Born Ruffians @ Rock and Roll Hotel, DC (10/24/08)

This past Friday, I had the pleasure of seeing the Born Ruffians perform at Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington, DC. I saw them several months ago, at a smaller venue here in DC, and they are doing a great job of fine-tuning their already solid performances.

The Toronto based trio is one of the best bands coming out of the music scene, and if you have the opportunity to see them live, I highly recommend you do so. The band has a basic formation of guitarist (Luke LaLonde), bassist (Mitch DeRosier), and drummer (Steve Hamelin), but you wouldn’t know it was that minimalist after listening to their album, Red, Yellow and Blue. They incorporate harmonies, hand claps, and doo-wop back-up vocals that bring a whole other element to their music.

At the show on Friday, the band tested out some new songs (after DeRosier got our permission), and they re-arranged some songs, like “Little Garçon,” which was a pleasant surprise for dedicated fans. There is no doubt in my mind that the next Born Ruffians album is going to be really solid, and that their fanbase is going to continue to grow. The band was baffled by how many people came out to the show, and Hamelin said near the end, “it really doesn’t make sense, we don’t get nearly this many people at other cities around here.”

The Indie Muse bump? I think so…

Born Ruffians – I Need A Life

Born Ruffians РLittle Gar̤on

Born Ruffians – Red, Yellow, & Blue (White Williams Mix) — via the leather canary

Nancy – Keep Cooler (Born Ruffians Remix)

site | myspace 

MTV Going Back To Its Roots

MTV has finally gone back to playing music videos, but only on their new website (which seems kind of redundant, Music Television Music). Regardless, they have tons of videos from the entire span of MTV’s existence. has a good amount of more indie videos, but if you’re looking for vintage videos to popular videos of today, then MTV Music is the place to go.To get you started, here’s some music videos by some of our favorite artists:


The Flaming Lips (there’s a great selection here)

Elliott Smith


Animal Collective

Built to Spill

Modest Mouse

Rogue Wave



The Flaming Lips Record NBC Jingle


The Flaming Lips will never “sell out”. No matter how many shitty movies they provide songs to or any TV shows they appear on they always maintain their musical philosophy. Because of this, I will listen to anything that The Lips do; I respect them too much to ignore anything they produce. NBC is getting a bunch of musicians to record the famous NBC jingle. Other artists include the B-52’s, T.I., B.B. King, and Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi. The Flaming Lips version will be the best for one big reason: Wayne Coyne’s double-necked guitar with Guitar Hero Kaoss pad controller. Wayne is able to criticize music games like Guitar Hero and make a really cool electronic instrument at the same time. No matter how good you are at Guitar Hero, you won’t ever be able to match the creative ingenuity of Wayne Coyne. 

Watch the behind the scenes video here.

MP3: The Flaming Lips – Halloween on the Barbary Coast (just because it’s seasonally appropriate)

Interview: Sky Larkin

Sky Larkin are new to the scene, signing to Witchita (which handles Conor Oberst, Broken Social Scene and Bloc Party, among others) earlier this year. I first met them in New York when our bands shared a bill at Pianos. It was their first time in New York and they had officially signed to Wichita a week prior. Almost immediately following the signing, they flew to New York for two shows and a video shoot.

Classifying them as brit-rock would be easy. It’s all there; jangly guitars, groovy, nearly danceable back beats and, um, their being a bunch Brits playing rock n’ roll. But then they dip into some Pavement-inspired dissonance, throw some delicate vocals over abrasive, ever-evolving guitar lines and use the bass and drums beat the hell out of the middle ground. And it all sounds so pretty. They’re the type of songs that make a walk to work an epic journey, or an ordinary dusk a romanticized cityscape. Listen to Sky Larkin and weave in and out of people on the sidewalk. It is a lot of fun.

They just returned from a three week European tour with Conor Oberst, and are embarking on another lengthy tour with friends Los Campesinos. In between all that craziness, lead singer/head-songwriter Katie Harkin found time to answer a few questions, via e-mail, about getting signed to Witchita, recording their album and getting fed by Conor Oberst’s crew. And below, way below, find some mp3s and the video for “Fossil, I,” shot in Brooklyn.

So, typical background questions: How long have you been a band/how did you meet?

We’ve been a fully fledged band for about 18 months. I started writing songs that would end up becoming Sky Larkin when I went to London to study but it was only when we all moved back to Leeds that things really got going.

You told me a little about recording your new album, somewhere in Seattle – how did you get hooked up with the studio? Was your label involved? Was there any pressure to record a certain type of album?

Wichita asked us what we wanted to do, and we wanted to work with John Goodmanson because we loved the sound of some of the music he had produced (Death Cab, Sleater Kinney, Blood Brothers, Bikini Kill). We had no pressure to record a certain type of anything! Wichita are a very artist-friendly label and they were interested to see what kind of noise we’d make together.

How did you become involved with Witchita? From what you told me, it sounded like a fairy tale story – is your experience at all typical for European bands? Is the label system there as fucked as it is here?

Well we only have our experience to reference, but out of the labels we spoke to, it seemed like no-one does it quite like Wichita! There are amazing labels out there so don’t lose heart!

Continue reading

Animal Collective’s Trippy New Album Art

Here’s the new album art for Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion which should be coming at us January 12th, 2009.


If your eyes are moving around, so do the little green footballs, but if you focus on one they stop! Shit’s crazy.

MP3: Animal Collective – Fireworks

MP3: Animal Collective – Grass

MP3: Animal Collective -  College
MySpace | MyAnimalHome

Another Unforgettable Name: Nick Drake (1948-1974)

During this time of remembering the one and only Elliott Smith, there is another musician worth bringing up, who is largely underrated and shares a similar aesthetic with Smith. His name is Nick Drake, and he’s been one of the primary musicians I’ve been listening to recently.  Though there isn’t really evidence that Drake had influence over Smith’s music, like some believe, there is no questioning that Drake helped formulate the minimalist style and emotional lyrics that draw so many people to Smith’s music.

Like Smith, Drake battled severe depression and died November 25, 1974, at the early age of 26, from an anti-depressant overdose. Unlike Smith, Nick didn’t experience much fame in his life, mainly because he was reclusive and reluctant to be interviewed, or play live. When he played live, he rarely spoke to his audience, and didn’t “perform” as much as play for himself, often taking several minutes between songs to retune his guitar. It’s wasn’t until recently, when Volkswagen licensed the song “Pink Moon” for one of their commercials, and his music was featured on popular soundtracks like Garden State, that Drake started getting the long overdue recognition that he deserves.

There are several reasons why I feel so attached to Nick Drake’s music. The most evident reason is that his music is among the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. His guitar strumming is incredible, and he would practice throughout the night, messing around with different arrangements and tunings. His voice and lyrics are mesmerizing, and Pink Moon may very well be my favorite album of all time.  Another reason I feel so close to Drake’s music is because of how real it is. Although Nick was a man of few words, he was able to release his deeply feelings through his music. He didn’t seem to care much about fame or fortune, and though he had no problem with his music being heard by others, he didn’t go out of his way to get it out there.

Many of his recordings were done in his home, and Family Tree, a recently released album featuring unreleased recordings from before his debut album (Five Leaves Left) are extremely intimate and include appearances from his sister and mom. Drake felt closest with his family,  and he spent the last years of his life at his parent’s home, as his depression continued to spiral down.

Nick Drake was a man of mystery, who no one will ever fully know or understand. It’s unclear whether Nick’s death was a suicide or accidental overdose, but Joe Boyd, Drake’s record producer, believes he was “making a desperate lunge for life rather than a calculated surrender to death.” Though there is no doubt that Drake’s family knew him better than any one else did, his music reveals a very personal side of him that can help listeners to get to know him better, even in his absence.

Five Leaves Left (1969):

Nick Drake – River Man

Nick Drake – ‘Cello Song

Nick Drake – The Thoughts of Mary Jane

Bryter Layter (1970):

Nick Drake – One of These Things First

Nick Drake – Fly

Pink Moon (1972):

Nick Drake – Pink Moon

Nick Drake – Place To Be

Nick Drake – Things Behind The Sun

Family Tree (2007):

Nick Drake – Blues Run The Game

Nick Drake – Day Is Done

Remembering Elliott Smith


Elliott Smith

August 6, 1969- October 21, 2003


On October 21, 2003, Elliott Smith took his own life and cut short the career of one of the most talented singer-songwriters of all time. Smith battled depression, drug addiction and alcoholism throughout his short but influential career, but still managed to create some of the most beautiful, emotionally touching music of the last few decades. Smith’s intricate acoustic compositions and blend of folk, pop and rock has made the music from all of his 6 albums timeless and his music has both inspired and influenced hundreds of musicians today. Five years ago today, the world lost an amazing musician too early. I hope you all will join me in remembering Elliott Smith today. Rest in peace Elliott.


mp3: “No Name #3” from Roman Candle
mp3: “Clementine” from Elliott Smith
mp3: “2:45 A.M.” from Either/Or
mp3: “Baby Britain” from XO
mp3: “Junk Bond Trader” from Figure 8
mp3: “Memory Lane” from From A Basement On A Hill
mp3: “Whatever (Folk Song In C)” from New Moon


The Shivers – CMJ/West Coast Tour Dates

meet stud, the shivers’ new mascot.

I’ve spent a lot of my time recently listening to the New York City based band, The Shivers. We’ve featured both their 2008 release, Beaks To The Moon, and 2004 release, Charades, on the site before, and every so often I go through a phase where I only want to listen to their music.

Keith Zarriello, The Shivers front man, has some of the most honest and poetic music you’ll ever come across. I absolutely love it. As I mentioned in a previous post, they do a great job of balancing the familiar with the unfamiliar both lyrically and instrumentally. Their song “Beauty” off Charades is one of the most beautiful and meaningful songs I’ve ever heard. Newer songs off Beaks to The Moon are fantastic, as well (especially “Lonely Road,” “Feather,” and “Love is Good.”)

The Shivers have a CMJ show coming up Oct 23 at Pete’s Candy Store, and shortly after will be heading off to the west coast for a small tour. I have yet to see them live, but hopefully that will change in the not too distant future. Check out their Myspace for the tour dates. And don’t forget to support this great band, they are among today’s best independent acts.

The Shivers – Beauty

The Shivers – Lonely Road

Beaks to the Moon (2008):

The Shivers – Feather

The Shivers – Love Is Good

Charades (2004):

The Shivers – L.I.E.

The Shivers – SoHo Party (This is an example of the diversity I’m talking about. And the song turns into a really cool Cat Stevens cover. Can you dig it?)

Phone Calls (2007):

The Shivers – The Road

Site| Amazon | iTunes | Myspace | 911 Truth (this ones for you, Keith)

Jack White & Alicia Keys – “Another Way To Die”


Jack White and Alicia keys recently produced a really solid theme song for the upcoming 2008 James Bond film, Quantum of Solace. This song has White’s name written all over it, and it is really awesome. The fact that the White Stripes/Raconteurs member’s compositions are so minimalist, but still recognizable, goes to show just how talented of a musician he really is.

You may have heard part of “Another Way To Die” in instrumental form in a new coke zero ad. Apparently, White wasn’t thrilled that people first heard the song in a commercial. A statement from his management says:

“Jack White was commissioned by Sony Pictures to write a theme song for the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, not for Coca-Cola. Any other use of the song is based on decisions made by others, not by Jack White. We are disappointed that you first heard the song in a co-promotion for Coke Zero, rather than in its entirety.”

In other news, Coke Zero will become “Coke Zero Zero Seven” to promote the movie. Yum.

Coke Zero Commercial:


Here’s a trailer for Quantum of Solace.

Another Way to Die (2008):

Jack White & Alicia Keys -  Another Way to Die

Jack White & Alicia Keys -  Another Way to Die (Instrumental)

The Mountain Goats Release Choose Your Own Price EP


The Mountain Goats, the alias of singer-songwriter John Darnielle, released The Satanic Messiah EP on October 9th via their website and in their best Radiohead impression have included the option of paying for the EP if you feel it necessary. The EP will also be released as a extremely limited double 7″(only 665 copies being sold, Darnielle will get the 666th). The Mountain Goats released their 16th album Heretic Pride on 4AD in February. I haven’t downloaded the EP yet but I know I’ll be donating, Darnielle is one of the most talented songwriters of our time and I’m sure the EP will be fantastic. In the meantime, I urge all of you to download the album and donate a few dollars if you’re feeling gracious, at the very least to send the message of support to artists giving their fans the option to pay.

Download The Satanic Messiah EP


mp3: “Peacocks” from Tallahassee