I first heard "Dog Days Are Over" by Florence and the Machine while watching the third season of Skins on Youtube a few months ago. (The 3rd season should air here in the States on BBC America this summer, if anyone's interested...but don't expect it to be at the same level as the first two seasons.) Then I started noticing mentions of Florence and the Machine everywhere. The band, fronted by Florence Welch, has released just two limited singles to critical acclaim in the UK and US, but their debut album, Lungs, will be released July 6.
If you have a fear of carnies/clowns/having glitter thrown in your face, I wouldn't suggest watching the video for this song.
Greetings, dear readers, and we thank those of you who have checked our page EVERY DAY since March hoping for an update of some sort. Those who are patient and persistent will received blessed rewards.
Okay, so I don't really know if that's true, but I just opened a fortune cookie, and that's what IT told me. Who am I to be a doubting Thomas? I shall believe dogmatically in the veracity of my fortune cookie. DOGMATICALLY, I TELL YOU. I can just imagine some wise, whited-beared, ancient sage stuffing the tiny rectangular page into the cookie himself!
Moving onward and upward, here's where we tell you that Red Blondehead has become a bi-yearly publication, meaning of course that we e-publish something twice a year. What that means for you is that you'll only have stuff to read if we really, really think a band is worthy of your attention.
That's where MEGAFAUN come in.
Megafaun is a Raleigh/Durham, NC-based band close to our hearts, close indeed. They won us over in September of 2007 when they came to Birmingham and entertained us with their three-part harmonies and their countrified, half-dark, half-playful gospel tunes before hopping onstage with Akron/Family and holding their own with Brooklyn's famed 'Family. We've been hooked ever since, especially since the recent release of Bury the Square.
Here are two of the tracks from that release as well as a video of the 'Fauns performing "Lazy Suicide" and talking about their music. If you like it, you can pick up Bury the Square from spun.com. Also, plan to come out and hear them play in Birmingham for the second time on Thursday, June 26th. They'll be performing with Birmingham's Sworn Enemies, another folkish band that has picked up a following in our fair city.
The Dodos are playing tonight at Bottletree and both Leah and Jackson the Fantastic Bear are super excited about seeing them. So excited that they are spending the day dreaming about how great the show is going to be instead of posting a blog about the band in an effort to spread the good word. Leaving me to post songs and encourage you to come out tonight, even though I did not return from SXSW raving about The Dodos after seeing them twice like a certain (blonde) person did. That's not to say that I wouldn't have returned home singing their praises...if I had actually been able to go to SXSW this year. Does my skin look a little green to you? At least green works with red and purple.
I can't stop listening to these MGMT tracks. They're so synthtastic and delicious...and they make me feel like I should be skating around a roller disco to fully appreciate their Prince-meets-Bee Gees charm. I like almost all of Oracular Spectacular but I can't resist looping "Electric Feel" and "Kids" over and over..and over.
Dirty clothes, fast food, cramped vans, sweaty bandmates that get super annoying, the promise of anywhere from $25 to $500 (most likely the former) to get you to the next city: all of these things make us feel bad for indie bands getting their start in the US. They endure these unpleasant conditions--not to mention having to play some of the most awful clubs imaginable--in city after city as they drive through unfamiliar cities and desolate badlands.
Every now and then, though, a band or group comes around that makes us question the hardships of these often-from-Brooklyn indie bands making their own way. One such group is Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, a West African reggae/hip-hop/Afro-pop group that formed in the squalid and often unsanitary conditions of an honest-to-god refugee camp in Guinea. Like countless other refugees, band members lost wives, were separated from parents, had limbs amputated by rebels--indeed, one member featured in the documentary film was forced to kill his own child before having rebels cut off part of his arm--and were forced to flee from the home most of them had known their whole lives.
And somehow, in the midst of the refugee camps, the musicians found their voice again and began playing to heal. Soon, they were playing to heal others. Documentary footage shows downtrodden refugees smiling and dancing at the sounds made by the all-stars on their second- and third-hand instruments and sound equipment. It wasn't long before the UN invited the musicians to return to their own country--to "look and see" the changes and, most importantly for the band, to record their record to share with the world.
As a result of that trip, we have the Refugee's first album, Living Like a Refugee, released in the US on Anti- Records. As an extended result, the band has gotten the opportunity to tour around the US to share their musical message of love and peace to the thousands who hear them play.
Finally, we have a chance to hear them in Birmingham this weekend. The All Stars will be performing at the Carver Theatre this Sunday night, January 27, at 8:00 p.m. It's rare to have such an opportunity in Birmingham, so we hope to see you all there tomorrow night!
For a taste, here are some songs from the band's 2006 release, Living Like a Refugee:
Hello, Blue Roses released The Portrait Is Finished And I Have Failed To Capture Your Beauty... yesterday. Like most Dan Bejar projects (this time with vocalist/flautist Sydney Vermont), it's growing on me. I've listened to "Sunny Skies" several times just trying to think of what other song it reminded me of, until I realized it was "This Woman's Work." Am I the only one that hears it?
Headlights is one of my favorite pop bands, so I'm greatly anticipating the release of their next album, Some Racing, Some Stopping on February 19. Their label has released their first single for our listening pleasure, and here it is in all its sweetly jangly bliss. Headlights - Cherry Tulips
All the usual year-end favorites list disclaimers apply to this list: I've arranged this list several times, ranking is somewhat random past the first few albums, ranking varies depending on mood and time of day, please do not consume ranking on an empty stomach. There are a few debut albums on my list, but most are from familiar names.
Honorable mentions: Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter The Shins - Wincing The Night Away Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank Field Music - Tones of Town Eleni Mandell - Miracle of Five Through the Sparks - Lazarus Beach
Red Blondehead presents: Jackson the Fantastic Bear's 2007 Top 10 (x 2) - straight from his honey-encrusted claws to your computer screens!
When Traci asked me if I wanted to do a write-up of my favorite albums of 2007, I didn’t even know where to start. I have listened to so much music this year that I couldn’t even remember what was released this year, let alone how much I liked it. So I did what needed to be done… I sorted my music by year, pulled out all the music from 2007, and listened to every single album again. So if the Red Blondehead ladies were wondering why the hell my list was taking so long, that’s why.
After my listening fest, I found myself split between a number of amazing pop records and an even longer list of experimental/electronic/noise/ambient music. I mean, how can you compare Jens Lekman with Boris? You just can’t. No way, no how. So, I made it easy on myself and made two lists that were, nonetheless, just as hard to narrow down.
It's that time of year again: drunk Santas, reindeer, presents, decorated trees, best-of lists... I'm happy to go first on that last item!
I've got ten favorite albums this year. There were many to choose from, but the way I look at it, the smaller the list, the more prestigious. Or at least rare. I'm going with that, anyway. I tried to choose albums from this year that I'll most definitely be listening to next year (and hopefully beyond that if they hold up as well as others have).
10. CocoRosie - The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn 9. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova - Once soundtrack 8. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky 7. Levon Helm - Dirt Farmer 6. The Roadside Graves - No One Will Know Where You've Been 5. Akron/Family - Love is Simple 4. Through the Sparks - Lazarus Beach 3. Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter 2. The Real Tuesday Weld - The London Book of the Dead 1. The Felice Brothers - Adventures of the Felice Brothers Vol. I
Looking back, I've posted mp3s from most of these albums. Here's a few from the list that were overlooked, though. Oh, and Happy Holidays to you all!
Wow, it's been a real ghost town around here lately, hasn't it? I had to fight off a dust bunny of gargantuan proportions while tumbleweeds were hot on my heels just to get to the ol' RB. Allow me to dust off the cobwebs and share two albums that I've been enjoying since they were released in early October.
In his most recent album Night Falls Over Kortedala, Jens Lekman swings from orchestral pop, soul, and disco to doo wop and African rhythms, without ever losing his inherent wit and romanticism. It's the romanticism of everyday life, the observance of small moments that are so often overlooked: a haircut, fumbling over words because someone makes you nervous, a heartbeat "beating like Ringo." And somehow Jens makes a story about cutting off the tip of his index finger and bleeding all over the sink because he was surprised by a stealth hug while chopping an avocado sound like one of the sweetest things you've ever heard in "Your Arms Around Me."
And then there's my new favorite band-with-a-name-likely-to-confuse-people-if-heard-instead-of-read: Prints.
"What music are you playing?" "Prints." "Wha? That's not my favorite funky 5'2" Purple One!"
While not the product of Minnesota's finest, Prints is the result of Zac Nelson (Who's Your Favorite Sun God) and Kenseth Thibideau (Sleeping People, Pinback) self-recording their brand of eclectic pop in their homes.
How awfully kind of you to inquire, dears. This fearsome, firesome duo will be spending the evening at Workplay--in costume, might I add--enjoying performances by Eric Bachmann and current RB favorite Josh Ritter. That's at 8:00 p.m.
Later on that night, Laser's Edge in Homewood, RB's very favorite indie record store, is hosting a supercool Josh Ritter afterparty. Here are the details for that:
What: Post-concert in-store performance/recording and Halloween party Who: JOSH RITTER and you Where: Laser's Edge Compact Discs. You know how to get here. How: Bring your Workplay ticket stub or wrist band or stamped hand to the store, along with some semblance of a Halloween costume for admittance. Those who come dressed without Halloween garb may be forced to wear something of our choosing...cardboard box hats dressed-up with Sharpie art and two holes for eyes are a distinct possibility. When: Halloween night, around 11:00 pm, immediately following Josh's concert at Workplay What Else: A GuessTheCharacterFromAPopularSong costume contest, special prizes, refreshments, merry fellowship
Also, many of our costumed peeps will be heading to BottleTree to catch a FREE and freely spectacular show featuring Celebration, Dragons of Zynth, and Lonesome Spirit Device. LOTS to do on Halloween night, kids, so don't stay in and sulk. Put on a goofy-spooky costume and join the thousand eyes of the night!
Now, for a couple of my favorite Josh Ritter songs, just to get you in the mood!
It is my opinion that Stars is worth driving over 2 hours to see, which is exactly what I did on Saturday when they played the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta. I haven't seen them live since the fall of 2005 when they opened for Death Cab at the Tabernacle (also on the Saturday before Halloween). At that time they didn't seem to be very well-known among the showgoers in my general vicinity, but quite a few people were buzzing after their performance. They've certainly become more well-known in the past 2 years, so I was expecting a good turnout for their return to Atlanta. I guess the band wasn't because they expressed their surprise that so many people showed up in a city where they only know 2 people.
Magnet opened and he played a pretty good set but talked too much. I didn't count how many songs he played but it felt like he only played 5 because of his stage patter. I would have been happy to listen to his charming Norwegian accent if he had been the co-headliner but when you're the opener, it's time to get down to business. He also asked for audience participation on practically every song, which was a little annoying.
After a short break, Stars took the stage (which was covered in flowers and artwork) to begin their energetic performance. I don't see how anyone could have left the venue unhappy with their Stars experience because the band's joy in performing is so contagious. Some highlights included the band throwing flowers into the crowd every few minutes, Torq coming on stage in a light-covered coat during "The Ghost of Genova Heights," a lovely version of "Look Up" (which was the song that introduced me to the band in 2003), Amy Millan diving into the crowd, "Elevator Love Song" and "On Peak Hill." I wish that they had played more than one Nightsongs selection and "My Favourite Book" from In the Bedroom, but those are small grievances. It was a fantastic show.
The setlist to the best of my memory:
Take Me to the Riot Set Yourself on Fire Elevator Love Song Ghost of Genova Heights Bitches in Tokyo One More Night Personal Look Up Soft Revolution Midnight Coward Window Bird Your Ex-Lover is Dead Reunion Sleep Tonight What I'm Trying to Say Ageless Beauty In Our Bedroom After the War
There's not been much time for blogging recently with my returning from vacation this week and Leah leaving for one. But I brought you souvenirs from Montreal and L.A. and Brooklyn (and Jersey, whoo! how exotic) to show you how much I missed you!
I planned to post about Los Campesinos! yesterday but then this fantastically awesome Gawker post and its comments pretty much ruined my productivity for the whole day. (You must click on the link. A coworker and I would randomly break into giggles throughout the day yesterday just thinking about it.)
If I ran a record label, it would be Arts & Crafts. Their taste in pop acts is right in line with my own. And they continued the trend by signing 7-member band Los Campesinos! and releasing their debut EP, Sticking Fingers Into Sockets back in July. They sound like early Architecture in Helsinki, but with less Vegemite (they're from Wales instead of Australia).
Tomorrow night, Red Blondehead presents !!! with The Field at Bottletree for what should be a fun night of electro-dance-punk music. And you know how we like to give away things so the first 30 ticketholders through the door will receive a token of our appreciation. Please spazz-dance responsibly!
A friend and I caught The Felice Brothers at AA Bondy's CD release party of American Hearts a few weeks ago in Birmingham. I dug up some of their music online (it was initially pretty difficult to find) and loved every second of it, and Scott... er... AA Bondy has good tastes in opening acts.
Good taste in brothers-in-law, too, apparently. The Felice Brothers, hailing from New York state, are the rough-and-tumble brothers of Bondy's lovely missus; they were opening for Bondy, but I'll be damned if they didn't near steal the show.
Five minutes into their set, my friend and I were dancing up a storm and laughing like crazy; the brothers were having just about as much fun as any band I've ever seen. Where did these guys come from? That's what I wanted to know. Soon, others around the country will be asking the same question. An upcoming US tour with Bright Eyes has been announced, and the brothers have also landed an enviable gig with Levon Helm and his Midnight Ramblers. This shouldn't be surprising, as comparisons to Bob Dylan and The Band have been irresistible for reviewers who have listened to these guys:
“Singers of ragged and lovely Catskills harmonies, rickety gospel backporch jams, 19th century medicine show charmers, cheap suit rhapsodizers, watchers of the Nashville skyline, part-time residents and always-welcome houseguests at Big Pink, students of Bob Dylan and Levon Helm, the Partridge Family in pinstripes and scruffy beards.” -stolen from songs:illinois, stolen from Gabe Soria of Vice Magazine
Wed-Oct-10 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom (supporting Jason Isbell) Sat-Oct-13 Woodstock, NY Woodstock Film Festival Sat-Oct-27 Woodstock, NY Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble
With Bright Eyes:
Tue-Nov-06 Memphis, TN Orpheum Theatre Wed-Nov-07 Birmingham, AL Alabama Theatre Thu-Nov-08 Charleston, SC The Plex Fri-Nov-09 Winston Salem, NC Millennium Center Sat-Nov-10 Norfolk, VA The NorVA Sun-Nov-11 Washington, DC DAR Constitution Hall Mon-Nov-12 Wilmington, DE Grand Opera House Wed-Nov-14 Binghamton, NY Magic City Music Hall Thu-Nov-15 Rochester, NY Main Street Armory Fri-Nov-16 Portsmouth, NH The Music Hall Sat-Nov-17 Providence, RI Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel Sun-Nov-18 Worcester, MA Palladium
Finally, the songs, the songs! These are from The Adventures of the Felice Brothers Vol. I:
I was excited to see Biirdie's second album, Catherine Avenue, in my inbox last week because I was a fan of of their last album, Morning Kills the Dark. It looks like Biirdie decided to follow up Morning's "Open Letter to Jenny" (their ode to Jenny Lewis) with a tribute song to Estelle Getty. Well, actually I'm not sure if "Estelle" is really about her, but it should be if it isn't. Because she is awesome and we need more songs in this world written in her honor. In fact, I think I will begin to compose a concept album about Sophia, Rose, Blanche, and Dorothy as soon as I finish this blog.
But back to Catherine Avenue for a moment. Team Clermont describes the album as a collection of "sweeping anthems told in California semi-gloss, with twinges of West Coast Country and big-hearted Southern balladry" and this is an apt description.
The mp3's available here are for sampling purposes only. Please support your favorite artists by purchasing their music. If you are a band or label and you have a complaint about your music being featured on Red Blondehead, please contact us directly and we will remove it immediately.