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My Favorites of 2012

5th Feb 13 (Tue) Leave a comment

Life has been a been busy/hectic lately, to say the least. Not enough time to do the usual extended blogs for best of instrumental, vocal and whatnot with lots of descriptions. And since, hell, it’ll be 2014 before too long; so I figured I’d get out my favorites of 2012 list in some fashion now before it’s officially too late.

Here’s what was my favorite music from last year…

vocal top 10
(in no particular order beyond #1)

O.S.I. - Fire Make ThunderO.S.I.Fire Make Thunder

Damien Jurado - Maraqopa Peter Mulvey - The Good Stuff Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

Ani DiFranco - Which Side Are You On? Bad Veins - The Mess We've Made Ben Folds Five - The Sound of the Life of the Mind

Storm Corrosion (Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree & Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth) Sigur Rós - Valtari Aimee Mann - Charmer

instrumental top 10
(in no particular order beyond #1)

Charlie Hunter & Scott Amendola - Not Getting Behind Is The New Getting Ahead

Charlie Hunter & Scott Amendola
Not Getting Behind is the New Getting Ahead

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Alleujah! Don't Bend Ascend Guillaume Perret - The Electric Epic Buckethead - Electric Sea

Celldweller - Soundtrack for the Voices in My Head, Vol 2 Floratone - Floratone II Cosa Brava (Fred Frith with Kihlstedt, etc) - The Letter

John Zorn / Masada Book Two: Book of Angels, Vol. 18 (Pruflas by David Krakauer) John Zorn / Masada Book Two: Book of Angels, Vol. 19 (Abraxas by Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz) John Zorn - A Vision in Blakelight

ep, internet, etc

Best Novelty: Sufjan Stevens’ Silver and Gold boxset

Best Internet-only releases: Glen Phillips Coyote Sessions,
Greydon Square Type II : The Mandelbrot Set,
Sufjan Son Lux & Serengeti (s/s/s) beak and claw

Best EPs: Levi Weaver’s I Am Only A Tiny Noise
Peter Mulvey’s Chaser (OOP)

Best Vinyl-only: Wussy “Dangerous Highway” 7″
Sufjan Stevens & Rosie Thomas “Hit & Run” 7″

Enjoy! I’ll sort of promise to do better with timeliness on next year’s lists!

~Dan – np: Pinnick Gales PridgenPinnick Gales Pridgen
pinnick gales pridgen

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*FREE DOWNLOAD* Wussy’s Berneice Huff and son, Bill sings… Popular Favorites

4th Jan 13 (Fri) Leave a comment

Cincinnati rock quartet Wussy just released this collection of rarities, bsides and live tracks FOR FREE

Berneice Huff and son, Bill sings… Popular Favorites

Wussy - Berneice HuffAs a thank-you to our fans’ support and generosity in 2012, we are happy to present a free download album of rarities, B-sides and demos.

  1. Terry Gross Intro
  2. Nomenclature
  3. Maglite (remix)
  4. First Concert
  5. Bought It Again (demo)
  6. Blood & Guts
  7. WOXY Intro
  8. Rigor Mortis (live)
  9. Retarded
  10. Bedroom Posters
  11. Jonah (demo)
  12. Airborne (acoustic)
  13. Musical Style
  14. Linda Linda/Sweetie Sweetie (live)
  15. All the Bugs Are Growing (demo)
  16. Run Away
  17. What Band Would You Erase…
  18. Soak It Up (demo)

~Dan – np: O.S.I.Fire Make Thunder
OSI - Fire Make Thunder

2012 mix

24th Dec 12 (Mon) 3 comments

Time for this year’s mix CD, except I decided to go CD-free again (like 2011’s mix). It’s still formatted to stay contained on one CD (21 tracks ~79 mins); so if you want to download the whole shebang and burn to a CD – go for it!

Check out prior year-based mixes: 2009 (CD) and 2010 (CD) and 2011 (digital). No major theme this time like some of my prior mixes (4 Elements & A-to-Z mixes)… the only rule I placed before myself was that everything is current (i.e.- released in 2012).  A few of the songs were technically released in 2012, but the album will hit in 2013.

This year’s mix ended up poppier and/or melancholier than prior mixes.  Sometimes that’s just how things shake out. I hope you enjoy.

The following songs were put on the mix from mostly lossless sources where possible and for promotional purposes only (read: free direct market advertising to people who decidedly love music). Most of the artists on this compilation are independent (put out the music themselves) or signed to smaller, independent labels. If you like what you hear, check out their music / support them with your wallet if you are able. The artists’ Webpage, Facebook, and Amazon links are available for each song below. I’ve also included concert review links if I’ve seen the artist recently.

Download the ZIP File (140M) available *HERE*, extract then drag & drop the mp3 files to your iTunes (or other playback software).

All Songs Streaming Playlist (click arrows to skip back & forth… for individual songs find them below.)

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01 Brian Borcherdt / Dusted(Into The) Atmosphere” from Total Dust

Brian Borcherdt from Canadian live-electronic band Holy Fuck has done some singer-songwriter-y solo projects in the past, but this album in-between HF albums still held on to some electronics and keys versus the standard acoustic guitar fare.  This lo-fi, melodic, and haunting affair hit me well this rainy Oregon fall.

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02 O.S.I.Wind Won’t Howl” from Fire Make Thunder

The fourth album in the O.S.I. partnership of Kevin Moore (Chroma Key) and Jim Matheos (Fates Warning) isn’t a metal heavy as the other albums.  I love how there’s a bit of rock in this track to offset the melancholy delivery of Kevin’s vocals.  Guest drummer on the entire album is Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree.  The album fits in with what I’d call “glitch prog,” to which Kevin liked my moniker.  Organic/real drums cut up electronically alongside with prog rock keys & guitars.  This album is easily one of my favorites of 2012.

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03 Peter MulveyEgg Radio (instrumental)” from The Good Stuff

04 Peter MulveyGreen Grass” from The Good Stuff

Peter Mulvey is an American treasure. His lyrical storytelling, guitar prowess, and overall charm and earnestness make him a favorite artists of mine, period.  With his recent album, he put together a band and re-purposed others’ music… “new standards” if you will.  The instrumental “Egg Radio” is originally penned by jazz guitarist Bill Frisell and “Green Grass” is from Tom Waits & Kathleen Brennan.

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05 Levi WeaverTalk Me Down” from I Am Only A Tiny Noise [EP]

Less than a year ago, I had no idea who Levi Weaver was.  I joined a fantasy baseball league online (uncharacteristic of me) and met Levi via that.  I had no idea he was a travelling musician until he mentioned on twitter something about a documentary being shot about him (String Theory).  Then the cards fell in place for him to play a show at my house, and then I bought and fell in love with all of his records.  Such is my musical addiction.  Sometimes I luck into gems.  Levi put out the Tiny Noise EP in 2012, but I also strongly urge you to check out his earlier work.

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06 Emily WellsInstrumental (Lolo Remix)” from Mama Remixed

08 Emily WellsFire Song (Doctor Rosen Rosen Remix)” from Mama Remixed

Emily spans indie rock, chamber music, and hip-hop near flawlessly (check her cover of the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy“).  With her latest album, Mama, she has continued in that vein… and then also released a remix album for free on Soundcloud.

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 Kim Taylor - Love's A Dog07 Kim TaylorSave My Life (demo)” from the forthcoming album Love’s A Dog

Heartfelt Cincinnati singer-songwriter Kim Taylor successfully Kickstarted her forthcoming album.  I loved this song so much; so here’s a glimpse in what is to come.  Since the Kickstarter is officially done, keep in the loop via her webpage and Facebook for when it’ll hit regular retail outlets in 2013.  Also, take a listen to her back catalog… her music has a special place in my heart.

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09 Sufjan StevensAlphabet St.” from Silver & Gold: Christmas Infinity Voyage [EP]

Five EPs of Christmas music released this year, and I find a non-holiday-forward Prince cover to break things up on this mix.  This song is more indicative of things on The Age of Adz versus the rest of the Christmas EPs.  Enjoy!  Skip below for the other Sufjan track on my 2012 mix for something different…

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10 Digital Noise AcademyMelting Inside” from the forthcoming album DNA

Way back in 2006, the Los Angeles Digital Noise Academy (LADNA) did a couple of shared tracks… passing around pieces via the internet as they’re all busy musicians in their own rights.  Back in those days, there was mention of releasing an album, but nothing ever materialized.  Well, in 2012, they changed things up to just DNA and finally had enough momentum to get a Kickstarter going – which succeeded on its 2nd try.  The album will come out in 2013.  DNA is the cooperative of Ken Andrews (Failure, On, producer/mixer of tons of rock bands), Charlotte Martin (pop singer-songwriter), Sharky Laguana (Creeper Lagoon), Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck & NIN), Fernando Sanchez (popular hired gun), and Jordan Zadorozny (Blinker the Star).

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11 Aimee MannLabrador” from Charmer

I don’t have much to say about this song outside of that I love Aimee Mann, and the video for it was a shot-for-shot remake of the “Voices Carry” video from her ‘Til Tuesday days.  Wacky and fun!

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12 The Album LeafStretched Home” from Forward/Return [EP]

The Album Leaf is Jimmy LaValle, and he’s had some good success making some great keyboard-driven, organic post-rock.  This EP almost escaped me, though, as the word on the street was faint.  Jimmy has an upcoming project with Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon); so I guess I’ll have to keep my eyes & ears peeled better!

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13 Damien JuradoMuseum of Flight” from Maraqopa

Damien Jurado is one of those pure songwriters that hits me hard with his lyrics.  This song has impacted me a lot this year, and I think I’ve listened to it more than 100 times, which knowing the amount of music I go through each year is saying something.  Maraqopa is a gorgeous record, and it will end up high on my list for 2012.

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14 Glen PhillipsStill Carrying You” from Coyote Sessions

Glen Phillips (the voice behind Toad the Wet Sprocket) can bend my ear no matter what he’s doing.  His latest self-release, Coyote Sessions (via bandcamp), is full of some old favorites that he’s done for a while in a live setting, but have never made their way onto formal releases.  A must purchase for the pop singer-songwriter in me.

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15 Charlie Hunter & Scott AmendolaNot Getting Behind Is The New Getting Ahead” from album of the same name

The ease at which Charlie Hunter plays both the guitar and bass parts on his 8-string guitar makes witnessing him in concert confounding. Fuck that guy! He’s too damn good to be an actual human being.  He’s been working with drummer Scott Amendola in several incarnations in the past (trios, quartets).  For this recent album and tour, it was just the two of them.  Stripped down, yet full of sound.  Highly recommended guitar jazz.

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16 Ben Folds FiveAway When You Were Here” from The Sound of the Life of the Mind

One of the saddest days was when I heard that Ben Folds Five broke up.  I kind of always hoped they’d get back together, but Ben Folds kept chugging away on his solo stuff… which was excellent, but not… you know, not “the same.”  There was a glint of hope a handful of years ago when Darren Jessee and Robert Sledge joined forces with their pianist brother for some live shows.  This year, they got back together for real in the studio!  They’ll hit the road in early Winter 2013.  I’ll be lucky to see them in Portland in February.  When I saw them back in the late 90s/early 2000s, they blew me away.  Truly a fun band to see live!

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17 Bad VeinsIf Then” from The Mess We’ve Made

Cincinnati rock duo Bad Veins should own the world.  Their 2nd full length is lush, hooky, and a perfect follow-up to their 2009 debut.  With the lushness on this record, Ben & Sebastien are probably giving “Irene,” their reel-to-reel band member, a good workout.  Hopefully they buy her new cords and oil her joints in between gigs.

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18 John ZornPathway of Fire” from The Concealed

One of nine releases from John Zorn this year, this album is a jauntier, more accessible jazz compared to some of his other work.  I desperately wanted to put on some screeching, grating stuff from Music & Its Double, but I spared you all.  I was *that* close to doing it, too.  You’re welcome!  Anyway, The Concealed album features some excellent packaging – embossed white inks on white digipack with die-cut shapes in the front.  Kudos to Tzadik’s designer Chippy for her always stunning work.  The music was written by Zorn and performed by the usual suspects in his arsenal – the stellar cast of NYC jazz cats: Joey Baron on drums, Trevor Dunn on bass, Mark Feldman on violin, Erik Friedlander on cello, John Medeski on piano, and Kenny Wollesen on vibes.

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19 Fiona AppleWerewolf” from The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

It’s Fiona.  What can I say? Great standout track on her stupendous new album. There’s “nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key.”

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20 Sufjan StevensJustice Delivers Its Death” from Silver & Gold: Christmas Unicorn [EP]

Sparse acoustic guitar and Sufjan’s angelic voice thrust this song into my head and heart like no other.  I take its lyrics as disappointment in the temporary, which can also be a call to do more fruitful things while we’re here.  Which I think is good advice for everyone.  This song is also not too indicative of most of what you’ll find on the Christmas EPs. I don’t really like Christmas music, but I think Sufjan makes some wonderful art.  And, whoa, his concert tour this year was amazing (see review with photos of the Portland/Aladdin show)!!!

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21 Au4So Just Hang On, Beautiful One” from the forthcoming album …And Down Goes the Sky

These Canadian soundscapers haven’t released music since 2006. I found them in the halcyon “MySpace days,” if that tells you anything.  Their first album (On: Audio) is amazing and textured.  Their 2nd album from which this song is from is out now (digitally) with an official release date in 2013.  It’s also textured and gorgeous, with a little mixing up on the vocal duties.  I’m still digesting it, but I can still very much recommend it!

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Let me know what you think… If you enjoyed what you heard, please support the music. Definitely feel free to pass the link the mix along:

http://tinyurl.com/MixyD2012

~Dan – np: Au4On: Audio

there are no torrents, free mp3 or other downloads available

Sufjan Stevens’ Silver & Gold (Xmas EP #’s 6-10)

2nd Oct 12 (Tue) Leave a comment

Update: the stop-motion Lego video is at the bottom.

Pre-order his upcoming Silver and Gold (Christmas EP boxset #2) on 5 CDs or 58 mp3.  The 5-vinyl set appears to be sold out (via bandcamp).

“Happy Holidays! On November 13, 2012, Asthmatic Kitty Records will release (another!) Christmas box-set extravaganza by the implacable singer/songwriter Sufjan StevensSilver & Gold: Songs for Christmas, Vols. 6-10, a compilation of 5 EPs recorded between 2006 and 2010.

Expanding on the tradition of the first box-set (Songs for Christmas, Vols. 1-5 from 2006), Silver & Gold is a generous document of five more years of holly-jolly jubilee — Christmas caroling, sleigh-bell-ringing, collaborative songwriting — undertaken by Sufjan and his various musical cohorts. Originally intended as gifts for family and friends, these musical snapshots have been re-mixed and re-assembled for the public in an exquisitely-designed gift box containing all the Yuletide pleasures money can buy: Christmas stickers, temporary tattoos, lyric sheets and chord charts, a paper ornament, an apocalyptic pull-out poster, photos, illustrations, and extensive liner notes—a veritable Christmas feast for the eyes and ears.

The album features collaborations with a running line-up of friends and musical peers, including Aaron and Bryce Dessner (The National), Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Cat Martino (Sufjan’s right-hand woman on all things Age of Adz), Sebastian Krueger (Inlets), Gabriel Kahane, Vesper Stamper, and members of Danielson (Daniel, Elin, Lilly, and Ida). Sufjan’s own indelible aesthetic and his tireless oblique strategies (in vain pursuit of the perfect Christmas song) maintain the album’s center of gravity, resulting in an abundant compilation (nearly 60 tracks) that investigates the canon of devotional hymns and holiday pop songs with reckless abandon (totaling nearly three hours of music).

Silver & Gold surpasses its predecessor both in style and scope by taking a wider stance and embracing a more liberal ethos. The box-set sails through musical fashions as various as ornaments on a Christmas tree (covering songs from John Dowland to Johnny Marks). The folksy old-world renaissance of Gloria (Vol. 6) gives way to bi-polar impertinence on I Am Santa’s Helper (Vol. 7). Christmas Infinity Voyage (Vol. 8) looks to the cosmos (and the drum machine) for inspiration, while Let It Snow (Vol. 9) and Christmas Unicorn (Vol.10) show a giddy return to form, unselfconsciously reveling in all the bubble-gum show tunes from the 1950s and 60s (“A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Sleigh Ride,” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” to name a few).

There are also 18 original songs intermixed throughout (some of them co-written or wholly composed by guest collaborators). Sufjan’s contribution to the Christmas canon exhibits an ever-expanding canopy of approaches: there’s the moody and affectionate Christmas ballad (“Happy Karma Christmas”), an ecclesiastical take on the Burl Ives classic “Silver & Gold” (re-titled here as “Justice Delivers Its Gift”), the rowdy, garage-rock, rumble-in-the-snow-bank (“Mr. Frosty Man”) and the psychedelic pop-anthem (“Christmas Unicorn”) that attempts to reconcile new age magic, fantasy fiction, and the commodification of Christmas with expository deftness.

Silver & Gold is more than just another Christmas album, but an ongoing exercise in theme and variation, an annual tradition that offers this songwriter a chance to experiment with fashion and technique without taking himself too seriously. Sufjan’s playful (yet purposeful) expedition through the superficial landscape of sugar plum fairies and marshmallow fluff has produced an exuberant musical account of “all things Christmas” in the pursuit of the sublime. What distinguishes this project from the glut of Christmas albums saturating the market today are Sufjan’s unguarded enthusiasm for the genre itself (the sense of freedom he shows in celebrating with reverence and rebellion) and the belief that Christmas music contains a multiplicity of sacred and secular significance (from Baby Jesus to Babes in Toyland) that is ultimately ours for the taking. It’s safe to say that no one has taken it further than Sufjan, for better and for worse.

Thanks for listening and may all your Christmas dreams come true.

Silver & Gold will be available in digital download, a CD box-set available November 13th, with a limited edition of 2000 vinyl box-sets available later this year or early 2013.

A special edition of the vinyl boxset, which will include some extra surprises, is available to US/Canada/EU for pre-order:

http://sufjanstevens.bandcamp.com/album/silver-gold

The CD Boxset includes: (price not listed yet)

1. Five CD EPs

2. Christmas stickers

3. Temporary tattoos  (non-toxic & safe for children)

4. A paper ornament (self-assembly with directions)

5. An apocalyptic pull-out poster

6. Song lyrics and chord charts (sing along with your friends and enemies)

7. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design (by Sufjan Stevens, drug-free since 1975)

8. Extensive liner notes (introductory salutations and an essay on the Christmas tree by Sufjan Stevens, and a few theological words on the End Times by Pastor Vito Aiuto)

The vinyl boxset includes: ($120 + S/H)

1. Five EPs on 6 vinyl discs

2. Christmas stickers

3. Temporary tattoos

4. A paper ornament

5. A 40-page Christmas songbook with vocal and piano reductions

6. A Christmas coloring book

7. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design

8. Extensive liner notes

Whoa!

Sufjan Stevens Lego Movie

~Dan – np: Carla Kihlstedt & Matthias BossiNiagara Falling: Tales for the Stage, III

Ben Folds Five 4/26 “airplane blog”

27th Apr 12 (Fri) Leave a comment

5/4/12 Update: Ben Folds posted the 1st sneak peak (full track, free mp3 download) from the upcoming Ben Folds Five record…Do It Anywayhttp://bit.ly/IR7qg1

Ben Folds posted the following “airplane blog” last night on Facebook about the work they’ve done on the upcoming Ben Folds Five record… lots of news and insight…

About Ben Folds Five, the new album.

I’m writing this on a plane. I tweeted that I wanted to blog and most responses were – blog about the new album. Fine, I’ll start there. I won’t correct grammar or spelling so hopefully we’ll all deal. I’m typing as fast as I can… and I type damn fast if I do say so myself. I just screw up a lot….

The album started in January. We just started playing and recorded shitloads of stuff.

A way that I often wrote for us was to just sit and imagine what kind of sound, song, sentiment, arrangement I’d like to hear us do. It’s easy to imagine because we have a very distinct style of playing together that was pretty much writ in stone from our first rehearsal on. There were a couple of breakthroughs back in the day… Eddie Walker was one. We figured out some tonal stuff – the floor tom ride with lots of AAAHS and fuzz bass on the chorus was a defining technique for instance.

On the new album we’ve discovered quite a few new things like that. We’re tonally a few steps into the future. I remember when bands all had a ‘sound’. I know that sounds like a total old man thing to say, but hey if the orthopedic shoe fits… You know, a band that just set up their shit, played in the corner and just had a fresh sound. I’m not saying there’s no style today, just that plugging in and working with what you have makes you work hard to find a sound… okay. I’m rambling but that’s what I promised to do in the blog.

So we played hours of stuff on tape and it was inspired. Quite insane. I got little sleep for weeks as I had idea after idea on how to make these sounds into songs. I’d spend the mornings at the piano and then the guys would come in. It was a burst. We began on Pro Tools with the idea of moving off when we started recording ‘for real’ but we saw no advantage of moving over as we were only using the Tools as a tape deck anyway and were enjoying the freedom of being able to record more than a fifteen minutes of music at a time.

We set up in my studio in the same room with a little baffling, but without the interest in separation. In other words, for engineers, we welcomed bleed.

Lyrically it began to take shape quickly and we were much richer in ideas and material than any of the albums we did together. We were supporting each other, trying each idea instead of poo poo-ing each other’s creativity. It was a pretty amazing experience. UNTIL…

We ran out of time because I had stuff to do, Darren had a Hotel Lights tour and Robert’s son is too young to leave for too long. So we stopped and that’s where we are.

The lyric stuff. Loss of ego. That emerged as a theme. Ways to lose the ego. Funny thing is that I didn’t realize that each of those ego losing songs would be failures. I mean, each character who aspired to do so only succeeds for a short time and then the ego comes back. I guess that’s the way it works in real life. Anyway… for instance…. Being Frank. That’s a song on the album. It’s kind of historical fiction in a way. Certainly when Frank Sinatra died, he had a tour manager and let’s say that tour manager was with him his whole career. Decades. When Frank passed the tour manager might have realized that he’d spent most of his adult life setting the thermostat for someone else, eating his leftovers, essentially trying to think like Frank to anticipate his needs. Frank’s death would have been a crisis but an exciting one. How to be yourself when someone you’re attached to is gone. What kind of coffee do you like, who are you really? But then I started to realize that that tour manager would have wanted to take some credit for Frank’s career. He suggested THAT lyric or that TV show etc. Frank was really being HIM. Loss of ego, failure.

Other songs titles… Erase Me. Do It Anyway. The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind (that’s Nick Hornby’s lyric and my music). Sky High (beautifully written Darren song). We really spent quite a bit of production time on Sky High. It warranted it. You know that 10cc trick where they looped vocals, unison AHHHs and assigned each note to a fader on the console? Then they play the console like it’s a keyboard using the faders. We did that. Nobody does that and they should. It’s not “copying” 10cc… it’s recognizing that they invented an instrument. We play that instrument on Sky High. I’ll put up video of that. It’s kinda interesting.

What else… I’ve had a chorus that goes “If you can’t draw a crowd, draw dicks on the wall” for quite a while. Since Reinhold era. It had different melodies, but I always liked the idea. When someone wants attention and they don’t get it, often we do something really stupid or even destructive. The song is Draw A Crowd. It’s partially silly and partially deep. Many will latch on to the silly part and give me shit for it and maybe when they grow up they’re get the other part. If not, oh well. It’s okay. I like Kesha songs and some people don’t.

We’ll get back together in June. We kinda fucked up. We meant to finish the album and then do gigs. But we’re doing a few festivals and will be paddling ferociously between those gigs to finish our album. That’s alright. Deadlines are good.

I suppose the album should come out in September and we do not want to release it traditionally at all. I’m all into traditional record releases but for this one… I want to avoid ass kissing. It’s not healthy. I think we’re going to pass on radio promo and on most advance press. No sending it out for reviews etc. We’ll just let you know through Twitter and Facebook that it’s coming out. That’s the idea, and we’ll see how that goes. Maybe we’ll adjust our thinking. Just seems like such a musical experience I hate to be in the position of selling it to people who don’t care. I’d rather spend my time telling people who DO care and save the money and time. Sell fewer records probably to those who want it. That leaves more time to make new records and tour. Less ass kissing, more music and life. A good theory… we’ll see… lemme know what you think of that theory.

What else can I tell you. If you’re a Robert fan, you’ll shit. He’s better than ever and we’ve grown into knowing how to put him up front and letting him do what he does. Darren is playing lyrically as ever, like a fine jazz drummer – cymbals are gorgeous and he doesn’t give a damn so every once in a while he just makes a mockery of every drum fill you’ve ever heard but does it twice as crazy and makes it mean something. It’s quite damn amazing. Look out for what he does on a song called Michael Praytor. That song comes from a ‘rock this bitch’ partially. I’d always liked the melody but it comes to life with Robert and Darren in a way I never expected. Its a song about how some people just come back and back into your life whether you like it or not. You don’t choose them, they just show up.

There you go. I’ll do another blog now. The record pops out of the speakers and I’m finding myself wondering if we should tone it down. Nope. I think it’ll be just fine.

~Dan – np: Many ArmsMany Arms

2011 mix

24th Dec 11 (Sat) 6 comments

Time for this year’s mix CD, except I decided to go CD-free this year.  It’s still formatted to stay contained on one CD (20 tracks ~77 mins); so if you want to download the whole shebang and burn to a CD – go for it!

Check out 2009’s mix over here and 2010’s mix over here.  No major theme this time like some of my prior mixes (4 Elements & A-to-Z mixes)… the only rule I placed before myself was that everything is current (i.e.- released in 2011).  This year’s mix ended up mellower than most mixes from me.  There are a few rock songs, but whilst re-listening, it’s definitely less rocky.  I hope you enjoy.

The following songs were put on the mix from mostly lossless sources where possible and for promotional purposes only (read: free direct market advertising to people who decidedly love music). Most of the artists on this compilation are independent (put out the music themselves) or signed to smaller, independent labels. If you like what you hear, check out their music / support them with your wallet if you are able. The artists’ Webpage, Facebook, and Amazon links are available for each song below. I’ve also included concert review links if I’ve seen the artist recently.

Download the ZIP File (136M) available *HERE*, extract then drag & drop the mp3 files to your iTunes (or other playback software).

All Songs Streaming Playlist (click arrows to skip back & forth… for individual songs find them below. Note: Track 20 has explicit content.)

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01 PusciferThe Green Valley” from Conditions of My Parole

Tool / A Perfect Circle frontman Maynard James Keenan makes wine and makes other music in his time off from Tool and APC.  I loved Puscifer’s debut and the subsequent EP, but this album tops it all.  It’s a brilliant record, recorded in one of his wine cellars with his friends – featuring backing vocals from Carina Round.  It’s self-released by Puscifer music with a small distribution partner (available in indie shops, primarily).  While there are some rockers (maybe 1/3 of the album), this song is fairly representative of the feel of the album.  It’s my #1 album in 2011.

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02 My Brightest DiamondBe Brave” from All Things Will Unwind

Shara Worden (aka My Brightest Diamond) took some time off since her last album – 2008’s A Thousand Shark’s Teeth.  She put out some stunning collaborations in the past three years (including her first kiddo); so the lapse in studio work was a-OK.  On this album, Shara teams up with NYC-based ensemble yMusic to create a lush backdrop for her gorgeous voice.  It’s my #2 album in 2011.  I can’t praise it enough!

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03 Ric HordinskiMy Pretty Bagatelle” from Arthur’s Garden

Guitarist extraordinaire Ric Hordinski (formerly of Over the Rhine – in their rockier days) has been a favorite of mine for a LONG TIME. He’s the kind of guitarist who is subtle and unassuming in his approach, but you end up wracking your brain how he gets such lush and complex sounds out of the frets.  This album was part of a Kickstarter campaign, and while the physical manifestation hasn’t hit my mailbox yet, I was happy he sent it out to Kickstarter funders early.  It’s such a great record… you can get it now on bandcamp!

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04 Goddamn Electric BillSin” from Jazz

GdEB is the one-man brainchild of Jason Torbert.  He hits the spot for organic electronic meets post-rock for me.  Ambient at times, melodic other times.  His latest work has featured some vocals, but he’s primarily a groove-induced soundscape kind of guy.  Chirps and glitches, too.  Excellent stuff!

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05 RadioheadCodex” from The King of Limbs

I could probably put the “indie” icon next to Radiohead, too… I think technically they put TKOL out by themselves.  But they’re a huge superpower of a band.  I like this record, but I’ll admit that it’s still sinking in… I need to give it some more spins.  This album spawned a seven 7″ vinyl remix set.  The video for “Lotus Flower” also spawned a silly “Thom Yorke dancing” meme… one of my favorites being the tennis/fish and the “Single Ladies” editions.

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06 Garage A TroisAssault on Precinct 13” from Always Be Happy, But Stay Evil

Skerik, Stanton Moore, Marco Benevento (who replaced Charlie Hunter) and Mike Dillon make their way through Oregon quite a bit.  They are a sight to see – you don’t know exactly what kind of show you’ll get, but it’s definitely a fun time.  Fun, groove-oriented “new jazz.”

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07 dredgThe Tent” from Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy

I love this band.  I hate the album title, but I love the band.  Modern progressive rock, tons of talent, thoughtful lyrics, none of that “prog wankery” that is generally detestable.  While it’s hard for them to follow-up the stunning The Pariah The Parrot The Delusion, this new album does a hearty job of maintaining their quality rock standards.

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08 Tres Mts.Makes Me Feel” from Three Mountains

Supergroup made up of dUg Pinnick of King’s X, Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam, and Richard Stuverud of the Fastbacks.  They jangle through about an hour of solid rock tunes… more closely resembling a soulful King’s X trajectory vs. Pearl Jam – mainly due to dUg’s vocal duties.  This is a great trio that I hope isn’t a one-off.  With King’s X on tour in 2012, I doubt we’ll hear more from Tres Mts for a while, though.

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09 Chamberlain/Krauss/PhelpsEverest” from Modular: Sonic Explorations

Gorgeous soundscapes from Matt Chamberlain, Viktor Krauss, and Dan Phelps.  The Modular Project is the collaboration of the aforementioned musicians working together to “discover what the spontaneous and organic manipulation of sound can yield. Inspired by the world around them, they set out to discover what it might sound like when continents shift, clouds form, and roots push through soil.”  This track, “Everest,” features one of my favorite cellists – Eyvind Kang (who has worked with Secret Chiefs 3, John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Mike Patton).  It’s a great mix of cello, vibes and soaring atmosphere.  It’s only available digitally or on vinyl (it’s a luscious triple-gatefold!)…

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10 Jeffrey FoucaultPasserines” from Horse Latitudes

Jeffrey Foucault is a favorite Americana artist that I got turned on to by singer-songwriter/storyteller Peter Mulvey.  Jeffrey and Peter work together in the band Redbird (with David Goodrich and Jeffrey’s wife Kris Delmhorst).  I didn’t pick up Jeffrey’s albums until the past year and a half.  He’s definitely more on the cusp of country than I tend to traverse, but I dig his authenticity, poetic wit and charm.  He’s a delight on stage and a fantastic Prine-esque songwriter for the new generation.

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11 Peter Mulvey & David GoodrichDrumlin Trail” from Nine Days Wonder

Peter Mulvey has toured all over the US and the world for about 2 decades.  Some of the first times I saw him in concert, he had “Goody” with him on backing guitar.  They don’t get a chance to tour together much lately, but they did find some time to hole-up inside a studio to write and record some instrumental guitar duets.  While I love Peter’s vocal storytelling, it’s nice to hear his and Goody’s instrumental interplay tell a different story.

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12 Steven WilsonHome in Negative” from Grace for Drowning

Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson is a hard worker.  Whether he’s producing albums for others or making albums & touring with PT, Blackfield, No-Man, Storm Corrosion, or solo – he’s always busy each and every year.  This year brought his second solo album and a small tour.  The album is a bit more stripped down from his other projects.  It is reminiscent of Pink Floyd in spots – specifically this song “Home in Negative.”  He also rocks out a bit in the almost two hour double album… check out the video for “Track One” here (it’s a bit bleak then startling).  Gorgeous work.

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13 WussyPulverized” from Strawberry

Well, I was super happy when I found out that Wussy was putting out their fourth full-length studio album this year. They’re a fantastic rock quartet made up of Chuck Cleaver, Lisa Walker, Mark Messerly, and Joe Klug. They write catchy, poppy choruses and meld it perfectly with Midwest Americana-meets-indie-rock grit (or “Midwestern drone” as their press says).   Vocal duties are traded off with Chuck (of Ass Ponys) and Lisa (of Magic Words).

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14 PomplamooseTelephone” from The Album You Bought At Our Show…

This is the song that got me into Pomplamoose.  It’s a cover of the collaboration between Lady Gaga and Beyoncé (whose ridiculous but still kind awesome original video has 129 million hits as of Dec 2011).  Pomplamoose does “video songs,” and this was the hook to lure me in.  Click the image at the left to see their video of the song.  The CD came out this year as part of their first tour ever… which I caught in Portland.  Excellent, fun band!

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15 David BazanWolves at the Door” from Strange Negotiations

Continuing in his solo expressions after the official ceasing of Pedro the Lion, David Bazan manifests wit, a sharp tongue, and a questioning mind into his DIY-indie rock.  This year, he toured quite a bit, solo and with a band.  An album last year (Curse Your Branches), an album this year, and another on the way.  He’s slogging away, trekking all over the country, and making some great music on the way.

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16 John ZornSong of Experience” from At the Gates of Paradise

“Channeling the work of Romantic visionary William Blake and ancient Gnostic writings from the Nag Hammadi archives, At the Gates of Paradise is the newest installment in Zorn’s ever growing catalog of mystical works. The music is filled with bright light and a childlike innocence, and ranges from long form compositions with constantly shifting time signatures that unfold with a compelling inner logic to mysterious ballads and hypnotic moods.”  The album features a quartet that I know and love from many jazz/avant outfits: drummer Joey Baron (Masada and many more), bassist Trevor Dunn (Mr Bungle, Fantômas, Nels Cline Singers), keyboardist John Medeski (Medeski Martin & Wood) and vibraphonist Kenny Wollesen (Sex Mob, Electric Masada, etc).

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17 Over the RhineDays Like This” from The Long Surrender

For those that don’t know Over the Rhine, they started out as a four piece in Cincinnati in 1989 and put out their “post-nuclear, pseudo-alternative, folk-tinged art-pop” indie debut ‘Til We Have Faces in 1991. After about a decade as a four-piece, Ric Hordinski (guitars) & Brian Kelley (drums) left.  Karin Bergquist (vocals) & Linford Detweiler (keys) carried on the Over the Rhine flame throughout the years… moving away from a rockier feel to a more folky-pop-Americana thing. What I like about Over the Rhine is they continually change and evolve into a different band with each album and each outing. I’ve seen them rock out, I’ve seen them jazz it up, I’ve seen them happy, I’ve seen them somber, I’ve seen them celebratory, and I’ve seen them tell stories that will make you laugh and cry.  This tune was written by fellow Cincinnati singer-songwriter Kim Taylor (it originally appeared on her 2008 EP The Greatest Story).  I’d highly recommend checking her out as well.

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18 Elysian FieldsSleepover” from Last Night On Earth

Brooklyn-based sultry art rockers Elysian Fields don’t really tour outside of NYC often.  Jennifer Charles and Oren Bloedow find their way to Europe on occasion, but most U.S. fans only really have their studio albums to sate their musical desires.  This is their sixth full-length album in their near 16-year career.  Well crafted, well produced, lush vocals and folk meets dusky jazz.

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19 Kevin MooreHypnogogic” from Shine

This is a little palette cleanser for the mix CD – right before the end.  Kevin Moore’s main projects are the trippy/sample-heavy Chroma Key & heavier prog collaboration band O.S.I. (with Jim Matheos).  Shine is the soundtrack to the 2006 Turkish film Küçük Kiyamet (“Little Apocalypse“).  It came out in early 2011 after a successful Kickstarter in 2010.  The next album from O.S.I. comes out in February 2012 on Metal Blade.  I can almost guarantee it will be my Top album of 2012, and I haven’t heard a shred of it yet.

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20 Childish GambinoHeartbeat” from Camp (warning: explicit content)

I first heard of Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover) like many people – via television.  Donald plays Troy Barnes on NBC’s Community.  I’ve heard a few of his albums, but this was his first full-length with a wide release.  This song almost didn’t make the cut, but the melody in the chorus and the grinding keyboards just made it to difficult to ultimately cut from the mix.  Brilliant song about the messiness of dating.  If you’d like the “clean” version of the song, there is a “clean” version of the whole album on Amazon.

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Near misses from the mix: something from Earth’s Angels of Darkness Demons of Light 1 & Opeth’s Heritage (songs are too long) and Azealia Bank’s “212” (infectious as hell)… plus songs from several other albums that’ll still be on my Best of 2011 lists (coming soon).

Let me know what you think… If you enjoyed what you heard, please support the music.  Definitely feel free to pass the link the mix along:

http://tinyurl.com/MixyD2011

~Dan – np: Florence + the MachineCeremonials

there are no torrents, free mp3 or other downloads available

Damien Jurado – Maraqopa (Feb 2012)

16th Nov 11 (Wed) 1 comment

From Secretly Canadian’s blog…

We are so, so excited to tell you that a new Damien Jurado record is going to be released on February 21st! It’s called Maraqopa, and we are sharing the first song with you, “Nothing is the News,” today.

Welcome to Maraqopa population, 2. Damien Jurado’s newest collaboration with producer Richard Swift drops us into a brutal and benevolent landscape. The bold strokes and new turns the pair made with 2010′s Saint Bartlett are taken even further. He throws open the gate on his oft insular dirges and allows them do some real wilding out in the canyon. In Maraqopa, the vistas are miles-wide; the action is more dynamic; the close-ups sweaty and snarling. The strummed desert blues that begin “Nothing is the News” quickly bursts open into an Eddie Hazel-worthy supernova shred session, all of it swirling in tinny-psych and Echoplex’d howls. We’ve never heard anything like this from Jurado.

Read more at the SC blog.  You can pre-order it HERE on CD or vinyl.

Listen to (and download the mp3 for) the lead-off track “Nothing is the News” here:

Maraqopa Tracklisting:
1. Nothing is the News
2. Life Away from the Garden
3. Maraqopa
4. This Time Next Year
5. Reel to Reel
6. Working Titles
7. Everyone a Star
8. So On, Nevada
9. Museum of Flight
10. Mountains Still Asleep

Also announced was a “phone booth” that you can presumably call in and leave Damien a message:

Maraqopa phonebooth (425) 234-7859

This number has been set up for you to call anytime of the day. The distorted sound of a piano will play, and then you leave a message. This is a voice mail service, no human will answer.

I have no idea what the purpose of this phone booth may be… I dare you  to call in an order of take out.

~Dan – np: Causing A TigerHow We Held Our Post

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