Archive for the 'Music' Category

Lightspeed Champion

March 14, 2008

Absolutely fabulous set by Lightspeed Champion on the All Songs Considered web site. Evidently playing in a public park in Austin, amazing how good they sound. This is the most interesting new band I’ve heard in the last year, and they don’t disappoint here.

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Oxford, by Peel

March 12, 2008

The SXSW music showcase has the wonderful song Oxford by the group Peel. I liked this song so much I bought the whole album, and was then a bit disappointed that the other songs weren’t as good as this one. But that doesn’t diminish what is a fun, infectious song that you should definitely check out.

Chris Bathgate – Serpentine

March 10, 2008

Very pretty song: Chris Bathgate singing Serpentine, another song from the 2008 SXSW Music Showcase.

All Songs Considered SXSW Show

March 7, 2008

The All Songs Considered episode this week discusses the 2008 SXSW Bands. Host Bob Boilen is joined by Sleater-Kinney guitarist Carrie Brownstein and music producer Stephen Thompson about their favorite acts.

Fanfarlo – Fire Escape

March 6, 2008

Haven’t heard of the band Fanfarlo before, but found the song Fire Escape on the 2008 SXSW Music Showcase Pages, and I really like the sound. Professional and polished, with a hint of David Byrne in the singer’s voice. Good stuff.

south by southwest MP3 list online

February 23, 2008

One of the great sources of free music by major acts, the south by southwest festivals MP3 archive is now online. Haven’t started mining the site for new music, but if I find anything good, I’ll post a link here.

Happy Valentine’s Day: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine’s Day from Feeding The Snake. Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite love songs, In the Aeroplane Over The Sea, by Neutral Milk Hotel.

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all round the sun
What a beautiful dream
That could flash on the screen
In a blink of an eye and be gone from me
Soft and sweet
Let me hold it close and keep it here with me

And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see
Love to be
In the arms of all I'm keeping here with me

Anna's ghost all around
Hear her voice as it's rolling and ringing through me
Soft and sweet
How the notes all bend and reach above the trees   

Now how I remember you
How I would push my fingers through
Your mouth to make those muscles move
That made your voice so smooth and sweet
And now we keep where we don't know
All secrets sleep in winter clothes
With one you loved so long ago
Now he don't even know his name 

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all round the sun
And when we meet on a cloud
I'll be laughing out loud
I'll be laughing with everyone I see
Can't believe how strange it is to be anything at all

Dan Zanes and the Future of Music

February 7, 2008

In the 70’s, Jon Landau famously said: “I saw rock ‘n’ roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” It’s a great quote, and justified to some extent by the impact Bruce Springsteen had on 70’s and 80’s rock.

I saw something spectacular last night. I don’t know whether it was the future of music, but I had never seen anything like it, and I loved it.

My 5 year old’s favorite musician is Dan Zanes, former member of the Del Fuegos, now a kindie rocker, meaning that he makes music ostensibly for kids, but that aging hipster parents like myself can enjoy as well. Zanes’s music is terrific, and we’ve listened to his CD’s literally hundreds of times. Zanes also collaborates with some pretty cool people, Natalie Merchant, Philip Glass, Bob Weir, and the like. I really like everything he does, but I had never seen him play live until last night.

There is something special about a small auditorium filled with young children. It was late enough at night that they were excited about the impending show, but not totally unruly, perhaps because, at 6:30pm, it was getting to be bed time for many of them. When Zanes came on the kids started dancing with each other, with their parents, with themselves. Everyone sang along, everyone knew the words, since, like us, they had listened to the CDs over and over again.

There was one special moment when Zanes encouraged everyone to make a conga line (he called it a Train, since it was during the song Catch That Train), and dance up on stage. My wife and son were the first ones up on stage. I stayed back with the bags and coats. I just sat and watched the beautiful, touching spectacle of a really talented group of musicians, playing really, really well, surrounded by dancing children and their parents.

Maybe this isn’t the future of rock ‘n’ roll, but I think it’s a new development. There’s a part of me that is sad that rock isn’t about rebellion necessarily anymore, but there’s also something great about music that can unite rather than divide young families. There was energy and excitement and hope in the air. I’ve seen many great concerts over the years, but I don’t think any will stand out in my mind like last nights concert by Zanes.

Beulah and Marah: The Best Bands You’ve Never Heard Of

January 30, 2008

I was thinking again of an NYTimes op-end piece I read years ago by Nick Hornby (yeah, him, the About a Boy guy) called Rock of Ages. Hornby writes about hearing Marah play a spectacular show in a pub in Kent, England, and then having to pass a hat around to help defray costs. Hornby muses about what success in the Rock world means, particularly in light of the fact that after one great album after another, Marah is still not a hit success.

The article had a huge effect on me, and launched me into my current obsession with alternative, indie music, the smaller the better. I downloaded a few songs (demos of East and Feather Boa) that Marah had provided on their websites (something that “unsuccessful” bands have to do), and realized that these songs were better than just about anything I had seen the mainstream music industry promote in years. If they weren’t telling me about bands like Marah, who else weren’t they telling me about?

At this point it’s also worth pointing out that Marah isn’t some edgy band that has a sound you have to listen to a million times before you appreciate it (*cough* Neutral Milk Hotel *cough*). Marah has as much of a mainstream, classic rock sound as any band I’ve heard. Replace Springsteen’s Jersey with Philly and you’ve got Marah. Yet I had never heard of them, much less listened to them.

I happen to like Neutral Milk Hotel, by the way, but I understand how the major labels might have a hard time promoting him. But Marah? Who can’t sell Marah.

In a classic article in Salon, Courtney Love Did The Math behind the music industry, showing that a system that I had always assumed was promoting artists was really only propping up an archaic croneyed system of music publishers. The invisible hand wasn’t working in this case, for whatever reason.

The intervening years have been filled with a great deal of great music, almost none of it mainstream, or, at least, none of it made its breakthrough on a mainstream label. Another band that is worth mentioning in the same breath with Marah is Beulah. Beulah was one of the bands from the legendary Elephant 6 Collective (that also produced Neutral Milk, BTW). Put out some spectacular albums, most notably When Your Heartstrings Break, but never hit it big, and ultimately broke up a few years ago. Ultimately because no one in the music industry could find a way to sell Heartstrings, whereas they could find a way of selling the crap out of Britney or whoever.

Marah has a new album out, Angels of Destruction. Haven’t heard anything more than a track off the album yet, but it sounds like the typically great stuff from them. I’m going to make a point of buying the album as soon as possible. Maybe my sale will be the one to finally put Marah into the mainstream.

Wilco – Sky Blue Sky

January 28, 2008

It’s been a long time since the lyrics on an album grabbed me. Mostly what I look for in a record is catchy hooks, energy, a good pop sense, and something of an edge. I think I feel that I’m too old to get a meaningful message out of music. Gone are the days of listing to Exile on Main Street over and over again, or thinking that some hidden message in Pink Floyd or even Elvis Costello will give me direction in life.

This is why Wilco’s latest album, Sky Blue Sky, hit me like a bolt from the, well, Sky Blue Sky. Doubly so, perhaps, since I had first decided that I didn’t like Wilco (don’t know when I decided this, or what led me to this conclusion), and then I had heard somewhere that their latest album was bad. But then I was listening to All Songs Considered annual listeners pick the year’s best episode, and the Wilco song Hate It Here hit me.

Bought the album and spent the weekend with it. This is a very good album, although I wouldn’t say it’s a classic. But the lyrics and music are put together with thought and sensitivity, and it’s moving and creative.