Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 5 Albums of the Year

As 2009 comes to a close, I hope the year was a good one for you. Thank you very much for checking out the blog, I hope you found something you liked and keep reading. After much deliberation and procrastination, I have come up with my top 5 albums of the year. Drum roll please...

5. Miike Snow - Miike Snow
The electronic trio released the self-titled debut in September and gained some airplay from the first single, "Animal". They can easily be this year's Peter Bjorn & John, which isn't that bad when you are a side project. Given their success, they may record again, but I doubt it, so scoop this up. If you like the vocals, check out Fires of Rome (Andrew Wyatt sings for both groups) and search for Bloodshy & Avant's production skills or remixes (the other 2 talented men of this group).

4. The Dead Weather - Horehound
Equal parts of The White Stripes, The Kills, Queens of the Stone Age & The Greenhornes this group took the greatness of each member and scorched everything in their way. Released in July on Third Man Records, the group was formed as another side project of Jack White, this time showcasing his skills behind the drum kit. Although most people would prefer to see Jack on guitar and singing, Alison Mosshart was a breath of fresh air and electrifying on stage (I caught them @ the Vic this year). Expect another album Spring of '10.

3. Mos Def - The Ecstatic
If there was a "Comeback of the Year" award, the mighty Mos Def would have received this honor as well. After the dreadful "Tru Magic" most people thought he was losing his focus with his attempts to break into acting. Maybe he heard this, because The Ecstatic is rough, confident and banging. Check out "Quiet Dog" or "Casa Bey" for tracks only Mos Def could release and I thank him for doing so.

2. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
This could have been the year of Andrew Bird, but the Kings Of Leon and my #1 band stole some of the spotlight, and rightfully so. On his past albums there were points of absurdity and loss of focus which can be attributed and forgiven due to his immense talent. This time he manages to stay the course and seamlessly blend the album into a flowing mixture of sounds and emotion. I drove all the way to Colorado this summer to see this man and I'd do it again. For those of you looking for a challenge, try the limited edition double album "Noble Beast/Useless Creatures" for a second album of instrumentals and fragments. It's a brief peek behind the curtain.

1. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
You can catch these guys everywhere because they have been EVERYWHERE. Despite very little popularity in the states, this French band reinforced my belief that good music will find it's way to the masses. The album is flawless with every track worthy of being a single and DJs took notice. Take a spin around Hype Machine and you could get dizzy at the amount of remixes out there for every song. "Lisztomania" may start the party but "Love Like a Sunset" and "Countdown" keep it going.

Who knows what will happen next, but I think I have a pretty good idea. Come back next week for the "Albums of 2010" post and my first blog of the "Alphabet Project". Be safe and thanks again for reading, it was a damn good year...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eddie Vedder @ the Kennedy Center Honors

Last night CBS broadcasted the Kennedy Center Honors, a show that honored Bruce Springsteen among others. The night started with a tribute to Robert De Niro and an amazing musical number for fellow honoree (and genius) Mel Brooks. But like most things he does, Bruce and his music stole the show. Well-respected artists stepped up to contribute to the night (John Mellencamp, Ben Harper, Melisa Etheridge & Sting) and long time friend and fan, Eddie Vedder dug deep and performed "City of Ruins". Check it out, and jump on YouTube to see Eddie cover a few other Bruce gems like "Atlantic City" or "Growing Up".

Monday, December 14, 2009

Welcome to my complete music library...

I'm not sure how many people have encountered this dilemma and it may sound absurd to a few. But, I am only 8 gigs short of maxing out my current iPod. When I bought the 160 gig model, I never imagined that I would fill it. However, with the accessibility of torrents my library seemed to double over night! That being said, no one really needs this much music. In fact, you probably only listen to a few artists with the rest just taking up space. The only question is: What do I get rid of? As I scroll through the artists, that question gets heavier and heavier.

So in an act of utter stupidity I have come to a very democratic and time consuming conclusion. I will actually listen to every song/album/artist I own. If it sucks, it's gone. Do I really need Bishop Allen's "October EP", or Matt Pond PA's "Measure"? My hope is to have a leaner, kickass iPod at my disposal and enough room to continue to find and enjoy new music. So let's begin...

Here are the rules:
1. I will listen to them alphabetically. The first artist is A-Trak, up next Ac/Dc, followed by Adam Ant, etc.
2. Because I appreciate the idea/concept of the "album" I will listen to the album in it's entirety as it was intended to be heard.
3. After completing the letter, I will post a blog about something great, something I found, or something about a band and their career.
4. If you want a more detailed account, I will send out a tweet from my account (theearlynerd) every time I start a new band.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dave Grohl: 10 Questions

Occasionally you find an artist or band that is cool no matter what. For everyone who thinks it's about the "music", yes it is. But being a rock star has such an exotic flare, you can't deny that you didn't jump off your bed with a broom in hand thinking you were shredding a solo. Some bands seem to roll into popularity with the trends (ahem, the Strokes), while others stay the same and that makes them popular. Dave Grohl, and practically everything he associates himself with, has endured and persevered to make some fantastic music. Who else can claim ushering in the grunge movement (Nirvana), tackling classic rock (he was the touring drummer for Tom Petty shortly after Nirvana ended), introducing stoner rock to the masses (his drumming on Queens of the Stone Age's "Songs for the Deaf" is phenomenal), accurately defining the term Supergroup (see Them Crooked Vultures) and ruling the pop charts and Mtv audience (Foo Fighters)? Simply put, the guy can do know wrong...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Introducing: Drummer

Drummer is the newest side project of Patrick Carney (drummer for the Black Keys). Their debut album "Feel Good Together" started shortly after Dan Auerbach (guitarist/vocalist for the Black Keys) embarked on a solo tour to support his latest album, Keep It Hid. The name of the band is taken from the fact that ALL members are currently drummers in another band. Stepping a bit out of their comfort zone each member has taken on a new instrument, except Gregory Boyd who plays drums on the album to make a wonderfully indie pop album. Although no future dates are posted on their site, I hope they will continue to make music because the album is great beginning to end. "Feel Good Together" is their first video and a good sample of the rest of the album.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Andrew Bird Concert Info

If you haven't had a chance to catch Andrew Bird on tour supporting his critically acclaimed album Noble Beast, you are in for a real treat. In the holiday spirit, he will play three shows at the Fourth Presbyterian Church next month. General on sale is this Saturday @ 10am, with a presale starting tomorrow @ 10am. Because I'm a nice guy and absolutely love his work (I drove to Colorado to see him play Red Rocks with Death Cab for Cutie), I would encourage everyone to catch this show. The presale code is "cozy". Tickets are relatively cheap, from $20 for general admission and $40 for prime seating. I do have to warn you though, this will be an instrumental show. So if you enjoy his work and are hoping for a few of your favorite tunes, you are out of luck. That being said, he is still a briliant musician capable of some awe inspiring moments with his violin. Plus, how often do you get to see a concert in a church, or even go to church? You bunch of sinners...

Last month he recorded two shows that will be compiled into a dvd some time next year. Among the highlights were "Fitz & Dizzyspells", "On Ho > Oh No", a new track called "La Lucitania" and my favorite "Anonanimal". Please feel free to download a track from the show as an introduction to his work by clicking the down arrow in the player.
Anonanimal by theearlynerd

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ben Gibbard & Jay Farrar @ Lincoln Hall

Ben Gibbard & Jay Farrar played tracks from their recent collaboration, the Jack Kerouac inspired, "One Fast Move or I'm Gone" to a sold out crowd at Lincoln Hall last night. The two met after contributing to the new Kerouac movie of the same title. The pair decided to make 12 songs based exclusively on Kerouac's work and the result is dark folk album with occasional shades of country and blues. Opening with "California Zephyr" the mood was set early as an attentive audience let the band accent and expand the material. Throughout the set, both singers split vocal duties and hopped onto keyboards when needed. Despite both being accomplished artists, the secret weapon of the night was in fact Mark Spencer who played a gorgeous slide guitar and spooky keyboard during "Breathe Our Iodine", the chugging, gritty highlight of the show. Being a huge fan of Ben (and Death Cab For Cutie) I was ecstatic when he chose to add "An Open Letter" to the set, a hidden gem he wrote with Styrofoam.

As far as the venue, Lincoln Hall showed the growing pains of a place that has been open for only 2 weeks. Although I would definitely purchase tickets to another act there, it does come with a disclaimer. If you choose to see a band perform there, get there early and on the floor. The second floor is nothing more than a railing around the top with limited viewing at best. It got so disappointing and crowded, some people chose to leave the show after not being admitted to the floor and unable to see from the second floor. At one point I was told that if I went to the bathroom, which is outside the floor area, that I might not be permitted back inside. Thankfully a manager came over and did his best to assist people trying to get back to friends, but it lead to a few headaches and complaints. I kind of have to wonder if the owners of Schuba's may have bitten off more than they can chew by trying to make an upgraded edition of Schuba's. The stage was awkwardly large which lost a bit of the intimacy, but I'm sure the venue will eventually find its' image and atmosphere.

The posted song is from their recent appearance on KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic", one of the best radio shows in the country.
One Fast Move by theearlynerd

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Bloody Beetroots Get A Deadly Remix Just In Time For Halloween

The Bloody Beetroots recently released Romborama and have been remixing tracks for a couple of years now. The Italian duo of Bobby Rifo and Tommy Tea formed in 2006, releasing albums through the always cool, Dim Mak Records. Similar to Justice or MSTRKRFT, the beats are very aggressive. After seeing them crush the DJ tent at Lollapalooza this year, I've kept my eye on them and you should too. I have no info on the guy who cut this remix, but he took a great song and made it even tougher. Download it now and immediately toss it into your Halloween mix...
Warp 1.9 (GTRONIC BadAssRMX) by theearlynerd

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Claudio Sanchez Unleashes "Kill Audio"

Claudio Sanchez, lead singer of Coheed & Cambria just released his second comic book series and this one seems to be getting a lot of good reviews. Kill Audio is a 6 issue series following the adventures of our hero, Claudio.

For those of you not familiar with Coheed & Cambria, all of the group's material is based on The Amory Wars. The story is ridiculously elaborate, taking place in a large solar system named Heaven's Gate. "Coheed" and "Cambria" are the mother and father of Claudio, a savior for the war torn galaxy. Some people have talked about it's similarities to Star Wars, but I found that if you listen to the music and read the comics it works very well. FYI, Coheed & Cambria (the band) are hard at work in the studio making a new album based on a prequel to The Amory Wars, so this could get very confusing. However they have promised to release a series of comics in chronological order to tell the story further.

One character from The Amory Wars is Jesse "The Prize Fighter" Inferno which has lead to the creation of a new band called? The Prize Fighter Inferno! Taking away most of the progressive rock and punk in their other band, this one tends to lean more on electronic beats. All of this is quite meaningless if you either hate Coheed & Cambria or hate comics, but I love both so check out any of the music or art and enjoy the trailer for Kill Audio below, featuring music from The Prize Fighter Inferno. Just so you know, the stories do not have any relation, nor do the intersect so you can pick up a comic from this series without wondering if you missed anything. Lastly, those interested in purchasing the series with variant covers can click here, yes I know that is very geeky.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Volcano Choir - "Island, IS" Video

As I patiently wait for the webcast of Bon Iver's set from this year's Austin City Limit Music Festival to start, I can't stop listening to this track from Volcano Choir's "Unmap". A collaboration between the talented Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver) and members of the group Collection of Colonies of Bees, the first single is a good representation of the full album. Please don't expect anything as lyrically honest as Bon Iver's "For Emma, Forever Ago". Volcano Choir manage to say very little, using Justin's voice as just another instrument in a very lush and atmospheric tone. Also, don't expect any live dates soon with both bands having an already booked schedule. That might also be the reason for no actual members being in the video, instead something reminiscent of the classic game Simon.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Phoenix Remix Album

After catching Phoenix last month at the Aragon, I can see what all the fuss is about. Their music is energetic and catchy, just the right stuff to make a crowd go nuts. They have been growing in popularity with their recent release "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" and rightfully so. The album is stacked with great songs, my favorite being "Love Like A Sunset". Of course with hype and talent comes remixes, and if you take a look at Hype Machine you will be amazed at how many are out there right now.

It seems that some bands have so much confidence in the original product, they welcome remixes. Radiohead, Bloc Party & Interpol all have released remixes and in the coming months, you will see remix albums from Kings of Leon and Phoenix. "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Remix Collection) will be released on October 13th, with some very good artists contributing. The track below is not on the new album, so enjoy and let me know what you think. I'm using Soundcloud now, which is so much better than Imeem. Just click the arrow on the player to download and that's it. You're welcome...
1901 (Alan Wilkis Remix) by theearlynerd

Friday, September 25, 2009

John Mayer - "Who Says" & Other News

John Mayer officially released his new single, "Who Says" via Twitter this morning. The song has been circulating for a while, given the fact that John regularly plays the Hotel Cafe in California while working on new material. The official release date of his new album "Battle Studies" is November 17th, and so far he has announced 2 special shows with the John Mayer Trio. His 3rd Annual Holiday Revue will be at Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego on December 29th and he will also play The Joint @ Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas on New Year's Eve.

The tone of the lead single and other songs that have leaked is very introspective, as if he might be returning to a softer, acoustic side. "War of my Life" and "Heartbreak Warfare" have a sense of honesty that people rarely see, since he is usually shown in tabloids as a drunken bafoon. Honestly, I could give a shit about who he's dating, or how much his jeans cost. He makes great music and puts on an amazing live show. Fall/Winter tour details will be coming shortly. Right now, you get the first single and the other link is to a full, "secret" show earlier this year.

Hotel Cafe: 6.14.09

Who Says by theearlynerd

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blakroc, you've been warned

Just heard about this the other day, and I gotta say I'm excited. The wonderfully talented Black Keys have made a hip-hop album with some great MCs (Mos Def, RZA, Raekwon & Qtip to name a few)under the name, Blakroc. You'll have to wait a while for this, it's scheduled for release on November 27th, but from the teaser (posted here) and the full length video on their site, it should be worth the wait.

Monday, September 14, 2009

U2 @ Soldier Field - 9/13

What happens when you put together a great band, average album and ridiculous stage? A bit of awkwardness, to say the least. There is no denying the fact that U2 is the biggest band on the planet, an honor they have earned by putting out great albums and even better shows. But the current 360 Tour and jaw dropping "claw" seemed too much even for them. Making matters worse, the recent "No Line On The Horizon" just doesn't seem to have the energy and attitude to keep up with such an overpowering stage.

I've never seen a U2 audience sit down so much, there simply was no momentum. With an unlimited arsenal of hits at their disposal, they instead chose to force SEVEN new songs on the audience. Of course it is a given that every band will play their new songs in an effort to avoid being a nostalgic act, but this album just doesn't have the hits. Showing poor judgement (a real rarity), U2 managed to take their most recent hit "I'll Go Crazy, If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" and play it as a remix, leaving most people who wanted to sing along, lost and confused.

There were shining moments, the sing along during "I Still Haven't Found (What I'm Looking For)" gave everyone a moment to feel like something bigger, and better. "City of Blinding Lights" was gorgeous, showing the true beauty and power of the stage. I began to feel some energy as "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" with a little "Rock The Casbah" outro made Soldier Field shake. But that was just false hope as the show took a left turn into "save the planet, love everyone, you can change the world", slowing down "Walk On" and "One" to a crawl. By the time the closer, "Moment of Surrender" finished most people were already leaving the building or watching the embarrassing display of Cutler and Co. on one of the TVs by the concessions.

You might want to slurp off Bono, but anyone there last night didn't have the best experience possible and I expected much more from them.
1. Breathe
2. No Line On The Horizon
3. Get On Your Boots
4. Magnificent
5. Beautiful Day
6. I Still Haven't Found (What I'm Looking For)
7. Elevation
8. Your Blue Room
9. Unknown Caller
10. Until The End Of The World
11. Stay
12. Unforgettable Fire
13. City of Blinding Lights
14. Vertigo
15. I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
16. Sunday Bloody Sunday
17. MLK
17. Walk On
18. One
19. Amazing Grace
20. Where The Streets Have No Name
21. Ultraviolet
22. With Or Without You
23. Moment of Surrender

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lollapalooza Week - A-Trak

A-Trak gained attention as Kanye's DJ and by remixing some really good songs. Younger brother of Dave 1 from Chromeo, A-Trak has produced Kid Sister and released some great tracks on his label, Fool's Gold. He got a crappy slot, spinning @ Perry's tent at 5:45, right when most people will be making their way to the main stages to grab a seat for Kings of Leon or Depeche Mode. But, good news is on the way... A-trak will be playing a free afterparty @ Sonotheque. Life has a way of working itself out.

My Sneakers (ft Lupe Fiasco) - A-Trak

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lollapalooza Week - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

With the last minute cancellation by the Beastie Boys, New York's finest indie band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have come to the rescue. I had the opportunity to catch them at the Aragon a few months back while they were in town supporting their new album, It's Blitz. Although the new album is their strongest to date, I have a fear that they may never top the beauty of "Maps". Check them out on Saturday as they close out the Bud Light stage.

Maps (acoustic) - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lollapalooza Week - Ra Ra Riot

There are numerous things I like about Ra Ra Riot. First, they are a Syracuse band. Second, they are signed to Barsuk Records. Third, they were on the bill for one of the best shows I've seen this summer with Death Cab For Cutie and Andrew Bird at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. But most importantly, after losing their original drummer John Ryan Pike to a tragic drowning, they put on a brave face and have continued to gain fans with an amazing live set. Don't trust me? Roll out of bed early and catch them Sunday at 12:30 on the Chicago 2016 stage.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lollapalooza Week - Passion Pit

Passion Pit's latest album, Manners can really get the party started. I sure hope their DJ skills are just as good, they are spinning @ Berlin on Thursday with Brazilian Girls. What a perfect way to start the festivities. They are playing the Citi Stage, Sunday @ 5, see ya there...

Sleepyhead (Neo Tokyo Remix) - Passion Pit

Friday, July 31, 2009

Lollapalooza Week - Bon Iver

So Lollapalooza is one week away and I thought I'd be a nice guy and give you a few goodies as we get oh so close... For the next seven days, I will post a video or song from an artist that is scheduled to play this year. I promise it will be something worth checking out. I'll do my best to get you a remix or acoustic version, definitely not something you've heard before.

Bon Iver has been playing daily on the iPod for the last year and I don't see it changing anytime soon. With a new collaboration called Volcano Choir and a rumored gig working on the next Twilight soundtrack, expect much more from him. Please check him out, he's playing the Playstation stage, Friday @ 3pm.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pearl Jam Debut "Backspacer" Album Cover

Pearl Jam chose an unusual and slightly annoying way to debut the cover of their latest album, Backspacer, scheduled for release September 22nd. Wednesday morning, on numerous websites, they gave you one piece of a nine part puzzle. Upon finding all nine pieces, the cover would be revealed and fans would get access to a limited download. The art accompanying this post was found on Once again, Pearl Jam has found a new way to get news out, and are really showing some creativity now that they are no longer signed to a major label. If you are inclined to search, have fun, it took me about 3 hours. For those of you with limited time on your hands, enjoy the song below, a demo of "Speed of Sound". You can pre-order the album on their website, the tracklisting is:
1. Gonna See My Friend
2. Got Some
3. The Fixer
4. Johnny Guitar
5. Just Breathe
6. Amongst The Waves
7. Unknown Thought
8. Supersonic
9. Speed Of Sound
10. Force Of Nature
11. The End

Speed Of Sound (Unreleased EV Solo Demo Version) - Pearl Jam

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Dead Weather - The Vic 7/28/09

After listening to The Dead Weather's Horehound for the last month or so, I was hoping that my expectations weren't too high for the show. With only one album out, most bands play a very short set and usually don't have the ability or time to change the studio version into something better live. Thankfully, this band is full of top notch musicians who pounced on the opportunity to play loud, occasionally jam and energize an already salivating crowd.

First and foremost, please allow me at least 5 hours to tell you how great Alison Mosshart(The Kills) is... She is the epitome of a lead singer and anyone hoping to draw in a crowd while nailing the vocals should take notice. I will be honest, I normally do not like female lead singers due to the fact that they don't convey the same emotions and usually keep the vocals on the high end, normally ruining rock music. Alison Mosshart is not your typical female lead singer. Most guys would struggle leading a band with Jack White (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs) on the drums, or even near the stage, but she demanded attention and more than held her own.

Even Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs) took it up a notch, swaying back in forth during some fuzzed out riffs and removing his trademark leather jacket. Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) might have been the most valuable player last night, seamlessly moving from guitar to keyboard, often during the same song. But the attraction is and will always be Jack White, who can really hit some skins, but got the biggest applause when he strapped on a guitar and let loose. If you were fortunate enough to see last night's show, you realized this side band may turn into a full time gig, because the audience was dying for more when the lights turned on. They are playing again tonight, maybe that will satisfy me, for now...

1. 60 Feet Tall
2. Bone House
3. Hang You From The Heavens
4. You Just Can't Win (Them cover)
5. So Far From Your Weapon
6. Cut Like a Buffalo
7. A Child of a Few Hours is Burning to Death (West Coast Pop Art Experiment cover)
8. Rocking Horse
9. No Hassle Night
10. Will There Be Enough Water
11. Forever My Queen (Pentagram cover)
12. Treat Me Like Your Mother
13. New Pony

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Julian Casablancas To Release Solo Album

Julian Casablancas, lead singer of the Strokes took an interesting approach to announce his forthcoming album, Phrazes for the Young. Eerily similar to something you might have seen in a dirty movie theatre in the late 70's, a trailer is posted on the website. No vocals accompany the trailer, instead a collection of images and very lush, electronic tones. While most people have given up on the Strokes, especially since their solo works have done well (Little Joy, Albert Hammond, Jr.), I think they are great together and on their own. As far as I know, together they are working on demos and hoping to have a new album out in early 2010.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Beastie Boys Cancel Upcoming Shows

Those of you looking forward to catching the Beastie Boys at Lollapalooza, or any of their upcoming shows will have to wait a bit longer. M.C.A. and Ad-Rock sent out this video in an email explaining the situation this morning. Get well soon...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Discovery Makes It A Little Better...

So for the last 2 weeks, I've been slightly unmotivated to write about music. Say what you like about Michael Jackson, but him and the Jackson 5 were a great amount of joy for me. Growing up in my house you could hear anything from Motown to Metal, and I can still think back to my mom cleaning while "I Want You Back" rang through the house. His death has seemed to polarize people like I've rarely ever seen, but I hope regardless of what side you're on, you appreciate the music...

In one of those, "As someone dies, someone is born" kind of ways, I recently got a copy of Discovery's debut album, LP. The partnership of Rostam Batmanglij & Wes Miles sounded like a very promising idea from the beginning. Rostam is a member of Vampire Weekend, one of my favorites and Wes is in the very underrated Ra Ra Riot. Given their bands and the type of music they already make, I was expecting a lush, acoustic based album that would rock you to sleep on a beach at sunset. I was wrong.

Discovery is a electronic band, based on 808 beats, auto-tune vocals and 80's R&B. Coming from 2 guys in indie rock bands, it's a bit of a stretch, but they pull it off by not acting like they belong, instead just love that type of music. Their fans, who have made a very good album that can play at the club and a bbq with little difference. Highlights include "Orange Shirt", "Can You Discover?" a remake of Ra Ra Riot's "Can You Tell" and a cover of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back". Not the best cover I've ever heard, but right now it was a reminder of how far Michael Jackson's influence spread.

I Want You Back - Discovery

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Clipse: Kinda Like A Big Deal ft. Kanye West

Remember Kanye before he went all robotic on 808's & Heartbreak? Don't you like that guy much better? Me too... The Clipse are set to drop their 3rd album, Til The Casket Drops on September 8th. "Kinda Like A Big Deal" is the first single, and it's hot just in time for summer.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Brendan Benson - Finally!!!

In 2002, while watching 120 Minutes on MTV, I stumbled upon Brendan Benson and his beautiful song, "Metarie". Not expecting much in return, I hesitantly bought his album Lapalco and I am thankful for that. Lapalco was his second album, I had missed the boat on his first, but the music, the hooks, the lyrics, it was all there. How was this guy under the radar? Based out of Michigan at the time, now hanging around in Nashville, Brendan knows how to make a song that will stick in your head for days.

He found slight success with The Alternative To Love, even getting a coveted iTunes ad for his song "What I'm Looking For" in 2005. But most people, if any, know him from The Raconteurs, his band with Jack White. Sharing songwriting and guitar duties, the band hit the ground running and have put out two phenomenal album. I was happy to see him get some well deserved recognition, but also hoping for another solo album.

Countless demos later, we hear news that he will release his 4th album, "My Old, Familiar Friend" through ATO Records on August 8th. Even better news is a tour will start around the same time, with a stop at Schuba's, an incredibly small venue for such a great talent. The local show is August 20th, tickets on sale now. The first single is "A Whole Lot Better" which I can't track down, but another tune has surfaced, "Feel Like Taking You Home" and will be up shortly. For now, check out the video that started it all...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Phoenix - Lisztomania "Unofficial" Video

Some of these last posts have gotten dreadfully long, and that's really wasn't my plan. So for reading and hanging in there, here is an awesome video created by avoidantconsumer for Phoenix's "Lisztomania". The band has seen it and support it wholeheartedly, even posting it on their myspace page. Like MGMT and Vampire Weekend last year, it seems more and more music is finding it's way to 80's pop, and who doesn't love that...

Pearl Jam - New Album, New Single, New Video Game & Target?!?

It has been a busy last couple of days for the men of Pearl Jam. Rumors began circulating last week that Pearl Jam were going to play a secret show at the Showbox in Seattle. Given the fact that they are currently recording a new album, heading out on a brief tour of Europe and playing a handful of North American dates, this seemed like a typical warm up gig to look under the hood and kick the tires. Then word spread that Director and long time friend, Cameron Crowe was going to film the show. Could this really be happening? Was it a new DVD? They aren't actually going to put out a video, or a single, are they? Just hours before debuting "Got Some" on Conan's new gig, Pearl Jam's manager shed some light on the show and future plans...

Pearl Jam is currently unsigned and have no intentions of signing to a label for the upcoming release, Backspacer. This really isn't a shock, since they managed to go without a label on their last record as well, with a label only handling the distribution deals. The shocking part is that Pearl Jam will in fact partner up with Target as an exclusive large retailer. The secret show last week, was actually a commercial filmed with actors. Needless to say, a few fans are pissed.

Since I have the podium, I'll tell you that I completely support what they are doing, and have absolutely no problem with them selling the record exclusively at Target. My reasoning with that is because the "exclusive" isn't really that exclusive. Confusing, I know. Pearl Jam will make the album available for purchase through their website, independent record stores and Target. That's it. You can't buy it at Best Buy, or Wal-Mart, your options are limited. While we are on the subject, I would encourage everyone to buy it directly from PJ's site. Their last album arrived at my door BEFORE the release date and with an extra live disc from '92.

Almost immediately people began to yell "Sell Out" and cry hypocrisy, but this is the nature of the business and without a label, they really are doing the best that they can. If you sign to a major label, you do not own your master recordings, you share a large percentage of the profit with the label and get distributed to anyone willing to buy. At least now, Pearl Jam can release anything they want, whenever they want and still get it out across the country. I will say that I am surprised by their actions of late, but if a major label is not going to get them on talk shows, booked for concerts, generating income and buzz, they got do it on their own, and boy have they been working.

Last night's performance was not their best, but I'm anxiously awaiting the album and I'm sure they picked up a few viewers who weren't even expecting to see them. Next up a wave of commercials, although I have yet to see Target really advertise any release. Prince's latest was mentioned briefly, but not plastered across the country. Last, but certainly not least, two weeks ago Pearl Jam gave fans notice that they were receiving their own edition of Rock Band. Yup, they have a video game. In typical fashion and possibly because they want to give Sony/Epic a final "fuck you", the version will be comprised of only live versions. Those live versions are currently being voted on by fans, so it will definitely satisfy the hardcore fans. The band that hid for so many years is coming out to play...

Beatles - Rock Band Trailer

I find it unbelievable that some music lover could be so against games like Rock Band or Guitar Hero. On the other hand, I am incredibly pissed I didn't think of it first. Air drums and jumping off sofas with a broom were daily activities for me... Whether you are a fan or not, it seems that they are here to stay with the most exciting version so far being "The Beatles". I know some people have thoroughly enjoyed Metallica's recent version. I myself am heartbroken that the Van Halen edition with be for Guitar Hero as well, but c'mon, it's THE BEATLES!!! Coming out 9.9.09 (revolution #9, anyone), this is the first trailer with footage of 10 songs. God it's gorgeous... Enjoy!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Phish Kick Off Summer Tour, Release 1st Single

A reunited and reinvigorated Phish played Boston's Fenway Park last night, opening night of their highly anticipated summer tour. The Vermont based group had a remarkable run during the 90's, leaving no room for debate as to who would lead the jam band genre and continue the legacy of the Grateful Dead. Signed to Elektra in '91, each album outsold its previous and the tours expanded to arena and festivals. Before Coachella and Bonnaroo, Phish took it upon themselves, throwing elaborate festivals which included on-site camping, general stores and of course multiple sets by the band.
But as time went on, little cracks started to appear. Band members spoke openly about the responsibility of running a business. A business that supported numerous families and fans that had made the decision to religiously follow them. In late 2000, the band officially announced a hiatus, citing exhaustion and most importantly, lack of creativity. In the summer/fall of '97, Phish played arenas mixing funk, bluegrass, folk, jazz & rock, sometimes within the same song. But only 3 years later, the music sounded tired and lifeless.
In 2002, the band felt as though the time off served them well and decided to regroup, tour and release the album, Undermind. However, it was immediately evident that the band needed more time off. The album, better yet the band, didn't seem to have the energy and most of the songs resembled abbreviated demos. Their first single, "The Connection" wasn't even 2 and half minutes?!? Rumors of arguments and tantrums started to build, with news of lead singer Trey Anastasio being heavily addicted to heroine. Consequently, touring was sporadic and sub par. In 2004, they officially broke up, leaving behind more than 20 years of music.
Earlier this year, a clean and sober Trey, along with the rest of the band announced a return. They played 3 shows in Hampton, VA and we're officially back. Although the shows did show some rust, what most people were excited about was new, exciting music. Introduced on March 6th, "Backwards Down The Number Line" hinted that Phish was intent on making quality music and could still play. In a gracious gesture to the fans, Phish also offered all three shows for free on their website for a limited time. Based on the number of downloads, it's safe to say the people still love Phish.
Before the tour, Phish hit the studio with producer Steve Lillywhite to record a new album, due this summer/fall. The 1st single, Time Turns Elastic is a 13 minute epic that I can't wait to hear live. The tour will run through late summer, with local shows played at Alpine Valley and Toyota Field. From what I've heard so far, last night's show was great (copies are already circulating on the web). Here's last night's set, I'll be at the June 20th show @ Alpine, and more than likely the Toyota show as well.
Set One:
Sample In A Jar
Moma Dance
Chalk Dust Torture
Bouncing Around The Room
Poor Heart
Limb By Limb
Wading In The Velvet Sea
Down With Disease
Destiny Unbound
Character Zero
Set Two:
Bathtub Gin
David Bowie
Time Turns Elastic
Curtis Loew
You Enjoy Myself
Good Times Bad Times
Tweezer Reprise

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cool Kids - Black Cab Session

For those of you who don't know about the Black Cab Sessions, the concept is simple. Invite an artist to play one song, in one take while riding in the back of a cab. At least this is normally how it goes, but the Cool Kids make the most of it, freestyling and have a good laugh while cruising London. Check out the site, they have some really great artists and post new ones all the time. My favorite is Bon Iver, but since Em decided to drop a craptastic album this week, I decided some real hip-hop deserved recognition.

Eminem - Relapse Review

Once upon a time Eminem ruled the world. That may seem like an exaggeration, but if you were able to escape Slim Shady from 1999-2002, you were either dead or living in a bomb shelter. After releasing "The Slim Shady LP", you simply could not avoid him. Everyone had an opinion from your little cousin to elected officials. But as B.I.G. said: "Mo Money, Mo Problems"... With every album came more awards, more lawsuits, more drugs and most importantly, more expectations.

Not counting Curtain Call (The Hits) and The Re-Up (Mix Tape), Relapse has been five years in the making and quite honestly, it sounds like it. What happened to the hit making, controversy stirring icon that had Marilyn Manson and Elton John on speed dial? When did he become so boring, even worse predictable? Produced by Dr. Dre, check. Song about Mom, check. Goofy single mocking current celebrities, check. Physical abuse, check. Violence, double check. One thing that has changed is Eminem's attitude. Some critics, notably Rolling Stone have praised the album for it's honesty and introspection, but I prefer him at his best, angry and hostile.

Maybe I expected too much. Maybe I wanted him to push the boundaries. Maybe I'll look at this record in a few years and see a real transition. Right now, I'm thinking, maybe he's just a one trick pony.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wilco - Cover, Tracklisting & Streaming

Although Wilco's seventh album, titled "Wilco (The Album)", is not scheduled for release until June 30th, the band is offering fans the ability to stream the entire album for free on their website. This of course comes after the fact that the new album has in fact leaked and is available on numerous sites. I haven't listened to it more than once, but fans should not be disappointed.

Here's the Tracklisting:
1. Wilco (the song)
2. Deeper Down
3. One Wing
4. Bull Black Nova
5. You & I
6. You Never Know
7. Country Disappeared
8. Solitaire
9. I'll Fight
10. Sonny Feeling
11. Everlasting Everything

As more and more albums get leaked, some as much as 2 months before their scheduled release. You have to wonder how much longer cds and record labels will be around? Why would an artist work so hard on material, just so they can hand it over to a label for a percentage of the profits and the possibility of a leak? But that's a topic for another time...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Dead Weather & Conor Oberst Concert Info

As summer approaches, the calendar gets filled with more and more shows...

The Dead Weather will play 2 shows @ the Vic, July 28th & 29th. Any show that Jack White has played in Chicago has sold out. I'd expect this one to go quick, as well. A presale will happen tomorrow, Wednesday at 11:00 am. You will have to sign up for info on their website to get access to tickets. General on sale is not available at this time. I'd guess this weekend.

Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band will play the Metro, July 14th. New dates were announced today, cryptically saying that tickets will go on "later this week". No on sale date or even announcement of the Metro's website. The new album is really good, but if you can't afford both shows, this one might not sell out.

I'm working on some more stuff, thanks for checking this out and the comments. Go see LIVE music, any live music.

UPDATE: The Dead Weather presale starts Friday @ 10am, password: tdw. Conor Oberst tickets go on sale at the Metro's website, Friday @ noon.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pearl Jam Coming To Chicago

For those of you who may not know me very well, Pearl Jam is my favorite band, period. Over the years, they may have lost some of the celebrity status, definitely losing a large chunk of their earlier audience. But for those that stuck with them, they have continued to release entertaining music and perform exhilarating shows. Some of their demise, could be directly attributed to them, like refusing to make a video for their second album, VS. You could also say that music trends changed as they often do. Remember Biscuit? The sole purpose of this blog is to introduce you to good music and get you going to show, and without a doubt Pearl Jam is a band you have to see.

Pearl Jam will be returning for 2 shows this August (23rd & 24th) at the United Center. A presale is currently going on for the 23rd (password: brother), and both shows will go on sale tomorrow at 11:00 am. These 2 dates, plus another in Toronto are so far the only summer dates in North America, excluding festivals. I know some people may think catching any band from the 90's is a bit of a nostalgia trip, but like U2, they have continued to put out relevant music and know how to get a crowd roaring.

For those of you interested in a trip down memory lane, go see Poison or Journey! You also could buy the recently remastered version of their debut, Ten. Go to the website to check out the 4 editions they have available, it's just crazy how much they have put into the Super Deluxe Edition! Lazy people, I've attached a video for your viewing pleasure. Watch, then remember how awesome they are, then buy tickets...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Coldplay Live Album Set For Release May 15th

Coldplay announced today that they will release "LeftRightLeftRightLeft", a 9-song live album recorded during the Viva La Vida Tour. Fans attending the final leg of the tour will receive the cd at the gate. Even better, Coldplay will have the CD available for download on their website at no charge.
Here's the Track listing:
1. Glass Of Water
2. 42
3. Clocks
4. Strawberry Swing
5. The Hardest Part/Postcards From Far Away
6. Viva La Vida
7. Death Will Never Conquer
8. Fix You
9. Death And All His Friends

This is not the first time Coldplay has given away music. They released "Death Will Never Conquer" on the opening night of the tour, not to mention remixes and holiday singles. A good gesture from a filthy rich band. It almost makes me forget "X&Y"...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Matt & Kim - Great Video, Great Album, Great Band

I don't watch MTV or listen to the radio, so I'm hesitant to ever call a group an "Artist to Watch", so let's just call them "Approved". The Brooklyn based duo (Matt Johnson & Kim Schifino) released their second album "Grand" in January and I've been hooked ever since. Is it Punk? Dance? Possibly Electro-Pop? Who cares? It's good. I might have kept this group in the bag, never mentioning them had it not been for this video. It's not groundbreaking, it's not visually stimulating, it's not original, yet somehow it's perfect. Pick up the album and check them out at Pitchfork this year, you know that "other" music fest in Chicago.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lollapalooza - Hits & Misses

This year's Lollapalooza lineup was announced and in my opinion it's very good. I realize that some of the big name acts may be older than you would expect (Depeche Mode, Beastie Boys, Jane's Addiction), but I think other acts appeal to a younger demographic as well (The Killers, Kings Of Leon). I know you can't please everyone and if there is a glaring mistake, it is the lack of Hip-Hop artists this year, but I can count at least 25 bands I want to see this year. Here are the bands not to be missed (excluding headliners).

1. Bon Iver - I had his album "For Emma, Forever Ago" as my best album of 2008, absolutely beautiful. A simple acoustic folk, with lyrics of a broken relationship and a winter of solitude. To show it wasn't a fluke, he released the "Blood Bank EP" which is embarrassingly good.
2. Band Of Horses - I totally missed them when they released their first album "Everything All The Time", but the follow-up "Cease To Begin" was played as much as any other album last summer. Sounding eerily similar to My Morning Jacket, you can expect southern rock and textured jams, minus the funk.
3. The Knux - The New Orleans Hip-Hop duo actually got me excited to hear beats and rhymes again. Mixing guitars, keyboards and a live band element, they managed to take the best of Outkast, The Roots and A Tribe Called Quest. If that doesn't sound good, please stop reading this and never speak to me again.
Honorable Mentions: MSTRKRFT, Ra Ra Riot, Silversun Pickups, Vampire Weekend, The Decemberists

Now of course everyone can't play, some may have had scheduling conflicts or simply got overlooked, but these artists should have been asked.

1. Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band - No Conor Oberst band has ever played Lolla which is somewhat strange. Bright Eyes played Bonnaroo in '06, The Mystic Valley Band played ACL last year and pulled into Coachella last week. Add to that, that they are releasing a new album "Outer South" next month, for the love of god, why aren't they playing?!?
2. Birdy Nam Nam - This one might just be something overlooked, or not yet on the radar, but "Manual For Successful Rioting" is a killer album. Four French Djs who have won numerous competitions, including the DMC Technics Championship would absolutely blow up Perry's tent! I have yet to see any US dates, but a man can hope, right?
3. Sebastien Grainger - The other half of the now defunct, but still awesome Death From Above 1979, Grainger put out his first solo album and still can make great music. My guess is that with MSTRKRFT on the bill already (he is not speaking with former band mate, Jesse F. Keeler), Perry just had to choose. I refuse to quote Rodney King...

All in all, it's still a great lineup. By no means am I upset with all the great acts put together this year. Tickets are currently $190 for a 3-day pass, see ya there.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Death Cab For Cutie @ The Aragon Ballroom

If you blinked, or just stopped keeping track of Death Cab For Cutie, you might have missed that they have developed into a simply great band. Without a new album to support, they made the most of 2 hours by playing old favorites (The New Year, President of What?), hits (Crooked Teeth, I Will Possess Your Heart) and new additions (My Mirror Speaks, No Sunlight) with energy and force.

This being my third time seeing them, I was a little worried that some of the songs would feel old, or dull, but surprisingly they really do age well. I mean, it's a given that they will play "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" and close with "Transatlanticism", but every time they do, it's a sing-a-long with 3000 sweaty fans. You anticipate it, time your beer run by it and every time it's just as good... How do they do that?!?

Other highlights included "Cath..." taking on more life than the album version, Ben Gibbard praising Wrigley Field while mentioning that Cub Fans use high amounts of vulgarity in front of children, and "A Diamond & A Tether". My wish from the "Open Door" blog came true and it did not disappoint. "A Diamond & A Tether" is quickly racing to the top of my "Top 25 Most Played" playlist on my iPod and might stay there a while. Probably not the best thing to play at a wedding or club, but heartbreaking lyrics always get me. Check out what you missed...

1. Marching Bands of Manhattan
2. The New Year
3. We Laugh Indoors
4. Crooked Teeth
5. President of What?
6. My Mirror Speaks
7. No Sunlight
8. Title Track
9. Grapevine Fires
10. I Will Possess Your Heart
11. I Will Follow You Into The Dark
12. Title and Registration
13. Cath...
14. Fake Frowns
15. Long Division
16. The Sound of Settling
17. Bixby Canyon Bridge
18. A Diamond & A Tether
19. A Movie Script Ending
20. Soul Meets Body
21. Transatlanticism

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Dead Weather

Jack White has assembled yet another group and once again, it's fucking great... How does he do it? The Dead Weather features Alison Mosshart of the Kills on vocals, Jack Lawrence of the Raconteurs on bass, Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age on guitar and Jack White happily behind the drum kit. After the Kills opened up for the Raconteurs on tour, White and Mosshart got together and quickly put together the album "Horehound", due out in June.

Although it may seem surprising that Jack White does not play guitar, it should be known that he started on drums early in his career. After dueting with Alicia Keys for "Another Way To Die", the theme from Quantum Of Solace, White admitted he wanted to play drums and produce a band from that angle. The result is "Hang You From The Heavens", the first single, enjoy...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

4 weeks and counting... Conor Oberst

When I saw Conor Oberst last fall supporting his first "solo" album, I noticed two things. One, he wasn't the vulnerable, shy frontman with a quivering voice I saw during his Bright Eyes days. Two, he obviously had written more than twice the songs needed for the album. Normally, when a band/artist put out their first album you can expect to hear almost the entire album because it's the only material they have. But, if Conor Oberst has taught us anything through his numerous identities (Commander Venus, Park Ave, Desaparecidos, Bright Eyes), the man is always writing and making great music. With his self-titled "Conor Oberst" not even a year old, another album "Outer South" is scheduled for release on May 5th.

This time around, Conor is shining some light on the folks that helped him make both records and played with him on tour, The Mystic Valley Band. Recorded at Sonic Ranch Studios, just outside El Paso, Texas, listeners can expect the same southern style, folk/rock that never seems too loud or slow. Among the 16 tracks are a few that were played on his last tour, including: Slowly (Oh So Slowly), Ten Women, Nikorette & I Got The Reason. One song I am curious about is "Eagle On A Pole", a great acoustic song that was already released on the first album, but making a second appearance on the new album as well.

If that wasn't enough, if you simply needed more. Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band will also release "One Of My Kind" on April 15th, a documentary filmed over the past year and a half filled with behind the scenes footage in the studio and on tour. The video will be available to stream or download for FREE at and Conor's site.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pete Yorn Releases 1st Single Off New Album

Pete Yorn has released the first single, "Don't Wanna Cry" and artwork for his upcoming release, Back & Fourth. The album was recorded at Presto! Studios in Omaha, Nebraska with the very talented Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Jenny Lewis, Rachael Yamagata). The first single is Pete at his best, an acoustic guitar, great lyrics and subtle textures (pedal steel, horns, mandolin). Despite most of his recognition coming from upbeat, rock tracks like "For Nancy (Cos It Already Is)" and "Life On A Chain", they really don't showcase his skills. Slower songs like "EZ" & "The Man" have always been my favorite and I'm glad to see the new single following this path.

Early fans should not be disappointed either, another song "Can't Hear Anyone" is also posted on his website, retaining his rock sound, just not as loud. Back & Fourth is scheduled for release on June 23rd. "Don't Wanna Cry" is available on iTunes/Amazon and Pete will be the opening act for a few Coldplay show this summer.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

MSTRKRFT - Fist of God

It's been 3 years since MSTRKRFT's debut "The Looks" and in the scene of Electronic music, that can seem like an eternity. On their latest release, Fist Of God, the Canadian duo (Jesse F. Keeler & Al-P) embrace change while attempting to keep their sound in tact. The result is a series of highs and lows, a step forward and sadly a step back. MSTRKRFT changes very little in their productions and sound, almost every track is filled with the standard "Fuzzed" synth that made "The Looks" such a great album. Surprisingly, that still sounds fresh, but some of the other beats go on too long, stopping the momentum and begging you to hit fast forward. Do not give into that temptation, because the mix and sequence of this album is the best I've heard since Justice's "Cross". If they intended to make a complete party album, they have succeeded, with a few hiccups.

The opener "It Ain't Love", featuring Lil' Mo is a huge step forward. Instantly recognizable, upbeat and with a killer break at 1:38, not to mention the addition of vocals, something missing from their debut. In fact, 8 of the 11 tracks on "Fist Of God" are collaborations with the other 3 being beats used to keep the tempo and usher in another song often seamlessly. Other highlights include "Fist of God", a club banging beat with stuttering vocals that leads into "So Deep" featuring Jahmal, a hint of where R&B may be heading. MSTRKRFT has already remixed Usher's "Love In This Club" and John Legend's "Green Light", while producing at least one track on the forthcoming Black Eyed Peas album. Jahmal's high range vocals stay completely in step with the energy, at times reminiscent of Michael Jackson's "Off The Wall" era, quite an accomplishment.

For the complete opposite, look no further than "Heartbreaker". John Legend's bass, low end vocals drag the track down so much it is the only time in the entire album that there is not a mix into the following song. I cannot see any possible way for "Heartbreaker" to lead into "Fist of God" without it sounding completely out of place. My guess is neither could MSTRKRFT , but the pause is so obvious it almost points out the weakest track on the album. The biggest disappointment comes courtesy of "Word Up" featuring Ghostface Killah. Talk about a monumental waste! Ghostface is one of the hottest MCs and for him to not even have a verse is inexcusable. "It's all in the fuckin/Do it Hard" for 3 minutes seems more like a sample and if that's the case, they could have dug through any of his great albums for a crushing line, or two.

Despite the missteps, Fist Of God is still a very good album due mainly to the fact that you can play it straight through (a rarity these days). Add to that, a few fresh voices and good beats and you have an album that should keep you entertained, if not moving on the dance floor. Another saving grace is of course, the remix. Before the album was even in stores, remixes were hot and ready to serve. For your listening pleasure, one of my favorites... Fist Of God ( RE.edit).

Fist of God ( Re.Edit) - MSTRKRFT