Incoming: Oxford Collapse/Frightened Rabbit,
June 24

Hello, Oxford Collapse.

Stateside Presents is bringin’ it. Just look at the schedule of upcoming shows. (Wolf Parade – yay! – in Tucson – boo!)

Here’s another great one: Oxford Collapse with Frightened Rabbit at Rhythm Room on Aug. June 24. (Buy tickets.) [EDIT: Thanks, Conan, for date correction.]

I actually just picked up the new Frightened Rabbit record, The Midnight Organ Fight, on eMusic. Everything about the band’s name told me to stay away (rabbits are the new wolves, I guess), but then I discovered the band is on Fat Cat, the same label as the Twilight Sad (good), and the new album was produced by Peter Katis, who produced the National’s Boxer (great).

Check out some thoughts at Chromewaves on the group until I form an opinion of my own.

And, honestly, who doesn’t like Please Visit Your National Parks by Oxford Collapse? (And For the Khakis and the Sweatshirts, for that matter.)

I Used to Love H.E.R.: Head Like a Kite

The 26th installment of I Used to Love H.E.R., a series in which artists/bloggers/writers discuss their most essential or favorite hip-hop albums (read intro), comes from Dave Einmo, the man behind Head Like a Kite. On June 17, Head Like a Kite will release There is Loud Laughter Everywhere (Mush Records). Given Einmo’s talent for morphing samples into pop melodies – he sampled sounds from Super 8 movies his parents shot in the late ’70s for his first album – his choice to discuss an instrumental classic seems natural.

endtroducingDJ Shadow
Endtroducing … (Mo’ Wax, 1996)

When asked what hip hop record has had the biggest influence on me, it’s tempting to dig deep and pick something less obvious. But my mom taught me to be honest. DJ Shadow’s Entroducing really changed the way I thought about beats and loops and production. He seamlessly threaded gargantuan Bonham-esque drums with moody, down tempo grooves and found sounds that oozed nostalgia while at the same time fast forwarded to the future. That album created a whole new genre of hip hop that still gets mimicked today. It’s cinematic and demands your attention. I love records like that. There are lots of albums by guys like Prefuse 73, Four Tet, Madlib, Dabrye, DJ Krush, Madvillian, and The Roots that have had lasting impressions on how I listen to music. But “Entroducing” was the album that really opened up my eyes in 1996. It’s hard to believe that it came out 12 years ago. That’s the true test. A timeless record that will still sound fresh a decade from now.

Re-up: The Pharcyde – Pork

A reader/commenter asked for a repost of this Pharcyde B-side I posted in August. Normally, I would just e-mail these sorts of requests, but there wasn’t an address for which to send.

So please forgive a repeat post. But if you haven’t grabbed these tracks, get to it.

Check out a Wired Listening Post interview with Muxtape creator Justin Ouellete. Then go listen to my Muxtape (which is in need of updating).

Free download: Source Victoria’s The Fast Escape

Anyone who has read this blog knows that Source Victoria means more to me than the average band.

Now you have no reason to not listen to me: The band is offering its 2007 release, The Fast Escape, as a free download – with liner notes, album art and all (mp3s are 320 kbps, by the way) – until 11:59 p.m. May 2. The band plays Hollywood Alley on May 3.

Venture to and click “take the fast escape” for a download of a zip file.

A little background on The Fast Escape: Chris Testa, who won three Grammys for his work on the Dixie Chicks’ The Long Way, mixed the record. (His other credits.)

Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World praised the band, and The Arizona Republic ran a story about the free download.

Read more in a recent Phoenix New Times article.

I Used to Love H.E.R.: Man Man

The 25th installment of I Used to Love H.E.R., a series in which artists/bloggers/writers discuss their most essential or favorite hip-hop albums (read intro), comes from Man Man drummer Pow Pow, who was cool enough to put this together before the band headed out on an extensive tour in support of its new album Rabbit Habits.

Man Man plays the Brickhouse in Phoenix on Sunday with Yeasayer. (Buy tickets.)

3 feet high and risingDe La Soul
3 Feet High and Rising (Tommy Boy, 1989)

It’d be best to start with this record. 3 Feet High and Rising was the first record that made me want to be in a “band” and make a record. The record was way ahead of its time. It has a constant fun & positive vibe to the entire record. There’s interludes and funny skits. There’s AMAZING beats and rhymes. It wasn’t just one MC. It was a group. It has a free “do whatever you want” kinda attitude about it without coming off as too too artsy or too abstract. It made me understand the importance of putting together a cohesive record that jumps around in styles and direction and NEVER once takes itself too seriously. It’s well thought out. It sounds like a collaboration. AND…..

Then there’s the cherry on top….. The album cover.

This record cover was the start of my obsession with fluorescent colors. I started wearing these types of colors when this record came out. Fluorescent yellow. Fluorescent pink. Fluorescent orange. I remember drawing them raw looking hippie flowers all over my schoolbooks.

[VIDEO]: 3 Feet High and Rising press kit.

push itSalt-n-Pepa
Push It (single, 1986)

This single was probably the 1st song that made me start playing music. The keyboard/synth lines in this song are so unbelievably catchy !!!!

Hearing it over and over again on the radio made me want to play an instrument. Period. It got me hooked on beats and melodies.

I bought a Casio SK-1 so I could learn how to play this on a keyboard. I would play back the song over and over and over and over again until I learned the melodies front to back. This was most likely when I realized I could easily teach myself how to play an instrument.

The lyrics are great, straightforward party lyrics !! I was really young when i first heard this, so it made me feel cool listening to it cause they were talking about SEXXX !!!

Salt-N-Pepa. YESSSSSS !!!!

arrhythmiaAntipop Consortium
Arrhythmia (Warp Records, 2002)

This record is oozing creativity everywhere.

The beats on this ???!? The beats sound like nothing before it. A pleasant awkwardness. Brilliant, fun, colorful verses. A fresh new take on hip hop.

Another record that doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet is totally successful in seeking and destroying. This record has the perfect mix of glitched out beats, creative verses, catchy keyboard lines & tough ass bubbling bass.

It’s too bad they split up because this is by far one of my most listened to records and they were one of my favorite bands at the time. AMAZINGLY huge influence !!!!!

  • Antipop Consortium | Ping Pong

Fleet Foxes: White Winter Hymnal

I’ve been borderline obsessed recently with the Fleet Foxes EP Sun Giant, a five-song precursor to a self-titled full-length record that I am eagerly awaiting (due out June 3).

On the way to dinner on Sunday, I played the EP again in the car and Annie says: “You’ve been listening to this a lot lately. Who is this?” And it’s those kind of moments I love – and probably the kind Annie dreads … me rambling incessantly about this band or that. And, hey, I’ll just go ahead and put it on your iPod for you, mmmkay?

Yes, the Fleet Foxes push is on. As such, the folks at Sub Pop have made available the first mp3 from the full-length record. It’s called White Winter Hymnal and it’s as gorgeous as anything on Sun Giant.

At Daytrotter, singer Robin Pecknold had this to say, in part, about the song: “On the record it starts with a tongue-in-cheek harmony thing that we hoped would make people laugh or something but I think it just confuses them.”

That actually does make me laugh, because the beginning of the song makes me think of the harmonizing on Row, Row, Row Your Boat for whatever reason.

Fleet Foxes elsewhere:
English House live video at Muzzle of Bees.
Fleet Foxes at Daytrotter.

  • Fleet Foxes | White Winter Hymnal

Spoon’s Girls Can Tell gets vinyl reissue

Try as I might to trim some of the fat out of my music collection, one of my goals is to acquire some of my favorite albums on vinyl. To that end, I’m quite happy to see Merge Records reissuing Spoon’s Girls Can Tell on 180-gram vinyl on May 6.

A Series of Sneaks and The Magnetic Fields’ The Charm of the Highway Strip also will be reissued. Pre-order them for $15 apiece right here. Each includes a digital download coupon.

If you’re into making arbitrary/meaningless lists, here’s one: The Fitted Shirt and Anything You Want definitely rank in my top 5 of back-to-back songs on an album. Seriously, The Fitted Shirt? That riff is hard to top. “I long for the days, they used to say, ma’am and yes, sir.”

  • Spoon | The Fitted Shirt

2:42 … the perfect song length?

I’ve been really intrigued by this piece at The Morning News that argues – maybe somewhat facetiously – that 2:42 is the perfect length for a song (via).

Clearly, this is an arbitrary matter. However, I’ve long been a proponent of the 3-minute song. Get me in and get me out. My daily commute is no more than 15 minutes one way; let’s maximize that time, shall we?

That’s not to say I don’t appreciate a longer song (check Ear Farm’s 8+ feature if you do). But I’m not sure I understand this thinking that favoring shorter songs somehow makes the music (and the listener) less pure or less authentic, that a song under 3 minutes isn’t as genuine as one that is 6 minutes. (Witness the first comment: “The decay continues.”) Look at Buddy Holly, a rock pioneer. I don’t own a song by him that’s longer than 2:36. (Could be that had something to do with the 45 format, too.) Also consider Guided By Voices, a band whose songs traditionally hover at the 2-minute mark.

Like anything in music, it’s purely subjective. But, as it’s often said in my line of work at newspapers: Everyone needs an editor.

Out of curiosity, I sorted my iTunes library by time. I was surprised at how many songs (41, to be exact) I had that clocked in at 2:42. (I didn’t count any vinyl or live radio rips, excluding my own audio editing as a factor.) Nothing really stands out, other than there being two Jimmy Eat World demos from the band’s Futures album and two songs apiece by Matthew Dear and Pete Yorn.

Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein also weighs in on the issue at Monitor Mix.

The Morning News article author, Joshua Allen, created a Muxtape of 2:42 songs.

My list of 2:42 songs from my iTunes library after the jump with a few mp3s:

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Destroyer: Madame Butterflies

Hopefully, you made it out to your local independent record store on Saturday for Record Store Day.

I hit Stinkweeds and was encouraged by the crowd and the general hustle and bustle of the store. Yes, every day should be Record Store Day.

Thankfully, I made it in time before some of the exclusive 7-inch records were all gone. I managed to pick up a Built to Spill 7-inch that contains live versions of Don’t Try and The Source. I also grabbed the free Merge offering, a split 7-inch with unreleased songs by Destroyer and Wye Oak.

Before any dust could settle on my virgin vinyl, I converted the Destroyer track, Madame Butterflies, into mp3 format. It sounds like it definitely could have come from recording sessions for Trouble in Dreams with its loose guitar coloring.

Remember: Destroyer plays the Rhythm Room on May 18. (Buy tickets.)