Saturday, December 31, 2011

Settle Down : Kimbra

In the spirit of wrapping up the year (and writing the 100th and final post of the year), I thought I'd do a quick write up of an Australian singer named Kimbra. I first found her because she was featured in our much loved Gotye's song "Somebody That I Used to Know." She's got some wacky dance moves, but aside from that, Kimbra's got good pipes and a quirky pop sound with bite. Here's the video for "Settle Down," a single off her EP Cameo Lover. Give it a listen. I'm a fan of the fact that she's not blonde and half naked. Points for that alone. Also, she's fairly young, so hopefully there will be much more material to come our way in the future.

Friday, December 30, 2011

DJ Earworm : World Goes Boom

If you haven't had your fill of year-end retrospection, here's the anual DJ Earworm mashup up of the top 25 songs in pop music. It's loaded down with Rhianna, Pink, Katy Perry and Bruno Mars, to name a few. Happily, Foster the People make an appearance, as well as Adele (not that we're surprised).

Here's a link to the mashup from last year, which was pretty stellar.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Musically Inclined's Top 10 Finds of 2011

Every year when December rolls around, The Musically Inclined knows two things: it's time to run and duck from the rancid strains of Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad," and it's time to step back and talk about what was great this year. 

The latter is more fun, obviously. To this point, you may have already been inundated with 'best of' lists ranging from albums, to music videos, to singles, but hopefully The Musically Inclined can offer you something slightly different. (It's Bon Iver-free!)

We'll get to that in a second. First it should be noted that 2011 was the year that saw some crazy changes in the social habits of music-listening, like and Spotify's invasion of the US and your productivity. (At the moment, I'm listening to M83's danceable record Hurry Up, We're Dreaming because a friend shot it over to my Spotify inbox. Oh, brave new world.) 

2011 was also a year for monster returns, like Paul Simon, Wilco, Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes. We waited and they delivered. 

Buddy Holly tribute albums ran amok and we were definitely rolling in the deep with Adele (whatever that means). 

More importantly than rounding up every little bit of significance from the year, it's time to clean house and get ready for 2012. Hopefully, it'll bring the kind of music we can hardly believe we lived without.

That said, back to the project at hand. Below are the rules for how songs can make The Musically Inclined's Top 10 Finds of 2011, and under those are the best discoveries of the past twelve months. Click here for the Spotify playlist and take them for a spin yourself. 

1. It can be any artist or band TMI hadn't listened to before January '11.
2. Songs have to be good. Catchy? Bouncy? Quirky? Sure, but mostly they just have to be solid. Doesn't hurt to be fun and mildly screwy, either.

That's all. Scroll on. 

1. Somebody That I Used to Know : Gotye

Without a doubt, 2011 belonged to Australian singer/multiinstrumentalist Gotye, even if it was only for the last four months of the year. The track comes courtesy of his latest album, Making Mirrors. The song itself is slinky and power packed. Gotye channels the best shades of Sting. Plus, you'll find some of the coolest, most unique sounds and samples on not just this song, but the whole album. Beyond all that, I'd be remiss not to mention fellow Australian singer Kimbra, who lends her vocals for the "other side of the story" of this relationship gone bad. It's a standout on an album standouts, and the music video is nothing short of excellent.

2. Time Spent in Los Angeles : Dawes

Shifting over to a very different sound, second on the list is Los Angeles band Dawes with the first track off their album Nothing is Wrong. There's some great drama in this song. After all, it kicks off with the line "These days my friends don't seem to know me." Pain! But for all the melancholic minor chords, it's a heartening story line of finding out that what you wanted all along, comes from the place you left in the first place. Frontman Taylor Goldsmith and his hearty everyman voice tug on all the right heartstrings. Home is home and sometimes nothing beats it.

3. Let's Go : Madi Diaz

Nashville should be proud Madi Diaz calls it home. Last April, I caught Diaz at Vanderbilt and knew immediately after hearing "Let's Go" that it was going to make it on the list this year. The song is airy escapism and Diaz's vocals are pretty and unaffected as usual. Bring on some good weather and an open calendar. Unconvinced? Check out the video.

4. Rivers and Roads : The Head and the Heart

The first time I heard this song, I was almost unnerved by how timely it was for my friends and I. Recently graduated and scattered, "I miss your face like hell" represented perfectly what several of us were feeling. Every lyric and mournful harmony hit a little bit closer to home. But situation specifics aside, "Rivers and Roads" builds beautifully as if to diminish the sadness. There's almost something cathartic about the loud repetition of the truth that it's "Rivers 'til I reach you."

5.  Hold On : Alabama Shakes

Alabama Shakes is a great reminder that there is always untapped talent out in the world. Hailing from Athens, Al, the Shakes have got a sound so solid and soulful, it's difficult to imagine they only surfaced this year. "Hold On" is the best home for frontwoman Brittany Howard's gift-from-the-rock-gods voice. If you've managed to miss the buzz on these guys, get on board, man.

6. Another Like You : Hayes Carll

"Another Like You" may not be the classiest entry on the list, but it's definitely the most fun. Hayes Carll and Cary Ann Hearst bring us a hooky ballad of the bar. Drunk, mildly belligerent and politically at odds, the guy and gal in question trade jabs and end up in the elevator "making out like Bonnie and Clyde." Hearst's Southern rasp alone would make the song if not for the clever one-liners. Good times all around.

7. Pumped Up Kicks : Foster the People

Yes. Foster the People. This year's Passion Pit. Young, peppy and high-pitched. This entry was a toss up between "Pumped Up Kicks" and "Helena Beat," the opening track to the Los Angeles band's debut album Torches. Both are good, both are catchy, but "Pumped Up Kicks" has that weird buzzy sound punctuating the background. Ergo, winner.

8. We Will All Be Changed : Seryn

This one is a bit of a late addition to the list, but in a year where folk influence and exploding harmonies ruled, "We Will All Be Changed" was a natural fit. Seryn is a band from Denton, Texas. As good as their debut album This is Where We Are is, I'm a bummed there hasn't been more talk about these guys (exempting an appearance on Paste's Best 50 albums of the year and scattered write-ups in Texas media). Here's to hoping 2012 is the year they catch on.

9. Everything Must Spin : Ryan Driver

Check out this charming, funky little track from Canadian artist Ryan Driver. "Everything Must Spin" is philosophy lite, focusing on the cyclical nature of the life. Driver drops in quirky lines like "I don't know how I got home last night, but if I did I guess I'm alright." We'll definitely keep an eye out for what else Driver has to spin. Points for the penguin on the album cover.

10. Mexican Mavis : Boy & Bear

I suppose if you start a list with an Australian, you'd best end with one... or several. Boy & Bear is an indie rock band from down under that will have you fooled into thinking that you're hearing a Fleet Foxes track in the first few moments of "Mexican Mavis." Fortunately, the band delivers more than just that. It's three minutes of cool shifts and rich layers.

So, there you have it. I'll save you the trouble of scrolling back up. Here's the link again to the Spotify playlist.

Here's to a year's worth of new music in 2012!

Ingrid Michaelson Covers Gotye

Here's something to tide you over until I post The Musically Inclined's Top 10 Finds of 2011. Whilst traversing the interwebs, I found this funky cover of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Ingrid Michaelson.

Nothing can really match the original song, or the video for that matter, but Michaelson's rendition is worth the four minutes. She plays all the parts and you actually get to see it. The video's either like California Youtube dalrings Pomplamoose or that guy who creates entire song arrangements with his mouth. I know. You're welcome.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Indie Claus Mix '11

File photo: Indie Claus
We're a week out from Christmas, so this is your last to overdose on all the Christmas tunes you'll hate by Jan. 1. In case you need some help in that department, it just so happens that my good buddy Indie Claus has put together a stellar Spotify playlist with the very coolest Christmas songs he could find on the interwebs, just for you. After all, a little Andy Williams goes a long way, and what could be more charming than Hurricane Bells's take on that Chipmunks classic "Christmas Don't Be Late." I kid you not. It's quality stuff. 

Anyhoodle, click below to listen to the Indie Claus Mix '11. Also, stay tuned for The Musically Inclined Top Finds of 2011 coming this week. 

Click me!
01 : Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Slow Club
02 : I've Got My Love (Remix) by Kay Starr
03 : Santa Stole My Lady by Fitz and the Tantrums
04 : Just Like Christmas by Low
05 : Christmas Don't Be Late by Hurricane Bells
06 : Jingle Bell Rock by Rogue Wave
07 : Silent Night by Class Actress
08 : The Christmas Song by The Ravonettes
09 : Christmas Time is Here by Woods
10 : Be-Bop Santa Claus by Sweet Daddy Lowe
11 : Party Hard by Zach Gill
12 : I Bought You a Plastic Star (For Your Aluminum Tree) by The Blenders
13 : Blue Christmas by Tristen
14 : I Bet on Flying High by Matt Costa

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kick in the Shins: New Album on the Way

Half a decade after Wincing the Night Away, the Shins (remember them?) have put out word that we can expect a new album sometime in March. In case you think this is another cruel fake out where they float out a bit of info and then go silent for six months, they've got album art and a track listing to back up their claim. It's ten songs and it's called "Port of Morrow."

Five years is a long time. In the meanwhile, frontman James Mercer has been busy breaking bells and firing his bandmates, so I guess we'll see how this stacks up to the rest of the Shins catalogue. Though in all honesty, I'm not worried. Mercer's sound (and really, the Shins's sound) came through so well on the Broken Bells album and EP, I'm sure this will be the follow up we've been waiting for.

In other news, I don't know about you, but that cover is some freaky stuff. It's either Donnie Darko up there or a llama. (Love child of Donnie Darko and a llama??) Perhaps. 

Track listing: 

01 : The Rifle’s Spiral 
02 : Simple Song 
03 : It’s Only Life 
04 : No Way Down
05 : September 
06 : Bait and Switch
07 : Fall of ’82 
08 : For A Fool 
09 : 40 Mark Strasse 
10 : Port of Morrow

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Songs and Shows from Andrew Bird and the National

There are few better post titles I could write. Here are two pieces of very good news that will vastly improve your Sunday.

1. Thanks to music blog Pretty Much Amazing, which is very true to its name, you can stream a new track from The National. It's called "Rylan" and PMA describes it as a very Boxer-esque tune. I couldn't agree more. Think "Ada." Recorded in Toronto, pipped in to the comfort of your own laptop. Check it out below.

2. Andrew Bird finally has news of a follow up to 2008's Noble Beast. On March 5, expect Break it Yourself to hit shelves (or the interwebs, more likely). Paste reports that the album was recorded and produced by Bird himself in something called a "studio barn," which sounds like all kinds of cool. (Maybe the ox and lamb kept time, as they say.) Bird is going on tour, and if you're in Nashville on March 19, you better be at the Ryman in my stead. Here's a video to get you all nice and anxious.

Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself from Mom+Pop on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

An Argument with Myself : Jens Lekman

Today I was sorting through songs that might make it on TMI's Best Discoveries of 2011 list. One of the rules for the list is that I can't have heard the artist or band prior to that year. Sure, it keeps the list fresh, but sometimes it means leaving off some good stuff on a technicality.

Example: Jens Lekman is a witty, quirky Swedish singer/songwriter. His last album, 
Night Falls Over Kortedala, came out in 2007 and was pretty well received in all the usual places (Paste, Pitchfork, etc.). So, I've heard this dude before, but wasn't too taken until this fall when I heard the title track off his September EP, An Argument with Myself. It's fast and clever. Madness has never sounded this sprightly and tropical. You're really going to want to catch the lyrics Lekman spits out. I love that he asks himself "You want to keep fighting? Yeah, I want to keep fighting. Fair enough."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Come to Mary : Jesse Sykes and the Sweethereafter

Here's a recent discovery of mine. If you're digging bands like Dawes, this will suit you well. It's "Come to Mary" by Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, a Seattle group comprised primarily of Sykes and guitarist Phil Wandscher. If you're looking for street cred, Wandscher co-founded Whiskeytown with Ryan Adams, so no, these aren't kids knocking around a basement.

I like "Come to Mary"'s spooky alt-country vibe and Sykes's unpolished voice. The song's got a really interesting feel and character, like something from the early/mid 70s. Take it for a spin.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2011 Musical Guests

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and that's extra exciting for many reasons. For one, it means lots of food. It also means the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the three-hour long prelude to the Christmas season, because my holidays don't start until Santa rides across Harold Square. It's a rule.

Since this is a music blog, after all, here's a rundown of the musical acts schedules for tomorrow. Sadly, Kanye will not be there.

Avril Lavigne
Cee Lo Green
Far East Movement
Fresh Beat Band
Mannheim Steamroller
Mary J. Blige
Rodney Atkins
Scotty McCreery
Shelby Lynne

I know. The star power is overwhelming. Just don't wet your adult-size footie pajamas. 

A Year to Live: The Demise of the CD

Bye bye love.
We knew it was going to happen at some point.

Side-Line music magazine reported recently that major record labels plan to abandon the CD by the end of 2012.  (Maybe that's what the Mayas saw, not the end of the world, but the end of CDs.)

I expected to freak out, battle the compulsion to go out and buy as many CDs as I could carry, and then come back the next day for more, but it's been such a long time coming, that it's hard to get worked up.

I do regret that the next generation won't have a physical music collection. I wonder what this will do to their music owning habits when they won't really be able to have a library until they have a computer. I wonder what I'd be doing with my life if I hadn't been able to run my fingers over the records in my dad's collection.

So, what comes next for the record store owners? The future of liner notes? Album art?

I imagine one day there will be a weathered little old man who lives on a mountain, who is the only person who can tell you what year Pet Sounds came out without Googling it. He'll be the lone living repository for musical knowledge that stems from love and obsession for music.

That's a bit dramatic, but it does feel like a painfully slow death– slower and more painful than it was because now there's a date off in the future, even if CDs won't mysteriously vaporize on one day.

I also wonder how many people will miss CDs. With programs like Spotify, who could miss being confined to the same 100 or so albums? It's hard to figure. In the past when an old format has died out, it was still being replaced by something physical.

Anyway, CDs will be floating around out there for a while. TMI doesn't really have any golden advice. I'm sticking it out for as long as I can.

In the meantime, if you want to continue to support your local record stores, which you should, here's a list courtesy of special Black Friday releases courtesy of the folks at Record Store Day.

The Shrine/An Argument : Fleet Foxes

The Shrine / An Argument from Sean Pecknold on Vimeo.

It's not exactly a "Happy Thanksgiving" type video, but the new Fleet Foxes video for "The Shrine/An Argument"is out and it is way weird. Think: animals' heads on pikes, some freaky indigenous tribe, and a buck on a doomed mission. I'm not sure what's going on half the time, but the animation is striking (read: hellish) Apparently frontman Robin Pecknold's brother Sean directed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You're the One That I Want : The Lennings (Yes, from Parenthood)

Man, have I got one for you this evening. Whilst watching Parenthood on NBC, I heard a song that was sort of familiar.

"'Cause the power you're supplying, it's electrifying."

I'm sitting there thinking, "what is that?" And then BOOM. John Travolta is dancing across my brain in tight black clothing and inexplicably white socks.

Grease! "You're the One That I Want!" But it sounds like Bon Iver. Or Iron and Wine. Or some whispery indie band that's decidedly not broadway.

Let me introduce you to The Lennings, a band from Austin, TX (respect) who "blur the line between the Americana and indie pop scenes," according to their Facebook. It looks like they've got their third album slated for the winter of 2012, and if you want to read about how stoked they were to get their song on Parenthood, you can check out their blog.

This maybe the most exciting acoustic cover I've heard since discovering Obadiah Parker's soulful take on "Hey Ya" (life-changing) or Travis's version of "Hit Me Baby One More Time" (very moving).

That last one was (sort of) a joke. In all seriousness, give The Lennings a listen. Ooo ooo ooo. Honey.

*I am inspired to put together a set list of bizarre acoustic covers and take it on the road.
**I have no idea why the video features boiling water. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Let Foster the People Pump You Up

I am way late to the party on Foster the People, but fortunately Spotify is letting me make up lost time. Here's a tune that's probably (maybe?) their best known so far, and understandably so, because it's hooky as hell. Plus, it sounds like an Instagram photo is singing to me. Check out "Pumped Up Kicks." It just might make it on The Musically Inclined's Top Discoveries of 2011 list.

No joke. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Brushfire Records Heats Up December

There's something I've always loved about Brushfire Records. They've just got this feel that makes me want to head West to warm climates, palm trees and sun. If you don't know, it's not only Jack Johnson's label, but the home of Rogue Wave, Matt Costa and G. Love. Happily, I saw on Rolling Stone the other day that Brushfire's releasing This Warm December - A Brushfire Holiday, Volume 2. It's an album full of  easy flowing Christmas tunes and it plays like the perfect cool Christmas music mix that you've always wanted to make.

Some of the songs are covers (Rogue Wave tackles "Jingle Bell Rock") and others are originals (Zach Gill's "Party Hard"might unseat "Christmas with You is the Best" by the Long Winters as my favorite tribute to holiday rowdiness.) Zee Avi's quirky Eastern European spin on "Frosty the Snowman" is multiple kinds of cool.

Either way, if you pick it up you won't be disappointed and proceeds go to charities benefiting children's music education. 

This Warm December hits stores on the Nov. 15. Until then, stream it courtesy of Rolling Stone. And if you're curious, Volume 1 came out in '08. Here's the Amazon link. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lost in My Mind : The Head and the Heart

I wrote about a sweet band called The Head and the Heart a few months ago when I first heard their killer song "Rivers and Roads." Tonight, I heard another song of theirs, "Lost in My Mind" on NBC's Parenthood, and thought I'd pass it along. I've been meaning to since the video came out a while back. It's great stuff. Gorgeous harmonies as usual. And I think one of the things about this song that I love the most is how effortless the melody is. Enjoy.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Amos Lee at the Westcott

Meant to post this last week. It's another show review I did for the Newshouse. This time around, I got to see the ever soulful Amos Lee wade against the most obnoxious bunch of middle aged people I've ever witnessed.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Three Shrieking Good Halloween Songs

Halloween is this week and I was thinking I've never done a post on Halloween music. So, here goes three songs for the holiday. If you can't make it out this year to do whatever it is you do on Halloween, there's no shortage of creepy tunes to keep you company.

This is Halloween : The Nightmare Before Christmas came out when I was a wee one, and instead of being scared, I was totally taken with the claymation movie that featured this intensely orchestrated and theatrical ode to Oct. 31. 

My Body's a Zombie for You : Nothing says "Halloween" like Ryan Gosling and a childrens choir. Nevertheless, Gosling's 2009 goofy-ass side project Dead Man's Bones was pretty amusing, especially because of tunes like "My Body's a Zombie for You" and its unexpected doo-wop-iness.

Tubular Bells : I used to have a CD of "scary music" that I would bust out every year. It was something like the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra covering Halloween/horror tunes and a few others like "Thriller" and the Ghostbusters theme. "Tubular Bells" was on it and when the song started, I didn't get what was so scary about it, until it started building in such an unsettling way with all those sudden jabs. Spooky stuff.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Spin Doctors at the Westcott

Here's my latest for The Newshouse. I got to see the Spin Doctors on Friday night at the Westcott Theater here in Syracuse. It was so much better than I expected, and after a crazy week and a stressful day, really loud 90s music was the best possible way to spend the evening. P.S. Somehow I managed to memorize the complete trajectory of their career, so if you have Spin Doctors questions.... I'm your girl. Also, here's a link to their appearance on Sesame Street back in the day because I think you need that.

Spin Doctors bring 20 years of Kryptonite to Syracuse

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Frabbit for Free

And here I was thinking I'd be left blogging about the new Coldplay video today.

Scottish band Frightened Rabbit is offering a 3-song EP, free for download on their website. The EP is simply called A Frightened Rabbit EP. It includes "Fuck this Place" featuring Camera Obscura's Tracyanne Campbell, which TMI posted about a while back, "The Work," and "Scottish Winds."

Why should you be excited about this? Because Frabbit was giving away this very same EP during their tour with Death Cab for Cutie this fall and you were stuck in a city that loves metal and barely ever gets anyone interesting while Frabbit and DCfC traipsed through your hometown the week after you were home.

Well. Maybe.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Spit it Out : Brendan Benson

I'm glad there's finally a video on Youtube for this song, because I've been wanting to post about it since late May. It's "Spit it Out" by Detroiter (well, Royal Oak actually) Brendan Benson. You might be familiar with Benson as a solo artist who debuted in 1996 and saw some commercial success in the UK with 2005's Alternative to Love. More likely, you're inadvertently familiar with him as one of the dudes in the Raconteurs.

I caught him at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville in 2010 as part of a tribute to Alex Chilton and Big Star, so about a year later when I ran across Alternative to Love on vinyl at Grimey's New and Preloved Music, I bought it, put it it on and fell in love with track one: "Spit it Out."

I like musicians from Detroit generally because I can hear the city in what they do (Kid Rock exempted). The riff in "Spit it Out" is loose and sort of messy, but something about it evokes yesteryears– kind of like Detroit.

Anyway, take it for a spin.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Nobody Said it Was Easy: Willie Nelson Covers Coldplay

I live in a world where Willie Nelson has no awareness of Coldplay, which is why this post is somewhat confounding.

Adweek posted a story not long ago about an animated Chipoltle ad where Willie Nelson lends his signature warble to "The Scientist" by Coldplay. It's definitely worth hearing, and the ad's message of sustainable farming is a worthy one.

Of course, if there's one thing I love, it's a burrito with a cause.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Import: Gotye Will Mess You Up

Excuse me while I obsess. This weekend one of my friends sent me links to a couple music videos by an Australian (by way of Belgium) artist named Gotye (Gore-ti-yeah. Né Wally De Backer).

Said friend should know he blew my weekend to bits because I spent the entire time toggling between the two videos. Let's talk about why.

Gotye is self-described alt-pop. In his previous albums, he's worked a lot with samples of old vinyl records and cassette tapes. He seems to have major knack for getting strange and awesome sounds from unusual places. "Somebody That I Used to Know" and "Heart's a Mess" are two cuts off his third and most recent release, Making Mirrors. On both songs, I was immediately drawn in by the sounds. I still don't totally know what they are, but to give you an idea of how he works, in a 10-minute documentary he released on Youtube, De Backer talked about how he essentially made a virtual version of an autoharp, playing every single note and storing them as files that could be played back through his keyboard. The sound of the autoharp was a bit unexpected because you either strum an autoharp or play single notes slowly, not play them as you would keys.

And it just goes on. On De Backer's website, he talks about doing spur of the moment field recordings of "sound sources" and turning them in to different aspects of his songs. He raids the local thrift store for records and does crazy things horn intros from obscure Australian 60's albums.

But enough about the sound. I'd be remiss not to mention the lyrics. Sticking with the two previously mentioned songs, you can't really go wrong. I love the phrase "heart's a mess." I also love the chorus on "Somebody That I Used to Know," especially because De Backer's voice has this Sting thing going on and it leaves me wanting to run to the window and burst into "Roxanne." His writing has a very natural flow. "You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness." Killer, yeah?

Anyhoodle, when I get jealous of musicians as creative people who get to build every aspect of their projects from creating the sounds on the albums to designing album artwork (De Backer modified an old painting of his dad's with photoshop for the cover), Gotye is now the face I will put with that thought.

I will now go back to obsessing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jack White Covers Hank Williams

Speaking of Jack White, he's been working with Bob Dylan, Levon Helms and others on The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams. I know. We should all be so lucky to have projects like that. Anyhoodle, Rolling Stone is streaming "You Know That I Know," a track off said project.

It's pretty good. White goes for those Hank vocal quivers and manages to pull it off pretty well without being cloying. Besides that, the coolest thing is that it sounds like a Hank Williams song and it's good to hear "new" Hank after all this time.

Apparently, the songs off the album came from notebooks Williams left behind before he died and the ripe old age of 29. The tunes were unfinished, so White & co. stepped in. The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams comes out tomorrow.

Whose Casio Did You Steal?

One of the great things about having your own blog is that you have no obligation to write about things don't want to write about. For me, that means my general intent is to say "Hey, I heard this and thought it was cool. You might like it too."

This is not one of those posts. It might be because I'm sick and haven't left my apartment in four days. Maybe it's because I was genuinely disappointed this cover wasn't better. Let me just  introduce you to a song that is not really worth three minutes of your time. It's Bright Eyes covering "We're Going to Be Friends" by the White Stripes. I'll just leave it there and say I don't dig the instrumentation. After all, this is for a charity album and there's only so critical I can bring myself to be in that situation.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Midweek Mountain Getaway : Jordan Hull and Toy Soldiers

Consider this a follow up story. Before I left the Vision, I did my last edition of The Beat 'n' Track on a singer/songwriter from Nashville named Jordan Hull. We met up at a coffe shop and he told about writing songs, painting pictures of monkeys, playing gigs with a group from PA called Toy Soldiers, and about a split EP that would hopefully be out soon called Midweek Mountain Getaway.

I'm happy to report you can listen to that 6-song EP on Bandcamp. And you know what? It's impressive. Hull surprised me back in April with a sound and a voice that was far older and weathered (in a good way) than that of someone in his early twenties. During the interview, he talked about listening to legends from Son House to Woody Guthrie. It's obvious Hull synthesizes what he listens to. Dude wasn't just name-dropping.

This EP is solid top to bottom. It's a mature and nuanced blend of blues, folk and good old rock and roll that takes you from a rock-a-billy foot stomper, to a moody Roy Orbison-inflected tune in a matter of one track. Hull and Toy Soldiers have got a sound steeped in another time, yet it's still fresh and exciting to think that music like this is thriving and in good hands.

Trivia: "Tight Rope" (track 6) is Leon Russell cover. Pretty cool.

Go listen to it. Lay down your five dollars. It's a small price to pay for a midweek mountain getaway.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stay Young Go Dancing : Death Cab for Cutie

What better advice could there be? Check out this lovely video for "Stay Young Go Dancing," the final track on DCfC's May album Codes and Keys. It's not your typical Death Cab fare. No one's having their chest cut open, running from flames or committing to a loveless marriage. Nope, to quote Ben Gibbard, life is sweet. And so is the video which follows a field-traipsing couple backward in time.

For me, it's a wonderful song because it makes me think of going dancing with some good friends shortly before moving this summer, and how really sweet it was to be in a park at night under paper lanterns, twirling around in good weather. If that won't keep you young, I don't know what would.

Fond memories, folks. This is definitely a fuzzier, friendlier Death Cab. Enjoy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Radiohead on SNL

If you'e like me, you forgot that Radiohead was performing on the season opener of Saturday Night Live because you were grading papers. (This is common, I realize.)So much tragedy in the world. Anyway, NME posted video of "Lotus Flower" and "Staircase." Please enjoy what a strange little man Thom Yorke is. And stop grading papers.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Trend Spotting: Headphones, Function or Beauty?

I'm typically the last to notice fashion trends, but when you spend as much time as I do waiting around a college campus for a bus, or for class to start, or for the line at Dunkin Donuts to subside, you notice things. Lately, I've noticed girls wearing laced boots that look like they jumped Laura Ingalls. I've noticed girls sprouting feathers from their scalps, and I've noticed that large, colorful headphones are infringing on the sacred turf of the tiny white Apple earbuds.

Experience says that the kids I went to high school and college with who wore bulky, over-the-ear headphones were audiophiles. (I've got a pair of Audio-Technicas, myself, but I never wore them out.) Apple earbuds served two purposes. They were easy to stuff in a purse or backpack and they let everyone know you owned an iPod.

But now, what are we chasing? One article I found says that these headphones can add "pop" to your outfit, especially in the age of dress codes (not that that applies to herds of undergrads). The sound quality is better, as well.... you know. If you're into that. Beats and Skullcandy are high on the list of brands in demand. Forbes even reported that the latter's stock is up, if only "modestly."

I guess my question with trends always remains: When did this happen? Is this the latest wave of Geek-Chic? Maybe it's a trend parallel to the surge in popularity of film cameras. They're also bulky and retro-looking, but those sepia-tinted filters are tapping into some kind of nostalgia for a period in time we did not live through.

That could be it. However, Beats is a brand by Dr. Dre, and Dr. Dre is decidedly not Geek Chic. A post from Gizmodo today talked about a cheaper model of Grados, ("the standard bearer of aural excellence," they say.) meaning that someone seeking nearly professional-level audio quality can lay down $600 and not only improve his listening experience but his music nerd cred. Gizmodo compared Grados among said "music nerds" to the afore mentioned Beats headphones among "fashion-conscious teenagers."

So maybe high school never quite ends. Instead of buying lime green headphones because we're cool, we buy really expensive headphones because we're cool and have audio needs that money just can't stand up to. Who knows, but the next time you're in some public place, look around. These headphones are everywhere. And feathers.

That's a whole different post.

If you have some insight/opinion, by all means, share in the comments.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Paradise : Coldplay

As we slink toward the October 24 release date for Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto, the band released another song today. Admittedly, I cringed when I read the song was called "Paradise." I've been cringing a lot these days with Coldplay. Though, the song isn't bad. It takes a bit to be convinced of that, but stick with it. It's a musical "para-para-paradise." Cringe.

Best Coast on the East Coast

Because I didn't get my fill of student media in undergrad, I'm now writing for a snazzy student media outlet at Syracuse called The Newshouse. Check out the review I wrote of West Coast rockers Best Coast, who performed at the Westcott Theater here on Friday. Props to my producer for adding in the phrase "profane mumblings about Bambi." Much respect, sir.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Jeff Tweedy's Gotta Feeling

If I had to make a list of things that I thought would never happen, Jeff Tweedy singing "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas might be in the top 10.

Props to Pitchfork for posting this hilarious cover. The Wilco frontman deadpans most of the way though, breaks in to explain "tricky" aspects of the song and ultimately kills the audience because they can't stop laughing. A rare moment, indeed. I doubt we will ever hear Tweedy sing "draaank" again.

Monday, September 5, 2011

You Belong to Me Now : Candy Butchers

Here's a testament to pop music at its best. Check out this tune from 2002. It's "You Belong to Me" by the Candy Butchers. What you need to know about said Candy Butchers is main man Mike Viola, a way under rated songwriter and musician, in my opinion. Aside from constructing a really a solid and enjoyable pop song, Viola is responsible for the music you hear in many Judd Apatow flicks like "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story," or "Get Him to the Greek." Apatow might not be your cup of tea, but you can hardly find fault with the dead-on Roy Orbison-esque "A Life Without You (Is No Life at All)." It's impressive. And it's not a mere ability to mimic, Viola absorbs and synthesizes style, which I think is one reason he can produce really good pop music. P.S. He's also the lead singer on "That Thing You Do."

But I digress. Check out the video and take a spin through some of his other stuff. It will not dispoint. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hammered Dulcimer Music at the NY State Fair

Many of you good folks out there know I moved up to Syracuse, NY two months ago. Here's a article I wrote yesterday for a class on some really unique musicians I met at the New York State Fair. Normally I don't post class articles, but this was pretty cool.

Amid the chatter, buzzers, rings, dings and whirs of the New York State Fair, there’s another sound that floats out onto the midway. It’s the sweet sound of the hammered dulcimer, a string instrument dating back to the Persian Gulf around 2,000 B.C.

 For the past 12 years, nationally recognized hammered dulcimer player Dan Duggan, along with friends and accompanying musicians Tom Hodgson and Henry Jankiewicz, have been bringing traditional music showcasing the dulcimer to fair crowds from across the state.

 “The sound comes right up at you,” Duggan said. That’s one quality that attracted him to the instrument when he first heard it in college. After 25 years, the dulcimer is Duggan’s full-time gig.

 He loves the uniqueness of the instrument. That uniqueness is also appealing to many fair-goers. They wander by the Agriculture Building, where the trio will be stationed through Sept. 4, and get a look and a listen at an instrument somewhat unfamiliar.

 “We get to play for people we normally wouldn’t play for,” guitarist Tom Hodgson said of the “eclectic mix of people” who stop by.

 For Duggan, it’s a chance to spread the word about the dulcimer, particularly because it doesn’t have a home in more modern mainstream music like rock or country.

 Audience members will hear primarily traditional music, fiddle player Henry Jankiewicz said. He also said an important distinction to remember is that traditional music comes from a variety of countries and regions like Ireland, Canada, Scandinavia, not just the American South.

 Or as Hodgson put it, “It’s the music passed down through oral tradition.”

 Traditional music isn’t everything, though. Duggan has numerous albums in his catalog, some solo works and others collaborations featuring his own compositions, both traditional and modern. His music can be heard in films and even on Paul Simon’s 2000 Grammy-nominated studio album, “You’re the One.”

 “Writing for the dulcimer isn’t any different than any other instrument,” he said, “it’s a little bit more percussive.”

 “Dan’s very open to having other musicians play with him,” Hodgson said of the collaborative nature of their work. “He’s very well known among musicians.” Typically, Duggan will put together an ensemble based on an event or project.

“It’s as much about the informal playing as it is professional playing,” Hodgson said. “Some of the best music is made around kitchen tables.”

 That sense of community is also part of the basis for Duggan’s latest album, “For Love of Friends. ”All the songs were “written with people in mind,” Duggan said.

“They’re for all the friends who supported us [he and his wife] through neck cancer treatments.” 

Duggan was diagnosed with neck cancer in early 2009. He and his wife Peggy Lynn started a blog and friends helped out, even to the extent of raising money. But as Duggan blogged in September of that same year, “After ten months, three surgeries and 35 radiation treatments, several chemotherapy treatments, six and a half months with a peg tube... I am cancer free.”

 The radiation made it harder to grow back his once bushy beard, but otherwise he is doing fine. “I looked like a teenager trying to grow a beard,” he said.

 Now it’s back to traveling from show to show and bringing the story of the dulcimer to the masses. 

“It’s wonderful to enlighten them,” Hodgson said. Weaving history into the set, Duggan told the crowd,

“This is the instrument the West was won with. They weren’t hauling pianos out there.”

 He also told the crowd dulcimer players have an old joke. They spend half of the time tuning their instruments and half of the time playing out of tune.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Songs About the Creepiness of Space

I think Space is creepy. Always have. Let's just get that out of the way. It's big, dark and there's no sure way home. There's something entirely tragic about a one-way trip.

That's why when I saw Gizmodo's post about a new childrens book version of David Bowie's "Space Oddity," my reaction was "Why would you read that to a child?!" Spoiler alert: Major Tom doesn't come home. That stuff just bothers me. Great song, don't get me wrong. The illustrations looks great too.

The whole creepy-space-song-thing reminded me of a tune by the Papercuts that was out a few years ago. The whole album had an unsettlingly calm, dream-like quality to it, but it was "A Peculiar Hallelujah" that took the cake in that department. In an interview, the frontman said it was about a religious group that went into space and jumped out of the ship without suits in some kind of religious fervor. Also, a pretty good song, but one I avoid listening to.

Of course, there's always "Rocket Man" by Elton John. Not really unsettling, but still picks up on that lonely space vibe.

Anyway. Space is creepy. I leave you with that. And this:

Monday, August 29, 2011

This Exists: Bluegrass Cover of "New Slang"

A quick hit. Every now and then I have one of those "This exists??" moments. I present to you a bluegrass version of The Shins's "New Slang" by some sort of bluegrass tribute group called Iron Horse.

It's pretty cool. And the best part is that I did not go looking for this sucker. You can thank the weird realm that is for this little discovery.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Time Spent in Los Angeles : Dawes

File this one under "Song Crushes." I've got a few days off and I'm spending some time catching up on music I've been meaning to listen to over the past month or so. Recently, I downloaded the Dawes/Blizten Trapper tour sampler from Noisetrade and this evening I discovered "Time Spent in Los Angeles by Dawes off their 2011 record Nothing is Wrong.

Dawes is from LA and the song is about being gone. I really love the melody, but the lyrics are what really get me because they fit very well with my current state of being far from home.

Ex 1: "When people aks me where I come from, to see what that says about a man, I only end up giving bad directions that never lead them there at all."

You know how it is trying to explain where you're from. You never do it justice, and more you describe it, the less real it feels.

Ex 2: Now I know what I've been missing and I'm going home to make it mine. And I'll be battening the hatches and pulling in the sails.

Definitely want to get back to Nashvegas and pull in the sails. I love that the song talks about placing such great importance on leaving and going to a million different places, only to figure out the most important thing is home.

The chorus is great too. That's where they get to talking about LA. And being originally from Los Angeles myself, I love it all the more.

Lead singer Taylor Goldsmith has a relatable, everyman kind of voice. It's clear and familiar, like someone you went to school with.

Check it out! And really listen to the lyrics. And to the guitars. The whole thing's good.

Weather of a Killing Kind : The Tallest Man on Earth

Back to the serious posting. Here's something I ran across the other day. It's a new tune from The Tallest Man on Earth. If you're unfamiliar, The Tallest Man on Earth is this little guy from Sweden named Kristian Matsson who's voice sounds like it's been dragged over a cheese grater. Wonderful stuff. Great guitar. In fact, Matsson made The Musically Inclined's Top 10 Discoveries of 2010 for his song "King of Spain" off his album The Wild Hunt.

Anyway, you can download "Weather of a Killing Kind," and I strongly suggest you do.

I would also recommend checking out the Tiny Desk Concert Matsson did with All Songs Considered a while back.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Know, Enough with The Muppets

Now I just feel compelled to continue my Muppets beat.

Two things: Ok Go released a video this week for their cover of the Muppet Show Theme Song. It is inexplicable. It reminded me of an old envy for the world where humans and Muppets co-exist in harmony.

Some inspired individual made a video of Cookie Monster clips synced up with Tom Waits's "God's Away on Business." It feels twisted, and yet you've got to see it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Word on Bon Iver-ness

Man. Bon Iver. That guy. Check out the new video for his single "Holocene." Watch it and come back.

BON IVER "Holocene" from nabil elderkin on Vimeo.

Got it? Ok. I like Justin Vernon as much as the next kid with vague hipster tendencies, but sometimes I'm overwhelmed by his Bon Iver-ness. It's the way he manages to be earthy and ethereal all at the same time. He's like a mountain spring so friggin' clean and crisp it melts your mouth off.

Case in point: "Holocene." You've got a pretty little blonde nordic boy who apparently lives in a hobbit hole and spends his day frolicking in pristine landscapes. He is clearly the only human able to not spoil these scenic terrains because he's nature boy, one with the falcons.

I like Bon Iver. I really do. I can't handle that video. Everything from the kid's sweater to him sweetly falling asleep on some rocks is just too much Bon Iver-ness to handle. It's the pinacle of Bon Iver-ness– perfect and pure and gorgeous. Lock your average person up in a cabin to write an album and you'd find them sitting in the rafters half crazy after a few weeks. It's just such a concentration of the (I don't know, aesthetic?) that it'll knock you out.

Phew. Anyway. Enjoy the video, nevertheless. P.S. Here's a link to a 36-inch Sumac Root walking stick from Amazon, if you're feeling it. Mmm. Rustic.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wedding Day : Dent May

Dent May. What would the world be without you? Check out his latest track "Wedding Day." It's all kinds of synth-drenched, and really not that great.... or at least as good as "Fun" was from a month or so back, but hey. It's good old Dent and in TMI's book, he can do just about anything he wants and we'll still listen. Why? The dude has some audacity. Yeah. We'll call it audacity.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Brian Covers Buddy

Buddy Holly covers seem to be in season. Check out Brian Wilson's new rendition of "Listen to Me," courtesy of Rolling Stone. Right now you can stream or download it, but in the future it will live on another Buddy Holly tribute album called, you guessed it, Listen to Me (out Sept. 6). Of course, the Buddy Holly tribute album Rave on Buddy Holly just came out as well.

Someone needs to tell me what's going on.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wilco is Such a Tease

Tidings from the Wilco camp this morning. The band released a tease for its upcoming album, The Whole Love, out September 27.

In the video, you hear/see them working on the song "Almost." That's some intense guitar work going on there. Check it out.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Muppets and Puppets

I couldn't have planned this post any better myself.

If you remember, a little while ago TMI brought you news of the Muppets tribute album, The Green Album. NPR's got it on First Listen this week, which is very exciting. The actual release date is Aug. 23.

Also in the felt and cloth world, the National's new video for "Exile Vilify" stars the most melancholic sock puppet you've ever seen. That's just a whole lot of emotion for something made of cotton. Check out the video above and the story behind it here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Night News Round Up

The last time TMI did a news round up, it involved Photoshopping a Santa hat on Bob Dylan, so I figure it's about time to do another one.

- Coldplay announced the name of their new album, but sadly did not include a pronunciation guide. [Editor's note: It's my-lo zy-letoe, according to the Coldplay newsletter] Mylo Xyloto is out October 25. There's not a track listing out yet, but you can count on "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" to be on there. Rolling Stone is reporting that other songs might include "Us Against the World," "Hurts Like Heaven," "Charlie Brown" and "Major Minus," which Coldplay have been playing at shows as of late.

- Louisiana songwriter dude Marc Broussard has a new video out. It's for "Cruel," a song off his new self-titled album. It's pretty amusing and Broussard is as soulful as ever. Check it out.

- Radiohead's going to be on Saturday Night Live September 24. I know. I'm trying to picture the uber complicated and layered sonic textures of Radiohead coming out of whatever miserable sound system SNL uses. We shall see! Maybe they'll get the USC marching band to play with them like they did at the Grammys a few years ago. Also, Alec Baldwin will be hosting.

- If you're interested in more Noah and the Whale, Pretty Much Amazing posted an MP3 of the Brit indie folk rockers playing a cover of Robyn's "Call Your Girlfriend" for BBC Radio 1. Even better, you can download it.

- And finally, Feist debut her new single today. It's "How Come You Never Go There" and it will live on her forthcoming album Metals, out October 4.

Well, that's all I've got. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Noah and the Whale Play NPR

It was happy news from my Google Reader this morning when I saw that the London-based indie band Noah and the Whale stopped by the NPR All Songs Considered office to play a Tiny Desk Concert. In reality, it was only a part of the group, frontman Charlie Fink and violinist Tom Hebden, but they played a great set anyway.

If you never picked up a copy of this past spring's Last Night on Earth, definitely do when you get a chance, and even more so than that, pick up First Days of Spring, which came out in 2009. Absolutely lovely, probably the prettiest break up album you'll ever hear. Not sure if there's something ironic about falling in love with a break up album, but you will. Embrace the irony.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Music From Frightened Rabbit

Seems like the Scottish rockers of Frightened Rabbit are keeping occupied these days. They're out on tour with Death Cab for Cutie and they just released two tracks from a tour EP, available only at their merch table. (Sorry.)

But the good news is that those tracks, plus one more, are just below for your listening pleasure. Also note the guest spots on the songs, including Tracyanne Campbell from Camera Obscura. (In my opinion, that's the best track of the bunch.) Three cheers for Frabbit.

Catch Beirut's 'Rip Tide' Streaming

I don't know what it's like where you are, but in Syracuse, NY it's rainy and gray. What better use of time could there be than taking Beirut's new album The Riptide for a test run? (And polishing up a final project for my grad program.... but that's my deal.)

NPR has The Riptide streaming as an Exclusive First Listen. So far so good. The title "Riptide" is probably a more forceful thought than anything on the album, which is mostly slower-paced and horn-ladden as usual. It's Beirut's third full-length album. For those of you keeping track at home, you might remember the name from 2009's Top Ten Discoveries list. The band's contribution to the Dessner brother-backed (from The National) charity album Dark was the Night, fit right in with the gypsy rock (or Balkan folk, if you prefer) kick I was apparently on at the time.

Anyway, check it out.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Alexander Hamilton, Hip-Hop Hero

This morning I flipped to the first page of an old reporters notebook and saw scribbled in pencil on the first line "The Hamilton Mixtape -> Lin-Manuel Miranda." Also, apparently I had an advising session that Friday at 10 a.m.

Anyway, in case that line doesn't mean anything to you, let me clue you in. Lin-Manuel Miranda is one of the most talented figures in current-day literary/arts culture. He's a rapper, an actor and a playwrite from New York. He wrote the music and lyrics for broadway musical In Heights, which was nominated for thirteen Tonys. Miranda also worked on a revival of West Side Story that actually featured Spanish in the dialogue between the Puerto Rican characters as well as in the songs they sing.

He's into a million different things these days. If you were paying attention, you might have spotted him on Modern Family a few months ago.

But the Hamilton Mixtape part? I'd forgotten hearing on NPR that he was working on an album about Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton's life, because Hamilton was– and you may not know this – a true embodiment of hip-hop.

I'll let Miranda explain it. Check out his 2009 performance at the White House's Poetry Jam. No word on a release date, but you better believe when that thing drops, I'm going to be the first in line. I have great respect for people that can string together words, especially the way he can. (That's why I hang out with writers.)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Plea From A Cat Named Virtue : The Weakerthans

This week's message from the universe is brought to you by The Weakerthans. It's "Plea from a Cat Named Virtue" and it popped into my world twice in a very shot time frame. First, from a friend, and second, from NPR's always fan-friggin-tastic All Songs Considered podcast.

If you haven't heard it, the song is written from the perspective of a cat (stay with me) whose owner is in a funk. It's sort of sweet and definitely clever in a non groan-inducing way.

My favorite line is "I don't know who you're talking to, I made a search through every room, but all I found was dust that moved and shadows of the afternoon." The song is written in a way that's strangely believable when you think about what pets must witness from their owners.

Anyway. Give it a listen. Oh, and meet the official cat of The Musically Inclined.

(Like the Paul McCartney song, but with an extra "t" for balance.)