Monday, April 30, 2007

The weekend where I wanted to be everywhere but couldn't, Part II

Responsibility kept me from going to last night's Regina Spektor show, which was even more of a bummer after watching a bit of the Webcast of her Coachella show before heading to the Ken Club on Saturday night.

Thankfully, bloggers-in-arms Lyn from Chick Rawker and Rosey from S.D. Dialed In went. Click to hear what Lyn and Rosey had to say.

Regina Spektor — Fidelity (MP3) (One of my fav songs of 2006)
Regina Spektor — On the Radio (MP3)

Secret Apollo, Kite Flying Society and Swim Party @ The Ken Club, 4-28-07

Secret Apollo, Kite Flying Society and Swim Party (all S.D. bands) certainly don't sound alike, but they complemented each other perfectly Saturday night to make for a great overall concert.

Secret Apollo kicked out a fun set of their keep-it-under-two-minutes pop songs and enticed the crowd with a tub of Red Vines, free for the taking. (Note to other bands: Candy and booze go surprisingly well together.)

I hadn't seen Swim Party in a while and had forgot how tight and heavy they are (much more than my photo suggests).

Claps and cheers cajoled them into an encore, where they played Yo La Tengo's "Sugarcube," a great cover choice.

The video for Sugarcube, in which the band's label sends them to rock school, is one of the funniest videos out there. David Cross wears a hot pink wig.

But the highlight of the night was Kite Flying Society, which played six songs from their upcoming second album, which frontman Dustin Illingworth said will be called "The Aviary." Just a couple of months ago, their new material still sounded raw; Saturday night, even though the songs were live and unknown, the nuances came through on tracks like "The Balloon Peddler" and "Hollow Bones." An exciting follow-up to their debut album is obviously taking shape.

People in and out of San Diego: Don't sleep on Kite Flying Society. If you're into indie pop at all, check out their first album, "Where Is the Glow?" If you're nearby, check them out a week from today, May 7, when they play the Casbah. With a combination of talent and downright fun, they deserve a wider audience.

If I see one more... post a photo of a quasi-celebrity who was hanging out at Coachella over the weekend... You're at a festival with a lineup THAT deep and you're keeping your eye out for Paris Hilton, Kelly Osbourne and Danny DeVito? You spent all that money to get there and you're doing the job that Star magazine gives to the stringer?

OK, rant over.

Rufus Wainwright @ The Belly Up 4-28-07

I wanted to check out Rufus Wainwright's show Saturday, but the ticket price and the lure of the all-local bill just three blocks away at the Ken Club made me pass him up. But he's been selling out venues and playing songs off his upcoming album, so I deputized Rufus superfan Rachel as a correspondent and had her report back...

(Photo from Rufus' Coachella set)

I think Rufus Wainwright is in love. I don't have any inside information on this, but after seeing him perform at the Belly Up on Saturday night I believe that something good is going on in his life. It was the first time in seven years and seven concerts that I'd seen him so confident and put together (no fumbled lyrics!). And the songs from his upcoming album, "Release the Stars," which made up the bulk of the show, had a decidedly optimistic feel to them. His life seems to be settling down. Or maybe he's just hoping a different approach might help him capture the pop stardom that's been eluding him.

With the concert so heavy on new songs (including the first track, "Do I Disappoint You," which Wainwright insisted was a rhetorical question), my concert buddy felt left out because she was most familiar with the album "Poses." The only time she could sing along was during "One Man Guy," a duet with opener Teddy Thompson during the encore. Speaking of Thompson, my favorite of Wainwright's new offerings was "Nobody's Off the Hook, " which he wrote for Thompson. He mused on his friend's "baby blues" so sweetly, sounding more like a comforting older brother than an angst-ridden artiste.

Though I felt intrigued by his new stuff, the highlight was "Beautiful Child" (from "Want One"), which rocked and was the most emotionally satisfying moment of the night. After the song, Wainwright said: "Hey, that was fun, it was kind of like a mariachi tune!" He was referring to the horn section onstage, part of the seven-person band he'd brought with him. It was the first time I'd seen live horns on tour with Wainwright, as well as no female backup singers (his all-male crew wore striped, kind-of matching shirts and plenty of sparkly brooches). The main horn section was made up of a tenor sax, trumpet and French horn, which was miked too heavily for the first half of the show. This was thankfully remedied because, really, too much French horn is never a good thing. Two and half hours of Rufus Wainwright (plus one intermission), however, was a very good thing.

"Release the Stars" comes out May 15.

The best news of last week

Sleater-Kinney isn't the greatest band ever, but they are my favorite band ever. "Dig Me Out" took me from a music fan to a music junkie, and their two farewell shows over the summer were the most powerful performances I've ever seen (and worth every penny of airfare).

So in a week that included an Arcade Fire show, the best thing I saw was photos of Carrie Brownstein again holding a guitar. Carrie played a four-song solo set at a reception for a new book of writing about Portland. She played:

The Go Betweens - "Love Goes On!"
The Ramones - "Danny Says"
Sleater-Kinney - "Funeral Song"
Bruce Springsteen - "Dancing in the Dark"


For a million reasons, this reminds me of the morning I turned on the TV and Michael Jordan was back, but wearing No. 45.

There's more details about the show over at Tiny Suns Infused With Sour, a really solid S-K news blog, especially for post-hiatus updates.

Sleater-Kinney — Funeral Song (MP3)

A couple of random S-K tidbits: After Thursday night's Arcade Fire show, I told a friend that, with Carrie Brownstein seemingly in retirement, Regine was my new indie crush. Twenty-four hours later, Carrie re-emerges. I was silly to stray.

Also, after the first night of the farewell weekend, some of us were in a bar talking about what we thought each member would do after S-K, and one guy said he thought Carrie would write for a while, find a group of musicians nobody has ever heard of but were immensely talented and put together the ... greatest ... rock ... band ... ever. After a 24-song set and a few beers, that sounded like heaven. Still does, actually.

How to buy Hold Steady tickets online

While you can't buy tickets for the Hold Steady show June 1 at Canes on the venue's Web page, and it's not listed on Ticketmaster or on the Hold Steady's site, there is a way to get them without going down to Mission Beach to get them.

Go to the band Web page and click on "shows." Scroll down to the Phoenix show and click "buy tickets." It will take you to the Hold Steady's own ticket service, which has the San Diego show. it looks like the same software the Casbah uses for buying tix online.

If you're not into treasure hunts, you can just click this link to go right to the page.

The Hold Steady — The Cattle and the Creeping Things (Live and acoustic) (MP3)

Friday, April 27, 2007

A weekend in the city

For those not heading to Coachella, there's a don't-miss local show happening Saturday night. Swim Party, Kite Flying Society -- one of the best indie pop bands (period) -- and Secret Apollo are playing at the Ken Club. Starts 9-ish.

Rufus Wainwright is also playing Saturday at the Belly Up. Show's sold out, though.

Not much time to write or post MP3s, so just Myspace links for all

Swim Party
Kite Flying Society
Secret Apollo

Coachella Web cam

A live look at Coachella right now:

Har har. Seriously, though, why isn't the Coachella festival held in winter? I know bands are more geared up for touring in the summer, but it would be the only gig. Besides, it's not 75 EVERY day in the winter in San Diego. It would make a nice reprieve even for the sunny Southern Californians.

If you want a real look at Coachella, the AT&T Blue Room site is Webcasting some of the sets throughout the weekend. Not every band gets a Webcast, about 10 per day. It starts at 3 this afternoon.

Here's a link to the site, including set times for the Webcasts.

Arcade Fire @ Spreckels 4-26-07

When the first four songs of the set are powerful enough to close the set, you know you're in for something special.

Just a few months ago, the Arcade Fire seemed pensive and unsure on stage as they tried to get comfortable with their new songs. Last night, the band played with complete confidence, which allowed them to play with the energy and emotion that has made them so beloved to begin with.

Starting with "Black Mirror," "No Cars Go." "Haiti" and "Wake Up," the band (10 members strong) raced from instrument to instrument, quickly breaking sweats and tambourines in the process.

But as they continued to click off their most powerful songs, "Power Out," "Intervention," "Rebellion (Lies)," "Tunnels," it became clear that the climax of the show would be something completely different.

Instead of a blowout, they showcased some of the best bottled-up songs off "Neon Bible," ... "Keep the Car Running," then "The Well and the Lighthouse," and finally the title track.

One of the biggest surprises of the show was how well frontman Win Butler's multi-instrumentalist wife, Regine, commanded the stage. She was a solo artist before the band formed, but last night, as she moved from the side of the stage to the front to the drum kit and back again, she proved to be a true rock star.

There were so many moments in the set that produced the kind of raw, reflexive emotion that made us music fans in the first place. The music, instead of tradition, brought people out of their seats.

Most of the things people yell at concerts are annoying at best, but last night someone summed up the whole crowd's feeling about halfway through the show: "play forever."

The set list:
Black Mirror, No Cars Go, Haiti, Wake Up, My Body is a Cage, Neighborhood #2 (Laika), Intervention, Ocean of Noise, Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels), Neighborhood #3 (Power Out), Rebellion (Lies), Antichrist Television Blues, Keep the Car Running

Encore: The Well and the Lighthouse
Encore 2: Neon Bible

A couple of side notes from the show: Win announced that a dollar from each ticket was going to a clinic in Haiti that provided free medical care. He also shed some light on the nearly unknown opener, Cass McCombs. He said Arcade Fire used to open for McCombs in Montreal, so this was a way to show some love for him. An extremely cool way, indeed.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Feist cancels ... again

She's two for two now ...

Word just came from the Belly Up that Feist's show June 30 has been canceled. She canceled last time she was set to play the Belly Up. UPDATE: Scheduling conflict is the reason being given.

Jeez. So disappointing that I'm not even going to use this opportunity to gratuitously post another photo of her.

My city's a sucker: San Diego thinks San Diego is DA BOMB for that indie rock all the kids are into

I'm going to try to write this whole thing without using the term "the man."

The San Diego Visitors' Bureau has launched a campaign called "San Diego Soundscape" to promote the city as an "indie rock" destination on par with Austin, NYC, PDX or Seattle. Or Memphis. Or Detroit. Or Chicago. Or Milwaukee.

San Diego Soundscape promotional page

They've put together a two-disc promo CD of "up and coming San Diego bands" (Rookie Card is the big name on it, to give you an idea of what we're dealing with) and are offering a sweepstakes for the San Diego rock and roll experience!

That's plane tickets, a stay at the Manchester Hyatt, a show, dinner, and the Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues, one of the most generic musical experiences the city has to offer. Oh, also a Hula Hut Honeymoon Holiday at Spa Tiki.

This all seems right up the alley of the businessman who saw a great house band at a Gaslamp bar last night. All that's missing from this ad campaign is a reference to "The O.C."

There's even a San Diego music history section on the Web page, with the requisite Tom Waits and Blink 182 references.

There are some great local bands here, and there's definitely some kind of disconnect that is keeping them from getting bigger exposure inside and out of the city that other cities' music scenes don't have. But this is like when you were a teenager and your mom declared that she was cool. Part of becoming an indie destination, by definition, is that it can't be forced or promoted.

Read today's Union-Tribune business section story for more details about the absurdity. "Gen-X" shows up a few times.

I'm not slamming the bands for being a part of this; it's a great way to get more people to hear your music. But if you're going to do a promotional gig, go all out:

Lifesavas tracks

Sprinted out the post yesterday on Lifesavas coming to the Casbah on June 13, a Wednesday, but I wanted to give them a proper post and include some tracks.

The PDX group's sophomore record, "Gutterfly," came out Tuesday and it's recommended for fans of 70s-funk-fueled hip-hop. "Shine Language" has been getting a lot of play around here this week.

Here's a couple of tracks. You gotta love it, Beyonce:

Arcade Fire backup plan

If you got shut out of tickets for tonight's Arcade Fire show, the next best thing might be to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla for a screening of the Talking Heads concert movie, "Stop Making Sense" (an especially fitting choice considering how many times Arcade Fire gets compared to the Talking Heads).

If you don't count "This Is Spinal Tap," then "Stop Making Sense" is the best music movie of all time. You always hear about bands being better live. The Talking Heads practically created new songs on stage. David Byrne's seemingly boneless body movements turn the whole thing into pop art.

If you go, when Byrne starts running around the stage at the end of "Life During Wartime," get up and do a lap in the theater down, up and back around the aisle. Get everyone to do it.

Museum of Contemporary Art link

You could also go to the Mute Math show at the House of Blues and make fun of indie-pop opener Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. Please, don't name your band/album/song after a real living person. You'll get pestered for weeks after that person dies. If you're thinking about starting a band called Chin Up Ariel Sharon, just don't.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Arcade Fire opening act announced

As usual, Rosey over at SD Dialed In keeps tabs like nobody else, living up to her info junkie nickname by figuring out that the opener for tomorrow night's Arcade Fire show will be singer-songwriter Cass McCombs.

Here's a myspace photo of ....?

I hadn't heard of him either.

S.D. Dialed In

Cass McCombs on Myspace

Back-to-back PDX in San Diego

Casbah says Portland hip-hop heroes Lifesavas are playing June 13, and Menomena rides its blogger buzz into town the next night, the 14th.

June is filling up nicely.

Tracks from new Lifesavas album "Gutterfly" (Stream)
Menomena's "Friend or Foe" (Stream)

My City's a Sucker: Third Eye Blind

Making fun of the House of Blues is like kicking a one-eyed puppy ... easy to do (I once called its lineup a never-ending state fair) but you shouldn't feel good about it afterward.

This was too good to pass up, though: Yesterday I was getting caught up on the last of my post-sickness e-mail. The House of Blues concert alert titled "Coming to HOB: Third Eye Blind!" had moved to the bottom of the list.

I opened it just to see if there was any other band info (there wasn't) and was greeted with this awesome intro:

Get through this "Semi-charmed kind of life" when Third Eye Blind comes to the House of Blues!

I love it. They're not even trying. It's like saying, "Hey, remember Third Eye Blind? No, well, try this..."

Meanwhile, Hootie and the Blowfish "only wanna be with you" at Humphrey's this summer. Cheapest tickets, I'm not making this up, are $70 before fees.

The other album out today

OK, it's past midnight, so the other album out yesterday...

Add the Arctic Monkeys to the list of new-music wonderkids whose second album barely makes a peep. Come on, be honest, did you even know it came out Tuesday? Did you even care? Seriously, we have to start taking a deep breath before we go berserk on these bands. But I digress...

The album that's been getting a lot of play around here has been "Woke on a Whaleheart" by Bill Callahan (aka Smog). A student of Kris Kristofferson and John Prine, and sounding a bit like a less-gravely Silver Jews, Callahan shows that, many times, the ticket to getting out of the coffeehouse is solid lyrics.

Bill Callahan — Sycamore (Highly Rec.) (MP3)

Coke-bottle glasses and polka dots to invade San Diego

Girl-group throwback The Pipettes are coming to San Diego. The Ronettes-by-way-of-Britpop threesome and their backing band play the Casbah on June 10.

The most original thing about The Pipettes is that nobody thought to take girl-group retro this far before. They've got it down to a science, with each of the women taking a specific persona. (Blond, brunette, blond with glasses; pick which one you want to swoon over!) The band even has a Phil Spektor/Ike Turner mastermind who put the band together and writes the songs.

But when the music starts to get its cheesiest, out comes a wink-and-a-nudge line like "I just wanna move // I don't care what the song's about" that lets you know it's OK to play along. They're doing it with smarts but not taking themselves too seriously.

Their debut album, "We are the Pipettes," is one of those pesky albums that's been out in the U.K. for months and passed around among the Net-savvy in the U.S., but it gets a proper American release this summer. There's a video for just about every song on the album on YouTube ... and some MP3s below.

The Pipettes — We are the Pipettes (MP3)

The Pipettes — Your Kisses are Wasted on Me (MP3)

Also, the other night I made a "(Remember) Walkin' in the Sand" reference and nobody got it. So this seems like a good time to post some Shangri-Las. It's original girl-group music, and I'm a sucker for it.

The Shangri-Las — (Remember) Walkin' in the Sand (MP3)
The Shangri-Las — Out in the Streets (MP3)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sly and the Family Stone Appreciation Day

When I was in sixth grade, Tag Team's "Whoomp, There It Is" came out. My dad, who never really made a fuss about my music (MC Hammer, C&C Music Factory, etc.), heard me listening to the tape single and got ticked off because the song ripped off Sly and the Family Stone, a group I'd never heard of.

He put Sly's "I Want To Take You Higher" on the record player, and I heard how its "boom-lak-a-lak-a" sounded just like the "whoomp-lak-a-lak-a," but I was 12 and I was feeling defensive, so I really didn't like it and I totally didn't get it.

As I grew up and became more of a music fan, I realized the band's brilliance and importance, but when Sly came out of hiding to appear on last year's Grammys, I wondered if most people had the same reaction I did when I was 12: I don't get it.

After a ton of build-up, out came a legend sporting a Mohawk and a Homer Simpson gut. He played some keyboard with a band of "all-stars" that only the Grammys could put together, and left he before the song even ended. It was an awkward letdown.

Today, anyone who "didn't get it" gets a chance to discover one of music's true pioneers. The Sly and the Family Stone albums are being released today with the remastering/extra tracks treatment.

Albums like "Stand" and "Dance to the Music" didn't just advance funk and pop, the multi-cultural band's music advanced race, politics and culture. A million better words have already been written about the band, so I will just suggest checking out the MP3s below and one of the remastered albums. The Greatest Hits album is also a great bet.

Happy Sly and the Family Stone Appreciation Day.

Sly and the Family Stone — I Wanna Take You Higher (MP3)
Sly and the Family Stone — Dance to the Music (MP3)
Sly and the Family Stone — M'lady (MP3)

Monday, April 23, 2007

"We just had a tragedy ... so I thought it would be selfish not to speak on it"

Two main rules of this blog are:
1. Keep the focus on music.
2. Don't cover bad music. There's so much good music out there struggling to get heard that writing about bad music just defeats the purpose of running a blog.

This post will break both rules.

When a tragedy like the Virginia Tech shooting happens, people naturally try to connect to it. It helps us validate the grief we feel toward people we didn't know.

So don't fault Lil' Flip for his idea to make a tribute song to Virginia Tech. Fault him for the song itself.

The overly schmaltzy beat samples Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" and lyrically gets off on the wrong foot. The (Houston) rapper starts by saying "I thought it would be selfish not to speak on it" then raps about how he got shot and how he has lost relatives. He even lauds himself for making the track and works in a subtle suggestion to take a copy of the track to your local radio station.

Normally, I wouldn't say "this song is really silly; listen to it." As we saw from post-9/11 songs like Toby Keith's "boot in your ass" U.S.A. anthem and Paul McCartney's "Freedom," in which he repeated "Talkin' 'bout freeeeeedom" even more than he repeated "Heeeeyyyyy Jude," tragedy doesn't make the best muse. But this serves as a good case study. People have left comments on his myspace page that the song helps. But when there's so much attention already focused on a tragedy, does this come off a consoling, or just self-serving?

Lil' Flip -- "Virginia Tech Song (STREAM)

The mainstream media does a story involving hip-hop that doesn't blame everything ON hip-hop

The last time Anderson Cooper did a music story for "60 Minutes," he ended up crammed into a box with country super-duper-star Kenny Chesney. It became a "newsmakers making news" moment, as both men are rumored to be gay (notthatthere'sanythingwrongwiththat).

Last night, Cooper did a piece on the "stop snitching" movement among blacks. CBS sent out a promo for it last week that made a minor splash. The news site Drudge Report, never one to undersensationalize a situation, blasted word that, in the piece, Harlem rap god Cam'ron said he wouldn't call the cops even if a serial killer was living next door. Cam was shot in 2005 and has not cooperated with the police, and earlier this year he made a video that protrays 50 Cent as a cooperating witness.

From the promo, the story seemed like another case of rap music being blamed for society's ills. Instead, the it rightly covered the issue as a larger problem. It showed hip-hop's influence on the unwritten rule in black America not to cooperate with police, but it kept the focus ON black America as a whole.

It's about 12 minutes long and worth watching. "60 Minutes" remains one of the few places on TV to find journalism that is topical, insightful, well-rounded and not sensationalistic.

"Stop Snitching" story, Part 1

"Stop Snitching" story, Part 2

Have a hunch I'm kind of on a Feist kick?

"The Reminder" doesn't come out for another week, but Ms. Leslie Feist has posted the album for streaming on her Myspace page. So head over there if you can't wait to hear it ... or avoid the page at all costs if you, like me, are waiting until it comes out to get that full release-date excitement out of it.

Feist's Myspace page streaming "The Reminder"

Feist announces San Diego date

This was announced Friday, which, I know, makes it ancient news in the blog-o-land-o-sphere, but there should be no diminished excitement that Feist will play the Belly Up on June 30, a Saturday.

Tickets go on sale this Friday at noon. Opening for her will be Grizzly Bear, a band that got a lot of indie love last year and just kind of made me sleepy.

Like Sherman marching to the sea, Feist's momentum toward mainstream success continues to build.

Her last San Diego show was canceled (blame it on the bossa nova), so fingers crossed that this one goes off.

Feist — One Evening (MP3)

Arcade Fire Mystery Date

With the Arcade Fire's San Diego show only a few days away, one question remains:

Who will open the show?

People I've talked to at the label and the venue think that SOMEBODY will be opening, but the band hasn't said whom yet.

The show is kind of a one-off, as it's the first gig since they got back from Europe and is the only show before they head to Coachella for the weekend. After that, it's into a full-on U.S. tour with regular opening acts.

So I'm posing this conspiracy theory: It's going to be Of Montreal. They are playing Coachella on Friday, they aren't playing beforehand, they're not too big as to overshadow Arcade Fire in the opening slot, and they're avant garde enough to make a good pairing.

Or, at least, it should be Of Montreal. Either way, let's just be glad that Win's voice got better so that the show actually can go on.

Arcade Fire — Antichrist Television Blues (MP3)
Of Montreal — Suffer for Fashion (MP3)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A glimpse into the future, hosted by Scarlett Johansson

If the rumors are true, and they never are in the end, Scarlett Johansson is going to be singing backup for the Jesus and Mary Chain AND has been recording an album of Tom Waits covers.

While both of these facts teeter perilously on the brink of being newsworthy, last night's Saturday Night Live did show us what that would sound like (and showed us what cleavage looks like when it runs all the way up to the sternum).

P.S. Here's the box score from the rest of the show ... Bjork: enchantingly cool. The skits: Painfully awkward. Weekend Update: Still funny. And way too much singing overall.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cashing In: Junior Boys

With all the TV I watched over the past week while sacked out sick, I was surprised that I've only got one "Cashing In" post to report.

A commercial for Marriott hotels promoting the MP3 player hookups in their rooms uses one of the best of tracks of 2006: "In the Morning" by Junior Boys. The track is fitting for the commercial if only because it's talking about using your iPod as your alarm clock in the room.

With its frantic, minimalist dance blips, the song is a standout, but it took a long time for me to get into the album, "So This Is Goodbye." I still think the A side is much, much stronger than the B side, but the A side is strong enough to warrant a listen.

Junior Boys — In the Morning (MP3)

Smart comment

There was something about the Feist video, mentioned on here yesterday, that I couldn't put my finger on. Then a commenter to the posting completely nailed it. "The architect" pointed out that it looks like a Gap ad, and he's totally right. Looks like a couple other commenters on Prefix and Stereogum had the same idea, too.

Fall into the Feist...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Not about music, but...

...but if you haven't noticed, I kind of have a football video game fetish.

In some of the best news to hit San Diego in weeks, Chargers superstar runningback LaDainian Tomlinson will NOT be on the cover of Madden 2007. That "honor" will instead go to Tennessee Titans phenom quarterback Vince Young.

Sports fans fear curses just as much as they cherish the games' rituals and unspoken rules, even if they won't admit it. The Chicago Cubs don't lose because of a billy goat, but there's no bogeyman either ... right???

Madden has its own curse. The video games, which actually date all the way to the Apple II days, used to just have the Hall of Fame coach on the game box, but since 2000 a different player who had a huge year makes the cover.

And something bad always happens to them.

Barry Sanders was on the 2000 edition and he abruptly retires from football. Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick, the 2004 cover man, broke his leg in the preseason and the team tanked. The coach lost his job. When runningback Marshall Faulk appeared on the 2003 box, he missed five games with an ankle injury and never cracked the 1,000 yard benchmark in a season again. Daunte Culpepper (2002), Ray Lewis (2005), Donovan McNabb (2006) and Shaun Alexander (2007) all were injured in the season when they were on the cover.

How serious to fans take this? Enough that San Diego fans started a Web site and online petition to keep EA Sports, which makes the game, from picking L.T.

Now, all curses aside, a million things have to go right to have a breakout year in the physically punishing NFL (Ben Roethlisberger didn't need a video game cover to get in a motorcycle wreck and have an appendectomy), and one of the rules of football is a runningback is always one play away from a career-ending injury.

It's totally set up to happen for Vince Young. After one of sports' rarities, a great rookie quarterback season, he feels like he sees the field. Plus he loves to run. One good blindside from a linebacker and, POW, Michael Vick II. Or maybe he'll get hit by a bus, but not for a month or so, enough time for him to forget and let his guard down.

But with all the nearly-Shakespearean drama of the Chargers' season -- L.T.'s records, the team's success, playoff bust, coaching change -- having L.T. be picked would be the kiss of death.

So breathe easy, San Diego. Now all the team needs to worry about is gelling under a new coach and sophomore QB, staying healthy and navigating one of the toughest schedules in the league.

OK, back to music...

Back from the DL

After spending a week laid out with a smorgasboard of sickness, I'm finally starting to feel like myself again.

Of course, the only thing that mattered last week was the word "ho," but there were a number of other music stories. Here's a recap of what I missed, in case you missed it, too:

You can almost feel that Feist is going to break out this year. Last week, she was profiled in the New York Times, and her one-take, Jazzercise dance video spread across the blogs with the kind of speed usually reserved for a Wilco leak. I've never been a big fan of the one-take dance videos. All the OK Go videos, Fatboy Slim's "Praise You," where they're dancing outside the movie theater, all just seems so cheesy. With that in mind, I say the Feist video isn't half bad. She's just that hard to dislike.

Her fantastic past albums have made her an indie hero, but there's just this feeling in everything I read that her new album is going to break her out. "The Reminder" is out on the 1st, and, along with The National's "The Boxer," is the most anticipated new album here at BH HQ. I instantly fell in love with the first song that leaked from it a couple of months back and decided I wouldn't listen to it anymore until the album comes out. With so many albums leaking, I like holding off on the ones that really get me excited until they're released. I think it's important not to lose that experience of going to the record store to buy the album. Builds the anticipation and gets you out of the house, if nothing else.

Feist story in the New York Times
Link to Feist video
Past Baby Heisman post on Feist, with MP3

Meanwhile, the Hold Steady are coming back to San Diego on June 1. The band has always been really good about playing the city, and this stop, at Canes, will continue their tour of S.D. venues after shows earlier this year at Brick By Brick and the 4th and B.

One of the biggest "My City is a Sucker" moments I've seen so far: At the 4th and B the Hold Steady were the first band for the 94.9 birthday concert. A few songs in, someone from the balcony yelled "Get off the stage! We want Sparta!" The crowd on the floor, which was extremely into the show, was dumbfounded more than angry and just cheered louder as the band tore into "Your Little Hoodrat Friend."
The Hold Steady always been a love-or-hate kind of band, with frontman Craig Finn's "yell 'em real quick" vocals. But if you're on the fence at all, see ... them ... live ... it changes everything. That's how I went from hating them to loving them.

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

For the record, Don Rickles is just a touring member of the band.

Finally, a bunch of album release dates have been set, including:
June 5: The U.S. release of The Long Blondes' "Someone to Drive You Home"
June 19: The White Stripes "Icky Thump."
June 26: M.I.A. "Kala" (Although that's a Pfork report of a Rolling Stone article on a release date that's been pretty elusive, so it could change)

So, what else did I miss?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Still on the DL

Still?!?!?! Trust me, I'm more frustrated about it than you are.

Still snowed under sick (Modlins interview was done last week, so all I had to do was click the "post" button Thursday), but I don't foresee any season-ending surgery. I'll chew a salt tablet, rub some dirt on my throat and stomach — or maybe just take it reeeeeeal easy all weekend — and hope to be back next week.

In the meantime ... Mudhoney — Touch Me, I'm Sick (MP3)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Modlins concert preview/Q&A

You might think a band that dresses in suits and sounds more suited for a malt shop than the Ken Club would be nothing more than a gimmick.

Think again. The Modlins are a San Diego band with a tight, 60-influenced pop sound to back up the look. The band's debut album, "Here's to Being Happy," has been a Baby Heisman favorite since it came out earlier this year.

Before playing a Friday the 13th show at the Whistlestop tomorrow, songwriters Eric Killian and Matt Sheridan discussed being mistaken for a Beatles cover band, selling hats, and what's missing in the San Diego music scene (Hint: It's big and red).

Baby Heisman: Which came first, the sound of your band or the look of your band?

Matt: The sound has evolved more than the look has. The look was pretty much two phases: it was ties and then suits. So we kind of always had that in mind but obviously we didn’t really have any opportunity to do that until we played a show. For a long, long time, he (Eric) and I were playing just acoustically ... and then it was like, let’s add a drummer and electric guitars, and then, let’s get a bassist. So there were more steps in the evolution of the sound in fine-tuning and arrangements. I don’t know which came first, but I would say the sound was more gradual.

Eric: I would say that due to the fact that we got the suits after we had played shows ...

M: But we had ties in our acoustic shows, which is not our current sound. So the look came first.

BH: There are so many facets to your sound. How would you describe the sound of your band?

M: There’s always a four-word description with two hyphens in it: Oldies-influenced indie-pop. (Laughs) Whatever that means.

E: It’s indie because nobody knows who we are. And pop would definitely apply. We always liked, obviously, the harmonies and stuff; especially Matt’s big focus was doing the harmonies.

M: Yeah, I’m definitely a Beatle-maniac, so I kind of gauge an embarrassing amount of what we do off that. So that’s part of the oldies. And then, just generally anything from that era, the early 60s ... up to, like, ‘65. I like stuff after, too, but I’m really into almost anything before that. The kitschy factor, you know. So that’s where the oldies thing comes from.

E: And I just like ripping people off, so anything that sounds like other bands works for me.

BH: Between the suits and the photos on your Myspace page and your show fliers, there’s definitely a creative, fun element to the band. How much of that is intentional, and how much of it is just your guys’ personality?

E: To play the music and to play that part of entertaining and setting a little scene, that’s definitely something we like to do. I mean, we don’t sit at home in our suits or anything like that. But Matt does wear ties all the time.

M: Yeah, I probably do that more than anybody.

E: As far as the fun-loving and the creative, we are writing songs all the time. ... All of our artwork, our friend Patrick did. He’s the one who did all of our posters and stuff like that.

M: I feel like it’s equal parts intentional and equal parts natural because I think the intention comes in in being aware of it, being aware that we love bands that have that quality. But I think the reason we love bands that have that quality is because we’re kind of like that. So it’s sort of both at the same time.

BH: Do you worry about it becoming too kitschy?

M: I guess I’m aware that can be an interpretation, but I don’t really worry about it because I don’t feel it is gimmicky. I just feel like it’s just the style that I like. But I’m definitely aware that people could dismiss it as that.

E: Even now, I think some of it gets perceived as pretty gimmicky. I know that a lot of people are, like, “Oh, because you guys are poppy and you wear suits, therefore you must be the Beatles or a Beatles cover band.”

M: Yeah, we get asked that a lot, if we’re a Beatles cover band.

E: But a lot of bands of that era wore suits, too.

M: Yeah, it’s more an era to represent then just them (the Beatles).

BH: How do you guys stay motivated to keep writing songs? You guys are roommates now, right? Has that helped you write?

E: Actually, oddly enough, we’ve written less songs since we’ve lived together (for the past two years). ... When we first met it was right at the end of college and so, during that time, before he (Matt) moved up to L.A. we were starting to write a bunch of songs; he moved for a year, and then I was coming up and he was coming down all the time and we were just writing, writing, writing.

M: It’s very much like a relationship in the sense that when it’s long distance you’re going to make the time that you spend together really count. So when we would get together on weekends we would just crank out. Every weekend we’d write three songs. Usually what we’d do is he’d bring something he started, I’d bring something I’d started and then we’d finish those and then, on the last day, we’d start something from scratch. So we were doing that every time we got together. And then, it’s almost like, once we lived together and we can do it more often, I don’t know if it seems like we did it less because less percentage of our time has been taken up with that, or also the fact that, that was before there was a band and we were getting together on weekends and now it has to be filtered through ... a four-piece arrangement.

E: I think definitely living together has helped in that, like, now that we interact so much together we know each other’s situations and stuff. When we start to embark on writing another song, it’s like “Oh, I’m going to go at it from this perspective,” and it’s like, I’ve seen you go through that perspective, so it really helps for like, “OK, what metaphor do we want to use for this horrible situation?”

BH: How far back does the music on the album date?

M: A couple of those (songs) date back to before we were writing together. But I never really was one to finish songs, which is part of why it was important to meet him (Eric). I had basic elements of “It’s All Your Fault” probably like...

E: That was probably the first or second weekend we were writing together.

M: It seems like every time we do a release, we do about half of it with stuff we just wrote and half stuff that’s been sitting around that we feel like we should be getting out.

E: I’m usually one to quickly go, “Oh, we just wrote a new song; bump this old guy.” And then he’s like, actually, let’s get all the old ones first. ...

M: I’m like “let’s save them all. Let’s get them all out.”

E: We have this ridiculous backlog of songs that half of them probably won’t get released ever. A new song will pop up and I’ll be, like, “Oh this better than anything I’ve written before, let’s do this — three albums from now.”

M: It’s funny. We’ve had more than one conversation about “album three” already and we haven’t even started recording “album two” yet. ... It’s strange, though, because it feels like a lot of modern bands, they’ll release an album every couple of years maybe, and it’s like, if you do one every 18 months, that’s so quick. But, and that’s another thing I personally take from the oldies era: they had albums out every six months. So we’re kind of the middle ground between the two.

BH: Are you guys working on a second album at all yet?

E: We definitely plan to start doing a second one. We have a big group of songs. We were thinking about doing an EP just after this because we have this group of seven or so songs we wanted to get out, and then we were just, like, why put only seven on the recording when we can put a lot more on?

BH: Is the band a full-time job for anybody in the band, or does everybody have a day job?

M: We all work full-time now. I was the only guy working part-time before just because I was lazy and irresponsible, and now I started working full-time about two months ago.

BH: What kind of jobs do you guys do?

E: Computer programmer.

M: I work at the Village Hat Shop. And then Stoph (the drummer) does finance and Al (the bassist) does computer stuff, too.

E: Web design

M: So I’m the only schmuck with a nonprofessional job; I only make, like $8 an hour. ... It’s kind of a surreal day for me, actually, because we started off this morning — for some reason, there must be no actual news going on in San Diego — because some of the employees had to do a TV spot at KUSI for the hat shop today. And we did one on Monday for Fox news where we had to model hats and they had someone talk about the hats while we stood there. So I started the day at a TV studio, which I’ve never been to in my life, at 7 in the morning, and then I worked a full day and then came right here. So it’s like, TV, work, interview, like, what is it?

BH: What do you think is the strongest part of the music scene in San Diego, and where do you think it can improve?

E: It could love us.

M: With me, I don’t really see a scene in the classic sense. I don’t see any one clear genre. But you (Eric) were kind of saying the other night that some of the bands that were playing the show (Last Friday at the Ken Club)...

E: Yeah, before it would seem like, at least going through college and seeing a lot of punk bands ...

M: Beach-ey kind of stuff.

E: Yeah, Beach-ey kind of stuff. And at least as far as what I’ve been tuned to now it seems like the direction has gone a lot more to songwriting, and not necessarily as much pop as we are harmony-wise, but, like, bands ... the Muslims and the Sundels, and seeing them, and, like, The Prayers, I really like them. And I was like, oh, there’s a lot of these bands that are doing this kind of throwback to the 60s and the Kinks and stuff like that. ... Not that I’m saying the music before was trying to be abrasive, but it was just naturally a more abrasive style.

M: A little less light, maybe. ... Shorter songwriting.

E: Yeah, shorter songwriting, more danceable songs, stuff like that.

M: I guess maybe a pop scene is emerging to some extent. For me, I know a lot of the bands I have liked up to now, they don’t have a lot in common. It’s like Swim Party, Secret Apollo, Donkeys, I don’t know what you’d call that. It’s like not a genre, but maybe one’s emerging, I hope.

E: And what can improve? I guess, and it’s just in the nature of a big city that’s more spread out — it’s like, a city like New York, everything so packed in and so easy to get to — where as here, apathy sets in and no one wants to get up from “Must See TV” to go check out a show. And even like last night I almost didn’t go to the Ken Club show because I was just sitting on my couch watching “Invader Zim,” and it was kind of like, “oh, man, the Ken Club, that’s like a 10 minute drive away.”

M: It is weird. If it were a matter of getting on a subway, it would seem like nothing. It’s that thing about opening the car door and sitting down. I hate that feeling.

E: And it’s not even any fault of the music scene; it’s just the fault of the city’s construction. So really I’d say the way to improve the city’s music scene is to improve the Trolley system.

BH: Because you guys do have a retro vibe, if you could bring back one thing, what would it be?

E: I think I know what yours would be.

M: Oh yeah?

E: I think you’d want people to dress nicer.

M: Yeah, I think that’s a good one; like the formality of everybody wearing ties. I mean, I try to do it and, like, today, this is my casual day with jeans and a tie, but usually I have the slacks-ey tie look but, like, I don’t like just doing it myself; I kind of wish it was everywhere, because any time you see a period piece film, it just looks so great. I don’t know if things really look that great or if it’s just the cinematography and filmmaking, but I don’t know. I would feel better about the world if that were the case. And it would sell hats.

E: Well, I think if I could bring back the nonexistence of computers, that would be nice because then I wouldn’t have to be working my job anymore. So oddly enough, between us two, I would work less and you would work more.

M: That’s true, actually. Well, I wear ties and have a typewriter, so I’m living the dream right now.

The Modlins — Dragging My Feet (MP3)
The Modlins — I Wouldn't Know What To Do (MP3)
The Modlins band page
The Modlins on Myspace

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

On the DL

Got myself pretty sick. Hope to be up and posting again later in the week.


Friday, April 6, 2007

Have an icky weekend

Or a thumper of a weekend. Whatever gets in a reference to the upcoming White Stripes album, "Icky Thump," is cool. Here's the first promo photo for the album, in case you're trying to decide what to wear out for the weekend. Looks like SOMEONE bought a BeDazzler!

Big stuff coming up next week in Baby Heismanland: a news sports/music-oriented section and a Q&A with a San Diego band that has wooed its way into the Baby Heismanheart.

Have a good weekend,


The Thermals @ The Casbah, 4-5-07

Seeing the Thermals live, what stands out is how they get so much out of so little. One guitar. One vocalist. One bass. A drum kit with one kick, one snare and a few cymbals. Frontman Hutch Harris only uses four distortion pedals, and his fingers don't exactly fly up and down the neck of his guitar. It's a pretty lean, simple operation.

It's also a pretty smart operation. Their sound is so minimalistic that the slightest flourish creates a compelling climax. Certainly, there is no lack of three-piece, thrash-it-out punk bands out there. What sets the Thermals apart is they've found that punk rock promised land of having fun without being goofy.

The band opened with a string of songs off their latest album, last year's religious-themed "The Body the Blood the Machine." Tracks like "Here's Your Future" and "An Ear for Baby," made for great scream-alongs, with lines like "God reached his hands out from the sky/God asked Noah if he wanted to die/ he said no sir, oh no sir" and "God said here's your future ... it's gonna rain."

The band played almost the whole album last night (including a standout version of "Saint Rosa), sprinkling it in between a solid amount of songs from their older albums. Toward the end, the songs started to bleed together slightly, an unavoidable drawback of such a simple sound. But, smartly, they had held back two of "The Body he Blood the Machine's" best tracks, "Pillar of Salt" and "Returning to the Fold," which revved the crowd back up for the encore.

Despite playing and sweating her guts out, bassist Kathy Foster perched outside the Casbah after the show. With the same energy and sly smile that makes her so compelling on stage, she signed vinyl, talked to fans, and gave a thumbs-down to the House of Blues, (right on!) where they played last time they came through San Diego. she also agreed to strike the Heisman pose, for which we at Baby Heisman thank her.