6
Nov

The Elbow Invasion is Upon U.S.–Watch Band Perform “Maginficent (She Says)” and “One Day Like This” on Tonight Show


All-time great Manchester band and repeat Glastonbury Festival-headliner(!!) Elbow is currently touring the U.S. Having caught them live twice (first in 2011 and then in 2014), we can’t scream loud enough that this band is a must-see live! Leader Guy Garvey’s (Peter Gabriel-esque) voice and lyrics are alone worth the price of admission, but the other members are consummate players that meld perfectly on stage to, without-exception, deliver powerful, moving concerts.

To get a feel, watch their recent performances on The Tonight Show. First, check out recent song Magnificent (She Says) off of their (of course) magnificent 2017 album Little Fictions. Afterwards, watch the band perform their ebullient, uplifting, fan-favorite anthem One Day Like This. Tickets are (inexplicably) still available for next week’s Fox Theater show in Oakland, The Observatory show in Santa Ana, and the Wiltern Theater show in LA. Elbow must be scratching their heads and asking “what the the hell do we have to do America?” You can pick up tickets for their US and European tours HERE. Don’t mess this up.

4
Nov

It’s That Time–Listen to Lisa Hannigan’s “Fall” From 2016’s Superb “At Fall” Album

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True confession: we had Lisa Hannigan’s stellar 2016 album At Swim cued up last year to praise to pieces. And then we fell apart and lost the thread, only to put it back together again and put the album on again this week. And it’s been on repeat ever since. Highly recommended if you’ve not partaken. The video below for song Fall is as good an introduction as you need, but much of the Aaron Dessner-produced album soars and floats in a wondrous way. Hannigan’s affecting songs somewhat resemble Joanna Newsom at times, minus some of Newsom’s (winsome) vocal tics and thorny complexities. Check out the official video for Fall (lyrics at bottom) followed by an enchanting solo acoustic version by Hannigan. Oh how the woman can sing.

“All our running is a crawl
And burns for us right through the fall.”

Fall:

Hide your horses, hold your tongue
Hang the rich and spare the young
Who drain the spirits from the jars
Hop the fences, steal the cars
Run on fumes and from the north
And burn for us right through the fall

All the ladies call your name
Brush your hair like it could be tamed
Hitch their dresses past the knees
Spilling to the floor like ease
They swing the bridges one and more
And burn for us right through the fall

All our running ahead, all our running ahead
All our running ahead, all our running ahead

And we’ll seize the captain’s wheel
A mutiny we’ve come to feel
When their aiming’s gone from view
With everything we thought to do
Oh, the devil won’t have me
I wonder who will, I wonder who will
All our running is a crawl
And burns for us right through the fall

All our running ahead, all our running ahead
All our running ahead, all our running ahead
All our running, all our running
All our running, all our running

2
Nov

Watch Daniel Johnston and Famous Friends Perform on KCRW–Performing Tonight at the Orpheum in LA

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People love their ultra-polished music (guilty, at times). But oft-times its the un-polished portion that punctually pierces our musical hearts. This morning the gifted and famously “troubled” singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston appeared on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic with his famous friends Mike Watt (bass), Ben Lee (acoustic guitar, vocals), Guy Blakesee (electric guitar, vocals), Maria Taylor (piano/keys, vocals), Joey Waronker (drums), Lucius (Jess Wolfe & Holly Laessig on vocals), and the Silver Lake Chorus (Heather Ogilvy, Kel Pritchard, Jen Daking, Erin Rye, Miles Hartfelder, Nicholas Pasqua, Ben Fordham, Sam Breslin, and Michael Wells). This uber-talented ensemble will perform with Johnston tonight at the Orpheum in LA.

While the entire MBE set was phenomenally captivating to listen to (listen HERE), it wasn’t until we watched the visuals in the videos below that we really got a sense for what is going on here, which in a (overused) word is: magic. Watch ’em and weep. Step out into the light and rejoice! Wow!

In what is being dubbed as the “Final Tour” by Johnston, more West Coast tour dates can be found HERE.  Don’t ya miss it.

31
Oct

Tom Waits For Everyone and A World Without Walls–Check Out Waits-Infused Piano-Player At Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel

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We interrupt this string of “Strong-Young-Female-Artists” to bring you the following public-service message: to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Britain’s takeover of Palestine, the inimitable Hall of Famer Tom Waits recorded an instrumental take on his forlorn and pensive song Innocent When You Dream to play on a player-piano in the lobby of the oft-imitated artist Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel. The Walled Off Hotel is physically adjacent to the wall that separates Israel and Palestine. To find out more about the Walled Off Hotel and its’ raison d’etre, there are good answers to be found HERE.  Asked why he would put a hotel at this location, Banksy aptly reminds: “This place is the centre of the universe – every time God comes to earth it seems to happen near.” Keep on praying for a world without walls.

Go HERE to watch/hear Wait’s player-piano version of Innocent When You Dream.

25
Oct

Alyeska Is A Musical Force For the Future–Check Out Our Favorite Track “Ribs and Greens” Off Stellar “Crush” EP

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We have been fans of LA-based band Alyeska since early January 2016. Simply put, singer-songwriter-guitar-player Alaska Reid is one of the best new female musical artists on the scene. In addition to being a stentorian guitar player, Reid writes sterling melodies and affecting lyrics, and possesses one of the most nuanced voices in all of indie rock. In our interview with Reid for this article, she cited Joni Mitchell (her alternate-tunings in particular) as one of her guitar-player influences (together with J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. and her uncle P.W. Long of 90s band Mule). But you can also hear Joni’s effect (her mezzo-soprano inflections and vibrato) in Reid’s alluring vocals (aided by Reid’s classical and jazz vocal training). Combining Reid’s teeming talents (she’s also whip-smart and driven) with the other band members (original member Ben Spear on drums and, most-recently, multi-instrumentalist Wolf Woodcock) results in a powerful, artful ensemble. And on this year’s superb Crush EP the band (sans-Wolf) was produced by perfectly-matched producer John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile, Phosphorescent, Hop Along, Alvvays, etc.). The result, in Crush’s tracks and other songs, is a musical tour de force.

As mentioned above, after first floating on their song Medicine River, we next gave glowing reviews to Alyeska’s exceptional EverGlow. And then earlier this year, the band released the eight-song Crush EP, with its Tilt-A-Whirl ear-worms and other guitar-strong songs such as the Replacements-inspired Motel State of Mind and Sister Buckskin. But the song that immediately collard [sic] us was the opener Ribs and Greens. We remain surprised that it hasn’t been singled out by other critics. So here we go.

The song begins with Reid strumming in the key of Creedence/Marshall Tucker before her distinctive vocal and harmonies take over and take you back to her home in Montana. Asked about the song’s lyrics, Reid told us the imagery came to her as she walked around her hometown, wistfully gauging the reflection of Christmas lights in windows and considering the changes observed in friends as contrasted with the static, rosy images held in her head. Reid also told us that the song’s incantatory lines “I remember when ‘meant-to-be’ became coincidence” sings for both the dashed illusions of a broken relationship and of life itself. Regardless, it captures well life’s intermittent lost lusters. A bubble bursts and you float away. Musically, Reid says the song is a composite of compiled riffs, as complemented mid-song by a guitar-jig lick she attributes to the country-influence of her uncle P.W. And we hear Agnello’s production hand, like when he trickles in treacly triangle-like touches. In sum, the song endearingly taps into our (and your) nostalgic yearnings for places and people left behind. And musically it moves us on down the line. Listen to Ribs and Greens below. We dare you not to to punch the “Repeat” button.

Asked about future plans, Reid says there are new songs in the works and, though she wouldn’t say with whom or when, the band’s manifold options are currently being explored.  We expect an ever-glowing horizon and ever-growing future for Alyeska and the tremendously talented Reid. Check them out!

Ribs And Greens:

Ribs and Greens:

“I remember when, “meant to be,”
became coincidence.
It set me free
But you still scream through your teeth.
We were just kids who ate our ribs and greens

And now you, and all your friends,
just try to stay clean.
They try to stay, they try to stay.

And it was lonely that night
in the company of the Christmas lights.
In a feeling like a dream,
I saw you through the door screen.
Turned your eyes to look at me
and all I saw was what they were meant to be.
No, no worth to me, worth to me.

I remember when, “meant to be,” became coincidence.
I remember when, “meant to be,” became coincidence.
Oh I remember, I remember, I remember.
Oh, I remember, I remember, I remember, I remember.”

Above photo by Lee Bedrouni

23
Oct

Phoebe Bridgers Releases Stunning Debut Album “Strangers In The Alps”

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As 2017 broke, Phoebe Bridgers broke out her brilliantly-semaphoric song Smoke Signals, and our obsession with Bridgers’ music broke wide-open.  In July Bridgers bared her mesmerizing Motion Sickness, a well-wrought winner about a losing proposition.  And at long last her debut album Strangers In The Alps has been released to critical acclaim. And we can’t resist that bandwagon. On the new album, Bridgers has picked out heart-string melodies that are counter-balanced by vocal restraint. But Bridgers’ lyrics are the highlight of the show (see examples below), evincing incision amidst minimalist modulations. It’s a winning formula, coupled with subtle production values (thanks to 

Check out below recent videos for two of Bridgers’ songs below. And afterwards, check some examples of her fine poesy.

Inspirational Verses:

“I want to live at the Holiday Inn, where somebody else makes the bed,
We’ll watch TV while the lights on the street put all the stars to death,
It’s been on my mind since Bowie died, just checking out to hide from life,
And all of our problems, I’m gonna solve ’em, with you riding shot-gun, speeding, ’cause fuck the cops”

“Jesus Christ, I feel blue all the time/ And that’s just how I feel/ Always have, and I always will.”

“Walking Scott Street, feeling like a stranger
With an open heart, open container
I’ve got a stack of mail and a tall can
It’s a shower beer it’s a payment plan”

“But I can’t sleep next to a body
Even harmless in death
Plus I’m pretty sure I’d miss you
Faking sleep to count your breath”

“I hope you kiss my rotten head
And pull the plug
Know that I’ve burned every playlist
And given all my love”

19
Oct

See and Hear Why Julien Baker’s Upcoming Album “Turn Out The Lights” Is a Must

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In dishonor of Harvey Weinstein (the callous iceberg at the tip of the proverbial iceberg) and his predatory ilk, we’ll close out the week highlighting some phenomenally independent female artists. Yesterday was Miya Folick and her firestorm. Today, we feature Julien Baker.

We’ve been huge fans of Baker’s music ever since we first heard her great Sprained Ankle in the fall of 2015. Since then Baker has signed to Matador and will release her follow-up album, Turn Out The Lights, on October 27th. Baker has thus far released the revealingly raven Appointments song and powerful video (watch below) and she recently released the title-track to the new album via the song’s official video (watch the affecting video immediately below). When Baker turns out the lights at 2:30 and turns up her vocal siren, we hear a primal call of self-preservation, resolve and fortitude that a million Weinsteins can’t suppress. Clearly Baker has also turned up the production values with Matador. Brava Ms. Baker!

Afterwards, check out superb vignettes from Baker’s recent appearance on Chris Thile’s Prairie Home Companion. In addition to a stellar read of Appointments, Baker performed another affecting new song, Hurt Less, with Camille Faulkner on violin. And then gave a luminous reading, with Chris Thile on mandolin and harmony, of the uplifting hymn It Is Well With My Soul. It is well indeed. Go forth in that spirit.

Baker heads out on her world tour in support of the new album on October 20th, which will bring her to the West Coast and Cali in December. Get your tickets HERE.

You can pre-order Turn Out The Lights HERE.

18
Oct

Watch Miya Folick’s Ecstatic New Video for New Song “Give It To Me”

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We have been fans of Miya Folick’s music since we first heard her in November of 2015 following the release of her Strange Darling EP. She has continued to impress since and been signed by Interscope (Terrible Records). And today Folick has revealed the title track of her impending Give It To Me EP via an ecstatic video in which she gives a raving delivery from the front seat of a rollercoaster. Turns out our various relationships have both downs and ups.

Folick has written this about the song: “Some people see this as a last chance at love song and idgaf what you take from my music, but to me it’s more about insidious people who take and take and make false promises. And about feeling let down by the narrative you’ve been fed. It’s about recognizing your worth and demanding it.” Take that!

The song climbs slowly and then rushes headlong with Folick belting at the top of her lungs while seemingly having an out-of-body/out-of-seat experience. And back again. We love everything about it!  Check it out below.

You can pre-order Give It To Me HERE.

17
Oct

Watch Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon Perform Acoustic/Solo “8 (circle)” for Lone “Kidnapped” Woman On Take-Away Show

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We have been repeatedly enthralled by the Take Away Shows released by French site La Blogothèque. Watch below as Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon performs a convincing and affecting solo acoustic take of song 8 (circle) from last year’s superb Bon Iver album 22, A Million.

About the video, La Blogothèque writes:

“It was in Oct. 2016, in Berlin, during Michelberger Music. Between each show of the festival, we were kidnapping a person in the audience, which we were taking to a secret room where an artist was waiting. Based on an idea by Damien Rice, developed by Damien Rice and Chryde during Michelberger Music in Berlin, Oct. 2016.”

Check it out below, followed by the recorded version. This’ll be our first and last call for more kidnappings.

La Blogothèque also recently released a superb video of Bon Iver’s entire Cork Opera House concert, which you can watch at bottom. Awesomeness abounds within.

16
Oct

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 this time particularly cloaked 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”