Archive for the 'Alternative' Category

Jun 21 2009

Bonnaroo 2009: Delta Spirit

(Photo Credit: Jay West 2009)

(Photo Credit: Jay West 2009)

Perhaps my favorite story from this years Bonnaroo happened on the first night. The day, spent obtaining press passes and setting up campsites in the rain, was anything but magical. Nervous faces and knotted stomachs were a sign of the apprehension, but people maintained hope for a positive, pleasant weekend.

Poncho on, we headed in to catch the White Rabbits, Chairlift and Passion Pit. The shows did not disappoint and the crowd was just happy to see some music. I’ll expound on those shows later, but the real treat of the night came in the form of California natives Delta Spirit. Originally set to go on at their 7 p.m. slot, the poor guys were stuck in a Dallas airport as their stage time passed. I can only imagine their shock when they found out that they would be going on after Passion Pit–12:30 a.m, This Tent,  in the pouring rain.

Occasionally clarifying their anxious bewilderment with bits of banter that included “thank you for listening,” and “we definitely aren’t the best band out here,” Delta Spirit exemplified raw, honest energy better than any band I had the pleasure listening to all weekend. Though I didn’t catch the whole show, I was assured that their hour long, last-minute set was full of folk-infused, no frills Delta rock. Lead-singer Matthew Vasquez led the band with authority and an ear-to-ear grin, culminating with “People C’mon,” a call-to-arms for wandering souls. As he screamed, “And I’ll be wondering all, for all my years. What I become no one can say!” I was sold. The crowd cheered and fed off their raw energy. I can say, without a doubt, that whatever was lost in inexperience and nervousness was more than made up for with sheer enthusiasm.

What would have been a normal festival run serendipitously turned into a once-in-a-lifetime, Cinderella-story. I can only hope that the press and attention resulting from such a story will bring Delta Spirit closer to being required listening and competing with the best we have to offer.

MP3: Delta Spirit – “People C’mon”

MP3: Delta Spirit – “Strange Vine”

MP3: Delta Spirit – “Streetwalker”

Home | MySpace | Hype Machine | AllMusic| Wiki

Pick up Ode to Sunshine NOW: iTunes | Amazon | eMusic

The only reason I had even heard about Delta Spirit was from a particularly wonderful “Take-Away Show” at La Blogotheque. As I still know very little about these dudes, the video says more than I ever could about the band and their sound. Check it out the whole article here.

In 2010, Delta Spirit will issue the follow-up to their debut, Ode to Sunshine, with an LP entitled Natalie Portman Says This Album Will Change Your Life. (via)

I’m very very excited. Plus: More Bonnaroo reviews, live tracks and pictures coming this week…

5 responses so far

Jun 11 2009

Modest Mouse – Custom Concern [SotD]

Published by under Alternative,MP3's,Song of the Day

This song is neither new nor any type of obscure, but today it’s my (sad, sappy) jam. I woke up, just about noon, with the melody stuck in my head. “Custom Concern” always resonated on some basic level, outlying a creative pitfall that every one hits every so often. The song is universal in its defeat, but comforting in that someone as brilliant as Isaac Brock can get down on his art. And then put it into one of the better songs Modest Mouse ever wrote. So if these past few rainy days have anyone else dragging their feet, throw This is a Long Drive For Someone With Nothing to Think About on for a spin and relax.

From This is a Long Drive For Someone With Nothing to Think About:

Modest Mouse – Custom Concern

And the buoyant, upbeat instrumental version, a bonus on The Moon and Antarctica:

Modest Mouse – Custom Concern (instrumental)

One response so far

Jun 08 2009

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

Yellow House never really did it for me. The first three songs, ending with “Knife,” were beautiful and accessible. They drew me in and built a graceful momentum. But the remainder of the album, the other 8 songs, broke off, choosing to meander through sometimes aimless soundscapes with no discernible resolution. It was Department of Eagles, Grizzly Bear’s Daniel Rossen’s side project, that restored, or initially placed, my faith in Grizzly Bear. I had a bunch to say about that here. Anyway, like the good lil’ music blogger that I am, on to Veckatimest.

Veckatimest finds Grizzly Bear at a point of self-realization. They have power – magic maybe – and they’ve chosen to wield it. With “Two Weeks,” a hook-fraught, stand-up chamber pop epic, Ed Droste finds a Frank Sinatara-swagger to his vocals. He waltzes across a staccato keyboard and through disembodied harmonies; he finds his stance and sets hold, confident, charming, nearly ebullient with pop-righteousness. But the power of Veckatimest is in it’s adaptability and emotive range. “Two Weeks” descends into “All We Ask”, a brooding, reverb-soaked ballad marked by Rossen’s trademark stomping baritone guitar. Instantly all that serotonin has vanished. The verse swells into the chorus, which wavers behind Rossen’s bop before gently eroding to the underlying current. The boys harmonize in a near whisper: “I can’t get out of what I’m into with you.” If  “Two Weeks” is a sunny summer’s day on a hillside, then “All We Ask” is the corresponding insomnia at two A.M. (Oh, is that what time it is? huh.)

After the first serveal listens my memory of the album felt like a sin graph; it peaked with certain hooks every few songs and descended into oblivion with others. The sequencing speaks to a calculated foresight, where each of their most accesible songs is spaced by several more brooding ones. It nearly follows the High Fidelity rules for making a mixtape. “Cheerleader” bumps between reverbed guitars and marching-beat drums while Droste ghosts over everything. “While You Wait For the Others”, basically a Department of Eagles song, follows Rossen’s heartbreak, reinforced by the most prominent harmonies on the album. I’ve fallen in love with the expanse of Veckatimest, the overwhelming density of sound, the swelling harmonies, the way each track tends to morph several times before resolving in a definite form. I Guess I’m Floating compared the Veckatimest anticipation to Srgt. Peppers. Then I thought it was hype, now I can only agree. This might be an album for the ages.

Grizzly Bear – Cheerleader

Grizzly Bear – While You Wait For the Others

And here is the video for “Two Weeks”:

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MySpace | Label

4 responses so far

Jun 05 2009

The Pixies and Boston Bands

Published by under Alternative,Boston,MP3's

IndieMuse loves the pixies. So does our wonderful friend Liz Pelly from PellyTwins. She wrote an even more wonderful article, published below, about the Pixies and their overarching influence on Boston bands. (Full Disclosure: I’m interviewed in this article. Ha)

Pixies fans with hundreds of dollars to spend will surely be reminded of the band’s relevance and significance as the most influential band to ever come out of Boston on June 15, when the band is set to reissue all of their studio albums in a fancy box set.

Titled Minotaur, the package will be offered in both a Deluxe Edition and a Limited Edition.  The Deluxe Edition includes the Pixies’ five studio albums– Come on Pilgrim EP (1987), Surfer Rosa (1988), Doolittle (1989), Bossanova (1990) and Trompe Le Monde (1991), plus a DVD of every Pixies’ music video and their 1991 performance at London’s Brixton Academy (a year before they broke up), a 54-page picture book, and redesigned album covers by the Pixies original designer Vaughan Oliver, all in a slipcase.  The Limited Edition version includes the entire deluxe package, plus each album on 180-gram vinyl, a Giclee print of Oliver’s artwork, and a 72-page hardcover book, all in a custom clamshell. The Deluxe Edition is $175 and the Limited Edition is $450.

While these re-designed packages are one way to remember the impact of this influential band, there are certainly other ways to hear and appreciate the Pixies’ legacy.  Boston University visiting professor of American history reminds us that while listening to the Pixies’ albums can re-affirm their significance in American culture, their legacy can be appreciated just as much by listening to their influence on other bands.

“They’re the kind of band whose legacy continues to increase as years pass,” said Schmitz.  “Their significance is about influence more so than their album sales.”

So rather than shell out hundreds of dollars for box sets, perhaps try reminding yourself of the Pixies’ legacy by checking out these Boston bands who all cite the Pixies as a major influence, after the jump:

Continue Reading »

6 responses so far

May 27 2009

The Shivers – In The Morning (2009)


The Shivers, who are one of the best kept secrets in today’s indie scene, just released a new album called In The Morning. It’s a fantastic follow-up to their 2008 album, Beaks to The Moon (which made my Top 10 list last year).  The entire album was recorded on a 4-track cassette deck in their rehearsal space under Queensboro Bridge, giving their music a pure, lo-fi sound.

Like other Shivers albums, In the Morning jumps around a lot from track to track, but the band is able to pull off their diverse sound in a way most bands could only dream. My favorite track on the album is the opening song “Just Didn’t Need To Know,” which brings to mind the Velvet Underground (in particular Lou Reed’s “Heroine”). Other favorites include “Only in It For The $$$,” “Insane,”  “Sad Excuse,” and, of course, “Inside Job” (a silent track that lasts for 9 minutes and 11 seconds; Keith is a supporter of 9/11 Truth).

Keith Zarriello has been the only consistent member of the band since forming in Brooklyn back in 2001, but the band has now evolved into a duo, with the talented Jo Schornikow on piano, organ, and occasional vocals.  You can look for The Shiver’s song “Feather” in the new Noah Baumbach produced movie Alexander the Last. Jo also scored acted in the film alongside Justin Rice from Bishop Allen.

In The Morning (2009)

The Shivers – Just Didn’t Need To Know

The Shivers – Insane

Other highly recommended listening:

The Shivers – Beauty

The Shivers – Lonely Road

Site| Amazon (only $7.99) | iTunes | Myspace

8 responses so far

May 27 2009

(Video) Run Toto Run cover ‘Sleepyhead’

You know that catchy Passion Pit song “Sleepyhead” that we all know and love so much? Well, if not, it’s below. But here is a pretty awesome video cover of the song by the band Run Toto Run. I love weird shit like this.

YouTube Preview Image

Manners (2009):

Passion Pit – Sleepyhead

Passion Pit – Little Secrets

Passion Pit’s debut, Manners, just released on Frenchkiss records. Feature coming soon! (hint: it’s good, buy it).

12 responses so far

May 21 2009

Sky Larkin – The Golden Spike

Published by under Alternative,MP3's

I first heard Sky Larkin in New York late last summer. They just signed to Witchita and their lead singer Katie Harkin, nervous that she’d break a string at her first New York show, asked us if she could borrow a guitar as backup. Since then, they’ve toured the UK with Conor Oberst, released their stellar debut The Golden Spike and toured the US with friends Los Campesinos! Somehow, they’ve still managed to escape major notice stateside.

The Golden Spike opens in triumph: Harkin’s melody is propelled skyward by a choir of disembodied harmonies, laced with piercing guitar work and a pounding rhythm section reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr‘s Barlow and Murph. To further the Dino Jr comparison (and sustaining my rabid Dino Jr. obsession), Harkin plays in the vein of J. Mascis, channeling his sparkle/sludge dynamic but with more emphasis on chords rather than ear-shattering guitar solos. Not that she can’t have those; the lead in “Antibodies” is graceful in it’s calculated dissonance and the hook in “Molten” is a reach-for-the-sky’s piece of guitar work (which would have fit quite nicely on You’re Living All Over Me).

Like the Walkmen, Sky Larkin make me want to believe in things. Not so much in fantastical creatures (although I do have great faith in their eventual emergence/hidden existence) but more so in ideals, or just ideas. Love, life, hope, honor. You know, all that romantic bullshit. Listen to Sky Larkin and go sprinting through the streets. Clothing optional.

I did an interview with Katie last fall. Read it here.

Sky Larkin – Molten

Sky Larkin – Antibodies

Sky Larkin have three videos out right now, here’s my favorite:

3 responses so far

May 13 2009

Stream Wilco (The Album)

Published by under Alternative,Chicago,MP3's,Muse News


As of today, Wilco’s new album, Wilco (The Album), is available for stream on the band’s official website. I already listened through the album once, but think we all need to listen a few more times before passing any real judgment. As we already knew from the songs that Wilco has performed live, the album drifts towards Sky Blue Sky as opposed to their older more experimental works like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. All that I’ll say about the album right now is that I absolutely adore the song “You And I,” featuring none other than Feist on shared vocals with Jeff Tweedy.

I’m also incredibly impressed by the band’s email that they just sent out. Streaming an album before it has released has become a norm these days, but promoting the fact that the album has leaked is far from standard practice. It shows a certain understanding and maturity you just don’t see in the music industry yet. Hats off to you, Wilco.

Well, we made it nearly a month with copies of Wilco (the album) floating around out there before it leaked. Pretty impressive restraint in this day and age. But the inevitable happened last night. Since we know you’re curious and probably have better things to do than scour the internet for a download (though we do understand the attraction of the illicit), we’ve posted a stream of the full album at . Feel free to refer to it as “wilco (the stream)” if you must.

We also have our usual guilt abatement plan for downloaders. If you have downloaded the record, we suggest you make a donation to one of the band’s favorite charities, the Inspiration Corporation — an organization we’ve supported in the past & who are doing great work in the city of Chicago. Information and donation button here:

That’s all. Enjoy the stream. Tickets for summer shows, etc. Note that we’ll be holding a free online midnight screening of the “Ashes of American Flags” film this Friday night (at both midnight US Central time and again at midnight Pacific). So get the popcorn or whatever together and be sure to log on and tune in on Friday.

Wilco (The Album) (2009):

Wilco & Feist – You and I

Site | Myspace

3 responses so far

Apr 29 2009

John Vanderslice – Romanian Names (2009)

Published by under Alternative,Folk,MP3's,Tour


I’ve only listened two times through to John Vanderslice’s upcoming album, Romanian Names, but am really enjoying it so far. I like the direction he’s taking his music, and appreciate how it’s lighter and more upbeat than past albums. The instrumentation and vocals are really crisp and bring to mind Pixel Revolt (2005), which is still my favorite Vanderslice album (I’ve been hated on for liking it more than Cellar Door (2004), but I’ve come to terms with that.)

This album definitely has more folk influence than his previous albums. When I was playing “C & O Canal,” which is my favorite track on the album right now, one of my friends walked in and thought it was Sufjan Stevens… a comparison I can definitely see. This transition probably occurred after Vanderslice decided to take a minimalist approach and construct the melodies of his songs in a basement studio in his home, as opposed to his recording studio, Tiny Telephone.

Other tracks I’m really digging  right now include “Too Much Time,””Sunken Union Boat,” and the title track, “Romanian Names.”

John Vanderslice is from San Francisco, and has been performing with his own band ever since breaking up with mk Utlra in 1999. He has his own record studio in San Francisco called Tiny Telephone, where he not only records his own albums, but produces albums for other artists, such as Spoon’s Gimme Fiction. Some other bands that have recorded there include: Beulah, Death Cab, Deerhoof, Mates of State, and the Mountain Goats, who John has done a lot of collaboration with. Romanian Names will be released on May 19th (18th in the U.K.). JV is going on a huge U.S. tour to support the release, and I highly recommend you see him live if you have the chance…he’s great (dates after jump).

Romanian Names (2009):

John Vanderslice – Too Much Time

John Vanderslice – Fetal Horses

Emerald City (2007):

John Vanderslice – Kookaburra

John Vanderslice – White Dove

Pixel Revolt (2005):

John Vanderslice – Exodus Damage (Highly recommended)

John Vanderslice – Trance Manuel

Cellar Door (2004):

John Vanderslice – My Family Tree

Life and Death of An American Fourtracker (2002):

John Vanderslice – Underneath The Leaves

John Vanderslice – The Mansion

| JV’s site | Tiny Telephone| Dead Oceans (label) Myspace|

2 responses so far

Apr 28 2009

Experimental Dental School – Forest Field [Free!]

Published by under Alternative,MP3's

Free stuff is sweet. Free music is even better. But like, free-free, artist-endorsed free. Especially when it’s killer art-rock. Portland duo Experimental Dental School is offering their album Forest Field for free at their website here. Forest Field is like giving Deerhoof a more discernible goal while dabbling in the Blonde Redhead male/female vocal dynamic. It’s like Pretty & Nice’s Get Young in that it makes you think about what you’re listening to, with super dense guitar-rock arrangements; angular leads flying over-head while a revolving door of synth and bass pours out churning subsections. It’s a record to go insane to, it’s a record to fall asleep to, and it’s probably a record to make really awkward love to.

“Square Wave Cave” progresses with an ominous guitar squeal reminiscent of Menomena’s “The Pelican.” As the fifth track on “Forest Field,” it acted as my first flashbulb moment of the night. The riff hit, the chorus sank, and something huge resonated. Two songs later, “Vicious Cycle of Life” opens with a sharp, arpegiated guitar and hushed female vocals. It’s the album’s only real come-down moment, before dropping into the reverbed drive of “Argentine Pears.” That resonance I mentioned from “Square Wave Cave”? It exploded with “Argentine Pears,” particularly due to the strange time and the chord change at 1:20. I’m a sucker for inexplicably captivating chord changes.

I’m sort of writing this on the fly, because I don’t want to think too hard. I think it might permanently hurt my brain. Get into it.

From Forest Field:

XDS – Square Wave Cave

XDS – Vicious Cycle of Life

XDS – Argentine Pears

2 responses so far

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