Friday, July 31, 2009


By Shanna Farrell, contributor

A beautiful fusion of indie rock, lo-fi, folk, and jam -- Woods has got it going on. Their newest album, Songs of Shame, was released in April and has quickly become one of my favorite records of the year. While I love me some indie-rock, lo-fi, and folk (has anyone seen the Newport Folk Festival line-up this year? Check it out here), it takes me a lot to tolerate, let alone like a band that does any “jamming” at all. But Woods is a different story. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’m in love with their sound. It’s something both familiar and new.

While I think the album as a whole is wonderful, there are three songs I want to highlight (two of which you can listen to here).

The first of the bunch is “The Number,” a stripped down song. It’s regretful and somber. It’s melodic chorus is “You’ll pass that number/ Waiting for the summer/ So that you cannot rest/ Curious perfections/ There’s haunting life lessons/ So that you cannot rest”. There is a definite beauty in its subtleties.

Next is “Military Madness,” originally by Graham Nash. This song is just as powerful now as it was then, and Woods brings a new flavor to the tune.

The third track I want to mention is called “September with Pete.” It’s completely instrumental and [for lack of a better term] jammy. The drums and guitar are most prominent, and together they create a kind of rhythmic euphoria. The song may go on slightly longer than I would like (it clocks in at 9:40) given my previously mentioned aversion for jam-rock, but I can get help moving to this song.

The band is currently on tour. If you’re in Boston on Aug. 6, I’ll see you at Great Scott for their show!


And if you’re interested in reading more, here’s a review that Pitchfork did of Songs of Shame.

Shanna Farrell is a friend that will be contributing to my blog regularly. She earned her undergraduate degree in music from Northeastern University in Boston and afterward moved to LA, where she worked in production. She currently lives in New York City where she attends grad school at NYU.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ctrl + P

Computer/internet issues have kept me from posting anything in a while - thanks for bearing with me.

I discovered a cool new nonprofit dedicated to the "printmaking arts." Iskra Print Collective, based in Burlington, VT., is a forum for print makers to display and sell their work.

They held a workshop recently that I missed out on, but I will have to stop in the gallery next time I'm in Burlington. They have a list of prints for tons of bands in alphabetical order, including art for Gov't Mule, Trey Anastasio, Umphrey's McGee, Neko Case, MMJ and Band of Horses, to name a few.

Support print design by finding your favorite band and buying a $20 print!

One day, one day ...

Chromeo art making yet another appearance on cas:ev! Artist: Michael Dabbs.

Great source of inspiration as I'm in the process of creating a concert poster for local band Capital Zen.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Survival Store*

Excuse my wording and my last post, which was a bit too opinionated (I am anti-Wal-Mart due to a couple documentaries I've seen).

Survival Store, not "Smart Store," is a concept I read about in TIME magazine back in March. Check out the link to the article here.

Artists' rendering of a Survival Store

It was part of a special issue highlighting "10 Ideas Changing The World Right Now."

A very promising concept.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wal-Mart Eco Ratings

Wal-Mart may have sucked the life out of every downtown in America, but at least their doing a responsible thing by creating eco ratings that will "measure the environmental cost of making their products so Wal-Mart can calculate and post an eco-rating for each item."

Very nice, Wal-Mart ... in theory, at least. (Get ready for my thoughts on Wal-Mart)

In short, I feel that Wal-Mart has watered down the American way of life and eroded downtowns that once served as the glue in a community.

I am exicited at the concept being tossed around of government-subsidized Smart Stores. Smart Stores will be in every neighborhood and will be a one-stop shop for eco-friendly produce and clothing, as well as a place you can go to get preventive health care (screenings, herbal medicine, yoga, ect.). They will serve as year-round farmers' markets, will sell locally made products, and will reward a sustainable lifestyle by offering discounts to those who buy eco-freindly and use public transportation or ride bikes instead of driving.

Rather than make everyone drive to the outskirts of town like Wal-Mart, Smart Stores will be walking distance for smart consumers. How about Wal-Mart takes the whole "responsible" thing a step further and puts a big ticker on the exterior of their stores that calculates how much carbon consumers released by travelling an average of, oh, 10 miles to their super centers.

In all fairness, Wal-Mart creates jobs (low-wage jobs), but it's also closed many, many small shops that can't compete with its prices.

So, don't be fooled, Wal-Mart is simply covering its ass with the whole eco rating move.

Bottom line, even though Wal-Mart's prices are a little cheaper, go to your local corner store and locally owned grocery centers for your foods as much as possible.

And now ... Wilco lyrics:

"I would like to salute/The ashes of American flags/And all the fallen leaves/Filling up shopping bags."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson

By Shanna Farrell, contributing columnist

Every once in awhile, there comes along an artist or band that incites a physical reaction. It’s an overwhelming feeling that makes me want to cry, smile, sigh, be alone and hold someone’s hand all at once. It speaks directly to my heart and leaves me changed.

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson is not that artist. He is, however, reminiscent of someone who is, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.

MBAR, for short, is an exceptionally talented musician in his own right. He is a troubadour using his guitar, his voice and his lyrics to shed some light on what it’s like to be living in his skin.

His sound has been described as a “man on the edge of a breakdown” and he sings with an amount of vulnerability that can only be authentic. You can hear in his voice that his life has been anything but rainbows and butterflies. For those familiar with Bon Iver, MBAR has the same sense of introspection and soulfulness, but as Carrie Brownstein put it, “doesn’t veer into the heavens as much."

His self-titled album Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, was released a year ago, in June 2008. It garnered attention by music blogs such as Pitchfork and Stereogum right around the time of its release, but not much since. I first heard about him on NPR’s “All Songs Considered” podcast a couple months ago (apparently late to the game), bought the record and have been listening to it non-stop since.


Being a Brooklyn, NY, based artist, his talent was recognized by Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio (indie rock heavy-hitters and fellow Brooklyn residents). They got him in the studio and produced his album.

The first track, called “Buriedfed” is about MBAR attending his own funeral, albeit still being alive. The song begins with just him and his guitar. It builds throughout, using instrumental and vocal layering. It’s boozy and sober, shaky and strong, all at once. The second track is called “The Debtor” and is at once rhythmic and pretty. It opens with piano and drums, adding other instruments along the way. It culminates at the chorus with the lyrics “I’m not sure that I wanna stay alive/it’s so expensive/it’s cheap to die”. The melody and tone of the instrumentation is juxtaposition with the troubling lyrics. My favorite song from the album is called “My Good Luck”, the sixth track. It is guitar driven and melodic. The lyrics grab you from the first line “Coming over after work/because I’m that kind of jerk”. It’s a higher energy song, and I find myself drawn to this track. You can listen to the album in its entirety over at Lala.

You can also check out this article written last year by Gothamist:

I hope you enjoy this artist and the album as much as I do.

Shanna Farrell is an old friend that will be contributing to my blog regularly. She earned her undergraduate degree in music from Northeastern University in Boston and afterward moved to LA, where she worked in production. She currently lives in New York City where she attends grad school at NYU.

Friday, July 10, 2009


No, not Jesus; singer/songwriter, Ray Lamontagne, illustrated.

A couple cool things (on a hot day)

I thought I'd share a couple things I've been checking out lately:

1. Orlo (The Bear Delux Magazine):

Awesome cover spread for The Bear Delux Magazine's lates issue.

I discovered Orlo by way of The Bear Deluxe Magazine
(Mission statements make life easy, so you'll get a couple today):
"The Bear Deluxe is a national, independent environmental magazine publishing significant works of reporting, creative nonfiction, literature, visual art and design. Based int he Pacific Northwest, The Bear Deluxe reaches across cultrual and political divides to engage readers on vital issues effecting the environment."
Formed in 1993, the magazine caters heavily to the Portland, OR, scene, but anyone can subscribe with a minimum donation of $35 (send check in recyclable envelopes, of course ...)

As for the mission of Orlo itself:
"Since 1992, Orlo has been an innovative voice in the ongoing cultural dialogue about the environment through provocative outreach, education and media productions."

Orlo is a nonprofit organization using the creative arts to explore environmental issues."

Pretty cool. Makes me wonder if enough is being done here in the ADK Park to promote responsible living.

2. The Rainforest Alliance:

If you haven't heard of it before, Rainforest Alliance is the nonprofit that protects rainforests from illegal land-use practices and promotes responsible living in the more general sense.

Now, Rainforest Alliance has been around; what's cool is the updated number of products you and I can buy at the grocery store that are approved by Rainforest Alliance. Products that when you buy them, you know have been produced in a responsible way, "leaving carbon where it belongs," as the motto states.

There are plenty of green living tips on the Web site, but the most important one is "to buy foods grown on farms certified by the Rainforest Alliance. Choose coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, bananas, orange juice, guava, pineapple, passion fruit, plantains, macadamia nuts and flowers that come from healthy farms where rainforest is conserved and workers receive fair treatment. Visit the Rainforest Alliance's SmartHouse to see how easy it is to integrate sustainable products into your everyday life."

So look around for this logo next time you're shopping or donate on the site:

And no, I don't always practice what I preach, but what harm can it do to spread the word?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Poster Art

If you've followed my blog for any time, you know I am a big fan of poster art and screen printing. I don't have any experience screen printing, but I hope to get the materials soon.

I think the reason I like posters so much is because they are proof that print isn't dead; and, coming from someone with little Web knowledge, this is comforting.

I think there will always be a place for posters and print ads as they have the ability to convey a message quicky and effectively.

Anywho, a while back I highlighted the work of Jim Pollock, Phish's poster guru. He does great work, but is just one artist that happens to be in the spotlight. There are many awesome poster artists out there.

I stumbled onto a great blog called "The Poster District" that sheds light on the world of poster art. Check this blog out, it's legit.

Here is a taste:

A poster to promote wind energy, by the famous Shepard Fairey (You've seen his work before ... think Obama. Here is a link to his project, OBEY). You could buy it, but it's SOLD OUT like everything else he creates.

Tenement #1 By Tommy Cinquegrano

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Come out, come out wherever you are ...

By Shanna Farrell, contributing columnist

If summer won’t come to us, I’m going to try to draw it out with more summer music. This week, I’ve got two great summer songs. They both have a fun, light, dancey beat and have a good chance of getting stuck in your head. They might even help those hot, oppressive drives to the beach go by faster (That is, if the Northeast gives us any nice days this summer!).

So, with Fourth of July approaching, I present “Psychic City” by Yacht and “15-20” by The Phenomenal Hand Clap Band.

Hear "Psychic City," by Yacht, here

Hear "15-20," by The Phenomenal Hand Clap Band, here

Yacht is a two piece band, Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans*, from Portland, Oregon. They put on an infectious live show, dancing around stage in a quirky manner (I had the good fortune to see them open for Vampire Weekend last year in LA). They’ve released the single “Psychic City” just in time the summer.

* Fun fact: they also date!

Here is what they have to say about themselves in their mission statement, courtesy of their Web site:

"YACHT is a Band, Belief System, and Business conducted by Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans of Marfa, Texas and Portland, Oregon, USA. All people are welcome to become members of YACHT.
Accordingly, YACHT is and always will be what YACHT is when YACHT is standing before you.
YACHT was formed in 2002 as Y.A.C.H.T., "Young Americans Challenging High Technology." The current incarnation began gestating in 2008, and at this point bears no resemblance, except biologically, to the previous versions. The YACHT of 2009 is the true form of YACHT.
The 2009 form of YACHT is highly indebted to the Mystery Lights of the Far West Texas desert, where most of the new YACHT album, SEE MYSTERY LIGHTS, was written and recorded.
Strictly speaking, YACHT does "perform music." YACHT provides inspiring Teachings of constantly changing elements: PowerPoint presentations, immersive audio, live audience audits, and shamanistic video environments. The YACHT Performance is expressly designed to provide groups of people with catharsis and purification.
YACHT is about group consciousness. YACHT is about the individual man or woman. If you believe these assertions to be contradictory, consider the Triangle: it is both a collection of points and a shape.
The Triangle is also a concept map between three points. But it is not merely a concept.
Secondary interpretation of YACHT and the Triangle is not forbidden, but strongly frowned upon. YACHT is always available for consultation at the source (please e-mail, so misinterpretations are unnecessary and will always be corrected. A general policy of openness and light has been instated.
YACHT believes that to all people have a right to Free thought, Free expression, to write their own opinions freely and to counter, utter, and write upon the opinions of others. There is a difference between Free as in "Free Lunch" and Free as in "Liberated." YACHT believes that music and the Internet will become both in time.
No additional information will be divulged for the time."

The second track is from The Phenomenal Hand Clap Band. They are from Brooklyn and Lower Manhanttan, NY and have a varying line-up, which sometimes includes members of TV on the Radio. Their overall sound is eclectic, citing soul, indie, electronic, rock, and psychedilia influences. Their album, Phenomenal Hand Clap Band, was just released this week. If you’re aching for more, check out their blog.

This band worth watching…

Shanna Farrell is an old friend that will be contributing to my blog regularly. She got her undergraduate degree in music from Northeastern University in Boston and afterward moved to LA, where she worked in production. She currently lives in New York City where she attends grad school at NYU. More impressive than her resume is her knack for mining the music scene for great new music.