Official Bio (via All Music):
Even within the eclectic world of alternative rock, few bands were so brave, so frequently brilliant, and so deliciously weird as the Flaming Lips. From their beginnings as Oklahoma weirdos to their pop culture breakthrough in the mid-'90s to their status as one of the most respected groups of the 2000s, the Lips have ridden one of the more surreal and haphazard career trajectories in pop music. An acid-bubblegum band with as much affinity for sweet melodies as blistering noise assaults, their off-kilter sound, uncommon emotional depth, and bizarre history (packed with tales of self-immolating fans and the like) firmly established them as true originals.
The Flaming Lips formed in Oklahoma City in 1983, when founder and guitarist Wayne Coyne allegedly stole a collection of musical instruments from an area church hall and enlisted his vocalist brother Mark and bassist Michael Ivins to start a band. Giving themselves the nonsensical name the Flaming Lips (its origin variously attributed to a porn film, an obscure drug reference, or a dream in which a fiery Virgin Mary plants a kiss on Wayne in the backseat of his car), the band made its live debut at a local transvestite club. After progressing through an endless string of drummers, they recruited percussionist Richard English prior to recording their self-titled debut, issued on green vinyl on their own Lovely Sorts of Death label in 1985.
When Mark Coyne soon departed to get married, Wayne assumed full control of the group; in addition to remaining its lead guitarist, he also became the primary singer and songwriter. Continuing on as a trio, the Lips released 1986's Hear It Is, followed a year later by Oh My Gawd!!!...The Flaming Lips. While touring in support of the Butthole Surfers, they played Buffalo, NY, where they were befriended by concert promoter Jonathan Donahue; after a jam session with Donahue's nascent band Mercury Rev, he and Coyne became close friends, and Donahue eventually signed on as the group's sound technician.
After recording 1988's difficult Telepathic Surgery, English exited, reducing the Lips to the core duo of Coyne and Ivins; after adding drummer Nathan Roberts,Donahue adopted the name Dingus and became a full-time member in time to cut 1990's stellar In a Priest Driven Ambulance while simultaneously recording the brilliant Mercury Rev debut,Yerself Is Steam. Following a series of hopeful phone calls to Warner Bros., the company signed the band in 1991, and in 1992 their oft-delayed major-label debut, Hit to Death in the Future Head, appeared to little commercial notice; Donahue soon exited to focus his full energies on Mercury Rev, followed by the departure of Roberts.
With new guitarist Ronald Jones and drummer Steven Drozd, they cut 1993's sublime Transmissions from the Satellite Heart, which they supported by playing the second stage at Lollapalooza and touring the nation in a Ryder truck. Initially, the album stiffed; however, nearly a year after its initial release, the single "She Don't Use Jelly" became a grassroots hit, and against all odds the Flaming Lips found themselves on the Top 40 charts. They took full advantage of their requisite 15 minutes of fame, appearing everywhere from MTV's annual Spring Break broadcast to an arena tour in support of Candlebox to a memorably surreal lip-synched performance on the teen soap opera Beverly Hills 90210, where supporting character Steve Sanders (portrayed by actor Ian Ziering) uttered the immortal words, "You know, I've never been a big fan of alternative music, but these guys rocked the house!"
After the 1994 release of a limited-edition sampler of odds-and-ends titled Providing Needles for Your Balloons, the Lips returned in 1995 with Clouds Taste Metallic, a strikingly mature and diverse collection highlighted by the singles "Bad Days" (also heard in the film Batman Forever), "This Here Giraffe," and "Brainville." Despite the inclusion of the remarkably melodic "Psychiatric Explorations of the Fetus with Needles," "Christmas at the Zoo" (rumored to be under consideration for inclusion on an upcoming John Tesh holiday record), and the epic "Guy Who Got a Headache and Accidentally Saves the World," the album nonetheless failed to live up to the commercial success of Transmissions, and the band was once again relegated to cult status.
In 1996, the Lips' world went haywire; first, disappeared to undertake a spiritual odyssey from which he did not return, then Drozd's hand was almost needlessly amputated after he was bitten by a spider. At about the same time,Ivins was the victim of a bizarre hit-and-run accident after a wheel came off of another vehicle and slammed into his car, trapping him inside. Ironically, Coyne was having car problems of his own when rumors of his latest sonic foray -- conducting an orchestra of 40 automobiles, all with their tape decks playing specially composed music at the same time -- prompted fan discussion of his possible psychological collapse. "I would try to tell people what I was doing and found that I couldn't explain it very well," Coyne later remarked about the project, dubbed the Parking Lot Experiment. "Plus, I had a sore on the side of my tongue for a week and it made me talk kind of weird. I'm sure they thought I was retarded."
By the following year, the Flaming Lips (who continued as a trio, opting not to attempt to replace Jones) were back in the studio, recording an album that, according to Coyne, would be "so different and exciting it will either make us millionaires or break us" -- in short, 1997's Zaireeka, a breathtaking and wildly experimental set of four discs designed to be played simultaneously. A previously unreleased track, "Hot Day," also appeared earlier that year on the soundtrack to Richard Linklater's film SubUrbi. A Collection of Songs Representing an Enthusiasm for Recording...by Amateurs, a retrospective of their Restless label material, followed in 1998, and a year later the Lips returned with a breathtaking new studio effort, The Soft Bulletin. After a three-year absence from the shelves, 2002 brought several new releases, including the new record Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and a two-volume retrospective of the Restless years. Yoshimi won the group even more popular and critical acclaim than The Soft Bulletin, which the group maximized by spending half of 2002 appearing with on his Sea Change tour as both his opening act and backing band. The Lips kept busy over the next two years by touring in support of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and working on their movie Christmas on Mars. They returned to the studio in 2004 and spent much of 2005 recording; that year, the Flaming Lips documentary The Fearless Freaks and VOID video collection were both released, whetting fans' appetites for the band's 2006 album, At War with the Mystics.
Live On Stage:
The Flaming Lips are one of those bands that you have to see in person. They're probably one of the most visual and interactive bands out there - you'll see everything from fake blood to confetti to people dressed in animal costumes dancing on stage to - well just watch this performance from the Glastonbury Festival of "Do You Realize" and "Waiting For Superman".....
Wayne gets a bit chatty on-stage, so take that with a grain of salt when downloading a show. Here's a few to check out...
The Flaming Lips - 2007-04-21 - Main Green, Brown University - Providence, RI
The Flaming Lips - 2006-06-10 - Sun-Up Stage - Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival - Lawrence, KS
The Flaming Lips - 2003-06-14 - That Tent - Bonnaroo Music Festival - Manchester, TN
These guys have made so many great videos over the years and it's hard to pick just one so we'll kick it old school first with "She Don't Use Jelly"....
And here's a new one "The W.A.N.D."....
Check out some more, because they're just so fun to watch....
The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Turn It On
Waiting For Superman
Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (Part I)
Do You Realize
Race For The Prize
I also highly recommend going out and renting and/or buying the documentary called The Fearless Freaks - it's really a fascinating insiders look at the band. They also have a live DVD coming out this summer called U.F.O.'s At The Zoo which from the looks of this trailer is going to be pretty kickass.
Hit up their official website for more.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Official Bio (via All Music):
Sunday, April 29, 2007
In 1996, the trio of recent Berklee dropouts put out their first studio album as a self-release and began establishing a dedicated fan-base through relentless touring in and around the northeast. The Slip featured a late-nineties blend of extended roots pop compositions and experimental rhythmic approaches, the band developed and found their sound through an extremely supportive local scene of artists, musicians, and actors - coupled with a rigorous, and soon national, tour schedule. An eclectic new brand of exploratory roots psych-rock emerged; Van Morrison meets Coltrane meets Talking Heads.While the band’s line-up remained consistent throughout the next few years on the road, their sound developed considerably and the instrumentation expanded radically. The SLIP grew from young, earthy avant-gardes to strong, dynamic rock composers. In the five years following their last SLIP studio release, the band also spent more and more of their time off the road in their home studios, gradually honing a new and innovative approach to recording and distilling an overall songwriting vision. So pervasive a transformation has occurred in their approach to recording and performing, in fact, that the three have even recently been accused - perhaps appropriately - of ‘changing everything short of their name’. Coming out of this, their heaviest state of growth and development in years, the band entered Q-Division Studios in Boston and began six months of utterly focused work with co-producer Mathew Ellard. The result of all these efforts is EISENHOWER. Showcasing raw passion and accessible melodic songcraft combined, the record easily stands as the most cohesive and evocative work The SLIP has released to date. EISENHOWER ranges effortlessly from intimate and hushed vocals to thunderous, big-beat anthem sincerity - all the while telling a single intense and meaningful story. Massive Lennon-esque ballads give way to angular post-punk deconstructions and gently transition off into intimate acoustic lullabies. Virtuosic surf-rock intros drift seamlessly into dusty, epic, headphone Americana - all this, and yet somehow, the story is never lost, it all ends up making sense. It is the work of a band at it’s finest: a new paradigm in wide-awake rock-realism.
Live On Stage:
Their most recent release Eisenhower landed on a lot of Best Of lists for '06 turning The Slip into the poster child of the "post-jam" movement - a term I'm not a fan of. Here they are with the single off that album - "Children of December"....
Will go with a two-fer here from the same Rolling Stone "Artist To Watch" session - "Airplane/Primitive"....
There seems to be a lot of hype surrounding these guys recently and there was a healthy debate about them over at Hidden Track a few months back after their performance on Conan - download a show and see for yourself....
The Slip - 2007-04-27 - The Independent - San Francisco, CA
The Slip- 2007-03-21 - Revolution Hall - Troy, NY
The Slip - 1998-01-31 - Common Ground - Brattleboro, VT
Check out the video for "Driving Backwards With You" directed by photographer Zack Smith...
Make your way over to their official website for more info.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
John Butler was born in California and at age eleven swapped one West Coast lifestyle for a vastly different one when his family moved to Pinjarra in Western Australia. By age sixteen John was learning guitar alongside other family members, but he quickly found his affinity with the instrument and his own inspiration to excel, appreciating the cathartic and therapeutic nature that writing and singing his own songs brought to his life in a small country town. This early dedication to the instrument was rewarded soon after as John demonstrated enough discipline to inherit his grandfather’s 1930s Dobro. This was a defining moment, now armed with a sense of linage and total commitment John began to define his own voice on the instrument via experimentation with open tunings and a gumbo of musical influences from Celtic folk to Indian ragas and from blues to reggae. John absorbed all of these until he was able to translate them through his own instrumental voice and he began to perform his own music busking in front of large crowds at the Fremantle markets.
Demand for recorded versions of these early instrumentals became so great that John realised the need to produce his first release. Completely self funded, it would indicate the shape of John’s career from the outset. ‘Searching for Heritage’ released on tape in 1996 sold three and a half thousand copies and enabled John to fund his first CD recording. These early lessons of the demand for live energy on a recording and the importance of artistic independence, re-investment, and a consistent work ethic came so naturally to John that they only served to reinforce his belief that this was the only way to conduct his career. John continued to work hard on both performing and developing the next part of his musical palette, a merger between his instrumental voice and singing voice. Inspired by pivotal moments along the way such as a Jeff Lang or a Tony McManus concert, John’s vocals and lyrics became further inter-locked with his guitar and songwriting completing the puzzle and revealing an inspired and energetic picture.
In 1998, the first incarnation of the John Butler Trio launched ‘John Butler/ Self Titled’ followed in 2000/1 by the EP ‘Pickapart’, both were well received and the track ‘Pickapart’ was added to high rotation on national youth broadcaster, radio Triple J. This saw the band tour long and hard nationally in support of the release. In April 2001, the breakthrough album ‘Three’ was released through independent distributors MGM Distribution and remained in the national alternative charts for nine months rising to the number one position a record breaking three times.
Meanwhile in New York, manager Philip Stevens was forging working relationships with booking agents, promoters and labels to find the best way to continue John Butler’s independent model around the world. To this end, in conjunction with fellow West Australian band, The Waifs, Jarrah Records was formed as a new independent label that saw the release in USA of “Three” in July 2002 which went on to sell over 10,000 copies.
By the time ‘Three’ reached platinum sales status in Australia the JBT was recognised and respected nationally as part of the Australian musical landscape both on the airwaves and the touring circuit. In 2003, ‘Living 2001- 2002’, a double live CD, debuted at number six on the ARIA charts also achieving platinum sales with the subsequent mainstream focus and acceptance indicating a bright horizon for John.
The release of the single ‘Zebra’ from the album ‘Sunrise Over Sea’ in December 2003 would achieve the crossover into a historically difficult market for independent artists, commercial radio. ‘Zebra’ not only made it to number eight in Triple J’s esteemed Hot 100 but it was programmed on high rotation around the country on mainstream commercial networks such as Triple M and Nova. The debut of ‘Sunrise Over Sea’ at number one in the ARIA charts created Australian music history. It was the first time a release by a completely independent Australian artist on their own independent label had rocketed to the top of the national charts. ‘Sunrise Over Sea’ would go on to achieve five times platinum status (350,000 copies) in Australian record sales alone and remained in The Association of Independent Record Labels (AIR) charts for a staggering 84 weeks. A sold out national tour followed in support of the album with John donating one dollar from every ticket to the Refugee Action Coalition. John has continued this tradition with various causes such as The Wilderness Society, Save Ningaloo Reef Campaign and The JB Seed all benefiting from touring donations.
Despite incredible success received to date John Butler and his fellow band members, Shannon Birchall on bass and Michael Barker on drums, did not rest to bask in the glory and as always went back to work. During the last two years The JBT has been making new friends and winning over large audiences all over the world. Highlight performances so far have included two sold out shows at the legendary Fillmore East in San Francisco, a standing ovation at the celebrated New Orleans Jazz Festival, selling out the prestigious Grand Rex in Paris, rocking the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, becoming the highest selling act at the Cambridge Folk Festival and performing main stage at Glastonbury, one of the most coveted gigs on the international festival circuit, and a landmark television performance on the David Letterman Show.
During this time the decision had been made to sign with Lava Records, an imprint of Atlantic Records, for the release of their CDs outside of Australia and New Zealand. A decision not taken lightly but born of the belief that the music needed to be heard by as many people as possible through out the world. In a rare deal John retained full artistic control and also the ability to have all CDs and promotional material printed on recycled paper. Sunrise Over Sea went on to sell a further 200,000 copies around the world.
In January 2006, John and fellow band members Shannon and Michael began pre-production at Couch Studios (WA) with engineer Shaun O’Callaghan. The first recording session for the album started in February at Woodstock studios with engineer Robin Mai who also worked on the ground breaking ‘Sunrise Over Sea’ album. Session two, saw the band moving to Sing Sing studios (Melbourne) where John came together with legendary Mario Caldato Jnr (Beastie Boys, Beck) to co-produce and engineer.
The new album, which sees release in early 2007 offers a broad, solid, and deep collection of tunes with all the energy and unique sonic tapestry of a John Butler Trio live performance, captured for eternity in a studio environment.
John is honoured to share this new journey and welcomes everyone along for the ride.
Live On Stage:
If you dig Ben Harper and Jack Johnson you're going to love the John Butler Trio. Here they are on the French TV show Taratata with "Zebra"....
I've seen these guys live a handful of times and they're great, definitely download one of these shows and find out for yourself...
John Butler Trio - 2007-03-02 - Fox Theatre - 15th Anniversary Celebration - Special Acoustic Show - Boulder, CO
John Butler Trio - 2006-04-15 - Vic Theatre - Chicago, IL
John Butler Trio - 2004-11-20 - Jake Nevin Fieldhouse - Villanova University - Villanova, PA
JBT just released a new album called Grand National here's the video for "Good Excuse" the first single off the album....
A few more videos for ya....
Home Is Where The Heart Is
For more info you know what to do - here's their official website.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Reagan babies, missile fears, and international blues. Cold War Kids began in the Fall of '04 with jangly guitar, hand claps, and a Harmony amp in a storage room atop Mulberry Street restaurant in Fullerton, CA. For the first sessions between four friends, having instruments was not as important as heavy stomping, chanting and laughter. Clanging on heat pipes, thumping on plywood walls. Hollering into tape recorders. Slipping and swaying into alleyways and juke joints of yesteryear. Dreaming the American dust bowl and British maritime. On the roof the sound and feeling was cultivated and burned, built and hallowed out, painted and stripped to the primer.
Using songs of Dylan, Billie Holiday, and the Velvet Underground as a road map, they listen to their tiny inner voice to manipulate and structure their style with honesty. Since then, Cold War Kids have self released 3 six song EP's ("Mulberry Street," "Up in Rags," and "With our Wallets Full") on Monarchy Music. And toured relentlessly. Leaping and stumbling across stages around the country, at the end of each night they continue to deliver a raw performance and a soaking wet shirt.
Lyrically, Cold War Kids write stories about human experience in orchards, hotel rooms, laundromats and churches, sea ports and school halls; characters that are funny and serious at the same time, like J.D. Salinger or "Peanuts." Whether it's the man poaching bills from the collection plate during Sunday masses or the little prodigy who is miserable hearing his mother poking him to admire the Grand Canyon out the station wagon's window, these are everyday wretched people trying their damnedest to live well while teetering between despair, complacency and joy.
Much like Blue Note Artists of the '50's, the music of the group walks hand in hand with it's graphic design. Bass player Matt Maust is responsible for creating the visual aesthetic by constantly documenting the band, friends, strangers, and situations both on tour and at home. The design facet is implemented through gallery shows, artistic web design, and supplement design books coinciding with music releases.
Ultimately, Cold War Kids intent is to present themselves not just as four musicians, but as an expanding artistic community in which everyone is invited to take part.
These guys seem to be one of the hottest bands out there right now selling out three nights at the Bowery Ballroom earlier this month. Here they are playing "Hang Me Up To Dry" at the Soho Apple Store....
Impress your hipster friends and give these guys a listen (via Dimeadozen)...
Cold War Kids - 2007-04-17 - Gibson Amphitheatre - "KCRW A Sounds Eclectic Evening" - Universal City, CA
Cold War Kids - 2007-03-29 - First Unitarian Church - Philadelphia, PA
Cold War Kids - 2007-03-23 - Vinyl - Atlanta, GA
It's no surprise that they make very arty music videos, watch this one for "Hair Down"....
Couple more for your viewing pleasure...
Hang Me Up To Dry
We Used To Vacation
Make your way over to their official website for more on the Cold War Kids.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Decemberists songwriter and frontman Colin Meloy first came across the story of The Crane Wife several years ago, in the children's section of a bookstore in Portland. A venerable Japanese folk tale that has been handed down in countless variations and translations through the centuries (as venerable folk tales are wont to do), the deceptively simple story has stayed with Meloy ever since.
“I thought that it would be a great thing to try to put it to some sort of song form, be it a single tune or something longer,” he recalls. “So I struggled with that for years until finally I realized that it just needed more parts and set about building those.”
He had plenty to occupy him in the meantime: the past three years have seen his band, The Decemberists rise to the first rank of the indie music world with a series of bold, beautiful albums, including 2005's Picaresque and Her Majesty , t he December ists (2003). On these albums, Meloy's crafty compositions marry an infallible melodic knack with a venturesome lyrical palette equally suitable for painting fantastical songs full of sea captains, legionnaires, chimney sweeps and seekers of all kinds.
Led by these songs, and by a group dynamic that embraces experimentation even as it celebrates classic pop and folk forms -- to say nothing of klezmer, Irish jig, sea chantey, and prog rock -- The Decemberists are firmly established as a completely original happening in the world of contemporary indie rock: sold out tours across the nation, widespread popular and critical acclaim, and an aesthetic all their own.
Still, as their star rose in the demimonde, Meloy noticed that the band -- himself, multi-instrumentalist Chris Funk, keyboardist Jenny Conlee, bassist Nate Query and drummer John Moen -- had its eyes trained on broader horizons. “It wasn't like we needed to force the change,” he explains, “but the change was happening. I could tell when I was sitting down with the guitar… what was coming out wasn't the same old stuff.”
The stuff that was coming out would become the band's most ambitious record to date. Drawing on the long-simmering inspiration of the Crane Wife story, Meloy has written a collection of songs that leap off from the folk tale and into a rich, complex musical landscape. It's tempting to think of The Crane Wife as a concept album, but that's not really accurate. The album is more like an extrapolation of the folk tale, a re-imagining of its themes on a broader canvas. For every song that touches directly on Meloy's interpretation of the Japanese legend (gorgeous album opener “The Crane Wife 3,” or its prequel, “The Crane Wife 1 and 2” ) , several more take their cue from the fabric of the story, only to stretch outward into other visions.
Sometimes the visions are of bleak urban murderers on the prowl in “The Shankhill Butchers” ; sometimes the waterlogged mingling of love and death in “Summersong. ” And though death, war, greed, and murder enshroud the album's thematic framework, The Crane Wife is a resounding celebration of life. No matter how dark the words may get, the album's spirit is buoyed by boundless energy and an expansive musical vocabulary. Styles and influences abound -- shades of Pink Floyd, Yes, and Fairport Convention trade off with more anthemic touchstones like middle-period R.E.M., The Waterboys, and even early U2 -- but the sound of The Decemberists is unique in contemporary pop music.
This blend of dark and light was informed by the recording process, during which the band was able, for the first time in its career, to take time building their arrangements in a well-equipped studio setting in Portland. Granted the luxury of preparation, the band and co-producers Chris Walla (guitarist/producer for Death Cab for Cutie) and Tucker Martine (Laura Veirs) cultivated an atmosphere of total creative freedom for the two-and-a-half months the group spent making The Crane Wife.
The album's unquestionable centerpiece is the 13-minute murder ballad “The Island,” with its subsections “Come and See,” “ The Landlord's Daughter ,” and “ You'll Not Feel the Drowning. ” As the lyrics chronicle a tale of abduction, rape, and murder, the instruments chart a far-flung course through multiple musical genres and influences. In short, a masterpiece in itself. However, set alongside the urgent, anguished rock of “When the War Came,” and perfect pop confections like “ O, Valencia” and “ Sons and Daughters,” it begins to seem like a statement of purpose.
“There was a real strong sense among the band that we were not going to try to make a record that somebody would typically make for a major label,” Meloy explains. “We didn't want the fact that we had signed onto a major label change our approach or aesthetic. In some ways, I think it pushed us farther to the left, farther out of the comfortable Decemberists zone.”
The Crane Wife may be many things -- a deconstructed folk tale, an intimate epic, a great new record by an essential American band -- but it could never
Live On Stage:
There are a bunch of performances on YouTube, but it seems like their appearance on Letterman is the best quality. So with that being said here they are with "O Valencia"....
I recommend giving these guys a listen, some shows to download....
The Decemberists - 2007-04-03 - Meymandi Concert Hall - Raleigh, NC
The Decemberists - 2007-03-31 - Brubaker Auditorium, Messiah College - Grantham, PA
The Decemberists - 2006-10-17 - Crystal Ballroom - Portland, OR
Much like their songs these guys make some very literate and clever videos. Check out this Wes Anderson inspired one for "16 Military Wives"....
Also take a look at these....
The Soldiering Life
O Valencia (Director's Cut)
Los Angeles, I'm Yours
Head on over to their official website for more.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Formed in May 2004 in Austin, TX, The Black Angels' psychedelically induced rock n' roll evokes the spirit of the 1960's while awakening the heavy droning rhythms inspired by The Velvet Underground. Picture a red moonlit night, deep in the heart of Texas, with the ghosts of Nico and Timothy Leary being called back from the dead to guide you on a journey through Heaven & Hell and back again. The Black Angels are marching forward into battle for your souls.
Live On Stage:
Here they are in all their droning, psychedelic glory performing "Snake In The Grass" at The Independent in San Francisco last fall....
Want more? Well here's some shows you might want to download (via Archive.org)....
The Black Angels - 2007-04-13 - Lager House - Detriot, MI
The Black Angels - 2006-11-20 - Off Broadway - St. Louis, MO
The Black Angels - 2006-11-06 - Cat's Cradle - Carrboro, NC
Check out this boozy, trippy black and white video for "Black Grease"....
One more you might want to watch too..
First Vietnamese War
If you want some more info, head on over to their official website.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Mountain music revivalists Old Crow Medicine Show spin traditional folk and bluegrass with a rock & roll attitude. Critter Fuqua (vocals/banjo/resonator guitar), Kevin Hayes(guitjo), Morgan Jahnig (upright bass), Ketch Secor (vocals/fiddle/harmonica/banjo), and Willie Watson (vocals/guitar/banjo) may specialize in rags, hollers, and pre-World War II blues but they were weaned on Nirvana and Public Enemy. The quintet — who are all from different states — met in New York, hit the road, played before an impressed Doc Watson in front of a North Carolina pharmacy, and were promptly scheduled to play the folk icon's Merlefest. The group relocated to Nashville, found themselves gracing the stage at the Grand Ole Opry, opened for the likes of Dolly Parton and the Del McCoury Band, toured with Merle Haggard and Marty Stuart, and appeared on NPR's Prairie Home Companion. They signed to Nettwerk America in 2003, began crafting their own compositions among the jug band standards and reels that had become the backbone of the group, and went into the studio to make a record with Gillian Welch's other half, guitarist David Rawlings, at the helm. The self-titled debut, which was recorded in RCA's legendary Studio B (ElvisPresley, Waylon Jennings), as well as Woodland Sound Studios (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), arrived the following year. The group's second album, Big Iron World was produced by Rawlings and appeared in August of 2006.
Live On Stage:
Here's OCMS performing "Wagon Wheel" on the Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour.....
Check out a few more selections from the same broadcast....
Fall On My Knees
Tear It Down
I guess the great thing about playing acoustic instruments is that you can pretty much set up and play anywhere. Check out this great video for "Down Home Girl" shot on a sidewalk in NYC....
Others to check out....
Tell It To Me
Head on over to their official website for more.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Danny grew up in Paola, KS. Relatively normal, an element of mystery was added to Danny's childhood when one day he spied his father with a large sword conducting a Masonic ritual. Danny would later notice himself performing similar movements when he began playing drums at the age of thirteen. As Danny progressed through high school and then college at the University of Missouri in Kansas City he began supplementing his studies in percussion with speculation into the principles of geometry, science, and metaphysics. A commitment to life as an artist brought Danny to LA where he was able to perform as a studio drummer with projects like Carole King and play around town with Pygmy Love Circus. He would later find an outlet for addressing a fuller scope of his potentials in Tool and another project operating under the title of Zaum. Despite not becoming a Mason or aligning himself with any other school of religion, Danny has maintained his heritages interest in occult studies. Endeavors into this realm have manifested periodically, such as the time he achieved insight into a hidden aspect of the unicursal hexagram utilizing an astral journey initiated through meditation and DMT. Danny then set up his drums into proportions utilizing the circle and square of the New Jerusalem and uttered a short prayer relating to the principles of the ace of swords from the book of Thoth. He then performed a ritual utilizing his new found knowledge of the unicursal hexagram to generate a pattern of movement in space relating to Fuller's vector equilibrium model. The resulting rhythm and gateway summoned a daemon he has contained within "the Lodge" that has been delivering short parables similar to passages within the Book of Lies. Danny recommends as a device of protection and containment a thorough study and utilization of the underlying geometry of the Temple of Solomon for anyone purchasing their next record.
Justin began his celebration of life in England where as a child you could often find him playing soccer with his siblings and friends. Sometimes Justin would catch himself mesmerized by the dancing and spinning of the ball sensing the possibilities of worlds within worlds. At the age of eight he began playing guitar and at fourteen started meeting and playing with the friends he would eventually form the band Peach with. Peach released the album"Giving Birth to a Stone" and later appeared as an opening band for Tool on several dates in England. Carrying with him a strange sense of alternate realities, Justin found himself able to access them through music and altered states of consciousness . When Tool needed a bass player in 1995 the journey to America seemed simple compared to the paths he had explored within his own mind. Currently Justin has been practicing entering hypnagogic states facilitated by sonic landscapes and a highly specialized form of tensor yoga. These function as the arc and threads that buoy and retrieve him from the watery matrices and emotional labyrinths he explores. He then utilizes these experiences as a reference point in his riffs and style to induce a holographic depth to Tool's music. Keep your eyes open for the scheduled re-release for Peach's "Giving Birth to a Stone" happening sometime soon.
Adam's journey began in Libertyville, Illinois where, as a child, Adam began skipping Sunday school to read comics books at a nearby store. This rejection of the word of god in favor of the images of the comic microcosm carried over to school where Adam would draw pictures during teacher's lectures and think of music during math class. Adam studied violin as a child, but as Adam grew older he began to move away from the rigidity of a classical music and towards the sonic potentials of guitar playing. While most kids were involved in sports and homework Adam's musical talents and continued interest in comic books and sketching evolved into a desire for integrating and animating his ideas through the medium of film and the manipulation of three dimensional space through sculpture. Despite a film school scholarship offer Adam chose art school where he was able to hone his sculpting and sketching abilities. Still maintaining an interest in films Adam moved to LA and received training in make-up effects. He started a career working for Stan Winston's doing make-up effects and spent a few years working on movies. Maynard and Adam decided to start a band while keeping their day jobs...the rest is history. It has only been through the last nine years, however, that Adam has begun to explore the full potentials of projecting his thoughts and emotions through Tool's songs, videos, and album artwork. Sometimes in this environment, Adam is able to achieve a state of synesthesia where playing guitar invokes visions and images to appear before him and making videos, sketching, or sculpting creates auditory hallucinations of riffs and music. Currently Adam is sculpting a piece for the re-release of the Peach album Giving Birth to a Stone, writing music each day for the next Tool album with Danny and Justin, sketching the images he obtains in these practices, and dealing with the business side of the music industry. One way to perceive the experiences that have led to Adam's state in Tool is as the exploration of contrasting modalities of perception. As the hemispheres of the brain struggle for dominance there is a constant shifting of polarity between the right and left lobes that exists as music vs. number, image vs. word, being vs. doing, and holistic integration vs. linear abstraction.
One reason Maynard was drawn to L.A. in the early 90's was to explore the possibilities of sacred temple architecture and regeneration. Thus it is perhaps easiest to sketch a brief history of Maynard through some of the elements within his living space. The floor has a formation that's round on both sides and hi in the middle that is best measured with the equation DV/D = I (I being incidence); and a pack of gum, mo' happiness, and the apostle. Examining the wall introduces art pieces by Ramiro Rodriquez and themes best grasped through being Jung in Michigan. At the window frame a hairless cat stares intently outside at squawking irish parrots swaying drunkenly. Coast to coast some things never change. In another direction is a calendar of crossed out squares with A Perfect Circle scribed on May 23rd and "NIN tour" written under April 12th.
Live On Stage:
From what I understand these guys have a pretty hardcore, loyal fanbase. It should be interesting to see what the crowd will be like for their set on Friday night. Here they are with "Vicarious" from a show from last fall in Vienna.....
Some shows for your downloading pleasure (via Dimeadozen)....
Tool - 2006-05-06 - Pheonix, AZ
Tool - 1997-02-27 - Convention Center - Asbury Park, NJ
Tool - 1993-02-04 - The Loft - Berlin, Germany
I'm not much of a fan of their music, but what I do know is that Tool make some really interesting and intense videos, check out this one for "Schism"....
Here's a few more to take a gander at....
Head to their official website to find out more.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
New Orleans—a good time town, with all night parties, African-European hybrid food, and dance music of numberless variety: street parades, jazz, gospel, R&B, Klezmer…
Klezmer? Klezmer (klez’mer) Jewish folk music that contains elements of Gypsy, Central European, Turkish, Greek and other folk musics. Stereotyped “bar mitzvah music”, it fell out of fashion from the 1940’s until the 1970’s when a revival of Yiddish music featured recreations of the music heard on scratchy 78’s. The style soon expanded to include fusions with other styles— different rock and jazz sounds, bluegrass, even surf music and avant interpretations.
The New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars (NOKAS) have carried on with their own interpretation of the klezmer tradition since 1991. New Orleans, where arcane cultural borrowing is normal, seems to be a natural home for a music that has always blended diverse styles. Yet, “when we first started playing this music, people had no idea what it was (many still don’t),” explains Arthur Kastler, the band’s original bass player, “They would stand there with their jaws open…. But right away, they danced.” Dance is fundamental both to New Orleans music and to klezmer. “At a celebration, you just want to go bananas and dance,” NOKAS accordionist Glenn Hartman states, “That’s where this music comes from, that celebratory energy.” And this band conjures up that energy, keeping the sound of klezmer while enjoying a noticeable New Orleans influence: funk, spontaneity, and collective improvisation. “It’s not just playing over a carnival rhythm, although we might do that now and then,” explains guitarist Jonathan Freilich, “It’s the freedom to do what we need to make the music more exciting. Sometimes that means using elements from different music. We are all veterans of many types of music.” Each member of the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars leads their own groups and work
with many other New Orleans artists.
The band began in 1991 when Arthur Kastler and Jonathan Freilich met while both playing with renowned trumpeter Kermit Ruffin (before starting The Barbeque Swingers). The two then formed a trio with clarinetist Ben Schenck around their interest in learning klezmer. Glenn Hartman, who was a student at Tulane University and Ben Ellman, now a member of Galactic, were invited to join their weekly klezmer jam sessions at Kaldi’s Coffee House. The All-star’s sound was defined when the original drummer quit. Jonathan and Glenn were playing in a funk band with Neville Brothers drummer “Mean” Willie Green and jokingly asked him to come to a gig. He ended up joining them for a weekly gig at Café Brasil where they developed their signature sound of frenetic Yiddish melodies over heavy New Orleans-style drumming.
NOKAS current line up consists of original members; Jonathan Freilich on guitar, and
Glenn Hartman on accordion. Saxophonist Robert Wagner replaced Ben Schenck on clarinet in 1993 followed by Dave Sobel (drums) and Dave Rebeck (violin/viola) in 1998. Their newest member,Nobu Ozaki (bass), joined in 2003. NOKAS greatest achievement has been their ability to cross over between radically different performing venues, and audiences. They have won over audiences at major jazz, folk, bluegrass, and rock festivals and have played in clubs of equally wide range. Concerts at performing arts venues have attracted families and people of all ages where the sit down performance is almost always augmented by dancing in the aisles. A typical tour for NOKAS may include performances at Jewish weddings (they reign supreme in leading the energetic abandon that ensues after the traditional breaking of the glass), Performing Arts venues, Jewish Community Centers, jazz clubs, punk rock clubs, universities, and daytime programs at schools and retirement communities. The New Orleans Klezmer Allstars have created a sound and place in the klezmer revival, as well as in the general musical sphere that is truly their own.
Live On Stage
Well I'm quite stumped here - shockingly there is not one video of these guys on YouTube and can't find anything up for download either. So really the only thing that I can suggest to you is to go pick up one of their albums - which you can do here.
For more info head to their official website, which is pretty sparse. Here's hoping for a Sunday morning set, I'll bring the bagels and cream cheese.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
The time is now for Martha Wainwright. With her guitar leveled at the audience, legs akimbo and hair tousled in the spotlight, Martha looks and sounds every inch a star in the making.
Part ingénue, part punkster, strong and vulnerable all at once, with a hugely expressive voice and an arsenal of powerful songs, Martha is a beguiling entertainer and a refreshingly different, new force in music.
Martha is the daughter of folk legends Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle and sister of acclaimed singer songwriter Rufus Wainwright. Born in New York City and raised in Montreal, she spent her childhood immersed in music and often performing with her parents. She took the first step in her own recording career in 1998 when she contributed her song "Year of the Dragon" to her mother and aunt's album The McGarrigle Hour. The same year she started singing back-up for her brother both live and on record. As she wryly jokes: "I had no classical training, but I had angst and heartbreak and fantastic music all around me. What more could I need?"
After leaving her college early, Martha moved to New York City and distinguished herself almost immediately. Her strong sense of individuality as well as her direct emotional and lyrical appeal helped her develop a devoted following with the city's singer-songwriter scene.
"Part of the reason the album has taken so long to come together is that I wanted the right producer, a producer that would reflect me and what I wanted to say and do with the music." In the end the album was produced by Martha and New York-based producer Brad Albetta in Brad's downtown studio over a period of a year and a half. The end result, her self-titled debut album Martha Wainwright (released April 12, 2005 by MapleMusic Recordings) is a testament to her burning creativity, determination and strength of character.
And yet the emotional world Martha describes in her music is one of personal uncertainty and emotional fracture. Her songs are unswervingly honest about her own insecurities and fears. Fears about her own talent, her place as a woman in relationship to men and love in general. As she herself observes, "When I write I feel simultaneously conscious and able but also frightened, like I'm flying without a safety net. It feels like a wild thing. My songs deal with pain and a lot of personal suffering, but I think ultimately my strength comes through in my performance and my voice."
Martha Wainwright follows the 2004 release in the United Kingdom and the recent American release of her debut EP, Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole. The response to BMFA was immediate and landed Martha on many year end lists. In the January 2005 issue of Mojo Norah Jones listed her as one of the "best things she heard all year." London's Sunday Times included "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole" in their songs of the year alongside tracks by Modest Mouse and Gwen Stefani and Rolling Stone called BMFA "a blistering prelude to her debut album."
A dynamic performer, Martha performed as part of the acclaimed Leonard Cohen tribute concert in May 2004 at Brighton's Dome Concert Hall. Her rendition of the Cohen classic "Tower of Song," won accolades from both London's The Guardian and Daily Telegraph. Martha also joined her brother on his fall 2004 UK dates to rapt audiences and has supported artists such as Cyndi Lauper and Van Morrison in North America over the last year.
Martha recently took a turn performing on film in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator starring Leonardo DiCaprio in which she portrays a sultry torch singer. Her song "I'll Be Seeing You" was added to the film's soundtrack. Martha also contributed two songs to the soundtrack of American independent film P.S. starring Laura Linney and directed by Dylan Kidd (Rodger Dodger).
Martha Wainwright is wonderfully varied and meshes elements of rock, folk, country and chanson singing. The 13 tracks including the anthemic and cathartic "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole", "The Maker" featuring Rufus on backing vocals, the compelling "Factory," and first single "When The Day Is Short" are sure to bring Martha the wider recognition she deserves.
Undoubtedly her own person, with her own sense of style, Martha creates her own music with an extraordinary versatile and compelling voice.
Live On Stage:
I really don't know anything about Martha (other then her musical family) or her music, but randomly pick this tune and really dug it - here she is performing "When The Day Is Short"....
NPR did a live broadcast of Martha's set when she opened for Neko Case last year (which you can either stream or download) - head here.
From the few songs that I've heard in putting this post together I'm really digging what I'm hearing. Here's a video for "When The Day Is Short" off her self-titled album....
These are some more live performances since I can't seem to find any other music videos....
Martha on The Late Show Performing "When The Day Is Short"
"Far Away" Live From The Pabst Theater - 3/30/06
Want to find out more about Martha hit up her official website.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Ben Harpers' career has skyrocketed from the early days of playing the tiny Mint in Los Angeles to the worlds finest concert halls, theatres and festivals including the vast and muddy fields of Glastonbury, England, where he and his band played for more than 100,000 people. In that time, he has established himself as one of the world's most versatile and hard-working musicians - and one of its top concert draws.
Ben has been touring behind his most recent release, Both Sides of the Gun, since March 2006. This past January, his never-ending tour schedule, brought him back to Brazil marking his first appearance in South America since 1998. Ben will return to Australia this April, with headlining performances at both the West Coast and East Coast Blues and Roots Festivals in Perth and Byron Bay respectively.
His 2006 Summer US headlining tour was hailed as one of the top tours of the season and featured special guest Damian Jr. Gong Marley. The two frequently collaborated on the Bob Marley anthem Get Up, Stand Up.
Both Sides of the Gun gained advance praise from Rolling Stone as the four-star work of a "natural-born superstar...finding transcendence in everyday places. Entertainment Weekly called the album stellar. Both Sides boasted the highest chart entry of Harper's twelve-year recording career (No. 7 on the Billboard Top 200).
Ben is a metaphorical founding member of Bonnaroo having performed at both Bonnaroo 2002 and 2003, where he returned with his band The Innocent Criminals.
Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals are honored to be part of Bonnaroo 2007.
Live On Stage:
Here's Ben and the boys bringing the funk with "Brown Eyed Blues" off my favorite album of his Diamonds on the Inside....
Let's go with a two-fer today here's "Sexual Healing" from the Live At The Hollywood Bowl DVD....
Want more? Here's a few shows to download (via Dimeadozen)...
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals - 2006-10-11 - Palais Nikaia - Nice, France
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals - 2003-06-19 - Fleet Boston Pavillion - Boston, MA
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals - 1996-02-03 - Fox Theater - Boulder,CO
Check out the Heath Ledger directed video for "Morning Yearning"....
Few more to check out...
Diamonds On The Inside
Welcome To The Cruel World
Head to Ben's official website for more info.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
To simply say that El-P is serious about his music would be an understatement. Upon first listen to I'll Sleep When You're Dead, it's readily apparent that this record – a magnum opus 4 years in the making - represents a culmination of profound musical, personal, and political experiences reaching their tumultuous climax. This record is about the struggle faced by those living in a rapidly changing society, El himself calling this his post-traumatic stress album where he attempts to capture the political by representing the internal. Evoking vocals and production aesthetics so viscerally indicative of the current era,
El-P has outdone himself yet again, effectively mastering his brand of cutting-edge head-nodders and pushing forward a genre that has long held him as an undisputed kingpin. I'll Sleep When You're Dead embodies everything that is El-P – a groundbreaking artist, virtuosic producer, profound lyricist, label founder, A&R maverick and underground icon reacting to the malignant societal changes occurring today – a very serious matter indeed. This record is an urgent document, a collective representation of a critical individual crossing their personal Rubicon, assessing the dismal reality inherent, and deciding to forge on despite the cost. With appearances by Trent Reznor, The Mars Volta, Cat Power, Aesop Rock, Cage, Matt Sweeney, Tame One, James McNew of Yo La Tengo and others, this is an album poised to
extend a genre into a new realm of artistic expression.
NYC-native El-P has been a major force in independent music for more than a decade. Setting off his career at age 17 with the release of the first Company Flow 12-inch "Juvenile Techniques", he's been blazing trails ever since, introducing some of the most cutting-edge and important hip-hop music of this era. As founder, producer and main MC of indie heroes Company Flow, El-P quickly made a name for himself with fearlessly visionary production, profound lyricism and an uncompromising ethic. The group's seminal 1997 debut album Funcrusher Plus, was an underground smash (150,000+ units sold), celebrated by fans and journalists worldwide, earning the "classic" status now widely accorded it, and a major factor in the rise of indie hip-hop. In the process, it put the now legendary Rawkus Records on the
music map, a label El-P would soon choose to depart from, shocking nearly everyone around him. But the man had a plan…
Launching Definitive Jux in 2000, El-P finally had the vehicle to carry his vision forward. He's spent the past 6 years building what is now the pre-eminent indie hip hop label in the business, having given rise to some of genre's brightest lights, including Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif, Rjd2 and Cannibal Ox. His own debut album, the tour de force Fantastic Damage, was released in 2002 to a maelstrom of worldwide critical acclaim, going on to become one of the year's best-selling indie hip hop albums. Since then, El Producto has had his hands full, producing, co-producing, executive producing and A&R'ing several projects including Mr. Lif's "Mo' Mega", the Def Jux debut of underground hero Cage, Murs, C-Rayz Walz, and The Perceptionists. . In 2004, El-P produced the lauded alt-jazz album High Water (Thirsty Ear) with free jazz lions Matthew Shipp, William Parker and Daniel Carter; scored the acclaimed feature film Bomb the System (Palm Pictures) and compiled assorted remixes, b-sides and special tracks for his own Collecting the Kid full length. Most recently he's remixed tracks for Beck, Nine Inch Nails, The Mars
Volta, TV on the Radio, Charlie Parker, Head Automatica, Blackalicious, Hot Hot Heat and Syd Matters, plus traded verses with Ghostface Killah on his own soon-to-be classic remix of Prefuse 73's "Hideyaface." He also appeared on Handsome Boy Modeling School's White People album, alongside Chino of the Deftones, and will soon be remixing a song for the new Cat Power album. The list of artists and musicians who count themselves as El-P fans is a long and luminous one, including the likes of Nas, Radiohead, The Beastie Boys, Elvis Costello, RZA, The Black Keys, Chuck D., Yo La Tengo, Autechre, DJ Shadow, ?uest Love, Primal Scream and many more. El-P's music is regularly licensed for feature films, video games and television, and he is producing music for both the Cartoon Network and Adult Swim TV. He will be touring the world in 2007 in support of his new album.
Live On Stage:
Here's El-P performing "The Overly Dramatic Truth" at this year's PLUG Awards....
Couple more live performances to check out (via YouTube)...
El-P - 2002-20-2002 - Amoeba Records, San Francisco, CA - "Step Father Factory"
El-P w. RJD2, Aesop Rock & Mr. Lif @ Newbury Comics - "Deep Space 9MM"
Admittedly I don't know much about El-P and found this EPK about his new album "I'll Sleep When You're Dead" to be a great introduction to what's he's about...
Check out this great animated video for "Flyentology"...
Few more videos to check out...
Deep Space 9MM
More info on El-P head to his official website here.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Damien Rice has been deemed by The Los Angeles Times “nothing short of a complete package of art, personality and presence.” His highly anticipated second album, 9—for which Rice wrote, recorded and produced all tracks, as well as designing all of the artwork for the accompanying package—will be released November 14 by Heffa/Vector/Warner Brothers.
9 is the follow-up to Rice’s debut album O, which has sold well over two million copies worldwide. Prior to reaching Gold® sales Stateside, O achieved triple-Platinum sales status in the UK and spent over 80 weeks on the U.K. Top 75 Album Chart. It received extraordinary critical praise and was featured in numerous Best Albums of 2003 lists, including Entertainment Weekly, People, Blender and Rolling Stone, which called O “one of the most gorgeous first albums in recent memory.” Newsweek hailed O as “an out-and-out gorgeous CD…full of undiluted, unfalsified emotions.” The album includes the songs “Volcano,” “Cannonball,” and “Blower’s Daughter,” the central piece of music in Mike Nichols’ Oscar-nominated film Closer.
Rice performed songs from O in a rare two-song performance on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” where he has appeared twice, as well as on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “The Late Late Show,” “Austin City Limits” and “Last Call with Carson Daly.” In 2003, Rice was awarded the prestigious Short List Prize in the U.S. as well as being nominated for a BRIT Award and an NME Award.
Rice has spent much of the last two years writing and recording 9. He previewed some of the new songs on a summer tour of the U.S. he recently completed with Fiona Apple.
Live On Stage:
Here's Damien with "Volcano"....
Finally an artist with some shows to download. Here's a few to check out...
Damien Rice - 2007-03-16 - Herkulessaal - München
Damien Rice - 2006-11-13 - El Rey Theatre - Los Angeles, CA
Damien Rice - 2004-03-12 - Saschall Theater - Firenze (Florence), Italy
Here's "9 Crimes"....
Few more to check out too....
Also I posted this video over on my other blog a couple months back and absolutely loved the performance, so here's Damien and Ray LaMontagne covering the BeeGee's....
You know the drill already for more info head to his official website.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
“Whoever said you can’t be saved by a song?” Sam Roberts asks on “Uprising Down Under,” an elegiac track from his band’s new album, Chemical City “Whoever said that was stringing you along.”
It’s a bold assertion, but it’s not the first time Roberts has put himself on the line, worn his heart on his sleeve and tackled apathy head on. His band’s debut album, We Were Born in a Flame, was an uncompromising collection of songs about love, faith, compassion, struggle and transcendence, on which Roberts made his now-famous declaration that he’d die for rock ’n’ roll. This was no empty boast. On consecutive hit singles, including “Brother Down,” “Don’t Walk Away Eileen” and “Where Have All the Good People Gone?,” the Montreal musician proved his unwavering dedication to passionate power-pop, mystical folk and wildly uninhibited psychedelic rock. Even critics with high-powered bullshit detectors proclaimed him the real deal.
With Chemical City, Roberts and his band have delivered a follow-up more visceral, less polished and yet, paradoxically, more ambitious than their best-selling, Juno-winning debut. “I didn’t write a lot going into it,” explains Roberts. “With the last record, it felt like I had every lick and note figured out beforehand. With this one, I just wanted to leave it open to our imagination and for there to be a sense of immediacy and urgency to the whole record.” To get his creative juices flowing, Roberts traveled to Holland and parts of Africa, including Mauritius and his parents’ native South Africa. While holidaying in Australia, he found a renovated old Presbyterian church in rural New South Wales, near Byron Bay, and decided it was the perfect place—secluded and remote—to record the new album.
Joining him in Oz were band mates Dave Nugent (lead guitar), Eric Fares (keyboards), James Hall (bass) and Billy Anthopoulos (drums). Co-producer Mark Howard (Lucinda Williams, The Tragically Hip) arrived with all the necessary recording equipment. And the camaraderie, reminiscent of The Band holed up in Big Pink in the late 1960s, brought an unmistakable warmth to the album. Recalls Roberts: “We lived and ate our meals together in the church, spent our mornings at the beach and came back in the afternoon to get down to work. It was all pretty idyllic.” The recording was later completed in Montreal, with Roberts’ high-school buddy turned producer-engineer Joseph Donovan (The Dears, The High Dials) taking over the controls and drummer Josh Trager joining the crew. But a large part of the album, especially its rich organ sound, was clearly inspired by the Australian church setting, The Band (and its keyboard wizard Garth Hudson) or both.
Much of Chemical City exudes a spirited energy. The mellifluous “Uprising Down Under,” featuring a guest appearance from Roberts’ buddy and fellow Canadian indie star Matt Mays, and “The Resistance,” with its joyous refrain “we danced while the city slept,” are downright euphoric. Other songs, including the acoustic rocker “Bridge to Nowhere” and the psych-pop jam “Mystified, Heavy,” tackle bleaker, more existential matters. The contrast was deliberate. “With this album I really wanted to explore the darkest depths and the highest heights of experience,” explains Roberts. “The tension between those two extremes is what attracts me to rock ’n’ roll and gives a lot of my favorite music its real power.”
Meanwhile, several songs wrap what Roberts calls “day-to-day issues” in metaphorically rich packaging. The hypnotically trippy “Mind Flood” likens the creative process to a flowing stream whose levels reflect the artistic muse. “Grey skies, the waters rise,” sings Roberts, “blue skies, the river dries.” And the driving heartland rocker “An American Draft Dodger in Thunder Bay” paints a sympathetic portrait of a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, but it could just as easily apply to the Iraq War. “That’s what spurred the song along,” says Roberts. “There’s a whole new influx here of people from the States who just don’t like the way their country is being run.”
But Chemical City’s most ambitious aspect is its fantasy theme. From the cover illustration by Ken Dewar to songs like “The Gate,” the album’s anthemic first single, an image of a futuristic world populated by saints and sinners pervades. “The Gate” serves as a cautionary tale about a “faded empire” where its citizens are overshadowed by a malevolent force. “The Bootleg Saint,” a hook-laden rocker reminiscent of We Were Born in a Flame’s “Hard Road,” is full of colorful characters who likely inhabit the same city-state. Roberts admits that some of his favorite novels, including Philip K. Dick’s Dr. Bloodmoney and John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up, served as inspiration for these songs. “A lot of sci-fi is just a fragmented representation of our own world,” says the McGill University English graduate. “It’s not really as fantastical as it seems.”
Real or surreal, quest or crusade, Chemical City brings this band of relentless road warriors back to fight the good fight against cynicism and complacency. Resistance is futile, salvation assured. Whoever said you can’t be saved by a song clearly wasn’t familiar with the music of Sam Roberts.
Live On Stage:
These guys are huge in their native Canada, but have yet to really catch on with an American audience. They do play a great high energy rock show though, here they are with "Hard Road"....
Once again running into a problem that I can't find any live shows for download, but I highly recommend picking up both their albums - We Were Born In Flames & Chemical City.
Here they are with "Where Have All The Good People Gone"....
Also check out...
Don't Walk Away Eileen
For more infor head to their official website.
Monday, April 16, 2007
"I'm sure you're probably thinking,'Yeah, something's changed with him'," says Josh "DJ Shadow" Davis as he tries to explain a little of the life-changing journey he's been on since his last LP, The Private Press, was released in 2002. That the change has been dramatic is evident on even the briefest of exposures to The Outsider, his fabulous, fascinating, fire-breathing third album: but it's also there in the way he speaks, the way he looks, and the iron-clad confidence he now brings to his work.
The Outsider is a record that will confound those who believed they had Shadow pigeonholed. Working with several different vocalists, and in styles spanning everything from hyphy, the Bay Area's newest hip hop hybrid, to folk; from aggressive hardcore rock to left-field alternative dance music, the album is an almost schizophrenic collection from an artist to whom loving music and making music are just two sides of the same coin. Long-term fans need have nothing to fear - his power to conjure and affect an emotion by collaging samples, voices and fragments of long-forgotten recorded dialogue remains undimmed - but the sense here is that, at last, this is the real Shadow, in the raw. It sounds and feels, simply, like the record he's been yearning to make.
"There are songs with rappers, songs with vocalists," he explains. "There are songs that are all live instruments; songs that are all me and keyboards; songs that are all samples. But here's the thing: while I was making it, people would hear a track and like it, then they'd say, 'Why don't you do a whole album like this? This could be your rap album', if it was a rap track, 'then you can go back to doing what you normally do'. But I can't do that, because that's not who I am."
The record was put together from disparate elements over nearly three years. Artifact (Instrumental) is a relic of Shadow's work on an abandoned solo LP by former Rage Against The Machine front man Zack De La Rocha. 3 Freaks, which features the hyphy emcees Keak Da Sneak and Turf Talk, was the impetuous, inspired result of Shadow's love-at-first-listen affair with the Bay's answer to crunk. Seein' Thangs, featuring Mississippi's finest, David Banner, was supposed to include a rap by Mystikal, but he was in prison: so was Shadow's second choice, Pastor Troy. By the time Davis went back to Banner to ask him to add a second verse, Katrina had devastated America's southern shores, a disaster that couldn't help but colour Banner's rap. Kasabian's Sergio Pizzorno and Christopher Karloff were introduced to Shadow by his engineer, and The Tiger was the standout result. And even Bay Area icon E-40 is in there, rapping about "the legendary DJ Shadow", suggesting that this Outsider really is anything but.
The key to understanding how all these different voices and inspirations are able to coexist on the same record is to remember that Shadow is as much a fan as a musician. Outside the records he has contributed to as a recording artist, he has built an enviable rep as a mixtape DJ and curator of an idiosyncratic musical archive. The all-45 mixes Brainfreeze and Product Placement, with his friend and fellow producer-DJ Cut Chemist, revolutionised the art of funk DJ-ing and had a massive impact on the obsessive world of funk collecting, while his Schoolhouse Funk compilations have rescued some amazing slices of that most elusive of musical genres - high school marching band funk - from history's trash can (or, at least, America's thrift stores). But in the studio he has often felt constrained by the massive expectations that came after the release of his first album, and the incredibly devoted cult fandom that was attracted to it.
Since he took his enviable talent and magpie ear for musical jewels overground with the release of the acclaimed debut album Endtroducing... in 1996, Shadow has probably spent more time than he cares to admit being what other people want him to be. In cahoots with his first patron and early mentor, Mo' Wax label boss and fellow DJ James Lavelle, he made the lion's share of the music on the 1998 U.N.K.L.E. album, Psyence Fiction. By the time he released The Private Press, he had taken his chosen musical metier - emotive instrumental music, created entirely from samples - as far as it could go. From the haunting Giving Up The Ghost to Monosyllabik's obsessive methodology (the entire track was created by stretching, treating and manipulating samples from one funk single, in a process akin to aural stop-frame animation), it was the ultimate Shadow LP.
Though all these endeavours, though, Shadow remained the starry-eyed rap fan who'd been introduced to hip hop as a teen by the college radio station in the Californian town he grew up in and with which he shares a surname. On the sleeve of Endtroducing..., he explained the record as being the product of "a lifetime of vinyl culture", and The Private Press might as well have carried the same epithet. Yet they have only been able to tell half of the story: and The Outsider - a record titled because that's how Davis sees himself, in relation to the music business, to the hardcore rap he has always loved but which his fans erroneously presume he sets himself above - is about filling in some blanks.
Two things happened to change Shadow and his music. The first was the discovery that, when his wife found she was expecting twins in 2003, her pregnancy turned out to be monoamniotic. This rare condition - "you're four times more likely to be struck by lightning," he says - means that twins develop in the same sac in the womb. The couple now have two healthy daughters, but only after months of torment during which most medical wisdom suggested that not only the children, but the mother, were unlikely to survive.
Then, while in London working on The Outsider, Shadow was being driven to his hotel after a late night recording session when his cab driver fell asleep at the wheel and ran a red light.
The minicab hit a people-carrier broadside: no-one was seriously injured, but had they arrived at the junction a split second earlier, Davis would almost certainly have been killed. "Those two things blew my mind," he says, "and I can't go back. It was like a light switch being flicked. I guess I was an eternal 23-year-old for seven years, and when it all went down I became a man. Sometimes I think it would have made me take less risks, and be more demure and thankful and calm, but it actually made me wanna take a stand on everything. After all that, I realised, not only is life too short, but it could end at any time, so I really can only do what I really want to do. That's when I went home and made Three Freaks. And I suddenly felt very confident in the direction I wanted to go."
It's a confidence that certainly hasn't been misplaced, and those life-changing lessons have been most assuredly learned. By abandoning himself once and for all to the instincts of his inner fan, Shadow has made the record that best represents who he is and what he wants to be, and that shows, to borrow a phrase from another hip hop pioneer, both where he's from, and where he's at.
Live On Stage
Check out this live take of the "Number Song" off his groundbreaking debut Endtroducing....
Listening to DJ Shadow live might not be the best way to experience what he's all about, so instead of listing some downloads there are a couple of DVDs out there that feature him spinning live...
Live! In Tune & On Time
Also wanted to share this great clip from the movie Scratch where Shadow discusses the art of crate digging (you're going want to watch it)....
Here's "Midnight In A Perfect World"....
Other videos to check out:
You Made It
As always for more info head to DJ Shadow's Official Site.