Monday, April 29, 2013

Vol. 4 Episode 17.5

Bleached with opening acts The Hollow Boys and Ex-Cops on 4/28/2013 at The Turf Club In St Paul MN

The first time I saw Bleached was just over a year ago when they opened for Veronica Falls. My wife loved them and we got their third single and had the band sign it. It was a great time.

This time around they were in a smaller venue, The Turf Club. The actual size of the Turf Club is larger than the 7th Entry but, it seemed, a lesser known venue. It is also just a standard bar with a few tables and chairs scattered about the floor. The doors opened at 8 P.M. We got there at a quarter to 8 and, because it is a normal bar, the doors were open for patrons already. There were a couple pinball machines and a couple video games. There was a photo booth too. The sound guy seemed a bit inept but I don’t think I could have done any better. The opening act did not take the stage until 9:30. I was very disappointed with an extra half hour wait. I expected the first opening act to start at 9.

This is the first time I had been there. Not having been there I preordered tickets for fear of the show selling out. Was I ever wrong there. The place was not even a quarter full even when Bleached went on at 11 P.M. I was a bit disappointed as I want Bleached to gain a healthy following like some of the other bands that I follow regularly. We already had the album on CD and Vinyl so at the end of the night before we left we bought a Bleached tote bag. I have been, not on purpose, collecting totes from various bands over the past few years. This is the first one that I have paid for. All of the others have been free gifts with deluxe edition albums. I think my favorite one is the quarter size tote bag from Violet & Claire for the Indie Pop Lesson record and book set.

The first band to open is called The Hollow Boys. They played six or seven songs. It was very noisy, distorted sounds. I like noise but I guess I wasn’t ready for it considering bleached and Ex-Cops don’t play that style of music. They are a three piece group comprising of a female drummer, female bassist and male guitarist. The drummer also sang backup vocals to the guitarists lead vocals. The drums were interesting as it was a cymbal, a snare and a floor tom. All three drums were lined up next to each other and she stood behind them instead of sitting. She kind of reminded me of a hip librarian but when she played them came off kind of awkward looking. She kept time great though. The bassist played something that looked like a fender but I couldn’t tell because she faced the guitarist the whole time. The guitarist played some kind of SG I think (The guitar that the lead guitarist for AC/DC plays). I couldn’t tell for sure because he faced the drummer most of the time. It doesn’t make for a very entertaining show when 2/3 of the band won’t face the audience. I was not really happy with this group because of that.

Ex-Cops took the stage next. I had looked up some of their music a bit after I bought tickets. I thought they were good but not exactly what I was looking for. I was still excited to see them in concert though because the music I had seen was very good. They are two guitarists, a bassist, a drummer and a keyboardist. All of them except the drummer, that I was aware of, added vocals in some way to the group. Also, all of them are guys except the keyboardist. I am not sure if it was the sound guys fault or most of the band was just not there mentally but the drums were lost through most of the set, the lead guitarist didn’t seem to shine through. The rhythm guitarist had a cool Dan Electro guitar plugged into a cool sounding fender combo amp. I loved the sound but it seemed to get lost in the music at times. It was really the bassist that drove through all of the noise that was on stage. I could hear his playing the most. He was really awesome, all over that fret board making sense of each song and so animated in his movements. I don’t usually go to concerts just looking for what the bassist is playing but sometimes it is hard not to as I am a bassist too. He was the highlight of the set. Of the songs they played I recall hearing only one on the internet when I did a search of their music. I can’t remember if Separator was the last song of the set but I do remember hearing it.

Bleached took the stage at 11 P.M. and played thirteen songs in a one hour set. I was very excited to find out that they had a new bassist. They switched out the guy for a girl. I don’t know why but she did add some much needed additional back up vocals to the group. She also played a clear body bass that sounded very cool. I don’t know if she knows it but Jessica can’t play and sing backup vocals in tune. I don’t really care but I do notice it at the same time. I like the band and would see them any time they came to the Minneapolis/St Paul area regardless. One thing I was disappointed with was that Jennifer was not playing her Dan Electro guitar. I really like the sound of that guitar. I think she was playing a standard Fender Stratocaster in red for this concert. I had seen pictures on the internet of her playing it when she first got it. It doesn’t have that unique sound of a Dan Electro but still sounded very cool. The only points where I was disappointed in the music was when parts of the recorded versions of the song had to be replaced with a bit from the guitar. For example there is a three note run in the middle of Searching Through The Past that is played on a piano of some kind. I can’t really blame them as this is a key part of the song that needs to be done a different way when on tour. Radiohead does the same thing with parts of their music on tour and it is acceptable. Why shouldn’t it be acceptable with another band?

I want to thank The Turf Club for having them and all three groups, The Hollow Boys, Ex-cops and Bleached for making this night so much fun for both me and my wife! Hope you will be stopping in the Minneapolis/St Paul area again for your next album!

Set List:
Waiting By The Telephone
Next Stop
Searching Through The Past
Think Of You
Dead In Your Head
Love Spells
Looking For A Fight
Outta My Mind
No Friend Of Mine
Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World (Ramones Cover)
Electric Chair
When I Was Yours

Sorry folks, I can't give another persons perspective on this show. Nothing is coming up in my searches. If you know of one please set a link in the comments.

Thanks, and that is all for now...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Vol. 4 Episode 17

The Bleeched concert that I am going to will be happening this Sunday. Expect a concert post early next week about it.

You can now download the Man or Astro-man? album and I think that Chunklet will have preorders up next week for the album.

Here we go...

Record Store Day (RSD) 2013
Every year that I have been going to record store day it seems that I need to get up earlier and earlier. This year is no exception. I took my family this year; myself, my wife, my twelve year old son and our new born (about a month old) son. We got to our local store, which is actually an hour away close to six A.M. There are closer stores than the one that we choose to go to but we like this store the best. We go to this same store for the RSD Black Friday event as well. We, me, my wife and my twelve year old son, set up chairs for us to sit and wait for the doors to open. The store opened at Ten A.M. so we had four hours to wait. We were the first three people to arrive at the store and we were very excited about that. About a half an hour later the next two people arrived. They were there with us the previous year as well. Before they arrived we ran quickly over to McDonald’s for breakfast, well my wife did and the three of us stayed to keep our spot in line. From then until the doors were about to open it was all talk about music between us and our neighbors. Everyone seemed to bring along place keepers, chairs, mats and other items. Everyone was friendly and respectful over all but especially about each persons place in line. I had heard stories about people being jostled about in line and having to go back to the end of the line because of it. This doesn’t seem to happen with this record shop. It is obviously the people that make the difference with things like this.

I put my son at the front of the line with my wife and our infant second and I was third in line. A few hours before that one of the people in line handed out “unofficial” numbers. It was cute and worked for what we needed it to be. Ten minutes before the door was to open a few employees came out and gave us numbers. They then proceeded to bring out goodie bags filled with posters, patches, pins and on and on. My son, who was first in line, got a few extras in his bag including a free 7” single from Two Door Cinema Club and a CD promo from The Dandy Warhols.

We had quite a few records on our list this year but we got all of them. We were only allowed to pick up three items per person so that allotted us a total of nine items. The infant did not get a number but we did not need the extra number. I forgot to put one item in the list and they did not get one item in stock that I was looking for. What we did get was quite a few repressings and a few remixes and singles.

One thing that we got that I was really excited about and did not learn about until the week before RSD was a box set from Astralwerks of flexi-disc tracks. It is twenty flexi-discs with one song on each disc that covers the twenty years that Astralwerks has been releasing music. Some of the songs were common, some of the tracks were remixes and others were very rare tracks. The Discs come in various colors. The only two colors that were solid were black or white, all of the other colors were translucent. The other colors were red, orange, blue, green and yellow. There were also a couple that were clear. Each disc had a tagboard graphic with some information about the track on the back. Because it was for RSD it was limited to 1250 units. My copy was number741.

Of the twenty tracks I was excited to have eight of them. The first track that I was excited about was from The Chemical Brothers called Block Rockin’ Beats. I really like The Chemical Brothers but never got into them heavily. I usually pick up their music when I find it cheap on CD at used record stores or pawn shops.

The next track that I was really excited about was Dry TheRain from The Beta Band. I know this song but have never owned anything from them. I know they are a great band but they have been just out of my radar for one reason or another.

I like Fatboy Slim and own a few records that he has released. The song on this collection is called Praise You. I own the CD that this track comes from but was still excited that there was a release from him in the box set. To me it just means that he has the recognition to be on a compilation like this.

I like the album Rooty from Basement Jaxx and was happy to see the song that introduced me to them on this collection as well. That song is Where’s Your Head At. I first saw the video for this song and went out of my mind. It was so strange and the music was so hard and fun at the same time. The song doesn’t really fit with the album that it is from but was happy to get the album as the other music from the album is so good.

I really like Hot Chip. The song that is in this collection is from them comes from The Warning era but was never released. The song is called My Shits On Fire Right Now. I have only heard the song one time but I like to get the rare finds from artists. Since this track can only be found here in this collection that makes it very rare indeed. It is not a spectacular song but it is very rare.

I was not as excited about the song from Air, Indian Summer. I stopped liking them when they put out Love 2. I listened to a few tracks from the album and it just did not do anything for me. It seemed to me like they had given up. Most of their music is slow but this album did not move for me. Unfortunately this song comes from that era but can only be found in this collection. Fortunately, having the song separated from the album and surrounded by these tracks gives it life.

The last track that I was really excited about from this collection was from Kraftwerk. The song is called DieRoboter. It comes from the album Die Mensch-Maschine. I like the group a lot. I would love to spend some money and get all of the recent repressings that have been put out but, although I like the group, it is just not a top priority for me at the moment.

The rest of the music in this collection is very good and I have found a couple of groups that I may be interested in looking into. The collection is of flexi-discs and I will only play them once because of this. I do recommend that, if you can find a copy, you all go and listen to the music!

This is a two track 12” remix record put out in support of RSD 2013. Jamie XX, a member of The XX, put some magic on the latest XX single, Sunset, and a new track called Reconsider. With his remix of Sunset, it becomes more of a fun dance track with new electronic drums and a cool bass line. There is a longer open to get listeners use to this new version that I like a lot. The B side track, Reconsider, on the other hand is a bit lackluster. I can tell it was remixed from something but I have not heard the original song to say what the differences are. I like the hi-hat in the drums but otherwise the song just kind of sits there and doesn’t do anything for me. I like Jamie XX remixes. I got the couple that he did for Radiohead’s last album too. He has done quite a bit of remixing/editing for a wide array of bands but I am not into his work enough to get everything he has done.

This record is probably still out there at the record shops that took part in RSD 2013 if you are interested.

I picked up this repressing for my son. He is a big fan of the group. This repressing came with a bonus 10” record for the single One Step Closer. This is a repressing of the original 10’ single. The B side is of the song My December. My December is a very weak track but works well as a B side. If you are interested in reading more about the album look at Vol. 2 Episode 49.

I picked up this repressing for RSD 2013. I had been waiting for a repressing of this in the US for ten plus years. I know that it is repressed in the UK frequently but I did not want to pay the extra shipping with the recent shipping cost increase. On top of that a used copy ran about 50 bucks. So I waited for it to be repressed here in the US for twenty bucks. There is nothing special about the vinyl, it is black, and the jacket is a single jacket with room for two records. If you want to read what I had to say about the album check out Vol. 2 Episode 5.

This was the last repressing that I got for RSD 2013. I was very excited about this record. It came as a double vinyl in a gatefold jacket. The records were orange with black and white marble. This is a brilliant record and it is too bad that the band broke up after this album. Although, they have gotten back together for an album that happened last year. If your interested in reading more about the album check out Vol. 2 Episode 15.

That is all I have for now...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Vol. 4 Episode 16

Saturday is Record Store Day! Go support your local indie record stores. I will be doing so with my family! Next weeks post will then be about my Record Store Day 2013 experience.

I believe the preorders for the new Man Or Astro-man? album will be up next week at!

The Current has announced the five acts that will be performing at Rock The Garden this year. They are: Dan Deacon, Low, Bob Mould, Silversun Pickups and Metric. As with every year of Rock The Garden, there is only one band that I would kill to see, the Silversun Pickups. I missed them on their last tour but don’t want to see the other four bands or pay the huge amount of money for the tickets. I am a member of the current but will not be going to see this set.

Here we go...

From the North Central University web page about the album, “Over the course of two Chapel services and one praise gathering night last week (February 6-8, 2013), the amazing talent of the North Central University College of Fine Arts recorded a passionate, Spirit-filled example of the live worship at the NCU Chapel.

Using the performing groups of the North Central University Concert Chorale, One Accord, Worship Live, Jeff Deyo, and an NCU Chapel packed with students, faculty and friends, more than a dozen songs were recorded live. Additionally, a team of videographers and photographers recorded video and still images of the 3 performances for production of promotional materials as well.”

I downloaded this album because my churches music leader, Jon Carlos Velez, was a part of the release. He did not know at the time that this was my side project. He had asked all of the church band members to get the album and give it a review on iTunes or whatever. I told him later after practice was over that I review albums for fun. I actually thought that I had told him about this before but it is an easy thing to forget about.

I don’t usually listen to the music that is played at church outside of church. I guess that is because the music is simple so that the congregation, who are not musicians, can easily sing along. I personally like the music more than the lyrics and so prefer difficult music and the Christian commercial bands that exist outside of the church. Bands like Pillar, Red and even Family Force 5. That being said, I can still get behind this album because it does support the up and comers that could be a part of the bands like some of the ones I have mentioned. They could also end up being church leaders like Jon Carlos. You can listen to samples of the music that I am going to talk about at the link above. 

I am going to start off with the one thing that I have a problem with on this album. Stephanie Mac Donald takes the lead vocal on the song Glory. This is a good song but my problem is that she seems to have a slight problem singing the R sound in the word Glory. The reason this is a problem for me is that this is basically all that the chorus is, repeating the word Glory. The verse comes off near flawless but that chorus makes me feel like I have a fat tongue just listening to it.

All right lets move on to the better stuff, not that Glory isn’t a good song. There are 13 songs on this album and one lead off prayer track. Jon Carlos Velez leads on three of these tracks, Jeff Deyo leads on three, Brittany Lepard has two tracks, Evan John has one and Stephanie Mac Donald has one. There are two duets with Stephanie and Evan as well. The last track is just credited to North Central University.

The tracks lead by Jeff Deyo are We Delight, Eternity, and Moving Mountains. His first track, We Delight, is a fun rock song with a simple catchy chorus. The electric guitarist stands out the most, for me, on this track. He plays a speedy riff that has a lot of distortion and echo. I have been listening to a lot of music with these sounds lately so it naturally attracted me. The second song that he leads, Eternity, is slowed down but comes off as a arena rocker with the crowd participation. His last lead song, Moving Mountains, picks up the pace. The vocals are still slow but the beat on the drums is very quick. This one also has the crowd participation but not as heavily.  Jeff Deyo comes off as a very competent music leader whose crowd cues are not so over powering.

The tracks lead by Jon Carlos Velez are, I Will Go, Your Love, and So Good. His first track, I Will Go, puts him with an opening of piano and vocal. The crowd joins in after the first line and the band comes in just after the first verse. With this one the guitar stands out for me again. The guitar is very sparse so when it is played it seems to stand out more. It is a slow song though with amazing emotion in the vocals. The second song that he leads is called Your Love. This is a slower song than the previous track. The song is simple with acoustic guitar and vocals being the base of the song. The band does come in but they are incredibly simple as well. This helps the crowd to focus on the words of the song and the meanings as they sing with Jon Carlos. His third song that he leads is called So Good. This track is a bit faster but not by much. Although the song is slow still it follows the now classic loud soft loud style that has become popular in music.

Brittnay Lepard leads on the songs Glory To God and Your Presence. Glory To God is another slow track that seems to move very well. This is probably a stand out song for me. The drums and bass work well together and the guitar sprinkled on top is so smooth and understated it is sweet when you can pick it out. Brittnay’s vocals work just as smoothly with this track too. Her second lead track on the album is called Your Presence. This track seems a bit off for me. It is almost as if she is trying to hard to make this one work. The song is good but the vocals get lost sometimes. It almost seems as if the song is too low for her vocal range. This doesn’t seem to matter much though because you can hear how happy the crowd is as they sing along.

Evan John leads on the song Exhilaration. The opening to this song is a slow build with that arena crowd chant happening. It is a good power ballad put in a new light. The track is a lot of fun and seems to get the crowd moving. This is a great track and comes in as the first track on the album after the prayer. This is probably my second favorite from the album.

The two duet tracks lead by Evan and Stephanie are Where You Are and The Bride Arising. The first of these two, Where You Are, leads with Evan energizing the crowd with the verse and into the chorus. Stephanie’s vocals come in at the last part of the song with repeated held out notes. It is a very short part but does help make the song at the end with the repeats. The second song that they did together is another grand arena rock style song. Stephanie opens the track and Evan takes over. It is kind of a trade off call and response style. The chorus is sung together and sounds very nice.

The one track that doesn’t claim a specific leader for the song is How Great Thou Art. It starts of with some beautiful female vocals and continues with that after the band joins the song. It then moves on to male vocals. I have a feeling that it was designed to showcase each of the music leaders in the collection of songs on this album. It is a good song and is a gimmick that somewhat works.

I understand that this is a live recording but it still bothers me that the music leaders have to call out cues to the crowd so that they can sing along. I get that this is the point of having worship music but it has always been something that bothers me about “church” music.

If you are into worship music then check this live set out, if not that is OK too.

This is The Oh Hello’s first full length album. It was released in October 2012. There have been no single releases from this album that I am aware of but there are some very good stand out songs contained within this concept album. The album has been recently repressed on CD and you can get a copy now for a mere eight bucks or download it at a name your own price at their Bandcamp web page. I got my copy of the CD a few days ago. The CD comes in a simple LP styled slip case with beautiful artwork created by Maggie Heath of The Oh Hello’s. I have listened to the album all the way through a few times now and find that the vocal hiss that was present on the previous EP have all but evaporated.

The very first track, The Valley, is actually a great opener. The addition of multi-tracked vocals sounds big and happy on top of the simple acoustic guitar and drums. Floating just below the vocals is a very pretty electric guitar that adds a flourish very sparingly. This could easily be a grand arena crowd chanter.

The second track that I like and the second on the album is called Like The Dawn. The song showcases Maggie’s vocals with an acoustic guitar. It is sweet and depressing at the same time.  After the opening the song fills out with drums, banjo, and additional guitar and continues with the multi-tracked vocals, making the song bigger than it seems. It is all together another very pretty song on this album.

My favorite song from the album is the fourth track called Second Child, Restless Child. This song paints a picture, to me at least, of the children of the 1930s where there were not all that many roads and kids could run and play where ever they wanted, let their minds be free. The song is fast and happy, a song that I could listen to frequently for sure.

The last song that I like off the album is called I WasWrong. It has a strong start with an electric guitar playing staccato chords. The song has the same happy feeling as Second Child but a bit more subdued. The song also keeps with the very fun multi-tracked vocals.

The album is very good. I couldn’t follow what the concept was but this may be due to the fact that I don’t really pay attention to the lyrics much. With the exception of these four tracks the rest of the album comes off as a bit depressing. This doesn’t mean it is a bad album, I quite like it actually. If they ever decided to press this on vinyl I would totally buy it. That is how much I like the album. Maybe they could add the previous EP to that vinyl pressing? (Hint Hint)

This is a split EP from White Laces (A side) and Snowy Owls (B side). This was a limited 10” record put out by Harding Street Assembly Lab (HSAL). There were only 100 of these made in various colors. It was released in 2012. I recently found a copy for sale and snapped it up immediately. The copy I found was brown marbled vinyl. I am not happy about the color but what are you going to do when there were only 100 pressed. I was very surprised to find that the download card worked still. I will probably never listen to the record because of the limited nature and the download card. I am not mad about this as it is something that I wanted in my collection.

I started collecting White Laces music when Slumberland Records tweeted about a split single that Speakertree Records was putting out by Lilys and Big Troubles. I scrolled through the Speakertree releases, not many as of yet, and found their first full length. I loved that so much I started looking into their other releases. I found out that they had put this release and a couple others on HSAL. I was disappointed that this was so limited and that I was about a year late to get my hands on it. I was very excited then to finally find a copy.

There are three tracks from White laces on this split EP. The first track is called Hands In Mexico. This is actually a single that was leaked. There are a couple of releases with this single on it since it had been leaked. This release has an additional two tracks that I didn’t have and that is why I was after it on this split. The song is kind of a moderate rocker that drives the listener to quite literally rock like it was an early 80s ballad. It is a lot of fun.

The second track is called Bastard’s Dead. This song has a similar feeling but comes off a bit darker with the heavy tom drums and bass leading the way for the most part on this track. There is also a slight surf rock feel in the break down with the bending of certain notes and heavy echo on the guitar. It is a very interesting track the way it is laid out.

The third track is called Don’t Wake Up. This track comes off hard hitting and reminds me more of a shoegaze track like Whirr or All The Saints. I like this direction. It reminds me of the start of the heavy metal movement back in the early 70s; heavy drums, heavy bass pretty guitars and strong male vocals.

The four tracks from Snowy Owls I wasn’t really concerned about but after listening to them a few times the come off as very smooth. The vocals are pushed back with the band for the most part. You can’t exactly understand everything that is said because of this. They are a good rock band to chill out to based on these four tracks. They remind me of some of the music that was popular in the mid 90s. I don’t think that I would hunt down any of their music but these four tracks are very nice to listen to.

Death Cab For Cutie – Stability EP
This was originally released in 2002. It is a three track EP and is their second. The tracks on this EP were included in the Japanese version of The Photo Album. It was a limited edition CD EP when it was released. It has finally seen a vinyl pressing with the Artist In Residence (A+R) Death Cab For Cutie: The Barsuk Years box set. This is how I got the EP. This is the EP in this box set that had the error on the labels. My copy does not have the error though.

There are three tracks on the EP. The first track is called 20th Century Towers. It is a very slow track that I feel was typical for the group at the time. They hadn’t quite found there footing as of yet but there are hints of what was to come in this track. I can hear ideas for I will Possess Your Heart for example in this track for sure. This is not a track that I want to hear over and over but it does lead one to think about where they are currently and where they were and the journey inbetween.

The second track from the album is a cover of Björk’s All IsFull Of Love. This is not one of my favorite songs from Björk but anyone who covers her music is OK by me. I like this version as it does not use any electronic sounds. It is a completely different take on the track. I want to say that all the instruments are acoustic but the electric guitar is not exactly acoustic. I also like that a male is singing female originating vocals. This has always intrigued me. Abandoned Pools singer Tommy Walters also did a cover of one of her songs, Army Of Me, and I can’t get enough of that cover song either.

The last song is called Stability. This is nearly a twelve and a half minute song. This song was cut down and renamed on the album Plans to Stable Song. The instrumentation is completely different from the version that is on Plans as well. This song is a very slow song that I could easily fall asleep to.  It is better than the first track on this EP but three times as long.

Unless you are interested in the cover song or are totally into DCFC there is no reason to get this EP. The only reason that I have it is because I got the A+R box set.

That is all I have for now...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Vol. 4 Episode 15

The new Man Or Astro-Man? album has been named. It will be called Defcon 5…4…3…2…1. It will be released on download (4/22), CD (5/21) and vinyl (5/28). Why the delay for the physical releases? They are physical releases! I believe Chunklet will be in charge of this one too.

I think there will be another single released from the new Veronica Falls Album. I have not heard which one yet.

Vampire Weekend and Daft Punk will also have new albums out next month. It has been too long since a regular release from Daft Punk has come about. I have heard the new Vampire Weekend single and am very excited for the rest of the album.

Here we go...

This has been finally released by Sub Pop. I got my copy on last Friday but the official release date was last Tuesday (April 9th, 2013). The set comes with a download but I couldn’t access it until the release date. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it is a three record set. The Loser Edition denotes the fact that this is a colored three record set. Each record is a different color; white (the original album), clear (unreleased and rare tracks), and transparent red (B sides from singles). I briefly talked about this album in Vol. 2 Episode 16. I never actually talked about the music itself though. I thought I would go through the singles and some of the rare tracks here. Also, everything extra on the double LP version is contained on this three LP edition plus more music that was not on that double LP version.

The first single released from the album is called SuchGreat Heights. This single was originally released before the album was released. The song was used in multiple add campaigns including the UPS whiteboard campaign in 2007, five years after its original release. This just shows that there is something special about the track. I even have a copy of a Christian metal rock group that covered this song in 2009. The song is simple with lots of staccato sign wave sounds and a simple key bass line that just works. Bens’ vocals are silky smooth. In the verse his vocals travel from left to right and in the chorus comes in on both channels. The programmed drums come off a bit harsh but very listenable.

The second single released from the album is called TheDistrict Sleeps Alone Tonight. This is my favorite song on the album. It is obviously a reference to Washington D.C. The song was written after Gibbars’s then girlfriend moved to the city state. The song has meaning for me because it was released and in heavy rotation on radio stations during the time when I was going through my divorce. The lyrics and slow bass line are what really speak to me. Ben sings in the chorus, “I am finally seeing, why I was the one worth leaving.” It gave me an outlet for some of my feelings during this time.

The next single that was released from this album is called We Will Become Silhouettes. This was the fourth single released from The Postal Service but the third from this album. The lyrics, and the video, allude to what life may be like in a post-nuclear future civilization. This is not my favorite song from the group but it is the song that really got me into liking the group. The music is a lot of fun but the lyrics are a bit depressing.

The third single from the band is called Against All Odds. This is a cover of the Phil Collins song originally from the soundtrack for the movie of the same name. The cover of this song was put on the sound track for the movie Wicker Park. This cover has garnered high praise from many critics with its simple design musically. I had never heard this version until I got this 10th anniversary edition of the album. It is an exceptional version of the song but gets boring after repetitive listening.

The new single, A Tattered Line Of String, is very good. I talked a little about it in Vol. 4 Episode 7. "The song is a great track filled with the classic beeps and boops that the band is known for. The drums and synth parts are the foundation for the song. The added guitar work sweetens the deal with the lovely vocals from both Ben and Jenny. It is really a great track..."

The other new song on this version of Give Up is called TurnAround. This song uses xylophone along with the standard synth sounds that the group is known for. The song is a bit harder than what is on the standard album. It is a nice change for the group. It is not what I expected but it is not a new album either.

There are other great songs in this new collection including remixes and B sides but it is still not a new album. The group is on tour this summer. Here’s to hoping that this tour will produce a new album. The Postal Service is not a priority for either of the two members of the band so it is probably a long shot that a new album will be produced at all.

This is their first release. It was only released as a download. It consists of four songs released in the end of 2011. You can still download the EP from their Bandcamp web page. They also have a full length album that you can get CD copies or download from the Bandcamp site as well. My wife found out about this group from a local radio station. They are a brother and sister group from Texas. So, to hear an indie group who is self published up in Minnesota is pretty impressive.

The track that I was introduced to them with comes from this EP. It is actually the first track on the EP. The song is called Hello My Old Heart. The song is a beautiful acoustic track that reminds me of something that Bon Iver could have done on his first album. The song is about someone who is not sure if he is even alive, asking if his heart is even beating still. He also sings, “Don’t leave me here alone.” This also makes me think that his heart may be a significant other. The one thing that I don’t like about this recording is that the vocals have a tape hiss sound. When there are no vocals the tape his is not there. This is a bad recording technique; either leave the tape hiss in for the whole song or fix/re-record the vocals. Other than this annoyance the song is fantastic.

The second track on the EP is called Lay Me Down. The male female vocal technique reminds me of a song from Edward Sharp & The Magnetic Zeroes called Home that was released in 2010. I think that I like The Oh Hello’s song better though. I can also hear the harmonics in the song resembling something from The Avet Brothers too. It is a very good song. I hope that they get more popularity. I will have to listen to the new full length album to be a better judge though.

The third track is called Cold Is The Night. This song is a bit more folk in style. It is a song about being lonely and missing the company of others. It is a sweet song that brings forth sad emotions. The story that is being told is that of the burden of life and the desire to be free of the burdens that life brings us or at least to share that burden with someone. It is a good song but it has that same tape hiss on the vocal that bothered me with the first track.

The last track is called Trees. This is a happier track about climbing trees just like we did when we were kids. It is a fun song, a happy song and a nostalgic song.

This is a great EP is you can get over the recording issues that pop up in the vocals here and there. I look forward to listening to the album, Through The Deep, Dark Valley and talking about it in the future. You can listen to all four tracks on this EP before you buy at the Bandcamp page.

This is a single that was put out for the groups’ recent 2013 tour. It was released on a new record company called Timid Disks. The company is so new that I don’t think they even have a web page yet. The record came with a panted/screened center label with no writing. I could only tell what side was what by the etching in the runout on the record. The sleeve for the record was a sheet folded over with a 7” sleeve inside. There was a single staple in the corner to hold it all together. There is a print mark in the corner that shows what number out of 335 copies you have too.

The first song, Music For Neighbors, is at a quick pace like most of their music is. The melody in the vocals is nice. It focuses mostly on the female vocals. I like it when they do this the most. The song fits and I am just not sure how they put out so many different songs that sound so much alike and still keep them separated in their heads.

The B side of this single is Never Home. is a slower song for the group. The melody between the male and female vocals is very smooth. I am always afraid that they will not match as they have done in the past. With this track the vocal work very well. The song itself is not super catchy but still works very well. I just wish that they would put all of these random tracks that they have released in one spot as there are so many of them.

This is the groups one and only release. It is a 7” on light pink vinyl. This is my first record in this particular shade of pink. This is a Slumberland Records release. I just found out about the release but it was originally released late in 2008. The reason that I bought the single is that two members from Veronica Falls were a part of this group before Veronica Falls was assembled. Those two members are Patrick (drums) and Roxanne (vocals and guitar).

The A side of the single is called Sisters Are Forever. It is a fun song stating just simply that sisters are forever. They are happy to be together no matter what the situation is. The lyrics say, “Sisters are forever, And I am so glad that you are mine, Tie us both together And then wrap us up.” It is really a fun, cute track for sisters that love each other.

The B side to the single is called Drown Me. both of the songs are the same tempo and start off with the same hi-hat hit. This was a little misleading on first listen as I thought that the same track was on both sides at first. This song has the same taste as the A side but the lyrical material is a bit depressing. I am not exactly sure if this song is tongue in cheek or totally serious. They sing about drowning, hitting in the head with a heavy rock and eating glass. This may have been fodder for the dark theme that the first veronica falls album had.

That's all for now...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Vol. 4 Episode 14

Weekend have announced the release of their sophomore album. It will be released through Slumberland Records on 7/23/2013. The first single from the album, Mirror, can be heard over at Pitchfork.

You can preorder the Part Time Punks session that Whirr did on vinyl now over at Run For Cover Records. It will be on colored vinyl. It is only four tracks though. The original cassette has five tracks. The last of the five being a demo version of  Color Change from the Grave Face Records charity series from last summer.

Here we go...

Indie Pop Lesson special set

This is a book from Twee Grrrls Club that came with a twelve track compilation record (plus MP3 download of LP) and a cute mini tote bag. It was released in Japan only. I found out about the release from Kip Berman, The lead singer from The Pains of Being Pure At Heart. He told me recently that they had contributed a demo track called Sure to the compilation. He also told me that the song was a bit faster than he wanted and that he wasn’t exactly happy with the drums. He said that Violet and Claire had copies available and that they would ship and price the special set outside of Japan. I contacted them via email and found that they still had a special version left. They sent it out before I was even able to pay for the set. I got the set in the mail even before I had paid for it, it shipped that fast. I only cared about getting the track from The Pains but after hearing the whole album I lost my mind. It is such a great compilation. It is such a fun pop album. I which that there was a US version of this because every one should hear this group of tunes! The compilation sort of progresses from the happy female twee tracks to the second half of the record with male indie pop tracks. This album is so much fun. It reminds me of Heavenly songs through to the current fun pop stuff like The Pains and Veronica Falls.

The lead of track is called I Don’t Care by Summer Twins. This track reminds me of the indie music fronted by girls in the mid 90s. Some people would call this style bubble gum pop and it is that happy type of music that inspires happiness whether you want it to or not. In moderation this is a good thing. I can’t get enough of it at the moment.

The next track on the album that I really like is called Disko Kitten by Ice Cream Shout. This track uses the bass line to hold the song together. The electric guitar is only used in the chorus of the song. The j-pop style is in your face in this track as they are a Japanese group. The noise in the bass guitar on the verse sounds so cool. The vocals are perfection in my opinion. I love hearing artists sing in a foreign language and the mix between English and Japanese is fantastic here.

The next track, Open Arms by The Garlands, is a female vocal driven speed punk track that has one of the catchiest choruses I have ever heard from this style of music. I don’t like this track as much as others but it is still a great song and fits well in this collection.

The track Night Starvation(Cleaners From Venus cover) by Catwalk has something special about it. The chorus works very well but the overall feel reminds me of The Velvet Underground track called Who Loves The Sun from the album Loaded. It just has that feel of silky smoothness for me.

The reason that I got the set was because of the track Sure by The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, like I said earlier. The song is a fun mid 80s sounding track with the drum machine and heavy synth sounds. There is still standard bass and guitar work but the early electronic sounds remind me more of the mid 80s when I was still a kid with the sparkly synth sounds and the echo synth sounds. It is a cool sound from the group that I would not have expected.

The following song in this collection called ButterflyKisses by Wallflower has a sound that I would have expected from The Pains, not that I expect The Pains to write a song like this but that it sounds like something they could write. The vocals are very similar to The Pains as well. The guitar actually stands in front of the vocals during the verse section of the song. It is fun poppy and beautiful.

The last song I like a lot from this album is called Dearest Virginia by Pale Lights. The vocals are deeper than the rest of the album and give another diminution than most of the rest of the album and kind of color the last part of the album a bit. The song reminds me of songs that were put out in the 70 by the likes of The Byrds. It is very good and I can get along with it very well.

This is a great collection if you can get your hands on it. I recommend it highly. The vinyl set is now out of print. You can still get the book if you are interested in that though. The book comes with a download of the songs on the record. I think it still comes with the small tote bag too.

This box set was finally released at the end of March, 2013. I ordered it at the end of December of 2012 and have been waiting ever since. There were a couple of complications with the manufacture of the pressing which caused the set to be delayed from its original release date. Artists In Residence (A+R) added a download of each of the albums because of this delay. The box set was limited to 1500 units that were numbered and signed by the band. The box also includes recordings that were never pressed on vinyl before. Because some of these collections have never seen a vinyl pressing they had to be remastered. The remastering was done by Roger Seibel at SAE.

Included with this set is the original cassette-only demo collection of You Can Play These Songs With Chords. The graphic is of the original cassette cover. There is a CD version put out with eighteen tracks but what is in the box set here is the original collection of eight songs from the cassette never before pressed on vinyl.

Also not previously released on vinyl and contained within this box set for the first time are both The Stability E.P. and The Death Cab For Cutie Forbidden Love E.P. Both of these E.P.s are cut at 45 RPMs. I have never heard anything from either of these two EPs and am very excited to give them a listen.

Something About Airplanes is also in this collection but was repressed a couple years back. Transatlanticism was also included in this collection. This is its first repressing since its release in 2003. I talked about Transatlanticism in Episode 30.

The last of the seven albums included in this set are We Have The Facts And We’re Voting Yes and The Photo Album. We Have The Facts has a cool die cut cover so that some of the dots on the bottom of the graphic look like they are in 3D. The Photo Album is the one in the collection that had a misprint on the label. Some of them have the label for the Stability E.P. on them.

This set is out of print but you can get them at some of the online dealers like I was, obviously, able to get my copy from A+R. From what I have seen the online dealers are selling the set for ten or more dollars above what A+R sold it for. Third party markup sucks.

This is the second full length album from Wax Idols. It was released at the end of March, 2013. This was a unique vinyl pressing because it was pressed with a black center and clear outer edge. I had never seen a record pressed in this way. This was a big part of why I got the record. I had heard a couple of tracks from the record on the Slumberland web page too and liked what I heard. The record coloring was what tipped the scales for me to get the record though.

The first, and only at the moment, single from the album is called When It Happens. The song smacks of dark 80s music. The kind of stuff that I wanted to like but radio stations just didn’t play enough of. My parents probably didn’t want me to get into this type of music either when it was cool. When I say dark I mean the likes of The Cure or The Smiths but in an all female group setting. This may sound bad but I kind of get a little ‘Til Tuesday or Pixies sound when Kim Deal is singing. The ultimate comparison I could give would be The Runaways. I guess it is not a bad thing to resemble bands like these when they did have big hits in their time. I know some bands don’t like to be compared to bands from the past but I think it is a compliment especially when they don’t mean to sound like anything but their own original sound. I know that when I write something new there are times when I intend to sound like a specific band and other times when I thy to create something totally original. I think it is a compliment to me if someone says that I have created a song that sounds similar to a band I really like weather I intend to sound like them or not.

There is one other song that I really like from this album. That song is called AD RE: IAN. I have no idea why it is spelled this way but I guess it doesn’t matter. The song seems to follow the loud soft loud style. It is excessively listenable as the loud parts are not that loud. The loud parts are actually just adding more sound with echo and reverb pedals. It is a very good song with good hooks to keep the listener happy.

It really is some great music that should not be over looked. At the very least give it a listen to see for your self.

This is the second single released from the album Waiting For Something To Happen. It was first released in the UK in January of 2013. It was released in the US in March 2013. The UK graphic is different from the US graphic but musical content is the same. They were pressed in black vinyl only, no frills on this one folks. You French folks can download the single but if you don’t live in France then you will have to buy a 7” record. I personally don’t like the frizzy haired girl on the cover of the UK version and am happy that there was an alternate graphic for the US version.

The A side of the single is Teenage. The song is a fun one. The song paints a picture, in my head, of a school student, who is able to drive, taking a friend or significant other home. They take the long way home so that the person who is not driving can listen to the music they want to hear. It is kind of a joy ride where the two of them are enjoying each others company. Then the driver drops them off at their home. It is really a cute and innocent story.  Musically, I like the ending where the lead guitar bends a couple of notes out of tune. It works so well for the song, a little dissidence there at the end like they start to not get along just at the end of the trip.

The B side of the single is called Talk About You. This one appears to be about a person’s significant other trying to find out more about the person through their siblings. After they get this info they want to talk to the person to verify that the information is correct. It is an odd way to learn more about the person that you care about. If everyone was in the same conversation I think it would be all right. To get this information behind their back is a bit underhanded. It is cute but not quite right to do it in this way. The music behind the lyrics is a bit slower than I would usually like but it does pair with the A side of the record very well. I can over look the slow problem because it matches with the first track so well.

 That is all I have for now...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Vol. 4 Episode 13.5

Sigur Rós with opening act Tim Hecker at Roy Wilkins in St Paul MN 4-3-2013

I had seen Sigur Rós two times before this concert. Once with the Ágætis Byrjun Tour and once with the Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust tour. Both of those two concerts amazing and very emotional. With this concert I was able to take both my wife and my father-in-law.

I bought tickets for this concert when they went up for sale back in November 2012. Actually, my wife got the tickets on the prerelease day. It wasn’t until after she ordered the tickets that she realized that they were standing room only tickets. She called Ticketmaster the next day and had them switched to seats. The problem with this was that she had to settle with vertical seats instead of horizontal seats. What I mean is that we sat in front of each other instead of next to each other. This was slightly annoying but not that bad really. We sat to the left of the stage, between the two sets of large hanging speakers aimed at the crowd.

Before we went to find out seats we took a quick glance at what was available from the merch booth. I was not interested in anything that the opening act was selling. Mainly because I didn’t even know who the opening act was at that time. I don’t usually buy T-shirts and didn’t even look at what was selling. I looked in the display case and saw that Sigur Rós was selling copies of the Valtari Film Experiment and the second 10” single from Valtari, I think it was Varúð. I think that there was something else but I can’t remember for sure. On the way out of the concert I did glance at the table again and saw that there were Kveikur shirts hanging on the racks. I still wasn’t interested in them though.

I was a little disappointed that we missed part of the opening act. I think it was Tim Hecker as he was mentioned in other reviews of this North American tour. When we got there he was in the middle of his set. There was a white curtain up and just enough light to be able to see him standing behind the curtain with a table in front of him. I could only assume that he had his lap top open and all the equipment he needed on the table in front of him. The music that he was playing was a bit off but still very interesting ambient music.

They started off the set with a new track from the upcoming album, Yfirborð. This new track was a slow starter. I knew it was a new track as I did not recognize it right away. I can say this because I have listened to the albums that the group has put out so much that I can usually recognize the songs at the start. It was just a sweet slow song with strange video to go with it. The curtain was still up at this point too. The video was playing on the curtain.

The Next track was Ný Batterí, from their second album. The curtain was still up and the strange video was still going strong although it had changed. The opening to the song had more noise in it than the studio version does. I recognized the song when the bass started playing as this is this part that supports the whole song. A very interesting version of the song with the extra noise.

The next song was Untitled 1 (A.K.A. Vaka). The curtain came down just as this song started. This is one of their most recognizable tracks. I think it is one of their most beautiful tracks as well. It is slow and deliberate. The video that goes with it depicts an end of the world type vibe as well. The original video was cut and changed for the tour. If you haven’t seen the video before the video playing in the concert would have no meaning at all. It was still interesting though.

The next song, Hrafntinna, is a new song. I don’t know why but this song couldn’t keep me interested. It could have been the clanging of the percussion. It was just on the edge of annoying and so repetitive. It wasn’t a bad song, just not what I was expecting from them.

They did Sæglópur next. This was another song that was instantly recognized by the opening parts of the song. It is just beautiful. It is not my favorite song but does come from my favorite album from them. This one again had the original video cut up in to something different. And again, if you hadn’t seen the original video the video playing did not make any difference to the viewer.

The next song, called Fljótavík, is one of the simpilist but most complex at the same time. It primarily uses a pump organ giving the song a humble but organic sound that could not be made without the organ. I grew up with a pump organ. I loved the sound. I have only heard two bands ever use the instrument, Pearl Jam being the other. I am not narrow minded in music, I just haven’t heard many bands use this particular instrument. I think this one touches my heart because I grew up with the instrument and have come to like the sounds that it makes because of that.

They did Untitled 6 (A.K.A E-bow) next. The bassist uses an E-bow to play the song. This version he had a bit of distortion giving the song a slightly different flavor than I am use to. It was truly amazing. I like the song in the first place but to add a little distortion to the bass was just amazing. It gave the song a new perspective. I wish I had a recording of that version of the song.

They played Varúð  next. I had never heard this track live as they did not come to my area on tour for Valtari. It was very pretty but the song just didn’t catch me like some of the others with interesting hooks do.

Hoppípolla was the next song. The song got started  and about a minute in stalled out. Jónsi (Jón Þór Birgisson), the lead singer for the group, got lost and the group had to start over. It was cute and he apologized for the error in the song. They started over and made a lovely version of the song. The video in the background reminded me of the version that was on the Ini video. Just before this they played Happy Birthday because it was the birthday of one of their road team that had been with them for quite a while.

The group then went into Með Blóðnasir from Takk… Before the song started Jónsi had his hands up to get the crowd to help sing the opening. The crowd didn’t really seem interested in singing the choral part though. This version was just as good as the studio version I think.

Kveikur was a new song from the upcoming album. The song comes off a little industrial in nature with the hard hitting metallic noises and general noise of the song. This song has a cool dark hook that I look forward to listening to when the album is released. The bass line has a cool distortion applied to it in this song too.

They played Olsen Olsen next. This is another song that is easily recognized simply by Jónsi’s initial vocals and the start of the bass line. I love this song simply because of the bass line as it is something that I love to mimic when I don’t want to be creative; I just want to play someone else’s material. It is also very hypnotic. It is a beautiful song also from my favorite album from them, their second album.

Festival was played next. Why it is called Festival I will never understand. It is one of the slowest songs that the band has released. There is nothing fun about the song. When I think of a festival I think of rides, games, kids having fun and parents chasing after them. This is a song to fall asleep to. that being said, the song is very beautiful and at one point the band stops playing and Jónsi holds out one of the longest notes that I have ever heard. He does this again later in the song but not to the same extent. It is a lovely song.

The last new song of the night and the last song of the set, before the encore, was Brennisteinn. This is an amazing track and is included on the EP that went out on the 22nd of March for ticket holders of the North American tour. I talked about the EP in Vol. 4 Episode 13. The love version of the song that I heard was just as awesome as the EP version. It may have been even better because I could feel the song through my body. The song isn’t angry, just heavy. I am very excited about this song and the new direction of the group.

They left the stage as this was the end of the set. They came back on just a minute after to perform two songs for the encore. The first song was Glósóli . This is another song that has a wonderful bass line. I am not a fan of the drum part simply because it doesn’t stay on the beat. It is an amazing drum line but it puts me off. It is a beautiful song though especially with the vocals standing in front.

The last song of the night was Untitled 8 (A.K.A. Popplagið). This one is another sweet song. The lead guitar part is played by the second guitarist on this one. I have always thought that the bassist could have easily handled this one on his own but the added dimension is very nice. It is another slower song that makes for a good wind down for the end of the concert.

I was very happy to have gone to the concert. I did not get to hear some of my favorites from their catalog though. This is not really a disappointment but I always look forward to hearing my favorites when I go to a concert. It was overall a darker concert, especially with the new songs that were played.

If you have the chance, go and see them. It will change you for the better. If you can go back in time, go see a Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust concert. I think that it was their best.

Set List:
Ný Batterí 
Með Blóðnasir 
Olsen Olsen 


If you want another perspective check out this link.