June, 2013 Archives


Watch The National Having Fun with Fans in France

by Lefort in Music

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While The National’s Matt Berninger has always had a special relationship with the band’s devout audience, Berninger and the band appear to have taken their bonhomie to a whole ‘nother level.  Watch below as the band performs set-closer sing-a-long Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks acoustic at Le Point Ephémère in Paris this week.  Berninger appears to sing the modern nursery rhyme to a fan’s daughters and then allow the dad to climb on stage to sing along.  Enchanté.

After, to bookend it, watch set-opener I Should Live In Salt.


Check Out Bibio and the Official Video for “À tout à l’heure”

by Lefort in Music

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A little bird has been singing in our ears about the British artist Bibio (Stephen Wilkinson) and his melodic electro-magic. To understand why, check out below the official video for the tres-catchy song À tout à l’heure.  The video, directed by Bibio in collaboration with Russell Weekes, consists of 8mm film footage shot by Bibio except for ‘fisheye swings’ by Barry Newman. ‘People with horses’ and ‘fireworks’ by Tom WarrenÀ tout à l’heure is a addicting gem from Bibio’s most recent album, Silver Wilkinson on Warp RecordsAfter, watch some live Bibio performances.


Watch The Avett Brothers–Coming to Santa Barbara Bowl 10/10–Tickets on Sale Tomorrow

by Lefort in Music

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One of the best live Americana bands extant, The Avett Brothers, are coming to the Santa Barbara Bowl on October 10th. To get a feel for the band, check out a brand new vignette from The Current of the band performing their song Paul Newman vs The Demons off their most recent album The Carpenter. As you can hear at the end, there will be passion.  Tickets for the Santa Barbara Bowl show go on sale tomorrow at noon, and you can get them HERE.


Recommended: New Back-Up Singers Documentary “Twenty Feet From Stardom”

by Lefort in Music

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We’d been reading rave reviews about the new documentary exploring music’s great back-up singers entitled Twenty Feet From Stardom, and then things started to get really interesting.

First we heard through the grapevine that Fresh Air’s Terry Gross had done a fascinating piece on the new film.  In the interview (which you can listen to/download HERE) Gross interviews the film’s director (Morgan Neville) and one of the featured back-up singers (the supremely talented Merry Clayton), Gross spoke with Clayton and discussed her historic backup-vocal on the Rolling Stones’ haunting hit Gimme Shelter.  In that interview Clayton tells how her participation on Gimme Shelter came to be, and then Gross played a 31-second clip featuring only Clayton’s isolated, impassioned vocal on the song.  And chills went down our spines.  Only then did we understand the lyrics of the song that we had misinterpreted all these years.

Clayton told Fresh Air the following about the Gimme Shelter session:

“The guys come out and stand next to me and say, ‘It’s just a shot away,’ as I’m saying, ‘Rape, murder.’ I mean it was a sight to behold, and we got through it, and then they went in the booth to listen, and I saw them hooting and hollering while I was singing, but I didn’t know what they were hooting and hollering about. And when I got back in the booth and listened, I said, ‘Ooo, that’s really nice.’

“And they said, ‘You want to do another?’ and I said, ‘Well, I’ll do one more and then I’m going to have to say thank you and good night.’ I did one more, and then I did one more … and then I was gone. Next thing I know, that — that’s history.”

We recommend you listen to the full Fresh Air interview, but if you don’t have time, at least check out the vocal track below.

In addition to the Fresh Air interview, we stumbled upon last weekend CBS’s show Sunday Morning in which they interviewed, amongst others, Clayton and Judith Hill (back-up singer for Michael Jackson and recent stalwart performer on NBC’s The Voice).  And we were further enthralled. You can see/read more of the Sunday Morning vignette HERE.

We can’t wait to see the film, which opens tonight around the country, and even on the Central Coast. Check out the film’s official trailer below for a better feel.  And then get out and see this film about the unsung heroines/heroes of rock n’ roll, soul and pop history.


Glastonbury–It’s On! Watch Local Natives and Alt-J Perform and Stream the Festival on BBC

by Lefort in Music

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Glastonbury (sigh).  Glasto is on, and the vignettes are starting to trickle in from Worthy Farm.  As usual, the bands performing there will bring their A+ game to the Festival.  First to catch our attention (in a positive way) are Local Natives performing a anthemic Heavy Air (from their superb new album Hummingbird) and Alt-J playing their fan-fave Breezeblocks (from their debut album).  You can go HERE to see the BBC’s other videos and live streaming from Glastonbury.  Oh to be there with the multitudes!  Someday our ship will sail….


Watch Noah And The Whale’s Tiny Desk Concert on NPR–Playing Glastonbury Tomorrow

by Lefort in Music

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We have been fans of Noah And The Whale from their inception (regardless of Laura Marling’s involvement or lack thereof). Their album The First Days of Spring album remains one of our all-time favorites, and Charlie Fink and the boys have written some of the most honest, affecting songs for the ages.  Check out below the simple beauty of well-crafted songs, dual vocals (led by leader Charlie Fink), guitar and violin.  The band plays Glastonbury tomorrow with, we assume, a beefed up band and sound.  Curious that none of the songs played on the Tiny Desk Concert are from just-released album Heart of Nowhere.

Set List:

L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. (off of 2011’s fine Last Night on Earth)
Blue Skies (off of The First Days of Spring)
Waiting For My Chance To Come  (off  of Last Night on Earth)


Listen to New Richard Buckner Song “When You Tell Me How It Is”

by Lefort in Music

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As we’ve written before, Richard Buckner has written some of the best songs ever penned in the singer-songwriter canon.  He’s a crafty lyricist who can split you open and patch you up in one fell swoop.  In September Buckner will release new album Surrounded on Merge RecordsBuckner has released the first song from the album entitled When You Tell Me How It Is, which you can listen to below.  The new album is produced by Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, R.E.M., Neko Case), and on the new song one hears a different approach and a broader spectrum of sounds (“Surrounded-Sound“?).

Buckner’s report on the proceedings is, as usual, insightful and hilarious:  “Throwing out the ‘tricks and trades’ of previous efforts, [I] hunkered down at home and chose a few unfamiliar pieces of gear—a Suzuki QChord electronic autoharp and an Electro-Harmonix POG2 pedal—to create basic tracks and open up more sonic possibilities. ‘The best outcomes happen sometimes when I’m unfamiliar with the tool that I’m using (imagine MacGyver wearing a dog cone).'”

The song begins with twisted-electro-carnival sounds that reveal a ventricle rhythm that segues into Buckner’s distinctive vocals and beguiling lyrics.  The song bodes very well for the rest of Surrounded.  You can pre-order the album HERE.


Watch Mavis Staples on Conan and Stream New Album “One True Vine”

by Lefort in Music

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Mavis Staples showed up last night on Conan and, in a bit of a style-shift for her, performed the rocker I Like The Things About Me from her new Jeff Tweedy-produced new album One True Vine.   Check out the fuzz-laden rocker below, and then stream the new album courtesy of Anti Records.


Review of Iron & Wine’s Church Show in LA 6/23–Watch on Last Night’s Jimmy Kimmel

by Lefort in Music

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The great Sam Beam brought his Iron & Wine in all it’s transformed, 13-member glory to Los Angeles to play an intimate show on Sunday at the First Unitarian Church in MacArthur Park and to perform last night on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, all in support of the band’s superb new album, Ghost On Ghost.  Suffice it to say that this incarnation of Iron & Wine is the best yet, and they gave one of the most soulful, rocking concerts we’ve seen in recent memory.  Iron & Wine has dramatically evolved from Beam’s solo guitar origins into a species of a whole different order.  While there are plenty who lament the more intimate side of Beam’s confessional songs, at the Church Show there were hallelujahs all around.

As an intro to our review of the “Church Show” on Sunday, check out last night’s well-captured performances.  Just like they did at the Church Show, Iron & Wine opened on Kimmel with Desert Babbler. The song’s lyrics are obviously apt: “California’s gonna kill you soon…Black houses in the hills and roadside hearts.” Listen to the performance below as Beam sings and exhorts like a Sunday choir leader.  Next up was the graceful call-and-response of Grace For Saints and Sinners.   Both songs’ worthwhile lyrics are at bottom.

The First Unitarian Church was an ideal place to see Iron & Wine in all its manifold glory.  Though the sound took some continuous dialing, the intimate venue was perfect for this band.  The large band consisted of Beam and four threes (three backup singers, string trio, three strutting, scatting horn players, and a rhythm section consisting of bass, drums and keys).  And great joy was had by Beam and the beaming crowd.  The singers and horn players danced most of the night when they weren’t getting serious, and Beam paid tribute to his father by explaining how his dad contributed mightily to the Motown-Stax sounds emanating from the stage.  It’s obviously no coincidence that most of the songs from the new album also reflect the band’s large look and feel, with its big band sound and bountiful production.

Beam and the band opened swinging hard with a superb collection of songs from the new and last albums (including Tree By The River from Kiss Each Other Clean), along with a rapturous rendition of The Postal Service’s Such Great Heights.  Beam was his usual humorous, endearing self throughout, and introduced Monkeys Uptown by stating that God and he had come to an agreement to let him play the song, which contains several f-bombs.   After the full Motown revival opening set, however, Beam smartly had the band take a break and went back in time on solo guitar to gave the more nostalgic crowd members a marvelous five-song “Iron & Wine Medley” (as he dubbed it) featuring Lion’s Mane, Woman King, Jesus the Mexican Boy, the much-loved cover of New Order’s Love Vigilantes, and, best of all, Sodom, South Georgia.  The latter brought goosebumps aplenty.

But these would not be the only older songs Iron & Wine would play.  Beam also employed new arrangements of several of the older Iron & Wine favorites, including rearranged versions of Passing Afternoon (accompanied only by the three horns), Jezebel, Caught in the Briars, and Upward Over the Mountain (accompanied just by the string trio).  The band closed with an absolutely rousing version of a song that, in all honesty, we had not given its proper due–the epic Your Fake Name is Good Enough For Me (from 2011’s Kissing Each Other Clean).  If you, like us, have not focused on this song, now’s the time and particularly live.  It is one for the ages.  At the song’s finish, the crowd was on its feet (for the first time) in appreciation.

After that perfect set-closer, Beam would come out for only one more song, a song many in the crowd (guilty) had loudly requested during his solo medley–The Trapeze Swinger.  This epic song has become one of Iron & Wine’s most beloved songs despite not appearing on any of the studio albums (featured in the film In Good Company and as a part of the fantastic compilation of unreleased tracks entitled All Around the Well).  Beam complained a bit about playing the song, saying that he had taken a break from performing the song after “performing it every night for seven years.”  A quick review of the band’s setlists this year confirmed that Beam had only played the song one time this year until last night, making the Church Show a particularly memorable show.  Employing some of the best wordplay and imagery ever put to song, the song never fails to enthrall us.  And this night it put an end to any early-departers’ ideas of leaving.  You can watch the song below as performed at the Church Show.

It was a perfect way to end a perfect night of live music and song from Iron & Wine.  Do whatever you have to do to catch this band live.  Their remaining tour dates can be found HERE, including a Halloween show at the Orpheum in LA, and at the Fox Theater in Oakland on November 1st.

Listen below to The Trapeze Swinger closer.

Desert Babbler:

It’s New Year’s Eve
And California’s gonna kill you soon
The Barstow boys
Buckeyes in the shadow of the moon

Black houses in the hills and roadside hearts
Dying for a place to fall apart
Who knew what you could learn to live without
Mother Mary’s lying in your mouth

Back home the kitchen’s warm with Christmas wine
And every girl has got an axe to grind
You left to look for heaven
But you’re far from that hard light tonight

So quietly we’ve lost another year
The desert put a babbler in your ear
Mean fireweed and I miss you again
Barstow boys are spit into the wind

Back home the hammer always has to fall
Crosses barely hanging on the wall
Someday I know you’ll never leave me
But we’re far from that hard light tonight

Grace for Saints and Sinners:

But it all came down to you and I
But it all came down to you and I

There were banged up heads stealing first base
Underneath the tables so we never said grace
Falling out of bed for the workday week
There was kissing in the cracks of the flashflood street
There were budding blossoms blaring Johnny Rotten
Chewed up and swallowed by the prophet they were trying to follow
Picked too green, and we paid no tax on our quick romantic cul-de-sac

But it all came down to you and I
But it all came down to you and I

There were crashed out cars in our bar code clothes
There was rubbing on each other, rubbing ghost on ghost
There were junked up punks and the Jesus freaks
Weaving in and out of trouble, wrapping ’round and ’round a leash
There were sleepless dreamers, doomsday preachers
The message and the messenger, the gun beneath the register
The sweet gum tree by the though drunk tank
We could never give enough to the bad blood bank
There were hopeless sinners, sweepstake winners
They danced with the farmer’s daughter, capered with the corporate lawyers

But it all came down to you and I
But it all came down to you and I
But it all came down to you and I
But it all came down to you and I

There was laughing in the light sugar in the shade
There were backstab handshakes made on faith
We were never out of time and we’d never entertain
Anybody say the habit of the wind was going to change
There were misled misfits, teething biscuits
Fountains full of penny wishes, potties full of pretty fishes
Side by side with the birds and bees
And we never said grace and never ever took a knee
With the saints and ramblers, movie star handlers
High above the aviary, underneath the cemetery
And we never wondered why, because the sun was in our eyes
There was seed for the field, there was grease for the wheel
We were drinking with the luminaries, eaten with the missionaries

But it all came down to you and I
But it all came down to you and I
But it all came down to you and I
But it all came down to you and I


Watch Josh Rouse On KCRW

by Lefort in Music

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Josh Rouse showed up this morning on KCRW to perform for Morning Becomes Eclectic.  Rouse’s hat-trick of mid-2000s albums, Under The Cold Blue Stars, 1972 and Nashville, remain amongst our all-time favorites.  And now Rouse has a brand new album out entitled The Happiness Waltz, and which you can stream at his site HERE.  Watch below as Rouse performs Simple Pleasure off the new album for KCRW, and go HERE to listen to the entire session.