Jul 31, 2008

TV On The Radio Reveal New Album Details

TV On The Radio have revealed more details about their upcoming album release. "Dear Science," will be released on Interscope Records on September 23. The album will contain 11 tracks and is the follow up to their wonderful 2006 release "Return To Cookie Mountain".

Dear Science, Track Listing
1 Halfway Home
2 Crying
3 Dancing Choose
4 Stork & Owl
5 Golden Age
6 Family Tree
7 Red Dress
8 Love Dog
9 Shout Me Out
10 DLZ
11 Lover's Day

Jul 29, 2008

Hit The Wall-Brendan Canning

The new album from Brendan Canning has been getting some serious playing time in the ONL household. "Something For All Of Us..." is just a little bit wonderful. It flows with an effortless grace. Here is the first video from the album, for "Hit The Wall".

Jul 28, 2008

I Went To Melbourne and Returned With A Charles Blackman...

Any trip to Melbourne is a good one. It's a great city, full of an indefinable spirit and energy. A certain class and a great deal of beauty. But a trip with a loved one is even better. A chance to share all those great experiences is something wonderful, such as wonderful restaurants, art galleries, markets and the great game of Australian Football. An unexpected delight of our trip was the surprise purchase of a Charles Blackman etching. This iconic Australian artist has become a personal favourite and the chance to buy a reasonably priced piece of art (Touching II, above) was too good to pass on. It's beautiful.

The mighty Essendon Bombers at the MCG.

The truly sublime Great Ocean Road.

Oh, Polyester Records is the best record store in Australia. Period.

Jul 22, 2008

Two Silver Trees-New Song From Calexico

September 9 will see the release of a new Calexico album. "Carried To Dust" will be released by Touch And Go Records and is sure to be a highlight of 2008. The label has provided a preview of the new album in the shape of "Two Silver Trees". Please enjoy.

MP3: Two Silver Trees-Calexico

Carried To Dust Track Listing
1 Victor Jara's Hands
2 Two Silver Trees
3 The News About William
4 Sarabande In Pencil Form
5 Writer's Minor Holiday
6 Man Made Lake
7 Inspiración
8 House of Valparaiso
9 Slowness
10 Bend To The Road
11 El Gatillo (Trigger Revisited)
12 Fractured Air (Tornado Watch)
13 Falling From Sleeves
14 Red Blooms
15 Contention City

I will be away in Melbourne for a few days for a little holiday. So, updates might be scarce around here for a few days.

Jul 21, 2008

Mount Eerie To Tour Australia

October just got a whole lot better. Phil Elverum is coming to Australia. According to his website, he is here for a short tour of dates including a slot on the Great Escape Festival. For those of you in the dark, Mr Elverum is a singularly talented and idiosyncratic performer who lives in Anacortes, Washington. He previously recorded as The Microphones and as such released some ground breaking music including "The Glow Pt. 2". This amazing album was recently given the reissue treatment and deservedly so, for it is quite an incredible statement. In the last few years Elverum has releasing music as Mount Eerie, sometimes making music that is indecipherable, often astounding and ALWAYS interesting. The ever prolific one will actually release a new album in early October. Named "Lost Wisdom", it will also feature the talents of Julie Doiron and Fred Squire.

Stereogum recently debuted a song off the album-"Flaming Home".

So, here are the dates, with venues still to come-
October 2-Sydney
October 3-Newcastle, Sound Summit Festival
October 4-Sydney, Great Escape Festival
October 5-Brisbane
October 6-Melbourne
October 7-Melbourne

Jul 20, 2008

Colette-Langhorne Slim

I have heard the word joy a lot in the last week. Joy, joy, joy. Supposedly World Youth Day (doesn't it sound like some Orwellian creation?) was all about joy. To me it was a totally unnecessary invasion of our city by people that really depress me. They depress me because I was hoping that in the year 2008 we would have moved way past ancient superstitions and ceremonies based on pomp and circumstance without any true meaning. I would hope that the 'youth' of this world would perhaps realise that just maybe the world is about science and humanity and not a belief that defies any singular form of logic. That it is actually possible to be a good and caring decent human being without devoting a life to prayer and unrelenting dogma. That it is not a 'great occasion' to trample all over our fair city with flags as clothing and lanyards swinging stupidly. What the hell ever happened to quiet contemplation?

Anyway, the events of the past week (wasn't it to last a day?) did not represent joy to me.
The following represent joy to me-
Celebrating a family member's birthday.
Waking up in the arms of a loved one.
Seeing whales swim in the ocean.
Meeting new people (that don't have flags tattooed on their faces).
Discovering new music (see Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson).
Hearing Will Sheff sing.
Feeling the warm sun on your back.
A live music experience.
A Paul Thomas Anderson film.

Oh, and the above. Langhorne Slim performing "Colette". He brings joy.
And I can do all of the above without ever going inside a church...

Jul 19, 2008

Snowman/Baseball @ Annandale Hotel

Friday night at the Annandale Hotel was a good indication that Snowman are a unique and distinct talent on the Australian music scene. 2008 saw the Perth band release their second album "The Horse, The Rat And The Swan" to much acclaim. I find the album an unsettling listen, producing a sound that is hard to define and sometimes hard to love. But yet, it is exciting and unique. It turned out that their live show was similar. At times the music on display was intricate, powerful and persuasive. Yet, it could also be described as alienating and somewhat indulgent. This band seems to be a band that makes music to definitely please themselves. Which makes for music that is singular and exciting, although sometimes can tend to fail to make a full connection with the audience. The first time I saw this band a few years ago was as support for Interpol. I thought at the time their music was amateurish and a little repetitive. How things have changed. They have matured into a fully functioning beast. Their music is dense, melodramatic and incredibly intense. Their two strengths I believe are drummer Ross Diblasio, who is threateningly powerful, and front man Joe McKee, whose manic delivery keeps you focused on each and every song. The show seemed to be comprised of mainly songs from the latest album. They roared into their set with "Our Mother (She Remembers)" and "We Are The Plague", both setting an ominous tone. Other highlights were the powerful "Daniel Was A Timebomb" and the eerie "She Is Turning Into You". Snowman, a great Australian talent.

Even though Snowman impressed me, it was support act Baseball that blew me away. I had been longing to see them since buying their wonderful album of this year in "Animal Kingdom". I had heard that their live shows were an intense experience and this Melbourne band didn't let me down. Their music is a whirlwind of differing styles. Rhythmic drumming is fused with frenetic guitars and then this topped off by the dramatic presence of front man Thick Passage. This man with the odd name is quite the stage presence. His violin playing sets the scene, plucking it and playing it with a gorgeous style and an exhausting intensity. Often playing in a set stance, with his eyes staring in the audience, he will writhe and stalk the stage, never settling for anything less then full intensity. Then, his voice. Passionate and raw, he belts out his vocals from the deep bottom of his throat. Each song is short and to the point. Songs like "Soft Boy Factory", "The Animal Kingdom" and "Land Of Darkness-Land Of Dogs" were drama fueled and nailed to the floor. But my favourites were the atmospheric and intensely beautiful "Mozart And The Whale" and "The Wedding At Susa". Truly impressive. As was this special and wonderful band.

Set List
Gods And Stars-Priests And Kings
The Animal Kingdom
The Hospitality Song (Ode To Good Will)
Lines And Lines And Lines
It's Gonna Be Hard Work And It's Gonna Hurt
I Have Come To Ravish My Betrothed
The Wedding At Susa
Land Of Darkness - Land Of Dogs
Mozart And The Whale
Soft Boy Factory
Song Of The Righteous
Where We All End Up
Faith Like A Cross - Trust Like A Flag

Jul 18, 2008

Blitzen Trapper Reveal Furr Cover Art

As reported a little while ago, Blitzen Trapper will be releasing a new album on September 23. Now, I have the cover art and track listing. At first, this image set me back a bit. It looks more Iron Maiden then Blitzen Trapper. But I have grown to love the stylistic font set against the timber background. Anyway, this Portland's band first release on Sub Pop is surely one to look forward to. The album was mainly recorded at the group's studio in Sally Mack's School Of Dance, which is housed in an old telegraph building on the banks of the Willamette River. Sounds enticing and exciting.

Furr Track Listing
1 Sleepytime in the Western World
2 Gold for Bread
3 Furr
4 God & Suicide
5 Fire & Fast Bullets
6 Saturday Nite
7 Black River Killer
8 Not Your Lover
9 Love U
10 War on Machines
11 Stolen Shoes & a Rifle
12 Echo/Always On/EZ Con
13 Lady on the Water

Jul 17, 2008

Kissing The Beehive (Live)-Wolf Parade

Ah, this is great. I was trying to find a current video of a new Wolf Parade song. And what better then the epic and purely awesome song that is "Kissing The Beehive". Again, this is from their show last week in Michigan at The Crofoot. The video quality is quite good and so is this song. Well, that's an understatement.

Oh, "The Stand Ins" has leaked. The new album from Okkervil River. I am sure the label is doing what they can to squash the leak, which is always hard. I will definitely buy the album upon its release, but I couldn't avoid listening to it now. My early thoughts. It is a worthy addition to this great band's catalogue. Not every song is great, but they are all good. And I would say it contains 4 great songs. The best being "Lost Coastlines" and "Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed On The Roof Of The Chelsea Hotel, 1979", which I both love. And Will Sheff could sing the telephone book and make it sound great.

One more thing. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson could be a genius. His album is pure and utter gold. More on this next week.

MP3: Buriedfed-Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson

Jul 16, 2008

Danny Seim Is Lackthereof

If you loved the last album from Menomena, and it was great, then you might be interested in Lackthereof. This band is the project of Danny Seim, Menomena's drummer. Apparently he has been recording under this name for a number of years, self releasing various CD-Rs. Now he will be releasing an album on Barsuk Records. "Your Anchor" is due out on July 22 and the tracks that I have heard so far reveal an interesting mix of lo-fi pop and interesting atmospherics. Danny performed and recorded the entire album by himself in his basement in Portland.

MP3: Last November-Lackthereof
A Minor Place

I am going to Melbourne next week for a few days. Should be great. Music, food, markets, shopping, art and football of course. Go Bombers! In my search for more things to do I found this cafe in Brunswick. A Minor Place it is called, named after the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy song from his classic album "I See a Darkness". How cool is that? I love Melbourne.

Jul 14, 2008

Swimming-French Kicks

There are great bands (eg. Spoon), there are bands that make you feel great to exist (Wolf Parade), there are bands that get far too much publicity (The Vines). Then there are bands that continually fly under the radar. Minus Story would be one, Aloha would be another. French Kicks are certainly one, and I think it should stop. Now. Their fourth album "Swimming" is a pure pleasure, it's layer after layer of shimmering pop. It's not music to change your life but it will make your life a far happier one. Well crafted melodic tunes will do that to you. And that surely has to be good thing, I would say.

The origins of the four member French Kicks were in the city of Washington, DC. After university the core members of the group moved to New York and the band started to record. They were contemporaries of bands like The Strokes and The Walkmen. Two albums were released and lineups changed before a settled band released "Two Thousand" in 2006, which was sadly under rated (see above). However in 2008, they return with "Swimming", an album of 12 solidly written pop/rock tunes. The band decided to self produce this effort and in the words of bassist Josh Wise " we used a lot of first and second takes and tried to preserve a sense of immediacy and discovery that comes from putting things down before you really have a chance to think too hard". It has proved successful, the album is a joyous, summery effort. It glistens and shines quite effortlessly, providing an uplifting atmosphere. "Abandon" starts the joy with its hand clap start and strident drumming, before giving way to the lush vocals of Nick Stumpf. Stumpf's vocals are certainly a feature of this record. His voice glides across nearly every track (Wise takes lead on 4 songs), its delectable tones being a total comfort for the ears. Also a feature are the guitars. They pulsate and romp through each track with an admirable certainty, backed up a potent drum kit. This is heard to good effect on "Carried Away", which has an exquisite melody and honest charm. Other stand out tracks are the metronomic "New Man", the pop perfection of "Said So What" and the delirious "Love In The Ruins". If there is a weakness to "Swimming", it's probably the similarity between each track. Although each one has a well crafted melody inside of it, they are not remarkably different. But the overall sound is so enjoyable, I am not about to start complaining.

MP3: Abandon-French Kicks

Jul 11, 2008

Buriedfed-Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson

I love this song. "Buriedfed" from this Brooklyn singer's debut album. The album has just been released on Say Hey Records and I recommend it highly.

Jul 10, 2008

I'll Believe In Anything (Live)-Wolf Parade

Yes, more video. From the same show. This epic of epic songs performed in the encore. It segues into "Fancy Claps", but the video unfortunately ends before that hurricane of a song completes. But we bagged the beast, the giant, THE song.

I was fortunate enough to first hear "I'll Believe In Anything" in a live situation. In Vancouver in 2005. It hit me like a hurricane that day and I love it more and more with every listen since. That opening synth line is like the sweetest of honey, before the drums hit with the force of an earthquake, counting time like a metronome. Then the guitars sweep across my body as they sing to me with a beautiful force, wrapping themselves around my willing ears. Then Spencer sings. The most beautiful love song ever written. Yes, I believe it is a love song. Some one very close to me thinks so too. It is one person giving themselves totally to another person. It is 'not giving a damn'. It is 'sharing a life'. It is the most glorious line I have heard. 'Give me your eyes, I need sunshine'. Oh my. All the while wrapped up in a majestic melody and glorious rolling guitar lines and humming keyboards. All coming to a head at 2.22, when the whole thing comes tumbling down. Exploding, imploding, revolutionizing, crashing, surprising. Into a chasm of joy, a rampage of happiness, a rush of pure and utter bliss. Bliss, bliss, bliss. Skin gets tender, hairs stand to attention, hearts flutter that little harder, mouths expand, giving way to smiles and smiles. Smiles of the knowing, smiles of the eternally content. Yes, smiles of people knowing that music can never, ever sound any better. Yes, finest song ever. I just said that.

Give me your eyes, I need sunshine
Give me your eyes, I need sunshine
Your blood, your bones, your voice, and your ghost

We’ve both been
A very brave
Walk around with both legs
Fight the, the scary day
We both pulled the tricks out of our sleeves
I’ll believe in anything and
You’ll believe in anything
I Said
I’ll believe in anything and
You’ll believe in anything

If I could get the fire out from the wire
I’d share a life and you’d share a life
If I could take the fire out from the wire
I’d share a life and you’d share a life
If I could take the fire out from the wire
I’d take you where nobody knows you
And nobody gives a damn
I said nobody knows you
And nobody gives a damn

And I could take another hit for you
And I could take away the trips from you
And I could take away the salt from your eyes
Take away skin and salt in you
And I could give you my apologies
By handing over my neologies
And I could take away your shaky knees
And I could give you all the olive trees
And look at the trees and look at my face and look at a place far away from here

So give me your eyes, I need sunshine
Give me your eyes, I need sunshine
Your blood, your bones, your voice, and your ghost
We’ve both been very brave
Walk around with both legs
Fight the, the scary day
We both pulled the tricks out of our sleeves
But I’ll believe in anything and
You’ll believe in anything

If I could take the fire out from the wire
I’d share a life and you’d share a life
If I could take the fire out from the wire
I’d share a life and you’d share a life
If I could take the fire out from the wire
I’d take you where nobody knows you
And nobody gives a damn
I said nobody knows you
And nobody gives a damn

I said nobody knows you
And nobody gives a damn either way
About your blood, your bones, your voice, and your ghost
Because nobody knows you
And nobody gives a damn either way
You know I’ll believe in anything and
You’ll believe in anything
Because nobody knows you
And nobody gives a damn either way

Jul 9, 2008

It's A Curse (Live)-Wolf Parade

The first video to surface from the Wolf Parade show mentioned below. "It's A Curse", live from Pontiac, Michigan on July 7. Apparently their show on July 8 in Chicago was a similar set, with "Bang Your Drum" added. So, all songs from "At Mount Zoomer" were represented. Hopefully more videos will surface in the coming days, especially songs from the new album.
Wolf Parade Kick Off North American Tour

It's started, ladies and gentlemen. Wolf Parade (GBOAT), have begun their 2008 North American tour. Monday night in Pontiac, Michigan they played at The Crofoot. It was their first show in nearly 10 months and their first since the release of LP 2 "At Mount Zoomer". The set list was predominantly drawn from that wonderful album, but they still played older gems including "Grounds For Divorce", which they had left off set lists last year. In the encore "I'll Believe in Anything" segued into "Fancy Claps", enough to make a grown man cry. I can't tell you a lot else about the show, except that Spencer wore shorts and Dan wore black. Oh, and Dante is still in the band, despite the photo above. They were playing Chicago on Tuesday night and will be touring for about another month. So, expect a month's worth of updates. And let's hope for a miracle and they tour Australia.

Wolf Parade, The Crofoot-Pontiac, Michigan 07/07/2008
Language City
Call It A Ritual
The Grey Estates
Dear Sons And Daughters Of Hungry Ghosts
Soldier's Grin
An Animal In Your Care
Fine Young Cannibals
Grounds For Divorce
Shine A Light
California Dreamer
This Heart's On Fire
Kissing The Beehive

It's A Curse
I'll Believe In Anything
Fancy Claps

Jul 8, 2008

The Pillowman

The Pillowman, currently playing at the Belvoir Theatre, is winning many plaudits and I can agree that they are all completely warranted. This piece of theatre is a thrilling example of the medium at its very best. Sparkling dialogue and expert acting combine to create a performance that will stay with you long after the curtain comes down. The Pillowman is dark, brutal, hilarious and revealing. A reminder of the stark immediacy that only theatre can offer.

This play was written in 2003 by English playwright Martin McDonagh and has enjoyed successful runs in London and New York. The play begins with Katurian (Damon Herriman), a young short story writer who has been arrested for a crime that he believes he didn't commit. His stories are often grisly affairs that depict the murders of small children. Two policeman, the brutal Ariel (Dan Wyllie) and the sarcastic Tupolski (Marton Csokas) have arrested the writer because some of his stories resemble those of recent child murders. Katurian's younger brother Michal (Steve Rodgers), who is 'slow to get things' is also brought into the police station and both brothers are systematically interrogated and tortured. To further complicate matters, the action takes place in an anonymous totalitarian state, so the audience and the brothers can feel the rights of the protagonists being slowly denied. What unfolds is a darkly delicious story. We learn of the disturbing background of the brothers and their parents. Trust me, it is very disturbing. We also hear Katurian's stories woven into the play, read out by either the writer or the policemen. They are dark and disturbing tales, full of sadness and blackness. One in particular, that gives its title to the name of the play, is an unrelentingly sad tale of suicide and snuffed out lives. At its heart is the very essence of the play. The terrible things that are done to your youth and the dire consequences that follow, the very knowledge that a young life corrupted can never be made right. All of the stories have a marvelous twist too, that will keep you thoroughly guessing the outcome. It's not all gloom though. There is a rich vein of black humour running through out, that will leave you in stitches and not wishing to run into a dark, hidden corner.

The performances are excellent. Herriman as the young writer shows a remarkable vulnerability well suited to the part, whilst Csokas is absolutely wonderful as the cynical and intelligent Tupolski. His delivery is expert and his presence dominates every scene. This play is intensely mesmerising. It often goes places that you wish it wouldn't. It is dark and disturbed, a macabre tale full of horror and intrigue. It often straddles the line between reality and fantasy, but it manages to pull it off. Gallows humour and scintillating dialogue make for a rewarding experience. And despite the dark nature of the material there is a ray of hope at the end, just enough to give you that feeling that kindness can still exist in even the cruelest of worlds.

The Belvoir is holding a free debrief in their theatre at 6pm on July 9.

Jul 6, 2008

New Mogwai Album Out In September

This is the cover art for the new Mogwai album due out on September 23 on Matador Records. "The Hawk Is Howling" is the name of the new release and hopefully it will live up to the band's previous stellar efforts. Although I missed the band on their last Australian tour, I had seen them twice before on previous tours and both were memorable experiences. This Glasgow band were one of the pioneers of the so called Post Rock sound and I am sure that they have lost none of their touch. By the sounds of the first released track, they sound in good form. It has a somewhat lighter touch then previous efforts, but I am really liking the sweet melody on display.

MP3: The Sun Smells Too Loud-Mogwai

The Hawk Is Howling Track List
1 I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead
2 Batcat
3 Daphne and The Brain
4 Local Authority
5 The Sun Smells Too Loud
6 Kings Meadow
7 I Love you, I'm Going To Blow Up Your School
8 Scotland's Shame
9 Thank You Space Expert
10 The Precipice

Jul 5, 2008

New Cold War Kids Album Teaser

Cold War Kids will release a new album in September. Here is a small teaser of the new release. I look forward to seeing them in August.

Jul 4, 2008

Bruce Springsteen Tribute Night @ The Vanguard

Tribute nights can be problematical. I mean, the artist covered has to be worthy of it in the first place, and if he or she is, then you need artists of sufficient musical ability to do the material justice. Whether they stay strict to the original version or offer up a fresh interpretation. So when the tribute is to Bruce Springsteen, you certainly have plenty of great material to choose from, but also music that requires a certain amount of skill to cover successfully. Thursday night at the Vanguard was nearly three hours worth of music in honour of 'The Boss' and it proved to be a very enjoyable night, with some false steps, but also some inspired renditions of Springsteen magic.

First up was Johnny Vance, with basically just an acoustic setup. He tackled a few big ones from the Springsteen repertoire, but pulled it off. His version of "Rosalita" was great and I am glad he sung "Growin' Up", as this is a particular favourite of mine. The Sons of Katie Elder were supposed to perform, but it ended up only being lead singer Greg on acoustic guitar. His gravelly voice suited the material and the crowd really enjoyed the effervescent "Hungry Heart". Country act The Jones were next and their five songs were a mixed bag. "Badlands" done in Johnny Cash style style was interesting, but "Johnny 99" as country swing was a poor choice. The Maladies were the biggest surprise of the night. Despite their mix being far too loud, their experimental rock with a big guitar sound was very impressive. Their "Blinded By The Light" was unrecognisable, but very haunting. Then when their lead singer tackled "Highway Patrolman" solo, you could hear a pin drop in the venue. Very impressive indeed. The Green Mohair Suits brought an Australian version of Bluegrass to the night. They were fun, but a little kitschy to be totally successful. Although their version of "Born in the U.S.A." surprisingly worked.

Without doubt though, the highlight of the night was the closing act Dead Letter Chorus. This band is seriously talented and proved it yet again. Lead singer Cam opened with an acoustic version of "Devils & Dust", which proved to be starkly beautiful. Then it was great to hear a female voice covering Springsteen. Gabrielle took lead duties on "Human Touch", which was thoroughly enjoyable. Yet it was bettered soon after by a stellar version of "Dancing In The Dark", probably the highlight of the night. Closing with "Streets Of Philadelphia' proved a winning move, bringing to a close an enjoyable and satisfying night. Good food, great company, with talented Sydney musicians tackling the greatness of Springsteen. A good combination.

Set List (with performers)
Johnny Vance
Growin' Up
No Surrender
Thunder Road

Greg from The Sons Of Katie Elder
Atlantic City
I'm On Fire
Hungry Heart

The Jones (with Johnny Cass)
Long Walk Home
Girls In Their Summer Clothes
Johnny 99
Born To Run

The Maladies
Further On (Up The Road)
Blinded By The Light
Highway Patrolman
Streets Of Fire
State Trooper

The Green Mohair Suits
I'm On Fire
My Hometown
Wild Billy's Circus Story
Atlantic City
Born in the U.S.A.

Dead Letter Chorus
Devils & Dust
Human Touch
The Ghost Of Tom Joad
Dancing In The Dark
Streets Of Philadelphia

Jul 2, 2008

All We Could Do Was Sing-Port O'Brien

These days Port O'Brien are making quite a name for themselves. They have just arrived with a new album and it is quite good. Actually, very good. It would seem that this band from California, sometimes Alaska, is new on the scene and in someways they are. Well, "All We Could Was Sing" could be seen as a fresh beginning. This is their first studio recorded album and their first to get major distribution. Which is a good thing, because Port O'Brien write very good songs. But first a brief history. Port O'Brien began with Van Pierszalowski, soon after joined by Cambria Goodwin. They wrote songs in Oakland, California, with Van leaving each summer to work on his father's fishing boat off Alaska. During this time they self released an LP and an EP. Both were very good and to my knowledge, out of print. Thankfully the band, now numbering five, released an album in 2007, "The Wind and The Swell" which put those two releases on the one easy album. This album is well worth getting and is available at American Dust Records. So, you still with me. Good.

Let the 2008 story begin. The band recorded this album in San Francisco at the acclaimed Tiny Telephone Studios and also the Pan American Recording Studios. From the early days of quite acoustic, rustic sounds the band has advanced to a more dynamic, sweeping sound. There are lush string arrangements, careening guitars, lots of percussion and thrusting vocals. It all adds up to a grand tapestry of sound, a melting pot of folk and country and rock. The album comprises 13 songs and of these, four have been re-recorded for the album. The notable being the opening track "I Woke Up Today", which is on its third and most rousing reincarnation. It is a whirlwind of shouted vocals and crashing percussion, a song perfectly suited to being shouted with at live shows. The second song is one that takes up the main theme of the album. That of the sea and the people that work it. "Stuck On A Boat" is a wistful lament about the loneliness of deep sea fishing. Its melancholic nature is quite infectious. The theme continues with "Fisherman's Son", a tale of fishing in Alaska that features some lovely acoustic work. "Don't Take My Advice" is a good advertisement for Van's plaintive vocal, its doleful wail sure to find a place in anyone's heart. The fiery "Pigeon Hold" takes it up a notch, proving this band can rock as well as anyone, one not to be placed in any hole of a bird variety. My clear winner on the album though is "The Rooftop Song", a previously recorded number, which features glorious harmonies, some crunching guitar and a positively swinging rhythm, very good indeed. This is a album of plentiful variety, there is even a protest song, "Valdez". It is a good combination of sweet melodies, pleasant acoustics, gnashing guitars and lively percussion. An album straddling the land and the sea. Music grown from the earth we walk on and the sea we traverse. Timely folk music for the year 2008.

Jul 1, 2008

From Portland (City of Great Music) Comes News of Even More Greatness

One of Portland, Oregon's finest (and there are many) is releasing a new album in September on Sub Pop. Yes, those wild and wacky lads Blitzen Trapper are returning with a new album, following on from 2007's wonderful "Wild Mountain Nation". Only details so far is that the new platter is named "Furr". Thanks to You Ain't No Picasso, you can listen to the title track. Please go there now and listen to four minutes of gorgeous washed out country folk.

No music to listen to here, but I can tell you that Horse Feathers, yes from Portland too, will also be releasing a new album in September. Kill Rock Stars will be releasing "House With No Home", the band's second album. This follows up one of the best albums of 2006, "Words Are Dead", a haunting and quite incredible album that gets constant play in this household.

To give you an idea of the lyrical power of a Horse Feathers song, here are the words to a song from their debut album-

"In Our Blood"
There are things you tend to say when you're alone.
There are tones you tend to take when you're at home.
Let me be that thorn, thistle, or key. Let me prove you'll unlock just for me.
It's in your eyes we fail to even try. It's in our blood to watch each day go by.
It's in our times young men they're living on dimes.
It's on our minds to put our hands to throats.
There are things you tend to say when you're alone.
There are tones you tend to take when young hearts are broke.