Monthly Archives: January 2009

Live :: Cruiserweight w/ The Wonderland Avenue, Hollywood Black, and Two Capitals @ The Stafford Main Street, Saturday

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This Saturday, a brand-new local fashion label, Desired Hearts, will be hosting a fantastic lineup of acts at the trusty Stafford Main Street in Bryan.  If you haven’t seen Cruiserweight, imagine something very near Paramore with the angst of Blake Babies-era Juliana Hatfield, or really anything else Juliana Hatfield has done.  They’re good, and the rest of the lineup is sure to impress as well.  Be sure to check out the featured bands below, especially our local friends Two Capitals and Desired Hearts.

This is also a great opportunity to mention that I’ll soon begin to devote a post here and there to new developments, both locally and nationally, in the fashion world.  Yours truly has a relatively narrow perspective, but I’ll do my best to give you what I feel is relevant.

Enjoy the show!

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Presented by: Desired Hearts

Cruiserweight
The Wonderland Avenue
Hollywood Black
Two Capitals

New St. Vincent Video – “Marry Me”

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Back in ’07 I had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) after her opening set for Midlake in Austin.  This was shortly before the release of her first LP Marry Me (a widely loved album), and whatever charm she had over the audience then, it’s only multiplied since adding a full band.  Here, Annie returns to the basics with two gorgeous, jazzy renditions of tracks from Marry Me.

St Vincent: Marry Me from shoottheplayer.com on Vimeo.

St Vincent: What Me Worry? from shoottheplayer.com on Vimeo.

Via Gorilla vs. Bear.

M. Ward – “Never Had Nobody Like You”

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To me, Mr. Matt Ward (aka M. Ward, duh) deserves all of the hype and buzz that can be attributed to him. Certainly 2008 was full of Him (and She, see what I did there?), and with his February 17th full-length release Hold Time, 2009 will be quite the same.  As noted, M. Ward served as the co-conspirator to Zooey Deschanel in She & Him, but to those born before last year, he also has a wonderful back-catalogue himself.  His 2006 release Post-War served as the perfect summer evening companion, full of tracks washed in his trademark bluesy, lilting voice and plenty of Wurlitzer.  It’s been more than 2 long years since he’s done the solo thing, so I’m pretty geeked.  The first single from the album grabs She (Zooey Deshanel, I’ve gotta stop) and throws in some crunchy lo-fi guitar for effect. NPR is giving a preview of the album–check it out here.

M. Ward – Never Had Nobody Like You
M. Ward – Poison Cup (from Post-War)

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Purchase Post-War
M. Ward Website

Today’s New Releases

Bon Iver – Blood Bank EP

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It seems like so long ago (last week) that Baked Beans bestowed upon Justin Vernon and pals the dubious honor of the top spot in our Best of 2008 list.  Congrats and all, but it’s officially time to start getting down to business (looking at you Pres. Obama).  And so, today Bon Iver releases their first effort since For Emma, Forever Ago–the return-to-the-woods Blood Bank EP.  This is simply another beautiful album, start to finish.  Title track “Blood Bank” tells the story of two people falling in love at a, what else, blood bank, and braving the cold together.  Both “Beach Baby” and “Babys” provide a transition of sorts from Bon Iver’s past to what seems like a very bright future.  The closer “Woods” is basically inexplicable.  Typing out an explanation is very strange–Vernon belting an accapella, call-and-repeat gem, complete with heavy use of Autotuner.  But it works, and you’re left feeling like you’ve experienced a new turn in the changing world of folk music.  Perhaps that would be a good explanation for what Bon Iver has done thus far.

Bon Iver – Blood Bank
 

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

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Animal Collective have for so long existed as an enigma to me, a band that I couldn’t really connect with and whose musical identities I found difficult to comprehend.  And then last year I went back and sat down with their past couple releases Strawberry Jam and the Water Curses EP.  Suddenly I could frame them within the context of past artists and somewhat understood what they were trying to accomplish.  Animal Collective lives on making the simple song into something much bigger, much greater–but they lyrically never bring it into something that it’s not.  Merriweather Post Pavilion has songs about buying houses (“My Girls”), fun in the summertime (“Summertime Clothes”), and the everyday routine of living (“Daily Routine”).  See, I can’t even explain the songs without making it sound simple.  Much like Sonic Youth, David Byrne, and others, Animal Collective is dedicated to tying their craft to modern art–and each new release is an anticipation of the ebb and flow of trends in modern art.  Merriweather Post Pavilion is no different, and will surely go down as one of their best.

Animal Collective – My Girls

Joy Division – The Documentary

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“So many punk bands out at the time were making music that said ‘fuck you’; Joy Division strove to make something that said ‘I’m fucked’.” — Tony Wilson, founder of Factory Records

 

As I’ve demonstrated before, both Joy Division and New Order are legendary bands in my collective music appreciation.  What Joy Division was creating in the late 1970s ventured far past simple post-punk riffs and creative lyrics–they expressed a yearning and need for something more than what their ravaged, hollow society could provide.  Perhaps the city that they hailed from, Manchester, was the future of the world we know today.  Once the shining beacon of the industrialized world, Manchester was at the same time the Pittsburgh and Los Angeles of 18th and 19th century England.  However, the city was long past its glory days in the 1970s, most of its citizens living in poverty and squalor due to the heavy use of all available open space to advance industry.

In Grant Gee’s 2007 documentary Joy Division, we see the journey of 4 boys who desired life outside the city, but ultimately changed it forever.  Like last year’s stark, haunting Ian Curtis biopic Control, this documentary beats with the dark and moody pulse of Joy Division’s finest, while weaving “the last, great true story of pop music.”  Gee draws heavily from the accounts of those closest to the band and the remaining members of the band (now New Order), creating an honest, vulnerable, and absolutely brilliant film.  

The film features rare footage of the band’s European shows, and one of the most chilling moments is audio from a hypnotizing session that guitarist Bernard Sumner pulled Curtis through–merely weeks before his suicide.  It also includes video from their masterpiece BBC sessions, only adding to my jealousy towards my friend Kelly who recently bought the sessions on vinyl (still bitter, Kelly).  

This week only, Pitchfork.tv is airing the full-length documentary in high quality video, and whether you are a massive Joy Division/New Order fan like myself, or simply love a great rock ‘n’ roll story, you must check it out.

Watch it here

New Grizzly Bear – “Deep Blue Sea”

grizzly-bear-deep-blue-seaThe wonderful Brooklyn-based Grizzly Bear (and a Baked Beans favorite) have recorded a full band version of “Deep Blue Sea”, originally cut as a solo effort by Bear vocalist/guitarist Dan Rossen on their Friend EP.  Still haunting, still dope.  The newly-minted version is one of many stellar tracks on the HIV/AIDS charity compilation album Dark Was the Night, from the charity organization Red Hot.  Everyone will find someone they love on this album, which features incredible indie rock names and great collaborations (Ben Gibbard/Feist, Dirty Projectors/David Byrne, Conor Oberst/Gillian Welch, etc.).  Each day a new track from the album will be featured on MySpace, and today is Grizzly Bear.  Check it out here.

I’m pretty geeked to see what Grizzly Bear does this year with a new LP on the way.  Enjoy!

Dark Was the Night out 2/17 on 4AD.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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This is one of my favorite photos of Dr. King.  It’s so simple–a man not in a crowd, not standing behind a podium before thousands in our nation’s capital.  Just an icon.  2008 marked the 30th year since Dr. King left us, and how fitting that as the United States that he loved so much honors his birthday, we are preparing to swear in our nation’s first African-American president.

In 1963, Bob Dylan released “Blowin’ In The Wind” as a statement to the frustrations and aspirations of the Civil Rights movement in the United States.  Dylan played an active part as a voice of the rising American progressive body, touring through the South and often performing with other young, white folk artists, often from the back of pickup trucks and ramshackle stages.  Artists of many genres, of many races, were so moved by “Blowin’ In The Wind” as a passionate, urgent warning shot across the bow of the American landscape that many released covers and responses.  Sam Cooke’s legendary “A Change Is Gonna Come” was one of those responses, and it so encapsulates the struggles of many blacks in the 1960’s more than any other soul song of the decade.  You can basically hear the pain and sweat about to break Cooke down.  And though much of the song seems hopeless, Cooke pursues the light at the end of the tunnel, regardless.

No matter what side of the aisle you come from, what part of nation you hail from, tomorrow’s Presidential inauguration is a landmark moment for all of those men and women whose struggles have written the story of American yearning for justice, equality, and peace.  The mere fact that a nation so divided and made up of so many puzzle pieces can come together to celebrate a new era in our society is a testament to the strength of our democracy, and the iron will of our resolve.

Sam Cooke – A Change Is Gonna Come