Monday, April 30

ELLIOTT SMITH

Lest anyone take offense at my slagging off ELLIOTT SMITH in my last post, I have searched my "archives" and come up with a song of his that does not -- hallelujah! -- put me to sleep. (Actually, I came up with more than one, but this particular ditty beguiled me the best.)

[
MP3] "Bottle Up and Explode!"

WINTERPILLS


Massachusetts' WINTERPILLS describe their sound as "four weeks of rain, two days of sun, and the voice of someone you thought you had lost forever." Okay then. That should clear THAT up.

In an attempt to be a little more helpful: They traffic in sad-sounding, acoustic folk-pop that might put you in mind of ELLIOTT SMITH, STARS, and/or early ROSEBUDS. Unlike the forever-overrated Smith, however, Winterpills sometimes pick up the pace and leaven the gloom. (Guess that's the "two days of sun" thing.)

Helping matters a whole hell of a lot is the just-plain-pretty male-female vocal interplay between primary songwriter PHILIP PRICE and keyboardist FLORA REED. Melancholy, it is. But navel-gazing, it is not.

You can stream Winterpills' new album, THE LIGHT DIVIDES, in its entirety [
HERE].

WINTERPILLS on MYSPACE.

WINTERPILLS in-person >>>

May 2 2007 8:00P/Ram's Head Tavern/Annapolis, Maryland
Jul 20 2007 8:00P/Club Passim/Cambridge, MA (Dennis Crommett opens)

From the LP THE LIGHT DIVIDES, 2007 >>>
[
MP3] "Broken Arm"
[
MP3] "Shameful"

From their self-titled LP, 2005 >>>
[
MP3] "Laughing"
[
MP3] "Portrait"

LAST DAYS OF APRIL


Today seems an especially appropriate day, calendar-wise, to spotlight Stockholm's LAST DAYS OF APRIL.

Led by KARL LARSSON, their latest LP, MIGHT AS WELL LIVE, came out in March. It is not, however, currently available in the U.S. (other than as a pricey import). Such is life.

LAST DAYS OF APRIL on MySPACE.

LAST DAYS OF APRIL in Europe >>>

Apr 30 2007 8:00P/Cockpit/Leeds
May 1 2007 8:00P/Academy 3/Manchester
May 2 2007 8:00P/Academy 2/Birmingham
May 3 2007 8:00P/Garage/Glasgow, Scotland
May 4 2007 8:00P/Mean Fidler/London
May 5 2007 8:00P/Magnet/Berlin
May 6 2007 8:00P/Drushba/Halle
May 7 2007 8:00P/KFZ/Marburg
May 8 2007 8:00P/Chelsea/Wien

[
MP3] "Hanging High"

[MP3] "Who's on the Phone?"

Friday, April 27

GOLDEN SMOG


Just this past October, I wrote:

"GOLDEN SMOG are an alt-country supergroup featuring members of THE JAYHAWKS, WILCO, and SOUL ASYLUM. These guys put out albums in 1995 and 1998 (DOWN BY THE OLD MAINSTREAM and WEIRD TALES, respectively), back when "alt-country" looked like it was really going places and when that particular label still fit the group's sound. With their latest release, ANOTHER FINE DAY, that sound has shifted more into the realm of indie pop, with the Jayhawks influence holding the most sway (in the guise of GARY LOURIS)."

Determined, apparently, to let no grass grow beneath their feet, Golden Smog released BLOOD ON THE SLACKS, an eight-song EP/LP/whatever-the-hell, this past Tuesday. For my money, the first four tracks are the keepers.

GOLDEN SMOG on MySPACE.

From the EP/LP/whatever-the-hell BLOOD ON THE SLACKS, 2007 >>>
[
MP3] "Can't Even Tie Your Own Shoes"
[
MP3] "Starman"

From the LP ANOTHER FINE DAY, 2006 >>>
[
MP3] "You Make It Easy"
[
MP3] "Cure for This"

Thursday, April 26

SOPHE LUX


As I started this post, I was under the assumption that SOPHE LUX was the name of the woman who sings the songs on the album WAKING THE MYSTICS.
Bad assumption. Turns out, Sophe Lux is a band. Turns out, the woman who sings the songs is the band's primary tunesmith GWYNNETH HAYNES (sister of queercore filmmaker TODD HAYNES).
Like her brother, Ms. Lux... er... HAYNES has an affinity for the old-fashioned-theatrical. Call it kooky cabaret. Think: THE DRESDEN DOLLS. REGINA SPEKTOR. Or, in terms of pure vocal comparison: HEATHER NOVA. MILLA.
Milla is MILLA JOVOVICH -- model, actor, and, in 1994, the woman who sang the songs on the album THE DIVINE COMEDY.
(Note: The two Gwynneth Haynes... er... SOPHE LUX songs I've chosen here for your consumption are the two that LEAST sound like Milla, Regina Spektor, or the Dresden Dolls. They are the least kooky; the least cabaret. Methinks them also the two best tunes on the record.)

SOPHE LUX on MySPACE.

SOPHE LUX hither, thither, and yon >>>

Apr 27 2007 8:00P/McDonald Theatre - U of O, Eugene/Out Loud Music Festival/Eugene, Oregon
May 12 2007 8:00P/Someday Lounge: A Benefit for the Leukemia and Lymphoma/Portland, Oregon
May 23 2007 9:00P/Doug Fir Lounge w/Dahlia!!!/Portland, Oregon
Jun 16 2007 1:00P/Portland Waterfront Park/Gay Pride/Portland, Oregon

[
MP3] "Little Soldier of Time"

[
MP3] "Lou Salome"
BONUS TRACKS >>>

[
MP3] MILLA/"It's Your Life"

[
MP3] MILLA/"Gentleman Who Fell"

[
MP3] MILLA/"In a Glade"

ABERNETHY

JOE ABERNETHY is a singer and musician not at all interested in being famous. Or so it would seem.
I went on a search for a photograph of him online. Couldn't find one. Maybe he's shy.
He is, at the very least, Canadian. Which probably explains a lot.
From Vancouver, to be exact. Vancouver is rumored to be beautiful. Mountains and water and parks and suchlike. Also: rain. Which probably explains such Abernethy song titles as "Ancient Lake," "Flowers," and "The Weather."
Such songs with such titles (and eight other songs with other titles) can be found on the album COLLEGE GROVE, which can be found [HERE] (if you're Canadian) or [HERE] (if you're not). If you prefer to purchase digitally and are from anywhere at all, you can go [HERE].
But for one track, COLLEGE GROVE is a slow, brooding affair. It is also quite beautiful. Like Vancouver, perhaps. Though I've never been. So I wouldn't know.
Abernethy's voice is a deep and rich instrument, made even more luscious through layering. He is also a poet, citing LEONARD COHEN as an influence. Not that he sounds like Leonard Cohen. He doesn't. Maybe if you hijacked Leonard Cohen out of Manhattan and left him, helpless, in some sunny meadow, without a single drop of scotch... maybe then Abernethy would sound like Leonard Cohen. But, no, I don't think so. Not even then.
Now, I don't want you to think that Abernethy is some hippy-dippy huckster of New Age-y pastoral pop. Or that he's crafting music for Druids. Neither would be true; both would miss the mark. Yes, sure, he's interested in lakes and flowers and weather and suchlike. But he lives in Vancouver. Which is rumored to be beautiful. So what choice does the man have? None at all, I would submit. He is a victim of geography. Pity him.
Finally, remember a minute ago when I said "but for one song"? (Scan back, if you need to. I'll wait....)
Okay then, here's what I meant when I said that: Opening track "Astronaut" is anything BUT "hippy-dippy" or "New Age-y." Its brightness and bounciness would have Druids confused. More BELLE AND SEBASTIAN (or MORRISSEY, drunk on love, in a sunny meadow) than Leonard Cohen (or even Joe Abernethy), it's a corker of a tune. I'm guessing, the day Abernethy penned it, it wasn't raining. In Vancouver. Or anywhere else.

ABERNETHY on MySPACE.

ABERNETHY on stage >>>

May 5 2007 10:00A/The Chapel @ 10pm (New Music West)/Vancouver
May 23 2007 9:30P/Railway Club (with The Battles and Bells Clanging)/Vancouver


[
MP3] "Astronaut"

[
MP3] "The Weather"

Wednesday, April 25

THE DETROIT COBRAS


After visiting this morning with PATTI SMITH, we're going to stick around the Motor City and check in on THE DETROIT COBRAS.

The Cobras got their start around the same time as THE WHITE STRIPES, but unlike Jack & Meg (who left Detroit for Nashville), they've chosen not to abandon their hometown. Granted, they've gone through a dizzying number of line-up changes over the years, but they're still kicking out their vintage, R&B/'60s garage-rock tunes.

For proof, check out their latest release, TIED & TRUE, on BLOODSHOT RECORDS this coming Tuesday.

THE DETROIT COBRAS on MySPACE.

THE DETROIT COBRAS shakin' their groove thang >>>

May 11 2007 8:00P/Pier Six Concert Pavillion/Baltimore, Maryland
May 12 2007 8:00P/Southpaw/New York, New York
Jun 28 2007 8:00P/City Block Summer Music Festival/Springfield, Massachusetts
Jul 11 2007 8:00P/The Mad Hatter/Covington, Kentucky
Jul 12 2007 8:00P/Little Brother's/Columbus, Ohio
Jul 13 2007 8:00P/Mr. Small's Theatre/Millvale, Pennsylvania
Jul 14 2007 8:00P/Beachland Ballroom/Cleveland, Ohio
Jul 15 2007 8:00P/Mohawk Place/Buffalo, New York
Jul 25 2007 8:00P/Blue Cats/Knoxville, Tennessee

From the LP TIED & TRUE, 2007 >>>
[
MP3] "(I Wanna Know) What's Going On"
[
MP3] "You'll Never Change"

From the LP BABY, 2005 >>>
[
MP3] "Cha Cha Twist"
[
MP3] "I Wanna Holler (But the Town's Too Small)"

PATTI SMITH


Fresh off her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, punk-poetess PATTI SMITH is taking a break from the rigors of her own wordplay and going the cover-song route.
Not that this is the first time. It was, after all, her radical reworking of VAN MORRISON's "Gloria" that served as her calling card into the '70s punk scene. Now, over 30 years later, she's releasing a full album's worth of covers and calling it, simply, TWELVE.
As much as I admire Ms. Smith, I have to agree with a number of reviews I've read on this particular collection. Almost all of them hit on twin deficiencies: 1) Some eclectic-to-the-point-of-baffling song selections, and 2) A preponderance of unadventurous -- almost "by-the-numbers" -- treatments of the tracks.
To the first point... Smith seems out of her depth trying to put a fresh spin on TEARS FOR FEARS' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and PAUL SIMON's "The Boy in the Bubble." Terrific tunes, both -- but neither seems a particularly good fit for Smith's spiritual aesthetic. JIMI HENDRIX's "Are You Experienced?" and JEFFERSON AIRPLANE's "White Rabbit" would seem far more apropos, but the performances, unfortunately, are nothing to write home about. The STONES' "Gimme Shelter" and DYLAN's "Changing of the Guard" are given solid readings, but being merely competent when it comes to cover songs only begs the inevitable, common-sensical question: Why bother?
Smith's version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" -- complete with one of her patented, beat-poetry middle eights -- will no doubt infuriate die-hard NIRVANA disciples, but at least it takes some chances with its arrangement and instrumentation. At first, I was sure that her clear enunciation of Cobain's lyrics was doing the tune a disservice (mosquito/libido, etc.), but repeat listens have convinced me that, in ANY hands, this song will always hold water. Here, it's a ragged thing of beauty, and -- 16 years after it first burst upon us -- that somehow seems fitting.

PATTI SMITH on MySPACE.
PATTI SMITH on the road >>>

May 2 2007 8:00P/Roxy Theatre/Los Angeles, California
May 10 2007 8:00P/Arts Centre/Kendal
May 11 2007 8:00P/Coronation Hall/Ulverston
May 13 2007 8:00P/Vicar Street/Dublin
May 17 2007 8:00P/Roundhouse/London
May 18 2007 8:00P/St. Giles-in-the-Field Church/London/London and South East
May 19 2007 8:00P/All Tomorrow's Parties/Minehead
May 20 2007 8:00P/Academy/Liverpool
May 22 2007 8:00P/ABC/Glasgow

From the LP TWELVE, 2007 >>>
[
MP3] "Changing of the Guard"
[
MP3] "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

From the LP GUNG HO, 2000 >>>
[
MP3] "Glitter in Their Eyes"

From the LP GONE AGAIN, 1996 >>>
[
MP3] [VID] "Summer Cannibals"

From the LP EASTER, 1978 >>>
[
MP3] "Because the Night"

Tuesday, April 24

ALL SMILES


ALL SMILES is the new project for JIM FAIRCHILD, formerly of the now-defunct GRANDADDY. He received a little help from his friends on this one -- performers from such top-tier indie acts as MODEST MOUSE, THE BLACK HEART PROCESSION, SLEATER-KINNEY, MENOMENA, GREAT NORTHERN, etc.
The proceedings on ALL SMILES' first LP, TEN READINGS OF A WARNING, are low-key but assert a certain undeniable undertow -- whether propelled by subdued acoustic guitar or jaunty, saloon-styled piano.
The record is out today.
ALL SMILES on MySPACE.
[MP3] "Backward, Forward, Through"
[MP3] "I Know It's Wrong"

ELK CITY


When I first heard the ELK CITY song "Cherries in the Snow" in April of '05, I didn't know a thing about the band, and I didn't know where the song came from. At the time, I didn't really care. I just knew that I liked the hell out of the tune, and that was good enough.
Turns out, that track I was so smitten with was merely a demo. I only learned this last week, after stumbling into Elk City's new LP, NEW BELIEVERS. Yes, there it was -- "Cherries in the Snow" -- right up top in the lead-off position. I was almost afraid to listen to the thing. What if they'd changed it? What if they'd screwed it up?
But no, it remained pretty much intact. The beginning bells. The skittering, tubthumping drums. The oooh-la-las. All were there. The only changes that I could make out were some minor, textural background instrumentation and the addition of a purposefully (one hopes) wanky guitar solo.
As for "Los Cruzados," it rides a somewhat sinister, two-tone bassline to its chorus, where the sky opens wide, the synths stream in, and singer RENEE LoBUE starts letting loose with the "Hallelujahs." It's a simple yet effective dichotomy, and I'm willing to bet it worked pretty damn well in demo form as well.

ELK CITY on MySPACE.
ELK CITY visiting various cities >>>

Apr 24 2007 9:00P/La Carène/Brest, France
Apr 25 2007 8:00P/Le Cabaret Electrique/Le Havre, France
Apr 26 2007 8:00P/La Lune des Pirates/Amiens, France
Apr 27 2007 8:00P/Le Ciel/Grenoble, France
Apr 28 2007 8:00P/Le Café Charbon/Nevers, France
Apr 30 2007 8:00P/Le Mediator/Perpignan, France
May 11 2007 9:00P/UNION HALL/Brooklyn, New York

From the LP NEW BELIEVERS, 2007 >>>
[
MP3] [VID] "Cherries in the Snow"
[
MP3] "Los Cruzados"

From the LP STATUS, 2000 >>>
[
MP3] "Dreams of Steam"
[MP3] "California Dreamin'"

Monday, April 23

I DON'T LIKE MONDAYS

Not sure how it didn't occur to me to post these last Monday. If you know the backstory to the song, you'll understand -- whether you have ties to Virginia Tech or not....

[
MP3] TORI AMOS/"I Don't Like Mondays"

[
MP3] THE BOOMTOWN RATS/"I Don't Like Mondays"

THE VEILS


My second favorite album of 2006 was NUX VOMICA by THE VEILS. I'm happy to report that it will finally be released in the U.S. tomorrow.

Here's what I had to say about it previously:

"THE VEILS are singer/songwriter FINN ANDREWS's baby, especially after he fired all of his bandmates after their 2004 debut, THE RUNAWAY FOUND. As he was barely 20 at the time, that deed no doubt seemed premature and precipitous -- the act of an emotionally unsteady enfant terrible.

Be that as it may, if the guy continues to produce thrillingly schizophrenic albums like 2006's NUX VOMICA, I say let him lay as many sacrificial heads on the chopping-block as his cold, dark heart desires.

Andrews's music has a shape-shifting, chameleon-quality to it (as does his voice, which is one that some listeners will have to grow to love). Just when you've got the record pegged as a well-executed exercise in breezy indie-pop and bright, joyous choruses ("Calliope!," "Advice for Young Mothers to Be"), the guy hauls out his hairshirt and starts going to town ("Jesus for the Jugular," "Pan"). But once that's done, he'll find the time and inclination to lighten up and do the BRUCE/E STREET BAND thing ("A Birthday Present"), or put his own stamp on the whole FRANZ FERDINAND/EDITORS/etc. trend ("One Night on Earth"). Through it all, that aforementioned voice of his rises and falls; sags and soars. At times, it's highly evocative of STARSAILOR's JAMES WALSH. But on the slow-burn-to-explosive title track, he could just as well be JEFF BUCKLEY's bitter big brother, angrily lurching his way through a DOORS/LED ZEPPELIN bender.

The musical journey NUX VOMICA will take you on isn't the easiest you'll ever experience; there are a number of detours you'll have to endure. But, sometimes, getting lost and having to find your way back by unexpected means can make for the most exhilerating and worthwhile journey of all."

Overwritten, per usual. But I stand by the general gist.

THE VEILS on MySPACE.

THE VEILS on the trail >>>

Apr 25 2007 8:00P/Glasswerk-Xfm Outbreak 3 Festival/Islington Academy/London
May 2 2007 9:00P/Mezz/Breda
May 3 2007 8:00P/Doornroosje/Nijmegen
May 4 2007 8:00P/Melkweg/Amsterdam
May 5 2007 6:45P/Bevrijdingsfestival/Groningen
May 6 2007 9:00P/Rotown/Rotterdam
May 14 2007 8:00P/Ancienne Belgique/Brussels
Jun 7 2007 8:00P/Mercury Lounge/NYC
Jun 8 2007 8:00P/Union Hall/Brooklyn, New York
Jun 9 2007 8:00P/Great Scott/Boston, Massachusetts

[MP3] "One Night on Earth"
[MP3] "Under the Folding Branches"
[VID] "Advice for Young Mothers to Be"

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT


RUFUS WAINWRIGHT's new album, RELEASE THE STARS, sees the light of day on May 15.

You can preview it [
HERE]. And pre-order it [HERE].

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT on MySPACE.

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT on parade >>>

Apr 25 2007 8:00P/Palace of Fine Arts/San Francisco, California
Apr 27 2007 8:00P/Coachella/Indio, California
Apr 28 2007 8:00P/Belly Up Tavern/Solana Beach, California
May 1 2007 8:00P/El Rey Theatre/Los Angeles, California
May 22 2007 8:00P/Le Trianon/Paris
May 24 2007 8:00P/Portsmouth Guild Hall/Portsmouth
May 25 2007 8:00P/Bristol Colston Hall/Bristol
May 27 2007 8:00P/Old Vic Theatre/London

[MP3] "Between My Legs"

[MP3] "Going to a Town"

Saturday, April 21

LEONARD COHEN




SONY LEGACY will be releasing remastered and expanded versions of LEONARD COHEN's first three albums this Tuesday. Seems as good a reason as any to revisit those records. (These, alas, are "unremastered" versions. So sue me.)
LEONARD COHEN on MySPACE.

From the LP THE SONGS OF LEONARD COHEN, 1968 >>>
[
MP3] "So Long, Marianne"
[
MP3] "Suzanne"
[
MP3] "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye"

From the LP SONGS FROM A ROOM, 1969 >>>
[
MP3] "The Partisan"

From the LP SONGS OF LOVE AND HATE, 1971 >>>
[MP3] "Famous Blue Raincoat"

Friday, April 20

CLIENT


Not to be confused with the UK's THE CLIENTELE, the UK's CLIENT specialize in dark, drone-y synth pop. If you're on E, you can dance to it.

And, as some of you may know, Fridays are occasionally the times here on Sprockets when we ingest our ecstasy, touch our monkeys, and dance. Dance, my monkey!

CLIENT on MySPACE.

From the LP HEARTLAND, 2007 >>>
[MP3] "Drive"
[MP3] "Heartland"

From their self-titled LP, 2003 >>>
[MP3] "Here and Now"

CLOUD CULT


Rumor has it that Al Gore's favorite band is THE BEATLES. If that's true, it may prove highly inconvenient to him once he learns of Minneapolis's CLOUD CULT. Indeed, a flip-flop of John Kerry-proportions may soon be in order.
CLOUD CULT was formed by CRAIG MINOWA in 1995 as a "not-for-profit, music-centered, environmental and philosophical movement." Well, THAT sure sounds like a bucket of monkeys, now doesn't it. But hey, at least the word "music" is in there. That's a start.
Minowa, it should be noted, got his degree in Environmental Science and has worked for groups such as Greenpeace, Clean Water Action, and Citizens for a Better Environment. (You listening, Al?)
The band rather gradually grew into the six-person collective that it is today. Of course, one of those persons plays the cello and two of those persons are painters. Yes, that's right... while the other four persons are playing their instruments on stage, these other two are... well... just up there painting pictures, I guess.
Naturally, it should come as no surprise that, when the band tours, it tours "green." Thus, they endeavor to counter their CO2 emissions from travel "with acres of tree planting, purchasing wind power credits to power the stages, and equipping the tour van with solar panels." (Getting horny yet, Al?)
CLOUD CULT's latest album, THE MEANING OF 8, came out April 10 and is intent on "comparing religions and philosophies from around the world with Carl Jung's theories of universal symbolism and collective unconscious." Hoo boy. There's that bucket of monkeys again....
Fortunately, the music is a lot more fun than that description would seem to suggest. CLOUD CULT's sound has been compared to that of both BECK and MODEST MOUSE, and it certainly does have an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink quality to it. Radical style-shifts occur not only BETWEEN songs, but WITHIN them. Think of this listening experience as akin to strolling a street-fair. Not partial to the wares in this booth? Try that one over there. With 19 songs, THE MEANING OF 8 has booths aplenty.
(Oh, and Al... one last thing.... Craig Minowa lives on an "organic farm powered by geothermal energy and built partially from reclaimed wood and recycled plastic." Yeah, that one should pretty much seal the deal....)

CLOUD CULT on MySPACE.

CLOUD CULT on their eco-friendly way >>>
Apr 20 2007 10:00P/Shank Hall/Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Apr 21 2007 8:00P/Macalester College/Saint Paul, Minnesota
Apr 22 2007 10:00P/Dempsey's: The Aquarium/Fargo, North Dakota
Apr 24 2007 8:00P/The Filling Station/Bozeman, Montana
Apr 25 2007 10:00P/The Badlander (18+)/Missoula, Montana
Apr 26 2007 8:00P/Fez Ballroom (21+)/Portland, Oregon
Apr 27 2007 1:00P/KEXP - Seattle In-Studio/1pm/Seattle
Apr 27 2007 8:00P/Neumos (all ages)/Seattle, Washington
Apr 28 2007 8:00P/Willamette University (Brown Field)/Salem, Oregon

From the LP THE MEANING OF 8, 2007 >>>
[MP3] "Please Remain Calm"
[MP3] "Take Your Medicine"

From the LP ADVICE FROM THE HAPPY HIPPOPOTAMUS, 2005 >>>
[MP3] "Car Crash"

Thursday, April 19

NICOLE ATKINS


AMG calls New York City singer-songwriter NICOLE ATKINS a mix of ROY ORBISON, LORETTA LYNN, and JENNY LEWIS. Well, gee. Couldn't they raise their expectations just a LITTLE bit?

I'd also throw a dash of NELLIE McKAY into that melting pot. And if you've ever wondered what MAMA CASS would sound like covering a SHIRLEY BASSEY James Bond theme (and who HASN'T?), then just give a listen to Atkins' sultry and soaring "The Way It Is" [below].

That song will appear on her debut full-length, NEPTUNE CITY (named for her New Jersey hometown), which will be available June 26 on COLUMBIA. In the meantime, you can delve into her distinctive brand of country-cabaret on her 2006 EP BLEEDING DIAMONDS by purchasing the bloody thing at INSOUND, iTUNES, or any number of other on- and off-line retailers.

High expectations be damned: Nicole Atkins looks to be a keeper.

NICOLE ATKINS on MySPACE.

NICOLE ATKINS, town-to-town >>>
Apr 23 2007 8:00P/The Paradise/Boston, Massachusetts
Apr 24 2007 8:00P/The Fire/Philadelphia, Oklahoma
Apr 25 2007 11:00P/The Red & Black/Washington DC
Apr 28 2007 8:00P/"Under the Enchantment with the Sea" PROM PARTY @ Union Pool Williamsburg/Brooklyn, New York
Apr 30 2007 10:00P/The Paradise/Boston, Massachusetts
May 18 2007 11:00P/The Stone Pony/Asbury Park, New Jersey
May 20 2007 8:00P/The Chameleon Club w/the Avett Brothers!/Lancaster


From the LP NEPTUNE CITY, 2007 >>>
[MP3] "The Way It Is"

From the EP BLEEDING DIAMONDS, 2006 >>>
[MP3] "Carouselle"
[MP3] "Snowshakes"

BONUS TRACK >>>

[MP3] "Skywriters"

TRAVIS



I became something of a fan of TRAVIS back in the THE MAN WHO era. Somewhere around the turn of the century that would have been, if memory serves.
Other than a handful of songs, though, I haven't followed the band all that closely since. Suddenly, there were just too many groups playing slow-to-slightly-less-slow, pastoral Britpop in the world. Pretty stuff, to be sure -- but somewhat colorless and wallpapery in the final analysis.
To their credit, they're still plugging along -- with new album THE BOY WITH NO NAME due on May 8. I'd have to say that it leans more to the "slow" than the "slightly-less-slow," and the "somewhat colorless" and "wallpapery" still apply as well. But, to be fair, so does the "pretty." So there it is.
TRAVIS on MySPACE.
TRAVIS & their travels >>>

Apr 28 2007 8:00P/Coachella/Palm Springs, California
Apr 29 2007 9:00P/Henry Fonda Theatre/Los Angeles
May 2 2007 8:00P/Fillmore/San Francisco
May 15 2007 8:00P/Grimsby Auditorium/Grimsby
May 16 2007 8:00P/Caird Hall/Dundee
May 17 2007 8:00P/Barrowlands/Glasgow
May 19 2007 9:00P/Aberdeen Music Hall/Aberdeen, Scotland
May 21 2007 8:00P/Newcastle Academy/Newcastle
May 22 2007 8:00P/Manchester Apollo/Manchester

[MP3] "Selfish Jean"

[MP3] "Eyes Wide Open"

Wednesday, April 18

7 FOR WEDNESDAY


A random assortment for your sampling pleasure. Have a happy Hump Day.

[MP3] THE FEATURES/"Commotion"

[MP3] EDITH FROST/"Cars and Parties"

[MP3] THE FINE ARTS SHOWCASE/"Spanish Kerosene"

[MP3] SHE'S SPANISH, I'M AMERICAN/"Jon Jon"

[MP3] SLOAN/"Right or Wrong"

[MP3] THE WANNADIES/"Nothing Wrong"

[MP3] PERFORMANCE/"Surrender"

Tuesday, April 17

PINTO

My favorite "crazy-ass socialist" Swedes, PINTO, have finished their debut LP; now they're just looking for somebody to release it. Shouldn't take too long.

In the meantime, they continue to make music and let people download it for free. Thus: "crazy-ass."





PINTO on MySPACE.
[MP3] "We Breathe Too Much"

[MP3] "Palm of My Hand"

THE CONCRETES


VICTORIA BERGSMAN up and flew the coop. To do her own thing. To sing (and whistle?) with PETER BJORN AND JOHN.
But Stockholm's
THE CONCRETES are pushing right on. Their new album, HEY TROUBLE, is already out in Scandinavia and will be released in the UK in early June.



THE CONCRETES on MySPACE.

THE CONCRETES in Sweden >>>

Apr 18 2007 8:00P/Inkonst/Malmö
Apr 19 2007 8:00P/Herrgårn/Linköping
Apr 20 2007 8:00P/Pustervik/Göteborg
Apr 27 2007 8:00P/Kalmar Nation/Uppsala
May 26 2007 8:00P/Siesta Festival/Hässleholm

From the LP HEY TROUBLE, 2007 >>>
[MP3] "Kids"
[MP3] "Keep Yours"

From the LP IN COLOUR, 2006 >>>
[MP3] "Chosen One"

Tuesday, April 10

ARCTIC MONKEYS

These guys seemed overrated to me before, and they still do. But I found two songs that worked for me on their first album, and I found two (or three) on the new one [FAVOURITE WORST NIGHTMARE; April 24; DOMINO]. At this pace, I should have a solid, 80-minute mixtape from these young fresh fellas by 2015.

ARCTIC MONKEYS on parade >>>
Apr 27 2007 12:00A/Coachella Music Festival/Indio, CA
May 1 2007 12:00A/Warfield Theatre/San Francisco, CA
May 2 2007 12:00A/Roseland Theatre/Portland, OR
May 3 2007 12:00A/The Showbox/Seattle, WA
May 4 2007 12:00A/Commodore Ballroom/Vancouver, BC
May 7 2007 12:00A/First Avenue/Minneapolis, MN
May 8 2007 12:00A/Riviera Theatre/Chicago, IL
May 9 2007 12:00A/Clutch Cargo's/Pontiac, MI
May 11 2007 12:00A/Kool Haus/Toronto

[MP3] "Teddy Picker" [REMOVED UNDER PRESSURE]

[MP3] "Fluoroscent Adolescent" [REMOVED UNDER PRESSURE]

Monday, April 9

THE ICICLES


Today's artists in the spotlight -- THE ICICLES -- hail from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Many of you may be aware that the late President Gerald R. Ford called that city home for a significant portion of his life. But did you also know that it has been home to actors GILLIAN ANDERSON and ANDY RICHTER? Or the respective screenwriters of TAXI DRIVER and TOP GUN? Or the lead singers of RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, TOOL, and... uh... well... THE VERVE PIPE? Fascinating but true!

Also, if you happen to live in OMIHACHIMAN (Japan), BIELSKO-BIALA (Poland), PERUGIA (Italy), GA DISTRICT (Ghana), or ZAPOPAN (Mexico), then you will be pleased-as-punch to learn that your cities are official "sister" cities to Grand Rapids. Exciting? You betcha!

And you better believe the place has a music scene. It may not be Athens, Seattle, or even Omaha just yet, but you can't blame that on the aforementioned ICICLES. They've been busting their humps in relative obscurity for a number of years now, but their official coming-out party seems imminent with today's release of their second album, ARRIVALS & DEPARTURES, on MICROINDIE RECORDS.

When I first wrote about the band in July of 2006, I had this to say:

"THE ICICLES play breezy, '60s styled pop - all swirling synths, groovy basslines, girl harmonies, handclaps, and tambourine. The ALL GIRL SUMMER FUN BAND is a logical comparison point. HEAVENLY as well."

These things still hold true on ARRIVALS & DEPARTURES, though the group sounds even more assured (and, dare we say, "sophisticated") this time around. The inclusion of an extra guitarist only seems to have added to the band's chemistry, and they still dress like the Brady Bunch-on-acid (if the Bradys had four girls, no boys, and one bald Cousin Oliver). A promotional tie-in with Motorola (and their jaunty, nicely-named "Sugar Sweet") should only help them in the buzz-building department. So, look out, world.... Today: Grand Rapids. Tomorrow: Omihachiman!


THE ICICLES on MySPACE.
THE ICICLES flogging their wares by... uh... well... PERFORMING their wares >>>

Sun Apr 22/The DAAC/Grand Rapids, MI/with Casper & The Cookies
Mon Apr 23/Mickey Finn's Pub/Toledo, OH/with Casper & The Cookies & The Hat Company
Tue Apr 24/Modern Formations Gallery/Pittsburgh, PA/with Casper & The Cookies
Wed Apr 25/The Cake Shop/New York, NY/with The Besties & Casper & The Cookies
Thu Apr 26 7:00P/"Live Block"/BSR FM/Providence, RI
Thu Apr 26 7:30P/"Phoning It In"/WMBR FM/Cambridge, MA
Fri Apr 27/PA's Lounge/Somerville, MA/with Shumai, The Smittens & Casper & The Cookies
Sat Apr 28/The Thai Bar/Burlington, VT/with The Smittens
Sun Apr 29/Southpaw/Brooklyn, NY/with Casper & the Cookies
Mon Apr 30/The Khyber/Philadelphia, PA/with Casper & the Cookies
Tue May 1/Mohawk Place/Buffalo, NY/with Casper & The Cookies
Wed May 2/Beachland Tavern/Cleveland, OH/with Casper & The Cookies
Thu May 3/Over The Top Fest/Toronto, ON
Sat May 12/Garagefest/Grand Rapids, MI/3-10 PM (Headlining at 9)

From the LP ARRIVALS & DEPARTURES, 2007 >>>
[MP3] "Regret"
[MP3] "Snowbird"

From the LP A HUNDRED PATTERNS, 2005 >>>
[MP3] "I Wanna Know"
[MP3] "Sugar Sweet"

Sunday, April 8

NINA NASTASIA


I'm still in lazy-n-listless mode these days, though I'm hoping that NEXT week around here will be better and more productive than LAST week around here.

Let me nonetheless make things easy for myself by opening this post by quoting ALL MUSIC GUIDE:

"New York City singer/songwriter NINA NASTASIA creates intimate, spectral music that evokes some lost, skewed take on Americana and that is often laced with haunting strains of viola, cello, and bowed saw."

Now, I ask you: Who COULDN'T use a bit more "bowed saw" in their music? I mean, come on... it's the new "cow bell."

When I learned that Ms. Nastasia would be collaborating with JIM WHITE on her upcoming album, YOU FOLLOW ME [FATCAT RECORDS; May 28], I was quite excited. After all, I'd just posted on Mr. White back in November, and his Southern Gothic folk-stylings seemed a perfect match for Nastasia's.

Alas, I'm an idiot. THAT Jim White is not THIS Jim White (or vice versa). Damn these generic, utterly-unGoogleable monikers. Next we'll be hearing that "Mike Smith" has been hired to play "bowed saw."

Regardless, these new songs are spare and spooky and worth a listen or two....

NINA NASTASIA on MySPACE.

From the LP YOU FOLLOW ME, 2007 >>>
[MP3] "I've Been Out Walking"
[MP3] "Late Night"

From the LP ON LEAVING, 2006 >>>
[MP3] "Why Don't You Stay Home"

From the LP THE BLACKENED AIR, 2002 >>>
[MP3] "This is What It Is"

Saturday, April 7

BRIGHT EYES


I figure I better post some songs before this firm-gripped inertia of mine becomes a permanent one....

Today's album was a disappointment for me, but the artist is prolific, so I guess I can just wait for the next one.

CASSADAGA, meanwhile, drops April 10.



BRIGHT EYES on MySPACE.

BRIGHT EYES here 'n' there >>>

Apr 22 2007 8:00P/Pabst Theatre/Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Apr 23 2007 8:00P/Riviera Theatre/Chicago, Illinois
Apr 24 2007 8:00P/Riviera Theatre/Chicago, Illinois
Apr 25 2007 8:00P/State Theatre/Minneapolis, Minnesota
Apr 26 2007 8:00P/Holland Performing Arts Center/Omaha, Nebraska
Apr 28 2007 8:00P/Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre/Denver, Colorado
Apr 29 2007 8:00P/Kingsbury Hall/Salt Lake City, Utah
May 1 2007 8:00P/Paramount Theatre/Seattle, Utah
May 2 2007 8:00P/Crystal Ballroom/Portland, Oregon

[MP3] "Hot Knives"

[MP3] "No One Would Riot for Less"
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