Friday, March 31, 2006

Like A Moth To The Flame You Cannot Resist. You Had To Get Involved. Why Did You Get Involved?

Crossroads are a bitch. A total crapshoot. They either end up propelling you towards greatness or they drag you down into mediocrity. After being dropped from Virgin Records in 2004, Gomez found themselves staring down the barrel of their career. As Radiohead so aptly put it: "Where do we go from here? The words are coming out all weird where are you now? That I need you..." Signing with ATO Records in 2005 proved to be the catalyst they needed, and hooking up with legendary producer Gil Norton (Pixies, Foo Fighters) was the breath of fresh air they so deperately deserved. For How We Operate (out May 2), Gomez didn't set out to reinvent the wheel. The Bristish quintet just wanted to change the blueprint for a different sort of rounded object: their own records. With influences ranging from Nirvana to Woody Guthrie, Motown singles to barbershop quartets, Gomez have managed to incorporate all these influences into the best album in their catalogue. There's always been a certain ragged glory to Gomez, and How We Operate retains and revitalizes that glory- and presents it in a more gripping, cohesive form. A definite contender for album of the year. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Gomez: Notice

Gomez: How We Operate

Gomez: Hamoa Beach

Gomez: All Too Much

Thursday, March 30, 2006

God Works In Mysterious Ways. And God Gives And Then He Takes. From Me.

(photos courtesy of Josh Rodriguez)

Part revivalist revue, part honky tonk rock, and 100% amazing, Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins brought their unique stageshow to the Horchow Auditorium in the Dallas Musuem of Art last night. Focusing primarily on material from her excellent solo debut Rabbit Furcoat, Ms. Lewis and her band showed the crowd of 500 why she's the reigning queen of indie rock. Live, the songs from RFC had an opportunity to flex and breathe; sometimes veering dangerously close to achieveing actual lift-off from the drama theater inspired auditorium. Highlights included the raucous new track "Jack Killed Momma," the soul drenched "Born Secular," and the near hushed/no mic performance of "It Wasn't Me." Her ace in the hole though were The Watson Twins, whose harmonic melding with Jenny's voice proved once and for all how completely different an album RFC would've been without their participation. Dressed like a young Loretta Lynne/June Carter Cash, Lewis treated the audience to a near stellar performance that lingered long after the house lights went up and the first round of drinks were hoisted post show. For your listening (dis)pleasure, highlights off of Rabbit Furcoat:

Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins: Big Guns

Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins: It Wasn't Me

Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins: Rise Up With Fists

Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins: Born Secular

::EDIT:: For some more J-Lew tracks, head on over to My Old Kentucky Blog for Dodge's review of the Nashville show and songs from their appearance on KCRW.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I Wish One Day. The Two Of Us Could Escape. We Could Drive Off To The Sea. Just You & Me.

I first discovered Vicious Vicious while perusing Silence Is A Rhythm Too. A must read for fans of anything 80's or synth-pop, SIART posted a quick review of VV's 2005 release Don't Look So Surprised that caught my eye. I'm not sure if it was the Red Bull I was drinking or the fact that he likened them to a cross between Prince, The Cars, & Weezer, but whatever the case I was hooked. Like, intra-venously hooked. Main songwriter Erik Appelwick (one fifth of the awesome Olympic Hopefuls) conceived DLSS last summer in the sweltering heat of fellow Hopeful Darren Jackson's attic and it shows on the finished product. Equal parts danceable and introspective, Applewick's soulful voice guides the listener through summertime inspired jams that showcase his remarkable songwriting talents and ace backing band. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Vicious Vicious: It's A Serious Thing

Vicious Vicious: Under California Skies

In Time You'll See That Some Things Travel Faster Than Light. In Time You'll Recognize That Love Is Larger Than Life.

One of the finest singer/songwriters of his generation, Neil Finn has had quite a storied career so far. After spending quality time in Kiwi art rockers Split Enz, Finn left the comfort zone of his brother Tim and formed the more pop contempo Crowded House. Having produced some of his finest work during the CH years,he then disbanded the group and went on his now current solo jaunt. In this short amount of time Finn has managed to not only write some of the finest pop gems of the last 25 years, but also gain the respect and admiration of many of his peers. When he needs a back up band to play a string of shows in his native New Zealand he calls on these people: Eddie Vedder, Johnny Marr, Ed O'Brien and Phil Selway (Radiohead), Lisa Germano (John Mellencamp), & Sebastien Steinberg (Soul Coughing). And you know what? They come running. I don't don't know of too many other people that command that kind of power aside from maybe Bruce Springsteen or The Who. The following four tracks were culled from a live performance Neil did on the now defunct Sessions At West 54th. Filmed/recorded after the release of his classic solo debut Try Whistling This, Neil & his band run through laid back versions of some of his best songs. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Neil Finn: Try Whistling This (live)

Neil Finn: I Got You (live)

Neil Finn: Faster Than Light (live)

Neil Finn: Loose Tongue (live)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Blue Blue Is The Sun. Brown Brown Is The Sky. Green Green Of Her Eyes. A Million Miles. A Million Miles.

It's Friday and I'm in a good mood. UCLA pulled off a great comback against Gonzaga and Texas crushed West Virginia. My bracket is still alive!

On Oh Cracker, Where Art Thou?, Cracker mainstays David Lowery & Johnny Hickman decided to re-record some older tracks bluegrass stylee, and invited leaders of the newgrass movement Leftover Salmon to help them out. Laid down in apparently only two days, the album has a pungent raw sound to it; creating an interesting fusion between rock and bluegrass. At times playful,funny,and unencumbered, "O Cracker Where Art Thou?" effortlessly bends classic, and not so classic, Cracker tracks into new shapes. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Cracker w/Leftover Salmon: Get Off This

Cracker w/Leftover Salmon: Eurotrash Girl

Cracker w/Leftover Salmon: Low

Cracker w/Leftover Salmon: Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Only One You Got To Serve Is Your Soul

Enigma. That word gets tossed around a lot here. And in the case of Ben Harper it is the perfect adjective to describe the man and his music. Enigma. Enigmatic. You never know what you're going to get with him. Sometimes it's the utter beauty and chaos of The Will To Live. Other times it's the delightfully sloppy but underwhelming Burn To Shine. But on the absolutely essential new album Both Sides Of The Gun, we finally come into contact with the Harper we've all been longing for. BSOTG is what every artist strives for: to create something that can be used as a benchmark; as a testament to their talent. Radiohead achieved this with OK Computer. Depeche Mode with Violator. Foo Fighters tried but failed miserably with In Your Honor. This time around, Harper reaches for the brass ring and gets it; producing, writing, and playing what will no doubt become his defining album. BSOTG satiates both kinds of Ben Harper fans. There are rockers, there are ballads, and there are oddly off-beat songs that only he can pull off. While splitting the album into two parts may seem silly to some, it ends up lending a positve, more cohesive effect to the album. I'm curious to know what people think of this album. I think it's fucking great. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Ben Harper: Get It Like You Like It

Ben Harper: Serve Your Soul

Ben Harper: Never Leave Lonely Alone

Ben Harper: Cryin' Won't Help You Now

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Water, It's A Bad Friend. It'll Hurt Like The Shit You Left. It'll Love You `Til You Claw For Air.

For those of you that frequent Indoor Fireworks you pretty much know the drill: each post focuses on a single artist or band. No more. No less. Tonight however, things will be slightly different. Here are several bands that I've been digging over the course of the last month that I would like to share with you...mid-month round-up stylee. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Dig Radiohead? A big fan of Steely Dan? Then check out the eclectic stylings of Portland, Oregon's Kieskagato. "This band is a musical anomaly- elements of rock, jazz, latin, avant garde, and electronica come together in unexpected but musically pleasing ways. Horn sections materialize and decay; dynamics fluctuate from the slightest trickle of sound to a rushing torrent and back again." Dig it:

Kieskagato: Thursday

Kieskagato: Well Then Alright

A pop sheen doesn't always have to be a bad thing. In the case of The Working Title it actually works in their favor. Employing a tightly wound talent for writing insanely catchy singles, lead singer/guitarist Joel Hamilton bares his heart and spleen in the band's debut single:

The Working Title: The Mary Getaway (I Lost Everything)

One album that hasn't left my stereo since I received it is The Mean Way In by Division Day. Mixing equal parts obscure lyrics and oblique melodies, DD capitalize on their tight rhythm section to achieve perfect fuzz-pop bliss:

Division Day: Worker Sleeper

Division Day: Leveler

And last but not least I leave you with the decadent sounds of Point Juncture, WA. Sounding like members of Stereolab, Lush, and Portishead playing "7 Minutes In Heaven" in a closet (oh, come on. you remember), this Washington quintuplet pull off what every other band has been attempting to do all year: sound like The Arcade Fire without actually trying:

Point Juncture, WA: Seven

Point Juncture, WA: Cello

Thursday, March 16, 2006

We're Too Young To Fall Asleep. Too Cynical To Speak. We Are Losing It, Can't You Tell?

Recorded in front of a wildly enthusiastic crowd in Holland circa 1997 during the OK Computer tour, this live bootleg is easily one of my Radiohead favorites. Showcasing the band performing during an extremely cohesive time, Thom, Johnny, Ed, Phil, & Colin rip through tracks off of The Bends & OK Computer. Highlights include Ed telling Thom to "Fuck Off" during the intro to Just, and quite possibly, the best live version of Karma Police ever. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Radiohead: My Iron Lung (live)

Radiohead: Karma Police (live)

Radiohead: Just (live)

Radiohead: Street Spirit (Fade Out) (live)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I Have Failed To Be What You'd Expect Of Me. Swallowing Glass Just To Stay Pure.

So very sorry about the lack of posts lately. First there was Mexico, then there was a nasty flu bug and now finally there is business to take care of. I had wanted to post about Matt Costa a few weeks ago but for some reason life got in the way. Go figure. After receiving and listening to his upcoming album Songs We Sing I was immediately struck by how So Cal his sound was. In an instant, I was a back in San Diego, crusing the cliffs with a 22 ouncer, watching the waves break; sounding like cymbals crashing about. His sound sometimes evokes a young Duncan Sheik, or at times an edgier Jack Johnson with whom he toured with in 2004. But better. Blending sunny pop vibes with some great pop hooks, Costa hooked up with No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont to record the sessions that would ultimately make up the bulk of his upcoming debut on Brushfire Records. These aren't the tracks I had originally wanted to post but I'm out of town without access to my tunes. Enjoy these 2 from his site. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Matt Costa: Darling Be Home Soon

Matt Costa: Sunshine (2003 demo)

Stream one of the best tracks from his upcoming debut:

Matt Costa: Cold December

Saturday, March 04, 2006

I Don't Understand About Diamonds And Why Men Buy Them. What's So Impressive About A Diamond Except The Mining?

I just couldn't bear to watch it. Seeing her in such an unsettling enviornment, filled with drunk frat boys and trendy girls from the GAP. Talking to my brother the week before in L.A. confirmed it. "Well, how was Fiona Apple? Did she pull off a good show?" "I dunno man. We missed everything but the last 2 songs." "What do you mean?" I asked. "Sorry bro, the girls wanted beer." Such a trite explanation from such a smart kid. I guess it runs in the family. I kindly returned my tickets for the upcoming Dallas show and headed for the warm beaches Mexico instead. But I brought her with me. And I listened. I listened while I stared at the ocean; the sun a warm embrace around my body. I listened while the moon and marina lights danced across the bay like butterflies performing their own serenade just for me. I let Fiona get under my skin like never before. Even deeper than the sliver of glass that cut me so deep I bled straight through for 2 days. And somehow just hearing her and the haunting melodies she creates made it seem like I hadn't missed anything at all. And maybe I hadn't. But as it stands now, I will never know. But I can always dream. For your listening (dis)pleasure, my 2 favorite songs off of Extraordinary Machine in both leaked and final versions. Enjoy:

Fiona Apple: Red Red Red (leaked version)

Fiona Apple: Red Red Red

Fiona Apple: Oh, Sailor (leaked version)

Fiona Apple: Oh, Sailor