Elbow: Lippy Kids (Live at Blueprint Studios)

As promised, Elbow followed through on its “special surprise” for Boxing Day, releasing a live video of Lippy Kids, the first taste of the forthcoming album, build a rocket boys!, due for a March 7 release in the UK.

Singer Guy Garvey said his writing was inspired by his return to an area where he lived in his teenage years, and the drum-less Lippy Kids – which strolls along beautifully on a foundation of understated piano work – captures that nostalgic spirit: “Do they know those days are golden?

The song also birthed the album’s title, which apparently has caused some punctuation angst, at least for the band’s keyboard player/producer, Craig Potter, who has taken to Twitter a bit to discuss the missing comma that has, um, given pause to some fans (including myself). My day job as a copy editor compels me to point this out, though it hardly will detract from my enjoyment of the album, I’m sure.

Assuming the title is a command to the boys (and the exclamation point indicates it probably is), the title should read: “build a rocket, boys!” (Let’s not even begin with the all-lowercase issue.) The AP Stylebook notes the following examples for using a comma “in direct address”: “Mother, I will be home late” and “No, sir, I did not take it.” I suppose it’s possible the title describes the boys, but then Elbow would be missing hyphens to indicate a compound modifier: You don’t wanna mess around with those build-a-rocket boys! Potter’s assessment?: “Punctuation Smunctuation. What’s wrong with it? Well, there could, be, a comma, in there, but, it depends, on, how you, say it.”

We can probably all agree that Garvey’s voice here soars above these petty concerns, eh?

Elbow announces new album: build a rocket boys!


Almost three years after releasing the Mercury Prize-winning (and one of my 2008 favorites) The Seldom Seen Kid, Elbow will put out its fifth full-length album, build a rocket boys! on March 7 in the UK (which I hope means a March 8 release in the United States). No single was released when the announcement was made on Wednesday, but the band did offer this: “Stay tuned for a special surprise on Boxing Day.” (For us Yankees, that’s Dec. 26.)

In an interview with BBC 6 Music News (embedded below), singer Guy Garvey explains that the album’s title – lowercase with exclamation point – comes from the opening track, Lippy Kids – “something positive and encouraging that really sums up most of the themes of the record was what was necessary.”

Garvey goes on to explain that his writing was inspired by his moving back to an area where he lived in his late teens. “It’s about the years I’ve spent here growing up, the difficulties of it and the great things about it, too.”

Can’t wait.

Tracklisting for build a rocket boys!:
1. Lippy Kids
2. The Birds
3. With Love
4. Neat Little Rows
5. Jesus Is A Rochdale Girl
6. The Night Will Always Win
7. High Ideals
8. The River
9. Open Arms
10. The Birds (Reprise)
11. Dear Friends

Incoming: Freddie Gibbs, Jan. 29


A friend commented to me on Tuesday that this blog has become “increasingly hip-hop centric.” He’s got a point, but it just speaks to the number of quality artists that have put out stellar material this year (Open Mike Eagle, Nocando, Isaiah Toothtaker, 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers, El-P, etc.). Ideally, the site serves as a somewhat accurate representation of my listening habits, so if I’m leaning one way, it’s probably an indication of what’s influencing me every day.

Between the Str8 Killa No Filla mixtape and the Str8 Killa EP, Freddie Gibbs is another artist in 2010 that’s held my ear. Raised in Gary, Ind., and now living in Los Angeles, Gibbs is booked for a date in Arizona (his first?) at Chaser’s in Scottsdale on Jan. 29, thanks to the guys at Universatile Music. Gibbs’ Crushin’ Feelin’s – from the Str8 Killa mixtape – is a highlight of the year for me, a ridiculous freestyle that cuts to the chase: “Rap ain’t nothin’ but talkin’ shit / I’m just the best at it.”

While you’re booking plans for this show, keep Jan. 21 open as well. I got something lined up with the Universatile boys that I’ll be announcing soon.

Pogues-Fairytale of New York


I spent a good deal of time discussing Christmas songs with my next door neighbor Tim the other night, and we both agreed that no song better describes, as Liz Lemon put it on last week’s excellent 30 Rock, “the horror of Christmas,” better than the Pogues’ classic “Fairytale of New York.”

Gritty, desperate and offensive, the banter back and forth between the song’s narrators perfectly captures the image of two lovers fighting over broken dreams and shattered hopes, which, for all the joy this season brings, are pretty much unavoidable as trees go up and festive lights are lit. “I could have been someone,” Shane MacGowen bellows, to which Kristy MacColl answers, “Well, so could anyone.”

Listen to “Fairytale of New York,” and compare to No Use For a Name’s fantastic cover.

“I Got Nothing Cool” Christmas song by The Young Dudes

Some of the boys from Limbeck are back with a new band named The Young Dudes and they have a Christmas song for you.


The band has so far only played one show that I am aware of but have a few more lined up. They have posted online the first song anyone has heard by them a Christmas track called “I Got Nothing Cool.” That may or may not be true but at least I got a new track from Rob and Pat.

The band has a very similar sound to that of Limbeck’s southern California twangy indie rock. Loud open guitars and tambourines make the song a perfect holiday pop song.

Some of you may like to know that Limbeck bassist Justin is currently in the Phoenix band Source Victoria (they have never been mentioned on this blog).

You can get the song bellow for free, you just need this download code: xmas2010


Thanks to Kevin for letting me come on and rant about some cool new music.

Open Mike Eagle: Haircut (video)

Just a quickie here as I dust off the winter coat to prepare to depart from 80-degree Phoenix weather for frigid New York for the week.

Open Mike Eagle dropped Haircut when he was in Phoenix last month, and he’s given us a video in conjunction with the release of Art Rap After Party, an EP that Los Angeles Times blog Pop & Hiss has made available for a free download. I’ll be spending much of my time in the air listening to this and finishing reading Scott Tennent’s 33 1/3 book on Slint’s Spiderland whilst enjoying the expanded legroom JetBlue promises. We’ll see about that.

In the meantime, I’ve coerced/bribed/begged my pals Jason Woodbury and Stephen Chilton to look after this place while I’m away, so be nice to the substitute teachers. That said, if anyone has suggestions for New York record stores, I’m all ears.

Spoon: The Mystery Zone (demo)


Earlier this month, Spoon released a compilation of demos and alternate versions of songs that the band previously made available as bonus tracks on its website, a monthly practice Britt Daniel and Co. has kept up since April 2008.

Though I think it’s unfair to properly review such a haphazard collection that’s essentially just a treat for fans and completists, Matthew Perpetua makes a good argument at Pitchfork (6.3) that the 10-song compilation is a little lean. Not only that, it’s already dated.

Spoon apparently isn’t going to stop the bonus cuts with the CD. A demo version of The Mystery Zone has been offered up for your December pleasure. It’s raw and acoustic and about half the length of the album version, but it’s easy to connect the dots to the finished product, even if the demo is tagged as “The Midnight Barber” for the artist.

Jon Rauhouse Sestet (feat. Rachel Flotard): Witchcraft


Pedal-steel ace Jon Rauhouse, a mainstay in Neko Case’s band and a Phoenix native, spent some time at Wavelab Studio in Tucson in October to record material for his fifth album. It was a rare spot of downtime for Rauhouse, who was on the road for much of the year playing for Jakob Dylan and Billy Bob Thornton.

Thanks to Notable Music Co., we have our first taste of the Tucson session. Damon Booth, VP/GM of Notable Music – an independent music publishing company founded in 1962 by composer and jazz musician Cy Coleman – asked Rauhouse to do a cover of Witchcraft, a song composed by Coleman and then released as a single by Frank Sinatra.

Rauhouse took it a step further – recording a version with vocals by Rachel Flotard of Visqueen and backed by his Sestet. Rauhouse told me in an e-mail that he’s polishing off the instrumental, but the vocal version is available on eMusic and iTunes.

I’ve always loved the pedal-steel guitar for its emotive strains, and combined here with Flotard’s stunning voice, the song takes on a moody vibe, like something emanating from a smokey noir-style lounge.

The players on this track include:
Jon Rauhouse: pedal steel
Rachel Flotard: vocals (Visqueen)
Tommy Connell: guitar
Jacob Valenzuela: trumpet (Calexico)
Kevin O’Donnell : drums (Andrew Bird)
Will Lovell: bass
Jeff Livingston: piano

Jon Rauhouse Sestet – Witchcraft by somuchsilence

Unreleased El-P: Lab Rat Bravely Escapes on Hovercraft Only to Crash Directly Outside of Gates


Maybe the title alone sent his hard drive crashing. Whatever the case, a corrupted file kept El-P from including Lab Rat Bravely Escapes on Hovercraft Only to Crash Directly Outside of Gates – we’ll call it Lab Rat in the interest of brevity – on his 2010 instrumental release, Weareallgoingtoburninhellmegamixxx3.

But what technology taketh, it can sometimes giveth back. Lab Rat was salvaged and El-P has made it available for public consumption. The pounding drums and eerie synths leave little doubt this track was meant for the album.

El-P: Time Won’t Tell (video)
El-P: Meanstreak (In 3 Parts)
Definitive Jux to reissue Funcrusher Plus

New song from the Cave Singers: Swim Club


The official press material from Jagjaguwar promises that No Witch, due out Feb. 22, is the Cave Singers’ “rock record.” That might be true, but the first single at least, Swim Club, isn’t too far of a departure from the cozy campfire folk-rock of the trio’s first two albums, which were released on Matador.

If more robust sounds do indeed await us on the rest of No Witch, it could be the result of the Cave Singers collaborating with producer Randall Dunn, who helped guide the most recent Black Mountain album and has worked with heavier artists such as Sunn O))) and Boris.

No Witch tracklist:
1. Gifts and the Raft
2. Swim Club
3. Black Leaf
4. Falls
5. Outer Realms
6. Haller Lake
7. All Land Crabs and Divinity Ghosts
8. Clever Creatures
9. Haystacks
10. Distant Sures
11. Faze Wave
12. No Prosecution If We Bail