February, 2016 Archives


Will This Be The Year of the Protest Song? Listen to Kevin Morby’s “I Have Been To The Mountain”

by Lefort in Music

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Though the music-scene has begun surprisingly slowly this year, a couple of great protest songs have already seen the light of day.  Clearly, the senseless deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and too many others, followed by the predictable systemic injustice, have struck a chord with many musicians (not to mention authors, poets, artists).  While some great protest songs were quickly released last year, the creative process has taken longer for others and is just now bearing song-fruit.  One such song is Drive-By Truckers’ great new song What It Means?  Now we’ve got another great in the form of I Have Been To The Mountain from solo artist Kevin Morby (Woods, The Babies).  Alluding to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s similarly-titled speech, Morby has made no bones in the song, saying: “I Have Been To The Mountain is dedicated to and inspired by the death of Eric Garner.” Hiding nothing, Morby laments Garner as a man that “lived in this town/ ’til that pig took him down.”  Like many who watched the Garner video, Morby is ghosted by Garner’s dying pleas.  The song’s music brings to mind The Clash’s Guns of Brixton (“when they kick at your front door, how you gonna come?”), as appropriately augmented by driving horns and gospel singers, though closing with a quieter, mournful coda. Listen to it below.

It’s a great song that Morby will release on his next album, Singing Saw, on Dead Oceans on April 15th.
You can pre-order Singing Saw now:

Support your local independent record store: http://smarturl.it/kevinmorby_indie

Morby is also set to tour as follows:

Thu. Feb. 25 – Rennes, FR @ La Route du Rock Winter Festival
Wed. Mar 16 – Fri. Mar. 18 – Austin, TX @ SXSW
Thu. May 5 – London, UK @ Oslo Hackney
Fri. May 6 – Paris, FR @ La Maroquinerie
Sat. May 7 – Brussels, BE @ Atelier 210
Sun. May 8 – Amsterdam, NL @ Bitterzoet
Mon. May 9 – Berlin, DE @ Lido
Tue. May 10 – Copenhagen, DK @ Copenhagen Jazzhouse
Wed. May 11 – Gothenburg, SE @ Pustervik
Thu. May 12 – Lund, SE @ @ Mejeriet
Fri. May 13 – Aarhus, DK @ Radar
Sat. May 14 – Hamburg, DE @ Molotow
Thu. June 2 – Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room *
Fri. June 3 – Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater *
Sat. June 4 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Crepe Place *
Mon. June 6 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios *
Tue. June 7 – Vancouver, BC @ Media Club *
Wed. June 8 – Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern *
Fri. June 10 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kliby Court *
Sat. June 11 – Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge *
Sun. June 12 – Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room *
Tue. June 14 0 Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St. Entry *
Wed. June 15 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas *
Thu. June 16 – Grand Rapids , MI @ Pyramid Scheme *
Fri. June 17 – Toronto, ON @ The Great Hall *
Sun. June 19 – Allston, MA @ Great Scott *
Mon. June 20 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle *
Wed. June 22 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade NYC *
Thu. June 23 – Washington, DC @ Rock and Roll Hotel *
Fri. June 24 – Durham, NC @ The Pinhook *
Sat. June 25 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl *
Sun. June 26 – Nashville, TN @ 3rd & Lindsley
Tue. June 28 – Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
Wed. June 29 – Austin, TX @ The Sidewinder
Sat. July 2 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah
Thu. Aug 4 – Sun. Aug. 8 – Happy Valley, OR @ Pickathon

* w/ Jaye Bartell



Watch Sufjan Stevens and Band Perform Title Track from No. 3 Best Album of 2015 “Carrie & Lowell”

by Lefort in Music

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We spilled pixel after pixel in 2015 singing the praises of Sufjan Stevens’ masterful, heartbreaking album Carrie & Lowell, which ultimately was our No. 3 Best Album of 2015 (behind Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and EL VY’s Return to the Moon–no where is that list, it’s around here somewhere?).  In the meantime we’ve been waiting anxiously for 2016’s musical Niagara Falls to start spilling, to no avail (whither Radiohead, Feist, etc.?).  We surmise everyone’s busy getting ready for the Grammys to pass (ahem) this weekend.

So we were thrilled yesterday when Stevens gave us a musical reason to live by releasing the well-captured video below of his band (Ben Lanz, Casey Foubert, Dawn Landes, and James McAlister) performing the album’s sterling title track in Charleston last November. The video evokes fond memories of Stevens’ 2015 tour and the perfectly embellished/enhanced arrangements and performances of Carrie & Lowell’s songs (not to mention super reads of some older songs).  Check it out below.

Speaking of tours, Stevens will continue his Carrie & Lowell caravan in Australia/New Zealand beginning on Feb. 22nd (see list below the video) before returning to perform at Coachella, among other festivals (tickets can be found HERE).

Monday 22 February – State Theatre, Sydney
Friday 26 February – Hamer Hall, Melbourne (sold out)
Saturday 27 February – Hamer Hall, Melbourne
Sunday 28 February – Hamer Hall, Melbourne (just added)
Monday 29 February – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Wednesday 2 March – Red Hill Auditorium, Perth
Friday 4 March – Qpac Concert Hall, Brisbane
Sunday 6 March – New Zealand Festival, Wellington
Tuesday 8 March – The Civic, Auckland


Check Out Amanda Palmer & Jherek Bischoff’s EP Homage to David Bowie

by Lefort in Music

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The controversial, but uncontroversally-talented Amanda Palmer has collaborated with Jherek Bischoff to release a heartfelt, string-laden EP homage to the late, great(est) David Bowie.  The EP, entitled Strung Out In Heaven: A Bowie String Quartet Tribute, consists of six covers Bowie’s songs and features contributions from Anna Calvi, John Cameron Mitchell, and author Neil Gaiman (Palmer’s husband), among others.  It was released today via Bandcamp for $1 and you can check it out and buy it (proceeds to good causes) at bottom.  Our favorite Bowie song and cover from the EP is Ashes to Ashes, which you can listen to immediately below followed by Palmer’s explique for the EP.

About the EP and recording, Palmer writes:

“We found out he’d died – by text from Neil’s daughter – at 3 a.m. in Santa Fe.  We were visiting family, to introduce them to the newborn lying in bed beside us. A tiny fleshy reminder that Bowie, like our other friends, mentors  and heroes who’ve been consumed by cancer in the past few months, was just…passing through. The baby is Ash. Dust to dust. Funk to Funky. I was talking on the phone to Jherek the next day talking about our arrangement for “machete”, the song we’d just tracked in LA. Bowie meant so much to both of us, growing up. and i knew that if we didn’t do this NOW, we’d say it was a good idea and then find a million reasons not to get around to it. We gave ourselves a deadline of two weeks. We made it. Jherek put the petal to the metal, arranged a song a day, recorded his A-list string quartet in L.A. in 3.5 hours, then I spent two straight days in the studio doing vocals. It was the longest time yet i’d been away from the baby. My mom took care of him one day, a babysitter the next, and Neil took the night shifts. I’m back at work. It feels right. We’re really, really, really proud of what we made, even though we cranked it out in a short time. Music is the binding agent of our mundane lives. It cements the moments in which we wash the dishes, type the resumes, go to the funerals, have the babies. The stronger the agent, the tougher the memory, and Bowie was NASA-grade epoxy to a sprawling span of freaked-out kids over three generations. He bonded us to our weird selves. We can be us. He said. Just for one day. It didn’t hit me until a week later, in the studio, why this was such a fitting project. We were immersing ourselves in Bowieland, living in the songs, super-glueing up some fresh wounds. Not just “knowing” the songs, but feeling the physical chords under our sad fingers, excavating the deeper architecture of the songwriting (especially with a tune as bizarre as “Blackstar” (which we realized was constructed like a sonic Russian nesting doll). Bowie worked on music up to the end to give us a parting gift. So this is how we, as musicians, mourn: keeping Bowie constantly in our ears and brains. The man, the artist, exits. But the music, the glue; it stays. It never stops binding us together.

Goodbye, Starman.
We love you.”


Coming Soon: New PJ Harvey Album “The Hope Six Demolition Project”–Watch Official Video for New Song “The Wheel”

by Lefort in Music

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PJ 1

At long last PJ Harvey has announced the Spring release of her next album, The Hope Six Demolition Project.   The new album is her first release since the tremulous Let England Shake, which was our No. 7 Best Album of 2011 (amidst very tough competition that year). The Hope Six Demolition Project will be released on April 15th and was apparently inspired by Harvey and Murphy’s visits to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington D.C.

Harvey has now released the first video from the album for the song The Wheel.  Harvey again has partnered on the video with Seamus Murphy (a photographer and videographer who made the impressive 12 Short Films for Let England Shake who has covered turmoil in Afghanistan and Kosovo).

About The Wheel and the video, Murphy says: “The song ‘The Wheel’ has the journey to Kosovo at its center [Harvey and Murphy traveled there together in 2011].  Who is to say what else has influenced and informed its creation? The sight of a revolving fairground wheel in Fushe Kosove/Kosovo Polje near the capital Pristina is the concrete reference point for the title.  It was a passing observation of a commonplace image, one of many that day. … Was that sight alone the inspiration for the song? Without being told the stories of people who had suffered during the war, without visiting villages abandoned through ethnic cleansing and cycles of vengeance, without experiencing the different perceptions of people with shared histories, could the song have been written?  The idea of cycles, wheels and repetition once again being all too apparent and necessary to make.”

The affecting video combines scenes from Harvey’s/Murphy’s trip in 2011, Harvey’s album preparation in London and another trip to Kosovo in 2015, when the refugee crisis was making headlines.  As usual with Harvey, we love everything about the new song, which bodes incredibly well for The Hope Six Demolition Project.


Watch John Moreland Make His TV Debut on Colbert–Coming to San Luis Obispo on 2/25

by Lefort in Music

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Photo: Joey Kneiser

Much-revered Americana singer-songwriter John Moreland appeared on Colbert’s Late Show last night and performed an older song entitled Break My Heart Sweetly.  Moreland’s second  album, High on Tulsa Heat, appeared on many Best Albums of 2015 lists.  Moreland is also known for his gripping live performances and, judging by the performance below, we couldn’t agree more.  Moreland will soon head out on tour (you can check out his tour dates HERE) and will play both San Luis Obispo (tickets HERE) and the Troubadour in LA at the end of this month, followed by appearances at SXSW and Bonnaroo.