bradley's almanac - a boston-based music blog
navigate the 'nac
almanac mp3 archives almanac shared mp3 archive
live show photo archive boston-area live shots on flickr
'my life or some dream'
original mp3 compilation

free mp3 compilation on club fub
bands i've been in bands i've played drums in
the 'nac faq & contact info
contact info and more
the 'nac on the 'net
the almanac rss feed
subscribe to my rss feed
follow me on twitter the almanac twitter account
become a fan on facebook the 'nac on facebook
the almanac tumblr page bradley's tumblanac
hype machine 'nac page the almanac hype machine page
the almanac soundcloud page the almanac shuffler page
the 'nac songkick gig page the almanac songkick gig page
almanac events on sponty the almanac sponty events page
the almanac page the almanac page
listen to 'nac mp3s on shuffler the almanac shuffler page

the almanac archives

search the 'nac

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, March 05, 2007

Mp3s: Sparklehorse in Boston

Boston, like many other places, has been lacking for visits from Mark Linkous and the touring version of his Sparklehorse. It's not as if he hits the road frequently, and aside from an opening slot for the Flaming Lips here in 2003, his last proper Boston stop was almost eight years ago. That was a bit before I fell in love with 2001's "It's A Wonderful Life", so the fairly deep connection I made with that album was confined to my headphones. In a way, that made the songs more personal; not sharing the experience with a crowd or hearing them taken beyond their studio context kept them pure and untarnished. After I'd overloaded my system with that brilliant disc, I spent a lot of quality time with his two previous albums, but neither would dig as deep as that first exposure did.

The six-year wait for a fourth disc was a long one; I surfed for news updates and checked his cryptic website often, finally getting whispers early last year that "Dreamt For Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain" was on its way. It arrived in September, and proved itself a worthy follow-up, with a wealth of good tracks, and showing a bit of songwriting growth while still using that unique mix of hi-fi/lo-fi studio wizardry Linkous is known for. There's an undeniable "Sparklehorse sound", a warm blanket that sits on top of his layered recordings that can't be attributed solely to background crackles or his slightly-distorted vocal tracks.

He brought that distorted microphone, though not a crackling backing track, with him when he and his backing band came to Boston last week as part of the long-awaited "Dreamt..." support tour. The release of that autumnal album triggered a veritable deluge of Sparklehorse shows, and apart from a December holiday break, they've been on the road ever since. The tour actually finished up officially last night in Atlanta, and with no other dates on the books, who knows when we'll see the man and his band again. Can't possibly be as long of a wait as it was last time, though, can it?

If it is, we'll have this live set to keep us slightly satiated. And despite Mark's struggle with a case of the flu, it was a beauty. The gorgeous softer numbers (especially "Sad & Beautiful World", "Gold Days", & "Eyepennies") fared a bit better than the ones that rocked out, I thought. I can understand the desire to turn parts of the live show up a notch, to bring some energy to the stage for contrast, but there were times when the drummer drowned out the rest of the band. It was as if the tasteful restraint he showed during the somber songs kept him bottled up, so he really let loose during the louder ones. His wide bandana and high-stick action moves (Adam called it "slow-motion swimming") almost seemed like they belonged in a different band, but there's no denying the talent he brought to the table, and the same goes for the other musicians he shared the stage with (check out their bios here).

Here are the live mp3s, with some accompanying links and photos. Fans will note that only two songs came from the latest album, and most can be found on the debut, "Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot", so the set leaned heavily towards his early material. Even the two songs that were cut from the setlist ("Weird Sisters" and "Homecoming Queen") are from that first disc, so it could have leaned even more in that direction. As I mentioned, Mark said he was fighting the flu, which may explain why those two songs were cut, but you'd never notice listening to his performance. And I'm not going to complain about the set's brevity, though... any Sparklehorse is much-appreciated Sparklehorse.

Some Sparklehorse links...
  • The official site, MySpace page, Wikipedia entry, and the excellent Linkous-approved fan site.

  • Mp3s: "Happy Birthday Mark / Weird Sister (live)", "Apple Bed (live)", and "Return to Me (live)" (all from the Grey Eagle in Asheville, NC), and "Shade And Honey" (from "Dreamt For Light Years..."). The Superb Live site also has a live version of "Saturday" from a 2001 Amsterdam show.

  • Stream: 30 second song samples at, "Don't Take My Sunshine Away" at the Astralwerks page, and four songs on MySpace.

  • YouTube: Videos for "It's A Wonderful Life", "Pig", and "King Of Nails". Live clips for "Apple Bed", "It's A Wonderful Life", "Piano Fire", and "Spirit Ditch", all from Richmond, Virginia in 2001. Here's a link to the full Sparklehorse search.

  • Check out an old video (.mov file) Mark made to promote the sophomore "Good Morning Spider" album. The dialog is read by Stereolab vocalist Laetitia Sadler.

  • Another video clip (.mov file), this one an on-stage collaboration between Mark and Christian Fennesz.

  • New York Public Radio WNYC just had Sparklehorse in the studio for their Soundcheck program to chat and play a couple songs. Stream the performance and interview, or download the entire appearance as an Mp3 (8.7 MB). Songs performed are "Painbirds" and "Spirit Ditch".

  • Chromewaves reviews and photographs Sparklehorse's February 23rd Toronto show. It's Not The Band I Hate, It's Their Fans was there was well (courtesy of a Chromewaves contest), and shared some words.

  • Music Slut writes up the February 28th Webster Hall show in NYC, and Radio Free Chicago has both words and pictures from the February 22nd stop at the Double Door.

  • A couple more of my own pictures from the Boston show can be found here.

  • As always, you can listen to all 'Nac-hosted tracks on the Hype Machine.
  • A notable aside: At our show, a posted sign in the Paradise boldly stated: "Buy A CD, Meet Mark!", and they weren't kidding. Anyone who picked up a copy of "Dreamt For Light Years..." at the merch table got a wristband that allowed them to hang out after the show and chat with the ailing Mr. Linkous (did this happen anywhere else?). Now, having bought the thing on its release date, and no longer being much of an autograph-hound, I skipped the chance... but friends said he did appear and mingled with the crowd. As cool as it is that he did that, it also strikes me as a little on the odd side. Well, it's certainly a way to sell more discs (wouldn't most fans who really want to meet him already own the album?), but feels a little "un-Sparklehorse-ish" to me. Then again, the guy's got a mild mountain-mullet that flies behind him thanks to an on-stage fan, and has a drummer named "Johnny Hott", so I may not have a clue what "Sparklehorse-ish" is, beyond the recorded context. Y'know, I might as well have met him, 'cuz I woke up the next morning with the flu anyway. At least I could have claimed I had the "Sparklehorse strain".

    postscript-stylee... If anyone has any issues whatsoever with this live set being made available, just say the word (contact info in the 'nac faq). I am but a fan trying to share and spread the word. Recorded with a Sony ECM-719 mic and a Sony MZ-RH10 minidisc, converted to .wav and then edited to 192kbps mp3s. Tracks are made available for a limited time, and are not reposted once removed.


    featured mp3 download
    neil halstead
    live in cambridge, ma
    on november 14th, 2008
    previously: joy formidable - boston 2011

    recent posts on the 'nac...

    on the nightstand

    boston-area music bloggers

    boston music media

    I Buy Music

    This page is powered by Blogger Pro.