Saturday, January 28, 2006

"We're teachers! We sing your songs!"

My co-teacher and lovely friend Katie and I went to see The Decemberists' Colin Meloy on Thursday night at Town Hall. The show was wonderful and Colin Meloy, as always, was fantastic. The night was full of witty stage banter, smart lyrics, and an intimate campfire vibe despite the size of the theater. Colin played a nice mix of covers, old and new songs, including one about the baby he and his girlfriend are expecting. The night was made for me when he played "Red Right Ankle" although the man a few seats away from me was just happy to be in Colin Meloy's presence. In retelling the night's events to my second graders, he was nicknamed "The Screamer."

We missed the first opener, but showed up in time for Laura Viers. She was an endearing mix of awkward nerdiness and sweetness. She played a set of really wonderful songs that really showed off her guitar playing and charming voice. I have to admit that I was impressed with how she looped her voice and layered them during her songs. However, the woman behind me totally missed the point and complained that she "didn't pay this much money to watch someone sing over a CD." Umm... no. No, you didn't.

My drawing of Colin Meloy.

As I mentioned before, Katie and I told our second grade class about the show. They are all huge fans of Mr. Meloy, as he is known in our classroom. Although a few remain skeptical about whether or not Katie and I actually saw him, most of the class was genuinely excited. Here's some highlights from our conversation:
  • On Colin Meloy's race: "He's white, right? He's white? OK, peach. He's definitely peach, right? Is he peach?"
  • On our conduct during the show: "Did you scream when you saw him? Did you scream, 'We're teachers! We sing your songs!'?"
  • On Colin Meloy's appearance: "Did he need a hair cut?"
  • On Colin Meloy's talent: "How can he play a 12-string guitar if he only has five fingers?"
  • On Colin Meloy's intellect: "Maya Angelou is a writer not a ship. Someone should tell him."
  • On showing Colin Meloy our affection: "Can we sing to Mr. Meloy one day? Can we sing July, July! to him?"
You can hear Colin Meloy and Laura Viers tonight at 7:30 pm EST on a live webcast on NPR.org.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Endangered actors

My friend Bill likes to support the careers of endangered actors, so we went to see Underworld: Evolution. We adore Scott Speedman since he was Ben the Perfect Boyfriend from the television show Felicity.

The movie turned out to be more than ridiculous, which is a shame because I really like the first movie. There was no plot, just a lot of biting, shooting, biting, and head-snapping. I was told that the highlight of the movie was seeing Kate Beckinsale's lovely navel. I guess I fell asleep during that part.

Odds and ends...

As much reported on blog after blog after blog, Birdmonster has a blog that documents the making of their first LP. Even if you're not necessarily interested in the making of the album (why that would be, I do not know), you should check out their blog for the amazing photographs they have posted.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

You underestimate me.

This will have to be added to my list of band names I will never get right: The New Jersey band Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start has their Girls Names EP available for download. The songs on the EP are all named after a girl, and like the female gender, each track is punchy, sweet, and will linger in your mind long after it's over.

My favorite girl:
Robin Fleshman

Songs from their Internet EP:
Out to Get Me
Are We Seeing This

More songs from the Internet EP available here.

Since these guys are nice enough to offer their EPs for free, thank them by being their MySpace friend.

Odds and ends...
I am very excited about the release of Cat Power's The Greatest and Tarkio's Omnibus on Tuesday.
I am very excited about seeing Colin Meloy at Town Hall on Thursday.
I am not, however, very excited about finishing these report cards today.

Cat Power: The Greatest
Tarkio: Tristan and Iseult
Colin Meloy: Shiny

BR2.ELA.WS.B.7 - Express a simple opinion, need or desire in speech or writing.

It's 60 degrees today in New York, and I'm stuck inside writing report cards. It's nice to work at an "effective" school; however, I think 5-page report cards are pushing it a bit.


While I was working, an oldie-but-goodie popped up on my iTunes. Mel Torme's "Comin' Home, Baby" was a staple song in my apartment when I studied abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. My roommates and I would put it on repeat during those gloomy, rainy days when drinking tea and eating chocolate digestives wasn't enough. This was definitely our "push through" song, and I think it's fitting for today.

Comin' Home, Baby

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Greatest

Just a reminder that Cat Power's new album The Greatest will be released on Tuesday, January 24th. In their review of The Greatest, Time Out New York wrote that Chan Marshall's "spun voice seems to emanate from some other dimension, one where sadness and love supplant oxygen and caron as base elements." I have more than expressed my love for her track "The Greatest," and I am excited to see how Chan Marshall's recent collaboration with Memphis greats will support her hushed vocals.

From The Greatest: Hate
From You Are Free: He War

The links above have been fixed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

You know better, daddy.


Sometimes bands just seem really nice, and I think Stars Like Fleas might be one of those bands. Stars Like Fleas is an 8-piece musical powerhouse. Not powerhouse in the sense that their going to rock you like a hurracaine, let's say; yet, a powerhouse in their ability to produce amazingly rich and layered sounds that leaves the listener amazed at the human potential to create music. Pitchfork has called Stars Like Fleas' music "engaging and relentlessly subtle... [and] initmate and utterly beautiful." There is definitely a lot going on in the music: there are multiple vocals layered on top of disparate sounds, jazzy horns and guitars that blend together to make a complexy lush and coherent piece. Although they are somewhat different, I think if you like The Books, you would really enjoy this band as well.

With reviews like this it would be a shame to miss their New York show at Tonic on Thursday, January 19th.

Stream some songs at Stars Like Fleas' MySpace page.

Odds and ends...

I've been listening to a lot of Nina Simone lately. She's quite the diva, and she has a voice that refuses to be ignored. Cold, rainy days like this make for perfect Nina Simone weather because her voice kind of melds with the howling wind. Plus, she has this (wonderful?) way of taking the happiest song and infusing it with a tinge of melancoly. It's like she knows that, sooner or later, all good things must come to an end.

Black Is the Color
My Baby Just Cares for Me
Wild Is the Wind

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Can't dance, but that's ok.

First...
Sorry for neglecting the blog. I've been in New Orleans for the last few days, and I stopped posting before and during the big trip down south. It was wonderful to be back in New Orleans; however, it was definitely a bittersweet homecoming. I took a walk through my former neighborhood, which now resembles a ghost town, and also managed to get into the school that I taught at before coming to New York. It was all very surreal, and I'm sure that I will post more about it after the experience sinks in a bit more.

With that, on to the music.

In the Indie Don't Dance in-box...
Puppetbox: Can't Dance. Hey, it's been awhile but we at Puppetbox never rest. We have been recording again and I thought that you should be the first to hear this new song, why? because it is somewhat inspired by your blog! Someone said (jokingly?) that we should just make dance songs so we decided to give it a shot, and this is what we came up with! I hope you like it, it's a mild departure from some of our stuff but fun nonetheless.

Thanks,
John from Puppetbox


I'm sure that you know already that Puppetbox is my favorite post-geek synth rock band. The track "Can't Wait" is definitely as raw and unique as their other songs; however, I think the boys of Puppetbox have really stretched and showed their dancey potential on this one. Despite their claims to mediocre dancing, I say break out the shoes.

You can buy Puppetbox's album 5% Louder Than Normal here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Yes, Dan. You should like Tapes 'n Tapes.

hi.

some questions for you: - tapes n tapes: that good? worthy of the hype? please let me know about their live show.

dan


This post is belated and the various New York area shows have been covered extensively. However, I did want to add my collective voice to the chorus: Yes, Tapes 'n Tapes is that good.

I went to the Tapes 'n Tapes show at Mercury Lounge and could not keep the smile off my face. When Tapes 'n Tapes started playing, I wasn't sold at first. The guys next to me left after the first song after announcing that "these guys suck." However, the band had so much energy and, in turn, it translated to the audience. Rachel compares hearing Tapes 'n Tapes to hearing Wolf Parade for the first time. I think that it is fair to say that one should expect the unexpected when you listen to Tapes 'n Tapes. Don't try to pigeon hole them or compare them to another band. Just embrace the fact you are listening to something quirky, different, and amazing.

Besides, everyone who knows me well, knows that I want nothing more than to be a tamborine player in a band. I thought Robbie Guertin from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was my tamborine man, I think Matt Kretzmann from Tapes 'n Tapes might have replaced him.

Another definite highlight from the show at the Mercury Lounge was Finian McKean. He's lovely in his tall gangliness and played a great set. When you listen to him live, you almost forget that it is just him and his drummer Patrick Brennan. Their sound is suprisingly rich and complex, which is sometimes not the case when there are only two musicians on stage.

Download some Finian McKean mp3's here courtesy of Yeti Don't Dance.

If you're in the New York area, you can catch Finian McKean (and Patrick) at Sunny's in Red Hook, Brooklyn on Friday, January 13th at 10pm. I know no trains go to Red Hook, but it's definitely worth the trek.

Odds and ends...
I'm glad that many of you are checking out Letting Up Despite Great Faults. See, I wouldn't steer you astray. If anyone saw the show on Monday, I would love to hear about it.

If You're Here Today

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Maybe I'll hide with you

I don't know if you followed my advice from earlier, but I hope you are listening to Letting Up Despite Great Faults. The music is absolutely fantastic.


I'll be at the Mercury Lounge tomorrow for the Tapes'n'Tapes-Finian McKean-Soft Explosions extravaganza, but those of you in California should head down to Cinespace to check out Letting Up, plus Knifeyhead, Books Died On, and Bodies of Water.

Letting Up Despite Great Faults: Maybe I'll Hide With You

P.S.: If you visit Books Died On's MySpace page, check out the song "Alone Again."

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Shades are drawn...

I've been listening to Finian McKean's new alubum Shades Are Drawn. It's a truly lovely album that skips across many music genres. However, one steady image that this album conjures up for me is that of a smoky cabaret bar. Mr. McKean is center stage, guitar in hand, singing folky songs of love and sadness.

Shades Are Drawn
Black Hole

I highly recommend you buy yourself a copy of Shades Are Drawn here.

Finian McKean is playing at show on Monday, January 9th at Mercury Lounge with the Soft Explosions and Tapes'n'Tapes. I will see you there.

Shows...

The Subways' new LP Young for Eternity will be released on Valentine's day. Their tour includes a stop in New York ar the Bowery Ballroom. Excited? Yes.

1 Atlanta, GA - The Loft
2 Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506
3 Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church
4 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
7 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
8 Boston, MA - Paradise
9 Montreal, QUE - La Sala Rossa
11 Toronto, ON - The Mod Club
12 Detroit, MI - The Magic Stick
13 Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop
14 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
15 Lawrence, KS - Replay Lounge
19 Houston, TX - Meridian Red Room
20 Dallas, TX - Gypsy Tea Room
22 Tempe, AZ - The Clubhouse
23 Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour
25 San Diego, CA - Epicentre
27 San Francisco, CA - Slim's
28 Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
29 Vancouver, BC - Richard's on Richards
30 Seattle, WA - Crocodile Café

Rachael announced the Underrated Magazine's second year anniversary party at Crash Mansion. The line up includes A Brief Smile, The Head Set, and The Five O'Clock Heroes.

Beat Radio is playing a show at Sin-e on Wednesday, January 11th. If you haven't seen them yet, get on it.

Odds and ends...
According to Pitchfork, Pedro the Lion is no more. Dave Bazan and TW Walsh are splitting; however, Bazan will continue to release music... just no longer as Pedro. I'm a little sad about this since I've been waiting and waiting for Pedro the Lion to release new music. I guess I'll settle for the old.

The Longest Winter

Rapture
A Mind of Her Own

Dave Bazan will be on tour starting in February with Vic Chesnutt, Will Johnson, and Mark Eitzel as the Undertow Orchestra.

02-08 Athens, GA - 40 Watt Club
02-09 Carrboro, NC - Carrboro Arts Center
02-10 Arlington, VA - IOTA
02-11 Arlington, VA - IOTA
02-12 Philadelphia, PA - World Café Live
02-13 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
02-14 Boston, MA - Museum of Fine Arts, Remis Auditorium
02-16 Grand Rapids, MI - Calvin College, Fine Arts Center
02-17 Chicago, IL - Park West
02-18 Madison, WI - Orpheum Stage Door
02-19 Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
02-20 Ames, IA - Maintenance Shop
02-21 Lawrence, KS - The Granada
02-23 Denton, TX - Hailey's
02-24 Austin, TX - The Parish
02-25 Houston, TX - Walter's on Washington
02-27 Memphis, TN - Hi-Tone
02-28 Nashville, TN - Belcourt Theatre
03-01 Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse

Monday, January 02, 2006

Jeremy and Blake are proud papas

If Jets to Brazil and Sunny Day Real Estate had a baby, it would be the Nebraska band Tie These Hands. Tie These Hands is Naum Stauffer, Seth Stauffer, Aram Stauffer, and Todd Benson.


The soaring guitars and vocals will remind you of "Blankets Under the Stairs" with a little signature Schwarzenbach melancholia sprinkled in for good measure.

Fight the Change
Driving a Street
Grow or End

Odds and ends...
Tapes'n'Tapes is playing three times in New York City the week of January 8th. That's called working it. I have many options, but I think I want to see them when they play Mercury Lounge on January 9th with Finian McKean, Soft Explosions, and the Twenty Twos. This line up is amazing, and going to this show on Monday will be a true test of my ability to stay up late on a school night. I'll make it happen.

Tapes'n'Tapes: Cowbell
Soft Explosions: Sister Come On
Finian McKean: Black Hole