Sunday, September 28, 2008

There and Back Again

Ben and I finally made it to see Mount Eerie last night. It was quite the evening.

We caught at 5:20 pm Amtrak to Boston from Providence. Then we went to Cambridge, where Dave introduced us to the ghost of Henry David Thoreau. Then we went with Dave and Justin to a Chinese place with super-good/greasy kung pao chicken.

Next, it was to Mount Eerie. Dave, Ben and I found our way to the Massachusetts School of Art and Design via the Green Line, and found our way to the Pozen Center with the help of a few signs. The Pozen Center was essentially a ballroom. The stage was not used, and the floor-level set up forced everyone else to sit down on the ground. It was not crowded, so there was no issue.

Speaking of which, everyone was super-duper quiet. It was the most respectful audience I've ever been a part of. Oh, no, wait, Sigur Rós concert. Nevermind.

Calm Down, It's Sunday -- Fred Squire singing, guitar and Julie Doiron, drums -- and Julie Doiron -- Julie Doiron singing, guitar and Fred Squire, drums -- opened for Phil Elverum aka Mount Eerie aka The Microphones. Fred Squire was alright, albeit a bit high. Julie Doiron had a very pretty voice and overall kicked ass.

But Mount Eerie took the cake. Phil (as he introduced himself) is a nice guy. I bought a CD from him directly, which was cool.

He, Doiron, and Squire played through their new release, Lost Wisdom. It was stunning. The sound is very primitive and mature. There is something about how Elverum plucks a guitar that is special. Part of it might be the way his acoustic was amplified; rather than opt for a pick-up, he mic-ed it. You could really hear his fingers stroke the strings.

Julie Doiron's voice mixed beautifully with Elverum's, and Squire's reserved electric guitar did much to intensify the music and deepen the sound.

Cathartic. It was very cathartic to be in that room. Elverum's lyrics were beautiful, and his new songs possess a maturity that can't be found as much in his Microphones releases. Mount Eerie is something new.

Thanks to Rachel Gaudette for boarding Ben and me for the night at the last minute! You are best.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mount Eerie/Julie Doiron

Phil Elverum, aka Mount Eerie, formerly known as The Microphones, came to Providence with Julie Doiron on Monday night.

I had a paper to write and couldn't go. Damn.

But there is still hope! He is performing at Mass Art on Saturday night at 7:30! Woo hoo! Tickets are only 10 bucks, too!

Mount Eerie/The Microphones are really weird. Their music is stirring, percussive, and primitive. It is unlike any other. It is violent. It is sweet. It is thought-provoking and philosophical. And to use a vague, unhelpful word, it is plain interesting.

Julie Doiron is beautiful.

I'll see you on Saturday.

Julie Doiron - Tell You Again (Loneliest in the Morning, 1997)

BUY No Flashlight

BUY Woke Myself Up

Monday, September 22, 2008

Citizen Hurricane

New Japanese Technology's new album, Strobe Lights and Hurricanes, is a significant improvement from June's California Blue LP.

It begins with a delicate, 7-minute acoustic guitar ballad, "Pianos Filled with Flames," which smartly alludes to Neutral Milk Hotel's "Holland, 1945".

It then gives way to my favorite track on the album, "Citizen Hurricane". "Citizen Hurricane" takes off at a high clip and stays there. It's the type of song that Elliott Smith would have put out if he had been alive to collaborate with the Flaming Lips in 2004. So, basically, it's effing awesome.


New Japanese Technology - Citizen Hurricane (Strobe Lights and Hurricanes, 2008)

Head to Purevolume to download most of Strobe Lights and Hurricanes for FREE

Friday, September 19, 2008


This makes me happy. (Click image to enlarge)

I had my first chem lab today, and it sure was lonely with out Mr. Crisanti (and Dave Sawicki, of course).

A strangely fitting song ("come on, chemicals!"):

PRE-ORDER Skeletal Lamping (due October 7th)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Lots of "Heartbeats"

I had no idea that I had so many versions of the song "Heartbeats," originally performed/written by The Knife. Since it was released on Deep Cuts in 2002, it has been made a smash hit in the UK by Swede José González (#1 ringtone download!) and remade through a huge number of remixes. Here is a small sampling. (I would like to especially draw your attention to the Scala & Kolacny Brothers version, which is done by a female choir. It is as beautiful as the Sirens.) So get your beeswax ready:


Monday, September 15, 2008

7 Years

Well, it's been slightly more than that since 9/11/01. It is hard to believe. It does not seem like I was in sixth grade when the WTC fell and the Pentagon was hit and all of those other horrible traumatic things happened.

But we are seven years out, and it is interesting to look back and observe to what extent the ideas, images, and language of "9/11" have been incorporated into American culture.

Just last Thursday, I went to the Avon Cinema on Thayer St. to see Man on Wire, a documentary film about a French tight-rope walker who crossed between the Twin Towers in 1974. It was in many ways a comedy, and we chuckled and smiled in our old, red theater seats. But when the image of those towers flashed on the screen -- their construction, their monolithic presence, the view from the top -- a hush fell over the audience, and we were connected by the like-minded stress of the past. This memory is one that all American adults share.

In 2006, I had the honor of performing "Immigrants Still," a choral piece that connects to and comments on this memory, with the Connecticut All-State Chorus (under the director of Peter Bagley) and in the presence of its composer, Kenneth Fuchs. The piece is a setting of a poem by Richard Wilbur, poet laureate of the United States. It begins with soft vocal bells that chime to the word, "still," and ends with the same cadence. In between, the music describes the immigrants' journey through the centuries, the Statue of Liberty, and American solidarity. Look for onomatopoeia throughout, especially in the water section. It's really cool.

CT All-State Chorus, 2006 - Immigrants Still


Also of interest:
Here is what Jon Stewart had to say on his first show following the attacks:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Barack's Got It Covered

Democrats are really worrying. They think Obama has lost the race. They are thinking catastrophe.

Peggy Noonan corrects them:

This race is not over. Everyone I know thinks it is, but I don't buy it.
Mr. Obama just suffered a catastrophe, his first. Mr. McCain just enjoyed a
triumph, maybe not his last. GOP strategists are experiencing premature
triumphalism; they're puffing up like blowfish, emitting great bubbles of
self-regard. Democrats, be encouraged by this! They make mistakes when
they're winning. They always start to think they're the
reason. Democratic strategists have their heads in their hands, knowing
they took a bad hit but not understanding exactly how, or why. Republicans,
be inspired by this! They can't come up with the right cure if they can't
diagnose the illness. Here's why it's not over: We are a more or less 50/50 nation experiencing 80% wrong-track numbers, alarming economic challenges and two continuing wars. New voters are about to flood to the polls. There are more than 50 days to go. The media environment is volatile. The Obama campaign has some experience in turning inevitable candidacies into evitable ones. Sen. Obama himself is talented, resourceful and compelling.More important, obviously, the race shouldn't be over. The nation deserves—and requires—a real debate, a real and spirited
presenting of fact and argument. It won't get that if the election is over. The
candidates must argue this thing out or it means nothing. And the day after
the election, for the winner in this tempestuous nation, it better mean
something, or he won't be able to govern.

Yay, Peggy Noonan! Voice of reason. If you didn't feel like reading that, here's basically what it means:

Ah. That feels good.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Dawn of Grace

Sixpence None the Richer is a one-hit wonder. That's why I am so psyched for their October 14th release, The Dawn of Grace. It is a collection of Christmas carols, and Christmas carols are put out almost exclusively by one-hit wonders. For instance, guess who set the English text of "Angels We Have Heard on High?" Why, Edward Shippen Barnes, of course! Ever heard of him? I didn't think so.

This is perfect, since Sixpence None the Richer just posted their rendition of "Angels We Have Heard on High" on their MySpace page for download. And it is pretty good.

It's never too early to get in the Christmas spirit! Ho ho ho.

Sixpence None the Richer - Angels We Have Heard on High (Edward Shippen Barnes cover) (The Dawn of Grace, 2008)

PRE-ORDER The Dawn of Grace

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I've pictured you in coffins

Clinic is a hard band to love. A lot of their music sounds the same. They have a few gems here and there, but since purchasing their 2002 LP, Walking with Thee, I have found that their music is not adaptable to many moods. In other words, if it's a hot day and you want to feel as cold as ice, or if you want to avenge the assassination of your husband-to-be, Clinic is the band for you.

But "Distortions," off of 2000's Internal Wrangler, comes out of nowhere. It is one of the few tracks that does the oft-made Clinic/Radiohead comparison any justice. Ade Blackburn's voice approaches Thom Yorke's in emotiveness and expresses a similar cringing pain. Strangely enough, the instrumentals could come straight from a Postal Service song. This is a pretty decent crying song:

Clinic - Distortions (Internal Wrangler, 2000)

Clinic - Harvest (Within You) (Visitations, 2006)

P.S. Thanks to Hipster Doucheblog for linking to Pablo Bunny! You guys are just so generous!

BUY Visitations

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Paper Planes!

No, not THAT "Paper Planes!"

The new I'm From Barcelona single from their forthcoming Who Killed Harry Houdini? is entitled "Paper Planes" and is NOT an M.I.A. cover, however cool that would be.

"Paper Planes" has whet my appetite for this new album, which is due for release on October 14th. It is generally more restrained than equally catchy songs on 2006's Let Me Introduce My Friends. It's energy is still there, but the tone is a little more jaded -- a little less tirelessly optimistic -- than their super-mega-poppy debut. This less happy mood is hinted at by the dark and inquisitive album title.

I am excited. I have a feeling that this album won't suck as much as The Polyphonic Spree's sophomore effort.

And it has more banjo! Woo hoo!

I'm From Barcelona - Paper Planes (Who Killed Harry Houdini?, 2008)


I'm From Barcelona - Music Killed Me (Who Killed Harry Houdini?, 2008)

PRE-ORDER Who Killed Harry Houdini?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Another Song I La La Love

I know that I have been doing these kind of random awesome not-new song posts recently, but what can I say? The random awesome not-new songs have been grabbing my attention recently.

This song, "Brightest" by Copeland, has had my attention for a while, and I thought I would share it. This may be the prettiest song in my library. It is remarkably earnest. When I listen to it, I feel a bit like a voyeur, staring deep into and under a private matter that I have no business looking into. It has a quality that is reminscent of an aria: plot-driven, but understandable on an emotional and musical basis alone.

Please enjoy these two versions of one of my favorite songs:

Copeland - Brightest (Beneath Medicine Tree, 2003)

BUY Beneath Medicine Tree

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Asleep at the Wheel

"Asleep at the Wheel" by Casey Dienel is the song that Radiohead's "Videotape" should have been. The songs have definite similarities: a simple repeating piano line, a gorgeously emotive voice, and drums that enter about halfway through the song.

They have their differences as well. "Videotape" is a dark and brooding album closer. "Asleep at the Wheel" is lighter and more like Regina Spektor.

"Videotape" is disappointing, though. It doesn't go anywhere. The drums are without purpose. It pales in comparison to the Kid A album closer, "Motion Picture Soundtrack," which swells with organ, strings, and emotion.

Where "Videotape" stagnates, "Asleep at the Wheel" rises and falls in beautiful melismatic passages. Each phrase has a natural rise and fall. The drums enter to intensify an already intensifying mood. Casey Dienel seems to be singing about something meaningful; Thom Yorke doesn't seem to be singing about anything important.

So check out both songs. I am interested to hear what you think. Please leave comments! Challenge me.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Sigur Rós has developed a taste for competition. They have just started the "Gobbledigook Competition" which challenges fans to create their own version of "Gobbledigook" from the song's instrumental track (which is provided here, along with further contest details). The band says they will award "a signed copy of the Special Edition of 'Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust' to the most gratifying entry - that's not necessarily the best, just the one the band like the most. Ok, do your worst...."


Bryant Kitching, you have no excuse not to win this competition. Or at least participate.

If any Pablo Bunny reader enters into this contest, I will gladly post the song on this blog.

Go do awesomeness!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dog of the Sea

El Perro del Mar sounds like 60's doo-wop + sadness + Sweden.

El Perro del Mar is Sarah Assbring (tee hee).

El Perro del Mar sounds like It's a Wonderful Life if Jimmy Stewart had danced with Donna Reed at the prom and never saw her again. And then jumped off a bridge.

El Perro del Mar is the foil to The Pipettes.

El Perro del Mar just came out with a new album entitled From the Valley to the Stars.

Check it:

El Perro del Mar - People (El Perro del Mar, 2006)

El Perro del Mar - I Found a Reason (Velvet Underground cover, live)

BUY From the Valley to the Stars

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Where There's A Will...

Grace Pescatello pointed me to this article in today's Wall Street Journal. Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson, who works with Iceland's only licensed whale company, is attempting to reinvigorate the whale meat industry since the 20-year ban on commercial whaling was overturned in 2006. And who would be the market for this carnivore's renaissance?

You guessed it: THE HIPSTER!!!

As WSJ writes, "In a bid to entice urban hipsters, Mr. Jonsson started selling marinated whale meat, vacuum-sealed and ready for cooking." (I wonder what kind of marinade hipsters like?) It seems to me that this is not a good plan, considering that, at least in the states, most hipsters are vegans, or at least adamantly opposed to things like commercial whaling.

But whatever works. The home of Bjork and Sigur Rós is still largely a mystery to me.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Idlewild is not a popular band, nor should they be. They have released a small handful of albums, none of which are particularly notable or spectacular.

HOWEVER, "American English" is a fantastic song. It is interesting thing for a British rock band to write songs about American English, and the song is strangely titled. The lyrics to the song relate to the ideas of separation, dreams, and disconnect: "Constantly searching to find something new/But what will you find when you think that nothing's true?/ Maybe it's that nothing is new." The song is about the invisible and the spaces in between people -- like the space between Americans and Englishmen: same language, but different. I typically do not like when singers sing about songs, but Idlewild does it eloquently.

So give it a listen and sink into the blissful melancholy:

Idlewild - American English (The Remote Part, 2002)

BUY The Remote Part