Monday, June 28, 2010

Hopscotch, not just a cardiovascular game for kids

By Shanna Farrell
cas:ev contributor

Though I’ve been to a recent Lollapalooza and had a great time, I’m not a huge fan of big music festivals. I find them stressful, hot, and anxiety inducing. With that being said, there is a new festival this year that is making me jump with excitement.

Hopscotch, set in Downtown Raleigh, N.C., happens on September 9 through 11. It is the first year for the festival. Not only is it in early fall (allowing the summer heat and humidity to burn off a bit), it mimics SXSW’s use of multiple venues downtown. It boasts 120 bands and tickets at all venues are just $85 (VIP tickets are $120, but completely sold out).

The line-up features nationally known acts, as well as local up-and-comers. Here’s an added bonus- Public Enemy is headlining! Fortunately, I have family whom live in the area and I will be in attendance. Bands that never disappoint that are playing the festival include Broken Social Scene, No Age, Panda Bear and Atlas Sounds. Also scheduled to perform are Akron/Family, Best Coast, Harvey Milk, The Love Language, Bowerbirds, The Rosebuds, and Woods.
You can check out a full roster here.

Who booked this festival?? Ten points for you, my friend!

Hopscotch’s website has one of the best festival maps I have seen. With nine venues and two outdoor City Plaza shows are all in walking distance from one another, but there are bus routes along the way.

Hopscotch is put on by the area’s Independent Weekly . They are partnering with The Raleigh City Museum, who will be offering a free cultural series throughout that week. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from the festival will go to the Women’s Center of Wake County.

While I in no way, shape, or form am wishing the summer away, I am sincerely cannot wait for this festival.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Phish @ SPAC

I wrote a review of Phish's Saturday night show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center for Hidden Track blog.

I saw Phish for the first time ever last summer at SPAC, but still ventured to write a review. The show rocked, my review ... not so much.

Oh well, I'm improving.


Set 1: Tweezer Reprise[1], Chalk Dust Torture, Funky Bitch, Runaway Jim, Ya Mar, Sample in a Jar, Axilla > Fluffhead, Bathtub Gin, Suzy Greenberg

Set 2: Rock and Roll -> Free, Backwards Down the Number Line, Halfway to the Moon[2] > Prince Caspian > Joy, David Bowie, Show of Life

Encore: The Squirming Coil, Character Zero > Tweezer Reprise

[1] First Tweezer Reprise opener since 11/9/95 (482 shows).
[2] Debut.

This gig featured the first Tweezer Reprise opener since 11/9/95 (482 shows) and the debut of Halfway to the Moon.

Read my reveiw here.

Dr. Dog update

Dr. Dog plays Rev Hall in Februrary

Of all the bands at Mountain Jam this year, Dr. Dog was one I was really looking forward to. I cozied right up to stage 2 while Grace Potter and the Nocturnals were playing the main stage. It was early afternoon on Friday, I had a few pops, and I was ready to rock with the Dog. Unfortunately (for me), Toots and the Mayhals took the stage. I was utterly confused.

I later learned Dr. Dog had to cancel their performance because one of the band member's in Dr. Dog, rhythym guitarist/psychic explorer Frank McElroy, was sick or in the hospital (I heard he was having open heart surgery, but someone might have confused him with Simone Felice of the Felice Brothers, who is now fully recovered and rocking).

The band released the following message in regards to Mountain Jam:

Hey Folks,
We’re writing with some unfortunate news. The story ends with us saying that we will not be playing our scheduled show at Mountain Jam this afternoon. Zach spent most of yesterday in the hospital with a medical issue. We had hoped that he’d begin feeling better as the day went by and that didn’t end up happening. The good news is that Zach is going to be just fine… we’re just not quite sure how long it will take until he can play a show again.

Later in the week, Frank addressed the issue himself, writing:

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for all your kind words, I’m making some progress. I have simple viral infection and I’ve had to just sweat it away here at home. It’s been pretty exciting. I think I’ll be feeling well enough to make it to Bonarroo, and I’m very much looking forward to playing and feeling normal again.

Thanks again to everyone who called or wrote, I really appreciate it.

Love, Zach

I heard they rocked at Bonnaroo. The setlist (courtesy of the milk carton):

Stranger, I Only Wear Blue,The Old Days, Jackie Wants a Black Eye, Army of Ancients, Mirror, Mirror, The Ark, Unbearable Why, MyFriend, Station, Shadow People, Fate,, The Breeze, Where’d All the Time Go, Hang On, Later, The Way the Lazy Do, The Rabbit, The Bat, and the Reindeer.

Dr. Dog will spend the rest of the summer playing music festivals, some out west (High Sierra, Pickathon), and will make some stops on the east coast (the inagural? Life's Good Festival on Sept. 11 in Canton, Mass. and a free show on Governor's Island in NYC on Aug. 15).

Welcome back Frank!


John Prine tribute out today!

Maybe you're like me, and haven't heard of John Prine until recently.

If that's the case, then you're just in time. Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine is slated for release today.

It is a John Prine tribute album featuring an all-star list of neo folksters (and cas:ev favs) such as Bon Iver, My Morning Jacket, Conner Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, The Avett Brothers, Drive By Truckers, Deer Tick, and Old Crow Medicine Show, tackling Prine's classic storytellers.

Prine, 64, is an American song writer whose songs have "found a home in the repertoire of musical luminaries such as Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash and George Strait."

Not bad, partner (feat. voice-over by Sam Elliot).

NPR writes:

"One of America's best storytellers, Chicago-based songwriter John Prine was discovered by Kris Kristofferson. Prine's self-titled debut still stands as one of the best singer-songwriter albums of all time, but he hasn't stayed in the public eye, instead sticking around the margins of cult fame. For a new generation of fans, that's likely to change, thanks in part to a new tribute album titled Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine."

Quick, hear Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows on NPR's First Listen before it's too late!

The best part: You can buy the MP3 album for $3.99 on Amazon!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Thoughts on the new Twilight soundtrack

By Shanna Farrell
cas:ev contributor

What do the Black Keys, Vampire Weekend, Band of Horses, and Beck have in common? The same thing that Thom Yorke, Lykke Li, and Bon Iver had in common- they are all on The Twilight Saga soundtracks.

The upcoming release of “Eclipse” is the third movie in the series. You can find the track list HERE , which includes another round of indie heavy-hitters and up-and-comers. Some of my favorites, including the aforementioned Black Keys, Vampire Weekend (sorry John, but I’m a fan), Bats for Lashes, and Battles are on the soundtrack. Seeing this roster affected me in the same way seeing the “New Moon” line-up did- my heart broke a little. Battles, what are you doing? Fanfarlo, why? How much are you all getting paid for this? (I could not find out this information, though I tried.)

I’m not the only one who feels this way. In a recent interview, Vampire Weekend discussed the backlash they have been getting from fans about their decision to write and record an original track for the movie. Though Vampire Weekend is usually on the receiving end of criticism and are a truly polarizing band, even their biggest fans have been voicing their resentment. And it’s not just fans of Vampire Weekend that are upset , it's many indie music lovers.

This forced me to examine what I am bothered. This has proven to be a good question, one I can’t quite put my finger on. These bands are probably getting big paychecks (which are a good thing) and are definitely getting more exposure (which could also be positive). Music is their livelihood and why start a band and sign to a label is you don’t want to be heard? Perhaps this is what is at the core of my discontentedness. I don’t want these bands to compromise their integrity, “sell out” for a paycheck, or become overexposed to the point of exhaustion. This may be a quick judgment and a mistake on my part. I don’t personally know the people that comprise these bands, so how should I know what “selling out” entails for them? Another reason is that, as indie bands, I feel somewhat privileged for being in the know and connected to their music, loving them when the mainstream isn’t aware of their existence. I understand this comes off as elite, but I don’t want to lose that, as I think might happen when “Eclipse” is released.

In the end, I might need to revise my opinions and reverse my cynicism. The “Eclipse” soundtrack, or any other mainstream choice, could be a favorable decision for my beloved indie bands. Youngsters (or adults) may learn and come to love these bands because of the soundtrack, cultivating a love for music they never knew existed within them. After all, this is how it began for me.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

R.I.P. soldier

War is hit so close home today that I felt the ground shake as I drank my morning coffee ...

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.”

– Dwight D. Eisenhower

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Phantogram do Daytrotter

Johnnie Cluney's Daytrotter illustration of Phantogram

Upstate New York's own street beat/psych pop duo Phantogram, from Saratoga Springs, recorded a Daytrotter session at the Horseshack studio in Rock Island, Illinois, recently. The session includes one unreleased song. Listen to it here.

Mr. Daytrotter writes (so wistfully):

"Phantogram takes a tact of exploring all of these genuine and bleeding human conditions while pairing them with these rainy and steely, programmed and synthesized sounds to make a significant metamorphosis of what happens when it can't be helped what's being felt."

Read Shanna Farrell's post about Phantogram here.

Phantogram got their start with Upstate New York's independent record label, Sub-Bombin, prior to signing with Barsuk Records. Other artists on Sub Bombin include Rawhead, Firefighter Font and Oddy Gato, to name a few.

Monday, June 7, 2010

New Deer Tick

Indie-rock band Deer Tick will release their new album The Black Dirt Sessions tomorrow (June 8) on Partisian.

Listen to "20 miles," off the upcoming release on their MySpace page.

I get the same fix from Deer Tick as from Band of Horses and Drive-By Truckers. It's one part indie, two parts gritty, sun-washed rock and roll.

Lead singer John McCauley sings like a drunk given a microphone after 20 pops at the local water hole, but it's tolerable in moderation.

I missed out seeing them at Valentine's in Albany, but hopefully I get another chance soon.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Casual Listening: Mathematicians

Pete Pythagoras raging. Photo courtesy of Mathematicians MySpace

I recently saw the disco/punk trio The Mathematicians play at a local bar/club. They are a bit like local legends on the music scene in Upstate New York. I had heard about their high-energy live shows and their quirky math-geek modus operandi, and while intrigued, had never before ventured to see a show myself.

Meanwhile, they have been on 11 nationwide tours, tearing up college towns, frat parties, DYI clubs in Mexico, and music clubs in nearby Burlington, Vt., all the while.

Before I go any further, let me explain who The Mathematicians are:
One might argue they are half theater production, half band. Each member has an alias that plays into their "math geek" MO. There's Pete Pythagoras (a.k.a. Nick) on bass, guitar, and lead vocals; Dewi Decimal (a.k.a. Ian) on keyboards, guitar and vocals; and Albert Gorithm IV (a.k.a. Tim) on drums, laptop and vocals.

They go even further with the theme at live shows, wearing lab coats, tech glasses and sweater vests.

When I first heard of them - four or five years ago -I wasn't aware of bands like Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem, Devo or The Talking Heads. But now that I've come to like "disco-punk," I can really appreciate what The Mathematicians have developed into and what they have accomplished on their own- including two albums and a DVD.

Dewi Decimal said they are often compared to Devo, The Talking Heads and The Beastie Boys, but admits they were heavily influenced by 1980s D.C. punk acts like Fugazi.

"We touch on a lot of genres at this point. We wanted to write songs that were fun and people could dance to. We're bringing the pulse to the people," Ian said in an interview.

They are a true "DYI" band, self-producing albums and acting as musicians/technicians at live shows, setting up their electronics, complete with lap tops, homemade light boxes and projections, and plenty of MIDI.

Check these guys out HERE. Buy their songs on iTunes, buy merch on their site. I promise you won't be disappointed. I have a feeling their third studio album, a self-proclaimed "rock" record recorded in a house in rural Salem, NY, will get them noticed.

"The future is wide open," Nick said.

Indeed. Good luck boys, it was a pleasure talking with you.