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Thursday, March 29th, 2007

Putting The Days To Bed

It’s a damn shame that The Long Winters’ 2006 record Putting The Days To Bed has been so overlooked and underappreciated by most everyone, including myself. It’s one of those albums that I forget is on my iPod until I go cruising for something to listen to and spin it and am reminded what a terrific pop gem it is. Witty, erudite and charming, John Roderick is a top-notch songwriter for those of use who like our songs wordy and he’s the same way as a frontman… but I’m getting ahead of myself. There were two other bands on the bill at the El Mocambo on Tuesday night. Them first.

I don’t think there’s any way that naming your band after a Belle & Sebastian song can be construed as a good idea, but if you were expecting cardigan-tugging twee anthems from Portland’s Stars Of Track & Field, think again. The duo instead offer up an overly-earnest mix of Coldplay sensitive anthemicism and Postal Service electro-pop that just wasn’t especially interesting. And I tend not to trust any band that sees fit to go on tour with a Floyd-worthy stage setup of smoke machines and motorized spotlights but no bassist. Especially if they’re wearing ascots.

Los Angeles’ Broken West were already in my good books for a) turning out an excellent Cal-pop debut in I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On earlier this year and b) opening up day two of Hot Freaks two weeks ago at the ungodly hour of 11AM and still turning in a great set. On this however, their Canadian debut performance, they should have billed themselves as The Broken Strings as they broke no less than three guitar strings within the first few songs of their set, forcing both guitarists to play Keith Richards-style. As a result (or coincidentally), their set wasn’t especially tight and they were also plagued by a rather dodgy mix coming out of the PA. They still made it through an shortened set (maybe not wanting to play longer and tempt the fates further) and the strength of their songs still came across, but I hope they make it back soon and have better luck. And some extra high-e strings.

And back to John Roderick and gang. The man totally reminded me of your favourite high school history teacher, the one that you could imagine going out for drinks with or fronting a rock band in his spare time. Declaring the show to be all-request from the get-go, the band let the audience – smallish but obviously devoted – dictate the set list. Though a lot of the selections ranged back to earlier records, EPs and singles, they still managed to cover a lot of material from Days, which is good since that’s their only record I’m really acquainted with. But for popsmiths of Roderick’s calibre that’s hardly a prerequisite for enjoying the songs – those hooks make good contact the first time around. Combine that with the fact that Roderick is, as mentioned earlier, a grade-A stage banterer and the fact they got the mix sorted out and things were actually sounding pretty good and you had a fine evening.

The Long Winters have been doing mucho Canadian press on the current tour (which if you’re still downstream you’d do well to check out) – they talked to Canada.com Montreal, Canada.com Edmonton, Vue, The Georgia Straight and Chart. OnMilwaukee also say hello. JAM!, meanwhile, chatted with Stars Of Track & Field.

Photos: The Long Winters, The Broken West, Stars Of Track & Field @ The El Mocambo – March 27, 2007
MP3: The Long Winters – “Pushover”
MP3: The Broken West – “Down In The Valley”
MP3: Stars Of Track & Field – “Centuries”
Video: The Long Winters – “Fire Island, AK” (YouTube)
Video: Stars Of Track & Field – “Movies Of Antarctica” (YouTube)
MySpace: The Long Winters
MySpace: The Broken West
MySpace: Stars Of Track & Field

ABC catches up with The Shins.

The Temple News talks to The Decemberists’ Jenny Conlee.

PopMatters and The New York Observer talk to Ted Leo while WOXY’s new blog The Futurist has some exclusive live MP3s from a session Leo did for them recently. Ted’s at the Mod Club on May 2.

The Futurist has also got a couple tracks from a session with Land Of Talk recorded at SxSW, including one new song. Their Applause Cheer Boo Hiss, which is only now available in the US, scored a very solid 7.5 from Pitchfork.

UGO has an interview with Fountains Of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger, whose new album Traffic & Weather, out next Tuesday, is kinda being crapped on. They’ve got a gig at Lee’s Palace on June 10.

And three days after opening for Blonde Redhead at the Opera House, Fields will be back in town for a session at the Amp’d Studio on May 14. Tickets not available yet, but when they are, they’ll be free.

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

The Hot Freaks

So here we go. This is something I’ve been working on with my comrades in blogging at You Ain’t No Picasso. My Old Kentucky Blog, Gorilla Vs Bear, Largehearted Boy and Rock Insider for the last while and which we’re finally ready to unveil – The Hot Freaks!

It’s an event we’re putting on at SxSW this year and it’s looking pretty bad-ass if I do say so myself. We’ve got 32 bands playing over two days and three stages at Fhe Mohawk and Club DeVille in Austin on March 16 and 17 and we’re talking some top-notch talent – mostly hand-picked (or begged) by us. Can you guess who mine were? Probably. There’s names both new and familiar in the mix, and over the next month as I get acquainted with or excited about various acts participating I’ll be posting my thoughts here – de facto content. Gotta love it.

Also kind of loving the idea of not having to run all over downtown Austin for those two days (if not nights). But I’m very happy to be able to announce all this today because I’ve been sitting on it for over a week now while we got some stuff hammered out, and it’s been driving me a little nuts. And this might not be the end of it!

But enough jabber – check out the sched… and maybe a little musical accompaniment… And check out the flyer from San Francisco’s Andy Hawgood.

MP3: Guided By Voices – “Hot Freaks”

Friday, March 16

Mohawk (outside):
12:00 pm – Catfish Haven (MySpace)
1:00 pm – Thunderbirds Are Now! (MySpace)
2:00 pm – Apostle of Hustle (MySpace)
3:00 pm – Imperial Teen (MySpace)
4:00 pm – Annuals (MySpace)
5:00 pm – Shearwater (MySpace)

Mohawk (inside)
12:30 pm – Briertone (MySpace)
1:30 pm – Sea Wolf (MySpace)
2:30 pm – St. Vincent (MySpace)
3:30 pm – Midnight Movies (MySpace)
4:30 pm – Bishop Allen (MySpace)

Club DeVille (Insound stage)
12:30 pm – Apes and Androids (MySpace)
1:30 pm – The Black Lips (MySpace)
2:30 pm – Walter Meego (MySpace)
3:30 pm – Shout Out Out Out Out (MySpace)
4:30 pm – Pelican (MySpace)

Saturday, March 17

Mohawk (outside)
12:00 pm – The Early Years (MySpace)
1:00 pm – Malajube (MySpace)
2:00 pm – The Ponys (MySpace)
3:00 pm – Viva Voce Asobi Seksu (MySpace)
4:00 pm – Menomena (MySpace)
5:00 pm – Special guest headliner from Dallas, TX.

Mohawk (inside)
12:30 pm – White Denim
1:30 pm – Page France (MySpace)
2:30 pm – Twilight Sleep (MySpace)
3:30 pm – Young Galaxy (MySpace)
4:30 pm – RJD2 (MySpace)

Club DeVille
12:30 pm – Prototypes (MySpace)
1:30 pm – Land of Talk (MySpace)
2:30 pm – The Young Knives (MySpace)
3:30 pm – The Rosebuds (MySpace)
4:30 pm – Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s (MySpace)

And that’s not all – on Thursday the 15th, I’ll be co-presenting, along with My Old Kentucky Blog and An Aquarium Drunkard and in conjunction with LiveDaily and Spaceland, another day show at Antone’s. The lineup for that one is as follows:

Blonde Redhead (MySpace)
Annuals (MySpace)
Mando Diao (MySpace)
Datarock (MySpace)
Dirty On Purpose (MySpace)
Tally Hall (MySpace)

So as you can see, my SxSW 2007 is looking pretty damn busy. But if you’re in Austin that week and happen by one of these shows, do say hello.

Bradley’s Almanac has got a live Shearwater set from Boston last September up for downloading. Needless to say, I’m ecstatic about their headlining our Friday show.

And just so that the hometown doesn’t feel too neglected today, I’ll point out that Frog Eyes have booked a show at Sneaky Dee’s for May 24. Pitchfork talked to Carey Mercer about their new album Tears Of The Valedictorian, also due out in May.

Also, The Long Winters, The Broken West and Stars Of Track And Field are at the El Mocambo on March 27 (via For The Records). On one hand, Long Winters and The Broken West are guaranteed to turn out some ass kicking power pop. On the other hand, March will already have killed me five times over.

And finally, the new album from Feist is indeed called The Reminder and will be out May 1 in North America, the week before in the rest of the world. Grok the album art at All Things Feist.