Listen to Sufjan Stevens’ Haunting “Wallowa Lake Monster” From Impending “Carrie & Lowell” Mixtape

Sufjan Stevens will release a Carrie & Lowell “mixtape” entitled The Greatest Gift, on 11/24 via Asthmatic Kitty. The mixtape will include unreleased outtakes, remixes, and demos from the album, which is said to be an “investigation of love, life, death, God, and the beautiful state of Oregon.” A portion of the proceeds from The Greatest Gift will be donated to Cancer Community Support, which it is said “is dedicated to ensuring that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community.”

Stevens has given us a glimpse of The Greatest Gift via Wallowa Lake Monster, one of four new songs (“outtakes”) on the new mixtape (see tracklist below). The new song was recorded during the Carrie & Lowell sessions, but for some reason was left off the album. As much as any other song on Carrie & Lowell, the new song is about his and his family’s relationship with his troubled mother, Carrie. Wallowa Lake is an Oregon lake in the northeast corner of Oregon that carries the legend of a water-bound monster. During the song Stevens alludes to the monster and manages to weave in haunting allusions to Carrie abandoning her children on a rainy day, being drunk and eventually passing from this earth (see lyrics at bottom). And just like much of Carrie & Lowell, the song wallows in stirring and sophisticated melodies, but particularly cloaked this time in a rapturous ghost-choir treatment. Few in music are doing what Stevens seems so to do so effectively, whether on his own or with others (e.g. Planetarium). Bravo!

You can pre-order The Greatest Gift HERE.

The Greatest Gift tracklist:

01. Wallowa Lake Monster
02. Drawn to the Blood — Sufjan Stevens Remix
03. Death with Dignity — Helado Negro Remix
04. John My Beloved — iPhone Demo
05. Drawn to the Blood — Fingerpicking Remix
06. The Greatest Gift
07. Exploding Whale — Doveman Remix
08. All of Me Wants All of You — Helado Negro Remix
09. Fourth of July — 900X Remix
10. The Hidden River of My Life
11. City of Roses
12. Carrie & Lowell — iPhone Demo

Wallowa Lake Monster:

“As if you know the story of Wallowa Lake
Leviathan first hid in the deep where her children sleep
She kept them hidden from the plague
But have you heard the story of my mother’s fate?
She left us in Detroit in the rain with a pillow case
Fortune for the paper weight

We followed her to Joseph, near the Indian raid
She wept among the weeds, hide and seek, for the fallen chief
Spathiphyllum on his grave
And like the cedar wax wing, she was drunk all day
We put her in the sheet, little wreath, candles on the crate
As the monster showed its face

As she waits for her children in the shade
Demogorgon or demigod the ghost parade
No oblation will bring her back to our place

She stayed within the deep end of Wallowa Lake
The undertow refrained with the flame of a feathered snake
Charybdis in its shallow grave
She gave us one last feature, the fullness of her face
In the shade of Hin-mah-too-yah… (Red Napoleon)
As the demon took her place

As we wait for the waters to reside
Her remarkable stoicism and her pride
When the dragon submerged we knew she had died”


Watch Spoon’s New “I Ain’t The One” Video and Colbert Performance–New January Dates Added on West Coast, including Santa Barbara on 1/18/18

Spoon can do no wrong in our book. Their latest album Hot Thoughts is easily one of the Best Albums of 2017. They’ve now released the official video for stalwart song I Ain’t the One off the album and announced new tour dates in January on the West Coast (including Santa Barbara on January 18th). Check out the video below in all its alienated, brooding, and film noir beauty.

Presale tickets for Santa Barbara are available now while the general public sale begins is tomorrow at 10 am. Go HERE to get tickets.  See all the tour dates below, including Red Rocks tonight!

And in case you missed it, afterwards check out the band’s recent, raving performance of Can I Sit Next To You on the Colbert Show. Another phenomenal live showing from this great band with Britt Daniel’s howls hurling the song along. And those drums! Tour duh force!

Spoon 2017-2018 Tour dates:

10/05 – Denver, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheater
10/07 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Music Festival
10/10 – San Antonio, TX @ Aztec Theater #
10/12 – Dallas, TX @ House of Blues #
10/13 – Austin, TX @ Stubb’s
10/14 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Music Festival
10/15 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues #
10/17 – New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues #
10/18 – Memphis, TN @ Minglewood Hall #
10/20 – Columbia, SC @ Music Farm #
10/21 – Jacksonville, FL @ Mavericks #
10/22 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore
11/02 – Brussels, BE @ Orangerie at Botanique
11/03 – Den Haag, NL @ Crossing Border Festival
11/03-04 – Wessenhauser, DE @ Rolling Stone Weekender
11/06 – Brighton, UK @ Concorde 2
11/07 – Liverpool, UK @ Invisible Wind Factory
11/09 – Cambridge, UK @ The Junction
11/10 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
11/11 – Basel, CH @ Kaserne
11/12 – Milan, IT @ Santeria Social Club
11/14 – Barcelona, ES @ Sala Apolo
11/15 – Madrid, ES @ La Riviera
11/16 – Porto, PT @ Porto Coliseum
11/17 – Lisbon, PT @ Coliseu dos Recreios
11/28 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
11/29 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
12/01 – Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Chance
12/03 – Stroudsburg, PA @ Sherman Theater
12/05 – Clifton Park, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall
12/06 – Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground
12/30 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
12/31 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
1/12 – Seattle, WA – Showboxb &
1/13 – Eugene, OR – McDonald Theater &
1/15 – Napa, CA – Jam Cellars &
1/17 – San Francisco, CA – The Masonic &
1/18 – Santa Barbara, CA – Arlington Theater &
1/20 – Las Vegas, NV – Cosmopolitan &

! = w/ The Shins
# = w/ Mondo Cozmo
& = w/ White Reaper



Review: Mondo Cozmo Ends 180 Days On the Road With Triumphant Homecoming Show at El Rey Theater

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Anticipation ran high inside the sold-out El Rey Theater this week as Mondo Cozmo’s hometown fans filled the welcoming art-deco venue for the newly-anointed (by us) Best New Band of 2017. We had tasted the anthemic powers of the band live in July, but after touring non-stop for 180 days (as leader Josh Ostrander emphasized to the crowd) these gifted and indefatigable musicians have taken their art higher and higher. As Ostrander would say, “this is what not giving up looks like!” Mondo Cozmo is rounded out perfectly with talented band members Drew Beck on guitar, James Gordon on keys/vocals, Chris Null on bass/vocals and Andrew Tolman on drums. Null’s stellar bass lines, stage antics and vocals stood out more this night than in July when he seemed (understandably) exhausted.

Just as they did in July, Mondo Cozmo came out at the El Rey with the slow-build-and-bash of Chemical Dream, with Ostrander stalking the stage before taking the audience to a Higher place. The crowd was instantly won over and in step with their hometown heroes and enraptured as Ostrander played musical Pied Piper and implored all to Come With Me on that incessant rocker. After down-shifting briefly and de-jacketing for the affecting ballad Angel, the band performed the unreleased song Future Bends, with its gripping nods to Neil Young (‘My my, hey hey”) and Thunder Road-era Springsteen (“‘Cause tramps like us were born to die”). Hold On to Me, filled with its seeker yearning, brought the first chills of the night. Hit single Shine followed with its prayerful, everyman-Jesus emphases and the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs. Thunder then lit up the room with its Radiohead/Boss elements and powerful lyrics, ending with Beck and Null in musical scrum and Null falling to the floor to finish the song on his back. The new album’s great and languid title-track followed with its well-wrought time-travel homage to a lover featuring ghosted-harmonies and Tolman galvanizing with his effortlessly fantastic drum rolls. We are rarely impressed when new bands do cover songs, but Mondo Cozmo’s cover of The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony was gigantic with the band pouring everything they had into the song to magnificent effect (Beck’s guitar added immensely to the cover). Ostrander then succumbed to the 180 days of effort and collapsed to his back before bouncing back to give a great reading of Bowie’s Heroes and closing the night with the extraordinarily catchy and striking single Automatic.

With the El Rey crowd giving the band a hero’s welcome, it was a perfect homecoming for a band well on its way to deserved artistic and other riches. Catch ’em if you can (they will head out shortly to support Spoon for a bit–a phenomenal double-bill).

Their outstanding debut album Plastic Soul is out on Republic Records, and you can order it HERE.


Chemical Dream
Come With Me
Future Bends
Hold On to Me
Plastic Soul
Bitter Sweet Symphony
11 Acre

Photos by LA Music Scene


Watch Chance The Rapper Perform New Song “First World Problems” and Show Why He’s Almost Without Peer

While we were out weeks wandering (wasted and weak) in the wondrous western world, a wealth of new music met the new morning’s airwaves. To begin, on Monday night peerless (Kendrick excepted) rapper Chance the Rapper showed up on Colbert’s Late Show and performed the honest and challenging new Judgment-Day song First World Problems (lyrics at bottom) with Daniel Caesar. The poignant new song, with its heady castigations, witticisms and triple-entendres, is from a highly anticipated new album the artist has been working on in the studio while “cooking up some yammers.” Just to show he’s not too pious or humble, Chance confessed on Colbert that his new songs, “they’re honestly great.” Based on the performance of the song below, we have no doubt about the high standards to be seen on Chance’s upcoming album. Bravo!

First World Problems:

“I get sad when I look at the stars
They so pretty, you can’t tell ’em apart
You think they close but really we far
And really, they ain’t even that much closer to God
It’s much harder to sin naked
I walked past apple trees and didn’t take it
Thought about stone mattresses, thin blankets
Really long winter spent in a windbreaker
I’m a temptation door knocker
Down there on Lower Wacker
I’m a rich excuse for a father
You just can’t tour a toddler
She turnin’ two, she don’t need diapers, she just need her papa
I really need a break, could really use a nap
My daughter barely recognize me when I lose the hat
You go so far, you hit a point where you can’t Uber back
The other day, I told a hummingbird he too relaxed
I did my worst, I did the work, I had to skip the label
I go to church, they want a flick, I want to flip the table
I knew the worth before the birth when it was just a stable
And now it’s just a fable, and it’s just as fatal

First world problems that niggas make up
Have a dream and then never wake up
When so much turns to too much
Have a dream and then never wake up

The day is on its way, it couldn’t wait no more
Here it comes, here it comes
Ready or not, ready or not
The day is on its way, it couldn’t wait no more
Here it comes, here it comes
Ready or not, here it comes

Here it comes
Spirit’s working now

I think my little cousins want they cousin back
The automatic quarterback that doesn’t rap
They know I used to drive to Hammond for the Roman candles
Lied about coming back, the last straw that broke the camel
It ain’t really fun to hang out with me no more
We can’t go to River East to hang at the beach no more
It’s messed up, I made it this way, and my feet so sore
But it’s all downhill from here, I could teach snowboards
I miss my mom, I miss my time, I miss my prime
In high school, I missed my prom, I ditched my date, I missed my beat
Kissed my teeth, kicked my feet, hooped and hollered
Now I just sip my tea, sit my ass on my ass, send my tweet
Fold my arms, twist my weed
If I hadn’t heard the news, I would’ve known what he say
But the recliner on my chair is like an emergency brake, you know

First world problems that niggas make up
Have a dream and then never wake up
When so much turns to too much
Have a dream and then never wake up

The day is on its way, it couldn’t wait no more
Here it comes, here it comes
Ready or not, ready or not
The day is on its way, it couldn’t wait no more
Here it comes
Ready or not, here it comes

Three verses, hell yes
I still ain’t get my Grammys in the mail yet
I just want my mama happy like a toy sale
And to stay connected to the world like a long-ass voicemail
I hear the scene snappin’, and I’m the team captain
No more knee slappin’ or shoe shinin’ or shoe signin’ ’til the dream happens
I’m just gon’ keep rappin’
And y’all just keep clappin’ and keep actin’
Like Flint got clean water and y’all don’t got teen daughters and black friends and gay cousins, y’all just gon’ say nothin’
Know that the day comin’
Knees bowed, tongues confessin’
The last ones gettin’ first dibs on blessings

Now these the first world problems that niggas make up
Keep on playing we gon’ shake this shit up
Keep on telling us we making it up
The American dream don’t you ever wake up.

The day is on its way, it couldn’t wait no more
Here it comes, here it comes
Ready or not, ready or not
The day is on its way, it will not wait another day
Here it comes
Ready or not, here it comes…”


During National Suicide Prevention Week, Watch Heartwarming “Skyline” Video from Broken Social Scene

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These times seem to be taking an inordinate toll on folks. There seems to be more depression and anxiety in our society than we can ever recall. But maybe it’s also that people are being more honest and letting others know their issues. Let’s hope so. Coincidentally, it’s National Suicide Prevention Week. If you’re struggling (or know someone who’s struggling) with depression/anxiety and want to get help or you want to find out how you can help/donate to the effort to prevent suicide, please go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website HERE.

Related to this, great Canadian band Broken Social Scene has today released a new music video for our former Song of the Week, Skyline, off of their outstanding recent album Hug of Thunder. The video was directed by leader Kevin Drew in which co-founding band member Brendan Canning and photographer Dimitri Karakostas seek the means for “momentary survival” in this day and age. It turns out you may only need peanut butter, a close friend and a good group of friends, a mouthguard, a skateboard, and to hangout with the band Foreigner (please, can we not and instead hang with the far more talented BSS?). Regardless, the video is heartwarming and presents a great message. Check it out below.

Broken Social Scene begins its North American tour tomorrow, and you can check out the dates HERE.


Watch Official Video for Acoustic “Powderfinger” from Neil Young’s Superb Archival “Hitchhiker” Release

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Like many, we’ve been life-long Neil Young fans. From Buffalo Springfield, to CSN&Y, to all the solo albums (we’ll take On The Beach if we have to take but one to that Desert Island), to all the collaborations, to all the cathartic concerts at the Santa Barbara Bowl, the Bridge School Benefit Concerts and elsewhere, we’ve lived a happy musical lifetime with Young. His best-of-all-time bona fides are unchallenged.

After recording a harrowing hat-trick of nonpareil albums (On The Beach, Tonight’s The Night and Zuma), on August 11, 1976, Young recorded a solo acoustic album entitled Hitchhiker in a single session with his producer David Briggs at Malibu’s Indigo Ranch Studios.  That album never made the light of day (though most of its songs appeared elsewhere) until September 8th when Young released it. Among its treasures are acoustic versions of Pocohantas, Campaigner, Ride My Llama, The Old Country Waltz and the powerful Powderfinger.

Best remembered as a rock-anthem featured on the Rust Never Sleeps album, the acoustic version of Powderfinger found on Hitchhiker is a tremendous distillation of the song’s anti-gun/war/violence theme. To aid in our understanding of the lyrics (after all these years and debates), Young has today released a superb, sepia-toned, watercolor video that provides a straightforward narrative for the song (see lyrics at bottom). We love the solo acoustic performance, Young’s vocals and the video. It all adds up to everything. Check the video below, followed by the electric version and the song’s lyrics at bottom.

And go buy/stream Hitchhiker HERE.


“Look out, Mama, there’s a white boat coming up the river
With a big red beacon, and a flag, and a man on the rail
I think you’d better call John
Because it don’t look like they’re here to deliver the mail
And it’s less than a mile away
I hope they didn’t come to stay
It’s got numbers on the side and a gun
And it’s making big waves

Daddy’s gone, my brother’s out hunting in the mountains
Big John’s been drinking since the river took Emmy-Lou
So the Powers That Be left me here to do the thinkin’
And I just turned twenty-two
I was wondering what to do
And the closer they got
The more those feelings grew

Daddy’s rifle in my hand felt reassuring
He told me, Red means run, son, numbers add up to nothing
But when the first shot hit the docks I saw it coming
Raised my rifle to my eye
Never stopped to wonder why
Then I saw black
And my face splashed in the sky

Shelter me from the powder and the finger
Cover me with the thought that pulled the trigger
Think of me as one you’d never figured
Would fade away so young
With so much left undone
Remember me to my love
I know I’ll miss her”


The Great Songs: Prefab Sprout’s “When Love Breaks Down”

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“Oh my, oh my, have you seen the weather? The sweet September rain.”

You might think that all we’ve been listening to is The National’s new album Sleep Well Beast, and you’d be mostly right. But other great music has wafted through. There’s both new (Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile’s Over Everything single, Dave Rawlings Machine’s new album Poor David’s Almanack, the Mynabirds’ new Be Here Now album, the recent Grizzly Bear album, etc.) and old high-quality sounds on the air.

Speaking of old, our ears perked up this morning while listening to the incredible, underrated Brit-band Prefab Sprout and their stellar song When Love Breaks Down. Following recent, crazy California weather (last night the Santa Barbara Channel saw lightning, thunder and rain usually only seen in the tropics–see pictures above), the following lines from that great song took us aback:

“Oh my, oh my, have you seen the weather
The sweet September rain
Rain on me like no other
Until I drown, until I drown.”

When Love Breaks Down (lyrics at bottom) is but one of many seminal 80s-Brit-pop songs on Prefab Sprout’s revered and highly-recommended album Two Wheels GoodTwo Wheels Good is a great introduction to the complicated-pop of Prefab Sprout and their powerful discography. Check ’em out.

While on the subject of weather, for those in the Caribbean and southern United States suffering from the recent hurricanes, our thoughts and prayers are with you. Go HERE to receive good guidance as to how you can best donate for those in need.

Photos above (top to bottom) by Mike Eliason/Noozhawk; Sophia Dentzel/Noozhawk; and Anneka Purcell/KEYT3.

When Love Breaks Down

“My love and I, we work well together
But often we’re apart
Absence makes the heart lose weight, yeah
Till love breaks down, love breaks down

Oh my, oh my, have you seen the weather
The sweet september rain
Rain on me like no other
Until I drown, until I drown

When love breaks down
The things you do
To stop the truth from hurting you
When love breaks down
The lies we tell
They only serve to fool ourselves
When love breaks down
The things you do
To stop the truth from hurting you
When love breaks down
When love breaks down

My love and I, we are boxing clever
She’ll never crowd me out
Fall be free as old confetti
And paint the town, paint the town

When love breaks down
The things you do
To stop the truth from hurting you
When love breaks down
The lies we tell
They only serve to fool ourselves
When love breaks down
The things you do
To stop the truth from hurting you
When love breaks down
The lies we tell
They only serve to fool ourselves
When love breaks down
The things you do
To stop the truth from hurting you
When love breaks down
You join the wrecks
Who leave their hearts for easy sex
When love breaks down
When love breaks down”


National-ization Week Continues–Watch The National Perform Four Songs From “Sleep Well Beast” on CBS This Morning

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The National were everywhere this past week in support of their just-released album Sleep Well Beast. They performed the entire album live for NPR, performed Day I Die on Colbert, and most recently four songs on CBS This Morning. Watch below as the band performs those songs live on CBS This Morning, presented in the album’s order below. The System Sleeps In Total Darkness is one of the best songs they’ve ever released, and live it is both nuanced (those background, Brian Wilson-influenced vocals) and incendiary (Aaron Dessner’s ravaging guitar solo, Matt Berninger’s vocal fervor, and Bryan Devendorf’s drumming–wow!).

Pick up the critically-acclaimed Sleep Well Beast HERE or buy/stream it HERE.


Watch The National Perform “Day I Die” Live on Colbert Show–“Sleep Well Beast” Album Released Today

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The National showed up on Colbert’s Late Show last night to perform their impressive new song Day I Die (off of new album Sleep Well Beast, which was just released today). We’ve been digesting the new album for a while and can happily say (full review, soon come) that the band does not disappoint.

Check out the very lively Day I Die performance below, which features guitar hooks aplenty delivered by an enlarged band, including a posse of percussionists and regular touring members Benjamin Lanz and Kyle Resnick, along with Arone Dyer (of Buke and Gase) who adds vocals on the new album. Check it out and go buy/stream Sleep Well Beast HERE. Day I Die’s lyrics are at bottom.

Day I Die:

I don’t need you. I don’t need you.
Besides I barely ever see you anymore,
and when I do it feels like you’re only halfway there.
Young mothers love me, even ghosts of girlfriends
call from Cleveland—they will meet me
any time and anywhere.

The day I die, day I die, where will we be?
The day I die, day I die, where will we be?

Don’t do this, I don’t do this to you.
And don’t expect me to enjoy it.
Because I really don’t have the courage not to turn the volume up
inside my ears. For years I used to put my head inside
the speakers in the hallway
when you’d get too high and talk forever.

The day I die, day I die, where will we be?
The day I die, day I die, where will we be?
The day I die, day I die, where will we be?
The day I die, day I die, where will we be?

I get little punchy with the vodka just like my great uncle Valentine Jester did
when he had to deal with those people like you who made no goddam common sense.
I’d rather walk all the way home right now than to spend one more second in this place.
I’m exactly like you Valentine. Just come outside and leave with me.

Let’s just get high enough to see our problems.
Let’s just get high enough to see our father’s houses.

The day I die, day I die, where will we be?
The day I die, day I die, where will we be?
The day I die, day I die, where will we be?
The day I die, day I die, where will we be?


Listen to The National Perform Entire New Album “Sleep Well Beast” Live for NPR–Performing on Colbert Show Tomorrow (Thursday) Night

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Here comes The Nationalization of 2017. The National will release their great new album Sleep Well Beast on Friday of this week on 4AD. As lead-up to the album’s release, the band yesterday performed the entirety of Sleep Well Best live in Philadelphia for WXPN’s World Cafe and NPR Music. Go check out the impressive performances HERE while you can.

As you will hear, many of the new album’s songs benefit from their enhanced live treatment. The album’s best song, The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness, is taken to even greater heights live with the added harmony vocals of Arone Dyer (Buke and Gase) and the even-more ferocious guitar solo (which reminds of Jeff “Skunk” Baxter’s searing guitar solos for Steely Dan on their first two albums, Can’t Buy a Thrill and Countdown to Ecstacy–our highest praise possible). The desultory Walk It Back finishes with an unexpected flourish live. Berninger appropriately attacks the vocal on Turtleneck, and I’ll Still Destroy You accomplishes its aim with its dynamics and the dueling guitars in the latter part of the song. Dark Side of the Gym remains one of our favorites and benefits from its scaled-down sound here. And for good measure the NPR set ends with a few songs “from 10 years ago.” Fake Empire and Terrible Love close with a devastating one-two punch.

The band will also appear on the Colbert Show tomorrow (Thursday) night so set your DVRs.

Bring on Sleep Well Beast.