Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I love your guts, The Weepies.

By Josh Lamkin
I think it takes guts to name a band The Weepies. Admit it, you're talking to someone and they tell you they have a band and it's called The Weepies, and the first thing you think is, "Great, maybe someday I'll come watch you trot out a whole show of your maudlin, dirge-like whateverkindofmusic, and then afterward my friends and I will commit ritual mass suicide."

Okay maybe you don't think that exactly, but you get my point.

But The Weepies don't make depressing music. At least it doesn't slap you in the face with the cold, lifeless hand of your inadequacies and failures. I don't know, actually I wouldn't describe their music as depressing at all. Sorry I'm spending so much time talking about this, but I'm just trying to clear their name. Pardon the pun. Let's move on.

I love The Weepies. I would classify them as folk music. BUT WAIT! I have played folk music and have participated in what is described as the New Folk music scene, the music scene that barely audibly emanates from the coffeehouses and Unitarian Churches of this country (USA). The Weepies started out as two solo acts from that scene, Deb Talan and Steve Tannen.

As solo acts Talan and Tannen were great, really really great. (You can find the solo releases from both Talan and Tannen on The Weepies website.) But there's a greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts quality to The Weepies that is a common magic of any number of the great duos in history, Lennon/McCartney, Hall/Oates, Saliers/Ray, Timberlake/Chasez (kidding on that last one).

I have to admit I think Deb Talan is hot. She has maybe like the best smile ever. She looks like a girl I've known since we were 6 and whom I was in love with for most of the years of our lives before she married a total douchebag. But that's another story.

Talan and Tannen formed The Weepies and escaped what would most certainly have been death by obscurity in--and pardon my crass editorializing here--the cauldron of mediocrity that is the New Folk scene. I'm so glad they did.

The Weepies' newest record is called Say I Am You. I dare you to listen to it. You probably won't be able to stop once you start. Okay so I have to admit that the first time I heard Say I am You I wasn't hooked. But I have issues. It often takes me a while to catch on to something that later seems so obviously genius. That's my problem, though.

Say I Am You is full of subtly produced, understated acoustic gems. Standout songs on the record are "Take It From Me," "I've Gotta Have You," and the two most addictive songs on earth right now "World Spins Madly On," and "Riga Girls." I can't say enough good about the Talan/Tannen songwriting team. The songs are emotionally bare, intellectual without being obtuse, and catchy as hell. It seems like the duo's singing voices were meant for each other, harmonic soulmates, and I love the way the production on the record is simple so that the wonderful qualities of both voices, individually and together, really stay out in front and command most of the listener's attention.

Well, I really could go on and on about The Weepies. You just gotta buy Say I Am You, and when you love it you should also buy their EP Happiness too. it. Now. Go on....

Friday, October 20, 2006

Fridays Are For New Finds, Gridlock

By d-mac
Well, I'm off to sit in the fifty year-old parking lot that is the Georgia Interstate System, slowly inching my way down to Sunny Florida to see the family, and hopefully soak up the last few days of warmth before the colder, darker days finally take root here in Atlanta. But before I go, I'll share with you a couple of new finds that hopefully you'll take a minute to check out:

Cataldo - Wedding Cake

Cataldo is Eric Anderson, an indie/folk music maker originally out of Moscow, Idaho, who now resides in Portland, or Minneapolis, depending on how you interpret his myspace page (let's just split the difference and say he's from somewhere on the border of Montana and Wyoming).

I happened upon this guy by random perusal of EYM's oft-neglected inbox of myspace friend requests, which is usually teeming with shameless, unsolicited invites from marginal up-and-coming bands of various degrees of self-delusion. But every so often, I stumble on a shameless, unsolicited invite from a promising up-and-coming band that I actually enjoy and want to learn more about. This morning, Cataldo was one of those bands.

"Wedding Cake" is a bittersweet heart-wrencher about a guy psyching himself up to go the wedding of an ex-girlfriend that you can tell he's not completely over yet. You can tell, because he comes right out and says it, nay declares it: "selfish regret beneath First Methodist I declare to Jesus Christ, and both of His associates." The one that got away, huh, buddy? Ouch. I suggest you take full advantage of the open bar.

I highly recommend checking out Cataldo's website and/or myspace page and listening to the other songs he's put up there. You may just like it. And if you do, why not consider going and buying his self-titled CD from cdbaby or itunes.

Flunk - On My Balcony

I just now found out about these guys (thanks to Radio Paradise), but I can already tell you that Flunk is "YANEBIFILW." That's a mnemonic device I just created for Yet Another Norwegian Electronic Band I'm Falling In Love With. Or you could also use "YANEBWWIFIL," if you prefer handling your prepositions in a more gramatically responsible way. "On My Balcony" is a single off their 2004 sophomore album, Morning Star, which I intend to pick up the next time I'm in a record store. If you're lucky, maybe I'll share. [Update: Finally got the album. Check out "On My Balcony" linked above.]

Check out Flunk's myspace page.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


By d-mac
Hem played Smith's Olde Bar last night and man it was something else. I counted ten musicians on stage, including a quite pregnant Sally Ellyson on lead vocals, co-founder and songwriter Dan Messe on keys and backup vocals, Steve Curtis on guitar, mandolin, and harmony vocals, and producer Gary Maurer on guitar, harmonica, and additional harmonies. Add a drummer, a bass player, a pedal steel guitar and dobro player, and a three-piece mini-orchestra of harp, clarinet, and violin, and you get a picture of how crowded the stage was.

I've been listening to Hem's first two albums, Rabbit Songs and Eveningland while driving my car on long road trips to Jacksonville for so long now that I've come to associate them with home. Maybe it helps that many of the songs reflect on growing up, or leaving home, or going back. Or maybe it's Sally Ellyson's lulling voice, reminiscent of a present-day Karen Carpenter, as backed by well-orchestrated, movie-score-ready instrumentation that seems to carry the lyrics along as if they were floating. It's comfort music.

Local husband and wife slash singer-songwriter duo Arlington Priest opened, accompanied by Will Robertson on upright bass and acoustic guitar. I commented to AJ that they seemed the appropriate choice to set the tone for the indie-folk, "countrypolitan" stylings to follow. I realized I may have spoken too soon though, once the second band, Sue Wilkinson, took the stage. These guys threw me for a loop. I'm not really sure how to describe their sound. Imagine a Fleetwood Mac cover band that sustains itself by playing weddings and Bar Mitzvahs in hopes that they will one day be discovered by a music director to write a hit song for some cheesy 80's chick flick (the song would be played during the credits, but not the one that comes on at the end of the movie - the one after that one, you know, when you're reading about the gaffer and the best boy and the special thanks to Mrs. Pilkington for bringing coffee and watercrest sandwiches to the set every day). Imagine that, but twenty years later.

Maybe it was due in part to the AC they had blasting upstairs at Smith's, but I had chills for the majority of the time Hem played. They played a bunch from their brand new album, Funnel Cloud, including one that Dan Messe said he wrote about his wife's TV watching habits. He explained that he was annoyed by her infatuation with those West coast pretty-folk shows like The OC and Laguna Beach, and decided to write an anti-anthem of sorts. "We're sticking our flag in Brooklyn," Messe quipped, "... or Atlanta, or wherever. Anywhere but California."

Hem - Not California

"and I'm not strong / and you're not rich / and we're not lost / where we don't live ... and it's not California here"

As a side note, AJ later lamented not being home in time to watch the new LB episode. I'm sure they'll have re-runs, buddy, but I looked up the re-cap just for you:

It's Valentines Day in Laguna Beach, which means love -- and drama -- is in the air. Kyndra and Tyler have a dinner party planned for the day of romance, but with Kyndra's latest hookup, Cameron, on the guest list, it looks like disaster is on the menu.
Sounds hawt.

Here's a video I took at the show. There's another one here as well.

"The Beautiful Sea"

Friday, September 29, 2006

Karl, Good To See You!

By d-mac

The Karl Denson Trio
Smith's Olde Bar
Sunday, September 24th, 2006

Karl Denson. The man with the band. Okay it was a trio. If you haven't seen Denson's usual band The Tiny Universe, I really don't understand how you've made it through life this far, but anyway. This show was KD3. Karl funked the jazz trio thing out as much as could possibly have been done. It was ridiculous. And also, due to an unnamed source's creepy connection on the "inside", the gang got to go back stage and cavort with the band. mean funkin' awesome.

The guy in the middle of the picture on the right is the drummer, Brett Sanders, older brother of John Staten, the drummer for Tiny Universe. Brett was super nice and especially cool to us. He can also play the skins like a nobodysbidness.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Embiggen Your Mix: NordicTracks

By d-mac
NordicTracks MixOne year ago today I was on a plane to Oslo, headphones on, listening to a lot of Kings of Convenience, Sondre Lerche and other random music I had carefully selected to be my soundtrack for the two-and-a-half-week sojourn in Norway. I was travelling with my mom, who was an only-child, born in the US to Norwegian immigrants, making me 50% Norske by blood. This was Mom's second trip ever to the country of her parents' birth, and my first. In fact, this was the first and only time I've ever been out of the country. On our itinerary was to visit dozens of relatives on my Grandmother's side, spread out in towns and villages across the country, travelling by plane, train, automobile, boat, and foot from Oslo, to Trondheim, to Mosjøen, to Bodø in the Arctic Circle, and finally Fagerli, a little strawberry farm in the mountains where my Grandmother was born and raised with her eleven younger sisters and brothers (ten girls, two boys in all... thanks Mom, for correcting me here).

At each stop along the way we were eagerly greeted by family, some of whom I'd met on their occasional visit to Florida, but most of whom I'd never seen or spoken to in my life. Nevertheless, they'd consistently smother us with hugs, shower us with pleasantries, and then immediately sit us down and demand us to, "Spise! Spise! You must eat." We'd then share family stories over coffee and cake, or "middag" (lunch/supper), or strawberries and cream, or some combination thereof. We'd eat and eat and eat, and then we'd eat some more.

As I'm writing this I'm realizing that I sound like I'm Will Ferrell telling a tale of when I passed through the seven layers of the candy cane forest, through the sea of twirly, swirly gumdrops (and then presumably walked through the Lincoln Tunnel). Up until a year ago, I guess that's sort of the image I had of Norway: the far-away land of my maternal ancestry, from which many Christmas traditions and family lore had been passed down through the years. A place whose mental projection in my mind had been based mostly on oil paintings that hung in the walls of our house. But it was never a real place before. It was Neverland, or Wonderland. It was Santa's Workshop.

But now it's real. Now I've been there. Now I can claim it as home. Just as Honolulu, or Jacksonville, or Tallahassee, or Atlanta, or Conyers is my home, Norway is my home.

*    *    *
So maybe I've just been on some kind of subconscious kick to get in touch with the motherland or something, but I'm finding that a lot of the new music I've been getting into lately is from Scandinavian bands. Maybe it's a newfound pride in my heritage, or maybe it's just that all the good music these days is coming from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland. Anyway, my latest mix is dedicated to the Scandahoovians. It's about 50% Norske, just like me. I present you, NordicTracks...

Listen to the playlist [M3U]. Click on image above for printable track list and album art.

Track Listing:
  1. Sweden The Knife - Heartbeats
    Swedish twee singer Karin Dreijer Andersson and her little brother Olof Dreijer form this electronic indie duo, who are apparently notorious for big-leaguing the media all the time, and rarely making any public appearances or playing live shows. Fans of The Knife might also want to check out Karin's old band, Honey Is Cool.

  2. Norway Blind Stereo - Go!!!
    Blind Stereo is an electronica trio from Norway, composed of Jan Tore Smith, Nils Jakob Farestvedt, and Trygve Hjermann Berg. According to their myspace page, "[they] aim to make music that challenges the listeners, both on the dance floor and in more laid back environments. The music is all about groove, noise, beats and beatiful melodies." Okay sirs, challenge accepted!

  3. Norway Datarock - FaFaFa
    Another duo. Wikipedia describes them as a Norwegian "new rave" band and I have no idea what that means. You can find some more stuff on their myspace page, including a very, very geeky song about finding love at computer camp.

  4. Denmark Figurines - The Wonder
    Representing the alt. rock scene from Copenhagen, Denmark. From what I've heard, I'd describe them as The Strokes meets Built To Spill meets... I don't know, you decide. Not to be confused with Jimmy Tamborello's band, Figurine.

  5. Norway Hanne Hukkelberg - Ease
    This is one of the last tracks I found for this mix, and currently one of my favorites. It's got a lot of little syncopated rhythms and melodies going on at the same time, as if six musicians sat down in one room, swapped instruments, and decided to all just start playing the first thing that came to their heads, but it works.

  6. Norway The Whitest Boy Alive - Burning
    Erlend Øye of Kings of Convenience recently joined up with a couple of German dudes to form The Whitest Boy Alive. Mix-tape purists might point out that since the band is actually 2/3 German they don't neccessarily belong on an all-Scandinavian mix, but I couldn't leave these guys off. In fact, I put them on here twice. Anyway, Erlend Øye is Norwegian enough to carry the whole band, and he kicks fucking ass.

  7. Sweden doublePark - I Don't Want To Party
    Pure, unadulterated, indie pop. Sweden's answer to Fountain's of Wayne?

  8. Norway Sondre Lerche - The Curse Of Being In Love
    Off Sondre Lerche's contemporary jazz album with the Faces Down Quartet, Duper Sessions, which came out earlier this year.

  9. Norway Ane Brun - Rubber & Soul
    Born and raised in Molde, Norway on a steady diet of Ani DiFranco, Joni Mitchell, Ben Harper, Nick Drake, and lutefisk, Ane finally picked up a guitar at age 21 and began playing to anyone who would listen. She spent a brief stint in Spain in the late 90's, playing as a street musician and honing her chops. Now, at age 30, she's tearing up the music scene all over Norway and Sweden, and even getting some well-deserved attention on this side of the pond.

  10. Sweden Tobias Fröberg - God's Highway
    You may think you're hearing Paul & Art, but nay, it's just Tobias. Here's what Fröberg has to say about this one:

    "I wrote that song in a guitar store, trying an old guitar. Immediately I heard two lead-vocals, the vocal arrangements came to me in that store. It's very much a tribute to Paul Simon."

  11. Norway Kings of Convenience - Love Is No Big Truth
    I'm convinced that everything Erlend Øye touches turns to gold. He's like the Nordic Ben Gibbard. Eirik Glambek Bøe, the other half of Kings of Convenience, is not to be overlooked either. He's the Garfunkel to Øye's Simon; the Oates to Øye's Hall. Together, they compose subtle, yet poigniant indie-pop ballads that are sure to have you tapping your feet and reaching for the volume knob every time.

  12. Sweden Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks
    I challenge you to listen to this in your car without whistling along to the melody. It's infectious. The video is also great.

  13. Norway a-ha - Fine Blue Line
    The latest from the pioneers of Norwegian pop.

  14. Sweden Acid House Kings - That's Because You Drive Me
    Really, really good twee pop band from Stockholm, Sweden. For fans of Belle & Sebastian and Ambulance LTD.

  15. Iceland Emiliana Torrini - Sunny Road
    The sweetest thing to come out of Iceland since, well, Björk I suppose. A lot of her stuff, this song in particular, reminds me a lot of Canadian singer-songwriter Leslie Feist (that girl who did that "Mushaboom" song).

  16. Iceland Björk - Jóga
    This song is nothing new, but I felt like this mix wouldn't be complete without some good old Björk. This version of "Jóga" has a cool string arrangement running through it that I really dig.

  17. Norway Röyksopp - Sparks
    I almost put this one on the Blips, Beeps & Farts mix I made a while back, but decided to save it for this one instead. These guys are often classified as "electronica" or "trip hop", but may be more well known for their collaborations with other musicians, such as fellow Bergen natives, Kings of Convenience.

  18. Norway The Whitest Boy Alive - Don't Give Up
    Okay I'll shut up about Erlend Øye now. But how awesome is this guy?

  19. Sweden José González - Heartbeats
    You may recognize this one from such songs as Track 1 of this very same mix. Born in Sweden to Argentine parents, González has been getting a lot of indie/folk cred these days with his cover of The Knife's "Heartbeats," following the same slow-it-down-so-the-lyrics-can-sink-in approach that Ryan Adams did so successfully with Oasis's "Wonderwall" and Iron & Wine with The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights". The song has since made its way to the digital appliance commercial circuit, with the obligatory cameo on The O.C.. Many thanks to Radio Paradise for turning me onto this guy.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

When You Travel People Lose Your Shit

By Josh Lamkin
Sept. 6th, 2006
The Tabernacle
special guest: Augustana

I feel kinda bad for Snow Patrol because the world, or at least the world of guitars, amps, and electrons, seemed to be against them last night at their show at The Tabernacle. "When you travel, people lose your shit," said Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. Apparently the band was playing with a bunch of rented amps and stuff. It did not go well for them.

Right from the beginning of the show some kind of craziness was happening with lead singer/guitarist Gary Lightbody's (awesome name--had to say it again) guitar and the sound was wobbly and seemed to cut in and out a bit. Also the bass amp was freaking out. Like really freaking out. Low, spleen-rattling feedback. During the first or second song, bassist Paul Wilson actually started smashing his bass on the ground as if it was the end of a Who concert or something. By the end of the show Wilson had also karate kicked the bass amp several times. Honestly, the Snow Patrol guys seemed genuinely upset and nervous about the sound problems but never threw a rockstar tantrum or anything, and as a result the audience was 100% on their side the whole night. That actually made the show memorable and made me like these guys.

I hadn't heard a ton of Snow Patrol stuff before the show. I LOVELOVELOVE the song "Chocolate" and their song "Run" is pretty good and couldn't have been a cooler song in concert with the audience singing the last chorus by itself. Snow Patrol had such bad sound problems during the song "Chasing Cars" that they actually played it again during the encore (which they waited like five minutes to come out and play). The show overall was pretty solid considering I'm sure it was hard to get a groove going with the sound problems--they really were this bad, I'm not dwelling on it. Lightbody has a very cool charisma and charm and sort of does strange things with his arms and body during the show and seems like an indie-rock Joe Cocker at times.

My favorite thing about this show, though, was the opening band, Augustana. I think they're from San Diego. They were fantastic. Lead singer Dan Layus has an awesome voice, and their songs were great, melodic, catchy, very well put together. Listen to some of their songs on their myspace page. Tell me if you don't agree. I was looking forward to seeing Augustana actually because I had read their bio on their website and loved it. Their bio is really sincere, personal, and humble. Come to think of it, their music seemed the same. I really must check out more of these guys.

I wish we'd gotten to the show earlier so I could've caught more of Augustana, but we were held up trying to park. On the way in, however, my second favorite performer of the night did an impromptu show on the sidewalk. A homeless guy yelled very loudly, "My name is Mr. Hambone and I wanna party all the fuckin' time! God bless you boys--can I have a couple dollars."

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Weather Is Here...

By d-mac
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSo Wednesday morning we're bagging the rest of the work week and headed for the beach to embiggen our tans. Maybe we'll return someday if we run out of sunscreen or feel the sudden urge to blog again, but in case you don't hear from us for awhile, that's where we is.

While we're gone, why don't you have a look at Michael Leviton's video for his song, "The Beach Gets Cold"? The video itself doesn't seem to be much about beaches as it turns out. Actually, it's just a bunch of footage of Michael Leviton playing mini-golf (badly) and plucking his ukulele, but it's still cool.

And if you liked that at all, then go listen to this:

Michael Leviton - Summer's The Worst

Now go outside and enjoy the rest of your Summer.