guitar player, and we just wanted to start a band. We thought it would be hard to find . . . I mean, some of our influences are, probably the older ones are like U2, The Cure, New Order, things like that, and more current, like Coldplay, Interpol, Doves, definately Elbow. So a lot of British groups. We were just so tired of not giving it a go so we just put ads up. Luke answered an ad that Mark had, the other guitar player, and he showed up for one practice and we were sold, because he instantly plugged in and just played exactly what we wanted to hear. On the next rehearsal we had, we called Fico, who Luke met through the 9:30 [Club] forum, and he plugged in and it instantly worked. And we were like, "Wow, this is a little bit easier than we thought, so now we just need a vocalist." Fast forward a year later, and a lot of bad auditions . . . just not great . . .

B: Including mine.

E: [Laughs] I mean we were losing a little bit of hope because us four were playing without a singer for almost a year and we just couldn't find anybody. We auditioned 20-25 people and nothing worked out. Then, Brian told you what happened. But that was the main thing. In a city where a show like Interpol or something is going to be sold out, or Doves are going to be sold out, surprisingly, you won't find a lot of people who want to play stuff along those lines. We found each other and just knew that we had a good lineup.

Speaking of British music, I know you've been played on WOXY and independent radio stations, and you had a single released on Bracken Records in the UK. What radio stations are playing you there?

E: I think we're a little bit hazy [about that]. For a while there was one show called Totally Wired UK. She liked us a lot. She featured us on her top ten or something like that, and I think we got some play from XM in London. Other than that . . .

B: We don't really have a good sense of who is playing us.

E: The guy at Bracken says that we've been played, but I guess it's hard to kind of keep tabs because he lives here. So it's sort of like throwing something over a fence, you know. You just throw it over there. We got a lot of random e-mails from people from the UK . . . fans and promotion companies and some labels, so we knew that it got out there, but to this day we're not sure how people found us. We get these emails, but we never ask, "Well how did you find out?" And we always mean to, but we just figure we'll just go with it. But I knw we've got some warm response there, so that's good.

I lived in London for a year and I'm really into British music, and I think you guys would be big in the UK.

E: We're hoping. We're hoping to quit our day jobs . . . and move there [ laughing].

I've heard of bands that have more of a British sound actually transplanting themselves. Like Trespassers William, from California. I think they actually moved to London for a while and just blew up.

B: Oh wait didn't they play on Morning Becomes Eclectic? And I think the Strokes lived in the UK, and then they came over to the US.

E: A lot of bands, you know like Interpol, Strokes, made it big there first, and then struck here second, so maybe we'll fall in those lines. We'll take here or there.

So you definately want to quit your day jobs and be career musicians?

E: Absolutely.

B: I mean we're pretty focused.

E: I've been in bands before Cartel, and the weird thing is all five of us . . . not to speak ill of past band members, but everyone is really well-read, not flaky, very professional. At the same time, everyone is successful in what they do day-job-wise, but I think we set the rules in the beginning that "If we're going to do this, is everybody on board for if that time comes? Are you ready to drop [everything] and do it?" And everyone is, 100% all the way.

B: Yeah. 110%. So, the scary thing is we think it could be happening, when we've got to make that choice. And it's hard, you know, but it'll happen. It's a choice where we have our lives, you know, all of our lives. I mean, we're all set in different areas and sort of established. Then you sort of hit that tipping point of being in a band where you either get signed or you need to deprioritize the band for the sake of mortgages.

Cartel will be playing at the Black Cat with Washington Social Club and Monopoly on Fri., Aug. 5.

Click here to buy the Safety in Numbers EP (2004)
Click here to download and listen to five full tracks by Cartel

July 23, 2005

Interview: Namelessnumberheadman

"I have faith in a stupid name. Someday, culture will catch up to us." - Andrew Sallee

Regardless of what you think of their name, Namelessnumberheadman are undoubtedly one of the most innovative acts in indie music today. Their 2004 album, Your Voice Repeating, confirmed their status as staples of the Kansas City, Missouri music scene, and made waves among critics' circles across the country. Members Jason Lewis and Andrew Sallee discuss their roots and musical influences, and give us a glimpse of new recordings.

Describe the Kansas City music scene and your place in it.

Jason: The scene right now is really great. There are a lot of groups from Kansas City and nearby Lawrence, Kansas that are doing some really interesting things. A lot of talented bands we know from here (like The Golden Republic, Doris Henson, Minus Story, Ghosty and others) are signed to good labels and have been touring a lot recently, so hopefully that will bring some attention to what is happening here. It's a good time to be making music in Kansas City. As far as our place in the scene, I think that we've always felt welcome here, even when we first started out about five years ago. With all of the keyboards and everything we were using on stage I think we were obviously a little bit different, but we've always received a lot of support from other bands and people in this area.

Andrew: I agree that the scene is very exciting. The bands have unique sounds, but there seems to be a larger emphasis these days on melody and 'song' songs, as opposed to stuff that rocks. People seem to be doing very classy but interesting things with good old melody and harmony.

Since the three of you have stayed close to home, what is it about KCMO that inspires you?

J: I think that we all really enjoy (and are influenced by) living in the Midwest. It is hard to describe sometimes, but a lot of our sound and the way we try to mix acoustic and electronic elements is a result of growing up in this part of the country. Kansas City is great because there are a lot of interesting musical and artistic events happening around and you can experience these things in a more intimate setting. For example, a band like The Decemberists play a 1000 or 2000 capacity venue in New York, but here you can see them in a smaller place that holds 300. It is a bigger city with a lot to do, but not so big that you feel overwhelmed.

A: All three of us actually grew up in the same small town in Oklahoma and gradually migrated to KCMO several years ago. More and more, I really appreciate Kansas City. It is very close to the geographic center of America and there is a history of all sorts of music, art, philanthropy, and science here. The general attitude in a lot of circles is very open and unpretentious. At the same time, there is some land-locked restlessness that can be oddly inspiring, as well.

Who and what are your musical influences?

J: We all really love The Flaming Lips, and since we are from the same place as them I think it means even more to us to see them do so many good things. Other influences and bands we've been listening to a lot lately are The Beatles, Sparklehorse, Andrew Bird, DJ Shadow, Tortoise, Sufjan Stevens and many more depending on the day.

A: I heartily affirm all of Jason's picks and add Iris Dement (fromKC!), Greg Brown, Bjork, XTC, and Bela Bartok.

I understand you play around KCMO often, and have a cult following there. Do you plan to tour away from home any time soon?

J: We've done a very small amount of touring since our last album was released 9 months ago, but we'd like to do more. At this point we don't have a record label, but once the new album is finished and we get some label support we'd hope to play out of Kansas City as much as possible.

According to your post on the NNHM website in April, you are recording new material. How is the recording process going?

J: It is going well so far. We've got about five songs that are pretty close to being completely done, with another five or so in the "rough demo" stage of the process. Hopefully everything will be done in the next couple of months.

When do you expect to release new material?

J: Good question. That really all depends on the label situation. We want to release the album in a timely manner, but we also want to find a label that is a good fit for us so if we spend a few months shopping around a completed album to people we are ready to do that. Ideally,we'd have everything ready to go this fall, but we realize that with promotion and things the "official release" might not happen until next year. Or maybe we'll just release it ourselves and it could be out very soon. We're wacky that way.

A: For some reason, the other guys have voted down my idea [of] presenting the album as a boxed set of 5 seven inches with handcrafted artwork. We are currently in negotiations and hopefully things will be resolved before we record our fourth album.

How does the new material compare to Your Voice Repeating and the earlier albums?

J: You never really can tell until the album is done, but it seems like this one is a bit more mellow and more focused on melody and has shorter songs. The five songs we've just about completed are only about 16 minutes total length, which was a bit of a shock to us. We'll probably have some longer songs once it is all finished so we don't have to pull a Guided by Voices and have 27 songs on one 37 minute album.

A: We are employing some new sounds, but nothing too crazy. I have been sampling sounds from my house to throw in an occasional percussion track. Jason's favorite is all the slurpy water sounds I got from my leaky sink faucet. But seriously, so far things seem to be a bit more song focused and maybe slightly stripped down. We have done a lot of dense layers in the past and some of what we have so far is pretty stark at times.

Your sound is a very interesting blend of electronic sounds and traditional instruments. Do you use digital or analog equipment to record?

J: Our first demo was recorded on analog, but ever since then we've done digital recording on a computer. When we first made the switch to digital we were a little bit concerned, but these days we are really comfortable and enjoying all 24 tracks of digital recording at our disposal.

Any other big plans/events in the works?

J: Just finishing up the album, getting married (not to each other) and playing shows around Kansas City. We'll also be vigorously working on that whole record label thing.

A: Lots of lobbying and legal wrangling for my Campaign For Vinyl In Namelessnumberheadman.

I enjoyed Chuck's article in McSweeney's, "Bands and Musicians Whose Careers Would Be Quite Different Had They Initially Misspelled Their Own Names." How do you think the name Namelessnumberheadman has affected your career?

J: A lot of reviews about our band only have one criticism and that is the name. It is pretty long and unwieldy, but people around here seem to be used to it by now. We've contemplated changing or shortening it, but so far we've decided to stick with it until the bitter end.

A: I have faith in a stupid name. Someday, culture will catch up to us.

Where did you get the name Namelessnumberheadman?

J: It comes from a character in a rather obscure movie by Steven Soderbergh called Schizopolis. If you are ever in the mood to laugh and be confused and entertained all at once, you should watch it.

Related articles:

July 22, 2005

Sigur Ros Hollywood Bowl Presale

For all you poor people scrambling for presale tickets to Sigur Ros' gig at the historic Hollywood Bowl, you don't have to pay $3 for the password. The presale password is: klink. Buy the presale tickets here until 10PM this evening. The general sale starts tomorrow.

Related articles:
Sigur Ros North American Tour
Sigur Ros L.A. Concert and New Album

July 20, 2005

Death Cab for Cutie Makes Plans

On Aug. 30, Death Cab for Cutie will release their eagerly awaited album, Plans, on Barsuk Records. The first single will be "Soul Meets Body," and you can listen to a streaming version of the track on Death Cab's My Space website before it gets radio play in September. The band is about to go on a tour which includes performances at Lollapalooza, Street Scene, and Austin City Limits.

The track list to Plans has just been announced:

1. marching bands of manhattan
2. soul meets body
3. summer skin
4. different names for the same thing
5. i will follow you into the dark
6. your heart is an empty room
7. someday you will be loved
8. crooked teeth
9. what sarah said
10. brothers on a hotel bed
11. stable song
12. talking like turnstiles (vinyl-only bonus track)

Click here to pre-order Plans

July 18, 2005

2005 Music Festival Guide

Where can you be muddy, hot as hell, dehydrated, hungry, and packed like a sardine in a tin can, and still not have a care in the world? At a music festival! And even though Coachella, T in the Park, Live 8, Glastonbury, and the Intonation Music Festival have passed, there are still plenty of opportunities to attend gatherings of all the greatest bands of 2005. Here is a list of the biggest and best music festivals around the US and the UK:

Jul. 23-24 Lollapalooza (Chicago, IL):
A larger-than-life festival for a cosmopolitan city. More than 60 bands on 5 stages, including The Pixies, Weezer, The Killers, Primus, Dinosaur Jr., Arcade Fire, Cake, Dashboard Confessional, Death Cab for Cutie, Spoon, Blonde Redhead, . . . And You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead, The Bravery, The Dandy Warhols, Kasabian, Kaiser Chiefs, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, and . . . I have run out of breath.

Virgin Mega Store Promo ($100)
2-Day Pass ($115)
Single-Day Passes ($60)

Jul. 30 Street Scene (San Diego, CA):
When it comes to rock, the west-coast will not be outdone. San Diego's 2005 Street Scene festival features The Killers, The White Stripes, Social Distortion, Black Eyed Peas, Garbage, Flogging Molly, Kasabian, Hot Hot Heat, and The (International) Noise Conspiracy, The Pixies, Dashboard Confessional, The Used, and Death Cab for Cutie.

Click here to buy tickets:
VIP ($300)
2-day ($85)
Single-day ($55)

Aug. 20-21 V Festival (Staffordshire, England):
For those music fans across the pond, stop by the Virgin Music Festival for four stages full of the best in British and international music, including the Scissor Sisters, Franz Ferdinand, Embrace, Athlete, Thirteen Senses, Oasis, The Zutons, The Prodigy, The Hives, The Ordinary Boys, The Chemical Brothers, Doves, Kaiser Chiefs, The Bravery, Ian Brown, Jem, Robert Plant, Polyphonic Spree, and Emiliana Torrini. Click here for ticket info.

Aug. 26-28 The Carling Weekend: Reading and Leeds (England):
After V Festival, if you're not completely exhausted and broke, head on over to Reading for The Pixies, The Killers (do they ever rest?), Queens of the Stone Age, The Coral, Elbow, Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Razorlight, The Charlatans (UK), Roots Manuva, Kasabian, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The final day is filled with heavy metal and punk, including Iron Maiden, Marilyn Manson, Iggy & The Stooges, Bloc Party, and The Futureheads. Weekend tickets are sold out, but you can still find day tickets here.

Aug. 27 Creamfields (Merseyside, England):
When you get your third wind, boogie on down to this fabulous UK dance festival that features all the biggest names in techno and electronic music. The lineup so far includes Bassment Jaxx, Faithless, Paul Van Dyk, Paul Oakenfold, Fatboy Slim, Timo Maas, Rob Da Bank, and more. Reserve tickets here.

Sept. 23-25 Austin City Limits (Austin, TX):
Nothing is small in Texas, and that goes for the festivals as well. One of the premier locations for fostering new music, Austin City Limits brings us absolutely everyone who was important to music this year, including Coldplay, Oasis, Wilco, Thievery Corporation, Arcade Fire, Death Cab for Cutie, Bloc Party, Kasabian, Keane, Doves, Rilo Kiley, The Decemberists, The Bravery, Eisley, The Fiery Furnaces, and countless others.

Tickets on sale here:
3-day passes ($105)
1-day pass ($45)

Oct. 14-17 Xingolati (Carnival Paradise Cruise):
Last but not least, consider the bizarre festival masquerading as a round-trip Pacific cruise from Long Beach, CA to Ensenada, Mexico. The Flaming Lips headline, and other artists include G. Love, Medeski Martin and Wood, and John Popper Project. Tickets include the price of your cabin, and range from $599 to $2,299.

Enjoy the festival season, and remember, you're never to old to rock 'n' roll, but you might just end up in the medical tent.

This story was posted to Blogcritics, and was selected as a Music Editor Pick of the Week

July 16, 2005

Six Feet Under: Everything Ends, Music from the HBO Original Series - Vol. 2.

On Jun. 28, Astralwerks released the second soundtrack to the addictively bizarre HBO series, Six Feet Under. The quality of the show is reinforced by their choice of eclectic music about life and death.

Although I am not partial to compilations in general, Jem, Interpol, Caesars, and The Arcade Fire recorded exclusive tracks for the show that can only be found on this album. Phoenix's upbeat Cake-like rock tune "Everything is Everything" and Caesars' energetic cover of the classic Blue Oyster Cult track "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" alone make the album worthwhile. The track list is:

1. Nina Simone- "Feeling Good"
2. Jem- "Amazing Life" *
3. Phoenix- "Everything is Everything" (listen)
4. Coldplay - "A Rush of Blood to the Head"
5. Sia- "Breathe Me"
6. Radiohead- "Lucky"
7. Irma Thomas- "Time is on My Side"
8. Bebel Gilberto- "Aganju (The Latin Project Remix edit)"
9. Interpol - "Direction" *
10. Caesars- "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" (listen) *
11. Death Cab For Cutie- "Transatlanticism"
12. The Arcade Fire - "Cold Wind" *
13. Imogen Heap - "Lonely Little Petunia"

* Exclusively written and recorded for Six Feet Under

Click here to buy Everything Ends

July 14, 2005

Sitali - I Am A Tree

Native New Yorker Sitali can finally enjoy the fruits of his labor. After months of recording here in Washington, DC, he celebrated the release of his first album, I Am A Tree, at ESL on Jul. 7. Inspired by the music, it was by all accounts a rockin' good time.

The album represents a cross-section of various rock stylings, including roots rock, classic rock, folk rock, and blues. Sitali's clear, straightforward vocals counteract some of the heavier guitar to make for light, feel-good listening. The music's focus is always with the singer, but Sitali's backup crew compliments his pure songwriting techniques. Bassist and vocalist Jean-Francis Varre, and drummer and producer John Lane surround Sitali's voice with simple yet powerful sound.

The music is somewhat understated, so it may not grab you at first, but Sitali's lyrical rhythm soon gets under your skin. I Am A Tree may refer to the "roots" rock that built the album, or the fact that the music slowly and steadily takes root in your subconscious.

MP3 Clips:
Black Star
Brother Your Life

Click here to buy I Am A Tree

July 10, 2005

Wolf Parade EP

Fans of Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire will love Wolf Parade, the newest import from Montreal, Canada. In fact, Isaac Brock helped produce some of their new 4-track EP, and Wolf Parade's guitarist/vocalist Dan Boeckner and drummer Arlen Thompson have played with the Arcade Fire. "You Are A Runner, And I Am My Father's Son" (MP3) off of their forthcoming EP, Wolf Parade, released Jul. 12, hints at a promising full-length album, Apologies to the Queen Mary, due out in October. Boeckner's distinctly powerful voice lends a wonderfully random yet controlled aspect to the haphazard stripped-down drums and guitar. The music is refreshingly simple, and makes you want to twitch the night away.

Click here to buy Wolf Parade

Kinski - Alpine Static

Don't expect rock instrumentalists Kinski to be easy listening for the over-thirties. Their new album Alpine Static, released Jul. 12 on Sup Pop, may begin with a near-classical intro backed by the sounds of nature, but it soon gives way to driving heavy metal guitars.

Lucy Atkinson, Chris Martin, Matthew Reid-Schwartz, and Barrett Wilke use jamming techniques that make for some energetic, creative moments. Occasionally, though, they seem to forget themselves and get stuck in a hook. The end of the first track, "Hot Stenographer," has an unmistakable broken-record effect.

The compositions themselves are complicated and layered once the music has gelled, but the transition between Kinski's more ethereal and heavy sounds are a bit too abrupt. As soon as you become comfortable with the music, for better or for worse, you will be jarred from the stupor by loud screeching and banging guitars. I found myself waiting for the spaces in between, when otherworldly sounds and understated strumming would bring me back to that relaxed state. The fact that the album ends with the same subdued notes on which it began makes me believe this was all intentional.

Overall, tight and powerful drumming, well-placed guitars, epic avant-garde experimentalism, and unusual instrumental combinations ("The Wives of Artie Shaw" (MP3) boasts a flute solo), make the album worth a listen. Stream the entire album here.

Click here to buy Alpine Static

July 09, 2005

The Flaming Lips - "Mr. Ambulance Driver"

The Flaming Lips' as yet unreleased song, "Mr. Ambulance Driver," will be part of the soundtrack to the quirky comedy Wedding Crashers, released Jul. 12, 2005.

Although it is not their best work (a little bit too off-key, too repetitive, and too dependent on the sparse Casio beat), it is perhaps on par with the cheesiness of the movie. Judge for yourself:

"Mr. Ambulance Driver" (Windows Media)

"Mr. Ambulance Driver" (Quicktime)

Click here to pre-order the Wedding Crashers soundtrack, which also features music from Death Cab For Cutie, Bloc Party, Spoon, and Rilo Kiley.

Related articles:
The Flaming Lips Fill the 'VOID' with Videos
The Flaming Lips Announce Live Shows

July 08, 2005

Sigur Ros North American Tour

Pre-sale tickets are now on sale for all North American tour dates. You can purchase these tickets on www.klink.is. According to the Sigur Ros Newsletter, these tickets are for the best possible seats that each venue is able to allocate for pre-sales. The pre-sale tickets for Avalon in L.A. sold out in less than one minute, so act fast, but if you don't get pre-sale tickets, you'll still be able to get general sale tickets on ticketmaster. General sale tickets to the Atlanta and Vancouver shows begin this Saturday, Jul. 9, with tickets to more gigs following next week.

The dates so far include:
8/11 Avalon Hollywood Hollywood, CA Find Tickets
Symphony Hall Atlanta Atlanta, GA More Info
9/20 Michigan Theater Ann Arbor, MI More Info
9/23 Orpheum Theatre Madison, WI More Info
State Theatre Minneapolis, MN More Info
9/27 Orpheum Theatre Vancouver, BC More Info
9/28 Paramount Theatre Seattle, WA More Info
10/05 Hollywood Bowl Hollywood, CA More Info

Related articles:
Sigur Ros L.A. Concert and New Album

July 07, 2005

Sigur Ros L.A. Concert and New Album

Sigur Ros Play Kings of the Mountain Posted by Picasa

Sigur Ros have added a low-key intimate Los Angeles concert to the first leg of their upcoming world tour. This gig will be ideal for those Californians who would like to avoid the vastness of the Hollywood Bowl, where Sigur Ros will be playing in L.A. in October. Following the Hawaii concert, the band will head to Hollywood for a concert in the Avalon on Aug. 11.

Pre-sale tickets go on sale today, Thur. Jul. 7, on Ticketmaster. These tickets are otherwise only available to Sigur Ros mailing list and message board members exclusively. The password which you will need to provide in order to purchase tickets is: alafoss. Pre-sale tickets for the Aug. 11 Los Angeles concert can be purchased here.

On this tour, the band will be promoting their still-untitled album, which they have finished recording, mixing and mastering, and which is due for release in September. There are 11 tracks on the album, amounting to 65 minutes of music. Nine of these songs have never been heard before, "Gong" and "Milano" being the only familiar songs. "Salka" and other new songs were recorded but will not be featured on this release.

Click here to buy Von (2004)
Click here to buy ( ) (2002)
Click here to buy Agaetis Byrjun (2001)

Related articles:
Sigur Ros North American Tour

July 06, 2005

The Flaming Lips Fill the 'VOID' with Videos

Yoshimi Posted by Picasa

Yesterday, The Flaming Lips announced that they will release VOID, or Video Overview In Deceleration, on Aug. 23, 2005. The 19-track DVD will feature videos spanning their entire career, from their 1994 breakthough hit, "She Don't Use Jelly," to 1999's spellbinding "Waiting for a Superman" from The Soft Bulletin, to "Mr. Ambulance Driver," the Grammy-nominated endeavor from their eagerly awaited new album, At War With the Mystics, set to be released in the spring of 2006.

The entire track list is as follows:

Mr. Ambulance Driver
SpongeBob And Patrick Confront The Psychic Wall Of Energy
Fight Test
Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
Do You Realize? (UK Version)
Race For The Prize
Waiting For A Superman
This Here Giraffe
When You Smile
Bad Days
Christmas At The Zoo
Be My Head
She Don't Use Jelly
Turn It On
Talkin' Bout The Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues (Everyone Wants To Live Forever)
Phoebe Battles The Pink Robots
Are You A Hypnotist??
Do You Realize? (US Version)

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The Flaming Lips Announce Live Shows

July 05, 2005

Thievery Corporation July 4 BBC Session

Mirror Conspiracy Posted by Picasa

For the US Independence Day, Thievery Corporation celebrated with the Brits. The DJs recorded an exclusive BBC session at Maida Vale in London and you can hear the entire half-hour set here in Real Audio.

In other news, Thievery's second show at the 930 Club in Washington, DC has sold out, and a record third night has been added. They will now be comandeering the club from Thurs. to Sat., Aug. 28-30.

Related articles:
Thievery Corporation Sold Out, Second Date Added
Thievery Corporation 930 Club Presale
Thievery Corporation - The Cosmic Game

Lemon Jelly - '64-'95

Released Jan. 25, 2005 on XL Posted by Picasa

Lemon Jelly introduces their third LP, '64-'95 with a sticker on the outside of the packaging that says, "This is our new album. It's not like our old album." This straightforward, slapstick statement rings true, as Nick Franglen and Fred Deakin expand their horizons to embrace more diverse samples and new genres.

The duo has broken the barriers of ambient Air-like compositions and Beta Band-ish beats, to include hypnotic UK hip-hop and arena rock chords. The intro makes reference to the prior albums with a spoken intro surrounded by bird calls, and then segways into the startling break beats of "'68 aka Only Time," reminiscent of the rock-laden techno of the Chemical Brothers. "'93 aka Don't Stop Now" begins with a single breathy voice and builds slowly to a dizzying crescendo of Punjabi hip-hop. The first single, released in the UK on Jul. 11, "'95 aka Make Things Right," laces ambient noises with female R&B vocals. Click here to listen to a full album stream courtesy of Beggars Group, USA.

'64-'95 still makes use of the same surprising mixes; lullabies and disco, soft rock and electronic (for the best example of this, find b-side "Soft" from Nice Weather for Ducks off of 2002's Lost Horizons, which used an addictive sample of Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now"). "'76 aka The Slow Train" blends London disco and modern electronic elements to arrive at a creative locale visited by artists like Etienne de Crecy and the Cleptomaniacs, and might be found on a dance compilation. Lemon Jelly could hardly avoid comparison to their contemporaries because of their endless blend of musical styles and samples, however, they always manage to the push the creative boundaries of electronic music.

Click here to buy '64-'95 (2005)
Click here to buy Lost Horizons (2002)
Click here to buy LemonJelly.KY (2001)

July 03, 2005

930 F Street

On May 30, 1980, music history was made with the opening of the 930 Club in the Atlantis building. Post-punk jazz Lounge Lizards and local new wave band Tiny Desk Unit headlined the opening show, then located at the downtown address that gave it its name, 930 F Street, NW. Since then, the club has moved locations and has become one of the top ticket-selling venues in the country, but local filmmakers Tarik Dahir and Jeff Gaul have set out to pay tribute to the club's roots.

At 87 minutes long, the documentary details the original 930 Club's role in fostering punk, new wave, reggae and roots rock, "alternative" genres that more established clubs were slow to recognize. Original owner Dody DiSanto operated the club and booked innovative acts such as Clutch, Minor Threat, Fugazi, and R.E.M. with the help of promoters like the now famed I.M.P. (It's My Party), to whom she sold the club in 1986.

Dahir and Gaul tell the story of the 930 Club through interviews with the artists, promoters, and staff who made up the vibrant subculture surrounding it. They spoke with over two dozen people, including Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat/Embrace/Fugazi/Dischord), HR of Bad Brains, Peter Buck of R.E.M. (which played the club 18 times), and members of Rollins Band, Clutch, Lucy Brown, Beefeater, and other less well-known local artists who were just as important to the club's artistic direction, such as Hurwitz and Heinecke.

MacKaye discusses the importance of the 930 Club to the straight-edge movement, which took its name from one of his songs. In MacKaye's own words, the straight-edge philosophy was simple: "don't drink/don't smoke/don't do drugs." The straight-edgers wore black X's on their hands, signifying that they were not there to drink; they were there to hear the music. Simultaneously, the 930 Club became one of the first venues in the country to provide concerts open to all ages.

One segment is devoted to discussing the venue's pungent stench, which was universally known by the interviewees, but largely undetermined. However, one of the staff members reveals that she led an odor specialist around the building, and he determined that the smell was a combination of tobacco, sweat, cleaner, and rat urine. This revelation leads to a discussion of the club's infamous rat infestation, which marked the demise of the old Atlantic building.

The film is an honest portrayal of the people who experienced the club, in all its glory and shame. It is a memorial to legendary graphic designer Mark Holmes, who created the gritty and haphazard promotional art that carried over into the new club at 815 V Street, NW. It commemorates the fans, the artists, and all of the people who made it happen, but even more so, the unique spirit of the venue.

930 F Street debuted at the SilverDocs Festival in Silver Spring, Md. on Jun. 19. Dahir and Gaul are currently searching for a distribution deal.

Click here to buy Dance of Days:Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital (Paperback)
Click here to buy 20 Years of Dischord, the 2002 boxed set featuring songs by Embrace, Fugazi, Minor Threat and more

This article was also posted to Blogcritics, and was selected as a Pick of the Week by Music Editor Temple Stark.

July 01, 2005

DVD: Low in Europe

Released on DVD this week, Low in Europe is an enlightening documentary about a band that paved the way for indie music. The film, directed by Sebastian Schrade, follows Low through live dates in Germany and the UK, as they promoted the album Trust in 2002. It highlights their shows in Berlin and Dresden, and culminates at the Union Chapel in London, an unusual but fitting venue, where the band played to a crowd of more than 1,000 people.

Clips of live performances are broken up by the artists' personal diaries, including spiritual beliefs, musical insights, and often profound commentary. Zak Sally provides the introduction to the film by distinguishing Low from the rest. "The music world can be a really disgusting place, and it's predicated on a lot of things that I just have no interest in, you know, the notion of like, being cool or being a really messed up drug addict . . . these sort of facile trappings of the music industry that are sold to people."

Low's marginal position carries over into their music, which could be described as pretty or dark, but which defies description. Sally explains that this technique is deliberate. '"The things that we may be trying to get at are not as distinguishable as "it's very pretty" or "it's very ugly" or "it's very slow." You can point to all those things and say, "oh, this is what this band is," but I think what it actually is lies somewhere in between all those things, or maybe at the point where those things butt up against each other."'

The track list is as follows:

(That's How You Sing) Amazing Grace
John Prine
Laser Beam
Take the Long Way Around the Sea
Last Snowstorm of the Year
Time is the Diamond
Little Argument With Myself
I am the Lamb
Speaking in Tongues

Click here to buy Low in Europe

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