Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I swear I've written the introduction to this post about five different times over the past few weeks, but whenever I'm near the end, it keeps growing until the intro is totally irrelevant. Yeah, this one's been a loooong time in the making, and it could be a long time in the reading.
Going to cover a fair amount of musical ground here, and I'll spend the first bit on some friends & acquaintances...
The Essex Green's new album, "Cannibal Sea", came out a bunch of weeks back on Merge, and it's another hook-filled gem. Chris, Jeff, Sasha, & friends have improved upon 2003's "The Long Goodbye" by a catchy, country-tinged mile. And I liked that one lots, too. The production's so good, Jeff's stand-out guitar-licks so perfectly placed, Chris & Sasha's layered harmonies just fantastic... their voices have never sounded better together. I'm listening to it as I write this, and it's an ideal Sunday morning soundtrack...
They finished a little German jaunt last month, cruising the Autobahn with the Shout Out Louds, and now they're in the middle of a three week stateside stretch. I'm a bit bummed they're skipping Boston this time, especially since I'm so much more familiar with the new songs they played us last time around, but lots of you will get the chance to see 'em.
If you missed it, check out a high-falutin' feature story over at MSNBC, a recent EG post at You Ain't No Picasso, and another at Villains Always Blink. See some YouTube footage of their SxSW visit, some shared Flickr photos, and recent radio sessions for Minnesota Public Radio, where they performed three songs from the new disc, and NPR, who played a couple album tracks. (Speaking of the radio, I've been hearing the leadoff track from Cannibal Sea, 'This Isn't Farm Life', on Sirius Radio's Left of Center channel quite a bit lately.)
For a little history lesson, head over to Latitude 44.2N. They've got a couple of chapters of exploration into the Green's past, starting with one about Guppyboy (the best band to come outta Burlington, VT), and another about the Green themselves.
Long as we're talking about my old home state, it was nice to see Neil Cleary's name in a post title over at False 45th a little while back. Neil is responsible for one of my favorite Burlington-spawned pop albums, 1997's "Made To Feel", under the moniker of Stupid Club. Many, many good songs on that sucker, and you'd can still grab it here.
Could we really be nearing the release of the long lost My Own Sweet studio sessions? I've been in possession of roughly-mixed mp3s for ages, but I'd love to hear 'em higher-fi. For now, let's be content that they've actually got a myspace page. You can hear a few songs there, and many more have been mixed 'n mastered. Good news all around.
Tim Lauben (a member of My Own Sweet, Huffy, and most recently, The Red & The Black), has also jumped on myspace, and he's sharing up some of his solo stuff. I'm a longtime fan of his songs, so I'm glad he's doing that.
Too many years went by without my old friend and bandmate Shawn F. having any recordings to show off, but his latest outfit, the Burlington, VT-based Fire the Cannons! has a few from last year's demo up at myspace. Shawn & singer/guitarist Marie have found a new drummer since those songs were put down, and I'm hoping they record again soon; a couple live songs from their TTs show a few months back have really stuck with me.
And even though Shawn's not on their recordings (yet), he should be psyched to also be playing bass in a band called The Hero Cycle. False 45th tipped me to them a few weeks ago, and I was more than immediately impressed by the three songs they've got at (where else?) myspace, especially 'Breathing In'. I'll have to find out if the (at least) 7-piece project is planning on recording again soon, but until then, these songs will stay solidly in my playlist.
Another old friend sharing new music via myspace is Sean L., recording under the name seanpaultragedy. Four songs to either stream or download, including a new-ish acoustic one.
It's been a couple years since Jay Cox left both his old band (The Ivory Coast), and his old home (the East Coast) behind, settling in Seattle and putting together a project-turned-band called The Sea Navy. Jay's in the studio finishing up some new songs, working with drummer Andrew Rudd (ex-Aqueduct) and Mr. TW Walsh, who's adding bass, keys, and also sitting behind the board. While we wait to hear that new stuff, grab some mp3s from the first album, 'Breathing in the Old World', on the Sea Navy songs page, and read a recent Sea Navy post over at rbally.
Speaking of TW Walsh, the ex-Pedro the Lion & Headphones guy is readying a new EP under the name The Soft Drugs. Titled 'The Soft Drugs in Moderation', it was made with the help of some familiar names, including members of the Crystal Skulls, Sufjan Stevens' band, and PTL's David Bazan. It's officially out June 6th, and you can now pre-order it now at the Undertow Music store. It's being released on Walsh's own label, Tower of Song, and while you're waiting for it to arrive, check out a couple tracks from it at myspace, or grab TW's monthly free mp3s over at the Soft Drugs site, including an early version of the eventual Pedro the Lion song, 'Start Without Me'.
Which brings us to ex-Pedro guy David Bazan, who will also be releasing a solo EP of his own June 13th on Jade Tree, his first since leaving the PTL moniker behind late last year. It's titled 'Fewer Moving Pieces', and as of yesterday you can order it through the Undertow Music store as well. It's a five-song but ten-track affair, with each number getting both an acoustic and electric treatment. The tracklisting, which gives each song two titles depending on the version, is...
A couple of those song title may look familiar to Pedro the Lion followers: Two demo versions of 'The Devil Is Beating His Wife' have been available at PureVolume for awhile, and Bazan performed it as part of the recent Undertow Orchestra tour. 'Backwoods Nation' was released as a PTL song on the 2002 Jade Tree sampler 'Location Is Everything Vol 1'. Not sure if we'll get re-recorded versions of those songs, but here's hoping.
Super fun fact: Ex-Low bassist and indie-comic publisher extraordinaire Zak Sally did the artwork for the EP. Actually, we can now officially refer to him as "the Eisner-nominated Zak Sally". Because this year, he is.
Indie Interviews posted an excellent David Bazan chat awhile back as part of its podcast series, in which he discussed leaving the Pedro the Lion name behind, the use of profanity in his music, and much, much more. I.I.'s Garrison Reid was kind enough to send me an unused five-minute chunk of the interview, so I'm sharing it up right here for a little while. In the excerpt, David talks about the absurdity of the Christian 'club' mentality, and his frustration with freaks like James Dobson who use faith to preach intolerance. Definitely worth a listen for Bazan/PTL fans, along with the rest of it.
For Boston-area readers, David will be playing with the also-excellent Drew O'Doherty at TT the Bears on Monday, June 19th. Might want to grab tickets early for that one.
I simply cannot get enough of Rose Melberg's new solo cd on Double Agent, 'Cast Away the Clouds'. I ordered it pretty early from Darla, and was very psyched to see it arrive well before the official late-April release date. I shouldn't be surprised that her beautiful voice, perfect harmonies, soft strumming, and light piano touches have become my spring soundtrack... I don't think she's been involved in anything I haven't liked, whether it was Tiger Trap, the Softies, or Go Sailor.
Order up the album direct from Double Agent, and listen to some songs over at Rose's myspace page, including a cover of an old Anne Briggs folk song called "The Time Has Come", which you can also download here. For some other Rose-colored coverage, BrooklynVegan wrote about a recent live appearance, and For the 'Records' wrote something (and stole my intended title for this post :-)) on the eve of the album's release.
Norway's Serena Maneesh are offering up a free mp3, a remixed version of 'Sapphire Eyes' that has so far only appeared on the b-side of a 7". The mix itself is a bit of an aural train-wreck, and you have to sign up for their mailing list to get it, but it's worth a listen if you love the original. Go get it here.
Lots of great shows here in Boston this month, including last Saturday's Pinback show, this coming Sunday's Mogwai show, and others including Film School, Metal Hearts, Rachel's, Mark Kozelek, and Twilight Singers. Also really looking forward to seeing Mary Timony on June 1st, since the addition of bass player Chad Molter has made the guitar-and-drums duo a full-on trio. Can't wait to see how it helps fills out her live set, especially since they'll be playing some new stuff in preparation for the imminent recording of Mary's next album.
(I was kinda looking forward to seeing Radiohead, until I got completely shut out when I attempted to get tickets last Saturday morning. My click-fu was not strong. Anyone got an extra? I'd letcha ravage my tradelist. :))
Other announced shows that I'm really looking foward to: Boston's own Buffalo Tom at the Paradise, that Bazan / O'Doherty double-bill at TTs, and Head Like A Kite at the Paradise, all in June.
July brings us A Silver Mount Zion (a GYBE offshoot) at the Middle East and a few great shows at the Paradise: The Futureheads on the 1st, Mission of Burma on the 13th, and Editors on the 30th. While tickets for that Editors show don't officially go on sale until May 15th, you can already grab pre-sale tix right over here (username: editors, password: munich). Going there would be most wise, as there's no doubt about a sell-out.
Edited to add: Mission of Burma is doing a pre-sale for their tour as well, including stops in DC, Philly, Toronto, Cleveland, and Detroit, in addition to the two shows in Massaschusetts. Head over to MusicToday to grab your early tix, which have just gone on sale.
And looking waaaaay too far ahead to September, we'll be treated to Bottomless Pit at the Middle East. 'Bottomless Pit?', you may be asking. That's former Silkworm guys Tim Midgett and Andy Cohen's new band, with ex-Seam drummer Chris Manfrin and .22 singer/guitarist Brian Orchard on bass. They're playing with Shearwater and Magnolia Electric Co., and I cannot freakin' wait. Tickets go on sale this Friday, and I'm guessing that date is part of a larger tour, so keep an eye out in other cities as well.
Was going to write about a whole lot more, but this chunk has taken long enough as it is. Time to click the 'Publish' button...
Pssst... hey, Bostonians: Wanna see a free preview screening of the new Terry Zwigoff / Daniel Clowes flick 'Art School Confidential' tomorrow night? Then go here and print out the pass. See ya there.
live in cambridge, ma
on november 14th, 2008
previously: joy formidable - boston 2011
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