Thursday, January 31, 2008

Des Moines Was Stacking the Chips

More details emerge about Des Moines' planned 80/35 music festival July 4-5 in Gateway Park West downtown. No band names yet, but...

We’re looking at progressive acts under multiple genres – indie-rock, metal, alternative, jam, singer-songwriter, electronic, punk – it will be an eclectic mix.

We’ll have a national headliner both nights with medium-sized acts leading up to the headliners. And regional and local acts filling in between.
Man, I really hope the planners can pull this off.

When I Get Older

Paul McCartney did not have angioplasty last year.

What happened was, over a year ago during a routine medical examination, there was a minor irregularity which I needed to have tests for and which I have now been assured is completely fine. The media have only just recently reported an exaggerated version of this and that is why people have been asking me if I am ok.
Now you know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

You Think There's Not a Lot Going On

It's time to admit a guilty pleasure. Yes, I watch Corner Gas on WGN. Sigh. I'm not happy to admit it. It's a completely innocuous Canadian sitcom that is amusing sometimes and corny most of the time. As one reviewer put it: it's the fall's "best, least objectionable comedy series." What can I say, it comes after Scrubs and it helps me fall asleep.

Northey ValenzuelaSo all day today, the theme song has been running through my head ("You think there's not a lot going on? Look closer, baby, you're so wrong.") It is a delightfully catchy and punchy few seconds of pure power pop. It's good enough to be something authentic and not some tossed-off theme song, right?

Right. And come to find out, it's from a whole album (released almost two years ago) of supposedly similar tunes, which, from the looks of it, leans a bit toward roots rock. Northey Valenzuela is responsible for the joy, and if you're familiar with the Odds and Gin Blossoms, then you know these guys. Craig Northey made some stellar music with his Canadian band the Odds, while Jesse Valenzuela is the source of some of the goodness that came from Gin Blossoms. They decided to get together and make their own album, which is readily unavailable! Well, you can get it used or as an import from, or you can always check eBay, which is where I'm going to get my copy.

I'll let you know how it is as a whole, but in the meantime, you can listen to the theme song to Corner Gas right here (lower right of your screen), and you can watch it after Scrubs on WGN.

Ain't it great when you find a gem where you least expect it? Look closer, baby...

Read more here.
Visit Jesse Valenzuela's website here.

We Gotta Rock the Neighborhood

The Eels are swimming their way across the US this spring. Get it? Swimming. Eels. C'mon, that's high comedy. Maybe you don't get it because you can't hear my tone on the Internet. Swimming...

28 Philadelphia, PA First Unitarian Church
29 Washington, DC Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
31 Boston, MA Somerville Theatre
1 New York, NY Highline Ballroom
2 New York, NY Highline Ballroom
4 Toronto, ONT The Mod
5 Detroit, MI Majestic Theatre
6 Chicago, IL Park West
7 Minneapolis, MN Pantages Theatre
9 Boulder, CO Fox Theatre
11 Seattle, WA Showbox Theatre
13 Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom
14 San Francisco, CA Palace Of Fine Arts
15 16 Los angeles, CA El Rey Theater
More here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Where Is the Road I Follow?

R.E.M. is touring in support of their upcoming album Accelerate. The National and Modest Mouse will open. Dates:

May 23: Vancouver (Deer Lake Park)
May 29: Los Angeles (Hollywood Bowl)
May 31: Berkeley, Calif. (Greek Theatre)
June 3: Morrison, Colo. (Red Rocks)
June 6: Chicago (United Center)
June 8: Toronto (Molson Amphitheatre)
June 10: Raleigh, N.C. (Walnut Creek)
June 11: Columbia, Md. (Merriweather Post Pavilion)
June 13: Mansfield, Mass. (Tweeter Center)
June 14: Wantagh, N.Y. (Jones Beach)
June 18: Philadelphia (Mann Center
June 19: New York (TBA)
June 21: Atlanta (Lakewood Amphitheatre)
Seriously, Des Moines is right between Colorado and Chicago. It'd be a perfect stop.

The Best Things In Life Are Free

Tonight at Midnight a new music service launches. Yawn you say? You've seen them come and go before? No one can loosen Apple's grip on the music download business? Well, think again.

Qtrax is launching with 25 million songs. That's 19 million more than what iTunes has. It includes ringtones, lyrics, album art, videos and more. And the cost? Free. Yep, you heard that right. Download 25 million songs LEGALLY for FREE.

So what's the catch? Well, there are a few. The biggest (at least for me) is probably that the DRM'd music is not compatible with the iPod. They will be tracking how many times a song is downloaded and played. You have to have the Qtrax software installed to download and play. And the music is paid for solely by advertising, something that is generally annoying and a business model that rarely succeeds in the long term (unless you're Google). But they do have Ford Motor Company, Microsoft and some other big gun advertisers so you never know. And I'm sure someone will (illegally) crack the DRM so you can play music wherever you want.

Lastly it's only available on Windoze at first. The Mac OS X version will be out in March.

I'll still download it and give it a whirl.

Update: According to AppleInsider, Qtrax has found a way to make their DRM compatible with iPods.

Update 2 (from 2poppy): According to this AP story, a deal with Warner has not been struck at all, and deals with Universal and EMI are pending final execution. Also:

The company also promises that its music downloads will be playable on Apple Inc.'s iPods and Macintosh computers until April 15. That's unusual, as iPods only playback unrestricted MP3s files or tracks with Apple's proprietary version of DRM, dubbed FairPlay.

In an earlier interview, Klepfisz declined to give specifics on how Qtrax will make its audio files compatible with Apple devices, but noted that "Apple has nothing to do with it."
Sounds like their announcement was a bit premature. We'll see how it all shakes out.

Update 3It's a bust. The service went live last night with all of zero songs, a repackaged music browser and no record deals. Apparently now there are about 10 million songs but downloads are "coming soon". Like when a record deal actually happens? Engadget has more.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Listen Long

Glen Phillips - Secrets of the New ExplorersGlen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket has released a new EP called Secrets of the New Explorers. You can download it here for a measly six bucks.

And that's all I have to say about that.

I'm Still Yawning

Jason Falkner - Bedtime with the BeatlesFor fans of Jason Falkner and the Beatles who happen to have an infant, here is news from the JF mailing list on a new Beatles lullaby album:

Jason has recently finished recording his second bedtime Beatles record for Sony. More newz as I get it!
I always meant to get his first Beatles release, but my kids grew up too fast. I'm sure it's great, though, and I suppose we'd all still enjoy it.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Enjoy Yourself With No Regrets

New details are emerging about R.E.M.'s new album Accelerate and it sounds like it has the potential to be quite memorable, something their last one definitely wasn't.

After two consecutive albums dominated by mid-tempo fare, R.E.M. gets back to its stripped-down, fast-paced rock roots on "Accelerate," due April 1 via Warner Bros. The 11-track set, which gets in and out in a lightning-quick 34 minutes and change, is led by the single "Supernatural Superserious."
Excellent. Can't wait. Full track list:
"Living Well's the Best Revenge"
"Mansized Wreath"
"Supernatural Superserious"
"Hollow Man"
"Until the Day Is Done"
"Mr. Richards"
"Sing for the Submarine"
"Horse To Water"
"I'm Gonna DJ"

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Everything's a Memory with Strings that Tie To You

The AV Club has a great interview with one of my musical idols, Jon Brion.

I'm the luckiest son of a bitch in the world.
That's not the whole interview. You can read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Got To Pay Your Dues

Way to go, Ringo!

"Four minutes (3 minutes and 40 seconds, actually) seemed like an appropriate amount of time for a former Beatle. Mr. Gelman apparently felt Ringo's musical legacy should take a back seat to additional banter about the size of Ms. (Kelly) Ripa's derriere," [Ringo's collaborator Dave Stewart] said in a statement.
More here.

Music Moves My Feet

Liam Finn - I'll Be LightningLiam Finn's I'll Be Lightning is finally released in the states today. Download it here via iTunes. Argh. I have to wait another 6 hours to be done with work so I can download it. Stupid work.

Allmusic is impressed:

Like his dad, Liam has an ear for hooks and a predilection for melodic craft, but he is not only his own man, he is certainly the product of his own generation, raised on classic pop dating back to the Beatles but obsessed with indie singer/songwriters of the '90s, specifically Elliott Smith.
The reviews don't come much better in the world of Too Poppy. His dad is Neil Finn, btw. For the uninitiated, Neil was/is in Split Enz and Crowded House - he obviously knows how to write killer tunes.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Will My Family Remember Me?

I'm not family, but you keep releasing tunes like this and I'll remember you. Stereogum premieres Joseph Arthur's first tune of many in 2008 and it's a good one!

MP3: Joseph Arthur - Rages of Babylon (scroll down via 'gum)

There's So Little Else Occupying My Head

Kaiser Chiefs - Yours Truly, Angry MobA recent purchase for the family (I have received no joy or happiness from this purchase) was Guitar Hero III for the Wii. Of course, it's as fun as everybody says it is. But the one thing I wasn't prepared for was for it to influence my music purchases. I just downloaded Kaiser Chiefs after disregarding the overwhelming coverage on other, much cooler blogs, which, I admit, is ironically too often a turn-off for me. Nevertheless, after "purchasing" the privilege to "perform" Ruby on GHIII, I have to say I was hooked and intrigued. Way2Poppy's comment to me off-line that one song sounded like Grapes of Wrath piqued my interest as well.

So after one listen, I have to say I quite enjoyed it. Although the Grapes of Wrath sound was isolated to one song (as far as I could tell) and Ruby was easily the hookiest tune, the album is otherwise full of catchy britpop tunes that remind me quite a bit of Blur pre-Song 2 (sorry, W2P.) Of course the similarities to the Jam are not lost on me either, but Blur is more of "my generation."

Anyway, NME reports that Kaiser Chiefs are already working to release new material this year. According to drummer Nick Hodgson:

“We want to break the routine of having to make an album every two years. It’s totally boring,” he continued. “In the charts there are tons of indie bands playing chords and singing songs about the weekend. We’re going to be doing the opposite and being the best.”
Man, I "over-quoted" a bit in this post, eh?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It Took Me So Long to Find Out, and I Found Out

Today, the Des Moines Register features the blog Daytrotter, which is based in Davenport, Iowa. I think I've run across Daytrotter in the past but have never kept it on my daily checklist. That may have to change.

Catch bands as their tour vans roll through the Quad Cities and record them performing revamped versions of their own songs or intriguing cover tunes; then give away these exclusive songs online – thereby helping to promote the bands as well as put a friendly, Midwestern face on underground music.
Kudos to fellow Iowans for making good on the promise of the web and the music industry, even in Iowa.

I Sold My Soul for a Second Time

Oasis v. Blur: Is this what it's come to?


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Your Mind Can Wander

It Really Makes Me Wonder

Ever wonder what it would sound like if the early Beatles covered Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven? Check out the pure genius of Australia's The Beatnix:

(Thanks, Tim!)

Gimme Some New Shit

The Eels Useless TrinketsMeet The Eels (best of) and Useless Trinkets (b-sides, et al.) were finally released yesterday.

Read more here. Sample tracks here. Read a review here. Watch a video below.

Download Meet the Eels here. Download Useless Trinkets here.

You're welcome.


That's What I Want

In what sounds pretty shady to me, Billboard reports Fuego Entertainment (aka Echo-Fuego) claims the rights to a Beatles Star Club live show from 1962 that has never been heard.

No release date has been set for the recordings, which the label claims are the first to feature drummer Ringo Starr as part of the group.

Other live Beatles tracks the label says it holds (a claim Billboard was unable to verify) also include "Twist and Shout," "I Saw Her Standing There," "Hippy Hippy Shake," "A Taste of Honey," "Money," and "Ask Me Why," which can be heard in other recorded Beatles performances at the Star Club.
Is this a bootleg recording trying to go legit? The Beatles' lawyers are on it so this may never be released.

Monday, January 14, 2008

But Don't Come Bitchin' To Me

Billy Joel is coming to the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Tax Day, 2008. Hope you get a refund this year because pre-sale tickets will swipe $96 a piece from your wallet. Yikes.

He puts on a great show, though (at least 15 years ago he did.) Tickets for the general public go on sale January 26 at 10am.

Could It Be Worse?

For those of you dying for Fix You Two (blech), rumors are hot and heavy about Coldplay's new album:

'Prospekt' is said to have a running time of 43 minutes and is rumoured to include:
'Famous Old Painters'
'Glass Of Water'
'Cemeteries Of London'
'Violet Hill'
'Poppy Fields'
'Rainy Day'
'Prospekt's March'
Is May 19 (probably 20th here in the states) the release date? Let's hope for a more Yellow thank Fix You vibe.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Than Meets the Eye

Wow. Jellyfish fans, listen very closely to the newly recorded theme song to the Cartoon Network's Transformers Animated series. Now if we could just convince Andy Sturmer that there are enough fans that would absolutely love to hear a full-length solo album from him rather than just flashes of brilliance in things like this.

UPDATE: Download the stereo version MP3 right here while you can.

I Never Let You Down

Ringo Starr Liverpool 8Ringo Starr is releasing a new album on Tuesday called Liverpool 8. The most under-appreciated Beatle actually has a pretty decent solo catalog, and judging from the title song of the new album, I'd say he might have another winner on his hand. In fact, Rolling Stone even deviated from their ubiquitous three-star rating and bumped it up half a star.

Liverpool 8 is a celebration of everything Ringo — his musical wit, his cheer, his commitment to the Sixties ideals of peace and love. has the exclusive video and you can pre-order here.

UPDATE: NY Times weighs in with their own favorable review.

Friday, January 11, 2008

We'll Override the History

Dan Wilson Free LifeDan Wilson - I don't really need to say "of Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic fame" anymore, right? I mean, he has won a Grammy - so, anyway, Dan Wilson of solo fame is heading out on the road as part of the "Hotel Cafe" tour and is hitting a few choice Midwest locales (not Des Moines, sigh), including his hometown of M-Town Minneapolis.

Mar 27, 2008 Mr. Smalls Theatre Pittsburgh, PA
Mar 28, 2008 Park West Chicago, IL

Mar 29, 2008 High Noon Madison, WI

Mar 31, 2008 Fine Line Minneapolis, MN

Apr 1, 2008 Record Bar Kansas City, MO

Apr 3, 2008 Fox Theatre Boulder, CO

Apr 4, 2008 Bluebird Theatre Denver, CO

Apr 5, 2008 Avalon Theatre Salt Lake City, UT
Pre-sale tix here.

I Don't Know Owe You Nothing

2poppy's goals for 2008: "Uh, I dunno. Accomplish something."

Joseph Arthur's goals for 2008:

Arthur is planning to release four EPs and a new studio album this year, all through his own Lonely Astronaut label, with distribution by RED.
Joseph Arthur wins!

The six-song EP Could We Survive comes out March 18.
"Could We Survive," which begins with the anti-war track "Rages of Babylon," has a mix of "bigger production songs and some more lo-fi ones. I like putting those kinds of things together. On a sonic level, it's much more dynamic."
Crazy Rain and Boredom comes out April 15 followed by two more EPs May 13 and June 24. The full-length album All You Need Is Nothing is scheduled for release August 5.

It's an incredibly ambitious release schedule and I applaud him. I hope the quality of the music matches the quantity, but with Arthur, that's a pretty safe bet.

New to Joseph Arthur? I'd personally recommend starting with Come To Where I'm From or Redemption's Son, two outstanding albums.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I'd Be Crazy Not to Follow

Why must Radiohead do everything differently? Instead of announcing the details of their North American tour, they instead announced the cities they'll visit.

Charlotte, N.C.
Los Angeles
New York
San Diego
San Francisco
Santa Barbara, Calif.
St. Louis
Tampa, Fla.
Washington, D.C.
Related, In Rainbows "debuts" at number one on the Billboard chart that Radiohead essentially made irrelevant months ago.
Download here.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

It's Certainly a Thrill

Groovy. Boing Boing shares a video isolating the tracks on The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's. There is much discussion about how professional this is and whether they're from alternate takes and just what the hell sloating is (har har). Regardless, below is the video BB shared and here's a site where you can grab more of the tracks for your bootlegging pleasure. Again, groovy.

Lord Lord

thenewno2 ep001It's not often you get a comment to a post from nearly a year back, but this one is worth sharing. "BleuReivers" informed us that Dhani Harrison's band, thenewno2, now offers it's first EP, brilliantly titled EP001, on iTunes. Evidently, thenewno2 has offered it there since February 1 of last year. I have failed.

Anyway, excellent. Now I know what to spend my xmas gift certificates on.

Download here. Unfortunately, it seems a hard copy is still hard to come by.

It's Gonna Be Beautiful

Wisely's new album is out today. Download here. Tour dates:

1.07.08 The Note, Chicago IL
1.09.08 Living Room, New York NY
1.10.08 P. A.’s Lounge, Boston MA
1.11.08 KISS 94.5FM 6am, WERU-FM 11am, WHSN 89.3 FM 2pm, Eastern ME
1.11.08 Maine Grind Cafe & Coffee Bar, Ellsworth ME
1.12.08 Lums Pond Estates, Bear DE
1.13.08 Concerts at the Beach House, Lansdowne PA
1.14.08 The Red & The Black, Washington DC
1.15.08 Durocher’s, Annandale VA
1.17.08 Lucas School House, St. Louis MO
1.18.08 DuKum Inn, Kirksville MO
1.19.08 The Majestic, Scott City KS
1.20.08 Hi-Dive, Denver CO
1.21.08 Yussman's Charity Ball, Denver CO
1.22.08 The Record Bar, Kansas City KS
1.24.08 Blue Devil Lounge, Menomonie WI
1.25.08 KARE Channel 11 TV, Twin Cities MN
1.25.08 The Wine Thief, ST. Paul MN
1.26.08 Olde Town Creamery, Maple Lake MN
1.30.08 Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco CA
2.01.08 KSCU 103.3FM 5pm, Santa Clara CA
2.02.08 Norman Compound 2pm, Sunnyvale CA
2.05.08 Grand Forks Art Gallery, Grand Forks BC
2.06.08 Sunset Tavern, Seattle WA
2.07.08 Gerding Theater at the Armory, Portland OR
2.08.08 Flying Colors Comics, Concord CA
2.09.08 Old Ironsides, Sacramento CA
2.16.08 Back To The Grind, Riverside CA
2.22.08 El Cid, Los Angeles CA
Wisely has also set up a special website for those of us big fans who'd like to do a little more to get the word out. For example:

Finally, here's a video for Cracked World View:


Friday, January 04, 2008

I Knew True Love and I Knew Passion

Mark Oliver Everett Things The Grandchildren Should Know

"The Kurt Vonnegut of rock" - Rolling Stone
High praise in my opinion. Mark Oliver Everett has written a book called Things the Grandchildren Should Know about his life that sounds likely to make you feel better about yours, yet appreciate the talent behind The Eels.
"E's story is a good example of the way an adverse life in childhood and adolescence shapes an artist, creates eccentricity and ultimately contributes to brilliance. This is one of the best books ever written by a contemporary artist. I learned more about my own business and my own methods by reading this book than I did by reading the life of Chuck Berry, Elvis or David Bowie." - Pete Townshend
Interested? Yeah, me too. Unfortunately, it's not being released in the states until Fall 2008. Come January 17, you can order from if you can't wait. Not familiar with The Eels' music? Shame. Download here.

Starting Out With Nothing But Crippling Doubt

Death Cab for Cutie's new album is due out in May.

To follow its 2005 mainstream breakthrough, "Plans," Death Cab For Cutie opted to record live to analog tape with as few overdubs as possible. The outcome: "a sampling of the most uptempo, upbeat Death Cab songs as well as some of our saddest," bassist Nick Harmer tells Billboard.
Embarrassingly, I do not own a Death Cab album, yet I am familiar with much of their music and count myself as a potential fan. I'd like to rectify this unfortunate situation and start purchasing past releases. Any recommendations on where to start?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Write Des Moines on Several Matters

Attention Iowa bands:

The Greater Des Moines Music Coalition released the following request via TheirSpace:

The Greater Des Moines Music Coalition is seeking Iowa bands to play at the 3rd annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on March 29th, 2008 in Des Moines.

In the two years GDP has taken place, it's created an enthusiastic following of indie music lovers from across the state. This year's GDP looks to be no different. We're looking for 8-10 acts from indie to punk to play on two stages. The first two GDP's featured acts such as The Envy Corps, Poison Control Center, General Sherman, and more.

Professional, hard-working bands interested in performing at this year's GDP are encouraged to send information or EPK's to or mail press kits and demos to DMMC PO Box 41490 Des Moines, IA 50311. Include information about your most recent or upcoming projects, tours, and shows.
Good luck.

In My Mind My Dreams Are Real

Liam, Ian, Andy, Peter, and Mani, oh my.

I Have It All Here

You likely know Radiohead's In Rainbows was released 1/1/08, but did you know that it marks the band's first appearance on iTunes?

Download here.

And if you're old-schooling it with craptastic plastic and paper, Pitchfork shows you how to create your own album cover for In Rainbows.

Finally, Thom, uh, no.


R.E.M.'s new album will be called Accelerate and will be released on April 1, no foolin'.

Mostly gone is the drowsy vibe of 2004's "Around the Sun," with "Living Well Is the Best Revenge," "Horse to Water," "Aftermath" and "Until the Day Is Done" recapturing the old R.E.M. energy. "It's not like we're going to pretend these are ballads. These are rockers," Downs says.
Sweet. Around the Sun was such a draaaaaaaaggggggg.