Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Lylas - Lessons for Lovers

I received a copy of the upcoming Lylas release, Lessons for Lovers a few days ago and I have been enjoying it immensely since then. For those of you unfamiliar with this band, a short introduction courtesy of The Nashville Scene:

"The Nashville-based band, which includes pedal steel, theremin, piano and cello, build simple arrangements for the macabre, chamber pop originals of singer-guitarist Kyle Hamlett, whose delicate melodies and thematic lyrics suggest the soundtrack to a musical written by Ray Davies and Morrissey."

There are melancholy and eerie undertones throughout Lessons for Lovers...a few songs sound like they could have been written by a Victorian gentleman whose unrequited love is dying from consumption. I could easily imagine Edgar Allen Poe or Victor from Tim Burton's Corpse Bride listening to songs like "Virgin Annie," "Teenage Phantasm," and "Twice on Sunday." That's not to say that Lessons for Lovers is all doom and gloom, a sense of innocence also runs through the album. References to roller skating, birthday cake, and happy holidays can be found alongside laments of sickness and mortality. It makes me think of a childhood version of "The Mask of the Red Death" where the narrator discovers that Death is an unexpected guest at his slumber party and that the Grim Reaper bakes delicous cookies, plays an excellent game of parcheesi, and tells great ghost stories.

Here are two of my favorite songs from the album.
Lylas - Summer in a Sweater
Lylas - Years and Years

You can find more Lylas music at their myspace page:

Friday, March 24, 2006

Phoenix's New Single

Phoenix is a French band that gained popularity after Sofia Coppola included them on the soundtrack to Lost in Translation. This is only appropriate, for many of their songs sound like they were written with the purpose of being included in a movie or Target commercial. (That shouldn't be read as an insult, I loves me some Target and their commercials.) Their sound is a mix of 80's dancepop, classic R&B, and rock. For all you Air fans, Phoenix's singer Thomas Mars sang on Air's "Playground Love."

French + 80's pop + sounds like Target commercial + Air connection = Phoenix = Me likey

"Long Distance Call" is the first single from It's Never Been Like That, which has a May release date. This song has rapidly grown on me after a few listens. At first the repetition of "It's never been like that" in the chorus bugged me a little but now I like it. Especially when Mars sings "NO!" after repeating it 8 times.

Phoenix - Long Distance Call

And just for good measure, a song from their last album Alphabetical. "Everything is Everything" is one of my favorite catchy pop songs.
Phoenix - Everything is Everything

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Stone Jack Jones

RB met Stone Jack Jones at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville at a Sufjan Stevens show. When we were introduced to him, he seemed like a nice fella, very polite, etc. We didn't think too much more about him.

When we got home and I downloaded the creepy, railroad-ride-to-hell song "Johnny Boy" and observed a photo of Mr. Stone Jack Jones looking like a modern day grim reaper in a foreboding, black cowboy hat, I became a little more interested. Late last month, the band released their new album, Bluefolk, which is indescribably haunting and quite unforgettable. I can't quit listening. I bet you like it, too.

Stone Jack Jones - Smile
Stone Jack Jones - Evermore

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Wilco's folky Ryman setlist

Here's a setlist from the Wilco show in Nashville Friday night. Note the intial, heavy emphasis on Being There/Mermaid Avenue material:

1. Sunken Treasure
2. Remember the Mountain Bed
3. Airline to Heaven
4. At My Window Sad & Lonely
5. Forget the Flowers
6. Roses Bloom Again
7. California Stars
8. Muzzle of Bees
9. Hell is Chrome
10. Spiders (kidsmoke)
11. Jesus, etc.
12. Walken (new song)
13. Handshake Drugs
14. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
15. A Shot in the Arm
16. At Least That's What You Said
17. Late Greats

Encore 1
Either Way (new songs)
I'm the Man Who Loves You

Encore 2
Passenger Side
War on War

Encore 3
Acuff Rose (Jeff solo, mic-less)

I'm not crazy about the self-proclaimed "fun," "non-arty" new songs, as the lyrics kinda suck and that's one thing Tweedy's always been good at. "Acuff-Rose" was lovely, though. In the past two years or so, we've all gotten used to seeing Tweedy noodling on his guitar and just generally rocking out, but part of me would love to get a view of him as a scrappy little pup on bass playing sideshow to Jay Farrar's moody brooding (a.k.a. Uncle Tupelo).

For "Acuff-Rose," though, which was played as a third encore, Tweedy came out solo with an acoustic guitar, stepped in front of the mic, and said "I just wanna play this song the way it was meant to be played." One girl filmed this performance and posted it; it's good enough for seeing and hearing, although it's pretty shaky. It's the closest thing to being there if you didn't go, so enjoy.


Friday, March 17, 2006

Wilco crazy on St. Patty's Day

Today is a very special day, dear loved ones. Red Blondehead is taking off to Nashville to catch Wilco's sold-out show at the Ryman. Even though there aren't many new tracks floating around out there, I did some digging in dusty corners of my music collection to come up with some very special promo/B-side/live Wilco tracks for your perusal and enjoyment:

Wilco - The T.B. is Whipping Me
This non-album recording featuring Syd Straw comes from a country music AIDS benefit album. It hasn't been performed live since a 1994 Lounge Ax performance, and that was a loooong time ago, as in pre-A.M. At this point in time, everybody was thinking Jay Farrar would be the one to survive and "make it" after the Uncle Tupelo breakup.

Wilco - Promising
This is one of my favorite non-album Wilco tracks. It appears on the soundtrack for Chelsea Walls, which Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche put together for director Ethan Hawke. The song has been around since 1994, though, and has been performed by Tweedy (solo) as recently as January of this year. It's a soft, pretty folk song. It's nice to come back to after hearing all the bleepy-bloppy, fancy stuff the band's been up to in recent years.

Wilco - When the Roses Bloom Again
Originally thought to be written by Woody Guthrie (the lyrics, only), this song was originally slated to appear on Mermaid Avenue II, the second record put together by Wilco and Billy Bragg that featured archival lyrics released to both bands by Guthrie's daughter Nora. Alas, despite the charm of this folky, haunting shuffle, it was discovered that the lyrics were in fact written by Will Cobb and Gus Edwards, two other popular songwriters from that period. It now appears on both the Chelsea Walls soundtrack and The Oxford American Southern Sampler.

Wilco - I Shall be Released
This cover of Bob Dylan's original has been performed by many, many bands, most notably the object of my ongoing obsession--The Band. This version is a live track performed by Wilco on my birthday last year, the 6.28.05 show in Quebec.

Toodles, y'all. Kiss somebody Irish, and put on something green, lest you get pinched!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Fearless Freaks

I got excited today when I was thinking about coming home and posting Flaming Lips goodness from their upcoming release At War with the Mystics for our three lovely, regular readers. When I realized, however, that the Lips are on a major label, I sank into a deep state of depression, cried for an hour straight, took an unnecessarily long nap, ate an entire box of chocolate, and resigned myself to the fact that I just can't do it. We here at Red Blondehead like to scoff at The Man, but when it comes down to it, we don't have to walk on the sidewalk. The street and puddles, you say, Mr. Man? As you wish, you can have the sidewalk all to yourself.

The single and first track of the record "Yeah Yeah Yeah," however, has already been released to radio. In fact, you may have heard it. If you like good music and are somewhat snobbish, you might also be perturbed by the fact that it is being played between Gwen Stefani's latest P-Diddyish rip off and STAIND's latest "look what mommy done to me" tortured, corporate rock song.

I digress. If you haven't heard "Yeah Yeah Yeah," you can listen to that here.

After having listened to the whole record, I have to say I'm underwhelmed. I think it's not as interesting as Yoshimi and, well, to be honest, some of the songs just get on my damn nerves. I hope you feel differently, if for no other reason that Wayne Coyne is the sexiest man alive and he lives in his childhood 'hood still, despite acheiving notable success.

As an extra, I had to include two tracks you may or may not have heard from the 2004 soundtrack to Spongebob Squarepants. One is the very fun, trippy Lips' song:
The Flaming Lips - SpongeBob & Patrick Confront the Pyschic Wall of Energy,
and the other is a Wilco cover,
The Flaming Lips - Just a Kid.
The Wilco song is kindof a B-sides typical rocker, but I think "...Psychic Wall..." is a classically playful Lips song. This soundtrack is available on Sire Records, a lovely indie. Enjoy.

Wayne Coyne. Enjoy. Yum.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ambulance LTD - New English EP

Ambulance LTD releases their New English EP today. It features seven songs in all -two new tracks, a cover of Pink Floyd's "Fearless," demos, and a couple of rarities. Truth be told, I've never given Pink Floyd much of a shot as this guy I met at a party a few weeks ago found out when he was yammering on and on about them and I had no reply. That guy was kinda a tool and it seems like whenever I meet guys who won't shut up about Pink Floyd, they have a tendency towards toolishness. (No offense to any Floyd fans reading this, I know you are not a tool!) But anyways, I'm looking forward to hearing Ambulance's take on Pink Floyd.

Track listing
1. New English (new song)
2. Arbuckle (new song)
3. Fearless (Pink Floyd cover)
4. Heavy Lifting (original 8 track acoustic demo)
5. Sugar Pill (original demo)
6. Country Gentleman (from the Startime International compilation)
7. Straight A's (hidden UK Lp track)

I think that Ambulance played "Country Gentleman" when I saw them in London last year at the Electric Ballroom. I really love "New English"'s a toe-tapping, bluesy number.

Ambulance LTD - New English

Monday, March 13, 2006

Belle & Sebastian with New Pornographers at the Ryman

I had the pleasure of my first live Belle & Sebastian and The New Pornographers experience at the Ryman a few days ago. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, but I will probably fail to translate that into words since this is my first attempt at a concert review/recap. So don’t expect any fancy critic-type made-up terms. Here goes...

I entered the venue right as The New Pornographers started their hour-long set and found my seat during the first song. It was a great seat (15th row on the floor) to be bought the week before the show with a clear view of the whole stage. The sound quality for the New Pornos was not very was especially noticeable when Carl Newman talked to the audience. His audience patter was almost unintelligible. Kathryn Calder took over Neko Case's duties while she tours as a solo act, so the songs that were more reliant on Neko’s voice were not played. People were still streaming in during the whole set while the punctual were sitting down for the most part. However, during one song, this tall guy around the fifth row stood up and lifted his arms to the sky, like he had suddenly became Pentecostal. He stood like this for most of the song until he started punching his fists upward victoriously. The song ended and he sat down. Must have been his favorite song. Here’s what I remember of the set.

Twin Cinema
Use It
July Jones
The Jessica Numbers
The Bones of an Idol
The Bleeding Heart Show
Sing Me Spanish Techno
Stacked Crooked

While the roadies were setting up for Belle & Sebastian, I found some Nashville Friends of Red Blondehead – Kyle, Karen, and Josh. I asked Kyle how this New Pornographers set compared to their Mercy Lounge one a few months ago and he declared the Mercy Lounge set to be far superior.

Belle & Sebastian took the stage around 9:00. The sound quality was markedly improved from the opener. The band interacted with the audience a great deal with crowd-pleasing antics and Stuart Murdoch was quite the charismatic frontman. At one point in the show he asked, “How many of you drove from someplace other than Nashville?” (or something like that) and many people yelled out where they had driven from (the girls next to me were from Atlanta). Then he asked, “Is there anyone from Alabama?” and I yelled "Wooooo!" and took it as a personal shout-out even though there were several other Alabamians there. The audience was entertaining to was a little like watching the dancing kids in a Charlie Brown movie. For example, a guy in front of me was leaning forward onto the pew in front of him and swinging his booty to each side while running in place. He did this for almost a whole song but towards the end he tired and resorted to marching in place. And the Atlanta girls were jumping energetically while flailing their arms up and down. Towards the end of the show, Stu saw a girl in the balcony that was wearing a tutu, jeans, tube top, and trucker hat and called her out about her unusual fashion ensemble (and insinuated that she had been making out with some guy that was according to her “a friend I haven’t seen in a long time”).

The State That I Am In
Another Sunny Day
You Made Me Forget My Dreams
Sukie in the Graveyard
Be Myself Completely
Electric Renaissance
– Stuart and Stevie did some entertaining dance moves during this song. The latter with some sort of kazoo-type instrument.
The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner
We are the Sleepyheads
Piazza, New York Catcher
Simple Things
Funny Little Frog
I Don't Love Anyone
Your Cover’s Blown
– Before this song, Stuart was talking about how someone in the audience had a friend that couldn’t make it to the show (I think the guy had interviewed him). So Stuart brought the guy on the stage so that he could call his friend. The friend couldn’t come because he didn’t have a car, which surprised Stu… “I thought everyone in America had a car!” Then the band sang “Your Cover’s Blown” in honor of him.
Lost Highway - Stevie sang a cover of this Hank Williams song to commemorate playing the Ryman. Later on, Stevie took pictures of the crowd and had an audience member take his picture on stage (smiling and holding a beer) to send to his country music-lovin’ parents.
Like Dylan In The Movies
I Am a Cuckoo
– Stuart brought a girl onto the stage to dance with him. She started out shyly but then cut loose and was dancing all up on the band members. Stuart remarks, “And you thought she was shy!” as she leaves the stage.
The Wrong Girl
If You Find Yourself Caught In Love
Get Me Away From Here I Am Dying

White Collar Boy

They took requests for the last song. The suggestions "This is Just a Modern Rock Song" and "Jonathan David" were ultimately rejected for….
Judy And The Dream Of Horses

All in all, the show was everything I wanted it to be and more. It was a night of giddy, joyful music…definitely worth the 3 hour drive. If you missed it or even if you didn’t, NPR has posted the whole D.C. show for download. It isn’t the same setlist, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Belle & Sebastian with New Pornographers in D.C.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Josh Rouse

I remember when Josh Rouse's Nashville came out last year, and I remember not listening to it despite all the praise it received from critics and friends. The song "Directions" that Cameron Crowe used in Vanilla Sky was pretty good for a slightly up-tempo pop song, although I am not inclined to listen to it very often.

I've now wandered through Rouse's 3.21 release Subtitulo; it came in a box full of promos as one of only two bands whose names I actually recgonized. As it was playing, I kinda forgot it was playing, which I guess means that Crowe and Nancy Wilson were perceptive in thinking his songs make for good movie music. I'm not sure this is a good thing for me, as I'm not making movies anytime soon.

I read somewhere that Rouse has proclaimed that after this record he will make a rock record. I say he shoulda gone and done that this time, but that's just me. You can decide for yourself. Here is the first single from the record, "Quiet Town," along with "Jersey Clowns," which sounds like a pleasant song I've heard before. Can't remember which.

Josh Rouse - Quiet Town
Josh Rouse - Jersey Clowns

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

yet another retrospective

Since Traci started the week with retrospectivityness, I'm going to continue the trend. Year-end lists are ready by the beginning of December most years and favorites are hastily chosen, yet there's always that one record (and if we admit it, dozens of records) that got away.

I don't know how much value you, faithful readers, place on critic year-end lists. Me? Not much. I hurry up and read them, get mad for whatever records were left off that SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN LEFT OFF, DAMMIT, ahem..., and then go back to listening to whatever I was listening to before. Two of my 2005 favorites actually made several lists, although the general music fan populace beyond critical circles never seemed to have heard them or heard of them, for that matter.

Ima share two of those favorites with you: one song from lap-pop favorite Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet, and two from Akron/Family's split LP with Angels of Light.

Here's what is probably the most accessible track from Four Tet's Everything Ecstatic, the appropriately named "Smile Around the Face."
Four Tet - Smile Around the Face.
Tell me it doesn't make you wanna.

Now, two very different yet equally awesome tracks from the Akron/Family & Angels of Light LP,
Akron/Family & Angels of Light - Awake and Akron/Family & Angels of Light - Raising the Sparks,
a freak-folk funfest (indeed).

Enjoy, or, Re-joyce, if you've already heard.

Russian Futurists

I was almost certain that I had posted about Russian Futurists before. However, after digging through our archives, I couldn't find anything about the band so now I must correct this most grieveous oversight.

Despite the plural band name, Russian Futurists in one guy. Matthew Hart uses a drum machine, toy keyboards, and synth string sections to craft happy, sweet little pop songs in his bedroom. Those of you that know me are aware of my love of The Synth, so last year's Our Thickness is a big sloppy kiss from Russian Futurists to me. And now I will pass this big smooch on to you, but don't think of it as sloppy seconds. Here, have a breath mint.

Russian Futurists - Paul Simon
Russian Futurists - Hurtin' 4 Certain
Russian Futurists - 2 Dots on a Map

I keep going back to "2 Dots on a Map" with its chorus straight out of the seventies. The singers coo, "No one ever loves me like youuu..." and I can't help but smile. Then Matthew Hart comes in with the verses over a spare beat and the song goes from being a saccharine seventies prom song to a minimalist slow jam.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Mmmm's....

I know little about the M's; what I do know: they hail from Chicago, they have toured with Wilco, this is their second CD ever, and they rock. They rock in the kind of way that makes girls underpants mysteriously fly off.

Although I have been reprimanded for saying it, I'll say it again: these guys sound like the Strokes should sound by now; that is, how the Strokes would sound if they hadn't become self-infatuated and stale. Yeah, stale. Give me Future Women over any retro rock record those puny tight-legged jeans boys have ever recorded. Or even thought about recording, for that matter.

This record has been out a week and a half, but here's to making sure you discover this band early on. Cheers for fuzzy, Brit-tinged, vintage-sounding rock 'n roll. I'm sold.

The M's - Plan of the Man
The M's - Shawnee Dupree
The M's - My Gun