Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ghost of Jerry Orbach

This is from a set I saw last night at Banjo Jim's on Ave C. I hurried to turn on my camera when I realized the band was covering one of the best Elliot Smith songs ever. I only captured the second half, comprising the jam and then a final recognizable play on the melody. I kept it rolling then also for a Crowded House cover. THE Crowded House cover, I guess.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Phosphorescent Blues" by Brazos

Brazos @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

At the Brazos show last Thursday, after My Mind opened for a relatively empty room of 25 people, blasting sufficient volume to force me into the cave bar below, I found I was extremely impatient for the show to start. I wasn't in a particularly good mood; The weather was awful. But I still couldn't help but be excited. I have been listening to Phosphorescent Blues with a giddy smirk all week long on the subway, drawing fear from normally hard faces. Live, that feeling of friendship and kinship that you get from the record made for such a warm interaction between the band and the audience. A solemn solo beginning to the set with "Downtown Boys" was followed in rapid succession by new realizations and recognitions. When "The Observer" was performed, singer Martin Crane prefaced it with what has become its introduction, and the creation myth of the band, formed around the musical adaptation of the poem by Adrienne Rich. Phosphorescent Blues will be on my top 10 list for 2009, unless of course 9 fuckin' awesome records come out in the next 6 weeks. Listen to and love "Day Glo" below. Thanks to Shastasheen for turning me on to these guys.

"Day Glo" by Brazos download mp3 (with permission)

Brazos on MySpace
Buy Brazos' records!!

** And BTW, Crane sounds exactly like Russell Huie. I know, but he does. I think it's the same vocal influences (Wainwright, C. Martin, T. Yorke, and J. Buckley).

Whitten/Bones Project @ Bruar Falls

Here is a clip from Bill Whitten of Grand Mal and Mike Bones (of Mike Bones) paired up in one of those "project" bands. They played last night at the HOME box set release party at Bruar Falls.

Buy Grand Mal's Records!!
Buy Mike Bones' Records!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Swimmers Live @ Piano's

The Swimmers Live at Piano's in New York

Here is some video from The Swimmers' show at Piano's on Saturday night.

Friday, November 6, 2009

"People Are Soft" - The Swimmers

The Swimmers (band)
photo by Jenna Stoltzfus Stamm installation by Janell Olah

This week Philadelphia quartet The Swimmers release their second record, entitled "People Are Soft" on Mad Dragon Records. If you liked 2007's Fighting Trees, then you will love this record. I say that because what I loved about FT was primarily the songwriting of Steve Yutzy-Burkey, which is just as Eels-Depeche-Mode-love-child as before, but I think with a few more "hits" than last time. Though not a noticeable departure sonically, the process behind creating this group of songs was quite different. Here's what Steve had to say about it:

"This was our first shot at tracking and mixing a full record. I had previously always felt like I tried to do too much, and we needed someone else to do basic tracks and mix the record so there was a buffer there to make sure it sounded good. But this one we did PURELY to sound interesting to OURSELVES."

The Swimmers on a rooftop in Philly

Not only that, but the work was all done in The Swimmers' own studio. When I asked him why he went that route, he answered thus: "Money, control and no time limits. Mostly I wanted to get set up in a sustainable way to keep making records in the coming years, so I built a studio at our house."

The production is definitely as strong if not stronger than 2007's Fighting Trees; you can definitely hear that more attention has been paid to the tracks, that the band was willing to try new things. While my favorite track on the record reminds me a little of classic Wilco (What This World Is Coming To - below), the single "A Hundred Hearts" rests on a beautiful, delayed synth xylophone part that could be The Cure or Depeche Mode. Of course, almost no one agrees with me on either of these comparisons. But I think it is interesting.

Steve: "We always push to have each song and each record be its own thing and not limit ourselves to a specific sound or approach that has worked in the past."

The CD Release in Philly is tonight (November 6th) at Kung Fu Necktie [a new venue near Front & Girard, Fishtown/N. Liberties] with The Capitol Years. They will be here in the city tomorrow, November 7th at Piano's. Get Tickets!!

"Shelter" by The Swimmers download mp3 (from The Swimmers)

The Swimmers on MySpace

Buy The Swimmers' records!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Get Up Kids @ Blender Theater

Get Up Kids at Blender Theater

Over the weekend I saw The Get Up Kids at the Blender Theater. I think my first college girlfriend put "I'll Catch You" on a mix tape for me as sort of a resume builder. I had no idea who they were then, so the effort was lost on me. I liked it though - a bit of sweet sentiment over quite a simple piano part. I still play it occasionally, when no one is around. None of that intimacy was preserved however on Saturday night. I felt whatever small connection I had with the music wrung out of me by the greedy consciousnesses all around, battling in a competitive sing-a-long.

Get Up Kids Sold Out at Blender Theater

A friend told me that The Get Up Kids blew up circa 1998, selling something like 100,000 records. That seems hard to believe now, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was even more than that. Our being colored by the present probably forces us to underestimate retroactively to prevent ourselves from getting depressed. On a brighter note, selling out 700 cap venues is not a bad substitute for records sales, and if Something To Write Home About is being re-released as a 10 year anniversary edition simply to justify a tour, then I think the whole thing is probably a big success.

"Holiday" by The Get Up kids download mp3 (from Vagrant)

The Get Up Kids on MySpace
Buy The Get Up Kids' records!!