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


Monday, March 30, 2009

Spin Tries to Combat the Death of Paper With New Online Ad Campaign

With Blender's death just days ago, alternative music rag Spin is probably feeling the heat (...of paper burning). They've got a pretty sardonic/funny ad campaign up on their site encouraging people to buy the print edition of the magazine. I'm a big supporter of magazines and hard copies of anything, so I too encourage you to buy their magazine. Because no matter how funny the ads are, it's still pretty sad.

Neko Case is Better At Singing Than You

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

The All Points West Line-Up Is Better Than The Line-Up You Were Planning For Your Festival

Well it's true...

The Mary Onettes EXPLODE!

I first heard the Mary Onettes when their song "Explosions" played during a climactic moment of a terrible episode of Grey's Anatomy. I instantly dug their Jesus & Mary Chain-but-poppier sound (listen to the first bit of "Explosions"...very similar/identical to "Just Like Honey," no?). I just heard a new (I think...) track from the Mary Onettes called "Dare" that I like a lot. I first read about it on a blog that compared the track to something from Shout Out Louds, another band I love. I definitely see the comparison.

Dare- The Mary Onettes
Explosions- The Mary Onettes
Just Like Honey- The Jesus & Mary Chain

Also, here's a video, because I can't listen to the Jesus & Mary Chain without thinking of this:

Skeletons- Yeah Yeah Yeahs

My copy of "It's Blitz!" unfortunately has not arrived yet, but I've been streaming the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs record online for days anyway. I love the new direction they've taken- more synth, more dance- more than I expected, and I think it just shows that they are a really dynamic and talented band that can make great music no matter what. One of my favorite tracks off of "It's Blitz" is "Skeletons," an ethereal track fueled by Karen O.'s repetative lyrics, and Brian Chase's pounding, echoing drums. This slow-burn could be the "Maps" of "It's Blitz."

Skeletons- Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Picture from here

Will Sheff of Okkervil River Teaches!

Will Sheff of Okkervil River taught a workshop to a songwriting class at Austin's Bat Cave, a non-profit that teaches offers free writing programs to young students. He also performed my personal favorite OR song, "Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe." Check out those indie kids lovin' it! Jealous.

Okkervil River songwriting workshop at Austin Bat Cave from Austin Bat Cave on Vimeo.


I recently discovered Bill Callahan, a.k.a. Smog, a really great singer-songwriter. He's got really basic melodies but his vocal delivery and the instrumentation is all really beautiful. You may have heard his song "Cold Blooded Old Times" on the High Fidelity soundtrack.

Also, Callahan is releasing a solo album April 14 (without the Smog moniker) titled "Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle." Get excited! Or actually, don't get excited. Callahan's music is all pretty melancholy and might bring you down. Get miserable!

For fans of: The Minus 5, The National, The Dismemberment Plan

Goldfish Bowl- Smog
Cold Blooded Old Times- Smog
Jim Cain- Bill Callahan

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Nick & Norah Redux

I posted about Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist awhile back when the movie first came out, and I just rented it again tonight. I still love it and think it's such a cute movie. The story is really sweet, the cast is very funny, and the soundtrack is awesome. Rent it!

Nico Stai

I'm a huge Alexandra Patsavas fan (she's the music supervisor for Grey's Anatomy/The O.C./Gossip Girl/Chuck) and I think she has awesome taste in music. So, when I heard she was teaming up with O.C.-mastermind Josh Schwartz for an web series about a music club called "Rockville, CA," I was pretty excited. At this point, I've seen all the webisodes and the writing is extremely inane, as expected, but the musical guests are fantastic. Everyone from Passion Pit to Travis to Kaiser Cheifs to the Kooks has performed on the show. Also, while in the actual episode you only hear snatches of each song, there are separate videos on the website so that people like me can tune into the whole performance.

Anyway, this is how I discovered Nico Stai, a fantastic garage-rocking singer-songwriter. He performed "Dead Pony" and my personal favorite, "Covered Too" on the first episode of "Rockville, CA."

Also, here's a link to a post I did for BYT about the show: CLICK.
Nico Stai on MySpace.

I'm a big fan of live recordings, especially for groups like Wilco, My Morning Jacket, or Grace Potter- artists and bands who sound and play with much more feeling and verve on stage. One of my favorite sources for downloading live sets is The live music archive portion of the site counts thousands of live sets from bands ranging from Against Me to Umphrey's McGee. Not to mention the Grateful Dead have their own separate section of the site.

Happy downloading.

Tinted Windows is Not A Joke

When people first got wind of Tinted Windows, the "super"(?) group featuring Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick), and Taylor Hanson (yes, of Hanson). This seems like the most absurd combination of people until you take in the power-pop leanings of every member. Then it becomes slightly less absurd. Plus, I am a huge Adam Schlesinger/Fountains of Wayne fan (seriously, if you've only heard "Stacy's Mom" it's time to take another look) I can trust his judgement.

Anyway, the first Tinted Windows track is a completely harmless slice of power-pop confection. Thoughts?

Kind of A Girl- Tinted Windows


My friend Eve is a HUGE Phoenix fan and counts their last album, "It's Never Been Like That," as one of her all-time favorites. Since our taste overlaps a lot, I've listened to that album countless time, but I've never really clicked with it. However, the first songs off of their upcoming album, "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix," are amazing. I love both of them completely, and they've inspired me to revisit "It's Never Been Like That," which I now have a newfound love for. Eve sent me this summary of the new tracks in an email:
you know how when you're listening to music, sometimes you want new stuff, but a lot of the time you want to hear something you know well? it gives you comfort. people like familiarity. well, i think this new phoenix has an immediate sense of familiarity. even though this is the first time i'm hearing these songs, i already know that i want to hear them over and over again.
I totally agree with her...these songs have been on repeat all week.

1901- Phoenix
Lisztomania- Phoenix

Also, Phoenix will be the musical guest on Saturday Night Live next week (and Seth Rogen is hosting!).

Googling Myself

I used to not show up at all on Google, but now if you google "half a person blog" I'm the second entry, and if you google just "half a person" I'm on the second page!!! I've made it to the big time, indeed.