Saturday, June 11, 2011

maria taylor 06/02/11 live dallas tx

Maria Taylor, after her 2010 stint back in the reformed Azure Ray, is now plotting the release of her fourth solo album, Overlook - which is set to drop on August 16th (via Saddle Creek, which just feels right).

A few weeks ago the first single came out - In A Bad Way, which you can buy here (comes with a remix of a second track from the record, Idle Mind, plus a truly lovely demo version of the song Orchids, from her third record LadyLuck). The new single is interesting, and makes me wonder about the direction the production will be taking on the new record. It feels a lot more stripped down then the dreamy-ness and layered sound of her previous records, but it's still a great track showcasing her strengths of a songwriter. Definitely has me ready for the new record.

Maria's also out on the road - supporting Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (formerly of Drive-By Truckers). Had the chance to see her last week in Dallas, at the Barefoot at the Belmont series (a great set of shows each summer at the Belmont Hotel put together by local radio station KXT 91.7.)

As much as I liked the single, the new tracks she played at the show made me even more excited for the new record - especially the fun new sing along, Bad Idea? - a track (as Maria put it) about being 35 years old, but living like you are 21 and asking yourself the question is this, or is this not, a bad idea? I can't comment on that, but I can say the song is awesome and Im ready to hear the studio version.

Overall a great little 45 minute set - and Dallas had the added bonus of hearing a stripped down psuedo acoustic set as the 400 Unit's van had broken down in Tulsa, and was carrying the gear they were supposed to be using. I know Maria and the band was ready to rock - but personally I was happy to to get a unique outing.

Here are some live tracks from the show and her remaining tour dates - and be sure to check out her new single above..

Live MP3 MP3s:
Clean Getaway
Intro to...
Bad Idea
Intro to...
Song Beneath The Song

Tour Dates:
Sat 06/11/11 Boise, ID Old Idaho Penitentiary
Mon 06/13/11 Vancouver, BC Biltmore Cabaret
Tue 06/14/11 Seattle, WA Tractor Tavern
Wed 06/15/11 Portland, OR Doug Fir Lounge
Fri 06/17/11 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall
Sun 06/19/11 West Hollywood, CA Troubadour
Mon 06/20/11 San Diego, CA The Casbah

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

yuna 03/17/11 SXSW

Every year there's a couple of bands that just make the trip to SXSW worth it - those bands or artists that eclipse everyone else that you see and make you realize why you love music, and are willing to drive for untold hours into the heart of Texas for a 25 minute set.

Since this is my sixth SXSW in a row (wow time flies), I can say that in 2006 it was a solo Britt Daniel show and seeing KT Tunstall at Waterloo records. In 2007 the honor went to St Vincent and Page France. 2008, Clare & the Reasons (no contest)... 2009 was Wildbirds & Peacedrums, and seeing Whispertown play on a sidewalk. In 2010 it was Amber Rubarth and Dan Black - two artists who are about as diametrically opposite as you can get, and in 2011 it was without a doubt Yuna.

Though we may not know it, Yuna is a star. A bright shining, lovely 24 year old star in her home country of Malaysia where she released a self-titled EP back in 2008 (and like many others, effectively utilized MySpace to gain a ground swell following). Her single, Deeper Conversation, a simple and spare yet stunning gem of a track went on to huge acclaim and Yuna ended up winning "Best English Song", "Best Pop Song" and "Song of the Year" at the 2009 AIM awards, which is Malaysia's music awards. Not bad!

So - who does Yuna sound like. Well her inspirations are acts like No Doubt, The Cranberries, and Fiona Apple, but I personally think that her more direct influences are Regina Spektor, the already-mentioned Fiona or Norah Jones - though this is more in her music styling, her voice is really unique and I can't say that I think that her voice sounds like anyone but her.

And this is what makes SXSW so special - now that Yuna is set on conquering America (via a new EP released on iTunes on the FADER label) those of us lucky enough to be in the vicinity got to see her play at a show at the Billboard Music showcase at Buffalo Billiards on Sixth Street - and to make a good thing even better, I had the honor of a private showcase at the Driskill Hotel. Both sets got taped - and the intimate, three track Driskill set will be forthcoming sometime later this year.

So with all that said - the moral of this story is that you need to do yourself a favor and buy her EP on iTunes - link here. You can check on the tracks on Sound Cloud first, if you like - by clicking here. The EP is a 5 track wonder that perfectly showcases her delicate vocals and master songwriting. I'm wavering between Deeper Conversation, and the one-and-a-half minute Decorate being my favorite tracks - check it out (and download Decorate for free here) and decide for yourself.

And, of course, be sure to check out her 6 track set from SXSW at the Billboard event at Buffalo Billiards below.

Live MP3s:
Someone Out of Town
A Deeper Conversation
Dan Sebenarnya

Studio MP3:

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

sounds under radio 03/04/11

Texas is known for producing a lot of really excellent music, but I've never heard a Texan alternative rock band who brings the best of UK melodic rock bands, like Muse, Radiohead, with a dash of the decidedly non UK Nine Inch Nails.

So it was keen surprise that I listened to the forthcoming sophomore album, Where My Communist Heart Meets My Capitalist Mind (WMCHMMCM), from Austin's very own Sounds Under Radio. First and foremost, this is a straight up, stadium sized, anthem driven rock record. Very strong, and happily received, Muse influences on the record. I am a huge fan of Absolution & Black Holes and Revelations and this album conjures up fond memories of those records, while still maintaining it's own clear identity. Second, the production on WMCHMMCM is bar none and seriously impressive. Last, the record is just SOLID all the way through. The whole record got dropped onto my iPhone (a rare occurrence in and of itself) and has been on repeated listens every since.

And though I hadn't heard of the band til about a week ago, they've been making names for themselves since 2007 with a series of songs featured in in Spider Man 3, The Wolfman, and CW's "The Vampire Diaries." The record is dropping on May 3rd and I highly recommend it.

So, when I heard that the band was going to play an ACOUSTIC gig at a coffee ship in Dallas, I was seriously curious on how they would translate the stadium sound into an acoustic offering. The answer was quite well, actually - with the band, reimagined as a duo on the acoustic guitar and keyboard (which isn't cheating, no matter what my buddy claimed), gently rocking the crowd with tracks from both their original record, Cinematica, and the forthcoming WMCHMMCM.

So check out the studio version AND the live acoustic lullaby version of what I'm guessing will be the lead single from the forthcoming album. Ill be checking these guys out again in a couple of months, so there will definitely be more Sounds Under Radio popping up around here. Also, check them out if you are going to SXSW...

Studio MP3:

Live MP3:
Sing (Acoustic Lullaby Version)

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

freelance whales 11/12/10

A good friend of mine gave me two CDs for my birthday, much earlier this year. The first one was the latest record from The National, and the second was Weathervanes, the Freelance Whales debut album much. So I popped in the National first - listened to it twice on a long drive I had to take, then took it out and never listened to it again. I wanted to like it, I really did, but couldn't...

Weathervanes, on the other hand was a very different story - from the opening banjo notes on the first track, Generator (1st Floor), I knew that this was going to be something fairly different - and I was write. Melodic vocal lines, up to five part harmonies and quirky, singable, lyrics over an array of instruments (of both the "toy" and "professional" variety) dominated the record - invoking bands as contrasting as (older) Sufjan Stevens and The Postal Service. All in all, a beautiful, odd record, that didn't leave my car CD player for weeks.

To top it off, one of my friends sent me a YouTube link of them playing in a New York subway station, and it was a ridiculously cool viral video of the five players singing and playing without mics.  So I was pretty excited to find out they were coming to Dallas.

The band has definitely moved beyond the "cutsey-ness" of the early performances in barns and subway stations, and have embraced their inner rock stars. As benefiting a national tour - the band has upgrade to full on rock mode, with lots of electric guitars, while keeping the ecleticness of their multi part harmonies, and cool instruments like the harmonium, banjo, xylophone etc.

The set was absolutely solid - they basically played the entire first record (sans the instrumental tracks) plus new single/recording Enzymes (download it for free here), plus a couple of new songs, Footprints and something whose title I haven't figured out yet (if you have a set list from a recent show and know the name of the opening track, please drop me a note.)

Be sure to check them out if they are coming near you - you won't be disappointed.

Here's a few tracks for your pleasure - I like the new single, Enzymes, but think the live version is even better...

Live MP3 MP3s:
Generator (2nd Floor)
Broken Horse

Tour Dates:
WINTER 2010 US TOUR (all dates w/ Miniature Tigers)
Sunday, November 14th / 6:30pm / Hotel Congress / Tucson, AZ
Tuesday, November 16th / 8pm / Detroit Bar / Costa Mesa, CA
Thursday, November 18th / 8pm / Troubedour / Los Angeles, CA
Friday, November 19th / 8pm / Rickshaw Stop / San Francisco, CA
Sunday, November 21st / 8pm / Doug Fir Lounge / Portland, OR
Tuesday, November 23rd / 8pm / Crocodile Cafe / Seattle, WA
Wednesday, November 24th / 8pm / The Biltmore Cabaret / Vancouver, BC
Thursday, November 25th / HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Saturday, November 27th / 8pm / Kilby Court / Salt Lake City, UT
Monday, November 29th / 8pm / Hi-Dive / Denver, CO
Wednesday, December 1st / 8pm / 7th Street Entry / Minneapolis, MN
Thursday, December 2nd / 8pm / Lincoln Hall / Chicago, IL
Friday, December 3rd / 8pm / The Basement / Columbus, OH
Saturday, December 4th / 8pm / Brillobox / Pittsburgh, PA
Sunday, December 5th / 8pm / Mohawk Place / Buffalo, NY
Tuesday, December 7th / 8pm / El Mocambo Club / Toronto, ONT
Wednesday, December 8th / 8pm / La Sala Rossa / Montreal, QC
Thursday, December 9th / 8pm / Middle East / Boston, MA
Friday, December 10th / 8pm / Iron Horse / Northampton, MA
Saturday, December 11th / 8pm / Lily’s Pad / New Haven, CT
Tuesday, December 14th / 8pm / Johnny Brenda’s / Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, December 15th / 8pm / Webster Hall / New York, NY

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

margot & the nuclear so and so's 11/06/10

So for whatever reason it seems like some bands are just never meant to be successfully taped - unfortunately for me they often seem to be bands that I really really enjoy.

Take Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, as a perfect example. This 6 piece from Indianapolis, Indiana (or Chicago according to their MySpace page) has been around for about 6 years and make some beautifully layered indie pop records, i.e, they know how to write some melodic, earnest songs that serve as stories set to music.

Since 2006, I've seen and taped them FOUR times, and I can honestly say that two of those have been straight up amazing shows that showcased them perfectly. Yet, none of the shows has been captured perfectly (at least to my over-exacting tastes).

Saw them in Houston at Walters on Washington back in 2006 (almost 4 years ago to the day) on the tour for their debut record, The Dust of Retreat. Issue? The bulk of the show clipped, i.e. the recording volume was set too high. Annoying. In fact while Im taping this I put it on, and I may be able to salvage bits of it, I remember spending a lot of time trying to declip it a couple of years ago... Hmm maybe more on that later.

Saw them again in Dallas a couple of days before SXSW 2007 - an incredible show, just pitch perfect. Amazing musicianship, amazing vocals - interesting live interpretations of the records - but guess what, no vocals on the recording. Annoying.

Saw them again at SXSW a few days later. Recording came out solid - but it's SXSW, so you have a sound guy who doesn't know the songs mixing. Bottom line, an odd mix with stuff turned up, stuff turned down, and not the optimal representation of their talents.

Fast forward to 2010 - saw them last weekend at the Loft supporting their new record, Buzzard. PHENOMENAL show. The band, with a revolving cast of players (I think there were only 3 of the original members on stage) brought an extremely tight knit set to the stage, and rocked everyone at the venue. They also brought fairly different renditions of their tracks to bear - which is always nice... I'd always rather hear something new versus what's on the record. It was definitely more rocking - or guitar heavy - then the records. The records have always featured a diverse mix of instrumentation, horns, strings, acoustic/electric guitars, female backing vocals etc. This show was all about the guitars. 2 guitarists at all times, steel guitar on a bunch of songs, with violin and piano on several.

So what was the issue with this recording? A darn buzzing guitar cable rattles through most of the songs. It was noticeable at the show - but it slightly marrs what would otherwise be a perfect recording.

Still - a pretty awesome night, and thoroughly enjoyable set - definitely hope they roll back through town sooner than later. Here's a few tracks for your enjoyment. They are currently rolling through America - I highly recommend checking them out, and get the new record (and Dust of Retreat if you don't have it.)

Live MP3 MP3s:
Broadripple is Buring
Skeleton Key
As Tall As Cliffs

Upcoming Shows:
Nov 10 2010 Rhythm Room Phoenix, AZ
Nov 11 2010 Club Congress Tucson, AZ
Nov 12 2010 The Casbah San Diego, CA
Nov 13 2010 Detroit Bar Costa Mesa, CA
Nov 14 2010 EchoPlex Los Angeles, CA
Nov 15 2010 Soho Santa Barbara, CA
Nov 16 2010 Great American Music Hall San Francisco, CA
Nov 18 2010 Doug Fir Portland, OR
Nov 19 2010 The Crocodile Seattle, Washington
Nov 20 2010 NEUROLUX Boise, ID
Nov 21 2010 Urban Lounge Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 22 2010 Bluebird Denver, CO
Nov 23 2010 The Waiting Room Omaha, NE

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

edward james olmos 08/28/10

Edward James Olmos. I've always respected him as an actor - from Blade Runner on, but especially after becoming enamored with the Sci-Fi Channel incarnation of Battlestar Galactica. With that said, I never realized that he was fairly heavily involved in social/civil rights until I saw him speak at the Dallas Comic Con last month in Dallas. 

I expected him to talk about his roles, with maybe some funny insights - but Olmos consistently took the crowd to deeper subjects including the way we perceive heroes in the United States, his speeches at the United Nations on race as well as thoughts on the Los Angeles riots in the 1990s.

On his acting, his passion for his various roles came shining through - through great stories on being an Actor and Director on Battlestar, getting Stand & Deliver developed and made - as well as extremely interesting stories about Miami Vice and Blade Runner (who knew that Olmos had impacted the direction of the movie relative to whether Deckard was a Replicant or not...)

All in all - pretty awesome Q&A. Video, audio and photos below. Please note - this is the first hour of an hour and a half Q&A. Video of the rest coming soon.

Live MP3/MP3s:
Blade Runner
Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar's Critical Acclaim
Battlestar at the United Nations
Teachers & Health Care
Stand & Deliver
Director On Battlestar
Future of Battlestar
Stand & Deliver Impact
Heroes in America





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Saturday, October 02, 2010

smashing pumpkins 09/22/10

If I consider my life as a whole, and consider my favorite band of all time - then I think that honor would go to Billy Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins. Though I haven't listened to them heavily over the last decade or so, the sheer attention that I paid to them in the 90s offsets any lack of focus in the last 10 years.

Starting with the release of what is probably still their best record, "Siamese Dream", I spent more hours listening, following and collecting music from the Pumpkins then any other band ever. I purchased every record, single, 7 inch, bootleg, live show I could get my hands on... And most of this was pre Internet when who actually had to find those tiny little record stores who's would carry silver boots from Italy of soundboard recordings and charge you way way to much for a copy. I bought the "I Am One" 10 inch just to get the alternate recording of I Am One... I rejoiced they day I found the Siamese Singles 7 inch collection in the UK and was able to rip my own copy of Purr Snickety.

So it was a pretty good day when I heard the (new iteration of the) Pumpkins were coming to Dallas for a show. And though it would have been nice to have the original line up - or at least Jimmy Chamberlain on the drums... At the end of the day, the Pumpkins have, and always will be, the musical genius of Billy.

The show was pretty awesome - seeing them in a small club with a couple of thousand people as they rocked through a diverse set list - including classics like "Today", along with tracks from their new ambitious 44 track opus, "Teargarden by Kaleidyscope", and oddly reworked versions of songs like the barely recognizable, now metal influenced, track Eye originally from the Lost Highway sound track. They also played one of my favorites, Drown - arguably the song that brought the Pumpkins to the masses, from the Singles soundtrack.

Be sure to check out the Smashing Pumpkins site here for the first 6 tracks from  Teargarden by Kaleidyscope.

The Smashing Pumpkins Tour Dates

Date City/State Venue On Sale
Oct 08 Jakarta Java Rockin Land Festival/Carnaval Ancol NOW!
Oct 12 Perth, AU Riverside Theater NOW!
Oct 13 Adelaide, AU Ent. Centre, Theater NOW!
Oct 15 Melbourne, AU Festival Hall NOW!
Oct 16 Sydney, AU Big Top SOLD OUT
Oct 17 Brisbane, AU The Tivoli SOLD OUT
Oct 19 Auckland, New Zealand Town Hall NOW!
Nov 18 Buenos Aires, Argentina Luna Park
Nov 20 Sao Paulo, Brazil Planeta Terra Festival
Nov 23 Santiago Arena Movistar
Nov 25 Lima, Peru Lima Hot Festival

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