Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year, Y'all!

It's been one heck of a year for us here at LET, and we wanna give a big ole thank you and big sloppy kisses to show our appreciation. 2010 was our Best Year Ever, and we're gonna make sure we keep you even more entertained in 2011.

Not only is tomorrow New Year's Day, but it also just happens to be our 3rd Birthday. Happy Birthday to us! We'll be home celebrating and probably not blogging. Keep your eyes peeled for a special celebratory contest coming soon, as well as our massive Best Of 2010 missives, and my recap of the 100 Shows of 2010.

Best Wishes for a Bonne Annee to you all! xoxo

mp3: Auld Lang Syne (Wooden Shjips - Buy Stuff!) (many thanks to the glorious Mad Mackerel for this here gem)

Video Vixens: Roll Tide

As a University of Alabama alum, I would be seriously remiss if I didn't post this here little video for your viewing pleasure, in honor of the Crimson Tide's appearance against Michigan State tomorrow in the Capital One Bowl (Roll Tide).

Now, as regards ESPN, I've long been of the opinion that, aside from the whip-smart SportsNation (we heart Colin and Michelle), the best thing about ESPN is their series of hilarious promo spots. This one is without question one of their best (though the Albert Pujols as a robot one is also daggum hysterical). Perhaps a smidge unrealistic (in my four years in Tuscaloosa I think the only times I said "Roll Tide" to anyone was during football games/during pre- or post-game drinking), but it's pretty rad all the same. And now, without further ado, Roll Tide, y'all.

mp3: Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd Cover) (The Dream Syndicate live in Rotterdam - Buy This and Be Happy)

Singles Club: A.R.E. Weapons

Sometimes I run across songs that, for reasons I'm not totally sure of, I end up falling totally in love with. While going through my inbox for buried treasure, I stumbled across one such song.

"Mr. Creature," by those NYC musical eccentrics A.R.E. Weapons, is kooky and spooky and a whole lotta daggum awesome. "Am I livin' in a madman's dream," asks the band with vocals somewhere between "Goody Two Shoes" Adam Ant and Billy Idol, as they traverse wacky sonic landscapes of spaghetti dance rockishness. It's a fantastic piece of aural disorientation, and it might could get you groovin' at your New Year's Eve party, too.

mp3: Mr. Creature (A.R.E. Weapons from Darker Blue)

Video Vixens: The So So Glos

The So So Glos are definitely among the ranks of the favorites around these parts. That foursome of young rabble rousers is quite enough to give anyone a fit of teenage kicks. But danged if it hasn't been a heck of a long time since I talked about these boys. Time to right that particular ship right this very minute.

The video for "Fred Astaire" features the guys dappering it up in some snazzy suits as they unleash some of their infectious, brashly frenzied NYC rockadoo as a dancer paying homage to Astaire taps and twirls his way around New York, top hat and all. Quality.

mp3: Fred Astaire (The So So Glos from the Low Back Chain Shift EP)

"Fred Astaire" - The So So Glos from Matthew Greeley on Vimeo.

100 Shows of 2010 - #100: Hoots & Hellmouth @ Iota, 12/23/10

This, my little woolly lambs, was one heck of a bittersweet evening. Oh, sure, I was thrilled to pieces to finally be seeing those feisty Philadelphians Hoots & Hellmouth in the fleshy liveness, but there was a big part of me that felt more than a little bummed out that this big bad mamma jamma of a showstravaganza had (finally) come to a close. However, there appears to be no better cure for the End of Big Ole Feature Blues than those Hoots & Hellmouth gents. They sure do know how to show a gal a good time, and then some.

MINI RECAP: Hoots & Hellmouth = Honkin' & A-tonkin'! Overall Score: B+

I've wanted to see Hoots & Hellmouth for many a moon, yet somehow those pesky stars had never managed to align. Finally, though, I got to see this self-proclaimed "new music for old souls," and I'll tell y'all what, it was a mighty fine time. They were the perfect band to finish off with, infectious from the start and full of goodness gracious good times. I dug the clear, warmly enveloping vocals, the captivatingly kicky stomp, and of course, that hearty dose of sass they brought down from Philly. "You and All of Us," for example, was nigh on rollicking, full of rootsy twangy fierceness, getting the bodies moving with their appealing and unavoidable throwdown.

My toe kept (involuntarily) tapping all night as the band played song after glorious song. My frown quickly vanished, thanks to this seriously solid band with both musical chops and endearing personlities in spades. Bless their hearts, they sure did play with some exuberance, too. "Root of the Industry" kept the kids a-dancin', and kept my foot a-tappin'. "Returning In Pieces," a newish song they're tweaking, was maybe my favorite of the night, with a misty, almost delicate intro and vocals nearing gentleness. The song got bigger and better, and it really was just lovely. I can't wait to hear that on a record. The firecracker that is "Watch Your Mouth" got some hootin' and hollerin' from the crowd, and was full of swagger. Talk about a romper stomper.

Having seem them and enjoyed them, friends, I can say with no small modicum of confidence that for a good time, you need only to call Hoots & Hellmouth.

mp3: Known For Possession (Hoots & Hellmouth from The Holy Open Secret) (Muchas gracias to the mucho awesome The Wheel's Still In Spin for the songage)

Singles Club: Foxes In Fiction

For the record, I used to loathe the song "Teenage Dream". As sung by one of that cadre of annoying pop stars, that is. It's amazing what a killer cover by someone to keep an eye on can do to one's opinion of a song.

Foxes In Fiction, the solo workings of 21 year-old art school dropout Warren Hildebrand, takes on a piece of drivel and turns it into a really freaking good song. You can hear the Deerhunter and Brian Eno influences all over the place, from the insolationist vocals to the mish mash of noise running rampant. Hildebrand retains the pop feel of the song, but gives it one heck of a facelift. Warning: This song will get stuck in your head, but you can feel perfectly ok about it.

mp3: Teenage Dream (Foxes In Fiction - Buy Stuff)

Stone Coldest Fox of 2010: Peter Hayes

Let the End of 2010 insanity begin.

I could think of no better way to get things going than with my choice for the oh-so coveted (and sure, a little silly) title of Stone Coldest Fox of 2010. As we're pro-objectification here at LET, we like to celebrate the foxiness of some of our favorite music folks every now and again. Now, I'm sure some of you, and perhaps myself included for most of the year, were prepared to see Mister Trent Reznor wearing the crown for the third year in a row. Well, friends, as stone cold foxy as Trent is, it was time to pass the torch.

As a member of one of my favorite bands (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club), Peter Hayes has been on my radar for many years now. BRMC is exciting and terrifying and powerful and lovely, both live and on record. I've watched with interest as he and the band have grown and evolved, and it's been a beautiful thing to behold. As can be said about Mister Hayes.

To be Stone Coldest Fox, a dude's got to have a few key ingredients working for him all at once: He's got to be knee-weakeningly sexy (check), give off kind of a dangerous, bad in such a very good way vibe (check), and play whatever instrument he happens to call home with such passionate abandon that you can't help but be irrevocably drawn in while he's playing (check). Bonus points for the casual droop of a ciggie in the mouth whilst playing. Bearing all that in mind, this choice seems rather easy to me. And so it is that Peter Hayes joins the ranks of Stone Coldest Foxdom.

mp3: Dirty Old Town (Pogues Cover) (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Buy Stuff) (song courtesy the tres jolie Le Choix)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Singles Club: Pujol

Seeing as the University of Tennessee is playing some football right this very minute, it seems kinda appropriate to talk a little bit about Pujol. And I hate UT (what can I say, I'm a Bama girl, but I can make an exception).

Having seen Daniel Pujol and his band not too long ago, I can say for sure that Pujol's got the goods. Another Nashville-type coming to show everyone else how it's done, for new song 'Too Safe" Pujol enlisted Jack White for production help. "Too Safe" has all the feisty guitar and snarling vocals you could want, and then some. It's a nifty little humdinger, and it sure does put the cherry on my sundae, I don't know about y'all. Enjoy.

Video Vixens: SOARS

I don't know about y'all, but I find something hard to resist about creepy videos. Who needs a boring pop video when you can gaze at your screen in horror or confusion? And I tell you what, SOARS have made them one heck of a creepy (awesome) video.

It's a bizarre, yet beautiful, post-apocalyptic-esque clip featuring director Jamie Harley's splicing of Japanese movie Jigoku, and it's somehow the perfect backdrop for their song "Throw Yourself Apart". I mean, it's got flames aplenty, wacky dancing, and dozens of body parts sticking up out of the ground. It's befuddling, but totally works with the bands' brand of dark, brooding sexy shoegaze plus synths noise. You'll probably be seeing more of this band here, so keep your eyes peeled.

mp3: Throw Yourself Apart (SOARS from SOARS)

Soars - "Throw Yourself Apart" from Jamie Harley on Vimeo.

100 Shows of 2010 - #99: Vandaveer/Jonathan Vassar & The Speckled Bird @ Iota, 12/19/10

There are nights when one has no idea what to expect. Other nights, you're pretty sure you're on the pulse of what might could very well happen. But on rare instances, my beloveds, you know what you're in for. And the very knowing makes you excited from your head to your toes. I was pretty dang excited the night of this here show, because if there is one thing I know, it's that Vandaveer cannot and will not disappoint (and neither, for that matter, will Jonathan Vassar & The Speckled Bird). I won't beat around the bush here, my friends. This was one of my favorite shows of the whole entire 100 Shows project, and gather round as I tell you why.

MINI RECAP: Jonathan Vassar & The Speckled Bird = Down Home Darlins! Vandaveer = Singing in Heavenly Peace! Overall Score: A

Y'all know how it goes, right? You live in a city and keep hearing about a certain band yet you never manage to get your shit together enough to make the acquaintance of said band. Thus is the sad tale of my stint in Richmond and Jonathan Vassar & The Speckled Bird. Boatloads of my Richmond friends raved about 'em, and I left the city without even listening. Friends, I was a fool. This band has a flat-out gorgeous sound, rich with the timbre of the beautiful Virginia countryside and awash with twists and turns of folksy delights. They've got all the banjo, all the accordian, and all the fantastic folksiness you could possibly needs. Vassar's voice is as pure as a starry country evening sky, and I dare say I now love this band to bits.

Another band I love to bits also happened to be playing, that being the one-two vocal knockout punch of Mark and Rose, better known as Vandaveer (ok, so on many songs they were a one-two-three punch, courtesy of Tom from These United States pulling some guitar duty). Now listen up, y'all. I've heard a lot of singers in a whole lot of bands, but there are naught but a handful who can hold a candle to either Mark or Rose, let alone the two of them together. Rose's sweet, rich breathiness plays a wonderful foil to Mark's warm, quite possibly destined for greatness tones. I didn't let that festive kelly green sweater and red shirt fool me for a second: these two mean serious musical business. They had me good and mesmerized all night, be it the two of them by their lonesomes with an acoustic guitar, or joined by Tom with the electric or the slide. Charming and instantly likeable, the band bantered throughout the night, Mark zinging Tom at one point by proclaiming, "This song is absolutely not about you, Tom, though it is called 'Lost Cause,'" a dig which caused much chuckling amongst the audience.

But above all, it was the songs that made the night. I seriously had chills, y'all. This is one heck of a band, let me just tell you. The inclusion of some Christmas classics ("Silver Bells", "Silent Night", "Blue Christmas" and "Little Drummer Boy") added to the special vibe of the show, which already felt as warm and cozy as if it was in somebody's family room instead of Iota. Suffice it to say, Vandaveer is nigh on the cream of the crop, not just locally, but worlddangwide.

Both of these bands deserve your immediate attention. Go forth and prepare to be wowed, my lovelies.

mp3: Auld Lang Syne (Vandaveer from the FREE Xmas EP)

Singles Club: The Concretes

Fact: we love love love us some sassy Scandinavian music here at LET (Chris especially so when there are lovely lasses to be had, and yours truly when there are the lovely lads). So it can be said that both of us were rather pleased about this whole new music thing from the wonderful folks of The Concretes.

Featuring the chilly yet come-hither vocals of Lisa Milberg, "All Day" is a slinky little kinda sorta dance number that purrs like the cat that got all the cream and that delicious canary to boot. "We wanna stay in bed/all day all day all day" goes the song, and who can resist that sentiment?

mp3: All Day (The Concretes from WYWH)

Live Review: GWAR, 9:30 Club, 12-29-10

Ah, GWAR. For those of you unfamiliar with the Scumdogs of the Universe, well, it's something you have to experience to fully appreciate. If you thought the KISS Army was for pussies, well, GWAR might be the band for you.

You never know what you're going to get at a GWAR show, but you can rest relatively assured that it's going to be fucking loud, offensive and wet. Newcomers might have wondered why the 9:30 Club, per standard operating procedure, opted to cover approximately 1/3 of the venue, including speakers, lighting and the bar, in plastic sheeting. Once the first fake blood fountain started spurting a whooping five minutes or so into the proceedings, that mystery quickly was put to rest.

The show actually started oddly last night, with the lights being dimmed and two full Black Sabbath tracks played before the band actually took the stage. With a stage show as elaborate as theirs, i assumed it was either a costume or blood cannon issue. There appeared to be some issue (a possible scuffle?) in the stage right green room, but with all that plastic tarping, it was nearly impossible to tell.

i cannot prove it, but i'm fairly confident that lead singer, ODERUS URUNGUS, just shouted "GWAR, GWAR, GWAR" for at least the first three songs straight. One, however, does not attend a GWAR show for the lyrics. One comes for the spectacle. And by my previous GWAR experiences, this Bloody Pit of Horrors tour actually was tame by their standards.

Yes, Sarah Palin was dismembered. Yes, Lady Gaga ate feces and then was herself disemboweled while her boobs spurted blood across the crowd. And i'm pretty sure there was some homonecrobestiality (with Black Dynamite as my witness, i never thought i'd use that word in a concert review) to go along with the gallons and gallons of blood and viscera that was pumped onto the audience. All that being said, it was by no means the most offensive i've ever seen these wonderfully sick puppies.

Musically, the boys stuck mostly to their thrash/hardcore/punk wheelhouse, but i have to point out that while waiting for the band to get in tune or something, URUNGUS started singing, "I got your picture. I got your picture..." That's right, GWAR did a two-line "cover" of the Vapors' "Turning Japanese." And if that and a drenching in fake blood aren't your idea of an excellent evening, well, kid, you came to the wrong show.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Beat Week: Dubiously Titled Mixtapes

When i think "mixtape," i'm still envisioning a cassette tape of various different artists you put together for someone else, but the definition obviously has expanded to the point where it's a catch-all for any grouping of songs an artist puts together for the masses. Hey, as long as the music is fine, i'm good, so let's get into a couple of these so-called mixtapes, shall we?

Yes, it came out on Christmas Eve, but you're going to hear it today. Some of our favorite Swedes, jj, put out a mixtape of them doing their particular form of rocking out over various hip-hop samples (Dre, 'Ye, M.I.A.). Truth be told, it's one of the best CDs i've heard this year, mixtape or not. Spoiler alert--this one definitely will be making one of my year-end lists, no doubt.

WEDIDIT Collective member, Zeroh G7, just pulled a similar feat with his G7 University. Instead of ethereal chick vocals, however, he drops dope verses which he occasionally augments with some vocal distortion over others' beats. Wisely choosing from amongst some of LA's hottest producers (Teebs, Flying Lotus, Juj), Zeroh's skills are enough to add layers to the songs as opposed to simply sounding like somebody with a karaoke machine. OFWGKTA may get all the hype, but i'm telling you, WEDIDIT has even superior skills.

As long as we're talking mixtapes that make heavy use of sampling, we might as well throw new comer ::M∆DE::IN::HEIGHTS:: into the mix. Interestingly enough, their Winter Pigeons (Songs to Raise Your Dead Spirits) falls perfectly between the two previous, with ghostly female vocals playing over recognizable loops. Is that Sufjan Stevens alongside Tchaikovsky? Yes. Yes, it is.

And we'll close today with a mash-up of two of my other favorite CDs this year. Wick-It the Instigator heard Brothers and Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty and decided The Brothers of Chico Dusty must be made. Who am i to argue?

(Ed. note: Thanks to the always stellar Potholes in My Blog for hipping me to those last two, dude.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Singles Club: Pete & The Pirates

My love for Pete & The Pirates is one of our worst-kept secrets here at LET. Those impish, naughty little scamps represent the absolute best of the best when it comes to English exports, in my humble opinion.

To appease those folks (including yours truly) who wait impatiently and almost choke on baited breath, the lads have released a new song, which'll be featured on their better-be-coming-out-soon new record. "Winter 1" is remarkably, well, wintry, sleek and yet just a touch gritty, with a bit of shimmy to the usual Pete-ian rock jangle. In short, it's a winter wonderland of a delight.

mp3: Winter 1 (Pete & The Pirates from their forthcoming record TBA)

Pete and the Pirates - Winter 1 from Stolen Recordings on Vimeo.

100 Shows of 2010 - #98: Coasting @ Comet Ping Pong, 12/15/10

You know what happens when you assume, no? You make an ass of you and me. Well, friends, this is doubly true when it comes to going to shows. Don't ever, ever assume that you're right about the timing of a show, because sometimes you might just be wrong. Why the lecture on timeliness, you might wonder? It's because, sadly, yours truly had an unfortunate incident with timing lately. And I can say now with certainty that working late is sometimes not the best way to make timeliness happen for a show. I missed a whole lotta Coasting because of this itty bitty timing debacle, and I'm still bummed about it. However, what I saw was pretty daggum awesome. I suppose that serves as some small modicum of solace.

MINI RECAP: Coasting = Super Swell! Overall Score: B+

So like I said, I kinda missed a hefty portion of the Coasting set. Which is really too bad, because what I was hearing was totally making my night. They rock somethin' fierce, and it only takes two of 'em to make that killer noise of theirs. Fiona and Madison definitely have some skills. I was way digging on their smoky, sexy brand of surf rock meets film noir meets big bastard rock and roll. The vocals can be girl group sweet or bitchingly biting, and the guitars and drums follow suit. This, my little sweethearts, is one badass band. It was a whole lotta glorious noise, and I was black and blue from kicking myself about not witnessing the whole set. I shall clear my schedule for the next time, dangit.

Here's hoping the New Year sees Coasting getting back out there on the road. Once they've dug out from under all that snow, that is.

mp3: What You Want (Coasting - buy Coasting music HERE) (thanks to the radness of Neu Magazine for the songness)

Beat Week: J Dilla Day

If the cosmos see fit to send me two Dilla-related tracks on the same day, well, who am i to deny the kid a try?

Luminary Youth recently opened for Bonobo and TokiMONSTA, so you should know off the bat the kid has skills. Upon receiving his new EP, Paper Constellations, two things struck me immediately: 1. If remixes by other artists are any indication, this kid keeps good company (read: Boards of Canada, Persona La Ave, and Washed Out, among others) 2. LY knows the Masters, as evidenced by this excellent J Dilla Tribute. i understand he's got a new LP in the works. Based on this bad boy, i can't wait to hear it.

As i am apt to do, i was checking out some of my fave artist sites yesterday and stumbled across this gem from my beat hero, Alex B. In his own words: "I found the original sample that dilla used on his track 'Players.' For personal enjoyment i remade the track to sound similar to his with my own twist on it. Enjoy!" i think you'll find that last command an easy thing to do.

And this last number came out months ago (early April, to be exact), but for whatever reason, it got lost in the piles of music constantly going through ye ode iPod. i intend to make amends today by sharing this mixtape banger by the Roots putting their instrumental spin on some of Dilla's classics.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Beat Week: Label Compilation Day

Seriously, i am too slothful this week to be thinking of anything too creative for you cats this week. Fortunately for everyone involved, ye olde inbox has afforded us some stellar new beat music for us all to share, enjoy and then call a slut behind its back. So guess who's getting a full Beat Week this week (at least until i bounce on Friday to head to Pitt for the Outdoor Classic)?

You can tell a lot about a label by the strength of its artist compilations tapes. Denmark Records' roster of Southeastern beat artists on its DenFriends Compilation proves this label is an up and coming force with which to be reckoned. You've already heard the likes of Junk Culture here at LET before, but please allow me to point out that you also need to check out their other acts like, Bambara, C Powers and the Selmanaires. Admittedly, some of the tracks here are about as fringe "beat" as you can get (i'm looking at your closer to pop submissions, NAPS and Heads on Sticks, and your almost soul composition, ArnHao), but i think it's pretty safe to assume anyone who reads the LET Beat Meet is going to find at least a few tracks here to dig. And even if you don't, the price remains the same, which, at free, is kind of hard to beat.

1320 Records dropped their Volume II compilation some months ago. Hell, i even posted Alex B's "Dro on the D-Lo" way back when, but for whatever reason, it took me until now to listen to the entire thing. Point being, my mistake for waiting this long. There are tracks here more symphonic in nature, foregoing the staid and stuff live orchestra while creating similar arcs, motifs and flourishes with far simpler electronic toys. Sure, i might have been high and on a treadmill whilst listening to it myself, but check it out yourself and tell me if i'm lying.

i dig Friends of Friends Music's philosophy--the driving force behind discovering and sharing new music is through friends. The fact that their latest compilation tape features such heavyweights as Shlohmo, Strangeloop and Daedelus “choos(ing) a song from any era of popular culture to be source material of a song for (their)‘Pop Massacre’ compilation” shows that FoF are exactly the kinds of chums you want recommending music to your ear holes.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Post Xmas Sale: Even FREEER Free Music!!!

Uf dah, kids. Uf dah.

Did you delight in gluttonous revelry more appropriate to Bacchus than any Christian deity? Yeah, me, too.

Just like the chain stores, here at LET today (and possibly the next couple to follow; still have to do some inbox spelunking), we're running a "We Still Have More Xmas Crap to Get Rid Of" Sale! Today's free mp3s are even FREEER!!!

First up, something from the Genuisis, a new project comprised of Kimya Dawson, Aesop Rock, Johnny Druelinger (Tin Tree Factory), Jason Carmer & Quinn Tuffinuff. While i'm still checking it out myself, with a line-up like that, it's got to be good, right? If it isn't, blame Frank Shirley.

And a happy belated birthday, Baby Jesus! We miss you, too, Big Baby Jesus.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Singles Club: Hot Sugar

One more, y'all, and then I'm unplugging for a few days to enjoy some quality holiday time. If you're feeling a little sluggish, a little lacking in the dancefloor department, well have I got a song for you. Hot damn.

Hot Sugar (AKA cutiepie Nick Koenig) has cooked up quite a groove to help you work off all that fruitcake. "Don't Cut Down My Tree" is a doozy, filled with dirty, dirty beats and all sorts of slink. It's like the sonic equivalent of the suggestive one-eyebrow raise. It's a little bit wicked, and Santa probably won't be checking it off his list because this is one naughty song. But it's oh-so nice.

mp3: Don't Cut Down My Tree (Hot Sugar from the forthcoming Muscle Milk EP)

100 Shows of 2010 - #97: S. Carey/White Hinterland @ Rock'n'Roll Hotel, 12/14/10

We've all got countless choices to make, each and every day. Some are pretty dang hard, while others are no-brainers. I made one of the latter decisions not long ago, when faced with the terribly sad news of the postponement of the Steve Mason show. I had two options: stay home and mope, or go out into the Baltic chill and see some pretty daggum good live music. Fear not, friends, common sense prevailed, and I was soon out and about enjoying an evening filled with good tunes by S. Carey and White Hinterland. Sometimes those changes of plan turn out to be a little bit of alright.

MINI RECAP: White Hinterland = Winsomely Haunting! S. Carey = Somberly Cuddly! Overall Score: B

Despite the slap-in-the-face cold of the evening, all was warm and cozy at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel when I arrived. I'd like to think White Hinterland had something to do with this. I must confess, when I first walked in I had to sort of test myself as to what year it was, because coming from the stage seemed to be a nouveau trip-hop sound (a trend repeated in several songs during the set). The beats were slow and hypnotic, trancelike and sultry and a perfect backdrop for the majorly haunting voice of Casey Dienel. Dienel's voice proved breathy, playful, come-hither, and forlorn all at once, sometimes even during the course of one song. An unexpected and awesome cover of Monica's "Don't Take It Personal" was given a smooth, silky treatment, and made for a great choice for the set. The music of White Hinterland is rather atmospheric, perfect for trying to warm up on such a bloody cold December evening.

Given the Bon Iver association, you'd expect Sean Carey (AKA S. Carey) and his band of friends to have a little bit of a rustic, woodsy sadness to them. Well, they definitely did. There was more to the band than that, though, which surprised and cheered me. Full of pretty gentleness, S. Carey could just as quickly build hulking, noisy crescendos with more than a little aggression. For his part, Carey's voice is nothing short of lovely, honey-thick and very magnetic. After a couple songs I felt much better about not seeing Steve Mason, and really began to enjoy their set. "Mothers" showed off the pervasive sweetness in the songs, as well as some glorious harmonizing. Their pitch, my friends, is pretty much perfect. And the sudden rocking out at the end of the song was quite a pleasant surprise. Sentimentality coursed through their songs, with no short supply of nostalgia and wistfulness. Forays into random instrumental meanderings were much appreciated. There was something rather charming about them, very honest.

Though I was (and still am) bummed not to see Mr. Mason, these two bands definitely helped ease the pain. From the almost stark beauty of White Hinterland to the lushness of S. Carey, it was a night well spent.

mp3: In The Dirt (S. Carey from All We Grow)

mp3: In The Stream (S. Carey from All We Grow)

Singles Club: The Crookes

I suspect, dearhearts, that you'll be hearing more from me as regards a little band called The Crookes. These Sheffieldians hit all the right notes when it comes to the whole rockin' and rollin' thing, taking cues from bands like The Jam to make a nifty little jingle jangle that definitely ruffles my feathers.

Not ones to let the holiday song craze pass them by, The Crookes are giving away not one but two holiday songs, bless their hearts. I love the slightly Smiths-ian feel to "It's Just Not Christmas Without You", melancholy yet grand in scale. I suspect you just might enjoy it.

mp3: It's Just Not Christmas Without You (The Crookes from the free It's Just Not Christmas Without You EP - buy The Crookes stuff here)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

More Goodies to Keep Scrooge at Bay

Hopefully, you kids are out drinking eggnog or some other holiday-related activity that bespeaks intoxication and good times. i expect no less from my LET brethren and sisteren. For those of us with Scrooge for a boss (working for oneself is such a hassle), i do have a couple of goodies to help you get through the rest of the day while you think about what you want to do with your significant other and a sugar plum later this evening.

You know i lurvs me some Autolux. Meg and i will get to our "Top CDs of 2010" lists in the coming weeks (seriously, how can you make a "Best of the Year" list before the year even is over?), but i'll tell you right now that Transit Transit is going to make one of my lists in some fashion. As luck would have it, the band just did a LiveBuzz session and decided to share this mp3 goodness with all y'all lucky bastards.

i hold Sun Araw in similar rarefied air, but i'll let Aristocrat P. Child do the talking about this next jam. The legendary invite-only parties at SUN ARK STUDIOS had reached a sort of frenzied climax in late summer of 2010, steamy and yet ambiguous police actions, multiple lenticular object sightings, and spontaneous dance-floor teleportations all were pointed at some sort of budding vortex, a sinister portal that was going to have to be danced through. Everything was coming up fungal, spiral filaments wrapping around wrists and ankles, yanking some chains. For the 3am set, MATTHEWDAVID joined SUN ARAW onstage for what would be the moment of germination: SUN ARAW passing retrieved melodic objects while MD dilated, distended, folded, and then flung them through the gateway. After listening from the control room with eyes closed, I wandered out onto the dancefloor to take stock: the partygoers as I remembered them had vanished, and the entities that were moving to these grooves were tough to identify, multiplying rapidly in fractal-like patterns and then slipping sideways into shadow. I caught a cab and got out of there. I have no idea who finished the recording.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Singles Club: Sex Beet/Jerry Tropicano

Y'all, we're gonna keep giving til there's nothin left to give, let me just tell you. Keeping it in the Christmas spirit, here's a little ditty from one of my new favorite bands, Sex Beet. These miscreants know how to do it; they'll shimmy and they'll shake and they'll pretty much blow your house down. Obviously, you should probably start loving them now, that is if you don't already.

According to Luke Sex Beet, the band is now decamping in Copenhagen, thanks to a rather scandalous legal issue that I'd have to kill anyone I told, so in lieu of that, here's a little holiday jam courtesy of Sex Beet and their amigo and current tour companion Jerry Tropicano.

mp3: Christmas Line (Sex Beet & Jerry Tropicano)

Singles Club: Robbers On High Street

I don't know about y'all, but my Christmas just hasn't really ever had enough disco. In between all those holiday standards, repeat listens of The Nutcracker, and those swinging sounds of Christmas With The Rat Pack, I really do feel a gaping hole. Thankfully, this year there's help for all of us who suffer from the disco-less Christmas conundrum.

Robbers On High Street, those adorable scamps from NYC, have put their spin on one heck of a Christmas carol. With the sweeping, over-the-topness of it all, I'd say it is, most assuredly, required holiday listening. It's sure to get all your eggnog-swilling relatives in full holiday spirit.

mp3: The Rocking Disco Santa Claus (Robbers On High Street - buy stuff here!)

Singles Club: Parlovr

As I'm sure you're all well aware, we're in the midst of the biggest commercial consumption season of the year. December brings out the shopaholic in us all, under the guise of showing those loved ones just how much you care. Well, why not show some strangers you care, too, by doing a little something good with some of that cash money?

Parlovr, that superfantasticamazing band hailing from Montreal, has recorded two holiday songs they're releasing and sharing on a pay-what-you-want basis. Every single cent of the proceeds goes to, an organization working to narrow the gap between the Haves and the Have-Nots. Sounds like a pretty noble mission to me. Go here to hear the tracks and make your donation. In the meantime, here's more Parlovr to make your decision that much easier.

mp3: Hell, Heaven (Parlovr from Hell/Heaven/Big/Love)

Deck Them Halls and Fa La La La La

Just a few more days to finish up that Xmas shopping, kids. i've been done for a while myself, that is, until i just learned that one of my brothers is bringing his girlfriend to the family festivities. Good thing i've got some more of this soon-to-be-done-with Xmas music to get me through the mall without murdering anyone.

Brendan Benson is not chincy with his holiday cheer. Not only did he share the holiday spirit with us, he wants to share it with you, too, on this acoustic rocker from the wonderful Holiday Undercover series.

You know you're going to see this track again come Halloween, but it's intended for this holiday, so here we go. If your idea of a thumping good time is a dubstep beat peppered with Christian zealot ravings, have i got a track for you!

Wanna know how those OFWGKTA kids feel about Xmas? OK. If you thought it included butt fucking Yoda, well, you'd actually be right.

That enough Xmas music for you for now? Good.

Singles Club: Sleepy Rebels

I like the trappings of cold climes (brightly-colored tights, cozy sweaters, fabulous vintage tweed coats) a whole lot more than I like actual cold weather itself. Wind chill makes me very, very unhappy. As I sit here and pout at the idea of a for real White Christmas, I can't help but let my mind wander to sunnier (well, perhaps not at the moment), warmer, and snow-less places. Places like...California (Southern).

New York's Sleepy Rebels seems to have been on the same wavelength, as they're sharing the gift of their song "California Christmas" with us. It's cutesy, it's adorable, and it's fluffy: all things to help take one's mind off the threat of blizzards and shoveling and other fun wintery things.

mp3: California Christmas (Sleepy Rebels from Bah, Humbug!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Singles Club: Domino Records 2010 Sampler

We all know how it goes, ‘tis better to give than to receive. The jury’s still out on that one, depending on what you're talking about, but the fact that our friends at Domino are certainly raising the bar with the giving this year, that’s for dang sure and daggum indisputable.

We at LET love us some Domino Records (as in LOVE), and we love love love that they’re giving away this little holiday present of free songs. Yes, 14 awesomely splendid songs (including a track from one of my favorite records of the year!), free free free! Now how’s that for a stocking stuffer? Play the songs to your heart's content, or click the mp3 icon in the bottom left to get the mp3s. Eat, drink, and rock out merrily, y'all!

Live Review: Prince's Welcome 2 America Tour, Izod Center and Madison Square Garden, 12/17/10 and 12/18/10

As many of us can attest, getting older sucks. When one's heroes start to show their age, well, that just fucking sucks twice as hard. i've been going to Prince shows for more than 25 years now, starting back with the Purple Rain tour last friggin' century, so i know from good Prince shows. Unfortunately, i'm oh so sad to report that from the two nights i've caught of the Welcome 2 America tour, this ain't his finest work. His Royal Badness can't quite hit the high notes as often or sustain them for quite so long. i'm guessing it's the hip replacement, but the 52-year-old can't quite shake it like he used to, either. Most heart wrenching of all, however, he just didn't seem to have the same "oomph" that he used to. When even my mother said, "he just can't muster up the sexy like he used to," i figure that about summed things up.

Fortunately, even the worst Prince shows are better than 90 percent of anything else you could ever hope to see, so let's focus on the positives, shall we? The bulk of both nights was older stuff, predominantly from Purple Rain ("Let's Go Crazy," "The Beautiful Ones," "Take Me With U," "Purple Rain"). He played one track i didn't know at all, i'm guessing off of 20Ten, and "Guitar" from Planet Earth; that was about it for the new stuff. He did up a number of classics over the two nights, including "Kiss," "Cream" and an almost ballad-like "Little Red Corvette." With the exception of the order and a few tracks, however, both sets were near identical in content.

Of the two nights, the first at the Izod Center clearly was the better of the two. i'll be honest, the first two-thirds of the show were lackluster by Prince standards, but then he brought out Sheila E. for the first encore, and it was the 1999 all over again. Prince's musical highlight of the night came then, right after a blistering solo perfomance by Sheila of "Glamorous Life, when he ripped up a bass jam he did for "Love Bizarre." For those of you unaware of the master musician that the Purple One is, this tour certainly does play more on his musical capabilities than most. Unfortunately for this show, until the very end, a groove was never struck. Whereas Prince typically is a very gracious performer, sharing the spotlight with his band, with the exception of a nod to his back-up singers, there was no recognition whatsoever. He closed this night with a second encore, three ballad set of "Insatiable," "Scandalous" and "Adore" (admittedly one of the best live versions of "Adore" i've ever seen him do). i kept thinking, "who ends on a string of ballads?" Answer: Prince does. And he does it WELL.

MSG had more energy upfront, but the tempo was all wrong. He brought out Sheila E. much earlier in the performance, saving the encore to bring a bunch of jamooks on-stage (Spike Lee? Jamie "The Least Talented Poser Alive" Foxx? Gimme a fucking break) that did nothing but stand there and clap. At least, Sheila tore the bastard apart when it was her turn. i'd like to say there was a standout moment at MSG; perhaps the cocktails had something to do with my fuzzy memory, but none stand out.

Again, don't get me wrong, if you have a chance to catch either of the two remaining dates, GO. Prince does not put on a "bad" show. But for those of us who have been around since the beginning, it appears as if the halcyon purple days are dwindling. i guess this is what is sounds like when doves cry.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Mixed Bag of Hodge Podge Audio Goodness

Most of the time, i try to come up with some random, loose thread to connect the various tunes i talk about in a given post. Other times, i just happen to have a bunch of good shit that i feel like sharing. Guess what kind of day today is?

While i'm even more impressed by her business acumen and ability to actually make Twitter pay off, Amanda Fucking Palmer still is one hell of a songstress. The fact that she's happy to get nekkid apparently at the drop of a hat doesn't hurt my opinion of her, but i think i'm getting off-track here. Her new Band Camp single is a bit poppier than a lot of her stuff, but it's utterly danceable at the same time, so what more do you want? If you're so inclined, Ms. Palmer has a "pay what you want" drill going on at the page, so...

LET's favorite Lord of the Loop, Pogo, has put together a rather pretty, though somber, tune that appears to have resulted from a recent break-up. Hate to see anyone hurting, but at least his art hasn't suffered.

If i haven't made this abundantly clear, two things are going to pretty much seal the deal in terms of me posting your music here at LET. Send me either: 1. Nudes of your ex-girlfriend. 2. Rap songs about comic books. Guess which route K-murdock, Random aka Mega Ran and Storyville took?

You freaks seem to be digging the beat Xmas tunes in a big way, so have at it. Paul White reworks the classic, AND throws in some Grinch at the tail end just 'cuz.

Since we're talking beats, just another little something from Ernest Gonzales. Why? Because we love him, that's why.

And last, but most certainly not least, i've been meaning forever and a day to throw a major shout out to Highly Rec'd. Each month, Jon over there puts together a stellar mixtape that's sent directly to your inbox (not that this is done so that he can send you the hottest tracks today without all that legal hassling or anything.) LET highly recommends Higly Rec'd. Sign up here. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Keith

Ok, this blessed event was actually yesterday, but y'all know I couldn't let this here birthday go by without wishing the birthday boy well.

Mister Keith Richards belongs to the best rock&roll band that ever will be. He'll probably go down as one of the finest guitarists that ever have shredded, to boot. As he should. His lifestyle is unmatchable, the stuff of rock&roll legend. Richards is truly in a class of his own, a giant among boys. He also composed, too, for the excellent Aranbee Pop Symphony Orchestra. And to him I say, Happy Fucking Birthday, sir.

mp3: Happy (The Rolling Stones from Exile On Main Street) (thanks to the most excellent Giant Panther for the tune)

Singles Club: Banjo Or Freakout (Xmas Edition)

When it gets this close to Christmas, I start to really dig on some holiday tunes. As much as I love the classics (read: Christmas With The Rat Pack is one of my favorite albums EVER, and I'm not just talking Xmas music either), I can definitely appreciate a fine reworking of an old gem. I also appreciate an entire record of holiday music being offered up gratis. So rarely do the two coincide, but Banjo Or Freakout has done both of these things, my friends. That's right, once again you can get ten seasonally sensational songs for a whopping zero dollars courtesy of BOF to help get you in the holiday mood. One of my faves is this chilly yet wonderful rendition of "Frosty The Snowman".

mp3: Frosty The Snowman (Banjo Or Freakout from XA2010)

100 Shows of 2010 - #96: Stornoway @ Black Cat, 12/5/10

I must confess it to be true, darlings, that my little heart goes all aflutter for those folksy bands that strum so very tenderly and sing so very sweetly (let's call it my Fanfarlo syndrome). So, naturally, I was deliriously delighted to venture out and see what Stornoway, the latest of such Brit folk exports, could do live and in person. As it happens, this group of Oxfordians and South Africans managed to warm the cockles of my cold, black heart. Well, maybe not totally. But they sure did manage to give it quite a thaw.

MINI RECAP: Stornoway = Splendidly Sweet! Overall Score: B+

The set began with a mournful, chilling intro courtesy one violin, precluding what was to come in a beautiful, yet rather sad way. Stornoway claims to be influenced by the sea, and you can definitely hear it in their music. Their moody, passionate folksiness conjured up images of small, coastal towns stark and lovely under endless drizzling grey skies, dark waves crashing along the craggy coastline for miles with churning relentlessness. "Boats and Trains" was a favorite, aching as it was, and for some reason reminding me of Van Morrison. I got a kick out of the fact that, like Elbow and their great song/album "Asleep In The Back", the jaunty, grand strut of "Beachcomber's Windowsill" wasn't on the debut record, though the record is in fact called Beachcomber's Windowsill. I loved the almost violent instrumentation, though of course the band was never anything but pretty.

"Fuel Up" was full of thos earnest, folktastic vocals that I suspect Stornoway will become known for. It struck me that there's something rather pure and unsullied about this band. And oh my, those harmonies were magic. During "I Saw You Blink" I had the thought that there seems to be something rather traditional about their songs, but given a trendy folk twist. But not in a put-on kinda way or anything. Even the way singer Brian Briggs addressed the crowd was endearing, a sort of hesitant shyness that was adorable and enchanting. After charmingly relaying a yarn about some Yorkshire folks that were stuck in a pub for 8 days and drank the place dry, the band launched into "On The Rocks", "a wintry song for you," quoth Briggs. And indeed, 'twas very wintry indeed, the chill of their seaside-inspired tales comign across all gorgeousness. "November Song" was probably my favorite song of the night, Briggs and his acoustic calling to mind trad folk of days of yore. It was quite a captivating moment in time.

They came, they saw, they folked it up. If you, like me, get the yen for some folktastic brilliance every now and then, friends, you might just want to check out the boys of Stornoway.

mp3: Fuel Up (Stornoway from Beachcomber's Windowsill)