Caribou- Andorra (2007)


Lately, I’ve been jamming Caribou’s 2007 album Andorra. Caribou is the stage name for Daniel V. Snaith, who produces and composes all of the music on Andorra. Snaith started out in 2000 recording under the name Manitoba, but legal troubles forced the adaptation of the name Caribou. Snaith has released two albums under the new name, 2005’s The Milk Of Human Kindness and 2007’s Andorra. I can’t offer any insight to his first LP, as I have never heard it, but Andorra is an impressively eclectic collection of music. The album’s first track, “Melody Day,” is full of echoing piano plunks, frantic drum rolls, and Snaith’s ethereal vocals that sound almost identical to the late Elliott Smith. “After Hours” starts off with swirling guitar before breaking into a psychedelic mix of wah, loud drum cymbals and Snaith’s once again stunning vocal performance. Snaith’s musical prowess shows continuously throughout the album as he masterfully blends pop melodies over a mix of folk, electronica and psychedelia. If your are a fan of Beach House, Atlas Sound or Grizzly Bear, look no further than Caribou’s Andorra (forgot to mention, the album was the winner of the 2008 Polaris Music Prize) and here’s to hoping Snaith returns in 2008.


mp3: “Sandy”
mp3: “Irene”


Myspace | iTunes | Official Site

The Fruit Bats Come Out of Hiding With New Album / Tour


I have a confession: The Fruit Bats are one of my very favorite bands, and each year they go without releasing a new album, I grow more depressed. We are at three years now, and let’s just say that a fourth year would make life unbearable. Eric Johnson, the main fruit bat, became a member of The Shins a few years ago, and I thought they were going to kidnap him for good. Well, it turns out that Johnson longs for The Fruit Bats just as much as me, maybe even more, and has decided to come back and release an album next year! He says in his first post on his brand new blog:

After three years or so, Fruit Bats are back in the saddle. I spent the last couple of years playing in The Shins (a fine day job if there ever was one), but I’m back in full force with the first love of my musical life. Songs have been written. Recording dates have been written in permanent ink. To prove that I’m serious about this, Fruit Bats will be touring the west coast of the United States of America. How ‘bout it? Other parts of the country, as well as other nations, will be visited later in the year.

The Fruit Bats don’t have nearly the recognition they deserve. Johnson is incredibly talented, and whether he is making catchy, upbeat melodies (“When U Love Somebody”), folk tunes (“Rainbow Sign”), or compositions,  he blows it out of the water nearly every single time. I really hope someone asks him to score a movie some day–just take a listen to “Track Rabbits” below.

In 1999, Eric Johnson formed The Fruit Bats in Chicago. There has been a rotation of over 25 different band members, believe it or not, but currently members backing Johnson include Graeme Gibson, Chris Sherman, and Sam Wagster. They are signed to Sub Pop and are now based out of Seattle.  I had to go back into the archives to find this, but a few years ago Johnson wrote a funny post entitled, “My Other Career Options If This Whole Music Thing Doesn’t Eventually Pan Out.”

Mouthfuls (2003):

Fruit Bats – Rainbow Sign

Fruit Bats – When U Love Somebody

Fruit Bats – Track Rabbits

Spelled In Bones (2005):

Fruit Bats – Lives Of Crime

Fruit Bats – The Wind That Blew My Heart Away

Echolocation (2001):

Fruit Bats- Glass In Your Feet

Fruit Bats – Coal Age

Site | Myspace

Tour dates:

Jan 27 2009     JOHN HENRY’S               EUGENE, Oregon
Jan 29 2009    LUIGI’S FUN GARDEN     SACRAMENTO, California
Jan 30 2009    BOTTOM OF THE HILL    SAN FRANCISCO, California
Jan 31 2009     CELLAR DOOR              VISALIA, California
Feb 2 2009       THE CASBAH                 SAN DIEGO, California
Feb 3 2009        THE ECHO                     LOS ANGELES, California
Feb 5 2009        THE IKE BOX                SALEM, Oregon
Feb 6 2009        MISSION THEATER      PORTLAND, Oregon
Feb 7 2009        THE VERA PROJECT     SEATTLE, Washington

The Walkmen – In The New Year

I know this album came out a little while ago, but I just heard it for the first time and “In The New Year” might be the quintessential Walkmen song. It takes everything great about their albums – the triumphant hooks, the jangly guitars, the Saturday night swagger – and mashes them all together in one enormous shout from the rooftops moment.

It starts off unassuming, the guitars drowned in reverb and sounding like a soft fall through a layer of buoyant cloud. Singer Hamilton Leithauser floats over the melody seconds into the song, crooning like Dylan but strutting like Sinatra. And the chorus hits: the lilting keyboards are confirmation and celebration of the lyrics – “I’m just like you, I never hear the bad news,” followed by the broken waltz of a sparkling crescendo. It’s a confession, it’s rejoicing.

This album sometimes sounds like observing gangsters disposing of a body on a foggy night, other times like falling in love across a crowded room. It takes several listens for the Walkmen’s progressions to make sense, but on that one listen when the planets align and the chords fit, it’s a revelation.

And from Bows + Arrows: I used to listen to “The Rat” at maximum volume before going out every weekend. Ideal preparation music for a massive night.

From You & Me:

The Walkmen – In the New Year

From Bows + Arrows:

The Walkmen – The Rat

And the video for their song “Little House of Horrors,” also from Bows + Arrows:



Christmas On Mars Game


The Flaming Lips have a new game that you can play on their Christmas on Mars website right HERE. You get to throw some strange looking things at Wayne’s alien head floating in a bubble. It’s not the most exciting game in the world, but there is some cool footage of the movie spliced in between levels and that’s enough for me to play it. The DVD and soundtrack have already been released. I haven’t seen it yet, but if you have, let us know in the comments. I will watch/listen to anything that the Flaming Lips create, so I’m pretty psyched.




MP3: The Flaming Lips – Once Beyond Hopelessness

MP3: The Flaming Lips – In Excelsior Vaginalistic




Interview: Maps & Atlases


Recently, Dave and I got a chance to sit down with Chicago’s Maps And Atlases after their show at the Black Cat with Nurses and Rahim. I started by asking about the noticeable change in sound from their first EP Trees, Swallows, Houses to their new one You And Me And The Mountain, guitarist/vocalist Dave Davison and bassist Shiraz Dada agreed in saying that “doing the first EP had helped [the band] realize which elements [they] wanted to focus on.”

Although the band has released two EPs since their conception in 2004, they have yet to release a full length. When we asked them about that decision, drummer Chris Hainey told us that the band was happy with their decision, noting heavy touring and their always changing sound as reasons why a full length might have felt rushed and ultimately not as solid as another EP.

The band made their start after meeting at Colombia College in Chicago and grew up in a music scene that Davison described as “intensely local” because of the bonds that certain bands share despite contrasting musical styles. The eclectic mix of music coming from Chicago is certainly represented in the band’s unique combination of highly technical instrumentation and bouncy pop melodies. Dada cited Television as a big influence while Davison named David Bowie and The Talking Heads. The band even tackled some more profound questions, particularly when Dave asked about the internet and its effect on music. Davison found merit in the ability for new bands to have their music accessible to anyone in the world and also mentioning that the band never got their cliché “big break” and that the internet allowed them to gain popularity and made their plans to be a full time band a reality. Dada agreed in saying that, “this show wouldn’t have happened fifteen years ago,” thanks to exposure from things like the internet. The two agreed on the fact that the internet has accelerated the development of new music and made it harder for one single band to “rule for ten years.”

As for the age-old question “2pac or Biggie?,” the two remained split.  In addition to being great musicians, the members of the band were truly a funny, sincere and intelligent bunch of guys and I can’t wait to see them again in D.C. Check out Maps & Atlases new EP You And Me And The Mountain on Sargent House Records and check them out if they ever come to your neck of the woods.


From You And Me And The Mountain:

mp3: “Ted Zancha”

From Trees, Swallows Houses:

mp3: “Every Place Is A House”


Myspace | Official Site | iTunes

Interview: Sarah Moody of Hardly Art

(pictured above, Sarah Moody spilling a bowl of cereal all over her lap)

Sarah Moody is the General Manager of Hardly Art, a fledgling label founded by Sub Pop early last year. Already they have a roster of six national bands, and boast international distribution extending to the U.K. and New Zealand. Sarah co-manages the label with General Employee Nick Heliotis, who, with a little help from neighbors Sub Pop, run the day-to-day operations. And although Hardly Art do share some resources with Sub Pop, as Sarah mentions below, they are two entirely different labels.

I first spoke with Sarah sometime over the summer when I did a profile on Pretty & Nice, and have since kept in touch with her for various reasons, all of which regarded my obsession with Get Young. (And you know, maybe sometimes I was just looking for a little conversation). So after a while, I figured, why not do an interview! She does cool things! And with music, no less!So here we have an interview with the (soon-to-be) illustrious Sarah Moody, dispelling myths about the relationship between Sub Pop and Hardly Art, illuminating the label’s origin, and generally talking about what it takes to be a wicked sweet record label.

To start things off, how did you get involved with Sub Pop, and how did that lead to your job at Hardly Art?

I interned at Sub Pop in ’04 with Steve Manning in the publicity department – I was a junior in college at the time, so the idea of being somehow involved (albeit unpaid) with one of my favorite labels was a dream come true. I moved to Seattle for the summer, and went in pretty much every day… it was basic stuff for the most part – helping out with mailings, putting together press kits, updating the press database, etc. – but I got to meet some great people and go to a ton of shows, so it seemed like a good deal to me. In the fall I had to go back to Minnesota to finish school, and the following spring I sent Steve an email asking if he’d need help again that summer (this is while attempting to decide whether to move to Chicago or Seattle) – he wrote back almost immediately, so I decided to head west. Shortly after, he offered me a part-time job as his assistant, which eventually led to me being hired full-time in Sub Pop’s publicity department. I was there for about a year and a half, until I was offered the chance to be involved with Hardly Art, and switched over to that job. It’s a classic case of good timing, for the most part.

What are you trying to do differently as president (is that your official title?) and what do you see in the future of Hardly Art?

My official title is General Manager, and Nick (Heliotis) is the General Employee. In terms of how Hardly Art is different as a label, we run on a net profit split system – which tends to be friendlier towards the artist – and our contracts are very fair and basic. We try to make that process as straightforward as possible. Given that there are only two of us in the office here, I like to think that we have a stronger bond with our artists than many larger labels would – we’re here to promote each project and help our bands figure out the game of putting out what tends to be their first record. It’s a pretty supportive system.

How does Hardly Art find their talent? Do you use scouts? How reliant are you on MySpace?

We’re generally on the lookout for bands, which can include anything from finding small web articles, to getting tipped off by a friend or another band, to catching smaller bands at shows… it’s all pretty random. There are a few people at Sub Pop involved in the A&R for Hardly Art, which definitely helps. I personally don’t rely on MySpace much, but I know others use it, or are able to find some crazy band circles/associations just based on filtering through top friends and such. We also receive a decent amount of demo submissions, though I’ve yet to be blown away by any of those.

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The Mountain Goats @ 9:30 Club, Washington DC (11/06/08)


Last Thursday, I had the chance to see The Mountain Goats perform live at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC. The show didn’t disappoint at all. I have a weird relationship with The Mountain Goats’ music, and they are one of my go to bands when I’m in a certain mood.  I usually like to listen to them by myself, so with that said, I wasn’t sure what to fully expect or how I would feel seeing them live. That’s probably why I enjoyed the beginning and the end, when the whole band was out, more than when Darnielle played solo, which was much more intimate (and of course, still great.)

Kaki King opened for the Mountain Goats, and played some duo’s with Darnielle, and later the rest of the band.  The two of them paired up recently to collaborate on an EP entitled Black Pear Tree. Darnielle says of the EP, “Kaki King and I, under a cloak of great secrecy, snuck into Baucom Road studios in western North Carolina last month and recorded the six-song Black Pear Tree EP together with Scott Solter producing… People who know how I feel about Kaki’s music can imagine what an honor it was for me to get to work with her.”

Anyone who knows the Mountain Goats well knows that Darnielle is a great storyteller.  The best story of the night was when he was telling the background to “Thank You Mario But Our Princess Is in Another Castle,” which is a song on the EP he recorded with Kaki King. Darnielle’s words don’t give justice to his delivery, but he spoke about the ignorant mushrooms, and how they weren’t going to hurt you, but you just had to kill them…and then you get to the castle and the toad is there and is so grateful to see you, and then tells you that the princess isn’t there, but you’re still really happy because you just saved this random dude’s life (who somehow knows your name, even though you don’t know his). The song is sung from the point of view of Toad, and is therefore possibly the greatest song ever.

The band played two amazing encores, the second of which came after half the venue already left. Oh, and did I mention they covered Morrissey’s song, “Suedehead”? (Fellow Indie Muse writer and Mountain Goat showgoer, Chris, was once quoted as saying he wants to have Morrissey’s babies.)

Black Pear Trees EP:

(mp3) The Mountain Goats & Kaki King – Thank You Mario But Our Princess Is in Another Castle

Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco,  March 2, 2008:

(mp3) The Mountain Goats -The Sign (must listen to Ace of Base cover)


(mp3) The Mountain Goats – No Children

(mp3) The Mountain Goats – Peacocks

We Shall Be Healed:

(mp3) The Mountain Goats – Cotton

click through for the setlist & more tour dates

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William Fitzsimmons – The Sparrow and the Crow (2008)

If you are looking for some new music to chill out to, you should give William Fitzsimmons a listen. His lo-fi sound and arrangements, which bring to mind Sufjan Stevens, Iron & Wine, and Joshua Radin, are undeniably beautiful. His release a few weeks ago, The Sparrow and the Crow, is a personal reflection of his recent divorce.

Fitzsimmons’ background makes his music that much more interesting. He was born in Pittsburgh to two blind parents, and their house was “suffused with pianos, guitars, trombones, talking birds, classical records, family sing-a-longs, bedtime stories, and the bellowing of a pipe organ, which his father built into the house with his own hands.” Fitzsimmons gave up music for a while to focus on helping those with mental health issues, and over time, realized that his music was a great avenue for reaching out to people. He has two albums, Goodnight and Until When We Are Ghosts that he self-produced, and The Sparrow and the Crow, is his first studio recorded album.

Though the album is good as a whole, the sound doesn’t change all that much throughout the album, and I think it actually gets better towards the end when it picks up more. My favorite tracks include, “I don’t Feel it Anymore (Song of the Crow),” “We Feel Alone,” “You Still Hurt Me,” “They’ll Never Take The Good Years,” and “Goodmorning.”

Fitzsimmons is currently on tour–check his site for dates.

The Sparrow and the Crow (2008):

William Fitzsimmons – You Still Hurt Me

William Fitzsimmons – They’ll Never Take The Good Years

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

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Stella Announce New Tour Dates


I strongly believe Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, and David Wain are among the funniest humans ever to live. Their movie Wet Hot American Summer is one of my favorite movies, Michael Ian Black’s new book, My Custom Van: And 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays that Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face is one of my favorite books, and Michael Showalter’s The Michael Showalter Showalter is one of my favorite showalter’s (sorry).

The three comedians have been friends ever since meeting at NYU in 1988, and make up the comedy group Stella. They have hilarious/ridiculous Stella Shorts that they filmed between 1998-2002, and for a short period of time had their own show on Comedy Central. They occasionally perform as a stand-up trio under the Stella name, and have just announced a new set of tour dates.

In February, I was lucky enough to see Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black perform individually at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in Washington DC, and fell into a severe state of happiness when I saw that they are coming back in December as Stella.  Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter are also playing a free Secret Myspace Stand-Up show at Caroline’s Comedy Club in NYC tonight.

Nov 30: PHILADELPHIA – Keswick Theater
Dec 2: WASHINGTON DC – Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
Dec 5: CHICAGO – The Vic (tickets not yet on sale)
Dec 7: CLEVELAND – House of Blues
Dec 9: NEW YORK – Nokia Theater
Dec 10: NEW YORK – Nokia Theater
Dec 11: BOSTON – Wilbur Theater
Dec 12: SAN FRANCISCO – UC Berkeley
Dec 13: LOS ANGELES – Orpheum Theatre

 I am a Wonderful Man:

Michael Ian Black – Gay

Sandwiches & Cats:

Michael Showalter -  Wash Your Hands

Michael Showalter – Term Werner Cable

Video: Stella on Obama pre-election:

Stella | Michael Showalter | Michael Ian Black | David Wain (co-wrote & directed the new movie Role Models)