Kinch: Once, I Was a Mainsail

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Phoenix band Kinch has an album done and I can only imagine that it must be burning a hole in their pocket. The Incandenza, the group’s second full-length, is in the can and awaiting release, which, of course, is the tricky part.

Wisely, the guys aren’t rushing into anything, instead building some momentum with last month’s three-city residency plan and upcoming March gigs that include SXSW.

But Kinch couldn’t keep a lid on the new material completely, and that’s to our benefit. Thanks to a clever widget the band developed, you can not only grab the new song Once, I Was a Mainsail (for the cost of your e-mail address), but you can share it with friends via Twitter/Facebook/Cher/Shih Tzu/Stevie Nicks/mixtape/chocolate chip cookie/Stinkweeds/Skype show/postcard. I kid you not.

So, really, there’s no reason for you not to share it (unless you were holding out for the carrier pigeon method). In Mainsail, singer Andrew Junker takes the listener on a bit of mythological (and metaphorical) journey of a mainsail set adrift by temptation. Musically, the song builds appropriately, a buoyant bass line carrying it to its screaming finale. More impressive, Junker somehow manages to wedge the word “archipelago” into the first verse, a colorful use of the language that grabs the imagination.

Grab the song below and catch Kinch on Saturday playing with Telekinesis at Sail Inn in Tempe.

Check out the video below of Kinch performing Mainsail last month at Silverlake Lounge in Los Angeles as part of its January residency there:

(Photo credit: Christine Valenzuela)

Incoming: The Baseball Project, March 25

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After releasing their second album, Volume 2: High and Inside (Yep Roc), on March 1, The Baseball Project will embark on one of the more brilliant (if not obvious) tour runs. The band – Steve Wynn, Scott McCaughey, Peter Buck and Linda Pitmon – will wind its way to Arizona, where it will play seven shows over the course of six days, including stops at five Spring Training games. Now that’s some clever tour routing.

Their stay in Arizona does involve a proper club gig on March 25 at Martini Ranch. Tickets ($10) for the all-ages show are available here.

Like on its first album, Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails, The Baseball Project continues to mine the many stories of our nation’s pastime for Vol. 2, which includes guest spots from Twins fan Craig Finn of the Hold Steady (Don’t Call Them Twinkies) and Mariners fan Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie (Ichiro Goes to the Moon).

Until its release, you can check out Broadside Ballads, a nine-song project the band recorded in conjunction with ESPN to chronicle the 2010 season (including an ill-fated Cubs prediction).

Tour dates are below, as are a few tracks to stream from the new album:

3/11: Star Community Bar, Atlanta, GA
3/12: 40 Watt, Athens, GA
3/14: Manship Theater, Baton Rouge, LA
3/17-3/20: various SXSW appearances
3/22: White Sox vs. Mariners, Peoria, AZ
3/23: Dodgers vs. White Sox, Glendale, AZ
3/24: Indians vs. Giants, Scottsdale, AZ
3/25: Giants vs. Royals, Surprise, AZ
3/25: Martini Ranch, Scottsdale, AZ
3/26: Festival en el Barrio Viejo, Tucson, AZ
3/27: D-backs vs. Reds, Goodyear, AZ
3/30: The Casbah, San Diego, CA
3/31: The Echo, Los Angeles, CA


RELATED:
Q&A with Steve Wynn of The Baseball Project
The Baseball Project on Letterman
The Baseball Project: Past Time

5 O’Clock Shadowboxers: The Key Studio Sessions

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We are but one day away from a big night at the Hidden House with Nocando, Open Mike Eagle and 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers, and I couldn’t be more amped.

Speaking strictly as a fan, I can’t think of a lineup that better represents the hip-hop I’ve spent a majority of time listening to for the past year. And at the rate these guys move, 2011 will be an even bigger year. Nocando is working on a project with Busdriver (Flash Bang Grenada), a mixtape and a new full-length (check the interview at azcentral.com) and Open Mike Eagle is preparing to release his second full-length, Rappers Will Die of Natural Causes (he talked to the New Times).

And then there’s 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers, who are prepping a follow-up to The Slow Twilight in between solo projects from Zilla Rocca (Bad Weather Classic EP) and Curly Castro (Winston’s Appeal FTW), not to mention the collaborative Wu-Tang Pulp album.

They recently found time to drop by Philly NPR affiliate WXPN for an in-studio session for The Key, which should offer a good idea of what to expect on Friday.

Grab a couple of the tracks from the session below or download all right here.

The stylish Philly duo of Zilla Rocca and Curly Castro present their music so hardboiled and sandpaper-rough it cuts to the bone.

Peep the Shadowboxers from their last performance at the Hidden House in September:

Q&A with Michael Benjamin Lerner of Telekinesis

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It didn’t take long for 12 Desperate Straight Lines, the second full-length album from Telekinesis, to burrow its way into my brain. Michael Benjamin Lerner specializes in a style that blends upbeat, infectious pop with all the worry and woe of desperate heartbreak – a juxtaposition that challenges the idea of what we think sad music should sound like.

With his album set for release on Tuesday on Merge, Lerner graciously took some time to answer a few questions.

Remember: Lerner brings his band to Tempe’s Sail Inn with The Love Language for a 21-and-over show on Feb. 26. Phoenix’s J. Miller is also scheduled to perform.

So Much Silence: Lead singers as drummers are pretty rare. Do the Phil Collins jokes ever get old?

Michael Benjamin Lerner: Never, ever ever! I am in full support of Phil Collins. He’s amazing. Regardless of whether you listen to his music or not, he’s amazing. He’s a really killer drummer, and he’s also a really killer frontman. He’s also really cheesy, hence the origin of the jokes, I think. But, I love the comparisons. I’m not ashamed of them in any way shape or form!

SMS: But seriously, that takes some coordination. When did you realize that double-duty was a task you could handle in a live setting?

MBL: It certainly does take some coordination, but that’s not the biggest hurdle, believe it or not. The biggest hurdle is figuring out how to breathe and how to pace yourself. Drumming (especially full on rock drumming) can be a physically demanding task, and add in singing to that, it becomes really difficult! It’s always a challenge. I’ve been a drummer for 11 years now, and it’s the only instrument I feel truly comfortable playing, especially in a live setting. I think that’s why it happened. There just wasn’t any other way. I couldn’t/can’t play guitar well enough to pull it off onstage, but drums is just something I felt most comfortable with, oddly enough.

SMS: At shows, a lot of people tend to pay a lot of attention to the singer. Do you set up the drum kit closer to the front of the stage? And if so, does it change the sound dynamic from a more traditional setup?

MBL: Yes, the drums go at the front and center. So, we are all in a line at the front of stage. It’s a little strange at first. I think people that aren’t familiar with our live show already but have listened to the records before are certainly taken aback at first. I mean, drums are loud! And I hit hard. So, it’s just a loud cacophonous experience, especially at a smaller club. But, we’re a rock band, and that’s how rock bands are sometimes. It certainly pisses off sound engineers in venues across the country though. Ha! Too many cables and microphones to move around, I guess!

SMS: You tour with a band but play a majority of the instrumentation yourself when recording. Have you or would you consider bringing a band into the studio?

MBL: Absolutely! The band I have currently, it would be a crime if they weren’t on the next record in at least some capacity! Jason Narducy (Robert Pollard band, Bob Mould band) is an amazing songwriter, as well as bass player. And Cody Votolato (Jaguar Love, The Blood Brothers) is a ripping guitar player, and a killer songwriter as well. So, I think if we all got into the studio together, something really special would happen. I also have this grandiose vision of writing a record as a band, and playing it live in a room, and that being the record. We’ll see if that ever works out though.

SMS: I love both albums and the new one really proves that not all songs about heartache have to be such sad-bastard affairs. Is there something cathartic or hopeful for you in writing such infectious music for what are pretty downcast lyrics?

MBL: Yeah! Sometimes it is cathartic. I’m a super heart-on-my-sleeve kind of fellow. Sometimes even the weather can affect a song. Like, I’m sure it was actually super sunny when I wrote You Turn Clear In The Sun. Even though the lyrics on that one are super dark and sad, the melodies and music are happy.

SMS: From the sound of it, you went through a pretty rough patch that included a breakup and a bout of vertigo. Was there an album(s) that helped you get through that time?

MBL: I don’t remember! I can’t think of one album in particular, probably because I was so focused on feeling better and on making my own record. I was writing a whole heck of a lot, and not listening to a ton of stuff for the months that I wrote 12 Desperate Straight Lines.

SMS: I read that you used a set of Oblique Strategies cards during recording. Did you find that they helped you? If so, was there a certain card/phrase that struck you the most?

MBL: Yes! Big time. It just keeps things moving in the studio. It’s like a handbook! “What wouldn’t you do?” was a good one. The “erase the tape and start over” one is really terrifying.

SMS: Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie) joined you again in the studio. What do you enjoy most about working with him?

MBL: His fearlessness and willingness to try new things is super inspiring. We just had fun in the studio, plain and simple. I think a lot of musicians forget sometimes that making music is really fun. Chris and I definitely didn’t forget about that on this one. We really really enjoyed ourselves immensely, and it was a wonderful experience.

SMS: You recorded the new album to analog tape. What is the benefit of that for you?

MBL: It just forces takes and performances. You can’t go back and fix anything, or create playlists, like you can on a computer. And you have to decide things in the moment, which I love. Plus, it just sounds amazing. And it also smells really good, and is fun to watch.

SMS: Finally, what’s the deal with using ALL CAPS on Twitter?

MBL: Twitter to me is like a newspaper headline. Thus, the all caps. I’m not shouting, I promise!

Yuck: Rubber (live and official video)

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I admit: I can sometimes be unfairly discriminatory. Some might say “shallow.” But hey, there are so many bands and so little time, I might not make it past a group’s name.

Then, as in the case of Yuck, that theory can make me feel like a horse’s ass. I’m not sure what I expected from a band called Yuck – some hipster-electro garbage maybe? – but I certainly didn’t expect what I heard on Thursday night at the Rhythm Room: a big wall-of-sound throwback to ’90s shoegaze that had me thinking about Catherine Wheel all over again.

It was the type of floor-shaking first impression that could only be made in a live setting. So in that sense, I’m glad I initially resisted. As noted by Michael Lopez in his show review at the New Times, it was the set closer, Rubber, that obliterated all in its path – a fuzzy seven-minute epic that eventually gets swallowed in an excess of feedback, noise and other assorted distortion.

Big thanks to Henri at SilverPlatter for braving what surely was a deafening experience up front to capture video of the performance (more here):

Rubber also serves as the closer on Yuck’s self-titled album, which comes out Tuesday on Fat Possum. Here is the official video:

RJD2 as The Insane Warrior: We Are the Doorways

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Inspired by a spree of creativity (and a subscription to Netflix), RJD2 released a new album last week under the alias The Insane Warrior.

We Are the Doorways is a 10-track instrumental project that RJ cooked up as an ode to sci-fi/horror films circa 1975-1984. He doesn’t specify exactly which movies sparked this endeavor, but RJ does offer some insight into the process at his website:

“It was really like the perfect antidote to the mentality i take into an rjd2 record; alot of this music is in ways the exact opposite of what i am usually trying to do. (The content of alot of these movies can be really fascinating as well.) So i became obsessed with this stuff for a period, enough so that i ended up making a record that was in a lot of ways an homage to this era of film scoring. It allowed me to escape the baggage that can come along with the continuing of a catalog. And it was FUN. I had a blast making it.”

As you’d expect, RJD2 doles out a dose of hearty drum samples (like on Then You Hear Footsteps below), but he also alters the mood with spaced-out synths throughout. The second half of the eight-minute Black Nectar, which drifts off into a hypnotizing swirl of synths, probably best illustrates the sci-fi sound RJ is going for here.

Overall, it feels a little more tightly focused than the past couple albums under the RJD2 name. And he’s having some fun with it by holding a contest to ask for artistic submissions that complement any of the tracks from We Are the Doorways.

Also, check out the video for The Water Wheel that premiered last week on XLR8R:

RELATED:
RJD2 on Daytrotter
RJD2: A Spaceship for Now (video)
RJD2: Let There Be Horns (video)
New/old RJD2: Find You Out
I Used to Love H.E.R.: RJD2

Incoming: The New Pornographers, April 15

April 15 is Tax Day in the U.S., so what better way to celebrate than throwing your hard-earned return at a bunch of Canadians?

The New Pornographers are coming back to the Valley for the first time since … well, I can’t remember. I’ve had to go to Tucson – Neko Case’s former hometown – the past two times to see them.

But thanks to Coachella – The New Porns are playing there on April 16 – the Phoenix/Tempe market serves as a hub of show activity for bands going to/returning from the festival. Because of this, I’ve heard that Neko and Dan Bejar of Destroyer will both be on hand for the Marquee Theatre concert, a treat that may not be afforded to the rest of the band’s tour stops. (If you’ve never witnessed Bejar perform with New Porns, you’ll definitely want to see this.)

And as if it couldn’t get better, Menomena, also playing Coachella, is scheduled to open.

Tickets are $23 advance and $25 day of show.

In the meantime, The New Porns released a new video for Moves, the leadoff track from 2010′s Together. It’s a fictional look at “the rise and rise of The New Pornographers.” Funny stuff and lots of familiar faces, if you consider Ted Leo dressed as Kathryn Calder familiar.

RELATED:
The New Pornographers: Your Hands (Together) (video)
Menomena: Dirty Cartoons (video)

Phantogram: Mouthful of Diamonds (feat. ?uestlove)

How do you take a great song – one of my favorites of 2010 – and make it even better? Add a little ?uestlove, of course.

Electro-pop duo Phantogram made its TV debut on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday. And as with any musical guest on the show, the idea of pairing with the Roots – one of them, or all of them – makes for tantalizing possibilities. Here, ?uestlove proves that man can indeed be as efficient as machines.

Pick up Phantogram’s Eyelid Movies, released last year on Barsuk.

RELATED:
I Used to Love H.E.R.: Sarah Barthel (Phantogram)
Phantogram: Mouthful of Diamonds (live on KEXP)

New Low song: Try to Sleep

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After spending much of 2010 indulging a rock catharsis with his other Sub Pop band, Retribution Gospel Choir, Alan Sparhawk is back to lead the minimal stylings of Low for the trio’s release of C’mon, the band’s first album since 2007′s Drums and Guns.

The 10-track album, recorded in Sacred Heart Studio (a former Catholic church), is due out April 12, and the band has unleashed the first song from it, Try to Sleep. Stream it below or cough up an e-mail address for a download.

Pre-order C’mon at Sub Pop.

1. Try to Sleep
2. You See Everything
3. Witches
4. Done
5. Especially Me
6. $20
7. Majesty/Magic
8. Nightingale
9. Nothing But Heart
10. Something’s Turning Over

Nocando: Mic Fights in Tucson (2007)

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Thanks to some digging in the forums at Arizona Beats, I fell into the seemingly endless YouTube rabbit hole that starts innocently with the search phrase “Nocando freestyle.” Set aside at least an hour if you’re gonna do that.

The forums turned up videos from 2007, when Nocando – who is appearing at our Hidden House extravaganza on Feb. 18 – came to Tucson and claimed the crown at Mic Fights in the 11th edition of the freestyle tourney. Battling has been Nocando’s calling card, and long before he started gaining well-deserved acclaim for his 2010 debut Jimmy the Lock, he was grinding on the freestyle circuit. It’s not so glorious, as you can tell from the videos of the final round at Mic Fight, held at some reggae shop called Twelve Tribes. But he’s a guy who has paid his dues and earned respect the hard way.

You’re also gonna want to check out his bouts during his victorious run at the 2007 Scribble Jam – if you have an hour or two to kill.