Reasons I am super fond of Cicada Ball, by The Boxcar Boys: 1) Awesome cover art! They even have the creepy silvery wings. It only be better if some of them had red eyes. 2) Awesome tunes! The Boxcar Boys specialize in Dixieland jazz-folk fusion, featuring horns, mandolins, accordions, and the occasional burst of klezmer. Unlike actual cicadas, they’re good company on a lazy late-summer afternoon. Some examples: Shaking off the Cobwebs is a peppy little instrumental number: Cicada Ball by The Boxcar Boys Old Tracks, one of the few non-instrumental tracks, features sweet beautiful vocals by Kelsey McNulty: Cicada Ball by The Boxcar Boys And finally The Busker, which is both the longest and the most spare and delicate song on the record: Cicada Ball by The Boxcar Boys To listen to the rest, check them out at Bandcamp.
“Kudos to those with the broke nose breathing it in” Truth is, I should have been writing about Leeds band Post War Glamour Girls here a long time ago, but sometimes the relationship between a listener and a band plays out like a film romance – a glance across a crowded room, light and awkward flirtation, mixed signals, the listener ends up going home with some other band only to run into the first band again at some coffee shop, and stilted conversation is followed up by falling into bed together. You know, metaphorically speaking. In short, I am remiss for not mentioning it before, but PWGG are a good band. A really good band. Their 2014 full-length debut, Pink Fur, still enjoys heavy rotation in my listening and can still make me gape in wonder. Now, in the run-up to their next LP, to be released in October, PWGG are offering some of those new songs free for a limited time (as in, it was announced on August 14th that it would be free for two weeks, and it’s the 18th now, so…) in the form of the Feeling Strange (Part 1) EP. Listen and download below. Feeling Strange … Continue reading
Chill Out Drown Out: music for when you need to, well, chill out, and also drown out extraneous noise. Tunes for calming down and concentrating on important tasks or just having a peaceful time in the middle of a hurricane of a day/week/month/year/existence. I occasionally feel bad when my highest recommendation for something is “this is excellent background noise,” but – it is truly one of the finest accolades I can give. It means the music has successfully walked the fine line between “delicate, beautiful, but unobtrusive, integrates well into the process of multi-tasking” and “so boring I forgot the first song half-way through.” Resplendent, by In Vivid (Ben Snook, of Lawrence, KS) is indeed delicate and beautiful. The swirling textures and gently propulsive energy make it – for me, at least – ideal for tasks that require concentration and creativity. And, best of all, it stands up to repetition; I listened to it three times in a row one night last week and never got sick of it. Here are three songs to whet your appetite, chosen at least in part because I liked the titles. Lightswitch Indicator: The second song on the record, this one is for when … Continue reading
It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss. In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire. Oiseaux-Tempête, more or less of Paris, are an ever-changing entity. An iteration of the band that includes Frédéric D. Oberland and Stéphane Pigneul (FareWell Poetry and Le Réveil des Tropiques), Ben McConnell (Beach House, FareWell Poetry, Marissa Nadler) and bass clarinet virtuoso Gareth Davis (Elliott Sharp and Robin Rimbaud (aka Scanner)) have just released ÜTOPIYA?, … Continue reading
A year of rock n’ roll, in pictures, including two shows from late December 2013, which I shot after I posted last years’ Year in Pictures. Tonight I’m headed out to dance the New Year in with Erasure (!); have fun and be safe, y’all, and I’ll see you on the other side. The Districts, Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY, Dec. 30, 2013 The Felice Brothers, Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY, Dec. 30, 2013 Team Spirit, Irving Plaza, New York, NY, Dec. 31, 2013 Andrew W.K., Irving Plaza, New York, NY, Dec. 31, 2013 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 001, NGHBRS, Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ, Jan. 10, 2014 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 001, States and Kingdoms, Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ, Jan. 10, 2014 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 001, Frank Iero, Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ, Jan. 10, 2014 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 001, The Gay Blades, Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ, Jan. 10, 2014 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 002, Fred Mascharino, St. Vitus, Brooklyn, NY, Jan. 18, 2014 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 002, States and Kingdoms, St. Vitus, Brooklyn, NY, Jan. 18, 2014 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 002, Geoff Rickley, St. Vitus, Brooklyn, NY, Jan. 18, 2014 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 002, Frank Iero, St. Vitus, Brooklyn, NY, Jan. 18, 2014 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 002, I Hate … Continue reading
A mix-tape, whatever its intended purpose, is also always a time capsule. A record of a person, a place, a set of feelings, a time that felt like forever, and then wasn’t. Last week I opened a box and a little piece of the ’90s fell out: the first driving mix-tape I ever made. There’s no date on it, but I’m pretty sure it’s from the spring of 1992, since that is approximately when I would have gotten my license. Fun trivia fact: I learned to drive on the Beltway. In a Chevette. Anyway it is a hilarious cultural trainwreck and I kind of love it, not least because a mix that starts with Dwight Yoakam, dips heavily into, among other things, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Elvis Costello in the middle, and ends with Ashokan Farewell probably does still sum me up as a person reasonably well. Also, I have a terrible pop music problem and every time I listen to Five Seconds of Summer’s She Looks So Perfect I start laughing when they get to I got a mix tape straight out of ’94 because, dudes, I was there, I remember, and most … Continue reading
I clicked “play” on The Carrier by Dirtwire (David Satori (Beats Antique) and Evan Fraser (Stellamara)), with a good deal of curiosity, and, based on the cover art, expecting something heavy and dissonant and dark, maybe an experimental noise space opera set in a dystopian future. As it turns out I was wrong. Well, mostly wrong: heavy and dark in places, yes, dissonant experimental noise, no. (That said: I do like dissonant experimental noise space operas and they are also welcome in my inbox.) Anyway. Back to the music at hand, which is a refreshing fusion of Appalachian and world rhythms – experimental noise in its own way, perhaps – which I have already listened to on repeat three times. This is the good stuff, y’all, go on and get it. Some examples to whet your appetite: Only One, a slow-burn stomper, which you can have for the cost of your email address: The Carrier EP by dirtwire Yunan, an instrumental number that mixes and matches twanging strings and hand-claps to delicious effect: The Carrier EP by dirtwire And finally Bottles, which, okay, maybe could be part of a dystopian space opera, what with all the cold echoes: The Carrier … Continue reading
Cash for Gold are: Jordan Knight (vocals/guitars), George D’Annunzio (drums/back up vocals) and Stella Sue (bass/piano/back up vocals), and they are from San Francisco, CA. Swan Dive is their first record, and it’s a wild ride. A wild, glorious, ride. This Out All the Time, the first song, which starts out with one of favorite things – big aggressive guitars – and then becomes a sprawling tale of love and self destruction. This is Sunshine, which starts slow (well, slow-er) and rolls into my absolute favorite thing: a fast sea chantey hammer-stomp: Swan Dive by Cash For Gold The rest of the record switches between dreamy saltwater-shoegaze (Keen, Mexico and Swan Dive) and jagged surf-infused punk (Cobra Fight, The Witches) and is in all ways awesome. If you’d like to hear it live and in person: they’re having a record release show on Oct. 16, at Slim’s, in San Francisco. If I could be there, I would. Here’s hoping their future plans include coming east.
It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss. In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire. Cory Branan recently released his fourth album, No-Hit Wonder; the title track is below. The song, like the record, feels – lived-in, I guess – familiar and a little rough around the edges. It’s also sharply observed; the lyrics have bite in unexpected ways. Other highlights include All The Rivers in Colorado (my personal favorite); … Continue reading
Mumblr, of Philadelphia, have recently released their first full-length effort. It is called Full of Snakes. The accuracy of that title will depend entirely on your personal feelings about snakes. (I have a certain wary appreciation, providing no venemous fangs are in evidence.) I have a good deal warmer feelings about the record; it’s brash and messy and weird and contains a love letter to Philadelphia which gets stuck in my head every time I listen to it: But there are also tunes like Sober, which is distorted, fuzzy, primal shriek of anxiety: And Greyhound Station which seething, roaring meditation on the strange combination of sweaty exhaustion, low-level terror, and rage that eventually settles on anyone required to spend any time in the titular location: It can be a challenging listen, at times, but it is absolutely worth it. In conclusion: here is the video for I Think About You All The Time – also their first video ever – which contains a dude in green paint for no apparent reason and some nudity towards the end. Adjust your viewing plans accordingly. You can listen to the rest of the record here on Soundcloud, at least for now. Alternatively you … Continue reading