Around The Web – Independence Day Edition

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Right out of the gate I’m going to just give you some Two Cow Garage as a celebration of the freedom granted to almost everyone by SCOCTUS (next up is recognition of polygamous marriage). I’ve posted what I think about the decision on FB and won’t belabor the point here, so let’s all just enjoy “Let The Boys Be Girls” for a minute…


800songsSomeone with way more CDO (That’s OCD in alphabetical order, the way it should be) created a set chronological playlists of 90’s alt/indie. Taken together these things are a 500+ minute pill to swallow! I once tried to just a top 100, arranged in some chronological order, for alt country and wanted to stab myself in the eyes before I was done. The dedication it takes to make an 800 track playlist is something I don’t have. I’m seriously not entirely sure whether I should be afraid, have a ton of respect, or recommend a good shrink! Whichever it is I am grateful to have the resource, even if I’m not sure I’ll put 500 hours in to completing. Thanks @naxuu, this is pretty cool!


And since this is a holiday weekend and none of you want to spend your time reading what I thought was cool on the web this week, I am closing this, admittedly short, Around The Web with something that was cool six years ago. I mentioned I found some old mix tape archives lying around, well this is one from the Lucero Message Board, circa 2009, our little Summer Mix Tape. It was certainly a good one!

The Fox Hunt – Better Than This (Lucero Cover)
“The boys recorded this for the long overdue Lucero tribute album..I heard them play this version when they were here playing Surf Bar on Folly Beach…took some cajoling but I got MK to send me the mp3…here it is.” – JacksonDavis

Lucero – Live 1/4/2002 – American Girl
“Sticking with the 4th of July theme. Just for fun.” – Boston Twang

Deer Tick – Born on Flag Day – Houston, TX
“The first song that jumped out at me on the new record. Haven’t decided what I think of the new record yet but I like this song.” – Plank10

Cory Branan – Ardent Studios recording – Karen’s Song
“I had never heard this prior to hearing it on the streaming file released by Rachel and The City when he was in studio earlier this year…cannot wait for his new album…he and Snodgrass kicked major ass in ATL and Savannah.” – JacksonDavis…thanks to Down South for the editing Wink

Ha Ha Tonka – Novel Sounds of The Nouveau South – Close Every Valve to Your Bleeding Heart
“Roaring out of the Ozarks with a bottle in one hand and a bible in the other” – ColoradoAlan

William Elliott Whitmore – Animals In The Dark – Old Devils
“My current favourite tune from my favourite album of the year to date.” – JacksonDavis

Hoots & Hellmouth – The Holy Open Secret – What Good Are Plowshares If We Use Them Like Swords
“There is something about this band I find deeply interesting. I can’t quite put my finger on it but whatever it is this song has it.” – Autopsy IV

The Only Sons – Steel Hearts – Lay Back Down
“This song is eerily relevant for a friends situation right now..” – ColoradoAlan

The Evening Rig – Is Doin’ Stuff – Goddamn, I Could Use A Drink
“If you haven’t listened to these guys yet, you probably should.” – algwalcz

Jon Snodgrass w/ Cory Branan – Alone and Distanced
“Too bad this isn’t being released on CD or digital download…but…I was able to pry this from someone who had been way late in getting Season 5 of The Wire back to me Cool” – JacksonDavis”

Two Cow Garage – Humble Narrator – Speaking in Cursive
“I’ve had this CD for a while but just REALLY started to listen to it, and this song was the first one I kept repeating. ” The sun has a way of making us pay for our revelry filled nights” Amen Brother.” – Hecticeyes

Chad Rex & The Victorstands – Songs to Fix Angels – Build a Rocket
“I only recently realized how good Chad Rex is. Besides, it’s the time of year for rockets.” – Boston Twang

Flogging Molly – Swagger – Salty Dog
“Irish punk rock is great and good for hanging out in the summer listening to full blast.” – Lennon Medvick

Michael Dean Damron – Father’s Day – Angels Fly Up
“It seems like I am always pimping this guy’s music and my work isn’t done until he’s got a platinum award on his wall…or something like that. Father’s Day is a strong contender for the Best of ’09 as far as I’m concerned. I can’t really pinpoint why this song means so much to me, but it affects me somewhere in the guts.” – Bone Machine

Austin Lucas – The Common Cold – Kith and Kin
“If you’ve only heard Austin’s new album, definitely check out The Common Cold. Yay for the upcoming tour with Two Cow!” – TheOtherBrit

The Lemonheads – Varshons – Waitin Around to Die
“Evan Dando revisits a Townes Van Zandt classic” – ColoradoAlan

Cheap Trick – The Latest – Sick Man Of Europe
“Of all the music from my childhood, Cheap Trick are the band that I still enjoy with the intensity of my youth. It’s good to know that they’re still out there plugging away and have a catalog much richer than the classic rock staples (I Want You To Want Me, Surrender, The Flame…). This tune is from their new one, lovingly entitled The Latest, and is further proof that Robin Zander has one of the finer voices in rock some 35 years into his career.” – Bone Machine

The Dexateens – Singlewide – Can You Whoop It
“If you like the Dexateens, keep an eye out for Arkadelphia, Lee Bains III’s new band. They’ve even more amazing!” – TheOtherBrit

Trampled by Turtles – Duluth – Empire
“These guys are one of my favorite bands that I’ve discovered because they were a Lucero opener. Go see them live if you get the chance.” Boston Twang

Matthew Dean Herman – Blackbird – Blackbird
“Fantastic debut album produced by Evan Phillips of The Whipsaws. RIYL: Drive-By Truckers” – Autopsy IV

Lyle Lovette – I Love Everybody – Fat Babies
“I’ve been on a Lyle Lovette kick lately. “I don’t like hippies and I don’t like cornbread.” I’m confused that he doesn’t like cornbread.” – Plank10

Ray LaMontagne – Gossip in the Grain – Let it Be Me
Submitted by corduroy

Uncle Tupelo – March 16-20 1994 – Moonshiner
Submitted by corduroy

Kingston Trio – We’ll Sing in The Sunshine
“A fun summertime sing-a-long…” – Nicole

Against Me! – As The Eternal Cowboy – You Look Like I Need Drink
“Against Me! has been my sound track all summer, and this is one of my favorites.” – Lennon Medvick

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION: THE LOW ANTHEM


Remember when bands made records? Not ten-song collections of iTunes downloads, but complete, thematic bodies of work meant to be analyzed and appreciated as such? It is worth noting that, while the “single” as a concept has been around since long before Steve Jobs revolutionized portable and digital music, many of the most enduring songs of the last half-century were elements of larger artistic statements (“Like a Rolling Stone,” “London Calling,” and “Purple Rain,” to name a few).

With Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, The Low Anthem have crafted a collection of sparse, dynamic songs which, lo and behold compliment one another sonically and thematically. Imagine that. OMGCD deals, in large part, with the terrifying spectre of the American cultural landscape, where prayers are cast into the stratosphere via text message and photographs are “processed,” not developed. At its core, OMGCD is a collection of hymns sung to Dylan, Jack Kerouac and Woody Guthrie, to a country plowed under and built over. As stark as that image may be, The Low Anthem delivers these twelve songs beautifully, the tension palpable but not overwhelming, the fear and anger brimming but not boiling over.

OMGCD was initially released in 2008 as a limited-edition, hand-painted CD and subsequently released when The Low Anthem – Ben Knox Miller, Jeff Prystowsky and Jocie Miller, the three of whom met while students at Brown – signed with Nonesuch. The re-release garnered The Low Anthem glowing reviews from Uncut, Rolling Stone and a number of other publications, and recognition from Bruce Springsteen and Ray Lamontagne. That’s all fine and good – who doesn’t enjoy the occasional accolade – but the fact is The Low Anthem were going to get recognized at some point. Songs this good will always have an audience.

In the interest of full disclosure, it’s worth mentioning that I just spent a week on tour in support of The Low Anthem, but that run of shows only served to support my opinion that somebody – or, rather, many people – ought to be championing this band. As good as OMGCD is – and make no mistake, it is a very, very good album – the songs are so vital when performed, they take on an almost primal quality. There’s a gravity there that isn’t nearly as evident on the record. Likewise, Miller’s vocals are at once searing and tender live, while the treatment of vocals on the album borrows slightly from Iron and Wine, treading the line between atmospheric and over-processed. The discrepancy between performances on the album and in a live setting is not great – great musicians tend to sound good in any format – but it’s enough that in order to really appreciate The Low Anthem, you’ve got to see the show. Think of the performance as a companion piece to the album, or vice versa.

Some recommendations come with a caveat, “before you pick up this record, you should know…” This is not one. The Low Anthem is a band you need to hear.

The Low Anthem – To The Ghosts Who Write History Books
The Low Anthem – Don’t Let Nobody Turn You Around

The Low Anthem’s Official Site, The Low Anthem on myspace, Buy Oh My God, Charles Darwin

AMANDA ZELINA – LOVE ME 'TIL I'M ME AGAIN

Maybe it’s because I grew up reading too much Hemmingway, watching too many Steve McQueen and John Wayne flicks with my dad, and listening to too many Rolling Stones records, but I seem to have been born with, or developed, a predisposition against female artists. Aside from a select few (Lucinda Williams, Aimee Mann, Patti Smith, Jesse Sykes, Victoria Williams, Cat Power, Aretha, etc.), it all sounds pretty much the same to me. Before I go on, I want to clarify that statement by repeating that it all sounds the same to me. This is to say that, to my ear, there’s not a discernible difference between, say, Feist and every other indie chanteuse in the world. I’m not saying the differences don’t exist, I’m just saying my ears – bludgeoned by years of the ‘Mats and Mudhoney – don’t pick them up. It’s my problem, I’m aware of it, I’m working on it.

All of that said, when I came upon Amanda Zelina’s record, Love Me ‘Til I’m Me Again (yeah, you’ve got to get past a clunky title), I was immediately taken aback, not just by Zelina’s voice but by the arrangements – reverb-drenched, spacey and distinct.

Before David Sitek buried Scarlett Johansson‘s voice in a sea of murky reverb, guitars, and synthesizers, arrangement was an aspect of record-making that seemed to go largely ignored by female artists in lieu of exposing their distinct voices, quirky and/or insightful lyrics, or both – as if arrangement and performance were somehow mutually exclusive.

Zelina’s voice is breathy and ethereal – two words often associated with female artists and perfected by the aforementioned Chan Marshall – but what sets Zelina apart is that she’s able to drift effortlessy back and forth between that breathy, reedy whisper and a full, powerful wail that owes a large debt to Carla Thomas (example: Zelina’s cover of “Try A Little Tenderness”). In short, she bridges the gaps between folk, rock and soul without seeming contrived or pedestrian. What Ray Lamontagne did for the cookie-cutter “sad guy with guitar” genre, Zelina does for coffee shop sirens everywhere.

Love Me ‘Til I’m Me Again may not show up on any end-of-the-year best of lists, but it’s a powerful effort from an artist who has given herself a very good chance at finding a foothold in a very crowded genre.

Amanda Zelina – My Version Of It
Amanda Zelina – Try A Little Tenderness

Amanda Zelina’s Official Site, Amanda Zelina on myspace

LUCERO MESSAGE BOARD SUMMER COMPILATION:

Ahh Summer. Yards to be mowed, grills to be lit, beaches to be enjoyed, beers to be drank, sports to be watched and, obviously, all of this needs a soundtrack.

Enter the Lucero Message Board Compilation.

Yup. Like a superhero showing up just in time the new compilation was posted this week and I couldn’t think of a better way to close out this week than with a post about it. As always, you can head over to the Lucero message board for some dialog on why each song was submitted and while you’re there you can contribute to next months.

Lucero Message Board Summer Comp can be downloaded here.

Track Listing:

  1. The Fox Hunt – Better Than This (Lucero Cover)
  2. Lucero – American Girl (live)
  3. Deer Tick – Houston, TX
  4. Cory Branan – Karen’s Song
  5. Ha Ha Tonka – Close Every Valve to Your Bleeding Heart
  6. William Elliott Whitmore – Old Devils
  7. Hoots & Hellmouth – What Good Are Plowshares If We Use Them Like Swords
  8. The Only Sons – Lay Back Down
  9. The Evening Rig – Goddamn, I Could Use A Drink
  10. Jon Snodgrass w/ Cory Branan – Alone and Distanced
  11. Two Cow Garage – Humble Narrator
  12. Chad Rex & The Victorstands – Build a Rocket
  13. Flogging Molly – Salty Dog
  14. Michael Dean Damron –  Angels Fly Up
  15. Austin Lucas – Kith and Kin
  16. The Lemonheads – Waitin Around to Die
  17. Cheap Trick – Sick Man Of Europe
  18. The Dexateens – Can You Whoop It
  19. Trampled by Turtles – Empire
  20. Matthew Dean Herman –  Blackbird
  21. Lyle Lovette – Fat Babies
  22. Ray LaMontagne – Let it Be Me
  23. Uncle Tupelo – Moonshiner (live)
  24. Kingston Trio – We’ll Sing in The Sunshine
  25. Against Me! – You Look Like I Need Drink

Also, special thanks to Romeo Sid Vicious for putting together a stream of the compilation for those that prefer such a thing you can listen to it here.