The Mountain Goats with Kaki King @ the Slowdown, Omaha

A busy test-filled week, a car that wouldn’t start, the weather getting cold and still being tired from a show the night before almost deterred me from going to this gem of a concert. But I toughed it out and ended up having a phenomenal time checking out lo-fi 90s act The Mountain Goats and guitar legend Kaki King.

I must admit that I mostly wanted to go to this show to check out opener Kaki King. I also must admit that I jumped on her bandwagon after learning about her creative guitar skills from the movie August Rush. All the tapping and percussive use of the guitar that kid does is modeled after her and it is her songs on the soundtrack. She didn’t play any of the songs from the movie, but she still had a solid set.

Not only does she have mad instrumental skills, she has a gorgeous voice to debut and hilarious commentary. The stuff she said in between songs had everybody in stitches. She talked about everything from pizza to hygiene.

Following Kaki King were The Mountain Goats, led by John Darnielle. I had mixed feelings about this band. Darnielle’s voice has a bit of a nasally quality, which can be a little much at times. Also, after the guitar styles of King, theirs didn’t quite compare. I think the Mountain Goats respected her superior skills and consequentially had her join them on several songs.

Nonetheless, they are commendable musicians and I recommend checking out them because they are fun rock and they have great lyrics about social and literary subjects. They just weren’t my cup of tea, but everybody else in the crowd got really into them. I respect what they were doing and loved their Morrissey covers, but I think Kaki King stole the show.

The Mountain Goats: website | myspace
Kaki King: website | myspace

Writing and Photos by: Bethany

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Brooke Waggoner – Heal For The Honey

Brooke Waggoner is something of a musical prodigy. She first started tapping the ivory keys at the youthful age of 4 and composed her first song at the age of 10. Still young in her early 20s, which is felt in the lightness of her musical tones, Waggoner has released her debut album, Heal for the Honey. The record follows on the heels of her first EP, Fresh Pair of Eyes.

The music, beautiful and soft, is crowned by her use of the piano, which Waggoner plays as a delicate extension of herself. It stands far and above any other piano compositions of other bands today: isolated, strong and complex. Because of this, Waggoner’s voice never takes control of her songs; it is secondary to the piano, which resonates as a distinct character of its own. Her voice is a hushed, afterthought that sleeks in comfortably.

The album delivers a melancholy, pensive feel. The kind of record you’d throw on in the evening while the rain splatters on the city streets below and you introspectively peer out the window, observing the storm outside. This seems apt, as according to Waggoner, the album is about healing and renewal.

The use of instruments is diverse and creative in her work. The touch of horns lends a power and control to otherwise soft and forlorn tracks. Violins add grandeur to numbers that otherwise lack depth. Yet, the bouncing piano keys remain the most joyful and calming part of each song.

The only aspect that hurts the album is that many of the songs blend into one another and lack a distinctive feel. Because of this slight repetition, some tracks lose their originality and individual character, making the album a musical piece you’d put on in the background rather than listen to intently.

“The Wrong” is a soft, soulful emotional ballad that is reminiscent of Elton John‘s “Your Song”. Its strength lies in Waggoner’s tender and inviting voice. “Colorbloods” is a potent, introspective song where each piano note drives deep enough to reach into any hidden emotion. “Beaut” is a faster track that is propelled through the delicate pressing of piano keys that feels like a rainy English afternoon, eventually revealing Waggoner’s lighthearted and coquettish side.

Heal For The Honey was released on September 9th by SwoonMoon Music.

Tracklisting:
01. Lung Speed, Lung Sped
02. Beaut
03. Heal for the Honey
04. Young Friend
05. Tender Mending
06. Daylover
07. Live for the Sounds
08. Colorbloods
09. The Wrong
10. Come Love, See My Hands
11. Fresh Pair of Eyes (Eyes o’ Eyes Remix)

Brooke Waggoner: website | myspace | interview with | Fresh Pair of Eyes review

Written by: Ali Hussain

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Joshua Radin – Simple Times

Would you like some cheese to go with that Iron & Wine? If so, Joshua Radin will be more than happy to oblige. Arriving two years after his Zach Braff-endorsed debut We Were Here, the all-too-aptly titled Simple Times doesn’t appear to have moved too far away from wherever Here was. Like that album, it’s another inoffensive, uninspiring set of indistinguishable love songs that range from subtle to slight to saccharine.

Maybe I’m being too hard on him. After all, there are more than a few hints of actual potential scattered throughout this effort. “Vegetable Car” is a valiant stab at tongue-in-cheek that proves Radin capable of genuine wit with a little more practice, while “You’ve Got Some Growin’ Up to Do” – in spite of its unintentionally self-deprecating title – is a charming duet with Patty Griffin. Griffin’s participation, as well as contributions from several other female singers (Schuyler Fisk, Meiko, Erin McCarley) elsewhere on the album, evokes a more willowy Rilo Kiley, and makes it all the more frustrating that Radin’s potential peeking through the blandness is never fully realized.

Instead, listeners are treated to the same whispery folk platitudes of countless Jason Mraz doppelgangers before him. Then there are songs like “Sky” that can’t even be bothered to reproduce those, coasting by on clichéd choruses of “Oh oh’s” and “Ah ah’s.” Radin clearly knows his way around an acoustic guitar, and has a suitably sweet voice for the material, but his singing often straddles a thin-to-the-point-of-non-existent line between soft and soporific, almost as if he has a harder time believing the sincerity of his songs than we do.

Simple Times should not have to call for simple music. After all, love is many things, but seldom if ever simple. The sooner that Jason… I mean Joshua realizes this, the better his future output will be.

Tracklisting:
01. One Of Those Days
02. I’d Rather Be With You
03. Sky
04. Friend Like You
05. Brand New Day
06. They Bring Me To You
07. Vegetable
08. Free Of Me
09. You Got Growin’ Up To Do
10. We Are Okay
11. No Envy No Fear

Joshua Radin: website | myspace

Written by: Rob Huff

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Interview with: Donald Cummings, The Virgins

Donald Cumming, The Virgins: Hi, Jessica. How is Philadelphia?
Jessica, PopWreckoning: Philadelphia is lovely. I’m actually in the suburbs right now, I just got off work so I have to drive home. Where are you at tonight?
DC: I’m in Atlanta. The back of a venue. We’re watching this bus trying to pull in and we’re trying to get the trailer as close to the back of the venue as possible so they can start loading the gear.
PW: What venue is the show at tonight?
DC: Oh, I see what it said in front [laughs]
PW: [laughs] That’s fine.
[lots of background noise]
DC: Hold on one second. I’m gonna move away from the bus.

Donald Cummings, The Virgins

Donald Cummings, The Virgins

PW: Speaking of being in Atlanta to play a show tonight, how is the tour with Black Kids been going?
DC: It’s been really fun so far. We’ve played three shows and we’re having a blast. They’re really, really fun and really sweet. They’re really fun to watch live. We’ve just been having a good time.
PW: Excellent. I’m going to be at the show Monday in Philadelphia. I’m looking forward to seeing you guys.
DC: Awesome!

PW
:  It’s a great line-up you’re on, and you guys have toured a lot.
DC: This is our fifth national tour. It’s the fourth or fifth.
PW: What cities have you found are really receptive to you guys and where do you like playing the most?
DC: I love playing everywhere. I probably like playing New York. I love playing San Francisco. I love playing L.A. and I love playing in Columbus, Ohio. We don’t pick the places based on whether we’ve had a good show or not, we just kind of go everywhere. It’s just fun to play so we try to go everywhere.
PW: Yeah, totally. What does the live show entail for you guys? Is it a big party or what?
DC: We definitely dance and sweat a lot. We try to play as loud as we can. I like to get up there and do some cardio.

PW: Speaking of which, the video for “Private Affair,” there’s a lot of …cardio going on.
DC: [laughs]
PW: What inspired you to shoot the video that way?
DC: Growing up in the New York, we had these public access shows and one of my favorite shows when I was a little kid was called “The Robin Byrd Show.” It was a late night sex program that would have strippers from the tri-state area.
Every kid that grows up in New York, basically, knows about channel 35 and knows about “The Robin Byrd Show” because that’s your first exposure to explicit sexual material when you’re a kid in the city. We just want to pay tribute to that show.
PW: I’ve heard of it because, I guess, back in the late 90s, Cheri Oteri used to do a skit of “The Robin Byrd Show” on “Saturday Night Live.”
DC: Oh! That is so true! She really did. I haven’t thought about that in… Holy shit, you’re the first person to say that. She totally did.
PW: It was pretty hilarious. I don’t know how true to the real Robin Byrd it was…
DC: I don’t remember…I just remember that there was a “Saturday Night Live” Robin Byrd. I have no other memory of it than that. I haven’t thought about it in years.
PW: I kind of remember that she would just phase out at points and stare into space and then jump back into it.
DC: Naw! Yeah! That was her! Robin Byrd was definitely hip.

PW: The video for the first single “Rich Girls” is also very sexy, where you get that hot chick to give you guys a table and a lap dance. What was it like filming that?
DC: It was a blast! We actually filmed those two videos in the same 48 hours. It was just hectic. The filming of the video, especially the “Rich Girls” video, was really, really fun because what we wanted to do was just go to a place where we all hang out all of the time and make something that felt natural and really represented us visually, maybe.
We got together at Lit, which is a bar that we’ve been going to for 6 years or something like that, maybe longer. We invited all of our friends down and basically just had a party there like any normal night, except the catch was the Victoria Secret model. She was really gracious and came down. She’s lovely and she’s so sweet and so cool. She just really made the video. We just knew there was going to have to be something to offset all the testosterone and drunken dudes. That wouldn’t be so interesting for everybody.
So she definitely made the video. Made some contrast to the drunken idiots that we sometimes can be.
PW: It definitely looked like a good time. It’s a very cool video.
DC: It was a blast. I really did have fun. And Bahati [Prinsloo] was really, really, cool. She is a super awesome girl. She’s from South Africa.

PW: At the end of last month, you guys were on “Conan” and next week you’ll be on “Letterman.”
DC: Yeah, I keep forgetting about that. That’s coming up.
PW: [laughs] How do you forget you’re going to play on “Letterman?”
DC: I dunno. Just ’cause we have a show tonight and I just think about the next show.

PW: Since you’ve already been on “Conan,” how different is it to play before a studio audience as opposed to a concert audience?
DC: It’s not really different…or, well… When you’re playing for a studio audience, you’re playing a little more to a camera than you would in a venue when you’re playing to a crowd and people are standing right in front of you. When you play in front of a studio audience, they’re like 30 feet away from you at the closest. It’s like a completely different feeling. Even the atmosphere and the electricity in the room because there’s these cameras between you and the crowd and it’s very formal. It’s very professional.
When we play live, we really try to be present and you can speed a song up or slow it down, the kind of things you wouldn’t necessarily do on television. It really is a pretty different experience. I wasn’t expecting to experience the contrast so dramatically.
PW: Do you think it will make “Letterman” easier now that you’ve done “Conan” and you know what to expect.
DC: Yeah, I mean, now I have a little bit more of an idea about what we’re in for. Yeah, I think it’ll be a little easier.
PW: Will it be the same song?
DC: They’re spaced so close together and we’re still on our first single, so yeah, it’s gonna be “Rich Girls.”

PW: You have a song on the upcoming “Gossip Girl” soundtrack. That’s really cool because they have a lot of great music on the show. Have you ever [laughs] watched it?
DC: Yeah, yeah, I have. I watched the episode that we were in and I watched another one, too. It was awesome. I liked it, I really enjoyed. The girls are hot on that show. I dig it, to be quite honest.
PW: It’d be sweet if they let you guys go on and perform. Then maybe you can hang out with the cast. How did you get involved with the soundtrack?
DC: One of the music directors from “Gossip Girl” contacted us on MySpace and asked if they could use some of the songs on the show. We were really, really flattered and we obviously we were excited. It’s just awesome.

PW: MySpace, the internet in general, is just doing so much for bands to get their music out there.
DC: Oh yeah, absolutely.
PW: Not so much anymore, especially with people downloading music, this is more of a way of promoting yourselves, but even 10 years ago, if a band had put music in a TV show or commercial, it would’ve been considered “selling out.”
DC: You think so? I think it always depends on the band, you know. Putting songs in movies like when Guns ‘N Roses put their songs in Terminator 2, I was not upset. I was fucking thrilled because I love Guns ‘N Roses and I love Terminator 2. When they came together, it was a glorious day for me.
That kind of thing is always, I just don’t think about that.
PW: That’s fair. It works out for me ’cause I like you guys and I like “Gossip Girl.”
DC: There you go! Thank you.

PW: Back to touring with the Black Kids. Are Magic Wands opening on every date of the tour?
DC: Yeah, I think so.
PW: How has it been hanging out with all those kids?
DC: Everybody on the tour has been really sweet and is really, really cool. It’s been super mellow and both Black Kids and Magic Wands are putting on amazing shows every night.

PW: Despite the fact that it’s an awesome tour and you’re having a good time, if you could put together a dream tour where you got to play with anyone you wanted, who would you want to share a stage with?
DC: I can’t think about the past, but I would like to tor with the Rolling Stones, I think. Like now, you know. That would be awesome.

The Virgins: website | myspace

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New Alan Cohen Experience “Obama” Music Video

Dear PopWreckoning friend Alan Cohen of the Alan Cohen Experience has created a new song/music video in commemoration of the final Presidential debate held last night at Hofstra University. The song features Cohen’s friends Ryan Pressman on the drums and AfroDZak on the trumpet. If nothing else (i.e.-you dig on that other Presidential wannabe duo). guaranteed laughs, especially within the first few seconds.

Jessica got the chance to chat with Alan for a while not too long ago, so check back for the interview to be posted!

Obama” Lyrics:
Obama, he’s the candidate for me
Obama, he sets the right policy
Obama, he’ll manage things responsibly
Obama, he’s the candidate for me

He understands the nuances of issues that he’ll have to face
He won’t define them with how lobbyists present their case
From the get-go he knew the Iraq war was off base

He speaks with a clear and simple ideology
He doesn’t have a my way or the highway philosophy
He’s not a slave to the free market or fundamentalist theology

He has the right ideas of health care and education
He’ll invest in infrastructure for the future of the nation
He’s not gonna be another Bush administration

Alan Cohen Experience: website | myspace

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Sebastien Grainger – Sebastien Grainger & the Mountains

Canadian solo musician Sebastien Grainger, better known for his part (vocals, drums) in the dance rock duo Death From Above 1979, has something to say, and he is going to tell you October 21 with a little help from Saddle Creek. Grainger is looking for some post DFA1979 success, like that seen with Jesse F. Keeler’s new project MSTRKRFT. With that said, one big question is left in the air. Will this forthcoming album, Sebastien Grainger & the Mountains, live up to the hype and expectation given to us from his American Names EP released earlier this year?

Grainger’s new album starts right off the bat with the DFA sound observable in the first track “Love Can Be So Mean,” yet without the pick-dragging/ loose change feel, it seems to be more refined. This songwriting virtuoso brings it down to earth with songs like “(Are There) Ways to Come Home” and “Love is Not a Contest,” with unexpected instruments like the piano and cooling vocals that remind me slightly of The Killers.

The album ends strong with songs like “American Names” and “Meet New Friends,” echoing that, oh-so-familiar DFA high-hat and drum beat radiating off of the skins. Locking this wonderful set of songs down at the end is my personal favorite “Renegade Silence.” Featuring The Rhythm Method (Sebastien’s side project), he turns the tone a little more electric and brings a pulsing, dancing beat (tambourine included).

Sebastien Grainger will get that well deserved success and is definitely going to be raising an eyebrow or two. I have a feeling that he will be around to blow minds for years to come, and make quite a name for himself in the music industry. You should check out his new album. We can’t say what will happen if you don’t.

Tracklisting:
01. Love Can Be So Mean
02. Who Do We Care For?
03. By Cover of Night (Fire Fight)
04. I’m All Rage ( Live ’05)
05. I Hate My Friends
06. (Are There) Ways to Come Home?
07. Niagara
08. ( I am Like a) River
09. Love Is Not a Contest
10. American Names
11. Meet New Friends
12. Renegade Silence (feat. The Rhythm Method)

Sebastien Grainger: website | myspace

Written by: Joe Gotschall

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Beastie Boys Swing States Tour Final Dates

Per Monday’s news, the Beastie Boys have confirmed the final dates on their tour of the swing states prior to the 2008 Presidential Election.

The newly announced dates and lineups are:

Oct 27 – Charlotte, NC – Amos Southend
Beastie Boys / Sheryl Crow / Santogold
tickets

Oct 29 – Youngstown, OH – Chevrolet Center
Beastie Boys / Sheryl Crow / Ben Harper / Norah Jones
Presale begins: Fri, 10/17/08 at 10:00 AM

Oct 30 – Dayton, OH – Hara Arena
Beastie Boys / Sheryl Crow / Ben Harper
Presale begins: Fri, 10/17/08 at 10:00 AM

Beastie Boys: website
Get Out and Vote 08: website

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