October, 2011 Archives


Re-Posted, With Added Emphasis and Enhancement: The Decemberists and Gillian Welch on Austin City Limits

by Lefort in Music

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We posted on this Austin City Limits show previously, but having watched it again (and again) and being duly blown away (again), we realized we hadn’t done the broadcast justice so we are re-posting with further thoughts. We heartily encourage you to check the show out in its entirety. Seriously: stop fiddling with your apparat, your iLife or that other less-worthy distraction you’ve got going on (various forms of loving excepted, and it’s OK to read to the kids), and watch every nanosecond of this show. You won’t be disappointed.

In case you missed Austin City Limits two Saturdays ago, ACL is graciously streaming their show with The Decemberists and Gillian Welch (David Rawlings compris) [Ed.–ACL went less gracious after this posting and so below we give you only Rise to Me, one of the highlights of the set as discussed below, and a few others). As oft-mentioned here, we love dearly the music and personalities of Welch and Rawlings.  But we were surprised to be hypnotized by the incredibly compelling set of songs delivered by The Decemberists.

Colin Meloy (also a recent author of young adult literature–check out his book “Wildwood” and an accompanying suggested playlist HERE) and crew are superb songwriters and musicians, and their most recent album, “The King is Dead,” is amongst their best. And on Austin City Limits they deliver with unvarying verve, accompanied by the ubiquitous Sara Watkins (on fiddle, guitar and drums), Gillian (check her fervent vocal support on Down by the Water), and Rawlings (check out his brief, but electric, solo at 24:53 on All Arise!). Our favorite song of their set has to be Rise to Me starting at 12:55, immeasurably added to by the deft pedal steel playing of Chris Funk. And especially touching are the keyboards, accordion and drum talent and energy from the be-scarfed Jenny Conlee who, at showtime, was mid-chemotherapy treatment for cancer, but who is reportedly now in remission and on her way to recovery (our prayers Jenny).   We also love the group-drum attack on The Rake’s Song, but especially the bounteous beatings given by Sara Watkins. They played the following songs on their segment: Calamity Song, Down by the Water, Rox in the Box, Rise to Me, The Rake’s Song (off our least favorite album of theirs, The Hazards of Love) and All Arise!

Don’t get us wrong though, Welch and Rawlings deftly deliver the goods too per their usual. Check out crowd-favorite Look at Miss Ohio (including Rawlings’ house-down solo starting at 3:26), and Rawlings’ closed-eyes respect and concentration at 33:42 on Welch’s heartbreak-be-fixed Hard Times (we love these lines:  “They were supping on tears, they were supping on wine, we all get to heaven in our own sweet time”). Also worth checking are Welch’s body-slap and boot-tap antics on Six White Horses, the tenebrous Tennessee, and the closing of the loudly-lifting standard, I’ll Fly Away (with Rawlings killing throughout). They played the following songs: Look at Miss Ohio, Hard Times, Six White Horses, Tennessee and I’ll Fly Away.

Check it out in its entirety below (at minute 20, you can link over to the PBS/ACL site to watch the remainder).


More Feist(yness)–Live on Canadian Broadcasting’s 75th Anniversary Show and Studio Q

by Lefort in Music

Canadian Leslie Feist and entourage showed up at the CBC’s 75 Anniversary Show and performed Caught a Long Wind (caught, again, in the obviously trending black-and-white motif).  We like the  Mountain Man “kids'” accompaniment on lamellophones (“kalimbas” or “thumb pianos”).  Check out this great song influenced/scripted by Big Sur, at which Feist and crew recorded her marvelous new album, “Metals.” The following lines can alone almost place you in Big Sur:

Got to see the light
The light on top of the sea

The song’s lyrics follow the video.

“Little bird, have you got a key?
Unlock the lock inside of me
Where will you go? keep yourself afloat,
Fearing old, run till the wings
Caught me a long wind
Where will we go?
Keep ourselves afloat

Caught a long wind
A long life when
I got to know the sky
But it didn’t know me
Got to see the light
The light on top of the sea
Be the burn, be the key

And now the current tells
What the wave withheld
And the light inside
Where the light will lie
Where will you go?
Keep yourself afloat

Caught a long wind
A long life went
Like a swallow
A night owl
A little chickadee
Sad sparrow
Good morning bird
Ooh, good nightingale
I took a deep breath
And caught a long wind”

And then check out Feist’s live performance this month of her song, Graveyard (also from Metals), on CBC’s Studio Q program:



The Head and the Heart on Letterman Show

by Lefort in Music

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We’d have written earlier and more about the band, The Head and the Heart, but the blog-log has been doing its job for this band, and we’ve had other things to do. Still, they’re a talented set of folks claiming to cover both ends of the band’s appellation.  They played Lost in My Mind with heart and verve Friday night on the Letterman Show. Check it out below courtesy of Audio Perv.


Iron & Wine’s New Arrangement of “Flightless Bird, American Mouth”–The “Wedding Version”

by Lefort in Music

For those who don’t like Iron & Wine’s recent turn to a fuller, more-varied sound on “Kiss Each Other Clean” and on tour, check out the video below.  It’s not exactly Creek-Drank-the-Cradle-simple, but it’s slow and its sweet.

In a career-enhancing coup, Iron & Wine managed in 2008 to somehow wine and dine its way onto the soundtrack for the first Twilight film with their track Flightless Bird, American Mouth VH1 has now posted a video of the band’s new “Wedding Version” treatment of the song for some new Twilight film (Breaking Dawn: Part 1) soundtrack.  Done in black-and-white, with strings and an even more laconic pace, it’s ravishing and does not suck.  Check it out.


Look Around–You Just Might Get Taken Back and Aback

by Lefort in Music

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We were just floating around in the 0ts and 1s atmosphere when we encountered a videotrope that captured our attention and enhanced anew the great Bob Dylan and his ever-giving songography, but particularly his song, Mr. Tambourine Man.

Magic unfolds intermittently below starting at 1:21 and beyond.  Essentially every time the cart-gal kicks it up a bit (at 2:21, etc.).  Vive le cart femme!!

Check out Iceland’s Ólöf & Klara Arnalds performing Mr. Tambourine Man live from KEXP’s KEX Hostel in Reykjavik this year.


Joseph Arthur–A Protest Song

by Lefort in Music

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Joseph Arthur has been one of our favorites for a decade or more.  Comes now, he’s morphed into a protest singer (hey, someone had to try and write a Mission Statement for this committed and soon-to-be-committed commixture that calls itself Occupy Wall Street) .  Check out his new video for his song, We Stand As One (#occupywallstreet), below.  In good ole protest song tradition, it rambles on for a good 8:47.

Joseph has this to say about the song, et. al:

“Protest songs should be open and somewhat naive
They can’t help but reference Bob Dylan referencing Woody Guthrie
They usually speak in somewhat general terms
And to be effective at all, they say things that even those coming from a similar space, may not fully agree with.
They are easy targets for the venom of music critics (because of all the reasons above)
And yet still sometimes
They are necessary
So with that I am happy to present you

We Stand As One.

I hope you love it
Or hate it
Or love to hate it
Or let yourself
Hate to love it
but either way,
In some small way,
I hope that it helps.

– Joseph Arthur

Donate here:

For more on Joseph Arthur visit: http://www.josepharthur.com”


Wye Oak Covers The Kinks and Danzig on A.V. Club

by Lefort in Music

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We’ve mentioned the A.V. Club’s “Undercover” show before, and now from that treasure trove comes a double-barrel of covers from the great duo, Wye Oak, which we’ve referenced repeatedly.  First up from Jenn Wassner and Andy Stack is The Kink’s great song, Strangers, followed by Danzig’s song, Mother. As we’ve said before, Wassner can play serious guitar and co-conspirator Andy Stack nicely stacks on the rhythm attack and added elements.

The Kink’s Stranger (with Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg):

Wye Oak covers The Kinks

Danzig’s Mother (with Callers’ Don Godwin on horn):

Wye Oak covers Danzig


Tom Waits’ New Album,”Bad As Me,” Leaps Into Our Top Ten of 2011 List

by Lefort in Music

Tom Waits released his first studio album in seven years, “Bad as Me,” this past Monday.   The new album has been one of our most highly anticipated releases of the year (having written about it repeatedly), and those lofty expectations have been far exceeded.  We would expect nothing less from the national treasure that is Tom Waits.  The album is in many ways Waits’ (and his wife, Kathleen Brennan’s) State of the Union address, and it ain’t always a pretty picture (though the music and delivery decidedly are). Do yourselves a huge favor and go buy the new Waits album HERE.

After only a few listens, our pick of the song litter (the album is littered with gems) so far is Pay Me, which features both longtime-Waits-standby, Marc Ribot, and Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, on guitar (Keith Richards also plays/sings on four songs on the album).  Pay Me is a heartbreaker in the tradition of Waits’ best ballads–otherwise known as “Bawlers“–such as Soldier’s Things, Time, Tom Traubert’s Blues, and Innocent When You Dream, amongst a bevy of others. Check out the Pay Me lyrics and song below.

Pay Me:

“They pay me not to come home
Keeping me stoned
I won’t run away
They say it’s easy to get
Stuck in this town
Just like Joan
You know I gave it all up for the stage
They fill my cup up in the cage
It’s nobody’s business but mine when I’m low
To hold yourself up is not a crime here you know
At the end of the world

I kick my foot at the lights
I breathe it in all night
There’s a light on a canvas tree
Money from home supporting me
They pay me not to come
I won’t eat crow
I’ll stay away
And though all roads will not lead you home my girl
All roads lead to the end of the world
I sewed a little luck up in the hem of my gown
The only way down from the gallows is to swing
And I’ll wear boots instead of high heels
And the next stage that I am on it will have wheels”

Tom Waits–Pay Me

[audio:https://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/06-Pay-Me.mp3|titles=06 Pay Me]

And just so you know we’re not in this alone, check out the well done reviews/pieces on Bad as Me from The New Yorker, New York Times and LA Times.  You may have heard of those rags.


Phantogram Performs Three New Songs Live On Minnesota Public Radio–At Soho Next Thursday

by Lefort in Music

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Another dynamic duo hits Santa Barbara next week when the live-killing Phantogram play at Soho.  We caught them last year in LA when they opened for The Antlers on tour, and immediately began fantasizing about catching them headlining.  Turns out we didn’t have to wait too long, thanks to Club Mercy.

Phantogram recently performed three new songs (16 Years, Don’t Move, and Nightlife) off their impending EP, “Nightlife“, on The Current (Minnesota Public Radio).  Check those songs and the band being interviewed below.


The Real Country No. 13–Lydia Loveless “Jesus Was a Wino”

by Lefort in Music

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She’s a little bit punky; she’s a little bit country.  21-year old Lydia Loveless grew up in a musical family with a rock drummer-dad (he plays on her albums) and otherwise surrounded by country music in Ohio.  Like another young Ohian, Jessica Lea Mayfield (what is it with Ohio?), Lydia’s vocals remind you of Neko Case, but also of seminal female country singers such as Loretta Lynn.   Her songs are all over the map stylistically (fast, anthem, ballad, humorous ode, you name it).  And Loveless ladles on loads of lyrical lines that stick to your cerebellum and heart (Salty lyric alert:  she is not afraid to hide anything and tosses off some vulgar vernacular and ribald phrases–Amen!).

To start getting Lovelessed, go over to MTVHive and check out her song, Jesus Was a Wino, off her brand new album, “Indestructible Machine.”  And then below, check out an in-store performance of that same song, which, amongst other things, recognizes the Son of Man’s empathy for the earth’s downtrodden.  At MTV Hive Loveless said this about the song: “I’ve always seen wine as a really biblical thing.  Growing up and drinking it in church for communion, and when I got older, meeting a lot of Christians who think it’s sinful to drink. It’s poking fun at people – it’s not anti-Jesus.”

As mentioned above, Loveless just released a great new album entitled “Indestructible Machine” on Bloodshot Records.  Saunter on over and buy the album HERE. She’s also on tour and coming to the following Cali venues next week:

Nov. 1st–San Diego at the Soda Bar
Nov. 2nd–Los Angeles at the Bootleg Bar
Nov. 3rd–Santa Cruz at the Crepe Place
Nov. 4th–San Francisco at the Hotel Utah
Nov. 5th–Sacramento at Harlows

You can get tickets for those shows HERE.  In the interim, check out her rocking go-girl anthem, Can’t Change Me, off the new album below:

Lydia Loveless–Can’t Change Me

[audio:https://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/lydia-loveless_cant-change-me.mp3|titles=lydia loveless_can’t change me]

And then check out her brand new Daytrotter (newly subscription-based–we’re in!) session HERE.  From that session you can check out Back on the Bottle below.

Lydia Loveless–Back on the Bottle

[audio:https://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/004-Back-on-the-Bottle.mp3|titles=004-Back on the Bottle]

As Daytrotter writes (with their usual, penetrating aplomb):  “She sings about the affairs of man and woman in the way that they really are – often very unromantic. She gives us some of these farewells and some of the spicy interludes the way we never get to see them unless they’re happening to us for real. They are blunt and the cut to the chase. They are stories that male songwriters would pretty up, but Loveless would be the first to admit that she’d never pussy out like that. She hits us with it all and it leaves that sweet sting, all while still settling in like something that used to be written and played all the time in old Nashville.”

Together with Jessica Lea Mayfield, there is added hope for Real Country music.