Friday, November 30, 2012

Tomorrow: Eternal Summers @ Happy Dog

Another Happy Dog Show!  I'm a little surprised to see Eternal Summers playing there, but should be fun.  I'll just remember my ear plugs.  :-)  If you haven't heard these guys, they're self-described as "dream punk" and come from Roanoke, VA.  I've grabbed their last couple albums and have been enjoying them.  And besides, I missed them last time.
Opening is Chomp - who I discovered after some investigation is made up from some of the Cloud Nothings crew (fun!).  Listen to (and buy) their new album here.  Summerays is also opening, a local surf-pop band you can listen to here.  Should be a great night of music and dogs.  Check out their new video here:
Eternal summers 071712 download

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tomorrow: The Stray Birds @ Happy Days Lodge (CVNP)

I couldn't imagine a better way to close out the CVNP Heritage Concert Series season than with The Stray Birds.  Check these guys out below and see why.
The Stray Birds, a buzzed-about young acoustic trio will bring their rootsy sound to Cuyahoga Valley National Park on Friday, November 30 when they perform at the season's last concert of the Cuyahoga Valley Heritage Series - Drawing upon the richness of American folk music traditions, the signature power of The Stray Birds sound lies in outstanding songwriting that soars in three-part harmony. Raised on music within a few miles of farmland from each other, The Stray Birds were born of a compelling collaboration between two unique writers and vocalists-- the pure, luxurious voice of Maya de Vitry and Oliver Craven's richness of tone and depth of delivery. Grounding their sound in the unshakeable groove of bassist Charles Muench, The Stray Birds are a trio of captivating chemistry and sensitive musicality. From bustling street corners to silent halls, their performances speak to an uncompromising reverence for songs.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Release: Solange's True

I've been downright giddy about the new Solange track, Losing You, for several weeks now.  I posted it (immediately) on my Video Tuesday (watch it if you haven't!), and yesterday was finally the day her new EP just got released.  I found this cool little Rdio widget where you can preview it.  This is so exciting, that I even posted two little reviews below.  GIDDY! 

Maybe it’s because she’s Beyonce’s sister, or because she’s responsible for a few undervalued pop gems like ‘Sandcastle Disco’ and ‘I Decided,’ or maybe even because her first real single in a few years, ‘Losing You,’ is so damn good, but it feels like Solange has a lot riding on True, her Dev Hynes-produced comeback EP released through Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor-ran Terrible Records.

(Continued... Solange - 'True' EP « Pretty Much Amazing)

"Sure, Solange is the sister of R&B/pop princess Beyoncé — a fact that will probably never be omitted from her CV. But while her musical means (a soaring soprano; wisely chosen collaborators) are similar to the elder Knowles, the ends are significantly different. Sloughing off her two previous commercial-leaning efforts (including 2008′s Cee-Lo Green/Mark Ronson written Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams), Solange enlisted production help from Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes for her new EP, True. The result is a candy-coated, left-of-center R&B playground.

Over seven songs, Solange coolly wields both a material-girl sheen and a recumbent royal swagger. Even when engaging in the vocal gymnastics of ‘Bad Girls,’ she holds her power with a loose fist, avoiding a lapse into American Idol-style histrionics. ‘Look Good With Trouble’ plays with Solange’s impressive restraint, its sense of late-night seduction created via layers of hypnotic looped vocals and minimal beats. The gloves come off for good-girl-gone-bad ‘Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work,’ but even here Solange purrs the titular expletive with a dignified Supremes-style grace. However, her star power glows brightest on the crunchy, of Montreal-style freak-fest ‘Losing You.’ Over a slow groove dotted with squealed vocal samples and light funk-guitar flourishes, Solange proves that she doesn’t have to shout to subvert the mold, or break it completely."

(Continued... Solange, True | eMusic News & Features)

(the album cover - boring as it is - is above… here's just a cool photo from the video)

Solange Losing You Video

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Release: Martha Wainwright - Come Home To Mama

I've been holding onto this post, probably longer than what would make it a "new release". For no good reason really, but this Tiny Desk video threw me over the top.  I've found Martha Wainwright's albums have been slowly drifting off my radar since the first album (S/T).  Her newest release, Come Home to Mama, as brought me right back around, which may be a result of the album's very personal inspiration.  Check out this NPR performance and read a bit more about her album below.


First Listen: Martha Wainwright, 'Come Home To Mama' : NPR

"The word 'confessional' has some unpleasant connotations when the topic is singer-songwriters: It's often used as a benign-sounding stand-in for 'overwrought' or 'over-sharing.' But Martha Wainwright is a confessional singer-songwriter in the best possible way. She writes truthfully, self-effacingly, in ways that accept blame and examine raw emotions that can't be explained away in shorthand. Wainwright may have first penetrated the public consciousness with a heartsick screw-you anthem whose title can't be printed here, but she's spent her entire career trafficking in thorny complexities.

Out Oct. 16, Come Home to Mama is, understandably, largely about motherhood: Since the release of her last studio album, 2008's evocatively titled I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too, Wainwright gave birth to a son and lost her mother, the singer Kate McGarrigle. Loss and rebirth flow through the veins of Come Home to Mama, particularly in its two most affecting songs, 'Proserpina' and 'Everything Wrong.' In 'Proserpina,' Wainwright pays tribute to her mother by singing the last song McGarrigle ever wrote — it's goosebump-inducingly gorgeous — while in 'Everything Wrong,' she humbly examines life as a bumpy continuum, blazing a jagged but ultimately optimistic path across three generations."

(Continued... First Listen: Martha Wainwright, 'Come Home To Mama' : NPR)

Martha wainwright come home to mama

Video Tuesday

It's another mixed-bag, but I kinda like those.  Starting off is my kinda video game video, Hot Chip's Don't Deny Your Heart.  Next up is the earthy Mynabirds with Body of Work.  Next up is a old favorite with a new video (new album?) for Nocturnal Emissions by Shilpa Ray.
 This week's bonus (mostly because it's so tall to be so wide) is Chromatics with Cherry.  More for the song than video.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (11/25/12)

I've been crushing on the new Macklemore & Ryan Lewis album, The Heist, these past couple weeks.  I'm smitten with his brand of conscious, intelligent rap.  He's an amazing lyricist, and props to Ryan Lewis for upping an already great production game.  This Cleveland show (originally scheduled for the Grog Shop!) was one of the last shows to sell out on his entirely sold-out tour, and thankfully so (giving us time to get tix).  Pretty impressive for an independent artist.

As expected, the audience was young and white. Macklemore even raps about this on his 2009 Language of My World album (which is also great).  We were easily two of maybe 10 people in the sold out show who were over 25.  Most were drunk, loud and the girls were scantily clad.  I have never seen so many mini skirts in one place.  Is there a classification for a skirt shorter than a mini skirt - because that's what these would be.  As amazing of a crowd watching experience as this was, this night was really about Macklemore.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (11/25/12)

In grand rap fashion, Macklemore took the stage and instantly engaged the fanatic, sold-out crowd.  I thought I would never see a crowd as excited as Matt & Kim's, but this kept pace.  He ran through his hits, dropping Thrift Shop early.  Macklemore pointed out that at every show, at least one person comes wearing a fur coat, so he just has them pass it up to the front and performs in it.  After the song, he even talked about giving these dead animals a second life - as they're being crowd surfed back to their owner.  Here are some clips, including Thrift Shop.

I was particularly intrigued as to how he would approach his second single off The Heist, Same Love, a song about marriage equality for gays & lesbians.  With this kind of audience, I wouldn't have expected the reception they received (maybe that's my older mentality not being current).  Macklemore even gave the song a long intro, giving props to his home state of Washington for passing it.  The whole experience gave me chills.  Check it out.

I was thrilled with this show.  I'm already ready for what's next from these guys.

Dan Bern (11/24/12)

Thanksgiving is a time for comfort, with going home and visiting family and participating in those familiar feasts.  Musically, this weekend was a coming home as well.  First was Catie Curtis at Nighttown, then on Saturday I went to see Dan Bern at the Beachland Tavern.  I wouldn't be surprised if I started listening to both of these artists on the same week back some 15 years ago.  Seeing them again is comfort indeed.

This was an (extremely) early show for the Beachland on a Saturday night (and a seated show to boot).  Opening was Diana Chittester, who should be right up my alley, but fell pretty flat (like her exposed tummy). Moving on… 

Dan Bern (11/24/12)

My shows with Dan have sometimes been a mixed bag - but this night was one of his best.  With an amazing multi-instrumentalist by his side, Dan wooed the crowd with his witty banter and cool demeanor.  If there's one word that comes to mind about Dan, it's authentic.  This guy is the real deal.  

Dan Bern (11/24/12)

There's something about his stories of wine, women, weed and baseball that make me want to live in his world (well, at least 2 out of the 4).  He's incredibly intelligent and definitely connected to the human reality.  It's incredibly refreshing.  Especially when he can write a song for the OSU win over Michigan for an audience that night (and it be a fun, enjoyable song!).  As Dan puts it, you won't be getting that from Carley Rae Jepsen (I don't even care if I spelled that right).  :-)

He ended the night with a couple tracks performed amongst the audience.  A wonderful treat.  It's hard to not smile ear to ear.

Dan Bern (11/24/12)

Catie Curtis (11/20/12)

I can't think of a better way to start off the Holiday season than a Holiday show by Catie Curtis at Nighttown.  Catie is one of my long-time favorite singer-songwriters, and love when I can catch her live.  Particularly in such a comfortable environment as Nighttown… dinner AND a show - all by 9:30pm!

Despite some lyrical glitches, Catie was as charming as ever.  Let the holidays begin!

Catie Curtis (11/20/12)

Catie Curtis (11/20/12)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Video Tuesday

Some interesting selections this week - to say the least.  Purity Ring put out a pretty sweet video for Lofticries (which matches the sweetness of the song).  The next video by Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra, for Do It With A Rockstar, is NSFW!!  But pretty amazing none-the-less, and directed by Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips). Last is the first video off of Hercules & Love Affair's DJ-Kicks album for Release Me.  I've been totally digging this dj-kicks albums lately, so I can't wait to hear more from this one.
I don't know wtf is happening in this new Mumford & Sons video - but I'll share it anyway - because it's Mumford & Sons.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Jeff Mangum Show Moved

So while I'm not crazy that the Jan. 11th Jeff Mangum show is heading to a bigger venue - I am glad to see how good it's selling.  (It moved from the Ohio City to the main Cleveland Masonic Auditorium.)  But you know what, mentioning this was really just a reason to post a cover of The Avett Brothers doing Neutral Milk Hotel. (swoon)

Avett Brothers Cover Neutral Milk Hotel

"The Avett Brothers have put some moving originals to tape over the years, but there’s something especially endearing to this group when they share new covers. Perhaps it’s the humble reminder of the greats from whom they’ve drawn inspiration or that these clips bleed with reverence while not playing it too safe (or too faithful) to the original, but the result tends to be added appreciation for both sides of the equation. A fine homage, in other words, and their new spin through Neutral Milk Hotel’s ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’ is no different. Seth Avett even conjures Jeff Mangum a bit here, while the theremin part played on violin makes for another nice touch. Check it out above.

Previously: Seth Avett Covers Elliott Smith"

(Continued... Avett Brothers Cover Neutral Milk Hotel)

Matt & Kim / Oberhofer (11/13/12)

Once again, I'm including both bands in the title.  This time it was because Oberhofer really put me over the top to see Matt & Kim at the House of Blues.  With a sold-out crowd to boot.  Oberhofer were spot-on.  And for this show, they really amped things up a bit - because they had to.  Opening for Matt & Kim is a daunting task, but Oberhofer really brought their A-Game.  A+

Oberhofer (11/13/12)

Very few bands can whip a crowd into a frenzy like Matt & Kim.  It really is strange…  I like Matt & Kim well enough, but I have to say I do think their show is a little hokey at times.  Sure they're good people and put on a crazy-fun live show - but somewhere I struggle with authenticity.  Maybe it's just because I don't see how anyone can have that much energy on a tour.  I thought during this show that it would probably be my last Matt & Kim show (if only for putting my money & time to bands that need it), but they're already coming back and opening for Passion Pit - so our relationship may not be over yet.  So… wanna see a crowd whipped into a frenzy?

Matt & Kim (11/13/12)

Check out Scene's post for a less cynical review.  :-)

Concert Review: Matt & Kim at House of Blues | Scene and Heard: Scene's News Blog

A Matt & Kim concert is more than just a concert. Last night before a sold out crowd at House of Blues, the duo pulled out all the stops. We’re talking confetti and balloons, sing-a-longs and crowd-surfing. Playing on an elevated platform atop the House of Blue’s stages, singer-keyboardist Matt Johnson and drummer Kim Schifino displayed the kind of exuberance that makes you think they must be on some seriously good drugs. Not that we’re implying they’re not genuine or anything like that"

(Continued... Concert Review: Matt & Kim at House of Blues | Scene and Heard: Scene's News Blog)

David Dondero / Selah Sue / Allen Stone (11/11/12)

While I don't typically include openers in the title of "concert reviews" (I use that term very lightly), this show was a bit different.  The reason this show even hit my radar is because of David Dondero - who I feel is one of the best male singer-songwriters out there today, with the ability to craft songs and tell stories like few can.  That and he has an amazing voice…  But as any good music blogger - I checked out the other bands, of which there were 3.  Allen Stone was headlining, with Selah Sue and (some other band) opening.

Not knowing the exact order, we purposely missed the first act, but walked in during David Dondero, who we just then discovered as playing 2nd.  He was sounding great, but knowing what I knew about the headliner, this was not David's typical audience (I'll get to that later).  With a healthy dose of self-deprecation, David sounded great and definitely played the role of a rough-around-the-edges, gritty folk artist. He asked if anyone there knew his music and I cheered, but when he asked for requests (which I had one), I couldn't give it because I missed his opening and wasn't sure if he'd played it (Rothko Chapel for those interested).  Needless to say, I didn't get to capture the best song for video - but it's something.

David Dondero (11/11/12)

Selah Sue was next, and other than being a single person on stage with a guitar - she couldn't have been more different.  A firecracker of a performer, somewhere between Amy Winehouse & Adele.  She had a stunning voice and an infectious personality.  I really want explore her music further.

Selah Sue (11/11/12)

(check out a really fun cover of Missy Elliott's Oops (Oh My) here)

Finally the headliner… Allen Stone, who represented pure juxtaposition for me.  A corny looking white-guy playing the most sweet and soulful R&B.  He felt like pure Motown.  The issue… I didn't really connect with his music.  A great "story" and great sound - but something was missing…  Maybe just a reality that I can't connect with all good music.  But no reason to sway you away from checking him out.

Allen Stone (11/11/12)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Video Tuesday

Uh, whoops.  First up, Das Racist crushes it with Girl.  Crushes it.  Next up is Alt-J's other-worldly Fitzpleasure. Finally a new track (and fun video) by the Octopus Project for Whitby.

Bonus: My Total Crush, Ezra Furman asking "Are you Gonna Break My Heart". (no, I won't)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Madonna (11/10/12)

So it only took 6 years, but I finally fulfilled my commitment to see Madonna live again.  And this time going from last row to 7th, which was quite the treat!  And once again, I was dazzled by the spectacle that is Cirque Du Madonna, AND that she continues pushing forward with new music - covering a lot of ground from her new album (which has some gems on it).  Particularly, the screen and raising floor pillars really made the show dynamic.  I also enjoy Madonna's statements, which in this show included LGBT & the Occupy movements.  You can check out a full review over at, otherwise, see for yourself:

And some photos…

Madonna (11/10/12)

Madonna (11/10/12)

Madonna (11/10/12)

Madonna (11/10/12)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Article: Is Facebook Advertising For Bands Worth It?

Hypebot is back again with some spot-on industry insight.

Is Facebook Advertising For Bands Worth It? - hypebot

"Welcome to the world of advertising, where strength in numbers is the name of the game, and those numbers are always prefixed with a dollar sign. You want to kickstart momentum for your career then yes, select results can be seen by sprinkling some magic money dust on your musical beans. But the truth is, without genuinely generated buzz outside of the lurid lucre of mommy and daddies credit card, you would get more bang for your buck standing outside Best Buy, paying people $10 to listen to your album.

The real result of this newly formed ‘affordable’ advertising, is that we are now all taking less and less notice of the poorly shot promo pic to the right of our news feed. You know the one, declaring that if I ‘like the Foo Fighters’ then I am surely going to like ‘insert derivative band name here’. It’s taking the same nose dive in credibility that myspace did, except this time it is costing bands more than just their street cred."

(Continued... Is Facebook Advertising For Bands Worth It? - hypebot)

Tomorrow: Matt & Kim / Oberhofer @ House of Blues

These are repeat shows for me, but I'm still smitten with Oberhofer - and few can rile up an audience like Matt & Kim.  Who cares if it's at the House of Blues.  OK, I do a little - but still worth going.  I'm mean c'mon… 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Release: Alt-J's An Awesome Wave

I was prepped this "New Release" post a couple weeks ago, but now that they've won the Mercury Prize (and they're sales are up 411% since) I guess I should just post it:  Here's a new album for you.  Check out Alt-J, who's a British band considered in the nu-folk category of music and with references to "the new Radiohead".  Whatever.  They were mentioned for the Mercury Prize.  They were also just in Detroit, but I missed them.  The new album *is* worth a listen however.  I'm posting some reviews below, in include videos from La Blogotheque!

Artworks 000023431565 j3iz03 crop e1337800575473 

Alt-J - An Awesome Wave ~ Album Review | Synth Pop Indie Rock

"‘An Awesome Wave’ is as diverse as it is addictive. A mixture of pop, folk, and R&B. Slinking Indian beats one song ~ then bold island beats on the next. Dark bass-lines smear across much of the album while interesting atmosphere peppers it. All this diversity comes together in one unified piece of work that amazingly doesn’t feel experimental or come across as fake.

Alt-J Besides the obvious forerunner ‘Breezeblocks’, some other notable songs on the album are: ‘Tessellate’, a smooth and seductive song. And in this song Gwil hints at how the band came up with the name Alt-J (∆) as he reveals ‘Triangles are my favorite shape’."

(Continued... Alt-J - An Awesome Wave ~ Album Review | Synth Pop Indie Rock)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Total Crush: Ezra Furman

I really like this blog to focus solely on music, but being as pervasive as music is, politics will creep in…  I had already been planning a "Total Crush" segment to this blog (similar to Guilty Pleasure) and Ezra Furman was going to be my first post - particularly motivated by the video below.   Well, then he posted this post-election blog on Tumblr which just put me over the crush edge.  I think he's an incredibly smart, dynamic, connected individual who I could just fawn over all day.  Oh, and his music is good too.  ;-)

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Ezra Furman: A Guide for the Perplexed

"I think this election was a crucial step forward in that journey toward the American dream. Obama does not suffer from the terribly persistent Republican delusion that a government that works to improve the lives of its citizenry is somehow un-American. He instead suffers from the hopeful delusion that we could be ‘all in this together.’ As someone who believes in the inescapability of a certain level of delusion, I support our president’s version of madness. It may just be the sort of hopeful madness that can actually get us somewhere real. Wish me luck at my Vienna show tonight. It’s going to be tough to conceal my patriotism and optimism. Actually, I don’t think I’m going try."

(Read the Full Post here… Ezra Furman: A Guide for the Perplexed, It’s morning in Vienna. Interesting things have...)

See him in motion… swoon.

Xavier Rudd (11/4/12)

Seeing Xavier Rudd again was such a treat - and a sort of another "coming home".  His last show at House of Blues (7/24/07) was the first show I ever received a press pass for, and how thrilling it was - despite the embarrassment of my little point & shoot camera that I was using.  Flash forward 5 years, 3 albums, and a much better camera - and I was giddy about this show.

Xavier Rudd (11/4/12)

As expected, there was a hassle at the box office (oh HOB).  Upon walking in, I could tell this wasn't going to be the same as last time.  This time he was solo on stage, a smaller crowd, and I could already see a bunch of drunk Browns fans meandering about (why were they there??).  I was anticipating an acoustic nightmare.

Xavier Rudd (11/4/12)

Total props to Xavier because he was still as connected, sincere and relevant as ever.  His blend of world, folk, drumbeat is equally uplifting and inspiring - despite the drunk Clevelanders yelling at inappropriate times.  With a pared down stage & crowd, I would have much rather seen him perform at the Beachland Ballroom (omg I would LOVE that).  I'm still a die hard Xavier fan and would follow him anywhere.

Indigo Girls (11/1/12)

I didn't make much a'do about this show.  Seeing them is like a coming home…  comfortable, but not really exciting.  Seeing them at Playhouse Square was a treat.  They sounded really good and the audience participation was tops.  As far as new stuff… I'm really drawn to Amy's solo stuff these days, but I bet the Indigo Girls stuff still pays the bills.  I'm fine with that, and I'm more than happy to chip in.

Indigo Girls (11/1/12)

Savoir Adore (10/24/112)

I'm a sucker for good pop music, which is hard to find on the live on the concert circuit - so I'm happy to give any pop band a chance…  This was my approach to Savoir Adore who I really didn't have much prior knowledge of.  I checked out their Our Nature album and liked what I heard…  They really have a lush, atmospheric pop sound about them.  Live, they were pretty good.  It's hard to drum up a bunch of excitement for such a sparse crowd, but I give these guys credit for pushing out an exuberant live show despite.  Their album is worth a listen!

Savoir Adore (10/24/12)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Video Tuesday

Check out some new(isn) stuff!  First up is Yeasayer's Reagan's Skeleton (great song). Next, fun. stuns me again with an uplifting video for Carry On - making me want to do just that.  Finally, my favorite Canadian folkies Jon & Roy have a great song with Somebody Knows.  


Bonus, the xx's Chained.

Monday, November 5, 2012

New Find: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Sure they may have already hit #2 on the Billboard Charts, but I don't really follow those anyway.  I saw a bit of Macklemore back on BET's Backroom freestyle segment and thought he was good.  I also read this piece on The Lefsetz Letter too (on the changing nature of the Music Business, highlighting how Macklemore is doing this independently).  But it really wasn't until this Ellen piece that caught my attention.

But let's step back a bit.  Macklemore has been around for quite a while, but partnering up with Ryan Lewis really set things up for him.  Here's the breakthrough video for Thrift Shop.  Stunning.

This is the video that caught Ellen's attention.

Oh, did I mention he's coming to Cleveland??  <iframe width="560" height="315" src=";hl=en_US" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>  Tickets are almost sold out!