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Preview: Baby Heisman

Baby Heisman



Showered and blue-blazered



Updated: 2015-09-16T13:06:09.281-07:00

 



Offseason report: The Decemberists w/ the L.A. Philharmonic @ The Hollywood Bowl, 07-07-07

2008-12-09T17:41:06.441-08:00

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Saturday night's show was the Decemberists "Stop Making Sense" moment: A widely popular indie band using extra musicians (in this case, the L.A. Philharmonic) to make their big, sweeping songs even bigger. Frontman Colin Meloy even looked a bit like Talking Heads leader David Byrne in his cream suit with white sneakers — Onitsuka Tigers, to be exact.

Meloy even seemed to mimic Byrne's jog around the "Stop Making Sense" stage on "Life During Wartime" when he ran along the low semicircle wall that separates the first few rows from the rest of the audience during the "Wartime"-influenced "The Prefect Crime."

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But the Decemberists didn't take full advantage of the moment. While the set always captivated, it was ultimately uneven. Some of the songs truly soared in their new form, while others came out too subtle considering the size of the L.A. Phil and the fact that the Decemberists got to the stage because of their sweeping style.

The restrained sound worked wonderfully on opener "The Crane Wife 1 and 2," "We Both Go Down Together" and the closer "I was Meant for the Stage." But the explosion that seemed destined to come on the intense "The Infanta" and "The Bagman's Gambit" never did.

The Philharmonic didn't really roar until "Odalisque," a song from the Decemberists first album, and it proved to be one of the best from the set along with the five-part, 18-minute-long "The Tain."

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The unevenness certainly wasn't due to nerves. Meloy played with the confidence of a songwriter who was finally hearing his songs played the same way they sounded in his head. And maybe that's the best way to look at the show. If the Decemberists were given all the money, instruments and time in the world, this is how their songs would sound.

The Decemberists — Odalisque (MP3)



Offseason report: New Kite Flying Society MP3 on Baby Heisman

2007-07-02T01:10:30.957-07:00

(image) Kite Flying Society was one of the first San Diego bands I got into when I moved here, and they have been really nice to this blog. Dustin, the frontman, did an interview for the blog's debut, and he responds to my e-mails asking how the recording of the second album is going.

The band is keeping up the kindness by releasing an MP3 from their upcoming album, "The Aviary," to Baby Heisman and You Ain't No Picasso, a blog out of Kentucky that got hooked on Kite Flying's first album, "Where Is the Glow."

"Oh Amy!" is a tight, catchy pop song with standout harmonies. It has the same lazy-summer-day feeling and nautical references that made "Where is the Glow" so much fun, but it's also a step forward, fuller and more layered than their debut.

Kite Flying Society -- "Oh Amy!" (MP3)

Dustin says the band has been taking its time recording the album, no quick, throwaway takes, which is why the release of "The Aviary" keeps getting pushed back (September is the newest target). Another reason is the band is getting ready to play the Athens Popfest in Athena, Ga. They're playing the Whistlestop here in S.D. in two weeks, on the 13th, where a number of "Aviary" tracks are sure to be road tested.

If you haven't checked out "Where Is the Glow," even casual indie pop fans (and who isn't these days?) should give it a listen. Kite Flying Society isn't just a great San Diego band; they're a great band period.

Here's two "Where Is the Glow" tracks:

Kite Flying Society — "6000 Shipwrecks" (MP3)
Kite Flying Society — "Submarine Music" (MP3)

Also...

Baby Heisman interview with Dustin of Kite Flying Society



Offseason

2007-06-12T11:15:46.832-07:00

(image) I have some pretty big things coming up over the next month and a half, priorities that trump working on the blog, so I'm going to be taking the Baby Heisman into an "offseason" as a daily blog. I was hoping to keep things going for another week or so, but as you've probably noticed, posts have dwindled a bit in the past few days, and it's not for a lack of things TO post, just finding the time to do it.

I just don't want this blog to turn into some cutsey thing filled with quick-post things like silly YouTube clips, and that's what it'll become if I don't take the time to run it right.

I still plan to post, just not a regular, daily basis. There will still be show reviews, hopefully some MP3 playlists along the way. Think of them as voluntary offseason minicamps if, like me, you want to take the whole football analogy of this blog beyond your actual love of football.

I'll keep you guys posted on how the offseason goes.

-Jeremy
B.H.



The Pipettes @ the Casbah, 6-10-07

2008-12-09T17:41:07.059-08:00

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While most of the people at the Casbah last night would hesitate to admit it, The Pipettes have something in common with Jessica and Ashlee Simpson: they all sing songs, many of them sexy and coy, that were written for them by somebody else. And indie fans tend to be pretty wary of artists who don't write their own music like that. Plus, they've been accused of being imitators. Nobody thinks the Pipettes wear their polka dot dresses around the house any more than Ashlee Simpson is actually a punk rocker.

So why was the Casbah sold out Sunday night when most of the people there would rather watch the stars of American Idol cover Modest Mouse than go to a concert by one of the sisters Simpson? For one, the Pipettes seem like they can carry a tune and a conversation, too. But the big difference is that the Pipettes are imitating a musical style (60s girl groups), where as your American pop stars are trying to imitate past stars' public personas.

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But you have to be in the mood for the campy throwback to enjoy the show. The Pipettes and their four-piece backing band are all solid singers and musicians, but an hour and a half of songs about boys, love and dancing grows a little thin after a while. Their singles got a good portion of the crowd moving, but overall it wasn't an overwhelming show. Nonetheless a pleasant way to end the weekend.

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No Heisman photos, though. It just wouldn't have been gentlemanly to ask someone in that short of a skirt to strike that kind of pose.

Smoosh opened, and the teen sister duo is getting impressively better and better. They've always been a good band, not just good for their age, but their live set is showing real progress. Their keyboard-and-drum setup might not be varied enough yet to carry a headlining set, but songs like "La Pump" and "Find a Way" make their show worth checking out.






The other album out this week

2007-06-06T12:58:07.716-07:00

(image) "Someone to Drive You Home" by The Long Blondes has been out in the U.K. for a number of months and thus available for U.S. downloaders who know where to look. The other 98 percent of the population now has a chance to hear the album, as it got a stateside release Tuesday.

"Someone to Drive You Home" is an album of dense, Blondie-fueled rock. It's a little top-heavy, with the last few songs dragging a bit, but the best songs are good enough to warrant more than a handful of listens. The songs below are two of the best, but not necessarily examples of what the whole album sounds like.

The Long Blondes — Giddy Stratospheres (MP3)
The Long Blondes — Once and Never Again (MP3)



Cashing in: Wilco

2007-06-06T12:48:07.809-07:00

This story has been all over a number of blogs, but in case you missed it...

Wilco licensed a B-side and a track from its latest album, "Sky Blue Sky," for Volkswagen, and in five days (Friday to Tuesday) there was a little Wilcogate going on. Wilco has a lot of indie cred as an artistically pure (or just artistically good) band, so the idea of their music in a car commercial made some people flinch.

The band released a statement on their Web site, explaining the ads by saying, in part: "This is a subject we've discussed internally many times over the years regarding movies, TV shows and even the odd advertisement. With the commercial radio airplay route getting more difficult for many bands (including Wilco); we see this as another way to get the music out there. As with most of the above (with the debatable exception of radio) the band gets paid for this. And we feel okay about VWs. Several of us even drive them."

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By the way, have you ever noticed that the "V-Dub in da house" guy in those other Volkswagen commercials is the same guy who played Steve Buscemi's quiet partner in "Fargo?"

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From a tan Sierra to a sweet V-Dub



The Hold Steady @ Canes 6-1-07

2008-12-09T17:41:07.785-08:00

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If you didn't go to Friday night's Hold Steady concert, you probably missed the last chance to see them before the frat boys get wise to them. Actually, it's surprising they haven't already.

Something certainly seemed to be changing Friday night. A Hold Steady crowd is always rowdy, but this one quickly turned into a full-on mosh pit, with people pushing each other as far and as hard as they could and even a couple of short-lived attempts at crowd surfing.

A mosh pit almost a decade after Limp Bizkit died for our sins. Absurd.

The band itself was far from absurd, performing a nearly flawless mix of songs from all three of their albums. They played the mainstays off their latest album, "Boys and Girls in America," bangers like "Hornets! Hornets!" and "Barfruit Blues," and ballads like "Citrus" and "Killer Parties."

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They also piled on praise for the city, giving a shoutout to Swami Records and declaring that the cool people move to San Diego, not L.A. or San Fran. It wasn't just "it's great to be in [city name here]" lip service, as the band has randomly mentioned in interviews with papers in other cities how much they dig the San Diego crowd.

"You've played San Diego, like, three times..."

"Three? More like six!" keyboardist Franz Nicolay said, cutting me off before I could say "...on this record alone" while we were talking outside after the show. I told him that, considering how many bands skip San Diego or barely make it here, it meant a lot that they had come so often. His eyes lit up with genuine appreciation.

He also did one of the best Heisman poses yet, giving the stiff-arm to a member of opening band Illinois.

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For more, better photos from the show than mine, check out Natalie's blog "It's Too Sunny Out Here." It's not strictly a music blog, but she writes about music a lot, and she takes great concert photos, like these here...



My City's a Sucker: Canes

2007-06-04T23:46:18.016-07:00

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I tried to get back into Canes after the Hold Steady show to try to talk to the rest of the band — I stepped out barely and briefly to find my friends – but the security guard said no dice. I offered to show my ID, reminded him that the show was over and there was no danger of the club hitting even half-capacity. He responded by pointing to the "NO RE-ENTRY" sign above the door with a choice digit that wasn't his index finger.

(image) I thought that was an unnecessary move, but the rules are the rules, the sign was clearly posted, so I was letting it slide. But then two of my friends who watched what happened decided they would try to get back in. One by one, they succeeded.

So if you're ever at Canes and there's a skinny, squirrely guy working the door who looks like DJ Qualls from "Hustle and Flow," just point at someone behind the merch table and say you're with that guy from the band. That gets you back in.

Also, if you confront him about it afterward, he'll move away from the door and then your friends can sneak in behind him.

And it's a rock club; it doesn't need a men's room attendant.



Knocked Up

2007-06-04T16:45:59.669-07:00

Besides being a great movie (more on that in a sec) "Knocked Up" uses music wonderfully, from pop to Loudon Wainwright III to maybe the best use of The Clash's "Police on My Back" ever in a movie.

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Refreshingly, the movie doesn't call attention to the songs. There's no "I will now sell three copies of the new Beta Band album" or "The Shins will change your life" moments. The music just enhances the scene. Even when Paul Rudd's character wears a shirt with the cover of Tom Waits' "Rain Dogs," it fits his character and the situation perfectly.

The movie itself is a joy. If writer/director Judd Apatow ("The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and the sadly short-lived TV shows "Undeclared" and "Freaks and Geeks") isn't the next Albert Brooks, he's certainly Brooks' best student. The movie is constantly hilarious, never settling for the easy joke or slapstick stunt — a true feat considering that pot is nearly a character in the movie. But Apatow also hits that off-kilter, real-life feeling of relationships that Brooks did so well.

At one point, after the main characters get pregnant and fail to make a relationship work, Seth Rogen's character calls his dad, nearly in tears, nearly begging him just to tell him what to do. It's a simple line, and there's comedy in it. But anyone in their mid-to-late 20s knows just how deep the truth in that one scene goes.

"Knocked Up" is a different kind of adult comedy: one that teens and college students will find funny, but they'll find a lot more in it once they're older.

P.S. ... DON'T put "knocked up" into a Google images search with the filter off while you're at work or around kids. Just FYI.



Hold Steady concert preview 1: Why are these guys such a big deal?

2008-12-09T17:41:07.914-08:00

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I was not an immediate convert to the church of The Hold Steady.

And it is a church. The texts are full of people we've never met and places we've never seen, but we know all about them nonetheless. Alcohol also plays an intricate, symbolic part.

The faithful, most of them evangelical, would try to convert me, suggesting psalms and trying to get me to come to a service. I tried but just didn't feel it. The actual music was good but, in part because I am a Springsteen fan, I bristled at the Boss comparisons. Sure, Bruce packed a lot of words into his lyrics, but they fit the beat. Craig Finn's lyrics were Bruce-worthy, but at times he spewed his words as though there was no beat at all.

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Then came "Boys and Girls in America" last year. The music got even better, as did Finn's lyrics, which he even started fitting to the music. Not only did the album soar, it unlocked their two previous, messier records. All the parts came together, and, as the song goes, "then I got born again." I was a convert.

The Hold Steady — Stuck Between Stations (MP3)
The Hold Steady — Stevie Nix (MP3)

Now here I am, preaching to the unconverted, saying that I was once like you, but The Hold Steady really are that good.

Tonight's show at Canes got me thinking about what exactly makes The Hold Steady so exciting. Sure, there's big guitar riffs, and the songs are about drinking, girls and regret, but not in that Bon Jovi kind of way. That's a sure hit for my 20-something-guy set, plus plenty of others. But right now you're probably thinking of another of your favorite bands that fit the description.

The difference is that a Hold Steady concert makes us feel the way we did at our first concert.

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And while many of us might be embarrassed to name that band, there's no embarrassment with these guys. Jump up and down, sing or yell along with the words, raise your tall boy can of beer in the air. It's all good. The band is having just as much fun on stage. That's what they mean when they talk about making their concerts a big party. It's all-inclusive and all-accepting, the kind of mantra so many other religions preach but rarely follow.

Amen.



Hold Steady concert preview 2: For the fans, a drinking game

2007-06-01T01:47:38.516-07:00

Fans of the Hold Steady know that it's pretty hard not to have a beer during their shows. So why not a drinking game? It looks like the Philly City Paper devised one, but it was back in 2005, before their most-recent album, and it was pretty basic. Drink each time the Mississippi River or an allusion to being resurrected is mentioned. Stuff like that.

I'm sure other people have done one, but here's the Baby Heisman Hold Steady Drinking Game. I tried to pick some less-obvious, more-concert-oriented options. I'm leaving this post photo-free so you can easily print it out and take it with you in case you forget a couple of rules after the first couple of beers.

Take a drink when:

* Craig Finn sticks his arms out to each side, like he's spreading his wings, to punctuate a line

* There's a keyboard solo

* A lyric mentions Ybor City or Massachusetts

* Craig steps away from the mic toward to the crowd and repeats the lyrics

* Craig takes a drink


Enjoy your tall boys, kids. And for god sake's, just take a cab. Here, click here and get the number of one NOW.



Notes for the weekend

2007-06-01T10:18:40.501-07:00

For me, this weekend is all about the Hold Steady tonight, but there's a couple of other things I wanted to mention.The CD release show by L.A. indie pop band Great Northern tonight at the Beauty Bar is being hosted by two of San Diego's best bloggers: Rosey from S.D. Dialed in and Lyn from Chickrawker.Info about the show and some MP3sGreat Northern on MySpaceIf Hold Steady weren't playing, I'd absolutely be at this show because the band is really good, and it's doubly cool for S.D. music and S.D. music blogs that Rosey and Lyn are attached to the show. Both blogs are insightful, well-written and serve a niche. S.D. Dialed In has the most comprehensive gig listings in town and Chickrawker is a one-stop shop for the songs that are getting added, dropped and played from modern rock radio. Both tasks are time-consuming and done with passion, an that's ON TOP of the great general music blogging they do. Links to both sites are in the Hometown Heroes list on the right of the blog.Ladies, my crew is at the next gig you sponsor. Promise.Two great San Diego bands, Kite Flying Society and Emery Byrd, are playing the El Cajon Concerts on the Green series tonight, too. It's from 6-8 p.m., the perfect time for an outdoor show and worth the drive. Plus, it's early, so you can catch Hold Steady or Great Northern afterward.El Cajon Concerts on the Green Web sitePast Baby Heisman interview with Dustin of Kite Flying SocietyEmery Byrd on MySpaceIf you ARE going to see Hold Steady, both opening bands are worth a listen. The first one, Blitzen Trapper, is a kind of indie/folk/country mashup of styles from Portland with a new album out in a couple of months. They recently caused some blog buzz with a cover of Heart's "Crazy On You" for a compilation CD. A good friend thinks they'll be the indie breakout band of the summer. I'm not so sure, but here's a chance to find out.Blitzen Trapper on MySpaceThe second band is Illinois, which played the Casbah a couple months back and is almost universally being called a good band on record and an effing great band live. Don't miss out.Illinois on MySpaceAnd, as Rosey says, people complain there isn't anything to do in San Diego. Night like this, that's impossible to argue.[...]



"Girls Rock"

2007-05-31T11:50:15.125-07:00

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While in Seattle over the weekend, I saw a really good documentary about the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls called "Girls Rock." I knew the camp existed because of my fanaticism for Sleater-Kinney — Carrie Brownstein has been involved with it from the beginning — but I knew little else.

At the week-long camp, girls form bands, get instruction from musician volunteers and special guests like Brownstein and Beth Ditto of the Gossip and write an original song, which they perform at a showcase in Portland at the end of the week.

The documentary follows girls ranging in age from 7 to 17 as they go through the universal bonding and strife of being in a band.

The documentary, made by two first-time filmmakers, superbly shows how being in a band frequently mimics the drama of being an adolescent, let alone being a girl, and how being in a band also helps deal with those issues. The movie also reminds music fans that, for all the cool that a band exudes, it starts with someone standing up and suggesting a lyric or a riff, and that takes more courage than most people have. Seeing these girls, many of whom had little musical background, learn an instrument or suggest lyrics for the first time in a group of strangers was powerful.

The movie doesn't beat you over the head with these points. Like a good documentary, it follows a handful of the girls through the week and lets the themes rise up as a result. There are some montages in between showing statistics about girls and growing up that don't really work. While we may not know the specific number of girls who are pressured to diet or how much sex is on MTV, we know the numbers are big and where that influence fits into the importance of something like the rock camp.

The movie, which played at the Seattle International Film Festival, just got a distributor and will be shown in wider release this fall. No dates or cities have been named yet, but the movie is a joy for casual music fans and a must-see for music junkies.

The camp itself is a nonprofit group that doesn't turn away any camper if she can't pay the registration fee. It raises money from ticket sales at the showcase, and there's even a Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Women, a fundraiser that gives grown-ups the same experience.

For more info:

Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls homepage

"Girls Rock" documentary homepage

"Girls Rock" on Myspace, with songs from some of the bands



New Pornographers update

2007-05-30T13:41:27.506-07:00

The New Pornographers show on Sept. 18 will be at the House of Blues. Looks like the whole gang will be there, including Neko Case and even Dan Bejar, who actually toured with them for the first time after the release of their last, fantastic, album, "Twin Cinema." Tix on sale June 16.

Most indie fans know that Neko is also an alt-country soloist and that Bejar has his own solo career as Destroyer. Many even know about frontman Carl Newman's first power-pop group, Zupano. The music site Culture Bully traces the Pornographers' roots even deeper.

Also, the band posted the first song from its upcoming album, "Challengers."

The New Pornographers — My Rights Versus Yours (MP3)

The album is out in August and this appears to be the album artwork. You can't really see it in the photo, but "NEKO" is tattooed on the guy's knuckles, which is a cool touch, but otherwise this cover is a mess. I'm a fan of their past DIY-style, understated album covers, so maybe it's just not my thing, but we DEFINITELY don't need to add another silly 70s mustache to the indie-rock lexicon.

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A Sasquatch showdown, just for fun

2008-12-09T17:41:08.337-08:00

A festival named Sasquatch was a fitting place to see a mythological musical rarity: the double-neck guitar.

Both The Hold Steady's Tad Kubler and Viva Voce's Anita Robinson rocked a "guitar that's, like, two guitars," as Otto from the Simpsons so aptly put it, and it sparked a debate in our group over who rocked the double-neck the hardest.

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Like the recent Oscar de la Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather fight, this bout would go the distance and be decided on the cards. The Hold Steady was on the mainstage and Viva Voce was on one of the sidestages, so Anita was fighting in a higher weight class. But this is a woman who proudly, melodically declares "we do not fuck around." So that's a draw.

Tad had on a Mastodon band T-shirt, which is a solid musical reference, but it looked no better or worse than the hundreds of band T-shirts worn over the weekend. Anita rocked a cowboy hat with style, something many concert-goers tried and failed to do. Point for Viva Voce.

But the double-neck guitar is all about rock 'n' roll excess, and Tad took that to new heights by having one neck be a 12-string, while both of Antia's were standard 6-strings.

Advantage Hold Steady, by a 4-3 judges' decision.



Notes from Sasquatch

2008-12-09T17:41:09.186-08:00

I spent a long weekend in Seattle and spent Saturday at the first day of the Sasquatch music festival. The trip was a last hurrah with one of my best friends before she moves to the Midwest for grad school, so I wasn't really in blogger mode. Besides, if people are interested enough in the "experience" of a certain festival to want to read about it, they're probably interested enough to go to it.But I did come back with some general music notes:If you're going to Lollapalooza or the Austin City Limits fest later this summer, do not miss Ghostland Observatory. The Austin duo absolutely tore up one of the Sasquatch side stages. Their set was part LCD Soundsystem and part Iggy Pop, which — you're exactly right — is not a comparison to be taken lightly. But as Thomas Turner and his sky-blue cape worked the keys and synth, frontman Aaron Behrens and his two chest-long braids commanded the stage with an energy worthy of the punk icon.I've kind of slept on the band. I listened to part of their "Paparazzi Lightning" album last year and liked it, didn't love it, and never really got back to it. On Saturday, the live versions of those songs destroyed the recorded ones. Ghostland came through San Diego back in February, and right now they just have a few festival dates planned. So if you make a festival pilgrimage, seek them out.Ghostland Observatory — Sad Sad City (MP3)Ghostland Observatory on MySpaceIt might not seem noteworthy to say that all five of us in my group agreed that the Arcade Fire put on the day's best set. But considering that it was a truncated repeat of the San Diego show just a month ago — same opening movie with the female evangelist, same video screens on stage, same band interaction — and considering we were packed into a festival crowd a hundred feet away from the stage, I expected a little bit of a drop-off. No way. From the first haunting, washed-out notes of "Black Mirror" to the finale of "Power Out," "Rebellion (Lies)" and "Wake Up," the band captivated as usual.Every time The Arcade Fire kicked into the "Ohhh, ohhh, ohhh" chorus of "Wake Up," the congregation overpowered the sound of the choir, just another religious moment from a band that is a must-see regardless of the situation.The Arcade Fire — Wake Up (MP3) On record, Portland band The Blow is singer Khaela Maricich and beat maker Jona Bechtolt; on stage, it's usually just Maricich and the recorded beats, as Bechtolt works on his solo project, YACHT.But Maricich has a solo project of her own: performance artist, and she incorporates that into her set. She tells the stories behind the songs before them, during their musical interludes and after them. It's not a concert in the traditional sense, but it was almost better, especially these days when some artists barely utter a thank-you during a show.The Blow — Parentheses (MP3)Finally, seeing a show at The Gorge amphitheater should be on any music fan's to-do list. I had heard how beautiful the venue was and had seen photos, but photos only give a sense of it. (Click on the photos to see them full-size)The wide views from the hill are breathtaking, but so is the "view" from down by the mainstage. Because you're so far down into the Columbia River Gorge, you can barely see any land from behind the stage. It makes you feel like you're up in the sky among the clouds.[...]



Back after the weekend

2007-05-25T10:19:31.019-07:00

see ya

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Post-hype album reviews

2007-05-25T01:55:36.728-07:00

The pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman once suggested waiting something like a year to listen to an album, supposedly to avoid any hype and hear it in its "purest" form possible. That's just another shock-value statement from a writer who has to keep shocking to keep a job. (He once suggested that Muhammad Ali invented rap, getting him a piece of ESPN's coverage of an Ali anniversary.) Waiting kills half the point of music: the fun and anticipation of a new album. If my long-distance girlfriend is coming back to town, I'm not going to wait a week after she gets back to see her; I'm going to meet her at the airport.But I'm also not going to have her set up a Webcam so I can follow every moment of her journey home. It's true that many blogs hype music so hard that bandwagons turn into backlashes before most people even hear the music. And try as we might, hype influences what we think of new music. Or the best songs from a leaked album get posted, leading to letdown when the rest of the album doesn't match up.With that in mind, here are some post-hype reviews of some of the most buzzed-about albums of the spring season so far, with a playlist of tracks from the albums. I tried to pick tracks to give a sense of the album, not just the best songs on it: Feist — The Reminder: Reviews ranged from "watching a pitcher throw a no-hitter" to "could make even Dick Cheney weep." It's hard to blame them. For fans of Feist's breakout "Let It Die," just hearing her fragile voice sing new songs is enough to swoon, like seeing a crush who's screwed you over more than once wearing a new dress; you can't help it. But, unlike the New York Times says, this isn't the album that will make her a mainstream star. It starts extremely strong but falters 3 minutes and 55 seconds into track four, "The Park," when Feist pushes her voice one notch too far. It ends strongly, though, with "1234" sounding much more important without its cutsey, Gap-commercial-style dance video. Lines like "1,2,3,4 / tell me that you love me more / sleepless, long nights / that was what my youth was for" are chilling close to Joni Mitchell-worthy.Scouting report: A solid effort from a talented singer, but not necessarily a step forward, other than that most of the songs are hers and not covers. If you've only HEARD OF her, best to start with "Let It Die" and fall in love with her there. Lil' Wayne — Da Drought 3: Best rapper alive or only rapper alive? Lil' Wayne is probably both. Everything that's compelling and confounding about this two-disc, free-to-download mixtape only grows with multiple listens. You keep finding nuggets of witty wordplay, like "Am I crazy for being Wayne? / Or is Wayne just crazy? / I've been around, I'm still around / like the Geico cavemen (he makes crazy rhyme with cavemen). But it also frustrating that the rapper who professes to having "money on my mind" won't get into a studio with a top producer and turn these lines into a platinum, career-changing (and maybe rap-game-changing) album.Scouting report: Worth downloading, and not just because it's free. There's plenty of free music that still isn't worth downloading. It's 5-8 tracks too long, but you can cut out the ones you don't like and make your own mix. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky: Anyone who wants to see Pitchfork's sway over Indie Nation only has to look at the review of "Sky Blue Sky," which called the album "dad-rock." Suddenly, every blog review and comment on a review was framed by that. Once all of that dissolves away, "Sky Blue Sky" is one of the best albums of the season. It's a win-win situation. [...]



Return of the New Pornographers? (Plus the Pipettes and Smoosh)

2007-05-25T02:07:39.819-07:00

The Casbah's Web site, under the "shows outside the Casbah" section, says The New Pornographers will return to San Diego on Sept. 18. It lists all the members, including Neko Case and recluse sometimes-member/cult hero Dan Bejar and says tix go on sale June 16.

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But it doesn't say where the thing will be held. It feels like it will be at the Belly Up in Solana Beach based on the price and the fact that the Pornos played there on their last two tours.

The band's last album, "Twin Cinema," remains my favorite record of 2005 (suck it, Sufjan Stevens). It's highly recommended if you're into power pop at all. Their new album is set to come out later this summer.

The New Pornographers -- The Bleeding Heart Show (MP3)

Also ... the show by girl-group throwback The Pipettes on June 10 is now officially the 94.9 Indie Jam afterparty, and Smoosh -- two tween sisters from the Northwest who aren't just good for tweens but just plain good -- has been added to the bill.

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Smoosh — Find a Way (MP3)

The Pipettes -- We Are the Pipettes (MP3)

The Pipettes -- Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me (MP3)

Past Baby Heisman post on The Pipettes

Past Baby Heisman Post on the 94.9 Indie Jam



Warren Zevon appreciation day

2007-05-24T13:36:09.123-07:00

Perhaps no other musician has seen his songs made famous by other people more than Warren Zevon. Maybe Dylan, but he doesn't quite count because he has plenty of quintessential songs on his own.Zevon came into his own in the 70s, writing his own music and songs for Jackson Browne and Linda Rondstat, who championed Zevon's work and recorded versions of a number of his songs.Not as famous as Springsteen, cool as Tom Waits or purely vocally talented as Nick Drake, Zevon has always been a bit of an also-ran in the indie world among the idolized 1970s troubadours, which is a shame. Zevon's songs have an edge and bone-dry wit that's much deeper than the "Aw-ooooooh" of "Werewolves of London" and hard to find today. Plus the music itself doesn't sound dated at all.Music fans of all ages can catch up with Zevon, as three of his albums have been remastered this month and his widow has written an (authorized) biography ("Put in the bad stuff," he told her). The albums include "Excitable Boy," which almost feels like a greatest hits album with tracks like "Werewolves," "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner," and "Accidentally Like a Martyr."Zevon was never as popular as his contemporaries, but he partied like a rock star, once saying he got to live Jim Morrison's life, just for longer. When he contracted terminal cancer, he decided to go out like a rock star. He recorded a farewell album, "My Ride Is Here," but started beating back the cancer, so he took the time, brought in big guests like Browne and Springsteen and recording "The Wind," which stands as one of his finest.In between, he spoke with chilling frankness to David Letterman, another of his champions who dedicated the entire show to Zevon. They talked about facing death with no regets, and Zevon performed three songs, including "Roland."(On the episode of Conan afterward, Sleater-Kinney made their network TV debut; suffice to say I didn't sleep much that night.)Zevon probably won't ever have the status he deserves, but it's under-appreciated artists who create new generations of music junkies ... and musicians, and Zevon's influence can be heard all over music today.Happy Warren Zevon Appreciation Day.[...]



My City's NOT a Sucker: Peter, Bjorn & John

2007-05-24T10:25:06.509-07:00

Indie sensation turned alt-radio sensation Peter, Bjorn & John hadn't stopped in San Diego in the six months since their latest album started getting all its buzz. The band was not touring extensively, but they had played L.A. and Coachella without popping in to say hi.

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No more, as the Young Folks'ers will play the House of Blues on Aug. 1 (they may not tour a ton, but, when they do, they plan ahead), a day after playing in L.A.

Peter, Bjorn & John — Young Folks (MP3)
Peter, Bjorn & John — Amsterdam (MP3)



Jesus walks with M.I.A.

2007-05-23T14:59:16.831-07:00

It was only a matter of time before this happened...

"Bird Flu," suspected to be on M.I.A.'s sophomore album, "Kala," is a certified banger. It's on the Brit/Sri Lanka rapper's Myspace page and, of course, ripped onto a number of blogs, including this one. But it's not been officially released in any way.

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That hasn't stopped a remix of the unreleased song — truly an "only in the music blog world" phenomenon. That said, the track uses the chain-gang chant of Kanye West's "Jesus Walks" to do exactly what a remix should: Make the song just as good, just in a different way.

Highly recommended:

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Bonus track: a silky smooth mash-up using T.I.'s 2006 instant classic "What You Know." Takes the song from something you play while cruising in your Land Rover to something you play while lounging on the porch on a hot day.

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Rip City!

2007-05-23T14:26:20.275-07:00

A lot's changed since E-40 rhymed "fat wallets" with "Rasheed Wallace." E-40 graduated up from only being known in hip-hop circles and dorm rooms, and 'Sheed got traded from the Blazers to the Pistons, won rings, didn't have to be the go-to guy anymore and mellowed out into the NBA's cranky-but-loveable uncle instead of its drunk, abusive dad.

But absolutely everything changed last night when the Blazers won the first pick in the lottery. As the only pro sports team in Oregon, the Blazers are literally an emotionally the Padres and Chargers combined, and for the die-hards who stuck with the team, this is as exciting as watching LT break free for an 80-yard touchdown or Jake Peavy throw 20 strikeouts. A Tony Gwynn? We got that, too.

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Oden or Durant? Is this good for the league? Will the Blazers make the playoffs next year? I'm leaving the opining to the skilled Oregonian writers, basketball blogs and ESPN (the Fox News Channel of sports). But I will just say this...

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Let's play the feud

2007-05-22T11:03:18.165-07:00

About five years ago, 50 Cent pretty much ended rapper Ja Rule's career with a couple of blistering dis tracks in one of the better rap feuds since Biggie and 2Pac got shot and things got heavy. 50 really played up the idea that Ja wasn't a hardcore rapper, and some of it was exaggerated, but a dude can only make so many "Grease"-inspired music videos before he brings it on himself. Next thing you know, everyone from Busta Rhymes to Fat Joe were piling it on and — poof — Ja Rule disappeared.

But as 50 continuously slides into Ja territory with tracks using increasingly absurd metaphors for his prowess with the ladies, it was only a matter of time before somebody decided to take on 50 with his own weapons.

Over the past few weeks, Cam'ron (of "60 Minutes" no-snitching fame) and 50 have been going at each other, and it's been a cheesy soap opera at best. In the latest installment, Cam responded to 50's insinuation that he was in hiding by hanging out in socks, boxer shorts and a wife beater by his pool and saying he's on vacation.
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50's response: “My whirlpool is bigger than Cam’s swimming pool.
And he shouldn’t be in front of no camera with daisy dukes on.”

The video came out last week, but it was 50's response Friday that realy sparked this post. Those are probably the two best lines 50 has written since "Get Rich or Die Tryin'"

There might not be two rappers out there now who need more motivation than Cam and, certainly, 50. The question is, do they even want the motivation? Cam'ron seems happy painting himself as the crazy street underdog, and 50 seems fine cashing in on quasi-rap pop songs about his magic stick, candy shop and roller coaster. Those are their angles, the money-making niches they've carved out for each other.

But here's to hoping this will push them both to write more of the blistering hip-hop that made them stars in the first place.