Friday, August 19, 2011

The Beatles Explain Why Music Matters

Well, really it's the Why Music Matters organization USING The Beatles to explain why music matters, and they did a really good job. The organization, which focuses on anti-piracy, made this almost 2-minute long segment filled with great music, fun artwork, and a good message. Check it out below.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Stream the New Of Montreal EP!

I LOVE Of Montreal, and they have a new EP out thecontrollersphere, which is comprised of songs written for False Priest that didn't make the cut. The musical direction varies completely between the albums, with thecontrollersphere much darker and heavier. The stream is available on Rolling Stone, so click HERE to check it out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Show Preview: Adam Arcuragi 4/29 at Schubas

While I did attend SXSW for the first time this year, I spent most of it with Chicago's amazing Verona Red, and therefore only had time to "discover" a few new wonderful bands. Adam Arcuragi was one of them.

To be honest, I only caught Adam Arcuragi and The Lupine Chorale Society because I got to Arms early, and the showcase was running behind. Thank goodness for that coincidence of events, because I stumbled across an amazing show. Without sounding like either, his music definitely had elements of Edward Sharpe and Delta Spirit - two of my favorites. Lucky for all us Chicagoans, they'll be playing this Friday at Schubas, opening for Cameron McGill and What Army. The show starts at 10, so if this post does its job and informs/convinces you of the fabulous music Adam will be providing, be sure to get there early and check them out!

Adam Arcuragi's set created such a fluster of wonderful feelings within me that I contacted him shortly after SXSW to see if he'd agree to do an interview with me. He did, and it's included below, along with some music. Give the tracks a listen and the conversation a read through, and hopefully I'll see you on Friday.

Bottom of the River
Lunch in Field Four

TSB: How would you describe your music to someone who's never heard it?

It is a mix of southern traditional gospel, soul, and golden-era country music with a little rock and roll thrown in; you know, for the kids.

TSB: Can you give us a quick recap of what you've been up to lately?

Well, we finished the latest record and are currently talking with labels and trying to find a nice home for it. I'm really proud of this record in particular because it was done live in the studio with a great bunch of people in Lexington Kentucky.

So whilst that is going on we've been fortunate enough to have the opportunities to travel and play. SXSW was great, and this tour with Cameron McGill is the latest of good fortune for us.

TSB: I first discovered you when I went to see Arms at SXSW, on the recommendation of some friends, and got there early enough to catch your set. From the beginning of the show to the end, you transformed me from a person completely oblivious to the music of Adam Arcuragi to a fan. I was drawn to your sound, impressed by the energy and romanced by the passion from everyone on stage. What truly topped off my experience was you and your band's response to some technical difficulties while performing your encore. Will you explain to the readers the situation you found yourself in, and how you guys handled it?

First of all let me say 'aw shucks'. That is a very flattering description. They are a good looking bunch and talented to boot; so I'm right there with you in terms of being easily romanced by the band.

When we played that day, there was a circuit breaker in the restaurant that popped. Or was it a short in the board? I forget the technical thing, but we lost power to half the stage. I unplugged my guitar and walked to the edge of the stage, on top of the speakers, and we got in a half-moon and finished the song with stomps, claps, tambourine and singing.

It worked though and that is really my favorite way to hear the band. They all have such a sweet mix of vocal timbres with a lot of really good power in their chests. Two of my favorite recordings are of a vocal ensemble being accompanied by one guitar. "There Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down" by Brother Claude Ely and "Death in the Morning" by Rev. Anderson Johnson are just about as delightful a pair of recordings are I've ever heard. Nothing quite like them. There is so much gentle, evocative power in the human voice so that's what I secretly always want to do. I'm lucky enough to have a band that is so talented that they can be thrown a curveball like that and roll with it so well.

TSB: What’s the proudest moment of your musical career thus far?

There was a show we played in Texas that was sublime. The venue was overflowing with people, the band was totally dialed in with each other and the songs, some of our dearest friends were in the audience and we just had a blast playing. Every time I turned around everyone in the band was smiling; and not like 'stage smiles' for to be all show business and razzle-dazzle but they seemed really filled with the spirit. The set was the perfect length. I did a good job of talking between the songs (which normally I am not apt to do). Then the crowd asked for one more song and the festival folks let us do one. I mean, if I am just a brain in a vat being fed simulations they must have fed the good stuff into the computer that day.

TSB: Is there any instrument you don't play, but wish you did?

I would love to be able to play the piano again. When I was in elementary school I took piano lessons for a few years and I just wish I could play. I know the keyboard now as just a map or periodic table of music now for practical purposes. But I would just love to be able to get down and learn to play some Sergei Rachmaninoff and Ray Charles numbers.

I'd also love to be able to play the Glass Armonica. I'm a huge Franklin fan and was lucky enough to hear one played live when I was twelve years old. That sound stuck in my brain as sheer joy. It wouldn't so much be an issue of learning to play so far as you'd simply have to get the feel of how much pressure to apply to the spinning glass bowls. The real hard part is getting one. It is one of those do it yourself jobbers and, from what I'm told by glass blowers, to tune a glass piece and get the silica molecules to arrange evenly is somewhat difficult.

TSB: What is your favorite thing about being a musician?

The playing music part. Goodness that answer looks silly written down. But it is true. For me, sitting and making music with other people is very satisfying. Much like building something out of wood, there is a natural and ancient thing built in that just elicits a manifest thing in your body that is worth chasing.

TSB: If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?

I love carpentry. I'd be a carpenter in a heart beat. I also love books and talking a lot so I would also enjoy being a college professor. A history class about the systematic replacement and erasure from the historical record of the pre-Hellenic egalitarian matriarchies around the Mediterranean. Oh or a class called "The Real Cain and Abel: Historical Analysis of the displacement and extinction of the Neanderthal as caused by the encroachment of early modern humans".

What would be most fun though, in my mind, would be to live out my days as a pilot taking people on wilderness adventure packages in my pontoon plane. Oh, to be able to take rich folks out in to the untamed wilderness for hiking and camping and survival training. Oh my beard would be so bang'n.

TSB: Who is on your playlist today?

Today or on any typical day:

-"Feeling Good" Nina Simone

-"Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down" Brother Claude Ely

-"Run Chicken Run" The Felice Brothers

-"Maybellene" Chuck Berry

-"Evil Will Prevail" The Flaming Lips

-"Death in the Morning" Rev Anderson Johnson

-"Star Witness" Neko Case

-"That Teenage Feeling" Neko Case

-"John Saw the Number" Neko Case

-"Grand Canyon" The Magnetic Fields

-"All the Umbrellas in London" The Magnetic Fields

-"Center of Gravity" Yo La Tengo

-"This Is The One" The Stone Roses

-"Farewell Transmission" Songs: Ohia

TSB: How does the music you listen to today differ from what you grew up with?

I guess just exposure to new stuff is the only real difference. I still feel the same about music I think I've just grown in my appreciation for it and all the many, many pieces of music that have been composed over time. I mean when I go through there are albums I don't listen to as much anymore but then again I didn't think my Milli Vanilli phase was going to be a life-long one at the time anyway.

TSB: Have you discovered any independent artists lately, while on tour or from a recommendation, whose music you'd like to help spread?

-Vandaveer: killer songwriting and the kind of duet singing that made Conway and Loretta so precious.

-Jack Carter and The Subterranean Bums (youtube search Subterranean Bums 'Fare Thee Well'). If this guy doesn't knock you on your butt then I can't help you.

-Cameron McGill and What Army. My new favorite awesomeness.

-Fabian Simon. Fabian is one of my favorite lyricists, and he isn't a native speaker.

-Bats In The Belfry. Get on it. Nick Drake doesn't have to get famous after he's gone this time.

-Spirit Family Reunion. Can't get enough of the power. Their live show is phenomenal.

TSB: You're music has graced many things I love, including Paste Magazine, NPR, SXSW, and more. In a note directed towards smaller musicians working hard to get heard, can you provide any advice? Has any one medium, concept or opportunity made a greater impact on your career than the others?

I'm not one to give advice like that. I don't think there are any good or direct answers to make sense of what's going on. The democratizing effects of things like the internet are balanced on the other side by the fallout from some of the crazier things that happened in music at the end of the twentieth century. It's a little like the wild west right now.

Be nice to everyone. Music is a glorious gift that is just for us here on Earth. Sound in any other capacity, for as far as we know, would be manifestly different anywhere else in the universe. It is fun and makes people happy. But sometimes folks get a little to serious about themselves and music (myself included) but the best thing that everyone can do is be nice to everyone.

That's right kids, we're all in this together.

TSB: If you could work with one person in the music industry, who would it be and why?

You're making me pick one? Land sakes. I'm torn, because each project would be different depending on who was working on it...gosh...

I'd love to have an album produced by Brian Eno and/or Stephen Merrit.

I'd die to do a quartet with Neko Case, Gillian Welch and Stuart Murdock.

I am also really into being a producer/svengali for Jack Carter's record if he'll let me work with him.

TSB: What are some of your favorite cities/venues to play? Are there any places you haven’t played yet that you’d love to play?

-Hot Springs Arkansas, Maxine's:

The city is amazingly gorgeous, the water is the best water for miles around and the two folks that own and run Maxine's just do it right. I love playing there and I enjoy listening to music there. The room is a really wonderful sounding room

-Bryan Texas, Stafford Main Street:

Charmingly haunted Bryan offers a rich tradition of ghosts and this awesome venue which used to be a burlesque house.

-A community center in Muenster Germany:

I can't recall the name, but it was so magical and the space itself was near-perfect.

-The Brillo Box, Pittsburg PA:

Just so swell. A magnificent layout in a killer building and the owners and staff are just fantastic.

TSB: What are your plans for your music in the next year?

We're traveling a whole bunch and playing a lot. Wherever the record lands will really shape the coming year in terms of specifics. We have been blessed with the van, so we're going to be having a good time playing and meeting the good folks of the world.

Stream The Asteroid Galaxy Tour's New EP

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour have a new EP out, The Golden Age EP, and you can check it out in its entirety below. Fun stuff, fo sho!

The Golden Age EP 2011 by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour

Show Preview: Gobble Gobble TONIGHT

If you're a fan of Passion Pit, Justice, Animal Collective, or any other good music that makes you dance, you may very well love Gobble Gobble. A friend recommended them to me, and once I got my hands on their music they've been a constant presence in my headphones. They're playing tonight at Schubas, and I'm VERY excited to see them. I plan on dancing enough to burn all the Easter-candy calories I've been consuming. If you're free and looking for a good time, I recommend checking them out.

End of Days
Lawn Knives
Becoming Legion

Show Review: Village at Schubas

On April 14 I headed to Schubas to check out Chicago's Village. In March I caught their set at The Whistler by happenstance, and I really enjoyed it. A friend described them as almost a more rock and roll Girls, which not only fits their sound really well, but also equates to audible deliciousness in my world. After seeing them in March, I got my hands on their album and it's been in regular rotation since. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to see them at Schubas.

Their set made me feel good all over. Like a lot of bands I love, their album is pretty solid, and I enjoy it, but their live show brings forth an extra level of awesomeness. Village combine enough beat to dance to with enough guitar to rock out to, creating an overall wonderful live show experience. Below are a few pics from the show, as well as a few tracks off their album Local Moves.

Love on a Whim
The Days are Gifts
Close in an Instant