New Music Tuesday!

Ben Folds Way to Normal

Dear and the Headlights
Drunk Like Bible Times :: stream album

Audrye Sessions
Audrye Sessions :: download “Turn Me Off”

Angus and Julia Stone Just A Boy EP :: watch “Just A Boy”

Kinky Barracuda (digital)

Anberlin New Surrender

Matt Mays & El Torpedo Terminal Romance

Joshua Radin Simple Times (physical)

Tom Morello The Fabled City :: stream “Whatever It Takes”

The Western States Motel Painted Birds Flying in the Orange Mirror Sun :: download “Oh World”

Mercury Rev Snowflake Midnight :: download “Senses On Fire”

Travis Ode to J. Smith

Bayside Shudder

Innerpartysystem Innerpartysystem

Jack’s Mannequin The Glass Passenger :: review

Final Fantasy Spectrum :: review

Nightmare Revisted soundtrack

Ani Di Franco Red Letter Year

Digg! del.icio.us

Final Fantasy – Spectrum, 14th Century

Owen Pallett, or the man behind Final Fantasy is whetting fans appetites with two EPs before his third album is released in the spring. The first of these EPs, Spectrum, 14th Century is a departure from Pallett’s usual violin-rich, looped tunes as he travels deep into his dark musings accompanied by Beirut‘s horns.

The violin isn’t as prevalent on this album as his previous efforts, but it is still apparent on songs like “The Ballad of No-Face.” Instead, this album uses horns, piano and timpani. But these heavier sounds are more fitting for the heavy lyrics. However, with his Sufjan-like voice. Pallett does tread a fine line for balancing the heavy instruments with his airy voice.

Pallett lyrics deal with the struggles that arise from his fears and temptations. While these are common themes for most album lyrics, the view Pallett takes is unique. While most would write of a desire for more success and the worry of picking up a pretty girl, Pallett finds a beauty in faults and failures.

In “Blue Imelda” he asks, “Woman, can I take you as a friend?” as he ponders if it is really possible for a man and woman to just be friends when hormones rage about as loud as the timpani in the song. “Oh, Spectrum” asks, “Is anything more beautiful than failure?” Although “The Butcher” instrumentally is a little over the top in its oompah pah sound, lyrically it is the strongest on the album as Pallett fills it with apocalyptic religious allusions. The loops at the end and the touch of violin also brings this song back to the Final Fantasy familiar to fans.

Final Fantasy’s Spectrum, 14th Century is released by Blocks Recording Club on Sept. 30.

Tracklisting:
01. Oh, Spectrum
02. Blue Imelda
03. The Butcher
04. Cockatrice
05. The Ballad of No-Face

Final Fantasy: website | myspace

written by: Bethany

Digg! del.icio.us

Catfish Haven – Devastator

Chicago based group Catfish Haven is a soulful rock band named after lead singer George Hunter‘s childhood trailer park in Missouri. As odd as that inspiration is, after listening to their third full-length album Devastator, I think it was a good choice.

I say this because in Missouri, and I imagine in a place like Catfish Haven, it is pretty typical to grill outside with the neighbors under a starry sky. After all the burgers and brats are gone, somebody who inevitably pull out a guitar and soon several other instruments are produced. The musicians then play late into the night until the first signs of dawn start to appear. This is the type of image I get when listening to Devastator.

As Hunter howls over the trippy bass lines of Miguel Castillo and drummer Ryan Farnham‘s laid back beats, it is hard not to break open some beers and join in the jams yourself. The group shines on the faster, up tempo songs like “Play the Fool,” which highlights Castillo’s skills on the bass at the end. Although, as skilled as the boys are on their respective instruments, the songs that stand out are the ones that break out of the trios set instrumentation and add brass or even piano like on “Buying My Time.”

Devastator is a wholesome funk album that perfectly captures the feeling that it is a live album. This feeling is abetted by opener “Are You Ready,” which asks listeners just that. And if you are ready for fun jams then you are ready to rock with the boys in Catfish Haven.

Catfish Haven’s Devastator will be released by Secretly Canadian on October 7, 2008.

Tracklisting:
01. Are You Ready
02. Devastator
03. Set In Stone (download)
04. Invitation To Love
05. Tripping In Memphis
06. Play The Fool
07. Halftime Show
08. Full Speed
09. No Escape
10. Blue Sun
11. Valerie
12. Buying My Time
13. Every Day

Catfish Haven: website | myspace | download “Set in Stone”

written by: Bethany

Digg! del.icio.us

Interview with: Dear and the Headlights

As Dear and the Headlights prep for the release of their sophomore album Drunk Like Bible Times, a few of the guys took some time to discuss their busy tour schedule and upcoming album with me. Below you can read my interview with bass and key player Robert Cissell, guitarist P.J. Waxman and lead vocalist and guitarist Ian Metzger.

Bethany, Popwreckoning: Can you tell me a little bit about your band formation? You guys almost didn’t happen, right?
Ian Metzger, Dear and the Headlights: Yeah, It was just a long process of years of trying to get a band together, then it breaking up and reforming. Of having different members and format. It’s been a slow click. It’s been three years of a sort of trimming the fat process.

PW: Now you [Ian] actually left town for awhile. Where you looking to just leave Dear and the Headlights behind?
IM: Well, we weren’t really Dear and the Headlights at that point. It was just me, P.J. and another guy. It just wasn’t working out, so I was just looking to do something else. Then this ended up working out.

PW: You guys met Mark Kulvinskas through Craigslist. How did that process workout? Did you run into any kooks trying to do that?
IM: Well, Craigslist was kind of a last resort. We had tried out 13 different people: drummers from friends we knew and friends of friends, but they were no good.

PW: With a solidified line-up and not all the drama of finding members, how has recording your sophomore album compared to the first one?
Robert Cissell, Dear and the Headlights: It was easy and fun. It was my first recording experience because I didn’t do the first record with them. So, it was awesome and I don’t think it could have gone any better. Unless, if we had like three months instead of six weeks.

PW: How involved was Equal Vision with the album?
IM: With the recording? They were involved financially and that was about it.
P.J. Waxman, Dear and the Headlights: They had no say in what we actually put on the record.

PW: So it wasn’t very different then when you guys recorded through Bob Hoag?
IM: Bob? We did it with him again, but he has a new studio, which made things easier. There weren’t motorcycles revving in the acoustic tracks and airplanes going by during everything this time.

PW: No free sound effects?
IM: Haha, yeah, exactly.

PW: Another thing you guys tried out was not demoing the songs. How did that work, you just tested them out live?
PJW: Yeah, we would just play them out live even if they weren’t actually finished.
RC: We’d play them without singing actually lyrics.
IM: Yeah, I’d try them out with different lyrics every night. I’d say different stuff and it worked out. It was cool. It definitely made the recording itself a lot more exciting for us.

PW: So, when the lyrics quit did you just remember them from the night or did you take notes?
IM: The lyric process is a lot more in-depth. I would just make all the sounds I wanted to make and then I would just say words that had the same syllable count I was looking for, but wasn’t necessarily the word I wanted to use. It kind of was like a weird game, I guess.

PW: So how did audiences respond to that? Were they confused by that?
IM: They don’t know.
PJW: They don’t know if you’re singing the right words, especially if it’s a new song.
RC: Especially if they’ve never heard the right lyrics.

PW: The new record comes out on the Sept. 30. What can people expect from this? Is it similar to the first album or are you trying some new styles?
IM: I don’t think it’s like the first album, but I don’t think it’s going to be disappointing to anybody that liked the first album. It’s not like a big disconnector or anything like that. It seems like any sort of lack of maturity that we might have had on the first record came through as a more mature idea on this second record. With having different members in the band, a lot of parts worked better together than they did on the first record.

PW: So, Rob with this being your first time recording, since you weren’t there for the first album, how was your contribution? Was it pretty exciting to be involved in the songs finally?
RC: Definitely. I had been playing the old songs with the guys for like close to a year so it was cool to actually get together and write a batch of new songs that I could say that I actually had a hand in writing and recording.

PW: So do you think you had something really different to offer?
RC: Yeah, I think every single musician has something different to offer.

PW: So you didn’t try to emulate the original?
RC: No, I just tried to do my own thing.

PW: Are you guys worried about sophomore slump reaction or anything like that?
IM: I think we’re all really happy with what we did and we’re all really happy with the way it came out.
RC: It’s not like we really stress out about whether it’s going to be a slump or not. We’re just excited to get it out there and see what happens really.
IM: Even if every one else thinks it is a slump, we’ll be proud of it.

PW: It won’t be a slump. I’m sure it will be fine. So which song on the record are you most excited for people to hear?
PJW: I hear every one on there and think, “I love this song,” but then it will go to the next one and think this is the one.
IM: I think every one will be pleased by the diversity. I’m excited for them to hear the whole record in its entirety, not just one song.

PW: Are there some common themes throughout the songs?
IM: Lyrically, each song is kind of about it’s own thing.
RC: I think it’s about Ian’s comments on like the last year or so of his life.
IM: Yeah, the last two years since this band’s been going. A lot of it, lyrically, is just about my experiences and just a kind of current recap of things that I have been thinking about or occurrences.

PW: Like relationship stuff or do you get political?
IM: No, I’m not really political, per se. It’s not even necessarily relationships or stuff like that. Some songs are, but not just male/female relationships.
RC: Relationships with friends.
IM: Conversations. I don’t know. One song is kind of dealing with a poem that I read.

PW: What poem?
IM: “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg.

PW: How did that poem inspire you?
IM: Hm.

PW: It’s not like a recap is it? Like Ra Ra Riot did a song based off an e.e. cummings poem that basically restated the poem.
IM: Oh, really? No, it’s not like that.
RC: I don’t think you’d even be able to tell that it’s really about the poem reading the lyrics.

PW: Which song is it?
IM: “Carl Solomon Blues.” It is like the third song on the record. I more so read that poem and it made me question my abilities as a writer or anybody interested in poetry or lyricism. So it kind of is a song mocking myself and my abilities as a poet after reading such a dense, crazy work. As much as I’m kinding making fun of myself in a way after reading that poem, a lot of that poem and that style has influenced the ways that I write. I really connect with Ginsberg and his writings.

PW: Do you like the other beat poets, too?
IM: I’m most familiar with Ginsberg. I’m not really familiar with beat poetry. I’ve read some Kerouac.

PW: So you guys have toured with some pretty big names, like fellow Arizonians Jimmy Eat World. Did you know those guys before you toured with them?
PJW: Yeah, we just kind of met up with them on that tour.

PW: How was that tour, I know their were some people questioning the line up because it was you all and Jimmy Eat World with Paramore, which was kind of a weird combination.
IM: Yeah, it was great.
RC: It was cool.
PJW: We had really good responses. There were lots of people there and then we did like five or six shows after that with just Jimmy Eat World.
RC: That was really cool.

PW: So, is there much of a music scene?
RC: I don’t even know anymore.
IM: There’s much more of one than before.
PJW: There’s tons of bands.
RC: I guess I don’t really know. What exactly is a scene?

PW: Well, like I’m from Omaha and there is kind of a scene built up around Saddle Creek or you go to Chicago and you get a lot of bands that sound like Fall Out Boy. I actually heard something about screamo music being big in Arizona?
RC: Is that still going?
PJW: We don’t really hang out in Arizona too much anymore.

PW: My last question then, what would I find on your iPods or whatever music device you use?
RC: So much.
PJW: A lot of stuff.
RC: Different stuff. Harry Nelson to Dr. Dre.
PJW: Haha. Seriously though.
RC: The most hardcore rap to the most beautiful, touching music.

PW: What’s the most embarrassing thing anybody has on their iPod?
IM: I’m not embarrassed by anything.
RC: Bon Jovi.
PJW: It’s not even Bon Jovi. It says Bon Jovi, but it’s really one of our songs.
All laugh.

PW: You labelled one of your songs as a Bon Jovi song?
PJW: Yeah, we were just driving and I was like I’m going to just play this song as a joke.
IM: Then one of our songs started and I was like, “What?”
PJW: The Walkmen.

PW: That’s not embarrassing.
PJW: No, that’s not embarrassing. I just bought a lot of older records. A lot of our influences are older.
IM: Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Harry Nelson, Flaming Lips. We listen to a lot of stuff.
PJW: Kinks.
PW: That’s all I have. Thank-you so much guys.

Dear and the Headlights: website | myspace

Digg! del.icio.us

Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping

Everyone can relax. Kevin Barnes has gotten over the break-up and is doing much better this time around. After the high drama and catharsis of last year’s epically dark Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, Barnes and the rest of Of Montreal have dusted themselves off and returned to the celebratory psych-pop days of old with the anything but Skeletal Lamping. Contrary to its qualifier, Lamping is huge, busting at the seams with ideas, style shifts, and sexed-up enthusiasm. Barnes would appear to have reached the epiphany that the best way to get over somebody is to get under somebody else.

Make that multiple somebodies if his lyrics are any indication. His fauna does much more than hiss this time around as he waxes poetic about doing softcore (“For Our Elegant Caste”) and taking it both ways while doing so, taking ass against the kitchen sink (“Women’s Studies Victims”) and making you come 200 times a day (“Gallery Piece”), among other deliciously depraved acts.

In addition to his renewed randiness, Barnes conveys newfound resolve, while still betraying sincere vulnerability. Look no further for an example of this than the R&B-tinged “St. Exquisite’s Confession,” a contemplative Prince-pastiche where he simultaneously asserts that he’s “so sick of sucking the dick of this cruel, cruel city” while admitting that he’s “forgotten what it takes to please a woman” and that he “thought it was all over, but it all still hurts the same.” He then promises that “that’s all going to change,” and it does when the track crescendos into skittering beats, synths and vocoders that bring his tale of recovery and self-discovery full circle.

Indeed, Barnes’s lyrics alone are enough to make this album a triumph in their frankness, but it’s the frequently shape-shifting music behind them that makes it truly memorable. No retro musical touchstone is left unturned, be it R&B, funk, disco or ‘80s electro. The changes from style to style—often occurring within one song—can be jarring. The schizophrenic opener “Nonpareil of Favor” goes through no fewer than four stylistic transformations during its nearly six minute length, but not one of them feels forced or superfluous. Meanwhile, the climactic mini-opus “Plastis Wafers” successfully manages to incorporate all of the above, alternately shuffling, strutting and percolating while wanting to “know what it feels like inside you.”

Not every song displays multiple personalities. “An Elaurdian Instance” and single/closer “Id Engager” (download) offer radio-ready accessibility without sacrificing any of Lamping’s sense of exhilaration. The former is one of the finer examples of blissed out guitar pop this year and the latter is a glammed-up barnstormer that matches anything from the Scissor Sisters‘ debut.

As Barnes proclaims in that number, all he and Of Montreal want to do right now is play with you. That sexy playfulness was sorely missed on the equally good but emotionally harrowing Destroyer, but It’s refreshing not only to see that the gang is up to its old tricks again, but that it has improved them by honing and mixing in some of their newer ones. Just like any good lover should.

Tracklisting:
01. Nonpareil of Favor
02. Wicked Wisdom
03. For Our Elegant Caste
04. Touched Something’s Hollow
05. An Eluardian Instance
06. Gallery Piece
07. Women’s Studies Victims
08. St.Exquisite’s Confessions
09. Triphallus, to Punctuate!
10. And I’ve Seen a Bloody Shadow
11. Plastis Wafers
12. Death Is Not a Parallel Move
13. Beware Our Nubile Miscreants
14. Mingusings
15. Id Engager (download)

Of Montreal: website | myspace | download “Id Engager”

Written by: Rob Huff

Digg! del.icio.us

Treasure Island Music Festival-Day 1

Nestled between Oakland and San Francisco is a small man made island built for the World’s Fair in 1940. Being that there’s less than 1,500 residents, it’s the perfect site for a music festival since there’s no one to disturb. With two stages, no overlapping sets and attendance of 10,000 it was a great setup for people that wanted to enjoy music without the big festival hassle. The highlights of the day was Antibalas‘ high energy Fela like funk, Foals, Hot Chip and TV on the Radio.

I arrived to catch Chester French and spent most of my time scratching my head. The singer introduced one of the songs stating that it was about groupies. The hook was,”You can be my Puerto Rican Pamela Lee.” How much longer until TV on the Radio?

San Francisco by way of Brooklyn Aesop Rock was up next and the crowd treated him like family throwing their arms up at his frequent requests. They played a lean set that featured their DJ Big Wiz putting on a clinic towards the end.

Brooklyn’s Antibalas followed by opening with a sped up version of Bob Marley‘s “Rat Race.” They didn’t stop the groove and made use of every second during their 45 minute set. Every member on stage had a massive grin throughout their set. They could have played for 4 hours and not broken a sweat.

The sleeper band of the weekend that blew me away was the Foals, they only had 30 minutes but I’m sure every member in the crowd was wanting more by the end. I don’t even know of any similar bands that I can compare them too, all I can say is they’re poised for greatness and won’t be playing second stages for much longer. Even with a solar power outage, they couldn’t stop playing. The drummer broke into a beat that got the other band members involved in a mini-percussion jam until power was restored. On a side note: to whomever is in charge of the solar panels next year, please aim the panels TOWARDS the sun, not away. Thank You.

Hot Chip arrived on stage to an anxious crowd and quickly broke into the multi-textured sound that’s impossible to classify. While they may be the reigning kings of the remix, they’re also a force to reckon with live.

Amon Tobin and Mike Relm sets were sandwiched around Hot Chip and Goldrapp. Amon Tobin’s set was built around ambient textures instead of beats, which fit the SF crowd perfectly. Although DJ’s are big draw these days, it’s hard for a performer to come off sincere if they’re staring at their laptop for most of their set. The highlight of Mike Relm’s set was breaking into Rage Against the Machine‘s “Killing in the Name of” then segueing into One Day as A Lion‘s “Wild International.”

Goldfrapp took the stage in all white outfits as the sun set over San Francisco. With her hair and dress flying everywhere Alison Goldfrapp pranced the stage barefoot while loving every minute of it. Their set included all their hits and a near perfect mix of all the musicians on stage. There wasn’t any stage banter. Goldfrapp came there to play and the audience was there to listen and dance.

Touring behind their amazing new album, “Dear, Science”, TV on the Radio came on stage as darkness set. The light show accompanied their visual compositions, perfectly setting the table for a flooring performance. Hailing from what used to be Williamsburgh, Brooklyn they were backed by their neighbors, the horn section from Antibalas. Plenty of bands carry the “art rock” card these days but TVOTR is the genuine article. They incorporate so many genres of music within each song and their harmonies are surreal live. Sometimes bands can’t pull off their studio compositions live but TVOTR takes it to a another level, they are truly a phenomenal live band. Pardon for the lack of a full band shot but I had to put the camera down, it was just too good to not stand there and listen.

Stay tuned for the Day Two wrap up.

Treasure Island Festival: website | line-up

photos and writing by: Ajay Malghan

Digg! del.icio.us

State and Madison – Become the Not Found

State and Madison is a historic intersection in the heart of Chicago and now a rock group by the same name is looking to make some history of their own. Now, while State and Madison aren’t quite to that level yet, the songs found on their recent release Become the Not Found indicate the potential is there, if they can just focus their style and refine their skills.

Nikolas Blazina has a lovely falsetto much like that of Muse‘s of Matt Bellamy. However, where Bellamy has the vocal control to pace his tempo and add urgency when needed, Blazina gets ahead of himself at times and he loses control. He does shine on the open, blues songs that give him rhythmic freedom like “She Ain’t Alone” and “If This Was the Moon.”

Bassist Tony Martino gives the consistency that is lacking on the overall album. “Baby Baby” and the especially bass heavy opening track “Easy Was Back Then” highlight this often overlooked instrument.

Become the Not Found is like a rollercoaster. Styles go from ballad to rock to blues. Lyrics range from cliche to repetitive to romantic. Don’t brush the boys in State and Madison off just yet because this is just the beginning and a refined full-length album from them could blow away fans of The Spill Canvas and The Audition.

Tracklisting:
01. Easy Was Back Then
02. Baby Baby
03. If This Was The Moon
04. Everybody Wants Love
05. London Bridges Burning Down
06. She Ain’t Alone (vinyl only)
07. 2nd Best (vinyl only)

State and Madison: website | myspace

written by: Bethany

Digg! del.icio.us