The Olivia Tremor Control – Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One (1999)

Last week, I saw members of the Elephant 6 collective play a show at Lincoln Hall in Chicago as part of their Surprise Holiday tour. For those who aren’t familiar with Elephant 6, it’s basically a collective/label that formed in the 90s that includes bands such as The Apple in Stereo, Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, and… too many to list here.

I’m a big fan of most of the bands who are part of E6, so seeing some of them live was kind of a dream come true. The Surprise Holiday tour basically consists of a lot of members from different E6 bands getting on stage together and playing each others songs.

This feature is about one of the founding bands of E6, in particular: The Olivia Tremor Control. Before seeing them at the show it had been years since I had properly listened to their music. After the show, I immediately went back home and put on their 27 track album released in 1999, called Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One. It’s weird and pretty awesome.

If you’re a fan of experimental/psychedelic,  indie rock, kinda like the bands I listed above, definitely check out the album. If you took Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and upped the experimental level by about 160%, you would have something close to the lines of The Olivia Tremor Control. I’m glad I took the time to re-visit this album.

Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One (1999):

The Olivia Tremor Control – Hideaway (mp3)

The Olivia Tremor Control – I Have Been Floated (mp3)

Amazon | iTunes | Elephant 6

Photo credit: John Kendelhardt (not from the show I went to… Jeff Magnum unfortunately wasn’t there)

Eureka Birds – Eureka! EP

I’m a big fan of the Baltimore based band, The Eureka Birds. They have this really cool lo-fi, pop sound, and their piano and string arrangements bring to mind some of my favorite aspects of The Beatles’ music (gasp!).  Their lead singer, Justin Levy, is also a real scientist, which adds that much more street cred to their music. Up to date they have released one album, which I featured here, and just recently released a new fantastic EP called, Eureka! EP.

A few of the tracks I’m really digging on the 6 track EP include, “The Mountain is a Volcano,””Sarah (Sits and Cries),””There Was Light,” and “Cactus Man.” So that’s pretty much the entire thing right there. And the band is being nice enough to give it away for free on Bandcamp.

Just like with the arrangements on many Beatles songs, I find these tracks growing on me the more I listen to them. So take a listen— and if you’re not sure how you feel about it right away, definitely do this band justice by listening through a few times. It’s worth it.

Eureka! EP (2010):

Eureka Birds –  The Mountain is a Volcano (mp3)

Eureka Birds – Cactus Man (mp3)

Site | Bandcamp

Happy Casimir Pulaski Day!

As a Chicago based music blog, we feel it’s important to celebrate Casimir Pulaski Day — a holiday that mostly only Illinois residents (and really thorough Sufjan Stevens fans) know. Most people here actually have no idea who Pulaski was–and Sufjan’s song hardly addresses the issue, so we thought we would share these 5 fun facts from AOL News. Now if you’re ever on Jeopardy against Watson, and one of these questions comes up, you can totally kick its ass!

Happy Casimir Pulaski Day, everyone!!

Sufjan Stevens – Casimir Pulaski Day (mp3)

5 fun facts:

1. Polish war hero

From 1768 to 1771, Pulaski, who was born in Poland, fought against Russian and Prussian forces that were wielding enormous influence in Poland. But he was forced to leave Poland forever after being accused of plotting to assassinate the king of Poland.

2. Friend of Benjamin Franklin

After he fled Poland, Pulaski traveled to Turkey, then ended up in France. There, he came to know Benjamin Franklin and began to learn about the then-young American Revolutionary War. Pulaski, who had fought for Poland’s independence, was impressed by what Franklin described and decided to volunteer to help the American rebels. Franklin recommended him to George Washington

3. Brilliant military tactician

Pulaski headed to America to help with the war effort, where he took part in several battles. In the 1777 battle of Brandywine, he is believed to have saved George Washington’s life and uncovered a sneak attack by the British. His actions at Brandywine earned him a promotion to brigadier general. He was in charge of the first cavalry, giving him the nickname “Father of the American Cavalry.”

4. Killed on the battlefield

Pulaski once said, “I came here, where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it.” Indeed, he did die for it, falling in battle in Savannah, Ga., in 1779. He was struck by cannon fire while riding on a horse.

5. An honorary American citizen

In 2009, Pulaski became just the seventh person to posthumously receive honorary American citizenship. He joins William Penn and Penn’s wife, fellow Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette, Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa and Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish man who helped save Jews during the Holocaust.



Iron & Wine @ Riviera Theatre, Chicago IL (03/04/11)

Last night Iron & Wine played to a packed crowd at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago. The show ended up being quite good, despite one potentially devastating setback: lead singer Sam Beam was battling what appeared to be a mild case of laryngitis.

At first many people in the crowd were noticeably worried that this was going to compromise the show, which is so dependent on Beam’s vocals. However, after a few soundboard adjustments, and him putting in everything he had, most people quickly realized they were still in for a great show. Members from local band, Califone, backed him on stage, and all the instrumental work was fantastic, and included some fun saxophone and jazz flute.

Iron and Wine is touring on their new album, Kiss Each Other Clean, but made sure to get in a bunch of older fan favorites, as well. They also performed some cool renditions for their popular older songs, such as “Love And Some Verses,” and “Naked As We Came.” The full setlist and photos are below.

Despite Beam’s voice not being quite as present as it typically is, Chicago still witnessed a great show. Sure, it most likely won’t be a contender if they ever release a live album, but so goes life. I highly recommend trying to catch an upcoming show if you have the chance. It’s well worth it.

Kiss Each Other Clean (2011)

Iron & Wine  – Tree By The River (mp3)

Endless Numbered Days (2004)

Iron & Wine – Naked As We Came (mp3)

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