Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Cutting straight to the chase, sharing up some songs I've been listening to lately, and some info that has me jazzed. Artists mentioned include Pinback, Yo La Tengo, The Soft Drugs, Neil Young, Sigur Ros, PJ Harvey, Sleepyhead, Editors, British Sea Power, and some other band who released an album on the internet today.
The mighty Pinback return to Boston tonight in support of their latest (and greatest, methinks) album, "Autumn of the Seraphs". Opening up is geek-rap prodigy MC Chris, and as of this writing, tickets were still available. They simply blew me away when they played the Paradise last year, so I highly recommend heading over to the Roxy this evening, or checking out their lengthy tour itinerary if you're elsewhere.
Pinback's Rob & Zach appeared on NPR's Talk of the Nation a couple days ago, and played two songs to bookend their interview. Here's one of them...
Yo La Tengo's latest tour, which is billed as a Freewheelin' one, kicked off last night in Bloomington, Indiana, and swings through Boston on Thursday, November 15th for two shows at the Museum of Fine Arts. Tickets are here and here.
Here's how the band describes the tour...
The Freewheeling Yo La Tengo Tour is a rare opportunity to see this ever-surprising band in a setting more intimate and interactive than any tour in their 23-year career. A little bit "Storytellers", a little bit "Unplugged", with a soupcan of their famously varied Hanukkah shows, it will feature the band playing an almost-acoustic set of songs from their entire catalog, with stories about their life as a band, and an encouraged back-and-forth with the audience. Already famous for never playing the same show twice, this fresh look at Yo La Tengo offers rare insight into one of the most important, unique, and beloved bands in American rock. Yo La Tengo's latest CD, I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass, will be the springboard for these shows, though anything can and will happen from there.That spells "can't miss" to me.
Well-timed for the Red Sox run for the pennant, although not necessarily related, T.W. Walsh has a new streaming song under his nom de rock, the Soft Drugs, called "Build Me A Ballpark". Check it out over at his MySpace page. The full-band incarnation will make their Boston debut at TT the Bears in Cambridge later this month, opening for David Bazan (along with Drew O'Doherty and All Smiles). Check back here next week, when I'll be giving a way a pair of tickets to the show.
If you missed out last week on the quickly-vanished tickets for the two special Neil Young shows that are happening in December at the Orpheum, you'll get one more chance: A third show has been added, on Thursday, December 6th, and tickets go on sale for that one this weekend, Saturday, October 13th at 10am. Yeah, it's a pricey one (tix start at around $70, and go as high as $160), but it's not like Neil comes around very often, or plays places that seat under 3000 fans.
Sigur Ros has been playing a short acoustic set to accompany screenings of their documentary/concert-film "Heima", and one of those performances was in Helsinki, Finland a couple weeks back. Taper Teema was there, and has allowed me to share mp3 versions of their beautiful recording (original torrent here). They're absolutely (and unsurprisingly) gorgeous versions of three songs...
Mp3: Sigur Ros - "Njosnavelin" (live)And if you haven't heard it yet, it's worth checking out the Kronos Quartet's version of Sigur Ros' "Flugufrelsarinn", which you can stream here *, or download via iTunes. Oh, and if you're wondering if "Heima" will screen in Boston? Hang in there, and keep your fingers crossed.
* Also note the stream of Kronos performing a live version of "Way Down In The Hole" with Mr. Tom Waits. Fans of the Wire will get a special buzz outta that one. Just a few more months to go until season 5 starts.
PJ Harvey's new album, "White Chalk", marks a beautiful shift in direction from her previous disc, and I for one am thankful. It's a disquieting, almost eerie piece of work, all piano, hushed guitars, and fragile vocals, a far yet soft cry from the raw, rough edges of "Uh Huh Her". Had she toured for that album, I might have skipped it, but if she hits Boston to share "White Chalk" with us, I'm there. For now, she only has two U.S. dates scheduled (tonight in NYC, Monday in LA), but I'm hoping that changes soon.
The packaging on this one was a bit odd, what with the full disc coming in a thin cardboard sleeve and the accompanying extra EP (which is actually a computer-only EPK) housed in a regular-sized jewel case. Usually it's the opposite, but I'm not complaining. Did take awhile to figure out how to get the .mov file of the bonus EP's 1988 demo "Wait" converted to mp3, though. iTunes buyers get that song included with their full-album purchase.
Here's a fairly stunning performance of "Grow Grow Grow" that had PJ strumming an autoharp and tapping a keyboard with her feet for a French television show (video here)...
I'm still a bit sad that I missed Sleepyhead's first show in three years a couple weekends back (how dare they schedule that while I was outta town?!), but getting a new song helps make up for it, at least until the (hopefully) next show...
In the "odd covers" category, here's Editors doing Calvin Harris on BBC Radio 1 last month...Lullaby" to commemorate Radio 1's 40th Anniversary, and you can see an interview about that with the band (and many others) here.
This new British Sea Power track thrills me, and ensures that I'll be buying their "Krankenhaus?" EP when it arrives on North American shores November 20th. Not that I wouldn't have anyway, but there will be an extra spring in my step as I head to the record store that day...Middle East in Cambridge, MA on Sunday, October 21st. Tickets here, or at the club's box office if you want to avoid the extra charges. The band's third full length, "Do You Like Rock Music?", arrives on February 12th in the US, and a month earlier in the UK. Lucky sods.
And finally, how can I not comment on Radiohead's "In Rainbows" today, of all days? My longtime love for the band has bounced back and forth from "big fan" to "obsessive", but I've felt no need to add my little voice to the overwhelming amount of blogarrhea that's built up over the past 10 days, at least not until I had it on my hard drive. I'll sum things up by saying: The news of the release, and the way it was done, excited me. Yeah, it might have been nice if the band disclosed the bitrate info and eventual proper cd release plans up front, but this is uncharted territory here. I dropped $5 U.S. in their bucket, woke up this morning to my download link, and have been absorbing the album all day.
Apart from the music itself, the best aspect of the whole experiment? The return of the "shared experience" that has disappeared in the age of leaks and staggered releases. I sure missed those big Tuesdays, those marked events, and it's nice to have it back for once, especially when the reaction comes fast and furious on music blogs, entertainment sites, and personal rss feeds within a number of hours. Even better when it's for an album this good. Others can "live blog" it, and I'll refrain from going track by track, but I will say there's only a couple songs that didn't somehow strike me within the first listen or two, and even those might hit me later. It's a big step up from "Hail to the Thief" (and I liked that one), and I'm guessing it'll easily make my top 5 this year. I'm fired up enough that, budget be damned, I feel like springing for the box that ships in December, for the vinyl and the disc full of extra tracks. Even if I don't, I'll still be picking up the more conventional disc next year, because I'm one of those old-fashioned freaks who needs something sitting on my cd shelves.
My only initial complaint is one of preconception: Like others, I was so impacted by the live version of "Videotape" when I saw the band last year that I'm a little let down by the relatively subdued one that closes out "In Rainbows". I'm mystified as to why the band kept drummer Phil Selway out of the studio for that one, but hey, we'll always have the live tracks: From my recording of Radiohead's Boston show back on June 5th, 2006, here are the songs that made it onto "In Rainbows"...
Mp3: Radiohead - "15 Step" (live in Boston 2006.06.05)And one that will be found on the extra disc that comes with the December box...
live in cambridge, ma
on november 14th, 2008
previously: joy formidable - boston 2011
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