Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ben Bridwell & Band of Horses Wander With a Broken Heart

Band of Horses' latest release "Infinite Arms" is quite a surprise, with subtle changes to their sound while making their most cohesive record to date. Gone are the building epics that fans are used to (Is There A Ghost, The Funeral), and for the most part so is anything with a upbeat tempo. The opener "Factory" lays the groundwork for the album with aspects continuously appearing later on. One that is unmistakable is the mention of specific locations or the idea of traveling. We find ourselves in hotels, apartments, speaking of log cabins and the difference between a house and a home. A catalog of places that we've found to escape or get over a relationship gone wrong. It's obvious that somewhere on this journey, a relationship that lasted too long has finally given up.

This is where Band of Horses is at their best. Ben Bridwell has a voice that oozes emotion and regret. Two highlights are "Blue Beard" and "Evening Kitchen", the latter being as blatantly honest as Death Cab for Cutie's "The Ice is Getting Thinner" about the inevitability of the end... "And if you're ever left with any doubt/What you live with and what you'll do without/I'm only sorry that it took so long to figure out". "Blue Beard" is by far the best song of the album, a song filled with questions and very little answers. A song that finds comfort in the words "I don't know". That might be the beauty of the record. Knowing that you reached the end, but something else is on the horizon. At no point does the album drag you down, instead it just lets you know that everyone goes through this, just not as beautifully sounding as this band.

Infinite Arms is out May 18th, and the band is opening for Pearl Jam on a few Midwest dates. I'll be front and center at the Verizon Wireless Music Center in Indianapolis next week. Check out the album preview below and please catch them if you can.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Alphabet Project: C

Artists: 48
Albums: 146
Songs: 1339

Compared to the letter B, this one was not only enjoyable, but very comforting. I started this project thinking that I may have lost my way with music. With music so accessible and in most cases free, I have the tendency to hear about a band and then find a copy for instant gratification. So over the past few years, my collection has ballooned and my hope was to revisit old tunes and remove things I never actually enjoyed. The problem is; that I really haven't removed anything. But, I can sleep at night knowing I actually enjoy every note of music on my ipod.

The first artist I want to talk about is Cake. Despite their knack for finding infectious guitar riffs, most people would think of them as a novelty act. A band that had some success in the 90's only to disappear into oblivion. But they are not Harvey Danger, or Barenaked Ladies, or Fastball. Chances are you have a copy of "Fashion Nugget", but have you ever really listened to "Motorcade of Generosity"? There are some very good songs on that album, notably "Ruby Sees All", "Mr. Mastodon Farm" and my favorite, "Jolene". The funky jangle riff just kills me every time.

Chromeo caught my eye last year at Lollapalooza. I had a copy of "Fancy Footwork" and totally wore that out. Initially I thought the sound and nostalgia of keyboards and synthesizers would get old, but it didn't. Whether they want to be categorized as Pop, they really are. Simply put, they grew up on 80's music and instead of calling it lame (like most people would) they do their best to fill every minute with hooks and lyrics that will make you want to dance and call your girlfriend from 8th grade. A new album should be out this summer, so check them out.

Last but not least is a band that I've listened to for a very long time, Counting Crows. Thankfully, through the years they have continued to put out really great music and even better shows. My first show was in Kansas City for the "Recovering the Satellites" tour and after I realized they were in fact playing songs I liked, just different versions, I was hooked. It's hard to explain, but never go to a Counting Crows show expecting to sing along, you will be incredibly embarrassed. Adam Duritz just has his clock set to something different, something more honest. I never knew the meaning to most of my favorite songs until I saw them live. The one line you missed, or never paid attention to because you were screaming at the top of your lungs is right there in front of your face. Please, please, please go see them this summer. For those in Chicago, they'll be playing Ravinia on August 21st, see ya there.

Did you ever wonder why their debut was called "August & Everything After"? Here's your answer.
   August and Everything After (Live) by theearlynerd

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Bloody Beetroots "Domino" Video

How do you make The Bloody Beetroots better? How about adding a member and live instruments... They clearly are trying to expand the electronic music boundries and I love it. I've been told there were a lot highlights to this year's Winter Music Conference, but their set at Ultra is at the top of everyone's list. I want to see them again, and again, and again.