Friday, May 25, 2007

Shapes and Sizes.

Download: Shapes and Sizes -- "Teller/Seller"

So I thought I would spend sometime this Friday before Memorial Day, that most American of holidays, to bring to you a band from Canada.

Shapes and Sizes are a bit nomadic, meeting in Vancouver, and now claiming Montreal as home. The newest record, "Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner", hit stores on Tuesday, and is a tremendous follow up to last year's self-titled release. According to Pitchfork, Asthmatic Kitty label-mate/mega-critic Sufjan Stevens had this to say about Shapes and Sizes:

"They hardly let the songs take flight before shooting them down with the cunning of a duck hunter. But this is where things get interesting. The jumping and barking of hound dogs, the breathless sprint to the mallard, slumped and bloodied in a sanctuary of water, the howling reeds, the ghost of the wind. Well, my metaphor gets the best of me here."

Catch Shapes and Sizes on their tour of the US and Canada this summer, starting off with an extended jaunt with The National!

06-02 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's *
06-04 Montreal, Quebec - Cabaret du Musée Juste Pour Rire *
06-05 Toronto, Ontario - Opera House *
06-06 Detroit, MI - The Magic Stick *^
06-07 Chicago, IL - The Metro *^
06-08 Minneapolis, MN - 400 Bar *^
06-09 Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon *^
06-11 St. Louis, MO - Blueberry Hill *^
06-12 Louisville, KY - Headliners *^
06-13 Atlanta, GA - The Earl *^
06-15 Cincinnati, OH - 20th Century Theater *^
06-16 Columbus, OH - The Basement *^
06-18 Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom *^
06-19 Pittsburgh, PA - Rex Theatre *^
06-20 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club *^
06-21 Cambridge, MA - Middle East *^
06-29 Vancouver, British Columbia - Railway Club
06-30 Victoria, British Columbia - Metro Theatre
07-04 Kelowna, British Columbia - The Whitehouse Gallery #
07-05 Calgary, Alberta - The Marquee #
07-06 Lethbridge, Alberta - Tongue 'n' Groove #
07-07 Edmonton, Alberta - Argyll Hall #
07-08 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - Amigo's Cantina #
07-09 Regina, Saskatchewan - O'Hanlon's #
07-10 Brandon, Manitoba- TBA #
07-11 Winnipeg, Manitoba - Collective Cabaret #
07-12 Fardo, ND - Aquarium #
07-13 Minneapolis, MN -Nomad World Pub #
07-14 Champaign, IL - Cowboy Monkey #
07-15 Madison, WI - Cafe Montmarte #
07-16 Milwaukee, WI - Stonefly Brewery #
07-17 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle #
07-18 Detroit, MI - Majestic #
07-19 Windsor, Ontario - Phog Lounge #
07-20 Brantford, Ontario - Ford Plant #
07-21 Toronto, Ontario - Sneaky Dee's #
07-22 Sudbury, Ontario - The Townehouse #
07-23 Hamilton, Ontario - The Casbah #
07-24 Guelph, Ontario - TBA #
07-25 Kitchner, Ontario - Starlight Social Club #
07-26 Ottawa, Ontario - Zaphod's #
07-27 Montreal, Quebec - Main Hall #

* with the National
^ with Talkdemonic
# with They Shoot Horses Don't They

There's also the video version of "Teller/Seller." Makes me want to start a fire in a park for Memorial Day!

Oh, and Happy Birthday Mom!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Yeah, I know...

I know this thing has already made the rounds, but, damn!, Shaq has some moves. And I like how he gets uncomfortably homoerotic with Lebron and Dwight Howard.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Je Suis France

Download: Je Suis France -- "Je Suis France Is Playing At My House"

While not formally streeting until next Tuesday, May 29th, Je Suis France's third LP and ultimate HammJamm, Afrikan Majik, can actually be ordered today. I know, I know, it's almost too much to handle. Now take a deep breath and gird up your loins for what I'm about to tell you, because that, my friend, is not all. If you direct your web browser on over to Antenna Farm's France pre-order page and do the right thing by ordering your copy now, you will receive a username and password from the East Bay's finest enabling you to download the entirety of The France's performance at Twilight Delirium 8 for free! Blau. If you needed any extra motivation to get on with it and order Afrikan Majik, this oughta do it for you. I was there; I went down on one knee twice (which may or may not be as nasty as it sounds); it was a fantastic, sloppy, drunken evening as the track above will attest. Essentially, we're dealing with the single most important document of rockin' in the free world ever, and it's free.

Further, Je Suis France is also gonna be running a little contest for the "Je Suis France Party Pack". The winner gets: a copy of everything the band has released (that's three LPs and something like 18 EPs people), a night of drinking with the band in Lexington, Kentucky (see the date below, travel not provided), and an autographed back tattoo of the Darkness Dead Head shirt that is currenty in the design phase (also to be paid for by the recipient). All you have to do to win the Party Pack is create the cover for Je Suis France's next EP. Much like The Highlander, there can be only one. The band will choose the winning EP cover themselves. You can get a feel for what The France might be looking for, and what you might win, by headin' on over to their EP page at Nokahoma Records. For now, there's no official repository for entries into the contest, so send your submissions to thecropper(at) and we'll be sure to get them to the band.

What's more, starting in July you can get your France in the flesh at any of the following locations on the corresponding date:

July 14: Atlanta - the Drunken Unicorn
July 15: North Carolinaesque - TBA
July 16: Brooklyn, NY - Union Hall
July 17: Boston - Great Scott
July 18: New York - Cake Shop
July 19: Washington DC - DC Nine
July 20: Lexington, KY - The Icehouse
July 21: Athens, GA - Caledonia

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Caribbean

Download: The Caribbean -- "The Go From Tactical"

Lately, I've been having a lot of trouble getting to sleep. Once I get to sleep, there's no worries, and in the morning, don't sweat it, I can oversleep just fine. Yep, it's just the getting to sleep that's been a problem. Last night, as I was hanging out in bed waiting for the zzzs to descend upon me, I picked up a book my girlfriend gave me on street logos (which as far as I can tell is a fairly fancy term/slight variation for/on graffiti). Very cool stuff. It got me thinking about art, public space, legality, commerce in art, and all sorts of other things I sometimes think not too hard about.

The idea of modifying common space in an interesting way for any and all to see/modify in their own way has always been pleasing. Last night, I found myself wondering which medium allows someone to reach the most people with their art for the least cost, and I found myself coming back to the idea of a website as being the most effective means to control a space that's readily experienced by a large number of people. Even if you're working in a large city, the number of people viewing your work on buildings, street signs, etc. is bound to be rather limited. Factor, in that there are a sizeable number of people that spend a hell of a lot more time looking at monitors than buildings, and you've got yourself a fairly compelling case for the website as the most effective means of disseminating art to the largest number of people in the most economic fashion. It's true that one of the more striking features of good graffiti is the way it can break up otherwise mundane, common landscapes that people become accustomed to viewing in a certain way. To some extent, that's not present on the internet. Our experience of the internet is not quite as routine as our route to work (though it seems to be getting that way for me), and it takes a pretty interesting website to slap me out of my surfing coma, but I think there's still a case to be made for the ability of an extremely interesting website to carve out unique creative space for an artist. As far as bands/musicians go, this is even more true in the age of the all-homogenizing Myspace. Many a friend and musician has voiced concerns about the proliferation of Myspace as a limiting factor on a band's ability to express something unique about themselves through their website. For a while, I didn't really have too much of a dog in that fight (to make a poorly chosen pun, given the position of the Falcons ostensibly starting quarterback...yeesh good move, Vick), but I've started to warm up to the idea of the website as an important tool in a bands creative arsenal.

All this has been a very long-winded, dilettantish run-up to heaping praise on The Caribbean's website. A), it's freakin' hilarious; an amazing spoof of a corporate website, complete with mid-level management jargon, mission statements, and product roll outs. B) What's more, it cuts to the core of the band's Herculean task of wrestling the bureaucratic into the artistic. For a more nuanced expression of this idea, check out Joe Tangari's review of the band's last LP, Plastic Explosives. That album was one of the more challenging, and ultimately rewarding, LPs of 2005. Upon the first few listens, it was considerably less immediatly arresting than the preceding EP, William of Orange, which is a damn fine little record. Having set PE down for a few months, I revisited the album later in the year, in a more patient mood. Fortunately for me that I did, because I've come to enjoy the album's quiet, subtle insights and word play.

This leads me to the, admittedly buried, lede of this twisted post: The Caribbean have a new LP coming out via Hometapes. The Indie powerhouse of a label - hot off the heels of an impressive run of releases by the likes of Paul Duncan, Pattern Is Movment, and Slaraffenland - will drop the upcoming LP, Populations, this fall. In anticipation of the album's release, Hometapes is releasing a limited-edition 7'' single featuring "The Go From Tactical" available for download above. You can take a look at the artwork here, and you can purchase said 7'', featuring photography by Sara Padgett, and a pressing limited to 500 tasty coke-bottle-clear vinyl pieces packaged in a heavy PVC sleeve here.

The Caribbean for their part, will be hitting the road for a brief West Coast tour. So, if you're of that persuasion, peep the dates:

8/2/07 - Denver, CO - Hi Dive
8/3/07 - Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge
8/4/07 - Boise, ID - Flying M Coffeegarage
8/5/07 - Portland, OR - Towne Lounge
8/6/07 - Seattle, WA - SS Marie Antoinette
8/8/07 - San Francisco - Hemlock Tavern
8/9/07 - Los Angeles - Pehrspace w/ Brad Laner
8/11/07 - Boulder, CO - TBA

Phew, that was some post, eh?

Monday, May 21, 2007


Let's pour one out for Jimmy McShane (AKA Baltimora), who died of AIDS in 1995. I never heard any other Baltimora songs, but this one was a monster. Anybody heard a Baltimora record?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Morningbell--Through the Belly of the Sea

Download: Morningbell—"The Speed of God"
Download: Morningbell—"Lost Again"

A lot of bands give lip service to words like ambition, but Morningbell truly feels like it's onto something with its new album, Through the Belly of the Sea. The band members have done their research (one of them is a lawyer by day), and they truly feel like this is the first Choose Your Own Adventure album ever made. Based on the Choose Your Own Adventure books popular during the band members' youth, the album follows a nautical-themed tale reflected in the songs lyrics as well as the album art. Theoretically, the listener can listen to the LP in any number of ways (no one has taken the time to count the total numbers of paths possible!). Besides that, it's a bunch of hooky, twisty psych pop that recalls Clouds Taste Metallic-era Flaming Lips, some of the E6 collective, or maybe White Pepper-era Ween. Besides that, there are some serious guitar (and bass!) solos on this record. And that's just awesome. You don't hear enough of that in indie rock. I wish I could replicate that CYOA experience here, but you'll just have to buy the album yourself to find out (heh...READ THE BOOK).

On a side note, any band that features a future vet, a journalist, and a public defender rocking it is good in my book. Plus, they do a killer cover of Huey Lewis and the News' "Power of Love" (not included here). I've witnessed it firsthand.

Nerds are funny.

Correction of the day, from Penny Arcade:
A few eagle eyed viewers noticed that I accidentally drew a Nebulon-B frigate in today's comic. Gabe mentions the Mon Calamari and the Corellians but the Nebulon-B is actually produced by the Kuat Drive Yards.I deeply regret the mistake and I have since corrected it in the comic by replacing the original drawing with one of the Mon Calamari Cruiser "Liberty", sadly lost in the Battle of Endor . I am in no way trying to diminish the Nebulon-B frigate or the fine craftsmanship of the dedicated workers employed by KDY. Again I apologize for any inconvenience or offence my carelessness may have caused.
Oh, man. The fact that I understand what he's talking about scares me a little.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


A few years ago, I saw Wilco play at the Granada Theater in Dallas. They played a fantastic set, and during the show, my friends and I met a couple of really nice folks from Oklahoma. They drove down just to see the show, and they were extremely nice, so we invited them to have a couple of drinks with us afterwards. Once we got to the bar, Derek asked me where he could find the nearest Motel 6. Given that I was in a great mood, and had a few drinks in my system, I offered my apartment as a resting place before they made the drive back to Norman. I had to go to work in the morning, and trusted that Derek and Victoria would lock up behind themselves and not steal anything. I liked them that much.

So, last year, when Wilco played in Fort Worth at the Will Rogers Auditorium, I sent Derek a message asking if he'd be coming down. He did, with a friend that I had not met before, Matt. We met up after the show, had countless drinks at The Double Wide, talked about Matt's displeasure with American cheese, pizza, Diet Coke and much more. We discussed Townes Van Zandt, the bird sewn on to the shoulder of Derek's jacket, and finally, as the lights came up, Derek asked again where the nearest Motel 6 was. I was having none of it, and again, they stayed at my place. We stayed up until 7am, drinking vodka, talking about records and film, and finally, I had to go to work again.

I bore with you with this story because I want to share a video and a website. The video is a fake news program that Derek directed and stars in, all filmed in the News 9 Studio in Oklahoma City. Watch for Derek saying "all the words that you've been conditioned to hear in a real forecast."

Also, take a look at some of the art and music at Derek's site.

Matthew Alvin Brown, despiser of American Cheese, also created a film called "Rainbow in the Sun" based on an album of the same name. Here's the preview for that endeavor:

That concludes yet another tribute to friends in The Texahoma area. I hope not to subject you to another for several months.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone US Tour!

Download: Casiotone for the Painfully Alone -- "Young Shields"

Download: Casiotone for the Painfully Alone -- "Cold White Christmas"

He's got T-shirts; he's got CDs; he's got 7''s; he's got buttons; and you damn sure best believe he's got keyboards. That's right people, Owen Ashworth, bka Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, is a road warrior this summer. Backed by Antenna Farm Records artists, The Donkeys, he'll be coming to a town near you. If he gets within 1 and 1/2 hours of your home, your attendance is required. Our former intern and #1 CFTPA fan, Jef, will be taking roll.

Full Band U.S. Summer Tour with The Donkeys

6-14 - Los Angeles, CA - Echo #
6-15 - San Diego, CA - Beauty Bar
6-16 - Phoenix, AZ - Trunkspace
6-18 - Oklahoma City, OK - Conservatory
6-19 - Dallas, TX - Palladium &
6-20 - Austin, TX - Emo's &
6-21 - Houston, TX - Proletariat &
6-25 - Athens, GA - Caledonia
6-26 - Atlanta, GA - Drunken Unicorn
6-27 - Norfolk, VA - The Boot
6-29 - Washington DC- The Red and The Black
7-03 - Brooklyn, NY - Don Pedro's
7-05 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
7-06 - Cambridge, MA - Middle East %
7-07 - Burlington, VT - Kriya Studio
7-09 - Cleveland, OH - Beachland Tavern
7-11 - Chicago, IL - Beat Kitchen (all ages)
7-20 - Seattle, WA - Atlas Clothing
7-21 - Portland, OR - Holocene
7-25 - San Francisco, CA - Bottom of the HIll (all ages)

# w/ Ladybug Transistor & The Papercuts
& w/ Southerly
% w/ Pants Yell!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A tribute to Ryan Todd.

Today, one my phone conversations turned to the topic of humorous names. At my previous job, at a large food and beverage company, I worked in the information security division. That meant that I was constantly creating and denying access for users across the entire system. Users in the US, Canada, Thailand, Brazil, China, and dozens of other countries. During that time, my friend and co-worker, Ryan Todd, and I would encounter dozens of hilarious names. Ryan and I sat next to each other, so it was easy to share these names. Eventually, we decided that these names needed to be documented for posterity. I present you with "Great Names in History (current as of 5/15/07)":

Christos Pagagiannopoulos
Vangelis Fragkiadakis
Vasiliki Giannakopoulos
Lik N. Wong
Young Bang
Dongdong Zhang
Thiag Mannargudi
Pillalamari Yedukondalu
Amarinder Bhangoo-Acosta
Rufus Fontaine Sparrow
Boungnong Khoomongkhoon
Manimaran Gunasekaran
Venkata Bondada
Check Koon Yea
Gino Legacy
Kanchan Ghoshdastidar
Mohammad Haghighipodeh
Richard Laboissonniere
Boonsorn Soonthornnumwong
Ruangprai Asavathaweechoke
Nuttaporn Suksomboong
Dhanutchapor Meadhapithakwong
Rajesh Kunjukrishna Pillai Saraswathy Amma
Chittaramjan Katragadda
She'Wanca Moore
Vorawan Phianlikhitwong
Boonsom Soonthornnumwong
Jerry Chittillapilly
Billy Hohenshit
Pearly Phoon

I know you laughed at Rufus Fontaine Sparrow.

Also, after sending me "Great Names in History" today, Ryan followed up by sending this amazing video, appropriately enough with the subject line "Don't let your kids walk into a breakdance circle." Enjoy:

Ryan, thank you for bringing so much joy into my heart today. Here is another fabulous picture of Ryan.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Paul Duncan -- "The Lake Pt. 2"

I have recently become obsessed with the latest Paul Duncan release. The obsession began because "Above The Trees" was the only CD in my car for several days. I put it in, and over the course of two or three days I listened to the record 5 or 6 times.

Then I discovered that Paul Duncan was born in East Texas, which is where I was raised. Now, I'm not sure how long Paul lived in that area, but upon each listen, it feels as though the album is a tribute to that little slice of the state. When I close my eyes while listening to "The Lake Pt. 2", I can actually picture Ratcliff Lake, located in the Davy Crockett National Forest. That might be partially due to the cover art, featuring a glimpse through a dark forest of a young male deer standing a lake. I grew up in Ratcliff, where my parents owned a bait shop/feed store/meat locker/general store, which we lived on top of. "The Fire" references Mineola, a small town north of Tyler, TX. Duncan's vocals will definitely remind many of Will Oldham, and the record in general possesses that "front porch" mood that would make sense to those that have lived in towns with one blinking traffic light.

So, I'd like to thank Paul, for not only making a contemplative record filled with pedal steel, cello, violin, clarinets, trumpets, and synths. Thank you for somehow capturing the essence of the Pineywoods, and for a moment, making me feel like I'm back home.

If you want to see Paul Duncan soon, though, you're going to have to go to New York.

Jun 2 2007,
Dam Stuhltrarger Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Jun 12 2007, Pianos (Upstairs) @ 8 PM, New York, NY

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Journey Through Athens Music Starring Jeff Tobias!

A project put together by some Athens folks giving an overview of the Athens, GA music scene. I could look at that sexy Jeff Tobias all day.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

In celebration of the Bee Gees. Yes. The Bee Gees

I wish I had downloads for you folks. I really do. If I could, I would give everyone I know a copy of the Bee Gees' first six (or seven or eight or nine) records to prove to them that I'm not crazy when I say that the Bee Gees are one of my favorite bands of all time. When I say that, most people look at me like I just pooped my pants and I haven't noticed the stench yet.

Listen, I know the Bee Gees were cheesy. They were cornballs when they were kids, cheeseballs as teens, and doofuses at the height of their success. But, despite the sibling rivalries and drug use and typical rock star BS, they never once came off as cynical or calculated. Their music is awash in innocence, angst, vulnerability, and mounds and mounds of naivete. The Bee Gees always did what they wanted to do. No one forced them to go disco: they'd been moving in that direction for years. The Sgt. Peppers movie? Why not? They loved the Beatles. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Write a song for Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers? Hell, yeah! These were three guys who truly loved making and performing music. Even though they broke up once in the sixties, they avoided the "tortured artist" schtick and kept putting out records.

And the songs? Man, they wrote some killers. Airtight compositions with little fat and powerful melodies. I figured I had to do something today in honor of American Idol's trashing of the band's catalogue last night (can I just throw out as an aside that we have some of the worst finalists ever in the history of the show, even without Sanjaya? Diana Degarmo looks good by comparison!). Here are some videos and such that I found:


One of the Bee Gees' more psychedelic offerings (along with the even better "Lemons Never Forget" and "Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You"), and one of their best singles. It's got everything that you want in a Bee Gees song: strange chord progression turnarounds, angsty-as-hell lyrics, strange production choices, and an ending that conjures images of jets soaring overhead. They never did it halfway.

"Lonely Days"

A really huge "comeback" hit for them (they had a number of them). For a while, Robin quit and the band put out the great Cucumber Castle LP (don't laugh) as a duo. This comes off the great 2 Years On, probably the band's last "rock record" (check out "Alone Again" if you get the chance). A lot of people think this is a Beatles song. I have no idea why.


Really surprised this didn't show up on American Idol! Great tune: that perpetual Bee Gees anomie gives Conor Oberst a run for his money. It's all kind of creepy. What's the deal with this puppet? Did Robin even eat?

More videos to come...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Utah Carol!

Photo by Hayley Murphy

Download: Utah Carol—“Come Back Baby” MP3
Download: Utah Carol—“Ruby” MP3

I live in a front porch sorta town. A lot of my friends have front porches. I've consumed a lot of beer on front porches (back ones, too), and I even wrote a pretty decent song on a front porch the other day. I've always lived in sleepy Southern college towns filled with Victorian houses whose rent is way cheaper than it should be. I enjoy living in the South, you know, besides the seething-under-the-surface racism, poor dental care, and scary gas stations. I like the schedule. I like not having to worry about what I wear–temperature-wise–for about, say, 8 months of the year. It's great.

So why is my official Front Porch Record of the Year from a duo in Chicago? Beats the heck out of me, but Utah Carol have put out a perfect breezy indie-folk record that's remarkably bucolic for some big city folks. In fact, Rodeo Queen retains the gently strummed, lightly twangy sound of the band's namesake (a classic Marty Robbins song). It all floats lightly on top of married duo JinJa Davis and Grant Birkenbuel's airy harmonies and tight, lucid songs.

Mirah And Spectratone International

It's been a long while since Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn has graced us with a full length of new material. Thanks to the good folks at the Seattle Children's Festival the wait is over. The festival commissioned Mirah and Spectratone International for a piece that is sure to thrill children and casual shroom users a like. The piece "Share This Place" is influenced by the works of the scientist Jean Henri Fabre and focuses on the tragedies and triumphs of being a bug. Trust me, it's more hard hitting than it sounds. If you are in the seattle area over the week of May 14th - 19th, make sure to stop by the Children's Festival where Mirah and Spectratone International will be performing each afternoon. The piece will also include insane stop motion films created by Britta Johnson. The album version of "Share This Place" will be available on K Records in August.
Check out the new Track Credo Cigalia