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Saturday, August 12th, 2006

Sky Is Open

I like the idea of power pop – say yes to hooks, harmonies, melodicism and concise, sharp songwriting – but find myself frequently let down by stuff that’s put forward to me as power pop. Too often it’s like swallowing sugar packets – might taste good at first and give you a quick buzz, but ends up leaving you feeling unsatisfied and maybe a little queasy. No, creating pop music that really leaves an impression, that manages to offer more than a transient endorphin rush and offer something of substance, is a much more mysterious, almost alchemical process that few are privy to. John Roderick is one of those lucky few.

The Long Winters’ new album Putting The Days To Bed has been a bit of a revelation for me. I’ve liked what little I’ve heard from them before and almost bought a copy of their first album When I Pretend To Fall after seeing them open for Death Cab three years ago, but didn’t (I may have been poor at the time), but I think I expected to be let down in the long term as pop bands who make good first impressions often do. But having had some time to spend with the new record, I have to say it gets better and more complex with each successive listen while never losing any of its initial charm. A large part of this is Roderick’s lyrics which are grafted to perfect melodies and are wise and knowing but never smug. As it ebbs and tides from gentler numbers like the country-flecked “Clouds”, to the uptempo rock of “Rich Wife”, it’s amazing how solid an album this is – diverse yet consistent and clocking in at a tidy 37 minutes. Kids, this is how it’s done.

The Long Winters are on tour this Fall to support and will be at Lee’s Palace in Toronto October 4. Roderick recently gave Indie Interviews an exclusive, song-by-song lyrical breakdown of the album and talked to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer about lightening up on the new album. Daytrotter has an extensive interview and so does StarWars.com. They talk about Star Wars. Duh. And while this fansite hasn’t been updated in a while, it’s still a great band resource.

MP3: The Long Winters – “Pushover”
Video: The Long Winters – “Fire Island, AK” (YouTube)
MySpace: The Long Winters

A whole pile more concert announcements courtesy of rootmeansquare: Memphis, aka Torq Campbell from Stars’ other band, will be at Lee’s Palace on September 28, tickets $12. Their second album, A Little Place In The Wilderness, is out on Tuesday. Sunset Rubdown are at Lee’s Palace October 7 ($13), and Califone at the Horseshoe November 5 ($12). And freshly added to my calendar, TV On The Radio have booked a date at the Opera House for October 12, tickets $17.50. BrooklynVegan has full tour dates. Their second album Return To Cookie Mountain is out September 12 and you can stream the first single, “Wolf Like Me”, below.

Stream: TV On The Radio – “Wolf Like Me” (ASX)

Portastatic’s Mac McCaughan talks to Billboard about his/their new album Be Still Please, out October 10. Unlike the orchestral Who Loves The Sun soundtrack released earlier this year, Still is classic ‘Chunk-y indie rock goodness. And speaking of Superchunk, McCaughan mentions that they’re working on material for a new album. Mothballs be damned, Superchunk lives!

Billboard also reports that Steve Earle has signed on with New West Records after being with Artemis Records since 2000’s Transcendental Blues. His new album is due out in the first half of ’07.

The Sleepy Jackson’s Luke Steele stopped in for a session of AOL’s Interface. Audio ensued.

Chart converses with The Futureheads.

No fewer than three people sent me this YouTube link yesterday. Someone trying to tell me something?

np – Eric Bachmann / To The Races

By : Frank Yang at 9:19 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. ben says:

    "When I Pretend To Fall" is the Long Winters’ second record. It’s also one of the best records of the decade. Run, don’t walk, to buy it immediately.

    The first one is called "The Worst You Can Do Is Harm." It’s not bad, though not as good as the last two.

  2. Artemis says:

    Gah, I just can’t take that LW singing anymore. A few years ago, I was fine with it, but for some reason it just grates on me now.

    Doesn’t make me want to slash my wrists like that awful Mates of State caterwauling, but grating nonetheless.

  3. Ryan Mercer says:

    Superchunk working on a new record= the best news I’ve heard all day.

  4. Sean says:

    Hey Frank,

    I know you were looking for the BSS set from Lolla and it’s on DIME now if you have an account.

    http://www.dimeadozen.org/t

    Just thought I’d let you know.

  5. Sean says:

    And now that I read the comments on DIME i see you already knew all this. Ah well.

  6. Liesbeth says:

    thanks for the link to The Long Winters Library, my LW fansite, which in fact I’ve been updating like mad over the past few weeks – it was about time with a new album out. Been too busy to update the RSS-feed though (or to keep track of links to the site… therefore the late comment)