Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Be Happy, Truly Happy

Jon Auer Songs From The Year Of Our DemiseJon Auer has announced some upcoming shows. Awesome! He's coming to Des Moines! Wow, I'm really quite surprised he's coming here. Not often he gets out anywhere, and then he chooses Des Moines!

Oh, sorry. Read that wrong. He's actually going to Yokohama, Japan. You can understand my confusion.

Also in Japanerrific news, Auer is releasing Songs From the Year of Our Demise with six extra bonus tracks only available across the Pacific. Considering Demise is easily my favorite album in the past two years, I might have to spend $40 or so for six songs. Or not.

“Instrumental from the Year of Our Demise”
“One Way Street” (band version)

“Twice Tried Advice”

“The Sun Also Sets”

“Dead Summer” (demo)

“I’d Light a Candle” (demo)

Don't Go Jumping Waterfalls

AV Club has a better-than-usual interview with Sir Paul McCartney. If anything, this serves as a reminder to buy his new album Memory Almost Full, which is quite clearly his best in decades. No argument.

It's not too cool just for everything to be "Jolly, jolly, jolly, jolly, jolly, jolly, jolly." It's kind of nice to be able to put "Jolly, jolly, jolly… darrrrk."

And Where is the Harmony? Sweet Harmony

Homer's MusicOdd, but cool.

At a time when people are crying over the loss of indie record stores, it is very unusual to see a new one opening in a mid-size market like Des Moines. Lincoln/Omaha mainstay Homer's is coming to the Des Moines-area! Well, Urbandale actually (really, Urbandale?!), but it's great news indeed. I am unashamedly a fan of iTunes and Amazon.com (what's so funny about cheap, fast, and big selection?), but I do miss the days of spending hours browsing through bins looking for that one cool import single. Zzz Records in Des Moines has filled that void to some extent, but I've been to Homer's in Nebraska, and if this new one is anything like those (in-store performances anyone?), well, I'll just be giddy about it. Yes, giddy.

And for you locals, they are doing it right by offering a new coupon everyday on their site. Cool!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Our Only Goal Will Be the Western Shore

A Led Zeppelin reunion?! Yeah, right. I'll believe it when I hear it.

The band are expected to reform in London for the one-off show with singer Robert Plant, bassist John Paul Jones and guitarist Jimmy Page being joined by late-member John Bonham's son, Jason.
Who's next? How about Pink Floyd? The Smiths? Wanna bet?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I Just Want Peace of Mind

Julian LennonIt's been nearly a decade (!!) since Julian Lennon released his excellent underrated Photograph Smile, an album on which he finally embraced his melodic Beatley chops to full effect. It appears he's finally readying the follow-up album that will hopefully be released sometime later this year. You can sample a few new tracks on hisspace. If you've followed his career at all, you'll appreciate what you hear. They sound like the next natural steps after Photograph Smile. Enjoy, and let's hope it doesn't take another ten years for new music from Jules.

So what has he been doing? Evidently he's been dabbling in documentary film-making with WhaleDreamers and winning awards for his efforts! Are you a fan of the message behind Lennon's hit Saltwater? Seems like you'll enjoy this production of his then as well as a new version of the song at hisspace.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Of No Consequence At All

Radiohead OK ComputerHard to believe it's been a full decade since Radiohead released (one of) their masterpiece(s) OK Computer. The UK is celebrating the anniversary this week. In the US, the album wasn't released until July 1 (according to Wikipedia - it's not like I know such info off the top of my head.) I'm sure we'll hear more about it in the next couple of weeks.

It's quite a stunning piece of work and was a real watershed moment in the history of guitar music. It has influenced practically everything since. It's not at the top of my playlist, but that's not meant to show disrespect. I prefer The Bends over OK Computer yet I recognize OK Computer to be a more significant contribution, probably Radiohead's most significant contribution.

As you likely know already (because Radiohead can't record a second of material without everybody frantically blogging about it), Radiohead is currently recording the long-awaited follow-up to Hail to the Thief. Keep up to date on official activities in their dead air space.

MP3: Radiohead - Paranoid Android (scroll down via It's Hard to Find a Friend)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Yeah, You're the Shit, But You Won't Be Here For Long

John Mayer hit Des Moines last night and brought along Ben Folds to cheer everybody up. I couldn't didn't really want to go, but here's a summary of the show:

The combination for Monday night's Ben Folds-John Mayer show in front of about 8,000 people at Wells Fargo Arena really was an "Odd Couple" sort of arrangement.

Good Music for Good People

Feeling adventurous? In a characteristically generous move, Not Lame has made 22 not lame tunes available for free download. You are bound to find at least a few gems in here that you've never heard.

It's Up To You, Yeah, You

iTunes has released an exclusive version of Instant Karma: The Campaign to Save Darfur with 11 extra tunes. Download here.


Learn more about what you can do in addition to downloading John Lennon covers here.

It's Time For You To Lose Your Excitement

In a week when all the hip bloggers are likely talking about new releases from Art Brut and the White Stripes, I'm going to focus on a few I'm excited to hear that aren't getting their due.

Polyphonic Spree Fragile ArmyPolyphonic Spree - The Fragile Army
Ok, so the cool kids might like this one too. I've yet to pick it up, but judging from this review, it sounds like their masterpiece. I like the idea of ditching the robes and relishing in the militant spirit of our times, yet keeping the sunshiny symphonics you'd expect from the Spree. Sounds great:

The melodies are far more varied than on previous outings, and the sense of dynamics and balance of tension in these songs -- and the arrangements that accompany them -- are the most sophisticated this group has ever pulled off.
Mandy Moore - Wild HopeMandy Moore Wild Hope
Alright, alright, I know. Mandy Moore. I do admit that her 2003 album of cover songs, Coverage, was one of my favorites at the time. She worked with pop superstars on that one and had choice song selection for the most part. It raised my hopes that she would embrace that power-popster lying beneath her adorably, accessibly hot exterior. From what I've heard of Wild Hope so far, though, is a reversion to the Lilith Fairy frivolity that completely wiped out any edge Sarah McLachlan had in her music. Nonetheless, her bold attempts at shedding her manufactured teeny-pop image both musically and cinematically have earned her a download. Frankly, she had me when she bit her knee. Yeah, not surprised to read this:
Whether on screen or on record, she exudes likeability, so it's easy to listen to Wild Hope with all its flaws - but it's just good enough that it's hard not to wish it was better.
Robert Forster & Grant McLennan - Intermission
Here's a novel collection of solo highlights from the two brains and brawn behind the Go-Betweens, a band that has been on my "learn more about" list for at least a decade now. Embarrassingly, the only piece of music I know well from either of these guys or their highly-revered band is McLennan's Simone & Perry (download here), which incidentally is not in this collection. This personal shortcoming is a travesty, which I will correct in due time.

Lifehouse - Who We Are
Yeah, kidding.

Bon Jovi - Lost Highway
More of that kidding.

Monday, June 18, 2007

It Feels So Right On a Summer's Night

The Changes FloridaIf you're enjoying The Changes Today is Tonight as much as me, you'll be happy to hear that they have a new EP of old tunes. Florida is available via my preferred choice iTunes and it is only available digitally.


1. If I Tried 2. Not Too Serious 3. No One Needs To Know 4. Why Did You Wait So Long? 5. 1984 6. You Want It

To Keep You Satisfied

First Macca, now Ringo. Ringo Starr has signed a deal with Capitol/EMI to release his arguably classic 70s albums online as well as a new compilation Photograph: The Very Best of Ringo Starr on August 28. No word yet on whether any online outlet gets exclusivity. Keep in mind you can already find plenty of Mr. Starkey's material on iTunes.

Also as part of the announcement, a new album called Liverpool 8 will be released in January. Makes me want to dig out Time Takes Time on which he collaborated with Roger Manning and Andy Sturmer of Jellyfish.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Yes! Impossible, Everyone

Frisbie New DebutThis is why this blog exists. The great Chicago power pop tradition continues with the new release by Frisbie called New Debut. Unfortunately, it doesn't hit stores until July 17 so you're going to have to get a taste at theirspace or check out some of their older music at iTunes.

Testimonials about their music from theirspace:

"One of the best, most ambitious pop bands in America." --Salon.com

"One of the strongest pop CDs this year, if not the last several years." --Associated Press

"Those who like their pop music melodic, crisp and refreshingly sincere will be immediately taken with The Subversive Sounds of Love." --Billboard

"Subversive's tunes crawl inside your head and refuse to leave." --VH1.com

"The Power-Pop Album of the year." --Chicago Tribune

Check back here in a month and my guess is that I'll have more on Frisbie.

MP3: Frisbie - New Debut & SFB (scroll down via Harmony In My Ears)

Bye-bye Goodbye I Tried

Ben Folds ExperienceReservations for the Ben Folds Experience went on sale today. If you're in the market for a Carnival cruise next February in Jamaica, and you want to spend some quality time with Mr. Folds, this is for you. Evidently, it's important to book early:

1. Admission to Ben's main theatre show is based on the order in which reservations are placed, so the sooner you book the better spot you'll get to see Ben live!

2. Early booking also gives you the best selection of cabins, including Balcony Suites which are always quick sell-outs.

3. Each guest in any cabin booked prior to July 9, 2007, will be invited to a Question-and-Answer session with Ben during the event!
Enjoy. Wish I could go. Take pictures and send them to me.


Everybody's Crazy 'bout the Wilbury Twist

Traveling WilburysYesterday saw the long-awaited reissue of the classic albums by the Traveling Wilburys (alright, so the first one was classic anyway.) The package comes with bonus tracks and a short documentary. Spiffy.

Read a review here.
Download here.
Purchase here.
Download the extended version of Handle with Care here.

MP3: Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins - Handle with Care (scroll down via Ryan's Smashing Life)

Monday, June 11, 2007

I'm On a High, On a High, There's Nothing More To It

Congratulations to Duncan Sheik. He created the music for the big winner at last night's Tony Awards, Spring Awakening. It won 8 awards, including best musical and best original score. And to think I missed seeing him live at Vaudeville Mews. Frick.

It Hangs in the Air Like a School Cheer

New PornographersYou can always count on a classic indie label to get creative with a new release in a digital world. Rather than bitch and moan about piracy and pull some bullshit knee-jerk DRM crap, Matador is embracing rabid fans' desire to hear it all before official release. The label has introduced Buy Early Get Now for the new New Pornographers Challengers album out officially 8/21. Buy the standard version now for $15ish and you can stream the entire thing now plus a few unreleased MP3s and other random goodies. Even better, buy the executive version for $19ish and get four discs worth of the pure joy that the New Pornos can provide.

The Executive Edition is for the completists because every b-side, every demo, every alternate mix, every video, and every photo associated with the release of 'Challengers' will eventually be made available for download.
Kudos for creativity. Read more at Pitchfork and here, and download the new and brilliant Mey Versus, which was my strange attempt at typing My Rights Versus Yours.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I'm In No Shape To Share My Point of View

Miracle Fortress Five RosesThanks to Paste Magazine's Band of the Week feature, I picked up the new album by Canada's Miracle Fortress called Five Roses, and it's special.

Miracle Fortress is the brainchild of Graham Van Pelt, a Montreal-based multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who in this incarnation builds wall of sound pop songs in the tradition of Brian Wilson and Brian Eno.
What would it sound like if Kevin Shields and Brian Wilson collaborated? Miracle Fortress is my best guess. It is so difficult to create all the textures, noise, and heavy harmonies & melodies found here and do it right. It's not an everyday kind of album, but when it's on, it will be thoroughly enjoyed. Nice find.

Stream here.
Download here.

MP3: Miracle Fortress - Have You Seen In Your Dreams? & Next Train (scroll down via You Ain't No Picasso)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Squeeze the Air and Keep the Rest Out

Nada Surf is hard at work on their next album tentatively titled Time for Plan A, which, speaking of Barsuk, will be released by the label probably early next year.

The set was recorded in February in Seattle with producer John Goodmanson and will likely feature guest appearances from Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard, Juliana Hatfield, Harvey Danger's Sean Nelson and the Long Winters' John Roderick.
Sounds like a smorgasbord of intellectual power-poppers. If half the songs are half as good as Always Love, it'll be a masterpiece.

As an Old Memory

A new documentary about Kurt Cobain will be released later this year. The hook is that it will be in Cobain's own voice pulled from recordings made by the author of the Nirvana book Come As You Are. Reminds me of what they did with John Lennon Imagine years ago to powerful effect.

Naturally, there will be a soundtrack released on September 11 by Barsuk. REM, Ben Gibbard, David Bowie, and others are featured. More details here.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Speak To Me With Your Sweet Voice


While that is meaningless for anybody reading this who isn't from Des Moines, it is quite a significant statement for those of us here. "Des Moines radio sucks." When I was working at KDRK, Drake University's "Best Radio on Television," that was our t-shirt slogan. At the time, KFMG was literally just about the only bright spot in a market overdosing on Eddie Money, Huey Lewis, AC/DC, and oldies. Unless it was a smash hit, no station other than KFMG would play new music. My former station ("my" meaning I worked there) KKDM 107dot5 changed that to some extent. We injected a bit of life into the stale market albeit temporarily. Eventually, as always seems to happen in the post-consolidation world, KFMG went away, KKDM was bought out by - gack - Clear Channel and was promptly switched to Top 40, and Napster and eventually iTunes and satellite radio were my saviors. Still, all that lacked any community perspective.

Now, KFMG lives. It's not the powerhouse it once was, broadcasting at a measly 100 watts from downtown Des Moines, but it's progress in a retro sort of way. I haven't had the opportunity to check out the new KFMG much (at 99.1 FM by the way), but I plan to, and I'm thrilled for Ron and Mark and everybody else who has lived and breathed KFMG as a way of life. Yes, it's meant that much to some people, and it should. This is community radio at it's finest, and you're likely to discover a brilliant new song when you tune in, which is really what it comes down to.

Learn more here.
Contribute here.

Oh God Come Quickly

Wash your sheets. Rilo Kiley's new album Under the Blacklight will be released August 21. Tracklist below courtesy of Pitchfork.

01 Silver Lining
02 Close Call
03 The Moneymaker
04 Breakin' Up
05 Under the Blacklight
06 Dreamworld
07 Dejalo
08 15
09 Smoke Detector
10 The Angels Hung Around
11 Give a Little Love

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Like A Rolling Stone

It's a little known fact that Bob Dylan has written every single hit song in the last 35 years. Really.

Friday, June 01, 2007

It's Getting Better All The Time

I wish the headline were true. George Harrison's widow has said that it will likely be 2008 before the Beatles catalog is online. The good news is that all the albums have been remastered and they're finalizing the physical product. However, there are a "few things to work out" before the music is ready for the digital space. God only knows what that is, but it's pathetic to me that the greatest band of all time has the crappiest sounding CD's and no digital presence. What an incredible wasted opportunity.

Summer Waits in the Leaves

A perfect summer day of music in 2007 (so far):
Wake up to Jason Falkner's solo career highlight I'm Ok ... You're Ok (so far only available in Japan.)
Pump up your late morning with Fountains of Wayne Traffic and Weather.
Keep the pace going with what's shaping up to be a creative peak for Paul McCartney, Memory Almost Full.
God Save The ClienteleWind down on a late, lazy summer afternoon with God Save The Clientele.
Fall asleep to Air's Pocket Symphony.
Note the lack of night party music. Um, yeah, I'm 33 and married with children. My party music is Justin Roberts.

Just picked up God Save The Clientele. What a great listen. Plenty of warmth and lush harmonies that evoke late 60s British invasion, 70s AM radio, the best of the Monkees, a dash of Peter & Gordon, the modern sensibilities of Elliott Smith, the songwriting strength of solo George Harrison, and dareisay a Beatley and Byrdsian vibe throughout.

MP3: The Clientele - Here Comes the Phantom and Bookshop Casanova (via Moroccan Role - scroll down)

It Was 20 40 Years Ago Today

40 years ago today (in the UK, tomorrow for the US) one of the greatest albums of all time was released.

2POPPY UPDATE: The Beatles have launched a special mini-site to commemorate this milestone here full of video, photos, and music. There are also a few limited edition products to buy from the official store as well.