The Coldest Morning Light

The Pharmacy - “Coldest Morning Light”

Sigh. It’s hard to be a music snob. Really it is.  It causes a lot of mental agitation and angst when you’re not in control of your music destiny.  Take the past four days as a case in point, where I immersed myself willingly in a yoga retreat, voluntarily abstaining from my usual mental masturbation of work, music, blogging and other social media. As a result, my unoccupied mind went into a panic. The only cure, of course, was music. In need of a distraction my mind started creating playlists in my head (coming your way soon). I made a game out of coming up with the perfect song for every pose, every memorable moment. I turned into Mary Katherine Gallagher, whose feelings could be best expressed by …well you know the rest.

This morning when I woke up to the cold rain and fog clinging against the Napa hillsides, my mind immediately went to The Pharmacy’s, ‘Cold Morning Light’. First discovered at SXSW this year, the New Orleans based trio has an interesting garage pop vibe that hooked me immediately. The band is heading out on a European tour, along with other acts like Dum Dum Girls, in support of their current album Weekend. Check it out EU friends.

How It Always Ends…

Fox Royal“How It Always Ends”

“Across The Room”

A perfectly themed post, thanks to Austin, Texas-based Fox Royal who’ve just finished recording their EP, Us Against Us Again. The four piece met and formed in Lubbock, TX then relocate to the Music Capital of the World and have been performing shows around Austin ever since. They’ve got a couple coming up: Tuesday, 10/12, at Red 7, and 11/9, at The Mohawk.

*sigh* Austin. I miss you.

Relationship Hype Cycle

Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings“Better Things”

I’ve been studying way too many technology hype cycles lately, especially working in the mobile apps space where there’s lots and lots of growth, hype and expectation. I couldn’t help but muse recently the startling similarities between technology hype cycles and love relationships.  It’s jaw dropping actually.  See for yourself.  Correlate these hype cycle phases with the amount of time currently invested in your own relationship and tell me….where are you in the relationship hype cycle? Scary, huh.

But don’t despair, if you’re wallowing in the Trough of Disillusionment (and that’s a really hard place to be), let me suggest some inspirational sounds from Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings new album I Learned the Hard Way. Because at the end of the day that’s the only way we ever really learn, isn’t it? The hard way. Featuring tracks like, “The Game Gets Old,” “Without a Heart”, and “Momma Don’t Like My Man”, I think Sharon has a thing or two to teach you about love and relationships… and get you back on the path to the Slope of Enlightenment.  Because we’ve all got “better things to do.”

I Think I’m Having a Mid-Life Crisis…

Malachai - “Snowflake”

Seriously. I’m coveting muscle cars? What’s wrong with me! I’ve never done that before. First it was the little old lady in the pristine 1974 Ford Mustang taunting me every morning as I drive down Van Ness en route to work.  Now this parks next to me on a daily basis, begging for my affection. Well, you have it pretty lady. Every time I see you I want to rip off my clothes and have hot, sweaty sex on your benchseat. And I didn’t even know your name. I do now. Dodge Charger. Year? You tell me.

Damn, what a badass car. It’s so Clint Eastwood. And you can’t have a badass car without some badass music. Bristol, England’s Malachai will do quite nicely in this beauty, thank you very much. Their new album, Ugly Side of Love, is as raw, vintage and hot as this machine. Just check out the track “Snowflake” and see for yourself. Perfection.

Stuck in My Head: High Places – “On Giving Up” [Free MP3]

High Places - “On Giving Up”

High Places is set to release their second LP, High Places vs. Mankind, on Thrill Jockey in early April. The album takes on the daunting subject matter of being human and what it’s like to interact with other people. The duo cover a wide range of material from romantic relationships to addiction, aging, and death. Definitely a more somber and serious tone that their lighthearted debut. I like it. And this advance track, “On Giving Up”, has been firmly planted in my head all week.  Enjoy.

Radiohead Benefit for Haiti – Concert Review, Set List, Video



Standing on the floor of LA’s Music Box Theater last night waiting for the Radiohead Benefit for Haiti to begin, it was hard not to muse over the crowd – a mix of the star-studded Hollywood elite and die-hard fans.  On my immediate right was 007 himself, Daniel Craig.  In front of me, some dude from The Practice (sorry, not up on my TV).  And to my left was a lone 18-year-old kid in a fur earflap hat trying to borrow one of our mobile phones so he could text his friends he made it in.  Hmm, I thought.  If you don’t even own a cell phone how could you possibly even afford the $475 minimum ticket price for tonight’s show.  Turns out he traded a scalper his MacBook Pro for a ticket.

Clearly, this wasn’t your average Sunday night.  Nor was this your average concert. This was Radiohead, one of the biggest and influential bands of our time, getting ready to play a one-off gig at a venue the size of San Francisco’s Bimbos 365 Club. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and everyone knew it.

At 8:30 Thom Yorke and company took the stage and set the intention for the evening: “It’s going to be a sing along tonight.” And indeed it was.  They gently eased us into an epic evening of music with  “Faust Arp” followed by “Fake Plastic Trees” and “Arpeggi/Weird Fishes”. Then all hell broke loose when they launched into “National Anthem”/ “Nude”/ “Karma Police”. If you weren’t sing along or yelping with glee, you were finding God, speaking in tongues and uttering phrases like “Jesus Christ… Oh my God…Oh my FUCKING God!!!”

Yes, it was a religious experience.  The best moment? Pick one.  Pick any.  Like when Yorke serenaded us on the piano with “Everything In It’s Right Place,” or the novelty of the band asking the audience to choose the next song: “Just” or “Airbag”. (The latter won.) Or the sneak preview of their new song, “Lotus Flower.” It was all insane.  But for me, I lost my mind at “Bodysnatchers”.

In the end, and most importantly, the band raised over $570,000 for Haiti. We all helped to support the cause.  And we all walked away with an experience we won’t soon forget.

Set List
Faust Arp
Fake Plastic Trees
Arpeggi
National Anthem
Nude
Karma Police
Kid A
Morning Bell
How to Disappear Completely
Wolf at the Door
The Bends
Recokoner
Lucky
Bodysnatchers
Dollars and Cents
Airbag
Exit Music (for a Film)

First Encore
Everything in It’s Right Place
You & Whose Army?
Pyramid Song
All I Need

Second Encore
Lotus Flower (new song)
Paranoid Android
Street Spirit

Stuck in my Head: Noah and The Whale – “Five Years Time”

What a Smile, Mergui

With all the buzz surrounding London-based Noah and The Whale’s much anticipated sophomore release, “First Days of Spring“, I couldn’t help but get nostalgic for this track that I love so much from their debut album released last year. It’s such a sweet song – joyous and childlike – that it makes me nostalgic everytime I hear it for this place and time five years ago, sailing the Mergui archipelago off the coast of Burma. A trip of a lifetime that still holds the title of ‘best trip’.  And I’ve been to some cool places.
But there’s nothing like meandering through a chain of 800 completely isolated, undeveloped, uninhabited and breathtaking islands.  The only people we encountered during that trip were the local sea gypsies, like this little girl who was so vivacious and infectious she charmed me out of every possession on my body. Who knows how her life has unfolded, five years later, but I’m sure she’s still skipping along, doling out love and smiles where ever she goes…..“There’ll be love, love, love where ever you go.”
Noah and The Whale have just announced a limited US tour next month in support of their new album, “First Days of Spring”, that hits October 6.  Lucky for me, they’re heading our way!
OCTOBER
20 - Los Angeles, Calif. @ The Roxy Theatre
22 – San Francisco, Calif. @ Swedish American Hall
24 – Seattle, Wash. @ Crocodile Cafe
25 – Portland, Ore. @ Doug Fir Lounge
29 – Chicago, Ill. @ Lakeshore Theater
30 – Pontiac, Mich. @ The Crofoot’s Pike Room
31 – Toronto, Ontario @ The Horseshoe Tavern

My Namesake

photo

J. Tillman – “First Born”

Meet what very well might be the first race horse in history named after a Twitter handle, Indy Rocker Girl. Those are my nieces and nephew checking out the foal their Grandpa named in my honor (endearingly botched in only the way my Dad could manage.) I got this photo in my inbox just before heading out to see J. Tillman last night at Cafe du Nord and the combination of the two elements really made me homesick.

I think it was the pedal guitar that got me. It does every time. Listening to the talented Mr. Tillman’s beautifully plucked guitar and weeping sounds of the pedal steel guitar, it finally hit me why I’m such a sucker for it. It’s home. As much as I grew up on the alternative sounds of WOXY, so I did country and bluegrass music in my Dad’s pick up truck. Regular pilgrimages across the border to the Kentucky Bluegrass Festival made me a lifelong fan of the banjo, pedal guitar and heartfelt lyrics.

J. Tillman and his band are just that – and more. Their music is honest and real. In a time when so much indie music seems contrived and trite, it’s a refreshing respite. I had such a feeling of contentment after that show. My chicken soup for the soul, I guess. If only I could have had a patch of real bluegrass to sink my bare feet into….