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Archive for April, 2006

Friday, April 28, 2006

Kingblind news that you can use

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah ready to record
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Beta Band man quits
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Meat Puppets reunite
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Thermals to release third LP
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Mogwai or Madonna? Your Coachella Set Times
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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Secret Machines:: Ten Silver Drops (Album Review)

Secret Machines are ostensibly a guitar, bass and drums trio with plenty of clout to their sound, and lots of big melodic songs courtesy of brothers Brandon and Benjamin Curtis. But the refreshing thing about them is that they are adept at sidestepping rock cliché. Lean and limber with a canny grasp of dynamics and a mercurial sense of rhythm, they pull off the trick of sounding quintessentially American while also embracing, for example, the motorik propulsion of Seventies Krautrock exponents Can and Neu!. It’s not surprising that their music has attracted such a bewildering range of comparisons with other groups.

Hailing from Texas, Secret Machines gathered momentum on the back of their 2002 debut mini-album, September 000, which led to 2004′s Now Here is Nowhere, their even better first full-blown LP. But although they are more focused on Ten Silver Drops, they also sound more reined-in and less idiosyncratic. Maybe it’s a reflection of the grid patterns of their adoptive home, New York, or perhaps they’ve always been heading for the hip end of epic rock.

At times it’s as exciting as riding through the city at night, as on the single ‘Alone, Jealous and Stoned’, which starts out steeped in ennui before gear-shifting into an exultant groove. But on songs like ‘Lightning Blue Eyes’, they navigate the fine line that separates their trademark rhythmic single-mindedness from click-track precision and stadium bluster. And as groups like Mercury Rev have shown, chasing the Big Music can result in a foursquare Pink Floyd-ification of your sound. In fact, the riff of ‘Daddy’s in the Doldrums’ is copped straight from the lumbering ‘funk’ section of Floyd’s ‘Echoes’. Contrast that with the truly funky ‘I Hate Pretending’, on which drummer Josh Garza cuts loose in spectacular fashion – showing us just how much he’d been holding back – and the band really begin to fly.

Kingblind Downloads

Gomez:: How we operate (Music Video)
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Hot Snakes:: Suicide Invoice
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Controller.Controller:: Several Tracks
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Sonic Youth:: Do You Believe In Rapture?
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AIR:: How does it make you feel (Music Video)
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Bruce Springsteen:: We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (Album Review)

The Stone Pony London is a cruel and thankless place to hang out these days. And as the pre-eminent message board for all things Springsteen, it’s probably also the Web’s most accurate barometer for the buzz surrounding Bruce’s new folkie record, and a cursory scan reveals that talk ranges from cautiously optimistic to a level at which some of these people might now, as you read this, be marching to Springsteen’s Jersey farmhouse with pitchforks and lit torches to kill his ponies. “Maybe it would have been better if he had gone out and hired the best folk, fiddle, horn and string musicians to experiment with instead of hiring his fucking wife, her slutty friends and other Jerseyites who are about as folk as Michael Bloomberg to play on this heap,” goes one typically grammatically entertaining post.

Why such edge and darkness? Ostensibly, it’s because, one: We Shall Overcome is the second consecutive record where Springsteen has left the E Streeters at home; two: It’s his first all-covers album ever and; three: Apparently, largely, because he sings with a twang on it.

But what the pouting misses is that We Shall Overcome—twang or not—is a hoot and a holler, an old-timey, jubilant, front-porch throwdown and a carnival of the kind of Americana that the conservative right throught it detected in Born in the U.S.A. This is American music first, rock second, and folk maybe second or third or fourth. Tracks like “Old Dan Tucker”, “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” and “Pay Me My Money Down” simply leap out of the speakers on the power of their ragged vocals, boogie-woogie pianos, banjos, fiddles, booming horn sections, a washboard (I think), Bruce shouting out live band directions and apparently several man-sized jugs of whiskey.

An idea hatched when Bruce contributed the song “We Shall Overcome” to a 1998 Pete Seeger tribute record, The Seeger Sessions was conceived as a new-millennium retelling of songs popularized by the folk icon, but it’s an album that’s about a thousand times more fun than that might suggest. (I’ll admit, the idea gave me initial pause, especially when a leak of “John Henry” revealed that its intro sounded exactly like the one to the theme of Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel). Springsteen insists in the liner notes that the idea was to capture not music being written but music being made. Hence, these tracks were laid down in just days, sans rehearsals, with 17 people who really didn’t know each other. The only E Streeters who got the call were the red-headed women: Soozie Tyrell, the violinist Bruce added for The Rising and the one who assembled the band, and Patti Scialfa, because otherwise, breakfasts at the Springsteen house would have probably been really awkward.

But this isn’t a hoary breathing of air into faded songs; this is a sonic transfusion on the order of the Mermaid Avenue records, its most obvious ancestors (though another is Mellencamp’s underrated Trouble No More), and Springsteen has an affinity for these songs you can almost taste. “Old Dan Tucker” is a soaring folk-rocker heavy on the second half of that description, “Jesse James” revs up quickly in telling the outlaw’s tale and “Froggie’ Went a Courtin’” is driven by percussion that seems to involve Bruce slapping his six-string. And the violin-powered “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” demands to be listened to at full volume, with Bruce simultaneously channels Tom Waits and history of gospel (yes, even in digging through the folk songbook, Bruce dug up another Mary. The man’s an animal!)

Smarty-pants writers and cable TV hosts may shuffle through We Shall Overcome looking for political over-or-undertones, but they’ll likely be disappointed. By now, even the corpse of Ronald Reagan knows Bruce is no longer keeping his politics secret, and throwing Pete Seeger into the mix certainly won’t entertain the aging chunk of his fan base that’s drifted to the red. But you’ll find no anti-Bush stuff on this record, nor even any the cautious, somewhat muted commentary of last year’s relatively rigid Devils and Dust (which, it should be noted, sounds about half as alive as this record does). When Bruce and band rev up the zydeco/Dixieland/French Quarter machine for a boom-pah version of “Jacob’s Ladder”, the music—like all New Orleans stuff these days, massive and jubilant and impossible to hear without a wave of melancholy—does the talking so Bruce doesn’t have to. That said, it’s fundamentally impossible to listen to tracks like “Mrs. McGrath”, an ancient Irish fable about a woman whose son loses half his body to war, and “My Oklahoma Home”, in which a man returns home to find his wife and crops blown away, and not draw reflexive parallels to Iraq and Katrina. “All foreign wars, I do proclaim/ Live on blood and a mother’s pain,” Springsteen sings in his singular crag in “Mrs. McGrath”, but he rather gently leaves it at that.

But this is probably several thousands words’ worth of more thinking than the project was intended to conjure up. What we have here is a side project, a toss-off, a lark. Springsteen’s studio work is so meticulously calculated, honed, edited and re-honed again (here’s a guy who by my unscientific count has junked at least six full records, and left his two most famous unreleased songs off of his four-disc outtake box), that hearing such a breezy, drinky effort is both fun as hell and a breath of fresh air. In many ways, it’s about time. (by Jeff Vrabel)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Kingblind Downloads

The Rolling Stones – Sympathy for the Devil (live altamont speedway 1969)
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Drive-By Truckers:: 2/24/06- The Orange Peel- Asheville, NC
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Bring Your Own Pet:: Bicycle, Bicycle You Are My Bicycle: CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

Bring Your Own Pet:: Adventure
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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Kingblind’s Favorite Finds

Jack Kerouac on TV late 50′s early 60′s
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50 worst things to happen in music
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RIP: Phil Walden
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Set of photos depicting NYC in the 80s.
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An Inconvenient Truth: Maybe the scariest movie ever.
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Kingblind SUPER Download Day

Zero 7:: The Garden (Featuring Jose Gonzalez & Sia)
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Bob Dylan/Johnny Cash – Ring Of Fire
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The Arcade Fire – Vampire Forest Fire
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Calexico – Cast Your Coat
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Feist – Mushaboom
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José González – Left Behind
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Animal Collective – Grass
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Beastie Boys : Jan. 23rd, 2006
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Sonic Youth- Rather Ripped 2006
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TV ON THE RADIO – “Return To Cookie Mountain”
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Liars:: Drums not Dead (LP)
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Monday, April 24, 2006

Islands:: Return To The Sea (Album Review)

I was a little late in hearing The Unicorns, and about one week after I’d finally gotten their Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? album, they broke up. They briefly reformed as Th’ Corn Gangg, a side-project with MCs Busdriver and Subtitle, then once again split, with two-thirds of the band forging on as Islands.

Having heard the goofy, somewhat sloppy pop of The Unicorns, I was caught off guard a bit by how polished Return From The Sea sounds. There are still some buzzing analogue synths and occasionally silly vocals, but there are also plenty of horns, woodwinds, some strings, and an absolutely huge step in terms of songwriting and instrumentation. It doesn’t take any longer than the first track for that to become apparent, as “Swans (Life After Death)” plays out for nearly ten minutes, opening with some strummy guitar and theremin-sounding keyboards before locking into a building verse and chorus that moves through several smooth progressions before dropping into a classic-rock inspired end section.

After the waltzing “Humans,” the album hits what is easily the best section starting with “Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby.” Clocking in at only two and a half minutes, the song is easily one of the most catchy on the entire album, mixing slightly morbid lyrics with infectious instrumentation. “Rough Gem” does its best to top the former track, blasting gloriously giddy synth-pop punctuated by strings and reeds that hit in all the right places.

From there, the group unleashes the great “Where There’s A Will, There’s A Whalebone,” a hip-hop influenced piece that starts out with swirling, almost proggy rock before locking into a great middle section that finds some Anticon-esque stream of consciousness vocals flowing before the track drops right back to where it started. Unafraid to mix styles even further, “Volcanoes” is a fun, country-inspired track that again finds the group rocking out for a nice ending. The album comes close to dragging a smidgen during the two slower tracks that close things out, but it’s at least partially due to their following on the heels of the rollicking rest of the disc. Regardless, this album is a great deal of fun, and is among my favorites of the year so far.

Kingblind Downloads

PJ Harvey Virgin Mega Store UK 29/9/98
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David Bowie – Live in Vancouver 1983- live at Pacific National Exhibition Coliseum, Vancouver, 12th September 1983.

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50 Foot Wave LIVE:: 4/24/06
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Friday, April 21, 2006

The Fiery Furnaces:: Bitter Tea (Album Review)

The Fiery Furnaces have changed, and it’s not you, it’s them. So prepare yourself, because Bitter Tea isn’t – deep breath now – Blueberry Boat, and we can most likely just stop hoping for another one. Instead, the Brooklyn-based sibling duo continues its experimentation with electronics; anyone turned off by last year’s octogenarian opera Rehearsing My Choir, recorded at the same time as Bitter Tea, will find little solace here. Guitars are mostly gone from this Friedberger affair; Matthew does keys, Eleanor sings, and drum beats provide the foundation. Once again there’s a tenuous storyline running through Eleanor’s rapid-fire lyrics. On the swoon-pop of “Black-Hearted Boy” she sings, “All the color’s gone out of my ribbon loom, as I’ve only got the worst to assume.” Contrast that with “I’m waiting to know you, far away; send up a balloon says write to me soon,” from the pretty doo-wop bounce of “I’m Waiting to Know You.” It’s a frustrating listen nevertheless; vocals run backward for entire songs, and “Borneo” and “Nevers” stretch and stretch and … you have to wipe the drool from your mouth. Is this the breakup album? Maybe we should see other bands? It’s just not working out. (by: AUDRA SCHROEDER)

Kingblind news that you can use

New label from Lookout! co-founder

John Lennon’s schoolbook sold for £126,500

Tapes ‘n Tapes Hit the Road with Figurines

Wurlitzer Adds iPod Dock to Jukebox line

Teens say they like vinyl records over CDs

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Kingblind news that you can use

Jandek to perform more shows
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The Raconteurs announce west coast shows
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The Walkmen announce summer tour
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Kingblind Downloads

David Bowie – Bowie at the Beeb (2CD) (1968-72)
CLICK TO DOWNLOAD PART 1 Password: chrisgoesrock.blogspot.com

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The Heavy Blinkers:: Try Telling That To My Baby
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Lambchop:: The Distance From Her to There
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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Drive-By Truckers:: A Blessing and a Curse (Album Review)

“Feb. 14”, the lead-off track on Drive-By Truckers’ sixth studio album, A Blessing and a Curse, is unlike any other song in the band’s catalog. It says what it wants to say early on—despite broken bottles on the floor and time not necessarily healing all wounds like the sages say it should, the narrator nonetheless begs “be my valentine”—and spends the rest of its running time reinforcing the sentiment. There’s no vivid scene being set, no extensive sequence of verses detailing characters and environments and Southern lore. It’s a simple rock song, pounded out in fist-tight quarter notes with a certain determined sobriety.

“Be my vallllennntiiiiine,” lead Trucker Patterson Hood sings, his voice haggard and sincere, squeezing every last drop out of his three thrifty words as if the sought-after answer required nothing but stamina. In this moment of economy and nearly meaningless persistence, Hood recalls the Replacements’ Paul Westerberg and his infamous two-decade-old “I’m so unsatisfied” howl. Like Westerberg, Hood’s three and a half minutes are all about leaving unquestionable impressions. He gets the job done.

If the Truckers succeed on this kind of visceral level, as they have made a habit of doing for a few albums now, they do so through gritted teeth. It’s a product of compromise: “Feb. 14”, and the entirety of A Blessing and a Curse, is an attempt to reconcile what was hoped to be with what is—in other words, preconceptions taken for granted are blighted by reality. This time around, there’s a concerted effort to get the heart of the matter with efficiency and clarity: unlike longwinded previous albums The Dirty South and the two-disc Southern Rock Opera, A Blessing and a Curse clocks in at a remarkably clean 45 minutes. For the Truckers (fueled, as always, by the three guitars and three pens of Hood, Mike Cooley, and Jason Isbell), it’s an abnormally concise record that also happens to be their least sloppy.

Furthermore, A Blessing and a Curse continues to distance itself from the Truckers’ “Lynyrd Skynyrd with a higher IQ” roots, drawing from both the aforementioned Replacements (“Wednesday”, with its to-the-hilt rhythm section, mines a more Pleased to Meet Me vibe) and the Rolling Stones for its rock ‘n’ roll sound. For the most polished record of their career, the Truckers couldn’t have picked more raggedy role models. “Aftermath USA”, for example, is characterized by dueling guitars that drunkenly nip at each other’s throats, one occasionally giving slack and sliding out of key. It’s a combination of the Glimmer Twins’ booze riffs and the bedhead disorientation of the ‘Mats, delivered with its clutter in check. Hood’s narrative of a confusing morning after (“there was cigarettes in the ashtrays and they weren’t your menthol lights”) soon bloats into the confrontation of a decimated reality; the “smell of musk and deception” begets financial ruin, decadence, and infidelity. Struck by betrayal, Hood’s narrator resolves to “break even soon”—funny, since you’d think he’d want to get even. But this disillusionment is bigger than the reason-for-revenge scenario that serves as its metaphor—as big, perhaps, as the country to which its title alludes. It requires a solution, one that may not even exist, to balance out the good with the bad. Then again, the narrator’s got crystal meth in the bathtub and blood in the sink, so maybe he just doesn’t know any better.

Cooley’s fantastic “Gravity’s Gone” is more Sticky Fingers-era slouch, a perfect mix of acoustic guitar strums with sharp-toothed electrics. Cooley, too, is writing from a perspective of a long-held perception (“I’ll meet you at the bottom if there really is one / They always told me when you hit it you’ll know it”) that, due to certain life experiences, needs retooling (“I’ve been falling so long it’s like gravity’s gone and I’m just floatin’”). Hood’s delayed response in the penultimate title track’s cyclonic minor chords: “When it all comes down there’ll be nothin’ left to catch you but ground.” One man’s odyssey is another man’s reality.

Isbell’s two forceful contributions, the Blue Öyster Cult-esque “Easy on Yourself” and “Daylight”, are the album’s slickest; his mastery of the ambiguously universal power anthem delivers songs that could have been huge hits in the ‘80s mainstream or ‘90s underground. The Truckers are focused here, more than they ever have been on record in the past—that doesn’t mean they’re not still prone to jam overkill (the six-minute “Goodbye” seems to betray the album’s unspoken rule of less-is-more) or thematic bludgeoning. “I was 27 when I figured out that blowin’ my brains out wasn’t the answer / So I decided that maybe I should find a way to make this world work out for me,” Hood narrates on “World of Hurt”, which is a redundant way of saying what his band has said for 40 minutes prior. But then, the album’s runtime, like life, is short. Best to leave an unquestionable impression. (by Zeth Lundy)

Kingblind Downloads

Drive-By Truckers: 2006-03-30, Haarlem
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The Futureheads: “Skip to the End”
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Animal Collective: 2006-03-19, Atlanta
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