Monday, July 13, 2009


Starting NOW I will be operating Half A Person through WordPress. So, to keep following HAP, go HERE!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

BACK from the dead

I was away for 3 weeks and I've spent the last one trying to figure out some domain stuff and debating whether or not to switch to WordPress. I'll keep you posted.

LIVE: Wilco w/ Conor Oberst @ Wolf Trap, 7/8


Wilco’s been my number one favorite band for almost two years now, so I’ve done all the standard obsessive-fan stuff. I’ve seen their documentaries, I own hard copies of all their music, I stalk the website, I have multiple live recordings (which I compare and contrast endlessly). My iTunes play count tells me they’re my most-listened artist in my library. I’ve only seen them once before, but seeing as I’ve heard so many bootlegs, I sort of get what it to be expected from a live Wilco show: AWESOMENESS.

I know people like calling Wilco dad-rock (and based one the age and gender of the audience, I’d say that’s a pretty apt title…) but I think that’s misleading in that it makes you think they are boring when they are anything but. Every album they write is completely different from the one before yet they are all distinctly Wilco. Live, they are simply spectacular. Each member is ridiculously talented so when they jam they can take the music so much farther than other, younger bands can. Even though the line-up of Wilco has shifted considerably in their 15 year existence, the current roster is so uniform and tight you’d think they’ve been playing together since they were babies.

Anyway. Back to the start…

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band opened the show. Unlike Alyssa, who made her distaste for Conor Oberst very clear, I have been a fan for a while. I vividly remember my sister getting me a copy of “I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning” for my birthday in 7th grade, and I listened to it over and over and over again. I still like it. He may be a bit overrated in terms of the whole “Bob Dylan of Our Generation” thing, but that doesn’t make me dislike his music. I got the first Conor Oberst solo album last year and loved the more folksy tone and I love how much further he went with the country on the Mystic Valley Band album, “Outer South.” Live, I was quite impressed. The band opened with the one-two punch of “Danny Callahan” and “NYC- Gone, Gone.” Both songs were so much more lively on stage- especially “NYC,” which I didn’t love on the album but I now have a much greater appreciation for. The thing I most loved about the band’s set was that the sounded and looked like they were having a great time. I always imagined that Conor Oberst onstage would be depressing and bleak, but their set felt more like a sunny, awesome hoedown.

So now back to Wilco. As usual, I was blown away. After a tacky (but awesome) Price Is Right theme song intro, the band launched into the goofy (but awesome) “Wilco (the song).” From that point on, the show was all about having fun. The crowd was full of big fans who just wanted to hear their favorite band play some sweet songs, jam out a little bit, and then start all over. The long set contained cuts as old as “Misunderstood” and as new as “Deeper Down,” from their latest release, “Wilco (the album).” I was expecting the set to be mostly full of new tracks but the band did a good job of picking pretty evenly from their albums, save “A.M.,” which I believe was unrepresented.

Wilco has so many mopey, contemplative songs it’s hard to believe they can be so fun and free live, but I don’t think there was a single moment when someone could have looked over and seen me without a smile on my face. The fact that Wolf Trap is a great venue and the weather was perfect only added to the wonderful summer night.

Wilco set list:

  • Wilco (the song)
  • Shot in the Arm
  • At Least That’s What You Said
  • Bull Black Nova
  • You Are My Face
  • I’m Trying to Break Your Heart
  • One Wing
  • How To Fight Loneliness
  • Impossible Germany
  • Deeper Down
  • Jesus Etc.
  • Sonny Feeling
  • Handshake Drugs
  • Hate It Hear
  • Walken
  • I’m the Man Who Loves You
  • Hummingbird
  • ———-
  • You Never Know
  • Heavy Metal Drummer
  • Misunderstood
  • Spiders(kidsmoke)
  • I’m a Wheel

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

LIVE: Passion Pit w/ The Harlem Shakes @ Black Cat, 6/9

When this show ended last night at 11:25, less than an hour after Passion Pit started playing, I felt both awesome and sort of bad.

First the awesome parts…

I missed Cale Parks, but I saw a bunch of people buying his merch, so I’ll assume he was awesome. Go Cale Parks!

Next were the Harlem Shakes, who were fantastic and wonderful and adorable. Their music is so fun and bouncy, it was a great way to not only kick off the show, but to kick off the summer (I’m officially done with junior year! Yeah!). The crowd was sort of chatty during their set, but the band played loud enough that it didn’t matter. Plus, enough people there were clearly fans. This one guy next to me knew every word and danced like a maniac the whole time. Another awesome thing about the band is that they had a guy play the flute. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people dance to a song with flute in it. The Shakes played cuts off of their EP, “Burning Birthdays,” as well as their new album “Technicolor Health.” If you don’t already own “Technicolor Health” you are a huge fool. It a perfect summer album and it’s pretty much all I’ve listened to for the past week and a half.

Of course, the band that everybody came to see was Passion Pit. The second the group walked out on stage, everybody in the Cat went nuts. People were pogo-ing and dancing like crazy to every song. If you had never heard them before, it would appear that every song was a single because every time PP launched into a new track the crowd went berserk as if the four minutes of this song would be the best four minutes of their life. Before the show I’d heard that PP was pretty weak live but after this show I COMPLETELY disagree. They sounded great and they brought more energy into the show than a lot of bands I’ve seen.

Now for the bad parts…

I missed Cale Parks, but I saw a bunch of people buying his merch, so I’ll assume he was awesome. Wish I could have heard his set.

The Harlem Shakes were robbed that morning in Richmond (”The most annoying thing that could happen ever,” according to one of the members after the show), so they had to play a few songs acoustic. While they definitely sounded better electric, they never let the acoustic-ness bring the energy level down. This doesn’t really qualify as a “bad part,” it was just sort of a bummer. I still love them.

The most disappointing part of the show, however, came when Passion Pit ended their set at 11:25, less than an hour after they began playing. In fact, I think they played closer to about 40 minutes. So yeah, they packed an insane amount of energy into those 40 minutes, but when you’re the headlining act at a sold out show, don’t you think you should play longer than the opener? And at least have an encore longer than just one song? I enjoyed their set so much, but the fact that it was so short put a bit of a damper on it. I mean seriously, I saw Bruce Springsteen a few weeks ago and he’s more than twice as old as these guys, but he played for THREE HOURS without stopping. Granted, he has a lot more material, but between “Chunk of Change” and “Manners,” these guys easily could have added five or six more songs to the set. At the end of the show I heard a lot of people saying great things about the band, but I also heard a lot of people griping that the played for such a short amount of time (One guy was hanging around the stage so he could ask the band why they never played “Seaweed Song.” He was all fired up. “They never played Seaweed Song, did you notice that?? Why didn’t they play it?! It’s only 11:25, why did they stop?!”)

Thoughts? Should they have played longer? Is such a short set to be expected from a band with only one full-length and one EP?

Overall I really enjoyed the show. Fun and high-energy. I just wish that Passion Pit had kept going a little longer.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Mandy Moore Makes a Comeback

In her teen-pop heyday, I was never a big Mandy Moore fan. To me, she was just a more boring Jessica Simpson. She sang songs really dull love songs and her voice wasn't anything spectacular. However, I did like a lot of the movies she was in (A Walk to Remember, The Princess Diaries, Saved...)

But then something changed. A few years ago, Moore started dating Zach Braff, and then singer-songwriter Greg Laswell. At about this time, she released a covers album called "Coverage." I don't own it, but based on what I've heard, it's not bad. She chose smart songs to sing, from artists such as Elton John, Carole King, Cat Stevens, and Blondie. Obviously, her versions aren't better than the originals, but the album at least showed her good taste, which I am sure is partially due to her relationships with men who have good taste.

Next, Moore recorded an album called "Wild Hope." It was her most original album to date, but still a little bland. It was just very polished contemporary pop with a singer-songwriter edge, especially on songs like "Gardenia." Here, Moore enlisted songwriters like Rachel Yamagata for help. Their influence is very apparent, but nothing on the album reaches the heights that Yamagata's music frequently does.

A few months ago, Moore released a new album, "Amanda Leigh." This album is another step in the right direction. It's jazzy and poppy on songs like "Pocket Philosopher" and "I Could Break Your Heart Any Day of the Week," but quieter tunes such as "Bug" and "Merrimack River" balance the mood. There is a distinct 70's singer-songwriter influence on the album; it's almost as though all Moore listened to while recording it was Carole King's "Tapestry." Some tracks also seem to be directly influenced by her prolific singer-songwriter husband Ryan Adams, but none match his in terms of quality.

"Amanda Leigh" is not a fantastic album by any means, but it is definitely a solid effort. It's nice to see Moore moving in a new direction, and she definitely knows what kind of music she wants to make. I don't know if I'll continue to buy her albums, but I'll definitely give them a listen or two when they come out.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

New Mixtape: Something in the Air

I've been working on a new mixtape for a while, the theme for which is movie couples/crushes. It's called Something in the Air, and here it is. Along with a picture of Joel and Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, one of my favorite movie couples of all time. For a free physical copy, complete with cover art, shoot me an email.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Album Review: St. Vincent- Actor

A few weeks ago I met Annie Clark, the waifish, bright-eyed chanteuse behind St. Vincent, outside of a record store in Georgia. She was there with some family, who were laughing and pointing at the record cover for her new album "Actor," which is essentially a huge picture of her face, in the window, and urging her to go in and buy a copy.

The cover of "Actor" can speak to the music as well. Clark is pictured staring into the distance, her eyes wide and her hair curling in every direction. The result makes her look like some sort of otherworldly fairy. This large image of her face is set against an almost garish orange background. Similarly, Clark's music is composed of her ethereal, breezy vocals over top jarring, distorted guitars and drums.

Given her background as a former member of the Polyphonic Spree, and given that I never heard her first album "Marry Me," I expected St. Vincent to be light, poppy ballads, bordering on twee. As I mentioned before, the music is quite the contrary. First of all, it's loud. While Clark's voice might be light, songs like "Actor Out Of Work" and "Save Me From What I Want" are thick with distortion and wrecking beats. After stalking YouTube, I learned that Clark is a master on the axe, and shreds live like a member of an 80's hair metal band.

On the other hand, she does have a more restrained side. "Black Rainbow" is a hushed track that pairs Clark's voice with jabbing guitar and floating keys. Eventually, however, the song climaxes in a goopy, cinematic swamp of organ, strings, and synth.

If "Actor" proves anything, it's that Clark is a master of both the quieter, simpler aspects of songwriting and the convoluted, complicated aspects of orchestral arrangements and production. Even on tracks like the jazzy and buoyant "Laughing With A Mouth Full Of Blood" Clark layers vocal effects, strings, stuttering drums, and a plethora of other instruments without sounding overcrowded or noisy.

I can't wait to get more into St. Vincent's catalog after hearing "Actor." This is a truly dynamic album featuring an extremely talented songwriter and artist.

New Comet Gain- "Broken Record Prayers"

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone talks during a song. It's supposed to seem really serious and meaningful, but to me it's just annoying. In the middle of M83's "Graveyard Girl," one of my favorite songs last summer, a girl starts talking about how the graveyard is her home or something and those few seconds almost made me hate the song. Luckily the rest is so John Hughes-y awesome that I can't throw it away. But seriously, if it weren't for the talking, I would listen to the track much, much more.

However, I recently found one exception to the rule. I picked up Comet Gain's "Broken Record Prayers" two weeks ago, and the opening track, "Jack Nance Hair," is a talker. A girl with a thick accent recites verses about believing in art and music over strummed guitars and a light rhythm. Partway through, a boy comes in singing heartbreaking lines about "escaping movie blues." The juxtaposition of the girl's more aggressive delivery against the lo-fi music and the boy's earnest lyrics blend to create a truly sweet song that I enjoy without being distracted by all the talking. Somehow, Comet Gain stumbled upon the formula for making talking in a song not painful and awful.

I believe this is the only song on the album with talking (I haven't listened to the whole thing thoroughly so I'm not positive though) but the rest is great as well. I'd never really heard Comet Gain before, but they make really sweet lo-fi pop songs. I can tell that I'll get a lot of listens out of "Broken Record Prayers" this summer. My favorite tracks so far, besides "Jack Nance Hair," are "You Can Hide Your Love Forever," "Books of California," and "Asleep on the Snow." Check out Comet Gain if you haven't already! I believe they have been around for a while, in which case they are very underrated.

Listen to Comet Gain HERE.

Love is a Mixtape

I have a LOT of playlists on my iTunes. I have a few Smart Playlists, made up of my most recent singles and another of my most recent albums, and then a third which is a combination of the two. Then I also have a few "best of" mixes to showcase the good cuts off of new albums. Plus I have quite a few "car mixes" which are different from regular mixes in that there is no mood or order- just a set of good songs that have been stuck in my head lately. The rest of my playlists are precisely curated mixes that I spend literally hours creating. I usually make one or two a season, and, depending on the quality, I'll listen to it for months afterward. Some are better than others. I still consider last summer's mix, titled "A Waste of Time," the best mixtape I've ever made. The songs on it completely define summer for me, and I think I listened to it every single day. One year later, it still isn't old.

"A Waste of Time" includes songs from Nada Surf, Feist, Coldplay, Iron & Wine, the Whigs, Sun Kil Moon, and ten others. Since I've listened to this mix so many times, it's now difficult to listen to each song individually or in the context of its original album. I just prefer it on the mix. I worked really hard on making smooth transitions between each song, and I'm amazed that I went from Santogold to Elliott Smith in four moves, and they still sounds great and fluid together.

I'm currently working on a new summer mix for 2009, but I don't think it will ever live up to '08's. I'll be sure to post it when it's finished, though.

Here's a tracklist for "A Waste of Time." If you'd like me to mail you a copy, complete with homemade album art, feel free to shoot me an email.

Excuses, Excuses

The reason I've been posting way less lately is that school has been crazy for the past few weeks. Not to worry, I'll be back in full force soon.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bruce Springsteen LIVE at the Verizon Center- 5/18/09

I know this review is almost a week late, but whatever...

The morning after Bruce Springsteen's killer performance at the Super Bowl, my friend Jenna and I ran to the newspaper room at school, logged on to a computer, and bought tickets to see his show at the Verizon Center at precisely 10:00AM. I was on the phone with my dad, who was at home, and had instructions to do the same thing, and we compared which seats each of us got. My dad was shut out, but Jenna and I nabbed tickets in the second tier. After service charges, each was about $120, which beats Kanye West for the most I've ever spent on a ticket.

Luckily, it was worth it. I'm by no means a diehard Springsteen fan, but seeing him live was an incredible experience that even I could appreciate. Bruce and the E Street Band went on stage at about 8:20 and didn't stop playing for a full three hours. With a lot of shows, I'm ready for the set to end at about the two hour mark, but with Bruce, I could have stayed hours longer. Even with an average age of 58, the E Street Band had more energy than most college-aged dance bands. The performed wonderfully together (duh, they're all extremely talented) and they seemed to be having the time of their lives on stage.

Based on my experience with concerts in sports arenas, I wasn't expecting too much crowd interaction. However, Bruce interacted more with the audience than bands in even the smallest venues. He shook hands, walked around the floor, and, in my favorite part of the show, took requests. People on the floor held up colorful signs with requests on them and Bruce ran around picking them up. Then, he sifted through them and chose which the band would play. The most memorable (besides "Hava Nagila," of course) was a sign that said "Jonas Brothers, Shmonas Brothers. Cool 9-year-olds like 'Out In the Street.'" Seeing this sign, Bruce called out to whoever made it, and then proceeded to lift the adorable 9-year-old girl on stage and let her sing part of the song. Jenna and I agree that this will probably be the number one moment of her life forever, surpassing her wedding day and birth of any children. She got to sing with Bruce! Nothing beats that!

My favorite song of the show was "Rosalita," which Bruce played last after seeing a sign that said "Obama called, he wants Rosie." It was the final song of the finale, and a great way to end the night.

Despite loving the show, I have two main gripes. First of all, the sound was a bit muddy, especially in the beginning. Instruments bled into each other making some songs relatively unlistenable. The sound either improved as the night went on, or I stopped caring. My second complaint is that "Working On A Dream" is a pretty bad album, and every time the band played cuts from it, it was clear that people just cared less. Boo.

Anyway...great show, great experience. I can now cross "See Bruce Springsteen" off my Life List. But before I do that I need to add "See Bruce Springsteen Again."

No Surrender
Outlaw Pete
She's the One
Working on a Dream
Johnny 99
The Ghost of Tom Joad
Raise Your Hand
Out in the Street
Little Latin Lupe Lu
Hava Nagila/Blinded By the Light
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
The Wrestler
Kingdom of Days
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born to Run
* * *
Hard Times
Kitty's Back
Land of Hope and Dreams
American Land

Summer Concert Schedule

I've got a really fun summer lined up with cool internships and a job for three weeks at my favorite place in the world, a camp in Pennsylvania. In addition, I am seeing quite a few concerts. Here's the list so far...

June 8|| The Decemberists w/ Andrew Bird
June 9|| TV on the Radio w/ the Dirty Projectors
June 11|| Taylor Swift
July 8|| Wilco w/ Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band
July 11|| Bugs Bunny Live!
July 29|| Fleet Foxes
July 30|| M. Ward
August 5|| Slightly Stoopid w/ Snoop Dogg
August 7|| O.A.R. w/ Matt Nathanson
August 15|| Phish

Pretty much all of those, except for Fleet Foxes, are definites. Hopefully I'll also see the Killers, Rock the Bells, and anything else that comes up. Plus I might see Passion Pit instead of TVOTR if I can find someone to go with me...

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Plethora of MGMT Covers

You know how every year there are a few songs that EVERYBODY feels the need to cover? In the past, such songs have included Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" and Rihanna's "Umbrella." Lately, I've been seeing a lot of MGMT covers. Even though "Oracular Spectacular" has been out for over a year, it's only recently started to hit the mainstream. Thus, Katy Perry and Weezer have felt inclined to put their stamp on "Electric Feel" and "Kids," respectively. As expected, the Katy Perry one sucks and the Weezer one is passable. Also I'm throwing in a cover of "Electric Feel" that a bunch of sophomores did at my school's talent show.

Electric Feel (MGMT cover)- Katy Perry

Saturday, May 16, 2009

New Live Coldplay- LeftRightLeftRightLeft

Coldplay just kicked off yet another tour, signifying the third Viva La Vida tour I have not been able to attend. I have a theory that the bands hates me. For last summer's tour, I was able to go, but then they rescheduled to the day after I left to work in PA. For their fall tour, the show was the night before I had to take the SAT. This time around, it's on a Thursday night the same week that I'm seeing Bruce Springsteen (my parents don't let me see concerts on weeknighs, so Bruce is a big deal) and the same night as my school's Spring Fair, which I help organize. So yeah, they hate me.

For this tour, Chris Martin & Co. put together a live album called "LeftRightLeftRightLeft," which they will be giving away for free at shows and for free download for those they hate/can't attend. I just downloaded it this morning and I loooove it. I am an unabashed Coldplay fan and as someone who has only heard stories of their live show (After I missed last summer's tour, my friend sent me a pages long email complete with setlist, her song-by-song review, and a link to videos. It's why we're friends.) this album will have to do. It's great to hear them sounding so good live, and the crowd seems really into it (necessary). I'm so glad that they included "Strawberry Swing," which might be my favorite track off of "Viva La Vida" (it's definitely my most-listened).

Download it now HERE.

The link's been a bit testy, but I'm sure if you google around, you can find a torrent of it.

Passion Pit vs. MGMT

While MGMT's "Oracular Spectacular" was one of the best reviewed albums last year, but looking back, I'm not sure if it deserved all of the praise. "Kids," "Time to Pretend," and "Electric Feel" were all awesome songs (I'd put "Kids" as one of the Top 10 of 2008), but as a whole, the album was a bit spotty. I think that if some tracks were looked at in a test tube, completely separated from the hype of the album, they wouldn't be as well-received. The second half of "Oracular" just feels repetetive- I would personally have enjoyed the album much more if they stopped at "Kids." The first five songs are by far the strongest. Another gripe I have about MGMT is their concern with image. I know a lot of rock n' roll is about image, but I feel that they are so concerned with maintaining status as trippy hippies who never give interviewers straight answers that they don't care if they half-ass an album. They have confidence that hipsters wearing face paint and feathers will still show up for their shows and rave about their records and videos (which consistantly push the bar on ridiculous/bizarre).

This brings me to my next point. Passion Pit, currently one of the most buzzed-about bands around, have been compared a lot to MGMT. I see the resemblance in that both craft trippy electronic jams, but so far, I prefer Passion Pit. PP is much more polished than MGMT, and it seems like they care much more about the quality of the music they put out. Last year's "Chunk of Change" EP didn't have a bad song on it- and "Sleepyhead" was simply mind-blowing. Based on that EP alone, they're only 4 songs short of matching MGMT's repetoire. With PP's album "Manners" to be released Tuesday (May 19), many tracks have already leaked to the web. And, not surprisingly, each is a gem. "Moth's Wings" is an almost-anthemic joint that seamlessly blends organic vocals and beats with synthetic dribbles and drones. "Little Secrets" kicks off like the soundtrack to a vintage Nintendo game and then becomes a syrupy sing-along banger. The last song I've heard off of "Manners" is "The Reeling," a thumping jam with breezy vocals and heavy synths overlapping a thrashing beat. Each of these songs is just so well-crafted; they set Passion Pit miles above MGMT. [Plus, in reference to my complaint about MGMT's image concern, Passion Pit just look like a group of regular guys trying to make some good songs. Can't complain.]

Moth's Wings- Passion Pit
Little Secrets- Passion Pit
Sleepyhead- Passion Pit

Friday, May 15, 2009

Adventures in Atlanta

My sister graduated from college last weekend, so my family went down to Atlanta. Here's my weekend in music:

Most listened album: Only Way To Be Alone- Good Old War (runner-up: It's Blitz!- Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
Most listened song: Hysteric- Yeah Yeah Yeahs (runner-up: Glad Girls- Guided By Voices)
Songs heard performed by an a capella group: I think about 8, including Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," Chris Brown's "Kiss Kiss," and Blackstreet's "No Diggity."
Record Stores Visited: One- Decatur CD. It was a pretty cool little shop. Mostly CD's, but also a fairly good collection of new and noteworthy vinyl. The walls were covered in signed Wilco posters, which, in my book, is enough to make me love a store.
Albums bought: Just one, and not even a full album- Fleet Foxes's new Mykonos 7''.
Artists Met: One- Annie Clark of St. Vincent! After buying the Fleet Foxes 7'' at Decatur CD, I was waiting outside for my dad and brother to finish up. A group of four or five (including an adorable baby!) were walking past and they started laughing and pointing to something inside the store. I had a weird feeling I recognized one of the women, and once one of the men said, "Hey Annie, it's you!" [in reference to her face, plastered on the front of her fantastic new album "Actor"] I knew it was in fact St. Vincent. When I asked if she was, they all laughed and said yes. The whole group was very friendly and left me smiling. I was definitely starstruck! And yes, Annie is as pretty in person as she is on the covers of her albums.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


One of my favorite music magazines, Paste, is lacking in funds. I've been a subscriber for a few years now and I would say that of all the magazines I read, Paste most closely follows my music taste.

SO. Donate now, and help save this great magazine! No matter how much you donate, you get entered in contests to win sweet stuff and you get 70 free, unreleased or rare MP3's from artists such as She & Him, Umphrey's McGee, and the Avett Brothers.


Stream Wilco (the album)!!!!!!!



Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Access Hollywood

My school's talent show is a really big deal. The school and crew spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on lighting and sound equipment. This trend began in 2004, when senior Andrew Maury, the director (the entire production is student-run), decided to make the best show ever. His theme was "I Want My MTV,” and the three-night sell-out show blew everybody away. Since then, “I Want My MTV” has been the show to beat.

This year’s theme was “Access Hollywood,” and I would say that it is one of the best since Andrew’s. The bands this year were awesome, across the board, and every style of music was represented. People played everything from Radiohead, Jason Mraz, and blink-182 to the Swell Season and Old Crow Medicine Show.

Below is the playlist of the songs bands played. That’s all…

***I'll write more on Andrew Maury at a later date. He's gone on to be the sound technician for Ra Ra Riot and a member of the Remix Artist Collective.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


see ya soon.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Lemonheads, Before Sunrise

I'm halfway through watching Richard Linklater's 1995 talkfest, "Before Sunrise." I've never seen it before, but so far I love it. Last night I watched the trailer (I am obsessed with movie trailers, I have to see one for every movie I watch. Sorry.) and I noticed a really good song about halfway through. After some thorough Googling and scouring through YouTube comments, I discovered that the song in question is "Into Your Arms" by the Lemonheads.

The Lemonheads is one of those bands that I am always reading about and being told to listen to, but I never get around to doing it. Last night I got their album "It's A Shame About Ray" after also downloading "Into Your Arms." So far, I've given it two listens and I loooove it. This is just the kind of music I like. Really basic alternative rock with hooky choruses and good lyrics. They remind me a bit of The Dismemberment Plan and R.E.M.- definitely a product of the 90's.

Into Your Arms (Live)- The Lemonheads
It's A Shame About Ray (Live)- The Lemonheads

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ten Questions with Joe Pug

I love me a good singer-songwriter, but I'm the first one to admit that sometimes all of those "next-Dylans" start to blur together. Everybody has good lyrics, everybody's got a good-bad voice, and everybody strums their acoustic guitar with their heart on their flannel sleeve.

However, Joe Pug is different. He is not just a good singer-songwriter, he is a great singer-songwriter, and easily the best I've heard in a long, long time. A few years ago, Pug left the University of North Carolina, where he was studying to be a playwright, and drove to Chicago to pursue a music career. His experience as a writer first is very apparent through the weary, earnest lyrics found on his EP, "Nation of Heat." The best thing about Pug's music, in my opinion, is his world-worn voice, which drifts effortlessly from strained despair to smooth, fluid intensity.

On "Hymn #101," my favorite track off the EP, Pug is accompanied only by a finger-picked acoustic guitar. However, this does not keep him from matching the emotional resonance of the most epic anthem.

I had a chance to ask Joe Pug a few questions, so I sent him one of my favorite question sets- James Lipton's from "Inside The Actor's Studio."

1. What is your favorite word? Fortune.

2. What is your least favorite word? Organic.

3. What turns you on? Thighs.

4. What turns you off? Speaking without thinking.

5. What is your favorite curse word? Whore.

6. What sound or noise do you love? The sound of fresh bills being counted.

7. What sound or noise do you hate? Police sirens.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Point guard in the NBA developmental league.

9. What profession would you not like to attempt? Cold-call sales.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? "Bravo!"

Thanks Joe!

For more on Joe Pug, check out his:
catch him on tour (for DC folks, he'll be at the Black Cat on May 14!)

Hymn 101- Joe Pug

Warmer Weather

The weather is getting much, much warmer and with sunnier days comes sunnier music. Here's some of what I've been listening to lately, or just general songs I associate with summertime.

Send Me On My Way- Rusted Root
7 Stars- The Apples In Stereo
Strawberry Swing- Coldplay
Ramona- Guster

All At Sea- Jamie Cullum
The Joker- Steve Miller Band
Better Together- Jack Johnson
Semi-Charmed Life- Third Eye Blind
Closet- Pete Yorn

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I'm The New Blue Mood, I'm The Great White Hope

Two years after its release, The National's "Boxer" still floors me. I think it's one of the best albums I've ever heard. The songwriting is incredible; not only are the lyrics some of my favorites (I can't decipher them for my life, but the way they put their words together just sounds so good), but I find the composition and arrangements of instrumentals sounds almost classical in form. Rather than being just a guitar band or a keyboard band, The National utilize every instrument in their arsenal. "Fake Empire" is rooted in a rich piano strain, "Mistaken for Strangers" builds on jagged, industrial guitar, "Green Gloves" is atmospheric and acoustic, and thumping, rapid drums fuel "Squalor Victoria."

Anyway, before last year I had never listened to any of The National's music besides "Boxer." I think I loved "Boxer" so much, I was afraid that anything else I heard would not live up it. However, I finally got around to buying the "Cherry Tree" EP and "Alligator." While both are less polished than "Boxer," the roughness does not at all detract from the pure beauty of the music. Off "Cherry Tree," "About Today" is my favorite. Off "Alligator," I have "Mr. November" on repeat. Also, I am obsessed with "So Far Around the Bend," The National's track from the fantastic compilation "Dark Was The Night" (which the band was instrumental in organizing).

About Today- The National
So Far Around the Bend- The National
Mr. November- The National

Lisztomania/Breakfast Club


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Your Guide To the Twitterverse: Musician Editions

Since Twitter is apparently taking over the universe, I think it's important that I educate you all on the best musicians to follow. Get a-twitterin'...

Lily Allen: Lily is currently on tour, so her tweets are mostly rhyming riddles leading fans to spots where she has hidden pairs of tickets.

Jay Reatard: Pretty average tweets about his day-to-day routine. Lots of comments about food and music, plus odd punctuation use.

Edward Droste (of Grizzly Bear): Fantasizes about rolling in Wayne Coyne's hamster ball and posts tour/album announcements. Also tweets about strollin' through NYC.

Colin Meloy: Mourns closing book stores, makes up NPR names, celebrates Record Store Day. Pretty much exactly how you would imagine Colin Meloy's mind working.

John Mayer: Enthusiastic, self-absorbed and funny. Lately he's been hosting contests to see the unusual tattoos (and offering signed guitars or handwritten song lyrics as prizes!).

Amanda Palmer: Currently, lots and lots of Coachella updates! Other than that, lots of pictures and sarcasm.

Ted Leo: Favorite songs, pictures of his travels, funny exchanges with other tweeters.

Asher Roth: Weed, sports, and self-promotion.

D.A. Wallach (of Chester French): Pretty much just self-promotion.

Skye Skjelset (of Fleet Foxes): From-the-road tour updates, gets really excited about seeing Natalie Portman walking her dog.

Robin Pecknold
(of Fleet Foxes): From-the-road tour updates, favorite movies, puppy-love for Leonard Cohen.

Mates of State: Commentary on favorite cities, cute motivational sayings.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Get On Out for Record Store Day!

It's tomorrow!

Here's some of the goodies that will be on sale at stores...CLICK

more info...CLICK

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Neko Case on Letterman

Neko performed "This Tornado Loves You" on the Late Show last night. She killed it and looked awesome at the same time.

Doctor Rosen Rosen Remixes Eminem

For every Top 40 hit there are at least 100 remixes, but only a handful are ever worth giving a listen. Earlier this year when Britney's "Womanizer" was dominating the charts, I heard remixes left and right, but most were stale takes on the already awesome (Don't dispute this. Fact.) original. However, Doctor Rosen Rosen produced one that caught my ears- in fact, I've listened to it more than the original. DRR also produced a remix on a song I felt should never be tampered with- Department of Eagles's "1997." Of course he pulled it off though, and it's awesome.

Anyway, DRR is at it again with a remix of Eminem's latest, "We Made You." DRR's version transforms what was a tacky, carnival tune into a grimy electronic jam splattered with synth jabs and thick beats. Honestly, I hate "We Made You" (Worst lyrics of 2009. Fact.) but DRR's take is so cool and creative I can't help but love it.

Get it off zShare HERE.
To hear Doctor Rosen Rosen's other remixes, check out his MYSPACE.

New Death Cab- The Open Door EP

Death Cab for Cutie's "Narrow Stairs," the muscular, hook-filled follow-up to their major label debut, "Plans," was one of my favorite albums of 2008- and probably my most-listened. It is one of those albums that progresses in a positive musical direction without abandoning what made the band great in the first place.

"The Open Door," the new five-song EP from Death Cab, keeps the robust hooks and textured arrangements that made "Narrow Stairs" such a pleasure to listen to. While many EP's are just throwaway B-sides from an album, the four new tracks on "Door" sound just as strong, if not stronger, than any song off of "Stairs."

"Little Bribes" kicks the EP off with a jaunty march propelled by Jason McGerr's throbbing drums and Ben Gibbard's heart-on-sleeve lyrics. Gibbard is a very skilled songwriter, but his lyrics are usually only recognized on acoustic ballads like "I Will Follow You Into The Dark." On this EP, though, his lyrical ability is on full display, as are his signature lilting vocals. On "A Diamond and A Tether," Gibbard ruminates on his fear of relationships with lines like, "I've got this habit I abhor/ When we go out I'm always watching the door/ As if there's someone I'm gonna see who could outdo the things you could do to me," and "You can't hold out forever/ Waiting on a diamond and a tether/ From a boy who won't jump when he falls in love/ He just stands with his toes on the edge/ And he waits for it to disappear again." Gibbard continues to express anxiety over commitment on the aching, jagged "My Mirror Speaks." Above layers of chugging bass (courtesy of Nick Harmer) and Chris Walla's lushly arranged guitars, Gibbard delivers his lines with stinging lamentation. Death Cab is a traditionally melancholy band, so even their upbeat songs are coated in a Smiths-esque blanket of remorse. "I Was Once A Loyal Lover" epitomizes this with neurotic, diary-worthy lyrics washing over its buoyant sound. Closing out the EP is the ukulele-accompanied demo version of "Talking Bird." On "Stairs," "Talking Bird" was heavy and sluggish, but here it's charming and wistful.

"The Open Door" EP is a perfect follow-up to "Narrow Stairs," so much so that it feels more like an extension of the album than a collection of songs salvaged from the cutting room floor.

Favorite Line: "All my friends are forward thinking/ Getting hitched and quitting drinking." (from "I Was Once a Loyal Lover")

I Was Once A Loyal Lover- Death Cab for Cutie


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Dave Matthews Band- Funny The Way It Is

DMB is one of my favorite bands to listen to in the summer, so this new single couldn't come at a better time. "Funny The Way It Is" is off the the upcoming "Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King," an album recorded in tribute to late band member LeRoi Moore. So far, so good. "Funny" is a available as a free download HERE so get it while it's hot!

Also, check out the trailer for the album right here:

Also, "Big Whiskey" is now in the running for my favorite cover art of the year.

Crooked Fingers feat. Neko Case- Your Control

When I saw Neko Case last week, Will Sheff opened, but for most of her current tour, Crooked Fingers is the opening act. I'd never heard of Crooked Fingers before but I looked into them (a friend of Neko is a friend of mine!) and I found this awesome track called "Your Control" featuring Neko. It's a pretty straight-up pop rock song but as usual, Neko's voice brings it to the next level. "Your Control" inspired to me to look into other Crooked Fingers songs. This is definitely a band I can see myself getting into. Now I sorta wish I had seen both night of Neko so that I could have heard CF live!

Your Control (feat. Neko Case)- Crooked Fingers
Call To Love- Crooked Fingers

Monday, April 13, 2009

Susan Boyle. No Words.


Demetri Martin Live at the Warner Theater- 4/11/09

When Mitch Hedberg died in 2005, he left behind a void in the comedy world for witty, observational one-liners to be told with awkward bemusement. While no one can ever live up to Hedberg's legacy in that department, Demetri Martin is doing a pretty good job. Through his stand-up shows and his great Comedy Central series "Important Things with Demetri Martin," Martin has breathed new life into the genre. During his show Saturday at the Warner Theater, Martin's one-liners were on full, hilarious display.

Taking the stage at promptly 10:30 while wearing a white t-shirt with the slogan "Person" in block letters, Martin had the crowd at "Hello." His jokes, told at a steady pace but leaving enough room in between to allow for laughter from the audience, were spot on and fresh- there were only three or four repeats from his show.

When Martin moved to his signature "Large Pad," a, duh, large pad of paper, to do jokes centered around minimalistic charts and sketches, the fanboys in the audience went crazy with anticipation. They were appeased when jokes about correlations between karaoke and skiing (both are more entertaining when the person is either amazing or awful) were hysterical. Similarly, when Martin grabbed his guitar or sat down at his keyboard to perform jokes with musical accompaniment and crowd was extremely appreciative and Martin returned the favor with more witty lines. Toward the end of the set he took requests for old and popular jokes. Despite the fact that I'd already heard them, I couldn't help but laugh more. His observations are still funny the third time over.

I know some people who don't care for Martin's comedy, but I find him easy to love. Between his moptop haircut and smiling delivery, I can't help but laugh at everything that comes out of his mouth. He just seems like the type of person you always want to be hanging out with. He even has no douchebag tolerance! There were a few loudmouthed drunks present at the show who kept shouting things at him, but Demetri's responses were always dead-on and hilarious. When one girl was shouting something about her fiance, Martin asked her name, she said "Katherine." He responded saying, "Katherine with a 'K,' a 'C,' or a 'S-H-U-T-U-P'?" When a few guys in the balcony were shouting annoyingly, Martin asked if there was a douchebag-only entrance in the back that he was unaware of.

Anyway, my friends and I laughed for a solid two hours during the show to the point that our torsos were hurting. If you aren't already a follower, check out Demetri's Comedy Central show (it just ended but I'm sure there will be re-runs this summer).

**I know this isn't a music review, but he played guitar and stuff so it counts!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

New St. Vincent Video- Actor Out Of Work

I've always heard really good things about St. Vincent but of the clips and tracks I've heard of her music, I've never loved it. However, I heard some good things about her upcoming album, "Actor," so I decided to give her music a second chance. I'm glad I did. The latest song of hers is "Actor Out Of Work." The juxtaposition of the chunky, distorted guitar and synth behind her sweet, airy vocals makes for a really funky tune. I've fallen in love with this song and it's inspired me to go looking for the rest of her stuff.

Also, I love the music video. It features actors trying to cry on command while Annie Clark (St. Vincent) sings with a straight yet dramatic face (if that makes any sense...). It reminds me a lot of this short film on Encyclopedia Pictura called "The Competition" where people compete to cry on command. To reach "The Competition," go to Encyclopedia Picture, then click HTML (or Flash, doesn't matter I guess), then click "Working With Wholphin," then click "The Competition."

Actor Out Of Work- St. Vincent

Under the Covers #2

Some covers for Easter! Enjoy.

Live Your Life (T.I. feat. Rihanna cover)- Just Jack: The British singer-songwriter (who reminds me of Jack Penate to no end) did a pretty good job covering T.I./Rihanna's summer hit. He brings the tempo down but does his best to rap. The results are surprisingly not-awful. Probably just because his accent is cute. Whatevskis.
Live Your Life (T.I./Rihanna cover)- Just Jack

Every Breath You Take (Police cover)- Frankmusik: I posted about new electronic/dance artist Frankmusik one or two weeks ago and since then I've discovered this cover of the Police classic. I'm not sure I like it enough but it's a pretty original take with a strong 80's vibe.
Every Breath You Take (Police cover)- Frankmusik [MediaFire link]

(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding (Elvis Costello cover)- Chris Cornell: While Chris Cornell's latest album, "Scream," is a laughable collaboration with Timbaland, it's important to remember that Cornell actually was an actual artist with actual talent. I love this cover of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding," which is arguably my favorite Elvis Costello song (and that is a close race, let me tell you).
Peace, Love, and Understanding (Elvis Costello cover)- Chris Cornell

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (Smiths cover)- Death Cab for Cutie: Covering the Smiths is a risky business indeed. Morrissey's voice is so integral to the band's sound that hearing another voice sing his music oftentimes sounds so wrong I just need to shut it off. That being said, I actually really enjoy this cover of "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" by Death Cab for Cutie. It's interesting because as I would say that Morrissey's voice is necessary for the Smiths, Ben Gibbard's voice is equally essential to Death Cab's sound.
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (The Smiths cover)- Death Cab for Cutie

Speaking of covers, I'll be posting a review of the new Tera Melos cover EP, "Idioms Vol. I" so stay tuned!

Yeah Yeah Yeahs on SNL

Yeah Yeah Yeahs performed last night on SNL and played new killer single "Zero" as well as old classic "Maps." The sounds wasn't superb on either, but they band sounded awesome nonetheless. Nick Zinner's shredding on "Maps" was awesome and I was glad to see Karen O. sporting the studded "KO" leather jacket from the "Zero" music video. Seeing them on SNL has only added to my anticipation for the band to release tour dates!!!! MP3's of the performance below for your iPod enjoyment.

Zero (Live at SNL)- Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Maps (Live at SNL)- Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rivers Cuomo & Rainn Wilson Collaborate...Sort of...

Rainn Wilson (Dwight from the Office) has great taste in music, as evidenced by many comments on his Twitter account and via interviews. He and Rivers Cuomo got together to cover Joan Osbourne's "One Of Us." I think it's funny that they're dubbing it a duet because all Rainn does is play the bongos. Some other guy (who is not credited, poor soul) does all the guitar work. Anyway, it's not a terrible cover. Thoughts?

One Of Us- Rivers Cuomo & Rainn Wilson

Also, I think it's worth noting that if Cuomo and Wilson got together for a band they could call themselves Rivers & Rainn. Suhweeeeet.

Neko Case Live MP3's

In case you don't feel like listening to the entire NPR podcast of Neko Case's Thursday night show at the 9:30 Club, here's a few MP3's. Which should then entice you to listen to the whole show.

Maybe Sparrow (Live)- Neko Case
People Got A Lotta Nerve (Live)- Neko Case
The Pharaohs (Live)- Neko Case
Middle Cyclone (Live)- Neko Case

I've spliced the entire podcast and turned them into MP3's so if anyone is interested in a CD copy of the show, just shoot me an email.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Neko Case Live at the 9:30 Club- 4/9/09

For those who don't know me well, allow me to get some things out in the open: I'm completely obsessed with Neko Case. I want to be her friend, I want to be a member of her band, I want to be HER.

Anyway. Neko performed two nights straight in support of her latest incredible album "Middle Cyclone." I saw her tonight (I am writing this immediately after the Thursday is late...) and she killed it.

But more on that in a minute. First, let's talk about Okkervil River's Will Sheff, who opened the night with seven or eight song set of Okkervil River favorites. Sheff performed most of the tunes with just an acoustic guitar, but an electric guitarist joined him for the last few (I believe the man's name was Phil because I recall a joke about naming their two-man band "Okkerphil River"). Performing with such little accompaniment, Sheff's great songwriting ability was on full display. Songs like "Plus Ones" and "Pop Lie" sounded slightly more intimate, despite Sheff strumming furiously and singing with his signature bleating vocals, while "Lost Coastlines" and set-closer "Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe" were surprisingly muscular despite the two-dude line-up. The rough edges of the songs live made the tracks seem more like unpolished garage-rock than the high-concept, well-orchestrated folk-pop from Okkervil River albums. "On Tour With Zykos" and "Just Give Me Time" were hushed and gorgeous on stage but the chatty crowd made it hard to appreciate them. One audience member mentioned loudly that Okkervil River makes him want to "shoot himself in the face." I respectfully disagree, sir. I thoroughly enjoyed Will Sheff's set and it made me excited to see him perform with the full band.

Then came Neko.

As she sings in one of my favorite tracks off of "Middle Cyclone," Neko Case is an animal, indeed. Dressed in all-black but sporting her signature mane of red hair in an untamed, tangled mess , Case looked like the tiger she sings about the haunting "The Tigers Have Spoken." Unlike that tiger, however, Neko is unchained and completely wild. Between her awkward but hilarious stage banter about making out with the Grim Reaper and breaking her nose, she sang with such a pure, mesmerizing clarity that I was captivated from the first note of "Maybe Sparrow" up through the last punch of "Knock Loud."

It's tough to say where Neko Case is most in her element. She is equally rousing in garage-band jams like "Red Tide" and "Fever" as she is stunning in slower ballads like "I Wish I Was The Moon" and "Middle Cyclone." It really just comes down to, as usual, the voice. Every time she opened her mouth to belt a note I could feel the anticipation in the room- everyone was waiting to hear that ribbon of voice that was strong and gentle and quiet and loud and war and peace all at once. Every note she sang was so emotive and gorgeous that the songs were completely transformed.

"Prison Girls," the spooky dirge from "Middle Cyclone," was so haunting live that I got goosebumps. Of the covers she played, Harry Nilsson cover "Don't Forget Me" became an intimate, loungey love song (as the song started and Case stood beneath the soft blue lights, she cheekily dedicated the song to "my darling Harry") and "Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth" transformed into a rough, spirited folk song. "This Tornado Loves You" was especially invigorating live. It felt urgent and sincere despite being a love song written from the perspective of a natural disaster.

I could go on like this about everything Neko Case sang- it was all gorgeous and spell-binding. Hearing her sing made me think of how I watched American Idol for the first time in years on Tuesday night. All of the performers had such bland voices already, but compared to Case's, they sound like how oatmeal would if it could sing. Boring, mushy, and all the same. I'd never seen Neko live before but now I've fallen in love. She's incredibly dynamic and talented and all that and more comes across brilliantly on stage.

Of course I can't mention the show without giving props to her fantastic band (I don't know if they're still called her Boyfriends, so I'll just say they're her band). Each member ebbed and flowed perfectly with Case and they had the flawless synergy of a band who has been playing together for decades.

In case you didn't figure it out from the above love letter, GO SEE NEKO CASE LIVE NOW. She is a force of nature.

Also, if you missed the show, stream it on NPR!!! CLICK

**This review rambles a lot etc. but in my defense it is one in the morning and I am exhausted. Goodnight.

***If anyone's interested in the set list (for Will Sheff or Neko Case) email me- I got both.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

New Conor Oberst! And Not One Day Too Soon.

Conor Oberst's self-titled solo debut was one of my favorite albums last year. I loved his more energetic country leanings and his meat-and-potatoes arrangements. For me, "Conor Oberst" was one of those albums that I could listen to in pretty much any mood.

Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band are releasing another album, "Outer South," on May 5. Some bloggers are noting/whining that he has not waited very long between albums and that he's going to be the next Ryan Adams, but the way I see it, more music is always a good thing, especially if it's from an artist as talented as Oberst. Plus, I love Ryan Adams and can't complain about any of his albums.

Based on the first two songs released off the album, "Slowly (Oh So Slowly)" and "Nikorette," "Outer South" is going to be super-duper. Can't wait yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!!

Nikorette- Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band

However, if this alone does not satiate your Conor craving, get pumped for "One of My Kind," the hour-long documentary that looks at Obert & Co.'s touring adventures from the past year. BUT WAIT IT GETS BETTER! The documentary will be available as a FREEEEEE stream or download on all of these site:,,,, and


On the Rise: Now, Now Every Children

When they were teenagers in Blaine, Minnesota, Cacie Dalager and Brad Hale would assemble after marching band practice to write songs. It's not hard to picture the pair hunched over drums sets and crouched with guitars, recording demos in the cramped basements of their suburban homes. However, Dalager and Hale's band, Now, Now Every Children, has a sound that is anything but cramped. NNEC stack crunchy, fuzzed-out guitars on top of ethereal keyboards and, in what is the only hint of marching band influence, pounding snares to create expansive lo-fi gems that are more textured than what one expects from such a tiny line-up. After listening to tracks such as "Everyone You Know," it's impossible not to note the aching vocals, courtesy of Dalager. She sings with an unforced emotion that recalls Karen O. on "Maps," adding the essential "It" factor to separate NNEC from the pack.

Cars- Now, Now Every Children


No Shame- Snow Patrol

**Part of a new column where I talk about musical pleasures that I am not at all guilty about.**

I don't care if this makes you dislike me as a person/you stop reading my blog- I really like Snow Patrol. I have listened to "Eyes Open" and "Final Straw" many, many times, and enjoyed both many, many times. In fact, "Eyes Open" was probably my favorite (and most-listened) album in 9th grade.

Anyway, when I saw Snow Patrol in concert two years ago, I was blown away. My friends and I got to the venue (which was actually the basketball arena at a local university) hours before doors opened. After playing countless rounds of Egyptian Rat Screw and War and befriending the girls behind us in line, the line started moving and we ran to get a good spot in the arena. And, of course, we did. We were front and center for the whole show.

The first act was Silversun Pickups. They played the very loud, very distorted pop that made "Carnavas" such a masterpiece with incredible energy, giving the show a huge kick in the right direction.

Then came OK Go. I had never seen them live before, but my friends and I instantly fell in love (especially with frontman Damien Kulash, who later stage-dove right on top of us. Awesome.). We danced and sang-along throughout their entire set and by the time they were done playing the lively, dynamic power-pop the group is known for, we were pleastantly exhausted.

Then, of course, came Snow Patrol. WOW. I still remember their set perfectly even though it was a full two years ago. The whole thing, from first note to last "Goodnight DC!" was spell-binding. Each song packed such a powerful punch of emotion that it sounded simutaneously like we were listening to the music through headphones alone and in a massive stadium. I've only heard U2 live once (when they played two songs at the "We Are One" concert for Barack Obama in January) but that is the best comparison I can make. Everyone in the room was captivated by their music. If frontman Gary Lightbody held his hands up during a song, each member of the devoted crowd would do the same. At one point, Lightbody copped a move frmo OK Go and asked the audience to hold up their cellphones for "Chasing Cars." My friends and I turned around to see if people complied, and yes, they most definitely did. The effect was mesmerizing. Not only was the massive audience singing every word of the (call it sappy, whatever...) single, every fan was holding a glowing little light that transformed what could have been an average concert moment into a simply perfect four minutes. Seeing Snow Patrol live, especially at the height of my fandom, felt like a religious experience.

While my love for the band has waned (Don't even bother with their new album, "A Hundred Million Suns." Ugh.) this show still stands as one of the best I've ever seen. Now, listening to "Eyes Open" after hearing the album live is difficult to do. I'm always taken back to that arena and reminded that everything sounded a million times better in those few hours.

Free Faaaaaallin'!

I love Tom Petty, so, DUH, I love "Free Fallin'". Here are some great covers of that song for no particular reason. Enjoy!

If I Have to Listen to Any 5 Okkervil River Songs...

I just found out that Will Sheff, the talented frontman of Okkervil River, will be opening for Neko Case tonight. I have two OR albums, "The Stand Ins" and "The Stage Names." Unfortunately I've never really gotten into either.
What are the five Okkervil Rivers songs I must hear before seeing Will Sheff play tonight??

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Bat for Lashes...???

I don't "get" Bat for Lashes. Since her 2006 debut studio album "Fur and Gold," there has been considerable buzz surrounding the British singer-songwriter (birth name: Natasha Khan) but I just have never understood it. I don't care for her music, which, to me, seems pretentious and nearly unlistenable. Khan's whole "art-school" vibe is so overwrought, and I feel like anyone could produce a similar sound with a tambourine and their Mac's GarageBand effects. As for her overall aesthetic, throw on an ironic gem sweater, paint your face, and there you go. Her new album, "Two Suns" is all over the blogs these days, but after a few via-YouTube listens of songs like "Daniel," all I have to say is...yawn. Everything sounds like everything else. The only thing I have to say in Kahn's defense is that the video for "What's A Girl to Do?" is pretty cool.

Anyone care to stick up for her/explain to me what I'm missing?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Ben Folds Gets A Capella

My secret: I LOVE college a capella groups. Sometimes when I'm bored, I just go on YouTube and look for good groups doing songs I like. It's probably my guiltiest pleasure. But a pleasure nonetheless. So, when I heard that Ben Folds would be compiling an album of college groups performing his songs, I was super-duper excited. I love Ben Folds, Ben Folds loves a capella, and based on what I've found via my YouTube raids, college a capella groups love him right back.

"University A Capella" will be released at the end of the month. For now, enjoy this MP3 of The Spartones performing "Not The Same."

Not The Same- The Spartones

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Half A Person can now be found at

On the Rise: The Jakes

My brother goes to college in California and he referred me to a great band from Newport Beach called The Jakes. The Jakes play muscular garage pop that often veers into arena-rock territory, resulting in a Kings of Leon for the west coast. Rather than Kings of Leon's odes to Manhattan however, The Jakes's compositions are shimmering anthems that could soundtrack a night in downtown L.A. for Lauren Conrad & Co. While probably too commericial sounding for the average indie-head, I can see The Jakes gaining ground on the charts soon- their sound is definitely radio-ready.

For fans of: Kings of Leon, We Are Scientists, OneRepublic, Jimmy Eat World

Cough Syrup- The Jakes


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Harlem Shakes Will Make You Shake.

I read a piece on Harlem Shakes's performance at SXSW and the author mentioned that a member of the band is actually a music critic. After reading this, I imagined the music would be overwrought and contrived- a music critic trying to be the next TV on the Radio and please his peers. However, the Harlem Shakes are quite the opposite. Their songs are light, airy swirls of pop laced with piano flourishes, horn jabs and the occasional disorted undertone. Vocal harmonies are sweet but not cloying, choruses are catchy but not forcefully so. The shaky Afro-beats feel authentic rather than copped off of Vampire Weekend. Basically, Harlem Shakes just sound like a bunch of guys trying to make some good songs. Mission accomplished. If you're working on your summertime barbeque soundtrack, be sure to use tracks off of the band's new album, "Technicolor Health."

Niagara Falls- Harlem Shakes
Nothing Changes, Pt. II- Harlem Shakes
Strictly Game- Harlem Shakes