Song of the Day – 6/23/09


I’m on my way out the door, but I just heard a song I’d love to share with you. A short song by Philadelphia’s Grubstake. From what I understand, these guys are just about to release their fifth album and have a serious local following. Grubstake are huge proponents of dirty, folky blues. I can hear Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Woodie Guthrie, Lou Reed and the White Stripes all at once, just from their MySpace. They are certainly unattended on the edges, but no song has made me want to drive a truck so badly. No bullshit.

MP3: Grubstake – “Recession Blues 2001”

Alright, here are a few more, at random.

MP3: Grubstake – “Whispering Blues”

MP3: Grubstake – “Musicians”

Let me know what you think, or if you know anything about these guys that I don’t. PEACE.

Roundup: Wilco

(Photo Credit: Doug Mason)

(Photo Credit: Doug Mason)

After this year’s Bonnaroo I can safely say that YES, Wilco is a touring band at its prime. The recently released Ashes of American Flags tour DVD gave me new insight into the workings of a group that, in my opinion, has overcome considerable struggle and years of obscurity to finally be standing strong at the peak of their art. After previewing the stream, Wilco (The Album) felt empty without Tweedy’s anxiety and experimental energy–it’s what defined masterpieces like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born. Nonetheless, there are new, beautiful aspects of the band that shine bright this time around–in addition, the new album is also considerably different from Sky Blue Sky. In my obsession of what I consider to currently be “The Great American Band,” I’ve stumbled on a few blog-gems that I will share with you, leading up to the release of Wilco (The Album). First, here’s a few minutes of Wilco (at Bonnaroo ’09) courtesy of Billboard Music.


Recently, The LAist published an extremely insightful interview with Wilco guitarist (and “Guitar God”) Nels Cline. In the article, Nels is approached about the new Wilco album, due out in a week or so. He answers questions about Wilco’s songwriting process as well as thoughts on his own project, The Nels Cline Trio–an avant-garde jazz group. If for no other reason than to learn about a true artist and a dying breed, check out the article. There’s also a fantastic video of Nels’ part on “Handshake Drugs” as well as a link to Nels Cline’s list of his Top 200 Guitarists.

OneThirtyBPM wrote a post a month or so ago that covers all you’ll need to prepare for new Wilco, complete with track lyrics and live versions of many of the songs on Wilco (The Album). After listening to their new songs live, it is fantastic to see how they are adapted for the stage and it’s even more interesting to see how they’ve already improved on songs that haven’t even been released yet. It’s definitely a more time-consuming post, but it’s worth it. ZIP file included.

Finally, just a quick note on the June 30th release of Wilco (The Album), if you order from Wilco World before the album comes out you get a full 256kbs download on release in addition to the physical media. Also, if you pre-order, you can download the track “You Never Know” right away. This track, incedentally, is also going to 7″ for a limited time in honor of Vinyl Saturday (from the creators of Record Store Day). The 7″ will include “You Never Know” as well as “Unlikely Japan,” an unreleased Sky Blue Sky track–a precursor to “Impossible Germany.” Since we all love nerding out on b-sides and rarities… this is welcome. More info on that at Nonesuch Records.

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Don’t Worry, I’ll be posting Wilco’s show from Bonnaroo 2009 soon!

To end, I leave you with a Glenn Kotche interview by Nashville’s Lightning 100 fm. Kinda hard to hear, but it’s funny… just not ha ha funny.


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”

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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…

Modest Mouse – Custom Concern [SotD]

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)

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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The Pixies and Boston Bands

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:

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