Wednesday, February 28, 2007

John McCain is running for president!!!!!!

Tonight John McCain is announcing on Letterman that he's running for president in 2008. Better than Leno (that's a total Giuliani move) but it's still sad because everybody already knows he's running and John Edwards already did this when he announced his 2004 run on The Daily Show.

It feels played out and copycat ... kind of like when they made M.C. Hammer put out a gangsta rap album in the 90s because that was what was hot then.

See, I brought it around to music.

Although, maybe the Funky Headhunter is just what rap needs to break out of its slump.

My City's a Sucker: Wednesday roundup

The blog Stereogum talks up Pinback frontman Rob Crow's latest band, Other Man. Gush practically comes out their noses, and, in the process, they inadvertently point out one of the big flaws of the San Diego music scene: we need fresh blood.

Other Man isn't just the latest in the long line of Rob Crow bands and solo projects. It's actually a renamed version of Heavy Vegetable, a Crow band that broke up in the 90s. The lead track from the new album, out March 20, sounds recycled and features the kind of lyrics usually reserved for an eighth-grader's poetry book. I won't ruin the surprise, but "girl" and "bitch" are in the first 30 seconds, which sounds even sillier considering his indie pop voice.

Other Men — Other People (MP3)

He's releasing the album on his own label, called Robcore Records. Because his name is Rob and he's ... hardcore? First sign of narcissism: name your label after yourself. Even rappers don't usually do that.

I know Crow is beloved in S.D., and maybe if I grew up here I'd feel differently. But it all just feels like variations on the same theme. Try sticking with one thing and pushing it to the limit. Ryan Adams writes reams of songs and look where it got him.

But, bear in mind, this is who we're dealing with here:

Ben Gibbard of Death Cab will go on a solo tour that will skip San Diego. There is an L.A. date, though.

Tickets for Regina Spektor's April 29 show at the House of Blues go on sale Friday. Her song "Fidelity" was one of my favorites of 2006.

Regina Spektor — Fidelity (MP3) (Highly Rec.)
Regina Spektor — On the Radio (MP3)

In a review of Monday night's Sebadoh show at the Casbah, Pitchfork referred to San Diego's beloved concert venue and it's padded back wall as an "asylum-chic stage." Photos from the show were taken by new Pfork freelancer and San Diegan Christopher Wilson, who takes photos for Seattle group Band of Horses' tours and albums and has shot a number of other bands.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My city's a sucker for Bono

The interfaith symposium on the death penalty at the San Diego Islamic Center last week was about to begin when U2 frontman Bono stepped out of the audience. He got up and sang “One” and later stayed for photos and autographs.

Maybe you can guess where this is going.

It was actually Pavel Sfera, a professional Bono impersonator and ardent death penalty opponent who left the some in awe, others certain they met the real deal, and a conference organizer upset.

Sfera is a former San Diegan who has played in a number of U2 cover bands. He lives in Chicago now and was back in Southern California recently for a handful of Bono impersonation gigs.

In an interview with Baby Heisman, he said a friend with the S.D. chapter of Amnesty International knew he was passionate about the death penalty - along with all of Bono's humanitarian causes - and asked if he wanted to attend the conference. He said that, because of the gigs, he only had his “Bono clothes” with him. Photos that people took with him at the conference Thursday night show him sporting the Bono-trademark hairstyle, stubble, black jacket and tinted shades.

A college student in the audience said that when a woman helping moderate the conference introduced Sfera as Bono, he didn’t try to dissuade the crowd.

Sfera told the imam of the Clairemont mosque that he wasn’t actually the U2 frontman, “but he wasn’t hearing it; I said it twice,” Sfera said in an accent that sounds more Eastern European than Irish.“I’ve come to the point where, no matter what I say, they aren’t going to hear it,” Sfera said. “People hear what they want to hear.” He added that he doesn’t sign Bono’s name on autographs, only a brief message such as “peace and love” or “God bless,” which the student in the audience, who got a photo with Sfera, confirmed. (Photo below)

But Kent Peters, one of the conference organizers, said it wasn’t just a case of mistaken identity. He said a member of San Diego’s anti-death-penalty community had told him that Bono would attend.

He said the idea didn’t seem too far-fetched because the topic of the conference fit with Bono’s humanitarian interests.

“But five minutes before we started, he turned to me and said it’s not Bono, that it’s an impersonator,” Peters said. “It was really uncomfortable.”

Peters, a leader in the local chapter of California People of Faith Working Against the Death Penalty, said he hasn’t had a chance to talk to the person who told him Bono was coming to find out what happened.

Peters called the incident “a mild distraction,” especially because of the opportunity to quell stereotypes that Muslims are violent supporters of the death penalty. But he also said it left him “disappointed, embarrassed and angry all at the same time.”

He said that, during a break in the conference for Islamic prayer, he went around trying to tell organizers and others that Sfera wasn’t Bono. And Sfera said "I think, by and large, most people recognize that I'm not really him." But days after the symposium, a man who answered the phone at the Islamic Center was adamant that Bono did attend.

“No, it was him. He was just passing by in the city,” said the man, who declined to give his name.

Pavel Sfera homepage
California People of Faith Working Against the Death Penalty
Islamic Center of San Diego

And via YouTube:

Best story of the day

(Spoken in that Grammy-presenter kind of voice) There are many steps to releasing an album.

One of those steps, definitely, is to let the lead singer know.

Label withdraws Deep Purple album after complaint

I haven't written about Guns N Roses and "Chinese Democracy" because it's music news about as much as Anna Nicole Smith is national news. But maybe this Deep Purple story offers a good idea: Maybe someone just needs to take the masters and release 'em. Pay to send Axl on a nice vacation for a couple of weeks and ... just ... put ... it ... out. What's he going to do? He's already pissed and weird and reclusive.

OK, since we're NOW talking about it, HMV, a U.K. CD/DVD/video game store, recently put this up on its Web site:

You save eight quid! So, Sept. 17 in U.K., which means Sept. 18 in the U.S.

It won't come out. Ever.

My City's a Sucker: Rufus Wainwright forgets where he is

Considering his love for the stage, it's not surprising that Rufus Wainwright's live shows border on Broadway. There's costume changes, witty banter and a few over-the-top covers. The sound at his shows is perfect, crisp and clear without the fuzz of other rock shows.

But it's still not Broadway. Maybe I'm getting miserly in my late 20s, but tickets for Rufus' show April 28 at the Belly Up are $35.

If you fancy the cost, he'll be playing with a full band and likely will be playing songs off his new album, "Release the Stars," which comes out May 15.

Emo is killing our children!

If there's one thing I hate more than emo, it's gotta be local TV news. A blistering expose on the dangers of emo lifestyle, courtesy of WDAZ in Grand Forks, North Dakota:

Such an eye-opener. I mean, this surveillance photo of emo-hero AFI just reinforces it. That couch must be dangerously filthy! It's 10 p.m.; do you know if your children are sitting on filthy couches?

Seriously, though, this is the same teen angst dressed in a different outfit. If teens are cutting themselves and contemplating suicide, it's not because of a lifestyle. It's because something bigger is going on/going wrong. Blaming it on grunge/goth/emo a disservice to youth. "Heathers" was just a movie; nobody is killing themselves for fun.

However, if your kid is buying My Chemical Romance action figures, then it's time to intervene and buy him/her a copy of the first Clash record. Just my opinion.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sak vide pa kanpe

According to a Google search (I'm not going to play like I knew this), it's a Creole proverb meaning "An empty sack cannot stand up." You could see it, written in tape, on Win Buter's guitar during the Arcade Fire's performance on SNL last night — until he smashed the thing to pieces.

Smashing a guitar on SNL right before your rabidly anticipated new album comes out: Cool? Cliched? Just plain dumb?

Before answering, consider that one of his strings clearly broke about halfway through the song. At the end he seemed to let out his frustration, pulling out the rest of them and then pounding the acoustic into the ground. or maybe he was frustrated about the bad, vocal-drowning mix. Now, cool, cliched or just plain dumb?

Meanwhile, Hard, Cutting has a good rundown with some backstage action.

I can't stop listening to Of Montreal

Why play it cool? That's how it is.

Of Montreal's latest album is experimental/artsy/arty right down to its title, "Hissing Fauna, are You the Destroyer?" (Think that's bad? Wait until you see the song titles.) The songs are manic, with lyrics like "Come on mood, shift/shift back to good again/come on be a friend" shifting into synth-heavy choruses. The end of the album sounds more like Prince than Bukowski.

The track "A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger" (I warned you about the song titles) is my favorite song so far in this young year. "I spent the winter on the verge of total break/down while living in Norway/I felt the darkness of the black metal bands" plays over the kind of disco beat you could see Madonna doing wrist rolls to a la the "Hung Up" video.

How's THAT for avant garde?

But like some albums that get slapped with the experimental tag, you don't need 10 listens to get into this one. You WILL find something new about it on the 10th listen, though, and well beyond.

If you're a fan of Muse or any of those overblown emo bands, it's time to ditch the Garanamals and get into some big-kid pants.

Of Montreal — Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse (MP3)
Of Montreal — A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger (MP3) (Highly Rec.)
Of Montreal — Cato as a Pun (MP3)

Cashing in: A whole new ballgame

Our Sports and Video Games correspondent, TCon, sent in this tip:

Last year, 2K Sports' baseball video game was soundtracked entirely by Matador Records bands. This year's version, MLB 2K7, will include some of your most-loved (Tapes N Tapes, the Pixies) and most-hated (Sublime, 311) bands.

311 “Down”
Bishop Allen “Middle Management”
Cities in Dust “Emergency”
Death From Above 1979 “Little Girl”
Dixie Witch “Set the Speed”
Editors “Munich”
Five Horse Johnson “I Can’t Shake It”
Greatdayforup “Man’s Ruin”
Les Savy Fav “Hold On To Your Genre”
Nerf Herder “High Five Anxiety”
Nirvana “Breed”
Sublime “Summertime”
Tapes ‘n Tapes “Insistor”
The Jealous Sound “Na├»ve”
The M’s “Plan Of The Man”
The Pixies “Mr. Grieves”

The standout on that list is Nirvana. Courtney Love recently allowed Nirvana music to be licensed, and while we'd probably feel icky hearing a Nirvana song tied to ANY product, at least this one isn't a slap in the face.

The game looks pretty sweet, amazingly realistic. But here at Baby Heisman, you know how we get down:

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah "clean" version

After the year of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah hype that was 2005, the band's follow-up album has been met with an amazing amount of silence.

A few people have given it middle-of-the-road, three-star, B-minus reviews and a few people have slammed it. But mostly, for an album called "Some Loud Thunder," it's made barely a whimper.

Are you underwhelmed because it's not a major departure from their debut? What did you expect? This is STILL a new band. "Some Loud Thunder" does what a sophomore album should. It builds on the original with sharper music and lyrics and mines new territory without straying too far from home base.

Their self-produced, self-released, out-of-nowhere debut pushed the whole indie/DIY/blog business firmly into the mainstream. But it's clear from every interview that they weren't caught up in it. With Clap your Hands, you can come along for the ride but you don't get to backseat drive.

The band does address the hype on the opening, title track, as though getting it out of the way so they can get back to being Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. "All this talking, you'd think I'd have something to say," is singer Alec Ounsworth's opening line.

The song is filled with similar statements, but they're hard to notice because the track is intentionally mixed to sound like it's coming out of blown speakers. I can understand making a "don't try to change us" statement, especially right off, but there's a really great song underneath the fuzz.

I hunted down a "clean" version without all the distortion. Take a listen.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah — Some Loud Thunder ("clean" version) (MP3)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

How will the scalpers get around this one?

Arcade Fire tix go on sale Saturday morning, and it will be even crazier because the venue is assigned seating. With everyone clicking at once, who will get the best seats and how much will the tix be going for on eBay at 10:05 a.m.?

Ticketfucker is trying to stem some of that by making the best seats will-call-only and making you show ID when you pick them up. Here's what they have to say:

"Premium seating for this event will be subject to specific "WILL CALL ONLY" restrictions. You will be notified during the purchase process if you happen to obtain any of these seats. These tickets are also subject to a two ticket limit and may only be picked up at the venue box office by the ORIGINAL PURCHASER on the evening of the performance. In order to pick them up you will be required to provide a government-issued photo ID and the credit card used to make the purchase. Upon picking up the tickets the original purchaser and guest will be required to directly enter the venue. Please note that THESE TICKETS ARE NON-TRANSFERABLE AND WILL BE VOIDED IF RESOLD. PREMIUM SEATING IS ONLY AVAILABLE THROUGH PHONE AND INTERNET. Note that the four ticket limit becomes a two ticket limit for the premium seats. "

The optimist in me says HORRAY! and that the "directly enter the venue" part is a great idea. The pessimist in me says the best seats won't even be available to the public - 91X is already pimping the show on the air. But the kid in me likes the frosting. (cereal humor)

Thanks to D.C. the Brain Supreme for the tip.

My City's a Sucker: He's like a bird, he only flies away to Tucson

It's been about a year since the Birdman who isn't Lil Wayne's daddy (a little wordplay shout-out there for the hip-hop fans) played San Diego, and that was an opening slot with his own daddy, label-runner Ani DiFranco.

Point is, it's been a while since Andrew Bird came to town, especially since he has a new album coming out March 19. But no dice. He's scheduled to stop in Tucson, then Coachella the day after. Then he's got three days to get to San Fran for his next show. So there's a slight window of opportunity. HoB could put him up. Nothing on its sked for the 29th or 30th yet. (more likely the 30th; he might hang out for Sunday of Coachella, although the consensus seems to be to skip that day and beat the traffic.)

So, Andrew Bird fans, hit him up. Pester him. Get him to S.D. Weezy F. Baby and Baby Heisman are behind you.

Andrew Bird — Heritics (from the forthcoming "Armchair Apocrypha" LP) (MP3)

Cashing in: The New Pornographers

I put the New Pornographers' "Twin Cinema" at No. 3 on my favorite albums of 2005, behind Bloc Party and Wolf Parade. Now that some time has passed, I actually give the Pornos in the top spot. (Wolf Parade is still at No. 2, followed by Clipse, then it's just a pile-up of about five or six albums for those last spots.)

So it took about a millisecond for me to look up when I heard the hey-la hey-la's of "The Bleeding Heart Show" coming from my TV. The track isn't only one of the best on the album; it shows that the band can push beyond it's power-pop roots and sets the stage nicely for their next album, which should be out sometime this year.

The song, taut and hopeful with Neko belting out "We have arrived," fits in just about any commercial. So who had the sense to put it in an ad?

Yup. The University of Phoenix — the ultimate commuter college. San Diegans know they got away with rubbing out Mircoskills (speaking of noteworthy commercials!) but they must be taking heat from a New York Times cover story earlier this month. On the school's Web page, right under the phone number, is a link to a whole section refuting the story, "Troubles Grow for a University Built on Profits."

Anyway, "Twin Cinema" obviously gets the highest Baby Heisman recommendation. It's a can't-miss used-bin pickup, or on one of those days when you just want a new CD.

The New Pornographers — The Bleeding Heart Show (MP3)

AND FROM THE VAULT: The video for "Twin Cinema" single "Use It," which came out in those six months where comedian David Cross was in EVERYTHING, yet we didn't mind. I still don't know what "stock tips come next in the logic line" means, but it's a funny, entertaining video.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Scooping the competition

I'm a fan of the blog Stereogum. It's one of the few sites that I check more than once a day.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a Stereogum posting under the a section called "Commercial Appeal" (which seems quite similar to a certain section here at Baby Heisman) about a Feist song being used in a HSBC financial commercial.

I guess now we know who's watching more CNBC.

It's still weird to watch, though.

Monday, February 19, 2007

My City's a Sucker: Arbiter of cool deems Soft Lightes half-cool

Pitchfork reviewed the new album from San Diego's The Soft Lightes today. The reviewer gave "Say No To Being Cool - Say Yes To Being Happy" a 5.1 ranking, which seems kind of bad based on Pfork reviews and the generally positive-to-neutral comments in the review.

But 5.1 is about average, which is what the reviewer is saying (and I agree with the review). Not terrible but not quite ready for prime time. However, their video is tons'o'fun.

The Soft Lightes on MySpace
Soft Lightes review on Pfork

Some songs just sound better in the rain

It's been pouring rain here in sunny San Diego since about 11 last night. I love rainy days here because it just makes certain music sound so much better, so much more appropriate than during a sunny day.

The Jesus and Mary Chain — Just Like Honey (MP3)

Friday, February 16, 2007

The ship sank because it was leaking

When you trade in spitfire and vitriol, you can only howl at the moon for so long before it stops seeming authentic and starts to feel like an act. Even Howard Beale's ratings eventually fell in "Network."

Considering Modest Mouse's newfound success, the expectations that come with adding Smiths guitarist/golden idol Johnny Marr — hell, "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank" is a bloated title even for a Modest Mouse record — all signs pointed to an overblown letdown of a new album.

The record leaked earlier this week and, on first listen, it's promising. It still sounds more like their star-making "Good News for People Who Love Bad News," where the fast songs are the fast songs and the slow songs are the slow songs, than their older, more experimental albums that combined the two. But they're not going to make another "Lonesome Crowded West" just the same way that Death Cab is not going to make another "We Have the Facts" and the Shins didn't make another "Oh, Inverted World."

Marr seems to add just the right spark to a band entering its second decade, and Issac Brock continues to find some dark unmined crevices of his brain for lyrical inspiration.

That said, this album isn't likely to win over anybody who gets annoyed by Brock and his band. But for Modest Mouse fans, who would have thought that a band that once screamed "I'm trying to drink away the part of the day that I cannot sleep away" would make an album that sounds so ... comforting and familiar?

The album comes out March 20. Here's a couple of tracks:
Modest Mouse — Florida (feat. James Mercer of The Shins) (MP3)
Modest Mouse — Spitting Venom (MP3)
The album's first single, "Dashboard" is on the Modest Mouse Myspace

Buy your springtime soundtrack tonight

Local band The Modlins are having their CD release party TONIGHT at the Whistlestop in South Park. It's their debut LP, coming after a couple of EPs, and it's coming out at the perfect time.

Inspired by equal parts Buddy Holly and early Weezer, the Modlins music makes a great soundtrack for that transition from San Diego winter to spring. I know we don't have real seasons here, but there's still a parting of the clouds, a slight warming, and if the LP is up to the level of their EPs, then it will be great music for playing while driving the 101, hanging out by a window with a good book or that first barbecue. Check out their myspace page to get a taste of what I mean.

The band wears matching suits when they play, and usually I'm really against anything gimmick-ey like that. But it fits the music instead of getting in the way of it; they wear them well.

Expect a Whistlestop full of bobbing heads and swaying hips. Swim Party and The Fascination round out the San Diego indie pop bill.

First 10 Plays down for repairs

Turns out something isn't right...

Now that people other than me are looking at the blog, I find out that Firefox is the only browser where The First 10 Plays will open up in the browser and load as it plays. If you aren't using Firefox, it makes you download the MP3, which takes way too time and is the opposite of the whole point of the section. I'll look at the HTML this weekend and see if I can figure out how to make it work.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Arcade Fire concert update?

SignOn says Arcade Fire tix go on sale Feb. 24, a week from Saturday (they also call them a buzz band; how cute). No word from Ticketmaster yet.

I promise this site won't just be a running update of show and ticket sale announcements. This one's special.

The show is April 26 at Spreckles; that much HAS been announced.

P.S. There are tracks off "Neon Bible" floating around on Hype Machine and elbo. I'm just not going after them. In the Web 2.0 world of accidental and intentional song and album leaks, this is one case where I'm going old school and waiting to hear it all at once when it comes out.

New Feist track

The first leak from the upcoming Leslie Feist album.
The song is more electro than I expected, but it's just so good to hear that voice again.

Feist — My Moon, My Man (MP3)

"The Reminder" comes out May 1.

If you're not familiar with Feist, she's one of the most enticing voices and lyricists in music right now. Her last album, "Let It Die," wasn't huge outside of the indie/blog world, but it deserves to be.

Part of the point of Baby Heisman is that I'm not going to gush just to fill space or give everyone their due. So if you haven't heard her before, head to her Myspace page. I said it in a past post, but "Mushaboom" is one of the best songs of the past five years.

Kite Flying Society @ House of Blues, 2/14/07

Kite Flying Society kicked out some "classics," showed off a couple of new songs and threw in a little Cure (only one cover?) in a crisp albeit short set at the House of Blues side stage last night.

The new songs sounded much more like straightforward rock, maybe even a twinge of alt-country somewhere in there. They lacked the sonic sound of older tracks, but some of their most popular songs sound that way live. It could just mean the new stuff isn't completely fleshed out yet. Hopefully it means the band isn't planning just to make a sequel to their first record.

We were hoping for more covers, but all we got was a Valentine's version of The Cure's "In Between Days." It was a fun pick but didn't have that completely out of left field surprise of covers from other shows.

All in all, it was a pretty basic KFS set, but even a basic KFS set is a lovely night of music. The band returns next Wednesday with Oh No! Oh My! from Austin. Go check it out. If you do, give yourself an extra 20 minutes, the average wait to get a drink at the HoB bar.

Random story from the show: My fiancee, Erin, and I were sitting at a table along the side wall. During the first song, a guy at the next table leans over to Erin and asks/yells into her ear: "Are you into Dave Matthews tribute bands?" Erin says "no" in a way that's not condescending, not insulting, but still assertively deflating (example No. 2,000 of why I love her). But the guy is not deterred. He pulls out a stack of about 20 tickets and is showing off the dates on them. Erin says we'll be out of town then, which thankfully shut him down.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Elliott Smith rarities to be released

There hasn't been much good news for Elliott Smith fans since his posthumous "From a Basement on a Hill" was released and made us tear up all over again. Hasn't been much to do besides marking birthdays and anniversaries of his untimely death.

So what a fantastic day — Valentine's Day — for Smith's former label to announce it will release a two-disc album of Smith rarities. Kill Rock Stars, the Olympia, Wash., label that put out two of the beloved Portland songwriter's best albums ("Elliott Smith" and the "Good Will Hunting" soundtracked "Either/Or"), says the album will be out May 8.

Pitchfork has the news this morning and is calling it an exclusive, which seemed odd considering Elliott's deep fan base and the fact that the story quotes a press release. I went over to Sweet Adeline, the fan site that has served as Elliott's official site since a couple years before his death, and found this:

"we are so happy to help announce the release of the upcoming double cd of elliott's music, new moon :) elliott's family and kill rock stars were nice enough to send us the press release about the upcoming record and a previously unreleased photo of elliott to share."

Great scoop, Pitchfork. Stick to the Arcade Fire concert photos.

Sweet Adeline has the track list for both albums and the new photo. Hard-core Elliott fans will recognize some of the tracks from the Basement II Demos bootleg that came out a couple of years back or from live bootlegs.

Elliott, Jesus we miss you.

Sweet Adeline announcement

Kite Flying Society Q&A

Kite Flying Society has hit the big time. Well, big enough that frontman Dustin Illingworth has quit his job to focus on the band, which has scored a residency at the House of Blues, playing every Wednesday night this month on its side stage. The gig continues tonight with a Valentine's-themed show.

Last week, Illingworth sat down for a Q&A at the Little Italy coffeehouse below the apartment where KFS made it's debut album of Shines-style pop, "Where is the Glow?" to discuss his new job, album No. 2, what's missing in the San Diego music scene and what his band has planned for tonight.

Baby Heisman: Congratulations on the big and scary move to becoming a full-time musician. How did that happen? Was there something specific that sparked that?

Dustin Illingworth: It was a combination of a bunch of things. Kite Flying just started out as a musical project and I didn’t know how far it would come along. But then we started getting a decent amount of blog press and we won the award (“Best New Band” at the 2006 San Diego Music Awards) and I started to really dislike my job, so those three things sort of came together. I thought, “might as well give it a chance” so I don’t regret it later.

BH: What line of work were you in?

DI: I was a clerk in downtown, a law clerk. They were nice people there, but I wasn’t too thrilled with what law they dealt in. It was a cubicle job, kind of a mindless-drone thing, so it wasn’t the most inspiring place for writing. I would write when I came home on my lunch break for an hour and I would try to write after work. But often times I was exhausted or just felt spiritually dead.

BH: Did your coworkers know that you were also in a band, or was that something you kept separate?

DI: No, they were great. The people who worked in my general vicinity, they all knew. ... When we found out we won the Best New Band award, everyone bought a CD. We sold probably 40, 50 CDs. They’re really supportive. (The job) was just something I didn’t see myself doing for a long period of time. But coworkers would come to shows. Even if it wasn’t quite their type of music, some rock people or some whatever people, hip-hop, they would still support it even thought it’s pop. They were very cool.

BH: What have you been doing to keep motivated now that you have all the time in the world to write?

DI: I guess what I’m trying to do now is to just get it all out of me. I’m writing a ton of songs, and those come naturally enough. I’m kind of prolific — I’m not trying to sound arrogant at all — I just write a lot of songs, and some of them are bad and some of them are good, so I’m trying to get them all onto at least a basic four-track and then, when it’s time to choose for the album what to master and what to add, choose 10 or 11 of the best ones. So the free time is motivating. ...
And I feel like we still have something to prove. Nationally, we’re not that well-known yet, we still have much to prove. We didn’t get a South By Southwest invite, for instance, which I was really hoping for. There are places I want to go and I still feel like the songwriting can continue to get stronger if I want to reach those places. So there’s still quite a lot motivating me.

BH: Do you see it being much of a struggle financially to be a full-time musician?

DI: Yes, I do, I do. I had a decent amount of savings, luckily, after leaving my job, and my rent is really cheap at this new place that I’m living at. It’s a nice place; the woman supports my music and is giving me a cheap-rent deal. But still, rent goes fast, I have student loans I’m paying back, bills. Obviously I have no medical insurance or anything like that right now. So there are worries. But it’s definitely worth it. ... I can’t go out to the bars with my friends as much as I’d like to or go out to nice dinners. But I’d rather be poor and doing this than vice versa.

BH: How is the work on the new album going so far?

DI: It’s going really, really well. I started writing some of (the songs) immediately after “Where Is the Glow?” was released (during the summer), so I’ve been really excited about them for a long time now. But we were playing shows and we wanted to give time for that album to sort of permeate and get to people. ... (KFS keyboardist/guitar player Derek Rast) just moved into a place in Mission Hills and we have a basement studio, so I can go over there everyday, which I do, and record. So we’ve got about five (tracks), and I’m just thrilled. We’re thinking a June 1 release date.

BH: It seems like a pretty quick turn around from one album to another.

DI: I think it is a quick turnaround. But as much as we love playing live, and we do love playing live, we’re also a studio band in that we like the soaring harmonies and we like all the keyboard effects. To make that true on stage you’d need to have 30 people and all sorts of equipment. And it’s so much fun to go into a studio and layer, and layer, and layer. ... So it might be a quick turnaround, but an album a year is what we’re going to try to do.

BH: How has the last album done? What sort of response has it gotten?

DI: We had a pressing of 2,000 copies and we’re just about out. I think we have about 100 left to sell. So in terms of having your first album out and not being signed to a record label we did very well. We met and exceeded our expectations. We were able to pay for all album expenses, printing, the discs, etc., everything with the presale money already. So it was basically no money out of our pockets and then we began to make a profit on it. We have money in the KFS bank account; we’re doing fine. We’re able to hit the road and have gas and food. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, I think. We still get iTunes checks every month, so I know people are still downloading the album or downloading songs.

BH: Has there been any label interest or interest on your part to be signed to a label?

DI: Some small labels have shown interest in us, but I think we want to do as much as possible on our own. We kind of enjoy the DIY approach. ... So I think until Subpop or Merge or someone like that, if that ever happens, we would accept.

BH: How did the House of Blues gigs come about? Either as an opening band or as a main band, it seems like you guys have played there a lot.

DI: Jamal, who books for the House of Blues side stage, just likes our music. He has asked us to play just because he enjoys the music and thinks we have a good live show. We’ve created a relationship with him and after we played two solid shows there he wanted to give us a chance with the residency. So we had a meeting with him there and he was very supportive.

BH: How did the first show go?

DI: It was awesome. For the first one, they just opened the doors on the side stage. Usually they keep them closed and charge. This time they opened it up to the bar so anyone out there could come in and listen, just because they were trying to get people aware of the side stage and to keep people later buying food and drinks. There was a mixture of our friends and fans and random people who knew nothing about us who were there to see a Latin pop star on the big stage. And after the show they would come in and listen to our tunes. I’m so excited about the next three weeks. We have three amazing shows. Grand Old Party (tonight), and then Oh No! Oh My! the third week, which is going to be so fun, and then Princeton the last week. It’s so nice having control of the bill, too. We just sent a bunch of letters out and we’re very pleased about who responded and who we got.

BH: The show for Valentine’s Day, is there anything special planned because of it?

DI: There is! We’re going to take it to cheesy new levels, I think. There’s talk of a kissing booth. I know (violinist/keyboardist/vocalist) Kelly’s going to bring candy, roses, valentines for people who show up. We’re talking about, which I’m going to keep a secret for now, but we have several love song covers that we’re going to do that are just terrible and great at the same time.

BH: Each time I've seen you play, you seem to throw in a cover, which a lot of young bands do because they don’t have that much material yet. But yours seemed really thought-out and unexpected. Is that something you’re going to keep doing?

DI: Yes! Yeah, absolutely. There’s a lot of pretension in the indie scene, there really is, and when we do something like an Ace of Base cover, for example, I feel like we’re hammering through it a little bit and showing that we’re goofy, we’re nice, we’re approachable. ... We try to give it a KFS touch either with harmonies, “Oooh-ahh’s” or a special keyboard.

BH: How has your band been received in the San Diego music scene?

DI: I like the music scene here. I think it has a lot of room to grow. I still think there’s a lot of Jack Johnson-ey or Sublime-ish stuff that I don’t really care for, but the bands that I go and see are great. And people talk about how competitive it is, but everyone been super supportive. ... I love going to local shows. I love Old Man Hands. Gabe's such a great songwriter. Grand Old Party (who are also playing tonight) is awesome, UV Tigers. I think there’s room to grow but I think we’re putting ourselves on the map a little bit because we’re always sort of in L.A.’s shadow constantly in terms of music. And now I feel like several local bands are starting to get national blog press or attention, and that’s huge. That definitely makes people interested about what’s going on in San Diego. So I have nothing but good things to say about it. And playing the pop music in a town that doesn’t play much pop music I think, if anything, people are into it because it’s different and there aren’t a lot of bands that are trying to do the 60s psych-pop or indie pop stuff.

BH: You mention there’s room for the scene to grow. Where might those areas be?

DI: The main reason I say that is the music scene is very, very, very incestuous. If you have one bass player or drummer, you can do seven degrees with any other band that’s worth mentioning in San Diego, and that is a little scary for a city that’s so large. And so when I say room to grow I think there could be so many diverse elements. There are so many socioeconomic groups. There seems to be a set group you see at the Casbah or going to TNT. I just wish for some fresh faces and fresh tastes and music, when you start adding that in, that’s when you get new branch-offs and new sounds, and I think we could use a dose of that. So that’s what I mean when I say room to grow. Because I think everyone’s very supportive, so the community aspect is pretty good, but we could use some fresh blood.

Kite Flying Society — 6,000 Shipwrecks (MP3) (Highly rec.)

Kite Flying Society — This Shadow (MP3) (Highly rec.)
Kite Flying Society on MySpace

Check back Thursday morning for a review of the show.

About Baby Heisman

About Baby Heisman:

Newspapers and magazines are great for people with a general interest in popular music, and MP3 blogs give fanatics their fix. But what about everyone in between who want more than what's in the mainstream but are daunted by the daily avalanche of new music on most blogs?

That's where Baby Heisman comes in — a music site that fills the gap by combining the best of both worlds. Baby Heisman isn't "Independent Music for Dummies," filled with background to appeal to ages 9-99, but it also won't give you any hipster guff and talk to you like you should already know about a certain band.

Think of Baby Heisman as a music blog with a news filter. Because there are recurring features, there isn't pressure to post a bunch of new songs just to post something. The songs posted here come with the highest recommendation; you probably won't like all of it, but all of it is worth checking out.

Recurring features on Baby Heisman:

My City's a Sucker: Live in San Diego for five minutes and you'll hear someone complain about the music scene while someone else gets hometown defensive about it. I've found few people who truly are trying to trumpet it and improve it.
There are promising local bands, but when the short list of national successes is topped by Blink 182, P.O.D., Louis XIV and Pinback, something's not right. Let's figure out what that is and do something about it.
We have amazing clubs, but bands big and small skip San Diego when they're on tour. Let's put pressure on those bands by calling them out.
My city's a sucker if we can't put hometown allegiances aside and actively work to make the San Diego music scene better.

Cashing in: Keeping track of where indie music shows up on TV, in movies and elsewhere. Indie music is in the mainstream more than ever, especially in commercials, and licensing songs has become the new battleground for the age old question of making money to survive versus selling out.

Appreciation Day: Profiling influential artists and suggesting tracks or albums for getting into their sometimes daunting catalogs.

Features: Interviews, stories and other bigger packages.

To sound off, report bad links/misspellings/crap or to send MP3s to check out, e-mail:

Monday, February 12, 2007

My city's NOT a sucker: Arcade Fire

Oh Holy Night...

The Arcade Fire are coming. Not only are they coming to San Diego, not only are they coming to S.D. two days before Coachella as a warm-up gig, not only is it their first stop after their European swing, they're coming to Spreckles.

The date is April 26, a Thursday. No opener or ticket sale date announced yet.

In a city that bands frequently skip, the Arcade Fire are choosing to play here instead of taking a couple of extra days off between the European leg and heading out to the desert, for a festival, no less, to start the U.S. leg.

That's not just luck; that's providence. Damn.

You may have heard that the band has been playing acoustic sets in the theater lobbies at the end of their recent shows, so DON'T leave when the lights come up.

I rarely gush, but, trust me, this is gushable.

Meanwhile, the band's creepy Website keeps getting creepier. Follow the link and then click on "guns" to watch them take on the Clash's "Guns of Brixton." Like most Arcade Fire covers, it sounds so completely unlike the original that it takes a second to get used to, then it jams.

creepy Neon Bible page

A reminder that the countdown to the "Neon Bible" release date, a.k.a. Judgment Day, continues on the right side of the blog.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Anna Nicole: Thanks for the mammaries

I can't believe the Zsa Zsa Gabor of my generation died before the actual Zsa Zsa.

From happier times:

UPDATE! Not 24 hours after making my Zsa Zsa comment comes this breaking news: Zsa Zsa's husband says he might be the father of Anna Nicole's baby. Dude must love the ladies with two names. And he must love himself a little taste of crazy.

OK, back to real news.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Has it come to this? Music video trailers?

Justin Timberlake's Web site assures us that his new video is "groundbreaking" ... so much so that you can watch a trailer for the video. Yeah, a trailer. And for all the Timberlake completists out there, a director's cut is also promised.

It also has Scarlett Johansson, but what film doesn't these days.

However "groundbreaking" the JT vid turns out to be, it can't match Scarlett's last video cameo, for Bob Dylan. As though we weren't smitten enough with her, now we can fantasize that she's our dead wife and we're watching home movies of our salad days.

Smashing Pumpkins to release album on day I had wanted to get married

The Smashing Pumpkins, which, right now, is Billy Corgan,, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and some mystery folk, have announced they will release their reunion album on July 7. 07-07-07. It's a Saturday, not the usual album-release Tuesday, AND it was the day I originally wanted to get married. Turns out at a lot of people had this pretty obvious idea to get married on the lucky sevens, as the venue we wanted was already booked for that day. We're getting married the next weekend.

Now it turns out to be a saving grace. Triple Sevens just isn't as cool with a new Pumpkins record coming out the same day. Dodged a bullet.

My Chemical Romance are one of the Pumpkins' top 8 myspace friends. BFF.

Cashing in: Feist (PLUS ALBUM NEWS!)

I'm not sure why I find this one so odd, but "Gatekeeper," the opening track off Feist's "Let It Die," is being used in a commercial for the financial company HSBC Direct. I was on the couch working the crossword when I first heard it last week, and the song was so unexpected, so out of place that I had to run the lyrics through my head until I got to the chorus to figure out what it was — even though I've heard it a million times.

Word is she turned down McDonald's request to use "Mushaboom" (one of the best songs of the past, oh, say, five years) in an ad, but she did give it up to Lacoste to promote a new men's fragrance. Now if only wearing it would make her come running...

If you don't have, "Let It Die" do so now. All the adjectives have already been used, but smart, soulful and delicate immediately come to mind. This is a can't-miss album for Valentine's Day, too. It sets the pinpoint perfect mood for dinner time, cocktail time or bedtime.

Plus, Feist recently announced that new album "The Reminder" will be out May 1. Rejoice! I'm already all warm and tingly.

If you need something to tide you over, I am Fuel, You are Friends has MP3s of Feist's rare 1999 album "Monarch (Lay Your Jewelled Head Down)." Hear what she was like before she was the blogging man's pinup girl.

"Monarch (Lay Your Jewelled Head Down)" post

And just in case...
Feist — Gatekeeper (MP3)
Feist — Mushaboom (Postal Service remix) (MP3)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The other album out today

Today's big release was the new Bloc Party album, and I'm excited as all get out about it, but I'm equally excited about the new Peter, Bjorn and John album finally out in the U.S. today. The single "Young Folks" was a blogland staple last year, and rightly so. But the whole album has a slow, dry cool to it. It's a great Sunday afternoon record and highly recommended.

They also just wrapped up a mini U.S. invasion, selling out secret shows in NYC, playing Conan, and playing a sold-out L.A. gig back on the first.

Them's be blowin' up, so big, even Chanel has noticed. If you aren't down with Ratatat (and I'm not), skip to 1:53. Chanel show.

Finally, I was in Crush last weekend and they were playing "Young Folks." It is a fantastic song, but it's certainly not anchoring a weak album.

Peter Bjorn and John — Paris 2004 (MP3)
Peter Bjorn and John — Young Folks (MP3) (Highly Rec.)

Friday, February 2, 2007

Cashing in: Teddybears (again and again and again)

Maybe that should be a briefcase of money in his hand, not a synth.

People talk all the time about bands going "commercial," but has any album been used to sell more products than Teddybears' "Soft Machine"? The most high-profile instance is the Cadillac commercial that uses "Punkrocker," which features Iggy Pop on vocals. While Iggy in a Caddy is the most absurd use, Teddybears music has also been put in ads for Tab energy drinks, Virgin Mobile, WWE wrestling ... these guys are the real-life version of Will Lightman in "About a Boy," kicking back and living off their royalty checks.

Their latest "appearance" is in the "Epic Movie" trailer. "Cobrastyle," the same song used to sell Tab, plays in some clips.

The album generated a lot of buzz before its release last year as songs and photos of dudes in giant bear heads leaked. Six months later, "Punkrocker" is still great, but it's clear why the album works so well for jingles: the songs are catchy at first but get annoying really quick.

Teddybears (feat. Iggy Pop) — Punkrocker (MP3)
Teddybears (feat. Mad Cobra) — Cobrastyle (MP3)
The Onion AV Club did a great review of "Epic Movie."

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Satan said dance, Paris Hilton said "OK"

This is NOT worth watching because Paris Hilton drops the N-word, which she does, once, in the middle of a five-minute clip (go to 2:40 if you want to see).

It IS worth watching to see her dance ... horribly. THIS IS WHY PEOPLE CARE ABOUT PARIS HILTON. All that money, all that fame, all that swagger and she STILL dances worse than I do and attends a New Year's party playing the hits of six years ago. It's all a facade and it makes you feel good, and that's why we watch.

The clip claims to be from a New Year's party, and I guess it doesn't say which year, but it sounds like the DJ stole a mix from a high school kegger.

Bob Dylan, Weird Al, palindromes

One of my all-time favorite quotes is from "Spinal Tap": "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever."

When I was a kid I was really into Weird Al, and I've always loved Bob Dylan without being a fanatic. Plus, I'm a word guy (Palindromes read the same forward and backward, like "radar"). So I'm in just the right spot to find this Weird Al video really clever. If Weird Al annoys you, or you're too close to Dylan, you might find this really stupid.

It's actually off his last album, but with his recent resurgence, it's been getting passed around.

I like that the song is a general satire and isn't just replacing words from a real song with words that sound similar - "Like a Surgeon," "Eat It," "White and Nerdy." In the 80s he had a song called "Dare to Be Stupid," which was a satire of Devo music in general. It led to this great father-son moment where my dad explained the magic of Devo. I was probably 10.

Props to Weird Al for keeping relevant, just like, ahem, Bob Dylan.