Tag Archives: pernice brothers

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…


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.


  • 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.



  • 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.


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: The Digest Returns!

We’re back! I got some feedback that people missed the Take Five digests — and I did, too — so I’ve decided to try to alternate feature posts with digest posts. Should make for better digests. Also, welcome to any new readers I picked up when my list of the best songs of 2010 (so far) got featured on the WordPress.com homepage. Thanks, everyone, for reading!

In the News

Amanda Palmer. Not so much a topic of news as a force of nature, really. I’m not in the AFP cult, but I’ve noticed a couple of cool things she’s been up to, and I had to share.

She wrote a really great blog post after Lady Gaga’s shows in Boston, talking about how Gaga can help convince people that being authentic — even if authentic means totally off-your-nut weird — is OK, and can even be a pathway to success.

and then i think….maybe lady gaga can be like a gateway drug to the teenagers of the world…through her they may find a voice, a liberation, a david bowie record.

most importantly, a PERMISSION. i imagine a totally isolated and confused kid in the outskirts of suburban nevada who has never seen life outside of a shopping mall seeing gaga doing her hijinks and thinking:
this is what the world needs – artists who, no matter what their personal path may be, will inspire other people to reach deeper, try harder, be more authentic.

Speaking of authenticity, Palmer recorded a short EP of Radiohead covers. Performed by her. On a magical ukelele. You can download the digital version for a minimum of $.84, but the limited-edition vinyl already sold out. In fact, she sold $15,000 of merchandise in just three minutes and 4,000 copies of the EP on the day of its release. (Too bad that came a few weeks before Bandcamp instituted revenue sharing.) The EP is actually quite good — definitely worth $.84, and probably a bit more.


Find of the Week

  • Ah, WERS, you’ve done it again. This time, it was by playing “Grindstone” by Jackie Greene, an bluesy singer-songwriter hailing from California. That led to me acquiring his new album, “Till the Light Comes,” which came out last month.
  • So, er, it’s not from this week, but a few weeks ago, I was in JP and eating lunch at City Feed when I found the July copy of Counter the Cultural Compass, a one-page music zine chock full of information about local shows. It looks like it just started up this spring. I’m not sure its distribution reaches as far north of the Charles as I am, but I hope to scrounge up future copies. Good stuff.
  • Also, my mixes from the Grinding Tapes mix project finally came in the mail. Yay! I’ve only listened to one so far, an “oldies” mix featuring Kansas, Judy Garland, Stevie Wonder, The Buggles, Peter Gabriel, The Turtle, Soft Cell, and Marvin Gaye, among others. A surefire recipe for awesome. More reviews to come.

Around the Web

  • Never thought I’d get pitched via Last.fm, but there you go. That was how I found out about The Sharp Things raising money for their new album via Kickstarter. The Sharp Things produce a great brand of epic, orchestral pop, and judging by their description — “full-on on rawk songs, plaintive heartwrenchers and its signature lush stuff” — this new album should be pretty great.

New Releases

Well, it looks like Guster is coming out with a new album, “Easy Wonderful,” on Oct. 5. I’ve been a huge fan since college and have loved every one of their albums — except their last one, “Ganging Up on the Sun,” which was downright awful.  I would rather listen to howling monkeys run their nails across a chalkboard than listen to the trite, droning mess that is the single from that album, “Satellite.”

Err, yeah. So, new album! Here’s hoping it doesn’t suck. You can download the track “Bad, Bad World” from their website for the cost of an e-mail address. Good news: it shows more signs of life than “Satellite.” Bad news: Ryan Miller still sounds kind of bored. I wonder if they plan on reprising the great experiment of having Brian Rosenworcel write songs. Because on “Keep it Together,” that ruled.

Take Five

Find of the Week

Thanks to a tip from Ryan of Ryan’s Smashing Life, I grabbed the most recent Static of the Gods album “Knowledge Machine” free from their Bandcamp site. I am listening to it as I type, and while I had been unfamiliar with the band before, I am absolutely loving them now. Appropriate parts shimmer, grandeur and pop-rock splendor. Jen Johnson’s powerful lead vocals really drive the record — imagine Karen O with a smidge of Asobi Seksu’s Yuki Chikudate, and a little Emily Haines snarl thrown in for good measure.

The bad news is, it’s no longer available for free. The good news is, it’s still awesome and at $8, worth the download. Plus, they’re playing June 25 at the Middle East Upstairs. In the meantime, have a listen.

New Releases

  • This week, I picked up the new Pernice Brothers, “Goodbye, Killer,” and the new We Are Scientists, “Barbara.” I highly recommend following @ashmont on Twitter — Pernice’s manager (and co-author) Joyce Linehan — if you want an ongoing backchannel to your listening experience (and to experience in real-time the barbs that led to the companion book “Pernice to Me“). Want to preview the album? You still have a few days to do so for free via Spinner.
  • Amazon MP3 offered a deal earlier this week — the new Mates of State cover album, “Crushes,” for $2.99. That deal has since ended, but the 10-song set is still available for affordable download at a tidy $5.99. Artists covered include Fleetwood Mac, Tom Waits, Dear Nora and Girls.

Live Music

Freedy Johnston is playing in Somerville on Saturday night, at the Rosebud in Davis Square. A year ago, on June 17, 2009, I saw Freedy Johnston for the first time, also in Somerville, after nearly 15 years of waiting. The show blew my mind. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. I am unsure if I’m able to make it to this Saturday’s show, but you should definitely go. Brett Rosenberg will be opening. It’s $12. And when it comes to singer-songwriters, Freedy Johnston is a living legend, no exaggeration. Go.

Around the Web

In the News

Brad Searles pointed this article out to me — Michael Chabon’s essay “Tragic Magic: Reflections on Power Pop,” originally published in McSweeney’s #33. It’s a compelling examination of Big Star as exemplar of power pop, while also explaining what exactly what defines that genre:

True power pop is rueful and celebratory at the same time, glorifying desire and frustration, which is why so many power-pop songs concern themselves with the subject of Tonight, or Tomorrow Night, or Saturday Night, or some other night that will only be perfect for as long as it can be deferred.

Bonus: Second Thoughts

Stay tuned next week for the beginning of something special!