Friday, April 30, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday's song

Man, I'm on a definite folk kick right now...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday's songs

First up is this gem from Old Crow Medicine Show. I haven't been able to get it out of my head at all in the past month, and it's been glorious:

As far as the next one... hey, look who's coming to town next week: The Avett Brothers! Here's a clip from when the boys rolled through town last year:

And by the way, why don't you join me in running across the street after the Avetts to check out Shearwater:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

SwedeFest 2010 is booked!

Oh shit, it's SwedeFest time again!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Friday's songs

I think we'll have to go with two today:

And next, to welcome the Guthrie Family to Tucson, where they'll play Centennial Hall later tonight, with me sitting in the audience, surely swept up in joy:

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Review: Harlem - Hippies

Published in the Tucson Weekly:
Garage rock done right aches for the sort of unbridled enthusiasm at the core of Hippies, the first Matador record from Austin-via-Tucson trio Harlem.

The band's bouncy, melodic garage rock is colored with flecks of soul and surf rock, but it's the fantastic songs that hold Hippies aloft. The record is an absolute powerhouse that opens with nine consecutive tracks that rate great to excellent. It's only once the band lets off the throttle ever so slightly that Hippies takes a small dip.

The band—Michael Coomers, Curtis O'Mara and Jose Boyer—plays with a loose and straightforward combination of guitar, bass and drums. The formula is hardly unique, but it's executed to near perfection.

Hippies is full of love songs and breakup songs, but it's the band's spin on the great tradition of American rock, pop and soul that gives the record its magnetism.

Between opener "Someday Soon" and "Be Your Baby," the band's lyrics swing from flippant mischief to youthful sincerity; Harlem deftly handles both: "Someday soon you'll be on fire / and you'll ask me for a glass of water / I'll say no, you can just let that shit burn / and you'll say please, please, please put me out;" and "I just wanna be your baby / I don't mean maybe."

With a hefty 16 songs in a quick 40 minutes, Hippies could've lost a couple of less-memorable tunes. Small flaws aside, it's an absolute stunner of an album, brimming with confidence and songs that draw you in again and again.

Harlem - Friendly Ghost

Review: Miles Kurosky - The Desert of Shallow Effects

Published in the East Bay Express:

Occupying the idiosyncratic end of the pop-genius spectrum, Miles Kurosky led Beulah through four albums of catchy indie rock. Kurosky returns with a solo debut six years after Beulah's swan song, sounding more like he never took a hiatus than someone who labored endlessly chasing a sound just out of reach.

A wide variety of instruments weave in and out of Kurosky's ever-shifting songs (more than two dozen musicians are credited, most playing multiple instruments), but he orchestrates The Desert of Shallow Effects according to the same principles he followed with Beulah: pop on top, and whimsy below. Whether it's with a perfectly catchy melody or some subversive twist, Kurosky laces the songs with enticing moments, lying like snare traps in wait for a listener only half paying attention. Kurosky is a tricky lyricist, capable of excellent turns of phrase, but tough to follow the wordier he gets.

The Desert of Shallow Effects sounds intentionally unfocused, but for all the moments when the songs seem overloaded, on the brink of falling into chaos, Kurosky has an answer, in the form of yet another blossoming flash of pop perfection. The album's strongest moments are those that sound most familiar to Beulah fans. "She Was My Dresden" weaves acoustic and electric guitars into a somber and meditative tale of tragedy. With its horns and organ, album closer "West Memphis Skyline" sounds like a circus wrapping up business for the day, under the long shadows of a fading sun.

The Desert of Shallow Effects is an exciting and complex record, but it's worth remembering that for all the melodic hooks he can bring, Kurosky remains an oddball and an acquired taste. Those not drawn to Beulah in the first place could easily find themselves lost somewhere between confused and disinterested. (Majoromo Records/Shout! Factory)

Miles Kurosky - Dog in the Burning Building

Review: Beach House - Teen Dream

Published in the East Bay Express:

The comfort zone for Beach House is indeed comfortable, an ornate and delicate soundscape in which songs stay afloat with an airy serenity. Teen Dream takes a small step away from the band's dreamier aspects, but the basic elements are the same — shimmering, melodic pop built from piano, organ, and guitar, and hazy vocals that drape across the songs like lace accents.

The Baltimore duo of Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand sought out a converted church in upstate New York to record their third album, with producer Chris Coady. The church setting lends a heightened grandeur to the album, meshing well with the chiming chords and nearly omnipresent reverb. With its pleasantly drowsy pace, Teen Dream is music for watching clouds slowly drift by, lost in the tender sway of Legrand's voice.

The sound masks some darker moments lyrically, like on "Used to Be," when Legrand sings Does each day feel like another lie? on her way to a chorus that carefully dances around an expected heartbreak: Don't forget the nights when it all felt right/Are you not the same as you used to be?

The album's strongest moments are when the band adds something extra in terms of the instrumentation. "Norway" uses a slide guitar to match the breathy longing in Legrand's vocals, while "Take Care" uses a harpsichord to brush on a glossier sheen before fading slowly away, like the falling sparkles of fireworks.

Teen Dream has a graceful tranquility, and having achieved that sort of balance, Beach House sounds careful not to disrupt the band's core essence. (Sub Pop)

Beach House - Norway

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Friday, April 02, 2010