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Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Airborne Toxic Event - The Last Six Months

ANOTHER STEP ON THE PATH: Next Saturday, Los Angeles' Airborne Toxic Event arrives in Boston to play a sold-out Paradise Rock Club. The selling out of shows across the country is yet another sign the band made all the right moves the last six months. Early fall last year, the Airborne Toxic Event's songs began getting requested on popular independent rock and alternative radio stations. The band was about to release their self-titled debut when it happened....

The Airborne Toxic Event

A REVIEW BY PITCHFORK CAN KILL AN ALBUM & RUIN A BAND: The band was given some horrible news... Airborne Toxic Event's forthcoming record might arrive in stores D.O.A. following a a widely-read but thoroughly negative review by Pitchfork. The band, who were stunned, felt they had to respond, but how? Leaving a nasty retaliation to Pitchfork on the band's fan message board wouldn't amount to much and would come off as 'sour grapes.' The band needed to reach a much wider audience. And what they did was brilliant -

On September 17, 2008 - the Airborne Toxic Event wrote an Open Letter to Pitchfork that solved all their problems. We launched our blog (content follows below). We have also includedour assemblage of Pitchfork's most ridiculous and nasty reviews of material released by really good bands.

Is the art of "the honest review" lost...? The goal of criticism should not be wrapped up in one's latent nastiness. Reviews should not serve as a platform for the reviewer's regular exposition proving their elitist ego-centrism... Criticism may include those things if it is absolutely required. But negativity and snark need not be the start and ending point of every piece. One is left wondering where it was that Pitchfork lost it's way.

PITCHFORK'S GREAT HITS
Reviews from America's Worst Music Journalists.
Ripping apart pretty decent projects...
The Airborne Toxic Event - 1.6
Soundteam - 3.7
Cold War Kids - 5.0
Black Kids - 3.3 (no words)
The Dandy Warhols - 3.3
Death From Above 1979 - 0.5
Nada Surf - 3.8
Longwave - 3.7
Belle and Sebastian - 0.8
Har Mar Superstar - 2.0
Ben Folds Five - 3.3
Let me know if I missed any good ones.

AN OPEN LETTER TO PITCHFORK
published (unedited) in its entirety

West Coast Avengers: The Airborne Toxic Event

Dear Ian,
Thanks for your review of our record. It's clear that you are a good writer and it's clear that you took a lot of time giving us a thorough slagging on the site. We are fans of Pitchfork. And it's fun to slag off bands. It's like a sport -- kind of part of the deal when you decide to be in a rock band. (That review of Jet where the monkey pees in his own mouth was about the funniest piece of band-slagging we've ever seen.)

We decided a long time ago not to take reviews too seriously. For one, they tend to involve a whole lot of projection, generally saying more about the writer than the band. Sort of a musical Rorschach test. And for another, reading them makes you too damned self-conscious, like the world is looking over your shoulder when the truth is you're not a genius or a moron. You're just a person in a band.

Plus, the variation of opinions on our record has bordered on absurd. Most of what's been said has been positive, a few reviews have been on the fence and a few (such as yours) have been aggressively harsh. We tend not to put a lot of stock in this stuff, but the sheer disagreement of opinion makes for fascinating (if not a bit narcissistic) reading.

And anyway we have to admit that we found ourselves oddly flattered by your review. I mean, 1.6? That is not faint praise. That is not a humdrum slagging. That is serious fist-pounding, shoe-stomping anger. Many publications said this was among the best records of the year. You seem to think it's among the worst. That is so much better than faint praise.

You compare us to a lot of really great bands (Arcade Fire, the National, Bright Eyes, Bruce Springsteen) and even if your intention was to cut us down, you end up describing us as: "lyrically moody, musically sumptuous and dramatic." One is left only to conclude that you m ust think those things are bad.

We love indie rock and we know full well that Pitchfork doesn't so much critique bands as critique a band's ability to match a certain indie rock aesthetic. We don't match it. It's true that the events described in these songs really happened. It's true we wrote about them in ways that make us look bad. (Sometimes in life you are the hero, and sometimes, you are the limp-dicked cuckold. Sometimes your screaming about your worst fears, your most trite jealousies. Such is life.) It's also true that the record isn't ironic or quirky or fey or disinterested or buried beneath mountains of guitar noodling.

As writers, we admire your tenacity and commitment to your tone (even though you do go too far with your assumptions about us). You're wrong about our intentions, you're wrong about how this band came together, you don't seem to get the storytelling or the catharsis or the humor in the songs, and you clearly have some misconceptions about who we are as a band and who we are as people.

But it also seems to have very little to do with us. Much of your piece reads less like a record review and more like a diatribe against a set of ill-considered and borderline offensive preconceptions about Los Angeles. Los Angeles has an extremely vibrant blogging community, Silver Lake is a very close-knit scene of bands. We're one of them. We cut our teeth at Spaceland and the Echo and have nothing to do with whatever wayward ideas you have about the Sunset Strip. That's just bad journalism.

But that is the nature of this sort of thing. It's always based on incomplete information. Pitchfork has slagged many, many bands we admire (Dr. Dog, the Flaming Lips, Silversun Pickups, Cold War Kids, Black Kids, Bright Eyes [ironic, no?] just to name a few), so now we're among them. Great.

This band was borne of some very very dark days and the truth is that there is something exciting about just being part of this kind of thing. There's this long history of dialog between bands and writers, NME ripping apart the Cure or Rolling Stone refusing to write about Led Zeppelin -- so it's a bit of a thrill that you have such a20strong opinion about us.

We hear you live in Los Angeles. We'd love for you to come to a show sometime and see what we're doing with these lyrically moody and dramatic songs. We're serious about this stuff. You seem like a true believer when it comes to music and writing so we honestly think we can't be too far apart. In any case, it would make for a good story.
all our best-- Mikel, Steven, Anna, Daren, Noah

The Airborne Toxic Event on Letterman
Recorded January 2009


Airborne Toxic Event

Myspace / Web

The DJ Playlist


I Played It, They Heard It. I recently put a playlist together when I was DJing over at Great Scott in Allston. These are hot songs, a couple of cool old favorites and some very entertaining new artists you should get to know. Got some nice feedback. We didn't get through all of this - so if you were there, here's the full list. If you see any of the items or bands highlighted, that means there's a link (!) to recent material or news on the band! Check it:

RSL Playlist - Great Scott Allston, MA - 2.17.09

Colorguard - Division Day
The Ghost Types - Bridges and Powerlines
Searching for the Ghost - Heartless Bastards (Best of 09)
Girlfriend - Matthew Sweet
Fog - Mason Proper (2008 Album of the Year)
Tell Me in The Morning - Cold War Kids
Jacket - David Vandervelde (Best of 07)
Hole in My Shoe - David Cory
White Lie - Blackmarket
Things are What You Make of Them - Bishop Allen
Rehab - Amy Winehouse
McCarren Pool - Justice of the Unicorns (Best of 08)
The Angel's Share - Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
Bigger than Life - Letters + Colours
Music is my Hot Hot Sex - Cansei Ser Sexy
Never There - Cake
Trashcan - Delta Spirit (2007 Album of the Year)
Nothing More to Say - Joel Plaskett Emergency
Healthy Diets - Jacksonknife
Victory at Monterey - Albert Hammond Jr.
Cellphone's Dead - Beck
Lessons Learned - Matt & Kim (Best of 09)
Hades Lady - Pop Levi (Best of 07)
Straight to Hell - The Clash
Lost to the Lonesome - Pela
Kink - Archie Bronson Outfit
Jetway Junior - Head of Femur
Dancing With Myself - The Donnas
Grown So Ugly - The Black Keys (Best of 08)
Ode to LRC - Band of Horses (Best of 07)
My Girls - Animal Collective (Best of 07 and 09)
The Twist - Frightened Rabbit
Fitz and Dizzyspells - Andrew Bird (Best of 09)
Amos Moses - Alabama 3
The W.A.N.D. - Flaming Lips
Swingin' Man - Jesse Malin (Best of 07)
Judy is a Dick Slap - Belle & Sebastian
Favorite People - Travels (Best of 09)
Over and Over - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Friday, February 27, 2009

Jana Mashonee

SOMEONE TO KNOW: A promising new singer, Jana Mashonee has a beautiful voice and a preserving spirit to match. Since the 2006 release of Mashonee's GRAMMY-nominated album, American Indian Story, the singer-songwriter hasn't had much rest... Along with touring extensively before sold-out audiences internationally, Jana has taken up some causes and played benefit shows. Mashonee's own non-profit organization, The Jana's Kids Foundation, helps Native American and Aboriginal children achieve their dreams through motivational programs and through scholarships to those kids that achieve scholastically, artistically and athletically. (Mashonee is, herself, of Lumbee Indian heritage and has won an impressive 7 Native American Music Awards.)


NEW MOON BORN: Back at work, Mashonee has a brand new album titled, New Moon Born filled with heartfelt and uplifting tracks. And it's impossible not to respect the power in this singer's voice. What we like best is that Mashonee is using her talent to connect with people and to give back to her community. Along the way she has made a lot of friends. Ultimately Mashonee's songs are open books that allow listeners to peer into her soul and in doing so finding out something new about themselves.


JANA MASHONEE
Web / Myspace / Facebook

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Stage Photography: The Morning Benders at the Middle East

Photographic Evidence: The Sold Out Morning Benders/Submarines
VENUE: The Middle East in Cambridge- Feb. 13, 2009

One of the Best Early Tours of 2009 wraps up this week as the Morning Benders and The Submarines (more live photos) arrive in California for shows in San Francisco (Friday 2/27) and Los Angeles (Saturday 2/28). If our show is any indicator, pictures below, it was one hell of a tour! The Morning Benders are an embracing band with tons of charm. Since seeing them last year on stage in Boston with the Kooks, the Morning Benders have grown as musicians and it shows up on stage! What's up Next for the Benders? Anxious audiences at SxSW!

Submarines live shots will be up shortly, stay tuned!


Hit Play and Check Out The Photos!
The Morning Benders - Fools Rush In
(Johnny Mercer cover!)











All images by RSL photographer Sean Hafferty.


The Morning Benders
Myspace page / Official Web

The Soul of Dan Auerbach

A Haunting, Powerful New Sound: I can't really say enough good things or add too much you probably don't know about The Black Keys, but I'll try. The Akron, OH, duo have produced some of the most amazing blues-influenced modern rock I have ever heard. They made the RSL 20 Albums You Need to Own in 2008 List. And now the Keys' Dan Auerbach, a soulful premiere guitar blues man in his own right, has a stellar new project, Keep It Hid, in 2009. Auerbach is on tour, bringing his brand of rock and blues on the road. You Would Do Well to Catch this One!

Dan Auerbach

In this case, the beard is proportionate to the skill level

Dan Auerbach - My Last Mistake
(Streaming Audio Link - Will Open in New Window)




SIDE A
Trouble Weighs a Ton
I Want Some More
Heartbroken, In Disrepair
Because I Should
Whispered Words
Real Desire
When the Night Comes

SIDE B
Mean Monsoon
The Prowl
Keep It Hid
My Last Mistake
When I Left the Room
Street Walkin'
Goin' Home

HOW IT CAME TOGETHER: Keep It Hid was produced and engineered by Auerbach at his studio Akron Analog and features him playing a variety of instruments, including drums, guitar, percussion, and keyboards. Many of Auerbach’s friends and family play on the album, including his uncle James Quine, who contributes vocal harmony and electric guitar on the track “Street Walkin.” Other musicians include fellow Ohioans Jessica Lea Mayfield, who sings on the track “When the Night Comes,” and Bob Cesare, who plays drums on “Whispered Words,” a song originally written by Auerbach’s father. The record was mixed by Auerbach’s friend Mark Neill at Neill’s Soil of the South studio.

NOW ON THE ROAD
10 CITY TOUR:

* Feb 28 9:30 Club - Washington DC
* March 1 Paradise - Boston, MA
* March 2 Music Hall of Williamsburg - Brooklyn, NY
* March 3 Bowery Ballroom - NYC
* March 5 Beachland Ballroom - Cleveland, OH
* March 6 Metro - Chicago
* March 7 First Avenue - Minneapolis, MN
* March 10 The Showbox - Seattle
* March 11 Wonder Ballroom - Portland, OR
* March 13 Bimbo’s - San Francisco
* March 14 El Rey Theatre - Los Angeles

WIN BOSTON TICKETS from Ryan's Smashing Life!
On March 1st, Dan Auerbach comes to Boston on his 10 City Tour. Win a Pair of Passes to the gig! All you need to do to be eligible is to send us a message with the title of Dan's album, "Keep It Hid" in the Subject Line. Inside the Email Give Us Your Full Name. (No entry information is shared.) You must be 18+ with a Valid ID. Passes are non-transferable. Winners will be notified in a couple of days! Good Luck!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ben Kweller tonight at the Somerville Theatre

QUALITY TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE: You have to love Ben Kweller, a down-to-earth, self-made man, he designs his own webpage, twitters with fans and is offering some pretty cool album packages for his forthcoming album Changing Horses record in March. We are looking forward to this one! (You can pick it up through digital download/mp3 - $7.99, cd - $11.99, limited edition LP [comes with a CD] - $19.99. The CD and LP each come with a huge promotional poster. Now that's what we call marketing!) Tonight, Ben plays the Somerville Theatre, a relatively tiny venue. For just $24, you get a ring-side seat to a hell of a show! If you are already a fan, or just want to check out the rumors - this is the time and place to do it!

Ben Kweller

Ben Kweller - Wait
Beatles cover!

Ben Kweller
Twitter / Myspace / Facebook

Monday, February 23, 2009

KICKS - A New Album from the 1990s!

TOTALLY RED HOT! - I am delighted to share the news that Kicks, the brand new album from The 1990s is due for release March 23 in Europe & March 24 in North America. The band has been bathed in the sunlight of some fairly complimentary press the last few months following the release of their debut album, Cookie.

And based on what we are hearing, Kicks, will well - stomp all over the earlier material and should be one of the best rock albums of 2009. Here's to new music - we can't wait to hear this live!

New Music from the 1990s

WORLD PREMIERE:
1990s - The Box

WHO ARE THE 1990S? - These altruistic former "brothers in arms" of Franz Ferdinand are making great music, just having trouble getting dates. It's talented, raw rock without any of the pretentiousness! Both the 1990s and Franz Ferdinand are descendant of Glasgow's The Yummy Furs - a rock quartet that initially formed in 1992. When the Furs split, two members (the McMorrow brothers) went on to form the 1990s. (The other two fellas went on to form Franz Ferdinand!)

In a 2006 article appearing in UNCUT Magazine, The 1990s get a write up and a tearing down, of sorts: "The 1990s. Two parts ex-Yummy Fur - Jamie McMorrow (bass, crazy teeth) and Jackie McMorrow (vocals/guitar, crazier teeth) - to one part Ex-V Twin Michael McGaughrin (drums, Monkees haircut.)" Jamie has since left the band, replaced by Dino Bardot on bass. Now solely led by the frenetic energy of Jackie McMorrow (who I met last year here in Boston - his delightful smile as wide as his teeth, crooked) the 1990s are about to embark in an exciting new direction in 2009. This should be really, really good!

BONUS VIDEOS:

GET EXCITED:

The 1990s
Web / Myspace / Rough Trade

Travels - The Hot Summer

DATELINE: BOSTON - We don't have very far at all to go today to find our profile band. It's our friends in Somerville; Anar Badalov (formerly of Baltimore faves Metal Hearts) and Mona Elliott (formerly of Boston's beloved Victory at Sea.) This creative couple have released their second remarkable album, called ONE HOT SUMMER, and we are delighted to share it with you, as we think it's pretty incredible!

Making A Lasting Impression:
I DJed between the sets of a recent band night and chose this song to share with the audience. It was very well received. A couple of people asked me what band it was - both assuming it was a national act! They were both happy and surprised that it was created right here in Boston. Music has a way of speaking to people - especially when it's Travels!


The New Release - Highly Recommended!



TRAVELS myspace
(links to buy the album)

the TRAVELS blog

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Bitter Tears' "Jam Tarts" will Warm Winter Nights

A Vibrant New Album: I imagine it goes without saying that I listen to a lot of albums. That said, "love at first listen" is a decidedly rare occurrence - I doubt it happens more than four times a year. The alt-country stirrings and diverse influences on "Jam Tarts in the Jakehouse" the sophomore album from Chicago's The Bitter Tears (March 3 on Carrot Top) made it easy to fall for this upbeat and quirky record.

The Bitter Tears -Jam Tarts in the Jake House

March 3 on Carrot Top Records

Jam Tarts gives us a rock-country flavored album spiced with a dash of south-of-the-border. A couple of the songs ("Starlight" and "Worthless Sleeze") even have a Squirrel Nut Zippers vibe. (On other tracks we hear elements of Cracker and Of Montreal!) Its just these kind of vibrant, shining moments, strung together that makes summer seem not so far away.


The Bitter Tears are Alan Scalpone (vocals, guitar, brass, woodwinds), Michael McGinley (vocals, brass, strings), Bill Borton (drums), John Leonard (piano) and Greg Norman (vocals, guitar, trombone). Besides the astounding number of instruments, much of what you read about them is that their live shows are "really something". Apparently their last tour involved a fair number of wedding dresses being worn. Reviewers also frequently threw around the term "vaudevillian" in describing their performance which suggests a pretty entertaining show.

This is a great CD, pick it up March 3rd.

UPCOMING DATES
Mar 7 - Hideout - Chicago, IL
Mar 12 - Gasthaus - Eligin, IL
Mar 13 - Basement 414 - Lansing, MI
Mar 14 - The Old Miami - Detroit, MI
Mar 15 - Grasslands - Brooklyn, NY
Mar 17 - Mohawk Place - Buffalo, NY
Mar 18 - The Pour Haus - Louisville, KY
Mar 20 - Valley of the Vapors Festival - Hot Springs, AR
Mar 21 - The Cinemat - Bloomington, IN

The Bitter Tears
Web / Myspace / Carrot Top Records

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Decemberists - The Hazards of Love + Tour Dates

MAKING FRIENDS & INFLUENCING PEOPLE: The new album is in the can and The Decemberists are on the road again! In March, the highly anticipated, "The Hazards of Love," will become available online and in stores. The band will also be appearing in a live venue near you. (Especially of interest to music fanatics attending the SxSW Music Festival is a live show on March 18th with The Heartless Bastards at the NPR party at Stubb's!) Here are ALL the upcoming tour dates and a preview of the record!



2009 Tour Dates

03/18/2009 - Austin, TX
NPR Showcase at SxSW
Stubb's BBQ w/ Heartless Bastards!

5/19 Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Palladium
5/20 Oakland, CA - Fox Theatre
5/21 Eugene, OR - McDonald Theater
5/24 Missoula, MT - Wilma Theatre
5/26 Denver, CO - Fillmore Auditorium
5/27 Kansas City, MO - Uptown Theater
5/29 Milwaukee, WI - Riverside Theater
5/31 St. Louis, MO - The Pageant
6/1 Columbus, OH - Lifestyle Communities Pavilion
6/3 Atlanta, GA - Tabernacle
6/4 Raleigh, NC - Memorial Auditorium
6/5 Richmond, VA - The National
6/6 Upper Darby, PA - Tower Theatre
6/9 Boston, MA - Bank of America Pavillion
6/10 New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall
06/11 - 06/19 - Manchester, TN
The Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival!

The HARZARDS of LOVE
UK (March 23) & US (March 24)

Tracklisting:

1. Prelude
2. The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won't Wrestle the Thistles Undone)
3. A Bower Scene
4. Won't Want for Love (Margaret in the Taiga)
5. The Hazards of Love 2 (Wager All)
6. The Queen's Approach
7. Isn't it a Lovely Night?
8. The Wanting Comes in Waves / Repaid
9. An Interlude
10. The Rake's Song
11. The Abduction of Margaret
12. The Queen's Rebuke / The Crossing
13. Annan Water
14. Margaret in Captivity
15. The Hazards of Love 3 (Revenge!)
16. The Wanting Comes in Waves (Reprise)
17. The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)

The Decemberists
Web / Myspace / Facebook

Also of Interest:
Decemberist John Moen's 2009 Side Project
PERHAPST (Highly Recommended!)

Acoustic Breakfast - The Heartless Bastards' Erika Wennerstrom

HUNGRY FOR A GREAT ACOUSTIC PERFORMANCE?

The Heartless Bastards
(One of the RSL's Top Three American Live Bands of 2009) are already well on their way to becoming many people's pick as artist of the year at this point. The band released the absolutely must-have album, The Mountain , (review - recommended!) back at the beginning of the month. The Bastards are about to embark on the second leg of their national tour that will take them through Austin's SxSW Music Festival (dates below!)

An upcoming NPR live recording at Philadelphia's World Cafe will be aired on NPR on March 19. (Just about the time the band reaches South-by-Southwest. We are anxiously anticipating this one!)

We have a little treat for you today
.... We hope this holds you over! It's Erika Wennerstrom's acoustic performance of the Heartless Bastard's 2006 hit, "Searching for the Ghost." This is sensational!

Erika Wennerstrom

Erika at Great Scott in Allston, MA - 2.3.09
Josh Bean photograph, courtesy of Melophobe


HEARTLESS BASTARDS dates:
02.28.09 - Hailey’s - Denton, TX
03.15.09 - The Pageant - St. Louis, MO
03.16.09 - Liberty Hall - Lawrence, KS
03.17.09 - Cain’s Ballroom - Tulsa, OK

03.18.09
- SXSW - Austin, TX
2:30pm CST - Venue TBD
The PASTE PARTY
10:00pm CST - Stubb's
NPR Music Showcase & BBQ
(w/Decemberists & The Avett Brothers!)
03.19.09 - SXSW - Austin, TX
5:00pm CST - Roky Erickson Ice Cream Social
At Threadgills - 301 W. Riverside Drive
03.20.09 - SXSW - Austin, TX
In-Store @ Waterloo Records - 600A North Lamar

03.21.09 - House of Blues - Houston, TX
03.23.09 - Lyric Oxford - Oxford, MS
03.29.09 - Mr. Smalls - Pittsburgh, PA
with Gaslight Anthem
04.02.09 - Turner Hall - Milwaukee, WI
with Gaslight Anthem
04.03.09 - The Bottom Lounge - Chicago, IL
with Gaslight Anthem
04.04.09 - Varsity Theater - Minneapolis, MN
with Gaslight Anthem
04.07.09 - The Warehouse - Calgary, AB
with Gaslight Anthem
04.08.09 - The Starlight Room - Edmonton, AB
with Gaslight Anthem
04.10.09 - The Plaza Nightclub - Vancouver, BC
with Gaslight Anthem
04.15.09 - The Boardwalk - Sacramento, CA
with Gaslight Anthem
04.16.09 - Slim’s - San Francisco, CA
with Gaslight Anthem
04.21.09 - The Clubhouse - Tempe, AZ
with Gaslight Anthem
04.24.09 - Gothic Theater - Denver, CO
with Gaslight Anthem

Heartless Bastards
Myspace / Facebook/ Web

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Last Ever WHITE STRIPES performance on Conan

ON TELEVISION: Conan O'Brien is the best there is right now on late night TV. He took that spot over from Letterman long ago, though Dave still shows signs of his early brilliance! With Conan taking over the Tonight Show from Jay Leno - necessitating a shift in time and a change geography (LA). That means tonight's White Stripes performance will be their last ever time on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

Who knows what will happen? Ahhhh, a resurrected Stripes show! (The band has been on hiatus with Meg's confirmed bout with stage fright and the huge success of Jack's other band - the Raconteurs.) And then there's the strong and long-standing friendship between the White Stripes and Conan. The story of how they met and their NUMEROUS live appearances is rather interesting. (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!) Either way, this is going to be good!

The WHITE STRIPES

Original Artwork by Shawn Barber

VIDEO ARCHIVE:
THE WHITE STRIPES ON CONAN






The RSL Live Show Review:
The White Stripes in Boston: 7/23/07

Conan O'Brien
Check Your Local Listings

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - a New Direction?

DATELINE: NYC - It's Blitz! (April 14) is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs followup to 2006's masterful and decidedly indie rock, Show Your Bones. Based on the press release we received from their band [Yeah Yeah Yeahs are Karen O (vocals), Nick Zinner (guitar, keyboard) and Brian Chase (drums)] along with the surprising new single, Zero, indicating the band is headed in a totally new direction in 2009. (Think a lot less guitar, prominent synthesizers and pop production values.)


The Yeah Yeah Yeahs


Karen O :: photo by Simon Leak

PRESS RELEASE: "It's Blitz!" will be released on 14th April on DGC/Interscope preceded a week prior by single "Zero" - a huge, electronic dance-floor anthem of a song. NOTHING else feels like this right now. "We've got a death grip on the adolescent way of feeling things," says Karen O, touching on the track's euphoric abandon. Editor's Note: Please listen and decide for yourself...


It should be interesting to see if the YYY's new direction totally enthralls or simply serves to disengage the band's core fans. What's your feeling?

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Web / My / Fb

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bob Dylan's Spring 2009 Album!

Add the words, "Modern Prolific" to the many, many adjectives used to classify Bob Dylan. The man will release his umpteenth album in April according to word we just received. ("Ten new tracks are expected for the record, which was reportedly recorded in California in October of last year." - this is an unexpected album that sprang out of a period of productivity, says Uncut online. ) This is new new - it's not even up on the Bob Dylan official website. A big thanks and a tip of the hat to our friend Rach!


Sold Out for a Very Good Reason

The Delta Spirit returns in a Very Big Way. You know, it used to be much easier to keep a really good secret. Actually, I think it's great that people are falling for San Diego's Delta Spirit. It's a band I have seen numerous times now and have promoted the hell out of on these pages (2007 Album of the Year, amongst others appearances...)


Delta Spirit


One of the Three Best Live Bands in America: In a post in which I recently lauded the amazing-ness of Cincinnati's Heartless Bastards (is amazing-ness a word?), I mentioned that HBs and Delta Spirit (along with NYC's Pela) were the three best live shows in America. I stand by those three (obvious) picks. And obviously, others are listening. This Friday's Delta Spirit show (2/20) at The Middle East (downstairs, of course) is completely sold out. Just for good measure, the New York show the next night (2/21) at the Bowery Ballroom is also sold out! If you are heading to either or even both of these two shows, have a blast - you are definitely one of the lucky ones.

DELTA SPIRIT

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dancing with DARLA FARMER

CARNIVAL ROCK from NASHVILLE: Named after a local bank teller, Nashville's Darla Farmer have a totally vibrant outlook and are seemingly in constant motion. With elements from the four corners and some pretty cool instrumentation - the band's debut release, "Rewiring The Electric Forest," (released this week on Paper Garden) deserves your attention and further exploration from this music blogger!

DARLA FARMER

The band reports have influences as far flung and diverse as Cursive, Blood Brothers and Tom Waits. On Rewiring the Electric Forest, forces combine and Darla Farmer creates an entirely distinctive, yet oddly universally appealing sound. Playing the SxSW Music Festival in Austin next month, this is one band to watch in '09.

Rewiring The Electric Forest


DARLA FARMER
Web / Myspace / Facebook / Itunes

Recurrent: Alabama 3 (A3) - A Savory Retrospective

Probably The Best Known Television Theme Song
From the last 10 Years and a slew of catchy tracks


ALABAMA 3

When I play songs for people in my home, make a mix or DJ, I like to watch their response to something they have never heard before. This was the case this week when I added a little Alabama 3 (or A3 as they used to be known) into the mix. The results were as predictable as they were positive: People like this band's music.

Alabama 3 have a great quote up on their myspace page: "We make Sweet Mutherfucking Country Acid House music. All night long. We're not from Alabama, and there's not three of us. We're from Brixton, London. We're the fellas that did that Soprano's theme tune. That tune bought someone a swimming pool, but it sure wasn't any of us..."



In celebration of a long, esteemed and wholly unique career (understatement of the year) that has seen The Guardian dub them “the best live band in Britain” Alabama 3 have released a definitive retrospective album. Hits and Exit Wounds (One Indian Records). The album showcases "Woke Up This Morning" (The Sopranos Theme Song) along with he album contains previously unreleased material including "SKA’D For Life" from the film SW9 (Vertigo Films), a collaboration between the legendary Orbital and Alabama 3 and "Mansion on The Hill" re-mixed by Arthur Baker (responsible for New Order’s One Monday and Confusion). The album also includes a re-mix of "How Can I Protect You" from the up and coming film ‘Borstal Productions’.

VIDEO: "Woke Up This Morning"



To most Americans, the only thing that's going to ring a bell is their work on the Soprano's theme song. But know that Alabama 3 and "Woke Up This Morning" came before the television show did. The rest of their body of work (before and since) is equally exciting and soul-filled. Hits and Exit Wounds is definitely a worthy addition to your collection.

Highly Recommended:
Alabama 3 - Amos Moses

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

An Addition to the RSL Family


Family Time

GREAT NEWS! - I want to take a moment to congratulate our very own Nick Parker and his wife Jill (crediting mostly Jill, of course) for the new arrival to their family over the weekend! Welcome to the world, Colum Joseph Parker! We can't wait to meet you.

Monday, February 16, 2009

SNEAK PEAK - Boston's House of Blues in Pictures!

THE MYSTERY & THE WAIT ARE OVER: The New House of Blues Boston is Unleashed! Special Thanks to Bostonist (a must-read, people!) for giving us this cool look at some of the spaces and rooms (photographic evidence!) from inside The World's newest House of Blues. Once a dance and performance super-structure of connected clubs, the new HoB will allow for some adjustments in size as required by demand.

We are ticketholders too and we are hoping that the spate of upcoming live shows planned produces good results. (We are also hoping that the HoB generates new audiences and doesn't end up simply stealing the door from the smaller sites we know and love!) At any rate - here is what our friends at Bostonist have up for PIX!



Dark Was The Night!

PICK IT UP - ROCK FOR A CAUSE: Musicians are working together these days performing some pretty sensational songs for Dark Was The Night a new benefit albums for the Red Hot organization (an international charity dedicated to raising money and awareness for HIV and AIDS through popular culture). The latest compilation (a double CD) was produced by Bryan and Aaron Dessner from the National. This one offers up all new, original songs from some seriously hefty talent (see below) and it goes on sale on Tuesday. Never has doing the right thing sounded so good!

Read on to for the artist/track list and to find out how you those of you in the Boston/Cambridge area can listen - and maybe win a copy tonight - before you can even buy the album:




DARK WAS THE NIGHT
TRACKLISTING:

Disc One
01. "Knotty Pine" - Dirty Projectors & David Byrne
02. "Cello Song" (Nick Drake) - The Books featuring Jose Gonzalez
03. "Train Song" (Vashti Bunyan recorded, written by Alasdair Clayre) - Feist & Ben Gibbard
04. "Brackett, WI" - Bon Iver
05. "Deep Blue Sea" - Grizzly Bear
06. "So Far Around the Bend" - The National (arrangement by Nico Muhly)
07. "Tightrope" - Yeasayer
08. "Feeling Good" (popularized by Nina Simone) - My Brightest Diamond
09. "Dark Was the Night" (Blind Willie Johnson) - Kronos Quartet
10. "I Was Young When I Left Home" (Bob Dylan) - Antony & Bryce Dessner
11. "Big Red Machine" - Justin Vernon & Aaron Dessner
12. "Sleepless" - The Decemberists
13. "Stolen Houses" (Die) - Iron and Wine
14. "Service Bell" - Grizzly Bear & Feist
15. "You Are The Blood" - Sufjan Stevens

Disc Two
01. "Well-Alright" - Spoon
02. "Lenin" - Arcade Fire
03. Mimizan - Beirut
04. "El Caporal" - My Morning Jacket
05. "Inspiration Information" (Shuggie Otis) - Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
06. "With A Girl Like You" (The Troggs) - Dave Sitek
07. "Blood Pt 2" (based on original song "You are the Blood" by the Castanets) - Buck 5 Remix (featuring Sufjan Stevens and Serengeti)
08. "Hey, Snow White" (Destroyer) - The New Pornographers
09. "Gentle Hour" (Snapper) - Yo La Tengo
10. "Another Saturday" (traditional song) - Stuart Murdoch (Belle & Sebastian)
11. "Happiness" - Riceboy Sleeps
12. "Amazing Grace" (traditional song) - Cat Power and Dirty Delta Blues
13. "The Giant Of Illinois" (Handsome Family) - Andrew Bird
14. "Lua" - Conor Oberst & Gillian Welch
15. "When the Road Runs Out" - Blonde Redhead & Devastations
16. "Love vs. Porn" - Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene)

HEY BOSTON, CD LISTENING PARTY TONIGHT! Our friend DJ Brad from Bradley's Almanac is hosting a listening party for Dark Was The Night at River Gods in Cambridge. This is your chance to hear the material before anyone else and to maybe even win a copy before you can buy it. (And, of course, to have a great time listening to exceptional new music!)

The evening kicks off at 8pm, and is brought to you by Red Hot, 4AD, Insound, River Gods, Dewar's, and of course, Bradley's Almanac. River Gods is located at 125 Cambridge St., in Cambridge, MA, near Central Square. The Facebook event page for the listening party is here, and to preview some songs from the compilation, head here.

The listening party will include giveaways (several copies of the two-disc compilation, along with some surprise musical goodies, and even some complimentary beverages), and guest DJ Ryan Walsh from Boston-based band Hallelujah the Hills, who will join me in selecting songs to play before and after the album itself. And in the spirit of the occasion, we'll also be collecting donations for the Boston Living Center, an area HIV/AIDS assistance program, so bring a few extra dollars for the jar if you can spare them.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

RED HOT '09 :: Ezra Furman & The Harpoons (New Video!)

HEADING TO AUSTIN: Boston's Ezra Furman & the Harpoons are headed to the SxSW Music Festival next month. We have been fans of this group (all Tufts students) since 2007's Banging Down the Doors. There's lots to look forward to here in 2009. In addition to new dates (likely signaling upcoming new material?) Ezra Furman and Co. are releasing videos!


Ezra Furman

Ezra Furman & the Harpoons
"Take Off Your Sunglasses"


Ezra Furman & the Harpoons
Web / Myspace / Facebook

The Paul Noonan (Bell X1) Interview

RSL INTERVIEW SERIES: Ireland's Bell X1 have been one of the busiest bands on the globe the last few years. Since their last full-length album, Flock, they have traveled extensively on a furious tour schedule that has seen them play shows on both sides of the Atlantic. A new album set for a March 3rd release will place them, again, in the limelight!

BELL X1

Dave Geraghty, Paul Noonan & Dominic Phillips

TOURING & NEW ALBUM: A recent, nationally-televised appearances on Letterman has earned the band even more attention. The band has even undergone some lineup changes - all in an attempt to perfect their sound for their latest album: Blue Lights on the Runway, a record that recalls Eno-era Talking Heads, Sigur Ros, and XTC, amongst others. The band's central trio of Paul Noonan, Dave Geraghty, and Dominic Phillips penned every song on the record.

I prepared for my interview with X1 singer Paul Noonan by listening to our review copy of the new album. It's safe to conclude Blue Lights will draw the band a whole new audience of devotees. Tracks like “The Great Defector” are fun and approachable, and others, like closing song “The Curtains are Twitchin’” show Bell X1 are worthy comparison to peers like The Frames.

I caught up with Paul recently in Los Angeles where the band was again on tour. I would soon learn "Blue Lights on the Runway" was born of "draughty old Irish castles" and "Eastern European getaways."


Available March 3



NICK PARKER of RSL: Thanks for the opportunity Paul. I wanted to start out by asking about recording the new album, [“Blue lights on the runway.”]. How much involvement do you have in the recording process? Are you really hands on with that stuff?

PAUL: I think we’d be pretty hands on at this stage. This is the first album that is ‘our record’ – we fully own it – and we’ve got lots of studio gear that we’ve amassed over the years, and we tend to just find a nice space to put it up in. We’ve done the last two records that way.

RSL: So effectively you’ve produced the album yourself?

PAUL: Yes, well our good friend Bill Hayes has been involved in the last two records. I wouldn’t be too au fait with the technical aspects, but Dave [Geraghty] is good at that.

RSL: You recorded in Dublin, yes?

PAUL: Well, we found a castle in the middle of Ireland. It had these great big drafty rooms with high ceilings – really for lords and ladies. There’s all this really characterful old stately homes that are very cold, but have great acoustics.

RSL: Was Blue Lights on the Runway recorded all in one place?

PAUL: Yes. We try to keep going until we have to stop, so we did maybe a month of recording in the house and then, between all the bouts of touring we did last year, we’d take some time and maybe use people’s houses to finish things up.

RSL: It seems like it’s becoming more and more rare these days to record everything in one place.

PAUL: That seems to be the way things are going as the recording process has evolved.

RSL: Do you think it affects the project a lot, whether you record in one place or many?


Paul Noonan
photo by Ivi Rebova

PAUL: Yes, I think often you can overwork things as a result of meddling, as opposed to the recording needing that work. We did a session the other day with Steve Lilywhite in New York, and he was very much of the opinion that you should come into a proper studio, having rehearsed a shit-load, and having a pretty good idea of where you’re going. He put forward the somewhat controversial hypothesis that Sergeant Pepper… being the first high profile band who really didn’t know what they were going to do until they got in the studio, and then they used the studio as an instrument… that Sergeant Pepper killed music, which I think is being willfully controversial…

RSL: That is a pretty extreme perspective!

PAUL: Yeah, you can be wonderfully creative by looking at it that way too.

RSL: One track I really liked was “The Great defector” - it seems to me to have a lot of Talking Heads in it? Are they a big influence of yours?

PAUL: Yes, they would be. We may have gone a bit far with that one! But yes, when I first saw the video to Road to Nowhere, as a young kid, the physical comedy, as well as the visual aspect, appeals to people of a really young age. I suppose only in the last few years have I gone back and listened to their earlier records and loved them.

RSL: So you’d say they were a major influence then?

PAUL: They have been. I remember when we were making our second record [Music in Mouth] in 2002 in Chiswick, London, and we’d go back from the studio to our flat each night and one of the guys would put on their album “Fear of Music,” which I had never heard, and was a really joyous thing to hear when you’re in the throws of a creative process. It was a real inspiration.

RSL: Yes, there’s that great track – if I recall correctly – “American Guitars” or “Electric Guitars”…

PAUL: Yes, “Electric Guitars” is a great one.


RSL:
So, given this big influence from an American Band, would you say you would have more roots in Irish or American music?

PAUL: Well, I don’t really think of us as an Irish band, whatever that means…

RSL: I mean, is there a big difference between music from the two places still, do you think?

PAUL: Yeah, Ireland has a bunch of very strong singer-songwriters, because the oral tradition in Ireland gives it that strength. You grow up [in Ireland] in a culture of storytelling, and playfulness with language, and I think that makes a big difference to the music scene. But I don’t think of us as particularly from that world, although being Irish does have a big influence on my writing.

RSL: The drums parts and synths in songs like “How your heart is wired” have some 80s overtones.


Paul Noonan
photo by Maj Britt

PAUL: We’re not exactly re-inventing the wheel with that, but we did have a lot of fun playing with synths and drum loops. I suppose I wanted to take tracks that we would have written in a more tradition way – on acoustic guitar or on piano – say Dave and I, at each other’s houses, and then take those songs and dress them in beats, etc. so they’d sound a little more fresh, but not change the backbone of the song.

RSL: So do you think that’s coming out of some older musical interests, or is it resurgent right now in general?

PAUL: I think it comes out of an appreciation for older bands. We are big fans of Depeche Mode, and we learnt a couple of their songs to play acoustically, and we discovered that their was great writing there – songs that would stand up with a single voice and acoustic guitar. We really like New Order as well, on the strength of their songs.

RSL: Could you talk a little bit about your creative process, since you seem to have so many roles in the band! How do things usually get started?

PAUL: There’s no real formula for it. In the past when we’ve landed on something that works and then tried it again, it doesn’t, which I suppose is one of the beauties of music. This time around I spent some time alone in Eastern Europe writing, and learning the more computer based ways of producing songs, so a lot of the initial writing was done like that. With the last record we were in a position to start songs with the four us [together], from scratch, but this time the songs were pretty well formed before we all got together.


Paul Noonan
photo by Sharim Rahman

RSL: So the Eastern European trip you did, was that specifically to write, or were you there for other reasons?

PAUL: It was just to get and away and write. In Dublin there are too many distractions!

RSL: I understand you still do the drumming when you’re in the studio – is that right?


PAUL:
This is actually the first one I haven’t done. Tim O’Donovan, who’s been playing with us live for year did them this time.

RSL: So does that imply your moving to ‘fronting’ the band more? How does it feel when you go back to that instrument [the drums]?

PAUL: I really enjoy it. I miss it when I don’t do it. I try to get out once or twice a year and tour as a drummer with other bands. But we don’t really have that sharply defined roles within Bell X1 – we move from instrument to instrument. I enjoy not playing drums while recording all the time. I enjoy the freedom of being able to sing properly. I don’t see that as a new role for me really. Bringing Tim in to play drums gave us an injection of his energy and his feel for things. It’s quite a rhythmically driven record and we talked a lot about that, and he [Tim] has his own style which was a great thing to capture.

RSL: You’ve toured with The Frames in the past. I wondered what your thoughts were about the effect of the popularity of The Swell Season, and the film Once, on the Irish music scene? Is the scene really thriving right now?

PAUL: I don’t really know. I think for a long time the term Dublin band was a derogatory one, associated with a sort of blusterous pub-rock. I don’t think that’s any longer the case – that stereotype doesn’t ring true. I mean, there’s great electronic music in Dublin, there’s good, straight ahead three piece rock bands, there’s even some good hip-hop. It is pretty diverse. The singer-songwriter scene is still very strong, and some of that is the result of once. Glen [Hansard] is such an established singer-songwriter, and he’s connected to so many different eras of the singer-songwriter. That fact that he’s achieved this recognition, it pulls everybody up. It re-enforces the idea of quality song-writing from Ireland.

RSL: Thanks for you time, and good luck with the tour. I’m hoping to be at the Boston show myself.

PAUL: I’m sure it will be a messy affair, but we’ll try to keep order!

BELL X1
Web / Myspace / Facebook