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recommended boston area events

tuesday, december 4th

kelly hogan

@ johnny d's

thursday, december 6th

conor oberst

@ converse hall, tremont st.

thursday, december 6th

jason isbell &

the 400 unit

@ the sinclair

friday, december 7th

the weisstronauts 14th

annual holiday jubilee

with guests tsunami of sound

preacher jack, & the derangers

@ the midway cafe, jp

friday, december 7th


moving mountains


@ the sinclair

saturday, december 8th

patrick watson

@ the sinclair

saturday, december 8th

the faint perform

"danse macabre"


icky blossoms

@ the paradise

sunday, december 9th

band of horses

@ house of blues

sunday, december 9th



@ the paradise

wednesday, december 12th

concrete blonde

jim bianco

@ the sinclair

thursday, december 13th

annual boston christmas cavalcade

benefit for the homeless

featuring tons of artists

(see fb event for details)

@ johnny d's

thursday, december 13th

nada surf

eternal summers

@ the paradise

thursday, december 13th

mates of state

in the valley below

@ brighton music hall

friday, december 14th

forgetters (blake from

jawbreaker's band)

& more tba

@ democracy center, harvard square

sunday, december 30th

sufjan stevens

sheila saputo

@ the royale

monday, december 31st

my morning jacket

@ agganis arena

monday, december 31st

deer tick

two gallants

@ the sinclair

monday, january 7th


@ the paradise

tuesday, january 8th


@ great scott

saturday, january 19th

mission of burma

@ the sinclair

sunday, january 20th

camper van beethoven


@ the middle east down

sunday, january 20th


@ the orpheum

sunday, january 20th

ra ra riot

@ the paradise

sunday, january 27th


@ great scott

tuesday, january 29th

kathleen edwards

sera cahoone

@ brighton music hall

wednesday, february 13th

yo la tengo

@ the paradise

saturday, march 2nd

unknown mortal orchestra

@ brighton music hall

tuesday, march 12th

tame impala

@ house of blues

thursday, march 14th

jukebox the ghost

matt pond pa

lighthouse and the whaler

@ brighton music hall

tuesday, march 26th

yo la tengo

@ the paradise

wednesday & thursday

april 3rd & 4th

they might be giants

@ the paradise

visit tourfilter for more shows

Monday, December 18, 2006

You're So Off You're On

Poor, poor pitiful me. Struck down for four long days by a brutal cold/flu thing, on the couch downing ginger ale and sudafed, alternating between tivo'd episodes of Showtime's perfectly creepy Dexter and the genius that is The Venture Bros. Season 1 DVD. But I think I'm finally on the upswing, feeling ok enough to sit up and finish an actual post, just in time to head back to work and another Monday morning.

Before I start, allow me to pause for a programming note: The URL for the Almanac RSS feed has changed. Please act accordingly. Thank you.

Artists ahead include Kristin Hersh, Dinosaur Jr., the McCarricks, the New Pornographers, Mark Kozelek, Low, the Retribution Gospel Choir, Superchunk, the Janovitz Bros., and more...

Kristin Hersh's long-awaited next solo album, "Learn To Sing Like A Star", arrives on January 23rd from Yep Roc, and the first full mp3 has been let out into the world...

A video for the song is on its way, and is being filmed by Orrin Anderson, former drummer for Syrup USA, whose previous video credits include "Yo Yo Yo (Please Don't Fall In Love)" by +/-.

If you pre-order "Learn To Sing Like A Star" through the label, you'll immediately get access to three downloadable bonus mp3s: the originals "Windowpane" and "Blackstone", as well as a cover of "Poor Wayfaring Stranger", which may or may not be found on her second disc of Appalachian folks songs, "Murder, Misery, And Then Goodnight II", which should also be out sometime next year. (update: those three songs will also appear on the "In Shock" EP that will be released on 4AD early next month).

If you're hankering for more solo-KH, the Throwing Music Online Store has just released a new live set called "Mississippi Candlelight". It's an intimate document of a candle-lit, un-amplified evening with Kristin back on July 6, 2006 at Mississippi Studios in Portland, OR. While you're there, you can download a song called "I Don't Want Anything For Christmas", a benefit mp3 that's posted for a limited time. Various Portland, Oregon area artists, including Kristin, contributed vocals to this song, and all proceeds go to the Henderson House for Battered Women.

"In Shock" is one of many tracks on Kristin's upcoming disc that features the always-gorgeous string work of The McCarricks, the talented husband-and-wife team who have contributed arrangements to a long list of artists (Martin was also a full-time member of Therapy?). The duo has just made available the first official release of their own, an ultra-limited edition handmade "box", which you can order at their new online shop. From their website...
"We are proud to announce the arrival of our first CD for sale. Since music has been so devalued with the advent of downloading we decided we wanted to do something special for our first release so we have put together a limited edition box set which we have designed, printed and put together with our own fair hands. Kimberlee (McCarrick) spent many hours spraying the interior of each box and then embossing each with our logo. After that she hand printed the front of each box and even printed and assembled the cd wallets whilst Martin created all the design features. The Box Set entitled '3' contains a CD with 23 minutes of music, three postcards and a specially created black silk rosette."
Not a lot of music, but at a fairly low price of 10 british pounds (which includes shipping to anywhere in the world) and limited to just 200 copies, it's well worth it. Ordering details are here.

Dinosaur Jr. just finished up the latest installment of their ongoing reunion roadshow, with two weeks of dates on both sides of the Atlantic, and area now in a holiday break that will hopefully include some time working on their in-progress post-reunion album. They played at least two of those new songs on the latest dates, one fronted by J. Mascis and the other by Lou Barlow, and thanks to the band-sanctioned live-set-sharing site, we can get a taste...

Mp3: Dinosaur Jr. - "This Is All I Came To Do"
(live in Northampton, MA on 11/30/06)

For the other new track, the untitled Barlow song, head to FreeSoFree, create an account, and check out either the November 29th Boston show or the November 30th stop in Northampton, MA. Both are available in either mp3 or flac format. You can also check out a video clip of "This Is All I Came To Do" on YouTube.

The self-released New Pornographers "Live!" album is now available at their online store, and I've listened to it a bunch since mine arrived a couple days ago. They're such a solid live band, buying the limited edition disc was a no brainer, and that was before I knew about the hidden bonus: at the very end of the unlisted 27 minute 13th track comes their impromptu cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams", recorded on October 12th, 2005 at NYC's Webster Hall. Neko Case is in fine form on the song, remembering nearly all the words on the fly, and Todd Fancey almost nails the guitar solo. I know that the New Pr0ns are mildly uptight about live file sharing (they really should take a lesson from Dino Jr.), so I'll keep this up for just a day or two...

Order The New Pornographers "Live!" right here before they're gone.

Speaking of mild paranoia, at least Mark Kozelek's ultra-strict prohibition of recording on his last solo tour (which stopped here in Boston last May) eventually made a small amount of sense: He didn't want anyone stepping on the recent release of the double-disc "Little Drummer Boy Live" on his own Caldo Verde Records imprint. That also explains why he was so obsessive about perfect intonation, and spent almost 1/3 of our show on between-song tuning time.

"Little Drummer Boy Live" is a nice collection of career-spanning Koz songs (with Red House Painters & Sun Kil Moon numbers aplenty, along with a few of those unfortunate Modest Mouse covers), although I do wish he had eased up a bit on his adopted guitar technique of all-finger-picking-all-the-time. I miss the dynamics and occasional soft strumming on many of his songs, and a lot of his material can end up blending together, especially over two discs or a lengthy live show. Maybe I'm too emotionally attached to his originals... I certainly shouldn't fault the man for wanting to re-interpret his work in a live setting. Glad he had his longtime bandmate Phil Carney along to add some depth by contributing second guitar, though. Do I sound like I'm complaining? Honestly, any Kozelek live appearance is a gift.

In deference to the man's desires, I never shared the recording of that MFA show, and now that the live album is out, I'll still not share any of the material he's released on it. But here, if you will, is something of a little 'bonus track' for fans, from Kozelek's May performance at the MFA Boston, a song that wasn't included on "Little Drummer Boy Live"...

Mp3: Mark Kozelek with Phil Carney - "Grace Cathedral Park"
(live at the MFA Boston, 5/26/2006)

Order your own copy of the beautiful Mark Kozelek live album via Caldo Verde.

It's been a very long time since there was a newsworthy reason to talk about Low, but all that will change in 2007 when Sub Pop releases their "Drums and Guns" disc in March. I've got very high hopes for the disc, as a few of the songs (like the stunning "Dragonfly") have long been in Low's live set rotation, and others made their way into shows by The Retribution Gospel Choir, a side-project that includes Low's Alan Sparhawk and Matt Livingstone, with sporadic appearances by Mr. Mark Kozelek.

While the studio, the presence of Mimi, and the skills of producer Dave Fridmann will certainly transform those songs from their live previews, they already hint at a stellar album ahead. If you do the torrent thing, and want to check out the RGC versions of future Low songs "Hatchet", "Breaker", and "Pretty People", head to this YouTube link, which has video of those three songs from a September 8th, 2005 show in Costa Mesa, CA.

The full video recordings of that show and another from the same tour made their way onto, so head there if you do the torrent thing. In addition to the Sparhawk-penned Low songs, Kozelek contributes a couple of his own to the setlist (RHP's "Make Like Paper" & SKM's "Salvador Sanchez"), joins in on some RGC originals, and collaborates on a few covers: "The Carpet Crawlers", the Stones "Moonlight Mile", and Pink Floyd's "Fearless".

You can hear The Retribution Gospel Choir's own songs at their MySpace page, and keep an eye out for the second limited edition tour EP (the first is long gone), which should be available sometime soon at the Chairkickers online store.

Far too long since anyone's been able to say this: Superchunk has hit the studio. Unfortunately it was just to lay down a pair of songs, but hey, we'll take what we can get. Excerpted from the December 14th entry on Mac McCaughan's Portastatic blog...
"Yesterday Superchunk went into the studio to record a new song for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force film & soundtrack (film out March 16)... we wrote the song specifically for Aqua Teens and recorded & mixed it in a day at Overdub Lane with John Plymale (Indoor Living, Laughter Guns EP, Summer of the Shark, Be Still Please). the working title of the song was in fact "Meatwad's Lament" but in the end the song became something called "Misfits and Mistakes"...

...also, while we were in the studio we recorded a demo of "Learned to Surf" (we played that at Irving Plaza a couple weeks ago) so we don't forget how it goes..."
He also calls "Misfits and Mistakes" a "toe-tapper". Of that, I have no doubt.

Another one to file under: "when worlds collide"...

Fans of both the Washington, DC music scene and the DC-based Redskins football franchise might have had a mild freakout if they came across the Week 14 DVOA ratings on the Fox Sports website. I would have missed it if not for the Teenbeat mailing list, but you've got to take a look at this (scroll down to the Redskins, #23)...
"23. REDSKINS 4-9 25 22 26 15 30 15
It's no surprise that there's some unrest among the Redskins fans. They put all their eggs in the Joe Gibbs basket, and the faith was not rewarded. I'm sure Daniel Snyder will try to solve the problem by throwing money at more free agents; it's one of the NFL's most predictable rites of spring. Which overrated wide receiver will the Redskins embrace this year? I shudder to think. Look at the make-up of this team, and you'll realize that the Redskins will always be a minor threat unless they can build some depth. There's really only one word to describe this franchise right now: fugazi."
Yes, that's at least nine DC-based bands name-dropped in a freakin' Fox football write-up. The byline for the article is Aaron Schatz, and if he's the man responsible for the summaries, then I say: Well played, sir, well played indeed.

Because Frank at Chromewaves is perhaps too modest to point out this recently-posted footage he's part of (or I missed it when he did), may I direct your attention to the full video recording of the panel he appeared on as part of the Future Of Music Policy Summit in Montreal last October. Titled "The New Deciders: Metafilters, Blogs, Podcasts", it also features CBC Radio 3's Grant Lawrence, Superchunk/Portastatic/Merge-man Mac McCaughan, RealNetwork's Tim Quirk, CBC Radio 2's Patti Schmidt, and Pitchfork's Ryan Schreiber.

Just a few of the good Boston area shows that are coming up in New Year, ones you'd do well to buy tickets for well in advance: Mark Eitzel with Drew O'Doherty in January, Midlake in February, Explosions in the Sky in March. I'm also keeping my fingers tightly crossed for the announcement of a February Sparklehorse date, since those tourdates have just started leaking out. Also exciting: That my friends in The Essex Green are teaming up with their Merge labelmates Camera Obscura for a tour that stops at the Paradise on January 27th. Can't wait for that one.

But before we hit '07, there are at least a couple can't-miss December shows: The first of those two Kimchee Records 10th Anniversary shows, and what has been dubbed "The Janovitz Brothers Christmas Spectacular" (or "Christmas Challenge"), which is happening this Saturday, Dec. 23rd at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge. The family-full (and, as Bill says, "ill-conceived") evening will include all four Janovitz brothers (Bill from Buffalo Tom/Crown Victoria, Scott from Dragstrip Courage, Paul from Cold Water Flat, and Tommy of The Shout Abouts) performing not only a few Christmas songs, but "songs by famous brother acts such as the Everly Brothers, the Kinks, the Louvin Brothers, Bee Gees, Jackson 5, etc". There is no doubt that this will be a Christmas Eve eve well-spent, and since there are no advanced tickets, arrive extra early. That way you can also catch The Shout Abouts, who are opening up the show.

Congrats to the winners of the Silkworm contest I ran a couple weeks back: Brian in Brooklyn & Taylor in North Vancouver, who each won SKWM's new "Chokes!" EP and the Silkworm tribute disc, as well as Scott in Brooklyn & Sebastian in Somerville, who both got the tribute. Your packages should already be in your mailbox. I'll be picking the winner of my latest giveaway, a copy of the The Shipping News limited "Claws" single, in the next day or two.

In this, the so-called giving season (which should be all year 'round, really), there are a couple of families that could use your help, in the form of some donated dollars...
  • If you're a regular reader of music-related blogs and news sites, you've probably recently heard about Callum Robbins, the infant son of former-Jawbox/Burning Airlines and current-Channels frontman J. Robbins and his wife Janet. He was born with Type I Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) in January, and was diagnosed in September. The family holds out hope that Cal will be able to beat the odds and live a longer-than-expected life, but this can only happen with expensive alternative treatments that insurance won't cover. So those around them have rallied to help raise money, and have set up a way to donate right here. While I've never met J., some mutual friends speak so highly of the guy, and at the very least I owe the man for so many hours of good songs, not only from his own bands, but from ones he's recorded. Read some recent words from J. on his MySpace page, and drop some kind cash in the donation box if you can.

  • A truly heart-breaking tragedy took place a few weeks ago when 35 year-old CNET writer and podcaster James Kim, his wife Kati, and their two young daughters, Penelope & Sabine, became stranded during bad weather in the Oregon wilderness while driving home to San Francisco after a Thanksgiving trip north. After spending 7 days in their car, James decided his only choice was to set out and seek help for his starving family. Two days later, rescuers found the vehicle, with Kati and the girls alive and well. Everyone hoped for a happy ending as the search continued, but two more long days later, the body of James Kim was found.

    James was one of my favorite parts of the old TechTV channel, back when he'd do gadget reviews on the much-missed Screen Savers program. I can't say it any simpler than I just liked the guy, dug his writing and delivery, his whole friendly on-screen demeanor. I followed the story of his family's disappearance closely, was elated when Kati and the girls were found, and equally crushed when I learned he didn't make it. "The James Kim Memorial Fund" has been established in his name, so contribute if you're able.

  • I'll end this one on a surreal note with something perfectly strange, especially if you're a fan of early Sonic Youth. Here's The Young at Heart Chorus performing SY's "Schizophrenia" (via Brian)...

    And so the world gets just a little bit weirder.

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