Parquet Courts: Stoned and Starving

parquetcourts

For the majority of the past 24 hours or so, I’ve been sort of obsessed with Parquet Courts‘ “Stoned and Starving,” as sincere a stoner anthem that we’ve heard in recent memory.

In the same way JEFF the Brotherhood wanted to cool out and get wasted with a six-pack, Parquet Courts – from Brooklyn by way of Texas – spend a good five minutes on “Stoned and Starving” pondering a common concern with uncommon earnestness. Any of us would eat a burrito; these guys wrote a song, and a pretty damn good one at that.

I don’t sense any of the irony I expected when I first saw the title of the song. Co-frontman Andrew Savage told Pitchfork: “There’s a lot of songs on the record about being a loner, about my first winter in New York.” So when they sing the opening lines – “I was walking through Ridgewood, Queens / I was flipping through magazines” – you know this isn’t just the ramblings of an aimless stoner.

Stream and/or purchase the LP Light Up Gold, released by Dull Tools last year and re-released by What’s Your Rupture? in 2013.

Incoming: The Postal Service, April 18, Comerica Theatre

postalservice

As soon as news broke of a reunion for the Postal Service, which includes a Coachella appearance, I had a hunch we might be getting an announcement for a Phoenix show.

That announcement happened today, and the show will happen April 18 at Comerica Theatre, via Stateside Presents. The live band will include Jenny Lewis (Jenny & Johnny, Rilo Kiley) and Laura Burhenn (Mynabirds, Bright Eyes).

Ten years after the release of their much-beloved debut album – their only album – Benjamin Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello are getting back together to celebrate the (inevitable) deluxe reissue of Give Up, which will include 15 bonus tracks (two of them new) as a two-CD or three-LP package, out April 9 via Sub Pop.

It’s a platinum-selling gem that will set new hearts aflutter and appeal to the nostalgics among us. In the 10 years since, the band’s name – inspired by how Gibbard and Tamborello mailed CD-Rs to each other (stamps and all) to make the collaboration work – feels a touch antiquated, a snapshot of a time before file sharing became so easy. That sort of begs the question: Wouldn’t a second album be much easier to create these days?

Regardless, I have been and will be revisiting Give Up in the days to come. I’m wondering, like I do with so many albums from my formative listening years: Is this a legitimate classic or an album that just captured specific emotions in a time and place that are really too foreign to relate to anymore?

In the time being, find ticket information at the Postal Service website. It appears GA tickets for the floor are $50 and are limited to four at a time.

New Cave Singers: Easy Way

cavesingers

With their fourth album, Naomi, due out on March 5, the Cave Singers just announced a national tour, including a stop in Phoenix at the Rhythm Room on April 22, via Stateside Presents.

Boing Boing, of all places, premiered a new track, “Easy Way,” just a couple months after we heard “Have to Pretend.” There’s great comfort and warmth in the Cave Singers’ style, the sort of campfire folk rock that inspires fun foot stomping and fuzzy feelings all around.

The band has expanded to four members, adding multi-instrumentalist Morgan Henderson (formerly of the Blood Brothers, Fleet Foxes) to the fold. The more the merrier, I say.

RELATED:

Taking inventory: 2012 shows and looking beyond

For as long as I’ve kept this blog – coming up on damn near eight years now – I had never kept a running log of live shows I’ve attended. I decided last year I should probably change that, if for no other reason than to remind myself exactly where all my money is really going.

Turns out, I’ve funneled most of it to Crescent Ballroom, where I saw 16 of the 34 shows I went to in 2012. Only two shows on the list – Aloe Blacc in Las Vegas and Richard Buckner in New York – took place outside of Arizona’s borders (I’m already halfway to that number in 2013 after seeing the Walkmen and Father John Misty in San Francisco on Jan. 25).

I saw a big show (Radiohead at Jobing.com Arena), but much preferred the smaller ones (like standing and sweating on parking-lot asphalt to see my brother’s band, Source Victoria, play Stinkweeds for Record Store Day).

My first show of 2012 yielded a great new discovery in PAPA; three days later, I was spitting distance – just a mere few rows – from witnessing another great Wilco performance. Some of my other favorite live sets came from Serengeti, the Walkmen, Moonface and Japandroids.

Mostly, it was just a fun exercise to keep track of this, and I’m sort of inspired to try to piece together years past of concertgoing, using ticket stubs, flyers and this blog to compile what surely would be an incomplete history of my live music life.

You can peruse the 2012 list below. But also, I could use your help for the future. As I said, I’ve been going at this for almost eight years, since summer 2005, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about pulling the plug on it more than a few times. More than anything, it’s hard to keep up anymore, and I have a ton of respect for the blogs still grinding all these years later without sacrificing quality. Passion of the Weiss; Aquarium Drunkard; I Am Fuel, You Are Friends; Chromewaves; You Ain’t No Picasso (to name just a few) are some of my favorites from back when I started, and they remain so. Please, don’t take their dedication/talent for granted.

There are so many voices saying so many great things that I’ve wondered what I have to offer to the conversation. (That’s not meant to sound like a pity party, but you’re welcome to shower me with compliments if you’d like.) I can barely listen to all the albums I want, let alone read what everyone is saying about them. I’m sitting here thinking of at least five albums I’d love to dig into, but I’m not sure if I can give them the required attention they deserve. My friend Casey – as talented a music writer/critic/listener there is – once said he listens to an album at least 10 times before forming an opinion on it. In this age of distraction and fleeting praise, that certainly is an astonishing feat of discipline and patience.

Eight years ago, it felt like a gold rush; I couldn’t get my hands on enough new music. I was ripping radio performances and vinyl, turning them into mp3s. I wouldn’t sleep – I couldn’t sleep – unless I posted at least once a day. These days, the thrill has dulled a tad, replaced by what I’d like to think is a more tempered and refined approach to music discovery. Not every new act is totally amazing (except for Father John Misty). I’m 35 now, and my job and life sometimes don’t allow me the types of leisures I enjoyed at 27.

All that said, I’m not penning this blog’s eulogy just yet (though it should be noted Chrome just crashed as I wrote that, making me wonder what the gods are trying to tell me). It felt good last week to once again hammer out one post per day, even if I had nothing Very Important to say.

But here’s where I’m asking for your help. If you’ve read this blog for a long time or a short time – it doesn’t matter – what do you like/dislike? What would you like to see more of/less of? Lately, I’ve been thinking of taking this beyond music – I love sports (especially baseball) and books and my wife and my dog and cat (they’re really cute!). Maybe something more in the vein of a Tumblr blog (yeah, just what we need, another Tumblr blog). I’ve long thought of doing a podcast – maybe it’s time to man up and do that, or has that ship sailed?

On the topic of music, do you really care if I’m posting the Newest Track of the Day? I assume most people go to the Pitchforks and Stereogums of the world for that anyway. Perhaps you’d rather hear some long-forgotten gem in my library because, well, just because. Maybe you’d like to see more show listings and concert announcements because I’m often surprised when friends tell me they hadn’t heard that So and So was coming to Such and Such Venue.

In the end, I think I’ve lost a little perspective on what made this fun in the first place, and I’d love to hear what people who read this site – hello? anybody? – have to say. I’ll welcome words of encouragement and criticism. I’ll even accept contributions to the site (I hope you’ve been reading Eric’s excellent posts). Everything is on the table, including a long-overdue redesign.

If you made it this far (in this post and with this blog), I thank you. I’ve met lots of amazing people because of this, so I’d love to hear what anyone has to say. Please comment or email me or track me down on Twitter.

In the meantime, have a look at my 2012 concert log:

Jan. 18: Handsome Furs with PAPA, Crescent Ballroom
Jan. 21: Wilco with White Denim, Gammage Auditorium

Feb. 1: Zola Jesus, Crescent Ballroom
Feb. 4: The Jealous Sound with Source Victoria and Dust Jacket, the Rogue
Feb. 14: White Denim with Knesset, Crescent Ballroom
Feb. 16: Digital Leather with Scorpion vs. Tarantula, Acid Dawgz, Weird Ladies, Rhythm Room
Feb. 28: Cloud Nothings with A Classic Education, Otro Mundo, Crescent Ballroom

March 8: Miniature Tigers with Chain Gang of 1974, Geographer and Pretty & Nice, Crescent Ballroom
March 15: Radiohead with Other Lives, Jobing.com Arena
March 30: White Rabbits, Crescent Ballroom

April 6: Portugal. The Man, Crescent Ballroom
April 21: Source Victoria, Stinkweeds (Record Store Day)
April 22: Feist with Timber Timbre, Orpheum Theatre
April 27: Open Mike Eagle, Has-Lo, Random and Savant, Hidden House

May 10: Source Victoria, the Rogue
May 20: Milo Greene, PAPA and Bears of Manitou, Rhythm Room
May 23: Sparta with Ki:Theory, Crescent Ballroom

June 7: Destroyer with Sandro Perri, Crescent Ballroom
June 11: The Life and Times with UME and the Riveras, Rhythm Room
June 14: The Cave Singers, Sail Inn
June 25: El-P with Killer Mike, Mr. Muthafuckin Exquire and Despot, Crescent Ballroom

July 8: Bass Drum of Death with DZ Deathrays, Rhythm Room
July 19: Henry Clay People with Source Victoria, Crescent Ballroom
July 26: Aloe Blacc, Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Aug. 12: Fang Island, Rhythm Room
Aug. 15: Sharon Van Etten with Tennis, Crescent Ballroom
Aug. 27: WHY? with Serengeti, Crescent Ballroom

Sept. 2: Source Victoria with the World Record, Bogan Via and Vinyl Station, the Rogue
Sept. 16: The Walkmen with Milo Greene, Crescent Ballroom
Sept. 17: Moonface with Foxygen and Underground Cities, Rhythm Room
Sept. 29: Menomena with PVT, Crescent Ballroom

Nov. 7: Japandroids with Bleached, Sail Inn

Dec. 12: Richard Buckner, Mercury Lounge (New York)
Dec. 16. Limbeck with Reubens Accomplice, Crescent Ballroom

Father John Misty: Only Son of the Ladiesman (on Late Show with David Letterman)

misty

For some reason or another – no time or interest or just out of sheer laziness – I abandoned the obligatory year-end list-making chores. When I was a dutiful blogger, I’d typically post about my favorites albums (about 10 of them) and then have a post about a favorite song of the year. Had I done that for 2012, Father John Misty’s “Only Son of the Ladiesman” would have taken top honors.

It was (still is) my surefire go-to – the song I wanted to hear at any moment, the song I thought I could sing in the car, the song I’d annoy my wife with because it was the only song I wanted to keep hearing. Something about the lyrical imagery captured my imagination: “They tied down his casket with the garter belt / Each troubled heart was beating in a sequin dress / Someone must console these lonesome daughters / No written word or ballad will appease them.”

I missed Father John Misty when he came to Phoenix in October, but I shall rectify that by seeing him in San Francisco this Friday, when he opens for the Walkmen. I’m sort of excited to see the dance moves live (no, I don’t have a man-crush, why do you ask?). To celebrate this trip, here’s something I neglected to post last year from May, when FJM did his thing on Late Show with David Letterman.

Cuzzo D. of Not the 1s: Bad at Rap mix

bad_at_rap

It takes a special type of dedication – a sick and twisted dedication – to seek out and collect bad rap for the past 25 years. Eric Steuer (aka Cuzzo D. of Not the 1s and also half of the great Meanest Man Contest) has done just that. There is no doubt plenty from which to choose.

Steuer has compiled a treasure/trash trove of some of the greatest worst raps you can imagine. It literally took everything in me to make it through Mr. T’s “I Am Somebody.” Not surprisingly, a few athletes show up on the mix (Darryl Strawberry and Ron Artest), but the real gem here might be Beach Boy Brian Wilson, who unbelievably tried his hand at rap with “Smart Girls” (produced by Matt Dike, no less). WFMU has the story on it here.

Says Steuer: “I’ve been collecting bad rap songs since I first heard Darryl Strawberry kick his endearingly wack verse on “Chocolate Strawberry” back in 1987. This mix is made up mostly of stuff from the late ’80s and early ’90s (the golden era of cynical, inept stabs at cashing in on hip-hop’s popularity), although I threw in a couple of newer terrible raps at the end, to keep things fresh & current. I just started working on the second volume of this mix, and my fingers are crossed that Denny “Average Homeboy” Blaze will record a drop for it (he turned me down for this one).”

Bad rap never sounded so good.

Download and/or stream the mix over at Dublab. The track listing is below.

1. DC Talk – I Luv Rap Music
2. Outlaw Posse (f/ David Faustino) – Brand New Star
3. Icy Blu – It’s Your Birthday
4. Mr. T – I Am Somebody
5. Darryl Strawberry – Chocolate Strawberry
6. Hulk Hogan and The Wrestling Boot Band – Beach Patrol
7. A to the D – The Renegade Jew
8. Dee Dee King (aka Dee Dee Ramone) – German Kid
9. Brian Wilson – Smart Girls
10. MC Skat Kat and the Stray Mob – I Ain’t No Kitty
11. Vanilla Ice – Havin’ a Roni
12. Biscuit – Biscuit’s in the House
13. Elvira – Monsta’ Rap
14. Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks – City of Crime
15. Surf MC’s – Can’t Get a Tan
16. 2 Bigg MC – High on Your Love
17. Joey Lawrence – I Like the Way (Kick da Smoove Groove)
18. Gerardo – My Name Is Not Rico
19. Aaron Carter – That’s How I Beat Shaq
20. Ron Artest – Michael Michael
21. Kids Hit Masters – Crank That (Soulja Boy)

PAPA: Put Me To Work (video)

papa

I’ve been sold on PAPA since seeing them last January in an opening slot for Handsome Furs. After releasing a great EP, A Good Woman Is Hard to Find, in late 2011 – listen to it, for God’s sake – Darren Weiss (ex-Girls) and Daniel Presant are allegedly (hopefully) due to release their full-length debut sometime this year.

Presumably, “Put Me To Work” will be on that. They released the song in October and now have given it a visual companion, directed by Jonathan Hausfater, who’s also responsible for two previous PAPA videos. As noted on Buzzbands.la, the video took an inspirational cue from the ’90s Nickelodeon TV series Pete and Pete. Weiss said they wanted “to make it funny, sad, strange, and beautiful.”

See for yourself.

Worth noting: PAPA was added as support for Matt and Kim’s show on March 9 at Marquee Theatre in Tempe.

New Low: Just Make It Stop

low_2013

My inbox runneth over this past week. If new tracks from Serengeti, the Besnard Lakes and Telekinesis weren’t enough, we’re also treated to a track from Low, a couple of months after the Minnesota slowcore trio announced details of its forthcoming album, The Invisible Way.

Oh, yeah: Did I mention the album – the band’s 10th – was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy? Wonderful worlds of music colliding.

Like the press photo above, Low’s drummer Mimi Parker steps to the forefront for vocals on “Just Make It Stop,” one of five songs she takes lead on for the 11-track album, a wonderful development as the band celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Nothing against Alan Sparhawk, who is a badass, but his wife’s voice is a thing of beauty, one of my favorites. Sparhawk also notes the bands increased use of piano on the album – “lots of piano” – and it’s all fully realized here.

The Invisible Way comes out March 19 on Sub Pop. And follow Low on Twitter.

Full track listing for The Invisible Way, via chairkickers.com:

Plastic Cup
Amethyst
So Blue
Holy Ghost
Waiting
Clarence White
Four Score
Just Make It Stop
Mother
On My Own
To Our Knees

New Telekinesis: Ghosts and Creatures

telekinesis

In a Q&A two years ago, Michael Benjamin Lerner (aka Telekinesis) told me: “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.”

Well, for the time being, Telekinesis remains a one-man studio venture. Lerner is returning with his third album, Dormarion, due for release on on Merge on April 2. As if to emphasize the efficiency of the operation, Lerner recorded the album in just two weeks, with Spoon drummer Jim Eno producing at Eno’s Public Hi-Fi studio in Austin, Texas. There are pictures to prove it.

Even better: Lerner, who canceled his Tempe show two years ago, is playing Crescent Ballroom on April 28, and he’s got an impressive backing band for the tour: Erik Walters (The Globes) on guitar, Eric Elbogen (Say Hi) on bass and Rebecca Cole (Wild Flag and the Minders) on keyboards.

“Ghosts and Creatures” is the first leak from the new album, and while it doesn’t smack you in the face with his usual power-pop prowess, it’s no less catchy.

The Besnard Lakes: People of the Sticks

besnardlake_2013

The list of albums I’m looking forward to in 2013 is quickly filling up, topped by news of a new one from Montreal’s the Besnard Lakes, who craft epic walls of sound that can suck you in with their deliberate pace before you realize you’ve been floored by the grandeur of it all.

A Besnard Lakes release feels special, at least for me. They release albums once every two to three years, careful to ensure there is some heft/importance with every record. Nothing is watered down and there’s a certain gravity to the music, far out as the ideas may sometimes be. In premiering a song, “People of the Sticks,” at NPR, the band said of the new album: “Themes of personal loss alongside Millenial ennui weave their way into the narrative of the record. 2012 has come and gone and the world still rotates on its ever precarious axis prompting the question: What next?”

In typical Besnard fashion, the title of the new album, Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO (out April 2 on Jagjaguwar), reads like a non sequiter – some secret code to crack.

As Jeff Weiss perfectly puts it at Passion of the Weiss: ” … but this is the thing about Besnard Lakes, they tap into some weird feeling of immensity. Spectral plains and fossil remains. Music to drive and dive to. I don’t even care whether they’re singing about spies or water slides. When the guitar crescendo and Olga Goreas’ plaintive wail start to combine, I am taken somewhere else entirely.”

"Prague… you'll come back a bug."