Wednesday, March 29, 2006

MUSIC: Amandine

The latest full album released by the Swedish group Amandine, titled "This Is Where Our Hearts Collide", is often described as Americana.... which is kind of ironic considering they're Swedish. However, that term does encapsulate a genre of music that taps into country/rock/folk/blues while evoking a sense of desolation and grandeur (I know they may seem like opposites, but they're not). This album is strong, start to finish, almost enough so that it's hard for me to pick a favorite song. Fans of Wilco, M. Ward, and Luna may immediately experience an intense connection to this music; all you others will soon follow.

::: Amandine - Halo
::: Amandine - Blood & Marrow

They've got a show coming up at the Independent on 04/10 in SF, hope to see some of you there. Buy the album here, amigos.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

MUSIC: Band of Horses

Joining the army of Band of Horses supporters was a pretty easy decision. Last Tuesday, after listening to three tracks, I walked directly down to the local record store and bought "Everything All The Time". Much has been written over the last couple of weeks and the accolades keep piling onto their debut Sub Pop release, and I have to admit that it's all well-deserved. Try a couple of their album tracks out, they're all over the place (Neiles Life has a good selection).

So, on top of getting introduced to this album, it so happened that they were playing a show with Earlimart on Friday at The Independent in San Francisco. And Of course I go. Grabbing dinner across the street at the wonderful bar/Ethiopian restaurant before the show, we actually sat next to the band. Turns out that one of their guitarists was back in Seattle and the other was out sick (plus the lead singer's voice was failing him), so they went on as a trio rather than a 5-piece that evening. For those of you that have listened to their album, you know the sprawling feeling it conveys and I was interested (and a bit worried) in seeing how it would translate minus two members. Without overstating it, I was amazed; it's unbelievable that they were able to pull off the songs (with little practice in that format) at all, and even more impressive that they did it with some much raw grit and emotion. I was blown away at how the lead singer just laid himself out there. Anyhow, the crowd responded accordingly and by the end of the all-too-short set, I'm sure they had made a good many more fans.

Here's a couple demo versions of their songs off their official website.

::: Band of Horses - Wicked Gil (Demo)
::: Band of Horses - I Lost My Dingle On The Red Line (Demo)
::: Band of Horses - Funeral (Demo)
::: Band of Horses - Bass Song (Demo)

Go on out an buy the album, I doubt you'll be disappointed.

Friday, March 24, 2006

ART: Barry McGee

Another recent fascination of mine is the new set of artists who draw much of their inspiration from grafitti. One of the more well known is Barry McGee, originally from the Bay Area, but showing all over the world of late. You can check out a number of his works here, from paintings to sculpture to large installations. He made a splash in San Francisco last year when then Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez let him spray paint "Smash the State" on the walls of his office as part of his ongoing local artists series. Awesome. (Personally, with guys like Gonzalez and Gavin Newsom running things around here, I feel alot better about my local government as they're top notch). Check out Barry's stuff and keep an eye out for his grafitti if you're in the Bay or NYC. (Ten points to anyone who emails me a digital picture of some!)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

MUSIC: The Decemberists

Continuing on with the recent trend (nay, obsession) of cover songs in my musical world, I've decided to post one of my favorite tracks from the "To: Elliott, Love: Portland" album. (Side note: Overall, the album is only pretty good, but there is no real re-invention of the tracks and the originals almost always sound better. With that said, it's worth having if you're a fan, so order it from Insound)

So, without further ado, here's The Decemberists (heavily featuring lead singer Colin Meloy, almost to the point that it sounds much like his solo tour EP's) on a classic Elliott track.

::: The Decemberists - Clementine (Elliott Smith cover)

Drop me a comment to let me know what you think. (Also, I'm running out of covers so if you've got any good ones then let me know). Hip hip hooray.

Friday, March 17, 2006

MUSIC: The Good Fear (You Should Be Listening to This Right Now)

Seriously, this should be your favorite song, at least for the day. Check it out:

::: The Good Fear - Heroes/Outsiders

Fantastic band out of Arkansas which I've mentioned in my previous post about White Whale (some cross breeding of members). White Whale has an album coming out on Merge soon, and The Good Fear have an album out now titled "Keep In Touch" which you can get from their website. I encourage you to order it from them before they run out of copies.

Anyhow, I've been playing this song over and over and over during the last couple days and I just find it a fantastic windows-down, early spring kind of thing. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

ART: Banksy

I don't remember exactly where I first saw Banksy's work (fantastic website). Perhaps it was NYC, but I'm not quite sure. Regardless, with all the recent buzz of so-called "street art", this artist has been pushed to the forefront of the movement (i don't like that term, however). About a year ago I was in Buenos Aires and the graffiti there blew me away, an absolutely spectacular collection of intricate work. It was so refreshing to see it approached as art rather than vandalism. This distinction is even more apparent in Banksy's subject matter, as he embraces both the whimsical, the political, and everything in between. It's an actual commentary on the world, rather than a reflection of it. (Side note: the actual identity of Banksy is hidden behind a thick veil of secrecy, which i love)

I know there are countless other artists out there involved in providing "public works", so please email me ( or comment so as to point me in their direction. It's an exciting subsystem of art that is now getting the relevant press it deserves.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

MUSIC: Luna (covers)

For some reason i've been into covers of late, and this is one of my all-time favorites. Luna ranks high up on my list of "most awesome bands ever", so when i heard their cover of the classic Guns 'N Roses track "Sweet Child Of Mine" it was almost too much to handle. Luna is able to capture the emotion trapped behind Axl's version. (avoiding any cracks directed at the current state of affairs in the GNR universe).

::: Luna - Sweet Child of Mine (Guns 'N Roses cover)

This track is off of The Days of Our Nights album, which is currently out of print. I scored a cheap copy used and suggest you do the same.

More Luna coming later if requested!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

MUSIC: Will Oldham (Tributes)

Now I know what you might be saying.... "Haven't you already posted some Oldham?"
Well, yes, I have. And I'm afraid to say that this probably won't be the last of it. I rank the good Bonnie near the top of my personal favorites list, but that's a whole different subject.

Tract Records recently released a pared down version of their A Tribute To Will Oldham album, and it's fantastic. Typically, tribute albums suck, but I earnestly enjoy the hell out of this one. Included below are a few tracks from that, plus the original recordings. For comparison's sake, you know.

::: Will Oldham - We All, Us Three, Will Ride
::: Iron And Wine - We All, Us Three, Will Ride

::: Will Oldham - I Send My Love To You
::: Calexico - I Send My Love To You

::: Will Oldham - May It Always Be
::: Pink Nasty - May It Always Be

Although it's kind of unrealistic to urge you to go out and by Oldham's whole back catalog, it's not out of the question to point you towards the tribute album which can be bought here directly from Tract Records, a wonderful independent label.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

MUSIC: Chromatics (a.k.a. KRMTX)

My introduction to this band came by way of the Yeti 3 compilation which recently came out. I'll probably be posting a few other tracks from it soon, as it's got a heaping handful of them. Fantastic electro/rock/punk crew out of Washington, you can get a full history at their website. If you need a comparison, I like to think of them as equal parts The Faint and ....And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead. I'm open to suggestions though. Check the tracks below.

::: KRMTX - Palace of Divinity (f/ Yeti 3)
::: Chromatics - Healer
::: Chromatics - Witness

I don't have a clearcut favorite album of theirs yet, so I suggest buying them all. Yup.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

ART: Molly Springfield

According to her website, Molly Springfield's art "frequently addresses the differences between seeing and reading and relationships between memory, materiality, and language."
There's currently a show at Steven Wolf Fine Arts in San Francisco which I highly suggest. Anyhow, she takes photocopies of books and reproduces them as drawings. It's incredibly intricate and beautiful. My personal favorite piece was a reproduction of a sermon her Methodist grandfather gave back in the day. Just fantastic stuff. I also like how each work she does conveys a sense of calm and dedication. I'm also a huge fan of photocopies in general, so that doesn't hurt.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

MUSIC: Seven Nation Army Covers

So the good looking fellow above is the Irish Anarchist, Jack White. He was one of the founding members of the Irish Citizen Army. If you ask me, he looks like one dangerous mother. So, what does a early 20th century militant have to do with music or art? Well, in honor of his background, I present to you five versions of The White Stripes "Seven Nation Army" song.

::: The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army (original)
::: The Flaming Lips - Seven Nation Army (cover)
::: Nostalgia 77 - Seven Nation Army (cover)
::: Hard Fi - Seven Nation Army (cover)
::: Damien Rice and Vyvienne Long - Seven Nation Army (cover)

Some do more justice to the original, some less. I've been into the jazzier/lounge version by Nostalgia 77 of late. (These can be found all over the place, just thought I'd get 'em all together). Fight on.