Scott Avett covers Bombadil

Bombadil is a favorite over at IndieMuse–their album Tarpits and Canyonlands was on my Top 10 list last year. Simply put, they are a band worthy of everyone’s ears. It’s criminal that more people haven’t heard their music.

Instead of listening to a nobody like me though–consider this! Avett brother, Scott, recently did a video cover of Bombadil’s song “Marriage.”  Last time I checked, The Avett Brovers don’t cover just anybody.

I still can’t decide what I like more: the band’s music or their photos. As you can see below, their CD travels the world asking friendly strangers to capture his adventures. Everytime it comes home to the band they share the photos with the world to see.


(mp3) Bombadil – Honeymoon

(mp3) Bombadil – Marriage

Site | Store | iTunes | Myspace

see more photos on Bombadil’s Facebook fan page.

Ben Cooper is awesome

On Friday night, Ben Cooper (Radical Face/Electric President), played a house show in Washington DC.

It’s the start of a new “project” where instead of playing clubs, he just connects with his loyal fanbase and plays in cool places. While donations are accepted, he doesn’t charge a cover.

I probably get more mushy over this stuff than most people do, but things like this make me really, really happy. I’m not anti-capitalism,  but I think it’s telling that most of my fondest memories are things that I didn’t have to pay a luxury price for. Whether it’s just talking with a friend, taking a stroll through a park, or making an elaborate dinner (I don’t cook), these are the experiences that I really remember the next day. And I think most people feel the same way.  Sure, I’ve been to great shows before where I’ve paid a lot to get in, but I just think it’s awesome when the artist plays music for no other reason than for the love of sharing his/her music.

Of course, it’s not very sustainable for a musician to play free shows (Cooper told me that the van he had to rent just to get from Florida to DC ended up costing a ton of money… there is no way he broke even). But over the upcoming years, I really hope that with the expansion of technology, the independent community can organize and make things like this happen more frequently. In the meantime, keep up to date with Cooper’s site, as he’ll be adding more tour dates soon.

(mp3) Electric President – Science of Sound

(mp3) Radical Face – Welcome Home, Son

Site | Patients (another cool side project of Cooper’s) | MF (download the Patients album for free)

Bombadil – “So Many Ways To Die” Music Video

I’m still tossing and turning at night over my “best of 2009” list, but one album that I am quite certain will be on there is Bombadil’s Tarpits and Canyonlands. It’s also going to make it onto my “Most underappreciated albums of 2009” list, “Most underappreciated albums of the decade” list and “Most underappreciated albums of the century (so far)” list. And David over at Largehearted Boy will have to recognize them all!!! (seriously, how does he do that?! He’s like a magical blogging wizard.)

Anyway, the main point of this post is to bring to your attention a hilarious music video Bombadil made for their song “So Many Ways To Die.” The video is comprised entirely of stock footage from the 30s, and was put together by Bombadil frontman Bryan Rahija. After watching the video a few times through I asked Rahija how he thinks he’s going to die, given all the possibilities. He said he figures he will clobbered by a bus scooting down G St in Washington DC. Similarly, I know for a fact that my untimely death at 93 is going to involve (but not be limited to): Montana, a treadmill, mountain goats, and 7-Eleven coke slushies.

There are so many ways to die. How is it going down for you?


Tarpits and Canyonlands (2009):

(MP3) Bombadil – Honeymoon

(MP3) Bombadil – So Many Ways To Die

Site | Store | iTunes | Myspace

Eureka Birds – S/T

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing one of Baltimore’s best unsigned bands, Eureka Birds, play at Iota. They played at one of the Federal Reserves gatherings (a collective started by dc folks like These United States and Vandaveer), and performed a really impressive set.

Eureka Birds released a self-titled debut album last year that blends together folk, rock, pop, and even a bit of punk. It creates for  a unique sound and the creative composition leaves the instruments telling an eerie story of their own. It may take a little time for the album to grow on you, but each listen is that much more rewarding.

Front man, Justin Levy,  plays keyboard and is backed by five bandmates: Dave Rogoza (guitar), Dami Soh (cello), Jason Hoffheins (drums), Mike Passariello (bass), and Nathan Royer (euphonium, trumpet). The band is nice enough to give away their album for free in mp3 form, but if you like their music, you should really consider buying the CD. Levy, who is also scientist!, told me that he really wants to rent a van and go on tour, but the band needs some financial support. They barely had enough to put out their debut and had to turn to alternative means, as you can see in this below photo of  Eureka Birds’ own Justin Levy. Shame Shame.

Eureka Birds – S/T (2008):

Eureka Birds – Oh! My Dear

Eureka Birds – Goodbye Space And Time

Eureka Birds – Dinosaurs

Site | CDBaby | MF (a new project i’m working on where artists earn all the money from sales)

Loney Dear @ 9:30 Club, Washington DC (02/03/09)


On Tuesday, I saw Swedish band Loney Dear open for Andrew Bird, and must say, I almost enjoyed their set more than Mr. Bird’s. . . which is  saying a lot, given Bird is one of my very favorite musicians. I’ve been listening to their music for a few years now, but Tuesday night’s live performance gave me a whole new appreciation.

The best part of the set was when lead singer Emil Svanängen asked the crowd to sing along on “I Am John.” It was really beautiful. You can listen to the set on NPR (“I am John” is 20 minutes in), but the recording quality doesn’t really pay justice to the performance. Svanängen is a really personable guy too,  and strikes a perfect balance between being confident (talking a lot to the crowd), and bashful, which can be verified by anyone who saw him putting on a band-aid after his minor guitar string accident. He also called the Black Cat (venue) the “very black cat,” and the 9:30 club balcony “shelves,” which I thought was pretty funny.

The band has a new album that came out January 27th called Dear John. I prefer the lighter tone of their 2007 debut album, Loney, Noir,  but Dear John still has some solid songs on it.

Loney Dear is from Jonkoping, Sweden, and its primary member, Emil Svanängen, first began making homemade recordings of delicate, folkish indie pop in the early 2000s. As Loney, Dear (the band has since deleted the comma from its name), Svanängen self-released three homemade CD-Rs through his website: River Fontana Redux, Citadel Band, and Sologne. As buzz developed through MP3 blogs and other new media manifestations, Sub Pop offered Svanängen a contract in 2006. The first proper Loney Dear album, Loney, Noir, was released in early 2007.

Dear John (2009):

Loney Dear – Airport Surroundings

Loney, Noir (2007):

Loney Dear – I Am John

Loney Dear – I Will Call You Lover Again

Sologne (2006):

Loney Dear – I Fought The Battle Of Trinidad & Tobago

site | amazon | itunes |  myspace

Tour dates & “Airport Surroundings” video after the break.

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National Zoo’s Baby Gorilla is a Girl


Photo courtesy of dcmandrill

We can officially score one for the females, as The National Zoo announced today that the zoo’s 3 week old baby gorilla is a girl! Apparently, it can take a while for humans to know the sex of a gorilla, which is why we are only finding out today. In terms of family lineage, the zoo was hoping it would be a girl, so it’s a good day for gorillas and zookeepers everywhere.

It’s also good to see that the zoo prefers mother-rearing over hand-rearing, meaning the baby girl will be able to stay with her mother, Mandara.  Be sure to check out the video below of them together!

Video of Mandara and baby courtesy of RoxandaBear.

Song Mandara and boyfriend probably listened to on dates:

Animal Collective – Grass

Song by Gorillaz for humans:

Gorillaz – Last Living Souls

These United States – Crimes (2008)


Washington DC based folk/rock band, These United States, has a new album that just released entitled, Crimes. This comes after their debut release earlier this year, A Picture of the Three of Us at The Gate to the Garden of Eden. At this rate of producing albums (and with their fitting band name), perhaps they should be doing Sufjan Stevens’ 50 albums for 50 states gig.

While I’m a bigger fan of A Picture of the Three of Us at The Gate to the Garden of Eden, Crimes is still an enjoyable album to listen to, and it’s comprised of some really fantastic songs (and has an equally badass album name). Among my favorite tracks are “West Won,” “Honor Amongst Thieves,” and “Heaven Can Wait.”

These United States have become a big staple in the DC music scene. They are closely linked to the musicians on Gypsy Eyes Records (though they aren’t on the label), and a few years ago helped create The Federal Reserve, a collective of like-minded musicians in DC who play together on the first Monday of every month at iota. These United States is currently on tour, check out their Myspace for dates.

Crimes (2008):

These United States – Honor Among Thieves

These United States – West Won

A Picture of the Three of Us at The Gate to the Garden of Eden (2008):

These United States – First Sight

These United States – The Business 

Site | iTunes | Amazon | Amie St | Myspace |Day Trotter | Learn Your Geography

Aloha – Light Works


For those who like Sufjan Stevens, The Shins, Rogue Wave, and Jeremy Messersmith I highly recommend checking out the band Aloha. Their albums have been in my iTunes for a while, but it’s not until the last week that I have given them the listen they deserve. Their 2007 release Light Works has a really nice sound.

The 7 track LP is a lot less experimental than the band’s other releases, which they’ve built their name off,  but I personally like it more. It is really mellow, and a perfect prescription for productivity. Truthfully, there are only a few times that you are going to ask “what song is that?” Light Works is not an album set out to impress, meaning you’ll want to listen to it in its entirety.  Like The Album Leaf, you probably won’t grow an attachment to any particular song. The most rememberable songs include “Body Buzz” “The End,””Gold World” and “Passengers.”

Aloha has a really interesting background. They first began to form in 1997, and the four bandmates, Tony Cavallario, Matthew Gengler, Cale Parks, and T.J. Lipple  are scattered across the east coast, hailing from Cleveland, Brooklyn, Rochester, and Washington DC.  Even though they live in different places they manage to get together to make music.  I think that’s really cool. Some bands give off the impression that they formed because it was convenient. However, it can be restricting to allow location to be a collaboration barrier. If each of these guys wanted to make their lives easier, they could probably just start up their own bands in their selected cities. They don’t settle for that though, and are so passionate about what they do,  they will travel whenever and wherever to make music. People who know Aloha’s history like their music that much more.

Aloha is signed to Polyvinyl records.

Light Works (2007):

Aloha – Body Buzz

Aloha – The End

amazon | itunes |myspace

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