Tuesday, September 30, 2008

From Rodeos to Records:
Ryan Bingham

Only a spits distance from Texas and barely boasting over 30,000 residents lies Hobbs, New Mexico, the hometown of country singer Ryan Bingham. Now hear me out and keep reading. I'm no big supporter of country music and I once heard from an opera major that those who failed in singing end up as country singers. Talk amongst yourselves. I would dare to define Ryan Bingham as a country singer. Due to his rooted melodies, raw voice and lack of a "produced" sound, I'd call him a great example of the Americana format. In case you're not familiar with the loosely defined Americana genre, think country with some more rock and roll, folk and stompin' blues influences all meshed together. Yes, it is a cousin or step brother of country. On we go...

Ryan Bingham is to blame for many Boulder Sunday-goers staring at me this past weekend. Driving next to bagel shops and coffee hangouts early Sunday morning, my Subaru was blaring his sounds with windows rolled down for the world to share my excitement. Bingham spent time as a stereotypical country bumpkin competing in rodeos on top of the bare back of a bull. According to Wiki, his songs are remnants from the rodeo life and his fractured family that moved around the New Mexico and Texas plains for most of his childhood. During my research of what little there is out right now about Bingham, I was most taken aback by the great quotes people have already stated about this 27 year-old artist.

"Bingham talks and sings with a whiskey-and-cigarette throat that screams hard living. Hard in a way that can make a 25-year-old sound like a 50-year-old Tom Waits." - Texas Music Magazine

"Bingham will be one of the names to drop in 2008, with an album that sounds as if it's been unearthed from 1972." - BBC Folk and Country Review

"earns his sepia-toned album cover with a dusty wood-and-steel sound, and despite being twenty-five, sings like Steve Earle's dad." - Rolling Stone

Binghamn's 2007 album, Mescalito, is out now on Lost Highway Records. If you dig raw Ryan Adams, Stoll Vaughan, classic Earle, Rev. Peyton's Big damn Band, Wilco and Bragg on Mermaid Ave...you're in for a two-course dessert. His first single was "South Side of Heaven" followed by my favorite, "Bread and Water." (video here)

Ryan Bingham - Bread and Water

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Vampire Weekend
makes Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist

New Vampire Weekend already? In my humble opinion, it's not soon enough. After my friends finally caught on to their spectacular sound via Monolith 2008, I felt a sigh of relief that I wasn't the only one (I know) to notice their lineage to my favorite artist of all time, Paul Simon. Well, a new song is out from the New Yorkers as they help bulk up a pretty strong soundtrack for the new flick, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Yeah, it's Michael Cera (George Michael Bluth, that boy from Juno) along with Kat Dennings (The 40 Year-Old Virgin) in the film that is to be released on October 3rd.

Vampire Weekend - Ottoman

I will say it's a pretty damn good soundtrack. But, being a film based on music much like Juno, Garden State, High Fidelity and on and on, I'm not sure this bears the weight of its predecessors. Don't get me wrong all you analyzers of this here ol' blog. I'm not "above it" or stating this soundtrack ISN'T good. In fact, it is better than great. I'm just saying that if you're expecting this soundtrack to create the pandemonium that Braff did with Garden State, you may be anticipating too large of an earthquake. On I go...Vampire Weekend does compliment this collection of great indie-ish gems. It'd be impossible to put out an "average" soundtrack with artists such as Vampire, Band of Horses, Devandra Banhart (now think Natalie Portman), Bishop Allen, Shout Out Louds, and Mark Mothersbaugh appearing. Speaking of, the very first time I heard "Ottoman" on this soundtrack, I immediately thought of Mothersbaugh and the moods he set in Rushmore, Tenenbaums, Rugrats, and Zissou. Coincidence?

All in all - another fantastic soundtrack music gurus will have to acquire. Several staples in the rising indie scene, another Vampire Weekend playlist addition, and even a few artists I have not heard of yet...I'm sure a few surprises will be awaiting me during my listening session this evening.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Indianapolis - Part 3:
Margot & the Nuclear So and So's

Fact 1: George Bush pronounces the word "nuclear" as "new-kew-ler"
Fact 2: Margot Helen Tenenbaum is super.
Fact 3: Unbeknownst to me, Indianapolis has handfuls of great artists.

Margot & The Nuclear So and So's become the third installment of our Indianapolis spotlight series. They are a band with a strong connection to Wes Anderson's masterpiece, The Royal Tenenbaums, and I can't blame them. Before the formation of his current band, guitarist and vocalist Richard Edwards was in the band Archer Avenue, which was named after the street the Tenenbaums lived on. Being a bit facetious and pulling inspiration from Bush pronunciation blunders and the legend that is Margot Tenenbaum, Margot & The Nuclear So and So's formed in 2005.

Margot & The Nuclear So and So's have that quintessential raw sound that the populous identify as "indie." Hold up - this is no disrespect to the band or a knock on their originality. In my book, it's still OK to be labeled as "indie" as that term lost it's meaning once Sub Pop signed their one-billionth artist and charged more for the film licensing of their "indie" artist than U2. I digress. One listen to the pop-rocked "As Tall As Cliffs," built upon beautifully mastered layers will have you humming along in no time and tapping the toes with confidence and smiles. The piano, lighthearted tempo and trumpeted silliness almost overshadow the seriousness of the lyrics. Due to the depth of the lyrics and instrumentation and the fact that I've played it over 12 times today alone, this is a track that will most undoubtedly grace many upcoming mix tapes. Then there's the opposite of Margot's artillery...the slower-paced and shadow brimmed "A Children's Crusade on Acid." It's a true breath of fresh air to hear the (I repeat) layering's and orchestral make-up that went into Margot and Co's songs regardless of theme or mood.

If you're in the mood for some lighter indie rock with an adventurous but balanced circus of noises, Margot & The Nuclear So and So's should fill the shoulder's chip. Think Boy Least Likely To with a few more members and deeper melodies. Think Arcade Fire or Bright Eyes stripped of some raw angst and darkness. Oh, I bet I get some heat for that one! Edwards is not shy of going falsetto and pushing his voice, which is few and far between on my current play list and deserves and extra high five. Margot Tenenbaum has lent her name to a deserving band but don't expect the musical group to deliver such a dark and uncomfortable comedy act...that's saved for Bush's influence! Margot and Co. release Not Animal via Epic Records on Oct 7. Here are two gems from the upcoming album that have been hogging my ears.

Margot & The Nuclear So & So's - As Tall As Cliffs

Margot & The Nuclear So & So's - A Children's Crusade on Acid

Monday, September 22, 2008

Indianapolis - Part 2:
Born Again Floozies

There was a "Part 1" a few moons ago and thus a "Part 2" must follow. This is the second installment featuring artists from Indianapolis. Surprisingly, this band band calls Indiana home, though it seems more proper if this band were from the busker-burlesque backbone that is Paris or New York City. The Born Again Floozies consist of a few tap dancers, tuba, trombone, guitar and an early 1920's marching band drum.

Sexy and seductive tap dancers? Yes. Think Yard Dogs Road Show, Puppini Sisters, and a smidgen of DevotchKa. Can I also say Tilly and The Wall since the Floozies tap style and sounds remind me of Moulin Rouge or the line-gals in Vegas?

def. (noun) floozie - a prostitute who attracts customers by walking the streets

The Born Again Floozies have been described as "voluptuously surreal," "a rock band with extra members," and "Fellini-esque songmongers." The vixen beat-keepers hold true to the floozie definition with their raw clanking sound produced by the duo, tapping on old oak slabs. Here is their birth

The Born Again Floozies are out with a new album from Triple R Records/Half-Naked Music (BMI) titled Street Music (13 Rebellions and a Song of Consolation) which is for sale now.

The Born Again Floozies - We Got The Power (Love Letter From America)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monolith 2008 Recap...at least a bit

Monolith is now over but well enjoyed. Unfortunately, I wasn't unable to attend the biggest and most populated show of the event - Vampire Weekend, but I did enjoy the gorgeous sun, uncontested acoustics and views of the Red Rocks venue and an array of fantastic bands that I had not seen before. The attendance and organization was not what I nor the event planners could have expected. I will say that the crowds patience, energy and even absence still allowed for a well-executed, high-tempo'd, yet relaxing day for most all involved. I attended with my friends - adventurers, runners, and climbers - that were easily mistaken for Michael Jackson impersonators all day long...especially Josh and Whit! Instead of a full-on Monolith review, I'll give you my top 3 highlights from Sunday in no particular order.

Talk about knocking my socks off and making my jaw completely drop! The Parisian duo that makes up Justice deservedly headlined the Sunday evening slot and despite a set cut short by electrical problems, they had no problem wowing the crowd.
With their 12' by 12' set-up of Marshall speakers (actually, light display cases) on each side of the stage and their genius lighting technician that somehow kept beat, they didn't have to do much more to captivate the awaiting audience. But, they did. Xavier de Ronsay & Gaspard Auge of Justice built the prefect crescendo of a show with their constant build-up of thumping beats combined with insertions of rock and vocal layering's and their confidant poise on stage. If you want to see two guys that know they own any given crowd, look no further.

Unfortunately, Justice's show was cut short by an electrical outage which resulted in one of the members throwing their keyboard on the stage front in frustration. Though many were disappointed in the anticlimactic ending due to the outage, it seemed most fans knew it was not Justice's fault and still left the evening in awe by the power, mass dancing, and shock value the duo produced.

Justice - We Are Your Friends

Aside from the complete unexpected uppercut that Justice gave me, The Avett Brothers were my favorite act of the day. Fans were confused as to how to categorize them. Rockabilly? Singer-songwriter? Punk-Americana? Right on? Armed with only a kick-drum, acoustic banjo and guitar, Seth and Scott Avett wailed their powerhouse vocals, strumming and lightning bolt-inspired dancing to Red Rocks. The duo were backed by only a cello and a stand-up bass but could've fooled anyone not watching the stage that an entire amped rock band was dishing the sound made by acoustic instruments. Here's a rough example of what I'm talking about:

Avett Brothers - Shame

Ah...The Kills. After giving a nice "fuck you" to the Monolith staff who caused them to start a generous 20 minutes late, The Kills captivated a crowd by combining Alison Mosshart's Juliette Lewis-esque via Natural Born Killers attitude with some freaky sounds with tantalizing beats queued by guitarist/badass Jamie Hince.

The Kills definitely belong in some upcoming Tarantino or Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en) flicks due to their freakishly organized songs that rely on strong beats filled with off-kilter audio feedback and muddled lyrics. Yes, The Kills made my top 3, just ahead of headliner bands like Band of Horses, TV On The Radio, Tokyo Police Club, and Sharon Jones. This group has the tendency to disturb the onlookers but hooks them in with their "I could give a shit that you love our style and sound" presence.

The Kills - URA Fever

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Sharp End and
Everything Absent or Distorted

Well, I took a couple of days off to cope with a hectic schedule and now the cat nap is over. I just finished compiling the soundtrack for Sender Films. Their new film, The Sharp End ,features the very best outdoor/adventure athletes, nut-jobs, and characters in the world on climbing, B.A.S.E. jumping, mountaineering, tower jumping, and frolicking excursions. The film is on the road now headlining the Reel Rock Film Tour and here's glimpse of what you'll see.

The director, producer and I crammed over 30 songs in this rather small production. Despite the nationally recognized bands we used in the film, the songs from an emerging local band were the ingredient that caused many jaws to drop when accompanied by the cinematic and hair-raising footage. Everything Absent or Distorted (A Love Story) are from Denver though their numerous members commute from a large radius in order to attend practices. They've played Red Rocks, opened the homecoming party for Devotchka and have been touted as the best "unknown" or "underground" powerhouse in the Denver music scene. Think Clap Your Hands Say, The Polyphonic Spree, Arcade Fire, Voxtrot and Devotchka.
E.A.O.D.s 7 members are of the most humble rockers/composers you'll ever come across and I find it almost odd that these quintessential quietly-genuine characters are the same people that conjure up the sounds that blast Red Rocks and the hoards of fans. It's also odd that they actually thank ME for the opportunity to appear in the film...whereas it is me that is honored to have their art and music accompany such amazing footage. E.A.O.D. is currently finishing up a new album but you can order their previous work, The Soft Civil War E.P., from Needlepoint Records here or at iTunes. Here's a taste of the diversity and orchestral-like sounds you can expect.

Everything Absent or Distorted - Bureau of Yards and Docks

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New Joshua Radin

You've heard his voice on Scrubs, Grey's, Catch And Release, Brothers and Sisters, Idol and The Last Kiss. He's woo'd crowds on the late show rounds, headlined The Hotel Cafe Tour, supported KT Tunstall and Ingrid Michaelson on tour, and even ended up dating a co-Hotel Cafe Tour member/singer-songwriter Schuyler Fisk (pron. "Skyler"). Who's that? It took my friend Whitney all but .36 of a second to screech "Oh-my-God, that girl starred in The Baby-Sitters Club!" when a then-anonymous girl with a vibrant smile and burnt red hair passed us in the Fox Theater. Whitney was correct. Schuyler not only was Kristen in the BSC, but is also an avid performer, singer, actress and daughter of Sissy Spacek. Ellen DeGeneres considers Radin one of her favorites...so much that she brought him on her show and had him perform at her wedding to Portia de Rossi.

Radin on Ellen

But, this is about L.A.-based (Ohio-born) singer-songwriter Joshua Radin and his new album. Joshua Radin attended Northwestern University with his good buddy, Zachary Israel Braff (Scrubs, Garden State), who ended up using a few of Radin's songs in his television shows and eventually, a few of his movie soundtracks. During the filming of Braff's re-make of The Last Kiss, Radin and Fisk penned "Paperweight," one of their most notable songs over the course of one late night. Oddly, this song appeared on the soundtrack but was never heard in the actual movie because of how integral the song was to Braff during the filming.

Radin's new album, Simple Times, arrives on iTunes today and in stores on September 30th. In support of his new album, Radin will be hitting the roads on national tour with Missy Higgins starting in October. His new single, "I'd Rather Be With You," is what you'd expect...a relaxing whisper of a song with light-pop backing. Nothing outstanding, but certainly great.

Joshua Radin - I'd Rather Be With You

Oh yeah! little trivia here: Most make fun of Radin's constant whisper-like singing style and think he's afraid to unleash a bit. Not true. Radin had a daytime job, forcing him to sing very quietly as he practiced through the late night hours.

Monday, September 8, 2008

It's Monday...it's slow today...laugh it up.

Now don't get all cranky, fussy, or preaching equal rights to me today...it's comedy and only entertainment. At the office, we stick up all the weird, off-beat and completely hilarious album covers up on display right near my desk and one album stares at me all day...I don't stare at it, mind you.

Rodney Carrington, the musician and comedian from Texas, has an artillery of albums and songs out for your redneck or comedy collection. Yes, albums such as Nut Sack, Morning Wood and King of the Mountains carry such singles as "Letter To My Penis," "Titties and Beer," "Today's The Day My Wife Met My Girlfriend," "Prison Bitch," "Burnin' Sensation," "Gay Factory Worker," and the song below, "Show Them To Me."

If anything, it's a free porn-fest when ever you perform it

Show Them To Me

Friday, September 5, 2008

Knights of Cydonia - Best Video Ever

OK, I've heard the song a hundred times but my buddy Tom, over at Vector Defector, reminded me to watch what we consider the best music video ever made. Going back two years, Muse released "Knights of Cydonia" and hit 8 back-to-back home runs, 14 hole-in-ones, 3 half-court game-winning shots and two last minute field goals with their accompanying video. To help you judge the video, I've taken the grueling liberty of finding the criteria for the best video ever (see below).

Get ready to live.

Muse - Knights of Cydonia

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, Eric Hutchinson

Eric Hutchinson has had the most response from my friends this year of any band I've introduced. Every time I casually slip his disc into my car or home stereo, I automatically get the "who the hell is this and why don't I have this on any of my mixes you made me" response. Don't get me wrong, I love this guy. But, I guess I overlook him often when making mixes or, as we can see here, blogging.

Eric Hutchinson, born in 1980, has that pop-prowess like Mraz, some funk-soul edge like a young Stevie Wonder and some definite tambourine and piano skillz. I always give a thumbs up to tambourine use. Hutchinson now resides in NYC and has opened up for Blind Melon, Mraz, Joe Jackson, Marshall Crenshaw and G. Love. Hutchinson's "new" (if you still consider 2007 "hip") album from Warner Bros. Records, Sounds Like This, will most positively get your head grooving and your feet stomping. Surprise your friends with this disc during a road trip or a fun get-together and I'll bet you get harassed about this!

Eric Hutchinson - Rock & Roll

Eric Hutchinson - You Don't Have To Believe Me

Oh, and another track I suggest you get is "All Over Now."