The Hold Steady – Constructive Summer

Hold Steady Live

“Constructive Summer” is the lead song off the Hold Steady’s fourth and soon to be released (July 15h) album, Stay Positive. The Hold Steady is unabashed in their reverence for Springsteen, someone I never got into, but an influence easily appreciated in their sound. Their songs are sincerely melodramatic, turning even the most mundane adolescent memories into epic victories or hallmark stories, typically laced among fluid piano breakdowns and sharp, classic-rock guitar solos. The hooks are huge, and the stories even bigger.

The song opens: “Me and my friends are like/the drums on Lust For Life/We pound it out on floor toms/Our songs are sing along songs” amid overdriven power chords and intricate, angular guitar spurts. It’s a one two punch to the adrenaline gland. They’re drinking on top of water towers and raising toasts to “saint Joe Strummer,” doing everything I’ve always romanticized as summer.

As my first official post with indiemuse, I’d like to share it with you. And if you dig this sound, grab a copy of Boys and Girls in America, and work from there.

m4a: “Constructive Summer” – The Hold Steady

From their first album, The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me

“Certain Songs” – The Hold Steady



Site | MySpace | Amazon

Vandaveer – Grace & Speed


Several months ago I featured These United States, and mentioned how much the DC scene is changing from the punk scene it used to be known for. The new alternative/folk scene emerging is really exciting to witness. Gypsy Eyes Records is among the  best independent labels in DC, and carries many of the artists that are changing the way DC, and the rest of the world, experiences music.

One of their signed musicians, Mark Charles Heidinger, a.k.a Vandaveer, is worth your attention. I’ve been listening to his 2007 release, Grace and Speed, pretty much non-stop recently. It’s great folk music for just sitting back and hanging out. When I’m looking for something a little lighter to listen to than Nick Drake, I put on Vandaveer. Mark has a gift for story telling, and really pleasant vocals. His new sound draws a nice distance from his former rock band, The Apparitions. Tracks like “However Many Times It Takes” are bound to bring Dylan to mind.

Every song on this album, besides “2nd best” which I don’t care for all that much,  is stellar. I can’t even give you a list of my favorites, they are all fantastic. Other album reviews bring to light how the first half of the album has much more solid lyrics than the second half, but I don’t necessarily think that has to be viewed as a flaw with the album. Heidinger shows a lot of song-writing talent, much more than the average musician. Though some songs are better written than others, it doesn’t make his songs bad in any sense, some are just less lyrically based.

Vandaveer is currently on tour with There United States (who he is involved with) in the UK. Go to their site to check out their tour dates.

Grace & Speed (2007)

Vandaveer – However Many Takes It Takes

Vandaveer – Grace & Speed

Live Performances:

Vandaveer – The Streets is Full of Creeps

Site | Myspace | iTunes |Amazon


The Federal Reserve


I wrote this after seeing the Federal Reserve, a collective of established, and like-minded alternative/folk musicians,  perform on June 2nd at Iota in Arlington, VA. They played acoustic sets, and used basic folk instruments (including the chair for percussion). Not gonna lie, I was a little  tipsy when I wrote this, and it’s advisable that you just skip down to the bottom. You’ve been forewarned!

Tonight, I saw the face of music. Music is when a group of friends decide to play together for no other reason then to play. Music is when there are no backstage’s or VIP’s. When there are no tickets or merchandise. Music is when there is no order. When there is no formula.  No sets. No expectations. Just music. Music doesn’t tolerate bureaucracy. It sure knows how to disguise itself, but it’s not music. Not fully.

Music allows for mistakes. It allows you to make a fool of yourself. If it doesn’t, then it’s worth asking why it’s being done. Is it for fame or fortune?

Music is entrapped. It’s asked to be freed. It wants to be listened to. Piracy concerns are concerns of fools.

In today’s world, it’s difficult for music to be music. The demand can’t be that pure. Musicians need to eat. Label execs need to buy luxury cars.  But that doesn’t mean all has been lost. Not after nights like tonight.

Thank you Federal Reserve for showing me the face of music.

 The Federal Reserve collective is made up of These United States, Vandaveer,  Kitty Hawk, Revival, Brandon Butler, Rose, Let’s French, and more. They play the first Monday of every month at Iota, and their tour schedules usually dictate who shows up. Mark Charles Heidinger, of Vandaveer, explains that the idea of a collective formed after “several of us relocated from parts all over and thought a collective of some sort might ground the group in the scene and serve as a mutual launching pad.” Several bands from the collective have been signed to DC’s Gypsy Eyes Records and a Federal Reserve compilation can be purchased from their store.

These United States -  First Sight | Site

Vandaveer – However Many Takes It Takes | Site

Kitty Hawk – Move Me | Myspace 

Brandon Butler – Sparks | Site

Revival – Hollywood | Myspace

My Morning Jacket – Bonnaroo 2008

On Monday, I got back from another jam-packed Bonnaroo. The music was great, the weather was great (for the most part), and I had a great time catching up with close buddies of mine.

My three favorite performances were: My Morning Jacket, Broken Social Scene, and The Raconteurs. Nomo definitely deserves an honorary mention.

My Morning Jacket played one hell of a show.  They played close to a four hour set from 12 to 4 am. It rained a tad bit during the show, which led to some technical difficulties, but it was nonetheless, amazing. The rain  was magical. It felt like the Truman show where the soundboard was controlling the drizzle/pouring down rain. Comedian Zach Galifianakis’ drunken appearance at the end put the icing on the cake (see video below).

MMJ did a Velvet Underground cover of “Oh! Sweet Nuthin'” that is among the best covers I’ve ever heard.  Below is a recording of it that isn’t the best quality, but hasn’t stopped me from listening to it over and over again. Check out MMJ tonight on Conan!

Here is a short video of MMJ playing Roo. It’s pretty neat, and captures how awesome this show was.



Zach Galifianakis’ MMJ Cameo

 Over the next few weeks we will be sharing more about Bonnaroo. For those of you who were there, tell us who you saw! What were your favorite Bonnaroo moments?

This is who I saw: Newton Faulker, MGMT, Battles, Zach Galifianakis, Nomo, Drive By Truckers, Umphrey’s McGee, Stephen Marley, The Raconteurs, M.I.A, Chris Rock, My Morning Jacket, Tiesto, The Disco Biscuits, B.B King, Iron & Wine, Jack Johnson, Pearl Jam, Rogue Wave, Orchestra Baobab, Yonder Mountain String Band, Phil Lesh, Broken Social Scene,and Derek Trucks.

Live At Bonnaroo 2008

My Morning Jacket – Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ (Velvet Underground)


Velvet Underground – Oh! Sweet Nuthin’

Bonnaroo Site | My Morning Jacket Site

Silje Nes

Silje Nes is a Norwegian singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who makes very delicate and beautiful electro-acoustic music. Her songs are simple yet intricate with soft vocals and a wide selection of instruments (all of which she plays). Sometimes experimental, sometimes poppy, Silje has a way of taking small sounds and realizing their full potential into whimsical collages of sonic art. The three tracks I’ve posted aren’t enough to represent her debut album “Ames Room”. The album is full of great music and I recommend you check out the rest of it here.

Starting out by working purely instrumentally, Silje made use of whatever equipment she could get hold of – guitars and an old synth, a cello, a drum kit, a laptop, as well as loop pedals to build layers of her own playing. Little by little she also found ways of including her own voice in the mix, both as texture and song, and her music has organically evolved from there.

– Fatcat Records

Silje Nes is for fans of múm, Amiina, and Tunng.

MP3: Silje Nes – Drown
MP3: Silje Nes – Ames Room
MP3: Silje Nes – Escape

MySpace | Fatcat Records |

Speedmarket Avenue

If you’re looking for some melody driven jangly indie pop from Sweden then look no further. Speedmarket Avenue’s new release “Way Better Now” provides us with plenty of upbeat catchy songs. The band doesn’t break any new ground, but instead they refine what has already been done in the genre. This does not mean that they don’t have their own style; with several vocalists, the occasional trumpet solo, and diverse percussion, their songs are distinctive enough to set them apart from their contemporaries. They efficiently and effectively create precise pop music.  I recommend Speedmarket Avenue for fans of Jens Lekman, Belle and Sebastien, and Camera Obscura.

MP3: Speedmarket Avenue – Accident

MP3: Speedmarket Avenue – Way Better Now

MP3: Speedmarket Avenue – The State of Harmony

Video for “Way Better Now”


Website | MySpace | Elefant Records

Cryptacize – We’ll Never Dream Again

Today’s song of the day comes from Asthmatic Kitty’s Cryptacize. I’m a sap for alternating male and female vocals and this simple little song is a good example. The rubato arrangement of this song makes it very expressive along with its minimal instrumentation of electric guitar and drums. Here you can read label-mate Sufjan Steven’s review of the album.

They make music that is refreshingly coherent, stewed with deliberate melodies, a refinement of instrumentation, no excess, nothing wasted, nothing lost.

-Sufjan Stevens


MP3: Cryptacize – We’ll Never Dream Again

Here’s their tour schedule

Jun 17 2008 8:00P
The Hi-Tone Cafe w/ The Warble Memphis, Tennessee
Jun 18 2008 8:00P
The Exchange Hot Springs, Arkansas
Jun 19 2008 6:30P
The Mink w/ Black Snakes and Kangaroo *EARLY SHOW Houston, Texas
Jun 20 2008 8:00P
Kettle Art w/ Florene and Callupsie Dallas, Texas
Jun 21 2008 8:00P
The Mohawk w/ Jason Chronis and Devon Williams Austin, Texas
Jun 23 2008 8:30P
Solar Culture w/ Golden Boots Tuscon, Arizona
Jun 25 2008 8:00P
The Echo w/ Palms and Becky Stark (of Lavender Diamond) Los Angeles, California
Jul 2 2008 9:00P
Revolver Oslo, Norway
Jul 3 2008 8:00P
Egersund Visefestival Egersund, Norway
Jul 7 2008 8:00P
Engine Room Brighton
Jul 8 2008 8:00P
Bunkers Hill Nottingham
Jul 9 2008 8:00P
Kro Bar Manchester
Jul 10 2008 8:00P
Fenton Leeds
Jul 11 2008 8:00P
L’uminaire w/ Half-Handed Cloud and Lake London
Aug 15 2008 8:00P
40 Watt (Athens Popfest) Athens, Georgia
Aug 22 2008 9:30P
Chalet 2000 Charlotte, North Carolina

Website | MySpace

David Byrne’s Musical Building

This is amazing. David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) takes an old building in New York and hooks up an organ to different pipes and beams in the building. The sound reverberates throughout the entire building creating a giant sound installation. There are no amplifiers; all the sounds are made by the little motors vibrating the parts of the building via the organ.
Check out Byrne’s website for more information.
MP3: Talking Heads – This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)

Video Mix

Here’s a selection of videos from some of my favorite bands of the 90s. Some are music videos, some are live performances. I don’t think the Built to Spill performance is from the 90s, but the song is and that’s what’s important. I’ve also included an MP3 of each of the songs. Strange to think that in just 2 years we’ll be reminiscing about videos from the naughts (00s). Nearly all of these videos are 10 years old! Tell us your favorite videos from the 90s and we’ll make another post to re-share them with the world!


MP3: Built to Spill – Stop the Show (Live)


 Check out Built to Spill’s “Perfect from Now On” tour! I’ve already bought my ticket.





MP3: Pavement – Spit on a Stranger





MP3: The Flaming Lips – This Here Giraffe





MP3: Yo La Tengo – Sugarcube





MP3: Eels – Novocaine for the Soul





MP3: Radiohead – Fake Plastic Trees





MP3: Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea





MP3: Travis – Why Does It Always Rain On Me?

Port O’Brien

I first heard Port O’Brien opening for Rogue Wave back in October of 07, and at first I sort of brushed them aside as another indie band that would be forever opening for other indie bands, never quite able to break on through. After having listened to their album All We Could Do Was Sing, I feel bad for feeling that way. It wasn’t that their live show was unenthusiastic or fun to listen to, I had intentions to look them up after the show, but I never got around to it (maybe it was because Rogue Wave’s show was too awesome). The album is much fuller than what I remember of their live show; it has string arrangements, some sound clips of the ocean, and layered vocals. “When I Woke Up Today” was both the opening and closing song for their set. It sounded better the second time when the audience started to sing along, sounding more like it does on the record. Though I’m not sure of the nautical experience of Modest Mouse or the Decemberists, Port O’Brien seems to have some authentic experience as it is poignantly expressed in “Fisherman’s Son”.

Every summer, Van works on his father’s commercial salmon fishing boat, the Shawnee, on Kodiak Island in Alaska. The work is exhausting and the weather could be much better, but the contrast between the serenity of the wilderness and the rigorousness of the labor seem to cause quite a bit of musical inspiration.

– from their website

The album has its soft and delicate moments as in “Don’t Take My Advice” and its rockin’ out moments like in “Pigeonhold”, but it all works together in the end. Don’t be a fool like me and brush this band aside, give them a chance and I think you’ll enjoy them. Here are a few tracks for your listening pleasure:

MP3: Port O’Brien – I Woke Up Today

MP3: Port O’Brien – Fisherman’s Son

MP3: Port O’Brien – Don’t Take My Advice

Catch them live at one of these upcoming dates:

Jun 23 2008 7:00P
Brookdale Lodge w/ Black Francis (featuring some dude from some band called THE PIXIES) Santa Cruz, California
Jul 7 2008 8:00P
The Casbah w/ Builders and the Butchers San Diego, California
Jul 8 2008 8:00P
The Detroit Bar w/ Builders and the Butchers Costa Mesa, California
Jul 9 2008 8:00P
Muddy Waters w/ Builders and the Butchers ALL AGES Santa Barbara, California
Jul 10 2008 8:00P
Spaceland w/ Builders and the Butchers Los Angeles, California
Jul 11 2008 8:00P
Cafe Du Nord w/ Builders and the Butchers ALL AGES San Franciscoooooooo!, California
Aug 6 2008 8:00P
Cafe Montmartre w/ Bodies of Water Madison, WI
Aug 7 2008 8:00P
Schubas w/ Bodies of Water Chicago, IL
Aug 9 2008 8:00P
El Mocambo w/ Bodies of Water Toronto, ON ~ CANADA
Aug 10 2008 8:00P
Le Divan Orange w/ Bodies of Water Montreal, QC ~ CANADA
Aug 12 2008 8:00P
The Middle East Upstairs w/ Bodies of Water Cambridge, MA
Aug 13 2008 8:00P
Mercury Lounge w/ Bodies of Water New York, NY
Aug 15 2008 8:00P
Union Hall w/ Bodies of Water Brooklyn, NY
Aug 16 2008 8:00P
Johnny Brenda’s w/ Bodies of Water Philadelphia, PA
Aug 17 2008 8:00P
Black Cat Backstage w/ Bodies of Water Washington, DC
Aug 18 2008 8:00P
Cafe Bourbon St Annex w/ Bodies of Water Columbus, OH
Aug 19 2008 8:00P
Locals Only w/ Bodies of Water Indianapolis, IN
Sep 13 2008 2:00P
Monolith Festival @ Red Rocks! Denver, Colorado

Website | MySpace