The New Amerykah…

(Song of the Day – 3/28/08)

I was hangin with a friend of mine the other day when he mentioned the new Erykah Badu album (New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War). I realized that I completely forgot. Actually, I’m about a month off…

Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, can let her soul out onto a recording like Badu. Her raw and unfiltered inner voice is shared with every listener creating an intimate, soulful and real connections.
Badu, while definitely holding her place within the music community has released an extremely strong set of albums that have been, in my opinion, grossly overrated over the past 10 years. Since Baduizm, her power as a poet and musician has grown. Badu exudes powerful feminine energy and continues to be a symbol of the strength of her community, be it women, black or simply a child of this world. Listening to her music does not make me feel better as a critic, but rather, it brings me to the level… and the connection is real.

For her latest masterwork, Badu strays away from the live soul setup to favor a studio approach, bringing in a wide variety of talented producers from across the spectrum. Personal favorites like Madlib, 9th Wonder and ?uestlove are joined by trip-masters Sa-Ra to create what is both real and other-worldly all at once. Dealing with “the issues”with such grace and integrity, Badu has it all contained. Never afraid to be progressive, Erykah Badu brings it once again. Syncopation and downtempo grooves flood the deep and layered tracks in such a way that many have been turned off by its esoteric nature, but the more time you spend with it, the more interesting it becomes.

MP3: Erykah Badu – “The Cell”

MP3: Erykah Badu – “The Healer/Hip-Hop”

MP3: Erykah Badu – “Soldier” | MySpace | HypeMachine

Pick up New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War: BandWear | iTunes | Amazon | Insound

After listening to the album I was truly hooked on her feel, her sound and her attitude once again. Then a friend of mine turned me on to her latest VH1 SoulStage performance I was totally in love. If you can treat yourself to one music-related activity today, hang out with this show. Back again in the live situation Badu explains that recording is “perfecting a moment” while live “is creating a moment.” You can feel the energy and the group is soooo tight that they shift tempo and structure on the fly, all in stride. It is one of the best performances I’ve seen online and makes me want to do whatever it takes so see her live. Please, PLEASE check it out. It is nothing short of beautiful.

If Erykah Badu is proof of anything, it is the power of real, honest music. Enjoy.


Check out the rest of the set HERE.

She is, without a doubt, one of the strongest, sexiest women alive… fake fro and all.

Jim Ward- Quiet


Now that Sparta is on hiatus, I guess the only thing Jim Ward could do was write a solo acoustic EP. In case you’re unfamiliar with him, Jim Ward (nope, no relation to M. Ward) was the singer/guitarist for both Sparta and At The Drive-In. Though Sparta’s music was more rooted alternative rock and post-hardcore, Ward’s solo EP Quiet is full of simplistic, folk-based acoustic pop songs, a la fellow post-hardcore frontman-turned-acoustic artist Dustin Kensrue. I am personally a huge fan of Ward’s voice in Sparta and his emotional croons work just as well over acoustic. Check out the tracks and pick up Quiet if you have a chance.


mp3: “Coastlines”

mp3: “Mystery Talks”


Myspace | iTunes | Amazon

Stream the New R.E.M. Album “Accelerate”

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Hey everyone, you can steam the new R.E.M. album on R.E.M. were an important band for me in my discovery of music. I remember listening to Automatic for the People and Out of Time over and over again during middle school. It wasn’t until recently that I decided to listen more deeply into their other albums and although I haven’t listened to their album before Accelerate, I really enjoy this new albu; it’s definitely rockin’.

I don’t know how much longer it will be available to stream, so hurry up and listen.

Song of the Day – 3/21/08

WORD: “Hi this is Carl from Arrah and the Ferns. Thanks for the kind words, i’m glad you liked it. I just wanted to let you and everyone know that, sadly, we just broke up and will not be releasing a sophopmore album. We’re all continuing to make music in various other projects. Check out our myspace blogs for more info.thanks again, it means a lot

Looking at upcoming releases this year, I realized that the sophomore album by Muncie, Indiana’s own Arrah & the Ferns would be dropping in just two months. It was good reason to get their 2006 debut, Evan is a Vegan, back out and give it a listen. I forgot how happy this is.

Arrah & the Ferns enjoyed limited commercial success afterwards, but maintained a satisfying impact on the music community with their upbeat indie-pop. Co-Lead singer Arrah Fisher’s voice is exactly that sound whose sonic structure makes the corners of your lips curl and injects a bit of sunshine in yr step.

The sound of a Rhodes is the perfect accompaniment to Fisher’s poetic lyrics as well as the swelling mandolins and guitars that bring the folk element cleanly into the mix. Not to be understated, Arrah and the Ferns are more than just a pop group. Pay attention to the subtleties and be rewarded. On the whole, Evan is a Vegan is not the contemplative, philosophical breakthrough that the world needs to hear, but its optimism, energy and wonder make it the perfect album to fill that “Boner Jamz 08: Happy Sunshine Rainbows” mixtape you want to give to your cute quazi-indie hipster girlcrush who works at that one coffee shop…

I loved Evan is a Vegan and can’t wait for May 2008’s All The Bad In One Place.

MP3: Arrah and the Ferns – “Science Books”

Home | MySpace | Hype Machine | Standard Recording Company (Audio, Media, Press)

Support Arrah and the Ferns: iTunes | Amazon | Standard Recording Company | eMusic


MP3: Arrah and the Ferns – “Bernadette”

MP3: Arrah and the Ferns – “Emo Phillips”

Here’s a video of em on Letterman:


Be forewarned: This is going to Be a Long Title. These United States – A Picture of the Three of Us at The Gate to the Garden of Eden

The DC music scene used to be known mostly for its punk in the 90’s, and only those familiar with the city know just how much things have changed. Up and coming bands like These United States are proof to all those skeptics out there that the DC scene is in no way, shape or form like it used to be.

The band’s debut album, A Picture of the Three of Us at The Gate to the Garden of Eden (as used herein, “the album”), deserves your immediate attention. Their soulful alternative, folk album will bring to mind the likes of M. Ward, Devendra Banhart, and Okkervil River. I have listened through “the album” a few dozen times, and only love it more and more upon each spin.

I dig the short Preface at the beginning of “the album;” it starts out almost as spoken word and gets the listener ready to jump into the deep end, with “First Sight,” and “Kings and Acres,” among the most solid tracks on “the album.” I can’t stop listening to “Burn this Bridge.” The African influenced drumbeat is awesome, and the passion in Elliott’s voice makes it one of the most uplifting songs I have heard in a long time. I can listen to every track between “Diving Boards Pointed at the Sky” and “Slow Crows Over” over and over again. They are all fantastic. You really can’t go wrong with any song on “the album.” The instrumentals scattered across A Picture of…”the album” are sometimes so passive that each listen differs slightly from the previous one.


Jesse Elliott, the lead singer behind These United States is one of the coolest cats you’ll come across. I met up with him a month or two ago, and quickly got a feel for his diversified background. He is creative, funny, and genuinely interested in those around him. I could tell from my modest conversation with him that he knows lots of people in lots of places, which, of course, makes sense after hearing that over 30 musicians from Chicago and DC helped out with “the album.” Just check out the pics on the TUS blog; I feel like you can get a vibe for what kind of guy Elliott is.

David Strackany, aka Paleo, is part of These United States, and may be best known for his 365 songs in 365 days project. Another admirable thing TUS currently has going on is a 33 day US tour where they play with a different local band in every city they hit (a highlight for me is that they are playing with Bon Iver). That’s the creativeness I’m talking about— getting that schedule together couldn’t have been as easy task. These United States’ innovative music is that much more innovative after you check out their site, myspace, and blog; I haven’t found one band that has managed themselves this well.  Check to see if they are touring near you, I can’t wait for their return show at the Black Cat on April 13th.


Site | iTunes | Amazon | Amie St | Myspace |Day Trotter | Learn Your Geography

Sun Kil Moon- April


Unless you’re like me and have been anticipating Sun Kil Moon’s new record April, due out April 1st on Caldo Verde, since January, now would be the appropriate time to get pumped. In case you’re not familiar, Sun Kil Moon is a folk group fronted by Mark Kozelek of Red House Painters fame and April will be Sun Kil Moon’s first original music since the 2003 release of their debut LP Ghosts Of The Great Highway. Ghosts Of The Great Highway bore some similarities to the Red House Painters; Kozelek’s signature croon over introspective and intricate guitar lines. But the album leaned more towards folk than anything the Painters had done, with more of an acoustic feel and spectacular lyrics that focus around various famous boxing champions.


4 years, an album of Modest Mouse covers and a Ghost Of The Great Highway re-release later, April is born. The album, which you can stream in full from their myspace, is truly breathtaking and will not fail to disappoint eager fans. Take the opener, “Lost Verses,” an ambitious 10 minute acoustic masterpiece whose noodling guitars and high pitched moans establish the traditional Sun Kil Moon sound, while sounding richer and bolder than anything on Ghosts Of The Great Highway. “Harper Road” is delicately intimate and short but sweet while “Tonight The Sky” is full of dirty, distorted electric guitars and dissonant lead guitar work. The album is simply stunning, showcasing Kozelek’s beautiful voice and superb guitar playing. I can’t say that there’s anything that new here, the songs stick to the Ghosts Of The Great Highway formula of acoustic ballads and the occasional gritty electric song, but the album just has a bold, mature and full sound that I think can be appreciated by fans of Kozelek or just folk music in general. So do yourself a favor and pre-order April and catch Sun Kil Moon on their summer tour. It will make your April Fool’s Day all the more enjoyable.


Stream April On Myspace


From Ghosts Of The Great Highway:

mp3: Gentle Moon

mp3: Glenn Tipton


Official Site | Amazon | iTunes

Guvna – The Guvna Dub Sessions


I thought I would mix it up today and share with you some dub reggae that I think is unbelievable – specifically the Boston-based Guvna who are a side project of the much-acclaimed reggae band John Brown’s Body. A little while ago, they released an album of bass and drum driven awesomeness created largely by Scott Palmer (the bassist from JBB) and titled The Guvna Dub Sessions. Palmer died of cancer somewhat recently, and it is my understanding that this album was finished and released posthumously after three years of tweaking the songs, and represents some of his last work. I saw most of the album performed a while ago when they opened up for the Easy Star All Stars, and they completely blew me away… the mix was unbelievable… soul shaking grooves with ear-drum shattering ambient noise cutting through from the two DJs scratching in the back. It’s hard to explain exactly, but it suffices to say I’ve never before heard a room filled with sound quite like that. Dub is certainly an acquired taste, but give this album a chance, and I’m sure you will love it. Here’s a few tracks:

The Guvna Dub Sessions – Karmageddon

The Guvna Dub Sessions – Rolling Dub

The Guvna Dub Sessions – Me No Bow

iTunes | Myspace | Amazon

Song of the Day – 3/14/08

Hey everyone, sorry about yesterday’s “Post.” The Internet went out here and I couldnt Upload this post. Sorry about that. I love you all.

Hailing from The U.K., the Matinee Orchestra were a nice treat today. As I’ve come to find, this band has been the subject of a lot of critical praise, though no one really knows where they stand.

Aurgasm classifies them as “Laptop Folk” or “Avant Pop,” Now, if you’re like me and confused as all hell by the systematic genre-ization (?) of EVERYTHING, then let this be an undefinable curveball in your musical batter’s box.

“Fusion” is the best way to describe The Matinee Orchestra’s adventures into the world of sound. Combining pretty much everything from orchestral nuance to layers of echoing tape static, they could just as well be considered electronic and acoustic, progressive and traditional. A musical-impressionism of sorts, the group definitely “Makes it New.” I had a little trouble digging up substantial info on the guys, but leaving them as an enigma is just as good. I would recommend this for fans of everyone from the Album Leaf to Bjork. Take a nice long listen:

MP3: The Matinee Orchestra – “Imagination of a Watermelon”

MP3: The Matinee Orchestra – “Hide & Seek”

MP3: The Matinee Orchestra – “Run For Cover (It’s Going To Rain)”

Buy their Self-Titled Album | MySpace

Show & Album Review: Born Ruffians

A week ago, I had the chance to see the Toronto band Born Ruffians perform at DC9. I listened through their new album Red, Yellow and Blue (Warp Records) several times throughout the weeks prior to the show, but other than that, didn’t know a whole lot about the band. I was surprised how young all three of the band members are, and they had the physical appearance of any typical high school band. The main difference though is that they played like they have been doing this for a long, long time. I had a great time watching the Born Ruffians perform and encourage you to check out their site to see if they are touring near you.

Clap Your Hands comes to mind when listening to the Born Ruffians, mainly because of Luke LaLonde’s distinct voice, that can at times be comparible to Alec Ounsworth, but I like them more than Clap Your Hands. Their music is some of the best indie rock I have heard recently, and while at first I thought this was an album I would only occasionally listen to, the catchy songs have only been growing more and more on me. With the combination of instrumentals, lead vocals, and doo-wop back-up vocals their music give off a 1950’s vibe that makes them stand out from the masses of indie rock being produced today.


First music video (Hummingbird)

Even though I am not typically one who particularly likes Pitchfork’s overwrought reviews, I really enjoyed reading their review of this album. Pitchfork Contributor Stuart Berman made some great points:

Arriving in Toronto three years ago from the nearby town of Midland, on paper Born Ruffians seemed antithetical to the prevailing group-hug atmosphere: they boast no auxiliary horn or string sections, no spotlight-stealing guest female singers, no balaclava-clad dancers– just three unassuming kids in standard guitar/bass/drums formation.

It is impressive how much the band has going on at one time, given that there are only three of them. They have a much more simple dynamic than most of the stand-out bands coming out of Canada, yet are able to do so much with the basic formation they have. At the show, my favorite part was watching Mitch DeRosier (bass) and Steve Hamelin (drums) sing back-up vocals. Mitch showed a lot of passion on bass and vocals and was jumping all over the place on the small stage at DC9.

On a side note, I don’t know what has been up with Canada, but one good band after another keeps popping up out of the country. Talk about an act of terror, US! What are we going to do about this? Can we really accept not being the number one country producing today’s best music? We need to up the ante. Any suggestions? All I’ve come up with is improving our music programs, er, bombing Canada.

Born Ruffians – I Need A Life

Born Ruffians РLittle Gar̤on

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