Last night at karaoke, I was on stage with ten or so people screaming/singing Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing,' closing out the bar for the night. It's a ritual that doesn't happen every Wednesday, so it's always a special night when it does. There is no doubt that everyone on the stage last night loves that song, but would any of them admit it if there wasn't a good deal of alcohol involved? A couple might deny it. A few might admit it. But a vast majority would say it was a guilty pleasure.
Engine Room Recordings has taken the guilty pleasure concept and exposed the musical mis-taste some of indie rock's greats with their Guilt by Association compilation, due out August 7. It's a pretty simple concept. The artists pick a guilty pleasure song and cover it. This makes for quite the tracklisting, including Mike Watt on BOC's 'I'm Burning For You,' Luna on Paula Abdul's 'Straight Up,' and The Concretes on Take That's 'Back For Good' (!). And, bringing this post full circle, Petra Haden's take on Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing.' Haden, of course, is no stranger to covers, and she handles this one perfectly.
Head over to the GbA myspace page to hear it plus Will Oldham singing Mariah Carey and Devendra Banhart on Oasis. (Keep your ears for the guilty pleasure mash-up that Haden pulls at the end of the song.)
Just a real quick post today. There's nothing I like more than some drunken karaoke singer completely destroying Bonnie Tyler's 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' - as long as they're rocking it out, who cares? So today I'm giving you, dear IndieRocketeer, the chance to choose between two covers of the song. Both are live. Both are on some weird international cable stations that I've never heard of. Both understand that you must rock 'Total Eclipse' out, and don't worry about breaking it along the way.
First up, as made somewhat famous in the Will Ferrell comedy Old School - The Dan Band!
And all the way from Norway - Hurra Torpedo!
Now, ladies and gentlemen, make your voice heard! Who rocks Bonnie Tyler the most?
One of my favorite singers of the past couple years is Cory Branan. I first saw him play at The Whig a couple summers ago, and it was without a doubt one of the best singer/songwriter shows I've ever seen. I can't even begin to explain the perfect combination of charismatic self-deprecation, songcraft, and improvisation that he puts into his act. He's come back into town a couple times since then, and each show has burned itself into my mind, especially this one night at New Brookland Tavern when my roommate at the time Rob Lindsey opened for him that remains one of the strangest nights of my life. Maybe one day I'll do a nice heartfelt post about that night, but this post is just about Cory and his songwriting.
Cory (and I use his first name because we've hung out on a few occasions, and he is without a doubt one of the down to earth artists I've ever met) was recently featured on ASCAP's Audio Portraits series, which has covered artists such as Steve Earle, Jurassic 5, Ray Wilie Hubbard, and the Old 97s. It's basically some of Cory's songs mixed with a phone interview where he talks about the inspirations and writing/recording process for the songs. It's very interesting to me as someone who has loved his songs for years, but it's also a great introduction to the artist for anyone who wants to check him out.
Click this link for the Audio Portrait and be sure to hit up Cory's myspace page for tons of great music to stream (I highly recommend 'Lily.')
Get Out! is indierocket!'s guide to getting down in the Soda City.
Before the Music Dies :: Nickelodeon Theatre :: Friday, 4 p.m.
Skip out of work early and head to the Nick for this one — filmmakers Andrew Shapter and Joel Rasmussen take a critical look at the pop music industry in Before the Music Dies, which features interviews with the likes of Eric Clapton, Branford Marsalis, Dave Matthews, Erykah Badu and the indomitable Elvis Costello. There's also a noon showing on Saturday. Damage: $5.
The Void :: Hunter-Gatherer :: Friday, 11 p.m.
We all love Sabbath, and this local Sabbath tribute act does it right. Damage: $3.
Jason Stein Trio :: Hunter-Gatherer :: Saturday, 11 p.m.
As Frank Zappa once said, “Jazz isn’t dead, it just smells funny.” So in an age when popular conceptions of jazz are generally limited to Sinatra’s standards and Kenny G’s elevator music butt-jazz, it’s important to recognize exceptional jazz when it appears. Long Island native Jason Stein is a modern master of the bass clarinet — an instrument allaboutjazz.com is quick to point out as “fiendishly difficult” to master — and his fluid, versatile playing makes him one of the notable up-and-comers in post-Ornette jazz. He brings an unusual trio arrangement — featuring Kevin Davis on cello and erstwhile NYC punk Mike Pride on drums and vibes — to the Gatherer in what promises to be a mind-expanding experience. Local freak-jazz aficionado Ross Taylor brought this Windy City trio in, so you know they're awesome. Damage: $5.
Devereaux is the solo side-project from Death Becomes Even The Maiden's W. Heyward (formerly of Bolt). (Full disclosure: Pat and I are both friends with Heyward. But hey, we're friends with most everyone in the local music scene. Plus, we're really freakin' professional. So there.) Recorded earlier this week as something of a test, 'Perestroika' is the first fruit of the Devereaux vine. The track hasn't been mixed or mastered, but you can tell that it's well on its way to being quite tasty. Post-rock guitars loop over drums that sound more hip-hop influenced than anything else, and then the vocoder comes in in all its glory. While the vocoder is a little muffled on this early demo and you can't understand the words, you still get the catchy-as-all-get-out melody. And just when things really crank up with some shouts and hand claps, the song ends, leaving you wanting more. Sounding like Battles meets Shout Out Out Out Out, Devereaux is definitely among the group of bands trying to bring a little bit of intelligence and wit back to dance music.
Head over to Devereaux's myspace to check out the new hotness.
Hailing from the UK (Portsmith, to be exact), The Strange Death of Liberal England are a mélange of influences and sounds that I would never have thought would make for good bedfellows, but hearing them play, I immediately want to slap my forehead. ('Of course! How could it not sound brilliant?!') Lead singer Adam Woolway's voice is a breathy, sometimes cracking, tenor that lies somewhere between The Buzzcock's Pete Shelley and Hefner's Darren Hayman - very good company to keep. Then there's the band - an experimental post-rock marriage of Arcade Fire and (one of my favorites) Saxon Shore. Like Arcade Fire, they have some rousing choruses driven by explosive drums, and just like Saxon Shore, they manage to build and build their songs until the whole thing is a massive conflagration of guitars, strings, and, ohmyGod, the drums. And apparently, after they've played a song live, the band stands in complete silence, holding up huge placards saying things like 'THANK YOU' and 'REPENT REPENT' so they've definitely got quite the stage presence going on as well.
Their debut single 'A Day Another Day' is unfortunately only available in England right now on a limited white vinyl pressing, so unless you want some really high shipping prices, you'll have to wait a bit to get your hands on it. In the meantime, you can head to the band's myspace page and hear 'A Day Another Day' as well as two other amazing songs. I can't recommend enough that you go do this right now. And if you don't...
As you can tell by the amount of Tube posts here at the IndieRocket, we like some music videos. I even go so far as to DVR Suberranean, MTV2's attempt to shove one tiny hour a week of indie rock in the worst possible time slot. As it is with most things, 90% of the videos are shrug-worthy, with a handful of good videos and a rare few brilliant offerings. Over the last year, the big trend in indie rock videos has been animated videos. Subterranean played so many that they got complaints, and deservedly so. You couldn't watch one episode without seeing at least three videos where there were little cartoon caricatures of the band, cute animal things that eventually got killed in horrible ways, or nonsense psychedelic stuff that had little to do with the song and more to do with making some motion graphics designer's resume a little thicker. They were generally poorly animated and completely lacking in anything that might resemble imagination.
I was almost ready to immediately start fast-forwarding through any animated video that popped up. Luckily, I didn't do that when this little gem by Malajube came on. Off their IndieRocket-approved album Trompe-L'Oeil, 'Montréal -40°C' was one of my favorite Malajube tracks and has ended up being my favorite video of the year so far despite the fact that - 1. It's animated. 2. It occasionally falls into all three of the animated video stereotypes that I mentioned above. However, the animation is incredible, and it's chock full of imagination. The blend of real-world and animation, the art style, and yes, even the cute little caricatures of the band (I want little tattoos of them!) are too brilliant for words. Perhaps the plethora of crap animated videos has made me appreciate this video more than I normally would, but damn, I love it, and you will, too. Hats off to the director NuFilms' Louis-Philippe Eno, who also did a so-cute-it-hurts video for Islands' 'Rough Gem'.
Get Out! is indierocket!'s guide to gettin' down in the Soda City.
Toast :: CMFA ArtSpace :: Friday, 8 p.m.
Improv comedy is one of the hardest things to do on this Earth. (We should know; we've tried.) So kudos to diabolically funny Columbia improv troupe Toast, who not only improvise with great aplomb, but make it seem oh so easy in the process. Tonight is Toast's long-form improv show (Toast gigs usually involve playing Whose Line Is It Anyway?-style improv games), This Hotel is Totally Haunted. As it's totally improvised, we of course can't say with any degree of certainty what will happen, but we can assure you that it'll be politically incorrect, incredibly dark and absolutely hysterical. (The CMFA ArtSpace is located at 914 Pulaski St.) Damage: $5.
iPop! :: Art Bar :: Friday, 11 p.m.
Dance-floor terrorism at its best, iPop! spins a raucous mix of electro-indie tunes that will make your booty go clap. indierocket! comrade Tug is a regular. Damage: Free.
So it may not be the most "indie" of updates, but bear with me. I've been thinking a lot about dance music lately since I got asked to do another set at iPop, so of course I've been listening to the Ed Banger stuff quite a bit, but there's something about the beauty of simple pop music, and one of the best in the game is Robbie Williams.
When his last album Intensive Care came out, I was working next to a record store, and I would go over every Tuesday to check out the new releases. When I sauntered over one day to sheepishly ask my buddy David if they had gotten an import of the album, he smiled and said, 'No, but I'm really glad that our friendship is at the point that you feel comfortable asking me that.' This led to a long conversation about musical guilty pleasures, and how if you only love 'good' music, you don't really love music. So while Robbie Williams is a bit of a skeleton in my musical closet, I don't mind turning you lovely people on to the dumb fun of his latest album Rudebox - huge in the UK now of course, and who knows when it'll hit the States. 'Lovelight' is produced by Mark Ronson of Amy Winehouse/Lily Allen/Mark Ronson fame, so while it's soulful, it's definitely not a 'slow jam.' Totally danceworthy.
Robbie Williams Lovelight
Purchase Rudebox on iTunes or here.
I think everyone and their brother has blogged about this video, but just in case you, dear IndieRocketeer, don't read everyone and their brother's blog, here it is. New York-based bluegrass darling dawn Landes (don't ask me why she lowercases the 'D') is a recording engineer during the day, working with folks like Philip Glass, Ryan Adams, and Joseph Arthur. She also recently released her first full-length album Firebrand. (Available for purchase here.)
The impetus for the video in question was when dawn met The WST Bluegrass Band (We Sorta Tried) in Austin and asked them to be her backing band. In one of those brilliant how-did-I-not-think-of-this-first moves, she got them to record a cover of Peter, Bjorn & John's 'Young Folks' which I named as one of my favorite songs of last year. The song works on so many levels. Not only is it one of those rare covers where the band makes the song their own, but it also switches the male-female parts, which I've always been a big fan of (my favorite being Future Bible Heroes version of Human League's 'Don't You Want Me, Baby'). And then there's the fact that the youngest member of The WST Bluegrass Band is 67, giving whole new meaning to the line 'We don't care about the young folks.' The video itself isn't that great - the highlights being just how darn cute dawn is next to these old men, the low point being the cheap lighting and production values. But it's all worth it just to hear this amazing rendition of a new pop classic. Head to dawn's website and download some of her other stuff. It's all quite good.
Gorilla vs. Bear and We Shot JR have both already mentioned Denton, TX's Ghosthustler, and they just had their first show on Saturday! Taking a page (and maybe name inspiration) from Austin's Ghostland Observatory, Ghosthustler drops some funky electro beats. Think Junior Boys meets early Daft Punk with a splash of LCD Soundsystem. It's that dance-y fun stuff that all the kids like these days, and it will most definitely appear in my (tentative) upcoming set at iPop. Download it now, so you can shake your groove thing to it later.
Ghosthustler Parking Lot Nights