31 January 2007

Don't You (Forget About Me)

Boy, this list is long overdue. The following list covers all of the artists/bands featured on EAR FARM (since the last time one of these was posted) through the end of January 2007. This excludes the weekly features (such as Three For Free, 8+) and is more about bands that have gotten a band-specific write-up on EF. The quotes are from EAR FARM write-ups about the band and should help give you a mini-notion of what each artist is all about and should also clue you in as to why they've been featured on this site. Click the (+) to visit a previous EF posting about any of these bands and click the band name to go to their site.

New York based bands:
Bell (+) - has this beautiful warm lilt in the way she sings that seems to cut right through the darkness of a venue as if she's singing just for you
Butch & Bellie (+) - obviously absorbed the work of early Beastie Boys, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, and Slick Rick and they know the importance of fixing their rhymes and beats up all perfectly so as to inspire smiles and dancing
Foreign Islands (+) - I can't tell you how refreshing it was to see a band put the balls back into a rock performance
Lismore (+) - a sound more cold in nature...winter-pop. Yeah, that's the ticket. Beautiful winter-pop.
Seasick (+) - an entrancing intensity that's equal parts spooky and alluring
Taigaa (+) - the kind of music that awakens your own creativity and reminds you of the endless wonders you witnessed to the first time you entered the woods as a child
Thieves Like Us (+) - I felt as if I was in Manchester in 1982 seeing an up and coming new wave band blossom before my eyes
Vampire Weekend (+) - a certain carefree take on songcraft you're not likely to find just growing on trees...smart pop

Bands from elsewhere:
Big Love Hospital (+) - is what happens when The Evangelicals, Cheyenne, Ryan Lindsey and friends get together to write and record tribute albums to American holidays
Jake Brennan (+) - something like Nebraska era Bruce Springsteen, or Back to Basics Billy Bragg, but with a rockabilly slant
Can Joann (+) - they sound like a band who grew up listening to those early '90s NC bands and are simply putting their own spin on the Chapel Hill sound
Erie Choir (+) - from country infused pop-rock to detached intelli-pop along the lines of the work of Stephin Merritt
A Great White Bird (+) - rather perfect background music for the grey skies and bossless Monday-induced trance that's going on over here at my office
Scott Phillips (+) - at one point he played these songs in succession: "I Won't Share You", "But Not Tonight", and "The Saturday Boy"...that's The Smiths, Depeche Mode, and Billy Bragg... back to back to back
Read Yellow (+) - annihilated the implied barrier between themselves and the audience and moved from mellow moments to all out rocking with ease...pure energy
Those Damn Twins (+) - fans of Magnetic Fields, Mazzy Star, and that sense of adventure that drove bands like Cabaret Voltaire, will find much to like in the music of Those Damn Twins

To see the entire list of bands/artists that have been featured on EAR FARM click HERE.

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30 January 2007

Three For Free - Bright Eyes, Menomena, and Panda Bear

EAR FARM's Three for Free: free and legal MP3s. This week, three from artists sure to be enjoying success with their '07 releases. Will Panda Bear end up on EAR FARM's year end top album list?? Oh the eleven months of suspense. Click on the artist name to go to their site, click on the song name to listen to the song.

Listen:
Bright Eyes - "Tourist Trap"

Listen:
Menomena - "Wet and Rusting"

Listen:
Panda Bear - “Comfy in Nautica”

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Contrast Podcast #44

There's a HOT new Contrast Podcast this week with an adult theme you're sure to enjoy. Ever wondered what I might sound like if I were a creepy dude trying to be sexy by playing Madonna's most ridiculous attempt at sexual metaphor? You have? You're weird. But also, in luck. Go check out Contrast Podcast #44. The theme is "X-rated".

You can download Contrast Podcast #44 HERE.

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Today's NEW releases

Today's interesting releases:

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29 January 2007

The Muggabears, Mancino @ Mercury Lounge - 27 January 2007

Saturday night at Mercury Lounge featured two up and coming three-piece bands from Brooklyn. Both played sets made up of mostly new music, both are getting more media attention and fans by the day, and both bands had really fantastic shows.

The Muggabears
The Muggabears got started early with folks still arriving as they closed out their set. For everyone who missed them - way to scrrrrrrew it up for yourself. It was one of their best performances and the sound was fantastic. I'm already anxious to see them play songs from Night Choreography again. Listen to one below. Watch a video from the show as well (note: the sound is pretty bad given my location in between the speakers and the stage monitors) and read an Ear Farm review of their soon to be released EP Night Choreography HERE.

Listen:
"Dead Kid Kicks"

Watch:
"Now I've Got A Sword" (QT) | "Now I've Got A Sword" (YouTube)

Visit The Muggabears on MySpace.

The Muggabears Live:
16 February @ Union Hall
17 February @ The Delancey
2 March @ Sin-é

*see more pictures of The Muggabears (from this show and others) HERE

Mancino
Mancino was playing an album release show and there was quite a great turnout for it. Good for all of those people because the band played what I'd say was probably their best show to date (and I've seen a few). They nailed the new songs from Manners Matter, worked in an excellent version of "Babel By The Mouthful", and got four fine ladies in the front row dancing to "Hetchie Hutchie Footchie" at the end of their set. As well, they added a second guitarist (Taylor Watson) on their final three songs which rounded out their sound rather nicely. Once again, the Mercury Lounge sound was fantastic. Watch a video of the band playing a song from their soon to be released LP Manners Matter below (note: the sound is again pretty bad given my location in between the speakers and the stage monitors) and read an Ear Farm review of the album HERE.

Listen:
"Hetchie Hutchie Footchie"

Watch:
"Buy My Product" (QT) | "Buy My Product" (YouTube)

Visit Mancino on MySpace.

Mancino Live:
16 February @ Pianos
1 March @ Mercury Lounge

*see more pictures of Mancino (from this show and others) HERE

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snip·pets

Pretty Girls Make Graves Split

First Person: Auditioning for 'Idol'

New Shins album prompts return of midnight sales

Baseball video game features Nirvana, the Stooges, Pixies, Tapes 'n Tapes, and more

Rolling Stones top US music rich

BBC: Reunion fever sweeps rock world

iRiver Intros New Widescreen Portable Media Player

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26 January 2007

Mancino - Manners Matter

In 1502 Leonardo da Vinci produced a sketch for a project that was meant to construct a bridge to span the Golden Horn. The proposed bridge (which would've been the longest in the world at the time) was considered too ambitious and thus was not built. However, five hundred years later Leonardo's design was brought to life by The Leonardo Bridge Project when a smaller bridge based on his design was constructed in Norway. Now his full original vision is set to be realized as there are plans currently underway to build an exact copy of da Vinci's bridge to span the Golden Horn. Ambition at first deflected, now the world has finally caught up.

The poorly related cautionary tale above relays one possible outcome after Mancino releases their debut LP Manners Matter on the 30th of January. Am I saying that this album is the band's overly-ambitious attempt to come up with a plan for a bridge to span the Gowanus Canal? No. Forget about the bridge for a second. The fact is, this is not the kind of music you see regularly bandied about on the hot music sites. There's no "tangible" buzz behind this band and they're without a derivative kill-your-brain-cells Hype Machine hit. Yes, these are the times we live in. An era of unsigned bands becoming megastars on the merit of two songs built upon 4 distinct chords jammed out in 4/4 with a tiny measure of enthusiasm. Fans of music are too busy looking over their shoulder to validate their own "taste", too busy voraciously consuming and disposing MP3s, to know how to create their own unique roster of favorites. Kill your idols, revive those brains cells, there's more to life than keeping up with Pitchfork and music bloggers.

Mancino knows this and Manners Matter is living proof. On this record, three young men from Brooklyn have crafted a singular sound with definitive artistic vision. The opening song, "Circus Scabs", tickles the palate the way a well-set amuse bouche does. It hints at a nouveau Beach Boys aesthetic that shows up again (on the Beach Boys meets Beatles "People We Meet") and again (in the final song, the Guy Viseur meets Beach Boys "Motels") on the album and immediately offers a taste of what the band is up to in terms of production, adventurous songwriting, and lyrical sense. Then, without warning, comes a dance classic. "Hetchie Hutchie Footchie" revives all of everything you would have loved about '60s dance music, if only you'd been around then. There are words for you to latch on to (relate to) and sing along with; and, best of all, it hustles and grooves and gets the feet moving. Likewise, track four, "The Anvil and Me", is another catchy song that might see radio success as a single in another era. From there, "Definition of an Accident" offers clues to the kind of music that has influenced all three members of the band. The track is an amalgam of classical, jazz, and rock experimentation that builds into a whirlwind and then "falls to pieces" handsomely. From this end "Five Blades" rises like an autumnal late-night beach party phoenix. Not a real thing, no, but it could be.

What will surely be side two if Manners Matter is ever pressed to vinyl begins with the best song on the album, "L'amour (or Less)". It's an almost guaranteed love at first listen kind of song. As well, it's at this point that Mancino's debut LP really comes into its own. The sequence of tracks 7-11 offers highlight after highlight with standout moments in each and every song. Throughout the album, and most notably during this second half, there's a sense of what drives obsessive studio wizards like Steely Dan and XTC and the production work done by keyboardist/backup vocalist Nadim Issa is a wonder to behold.

When matched with the right amounts of luck and timing, ambition can drive men towards greatness and an ambitious creative force is one thing Mancino's got in abundance. What remains to be seen is if Manners Matter will in fact take the band across the Gowanus and into the hearts, minds, and ears of people around the world. With such a solidly defined debut album, and the song "Buy My Product" providing the best suggestion of where this band might be heading in the future, an increasing fan base would appear to be a certainty. Buy this product*.

Listen:
"Hetchie Hutchie Footchie"
"L'amour (or Less)"

Watch:
"Hetchie Hutchie Footchie" music video

Visit Mancino on MySpace.

Mancino Live:
27 January @ Mercury Lounge
16 February @ Pianos
1 March @ Mercury Lounge

*you techinically can't yet buy the product** but on Tuesday you will be able to at CD Baby and the iTunes store.

**Mancino is playing a Manners Matter album release show tomorrow at Mercury Lounge with The Muggabears and Hymns - buy the album there too!

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25 January 2007

8+

"Look Away" by Deerhoof which clocks in at 11:45

Note to self: after dodging many opportunities to listen to advance copies of Friend Opportunity, don't forget the feeling from yesterday when you first heard the album in its entirety. As of this moment you think it's going to be one of the best albums of the year. January releases often fade into the forgotten realm come list season but this record will surely deserve at least top ten status after all of 2007 is heard and done, no? Let's revisit in December and see what's what. For now, let's talk about this one song.

To examine Deerhoof's song "Look Away" I'd like to take a look at what others are saying about it and then offer you a chance to tell us your own opinion on the song. Yeah?

  • Tiny Mix Tapes notes "the disheveled mid-section of the shambling 12-minute closer"
  • PopMatters says the song has "a horror show for a middle section in which everything collides"
  • Prefix calls it a "clusterfuck"
  • Pitchfork says "it's just an appendix"
  • Allmusic calls it "an 11-minute suite-like piece"
  • CokemachineGlow says that "Look Away" "almost redeems what minor faults I find with the rest of the album"
  • Stylus calls the song a "seemingly aimless atonal dirge"
My own opinion tends more towards that of Allmusic in that I find "Look Away" to be rather symphonic. Almost an overture/symphonic poem of sorts. There is, however, no denying where the track lands on the album. Perhaps that this song is the final song on Friend Opportunity, coupled with the title of the song, means that the band is telling us listeners not to bother. Or maybe it's the best 11.75 minutes of music so far released in 2007.

"Look Away", yes or no?

Buy Friend Opportunity HERE on Amazon.

EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
Tan Dun - "Symphony 1997: II. Earth (Yi3)"
Jane's Addiction - "Three Days"
Joanna Newsom - "Monkey & Bear"
Depeche Mode - "Never Let Me Down Again" (Split Mix)
This Mortal Coil - "Dreams Are Like Water"
The Church - “Chaos"
Alex Skolnick Trio - “War Pigs"
Arlo Guthrie - “Alice's Restaurant Massacre"

To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.

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OPP

Brooklyn Vegan has pics from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah @ Mercury Lounge last night

Heartonastick completed the The 2006 Music Bloggregate

Information Leafblower tells us that James is reuniting

Motel De Moka has some classic '70s porn music

Nerd Litter - Behind the blog: Music Is Art

Thepunkguy has some harder to find Menomena songs

Eric from Marathonpacks had his first review appear on Pitchfork today

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24 January 2007

The Muggabears - Night Choreography

It's a rare thing for a young band to pursue making a record that appears to shift the direction of their sound away from that which their growing fan base has started falling in love with, but that's precisely what The Muggabears have done with their brand new seven song EP Night Choreography. Recorded in 7 days (starting New Years Day) at Headgear Recording by Dan Long (the same guy who recorded their previous EP Teenage Cop), Night Choreography is a glimpse into the dark side of what makes The Muggabears tick. It's a glorious twenty four and a half minutes of guitar rock madness, sadness, paranoia, and joy that calls out to early '90s indie-rock influences while somehow sounding exactly like January 2007.

Night Choreography begins with a splash. The tight wham bam thank you Mugga of "We Were Priests" almost belies what you're going to hear in the remaining six songs. Almost. It's at once the kind of song I'd expect from The Muggabears but then also is a song that hints at something new and different beneath the surface. An invitation. With swirling guitars begging you downward "We Were Priests" stands as a signpost marking the start of the descent into the night. A point of no return. By the time the vocals kick in on track two (the outstanding "The Goth Tarts") it's far too late. You're in The Muggabears' world now.

"Automatic Others" revisits familiar Sonic Youth territory and, with its tribal fills and guitar rocking, is a song I could see many people liking a lot. In fact, I'd not be surprised if it later turns out to be a favorite of mine from this record but for now it's merely a bridge to the revival twang of track four, "Dead Kid Kicks". With a bit of a Cinerama/Wedding Present sound to the song, and with the continued Bonham fills and the building and collapsing riffs, it should come as no surprise that "Dead Kid Kicks" is the first song from Night Choreography that really grabbed me. It's the heart of Night Choreography and is a song that should win the band even more new fans.

The second half of the EP features three more tracks of the darker Muggabear variety. From the Bizarro Bacharach moments of "Rings" to the climactic haunting thrash of "Now I've Got A Sword", Night Choreography finds The Muggabears constructing a sonic world imminently ready for the dissonant slow collapse of "She-Bears". It's a rather choice* ending to the record and the EP should make a rather choice addition to your music collection when it comes out in late March/early April. Until then you're going to have no choice but to see The Muggabears live** if you'd like to hear these new songs.

Listen:
"We Were Priests"
"Dead Kid Kicks"

Visit The Muggabears on MySpace.

The Muggabears Live:
27 January @ Mercury Lounge
16 February @ Union Hall
17 February @ The Delancey
2 March @ Sin-é

*choice: a slang word almost made very popular in the '80s by Ferris Bueller. almost. I think it's time to give the word a second chance. yeah? choice.
**you should NOT miss the chance to see The Muggabears this Saturday night at Mercury Lounge. it's going to be SO choice.

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23 January 2007

Three For Free - Kristin Hersh, Arboretum, Radicalfashion

EAR FARM's Three for Free: free and legal MP3s. Click on the artist name to go to their site, click on the song name to listen to the song.

Listen:
Kristin Hersh - "Snake Oil"

Listen:
Arboretum - "Pale Rider Cup"

Listen:
Radicalfashion - “Shousetsu”

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Hot Rocks '60s Dance Party!

The inaugural Hot Rocks '50s/'60s Dance Party is happening tonight at The Delancey:

HOT ROCKS! is a new monthly 1950s/1960s-themed dance party that features DJs spinning a mix of obscure and popular surf, garage, oldies, and British Invasion rock by bands including the Stones, Sonics, Kinks, Dick Dale, MC5, The Who, Animals, Chuck Berry, Zombies, Del Shannon, Buddy Holly, Ronettes, Nancy Sinatra, Beatles, Beach Boys, Crystals, Turtles, Yardbirds, Shocking Blue, and more.

The inaugural event will take place in The Delancey’s basement space on Tuesday, January 23rd, beginning at 8pm. The Delancey is located at 168 Delancey St. (between Clinton and Attorney; J to Essex or F to Delancey), NY, NY (212-254-9920). $3 at the door; $3 PBRs + drink specials all night. 21+. Expect retro snacks and a lava lamp! 1950s/1960s attire encouraged, but not required.
Far out. Sounds like it's going to be a gas.

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Arcade Fire live @ St. Michel Church in Montreal - 20 January 2007

I wasn't there, you weren't either, but lets not that let that stop us from hearing this show. Download Arcade Fire's show from St. Michel Church in Montreal on the 20th of January 2007 by going HERE.

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Today's NEW releases

The first interesting release day of 2007:

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19 January 2007

Goes Cube - Beckon the Dagger God

File this under rhetorical, I suppose, but don't you guys ever get sick of reading about the same old bullshit day after day, week after week? I don't mean here, because here you are (again), I mean elsewhere. Things like "Hot new DJ X mashed up freak folk artist Y with slick indie hip hop group Z and he called it 'XYZ'! Woo! I love it even more than yesterday's new hotness!" Can you tell that we're entering that typical mid to late decade rut (populated by bands like Winger and Extreme in the '80s, Marcy Playground and Everclear in the '90s) where everything starts to sound derivatively similar? Doesn't it seem as though someone shaved the hair off of indie-rock's collective chest?

On the second day of 2007 Goes Cube drew a line in the sand. On that day the Brooklyn trio (Kenny Appell on drums, Matthew Frey on bass, David Obuchowski on guitar and vocals) released their eardrum crunchingly perfect EP Beckon the Dagger God, and with it revived hope that angst delivered via punishing guitars is an art form that will never disappear. Where have you gone Hüsker Dü, Nirvana, and Fugazi?

Beckon the Dagger God, featuring cover art done by Nick Brown and production by Dean Baltulonis (of Foreign Islands), is a nearly flawless 28 minutes of white knuckled shredding. From the moment the first song ("Goes Cube Song 30") begins you're left with no choice but to give in to the whirlwind tornado power of Goes Cube. The song writing, effort, and production on this one song are so carefully pushed right to the edge I'd almost be content if it were all this band ever released. Almost. Thankfully the power of the Dagger God's undertow calls for you to ride the understated melody of "Goes Cube Song 35" until the band is back in full-on Army boot stomp mode. It's a metal infused twist on grunge's tried and true loud/quiet/loud formula that Goes Cube manages to make sound entirely their own and it's a collection of songs I simply can not stop listening to.

There's not a misstep on the entire record. The emotive screaming of "Goes Cube Song 37" almost gives me chills everytime I hear it. The changes in "Goes Cube Song 34" provide aural rest stops until, around the 4:32 mark, the band hammers the pedal to the floor. From this point the record becomes a three song suite with elements of math rock tossed into the already potent metal/thrash/grunge/rock mix. Not since I first heard Tool have I be so interested in the music I was hearing as it actively damaged my ears. If I were to offer one simple complaint it'd be that this isn't a twelve song album of Goes Cube goodness.

Beckon the Dagger God is loud, fearless, angry, and happy to destroy anything in its path. Just exactly what you wish you were, which is why I suggest you pick up a copy to listen to as you drive/walk/ride around each day in hushed frustration. Call out to the Dagger God to give you the power of a thousand bands. Beckon the Dagger God to give you the power of Goes Cube.

Listen:
"Goes Cube Song 37"

Buy Beckon the Dagger God HERE.

Visit Goes Cube on MySpace.

***Final Fantasy and Beirut listeners beware - there's more to life than books and when you're ready to leave the safety of your bedroom I dare you...I DARE you to see a Goes Cube show***

Goes Cube Live:
20 January @ Mercury Lounge
15 February @ Southpaw
2 March @ Pianos

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18 January 2007

8+

"Symphony 1997: II. Earth (Yi3)" by Tan Dun (performed by Yo-Yo Ma and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra) which clocks in at 9:34

Here's the way I see it: I lost half of you when you didn't recognize the song or artist and I'll be losing another 45% when you realize that this is East meets West classical music. Therefore, let's get that out of the way from the beginning. Go away leeches, you won't like this.

Still here? Alrighty then, here's the plan. First, a bit about the composer. Then, about my personal experience with his work. Lastly, some information about the song you see posted here. The song you hear posted here. The song you may have noticed is posted here, which you may already be listening to, and/or might be hearing at some point in the near future.

Tan Dun is a Chinese composer most widely known for his Academy Award winning work on the score for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (as well as Hero) but his artistic output extends far beyond the realm of film. He has written four operas, ten concertos, many other classical pieces (full list HERE) and is hailed by many as one of the top composers alive today. His music has always been firmly rooted in the tradition of his home land while also reaching towards a unique connection between Eastern and Western sounds and musical theory. At least, that's what the late Toru Takemitsu thought:

"The vibrant presence of both East and West within him has created a unique sound world, always personal, always authentic. Every part of Tan Dun's music is violent as a burst of human blood, yet full of grace, a voice of the soul. I believe he is one of the most outstanding composers today."
This past Saturday I was one of the fortunate folks in attendance at the matinee performance of Tan Dun's most recent operatic composition, The First Emperor. Now, I dabble in classical music, ballet, and opera from time to time but by no stretch of the imagination am I someone who should be allowed to expound on the topic. I get most of my live music from tiny dark clubs and theaters downtown, and in Brooklyn, not at the Metropolitan Opera. I'm just a simple self-obsessed snark mongerer with pretty stock tastes in indie rock - I couldn't really speak about how impressive I found The First Emperor to be (at times), how amazing the sets and costumes were (photo above of the set from HERE), how dreadful the vocal melodies were, how impressive the voice of the lead actor was to hear in person... Nay! The high society world of operas starring Placido Domingo frightens and confuses me! Sometimes the honking horns of uptown traffic make me want to stop listening to "Chips Ahoy!", take off my iPod, and run off into Williamsburg, or wherever. Sometimes when I hear classical music I wonder: "Did little demons make this music just to put me to sleep?" I don't know! My primitive mind can't grasp these concepts. I'm just a black concert tee and jeans guy. A musical caveman. Therefore, I'll abstain from telling you anything else about how my experience seeing The First Emperor existed in two dimensions (one of fascinated wonder and one of battling the impulse to nod off) and instead I'll suggest you read the review from The NY Times.

Now. What we've got here is failure to elucidate. The song that's posted is not from The First Emperor at all but rather is a selection from Tan Dun's Symphony 1997 (Heaven Earth Mankind). This composition was written to be performed at the reunification ceremony in Hong Kong on July 1, 1997 and features Yo-Yo Ma on cello and a recording of the ancient Bianzhong Bells. It's my favorite of Tan Dun's pieces and, in my opinion, the best example of how well he's been able to combine Eastern and Western classical music to create a condensed classical masterpiece.

Buy Yo-Yo Ma - Tan Dun: Symphony 1997 (Heaven Earth Mankind) HERE on Amazon.

EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
Jane's Addiction - "Three Days"
Joanna Newsom - "Monkey & Bear"
Depeche Mode - "Never Let Me Down Again" (Split Mix)
This Mortal Coil - "Dreams Are Like Water"
The Church - “Chaos"
Alex Skolnick Trio - “War Pigs"
Arlo Guthrie - “Alice's Restaurant Massacre"
The Human League - “Morale... / You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"

To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.

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Mancino - "Hetchie Hutchie Footchie" music video



Mancino is set to release their debut LP Manners Matter on the 30th of January with a record release show at Mercury Lounge on the 27th of this month. You'll be hearing more about both of these things next week, for now enjoy the video. Don't pretend the dance craze is dead - get into Mancino's groove.

Visit Mancino on MySpace.

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OPP

Gerard vs. Bear posts about a previous EF post

Chromewaves gets back to the weekly 24 commentary and also mentions that British Sea Power has recorded a cover of Pavement's "We Dance" (listen to it HERE)

RBally's going to call it quits (again) (therein lies an explanation as to why Ear Farm's Weekend Live Music feature isn't coming back anytime soon)

Yeti Don't Dance posted three videos well worth your time

Crackers United on A Sunny Day In Glasgow

jefitoblog posted The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Survivor

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17 January 2007

Seasick

If you've always wondered what a band could do with their sound if they simply took a little bit of Siouxsie and mixed it with some of what The Doors were all about, then I've got a band for you. They are seasick...seasick, yet still docked. No, I mean to say that the name of the band is Seasick (though I could see a music video for one of their songs conveying the feeling of being seasick, not on a dock though - say shooting the band on an old boat on the open sea at night in a quiet storm with lightning illuminating the scene and... I digress), they're from NYC, and they've got an entrancing intensity that's equal parts spooky and alluring. Just how you like it, no?

Well I like it. I also like the band's self-propagated mythology. Let's take a look at that and then head directly to the MP3s:

Seasick is the brain-child of Persian/Latvian Jasmine Golestaneh. Tired of singing songs to herself in dirty bedrooms, one day Jasmine took a train to the seaside and asked the ocean for guidance. As she stared into the placid dark waters, a voice loomed over her head. That was the voice of Geoffrey Lee, "yeah!", he said with a certain kind of zeal, and a golden keyboard rose from the sea foam. Jasmine was delighted, and the pair frolicked with sounds in her messy bedroom from dusk till dawn, and dusk again. Then one day they heard a nasty rattle from the bathroom sink. It was unremitting! The banging was clanging until they could no longer hear themselves drink. Finally Jasmine stuck her head down the drain pipe, only to find Sam Levin flogging a drum so hard that the whole building broke out in a flood. It was then a trinity formed, and in those treacherous, sewage infested waters, Seasick was born.
Listen:
"Wolves In Caves"
"Devil On Her Palms"

Visit Seasick on MySpace.

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snip·pets

My Bloody Valentine are set to make another album, according to leader Kevin Shields

Digital music sales doubled in 2006

MSNBC's Whitney Henry tries out for American Idol

The Onion lists the worst band names of 2006

Lily Allen receives four Brit Award nominations

The Killers cover Joy Division

"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" lyrics sheet up for sale

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16 January 2007

Three for Free - Bridges and Powerlines, Au Revoir Simone, Teenagers In Tokyo

EAR FARM's Three for Free: music you can listen to, and download, now and not feel dirty about tomorrow. Click on the artist name to go to their site, click on the song name to listen to the song.

Listen:
Bridges and Powerlines - "Carmen"

Listen:
Au Revoir Simone - "Through the Backyards"

Listen:
Teenagers In Tokyo - "End It Tonight"

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Contrast Podcast #42

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The new Contrast Podcast has just been posted. The theme for Contrast Podcast #42 is "where". Find out who has submitted which band and which song about "where", and listen to a selection from me, by checking out Contrast Podcast #42.

You can download Contrast Podcast #42 HERE.

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - download the new album

A message from the band:

Some Loud Thunder, our second album, will be available today, January 16th, as a download sometime before 3PM EST through our web site, thanks to our friends at Insound. In a few hours we will post a news item on our site that will link you to the download, so keep checking the site today. We will also stream the entire record from our myspace page, where we currently have 4 songs.

If you order the album as a download, you will receive a real CD (made of real plastic) somewhere around January 30th when the album officially comes out. You will also be able to order a limited edition Some Loud Thunder t-shirt for an extra low price.

Here is our website, where you can download the album later today:
clapyourhandssayyeah.com
Previously the band made two new songs from the album available for your listening enjoyment.

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Today's NEW releases

Just waiting for next week:

Anything else?

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14 January 2007

Arthur & Yu - new song & news

If EAR FARM gave awards for popularity of songs that have been featured on the site, Arthur & Yu would surely have won one in 2006 for their song "Lion's Mouth". I've had more people tell me how much they love this song, more people ask "who is that?!" when I play it early in my DJ sets, than just about any other song. I'm not acting surprised though. I know full well how good "Lion's Mouth" is. It's beautiful and simple and perfect and I've posted it (again) below so be sure to check it out if you haven't already.

Now that our collective love for "Lion's Mouth" is out in the open we can move on to the matter at hand. Arthur & Yu have just recently made available a brand new song called "Come to View (Song For Neil Young)". It's got more of what you loved the first time you heard their music. More excellent vocal work, more Lee Hazelwood/Nancy Sinatra influence, more economy of notes, and more Arthur & Yu magic. I'm proud to offer it for your listening pleasure and happy to announce that Arthur & Yu have also just recently signed to Hardly Art Records. Hardly Art is a new Sub Pop subsidiary that's certain to be a fine home for these Seattle natives. I'm most definitely looking forward to their first release and am going to continue begging them to come play a show in New York. Arthur & Yu live in NYC in 2007!

Listen:
"Come to View (Song For Neil Young)"
"Lion's Mouth"

Visit Arthur & Yu on MySpace.

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12 January 2007

Those Damn Twins

Those Damn Twins are a duo originally from Raleigh, NC (like me, woot woot) who've since moved to Seattle, WA where they twin it up by making lovely and interesting and haunting music likely to please indie art scenesters thirsty for a break from Starbucks Hear Music.

Alright, not scenesters per se but those who enjoy indie art. Art that's not what you see when you walk into the doctor's office. Art with balls. No, I mean guts. Art that takes a chance. Something. Something not meant to masculinize the art I speak of but rather meant to make a clear distinction. What I mean is that the people who hang art like this on their walls might want to move on and check out some other website but people with a brain open to sounds that dare to tap dance around familiar while never quite settling in a comfortable place, those people should give Those Damn Twins a listen.

Hey, it might take a flexible ear to get into their music at first because the lyrics, atonal nature (at times), and song structures tend more towards hypnotic meditation than they do happy dance time; but then, that might be just your thing. Fans of Magnetic Fields, Mazzy Star, and that sense of adventure that drove bands like Cabaret Voltaire, will find much to like in the music of Those Damn Twins. I've selected two songs of theirs below: the Exile in Guyville era Liz Phair meets Aarktica sounding lullaby goodness of "Polar Bear" and the country drone extraordinaire "The Red One". I suggest you listen to them back to back as Those Damn Twins intended. And, if you're in Seattle, check 'em out in person sometime. Word is they put on a good show.

Listen:
"Polar Bear"
"The Red One"

Visit Those Damn Twins on MySpace.

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11 January 2007

8+

"Three Days" by Jane's Addiction which clocks in at 10:47

A shoelace starer looked me in the eyes on the way to work. I spotted her from about a block away and she must've also seen me because right as we were about to pass each other she lifted her head and peeked out from underneath the shelter of her hair. She blinked a tiny smile my way and then I thought of this song.

As soon as we'd exchanged glances I reached for my iPod and found "Three Days". A flood of memories came rushing back to me: the very first time I heard Jane's Addiction (listening to their first album on a boombox in a canoe), Jane's Addiction at Lollapalooza at Walnut Creek (yes, the first Lollapalooza but that's a long story not well suited for parenthetical explanation), and the time I had a very serious Jane's Addiction fan explain Ritual de lo Habitual/Xiola Bleu to me.

Contrary to what I asked when he first said "you don't know who Xiola Bleu is?", Xiola Bleu is not Samuel Taylor Coleridge's sequel to "Kubla Khan". No, Xiola Bleu was very much Perry Farrell's muse. Or so I was told. I was also told that she was a 12 year old girl who Perry kept locked in a closet with nothing but heroin for three days. Then when she OD'd he wrote "Three Days" about her and the closet imprisonment. That's what the guy said. Many years later I'd find myself searching for true story of Xiola Bleu on the internet.

Here's the real story:

Xiola Bleu was former girlfriend of Perry Farrell from the Psi Com days; she was only fourteen when they met. She was a friend and had a similar likeness to Casey Niccoli. Her picture is included in the back of the liner notes of the Ritual de lo Habitual album, she is also depicted on the cover as the figure in the center, embraced by Perry and Casey. Xiola died of a heroin overdose in her apartment the East Twenties of New York in June of 1987. Perry took Xiola's death pretty hard. He had introduced her to heroin nearly five years earlier and was struggling with his own addiction.

The song Three Days is about Xiola's three-day return to Los Angeles for her father's funeral. This would be the last time Perry would see Xiola before her death. The song is, however, not about her death as it was written a few months before that, in 1986. The song alludes to Perry, Casey and Xiola spending their days together in a haze of sex and drugs.
Ever since I learned about the real Xiola Bleu her story has stood out in my mind as one of the many (mostly) unknown tragic tales of artistic implosion. For some reason, the shy girl I passed today on the street reminded me of Xiola.

The version posted here is the 2006 remastered version from Up from the Catacombs: The Best of Jane's Addiction - buy that album HERE on Amazon. Or, you can find the original version on Ritual de lo Habitual, available HERE on Amazon.

EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
Joanna Newsom - "Monkey & Bear"
Depeche Mode - "Never Let Me Down Again" (Split Mix)
This Mortal Coil - "Dreams Are Like Water"
The Church - “Chaos"
Alex Skolnick Trio - “War Pigs"
Arlo Guthrie - “Alice's Restaurant Massacre"
The Human League - “Morale... / You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"
Red House Painters - “River"

To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.

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10 January 2007

Vampire Weekend

Boy do I wish it was Summer right now... Not because these one-point-five days of Winter have tested my ability to deal well with cold weather, but rather because I really want to buy that Sublime box set and, you see, I'm fairly literal with what music I listen to from season to season. No Babylon by Bus in February and no Long Cold Winter on repeat in July. If you catch my drift.

Well if you're like me with all of that then I ask you to suspend your fastidiousness for the time being and check out the following band.

Vampire Weekend is a quartet of Columbia graduates who, like Islands, clearly share a certain love of the sounds that informed Paul Simon's Graceland and half of everything Peter Gabriel has ever done. While there's probably still some finishing touches that could be done on these tracks the beats and strumming you're thirsting for are all here in heaping portions, as are the mellow sunny day melodies. Judging from the song "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" I'd bet that this is one band you're really going to enjoy in a live setting and I'd even go so far as to call this band the best group of African music making white boys in all of New York.

The second song posted here, "Oxford Comma", is the one that's really gotten me most interested in Vampire Weekend. Why? For one it reminds me of things I enjoy about Bishop Allen. A certain carefree take on songcraft you're not likely to find just growing on trees. Smart pop. Ivy League pop? Yeah sure. If that means preppies who own guitars and know who Ladysmith Black Mumbazo is I'll go with that. The second reason I jumped when I first heard "Oxford Comma" is because I give a fuck about fun music, catchy lyrics, AND Oxford commas. That's how I roll. You too? Then let's make this weekend a Vampire Weekend full of boat drinks and fun in the sun. In January? You betcha.

Listen:
"Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
"Oxford Comma"

***also, please, do yourself a favor and check out the excellent Les Bank Robbers mashup of Vampire Weekend's "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" and Clipse's "Wamp Wamp" - listen to it on the Les Bank Robbers MySpace page HERE***

Visit Vampire Weekend on MySpace.

See Vampire Weekend on the 31st of January at Mercury Lounge.

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08 January 2007

Bell @ Sidewalk Cafe - 6 January 2007

This past Saturday night at Sidewalk Cafe was my second time seeing Bell. The first time I fell head over heels for Olga and her band so, believe it or not, this time I went into the show a bit apprehensive. That's natural for me though. I didn't want to fool myself, right? After all, Bell is a young band and the goo goo ears that I got after seeing them might have been a one-time-only thing. Maybe this show would reveal Olga Bell and her boys to be nothing more than an enchantress playing music with a couple of talentless hacks.

Okay, so that's totally not what my second impression turned out to be. This time Olga played the house piano rather than one of those fancy newer generation Juno synthesizers that she played last time and the band performed without the guest aid of Jessica from Via Audio. Happy guy was I, as this made for an entirely different experience. If the first show was a party for the eyes and ears this show was an intimate session for the heart and mind. (score one for cheese/hyperbole)

Gone was the joie de vivre dancey/clappy playing that I saw at The Delancey and in its place was a mellower style that highlighted the performing talents of the three members of Bell. At various moments Mike's bass or Jason's kit work would jump to the front but for most of the show I focused on Olga's piano playing and let her voice lead the way. The band played three cover songs (including their now instant-classic take on Ski Lo's "I Wish" and a nice twist on The Go-Go's "Vacation") that may very well have turned out to be the highlights of the evening. That's what I heard some people saying afterwards at least. Still, speaking for myself, I have to say that my favorite moments were two originals. Two songs of Bell's that I love more than words... MORE than "More Than Words" even. The first ("Expanding File") you can listen to below and the other ("Better Way") is available at Bell's MySpace page. Is it fair to say that I'm already anxiously looking forward to Bell's debut album? Is it that obvious? It should be.

Listen:
"Expanding File"

See more pictures from this show HERE.

Want to see Bell live? Bell's next show will be to perform the classic song "Do Right" as part of the Covers for the Cure: A Benefit for Breast Cancer Research at Joe's Pub. More dates HERE.

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OPP

Nerd Litter's For the Record #2 features guest bloggers (including yours truly) writing about their top artists of 2006

Brooklyn Vegan tells us that David Bowie is bringing Daniel Johnston to the NYC Highline Festival in May

Fiddle While You Burn says that Redman is playing a free show at Canal Room

The Perm & The Skullet has Black Flag @ Phoenix's Calderon Ballroom in 1982

My Old Kentucky Blog just turned two

Bryan at Subinev posted the results of the contest to vote for which band should be Robotinev #50 - go check it out!

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Arcade Fire - "Black Mirror"

Excited for the upcoming release of Arcade Fire's new album Neon Bible? Me too. Want to hear the lead track from it? Me too.

Listen:
"Black Mirror"

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snip·pets

Nikki Bacharach, daughter of Burt Bacharach and Angie Dickinson, committed suicide

Britney Spears wants hot career comeback

R.E.M., Van Halen Lead 2007 Rock Hall Class

Jonny Greenwood to Curate Reggae Compilation

The Independent reflects on the career of David Bowie (happy 60th birthday to him today)

Arcade Fire Tracklisting Revealed

Blur reunion gets closer

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06 January 2007

Man Man @ Bowery Ballroom - 5 January 2007

Just about a year ago I saw Man Man play a show at Cake Shop. Last night they sold out Bowery Ballroom.

They've reworked some of their songs off of their first two albums and played a few new songs before closing the night with a Rage Against The Machine cover.

As usual, Man Man was on top of their game and played another totally rad show. At this point I don't think this band is capable of having an off night. (this format of having a picture coupled with a few sentences is a bit children's book, don't you think?)

I was able to record two songs with my still camera. Check out the quicktimes and extracted MP3s below. Anybody know the name of the song they go into in the first quicktime, after "Hot Bat"?

Watch:
"Hot Bat" -> "Top Drawer"
"Bulls On Parade"

Listen:
"Hot Bat" -> "Top Drawer"
"Bulls On Parade"

See more pictures from this show HERE.

Visit Man Man on MySpace.

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05 January 2007

EAR FARM Presents... Taigaa, Scott Phillips, Schooner, Erie Choir @ Bickett Gallery in Raleigh - 27 December 2006

This post is a week overdue. Usually I'm very good about getting these post-show posts up right away but this time I needed to take some time to simply enjoy New Year's Eve/Day. The delay was by no means a reflection of how things went.

Back story - when I was back home in Raleigh for the holidays I figured, hey, what better way to celebrate being home with friends than with an EAR FARM Presents... show? It was perfect, in fact, and I was really happy to see so many of my Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill friends at Bickett Gallery on the 27th of December for a holiday party that was full of awesome live music, many drinks, and fine works of art.

The audio for all of these performances was recorded, and I plan to make that available at some point in the future, but for right now I'm just going to post links to some pictures I took and a live video of each band performing a song. A note about the videos - they were taken with a digital camera. Like, as in, a still camera. The microphone limits itself quite a bit (especially for the two bands with drummers) so the sound you're going to hear is not at all what things actually sounded like. It sounded better.

Erie Choir
Erie Choir played first and featured a trimmed down, two person lineup. Having heard their songs before the show I was prepared to enjoy the set but I wasn't really ready to like their songs as much as I did. The songs, the melodies, the vibe, the performance - everything - was excellent. I highly recommend checking out this band in whatever way you can.

Listen:
"Favorite Fotos"

Watch:
Erie Choir live @ Bickett Gallery - 27 December 2006 (quicktime link)

View more pictures from this show of Erie Choir HERE.
Read a previous EF post about Erie Choir HERE.

Schooner
Schooner is a band I've been familiar with for nearly the entire 1.25 year history of EAR FARM. I got to see them once before at Lit Lounge here in the city and the show at Bickett Gallery was the complete opposite. That's a good thing. Not that they were bad, in any way, the first time I saw them, but Lit Lounge just isn't the sweetest of venues. It sucks. Schooner, however, does not. They rocked the art gallery in a mellow countrified fashion and showed that they've grown a bit as a band since I last saw them live. Their sound is more focused, their energy more unified, and their songs...as fantastic as ever. The Rocky P. tour EP they gave me has been on heavy iPod rotation the past week and you can look forward to seeing them live here in NYC soon. I promise, I'm working on it. (by the way, my camera mic had the toughest time with Schooner's sound, given how many different things it was trying to pick up all at once)

Listen:
"Normal Day"

Watch:
Schooner live @ Bickett Gallery - 27 December 2006 (quicktime link)

View more pictures from this show of Schooner HERE.
Read a previous EF post about Schooner HERE.

Scott Phillips
Scott Phillips, please come and play every single EAR FARM Presents... show ever. Okay, maybe I don't really have a realistic impression of Scott's original music (given that he played an accordion busking set made up entirely of cover songs) but how can it be anything but spectacular? Let me put it to you this way, at one point he played these songs in succession: "I Won't Share You", "But Not Tonight", and "The Saturday Boy". Yes, again, that's The Smiths, Depeche Mode, and Billy Bragg... back to back to back. And "But Not Tonight"?! That's only like my favorite Depeche Mode song. Is there any quicker way to my musical heart? Not unless a Poison song was worked in there somewhere. Scott will definitely be coming up to NYC for some shows, I'll let you know when that happens.

Watch:
Scott Phillips live @ Bickett Gallery - 27 December 2006 (quicktime link)

View more pictures from this show of Scott Phillips HERE.

Taigaa
Taigaa was the odd band out in this lineup in a few ways. One, they're from Brooklyn, not NC. Two, their sound is much more experimental and not as rooted in rock/country/folk as the others. Yet somehow they fit perfectly as the closers of the show. I'm guessing they stretched the tastes of some of the audience members a little bit, with their wide open sense of adventure and performance, and I'm guessing the audience enjoyed this. It was very evident actually. Taigaa explodes and implodes, loves and hates, dances and sleeps, all within the span of one song. In a sense, they're the perfect art gallery band given their minimalist exploration of the artistic side of things musical. I most definitely recommend checking them out.

Listen:
"Ennui Ennui Catastrophe"

Watch:
Taigaa live @ Bickett Gallery - 27 December 2006 (quicktime link)

View more pictures from this show of Taigaa HERE.
Read a previous EF post about Taigaa HERE.

***See Taigga live TONIGHT at Cakeshop***

Again, I'd really like to thank all of the bands who played. Thanks to Bickett Gallery for hosting such an excellent night and thanks a million to everyone who came out to the show. It was a blast and I definitely plan to do more EAR FARM sponsored shows in the Raleigh area in the future.

(as usual, the flyer for this show was designed by Destroy Space)

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04 January 2007

8+

"Monkey & Bear" by Joanna Newsom which clocks in at 9:28

The following is a reworking of a portion of the lyrics to Joanna Newsom's song "Monkey & Bear" centered around a topic only a music blog nerd would know much about. This topic I speak of? A site written anonymously that I enjoyed from time to time before it began to fade away. Consider it an ode perhaps.

You wonder: "Isn't this just a cheap way to feature an artist you're not even sure how you feel about while tipping your hat to a peer in an all too music blogger exclusive manner? Isn't it a bit square and oh-so-2006?"

Yes. Yes it is. I suggest listening to the song while reading the lyrics below.

Down in the blogger fray
Where monkey and bear usually lay
They woke from an unstable-boy's cry.

He said; someone come quick!
My screws got loose, I'm ass-sick!
Gerard founder! Fain, they'll cry.

What is now known by the sorrel and the roan?
By the chestnut, and the bay, and the gelding grey?

It is: stay by the brain that you are given
And remain in your place, for good reason
And had the overfed dead but listened
To that high-fence, non-sense, wisdom...

Did you hear that, Bear?
Said monkey we'll get out of here, bear and square.
What up the fuck open wide!

So?
I sighed...
Here is my hand, where is your paw?
Try and understand my plan, first of all
Gerard was a furnace
Full of laughs both just, and earnest
Now you know that we must unlearn this
Allegiance to a site out of service
And no longer answer to that smart-ass
Bray-monger, nor be his accomplice
(the bargain bin, word artist hustling!)
But worst of all, we've got to read something
And herd our sheep, while still within
The borders of the land that blogs nerded
(all double-jolted website listed!)
Until we breach music bourgeoisie
A-steeped in silk and money.

Will you bring your funny blog back, for me?
Can you Bear a little longer to swear unleash?
Kind of, I swear by the air I breathe:
Sooner or later, Gerard'll bare his teeth.
(picture from HERE)

Buy Ys HERE on Amazon.

EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
Depeche Mode - "Never Let Me Down Again" (Split Mix)
This Mortal Coil - "Dreams Are Like Water"
The Church - “Chaos"
Alex Skolnick Trio - “War Pigs"
Arlo Guthrie - “Alice's Restaurant Massacre"
The Human League - “Morale... / You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"
Red House Painters - “River"
Suicide -“Frankie Teardrop"

To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.

Click HERE to continue reading/view comments...

OPP

Taylor over at T-Sides hooks us up with her Top 5 Hip-Hop Albums of 2006 and also lists Top Albums & Songs

Aquarium Drunkard - L.A. Burnout :: Part One of Three

Stereogum posted about band cameos in movies

Marathonpacks - Gruff Rhys "Lonesome Words"

Creekside Review posted about Ruined Music

RBally: James Brown - The Godfather Goes To Africa

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03 January 2007

Best Art Vinyl 2006

Art Vinyl have announced the winners of the Best Art Vinyl 2006 (artist name in parentheses):

    1. The Eraser - Thom Yorke - (Stanley Donwood)
    2. We Are The Pipettes - The Pipettes - (Pete Hellicar)
    3. Over & Over 12" - Hot Chip - (Wallzo)
See the full list as a .pdf HERE.

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Beatboxing Parrot

This bird's got a sick beat...

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02 January 2007

Nominations now open for the 2007 Bloggies

You can now go and nominate your favorite blogs for a 2007 Bloggie Award. Last year I was happily surprised to have had EAR FARM nominated in the "Best-Kept-Secret Weblog" category. This year they've added a category for Best Weblog About Music and there is no limit to the number of categories a weblog may be nominated for...I'm hoping to win in both Sports and Food.

On Monday, January 22, the finalists will be announced and voting will be open again to choose the winners. So go now - go forth and nominate.

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Three for Free - The Station Myth, The Wigg Report, Debra DeSalvo

Happy New Year! Ready for some excellent completely legal and free music? Of course you are. Click on the artist name to go to their website, click on the song name to listen to the song.

Listen:
The Station Myth - "Goodbye Or Goodnight"

Listen:
The Wigg Report - "Street Music"

Listen:
Debra DeSalvo - "All That I Need"

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Today's NEW releases

The New Year begins slowly...but trust me, get this one as soon as you can:

Click HERE to continue reading/view comments...

01 January 2007

EAR FARM's Top 15 albums of 2006 (and more)

This is a re-post of EAR FARM's top albums list. Regular posting will resume tomorrow.

Last year, I posted EAR FARM's Top 15 albums of 2005 on December 1st and then returned at the end of the year to re-post the list with some comments and links to songs. This year I've decided to give you all of the goods at one time, dig? What you'll find below are my "top" 15 albums released in 2006. What does this mean? Favorites? Bests? Both, yes. These are the bests of my favorites. The most favorite-bests.

Click the title of the album to go buy it, click the artist's name to go to their site, click the (+) to read what some critics have to say, and click on the song name (songs no longer available here - sorry) to listen. As always, please feel free to comment, complain, leave your own "tops of '06" list, or tag the comments to this post with graffiti.

15. A New Dope by 7L & Esoteric (+) - listen: "Daisycutta"
The songs here are filled with influences both underground and old school while the beats and production are adventurous and interesting enough to whet the appetite of most rap fans. It's a solid album from first song to last with a refreshing lack of throwaway tracks (such as "skits" and the like) and a guest appearance by Kool Keith, but what really makes this album stand out for me are the clever lyrics and smart samples.

14. Rabbit Fur Coat by Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins (+) - listen: "The Big Guns"
This was the first album that I got in 2006 that made me think "hey, this just might show up on my year end list". Well here we are and here it is. Rabbit Fur Coat is a triumphant solo debut for Jenny Lewis and is easily one of the best country/folk records of the year. I really like every song on the album and "The Big Guns", "You Are What You Love", and "Rabbit Fur Coat" are three of my favorite songs of the year by any artist.

13. Let's Get Out Of This Country by Camera Obscura (+) - listen: "Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken"
This is the sound of Camera Obscura fully growing into themselves. The sound of a band looking back to '60s pop while constantly moving forward along the fine line between happy and melancholy. It's an album full of "I Will Survive"s for the quiet and cute book nerd set and it's an album you're going to have a hard time saying no to.

12. Show Your Bones by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (+) - listen: "Phenomena"
Great live shows tend to center my focus on a band, and/or an album, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs show I saw at Bowery in February did just that. I was blown away by the band (and mesmerized by Karen O) and spent much of the Spring listening to Show Your Bones. In my opinion, it's a better album than Fever To Tell and a fine portent of what lies ahead for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

11. Blood Mountain by Mastodon (+) - listen: "Colony Of Birchmen"
Was 2006 the year of metal? For me it was. I dusted off albums by Slayer, Metallica, and Sabbath and headbanged my way home from work to great new releases from Isis, Tool, and Ministry. However, if I had to pick just ONE metal album to put on this list...just one that's a bit better than all the others...it would easily be Blood Mountain. With this album Mastodon has restored my faith in new (not nu) metal bands continuing to release really excellent rockyourfuckingfaceoff music. If you ever wake up from your Beirut/Cat Power/Joanna Newsom coma, give this album a listen to remind yourself what it feels like to be alive. I dare you.

10. Jarvis by Jarvis Cocker (+) - listen: "Black Magic"
When I first listened to this album only two tracks really stood out. Now, the more I listen the more I can hear how brilliant the entire record is - it's almost like the proper follow-up to This Is Hardcore that we all had hoped We Love Life was going to be. Sure, there aren't any old school Pulp anthems for the posers to hang their hats on but there's more than enough on Jarvis to get the crowd gasping at Cocker's masterful control of all things musical.

9. Yellow House by Grizzly Bear (+) - listen: "On a Neck, on a Spit"
Grizzly Bear's album Yellow House is a master class in songwriting, production, and the creation of an album (rather than just a collection of songs). It's beautiful and near the top of my list of best headphone albums of the year.




8. Six Demon Bag by Man Man (+) - listen: "Van Helsing Boombox"
Perhaps you have to be of a certain type (open to oddity) to fully enjoy the Man Man experience but I can think of few other bands that kicked so much ass, both live and on record, in 2006 the way Man Man did. The only reason this album is at #8 instead of in the top three is that I might've overdone it and listened to Six Demon Bag a bit too much.

7. Hell Hath No Fury by Clipse (+) - listen: "Wamp Wamp (What It Do)"
Times like these are when I feel like a lemming/robot. YES, I LIKE CLIPSE BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE LIKES THEM. I MUST PUT ONE RAP RECORD ON MY LIST TO SEEM OPEN TO OTHER KINDS OF MUSICS. THE WHOLE WORLD SAYS THIS IS GOOD - I AGREE. It's not like that though. I love rap when it's good and this is great. Seriously. It's as good as they all say. Shit, it's better. And yes, I think it's quite a bit better than Ghostface's Fishscale. Come on, WAMP WAMP...what it do, what it do...WAMP WAMP.

6. Ships by Danielson (+) - listen: "Did I Step On Your Trumpet"
This was the first album I heard this year that got me thinking "damn, this is a masterpiece". I've stepped back a bit from that assessment but there's no question in my mind that Ships is one of the best albums of the year. It might take a certain kind of open-mindedness to music to fully enjoy what Daniel Smith and crew have achieved here but I think it's near perfection.

5. The Life Pursuit by Belle & Sebastian (+) - listen: "Another Sunny Day"
When Eric up and told me that The Life Pursuit is Belle & Sebastian's best album yet I laughed in his face. Ha ha silly tall man, no WAY it's better than If You're Feeling Sinister. Wrong I was to taunt so quickly. While I'd not go as far as to say this album is better than If You're Feeling Sinister I will say it's gotten me loving Belle & Sebastian again. In fact, I was downright shocked at how good The Life Pursuit is, considering how much I disliked their previous two efforts.

4. Return To Cookie Mountain by TV On The Radio (+) - listen: "Wolf Like Me"
I've said it before but, TV On The Radio pushes boundaries and challenges listeners and I love them for that. They're creatively creating music in a world full of mindless mimicry, so bravo to them. The only thing keeping this album from being higher on my list is that I don't want to have it at number one like everyone else. Noooo, that's not it. It's that I find it a bit tough to listen to in one sitting. It's true. In fact, I find it better to listen in three song spurts...small doses. Like that extra spicy Sriracha.

3. Classics by Ratatat (+) - listen: "Wildcat"
"The Laker girls need to be taken down a peg or two..." If there's someone following me around every day shooting a secret movie with me as the star, I sure hope this whole album is the soundtrack. I'm not being paranoid or anything I'm just saying. Just in case. Because it's perfect for that. Perfect for any situation. Perfect.

2. Return to the Sea by Islands (+) - listen: "Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby"
The Unicorns made one of my favorite albums of the '00s and then split up. Assholes. Then Nick and J'aime formed Islands and put on a show at Knitting Factory last year that got me super excited for the Islands debut album. Turns out, the album is everything I could've wanted and more. Perfect pop songs, an opening song over eight minutes in length, a song named for Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, and an overall sound that's akin to Graceland era Paul Simon. Add the fact that they picked artwork by one of my favorite artists for the cover (and a have a soundbyte from an Art Bell show leading off the song "Volcanoes") and it's really a no brainer for Return to the Sea to show up here at number two.

1. The Crane Wife by The Decemberists (+) - listen: visit The Decemberists on MySpace
For their major label debut I expected The Decemberists to (perhaps) phone it in a bit. I mean, it would've been forgiven if they just took the big bag of cash and handed Capitol some tape of Colin singing sea shanties in the shower but that's not what this is. No, this is something else. It's...it's...loss for words, I cannot say. Let's look to Tiny Mix Tapes for some help: "The Crane Wife is God damn amazing. Have I used "amazing" too many times for you? Here's some more adjectives: astonishing, astounding, bewildering, breathtaking, extraordinary, impressive, magnificent, marvelous, remarkable, spectacular, staggering, stunning, stupendous, terrific, wonderful. That should cover it." Yes, okay, I've got it. The Crane Wife is the best album released in 2006. All year I was waiting for a band to put out that one record that totally blew me away. In October, The Decemberists did just that.

There you have it. A pretty gosh darn great year for new music if you ask me. There were quite a few albums that just barely didn't make it into my top 15, some of which you'll see mentioned below. I had a hard time trying to balance between albums that I consider to be very good and the ones that dominated my own ipod/stereo in 2006 but I think I finally got everything sorted nicely. So, go ahead and offer up your criticisms and questions and name calling and all the whatever you call it... Mostly I'd like to see YOUR "tops of '06" lists, so let us have them. Or, if you still need more lists from me, keep reading below.

10 albums that nearly made EAR FARM's top 15:
Annuals - Be He Me
Fujiya & Miyagi - Transparent Things
Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
Luke Haines - Off My Rocker at the Art School Bop
Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
Bruce Springsteen - We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
Tool - 10,000 Days
The Walkmen - A Hundred Miles Off
M. Ward - Post-War

10 albums that just aren't my thing, no matter how good everyone else says they are:
Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Beirut - The Gulag Orkestar
Cat Power - The Greatest
Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies
Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds
Girl Talk - Night Ripper
The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
The Knife - Silent Shout
The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
Tom Waits - Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards

5 albums that let me down:
Built To Spill - You in Reverse
The Flaming Lips - At War with the Mystics
The Futureheads - News And Tributes
Morrissey - Ringleader Of The Tormentors
The Streets - The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living

18 artists whose 2007 album I'm really excited about:
Animal Collective
Art Brut
Arcade Fire
Blur
British Sea Power
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Cornelius
The Cure
Deerhoof
PJ Harvey
Mancino
M.I.A.
The National
Nine Inch Nails
Other Passengers
Portishead
Radiohead
Wilco

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