Tag Archives: josh rouse

Take Five – The Birthday Edition

What’s my favorite song this week? If I was corny, I’d say “Happy Birthday,” because that’s what tomorrow is. But actually, my favorite song this week is Dizzee Rascal’s “Fix Up, Look Sharp.”

Without further ado…

RIYL…

Sunday nights are the big night for local music on the radio. WFNX’s former New England Product show has relaunched as Boston Accents, airing 8-10PM, and WZLX’s Boston Emissions is still going strong from 10PM-12AM (which sadly falls in the “Mad Men” time slot).

As a former college and community radio DJ, I love keeping tabs on this stuff. That’s why I’m jazzed about the next Rock Shop, which features Boston Accents’ Dave Duncan, Boston Emissions’ Anngelle Wood, WAAF’s Carmelita of Bay State Rock and WMBR’s Tim Kelly of The Hidden Capital. The event is at 7PM on Aug. 23 at the Middle East.

NEW RELEASES

  • I arrived back at the office after a four-day weekend and was greeted by Christmas in my mailbox: The new Mike Viola/Kelly Jones EP and the new Cloud Cult album, “Light Chasers,” had arrived! The Viola/Jones effort is sublime, as per usual, and I am beyond pleased to have a recording of their haunting duet of Viola’s classic “A Way to Say Goodbye” (now the third version of the song in my possession). “Light Chasers” is no “Feel Good Ghosts,” but what could be? It’s still a powerful, unabashedly honest rock record.
  • One of my favorite bands, Girlyman, has finally released an album consisting solely of tuning songs — the spontaneous nuggets of genius they always come up with during their live shows, usually while someone is tuning a guitar. The live compilation is $15, which may be a bit steep, but consider part of the payment as going toward this awesome promotional video:
  • Jens Lekman has a new song out, “The End of the World is Bigger than Love.” It’s typically epic, heartbroken and charming. Lekman also releases a mixtape, “A Summer in 3/4 Time” [.mp3]. Some more background on Chromewaves.
  • After much urging and promotion from the likes of Brad and The DP, I snagged the new Versus album. And it is as fun and awesome as those Merge fanboys say it is :-)
  • Speaking of Merge, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the new Arcade Fire album. I’m not an Arcade Fire fangirl (true confession: “Neon Bible” is still in the shrinkwrap, though I listen to “Intervention” on iTunes a lot), but I snagged it from Amazon MP3 for $3.99 and was pleasantly surprised. Probably their most accessible (is that a dirty word?) record yet, and very well crafted.
  • I finally acquired the best of The Alarm. I recommend you did the same. They are much more than “The Stand.”
  • Josh Rouse has releases a new live EP, “El Turista en la Radio,” for free download.

AROUND THE WEB

IN THE NEWS

  • An awesome Facebook post by Hallelujah the Hills the other day: “Dear bands & musicians, do you have recordings of songs without any vocals on them? I’ll make up melody, lyrics, and record vocals on them if you send them to me. If I get enough tracks we’ll put out an album for free online. Send to band AT hallelujahthehills dot com.”
  • Fast Company provides some interesting data on “The State of Internet Music on YouTube, Pandora and Facebook.” Thoughts: 1) Fans/followers/friends are important, sure, but what are theydoing for the musicians they are fanning/following/friending? 2) I totally buy YouTube > Apple when it comes to music, because iTunes isn’t a social or a learning platform; it’s purely a purchasing platform. 3) I’ve never gotten into Pandora — I have other recommendation engines that are more human that work for me. I’m sure it’s great for some, but just not me.
  • Cassettes are back! Obvs. So glad I still have my 5 disc CD changer with dual cassette deck that I bought in 1999 — the thing is practically a hipster recording studio, nowadays.
  • Hello Music is a service that connects musicians with “real industry opportunities.” Not sure how useful it is, since most of the entries read “[Song] by [band] is now in rotation on the Unsigned & DIY station on Yahoo! Radio,” but in this Bandcamp era, it’s nice to see one more option for artists trying to make it on their own steam.
  • Rdio, the music streaming service by the creators of Skype, is out of invite-only mode and live to the world. For just $5 a month on your computer ($10 on your smartphone), you can have access to a streaming equivalent of your music collection.  Seems like a good option if you want to listen to your own music at work or on the go. However, I own an iPod and listen to KEXP, so, I have no need for Rdio (yet).
  • It’s no replacement for the mix CD (and it’s more expensive), but file this under nice-to-know: you can purchase and send an iTunes playlist to a friend, so long as all of the songs are available in the iTunes store.

SECOND THOUGHTS

The Boston Phoenix’s On the Download blog linked to this video from Lollapalooza of Lady Gaga crowdsurfing during some crappy band’s side stage set.

The video itself is pretty uninteresting, as such things go, but one thing caught my attention. Of everyone in the crowd who had their arms outstretched, the majority of them were clutching cellphones and cameras. It depressed me.

Of the crowd shots I’ve seen from stadium and festival concerts over the years — Woodstock ’94 and ’99, other Lollapaloozas, Glastonbury, you name it — what has always impressed me is the sea of people, arms raised in exultation, reaching out to grab the moment. No matter how far they are from the stage, they are always reaching up, reaching out, trying to hold on to ecstasy one note longer.

But here, at Lollapalooza, with Lady Gaga’s barely attired flesh passing just above their heads, so many of those hands clenched devices to record the moment, and so many eyes were trained on the LCD screens of those devices, making sure the moment was in frame, clicking the shutter or hitting record.

But there she is! Lady Gaga! The experience is happening right next to you, right above you. Reach out and touch it — it’s right there.

But your hands and eyes are removed from the experience. You’ll have amazing media later, but is that a memory? Is that sweat on your palm, or a bruise to the temple you’ll be bragging about for days? What are you really holding on to?

Take Five

Second Thoughts

I always rue my hasty decisions.

Back in the day (“the day” being college), I loved Josh Rouse. I drank up the singer-songwriter-y glory of his first two albums, “Dressed Up Like Nebraska” and “Home.” I still remember seeing him live at the Middle East Upstairs — was that my first solo rock show? — and him complimenting my old R.E.M. Tourfilm shirt. Then, he relocated to Barcelona, and the heavy Spanish influences slipping into his music didn’t appeal as much to me. So I slipped off the Josh Rouse radar, and actually ended up selling a few of his more recent albums.

Then yesterday, while driving back from Connecticut, I heard a recent song of his on WERS, “I Will Live on Islands.” And I really, really enjoyed it. I Am Fuel, You Are Friends has some interesting thoughts on Rouse (plus some more MP3s), obviously exhibiting more patience and worldiness than myself on the matter.

Spinner has a free MP3 of the song, so check it out. And watch this La Blogotheque video of Rouse in his adopted environs:

Around the Web

This weekend, I lost my Foursquare mayorship of Newbury Comics. On the other hand, I earned Foursquare mayorship of Planet Records.

I know what you’re thinking. “Groan. Foursquare. Stop talking about Foursquare! Who cares that you’re at the grocery store and you got a badge for it? Not me!”

I won’t go on about web-ly things (that’s for my other blog), but I will say that everyone freaking out about the uselessness of Foursquare needs to calm down. All it is, for me, is a casual gaming overlay for my everyday life. It’s not going to make or break anything, but for an average person, it can be a bit of fun. And for businesses, there is definitely a potential — if well executed — to use it to take advantage of consumer loyalty.

So, whither record stores, the notoriously dying breed? When I got the notification that I lost my mayorship of Newbury Comics, I was genuinely disappointed. In fact, I made a point of visiting Newbury Comics just to check in and begin the process of reclaiming my mayorship. (And I ended up buying the Waterboys’ “This is the Sea,” since in my weird brain, that would justify the check-in. Plus, I wanted the album anyways.)

When I earned my mayorship of Planet Records, one of the last vanguard of standalone used CD/record shops, I was excited. Why? Because I felt more invested. Earning that meaningless, imaginary title upon stopping by to purchase Warren Zevon’s “Excitable Boy” tethered me more closely to the store, and will probably make me more likely to stop by and browse when I’m next in Harvard Square. Sure, you can say that mayorships and check-ins and what not aren’t real. But maybe they are.

CD stores, particularly used CD stores, face hefty competition from the likes of Amazon.com and iTunes, let alone regional chains like Newbury Comics. Is there a way stores like Planet Records could use something like Foursquare to stand out? After all, loyalty and community are often what is keeping places like Planet going, and services like Foursquare are built around those very principles. (This analysis by one consulting firm highlights using social media to capitalize on a sense of community as one tactic for used CD stores to regain lost ground.)

Foursquare, for all of its virtual goofiness, is grounded in real-life, brick-and-mortar transactions and events. And brick-and-mortar institutions like Planet Records are ones I would like to see stick around for a long time. Let’s see what happens when two worlds collide.

Second Thoughts, Part Two

I have to admit: I bristled a bit upon reading Frank Yang’s recent post about the New Pornographers, wherein he lauds their most recent album “Together” as a “rebound” following the “staid” and “disappointing” “Challengers.” For the record, I absolutely adored “Challengers,” in part because of its indulgence in thoughtfulness and reflection. I couldn’t help it. Those types of songs appeal to me deeply. It’s what makes songs like “The Bleeding Heart Show” and “These are the Fables” among my all-time favorite NP songs. But even Carl Newman admits that “Challengers” faced a backlash because it went so sharply in that direction.

But “Together,” as Yang explains, hearkens back to the jubilant, frenetic pop of “Electric Version.” It is arguably the fullest realization of the NPs to date, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that “Challengers,” which I adore, was likely a transitional aberration. And after some initial resistance, I am remembering that even “Challengers” was a grower on me, and I am embracing “Together” for what it is.

Relatedly, the New Pornographers’ Kathryn Calder is coming out with a solo album this summer. Stereogum has the details and a free track.

Live Music

I can’t go due to a previous commitment, but I urge you (if you’re around Boston) to go to the debut show in the Mixtape: Boston’s Year in Rock series this Saturday at the Rosebud in Davis. The series kicks off with a fine year, 1993, and features The Luxury, The Rationales, St Helena and Exile in Somerville (members of Apple Betty, Kingsley Flood, Dark Martini & the Dirty Olives, The So-So’s) covering songs from that era. Go go go go go.

Finds of the Week