Friday, October 17, 2008

Jim James- "Steam Engine"

My love for is no secret. My favorite band is Wilco, and I adore Uncle Tupelo, Ryan Adams, Son Volt, Whiskeytown, Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper, etc. One of my favorite releases this year was My Morning Jacket's stellar Evil Urges. One of the factors that makes me love MMJ so much is Jim James's haunting voice. It's an unforced falsetto with such a pure and balanced tone, and a titanic range. Here's a video of him performing a solo acoustic version of "Steam Engine," from MMJ's 2003 release It Still Moves.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tiny Masters of Today- La La Land

I posted a while back about Bang Bang Boom Cake, the debut album from Brooklyn kids Tiny Masters of Today. BBBC was a really solid and inspiring album, if not because of their age (the siblings in TMOT are 12 and 14) then because of their throwback, lo-fi punk sound.

Now, TMOT have released a single with a politically-charged message. On their site, the sibs said this about the song:

This election is really important. John McCain and Sarah Palin represent more of the same ignorance that has made the last 8 years really bad. Words are important, and this song is made up of other people's words. They are twisted around but we don't feel bad because politicians do that all the time. Grab it before someone sues us or something!

On the new, free single "La-La Land," the tiny masters piece together clips from McCain and Palin speeches a la Wax Audio's "Imagine This." The result is a crunchy protest anthem with punk attitude. Download "La-La Land" here.

Of course, at the end of their message, the duo signed off with a decidedly punk-rock message: "Make music not war."


Pigeons & Planes

As evidenced by my previous posts on music sites like and Daytrotter, I check a lot of music websites and blogs. If I find one that is habit-forming, chances are, I'll let you all know about it.

One blog I've been digging lately is the recently started Pigeons & Planes. It's got a simple format, but it's full of good MP3's, videos and news bits. Confusion, who runs the blog, scours about ten music blogs a day and weeds out the best picks from each site for P&P. P&P is updated constantly, which is a nice change from once-a-day MP3 blogs. Proof: The blog began Sept. 28 and there are already over 100 posts.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

When Juno came out last year, it was embraced for it's quirkiness, smart and hip screenplay and indie-approved soundtrack, which was graced by Cat Power, Sonic Youth and, most prominently, the Moldy Peaches's Kimya Dawson. Dawson grew from an underground obscurity to a center-of-the-radar obscurity. The soundtrack shot up the charts, and Dawson set out for a sold-out tour- including one particularly curious stop on the View. While many were pleased that Dawson was receiving so much praise for old and underrated work, just as many, if not more, hipsters raised their noses in disgust at Dawson, now a "sell-out."

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, based on a book of the same name, is a thoroughly enjoyable cute ditty of a film. It leaves you smiling, pleased and little more. However, I think that it's fated to reach the same fate as Juno, because of its indie'd soundtrack. On the plus side, Nick & Norah is clearly a major studio film with recognizable stars, so it's not as if its success is unexpected as it was with Juno. But the fact that it is centered around two hipster teens who slave over mixtapes, know what Electric Lady Studios are and spend an entire night sailing through the five Burroughs in search of a secret show by a cult indie band means that the film is geared toward the same demographic as indies like Juno.

The soundtrack counts songs from Vampire Weekend, Devendra Banhart (who also has a cameo in the film), Takka Takka and We Are Scientists, among others, in its infinite playlist. By all means a solid soundtrack, but also one that will surly piss off the hipsters who will no doubt see mall rats sporting Vampire Weekend t-shirts in the coming weeks.

I'm personally neutral to the situation. I really enjoyed the movie and bought the soundtrack because it had songs I like from bands I like on it. Plus, I couldn't think of another way to get the Vampire Weekend song. A friend of mine, and die hard Devendra fan, on the other hand, refuses to see the movie. She thinks that it exploits indie bands by marketing them to the masses who won't appreciate their sound, and will listen to the music only for its shallow, materialistic value.

What do you think?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

While I'm sometimes truly miffed by Pitchfork Media and their overtly obnoxious need to be the "indie" and "obscure" in all of their reviews, I must admit that I am a fan of the online TV channel they launched earlier this year,

Between interviews with Jay Reatard and Feist, live sessions on the top of buildings ("Don't Look Down") with Department of Eagles and Jose Gonzalez and multi-player bands like the Walkmen and Broken Social Scene crammed into a basement ("Juan's Basement"), not only offers videos of the latest, brightest indie artists, but offers them in creative locales, such as the aforementioned building and basement, or the "random Brooklyn street" on which Jay Reatard was interviewed. These settings promote candid conversation and performance. also frequently updates their music video library, hosting a broad spectrum of videos, from the atmospheric Animal Collective to lo-fi punkers No Age.

Department of Eagles, "No One Does It Like You," from Don't Look Down