Friday, December 26, 2008

Best of - Rob's picks

Thought I'd get it started, remotely.... With Last.FM links and descriptions of the bands/albums, much better than I could do at the moment. Lots of debuts on my list, very exciting for the upcoming years.

In alphabetical order [Band - Album (Label)]:

Cheap Time - Cheap Time (In the Red). Best snarky punk revival album of the year.

Crystal Stilts - Crystal Stilts (Woodsist)/Alight of Night (Slumberland). Best subdued bedroom-DIY-rock album of the year. Sic Alps' U.S. EZ is a close second place.

The Dutchess & the Duke - She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke (Hardly Art). Best Brian Jonestown Massacre Meets Bob Dylan album of the year.

Gentleman Jesse & His Men - Introducing Gentleman Jesse (Douche Master). Best Exploding Hearts-influenced album of the year.

Grouper - Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill (Type). Best post-call album of the year. M83's Saturdays=Youth is second.

King Khan & The Shrines
- The Supreme Genius of King Khan & the Shrines (Vice). Best (?only) garage soul album of the year.

Jeremy Jay - A Place Where We Could Go (K). Best It's-about-time-we-have-a-full-length-album album of the year. Also best indie diva album of the year.

Silver Jews - Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea (Drag City). Best Silver Jews album of the year or Best new album from my favorite actively recording band.

Thomas Function - Celebration (Bomp). Best album of the year from a weirdo band from Alabama.

The Walkmen
- You & Me (Gigantic). Best return to form album of the year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bon Iver w/ Tallest Man on Earth - 12/14/08 - Wilbur Theatre, Boston MA

I spent this past weekend in Boston, and was fortunate enough to have Rob and Barbie squire me about town on Friday and Saturday. We had a blast, caught up on some music, drank some beer and watched UNC demolish Oral Roberts. All in all a fantastic way to spend a day. On Sunday, I headed across the common to the Wilbur Theatre with my friend Alannah to see Bon Iver and Tallest Man on Earth. I was hugely impressed, so I wrote about it. A lot.

The Wilbur Theatre, near Boston's Emerson University, is a diamond in the rough. An almost certainly historic building, the theatre appeared to be in the midst of major renovations, judging by the state of the women's bathrooms. The main hall, viewed from the top of the balcony, is an expansive room with great moulding and architectural detail. Even more wonderful, it's one of those rooms that was made for music appreciation, with near perfect acoustics. Even Justin Vernon commented that this was a perfect place to play. The show was sold out, and judging from the people seated around me, this was a testament to the very, very hip college students in the area.

The Tallest Man on Earth (Sweden's Kristian Matsson) took the stage precisely at 8pm, as advertised. The Tallest Man on Earth might also be the skinniest man on earth, and though my perspective was nearly birds-eye, I don't think I'm exaggerating saying he looked like a peanut on stage. Thankfully, his performance upended any suggestion of him being slight of talent. He played most of "Shallow Graves" with standouts being "I Won't Be Found" and "The Gardener." When he wasn't singing, Matsson swirled around the stage, tangling himself among monitors and mic stands. He often found himself front and center, nearly touching the crowd as he leaned over his guitar, eeking out sounds as much with his fingers as his body. He finished his set with one of my favorite, oft-covered songs, "These Days." He went through his 40 minute setlist with only a few words to the crowd, and scurried about changing guitars between songs, as if he wanted to cram in as much music as he possibly could. I appreciated the effort, and enjoyed the show thoroughly.

At this point, I have to mention the difference in the stage set up since the first time I saw Bon Iver in February 2008. Stage left contained Vernon's usual set up - keys, stool, a sizeable case of guitars (about 5 more than the first time I saw him.) Center stage was a single drum, and stage right was another stool for Mike Noyce on baritone guitar. All par for the course, but I was quite surprised to see 2 drum kits behind, in addition to a bass guitar and more keys. And as Bon Iver took the stage for their opening song, "Lump Sum" I was shocked to see 5 people on stage. I was a bit uneasy to see such an expanded lineup, given that I'm a bit of a folky minimalist type, and having seen Bon Iver stripped down to 3 band members and very few accoutrements, I wasn't sure what the night would hold.

"Lump Sum" was a fair enough beginning to the show, and provided lots of room for expansion both in sound and feeling. They followed with "For Emma, Forever Ago," dropping to the more standard 4 piece lineup - Vernon, Noyce, Sean Carey on drums/keys and another guy on drums/bass. The show continued its upward swing with "Skinny Love." I've never seen, nor can imagine, a more perfect rendition of this song than I saw this night. It was at this moment that the need for 3 backing voices and 3 percussionists was fully realized. The click of drumsticks against the drum reverberated through the room, providing a taut edge to Vernon's soaring falsetto. Watching those 4 guys playing this song, you'd think they'd all had their hearts broken and spent a few months in the woods recuperating. Every single one of them felt something, and it showed. I was moved.

Next, Vernon introduced a new song from the EP "Blood Bank," currently available on vinyl at shows, due out on CD January 20th. "Babys" is a song that also harnesses the power of multi-instrumentalism, but I'd have to say it lacks enough coherence and melody to really survive as a live offering. Personally, I could not connect with the song on any level. Next was "Beach Baby," another song off the new EP. This song is a little tighter, more sedate, and closer to what I have come to expect from Bon Iver.

After the 2 new songs, he launched into one of my favorite songs off the debut album, "Creature Fear." Seeing him the first time, in a tiny room with a very quiet feel, this is the song that blew my top off. The hard parts of this song contrast so beautifully against the quiet, and the changes in tempo remind you that Vernon can convincingly deliver soft folk melodies, or driving indie rock. At one point during the song, Vernon dropped to his knees, rocking back and forth, pressing random pedals to create discordant, distorted noises. It was pretty rock n' roll, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. At the end of the song, everyone but Vernon left the stage, and I knew it meant "Re: Stacks" would be up next. I love this song so much in its live form that I can still recall the quiet buzz of speakers the first time I heard it, the crowd so transfixed that it might as well have been a collective breath holding contest. Mind you, this was in a room that holds maybe 200 people, and I did not expect a similar effect in a huge theatre. But he did it. If "Skinny Love" showcased the full talent of a band of 4, "Re: Stacks" proved that one man with a guitar can command an audience even more powerfully. An absolute gem of a song, and gorgeous performance.

I could have left happy at that moment, not wanting any miscues to ruin a near perfect night. The rest of the band returned for "Flume" which quite honestly, was a bit of let down after the show's ascension. I think it served nicely to bring everyone back to the feel of a more energetic, interactive show, though. The next song Vernon introduced as a cover that we might like to sing along to. I vaguely recognized the opening verse, but it wasn't until the chorus that I realized it was a slowed down version of The Outfield's "I Don't Wanna Lose Your Love Tonight." Strangely, the cover suited the band very well, and wasn't too kitschy or contrived. Vernon then prepared the crowd for the sing-a-long portion of "The Wolves," of which I was very excited to be a part of, particularly in such a large theatre. I'd say we did a commendable job, and it does fill out the song in a way that the band alone couldn't do.

The band took a short break after this song and returned for a one-song encore, "Blood Bank." The titular track from the new EP, this song has the most potential to be a single. Vernon drops his voice into a deeper range, and the dark, brooding guitar riffs suit the song well. I could see the band moving in this kind of direction, and I'd be completely ok with that.

All in all, I got everything I was hoping for out of this show. There were a few fans yelling out for "Blindsided" at the end of the show, but I think it would have been a bit of a disappointment after what we'd heard that night. I left the the theatre thoroughly content, and couldn't imagine anything that would have made it better. Except maybe a Harpoon IPA while listening.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Best of - NPR's picks

I like going through my year-end reflections on the best albums, but NPR does a far better job than I could. Go read, listen, and acquire: 

Top 11 Debut Albums
Fleet Foxes
The Grand Archives
Blind Pilot

Vampire Weekend
Bon Iver
Okkervil River

Feel free to comment/post with your personal Top 5/10 albums of the year. 

Monday, December 1, 2008

Reunited, and it feels so good.

We braved the spitting rain and cold temps to meet last night over at Jimmy and Jacquelyn's. It was nice to see folks again, and we heard some good stuff. We also discussed future parlours, and unanimously decided that in an effort to branch out our listening tastes, we'll start to theme some parlours. Next up - "No Alternative." Bring anything and everything you love, except alt/indie rock. Also, we're going to start a little cd mix swap activity. You bring a mix to each parlour, and you'll walk out with someone else's mix.

Anyway, I wanted to get this down before the paper from hell takes over my week, so here goes: 

Tallest Man on Earth – I Won’t Be Found (supporting Bon Iver currently)
Micah P. Hinson – You’re Only Lonely (courtesy of Jen, a soon to be member slaving away at law school)
Felice Brothers – Helen Fry

Magnetic Fields – Papa Was A Rodeo
T.I. - Whatever You Like
TV On The Radio – Family Tree

Silver Jews – Party Barge
Paul Pena – Venutian Lady (Sara's pick for best CD I've never heard of)
Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band – I Don’t Want to Die In A Hospital

The what the hell happened to this band part of the evening:
My Morning Jacket – The Bear
My Morning Jacket – Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt. 2

The Morning Benders – Waiting For a War
The Radar Bros – Auditorium (at 506 this Saturday, 12/6)
Wembley – Crumbs
Shearwater – Rooks

I'll try and get some links up to these songs soon. 
So next month - No Alt, cd swap. Break!

Friday, September 5, 2008


Hello from Boston where Hanna is breathing down our necks and it's humid as hell.

I notice that you have The Walkmen show posted on the blog as an upcoming event. Their new album is my favorite of the year so far (granted, internship has sapped my ability to listen to much new music). I've seen them play at least three times and every show has been outstanding. I hope you all can get together for the one in October, I plan on going to see them up here in a couple of weeks.

Some other favorites for me this year: King Khan and the Shrines ('The Supreme Genius Of...'), the new Silver Jews (going to see them tonight!!), Thomas Function ('Celebration').

Come and visit when you can. We have a guest bedroom.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Paste doing our job for us

Ahead of the curve on:
bon iver (exhibit 1)
the dodos (exhibit 2)
langhorne slim (exhibit 3)
the everybodyfields (ask jimmy and sara for reference)
alela diane (exhibit 4)

Seriously though, let's get together soon.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I just bought tickets to Ratatat 9/26 at Cat's Cradle and I'm also thinking about seeing Toubab Krewe on 9/17 which will mean that I need to do a little pre-partying. I should be out of my cave soon. In other news, I got my computer back and since XP was reinstalled, I can now view blogs with all of their boxes and frames which makes posting to the Music Parlour a whole lot easier. Peace

song in my head today: Please Read The Letter- Allison Krauss and Robert Plant

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Scheduling Snafu

One year of residency down, head hurting from celebration, attention was then paid to the upcoming rotation this morning, noted that I'm scheduled for a peds-ED shift AND clinic tomorrow morning, after working until 1am tonight...hmmm... that beer right there looks tasty.

Searching for light in an already bleak schedule, I found these:

7/5 Big Fat Gap - The Cave
7/6 Fleet Foxes - Local 506
7/11 Langhorne Slim - Cat's Cradle
7/11 Joe Romeo & the Orange County Volunteers - The Cave
7/12 The Club is Open Festival (Roman Candle) - Cat's Cradle
7/25 The Strugglers - Local 506
7/27 Wolf Parade* - Disco Rodeo
8/6 Mike Gordon - Lincoln Theater
8/8 Wilco/Bon Iver - somewhere in Cary, USA
8/12 The Hold Steady - Cat's Cradle
8/16 Shooter Jennings - Lincoln Theater
9/11 Silver Jews* - Cat's Cradle, Tix on sale 6/28
9/12 Old Ceremony - Pour House
9/29 Stereolab - Cat's Cradle
10/5 Black Keys - Disco Rodeo
11/8 Black Crowes - Lincoln Theater

* CDs I'm hoping will be at CD Alley this morning, with alternates The Submarines and First in Funk

Also, diggin' this right now - James, Ward, & Oberst

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Downhome Parlour

What a lovely evening we had at the farm. Music, food, a perfect sunset, and wide open space. I am content to leave well enough alone, so here is a list of what we heard:

silver jews

hello kavita
death cab for cutie
bobby bare, jr
the waifs
frightened rabbit
gillian welch

And we also listened to Rob's finds, and poured one out for our homie.*

Feel free to elaborate via comments or new posts.

*Not true.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A find

Getting ready for a marathon drive to the Northeast tonight and started thinking about listening options in the car. I knew that I wanted to have a couple of podcasts of 'This American Life.' In downloading those, I stumbled upon 'Live in Concert from All Songs Considered' podcasts. Check it out: Some great looking sets from a lot of bands/artists that we shared during our parlours.

I will try to carry the flame in Boston and start up a similar club (maybe even with a similar name). Hope you all do well. I'll check the blog occasionally for updates.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Really, it's all about the music. (GOBAMA)

Arcade Fire and Merge labelmates Superchunk will play at an Obama rally happening Friday May 2 at Carrboro Town Commons.

Showtime is 2 p.m. and admission is free, but tickets are limited -- first come, first served.

How to get tickets:

Tickets can be picked up during early voting hours starting Thursday:

Obama table outside Morehead Planetarium and Science Center , 250 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill. Hours: M-F: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Balloons and Tunes, 208 W. Main St., Carrboro. Hours: M-F: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 26: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Morning Times Café, 10 E. Hargett St., Raleigh. Hours: M-F: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 26: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Obama table outside of the Old Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Corporation and Morris streets, Durham. Hours: M-Sat: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

and... we're back.

We met over homemade pizzas to get the night started. The turn-out was fantastic, and we added some new parlourites this fine evening. While the ultimate holla must go to Jimmy and his char-grilled pizza skills, I think we also came across some pretty fantastic music.

Vampire Weekend - you probably already know about them, but if you don't... drop everything and buy the self-titled release from these throwback punk rockers. It'll remind you why it was so fun to jump around your room as a teenager to the likes of Goldfinger and Rancid. I would consider it a more "informed" kind of punk.

Next was NC native daughter, Tift Merritt. She has a new album out, Another Country, and we are hoping to up the parlour's cred by inviting one of her touring guitarists to the next event.

Tegan and Sara. They are identical twins (not just sisters as previously mentioned!) and they play music. Ashley hopes you like it.

Then we heard Panda Bear, the loveable bamboo-eating offshoot of the Animal Collective menagerie. I vote we theme a parlour around bands with animal names.

Beirut's wikipedia entry talks about Eastern European and Balkan folk sounds. Funny how something that sounds so original can be so far from it.

We then shifted gears to the alt-country/folk portion of the night, leading off with Tarkio's re-release compilation Omnibus. Tarkio is Colin Meloy's late 90s alt-country band from Montana. I think they are perfection and still haven't quite accepted that they are not in existence anymore, and that I am 10 years too late. Seriously, try "Slow Down." (m4a)

Then I played a few songs from the Horse Feathers' album Words Are Dead. They remind me a lot of Great Lake Swimmers, particularly the vocals. I think the songs are sweet and airy and ethereal. For example, "Finch on Saturday." (m4a)

I also played The Dodos, whose myspace page describes them as happy hardcore. You'd be hard-pressed to convince me they are hardcore when they have made a song as lovely as "Walking." (m4a)

KJ played some Golden Smog for all the Jeff Tweedy lovers in the house. They apparently have an album coming out on 4/24. Then, holding it down for the ATL, we heard the new Gnarls Barkley. It prompted a great discussion of the use of retro beats and how utterly novel the Gray Album was. DSV then chipped in with The Strugglers, who appears to actually be the brainchild of one local named Randy Bickford. Free CD release show on 4/18 at 506. We'll be there? We saw Mia Todd open for Jose Gonzalez a while back. She has a really lovely voice. Brandy Carlile fits in here somewhere, as well. She was on the Cayamo Cruise with Emmylou Harris and Patty Griffin, so she must be good.

The last thing we heard was Jason Schwartzman of Wes Anderson fame's band Coconut Records. I can't help but think it's a bunch of songs from the soundtrack cutting room floor, but if you knew the depth of my affection for Wes Anderson you'd realize that's a big compliment.

Good parlour. Break!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Black Mountain

Black Mountain/Blood on the Wall - Local 506 - Feb 17, 2008

Drinks at Carolina Brewery beforehand (while transfixed to a Duke loss on TV) wasted the Blood on the Wall set. Attestation to the band - after hearing three songs live, the only merch I left with was their latest record. They're on the rise. I wish I still lived in Brooklyn.

After a short transition, Black Mountain appeared in all of the glory I expected. Canadian lads (and lass) representing their country like they were The Band. Bearded lead singer/guitarist Stephen McBean backed up his 70s psychedelic/hard-rock-influenced-with-a-red-bandana-in-my-worn-out-blue-jeans-backpocket with the chops he has exhibited on the band's two full-lengths. Moments of his performance shuttled me back to Cameron Crowe's 'Almost Famous' [one of my favorite film music biopics - fictitious or otherwise - (please watch D.A. Pennebaker's 'Don't Look Back' if you haven't before - my absolute favorite music biopic/documentary)] despite my best efforts to resist. Though McBean is widely regarded as the leader of the band, the performance was driven by Moog synthesizer extraordinaire Jeremy Schmidt, drummer Joshua Wells and bassist Matt Camirand. The latter two providing the structure for Schmidt's and McBean's winding melodies. Amber Webber - the female complement to Stephen McBean - stood front and center on the stage and though her straight-out-of-highschool appearance could have discounted her presence, whenever she sang she might as well have been channeling Grace Slick from Jefferson Starship/Airplane. The band is very tight and they know what they are doing. Though they surely have many tags and have found themselves in many critics' pigeonholes, it is obvious they enjoy their work and will have a bright future, public be damned.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bon Iver et al.

Bon Iver/Megafaun/Heather McEntire - Local 506 - Feb 18, 2008

Heather McEntire of Bellafea opened up the night. 3 chicks and an acoustic guitar. You know where I'm headed on this one.

Megafaun: These guys toe the line between pretension and pure fun. They come prepared with all the alt-country accoutrements - banjo, slide guitar... plus some extra cow bells for those playing along at home. The most interesting portion of the night was their version of Roy Acuff's "Wreck on the Highway" as a hopped up gospel song, complete with 3 part harmony (sort of). Soon after they digressed into weird psychedelia and I stopped paying attention.

Bon Iver: (That's bohn ee-vair for the uninitiated. We're here to help.) Justin Vernon gave a convincing delivery of his highly lauded album, For Emma, Forever Ago at The Local 506 tonight. He began the night with the first track off the album, "Flume" and continued to play the album in its entirety, in order. He followed the crowd favorite "Skinny Love" - and there is no doubting it is a fantastic song - with a rousing version of "The Wolves," complete with crowd participation on the chorus. The night was capped off with "Stacks" and you could hear the buzz of the speakers over the hush of the crowd. He maneuvered his way through the quiet lows on the album, while surprising me with just how heavy he could go on the more rockin' parts ("Creature Fear," for example.) I had already heard the album prior to the show, so I think some of the novelty had worn off; however, I think he surpassed my expectations in playing these songs live. He has a unique set up - two mics, one with the reverb cranked up to 11 - which he uses alternately to produce a little more drama to his performance. I'd say it worked admirably. He was backed up by guitar and drums, which filled out the sound nicely. He made a lot of references to friends in the crowd and connections to Durham, so we'll give him an extra nod for some familiarity with the Triangle. Bottom line: buy the album - release date is Feb 19 - catch a show if you can.

Edit: Live clips from the show.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Notes from the latest parlour....

Parlour #3 brought us a bounty of great tunes, ranging from 70s prog rock to Russian folk electronica. Here is the list....I didn't catch a couple of the song titles but I tried to link as many as possible.

Brian Jonestown Massacre- Oh Lord

Samurai (a prog rock band from the 70s)- Saving It Up For So Long

Rosebuds (playing at the Cradle May 6th)- Get Up Get Out (m4a)

Cloud Cult (at Local 506 April 21st)- Chemicals Collide (m4a)

Louis- My Own Good (m4a)

Best of Ivan Kupala (Russian folk inspired world music)- song #10 on the album, the name is Russian so there is no way to write it

Hammer No More the Fingers (local punk, indy band)- Bossman

Schooner (at the cave on March 1st)- Pray For You To Die (m4a)

The Never- Antarctica

Bull City - Game

Martha Wainwright

Black Mountain

Love is Chemicals- Half Way Out The Door

The Brokedown - Down In the Valley

Twilight Sad

Sunset Rubdown

I believe the next meeting is in March. Date to be determined. Happy listening...

Paris of the Piedmont

A musical homage to our lovely town:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

what's burning for me

I have been on a 'Soft Bulletin' kick for the past two months or so. The album has been on my Best Of list since it came out but it had been forever since I revisited it. Then back in mid-December I was walking around Ballard in Seattle after an interview, the sun was going down, it was rainy and I stopped into a little cafe for a coffee and heard 'A Spoonful Weighs a Ton' on the stereo and just sat and listened while I warmed up. Luckily, the barista had the entire album on - not just the radio or a mix - so I sat some more and some more until it was over. I think I've listened to the record probably 15 times since then and find myself singing the songs during the day. Right now the particular one in my head is Suddenly Everything Has Changed. Enjoy. And if you don't have The Soft Bulletin let me know. You need it.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

why do I still burn for you?

You know those songs that get stuck on repeat for days at a time? The ones that you listen to compulsively, then go so far as to force yourself to listen to something else for fear of ruining the song, only to turn back a few songs later? Sure you do. Generally speaking, I find these songs to be universally appealing, or appalling, depending on the person. One woman's treasure... Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to hear what song's been in heaviest rotation for everyone. I'll start:

Sun Kil Moon
- Carry Me Ohio

This song has been haunting me for a few weeks now. After missing the
Mark Kozelek show a few weeks back, I started to feel like I'd missed something big. I've never seen him, or any of his projects, live before... but he's kind of an "it-kid," at least by the critics I care to listen to, and it made me dig back into my digital archives to give Sun Kil Moon another shot. I think I came across a Paste write-up of Ghosts of the Great Highway a few years ago, found it intriguing, but didn't "get it" on the first listen. So I never really went back to it. Anyway, I get it now... and I can't get over it. It's a bit of a concept album, telling stories of famous boxers in addition to the typical love/loss fodder. "Carry Me Ohio" epitomizes the love/loss/regret bit, but Kozelek does a complete 180 on the next track "Salvador Sanchez," with a heavily distorted guitar rift and plaintive, soaring voice. I think the overall mood of the album is pensive, but there are enough uptempo songs to keep it out of the singer/songwriter/emo ouevre.

Who's up?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Parlour #2

Last night marked the second round of music parlour. This meeting was pretty informal (and a little rushed) as we combined music sharing with a nail-biting UNC-Clemson game.

Still, we explored a few new (and old) artists:
--Sara introduced us to Glossary.

--Rob played a few songs from Citay and Yeasayer. Fortunately for us, Yeasayer's playing in Chapel Hill at the Local 506 on January 17th. This will be the Music Parlour's first field there!

--Thanks to Jimmy, we learned about Bon Iver, who recently created For Emma, Forever Ago while hibernating alone in a Midwestern log cabin. Looks like the full album will be released in February.

--Jacquelyn showed up with a few old albums from her Austin days, and played The Flatlanders, Guy Clark, and Slaid Cleaves.

We decided to meet monthly, so the next meeting will take place in February. Who's hosting?

Parlour #2