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Sunday, December 27, 2009

One Fast Move or I'm Gone : Ben Gibbard and Jay Farrar


Reason no. 65 why Christmas was great this year.

Anyway, after streaming this album from the NPR website, I have my very own copy and am quite pleased with it. First off, I guess you have to be cool with a few things if you're going to like this album.

01. Jack Kerouac
02. Ben Gibbard's vocals
03. Cowboy folk

Still with me? Good. Obviously Gibbard is a Kerouac fan-- most of Narrow Stairs was written at Big Sur. He teamed up with Sun Volt's Jay Farrar and the pair decided to put music to text from Keruoac's poem "Sea" and his book Big Sur. After finding out that Kerouac was cool with folk music and not just exclusively into jazz, they put together this lovely album. According to Farrar, most of the songs were written in about 5 days and only received minor tweaks in the true fashion of Mr. Teletype himself.

Farrar and Gibbard really infuse the album with the right kind of spirit. One of the best parts of this project is the purity of the instrumentation. Many of the songs flirt with sparsity-- guitar and piano, plus the occasional well-placed slide guitar, harmonica, or organ. There's a slight ruggedness, a natural air to the album, and that's really what I've been chasing lately. Most days I am fairly confident I could live in a world without synth. This is an album of unpretentious campfire songs. It's beautiful like a California landscape, as it should be.

A few notables made contributions to the liner notes. Patti Smith wrote "It seems like [Kerouac]'s always been in the air-- in the curve of a steering wheel, the circling mandala, the rim of a bottle and the tip of a tongue." That line made me think about something else great about this album. Gibbard and Farrar let Kerouac's text breathe because they don't bury it under flashy instrumentation or their own musical egos. Kerouac is the big point here. They seem to know that.

Stand out tracks include "These Roads Don't Move" (Poetic and pretty), "California Zephyr," "Final Horrors" (dark and intriguing) and of course, "One Fast Move or I'm Gone" (easily the best song, Kerouac-brand wistfulness and maybe aversion to commitment).

* This album actually accompanies a documentary on the book Big Sur. Though, I'd say that the former has somewhat overtaken the latter at this point.

On a barely related note, I got to thinking about how much I like music and other things stripped down and somehow got to the idea that I'm taking a break from all social media-- no Twitter, no Wave etc. for a little while. It's nice.

Cheers.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

T.I. Released from Jail. Hallelujah.

Such a nice young man.
I just saw this story pop up in my Google Reader and couldn't resist fondly reminiscing about the zoo that was the first night of Vanderbilt's annual music festival Rites of Spring 2009. At the time T.I. was starring down his 366 days in jail and I was fairly certain that my press pass wasn't bullet proof, so my crew didn't hang around too long.

In any case, we can all breathe a sigh of relief as that musical mastermind has been released 7 months in to his sentence. After 3 months at a halfway house and an additional 23 days under house arrest, he's ours again, folks!

Mostly I remember reading the Rites of Spring line up and being disappointed when I realized he wasn't the guy with the top hat responsible for "I'm on a Boat."

Peace.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Musically Inclined Top 10 Finds of 2009

End of the decade. End of the year. It's a list-making bonanza! TMI is here to add yet another one to the mix.

2009 was an alright year for music. Once we got out from under the freak out over Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion, 2009 couldn't commit to being an indie kind of year (The Avett Brothers gathered some major steam and the Decemberists did us proud again) or a not-so-indie kind of year (Bruce. U2. Need I say more?).

So, what did happen? Kanye interrupted people. Green Day released another rock opera. T-Pain took to the water. Lady Gaga... I don't know. I'm still trying to figure that one out. We kept our earbuds plugged in and refused to admit that The Black-Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" is our new Friday night anthem. (Wait, did I just write that out loud?)Oh, and somehow The Beatles managed to bring in big bucks 40 years after breaking up.

That said, here are The Musically Inclined's Top 10 Finds of 2009. In an effort to keep things fresh, I made up some rules that dictate who can make it on the list.

1. It can be any artist or band that was unheard by TMI before January '09.
2. Songs have to be good. Catchy? Bouncy? Quirky? Yes, but mostly they just have to be solid. Doesn't hurt to be fun and mildly screwy, either. (See #4).

That's all. These tunes just had to survive my music turn over rate, and survive they did! I included YouTube links. Happy exploring.

1. Anonanimal : Andrew Bird


The shift to the breakdown towards the middle of the song alone would have earned Bird the top spot on the list. Noble Beast is a fine record-- unusual in its intricacy and beautiful in its instrumentation. It was the best I heard all year, and to think it came out in January. Listen

2. Auto-Tune the News #5 / Butter on My Roll : The Gregory Brothers


Miles away from the no. 1 entry, The Gregory Brothers have found fame by auto-tuning news clips and turning the boring punditry of Sunday mornings into catchy hip/hop/pop ditties that will have you singing the strangest phrases on loop. ("It's the smooooke!"). Yet further exploration revealed that The Gregory Brothers also have a brand of really cool, soulful tunes that and some killer voices that are far from needing auto-tune. For this Jekyll and Hyde of a band, TMI selected a song from each mode. The Gregory Brothers win the longevity award this year, as months have passed and I still can't shake Katie Couric singing about Fidel Castro. Listen / Listen

3. Blue Skies : Noah and the Whale


The National and Andrew Bird had a love child. True story. Found these guys thanks to a minor road trip and a friend with exceptional taste. It was hard to pick out just one track from the album, The First Days of Spring, but this represents the band pretty well. Listen

4. Meet Me in the Garden : Dent May and His Magnificent Ukulele


So bad it's good? So weird you can't look away? Maybe. TMI was intrigued by this over the top tongue-in-cheek (I hope) crooner. See for yourself why Dent couldn't have been left off the list. Listen

5. Cable TV : Fol Chen


Synthesized beats, blips, buzzes, sort of bored-sounding (or are they alluring, hmmm?) vocals-- that sort of thing. This song is just so cool and strange. Fol Chen is on the cryptic, mysterious side, covering their faces in photographs and the like. In any case, the video for this song fits so perfectly, it's ridiculous. Listen

6. When She's Near : Fiction Family


One part Nickel Creek, one part Switchfoot-- what a fantastic side project. Fiction Family has a warm folksiness that pervades the entire album. Think brightly colored fall leaves. This group is like the smart grandchild of the kind of music people used to play on their front porches-- aware of its roots but not consumed by them. Listen

7. The Crook of My Good Arm : Pale Young Gentlemen


Wisconsin. Eastern Europe. It works. Wrote up these folks in early January after finding them on a Paste Magazine Sampler CD. I think I used the term "gypsy rock" at the time. Yeah. Still works. A smidgen of Gogol Bordello. Unique without sounding gimmicky. Also still applies. Or you can just click here to read the entirety of what I originally wrote. Listen

8. My Girls : Animal Collective


Remember what I said about being catchy? Totally applies in an off beat way. Do we care what adobe slats have to do with anything? No. Listen

9. Worry About it Later : Brakes


Besides being a solid motto for how to live your life, this short, fast-paced little number goes by so quick you just have to back up and listen to it again. And again. Listen

10. Mimizan : Beirut

Oddly enough, this is the second Eastern Europe- channeling entry on this year's list. I first heard of Beirut in 2008 from a friend while sitting at my kitchen table, but it wasn't until I got the Dark Was the Night compilation that I actually heard them. The song sounds like it was put made by carnival folk, or put together from sounds off a merry-go-round. And somehow they pull it off. Listen

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Musically Inclined's Top Albums of the Decade

Several weeks ago, every music publication and their mother('s publication?) started putting out "best of the decade" lists. Of course, until that moment I hadn't actually thought about the fact that the decade was ending until Bob Boilen was waxing nostalgic about OutKast or whatever.

That said, if everybody's doing it (always solid justification to do anything), TMI would be remiss not to throw together a completely subjective list of albums from this first decade of the millennium, in the effort to celebrate (and to impress the reader-- more solid justification) the finer points of the past ten years.

Criteria: Must own album.

Note: I got 99 albums and Jay-Z ain't on one. Or Bon Iver. Or any White Stripes before 2006. Never bought the Arctic Monkeys album. Refused to buy anything by Arcade Fire. No, Wilco is not on this list either.

So here, not truly grounded in anything but my mood this afternoon, are The Musically Inclined's Top Albums of the Decade.

Send your eye-rolling grievances to
themusicallyinclined@gmail.com
.

Much love,

Erin

Greetings from Michigan : Sufjan Stevens : 2003


Everyone always raves about Come on Feel the Illinoise, but Greetings from Michigan was the album TMI was interested in. It was partly due to my undying love for states that look like articles of clothing, but mostly it was because when I heard it, I knew Stevens hit Michigan on the head. Things have been rough up there, but there's a lot of natural beauty when you get past the economically depressed cities. Stevens managed to balance some of the grim realities of Michigan, with a sound that matched icicles on tree branches and the gorgeousness that is the Upper Peninsula. Plus, TMI first heard "For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti" on The O.C. in the Spring of '06. It felt significant.

Tranatlanticism : Death Cab for Cutie : 2003



Still the best Death Cab for Cutie album to date. More refined than their way early sound on Something About Airplanes, yet these were the edgier days before computers took over on Plans. Transatlanticism is Death Cab for Cutie at its best. Of course, this is not to say that TMI wasn't crazy about Plans... in fact, TMI would probably buy a box set of the band tuning their guitars, but really. Just about every song on Transatlanticism is a winner - "The Sound of Settling," "Expo '86," "Title and Registration," "Passenger Seat"-- this is the place to start if you haven't already.

Home : Dixie Chicks : 2003




Random country album? Maybe. Back in the day before The Dixie Chicks wrote mildly bitter songs about being wronged, they decided to go acoustic on their (in their current line up) third album, Home. It was ridiculously good-- a reprieve form that glitzy glossy commercial crap that passes for country these days. It was a little bit rootsy, a little bit folksy, but mostly just really solid. From "Long Time Gone," to the cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide," to "Lil' Jack Slade," to the super powerful "Top of the World," The Dixie Chicks laid down the direction that country music should have gone in-- "More Love," less Miley.

American Idiot : Green Day : 2004




It was like those angsty kids in middle school grew up a (little) bit and made a somewhat serious statement. Who knew? Between "Give Me Novacaine," "Tales of a Broken Home," and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," we started to get a grim picture of a generation raised by the media and popular culture. Or you could just sing along and pretend like you're angry. That's fun too.

Continuum : John Mayer : 2006



Room for Squares was an album for lusty teenage girls. Heavier Things spoke of potential. Continuum was the product of not a teen heart throb or one more drippy, sensitive singer, but of a highly talented guitarist and lyricist. Continuum was bluesy and soulful in a manner we didn't think Mayer was capable of, and it put him on track for "guitar great" status. Continuum is so rich, I only like to listen to it on occasion-- don't want to take it for granted. I also treat mangoes that way, but that's a separate issue.

In Rainbows : Radiohead : 2007



Maybe it's that I'd never listened to Radiohead seriously before. Maybe it's their avant garde marketing strategy. Maybe it's the way "15 Steps" is some strange breed of entrancing and infectious. "Videotape," "House of Cards"-- being classified as "un-radio friendly" never sounded so appealing.

Wincing the Night Away : The Shins : 2007



I bought this album after hearing the Garden State soundtrack for the first time a few years back (and who didn't?!). "Australia" is my most-played song on iTunes-- which is funny because I can never remember specific times when I've listened to this album. It's like an unconscious instinct pulls me back to Wincing the Night Away and I gladly follow. Cryptic, catchy, lightly sprinkled with 60's Brit pop, TMI eagerly awaits whatever James Mercer (and whomever he's wrangled for the line up) releases next.

Boxer : The National : 2007




Describing The National as "orchestral pop" does not do the band justice. Sophisticated sounds back the uncertainty of drifting into an oblivion of adulthood. Beautiful, often poignant imagery almost makes you want to be 30, if only for the drama and doomed romance of blue blazers, swanky apartment parties, and friends you can barely recognize anymore. Also, there seems to be a critical consensus that front man Matt Berninger's voice sounds like a variety of liquors. How could they go wrong?

Which albums made your list?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Maybe the Vampires are Why the Rabbits are Frightened


March 9th. Mark it down in your calendar. Now. Why? Frightened Rabbit. New LP. You should be excited. But in all seriousness, the Scottish band is all set to release their follow up to 2008's Midnight Organ Flight. This was a really great album, partly because Frightened Rabbit has a way of coming off honest and human while at the same time being gritty and somewhat uncouth. It's fascinating and really terrific.

That said, TMI is obviously looking forward to The Winter of Mixed Drinks. And no, that's not TMI's holiday plans. Check the track list below.

01. Things
02. Swim Until You Can't See Land
03. The Loneliness and the Scream
04. The Wrestle
05. Skip the Youth
06. Nothing Like You
07. Man/Bag of Sand
08. Foot Shooter
09. Not Miserable
10. Living in Colour
11. Yes, I Would

*Note- I've seen writers refer to Frightened Rabbit recently as "Frabbit" and I think it's a riot.

In other news, Vampire Weekend released the B side to "Cousins." It's called "California English Pt. 2" and as Pitchfork observed, it's got this weird Animal Collective thing going on. Have a listen.

Friday, December 4, 2009

21 Guns Gets Musical Treatment

It takes skill for a cast to stand in a straight line and emote in unison.

Spinner debuted a new version of "21 Guns" today-- one recorded by Green Day and the cast of the new American Idiot musical. It's interesting. One would think that Green Day would be against musical theater type pomp and over earnest "ahhhs," but who knows. They can be pretty theatrical themselves-- and obviously this project's been brewing a while. Perhaps this is one of those situations where the song (or whatever) is good in its own right. Or not. Maybe it kind of sucks. You decide.

Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rob Thomas : Give Me the Meltdown Video



TMI is on a video roll lately. Check out Rob Thomas's new video for "Give Me the Meltdown," one of the few half way inspired tunes on this summer's Cradlesong. It looks deceptively like Youtube fan crap, but that's kind of the point. The effort is amusing to an extent, but the video detracts from the song. You get so focused on the crazy people in the "footage" that "Meltdown" is reduced to mildly relevant background music. Take look anyway.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Vampire Weekend : Cousins Video

Vampire Weekend released the video for their latest single, "Cousins," from their upcoming sophomore release, Contra. The feel of both the video and the song are definitely in the vein of "A-Punk," but I suppose that's forgivable. "Horchata" was pretty good. Really, with a band like Vampire Weekend, there's only so far they're ever going to stretch. We accept that and keep listening.

Look for Contra in the new year.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Years Go By and I Still I Think of Random Car Commcericals

Early this decade, there was a commercial that showed a car full of twenty-somethings cruising around some city at night, grooving along to a really infectious, pulsating song. I thought it was cool. It felt young.

This morning, I was listening to NPR's All Songs Considered podcast. This particular episode centered around defining the decade and one of the contributors mentioned a song that really grabbed him in 2002, mainly because of its video. They played a clip and I had a 'holy crap, it's that song!' moment.

So, here's "Days Go By" by Dirty Vegas. I don't know anything about the band. I barely even remembered the song, let alone knew the title. Random, right?. Check it out.

Click me!


Also, here's the commercial I was talking about. Not as cool as I remember. Pretty sure my folks thought it was really annoying. Anyway, enjoy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bob Dylan - Must Be Santa Video


Rolling Stone brings us the premiere of Bob Dylan's latest, "Must be Santa"(plus non embeddable video) from his new Christmas album, Christmas in the Heart.

I am fairly certain that if Santa actually showed up at this chaotic Christmas house party, he'd either get gang mugged or wind up too drunk to finish making his deliveries. Also, the relationship between Bob Dylan's age and level of creepiness on a graph looks like this.

And why, yes. That is an exponential growth rate. Thanks for noticing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Beatles on a Stick


Looking for a Christmas gift for your favorite Minimalist/Beatles fan? EMI is releasing the entire re-mastered, 14-album Beatles collection in stereo on-- get this, on a flash drive this coming Dec. 8th. Yes. A flash drive. An Apple-shaped flash drive, to be exact.

Can this possibly be the same thing? Granted this is about as close to digital as EMI is going to allow the Beatles catalogue to get any time soon, but seriously, a flash drive? This feels wrong.

Obviously I still advocate the tangible album, be it cd or vinyl, but this is way beyond that. Album art in itself was integral to the outward signs of the band's growth. Meet the Beatles was miles away from the Revolver cover, and that's part of the experience of the band as a whole-- it's the progression. Digital tracks exist in a vacuum, I don't care how iTunes is starting to package digital liner notes. The Beatles on a flash drive are The Beatles without context.

Fortunately, only 30,000 flash drives will be made, so it will probably only be the die-hard Beatles fans who spring on it, but I don't think it bodes well.

I cringe to think that some 12-year-old kid's first experience with The Beatles would be getting handed a flash drive with everything already on it. No context, no collecting-- it's too easy. The rest of us had to wait for holidays and birthdays to get new albums. Or, if you're old enough, you had to wait for the band to release something new.

Is it not sweeter that way?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Birds and Whales, Plus Assorted Misc.

I took this at Grimey's New and Pre-Loved Music back in June.
First up, last Saturday Andrew Bird and St. Vincent played at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville-- I decided no to do a full blog post about it because that would have required me making notes and such through the concert, and it was all too perfect to do anything else but melt into the seat. I was dead center, only a few rows back from the stage. 'Nuff said. It was an experience.


Speaking of Andrew Bird, while on a short car trip last Friday, my friend played for me a band called Noah and the Whale. Noah and the Whale hails from the UK and has a lot in common with The National, sound-wise. Throw in more Andrew Bird-like instrumentation and you've got a pretty good picture. From the first song, "The First Days of Spring," to the epically orchestral "Love of an Orchestra," they had me. Their debut album, which came out Oct. 6th, is also called The First Days of Spring. It's lovely, layered orch pop, for lack of a better term. Like The National, Noah and the Whale has a certain entrancing quality and swells and flows like the music. Truly, it took a few bars before I thought to myself, "I have to have this."

Give it a listen, the album comes courtesy of my Googling skills and NPR.


Finally, in case you hadn't heard, Ben Gibbard is involved in a project to put words from Jack Kerouac's Big Sur to music. He partnered with Sun Volt's Jay Farrar to create One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur, a 12-song album set for release on October 20th. For more, you can click here for NPR's All Songs Considered blog write up. The entire album is also being streamed by NPR up to the release date. I'm listening as I type, in fact.

Flight of the Conchords's I Told You I was Freaky also comes out on the 20th, so budget yourself accordingly.

Cheers.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vampire Weekend : Horchata

As Vampire Weekend's new album, Contra nears its release date, we bring you their first single, courtesy of Drowned in Sound, one of my fav British music websites.

"Horchata" is exotic, syncopated goodness. This bodes well-- not a watery continuation or a divorce from their signature sound. Take a listen.



You can catch Contra January 12th.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hope for AT 40?

Just a quick post, this morning I had the shower radio tuned in to American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest and was a little more than shocked when "Say Hey" by Michael Franti & Spearhead came in at no. 21. "Say Hey" was featured a while ago in a Paste sampler CD and I just assume that if a song is in any way worthy of Paste, it probably won't be getting anywhere near Seacrest & co.

If you haven't heard it, the video is below. The song is really catchy, has great energy and good lyrics. It'll make you want to move. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

John Mayer Goes Pop. Again.


A few days late, but regardless, John Mayer announced that his next album is just about ready for release.

The last issue of Rolling Stone had a brief write-up describing Mayer's new effort. This time he's spinning himself back into the pop realm with Battle Studies, an 11 track disc that will be released on November 11th.

Mayer is pretty solid-- even Room for Squares is surprisingly good despite the teen ridiculousness of "Your Body is a Wonderland." So hearing he's shifting gears is a bit disappointing. Personally, I was really pleased with the direction he took on Continuum. It was like he managed to scrape off the bubble gum and turn himself into a legitimate musician who as more to offer than moody, breathy singing.

TMI won't count him out until the album has been played to satisfaction, but let's hope that he elevates the standards of pop rather than regresses to 2000. We've been there. let's not go back.

The first single, "Who Says" was released just a few days ago on the 24th. Look for a review soon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Meet The Gregory Brothers

I'm back... mostly. Not much has been shakin' in the couple weeks that The Musically Inclined has been dormant. Apple released the new batch of iPods. All I can say is that it's cruel not to include a video camera on the iPod touch.

In any case, several weeks ago, a friend of mine showed me this web series called Auto-Tune the News. Basically it's a group of twenty-somethings editing together clips from various news shows, green-screening themselves in, and Auto-Tuning the mind-numbing banter and punditry into some seriously catchy, witty hip-hop tunes that are grounded in real musical ability. Check out the one below and try to dislodge it from your brain.



So after watching all 8 episodes over and over again, I looked up who exactly who was responsible for making Katie Couric bearable.

Meet the Gregory Brothers-- which happens to be the title of their EP.

It's three brothers from Brooklyn-- Michael, Andrew, and Evan, plus Evan's wife, Sarah. I don't really know what I was expecting from their MySpace other than more tongue-in-cheek songs with plenty of digital tinkering, but the Gregory Brothers' music very different. It's equally solid, but soulful and bluesy-- no politics or angry gorillas.

Take that talent and apply it to more serious material, and the result is truly impressive. The Gregory Brothers are not only brilliant but versatile. "Don't Give up on Me" is a good example of their slow soul sound. Rich and intriguing, with a subtle hint of Sam Cooke or something in there with a bit of Continuum era John Mayer. "Bad Habit" is more jazz-tinged, with smart, cool lyrics.

Anyway, they released their EP in May. You can find it here and on iTunes. Do check them out. Let's hope we'll be seeing an LP sometime in the near future.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In the Meantime

Things are really busy right about now, so until life smooths out, enjoy this Weezer video.


More promises about the THWFOS review. Coming... soon?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Richard Jay : Today


I got an email a little while ago about an artist by the name of Richard Jay, over in the UK. Jay has got that smoothed out electro pop sound, like Hellogoodbye's "Here (In Your Arms)," but more so. Honestly, I get my fair share of these types of emails, but what gave me pause was that this kid is 16 years old and he's not half bad.

There are two songs on his MySpace, but I'm taking a look specifically at "Today," with all its little blips and buzzes. Jay's vocals have a chilled entrancing quality that ebbs throughout the song. The backing is pretty standard for the genre, but there's a lot of potential there and it's always nice to hear that someone so young is not just sitting around playing video games all afternoon. That sentiment comes through in the song itself too, "Gonna go my own way, gonna get out today, yeah." Over all, definitely worth taking a listen. Jay is apparently signed to Curtain Call Records, no word on what he's currently working on-- I bet it'll be pretty cool, though... and all blippy and buzzy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Beatles on the Cover Rolling Stone

Brace yourselves, folks. Rolling Stone has yet another untold angle on the Beatles breakup story. Honestly, will people ever stop rehashing this? Unlikely. This time around, some guy named Mikal Gilmore has the inside scoop.

TMI reserves the right to be highly skeptical. I don't know who he is, I don't know where they found him-- I'm just grateful that it's not another Jonas Brothers tribute.

This is the cover.

Dramatic, no?

Well, I guess the only thing to do is wait until the issue hits stands. Should be... interesting?

Monday, August 17, 2009

NAMM Museum of Making Music


I've been in the process of moving and jet-setting to the Golden State (bourgeois, no?) for about a week now, so I haven't had a chance to post anything. For now, I thought I'd share this little bit that happened while I was at the NAMM Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, Ca.

There were these two little kids-- siblings, maybe 7 and 9 years old-- who apparently frequent this museum with their mother on a regular basis. In the section devoted to the 60s, the little boy was pushing the buttons that pull up clips of artists on the television monitor when he pushed one in particular and exclaimed happily, "Eric Clapton!"

If a kid that young knows who the heck Eric Clapton is, and trust me, I could tell he knew exactly who Eric Clapton is, maybe we can breathe a little easier.

Anywho, the museum was pretty cool, tracing the way people make music starting in the late 1800s. Tons of old instruments-- a few I'd never seen before, even. The folks working there were really nice and really talkative. If you're ever in the area, definitely check it out. They were in the process of installing an exhibit on the Moog synthesizer. Wish I'd seen that, but the exhibit they had on going electric was pretty sweet.


On a related note, Les Paul died Thursday while I was away. Really sad stuff. Dude was 94.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

News Round-Up!


It seems as though there have been quite a few interesting music news bits lately. Here's a quick overview.

- Reportedly, Bob Dylan is planning on releasing a Christmas album. Because you really want to hear Dylan rasping his way through "Up on the Rooftop." Not too many more details so far. We'll keep you posted.

- Mika has released the specs regarding his sophomore album. Name: The Boy Who Knew Too Much. Release Date: September, 22 (U.S.). Track Number: 12. City of Production: Los Angeles. First Single: We Are Golden. Level of Excitement at TMI: High.

- As if Ryan Gosling couldn't get any better, dude's got a band. Dead Man's Bones will release their self-titled debut album on October 6. According to NME, the band describes their musical inspiration as "Disney haunted mansion, doo wop and 60s girl groups." Maybe he should just stick to acting.

- Radiohead released a new song this week, entitled "Harry Patch (In Memory of). I felt very non-British. Harry Patch is (was) an actual person, in fact he was the last survivor of World War I. (Yeah, Patch was 111 years old.) He died on July 25th and Radiohead released the song the day before his funeral. Thom Yorke talked about the need for future generations to be reminded of the atrocities that accompanies war.

- But then, Radiohead came out and said not to expect any full albums for a while. EPs, singles and one-offs? Yes. LPs? They're just not feelin' it. We're confused?

- Jack White debuted a solo single called "Fly Farm Blues." [insert generic Jack White grumbling].

- Heath Ledger's Modest Mouse video for "King Rat" premiered. Haven't seen it yet, but apparently it has "save the whales" undertones. Score.

- The Shins' drummer Jesse Sandoval didn't leave the group because of an "aesthetic decision." He was fired. Well, alrighty then.

Phew, that's all I've got for now. Stay tuned, kids.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Their Hearts Were Full of Spring to Release LP


Yesterday afternoon I decided to check in with one of my favorite obscure bands, Their Hearts Were Full of Spring, via MySpace visit. Much to my surprise, THWFOS is set to release their first full length album, How I Wasted My Youth, on Aug. 10th-- just a few days from now. It looks like they've got the entire album streaming on their MySpace, including that handful of songs from last summer when I first found them. Yep, those are on the album too.

Aside from the album release itself, the band is holding a contest where folks can remix St. Cecilia and win a spot on the B side of their next single. Mmmm... viral marketing. Mostly anything you want to know regarding what they're cooking up, you can find on their blog.

Apparently the album can be purchased from Marketstall Records. No idea if that applies internationally. It is available to pre-order from Amazon for $18.99.

Check out the track listing below.

01. Take Your Own Good Advice
02. A Question of Trust
03. In the Future Everything Will be Made of Light
04. New Favourite Band
05. Interlude
06. Record Breaker
07. Fire Eyes
08. I Saw The Lights Go Out
09. A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
10. St. Cecilia
11. All my troubles stemmed from there
12. My Big Test
13. The End


Look for a full review sometime soon.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Round Two for Flight of the Conchords


Earning a place under the "reasons to dance" tag, Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie annouced the title and release date for their sophomore album. I Told You I was Freaky will hit stores October 20 courtesy of Sub Pop Records. TMI cannot wait.

But hey, if the suspense is too much for you, FotC has been releasing one single a week on iTunes, so you can appease your need for cheekiness until October.

Expect a review, kids.

The tracklisting is as follows:

01. Hurt Feelings
02. Sugalumps
03. We’re Both in Love with a Sexy Lady
04. I Told You I Was Freaky
05. Demon Woman
06. Rambling Through the Avenues of Time
07. Fashion Is Danger
08. Petrov, Yelyena and Me
09. Too Many Dicks (On the Dance Floor)
10. You Don’t Have to Be a Prostitute
11. Friends
12. Carol Brown
13. Angels

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Coldplay : Strawberry Swing Music Video

I meant to mention this a few days ago but forgot. Coldplay released their music video for "Strawberry Swing," off of last year's album, Viva la Vida. Honestly, it's one of the more inspired videos I've seen in ages. For one thing, it has a plot. That's always a plus. The gist is that Chris Martin is a super hero. The presentation is a mix of live action and animation, using giant chalk drawings on cement as a setting for Martin's do-gooder as he sets out to save a damsel in distress from a villainous squirrel. It's actually very well done, and looks like it must have taken a lot of work to plan and execute.

So far, the video is not embeddable (is that a word?) so I can only provide the link to the site. Seriously though, check it out. I can almost guarantee you that this is the coolest music video you've seen a long time.

If you're lazy or need more convincing, the trailer which was released a while ago is below.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

TMI Turns Two


Well, it seems that another year has gone by, and we're still here. In the past few months TMI had some pretty cool posts, if I don't say so myself. Here are a few highlights.


The Musically Inclined...

As you can see, it's been a good time and this next year, hopefully, will be even better. Thanks for reading and stay tuned, kids!

Peace,

Erin


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rob Thomas : Cradlesong

Game face.
Four years ago, Rob Thomas released his first solo album, Something to Be, an album riddled with as much angst and identity confusion as any Matchbox Twenty album, but with an inch-thick coating of studio gloss. With a handful of really blazing tracks, Something to Be could safely be classified as a "strong" album and it's debut at no. 1 can certainly attest to that.

In present times though, Thomas's latest, Cradlesong, follows weakly in the vain of it's predecessor-- it's not a bad effort, it's just not up to par.

Welcome to middle age.

In the 90s, Thomas wrote about emotional and situational turbulence. He attacked every syllable with an exasperation-tinged anger. It sounded raw, even within the confines of 90's pop rock and any given song was more about his own catharsis than anything else.

And in 2009? Thomas is mellowing out and aiming right down the middle of the road. That's fine. Something to Be was a clear sign that Thomas was taking a more mature direction, but he did it well and he did it naturally. This time, Thomas' latest feels flat. Even his abilities as a songwriter are squandered on frequently vague, generic songs that don't hold much promise for an extended shelf life.

Take "Someday." With lines like "maybe someday we will live our lives out loud," the song is so vanilla, it's shameful. Or there's the robotically peppy "Real World '09." Considering Matchbox Twenty's "Real World" and how earnest it sounded, this new version shoots for the angst that Thomas used to channel with ease, but winds up sounding uncomfortably forced. "Welcome to the real world, nobody told you it was going to be hard, Hey ya, welcome to the real world, we barely started now we're falling apart." Barely started what? It would maybe be appropriate as an anthem for the class of '09 given the current economic situation, but Thomas is nearly 40. It's like a 50-year-old woman at a Jo Bros concert. And moreover, it comes off like some fusion of the theme song from Friends and "No Such Thing" by John Mayer.

That's not to say that every song is a dud, though. If more songs on the album had the mildly weird intrigue (thank you, toy piano) of "Her Diamonds," Thomas would be in better shape.

"Gasoline" and "Give Me the Meltdown" have some kick to them as well. "Gasoline"'s synth guitars have a smooth, vaguely 80s west coast sound that's actually really cool, while "Give Me the Meltdown" is radio-ready energy, complete with infectious hook.

Unfortunately it's hard to say if tracks like those are enough to compensate for something like "Fire on the Mountain," an attempt at being an epic (social? political?) statement amid angry guitars and Thomas' raw-throated vocals.

Really the underlying problem here is that everything is too intentional. The album covers a variety of sounds-- twang, dance beats, afro rhythms, but it doesn't feel as much like a natural evolution as it does a carefully planned project to appeal to those hanging up their Converse in favor of sensible shoes and doing the best they can to stay reasonably relevant.

If nothing else, Thomas's voice is still one of the most distinctive around and hopefully it's not that his style and talent are gone, but rather misplaced for the time being.

Start worrying when he releases his Perry Como tribute album.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Andrew Bird on the Tonight Show


Seems like I've been posting a lot of these lately. Anyway, on Wednesday Andrew Bird performed on the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. At first I couldn't find it anywhere, but here it is now, so take a look.

I caught Andrew Bird last month at an In Store Performance at Grimey's New and Preloved Music. You can check that out here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

DCfC on the Tonight Show


Props to mi padre for the heads up that "my guys" were perforoming on the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien last night. Check out the video of Death Cab performing "Little Bribes" off their recent EP, The Open Door, and if you missed my earlier post about their new music video for "Little Bribes," check that biusiness out here.

The Killers to Release Covers Album


Who needs to write original material when there's so much out there already? NME reported today that The Killers are working on an entire album of covers that should be finished by the end of the year.

"It's something that we've always talked about doing and we're still talking about," our favorite feathered singer, Brandon Flowers told NME. "It's difficult for each of us to pick songs that represent us as individuals. I mean, I have a lot of personalities myself! I've gone through everything from Neil Diamond to The Cars."

Apparently, the band will work on the album in their new mobile recording studio while touring Europe.

Aside from Diamond and The Cars, Flowers and company have been throwing around some other names like the Fleet Foxes, Cyndi Lauper, Tom Waits, and Iggy Pop for possible covers.

Of course, already The Killers are no strangers to jacking (does that sound negative? My bad...) other people's material, having included Joy Division's "Shadowplay," Dire Straits' "Romeo and Juliet" and The First Edition's "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" on 2007's Sawdust.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Rob Thomas on the Today Show

This morning Rob Thomas took the stage at Rockefeller Plaza as part of the Today Show Toyota Concert Series. Thomas performed the standard three-song set including, "Lonely No More," current single "Her Diamonds" and "Streetcorner Symphony" in between lame cooking segments and mindless banter attached to cute animal stories. Check out the video someone posted on Youtube (before it gets pulled) of all three songs.

Seeing the percussion on "Her Diamonds" was particularly interesting. Thomas discussed the decision to bring more of a world sound to his album, Cradlesong, which came out Tuesday.

"Streetcorner Symphony" never gets old, but the guitar was lacking some by virtue of not being played by John Mayer. In any case, Thomas put on a respectable performance that was well worth waking up at the crack of dawn (anytime before 9:00 p.m. in my book) to watch. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

DCfC: Little Bribes Music Video

Death Cab for Cutie - Little Bribes from Ross Ching on Vimeo.

Check out the music video treatment Death Cab for Cutie gives "Little Bribes" off their recent EP, The Open Door. It's pretty cool, very fast paced according to the spunkiness of the song. Basically, a lot of stop motion animation and the like is used to write out the key words in the song. Watch closely or you'll miss a lot!

R.I.P. Vibe


Ill tidings once again from the magazine industry. Vibe magazine, a publication centered around urban/hip hop music and lifestyle, announced today that it will be closing down, effective immediately.

Quincey Jones started Vibe in '93 and some 13 years later, Wicks Group bought the magazine. Vibe is just one more in a string of magazines-- from all genres, crumbling under the financial strain of a bad economy and a changing mediascape.

Well, that's one more music magazine down, folks. Who knows if anyone's going to be left when the clouds finally clear.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Worth Mentioning... Maybe

Oh man, these guys were cool.

Let's play catch up. It'll be fun, I promise.

It's been a bit slow lately as you might have notcied, so I'm just throwing some news bits out there. Think snark and fact in bread crumb form.

- NME's editor Mike McNicholas resigned today. Perhaps he got tired of trying to prounounce the magazine's title? Actually he's jumping over to Top Gear after seven years at NME. I don't know why. Top Gear's editor position has been vacant since April, in which time, the staff has reverted to their savage, ape-like ways and prehistoric ferns have taken over the office appliances. Not really, but the imagery is good.

- Forgot to mention that Sugar Ray announced some time ago that they're working on a new album. Cue mixed emotions and 90s flashbacks. The album will be called Music for Cougars. Sounds... promising...

- The new Rob Thomas album, Cradlesong, is days away from release. Expect a review shortly there after.

- Jack White is probably doing something annoying.

- Got Paste's in between issue in the mail. The content continues to be excellent. Points for being so creative in saving themselves. Plus, the crossword is quite accessible.

- I'm working on a snazzy idea for TMI. It involves my iPod. Have fun with my vagueness.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Andrew Bird Instore Performance at Grimey's


I had the good luck of randomly reviewing Andrew Bird's Noble Beast for Twisted Ear back in January. Noble Beast has been part of the select group of promo albums that I continue to listen to after the review is written.

Today, before heading over to Bonnaroo, Bird played an instore at Grimey's New and Preloved Music, which is an exceptional record store, much in the way record stores used to be. By the time the show started, Grimey's was packed tight, all eyes on a guy who has an unassuming aura about him as if he doesn't get that he's a big deal (to this crowd, anyway). Bird has a quiet presence and a refreshing lack of that self-conscious performer schtick. There was no awkward banter, no insincere compliments. He acted though as he was just there to perform, no sweat.

Bird and his band sounded great, very true to the album. They opened with a Smog cover and played mostly cuts off Noble Beast including "Effigy," "Oh No," "Fitz and Dizzy Spells," and "Anonanimal," which was the strongest song of the set. Alternating between guitar, violin and his signature whistling, it was a treat to actually hear Bird's ethereal collection of sounds produced live and only a few feet away.

The forty-something minute set went by fast and Bird stayed after to sign autographs. Best of all, though? Grimey's had a pre-sale on tickets for Bird's yet-to-be-announced show at the Ryman Auditorium in October. Props to Grimey's for managing the mob.

Due to my fantastic position in the crowd, I actually got to play photog for once. Check out my pictures above.

Here's to October.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

R.I.P. Performing Songwriter


More bad news from the magazine industry. After 16 years, Performing Songwriter Magazine is shuttering. Founder and editor Lydia Hutchinson announced on the magazine's website today that the June issue will be the last. Sadness.

According to Hutchinson's letter, it's mostly because of the economy, but partly because they decided they wanted to end things on their terms. Publishing euthanasia, in other words.

It's a damn shame, Performing Songwriter is a solid publication. It will be missed. Beyond that though, it's another nail in the coffin of the magazine industry. I'm reminded of a book I read a few years ago, called On the Beach, by Nevil Schute. Basically, there had been a nuclear war and the world was ending. Most of the entire world's population had died, but the fallout hadn't quite spread to Australia yet, where the action takes places. Fallout was inevitable. Death was eminent. The whole time you're reading the book, you feel helpless because you know how it's going to end and it's only a matter of time.

Magazines are dropping like flies. I'm still optimistic that Paste will be able to hang on until the economy picks up again, but in the meantime, careers are dissolving and life is going to get harder for many families. I wonder who will be next and who will be left standing. Similalry to On the Beach, I don't want to finish the book... but there's not much of a choice, is there?

Peace

Saturday, May 30, 2009

My Yearly Rant Against Best Buy


My birthday is Monday. Stuck in Suburbia, I made the mistake of going to Best Buy to pick out an album courtesy of Mom and Pop. Hell is blue and yellow.

No doubt some regional manager decided they needed to redo the layout of the store, so I didn't know where anything was. The cd section was considerably downscaled and annoyingly cramped.

Selecting a album, in my book, is one of the great activities of my life. This time it was so stressful, I wanted to walk out, especially after some blue polo-ed woman got all up in my grill asking if I wanted any help.

They didn't have The Decemberists or Kings of Leon. Really? I narrowed it down to Green Day, Fleet Foxes and Ra Ra Riot, finally settling on Green Day. Total whim.

We've all got our breaking point folks, I officially am swearing off Best Buy. Never again. Best Buy is never pleasant, this time around was extra offensive.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Word About Pandora



Through some stroke of irony, I can be a bit slow to get on board with tech trends, so this might be old news. Recently I've started using Pandora, which is internet radio, in the realm of Last fm. etc.

The gist is that you sign up and create stations based on bands or songs that you pick. There's no guarantee that you will hear that band or song-- that's how they deal with licensing issues-- but you'll hear music that is similar in some way.

It's radio, in other words. Turn to the station that plays the music you like. Where this differs though, is that there are no obnoxious disc jockeys or advertisements to deal with, only a box ad awkwardly shoved in the margin.

Terrestrial radio is not what it used to be. Many once counted on it for exposure to new music. These days playlists are so shallow, radio doesn't completely fulfill that function as well as it used to, plus song ids are few and far between. Services like Pandora are just so freaking convenient, how can you compete? And it's free, unlike XM and/or Sirius which require monthly fees plus the initial investment to get the radio.

Don't like a song? You can skip three times in an hour. Want more info on what you're hearing? There's a tab for that. You can "thumbs up" a song, or "thumbs down" it and never hear it again. Not a bad deal.

And the catalogue? Seemingly endless. 50s/60s oldies formats have been fading out in the past few years in favor of classic rock of the late 60s and 70s, but the internet can provide a selection of music that doesn't have to exist merely because it's moderately to wildly popular. Even if the Greatest Generation isn't on Pandora or the like, their music is. (True story: I have a station seeded to The Four Freshmen.) In a respect, that's a point of comfort, that maybe older music won't disappear as the years continue to pile up.

There are many reasons to check out Pandora. Give it a try. A word of warning though, I've barely opened my iTunes in the past two weeks. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Save Paste


A week or two ago, the latest issue of Paste Magazine arrived in my mailbox, featuring the Decemberists on the cover. Having been raised around the magazine industry, I took one look at the paper quality of the cover and the thinness of the spine and said to myself "oh, crap."

If there had been any hope left, turning to editor Josh Jackson's column killed that off quick. Paste, like so many other magazines, is seeing difficult times, financially. The economy sucks and the media world is in a kind of limbo that we've never quite seen before. Everyone likes to throw around the phrase "newspapers are dead." That may be true in a sense-- as in, newspapers as we know them today, are dying, but nothing's dead yet.

Magazines are in a bad situation, but they just don't get as much attention when they struggle and eventually shutter. I think that the same idea is true for them, magazines as they are now probably will not make it.

That's why Paste's hardships trouble me so. Here's a magazine that is doing everything that any halfway savvy, J school professor or student would be harping on in the world of new media. Paste has a great website, they have blogs, videos, audio clips, photos, multimedia out the wazoo, they're using social media platforms, they're keeping their content fresh between issues, they offer incentives to the readers, they've diversified revenue streams. Essentially, they are doing everything that I have been told will save those of us going into journalism.

There's so much unfairness in the situation. I'm loathe to suggest that anyone deserves anything, but in this case I feel justified in saying that Paste deserves to see the end of this recession. It deserves to survive and carry on far into the future, continuing life as a publication we can look to for how to do navigate these uncertain waters of new media and as a standard for top notch music journalism.

And in a bittersweet example of why Paste needs to stick around, look at the effort they are making to save themselves-- a direct appeal to the readers. Reaching out to their audience. If you care, you can take some ownership. Donate. Stick a banner on your blog. Sign up for Paste V.I.P. Do something. My journalism classes are filled with talk of engaging the audience, bringing down the massive wall between us and them, because people will not stand for it anymore. They want to be pulled in and have a stake, so here's Paste putting their fate into the hands of their readers.

Though it may not matter much in the big picture, I'll say that Paste was a large inspiration for starting The Musically Inclined and as a journalism major, if Paste goes down, I feel a little like there's no hope. They sit at the top of the heap in terms of quality on all levels. This magazine means a lot.

Please don't let it die. There's a sky scrapper on the column. Click it. Paste is still alive and it's manned by smart folks who are going to find a way out of this. Help them.