Sunday, February 26, 2012

Coachella Preview - Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird has six solo albums, with a seventh to be released this year. Every album a dizzying journey of the mind that remind me of restless dreams while napping some place warm and noisy.

Andrew has played music since he was 4 years old.  “Music just swallowed me whole,” he explains. “I am what I do.”

It's hard to put Bird in a box. It feels a bit folk-rock, similar to Devendra Banhart or Sufjan Stevens.  It reminds me of the Decemberists with the way they sometimes sweep between lo-fi and big sound. Really though, he doesn't sound like anyone else. He combines smart lyrics with melodies and orchestral arrangements he never writes down because he assumes if it's any good, it will get stuck in his head.

Here's a track off the double album Noble Creatures from  2009:

Click to play Andrew Bird - Hot Math

Andrew says this about Hot Math: "[It's a] lo-fi recording I made myself in my barn. It’s an example of a West African poly-rhythmic groove I’ve been into for years and in this case I was clearly enjoying myself. This is elusive stuff. It just doesn’t work by choreography; you just have to be in the right mood. It goes on for seven minutes and I intended to shorten it but it just feels too good; besides this is my “indulgent” record."
I suggest you watch the Ted talk Andrew Bird has done. It's truely inspiring to watch his violin technique!

Noisetrade is offering a free download of a four-song EP by Andrew Bird in advance of the release of his new album Break It Yourself on March 6.

The EP includes “Eyeoneye,” Bird’s lead single for Break It Yourself; along with “The Crown Salesman” and “So Much Wine” from a recently released advance seven-inch; and an additional song from the Break It Yourself sessions called “After Dinner Jam.”
The entire Break It Yourself project will be available for streaming on Monday, February 27, at For a list of future concert dates, and to find out how you can get free music with your tickets, go to

I'm going to try to catch Andrew Bird at Coachella, but first I need to get through his large discography. Feel free to use the links below to buy his music, just as I did.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Coachella Preview - The Buzzcocks

Punks in the 60's and 70's. To me, The Doors and Jefferson Airplane... Bread, Cream, Beatles, Zeppelin, Stones, The Who, CCR... That's how I associate that period in music. Counterculture of that era, in my mind, meant long hair, draft dodging, and marijuana picnics. It's hard for me to resolve Velvet Underground, Sex Pistols, and Buzzcocks as part of that time as well.

The Buzzcocks formed in the mid-70's as fans of Velvet Underground and Sex Pistols. By 1976 they were performing at a punk festival in London with Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Clash. 1976?! So hard to believe. Siouxsie might be credited with starting the post-punk movement that seems to try to re-invent itself and pat itself on the back even today.

Without The Buzzcocks, I don't think we'd have a lot of the bands we now credit for *other* bands forming. Maybe The Smiths. Maybe Radiohead. But lest you still haven't heard of the Buzzcocks, take note. They've been showing the younger bands how to do it for a few stints on the Warped Tour and will also be appearing at Coachella this year. And like the Sex Pistols, they're still completely at it.
I still feel as enthusiastic as ever. I still can't believe I wake up and still enjoy writing music and playing music. I still feel I'm 17 when I do it, and I still take drugs and drink and do a load of things I shouldn't be doing. I think maybe 10 or 15 years ago I might have felt old for a moment, but you go through phases. The last few years I've been on a positive roll. --Steve Diggle, Pitchfork interview

Click to play The Buzzcocks - Sixteen Again

Friday, February 17, 2012

Coachella Preview - Keep Shelly In Athens

So, I was recently telling a friend about how I am going to Coachella because this was simply a year not to be missed. Somehow, when she asked who was playing, I was tongue-tied. I forgot who was headlining, and of all the bands I am excited to see, I couldn't discern which she might even know about.

I'm over the moon to be able to see At The Drive-In. I'm ridiculously excited to see Black Keys. No matter how much attention they get, and how overplayed they might become, their music makes me happy. I stomp my feet and sing along. The AWOLNATION album is also a good one that doesn't get old. Gotye, even though I'm a brand new fan who knows like one song, is a great addition to the lineup. I'm excited to see Arctic Monkeys, Yuck, Other Lives, Dear Hunter, Radiohead, Bon Iver, Shins, Noel Gallagher, longtime favorites Manchester Orchestra, Kaiser Chiefs, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Girl Talk, Santigold...

With all those on my must-see list, I am hoping I can still make time in the schedule to sample some bands I've never heard of. I randomly picked about a dozen to review for this series. With that, I present to you Keep Shelly In Athens. It's a Greek duo, thank goodness, otherwise the name might be that much more mysterious. I have to admit I doooon't get the music. I don't get why a live performance of this music is appropriate in the middle of the desert when it is a buck-oh-six degrees outside is something to enjoy, but maybe I am wrong. Maybe that is the perfect music to reset your inner thermostat and get into a new groove.

To catch up on this band, I listened to 2010's In Love With Dusk and the 2011 EP Our Own Dream. By the way, both have only six tracks. The earlier set was very slow and earthy, while Dream at least produces a few moments that could be weaved into a set with a beat to move some part of your body to. Like track 5, "Fairytale."

Click to play Keep Shelly In Athens - Fairytale

But here is a song that interested me... The duo recorded a cover of "Just Like Honey" for the Just Like Honey podcast's fundraiser last month. I may have to save some boobies and buy that album, to hear the rest of the bands that covered this track.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Coachella Preview - Manchester Orchestra

Don't get me wrong; I love Mumford & Sons. But I was thinking... Why have they been to the Grammys twice and received a spread in Rolling Stone, when Manchester Orchestra hasn't been noticed by the former and has barely been given a nod by the latter? Manchester Orchestra has been on Letterman four times. I believe Mumford has only appeared once. Why am I comparing the two?
I appreciated the reaction I experienced when hearing a Mumford album about a year ago. It was similar to the pain that is evoked when listening to Manchester. But I've been listening to Manchester Orchestra for five years now. We've mentioned them on this blog at least twelve times, and that includes our reviews of bands Manchester or its members have supported, produced, or propelled into the spotlight.
When Indie artist Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) won his Grammys, he gave the following speech:
"It's really hard to accept this award," he began his slightly awkward acceptance speech. "There's so much talent out here... and there's a lot of talent that's not here tonight. It's also hard to accept because you know, when I started to make songs I did it for the inherent reward of making songs, so I'm a little bit uncomfortable up here."
He has also said that "98 percent of the people in that room, their art is compromised" about the awards.

So maybe I shouldn't be crying for Manchester Orchestra. Perhaps there is only so much room for uncompromised artists to be invited to the show.

Thank God they were invited to Coachella. BOOM!

Click to play Manchester Orchestra - April Fool

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Coachella Preview - Arctic Monkeys and Araabmuzik

Arctic Monkeys
We've spoken on Arctic Monkeys before, so let's just get you up-to-date perhaps?
In an interview with the Sun, Alex Turner said that Arctic Monkeys will take a break from the recording and performing until 2013. Frontman Alex Turner said: "I don't really write on the road any more. We come up with a few ideas on soundchecks and that but I have written too many terrible lyrics touring around. As yet there is no plan to return to the studio next year, we're keeping our heads down.

I'm excited to finally see Arctic Monkeys at Coachella this year.

Click to listen to Arctic Monkeys - The View From The Afternoon (Live BBC Session)

Another artist to be excited about at Coachella this year is the "MVP of the MPC" -- AraabMuzik. His momma probably calls him Abraham Orellana, but if you're a rapper, you just call him to make your beats!  When he's not making beats for Lungz, Cam'ron, or A$AP Rocky (also a Coachella this year) he's getting booked at clubs and shows to make music live on an MPC. The MPC is a drum machine and sampler where sounds are triggered by tapping one of 16 rubber pads. Watch this video of AraabMuzik earning his title of MVP and get an idea of what making music on an MPC is like.

Crazy fast fingers, and just as impressive as a blazing guitar solo, at least in my opinion.

Check out the track below and buy a few albums with the Amazon links below. We need gas money to get to the big festival!

Click to play Araabmuzik - Lift Off

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Coachella Preview - The Vaccines

Well, what DID you expect from The Vaccines?

I tell you what. I am thoroughly impressed with this band. Last week I told you about The Horrors, and this week I've got their sister band. I mean brother band. Literally. Their guitar player is the younger brother of Tom Cowan (bass)from The Horrors. And like The Horrors, The Vaccines was also formed in West London. But VERY recently formed, despite sounding like a fully developed band. I compared The Horrors to Depeche Mode and The Smiths, while The Vaccines can be likened to The Strokes and Ramones.

The Vaccines speak of love, loss, and relationships with the same experience and confidence that Billy Vera used to belt out "At This Moment" back in the 80's. Again, before these boys were born.

Click to play The Vaccines - A Lack Of Understanding

I am sure the band and everyone else would disagree with my comparisons... I just found they're serious about the music they're making and it sounds soulful while staying on the alternative, and even sometimes upbeat, side. They've had quite a year and Coachella is going to put them on the forefront of a lot of Americans' minds. Check them out on Saturday at the festival.

Click to play The Vaccines - Under Your Thumb

DO BUY THIS ALBUM.... First track and final track are masterpieces, and everything in between totally delightful.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Coachella Preview - The Horrors

Having played festivals all over the world since releasing their first album Origins in 2006, The Horrors should be ready to rock this year's two weekends at Coachella. Their tour with Florence + The Machine this spring should spark a few new fans as well.
Sounding like Depeche Mode and looking like The Cure, the boys in this English band were not even out of the womb when those bands were formed! Not to be confused with any small-town USA metal bands, The Horrors have been on music critics' radar for several years. Pitchfork named "Sheena Is A Parasite" (the band's debut single) one of the Top 25 Videos for 2006!

Click to play The Horrors - I Can See Through You

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Coachella Preview - A$AP Rocky (Vacation A$AP please...)

Rakim Mayers, better known by his aka A$AP Rocky is rapper and director. I'll save you the nagging curiosity and say yes, he was named after the second half of the Eric B. & Rakim duo. He was born and raised in Harlem, and released the mixtape LiveLoveA$AP in 2011 with the in-demand producer, Clams Casino.

Southern rap. You love it, or you hate it. It's a slow, stoney, carefree drawl of raps and rhymes with beats to match. If you like Drake or Lil' Wayne, or anyone in the Cash Money crew, then you are probably going to love A$AP Rocky. Rocky’s Harlem roots definitely has it's influence in the album.  Although the Southern haze is prevalent, you couldn't mistake picking up on the Wu-Tang influence on this record.

His popularity is on the rise, especially across the pond. On December 5, 2011, the BBC announced that he had been nominated for the BBC's Sound of 2012 poll. The States haven't slept on Mayers though. Stereogum placed the album at number 9 on its list of the "Top 50 albums of 2011". Mayers is not new to the rap game. He's been rapping since he was 8, and released LiveLoveA$AP at 22. Recently he signed a record deal with Sony for 3 cool million.

Not bad. A$AP Rocky will be on a stage at Coachella this year. Be sure to check him out! He definitely has chops, as seen at this vid from a concert at Corona Theatre, Montreal, Canada.

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