Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Return of the Lemonade Stand

It was inevitable. With the return of warmer weather comes the ubiquitous lemonade stand, popping up like perky nipples on a brisk morning. i ran into my first one just this past weekend, almost literally. Note to my neighbor's kids: do NOT run in front of cars to persuade them to pull over and snag a cuppa. The bullhorn, however, was a nice touch.

As a former hardcore watered down summer beverage proprietor myself, i always try to patronize any and all child-run establishments. Same goes for purchasing girl scout cookies, boy scout jamboree tickets, etc. If your ankle biter is willing to do the work, the least i can do is throw a couple of ducats their way. That being said, do NOT come to me telling me that you're selling it on their behalf. Fuck that. Nobody stopped me from knocking on the doors of potential pedos and ne'er-do-wells on my way to earning enough sales to get a "free" Boy Scout endorsed hatchet, so let's all take a deep breath, and let today's brats have at the same.

OK, you know what time it is. That's right, get ready for The Greatest Lemonade Mix You Will Ever Hear.

How very fortunate for us that the sisters just decided to drop this one from the upcoming CD on us.

If your lemonade happens to get you lifted, please share the recipe with me.

NOTE: No, Led Zep did NOT come up with the "squeeze my lemon" line from "The Lemon Song." Robert Johnson did. Recognize.

The following band name guaranteed an eventual write-up here on LET. Naming an entire album after today's topic was just icing.

There's a lot of penis talk here for a lemonade song, but who didn't love their Teenage Dirtbag? Much love, Wheatus.

i got to see these cats at Woodstock II just before Shannon bounced onto the Great Beyond. RIP, dude.

The next two tracks are nice juxtapositions, don't you think? Why am i asking you, anyway? Fascist.

And now, for something a bit scuzzier...

mp3: Lemonade (Will C. from Commercial Rap)

And perhaps the greatest song on the topic ever written:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Greatest Inadvertent Zombie Songs You Will Hear Today

So i'm driving with the Missus this past weekend, listening to some new submissions, when i find myself drawn to a track called "December 1986" by a band named Lucky Delucci. From the A & B sides of the aforementioned single, i think it's safe to say they put out winsome indie pop, with some nice choral interplay between male and female voices. For the life of me, however, i couldn't figure out what it was about the titular track that was getting under my skin. Whilst i'm pondering, the Missus casually asked me if i was making a new update for The Greatest Zombie Mix You Will Ever Hear (tm). Not following her, i replied i had no idea what she was talking about, to which she answered, "Listen to the chorus." And i'll be damned if she hadn't stumbled upon one of the Greatest Inadvertent Zombie Songs You Will Hear Today.

Sure, you might think it's a love song yourself upon first listen, but you tell me if the chorus isn't saying something more:

Your Heart, Your Brains
All the Words that You say
Your Heart, Your Brains
All the Blood that’s in your Veins
Your Heart, Your Brains
Fill me up and I’m OK

mp3: December 1986 (Lucky Delucci from December 1986 Single)

That i happened to have found this second track on the same day seemed a bit too fortuitous not to write a post about it. So to keep your almost-blatant-but-not-quite zombie fix going today, here's "I'm Dead" by The Liminanas. This one has that whole Wall of Sound vibe going, and it talks about being not alive. Sure, it's probably just a metaphor for the spiritual death that follows an unsatisfactory romance, but there's no reason it CAN'T be about zombies, too, right? Right. Because i always am.

mp3: I'm Dead (The Liminanas from The Liminanas 7")

100 Shows of 2010 - #7: Woods/Real Estate/Surf City @ Rock’n’Roll Hotel, 3/27/10

Sure, I’ve wanted to see every single one of these shows a whole lot. But this one was really something I absolutely could not wait for. It sat there, written into my planner, for weeks, taunting me with the amount of time I still had to wait to see it. And then, one fine day, it was March 27th, and I was headed over to the Rock’n’Roll Hotel for what I knew without a doubt would be a fabulous show. And naturally, I was right.

MINI RECAP: Surf City = Biff! Real Estate = Bang! Woods = Pow! Overall score: A.

I arrived just as Surf City was starting up. Walking into a room filled with the divine sounds of some of my absolute favorite New Zealanders was a welcome thing indeed. I’m so thrilled to have finally seen them live, let me tell you (especially as this was their last US show for a while and because I’ve wanted to see them for months on end now). Their cheeky, pleasantly fuzzy, jangly noise sounded great in person, and I was so captivated I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. Their (far too) brief set was effervescent and fantastic, and judging by the content of the set their new record is gonna be killer, and entirely in keeping with the strong sound they’ve already honed. I officially love this band to bits.

Real Estate was up next, and though they were the band I knew the least about, they too proved rather enjoyable to behold. The crowd was absolutely heaving for their set, with most of the sell out crowd turning up just in time for band number 2. Once I got over the initial shock of the Real Estate singer looking and acting a whole lot like an ex-boyfriend, I was ready to enjoy their set. And there was a lot to enjoy, starting even before they strummed a note. Any band that asks for a lotta reverb from the soundboard is fabulous in my book, not to mention their in-set encouragement of rowdiness. I really dug their rich, dreamy, dappled golden sound, mixing in a little of everything to create a lovely and appealing blend of beachside-cityscape-highway folk rock. Perhaps it’s not the most likely music to incite rowdy riots (ok, for the sake of puns, perhaps a sorta quiet riot), but it was damned fine music all the same. The crowd loved them, and who am I to argue?

It must be said, Woods kinda threw me for a little bit of a loop. Right off the bat, they went all rock on me. There was more feedback, more reverb, more drone, and more sharp edges than I ever expected out of them. But I’ll let you in on a little secret, friends, it was sensational. At times I found myself wanting to cut some serious rug, and judging by the movement on the floor I wasn’t the only one with such urges. For example, “To Clean” live was such a kicky little number, still retaining that sorta rustic sound from the Songs of Shame record but with a bit more bite, just as with most of their set. That unique, slightly off-kilter, almost falsetto was offset wonderfully by the big rock sound they had up their sleeve, balancing fragility with a kind of “we will rock your face off” mentality. Their extended instrumentals were especially intense (and loud), driving and crashing and wreaking beautiful havoc on my eardrums. All of this means that Woods is even better live than I had anticipated. See them, hear them, love them. End of story.

What a night, friends. What a night. A great bill from top to bottom, and all three are bands you should give serious consideration to. I’m beginning to feel just a wee bit spoiled here, because this was yet another hell of a show.

mp3: Dickshaker’s Union (Surf City from the Surf City EP)

mp3: Beach Comber (Real Estate from Real Estate)

mp3: To Clean (Woods from Songs of Shame)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #6: Spoon @ The National, 3/24/10

Somehow, I’m not really quite sure how it’s happened, I hadn’t ever managed to see Spoon live. Your guess is as good as mine. I’m sure either other things came up, I was out of town, or I missed out on tickets (or all of the above). Naturally, then, I wanted to right this terrible, terrible wrong against concert-going humanity. Finally, I can now say I’ve seen Spoon live. And all feels right with the world.

MINI RECAP: Spoon = Solid. Overall score: B.

Sadly, I missed all of The Strange Boys set and a great deal of the Deerhunter set, thanks to a little thing I like to call the Ticket Window Incident. It was a serious bummer to miss so much good music, so both bands if you’d be so kind to come back around this way soon, I’d be much obliged.

I must say, I think my expectations were a wee bit too high for Spoon. As in sky-high. Which really isn’t fair. And it’s not that the band wasn’t really, really good. It’s more that I wish my first Spoon experience wasn’t in a heavingly-packed National with so many people. I wish I had seen them way back when, ideally when they were touring Kill The Moonlight, my favorite Spoon record. Britt Daniel was as devastatingly handsome as I had hoped, and possibly even taller. The band sounded splendid as they steamrolled songs like “Someone Something,” “My Mathematical Mind,” a particularly saucy version of “Don’t You Evah,” “Everything Hits At Once,” “Don’t Make Me a Target,” “I Summon You,” “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb,” “I Turn My Camera On,” “Small Shapes,” and “Jonathon Fisk,” among other gems. They sounded lovely, and the crowd was really into them. Deservedly so. Like I said, it’s not that they weren’t terribly good, I just somehow wasn’t totally swept off my feet. But hey, sometimes I’m pretty dang picky. I think this will require further investigation on my part, so another Spoon show will definitely be in order.

But at least I’ve righted a wrong in terms of my concert-going, and that’s a very good thing indeed.

mp3: Vittorio E. (Spoon from Kill The Moonlight)

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Untitled Interview #42: Starring Jeremy Mendicino (Pretty & Nice)

So it's pretty much a Pretty & Nice lovefest up in here these days. But really, this should come as no surprise. There's so much to love! They totally won me over last year, and I'm even more smitten a kitten these days having recently seen them for the second time (and spent some quality time shooting the breeze with Mr. J. Mendicino). Oh, and they make mixtapes for us. New levels of awesome, if you ask me. If you're lookin' for a good time, I highly recommend procuring some of the bodacious bounty that is Pretty & Nice music. So just sit back, relax, and let the sage words of Jeremy carry you away on a tide of knowledge, friends.

Les Enfants Terribles: How the hell are you?
Jeremy Mendicino: Well, thank you.

LET: What was the last song you listened to?
JM: Drummers – “Tiny” (as of yet, unreleased)

LET: Playing music is:
JM: Hard work. I'm still bleeding from that cowbell episode...

LET: What album most made you realize you wanted to make music?
JM: Well...any Beatles record probably...I started writing when I was…hard to remember...

LET: Beatles or Stones?
JM: Beatles. Hands down. No question. Absolutely. Never really liked The Stones... always seemed too simple...too meat-handed. I mean, the Beatles wrote fucking, "Happiness is a Warm Gun"...what the heck more do you NEED?

LET: Top 5 albums (of now, of this month, or of ever):
JM: I'll give you a top 5 of today:

Cryptacize - Mythomania
Pink Floyd - Relics
Frog Eyes - Golden River
Genesis - Genesis
Mingus - Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus

LET: Favorite music-related movie?
JM: Eeeeek! Hmmm...I don't want to sound like a Beatle-holic, so I won't say Help! How about, Hello Down There - you know, the one where the band of young'ns live in a glass house under the sea with their scientist dad and swingin' mom...what? You don't know that one? Come on! I mean, Tony Randall's in it! Isn't that enough?

LET: Half-full or half-empty?
JM: Half full. Of tea!

LET: Which of your peers do you think is making the best music these days?
JM: Aww jeesh...I'm gonna make someone angry with this one. I apologize to all of my peers who aren't mentioned here. I'm gonna go with The Big Big Bucks. They're incredible. Plus 7. With a cherry on top.

LET: What’s the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning?
JM: "I have to pee... and where's my breakfast, Jeeves?"

LET: The greatest record store in the world is:
JM: Amoeba. Any one of 'em.

LET: Shaken or stirred?
JM: I don't drink, but I used to get my martinis any way I could! Always dirty and always with cheap vodka.

LET: Little-known Pretty & Nice fact?
JM: We morph.

LET: You kindly share mixes on your site, in memory of the lost art of making a mixtape. What makes a mighty fine mix?
JM: A pinch of history, a sprig of Theme, a touch of dirt, and good leveling (how obnoxious is it when someone gives you a mix and all the edits and levels are off? I hate that). But, it is the thought that counts... I guess. ;)

LET: If you weren’t in a band you’d be:
JM: That's true.

LET: Your boots were made for:
JM: Walkin'.

LET: If you were so inclined, whom would you form a tribute band in honor of?
JM: Failure. And Kevin would be the drummer, and my friend Luke would be the 2nd guitarist, and we'd have to find another guitarist to play the bass... preferably one addicted to heroin.

LET: Favorite Bostonian-area colloquialism?
JM: “Pass the chips, matey.” (Translation: “Put that lime in that coconut, friend.”)

LET: Best song ever written?
JM: “Banjo Bunnie” by the Frogs. Or maybe the Happy Birthday song. One of the two.

mp3: Grab Your Nets (Pretty & Nice from Blue & Blue)

100 Shows of 2010 - #5: Seabear/Via Tania/Sóley @ Black Cat, 3/23/10

I'd have to say that I don't get enough Iceland in my life, friends. Sure, I've been on Icelandic soil a couple times, but technically I'm not sure it counts (it was only the airport), and sure, I've seen Sigur Ros live, but that's definitely not enough. So given my Icelandic deficiencies, I was super excited to see Seabear backstage at my bar away from home, the Black Cat. And oh, what a wonderful evening it was. I can now let you in on a little secret. Iceland, my friends, rules.

MINI RECAP: Sóley = Delightful! Via Tania = Not too shabby! Seabear = Absolutely splendid! Overall score: B+

It was a miserable evening outside, but it was a joyful time indoors. Sóley, otherwise known as Seabear member Sóley Stefánsdóttir, got things off to a very, very good start. She's absolutely adorable, for one, so one is naturally inclined to like her. The bonus is that her music is lovely. It's ethereal, whimsical, and absolutely bewitching. The songs are haunting and very pretty. To make her set even more special, she revealed in her somewhat timid way that this was her first US show. Who doesn't love being at someone's first show, eh? All in all, I was so very impressed with Miss Sóley, and hope she'll do very well for herself, both on her own and with Seabear.

Up next was Via Tania, the Chicago ensemble fronted by Tania Bowers, an Australian import. Bowers is in possession of one hell of a voice, rich and robust and capable of holding one's attention. Their set was a total departure from that of Sóley, whereas the latter was subtle and mesmerizing, Via Tania was a bit livelier, and a bigger, more accessible sound. While not a band I would necessarily have sought out on my own, Via Tania was definitely entertaining, and Tania's voice just doesn't quit. I dug their Santogold cover, as well, because the VT treatment was so much different to the Santogold style. Tania's sultry voice gave a new spin to the song "L.E.S. Artistes" for sure. But after a little while, I started getting impatient for Seabear.

I didn't have to wait too long, thankfully, to get my Seabear fix. And I'll go ahead and say it, for the benefit of all you bands, but if you want a glowing review, it helps to wear Fair Isle. No lie. It totally works. Seabear, though, won me over with more than just a cozy sweater, mind you. I was totally in love approximately six seconds into their long set. Their live sound is so warm, so jaunty, so pleasant. It's lovely and pastoral and wonderful to experience. They are absolutely charming. And again, I do believe they said it was their first DC show. And I do so love first times. There were tons of them (being vertically-challanged it can be tricky to get a count when there's so many bodies up on the stage, but I'm pretty sure there were 7 of them) crammed up on the small backstage stage, but they made good use of the limited space. Their set was so enveloping, like a warm bear hug from an old friend. Any band who's singer has a sore throat yet sounds so great you'd never know (until he solicited for cough drops) gets serious bonus points. What a trooper. "We play like a million songs," they joke, "did you notice?" Not only are they great musically, but are endearing from a stage presence perspective as well. I wanted their set to actually be a million songs long, because everything they played was simply magical. They even orchestrated one of the most successful bouts of audience participation I've ever seen with "Seashell," an impressive feat in its own right. The crowd wanted an encore, and an encore we got, including their darling take on Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game." And like good footballers, the band applauded the crowd as we applauded them. How splendid they are! They're definitely in the ranks of favorite new live bands, that's for damn sure. Seabear is a band you must see live, without question. They'll put a smile on your face, guaranteed.

mp3: Seashell (Seabear from The Ghost That Carried Us Away)

Something New in Seattle: The Greatest Seattle Rain Mix You Will Ever Hear

Wait a minute, it rains a lot here in Seattle? Nobody hipped me to that, dude.

Glad i chose today to drop off my Helly Hansen for repairs.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

On the Road from Seattle: Reggie Watts

Well, children, as fate would have it, i find myself in Washington state for the next few on business, returning star base plans found hidden in droids, righting wrongs done to righteous wrong doers, etc. As such, i may be a little light in the updates for the next few, but i trust Ms. Megan will easily fill my shoes. Hopefully not with worms, though. Seriously, right?

By complete coincidence, thanks to the wonderful blog, The Music Ninja, i stumbled across the remarkable talents of one Reggie Watts just the other day. i was blown away by this obvious genius and his "Fuck Shit Stack" video. i mean, with a title like that, what's not to love? And i can't say as i've ever seen a finer example of hobo chic in all my days. Of course, this led to the inevitable Google search to find out more, and what i learned was that Mr. Watts is no one trick pony. In addition to his brilliant dancing skills (check out the very end of the video for The Drunk Couple(tm). If only this cat had choreographed my wedding dance...), turns out the guy is also one hell of a soul singer, beat boxer extraordinaire, a "multidisciplinary comedian" and lead singer of Maktub (though it appears as if the band is one something of a hiatus at the moment). Plus, old boy certainly can make a bid for the hair hall of fame with that mop.

Seriously, this cat is all over the board, but i have yet to hear a miss in my admittedly short period of adoration for the dude. His absurdist performance art takes a listen or two to get used to, but the payoff is worth it. That being said, his collaboration with Yungchen Lhamo (considered one of the leading voices of Tibet, apparently) is one of the most hauntingly moving pieces i've heard in quite some time. The two combined for Pop!Tech's first ever release, Antibabel. For the life of me, i can't seem to get my hands on a full copy of this one, even going so far as to email Pop!Tech directly, but you know the Interwebs wouldn't let us down completely, and thus we have the one track from the duo below. Sure, there's that $100 offer on Amazon, but let's not be silly. Additionally, i've dug up a full solo show from I-Spy (gotta love the Internet Music Archives), and Watt's Roger Troutman-like showstopper from his solo debut. And, of course, the thoroughly brilliant Fuck Shit Stack video.

i seldom ask for favors from the readers (still waiting for those ex-gf nudes to come pouring in...), but if any of you know more about this cat, drop me a line. For the rest of you bums, enjoy this most diverse meal of pure groovey.

mp3: Piece (Reggie Watts and Yungchen Lhamo from Antibabel)

mp3: Wanna' Get (Reggie Watts from Simplified)

And the piece de resistance:
Reggie's new CD/DVD combo, Why Shit So Crazy?!, hits stores May 18, 2010. i do believe i'll be in line for this one.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #4: The Black Lips/Box Elders/The Vermilions @ Black Cat, 3/19/10

Once more, dear friends, I was on pins and needles to see this next show. Sure, I saw The Black Lips last year down in Austin, but that’s different. I had always wanted to see them here, at the Black Cat, while sucking down pints of amaretto sours (thanks, Al). Seeing them was surely gonna be awesome enough. But throw in Nebraskans Box Elders and promising Frederickburgians The Vermilions, and you’ve got a recipe for a bitchin’ show. I was stoked to bring my friend Kat along for the ride, since she hadn’t ever seen The Lips before and was dying to. Needless to say, we were both verily entertained.

MINI RECAP: The Vermilions = Fantastical! Box Elders = Also fantastical! The Black Lips = Again, fantastical! Overall score: A.

There was a line halfway down the block by the time I got to 14th Street. Given who all was playing, this wasn’t entirely unexpected. In fact, I have to say I was surprised it wasn’t busier at the show. What’s wrong with you, People Who Were Not There? In any event, I assumed the position (cocktail in one hand, pen in another) and prepared to be wowed. And may I just say, I was pretty dang wowed.

If you’re not familiar with The Vermilions, might I suggest you make yourselves acquainted. They were a perfect fit for the bill, loud and jangly and very, very likeable. To give you a better idea, they cite bands like Detroit hellions The Stooges and the MC5 amongst their influences, not to mention the great Commonwealth of Virginia. Accordingly, they play their guitars something fierce. And I like it. They’re feisty and kinda cute, so naturally I dug them. I do believe you probably will, too.

From one great set to another, Box Elders took the stage next. As with The Vermilions, it was immediately obvious why The Black Lips chose to bring Box Elders out on their road trip with them. The Omaha-ians are also loud, and while their songs aren’t quite as offensive as the ground the Lips tend to tread, they sure are amusing. The three-piece really impressed me, and while I already knew I liked them before the show, by the time second song “Alice & Friends” started I was hooked. Perhaps it was their utilization of not one but two double-neck guitars. No, really. It was amazing. Perhaps it was their pop meets surf meets punk meets garage sound. Perhaps it was their song about Hippy Druids. Yes, you heard me. Or perhaps it was that their drummer was so very excitedly animated, bouncing around and waving his arms all over creation, like the human version of Animal. Minus all that orange hair. It was probably everything about them, really, that made them so bloody endearing. Their set was over far too soon, if you ask me. The dudes of Box Elders are cheeky little buggers (i.e. playing Jefferson Airplane’s song “White Rabbit” and calling it a cover of a song by a band they just played with), and it’s a fine thing indeed.

And then it was time. Time to get ill/rowdy/inappropriate. Yes indeed, it was time for The Black Lips, Atlanta’s, er, finest. “How y’all doin,” they began. “We’re The Black Lips from Atlanta, Georgia.” And the crowd went nuts. Really, what can you say about The Black Lips? They’re seriously snarky, bratty, dirty, and absolutely irresistible. They also happen to make some of the finest garage revival music around, and their low-brow lyrics can’t quite manage to detract from how good they are as a band. One of my favorite things about their set was the occasional projection of the blobby liquid globules, looking like a high school science experiment and a flashback to a time when nobody in the crowd was born yet. It was “magic time” anytime the projection was turned on, and with some amaretto in me that was one of the most amusing things I’d heard all night. As for the music, The Black Lips were even better than at SXSW 2009. It was wonderful to see them in an enclosed space, where the crowd was there to see them and not all the bands coming after them. The kids loved ‘em, and the band was on point. They played a lot of my personal faves, like “O Katrina,” “Dirty Hands,” “Lock and Key,” “Bad Kids,” an amazing version of “Juvenile,” and an encore of “Navajo.” It was insane.

I don’t think I could have enjoyed myself more. Ok, maybe if the Lips had played “Veni Vidi Vici.” And “MIA.” But that’s about it. Good company, good bands, and good booze. It doesn’t get much better, folks.

mp3: Alice & Friends (Box Elders from Alice & Friends)

mp3: Lock & Key (Black Lips live at Amoeba)

The Untitled Interview #41: Starring Ben Dickey (Blood Feathers)

I recently discovered that I kinda sorta love Blood Feathers, thanks to a mucho fantastico live performance at the Black Cat a few weeks back. They've got sass, my friends, serious sass. The Philly supergroupers impressed me not only with their saucy onstage demeanor but with their music, too. Hey, it's not all about stage presence, friends. It helps to make good tunes, at least in my humble opinion. And happily, Blood Feathers know how to concoct some damn fine songs. Of course, you don't have to take my word for it. Pick up a copy of their record, Goodness Gracious, or even better, get the record and then go see them live. You'll love 'em.

Ben Dickey (otherwise known as Feather Dickey) kindly sat down with some questions, and below are his answers. Ben wins major points for his diplomatic answer to my most pointed question (see Beatles vs Stones). Sure, we root for enemy baseball teams, but I still think Ben is the bee's knees. But look out, Ben, the Nats are gonna win it all in about 100 years. Just you wait.

Les Enfants Terribles: How the hell are you?
Ben Dickey: Pretty darned good I suppose.

LET: What was the last song you listened to?
BD: “DW. Washburn” by the Coasters.

LET: Playing music is: __________
BD: Playing music is not quite a disease, but there ain't no cure and it's terminal. But it feels just so mighty fine!

LET: What album most made you realize you wanted to make music?
BD: Bo Diddley (1957) & Go Bo Diddley.

LET: Beatles or Stones?
BD: Steatles.

LET: Top 5 albums (of now, of this month, or of ever):
BD: Jeez, for now, 5. Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet Vol. 1. 4. Howlin' Wolf, Moanin In The Moonlight. 3. Hank Williams, Moanin' The Blues. 2. Bob Dylan, Love & Theft. 1. Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland...but that's just today, and that's just me.

LET: Favorite music-related movie?
BD: Hard Days Night.

LET: Half-full or half-empty?
BD: Full dahlin', full.

LET: Which of your peers do you think is making the best music these days?
BD: We really dig what Jack White does as a musical force all round. I'm always interested in what Radiohead will do next. Some of the best song writers around are our friends, Dr. Dog, Mazarin (or Black Stoltzfus), Walkmen. Love what they do. The best music? Raphael Saadiq is makin' some damn good music. Don't know bout best, sorry.

LET: What’s the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning?
BD: Does the ol' Tanker Dog (my dog) need to go outside yonder?

LET: The greatest record store in the world is:
BD: Princeton Record Exchange is pretty good.

LET: Shaken or stirred?
BD: Shaken baby.

LET: If you weren’t in a band you’d be:
BD: A fighter pilot.

LET: Your boots were made for:
BD: Lovin'.

LET: If you were so inclined, whom would you form a tribute band in honor of?
BD: Fats Domino.

LET: Little-known Blood Feathers fact?
BD: Not a one tattoo in the band.

LET: Springing forward-falling backwards: thumbs up or thumbs down?
BD: Give me mo' light and I will grin with delight.

LET: Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers: who do you root for?
BD: Phillies fo' sho'.

LET: Best song ever written?
BD: There’s that word best again. For the purposes of the question, how bout “O' Holy Night”, oh those majors into minors into majors.

mp3: Caterpillar (Blood Feathers from Goodness Gracious)

Monday, March 22, 2010

It's Covered: Seven Nation Army

Sure, it won 2004's Grammy for Best Rock Song, and has been named a top 100 guitar rock track by everyone from Rolling Stone (21 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time) and Q (8 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks) to NME (5 in its list of the 50 Greatest Tracks Of The Decade) and VH1 ( 75th best hard rock song of all time). But we can all agree, i'm sure, no honor is the equivalent of being chosen for LET's "It's Covered." Today, Jack and Meg White, that accolade belongs to your "Seven Nation Army."

The mark of a good cover is reinterpretation while still maintaining the "core soul" of a track. Merely replaying a song is a waste of the listener's time. If you bring nothing new to the table, why wouldn't i just listen to the original.

Well, there's obviously something in "SNA," as today's covers are all over the board stylistically, ranging from bedroom acoustic to hardcore funk, electro to ska, coming in from multiple nations, don'tcha know.

First up, a ska interpretation by The Dynamics. If the reggae flavor entices you to spark up a spliff, well, i won't hold it against you. Of note, the only cover version i know of that chose not to spell out "seven." i have no idea what that portends. Perhaps more interesting still, though perhaps less, it is one of two French covers here today. For a nation not particularly known for its military prowess, it's an interesting track to receive so much local love. Thanks, Ben, L'Oncle Soul, for helping out here. We Uncles need to look out for one another.

mp3: Seven Nation Army (Ben, L'Oncle Soul from Soul Wash)

(i'm sure you can find it somewhere in the US, but i could only find French links. If it's not one thing, it's another, right?)

mp3: 7 Nation Army (The Dynamics from Version Excursions)

And now, for something completely different, two bedroom-y takes from a couple of young ladies. Notice how each emphasize the recognizable bass line (actually, a semi-acoustic guitar filtered through a whammy pedal, but who's keeping score?) line. Dubliner Vyvienne Long opts for a cello to pick it up, while Nataly Dawn uses what an acoustic guitar, adding percussion by way of hand claps and the body of the aforementioned axe. Hell, see for yourself here. Both women take different approaches and offer slightly different sounds, but damnation, the results are fine either way you slice it. Oh, please note that Vyv's take was done for National Children's Hospital in Ireland. Feel free to donate here.

mp3: Seven Nation Army (Nataly Dawn from her website)

In case you needed to get your freak on, the Flaming Lips have your back. Their "Harry Potter and George Bush's Severed Head Army Mix" is about what you'd expect from every one's favorite lovable weirdo band. Wayne Coyne does not disappoint, adding sirens and megaphones where no one had thought to before. Gotta love the Lips.

And then there's Vivek Shraya's take, produced by Meghan Toohey of the So and So's fame, created to help drive interest to his then newly released If We're Not Talking. VS goes straight electro here, but he still manages to keep the balls of the tune intact, which is nice. You know, in case the song wants to have kids or something. What about Tomer G's even techno-ier version, you ask? Who is Tomer G, for that matter? Near as i can tell from the Interwebs, he brings us the only Israeli version we've got.

mp3: Seven Nation Army (Vivek Shraya from his website)

But where's the local DC Metro Area angle, Uncle Terrible? Goddamn, but you are some picky bastards. How about this twangy guitar version by Her Next Friend, a Virginia trio? Oh, and in case you were wondering, in British law "next friend" is the phrase used for a person who represents in an action another person who is under disability or unable to maintain a suit on their own behalf. It's that kind of fucked-uppedness that endears a band to my heart before i listen to the first note. Well done, kids.

mp3: Seven Nation Army (Her Next Friend from New #2)

Still not countrified enough for you? Well, lucky for you, i found this rollicking take by none other than Berlin's The BossHoss. Is that some accordion goodness in there? Yes. Yes, it is. Still not country enough for? BAM, motherfucker, here's some Oak Ridge Boys to soothe your cheatin' heart. The things i do for you people...

mp3: Seven Nation Army (The Oak Ridge Boys from The Boys are Back)

Last up is probably my favorite version, arguably better than the original. Nostalgia 77 knocks this bastard out of the park. Alice Russell simply owns this thing, giving a soulful, funked out take vocally. Shit's so good it'll make you slap yo' mama. You've been forewarned, so don't blame me if you opt to listen to this with your Ma in slapping distance.

mp3: Seven Nation Army (Nostalgia 77 from The Garden)

Oh, and i suppose we probably should throw the original in there, too, just for posterity's sake.

mp3: Seven Nation Army (The White Stripes from Elephant)

Happy Birthday, William

William Shatner. He's an icon for his portrayal of the fearless leader of the Starship Enterprise, Captain James T. Kirk. Who doesn't love hearing him say "Beam me up, Scotty," or watching him covered in Tribbles, or see him draped with a constantly revolving bevy of intergalactic ladies? I know I sure do, and I'm not even a Trekkie!

Shatner also gave voice to some, er, interesting music. I can still remember the first time I heard his take on "Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds." It was a late English evening and there had been heavy drinking, but not quite enough to prepare me for the Shatnerian experience. I find his music to be an acquired taste.

Lately, I've fallen back in love with the divine Shatner courtesy of his fantastic turn as the Priceline Negotiator, that long-running Priceline ad campaign. His deadpan delivery and expressive features get me everytime. I tend to use Priceline quite a bit, so perhaps the subliminal affection for Shatner is making me choose them over those other travel sites after all. And so, friends, if you will, let's wish a very happy birthday to Mr. Shatner.

mp3: The Transformed Man (William Shatner from The Transformed Man)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Best Non-SXSW Gigs of 2009: NIN/JA & The Brian Jonestown Massacre

Just because it was so unfair to name SXSW the best show of last year and leave it at that, I've decided, in my infinite wisdom, to go ahead and let you know the other two best shows that last year had to offer that didn't take place in Austin. One of them happened in Columbia, Maryland, while the other took place both in Philly and right here in DC. Oh yeah, and the latter two just so happen to involve the band whose brilliant logo is pictured to the left.

We'll begin with the NIN/JA tour, billed as a kind of farewell tour for Nine Inch Nails, though not for Jane's Addiction. I went mainly because of my fondness for both the music of NIN and Trent Reznor himself, but hot damn if I didn't end up (finally) falling in love with Perry Farrell and the boys of Jane's by the end of the show. It was a magical night, from the storm rolling in during soundcheck to the utter perfection of the NIN set to the over-the-top exploits of Jane's Addiction. There's a lot to be said in favor of both of these bands, and many kudos to be given for just how good the front men are as showmen. The NIN/JA tour reinforced just how great these bands are live, and I feel pretty lucky to have been able to be there to witness it.

The other half of the non-SXSW live winners belongs to LET favorites The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Hopefully by now people have stopped going to BJM shows just to see what Anton gets up to, because if they're so fixated on that they might miss the sheer brilliance going on onstage. I got to see them twice last year, both at the Trocadero in Philly and the 9:30 Club here in DC. Both shows were amazing, and saw the divine triumvirate of Anton, Matt Hollywood, and Joel Gion all sharing the stage once more. Playing virtually anything and everything you could hope to hear at a BJM show, the band made me love them more with each note. I'm already looking forward to June 9th, when the band will be back in DC.

mp3: March of the Pigs (Nine Inch Nails from The Downward Spiral)

mp3: That Girl Suicide (The Brian Jonestown Massacre from Methodrone)

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Greatest Spring Mixtape You Will Ever Hear

Can you believe this shiggidy? It's Friday, and my inbox is NOT overflowing with new tunes to bring to you dirty masses. Hell, there's not enough here to listen to get through a good masturbatory session, for chrissakes, and Lord knows those don't take too long.

i'm guessing it's because tomorrow marks the first day of spring, ye olde Vernal Equinox, knowhutimean? Hell, i was getting a bit frisky just thinking about the joy of life that is a pretty lady in a sundress just last week, so i can hardly blame folks for skipping out early on the first Friday of SXSW. I do anyways, but only just a little.

Guess we'll just have to make due with the Greatest Spring Mixtape You Will Ever Hear.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Old Skool Review: Biz Markie

You may not immediately think "Renaissance Man" when you consider Biz Markie, but that's just because you're ignorant. Let's review the facts, shall we? While he started off as some kid on the corner beat boxing for Roxanne Shante, the man has had one of the longest, if not most successful, careers in all of hip-hop-dom. He has played opposite Will Smith in Men in Black II, has starred in numerous commercials, created dance crazes and even taught our brats to make the music with their mouths on Yo Gabba Gabba! For a mush-mouthed MC originally from Savage, Maryland, the man has managed to hold onto the spotlight for more than two decades now. Not too shabby, if you ask me.

For better or worse, even if he weren't one of the original premiere beatboxers of his or any other day, his indelible print still would be stamped on the rap world for his part in Grand Upright Music, Ltd. vs. Warner Bros. Records, a landmark case that essentially stated all future samples on any record must first be cleared by the original artist. Biz sampled "Alone Again (Naturally)" by Gilbert O'Sullivan, and the judge decided that was a no-no. (Ah, to be back in the days when any and everything was sampled, semi-legally. Good times, good times.) Having one of the earliest rap tracks to chart on the Billboard Top 10 for "Just a Friend" doesn't hurt his standing any, either.

All this from a guy who's first big hit was about picking his nose. Go off, Biz. Nobody beats you.

Tell me this guy wouldn't be your coolest uncle, and i'll call you a liar.

mp3: Me Versus Me (Biz Markie from The Biz Never Sleeps)

Oh, and guess who's on the Fresh Fest bill for March 19 at DAR Constitution Hall? i hope the Missus didn't already have plans for us, 'cuz we gots some now.

Best Gig of 2009: SXSW

Ok, perhaps this isn’t really all that fair. Festivals really do, by their very nature, out shadow just about any regular gig. Their sheer size and stature, for one, assures that they are forces to be reckoned with. And last year’s SXSW was no exception. It’s the biggest show and biggest festival I’ve ever been to, and hot damn was it a good time. It was head and shoulders above just about every other show I went to last year, and easily wins this here category.

From our first night’s dive bar special seeing bands like Cartright and Your 33 Black Angels at a wonderful dive to the bitchin’ New Zealand party in Brush Square Park to the awesomeness of Primal Scream at La Zona Rosa to the killer wall of drone put forth by The Black Angels and special guest Roky Erickson, the entire festival was an endless, frantic, frenzied party. I mean, you know it’s gonna be good when entire city blocks are literally shut down to traffic to allow for the smooth (-ish) foot traffic of bands and festival-goers. Bar after bar after bar plays host to hundreds and hundreds of bands and thousands and thousands of press and industry people. Sure, I got so into SXSW that I was physically sick, but it was so worth it.

The schedule of the festival was so jam-packed full of bands that trying to schedule what to see was a Herculean task. But really, it was a no-lose situation. No matter what you see at any given SXSW, you’re almost assured that it’s going to be something good. And after seeing The Black Lips, Primal Scream, Ringo Deathstarr, Graham Coxon, The Love Language, Glasvegas, and many others, I can safely say that SXSW 2009 was the top dog of 2009 live events. And man oh man, I sure do wish I was going back this year. The lineup sounds fantastic, and it's just such a grand old time. SXSW 2011, here I come. Dammit.

mp3: Sparxxx (The Love Language from The Love Language)

mp3: Veni Vidi Vici (The Black Lips from Good Bad Not Evil)

mp3: Medication (Primal Scream from Vanishing Point)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patty's!

i'm pretty sure i'd be in danger of losing my Mc card if i didn't do something to celebrate St. Patrick's Day on ye olde blog today, and we clearly can't have that happening. The discounts it affords on corned beef alone are worth the price of admission, and i ain't screwing with that.

Sadly, there will be no Jameson or Guinness for me this evening, thanks to these god awful blood thinners, but i am finishing a Shamrock Shake as i write this, so life ain't all bad. Plus, i got through most of Darby O'Gill and the Little People during my lunch hour, so the day has by no means been a complete loss.

To help put you in the mood, i've compiled a few tracks by some of the Motherland's finest, from pope haters to degenerate drunks. Faith and beggorah, i do love being Irish.

i don't believe Stephen Lynch is himself of the Mc-ish persuasion, but that doesn't mean he can't write a fine Irish jig about menstruation.

i REALLY wanted to post the mp3 of Sean Connery singing "My Pretty Irish Girl," but i couldn't find it. i had the Disney boxed set it was on years ago, but what can you do? Thank St. Pat for YouTube, eh?

Oh, and in case you aren't near a McDonald's, here's what you're missing.

In closing, Erin Go Bra-less!

The Untitled Interview #40 – SXSW Edition: Starring Cassette Kids

I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s time once again for the annual industry hootenanny known as SXSW. As of today, Austin will be taken over. Inundated. Overrun. Engulfed. You get the idea. To celebrate the mad mad mad mad week of absolute havoc, Austin-style, we’ve thrown down the interview gauntlet to see what some of our favorite bands are going to be getting up to whilst gettin down in the wilds of Texas.

Everybody loves a good, danceable pop song every now and again. Well, I know I sure do. Our next guests are up-and-coming purveyors of quality dancepop songs, Cassette Kids from The Land Down Under. It’s frothy, glittery chick-fronted goodness that’ll certainly quench your sugary pop cravings. I’d love to see them share a stage with countrymen Cut Copy one of these days, as I think that would be quite a treat. They also get major points for getting my subtle wit (see question 1), using one of my favorite terms (see “glutton for punishment,” question 2), and for sharing one of my addictions (see question 5). You’ve got at least six chances to see them live down at SXSW, so perhaps you should think about penciling them in.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW: plane, train, or automobile?
Cassette Kids: Plane, but hopefully watching “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” on it. Love that movie.

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
CK: Toothpaste, I always pack the brush, but will always forget the paste. I usually borrow Kat's, but she uses Sensodine & it tastes horrible. You'd think I'd have learnt my lesson the first 20 times. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment?

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?
CK: I think at this point in time we're playing 6. I know we're doing shows in LA & Houston before heading to Austin.

LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
CK: I've got a few: The Temper Trap, The XX, Rival Schools & Children Collide.

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?
CK: Hitting up an Urban Outfitters, I'm addicted to shopping & they stock some good stuff.

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
CK: When I was 12, my sister took me to what was supposed to be the last Big Day Out in 1997. Soundgarden were headlining I think. I remember running from another stage into the main arena to 'Black Hole Sun'. It was incredible. Then, like 3 months later, they split up.

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
CK: Deciding which of your favourite bands there you'll deny seeing as the timetable clashes. Then when you get there, you lose a friend, go off to find them, never see them again, but somehow manage to keep walking past the same stranger throughout the day. Weird.

mp3: Lying Around (Cassette Kids from Lying Around)

The Untitled Interview #39 – SXSW Edition: Starring Francisco Fernandez and Daniel Aguilar (The Ferocious Few)

I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s time once again for the annual industry hootenanny known as SXSW. As of today, Austin will be taken over. Inundated. Overrun. Engulfed. You get the idea. To celebrate the mad mad mad mad week of absolute havoc, Austin-style, we’ve thrown down the interview gauntlet to see what some of our favorite bands are going to be getting up to whilst gettin down in the wilds of Texas.

They are rather ferocious, and they are indeed few. They’re Francisco Fernandez and Daniel Aguilar, otherwise known as, well, The Ferocious Few. It’s hard to believe that two people can make the raucous kinda noise these guys can, but these two gents prove that sometimes two can be the magic number for achieving musical awesomeness. Further endearing themselves into the cockles of my heart, the band’s Myspace counts girls with boyfriends, Marvin Gaye, and ferociousness among their influences. They’re also badass and will play on stages and sidewalks alike. Talk about street cred. Oh, and ladies, they’re pretty dang foxy. The Ferocious Few is soulful and filthy and a little raunchy, and I sure do like it.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW: plane, train, or automobile?
Francisco Fernandez: Flying in on Southwest Airlines.
Daniel Aguilar: Plane.

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
FF: Anything useful.
DA: Enough pants

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?
FF: 1 if anybody from the festival asks, but check our Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter for all shows.
DA: As many as possible

LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
FF: Cheap Trick
DA: DJ Quik.

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?
FF: Play on the street for some money to eat.
DA: Setting up.

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
FF: Warped tour 1995 Shoreline, I saw Sublime, No Doubt, Deftones, L7 all these bad ass bands in top form. I was in fifth grade.
DA: Reggae Sunsplash.

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
FF: Being focused amid chaos
DA: The concentration of energy and heat.

mp3: Lord Save My Soul (The Ferocious Few – new album Juices out in April)

[photo by Jonathan Ratcliff]