Idle Chatter :: Jarvis Cocker on NPR's Fresh Air

Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker was on one of my absolute favorite NPR programs (of which I have many, go ahead, laugh) last night. He was interviewed on Fresh Air with Terry Gross about his new album Jarvis (which is quite the grower, get it if you have not) and says a brilliant bit about his expectations of the Britpop explosion and implosion and its ties to the Labour Party and Tony Blair. This is all very timely since I plan on running a review later this week of the comic Phonogram which has lots of great ideas about the rise and fall of Britpop, its importance in British society, and features a cameo by Jarvis Cocker himself. Anyhow, go check out the interview even if you're not into all that because Cocker has one of the best speaking voices ever. I want him to read all the Harry Potter books to me.

Jarvis Cocker on Fresh Air


Bonnaroo 4 :: You're gonna make me spill my beer if you don't learn how to steer

And then there was Sunday... And man, what a Sunday it was. I started off Sunday with some fresh cut french fries in a waffle cone with homemade honey to dip them in. I highly recommend this to any and everyone. Then I went and saw Elvis Perkins who I thought did an admirable job even though I'm not the biggest fan. The only thing I could come up with to describe him was that he reminds me of Donovan. Which is probably completely wrong.

Next I saw a few songs from The Decemberists. They opened with 'The Mariner's Revenge Song' and then the 18-minute-long 'Tain,' both of which fit the festival vibe quite nicely. I've seen the Decemberists before, though, and I must admit that I prefer seeing them indoors. They all just looked so hot in their three-piece suits in the blazing sun. And I'm pretty sure there was something bad going on with their sound.

Then I made my way over to catch some of Wilco's set. I had been wanting to hear them live because I really don't care for Sky Blue Sky that much, but that's the same way I felt about A Ghost Is Born until I saw them perform the songs live. I managed to catch 'Impossible Germany' and, I think, 'Side With The Seeds,' and I have to admit that I liked them much better live than on the record. And their much-touted new lineup is pretty damn incredible. Nothing but amazing musicians who completely gel with each other.

At this point in the day, I should mention that I was getting quite drunk on warm vodka from a water bottle and even warmer Red Bull. I know, I know, not very professional of me as a blogger, but hey, it's my vacation. So a slightly drunk Tug went off to see Feist, and immediately fell in love with her. Put it this way, if her and Regina Spektor had gotten on stage together, it would have been too much adorable for me to handle.

Finally, I made my way to see The White Stripes, and while I must admit that that whole show was a bit fuzzy for me, I do remember hearing the opening riff for 'Icky Thump' and thinking that Jack White must be some kind of genius. It cut through my drunken daze and rocked my ass off. Hats off to Mr. White.

And that's pretty much it for the Bonnaroo coverage. I know that I promised a review of The National show, but honestly, I've tried to write it a couple times, and anything I type sounds like the hype of an over-excited fanboy. I just can't write about that show without gushing like a maniac. And that wouldn't fit my cool blogger persona, would it? So I will just say this - run, don't walk, to the National show nearest you. It is must-see stuff.


Bonnaroo 3 :: Careless in our summer clothes...

Sorry that it's been so long since I finished my Bonnaroo updates. All the dust I inhaled from spending five days in drought-plagued Manchester, TN, led to me getting a little under the weather. Before I get to Sunday's festivities, I'll catch you up on Friday's shows that I didn't have time to write about.

I started the day off with Cold War Kids, who I've always enjoyed but never really freaked out about. Their show was pretty darn energetic, though, and I vowed to give their CD another spin. Which I did, and I like it a lot more now.

Then I got right up close for the first 'big stage' show of the festival Kings of Leon. I loved their first CD, didn't care for the second one, and admittedly wasn't too excited about seeing them. However, they actually played quite well, even continuing to rock when the sound cut out on them. Only the first few rows (where I was) could hear them, but everyone just clapped and sang along in support. It was a nice moment. And how has no one picked up on the fact that their new stuff is really dance-able? They've even reworked their old songs some so that they sound like perfect fodder for some blog house mashups or something. Also, Elisa Cuthbert was watching from backstage. That's her in the picture up there. She waved at me and my friends. Rowr.

I caught a couple of Hot Chip songs before Lily Allen came on, but I don't think I was close enough to really get into it because it doesn't stick in my mind very well. Lily Allen certainly does, though. She was completely tanked (even though she told the press that she wouldn't drink before the show), finishing off a bottle of Jager towards the end of the show. Sure, this means she forgot a few words, but who cares? It also meant she was much more vocal and fun between songs and said many funny things about 'men with small penises' apparently named Lester. She also did an amazing cover of The Specials' 'Gangsters' and one of Blondie's 'Heart of Glass' that was good, but maybe a bit too obvious.

Friday night ended with a comedy show featuring David Cross, Aziz Ansari, and Nick Kroll. Nick Kroll is on that caveman tv show that I see no point in and did some kind of loud, gay character the whole time that I also saw no point in. Aziz Ansari was on fire, though. He seriously killed. He had this one whole bit that started with him talking about how shitty MTV is now and ended with explaining how he's the gentlest rapist ever. Pure gold. David Cross was pretty good, but a little disappointing. I think that that shorter show meant that he really didn't get to get rolling. And he was a bit thrown (as we all were) by the fact that the band in the next tent over was really, really loud.

Crap. I'm running out of time again. And this post is long enough. I'll finish with Sundays shows sometime this weekend. Oh, but before I go, I forgot to mention before that on Saturday, I managed to catch the last couple songs by Annuals. They were terrific. I've always wanted to see them do their 'hit' song 'Brother' live and boy, it didn't disappoint. I'm definitely making plans to see them again ASAP.


Get Out! :: Falling Off a Building @ The Art Garage :: 06.20.07

Falling Off a Building, Endless Mike & the Beagle Club, The Static Transistor, ...for science! :: The Art Garage :: 7 p.m.
It's a celebration, bitches, as local emo-indie pop tarts Falling Off a Building release their newest long-player, It's Time We Acted Like It. Much like Bright Eyes is the songwriting pseudonym for Conor Oberst (or The Mountain Goats for John Darnielle, etc.), Falling Off a Building is the nom de plume for Columbia tunesmith Adam Cullum. And, like Oberst, Cullum is a simple and earnest storyteller with a unique voice that's equally adept at whispering as it is shouting. It's simple, smart, emotive indie pop for the thinking man. And it's awesome.

Also on the bill: Johnstown, Pa.'s, Endless Mike & the Beagle Club, who share more than a few of Falling Off a Building's indie pop tendencies (though they're maybe closer to Death Cab for Cutie); fellow Johnstonians The Static Transistor, who love them the hell out of old-school hardcore punk; and local heavy post-rock act ...for science!, which features members of alaska the tiger, sein zum tode and The Heist and the Accomplice, makes its debut. Damage: $5.


New Noise :: Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start

I stumbled across this New Jersey quintet on the delightful clicky clicky blog, and was quickly hooked on "Melanie Fury." They say that brevity is the soul of wit, and "Melanie Fury" packs an ungodly amount of twists and turns in its scant two minutes and thirteen seconds. "Melanie Fury" comes from Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start's free Girls' Names EP, which is available at the band's website.

RIYL: Death Cab for Cutie (circa The Photo Album); Texas is the Reason (circa Do You Know Who You Are?); American Football; intricate, powerful, literate post-emo.

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start — "Melanie Fury"

Bonnaroo 2 :: It started recreational, ended kinda medical

So yesterday (Saturday I think it was?) was full of amazing shows. The ever-adorable Regina Spektor came out to a huge audience and had the tenacity to start off with an a capella number, then play four or five songs with just her and the piano. And she had everyone eating out of the palm of her hand. She seemed sincerely delighted to be there and after every song would laugh out loud as we applauded, apparently as amused with us as we were with her.

Then there was The Hold Steady. I'm not the biggest HS fan, but after seeing this show, I'm going to have to go back and revisit their records. The energy was ridiculous, and fists pumped vigorously. Craig Finn even said something like, 'I'll take fist pumping over that hippie dance any day.' It's called noodling, Craig, and yes, fist pumping is way better.

While they may have not been as out-and-out fun as The Hold Steady, Spoon rocked just as hard, and let's face it, they're something of a more cerebral, less fist pumping experience anyway. Britt Daniel cemented his place in my mind as one of the best frontmen around today. With his unique voice and terrific stage presence, you just can't take your eyes off him. Oh, and he plays a mean guitar too.

Later on last night, I was treated to the absolute most fun available on the planet. Girl Talk. (Pictured above.) I couldn't believe the amount of kids who came to the Girl Talk tent, but boy, they came to dance. Greg Gillis had a whole slew of kids that he brought on stage with him, complete with confetti, streamers, and such. I still can't get over how much fun it was.

Oh yeah, and I saw The Police. Meh.


Bonnaroo 1 :: The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Hey there, Rocketeers! I'm coming to you live from some kinda shady hotel outside of Manchester, TN. Population - Bonnaroo. Seriously, there's nothing around here except for Bonnaroo. Although there's a hot dog stand called The Dog House across the street that is calling my name. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get back to the hotel to blog Thursday night after seeing the mind-blowing, change-your-life, other-praise-I-can-hyphenate National show.

I'll probably write more about the show later on, but for now I'll just say that as soon as the show ended, two girls in front of me started making out, and I thought to myself, 'Wow, one of the best shows I've seen in years followed by two girls making out right in front of me. Perhaps I can die happy now?' This elated feeling managed to stick with me for the next three and a half hours wherein my cell phone died, I was separated from my ride to the hotel, wandered around looking for some friends who were staying on grounds, and then finally had to borrow a few different strangers' cell phones before getting in touch with them and sleeping in their RV. And all my friends thought I was dead. But seriously, the show was so damn good that I didn't care one bit.

I have to get back to the festival soon, so I'll just tell you what I've seen so far, and you can email me or comment about who you want to hear about. The list thusfar: The National, Cold War Kids, Kings of Leon, two or three songs of Hot Chip, Lily Allen (wasted!), and David Cross with Aziz Ansari and Nick Kroll.

Oh, and I also had fried alligator, which tasted like chicken but with the consistency of fried clam. Which is exactly what I would have expected if you had asked me beforehand what alligator might taste like. Anyway, before I head back out into the dust bowl, I leave you with some words from The National that I think sum up my experience so far.

Falling out of touch with all my / Friends are somewhere getting wasted / Hope they're staying glued together / I have arms for them.

Post written at 11:30 AM Saturday, but the wi-fi signal I picked up for a minute died.


Tube :: Günther :: Suntrip

Well, I'm off early tomorrow for Bonnaroo. I'm hoping to make it in time to see The National, and it's all downhill from there. I kid - I'm actually looking forward to a bunch of bands, and hopefully there will be some nice surprises along the way as well. I'm going to try and do some reviews and updates there, hopefully including some pictures as well. (This all depends on how drunk/dehydrated/tired I am at the end of the day.) So either expect some very nice show reviews or the ramblings of a pretentious music critic/drunk. Either way - entertaining!

Not having done a festival like this since I was in high school, I'm a little worried about overexposure to the summer sun. But then I saw this brand new video by Günther and The Sunshine Girls, and now I know that overexposure is exactly what you want when you're on a suntrip.

Bonus! More summer fun with Günther!


New Noise :: Roddy Woomble :: My Secret Is My Silence

While the latest offerings from Idlewild aren't quite living up to expectations, Idlewild frontman Roddy 'I swear I'm going to try and get through this post without talking about his name' Woomble seems to be doing pretty well on his own. Ditching the post-grunge for some Scottish folk balladry, Woomble seems to have found his center again. His new album My Secret Is My Silence (released last summer in Britain, out July 10th stateside) sharpens his focus to bring him back to dealing with his angst about growing up Scottish. This is especially apparent on the title track as is the fact that Woomble did a great job picking Kate Rusby for vocal accompaniment this outing.

Roddy Woomble My Secret Is My Silence

Hear more on Woomble's myspace page. And pre-order My Secret Is My Silence here.


Stay In! :: 06.08.07

Stay In! is indierocket's occasional compilation of what some of the blogs we read are posting.

• Sure, this Good Hodgkins post is old as hell, but anything that involves duets between the Tug-loved Final Fantasy and the me-loved Cadence Weapon is worth repeating.

Can you see the sunset from the southside? has mp3s of The Dismemberment Plan's two-night reunion stand at The Black Cat. Witty banter from Travis Morrison! Excellent versions of "The Ice of Boston!" Woo! (night one) (night two)

Hypebot has been following the Apple DRM-free issue very well.

• And over at Daytrotter, they posted a session with Tug-and-Pat-loved Bishop Allen.


The Word :: The National :: Boxer

So we might be a little behind on getting this review out there. People have been blogging about Boxer since it leaked a couple months back. (The best review we've read being Chromewaves', and if you head to his front page right now, you can read his review of their recent live show.) So here's our attempt at getting all you IndieRocketeers out there to pick up what is certain to be one of the year's best.

The National’s 2005 album Alligator was something of a sleeper hit — released to some critical success, it wasn’t until a year later when the video for the anthemic shout-fest 'Abel' hit airwaves that people began to take notice and — as is customary these days — create ridiculous expectations for the follow-up. While some folks have been let down by the absence of angst-drenched throat-rippers like 'Abel,' they are missing out on what can only be described as a musical revelation. Boxer finds singer/songwriter Matt Berninger delivering the same dark poetics we’ve come to expect but with a decidedly more wistful slant.

In album opener 'Fake Empire,' his smoke-filled baritone reminisces about a more quixotic time of 'picking apples / making pies,' but the illusion is shattered with the following line: 'We’re half-awake in a fake empire.' The rest of the album contains similar bittersweet reflections, painting the picture of a gin-soaked almost-ran looking through rose-colored glasses at how his life used to be, only to snatch the glasses off and see the harsh neon haze that his life has become. It’s an album for anyone who has ever sat alone at a bar with beer in hand and regret in pocket.

While this all sounds very dour, there is a hint of hope around the edges and an acknowledgment of the age-old adage that it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. No review of this album would be complete without mentioning drummer Bryan Devendorf, who taps out intricate rhythms with uncanny precision, providing the backbone for the body of music created by the rest of the band, making the sparsest track seem huge and looming. It’s a perfect foil for Berninger’s lyrical passion and cements the album as the masterpiece it is.

4.5 of 5.0

The National Fake Empire

The National also recently appeared on AOL's The Interface. Check it out. There's a free live French radio session up at The Rawking Refuses To Stop that you need to own. And if you missed The National's awesome Blogotheque video, we've got you covered. Whew. We're a bit obsessed. Does it show?

You can buy Boxer and other National music here.

Get Out! :: Gamenight @ New Brookland Tavern :: 06.07.07

Gamenight, Mouth Movements :: New Brookland Tavern :: 8 p.m.
Your indierocketeers have espoused the tenets of emo-math wizards Gamenight before, but we feel compelled to do so again. The Knoxville quartet cites twothirtyeight, Hey Mercedes, Mock Orange and Park as influences, but we like to simply describe them as the pitch-perfect child of Braid and Drive Like Jehu. Driving, athletic drumwork; nimble yet assertive guitars; and fluid, melodic basslines - what's not to like? Continuing the metaphor, Knoxville-brethren tourmates Mouth Movements sounds like the bastard child of Cave In (circa Jupiter) and Shiner, making for some damn fine atmospheric post-hardcore. Locals This Machine is Me open, and fellow locals Foxes that Fight headline. Damage: $5 ($7 without a good fake ID).


The Word :: Battles :: Mirrored

To most, the words 'math rock' are an immediate turnoff. 'Math' was that ambiguously named and highly boring class you took in middle school, and to mix it with 'rock,' a genre that’s produced such songs as 'School’s Out,' is just too dichotomous for most people. However, even before Lou Reed decided to go a little nuts on us with Metal Machine Music, artists have been trying to perfectly blur the lines between man, machine and music. And with the release of Mirrored, Battles might have accomplished just that. A band comprised almost entirely of multi-instrumentalists, Battles’ set-up is a cacophony of guitars, computers, keyboards and miles of tangled Firewire cables. And then there’s John Stanier’s drum kit, which looks somewhat out of place among all the electronics, but therein lies the beauty of Battles. As otherworldly and machinist as the music sounds, it’s all played in real time. Stanier is actually pumping out those ludicrously complex rhythms in precision-perfect timing with the looped guitars and programmed bleeps and whistles.

Further blurring the lines is the addition of Tyondai Braxton’s vocals, something of a contention for old fans but an integral part of the band’s purpose. Electronically processed, shifted and looped, Braxton’s voice becomes something post-human — a stream of grunts, breaths and indiscernible, crooning babble, ameliorating the group’s avant-pop. I would hesitate to say that Battles is one of the best bands out there right now, but that’s only because I’m uncertain of whether it even could be considered a 'band' anymore. The players are merely extensions of their instruments and equipment, which in turn are being directed by the music itself. Never has something so electronic sounded so naturally organic. This is the future of music, but thanks to Battles, it’s happening right now.

4.8 of 5.0

Battles Atlas (Video Cut)


Huh? :: Bionic Thrills :: Working Man

Warning. Odd post follows.

So last night, I had a dream where I was traveling Europe with a completely random group of friends. We were waiting for a train somewhere in Liverpool, and there was a full rock band set up right there in the station. Looking like typical Britpop hipsters, I remember leaning over to a friend of mine and saying, 'That lead singer looks just like Richard Ashcroft, but ten years younger.' The band was called Bionic Thrills, and while one would think that that name would imply some electronic beats or something, they were actually a straight-up indie rock band. They launched into a song called 'Working Man' that was absolutely mind-blowing. So much so that once they finished, all my friends rushed to buy a copy of the single. The band hadn't unpacked their merch yet, so we helped them dig through their equipment to find the CDs, which we then happily bought for five pounds each. When I woke up this morning, I couldn't wait to grab the CD and listen to it over and over for the entire day. But then I remembered it was a dream, and I was sorely disappointed.