Thursday, February 28, 2008

Smashing Pumpkins Cover Dylan

After seeing the concert film/documentary The Last Waltz a couple weeks ago, I've been listening to Bob Dylan's song "Forever Young" a couple times every day. I was surprised to find a Smashing Pumpkins cover of it on Berkeley Place, a unique blog that posts a lot of rare concerts and bootlegs. The Pumpkins play a pretty straightforward cover of the song. However, Corgan's unmistakable voice sets this version apart from the original, which features Dylan's also unmistakable vocals.

Smashing Pumpkins- Forever Young (Cover)

Bob Dylan- Forever Young

Monday, February 25, 2008

New Tapes 'n Tapes

Tapes 'n Tapes released the first single off their new album about a week ago. "Hang Them All" is off of their album Walk It Off, which is scheduled to be released on April 8th. I enjoyed their first album, The Loon, giving me high expectations for their second LP. After a couple listens, "Hang Them All" is a solid song, not straying too far from the sound that made The Loon so great. Have a listen for yourself and tell me what you think about it.

Tapes 'n Tapes- Hang Them All

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Album and Concert Review: Evangelicals, The Evening Descends

“Strange things keep happenin’ all around my head!” This lyric, shouted frantically by Evangelicals’ front man Josh Jones on “Bellawood” gives one a taste of what Evangelicals’ second album The Evening Descends is all about. An indie rock band from Norman, Oklahoma, Evangelicals deliver a trippy, dense, and ultimately satisfying experience with The Evening Descends.

The Evening Descends, available on label Dead Oceans, is a sonically diverse album, tossing together synthesizers, awesome guitar parts, and spacey vocals for a unique psychedelic sound. The album has a cohesive flow to it, each song segueing into the next, giving it the feel of a journey into wild dreams, nightmares, and insanity. Taking a page from Pixies, Evangelicals utilize dynamic contrast in many of their songs, snapping from full-bore rocking out to quiet vocal parts in the blink of an eye. Just as a song cannot get any more intense, the instruments rescind, leaving only Josh Jones’ haunting voice riding on top of a lone synth or guitar, crying out in the empty space before the band kicks back in.

“Skeleton Man” is the excellent first single off of The Evening Descends. Featuring a bouncy baseline, “Skeleton Man” descends into a maze of noise after the first verse, before launching into a beautiful section with ghostly backing vocals. Jones proclaims, “I once was a skeleton”, laughing maniacally into the microphone. Another highlight from the album is “Midnight Vignette”, with its multi-tracked vocals and prominent guitar evoking a creepier version of Queen. Currently a music video is out for “Midnight Vignette”, mirroring the song’s eerie vibe with horror movie visuals. “Bellawood” kicks off with a sample of a tense man saying, “They’re ganging up on me. What’ll I do?” The song then proceeds into crazy haunted house rock, complete with quavering vocals and ghoulish oohs. The song ends with Jones yelping over and over, “Strange things keep happenin’ all around my head.” Without a weak track on the album, Evangelicals’ The Evening Descends makes for engrossing listening as well as intriguing road trip music.

Not only are Evangelicals superb in the studio, they also excel in their live show. Clint and I had the opportunity to see them play down at Mojo’s down in Columbia with Penny Marvel and Gentleman Auction House. This was Evangelicals’ first show on their tour to promote The Evening Descends. Evangelicals didn’t start their set until nearly midnight, as the previous two bands were running late. Josh Jones came onstage wearing a sequined cape and a velvet lampshade on his head. Halfway into their first song “Midnight Vignette”, Jones shed both the cape and the lampshade. About a minute into the second song, the drummer broke his kick-drum, causing a brief lull in the concert. Luckily, Gentleman Auction House came to the rescue with a fresh drum and the concert continued. Evangelicals stuck mainly to songs off of The Evening Descends, their energy and enthusiasm infecting the crowd that stuck around late to see them. During a few songs, Evangelicals fired up a smoke machine, casting the band in a trippy haze, the smoke sliced apart by Mojo’s modest lighting system. Evangelicals closed with “Skeleton Man”, an excellent end to a great concert.

Evangelicals’ The Evening Descends is a spectacular sophomore effort. Evangelicals is currently on a tour spanning many areas of the United States. You can check out the individual dates on their MySpace. Evangelicals is playing at the Billiken Club at St. Louis University on March 8th with Headlights and Catfish Haven, two other first-rate bands.

I give The Evening Descends a handlebar moustache. (5 out of 5)

Evangelicals- "Skeleton Man"
Evangelicals- "Bellawood"

Single Songle: "Turning Red"

Recently a project went underway called “Sound of Color.” In this project 5 artists were each assigned a color to write a song about. The artist that snagged my eye was Dntel, the main/side/lateral project of Jimmy Tamborello. His other projects are Figurine, James Figurine, and the most popular Postal Service. Previous Dntel work has been genius, but only accessible to those willing to immerse themselves in the static. This time Tamborello took the warmth of his assigned color, red, and made a song for all those Postal Service fans. “Turning Red” includes the video game bleeps that are reminiscent of “Brand New Colony,’ but simultaneously hinting at LCD Soundsystem’s “Get Innocuous.” The lyrics are some of the most honest and straightforward that I have heard in a while. One of my idiosyncrasies is that I am a sucker for love songs, and this is no exception. Tamborello gives his sentiments on a relationship that one should be comfortable and relaxed in, but for him it is still new, fresh, exciting, nerve-racking, and fun, which are all the feelings that one can expect at the outset of a new relationship. I am still digesting the song, but so far this single gets the Fu Manchu. I only wish that this could have been release pre-February 14, so that the Salad could have included it on a V-day post.


Turning Red - Dntel

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pagan Angel in a Sold-Out Chapel

With a recent haircut and a freshly-trimmed beard, Sam Beam took the stage in the Edman Chapel at Wheaton College on February 15. Located outside of Chicago, the university is known as being one of the top five Christian colleges in the United States. The campus is incredibly strict on who visits or even what the students are allowed to do. It has not even been a decade since they had totally lifted a ban on dancing. How would a venue as strict as this affect the musical genius behind Iron & Wine? If anything, Sam Beam capitalized on this and made this solo show on of his greatest.

Appearing on stage after a short opening band, Sam nonchalantly approached the microphone. After a quick introduction, Sam explained how his show would go down. “They told me I couldn’t swear,” he said. Most of the audience turned and looked at each other, wondering how they could censor his art. The way Sam said it, it seemed Wheaton officials had sprung this on him not long before show time. He quickly loosened the audience back up by adding, “So anytime there’s a wordy-dird, I’m just not gonna say or play anything. You can fill it in if you want, though. There’s a lot to choose from,” getting a laugh from the crowd. With that, the show began.

What a beginning it was. Most fans come to Iron & Wine shows hoping that Sam will play “The Trapeze Swinger”, a nine and a half minute epic with some of his best lyrics and loveliest guitar, but recently it seems like he had been avoiding the song. The reaction when he started playing the recognizable guitar opening was unbelievable. The fact he opened the show with one of the biggest fan favorites blew the audience away. Sam’s rendition slowed it down ever so slightly, allowing him to have more fun with the vocals at first, and then deliver them with full force at the end to add to them emotional impact of the lyrics. After the first song had ended, the crowd seemed more than satisfied with the show, happy paying twenty dollars to hear that song alone.
Sam continued with hit after hit with “Woman King” and “Wolves (Song of the Shepherd’s Dog)”. Introducing the next as “a song about Jesus”, Sam played “Jesus the Mexican Boy”, much to the confusion and dismay of the Wheaton officials scattered throughout the venue. After the song, he apologized but said he had to do it, “being in a church makes me uncomfortable”. Although he told the crowd he felt this way, eventually no one would be able to see it. Sam began to loosen up and joke around, having fun with the audience (making light of the recent uplifting of the ban, saying, “So you guys can dance now… That’s awesome.”). Sam’s presence on stage was excellent. He continued to impress the audience by strumming once and tuning his guitar so quickly, there was barely anytime between songs. “I’ve got a tuner right here, I don’t know why I’m doing this,” joking about tuning his guitar himself. Whenever he began to play, cheers would always go up. Once after one fan cheered uproariously during the opening of a song, Sam stopped to question him, “Do you know what this song is?”. The fan, confused, didn’t say anything. Sam, poking fun at his audience and himself, responded, laughing, “The openings, they all sound the same, come on!” Sam clearly was enjoying himself, declaring, “ I didn’t know church could be this fun!”

Sam played an array of songs, coming from various albums and EPs, including “The Devil Never Sleeps”, “Evening on the Ground (Lilith’s Song)”, and “Jezebel”. Finally, Sam left the stage after playing the always-moving “Resurrection Fern”. After leaving the audience in suspense for a minute, Sam returned to play one last song. “This one’s for the Northern students,” he quietly declared, silencing the crowd. With that, he began to play “Dead Man’s Will”, a fitting song and a fitting tribute. Tears came to the eyes of crowd members as Sam sang, “May my love reach you all / I locked it in myself and buried it too long / Now that I come to fall / Please say it’s not too late now that I’m dead and gone.” The song, as well as the rest of the concert, left a lasting impression on all those who attended which won’t be soon forgotten. Sam Beam will now rejoin with Iron & Wine for an international tour, set to return to North America in a month and a half.

Resurrection Fern (Live in Chicago, 09-23-07) - Iron & Wine

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Warm Kiss Instead of a Cold Goodbye

“We have just put out word that we will not be making a new Format album.” February 4, these words were posted on The Format’s site in a blog by lead singer and lyricist Nate Ruess. Apparently the band is in different places musically now and another Format album just doesn’t seem right to them. Immediately, fans began responding, sending their sadness, sympathy, and even disbelief to the band. Even now, weeks after the fact, some diehards have convinced themselves this is just an elaborate ruse to relieve the band of some pressure about releasing their album. It appears clear, however, that The Format have decided no longer to tour or record, leaving a gaping hole in modern music.

Nate and long time friend Sam Means created The Format in 2001, eventually releasing their first demo (titled EP). Sam lead in writing the music to which Nate would then form lyrics to. Local radio began to play “The First Single”, one of the tracks on EP. The song began to garner attention from Elektra Records, who the band eventually signed with in 2002. The next year, they would release their first studio album, Interventions + Lullabies. “The First Single” would reappear on the album, and be released as their only single. It would not be, however, the only song on Interventions + Lullabies receive attention. Local radio stations also began to play “Tune Out”. The album also contains a major fan favorite, “On Your Porch”. Featuring some of Nate’s best lyrics and a simple but beautiful guitar part by Sam, the song remains to be among the band’s most popular.

After touring and a brief break, the band went back to the studio to record their next EP, Snails. Rumors have stated that this is where Sam and Nate began to see things differently, eventually leading to their hiatus. Sam had written a perky song that he had told Nate he wanted happy and short. Nate returned with slightly depressing lyrics that made the song over four minutes long. The song was released as Nate saw fit. Shortly after, the band was dropped from their label, Atlantic Records. In spite of this, they went on to form their own imprint label, Vanity Label. Under this, they released their highly anticipated sophomore album Dog Problems. It showed a huge evolution in the band, refining the sound (some would even say perfecting it). The album would give them national attention they had never received, or even expected, before. Dog Problems also received great reviews, much higher than those of Intervention + Lullabies.

Following the release of Dog Problems, The Format began to tour constantly in order to promote it. Because of the increased national attention, they were able to tour with bigger, more mainstream-famous bands such as All American Rejects, Jimmy Eat World, and Taking Back Sunday. Eventually, the band would co-headline a tour with Guster, playing colleges all across the United States on the Campus Consciousness tour. Eventually, The Format took off headlining their own tour, featuring bands such as Piebald and Steel Train. Regarded as one of the best shows to see live, the band promised a new album soon near the end of the shows. They also released B-Sides and Rarities, a collection of demos and covers to appease fans during the wait. It seems that it may be their final release.

Now, fans mourn the loss of the one of the greatest bands of our time. The Format found a way to blend a 1970’s pop sound with a punk and indie twist. They were a unique band with a sound all their own. However, fans must remember that everything is far from over. Nate has already promised a solo album, and he remains close friends with Sam. He has even gone on to say that getting the band back together may not be completely out of the question. For now, fans will have to sit back and listen to the already impressive discography and hope Nate and Sam are “doing alright.”

If Work Permits... - The Format

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

North American Radiohead Tour Dates Announced!

Pitchfork has posted some of Radiohead's North American Tour Dates. Most of these new dates are for the Southern areas on the tour. Also included are the previously announced European tour dates. Tickets go on sale for the Southern areas on Valentine's Day.

05-05 West Palm Beach, FL - Cruzan Amphitheatre
05-06 Tampa, FL - Ford Amphitheatre
05-08 Atlanta, GA - Lakewood Amphitheatre
05-09 Charlotte, NC - Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
05-11 Bristow, VA - Nissan Pavilion at Stone Ridge
05-14 St. Louis, MO - Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
05-17 Houston, TX - Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
05-18 Dallas, TX - Center
06-06 Dublin, Ireland - Malahide
06-07 Dublin, Ireland - Malahide
06-09 Paris, France - Bercy
06-10 Paris, France - Bercy
06-12 Barcelona, Spain - Parc del Fòrum
06-14 Nimes, France - Arenes
06-15 Nimes, France - Arenes
06-17 Milan, Italy - Civica Arena
06-18 Milan, Italy - Civica Arena
06-20 Neuhausen ob Eck, Germany - Southside Festival
06-22 Scheeßel, Germany - Hurricane Festival
06-24 London, England - Victoria Park
06-25 London, England - Victoria Park
06-27 Glasgow, Scotland - Glasgow Green
06-29 Manchester, England - Lancashire County Cricket Club
07-01 Amsterdam, Netherlands - Westerpark
07-03 Roskilde, Denmark - Roskilde Festival
07-04-05 Werchter, Belgium - Rock Werchter Festival
07-06 Arras, France - Main Square Festival
07-08 Berlin, Germany - Wuhlheide

Moustache Salad will definitely be checking out the St. Louis concert. Be on the lookout for a full concert review in a few months.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

2 Videos, 1 Look

Noah and the Whale have crooned their way into my ears for a few months now. My first exposure to the band was their video for "Five Years Time." Shot in Super 8 with a Wes Anderson feel, the music video hooked me from the first time I watched it. Since then, the band has released a video for their new single, "2 Bodies 1 Heart." Stumbling across the video this morning I was pretty psyched to watch it. The video started, and once again I saw the Super 8 media, and then, seconds later, the Wes Anderson titles started flowing. I love Wes Anderson, and I love the video for "Five Years Time," and well I loved this one too, but I felt a little cheated. I doubt the band or the director couldn't think of a new motif, since their music is so creative, but that might be the reason. I can't say that I didn't like the video, but I can say I was a little let down.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Album Review: Vampire Weekend


Release date:Jan 29, 2008.

The debut full length release and self-titled Vampire Weekend will make any hipster giggle at how relaxed the new-wave sound is.

Light-hearted and whimsical, this release puts an edgy spin on pop, and adds a new chill factor to your hearts.

With influences and kickbacks to west-african pop, afrobeat has found its way into the modern indie scene, and no one is complaining.

Carrying a not-quite-so-catchy feel to it, but enjoyable on all levels to no end. Listening to this will make you question whether you really had a vacancy in your heart for more indie-pop, but you immediately dismiss the notion because now you feel whole again.

I just can't get enough of this album, and I am sure it will somehow continue to surprise me months down the road.



I Stand Corrected

I really cannot wait to listen to this album when it is summer, and it will all come together.

Vampire Weekend deserves nothing less than a Fu Manchu's 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Living the Life of Sin: Jackson C. Frank

About a year ago I came across a bootleg live version of Colin Meloy (The Decemberists) covering a song called “Blues Run The Game.” I thought it was beautiful, and consequently fell in love with it. For many months it didn’t occur to me that this was a cover, although it should have because no ridiculously obscure diction embellished the lyrics. Then one day I thought to look up the song to see if it had a studio version. I found that there was no studio version, not from Colin anyway. The song is originally by a folk artist named Jackson C. Frank. Frank was American born, and later in life he left for England to record with Simon and Garfunkel. He was very shy and reserved, and in fact demanded a screen be set up while he recorded so that people couldn’t see him. In England Frank enjoyed moderate success, yet in America he was a nobody, which would have been different in today’s world because he could have developed a cult following, but in the late 60s, he was doomed. So, I would like to post the song “Blues Run The Game,” because I think it is one of the most beautiful songs ever written, and he should be recognized.


Blues Run The Game – Jackson C. Frank

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Bowl XLII Haiku

Three hail-marys, Bill?
Randy can't save you now, Tom.
Gisele loves Eli.

LCD Soundsystem- New York, I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down