Monday, June 29, 2015

Funeral Advantage - "Sisters"

Photo via Facebook
I wrote about Funeral Advantage last month when they played the Harvard Square Mayfair, mentioning that their songs sounded like Smiths covers. After hearing "Sisters," the first song off their upcoming album, I may be wrong. "Sisters" is a lovely dream-pop song, and far too summery too ever be compared to The Smiths. It's very light and synth heavy and reminds me of a more ethereal version of The Anniversary. After hearing their previous material, this is a huge step forward for them song and production wise. Expect huge things from their debut.

Funeral Advantage's debut album, Body Is Dead, is due out August 25 on The Native Sound. You can pre-order it now on the label's Bandcamp or iTunes. For more on Funeral Advantage, including previous releases, check out their Bandcamp or Facebook. If you're in the Boston area, they have a show coming up July 23 at The Middle East in Cambridge. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Live Shows: Mission of Burma and Guerilla Toss, 3S Artspace, Portsmouth, NH 6/24/15

Photo by Ken Sears
After realizing I haven't seen Mission of Burma since 2004, and since I don't want to shell out the prices to see them open for Foo Fighters at Fenway Park next month, I had no other option but to road trip up to Portsmouth, NH on a Wednesday night. Luckily, there was also a brand new music venue to check out when I got there. 

3S Artspace has been open for about three months. It's a combination restaurant/gallery/performance space. Seeing a show at a "performance space" is always a bit iffy, but these guys seem to have it together. The diamond shape of the space and the chairs lining the walls gave off a bit of a rec center vibe, but once the show started that was all forgotten. Great sound, great lighting, and an air conditioned room made this one of my new favorite venues. Their calendar tells me I'll be heading up to Portsmouth more often than not from now on.

Photo by Ken Sears
Guerilla Toss opened the show, and I wasn't sure what to expect. I've heard great things about them, but their albums always seem a little too experimental to me. All the positive reports seem to come from their live show, and I now agree. Despite having an amazingly bad day (their van was towed on the way to the gig, leaving them stuck on the side of the road in Worcester, MA), they put on an amazingly energetic show. What first seemed like just pure discordant noise with no real rhythm or plan eventually started to show a real funk side. They introduced a few songs as "party songs," which turned out to be a legit claim once you paid attention and focused. Guerilla Toss just might be America's noisiest funk band. 

Photo by Ken Sears
You can't discuss Guerilla Toss without mentioning singer Kassie Carlson. One of the most energetic frontpeople you'll see in music, She barely stood still during the entire set and just personified their entire sound. What was truly unique is that she actually seemed to be focusing the music with her movements and not just going through a pre-planned routine. Even if you don't like the music of Guerilla Toss, check them out someday just for her.
Photo by Ken Sears

Mission of Burma are the absolute ideal band going through a reunion. At no point do they seem bored or just going through the motions for a paycheck. They seem genuinely happy to be playing together for the few shows they do a year. Roger Miller particularly seems thrilled for every song and has more energy than a musician half his age. It shows how strong a band's reunion is that they can make up half their set with newer material. Then again, the reunion has produced more of an output than their original run, so it makes complete sense. What is truly telling is that no one in the crowd seemed to care and reacted to all songs with enthusiasm. A song like "2wice" stands right up with classics like "Max Ernst." They even played a brand new song, "Buzz Your Soul." Peter Prescott was downright chatty behind the drum set, remarking that the crowd had the same make up they've always attracted: All men in the front row. They did go back to classics to close out their main set ("That's How I escaped My Certain Fate," "Max Ernst," and "Academy Fight Song") and closed out their encore with the one two punch of "This Is Not a Photograph" and "That's When I Reach for My Revolver."

Unfortunately, Mission of Burma doesn't have too many more live dates currently scheduled. Unless you're in NYC or Washington DC (or want to pay a bazillion dollars to watch them with the Foo Fighters), you're out of luck. If you are in those cities, go to their website for more details.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for June 23

Some minor housecleaning notes - with the music industry moving to a universal Friday release date, the current plan is to move First Listen to Monday or Tuesday (Monday preferred, but the real world gets in the way and all that). With it will be a slightly different format as well, so stay tuned. The understanding is that the first Friday release day will be July 10, so either the July 6 or July 13 releases will be impacted by the change, and I still haven't seen a straight answer.

Either way, stay tuned. New releases are afoot!

Four Tet - Morning/Evening: Four Tet had a surprise release this week with Morning/Evening, a solid listen for sure but one that is unliekly to excite people who aren't already inclined to be into Four Tet. I really liked it, perhaps even more than the previous effort, but this won't be for everyone.

Richard Thompson - Still
: Richard Thompson is one of those classic acts ("Wall of Death" is still an awesome song, and I'll fight anyone who disagrees) that seems to get overlooked for whatever reason. Still is a good album that sometimes dabbles in greatness and sometimes dabbles in "old man trying to be relevant" territory, and that unevenness is ultimately as appealing as some of the solid songs. It's definitely worth a listen, as it's hard to predict what you'd expect from this one.

Wolf Alice - My Love is Cool
: One of my more anticipated releases of this week, Wolf Alice's debut is like 90s grunge infused with a more modern sensibility, and it is just awesome. If you remember Feeder, this album really made me think back to that album a lot in terms of mood and tone, but what's impressive is that this band's permutations since their first EP has developed into a really full and solid sound. I'm a big fan of this album, and it's absolutely my release of the week.

Desaparecidos - Payola
: Conor Oberst's political punk-ish side project is back after more than a decade with a new album that remains overtly political without sacrificing musicality. It's a fun, nice, noisy listen that doesn't hold back while also not being so in your face with whatever messages are being portrayed where those less inclined to agree with Oberst would be thrown off. Fans of Oberst, of the band in general, of those looking for something louder? Give this a listen.

Bully - Feels Like
: If Wolf Alice is rocking the 1990s in a modern way, Bully is going full throwback and I love it. Seriously, give "Trying" a few minutes of your time and see if you don't fall for it right away. Bully is perhaps a little more understated than Wolf Alice, but it works in that the band is channeling their collective Juliana Hatfield more than anything else. Borderline required listening this week - it doesn't deserve to be overshadowed by Wolf Alice, and the two are wonderful companions to each other.

The Orb - Moonbuilding 2703 AD: The Orb are one of those classic electronic acts that sometimes, somehow gets lost in the shuffle when we talk about those great acts. This is four songs and fifty-plus minutes, and it has the classic Orb elements, and thus, well, like Four Tet, won't be for everyone. It's a solid listen, though, and definitely worth the time.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Phil Cook - "Great Tide"

Phil Cook appears to be one of the few producers that can actually become a great artist himself. A Wisconsin native, he's spent the last ten years in the south (currently calling Durham, NC home) and has been embraced by that music scene. He's played on, produced, or written for The Blind Boys of Alabama, Hiss Golden Messenger, Amy Ray, and more.

Now, it's his turn in the spotlight. "Great Tide" is the first song off his upcoming album, Southland Mission. It's the perfect blend of mainstream and alt-country, perfect for fans of Jason Isbell and Justin Townes Earle. The song takes maybe a minute to get going, but once it does it's a laid back down home country song with an energetic, sing-a-long chorus. There's also just a hint of psychedelia and jam band in there, but don't let that deter you.

Southland Mission is due out September 11 on Thirty Tigers and Middle West. For now, you can listen to "Great Tide" below, and check out Phil Cook's website. Also, you can find his current tour dates below "Great Tide."

6/24 Durham, NC - Duke Gardens
7/16 Eau Claire, WI - Eaux Claires
7/18 Eau Claire, WI - Eaux Claires
9/10 Raleigh, NC - Hopscotch Music Festival
9/22 New York, NY - Rough Trade NYC
9/24 Washington DC - DC9
10/3 Oslo, Norway - Opera House*
10/4 Goteborg, Sweden - Konserthuset*
10/5 Stockholm, Sweden - Cirkus*
10/6 Umea, Sweden - Idun*
10/8 Linkoping, Sweden - Crusell*
10/9 Falun, Sweden - Magasinet*
10/10 Aarhus, Denmark - Voxhall*
10/12 Cologne, Germany - E-Werk*
10/13 Berlin, Germany - Huxley's*
10/14 Vienna, Austria - Arena*
10/15 Milan, Italy - Alcatraz*
10/16 Zurich, Switzerland - Volkshaus*
10/17 Paris, France - La Bataclan*
10/19 London, UK - Roundhouse*
10/20 Glasgow, UK - O2 ABC*
10/21 Dublin, Ireland - Vicar Street*
10/23 Manchester, UK - Albert Hall*
10/24 Bexhill On Sea, UK - De La Warr*
10/25 Brussels, Belgium - AB*
10/27 Copenhagen, Denmark - Vega*

*with The Tallest Man on Earth

Gwenno - "Patriarchaeth"

Gwenno, aka Gwenno Saunders, used to be in The Pipettes from 2005-2010. Knowing The Pipettes, her solo work seems to come out of nowhere. While her previous band was a fun throwback to 60s girl groups (Gwenno sang lead on the hit "Pull Shapes"), Y DYDD OLAF (The Last Day) is a political concept album that was inspired by a 1976 Welsh sci-fi novel of the same name. The album's first single, "Patriarchaeth," is kraut-pop. It's still a throwback sound slightly updated, but more 80s than 60s this time around.

Y DYDD OLAF (The Last Day) is due out July 24 on Heavenly Recordings. For more information on Gwenno, check out her Facebook, Twitter, and website. Listen to "Patriarchaeth" below, and find her current tour dates below that.

Saturday 4th July - CARDIFF - Tafwyl 
Sunday 5th July - LIVERPOOL - Heavenly 25 @ Kazimier 
Sunday 19th July - SOUTHWOLD - Latitude 
Friday 31st July - CORNWALL - Port Eliot Festival 
Friday 14th August - CARDIGAN - Caught By The River 
Sunday 6th September - PORTMEIRION - Festival No. 6 
Thursday 17th September – LEEDS – Brudenell Games Room 
Friday 18th September – GLASGOW – The Hug & Pint  
Saturday 19th September – NEWCASTLE – Think Tank 
Sunday 20th September – MANCHESTER – Soup Kitchen 
Tuesday 22nd September – LONDON – Oslo 
Wednesday 23rd September – BRISTOL – Louisiana 
Thursday 24th September – BRIGHTON – The Basement  
Friday 25th September – CARDIFF – Clwb Ifor Bach 
Saturday 26th September – BIRMINGHAM – Rainbow Club

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mean Creek - "September Moon"

We're three days away from the final Mean Creek show, and to celebrate (?) the band has released a best of compilation on their Bandcamp. The compilation features "Forgotten Streets," which seemed to be the band's final song when it was released along with the announcement that they were breaking up. Turns out they have one more for us: "September Moon." Maybe it's because the news has time to settle in a bit more with "September Moon," but the song seems like more of a downer than "Forgotten Streets" did. "September Moon" is more loud and raucous as opposed to the pure anthem that is "Forgotten Streets." We should just be happy to get yet another final shot at music by our beloved Mean Creek, but this one hurts a little more.

Mean Creek are playing their final show opening for Soul Asylum and Meat Puppets at The Middle East in Cambridge on Thursday, June 25. You can get tickets here (although I am hoping for a headlining farewell show sometime in the near future). You can listen to "September Moon" below. "Best Of" Mean Creek is available for free on their Bandcamp, although all proceeds for purchases go to  the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund for the families of the victims of last week's Charleston, SC church shooting.

Rayland Baxter - "Yellow Eyes"

I first became aware of Rayland Baxter back when he was playing Newport Folk Festival in 2013, and I just couldn't get into him. I kept trying and trying to get into his album, but I just couldn't. It just didn't speak to me, and somehow seemed almost like a novelty record.

With the release of the first song off his upcoming album, everything has changed. "Yellow Eyes" is fantastic. It's indie folk/country at its absolute apex. Fragile and catchy vocals, laid back instrumentation with a beautiful guitar riff along with the chorus, the perfect amount of polish on the production... this song would be the hit of the summer if there was any justice in the world. With one song, Rayland Baxter has turned me into dismissing him to a raving fan.

Imaginary Man will be out August 14 on ATO Records. You can listen to "Yellow Eyes" below. For more information on Rayland Baxter, check out his website and Facebook or Twitter. His current tour dates are also included below.

June 23—Bergen, Norway—Ole Bull Teater*
June 24—Oslo, Norway—Vulkan Arena*
June 25—Trondheim, Norway—Byscenen*
June 26—Ostersund, Sweden—Gamla Teatern*
June 27—Uppsala, Sweden—Katalin*
June 28—Stockholm, Sweden—Mosebacke Establissement*
June 30—Falkenberg, Sweden—Hwitan*
July 3—Berlin, Germany—Monarch Berlin
July 8--London--Hoxton Bar and Kitchen
July 24 & 25—Floyd, VA—Floydfest
August 6—Boulder, CO—Triple A Radio Conference
August 25—Sparta, KY—Nifi Festival
October 2-4— Austin, TX—Austin City Limits Music Festival
October 9-11—Austin, TX—Austin City Limits Music Festival

Friday, June 19, 2015

Eddie Spaghetti of The Supersuckers is Fighting Cancer

Bad news for everyone: Eddie Spaghetti of The Supersuckers has been diagnosed with stage 3 oropharynx cancer. This summer he will undergo surgery and treatment to fight the cancer. This completely cancels the band's planned summer European tour, and put the upcoming Supersuckers album in jeopardy. 

As you probably know, musicians don't always have the best health care providers, and don't exactly have medical leave. There's a YouCaring page set up to help Eddie's family with medical expenses and to offset the loss of income from the cancelled tour. The Supersuckers aren't exactly a top 40 act, so the majority of their income comes from touring. As of this writing, $17,000+ of the $50,000 goal has been raised to help Eddie out. If you're looking to help, head over to the YouCaring page that's been set up.

In better Supersuckers news, Eddie Vedder showed up at the band's show at the Tractor in Seattle on 6/18 to perform the Ramones' "I Believe in Miracles." You can watch YouTube user Tami Goldfadim's video below.

Get better, Eddie.

Dean Sabatino - Augmenta Memoria

Dean Sabatino (aka Dean Clean) of the Dead Milkmen recently released his 3rd collection of "ambient electronic minimalist music." It's not quite the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Dead Milkmen, but all the members seem to play with other genres with side projects, so it makes sense. Dean's solo project is this eerie, creepy music that is so minimalistic that you'll almost forget it's on and it just blends in with whatever your surroundings are. It's not exactly music you supposed to listen to in the background at work, and it's probably not the best music to sooth you to sleep. According to his Bandcamp: " Listen in the car on a highway drive, or while walking in the woods. Try turning off all the lights and listening in a dark house at one in the morning. Put some nice headphones on and immerse yourself in these sounds." That sums it up pretty perfectly.

To check out Augmenta Memoria, head over to Dean Sabatino's Bandcamp. You should also check out The Dead Milkmen's website, since they recently announced somesummer and fall tour dates.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for June 16

Christopher Paul Stelling - Labor Against Waste: One of this year's Newport Folk acts, Labor Against Waste definitely feels like a standard folk album, and sometimes delves into Mumford-style driving musical moments. It's a pretty good album, fairly able to be overlooked given the quality of music out this week, but still a pretty decent listen on a whole.

The Lonesome Trio - The Lonesome Trio: Album of the week, and true contender for album of the year, is the debut album by The Lonesome Trio. I looked this up for one reason, and that's because Ed Helms of The Office is one of the members of the band. It turns out that it's one of the better roots records of recent memory, and would be absolutely worthy even if one of the members wasn't famous. Just really great from start to finish, and highly recommended.

Lenka - The Bright Side: Lenka's fourth album sounds a lot like Lenka. It's poppy yet sparse, feels happy but nothing is terribly sticky. I can't say it left much of any impression on me at all, to be honest, which I guess is a condemnation in itself. If you like Lenka, this is worth a listen, but it's nothing special.

Heartless Bastards - Restless Ones: In an era with so many throwback rock bands, post-rock bands, and so on, Heartless Bastards tend to stand out for me because of how straightforward they are. The ambiguous vocals, the mid-tempo songs, it all always works for me even if it's not the greatest thing released at a given time. If I have a complaint about this album, it's that the production values feel a little too polished, which doesn't always work with the sort of dirty rock and roll we've come to expect, but this is still a quality listen this week.

Giorgio Morodor - Deja Vu: Iconic producer and disco artist Giorgio Morodor's first album in 30 years is surprising not only due to the fact that it exists at all, but that it's surprisingly modern. I suppose working with Daft Punk might have some influence, but the result (with the exception of the really bizarre Britney Spears collaboration on "Tom's Diner") is a wonderful experience to listen to. If you're into electronic music, you owe yourself to listen to this. If you liked old disco, this is worth your time, too, given Morodor's record. Just a good time all around.

Alpine - Yuck: I forget what got me into Alpine initially, but what's the most interesting about the latest album is how utterly unmemorable it is. On first listen, I can't recall a thing about it except it sort of sounds like Alpine? That's not really good news, especially for acts that try to do something a little off-center. I'll give this another listen, but nothing sticks out for me on this one.

Mika - No Place in Heaven: Mika's style of pop cabaret still works really well even though I find myself less into it as I get older. This new album is filled with a lot of good hooks, and whether there's a solid winner like "Grace Kelly" was a few years back, I'm not entirely sure. Still, if you're into the type of thing that Mika is offering, this is definitely worth a spin.

Ryn Weaver - The Fool: Last week I mentioned how Florence and the Machine have gone a little more mainstream, and then here comes Ryn Weaver to fill that Florence gap rather nicely. It's a pretty straightforward album, sometimes maybe a little too over the top, but that's okay - it's still a pretty good album and a fairly decent gap-filler in that regard. Whether this will have legs or staying power remains to be seen, though. Certainly worth a listen, especially if you were looking for something different from Florence.

Nate Ruess - Grand Romantic: Nate Reuss, lead singer of Fun, former lead singer of The Format, offers his first solo album. Surprise, surprise, it sounds like a Fun album. I liked Aim and Ignite and found Some Nights to be insufferable, and this one is squarely in the middle, filled with both smart pop options and some excess to boot. I hesitate to call it a vanity project given how many things Ruess is involved with, but it sounds like a vanity project far too often, and perhaps that's the most damning part.

Mates of State - You're Going to Make It: Mates of State are back with a new EP, and it's definitely the most fun thing they've put out since their covers album about five years back. The leadoff track feels like classic Mates of State in many ways, and that's great, and this being a quick hit doesn't necessary hurt, either. If this is a teaser for a new album, consider me intrigued.

Toad the Wet Sprocket - The Architect of the Ruin: Toad the Wet Sprocket also dropped a surprise EP this week. The opening song is probably the most "rock" they've done since they got back together, and there's also a pretty straightforward take on Glen Phillips's solo song "Finally Fading" to go along with the six song EP. Overall? This is closer to what I've been hoping for from one of my all-time favorite bands. Assuming they continue to release music, here's to hoping we get more like this.

The Earnest Lovers - Sing Sad Songs: I hadn't heard of The Earnest Lovers prior to this week, but talk about a neat throwback country act, this one really hits the right notes for me. Not a ton to say except that you should check this out if classic country is your thing.

Kaia Kater - Sorrow Bound: Final new release today is from Kaia Kater, who is a young Canadian artist who has put out what is a fairly impressive, understated folk record. It's not an album that will hook you in immediately, but it's definitely one that I was a big fan of by the time it was over. I'm definitely looking to spend more time with it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Brooklyn's 90s Fest is Ironic In the Worst Possible Way

Normally, something called 90s Fest would have any music fan in their late 30s thrilled with even the mere possibility. But the recently announced 90s Fest taking place September 12 in Williamsburg is disappointing and more than a bit confusing.

The main problem seems to be that it doesn't know what it is. It's as if it's trying to be both a tribute to 90s culture and also be tongue in cheek kitschy at the same time, which is nearly impossible to pull off. First of all, the headliner is whatever the fuck passes for Blind Melon in 2015. You can't really explore the fun side of a band that was derailed by the singer's tragic death 20 years ago. Maybe their just trying to cater to kids that have no idea Shannon Hoon died, or even who Shannon Hoon is. Then there's Lisa Loeb. It may be 21 years since she hit it huge with "Stay (I Missed You)" and she seems to have a sense of humor about it, but she's also had a perfectly respectable career as a singer/songwriter since then releasing 9 studio albums. I can't picture people showing up for their "Ha ha! The 90s!" laugh enjoying a serious singer/songwriter.

Then there's the less serious artists. Smash Mouth? You can't put on anything resembling a serious music festival and include Smash Mouth. Besides, sure their debut came out in 1997, but their real success was after the 90s were over. Is anyone nostalgic for them at all? Plus, I remember there being a band named Tonic that I hated, but I can't remember anything else about them. Then they have some cover band called Saved By the 90s. Uh... yeah. Ok.

Coolio and Naughty By Nature have the 90s fun nostalgia vibe down perfectly. They are perfect editions no matter which direction the festival decided to go in. At least they got that part right.

Another part they got right is having Pauly Shore host. It's cheesy, but what 90s nostalgia lover wouldn't want to see the Weasel introducing bands? The rest of the nostalgia line up is pure shit. I guess there's some Instagram thing called FuckJerry and a "social media star" called Betches hosting a 90s themed bedroom. This just pushes the whole thing down the ironic hipster wormhole of hell.

This could have been a great event if they could just pick what they want to do. They could have done it as a fun but serious tribute to all things 90s by including bands that aren't as universally hated as Smash Mouth, or they could have booked Right Said Fred or Aqua instead of Blind Melon or Lisa Loeb.

If you're interested for whatever reason, you can check out the event's website here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Live Shows: Bad Religion, Plague Vendor, & No Trigger, Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA 6/15/15

Bad Religion are one of my favorite live bands. Once I realized I haven't seen them since the 2002 Warped Tour, I realized I had to see them. Mainly because they've been hinting for the last few years that they could retire at any moment, but also because the Paradise is a fraction of the size of the venues they normally play when they come around. Also, this was part of their "Battle of the Centuries" where they play two nights in a city: The first is all music from the 20th century, the second is all from the 21st century. The first night is definitely the more popular of the pair, selling out far in advance while tickets for tonight are currently still available.

No Trigger opened the show, and once they announced they were from Worcester, MA I assumed they were just some newfangled local opener. Turns out they have 21,000 Facebook followers as opposed to Plague Vendor's 7000 followers. Never having heard of them made me feel old. Then again, they are part of the "melodic hardcore" subgenre which I've never gotten into. Melodic hardcore, to me, is more of a louder emo. It still includes melodies, but also more screaming and harder music. It's not my preferred music, but it was good for what it was.

Plague Vendor seemed much more compelling. Fronted by a singer who was equal parts Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger, and Michael Jackson, they brought a bizarre version of trashy punk metal to the stage. Both punk and metal are genres that can get pretty repetitive. It's refreshing to see a band with a unique sound come from that. They seemed to confuse a decent portion of the crowd, particularly with the singer's dancing, but I'll take confusing over boring any time.

Regardless of the openers, this was Bad Religion's show. They owned the stage and the crowd's enthusiasm was more fervent than I've seen in a long time. Greg Gaffin hasn't looked like a standard punk rock front man in decades, and he looks it even less than he did in the 13 years since I saw them last. But the man can still spout some fierce vocals, which is all that truly matters. Pulling exclusively from their 80s and 90s material, you got to hear songs that would have been all but forgotten at any other show. One of the highlights is when they'd play a block of songs from one particular album, like 1989's No Control. They seemed to stick with their late 80s/early 90s catalog in particular, but no complaints from me. 

Gaffin also told some fantastic stories, which was just about the only time the crowd wasn't moshing. He admitted that his moshing days were behind him, and now he's the type to sit in the balcony sipping his brandy. He also told about missing their first ever Boston show at the soon to be closed TT the Bear's since they didn't realize it was an afternoon matinee and they arrived at 6:00. All in all they played for almost 90 minutes, which came to roughly 100 songs (obviously exaggerating). It was such a great set of songs that even if they missed your favorite, you hardly cared.

If this tour is coming to your city, you truly need to go. Bad Religion have been hinting at a break up for a few years now. You'll regret not checking them out one last time. Plus, it was the oldest crowd I've ever seen at an all ages show, even in the pit, so there is relatively no shot of being the Creepy Old Guy. Go to their website to see if you have another shot.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Green River Festival Announces Daily Schedules

The Green River Festival is now less than 4 weeks away, and they've announced their daily schedule, and as always, there are some decisions to be made. While I love the multiple stages of festivals, and I love having options for when there's an artist on I can't get into, I hate having to decide between two favorite artists.

The biggest for me is deciding between J Mascis and Lydia Loveless. J Mascis is a decades long favorite of mine, and Lydia Loveless is a year long absolute obsession. I've seen Mascis solo a handful of times, and I've never seen Loveless, so you'd think this would be an easy choice. But this is J Mascis we're talking about. Luckily, they only have a 15 minute overlap so it'll just have to be a last minute decision on what to miss. 

Of course, there's also the overlap between Polaris and Langhorne Slim & The Law, which is almost a complete time for time overlap. I discovered The Adventures of Pete and Pete in my 30s, so I don't have that sense of nostalgia people slightly younger than I will have for Polaris. But Langhorne Slim seems to tour a lot more than Polaris does. This one might have to be a 50/50 split.

There are still some other tough choices. The Milk Carton Kids overlap slightly with Lydia Loveless (she wins) but completely overlap with Arc Isis. The end of Lydia Loveless will overlap with Booker T. Jones (again, she wins), and half of tUnE-yArDs overlaps with half of The Wood Brothers. But I guess having too much to see is better than being bored while waiting out a disappointing live set.

You can check out the full schedule for this year's Green River Festival on their website. Also, make sure you buy your tickets sooner than later since last year's festival sold out in advance.

Monday Mix: Highlights from Hefner and Darren Hayman

I pulled up a playlist of Hefner/Darren Hayman songs on Sunday and forgot how much I really loved Hefner back in the day. While some of my favorites when I first got wind of the band were the more risque fare like "May God Protect Your Home" and "Seafaring," I still find myself going back to "Christian Girls," to "Hymn for the Cigarettes," to "She Can't Sleep No More" today. Hayman has transitioned into a fairly good solo career as well as a number of different collaborations, but this is definitely stuff you'll have wanted to hear if you haven't had the opportunity yet. Even as I was putting this quick post together, I was substituting different songs out to keep things under 20 songs.

Hopefully you find a couple gems to enjoy here.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Cairo Gang - "Be What You Are"

Photo by Rachel Cassels
The Cairo Gang is mostly Emmett Kelly, who recorded most of their upcoming album, Goes Missing, on his own while travelling. "Be What You Are" is pure pop gold, reminiscent of British invasion bands like The Kinks and The Zombies. It features jangly guitars and some of the most infectious layered vocals you've heard in years. Luckily the beauty of this style of music is that it never quite sounds dated. It might sound like it's from a certain era that happened 50 years ago, but everything you've ever listened to since then borrows so heavily from it that it always sounds current. It's the kind of music you wish you hadn't missed, only now you haven't.

Goes Missing is due out June 23rd on God? Records. You can pre-order the album now, and be sure to check out The Cairo Gang's Facebook. Listen to "Be What You Are" below, and below that are tour dates, many opening for Mikal Cronin.

Sat. Sept. 5 - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios $ 
Mon. Sept. 7 - Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret $ 
Thu. Sept. 10 - St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club $ 
Fri. Sept. 11 - Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon $ 
Sat. Sept. 12 - Ames, IA @ Maximum Ames Music Festival $ 
Mon. Sept. 14 - Cleveland, OH @ Happy Dog #$ 
Tue. Sept. 15 - Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place # 
Wed. Sept. 16 - Toronto, ON @ Adelaide Hall #$ 
Thu. Sept. 17 - Montreal, QC @ Pop Montreal at Fairmount #$ 
Fri. Sept. 18 - Allston, MA @ Great Scott #$ 
Sun. Sept. 20 - Woodstock, NY @ Bearsville Theater #$ 
Tue. Sept. 22 - Washington, DC @ U Street Music Hall #$ 
Sat. Sept. 26 - Portsmouth, NH @ 3S Artspace $ 
Sun. Sept. 27 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s $   

$ w/ Mikal Cronin # w/ Calvin Love