Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Art and the Disaster of a Music Comeback

Merriam Webster tells us that "A Comeback" is : "A sharp or witty reply." Or, "a return to a former position or condition (as of success or prosperity) - a Revival; a Recovery."

That's pretty much just Bullshit.

2008 has been the Year of the Comeback. And I will not go into great detail about each of the individual projects, if you are wise enough to be reading music blogs then you probably already know much about this. (Probably more than you want to, really.)

Whatever their reasons are - (Cashing in seems to be the most prevalent cause,) accomplished bands from the past are showing up in recording sessions and reappearing on stages near you. It's a dicey proposition...

This is nothing new - 2008 isn't the first time that artists have returned from relative obscurity to fill our ears with new music - and to make us question the inherent value of their once pristine careers.

REPRINTED WITHOUT PERMISSION: Like Chuck Klosterman, we respect the great Jeff Gordinier, Details magazine editor, a writer for Entertainment Weekly, and author of X Saves the World. The witty writing about topics relevant to us is just very good stuff.

Gordinier wrote The Hidden Track in the March 2008 issue of Spin. It's one of my favorite reads from Spin all year long and I was meaning to tell you about it months ago. It's about Comebacks and like Klosterman, Gordinier writes from a passionate stand-point. He is a music fan and like you and me - he gets obsessed by some aspects of music and repulsed by some of the decisions made by the artists and the suits in the industry...

In this story, Gordinier tells us on how he fell in love with the Cowboy Junkies and the mesmerizing voice of Margo Timmins on the decidedly lo-fi Trinity Session recordings in 1988. (The recordings were made in a Toronto church and for many years, those haunted tracks would haunt the souls of Junkies' fans.) Gordinier writes....

The Cowboy Junkies would spend the next 20 years trying to live up to the flukey, firefly-in-a-Mason-jar magnificence of the moment. So okay, yeah, I know that the Junkies went on to product fine work - 'A Common Disaster' is on the great songs of the '90s - but I still think they should have followed up Trinity by pawning their instruments and moving to a communal farm in the wilds of Saskatchewan. That's because I subscribe to the J.D. Salinger Principle of Shooting Your Wad.

Meaning: In a media-saturated ADD era, the wisest course of action for any artist is to put out one or two things that blow everyone else away, and then bolt. Scram. Grow a beard. Become a hermit. Die, if necessary. Whatever. Just stop working."

"The way I see it, ceaseless productivity equals diminished expectations. Fogies love to bemoan the demise of 'artistic development' in the music business, but I don't think most bands are cut out for a Rolling Stones-style career track. (The Stones sure aren't.) I prefer the performer who works him or herself into a kind of full-moon fugue state for one perfect album - or song - and then face-plants..."

"Yes, comrades, I too pay my dues at the Radiohead International Brotherhood Lodge, but slogging through their body of work can get so damn exhausting. Being in love with a band on the Hall of Fame career track is like maintaining a long-term relationship with that eccentric brooder you met in college, and as we all know from Dr. Phil, marriage takes work. If you're hitched to Radiohead, that means you are committed to doing the dishes, changing the diapers, and spending quality time with Hail to the Thief - forever! If you're married to Elvis Costello, well, I understand. Elvis and I have been in couples therapy since Mighty Like a Rose. And if you happened to shack up with Ryan Adams, shoot me an e-mail -- I know a good lawyer uptown.

"Really aren't there times when you hear that your favorite band has a new album coming out, and the prospect of listening to it seems about as enticing as mapping out your tax return? Steady relationships and meticulous receipt-saving might be the hallmarks of a responsible citizenry, but that ain't what music's about. Pop music is about giving in to abandon, to the drunken swan diveoff the slippery lip of the stage. It's about flings...

For the full piece titled, "Once Only, With Feeling," check out Gordinier's Hiddden Track in the March '08 copy of Spin. His Book "X Saves the World" is available in stores.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Post-Thanksgiving Punk in Boston Tonight

Ode to all things Punk and Some Experimental...
Tonight at O'Brien's in Allston:

Wake up from your holiday slumber. A pretty kick-ass trio of energetic wake-up music is in store for tonight. Headliners are Boston's own The Murder (think wicked, punk and all-Boston.) They are served well by the addition of Pariah Beat, an up-and-coming punk folk noise band with Vermont roots now calling the city home. (We love every bit of this story.) And opening up at O'Brien's tonight is PBR (Punk Blues Revival) - a band that (as their name suggests, blends Punk and the Blues) - Can you say, "Killer Lineup?!!" This is a Thrashacusetts night setup by our friend Duncan Wilder Johnson.

Doors open at 9pm, Details: $7, 21+ only. Sorry Junior, your time will come.

THE MURDER, Based in Boston, headline this wicked lineup tonight. These guys are pretty much unstoppable and have firmly established themselves. They are known for their their dynamic, high energy act - and far more approachable than one might expect in the Punk Rock genre. Led by the mysterious and darkly enigmatic Roach McKrackin (of Entrophy and Mob Rule), The Murder churn out hard hitting numbers with memorable hooks and sing-along choruses, establishing a connection with an ever growing fan base. With influences as diverse as rock, country and reggae the group is at once blazing new trails in the Boston music scene while keeping true to their punk rock roots.

If you mix punk rock guitar with gypsy-folk rock sensibilities (adding a squeezebox and fiddle) and a hell of a lot of ingenuity you get PARIAH BEAT. This group of story-tellers, formerly of Vermont, now call Jamaica Plains their home. This band is rocking to rave reviews and impressing audiences all around. This is a perfect case of old meets new meets Punk Rock. Awesome!

PBR - Punk Blues Revival

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Matt Pond PA is Giving it Away !


Get your Free Tunes!

UTTER SIMPLICITY: The Words "FREE EP" really say it all. Our friends in indie rock trio Matt Pond PA (Matt Pond - vocals, guitar, Dan Crowell - drums, Chris Hansen - guitar, keyboards) want you to know about their brand new batch of songs -- by giving them all away!

Something to Be Thankful for:

Matt Pond PA

Free the Free Ep:
Matt Pond PA - Imperfect

This free EP album (produced, performed and now distributed by the band) was recorded by Matt Pond PA in a cabin in Bearsville, NY. (Coincidentally, we are kinda surprised Matt Pond is calling this freebie an EP album - it has nine tracks. That's pretty much a full-length record these days.) And, this stuff is good. Having listened to this one, we couldn't be happier to have this quality, and free, addition to our music collection.

Matt Pond PA Video:

directed by Ed Lowther

Matt Pond PA
Myspace / Web (download the album) / Facebook

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Atlanta's Fishhawk


There is something to be said for exciting new music especially when it comes from fresh, unsigned bands. Atlanta's Fishhawk is stirring the creative pot and "fusion" is the word of the day. FH's debut CD is a new release merging several music styles (rock, electronica, rap, slow beats, hip-hop and soul.) This experiment in style is served up with beat-punctuated tracks, stirred with strong vocals and plenty of pop hooks. Right now the band doesn't have a drummer or a bass player - using computer and machine effects to round out their sound. (That reminds us a lot of early Fujiya & Miyagi...and based on how things have turned out for them, that's a very favorable comparison!)

We really like the level of experimentation on this album. RSL predicts very good things if Fishhawk keeps this up! And why not? This is a band that is trying to find their own patented sound and is succeeding at making that decision very difficult for them. We wish them all the luck in the world! We will be watching and listening.

Myspace / Web / Facebook

Monday, November 24, 2008

Riverboat Gamblers - New Album / Australian Tour


The Riverboat Gamblers

One of our favorite stage acts from the last few years, The Riverboat Gamblers will unleash a full-length album, Underneath the Owl, in March. In February the band heads to The Land Down Under to play the roving Soundwave Music Festival (kind of like the Download Festival in the US and UK.) Dates will include Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne.

The Australian crowds will soon learn what US audiences already know: the Riverboat Gamblers are high-energy all of the time. The first single off Underneath the Owl is A Choppy, Yet Sincere Apology is the perfect song to start your week off right....

Riverboat Gamblers
Web / Myspace / Facebook

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chuck on Axl's Chinese Democracy (Why We Like Klosterman)

ON REVIEW: BragginBilly here, when I started blogging, I had a pretty clear idea of the feel I wanted to bring to my blog. My plan was that I would muddle along and things would pretty much happen or not... or maybe something in between. I like a lot of blogs, but it wasn't like I said, "I want to be like X"

ANYWAYS, I did happen upon Chuck Klosterman - though not a blogger, he captured much of the feel and direction I was going for. So, of course, I think he's brilliant. Some may consider him a bit verbose and some of his books utterly self obsessed. Isn't that what music is all about? Their maniacal rock egos and our own blind dedication and devotion combine to make us what we are? Is that not what being a fan of music is all about?

Chuck Klosterman

I won't go on too long or dwell on the personal implications of Chuck, but, I want to share with everyone a brilliant review that he wrote of Guns and Roses, to be released album "Chinese Democracy" (It goes on sale tomorrow and only at Best Buy stores. Are you serious?)

What did Chuck think of Axl's Masterpiece?

"Reviewing Chinese Democracy is not like reviewing music. It's more like reviewing a unicorn. Should I primarily be blown away that it exists at all? Am I supposed to compare it to conventional horses? To a rhinoceros? Does its pre-existing mythology impact its actual value, or must it be examined inside a cultural vacuum, as if this creature is no more (or less) special than the remainder of the animal kingdom?"

Klosterman continues: "I've been thinking about this record for 15 years; during that span, I've thought about this record more than I've thought about China, and maybe as much as I've thought about the principles of democracy. This is a little like when that grizzly bear finally ate Timothy Treadwell: Intellectually, he always knew it was coming. He had to. His very existence was built around that conclusion. But you still can't psychologically prepare for the bear who eats you alive, particularly if the bear wears cornrows."

Breaking it Down: Let's be honest, these are odd days for music. Not only do we have resurrection albums from the likes of ACDC, Night Ranger and Guns N' Roses; (even Michael Jackson is rumored to be working on a new project!) Barring these often unwanted and wholly unnecessary comeback projects, Music is more popular than ever -but- less of it is being purchased - at least in album form and certainly not in the numbers they once did in retail stores. Still the industry resist the absolute need to change at its own peril. Those who promote music projects (blogs like us for instance), are persecuted and chased at each and every turn. I believe the bottom line is that the big labels are simply afraid of what is to come and they dread losing control over something that has long since been lost. The horse as they say, has left the barn.

Returning back to the Guns album: Axl Rose's new masterpiece, some 15 years in the making, isn't an album - it's a statement about our culture and of the state of rock. It's the labels not wanting to admit that they made a two-decade long mistake (think of all the cash advances made to Rose during that time period.... It boggles the mind.) People like Klosterman are calling them out. Another example: Letterman could have had Axl on his show this week, but instead of Guns N' Roses, he opted instead for Mr. Brownstone (GNR cover band - for the show's cover band week. Funny thing is, Mr Brownstone sounds more like Axl than the singer does himself these days....) Check out this tour poster from 2002 (yes, it was named the "Chinese Democracy tour" some six full years before the album came out....) We hear you Chuck, we hear you.

Klosterman is recommended reading: I hope you enjoy and I highly encourage you to pick up "Killing Yourself to Live" - which we promoted and used to carve a path through a review we did on About A Son - a biopic film about Nirvana's Kurt Cobain. (recommended reading)

Also check out Klosterman's: "Sex, Drugs & Coco Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto" or any of his others. "Downtown Owl" is his new one and its pretty good too. However, its a novel and not a a meandering discussion of music and pop culture, which is the stuff I love.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Night: Uncle Pecos speaks for Me

It's Friday Night. I am finally completely moved and definitely getting situated (went to the registry, got my resident parking sticker from the city clerk, registered to vote and went grocery shopping) - yep it's official now. I am moved (a week early even!) and I am back to posting!

It feels so damn good to be back... I think it's time for a smooth Bass! My dear friend Uncle Pecos couldn't have said it any better...

More to Come.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

GNR "cover band" Mr. Brownstone will raise Letterman's roof!


GNR - All the Rock, None of the Crap

I don't like Guns n Roses anymore, but I sure do love the way that band sounded 20 years ago. Like a lot of American males in the 24 - 36 age bracket - I had a healthy love for the band in the 1980s and well into the next decade.

A full ten years since Axl Rose promised the world his masterpiece, Chinese Democracy, the album will actually be unleashed (remember the hype about all the leaks a few weeks back?) - but there's something stale about all these recent rock n roll comebacks - We want to remember the music for what it was (and no, I do not mean the Spagetti Incident record. I'm talking Appetite for Destruction, GN'R Lies and Use Your Illusion. And that's exactly why we are all over Mr. Brownstone, the world's premiere GNR cover band - who will take over David Letterman's stage tonight before a worldwide studio audience.

Axl take note: MR. BROWNSTONE is the REAL THING

I would rather see Mr. Brownstone play on stage, rather than pay through the teeth to get a glimpse of a played-out, overpaid and less than interested Axl Rose take the stage in some sold-out stadium somewhere. We aren't the only ones giving this band Much Love - tonight's show was hyped in Brooklyn Vegan too. The band is doing something right!

Filmed Live at the Paradise (rafters shot) Boston

For eight long years now, Mr. Brownstone has been the best Guns N Roses band in the world. And many would agree they still are. They have played Boston dozens of times and they are top quality musicians in their own right. (The band includes members of Takka Takka, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Boston's own Dave Godowski of The Dave Godowski Band.)

MR. Brownstone - Memories Video

New Yorkers rejoice, you get a chance to check out this kick-ass live band coming up in just a few days. Mr. Brownstone will play Irving Plaza on the 28th. If you can, be there! (Tickets)

Web / Myspace

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Moving Experience

The RSL is moving back into the city... The lack of activity on the website the last 48 hours correlates directly to a whole lot of action and stress in real life. If you can only imagine the heavy-lifting, all the sweating and swearing - added with the stress of driving with a loaded truck in the rain, tailgaters a-plenty,.... Oh good times!. I assure you, once we get our head back on straight and unpack some boxes, we will be back in full gear.

Please take a look in the RSL Archives (bottom right toolbar) and check out the links to material in the sidebar. We also have lots and lots of really cool friends all over the globe - check out the links and if you get the chance, tell them Ryan sent you!

Here's a track from Weinland, one of our favorite artists of the year. Our Early Best of List 2008 is coming as soon as I get unpacked!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mason Proper - Very Good Stuff at The Middle East


Mason Proper finished off their four show 'mini-tour' with Cloud Cult and Exit Clov at The Middle East last night. I really am too tired to give you a full run-down, but the show was predictably awesome. MP are easily one of the best live bands in the country right now, thanks in no small part to the strength of the new album, "Olly Oxen Free." Mason Proper played the record start to finish last night before an appreciative audience at the Middle East, who were left clamoring for more last night. The reaction drew a mock evil laugh from front man Jonathan Visger, who we credit as the genius behind the new material.

A little insight - the Ryan's Smashing Life Blog will name Olly Oxen Free one of the five best albums of the year next week, (trying to keep away from a simple #1, #2, #3 ranking since everyone's tastes are a bit different) when our Top 20 Albums from Early 2008 List goes live. (You don't want to miss out on this one!) The point of the list is that you have ample time to shop indie rock for your holiday gifts and be fully informed ahead of time. Olly Oxen Free should DEFINITELY be in your shopping cart!

Mason Proper's Jonathan Visger

RSL Album Reviews:
Olly Oxen Free LP (2008)
Shorthand EP (2008)

Mason Proper Plays UNH Durham Tonight. More Dates

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Unseasonably Hot - GOLDEN BLOOM

If the unprecedented indie pop and the melodies of Golden Bloom are any indicator, better days are definitely on their way - never mind the fact that the name of the band's new brand new single is "Doomsday Devices." Weapons of Mass Destruction or no WMD, you're going to love this one....

Doomsday Devices is available below for streaming and download, but there's a rare, and cool 7-inch version you can only get through the band. We are a big fan of vinyl and of unsigned bands going their own way. Right on!


About the Band: The product of ultra-talented singer-songwriter Shawn Fogel, Golden Bloom is a full band that also includes Jeff Patlingrao, Michael Azerrad, Dan Saks, Ryan Ball, and Josh Cohen. Fogel, who writes the songs and paces the band, can play every instrument up on stage. We have been following Fogel's solo career for a couple of years now and have been very impressed with what we have heard from this band. (The rest of the band ain't no slouches, either!) There's lots to love about Golden Bloom.

Shawn Fogel of Golden Bloom

New Stuff / Old Stuff: If you like this track - check out One Day in the Desert, Golden Bloom's EP released last year. If you can hold on for just a bit longer, Golden Bloom will be releasing their debut full-length release in early '09. We can't wait to hear it. Just to show you what may be in store, I am sharing a bonus Shawn Fogel track below.

Myspace / Web

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Artist of the Day - Nicole Atkins

Getting Swept Up in the Sound...

Nicole Atkins
Spin Magazine photo

WHO IS NICOLE ATKINS ? : This 28-year-old singer songwriter with a most beautiful voice was raised along the New Jersey shoreline. Growing up, when her friends were collecting the latest New Kids on the Block album, she was raving about Traffic or Cream. At the age of 13 she found an old beat up guitar in the attic of her house. It had belonged to an uncle who died when he was young, and she taught herself to play a Grateful Dead song. Her father turned her on to blues artists like Jimmy Reed, and allowed Nicole to sit in on sessions with local musician friends.

She attended art school in North Carolina, where she played for three years with the North Carolina alt-country band Los Parasols before making a name for herself as a solo performer on New York City's anti-folk scene. She slept in an old Dodge Ram Charger on Avenue A, finally, with a little help from her friends, among them David Muller (occasionally a member of Yoko Ono's band, Fiery Furnaces and Fischer Spooner) finally discovered her own sound.

Nicole Atkins and the Sea - Debut Album

NEPTUNE CITY: A Year Ago, Atkins released her beautiful debut, "Neptune City," to critical acclaim by Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Spin Magazine, the New York Times, among others. Neptune City was produced by Tore Johansson (Cardigans, Franz Ferdinand, OK Go, Saint Etienne, New Order), an album that sounds like it came from anywhere but the New Jersey Americana rock tradition made famous by Bruce Springsteen.

TOUR & CRITICAL ACCLAIM: Over the last year, Atkins has toured extensively to support Neptune City's release and has headlined North American and European Tours as well as performances on the Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, the Late Late show with Craig Ferguson, and most recently a performance on Later with Jools Holland in the UK with Metallica, Carla Bruni, and Kings of Leon.

NEW NEW: Atkins just released a digital-only EP release of cover songs called, "Nicole Atkins Digs Other People's Songs." The covers songs run the musical gamut - from the Doors' "Crystal Ship" to "Under The Milky Way" by The Church, with a little Nada Surf and Mama Cass thrown in for good measure. (Available on iTunes and Rhapsody now.)

Nicole Atkins - Under the Milky Way
(cover of The Church)

Live This Week ! : Nicole Atkins and the Sea plays TT the Bears in Cambridge tomorrow night. Atkins appears with two NYC bands of note: Salt & Somovar and Gregory and the Hawk. $12, 18+, Doors at 9pm.

Nicole Atkins
Web / Myspace

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Lights Out Boston residency - ¡HEIST! performed live!

With a New Album and a Boston Residency at Church...
This Band's Gonna ROCK the City all Month long!


Quite possibly the most fun live band in Boston, The Lights Out are a creative band run amok and that suits us and this city just fine! Despite the great pride the band takes in being impulsive, The Lights Out maintain an intense work ethic, recording and critiquing every gig. The hard work shines through - the new ¡HEIST! EP is among the band's best stuff to date. You will have three more chances to see the band play for free this month. With their growing reputation for dynamic live shows and the nods they’ve been receiving from fans and press, they’re clearly onto something. We will be at a couple of these November gigs- come out and join us!

TLO residency shows are Completely Free!
Check out the band at Church each Weds night!

Wed., 11/12 at Church:
"The Lights Out Get Diplomatic"

12:00: The Blackboard Nails
11:00: The Lights Out
10:00: Violet Violet
(female punk band from the U.K.)
9:00: Suit of Hair
This event on Facebook

Wed., 11/19 at Church:
"The Lights Out: Red Light Special!"
A six-shooter of awesome
rapidfire 20-minute sets.
11:40 The Lights Out
11:00 Township
10:30 Midatlantic
10:00 MeandJoanCollins
9:30 Static of the Gods
9:00 The Crushing Low
This event on Facebook

Wed., 11/26 at Church:

"The Lights Out Give Thanks for Rock"
The Night before Thanksgiving!
Stuff yourself full of chunky, sticky rock - give thanks.
11:00: Old Jack
10:00: The Lights Out
9:00: Muy Cansado
8:00: Tunnlvision
This event on Facebook

Myspace / Facebook / Web

Monday, November 10, 2008

Boston Show of the Week: Mason Proper and Cloud Cult

Mason Proper and Cloud Cult bring the noise!
Thursday Night - 11/13/2008
Both bands have great new records!

WIN A FREE PAIR OF PASSES from the RSL Music Blog!

Michigan's Mason Proper comes to Boston this Thursday and we couldn't be more excited. We just told you about Mason Proper's Simply Amazing new record, Olly Oxen Free. This album is about to be named an RSL Best of The Year Pick (the list goes live later this week!) Things are really starting to happen for Mason Proper - the new video for Lock and Key just went live on MTV2 and people are finally beginning to understand Jonathan Visger's songwriting genius.

In all seriousness, MASON PROPER is one of the Best Bands in the World right now. Do Not Miss This Set.

LOCK and KEY Video
directed by Don Tyler

Mason Proper - Lock and Key
first single from Olly Oxen Free

Mason Proper - Miss Marylou Carreau
from 2007's There's A Moth In Your Chest

Mason Proper Myspace /Web
The RSL Interview (pt 1 / pt 2)
Reviews: Olly Oxen Free / Shorthand EP / Moth

Not to be outdone are Minneapolis' Cloud Cult who toured with The Forms earlier this year. The CC are an experimental indie rock band creating a full universe of sounds up on stage - transporting the listener to far away places. These stage phenoms have a great new record of their own in 2008; Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-partying Through Tornadoes) is in stores now.

Cloud Cult: Myspace / Web

Thursday Night 11/13/08 @ 9pm
The Middle East in Cambridge - $12
Also appearing: Exit Clov

Advanced Ticketing:

A portion of ticket proceeds through Indie Tickets
will go towards a carbon offset fund for the tour.


Ryan's Smashing Life will put you on the guestlist!

All you have to do is email us with the words "Olly Oxen Free!" in the subjectline.
Must Supply your full name - be 18 years old or old, have a valid ID.

Only one pair of passes being given away. Good Luck!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Super Slo-Mo and tracks from Daft Punk at Coachella

VIRAL VIDEO selection:

I was feeling restless and a little creative this morning, so I decided to cook up a blog post with super slow motion clips with music. For some reason I dialed right into Daft Punk, who I enjoy listening to from time to time. I have included two tracks from the duo's set at the Coachella Music Festival in 2006. Hopefully you dig today's stuff as much as I have....

Daft Punk images by Heidi Slimane

Daft Punk - Around the World
Live at Coachella, 4/29/06

Missile Launch

Car Explosion




Daft Punk - Da Funk
Live at Coachella, 4/29/06


Friday, November 07, 2008


DATELINE: Los Angeles, CA

On of our favorites bands from last year, Great Northern have been kinda quiet through most of the year here in 2008 - so we knew they were up to something!


We will be looking forward to this one!

As you read this, plans are coming together at Eenie Meenie Records for the band's forthcoming album release (we are hearing there will be an April 2009 release.) This will be the follow up to Great Northern's critically acclaimed 2007 album, Trading Twilight for Daylight (an RSL Top 40 Albums of the Year - 2007.) There is a lot to be excited about. The new record will be produced by Nick Jodoin and Michael Patterson (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Beck, Ladytron, Puff Daddy.) The recording sessions for the album are set to wrap some point this month.

One of the Best Singles from 2007
Great Northern - Home


Link: The Making of this Video.

Web / Myspace / Eenie Meenie records

Best of 2008: Parlour Steps

THE BEST of 2008 (so far!) SERIES :

We Love this little Vancouver band!

One Band at a Time

Parlour Steps are one of our favorite bands these days. The proof is in the performance - they came to town and played one of the best received shows in Boston this year. They rocked the Middle East! They then went on to have a great tour and even filmed a new video.

Drawing from the very same creative well from which Arcade Fire and The Pixies have drank from over the years, Parlour Steps have found a special place on the indie landscape. Their lyrical creativity and song structures are crafted with elements similar to those used by Sufjan Stevens and Tom Waits. It's true - Parlour Steps could be the best new band in your catalog this year!

Listening to "Thieves of Memory" - a Song of the Year candidate, it's pretty much impossible to not hear similarities between Parlour Steps and Cold War Kids and Wolf Parade/Handsome Furs. This comparison is meant to be complimentary, but based on what I'm listening to as I type these words - perhaps I am not doing the band enough justice. Parlour Steps' brand new album is called Ambiguoso and the damn thing really doesn't have a bad song. The new album's varied tracks move and undulate like a living creature - each is individual and different. Ambiguoso truly runs the musical gamut. Pick it up and expect to have your doors blown off.

For those who read this blog with any regularity, you know I have a snazzy rundown every six months or so of the hottest new talent, best new albums and notable acts & performers. Expect to see this band again for those lists. I don't anticipate it falling from grace anytime soon.



PARLOUR STEPS joins some pretty amazing talent - The Best of 2008 Early List is coming NEXT WEEK! but here are some of the records we have told you made the list in recent days: album, album, album, album, album, album, album, album, album, album, album, album, album, album, album, album, album, and album. Think of it as a shopping list of contemporary good taste and this list will continue to grow until it needs to - you can check out 2007's Hot List for the First Half, here.)

Parlour Steps Web / Myspace
Buy the Album: Nine Mile Records

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Review: LIGHTBULBS from Fujiya & Miyagi

HIGH END NEW RELEASE: You don't get a lot of electronic or beats music on this blog, but it doesn't mean we can't get behind the right stuff. Lightbulbs from Fujiya & Miyagi is the best of it's kind this year.... a solid fusion of strong beats/electronica/ironic song structure and witty mixes. Easily the best since last year's LCD Soundsystem record; "Sound of Silver." (RSL Top 15 Record of 2007)

FUJIYA & MIYAGI are Winners: It's the experimental attitude expressed time and time again on this record and the successful fusion of styles that make it great. We weren't looking for profundity with this record - we just wanted to be entertained and to feel good. (Man, were we ever!) There were a whole lot of good tracks (as we expected,) but we really enjoyed some of the unlikely heroes... Check out "Dishwasher" - a song that starts out with a hand-jive beat, but slowly flutters through a loose beat featuring strummed bass and drumsticks. "Just look inside my encyclopedia," the song asks of us.... You just got schooled.

RSL Record Grade: 3.75 of 5 STARS - Highly Recommended

WHO ARE F&M ?: Formed in 2000 as an electronic duo of David Best (guitars and vocals) and Steve Lewis (synths, beats, programming), they released Electro Karaoke In The Negative Style two years later, a minimal electronic set it hangs eerily on Best’s distinctive whispered vocal. Adding bass player Matt Hainsby in 2004, they released a series of ten inch EPs that took them to the hearts of fanzineland. Gathered together these parables of personal injury, both physical and mental, made up three quarters of the well-received (Pitchfork, NME, MOJO, etc) album Transparent Things in 2006. As for that name? Fujiya & Miyagi are named after a Nabokov brain dump on the relationship between the past and the present. It sums them up.

HEAD OF THE CLASS IN '08: Fujiya & Miyagi are at the head of the class right now. To compare and contrast, let's look at last year's Austin crossover dancehall favorites Ghostland Observatory. That duo trod some very similar soil last year - but while Observatory took a step backwards this year by only getting louder and more repetitive, Fujiya & Miyagi made a number of good decisions on this new record. A well rounded effort! Pick up Lightbulbs and find out for yourself.


Fujiya & Miyagi
Web / Myspace / Ankle Injuries Video

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Simon Says No!


DATELINE: OSLO It's like hearing a familiar voice from the past whisper your name and asking you to dance... It's about celebrating good music and better times. We gave one listen to Oslo's Simon Says No! and we were transported away to another place by the anthemic Sleeping Heart. I think it's a good indicator of what is to come!

Simon Says No!

HOT OFF THE PRESSES: Fresh off an impressive appearance in New York at the CMJ Music Festival, Simon Says No! (Rolf, Even, Simon, Ruben) is taking their post punk meanders and shoegaze past(think the rock fuzz of My Bloody Valentine dipped in modern indie and what you have is a starting point) to the masses. The most important thing right now for this talented little Norway band is to get the word out! This band appears ready for the next big stage! We will be watching.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Black Gold - Video Blogging: Mexican Eats // Vintage Gear // Indie Rock Record Stores

One of the Great Things about technology, and music blogs to be certain, is that they allow bands to find new and creative ways to reach out to their fans and play a larger role in their lives. The dynamic duo of Eric Ronick (Ambulance Ltd and Panic at the Disco) and Than Luu (M Ward, Shushshush and Rachel Yamagata) are Black Gold.

We told you about these guys back in August and since that time, we have to admit - we are pretty impressed with all the music we've heard. (Seriously, keep a close watch on these two.... very talented.) To our original point, Black Gold are releasing video blogs with a little humor and a lot of creativity so that fans get to know them better. Refreshing and fun - that, my friends, is a good use of technology.

Black Gold loves Indie Record Shops

Black Gold on Vintage Gear

Black Gold on Mexican Food

RSL Single of The Year Candidate:
Black Gold - Plans and Reveries


Monday, November 03, 2008

Jesse Malin Week

For all the promotion work we have done on Jesse Malin's behalf the last few years, one might think we are family. But, such loyalty springs from a genuine passion for the man's music - he's a great live performer. I can hardly think of any musician I enjoy seeing play live as much as Jesse. He is ever the true journeyman performer and a unique music mind.

Click Album Links below to demo material: (All Recommended!)
Malin, who comes to town on Thursday to play a highly recommended set at Cambridge's TT the Bears, is currently one of the most prolific artists in the world. In the last two-and-a-half years, he has released two studio albums: THE HEAT and GLITTER IN THE GUTTER (RSL Top 15 Albums of 2007) , a live record - MERCURY RETROGRADE and a brand new covers set (the masterful ON YOUR SLEEVE). This is a good time to be a Jesse Malin fan.

Initially released as an Import-Only, On Your Sleeve
is now available for purchase at US music stores

The US version has four new songs...
Both the US and UK versions are worth owning

Jesse Malin - It's Not Enough
Johnny Thunders cover

Jesse plays TTs the Bears on Thursday night with two great local bands: Cassavettes and The Dirty Truckers. After that, Malin embarks out on the road to tour with the rejuvenated Butch Walker. The pair had canceled their summer shows in June. It should be a great tour! (Stay tuned, I will have the Butch Walker album review up soon!) Pick up these records - excellent listening!

Web / Myspace

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Goodbye Studs Terkel - The 1963 Interview with Bob Dylan


We will not let a day pass without paying tribute to the great radioman and Pulitzer Prize Winner Studs Terkel, who died yesterday at 96. One of America's greatest voices for decades, he was a skilled interviewer, oral historian and a celebrated author who touched the lives of millions of people. You will see from the video clip below how vicarious and productive Terkel was well into his 90s. To quote Terkel on his own life; "Curiosity did not kill this cat." He will be sorely missed.

Terkel was first known to America as a popular radio personality through his 45 years at Chicago's WFMT radio. For decades, Terkel was the gold standard when it came to radiomen. He was probably one of the best interviewers in media history.

He never prepared his questions. He interrupted his guests often. Yet Terkel was known as a master interviewer, able to establish an easy rapport with just about anyone. His secret, he once said, was simple: "It's listening."

And listen he did: to sultry jazz singers and insecure housewives; to a repentant Ku Klux Klan leader; to Bob Dylan, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Marlene Dietrich, Bertrand Russell; to a parking lot attendant and a lesbian grandmother; to a piano tuner; and to a barber.

Studs Terkel in 2003 at 91-years-old:

Highly Recommended

Terkel died of old age at his home in Chicago, his son Dan said.

"He lived a long, eventful, satisfying, though sometimes tempestuous life," Dan Terkell said. "I think that pretty well sums it up."

The author of blockbuster oral histories on World War II, the Great Depression and contemporary attitudes toward work, Terkel roamed the country engaging an astounding cross-section of Americans in tape-recorded chats -- about their dreams, their fears, their chewing gum, about racism, courage, dirty floors and the Beatles.

With his loud laugh and raspy voice, plus his inept fumbles with his tape recorder, he set his subjects at ease and tugged from them memories, predictions and simple truths about their everyday existence. Terkel transcribed and edited the interviews, then compiled them into books that were at once intimate and sweeping, among them "Division Street," "Hard Times," "Working," and "The Good War," which won the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. (Some information and quotes used: LA Times - Stephanie Simon)

STUDS TERKEL with a Young BOB DYLAN - 1963

I can't think of any way better to commemorate the great life of Studs Terkel than sharing this remarkable and rare, high-quality 1963 radio interview with Bob Dylan. This one was recorded in studio at WFMT Chicago.

Bob is only 22 years old in this interview. He gives a great performance including the first ever recording of Boots of Spanish Leather. This one is an absolute must have for Dylan fans as well as for those who love listening to magical moments locked in time.

It's May 1963...
Current events had family television sets tuned to the news. The adults were afraid of change. The kids were whispering too. Some of them were mouthing lyrics to exciting new songs.

This is a remarkable recording from WFMT radio in Chicago. The Dylan that performs here is remarkably like the Dylan we know from interviews today - just younger, and a little more open.
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Dylan in '63: wordy but exceedingly clear,
The young man is easily excitable but quite fun.

There is insight here! This recording is an open door leading to Dylan's core values. We hear about his first visit to NYC. We know how he feels about folk music. We hear from Bob how the Cuban Missile Crisis impacted his song writing.

The class contrarian, Dylan opens the show with Farewell. It's his first chance to set the pace during the interview and he tries to make the most of it. Dylan strums away and declines to stop and let WFMT-Chicago host Studs Terkel speak until the last note of this song is played out.

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WFMT-Chicago radio's Studs Terkel

Dylan has evidently declined to give the Chicago programmer a set list but Terkel is a radio professional and he deals with the situation. Here, Terkel plays the part of host and a lion tamer. His "big cat" is a scrawny Midwestern songwriter with big dreams.

The kid is also fairly convinced he is in charge. The result is that this interview unfolds brilliantly. The studio sound engineers capture a long and winding free-form interview and live guitar session. During a discussion of the Cuban Missile Crisis and how it impacted the singer, Dylan surprises the Chicago host by telling him that he won't perform "A Hard Rain."

"You've got the disc there. You can take it off that. I prefer it if you could just do it that way," Dylan says quietly referring to the radio station's 45 album copy. Dylan's guitar, silent, sits nearby. "I mean, I could sing a song, but it takes a long time to sing."

With infinite patience, Terkel prevails. "I would like you to sing it, and I will tell you why after you sing it..."

You can almost Dylan his roll his shoulders. He could care less. "Alright." he says as he gathers his guitar from the studio floor. And what we hear next is just remarkable.

By now Dylan and Terkel have struck an odd, but working, relationship. The two ramble through talk about life in New York and friends along Dylan's path.

At times the two step on each others words. Dylan, initially very quiet, is shooting his words as fast as he can. He speaks, recants and then clarifies each thought.

The song lightens the mood in the room a bit further. Despite Studs'best attempts to prod him, Dylan still declines to speak about Woody Guthrie. He retreats into conversation about his development as a singer-song writer.

The topic of Dylan as a folk singer stops the conversation in its tracks. Dylan does not consider himself to be a folk performer and he announces that he will no longer perform popular folk tunes.

(The tone of Dylan's anti-folk state of mind explains the odd introduction to the recording - the radio show call man had introduced Dylan to the home audience by calling him "a folk singer!")

"I did it. We'll just say I did it," Dylan says of being a folk singer. "It was something I did."
Things are tense now, but again Terkel maneuvers through the choppy waters and reaches Dylan. He is able to pull another live performance from Dylan. This occurs when the host asks Dylan if there are any of his songs that he thinks might one day be recorded and sung by other artists.

Suddenly, Dylan is uncharacteristically enthusiastic. Ignoring the conversation with Terkel, the young Dylan begins tuning and strumming his guitar. He is pacing the cage like a tiger! He is ready to perform. Finally, the room grows silent and Dylan can begin.

It's the first ever confirmed recording of Boots of Spanish Leather! Dylan had written it weeks before but it had not yet been put to tape in the studio. It's magnificent.


When asked about Dylan got into songwriting - he responds:

"It's always been with me. I can't really say what lead me to it," Dylan continues. "I like to do a lot of things. I'm one of these people who tend to think that everybody has a certain gift. The trouble is just trying to figure out what it is."

This is the best part of the entire show. Listen carefully - Dylan speaks more like a sage than a intimidated young kid thrust on the world stage. Amazing.

Dylan says he is writing a book about his first week in NY.

NY, NY: A place to pound a nail:
"There's a couple of chapters in it," Dylan says. "It's about somebody that's come to the end of one road. He knows there's another road there, but he doesn't know exactly where it is. And knows that he can't go back on the other road. All kinds of stuff there, all kinds of thoughts."

Dylan is tired of the interview at this point, signaling that he has had enough. The coy Terkel lets Dylan rest during a period of conversation, then some how draws yet another song out.

"Blowin' In the Wind, that's a popular song!" Terkel says.

Dylan, evidently resentful, responds: "Oh god, I hope not!"

* * * * * * *
The show ends here.